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Monday, 29 November 2010

Security at Airports

The recent news with suspect toner cartridges has meant that airport security has been stepped up and perhaps I should have taken this into consideration during my trip back from  Germany.

All was well going out and the usual security check of taking off shoes, jacket. etc  passed off without incident.

The return journey couldn’t have been more different.  The job had been tiring and I had a couple of late nights as well, so I was probably not as alert as I could have been.  I wear a suit and carry a laptop; my grey hair shows that I am a mature man, probably not the profile of your usual suspects.

I approached the security point at the German airport; I had removed my jacket, taken my loose change out of my pockets, put my mobile phone and laptop into the tray, taken off my watch as it has a metal strap and looked at the female security operator as she asked me if I had anything metal on me before I went through the detector arch, I mentioned  that the only metal I had were my braces, but if I removed them my trousers would fall down.  It was supposed to be humorous, but her blank face showed that she was not amused. 

As I walked through the arch she pointed to me and gestured to a colleague.  I was whisked into a small room where I had to take off my shoes, empty all my pockets, open my shirt, switch on my laptop and was subjected to a full scan with that wand thing. Fortunately the rubber glove was not required.   All was in order and I was allowed to go.

As I walked out of the room the same woman security guard walked over to me and said
 "Ah I see your trousers have stayed up" and smiled.    

Lesson learned.  Stupid comments at security are not a good idea.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Environmental Systems and Waste Management

The world has an increasing amount of waste of all types that are put to landfill and other disposal methods.  This waste may take decades or more to degrade so it was particularly pleasing to hear that an innovative company has designed a system to use waste and turn it into energy.

The system is a simple one and has been used by gardeners for many years to turn green waste into compost.  During the composting phase methane and carbon dioxide is given off.  The trick with the new system is to capture the methane, clean it and then either feed it into the gas grid or use it to produce electricity.   The reduction in methane emissions to the atmosphere will pay handsome dividends in the climate change stakes.
There have been other advances where a company in the USA have been turning industrial plastic waste into a useable aircraft fuel.  

Bio digesters can turn almost anything organic into its hydrocarbon and methane components thereby reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.  We all know that fossil fuels cannot last too much longer and will never be reformed while waste will be on-going. 

I can envisage the day when all waste is  recycled into energy and we will be self sufficient once again.   Importing vast amounts of gas from anywhere is fought with risks, especially if the supplier can shut off the supply as a bargaining chip in any conflict.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Computer Security and ISO27001

Last week while travelling by train I witnessed a severe breach of security by one of my fellow passengers.

He was obviously angry as he spoke on his mobile phone. He seemed to be speaking to one of his colleagues who was having a problem with one of their computer servers and wasn't sure what to do.

The conversation went something like this...

"You need to log in as an administrator to gain access to the xxxxxxx operating system config file".
"What do you mean you can't remember the administrator password".... For God's sake it is $%^mGGtss76".
"Now you are in the system you should run the yyyyy utility. did that work?"
"Ok now go into the ttttttttt company server called ryytruuuuuuuuy enter the high level administrator password ... letmeinagain8! and run the backup exec file and all should be well. ...If not Barry call me again".

The chap clearly ignored the rest of us and assumed that we were not listening to his conversation.

I asked him if he realised what he had done and that I had sufficient information to hack into his company server. He looked shocked, he hadn't given it a thought.

He used his mobile again.

"Barry, you will need to reset the passwords on both systems now as I seemed to have broadcast them to the entire carriage on this train"
"Yes *********** all right..... I know, see you later. Don't mention any of this to Harry".

The morale here is to ensure that you don't give away sensitive information and certainly not disclose passwords.

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