Tech Today w/ Ken May

Archive for April 1st, 2017

An anonymous reader quotes a report from BleepingComputer: A new tool released on GitHub last week can help paranoid sysadmins keep track of whenever someone plugs in or disconnects an USB-based device from high-value workstations. Called USB Canary, this tool is coded in Python and currently, works only on Linux (versions for Windows and Mac are in the works). The tool works by watching USB ports for any activity while the computer is locked, which generally means the owner has left his desk. If an USB device is plugged in or unplugged, USB Canary can perform one of two actions, or both. It can alert the owner by sending an SMS message via the Twilio API, or it can post a message in a Slack channel, which can be monitored by other co-workers. USB Canary can prove to be a very useful tool for large organizations that feature strict PC policies. For example, if you really want to enforce a “No USB drives” at work, this could be the tool for the job. Further, with modifications, it could be used for logging USB activity on air-gapped systems. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Visual Signals/US Army The first update in 30 years to the US Army ” Visual Signals ” (PDF) manual has just been issued. It’s filled with black-and-white sketches on how in-the-field soldiers can signal events to one another—from warning about a “nuclear hazard present” to “take a knee.” The military notes that, for the most part, the signals apply to “both men and women.” Efficient combat operations depend on clear, accurate, and secure communication among ground units, Army aviation, and supporting Air Force elements. Control and coordination are achieved by the most rapid means of communication available between Soldiers and units. When electrical and/or digital means of communication are inadequate, or not available, a station-to-station system of visual communication is an alternate means for transmitting orders, information, or requests for aid or support. The Army notes that the signals are not a panacea for when electronic communications run dry. For starters, they are “vulnerable to enemy interception,” and their effectiveness is “significantly reduced during periods of poor visibility, and when terrain restricts observation.” Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Amazon is taking a tough stance against vendors who sell fully-loaded Kodi boxes and other “pirate” media players through its platform. From a report: The store now explicitly bans media players that “promote” or “suggest” the facilitation of piracy. Sellers who violate this policy, of which there are still a few around, risk having their inventory destroyed. While Kodi itself is a neutral platform, millions of people use third-party add-ons to turn it into the ultimate pirate machine. In some cases, the pirate add-ons are put onto the devices by vendors, who sell these “fully-loaded” boxes through their own stores or marketplaces such as Amazon. The ecommerce giant appears to be well aware of the controversy, as it recently published an updated policy clarifying that pirate media players are not permitted on the platform. Merely ‘suggesting’ that devices can be used for infringing purposes is enough to have them delisted. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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