Friday, June 6, 2014

The "Open Data" Movement Takes Off

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Although the "open data" movement may be new to most of us, it began in 2009.

"At least 39 states and 46 cities and counties have created open-data sites since the federal government, Utah, California and the cities of San Francisco and Washington, D.C., began opening data in 2009, according to the federal site, Data.gov" (Source: http://www.govtech.com/data/Open-Data-Is-Open-for-Business.html).

What does open data do for cities, the federal gov, and commercial concerns?

"Open-data advocates, such as President Barack Obama’s former information chief Vivek Kundra, estimate a multibillion-dollar industry can be spawned by taking raw government data files on sectors such as weather, population, energy, housing, commerce or transportation and turn them into products for the public to consume or other industries to pay for.

"They can be as simple as mobile phone apps identifying every stop sign you will encounter on a trip to a different town, or as intricate as taking weather and crops data and turning it into insurance policies farmers can buy" (Source: http://www.govtech.com/data/Open-Data-Is-Open-for-Business.html).

Let's all ponder the potential here. The question in my mind is "how much data of a personal nature is included in these data depositories being published online for enterprising people and others to utilize for whatever end they so desire?"

Want to do some research or some simple reading on open data? Try this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_Data.


For personal security information and products,
visit www.OhioHootOwl.com.

Copyright©2014/Allan B. Colombo
www.alcolombo.us / al_colombo@hotmail.com
(Permission is given to republish blog posts providing
my contact information and copyright notice are included.)

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Monday, June 2, 2014

Maybe Having a Smart Home Isn't all That Smart

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"Network World - A year ago, people were mostly talking about the potential of the Internet of Things (IoT) — what companies and government entities might do in the future to take advantage of this widespread network of connected objects" (The Internet of Things gets real, Network World, http://bit.ly/1n6ntuC).

The fact is, people were talking about the Internet of Things (IoT) long before a year ago. In the mid- to late-1990s, for example, I was writing about this form of connectivity between machine and service provider/owner in the magazine I worked for as an associate editor (Security Distributing & Marketing).

Internet-Connected Appliances

One of the applications to which IoT lends itself well is that of maintenance updates to a variety of companies with regards to the equipment they sell. Examples include the following:
  • Refrigerators
  • Heating Plants
  • Air Conditioning Units
  • Washing Machines
  • Cloths Dryers
  • Conventional and Microwave Ovens
  • Chillers
  • Electrical Systems
  • Smart Electric Meters
..to name only a few.

A good example of what could take place when your conventional oven develops a problem is that an update of the situation is sent to either the manufacturer or the maintenance company of record over one of the in-house broadband connections. The update would provide important ID information that enables the company to generate a call ticket. You would then be notified of the problem and given an opportunity to have a repairman come to your home or business to fix it.

Back in the 90's, there was talk of including some type of infrared scanning system that would be capable of inventorying all of the foods you keep in your refrigerator. When you are running low, a notice would be sent to you in email, providing you with a shopping list of needs for your use. Or, at the same time, this list could be periodically generated and sent to the grocery store of choice for delivery to the home.

The Danger of Connected Appliances

In the 90's, when we thought of Internet-connected appliances, we thought in terms of Category 5E or Category 5e cabling. Today, all of these devices will connect to the Internet through the WiFi system in our homes and businesses.

Well, other than being irradiated by more radio waves banging around the house, we will come to the stage where your refrigerator can be hacked. We know our computers can be hacked. Recent news stories have revealed that chain stores, banks and the government can be hacked. Cellphones can be hacked, which by the way we pointed out to our readers several years ago. So now we approach the time when your Internet-connected house can be hacked. It seems silly, of course, but the reality is, if your freezer or furnace can be reached through the Internet, it may be that the device you use to control them can be hacked. Which means, as we extend this thought into total paranoia, your passwords could be as vulnerable to a meltdown as your freezer. Will hackers soon be eyeing your fridge?

As most of you know, one of the ploys used by hackers is to get you to respond to an email by clicking on a link or simply replying to an offer. The ensuing information, especially where you reply, carries valuable information that tells the hackers exactly where you are in terms of the World Wide Web. It provides the exact IP address so they can work to enter your home via the network.

Although service providers are not apt to give out your IP to those they do not know, as well to those who have no business having it, this kind of information can fall into the wrong hands by a variety of ways. Any one of these signals can draw the attention of hackers, and even though you may not think this could be destructive, think again.

Hacking Your Appliances

With all the data flowing in and out of your home between the various appliances and those responsible for their on-line care, it's even more likely that hackers can find their way to your home. Once they enter the network through your heat pump, it's possible to penetrate other devices on your network, including your computer.

For example, a hacker who gains access to your furnace could reprogram it. They might change the set points--which is the temperature it comes on and goes off. They might even alter the safety controls that safeguard your home from fire.

Hackers could also enter your refrigerator, perhaps turning it off, adjusting the temperature so it freezes all the food, or they might cause some other combination of undesirable events to take place. At the very least, they would have a complete list of everything you have in it.

Would you allow a stranger off the street to open your front door, walk in, and open your refrigerator door? I didn't think so.


For personal security information and products,
visit www.OhioHootOwl.com.

Copyright©2014/Allan B. Colombo
www.alcolombo.us / al_colombo@hotmail.com
(Permission is given to republish blog posts providing
my contact information and copyright notice are included.)

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Be sure not to miss each and every blog comment by subscribing to my email service. Every time I publish a comment or an update, you will be the first to know. To sign up, enter your email address in the email subscription box on the top right of this page. Thank you! To contact Al Colombo, click here.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

US to Pull Out of ICANN

Recent news reports concerning ICANN has
caused concerns among Internet-free activists.

According to Wall Street Journal technology reporter Gauthem Nagesh, the Obama administration’s move to divorce the United States from ICAN oversight is, in part, related to the damning revelations resulting from the Edward Snowden NSA disclosures.

“The U.S. position and that of its allies is that the Internet should be free and open and the government shouldn't interfere with it. That position has been undermined by the wrath of disclosures regarding surveillance from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. And China and Russia, who have always pushed for a more hands-on, top-down approach to the Internet that some people would label as censorship. Well, that approach has gained traction because while the U.S. has been loudly decrying this, they've also been doing a lot of stuff that people don't feel corresponds with the idea of Internet freedom,” says Nagesh (http://n.pr/1gJ3Y4N).

In an editorial penned 28 DEC 2003 (http://bit.ly/1mmEoe0), I voiced concern at that time regarding the issue of Internet freedom. The recent move by the Obama administration to divorce the US from their current oversight role should give us all concern, especially now.

Why is it so important for the Internet to remain truly free? Because there are governments, organizations, and Elitists who want to regulate it in a variety of ways for a variety of purposes, none of which are good. Although at some point in our nation’s history I would argue that the withdrawal of our government oversight is bad for a free and independent Internet, I’m not so sure that this applies today. This is because there are those in our own government who would have more regulation and government control.

Some of the ways that more control can harm us includes:

  • Censorship of the press
  • Intelligence gathering programs on individuals and organizations
  • Elimination of domain name use by individuals and organizations who dare to speak out against certain individuals in government and elsewhere in society
  • Harassment by government hacks
  • and others

One of the fears that this writer has, with regards to the withdrawal of U.S. oversight, is that socialistic and communistic nations, such as Russia and China, will eventually wrangle control of ICANN. There are many news accounts over the past few years regarding China’s effort to censor what the Chinese people read on the Internet.

One of the foremost examples involves Google Search. “Every big American Internet company is angling for the same thing, more or less: global domination. But the one country where they have the most potential for growth also has some of the most entrenched competition and thorniest human rights issues. The battle for China’s 618 million Internet users is fraught with moral and logistical problems that have sent Twitter, Facebook and Google all packing in recent years. Now LinkedIn is making an aggressive play to enter the People’s Republic, but questions remain about just what kind of sacrifices the company will have to make to please the country’s government,” says Victor Luckerson (@VLuck, http://ti.me/Q0NVdy).

There is no crystal ball that will allow us to peer into the future-a future without the U.S. in a watchdog position in ICANN. But if the United Nations can be held up as an example of what can and will happen once this divorce is final, then we already know the answer to our concerns. -30-

About the Author:
Allan B. Colombo is a trade journalist and technical writer in the life-safety and physical security markets. His work in this venue over the past 28 years is well known across the globe. Colombo also is the publisher and administrator of www.GiantKilles.Org from 1995 through 2005. For more information, go to www.AlColombo.net. To contact him, call 330-956-9003 or email him at abc@alcolombo.us.



For personal security information and products,
visit www.OhioHootOwl.com.

Copyright©2014/Allan B. Colombo
www.alcolombo.us / al_colombo@hotmail.com
(Permission is given to republish blog posts providing
my contact information and copyright notice are included.)

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Friday, January 10, 2014

Privacy Vs. Networking

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Is it possible to network while maintaining your personal privacy? Those of us who seek to make a difference in people's lives by communicating ideas know that there is a definite choice to be made.

I have friends of the old school who are not on Facebook or any other social networking solution because they wish to maintain their personal privacy.

One in particular will go to great lengths in emailing news items to a limited audience of email recipients. We've discussed at great length the trade-offs related to reaching the highest number of readers vs. a simple, limited emailing list.

The question is, can you network and still remain private in your personal life?

I'd like to hear your thoughts? Please email them to me at blogger@tpromo.com.


For personal security information and products,
visit www.OhioHootOwl.com.

Copyright©2013/Allan B. Colombo
www.alcolombo.us / al_colombo@hotmail.com
(Permission is given to republish blog posts providing
my contact information and copyright notice are included.)

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Be sure not to miss each and every blog comment by subscribing to my email service. Every time I publish a comment or an update, you will be the first to know. To sign up, enter your email address in the email subscription box on the top right of this page. Thank you! To contact Al Colombo, click here.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Book Review: Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson

On November 15, 2013, I finished Walter Isaacson's book, Steve Jobs, founder, chairman, and former CEO of Apple Inc. What an awesome book, published in 2011 before Job’s death.

All I can say is “What a life. What a man.”

Isaacson’s book speaks loudly to me. It says that all great men are peculiarly conscious of their debt to their fellow man and society at large.

I believe the story of Job’s life has touched me in ways that no other has in a long time.

For more information on Steve Jobs, click here.

About the Author

Allan B. Colombo is a technical writer and trade journalist in the life safety and physical security markets. Colombo also is owner of Tpromo.com. Tpromo offers affordable web designs and hosting for businesses, Institutions, and Individuals in support of products, people, and ideas.

Copyright©2013/Allan B. Colombo
www.alcolombo.us / al_colombo@hotmail.com
(Permission is given to republish blog posts providing
my contact information and copyright notice are included.)