Monthly Archives: January 2010

Zemana AntiLogger Server Attacked by Bots

It’s often said that “no good deed goes unpunished”. Generally, this statement means that one can attempt to be helpful to others, and despite good intentions, end up paying an unexpected price.

That seems to be the case in Zemana’s good deed, in providing a free license for their superb security application; AntiLogger.

Over the course of the last few days, in conjunction with Zemana, Tech Thoughts, has been offering a free license for AntiLogger and the response has been very gratifying. For more information on this offer please read “Free Licenses for Zemana AntiLogger – 3 Days Only”, on this site.

Unfortunately, cybercriminals, who as we know are driven by opportunity, obviously saw in this free license giveaway, an opportunity to be disruptive by launching a distributed denial-of-service attack, driven by a bot network, against the Zemana license server.

If you’re unfamiliar this this type of attack, Wikipedia explains it, in part, as follows:

A denial-of-service attack (DoS attack) or distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS attack) is an attempt to make a computer resource unavailable to its intended users. One common method of attack involves saturating the target (victim) machine with external communications requests, such that it cannot respond to legitimate traffic, or responds so slowly as to be rendered effectively unavailable. In general terms, DoS attacks are implemented by either forcing the targeted computer(s) to reset, or consuming its resources so that it can no longer provide its intended service or obstructing the communication media between the intended users and the victim so that they can no longer communicate adequately.

image

There are very sensible business reasons why a company, such as Zemana, gets involved in this type of promotion, but at the end of the day, it’s the individual who receives a free license who benefits immediately.

While this attack has been extremely disruptive, and very inconvenient for those readers who choose to take advantage of Zemana’s generous offer, in a real sense this attack emphasizes the level of cybercriminal activity on the Internet, and the lengths to which these Neolithic idiots will go to threaten our enjoyment of the Net.

Inadvertently, those responsible for this attack have proven how important it is to ensure, that you as an Internet user are adequately protected against cybercriminal activity. The very definition of irony.

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Filed under cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Free Full Versions, Personal Perspective, Software, Software Giveaways, Windows Tips and Tools

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 31, 2010

Firefox for Mobile Makes Its Debut – Want the power and add-ons of the Firefox browser in the palm of your hands? That dream is quickly becoming a reality, starting with the Maemo OS and owners of the Nokia N900. Mozilla has officially introduced Firefox for Maemo, the first officially launched version of Firefox for Mobile.

Google phasing out support for IE6 – Starting March 1st, Internet Explorer users must be running at least version 7 of the browser in order to properly use Google Docs and Google Sites.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Google To Pay Bounties for Chrome Browser Bugs – Google has unveiled a bug-bounty program that will pay researchers $500 for each vulnerability they report in the Chrome browser and its underlying open-source code.

Is eBay facing seller revolt? – The auction site made modifications to listing fees recently that company representatives say have gone over quite well. Some members, however, say it just amounts to a big fee increase.

Adobe Plays the Porn Card in Flash Campaign Against iPad – Apple has clearly hurt Adobe’s feelings. When Steve Jobs demonstrated an iPad at Wednesday’s tablet event, its Safari browser clearly did not support Flash.

How unique and trackable is your web browser? - Is your browser configuration rare or unique ? If so, web sites may be able to track you, even if you limit or disable cookies. Panopticlick tests your browser to see how unique it is based on the information it will share with sites it visits.

3 Strikes Coming To The United States Via The Back Door? – 3 Strikes” is a regime being introduced in various countries around the world to try to deal with illicit file-sharing. Already Taiwan, South Korea and France are putting their versions of the plan into action and other countries have similar proposals under discussion. In one form or another, could the same be coming to the United States?

Windows 7’s XP Mode: what it is, how it works, who it’s for – Ars takes you inside one of Windows 7’s most talked-about and misunderstood features: Windows XP Mode. Learn what it is, how it works, and who Microsoft intended this feature for.

Off Topic:

Lifehacker: Top 10 Tips and Tools for Freelancers – Freelancing isn’t something you should just jump into, but it makes sense for a good number of workers. If you’re looking into, or getting started with, working on your own, here are 10 resources we think every freelancer can learn from.

Scientists Discover a New Form of Lightning – The lightning observed during the eruption of Mt. Redoubt in 2009, researchers have determined, is an entirely new variety. Using radio antennas, scientists noticed that the bolts were shorter, lasting only a few milliseconds, and much more frequent than typical lightning.

How to Suck at Facebook – a comic depicting the 9 worst types of Facebook users.

Today’s Quote:

“I don’t know if God exists, but it would be better for His reputation if He didn’t”.

-     Jules Renard

Today’s Free Downloads:

Picasa – Organize, edit, and share pictures with this free photo manager.

SharePod – Apple makes extracting your music from your iPod unnecessarily difficult, which is where SharePod comes in. This fast freeware tool efficiently transfers your music collection to your hard drive, making it easy to back up or restore your music, videos, and photos. It also transfers playlists, album art, and ratings, both to your hard drive and directly into iTunes.

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Filed under Beta Software, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Playing Russian Roulette With Malware

Russian roulette 1

I’m a games player, and I bet you are too. But unlike many computer users, I do not play games with my computer’s security.

I don’t play games where the odds are stacked against me, and neither should you.

Playing a game of Russian Roulette with cyber crooks on the Internet is a mugs game – the pistol is loaded with SIX bullets. Unfortunately, you get to go first, and ducking is not an option in this game.

The bad guys will win; you will lose – there is little doubt about that. But hey, you might get lucky!

Playing this game essentially consists of any of the following forms of behavior. Go ahead – try your luck!

Download files and software through file-sharing applications such as BitTorrent, eDonkey, KaZaA and other such programs.

Make sure you click links in instant messaging (IM) that have no context or are composed of only general text.

Download executable software from web sites without ensuring that the site is reputable.

Use your USB stick on public computers, or other computers that are used by more than one person.

Be sure to open email attachments from people you don’t know.

Make it a practice of opening email attachments without first scanning them for viruses.

Open email attachments that end in a file extension of .exe, .vbs, or .lnk.

Don’t worry about it – just run your Windows computer as an administrator while on the Internet. You have to play the game, right?

laptop RIP

Additional actions you can take to ensure your computer system becomes infected.

Always run programs of unknown origin.

Don’t keep all applications (including your operating system) patched.

Don’t disable Java, JavaScript, and ActiveX.

Don’t disable scripting features in email programs.

Don’t make regular backups of critical data.

Don’t make a boot disk in case your computer is damaged or compromised.

Don’t turn off file and printer sharing on the computer.

Don’t install a personal firewall on the computer.

Don’t install anti-virus and anti-spyware software and ensure it is configured to automatically update when you are connected to the Internet.

Don’t worry about making sure your anti-virus software scans all e-mail attachments.

Now, you don’t have to follow all of the above suggestions. Just follow a few, and I guarantee you – you will become infected. You will lose the game.

Oh, did I mention, if you really want to mess things up, you should surf the Net without adequate Internet Browser protection such as WOT – the best Internet browser protection available.

This article may sound facetious, and to some extent, perhaps even cynical – nevertheless, the behavior points listed, (sorry – the game rules), are often the common behaviors of a large percentage of unaware, undereducated, and less security conscious computer users.

Is it any wonder the cyber criminals are winning this game?

Don’t be a loser. Don’t play this game. Ensure you have adequate knowledge to protect yourself. If you lack this knowledge the answer is simple – get it. The Internet (including this site), can be mined for information on free protective software, and tips and hints to keep you safe.

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Filed under Browser add-ons, cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, Internet Safety, Online Safety, Windows Tips and Tools, WOT (Web of Trust)

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 30, 2010

First look at Windows Home Server – A deep look inside the pre-beta next-generation version of Windows Home Server.

10 Things Netbooks do better than the iPad – Most Netbooks, even low-end ones, now have webcams enabling basic video chat over Skype or any other program. The iPad, however, does not.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Lifehacker: Crack a Wi-Fi Network’s WEP Password with BackTrack, the Fancy Video Version – Last summer we detailed how to crack a Wi-Fi network’s WEP password using BackTrack. Now video blog Tinkernut revisits the subject with a great video step-by-step of the process.

Download Over 150 Free Advanced PowerPoint Slides to Jazz Up Your Presentations – Microsoft has released a collection of PowerPoint slide sets that show how you can push the envelope in slide design and get away from boring slides.

Survey of Executives Finds a Growing Fear of Cyberattacks – A survey of 600 computing and computer-security executives in 14 countries suggests that attacks on the Internet pose a growing threat to the energy and communication systems that underlie modern society.

Another Bogus Virus Warning Disrupts Facebook – The clever scam had Facebook users sharing and posting the bogus virus alert throughout the social networking site.

New Attack Uses Internet Explorer’s Own Features Against It – Microsoft investigating threat, considering patch, or offering guidance for protection

Off Topic:

Born to run barefoot: Is jogging barefoot a craze or just crazy? – Recent studies suggest humans running barefoot isn’t crazy at all and causes less jarring to the joints than running in sneakers. Less jarring equates to fewer injuries.

Behold The Great Light Bulb Scam! – Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFLs) are showing up everywhere. Traditional light bulbs we’ve all used are about to be a thing of the past. CFLs are another example of good intentions gone bad. It should really be called “Green Insanity”. (submitted by Dar).

Australia’s effort to ban violent games has backfired – Has the Australian government’s most recent attempt at technological book-burning backfired? Last month, the government gave the green light to controversial plans to censor the internet and now fans of computer games have started a political party to protest the censorship of globally best-selling adult games.

Microsoft To Patch Hole In Ozone – Microsoft has announced plans to deliver a half dozen security updates next Tuesday, including patches for Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player, and the hole in the Earth’s ozone layer. (submitted by Dar).

DNA Evidence Can Be Fabricated, Scientists Show – Scientists in Israel have demonstrated that it is possible to fabricate DNA evidence, undermining the credibility of what has been considered the gold standard of proof in criminal cases. (submitted by Dar).

Today’s Quote:

“History is more or less bunk.”

-     Henry Ford

Today’s Free Downloads:

InstantMask – InstantMask lets you rapidly select which portions of a photo to keep and which to discard, and gives you a perfectly trimmed image with just your subject in a plain white background.

Sikuli Automates Almost Anything with Screenshot Ease – Windows/Mac/Linux: Ever wanted to write a script for some repetitive task, but don’t know how to code? Sikuli makes it possible for pretty much anyone to automate tasks, by telling it what to do with just some screenshots and simple commands.

Giveaway of the Day: Try iCare Data Recovery to take your lost files back! – iCare Data Recovery Software is a unformat, undelete and comprehensive recovery tool to help users recover files from formatted drive like hard disk drive, external hard drive, sd card, memory card, flash drive. Besides unformat, it can bring files back when partition is unreadable, inaccessible, partition deleted, mbr damged, boot sector damaged, virus attacked.

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Filed under Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Manage Win 7 and Vista Services With Free Vista Services Optimizer

Reducing the number of running services can often turn a sluggish PC around. There’s no magic to it. Running with fewer services, especially a service that you don’t use, or need, puts less strain on both the CPU and system memory.

Tweaking services however is not without its hazards. For example, if a particular service is disabled, any other service/services that explicitly depend on it will fail to start. Worse, adjusting a service setting incorrectly has the potential to leave a computer in an unbootable condition. I know – I’ve managed to do just that, a time or two, over the years.

Recently, a free application that promises to allow a user to tweak Windows services in a safe and easy way, caught my attention. Vista Services Optimizer, an open source Windows tweaking utility, which despite its name has been optimized to run in Windows 7, makes good on this promise.

Vista Services Optimizer 1

The casual user with a few mouse clicks can easily optimize Windows services to increase performance and security, automatically. A more experienced user gets a little more leeway, and can manually tweak using a more in-depth feature list. In case your tweaking goes a step too far, recovery is just a mouse click away by simply using the built in Smart Rescue Center.

I don’t think it could be any easier to tweak Windows services than this. All the user needs to do is tick the appropriate check boxes, and Vista Services Optimizer takes care of the rest.

Vista Services Optimizer 4

Vista Services Optimizer 2

Fast facts:

System analysis highlights services that can be turned off

Automatic tune-up based on user’s system requirements

Profile building

Automatic service state snapshots

Gaming mode

Tweak your Windows services in an easy, automatic and safe way based on how you use your computer without requiring any technical knowledge.

Control Windows services in an easy, safe and advanced way without getting involved with Windows services names and dependencies.

Manual TuneUp

Services Diagnostics

Smart Rescue Center can restore default Windows services configurations in case of any problems using Services Snapshots

System requirements: Windows Vista with SP1 or higher (32-bit or 64-bit), Windows 7 (32-bit or 64-bit), Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 with Service Pack 1

Download at: Smart PC Utilities

For those who need a portable tweaker you’re in luck – a portable version is available. However, Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 with Service Pack 1, must be resident on the host machine.

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Filed under Computer Maintenance, downloads, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Software, System Tweaks, System Utilities, USB, Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 29, 2010

10 ways to detect computer malware – In the ongoing war against malware threats, you need tools that will baseline your system, detect vulnerabilities, and remove existing malware.

Is the U.S. Headed for a Cyber War? – With cyber threats from abroad coming fast and furious, how serious is the United States about going on the offensive? Military officials readily admit that government information systems are subject to constant attack from hackers domestic and abroad, with some commissioned by authorities in enemy nations.

REVIEW: avast! Free Antivirus 5.0 – You won’t recognize the latest version of the free avast! antivirus. It looks completely different and it’s got more power under the hood as well.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Google Rolls Social Search Beta Out to All Users – Google today announced that Social Search has graduated from Labs. The feature is now available in beta form to all users with a Google Profile. Once logged in and enabled, search a key term will bring up results from your friends on those networks toward the bottom of the page.

Testing AMD’s Five New CPUs – AMD is filling out its product line with five new CPUs, which offer price and performance across the spectrum. How do they compare to other AMD and Intel chips?

Identity Thieves Successfully Targeting Wealthy Victims, Study Says – Affluent individuals who live ‘the good life’ are 43 percent more likely to be victims, according to Experian.

Report: 48% of 22 million scanned computers infected with malware – The recently released APWG report shows that 48% of the 22 million scanned computers are infected with malware. Over a million and a half are infected with crimeware/banker trojans.

TechCrunch Hacked Again: Foul-Mouth Hacker Embarrasses Top Blog – The team behind one of the world’s top blogs have been left with egg on their faces after the site was hacked once again.

Off Topic:

The Problem with the Apple iPad – Steve Jobs worked his charm, attempting to wow the world with the Apple iPad, a new, super-slim computer he touted as the missing link between iPhones and laptops. It’s an undeniably beautiful device, but it also represents some serious problems.

Why You Should Think Twice About Freelancing – You’ll see a lot of encouragement to start freelancing on tech-obsessed blogs (ahem), often pitched with an eye toward some kind of ultimate freedom. The Freelance Folder blog drops a bit of work-from-home reality on would-be freelancers.

Science Channel Refuses To Dumb Down Science Any Further – Frustrated by continued demands from viewers for more awesome and extreme programming, Science Channel president Clark Bunting told reporters Tuesday that his cable network was “completely incapable” of watering down science any further than it already had.

Why we hear better than our parents did – It’s all that rock music, you see. Whether you were into the Dead, Springsteen or Blondie, the concerts you went to were loud and often ran long. You probably heard from your parents you would go deaf listening to that stuff. The concerns were valid, but it was your parents who were going deaf.

Today’s Quote:

“An economist is a man who states the obvious in terms of the incomprehensible”.

-     Alfred A. Knopf

Today’s Free Downloads:

Weave 1.0 Syncs Nearly Everything About Your Firefox Setup – Mozilla’s out with the 1.0 of its Weave project, and it delivers on what it first promised—quiet, complete syncing of bookmarks, passwords, preferences, history, and even open tabs. It also heralds the coming of a really cool mobile experience.

Giveaway of the Day: Online Armor, Defeats Threats That Antivirus Apps Miss! – Online Armor is known to one of the best if not the best desktop Firewall’s available and so it made sense to combine it with a leading Anti-virus scanning engine. As well as virus you will be able to scan, detect and delete Malware and Rootkits. Online Armor is usually 59.95 USD and for the next 24 hours you can get it Free.

Google Chrome – Google Chrome is a browser that combines a minimal design with sophisticated technology to make the Web faster, safer, and easier. Use one box for everything–type in the address bar and get suggestions for both search and Web pages.

Google Voice Notifier – The Google Voice extension for Google Chrome adds a button to the toolbar, which displays the number of unread messages in your Google Voice inbox.

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Filed under Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

WinPatrol – Today Only 99 Cents (A Great Addition to Your Geek Toolbox)

image Do you want to get a better understanding of what programs are being added to your computer? Then WinPatrol, a neat system utility that’s compatible with Windows 95 through to Windows 7, is the program for you.

WinPatrol monitors system areas that malicious programs must attack and use. If anything changes, Scotty (the system tray Icon) will alert you.

WinPatrol to go 1

In most cases, it will be a legitimate program you have recently installed. You can decide to keep it, remove it, or disable it, based on information provided by WinPatrol.

WinPatrol to go 2

Fast facts:

Remove Un-Wanted Auto Start crapware.

Disable Un-Needed Automatic Windows Services

Remove Annoying Toolbars and BHO’s

Create Reports that provide a snapshot of potential problems

Disable ActiveX Controls & MORE!

Compatible with Windows 95 – Windows 7

There are a host of additional features that make WinPatrol a very powerful addition to your security toolbox.

Take a look at the following from the developer’s site:

Enhanced Keylogger Detection

The use of keyloggers for illegal purposes has exploded. A Schenectady man was recently jailed for up to three years for felony eavesdropping after putting a keylogger on his wife’s computer. I’ve heard too many stories of abuse made possible due to keyloggers so it’s time for it to stop. While WinPatrol PLUS had always detected keyloggers we’ve enhanced this feature and it’s now available to free users so everyone is protected.

Optimized Detection of New Services

As more and more programs move to the Windows Service model it become apparent that this may be a popular avenue of attack in the future. The routine used to monitor and detect new Window Services has been optimized to make this process transparent.

Decrease CPU Usage and Conflicts

Conflicts with some other registry intense programs may have resulted in abnormally high CPU usage on past versions. WinPatrol 14 includes some intelligent routines to allow complete protection without fighting over resources with other security suites and system level programs.

Default -expressboot option

WinPatrol now includes a -expressboot option which will be used when machines boot up for the first time. This new feature optimizes boot time and allows other applications to maximize their initialization routines.

Regular Registry Cleanup

Some registry cleaners have complained that we don’t clean up some data stored in the registry quickly enough. This version will remove information that is no longer needed and “First Detected” information on a regular basic when the file no longer exists.

Download at: BillP Studios

For a comprehensive security article on this Blog, “The Top 10 Free Security Applications Your Security Toolbox Can’t be Without!” –  Click here.

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Filed under downloads, Geek Software and Tools, System File Protection, System Security, System Tweaks, System Utilities, Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP