Facebook privacy – latest oxymoron – WhiteGate™

The WhiteGate award goes to Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Facebook.

Full article

For those that haven’t read the article, Mark Zuckerberg is referring to all of his Facebook clients as “Dumb Fu##s” for giving him the private information he requires to create an account at Facebook. This occurred when he was a student at Harvard in 2004. When he created Facebook.   This does not address the latest round of privacy erosion that Facebook is perpetrating upon it’s subscribers.

I have a simple response.

I deleted my account on Facebook.

Then I restored it and removed or modified any information I do not want publicized. It takes more effort on the part of Facebook to maintain an account that has erroneous information than it does to truncate a record in their database. It also erodes their credibility with the 3rd parties they sell the erroneous information to.

Data communication – of the IEEE 802 type

There is a lot of confusion and misinformation related to data communication.

An interesting snippet related is that data storage occurs in multiples of 1024 per Kilobit or Kilobyte. Data transmission occurs at 1000 per Kilobit or Kilobyte.

Wired communication is typically IEEE 802.3 in a range of speeds 10, 100, 1000 and 10000 Megabits per second. Abbreviated Mb/s. This is often referred to as Ethernet. 10/100 Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet, and 10 Gigabit Ethernet. Note that 100Mb/s and 100MB/s are different values. Mb is Megabit. MB is Megabyte. A bit is 1/8th of a Byte. A Byte is 8 bits.

Wireless communication is typically IEEE 802.11. 802.11 comes in a few different values also. 802.11a is pretty well obsolete and useless. 802.11b is also pretty useless. 802.11g has a maximum throughput of 54Mb/s and 802.11n has a maximum throughput of 300Mb/s.

MoDems ( an acronymn for Modulate/Demodulate ) communicate at kilobaud rates, not kilobits or kilobytes. Modems are analog devices that connect a computer or other digital device to an analog medium. A baud is the amount of data to create one symbol, but not a bit or a byte.

Any device that connects your computer to a Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) or Cable is not actually a MoDem at all. It is a network bridge. It passes the digital signal of your computer from Ethernet to DSL or Ethernet to RG-58 or even Ethernet to Fibre in some cases. It does not MOdulate or DEModulate the signal. It may multiplex the signal but that’s a story for another day.

Something that often gets overlooked in data communication speed is overhead. No matter what brand or type of hardware, no matter how great the cable or the wireless devices, networks ALWAYS have overhead, some types of networks are more efficient than others. Network layer overhead is the amount of the network capacity that is required to establish and maintain the basics of communication. Typical network layer overhead for IEEE 802.x is twenty percent. The overhead of each PACKET of data sent via Ethernet is 8 percent. There are 2 types of network overhead. A) Protocol Overhead and B) Network Layer Overhead.

A classic example of this in actual use is FTP vs. HTTP for file transfers. FTP is always faster than using HTTP if you are using the same network. FTP does not send a confirmation frame at the end of transmission. HTTP does.

Another commonly maligned term is Bandwidth. Bandwidth is NOT the amount of speed you have available. Bandwidth is the difference between the lowest and highest frequency of the carrier signal. It is a determining factor for the RATE of data flow but not actually the rate of data flow. Think of this as the diameter of the water pipe. The water pipe diameter can determine the maximum flow of water at a given pressure, but it does not determine what the current flow is. It is merely the top end theoretical limiting factor. Bandwidth is measured in hertz. Abbreviated Hz.

Now let’s look at a term called “Goodput”. Goodput is the theoretical maximum taking protocol and network overhead into account. It DOES NOT factor in retransmissions for dropped packets, confirmation packets for TCP, or interframe gap overhead. Goodput on a 100Mb/s Ethernet cable is 12MB/s. You will never actually get that rate of speed from a 100Mb Ethernet connection. Goodput for a Gigabit Ethernet is 120MB/s. Again still a theoretical value. Actual burst rates are usually in the range of 100MB/s for a Gigabit Ethernet connection. Sustained rates often drop to 75MB/s or lower.

These overhead factors effect wired and wireless communication in the same ways.

A 300Mb/s IEEE802.11n connection has a theoretical Goodput rate of 36MB/s. Which is indeed faster than 100Mb/s Ethernet’s Goodput rate of 12MB/s.

So yes, 802.11n can be and typically is faster than 100Mb/s Ethernet. Not as fast as Gigabit Ethernet though.

There are three other major factors to take into consideration when deciding between an 802.3 Network and an 802.11 Network.

1) Security – Hands down 802.3 Wins this point. Even when you employ every security measure possible, 802.11 is not very secure.

2) Price – 802.11 Typically wins this battle by a huge margin. CAT6 cable is not cheap.

3) Mobility – 802.11 ALWAYS wins this point.

We have but one Internet, and yes is has wires in many places. Yes, Internet is a proper noun even.
There is no such thing as Wireless Internet.
I always chuckle when I hear someone in an IT capacity say Wireless Internet, it defines their lack of expertise.

Howto: Securely remove data from a drive.

Many purported security experts believe that reformatting a computer will remove all traces of data. That is just not accurate. Drives can be formatted and reformatted and will still have files that can be easily recovered with the right tools.

There are 2 primary ways to permanently remove data from a hard drive. One is destructive and the other is not destructive.

1) Use a degausser ( powerful electron magnet ) on the drive. This renders the drive completely useless and destroys the drive permanently. This will remove the data permanently. I highly recommend method 2) instead of method 1)

2) If you have Windows XP Pro, Vista Pro, or Windows 7 Pro or higher you can wipe the data from the free spaces on a drive. The first step is to delete the files. Deleting a file does not actually remove it. It merely removes the file entry in the File Allocation Table and removes the first letter of the file name. It also frees the block or blocks of drive space that the file occupied for rewrite. Next up you would open a command prompt and type in cipher /w:C: then press enter. This process will perform a government level wipe of the free space of your C: Drive. It can take several hours for the process to complete. What this does, is overwrite all free space of the drive with 0s, then 1s, then a random hex bit. This does permanantly remove any file that has been deleted. You can also remove individual files explicitly using cipher /w:C:directorynameoffile. Once a file has been wiped using the cipher utility there is no chance that it can ever be recovered by any means. Use with caution.

Security: Buying online while wireless.

Recently there has been a lot of technical buzz from purported security experts related to e-commerce on wireless connections. Their general premise is that a wireless network is not secure, therefore any form of communication on said network is also compromised.

Hogwash and an utter lack of technical expertise abound.

The Facts:

When you connect to an e-commerce web site, such as Amazon, the encryption is performed end point to end point between your web browser and the Amazon web server. Typically this is 1024 bit encryption and does not change whether you are connected via wireless, wired, phone, or satellite. The encryption is initiated by your web browser and replied to by Amazon’s server. When either the Amazon server or your computer do not receive the correct challenge or response during any portion of the transaction, either end will terminate the transaction. The hash of the keys is never broadcast in the data stream. This is a much more complex communication than what occurs between the wireless router and your laptop. Even when you are connected via wireless, this e-commerce transaction is as secure as it will be any other place. This form of secure transaction is so secure that it takes hundreds of very powerful computers and a super computer working in unison, over 90 hours to decipher ONE word of the transaction. There was a time this transaction type was believed to be impervious by some of the same purported security experts from the beginning of the story. NO form of encryption will ever be 100% impervious. There is an algorithm devised by the master mathematician Tesla himself that will break any form of encryption. Time and the computing muscle to carry it out are all that is required. The problem is that the time it takes is often calculated in years. Which is great if you are a consumer and terrible news for the thieves that want to steal your credit card data. Your credit card is more likely to be compromised by the database of the merchant, than via your secure transaction. This can and does happen frequently. It is still a much more secure method of purchasing than when you visit a store in person.

Here are some issues related to wireless connections.

When you connect to a wireless network, the encryption options are 8 bit, 12 bit, 48 bit or in some cases 56 bit AES encryption. In relative perspective, 1024 bit encryption is approximately 18X more powerful. Some wireless networks have the encryption completely disabled. This is a fairly insecure method of communication. It can be subverted by anyone that has the technical expertise in a matter of moments using an average computer. While this is not ideal it does not impact your 1024 bit encrypted transaction in the least. What it can impact, is the security of any files you have stored on your laptop. Any time you use a wireless connection it is never as secure as a wired connection is. The price we pay for convenience.

Ideas to consider when using wireless:

Turn off file shares and file sharing.
Secure your wireless routers as well as they allow for (use WPA2 AES encryption if possible).
If you notice something odd, be wary.
Use a software firewall and updated anti-virus software on each and every computer you use.

NEVER click on a Link in your email for an e-commerce site of any type. EVER. No matter what method you are using to connect.
Always visit a secure website by manually typing in the URL by hand OR buy using a LINK you create with Passwords2GO.
It is very easy for anyone to create a phishing link that looks like the real thing. It may look exactly like the real site when you visit it.
Never leave your laptop unattended.
Be aware that video camera surveillance is everywhere. Having the best password and encryption technology is useless if the keys to the fortress can be seen by untrusted eyes through a camera and yes the camera is powerful enough to zoom in on your laptop while you are in the coffee shop.
Never use passwords like 12345 or 123456. If something is important enough to use a password, use a good long one that is hard to guess.
A good example of a strong password is something like MyS0N1s4teen as opposed to password03.

For those who need an extra level of protection:

Use a flash drive with Passwords2Go software to store all of your data that is of a sensitive nature in encrypted format.
Keep it on your person when you need to, secure it in the vault when you do not.
Use it to create and store separate unique LONG passwords for every web site you log into. Never give anyone, save your beneficiary, your master password for Passwords2GO.

Your email and bank accounts should have their passwords changed frequently and more often than your twitter or facebook accounts.
I change most of my passwords every 30 days. The more critical the data, the more frequent the password change.

Fedora 13 slips another week.

The release schedule for Fedora 13 has been pushed back another week. The current release schedule indicates May 25, 2010 as the release date.

I would much prefer to see a product released well tested than as a beta. Microsoft could learn a lesson from Fedora in this regard.