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Month: March 2017

VPN Time

VPN Time

Between LastPass pooping the bed (again!?) and Congress telling your ISP to spy all they want on you, my recommendations from back in November are now looking mighty thin without including a VPN service, to try to stick one more finger into the dike.

I will plan to do a roundup of decent and non-evil (as far as we can know) VPN services by this weekend.  But you should also start looking for your own.

One thing you can do right away that’s easy and free, is start using OpenDNS for your address lookups.  ISP spying on users always begins with DNS, so the first thing I always do is get the heck off the ISP’s DNS and on to OpenDNS or Google’s.

More on this topic later, I promise.

Passwords Again

Passwords Again

In the wake of this week’s issues with LastPass, I see today’s brilliant Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal takes up the topic.

The trick to passwords is to just reset them every time you need to log in

The hovertext for this cartoon is, “The trick to passwords is to just reset them every time you need to log in”.  Which is kind of an interesting idea, and one that I would like to consider from a security point of view, because I hear it proposed in less jocular contexts than this one.

The standard model of a password is that it’s the “something you know” among the three factors considered for authentication: something you know, something you have and something you are (i.e., biometrics).  Using a second factor greatly improves the overall security, and I recommend it regardless of what else you decide about this.

If instead of recording or remembering your password to every site, you simply use the password reset function, have you improved the safety of your authentication to that site?  Before you adopted this strategy, your main points of weakness were the manager providing storage of your very-complex password, or the too-simple password  you chose so your would not need a manager.  Now, at least, you have a really complex password (right?  RIGHT?), and you’re not storing it anywhere.

But now your main point of weakness is your email account.  Which is probably also vulnerable to the manager providing storage of your very-complex password, or the too-simple password  you chose so your would not need a manager.  Not only have you simply shifted the same exact issue, you have concentrated it into the single resource that affords access to all your other resources.  It takes an already vulnerable situation and makes it a single point of failure for your entire online life.

Until we can get rid of passwords completely, somehow, I’m afraid there are not many shortcuts available.  So: make a strong password you can remember.  Use it to secure your password manager.  And, enable a second factor for every site that offers the option.

 

LastPass Ouch

LastPass Ouch

Woke this morning to the news that my password manager of choice, LastPass, had a bug that (for the first time I can recall), put the passwords in the vault at risk.

In the linked article, Tavis Ormandy suggests dumping LastPass and going to another password manager.   But to me that’s like when it starts to rain (no lightning) and you run under a tree.  Eventually the rain works through the leaves, so now you go run for a different tree.  Well, duh!  The rain has worked through all the leaves on all the trees.

There’s no reason to think my passwords are more or less safe elsewhere.

And oh by the way as of this writing, LastPass has pushed a fix.

 

Vault 7

Vault 7

Everyone has been asking me about the new CIA hacks revealed this week by Wikileaks.

Will your cellphone be spying on you for the government?  How about your Samsung smart TV?

My bit of advice for you is this:  Get into a password manager.  Stop using social media for all your communication with everyone.  Change the default passwords on your gadgets.  Run a goddam backup.

When all that’s done, then you’re allowed to worry about the CIA.

#infosec
#toughlove