Category Archives: Miscellaneous

General stuff that doesn’t go anywhere else

Curiosity killed the Network

Secure Network Technologies Inc is a company responsible for providing many business related security services.  One of those services includes security auditing of participating organizations.  I had to laugh as I read a report submitted to Dark Reading, by Steve Stasiukonis, in which SNTI infiltrated a credit union by scattering USB drives containing Trojan software in the parking lot for employees to find.

I made my way to the credit union at about 6 a.m. to
make sure no employees saw us. I then proceeded to scatter the drives
in the parking lot, smoking areas, and other areas employees
frequented.

Once I seeded the USB drives, I decided to grab some coffee and
watch the employees show up for work. Surveillance of the facility was
worth the time involved. It was really amusing to watch the reaction of
the employees who found a USB drive. You know they plugged them into
their computers the minute they got to their desks
.

The credit union probably utilizes all sorts of expensive security mechanisms, only to be infected by a pure disregard for security by curious employees. 

Now I know why the federal government makes their employees participate in countless security briefings – at least if you infect their computer network you cannot say you didn’t know, and they can nail you to the wall for it.

http://www.darkreading.com/document.asp?doc_id=95556&WT.svl=column1_1

I’m Here

Well, here I am in Las Vegas, day #1 of the Mix conference. I’d have posted sooner but my hotel doesn’t offer Internet (sucky) – thank God for Microsoft conferences 🙂

So far I have taken advantage of Microsoft’s hospitality by – eating breakfast, tapping into the free wireless with my PDA, and playing with Windows Vista in the free Internet lounge.

Well, the keynote’s about to start, just enough time to grab another cup of coffee (the nights are long in Las Vegas).

More Later.

Died?

Have I died?

Fortunately (or unfortunately for some) I have not, but I have been insanely busy, and have had no time to read the blog posts of others, never mind write any blog posts of my own.  My current daytime project (let’s call it Fred) has been occupying all of my daytime working hours and many a good evening, but the good news is that it is drawing to a close.  Fred is due to finish at the end of February (horrah), after which time I have big plans to learn some really cool new technologies, which I am sure to blog about (at least those technologies that I am permitted to blog about). 

Technologies on my conquer list this year include: Windows Communication Foundation, Windows Presentation Foundation, a peek at Windows Vista, and Visual Studio Team System.  Hopefully Fred won’t interfere.

Meanwhile, it’s back to another couple of weeks of working late, and seeing new posts in my feed reader for Boing Boing top over a few hundred. 

TTFN.

Ding! Rob has posted again…

If, having your feed reader tell you that there is a new post on my blog, is not enough, then I come to your rescue with MSN Alerts.  Click the image link below (or on the side bar of my blog) and you can subscribe to receive an email or cell phone notification whenever I post a message on my blog.  Now you’ll know that I have something to say, when your cell phone beeps, as you’re driving home in your car 🙂

Time for a change

Summer Is the Best Time for These 6 Home Improvements

Best Summer Home Improvements

Photo: istockphoto.com

If you’ve been thinking about tackling some home improvement projects this summer, don’t delay! The dog days of summer are heading our way, and before you know it the cold weather will be coming back. These all-too-brief warmer months are ideal for outdoor projects like updating your home’s exterior, and they’re great for any work that requires a well-ventilated work space. If you let these nice days slip by, colder temperatures at the end of the season could hamper your efforts—or, in some cases, even negatively affect the quality of the improvements. Fortunately, with help from qualified professionals, you can get through your home improvement to-do list without sacrificing all your summer Fridays! Here are just a few home improvement projects that are tailor-made for summer.

 

Best Summer Home Improvements - Replacing Windows

Photo: istockphoto.com

1. Replacing Windows
Old, drafty windows are a major cause of heat loss during the winter months. They result in higher heating costs and lower levels of indoor comfort. If last year’s annual autumn ritual of caulking around the windows didn’t do much to stop the chill from seeping through, it’s probably time to call in the professionals for a window replacement, I fully suggest working with Massachusetts roofing and siding.

 

Best Summer Home Improvements - Re-Siding the House

Photo: istockphoto.com

2. Re-Siding Your Home’s Exterior
If your home’s siding is starting to flake and peel just a few years after a paint job, the siding may be past the point where a mere cover-up will suffice. Old siding is notorious for developing rot, mold, and mildew over time, all of which make it difficult for the siding to hold paint. Worse yet, loose or missing boards reduce your home’s weather resistance and contribute to higher heating and cooling costs. Fortunately, as with most exterior updates, the reliably warm weather of summer provides the best time to re-side.

Nothing increases curb appeal quite like new siding. The right style can transform a tired-looking house into the best-looking home on the block—and Sears Home Services is committed to offering styles to suit every homeowner. Customers can choose from a wide variety of colors, textures, and styles, from traditional horizontal board siding to siding that mimics wood-look shakes or even scalloped shingles. “We also offer high-quality, durable vinyl siding that comes with closed-cell foam backing for enhanced insulation,” Lincon says. “And, we warranty our siding against fading.” You can trust that a siding project completed this summer will give your home a sharper appearance and offer structural benefits to boot.

 

Best Summer Home Improvements - Replacing the Front Door

Photo: istockphoto.com

3. Swapping Out Your Entry Door
No matter how much time you spend pruning the hedges and mowing the yard, your home’s curb appeal will hold steady at mediocre if an eyesore of a front door detracts from the otherwise tidy appearance. Cracked, warped, or weathered entry doors not only look dismal, they often frustrate homeowners by sticking when opened or closed, or letting in drafts through a loose seal in the jamb. Sometimes, it’s a hassle just locking them! If you’re struggling with an entry door that’s seen better days, take care of it this summer so you’ll have a new door in place before the weather turns cold.

Sony is still advising users to install their rootkit…

Quoted from:  http://cp.sonybmg.com/xcp/english/howtouse.html

To install the software on this disc, you
must have Administrator rights on your computer.
Administrator rights are typically the default
setting for home computers, however, in many
work environments it is not the default setting.
If you do not have Administrator rights, log
out of your account and log in as an Administrator
.

The above statement should cause a light bulb to illuminate in your head. 

Q: Why would a least privileged user (LUA) require administrative permissions to play an audio CD on a Windows/Mac computer?
A: Because it is trying to install something nasty on your computer.

Yet another reason why I am an advocate for LUA.

Avoiding Sony’s DRM Rootkit

It may not have escaped your attention that Sony has been featured in
the news a lot recently, concerning proven allegations about Sony BMG
installing DRM root kits on Windows computers, belonging to consumers:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/4400148.stm

Essentially, root kits are malicious pieces of software that are
installed in the lower-levels of the Windows operating system, which
can hide from anti-spy ware and anti-virus checkers.  Sony
claim that they employed the use of root kits to install digital rights management
software on Windows PCs to limit the damage to the corporation as a
result of piracy.  Consumers believe that Sony has gone too far in
their efforts.  The root kit was originally discovered by Mark
Russinovich
after running “root kit revealer” – an application,
engineered by Sysinternals, to find root kits on a Windows platform –
on his computer.

So, how do you avoid Sony’s root kit, and any other root kit that might be lurking in software?

Operate your PC under LUA.  Root kit installers need access to low-level OS functions, drivers, and possibly the kernel to operate – non of these areas are available when running as LUA

LUA will not protect you from root kits hidden in software that you
actively install as an administrator, but will prevent passive
installers from burying root kits in your Windows operating system
without your knowledge.  So, you will still need to be diligent
when installing software (know where the software came from, is it
reputable?, is there any known press about the use of root kits
associated with the software vendor?), but will not have to worry so
much about hidden software being installed when you plop an audio CD or DVD in your
computer.