January 16, 2013
Having a functional computer links me to the rest of the world without me having to leave the comfort of my home. I assume it does the same for readers since this is only available either via email or on the web. So we are all using the Internet to communicate.
I don't know what the percentage of private users is, but I'm sure that even small businesses in industrialized countries and large business worldwide, along with governments across the globe have some Internet access. We are used to having computers doing so much for us and while we know there is some risk involved, it seems worth it.
Last fall, South Carolina had a security breach and much of our personal data was compromised. The state has offered us, free of charge, credit reports and some monitoring to test for identity theft.
We like to think that at least the Big Guys can afford to have adequate security measures in place and have a way to protect all the data in their care. However, I just read about some place in Canada losing a hard drive, so even with the best of intentions, there are always accidents (idiots?).
Securelist.com reported on operation "Red October" and from what I can understand of this far too technical article, we have a problem. I don't mean we, as in the US, I mean we as in the world. The shortened term for the campaign is Rocra.
This has been going on for at least five years and diplomatic networks, government and scientific research facilities, and intelligence data gathering entities have all been attacked via mobile devices, computer systems, and network equipment.
Kaspersky Lab has been analyzing data for the last several months and found that malware is attacking specific organizations, mostly in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. However, countries outside this region, including Western Europe, parts of South American and Africa, and Australia, along with the US have been attacked.
The eight main categories of targets: government, diplomatic/embassies, research institutions, trade and commerce, nuclear/energy research, oil and gas companies, aerospace, and military.
Kaspersky found out about the problem when an anonymous entity supplied samples of data last October. Since that time, they have found several hundred infected computers but are fairly certain there are far more out there not yet identified. The Russian Federation has the most known infections with 35, there are six more countries with ten or more, and thirteen more with between five and ten. The US has six identified infections.
There is only speculation about who is behind this attack but there are two known factors. The exploits appear to be Chinese in origin and the Rocra malware modules have been created by Russian-speaking operatives. At this point in time, there is no evidence that it is a State sponsored attack. Having said that, some of the data stolen is geopolitical and can be sold on the black market to the highest bidder, anywhere.
The malware performs either "persistent" or "one-time" tasks, depending on how it is executed. There are methods to steal data from phones, with Windows Mobile, iPhone, and Nokia the systems found to be vulnerable.
There are over 1000 malware modules in 30 different categories created between 2007 and 2013. A list is included at the link. Kaspersky is working with government organizations and law enforcement as well as other international computer security organizations to help contain the threat.
I know it is a dangerous world out there and that bad guys will always try to do the bad stuff with the good guys chasing them down and trying to make them stop. This is, however, a bit more than I thought was going on.
Do you feel your data is well-protected? Do you have any opinions on what should happen to hackers? Does it matter if they call themselves hactivists instead and purport to be doing this for our own good?
I'm hoping I understood the article well enough to have shared the gist of the thing with our readers. If you found my interpretation to be in error, please feel free to correct me. I speak a bit of geek, but this was a highly technical article and in some places over my head.
How do we keep the world safe when there is always somebody willing to sell us all down the river for a few bucks?
Isn't it worth $1 a month to you to keep RGQ in your mailbox? Please click the link and direct your contribution to keep RGQ going.Today's Quotes
I am a Ford, not a Lincoln. My addresses will never be as eloquent as Mr. Lincoln's. But I will do my very best to equal his brevity and his plain speaking. - Gerald R. Ford
The kindest word to describe my performance in school was Sloth. - Harrison FordToday's Chuckle
Give What You Can
A driver was stuck in a traffic jam on the highway outside Washington DC. Nothing was moving. Suddenly, a man knocks on the window. The driver rolls down the window and asks, "What's going on?"
"Terrorists have kidnapped Congress, and they're asking for a $100 million dollar ransom. Otherwise, they are going to douse them all in gasoline and set them on fire. We are going from car to car, collecting donations."
"How much is everyone giving, on average?" the driver asks.
The man replies, "Roughly a gallon."Life Sentences
I kissed my first girl and smoked my first cigarette on the same day. I haven't had time for tobacco since.
God tells me how the music should sound, but you stand in the way.
Can't you read? The score demands "con amore," and what are you doing? You are playing it like married men! all from Arturo Toscanini, Italian conductor who died on this day in 1957
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Speak right up!Cliff's Notes
If you watch the commercials and infomercials on television, there are only a few things highlighted. Food, what it consists of, and the results from eating it is one of the biggest topics. The results are especially interesting to many people.
As a youth, I was always quite thin. I played the Sousaphone in the marching band, and I had many comment that the instrument probably outweighed me. Other comments were that I looked like an arrow going through a ring. I couldn't help it. I was what I was.
Later, after school, I was in the military. In boot camp, the goal is to get the recruits into shape. Being a runner and active in sports, I was already in decent shape. I surely didn't need to lose weight like most of my compatriots. As it worked out, the total of my 135 pound bulk didn't change the whole time I was there.
Like many, after I got married, I put on significant weight. I don't know why. The food didn't change as dramatically as my bulk did. I shot up to 155 pounds. That became my normal for a good while until circumstances changed. An accident curtailed my activities totally. I went from an avid soccer player/coach/referee, to a literal invalid. I danged near doubled my weight. I topped out at 225 pounds.
As I came to grips with the new me, I began to focus on getting my weight back to a level where it wasn't creating additional issues for me. No matter how hard I tried, my physical situation combined with my appetite, I hovered around 200 pounds, even though it was way too heavy for my frame. I couldn't go to a gym, like "normal" people. My options were limited.
Surgery eventually helped me overcome my disability. Slowly, I was able to become more active in things I enjoyed, although my age and physical circumstances would not allow me to get back into the things I had once enjoyed. I found other avenues to be active. I found I could go hiking, climbing and rowing in a game called Geocaching, but doing so at a speed that fit me. Although I have been doing this for only 3 years, people who have not seen me in a long time have commented they see a change in me, especially my weight.
I have been quite active in the game, to the point of finding almost 15,000 caches in that period of time. Many required a significant hike, or some extra effort, physically, to accomplish them. I often pushed myself beyond my comfort range in getting from the car to the cache, which may have been a long hike, or a high climb ahead.
Today, I had the opportunity to get weighed with some decent scales. I am now in the 170's range. I'm still quite bulky as my optimal weight is around the 155 pounds I had been way back when. I doubt I'll ever be 155 again, nor is it a goal. I'm feeling better in the 170's, so I'll just keep doing what I'm doing and let it things go the way they have been.
Here's your quiz:
Have you had a struggle with weight, too high or too low, at any point?
Have you found a regimen that worked for you to get closer to your goal?
Would your optimal weight be higher or lower than your current weight?
Weight - Always A Focal Point
Cliff (the High-Tech Redneck who doesn't rate a fancy 'signature pic')Kirsten's Krazy Kaleidoscope
"Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere."
~ Chinese Proverb ~
Do you ever have those moments where you ask yourself what on earth you were thinking? I've been having a few of those moments lately.
Many of you know that I have a very busy life. Full-time job, long commute, special needs parenting, typical kid parenting, running, helping out with the husband's business, and the daily grind of cooking, cleaning, laundry. On a good day, I go to bed sometime between 11:30 and midnight, and wake up at 6:00 - or earlier, if I'm planning a run.
I don't really have time to take on anything else. I have many balls in the air, and from time to time they all come crashing down.
Why, then, did I decide to go back to school?
It has been almost 20 years since I last had formal education of any kind, and like I said, time is not exactly abundant.
But I am excited. I have enrolled in a post-graduate writing certificate, which I will be doing online through Berkeley. My ultimate goal is to enroll for a Masters degree. I love to write and I want to get better at it. If I can get myself some credentials along the way, so much the better.
And so I am officially pursuing my education again, at the ripe old age of - well, never mind my ripe old age. A part of me thinks I'm insane. But a bigger part of me feels good about the fact that I am finally pursuing a dream.
Wish me luck - this might be a wild ride.
Lucille wasn't able to write today.Poet-Tree
Odds and Ends -
Fun facts - Ancient Egyptians slept on pillows made of stone. A hippo can open its mouth wide enough to fit a 4 foot tall child inside. A quarter has 119 grooves on its edge, a dime has one less groove. A hummingbird weighs less than a penny. Until 1796, there was a state in the United States called Franklin. Today it is known as Tennessee. The flashing warning light on the cylindrical Capitol Records tower spells out HOLLYWOOD in Morse code. Every time you lick a stamp, you're consuming 1/10 of a calorie. The average person has over 1,460 dreams a year. One in every 4 Americans has appeared on television. The average American will eat about 11.9 pounds of cereal per year. Over 1,000 birds a year die from smashing into windows. The State of Florida is bigger than England. Ants stretch when they wake up in the morning. What - their little feelers get stiff?
No submissions this issue - use the same line -
Next Line - There once was a cop with no gun ...
Hints: Here's a great new rhyming/composition tool. http://www.writerhymes.com/
; There's also a great rhyming dictionary at http://www.rhymezone.com/
; Limerick rules. http://freespace.virgin.net/merrick.sheldon/limerickrules.htm ;
Dumb laws in parts of Florida-
"In Sarasota, it is illegal to sing in a public place while attired in a swimsuit."
"Having sexual relations with a porcupine is illegal."
"Failure to tell your neighbor his house is on fire is illegal."
"You may not kiss your wife's breasts."
Re: World Population
Then again, is a billion people really such a bad thing? In a word, Yes. Half the current population would be a huge benefit to Mother Earth. - herm
It is not unusual for a trend line to be headed for zero or infinity. Unless there are clear causes forcing extinction, it is usually self-correcting. Newfoundland has so few species that their populations boom and crash in a steady cycle, but they never hit bottom. Currently, seven billion people are using up resources at a rate that would take several more earths to support. Thus, we are headed for either a "miracle" or a crash. The long-term projection has long been for a peak of ten billion, so one would certainly expect the rate of increase to slow down, as Bruce notes that it has.
Probably the biggest problem with our current cycle is that it is almost entirely based on fossil fuels, for energy, agriculture, and cheap materials. Buckminster Fuller taught that our oil heritage should be used sparingly, like a loan to start a business, to build a technology that depletes nothing. Instead, we have used it to maximize quarterly profits in every possible way, and based our whole monetary system on the reserves of hydrocarbons being short-term assets. Unfortunately, if we don't reduce consumption very quickly, we are likely to make agriculture extremely difficult from climate change, but the Billionaires are not worried about that. They are opportunists, not fit stewards.
We could reach a stable population of ten billiion, but, as Gandhi said, "There is enough for everybody's need, but not for everybody's greed." Just by going vegetarian, we could return half of the farm land to wilderness. By using intensive organic agriculture, employing billions of either people or robots, we can increase yields and restore damaged land.
Birth rates are also a crucial factor, and little understood. Randians try to starve the poor, but that often has the effect of raising birth rates and child labor, as everyone struggles to maintain a secure family. It isn't just that sex is the only entertainment available, kids are a huge improvement too, if there is any chance for them at all. In rich homes, there are lots of options for entertainment even more compelling than children, but the biggest factor in reducing family size is another means of achieving old age security. The current declines in population are also due to our non-organic diet and pollution, which are having major effects on fertility and health. An organic vegetarian diet uses far less resources for food and medical attention, but does add five years to a human life. - Bob of the North
Humanity won't last long enough for man to find out! With natural and man-made disasters occurring more frequently and the continuing disparity of the economy the future looks quite grim. If the world population was half of what it is today we'd all be better off! - Joe from California
Extrapolating a trend by math alone for a hundred years is ridiculous. As long as all the world's nations are interlinked to exchange and manufacture goods, and fewer acres are planted to feed people, and women need to hold down a job to afford to raise a family to include the modern tech stuff and education needs, , fewer babies will be conceived. That is a GOOD thing. With fewer people living in poverty, there should be a decline in anger, too, but an increase in people who want power. Will wars get fewer or more? Who knows. I'd like to see a statistic about whether more boys or girls are born. In my personal family, boys predominated 8 to 2 for about ten years, and now the trend is to girls. Does a huge loss of men in war prompt the birth of boys? How about when a major disaster wipes out thousands of lives, such as happened in Japan? Men still sire babies, but women bear them. Fewer teenagers in America are having babies, according to what I read recently. Does that mean contraceptives are finally starting to be used by these kids? It sure has nothing to do with less early sexual activity. There's a lot of other factors involved than numbers. - Nancy L in Ohio
I cannot figure out why a reduction in population would be a bad thing. Although our infrastructure will be impossible to maintain it looks to me like we have a glorious future. - Richard
Re: Gift Cards
A gift card requires no effort or thoughtfulness by the gift giver. It's a lazy and impersonal gesture. It's like giving cash that can only be spent in one place. - Joe from California
I have redeemed, given and received gift cards. Sometimes as part of a promotion, sometimes given as a gift, and once, one that was won as part of an office raffle. I've used them all, except for a restaurant one that has disappeared, but I think is still hidden in my desk junk. they are great to send through the mail as cash is still a little tricky. Although they are common enough anymore that they are probably stolen as much as cash. I even keep a prepaid Visa card to use for ordering things. It seems that our bank card doesn't like certain companies so we have to use one this way if we order from certain companies. I've even used leftover cash on it at the store. I don't have to worry about losing money then, or writing a check. I don't like that they can be traced as easily as my bank card, but that's the price we pay nowadays for convenience. It's still easier than using a money order, and safer than using a check at times, I've had both get lost in the mail. Gift cards are great to give my grandkids and nieces and nephews. I figure they are always going to fit, are probably the right size, and I don't care what they do with them once they get them! Once they are given, it's their money and none of my business. My oldest daughter even had one when she was in college that we could refill, so I knew she at least had money to eat on. - Ruth in WA
I love gift cards! First thing I do is read the whole label so I know if I have a time limit or not. Then I plan what to get with it so I can shop and find out how much the item costs. We did that last year and accumulated a few cards we could use at one place, and almost paid for a new dishwasher with cards, little cash added!. This spring I will spend the one I got for Christmas on gardening supplies at my favorite nursery. I slide gift cards into my checkbook to stay put until I use them. I figure money should be with money and I won't forget where it is. OH! And the cards I get are for use in places I actually shop. My kids ask before they buy. - Nancy L in Ohio
Re: Bad Week
I pray your mom get well soon - dEE
Much like your own situation, when broken down into component parts, each seems less significant than the overall would suggest, however, there is that "straw" factor. The weight of one straw is insigficiant, but it can break the figurative camel's back. When things seem to gang up on you, it takes more effort to overcome even the mundane things. I hope you and your mom come out of this stronger and healthier. - Cliff
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