Saturday, August 13, 2005

Software helps you stop being a jerk

I don't know. Somtimes being a jerk is useful. I think I'd like one of these to help my "I'm not interested in whatever your selling voice" for those few calls that slip under the Do Not Call List radar.

Man Convicted in Huge Computer-Theft Case

"Prosecutors said Levine and his company stole 1.6 billion customer records — the equivalent of 550 telephone books filled with names, e-mail and postal addresses. The government did not charge anyone with identity theft."

... smiling and humming "Another One Bites the Dust".

Sunbeltblog: CoolWebSearch issues statement

The Response to threatened legal action by CWS, by the company that discovered it. "Sunbelt has never said this keylogger was coming from CWS. We said exactly the following: 'This keylogger is not CoolWebSearch. It was discovered during a CoolWebSearch (CWS) infestation, but it actually is its own sophisticated criminal little trojan that’s independent of CWS.'

Alex Eckelberry"

I am APPALLED that CoolWebSearch threatened legal action when allegedly accused of a "new spyware identity theft ring". What part did they object to? Does this mean every OTHER thing ever put on the internet, about cool web search, is true?

{caveat} the opinions expressed here are my own. ;)

Security Advisory: Srv.SSA-KeyLogger

Here's some more about the "latest" key logger and there's a download to check your system for it. It seems to just exploit IE, so far....

" The spyware keylogger, named Srv.SSA-KeyLogger is a backdoor program that injects a process into Internet Explorer that opens various ports through which it monitors for certain values typed using your keyboard (i.e.; specific characters, numbers, etc.). When it encounters any of the values for which it is searching, it saves the keystrokes into a text file. When the file reaches a certain size, Srv.SSA-KeyLogger, sends a notification packet with the key stroke information to a Web site so the information can be easily accessed by the person(s) stealing the information. After which, it repeats the process."


A Short Take on Grid Computing

I get asked about grid computing surprisingly often, considering that I really only deal with smaller businesses. This article explains it quite well, along with the benefits and pitfalls of depending on a grid. It also explains just why grids haven't lept to the fore. (Hint; it has to do with money.)

It's a short read and an easy one. Well worth the time.


Friday, August 12, 2005

Its a two fer Friday :)

E-mail wiretap case can proceed, court says

"In a closely watched case governing Internet privacy, a federal appeals court has reinstated a criminal case against an e-mail provider accused of violating wiretap laws. .....
The case deals with an indictment of Bradford Councilman, formerly vice president of online bookseller Interloc, which is now part of Alibris.

Interloc provided some of its customers, typically dealers of rare or used books, with e-mail addresses ending in "" Councilman allegedly ordered the creation of a Procmail script, which saved copies of inbound messages from sent to those specialty book dealers, in hopes of gaining commercial intelligence. (Procmail is a popular Unix utility used for sorting and delivering incoming e-mail.) "

As an admin, what do you think of this? And from the opposite side, in my opinion,on this issue specifically to further commatize *grin*, what's the effect on privacy?
And the second item, as promised in the Title:
Mac Hacks Allow OS X on PCs
"Imagine if your next Mac cost you only $300, and ran faster than any G4 or G5 you've ever used.

That future may already be unfolding: Hackers have found a way to bypass a chip designed to prevent the Mac OS from running on non-Apple PCs, which are often cheaper than Macs. "
So, who's gonna do a geek speak on this? ;)


A look at Vista and MS vs. Google, who won?

Desktop Pipeline | A New Vista: Microsoft Releases Vista Beta 1
I am encouraged by the security improvements and RSS, and it is a beta, so there's still room for improvement. I'm amazed at the VRAM required (128MB and supposedly it gracefully degrades the display with less VideoRAM, and wonder what this is gonna do for prices on Video cards/VideoRAM.....

Techies face off at Golden Penguin Bowl


Thursday, August 11, 2005

DDR2 Shipments Now Outpaces DDR

Samsung, the largest DDR memory producer, says the crossover occurred last month. That suggests the price of DDR2 memory will decline at an accelerating rate.

U.S. Copyright Office poll: IE-only OK?

Browser incompatibility rears its ugly head once again. Wouldn't it be nice if all browsers adhered to the same standards. There is no one entity to blame for this situation.

Even when the copyright office upgrades, Safari will be left out. However, I don't think Siebel truly has thousands of browsers to deal with. How about the top 10? How about making sure the major Apple browser, Safari, is included?

New scam asks people to fax away data

Just when you thought you knew how they were doing it. It is not uncommon for banks, etc. to ask you to fax them a signed form. The difference is that you have initiated that transaction.

While those who succumb to advance fee fraud, do so out of greed -- something for nothing, those who succumb to this do so from fear and from a willingness to help. In some ways this is a "your mother is sick and you need to go with me" scam. The scam itself is not new, but the implementation is.

The good news is that people have become very aware of e-mail phishing. So much so that the bad guys are trying a new tactic.

The bad new is that surreptitious trojans and worms seem to be the most effective. They are also more difficult to detect and to guard against.

Background: Multi-Core Processors Need Multi-Threaded Applications

OK, I will concede that there are enough processes doing things in a modern computing environment that a dual-processor will benefit most online users. However, the real benefit comes when applications are re-written to expect multiple processors -- while still working on uni-processors. By 2010, 16-way multi-processors will be approaching mainstream volumes. With so many processor cores, the need to spread work over multiple processors will probably swing back away from modular, thread-based computing.

Developers face two challenges in renewing today's code:
  1. Microsoft Windows Vista uses a new programming model and almost mandataes a complete rewrite of code for GUI and communications code -- and later, the file system when Win FS arrives.
  2. Commercial applications including games will be under competitive pressure to take advantage of the soon-to-be free extra processors from the likes of AMD and Intel.

The article blogged here is a good technical backgrounder on the issues programmers face in rewriting code for a multi-processor environment.

IBM Blade Servers are Pressuring Competition

IBM licensed Intel's blade technology a couple of years ago and married it with IBM's own BladeCenter. This combination is now taking market share on an accelerating basis. The reasons to assume ongoing success include a double-digit cost advantage over traditional 1U and 2U rack-mounted servers, up to 4 processors on a blade, and well-conceived power management that reduces HVAC costs and infrastructure requirements.

My preferred architecture for most applications going forward is simple:
  • A blade-based server farm. IBM is the leader in blade technology.
  • A storage-area network (SAN) that eliminates direct-connect server disks. Low-costs SANs now start at $5,000. Here I lean towards EMC/Dell.

Copyright Office poll: IE-only OK?

This CNet article details how the US Copyright office wants to set up a service through a web site accessible only with Internet Explorer 5.01 and above, until some indeterminate time when they upgrade their back-end software to a version which can handle other browsers.

So much for web standards, eh?

I would think our government would set themselves up to where they were not in an exclusionary position toward anyone who might need to avail themselves of it's services. Guess I was wrong.


Wednesday, August 10, 2005

PC card promises end to crash nightmare

While this does not look like the be-all and end-all of data protection, it's intriguing and seems an economical insurance. Have a look.

Thanks to JohnB for the link.


Anti-MS Group Aims to Block Vista

Here's another one from JohnB.

I'm going to pass on commenting except to say this is the sort of thing some folks get up to when they find out the earth isn't flat.


MS Gives Up on Anti-Piracy Moves

This one is from JohnB.

Microsoft has given up on their "Windows Genuine Advantage" now, which was supposed to restrict updates to less than legal copies of their operating systems. Almost immediately, several schemes for bypassing the controls appeared on the web. Evidently, it was a rather easy hack and approachable from several directions. One has to wonder why Microsoft bothered.


Tips: PC Magazine Solves 10 Common PC Problems

The Ten Biggest Problems in Computing and How We'll Solve Them
Check this page daily for additions:
  1. It's Too Easy to Get Hacked, Infected, and Spammed
  2. Software Is Too Buggy and Unreliable
  3. Identity Theft Is Out of Control
  4. It's Impossible to Find Stuff
  5. My Downloads Won't Fit on My Hard Drive
  6. Notebook Battery Life Is Too Short
  7. Surfing the Web Is Too Slow
  8. My PC Isn't Fast Enough
  9. Wireless Web Connections are Spotty and Unreliable
  10. I'm Drowning in Cables

Sunbelt blog posts about the keylogger

A bit of additional information about Joe's post on the keylogger, from the blog of the company that publicized it. In my opinion, this just reinforces how important firewalls, and updating your Windows OS are to keep you as secure as possible. Perhaps a new meaning to ASAP? :)


The NYC take on WAP's

From WCBS AM NYC. Also some audio of the same story there. Are you secure? Hope so.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Microsoft Settles Spam-King Suit

Scotty Richter was a major spam king. Hopefully Microsoft will put some of his ill gotten gains to good use. I hope that this really has caused Richter to go straight, but it is hard to trust someone who has spammed so many for so long.

Remember to do your Windows Updates todat 8/9/05

There are 8 new updates for WindowsXP Pro out today.

Stealing your neighbor's Internet? Experts urge caution - Aug. 9, 2005

Is your wireless network secure? Or are you supplying you neighbor's with free internet access?
This thanks to JonathanM

There IS Such a Thing as Jinxed Computer Users, Honest!

We techs have been saying this for years and now we have some University research to back us up.

Every one of us knows at least one user who can screw up a machine just by being in the same room. I serve several of these folks, myself. I know one guy to whom "drag and drop" equates "drag and crash", even on a Mac or a well set up XP box!

It's a short article at The Inquirer with a link to more info.


Monday, August 08, 2005

Extra daylight savings may confuse the gadgets

From the "why can't we just pick a time and use it department" comes this article about the possible consequences of messing with daylight savings time.

Of course, we'd all like an extra hour of night or weekend minutes, he he.

Darl speaks, er writes and we listen, er read

"'Is SCO a company that is really focused on innovating products and technology or are you just hoping to win a lawsuit against IBM and then ride off into the sunset?' 'Isn't SCO just all about defeating Linux?' Of course we are innovating and we absolutely want to defeat Linux, just as we want to defeat any other competitor."

And so forth...

ID theft ring hits 50 banks, firm says | Tech News on ZDNet

ID theft ring hits 50 banks, firm says | Tech News on ZDNet: "A major identity theft ring has been discovered that affects up to 50 banks, according to Sunbelt Software, the security company that says it uncovered the operation. "
Are you protected from spyware?

An XP Boot CD from BartPE

Courtesy of the LangaList. Which is a superb newsletter in my opinion.
To quote Fred: "In all, I think the latest BartPE is one of the best, if not *the* best, foundation for a CD-based repair/recovery toolkit I've seen to date. With native NTFS support, plus support for networking, file sharing, and Remote Desktop Connections, it's powerful and flexible, and yet the XP-derived interface makes it familiar and easy to use."


When Pigs Wi-Fi NY times

From NY Times.
Thought this was interesting. Perhaps even a little frightening. Instant fingerprint checks.

Microsoft Security Bulletin Advance Notification

6 Security bulletins, requires a restart, also.

Plus virii(?) coming for Vista

That didn't take long did it.....


[Update:] MS Security has a blog, courtesy of Scoble, I found this correction of a virus for Vista.
Welcome to the Microsoft Security Response Center Blog! : A virus for Windows Vista? Wrong.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

OnComputers Radio show Podcast 08-07-05

This is the On Computers Radio show podcast for 08-07-2005. If you prefer, you can download the same file here via ftp.

FCC Rule Allows FBI to Design Wiretap Friendly Internet Services

According to the article:

"CALEA, a law passed in the early 1990s, mandated that all telephone providers build tappability into their networks, but expressly ruled out information services like broadband. Under the new ruling from the FCC, this tappability now extends to Internet broadband providers as well.

Practically, what this means is that the government will be asking broadband providers - as well as companies that manufacture devices used for broadband communications – to build insecure backdoors into their networks, imperiling the privacy and security of citizens on the Internet. It also hobbles technical innovation by forcing companies involved in broadband to redesign their products to meet government requirements."

Read the rest of this and be appalled.