Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.

3/7/2012

Security and QR Codes

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Geek Work,The Dark Side — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:53 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Full Moon

Do you trust everything you see?

We’ve all seen QR codes, even if we may not have all recognized what they are.  These little, square dot patterns are everywhere these days, especially in advertising.  In fact, some people have gotten so used to scanning them with their smart phones to get more information about products and services that hackers are now exploiting them.  I recently read a very interesting article on TechRepublic by Michael Kassner titled Beware of QR Codes about an exploit found in the wild, and QR code exploits in general.  The problem is, we tend to trust them, mainly, I think, because they’re too new for us to have been burned bad by them yet, and they are popping up everywhere!  Pay attention as you go through your day and see how many of these little deals you bump into.  They’re in everything from magazine ads to product labels to posters to coupons!  Even Doonesbury has run a strip with a QR code in it!

So, as you swim out there, awash in the ocean of marketing and sales that we live in, pay attention to those who might subvert your complacency.  If it’s easy for you to use, it’s probably easy for someone to abuse, just like the QR code seems to be!

2/29/2012

On-Line Dating Security

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Bavarian Death Cake of Love,Geek Work,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Horse which is around lunchtime or 12:39 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon

I’m pretty sure I was propositioned by a prostitute on Match.com this morning.

I could be wrong, of course, but when a 27-year-old woman who’s profile says she’s “almost divorced” and looking for people in the age range between 35 and 37 sends an email to a 43-year-old man (ie. me) asking if he’s interested in a “one-nighter”, it seems suspicious to me.  Maybe I’m just cynical.
She started off sending me a short note that was a little vague, but at least sounded like she might have possibly read my profile.  Well, except for the part where I was 43.  But, most people I bump into out in the world aren’t very detail oriented, so I gave her the benefit of the doubt and  suggested that I might be a little old for her.  I went on to explain that I wasn’t comfortable dating someone who hadn’t started school yet when I would have graduated from college.  What I didn’t say was that it would make me feel like a pervert to dating someone potentially young enough to be my daughter, but, that’s what I was trying to get at, in a polite way.  Then I wished her good luck in her search and went on my merry way.
This morning, I got a note back asking if I was interested in a “one-nighter”.  And, then she gave me an e-mail address at Hotmail.com.  That raised two, giant red flags for me.  First of all, while I am a wizard in the sack, there’s nothing about my Match.com profile that would indicate that to the casual observer.  And, frankly, while many women find me absolutely adorable, I think that’s more based on my personality and sense of humor than my rugged good looks.  It’s been years since I was pretty.
So, sure, maybe she’s just a messed up kid trying to work out her “daddy issues” and not a hooker, but I suspect that she’s looking for an entirely different kind of “daddy”.  Either way, I don’t need that particular flavor of drama at this point in my life.  Seriously.

But, oddly enough, earlier in the week, I was reading a security blog at TechRepublic by Michael Kassner.  The entry was titled “Online Dating Services Risking More Than a Broken Heart” and was all about the potential security issues related to on-line dating.  Now, I work in the industry and I maintain pretty decent security, even at home, but I know not everyone is quite as paranoid as I am.  And, that’s just within the IT industry!  I cannot imagine the wild and wooly dangers faced by people foolish enough, or desperate enough, to contact someone who seems to good to be true through their own, personal e-mail address!  Not to mention how much data you put up on a profile that may be active indefinitely on a dating site.
So, go read his article and think about what you put out there, where you put it and who might be reading it.

Oh, and one last bit of dating advice from your Uncle Jim, if she seems too good to be true, she probably is!


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"If you want others to be happy, practise compassion.
If you want to be happy, practise compassion."
   --The Dalai Lama

1/12/2011

Name Security

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Geek Work,Rotten Apples,The Dark Side,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 6:21 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

No, not your personal name, network names!

Yeah, since I’ve been thinking about computer security a little in this new year and new decade, I’ve noticed a slightly disturbing trend.  Spammers have been working at redirecting you to compromised domains.  One way they do it is something called DNS cache poisoning.  Another is straight-up DNS hijacking.

Okay, let me back up a second.  For my slightly less-technical readers, DNS stands for Domain Name System.  That’s the system of servers that translates website names, like “www.google.com”, into addresses that your computer understands and can connect you to via a browser.  It’s how you found my blog, though you may not have even realized it.
DNS Hijacking is usually accomplished via a “rouge” server, which is a server setup by spammers to publish bad information.  The more usual method, I think, and more insidious, is DNS cache poisoning.  With that method, spammers trick good, valid DNS servers into updating their records with bad information.  Giving them poisonous information, if you will.

So, now, back to the hard-core server admins.  Last week I was reminding everyone that the start of a new year is a great time to change passwords, but it’s also a great time to check on other security issues, like your DNS.  Luckily, Michael Kassner over at TechRepublic has written a blog post titled Test your DNS servers for spoofability.  It’s worth a read and worth running through.  Maybe even making it a regular practice, to see if your DNS has been compromised.

Oh, and if you all want to read more about DNS, and how to implement it, there’s a great book from O’Reilly titled [amazon_link id=”0596100574″ target=”_blank” ]DNS and BIND[/amazon_link] that’s well worth owning.  Trust me.


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"As human beings, we all want to be happy and free from misery. We have learned that the key to happiness is inner peace. The greatest obstacles to inner peace are disturbing emotions such as anger and attachment, fear and suspicion, while love and compassion, a sense of universal responsibility, are the sources of peace and happiness."
   --Dalai Lama


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