Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Saturday Grab Bag #5

Let’s start off today with a few headlines..

FBI Shuts Down Massive Internet Fraud Ring
Six Estonians and one Russian have been indicted in an Internet fraud ring that hijacked 4 million computers worldwide and use them to drive illicit traffic to web sites and online advertising.

Apple Fixes Bugs, Security Holes In iOS 5
Apple has released fixes for a bunch of flaws in iOS 5, including one that leads to poor battery life and two others that can expose users’ personal data when visiting malicious web sites.

Microsoft Releases Critical Patch For Vista, Windows 7
Microsoft has released four patches, one critical, but has yet to provide a permanent fix for the vulnerability exploited by the infamous Duqu Trojan.

Next up..

• My wish list to Santa only has one item — MW3. For those of you who have Geeks to shop for, Amazon’s Electronics Countdown To Black Friday Deals Week is something you may want to peruse for some ideas.. and some deals, maybe. (And since Kindle eReaders are now $79…?)(See, also, Download and read Kindle books – no Kindle required.)

A real book, book: I recently was handed a copy of Mark Bowden’s Worm – the First Digital World War.

“Worm” is about the potentially diabolical piece of computer malware known as Conficker and the efforts of cybersecurity experts to hunt it down…”

I took me a few hours to read, and though most of it was simple review for me, I think for the average person, it would give them a real (and valuable) education ..  How those magic “computer thingies” and that mystic “Internet” voodoo stuff actually works.
Maybe your library has a copy?
(Yes.. there’s some scary stuff in there.. but better that you know it, right? [Though, I understand the “ostrich method” has benefits too..].)
I thought his description of how the Internet came to be (and also, hackers) was particularly well done.

• As a technician, I have a keen appreciation for a good “fix it” job..

"I’ll Take This To Mean Nebraska Can Get Warm"

.. never been to Click on the picture..

Today’s quote:Think what a better world it would be if we all – the whole world – had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap.” ~ Robert Fulghum

Hope you all are enjoying your weekend, and please, let’s be safe out there – exercise some good, healthy, paranoid common sense when online. The Internet is not Disneyland.

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

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November 12, 2011 - Posted by | advice, computers, Internet, News, security, shopping for


  1. Paul… Thanks for this. I read the review of Mark Bowden’s Worm… the Conflicrter…wow! Some scary information to say the least.

    Logically thinking … yes computer users NEED be aware of all the … “computer thingies” that can invade our computers…and …(as you said the ostrich method is handy) which leads to: how many computer users really want to know what is out there in cyber space ready to lunge at them? The average computer user installs the anti viruses… … then they carry on with “fingers crossed” with HALF trust, that their computer will be protected. They do not take the time to pay serious attention…they read about the worms, the computer attacks, (they are busy getting on with life) The information nudges them… there’s a vague feeling of “helplessness” in this tech world” they walk away thinking “I hope an infection or hack does not happen to me”

    Then there’s the Conspiracy Suspicions to it all…”all those involved with the technological world”….the endless costs involved with taking the next step …? The points I mention here is from personal experience and opinions of people I talk to.


    Comment by Gaia | November 13, 2011 | Reply

    • Gaia,
      Thank you for that. I am glad to see someone thinking.

      I agree with you. I personally know many who truly and honestly believe that “viruses” are made by Norton to sell (more) antivirus.

      I, too, intensely dislike the fact that the answer always seems to be Throw More Money At It (in tech, Buy The Latest) especially when that “solution” does not make me bulletproof, even for a little while. It was with great reluctance that I finally urged people to ditch their 32-bit XP units and go out and buy new machines – the only instance here (in 4+ years) where I have said Throw Money At It.

      But your points do not excuse us from a certain responsibility.. we are all “interconnected” now: you aren’t just on the Information Superhighway, your machine(s) are part of that highway.
      Your computer can attack my computer, or the Pentagon’s, and/or it can just sit there and quietly fill my Inbox with ads for penis enhancement pills, or it could be used to rob a bank. And you might not even know it’s happening.

      As soon as I am elected Supreme Benevolent Omnipotent Dictator For Life, people would not be allowed onto the Internet until they had earned their Surfer’s License.
      Just like we don’t allow people on the roads until they can prove they have learned basic safety practices, skills, and know the “rules of the road”.

      … above that article was a mention about a FBI ‘takedown’: that one ‘ring’ of ‘hackers’ had infected (taken control of) 4 million people’s machines… that they only used the 4 million zombie computers to skew Google search results, and commit “Click Fraud” means we got lucky.. I hate to tell you what I could do with 4,000,000 bots. (And even I don’t want to think about what someone more clever might do..)


      Comment by techpaul | November 13, 2011 | Reply

  2. CLICK FRAUD…. thanks… I missed that Crystal Clear reference…I will be sending that article to several people…especially those who have recently been infected by Clicking ads. There’s clicking ads, there’s web sites, even updates… that are “not genuine, but phoney” that becomes so spontaneous to click…almost a reflex of the fingers…sometimes inducing feelings like: “our head is in a cloud.” like a magnet dragging us to the focused area . One has to be in an astute state, not in a rushed state…paying attention to everything we do. Sometimes I ask myself…”is it worth it… the time and stress involved to be on the computer at all? One time It was enjoyable to be here… to be part of the tech world. Oh well…we have “a love…hate” relationship I guess…!


    Comment by Gaia | November 13, 2011 | Reply

    • Gaia,
      I certainly do not mean to subtract in any way from your points, but for the sake of clarity I feel compelled to point out that “infected” (aka “malicious”) ads and “click fraud” are two completely different nasty animals. (The words click fraud [above] takes you to Wikipedia’s description.)

      Your sentiments express what I have been saying here all along: “cyber” criminals are ruining (or.. have ruined, depending on your point of view) the Internet — and I for one think the time is l-l-l-o-o-o-n-n-g-g-g past pretending it isn’t the “biggest threat to our national security” we face, and something more be done about it.

      Some day.. you may hear about a new “war on cybercrime”, but nobody has the interest in such a thing yet. It hobbles along, and losses are only a mere $105 BILLION a year.
      That we know about.


      Comment by techpaul | November 13, 2011 | Reply

  3. Yes Paul…I know there’s a “difference” between infected/malicious ads and Click Fraud…I made a ‘blanket statement’ …using the lingo “loosely”. referring to all the nasty cyber stuff out there. If I were making a dress and talking about a pattern, I would have to use the correct lingo…Perhaps this is an opportunity to apply the proper tech lingo in its perspective place. Thanks


    Comment by Gaia | November 13, 2011 | Reply

    • Gaia,
      I was not “correcting you”, so much as I was just being my (meticulous) self – and thinking of those who might read my reply in the future (and hinting they click the link and look it up if they don’t know..)

      If I inadvertently insulted or offended you, you have my sincere apologies .. and regrets.


      Comment by techpaul | November 13, 2011 | Reply

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