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5 Spooky Ways PCs are Like Halloween

It is Halloween time again and the all kinds of ghosts, goblins, ghouls, vampires, zombies and sexy Ebola nurses are on the loose. Don’t let these tricksters affect your computer. Here are several ways computers take part in the Halloween reveries. Ghosts – Everyone has seen it … things just happen… “I didn’t touch anything

Risky Celebs

Computer security firm McAfee says talk show host Jimmy Kimmel is the most dangerous celebrity to search for online. The company says that a search for ABC’s Kimmel carries nearly a 1 in 5 chance of landing on a website that has tested positive for spyware, viruses or malware. Cyber-criminals can use the malicious software

Avoid A Breach

Security firm SRC Cyber cites a report from the United States Government Accountability Office, The U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (PDF) reported a 782% increase in cyber incidents from 2006-2012. As this number increases, SRC Cyber and other cybersecurity companies are pressured to create products and tools that not only defend against potential threats, but

Are Your Buds Twisted?

Does this sound familiar? You about to walk the dog, grab your iPod and have to spend the next 5 minutes untangling the $%*&@ earbuds. It seems happens to everyone who owns an Apple iPod or iPhone your “EarPods” (even though Apple has shipped its white in-ear headphones with every iDevice since the iPod in

How to Spot a Phish

Phishing scams are spam emails sent by cyber-criminals that can lead to identify theft at home and data breaches at work. Phishing attacks pretend to be from a legitimate person or organization to trick you into revealing personal information. A phishing attack begins when a cyber-criminal sends an email that looks like it originates from

5 Spooky Ways PCs are Like Halloween

5 Spooky Ways PCs are Like HalloweenIt is Halloween time again and the all kinds of ghosts, goblins, ghouls, vampires, zombies and sexy Ebola nurses are on the loose. Don’t let these tricksters affect your computer. Here are several ways computers take part in the Halloween reveries.

  1. Ghosts – Everyone has seen it … things just happen… “I didn’t touch anything and all the data in my Excel is gone.”
  2. ZombieZombies – Clicking on that “Check this out” Facebook (FB) link can turn your PC into a zombie. The fake link infects your computer and turns it into part of a zombie army. It has lost its mind and roams the interwebs attacking anything that its new master tells it to. Keep your patches and anti-malware up to date to defend against zombie attacks.
  3. Trick or Treat – The email from Aunt Sally says it has a video of a Kitty playing with a Ducky …. Does Aunt Sally call you for help opening an attachment? Does she still use AOL? Do you open the link? Is it a treat and the Kitty is rally playing with the Ducky? Or is it a trick and you just installed a virus? Only your anti-virus software knows for sure, update it now.
  4. Costumes – Every trick or treater knows masks are part of Halloween. Put a mask on your data as it travels across the intertubes with encryption. With encryption you put a mask on your data when you leave home and take the mask off when you get to your friend’s house.
  5. Vampires – You turn your computer off when you are done with it right? Do you turn off your monitor? Your printer? Your cable box? If not you are the victim of power vampires. Power vampires suck electricity from your walls even after you turned off the PC.

Vampire power

You have been warned. Happy Haunting.

 

Ralph Bach has been in IT for fifteen years and has blogged from his Bach Seat about IT, careers and anything else that catches his attention since 2005. You can follow me at Facebook and Twitter. Email the Bach Seat here.

Risky Celebs

Risky CelebsComputer security firm McAfee says talk show host Jimmy Kimmel is the most dangerous celebrity to search for online. The company says that a search for ABC’s Kimmel carries nearly a 1 in 5 chance of landing on a website that has tested positive for spyware, viruses or malware. Cyber-criminals can use the malicious software to steal passwords or other personal data.

Rank
Celebrity
Risk %
1
Jimmy Kimmel 19.38%
2 Armin van Buuren19.33%
3 Ciara
19.31%
4 Flo Rida
18.89%
5 Bruce Springsteen
18.82%
6 Blake Shelton18.47%
7
Britney Spears 18.19%
8Jon Bon Jovi
17.64%
9
Chelsea Handler17.22%
10 Christina Aguilera16.67%

McAfeeIn addition to Jimmy Kimmel (No. 1) and Chelsea Handler (No. 9), a number of funny people made McAfee’s top fifty list. Other notable comedians in the riskiest top 50 include Jimmy Fallon (No. 12), Adam Sandler (No. 14), Jason Segel (No. 19), Wee Man (No. 35), and Cameron Diaz (No. 41).

The music industry is also well represented in the McAfee top 10 riskiest with  Armin van Buuren (No.2), Ciara (No. 3), Flo Rida (No. 4), Bruce Springsteen (5), Blake Shelton (No.6), Jon Bon Jovi (No.8).

RockinOther musicians in the McAfee’s riskiest 50 are 50 Cent (No. 13), Cheryl Cole (No. 16) Calvin Harris (No. 17) and Iggy Azalea (No. 20). Additional superstars heating up the McAfee top 50 are Jason Derulo (No. 24), Jay Z (No. 26), Chris Brown (No. 28), Paul McCartney (No.29), Jennifer Lopez (No. 31), Pitbull (No. 34), Jessie J (No.44), Rihanna (No.45), Justin Timberlake (No.46), Carrie Underwood (No.47) and Pharrell Williams (No. 49).

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I have covered these tidbits for a while and one sign of hope for humanity is that last year, searching for downloads of Kanye West, Kourtney Kardashian, Kim Kardashian, Khloe Kardashian and Kris Jenner were popular among Americans. This year, the Kardashian clan is nowhere to be found.

Ralph Bach has been in IT for fifteen years and has blogged from his Bach Seat about IT, careers and anything else that catches his attention since 2005. You can follow me at Facebook and Twitter. Email the Bach Seat here.

Avoid A Breach

Avoid A BreachSecurity firm SRC Cyber cites a report from the United States Government Accountability Office, The U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (PDF) reported a 782% increase in cyber incidents from 2006-2012. As this number increases, SRC Cyber and other cybersecurity companies are pressured to create products and tools that not only defend against potential threats, but also aid in recovery if an incident were to occur.

security breachesSRC Cyber points out that security breaches can happen to anyone at any time. You, your family, your doctor’s office, your college, the stores you shop in, the websites you visit, and even the agencies that meet basic needs like water and electricity. The article claims that system problems and human error account for the majority of data breaches the most common single cause at 42% is malicious intent.

This SRC Cyber infographic shows how three of the most high profile recent attacks have had an effect on security spending, attack awareness and in the case of the Target breach how it’s hit the company’s profits.

 

Avoid a Breach

Ralph Bach has been in IT for fifteen years and has blogged from his Bach Seat about IT, careers and anything else that catches his attention since 2005. You can follow me at Facebook and Twitter. Email the Bach Seat here.

Are Your Buds Twisted?

Are Your Buds Twisted?Does this sound familiar? You about to walk the dog, grab your iPod and have to spend the next 5 minutes untangling the $%*&@ earbuds. It seems happens to everyone who owns an Apple iPod or iPhone your “EarPods” (even though Apple has shipped its white in-ear headphones with every iDevice since the iPod in 2001, they updated its earbuds to “EarPods” in 2012) have conspired against you. Whatever you call them, the earbuds have mysteriously tangled themselves into a knot so vicious that you risk snapping the wire to get them undone (especially the little thin wires that go to each earpiece).

EarbudsTo be fair, at the Business Insider says it happens to all earbuds, not just Apple’s (AAPL), but iPhone tangles seem more visibly conspicuous because their wires are white as part of Apple’s branding. BI observes that the knots even occur when you coil them carefully before putting them away. Typically the headphone wires will knot themselves on a daily basis.

Mr. Edwards explains that the tangling happens for a reason, and it has been the subject of scientific research. Dorian M. Raymer and Douglas E. Smith of the University of California at San Diego Department of Physics proved that iPhone earbud tangles are a function of the length of the wire and the amount of “agitation” the wire is subjected to. The author explains that when — length versus agitation — are plotted against each other, the rate of knots and tangles obeys a statistical pattern that describes a curve.

Einstein playing guitarThe physicists published a paper titled “Spontaneous knotting of an agitated string” (PDF) their research revealed that the length a cord influences how much it will tangle when sealed inside a rotating box. The length of Apple’s iPhone earbuds are 55 inches long and right at the 50% tangle-rate-sweet-spot of the curve.

BI provided a schematic showing how a cord that starts off neatly coiled and quickly becomes tangled inside a rotating box, even though there is no gremlin inside tying them into reef knots. It shows that one end of a wire only has to cross another part of the wire twice to start spontaneously knotting itself.

Tangled earbudThe research shows that your earphones are indeed spontaneously knotting themselves. The knots really do form as a matter of physics, so it is an unstoppable force of nature that can’t be prevented.

That is, until Professor Robert Matthews of Aston University in England saved the day. at BI says the physicist has developed a surefire way to end all earbud tangling: clip them together.

Professor Matthews suggests that you clip the two earbuds together and attach them near the audio jack to create a loop. He claims that this will reduce tangling tenfold. He told ABC News,

First, by forming the loop you’ve effectively reduced the length of string able to explore the 3-D space by 50%, which makes a big difference. Second, you’ve also eliminated the two ends, which are the prime movers of knot formation.

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CNET says the tangled earbuds research has attracted interest from biochemists concerned with the tendency of thread-like DNA to get itself tangled. The new study suggests nature may form loops in DNA to prevent this happening.

 

Ralph Bach has been in IT for fifteen years and has blogged from his Bach Seat about IT, careers and anything else that catches his attention since 2005. You can follow me at Facebook and Twitter. Email the Bach Seat here.

How to Spot a Phish

How to Spot a PhishPhishing scams are spam emails sent by cyber-criminals that can lead to identify theft at home and data breaches at work. Phishing attacks pretend to be from a legitimate person or organization to trick you into revealing personal information.

PhishingA phishing attack begins when a cyber-criminal sends an email that looks like it originates from your bank. The email might hint at a problem with your account asking you to “confirm” account information by clicking on a link that takes you to a fake website. The fake website asks you to type in your bank account user name and password. The goal is to convince the target that the web page is legitimate so that they will enter their credentials. Once entered, attackers can access an individual’s finances.

RSA reports 2013 was a record year for phshing attacks. They report that nearly 450,000 phishing attacks were launched in 2013 with loses estimated to be nearly $6 Billion. The security firm believes that these attacks will continue for the foreseeable future. They point out that it only costs an attacker $65.00 to spam 500,000 email addresses.

PhishingSymantec reports (PDF) that 1 in every 392 emails a user receives is a phishing attempt. 71% of the phshing attacks were related to spoofed financial organizations and login credentials for accounts seem to be the main information phishers are looking for. Dell SecureWorks delved into the depths of the online underground economy and found the value of personally identifiable information (PII).

  • Visa and Master Card account numbers are worth up to $15
  • American Express account numbers are worth up to $18
  • Date of Birth (DOB) is worth up to $25

On his excellent excellent website, Brian Krebs revealed the black market value of hacked credentials.

  • Active accounts at Facebook and Twitter retail for just $2.50 apiece,
  • $4 buys hacked credentials at wireless providers ATT.com, Sprint.com, Verizonwireless.com, and Tmobile.com,
  • Groupon.com accounts fetch $5,
  • Fedex.com, Continental.com and United.com accounts for go for $6.
  • iTunes accounts go for $8 on the cyber underground economy.

In a new phishng twist, attackers are going after medical records to exploit the broken health-care industry. Stolen health credentials can go for $10 each, about 10 or 20 times the value of a U.S. credit card number, according to Don Jackson, director of threat intelligence at PhishLabs, a cyber crime protection company.

With these threats in mind, PhishMe developed an infographic, click on the image below to see the complete image.

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Since many cyber attacks originate with a phishing email, the best way for organizations and individuals to protect themselves online is to identify and avoid phishing emails.

Ralph Bach has been in IT for fifteen years and has blogged from his Bach Seat about IT, careers and anything else that catches his attention since 2005. You can follow me at Facebook and Twitter. Email the Bach Seat here.