Wednesday, August 20, 2003

iMIND ...
Everyone has an iPod in their head

THE ONION has a great parody on iPod called "I HAVE AN iPOD IN MY MIND."

SOBIG is back in a HUGE way.

As readers have no doubt discovered by the amount of mail and attachment in their mailboxes, and old archenemy is back ... the SOBIG Virus.

TECHWEB reports that the new version, Sobig.F, is arriving in e-mail under a subject line that typically says "re:details," "details," "your details," "thank you," or "resume." The sender is disguised as someone that may be familiar to the recipient, such as the name of a company or person.

According to the TECHWEB report, although there is no danger of deleting files or wiping hard drives, SoBigF's evil lies in the fact that once the attachment containing the virus is opened, steals e-mail addresses from several different locations on the computer, including the Windows address book and Internet cache, then sends copies of itself out to those addresses. The virus, which sends multiple e-mails concurrently, selects addresses randomly for use as the sender, attempting to fool recipients into thinking the e-mail is from a company or other legitimate source.

The attachments' names may include your_document.pif, details.pif, your_details.pif, thank_you.pif, movie0045.pif, document.Fall.pif, application.pif, and document.9446.pif.

It's crap like this that makes E-R want to endorse death penalties for this kind of crap!

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Spammers turn to Cell Phone Text messages to get their message out

Opening up a new front in the war on Spam, those pernicious spammers are going after your cellphone! If you have SMS text messaging or email enabled, you may start getting hundreds of beeps everyday as your cellphone email box gets stuffed with offers for lower mortgage rates, xxx girls, and the ever popular Nigerian plea to launder money.

Spammers are going after your cell phone. And they're going to do it in a major way. The problem is rampant is Europe, Japan and South Korea where the more advanced G3 cell networks are used. Luckily, until now, the U.S. has stayed under the radar because they use the less advanced 2.5 standard. But all that will change as the U.S. transitions to the more advanced standard.

How it's done:
Spammers can get your cellphone number two different ways:
1) Your new cellphone number is a reused number previously on a message list or
2) Cellphone numbers are assigned in blocks. When a spammer figures out the last four numbers of a cellphone number in a particular area code, it can modify the number and spam all the numbers in a block of up to 10,000 phones.

And the worst part is ... unsolicited SMS text messages or cellphone email can cost you for each message if you don't have text messaging or email included in your monthly service plan. Multiply that by the typical amount of spam you get in your regular email box, and you can see those charges adding up!
And you know it's bad when even the Direct Marketing Association, which opposes most email spam legislation, is against the practice of cellphone spam because it imposes costs on the recipient.

Europe has an opt-in law against cellphone spam, Japan has a less effectuve opt-out law, and cellphones are included on Texas' "do not call" list.

State Senator Debra Bowen is working on a new bill to provide citizens the right to sue cellphone spammers for $500 per unsolicited message.

That's a good start, but what needs to happen is getting Congress involved and add cellphone text/email to the National Do Not Call List. So far, Congress is looking at the matter in typical fashion - they're considering passing "opt-out" legislation which Japan is learning does little - if anything.

You can also help by joining CAUCE. The Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial Email (CAUCE) is an ad hoc, all volunteer organization, created by Netizens to advocate for a legislative solution to the problem of SPAM. They're on the forefront in the battle against spam and helped defeat fax-spammers a few years ago. They deserve your support.

You can join free by heading here.

Assures Senator they're not to go after the "little guy"

CNNTECH has a story that "big bad," the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), says it will not go after small violators when it sues people who illegally share songs on the Internet. In a response to Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman's (R) inquiries over their heavy handed tactics, the RIAA assured Coleman by saying:

"RIAA is in no way targeting 'de minimis' users ... RIAA is gathering evidence and preparing lawsuits only against individual computer users who are illegally distributing a substantial amount of copyrighted music."

Though they didn't specify what a "substantial amount" really means, Coleman's hearing have obviously achieved the desired effect. And it's rather nice having an 800 lb. gorilla in your corner!

You can donate to Senator Coleman's re-election effort by going here.

Monday, August 18, 2003

A Mac user vents his frustration ...

With apologies to Keith Benicek ...

New worm seeks to heal the damage from Blaster ...

The Washington Post reports that a new worm is making the rounds ... but this one is benevolent. Seeking out infected computers, the worm then applies any one of 8 patches developed by Microsoft to cure the infection ... and it stays there until January 1, 2004 to monitor for any future attacks.

An interesting idea, to be sure. If a worm can be used to infect a computer, why can't one be used to heal those that are indeed infected? That's the basic idea behind a flu shot.

However, sometimes the cure is worse than the disease. In this case, the nursing worm will sap processor power monitoring and scanning your system in an effort to protect it.

And could this healing worm simply be a ruse designed to keep us more vulnerable to attacks in the future?

Conventional wisdom tells me to take precautions to make sure NO worm hits my system. And should one get by, then I'll get my cures from reliable sources.

Crowded bandwidth causes radio trouble ...

The Washington Post reports that cellphone use is growing so fast and furious that the bandwidth is actually interferring with radio calls from police and fire departments!

"Emergency departments across the country -- including some in the District, Maryland and Virginia -- report unsettling stories of officers who can't call for backup, dispatchers who can't relay suspect descriptions and firefighters who can't request ambulances because of radio "dead spots" believed to be caused by wireless phone interference. "

When will tech companies and government agencies realize that certain frequencies are SACROSANCT to ensuring domestic tranquility?

Sunday, August 17, 2003

Link's about the Blaster Worm:

W32/Blaster-A Worm spreads like lightning

The latest pernicious worm to assault the internet community is the W32/Blaster-A Worm. And boy, is it spreading like wildfire all across the `Net!

XP, NT, or Windows 2000 users are the likely culprits. If a user is lucky enough to be hit by this worm, they are constantly being knocked off the net & forced to reboot their OS. It ends up being a vicious circle.

Microsoft talks about the fix here.

Synmantec - God bless them - offers a free cleaner here.