Friday, July 20, 2007

Off Topic - The Simpsons Movie Contest

The Simpsons Movie Contest is well under way!
Information About THE SIMPSONS MOVIE Contest
(link will open in new window)

I know this is off-topic to the nature of this blog, but how could I resist directing you to where you can Enter THE SIMPSONS MOVIE Contest that Fox and Opera (yes, Opera browser) are doing for Simpsons Fans all over?

The contest runs until the 27th day of this month, so hurry up and check out the details. You could win some official The Simpsons Movie merchandise for yourself.

Enter the contest!
Information About THE SIMPSONS MOVIE Contest
(link will open in new window)

Good luck to everyone who enters the contest!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Nasty, Nasty Keyloggers

The Continual Advancement of the Keylogger

A keylogger is a program that runs in your computer’s background. It will record all your keystrokes, only you don't know it's there. It secretly grabs your keystroke information. When you keystrokes are logged, they are saved and hidden away for the attacker to retrieve later - whenever it's convenient for the keylogger attacker to do so!

The keylogger attacker will then review very carefully, your information in the hopes of finding passwords to important and valuable sites - perhaps your payment processor or online bank! A keylogger/criminal can quite easily gain confidential emails. This person can then reveal them to others - any interested outside party who is willing to pay for this particular information.

Keyloggers can be either software or hardware based. Keyloggers that are Software-based are easy to distribute and they quickly infect user computers before they can be stopped by some systems. I don't really have to tell you that avoiding these nuisance keylogger infections is part of the reason why you should never NEVER run your system without anti-virus and anti-malware software.

While software-based keyloggers really move quickly and are often hidden in other downloads, they are still more easily detectible than the other type of keylogger. Hardware-based keyloggers are quite a bit more complex and harder to detect than the software-based Keyloggers.

For all that you know, your keyboard could have a keylogger chip attached and anything being typed is recorded into a flash memory sitting inside your keyboard. Keyloggers have become one of the most powerful applications used for gathering information today. In our high-tech world, where encrypted traffic is becoming more and more common, keyloggers of both types abound with great regularity and circulation.

As keyloggers become more advanced, it becomes harder to catch them. The ability to detect every-changing and ever-improving keylogging methods becomes more difficult all the time. Keyloggers can violate a computer user’s privacy for months - even years, believe it or not - without being noticed in the least! During that time frame, a keylogger can collect all kinds of information about the user it is monitoring. The potential for a keylogger to obtain not only passwords and login names - but credit card numbers, too - is very high.

Also open to Advanced and efficient keyloggers are:

* bank account details,
* personal contacts,
* business contacts
* an outline of interests (saved from 'Profile' forms)
* web browsing habits
and much, much more.

This collected data can be used to literally steal user’s personal documents, money, or even their identity. A keylogger might be as simple as an .exe and a .dll that is placed in a computer and activated upon boot up via an entry in the registry.

More sophisticated keyloggers, such as the Perfect Keylogger or ProBot Activity Monitor have developed a full line of nasty abilities including:

* Undetectable in the process list and invisible in operation
* A kernel keylogger driver that captures keystrokes even when the user is logged off
* A remote deployment wizard The ability to create text snapshots of active applications
* The ability to capture http post data (including log-ins/passwords)
* The ability to timestamp record workstation usage HTML and text log file export Automatic e-mail log file delivery

All keyloggers are not used for illegal purposes. A variety of other uses have surfaced for the keylogger programs that are around.

Here are some positive uses for Keyloggers:

* They have been used to monitor web sites visited as a means of parental control over children. * They have been actively used to prevent child pornography and avoid children coming in contact with dangerous elements on the web.

* December, 2001, a federal court ruled that the FBI did not need a special wiretap order to place a keystroke logging device on a suspect’s computer. The judge allowed the FBI to keep details of its key logging device secret (citing national security concerns). The defendant in the case, Nicodemo Scarfo Jr., indicted for gambling and loan-sharking, used encryption to protect a file on his computer. The FBI used the keystroke logging device to capture Scarfo’s password and gain access to the needed file.

Thus, now you've gained some details on keyloggers. The only way to keep safe from both types of keyloggers is to USE GOOD ANTI-VIRUS and ANTI-MALWARE programs and practice other obvious good internet navigation habits. Don't let your guard down for a minute. Even if you have great security-ware, you can still get a keylogger if you're careless.

Scan your computer often with the best antivirus and anti-malware products you can get. Update your software, check your security software homepages often just to check on virus alerts and things that you might not have received a notification about.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Online Information Sources - What Do You Believe?

With the number of online 'user-shared information portals,' Social Sites, Article directories and the like, it's hard to know when you're getting legitimate information.

I'm working on a list of 'legitimate' sites to post here in the near future and am learning about 'validity-checking' myself, in general areas on the internet.

As a student, I already know what higher-education institutions require as legitimate information checking online (that is, if I use an online source, I know the guidelines as to what is considered legitimate information or not). I am slightly less knowledgeable about pure business legitimacy, so I have some work to do yet before I post reliable information about 'online business' sources.

One tip I can give for ANY kind of information you're going to use online involves how to use Wikipedia.

Wikipedia is NOT a definitive, authority site, by any means. It is a 'collective' contribution by internet users all around the world who choose to add information to the Wikipedia site.

Many information pages at Wikipedia are without citations and proof of legitimacy. Very truly, SOME of the information found at Wikipedia is OPINION. Some of it is misinterpreted data, mis-informed reports about topics that, although someone tried to research, may not have been researched thoroughly enough.

I use Wikipedia very often, however, I choose to go to the Wikipedia site, using the information therein as a 'guideline' and a starting point - mostly for topics that I know absolutely nothing about. I enter the Wikipedia site with the intent to gain basic information and ultimately, follow the 'citation' links right back OUT of the Wikipedia site. If the citation links lead to an 'edu,' 'org,' 'gov' or other such site, then Wikipedia has served it's purpose for me. It is at the 'out-linked' sites that I can find better (perhaps original) information, but I may have been completely unaware of how to find 'original' information before I started reading articles over at Wikipedia.

This is not to imply that NONE of the information at Wikipedia is 'correct' or 'legitimate' or that all information there is unreliable. On the contrary. There are a TON of great, proper, well-researched and well-cited entries over at the Wikipedia site. It's just that I take particular care in checking the links that are within the articles I'm reading at the site. If almost all of the links are just internal, leading mainly back into the Wikipedia system (for definitions, related information, etc), then I don't consider this situation to be of legitimate value to me, though I will follow links and keep information in mind that I find internally at the site. I don't consider my information search to be completed at this point, however, I have usually gained some good general information by this point. Nothing I would use in a University paper, but information that allows me to be a little more familiar with the topic I started searching on - so that I can conduct a more intense search elsewhere.

I see forums posts and even pay-for-article material (Articles that you have to pay for) that use only Wikipedia as their source of authority - and this concerns me very much.

I have a friend who is a budding internet marketer. He uses Wikipedia in his promotions. He is listed as an Internet marketer and wrote his own article about himself, set up 'tagging' and keywords so that people will go to Wikipedia and see his name there - along with Historical figures, celebrities, etc. The average internet user considers Wikipedia as somewhat of an online encyclopedia, so using Wikipedia for marketing is actually a really awesome and effective tactic for marketers to use. It makes a marketer seem 'famous' and 'important' if they are in some kind of an 'encyclopedia' system! But the truth is - you can probably gain an account at Wikipedia and write an article yourself - about yourself - without too many problems. Or - you could submit an article to a fellow-member of Wikipedia and ask for editing help and if they do some research - some fact-checking on you, your information can still end up in Wikipedia, even if you're 'a slouch' at writing articles.

In short, any 'business information' topics that I research at Wikipedia MUST LEAD TO Better Business Bureau information and show a 'scam-list' clean status for me to believe that the business I am checking out has legitimacy. Otherwise, some relatively unknown 'newbie' could have written his or her own article, claiming that their business has skyrocketed in activity, is a leading, #1 business - and I wouldn't know the difference from the entries that tell me that "Coca-Cola" is a hugely successful company! (Well - there would be a LOT more links in an Coca-Cola article that would lead to other legitimate business reports, so the information on 'Coca-Cola' would not be as highly questioned).

Anyhow, I hope this helps you think carefully about the information sources you use online.