Mind your passwords

Mind your passwords

Google, Facebook and Apple are the names of a few companies working on artificial intelligence (AI). I don't mean the kind of AI that simply teaches machines to be useful to humans, though that is also being done everywhere. I mean the self-aware kind. After so long at it I think the bigger organisations are locked in a series of dead end paths. Instead, I predict the first breakthroughs will come from small, even one-man operations thinking outside the cube. As an aside, when it comes to the search giants like Google or Yahoo and social media sites like Facebook, they all have their biases so the results you see may not be all that comprehensive, balanced or accurate.

Net even thinking outside the line, let alone the square, politicians in Australia seem confused that their grand plan to block a few torrent listing sites was immediately circumvented by a plethora of mirror locations. People with the tiniest amount of computer knowledge will be quietly laughing behind the politician's backs, with others shouting out "obvious!". For the most part any torrent users didn't even have to bother with a virtual private network (VPN) to get their daily fix let alone having to delve into the dark web.

While I'm sure no Bangkok Post readers fall into this category, Keeper Security recently released a report where they looked at 10 million hacked user accounts to determine how they had been hacked. It turned out that the most popular password was 123456 with 123456789 a close second. A staggering 1.7 million had 123456 as their password, which in the modern age of malware is astounding. Rounding out the top 10 were qwerty, 12345678, 111111, 1234567890, 1234567, password, 123123 and 987654321. Hacking into any of the above would take nanoseconds since this list has not changed much over the last few years.

System administrators in organisations have control over the password rules that users must follow, so if any of them still allow such examples they really should try a new field of work. Any security educators reading this would be banging their heads against a wall, and I don't blame them. It goes to show that education can only do so much, the rest is up to people, still the biggest security risk there is.

Great news for nerds and, well, just people in general. According to some recent Stanford University research a cup of tea, coffee or any of those other strangely named variants could extend your life. Apparently, the daily cuppa can directly combat underlying chronic inflammatory processes, particularly in older people like myself, and this lessens the effects of other health issues. These results come as usual from tests on mice and there are other factors involved like a good diet, some regular exercise and so on. I also doubt drinking that the equivalent of dozens of Jolt Colas a night can be good for you but a modest amount may be.

I was reading that researchers recently reverse engineered 16,000 Android apps on the Google Play store and found that a bit over 300 had secret keys embedded in them. Personally, I was surprised the number was so low but some found this number significant.

The Huawei Mate 9 looks like a top-end smartphone and has the price tag to prove it. With a 5.9-inch screen this is almost a phablet (phone/tablet) but in the hand it feels smaller than the iPhone Plus with its smaller 5.5-inch screen. With a metal case it also feels light so holding it for a while shouldn't be a problem for most people. The device comes with a very accurate fingerprint reader, which seems to be the trend for flagship phones now. A type-C USB port supports very fast charging but only if you use the supplied charger. The 1080p screen seems small but the screen is bright and clear.

The really good news is that Huawei have moved away from their terrible user interface and made it more Android-like. Battery life is good and you should get a couple of days unless you go crazy with media playback. CPU performs well as do the graphics. Call quality is good as is connectivity. The cameras are OK, not the best that technology has to offer but again for the vast majority nothing that is noticeable. This new model has me rethinking my LG V20 alternative but is $200 more. All in all an excellent phone, less expensive than others at the top end but more expensive than we are used to seeing for a Huawei phone. It is certainly worth checking out against the rest of the pack if you are looking for a replacement.

Finally for this week, more and more employers are putting software on their networks to both track and limit what you are doing at work including how you interact with other staff. They are also monitoring your social media platforms so be careful what you do.

James Hein is an IT professional of over 30 years' standing. You can contact him at jclhein@gmail.com.

James Hein

IT professional

An IT professional of over 30 years’ standing. He has a column in Bangkok Post tech pages and has been writing without skipping a beat every week all these years.

Email : jclhein@gmail.com

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