Tech – for Everyone

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

Hacker Theft Could be the Largest Credit Card Crime in History

Hackers breach Heartland Payment credit card system

Heartland Payment Systems hpy on Tuesday disclosed that intruders hacked into the computers it uses to process 100 million payment card transactions per month for 175,000 merchants. The number of victims is still unknown.

Heartland’s disclosure coincides with reports of heightened criminal activities involving stolen payment card numbers. Security firm CardCops has been tracking a 20% year-over-year increase in Internet chat room activity where hackers test batches of payment card numbers to make sure that they’re active.

To read the full news story, click here.

My two cents: This is why, folks, you don’t want to get all excited about “cloud computing”, or allow your governments to create large “databases”.. like a “national health registry”, or “crime database”.. and why I don’t use “online backup” to store my files.
Why trust someone else’s server? The Conficker outbreak shows you how well servers get patched..

I feel bad for the folks at HPS.. the cost to “clean this up” is going to be astounding.. For more on that see, Credit card hackers find new, rich targets.

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved. post to jaanix

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January 22, 2009 Posted by | computers, cyber crime, News, tech | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Dirty Little Secret

You would know if someone was using your social security number, right? Well, maybe not.. in fact, probably not. The folks who know are probably legally barred from telling you.
No matter what your political leanings, or feelings on the immigration issue are, there’s a dirty little secret I think you ought to be aware of.

Bob Sullivan’s Red Tape Chronicles (“Corporate sneakiness. Government waste. Technology run amok. Outright scams. The Red Tape Chronicles is MSNBC.com’s effort to unmask these 21st Century headaches and offer real solutions that save you time and money.”) wrote an eye-opening article,
HIDDEN COST OF ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION: ID THEFT

Here’s a link to Bob discussing this issue on camera. (Requires Flash)
Immigration and ID theft
Immigration and ID theft

Today’s free link: and here’s a resource if you are concerned about ID Theft, or need some help because you, or someone you know, are a victim. IDTheftAwareness.com

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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July 22, 2008 Posted by | privacy, security, tech | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Grand Theft Auto IV unleashed

There are many happy people out there today. They’re happy because the long wait for the next Grand Theft Auto is over. GTA 4 is now available for the Xbox and Playstation game consoles.

Developed by Rockstar North, and distributed by Take-Two Interactive, GTA 4 is the ninth release of this hugely popular title, and the first of its “fourth generation”. This reworked and ‘new’  generation of GTA’s features a new environment (modeled on NY city) and has graphics and gameplay that the gaming magazines and review sites are giving their highest scores. (Some have called the game “nearly perfect”.)
IGN rated the game a 10 out of 10 in nearly every category, and awarded it its Editor’s Choice… and a reviewer says, “Every facet of Rockstar’s new masterpiece is worthy of applause.
It is Rated M (for mature).

* This will put parents in a tough spot– your kid will want this game.. really, really badly.

You may have heard of “Grand Theft Auto”.. the name may be ringing some bells. Why? Because Grand Theft Auto (particularly the title San Andreas) is the poster child for video games being too violent, leading to the erosion of civic morality, and being a cause of the increase in crime.
Grand Theft Auto has been called a “murder simulator”.. and “How to be a gangster 101”. When some ultra-Right winger calls for the banning of video games, they invariably trot out Grand Theft Auto– San Andreas as their cause célèbre… and point out that in the game, you gain points for killing policemen.

* If you’re a parent, and you have a kid not old enough to buy this game themselves, and they’re begging you to get it for them, they will show you articles about how Rockstar has changed its ways and toned all this down in GTA IV. Such as, “it’s gone legit. Oh sure, you’ll still blow up cop cars, run down innocent civilians, bang hookers, assist drug dealers and lowlifes and do many, many other bad deeds, but at a cost to main character Niko Bellic’s very soul. GTA IV gives us characters and a world with a level of depth previously unseen in gaming and elevates its story from a mere shoot-em-up to an Oscar-caliber drama.” (from IGN)

Folks, I have not played any of the GTA series; they simply haven’t appealed to me. I am not going to label it “good” nor “bad”. I will tell you this, GTA 4 is expected to set new records for game sales.

I am not going to tell you how to raise your child.

I am not going to speculate, nor debate, whether there’s too much violence and realism in video games.. and whether or not this has some detrimental psychological effect on those who play them.

I am just going to say this: in this particular instance, there are very good reasons why there’s a “Rated M” on the box.

Today’s free link: for those of you who need to replace the expired “trial” antivirus, and want a free replacement, Avira AntiVir Personal Edition is a good choice (if for some reason you’re not happy with the new AVG, for instance).

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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April 28, 2008 Posted by | advice, computers, Gaming, Sony PlayStation, tech, Xbox 360 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Can’t use their thumb drive at work–Reader Question

A reader e-mailed me a question I believe will be of interest to other readers of this series. He wants to use a thumb drive to transfer files between his computer at his work and his home computer, but the work computer will not recognize the thumb drive. He wanted advice on how to fix this.

Q: My thumb drive works great at home, but when I took it into work to try and copy some files so I could work at home, I plug it in and the little window never opens so I cannot use it. What am I doing wrong?
A: There are several possible reasons for this, and here’s a few things to try:
* One may be that Windows is “recognizing” the device, but isn’t displaying the little “Found new hardware” balloon for some reason (such as a Service isn’t running). Open My Computer, Start >My Computer, (just “Computer” in Vista) and look for the drive there. If it’s there, great, just double-click it, but if it’s not…

* Try plugging the drive into a different USB port. It is possible that the one you tried has “gone bad”. (It helps if you use an open port on the machine, and not use a hub.) If that isn’t it…

* Ask your company’s IT department if USB volumes have been disabled. Many companies are turning off USB access to iPods/Media Players and thumb drives (storage devices) in an effort to prevent “data leakage”.. which is a fancy way of saying, preventing the employees from walking out the door with the Company Secrets. If this is indeed the case, you can ask that an exception be made in your case. If your request is granted, they will re-“enable” USB storage devices on your machine.
But if that isn’t it…

* It is possible that the drive letter your thumb drive is pre-disposed to being assigned (say, “E:” or “F:”), is being used by another device or “share” on the company network, and so it isn’t being seen as a volume (aka “drive”).. you’ll have a volume, but without a drive letter, Windows won’t “see” it and you can’t use it.
a) Right-click on My Computer and select “Manage” from the context menu.
b) click the “+” sign next to “Storage” to expand the tree, and then click on “Disk Management”.
You will now see all the volumes on your computer..
DMang

This screenshot  shows that I have two volumes/drives, and that they both have been assigned drive letters [(C:) and (D:)] — this means they’re “recognized” and fully functional. What we’re looking for in our thumb drive issue is a volume that does not have a letter.

c) If you see one (that will be the troublesome thumb drive), right-click on it and select “Change Drive Letter and Paths…” from the context menu. A small window will open.
d) click on the “Add” button, and another small window will open. Use the drop-down arrow next to “Assign the following drive letter” and choose one of the letters (those shown will be “available” letters on the company network). It really doesn’t matter which letter you choose. Then click “OK”, and “OK” again.

You should now be back in business, and you can use the thumb drive as you’re used to. Open My Computer again and you’ll see the thumb drive and double-clicking it will open it up.

* If these steps fail to allow Windows to see the USB thumb drive, submit a trouble ticket to your company’s IT department.

Today’s free link: Once upon a time, the visionaries of IT thought that the answer to creating a “paperless society”, and getting all the disparate machine types talking to each other, was the PDF (portable document format). The PDF was to be create-able by anyone and readable by anyone, but Adobe didn’t see much profit in that… If you find that you need to create a PDF, but don’t have Acrobat or Word 2007, you can do so by downloading PrimoPDF, which can convert over 300 formats into .pdf’s.

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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April 7, 2008 Posted by | add device, advice, computers, hardware, how to, PC, Plug and Play, tech, troubleshooting, USB storage devices, Windows | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments