FRII Break Room

Informal tech chatter from the geeks of Northern Colorado’s largest commercially available data center

A Beginners Guide to Network Devices

Devices Everywhere

computers, smartphones, scanners, printers, servers, IP phone routers, and switches all connected to the Internet

With modern advancements in computing, consumers are demanding more and more data. We think its really interesting how these technologies work, which devices play an integral role in allowing other devices to communicate, and hope you do too! This article provides a simple overview of the types of devices that comprise a network and how they interact to transmit information from one place to another.

Let’s look at specifics

Data Privacy: Are you protected?

Data Privacy Day - Your privacy is in dangerPrivacy of personal information is a contentious issue. In a day and age when people share more information about themselves than ever before, intentionally or not, there is an intrinsic value in privacy that we cannot forsake.

Data Privacy and anonymity afford us protection, ensuring certain information cannot be used to harm us.

Data Privacy protects our bank accounts from being robbed and safeguards our health and welfare from the eyes of those who would target us among the masses.
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Why Internet Slowdown Day Matters

loading wheel as seen when websites are slow to load

If certain large carriers get their way, many sites may load slower for consumers.

Your Internet connection might look like it is slower than normal today, Wednesday, September 10, 2014. This is due to an online, grassroots protest called Internet Slowdown Day. Your connection will be working just fine, but many sites — including top web sites such as Google, Netflix, Amazon, and Reddit — will be showing a constant loading symbol.

Why are they doing this? To gain the public’s attention regarding the on-going net neutrality debate. (see our earlier post: How Net Neutrality Affects You)
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Warning: Email phishing attacks are targeting you

Do you know how to tell a legitimate email from a targeted phishing attack?

fish hook

Phishing scams try to “hook” you into believing they come from legitimate businesses so that you’ll reveal personal or secure information.

Sometimes it’s not easy to tell what’s real and what isn’t, even for the most sophisticated email user. This article will help you or someone you care about learn what to look for so that your information stays safe.

Within the past few years, there’s been an increase in the ability of the average email user to detect and delete spam. This has not gone unnoticed, particularly by the spammers who have a direct financial interest in obtaining our confidential information. Because of this, the percentage of people who respond to spam has remarkably decreased. Now, though, we’re seeing an increase in the type of targeted spam known as phishing. We’ve entered the next evolution of email scams, and things are just heating up.
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The Trouble with Passwords

Password Strength from xkcd

Popular web comic xkcd shows why most people’s hard to remember passwords aren’t very safe. Click image for full size. (license here)

Many people have trouble with passwords. And since the discovery of the Heartbleed bug, there’s a lot of frustration as people are asked to change their passwords on multiple sites. I think that most of this frustration stems from the habit we, as an Internet society, have of creating hard to remember passwords. And because we create hard to remember passwords, we tend to use tricks to help us — and these tricks make them easier to be cracked.

So here’s a list of things a lot of us do, but shouldn’t, along with things most of us don’t do, but probably should. These should make your passwords more secure and easier to remember.
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PSA: Heartbleed OpenSSL Vulnerability

heartbleed vulnerability icon

The Heartbleed OpenSSL vulnerability should be taken seriously. FixedOpenSSL has been released. Please see heartbleed.org for more information. (image from heartbleed.org)

Warning: OpenSSL vulnerability.

I’ll skip trying to re-explain everything and just link to: http://heartbleed.com/

The short version is that OpenSSL versions in the last ~2 years are vulnerable to having basically any confidential information stolen. Any exploited servers are vulnerable to having previously sniffed traffic decrypted, even after patching out the vulnerability. It is recommended that you regenerate your SSL private keys and certificates, even after patching, and revoke the previous certificates with your certificate authority.

All in all, very bad. Approximately 1/3 of the Internet is effected. FRII is advising all customers to take this extremely seriously (as we are) and take every precaution. FRII has already patched all potentially vulnerable portions of our infrastructure, and any potentially compromised certificates will be revoked and replaced as soon as possible.

Mail Delivery Time Monitoring

a blue stopwatch represents timing mail delivery

You can use the same code as FRII’s team to monitor the delivery time of your email.

After the launch of our new MagicMail environment last year, in order to be completely on top of any issues that may arise, we’ve steadily added more monitoring for that system. One monitoring check that required a bit of scripting is checking the time it takes for end-to-end delivery on our system.

First of all, to view the code for this system, go here: https://gist.github.com/FRII/9748818

I won’t explain every line of those files, but I’ll be going over the general concepts of each script.

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Spam Prevention

What is Spam?

in a list of email folders, the spam folder is highlighted for selection

Spam is an annoyance for most email users.

When FRII talks about spam (in the context of email), we’re referring to emails that are both unsolicited and bulk. For your convenience, here is a more technical definition from Spamhaus.org, a reputable anti-spam protection organization:

An electronic message is “spam” if (A) the recipient’s personal identity and context are irrelevant because the message is equally applicable to many other potential recipients; AND (B) the recipient has not verifiably granted deliberate, explicit, and still-revocable permission for it to be sent.
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How to use mailing lists

Types of Mailing Lists

MailingList

Mailing lists are a convenient and adaptable method for email users to manage electronic mail distributions. These lists are typically used, and are subsequently named, for one of two purposes: announcement and discussion lists. Announcement lists are used to distribute email to a group of email addresses for newsletters, periodicals, and marketing materials. Discussion lists are used to provide a forum for individuals to participate in moderated or un-moderated discussions on topics of particular interest to them.

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