20160619 news roundup

This blog is still an experiment, so I may try different things from time to time. Today I’m going to post a few news items that caught my interest lately. This serves a couple of purposes. It gives me a place to keep these things for later reference, and maybe it’ll provide you or me with something to put in a story.

Don’t use default passwords

The Liberal Party of Quebec uses video conferencing software to facilitate and/or record their meetings. No doubt they would prefer that the content of these meeting be confidential, but whoever set up the software left it with a default password. So it was easy enough for someone to connect to the videoconferencing software and to provide a vendor default password (which is probably in a publicly-available product manual). Someone did this and downloaded and published live and archived meeting content. This is a good illustration of the danger of not changing vendor default passwords.

Never shop for anything. Ever.

It’s getting harder and harder to have much privacy online. Sites like to track us as we browse the web, trying to figure out how ads affect our online shopping habits. And now it may be getting even worse. Facebook is planning to track us using our phones’ GPS and by the wireless access points our phones see (even if we don’t connect to the access points, our phones see them). Facebook can then sell this data to the owners of physical stores: “This many people physically visited one of your brick-and-mortar stores within this many days of viewing your advertisement online.” This is like that scene in Minority Report when the billboards address the Tom Cruise character by name as he walks through a store. I disable location services (GPS) on my phone, and when I think of it I turn off wireless when I’m away from home and work. It saves the battery, and it may help my privacy.


For those of us who wonder about humanity’s ability to detect alien spacecraft, here’s an interesting data point. Asteroid 2016 HO3 has been a quasi-satellite of Earth for decades, and it was only discovered in April of this year. It’s probably between 120 and 300 feet in size. Imagine sitting in the stands of an American football stadium and looking at an object (or a space vessel) that starts at one end zone and stretches at least to the 40-yard line (and maybe to the opposing end zone). 2016 HO3 never gets very close (it wanders around between 38 and 100 times the distance between the Earth and the moon), but that might be close enough to get a look at us.

And today I learned that NASA has a Planetary Defense Coordination Office. They even have an organizational chart.


Author: carl

A web programmer and Linux system administrator who would like to be a writer.