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2010-01-28

(in)Security for mobile phones

Want a secure, untappable mobile call? There's over a dozen products which *say* they can give you that security, but only three of them couldn't be cracked by one coder in half an hour.

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2010-01-21

Twenty dollar donation earns 74 times value in RPG e-books

Thanks to BoingBoing for posting a link to a real deal; donate $20 to Doctors Without Borders' Haitian relief, get $1,481 in 120 RPG e-books. Some duds; some superb.

2010-01-16

Be Very Careful at ATMs

Here's a security blog which shows a very professional 'skimmer'; a device which attaches to an ATM card slot, and both rips off the data from the ATM card magnetic stripe AND the PIN card you punch in. Be VERY careful at ATM machines from now on to make sure it does not have a skimmer attached, and watch your bank account balance diligently!

German government warns against using M$ Internet Explorer

The German government has warned web users to find an alternative browser to Internet Explorer to protect security. The warning from the Federal Office for Information Security comes after Microsoft admitted IE was the weak link in recent attacks on Google's systems.

Microsoft says the security hole can be shut by setting the browser's security zone to "high", although this limits functionality and blocks many websites. However, German authorities say that even this would not make IE fully safe.

Graham Cluley of anti-virus firm Sophos, told BBC News that not only did the warning apply to 6, 7 and 8 of the browser, but the instructions on how to exploit the flaw had been posted on the internet. "This is a vulnerability that was announced in the last couple of days. Microsoft have no patch yet and the implication is that this is the same one that exploited on the attacks on Google earlier this week," he said.

Full details at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/8463516.stm

2010-01-13

1/3 laptops fail in 3 years

http://www.squaretrade.com/htm/pdf/SquareTrade_laptop_reliability_1109.pdf analyzes laptop failure with some interesting results. Worth the time to read.

  • Netbooks have a 20% higher failure rate than laptops
  • Toshiba, ASUS fail the least
  • HP fails the most
And, if you think that PDF loaded too slowly, try Sumatra as an alternative to Adobe Reader.
  • Free
  • Fast
  • Open Source (see previous article on the subject)
  • 1.2MB installed instead of 335MB
  • Portable; runs from a USB Flash Drive

2010-01-12

Software you can trust - and it's free

There are a lot of websites offering 'free downloads' of software for Windows nowadays. A lot offer you what's called 'shareware' or 'crippledware'; you install it and then some important features (like, oh, say, saving) don't work until you upgrade by buying the next version. Some, even, come with 'phone home' programs which report on your use of the Internet.

Not to say all sites are bad; NoNags.com and FreewareGenius.com screen for such nonsense. But how do you really know what you download is good?

Answer: Use open source programs, where the programmers reveal all the programming files which went into the program. Other programmers therefore can see what it does, and they will (and have) scream bloody murder if there's badness involved.

http://osswin.sourceforge.net/ has a list pre-screened for Windows. If you don't find it there, look elsewhere in Sourceforge, part of the ThinkGeek media empire which includes the well-known Slashdot IT/Science news website.

Click on the blue [Filters] button, then in the spin box which appears, choose Operating Systems. From Operating Systems, choose 32-bit Windows (your variety), 64-bit Windows (if you have that flavor) or whatever OS you have.

Then go back to the filter line, select Exclude, Development Status, and choose Planning. Repeat the Exclusion on Development Status for Pre-alpha, Alpha and Beta (unless you are feeling adventurous).

A menu at left allows you to focus further on the category of program you're looking for. If you're looking for an accounting program, look under Databases (for all accounting programs rely on a database).

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2010-01-11

New TSA logo


BoingBoing points to a security expert's competition to design a new logo for the TSA.

Given their legendary incompetence, I do like the one at left, but that would be unkind to clowns.


2010-01-10

No Wonder We're So Secure

A 'public-private' partnership between the FBI and private industry has been as successful, evidently, as the rest of the Security Theater spawned in the wake of the attacks on the Twin Towers.

InfraGard is an information sharing and analysis effort serving the interests and combining the knowledge base of a wide range of members. At its most basic level, InfraGard is a partnership between the FBI and the private sector.
http://whois.net/whois/oregoninfragard.org shows the registry information of the website for Oregon Infragard; a 404'd website, despite its link from the Infragard official website.

Another sterling example of how well the Feds share data.

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