ID Theft and Your Security

Holidays come with a price. Don’t let your guard down. You need to protect yourself and your identity.

Let’s start by keeping track of your personal documents. Try not to dismiss simple things like credit card offers and or bills. Don’t just throw them away. Shred or destroy them. In the wrong hands they can be used to hurt you. Buy a safe or use the safety deposit box to store birth certificates, passports, insurance, financial and social security documents.

Keep track of your credit score. Experian, Trans Union and Equifax are the three major credit agencies. Experian has a great program to help you monitor things. It’s program includes training materials to help you expand your knowledge of credit security. Getting informed about credit is a good place to start.

Place a hold on your credit with all three agencies. It serves the purpose of preventing new credit from being taken in your name without your knowledge. You will pay a small fee when placing or releasing credit holds. Did you know that when a company runs your credit it actually lowers your credit score?

Stay on top of your personal electronic security. Most new computers sold today come with antivirus already loaded. If you want more security or you have an older computer I recommend Comodo internet security professional. In the event that you get a virus while it is installed and you pay for a repair, your Comodo Internet Security Pro subscription provides up to a $500 warranty. Comodo Internet Security Pro runs 40 dollars and it covers three computers. Pricing is tiered based on the subscription term you choose. Comodo Internet Security Pro has built in free technical support. The support system is called geek buddy.  Comodo does offer an upgrade to have technical support for issues not related to their product.

Avoid getting a virus. When checking e-mail, social networking or shopping online scrutinize everything before you open it.

1. Does the senders email address match the name or company?
2. Do you know who it is?
3. Is it something they would normally send?
4. Is the website properly secured?

If you have any doubts do not open it. Avoid marketing content unless you are absolutely sure it is safe. This is where most attacks are occurring. The hacker will impersonate and trick you into installing his virus on your computer. He will then have your address book and logins to the sites you frequent. Please be careful.

On the business front there is a lot more to worry about. The payment card industry isn’t the only industry that needs to be aware of electronic identity theft.  All businesses that store demographic information for their customers should be concerned about its security. Up-to-date systems with Antivirus should be maintained and regular security audits should be performed.

If you have questions or would like some help please don’t hesitate to contact us.

UBUNTU

I have to hand it to UBUNTU for coming out with a decent operating environment.

I am ever the pessimist but take it lightly.

1. When it finished installing the screen was dimmed all of the way off.
2. Had to run a bunch of terminal commands to edit 2 separate config files just so windows networking would work.
3. Huge security issue, the firewall is off by default and you have to install a gui to manage it when you figure out how to get the firewall turned on unless you want to do everything via a command prompt (terminal session).
4. So I turned on the firewall, made the appropriate adjustments for windows file sharing – terminal style. This however broke the printer. A problem for another time. The day is old.

All in all it is power for the course. Still a tech junkies OS. UBUNTU is much smoother than it ever was. UBUNTU One is a platform where you have a single log in for every device to access your stuff. It uses cloud storage. Ubuntu also has a music store. The combination of these two features has me Jazzed. They also are now including STEAM for all of your gaming aspirations.

Right off the bat it works better. For instance, it boots fast. I had email, facebook, printer, background, and remote desktop set up in 5 minutes. Its stock with lots of tech so I could ftp, ftps, sftp, telnet, ping, etc.

I am not an amazing Linux guy. I know enough to really customize a solution. I could not write a module for it. Most of the UBUNTU world is geared toward avoiding that step. They have built in the UBUNTU Software Center. Ubuntu is open source. So if you have coding skill you can write something to work with it (and everyone does) you do and add it to the millions of other applications out there for UBUNTU. The point is, if there is something you can think of that you want UBUNTU to do it probably already exists. You hit the Ubuntu software center and search for something in the general arena. Pick what you like and click install. It takes care of everything else. You might have to type your password.

The feature I find most useful is the search function. You click a button and type something. Remote finds remote desktop. Word finds a word processor. You get the idea. True its new but with ease of use with the search function it will be simple to get moving. Did I mention UBUNTU is free? I have it loaded on a very new Laptop running a core i5, lots of ram, camera, cd burner, Bluetooth. Somehow, they figured out the hardware independence and everything just works. So I guess the point is – easy. The installer also set up a dual boot so I can revert back to my crusty windows anytime I like. Bill Gates eat your heart out.

Check it out some time.  http://www.ubuntu.com

Drive By Banner Ads – An Effective Way to Give You a Virus. Who Knew?

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Today I am taking some time to touch on a topic that never gets any press.  No major companies who have advertisers want to say anything about it. That would make them responsible!

Here it is.  The people who write malicious viruses that damage computers and steal identities are making a lot of money these days. They are buying up advertising and using it to perform browser hijacks so they can plant more viruses on the un-suspecting viewers computers.

Advertising on websites is a lucrative business. Websites that can attract a lot of viewers also attract advertisers. Advertisers want to pay for the right to place their advertisements. Price depends on size, length in time displayed, number of times displayed, targeted time of day, and targeted geographical location.

Most advertisements are now presented using active content. Advertisements are authored in the form of flash movies, windows media streaming content, quick-time videos, animated layered dhtml with live embedded graphics, and so many others I just don’t have time to mention. Active content is worth its salt because it is able to provide an interactive interface to the viewer. People click on anything that attracts their attention or interest. The advertisement could be a duck hunt banner where you “shoot” as many ducks as you like. It could be a nice car from Ford driving across your screen. The point is human nature urges you to click on that! And this user interaction is just the the thing needed to allow malicious code to run.

Most active content authoring software can be used to produce content that performs functions such as opening a new window, recording specific information about the viewers computer, browser, and location. Even reading and writing files to the hard drive for later use. Microsoft has been aware of these periphery type attacks and has been publishing service packs left and right to prevent anything from going through without the users consent.

Then there is human nature. The best place to get a feel for what I am talking about is a casino. Go in and look at people go after the slots. They are driven by want, hope for a better tomorrow, and an un-spoken need to ignore something bad. This is best done mindlessly playing that slot machine. The same is true online. Your dangerous attacker knows you better than you think! There in lies the punch line. He uses your human nature against you in the craftiest ways. You have no idea how sneaky these guys are. So if it pops up and you just “HAVE” to click it, stop! Ask who’s asking, what for, and why! My rule is I need to know who and completely respect that entity. It should be a process I started on purpose (i needed to download a file), and why (downloading the file so I can install that driver). Are you freaked out yet? Don’t be. Just raise your awareness up a notch. Be mindful of where you are going online and pay attention to alerts. They tell you that active content on a page is trying to perform a task that is, well, sort of crossing a line. It is necessary for downloading content.  And only you can determine who is doing what and why. Ultimately – you have to allow it.

At first a lot of these attacks were popping up on Face book. They also occur on less than desirable websites. Now these malicious authors are boldly buying up advertising space from big companies you trust.  The companies have no idea – for the most part how the authoring is coded. Only that it fits in the purchased space.

Recently, I was called by the Comodo Security Company as a business to buy and sell their software to my customers.  That relationship is still in the air.  However, during my initial look at this company I ran across a very good video blog with regards to this subject.  Here is a link.  Sit back and have a listen to this guy!

http://www.comodo.tv/home-computing/hackers-spending-money-to-make-money/

Regards!

Midnight Tech

 

 

A couple new features

I was looking around and decided to add a share link and a voting link.  I am trying to get more traffic so please comment on everything.  Don’t be forgiving.  Just put it out there.  If it creates an issue I will “adjust” the comment …  like this … but, I will be sure to leave just enough so you can get an idea what was edited.

Midnight Tech

Welcome to our official blog

Welcome to our official blog site.  Please allow us some time to get this page organized the way we would like it to be.  Any attention you can send our way would be very much appreciated.  Specifically to our FAQ page.  We are gunning to get that page to take off and have a life of its own.

Just for your convenience I added a navigational bar above this post for you to access the two pages of our blog that are currently present.  And to make it simpler you can also use the links I am providing below.  I hope to add images soon so it is more visual.

FAQ Page

Here you can ask us any question you like that deals with computers, macs, networks, websites, programming, etc.  We will answer you well.

Web Dev Projects Area

Here you can see the different projects we have been involved in and get the inside scoop about them.  We are still coming up with content so please check back for more changes and additions to this page.