The Internet is the Wild, Wild West…

… and there ain’t no Sheriff in town! Just like the western frontier, the Internet is a place where opportunity abounds, but it is not without danger.  If you understand risk, manage uncertainly and protect yourself from diabolical people, the Internet is a magical place. When online, a good rule to follow is “when in doubt – don’t.” Two main problems with the Internet are that 1) there are more scammers than can be counted and 2) it is hard, sometimes impossible, to determine authenticity. In the Wild, Wild West if some cowboy came riding up to you, you’d better be a quicker shot or have a trusted friend covering your back.  You could never take any chances because there were all kinds of hoodlums out there, alone or in gangs, that were trying to separate you from your property.  And if you had established your homestead (website, email address), you’d have even more to worry … [Read more...]

Your Package Has Been Returned and Your SSL Certificate is Suspended!

We have a very good Spam filter, but still every now and then a phishing email will slip through.  My business email is easy to find so I get  a wide assortment of unsolicited emails. This week I received a deviation on a scam that has been around for years - your package was returned and click this link to get it.  I also received one that my LogMein SSL Certificate had been suspended - click here to fix. Of course, the links are malicious and at least, would come with some irritating pop-ups and at worse, steal your identity, seize your system and ruin your computer. These exploits are designed to cause an immediate emotional response that will make you click before your think.  Because if you look closer, the fraud is apparent.  The mail and parcel carriers do not typically use email for package routing information although some will let you elect mobile or email notification.  The … [Read more...]

DNSChanger – The Apocalyptic Computer Virus

The day they turned off the safety net servers for victims of DNSChanger came and went with little incident. For months, the FBI and computer professionals had been warning that infected computers would lose their Internet connection if the virus was not removed. All that warning paid off as no one complained that they had been affected but then they may all be disconnected from the Internet. Not to make light of a very serious situation, but this was reminiscent of the Year 2000 or Y2K computer scare.  So many reported that computer systems around the world would lock up or do worse by sending random commands that would disrupt financial, power and emergency systems everywhere.  The basic problem was that older programs did not leave enough space for a four-digit year like 2012.  For years, programs had been using two-digits like 95 for 1995.  You can see how this would cause … [Read more...]

Does your computer need a backdoor?

Even the most experienced system administrator will occasionally forget their password or get locked out of the system. It is not uncommon for admin or super users to create a backdoor so that they can quickly access the system without a password reset. Computer equipment manufacturers and vendors also quietly implement this backdoor method, but backdoors have consequences on system security that may leave you at risk. Whether you call it a backdoor, trapdoor or Trojan horse, these methods should be known to only a trusted few.  When equipment vendors put something in place so that they can gain system access, especially when they make it permanent, they will be criticized for sacrificing security for convenience. On any system, security and convenience have an inverse relationship.  The more secure a system, the harder to access.  The more accessible, the lower the security. … [Read more...]

Religion Versus Porn

The Internet is a dangerous place.  It is the Wild, Wild West and there ain't no sheriff in town.  Many ponder on why people create malware, viruses and malicious code. To make money, to get a thrill? Perhaps it helps to know why if you are fighting these types of criminals, but for the general Internet user you just have to protect yourself. For years, I have said that religious sites have the highest risk of malware. A recent study by Symantec has confirmed my suspicion and in fact, religious sites have more malware threats than porn sites because they get hacked much more often. This makes perfect sense if you think about it.  In most cases, religious sites are more likely to be administered by non-professionals with the intent of getting their message out to devotees.  Porn sites are run by professionals with the intent of making money and they don’t want anyone cutting in on … [Read more...]