You can't secure what you don't acknowledge.SM

Saturday, May 23, 2009

MagicJack - Great concept, awful execution

You may have heard that AT&T is dropping its CallVantage VoIP service. I'm not too upset since their service has been mediocre and my enhancement requests have been ignored. As of late I've been searching for an alternative solution. I'd heard some good stuff about the MagicJack and thought I'd give it a try. It was a "free" trial so what did I have to lose?

Apparently several hours of my life that I'll never get back.

After some trials and tribulations, I never got my MagicJack working on the computer I needed it to work on. It had promise. The dialog I pasted below is the real reason I'm returning it. With their "excellent" customer no-service, MagicJack has earned itself a top placement in my "Most Idiotic Technical Support Award". Read along - if anything - for the humor of it all. I've highlighted some key parts of the conversation.

Chat InformationPlease wait for a site operator to respond.

Chat InformationYou are now chatting with 'Abraham'

Abraham: Hello, how may I help you?

Kevin: Hey, I keep getting "Welcome to the Found New Hardware Wizard" and can't get my PC to recognize the device.

Kevin: It worked fine on another Windows XP system - just not this one.

Abraham: I see.. let me assist you with that.

Abraham: Is the magicjack plugged in right now?

Kevin: Yep...

Abraham: Are you using the USB extension cord?

Kevin: no

Abraham: OKay.. please unplug your magicjack and plug it back into a different USB port

Kevin: FYI, I downloaded and ran your upgrade software...also made sure Autorun is enabled.

Kevin: Done...same problem.

Abraham: Thank you for that information..

Abraham: Please click on start button then click on run then type in devmgmt.msc

Kevin: I'm there.

Abraham: Then click on the "+" sign beside the Universal Serial Bus controllers

Kevin: OK

Abraham: May I know how many entries you have there Kevin?

Kevin: 15 including the TigerJet device

Abraham: OKay.. please right click on the first entry then click on update driver

Kevin: OK...the "Welcome to the Hardware Update Wizard" loads

Abraham: Okay.. did you already update the first entry there Kevin?

Kevin: I clicked update driver on the 1st one, yes

Abraham: Okay.. please do the samething with the remaining entries there Kevin

Kevin: so just click "update driver" on each one and nothing else?

Abraham: Yes please, that will help top scan your magicjack into your system

Kevin: OK...done.

Abraham: Are you done with all the 15 entries there?

Kevin: yes.

Abraham: Okay.. is the dial pad visible now?

Kevin: No - I still have a window "Welcome to the Found New Hardware Wizard"....nothing's going to come up if my computer is not recognizing your device. That's what I need your help with.

Abraham: Okay, run this upgrade this time

Abraham: Please click the link to download and run the magicJack upgrade (applicable for both XP & Vista):


Kevin: It's telling me the same thing as before: Warning you need to connect your magicjack into USB

Abraham: Okay.. please double click on "my computer" icon then locate the 2 magicjack drives there

Kevin: There are no drives....there will not be any drives until my computer recognizes the magicjack. Until the "Welcome to the Found New Hardware Wizard" stops coming up when I insert the magicjack. :-)

Abraham: Can you plug in your magicjack at the back panel of your computer?

Kevin: Which back panel? I've tried every USB port...same results.

Abraham: At the back panel of your computer Kevin

Kevin: I have no idea what you're talking about. The magicjack only goes into a USB port, right? I've tried every USB port.

Abraham: regarding this issue, let me transfer you to the higher level of support, would that be okay with you?

Kevin: that'd be great!

Abraham: Thank you for your patience. I will transfer you to a higher level of support. Please hold while I transfer you.

Chat InformationPlease wait while I transfer the chat to the best suited site operator.

Chat InformationYou are now chatting with 'Wendel'

Wendel: Hello Kevin, this is Wendel and I will be the one to assist you further with your concerns.

Wendel: Please hold while I will review your previous chat. Thank you!

Kevin: OK...

Wendel: Is the magicJack still plug in?

Kevin: yes..

Wendel: Are you using the USB extension cord?

Kevin: no

Wendel: Okay

Wendel: Please unplug your magicjack and plug it back again after 30 seconds into another USB port.

Wendel: Please inform me if you see any error message once you plug the magicjack

Kevin: I still have a window "Welcome to the Found New Hardware Wizard"

Wendel: OKay

Kevin: If there's a way I can just get the drivers for this device and point Windows to them I can probably get this resolved....any way that's possible?

Wendel: Please go to "My Computer ", see if you have two magicjack drives in there.

Kevin: I don't

Wendel: No magicJack drive?

Kevin: Correct

Kevin: That's not going to happen until I get Windows to recognize it and stop popping that Window up.

Wendel: Press the windows button in your keyboard ( between CTRL and ALT ) then press R. Type devmgmt.msc and press OK

Kevin: I'm there

Wendel: At Device Manager window, click + to the left of Disk drives. (Do you see YMAX MagicJack USB Device/Tigerjet Harddisk USB Device?)

Kevin: Nope - just my local hard drive

Kevin: I do see TigerJet USB Composite Device under USB Controllers

Wendel: Do you see Disk Drives?

Kevin: Yes - it just has my local drive

Wendel: Is the blue light still On?

Kevin: yes

Wendel: Please click the link to download and run the magicJack upgrade (applicable for both XP & Vista):


Kevin: It's telling me the same thing as before: Warning you must plug magicjack into USB

Wendel: Plug in your magicJack. Now right click on “My computer” and select “Manage”. In there click on “Disk Management”. On the right side you should among other things see two drives. One is called “magicJack” and the other is called either “Phone” or “Vista Only”.

Kevin: My C: drive and my CD-ROM drive show up...that's it.

Wendel: Do you have another computer?

Kevin: I do - as I said above, it works fine on my 2nd computer but I need it to work on this one.

Wendel: Did you try to use an AC-powered USB hub with that computer?

Kevin: No...same setup. Hey, I'm going to have to go you really think there's any chance this is going to work on my computer?

Wendel: Please do use an AC-powered USb hub on that computer so that it will boost the power of your USb port

Kevin: OK...I'll try that. Thanks for your help.

Get a sense I had a to repeat myself a few times once the second level support guy came on to help me? Golly....

Attention all you entreprenuers out there: It's great to follow in the steps of people like Don Borislow (the founder of the MagicJack) but never ever stop at the product. Your success is going to be determined just as much by how good your employees are and how well you treat your customers.

End of story.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

My CNN TV appearance - yet another mobile drive debacle

CNN's Mike Ahlers and Elaine Quijano put together an intriguiging segment about a lost hard drive from the National Archives for The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer television show I appeared on last night. The hyperlink goes to the actual article...the video hasn't been posted yet and they're telling me it may not be. I hope you had the chance to see it live last night. If it gets posted I'll be sure to link to it.

If you haven't read the other takes on the story it's pretty fascinating. An external hard drive containing a good bit of personal and sensitive information was moved from a secured area of the building and left exposed for a while in an unsecured location. It then apparently sprouted legs and walked off. With 100 or so people having badge access to the area as well as janitors and visitors this doesn't surprise me. It was a 2 Terabyte drive...Wow. But that doesn't necessarily mean that it contained that much information. But all it takes is one bit of sensitive info going unaccounted for to have a breach on your hands.

Yet another data breach likely to end up on the hall of shame list. I haven't confirmed whether the National Archives and Records Administration falls under the scope of FISMA but I suspect it does. They do have their own Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO). Probably should've been obeying their own rules, you think? And they probably should've encrypted that drive so whoever has it can't do much with it, huh?....Better to spend $200 of taxpayer money on drive encryption software than no telling how many tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of dollars it's going to cost before all's said and done. Oops.

I'll say it again folks: what's it going to take to encrypt mobile drives?

BTW, did anyone catch the last name of the U.S. Congressman featured in the story linked above? Issa. Funny tie-in. Get it?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I'm going to be on CNN at 5pm ET today

I received a call from the producer of the CNN show The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer today and ended up doing a TV interview. It's about the National Archive story that just came out regarding and external hard drive that recently went missing.

Wonder if it was encrypted like I've ranted about here and elsewhere in the past? Probably not.

It's going to be on in the 5pm ET hour on CNN today. Check it out if you can.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I've been saying this for a while

Apparently security researchers and Robert Abela with Acunetix agree with what I've been saying for a while: Web application firewalls aren't enough!

Check out this post and the post it links to.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Tips on keeping your job these days

I recently wrote about How to maintain IT shop efficiency when you're the last man standing (which reminds me I forgot to post this on my new content updates!).

Well, here are some more tips that Linda Tucci with just wrote about.

So there you go...two reading assignments. :-)