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A Massive Hole In The Internet Security – Heartbleed Vulnerability

Most probably Heartbleed is going to be the vulnerability of the decade in the internet history. You might have heard the word Heartbleed, received bunch of mails from your favorite web services. This article will help non-technical people to understand What Heartbleed is, and how to be immunized  to the bug.

Heartbleed is a bug disclosed to the public on 7th April, 2014. It is a vulnerability in the open source SSL(Secure Socket Layer) cryptography library. This open source OpenSSL is software implemented in server side which is responsible for security and integrity of the data while in its transmission. The communication between your system/PC and the web server have to be sent through a secure line to avoid attackers to eavesdrop in the middle. Whatever URL that has ‘s’ at the end of http like htts://domain.com, you know for sure those sites implementing the SSL for security. To avoid this middle man attack all the data sent through this secure line is encrypted in the both end while sending and de-crypted  at the other end.

Its like sending messages as cipher, to decode the cipher the PC or your Server needs the key. These keys are digital keys that has to be exchanged between the two communicating ends. Meanwhile the connected PC continuously checks the liveliness of the link by requesting a signal from Server. The server sends the signal to all the connected nodes (PCs) in a ordered frequency. This signal is called ‘Heartbeat’. If the end node doesn’t get this heartbeat signal for a moment of time, then it assumes the server is down and closes the connection.

Here comes the vulnerability part. When a node request for a heartbeat signal from the server with a particular size, the server will respond to it with the data it needed at the same size requested. But it failed to check the validity of the size. So if a hacker requests for the heartbeat signal with some little big size than it needed, then the server respond with the data it needed and for remaining size it adds up the data from the server memory. Unfortunately that data are very critical sensitive data of users of the server, that includes passwords, credit card numbers, and most of the unencrypted data and other cookie information, session details etc.

Image Courtesy : xkcd.com

Image Courtesy : xkcd.com/1354

 

It is believed more than half a million web servers were affected by this, and millions of data has been hijacked. No body is sure with the infographs of this attack, but many web services openly accepted they were victimized.

It seems Google patched their servers on March 21st  and Cloudflare on 31st. Cisco announced that its most of the equipment has been vulnerable to this attack, which in turns leaves our sensitive data at risks. We know CISCO’s hardware constitutes the majority of internet.

How to be get immunized from this bug… Solution is simple, change all your login credentials like passwords, security questions, PINs etc. Log out of all the accounts from all the devices you use and login again with new passwords. Update all your softwares, apps. This applies for all the services. All other steps has to be taken by your service offerers, as they have to update their OpenSSL with the patches for the bug.

Not all the websites has been attacked, it is a guess that most of them were. Ironically the services which hasn’t update their OpenSSL for long time stayed secure. And the early adapters of the patch also immune to this attack. As I am using LastPass for managing my digital credentials, it helped me finding the attacked websites and I changed my passwords for those sites which listed under attacked.

For more reading : CNet , Heartbleed

Hope the article helps. Will see you in another. Don’t hesitate to register your views in the below comment box.

IBM’s 5 in 5–Giving Senses To Computers

‘”5 in 5”, does it make any sense? No??. Actually it gives sense. Recently IBM announced the future of cognitive computing, i.e. equipping computers/smart-phones with 5 senses with in 5 years from now. In short 5 in 5. Those 5 senses were obviously

  1. Sight
  2. Touch
  3. Hearing
  4. Smell
  5. Taste

What would happen if the computers can sense the above in future? No this is not the right question we have to ask here. In today’s world, with the plethora of sensors capable of reading ample parameters in almost all areas found by human, sensing things are not an exciting one to hear. So what IBM is going to concentrate here is processing the senses, that is ‘cognition to computers’. Without a brain, all the things sensed through our five sensory organs are utterly a futile chemical reactions over our nerves. It’s equivalent to a person in coma.

So sensing needs ‘cognition’, that paves way to ‘Recognition’. Here recognition for computers is achieved by processing the sensed things, that may be sight or touch or any of the other senses stated above, and yes this includes all probability of combinations. Here is the quote from Bernard Meyerson’s (Chief Innovation Officer, IBM) article, which I feel conveys the goal of “5 in 5” better.

Today, if you put a robotic track inspector in a railroad tunnel and equipped it with a video camera, it would not know what to make of an oncoming train. But what if you enabled it to sense things more like  humans do–not just vision from the video camera but the ability to detect the rumble of the train and the whoosh of air? And what if you enabled it to draw inferences from the evidence that it observes, hears and feels? That would be one smart computer–a machine that would be able to get out of the way before the train smashed into it.

The action of moving away from the track if train comes is triggered by the result of intelligence. Intelligence is the ability of acquiring and applying knowledge. Certainly it is not possible to fill in computer’s memory with billions of lines of code, in order to load the knowledge for all situations and conditions that are not predictable at the time of coding.

When we talk about giving senses and brain like human to computers, then the same paradigm should be followed for imparting knowledge to computer. That’s ‘Artificial Intelligence’, learning from past, learning from mistakes, learning from success, and it should learn till its obsolescence. Finally and most importantly computer should decide from options of results from its knowledge bank.

What would be the benefits we will be enjoying in few years, after IBM’s dream becomes real? I leave this question for you, fill up the comment form below with your views.

In my perception, the answer for above question is, “Humans are rationally irrational, while these systems are irrationally rational”. IBM believes their dreamt computers can really help in making decision for problems, especially in places where ego and other humanly factors deteriorate the outcomes.

But I personally feel, “As the human thoughts are not bound by logic, it has the extraordinary and naturally inherited capability of innovating and inventing. In history, almost all the big decisions were made by great legends doesn’t solely depend on the logics and knowledge they had, it’s because of something like intuitions/inner voice, gut feelings, faith in God, hope and the list extends and ends with daring to take risk.

Flame – New Era’s Cyber Warfare Tool

On May 28, 2012 Russian based Anti-virus company Kaspersky announced the discovery of ‘Flame’ a malware which caused a substantial damage in Iran and other Middle-east countries Israel Palestine, Sudan, Syria, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. Flame also known as sKyWIper (Sky Wiper) is the latest discovery of it’s kind. Expert says Flame is the most advanced and complex malware ever encountered til date which is 20 times bigger in size (around 20 MB)when compared to it’s predecessors Stuxnet and Duqu which’s existence was discovered in 2010 and 2011 respectively.

Area infected by Flame - Iran, Israel, Syria, Lebanon

Infected Area & Code Sample - Released by Kaspersky Lab

Based on Kaspersky Lab’s report, Flame’s foot prints were found in nearly 600 computers and the estimation says that the numbers may extend to few thousand computers. It is believed Flame has some 20 modules coded by different programmers enough to make it as one of the most complex and efficient malware the world seen so far.

Technically Flame and Stuxnet aren’t viruses. Flame isn’t programmed only to damage data and (replicate itself as virus do ) spread across computer systems. Flame passes to the another computer only if it is prompted by the hacker (or person who controls it). Flame is the cyber espionage tool which has the capability of looting the information from the affected system and transfer it to the hacker.

The sophisticated part of it is, capability of taking screen shots of the screen, ability to record sounds with the help of computer’s microphone, recording of key strokes, scanning through the files for vital information, etc. To my exclamation, it has the capability of invoking bluetooth connection to other devices for pulling the contacts list from the smartphones and even to connect and communicate with internet through the wireless devices.

Flame has been in the wild for last five year undetected. It starts innocuous internet explorer session in the background to send the collected information to the 100s of servers tied to this around the world. It didn’t do anything much noticeable to find it as a threat. But, Iran admits Flame caused substantial damage by wiping out the hard disk data of it’s oil resources as Flame was intended to spy and destroy oil and nuclear projects of middle east.

Because of the complex coding, the track down for the guilty person is impossible. Experts are still going through the thousands of lines of codes for any clues that leads them to ‘X’ and the organisation or nation which is behind this cyber war.

 

Microsoft’s SkyDrive Boosts It’s Free Storage To 25 GB

Recently after Google debuts it’s online storage space ‘Drive’, Microsoft announced 25 GB free upgrade for it’s ‘SkyDrive’ users. All the new and old users who used to have 7 GB of free space can upgrade to this free 25 GB offer. But by default it will be only 7 GB.

To get this free upgrade, just log in to your SkyDrive with your Windows Live credentials and click ‘Manage Storage’ link given in the left side bar of the page, soon you will be presented by a page with a option to choose your 25 GB free upgrade. Note that, the file size limit of the every file stored in SkyDrive is also increased from 300 MB to 2 GB.

The next big trend of the internet is cloud storage, and it started to fires up.

Google’s New Cloud Storage – Google Drive

A few weeks before, Google starts providing it’s cloud storage service in the name of ‘Google Drive’. In fact, Google is providing the cloud storage for us since long ago, even before the word ‘cloud’ comes to fame. Google’s online document editor Google Docs has 1 GB of cloud storage, Picassa – the Google’s online image storing and editing service gives another 1 GB of storage for saving your photos on the cloud & some other services like blogspot & plus has unlimited storage.

In the stream Google includes 5 GB of storage for every user in it’s new storage service called ‘Google Drive’. Google Drive is a online (cloud) storage space in which a Google user may store up to 5 GB of data for free, and you can buy more storage space if you need. Primarily Google Drive replaces the storage space of Google Docs’ 1 GB, while the Gmail storage space increased from 7 GB to 10 GB few weeks ago.

The main feature of Drive is Synchronizing across computers, the data in your Google Drive is automatically synced to your computing devices’ Google Drive folder. (Desktop, Notebooks, Smartphones) provided the required Google Drive software installed on those devices.

Drive supports more than 30 file types with the capability of editing through online, that includes Adobe’s Photoshop, Illustrator, etc. As Google Docs replaced by Google Drive, Drive holds all the features of Docs like online collaboration, sharing documents, etc,.

Google Drive is far better in many ways when compared to Apple’s iCloud, DropBox, SkyDrive. Especially if you are using Google’s other services like Plus, Gmail, etc,. Single file size limit for Google Drive is 10 GB while iCloud and DropBox are in MBs. For your information, Microsoft’s SkyDrive provides 7 GB of free storage with single file size limit of 2 GB.

Currently I have few hundred MBs of files in my Google Drive and it is always synced to my Desktop and my Ultrabook. Based on my few weeks experience, I hope Google Drive will fulfill your anticipation.

Google’s Augmented Reality Glasses – Project Glass

Google recently revealed one of its futuristic work of its augmented reality glasses, officially named as ‘Project Glass’. So far, this project is developed in secret Google lab called Google X. Earlier in past week (Apr, 4) Google revealed it’s intriguing project on the Project Glass’s Google Plus Page. Until now this is the first and only source and official acceptance by Google. According to the post by Google, the page shares the further improvement on the project at the same time to collect the idea of the followers through the comments.

The Post has 5 picture that explains how this technology could like when it will be released in the future, and a demonstration video.  There is no other official data is there for us to know more about this technology. So we have to rely on the latest rumors and guesses of our own.

Based on rumors, the glasses has abilities to connect to the wireless network probably on 4G. Once it was said it has some gesture controls that includes shaking of heads, but the video released by Google proves it has gesture controls but not in form of shaking heads and for surprise it also supported by speech recognition.

These Glasses are going to run on Android obviously( version unknown ). I assume that the Glasses to work it has to connect to a android phone and the phone takes all processing jobs while the Glasses still acts like a external interface for both input and output.    So it needs high processing power in terms of mobile devices and Android with major tweaks, which will be released soon after the Google’s Glasses reaches consumer’s hands.

Since past decade very few trails has been made on innovating a wearable computers. One of them is Pranav Mistry’s 6th Sense Technology. Google’s Glass is not a paradigm shift, its just a improvised idea of the fore mentioned innovation. 6th sense has projector which projects the interface screen on the objects in the environment, say wall or building, Google instead uses the wearable spectacles as the projector. Google also adds the power of web and cloud computing to this Glasses in means of Navigation assistance and with other features you may admire.

Google’s Glasses binds both the real world and virtual world together, wearing it all the day people won’t have to sacrifice one for another, you can co exist in both world. Anyways assumptions and rumors won’t answer all the questions clearly, there are still some unanswered doubts like where is the batter placed? how long it lasts? what is the connectivity it uses to connect with phones? is the glasses are reliable as it seems very light? how do the consumers wear this glass who already wears one as a aid? how the speech recognition feature differentiate the commands and normal talking? and much more, more more.

Finally the Glass is expected to be priced $200 to $250 and planned to be released last quarter of this year. If you have enjoyed this article share your thoughts in comment box below.

Is Next Gen Updates For Each Products Coming Sooner?

Nowadays in latest technologies there seems to be an problem with the consumer end of the side. Its good for the technology side for new upgrades coming fast. But on the consumer side it tends to make some inferiority factor to them. When you buy an product like an iPhone 4S now and everyone knows for sure that an new iPhone 5 is around the corner. But why still the fuss about buying it?

This doesn’t happen only for mobile industry it happens to everything that is made out of silicone. Before 6-7 years back in time each product has an life cycle of more than 3 years to remain in its top of food chain. At those periods all those product have been used to their fullest and everyone had an satisfaction by using them as well. Every product is also used to even to break their limits as well.

At present these products are not used at their full ability and they are given time to explore their own potential to developers. This type of activities causes some rage in the sense of customers and the Devs. So in future there must be some longivity in some products so it gets reached to all the froms of people and more can gain from it.

This is an shout from all of the people and Devs who think about it in a different way.

Apple’s Co-Founder Steve Jobs Died At The Age Of 56

According to a statement released by Apple this Oct 5th, co-founder and former CEO, Steve Jobs has died.


The statement is as follows:

Statement by Apple’s Board of Directors

CUPERTINO, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–We are deeply saddened to announce that Steve Jobs passed away today.

Steve’s brilliance, passion and energy were the source of countless innovations that enrich and improve all of our lives. The world is immeasurably better because of Steve.

His greatest love was for his wife, Laurene, and his family. Our hearts go out to them and to all who were touched by his extraordinary gifts.

The company has replaced Apple.com with the image above and created a page where fans can email the company, sharing their thoughts and condolences.

May the great visionary in technologies Rest In Peace.

Courtesy: ign

The Next iPhone Is Not The 5, It’s The 4S!

Well Apple new CEO unveiled his first product for the company on October 4th, and it is an iPhone. Everyone including us was speculating for an revelutionary change in the phone but Apple just went into the next edition of  iPhone 4 the iPhone 4S. When the conference ended everyone was hoping there was more but all our thoughts went in vain. FOX NEWS just said ” We don’t want an another iPhone 4 ” and that was the saying of all other visitor and fans of Apple.

iPhone 5: Phil Schiller introduces the iPhone 4S

But clearly on the bright side Apple went guns blazing on the techie side of the product from it’s predecessor. And yes we do get an Dual Core A5 processor in the iPhone 4S. Well Samsung reign is in an wobbly shape after this. The new phone also gets an revamped iOS and it is the iOS 5. There are too much changes to this phone but its all technical. It is an new phone with an old form factor.

The iPhone 4S releases on Oct 14th, one day earlier from what we stated. And pre-ordering starts on Oct 7th. For more updates follow us on facebook and twitter. If you want to follow me as well http://twitter.com/#!/Sudharshan_Hi5 .