Archive for the ‘cybersecurity’ Category

Watch out for identity theft

Identity theft has become one of the fastest growing crimes in North America. There are a number of ways identity theft can happen:

  1. Card theft: theft of credit cards from wallets or purses or even newly issued cards from your mailbox.
  2. Shoulder surfing: looking over your shoulder for your Personal Identification Number and using a fake ATM device to read your debit card’s data.
  3. Skimming: using a special device to swipe your credit card at a restaurant or gas station which records the personal information from your card.
  4. Spoofing: creating fake websites or emails that ask for credit card information.
  5. Theft from databases: identity thieves stealing large databases of personal information.

There are steps you can take to protect yourself:

  • Sign all credit cards when you receive them and never lend them to anyone.
  • Cancel and destroy credit cards you do not use and keep a list of the ones you use regularly.
  • Carefully check each of your monthly credit card statements and your bank statements. Immediately report lost or stolen credit cards and any discrepancies in your monthly statements to the issuing credit card company or bank.
  • Shred or destroy paperwork you no longer need.
  • Do not give personal information out over the phone, through the mail, or over the Internet unless you are the one who initiated the contact and know the person or organization with whom you are dealing.

If you are a victim of identity theft, immediately contact your bank or credit card company, your local police and the OPP/RCMP Phonebusters Unit at 1-888-495-8501, E-mail: info@phonebusters.com

http://www.dynamic.ca/eng/learning/Personal-Finances/Consumer-Watch-Out-For-Identity-Theft.asp

The RSA leak exposes the dirty under-belly of the commercial security industry, it’s a story that sounds like it’s straight out of Hollywood.

Then – We’ve packed this episode full of Audience questions, and our answers. Find out how to plan for failure, start building a website….

All that and more, on this week’s TechSNAP!

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Tonight I was asked “Why do I hate microsoft so much?”Well it isn’t that I hate microsoft per say, it wasn’t all that long ago I was a MS shareholder. And for a long time I was a frequent attendee at any and all MS events I could get into. For the longest time I would always be using (and pushing the) the latest and greatest for MS.

Then three things came together to change everything! First, even with the latest and greatest from MS, I was having increasing computer problems….crashes, viruses, malware, popups, etc… And more and more I was discovering features would not work. Sometimes they weren’t even features, just the claimed (by MS) benefits that I (as a user) would reap and make my computer usage new and exciting!

In the end it didn’t happen. I would discover that some additional (and expensive) piece of software was needed. Like Exchange to use the best features of Outlook. Or the feature sounded great but would have little use to an individual. Like Document Collaboration in Word, best used in a Fortune 500 environment.

The second thing was programming. I tried very much to program and web development using MS technology and tools. However I kept finding they had overly complicated everything. Look at embedding an ActiveX component in a web page vs embedding flash. Or connecting a database in ASP vs PHP.

PHP and javascript opened my eyes to the world of open source…

The third thing. Once I took a look at the open source world I realized there is a better way. Not only have I found the software to be better. The philosophy of open source makes way more sense then the MS way.

No one ever buys MS software. You effectively rent it. And under VERY restrict terms. The way MS uses EULAs, copyrights, and patents just isn’t right.

Just image what the world would be like if we used the same model for applying intellectual property rights that we use for software to everything else. Taking in to consideration the statutory life of a patent relative to the life cycle of a piece of software.

Ford Motor Co. wouldn’t bother building cars, they’d just be licensing the assembly line. Only GM cars would have seat-belts. All telephones would be made by Bell.

Libraries couldn’t exist. How dare someone think of buying just one copy of a piece of copyrighted work. And then sharing amongst a community! And what about schools and their textbooks? Oh well! Schools and libraries haven’t contributed much to society! Who needs them as long as Bill Gates gets his royalties.

Just look at how MS treats users

The philosophy of open source, may be great from an academic view point, but what about the reality? Well the software is just simply better.

In the twenty or so machines I either own or am the sole tech support for… When all was MS based I had to deal with an average of 1000 infections per week! Most didn’t cause any damage because I religiously ran virus/malware/spyware scanners. It was happening with multiple firewalls in place. Then I made one small simple change…. I locked down two programs from being used, Internet Explorer and MSN Messanger. Replaced them with alternatives, Opera and Gaim. From that point on I have NEVER had to deal with more the two infections in one single week!

Most tech-savy computer users I know have half their task bar filled with notification icons for different security/virus scanning/firewall software. I saw one once were with no open/running apps, just the desktop… 18 out of 40 processes were security related! That’s a HUGE allotment of system resources allocated just to security!

It’s late, and this post is long. Another day I will rant why Vista is the best marketing Linux could have ever asked for. Cheers cheers

  

To contact me, check out my Contact Me page.

To Learn more about me, check out my About Me page.

“Windows [n.]
A thirty-two bit extension and GUI shell to a sixteen bit patch to an eight bit operating system originally coded for a four bit microprocessor and sold by a two-bit company that can’t stand one bit of competition.”

  

To contact me, check out my Contact Me page.

To Learn more about me, check out my About Me page.

Are you practicing safe web surfing?  Probably not, most people don’t.  Many ‘think’ they are safe.  “I have virus filters and spam filters, and I don’t go to websites I don’t know.”, paraphrases the response I get from most people.  I hope you don’t consider a bug screen over an open window as contributing to your home security.  Bug screens keep bugs out of your house, not crooks!.  And a bug screen doesn’t stop the mosquitoes from bitting when you’re outside.  Viruses and spam can be used to steal your identity or personal information, but they are not the only threats to your cybersecurity.

The single largest cybersecurity threat is DOS.  Not the very old operating system that is still at the heart of Windows.  DOS, Deficit Operator Syndrome.  Computer users behaving badly.  Sorry, but I have never found any fix, patch, or work around for this issue.  Best just to keep your distance and hope it isn’t contagious.

The second largest, is Internet Explorer,  Microsoft’s web browser.  This you can’t fix, but you can replace.  And it’s not just Internet Explorer (IE), but any program that uses / accesses IE’s libraries for rendering web content.  This would included: Outlook, Outlook Express, and Windows Messenger (aka MSN Messenger, aka Windows Live Messenger).

First let me explain my reasoning.  Microsoft made two conscious choices that have opened and left open huge security holes in IE.  First, instead of having code to render web content included in every program that needs it, they have all the different programs simply start a background mini session of IE.  The idea being why have the essentially same code included into a whole lot of programs.  Two problems: One, any bugs or holes in IE are automatically in everything; Two IE is huge bulky inefficient code in the first place.  This is like saying “Let car pool! To be more efficient”, then doing so in a Freight-liner pulling a full trailer.  The second problem is ActiveX.  which are mini compiled programs that run inside web pages and IE.  Microsoft allows ActiveX code to have direct access to your computer.  This is unlike other similar technology (Java, Javascript, Flash, Shockwave, Quicktime plug-in) which are effectively restricted to the browser space.

The solution is to stop using IE and programs that utilize IE libraries.  There are numerous other web browsers: Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Safari, SeaMonkey, etc….   Just don’t switch to one that uses IE as it’s core, like Avant, Bento, Enigma, Maxthon, Realplayer, MSN Explorer.  These are effectively re-skinned versions of IE.  I often use multiple browsers simultaneous (Don’t ask why, that’s a whole other post!), but Firefox tends to always be one that is open.

Switch to Firefox (any other browser, that doesn’t use IE to render web content).  Sometime in the near future I’ll write part 2.  Were I will explain how to make Firefox ALOT more secure then it comes standard.