Beware of Valentine’s Day Emails

Multiple security vendors, including MX Logic Inc. , Trend Micro Inc. and Panda Security, have issued alerts about new Valentine’s Day-themed spam campaigns that try to dupe users into installing the Waledec bot.

Subject lines for the spam, said Sam Masiello , vice president of information security at MX Logic, are “short and sweet,” and include “Me and You,” “In Your Arms” and “With all my love.” From the spam, users who browse to the embedded link reach a site with a dozen hearts, any one of which download an executable file when clicked.

“Clearly the old Storm folks are working as hard as they can to build up their new botnet, and are following the old tried-and-true methods of centering their social engineering tactics around holiday themes,” said Masiello in a post to the MX Logic blog .

“But it still impresses me that tactics like this continue to work and be so effective, despite how many times it gets recycled,” Masiello said in an interview today.

Storm used Valentine’s Day spam in both 2007 and 2008 to hijack PCs.

via New botnet resurrects Storm’s Valentine’s Day ruse – Network World.


Great Tool for Sending Notes to Yourself – JOTT

A couple of months back I recommended a great online service that allows you to call a toll free number to send a message to yourself or a contact. The service transcribes your message and sends the text and the sound file to your email or your contact’s email. You can read more about the service here – JOTT.

Beginning February 2nd, they are doing away with the free, basic version and going with annual plans. They’re still low cost and very much worth the price, but what I like is that they have a pay as you go plan. If you don’t use the service a lot, though once you start using it, you’ll use it more often, you can purchase a chunk of minutes and your usage will deduct from those minutes. This is very reasonable. Also, they don’t round up minutes. If your message is 23 seconds, they just deduct 23 seconds, not 25, not 30.

Still a great product for a very reasonable price.  You can get to the site here.

Some Cool Technology I’ve Been Playing With

LeapFish is a multi-dimensional metadata search engine that combines the best of the web in a single search. It searches Google, Yahoo, MSN, Amazon, and Youtube. They recently released its new click free search interface that delivers search results as you type. The brand new search engine  now offers one of the world’s fastest search services with instantaneous results as each character of a search term is entered. Give it a try.

YouMail provides you with a free cell phone voicemail service that allows you to better express your personality and be more productive. YouMail users can personalize greetings based on caller ID recording greetings themselves, or easily choosing from a large and growing library of user-generated greetings and away messages. YouMail users can also access their cell phone voicemail over the Web or in their e-mail, to easily share special voicemails and save them forever. The service is free. When someone calls and goes to voicemail, they are actually leaving a message at YouMail. The program notifies you via text that you have an an email, and/or you’ll get the message in an email with a link to the voicemail, which you can listen to online.

WatchThatPage is a service that enables you to automatically collect new information from your favorite pages on the Internet. You select which pages to monitor, and WatchThatPage will find which pages have changed, and collect all the new content for you. The new information is presented to you in an email and/or a personal web page. You can specify when the changes will be collected, so they are fresh when you want to read them. The service is free!*

Recording industry to cut back on lawsuits

The Recording Industry Association of America said that it will cut back on lawsuits to combat illegal online music sharing because it has enlisted leading Internet service providers to discipline individuals it accuses of pirating copyrighted works.

The trade association said certain Internet carriers, which it did not name, have agreed in principle to impose escalating penalties on customers who ignore repeated warnings that they are breaking the law by distributing free songs. The association is negotiating for sanctions that could include the suspension or permanent termination of Internet service.

Digital rights groups rejoiced over the recording association’s announcement that it will limit its long-running campaign of legal action against individuals such as college students, who often were pressured to pay thousands of dollars to settle the lawsuits.

But the consumer groups said Internet service providers should not be cast in the role of “copyright cops” who can cut off online access based only on industry accusations that are never put to the test in court.

via Recording industry to cut back on lawsuits.

Is your computer sending out spam or viruses without you knowing it?

Sometimes computers seem to have a life of their own. In some cases, they do. Your computer may be part of a network of computers that are sending our spam and viruses to other computers, and you don’t even know it.

I’d like for you to read this article from the Free PC Security blog that explains what Bots are and how to find out if your computer is one: Botnets – Are You One?

PC security is critical in this day and age. There are plenty of free tools that will diagnose and protect your computers. I’ve posted a few earlier articles that address this. Take a look back.

Internet Security: What is it and why do I need it? and What Free Security Programs can Protect My PC?

What Free Security Programs Can Protect My PC? – PC World

What Free Security Programs Can Protect My PC?

Lincoln Spector

Jan 12, 2009 3:44 pm

You really can protect your PC with free software, but there’s a price. Multiple free security programs usually aren’t as easy to use as one pricey suite. Your less likely to get decent support (perhaps I should say even less likely). And they lack features like antispam and child protection which you may or may not need. All of the companies that give away security programs sell more feature-rich versions, which come with better support and additional features.

On the other hand, they’re free. And they have less overhead than the big suites, so they won’t slow down your PC as much.

What do you need? First and foremost, a good firewall (the one that comes with Windows doesn’t qualify) and real-time antivirus protection. (The term antivirus is somewhat misleading. In their current versions, these programs protect you from all sorts of malware, not just viruses.) It’s also a good idea to get a second malware fighter–one that you don’t run in real-time. It’s like going to another doctor for a second opinion–except it doesn’t cost anything.

Start with the Comodo firewall. It regular beats out the not-for-free firewalls in independent tests. It’s not the easiest firewall in the world–it gets in your face an awful lot with questions that would confuse most novices–but PC World readers should be able to handle it.

Comodo recently added antivirus, making itself the first free suite. But I’ve yet to see any independent test results on Comodo’s antivirus, and therefore don’t trust it. So, when you install Comodo, uncheck the Antivirus option and just install the firewall.

That means you need separate antivirus software. Go with Avast. It’s free, uninstrusive, and did very well on AV-Comparitive’s last round of tests.

I’ll give you two choices for extra protection, and there’s no real reason not use both of them. They are SuperAntiSpyware and Malwarebytes. Scan your hard drive with one or the other of them every week or so–and if you suspect something.

via What Free Security Programs Can Protect My PC? – PC World.

By-the-way, the posts of another individual whom  I respect can be found here – Colin always has some fresh insight on security, which he tests out on his own systems. I’d recommend signing up for his blog.

The bell tolls for your magnetic media | Tech Broiler |

Don’t wait to try to retrieve the data and content from your magnetic media. Chances are, some of it may already be unrecoverable and highly degraded. Act now.

If you’ve got any kind of magnetic media (computer floppy disks or tapes), and you give a crap about anything that’s stored on them, I urge you to transition them off to a more stable digital storage medium immediately. We’re now at the cusp of which virtually any data from the 1990’s stored on floppy might be unusable, depending on the conditions in which they were kept. If you’ve got 5.25 inch floppies, you might even be completely out of luck, since it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find systems that can read them or haven’t lost their drive calibration to the point where doing a file dump is next to impossible. Many of the newer systems aren’t even capable of being cabled to a new floppy drive, but you can still buy USB-based units.

Magnetic storage degradation isn’t unique to floppy disks, either. With the HDTV transition, many people will have a renewed interest in being able to view their existing VHS libraries on the newer sets. While a number of low-cost solutions for viewing the material on the newer sets are available, there is still the issue of ongoing media degradation.

After about 15-20 years, VHS tapes will dramatically start to lose quality whether you watch them or not. So for those of you with wedding and home videos from the 1990’s, if you haven’t had them converted over to DVDs yet, you might want to think about doing so soon. If you had wedding videos done in the last 10 years and the videographer is still in business, you might even want to consider finding out if he still has the original Betacam masters and can convert it for you.

A number of companies will do a professional job on your VHS tapes with commercial equipment, particularly if you have certain videos that have special value to you, or need to have them digitally remastered. These companies will charge anywhere between $10 and $25 per tape if the source media is still relatively good. If you have a lot of videos, you might want to look into black box devices such as the ADS DVD Xpress DX2, which for about $80 will allow you to transfer directly from your VCR to your computer and burn DVDs.

via The bell tolls for your magnetic media | Tech Broiler |

Tweak Internet Explorer’s Default Search Engine

Tweak Internet Explorer’s Default Search Engine

By default, Internet Explorer 7’s search box taps Windows Live Search–not the least bit surprising given that the latter is Microsoft’s baby. Unfortunately… hmmm, how to put this politely… Windows Live Search bites.

The good news is, there’s an easy to tweak Internet Explorer so it uses the search engine of your choice. Like, say, Google. Here’s how:

1. Start Internet Explorer.

2. Click Tools, Internet Options.

3. In the General tab, find the Search section and click Settings.

4. If Google is listed, click it and then click Set Default. If not, click Find more providers, then click Google and follow the instructions. As you’ll see, Google is just one of the available options.

That’s it! Now, when you click inside IE’s search box and type a query, you’ll get results from Google–or whatever search provider you set as the default.

Want to change it back? Click the pull-down menu on the right side of the search box and choose Change Search Defaults.

via Secret Tech Tips From Hassle-Free PC – PC World.

Do you have a frozen Zune 30?

Zune 30’s all over the world locked up during the night and will not turn back on. Microsoft is aware of the problem and has this to say at the “official Zune” ( site:

My Zune 30 is frozen. What should I do?

Follow these steps:

  1. Disconnect your Zune from USB and AC power sources.
  2. Because the player is frozen, its battery will drain—this is good. Wait until the battery is empty and the screen goes black. If the battery was fully charged, this might take a couple of hours.
  3. Wait until after noon GMT on January 1, 2009 (that’s 7 a.m. Eastern or 4 a.m. Pacific time).
  4. Connect your Zune to either a USB port on the back or your computer or to AC power using the Zune AC Adapter and let it charge.

Once the battery has sufficient power, the player should start normally. No other action is required—you can go back to using your Zune!

My Zune 30 has been working fine today. Should I be worried?

Nope, your Zune is fine and will continue to work as long as you do not connect it to your computer before noon GMT on January 1, 2009 (7 a.m. Eastern or 4 a.m. Pacific time).

Note: If you connect your player to a computer before noon GMT on January 1, 2009,  you’ll experience the freeze mentioned above—even if that computer does not have the Zune software installed. If this happens, follow the above steps.