Z Trek: The Alan Zeichick Weblog

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The future tech user-interface: It's all about speech

Amazon says that that a cloud-connected speaker/microphone was at the top of the charts: “This holiday season was better than ever for the family of Echo products. The Echo Dot was the #1 selling Amazon Device this holiday season, and the…
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Malware damages Android phones. Are IoT devices next?

Software can affect the performance of hardware. Under the right (or wrong) circumstances, malware can cause the hardware to become physically damaged – as the cyberattack on Iran’s centrifuges provided in 2010, and which an errant coin-mining…
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Get ready for Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) cyberattacks

Man-in-the-Middle (MITM or MitM) attacks are about to become famous. Famous, in the way that ransomware, Petya, Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS), and credit-card skimmers have become well-known. MITM attacks go back thousands of years.…
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Updating the Scrum agile process for 2017

Agility – the ability to deliver projects quickly. That applies to new projects, as well as updates to existing projects. The agile software movement began when many smart people became frustrated with the classic model of development, where…
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Payment cards and bill payment services are great for criminals

Criminals steal money from banks. Nothing new there: As Willie Sutton famously said, “I rob banks because that's where the money is.” Criminals steal money from other places too. While many cybercriminals target banks, the reality is…

The FBI and Secret Service view of cyber criminals

Law enforcement officials play a vital role tracking down and neutralizing cyber criminals. Theirs is a complex, often thankless, mission. Here are some insights shared by two current, and one former,  high-level officials from U.S. law enforcement,…

Scammers warn you to ignore other scams, focus on their scams instead

Isn’t this rich? I get these occasionally and they always elicit a chuckle, especially when they refer to “mafias.” Don’t reply to these emails. Delete them instead. From: "Mrs. CYNDY BANKSl" email hidden; JavaScript is required Date: December 4, 2017…

Scam email claims your credit card will be charged – don’t open the attachment

I’ve seen a flurry of these messages recently; by a flurry, I mean 34 in the past two days. The emails come with a variety of texts on the same theme, with randomized “from” email addresses, sender names, salutations, credit-card brand…
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Why you need Security & Systems Operations – SysSecOps

SysSecOps is a new phrase, still unseen by many IT and security administrators – however it’s being discussed within the market, by analysts, and at technical conferences. SysSecOps, or Systems & Security Operations, describes the practice…

Don't click on “must validate account” email scams!

This fake message from “Netflix” almost got me, and as you know I’m quite skeptical about these things. Unlike most scams, it’s neatly formatted and well-written. And because my family has a Netflix account, it didn’t seem completely…

A great scam says that the question is you, the answer is God

This scam is comically bad, yet who knows if anyone fell for it? This is exactly how the mail came through. I’m leaving in the email addresses, well, just because. I love the question and answers below, and the attention to detail — even…
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Celebrate the Shehecheyanu Moments and give thanks

On this day before Thanksgiving (a U.S. holiday), let me share the concept of  Shehecheyanu Moments. The Shehecheyanu is a prayer of thankfulness. Many Jews say the prayer immediately after the first time you do or experience something new…
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Four tactics to prevent and manage ransomware

Ransomware is genuine, and is threatening individuals, services, schools, medical facilities, governments – and there’s no indication that ransomware is stopping. In fact, it’s probably increasing. Why? Let’s be honest: Ransomware is…
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Passwords? Fingerprints? Face recognition? It's all questionable.

I unlock my smartphone with a fingerprint, which is pretty secure. Owners of the new Apple iPhone X unlock theirs with their faces – which is reported to be hackable with a mask. My tablet is unlocked with a six-digit numerical code, which…
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Artificial Intelligence Got Real – In 1991

AI is an emerging technology – always, has been always will be. Back in the early 1990s, I was editor of AI Expert Magazine. Looking for something else in my archives, I found this editorial, dated February 1991. What do you think? Is AI…

Be wary of cloud download links, such as from Dropbox, Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive

A lot of people share files with friends or colleagues by uploading them to cloud storage and sending an access link. I do this myself, sharing folders, documents or photo collections. Malicious scammers can do the same thing. It’s…
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AI-driven network scanning is the secret to effective mobile security

The secret sauce is AI-based zero packet inspection. That’s how to secure mobile users, and their personal data and employers’ data. Let’s back up a step. Mobile devices are increasingly under attack, from malicious apps, from rogue…
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How AI is changing the role of cybersecurity – and of cybersecurity experts

In The Terminator, the Skynet artificial intelligence was turned on to track down hacking a military computer network. Turns out the hacker was Skynet itself. Is there a lesson there? Could AI turn against us, especially as it relates to the…
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Here’s how to fight and defeat the new hackers

Let’s talk about hackers, not through the eyes of the tech industry but through the eyes of current and former U.S. law enforcement officials. It’s their job to run those people down and throw them in jail. The Federal Bureau of Investigation MK…
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Forget the IoT: It's all about the Industrial IoT

Smart televisions, talking home assistants, consumer wearables – that’s not the real story of the Internet of Things. While those are fun and get great stories on blogs and morning news reports, the real IoT is the Industrial IoT. That’s…
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Why you should care about serverless computing

The bad news: There are servers used in serverless computing. Real servers, with whirring fans and lots of blinking lights, installed in racks inside data centers inside the enterprise or up in the cloud. The good news: You don’t need to…
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Too long: The delays between cyberattacks and their discovery and disclosure

Critical information about 46 million Malaysians were leaked online onto the Dark Web. The stolen data included mobile phone numbers from telcos and mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs), prepaid phone numbers, customers details including…
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Taking a KRACK at an Internet of Things vulnerability

It’s always nice when a friend is quoted in an article. In this case, it’s one of my dearest and closest, John Romkey, founder of FTP Software. The story is, “The Internet Of Things Just Got Even More Unsafe To Use,” by Harold Stark,…
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It’s a bot, bot, bot world: The new battle for enterprise cybersecurity

Humans can’t keep up. At least, not when it comes to meeting the rapidly expanding challenges inherent to enterprise cybersecurity. There are too many devices, too many applications, too many users, and too many megabytes of log files for…

An heiress wants to give you money – well, a scammer, not an heiress

Here’s a classic example of a scam that cites a news story as validation that the claim is authentic, or at least credible. It’s not. Despite the scammer’s citing a famous story about an heiress bequeathing a fortune, that’s no proof…
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No pastrami sandwich or guinea pig emoji in iOS 11.1, dammit

Still no pastrami sandwich. Still no guinea pig. What’s the deal with the cigarette? I installed iOS 11.1 yesterday, tantalized by Apple’s boasting of tons of new emoji. Confession: Emoji are great fun. Guess what I looked for right after…
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Backlinko has a great guide to search engine optimize (SEO)

You want to read Backlinko’s “The Definitive Guide To SEO In 2018.” Backlinko is an SEO consultancy founded by Brian Dean. The “Definitive Guide” is a cheerfully illustrated infographic – a lengthy infographic – broken up into…

Well, what the heck, I went and did my Halloween best

Our family’s Halloween tradition: Watch “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” singing along with all the songs. Great songs! I must make my usual complaints about this Disney movie. The biggest is there’s only one major female character…

Seeing the face of God in an eclipse

What happens when the sun goes disappears during the daytime? Rabbi Margaret Frisch Klein, of Congregation Kneseth Israel in Elgin, Illinois, wrote in her Energizer Rabbi blog on Aug. 22, 2017, just before the solar eclipse: The sun is going…