Monthly Archives: August 2010

Aussie or Kiwi? – Stay Clear Of This McDonald’s Survey Phishing Scam

image Would you fill out a survey, sponsored by McDonald’s, if they paid you 90 dollars for doing it? I’ll go out on a limb here and say – yes you would.  :)  Just like most offers that sound overly attractive though – this offer is a scam.

Jump into this one, and you’ll stand a good chance of losing your credit card information. So, no 90 dollars; just a real messy credit cleanup to look forward to.

According to Symantec Hosted Services unit, MessageLabs Intelligence, this scam (so far limited to Australia and New Zealand), is not only plausible, but in appearance, it could easily pass for the real thing.

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Image courtesy of Symantec.

Filling out the survey form really isn’t the hook – that comes later. Clicking on the “proceed” link (this is where you get the 90 bucks), opens the following screen.

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Image courtesy of Symantec.

If, at this point, you don’t hear a loud WTF, resonating in your head – you’re about to become a cyber crime victim.

The rest of us (non Australian or New Zealanders), shouldn’t be complacent because, for the moment, this scam is appearing only in that part of the world. If this scam works there, and I suspect it will work very well, there’s little doubt it will soon be on it’s way to you’re inbox.

For additional information on this scam checkout Nick Johnston’s Blog post over at the Symantec Hosted Services Blog.

About Message Labs Intelligence:

Symantec’s Message Labs Intelligence is a respected source of data and analysis for messaging security issues, trends and statistics. MessageLabs Intelligence provides a range of information on global security threats based on live data feeds from our control towers around the world scanning billions of messages each week.

About Symantec:

Symantec is a global leader in providing security, storage and systems management solutions to help consumers and organizations secure and manage their information-driven world.  Our software and services protect against more risks at more points, more completely and efficiently, enabling confidence wherever information is used or stored. More information is available here.

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Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 31, 2010

How-To: Give Your Laptop a Cooling Overhaul – Modern day laptops are loaded with powerful, heat producing components that can often lead to overheating, especially if you’re asking your laptop to do some heavy lifting. If your laptop ever feels particularly hot in certain spots, or sometimes randomly shuts off, there’s a good chance that overheating is to blame.

Google to Roll out E-mail Prioritizing Feature in Gmail – Google plans to begin rolling out to Gmail users on Tuesday a new feature designed to automatically rearrange messages in their inbox so that the most important and pressing ones appear at the top.

Google Scoops up Fifth Company This Month – Google has made its fifth acquisition since the start of August, this time scooping up SocialDeck, a company that develops games that people can play against friends using iPhones, BlackBerry devices, or via Facebook on a PC.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

iPad and iPhone 4 tester scams hit Facebook – It sounds too good to be true – Can you really get a free iPad 3G or iPhone 4 by signing up just to be a tester? Sadly, it’s just the latest scam spreading rapidly between compromised Facebook accounts in the last few days.

Is it possible to engineer a computer that is 100% secure? – If you answered “no” to this question, you’re in good company. Pretty much everyone that knows anything about computer security shares this view as well. And as we all know, if everyone (95-99%) believes something is true, it must be true, right? As you might have already guessed, I’m in the minority that says that it is possible.

Personal Computer Security: Using Uncommon Sense – Most people are aware of the dangers, but not how to protect themselves. The truth is, if a hacker wants to get into your system, usually the only way to prevent that access is to completely cut the system off from the internet.

How To Troubleshoot Your Home-Built PC – You’ve built your new PC, but something’s not right–and you don’t have the luxury of a manufacturer’s warranty or tech support line. Here’s how to fix problems with your do-it-yourself PC.

FAQ: Net Neutrality and Why You Should Care – It’s one of the most important issues–if not THE most important–in the life of the Internet so far. Yet it’s widely misunderstood. Here are the facts.

New Remote Flaw in Apple QuickTime Bypasses ASLR and DEP – A Spanish security researcher has discovered a new vulnerability in Apple’s QuickTime software that can be used to bypass both ASLR and DEP on current versions of Windows and give an attacker control of a remote PC. The flaw apparently results from a parameter from an older version of QuickTime that was left in the code by mistake.

Company News:

Google puts iTunes in its sights – The idea is simple. People are familiar with YouTube, and are happy to while away the hours watching a cat ride a Roomba or a panda sneezing. YouTube is also everywhere – desktops, notebooks, and critically, on mobile devices such as the iPhone. YouTube has enormous reach. Now Google wants to leverage this reach, hoping that people will pay for the privilege of being entertained.

CyberPower Gamer Ultra 9000: A Great Case Makes for a Great Computer – CyberPower Gamer Ultra 9000 desktop PCThe CyberPower Gamer Ultra 9000 desktop PC is a weird yet pleasing mashup of a mainstream PC’s price and a performance PC’s specifications list. It wouldn’t be fair to measure this system against competing performance desktops, as its cost–a mere $1299 (as of June 24, 2010)–is far below that of a conventional performance desktop.

Hottest Camera Announcements of Fall 2010 – It’s time to get started on your wish list. These enticing cameras and camcorders are due to hit stores right before the holiday shopping season, and they offer everything from 3D shooting to pocketable perfection.

Why Intel’s Infineon Buy Is a Smart Move – The purchase will help Intel become a player in the mobile market, one analyst says.

Off Topic (Sort of):

CyberDefender Threatens Consumer Advocate With Defamation Claim – Allen Harkleroad alerts us to the news that a company called CyberDefender is a bit upset at Harkleroad’s recent stories that pointed out that two brands, advertising heavily about cleaning up your computer (MyCleanPC and DoubleMySpeed), appear to be connected to CyberDefender, despite attempts to hide the connection. He then highlighted some complaints against all three brands. CyberDefender responded by sending a legal threat letter, claiming defamation, and demanding the removal of the original posts.

Customers from Hell – Sure, we’ve all had our fair share of bad (or even horrible) customer service experiences. But what about tales from the other side of the counter? We asked our readers who work in the restaurant, retail or service industry to share their worst “crazy customer” stories. We chuckled, guffawed and sat with our mouths wide open as we read through your submissions, then we picked our 12 favorites. (submitted by Dar)

LOL Cars – We asked and you delivered. Check out this selection of user-spotted rides that are certain to make you laugh out loud.

Man caught selling marijuana to pay for police academy – While police officers arrest pot dealers fairly frequently, Orem police officers heard a pretty unusual reason for the illegal activity during an arrest this weekend. The 20-year-old man said he was dealing the drugs to save up for the police academy. (submitted by Dar)

Today’s Quote:

“There is no pleasure in having nothing to do; the fun is in having lots to do and not doing it.”

-    Mary Wilson Little

Today’s Free Downloads:

WiLMa Keeps Your Windows Just the Way You Like Them – Windows Layout Manager (also known as WiLMa) is a free app that allows you to manage the size, shape, and positioning of any and all windows on your screen to a fine degree. The most obvious use for this app is to set up your work environment exactly how you want it (perhaps on multiple monitors), then capture the window definition with Windows Layout Manager, then save the Layout with a name and description of your choice.

Gridy – Gridy makes your program and other windows snap place along an invisible grid. It can also make a specific window transparent or remove it from the Alt-Tab list of open programs (which also changes its border to remove the minimize and maximize buttons).

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An IT Professional’s Must Have Firefox and Chrome Add-ons

image The high  number of Browser add-ons we’ve covered here in the past few weeks ( from add-ons that add functionality to the Browser, to those that promise to provide additional security), has led to a number of readers asking essentially the same question. Which add-ons do I really need?

Not a surprising question really; with the huge number of Browser extensions available, it can be difficult for users to determine which ones to consider adding – the choices seem unlimited.

I could sit down and write an article on those Browser add-ons that I wouldn’t be without. But, let’s try something a little different this morning.

Regular reader Georg L., an IT Professional from Vienna, Austria, who’s experience ranges from the days of DOS to the present, has laid out a list of Browser extensions (for Firefox and Chrome), which he has installed to boost Browser security, and in some cases, to increase Browser functionality.

Firefox 3.6.8:

Adblock Plus 1.2.2

Better Privacy 1.48.3

BitDefender QuickScan 0.9.9.30

Flagfox 4.0.8

Flashblock 1.5.13

FoxyProxy Standard 2.21.4

Ghostery 2.3

GoogleSharing 0.19

HTTPS-Everywhere 0.2.2.

KeyScrambler 2.6.0.0.

NoScript 2.0.2.3

PDF Download 3.0.0.1

Perspectives 3.0.3

Qualys BrowserCheck 1.0.115.1

Search Engine Security  1.0.6

SkipScreen  0.5.7amo

Chrome 6.0.472.41

AdBlock 2.0.24

AntiAds 0.4.0

BitDefender QuickScan 0.9.9.34

ChromeFlags 1.4

FastestChrome – Browse Faster 3.1.2

FlashBlock 1.2.11.12

Ghostery 2.0.0

Google Analytics Opt-out 0.9.0

Google Dictionary 1.0.2

Mini Google Maps 1.0.2

Secbrowsing 1.7

SmoothScroll  0.6.1

Ultimate Google Docs Viewer 0.8.4.7

Wikipedia Companion 1.6.5

Not surprisingly, both Georg and I have installed essentially the same add-ons. Particularly those add-ons designed to increase Browser security.

Georg is an accomplished professional who contributes here regularly, most often at a private level, and I can safely say, this list of Browser add-ons will resonate with readers who recognize the need to elevate Browser security.

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Filed under Browser add-ons, Browser Plug-ins, Chrome, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Firefox Add-ons, Freeware, Google Chrome, Internet Safety Tools, Safe Surfing, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 30, 2010

58 Open Source Software Apps for Small Business – Why spend more money on small business software than you absolutely have to? A brand name doesn’t mean it’s the best, and these open source software applications can do the job for a whole lot less.

How to Choose a Desktop Linux Distribution – With all the many reasons to use Linux today–particularly in a business setting–it’s often a relatively easy decision to give Windows the boot. What can be more difficult, however, is deciding which of the hundreds of Linux distributions out there is best for you and your business. Judging by popularity statistics, as tracked both by Distrowatch and in a recent study at LinuxTrends, Ubuntu is clearly the most popular distribution, or “distro.”.

The Best (and Worst) PC Movie and TV Services – Your PC is a video store–and it’s killing off brick-and-mortar video stores even as we speak. Your computer can give you prime-time TV at any time of the day or night, too. It’s also a source of shows you love on cable TV, minus the cable bill. We evaluate eight ways to turn your computer into an on-demand video entertainment center, including Amazon, Clicker, Hulu, iTunes, and more.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Older Software in Windows 7 – Most programs that work in XP and Vista will have no trouble in Windows 7. There are a few exceptions, of course. If you want to make sure that the program of your choice works in the new environment, look it up at the Windows 7 Compatibility Center. Once there, you can browse through program types or search by the program’s name.

Trojan simulates MS Security Essentials Alert, peddles fake AV – A Trojan imitating a Microsoft Security Essentials Alert has been spotted trying to convince users that their computer is infected and that the only thing to do is to pay for one of the five fake antivirus solutions offered.

How do I… Add image thumbnails to Microsoft Windows Explorer? – When you are dealing with a folder in Microsoft Windows containing numerous images, it is often very helpful to see thumbnail representations of those images in the Windows Explorer display.

The dramatic increase of vulnerability disclosures – 4,396 new vulnerabilities were documented in the first half of 2010, a 36 percent increase over the same time period last year. Over half, 55 percent, of all these disclosed vulnerabilities had no vendor-supplied patch at the end of the period.

Google Voice: 5 Truths Behind the Hype – Why did Google add voice capability to Gmail — and what’s next? These five facts put the new Google Voice in perspective.

DEFCON survey reveals vast scale of cloud hacking – A survey carried out amongst 100 of those attending this year’s DEFCON conference has revealed that an overwhelming 96 percent of the respondents said they believed the cloud would open up more hacking opportunities for them.

Researchers Warn of .Zip File Spam Surge – Security researchers are reporting an uptick in malware hidden in .zip files being sent out in spam to Web users. According to IBM’s X-Force, there has been a significant increase in the number of spam messages with malicious .zip file attachments during the past few weeks.

Company News:

Dell’s Aero Smartphone: An Embarrassment to Android – Dell’s new Aero smartphone ships with Android 1.5, a 16-month-old version of the Android operating system. No matter how you look at it, there’s just no excuse for that.

How Motorola Can Create an iPhone Killer – With the Droid X and the Droid 2, Motorola has proven that it knows what it needs to do in order to be successful in the smartphone space. And going forward, it has far more potential than any other company (aside from Apple) in the market. So, while it will be difficult, Motorola has a shot at building the perfect smartphone to dethrone the iPhone.

Building A Private Cloud With Cisco Quad – Sounds like Facebook? Sure. That’s the kind of experience Cisco wants users to have. But this is Facebook for the corporation. Integrated with all of the cool, social stuff is enterprise security and policy management, business system integration, and contextual and semantic search.

Off Topic (Sort of):

The 10 worst things about working from home – There are plenty of good things about working from home — but for every upside, there may be an equal and opposite downside

10 Things the Class of 2014 Hasn’t Experienced – Every once in a while, it hits you – “Man, I’m old.” Many of us are having the same experience as we realize the incoming class of college freshmen was born in 1991 and 1992, when Clinton was in the process of becoming the 42nd president, the first Iraq War was a resounding success and you were slow jamming to Boyz II Men. (submitted by Ken Martin)

How to block/kill RFID chips – In this Instructable I will describe different ways to block or kill RFID tags. RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification. If you do not know about this technology yet, you should definitely start familiarizing yourself with it, because the number of different devices that utilize these types of tags is growing exponentially. (submitted by Dar)

Automate Your Home With Four Easy Projects – Teach your PC and smartphone to turn on your lights during midnight bathroom breaks, lock your doors, wake you up (with coffee!), and more.

Today’s Quote:

“There are too many people, and too few human beings.”

-    Robert Zend

Today’s Free Downloads:

Partition Wizard Home Edition – Partition Wizard is a must-download for anyone who deals with partition operations on a regular basis. In my tests the program created, deleted, moved, resized, and copied partitions with no fuss.

FotoBounce Photo Organizer Off to a Promising Start – This free (though ad-supported) application is designed to help shake the dust and cobwebs off your digital photo collection, by organizing and helping you share your photos. It offers some pretty nifty features, but also suffers from a few glitches.

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Is Your Internet Neighborhood Overly Risky?

image In the real world, the neighborhood in which you live can have some impact on the chances of you been victimized by a crime. In the virtual world, the same principal is in operation – if we can, for the sake of discussion, call the country in which you live your “neighborhood”.

In a recent study (released August 26), by AVG, attack data from 100 million PCs in 144 countries during the last week of July, 2010, was analyzed. From the data, AVG was able to develop a security threat risk factor assessment based on the country in which a user resides.

I was not surprised to see Japan proved to be the safest Internet neighborhood. Nor was I surprised to see that North America (all three countries taken together), is the riskiest, with a user facing a 1 in 51 daily chance of being attacked. Europe, on the other hand, is somewhat safer, with a user facing a 1 in 72 daily chance of being attacked.

Selected survey results:

Turkey leads the league table for risky surfing, with AVG’s software having to step in to protect on average, one in 10 users of the Internet. Web users in Russia (1 in 14 were hit), Armenia (1 in 24), and Azerbaijan (1 in 39) also suffer high rates of attacks

Other areas where Web surfers are disproportionately at risk include Bangladesh (1 in 41), Pakistan (1 in 48) and in Vietnam and Laos in Southeast Asia, where the chances of facing an attack are both one in 42.

What about other major Western countries? The United States ranks number nine when it comes to the riskiest places to surf the Web (1 in 48), the United Kingdom ranks 31st (1 in 63), Australia comes in 37th (1 in 75) while Germany comes in at number 41 (1 in 83).

Leone had the fewest attacks with, on average, one in 692 Web surfers facing an attack. Niger also fared well, with just one in 442 Web surfers on average experiencing an attack. It is important to note however that these countries have a low level of internet access, with low broadband penetration.

It is because of its high internet use and broadband penetration that Japan, where there is an average of just one in 404 facing an attack, is arguably the safest place to surf the net.

Meanwhile Taiwan (1 in 248 attacked), Argentina (1 in 241 attacked), and France (1 in 224 attacked) all came in the top 20 safe list.

It’s important to remember that this survey, like all such surveys, is a one time snapshot. Internet threats are not static. Threats, in both the number and complexity, can fluctuate wildly.

A common sense tip worth repeating:

Be proactive when it comes to your computer and your connected device’s security; part of that is making sure you have adequate software based protection to reduce the chances you will fall victim to cyber crime.

Recommended reading: Principles of Security: Keeping it Simple – by guest writer Mark Schneider, and – An Anti-malware Test – Common Sense Wins.

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Filed under cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, Internet Security Alerts, Malware Advisories, Reports, Safe Surfing, Tech Net News, Windows Tips and Tools

EnhanceMySe7en – A Free Windows 7 Tweaking Utility

image Free tweaking utilities (they seem to be a dime a dozen these days), run the gamut from overwhelming in their scope, to just barely making it.

EnhanceMySe7en, a free tweaking utility designed specifically for Windows 7,  hits the middle ground – which may be just right for the casual computer user.

The common tab and check box layout makes it easy to navigate, even for less experienced users – although it could be improved somewhat (more on that later).

The following screen captures will give you an overall view of this application’s capabilities.

Accessing System Information provides Processor, Mother Board and installed memory, Display Adapter and Hard Drive specs.

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The processor information panel (in system information), will   graphically display CPU usage (by core), CPU temperature, and additional technical specs.

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The tools applet is fairly comprehensive including access to Processes and Services. Individual tools include – Registry Cleaner, Disk Cleanup, Defragger, and a Startup item tweaker.

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The System tab allows access to a good selection of tools, including a security applet, from which you can set enhanced security policies.

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The optimization panel is not particularly impressive since the “optimizations” are fairly limited.

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The customization applet, on the other hand, is much more complete, with a good range of tweaks available in Start Menu and Logon, Desktop, Taskbar, Error Reporting, Media Player, and Internet Explorer

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Fast facts:

Process Identification – Identify unrecognized software

Start-Up Management – Disable unnecessary software increasing performance

Registry Cleaner – Can easily checks your registry and repair incorrectly linked registry entries, automatically remove invalid entries

Disk Cleaner – Find out which files or folders engross your disk space and shown with chart

Registry Defragmenter – Rebuilds and re-indexs your registry to reduce application response time and registry access time

Disk Defragmenter – Reduces the amount of fragmentation in file systems

Hard Drive Monitor – Gives the current values of various hard disk parameters such as Temperature, Head Flying Height, Spin-Up Time etc.

System Tools, File, Network and Security Tools

Security – EnhanceMySe7en has easy to configure security settings for managing the new security features of Windows Vista

Optimization – Optimize settings for maximum speed and stability

Customization – customize system desktop, menus, toolbar and notifications settings

Network – Optimize your Internet connection speed

Overall impression:

While interfaces are getting much easier to navigate these days, this application’s weak point, in my view, is the lack of a sensible layout. More attention should have been paid to a cohesive tool layout. As it is, the tools don’t always appear in an instinctive location.

Despite this shortcoming, EnhanceMySe7en is worth taking a look at -  particularly if you’re running a 64 bit system.

System requirements: Windows 7 32 and 64-bit (native).

Download at: Download.com

Vista user? Try EnhanceMyVista.

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, downloads, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, PC Tools, Software, System Tweaks, System Utilities, Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 29, 2010

5 Freeware Apps for Searching Thy Desktop Awesomely – This week’s Freeware Files come courtesy of podcast aficionado R. Ellen Ferare. Or, rather, you can thank her for the idea. We got to talking this past weekend and she noted that she’s been having trouble finding a legitimate way to search through her desktop for this, that, and the other. Obviously, Windows’ built-in search functionality just isn’t cutting it—and I don’t blame her for thinking so. It’s slow, it’s bloated, and I’ve personally found that it just doesn’t quite get the job done compared to other applications out there.

Popular Windows 7 Themes – If your Windows 7 desktop looks a little too much like it did when you got it, maybe it’s time for a change. PCWorld’s readers and editors have enjoyed these free Windows 7 themes. Whether you’d prefer sports or flags, candy or flowers, or animals of land and sea, there’s something here for you.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to make calls using Gmail (video) – Earlier this week, Google introduced a feature that lets you make VoIP phone calls to landlines and mobile phones from within your Gmail account (and iGoogle). The calling service, which is available to U.S. Gmail users, integrates with the Google Talk chat app that you can find on the left-hand sidebar in Gmail.com.

Murder by Malware: Can a Computer Virus Kill? – Viruses and trojans may cause suffering and empty bank accounts, but let’s look at fatalities. Can malware kill? It can cause massive damages that on a dramatic day might lead you to say something like, “This %*^@# is killing me!” So malware, viruses, trojans, and such, may cause you pain and suffering; but now I’m wondering how many times malware has actually killed people?

Google working on Gmail spam issue – Google is trying to fix a “spamming” issue that has affected about 2.5 percent of its Gmail user base, the company reported on its help forum. Earlier this week, some Gmail users witnessed sent e-mails being automatically resent several times. Google first acknowledged the issue on its Gmail help forum on Wednesday.

Google launches realtime search: Will non-techies use it? – Google rolled out its full realtime search effort with its own page, but you have to wonder how popular the service will become.

Careful With That Third-Party Web Widget – Smaller businesses are more likely to use third-party Web applications on their websites — and they are less likely to scan such code.

‘Anti-Facebook’ project nears launch – The open-source social networking project Diaspora reported on its blog this week that the code for its much-hyped “anti-Facebook” software will be released September 15.

Company News:

Gartner: IT shops moving to Windows 7 need a 20 to 60 percent PC budget increase – The analysts at Gartner Inc. are warning that business migrations from Windows XP and Windows 2000 to Windows 7 in the next couple of years could create budgetary and resource burdens on IT shops.

Microsoft to add ActiveSync support for all Hotmail users – Microsoft officials are acknowledging that they are planning to add ActiveSync support to Hotmail on August 30. The new capability will let Hotmail users get push e-mail on cell phones and other devices (even if they aren’t trying to sync with an Exchange Server on the back-end).

Google: More than 1 million calls through Gmail in 24 hours – There was no official blog post to report the overnight success of the Google Voice integration into Gmail. But in the first 24 hours since the service launched, more than 1 million calls were placed. The message came via a Tweet on the official company Twitter feed and linked back to yesterday’s company blog post announcing the integration of the two products.

Intel cuts outlook; Consumer PC demand weak – Just weeks after an upbeat assessment about its prospects, chip giant Intel cut its revenue outlook for the third quarter based on weak demand for consumer PCs.

Off Topic (Sort of):

How To: Automatically Upload Pictures to the Internet As You Take Them – In this article, we’ll share out top secret industry secret method, which lets you use two cool gadgets together to automatically upload your photos as you take them, no matter where you are.

Hackers accidentally give Microsoft their code – When hackers crash their systems while developing viruses, the code is often sent directly to Microsoft, according to one of its senior security architects, Rocky Heckman. When the hacker’s system crashes in Windows, as with all typical Windows crashes, Heckman said the user would be prompted to send the error details — including the malicious code — to Microsoft. The funny thing is that many say yes, according to Heckman.

Power Your Small Business Website with WordPress – A lot of business owners look at managing a website as a chore. If you’ve tried to wrangle a site with Microsoft Frontpage or static HTML, it’s no surprise that it seems like a hassle. WordPress, on the other hand, is a lightweight, open source content management system (CMS) that makes it as easy to update a site as it is to write a letter in Microsoft Word.

Build a NAS Device With an Old PC and Free Software – If you have the time and are comfortable with basic network technology, one way to convert that spare PC into a NAS server is with a free utility called FreeNAS. Like many commercial NAS products, FreeNAS is built atop FreeBSD (a compact Unix-based operating system).

Today’s Quote:

“The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right place but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.”

-    Dorothy Nevill

Today’s Free Downloads:

FotoMorph – Digital imaging and graphic design software is often the victim of one of two problems: either it’s too advanced for everyone but expert users, or it’s too basic to do anything very useful. FotoMorph is one of the rare programs that manage to deliver impressive results with very little know-how. This fun application lets users create animations that morph one photo into another, no experience required.

IrfanView - The program lets you open and edit images, as well as multiple media formats. You can cut and crop images, apply batch conversions, add, sharpen, or blur effects, create panoramas, and change color modes easily.

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Filed under Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Screwed On A Social Network? – Who’s Fault Is It Really?

Not a day goes by, it seems, when Facebook and the opportunities it presents for cyber criminal activity, isn’t in the News. Not mainstream News, of course, since cyber crime rarely involves sex, or violence.

Mainstream media, where salacious and violent news reports rule the airwaves, determined, it seems to me, it had nothing to gain by advising you of the following, very unsexy, non violent, Facebook threats – all from this week incidentally.

‘LOL is this you?’ spam spreading via Facebook chat

Facebook scam: “I may never text again after reading this”

How to Spot Facebook Scams Like ‘Dislike’

Facebook Fires Back at ACLU’s Criticism of ‘Places’

Facebook Warns of Clickjacking Scam

But, throw Facebook and sex into the equation, and mainstream media are out of the gate as if shot from a cannon.

The discovery, that a pedophile ring which used Facebook as their communication channel had been broken up, and the perpetrators arrested, made headlines around the world, just yesterday.

And why not? This is the kind of news event that allows the media to exhibit their moral outrage and indignation. But, when it comes to occurrences that can effect you, if you are a Facebook subscriber, for example – no outrage; no moral indignation. Curious, no?

Maybe I’m missing something here. Could it be that there’s consensus, in the mainstream media community, that Facebook users who become victims of cyber criminals are getting exactly what they deserve?

At one time, I gave the benefit of the doubt to Facebook users, since most typical computer users (I believed), made assumptions that sites like Facebook, and other social networking sites, were essentially safe, and harmless – that Facebook, and others, were looking out for their users interests.

I’ve long since given up on this rather naive view of Facebook users lack of culpability in any harm they were exposed to though. I find it difficult to be supportive of people who throw common sense out the window, and behave irrationally on the Internet.

Despite my hardened view that Facebook users who fall victim to cyber criminals are not entirely innocent, I was still taken aback by the results of a  study conducted, and just released, by BitDefender.

For study purposes, BitDefender asked the participants to “friend” a test profile of an unknown, attractive young woman.

Selected stats from the study:

More than 86 percent of the users who accepted the test-profile’s friend request work in the IT industry, of which 31 percent work in IT Security.

The most frequent reason for accepting the test profile’s friend request was her “lovely face” (53 percent).

After a half an hour conversation, 10 percent disclosed personal sensitive information, such as: address, phone number, mother’s and father’s name, etc — information usually requested as answers to password recovery questions.

Two hours later, 73 percent siphoned what appears to be confidential information from their workplace, such as future strategies, plans, as well as unreleased technologies/software.

Study methodology:

The study sample group included 2,000 users from all over the world registered on one of the most popular social networks. These users were randomly chosen in order to cover different aspects: sex (1,000 females, 1,000 males), age (the sample ranged from 17 to 65 years with a mean age of 27.3 years), professional affiliation, interests etc.

In the first step, the users were only requested to add the unknown test profile as their friend, while in the second step several conversations with randomly selected users aimed to determine what kind of details they would disclose.

Additional details on this study are available here (PDF), as well as on the MalwareCity blog post.

Given the state of the current, and increasing cyber criminal activity on the Internet, it’s almost certain that exposure to cybercrime on Facebook will continue to escalate, and with it, the dangers that this presents. Given the type of behavior reveled in this study, cyber criminals are sure to have a field day.

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Filed under BitDefender, cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, FaceBook, Interconnectivity, Online Safety, Point of View, Privacy, Safe Surfing, social networking, Windows Tips and Tools

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 28, 2010

Fixes for Windows 7 – Windows 7 is an unqualified hit, but it’s not perfect. Here are five easy ways to make a good operating system better.

Lifehacker: How to Run Windows, Mac, and Linux Side by Side and Pain-Free with VirtualBox – Running multiple operating systems side-by-side gives you the chance to test applications, run platform-specific software, and tons more without ever rebooting. It’s also extremely cool. Here’s how to run Windows, Mac, and Linux simultaneously and pain-free as possible.

Google Rolls Out Standalone ‘Realtime Search’ Page – Twitter has real-time search and it’s good, but Google’s new Realtime search page, which “lets you see up-to-the-second social updates, news articles and blog posts about hot topics around the world” takes it to a whole new level. There’s no doubt, Realtime is quite simply an excellent showcase for the awesome power of the Google algorithm.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

‘LOL is this you?’ spam spreading via Facebook chat – Facebook on Friday afternoon was investigating what appeared to be a new spam scheme that results in users getting messages from friends over Facebook chat that have malicious links. The messages say “LOL is this you?” and are accompanied by a link that looks like it leads to a video on Facebook.

Some Linux Distros Vulnerable to Version of DLL Hijacking Bug – In the wake of all of the stories about the Windows DLL hijacking bug, it appears that certain Linux distributions may be vulnerable to a similar problem related to the way that Linux handles a specific variable in some cases. The bug apparently was introduced via a Debian patch last year.

First rootkit targeting 64-bit Windows spotted in the wild – Alureon rootkit is back, and has acquired the ability to hijack computers running 64-bit versions of Microsoft Windows, proclaimed Marco Giuliani, security researcher with security company Prevx.

Troubleshoot problem applications with Windows 7 Program Compatibility tools – Greg Shultz takes a closer look at the Program Compatibility Assistant, which is designed to run when it detects a program encountering compatibility problems.

DLL Hijacking: Facts and Fiction – It’s been interesting watching DLL hijacking grow from interesting phenomena to a full-on snowball of hype and FUD over the last few days. As of this writing Google turns up 152 news articles on the subject. The vast majority of coverage is calling this a “new class of attack” and pointing out how “over 30 zero-day vulnerabilities have been found so far!”. The only way to paraphrase many of the headlines is: “Panic!”

Repurposing an Old Computer for Any Room in the House – Most of us have our computers on our desks or our laps, but there are so many other places in and out of our homes that can make a great spot for an old PC. The smaller your PC the more places you can put it, so laptops are obvious choices for moving around to different parts of your home. We’ve posted before with suggestions for repurposing an old laptop so be sure to check those out as well.

Network security challenges faced by universities – Striking a balance between an open yet secure network remains a challenge for university IT departments. While universities are often on the cutting edge of innovation, they face complications when it comes to enforcing IT policies. In some cases, this has led to staggering data breaches.

Company News:

Blockbuster to file for “pre-planned bankruptcy” – It seems that Blockbuster video/DVD rental chain is lumbering one step closer to oblivion as it plans to file for something it calls “pre-planned bankruptcy.” The company is the latest victim of our move to a digital, ethereal existence.

Private cloud automation platform – “With its robust, scalable infrastructure management and service delivery capabilities, Quest Cloud Automation Platform 7.5 enables IT to dramatically impact capital and operating expenses in the data center while driving unmatched business agility,” said Steve Stover, senior director of product management, Quest Virtualization Management.

10 Things We Don`t Get About Dell – Dell is a perplexing company. Years ago, it was atop the tech industry with its direct sales model. Not only was it selling computers at an astounding rate, but the corporate world was quite happy with its PCs. Everything was going right for the Texas-based technology company, even though it shunned the channel with its direct-only sales model. And then all that changed.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Ogling beautiful women a natural reflex for men – You’re at a café with the woman in your life when your eyes move inexorably toward another woman walking by. In one-fifth of a second, before the conscious mind has had a chance to react, the male brain has rendered judgment on whether the oncoming stranger is sexually hot. If the ruling is favourable, physical manifestations are immediate. Pupils dilate, heart rate spikes, testosterone surges and the eyes assume a vacant stare — sure signs that the “man trace” has set in.

Computer bloopers and blunders from the technically clueless – From 1994 to 2002 Rod Shelley worked as a PC technician at a major computer retail store in the US. After seeing all kinds of wacky, operator-induced computer issues, Shelley decided to start documenting them. He wanted to inject a little humor into the often-frustrating world of technology and hopefully educate a few of the technically clueless along the way.

Canadians arrested in Facebook porn ring – Two Canadians are among 11 people arrested for allegedly being part of an international child pornography ring that operated through Facebook. However, Australian officials are furious at the popular social network site, which they say had discovered the illicit profiles but repeatedly failed to notify police. The arrests, announced Friday by Australian police, include six people in Britain, three in Australia and the two in Canada.

Say What? The Week’s Top Five IT Quotes – Why develop for Android, the battle over 3PAR heats up, the U.S.’s cybersecurity shortcomings, and more.

Today’s Quote:

“A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that works.”

-   John Gaule

Today’s Free Downloads:

KeePass Password Safe Portable – Securely take your email, internet and other passwords with you when you are away from your primary PC. The program’s interface is plain and intuitive. Users are first prompted to set a master password that controls access to KeePass. Then it’s simply a matter of entering the Web sites that you visit frequently–or, perhaps more importantly, infrequently–and their log-in information.

Colasoft Capsa Free – Capsa Network Analyzer Free Edition is an easy-to-use Ethernet packet sniffer (network analyzer or network sniffer) for network monitoring and troubleshooting purposes.

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Filed under Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Backup Your Gmail With Free Gmail Backup

Having had one of my Gmail accounts hacked earlier this year (from Nigeria), I learned the hard way, that creating backups shouldn’t only apply to an operating system, or applications. Backing up a web mail account can be a lifesaver.

Popular guest writer Rick Robinette, the “Mighty Freeware Hunter”, is always on the lookout for the best in Freeware, and once again has tracked down a terrific free application designed to do just one job – backup Gmail accounts.

Here’s Rick’s review:

Personally, I am a major player when it comes to using Gmail. I use Gmail as my primary email client (or service provider) instead of using a locally installed client such as Outlook, Windows Live Mail, or Thunderbird.  The only problem with my strategy is that all of my email transactions are stored in the cloud (on the internet) and not on my local computer.

To ultimately resolve this problem and to make my strategy whole, I found a FREE backup utility that is specifically engineered to backup my Gmail, called Gmail Backup.

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Gmail Backup is very easy to use. Simply enter your full Gmail login address, your Gmail Password, select a Backup Folder, select a date range (or only the Newest emails) and click on Backup.

This program is aimed to backup and restore of your GMail mailbox.You will need to activate the IMAP access to your mailbox, to do so, please open your GMail settings and under POP/IMAP tab activate this option.

Keep in mind that the first backup you make, may be time consuming, due to the amount of emails (and attachments) it may have to download (or backup). Following that first backup, you can do incremental backups.

Downloading all emails from your Gmail Account every time you want to backup your emails would be a nightmare. In this case it comes in hand the incremental downloading feature of email.

Gmail Backup checks all emails in the Gmail Account whether their are already downloaded. If so than it skips them. It only download emails which are not presented in your local copy. However, the checking emails takes time too.

As result, we recommend to specify the date since you want to download emails.

The backup emails that are downloaded will be in the standard .eml file format which can be read by just about any email client. In my case I use PopPeeper for this purpose. Also, you can restore emails to your Gmail account, as well, with Gmail Backup.

This is another app that will only get better and is worth its’ weight in gold.

This is a guest post by Rick Robinette, who brings a background as a security/police officer professional, and as an information technology specialist to the Blogging world.

Why not pay a visit to Rick’s site at What’s On My PC. Like me, you’re sure to become a frequent visitor.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

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Filed under Backup Tools, downloads, Email, Freeware, Gmail, Google, Interconnectivity, Software, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools