Tag Archives: Internet

I create a super simple set of tools to secure your Ubuntu server

And you can get it here: blm849/supersimplehardening: A super simple way to harden your server.

I create a lot of Ubuntu test servers, and I find that as soon as I create a Ubuntu server on a cloud environment, it gets immediately attacked by automated software. This is obviously a concern. A bigger concern is that when I went  searching for recommendations on how to harden such a server, I found  a wide variety of recommendations! It can be hard to know what to do. Still, I needed something. As a result, I created this package of scripts. The scripts do a number of things:

  • prevent direct root login to your server via ssh. This was one of the things I saw consistently happen and once someone cracks the root access on your machine, it’s game over.
  • stop some basic security holes, like IP spoofing
  • download some useful software, like logwatch, ufw and others
  • upgrade all software on the server

This is just a very very limited number of things to prevent attacks. But it is better than nothing.

If you install Apache, PHP, MySQL or other software on your machine, there are even more attacks that will be launched against it. I recommend you get a firewall up and running and at least run logwatch on a regular basis to look for potential attacks being launched against you.

Finally, if it is important for you to secure your server, don’t stop with my scripts. Go out and consult with IT security specialists right away.

Good luck!


Want to send a fax without a fax machine? Now you can!

How? By using: Free Fax • Free Internet Faxing. I haven’t used it, but you can send free faxes to anywhere in the U.S. and Canada, apparently.

If you are dealing with organizations that refuse email as a valid way to receive information and insist on a fax, this could save your day.


The timeline of the World Wide Web

If you are going to talk about the Web or the Internet, it pays to know the history of it. The people at Pew put together the key dates and events of the World Wide Web here: Web History Timeline | Pew Research Center. Of course the history of the Internet is even older.

A very useful thing to consult whenever you read some think piece on “The Internet used to be X or Y”.

That story during the Paris attacks recently about a man named Zouheir, a Muslim, who saved thousands of lives? It’s mostly false.

As Snopes.com says:

An uplifting social media rumor about the purportedly heroic actions of a security guard named Zouheir during the Paris attacks was largely inaccurate.

For the details, see Zouheir: The MUSLIM Who Saved Thousands of Lives? : snopes.com.

More and more, whenever I see something viral, I check Snopes.com.

Why aren’t we becoming more productive with all this new technology?

Vox raises that question here: All this digital technology isn’t making us more productive – Vox, and it implies that because people are slacking off on the Internet. I think that is incorrect, and here’s why.

The chart that Vox piece has shows big producitivity gains from 1998-2003 and smaller gains after that.

From 1998-2003 was the peak adoption of the Internet by companies. In the early 1990s, companies started to adopt email. In the later 1990s companies started adopting the Web. To me it is not surprising that companies would become more productive and they shifted away from snail mail and faxes to email. And then companies shifted further and started offering services over the Web, I imagine they became much more productive.

Slacking off on the Internet has been a problem since the Web came along. I know, because I used to monitor web server traffic.  I don’t think that is the issue.

I think it is more likely that companies grabbed the big productivity gains from the Internet at the beginning, and then those gains slowed down after.

So what about smartphones? Have they made people more productive? I think they have, but I also think that the gains in being able to access information remotely may have been overtaken by the sheer amount of information to deal with. Being able to deal with email remotely makes you productive. Having to deal with way more email than you ever had to in the 1990s because now everyone has it makes you unproductive.

Furthermore, many of the features on smartphones are aimed at personal use, not professional use. I think smartphones make us more productive personally,  but less so professionall.y


In 1996, James Fallows wrote about Microsoft, the Internet, and even something called Java

I remember all this, but for those of you who feel like the Web has always been with us, it’s worthwhile reading his piece, The Java Theory in The Atlantic.

He didn’t know it at the time, but everything was about to change. I enjoyed reading it, first with hindsight, and then reading it while imagining/remembering what it was like then.


ifttt 101. Yes, you need to take this course. It will change your life.

Of all the things on the Internet, ifttt is one of my favorites. It could be yours too. Simply, it is a way to take two of your favorite things on the Internet and combine them into something even better.

First, to learn more about it, go here: How to Supercharge All Your Favorite Webapps with ifttt.

Second, once you read that, go to the site and browse the recipes. Or try and create your own: it isn’t hard.

I especially encourage it for anyone trying to update several forms of social media at the same time. You can link Facebook, Instagram, WordPress, Tumblr, Google, Blogger…you name it. With some practice, you will find recipes that help you keep all your social media in sync and working automatically.

I also encourage people who are interested in the Internet of Things. Or people who want to supercharge their phone. Or…well, just browse the recipes and you’ll likely see one that makes things easier for you.