Firewalla is a simple but effective way to take control of your home network


I'm not the kind of person who possesses the programming or IT knowledge to run my own servers and host my own email. But I can manipulate some things on the internet or on local networks, like how to access the gateway to your router and make some changes in there, even if I don't fully grasp the differences between the ports. I'm also someone who's hyper-attuned to data privacy issues who still enjoys the conveniences of some smart home technology.

And that's why I've really been enjoying my Firewalla, a small piece of hardware that you plug into your router to access an app that gives me clear visual command over my network. It's basically a Firewall, VPN, adblocker, and intrusion detection and prevention system all rolled into one. Here's how the company describes it:

Firewalla is a smart firewall device that you simply plug into your router. It monitors network traffic and alerts you via an app if one of your devices starts uploading data including who the data is being shared with and what country. There is an option to stop devices from sending data, which could stop their operations as well, but step one is having transparency and knowledge. Firewalla will also block hackers and cyber thieves from being able to breach smart home devices to steal person information.

I've always felt pretty confident that I'd securely setup my home network. But there's still that lingering concern that someone may have found their way in to spy on me somehow. Read the rest

This Welsh password generator might keep you safe from hackers, but definitely from dragons

Inspired by XKCD's classic diceware strip, a programmer named Alice created an open-source algorithm to randomly generate secure passphrases in Welsh. As difficult as it would be for any human or computer to figure out a nonsense phrase like, "correct horse battery staple," it would be even more difficult to guess, "stwffwl batri ceffyl cywir," especially when there are only about 700,000 Welsh speakers to begin with.

While I'm no cryptologist, I did run a few of the passwords through and and they seemed to work out all right. According to those sites, it would take 11 quattuordecillion years or 1 trillion trillion trillion years for a computer to crack "DrefnasidRhyd-y-meirchSefydlogiad6*." Similarly, "GlaeruchdyrauGymreigeiddiaiBarcdir0**" would take 429 tredecillion years, or 94 billion trillion trillion years, respectively.

However, as Alice the programmer warns: "It's probably not a good idea to actually use this, since the wordlist is freely available along with the algorithm being used."

So it might not stop a really clever hacker from getting into your email. But it will almost certainly stop a mythic Welsh dragon from stealing your identity. Probably. I'm assuming their claws are pretty clumsy on the keyboard.

Welsh Password Generator []

Image via Lewis Ogden/Flickr (altered)

*Google Translate tells me this means, "The ford of the horses was arranged." I don't know that I trust it—Google Translate is famously sloppy with the grammar of some Celtic languages—but it certainly sounds epic.

**Similarly, this became "Parkland was a Welsh occupation" which sounds like something you would hear on the Breton version of InfoWars. Read the rest

Arizona realtor surprised to find Canadian "white hat" hacker talking to him through his smart doorbell

Arizona realtor Andy Gregg's Nest doorbell/camera started talking to him: the voice on the other end identified itself as a Canadian "white hat" security researcher who'd broken into his camera by using a password that Gregg had used on multiple services, including some that had been breached. The hacker warned him that he was vulnerable and told him to tighten up his security before a bad guy got into his doorbell. Read the rest