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August 7, 2013

It’s No Longer OK to Not Know How the Internet Works

Networking ImageLast year, as the debates over SOPA and PIPA raged, Joshua Kopstein at Motherboard wrote a post entitled “Dear Congress, It’s No Longer OK to Not KNow How the Internet Works“. In the post, he blasted Congress for joking about how little they understood about the Internet while, at the same time, attempting to legislate it.

A year later, it’s time to revisit that message, but in a different context.

With the recent NSA scandals, the attack on Tor network (widely suspected to be orchestrated by the U.S. government), and deep concerns about how government and private entities are cooperating to share user data, it’s clear isn’t just the government that needs a primer on how the Internet works.

The everyday user that does as well.

For most people, including many who grew up with the Internet, the Web seems almost magical. They click to visit a site or send an email and they get content or data from half a world away, nearly instantly.

But where most people take the time to understand at least the basics of how their car works, far fewer have taken the time to understand how the Internet works, even as they depend upon it more and more as part of their daily lives.

But like not knowing how a car works, ignorance can be dangerous and, also like a car, a little bit of understanding can go a long, long way. read more

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June 22, 2009

5 Tech Things Every Blogger Should Know

Where 15 years ago, having a Web site was something of a badge of nerdiness, today having a site doesn’t require much technical knowledge at all. Someone with almost no technical expertise can set up an account on WordPress.com or Blogger and be blogging within minutes.

However, this doesn’t mean that a blogger can get away with being a technical dunce. Though getting words on the Internet is pretty simple, building and growing a blog does require one to know a bit more than how to flip on a PC. Social networking sites make it easy to get online, but blogging, especially over the long haul, takes something more.

So what are those things that every blogger should know? There are many, definitely more than what is on this list, but here are five things every would-be blogger should know before, or at least shortly after, getting started. read more

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February 9, 2009

5 Bookmarklets to Learn More About a Site

There are many reasons one might want to learn more information about a site they are visiting. Perhaps the site is a competitor that is beating you in the search engine rankings. It could be that the site is a spam blog or other site warranting an abuse report to their host. Maybe they are just curious to find out who is hosting the fast-moving server, making them want to switch to their host.

Whatever the reason, cutting through the veil of a site to learn what makes it tick can be a tricky feat, especially for those who are not familiar with the inner workings of the Web. Navigating through a mess of Whois results and DNS information can be very useful, but also intimidating.

So how does one learn more about a site, preferably without being inundated with confusing information? Here are five simple bookmarklets that can teach you more about a site with just one click. read more

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August 27, 2008

Largest internet security hole revealed… or what is BGP?

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Wired has the story of the latest major security hole on the internet, the routing protocol BGP:

Two security researchers have demonstrated a new technique to stealthily intercept internet traffic on a scale previously presumed to be unavailable to anyone outside of intelligence agencies like the National Security Agency.

The tactic exploits the internet routing protocol BGP (Border Gateway Protocol) to let an attacker surreptitiously monitor unencrypted internet traffic anywhere in the world, and even modify it before it reaches its destination.

The demonstration is only the latest attack to highlight fundamental security weaknesses in some of the internet’s core protocols. Those protocols were largely developed in the 1970s with the assumption that every node on the then-nascent network would be trustworthy. The world was reminded of the quaintness of that assumption in July, when researcher Dan Kaminsky disclosed a serious vulnerability in the DNS system. Experts say the new demonstration targets a potentially larger weakness.

read more

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