Ira Wilsker

Wilsker

Listening to the news can often be disturbing, especially when we hear stories about massive password thefts. Recently, there were widely broadcast reports 5 million Gmail passwords were stolen, and available online to anyone wishing to use them for nefarious purposes (money.cnn.com/2014/09/10/technology/security/gmail-hack/index.html).

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I often see people walking along a street, in a parking lot, or other location, who are busily using their smart phones, often oblivious to their surroundings. In law enforcement and the military, it is emphasized that individuals need to have “situational awareness” and be fully cognizant about what is going on around them, especially potential threats, at all times. Pedestrians who have their noses deeply buried in their phones are typically unaware of what is going on around them, making them easy targets for those miscreants who may wish to do them harm.

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Now that many of us are in back-to-school mode, it might be noteworthy to introduce a new, free product from Google for students and teachers, Google Classroom. Officially launched on Aug. 12, more than 100,000 educators from more than 45 countries had previously signed up for a functional preview starting last May. While Google is well understood to generate revenue through various forms of advertising, all of the components of Google Classroom (including Gmail) will not contain any advertising, but will still remain free for student and teacher use.

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Recently, I attended a weeklong “Summer Cyber Security Workshop” at Texas Tech University in Lubbock. While we delved into the intricacies of hacking, encryption, penetration testing, cyber forensics, critical infrastructure protection and cybercrime, there was also evidence of a consistent demand from industry for workers trained in the broad field of cyber security.

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In early July, Microsoft released its “Largest collection of free Microsoft eBooks ever, including Windows 8.1, Windows 8, Windows 7, Office 2013, Office 365, Office 2010, SharePoint 2013, Dynamics CRM, PowerShell, Exchange Server, Lync 2013, System Center, Azure, Cloud, SQL Server and much more.” This announcement was posted in an official blog by Microsoft’s Eric Ligman, senior sales excellence manager.

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Over the past several weeks, I have taken several out-of-town road trips. On these trips I used a novel free smart phone app for routing and traffic information called Waze (waze.com). There are an abundance of apps that function with the integral GPS built into almost all smart devices, including smart phones and tablets.

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Our cell phones are often wonderful devices; in addition to the traditional voice phone calls, they also can provide enhanced functionality with Internet access, cameras and SMS (text messaging). Now that smart phones have become the primary communications mode for most of us, it has also become a fertile field for crooks capitalizing on the functionality of our devices.

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Ira Wilsker

Virtually all new laptop (notebook) computers, tablets and smart phones now include some type of webcam (web connected video camera). Some of the newer desktop monitors incorporate an integral webcam, and millions of computer users have an external webcam connected to their computers, typically mounted on the top of the monitor and pointed at the user. External webcams, often only requiring a USB connection, can frequently be purchased for under $20.

There are many legitimate uses for Webcams, as well as some illicit or criminal uses that webcam owners need to be aware of.

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