Technology info

Over-the-phone AppleID resets, suspended

Over-the-phone AppleID resets, suspended

After the incident last week where former Gizmodo employee Mat Honan’s Twitter, GMail, Apple accounts were compromised along with his Mac and iPhone being remotely wiped, Apple has taken a step to silence the criticism.

An anonymous Apple employee acknowledged the existence of such a suspension, and has suggested that this most definitely will be a small look into tighter customer verification that Apple is looking into deploying across their services.

On Tuesday, Amazon had also made it more

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Computer Startup Time – Current Problems, Future Advancements, and Solutions You Can Consider For Now


Computer Startup Time – Current Problems, Future Advancements, and Solutions You Can Consider For Now
By Neon Zidane[email protected]

Please report any errors or suggestions for improvement. Thank you!


Table of Contents

Introduction – Booting Process

Current Startup Issues

Future Innovations and Advancements

What You Can Do For Now

End Notes and Conclusion

Introduction – Booting Process

First of all let’s familiarize ourselves with how the computer boots up. It’s a very simple to understand process. When you first press out the power button, the computer goes through an initialization process. Firstly, it’s important to check if a CPU is present and functional. If there is an error related to the CPU, depending on your motherboard model, it your motherboard might make a beeping sound, flash the power light, start to smoke, or burst into flames (no biggie ;-) ). Usually, after this, if you have a multiple CPU configuration system, one CPU (CPU 0) is selected to run the BIOS and initialize the kernel (a central component of your operating system which will “turn on” the remaining CPUs). At startup, a CPU can only address 1MB of memory, but some Intel processors have a special configuration where they use the last 16 bytes of the memory.

Then the computer starts executing the BIOS code, and starts checking for present hardware (Power on self test). Usually when there is a hardware error, it will display a message on the screen and make a beeping sound. Most motherboards make a beeping sound because if your video card turns out to be not functional, how else can they convey the message to you? Many of the modern (post 1996) BIOSs can use Advanced Power Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) to list devices the computer has, and then the kernel uses this information.

After the POST, the BIOS wants to find an operating system to boot. It will search through a list of devices in a user-configurable order (CD, Hard Drive, Floppy, USB flash drives, memory cards, etc.) otherwise it will present you an error that says “Non System Disk or Disk Error” which could indicate that the disk could not be boot from. This could mean the disk is not functioning (broken hard drive, scratched/bad CD, etc.) or a configuration error you have made. If a bootable device is found though, the BIOS will read sector 0, the first 512 byte sector of the disk (remember that sector n-1 is the last sector of the hard drive where n is the total amount of sectors on the drive). Important data is in there: a boot sector. It also contains a partition table, 64 bytes – 16 bytes per partition (That’s why you can’t create more than 4 partitions on a hard drive, you will have to use a logical partition).

Since the boot sector is so small (460 bytes of usable space), it will either 1) launch another boot sector, 2) launch a second stage boot loader (could be DOS loader, NTLDR, BCD, GRUB, Lilo, maybe some strange virus you got off some website you shouldn’t be visiting anyways, etc.), or 3) Directly launch the kernel and start the operating system. Either way, if configured correctly, your computer will be told where an operating system is located and a file that will start the kernel. Your operating system splash screen will appear and in a few moments you are ready to use your computer system!

Current Startup Issues

How many things can you do in the time it takes your computer to start up? This means from turning on, operating system loading, then to a point where everything is ready, and you’re ready to start your favourite application (If your login is password protected, don’t count that!). Make a coffee? Make your entire breakfast? Go to school/work and then come home to find out your computer has FINALLY started up? Computers, unlike some other electronics, aren’t in a ready state the moment you turn them on. For example, a television would be ready within a few seconds of you turning it on, a phone would be ready the instant you turn it on. Even your CD player, DVD player, or Blu-ray player would be almost instantly ready when you turn it on. Usually you’re only waiting for it to spin up the disc.

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WPA encryption hacked in under a minute!

Computer scientists in Japan say they’ve developed a way to break the WPA encryption system used in wireless routers in about one minute.

The attack gives hackers a way to read encrypted traffic sent between computers and certain types of routers that use the WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) encryption system. The attack was developed by Toshihiro Ohigashi of Hiroshima University and Masakatu Morii of Kobe University, who plan to discuss further details at a technical conference set for Sept. 25 in Hiroshima. Last November, security researchers first showed how WPA could be broken, but the Japanese researchers have taken the attack to a new level, according to Dragos Ruiu, organizer of the PacSec security conference where the first WPA hack was demonstrated. “They took this stuff which was fairly theoretical and they’ve made it much more practical,” he said.

The Japanese researchers discuss their attack in a paper presented at the Joint Workshop on Information Security, held in Kaohsiung, Taiwan earlier this month.
The earlier attack, developed by researchers Martin Beck and Erik Tews, worked on a smaller range of WPA devices and took between 12 and 15 minutes to work. Both attacks work only on WPA systems that use the Temporal Key Integrity Protocol (TKIP) algorithm. They do not work on newer WPA 2 devices or on WPA systems that use the stronger Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) algorithm.

The encryption systems used by wireless routers have a long history of security problems. The Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) system, introduced in 1997, was cracked just a few years later and is now considered to be completely insecure by security experts. WPA with TKIP “was developed as kind of an interim encryption method as Wi-Fi security was evolving several years ago,” said Kelly Davis-Felner, marketing director with the Wi-Fi Alliance, the industry group that certifies Wi-Fi devices. People should now use WPA 2, she said. Wi-Fi-certified products have had to support WPA 2 since March 2006. “There’s certainly a decent amount of WPA with TKIP out in the installed base today, but a better alternative has been out for a long time,” Davis-Felner said.

Enterprise Wi-Fi networks typically include security software that would detect the type of man-in-the-middle attack described by the Japanese researchers, said Robert Graham, CEO of Errata Security. But the development of the first really practical attack against WPA should give people a reason to dump WPA with TKIP, he said. “It’s not as bad as WEP, but it’s also certainly bad.”
Users can change from TKIP to AES encryption using the administrative interface on many WPA routers.

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