Tech – for Everyone

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

So What’s New In The World?

For the past several days, I have been noticing that my Spyware Doctor has been downloading new “definitions”.

Nothing unusual there. You want your protection to keep itself updated. But what did strike me as unusual was that there has been two or three large downloads each day. That is a lot of activity. Which (probably) means the hackers¹ are active. Due to that, I have been keeping a closer eye on my InfoSec news headlines. Here’s a few that might interest you…

* Cyber crime ringleader sentenced to five years in prison

One of the masterminds behind the infamous “Operation Phish Phry” was sentenced by a district judge to five years in prison for her part in the international ring.Read more..

So.. by miracle, they actually catch one of these *people*…
And give them a 5 year sentence (out in 3?).
Crime pays?

Do you remember MySpace? Some people used it, I have heard.

* MySpace settles with FTC after misleading users

After being charged by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) with sharing its users’ personal information, including browsing habits, with advertisers, social networking service MySpace has agreed to settle…Read more..

As part of the settlement, MySpace must undergo biennial audits for the next 20 years and is blocked from making future privacy misrepresentations of its users’ information.

Ewww… scary punishment. (And this is when you get caught.)
Hmmm.. Graft pays? (“Graft” is not the right word.. um.. hmmm.. “deception”?)

* MySpace employee fired for stealing info

An employee of the social networking site MySpace was recently fired after collecting the sensitive data of co-workers.

How many victims? Unknown.

What type of personal information? Names, Social Security numbers and compensation information.Read more..

Fired? Hmmm… do we need to bring back tar and feathered?

And closer to home..

* Data on 700K California home care workers, recipients lost

The personal information of home care workers and their elderly and disabled recipients may have been compromised when the storage device on which it was contained was lost in the mail.

How many victims? 700,000

What type of personal information? Full names, Social Security numbers, wages, and state identification numbers.Read more..

(Paul bangs forehead on desk.) (Can you say “encryption”?)

Keeping a sharp eye out: You can barely notice Google’s warning – in fact, you have to be actively looking for it, it is so obscure – but it seems the popular Urban Dictionary website has may have been “hacked” (aka “compromised”, aka “poisoned”)…

click on me

To find out what it means when you see that on a Search result, click here.

Be nice if Google made those warnings a little more NOTICEABLE wouldn’t it? (But doing so might erode Consumer Confidence.)

*     *     *

Watching these headlines for years… I think I am becoming a wee bit discouraged. Most discouraging? Nobody seems to care.

¹ You do know the media term “hacker” means “cyber criminal”.. right?

Be careful online folks. Use good healthy paranoid common sense. Keep your anti-malware up-to-date (even you Mac owners). And try not to give too much of your PII (personally identifiable information) away.. clowns will just lose it in the mail. Or store it on a server running unpatched Win2K..

Happy Monday.

“… it would be wise to proceed with caution.” ~ Google

Related: Report says cyber security still takes a backseat for major companies

While they are some of the most distinguished enterprises in the world, and considered big targets for cyber attacks, the report indicates that top-level management at the firms still neglect suitable governance over the “security of their digital assets.Read more..

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Today’s quote:If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.” ~ George S. Patton

Copyright 2007-2012 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

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All we really have, in the end, are our stories.
Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.

May 21, 2012 Posted by | computers, cyber crime, hackers, Internet, News | , , , , | 2 Comments

Friday Fun?

Before I do anything else today, I would like to recommend this read.

* CISPA: more heinous than SOPA, and it just passed

There’s still time to take this bill down. Read, learn, and then let your Congress-Critters know that, once again, We The Internet will not stand for these assaults on our rights.Read more..

Despite the outbreak of sunshine here, I have to confess that the reading I do – to keep my finger on the pulse of tech – has been quite discouraging. And that has been true for several years now. Just from what landed in my Inbox today, I could post two dozen articles that (I am pretty sure) would discourage you, too. Such as:

Thanks to weak passwords, Conficker worm still rampant

Detection numbers continue to rise for the infamous Conficker worm within enterprises, even though there is a patch available and no new variants have appeared in two years.” (I ask you to think about that. It might change your definition of “IT Professional”..)

US Makes No Progress on Cybersecurity

Featured News: Russian cyber crime market more organized, lucrative

Traditional mafia groups are entering the cyber crime scene in Russia, which is leading to more centralization and professionalization — and bigger profits.

Like, I said, that is just a few headlines.
Just today.

We live in interesting times.

Your antivirus is up-to-date, and you use good passwords.. right? (And.. not the same one for everything???)

So. Fersher I need some Friday Fun. And I need to get outside and into the sunshine.

*     *     *

Today’s quote:You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Yeah. Sure. Uh Huh:

‘Cuz that’s how we like it, quick & easy.

Copyright 2007-2012 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

>> Folks, don’t miss an article! To get Tech – for Everyone articles delivered to your e-mail Inbox, click here, or to subscribe in your RSS reader, click here. <<

All we really have, in the end, are our stories.
Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.

April 27, 2012 Posted by | computers, cyber crime, Internet, News, tech | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Items Of Interest | Latest Social Networking Craze | March Is Half Over?!

Some things you might wanna know…

* Pinterest’s popularity attracts cyber scammers

“Pinterest is the latest social networking craze — and that means cyber criminals aren’t going to let you share images of your favorite summer sandals, button bracelets and vegan cupcakes in peace.

According to Symantec researchers, miscreants have begun flocking to the fast-growing virtual pinboard. Instead of posting images that lead to legitimate websites, these scammers are pinning alluring bait, such as offers claiming to give away a free $100 gift card.” Read more..

* 16 reasons NOT to buy a new iPad

With the U.S. and nine other countries awaiting the 8am arrival of the latest iPad, David Gewirtz attempts to shut down Apple’s reality distortion field and save you some money.” Read more..

(“Reality Distortion Field”. That’s one way to phrase it..)

* Why does my computer stalk me with pictures of shoes I shouldn’t buy?

For the past two days the shoes I thought I’d gotten out of my system have been stalking me relentlessly across the Internet.Read more..

(On this one, the comments are readworthy, too.)

Echidnas are one of few mammals to lay eggs.

* The Encyclopaedia Britannica is going out of print

“It was probably inevitable, but on Tuesday, it became official: the Encyclopaedia Britannica is finally going out of print.” Read more..

(Apparently.. some people care…)(In case nobody has told you yet, books [with paper] are living fossils [aka “dead man walking”].)

The lastest from Fred Langa:
* Step by step: How to safely test-drive Win8

Using safe, free virtual PC software, you can set up and run the Windows 8 Consumer Preview inside your current PC without affecting your other programs or your installed version of Windows.

This method lets you test-drive Windows 8 without having to make potentially risky changes to your current setup. There’s no need for dual-booting, special partitions, and so on.” Read more..

* You do know the IRS is not going to send you an email, right? (Tis the season of tax/refund scam emails. [Just delete any emails you see claiming to be from them.])

*     *     *

Today’s quote:The promises of this world are, for the most part, vain phantoms; and to confide in one’s self, and become something of worth and value is the best and safest course.” ~ Michelangelo

Copyright 2007-2012 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

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March 15, 2012 Posted by | advice, computers, cyber crime, hackers, how to, Internet, Internet scam, News, security, Windows 8 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Steve Jobs Steps Down

Yesterday, I heard that Steve Jobs resigned as CEO of Apple.

I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.

Not surprisingly, Jobs’ resignation was big news, and media outlets all over the country seized on the story. Newspaper front pages all over the country featured Jobs’ photo, with some taking a somber tone and others going the pun route: iQuit and iResign, for example.

Our ‘big city paper’, The San Francisco Chronicle, featured a large Apple logo with Jobs in shadow. “Steve Jobs steps down as CEO, leaving the tech world – and fans of the products he dreamed up – wondering what Apple will be without him.” (Their story was full of hype-erbole..)

It was kind of fun watching all the articles get posted as word spread.. and reading some of the comments the public posted as well.

I am not an iPerson, and won’t have anything to do with Apple products more than what is required to perform my duties as a repair technician. I am not knocking these products, so no need to write in and school me. But I mention it as some of the speculation on the web is that Apple will fade away without Steve Jobs at the helm.. a world without Apple. And iGadgets.

I absolutely hate intensely dislike talking heads who predict the future, so I won’t be one. I will not tell you what Jobs’ resignation means… or even what I think it means. I will say that it is MHO that there’s no reason to go dumping your Apple stock, just yet, should you own any ¹. And I will share some articles that look at this ‘news’ (anyone caught off guard by this, hasn’t been paying attention).

Steve Jobs resigns as Apple CEO – FAQ

“You’ve got questions about Steve Jobs’ resignation – I’ve got answers!” Read more..

Apple’s Past And Future: Analysis Around The Web

“As Steve Jobs resigns, we all wonder what the next chapter will be for the technology company like no other. Here’s a look at historic moments and pending questions.” Read more..

And of course, many articles are posted on Apple Insider..

No, I won’t predict the future, but I will look at the past. And I will say that – even though I am not an iFan – Steve Jobs was a trendsetter, a pioneer, tech “maverick”, and one of the original few who made “tech”, the PC, and the Internet, evolve into parts of our homes and our daily lives (aka “changed the world”). I think it is safe to say, Apple would have faded away years ago without him.
I’ll go further.. it’s hard for me to think of anyone current (or recent past) with his talent for marketing.

Today’s quote:Enjoy when you can, and endure when you must.” ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

¹ It seems I need to be more clear: I was using that solely as a “figure of speech” and am in no way a financial consultant, stock market expert, nor do I have any “insider knowledge”. It was my way of saying “I don’t think you should panic, Apple lovers”. Nothing more. Repeat: nothing. (I am a humble computer repair tech..)

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

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August 25, 2011 Posted by | Backups, computers, News | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

In the news

Twitter spam campaign linked to Gawker breach

A massive spam campaign that rapidly spread on Twitter has been linked to a data breach at online media company Gawker.

On Sunday, Gawker disclosed that its servers were compromised by hackers to steal readers’ emails and passwords* belonging to its properties, including Lifehacker, Gizmodo, Gawker, Jezebel, io9, Jalopnik, Kotaku, Deadspin, and Fleshbot.

Firefox 3.6.13 issued to fix 13 flaws, 11 “critical”

Mozilla on Thursday issued an updated version of its Firefox web browser to fix 13 vulnerabilities, most of which were labeled “critical.”

The update, Firefox 3.6.13 and 3.5.16, fixes 11 critical flaws that could result in a remote attacker installing malicious software on victim machines, according to Mozilla’s security advisory. Of the remaining bugs, one was rated “high” in severity, and another “moderate.”

In all, the vulnerabilities could allow an attacker to execute arbitrary code, operate with elevated privileges, or spoof the location bar*, according to an advisory posted Friday by the US-CERT.

Hackers access UW-Madison computer systems

Hackers infiltrated the University of Wisconsin (UW)-Madison computer systems and accessed the personal information of tens of thousands of individuals affiliated with the college.

Zeus botnet targeting Macy’s, Nordstrom account holders

A new Zeus botnet is targeting the credit card accounts of several major U.S. retailers*, including Macy’s and Nordstrom, according to researchers at online banking security firm, Trusteer.

Microsoft to address IE, Stuxnet flaws, 38 others

Two publicly known issues are expected to be addressed Tuesday when Microsoft releases 17 patches to correct 40 product vulnerabilities.

I have cautioned you, Dear Reader, that we are smack-dab in the middle of Prime Cybercrime Season, and to be on the lookout for online con artists and thieves. (Be sure to read, Beware “The Twelve Scams of Christmas”, if you haven’t already.)

Related: Because those stories came from just one newsletter I get, and are for just this week (and headlines like these are commonplace) I hope you’ll look at my article The Internet Is Not Disneyland.

* emphasis mine. Do you know what a “spoofed address bar” is? The address bar is your browser’s ‘toolbar’ with the window that shows the URL of the website you are on.. the “;.. a “spoofed bar” would be an identical-looking overlay, put on by the hacker, which showed what they wanted you to see.
This is the kind of stuff that makes me wonder when we are going to get serious, and declare war on these folks. Is it just me, or is it no wonder we’re loosing hundreds of billions a year to them?

What will it take, I wonder?

Copyright 2007-2010 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

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December 14, 2010 Posted by | computers, Internet, security | , , , , | 4 Comments

April Fools — 2009

april-fool “April Fools’ Day has hit the Internet and, as usual, there’s no shortage of fake news stories, gag product announcements, and corny jokes. Some are funny. Some are sort of lame attempts at being funny. Here are some of the ones we think are worth highlighting, and we’ll be updating this throughout the day as we catch wind of more.”
April Fools 2009: Flying hotels, 3D browsing, fake mergers, and more

Oh, that’s right.. I forgot. You can’t see this to click the link. Conficker has disabled everybody’s machines…

Today’s free download: PC Tools AntiVirus 6
From the same folks who bring you the top-rated Spyware Doctor and Threatfire anti-malware apps, this free heuristic antivirus also scans your e-mail.
“PC Tools AntiVirus provides world-leading protection against viruses, worms and Trojans with rapid updates and IntelliGuard™ technology.”
No joke. I don’t kid around about Internet dangers.

April 1, 2009 Posted by | antivirus, tech | , , , , , , | 2 Comments