Huawei Fights Back

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A couple weeks ago I posted the following Strong Warnings Not to Purchase a Huawei Smartphone and in mid-January, I posted Huawei & ZTE, the New Lenovo and Kaspersky?

Well Huawei fired back this weekend, asserting that these charges are politically motivated to counter tough competition based on superior technology that rivals fear.

NoWayHuaweiHuawei is a Chinese giant in the consumer and commercial technology space.  Their flagship consumer smartphone, the Mate 10 Pro was slated to launch in the US later this week and the company had launched an aggressive advertising campaign over the last weeks and months to drive consumer demand.  Huawei had a deal with AT&T to release the smartphone on the AT&T wireless network, however that deal has fallen through and Huawei claims politics was the main reason.

Instead of competing on technology, Huawei alleges that its competitors have lobbied the US government to thwart their entry to the market.  Amid concerns that Huawei maintains close, some say direct, ties to the Chinese government, US intelligence chiefs took the unusual step of warning against the purchase and use of Huawei devices on US wireless networks.

No direct proof has been offered to support either claim, for or against.  That is not stopping Huawei from making their case in the face of Senate testimony and widespread concern.  For now, founded or not, it appears that Huawei’s entry into the US market has been slowed significantly if not permanently clouded with cybersecurity concerns.

It will be interesting to see how this continues to play out.

W-2 Phishing in Full Swing

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This week, the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) issued an alert of an increase in W-2 phishing schemes.

This is just the latest tax season threat, as I posted about in the posts Beware the Tax Scam and Beware the Tax Scam – Updated.

w2-phising-970x546According to this latest alert “This scam is just one of several new variations of IRS and tax-related phishing campaigns targeting W-2 information, indicating an increase in the interest of criminals in sensitive tax information.”

What is unique about this alert is that this latest scam is targeting both HR staff and individuals.  In the case of HR staff, it is typically an email spoofed from a company executive, requesting that they be sent detailed W-2 information about company employees.

For individuals, the scam is often an email that tries to trick the recipient into going to what appears to be a legitimate IRS web page to enter their W-2 information.  The IRS will never ask you to do this, so that’s a clear indication of the scam.

Stay vigilant and don’t get tricked into revealing sensitive financial information.  Tax season or not, be on alert.

Miracle On Ice + 38

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Congratulations to Team USA Women’s Hockey for winning gold at the Olympics 38 years to the day from the incredible Miracle On Ice in Lake Placid, NY.

Those that know me, know I am a hockey fan.  Mostly collegiate DI and my University of New Hampshire Wildcats through thick and thin, but I do follow the Boston Bruins as well.  Olympic hockey has a great history and the Miracle On Ice showed it can also be much more than a game.  It can lift a nations spirits at a time when things seem all but lost.  It’s only fitting that the 2018 women’s gold medal win over Canada came on the 38th anniversary of the improbable men’s win over the then Soviet Union in what also turned in to a gold medal run.

Congratulations Ladies!  Well done Team USA!

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Tesla’s Cloud Systems Hacked

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Tesla Logo 2One of the most upstart and well known tech companies of late is Tesla.  Everyone knows their name and their vehicles and battery systems have been very well received by the market.

Tesla not only produces technically advanced products, they heavily leverage technology to do so.  News emerged this week that security researchers have discovered that Tesla’s Cloud platform has been exploited by hackers to mine crtypocurrencies.  This took place within Tesla’s infrastructure hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS).  The hack appears to have been done to leverage Tesla’s resources in AWS for other purposes.  However, there is a concern that some vehicle data was exposed as a result.

To Tesla’s credit, they responded very quickly and issued the following response to technology news site ZDNet:

“We maintain a bug bounty program to encourage this type of research, and we addressed this vulnerability within hours of learning about it. The impact seems to be limited to internally-used engineering test cars only, and our initial investigation found no indication that customer privacy or vehicle safety or security was compromised in any way.”

Good for Tesla for addressing this so quickly and tranparently.  They have done a great job of owning the issue and responding appropriately.  A good lesson for others to follow.

Disgusting, But Sadly Expected

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Hackers are hard at work trying to scam you with phishing campaigns related to the horrific Parkland, FL school shooting incident last week.  As disgusting as this is, it’s become the new norm.  A shocking tragedy takes place and hackers come out of the woodwork, trying to trick unsuspecting people with fake fundraising and news links and stories.  It’s all about the scam.

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You may receive email messages asking for donations, sharing new information about the incident or links to new videos and news reports.  Be very suspect of anything you receive that references a recent tragic event liks this.

If you want to research news stories or donate to charitable funds setup in response to the tragedy, please go directly to the web site of the organization you wish to support or the site of the news source.  Don’t click email links that could take you to compromised sites that the hackers are using to try to steal your payment or other information.

Be vigilant against these heartless and slimy operators, both at home and at work.

Olympic Technology is Going for Gold

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This post was originally published in today’s Foster’s and Seacoast Sunday.

The Olympics taking place in PyeongChang is a spectacle of technology that is giving us a glimpse into our future. With technological powerhouses like Samsung being one of South Korea’s most well known exports, it’s no wonder technology is taking center stage.

Intel Olympics Drone TechnologyThis awesome display of technology is not without its pitfalls. On the first day of this year’s Olympics, hackers took center stage, breaking into some Olympic technology and causing the office website of the 2018 Winter Games to be taken down overnight. As of now, there does not appear to have been any serious breach, but investigators are still at work and we may not know what has really happened during the Olympic Games until well after the Olympic torch has been extinguished in PyeongChang.

One of the massive challenges for technology at an event like the Olympics is security. It’s even more of a challenge due to the nature of the event. A temporary sporting event that brings the attention of the world on a small part of the host country for a short window of time. Talk about a target of opportunity.

Olympic Games are put on by local organizing committees under the auspices of the International Olympic Committee, the IOC. Technology contracts are awarded to multiple companies by the local organizing committee and are often decentralized, meaning each vendor chosen must secure their own networks. This brings multiple players to the table and multiple vulnerabilities. Intel, Samsung, Visa, Atos, Korea Telecom, Comcast, NBC and more all have extensive technology infrastructures in place at the Olympics. Even clothier Ralph Lauren has introduced technology to Team USA’s uniforms for this year’s Winter Olympics. The jackets Team USA will be wearing include active heating technology to keep the athlete’s warm.

Multiple organizations and government agencies have warned attendees to steer clear of public WiFi and be on alert for all manner of cyber scams. Some have gone so far as to recommend turning off WiFi and Bluetooth while at the Games, to avoid what are known as drive-by attacks, where a hacker may theoretically access your device to steal information and use it as part of a larger attack.

There will be plenty of technological marvels on display, from Intel’s amazing drone light shows to Samsung’s robots. A robot even carried the Olympic Torch for part of the relay leading up to the lighting of the Olympic Flame during the opening ceremonies one week ago. Technology will also be available to the athletes to help them tune their performance and maximize their experience. Suits with smart sensors will provide a level of athletic performance feedback not previously seen. It will be interesting to see if any competitors make changes based on this new information that will be available.

Another first for these Olympics is that all of the technology systems running and broadcasting the games will be Cloud based. You won’t find the temporary data centers that powered past games. This year, critical systems will all be physically away from the games in Cloud data centers. There are some fifty critical applications behind this year’s Olympic experience, all out in the Cloud.

Even with this reliance on the Cloud, there will still be well over three thousand IT workers on the ground in PyeongChang supporting the games. Whether things are based in the Cloud or not, you still need an on-site IT infrastructure to enable everything from accurately capturing race times to broadcasting the events live online and to television viewers worldwide.

For spectators who are in PyeongChang, Intel is providing virtual reality experiences from the athlete’s point of view. Imagine putting on a virtual reality headset and finding yourself hurtling down a slalom course at 70 to 80 mph. You can if you want to.

I mentioned Visa earlier as one of the technology companies on display at the Olympics. Yes, Visa is a financial services company, mostly known for issuing debit and credit cards. In PyeongChang, Visa is showcasing payment technologies of the future. There are contactless payment terminals throughout the venues. Visa provided special rings to the athletes that have embedded payment technology, allowing an athlete to simply wave their hand over a payment terminal to pay for something. Visa even has smart gloves in use so that when you are outside, you won’t have to take your gloves off to pay for something. Just place your hand near a payment terminal and make your payment.

The Olympics are always a great event, showcases known and unknown athletes and great stories of triumph and defeat. Technology is giving us a glimpse into the future as well this year, except the future is now.

Happy Birthday Surface Pro

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The Microsoft Surface Pro turned five years old this year.  In a short five years, Microsoft has penetrated the mobile computer device market with stunning success.

As you know from my recent blog post Kudos to Microsoft Surface Support, I’m a fan.  While my system is a Surface Book, it is a descendant of the Surface Pro.  According to Microsoft, the idea behind the Surface Pro was the following:

“We wanted to challenge the concept that people should have to choose between the portability and convenience of a tablet and the power and productivity of a PC.”

Here’s a nice graphic of Surface Pro’s first five years and a video that Microsoft has put out to celebrate.  Speaking of celebrating, if you’ve been thinking about getting a Surface Pro, now’s the time.  Microsoft is offering a $200 discount this weekend to celebrate.

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Sharing My Passions

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I’m a passionate guy and last evening, I got to bring three of my passions together for an evening that capped a great day.

The three passions I enjoyed today are family, UNH hockey and my work with Onepath.

My day started at our new New Hampshire office that we recently acquired.  We transitioned this and three other offices to the Onepath brand and held some advanced training with our new teammates.  It all went really well.

As part of these activities, one of my team members from our Ohio office flew in for a couple of days, another team member from our Rhode Island office was in town and two senior team members from our Atlanta headquarters flew in.

While I was not thrilled that UNH scheduled the annual White Out The Whitt game between UNH and arch-rival Maine on Valentines Day, it did present an opportunity for some team bonding, so I secured some extra tickets to go along with my regular season tickets and we all headed off to the game after we wrapped up at the office.

At the arena, we met up with my oldest daughter, who I’ve been going to games with for at least fifteen years at this point.  While UNH lost in overtime, it was one of the most fun games I’ve been to in years.  It was solid competitive college hockey.  Great to watch and the atmosphere was electric.  Sharing my passions for family and UNH hockey with my teammates from Onepath made for a truly enjoyable evening, despite the final score.

Here are some photos from the day (click the photo’s for captions).

 

Strong Warnings Not to Purchase a Huawei Smartphone

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About a month ago, I published a post titled Huawei & ZTE, the New Lenovo and Kaspersky?  It appears that the answer is yes, at least in terms of suspicion on the part of the US intelligence community.

This is not new news, however with Huawei set to begin shipping it’s first device in the US market in just a few days, the warnings are getting louder and stronger.

Just this week, the heads of the three major US intelligence agencies, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and National Security Agency (NSA), all testified on Capitol Hill and issued a dire warning: do not buy a Huawei phone.  Several members of the Senate committee before which the leaders testified, echoed their concerns and warning.
robber-on-phoneThe US government has long suspected that Huawei and another company, ZTE are actively cooperating with the Chinese government to use these devices to spy on US businesses and citizens.  There has been no proof offered in the public domain and both companies firmly deny the allegations.  However, testimony and comments from these leaders and multiple elected officials send a strong message that there may be evidence that is not yet public.

These new smartphones get very good reviews in terms of their technical capabilities and user experience.  That’s a shame given the allegations, which are likely to limit their penetration in the US and other markets.  There will surely be several who purchase devices from these companies, not knowing of these concerns.  I’m sure that is why we are seeing stronger and more frequent statements on the matter now that the US launch of these devices is upon us.

This is just another example of how complex choosing and using technology is becoming for us all.  Concerns around how governments are using technology companies to further their interests and disrupt other societities has been proven to be a very real threat, so do your homework before you invest in new technology.

Yup, the Olympics are Being Hacked

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PyeongChang OlympicsThe good news is that no known damage has been done, but it didn’t take long for bad actors to attempt to disrupt the Olympic Games currently underway in PyeongChang.  In fact, a yet to be identified hacker disrupted some servers during the opening ceremony that ultimately led to the web site for this years games being taken down overnight that first day.

The Olympics are a particularly complicated even to safeguard.  Numerous IT related vendors are working together to manage a very robust IT infrastructure that is temporary.  Everything is done under the auspices of the local Olympic organizing committee, which is also a temporary entity.

Personally, a permanent home for the Olympic Games would go a long way to making cybersecurity less of a concern, but I’m not sure the politics of such a move are going to allow that in the foreseeable future, but this is another topic altogether.

For now, the Olympics seem to be safe, though several instances of vaious malware have been detected within the various networks in use.  The vendors and organizing committee are working dilligently to be sure that nothing more malicious is in play, but given the tensions between the Korea’s and general geopolitical tensions around the world, the Olympics being a target was more of a sure thing that any one athlete winning gold.

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