Ken's Korner Newsletter Logo
March 2015
Net Neutrality
What is it?
Net Neutrality

That is a good question. The proposal that the FCC recently passed has finally been made public. You can view the document HERE. So now we know what “Net Neutrality” is officially. At the time of this writing I am still reading through the Order which is 400 pages long. However the real “meat” of FCC 15-24 starts with Appendix A on page 283.

Three key points;
No Blocking
A person engaged in the provision of broadband Internet access service, insofar as such person is so engaged, shall not block lawful content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices, subject to reasonable network management.

No Throttling
A person engaged in the provision of broadband Internet access service, insofar as such person is so engaged, shall not impair or degrade lawful Internet traffic on the basis of Internet content, application, or service, or use of a non-harmful device, subject to reasonable network management.

No Paid Prioritization
A person engaged in the provision of broadband Internet access service, insofar as such person is so engaged, shall not engage in paid prioritization.

Historically Net Neutrality meant that all data on the Internet is treated equally. The OxfordDictionaries define net neutrality as; the principle that Internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular products or websites. While that may be what Net Neutrality should be the reality may not be so simple.

In fact we have never had anything like what the Oxford Dictionary describes. Many ISP’s restrict your access to data that they deem unacceptable. AOL has “protected” their users from “harmful” content since day one. And people love them for it. Twitter has blocked so many jihadist sites that ISIL has issued death threats to the corporate officers. This isn’t just being a good net-tizen it’s also “reasonable network management’.

Every e-mail server out there scans constantly for a whole host of malware and intrusion attempts and blocks anything that doesn’t conform to its standard. Failure to protect your server would not just be stupid but in most cases against the law. And do you know anyone who really wants their children to have unlimited Internet access? This isn’t blocking it’s just “reasonable network management”!

When Joe Sycz-Paque in Anytown sits down to watch a show on Netflix he is not alone. Thousands of his closest friends and neighbors are also going “on-line”. While Joe is fuming about how slow the Internet is tonight across the street grandma is sending pictures of her new grandbaby to everyone on her list. The neighbor’s kids are streaming music and the ISP that serves them allows each an equal access to the Internet. This isn’t throttling it’s just “reasonable network management”!

Note to Joe: Next time start the download before you leave for work in the morning or before you go to bed at night.

And what is this “reasonable network management” thing. Who wants to try and describe reasonable to the US Government? Can I get a volunteer? Anyone?

I am just a computer geek and no more an expert of bribes and payoffs than the next guy. No paid prioritization sounds good but does anyone believe that will happen? A show of hands please. Anyone?

So how did we get here? The FCC has set a new standard for vague and non-descript language. I suspect that lawsuits will be going on for years to come.

There has been talk about a “two-tiered” Internet where access to the so called “fast lane” can be had for a premium price. We have that now. I have a “fast lane” to the Internet and so do many of my customers. Of course I am paying a lot for it but you can have one too!

The number one thing that keeps Verizon from charging more for their services is not some new law. It’s the knowledge that AT&T and Comcast would eat them alive if they did. Fear that the competition getting one up on them is a far more effective deterrent than some legal ruling. Plus the fear factor is easier to administer since we don’t have to do much of anything. And paying political cronies won’t help with the fear factor either.

So what is Net Neutrality? It seems to be a solution in search of a problem.

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Change Your Password!

You should change your password frequently as a security measure.

If you can’t remember the last time you changed your password then now would be a good time change it. If you think you may have been compromised, (hacked) change your password immediately. And use strong passwords! A strong password doesn't necessarily have to be maddeningly complicated. When it comes to passwords the focus should be on unpredictability and length — the more characters, the better.

But it doesn't have to be something you can't remember. If the site allows long passwords and special characters, use them. Even using an entire sentence as your password, including spaces and punctuation, if possible: "This sentence is an example."

Some experts recommend using a "simple mental algorithm," including those that use a space, if a site allows that. As an example, you might try "Ama14 zon" for an Amazon account, and "Yah2014 oo" for a Yahoo! account, and so on. (But choose your own combination.)

Try not to use words that can be found in the English dictionary. That can make creating a pass phrase a little challenging. Try other languages preferably ones that are not used much anymore like Latin. Or you can use a slight miss spelling like Khan-ee for Connie.

Don’t forget to write it down.
As the IT guy I spend considerable time with people who have forgotten their passwords. There are other ways around the password headache. Some people have taken to using password generators, which create and store passwords for various sites you use. Generally, all the user has to remember is a master password to unlock a generator program and then it plugs in the passwords to whichever account is being used. There are numerous password managers like this, including LastPass and Dashlane and 1Password.

Ultimately, experts say, reducing the stress of online security — and decreasing reliance on passwords — will rest on what's known as "multi-factor identification." Those factors are often based on these three things:

  • 1. "What you know" — a password, security question or some sort of information that only you would know (but that doesn't have to be difficult to remember, just exclusive to you);
  • 2. "What you have" — a phone, tablet or laptop — or even a card or token — that an online site or tech-based retail outlet would recognize as yours;
  • 3. "What you are" — biometric information, such as face recognition or a thumb print.

If you want to see how secure your password is you can test it. A website developed by California-based Gibson Research: can be used to see how long it could take to crack each type of password. According to the site, it could take centuries to uncover some passwords, but seconds for others.

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