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2005-03-31

DHS/IAIP Daily Open Source Infrastructure Report

Published in PDF form, it's a daily [Monday through Friday] summary and assessment of open-source published information concerning significant critical infrastructure issues. Each Daily Report is divided by the critical infrastructure sectors and key assets defined in the National Strategy for the Physical Protection of Critical Infrastructures and Key Assets.

You can find it at
http://www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/display?theme=31&content=4252

2005-03-30

Today's Cyber-Security Bulletin

Today's Cyber Security Bulletin from CERT suggests if you use Firefox and have not upgraded to version 1.02, you are at high risk. See this link for details. So, update your Firefox, already!

Then, browse through the extensions , which customize and enhance Firefox. Adblock is worth its weight in gold-pressed latinum, as it lets you block all ads from a source, by substituting * after the '.com/' in the URL of the ad you're blocking. It takes a very short time to train your Firefox to ignore ads, but once it does, it's almost as much fun as the 30-sec fast-forward button on my DISHplayer PVRs.

2005-03-29

Rant regarding clueless journalist

With all due respect, the National Journal piece "Spectrum Wars" which Dan Gilmour sent to BoingBoing, and which was titled at BoingBoing 'How HDTV killed firefighters, birthed the Broadcast Flag, and screwed America' is (stating things politely) over the top; or, as Col. Sherman T. Potter, USAMC would say, "MULEFEATHERS!"
'Adding to the mounting pressure on broadcasters is the fact that police and fire departments cannot communicate effectively in emergencies.'

That is NOT due to the lack of spectrum made available to them. Forex: The NYPD did an excellent job of communicating on 9-11; the NYFD did not. Same hardware, same software, but very different wetware. It's been well documented that the problem is not missing bandwidth, but systems which are not interoperable.

The NYFD was a 'walled garden', the 'AOL' of emergency communications, and did not interoperate well. Brave men and women led by ignorant, incompetent and don't-care-I-got-my-pension management. Wrapping this issue in the bloody flag of 9-11 is extremely poor taste.

Yesterday's tsunami underscores this. Before the Big Drown three months ago, the leadership of the Pacific Rim nations of SE Asia could not give a hoot about the tsunami data Uncle Sucker and Nippon could give them to save the lives of their folks, data we've made freely availble since 1946. Yes, 1946. This time, they Found a Clue, and actually decided to listen to us when there was another tsunami-inducing quake.

There are oodles of interagency frequencies available at any time to communicate in the US, (e.g., NPSPAC, among others, rarely used) but the problem is those frequencies requires the dispatchers and first responders to USE THEIR BRAINS. That is *not* a criticism of the front line folks, those up on the pointy end of things, but it savagely critiques the training and procedures provided to them.

Crisis makes stress. Stress keeps you from innovating, of finding new ways to solve problems. In crisis, therefore, first responders need to have been trained IN ADVANCE, in situations which at least approximate what they're facing, how to use the interagency frequencies.

Managers need to demand this training. Leadership needs to demand interband repeaters and bridges, not only towerside but mobile repeaters and bridges on-scene, so Fred Firefighter can talk to Charlene Constable and Eddie EMT *without thinking about changing channels*.

We don't need to shuffle bandwidth to provide the emergency services what they need. We need the leadership to better manage what they have. Simply giving them bandwidth has not yet solved the problem, and giving them more will not solve it any better.

You fight the way you train; piss-poor preparation presages pitiful performance.

Go ask a firefighter. Go ask a cop. Go ask an EMT.
Go ask someone who knows something, not a journalist.

2005-03-28

Reboot That Car!

The RISKS Digest is always worth reading, and today is no exception. The #3 and #4 articles both deal with insecure and faulty software in cars, which the NY Times says accounts for 20% of all warranty repairs nowadays.

This reinforces the accounts of the Blue Windshield of Death reported here last year.

2005-03-21

Patch day for 98, 98SE & ME | Service Pack Linux

Using Windows 98, 98SE or ME? You're not alone, as IDIC is reported to say 21% of all Windows PCs still run these older versions.

If you are, then you'd better make sure you've updated. Microsoft posted security patches on Patch Tuesday. IMHO, those should be installed.


I was using 98SE... until my PC failed. Windows Recovery didn't recover. Weary of the entire flippin' mess, I changed to Xandros, a well-received version (or 'distro') of Linux. There are some possible shortcoming in the support for major organizations, but, I installed it, I dodn't have to know a lot about what I was doing, and it connected to my wife's Windows XP PC and our cable modem just fine.

I did have to take it to a Linux guru to get one little fussy thing working right. But, Linux gurus are easy to find, with a lot of volunteers to help new users for free.

But, it works well, Firefox and Thunderbird not only install OK but read in my old profiles so I didn't lose bookmarks or e-mail, has a decent replacement for Word and Excel, and if I ever find anything I have to have Microsoft-branded Word or Excel, I can install it, along with a lot of other Windows programs, by upgrading to the Deluxe Edition with Crossover Office. And, it was a free download. I'm Scots enough to find Free to be a very good price.