Tag Archives: Lucent Technologies

Protecting Your New Smartphone and Yourself

canstockphoto20668245Christmas is over and you got a new smartphone from Santa. This little device can become a vital part of your life. Today’s smartphones can hold vast amounts of data including credit card data and personal information. Protecting your phone means protecting yourself.

As you get to know your new gadget you need to learn when it is misbehaving. There are definitely signs when something is wrong and you need to spot them early. For example any app you download could be a hiding place for malware. Opening an attachment or visiting the wrong website could result in downloading an app that attacks your smartphone and even take control of it.

You should be especially cautious if you have a Android device. According to Forbes.com 97 percent of mobile malware is on Android. Much of the malware comes from unregulated apps. So stick to the Google PlayStore if you are smart. 

But if you have an Apple iPhone or other smartphone better be alert because they are not immune by any means.

According to Alcatel-Lucent’s Motive Security Labs more than 16 million mobile devices were hit by malware last yearZDNet  also reported an increase of 25 percent over 2013 infection. 

So how can you tell if you new smartphone is compromised or infected with malware? Here are the clues.

  1. Strange behavior – One of the first clues that something is wrong is that the phone or apps begin to act strangely.  You phone or the apps may cease working or the phone may crash.  This could indicate that some malicious code on your device is interfering with its normal operation. Sometimes an app may appear suddenly and without you doing anything. This could come from a suspect website. Make sure you know what apps are installed on your phone so you can quickly identify the intruder. Whenever you install an app make sure you carefully examine what permissions the app wants. An app that asks for administrators privileges can be difficult or impossible to uninstall. Use caution and delete any app you do not use. Deny any app that asks you to install it if you don’t know what it is or where it came from.
  2. Mysterious  calls or messages – Get in the habit of checking your call and message history regularly. Malware infections will try to make calls or send messages to expensive international numbers. If this happens you will get the bill and its hard to argue your way out of paying.
  3. Data hogging – Malicious apps will use up your allotted data to communicate with computers operated by cyber criminals. These cyber criminals are sending orders and updates to the malware. And the malware is sending stolen information back to the cybercriminals. Make sure you watch your data usage. If something is eating your data you need to act.
  4. Strange messages – Many cyber criminals use text messages to control malware. These messages can be interpreted by the malware to carry out tasks on your device. Sometimes the malware  is programmed to manipulate message logs to delete the message before you get suspicious. But some crooks don’t bother to program in this function resulting in strange messages appearing in your history. If your friend’s phone is infected you may see a strange message from them and vice versa. Be alert to strange text messages that don’t make sense or are completely unintelligible. Be alert if you get a strange message from a contact. This could mean they have become infected and it could spread to your phone. Be a friend and let them know.
  5. Watch your billExcessive text messages or data usage could cost you money. Examine your bill closely to detect suspicious charges quickly.

Be aware that a lot of malware can get into official app stores.  This malware can, and does, steal credit card data.  African-Americans do a lot banking and other financially related activities through our phones. If you regularly make payments or shop using your smartphone you should monitor your credit card bill and bank accounts for suspicious charges.

Prevention is key.

To enjoy and make the best and safest use of your new smartphone act to prevent an infection rather than trying to recover from a malware infection.

  • Keep your device’s operating system and apps updated.
  • Back up all important data on the device.
  • Use an anti malware and keep it up to date.
  • Buy or download your apps only from official stores. The possibility of downloading malware is lower but not impossible.
  • Use a screen lock. Make sure your code is at least six numbers. A pattern may be easy to guess and less secure than a PIN, and that a password is your best option.
  • Encrypt the content on your device.
  • Avoid rooting or jail breaking your smartphone.

Emmitt McHenry, Inventor of the .com

Emmitt McHerny

Emmitt McHerny

On Sunday March 15th the .com Internet domain name system turned 30 years old. Emmitt McHenry, a black man, gave us the .com system we use today.

Before anyone ever heard of the Internet it was a simple government cold war project. The original purpose of the Internet was to create a communications network that could survive a nuclear attack.

In 1979, McHenry and his associates launched Network Solutions an engineering company. But, like many black owned companies, they could not secure financing. McHenry and his partners mortgaged their properties and maxed out their credit cards. The company managed to thrive. But the jewel in the Network Solutions crown was a contract with the National Science Foundation. The contract was for the U.S. government’s first domain name addressing system for the Internet.

McHenry created a complex computer code that allows ordinary people to surf the web and receive e-mails without having to study computer science. We know McHenry’s invention today as .com.

McHenry’s work appeared to pay off on Dec. 31, 1992. Network Solutions was the only bidder on a National Science Foundation grant to further develop the domain name registration service for the Internet. Network Solutions was granted an exclusive contract to be the sole domain name registrar for .com, .net and .org.  These are top level domain (TLD) names that were a continuation of the work Network Solutions was already doing. 

network_solutions_logo_2632In addition Network Solutions also maintained WHOIS . The central database of assigned names. Network Solutions was awarded the $1 million a year contract to manage the domain names registration service for the Internet. It turned out to be both a blessing and a curse.

A black owned company was the only company authorized to develop and issue Internet web addresses. Network Solution developed .com, .net, .edu, and .gov.

Al White, a friend of McHenry’s who was hired as to head up corporate marketing said, ““You have to understand,” explains White. “We had no competitors for the bid. Not AT&T.  No one.  No one really knew what this Internet thing was, so it was not on anyone’s radar.  And had it not been for the head of the NSF at that time, it would not have been on ours either.”

Besides the domain names Network Solutions was dealing with other sensitive government engineering projects. As the Internet began to explode McHenry realized the company needed to  grow. His problem was the $1 million a year government contract was proving to be a burdensome yoke. No matter how many .com names his company registered they could not raise the price.

Demand for domain names continued to explode and Network Solutions grew to 400 employees. McHenry applied to the government to charge directly for the domain names. The government refused and continued to pay the company $1 million a year regardless of how many names it registered.

“Slowly some people began to understand or at least be curious about the Internet,  and we started to get more and more requests for the domain names,” said White.  White pointed out the expensive task of building the technical infrastructure to handle such an emerging industry was costly to create, to say the least.  “We had no income producing model for this,” White explains.  “The agency (NSF) would not let us charge for issuing the names.  That was part of the deal, and we had no idea the thing would move the way it did.  When you hear it now it seems crazy but, yes, we actually gave away all those domains for free.  Had to.”

For help McHenry approached wealthy African-American’s for investment capital but was refused. McHenry tried financial institutions and Wall Street. Again he was turned down. McHenry got some help from a white fellow engineer but it simply was not enough. McHenry was being squeezed. The demand for domain names continued to explode while the government insisted if he could not keep up they would void the contract.

The financial squeeze came to a head in 1995 when McHenry sold Network Solutions to Science Applications International Corp (SAIC) for $4.8 million. Suddenly, within months, the government gave SAIC the rights to charge $70.00 per year for each domain name. In addition the company received a royalty on any other created domain names. This was the exact same request McHenry made of the government.

Literally millions of people and companies were requesting domain names. As a result a bidding war started for SAIC which was swimming in cash. The big winner was a company called VeriSign Inc. Within a year SAIC turned its $4.8 million purchase of Network Solutions into a $21 billion windfall.

Today Emmit McHenry is founder and CEO of NetCom Solutions International, Inc. a telecommunications, engineering, consulting, and technical services company. The company has received awards from IBM, NASA and Lucent Technologies. It has revenues of $260 million and over 200 employees in Chantilly, Virginia and Oklahoma City. 

McHenry is not bitter about his .com experience. “We misjudged the fact that demand would drive the telecom infrastructure,” says McHenry. “But I don’t regret anything. We spent a lot of time being engineering purists and we didn’t focus on the capitalist potential.” Still, McHenry insists, “a man should never regret selling at a profit.”

Earl Brotten, a close friend of McHenry who also works at NetCom Solutions, has heard McHenry whisper; “I coulda been a billionaire.”

Now you know