How to Subscribe to vsatips for Email Updates| I Updated My Tablets Page

Introduction

Recently I received a comment from a reader asking me how to subscribe to receive email updates when I post something new. That wasn’t the first time a reader was frustrated by this. I realize that there’s so much information on any one of my posts or pages that it might be hard to find this information. So I decided to write a quick set of instructions showing you how.

How to Subscribe by Email

At the top right corner of each webpage, post or article…it doesn’t matter which, because it should always be the same…right above my (very long) side menu, you’ll see something resembling the screenshot below:

All you need to do is click on the Follow button and a little box should appear asking you to enter your email address.

After you’re done with that you should see a confirmation message like the one in the screenshot below.

What Subscribers Will Receive

vsatips contains 2 types of content. 99% of the things at my site are Posts…which contain my most recent news, tips, user guides or reviews…etc. Pretty much everything I write is done in the Post format. When readers subscribe to receive updates, they receive an email each time I write a new post. The entire post will be included in the email…saving you the time of having to tap or click on a link and then being taken to my site.  This also saves you time from having to check back periodically for new content.

One Negative Aspect for Subscribers

But there is one caveat. It’s sort-of a personal quirk of mine. For a very long time after I began this site I never knew how to get the dashboard we use for writing to proofread my work before publishing it. The only way I knew to trigger the proofreading utility was to first publish my work. Then, immediately after it was published the proofreader would be auto-triggered, showing me typos and errors I’d made. While this was frustrating, it was something I just got used to with time. So, immediately after publishing I’d complete my final corrections. Of course, many iterations of using my own proofreading techniques preceded this…but despite all my efforts in that regard there were always several more errors I’d missed.

That would be OK if subscribers just received a link to that new post…and that’s what I always believed happened.

Then, one day I accidentally subscribed to my own site. I didn’t even know that this was possible. I’d always assumed it wouldn’t let me…but it did. So when I submitted a new publication a few days later I was pretty shocked to see that I received the entire article in an email. Even more shocking was the typo I saw in that post’s Title. For whatever reason…a lot of the typos that seem to remain longer, avoiding detection, are ones that occur right at the beginning. I’m not sure why that is. But maybe it’s because I found out that one of the best ways to proofread something is to hear it read out loud to me. I use Instapaper for this. So, maybe when I start the screen reader I’m a little preoccupied and I don’t really settle into the whole process for a few sentences? That’s the only thing I can think of.

But when Subscribers see my new posts and they consistently have errors in the first few sentences or worse, in the title, which the proofreader skips entirely…it can’t help but leave a negative impression. So, rather than think negatively of me…I thought that by my describing why that occurs, that would be preferable. Also, I want everyone to know that if typos and errors are really annoying to you, (because they are to me,)  if you just click on the link in the email…then you’ll be taken to the actual post which will be all fixed up…because the fixing step happens immediately after it’s published! Kind of a dumb system right?

In fairness to WordPress I just recently learned that there is a way to trigger the proofreading utility earlier…it’s just not intuitive and my requests for that information had gone unanswered. So, now that I know about it I do try to use it. But I forget a lot of times because I’m sort of stuck in my old routine :-/

The 2nd Kind of Content at vsatips | Pages

In addition to Posts, which readers can subscribe to, a second type of content found at vsatips are Pages…which is really short for Webpages.  For all practical purposes posts appear to readers to look exactly like pages do. And they really are from all I can tell. But posts are in a format that’s internally different at WordPress. It’s one that allows them to be sent out as email updates to subscribers. Whereas true pages are really intended to be more static, therefore never-changing. I’ve primarily used pages as navigational tools for grouping categories of information together so that they can be included in menus with similar content. But, in some cases pages also have ended up becoming post-like…or appearing to be more like articles that impart helpful information.

What usually happened in those instances is that a page began as a navigational tool but I added some information to it too. Overtime I may have added more information until it grew long enough to be considered a post as well. But Subscribers will never receive an update about new information that appears in pages…or in posts either for that matter. So if I update something Readers have no way of knowing that. This realization really just came to me as I’m writing this. And it presents a whole different problem that I need to address too.

Why newly published pages cannot be sent out to Subscribers, I’m not really sure of. But that’s just the way WordPress works. So, in the rare case that a page ends up becoming a resource of some kind I occasionally may write a post about it just to alert readers that this new information exists. Because posts are the only tool I have to notify readers of new content. So, that’s exactly why I’ve included the following section on the newly updated Tablets page.

How to Find the Best Tablets | A Resource Page with Links to Lots of Great Publications

That’s exactly what occurred recently with my Tablets page. I began adding various categories of resource links and periodically updated those. While in the process of doing that this year…I completely upgraded my Tablet page with almost all new information yesterday. So if you, or anyone you know is in the market to buy a new Tablet this fall or as a Christmas present…the articles I’ve linked to on my new Tablets Page might prove to be really useful. Here’s a link to that Page and a screenshot of it below.

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How to See New Subscribers to Your Channel on ios YouTube App | 2017

YouTube & Creator Studio icons

Introduction

Finding out who subscribes to your YouTube channel when you’re using an ios device is a somewhat tricky endeavor. I  know because I was frustrated myself trying to accomplish this. When I finally figured out a solution I wrote a post about how to do it. When I published that post, that alone almost doubled the number of reader’s who visit my site in a days time.

Today, by chance I discovered an easy way to see who your new subscribers are using the ios YouTube app. I thought others would like to know where to find this information as well. If you kept a list of your subscribers using the method described in my earlier post, you can just update it occasionally by adding the new subscriber names you’ll find using this newer method.

The Steps

Step 1

Open the YouTube App

Step 2

When you first open the app you’ll see ‘Recommendations‘ which includes a combination of new content from channels you subscribe to as well as YouTube’s recommendations for new content on topics you may have viewed in the past.

Step 3

Make sure you’re signed into your Google account for the YouTube channel you’re interested in seeing the new subscribers for. To check your Google account you should see your profile picture in the upper right hand corner. If you tap on it, the view shown in the screenshot below will display and you can change accounts by tapping on ‘Switch Account.’

Step 4

Close that view by tapping on the X and look for ‘Activity‘ on the bottom menu on the ‘Recommendations‘ screen and tap on it.

The next screen display will show you any recent activity for your account and YouTube channel. If you’ve had any new subscribers recently they will appear here…refer to the screenshot below.

That’s all there is to it!

Read My Other Articles About Managing Your YouTube Channel Using an ios Device

How to See All Your YouTube Channel Subscribers

How to Manage Your YouTube Channel Comments Using Creator Studio for ios

2016 Was the 10 Year Anniversary of Google’s Historic Acquisition of YouTube

Introduction to the New Creator Studio App for Mobile Users in 2015

Comments

You can leave any comments for me or about this post if you scroll way down to the bottom of the page and look for the little Comments box.

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Part 2 | Beginner’s Guide to Firewalls for Small Networks | Network Design

A firewall word cloud

Introduction

Two months ago I published Part 1 of this Beginner’s Guide to Firewalls series. Part 1 was called ‘What Hacker’s Don’t Want You to Know About Firewalls.’ It serves as an introduction to what became a quite large body of information which I’ve struggled to organize and publish in a way that my readers could best utilize.

My main goal for this entire series is to provide important and current safety information to regular people…people who aren’t tech inclined and who have no desire to spend their days thinking about technology.

The first time I ever heard the term Firewall used in relation to computer networks was at the tail end of a 2 year ordeal my family experienced when a Botnet had taken over our home computer network. As we were in the last stage of banishing the Botnet permanently we were discussing ways to prevent this from ever happening again. My husband who’s a businessman operating his own small company, had recently installed a firewall for his business computer network. I was intrigued and the more I learned the more I realized that a firewall was the one strategic move we could take that would assure this would never happen again.

Below: Part 1 of The Beginner’s Guide to Small Network Firewalls

Part 1 of my Beginner's Guide to Firewalls

Goals for This Beginners’ Guide to Hardware Firewalls

It may be a bit of an understatement to say that the average American just doesn’t seem to get very excited when discussing the latest advances in network technology. I’ve personally witnessed this on many occasions myself when my husband’s eyes begin to glaze over as I’m excitedly telling him about some cool discovery I made. Depending upon the time of day, his breathing may slow down just enough for me to know that unless something changes quickly he’ll most certainly doze off. Life experiences have shown me that the vast majority of people find network conversations to be repugnant and something to be avoided at all costs! That’s why I’ve tried really hard to keep this series both extremely relevant for my specific audience (households and small businesses that need reliable and consistent networks) as well as relevant regarding the technology and hardware I present for discussion. By keeping focused on presenting only the latest, the greatest, and the broadest use types of hardware on the market currently, while at the same time presenting all of the information readers need to understand about hardware Firewalls and how they function within networks.

This Part 2 strives to advance that goal by explaining how Firewalls fit into small networks and to introduce the one factor beyond the obvious safety features which should receive the heaviest weight when making hardware selection decisions. Last I discuss some additional factors to consider when deciding what type will be most appropriate in any given environment.

Firewall’s in a Historical Context & Today’s Present Forms

It used to be that large companies were the only entities that installed hardware firewalls. Today’s world has changed drastically in that regard. Our daily news is often flooded with stories about new security vulnerabilities that impact almost everyone. Those along with new forms of attacks by hackers can have harmful or even devastating impact upon even the one most common form of technology used almost universally by people all around the world, so much so in fact that they’ve come to be considered one of life’s basic necessities. I’m talking about our cell phones. They, alongside the common targets like computers and IoT devices are now the primary vehicles for attack. Thankfully, there are many more forward thinking individuals who, although geographically strewn across the globe, have been quietly working towards the same common goal…addressing these new threats to our personal security long before many of the threats themselves have even emerged!

Office computer network center

Many of these individuals have been working on fulfilling their life’s goals…protecting people and their families from cyber threats…for many years. The challenges they face must be incredible, because oftentimes their plans to bring their devices to the market have been delayed by years. You can tell this by Googling something like ‘Home Firewall Appliances.’ You’ll find complete and professionally polished websites which show off new devices that sound amazing… but there’s no obvious means for someone to actually purchase the device shown. Nor can you even find launch dates for many of these new products. It was only after I spent hours and hours of research time that I was able to determine what the likely product life cycle was and when many of these new devices were hoping to launch.

Happily it looks to me like most of the new devices that I found highly intriguing are actually finally launching now, or did launch in the very recent past or will do so in the near future, most likely while we are still in the year 2017. Evidence of my excitement about these new launches can be ascertained by the fact that I recently purchased a device I’ve been watching for a few years shortly after it launched in August. Even further evidence is that I did so despite the fact that our family’s network is protected by an enterprise grade firewall…Sonicwall’s TX600 (I’d also recently purchased our current model when I upgraded our slower Firewall in March at a cost of $2500 + the Labor costs to setup and install it.)

The new device I just bought is called a Fingbox. It cost $139 and I was able to set it up myself! I love it and will discuss it greater detail in several future parts of this series as well as in a stand-alone post I’m currently working on. But if you’re really interested you can read what I wrote about it the day that I discovered that it was finally available for purchase.

Fingbox is a brand new device that will protect against Krack Attacks

Fingbox is a brand new device that will protect against Krack Attacks

To wrap up this introduction I’ll also touch upon how firewall appliances go about their job of protecting the small network they are installed in…but in a very general way in Part 2 of my series. I’ll delve much deeper into that subject in future sections and will also discuss a number of newer advances and twists Firewalls have undergone to engage directly in combatting the plethora of online dangers which seemingly are lurking at every turn threatening to destroy the generally pretty good levels of Internet safety that we’ve reached as a whole despite the continual bombardment of negative indicators. These circumstances point to the eventual and inevitable adoption by greater numbers of a host of new high level kinds of technology that are rapidly appearing on the market.

Network 101 | Basic Network Design

If you read Part 1 of this Firewall Series, you’re probably wondering how exactly firewalls go about providing the extra protection to networks that they

do…and perhaps you’re even interested in learning more about how they really work. I’ll try to explain as much as I understand, but truthfully, firewall technology is so incredibly complex and powerful that the intricate details regarding firewall’s inner-workings usually tend to go above my head. There’s a good reason most network engineers have had years of specialized training in their field!

An easy way to understand the role that firewalls play is to look at how they are incorporated into the actual configuration of a network. Typical small networks use a modem to receive a signal from their internet provider which supplies them with the ability to use the internet. Usually modems just have one port in and one port out, so that modem is then connected to a router which divides the signal, making it available to more than one device.

The router may have several LAN ports for computers or other devices to plug into for a wired connection. This is the best and fastest connection that you’ll get on any network. But the router also usually creates a wireless network too, by

broadcasting radio signals that any wireless devices can find and connect too.

While these are great and they are what’s driven the whole mobile technology industry to become one of the fastest growing industries around today, (along with cellular networks of course)wireless networks just can’t approach the speed that their wired counterparts do.

Throughput Should Probably Be Your Most Important Consideration When Purchasing A New Firewall Appliance

While these speed considerations are getting off the track for purposes of my firewall example…they are nice to know about. But I’ve mentioned them for another, more important reason too.

There can be a downside to using a firewall that needs to be factored into the equation when someone is considering getting one. The main downside is the firewall’s impact upon your networks’ speed.

Generally internet service provider alternatives are differentiated by one main factor, which is usually referred to as bandwidth in recent years. Bandwidth is most often quoted in ‘megabits per second‘ or ‘Mbps.’ Most internet service providers (isps) offer several speed options…typical ones today may be 15, 50, 100 or 300 Mbps down and a smaller # (or if synchronous an equal #) like 5-15 up. That scenario holds true for most of the United States…unless you’re really lucky and live somewhere where gigabit speeds are available…usually via Google or fiber optic technology…then your bandwidth speed may be measured in gigabits instead of megabits.)It’s this number and the speed of service it represents that can and usually does take a significant ‘hit’ from the addition of a firewall.

How much of a hit has been the subject of lengthy discussions, but the main takeaway is that there is a way firewall makers designate their devices impact upon this bandwidth, which is referred to as throughput.

Throughput’s definition is essentially the bandwidth speed you should expect to be available to you once all firewall services you’ll be utilizing have been factored into the equation.

Your final throughput number may be ascertained once the specific sets of tasks your firewall may perform is determined. Most often these overall throughput numbers for any given individual situation are usually derived by a network engineer. They can usually calculate it using a base number provided by the firewall manufacturer’s specifications for any of their model’s when all of their standard security services are turned on at the same time. From this number they then subtract any services their specific client won’t be utilizing. Figuring this part out isn’t easy, nor is it set in stone because networks aren’t static…they’re dynamic…meaning they’re constantly changing…so this number in practice will constantly fluctuate too. The aim then tends to be more of a range than it is a single number.

While this final throughput number may be hard to figure out it’s really important to ascertain before you make your final decision regarding which firewall you should purchase (or if you have it narrowed down to one brand…which particular model within their lineup.) Ideally a firewall maker should be able to give you a rough estimate of what their product’s overall throughput will be in your unique environment.

The reason this is so important to ascertain beforehand is because whatever number (or range) it ends up being, this throughput calculation is then used to determine what your overall network bandwidth will be after its subtracted from that bandwidth number your isp promise you. The remainder from that equation will become the actual bandwidth speed that your network will operate at after the firewall appliance is incorporated into your network.

Believe me, I wish someone had told us all this the first time we added a traditional firewall appliance into our home network. Sadly, many firewall manufacturers still don’t volunteer throughput data. Oftentimes home buyers will only get that information if you specifically ask for it.

Where do Firewalls Get Placed in Most Network Configurations?

At some point along the way when someone is making the decision to purchase their first hardware firewall they’ll begin to wonder where exactly their hardware firewall will fall in their own network’s configuration.

Firewalls are almost always situated in front of the router in a network’s design…meaning that they are as close to the main source that’s providing the entire network technology as is possible. In most cases with home networks that very first network device is a modem…or a combination modem and router.

It’s most likely that a new hardware firewall will plug into and occupy the one and only outgoing port found on the network’s modem, taking the usual position of your router. The reason for doing this is so that the firewall acts as a sort of clearing house of all web data for any and all devices within a network. All data coming into or going out of that network, must first go through the firewall.

If you’re wondering  what happens to the router then, there are 2 likely scenarios. Either the firewall itself has routing functionality built into it and it takes the place of the router completely or the router plugs into the firewall and becomes the 3rd device in the network’s chain…because unlike modems, firewall appliances usually have several outgoing ports.

A botnet master oversees botnet activity

A botnet master oversees botnet activity

Other Important Factors to Consider When Purchasing a Firewall Appliance for Home and Small Business Networks

IoT Device Considerations

In some cases a firewall has enough ports to serve all of the network’s needs for LAN connected devices. But as more kinds of equipment are being built with internet connectivity, especially the kinds of things collectively known to as the ‘Internet of Things’(or IoT devices for short)these also need ways to connect to the network.

What kind of devices are included under the IoT moniker? Examples of some common IoT devices are those which people use to create ‘smart home’s’ which can encompass many different small devices like light bulbs, smart outlets and switches and thermostats, and also much larger ones such as refrigerators, furnaces, cars and even entire security systems.

Security Cameras | A Unique Group of IoT Devices Pose a Conundrum

Security systems often employ the use of cameras. The cameras themselves fall into one of 2 categories. They can be IP cameras which are an older technology but still the most widely used because IP cameras are relatively inexpensive. They are usually sold in multi-packs so they can protect larger areas than the newer entries in the market which are commonly called standalone or single wireless cameras. If you do a Google search for security cameras, probably 95% of what you’ll find are IP cameras…which may also be referred to as CATV or internet cameras. IP cameras are complete systems which require the use of some kind of receiving DVR for recording the captured video streams. IP cameras come in many different forms too. The most popular of these are bullet and dome styles.

Standalone wireless cameras emerged from the smart home industry. These cameras don’t require much setup or a DVR for recording, so they’ve become popular for DIY’er’s. Some popular models in this category currently include ones by Nest, Canary and Netgear’s Arlo cameras. PC magazine recently reviewed some of the best in this category in this article.

In this article by Safewise security cameras are categorized by indoor versus outdoor usage. The indoor cameras they include are all of the newer stand-alone variety…but their categorization is somewhat skewed because there are good stand-alone outdoor cameras too. The outdoor cameras they talk about all fall into the IP category, but again their categorization isn’t entirely correct because IP cameras are also the ones most commonly used in indoor settings too. The reason I’ve included their article is because, despite the slightly misleading categorization, the article does a good job describing the kinds of features found on both types of cameras.

How IoT Compounds Networks’ Security Problems

In general these many different new types of devices don’t use very much of the network’s one main resource…which is generally referred to as bandwidth. But they do contribute to increasing the overall complexity of a network in 2 important ways.

First of all, these Iot devices, when added to the regular communications and computing devices which are more typical in a small network (computers, tablets and cellphones)can drastically increase the physical size of the network. Each device needs either a port to plug into the network or a wireless receiver built into the IoT hardware to receive the router’s wireless broadcast signal.

Brief Look at How Smart Light Bulbs Work

Oftentimes really small devices like light bulbs use an extra piece of hardware strictly for purposes of communicating with the network…this additional hardware which is commonly called a bridge, may or may not be included bundled with the IoT device itself when it’s purchased. So if anyone is thinking about buying smart light bulbs, it’s important to know that you may be required to buy this bridge separately too…which is something I didn’t know myself at first.

Incorporating smart light bulbs into a network then means that the bridge device plugs into the network and it broadcasts a Bluetooth signal out (which is just a very short-range kind of wireless signal) for the lightbulbs to find and connect to.

The net effect of adding even a few smart light bulbs is that the network size is increased…it has more devices connected to it.This alone doesn’t really have any negative consequence beyond just making the overall network diagram appear more complex and because of its size there are increased difficulties managing it.

The 2nd way that all these devices impact a network is that they create more opportunities or targets for hackers to attack. Because the IoT industry is an emerging industry, a large portion of these devices don’t have very good security measures built into them. What’s worse is that there is usually no way that users can alter the security of these devices. Any built-in security measures would usually reside in the device’s firmware and user’s don’t have any means of accessing it. Inherent to these kind of devices’ simplicity is the fact that it’s close to impossible for their makers’ to send out firmware updates…because there isn’t any good way to install updates. So, while they are cool, fun to use and helpful in many ways, they can also act as an open invitation to hackers. Here’s a link to one of the most recent attacks on IP cameras which ironically are most often used for security systems.

One way to keep safe from botnets

One way to keep safe from botnets

What Attracts Hackers Today

You’d think that something as insignificant as a light bulb wouldn’t interest hackers…but they do. They’re attractive because when you take a whole lot of those little devices and combine them together you gain something that’s a desirable commodity in the hacking community…armies of zombie devices that will do their bidding.

Some of my readers may remember the post I wrote about how my family’s network was taken over and made part of a Botnet. While that seemed an unlikely scenario then, we know that Botnets are still a huge problem even now. Hackers find IoT devices so attractive today because there are so many of them and most lack even basic security. There are a quite a few of these massive Botnets that are used to commit cyber crimes against corporations, and even against individuals like my favorite security news source Brian Krebs.

I was really surprised recently to discover that many of my friends weren’t entirely sure of what a Botnet really is. Here are a few quick YouTube videos which explain Botnets, how they are formed and how they function.

ESET Botnet Video

What is a Botnet? by the InfoSecurity Academy

What is a DDOS Attack by a Botnet

Hacker’s Are Businessmen and Botnets Offer Big Business Profits

In today’s world hackers are usually businessmen, (although recent focus on this topic at the widely popular SXSW Conference in Austin Texas seemed to indicate this might be changing, and that a new breed of teenage hackers might soon disrupt this reality.)

In recent times however, hacker’s haven’t hacked into things for the fun of it. They hack for profit. Botnets’ are one lucrative avenue towards that goal. The most successful Botnets are leased out to other hackers who need them to carry out attacks against corporate computers or servers that provide large-scale computing services to some of the biggest companies in the world. It’s often these servers,which most regular people have never heard of, that are the main targets of hackers.

By employing the combined power of thousands of IoT devices the main attacks aimed at these service providers are a type of attack known as a DDoS attacks. In a typical DDoS attack, a company’s computers are barraged with thousands, upon thousands of requests that ultimately overwhelm them so much that they simply come to a grinding halt and are unable to function in any meaningful way. When servers are hit they may also take down all of the clients they are serving…raising the victim rate exponentially. That’s exactly what occurred in a recent attack against a company no one’s ever heard of called Dyn.

On October 21, 2016 Dyn was attacked by a huge Botnet known as Mirai, which controls thousands of IoT devices like printers, baby monitors, IP security cameras and smart home controllers.

Mirai Botnet

Mirai Botnet

The attacks lasted for an entire day. Dyn is a service company that provides DNS services which help to map domains so that end users can reach their desired website. When Dyn was attacked this mapping service was disrupted and at least 70 well known companies were affected. Companies like the Wall Street Journal, Twitter, Airbnb, Amazon, Netflix, Comcast, HBO, Fox News, Reddit, Etsy, Walgreens, Zillow, Pinterest, PayPal and many more. As the day progressed one news source after another proclaimed that more than 1/2 of the Internet was completely shut down.

The numbers of Botnets created to harm other systems is rising, as discussed in this recent MIT Technology Review article.They will continue to do so until manufacturers begin adding serious security measures into these devices.

These types of attacks are one of the key reasons that every home and business user should consider protecting their network with a firewall.

MIT Technology Review Article on Botnets Growth

MIT  Technology Review Article on Botnets Growth

But What can we as individuals do about this? If you like all of the benefits that IoT devices offer, and you plan on turning your home or office into a modern smart environment by using many different IoT devices to address many different functions, then installing a hardware firewall at the front end of your network may prove to be your best defense. If you were to install one of the all-encompassing traditional firewalls, they too can be configured to provide coverage for IoT devices. But as we’ve recently learned, there are a few newer, less expensive firewalls which are designed specifically to protect IoT devices. This emerging market promises much better solutions for individuals and families who use small networks they’ve setup themselves. Parts 3 and 4 in this Beginner’s Guide to Firewalls will cover several of these newer device types and discuss the varying, unique, and sometimes brilliant approaches their developers have utilized to make inexpensive hardware perform incredibly complex tasks.

Learn How to Secure Your Home Network’s Modem Here 

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Brand New Device Secures Networks & Protects Against KRACK Attacks

Pictured below:  Fingbox
  An amazing new network tool anyone can afford and easily use to keep their network safe and secure.

img_2457

Update 1 week later:  I ordered Fingbox the day I wrote this. You can read about my experience setting up and using it.

Perhaps the Biggest Data Security Threat in History was Revealed Last Week

The Threat is Known As Krack Attack

I first learned of this new security threat in an email my Dad sent me. We were traveling at the time so I couldn’t really research it until we arrived home. The Chicago Tribune’s headline and article shown below was one of many I read in the days following the initial news that our WiFi networks were no longer safe.

The more I read the more I struggled with how to share this news with my readers. The news was bad, to be certain. Frankly, no one wants to be the continual bearer of bad news. Unfortunately, at least initially, I didn’t have any good advice to share with my readers. The only advice I had was the same advice as that of all the experts.


Best Advice to Follow to Prevent Krack Attacks

Make sure that you keep all your devices up to date with security patches and general updates.

Because the advice that’s given in literally every source I found didn’t seem to offer much in terms of really useful information, and because I didn’t feel I had anything new to add to the equation…I ended up not saying anything at all.


I Began Educating Myself so That I Really Understood the Threat

As I continued reading and learning I finally began to understand the crux of the problem much more concretely. Ultimately that learning process has been very worthwhile…so worthwhile in fact that I want to share one resource. This article was extremely helpful for improving my understanding of the problem. In it the author describes what an ‘Evil Twin Access Point Is.

The ‘evil twin AP’ concept lies at the heart of the Krack Attack threat…so while the author describes this in the context of public Wifi’s…it pertains to private, or home Wifi’s too. I think the author has done an amazing job of explaining a really complex concept in a way that’s easy to understand!

What led me to the ‘Evil Twin’ article was an email I received today about the development of a product I’ve been monitoring for a long time now. I was really excited to discover that not only was this long awaited product now available…it’s a network scanning device for everyday people…but it may be the answer to mine and many other people’s prayers to address the problem of how to stay safe following the Krack Attack news.

Therefore I finally feel as if I have some good, if not great advice to share in addressing this scary sounding situation. But before a get into the details of that, there were a few more realizations I’d arrived at which put the Krack Attack news into better perspective. So first, here are a couple of general observations which mitigate the significance of the overall threat quite a bit. Most of these were taken from this Krebs on Security article.

The likelihood of an individual of family’s network to be attacked using Krack Attack is very small.

The reason for this is because an attack can’t be done remotely…the attacker needs to be in close proximity to the network he/she is attacking. Therefore in the case of residences…there’s a good chance that you’d notice any strangers hanging around your home. Especially if they were there long enough to employ their nefarious tactics and then wait around  even longer to take advantage of them and capture people’s data while you’re engaged in online activity. Because it’s a real time situation they would need to be present  the whole time.

When the Threat was Announced There Were Already Some Solutions Immediately Available

That’s because the researchers who discovered the vulnerability first took their information to the tech world…so that equipment manufacturers could begin working on fixing their hardware immediately to prevent this vulnerability from gaining too much ground in harming users. Therefore many users had already received the patches prior to even hearing the first reports of the very bad news.

This holds true primarily for Windows users…although I don’t know all the specifics, I’d guess that it’s probably Windows 10 users who are safest. Another huge hardware provider, Apple, said they would be releasing this fix very soon.

Once a devices software is updated with a fix, there’s no longer a vulnerability for that device.

There’s No Evidence Pointing to Any Actual Exploitation Using the Vulnerability

Since this vulnerability was discovered by good guys who immediately took the correct actions to address it’s very broad reach, no one has any knowledge of actual hacking incidents which may have taken advantage of the vulnerability to date. That’s probably one significant reason why the guys that found it brought it to the attention of those responsible for correcting situations in which the exploit could occur first. Even before announcing it to the general public. So that when the hacking community did learn of it, there would already be fixes well underway.

But There Still Remains a Larger Problem…Updating Network Devices

Things like routers and access points for sure need to be patched too. But patching those via updating their firmware isn’t necessarily an easy task. Each manufacturer has different procedures for this. Simply finding their information may not be easy and the actual firmware update can be even more challenging…yet, it needs to be done! I suspect that firmware updates for things like routers are orchestrated in a manner very similar to how I describe the process of securing your network’s router or modem in this post.

If Only There Were a Way to Tell if a Krack Attack was Actively Being Employed on a Network

In light of what I learned…this threat isn’t nearly as concerning as I’d once believed it to be. But it’s still present and will continue until network hardware makers release fixes for their products. That’s why I was really excited when I received an email today from a company I’d been watching with interest for several years as they worked on developing a new breed of hardware device that can aid greatly in administering smaller networks like those used in most home throughout the United States.

Fingbox and the ios app

The Product I’ve Been Keeping Tabs on the Development of is Called Fingbox

I was watching it for so long because of the promise it held it for keeping our home network secure and managing our problematic bandwidth issues. I believed that if the Fingbox team could make the Fingbox a reality, and do it such a way that we could afford it (without monthly subscription fees) that would be the answer I’d been searching for. It turns out that’s exactly what they did! Moreover, the timing for Fingbox could not have been better!

How I Discovered Fingbox

I first heard about Fingbox when I took an action that I almost never take…I signed up to receive email updates from an app developer. The app was called Fing. I never sign up for email updates because I’m already overwhelmed with too many emails. The thought of receiving one more was far from appealing. But in the case of Fing….I was so intrigued that I broke my own rule.

Once I’d finally regained control of our network following an almost 2 year battle with a botnet, I wanted to keep very close tabs on all of our network traffic. I discovered Fing in that pursuit. While Fing didn’t let me do a lot of the things I longed for…it did let me do one thing very, very well. Fing let me see who or what was on my network at any given moment in time…just by using my iPhone or iPad!

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The Fing App

In the early years following our botnet attack, we relied completely upon one device to help us feel secure…a hardware firewall…which had been installed and was maintained by a network consulting firm we hired. The firewall device was much too complicated for us to manage on our own. Even its management reporting features seemed far beyond our skill level. Sometimes they even seemed to be beyond our consultant’s level! Because it turns out that…

Networks are über complicated…and so are the firewall devices used to protect them.

Which is precisely why I was beyond thrilled when I discovered Fing! Apparently I wasn’t alone. Back then Fing was only available on ios…today it’s available on many different devices. I wasn’t even surprised to just learn that Fing has over 20 million users!

That’s because Fing does it’s one task exceedingly well. In fact, it really does a bit more than that too…it gives users tools to save their network and device information so that once a network is scan is completed, you can immediately spot the new devices on it. Those you’d scanned previously allow you to begin storing a bit of a history regarding their network usage.

I’m fairly certain that there is another key element that explains Fings overwhelming popularity. It’s the fact that Fing was and continues to remain a free app. I also think this says a lot about Fing’s developers. It would have been so easy to convert Fing into a paid app once it’s popularity grew. I have no doubt that even under that scenario Fing’s popularity would have continued to grow.

I can’t over emphasize the importance of the ‘peace of mind’ I gained by always knowing exactly what devices were on my network. But it wasn’t just me who was impressed. As we worked with various network consultants over the years, I found that almost all of them were equally impressed with Fing. Our expensive firewall appliance simply couldn’t provide us with that information in a quick and easy manner.

How Fingbox was Conceived

While I don’t know the exact answer to this…I do know that it was several years ago. I know this because I’d been following the company for that long. I watched as the Fingbox Team grew, the Fingbox device grew smarter and more robust, while it gradually went from concept to a finished reliable device. Early on the company seemed to struggle a little bit in coming up with the right form for their product…they tested out a subscription based service. Luckily they abandoned that concept and developed Fingbox instead. Fingbox is, at its core, a network scanner…but it’s unlike any network scanner I’ve ever seen.

The difference is that typically network scanners are employed by people who work with networks a lot and they understand all of the intricate details of networks. But this scanner is for everybody else. It’s strength is that it takes all this complex data and makes it super simple to understand and use.

What Does Fingbox Do?

The device itself is super easy to install by anyone…no network knowledge is required. Once Fingbox is connected to your network these are some of the safety features it provides you:

Fingbox Features

  • Internet Speed Tests and Historical Data
  • WiFi Speed and Streaming Quality Analysis in Real Time
  • Bandwidth Analysis and Isolation of Bandwidth Hogs
  • Gives Users the Ability to Block Devices from Accessing Their Network
  • Temporarily Pause Internet Usage on Kid’s Devices
  • Setup Digital Presences to Monitor Network Usage by Individuals or Groups
  • Setup and Receive Alerts for Various Events Such as When a New Device Joins Your Network
  • Logs Recent Events for Future Analysis
  • Internet Connection Security Check that Checks for Open Ports & Network Weaknesses
  • Monitor and Control Network Usage in Several Different Ways
  • See Virtually Everything Happening on Your Network
  • A Digital Fence Feature Displays WiFi Devices that are Within Range of Your Network, Even if they Haven’t Joined Your Network.
  • Alerts When ‘Evil Twin AP’s’ are Present

It’s those last 2 features that compelled me to order one today and to write this post. Whether or not firmware updates are made available for our network hardware, with Fingbox’es continual monitoring I won’t worry about Krack Attack Exploits.you can read more about how Fingbox accomplishes this in this article.

Watch This Video Demonstration of How Fingbox Digital Fence Detects a Malicious AP

Additional Information About Krack Attack & Some Important Fingbox Links

Fingbox was created to monitor entire small networks like those found in most homes. There’s no practical upper limit to the number of devices contained within a network although I did see mention of the number 256…so it’s quite possible that 256 devices is the maximum threshold for one Fingbox. But even if that’s true, it’s not really a concern for me. We have more devices than is the norm and last time I checked it, we were at 37 devices.Our network is quite complex because we have a hardware firewall, a mesh Wifi network and we use a gigabit switch. None of those factors will preclude us from using Fingbox, although in their literature they suggest tweaking some of the firewall’s settings to allow the Fingbox to,operate at its full potential. Further digging did reveal that there are some routers that don’t function well with Fingbox. You can read about those here.

When you arrive at the webpage in the link above you should see something like this:

If you don’t see all of the subcategories under the compatibility menu item, you just need to click or tap on it to expand the submenu.

Fingbox is really, really new. It was funded with an Indiegogo campaign that raised over 1.6 million and its backers just received their Fingboxes in August of this year. That means that the Fingbox team will continue to enhance and improve the device as greater numbers of user reviews start rolling in. You can read and see what Fingboxes initial backers had to say about it here. If you’d like you can also see what the Indiegogo campaign was all about.

How to Get Fingbox

One of the things I find most astonishing about Fingbox is how inexpensive it is…primarily because of how powerful the device is. I’ve spent a lot of time researching network hardware and the features Fingbox offers for the really low price nad low learning curve involved is truly hard to believe! Which is why I ordered one within hours of receiving that email I mentioned.

If you’re interested in getting your own FingBox, there are 2 different ways you can do so. In both cases the price is the same and free shipping is included. The first alternative is to order it from Amazon. I became an Amazon Associate a few months ago, so if you’d like to support my website by ordering it this way I’d recieve a small commission and I’d be really grateful too :-) The second method is to order it directly from Fing. Regardless of the method you use, Fingbox is covered by a generous 2 year warranty and is guaranteed to never require subscription fees.

Order Fingbox from Amazon

Order Fingbox from Fing

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