Sunday, November 25, 2012

Special Internet IDs?


Last week I read a headline in my Google Reader that had me more than a little worried: Special IDs planned for net user to curb attacks. It immediately had me worried about the potential privacy issues this could bring up. Who would handle these IDs? How would then be issued? What data would be collected and attached to them? How long would that data be stored? How will it be secured? What would it be used for and by whom? Also isn’t there already a way to ID devices on the internet, you know the IP address system?

Now I hadn’t read the article yet but already I had a bunch of questions about it? I clicked on the link and quickly browsed the article. I was in class so I quickly saved it for future reading and downloaded the key report mentioned in the article, the Kenya Security Report 2012 by Serianu, an IT services and business consulting firm.

So I’ve finally read the article and the report and can finally talk about them with a little bit of knowledge. I think, being a computer science student, I can talk about these things with a little bit of authority.

First I’ll start with the report. 32 pages long, and a very obvious way to market Serianu, it provides numbers and statistics on various threats on our country’s internet and computers. For instance it claims that about 80% of IP addresses in Kenya have poor reputation scores because of spam. I won’t argue about the numbers in the report since I can’t really dispute them. However, I have gone over the report myself and have a couple of things to say about it.

Firstly, well done to Serianu for actually taking time to come up with report, whatever their motives. I’m a firm believer in data driven legislation when it comes to computers and the internet, and this report, and others like it, can be used to inform the government on exactly how far the law can help in preventing crimes and where it would be over reach.

Secondly, at the end of every section they give recommendations on avoiding and preventing various threats. While all very valid I can sum most of them down to just one phrase, “DON’T BE STUPID!”. That phrase if applied in its entirety could probably prevent over 90% of system breaches, hacks and malicious software. Recommendations like use firewalls, patch your system, use secure passwords, update your antivirus regularly and limit the number of people who have access to databases and other files by using privileges all fall under this simple rule.

Finally I felt that the report only had one mistake of omission, under the sections talking about spamming and the one of malicious software it fails to mention that one of the main reasons botnets and viruses are so prevalent in Kenya is the fact that a very small percentage of the population uses genuine software. The reasons for this are for another post but every computer admin of any sort worth his salt knows that non-genuine software has the high potential to come with security holes. I use a genuine copy of Windows on my PC and every time I connect to the net it patches and updates itself from Microsoft’s servers, this is not possible with fake Windows. The report should’ve mentioned that the use of counterfeit software was one of the main reasons virus are so wide spread.

Now on to the article in the Business daily. After reading it I found that headline very misleading. The government isn’t issuing ID for net users but rather want to have a local Public Key Infrastructure (PKI). This would enable users of basically insecure public networks (like the internet) to securely and privately exchange data and money through the use of a public and a private Cryptographic key pair that is obtained and shared through a trusted authority. Read more about it here. The government wants to move the process locally to reduce costs to businesses working online. That headline should have been something like “Government makes moves to secure online transactions locally”

It would behoove journalists and editors to ensure their headline their articles not to cause sensation but inform.

Now to end things on a light note here are two pictures from one of my favourite web-comics xkcd on security that should put things in real perspective for you.

Finally, read my other post about the government’s plans to play big brother on the internet here. Peace!!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Pressure

I gave my editor a bunch of topics I wanted to write on; things that float around in my head that could be posts if I thought about them long enough. The whole idea was to have a constant pool of ideas to pull from and right about. Yeah… in retrospect it now seems like a bad idea because now he's given me a post topic that I'm just not sure how to express though it's my own.

 

If you've been a regular reader of my blog, and I hope most of you are, you know the situation in my family. My parents separated like 5 years back, and it was a little sudden for me. I came home from boarding school and I had a step mother! My dad is an extremely difficult person to deal with; he conned us into staying with him and really mistreated my mother (in my opinion of course) through the whole thing. We were not spared. Not that he beat us up or whatever but still mistreatment in other ways.

 

Anyway, through all that it's become horribly clear to me that I'm the first born. I have responsibilities, implied and stated. I have to find a way to take care of my sisters and brother who follow me. You see, I want a certain lifestyle for my siblings, especially the last born who hasn't really ever enjoyed the stability we did. She was born when we didn't quite have money, then we did but my parents then started fighting ending with my parents' separation.

 

So while I know that my sister and bro who follow me can, and probably will, be able to take care themselves, it's the last born I really want to provide the very best for. She's bright, brilliant even, and extremely talented. I don't want that talent to go to waste, and that requires the best schools money can get. And sometimes I look to the future and the pressure to do so gets to me.

 

If there's one thing I've always been sure of in my life, is that I'll be rich, really really rich. It's something that I've know, that's been a part of me for almost as long as I remember. There are a few people who know me who see this in my future and most people I meet and talk to mention my boundless ambition and drive. I've never doubted I'd make it, until now.

 

I'm in my junior year of college, the future is beckoning its imminent arrival and I wonder if I'll make it. I look at the challenges people have finding jobs or how poor those starting salaries are and I feel like that I may not make it. And if I don't make it I'll have let my baby sis down and she more than anyone deserves everything good this world has to offer.  I can't let her down.

 

Finally there are my own plans. Lofty ones, so lofty if you saw them you may laugh - perhaps one day I'll share them with you - but just one of them, from not so long ago, give you an idea of the loft, was to become the richest man in the world. It didn't, still doesn't, seem like the most difficult thing in the world. I keep thinking just how disappointed I'd be if I couldn't accomplish everything I set out to do.

 

Now I realize most of this is self-imposed pressure and I shouldn't let it get to me but sometimes it does. And when it does I feel like crumbling and then depression hits. My greatest competition has always been myself, the version of myself I see in my head that is. When I tell my mum my fears she always tell me that the future is still far and not to worry too much about it, that I should commit my plans to God. Well, we'll see, check in on my in 10 years and we'll see just how I'm doing. But for now I'll figure out how to deal with it. Peace!!!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Watch Out for the Boys Little Sister.

The other day I was walking with my pals across campus and for some reason my sister came up in the conversation; one of my pals then asked for her number. Of course I told him NO. I know this guy, I know his character and I know how he treats girls. No way would I want my sis around someone like that. This, however, got me thinking: my sis just joined campus, I should really write her a note about the dudes not to date in campus. So in that respect, this is it:

My dearest kid sis,
You've just joined campus and I'm sure you're enjoying yourself as much as you can. I know for a fact that you can take care of yourself without my help, but I've been in campus for a little longer than you and I've been thinking of all the dudes you should avoid or at least not date.

First, avoid any dude who's a player or even has a reputation of being one. These are dudes like mewithout the conscience. Smooth talkers all. Truth doesn't wear a smooth tongue, lies do.Yes, it's wrong to judge people based on reputation, but campuses are small; whether there are 8 thousand students like on mine or 20 thousand like yours there's always something you'll hear about the boys you hang out with and they're probably based on truth. Every girl thinks she'll be the one to change the playing dude, fix him; don't be one of those fools. This is something he has to fix on his own. Stay away.

Second, avoid scruffy looking niggas. This one is simple, if he doesn't have the decency to take care of himself how do you expect him to take care of you? This here includes anyone whose clothes are always dirty or unironed, whose nails aren't clipped(especially those who keep their little finger nails long. Why do that? Picking the dirt out their ears?) and unkempt hair. Pay attention to the shoes, their state says volumes of a man.

Next, any dude who makes sexual innuendos at every opportunity. This is the type of dude who just wants to shag you. All he thinks about is sex. You don't want that.

Performers. Smooth motherfuckers these ones. Confident and charming. Unfortunately you're probably not the only one enamored by their work and they may take advantage of that fact. I espeacially don't trust guitar players: strumming and serenading bastards. I don't trust you'll be the only one he'll be giving private performances to.

Villagers. University attracts all kinds, including people who don't know how to handle forks and spoons or know what a urinal is. Avoid these. It's just embarrassing and you know that I'll diss you heavily for it.

Any dudes who thinks your place is to cook, clean and wash. You know you were raised in a home where none of that was ever just your job. I don't think you'd be happy with such a guy. He probably won't show you his true colours immediately, but there'll be hints. Watch for them and run for the hills when you spot them. It pains me to see girls on campus who allow their boyfriends to treat them like that. You're both students, you both have shit to do.

Any dude with a baby mama. First, it shows that he didn't care enough to protect himself and his partner or worse he lets passion rule him. Second, you know from personal experience the stress baby mamas can bring on a relationship. Run, run away.

Finally, sugar daddies. Sure it's cool that he has the money to throw at you, it makes you feel special and you are comfortable while in school. But most of these have families they go to each night. They also probably have other girls besides you. That means a very high possibility of disease. Stay away from them!!! But this is one category I'll remind you of something mother always tells us, "If you're going to having a sugar daddy, get one and milk him for everything he has. Be clever about it. If he gets you a car it had better be a BMW not a Vitz. Let him buy you a house in Karen not put you up in a ka-rental in Buruburu for 20k. If you’re going to sin, SIN BIG!”

Of course there are other dudes to avoid and I’m sure you’ll be able to figure them out by yourself. These are just the ones I can think of now and they’re the most common on campus. You probably didn’t need my advice but that’s what big bro’s are there for; giving you advice you don’t need. Whatever you do though, no matter which dude you choose, I’m your big bro and I am, and will always be, here for you.
Your loving brother,
 Cdooh


That’s a note I dropped on my sis. Are there any dudes you feel I left out? Got something to say? Sound off in the comments below. Peace!!!