Category Archives: Technology

Interview With an Adware Developer

I found this on Schneier's blog and it's a very interesting read from one of the people who's responsible for taking advantage of people with adware.

One of the funniest parts was this:

I should probably first speak about how adware works. Most adware targets Internet Explorer (IE) users because obviously they're the biggest share of the market. In addition, they tend to be the less-savvy chunk of the market. If you're using IE, then either you don't care or you don't know about all the vulnerabilities that IE has.

Are you using Firefox yet?

Yes, I know there's Google's Chrome too, but it's less developed and operates under Google's crappy privacy policy so for now, I'm just going to forget it's there.

Don’t Want to Let Your Loved Pets Go? Clone Them!

A company has cloned a family pet and delivered it to the family who's dog died sometime last year. The clone is a puppy with the same DNA as the dog they had that died. While movies like to pretend that it's possible to transfer memories through cloning, the fact is that this dog is only similar genetically.

However, there's quite a bit of behavior and attitude that comes with us due to genes and it will be interesting to see how similar this dog is to his predecessor. In the future if we really loved a particular pet, instead of trying something new, we can just make Fluffy 2.0? This should get interesting.

(H/T to Slashdot for the link)

Ixquick – A Search Engine Focusing On Privacy

I was sent a notice about a new search engine that maintains complete privacy by my acquaintance Katherine Albrecht, the worlds foremost authority on RFID privacy issues.

I've made no secret of my disdain for other search engines like Google or Yahoo who tell you they're doing a favor by only storing data for a little while. And then there was AOL who proved to the world how damaging even anonymized search data can be.

Technically, Ixquick is a meta search engine and doesn't do it's own work, but by acting as an intermediary, it can effectively shield you from the rotten privacy practices of those other guys. It will take some testing to see how well it works, but it's worth a shot until some of the other search services wise up.

Tooth Regeneration Coming?

I have always been a fan of medical science and replacement parts (let's face it, you shouldn't have to live your whole life blind, missing a limb, or with serious medical issues due to the mistakes of youth). I'd always thought there must be a way to trick the body into regrowing teeth and apparently I was on the money.

In a few years dentists will treat periodontal disease with regeneration by using stem cells to create hard and soft tissue; they will take out a tooth that is about to fall, and reconnect it firmly to the regenerated tissue. Although nobody is predicting when it will be possible to grow teeth on demand, in adults, to replace missing ones, a common guess is five to ten years.

The Giant Rabbit Hoax

There are many photoshopped and altered photos on the net. The easiest way to find them is to type "not photoshopped" into Google because people are big fat liars. One that constantly makes the rounds and is often listed as "amazing not photoshopped rabbit" is one of those times.

It's FAKE. Duh!
It's FAKE. Duh!
This is the real one
This is the real one

The photo on the right is very hard to find on the net because the ones showing him at odd angles increasing his apparent size are so much more fun, but the fact is that the rabbit is big, but not THAT big. Whether camera angle, photoshop or both, it's fake and obviously so. Can we please stop spreading the lies now?

Elvis Lives Thanks to Cloned Passports

The Hacker's Choice, a non-commercial group of computer security experts, has released a video showing a cloned passport being approved by a security scanner at a Dutch airport. When the reader scans the passport it is revealed to belong to one Elvis Aaron Presley, complete with picture.

RFID is not ready. Every country that has tried to use it for identification has failed and miserable.

(H/T to Slashdot for the link)

Washington State and Microsoft Sue Companies for Using Fake Security Alerts

From the "well freaking duh!" department comes a news story that Washington state (and Microsoft) are suing companies that use those fake security alerts to trick people into downloading and using their products. You know the ones. They usually say something like "Warning! Your computer is infected with viruses and you must download a quick security update to stop it".

Your first warning should be when they ask for your credit card number, but I don't hold that mistake against anyone. The real problem is the scumbag companies who utilize this kind of manipulation. It makes you wonder how they've gotten away with it for so long in the first place.

(H/T to Schneier's Blog for the link)

Illegalize Ad Squatting

The same site over and over, many domains I can't have
The same site over and over, many domains I can't have
So I know that to buy a website that either the name of a famous person or business in the hopes of making them pay you bunches of money when they get smart enough to want that site is Cybersquatting and is illegal. Simple enough.

I also know that buying a domain that similar to a major site in the hopes of getting traffic from people who make spelling mistakes is also illegal. For example, if I were to register Hotmial and I got lots of traffic from people who meant to go to Hotmail. Clearly bad.

But here's the important question: what about ad squatters? Ad squatters are what I call those people who buy up every possible domain that consists of words or letter combinations that people would likely buy, park annoying ads on them and leave them there for all time. For you to actually get that site, you would have to pay a lot more money than if the site weren't registered assuming the ad squatter decides to sell at all.

I say ad squatting should also be illegal because if someone like me wants to register a domain name for a new business or website, I'm screwed because every possible good name has been taken. If some real company or individual somewhere legitimately used the site for their own blog or store, I wouldn't mind, but these jerks only have worthless ads and no content and do nothing to add to the Internet as a whole. In fact they make it worse because search engines often list them as relevant due to the domain name alone when in fact they have nothing useful on their pages at all.

I've read the stories about how these people make millions a year on these annoying ad pages, and I say screw them. I don't begrudge someone from coming up with a brilliant idea and making a lot of money, but when you're choking the opportunities of everyone else to do it at the same time, that's not ok.

So question time: Is this already illegal and either way is there anything someone can do to get a domain name away from one of these weasels? If not, does anyone know a senator they can convince to introduce a new bill or modification to one of the existing cybersquatting laws?

New York Second State Dumb Enough to Put RFID In Licenses

When will people ever learn?

The optional license will include a picture and radio frequency identification tag that can be scanned to verify a person's identity. The tag will not contain any personal information – only an assigned number, authorities said.

How reassuring. So they won't be able to take my data from it, but they'll be able to clone it and frame me or just use the unique ID to track me remotely. But they're going to be passing out sleeves that prevent it from being read remotely without your authorization. So if you don't find it bulky and actaully use it, you'll be partially protected until it's time to pull it out to be read or if someone gets a few seconds alone with your wallet to pull it out and clone it.

(H/T to Slashdot for the link)

Child Predators Shifting to Blackmail

It seems that online predators are getting tired of savvy kids that know better than to be lured (or they're just getting lazy/impatient). Either way, one police group is warning that predators are shifting to a strategy of blackmail instead.

As always, be aware of what your kids are doing online and know who their friends are. Make sure they know what to do when threatened by someone online.