Suramya's Blog : Welcome to my crazy life…

March 25, 2021

Fools deleting company data after being fired and how to protect against this threat

Filed under: Computer Security,My Thoughts,Techie Stuff — Suramya @ 4:34 PM

Over the past few years I have seen multiple news articles and stories about idiots who were unhappy with their job or were fired and decided to take revenge by deleting data, accounts or destroying company property. The common factor in all the stories was the fact that the person was subsequently arrested and jailed. The most recent story I saw was this one, where a genius decided to delete 1200 Microsoft Office accounts after being fired and ended up in jail for his troubles.

Destroying company property when you leave is a good way to ensure you are never hired again by any company. I mean if I was interviewing a candidate and I found out that the candidate had deleted critical data when they left the company I would probably never hire them. End of the day if you have demonstrated that you are not mature enough to deal with a loss but rather delete data/information then you are not a fit to work in my team. I know a lot of people will come and say that people should be given a second chance and what not but this is a serious issue. There would be a major lack of trust in play here and with that the person’s efficiency would be horrible and multiple other folks would have to keep monitoring what this person was doing on the servers which is an overhead I wouldn’t need.

So, now looking at this from the company’s side. How do you prevent something like this from happening? The basic step is to ensure that the access rights of the person are terminated as soon as they are let go. Secondly, they should not be allowed to access their system after they are fired. In one of my previous companies, the physical security team would escort a person off-premises without allowing them to log on to their computer or anything. By the time the person was off premises their accounts were already de-activated. They should also be removed from any company related mailing lists, chat rooms, telephone trees etc immediately. Any commonly known account passwords should be changed immediately and if the person had admin access a check should be made for any unauthorized accounts with admin access and for any backdoor’s being installed.

In the case of a threat where the person hasn’t been fired yet you need to have systems in place to perform regular audits of all admin/root activity. There are a lot of other steps that can be taken and out of scope for this blog post. SANS has a great paper on Protecting Against Insider Attacks and RSA has a list of best practices that you can check out as well.

If you need help securing your network/system please reach out and we can discuss in more detail.

– Suramya

March 24, 2021

Doctor Who: 17 years since the show was revived. Some thoughts around it.

Filed under: My Thoughts — Suramya @ 3:46 PM

As per BBC, 17 years ago the greatest show ever was resurrected when Christopher Eccleston was announced as the Ninth Doctor in Doctor Who’s return to the TV screens. I am a big fan of the show and I remember being super excited when the first episode ‘Rose’ was leaked on the web and then watching the full season. It was disappointing when they regenerated to the 10th Doctor but then again Matt Smith was brilliant in the role so there’s that. This was the first time I watched Dr Who as the older Doctor Who episodes were not available widely. I had however, read every single Target adaptation multiple times along with most of the other novelizations.

I recently did a re-watch of the entire series starting with the 9th Doctor as I was feeling nostalgic and I got all the way up to the 11th Doctor’s second season before stopping. I loved the 9th & 10th Doctor but didn’t really like the 11th (Matt Smith) & 12th (Peter Capaldi) at all. Matt was too hyper and Peter was too dour and grumpy all the time for my liking. Though they did have some great companions: Clara Oswald, Amy Pond and Rory Williams and some of the stories were nice. I didn’t like River Song much though, her character was a bit annoying at first and then they made it too meta and confusing.

After I got tired of the 11th Doctor, I stopped the re-watch but then saw a clip about Sarah Jane’s Smith’s introduction to the show. That made me realize that I had never watched all the episodes of the first three doctors. So I started watching the show from the 1st doctor onwards. Though, to be honest I didn’t like the 1st Doctor much as he was too arrogant and rude. Couldn’t watch the 2nd Doctor because most of his episodes were lost when BBC decided to discard/overwrite the tapes with the episode’s. (Thankfully a majority of episodes starting with the 3rd Doctor onwards survived.) So for the past few months I have been watching the 3rd Doctor’s episodes and I really like them. I mean the special effects and the costumes are hilariously bad but the stories are fun to watch.

I still like the 4th Doctor the best from the original series and the 10th from the new one. Overall I would rank them as follows: 10th Doctor (David Tennant), 4th Doctor (Tom Baker), 13th Doctor (Jodie Whittaker), 9th Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) and the 3rd Doctor (Jon Pertwee). The others are ok, but not my favorites. I know a lot of folks don’t like the 13th Doctor because it is played by Jodie but the stories in her arc have been some of the most interesting ones since the 10th Doctor and their acting has been superb. For a lot of the 12th Doctor stories I fast forwarded through them but the stories from the 13th Doctor were so interesting I hardly had to forward through any of them.

Waiting for the next season of the show to be released but till then I have a lot of old Who episodes to finish watching.

Well, this is all for now. Will post more later.

– Suramya

March 20, 2021

Watched Justice League Zack Snyder’s cut

Filed under: My Thoughts — Suramya @ 11:33 PM

The Justice League Snyder’s cut came out earlier this week, I was initially on the fence about watching the movie as I had really disliked the original Justice League, but then the reviews came out and I saw that most people really liked the movie, so I decided to give the movie a shot. When I started watching I wasn’t aware that the new movie was over 4 hours long which is ridiculously long for a movie, even Hindi movies are shorter and usually max out at 3 hours long.

However, in this case the 4 hours was worth it and I loved the movie. It felt more like an extended mini-series than a movie, especially with the chapters in the movie. The new movie made a lot more sense watching it and the scenes flowed into each other rather than stand alone shots that were stuck together for some reason. Each of the characters was given a proper storyline in this version and that made a whole lot of difference in how the movie played out. I still don’t like the Flash in the movies as opposed to the TV series but he was less annoying this time around than the previous version.


Zack Snyder’s Justice League

There are a lot of changes, cut scenes, new scenes in this version and you can check out The 45 biggest differences between ‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’ and the 2017 theatrical version, if you are interested (There are spoilers here. Obviously. )

The one downside of the 4 hour movie was that I couldn’t see the full movie in one sitting. I mean I could have, but I needed to study for my exams so that forced me to take breaks. That also contributed in making the movie seem like an mini-series rather than a feature film.

The epilogue of the movie was a bit confusing, but I feel that might have been setting up the stage for future movies. Let’s see… After this release I can honestly say that I am looking forward to the next iteration in this universe which wasn’t the case so far. I mean Aquaman and the Wonder Woman movies were good, but then we had Wonder Woman 1984 which was pretty bad. So I wasn’t that excited about the next movie in the series, but that has changed a bit after this movie.

– Suramya

March 19, 2021

Growing mouse embryos In a Mechanical Womb

Filed under: My Thoughts — Suramya @ 7:00 AM

Scientists from Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel,have achieved a major milestone in the research on pregnancy and how it works. For the first time, they were able to take fertilized eggs from the oviducts of female mice just after fertilization (Day 0 of development) and had grown them in the artificial uterus for 11 days. The gestation period of mice is 20 days so in human terms it would be about 5 months of pregnancy.

The mouse embryos looked perfectly normal. All their organs were developing as expected, along with their limbs and circulatory and nervous systems. Their tiny hearts were beating at a normal 170 beats per minute.

The major problem the scientists are now facing is how to get enough nutrients to the embryo so that they can survive post the 11 day mark. As by then the embryo has a placenta and a yolk sack, but the nutrient solution that fed them through diffusion is no longer sufficient without a blood supply.

This is a really cool break through, and once the problem of getting nutrients post 11 days is solved we can expect similar experiments with mammal and then human embryo’s. The medical advantages of this technique are vast, it will allow doctors to monitor the fetus for abnormalities and correct them if required. Another advantage would be to allow couples to have a child without having to bear the child naturally which would enable folks with busy lives or those who work in dangerous environments (think armed forces) to have kids without going through a surrogate mother. Transgender couples or same-sex couples will also benefit from this technology as they would be able to have a child which wasn’t physically possible for them before.

Finally, coming to the Sci-Fi angle.. we have long talked about spaceships and it is a common trope that frozen embryo’s are sent into space to populate a distant planet with a limited no of adults to pilot the ship. Having a human gestate all the embryo’s would not be feasible but a mechanical womb would solve this problem and give us a way to travel to the stars. A few days ago I was reading about this push to have a vault established on the moon with frozen sperm and eggs to be used in case of a global catastrophe to repopulate the planet. Till now it would not work without human wombs but if we can get the mechanical womb to work with a reasonable success rate then having a seed vault on the moon suddenly becomes feasible.

Obviously, there is a lot more work required before we are at a stage where humans are born from a mechanical womb but this is an important step in that journey.

Check out the paper published in Nature for more technical details on the achievement.

Thanks to Slashdot.org: Scientists Grow Mouse Embryos In a Mechanical Womb for the initial story.

– Suramya

March 18, 2021

Should you Text before calling someone?

Filed under: My Thoughts — Suramya @ 8:49 AM

I saw this article over on Lifehacker.com, that talked about how You should Text Before Calling someone. According to the article:

That’s why—barring some exceptions—you should try sending a text prior to calling someone on the phone. Even if it seems like an indirect route for getting someone to pay attention, it’ll likely help your relationship with them over the long run.

Nothing screams “I demand you dedicate time to me” like an impromptu phone call. Even in this time of isolation, people are still busy, with a constant stream of digital notifications and Zoom meeting reminders vying for their attention. A phone call insinuates an immediate demand for another person’s time; a text message nudges the ball along just a little bit, using a polite suggestion to talk more when you get the chance.

I thought about this for a while, and for the most part I disagree with this. There are certain scenario’s where I would text someone before calling but those are usually when I know the person is super busy and I need to make sure I am not interrupting anything. (Think calling my manager for a question or someone senior who is very busy). Another scenario when I almost always text before calling is when the other person has a young child. Believe me, you don’t want to be the one who woke up a toddler who finally went to sleep after ages of effort.

Other than that, I just call people when I need to get in touch with them. If they are busy or unable to take a call then they can (and do) reject the call or don’t answer and then I just wait for them to call back. I follow the same pattern for when people call me. One rule that I do follow is that I rarely call people after 8pm unless it is urgent or we agreed to have a call post 8pm. This is because I was taught that it is not nice to disturb people after that time unless it is an emergency. Jani makes fun of me sometimes about this but I still find it hard to call folks after 8. I rarely call them before 10am either, but that is mostly because I am sleeping and don’t wake up before that time ;).

For me Text messages are good when I need an answer that can wait, however if I need to talk to someone I will call them without first prefacing with a text message. That is just wasted effort. I know there are a lot of people who don’t feel the same and maybe it is a generational thing as I see my parents generation and most folks in my age-group calling without texting first. Some of the younger folks I work with have the tendency of only texting, or texting and then calling.

There is no right or wrong way of looking at this, but I personally am comfortable with how I approach it and so far no one has complained about it so I am good :).

What do you think?

– Suramya

March 14, 2021

ACT Fibernet: Very happy with their service and support team

Filed under: My Thoughts — Suramya @ 11:58 PM

In the past I have often posted about bad service or problems I have had with various companies so I thought I should also post about companies when I am happy with their services. This is because not everyone does it and then only the negative news is posted. Today I will talk about ACT Fibernet who I have been using as my primary internet provider for almost 3 years now. I have been very happy with their services and for the most part their network has been stable and I get the speeds that I am supposed to get. (I frequently check this because that wasn’t the case with Airtel).

What really wow’d me and prompted this post is that they frequently upgrade your plan to a faster speed without charging extra and without you asking for it. I got an email recently telling me that my plan had been auto upgraded to a 400Mbps plan with an Unlimited monthly FUP from the existing 300Mbps plan. All I had to do was log out from the portal and log back in (or just restart the router). I did that and immediately I had the faster speed available. This is the second time in the past year that I have been upgraded (last one was from 250Mbps to 300).

Another thing I really like about them is their support (once you get through to them) are perfectly willing to have their technical team call you if you have questions they can’t answer. I recently wanted details about their static IP option and the guy on support didn’t have the answer, within 4 hours I got a call from their technical team who answered all the questions I had and then helped me register a static IP. There have been multiple such cases when I have reached out with technical questions. The same is not the case with my other connection (and I will post about it in another blog post) where I have had people insist to me that the information I am asking for does not exist and they refuse to connect me to their technical team.

One slight quibble I have is that they don’t have a 24×7 support line but other than that things are great and I highly recommend them to others.

– Suramya

March 6, 2021

How Facebook lies in notifications to get you to interact with it

Filed under: My Thoughts — Suramya @ 9:58 PM

As some of you know, I don’t usually check Facebook very often. I recently logged in to FB after a while and while I was browsing, I got a little pop up on the bottom left corner of the screen telling me that someone had shared a photo in a group that I follow 6 mins ago. So I clicked on the pop-up and it took me to the group. There I immediately noticed that the post that Facebook had told me about had actually been made 5 hours ago. I had noticed this in the past in my notifications but never had a pop-up about it before.

This basically shows how much Facebook’s algorithms and UX trick you into engaging more on the site and stay there, by showing a message about a new post 6 mins ago they made me click over to check it out. However, this was posted over 5 hours ago and I might have already seen it. This is not a one time event, looking at my notifications, I see this happening very frequently…


Screen shot of the notification and the actual post. Note the time in each.

Are others seeing this as well? At least with Twitter, I don’t see a message that someone has just tweeted something and then find out that that was sent hours ago. This along with all the other nonsense that Facebook is doing is why I don’t use it very often. I am on it mostly because others are there and they share pics etc from our trips & travels on it. I am planning to do a full download of my entire Facebook account activity so that I have a record of it. I don’t think I will delete my account as of yet, but this is bordering on pushing me into deactivating the account.

– Suramya

February 22, 2021

Should software be “classified” if it is used by government agencies?

Filed under: My Thoughts,Techie Stuff — Suramya @ 10:25 PM

Software should not be classified when used in government agencies except in some very rare exceptional cases. For example, software used to launch nuclear missiles and ensure they hit their targets might be an exception however, these should be an exception rather than the rule in my opinion. The reason I say that is because when a software is classified it means that a limited no of people are using it and that means only a limited no of developers are working on it as any given time. Plus, when something is classified it can not be security tested by external entities without having to sign multiple Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA’s) and other similar hoops whereas regular software is used and tested by lots of people like corporate’s who test the solution before they implement it in their environment. This gives us multiple groups of people testing the software in various ways making it easier to identify security issues making it more secure.

Secondly, making classified versions of existing software doesn’t seem like a good use of resources to me. Why spend extra money creating a classified ‘Word’ when the commercial version (with some modification) would work perfectly well?

Coming to open source, I don’t think government should be prohibited from using Open Source. There are two ways government’s can be blocked from using opensource software. Firstly, the software license might prohibit government use. If this is the case, then the license no longer meets the requirement to be called open source since the Open Source Definition specifies that Open Source licenses may not discriminate against persons or groups. In-fact there was an attempt back in 2006 by GPU which is a Gnutella client to create a license that disallowed the use of their software by the military. It didn’t go anywhere because of strong opposition by the Open Source Initiative (OSI) to calling the license open source. Second, The government might not allow its use due to internal policy: This is primarily because they are worried about one or all of the following: Security, Cost, or licensing.

There is a misconception that opensource software is less secure than commercial software and even though majority of the servers worldwide run on opensource software (Linux, Apache etc) the detractors still persist. In every large company I have worked with so far, whenever I try promoting opensource software this point invariably comes up and I have to spend time explaining why this is not the case.

Another reason why companies might not allow OSS is because of the license the software might be under. If the software is licensed under the GPL they need to be extra careful when using it within their setup because the GPL is what is known as a viral license. It requires the source code of the entire “derived work” – i.e. the combination of GPL code and proprietary code – to be made available under the terms of the GPL publicly. Due to this most companies do not allow software licensed under the GPL to be used inside them. (Libraries licensed under GPL are fine because they don’t trigger the ‘viral’ clause). However, there are other licenses that do not have this clause and can be safely used.

Ultimately, I feel it is better if they use opensource software rather than pay ridiculous amounts of money as software licensing fees.

February 21, 2021

All Your Base Are Belong To Us: Turns 20

Filed under: Humor,My Life,My Thoughts — Suramya @ 12:05 AM

‘All Your Base Are Belong To Us’ is a phrase that is very familiar to anyone who was active on the internet in 2000’s as this was pretty much the first meme which took the entire net by storm. I remember someone posting a giant version of it in our college dorm windows using A4 paper. Unfortunately I don’t have a pic of it, but there were plenty of other places this popped up over the weeks really confusing a lot of people.

The first version showed up online on February 16, 2001 when a robo-voiced music video went live at Newgrounds.com. The video was a capture from a 90’s video game called Zero Wing with some hilariously bad English translation from the original Japanese. It contained phrases like “How are you gentlemen!!”, “Somebody set up us the bomb” and the infamous “All Your Base Are Belong To Us!”. The video presented the original Sega Genesis graphics, dubbed over with monotone, machine-generated speech reading each phrase. The video is shown below, click on play to view the original video with the awesome soundtrack:


All Your Base Are Belong to Us

The transcript of the video is as follows:

Captain: What happen ?
Mechanic: Somebody set up us the bomb.
Operator: We get signal.
Captain: What !
Operator: Main screen turn on.
Captain: It’s you !!
CATS: How are you gentlemen !!
CATS: All your base are belong to us.
CATS: You are on the way to destruction.
Captain: What you say !!
CATS: You have no chance to survive make your time.
CATS: Ha ha ha ha …
Operator: Captain !!
Captain: Take off every ‘ZIG’!!
Captain: You know what you doing.
Captain: Move ‘ZIG’.
Captain: For great justice.

After the original video from the game it moves on to show the phrase photoshopped into all sorts of images and photos from actual locations where it was inserted really confusing most folks because they had no idea what it meant.

It was extremely silly but great fun. Watching it again has really brought back memories of the great times from college. Here’s to the next 20 years, ’cause remember “All Your Base Are Belong To Us!”

– Suramya

January 11, 2021

Do young people not care about privacy because they grew up sharing personal information?

Filed under: My Thoughts,Techie Stuff — Suramya @ 1:03 PM

I don’t agree with statement, though there are many proponents to abolishing privacy online. Unfortunately, over the years we have been trained to give personal information in order to use services online and this is based on the principle that our data has no value and if we have nothing to hide we should be ok to share data online. This is a fallacy.

Having privacy is essential to us as humans because it gives us a judgment free space where we can be ourselves without worrying about what others might think. This allows us to explore unpopular ideas without worry or fear. Plus it is not just people who have unpopular ideas that need privacy. There is a lot of stuff that I wouldn’t want to share with everyone even if it’s nothing illegal or unpopular such as details about my health or personal finances. Privacy doesn’t mean that we don’t want to share information, it just means that I get to choose who has access to data about me.

In certain scenarios privacy helps protect us physically from stalkers or people who mean us harm, think fanatic fans or people fleeing an abusive relationship. Such people would not want their physical location broadcast to the world. There was a case a few months ago where a fan used a photo published by a star to locate her apartment and assaulted her at her apartment. This was a breach of privacy of the star and caused major distress to her. Now imagine if we could immediately find where anyone in the world is located at a given time, this will allow us to determine so much other data about that person such as their health information (if they are visiting a cardiac doctor every week, there is a high probability they are suffering from a hear problem). A few years ago Uber analyzed data from the rides people were taking using it’s service and used that to figure out who was having an affair with whom based on the rides they took and the location they were dropped. It was quite a scandal when it came out and now imagine someone taking this information and blackmailing people.

With the amount of information that we are giving to websites and companies both voluntarily and involuntarily privacy is becoming harder to maintain but that doesn’t mean that we give up and let companies do whatever they want with our data. If we do that then be prepared to have every aspect of your life dissected and analyzed for profit.

Too many people state that they have nothing to hide and have no problems with having their information public. I challenge them to stay in a house completely made of glass (including the bathrooms) and have a bot that publishes all emails/messages/transcripts from their calls publicly. I can bet there won’t be any takers. as everyone has something they wouldn’t want to be public knowledge.

– Suramya

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