Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.

4/23/2019

Throw Away Drives

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Never trust a Network Admin with a screwdriver,The Dark Side,The Day Job — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 7:00 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Please, be careful.

We tend to treat USB thumb drives as essentially disposable these days, which, considering their low cost, they basically are.  At least, in one sense.  The problem is, those cheap, little drives still store an awful lot of data.  I recently read an article titled “You left WHAT on that USB drive?!” where the authors talk about several studies, formal and informal, where researchers scooped up random USB drives, either from eBay or the lost and found, to see what was on them.  The results are a little terrifying.  According to the article, “…about two-thirds of second-hand USB memory sticks bought in the US and the UK have recoverable and sometimes sensitive data. In one-fifth of the devices studied, the past owner could be identified.”  What’s more, in the case of one study, out of 200 drives, only 34 of them had been properly wiped out.  That’s just 17% of the drives.  Several had been formatted, but still had data that could be recovered off them.  Yes, that’s right, even reformatting the drives does NOT guarantee that they will be properly wiped out.

What’s more, the data that was left behind was of a very sensitive nature in many cases.  Everything from tax information to naked photos to photos of a soldier on deployment and at home, including the soldier’s address.  And, again, reformatting is not enough.  At least 8 drives out of the 200 examined had been reformatted, but had data on them that could still be recovered!  So, what can be done?
Personally, I tend to use USB drives until they absolutely don’t work at all any more, and I try not to put personal data on them in any case.
One solution is to get a USB drive that can be encrypted.  I’ve used several versions of the LaCie Imakey that includes an encrypted partition and utilities to manage it, but that doesn’t seem to be available any more.  A replacement might be the Kingston Digital Data Traveler Locker, which lets you set a password to restrict access, as well as doing hardware encryption of some kind and even backing up to the cloud in case the drive gets lost.  Granted those drives can get a little pricey, but how much does it cost to deal with the potential identity theft that lax personal security might bring?

If you have drives, USB or otherwise, that you’re looking to get rid of, then at least sanitize them before they go.  There are a lot of articles and utilities available to help you with that.  One that covers pretty much every drive you might have is How to securely erase external hard drives, SD cards, or flash drives, which details the steps as well as suggesting utilities to help you.  Now, for the most part, I assume that if you read this blog, as opposed to my other blog, Use Your Words, then you’re a geek like me and can handle more than consumer-grade procedures and software.  If that’s the case, or you’re feeling particularly brave, one great utility I’ve used is Darik’s Boot and Nuke aka DBAN.  It’s a free ISO you can download to make a bootable disk/drive that will let you securely wipe a drive before disposing of it.  It’s simple to use and free, but if you’re not comfortable burning an ISO to a disk or thumbdrive, then I’d recommend getting a more consumer-friendly product.

Either way, it’s a scary world out there to let your precious data roam free without a keeper, so be careful with those cheap, “throw away” drives.  If you’re not careful how you use them, they could get pretty expensive.


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us."
   --Ralph Waldo Emerson

5/18/2018

Lost Voice Comedian

Filed under: Fun — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:05 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Even without being able to speak, his comedic timing is perfect.

Seriously, this comedian is completely hilarious and all his humor is very personal. The video is great, and short, so a quick watch for a break on Friday. It’s from the Britain’s Got Talent show and brought to us via Boing Boing; the Lost Voice Guy. He tried out for the show and, in spite of not being able to speak without a machine, managed to be very funny. And, yes, a lot of his humor is based around his disabilities. He’s still very funny. You can see more at his website, Lost Voice Guy.

Again, he’s good for a laugh, and he’s got a great attitude along with his humor. He’s well worth a few minutes of your Friday, and you’ll feel a bit better afterwards, I think.
Enjoy!

This was originally posted on Use Your Words.

12/22/2017

Charitable Giving

Filed under: About The Author,Marginalia and Notes from the Editor,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Snake which is mid-morning or 10:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

As someone who’s been the beneficiary of charitable giving, I heartily endorse it!

And, actually, you may have enjoyed the benefits of charity, directly or indirectly, too. For instance, if you have had cancer or know someone who has had cancer, you’ve benefited from money donated to cancer research from any of a number of charities. If you’ve used Wikipedia, you have only been able to do so due to donations made to that organization. Also, I know that it’s at least partially my upbringing in the Methodist Church that has helped me form the belief that I should give back some of what I’ve been given. I don’t give it all to a church these days, but I do still like to give to worth causes. That seems like an especially important thing to both believe and do these days with the social and political climate being what they are. If you feel the same, but aren’t sure where to give, I have a couple suggestions.
First of all, there’s the Boing Boing 2017 Guide to Charitable Giving. I don’t necessarily endorse all the charities they list, but there are some good ones there, though several are out of the UK and may not be to my American audience’s taste.
Secondly, I’d like to recommend that you consider giving to established charities in your local area. Find a homeless shelter or women’s shelter to give to this year, maybe, or, my personal favorite, a local stray animal rescue. I lean toward donating toward the most helpless in need in my local area. I like the animal rescues because it’s such a huge problem where I live and it’s mostly domestic animals that have been mistreated one way or another. Domesticated animals are our responsibility and we should step up to that.

So, this Friday before Christmas, I hope you’ll forgive me for getting up on a soap box, but I truly believe that if we want the world to be a better place, we have to make it that way. One way I choose to do that is to donate to worthy causes. Besides, if you donate now, you can take it off your taxes, so it’s a “win-win” situation!

Anyway, I hope you’ll think about it and, either way, have a Merry Christmas.

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

3/31/2017

Free Public Domain Photography Books

Filed under: Art,Photography,The Infinite Library — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

You know how I like free.

I started out the year talking big about stepping up my photography, but, honestly, between a new job, my wife’s business, and trying to refinance our house to get a better mortgage rate before they go up, I just haven’t done that. I still intend to, eventually. Honest.
In the mean time, however, I have been stacking up ebooks on photography in my queue. I always hope that if I can read enough about the art and science of photography, I’ll get motivated and get out with my camera more often. We’ll see how that goes, especially considering how backed up my reading queue is these days. At least, I didn’t spend a lot of money on my latest batch of photography books. And, if you’re looking for some free alternatives to inspire your own photographic I have good news for you, Project Gutenberg has hundreds of free, public-domain photography books digitized for you to load up on. They have everything from the really old developing and printing processes that photographers used to use to books of actual photography for raw inspiration.

In any case, they’re all free and, hopefully, interesting enough to get a fellow stuck photographer inspired enough to get going again.
Enjoy and we’ll see you next week!

This post originally appeared at Use Your Words.

8/6/2013

American Jobs

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Monkey which is in the late afternoon or 5:50 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a New Moon

I know this will sound nationalistic, and, as one UK ex-pat coworker termed it “jingoistic”, but I believe in American Jobs for American Workers.

That may not make me popular with some folks, even in IT, but, that’s okay.
Why am I on my teeny, tiny political soapbox today?  Why else?  An article on Slashdot about a US worker filing a lawsuit against Infosys, an Indian search firm, for ignoring her many, very relevant qualifications and submitting an Indian, who was less qualified, for the same job.  That’s discrimination.  And, it’s illegal.
I hope she takes them too the cleaners.

Look, I know it’s not always a popular position, but when I hear about how many people are unemployed and then I hear how we need to raise H1B1 caps and import more of our workforce, something doesn’t sound right to me.  Seriously, hire your out-of-work fellow citizens before hiring someone who’s been brought in from another country.  But, first, make sure that they’re qualified.  If, and only if, there really, truly isn’t someone from your own country who’s qualified, or who could be relatively easily trained to do that job, then, look at foreigners.
The fiscal blood-letting has got to stop sooner or later.
And, if you’re a “C”-level executive?  Maybe it’s time to think about smaller profit margins and a more reasonable salaries and bonuses.  How much is really enough?  How many have to starve just so you can have one more vacation that you spend on your cell phone anyway?

Something’s got to change.

5/11/2012

How Much Are You Worth?

Filed under: Art,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:19 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

I mean, on a piece by piece basis.

Have you ever wondered just how much you’re worth?  And, I don’t mean that old thing about how much the various chemicals that make up a human body are worth, but how much are we worth, as assembled?  You know, on the basis of our individual parts.  I’ve often joked about paying off debt by selling a kidney, but, sometimes, I honestly wonder just how much I would get if I could actually do that.
Well, now there’s a handy reference chart to tell you just how much your body parts are worth.  No joke.
The chart is priced in UK Pounds Sterling, so you’ll need to convert it, but, still, it’s pretty fascinating.

Incidentally, this is theory only, since you can’t actually, legally,  sell body parts, as far as I know.  And, I would assume there are variations in price based on the quality of the part.  Also, since I’m a cancer survivor, I actually can’t even give away my parts.  No one would want them any more.  How sad for me!  There goes my “get out of debt” plan!

Anyway, it’s a fun, if somewhat ghoulish, way to spend a little slack time on a Friday, so enjoy!


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