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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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RP4 and security

25 June 2019

Everyone loves the Raspberry Pi, especially hackers.

And now... tada... it's Raspberry Pi 4 time!

Yes, the game-changing SBC that is the RPi has been updated, or should I say that yet another version has been released.

Up to three times faster, offering 4K graphics/video and with anywhere from 1GB to 4GB of RAM, the new RP4 offers a hell of a lot of bang for your buck, especially considering that it's still priced (depending on memory) from just US$35.

But this isn't an advertisement for the RP4 -- it doesn't need an ad, it will sell on its own merits. This is a look at what the RP computers are used for and why, in at least one case, they became a huge security issue.

I refer you to this story running on the BBC website.

Yes, the RP is such a ubiquitous and unobtrusive device that it can be pretty easy to forget you've got one plugged in to your network. However, if you do forget, and your network contains sensitive data, you could be in trouble.

I suspect that the vast majority of RP units in use around the world are vulnerable to a number of hacks -- the worst of which being that a lot of people simply never bother to change the default root login details. This is especially true if the device is being used as a media centre running one of the OpenElec or LibreElec distros designed for Kodi.

Any hacker worth his salt who comes across such a box will be most elated that they can probably log right in and start exploring the host network at their leisure without the use of a single zero-day exploit.

Certainly NASA got a nasty wake-up call when they discovered an overlooked RP on their system network and I hope this has caused a lot of other admins to do a system audit to check for similar potential problems.

But what about this new RP4? What will that be used for?

Well I'm ordering one and plan to set it up with a cheap 2TB USB drive to function as a video/web server on my own network. Yes, I will lock it down hard, for obvious reasons, but I intend to start serving some of my own videos -- directly to the world.

I'm probably not supposed to do this through my UFB connection (which I'm upgrading to the fastest plan of almost 1GbS) I'm going to give it a go, as part of the test phase of my distributed video hosting initiative with which I shall usurp YouTube from its position as market leader (Cue Tui's ad!).

I also have a number of other ideas in the back of my mind that will suit this newer, faster, more capable Raspberry Pi device.

Wow... the future really is here I guess.

1TB of storage on a card the size of your thumbnail, a $35 computer that is orders of magnitude more powerful than the one which put man on the moon and free software to make it all work.

Damn, life is good!

How many readers plan to invest in a RP4 and what will you be using yours for?

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