Geoffrey Wells’ Weekly Letter: #4 – Solar, Trance and stolen PII

It’s been an ugly week. The ISIS barbarians who defile Islam and all human decency succeed only to make us more determined to annihilate them. And one of the weapons in our arsenal is making information transparent and accessible.

Africa:

So, some good news: Electric Power is coming to Africa, and it is sustainable.

The irony is that although Africa has a highly developed cellular/telecom infrastructure, there are places where there is no electric power to charge a cell phone. Xavier Helgesen understands that problem and has figured out a way to bring solar power to homes for the cost of what they used to spend to just cook–with kerosene. Now they now can cook, charge their cell phones, connect to the Internet, listen to the radio and watch TV. It’s not charity–they pay for it with mobile payments. It’s a sustainable (and growing) business. Unlike in the U.S. mobile payments in a country like Tanzania, is ubiquitous.  Helgesen works in markets where 90% of the population is off the grid. He normally sees a 30-40% adoption of solar power. For more on this see the Forbes article.

And the food is outrageously good…

ZanzibariFood

Zanzibar: Seafood on the waterfront

Tanzania (and Zanzibar) is a great place to eat.

Ancient travelogues describe Zanzibari rice, ghee, groundnuts, cassava, wild fowls, pulses. – THE INDEPENDENT, FRIDAY 06, 2015.

Music:

I’ve been listening to streamed Trance Groove music this week. It tends to be wallpaper, but some of it is wonderful. Here’s a collection of slabs; do something else, make coffee, read, whatever, but please don’t watch the video. It’s about the music. In the background.

Cybersecurity:

Chalk up another one for the hackers. 80 million people now have their PII (personally identifiable information) compromised. I have Empire Blue Cross/Blue Shield so I’m also a target. Seems they took everything, so what DON’T they have? Passwords. Which means there will be a concerted effort to extract them from me–and you. This is done through phishing on-line, especially on your email. Bloomberg reports that the Chinese cybercrime group that calls itself “Deep Panda” is responsible for the attack.

It is unclear if these are state actors or simply criminals. And I have to wonder if the same short-sighted mentality also believes that ivory is “auspicious”?

Anthem attack:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/videos/2015-02-05/anthem-hack-is-there-anyway-to-stop-data-theft-

Remember that the really dangerous hackers are PATIENT, that is, they will gather this information and keep it (or put it on the black market) so that they can monetize it over an extended period. They will also not want to attract too much attention. See how these cyber criminals evaded detection since 2007. This Cisco article explains.

In THE FACES IN THE RAIN, Allison becomes a proxy for criminals who target her music collaboration site. Given her understanding of how to hide in the noise of Internet traffic, the arrangement was likely to continue. Then she loses her phone…

Protect your passwords. As always, be vigilant of the following:

  1. Emails asking you for your information so that your “records” can be updated.
  2. Phone calls pressuring to give information or “update records”.
  3. Make sure your anti-virus and operating system is the latest version
  4. Only use strong passwords, never less than 8 characters–try something like this: .!.5bT_2 (Write it down and store it in a safe place. More on password vaults in a future blog…)
  5. Where possible use two-factor authentication.

Have a good week, and be safe.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: