ep's blog

Changing my GnuPG key

Hash: SHA256,SHA1

This is a public notice that I am migrating to a new GnuPG key to upgrade
the digest algorithm and the assymmetric algorithm.  My old keys are:

sec   dsa1024 2006-09-22 [SC]
uid           [ultimate] Brian Epstein <ep@ias.edu>
uid           [ultimate] Brian Epstein <bepstein@ias.edu>
uid           [ultimate] [jpeg image of size 3503]
uid           [ultimate] [jpeg image of size 6400]
ssb   elg2048 2006-09-22 [E]

sec   rsa4096 2014-05-02 [SC]

Update to Duo Login

An upcoming change will modify the look of our Duo Multi-Factor Authentication login prompt.  This change will enhance the security of the system, and will be rolled out to our web applications over the next few months.  Although there is no major difference on how you use the login prompt, we wanted you to be aware of the change so it isn't a surprise.

Old Prompt

Here is a screen shot of the old login prompt.

Warning about text messages impersonating the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (NJMVC)

The New Jersey Cybersecurity & Communications Integration Cell (NJCCIC) sent out a notice reporting several incidents regarding fake text messages impersonating the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission.  This scam is being used to collect your private information which could be used to open credit accounts or steal your identity.


What I'm doing about Contact Tracing apps during the global pandemic

The short answer is, I'm using the COVID Alert NJ [1] [2] app on my smartphone.  I find it to be a safe, secure, and private way for me to participate in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19.  That being said, I didn't trust the app blindly.  I did research and testing to ensure it met my requirements for privacy and security.  My findings are below in case it helps you make a choice on whether or not you participate as well.  For more

Upcoming changes to support Duo Multi-Factor Authentication in web based login screens for IAS

In the upcoming months IAS will be making a change to the login process for our web based applications by adding support for Duo Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA).  This is the same technology that we currently use for our remote access system, OpenVPN.  This move will change the look of the login screen, which we explain below.


May 2020

Old: Central Authentication Service (CAS) 

CAS has been in use for many years at the IAS and has a simple login screen that looks like this.

Zoom Meeting Security

Now that we've moved our meetings to being online, there are some safety concerns that we need to keep in mind that we never had to think too hard about before.  We are seeing news articles about "Zoom-bombing", where uninvited guests join public Zoom calls to disrupt, or even terrorize its participants.  There are a number of techniques that you can use to secure your Zoom sessions.

Be Aware of Gift Card Scams and other Phishing Attacks

What are Gift Card Scams?

The story starts with an innocent email from a supervisor, colleague, or friend asking for your help.  They tell you a tale about how they need some gift cards for gifts to family, friends, potential donors, etc.  Unfortunately, they are unable to make the purchase themselves, could you help them out?  And of course, it is an emergency, please do it as quickly as possible.  Did you just fall for a gift card scam? [1]

Message on Phishing to IAS Faculty, Members, Vistors and Staff 2019-01-24

Dear Faculty, Members, Visitors, and Staff,

As we begin the Spring term at the Institute for Advanced Study, I would like to remind everyone about email safety.

Spotting a scam email can sometimes be difficult, both from an institutional level and an individual level.  We need to work together to protect ourselves from malicious emails, aka phishing messages.

Last night we received such a phish with a blank subject line from, "ITS Service Desk <jcmezzetti @ alaska.edu>".  I wrote up a quick analysis of this phish and how to spot scam emails on the IAS Security website here:

Spotting a scam email (aka a phish)


We are inundated with information nowadays, from the tweets, texts, TV, streaming, email, mentions, etc, etc.  This hectic lifestyle puts us into a mode of needing to respond as soon as possible to any interruption or notice that happens in our lives.  The problem is, malicious scam artists are aware that we are overwhelmed by the influx and are taking advantage of our vulnerability.  They do this by creating realistic looking emails and enticing us to click on them and enter our sensitive data before we realize it is a scam.