Meeting Notes - 21 July 2015

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Meeting Notes - 21 July 2015

Post by bdahm on Mon Jul 27, 2015 6:27 pm

CM Geeks - Notes

No free lunch - We’ve heard this expression time and again. It’s true. It’s equally true here. We don’t charge anything for our meetings, perhaps on the philosophy that you get what you pay for. Be that as it may, the River Market is providing us with a place to meet every week. They are providing us with parking, a projector and a screen and even a sound system for our videos. All they ask in return and all we ask in return is that you purchase something from the menu, even a cup of coffee or a soft drink. Information wants to be free; Food is something else. For those who may have eaten or are not hungry, a tip for the wait staff would be appreciated.

Hack of the Day
Revelation of another high profile hacking attacking is happening on an almost daily basis these days. The latest and possibly the most sensational is the attack on the popular Ashley Madison dating site, which traffics in extra-marital affairs. It’s motto is: Life is short, Have an affair. Apparently there are lots of people who agree because the site had 37 million users. 

The attackers threatened to release the real names, passwords and financial transactions of its members if the site wasn’t closed down immediately.

Was this an empty threat? The hackers have been quiet since the initial breach and the site is still up, posting it has 38 million members now.

This all leads to the question as to how secure are we with in our personal data that we blithely surrender on-line. The answer is increasingly not very. 

All this lead to a discussion of security in general among those at the meeting. Chris asked what advice we would give to internet newbies. Some of the answers included using strong, unique, non-dictionary passwords on every site, using password managers to generate random, unmemorable passwords, biometric methods such as fingerprint scanners and using two step verification. 

Two step verification is particularly effective because it requires that before you can log-on, one has to supply a 6 digit number generated from an app installed on your smartphone. Though this is effective, these schemes are a real pain to set up and the number of sites offering this method is relatively small. They include Google, Amazon, Apple, Dropbox and Last Pass to name just a few. The likelihood of the typical, non technical user doing this is virtually nil. 
As if we didn’t already know there is an ongoing tension between security and convenience and convenience generally wins out. All one is left to do is to quote the famous line from the TV show Hill Street Blues, “Let’s be careful out there”.

Skype-In; Skype-Out
Another topic which came up centered around a member who was told by his financial institution that he could not call them using Skype. He was told he had to be able to display a valid phone number. First of all this is not correct in all cases as financial institutions with an 800 number or equivalent, will take Skype calls. I do this all the time. 

On the broader question of having an individually identifiable phone number associated with your Skype account, this is doable. You can obtain a caller-ID for a fee. There are two other paid services offered by Skype as well With Skype-Out (subscription) you can call any landline or mobile phone for a modest fee. One can also purchase a Skype-In account, which would allow anyone to call you at that number and ring to your Skype app on your PC or smartphone.  Check out all Skype features below

The highlight of the meeting, however, was a video that Howard brought to our attention, a commentary on the state of our relationship with technology. It’s very compelling and thought provoking. Here it is.

And with that, we’re going to call it a wrap. Catch you next time.



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