Articles by Joel Rosenblatt


August 18, 2016

By Joel Rosenblatt
Columbia University Director of Computer and Network Security

I read an interesting article the other day about a talk at DEF CON - Thermostat Ransomware: A Glimpse into the Future of Crime in Cities

It was about how the speakers did a proof of concept of a ransomware infection of a smart thermostat.  My first reaction (as a geek) was, “Cool!”  Then I started thinking about this. On the surface, the Internet of Things (IoT) is a great idea.  It will bring me one step closer to the world of The Jetsons (though I am still waiting for my flying car). Won’t it be great when your toaster, coffee maker and refrigerator can chat?


June 29, 2016

By Joel Rosenblatt
Columbia University Director of Computer and Network Security

One of the most useful things to me in trying to secure an enterprise like Columbia University is information, and the more information, the better.  This means that for most of the time that I am not in meetings, I sit and read. 

Most of my input overload comes in the form of emails, approximately 800 to 1,000 per day.  I don’t claim to read all of them, and a good number are vendor solicitations.  


June 1, 2016

By Joel Rosenblatt

My friend Randy Marchany tweeted a link to an article “Millennials Value Speed Over Security, Says Survey”  that started me thinking about the apparent conflict between speed and security.  If you google “Agile software development,” you will see a Wikipedia page, which extensively covers the topic.


May 10, 2016

By Joel Rosenblatt
Columbia University Director of Computer and Network Security

I was looking at Facebook the other day (yes, I know – a security guy that uses Facebook – just wait until you have grandkids and a scary message appeared at the top of the page. It was the 39 year anniversary of my employment at Columbia University.  

I have been working in IT for 39 plus years (including the time as a student employee).  It occurred to me that while I have only been doing security for 18 years, all of my work in IT has revolved around one thing – Data.


April 6, 2016

By Joel Rosenblatt
Columbia University Director of Computer and Network Security

This seems to be the time of year that everyone is holding a security conference.  I will be attending eight from January through the end of April (and speaking at four of them.) 

The interesting thing about most of these meetings is that they are usually sponsored by vendors, who believe that their product or service is the answer to all of your security needs.  This mentality that security is a “thing” that you can buy, and by installing it on your network, it will solve all of your problems is a fantasy worthy of Grimm’s fairy tales. 


March 5, 2016

By Joel Rosenblatt
Columbia University Director of Computer and Network Security

I guess it’s time to admit that I might be getting older.  When will the adults of the world take back the media and create a Bull S*** rating system.  We have a rating system for movies.

I propose an additional rating for news items “Rated BS – People strongly cautioned – there is little to no truth in the following article.”


February 18, 2016

By Joel Rosenblatt
Columbia University Director of Computer and Network Security

I have been watching the case I will call Apple vs FBI carefully.  It is not quite David vs Goliath, because Apple is not some two-bit company with limited resources, but it is certainly a case of Privacy vs Security.

According to Apple’s story, creating a special version of IOS that defeats the passcode entry limit and creates a brute force attack on susceptible iPhones will open a Pandora’s Box:


December 4, 2015

By Joel Rosenblatt
Columbia University Director of Computer and Network Security

According to the internetretailer.com, holiday sales are up 15%-16% this year online, but down 4.7%-10% instore.  If I were in the identity theft business, I would have a hard time containing my excitement.

Last year, my Holiday article was all about various hacks and scams that always seem to increase around this time of the year.  This year, I wanted to highlight a simple way to find out if your identity has been compromised.


August 25, 2015

By Joel Rosenblatt

A few weeks ago, my son and his family came to visit us from Japan (he is a Captain in the Marine Corps and stationed there).  We took a day to go down to the shore and walk along the boardwalk.  My son mentioned that he needed cash, so I pointed to an ATM sitting outside of one of the stores.  He said “I don’t use ATMs that are on wheels.”

I take this comment as a wakeup call to point out a problem with the current trend to refer to computer break-ins as “sophisticated,” when what they really turn out to be is phishing.


July 30, 2015

By Joel Rosenblatt

I just saw an article stating that Chrysler is sending out USB drives to car owners to update the WiFi connect features in their Jeeps. For those of you that missed the story on the news, the article about it is in Wired magazine.

My guess is that this is being done to save the cost of sending out a recall letter to the million plus owners and having them bring in the cars for the software update.


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