Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Fish, Barrel... Loud Bangs...

I had an odd experience yesterday. It is one that I have ever only just read about or saw in movies.

I was a target for Social Engineering. Yes, I feel dirty too. Fortunately my suspicious nature precluded me from following through, but I was alarmed at how easy and natural it would have been for me to provide the information that was requested.

The setup was simple, I received a call from an unknown number (this was the first clue that something wasn't right). The person on the line stated that she was 'Carolyn' from payroll (this was the second indication for me) and that there had been a 'glitch'. First off, I know of no one at my company named Carolyn. Add to that the fact that I am not the manager of our team. I'm not even the next lower rung. She followed up by saying that she was trying to get a hold of several people in dealing with the glitch. She named 2 people that she was interested in getting phone information for. Normally this request wouldn't raise too many eyebrows, however, my company maintains an internal directory for just such a thing. Now that my spider sense is riding the bellrope of WTF?! into a 9 star fire alarm of frenzy, I had a moment of clarity. I realized just how dangerous this scenario is. My natural predilection is to help in any way I can. After all, it is what I do on a daily basis. For someone unfamiliar with their company's personnel, it would be so simple to provide this information and think nothing more of it, but this simple request can do so much more. A telephone number can tell the requester where in the country the person lives. It also used to have the added benefit of narrowing to a specific region in that zone further reducing the possibilities of finding a location of that particular person. Sounds like a relatively harmless thing right? Well sure until you start looking at the huge list of missing persons all over the country.

In this case, I am pretty certain that the fisherman was a recruiter so the information could have been used for something relatively harmless. The fact is, there is no way of knowing. Sadly, I was so floored by my thought process at the time that I didn't do anything more than try to sound like a person who knew nothing and didn't have the information at hand, but I would have preferred to spar a bit, if you will, with the person on the line. I think it would have been entirely possible to blow over the house of cards they had built with their opening statements.

My final thoughts on the subject are these: Isn't it illegal to do something like this? If so, what are the ways I can combat this type of information gathering? And finally, If I find out who the person or persons are doing this, where do I go with this information? I don't have the answers, but I do have a question for you. Do you think you would be able to cut through the BS and determine that you were being scammed?

Stay vigilant with your information!
Knowledge is power.


Friday, November 19, 2010

My stream of consciousness born of a lack of sleep ☺

{This probably won’t be as short as my normal posts, so those of you who actually do read this (all 8 of you ;-)) may want to take a moment to get comfortable.}

My Job

I love what I do. I love the people I work with. Our times go from easy street and partying at UDS wrap parties to fist and jaw clenching emergencies in the blink of an eye immediately before we release. Never have I worked with a smarter and more capable group of individuals than this one. I am part of one of the most intelligent teams I’ve ever worked or dealt with, and I am thankful for them every day. They give me something to work toward; something most of you know I haven’t had in quite some time. ☺

Our Project

In my opinion, Ubuntu stands to be one of the wonders of the world. I’m not saying that as an employee of canonical. It is the result of having worked with one of the most widely used and developed OS on the market today. Without the vast community we have, none of our goals would be met, none of our validation would occur and none of our growth would have happened. This project has the potential to be (and already is in my opinion) the standard for crowd-sourced projects for the ages. I am thankful for the absolute army of individuals we have thinking, breathing and living the open source and free software philosophy. Without their differences of opinion and ability to clearly state their individual and group opinions there would not be a third of the coverage this OS has in users and developers. You should all be proud.

My Life

I have a great job that requires me to travel on occasion, a nice car, ☺ a great place to live and a lot of new friends that I have met along the way. These are the things that make a success of one’s life. The reality is, it isn’t who you know or the things you have that make one feel complete. It is the memories and experiences that one has that make for a complete life. After all, “You can’t take it with you.” As with all things, there is also the bad. I have many times where I can’t sleep. Many of you are aware that I write on occasion, but I am by no means an author. Authors are published, and I have made it a point not to attempt to publish anything yet. The reasons for this are many, but the main one is that these are stories that I want to write for the sheer joy of the experience right now. I love that the plot doesn’t always develop the way I see it in my head. I love that the characters take on their own personalities and force me into writing them a certain way. The bit that I don’t love about it is the amount of sleep that I lose when great encounters or lines of dialog refuse to allow me to rest. ☺ I estimate that I have lost about 100 pages of really good material because I refused to get out of the bed and fire up the computer.

Add to that my love of music and my newfound desire to write some original electronic and mashup pieces and you have a recipe that won’t see me sleeping until I die. ☺ This is good though. It is a different thing for me to be interested in something that could keep me up at night by a desire to continue working on it. The friends I have had throughout my life would probably all agree that I love my sleep. They would be correct. Sadly, these things seem to have taken precedence over my beloved slumber. I’m happy in some ways that this has happened. After my divorce I went through 5 years of listlessness. I didn’t care what I did or where I did it. I joined the Army again. I moved all over the southeast US. I didn’t keep track of my finances and was overdrawn on many occasions. I simply didn’t care. To have some of that back in my life is a good thing I think.

During that time, I worked across the spectrum of jobs, from carpentry, to Systems and Network Administration to HVAC to Electrical to Plumbing at the Physical Plant of Anderson College to Campus Safety officer to Team Lead of a global enterprise support organization at HP to the Bug master for the Kernel Team of the Ubuntu project. All of that was in the 5 years I spent carelessly trying to find my place again in society. I haven’t found it, but I do care to look some more. ☺ I wonder where that will see me.

My friends

I have the most awesome collection of friends and acquaintances in the world. I mean that, they are, literally, all over the world. Some friends of note who have helped me move upward out of the sludge of lifelessness over the past several years:
Amber and Pete Graner and kids: I became an honorary uncle and I think that helped kick start the process quite a bit. ☺ Their house recently burned down proving yet again that bad things happen to good people. If you weren’t aware and you want to help them out, have a look here: There are still 7 more days that you can contribute. ☺ I love you guys. I’m just sayin’.

Carlota Sage: She is the penultimate pinup and she has a wicked and dirty sense of humor. It was in large part her refusal to put up with noncommittal crap from me that kick started my funny bone back up. I’m sure she isn’t aware, but I have so much more funny now and yet, not as much as I used to have. Still working on that though. ☺ Love ya Carlota.

There are so many others that gave a part of their lives to me by either allowing me into their homes to corrupt their brains/children/pets/parents. Too many to name, but I am thankful for you all, even though at least 3 sets of you had kids after I moved away… You guys need hobbies :-P
So many of you gave your philosophy, long-held beliefs or just a comfortable place to chat that I can’t imagine where my mind would be now without you. To you, the intelligential individuals, I am eternally grateful.

So I suppose you gathered that this post is geared more toward things I am thankful for. I thought that was appropriate, given this time of the year. You know, the time of year when I refuse to listen to normal radio due to their penchant for playing certain seasonal songs a month before they should be played. ☺

So there you go. These are the thoughts that are banging around in my head as I try to get to sleep tonight. :-/ Hopefully getting them out of my head will help me actually rest… but I doubt it. :-D

Now aren’t you glad you read all of that? ☺

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

TMA! Too Many Acronyms!

I realize it has been a while since my last blog post... apologies. Today's topic is drawn from the frustration of reading a technical document that shall remain nameless, but nonetheless contained an acronym used twice for different things!

This nonsense must end. I was a member of the US Army and I saw the idiocy of most of the acronyms used there. The difference is, they were consistent! There was no using the same acronym for two different things that I recall, but even there the usage is deplorable.

Let the record show that I despise the use of acronyms in everyday speech and writing. I understand, but still dislike, their usage in documentation where writing out the words is tedious and unnecessary. Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury... I will henceforth stop using acronyms in my daily usage. I think it better that I can spell and write out the words necessary to complete a useful conversation rather than to abbreviate my co-conversator into oblivion. The only possible exclusion I can see is in my IRC chatting. After all, it is difficult to let someone you are speaking with know that you are laughing without using 'lol' (which I also despise but can find the usefulness of)

In short, I am an angry hypocrite. :-)

That is all!