OS X Security and Malware

Please folks practice safe computing – keep your systems up to date, don’t install pirated software (including music and videos), clear your browser cache often, and don’t install ‘helpers’ or ‘codecs’ you cannot thoroughly verify.
Using the line, “I have a Mac I don’t get worms or virus’ etc.” is not only naively silly, it can also be costly.
Remember OS X is built on a Unix foundation and Unix has been around since 1969! So you can bet as the Mac user population increases the number of hacks ‘ported’ to OS X will start to grow exponentially. That coupled with the Apple’s misleading marketing campaign saying, “Mac’s don’t get virus’ etc.” often leads to poor computing habits that can, and I am sure will be exploited more and more.
So keep safe out here.
Some scary info:
http://www.sophos.com/blogs/sophoslabs/v/post/4811

http://www.sophos.com/blogs/sophoslabs/v/post/3710

Peace out

Stop Spam Calls

Ok, how many of you have gotten calls that were dialed by an automated system?
You know the kind. Your phone rings and if you pick it up there is a ‘pause’ before someone gets on the line.
Who then proceeds to tell you that,
”the FBI needs your information..”
“your car warranty is about to expire..”
“you owe money to such and such and we can reduce the amount…”
“we are in the neighbor hood doing x for the Jone’s etc.”

The list is just about endless.

Or how about getting messages on your voice mail or answering machine that tell you “to call 800-xxx-xxxx ext. xxx for a very important matter.” Or “you have an outstanding balance please call 800-xxx-xxxx etc.”

These calls and nearly all like them are made by ‘dialing programs’. There are two types most in use today.

The first and most common is the programs that actually dial a whole set of numbers for a given area code and prefix.
Example: 310-473-xxxx from 0001 on up.

The second is used mostly by fraudsters, bill collectors (illegitimate and some times legitimate) and other scammers.
The program dials a given set of numbers the same way.

HERE IS THE KICKER:
Since the calls are made by machine they follow rules! And we can exploit them to our advantage!
The programs were designed to save money by dialing fast and not wasting the time of (expensive) people. Although one could argue that wages in Bangladesh aren’t that high, you still need real people, even if they don’t speak proper English, to carry on a real conversation.
So when the dialer get’s an out of order or line disconnected ‘tone’ it marks the number as ‘no good’ and moves on.
If however you pick up the phone the system knows the number is valid and puts you through to a person who will then annoy the crap out of you.
Same goes for the calls on answering machines and those going to voice mail – if the dialer get’s an out of order or line disconnected ‘tone’ it marks the number as ‘no good’ and moves on. If your machine or voice mail answers with a ‘message’ like, “hello we are not here ……” the call then plays the message to call a certain 800 number back etc.
With any of these calls the absolute worst thing you can do is actually call that number!!
Your phone will be marked as ‘valid’ and ‘worth calling’ forever!
[This also applies to spam email too!! Never respond to spam email to ‘be removed from list..’]
So how do you we beat the machines?
Quite simple actually.
By playing the ‘call could not be complete’ or ‘number disconnected’ tone before your answer message.
That’s right by simply placing that ‘beep beep beep the number you are dialing…’ tone before your message you will kill the auto dialed call. If you are like me you can even play the tone before you answer a live call!
Just play the tone then record your message.
Make sure you tell people who should be calling you – family friends – that they should ingnore/wait for the actual message.

So where to find the ‘tone’.
Here are a couple links to the tones with the associated message.
Remember you only need the ‘tone’ at the beginning to make the dialer think the number is bad.
You can find them here:
Disconnected number:
Wave format:
Call not completed as dialed:
Wave format

I have created a looped tone with out the message that I use. It plays the ‘beep beep beep’ twice in a row. I will try and find a ‘place’ to put it when I can for easy download. Check back.

Speeding up Firefox

I have written here before of the extensions and add-ons I use in Firefox. [see end of post]
So I though I should add what tweaks I use to speed up and enhance the browser itself.
Give them a try and if they do not improve you browsing experience with Firefox you can always go back to the default settings. [see end of article]

To speed up Firefox 3.x:
Launch Firefox thenType in
about:config
into the navigation bar, you will thne be ‘warned’ say you will be careful.
You are going to be adjusting the browsers default settings and parameters.

To find a value simply type the name of the setting (or copy between the quotes and paste it) in to the ‘Filter’ line and hit enter.
If the configuration exists it will be displayed.
Simply double-click and make the adjustments – change integer or boolean value.

If the key/setting does not exist you will have to add/create it.

For values with “true” after them,
Right click below the ‘Filter bar’ (in the empty space since no values were found)>Choose New>boolean insert the value, hit ok then select true

For values with numbers after them,
Right click below the ‘Filter bar’ (in the empty space since no values were found)>Choose New>Integer insert the value, hit ok then insert the number

Insert OR adjust these values and settings (no quotes):

“network.http.pipelining”, true

“network.http.proxy.pipelining”, true

“network.http.pipelining.maxrequests”, 8

“content.notify.backoffcount”, 5

“plugin.expose_full_path”, true

“ui.submenuDelay”, 0

“content.interrupt.parsing”, true

“content.max.tokenizing.time”, 2250000

“content.notify.interval”, 750000

“content.notify.ontimer”, true

“content.switch.threshold”, 750000

“nglayout.initialpaint.delay”, 0

“network.http.max-connections”, 48

“network.http.max-connections-per-server”, 16

“network.http.max-persistent-connections-per-proxy”, 16

“network.http.max-persistent-connections-per-server”, 8

“browser.cache.memory.capacity”, 65536

“browser.turbo.enabled”, true

Restart Firefox, and it should be much more responsive and faster!

This works for nearly all high-speed connections and modern PC’s (Mac’s included).
If you are a dial-up connection DON’T DO THIS.
AND
Please step in to the 21st century, and get some form of high-speed (dsl, cable etc.) internet.

If these don’t seem to work for you, you can always reset them to their original state:
When you change a preference setting or add a new preference, the associated about:config entry will appear in bold type with a user set status.
To restore a preference setting to the default value or to remove an added preference, context-click (right-click) on the preference and select Reset.

Or you can read more at Mozilla’s site:
http://kb.mozillazine.org/Resetting_preferences

Firefox Extensions I Use

Windows Utilites and Tools

After cleaning up a friends system recently and dramatically improving it’s performance, appearance and usability I was asked again, nay begged, to recommend as many of the applications and or utilities I use(d) to install or put onto an existing or new installation of Windows to ‘protect it’ and to help keep it running optimally and take full control of your applications, system preferences and resources.

The list below contains most of the things I install on, or use, on all of my machines.
There are also ‘portable’ or ‘non-install’ versions of nearly all of these applications which I carry on my thumb drives too. But I will not provide the links for them as they can be easily found the same place as the full installs of these applications.
There are of course many others I use for network administration but I won’t include all of those here now.
I just wanted to put this up so that those of you looking for some very good freeware applications to enhance and improve your computing experience could find them in one place. And to keep it as secure and trouble free as possible.

Firefox:
Download here
[see list at end for Firefox extensions and add ons I use too]

7-Zip opensource file archiver:
http://download.mozilla.org/?product=firefox-3.0.10&os;=win⟨=en-US
App:
http://superb-west.dl.sourceforge.net/sourceforge/sevenzip/7z465.exe

Notepad++ Opensource notepad on steroids:
http://notepad-plus.sourceforge.net/uk/about.php
Appinstall:
http://superb-west.dl.sourceforge.net/sourceforge/notepad-plus/npp.5.4.2.Installer.exe

Windows PowerToys:
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/downloads/powertoys/xppowertoys.mspx

ClearType Tuner PowerToy:
http://download.microsoft.com/download/b/7/0/b7019730-0fa3-47a9-a159-98b80c185aad/setup.exe

Alt-Tab Replacement:
http://download.microsoft.com/download/whistler/Install/2/WXP/EN-US/TaskswitchPowertoySetup.

Open Command Window Here:
http://download.microsoft.com/download/whistler/Install/2/WXP/EN-US/CmdHerePowertoySetup.exe

Tweak UI:
http://download.microsoft.com/download/f/c/a/fca6767b-9ed9-45a6-b352-839afb2a2679/TweakUiPowTweakUiPowertoySetup.exe

The entire Syinternals Suite:
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb842062.aspx

Complete tool set:
http://download.sysinternals.com/Files/SysinternalsSuite.zip

Of those I use most are:
Process Explorer and AutoRuns

Revo Uninstaller – freeware:
http://www.revouninstaller.com/
App:
http://www.revouninstaller.com/download/revosetup.exe

JKdefrag:
http://www.kessels.com/Jkdefrag/
App:
http://www.kessels.com/JkDefrag/JkDefrag-3.36.zip

Mike Lin’s Startup Control Panel:
http://mlin.net/
App:
http://www.mlin.net/files/StartupCPL.zip

Unlocker
http://ccollomb.free.fr/unlocker/

Wholockme
http://www.dr-hoiby.com/WhoLockMe/

File assassin
http://www.malwarebytes.org/fileassassin.php

A great spyware finder:

Spybot Search And Destroy
http://www.safer-networking.org/en/spybotsd/index.html

Don’t confuse this application with other that are trading on the ‘Spybot’ name and are in
and of themselves ACTUALLY spyware. The one and only original FREEWARE application is here.

http://www.spybotupdates.biz/files/spybotsd162.exe

CCleaner:
http://www.ccleaner.com/
http://www.filehippo.com/download_ccleaner/download/d1565b7fb77b48a3692a199d871845fd/

Taskbar Shuffle – a simple, small, free utility that lets you drag and drop your Windows
taskbar buttons to rearrange them:
http://nerdcave.webs.com/
download:
http://nerdcave.webs.com/downloads/ts2.5_setup.exe

Another program much like Tweak XP:
http://xenomorph.net/?page_id=336
installer:
http://xenomorph.net/files/xdn_tweaker_setup.exe

ImageBurn CD/DVD burner:
http://www.imgburn.com/
App:
http://download.imgburn.com/SetupImgBurn_2.4.4.0.exe

VLC Media Player:
http://www.videolan.org/vlc/
App:
http://www.videolan.org/mirror-geo.php?file=vlc/0.9.9/win32/vlc-0.9.9-win32.exe

KeyPass:
http://keepass.info/
http://downloads.sourceforge.net/keepass/KeePass-2.07-Beta-Setup.exe

ANTI VIRUS APPS:
I have used both of these and they are fine freeware applications.
I also am quite happy with corporate versions of McAfee and Symantec despite the idiot rantings of people who don’t do this for a living.

AVG free AV:
http://free.avg.com/
App Download:
Freeware download

Clamwin Free AV:
http://www.clamwin.com/
http://downloads.sourceforge.net/clamwin/clamwin-0.95.1-setup.exe

FIREFOX EXTENSIONS I use:
Better Gmail
https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/4866

Google toolbar:
https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/6249

pdf download:
https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/636

stop autoplay:
https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/1765

FoxyTunes
https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/219

Video DownloadHelper
https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/3006

Adblock Plus
https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/1865

Redirect Remover
https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/537

Grease Monkey for firefox – allows of additional script functionalities in firefox:
https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/748

GreaseMonkey Scripts:

Remove Facebook Ads:
http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/46560

YouTube HD Ultimate:
http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/31864

GZoom:
http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/7840