Friday, March 18, 2011

Pwned Again

       Last week we brought you the hacking competition Pwn2own. Now I would like to bring you some more of those results, this time from the mobile OS side of the competition. We told you that it didn’t take anyone long at all to crack Apple’s Safari browser or the IE8.  It seems that on the mobile side of things, the Google Android OS and Windows Phone 7, were abandoned and unhacked at the end of the competition. That is a good thing to know considering the recent malware that was found in the Android marketplace.  On the lighter side of things it only took 2 days for the iOS and the Blackberry OS to be hacked. Those contestants who were lined up to hack the Android OS and the Windows 7 OS withdrew for a variety of reasons.

         Pwn2own is now in its fifth year. For those of you who don’t know the hacking competition is divided into two areas of competition: web browsers and mobile operating systems. Those would be the areas that we use the most. Pwning and owning occurs if the hacker defeats the frozen version. If the exploit that they used still exists in the current firmware, they are also eligible to receive a monetary prize.

         There are many different factors to determine how hard a target is to hack. There is the safety of the software itself, the exploit mitigations that are already in place for that software, and then the amount of research that has already been conducted ( which can thereby speed of the process of writing the actual exploit itself). Contestants withdrew from hacking Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome, even though Google had offered $20,000. The iPhone and the Blackberry use Webkit in their browsers, which means that they are all susceptible to exploitation through the browser, and that’s exactly how the iPhone and Blackberry were hacked. Although no device is safe from being hacked. What do you think? I would really love to hear your comments. As always enjoy your day!      

Thursday, March 17, 2011

40 Years of Viruses

January 2011 Statistics of Computers Worldwide

            Is your computer sick? Is it tired and sluggish? Maybe it is infected? This year marks the 40th anniversary of Creeper, the world’s first computer virus. From Creeper to Stuxnet and all in between, the last four decades saw the number of malware instances boom from 1,300 in 1990 to 50,000 in 2000, to over 200 million in 2010. Besides nothing more than sheer quantity, viruses, which were originally used as academic proof of concepts, quickly turned into geek pranks, then rapidly evolved into cybercriminal tools. Now the virus scene has been monetized, and virtually all viruses are developed for the sole purpose of making money. Imagine that!

              Let’s take a look at some of the viruses over the last 40 year’s. It seems to me that viruses were NOT what they have become. Viruses used to be getting into a computer system “just to see if you could”. Kind of like sneaking out after it was time to go to bed whenever you were a kid “just to see if you could”. Now viruses just are like thieves, out to steal or destroy your identity and bank account. A genius mathematician by the name of Von Neumann came up with the concept of self-replicating automatas in the 1950’s. The first real computer virus came about in 1971 by an employee of a company that was working on “ARPANET”, the internet’s ancestor.

           The first virus, the creeper had an intriguing feature. It would look for a machine on the network, transfer to it, and display the following message: “ I’m the Creeper, catch me if you can”, and start over, thereby hoping from system to system. The next known computer virus was created by a 15 year old boy on an Apple II. It was just “geeky fun”. The name of this virus was the “Elk Cloner”. It was strictly harmless. It was spread via floppy disks. Infected machines displayed a harmless poem, dedicated to the viruses glory. Although it was harmless, it became global.

         In 1987 we had the virus named Jerusalem. It was first detected in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Each year on Friday the 13th , this virus deleted every single program that’s ran on the infected system. The first known virus to have destructive global impact. 1992 brought us Michelangelo, followed by 1999’s Melissa, 2000’s I Love You, 2001’s Code Red, which infected server’s. Microsoft even put out a $250,000 dollar bounty for the creator of this. There have been numerous since then as well, including last year’s Stuxnet.

       Stuxnet is a Windows based computer worm. It was discovered in July 2010, it targets industrial software and equipment. It is the first discovered malware that spies on and subverts industrial systems, and the first to include a programmable logic controller rootkit. Stuxnet is a real malicious virus. A report that was released in January 2011 indicated that 50% of the worlds computer’s were infected in some way or another. What’s next? No one knows for sure. It used to be that only Windows based computer’s had viruses. Now we see that even Apple and Linux based computer’s have become infected as well. If I were a betting man, I would say that cybercriminals are going to attack the smart phones and the iPads next. If you have any comments or feedback that you would like to share, please feel free to drop me a few lines. If there is any topic that you would like to see something written on that include that as well. As always I enjoy hearing from you and get out there and enjoy your day!         

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

R.I.P. Microsoft Zune (2006-2011)

        Here's a story for the masses. Microsoft is finally killing off the Zune. After Apple's successful run with the iPod starting in 2001, Microsoft wanted a piece of the MP3 player pie. This is what they offered us.  They tried to compete, but was 5 year's behind their biggest competitor, Apple. At the time of the release of the iPod, Microsoft was still the biggest tech company in the world. The reason that was given to stop production of the Zune music and video player is because of tepid demand, letting the company focus on other devices.

         The Zune was good, just not good enough to compete with the iPod. Word has it that only the hardware aspect of the Zune is being retired. You can still go to the Zune website at  and get the Zune software for either your mobile phone, Xbox, or even your desktop PC. Zune software let's customer's buy songs and movies, as well as pay a monthly fee to stream unlimited music.

          After 5 years of the release of the iPod, Microsoft released the Zune in 2006. It just never managed to get a grip of the MP3 market that Apple already had the reigns on. Upon it's release Microsoft's Steve Ballmer predicted that one day the Zune would overtake Apple and the iPod. This as we see never happened, and now we are seeing the outcome. Apple had a 77% of the MP3 market last year, whereas Microsoft's Zune failed to crack the top 5. I would love to hear some feedback on this one. As always get out there and enjoy your day!  

Professor Messer

         Do you have a passion for computer’s? Are you studying to go into some aspect of the IT field? Do you need help, but really can’t afford it? We all know that the studying and testing materials for these exams can be costly. That’s where Professor Messer comes in. He is a certified professional that can help. You can visit his website at the following address:

          Yes at Professor Messer’s website, there are studying video’s and material for a number of the different IT exams. You can get help for the CompTia A+ certification, The CompTia N+ certification, The CompTia S+, Microsoft Certification, NMap certification. The best part about Professor Messer’s study material is it is made freely available.
          You may ask, what’s that? CompTia is the Computing Technology Industry Association. One of the courses that they provide is the A+ certification. The A+ certification demonstrates competency as a computer technician. CompTia’s certification is vendor neutral, which means that it not only cover’s Microsoft, but Linux and Novell as well. The N+ is a certification that is used to measure skill as a network technician: the understanding of network hardware, installation and troubleshooting. S+ certification is of course a Security certificate dealing with computer security topics such as cryptography and access control, as well as business related topics such as disaster recovery and risk management.

          The Microsoft certification that is offered is the Microsoft 70-680 certification. For those of you who don’t know what that entails, it’s the Windows 7 configuration. With the Windows 7 training you get Installing, upgrading, migrating, deploying among other topics. Professor Messer can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube as well. All of his courses are free. Why would you bother with boot camps or even paying outrageous prices for study courses. Head on over to his website and check out his offerings now. I would love to hear or read your thoughts and comments! As always, get out there and enjoy your day!     

Monday, March 14, 2011

Microsoft Fusion Labs

                      You know we are a busy people. We like to stay that way it seems. We do however like our news and our social media. With Microsoft Fusion Labs, you can have all of that. I wasn't ware of this until recently. I'm really not a huge fan of Microsoft, but I thought that I would give this a spin. Fusion Labs works in partnership with product and research teams to ideate, develop, and deliver new social, real time, and media rich experiences for home and for work. Fuse Labs experiences gives users new ways to create, connect, and collaborate with people, information and ideas that matter to them.

                      There are some very interesting projects at Fusion Labs. Some of the few include Docs for Facebook. I know that at times, you can only post so much on Facebook, but usually people have more things on their minds. Docs gives you a great, flexible social productivity experience. You can decide who to share with. A truly rich experience. There is Bing Twitter Maps as well. It seems millions upon millions of people are always using Twitter to keep up on so many different topics. By seeing where those people are in real time, the experience brings an event or place to life right there on the Bing map in front of you. You can even zoom in and check out the street levels.  These are just a few of the examples that Fusion Labs has to offer. There are a total of 9 different applications. Don't take my word for it though. Head on over there for yourself and see what Fusion can do for you. They can be found at the following link:  The best part of these applications is that not only can you enjoy them at home, but you can take them with you as well. They are freely available for Windows phone 7.  As always get out there and enjoy your day!  


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