Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from October, 2016

Family Tech: DOS attack reminds us to be prepared - October 28, 2016

I hate it when the world mocks a recent column. Two weeks ago I extolled the virtues of the Internet of Things devices. This week, they helped cripple large parts of the Internet for the better part of a day.
On Friday the 21st, users were unable to reach sites like Twitter, Pinterest, CNN and many others. These sites all used the DYN Corporation to manage their DNS services.
When you type in an Internet address, like InsideNova.com, the request is first routed to a Digital Name Service server. There the name is found in a database, and a number is returned to your browser. That number tells your browser where to find the actual InsideNova web server on the net.
If that DNS server is down, then your browser will not find the content you are seeking.  
 DYN manages the DNS servers for the companies that became unreachable Friday. DYN was attacked by an unknown entity using a denial of service attack, or DOS for short.
In a DOS attack a site is flooded with traffic, overwhelming its servers …

Tech apps can make that commute just a bit easier - October 21, 2016

A few weeks ago I mentioned I had a new car. The new car was for a new job, and a daily commute to the Reston/Herndon area.  For the first time in 14 years I have a more or less typical commute for this area. I’ve come to see my car as yet another piece of digital technology. And while my physical life may not be the best organized, my digital life is efficiently optimized. So I set out to find the best suite of tools to make my commute more efficient, while not distracting from driving safely. Since a big part of any job is to arrive on time, my commute efforts begin upon waking. Google Now on my Android phone tells me as soon as I turn off my alarm how long my commute will take on my normal route. This gives me an idea of the urgency needed in getting ready for work. The last part of my morning preparation has me at my computer checking personal email and dealing with column and blog issues. One of my open browser tabs is Google Maps. It shows my route to work along Fairfax County P…

Family Tech: Internet of Things is already here - October 14, 2016

It used to be the only thing in our homes hooked to the Internet were our PCs. In a short amount of time, we added phones and tablets. Now, there are a multitude of things we can connect to the net, in our home and in the outside world.
This concept is called the Internet of Things, or IoT for short. The Internet of Things will dramatically change the world and, if we choose, our homes.
IoT in the world can be sensors along the roadside that report traffic flow. It can be power meters already in many homes that automatically report meter readings to utility vehicles that pass your street.
IoT can be sensors monitoring pipelines, medical equipment monitoring patients as they go about their day, buoys at sea watching for tsunamis, remote seismometers, and new uses every day.
IoT may already be in your home. There are home automation lights you can control from your phone, the Harmony remote control system for controlling TVs and other home entertainment, the Ring doorbell or any of the…

Family Tech: Be sure to ensure the kids’ safety online - September 30, 2016

My brother’s granddaughter called her grandmother four times Friday after school.  When an 8-year-old can place a video call for free, cross country, from her own tablet, it struck me again just how easy kids can communicate these days.

Therein lies the great benefit, and the profound risk of online life.

The 8-year-old can communicate with friends--hopefully ones she knows in real life--but also ones she has met online.  How do you teach a child that not everyone is good, not everyone is really 8 when they say they are, and the other cautions they need to learn sooner than later?

And it is not only children who need to be taught to be safe online. We can all fall prey to bad actors online. And we need to help our senior citizens understand the dangers online as they are often the target for financial scams.

Thankfully there are some powerful resources out there to help parents, kids and seniors.

Our county schools teach from materials found at Netsmartz.org. Parents should review the mate…