Local Politics

‘It’s official- Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano is President-Elect Obama’s choice for Secretary of Homeland Security. I’ve only been living in Arizona for about 5 years now and have been consistently impressed with Napolitano. She’s a Democratic gove or in a mostly-red state and well respected by everyone except the extreme end of the GOP. Very pragmatic, organized, and level headed. I realize most of you readers aren’t very familiar with her, but as a local constituent she’s a strong choice, known for teaming up with California, New Mexico, and the great nation of Texas to work on plugging some of the federal failures in managing border security. The only loser is Arizona- our Secretary of State will be taking over, switching the state government to single party control with a governor who isn’t really known as a strong leader. Hopefully she’ll rise to the occasion. It’s always an open question how much even the president and cabinet-level positions can change the bureaucracy of our government, but I have high expectations that some of the silliness we’ve seen in DHS- from FEMA to TSA- will slowly be weeded out of the system. As for cybersecurity, it’s still a big question mark. She has experience with border security, law enforcement, and disaster management, but I haven’t noticed IT security to be the biggest priority here in AZ. Can’t win them all… Share:

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The Asset Recovery/Phone Home Software Algorithm

Happy Monday everyone. This year I broke with tradition and actually ventured outside of the house of Black Friday. We didn’t see too many deals, but I did manage to grab a new rolling tool chest for the garage. That was before I heard about the disgusting hoard of lowlifes that killed some poor temp worker in Long Island because he had the gall to stand between them and a plasma TV at Wal-Mart. That incident represents everything that can go wrong with a capitalist society, and this is the last year I’ll be feeding the beast with any Black Friday purchases. Sorry, that really got to me this weekend. Back to cybersecurity… A friend of Any the IT Guy’s is facing a bit of a problem at work. They are replacing their PC infrastructure and are looking at building out new workstation images with a full load of security tools. One they are looking at are asset recovery/phone home tools. You know, the ones that will register their location (as best they can) if someone loses one or it’s stolen and connected to the Internet again. No surprise, I’m not the biggest fan of these tools. Andy raises a series of questions about them: 1. Just how many systems do actually go missing every year? 2. Are they really missing or are they just not being tracked properly as they are moved, replaced, etc? 3. How many systems can they afford to lose per year before they actually see any real value in this program? 4. Can they replace any other applications with this software? Asset tracking, System Monitoring, etc 5. How much of an investment in infrastructure and personnel resources will be required to manage this program. I prefer to use a simple algorithm to measure their value: IF (cost of tool < ((average number laptops recovered/laptops lost) X (average value of laptop X average number laptops lost))) THEN tool != crap Now the tool in question also sounds like a regular asset management tool that also manages software deployments, inventory, and so on. But if this feature costs extra, or you are looking at a dedicated tool, hit the vendor up with my little algorithm to measure value. Share:

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Holiday Bargain Shopping

‘Did you buy one of the deeply discounted Plasma Televisions this weekend? How about a new digital camera? How about eBay? No, not something being sold there, but the company itself. Chris O’Brien over at the San Jose Merc speculates on what it would take to buy the auction site as there have been some rumors floating around on this subject, and indirectly points out why cash is king. Meanwhile while the London times claims Microsoft was doing a little Black Friday shopping of it’s own, another rumor that probably will not die until it is no longer a rumor. What the heck, take half off and let the Holiday rush begin! Share:

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Home Equity Fraud

‘This Sunday’s Arizona Republic picked up Brian Krebs article in the Washington Post about thieves tapping into home equity lines of credit. This is a very interesting, and just because their are people out there who actually still have home equity, but that this is a very simple con with potentially devastating affect. One of which is there was no data theft here, rather the information was mined legally. Second is that when the bank falls for the con, since they believe it was the borrower who made the withdrawal, the borrower has to detect the fraud and provide some form of evidence that it was not they that made the withdrawal. After I read this story, I went out to see what data was available to see if this was possible. Despite a wife who uses this information on a daily basis to perform her job, I was still surprised. The amount and quality of information that is held in public databases, readily accessible to anyone who cares to view it is pretty amazing. If you are not aware of it, when you buy a home, pretty much every piece of information regarding that transaction is logged by the county recorder and placed in the public domain. If you are a homeowner, go out to your county recorders web site and search for the data; your name, address, signature, lender, the amount, possibly the interest rate and a lot of other information as well. Seriously, take a minute and check it out; I think you will be startled as to what you find. Stars, celebrities, politicians along with everyone else. In this particular case there was no data theft theft component in this particular case, rather it was simple and legal data mining for ID theft. They probably were able to cross reference those people who looked like they may have assets with a credit score, and voila, instant target list. A lot of people have had their HELOC, or Home Equity Line of Credit yanked from their banks recently, some amid remodeling projects. Part of the issue is the Banks trying to reduce their exposure on people who are living off their credit lines, but another is this type of fraud. Banks and financial institutions have long had the problem of ‘how do I know its really you’, and thieves often know in advance what the banks ask for in the way of authentication, and either have that information, or a suitable excuse. Had the group in this specific case not been so greedy and tied to move such a large sum of money, I am not sure they would have been caught. And since the perpetrator is able to mask their identity and location, it’s up to the bank’s representative to have enough savvy to not fall for the con. And in that event, it’s trouble for both the lender and hassle for the borrower, so check your statements as this could happen to pretty much anyone. Share:

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