Archives for January 2016

January 27, 2016 - Comments Off on One Box To Rule Them All

One Box To Rule Them All

Today, 99 percent of pay-TV customers lease set-top boxes from their cable, satellite or telco providers. Pay-TV subscribers spend an average of $231 a year to rent these boxes, because there are few meaningful alternatives.

As a consequence, consumers have limited choices for commercially available set-top boxes, so an overwhelming majority of consumers lease a box from their pay-TV service that doesn’t interface well with the wealth of video content online. To receive streaming Internet video, it is necessary to have a smart TV, or to watch it on a tablet or laptop computer that, similarly, do not have access to the channels and content that pay-TV subscribers pay for. The result is multiple devices and controllers, constrained program choice and higher costs.

Decades ago, if you wanted to have a landline in your home, you had to lease your phone from Ma Bell. There was little choice in telephones, and prices were high. The FCC unlocked competition and empowered consumers with a simple but powerful rule — consumers could connect the telephones and modems of their choice to the telephone network. Competition and game-changing innovation followed, from lower-priced phones to answering machines to technology that is the foundation of the Internet.

WOW. His article doesn't link to an actual proposal so it's hard to know if this is real or just hard talk, but it's very promising. This, "unlocking", would give outside companies access to cable company data they've never had before. Think about Apple creating 1 box that is your AppleTV & cable box. Or, better yet, Sony creating a Playstation, online video player, and cable box - all in one device. There'd be huge innovations in your cable interface and how you search for things to watch. Google w/YouTube and AndroidTV as well as Amazon with it's FireTV might be real players as well.

UPDATE: Jean-louis Gassée has an excellent post on this whole situation. I've also updated the post with the link to the actual proposal.

Source: It’s Time to Unlock the Set-Top Box Market | Re/code

FCC Proposal: http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2016/db0127/DOC-337449A1.pdf

January 4, 2016 - Comments Off on PayPal Hacked!

PayPal Hacked!

A well known Security expert had his PayPal account hacked over the holidays. I've been mad at PayPal ever since they caused me so much grief in getting a simple refund when I used them to pay for some clothes at a local retailer, so this doesn't surprise me. What everyone should take away from this is how easy it really is to gain access to what you think are your secure accounts.

In my second call to PayPal, I insisted on speaking with a supervisor. That person was able to tell me that, as I suspected, my (very long and complex) password was never really compromised. The attacker had merely called in to PayPal’s customer support, pretended to be me and was able to reset my password by providing nothing more than the last four digits of my Social Security number and the last four numbers of an old credit card account.

Any company that authenticates customers with nothing more than static identifiers — address, SSN, DOB, phone number, credit card number, etc. — is vulnerable to these takeover attempts.

This is an article you can actually share with the title, "must read" and it not be a Snopes.com fakery.

Source: 2016 Reality: Lazy Authentication Still the Norm — Krebs on Security