RSS

Category Archives: awful warnings

More on safer computing

It would appear to be like “safe sex” – not 100% reliable, but far better than nothing if you have good condoms.

Yahoo7 drew attention this afternoon to the top 100 infected sites based on number of threats detected by Norton Safe Web as of August 2009. They only offer the top 30 on that page, and so far as I can tell I have never been to any of them.

Why I have so interested in such things lately you may see from Multicultural Surry Hills, and How to Kill a Toshiba and Watching TV again: Jack Mundey; scary computer stuff.

What firewall do you use? Have a look at Proactive Security Challenge and look for yours in the list. You may get a shock. The ACER I am now using since the Toshiba was eaten by malware now has Outpost Firewall Free 2009 in place of the Windows one. The ACER also came packaged with McAfee Internet Security 2009 which according to the Proactive Challenge has a security rating of 2/10 and scored 12%!

Advertisements
 
3 Comments

Posted by on August 20, 2009 in awful warnings, computers, web stuff, www

 

Watching TV again: Jack Mundey; scary computer stuff

1. The good Communist

Back in Cold War days Prime Minister Robert Menzies attempted to ban the Communist Party of Australia. The Australian people rejected the idea – not that the Communists were not subjected to zealous monitoring by intelligence agencies. That went on into much more recent times, and no doubt people on the extremes both of left and right still attract attention. I remember when my Wollongong friend The Red Dragon (cordon bleu cook extraordinaire and avid Bridge player) rang me in the early 1980s to warn me that now she was General Secretary or some such of the Illawarra Branch of the party her phone was tapped. She knew this because one night there was a click on her phone and a voice cut in saying “You take this Bill, I have to go and have a leak.” Since her phone mostly was used for social – not socialist – purposes such as Bridge and recipes, she subsequently used to apologise to the tappers from time to time for boring them so much.)  Unfortunately during the Dragon’s term of office the Communist Party of Australia dissolved itself.

All that aside, Australia’s favourite Communist no doubt has been Jack Mundey – and perhaps poet Dame Mary Gilmore. Last night Talking Heads had a good interview with Mundey.

PETER THOMPSON: Jack, you’ve never been just a hardliner. You’ve always been…
JACK MUNDEY: Intelligent. My interest has always been organisation for the cause that I’m fighting, and I’ve just stuck to that.
PETER THOMPSON: Australia is pretty much a paradise, though it’s far from being the sort of workers’ paradise you had in mind.
JACK MUNDEY: I don’t know about paradise, but I hope that the future for humanity is all the things that I expect it to be.

Not a dogmatist in other words.

2. Scary computer stuff

Four Corners last night was really quite scary, especially after my recent sad experience of malware eating my Toshiba – and that Malware disabled the antivirus and deleted all the restore points before itself as well as disabling the USB ports and the CD/DVD.

r417180_1978514

…Authorities are now working hard to keep up with the crooks. They are having trouble though. Crooks working from countries in Eastern Europe are hard to catch. Home-grown criminals are easier to bring down, but police reveal the legal system doesn’t treat cyber-theft with the seriousness it deserves. One young man stole more than 50,000 credit cards card details but received a suspended one year sentence, $2,000 good behaviour bond and court costs of $150.

Adding to the problem, most computer users don’t realise how vulnerable they are. Four Corners took an e-security expert to an ordinary city street and asked him to assess computer security. Using a basic wireless interceptor our expert found he could tap into up to 20 per cent of wireless computer networks, potentially accessing bank accounts and other personal information. Even those systems that had been encrypted took just 10 minutes to crack. No wonder police are warning we are right to have"Fear in the Fast Lane".

Whether this story in today’s Sydney Morning Herald is entirely true or not – and it may well be – it certainly highlights another concern.

AUSTRALIA’S diplomats have been warned about a fake email amid concerns it could be part of a cyber espionage attempt, possibly originating from China.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed yesterday staff had been briefed about a suspicious email sent to several staff last month. The source of the email is under investigation by the department’s communications experts. ASIO and the AFP would not comment yesterday on whether they were also investigating the email.

A report in the Canberra Times said the email was suspected to have originated from China and was headed ”Australia-China Free Trade Agreement Negotiations Update”. It reportedly targeted officials who work on China-related matters.

A spokeswoman for the department would not say whether the email was believed to have come from China.

”It is not Government practice to comment on intelligence issues,” she said.

Update

Prompted by Major Geeks I downloaded and installed a-squared Free 4.5. Yes, I have lots of other “condoms” on, including Malware Bytes, Windows Defender, Avast!, Spyware Doctor and Threatfire, but on its first test run at on demand scanning a-squared found two major threats that had thus far escaped detection: Backdoor:Win32/VB.IK and TrojanDownloader:Win32/Banload.IK! Both are rated severe threats by Microsoft.

 

Multicultural Surry Hills, and How to Kill a Toshiba

So I go downstairs to Elizabeth Street shops this morning: the Chinese corner shop, the Cambodian coffee shop, the mixed ethnic pharmacy, the Indian newsagent, the Indonesian grocery, and the Cambodian fish and chip shop – brother of the coffee shop. All Australian of course, 21st century style. Over the road it’s just about all Lebanese, except for another Chinese grocery and internet cafe and a Thai restaurant. Further towards Cleveland Street on my side there’s the Indonesian/Malaysian cafe/restaurant (jazz on Sundays), the allegedly bikie-owned backpacker place, the Lebanese Italian pizza joint, the Lebanese grocery and internet cafe, and the Lebanese restaurant. The Turkish mosque is just around the corner in Cleveland Street.

So I go into the Indonesian grocery and there is this preschooler – such a cutie – sitting up at the laptop and actually using it, his mother supervising. So computers can’t be hard, can they, if preschoolers can use them…

That puts my recently challenged geekdom in place.

Because, as you know from last week, I am guilty of Toshibacide. Thought I’d tell you more about how I did it.

Lovely machine it was too, a fetching shade of red, but at three years old starting to show its age. But we were happy. After all, who am I to complain about limited resources? That’s the story of my life. But it used to complain to me about some programs, particularly whenever I had a stint with Threatfire. It couldn’t quite cope, what with its 448 meg usable memory and all.

So I was being kind and updating a few drivers from DriverMax, which gets nice green things from WOT and McAfee Site Advisor. Unfortunately I hadn’t read this.

This crapware is really potential malware. They connect you without permission to an unregulated forum and if you are not an advanced user then you could easily download the wrong driver that could cause your computer to stop working or even worse a virus disguised as a driver.
The rating system is very suspicious and just because it shows hundreds of idiots (I sometimes suspect they may not even be users but malicious hackers) say they downloaded a driver from another so called user that uploaded what they claim to be an updated driver, doesn’t mean it is even an authorized nor appropriate driver for you device. The reports are also generated by these so called users so even if your drivers are up to date, if one person claims an update then it will deceive you into downloading whatever the file is. When they report hundreds of different drivers for one specific device then you really have to begin questioning what the hell they are doing.

Well, at first all was well. I downloaded some good updates. Then, oh my! (Perhaps Threatfire may have saved my poor Toshiba?) Down came this “driver” willy-nilly, no questions asked, which proceeded to disable the Antivirus, cut off all communication to the DVD drive and all USB ports, rearrange a few files, and – worst of all – deleted all the restore points before itself. Result, one very sick Toshiba. It still works in a limited way, but you can’t communicate with it, if you see what I mean, or even do a clean install and start again. Toshibacide.

Now on my ACER Extensa I have just installed Threatfire, and yesterday Malware Bytes. Why? Because yesterday Spybot Search and Destroy told me I had 12 instances of infection with a BHO Trojan. This trojan only invades Internet Explorer, and it may have become attached in one of those intervals when the computer was unprotected while I changed over to Avast! from McAfee (which came with the computer) and a series of other internet condoms. Certainly Vista didn’t send up any nagging popup about it, as it regularly does for quite innocent programs – even Microsoft programs sometimes.  Spybot could only fix seven of the twelve infections, but Malware Bytes disposed of the rest.

So my geekdom has received a blow, and I am being extra careful with my new partner Extensa. It is also now totally backed up onto an external hard disk.

Don’t touch DriverMax with a barge pole. 😦

 

Yacqub Khayre and Holsworthy plot

Everyone in Australia will be aware of the plot uncovered recently in which it is alleged a small band of Somalis planned to attack the Holsworthy Barracks in South-West Sydney. (Note Jim Belshaw’s reservations in his post Australia’s dumb would be terrorists. Note too that the presumption of innocence applies to these men. There is no way we should allow terrorism to water down our own hard-won legal system.)

Given all that, its is well worth reading for humanity’s sake the admirable story Ibrahim Khayre and Somalia | Yacqub Khayre and Holsworthy plot | Selma Milovanovic in today’s Sydney Morning Herald.

IBRAHIM KHAYRE wipes away tears and shakes his head.

To him, the story of his nephew, Yacqub Khayre, an accused terrorist, is one of a system that failed an intelligent boy.

It is a story that began in the chaos of war in Mogadishu in 1991, when Ibrahim, who was already living in Australia, brought three-year-old Yacqub and his family here from Somalia to save them.Yacqub grew up in Melbourne’s Gladstone Park and was schooled locally, before becoming friends with Lebanese boys who were a ‘‘bad influence’’.

This week it ended in the arrest of Yacqub, 21, who is alleged to have travelled to Somalia this year, where he attended a camp where ‘‘weapons and military training may have happened’’. At the same time, his co-accused allegedly sought a religious ruling to give the group, suspected members of jihadist sect al-Shabab, approval to attack the Holsworthy army base and a military target in Victoria.

Ibrahim Khayre is a law-abiding citizen who runs a coffee shop. He is not religious, looks after his family and otherwise keeps to himself. He migrated to Australia in 1985 and, in 1991, brought his brother, Yacqub’s father, to Australia along with the rest of the family…

In 2006, the police rang him, trying to track down Yacqub. ‘‘I said, ‘I don’t know where he is. You took him from my house. He could be sleeping with terrorists for all I know.’’’

He saw his nephew once, a year later, but the next time Ibrahim heard of Yacqub was on Tuesday, when a man showed him a newspaper front page in his coffee shop.

Ibrahim says the system let him down. ‘‘The state who said we want to help, they did not. They left him out in the cold. It’s the Government that tied our hands.’’

Ibrahim sits at home, plagued by insomnia, crying constantly. His tears flow as he utters the words he says he thought he would never say. He regrets bringing his family to Australia, even though it saved their lives.

Another issue in this case is the use of private unarmed guards at Australian military bases. I first noted this practice sometime in the 1980s at Victoria Barracks in Sydney and thought 1) they looked inappropriate compared with actual soldiers manning the gates and 2) what a silly way to save money. I see the government is going to review this absurd policy. I wonder too how sophisticated electronic and CCTV surveillance is around such bases. It strikes me they should be very sophisticated, but I somehow doubt they are. In the old days no-one would really have imagined a terrorist attack on such things, the worst scenario way back then being peace demonstrators who are not generally homicidal.

Thomas noted on Twitter that the story was carrying Melbourne-Sydney rivalry just a bit too far. 😉 He lives not far from Holsworthy, I should add, near enough to hear when they are practising with their artillery, as I also did as a kid growing up in Sutherland.

Addendum

isirmohamud_wideweb__470x3110

Could apply to this post too.

 

Yes the new computer has a webcam…

Sorry about the subject!

horror

 
3 Comments

Posted by on August 5, 2009 in awful warnings, personal

 

Computer tragedy

I have boasted recently of my growing geekdom, but I crashed and burned last Friday! Somehow I downloaded a nasty bit of malware – I think I know how and caution you against any site offering free drivers – and the poor Toshiba had all its restore points prior to the malware wiped, had a few files rearranged, and all access to USB and DVD/CD destroyed. You know what that means: all fixes are off! Running antivirus and antimalware programs did nought. Too late, she cried!

Thanks to Sirdan I now have an ACER 4230 with a 2 gig dual core processor, 160 gig HDD and Vista. So much time downloading updates and restoring and setting up favourite programs – but no shonky driver updaters!

I am now back in business, as you see. One or two things I am still catching up on.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 3, 2009 in awful warnings, computers

 

I have temporarily removed Firefox 3.5 from my computer

This follows a highly critical alert from Secunia. I like Firefox, so I’ll probably reinstall it asap. Meanwhile I have made Google Chrome my default browser. It gets 100% thumbs up from Secunia. IE8 doesn’t, but the risk there is rated moderate, but I don’t use IE8 often.

Update 16 July

I have reinstalled Firefox, despite the warning, hoping my various cyber condoms make the problem less significant. I am nonetheless keeping Chrome as my default browser for the time being. It is less resource hungry than it was when I first tried it and it certainly looks good.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on July 15, 2009 in awful warnings, computers, web stuff