This week, we’ll look at some exciting news for residents of Thorp, a troubling new vulnerability on smartphones, and thoughts on the Internet of Things.
Spectrum Internet In Thorp!
At long last, Spectrum (formerly Charter) Internet is available in Thorp! After many years of being dependent on a single service provider, businesses and residents of Thorp now have another reliable option. While we here at Yellowstone Computing are primarily concerned with the Internet portion, Spectrum also provides cable Tv and telephone services to our area. I have already been testing Spectrum’s 100/7mb business connection and have been very impressed! Installation was very quick and pleasant and the connection has been very speedy. If you have any questions, let us know!
Residential customers can contact Spectrum directly @ 877-906-9121. Business customers should contact Yellowstone Computing or speak with our local Spectrum representatives; Jackie Bachmeier @ 715-450-1348 or Tami Severson @ 715-495-7787.
Wireless Chipset Vulnerability
A new flaw has been discovered on mobile devices utilizing Broadcom wireless chipsets. Dubbed Broadpwn, this flaw affects an estimated 1 billion devices, including all Apple iPhones after the iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy devices from S3 - S8 and various others. So what is Broadpwn? It is a 0-day, fully remote attack against a series of Broadcom’s wireless chips, specifically, the BCM43 series. The flaw allows an attacker within wireless range of the device to send malicious instructions to the device, potentially siphoning any data the wireless chip uses (which includes any Internet connectivity) and using the infected device to spread to other devices within range. The good news is that the flaw has been found and security patches have been issued to address it; in addition, no known malware currently exploits this flaw that we are aware of.
When The Price is Free, You Are The Product
As I was going through my mail the other day, I found an interesting notice from a company whose services I use. I won’t post the entire notice but the essential part is this; the company was notifying me that they would like to share information they collect about me with their “family of companies,” including their affiliates, agents, authorized sales representatives, etc. Fortunately, I have the option to “opt out” of this “benefit.” In this case, I pay this company for their services but what about those companies and services that are free to customers? Ever wonder how they can be free? It’s quite simple really. If you read the license or usage agreement when you sign up, you will find that the cost of the product or service is… you. All the information that can possibly be gleaned from your usage of the product is bought, sold, traded and stolen by thousands of companies every moment of your existence. Don’t believe me? That’s OK, I know it sounds crazy. Just read one of these long, boring agreements before you click I Agree. Don’t think they can learn much about you? Got nothing to hide? That’s good, keep believing that while you wonder how that website you’re visiting knows that you need to get new socks.
It’s not just search engine and email providers gathering this information. Nearly every electronic device is busily sweeping up every bit and byte of information that constitutes “you” and sending it off to their mothership. Own a smartphone? Think about all the apps on there; email, games, social media, cloud photos, text messages. How about that nifty virtual assistant on your kitchen counter? You know, the one that tells you the weather forecast and when it’s time to flip the pancakes? By necessity, it must listen to every sound in the room to know when you’re addressing it or someone/thing else. It doesn’t know that internally, it must send all that information to another device to interpret your speech. Got one of those awesome robotic vacuums? In order to function, it must make a detailed map of your house. Guess, what, those manufacturers want to sell those maps to other companies. Let’s not forget that your TV is watching and listening to you even more intently than you are it!
This is not meant to be a treatise against technology. I confess, the Star Trek geek in me wants to use all these and more “smart” devices because they are so fascinating, convenient and cool! But for me, the price is far too high. Not the monetary cost (though it can be) but rather the cost of my privacy and liberty.