Grandstream Revisited: Time For Some Tough Love

A few months ago I made some observation of how Grandstream had come to be in-use around my home & office. I especially appreciate their surveillance gear. The GVC cameras and NVR are in 2/47 service and have served us well the past couple of years.

That said, two problems have cropped up recently that bear examination.

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X-Marks Lives!

For the past couple of years I’ve been enjoying Xmarks. Xmarks is a browser plug-in that provides secure, cross-browser and cross-platform bookmark & password sync. Xmarks makes it easy to move from desktop to laptop or netbook and have all your bookmarks and logins always available. You can even log into their web site and get at them from some other computer.

Over the summer I was saddened to hear that Xmarks was going to shut down. They had thought that in all this bookmark data there would be enough info to be mined that providing reports based upon that data could present a revenue stream. That never happened. The possible passing of Xmarks was one of the things that had driven me to use chrome more than Firefox the past few months.

Earlier this month the Xmarks team announced that they have been bought by LastPass, makers of a password management utility. Having been acquired they are not shutting down the service. This is certainly good news. Congratulations to everyone at Xmarks!

Further, they now have a paid, premium service offer that includes sync with Apple and Android smartphones and priority tech support. For a very modest $12/yr this seems like an absolute no-brainer. I’m certainly going to give it a try.

Life In The Time Of FireSheep

A couple of weeks ago at Toorcon security researcher Eric Butler released a curious new plug-in for the the popular Firefox web browser. Known as FireSheep this plug-in allows even an unskilled person to monitor traffic on an open wifi network. It further allows its users to capture the login data exposed as web browsers of other people on that WLAN perform logins to sites like Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, etc.

I won’t go into how it works since others had done a nice job of that already. Suffice it to say that this is scary stuff given how common it is for people to use open wifi networks at public places, usually without giving it a second thought..

FireSheep was not intended as a tool for criminal or malicious activity. It’s release was intended to expose a security issue in the way web browsers handle cookies arising from login. While the login process itself is secure, the handling of the resulting cookies usually is not.

Whatever the intent, it’s certain that some less scrupulous people will use it or the lessons learned from it for illicit purposes such as identity theft.

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