Skip to main content
My Insecurity Problem

Between last night and this morning, I wasted 90 minutes on the phone with a hotel's technical support because of troubles using the in-room wireless network. I see the problems as underscoring the challenges Microsoft faces in delivering Windows XP Service Pack 2 and getting businesses and consumers to appropriately adjust behavior.



My problem started before I connected. The updated Windows XP informed me that the network was not secue, meaning it was open, because no WEP was required. So, that led to the first support call and assurances that password and user name at the gateway protected the network. Unconvinced, I pushed up the protection settings on XP's built-in firewall and connected.

But, rather than be prompted for user name and password (I had been given free access for my two-day stay), I could only get access to a page wanting to bill my room. Looks like the Website either wanted to use an ActiveX control, pop-up window or both, which are automatically blocked by Service Pack 2. Call No. 2 to tech support.

To resolve the problem, I had to give out my wireless card's MAC address, which I balked at doing. No choice, if I wanted to connect to the Internet from my room. Finally, after almost 45 minutes I connected to the Internet.

Five minutes later came call No. 3. I couldn't send e-mail, a situation I have never encountered in my travels. This new problem had to do with how the wireless provider had configured its SMTP servers. The tech guy wanted me to just enter the ISP's mail server into the Outlook settings. I refused, and he flipped some switch that got outbound e-mail going. Around 11 p.m., last night sending stopped again.

I waited until this morning to place the fourth call, where I learned the nature of the problem: The hotel redirects all outgoing e-mail to its own SMTP servers. But the process won't work if the e-mail client normally connects to secure SMTP servers, meaning those requiring a user name and password, as mine do. So, the tech support guy wanted me to turn off secure mail, which I refused to do. Later, he turned off the forwarding function, which got e-mail sending again. I'm curious to see how long this will last.

Microsoft is rightly concerned about the problem of unpatched consumer computers, which have been fingered for spreading viruses and spam. But, many businesses continue to use weak security, simply because there is no sound security policy in place. A hotel is a high-touch business, where thousands of computers a day use a network that could expose them to unnecessary risk. I'm aghast at the kind of problems I have had here and frustrated by the amount of time wasted fixing them in patch-up fashion.

I will say this: Service Pack 2 changes raised my overall security awareness and added new layers of protection on this trip. But my experience also is lesson that Microsoft's security effort will be much bigger than making its OS more secure. Companies need to adapt and implement sound security, particularly high-touch businesses like hotels. [via Microsoft Monitor]

Comments

Anonymous said…
NOOOOOOOOOO you used microsoft and security in the same sentance *breaks down into tears*...and worse you used windows and security in the same sentance :(((( They just dont go i tell ya!!



_______________
Help Desk Software Consultant

Popular posts from this blog

The Mandate of Heaven

eGov Monitor Version

“Parliament”, said my distinguished friend “has always leaked like a sieve”.

I’m researching the thorny issue of ‘Confidence in Public Sector Computing’ and we were discussing the dangers presented by the Internet. In his opinion, information security is an oxymoron, which has no place being discussed in a Parliament built upon the uninterrupted flow of information of every kind, from the politically sensitive to the most salacious and mundane.

With the threat of war hanging over us, I asked if MPs should be more aware of the risks that surround this new communications medium? More importantly, shouldn’t the same policies and precautions that any business might use to protect itself and its staff, be available to MPs?

What concerns me is that my well-respected friend mostly considers security in terms of guns, gates and guards. He now uses the Internet almost as much as he uses the telephone and the Fax machine and yet the growing collective t…

Civilisational Data Mining

It’s a new expression I haven’t heard before. ‘Civilisational data mining.’

Let me start by putting it in some context. Every character, you or I have typed into the Google search engine or Facebook over the last decade, means something, to someone or perhaps ‘something,’ if it’s an algorithm.


In May 2014, journalists revealed that the United States National Security Agency, the NSA, was recording and archiving every single cell-phone conversation that took place in the Bahamas. In the process they managed to transform a significant proportion of a society’s day to day interactions into unstructured data; valuable information which can of course be analysed, correlated and transformed for whatever purpose the intelligence agency deems fit.

And today, I read that a GOP-hired data company in the United States has ‘leaked’ personal information, preferences and voting intentions on… wait for it… 198 million US citizens.

Within another decade or so, the cost of sequencing the human genome …

Mainframe to Mobile

Not one of us has a clue what the world will look like in five years’ time, yet we are all preparing for that future – As  computing power has become embedded in everything from our cars and our telephones to our financial markets, technological complexity has eclipsed our ability to comprehend it’s bigger picture impact on the shape of tomorrow.

Our intuition has been formed by a set of experiences and ideas about how things worked during a time when changes were incremental and somewhat predictable. In March 1953. there were only 53 kilobytes of high-speed RAM on the entire planet.

Today, more than 80 per cent of the value of FTSE 500* firms is ‘now dark matter’: the intangible secret recipe of success; the physical stuff companies own and their wages bill accounts for less than 20 per cent: a reversal of the pattern that once prevailed in the 1970s. Very soon, Everything at scale in this world will be managed by algorithms and data and there’s a need for effective platforms for ma…