[Geeks are Sexy] technology news

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Security community rejoice: NMAP 4.0 is OUT!

Two years after the release of version 3.50, Insecure.Org just announce the immediate, free availability of the Nmap Security Scanner v.4.00. Nmap is pretty much the best free port scanner available on the internet today.

Changes since version 3.50 include a rewritten (for speed and memory efficiency) port scanning engine, ARP scanning, runtime interaction, massive version detection improvements, MAC address spoofing, increased Windows performance, 500 new OS detection fingerprints, and completion time estimates. Dozens of other important changes, and future plans for Nmap, are also listed in the release announcement.

Check it out.

Subpoenaing the world's information

Security focus has always been for me among the most comprehensive and trusted source of security information on the Internet. Everything you need to know about IT security always end up on there. Mark Rasch, former head of the Justice Department’s computer crime unit, pubbed this very interesting article about the real impact of what the US government is trying to do when they stick their pointy nose in everybody's virtual life, not only in the US, but also worldwide.

"The Google subpoena fight isn't really about the anonymous data at issue here today. It is really about the way the government can "deputize" unwilling private companies who collect and maintain massive databases to act as their agents in the future. Want someone's credit report? Don't subscribe to Experian and subject yourself to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, just whip out a subpoena. Want to engage in massive warrantless domestic surveillance of e-mail communications? Don't mess with FISA, Title III, ECPA, or even any Presidential inherent authority. Just pass a law (like the ones just passed in Europe) mandating that ISPs and phone companies retain such data, and then subpoena not just one person's emails, but everyone's - as long as it is relevant to some issue in some litigation somewhere. Let's just create a single massive database of what everyone is doing all the time, and let anyone "dip" into it whenever it is deemed to be relevant to settling some dispute."

Read more

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Monday, January 30, 2006

Corporate anti-spam at its best: GFI Mail Essentials

With the increasing and ever present problem of spam email, several of my users came running to me last year, begging me to find them a solution against their spam problem. One of them was actually crying and groveling in front of me, telling me she couldn't endure seeing those V1@Gr@ emails anymore. Being an all-around nice guy and an IT super-hero, I couldn't really refuse their request. I had to find a server-side anti-spam software that would be able to run on an exchange mail server and would be affordable enough so that management would not put my head on the block when I would be showing them the price quotation. After trying out a few solutions on a test server, my choice stopped on a most excellent application from GFI: GFI Mail Essentials. In addition of being affordable, Mail Essentials is not only easy to install, but also features rich.

Like I said before, the application is server-side, so you only need to install it directly on the mail server or at the gateway. The advantage of this is that you do not have to deploy the solution on multiple desktops and administration is done from a central location. This way, you can save hours of work, letting you waste more of your valuable time on the Internet. Exciting isn't it? After all, everyone knows that system administrators do nothing all day long except surf the web, it's a well known fact.


To catch spam effectively, Mail Essentials uses several filtering technologies to determine what's considered as spam and what's not. Here is a list of those technologies:

  • Sender Policy Framework: allows you to check whether a particular email sender is forged or not. Most of today's spammers use forged email addresses.
  • Whitelist: List of email addresses and domain from which you always wish to receive emails. All emails coming from entries in this list won't be filtered and will end up in the user's inbox
  • Directory harvesting prevention: Detect emails in which the recipient was randomly generated and blocks them.
  • Custom blacklist: Permits you to specify domains and addresses from which you do not wish to receive emails.
  • DNS Blacklist: This feature permits GFI Mail Essentials to block spam by querying a public database of known spammers.
  • Spam URI Real-time Blacklist: This feature will extract links from the message and verify if they are listed on a public spam database.
  • Bayesian Analysis: The Bayesian engine will analyzee the content of each message based on certain mathematical rules to decide if the mail is considered as spam or not. For this feature to work efficiently, you have to let MailEssentials process a few thousands inbound and outbound emails before turning the engine on.
  • Header Checking: This feature will analyzee the header of each mail to detect if it contains an empty or malformed "MIME FROM:" Field. It will also mark as spam emails that have different "SMTP TO:" and "MIME TO:" Fields.
  • Keyword Checking: Allows you to block messages that contain certain keywords. I prefer to turn that functionality off because I think that this feature is the least efficient of all the available ones.

When GFIME finds a spam message, it can delete it, move it to certain folder, forward it to an email address or simply tag it - you have the choice. Of all the applications I tried, this one had the best spam detection ratio (about 98%).

In addition to anti-spam filtering, MailEssentials also gives you access to other great mail management tools:

  • Automatic Disclaimers
  • Mail monitoring
  • Internet mail reporting
  • list server
  • Server-based auto replies
  • POP3 downloading

How does the story end? GFI MailEssentials has been running in my environment for the past year with little or no complaints at all. Management was happy enough with the rock bottom price, and up to now, I still am patting myself in the back for a job well done.

Download your
free trial today!

(edit 31/01/2006): Just received this announcement from GFI:

GFI is preparing to launch GFI MailEssentials for Exchange/SMTP 12, the latest version of GFI's award-winning anti-spam software. Version 12 will protect users from spam and phishing emails by detecting and blocking them before they reach the recipient's mailbox.

Featuring PURBL, a phishing URI real-time blocklist, GFI MailEssentials 12 will have the ability to extract links from the message body and check them against a list of well-known phishing sites. Version 12 will also scan for typical phishing keywords, which identify and treat the message as spam once found.

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20 years of viral chaos

20 years have already passed since the creation of the first computer virus. From Brain to Nyxm.E, viruses have always shadowed the evolution of technology. In 2006, they can get into more devices then ever before (PDAs, Cell phones, MP3 players). Maybe in a couple of years, we will need to install an anti-virus on our toaster, who knows?

Read more

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Sunday, January 29, 2006

New rootkits are headed for BIOS!

According to this Security Focus Article, insider attacks and industrial espionage could soon become more stealthy by hiding malicious code in the core system functions available in a motherboard's BIOS. Unfortunately, we may be seeing those kind of attacks appearing in the IT world in a month or two. The thing that is frightening about these rootkits is that they are platform independent since they don't need an OS to run.

"A collection of functions for power management, known as the Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI), has its own high-level interpreted language that could be used to code a rootkit and store key attack functions in the Basic Input/Output System (BIOS) in flash memory, according to John Heasman, principal security consultant for U.K.-based Next-Generation Security Software."

Read more on Security Focus

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Friday, January 27, 2006

[Geeks Are Sexy] has hit 100000 hits in less then 2 months!

Yep! We reached 100000 hits and more then 132000 page views in less then 2 months! Isn't that fantastic? I'd like to thank everyone for their tremendous support in making [Geeks Are Sexy] such a great success. We'll be publishing a lot of new and interesting content in the comming months, so stay tuned!

People stealing content from [Geeks Are Sexy]

Today, I stumbled upon this website that allows you to check the web for people who are copying content from another page. I was surprised and shocked to see that a lot of site owners were copying some of my original articles integraly without giving me due credit. Some of them even went as far as removing all the links pointing to other entry on my blog, and recreating them on theirs. These articles are available on the right column under "Geeks Are Sexy Reviews".

To try and fight back this abheration, I decided to license my articles under a "Creative Commons Licence". I'm not sure this will change anything, but it is worth a try.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.5 License.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Save money: How to make your own Ethernet patch cord.

This simple, no nonsense guide, will teach you how to make a good Ethernet patch cord at a fraction of the price it would cost you to buy it pre-manufactured.

You'll need:

An RJ-45 Crimp tool
A box of RJ-45 Connectors
A box of 500 ft. of Cat5e cable

Or, even better, a complete kit with all of these accessories already included.

Cables To Go

  • 500 ft. CAT5e Grey UTP,
  • 50 RJ45 Micron Connectors
  • RJ45 Crimp Tool with built-in wire stripper
  • Cable tester

First, start by pulling off the desired cable length from your Box. Don't pull out 400 feet, the maximum length for a cat5 cable is approximately 300 ft. , after this, the performance degrades quickly. When you are satisfied with the length, cut the cable with your crimp tool or a cutter.

Remove 1 inch of sheath from both side. Use the wire stripper that's integrated with your crimp tool. Be careful! You must not cut the little wires inside! If you do, cut off your cable on the side where you messed up, and start again.

Now you should now see 4 pairs of wires sticking out from the blue jacket. Each wire of a solid color is twisted with another one that is striped white and [insert same color here]

Separate the 4 wires and untwist them. Now arrange the wires following this simple schema. (Edit: Some users are using T-568B for straight cables. A or B, it doesn't really matter, both brings you the same result). A straight cable is made to connect a device to a switch, hub or router. A Crossover cable is for connecting 2 computers directly to one another.

When you are satisfied with the result, cut the 8 wires leaving about half an inch of them sticking out of the blue jacket. Be sure that all the ends form a straight line; they have to be even if you want them to fit properly in the RJ-45 connector.

Finally, insert the 8 wires in the RJ-45 plug, making sure that the clip is facing down. Push the wires into the connector. The wires must touch the end of each little corridor. If they don't, remove them, rearrange them, and try again. Be careful when you do this, the wires may end up in the wrong position if you are not careful. Inspect your connector to see if the wires are in the correct order, and if they are, stick the RJ-45 jack in the crimp tool, and crimp it as hard as you can.

A 10 ft. cat5e patch cord can cost you up to 7$ in a store. If you make your own cable, each of them should cost you around 1,20$. Good deal hey?

Add to Del.Icio.Us

If you liked this article, you might also consider checking some of our other ones:

Is the government invading our privacy?

Between the probable renewal of the Patriot Act and the US government's squeeze on Google for data, corporations are facing whole new questions : How far can the government reach into your database? Do they have the right to invade your privacy? Aren't we supposed to live in a society where we still have a bit of fundamentals rights? Even if these business aren't considered as individuals, the results of these actions are affecting us, the People.

Read more on eWeek.com

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Schools use video game to fight childhood obesity

West Virginia, The Mountain State, has one of the highest count of obese children in the USA. To get kids to move their bootie, the state is currently developing a project that uses a video game to help students burn their extra fat. DDR, or Dance Dance Revolution is a simple game where players have to jump and dance on a special game pad to earn some points. All of the state's 157 middle schools are expecting to get the DDR video game very soon. The game should also be available to all 753 public schools within 3 years.

I personally know a guy who lost 50 pounds just by playing DDR 1 hour per day for 6 months. No I'm not joking.

Read more.

Other Data Recovery myths : Hit It, Drop It, Freeze It, Heat It...

I stumbled upon fascinating article explaining a few hard disk recovery myths, including the one that I covered a few days ago. Can you imagin some people will be desperate enough to put their hard drive in the oven? I'm pretty sure that if you do this, you can say bye bye to your data.

"Regarding the heat it myth, well... I think there’s no need to comment on this, but there are people who commit and support this crime!"

Read more.

If you are looking for a Hard Disk Recovery solution, check out my own guide about it.

Google execs are getting paid 1$ per year

That's right. 1$.

Last week, after the news that the company had a little legal fight with the U.S. Justice Department, Google’s stock price experienced a 14% drop. Google then decided to publish their execs salary for 2005 and 2006: Chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt and its two co-founders and co-presidents, Larry Page and Sergey Brin have been paid a salary of 1$ for the past year, and will keep that salary for 2006. At that point, the stock immediately gained 7%. This means that Eric Schmidt's personal shares had recovered $413.8 million. As you can see, if you own a company and lower your salary, you can end up richer. Good move Google!

Read more on ZDNet.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

[Geeks Are Sexy] Official online shop

I just decided to open a small online shop with some [Geeks Are Sexy] Original gear. Get your sexy looking geek apparel today! Amaze your friends, Seduce your lovers, Get drunk in your backyard! These are things you can do with the stuff I'm selling ;).

I guess you get the message? Check it out!

The Growing Problem of Data Theft

With the evolution of portable data storage devices, data theft has never been easier to accomplish. Even a 10 year old child could steal information from a system if he has physical access to it. One of the main reasons why stealing information has become so easy is related to the widespread adoption of USB keys and portable hard drives: They are easy to carry and install pretty much anywhere. With capacities going from 128MB to 160 Gigs, portable storage has never been cheaper. Of course, there are a few positive points brought by these devices. They are very useful to quickly backup your data, or even to help you transfer files in case of a Hard disk recovery problem.

Quote from a Computerworld article: "With more and more employees using flash drives, smart phones with Secure Digital memory cards, portable hard drives, etc., the likelihood of companies actually knowing about all instances of data loss is declining rapidly. And as a result, the possibility of companies breaking laws, whether for data-loss disclosure or regulatory compliance, is growing dramatically."

Unfortunately, Windows OSs will allow any USB storage device to connect to a system by default. As in all solutions, prevention is the best way to deal with this problem. A simple registry tweak in XP SP2 will prevent users from writing content to a USB device.

The key is located at: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\StorageDevicePolicies
Setting name: WriteProtect
Default Value: DWORD=0
Possible Value: 0=disabled, 1=enabled

If anyone knows about a similar tweak for windows 2000, please let me know and leave it in the comments. Another good solution to the problem would be to disable all USB ports directly in the BIOS. Just be sure that it is password protected because someone could easily get back in and undo your modification.

Half a million of PCs infected by e-mail virus : Blackmal.E

Blackmal.E, a virus that was recently released in the wild, will be releasing its payload to more then 500000 servers on February 3rd if we can trust the evidence from a public web counter.

When the worm is executed on the 3rd day of every month, it will destroy all files with the following extensions by overwriting them: *.doc, *.xls , *.mdb , *.mde , *.ppt , *.pps , *.zip , *.rar , *.pdf , *.psd , *.dmp

If you got this worm and your AV can't get rid of it, you can always try this free removal tool from Symantec.

For more detail, check this Security Focus article out.

No more boothbabes at E3: the time to mourn has come

According to this gameindustry.biz article, exhibitors who will use booth babes at the next E3 will be fined for 5000$. No more scantily dressed chicks at our most beloved exhibition this year. The time to mourn has come my friends.

"Material, including live models, conduct that is sexually explicit and/or sexually provocative, including but not limited to nudity, partial nudity and bathing suit bottoms, are prohibited on the Show floor, all common areas, and at any access points to the Show. ESA, in its sole discretion, will determine whether material is acceptable."

Monday, January 23, 2006

Tech support woes

One of my favorite columnist, Scott Granneman, wrote this article about the real cost of outsourcing technical support to foreign countries. I don't think I can count the number of times when I had to call HP or Dell to get some support for a defective computer and ended up speaking with someone in India that couldn't even pronounce his fake english name properly. The only luck I had with foreign support was with Cisco, which always provided me with a more then excellent experience.

"Technical support that's outsourced to foreign countries can cause frustration and have a negative impact on security when the problems remain unsolved."

Read more.

And while being on the subject, check out this hilarious flash animation about an angry US customer calling an indian based tech. support call center.

How to Foil Search Engine Snoops

As your probably already know, the Bush Administration is currently fishing for Google queries and has already obtained records from other search engines. Why do search engines save logs of search terms? What can ordinary people do to protect their privacy? These are questions that all web users should be asking themselves. Check out this Wired article to learn more about these subjects.

Hilarious XBOX fan-made commercial

I just stumbled on this HILARIOUS fan-made xbox commercial on Google Video. Check it out, laughter is a great way to start a monday morning! I laughed so hard I almost peed in my pants.

Check it out.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

IE 7 Flees Microsoft and end up on the Web

It appears that some screenshots and code from the most recent version of Internet Explorer 7 have been released on the web late last week. Who knows, maybe this was an intentional "mistake" from Microsoft trying to start a wave of curiosity on the Internet. On the disclosed pictures, we can see the new tab browsing functionalities now integrated in IE. Firefox users had the pleasure of using tab browsing for more then 1 year now, so I don't think this is such a big deal, and it's certainly not a good reason to switch back to satan's browser. The new beta version of IE was supposed to become available to the public during the first quarter of 2006. Maybe this is Microsoft's way of doing it :)

Wi-Fi 802.11n Standard for WLANs Confirmed

Back in January 2004, the IEEE (Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers) formed the 802.11 taskgroup to develop an additional amendment to the 802.11 standard for WLANs: 802.11n. The maximum theoretical speed for this standard is supposed to reach up to 540 Mbit/s. According to this Wifinews article, the 802.11n proposal was just accepted this week! Now, the new standard will be able to move forward relatively rapidly to ratification, even if the process of finalizing details could take until 2007. That's Good news for corporations that are waiting for an high speed wireless access. I don't think 802.11n will matter very much to home users since people don't need that much speed at home, unless you are planning to share your internet access with your entire neighborhood!

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Are you a smart ass?

My pal Oliver at technology filter pointed me to this intelligence test claiming to come from Mensa. Over the years, I've done a lot of these, and I tought that this one was different and refreshing. So, on how many GHZ is your brain running?

Let's find out!

Friday, January 20, 2006

Google Versus Bush

Our friend Mr. Bush is planning to take the fight against pornography to an all new level by spying on YOUR search history. The Bush administration asked a federal judge on Wednesday to order Google to give them access to some results in their search database. By doing this, the US government is planning to bring back an internet child protection law that was taken down two years ago by the supreme court. While we can give credit to their intention, I really doubt that their inquiries will stop there. Anyone feel like living in a "Big Brother" Society?

Read more

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Problem after the hard disk recovery article

I'd like to apologize for the message that Internet Explorer users are getting when they get to the page. This error appeared since I posted the entry about Freezing the HD for hard drive recovery. I tried republishing the blog, redoing the post, and nothing works. Strangely, people do not get it in Firefox. I would delete the post to see if it fixes the problem, but unfortunatly, this "freezer" story got dugged on digg, so I'll have to wait till the dust settles down to experiment further. I posted a support request to the blogger staff, and I'm waiting for their anwser. I guess i'll have to wait for a week before the article falls off the page, the blogger staff did not get back to me.

Sorry for the inconvenience.

Freeze your hard drive to recover data: Myth or reality?

About 2 weeks ago, I wrote an article about hard disk recovery that was quite popular (I received approximately 20000 hits for it). The article covered a couple of solutions to help you in the case where your hard drive would stop working. While I was doing some research for this article, I ended up on a few stories about people who were putting their HD in the freezer to help fix it long enough to be able to recover their data. I guess that by doing this, some metal parts in the HD could contract, putting back in place defective parts, and making everything work again for a few minutes.

What do you guys think? Myth or reality? It seems that a lot of people agree that this solution actually works, so I decided to test it myself with an old Maxtor hard drive that failed me a couple of weeks ago. There was no important data on there, so losing the disk didn't really bother me.

Before putting it in the freezer, the drive was making a weird clicking noise, and the computer was showing me this message: Primary hard drive 0 not found, strike F1 to retry boot, F2 to run the setup utility

I removed the hard disk from the computer and sealed it in a ziplock bag to prevent condensation.

After this, I shoved it in the freezer, and waited an hour.

I finally installed it back in the computer, closed the case, and pushed on the power button.

YES! it works, the computer is starting correctly! Unfortunately, after I logged in, Windows froze and I wasn't able to do anything. I tried rebooting, and....

Well, at least the hard disk spun for about 2 minutes before crashing again. Maybe that's not long enough to let me recover any data, but it worked for a little while. :)

edit: The day after, I shoved the hard drive back in the freezer for 24 hours. After getting it out, I was able to get 20 more minutes of life out it.

If you don't want to risk losing you data and are afraid to try this out, you can always ask experts to do the job for you. The folks at DTIData or at the Hard Drive Recovery Group can probably help you get your data back, no matter how damaged your drive is. Here are the specific pages on their sites concerning hard drive data recovery solutions:

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Licking your toilet seat is healthier then typing on your keyboard

According to this study funded by Clorox, keyboards have 265 times more bacteria on them then a toilet seat. I'm pretty lucky that I'm not a hypochondriac because I'd probably be turning quite mad after reading this. Surprisingly, toilet seats had the lowest level of bacteria of the 12 surfaces tested in this study.

“We don’t think twice about eating at our desks, even though the average desk has 100 times more bacteria than a kitchen table and 400 times more bacteria than the average toilet,” Gerba said. “Without cleaning, a small area on your desk or phone can sustain millions of bacteria that could potentially cause illness.”

Anyone feeling sick? :) Read more!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Windows Event Log Management : The simple way to do it.

Managing windows event logs is a real nightmare, especially in a corporate environment. A single server can create thousands of messages in just a few minutes, just imagin how many 10 servers could generate! Microsoft provides you with the event viewer to help you browse through these events, but unfortunatly, this application was not tought out very well and makes consultings windows log a pain in the rear.

A few products are available on the market to help you in this daunting task. Altairtech EventReader is one of the best and cheapest one. It presents you with an improved way of viewing the Microsoft Windows NT/2000/XP event logs. It also provides a couple of additional functionalities that are not integrated in the original eventviewer. At 39$USD, the purchase of this software should not bust your IT budget, and if it does, maybe you should be reviewing your priorities.

Eventviewer features:

  • Filtering based on a certain time interval, the granularity up to a second.
  • Filtering based on the type of event (Error, warnings, failure audit, etc...).
  • Filtering based on event id/source combinations.
  • Computer list. While there may be many Windows NT/2000/XP computers within a company, the administrators only need to monitor the events on specific computers (servers that are critical to the company). The ability to have a list of these computers that can be accessed via a mouse click saves time and lots of mouse clicks. The computers can be organized in groups.
  • Consolidate logs view. Through this feature, one can consolidate all the logs from all the computers in the group or all the logs for one particular computer.
  • Sorting of the information displayed by date/time, event source, event type, event id, computer or user name.
  • Ability to save and read .evt files.
  • Ability to export the current event list in html format.
  • Columns widths for event details can be adjusted and are preserved from one use to another
  • Scheduled custom HTML reports.
  • Email notifications. EventReader can send you email notifications if a new event is recorded during a refresh.

click for a larger view

Many people do not take the time to even look at their event logs. Doing it could save you A LOT of trouble. What are you waiting for? Go and get your free trial now! No I'm not getting paid for this, I'm only promoting a software which was a real time-saver for me. I think everybody should know about it.

The Holy Grail Of Anonymous Surfing : Anonym.OS

Recently, the Kaos.theory security research group released a totally anonymous and secure OPENBSD live CD so easy to use, even your 90 year old grandparents who want to surf porn site anonymously could use it. Hmmm, Did I really write this? A live CD is a fully functional bootable OS that is completely independent of the hard drive. You can take the CD anywhere, and use it to boot on any computer if you need to remain anonymous. Developers say Anonym.OS is probably the first live CD based on the very secure OpenBSD operating system. It is designed to look and act like Windows XP SP1 so it can simply disappear in the crowd, but don't worry, this is only a disguise.

Get it on SourceForge

Now THIS is Online Storage

Streamload MediaMax, an online storage company, offers to web users the possibility of storing up to 25GB of files for free. Yeah, GB as in Gig. The company also developed an interface designed to let people upload, manage and even convert their media files to other formats server-side. If 25GB is too small for you, you can pay 9.95$ per month for 250GB, or even better, 39,95$ for 1 terabyte. Storage has never been cheaper! According to their website, uploaded files are secure, private and always backed up. I guess you could use this service to back up some of your important files so you don't have to worry about loosing your data to a bad HD and having to rely on some hard disk recovery professionals after. I still wouldn't use this service for critical data, magnetic tapes should be used in this case.

check it out! (via technology filter)

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

BugMeNot: Ignore those annoying mandatory registration

Is there something more annoying then being required to fill out a website registration before reading an article? I don't think so! Even if I had 100 fingers, I couldn't count the number of times I was interested in reading a New York Times article, but gave up after seeing the mandatory logon screen. Even if the registration is free, the principle of asking for personal information before letting people in just makes me plain angry.

BugMeNot provides a free public collection of usernames and passwords for various registration-required web sites. Isn't that great? No more swearing and throwing your screen out of your window (Ever done it? It makes you feel good!). Usually, there is multiple user names for each site, so the probability that none will work is very small.

If you are using Firefox, there is a free extension that brings the BugMeNot functionalities to an all new level. It lets you bypass the registration screen automatically via Firefox's right-click context menu.

Is your laptop faithful? New simple wireless flaw

During the weekend, well-known security researcher Simple nomad released some information about a vulnerability that could be exploited to gain access to an unsuspecting laptop using a wireless connection. How does the exploit work? I tested it myself with 2 laptops that were available in the company I work for, and it works beautifully.

You probably all know that a wireless laptop can be configured to advertise an ad-hoc connection to the surrounding world right? When a computer is configured this way, it's asking to other computers in the vicinity to connect to it.

Let’s say that I have a laptop that is configured to connect to my wireless network at home. In this case, the configured SSID is the default one that linksys APs uses in general: "Linksys", so my wireless NIC is also configured to use it. If I walk in a location where there is a second laptop broadcasting an ad-hoc network, which, by chance, is also using the "linksys" SSID, my own laptop will connect to it. Everything is working like it should up to this point right? This is where the problem starts. The next time my computer boots in a location where there is no wireless network with a "Linksys" ID , it will start advertising its own ad-hoc network with that SSID, even if it was first configured to be in infrastructure mode. At this point, an attacker could get access to your system if:

  • You firewall is off
  • Your firewall is ON, but you're missing a few critical windows patches that could let a villain exploit some vulnerability.

Solution / Workaround : Simple Nomad wrote about 3 possible workaround to help you stay protected:

  • Disable wireless when not in use.
  • Do not use the Windows wireless client manager, but an alternate one (e.g. for an integrated Intel Wifi
    connector, use Intel PROSet/Wireless) as all others tested do not seem to have the problem (this testing was not all-inclusive).
  • Click on the Wireless option in the System Tray and open the Wireless Network Connection window. - Click on "Change advanced settings". - In the Wireless Network Connection Properties window, click on the Wireless Networks tab. - Click on the advanced button. - Click on "Access point (infrastructure) networks only" . This is the recommended workaround.

This workaround prevents you from connecting to any ad-hoc network in the first place. Please don't forget to enable your windows firewall and keep those patches up to date. This won't prevent people from connecting to you, but it will stop them from getting access to your computer.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Pathetic state Of Data Security

Unfortunatly, information security patheticness in 2006 is getting to be something we hear about a couple of times per week. Corporation who should have learned their lessons and in whom we should be able to put our trust into are still being tricked into revealing their customer's personal data. In spite of all the data theft stories we've been hearing in the last few years, many companies close their eyes and refuse to learn from history. Learning from our mistakes, isn't that supposed to be the purpose of humankind? The U.S. Department of Justice is the latest to demonstrate its information-security incompetence. The mistake: exposing Social Security numbers on its Web site. How pathetic is that?

Read more on InformationWeek.

Intel drops their "Pentium" brand name

Intel has made a final decision to get rid of one of its oldest and most valuable brands. Sources indicated that Intel will drop the Pentium name without making a major announcement, but simply transition to processor names such as "Intel D 920" or "Intel 672". That was about time! How long have they been using the "Pentium" name? 11 years? Apparently, the transition is planned to begin in the immediate future.

Read more on TGdaily

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Support [Geeks Are Sexy]!

Hello loyal readers,

A couple of you guys asked me for a banner so they could use it to point back to my blog. Here they are folks, the [Geeks Are Sexy] official banner and button. If you're kind enough to give a link to
http://geeksaresexy.blogspot.com, then that would be well appreciated, whether it be a text link or a link using these JPG icon.

Banner 1

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Saturday, January 14, 2006

Control your home power consumption based on the price of energy

Just imagin how much money we could save if we would be able to control our home power consumption at the level of the appliance based on the current price of energy. A group of people from the Washington and Oregon states are now testing software and devices that allow them to do just that.

"Approximately 200 homes will receive real-time price information through a broadband Internet connection and automated equipment that will adjust energy use based on price. In addition, some customers will have computer chips embedded in their dryers and water heaters that can sense when the power transmission system is under stress and automatically turn off certain functions briefly until the grid can be stabilized by power operators."

Read more

Friday, January 13, 2006

Anti-Spyware Coalition publishes spyware guidelines

The ASC, a group dedicated into building a consensus about definitions and best practices surrounding spyware and other potentially unwanted technologies, published today a set of guidelines to help define what spywares are all about.

Composed of anti-spyware software companies such as Microsoft, Yahoo, AOL, McAfee, Symantec, Adaware, and numerous others, the ASC seeks to bring together a diverse array of perspective on the problem of controlling spyware and other potentially unwanted technologies.

These guidelines are divided into five parts:

  • A set of definitions describing the various forms of spyware
  • A glossary, to explain the terminology used in the anti-spyware industry
  • Some instructions to help vendors who are accused of distributing spyware to clear their name
  • Anti-Spyware safety Tips for consumers
  • The Risk Model Description, a document built on the four other ones, which classify spywares into different threat levels: low, medium and high.

Will this initiative help to bring us into a safer online world? Let's wait and see.

[Geeks Are Sexy] Friday Humor: George Bush's year 2005 in review

We all need to laugh, especially on fridays, when there's nothing better to do. Check out this JibJab movie: George Bush's Year 2005 year in review. You might as well have a look at all their movies, they are hilarious.