Pwn2Own is an annual competition held at CanSacWest in Canada. Prizes are awarded to the hackers who can most quickly hack various operating systems and programs. This year a million dollars in prizes will be awarded, meaning it attracts the best hackers in the world. The money awarded is directly related to the difficulty in hacking the target. The most money goes to anyone who can hack an Apache web server.
A recent study has found that the greatest threat to our critical infrastructure is squirrels. Not hackers, not enemy states, not organizations, but squirrels. Small animals have been responsible for more than 1,700 power cuts affecting 5 million people.
Many publications including The Guardian reported that the messaging app WhatsApp was insecure and hackable. The creator of that encryption protocol, Moxie Marlinspike from Open Whisper Systems, posted on his blog that this was incorrect. Now a large number of security professionals have written an open letter to The Guardian asking them to retract the story. There is no back door in WhatsApp, and the article was wrong. It was written in a sensational way to drive traffic.
Robert wants to know how he can build a bright light to blind a perpetrator if someone tries to attack his sister. Leo says that police LED flashlights are blindingly bright and they will work great. The Lume Cube is small (1 1/2" sq), and is extremely bright.
Here's some suggestions from the chatroom:
Artie is getting his son a Chromebook for Christmas. How can he keep it safe from computer viruses? Leo says that Chromebooks are relatively virus free, so he won't have to worry about that. To keep his kids safe online, Leo advises OpenDNS and their parental filters.
Jonathan has a Windows laptop and he wants to add a fingerprint scanner. The one he's looking at works with WIndows Hello, but there's no real branding. Leo says that chances are, one Chinese company makes it and then sells it to multiple companies who put their name on it. The good news is that it works with Windows Hello. Jonathan should check out the Eikon fingerprint scanner. It's the one he recommends, and it's only $20.
After the DDoS attack over the weekend that brought down many major websites on the net, it's a good idea to check your own router and make sure that it's as secure as it can be. These Denial of Service attacks rely on 'bot nets' that are actually made up of unsecure computers on unsecured networks all over the world. Here are some basic steps you can take to make sure your network is protected:
Wallace took his computer into a repair shop, and now he's concerned that they could have put monitoring software on his computer. This is a legitimate concern, and often times it happens remotely with people calling that claim to be from Microsoft or something. If someone has physical access to the system, though, all bets are off. Taking a computer into a repair shop is an absolute act of trust. There's not much he could do about it, though, if he needed to bring it in. There's no certification process or national organization of computer techs, so he'd just have to trust them.
Jim is about to go on a river cruise and he's concerned with security when using Wi-Fi on the ship. Leo advises using the Tiny Hardware Firewall. It's a hardware firewall that can protect up to five devices because it uses a built in VPN that protects him. It will slow it down a bit, and the internet is slow on those cruise Wi-Fi hotspots, but it will keep him clean from the last mile.