Category Archives: If You Only Knew

City in Montana Demands Your Login Details to be Hired

This is so wrong, I barely know what to say. I sure hope this trend doesn't start to catch on, because a lot of people would give up the information when they're pressured instead of doing the right thing and refusing.

"Please list any and all, current personal or business websites, web pages or memberships on any Internet-based chat rooms, social clubs or forums, to include, but not limited to: Facebook, Google, Yahoo,, MySpace, etc." the form reads. But Bozeman isn't simply interested in finding out where to look for potentially embarrassing personal details; the city wants full disclosure, since the form demands username and password information for each.

This is way worse than all those sickening social networking sites asking for your e-mail address password.


Here is the contact information for the relevant people in the city if you want to ask them why they thought this would be a good idea.

And just in case someone were to change the form, here's a copy of the original found on their website:

This is for real... they actually expect you to give up your account details!
This is for real... they actually expect you to give up your account details!

Stalkers and Pranksters Using Your Cellphone To Spy on You

One day, my father-in-law answered a phone call on his cell and was shocked to hear his own voice on the other end. After listening a few seconds, he realized that he was listening to a recorded conversation that he'd had with a customer many days prior.

My in-laws asked me how this happened and I theorized, but didn't have a good answer at the time.

They can turn on your cellphone and listen to your conversation from anywhere at any time
Now it seems that what happened to him is the same sort of thing that happened to these two poor ladies where someone secretly installed software on their phone allowing them to track and monitor where they went, what they said, who called them and when, and, worst of all, turn on their cellphone remotely to listen to them even when they weren't using the phone.

At the end of the video, they mention a website for more information which has a few more details about the experiment such as the fact that the FBI used similar technology to spy on organized crime families.

The main problem here is that by putting all those extra features and gimmicks into cellphones means that they're nothing short of hand-held computers (and with that comes all the computer vulnerabilities). However, they mention ways to protect yourself such as:

  • Keep a close watch on your cellphone
  • Use a password on your phone to prevent casual tampering
  • Avoid high-end phones with internet and multiple networking capabilities
  • Remove the battery from the phone when it's not being used

And by this point you're probably thinking the same thing I am, if you are the kind who wants a cool phone, how realistic is any of this? Not very.

Instead, their last recommendation, which is the same I was going to make is to get a pre-paid cellphone for better security. Why? It's just a phone. No gimmicks, no computers (and no contract!).

It would be nice if cell phone companies would be willing to cell simple phones with only a few basic features that we actually want (like voice-dialing), but until and unless that ever happens, your best security is with a pre-paid phone.

West Virginia E-Voting Machines Caught Flipping Votes

Touted as a "touchscreen validation error", a West Virginian retiree was "miffed" to find that his vote had been recorded incorrectly.

Life imitates life does it not? (Homer Simpson Tries to Vote for Obama on E-vote Machine)

It's so weird though… How come no one realized that E-voting machines could be a problem?

Oh wait….
Florida E-Voting Study
New e-voting study shows it's really easy to steal an election
Researchers reveal 'extremely serious' vulnerabilities in e-voting machines

Get Paid to Be Spied On

How would you like to be paid $50 a month to carry a cellphone that can be remotely activated as a listening device by the company that provides them?

The scary thing is, this is just software, it's not a special phone. If you have software like this, what's to stop you from installing it in your girlfriend's phone or a business contact. Where's my "phone only" phone?

Never Talk To The Police

Schneier covers two videos explaining why it's a bad idea to say anything to police when arrested or investigated.

The first video is a law school professor explaining why he's proud to say he will never talk to a police officer under any circumstances. Here are some highlights:

  • There are tens of thousands of federal crimes. Many of which are so broad, you could be convicted under completely bogus circumstances.
  • Example: If the IRS just wants to "Ask you a few questions" you say no unless they grant you immunity
  • There is NO way it can help you. But even if you tell the absolute truth and are totally innocent, there are many ways it can hurt you.

The neat thing is that he gave up half his time to an expert law-enforcement interviewer. The second video is of that expert interviewer explaining some of the tips and tricks he uses to get people to talk. Highlights include:

  • Any cop can follow you for a time and find a legitimate violation to pull you over for
  • He'll come into the room with a stack of papers with a videotape on top (so they think there's a video) and just start doing paperwork. Because people hate silence, eventually the suspect will start talking
  • He brings in a tape recorder and eventually says, "I want to talk to you off the record" and he turns it off. The thing is there's no such thing as "off the record" and every word in an interrogation room is recorded.
  • While you may technically be innocent until proven guilty, a jury assumes that if you're sitting next to a defense attorney, you have a reason to be there.
  • If you didn't know already, police are allowed to lie in interviews

The last thing he stressed which seemed supported by the rest of his talk was that he never tries to send an innocent person to jail. Which so long as the interviewer your talking to has that same viewpoint is very comforting. Since you can't know their intentions, I think it's safer to take the first guy's advice and not talk to the police without representation.

Why Congress Won’t Prosecute Bush

Here's a take that I'm ashamed to admit I hadn't considered: Members of Congress may be protecting Bush because of votes they made previously that might seem to have supported his illegal activities. While it might not end in prosecution, it could end their lucrative Congressional careers.

So, of course key Congressional Democrats who were made aware of these illegal torture and surveillance programs are going to protect the Bush administration and other lawbreakers. If you were Jay Rockfeller or Nancy Pelosi, would you want there to be investigations and prosecutions for torture programs that, to one degree or another, you knew about? If you were Jane Harman, wouldn't you be extremely eager to put a stop to judicial proceedings that were likely to result in a finding that surveillance programs that you knew about, approved of, and helped to conceal were illegal and unconstitutional?

(H/T to for the link)

Allstate’s “Good Hands” Aren’t So Good

If you've been listening to the commercials by the smooth talking Dennis Haysbert to be in "good hands" with Allstate, you might need to reconsider.

[Allstate ranked first] among 10 companies that do everything possible to avoid paying claims, employ hardball tactics against policyholders, reward executives with extravagant salaries, and raise premiums to maximize profits

State Farm also made the list, but Geico is absent.

Ugly Shoes Also Dangerous?

Child gets foot stuck in escalator due to the Croc brand shoes she was wearing. Most disturbing is this:

CPSC is aware of 77 entrapment incidents since January 2006, with about half resulting in injury. All but two of the incidents involved popular soft-sided flexible clogs and slides.

What the hell is the Consumer Product and Safety Commission doing if they know about this problem and aren't doing anything about it?

Of course, if the current head of the CPSC is as bad as the one Bush nominated last time, this is hardly a shock.

Shortlist for Checking Out A Company Online Before You Give them Money

Not too long ago, I put an item on my Christmas wishlist that my wife bought, but I put a link to a fraud company as a place to buy it. If I had bothered to check it out first, I would have quickly realized as much and saved us both a lot of trouble.

So before you pull out your credit card, you should check them out.

Bogus Lifelock Sites Litter the Web

Lifelock is that company run by the dude who boasts, "Here's my Social Security Number! I can't be hurt by ID Theft Man, I'm In-VINCIBLE!!!!" or some such nonsense.

First of all, he was robbed by some guy in texas which proves the point I've been trying to make all along: Lifelock doesn't PREVENT ID theft. But more important than that is how this company advertises. Besides having ads just damned everywhere on the web, I've found a wealth of fake sites that pretend to be 3rd party recommendations, but have little to no content other than Lifelock ads disguised as reviews. Whether this is the direct result of Lifelock marketing or the fault of over-zealous users of a Lifelock affiliate program, but either way, having sites like this really damage what little reputation Lifelock has.

Created: Nov 2007 by Larry from Bothell WA

Though the site has a ton of links and categories, the only actual page I can load is the one under identity theft which contains lines like "I was skeptical at first" and "Lifelock does a lot more than I thought".

[+] Sixfold's only article

Here's their whole ''article'' (a.k.a. Lifelock ad)

Created: Sept 2007 by Marketing Partners INC. St Joseph, MI

This site has no content other than a few pages explaining things about Lifelock.

Created: Feb 2008 by Domains by Proxy, Scottsdale AZ

I found this site originally because the very first comment on my "Lifelock Sucks" article was from a guy who left this url with his comment. The comment appeared to be reasonable, if wrong, criticism of my position. But when I went to the site, I found out that it was a thinly disguised front site. Though there are a few articles on it not related to Lifelock, the page navigation consists only of "About Lifelock", "Features", "How Lifelock Protects You", and "Order".

I love their "About Us" page:

About Us

Here at we try to focus on protecting you from identity theft. Giving you tips and updating the site with the ever changing identity theft crisis changes. Criminals think of new ways every day to scam innocent people.

Identity Theft has been such a problem in the United States along with the world. So prevent yourself from identity theft.

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns. Please feel free to drop us an e-mail at support@igotmyidentitystolen.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

– Trying to make your life easier,

Mr. Identity Theft Protector

Could you get more generic than that? Note that neither the domain registration information nor the comment left on my site has a name attached.

Created: April 2007 by Whoisguard (a company that shields the registrant)

You couldn't make a better search engine bait site than this. Lifelock is mentioned 55 times in 4 postings (the only four posts on the site) with titles like "A Review of Lifelock", "Lifelock Consumer Review", "Lifelock Million Dollar Guarantee", and "Lifelock – Identity Theft Security or Scam".

And of course, the first line in each "unbiased fair 3rd party review" is "LifeLock is the only Identity Theft Prevention Solution backed by a one-million dollar guarantee!Click here to get a 10% discount."

Created: April 2007 by Kurt from Tallahassee

Single page ad for Lifelock. No other content.

Created: March 2008 by Patty from Louisville

Four posts on a blog, all about Lifelock.

Created: Nov 2007 by Ken from Singapore

Single page ad for Lifelock.

Started in April 2007, has put out a wealth of (sarcasm) useful unbiased information (/sarcasm)… into their only two categories "ID Theft" and "Lifelock". Of note, this site includes real news and videos unlike every other site I've seen so far, but the last line in EVERY post is something similar to this: "To purchase LifeLock or get more information please click here."

Created: Sept 2006 by Kurt from Tallahassee

There is nothing, nothing, on this site but a single page ad for Lifelock. I count is as a front site because of this:

We are proud to be working with Lifelock to offer the most comprehensive ID-Security programs available… blah blah blah

Correction: There is something besides the ad. If you look carefully through the ad, there are some links that go to other articles and such promoting Lifelock. There. Are you happy now George?

Created: April 2007 by Domains by Proxy, Scottsdale AZ (another registrant shielding service)

This one is a bit curious. They have information about some other monitoring services as well and aren't as clearly a front site, but they've got the tell-tale signs. They were also started in April of '07 and their postings are heavily weighted towards Lifelock more so than the others they talk about (which, by the way, is only 2 other services).

Created: Feb 2008 by Domains By Proxy, Scottsdale AZ

A single page ad for Lifelock. Most notable is that the normal links at the bottom of the page (Contact, TOS, Copyright, etc) all link straight back to They're only there for looks.

This is getting dull so here are some more listed in no particular order

And the following are sites that have other posts, but at least one on lifelock that pretends to be a review, but isn't: (3 articles) (3 articles) (1 article) (4 articles) (4 articles) (1 article) (1 article) (18+ articles) (1 article)

And a million more. Just do a search for Lifelock and you'll find them everywhere.

The Golden Rule of Cables: There’s No Difference So Buy Cheap

The Consumerist was taking heat recently for posting articles about how Monster brand cables are no better than any other even though they cost so much more. Now Popular Science is joining the action with their article explaining that all high end cables are a ripoff.

The electronics industry’s dirty little secret is that they have extremely thin margins on gear, so they make up the cost difference by up-selling you on extended warranties and incredibly marked-up cables.

This is completely true. When I worked at a big named retailer, I could buy a 30 dollar cable for about $6 with my employee discount. Things like extended warranties, add on-services, and accessories are all the same.