Vegard Skjefstad

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Tag: Internet (page 1 of 15)

Why Should I Use a Password Manager?

Short answer: You should use a password manager because good passwords are hard to remember. Long answer: See below.

To log on to a website on the internet, you normally have to provide a username and a password. A good password is a long one because the more characters a password has, the longer it takes for a hacker’s computer to guess it. But it’s also generally hard to remember long passwords, and many people tend to use the same password – and often username – on all the websites they log in to.

When you use the same credentials everywhere, there’s a higher chance a hacker can figure out your username and password.

Actually, it’s very likely that it has already happened.

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Google Bans Gab app

Just as the Gab app hit the trending top spot on the Google Play Store, Google banned it. Will this potentially make life hard for the entire Fediverse?

The far-right social network Gab has now completed its transition to Mastodon. The main motivation was to make a foothold in the mobile app stores. Gab’s previous attempts at distributing a mobile client failed because Apple and Google both removed the it from their respective app stores. The companies cited violation of their policies against hate speech as reason for the removal.

By moving to Mastodon and the ActivityPub protocol, Gab no longer needs to distribute their own mobile client. Instead, their members can, at least in theory, download a generic Mastodon client, and log on to Gab’s Mastodon instance. This prompted some client developers to change the application code so that their client doesn’t work with Gab’s Mastodon instance.

But Mastodon clients are mostly FLOSS. Gab simply copied the source code, removed the blocking code, and compiled their own version of the Mastodon client. This happened to Tusky, and a Gab-branded version of Tusky was available in the Google Play Store.

At least for a short while.

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The Rebirth of Webrings

Will the rebirth of webrings save your personal website from the corporate web?

Back in the 1990s social media was still a distant nightmare. If you wanted people to know about your personal website, you couldn’t just tweet about it to your loyal Twitter followers, or post to Facebook. Instead, you had to manually add your website to search engines like Yahoo! and Lycos, use a ping service, try to get on to someone’s blogroll1, or join a webring.

A webring is – or rather was – a collection of websites linked together in a circular fashion. If you joined a webring, you had to add the ring’s navigation bar to your site, and the bar contained links to the previous and next site in the ring. Most webrings were organized around a specific theme, like personal websites, comics, and movies.

The webrings were popular in the 1990s and early 2000s, but as search engines became better at indexing the world wide web, and the social media beast awakened, webrings became obsolete. One of the main webrings sites was WebRing.com, which, through various acquisitions, landed in Yahoo!’s lap in 1999. Unfortunately, their attempt to streamline the site ended in a veritable dumpster fire, and Yahoo! stopped supporting WebRing.com in April of 2001.

Since then, the webring concept has been pretty much dead in the water. A few webring sites, like WebRing.org and RingSurf, are still online, but most their webrings contain sites that went offline a long time ago.

Perhaps the ongoing rebirth of the personal website also means the rebirth of webrings?

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The Rebirth of the Personal Website

The personal website didn’t really die. It just went into hibernation while people tried out social media sites that eventually screwed them over.

When the World Wide Web first saw the light of day, it was basically just a collection of information that people couldn’t interact with. This gradually changed as colleges, universities, and ISPs began to allow students and customers to have personal web pages on their servers. Some nerds, like myself, took it a step further, and started self-hosted personal websites, not relying on our place of study or ISP. After a while, users running personal webpages added ways for their readers to interact with them. Many of you probably remember the lovely guestbook.

With the launch of YouTube and Facebook came the creation of the Web 2.0, and a torrent of user-generated content. Instead of hosting content they had made themselves, Web 2.0 companies mainly focused on hosting content generated by their users. They also made it so easy for people to upload content that everyone and their granny could create something and put it online. The internet was no longer a place for nerds only, and the web became social.

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Let’s Hack Car Alarms!

If you have a car, there’s a good chance it has a car alarm. But did you know that a hacker can simply hack car alarms, and take off with your precious vehicle?

We’ve already seen how ridiculously easy it is to hack medical equipment, and so-called “smart” cities. This time we’ll see how simple it is to hack something a little less critical; car alarms.

Researchers at British penetration testing and security services firm Pen Test Partners had a look at the security of two of the largest aftermarket car alarm vendors, Viper and Pandora. Like with the medical equipment and smart cities hacks we’ve discussed earlier, both Viper and Pandora had a basic security flaw in their products. The insecure direct object reference (IDOR) vulnerability allowed an attacker to hijack and take complete control of user accounts. The IDOR is a kind of vulnerability this is typically covered in any Internet Security 101 class.

Now that the hacker has control of your Viper or Pandora car alarm, what can they do?

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