Sunday, April 11, 2021

Application Layer Gateways - Part I

This is the first in a series of posts about Application Layer Gateways. But first you have to understand Network Address Translation (NAT).

NAT is what makes your router such a good firewall.

Basically it makes all of your Internet requests look as if they originated from the router, hiding your various devices. But more than that, it only allows incoming packets that are responsive to outgoing packets.

Here's how wikipedia explains it:

[T]he port numbers are changed so that the combination of IP address (within the IP header) and port number (within the Transport Layer header) on the returned packet can be unambiguously mapped to the corresponding private network destination.

By Yangliy at English Wikibooks - Transferred from en.wikibooks to Commons., Public Domain,

In plain English, every time something is sent out from your network, the router keeps a record of it and will only allow incoming traffic that is responsive to that.

This has 2 benefits. First, the Internet can't see your internal network. All traffic looks like it originated from your router. Second, any non-responsive traffic, e.g. from hackers, is simply disregarded.

Part II will dig another layer deeper.

Sunday, April 04, 2021

Risks of Remote Work

I follow KnowBe4's blog. Recently they covered a white paper by Cybersecurity Insiders.

It raised several issues that I've been worried about since the pandemic hit and everybody went home.

KnowBe4 called out the following key findings:
  • Almost three-quarters of organizations are concerned about the security risks introduced by users working from home; despite these challenges, 86% are likely to continue supporting remote work in the future.
  • Key security challenges cited include user awareness and training (57%), home/public WiFi network security (52%), and sensitive data leaving the perimeter (46%).
  • The applications that organizations are most concerned with securing include, file sharing (68%), the web (47%), video conferencing (45%), and messaging (35%).
  • More than half of organizations see remote work environments having an impact on their compliance posture (70%). GDPR tops the list of compliance mandates (51%).
  • Organizations prioritize human-centric visibility into remote employee activity (34%), followed by next-generation anti-virus and endpoint detection and response (23%), improved network analysis and next-gen firewalls (22%), and Zero Trust Network Access (19%).
How is your organization going to mitigate concerns about continuing remote work?

How is your organization going to mitigate WiFi network security and data exfiltration?

How is your organization going to mitigate file sharing, video conferencing, and messaging?

Keep me posted.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

More Internet Speed Tests

Several years ago, I stumbled across Google's Internet speed test. That prompted me to look at several other Internet speed testing tools. The post is here.

This article on CNET prompted me to look again. CNET had a couple of tools I hadn't heard of before so I ran them against my previous set of tools.

At my house I have a 200Mbps Xfinity connection. I was using my ThinkPad X390 with an Intel(R) Wireless-AC 9560 160MHz Wi-Fi adapter. Intel says that adapter can deliver 1.73Gbps so that probably wasn't a limiting factor.
*Google Fiber205Mbps
* were in my earlier test

Conclusion: Mox nix!

The results were much more sensitive to other traffic than the accuracy of the various tests. In my initial tests of and, they were both around 125Mbps. I retested them and they both came in over 155Mbps. A third test gave the above results.

A more extreme demonstration of interference was at my daughter's house who has a 1Gbps Xfinity connection.

Google Fiber91Mbps

I didn't have the opportunity to rerun the tests at this location. In hindsight, there were streaming applications running outside of my control during the testing.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

FastStone Image Viewer

My previous post covered how to restore Windows Photo Viewer. While that worked, I kinda got frustrated that I kept having to do that.

I fell back to my trusty Google search and came up with some alternatives to Windows Photo Viewer.

The article that seemed most on point to me was on Skylum.

#4 on their list was FastStone Image Viewer but it was #1 for me.

I always like portable applications and FastStone has one for their Image Viewer.

I put the portable version in my OneDrive/Software folder so it's available on all my PCs.

Oh, it's free.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Windows Photo Viewer

I've been accused of being a Luddite and maybe I am.

But maybe I just like simple applications that just work.

Windows 7 and 8 had a really nice application, Windows Photo Viewer. It had useful and intuitive keyboard and cursor commands.

Windows 10 displaced (not REplaced) Windows Photo Viewer with Photos. To me, it's not as intuitive as Windows Photo Viewer.

The good news is that Windows Photo Viewer is still there. And if you got to Windows 10 by an upgrade in place from Windows 7 or 8, getting Windows Photo Viewer back is easy.

CNET has a good article on how to do this but it's easy.

[S]imply open up Settings and go to System > Default apps. Under "Photo viewer," you should see your current default photo viewer (probably the new Photos app). Click this to see a list of options for a new default photo viewer. Assuming you upgraded to Windows 10 from a previous version of Windows, you should see Windows Photo Viewer as an option.

Choose Windows Photo Viewer and exit the Settings menu, and you're done -- photos will now open up in Windows Photo Viewer.

If you got to Windows 10 with a clean install, it's a little trickier.

But this article in TenForums will walk you through it.

The tl;dr of this is to download this .reg file. Run it. Follow the procedure above to reset the default app.

Sunday, March 07, 2021

Chillin' With an iPhone - Part 6

So I'm a year into using an iPhone X coming from an Essential PH-1. I've posted several times about my experiences - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

I still have a few items to close the loop on.

Battery Life - My iPhone's battery life is really incredible. I tend to check the battery at 10PM. Most days the % of battery remaining is around 60%. If I've taken a lot of video or listened to a lot of podcasts, it will dip down into the 50% range. I checked the battery capacity recently and it is still 86%.

Face ID - I mentioned that the face unlock of my Lenovo Tab M8 inspired me to look at the iPhone X's Face ID. That was before the COVID-19 pandemic drove facemask usage. Now I miss the Touch ID of the iPhone 6.

Gboard - I am a huge user of Google services. Consequently, I tend to use the Gboard keyboard. But Apple has crippled Gboard. I like to use handsfree voice to text while I'm driving. When using Gboard's voice to text, Gboard has to launch what looks like a separate app. The delay is unacceptable. And the Apple keyboard's voice to text is really good.

Wireless Charging - I've had a couple of Android phones that used wireless charging but the Essential PH-1 didn't. It was nice to return to wireless charging. This is the wireless charger I use. I use this for my wife's iPhone SE (2020).

Old Stuff - I still wish iOS would give me more control over sounds, e.g. Google Hangouts ringtone and texttone, the camera shutter sound, the iMessage sent sound, etc. I do really like the intensity of the vibration. The Essential PH-1 struggled with being too subtle.

But I do still have an Essential PH-1 completely up to speed on Lineage OS.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

QR Code Generator

10+ years ago, I put a QR code on the back of my business card. Let's just say I was ahead of the times.
Then Apple included QR code recognition into their iPhone camera app.

And then the COVID pandemic caused QR codes to pop up in restaurants with links to "touch free" menus.

QR codes can contain a variety of information. You can create your own here.

But for URLs, it's even easier than that.

Google has included a QR code generator in the latest versions of Chrome. I just noticed the new icon in Chrome's address bar.

Here's what it generates.

Point your smartphone camera at that and see what happens.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

More 5G

A year ago, I posted on "What is 5G." I started it with "It depends."

It still does, depend.

But a lot has happened in the last year.

Android Central's podcast is one of my favorites. Their Episode 510 features Sascha Segan deep diving into the current state of 5G worldwide. Just listen to the first 30 minutes or so.

Here are a few excerpts:
... 5G can use bigger wider radio channels than 4G can. And if we look at the countries that have the best 5G performance, it's generally places where their governments have allocated the appropriate wide channels exclusively for 5G. And so you see places like South Korea where they had a very orderly very thoughtful allocation of useful mid-band spectrum to their carriers who cooperate moderately well. And so as a result you have a really nice 5G layout that is operating in channels wider than could have been used for 4G and is operating in cooperation with 4G ...
And the result is the vast majority of people in the US who see 5G on their phone, that 5G is just operating in the little odds and ends and corners of the existing 4G frequencies. It's just ... using bits of leftover 4G, essentially. And so for the vast majority of 5G users, especially on AT&T and Verizon, they see that 5G and they're "Like this doesn't seem faster than 4G. In fact, it even sometimes seems slower" and they're right. Because the 5G that they are getting, most of the people in AT&T right now, is just little odds and ends of 4G with a number 5 tacked on.
T-Mobile's in a slightly better position. T-Mobile, because of their purchase of Sprint, had some suitable mid-band 5G spectrum available and over the last half of the year, of last year, they've been building out that spectrum in a lot of major cities ...
Take the time. You'll learn a lot.

PS. I used Google's Recorder app to transcribe this podcast.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Chrome Scroll to Text Fragment - Redux

Last year I posted on how to create a link to scroll directly to a text fragment using Chrome.

At that time, there wasn't a tool to help with this. I noted that I did it with Notepad.

Thankfully, that has changed. Now there's a Chrome extension from Google that will do that for you.

With that extension installed, all you have to do is highlight the desired text and right click on it.

Then your clipboard has a link that will take the browser to the selected text.

Here's what it looks like:

That was easy. But wait, there's more.

Look at the part of the generated URL that I highlighted with the red box.

This extension has inserted "ezoic-pub-ad-placeholder" in the URL.

Now go Google that. Ezoic is an ad tracker.

Shame on you Google!

I still use that extension. Now I just take that string out of the generated URL.

Sunday, February 07, 2021

Find Saved Wi-Fi Passwords

Recently, the screen on my ThinkPad X250 died.

It kept running. I just had to work around the defective part of the screen.

I bought a refurbished ThinkPad X390 and moved on.

Until I needed the password (pre-shared key) for a Wi-Fi network that I couldn't remember.

That's easier than I imagined. iTechtics has a great article on it.

For me, the easiest way was to run a simple Windows command.
  1. Open command prompt (Press the Windows key and then just type "com" without the quotes).
  2. Run the following command:
    netsh wlan show profile name=WifiConnectionName key=clear
Replace WifiConnectionName with the Wifi SSID

That was almost too easy.

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Protect Your OSINT

One of my regular podcast listens is Security Weekly News. The regular host is Doug White. He is an interesting fellow.

Back on topic ...

In Episode #93, Doug shared some thoughts on the breech of the Capitol on January 6, 2021. He didn't delve into the politics but rather covered the IT security risks.

His advice was "If you're physically compromised, you're screwed."

Then he asked "What happens when you get a physical breech of your offices?"

In normal times, you'd probably say that this wasn't very likely. And that your facility isn't the Capitol.

But, think about it. Have you reviewed your physical security of a pandemic non-workplace?

There aren't employees walking around who would notice intruders. Once an intruder gets by the security at the door, they would probably have free access to all the workplaces.

And that's where they would find OSINT.

Go into the office. Walk around looking for yellow stickies. Pick up the keyboards and look under them. Look in the drawers.

Oh, keep a list of what you find so you can educate those employees.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Wyze Cam v3

I'm a big fan of everything Wyze. I've made several posts about their cameras.

I've had several Wyze Cam v2 cameras and made use of these outdoor mounts.

Then Wyze released their v3 camera.

The v3 cam has the following new features:

  • 1080p Color Night Viewing - See more clearly at night in full color
  • Indoor/Outdoor - Capture moments indoors and outdoors with IP65 weather resistance
  • Fully Upgraded - More processing power, more mounting options, more frames per second

I was most interested in the color night viewing.
Starlight CMOS Sensor helps you to see in ultra low-light conditions.

Wyze Cam v3 is capable of seeing in color at night with very limited lighting. You can even use it to watch the stars or take a time lapse of the stars.
I replaced the v2 cam overlooking my driveway with the v3 cam. Incidentally, directly above the camera is a pair of floodlights.

Here is the view with the legacy Night Vision on and the floodlights on.

Then I turned Night Vision off and left the flood lights on.

Then with Night Vision off and the flood lights off.

One of the additional mounting options referenced are a 1/4" screw in the bottom. Fortunately, the cases I have been using have a 1/4" screw. So all I had to do was to unscrew the case from the mount and screw the v3 cam into it. Done.

If you don't have those cases, you can get the screw mount here.

The v3 cam uses the same microUSB power plug as the v2 cam. I had to reformat the microSD card.

For $20 each, I may upgrade all my v2 cams.