Wednesday, 22 August 2007

What Is Wardriving And How Can You Prevent It

Imagine a car equipped with nothing more than a laptop computer, a portable GPS receiver, and a wireless network card slowly strolls through your neighborhood. Unknown to any onlookers, this is no ordinary vehicle; rather, it is a wardriving machine. As the car strolls past homes and businesses, a wireless network card (available at any electronics store for as low as $25) scans for any wireless access points. Anyone with a wireless network (and there are many out there) is vulnerable. The computer is looking for what is called an SSID. An SSID is your wireless network name and it is being constantly transmitted by your access point, letting computers know of its presence. The wardriver uses software such as Netstumbler (for windows) or Cismet (for linux) to scan the airwaves for SSIDs. The program can track various access points at once and monitor the signal strength. These programs can also check to see if the network is encrypted. The wardriver will generally configure his or her software to log any strong unencrypted signals. Using the GPS receiver, the coordinates of the strong signal will be recorded. After this preliminary drive, the wardriver can return to the locations that were recorded, and connect to the access point. Once connected to an unencrypted network, the wardriver can use the victim's internet access, and can also explore computers on the network. If files are being shared within someone's private network, all of that information is susceptible to a wardriver. Furthermore, once in the network, a wardriver can sniff network traffic and can view any information such as passwords and credit card numbers you send out to the internet - even SSL secured data. Wireless network vulnerability is a major problem, and as more and more households purchase wireless technology, the problem of insecure networks increases. Sound scary? Well this happens every day, and it doesn't take an expert to pull off. It doesn't take an expert to protect against either, however.

Steps you can take to protect against wardrivers:

There are a number of very simple steps you can take to protect your wireless network. For many of these, you will have to access your router configuration utility (check your manual on how to do this, you will generally need to type an IP address into your browser such as or

Don't broadcast your SSID. If you are broadcasting your SSID, this is the first thing a program will pickup and recognize. If you configure your router to not broadcast your SSID, it will be difficult to detect (but not impossible, for some software can sniff wireless communication, so if you are using your wireless network, the SSID can be revealed). If you are not broadcasting your SSID, but it can be guessed (such as if you are using a default SSID), cloaking is pointless. Due to this, remember to change your SSID from the factory default. This is not a 100 percent effective method to secure your network, but it is a good first line of defense.

Change the default password. When you buy a router, a factory password is stored. People experienced in working with routers know the default passwords for different routers (and the make of the router can be seen by wardriver software such as netstumbler). It is important that you secure your router with a good password.

Encrypt your wireless communication. I can't stress the importance of encrypting your wireless communication enough. Enable encryption and enter a key. Most routers are only capable of WEP encryption, but if they permit, use EAP encryption, it's more secure than WEP. Like cloaking your SSID, encryption is not 100 percent secure. Given enough time and determination, if someone wants to target you and access your network, WEP encryption can be bypassed using software such as AirSnort.

Filter the MAC addresses that are allowed to connect to your router. This would require that you enter your router configuration and input the MAC address of each wireless card you have. This will restrict access so that only your computers can connect to the router. You will need to obtain the MAC address (which is the individual identification address of a network card in the form a 12 digit hexadecimal number). If someone sniffs traffic and detects the MAC address of a computer wirelessly using your network, the wardriver could emulate that address and connect to the router, but this takes time.

If you configure file sharing on your computers, make sure it is password protected. You should not share files on your networked computers unless it requires an authenticated user to access. Set up the same user accounts on your machines so that your computers can share files.

With these relatively simple steps, wireless network users can secure their networks from wardrivers. Wireless networks are inherently insecure, and these tips will merely help you greater secure your network. If someone is really determined to gain access to your network, given enough time, a good hacker can get access. These tips will deter the average wardriver from gaining access to your network, however. Although these methods are not definite security measures, they will change your network from being something that can be hacked in a matter of seconds, to something that will take a determined hacker days if not weeks of work, all of which will have to be done while in close proximity to your network.

The author is a network security veteran, and CEO of Andertec Enterprises [], which specializes in onsite custom computer services for the Los Angeles area. Andertec also sells custom made-to-order computer systems, and has a line of revolutionary products at incredibly low prices including the best-selling CyberHome Complete home automation package.

CD and DVD Printing and Packaging - Preparing Your Artwork

Creating Artwork for CD or DVD On-Body Printing

Always use a template

This sounds fairly obvious, but there are a few very good reasons why you should always design using a template.

1. If you're printing onto a printable CDR or DVDR using an office inkjet printer then you need to carefully measure the printable area of your chosen disc because they can vary wildly in terms of exterior and interior diameter.

2. If you're going to be supplying your completed CD or DVD artwork to a professional printing company then they will have their own printable area constraints for the particular brand of CD or DVD that they supply. In some instances the printer may print right up to the centre hole of the disc but other printers may prefer not to. Check with them before beginning your design work and ask for a template to be supplied.

3. A template supplied by a professional CD and DVD printing company will be at the correct resolution (300dpi to 400dpi) and will specify any additional requirements such as inner and outer limits for any text that is included in the artwork. There is often a requirement for text to be at least 3 to 4 mm clear of the inner and outer edges of the disc. Also, the acceptable file formats of the finished artwork will be specified.

4. Always allow for artwork bleed. If you can supply an artwork file for CD or DVD printing that allows an extra 2 or 3mm outside of the external and internal printable disc surface diameters then this is ideal.

Most of the artwork supplied to us by experienced packaging designers is a 124mm square artwork that contains all the pertinent features well inside the printable area of the CD or DVD.

In our experience, most project delays with artwork, occur because the designer wasn't working to the correct printable disc area size or has supplied artwork at a resolution lower than 300dpi which would result in a poor quality print.

A Typical CD or DVD Template

Consider the Appropriate CD or DVD Printing Process

Screen Printing - If your design consists of solid block colours then the most effective print process for your CDs or DVDs would be screen printing. Screen printing involves producing fine mesh screens, one for each colour in the artwork, and then using a screen printing machine to apply UV light sensitive ink in the appropriate colour. This process can only apply up to 6 separate colours and should not be used where there is any colour gradient; the colour should always be solid and consistent.

If you're design features any specialist ink requirements such as metallic ink or fluorescent ink, then this will be the process used and the rest of your artwork will need to conform to the requirements for screen printing.

Lithographic (Offset) Printing - For complex images, such as photographic images or artwork featuring colour gradients, litho printing is used. This process involves using a rubber sheet wrapped around a cylinder to transfer the ink from a printing plate to the disc. Very high resolution prints can be achieved using litho printing but there are still a few constraints to be aware of, such as:

Don't use subtle colour gradients (transitions from one colour to another) over large areas. This can result in a "banded" print where there are not enough shades of colour to make a smooth transition from dark to light or colour to colour.

Don't use photographs taken in poor light conditions, they may look cool and artistic on a computer screen but when printed the subtleties of a dark figure against a slightly lighter background will most probably be lost unless you alter the exposure of the photograph which will open up another can of worms.

Avoid having large areas of one, solid colour in designs destined for lithographic print. It can be very difficult to litho print a large, flawless block colour area and you would more than likely get inconsistencies.
Creating Artwork for CD or DVD Packaging

The process used to print onto cardstock packaging is a digital printing process. The card will normally have a semi-glossy silk finish as standard. The packaging can then be finished with a gloss or matt laminate if required, depending upon your artwork requirement. Some of the considerations for CD packaging or DVD packaging artwork are the same as for CD or DVD on-body artwork, such as not using subtle gradients over large areas and not using dark photograph images, but there are also a whole host of other considerations due to the variety of CD and DVD packaging available and how it is printed and manufactured.

Card Wallets

A typical template for a basic card wallet will have the front panel on the left hand side and the rear panel on the right with the spine area marked. There are variations available such as extra folded printable panels or a "gatefold" design where there is a printable panel to either side of the centre panel which houses the disc.

When designing artwork for card wallets, you will need to give some thought to the following:

Crossover images - If the artwork for the front and back of the wallet is a completely different colour then you will have a hard colour transition at the spine fold. Movement may occur during the digital print process which could cause slight misalignment of the front and rear images, so wherever possible, try to use images that blend into one another or use a consistent colour for front and rear artwork.

Creasing - If your artwork is very dark and particularly for black artwork, you can sometimes experience a "cracking" effect along the spine or folded edges of the card where the dark ink at the fold cracks away from the card and you see white card exposed beneath it along the crease. You need to run a test print and try carefully creasing the spine if you're doing your own printing, to check whether your material will suffer from this effect. If you're using a professional printing company ask to see samples of dark coloured, folded card packaging to check the creasing process used by your printer won't cause this effect.

Text Position - Keep any text in your design at least 4 to 5 mm away from any edge in case of slight printing misalignment.
CD Jewel Case Booklets or DVD Case Booklets

Very often, CD or DVD packaging will require a booklet of some sort to accompany the disc. In the case of audio CDs they usually contain lyrics and acknowledgements of anyone who worked on the project. In the case of computer software supplied on CD or DVD, the booklet would contain instructions on how to use the software.

The printing material is obviously a lighter grade than that used to make card wallets but the same considerations need to be acknowledged.

A dark print needs to be creased correctly to prevent "cracking" as in the case of the card wallet folds.

Crossover images need to blend into one another, again, as with the card wallet

Text needs to be kept 4 to 5 mm away from any edge as well as the crossover edge down the booklet spine

When a booklet contains many pages, an effect known as "creep" occurs because of the bulk of the folded paper which causes the inner pages to extend further out than the outer pages when they are folded. The creep will vary as the number of pages and the paper thickness increases. The greater the number of pages in a booklet, the greater the need to ensure all text, graphics, images and objects are kept a minimum of 10 mm inside of the vertical trimmed edge.

If your booklet contains more than 2 printed panels bear in mind that booklets can only be made with page numbers that are a multiple of 4 (4,8,12,16 etc.) as each new sheet will have 4 printable panels.

When laying out the design for your booklet, consider carefully where each page should be positioned on the template. For example, in an 8 page booklet pages 1 and 8 will be printed on the same sheet with page 1 on the right and page 8 on the left. The rear side of this sheet will feature pages 2 and 7, with page 2 on the left and page 7 on the right.
Create a rough mock-up of your booklet before beginning the design work in order to understand clearly how pages are positioned in relation to one another when printed.

Digipack Printing

A digipack is a cardstock CD or DVD packaging solution with a plastic CD holding tray glued onto the inside right-hand panel, where the design is printed onto one side of the template.The template is then folded and glued to form a robust and stylish package. As with the Card Wallet above, you will need to consider the position of crossover images but also this is one packaging option where you will definitely need a template to understand how the panels that make up the finished product are positioned so that all images are correctly orientated.

In Summary

Hopefully, the information contained in this article will assist you in creating your CD or DVD disc and packaging artwork and help to eliminate some of the commonly made and potentially costly errors that are possible when embarking upon your first project of this kind.

Even for experienced disc art and packaging art designers there remains a need to check and double check that the artwork meets the printer's requirements as different printers will often have different working parameters.

Good Luck!

Monday, 21 February 2005

In What Cases Would You Need A CNC Machining Service?

What is CNC machining technology? How do you explain its increasing popularity with the manufacturing sector?

CNC Machining is the short term for Computer Numerical Control Machining. It is a manufacturing process which requires the use of computers to control machine tools and equipment the likes of routers, grinders, mills, and lathes.

A Computer Aided Design Software (CAD) produces a design. This design is then converted by the computer into numbers. These numbers become the coordinates of a graph, controlling the motions of the cutter.

CNC Machining is a unique state-of-the-art technology which provides for machine tools to function by way of numerical control. Plastic and metal parts are manufactured through a high-precision process, with the computerized program controlling rate and positioning with unerring accuracy and precision.

The computerization/programming of the machine tools which cut and shape the material manufactured have clear strengths. Accuracy is high. The process is swift and efficient, making for shorter production time. There is very little scope for human error. Manufacturing is more flexible; the preciseness of the process allows for contour machining, the production of small and intricate parts -- even those with multifaceted three dimensional shapes.

There are also certain limitations to this ultra-modern technology. The technology does not come cheap. You need a bigger investment in the beginning (which, on the other hand, many investors seem inclined to make as there is great return on investment). Also, the machines require maintenance and skilled CNC machining services.

Expert CNC machining services are available, particularly if you know exactly what to look for.

Look for experience. The best CNC machining services can provide you with people who have extensive training and experience in this field. These people are mechanically-inclined and are enthusiastic about figuring out what will be best for you and your type of operations.

These people understand your situation. They know that your success depends on keeping operations running efficiently and smoothly. If there are problems, they know that they have to trouble shoot as fast, as proficiently, and as expertly as they can so that operations can resume as soon as possible. Any delay is money lost.

The best CNC machining services has a team of dedicated workers who conduct themselves with utmost professionalism. They are attuned to your needs. They will address your problems efficiently and promptly.

The best CNC machining services will provide the finest products and services at reasonable cost.

Charles works for a CNC machining service company in Norfolk. When not at work, he enjoys writing articles and blogs on different tips to do with engineering, as well as hunting, cooking and working out at the gym. He is also, surprisingly, a vegan.

Saturday, 6 November 2004

Categorizing & Organizing Electronic Data for Maximum Backup Efficiency

Most companies today, whether large or small, are experiencing data overload.  According to industry studies, many organizations are finding that they have to double their storage capacities every six to 12 months.  With recent regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA and others requiring businesses to accurately record and report and thus generate more data, this explosion of data will not subside anytime soon.  In fact, as additional regulations are being anticipated for banking and other industries it is likely to continue it's rapid increase.  
To protect your mission-critical data and keep your company up and running, certainly having an efficient backup and recovery solution is key.  However, in order to achieve and maintain backup efficiency, categorizing and organizing your data is also important, not only to ensure that necessary files are backed up but to minimize costs.  Today, this is an especially complex task given remote offices and more and more mobile devices in use.  
First and foremost, administration of data protection procedures must be centralized in order to maintain consistency and control.  This will ensure that branch office data is also adequately protected.  It is then incumbent upon the administrator to encourage the branch offices to save any and all data to the server, rather than on local hard drives, so that it can be backed up in accordance with the set backup schedule.  
Categorizing your files into different groups with different backup schedules can help reduce your costs considerably. MP3 files for example, might only need to be backed up once a week otherwise, they might unnecessarily expand your backup window and depending upon what type of backup solution you use, your costs.  You can begin by grouping your file data by type and access. The data type identifies data by purpose, while data access identifies data by usage and rate of change. Data type involves categorizing the data by Operating System, Operating System (OS) Data, Applications and User Data. Data access identifies the data's usage and change rate. For some data, there might not be any modification because the data is archive data. For other data, there might be low, medium or high change. This process will help you determine how often your data should be backed up and how long it should be stored. 
The following questions should be asked: 

Does the data support a critical business function?

Does the data support a legal or auditing concern?

Is the data sensitive?

Is the data difficult or expensive to reproduce?

This will help determine how often to backup and how long to store the data in question. For example, data that supports a critical business function should be copied off-site on a regular basis and should have a brief retention period because of its high rate of change. Data that supports a legal or auditing concern should also be copied off-site on a somewhat regular basis; however, it should have a long or permanent retention period because of its nature. Sensitive data, such as patents or trade secrets, should be copied off-site on a regular basis and should be permanently archived. Data, such as historical information, that is difficult or expensive to reproduce, should be copied off-site once and should be permanently archived. 
How you organize your data is also important. Structuring your system so the data files discussed above are organized in one area facilitates pointing the backup program to one area rather than having to gather files from widespread locations. Having personnel save their documents to a designated folder on the server is the ideal option.  For example, each employee can have their own named folder where they can save their files.  Typically, through the Preferences option, programs can be redirected to do this by default.  Through this set-up, you can easily see which files need to be backed up and plan accordingly. 
As the amount of business data grows, achieving the most efficient backup is all the more important.   Whatever backup method you use, by simply categorizing and organizing your data you can ensure that you are backing up the right files and can minimize your costs at the same time.  It just makes good business sense.
Bud Stoddard has over 20 years of experience in the data 

Friday, 22 October 2004

The Technology Tether In A Virtual World

Over the last quarter century, no industry has seen more dramatic change-and has had a bigger impact on consumers and businesses-than technology!

Define technology...

We used to describe technology as...

"the branch of knowledge that deals with the creation and use of technical means and their interrelation with life, society, and the environment, drawing upon such subjects as industrial arts,engineering, applied science, and pure science."

Now... it's defined as...

"the sum of the ways in which social groups provide themselves with the material objects of their civilization."

Do you find yourself constantly checking email, text messages or social media? Is your smartphone or tablet the first thing you reach for in the morning, or the last thing you put down at night? If this sounds like you, then you are tethered to technology and probably missing out on what is actually going on around you.

Below are some tips on how to disconnect - so you can connect with your family, friends and with your kids from Working Mother Magazine.

Customize your notifications. Give important contacts (your husband, boss, nanny, etc.) their own ringtones and text tones. Only respond to key contacts when you're trying to have uninterrupted time with your kids, family or friends. Everyone else can wait.

Create tech-free zones. Make a pact that you'll stay off your phone during key "connect times". Those should include meal times, when you're in the car with your husband, wife or kids, and an hour or so before your child's bedtime. Kids feel more valued when you actually look at them and listen to them without any distractions.

Set specific "check in" times. If you have to be on call for work issues at night or on weekends, let co-workers know you'll check for messages once an hour, or at specified times. That way, there's no need to glance constantly at your phone. Tell your family or friends about your check-in policy so they know ahead of time what to expect.

Remind yourself that you're setting an example. If you create some tech boundaries for yourself, your child is more likely to follow your family's rules with his or her electronics.
There are always exceptions to technology rules, but do yourself a favor and disconnect every once in a while. Time goes by so fast, and you don't want to miss out on amazing things that are going on around you in the physical world.

As we enter the era of even more ubiquitous computing, with sensors on our bodies, in our homes and offices and all over our cities. What ways do you untether yourself from technology? We would love for you to comment on this post with your ideas.

Virtual Assistance is a fast growing industry. At Virtual Assistant Quickstart (VAQ), we strive to keep you up-to-date on the latest trends and technologies by providing effective tools, training opportunities and resources that will help you grow and be successful as a virtual assistant.

Saturday, 18 October 2003

What You Need To Know About VPNs

VPNs make it possible for businesses and individuals to communicate and transmit data over a wide area network. The cool thing with VPNs is that you are able to send private information over public channels. Since VPN relies on WAN connections, computers connected to the network don't need to be physically nearby-they can be countries or even continents apart and they will communicate perfectly.

Types of VPNs

There are many types of VPNs with the main ones being:

Virtual private dial-up network (VPDN). This is a user-to-LAN connection where users have to connect to the company LAN. As a company owner, you need to set up a NAS (network access server) and then provide your users with software that will enable them to reach the NAS from their computers.

You should note that this type of VPN requires a third party to provide encryption services.

Site-to-site VPN: as a company owner you have to invest in dedicated hardware that will make it possible for your multiple sites to connect to your LAN through the public network. It's good to note that most of the site-to-site VPNs are extranet or intranet-based.

Benefits of VPN

There are a good number of benefits that come with VPNs. These benefits include:

Business application: if you have a business you are able to maximize the businesses efficiency courtesy of VPN. Using VPN your employees are able to connect to the computers in the office network using their personal computers at home. The employees are able to access messages, documents and other information. This ensures that the employees don't have to wait to report to the office to start working-they can work from home.

In addition to employees being able to access information from home, different office branches can connect to the VPN and share confidential information securely.

Protection: as a regular consumer you can use VPN to access Wi-fi or other loosely secured network. The cool thing with accessing Wi-fi using VPN is that you add a layer of protection against information theft.


This is what you need to know about VPN. You should note that while the network is great to use, it tends to reduce your transfer speeds due to the additional network overhead involved. It's also challenging to set it up for the first time as a novice. For ideal results, you should hire a professional to do the work for you.

VPNs have been around for a long time. The unfortunate thing is that you need to pay to use them. We have a free VPN that allows you to encrypt your data free of charge.

Friday, 10 October 2003

Intuition: A Different Dimension of Computing

Ever walked into a room and had that nagging feeling that something is wrong? Or have you ever found it near impossible to stop thinking about someone, only to receive an unexpected phone call from them? Can you predict the weather better than your local news team? Or do you have a knack for languages that defies all logic and reason?

Each one of us- as humans and as an individual- is fascinating and creative, ever in discovery of our own potential and capabilities. We exercise and stretch ourselves to break new ground and boundaries; every once in a while however we defy our own imaginations, encountering and experiencing what we might term as super-human. But our intuition is anything but unusual or superhuman; infact it is at the very core of our makeup as human beings.

So what really is intuition? Essentially, intuition is our capacity to process information outside our waking consciousness. Our mind works like a supercomputer, with our intuition running in the backdrop- constantly picking up on clues, stimuli and information usually too subtle for our attention and awareness. This information, just like the information we process consciously, allows us to better grasp and respond to our environment, a situation or a person. Because this occurs outside our conscious awareness, we may not always be able to pinpoint exactly how we arrived at our conclusions, knowledge and understanding, but the process is as natural to us as breathing itself.

For long science has debated the validity of intuition and related phenomenon. But with there being so man interesting accounts and observations, the questions are not as much about whether intuition exists as about how it works. Here too, research has come to show our brain's capacity to process information outside waking awareness, opening the field wide open to debate, theories and ideas. Whether or not science ever finds a satisfactory answer, our intuition continues to enlighten our choices, feelings, responses and impressions of people and the world around us. From gut instincts to remarkable insights, we continue to bring new dimensions to our comprehension and experience of our environment through our intuition.

But like every other muscle in the body and every aspect of our being, the more attention we give our intuition and the more we exercise it, the sharper it gets. Instead of brushing it away as mere pointless ramblings of an unengaged mind, paying attention to the whispers of our intuition can help clear and clean out our intuitive channels. Whether focusing on your gut feelings or listening to your intuition for advice on decisions, the more you practice connecting with your intuition, the better you get at bringing its gifts into your life.

Meditation is a fabulous way to fine tune our intuition. Taking time out to clear and calm the mind, helps hear our intuition and its voice- even over the initial protests of our own reasoning and logic who cannot satisfactorily explain our own intuitive awareness and its findings.

e-Idea magazine is your premier resource for reliable, accurate and valuable information that you can put to use every single day. We understand that in today's internet intensive world, there is immense information available with just a single click of the mouse.