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Thoughts From Abbott’s Inbox February 19th, 2021

Thoughts From My Inbox
February 19th, 2021

Apple, Gritters, and Man’s Best Friend

I hope you’ve had a great week and are enjoying the snowy weather.  I know I am! This week we have news from North Korea, Scotland, and Canada… I guess I need to start publishing an ‘international edition’ of Thoughts From My Inbox.  Starting out with some humor, because I really need it.  Enjoy.


Something About…



I found out this week that snowplows in Scotland are called ‘gritters’ (they spread grit, sand, or salt), and that the Scots actually name these vehicles.  Some are named after famous Scotsmen (Sir Salter Scott, Sir Andy Flurry, and Robert Brrrns), others after musical acts (Sled Zeppelin, Gritney Spears, Spready Mercury), and others after Star Wars characters (Snowbegone Kenobi and Darth Spreader).  For more names and news on Scottish gritters, click here, here, and here.



Windows 7

In case you missed it (and I know a few of you did), Windows 7 reached End of Life (it’s no longer supported by Microsoft) status on January 14th.  Of 2020.  Over a year ago. But many (including the water treatment plant in Florida that was hacked a week back) are still using this outdated operating system, which leads to huge security concerns. The FBI has now published a warning to companies regarding outdated systems.



IRS Scams

It’s that time of year again…. Tax time.  And that means that the scammers are out with their IRS phishing attacks, looking to get your tax ID numbers and file returns using your personal information.  In this case, emails have a subject line “verifying your EFIN before e-filing”.  In past years, we’ve seen instances of company admins received spoofed emails from their CEOs, asking for a list of all employees’ SSNs and personal info.  It’s safe to say that you should always confirm when somebody asks you via email for personally identifiable information.



Online Fraud

Have you been a victim of online fraud, whether through phishing, fake technology warnings, or otherwise?  If so, you’re a member of a growing club.  If it does happen to you, you might have some recourse, depending on how you paid for whatever you purchased.



Hacking Apple

Want to learn how a cybersecurity researcher hacked Apple and Microsoft (don’t worry, it was under the guises of a ‘bug-bounty’ program)?  I thought this might be an interesting piece, but then I started reading it. And then my eyes went glassy and crossed. If you’re very technically adept, you might enjoy this.  Otherwise, move on.



Morse Code

Hackers have figured out how to use Morse Code to get their phishing attacks past email security solutions.  Because they have a lot of time on their hands.




It seems that a group of hockey players in Edmonton, Alberta have just completed the longest hockey game, ever.  40 people took turns playing for 24 hours a day over the course of 11 days, beginning on February 4th, all to raise money for cancer research.  The best part is they did it the old fashioned way- outdoors! (Sidenote; If you’re curious, those sweaters the players wore for this game are reminiscent of those worn by Team Canada for multiple Canada Cup tournaments, from 1976-1991.

And since we’re on the topic, I’d be remiss if I didn’t bring up the fact that it will be 41 years this coming Monday since the Miracle on Ice. As I always do, I’ll watch the movie Miracle and remember it like it was yesterday. If you’re not familiar, here’s the last minute of the game between the USA and Russia.



North Korean Hackers

The US Department of Justice has charged three North Koreans for multiple cyber attacks, including the 2014 Sony data breach. There are 45 different criminal acts in all, and it’s pretty interesting to see how many different attacks they were able to perpetrate. In addition to the post, there’s a link to a Sophos security paper and checklist for protecting your network.


Last week, David Loomis was the first recipient of Ashton swag for his inbox submission.  This week it’s our own Tom Evans.  He retired from Ashton a few years back, but still keeps us in the loop on all things security, while also teaching our security awareness training classes.  Thanks for this week’s info, Tom!




This week’s edition is dedicated to my buddy Hobbes, who we lost yesterday, exactly five years to the day that we lost his big brother Giesler.  He was a counter suffer extraordinaire and a retriever to the core.  His favorite task (taught to him by his big brother) was fetching the paper from the end of the driveway every morning.  When we moved to a house with a paper box, he learned to pull it from there.  And on those days we didn’t have a paper, he’d just go to the neighbor’s paper box and bring me theirs. His hind quarters had begun to fail him, and I’d like to think it was due to the fact that he’d put 15 years of swimming, chasing deer and squirrels, and other fun into his 10 years on earth. We’ll miss him a lot and our house is already too quiet without him.


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