Keeping an inventory of what's in your home is a good idea that many people don't think of until it's too late. Even those who do make an effort to inventory their possessions are often put off by the size of the task, the necessity of keeping up with it, and results that leave a lot to be desired. Frostbow Home Inventory 5 Lite makes it easy to record an ongoing inventory of your possessions, what shape they're in, what they cost, and what they're worth. Everything about Frostbow Home Inventory will help ease the … Read more
Two Russians and a Florida man were charged on Monday with hacking into Heartland Payment Systems, 7-Eleven, and the Hannaford Brothers supermarket chain, and stealing data related to more than 130 million credit and debit cards.
The indictment names 28-year-old Albert Gonzalez of Miami, who already has been charged with stealing data related to 40 million credit cards from eight major retailers, including TJ Maxx, and two unnamed co-conspirators based in Russia.
The breach involving Heartland and the others is believed to be the largest hacking and identity theft case ever prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice. In … Read more
Editors' note: This is a guest column. See Ari Juels' bio below.
Internet denizens and urban dwellers alike need to recognize that an era of anonymity is ending.
The population of the world stands at about 7 billion. So it takes only 10 digits to label each human being on the planet uniquely.
This simple arithmetic observation offers powerful insight into the limits of privacy. It dictates something we might call the 10-Digit Rule: just 10 digits or so of distinctive personal information are enough to identify you uniquely. They're enough to strip away your anonymity on the Internet or call out your name as you walk down the street. The 10-Digit Rule means that as our electronic gadgets grow chattier, and databases swell, we must accept that in most walks of life, we'll soon be wearing our names on our foreheads.
A study of 1990 U.S. Census data revealed that 87 percent of the people in the United States were uniquely identifiable with just three pieces of information (PDF): five-digit ZIP code, gender, and date of birth. Internet surfers today spew considerably more information than that. Web sites can pinpoint our geographical locations, computer models, and browser types, and they can silently track us using cookies. Banking sites even confirm our identities by verifying that our log-ins take place at consistent times of day.
Database dossiers, too, carry surprising amounts of identifying information, even when specifically anonymized for privacy. Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin last year studied a set of movie-rating profiles from about 500,000 unnamed Netflix subscribers (PDF).
Knowing just a little about a subscriber--say, six to eight movie preferences, the type of thing you might post on a social-networking site--the researchers found that they could pick out your anonymous Netflix profile, if you had one in the set. The Netflix study shows that those 10 deanonymizing digits can hide in surprising places.
Our physical belongings also betray our anonymity by silently calling out identity-betraying digits. Small wireless microchips--often called radio frequency identification, or RFID, tags--reside inkeys, credit cards, passports, building entrance badges, and transit passes. They emit unique serial numbers.
Once linked to our names--when we make credit card purchases, for instance--these microchips enable us to be tracked without our realizing it. One popular book inflames imaginations with the lurid title, "Spychips: How Major Corporations and Government Plan to Track your Every Move with RFID."
But wireless microchips also highlight the futility of anonymity protections. To begin with, concerns about RFID tracking miss the forest for the trees. After all, mobile phones are ubiquitous and can be tracked at much longer ranges than standalone chips. Many people have GPS receivers in their phones and are signing up for location-based services, voluntarily (if selectively) disclosing their movements. There's little point in hiding the serial numbers of chips when your mobile phone squeals on you.
Many scientists (including me) have developed antitracking techniques for mobile phones and microchips. Instead of fixed serial numbers, wireless devices can call out changing pseudonyms, such as the rotating license plate numbers on spies' cars in the movies. The problem is that the plates may change, but the car always looks the same. In this regard, chips are like cars. … Read more
You don't have to rely on a statistician or SAS to analyze data for projects thanks to this handy app. AcaStat Plus provides the most common tools for performing statistical processes.
It launches a nice-size interface with a large pane taking up most of the window, and a vertical row of displays on the right side of the window that changes based on the procedure chosen in the top display. The large pane is tabbed for manipulating the data: Output, Charts, and Decision Tools, along with Glossary and Handbook. This app performed very satisfactorily in our tests, responding quickly … Read more
Nick Carr's classic vision of cloud computing, The Big Switch, spent a lot of time exploring the evolution of the electric utilities in the early part of the 20th century. That history is a powerful one, and one that shows the true value that can be derived from centralized generation and distribution of a critical commodity.
However, some have taken electricity as an analogy to cloud adoption to an extreme, and declared that there will be a massive and sudden shift from corporate data centers to entirely external cloud computing environments--public cloud utilities, if you will. They are wrong, … Read more
Frequent mail merging can result in multiple entries for a single contact in your address book. This simple add-on removes the duplicates--and the headaches they can cause--with just a single click.
1-Click Duplicate Delete for Outlook is an add-on for Microsoft's popular e-mail client. It loads an easy-to-spot button onto the toolbar for the client's interface. This little app performed nicely in our tests. It quickly scanned our contacts and removed multiple entries, prompting us with the results of its search. Removing the duplicates was a snap. The lack of a Help file or explanation for the add-on'… Read more
Cisco is betting that utilities are more likely to invest in new data centers than new power plants in the coming years.
The tech giant is developing a suite of smart-grid products designed to add networking smarts to the existing grid, including routers for substations and home energy-monitoring systems. But a large chunk of the $20 billion per year in smart-grid spending that Cisco anticipates is in traditional data centers.
Since smart-grid technologies rely on a steady flow of information, Cisco expects that utilities will need to invest in more sophisticated IT systems, said Mark Weiner director of Data Center … Read more
Owners of Time Machine-enabled Macs need not apply. But for the rest--especially small businesses that want a centralized backup solution, then EMC has something for you.
The company announced Tuesday the availability of its Retrospect 8.1 backup software for the Mac platform, which, unlike the previous version 8.0, now also supports the the legacy PowerPC Macs. This is good news for businesses that still have the older Mac computers.
According to EMC, on average, users of Retrospect 8.1 on Intel-based Macs can expect local backup performance to increase from 10 percent to 15 percent over version 8.… Read more
Network Solutions is investigating a breach on its servers that may have led to the theft of credit card data of 573,928 people who made purchases on Web sites hosted by the company.
Networks Solutions notified 4,343 of its nearly 10,000 e-commerce merchant customers on Friday about the breach. It affects 573,928 cardholders whose name, address, and credit card number were exposed between March 12 and June 8, said Susan Wade, a spokeswoman for Network Solutions.
Mysterious code was discovered in early June on servers hosting e-commerce customer sites during routine maintenance, she said. The company … Read more
dB Organizer Deluxe allows users to create and manage databases with ease. The program contains a lot of features but is easy enough to be used by database novices.
The program's interface isn't particularly attractive and is a bit cluttered at first glance, but it's not difficult to figure out how to get started. dB organizer splits the database into a Table of Contents section and a Details section, showing a list of database entries on one side and detailed information about each one on the other. Users can add or edit information in the Details section … Read more