Monthly Archives: March 2011

Conseal Security Takes Portable Device Security To Another Level With Conseal USB

“This tape will self-destruct in five seconds!” – Mission Impossible.

Growing up in the 1960’s, I though that was just the coolest phrase – and the underlying technology, of course. As a way of keeping confidential  information out of the hands of the bad guys, what could be better than that? BOOOM!

Today, safeguarding confidential information is far more complex – and there are many more “bad guys”. Information, in a very real sense, is currency – and the need to protect it is every bit as real as if it were hard currency.

Unfortunately, protecting critical data in an age of extreme data portability (USB sticks, portable Hard Drives, memory cards …. ) against theft, or loss, is exasperated by the very nature of portable technology.

How hard is it to lose a USB key through theft or misadventure – easy (personally, I’ve lost two over the years).

How hard is it to lose a portable Hard Drive through theft or misadventure – easy.

How hard is it to lose a memory card through theft or misadventure – easy.

How hard is it recover any one of the storages devices mentioned? Hard. Hard. Hard.

While it’s true, that both password and encryption applications, offer some protection against unauthorized access should a portable storage device vanish, neither provides absolute protection. Both password cracking, and decrypting applications (and the computing resources necessary), are readily available to those with less than honorable intentions.

What’s needed then, is a technology that not only offers password protection and file encryption, but the ability to remotely destroy data on a non-recoverable device – if it becomes necessary.

I suspect that the Ministry of Defense in the UK, would have been delighted with this type of technology had it been available when, in 2008,  fifty eight Ministry of Defense unencrypted drives – which contained details of troop movements, locations, and travel accommodation, were “lost”.

Certainly, portable media device theft, or loss, is not restricted to organizations; it can just as easily happen at an individual level. For example, in the U.K., in 2008, – 9,000 USB drives were found by dry cleaners in various articles of clothing. It’s safe to say, that data loss and data leakages related to lost or stolen computer portable devices, are now commonplace.

Luckily, Conseal Security has just released a security safety system  that not only includes strong AES encryption, it allows protected devices to be remotely self-destructed, if they are lost or stolen. Moreover, as part of the package the ability to lock devices to specific networks, domains or specific computers, is included. A bonus feature includes a capacity to review all access attempts on a device.

Application setup, including creating an account which provides access to all of the programs features, is straightforward.

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The initial account password will be emailed to you. The temporary account password in the screen capture shown below, has been changed.

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Once logged in, you can proceed to manage the portable device attached to your machine.

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In the following screen shot, you’ll notice I have logged in and entered a name for the attached device.

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The USB drive I used for this test was quite small (512 MB), so the encryption and registration took less than two minutes.

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As per the message box, no files were accessible on Drive F: (the original drive designation) – instead the files were on Drive G: (the newly concealed drive).

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Following encryption of the drive’s contents you will have a number of options to choose from, including -

Access Control

You can set up rules to control where and when this device can be unlocked.

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Alerting

You can set up alerts to email you when this device is used.

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Self Destruct

You can securely delete the contents of this device if it has been lost or stolen. It will become a blank disk.

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Unlocking the portable device is an uncomplicated process – as shown in the following screen captures.

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A taskbar popup will notify you on successful completion of the “unlock” process, as illustrated in this screen capture.

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Fast facts:

Remote self destruct – If your Consealed device is lost or stolen, you can remotely destroy the data it contains. Press a button on a website and the contents of your device will be securely wiped when next inserted.

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Who’s accessed your data? – View a log of who attempts to unlocks your Consealed device, including who they are and what computer they used. The log shows all access attempts and contains sufficient information for law enforcement officials to uniquely identify the computer used.

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Define who can access your data – Specify the computers or network domains which can unlock your Consealed device. Also specify what times of the day it can be unlocked. Rules can be changed even when the device is out of your hands.

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Safe from password guessing attempts – Even fairly complex passwords can be guessed on average within 16 minutes. Conseal’s “Dual Locks” system completely secures your protected data against password guessing attempts. Consealed devices can only be unlocked with permission from a central server.

Warnings of attempted break-ins – Receive email warnings when someone tries to unlock your Consealed device, directly and uniquely identifying the user, where they are, and what computer they used.

Strong encryption – Your data is stored using super-strength 256-bit AES encryption (approved by governments to protect ‘Top Secret’ information).

Takeaway: A very impressive and elegant solution to a potentially disastrous occurrence at a cost that’s appropriate.

Conseal USB Licenses:

Home User – 1 year’s protection. Non-commercial use only. Up to 5 devices £19.95.

Corporate User – 10 devices £140 (for 1 year). 100 devices £99/month. 1000 devices £830/month. 10,000 devices £5950/month.

Conseal Security offers a full no-quibble 14 day money-back guarantee from date of purchase.

System requirements: Windows XP and above.

Devices: You can Conseal literally any USB storage device. This includes memory sticks, USB pen drives, external hard disks, SD / MMC / xD / CompactFlash cards. It also includes all Firewire, eSATA and USB3 devices. Conseal is completely device and manufacturer independent.

Further details, and a 15 day Trial download are available at the developer’s site – Conseal Security.

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Filed under Business Applications, Cloud Computing, Computer Tools, Connected Devices, Cyber Crime, Cyber Criminals, downloads, Encryption, Encryption Software, flash drive, Geek Software and Tools, Software, Software Trial Versions, Surveilance Tools, USB, Windows Tips and Tools

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 31, 2011

6 Super Security Freebies – These six free downloads will bolster your system and network security.

Quick Tip: Block unwanted sites using the Windows hosts file – By adding entries to the Windows hosts file, you can block access to specific unwanted or known malware-infested websites.

U.S. Gov’t to Thank for Phone-Wiping Panic Button – Red Alert! Cops coming and you’re concerned about deleting what’s on your cell phone in case it’s confiscated? Thanks to the U.S. Government, there will be an app for that – the panic button app will be able to wipe phones.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Erase Yourself From the Web – Drunken party pictures from college haunting you? Fed up with Facebook? Victim of Internet overwhelm? Here’s how to protect yourself by wiping your data off the Web.

McAfee’s Website Full of Security Holes, Researcher Says – This isn’t just embarrassing, but also somewhat discrediting for McAfee, which markets a McAfee Secure service to enterprises for their customer-facing websites. McAfee Secure claims to test for personal information access, links to dangerous sites, phishing, and other embedded malicious dangers that a website might unknowingly be hosting.

Web-Based Spam Now a Global Problem – Since virtually the dawn of the commercial Web and the advent of widespread email use, spam has been a major problem and it has grown to a point that botnets are now spewing trillions of spam messages every month. But, email spam is just one piece of a much larger ecosystem that now is mainly dominated by Web-based spam pushing users to malicious, or at best, worthless, pages.

European Parliament computer network breached – According to the Parliament’s spokesmen, the attack was still ongoing yesterday morning and information technology services have put in place some security measures – such as blocking access to webmail.

Two more Comodo RAs compromised - The investigation Comodo has mounted following the recent compromise of one of its Registration Authorities and the issuing of rogue certificates for popular sites has revealed that two additional RAs have been compromised but that no more bogus certificates had been issued.

Microsoft to push IE 9 broadly via Windows Update in late June – Microsoft will begin pushing Internet Explorer (IE) 9 to users in earnest starting at the end of June 2011, using its Windows Update mechanism, officials said this week.

Company News:

 

Qualys partners with StopBadware – Qualys is partnering with the non-profit anti-malware organization StopBadware. The two organizations will leverage one another’s strengths to bolster the Web’s collective defenses against malware. Qualys joins Google, Mozilla, PayPal, Nominum, and Verizon in supporting StopBadware.

Microsoft Exec: Tablets Could Be Temporary Fad - At least one Microsoft executive seems unconvinced that tablets are much more than a passing fad.

Apple AirPlay Headed for TV Sets, Says Report - Apple’s attempt to dominate the living room could stretch even further with the integration of AirPlay technology in HDTVs, according to a Bloomberg report. With AirPlay built into TV sets, users would be able to wirelessly stream content from an iPad, iPhone or Mac straight to the TV, without the need for a $99 Apple TV.

Amazon’s Cloud Drive Riles Music Industry – So, the record companies are not exactly thrilled with Amazon’s move. This should be no surprise to anyone, given the music industry’s current position on any type of music sharing (plus, it looks like their request for $75 trillion from LimeWire isn’t going to pan out, so they really do need the money).

Off Topic (Sort of):

 

FBI asks public to break a code, help solve a murder – An interesting request for help has been made public yesterday by the FBI: “Cryptanalists, help solve an open murder case”. The murder happened back in 1999. 41-year-old Ricky McCormick’s dead body was discovered in a field, and in his pants’ pocket were found two encrypted notes, which the FBI believes could shed a light on why and by whom he was murdered.

Creepy – Creepy is an application that allows you to gather geolocation related information about users from social networking platforms and image hosting services. The information is presented in a map inside the application where all the retrieved data is shown accompanied with relevant information (i.e. what was posted from that specific location) to provide context to the presentation.

Messenger Spacecraft Sends First Image From Mercury’s Orbit – NASA on Tuesday released an image of Mercury captured by its Messenger spacecraft – the first ever obtained from the planet’s orbit.

Nearly 50% of tweets consumed are from tiny fraction of Twitter users – A mere 20,000 Twitter users steal almost half the spotlight on Twitter, which now ropes in a billion tweets every week. That means only 0.05% of the social network’s user base attracts attention, according to a new Yahoo Research study titled, “Who Says What to Whom on Twitter.” (submitted by Michael F.)

Today’s Quote:

 

So much of what we call management consists in making it difficult for people to work.”

-    Peter Drucker

Today’s Free Downloads:

 

Microsoft Network Monitor – Ever wonder exactly what is being sent across your network–the packets that comprise the lowest level of network traffic and which programs are sending them? If the answer is yes, Network Monitor 3.4– a free utility from Microsoft–is all you need to find out what’s flowing back and forth.

The Dude – This network enumerator and mapper comes in handy when I’m trying to map out a customer’s network. Of course, it shows icons representing the devices on your network, but it goes beyond that. Hovering over an icon shows you the type of services available, recent bandwidth usage, and other info.

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Filed under Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

March 2011 MessageLabs Intelligence Report – Rustock Goes Down, Bagle Botnet Picks Up The Slack

imageThere’s been much more discussion recently as to whether infected computers should be allowed unrestricted access to the Internet. Despite the fact we’ve been around the horn on this question for years, there’s still little consensus on this thorny issue.

Since infected computers, linked together in botnets, form the backbone of spam distribution networks – according to the March 2011 MessageLabs Intelligence Report, botnets sent an average of 88.2% of global spam during 2010 – this question needs to be taken off the back burner and dealt with much more aggressively.

Frankly, I’m tired of making excuses for people who are too damn lazy, too damn stupid, too damn inconsiderate, ………. to take the time to learn the basics of computer security. And, as a consequence cause me, and you incidentally, to have to deal with volumes of spam that are beyond the pale.

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Graphic courtesy of Symantec (Click to expand to original)

According to the March 2011, MessageLabs Intelligence Report (released yesterday), the recently taken down Rustock botnet “had been sending as many as 13.82 billion spam emails daily, accounting for an average of 28.5% of global spam sent from all botnets in March.”

A little math suggests, that during March enough Spam was emailed that conceivably, every person on the Planet received 7 spam emails EVERY DAY! Since every person on the Planet is not connected, the abuse takes on another magnitude. I can’t think of another finite resource – and the Internet is a finite resource – that could be continuously abused in this way, without some kind of strong kickback.

Are we making any headway against botnets and the cyber criminals behind them? Not according to the MessageLabs Intelligence Report we’re not. Sure, Rustock has bitten the dust (at least for the moment), but the Bagle botnet has stepped into the breech, bumped up its output, and is now sending 8.31 billion spam emails each day, mostly tied to pharmaceutical products.

Report highlights:

Spam: In March 2011, the global ratio of spam in email traffic from new and previously unknown bad sources decreased by 2 percent (1 in 1.26 emails).

Viruses: The global ratio of email-borne viruses in email traffic from new and previously unknown bad sources was one in 208.9 emails (0.479 percent) in March, an increase of .134 percentage points since February. In March, 63.4 percent of email-borne malware contained links to malicious websites, a decrease of .1 percentage points since February.

Endpoint Threats: The endpoint is often the last line of defense and analysis. The threats found here can shed light on the wider nature of threats confronting businesses, especially from blended attacks. Attacks reaching the endpoint are likely to have already circumvented other layers of protection that may already be deployed, such as gateway filtering.

Phishing: In March, phishing activity was 1 in 252.5 emails (0.396 percent), a decrease of 0.065 percentage points since February.

Web security: Analysis of web security activity shows that an average of 2,973 websites each day were harbouring malware and other potentially unwanted programs including spyware and adware, a decrease of 27.5% since February. 37 percent of malicious domains blocked were new in March, a decrease of 1.9 percentage points since February. Additionally, 24.5 percent of all web-based malware blocked was new in March, a decrease of 4.2 percentage points since last month.

Reading this type of report (or at least the highlights), is certainly educational, and can be a major step in expanding that sense of threat awareness that active Internet users’ require.

The full MLI Report is available here in PDF.

Symantec’s MessageLabs 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 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 at www.symantec.com.

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Filed under bots, Cyber Crime, Cyber Criminals, cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, email scams, Interconnectivity, MessageLabs, spam, Symantec, Windows Tips and Tools

Auslogics BoostSpeed 5 – A Powerful “One Stop” Optimization And Maintenance Suite

imageIf you’re a regular visitor to this site you’re more likely than not, a high end power user. As such, you know that simple maintenance, practiced regularly, using the right tools, will keep a PC running smoothly for years.

Better yet, you’re proficient at putting together a toolbox of free system applications designed to correct performance issues that negatively impact your computing experience.

Typical computer users on the other hand, are much less likely to have the experience needed to identify the common problems that have impact on a computer’s speed and behavior, and then match the problems with the appropriate free software solution.

Drilling down through complicated operating system structures to get maximum performance from an operating system, is generally outside the range of a typical computer users skill set.

So, average users, for the most part, need an “all-in-one” performance-tuning application designed specifically for this market segment. Preferably, an application that’s comprehensive – yet, “one click” simple. Not an easy task for a product developer – many have tried, but few have really been successful.

Auslogics, well known, to we geeky types, for its free Auslogics Disk Defrag 3.1, is one of those companies that has successfully managed to work within the confines of a “one click” simple solution by developing Auslogics BoostSpeed 5.

Auslogics BoostSpeed 5 can uncover bundles of issues that can impact a computer’s performance and reliability, and then correct identified problems – often, with just a few clicks of the mouse.

Let’s take a walkthrough to look at  just some of the powerful features which are available in  Auslogics BoostSpeed 5. Clicking on any screenshot will increase the size to the original.

Installation is simple, following which you will have the opportunity to run BoostSpeed 5 for the first time. On application launch, you will be presented with the following screen.

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Running a system scan, on day one of the test, pulled up the usual Registry errors, and gave me the opportunity to clean out junk files, broken shortcuts, and (most importantly for me), clean the Browser cache.

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Day 2 System scan results: It’s easy to see from this second manual scan, that crud builds up on a PC very quickly.

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Cutting back on crud accumulation is easy with BoostSpeed 5 though. Setting up an appropriate schedule to automatically handle cleanup and repair, is a snap with the built-in scheduler.

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One of the features in the application that caught my attention was the security advice pulled up by the System Advisor. The focus here is on security holes that an average user would lack the background, or experience, to consider.

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On the oft chance that the user makes an error while running a system applet – redemption is just a step away. The Rescue center can reverse changes in any of the applets shown in the following screen capture.

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If you prefer not to go the automatic route, an abundance of applets are available to analyze and repair, maintain and improve, and configure the operating system, as the following screen capture shows.

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Customizing Windows to get that “just you” look, couldn’t be easier. Virtually every Windows element can be customized.

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Since personal privacy is a major issue for many users, the addition of a disk wipe utility (plus a shredder utility), is a bonus.

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Manipulating Internet settings for best performance is generally a hit and miss operation – many applications which promise to boost performance simply don’t work.

BoostSpeed’s built-in Internet Optimizer did work – at least marginally. I suspect that a typical user might see a more robust difference than I did, since my connection was already heavily tweaked.

A user can chose to manually optimize the connection (not recommended), or preferably, sit back and have the applet do the heavy lifting.

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Finally, all application functions can be accessed from the “right click” context menu, which is reachable from the Taskbar icon as shown in the following screen capture.

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Fast facts:

System Scan

File Recovery

Disk Doctor

Disk Explorer

Disk Defrag

Registry Defrag

PC Disk Cleaner

Registry Cleaner

Internet Optimizer

Windows Tweak Manager

Track Eraser

Duplicate File Finder

File Shredder

Disk Wiper

Boot Time Startup Manager

Uninstall Manager

Service Manager

Task Manager

PC System Information

Task Manager Rescue Center

When I received an invitation to review Auslogics BoostSpeed 5, I wasn’t sure I could do it justice in a short review – the application’s features are so inclusive that it would take a small book to cover all the features, and the related benefits of each. It’s safe to say that this application provides virtually every tool and applet, that an average computer user should need.

If you’re an average user, disappointed with your computer’s performance, or you’re just tired of having to deal with reoccurring unexplained issues, you may find that Auslogics BoostSpeed 5 is worth its $49.95 purchase price.  If you’re not satisfied, Auslogics offers a full refund within 30 days of purchase.

BTW, a  single product license allows installation of the application on three personal PCs.

System requirements: Windows XP, Vista, Win 7  (32-bit & 64-bit).

Download a 15 day trial version at: the developer’s site – Auslogics.com

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Auslogics, Computer Maintenance, Computer Tune Up Utilities, downloads, Integrated Tune Up Solutions, New Computer User Software Tools, Slow Computer, Software, Software Trial Versions, System Tweaks, System Utilities

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 30, 2011

11 Tremendous Free PC Utilities – These 11 free, downloadable utilities let you fine-tune your PC and help it work trouble-free.

Seven Steps to Recovering from Scareware Attacks – Threatpost asked leading anti malware researchers for their thoughts and suggestions on recovering from a scareware attack. Here’s what they told us.

10 gadgets you should actually get rid of (or not) – The New York Times outlines several consumer electronics that you may or may not need, from digital cameras to e-books. Is the list realistic? Here’s The Toybox take.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Must-Have Tools and Tricks – Learn how to get a disposable e-mail address, stop Windows 7 from automatically resizing windows, and recover data from a dead laptop.

Handy radiation checker comes to iPhone - iPhone users can now download a free iPhone app to tell them what local radiation levels are, in case they’ve not got enough to worry about. The new application is available worldwide, though you’d have to take paranoia to a new level to worry about spreading radiation from Japan if you weren’t actually nearby: even then you should probably worry about rebuilding the country’s infrastructure more than media-hyped threats of radiation poisoning.

TripAdvisor: E-mail addresses stolen in data breach – If you use TripAdvisor you may soon be getting more spam. The travel site told customers in an e-mail today that someone had breached its network and stolen e-mail addresses for an undisclosed number of its members.

Three Simple Ways to Get Paid by Credit Card - Accepting credit card payments is easier than you think–all you need is a cell phone, some inexpensive add-on hardware, and an accompanying app. These phone-based solutions are a great way for small business owners to process mobile payments. We tested three solutions. Attach the hardware to your phone, launch the app, and you’re ready to start swiping cards.

4 Fantastic Photo Finds – These four free downloadable applications are designed to make handling your photos and videos easier and more effective.

U.S. warns of more SCADA software holes – Cybersecurity officials are busy issuing warnings as researchers keep disclosing new holes in software used to manage systems at utilities and other industrial plants.

Company News:

 

Amazon Cloud Drive: It’s All About Android Domination, Baby – Amazon’s new Cloud Drive music-streaming service has the potential to seriously shake up the Android landscape.

Online E-mail to FAX Service – Superfax is a new generation Internet Based Online Fax Solution that provides you the flexibility to send and receive faxes directly through email. We give you a phone number, which is mapped to your email id. The number when called gives a fax tone. An SMS is sent to you after the fax is received. Fax is available in your mailbox as a PDF attachment. Replying to the email with an attachment can send a Fax to the sender.

LogMeIn Ignition Updated for iPhone, iPad - LogMeIn Ignition for iPad/iPhone/iPod touch ($29.99, download) just released a major new version in the iTunes app store that now adds complete file management to its remote access capabilities.

Netflix Canada Switches to Lower-Quality Streaming to Avoid Bandwidth Caps - Netflix on Monday announced that it will switch to lower-quality video streaming for its customers in Canada in order to preserve bandwidth.

Off Topic (Sort of):

 

The History of Web Browsers [Infographic] – Looking at the browsers in the current browser race it is hard to remember the time when Netscape had over 86% of the market share. Once Microsoft started integrating Internet Explorer with Windows they unsurprisingly took over the market and dominated it for several years. (submitted by Dar)

Facebook won’t remove The Third Intifada page against Israel – Facebook says it will not remove The Third Intifada fan page, created by Palestinians to start an uprising against the citizens of Israel, but will instead monitor it.

How to tweet bile without alienating people. Or making 13-year-old girls cry – The outpouring of bile directed at 13-year-old Rebecca Black for her YouTube song Friday shows how unhinged such mass hate campaigns can be. (submitted by Michael F.)

How Students Use Technology to Cheat, And How Their Teachers Catch Them – Academic dishonesty—ahem, cheating—has only gotten easier in the digital age. Students have Wolfram Alpha, Google, and crowdsourced question-and-answer sites like Quora at their fingertips. Students have cameras on their phones that let them take pictures of a test in an instant. Even Microsoft Word has built-in functionality that helps them game the system. On the flip side are teachers, who are using their technological know-how (and sometimes just their common sense) to catch students who try to cheat.

Today’s Quote:

 

In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”

-   Robert Frost

Today’s Free Downloads:

 

Seagate SeaTools for Windows – SeaTools for Windows is a comprehensive, easy-to-use diagnostic tool that helps you quickly determine the condition of the disc drive in your external hard drive, desktop or notebook computer.

AVG Rescue CD (for USB stick) – A powerful must-have toolkit to assist with the rescue and repair of infected machines. This software provides essential utilities for system administrators and other IT professionals. This download is for portable USB drives.

AVG Rescue CD (for CD creation) – A powerful must-have toolkit to assist with the rescue and repair of infected machines. This software provides essential utilities for system administrators and other IT professionals. This download is an ISO to burn to your CD or DVD drive.

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Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 29, 2011

PC World: Best Free Stuff 2011 (Alphabetical List) – Here’s a list of all of the apps described in our Best Free Stuff package, in alphabetical order.

Top 5 Online 2011 Tax Scams – You may not want to think about your taxes until Tax Day on April 18, but online scammers are already plotting to separate you from your tax refund and your identity. Scams for the 2011 tax season include promises of tax credits for charitable donations to disaster relief in Japan, malware-laden Websites optimized for search engines, dangerous e-mail, and so-called ‘likejacking’ techniques found on the social network Facebook.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

DIY: Accounting on a shoestring budget with GnuCash – Takeaway: GnuCash is a free, open source, and cross-platform accounting solution that Jack Wallen says is more reliable than QuickBooks. He discusses GnuCash’s features, as well as two of its drawbacks.

McAfee.com filled with vulnerabilities – Discovering that your site is chock full of security vulnerabilities must be embarrasing for any company, but is surely doubly so when you are a company offering to secure your customers’ websites. According to the e-mail sent to the Full Disclosure mailing list by the YGN Ethical Hacker Group on Monday, this is exactly what happened to McAfee.

New ransomware variant in the wild - A new variant of a piece of ransomware seen in the wild late last year has begun targeting users that made the mistake of landing on the site that serves it via drive by download.

Facebook Traffic Diverted to China Raising Privacy Concerns – Facebook traffic for AT&T customers was routed through Chinese and Korean servers for some unspecified amount of time, raising privacy concerns. Some of the network traffic heading to Facebook’s servers in Palo Alto, Calif., was re-routed to first pass through Chinese and Korean servers, according to Barrett Lyon, a network security expert who flagged the incident on March 22. Lyon suggested in a blog post that it was probably an accident.

Phony SSL Certificates Show Flaws in DNS, Comodo CEO Claims – Despite a Comodo Security partner being compromised and attackers issuing valid digital certificates for domains of Google, Microsoft and others, Comodo CEO and Chief Security Architect Melih Abulhayoglu said the problem wasn’t the fraudulent certificates, but that attackers had control of the DNS infrastructure.

Company News:

 

Cisco to acquire newScale – Cisco today announced its intent to acquire privately-held newScale, a provider of software that delivers a service catalog and self-service portal for IT organizations to select and deploy cloud services within their businesses.

Kodak Wins Important Victory in $1 Billion Case Against Apple, RIM – A picture may be worth a 1000 words, but for Eastman Kodak the preview of a picture might be worth $1 billion in a patent battle against Apple and Research in Motion. The U.S. International Trade Commission on Friday agreed to review a claim that Apple and RIM devices infringe on a Kodak patent for image previewing.

The New York Times Paywall Goes Live Today – The New York Times online paywall officially goes up Monday around 2 p.m. Eastern. After that you’ll have to pay at least $3.75 per week for unlimited access to the site. The paper is hoping to attract new subscribers by offering the first 4 weeks of any digital-only subscription for 99 cents.

Off Topic (Sort of):

 

More families choose to have funerals webcast – DeShawn Loyd was in a quandary. He was stranded in Florida in the midst of a February snowstorm and had no way to return to his home in Detroit to attend his cousin’s funeral. But thanks to the convenience of technology, he was able to pay his respects. Virtually. (submitted by Michael F.)

10 Ways to Tell You Are Addicted to FaceBook – Facebook is a winner. Just ask the billionaire who created it. It’s easy, it’s fun and all your friends are there. There are game apps, sentimental apps, quiz apps and much more to keep you entertained and occupied. But, how do you know when fun and convenience have crossed over the line to all out addiction? Below are 10 indications that facebook is beginning to take control of your life.

Tablet PCs: Why We Need These Unnecessary Devices – Do you really need a tablet PC for your small business? Probably not, says Brian X. Chen, but people are buying them anyway. Chen speculates on what the appeal is.

Open Text Only Version Of A Webpage In Google Chrome Browser – There are times when you quickly want to go through content in a webpage, in such cases there might be a page which is full of multimedia content, flash animations or ads which makes the page to open slowly on your web browser, it becomes a pain some times when you need to wait for the page to load and render. (submitted by Dar)

Today’s Quote:

 

Never judge a book by its movie.”

-    J. W. Eagan

Today’s Free Downloads:

 

Universal USB Installer – Universal USB Installer uses a live Linux .iso file to create a bootable flash drive. Flash is much faster than optical media, can be easily written to, and is available on all current PCs. The program supports a huge number of Linux variations, including Ubuntu, Debian, and Puppy.

7 Taskbar Tweaker - This programs enables you to tweak your Windows 7 taskbar. Reorder items within a tab group, close, minimize, change application ID and more.

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Filed under Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

BufferZone Pro 64 Bit Beta Released

Following the review of BufferZone Pro here earlier this year, a fair number of readers were disappointed to see that a 64 bit version of this free virtualization application from Trustware, was not yet available.

Well here’s some good news – those readers who have been waiting for a 64 bit version of  BufferZone Pro need wait no longer. Trustwareis opening the registration for the BufferZone Pro 4 beta version, which includes support for 64-bit Windows installations, on March 28,2011 (9:00 am PST).

To register for the beta program, or for more information, go here.

From “Free BufferZone Pro – Maybe The Best Surfing Virtualization Application At Any Price”, posted here February 22, 2011 –

Controlling malware intrusion, while surfing the Net, through the use of a ‘”virtual” environment rather than operating in a “real” environment, makes sense given the escalating level of cyber criminal activity on the Internet.

From the developer’s site:

BufferZone Pro keeps you surfing, downloading, e-banking, sharing, chatting, and e-mailing to your heart’s content – basically, using the Internet as it should be used. The Virtual Zone gives you total freedom, peace and security on the Web. With BufferZone Pro, you can do absolutely anything on the Internet threat free.

With BufferZone, all programs or files that enter your computer through downloading, browsing, or uploading with external media devices, are redirected to a Virtual Zone (C:\Virtual). And, since any intrusion attempt occurs within this virtual environment, there’s nothing in that summary that I can disagree with. BufferZone’s Virtual Zone does protect a PC from all forms of known, or unknown, attacks originating from the Internet, or external devices.

It does so in a non intrusive way, and after initial setup, requires a minimum of user intervention – perfect for the average user. Installation is hassle free – it’s just a matter of  following the on-screen instructions.

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BufferZone sits in the Taskbar and can be fully controlled from there.

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System Requirements: Windows XP, Vista, Win 7 (32-bit). 64 bit users now have access to BufferZone 4 Beta available here.

Note: 32 bit users can download stable version 3 here.

As with all beta, or release candidates, take sensible precautions prior to installation. This should include setting a new restore point.

Update: April 25, 2011 – Regular reader Charlie  reports the following:

“When I uninstall it or surf outside of it, I lose all my firefox bookmarks.  Installing returns the bookmarks.  Also, won’t let me keep Chrome bookmarks.I checked the support form, and others had the same problems.  No answers were provided, however.

If you have experienced these conditions, and you have developed a solution – please let us know.

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Anti-Malware Tools, Beta Software, Cyber Crime, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Free Anti-malware Software, Freeware, Malware Protection, Online Safety, Software, Spyware - Adware Protection, System Security, Virtualization, Windows Tips and Tools

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 28, 2011

Trustware 64-bit - Trustware is opening registration for the BufferZone Pro beta version that includes support for 64-bit Windows installations on March 28,2011 (9:00 am PST). 64-bit compatible means that BufferZone Pro beta is compatible with Microsoft Windows Vista 64-bit and Microsoft Windows 7 64-bit in addition to its Microsoft Windows 32-bit compatibility. This support enables BufferZone Pro customers to migrate to newer 64-bit versions of Windows so they can take advantage of the 64-bit capable processors on newer PCs while still enjoying the free protection offered by BufferZone Pro.

Firefox 4 Tip: Put the Tabs Back Where They Belong – If you don’t like having your tabs at the top of the screen, there’s a five-second fix that puts them back where they used to be.

Firefox 4 Tip: Put the Reload Button Back Where It Belongs – I’m still poking and prodding Firefox 4, which made its official debut just yesterday. So far, I like what I see–but a few interface quirks are driving me nuts.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

MySQL.com compromised by SQL injection attack - MySQL.com has been hacked and a part of the database containing member and employee email addresses, usernames and passwords has been published by the hackers on Pastebin.com.

DestroyTwitter Makes Tweeting Simple – Don’t be fooled by its name: The DestroyTwitter app is actually designed to help you get the most out of the micro-blogging service.

Lone hacker owns the Comodo certificate compromise – “The attack came from several IP addresses, but mainly from Iran. The attacker was well prepared and knew in advance what he was to try to achieve,” Comodo explained. “It does not escape notice that the domains targeted would be of greatest use to a government attempting surveillance of Internet use by dissident groups.”

Take advantage of tools to monitor memory usage in Windows 7 - With Windows 7, there are some slight, but notable, changes in the way that memory usage is reported on the Performance tab of the Task Manager. Greg Shultz takes a closer look at the changes on Task Manager’s Performance tab and investigates the Physical Memory usage chart.

Intellectual capital is the new cybercrime currency – Cybercriminals understand there is greater value in selling a corporations’ proprietary information and trade secrets which have little to no protection making intellectual capital their new currency of choice, according to McAfee and SAIC.

Company News:

 

AT&T, T-Mobile Deal Spells Trouble for Android, Sprint and Consumers – AT&T’s $39 billion bid for T-Mobile is turning into the acquisition story of the year. If approved, AT&T is likely to use T-Mobile to expand its 4G capabilities and shore itself up for a bigger fight against Verizon Wireless. However, the deal is also likely to affect a number of other companies, as well as consumers. The AT&T, T-Mobile merger is going to change the way Android phones are developed and force Sprint to make some drastic moves to keep up. The other question is, How does the acquisition impact consumers, as well as enterprise users?

New Unified Threat Management gateway from Netgear – Netgear introduced the ProSecure UTM150 – a Unified Threat Management (UTM) gateway for businesses with around 150 users. The new UTM150 delivers enhanced graphical reporting capabilities and automatic software and malware signature updates.

Netflix Backlash Begins – We’ve been hearing that Hollywood is afraid of Netflix. But as the studios try to protect their turf, we’re seeing the first signs of a Netflix streaming backlash.

Off Topic (Sort of):

 

Tech-Savvy Student Tracks Down MacBook Air Thief – Thanks to remote-access backup software and social networking skills, Mark Bao now has his MacBook Air back.

A Layperson’s Guide to Citizen Science – For those who love technology like we do, it’s just a short hop skip and a jump to science. In fact, most good technology starts as good science. Not all scientists work in a lab, though. In fact, not all scientists are actually scientists. Some are simply citizens like you and me helping scientific study and theory. This ExtemeTech story looks at all the ways you can get involved in citizen science.

More than half of US adults use Facebook - More than half of US adults use online social networking service Facebook, according to an upcoming study. A report by Edison Research and Arbitron Inc. to be released on April 5 includes the finding that 51 percent of US residents age 12 or older have profiles set up at Facebook. (submitted by Michael F.)

Dvorak: The Worst Spam Filter – Did you know that columnist John C. Dvorak is now spouting his crank five days a week on PCMag.com? You should because a daily dose of Dvorak will help keep you feeling… well how you feel all depends on your perspective. For example, do you agree with Dvorak’s take on challenge-response as a way of beating spam mail? He says it’s bunk. What do you say?

Today’s Quote:

 

I am not one of those who in expressing opinions confine themselves to facts.”

-    Mark Twain

Today’s Free Downloads:

 

SlimComputer – When you buy your shiny new PC, it’s in pristine shape, and in tip-top condition, free of any junk that might slow it down, right? Wrong. Not uncommonly, new PCs come filled with trialware, toolbars, and assorted junk so that even the first time you run it, it’s already wading through sludge. The SlimComputer utility will help. This free program from Slimware Utilities (maker of SlimDrivers) looks through your system for toolbars, trialware, and other unneeded programs and files, shows you what it finds, and will delete them for you if you want them gone

Ashampoo Burning Studio 6 Free - If you’re looking for a simple, free way to rip music, copy CDs, DVDs, and Blu-Ray discs, and handle other associated burning and ripping chores, try Ashampoo Burning Studio 6 Free. It’s simple to use, works like a charm, and doesn’t cost a penny.

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Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 27, 2011

Everything you need to know about Firefox 4 – From App Tabs to Panorama to syncing Firefox with your Android, we round up a collection of videos on the Editor’s Choice-winning Firefox 4 to help you get started with the revamped browser.

How to configure IE9 tracking protection – Ads that track your online behavior using cookies aren’t the worst problem on the Internet, but they are one of the more annoying ones. Internet Explorer 9 offers a tracking ad blocker similar to Firefox’s AdBlock Plus add-on, except this one’s built in.

Benchmark battle – There’s no doubt that the latest stable browsers from Google, Microsoft, and Mozilla are the best they’ve ever produced. But how do these browsers perform when tested under identical conditions?

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Three great alternatives to the Big Three browsers - Anyone who uses one or all of the three most popular browsers is almost certain to upgrade to the new releases. While there are plenty of good reasons why IE, Firefox, and Chrome are the browser leaders, they may not be the best choice for your needs. The three lesser-known browsers described below show that our surfing options have never been richer.

Netflix Issuing 3 Percent Credit for Tuesday Streaming Outage – Netflix said last night that it will offer a 3 percent credit to those who were affected by its Tuesday streaming outage.

Color (for iPhone) – Color, a revolutionary new iPhone application from Bill Nguyen, the creator of the La La music service, is poised to change the way you view and share photos and video. The free location-based iPhone app (which is also available on the Android platform) lets people within 150 feet of one another access photos, video, and messages, simultaneously, from multiple smartphones in real time.

Basic Windows PowerShell commands you should already know – PowerShell combines the speed of the command line with the flexibility of a scripting language, making it a valuable Windows administration tool. Here are a few basic commands you’ll want to master.

RIAA Thinks LimeWire Owes $75 Trillion in Damages – The music industry wants LimeWire to pay up to $75 trillion in damages after losing a copyright infringement claim. That’s right . . . $75 trillion. Manhattan federal Judge Kimba Wood has labeled this request “absurd.”

Company News:

 

Adobe Labs: The 10 Hottest Projects in the Works - Adobe Labs is the home for experimental and early-stage projects where developers and designers can experience and evaluate new and emerging innovations, technologies and products from Adobe engineers. Adobe Labs fosters a collaborative software development process, allowing users to become productive with new products and technologies faster and allowing the Adobe development teams to respond and react to early feedback to shape the software to meet the needs and expectations of the community.

RIM: BlackBerry PlayBook Tablet Will Run Android Apps – It’s hard to put into words what a big deal this is. I already like the RIM PlayBook. It’s not the biggest tablet (I do prefer the iPad’s larger screen), but I appreciate the unique and innovative QNX platform, the peppy performance and BlackBerry connectivity. I knew that the PlayBook would run web-based apps, but the fact that it will tap into the vast Android market when the PlayBook ships on April 19, well, that takes the PlayBook to a whole new level.

HTC, Motorola, LG Tablets and Phones Steal the Show at CTIA – Most of the tablets on display at CTIA packed a good deal of power under the hood–often a dual-core processor, and an average of 32GB of internal memory–frequently paired with the tablet-optimized Google Android 3.0. The smartphones on display proved equally powerful, with processors and upgraded hardware such as high-megapixel cameras. We show you some of the most notable offerings.

McAfee Launches Database Security Platform – Security specialist McAfee announced a comprehensive database security solution that protects business-critical databases, based on the Security Connected initiative launched in October 2010.

Off Topic (Sort of):

 

Steve Jobs personally blocks Tawkon iPhone 4 Radiation App – The jury’s out on whether or not cell phones emit too much radiation and pose a risk to our health. Actually, the jury is out for some of us. Apple CEO Steve Jobs appears to think he knows the answer. As a result, he may have personally blocked an app that measures cell phone radiation. Geek.com covers the controversial story.

Google Doodle Celebrates Illusionist Harry Houdini’s 137th Birthday – Houdini was born Ehrich Weiss in Budapest, Hungary in 1874. His family re-located to Appleton, Wisconsin four years later, and by age nine, Houdini and childhood friends established a five-cent circus, with Houdini billing himself as “Ehrich, The Prince of the Air,” according to PBS.

Sony Hacker: I’m Just on Spring Break – George Hotz, the Sony PlayStation 3 hacker who reportedly fled to South America to dodge discovery in Sony’s lawsuit against him, has spoken out against yesterday’s sensationalist headlines. He’s just on spring break, folks.

OMG! LOL: Internet Slang Added to Oxford English Dictionary – Time-saving online abbreviations like LOL, OMG, and IMHO are now part of the official English language. The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) announced the addition of several acronyms to its dictionary, adding some interesting trivia behind the origins of these Internet-associated expressions.

Today’s Quote:

 

It is possible to store the mind with a million facts and still be entirely uneducated.”

-    Alec Bourne

Today’s Free Downloads:

 

JavaRa – Update the Java JRE at the click of a button. JavaRa is a simple tool that does a simple job: it removes old and redundant versions of the Java Runtime Environment. Be mindful of the extras such as Google Toolbar, McAfee Security Scan or Norton Security scan checked by default. Unless you want these, uncheck them before installing still applies. (submitted by Dar)

ZoneAlarm Free 9.2.- For basic, “no frills” firewall protection, ZoneAlarm® is the popular first step for many home PC users. And it’s still FREE* for individual & non-profit use.

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Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 26, 2011

10 cool things you can do with a USB flash drive – Transporting your data is probably the most common use for a USB flash drive. But there’s a world of other things you can do with these handy pocket-size drives. Here are 10 ways you can use that USB flash drive to do more than just move data.

Exotic Linux distros can come in handy – Among these more obscure flavors of Linux are a few that you may not have encountered, but could be just what you need.

Zombie PC Prevention Bill to make security software mandatory - South Korea’s recently proposed Zombie PC Prevention Bill, aims to fight botnets with common sense – by making security software mandatory on users’ PCs.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Adobe Updates Flash, Reader, Acrobat to Fix Zero-Day Bug – Adobe has fixed and issued a security update to the zero-day vulnerability in its Flash Player. In addition, the company has updated older versions of Acrobat and Reader that could cause user systems to crash.

Google Fixes Six High-Risk Bugs in New Chrome Release – Google has released a new version of its Chrome browser, fixing six high-risk security bugs in the process and paying out $8,500 in bug bounties along the way.

Stalker-like apps are the most widespread Facebook scams – Based on the statistics provided by Bitdefender safego, a free Bitdefender tool designed to protect social network accounts from privacy risks, e-threats and spam, the infographic details the types of messages used as baits in the spreading of social scam. The top ranking bait is of the “see who viewed your profile” type and it lures users into finding out how many visitors their profiles have attracted.

WoW phishing email threatens with account termination – World of Warcraft players are often targeted by phishers whose goal is to get the login credentials to as many accounts possible and bleed them dry.

Mozilla Says It Erred in Not Disclosing Comodo Attack Earlier – Just days after news emerged of the attack on a registration authority in Europe tied to Comodo that caused the revocation of a number of fraudulent certificates from the major browsers, Mozilla officials have admitted that they made a mistake by not disclosing the details of the incident to its users earlier.

Malicious Ads Serving Malware to Spotify Users – Users of free music streaming service, Spotify are reporting that they have been the victims of drive-by malware attacks according to a report from Netcraft.

Company News:

 

Red Hat Closes in on $1 Billion in Revenue - Linux vendor continues to grow its business, as it closes the barn door on competitors by protecting its RHEL kernel. Three years ago, Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst predicted that his company would be the first pure-play open source vendor to hit $1 billion in revenues. Red Hat is now nearly there.

iDrive Portable Hard Drive – The iDrive Portable is a faster, local alternative to users of iDrive’s online backup service: It will work without an Internet connection or if you need that file restored sooner rather than later. It’s a decent, if otherwise nondescript portable hard drive.

Off Topic (Sort of):

 

Apple You DIDN’T Invent the App Store! – In their legal papers Apple misstates computer history to build their case as the inventor of the application store. Apple says, “…nothing like the App Store has ever been attempted before.” They go on to say that, “the term app store was not in general use” before July 8th, 2008 when they launched their version for the iPhone. A trip back in time reveals at least one popular one-click store which predates Apple’s attempt by at least 5 years. I know because I built it. (submitted by Dar)

Pop Quiz: Traditional hard drive types – Do you know the difference between ATA, SATA, SCSI, and SAS hard drives? Take this short quiz and test your knowledge of hard drive basics.

Why Prospects Won’t Visit Your SMB Website – Lisa Barone suggests some of the reasons that turn customers and prospects off from delving further into your small business website, including things like a lack of contact information on the home page, no or few external links and too much selling.

Poll: It is time to face facts and finally dump Windows XP - Microsoft Windows XP was first released to manufacturers in August 2001. That means in just a few short months Windows XP will be a 10-year old operating system. It also means that XP is based on 10-year old technology, 10-year old interface design, and 10-year old security. To put it simply, when it comes to software product cycles, Windows XP is just plain ancient.

Today’s Quote:

 

Success is not the result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire.”

-   Reggie Leach

Today’s Free Downloads:

 

SpyShelter Personal Free 5.12 - The SpyShelter monitors vulnerable and weak spots in your computer system to ensure that even the most advanced keyloggers are shut down even before these can launch a single dangerous attack against your computer. SpyShelter antikeylogger system is fast, efficient, and easy-to-use.

Dooble Web Browser 1.20 - Dooble is the little Web browser that can. One of the primary purposes of Dooble is to safeguard the privacy of its users. At its core lies the WebKit engine. A compact and simple code base ensures that both developers and users have access to Dooble’s internal functions.

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Filed under Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News