October 26, 2006
Hacker Claims to Have Cracked iPod Restrictions
22-year-old Jon Lech Johansen claims to have cracked the code on ipod playback restrictions. Currently, music bought on itunes can't be played on any brand of music device besides ipods and music bought by other services cannot be put onto ipods. He believes that he has found a way around these restrictions, and is planning to have an unnamed company make music bought off other services to be playable on ipods.
Johansen became famous when he was only 15 by posting a software that unlocks the Content Scrambling System, which producers of DVDs used to prevent illegal copying. I think it is incredible that at only 15 and now 22 years old this young man has been able to hack his way into these systems which I'm sure that tons of people older than him have spent hours going over and over to ensure that nothing like this happened.
Obviously Apple is going to put up a fight and try to stop this from getting out, but Johansen has been speaking with lawyers and is fairly confident of the legality of his actions. When he hacked into the DVD system, he was charged with data-break in but was acquitted. It's hard to believe that something like this could actually be legal. Another thing I found interesting was that he has become a strong supporter of open-sources and believes that software code should be freely available for sharing and inspection.
October 25, 2006
Today's Hackers: Firewalls just aren't cutting it anymore
Everyone has heard of hackers, identity theft, and other various security breaches; therefore the majority of people have taken the standard steps of firewalls, secured wireless networks, and basic encryption techniques. Is this enough? Not anymore. The article How to hacker-proof your business informed me of a multitude of different hacking methods -- most of which I was unaware of.
The article featured prevention tips on all forms of hacking (from digitally penetrating a database to physically digging around in dumpsters). The more traditional, computer-savvy types of hacking can be easily intercepted by one simple step: ENCRYPTION. However, the focus of the article was more on fending off the new, avant-garde methods of hacking; "the glory days of the lone hacker toiling away in his bedroom are a thing of the past." Some of the methods I found most interesting were aquiring citizens' social security numbers by reading the HTML of a county court website, and employees being tricked into revealing log-on and password information by accidentally attempting to access an "evil twin" network. The list goes on with a variety of creative tactics of which the majority are targeted at businesses.
Prevention is key. Most breaches are easily preventable and far more cost efficient that trying to recover after the damage is done. The most important and obvious advice is use common sense and caution. A USB key-drive can easily be slipped into a pocket and information gone forever, so in addition to backing up to data, go the extra mile and get an encrypted one. Password complexity is another interesting point. Firms are forcing employees to make complicated passwords with various symbols and capitalization which must be changed quite frequently; this can lead to people writing the password down on a sticky note and keeping it right near the computer. Now lets think, what exactly is the purpose of this overly comlicated password if it's in perfect sight?
These are factors so simple that they just get over-looked in the big picture. Keeping an eye on simple things like these can prevent thousands of dollars spent on recovering from a breach-- not to even mention the potential loss of customers due to the breach. The simple measures this article presents seem to be the most beneficial. I understand firewalls and encryption are necessary, but who is to say that since people can come up with such powerful encryption techniques, people cannot come up with equally powerful ones to break them?
October 24, 2006
Yahoo Looking to buy Facebook?
As advertisers seek new media, that is, something extremely new and exciting a year or so ago that hasn't yet been co-opted by advertisers, many large companies have turned to the internet. Some have experienced more success than others, but the interesting thread that we're starting to see is that it seems like the best ideas develop organically and not developed by the companies that end up owning them.
Case in point: MySpace. What started as a networking site for local bands has now turned into one of the hottest sites on the internet for just about anything. As of now, it is partly owned by Fox, who is using it extensively to promote its new shows, such as It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia or Prison Break.
And Prison Break's site doubles as an Ad for Toyota, which is, of course, featured heavily in the show.
This all brings me to the article in question. What is it about The Facebook that attracts Yahoo? And what is it about The Facebook that attracts Yahoo to the somewhat ridiculous tune of $1billion? (With a "b!")
Well, for one, Google just dropped that sort of cash to obtain YouTube (which, in my opinion, spells doom for YouTube, but I'll pontificate on that later.) In spite of any predictions of doom, YouTube does have a very Google-istic existence: its name is synonimous with its function, it is relatively simple, and it sucks down massive quantities of bandwidth a day. Oh, nevermind the fact that Google's own video application is failing and this will pretty much save that. (Maybe.) And having that asset on its side really does give Google a whole gigantic new userbase to which it can peddle its ads.
So for Yahoo, the answer has to be the large new userbase it can call its "ad viewers." But The Facebook offers so much more to Yahoo: it offers an extension of Yahoo's new marketing direction - the homepage tailored to you. They just redid their page and guess what - they're not just a search engine anymore. They've still got the functionality, but Google's got the marketshare. So with the acquisition of The Facebook (if Yahoo did it), they would effectively renew themselves in the eyes of many of their users.
At first I would have questioned whether or not the Fox acquisition of MySpace would continue to provide MySpace's users with a reason to use the site - after all, if it were way too commercial, people might be jaded by the whole thing - and on a site born from independant bands, this problem might have been compounded. But it seems like everything is going ahead without a problem - MySpace is still popular and Fox is largely out of their hair.
I think that The Facebook could have the same success if Yahoo were to buy it - as long as Yahoo left it largely unchanged (seeing as though Facebook's users seem to cry loudly and en masse whenever there is a change.)
...All from section 3. Group #81.
October 05, 2006
1. In spite if the security risks, do many companies use wireless networks in their workplace to accomodate employees with laptops? It seems as though wireless networks get a bad rap for being less secure and bleeding out into the open past your office's walls, but allowing users to bring their laptops in might allow them to be more productive.
2. The new wireless format, MIMO (or "802.11n") is in "draft" status. What does this mean, and what are the current shortcomings of wireless "n" that hold it back?
3. What is a dot-clock rate in terms of monitor specifications? My monitor just died and I had to go to CompUSA to get a new one, and I had no idea what a dot-clock rate was, or what number was desirable.
4. What are the advantages offered by 64-bit processors today or in the future? I see that they're prevalent in new computers, but at the current time, it doesn't seem to matter whether you have one or not.
5. How does flash memory differ from traditional storage? My mp3 player has flash memory and I wondered what that meant. What are the capacity constraints and how does it perform compared to something like what an ipod has?
6. Is there a difference between multiple core processors and systems with multiple single-core processors? As far as speed or efficiency goes, I see that certain (usually older) Macs have multiple single-core processors as opposed to the new "Duo" ones which I assume are within the same chip.
7. What does it mean when a server crashes? I know it is a malfunction but I don't know what causes it.
8. Why are there so many different ways to encode a song? (mp3, wav. …) I was trying to convert all my music into mp3 format and had an extremely difficult time because there are dozens of different types and I see no use for anything other than one universal code.
9. Why do laptop batteries eventually die after only a year and a half or two years? This happened to two of us, and of course, replacements are extremely expensive.
10. How often do hard drives crash, and what is the most common cause? Again, this has happened to members of the group and always ends up being extremely inconvenient and unexpected.