Author Archive: Callam McMillan

Happy 2016 Everybody

So here we are, mid way through the first week of the new year. The hangover of the holiday has been replaced by work, chores, and of course, eating the customary mountain of Christmas chocolate. Overall though, 2016 is looking to be a good year. For me, my personal highlights in 2016 will be becoming a father. Marking 10 years since I left secondary school, and five since I graduated from university. Also, continuing to grow in my role as an Information Security Professional. I’ve resolved to lose some weight, which means cutting down on the aforementioned chocolate, and getting…
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If Callam did the budget

Rarely is a letter from the tax man good news. Usually it involves them telling you how you owe them money. It turns out the government is using HMRC to distribute letters showing how your taxes are spent. If we convert the absolute numbers to percentages then we can see how the budget is divided up. Bloody hell, I don’t know what this is, but it certainly doesn’t look like economic conservatism. Let’s take a look, section by section, and see if we can’t identify some waste. Welfare 25.3%: Over a quarter of our taxes goes to the welfare state….
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Time for a new approach to password security?

The password. It’s been used for thousands of years and today represents the key security token in modern computer systems. Despite its ubiquity, the password is not well loved. Attitudes towards passwords vary from apathy to downright contempt. Very few people would ever stand up and argue that the password is a good method of securing a system. IBM predicted back in 2011 that the password would be dead within five years. However, while the giants of the technology industry are rushing to consign passwords to the dustbin of history, nobody seems to be asking whether the problem is with passwords…
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Physical Security: How to cause mayhem!

I have a number of rules I use in a professional and sometimes personal capacity. This is number 1: Always assume the worst about everything. You’ll rarely be disappointed. When you apply it in a security context, it means given a choice, users will always choose the stupid option. Take passwords, if you don’t mandate a certain password quality, then they’ll choose crap passwords (No, Pa55w0rd does not could as a good one!) If you make the password rules too difficult, well… With a little patience and technical expertise though, it is possible to secure your systems effectively. Password policies,…
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Has the BBC just taken a position on Paris?

The BBC, famous for sitting on the fence, even when it’s made of flaming hot pokers, appears to have just taken a position on the Paris attacks. Thanks to a near two minute monologue by Andrew Neil on his current affairs show, This Week. Never before have I heard such vicious condemnation of an event on British news. Sure, the Americans love to do it, but here, it’s just not seen as the thing to do. Welcome to This Week. The week in which a bunch of loser jihadists slaughtered 132 innocents in Paris to prove the future belongs to them rather…
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Review: Ubiquiti UAP-Pro

As I mentioned previously, I’ve said goodbye to Cisco and so has my partner-in-crime when it comes to all things technical. The only problem is where do you go from there with regards to wireless networking? Around the same time, Ars Technica did a review of the Ubiquiti UAP-AC range of access points. The AC range has two main problems though. Firstly, it’s not available in the UK at the moment. Secondly, it doesn’t yet support zero handoff roaming, which allows you to move between two separate access points without needing to reconnect. Given 802.11ac wasn’t a pressing requirement though,…
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Review: Toshiba Satellite Click Mini

The big thing in computers between 2007 and 2010 was the rise of the Netbook: Small, low powered, low cost computers, running either Linux or Windows. The first Netbooks had a mere 7-inch screen at a stupidly low resolution of 1024×600. Then came 9-inch models, same poor resolution, but a more useful screen. Then came 10 and 11-inch variants. The price also started to rise as more powerful processors and components were installed. Then, just as quickly as they burst onto the scene, the Netbooks fizzled away. Until recently, the smallest you could go was 11-inches, which is a shame…
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SEO, and why it’s stupid

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. Its sole purpose for existing is to push content to the top of Google and the like. Some feel SEO to be a grubby industry, while others have built a living out of it. Some practitioners treat SEO as a religion that must be obeyed. This website makes use of an automated SEO tool to help ensure articles are of a high quality. The picture below shows what the tool displays at the start of the article writing process. The biggest criticism of SEO though is that it prioritises well promoted crap at the…
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Networking 2015: Hello pfSense

Having spoken previously about how I’m done with using Cisco for my networks, I now need a replacement. This has come in the form of pfSense. Given that it doesn’t have the name recognition of a brand like Cisco, perhaps some explanation is necessary. The fundamental element of networking is moving packets of information across physical networks. Once upon a time, this required specialist hardware that could move these packets quickly enough, giving companies such as Cisco their market. Today, commodity hardware is cheap and powerful enough that it can act as a network router. This is where software such…
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Networking 2015: Saying goodbye to Cisco

For the past five years I’ve been in a relationship that I’ve had no business getting involved with. That is, with Cisco networking equipment. Back in 2010, a friend decided to begin learning Cisco and to obtain his CCNA with a view to becoming a network engineer. Because I can’t resist fiddling with technology, I soon picked up enough to build networks, and eventually had built four of them using Cisco routers and switches. Unfortunately, there’s a  few downsides to using Cisco, which I’ll cover below. In part two of the Networking 2015 series, I’ll introduce the technology I’m replacing…
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