How to research the right way

I just took a trip to the other side of the tracks.

The Democrat tracks. I am a conservative by nature and by choice, however I was curious what arguments “the other side” gave responding to things such as “The War on Women.”

To be honest, I was incredibly bored with their arguments, but that is beside the point. The point is, I looked at something other than what was right in front of my face. As a conservative Christian I most often limit myself to conservative news sites, rarely watch “mainstream” media, and for home schooling choose solely books with Christian/Creationist viewpoints. However, a trip to the other side is necessary to keep everything in perspective.

Humans are going to take the path of least resistance, and if you have been bathed from the cradle in conservativism, that is most likely going to be what you look at for news. It’s human nature. Likewise, if you were raised liberal or went to a public school you have been soaked and resoaked, whether you know it or not, in the ideals of liberalism.

George Washington said that splitting the nation into political parties would create division, and so it has. I felt like I was reading material from a different country when I went onto a liberal news site. Oh yes, I know it is dangerous to try to think outside the box, to seek out truth for yourself, and to not take everything at face value. Heaven forbid you might learn something new.

Anyway, to the title of the blog post, how to research the right way.

Look at both sides of the issue from a neutral standpoint. Then form an opinion. It’s that simple.

Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to go and-ugh finish a debate assignment due tomorrow. Anyone that has even dabbled in debate knows you have to be ready to argue either side of an issue. Scary, I know. You have to know more than what you were spoon-fed. We can’t have that.

Or can we?

-Kitty1776

Cybersecurity: We Have A Situation

Once inside [the target computer], advanced malware, zero-day and targeted APT attacks will hide, replicate, and disable host protections. After it installs, it phones home to its command and control (CnC) server for instructions, which could be to steal data, infect other endpoints, allow reconnaissance, or lie dormant until the attacker is ready to strike. Attacks succeed in this second communication stage because few technologies monitor outbound malware transmissions. Administrators remain unaware of the hole in their networks until the damage is done.

-FireEye Security

*If you don’t understand that quote, see the “More” tag at the end of the post.

Malware is a different animal than it was five or ten years ago. It is smoother, stealthier, more secretive, and stronger, in computer terms, than even many of the strongest of security applications.

So why is this so important? People get viruses on their computers all the time; what’s the big deal?

During the civil war, new weapons were used. Incredible advances had been made since the Revolutionary war, however the same old tactics were being used. This resulted in unforeseen casualties. I believe the same thing is happening in the cybersecurity world. Major companies are being hacked. Vital data is being stolen, our security tools are out of date. We’re trying to fight a war with old, outdated weapons. Safety in numbers is not an option. Computers are as safe in numbers against malware as a crowd of people against one man with a machine gun.

Allow me to go over some of the major security vulnerabilities of 2013-2014.

Target

Seventy million accounts at Target have been stolen. ‘Nuff said. However, let me expound.

Target has invested in robust security software called FireEye, of such a caliber that the Pentagon uses it. On November 30, malware was planted in Target computers for the first time. FireEye warned the Minneapolis security team. On December 2, FireEye warned the security team again because a second piece of malware was planted in Target computers. At this point data began flowing out to Moscow, where the hackers seemed to be based. The malware-planting cycle continued three more times, each time FireEye warning Target’s Minneapolis Security team. The biggest issue is, that the security did nothing for two weeks.

Big problem.

Update 5/2/2014

All U.S. retailers with independent cards-not just Target-are required to implement cards with computer chips in them by October 2015 or the responsibility for breaches will fall solely on their shoulders. These are disasters waiting to happen, perhaps more so than the magnetic strip cards.

These cards (called SmartCard or RFID cards) have chips in them that machines will scan; they are supposedly impossible to replicate, which is what people are going for. Even if they are, there is technology that can scan them from in your wallet, whether it’s in your pocket, purse, or under your mattress. The scan will net anyone who has the scanner the card number, and he/she will be able to track where that card is all the time-usually wherever you are.

Pretty scary, huh?

“Heartbleed”

This could be called the most widespread data breach in history, and many people haven’t even heard about it. Two years ago, hackers discovered a vulnerability in open-source secure socket layer encryption software (OpenSSL), which they exploited to find usernames and passwords to anyone who uses the site where this encryption was used. The most highlighted example is Yahoo! email accounts. Running the Heartbleed software on a yahoo website gave a reporter 200 usernames and passwords. Not to mention the fact that this hole has been left open for two years on many websites. I have seen the effects of heartbleed. In the month leading up to the detection, I got three malware-infested emails from friends with yahoo accounts, two from the same email account. Not to mention the countless others I’d received in the past two years. It’s time to change all Yahoo! passwords.

Michael’s Arts and Crafts

Finally we get to the largest underplay in hacking history. I heard maybe two television reports on the Michael’s data breach, one to say there might be a problem and another to say there was a problem but it’s under control.

So what’s the big deal here? It’s under control!

That’s what Michael’s would love to have you believe. Unfortunately, there is no way of truly knowing how much data was stolen unless you get your hands on the source code of the actual malware. You can guess, you can assume, but there is no way to really know. This hole was open for nearly a year, from May 13 to January 27, 2014. It was confirmed sometime in mid-April 2014. The Target hole was open for only two weeks and it got an estimated (keyword estimated) 70 million customer profiles. The Michael’s breach was open for nine months and an estimated 2.6 million cards were affected. Once again, keyword estimated. They don’t really know. Not to mention that this is the second data breach of Michael’s stores since 2011. Time for some new security software.

In Conclusion…

  • There were three major data breaches discovered in 2014.
  • Malware stays ahead of software, instead of the other way around.
  • There is no way to really know how much damage was done by malware.

Update: 5/2/2014

Microsoft discovered a hole in Internet Explorer the day I wrote this post that hackers can exploit to badger you into clicking on a malicious link, and then proceed to take control of your entire computer. That means, if they have control of your entire computer, they can access everything you have stored on your computer. All your personal documents, tracking cookies, bank account numbers, passwords saved in your browser-everything.

Continue reading

National Debt: A Problem

Okay, so the post I wrote last time was a little bit condescending.
I apologize.
However, I have stumbled on my next posting topic: Debt.
It would be ludicrous, foolhardy, and nonsensical to attempt to explain the numbers and reasons of all debt in one short post, so I decided to break this up into several short posts to make it easier to wrap your mind around. This post:The Federal Debt.
The mainstream media has largely shushed the federal debt. I know that. I know that because I haven’t heard one peep out of any TV news program about the federal debt since Washington had a partial shutdown in October. Which brings me to a question: Do you know what the federal debt is?
The federal debt is (drum roll please)…
17.565 trillion dollars.
Million. Billion. Trillion. To put this into perspective, that is 175,000,000,000 one hundred dollar bills. That’s a lot. How did we get this way? Let’s start with the paychecks of political figures.
The President: $400,000/yr
Speaker of the house: over $200,000/yr
Senator/Representative: $174,000/yr
Okay, so now let’s look at the welfare system:
Social Security: $822 billion
Medicare/Medicaid: $778 billion
The other big-ticket item is Defense/Wars. We spend $600 billion on that. Granted, we’re not in a war, but in this nuclear age, we need to have a strong defense, because, contrary to what Congress would like us to believe, there is no way to avoid the sketchy behaviour of certain people.
But let’s return to the big figure. 17 and a half trillion dollars. In debt.
In the year 2000, America was 5.5 trillion dollars in debt. That’s a lot. However, the debt was falling, and we had a budget surplus of 153.4 billion dollars. We were set up for success.
Then in the year 2004, we had bumped up our debt to 7.2 trillion dollars, however we had a budget surplus of 387.2 billion dollars.
In 2008, we had 9.6 billion dollars of debt, and 239 billion dollars in budget surplus.
George Bush spent 2 trillion extra dollars a term.
Barack Obama has spent nearly 2 trillion dollars a year.
It makes me wonder what he has been doing with 8 trillion dollars that America doesn’t have.

Truth Has Never Been Relative

Hello Blog World.

I have now joined the ranks of 152 million people who have created blogs. What makes my blog so different?

I am a Christian. I am a conservative. I am concerned.

Concerned about the lives lost daily to morning after pills and abortion clinics. Concerned about the science curriculum taught in our schools. Concerned about the Affordable Care Act.

But what I’m most concerned about, is the apathy.

It seems like everyone these days is going through life with their blinders on. As long as we can bury our eyes in our smartphones, life is good (until you run into a light pole on the sidewalk). We just let the politicians in Washington run everything and expect that they don’t need or want any help from us. We turn a blind eye to the homeless man on the sidewalk and say “Oh, the government will take care of him.” Many parents drop their kids off at daycare and say “Oh, they’ll take care of little Junior all day no problem,” and wonder why their kid is so unruly at bedtime. Quite a few of us read the paper…um I mean watch the news at night and assume that there is nothing else worth reporting going on in the world.

No.

There is so much more going on than meets the eye. When Minnesota legalized gay marriage, they didn’t take into account that gays live about half as long as their heterosexual peers.

Nobody even thought to think the unthinkable. That the Bible, that old book that nobody reads anymore, could have been right all along.

I will prove to  you using facts and stats why the Bible has been right all along. I will prove to you that almost everyone in Washington cares for themselves and themselves alone. I will also bring up another point that fundamentally weakens America’s central infrastructure-the national debt.

This blog will enlighten you. It will scare you. It will make you aware of your surroundings. That is the most essential ingredient of a free America. Thomas Jefferson said that when America was founded.

Never trust what information is fed to you. Seek it out for yourself.

Truth Has Never Been Relative.

-Kitty1776