• Personal security – LazLock password manager

    Despite being ‘the computer geek’ to many of my friends and family, I’ve always had a love / hate relationship with technology.
    I’m Generation X, the bridge generation, we came after the baby-boomers and thought that we were digital natives until the Millennials came and transformed the internet from a network of computers to a social network of user created content.

    I love the ease that technology has given us, whilst hating how it’s separated us from our neighbours IRL. But this is where we live now, far away from outdated notions of ‘going online’. We’re always connected, to each other, to the news, to a constant stream of information.
    The convenience it gives us is genuinely revolutionary, though it’s easy to take for granted. How many times have you travelled somewhere by booking a flight online, or ordering an Uber or a BlaBlaCar? Whilst travelling you can find a place to stay through Airbnb or book a hotel online. If you wind up in a place where you don’t speak the language you can download an app that translates the local lingo for you and, thanks to GPS, you rarely get lost.
    I love all of these things, but there’s a trade off. Convenience in exchange for your privacy.

    “It’s impossible to move, to live, to operate at any level without leaving traces, bits, seemingly meaningless fragments of personal information. Fragments that can be retrieved, amplified… ”
    William Gibson, Johnny Mnemonic
    May 1981

    Online privacy is one of those things that everyone is vaguely aware is important but it never seems to apply to us. We read news stories about databases getting hacked like Ashley Madison, Twitter, Sony. Maybe we get inspired to change our password when something like that hits the news but, overall, security / privacy is too fiddly to be easy to use.

    As part of my job, I’m responsible for several social media accounts, managing my company’s various Facebook, Twitter, email and website profiles. I need to use strong passwords to login to each of those sites, the passwords also need to be unique.

    Imagine if you used the same password for all of your online accounts, just because it’s one that you can remember.
    Now imagine that one of the sites that you use it for, maybe a small forum or messageboard run by people who aren’t professionals, gets hacked.
    If you’re lucky, the site doesn’t keep your passwords on file as plain text. Even so, the hash of your password can be cracked in a short amount of time (especially if it includes words, personal information or dates), once that person has your password they’ll then try to use it to login to your social media, cloud storage or email accounts.

    You won’t necessarily know if someone has access to your account. Most crackers will just monitor what information you post to try and collect bank details, personal information, compromising photos… whatever.

    There are tools to protect you online, try typing your email address into http://www.roboform.com/have-i-been-hacked to see if your account has been breached.
    Some websites, like Dropbox, allow 2 factor authentication. This means that when you enter your username and password online, a text message is sent to your phone containing a code. You then need to enter the code online to continue logging in.

    The simplest way to start protecting yourself online though, is using a password manager. A small application that sits on your computer that contains all of your passwords.
    I’ve been using password managers for years and they’ve really helped.

    The general idea is that you only need to remember 1 password, the one that you use to unlock the application, it then remembers the rest for you. Even better, as the password manager takes away the need to remember everything yourself, you can start to create really long passwords made up of randomly generated letters, numbers and symbols that are very difficult to crack.
    The more I used password managers, the more I found things that I disliked about them.
    The ones that were easy to use are browser addons or they run in the cloud. To me, this isn’t very secure. The ones that worked locally, as a program running from your computer, were too big and ugly.
    I decided to write my own program, a password manager that was small enough to fit on a USB stick and carry anywhere. That I could run on both the Windows computers at work and my Linux laptop at home. A program that protected everything with 128 bit AES encryption so that, if I ever lost my USB stick, I could be confident that my data was safe.
    The program that I came up with was LazLock, a free, lightweight, portable password manager.

    LazLock UI screenshot
    LazLock running on Windows 10

    You can view the online help for the program at https://www.cpunk-security.com/lazlock2.html

    CPunk Security is a ongoing project where I plan to make online privacy simpler for the average user. Through free software, consulting and penetration testing.



  • Featured Image Filming the Gibson – Johnny Mnemonic

     

    As a lifelong fan of William Gibson, I always find myself cringing a little when I read interviews with him conducted by someone who either believes that they need to start with a Gibson For Dummies primer piece or are surprised that he wrote most than just That One Book.
    He’s so much more than ‘The Man Who Coined The Term Cyberspace’ or ‘The Godfather of Cyberpunk’. He’s a beat poet. A lyrical, cynical wordsmith whose ability to posit where our technology will take us 10 minutes into the future has mostly been accurate due to the sheer number of readers he has inspired to learn to use computers. Continue reading  Post ID 329



  • Featured Image Strange Days (1995) – Film review

    1995 was a great year for movies. The Usual Suspects was blowing everyone away, as were 12 Monkeys and Seven.
    It was a particularly good year for cyberpunk movies, Ghost in the Shell was setting the bar for both animation and story. Screamers was Philip K Dick done on a low budget but elevated by having Peter Weller star. Hackers was a trashy, guilty pleasure as was the desert punk mash-up Tank Girl… on the other end of the scale there was the disappointing Judge Dredd… but the less said about that the better.
    Also a pre-Matrix Keanu Reeves starred in one of my favourite movies, Johnny Mnemonic. Here’s my copy of the movie that William Gibson very kindly signed for me. Continue reading  Post ID 268



  • Shaving with a shavette

    You’re doing it wrong!

    Chances are that every time you go into the bathroom for your morning ritual, you’re doing it wrong. It’s a sad fact but there’s still hope .

    I was in Boots the chemist a while ago, browsing by the shaving supplies, when a sales assistant came over to me and tried to promote the latest multi-blade Gillette razor.

    I was really into straight razor shaving at the time and wasn’t interested. Multi-blade razors irritate my skin (obvious really, if a single blade scraping over your skin can cause irritation, a 5 blade razor will be 5X worse) and the replacement cartridges can cost upwards of £20 per pack.

    Continue reading  Post ID 250



  • Getting used to Poser 10

    At the risk of this turning into a Poser blog, I wanted to post another short piece about Poser 10 again.

    Since I don’t want to pay for 3D content, I decided to check out the free content that’s available online. I really like the user creations at ShareCG and I’ve downloaded several costumes and characters like Behemoth and the cool variation of him here

    Adman is a kinda funky looking free character that I haven’t installed yet but looks interesting.

    Mainly, I’ve been trying out variations of an older freebie called Apollo Maximus available to download from here

    Continue reading  Post ID 231



  • Getting animated about animation

    I’ve had a hankering to animate again recently, geeking out designing characters and writing short, stupid, improbable storylines to entertain myself with.
    I’ve dabbled in animation ever since Deluxe Paint 3 on the Amiga.
    I briefly played around with machinima and Moho but this time I wanted to move away from comedy shorts and create something a little more serious in tone.
    Continue reading  Post ID 201



  • Dumbing down and disconnecting

    I mostly remember 1997 through a nationalist haze of Cool Britannia, it was the year that Princess Diana died, Tony Blair became Prime Minister and the UK won Eurovision.
    Looking back, it was also the year that I first became connected.
    At the time, I was working away from home a lot for long periods and I decided to splash out on a mobile phone to stay in touch with people. I got a cheap, analogue brick. A Nokia rinGo. It couldn’t send SMS messages, it didn’t even have an internal phonebook meaning that I had to carry a notepad of phone numbers around with me.
    Actually, scratch that. It was at a time when I still remembered peoples phone numbers. Continue reading  Post ID 172



  • Free as in… what now?

    The basic idea of ‘Free software’ is great.
    Almost all the software that I use on a day-to-day basis is free in some shape or form. I’ve previously blogged about the tools I use here http://www.cyberfilth.co.uk/linux-web-design-tools/ and here http://www.cyberfilth.co.uk/linux-video-editing-2015/
    I use an open source operating system that means I’m not only in control of my computer but also part of a larger community. Compared to Windows where I pay for a license to use the software, but I don’t own it, GNU/Linux can be stripped down and put back together in a distro that fits me personally. Continue reading  Post ID 155



  • Hey boy! What you coding for? :: A Pascal odyssey

    Amongst my many geeky pursuits, I love programming.
    I don’t claim to be particularly good at it, but sitting down at a PC and creating a small program or piece of software is kinda liberating.
    I was asked by a friend recently what I find so enjoyable about it, so thought that I’d answer it here.

    I grew up around the time that 8-bit home computers were becoming popular. Everyone had a Spectrum or, in my case, a Commodore 64  hooked up to a cathode ray television. Continue reading  Post ID 117



  • The TOR Browser and online privacy

    After reading another story in the news about proposed plans to take away the general public’s right to online privacy* I put together a short rant PSA about TOR.

    All editing was done in Linux using Kdenlive

    Take a look and let me know what you think…

    *
    http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2015-01/13/david-cameron-hates-your-privacy

    http://www.techradar.com/news/internet/has-david-cameron-really-gone-to-war-on-encryption–1280952