Author Archives: thompsonbe

About thompsonbe

I am a freshman commuter going to Robert Morris university for cyber forensics and information security.

Apple Admits iCloud is really Google Cloud

Student Editorial

Apple has been very inventive, creating its own way of doing things, and therefore made themselves capable of saying “our way is better.”  The frequent debate of Apple and Android comes from Apple’s exclusivity and notoriety of iMessage, FaceTime, and Apple Music.

Now, Apple has expressed that it uses Google cloud, much like Android uses Google Cloud.  If there are any concerns about this being unsafe, it is important to know that Google Cloud services that are being used by Apple only store the encrypted version of your saved files; Apple uses AES-128 and a key derived from each file chunk’s contents, utilizing SHA-256.  While AES can be deemed insecure by many, it in combination with SHA-256 adds decent security.  It is after that that they are saved onto a Google Cloud Platform.

This may not affect Apple as much as this agreement has affected Google; this has given their cloud services a major boost in use in comparison to its Amazon and Microsoft Cloud competition.

Need more Proof?  The iOS Security Guide is frequently updated, and has recently confirmed use of Google Cloud for iCloud services.




Q&A: Bitcoin: An Interview with Alex Landefeld

This article is an interview that I had conducted when I had realized that my coworker – Mr. Landefeld – had investments in Bitcoin, had cryptocurrency apps on his phone, his own mining setup at home, and was also familiar with a vast range of cryptocurrency.  The answers below are an exact transcript of his answers.

1.) What’s your profession? What are your credentials in the field of technology?

I work as the Information Technology Specialist at North Hills Community Outreach, Allison Park, PA (, supporting the network of Windows 2012 servers, Windows 10 and Windows 7 PCs, phones, printers, licensing, etc. I have worked in IT for nearly 20 years. Outside of work, I play with Windows, Mac OSX, and Linux PC’s, and co-founded the Western Pa Linux Users Group ( in September 1997.

2.) How long have you been familiar with crypto currency?

I have been familiar with crypto currency for just the past five months.

3.) When did you first hear about “bitcoin”?

I first heard of Bitcoin probably in 2012 or 2013, but hadn’t know about the Altcoin universe until recently.

4.) You own a (piece) bitcoin, why? How? Do you still feel it was a good investment?

I do own some Bitcoin, probably 1/10 of a Bitcoin. I use Bitcoin as a jumping-off point, for converting fiat currency to crypto currency, and then move off to invest in Altcoins, as I feel Altcoins will have a better chance for greater appreciation.

5.) You had shown me a few apps that showed other forms of crypto currency aside from bitcoin. Approximately how many others are in existence? Are you invested in any others? Why do you think bitcoin is the most popular and most heard of?

Bitcoin is the original crypto currency and therefore most popular, but as people develop more use cases for other crypto currencies, others may usurp that top spot, just as Microsoft supplanted IBM as the top computer company, Walmart replaced small retailers, and Apple (and Android phone variants) took over the mobile phone market. lists 1324 cryptocurrencies, and this is not exhaustive as more are (a) created daily, and (b) many are created within other coin systems, such as Ethereum ERC20 coins, Wave derivative coins, and Bitshares derivative coins. I am currently invested in 22 Altcoins, in addition to a small investment in Bitcoin. Some are not doing well at all, and some have outstripped the investment return of Bitcoin by 1000%. Right now, crypto currency’s use is as a speculative investment vehicle…but little by little they will fill other uses.

6.) You said that you have mining set up on your computer at home: how? What application do you use?

I am in the very early stages of playing with mining – I downloaded uncompiled code from Github for doing “CPU” mining of the coin Aeon (a derivative of Monero), and compiled the code on a Bodhi Linux PC. I then ran the resulting mining app and the related wallet for about two weeks, tweaking the processor use, and testing the Linux implementation on other PC’s with more powerful processors. I did not get further in Virtualbox, will still have to play with that, but may first try to build a GPU mining rig for further experimentation.

7.) If anyone asks you how mining helps update the ledgers, how would you best explain?

I’m still a crypto neophyte, but would have to say that from my limited understanding that mining is using a computer to “guess” the right answer to a mathematical puzzle that needs to be solved to create new coin, and also verify the global network of transactions, keeping the crypto currency decentralized.

8.) What is your personal opinion about bitcoin and blockchain security?

Bitcoin and Blockchain are only as secure as the PC/server they run on, so all the more reason to employ endpoint protection virus and malware software, as well as robust firewall or network security. Hacking of one’s network is serious business, both for the hacker and the hacked.

9.) Do you believe we will hit a point where no one has physical currency?

That’s a very difficult question to answer. Just as oil and coal will continue to find utility in an increasingly solar/wind/hydro world, fiat currencies and other investable assets will continue to be useful for the foreseeable future. Cryptocurrency represents a very small fraction of all existing other asset classes, and while it will grow quickly, with growth comes regulation, thereby checking the growth.

10.) Bitcoin creates a decentralized form of currency; do you see this as an advantage or a disadvantage to bitcoin acceptance?

Just as the IoT is incredibly important going forward, decentralization of a means of transaction is very valuable. Not allowing countries to control transaction certainly zaps the ability for governments to collect tax revenue, but the internet needs a relatively tax-free form of transactional wealth to facilitate greater usage, to bring computing power to the large portion of global citizens who don’t have banks, communications, or computing access.

11.) What additional information do you think may be important for the future of CIS at RMU to know about Bitcoin?

Blockchain itself will become the key technology, as people branch out from crypto currencies. Just as the original DARPA Net, set up for a few universities to communicate across, is now the medium for billions of cat photos per day, commercial uses for blockchain will blossom out to service uses for which we cannot even understand today. No one expected cat pictures to cripple the Ethereum blockchain, and yet right now Cryptokitties accounts for some 15-25% of Ethereum blockchain use…versus the 10% use of crypto trading via the decentralized exchange,

Recommended videos by interviewee:


Summer IT Internship w/ Fedex

In need of an IT internship just for the summer?  This 10-week internship is designed to allow for students pursuing computer-related degrees to be a part of FedEx in a way that will be tailored to their specific major.

Requirements for the job:

  • High school graduate or equivalent
  • 2+ years towards degree in computer science, computer engineering, or other related major.

Job Details:

  • Summer 2018
  • 10-week
  • $15-23/hour
  • in Coraopolis

How to Apply:

  • Apply as soon as possible
  • Interviews occur October – January
  • Offers are extended from October -February
  • Go to FedEx Careers site
  • Use Keyword: Intern Information Technology
  • Location – Coraopolis, Pennsylvania
  • Resume should include:
    • University
    • Degree
    • Major and/or minor
    • GPA, GPA overall
    • Major GPA
    • Graduation date




Developer Position for rebdev, LLC

Are you interested in the creation of tech software? If yes, then this developer job may be for you!  You would be creating and modifying computer application software/specialized utility programs.


  • analyze user needs
  • develop software solutions based on needs
  • work with project manager/owner
  • recommend upgrades to software to better operational efficiency
  • create flowcharts, user guides, etc.
  • perform routine maintenance of software


  • interest in ERP software solutions and  its implementation
  • Bachelor’s degree in MIS, Accounting, or another related field.
  • Software development experience as well as computer engineering.
  • Programming experience
  • able to use word processing, spreadsheets, project management and presentation software
  • database programming skills
  • Deadline-oriented
  • detail-oriented – will need to document all procedures
  • critical thinking skills
  • Willing to travel as part of employment.


  • 3 openings
  • In Moon township
  • Full-time entry level
  • Expires March 31st of 2018. 

Apply with an email cover letter and resume to

Washington DC 10-day Seminar Information

Washington DC trip informational meeting:

  • Title: National Security (just like first four years until they did cyber last year)
  • May 13-24
  • 2018 Topics:
    • North Korea testing
    • Cyber threats
    • US election tampering
    • Terrorism/Cyber-terrorism
    • Environmental issues
    • “Spy that Couldn’t Spell”
      • gentlemen was employee given a bad review
      • wrote about why he shouldn’t have been reviewed poorly,
      • when he started selling U.S. secrets, cyber teams used his writing patterns from that letter to catch him.
    • Much more
  • Different students from different universities – there will be many variations in knowledge and background
    • EX: some political science students will know areas better than us
    • EX: many non-CIS majors may not understand bitcoin.
  • Morning: sessions.
  • Afternoon: open session.

Living situation/attire:


  • Not allowed to go anywhere without a friend
  • 2 bed 2 bath living room, 2 RMU kids and 2 other university kids
  • Political views can get tough: keep them to yourself to prevent conflict with other roommates
  • You will be buying toilet paper, cleaning your own place
  • Bringing your own sheets
  • Washer and dryer will be provided in each room
  • Full kitchen

Business professional wear:

  • Long hair must be in pony tail or bun.
  • NO: bright colors, or cleavage

Requirements while there:

  • When you have a question- wait until the end, go up, state name, University and then state your question, and then listen while still up there.
  • Everybody must ask 4 questions.  Plan them.
  • No phones or laptops during sessions.
  • Notebook and pen to take notes for daily journal during the morning.  Then whole evening to do whatever.
  • Required to pick a topic and write a 5 page paper on it.
  • 2 pages of writing a day


  • Costs: $2295 for the 10 days. 
  • Petition for busses.
  • if using as a school credit, place under INFS4953 as an open elective or area of interest.  (best to move things up to area of interest that relate to each other)
  • GI bill: register to spring with the fee attached (if eligible).
  • Spring course: Do that NOW.  Attaches fee to that course, but if you don’t have extra money you will have to pay now. Flat rate will pay for it only left paying the seminar fee.  Make sure that you specify for Spring that you are the Washington Center is to Bill the university.
  • 2 grocery stores; need money for buying food. Eligible for $250 travel grant through the university.  Documentation needs to be sent out.  The university chooses how much money we get.  We’ve gotten $250 for this.  (Pay attention to emails and get the paperwork put together.)  Write a 1 page letter on why you should do it.
  • Fall course: Feb – March, do paperwork.  Fill out application to the Washington Center.  Bill me (pay Washington center directly in April)
  • Will not accept financial aid; for the seminar you need to take the extra money out of your financial aid yourself and then pay them. 
  • recommended that you stack your courses up because the trip will count as a credit.

Concerned about cost?

Take advantage of fundraisers and start putting money towards it now!

  • Dip orders.
  • Candy.
  • Gift cards.
  • FlipGive: holiday orders online.

Any Questions?

Click here to go the Washington Center homepage.

Email Paullet about paperwork for the Fall/Spring.

Highlights Part 2: Red Chair PGH Nov. 2017; Panel Q&A

This is the second part of the highlights of the Red Chair Pittsburgh event from early November.  The information here is NOT an exact transcript.  This is a paraphrased version of what the panelists had to say during the Q&A.


Background of Panelists:

Julie Straub – Global IT Director, PPG

Antoinette(“Toni”) Murphy – Comcast Regional VP

Michele R. McGough – Founder and CEO, Solutions4netoworks, Pittsburgh, PA

Priscilla J. Beal – Digital Innovation, Bayer US LLC.

Lori Crozier – VP IT, Digital Technology Delivery & eBusiness at ThermoFisher Scientific.

How they got started:

  • Julia: Was not exposed to computers in high school; started as a math major.  Male peers whom were dual math and computer majors pushed her to get involved in computers.
  • Tony Murphy: French and Econ major until she then focused on IT companies. Comcast for 9 years.  Done everything from product development to… [etc.]
  • Michelle: 1st to go to college as an Economics major and then graduated.  I was offered telecommunications job and loved the continuous learning.
  • Lori: My family didn’t even have a computer as a child;  in my youth, I worked in office for a small company.  Nothing was computerized.  They automated and asked me to get it working for them.  I am big into project management as well.
  • Priscilla: I have a masters in art history.  I spent my time working in museums.  Trying to entice viewers, I led the team who had to learn how to use technology to make the sculptures come alive.  This led me into digital marketing, and 10 years working on digital strategy.  I soon after joined Bayer and now head up the innovation team.

How to move into Leadership:

  • Priscilla: Apply passion to you being inspiring.
  • Lori: People are looking to do well and want to be a part of something meaningful and important, you are important to give them vision and to create the enthusiasm around it.
  • Julie: Develop relationships, trust, and respect with your team.  This is critical for them to follow you as a leader.

Challenges & advocates:

  • Toni: Have mentors advice and sponsors put your name behind theirs.  Here’s a general rule: 60% of my time I am doing my job, and the rest I’m telling about what I’m doing.  Ask for what you want and you will get it.  Be brave.
  • Michelle: Me and 3 other coworkers were sued for trying to conspire against boss to get him fired – we were accused but that was not the case.  I was in a bad place with personal issues and shut down.  When I began to put my company together, and we were getting ready to file for a patent, I learned he [a disgruntled, fired employee] stole the intellectual property before the patent.  Two of the women said don’t worry about it(legal fees), we had the same issue happen; it’s nice to know you’re not alone.
  • Lori: Think about what you want, network early in your career, don’t wait to use your network – keep it active and live.  Use those who will be a good guide for you and get lifelong advocates.
  • Priscilla: Take into consideration what qualities they have that are inspiring and then think about it – is that what I want to do? are they happy? and is that something I could be happy doing? Listen to your gut.
  • Toni: from a sponsor’s perspective, are you a rockstar that I can be proud of? and what is something that I get in return here?  As you move up, you need to use the mentees to connect too.
  • Julie: It does not have to be a formal advocate.  Have courage.  Ask people further up in their career.  Be open to really ask.

Extra Tips:

  • Toni: Paint the picture for where you’re going.  Rate yourself – validate yourself!
  • Michele: Keep a notepad and keep track of what you have accomplished.  Self review.  Justify your raise.

Women blame themselves for what is wrong which can be a bad thing  because when you’re not looking at your accomplishments, you’re lowering your confidence.

How to bring out confidence:

  • Lori: CONFIDENCE GAP! (Meaning: understand that you are just as capable as the men, and that they are more confident because they have been told that because they are men that they belong here; understand that you belong just as much as them because you are just as capable.)
  • Julie: Don’t think you need to have all of the skills for the job.
  • Michelle: In a CMU study, when asked if they could do the next job, we[women] think about it and men immediately say they’ll do it.  Interview woman vs man, this comes off as a difference in confidence. (Meaning: Confidence gives an impression that you are more capable.)

How do you balance projects with your personal life:

  • Toni: I am married, and my husband is in IT.  I have 3 kids, ages 6, 4, and 2.  Be sure to have a good support system.  Leadership is a gift but learn to be okay with delegation.  Don’t think you have to prove yourself over and over again because that is you secretly degrading yourself.
  • Priscilla: I have 3 kids.  You need to love what you do; if you can’t leave your kids for it, don’t do it.  Find personal satisfaction.  See yourself as a role model.
  • Lori: Be an aspiration but be good to yourself.

Big Theme here: Be BRAVE Be CONFIDENT

  • Women are just as capable as men, but overall women approach the computing field more timid due to a lack of confidence.
  • These women are successful because they are not only brilliant, but CONFIDENT.
  • They are all very open, honest, and respectful leaders who prove that you can find a good balance in your life. 
    • Women do not have to do everything.
    • Women can still have a highly successful career while still having children.
    • It is important to understand that women can do anything, and that it is important to get out there and be brave.
  • The wage gap only exists because we let it exist; we have laws against it, but if you don’t ask, you won’t get the fair wage you deserve due to culture.
    • Be confident.
    • Log yourself and prove your credentials.
    • ASK: for the raise, what others get paid, etc.  ASK questions.
    • Address any discrepancies between your wage, and that of your male counterpart(s).

Highlights Part 1: Red Chair PGH Nov. 2017; Keynote: “Filling the Pipeline with Talent”

Hey boys! For those of you who wanted to attend Red Chair Pittsburgh 2017 event – the girls-only event left available for only a select few ladies – here’s what you missed:

What is the purpose of the Red Chair?

  •  Challenge. Innovation. Creativity. Strength. Reinvention. Sustainability.
  • The Red Chair is a physical representation of men and women “sitting” to take a stand about the value that women bring to Computing and IT.
  • having women in the IT and Computing workforce means…
    • Expanded talent pool: we need more people involved in IT due to the span of careers creating a shortage in workers to fill these future job opportunities.
    • Improved technical innovation: greater diversity means people of varying backgrounds which means more perspectives to look at a problem.  Problem solving can be done quicker when you are able to assess the many angles of a problem.  Better assessment means better solutions.
    • Increased ROI: “Research shows that companies with the highest representation of women in their management teams have a 34% higher return on investment than did those with few or no women.”

Keynote: “Filling the Pipeline with Talent”

Carole Frieze

  • Director of Women@SCS and SCS4ALL; these organizations focus on building community on campus, and provide leadership opportunities as well as networking ones. Most importantly, these organizations focus on promoting diversity in Computer Science.
  • working on diversity and inclusion in CMU’s Computer Science division for 17 years.
  • researches
    • culture of computing
    • stereotypes
    • myths
    • unconscious bias
  • Winner of 2016 AccessComputing Capacity Building Award
  • Winner of 2017 Computing Research  Associations A. Nico Haberman Award
  • co-author of Kicking Butt in Computer Science: Women in Computing at Carnegie Mellon University

Jeria Quesenberry

  • Ph.D
  • Associate Teaching Professor in the Information Systems Program in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences at CMU.
  • Research:
    • cultural influences on information technology post-secondary students
    • social inclusion
    • how to broaden participation
    • values behind chosen careers
    • work and life balancing
    • organizational intervention
  • Teaches:
    • global systems
    • social informatics
    • strategic value of information systems
    • web design and web development
    • project management
  • Doctorate of Philosophy degree in Information Sciences and Technology from the Pennsylvania State University

The Presentation


  • Intro: 50% women in computer science major in CMU – big success that deserves recognition; fueled by their hard work researching, and implementing ways to create diversity in computing and IT.
  • Because IT is one of the best rated job areas as far as growth and personal satisfaction, this is an important field to get anyone involved in.
  • 2016 CRA Taulbee report showed that only 18% of the pool of Computing and IT students were female. 
  • 2016-2017 CMU admissions Taulbee report showed that ~ 50% (49…%) of their Computer Science students were female for their 1st years.

Discussed Timeline of Culture in Computing:

  • 1990s: men were all similar in mentality and found that coding was “fun”; women – only 5% of those in computing – saw the computer as something that they wanted to be useful with, but did not feel like they belonged in this field.
  • Post 1999: mentality around the use for the computer began to become more diverse for men and women, as did the pool of men and women.
  • 2012: interviews between men and women showed that
    • reasoning for joining CS showed no gender gap
    • Women’s confidence decreased as they progressed in school
    • Men’s confidence increased as they progressed in school
    • Women and men GPAs were on par; there was no difference in the general academic performance of men and women
    • Leads researchers to believe the problem is not competency, but cultural stereotypes causing women to feel like they do not belong in their field.
  • 1974: Lego promoted boys and girls playing with their products.
  • 2011: Lego designs targeted boys.
  • 2014: 7 year old’s letter to Lego made headlines expressing a lack of Lego toys for girls.  She expressed a distaste for the girl’s Lego toys being girls who would go to the beach and did not have jobs, while the boy’s toys got to have jobs and even go on adventures.  This led to the creation of female Lego science and NASA sets.
  • 2014: Barbie book I Can Be a Computer Engineer – “I’m only creating the design ideas,” Barbie tells Skipper. “I’ll need Steven and Brian’s help to turn it into a real game!” – perpetuates the idea that women are not meant to code.

Progress? 2016/17, CMU has managed an almost perfect 50/50 ratio of women to men in their Computer Science major for their first year students.

Intervention techniques to fix the ratio of men to women

  • programming requirements dropped for joining majors
  • became more open and allowed various entry levels to join the field
  • Lenore Blum joined the Computer Science Faculty and began her mission to get women more involved in science and math.
  • Women@scs 
    • formal organization supported by the institution
    • designed to level the playing field by reaching out to women and giving them opportunities in computers.
    • female students were put in charge to develop an importance in student leadership
  • scs4all
    • program that developed from women@scs
    • available to men and women
    • women still the leadership figures

Important theme to the research

  • It is a cultural issue
  • Confidence gap NOT competency gap
  • Do NOT perpetuate stereotypes
  • Do NOT accommodate differences because it only perpetuates the divide
  • Do NOT listen to Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus: “worst book ever for the cause
  • Recommended books:
    • Pink Brain Blue Brain by Elliot T. 2009
    • Delusions of Gender


Red Chair Pittsburgh 2017: Union Trust Building, November 16, 2017.


Highlights: Bitcoin w/ Dr. Werner Kristjanpoller

In case you missed the presentation Bitcoin: A New Paradigm or a Financial Bubble?, here is what was discussed by Dr. Werner Kristjanpoller, our RMU Fall 2017 Rooney International Scholar.

Dr. Werner Kristjanpoller:

  • professor in the Industrial Engineering Department at Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María (UTFSM), in Chile
  • Career Director of Industrial Engineering for UTFSM’s main Campus
  • Director of 3ie – the Business Incubator of UTFSM
  • Ph.D in Business Studies at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, in Spain
  • MBA from UTFSM
  • Industrial Engineer
  • Vast research and teaching span includes:
    • finance and economics
    • econometrics
    • application of artificial intelligence to forecast financial assets
  • Published in several journals such as:
    • Expert Systems with Applications
    • Applied Energy
    • Computational Economics
    • Sex Roles
    • Journal of Pension Economics and Finance
    • Emerging Markets Finance and Trade
  • His plans at RMU are to research crypto currency, and develop a hypothesis for returns and volatility of Bitcoin.

The Presentation:

Bitcoin: hot topic – the fundamentals of currency.

Need for currency

  • Barter(good for small civilizations) -> (increased commerce)currency
  • EX: salt, seafood shells, cow, vegetables, stones, etc.
  • Gold: most popular, and silver appeared – prevented currency from expiring. Creation of coins
    • Gold stores – transferred your gold to a paper equivalent; beginning of bills
    • Needed coins/gold to support the money being printed
  • Gold system – all the money of a country needed to be able to be turned into gold that each central bank protected. Since 1930. Money could be changed to gold, and vice versa.
    • Every country has responsibility – but then it was left up to the US dollar to be the standard for all coins.
    • EX: pesos to US dollar
    • 1973: Nixon decided to end the condition of the uS dollar as the standard because we did not have enough gold to support the bills.
      • US was running out of gold needed to support all the circulating dollars.
      • TODAY: no metal support. Money only has value because we trust that it has value. -> essential to the financial value of Bitcoin.

Crypto Currency – 2009; virtual money; seeks decentralization – no central state controlling this; no one has control over the internet.

  • Only generates a number of previously sdefined units, at a rate that is limited by a previously established and publicly known value
  • We have a fixed amount
  • More than 800 currencies have been created – bad
  • Allows you to make purchases internationally and be exchanged for another currency without intermediaries
  • Some think that there will be no tellers, cash registers, queues, or waits;
    • Amazon Go*: no lines – just walkout and receive payment to your amazon account; Dec 2016. Use of virtual currency and algorithms to keep track of what you pick up, and you can just leave.
    • Bank behind transactions.

Bitcoin – virtual currency, which is generated in a consensual network that allows a new payment system.

  • First specificiation of the bitcoin protocol and proof: Satoshi Nakamoto (referred to this as his pseudonym) in 2009 in an email list launched this proof of concept.
  • Numerous developers working on the bitcoin protocol; more people began to grow exponentially into the community of bitcoin: the more people who trust in bitcoin, the more industries will begin accepting bitcoin as a currency.
  • Bitcoin has no owners
  • Bitcoin network shares public accounting called “block chain” – system behind bitcoin

How does bitcoin work:

  • Exchange money electronically like an email or a text
  • Makes sure no one can send money from someone else’s account
  • Signature required based on cryptography – used to create signatures through decryption proving that it is them; signatures cannot be copied because they are different for each transaction
  • Provides a decentralized system
  • Maintainers – keeps personal copy of ledger and updates it
  • Fraud can cause changes in ledgers – vote on which one is the correct ledger using a mathematical formula by having users solve the problem, hand in the answer, each vote has a cost in electricity and computing power.
    • Keeping it fair: each puzzle is based on previous answer before starting
    • Only thing that makes people finish it faster is through having more electricity and computing power.
    • Solving puzzles -> small money; these people are called “miners”; randomly generating new money for the solving of puzzles.
  • Reliability: accurate ledger is found through mathematical probability


  • Ease of payment – send and receive instantaneously
  • Security and control – bitcoin users have complete control over their transactions
  • Very low rates – payment swith bitcoin are currently processed at low rates or at no charge. Can send money from US to Japan with no additional cost instantaneously.
  • Less risk of fraud
  • Neutral and transparent – all people know the quantity of bitcoin in the world – it is open to all; all information is available


  • Degree of acceptance – many people still do not know Bitcoin; “big barrier to jump”
  • Volatility – the total value of bitcoins in circulation and the number of businesses using bitcoin are very small compared to what it may become.
    • volatitlity can be used to as an advantage in some cases
    • Bitcoin: keeps increasing in price, lowering in price, coming up to $6,000 per Bitcoin soon.
    • Financial battle: because it continues to change
  • Developing System – still in the beta phase with many incomplete features in development.
    • “Déjà vu” – “what is internet” (1994) “why would you buy a computer” “bitcoin”(made in 2009) – designed to be self-stabilizing.
    • Bitcoin is no longer a scam? Goldman Sachs boss Lloyd Blankfeind said his bank was considering bitcoin.
    • Howard Marks – billionaire investor; referred to it as a fad but has now accepted it as having the most valuable characteristic – people believe in and trust bitcoin as a currency.

Is bitcoin a threat?

  • Fear about crypto currency because it implies to lost power – loss of state power – loss of centralization.
  • Several industries can be negatively affected with the break-in of Bitcoin
  • Several governments have been forced to regulate their use or ban it.
  • Several governments have been pushing cashless
    • If all transactions are done by card or transfers with banks, the govt could lose power
  • Some banks in Japan want to launch their own crypto currency – J coin.
    • Japanese government could be accepting
    • Against economy’s basis in Japan to reject Bitcoin.
    • If japan launches J-coin; and you have to choose one – you are more likely to choose J coin over Bitcoin due to the fact that J coin is centrally supported by an entire country.

Bitcoin behavior:

  • Research in progress “Forecasting the Bitcoin Volatility
  • Kristjanpoller & Minutolo 2017.
  • Mixing econometrics model with networking
  • Generate bitcoin volatility for a week, weeks, and a month.


A question was asked about the legal implications of the court trying to define Bitcoin (property/currency/both?)

  • Report gains in bitcoin as gains in property
  • Federal government’s legal system is trying to see how to view it as well as how the IRS should view it.
  • IRS – asset not taxed; official policy that it is property and should be taxed as such and not currency creates an inefficiency in the market.  Smart companies will trade capitol in Ireland to bitcoin and then bring it back to the US because it will get taxed differently.  If not seen as a currency, then it cannot be taxed as currency.
  • J coin is an attempt to change the tax on that earnings.

Recommended readings/videos:

  • The Aisles have Eyes
  • The rise and mine of Bitcoin
  • Money: the Unofficial Biography

Highlights: Splunk Presentation with U.S. Steel’s James Wolfe

This event was held October 26th, and in case you missed it, here are some of the highlights to be taken away from the presentation.  So, if you were in class and regretted now skipping class for this, we have got you covered!

Main Points:

  • Searches – he discussed how when you use the search bar, it is important to understand its format:
    • [general code] | [less general] | [continually more specific search]
    • as you can tell, the idea is that there are commands that you use that are processed from left to write, and each command is separate by the |(pipe).
  • Save searches! – with there being so many different ways to slice all of the network traffic that Splunk is managing, having different frequented searches saved is very convenient to insure more time searching network traffic, and not google for Splunk commands.
  • Statistics – in order for anomaly detection to work, there needs to be an idea of what is normal.  One person’s smile could be another person’s bad-day face.  It is important to judge off of what is normal for the network traffic, much like judging someone’s behavior off of what is normal for that person.  The statistics generated are what determines what falls within normal behavior for their network.
  •  Real-time Graphs & Charts – generating graphs and charts that will actually change and adjust in real time are super important.  It allows an easy way to understand what is going on in the network – instantaneously.  Wolfe stressed that bosses will love something so clean, visually appealing, and content-specific.

Splunk application:

This presentation was about Splunk, the security event manager/log aggregation software.  If you have had Paullet’s class and suffered through the wonderfully challenging Enron emails assignment, then you have had a small taste of this software’s capabilities.  Splunk can be used for a wide variety of applications because of its ability to organize/index large sums of information with ease into databases, or indexes.  James Wolfe focused on Splunk’s network security applications.  James Wolfe is a security administrator for U.S. Steel, so his job requires him to focus on network traffic such as IPs, users, or anything that could potentially indicate a point of failure for their network.  Wolfe explained that the beauty of Splunk is that you can start looking without needing to know exactly what it is that you are looking for – exactly how I described my use of Splunk when trying to find incriminating Enron emails.  Because security is the importance of the job, he discussed the commands that would be useful for security.  These things included:

  • dedup – removes duplicates in your search.
    • EX: dedup user, src_ip
  • wineventlog
    • 4625 – this code indicates a failure to log in

A very basic example shown to us to show how the data was being used to detect anomalies was through the ratio or successful to unsuccessful log ins for users.  By creating a baseline formula for the rate of successful logins for each user, the computer can flag any time there is a change in this rate that goes within 1-2 standard deviations.  The data is all producing algorithms and equations based on what you – the user of the Splunk software – deems important.

  • table_raw – views the raw informaiton that splunk pulled the information from for the databases/indexes

This raw information was very education in seeing how convenient the software is, because the raw version was pretty jumbled, messy, and difficult to understand.

Career Advice:

  • Deskside/IT support is a good career start – you learn to troubleshoot
  • Ask as many questions as you can – be willing to do projects; this will make you valuable.
  • CERTIFICATIONS: N+* – basic fundamentals of networking.
  • Government – certifications are legally required
  • CCNA – CISCO; mid-level
  • Maintain a strong work ethic
  • Log into a firewall – download free for home*
  • 2 year schools like ITT tech allows hands on experience
  • 4 year degree preferable, but less hands on – it proves that you are hardworking and willing to put in the time necessary; this ties in greatly with having a strong work ethic.
  • Microsoft imagine account; dream spark; 2016 data center OS worth $3,000 [we get it for free at RMU, so utilize it!]
    • Spin up a DHCE from home
  • All acronyms – know.
  • Splunk: just saying that you have worked with Splunk automatically gives you an edge against the competition for any job in security.
  • Google: useful; know that it really is alright to google what you do not understand when doing anything on the computer.  There is so much to know, and as long as you accept that you will be learning throughout your entire career, you will be able to stay in demand with employers.

Fun Facts:

  • Companies have filters on their employee’s computers preventing them from going on certain sites.  Because you cannot access these through google, users will use Bing as their loophole to sites that they are not supposed to access.
  • U.S. Steel, much like other companies, uses firewall redundancy to prevent any debilitating security errors.
  • Splunk is free to download; free for developers license. All software is free all you need is to buy your own server with 16 gigs – plenty for an at home – of ram.  Buy second NIC. Spin up VMs. Download licenses.

Snapchat’s Terms of Service

Did you read the new Terms of Service for your Snapchat account?

Odds are, probably not.  The most recent update occurred on September 26, 2017.  Before that, there was already a lot of power in the Terms hidden behind the blindly pressed clip-wrap agreement such as Snapchat being allowed to use your photographs on billboards without you knowing or getting any compensation for it.  If you have read through the terms in the past, some of this may be a review for you.

Here’s what you agreed to last month:

Your Private content:

“For all content you submit to the Services other than Public Content, you grant Snap inc. and our affiliates a worldwide, royalty-free, sublicensable, and transferable license to host, store, use, display, reproduce, modify, adapt, edit, publish, and distribute that content. “

  • even though this statement is followed by a big line stating these licenses are solely for bettering our services, having that much free will available can be an intimidating fact that we barely even think about.
  • public content is not included because Snapchat wants to use content you deemed free to the world, to their highest advantage.

Your Public content:

“In addition to granting us the rights mentioned in the previous paragraph [quoted above], you also grant us a perpetual license to create derivative works from, promote, exhibit, broadcast, syndicate, sublicense, publicly perform, and publicly display Public Content in any form and in an and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed)… you also grant Snap Inc, our affiliates, and our business partners the unrestricted, worldwide, perpetual right and license to use your name, likeness, and voice, including in connection with commercial or sponsored content.”

  • Snapchat is allowed to do whatever it wants with your content placed on any story that is left open to the public such as the “Our story” options, or anything left on “My story” when you leave your settings so that anyone can view your story.
  • With the ability to use your name, likeness, and voice, you could be in a commercial, without your knowledge – but still technically with your consent – and get no compensation from Snapchat.

What can be done with your content on your end:

“While we’re not required to do so, we may access, review, screen, and delete your content at any time for any reason, including to provide and develop the Services or if we think your content violates these Terms.”

  • Although it is stated here that changing your content in any way would be to improve services or to remove anything that could be considered a violation, Snapchat can do things that are specific to your own individual account, without any restrictions because it is allowed to do so for any reason.  That line is just a sugarcoating.
  • even though Snapchat claims to be monitoring us to prevent illegal use of the application, it claims no obligation to regulate users, and therefore can be freed from any liabilities, putting full responsibility back onto users.

“…if you volunteer feedback or suggestions, just know that we can use your ideas without compensating you.”

  • any suggestions will be solely for you to improve the application; there is no other gain for you.

This is just a small synopsis of the general terms specified online by Snap Inc. regarding your content.

For full content, click Full Terms of Service.