Random links #12

Written on 12 March 2019, 09:27am

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I believe that the Airpods success can be explained by the bandwagon effect: “the rate of uptake of […] trends increases the more that they have already been adopted by others“. They slowly made their way from mockery to status symbol.

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At first sight, a bank card with a built-in fingerprint reader seems to be an excellent idea, right? You trade the PIN code (something that you know) for your fingerprint (something that you are). From an usability point of view, it’s a major step forward (PIN codes can be forgotten, misplaced, shoulder-surfed, reused, social engineered, etc). But from a privacy point of view things don’t look so good anymore. The initial plans indicate that the users still have to walk in a branch to enroll their fingerprints – which
(probably) means that the bank will get to know your biometric data. Which cannot be reset, as we all know.
A possible alternative is to ditch the bank card altogether and use something that you have with you all the time: your smartphone (see Apple Pay, Google Pay) – in addition to your biometric data which never leaves your device. But this solution is not inclusive: not everybody owns a smartphone.

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The results of this study are really sad and shows that in reality, we are far, far away from secure-by-design principles. “Researchers asked 43 freelance developers to code the user registration for a web app and assessed how they implemented password storage. 26 devs initially chose to leave passwords as plaintext ” (via)

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Read this thread in full. Brilliant

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10 things that I liked in 2018

Written on 31 December 2018, 12:50pm

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In the last day of the year, it’s time to look back at the year and highlight the things that enjoyed in 2018. For reference, here is the list from the last year.

1. Two books: Daemon and Freedom, by Daniel Suarez. Absolutely brilliant, I don’t know how I missed them for so many years. Here’s an excerpt:

The Code book from Simon Singh was probably the runner-up – a few months ago I ordered the printed version and read it again after 5 years.

2. My new notebook: Huawei Matebook x Pro. Say what you want about Huawei, but they came up with a brilliant device. Miles ahead of the premium-priced Macbooks, it fundamentally changed my workflow. Never been a tablet guy and probably never be, so the combination of an iPhone + an ultrabook like the Matebook works best for me.

3. WorkFlowy: an exponent of the makers (*) culture, WorkFlowy is a dead-simple, cross-platform note-taking app. The hierarchical structure of the notes makes it compatible with mind-mapping and I found myself using it in a variety of ways. For instance, I drafted the outline of this post in WorkFlowy. Others wrote books with it:

(*) the makers culture: Peter Levels https://levels.io/ https://makebook.io/
https://twitter.com/ajlkn https://carrd.co/

4. A place: the Austrian Alps in the summer time. I had the chance to spend about a week in the mountains. The combination of mountains, clean air, outdoor activities and clear blue sky is amazing. Just have a look:

5. Security. 2018 was the year I learned a lot about security. Went to a few classroom training sessions (CISM, CISSP, TLS), passed some challenging certification exams, and realized that (IT) security is a fascinating domain with a lot of brilliant people.

The IT industry rocks (as one of the security guys that I follow said today), and on top of that, the security aspects make things much more interesting to watch.

6. Simona Halep: not only for finally winning her Grand Slam, but also for having the capacity to remain competitive for a long time: never dropped out of the top 10 for over 5 years and currently number 1 for more than a year (with a brief 4-weeks interruption). Well deserved and very inspirational.

Simona Halep, Roland Garros 2018, Simple Dames, Finale, Photo : Nicolas Gouhier / FFT

7. Two series: Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul. I enjoyed watching Breaking Bad when it was released on Netflix, and found the Better Call Saul a very good continuation of the series. Now that Better Call Saul is over, I went back to re-watch Breaking Bad – it’s amazing how a few years and another prequel change the perspective.

https://breakingbad.fandom.com/wiki/Mike_Ehrmantraut

8. Jurgen Klopp. He joined Liverpool 3 years ago and built an amazing team around him. One can learn a lot about leadership just by listening to his interviews. Humble and determined, he’s a perfect fit for Liverpool and you can sense how everybody around the club loves him.

https://twitter.com/stuffIfc/status/1079432962062671873/photo/1

9. The iPhone X – because the dimensions are finally right, and, more importantly, because its camera allowed me to take some amazing photos throughout the year: https://www.flickr.com/photos/dorin_moise

10. Tesla Model S. Finally, I left this at the end because it offered me some very mixed feelings. As I said in a recent post, the car is really amazing and it offers an experience that you will not find anywhere else. But the quality of the support services is disappointing here in Belgium. I hope that things will improve, even though I’m not holding my breath.

Here’s for a brilliant 2019 and remember, in the end it’s all about getting better.

Security exam tips

Written on 21 December 2018, 05:07pm

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After successfully passing 3 IT security exams this year, here are some high level tips:

  • schedule your exam well in advance to avoid procrastination
  • study from at least two sources
  • use quizzes: they make a huge difference in memorizing things
  • use the learning channels compatible to your brain (ex. I always prefer text or classroom training instead of audio or video)
  • Right before the exam: get a good night sleep the night before
  • schedule your exam in the morning when your brain is fresh
  • try to clear your mind in the hours before the exam
  • resist the temptation to go one more time through your materials before the exam
  • During the exam: keep an eye on the watch
  • don’t go back to a question: make the best effort to answer and then forget it (some exams will not even allow you to revise a question)
  • don’t change your answer (exception: when you realize that you misread the question)

And some basic, but interesting things about security:

  • people are the most important asset
  • but humans are also the weakest link in every security program
  • security is always about protecting the CIA triad
  • security controls can bring the risk to an acceptable level, but there is no such thing as risk zero
  • a company exists for the sole reason of making profit. This means that they will always look at the return of investment as primary metric in evaluating any security control
  • security is not a one-time project to fix things, but rather an ongoing program that needs to be planned and revised periodically
  • complexity is the enemy of security
  • as a security professional, you must learn to tailor your language to your audience
  • you are just an adviser, but not a decision-maker
  • you should act as a prudent man. Like this guy would:
https://breakingbad.fandom.com/wiki/Mike_Ehrmantraut