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The Actuator – April 11th

Level 17

This week's Actuator comes to you from Austin, where I am visiting HQ for a few days in an effort to escape the cold Spring we are having in New England. Here's hoping the cold doesn't follow me like last time when I brought that ice storm.

As always, here are some links from the Intertubz that I hope will hold your interest. Enjoy!

Let's Stop Giving Retailers a Free Pass on Data Breaches

This. Companies will never change until they have a financial incentive to change.

Stop Talking About IoT Security And Do Something About It

Maybe we could stop writing blog posts about IoT security and start providing lists of companies for us to avoid (see above).

Microsoft plans to invest $5 billion in IoT over the next 4 years globally

And there is the first shoe dropping, as a major cloud provider pushes a truckload of cash into IoT. I am certain that Microsoft will spend dollars on improving IoT security.

The space race is over and SpaceX won

This is great news for Elon, and it’s likely going to serve as a distraction from the current financial status of Tesla.

MIT is making a device that can 'hear' the words you say silently

This is a horrible idea. Someone needs to tell MIT to shut this down. Maybe if we all think it, they will get the message.

Facebook reported in 7 countries for breaking European privacy law

And just when Zuck thought things couldn’t get worse.

T-Mobile Austria is OK with Storing Passwords Partly in Clear Text

Just when you thought we had moved beyond corporations doing dumb things in public, T-Mobile in Austria wants you to know that they are also amazingly good at social media.

I like this approach to GDPR compliance:



Hmm, I like snickerdoodles.

There is a place there in Austin where cookies had been procured after lunch one day that were to die for.


maybe we should boycott Microsoft and they might not make IoT worse by infecting everything else with it and then we can help to reduce the data breaches...all with enjoying the cookies their website is using to enhance our experience....

I agree with the observation that retailers are getting a free pass from shareholders and customers, and the result is that breaches will be part of doing business.

And that's NOT acceptable.

IoT Security.  What ARE Thwack members doing about it, both within their companies and at home?  What are they recommending to family members, friends, coworkers, and employers?

My sister texted me yesterday "How does Facebook have the transcript of my telephone conversation with someone else?"

When I explained that smartphones and home IoT devices like Alexa and Siri are always on, always listening, and always reporting everything they hear to the cloud and their home servers, she was dismayed.  I was surprised.  How else do people think voice commands work?  The phone isn't smart enough to NOT hear you when you enable voice-to-text and Alexa and Siri.  Sure, you assume it only uploads conversations after you issue the verbal command to get its attention.

Why would anyone think that's the only time it's listening and uploading?

When Microsoft invests $5B per year on IoT Security alone, then we can start talking about IoT starting to be something that one-day will be safe to use. 

But IoT isn't secure enough to use yet..

As the saying went in recent years:

When I was a boy I dreamed the first people would go to the moon within my lifetime.  I never dreamed I'd see that last people to land on the moon.

But maybe spaceflight simply needed time to retreat into its chrysalis, to morph into something newer, more graceful, and perhaps even better?

Someone thinks combining humans and computers via Bluetooth is a GOOD THING?

Did they not get the memo that Bluetooth is bad for Wifi?  That it's a vector for attacks on smartphones and other devices?

And now they want people connected to Bluetooth?

Armis - BlueBorne Explained - YouTube

I think every Facebook user, if they understood what FB is doing with their text, their photographs, and their conversations, would believe FB is breaking privacy laws everywhere, not just in seven countries.

T-Mobile moving towards partial clear-text passwords means they're moving towards the future the T-Rex had.  Extinction.


Nice article

Level 12

Good Stuff, thanks!

MIT is doing what??? Have we as a race not learn our lesson from Twitter & FB? We started expressing our inner thoughts on these two mediums and at times it has been catastrophic. To vocalise our most inner thoughts will lead to an apocalypse. Let alone the invasion of privacy.

Level 13

Good Series of Articles. Some very scary stuff. Especially the MIT article - imagine the Wife finding out all the things you mutter under your breath.

Level 13

On the other hand, maybe this should be mandatory for all politicians so we can see past the double talk and lies to know what they are really up to.

Level 20

Oh how far we've come since the beginning!

ARPANET and the Origins of the Internet

BBN router

Level 13

Image result for web cookies photo


I hope the retention period on these cookies isn't crazy like some site that set them to expire in 2099 or 3035. 

That could either become uncomfortable (like the MREs - Meals Refuse Exit) or they may have a shelf life that resembles the twinkie.

Heck in most cases anything over 2 years is a waste.


Funny how a space company is about to turn into an ISP, logical in so many ways but how often does that happen.

Level 14

Oh no.  Microsoft and IOT.  Just imagine how bad this will be.  Bug fixes every week.  Products that don't work.  Products that don't talk to each other.  Everyone will have to manage their own Active Directory system to allow management of their own devices.  Windows mobile phones didn't work out so well.  It'll probably be based around Windows 10.

Level 14

MIT  -  Nooooo.

It's the bit about "Then take action" that I don't like.  If I had one it would likely have to 'take action' by killing people  (users, mobile phone watching zombies walking down the street etc.)

Level 14

Data breaches.  Retailers wont do anything until the fines cost more than the cost of fixing the problem in the first place.  They only care about the bottom line.  If the shareholders start voting with their feet they might do something and that will only happen if the share price and dividends fall.

Level 13

Space the final frontier.....One day their will be wifi on Mars, only problem it will take 13 minutes round trip. the speed of light!


Level 17

Constellation of satellites, hmm, as if we don't already have enough stuff in orbit...not including all the space junk/debris that has to be avoided.

Next will be'll already have the communications network in place.

Depending on orbital altitude your latency will vary...I know with satellite internet in the past you had a 1 second latency up and then down.
It breaks vpn...  Fast is long as it isn't interactive so it won't help gaming folks.

About the Author
Thomas LaRock is a Head Geek at SolarWinds and a Microsoft® Certified Master, SQL Server® MVP, VMware® vExpert, and a Microsoft Certified Trainer. He has over 20 years experience in the IT industry in roles including programmer, developer, analyst, and database administrator.