Weekly Axis Of Easy #61
- What can small companies do about patent trolls?
- Google plans censored search engine in China
- Venezuelan president survives assassination drone attack
- 3D printed gun plans at centre of legal battle in US
- Mozilla browser to default DNS resolution via Cloudflare
- WSJ: Facebook seeks access to your banking data to improve engagement
- easyWEB adds auto-SSL
As a CEO of a small company who found itself in the crosshairs of a patent troll a few years ago (over 2-factor authentication), who was advised by one lawyer to just settle; it was heartening to see this short article on FindLaw which took the road less traveled, imploring that you never settle with patent trolls. We didn’t, we dug in for a fight, we were prepared to make a lot of noise over it, and they went away. (I can easily imagine a kind of patent troll “sucker list”, once you settle you get on that list, which circulates amongst patent trolls. The pile on ensues…)
Leaked documents show that since last spring, Google has been working on a version of its search engine, dubbed “Dragonfly” which will operate in China and blacklist websites and searches related to human rights, democracy, peaceful protest and religion. The system will include a custom tailored android app (named “Maotai” and “Longfei”) that will block associated search terms and content. Currently, most Chinese cannot access Google at all because it is blocked by that country’s “Great Firewall of China” (so is easyDNS, I was once told. Would love a verification on that. Somehow).
In a past issue of #AxisOfEasy we ran a piece about a debate going on within the IEEE about whether “slaughterbots”, autonomous drones programmed to kill a preset target, would ever become a problem or not. Conjecture got real over the weekend when two autonomous drones loaded with a kilo of C4 each were used in an attempt to assassinate Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduroz. The attempt was unsuccessful but the country, ravaged by hyperinflation continues to slide into chaos.
Related: The LetsTalkBitcoin podcast, of which easyDNS is a sponsor, has been running regular segments from Christian Garcia in Venezuela wherein he relates how he uses Bitcoin to survive that country’s hyperinflation, on track to hit 1,000,000% this year. Meanwhile, Paul Krugman recently opined that he can’t think of a single problem Bitcoin solves. Maybe he should ask Garcia. I found 7 and wrote about them on Guerrilla-Capitalism.
Defense Distributed is a Texas based outfit which endeavours to make 3D printer CAD files for guns available over the internet (my understanding is that they also sell a 3D printer which can manufacture the guns, but any 3D printer can once it has the CAD file). It looked like after 3 years in court they had reached a settlement with the DoJ which apparently would let them post their CAD files, but a few days later an injunction was granted to prevent that, for now. While researching this piece I found a few articles citing that so far at least four 3D printed guns had been seized in airports.
Mozilla recently announced that it would begin using Cloudflare’s 22.214.171.124 resolver service to look up all queries from the Mozilla browser, even overriding the otherwise default resolver set for the user. This can be an issue. For starters, your applications shouldn’t be deciding your DNS settings, you should, and in my opinion they certainly should not be overriding your local settings. Anybody with visibility into your resolver queries knows a lot about your online habits, including what websites you are visiting. Hat tip to Ian Rae, the article he sent also includes instructions for disabling the Mozilla override (or, just switch to another browser. I’ve been using Brave lately and plan a write-up on it this summer).
On Monday the Wall Street Journal ran a story about how Facebook was in talks with banks to access your financial data in order to increase user engagement. The WSJ story is behind a paywall but Cnet ran a version saying that the idea was for users to be able to access their financial data via Facebook Messenger and chatbots. Facebook also issued a statement that the tone of the WSJ piece was mischaracterizing what they were doing, saying it would be opt-in and not used for advertising purposes (Joke: how do you know Facebook is lying, …. Never mind).
Read: https://www.wsj.com/articles/facebook-to-banks-give-us-your-data-well-give-you-our-users-1533564049 (WSJ – subscribers)
Facebook’s rebuttal: https://www.pcmag.com/news/362950/facebook-no-were-not-seeking-your-financial-data
I didn’t know about this until a user tweeted it over the weekend: we’ve added Auto-SSL to your easyWEB hosting. The certs are basic domain validation (DV) certs issued by cPanel in conjunction with Comodo, so now that Chrome has effectively made SSL mandatory (See last issue of #AxisOfEasy), you’re covered, at least for the basics. You would still need a higher end cert if you wanted Extended Validation (EV).
easyBackup is here. Protect yourself, your servers and your data from ransomware, malware and other disasters. If you already do backup, then backup for your backups. Seriously.