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Browser hijackers can be more dangerous than some people think

One of the biggest problems I have seen recently, both in corporate and home environments, is the unwitting hijacking of users’ computers by various malicious software, some of the most common of which are browser hijackers. This is an article at Wired magazine that should give you pause. You have to be EXTREMELY careful when you go to any website that you don’t know. The next time someone forwards you that funny game that is out there on the Internet, give it a little thought before you actually go get it.

Here is a list of resources that I use to combat spyware and malware on users’ computers:

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Hybrid car technology – is it as good as they say?

Wow is all I can say. I read this article at Wired magazine, and then I went to Pete Blackshaw’s blog about his real-world experience with his Civic hybrid, and I have to admit that it may have changed my mind about buying a hybrid as my next car. I am a little concerned, and I hope by the time I am actually ready to buy one that they will have improved the technology to actually achieve their mileage estimates in the real world. Only time will tell.

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Sasser worm author confesses

Here is a slew of links to the coverage of the apprehension of the Sasser worm author:

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Microsoft Security Summit – Philadelphia

I am sitting in the Microsoft security summit in Philadelphia, and I wanted to provide some thoughts on what has happened so far. The keynote address was given by Bret Arsenault, Microsoft’s Strategic Security Advisor Team Lead. During his presentation, he showed one slide with resources for security information. The last item on the list was, “Security Blogs”. The image on the screen was of an ASP powered blog with the Syndication and orange XML icons visible – neither was mentioned. In fact, Arsenault’s quote was, “and lastly, Security Blogs – I’ll leave it at that. I hate the term blogs.” That was it. That was all he had to say about the benefits of weblogs related to security for the attendees. What a collosal lost opportunity. I hope Robert Scoble reads this and gives Bret a hard time when he is back in Redmond next week.

I would have loved to see Bret mention the syndication capabilities of RSS/XML on weblogs that allow people to follow developments, like security issues. I would have loved for him to mention that there were blogs being written by many of the teams at Microsoft that write the programs we all use every day. I would have liked for him to mention that many webloggers are among the most well informed on the Internet regarding any number of issues, including security issues relating to specific applications.

What this type of thing shows us in the community is that we have a LONG way to go in evangelizing the usefullness and applicability of weblogs, even to the IT industry.

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Overseas outsourcing vs. insourcing

Here is an interesting article over at the NY Times about whether or not it is always smart to outsource some high tech jobs to India or other countries. I have only ever been on the customer end of these transactions, so my experience is related to how it affects my perception of the company and the service I am getting rather than how it affects my job. My personal opinion is that companies have to do whatever they can to cut costs as long as it doesn’t jeopardize the satisfaction of their clients, and I have had a number of issues with the inflexibility that results from an outsourced support staff. The article discusses the need for outsourced work to be best handled through rules that are concrete and quantifiable, and I think too many organizations think tech support is one such job, while I would maintain that is the furthest thing from it.

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My second Sonicwall roadshow

First, I want to apologize for the lack of posting this month. This has been a very busy time for me, and I haven’t had a lot of time to keep the posts coming. I will try and pick it back up a little.

To that end, I attended my second Sonicwall roadshow in as many months today. It was held in Valley Forge, PA, and was presented by Greg Croce, the Sonicwall Territory Manager, and Tom Bulthaupt, the Territory SE and Eastern Region SE Manager. They provided an overview of the new Sonic OS 2.x enhanced firmware, which was primarily a rehash for me from the last roadshow, but I did get a couple of nuggets of information that were new.

The biggest piece of news is the impending release of the new SonicWall Pro 5060, a six-port gigabit ethernet solution that will come in two flavors (6 copper ports, or 4 copper and 2 fiber sx/sc ports). It looks like the box is going to retail for either $9,995 or $11,495 with 1 year of the new IPS deep packet inspection service included in the price. On the presentation slide for the 5060 was a little blurb mentioning a new product that is ultra hush-hush, the SonicPoint, which should probably be an integrated security/wireless roaming solution that will work with the Pro series of firewall appliances. We’ll have to watch closely for the announcement on these products when they are more readily publicized.

The other useful tidbit I got was the impending release of 2.5 firmware, which should be by the end of this quarter and will address a number of requests, including source-based routing in SonicOS enhanced for forcing certain IP addresses and/or protocols to use a specific WAN interface in a load balancing/failover configuration.

I continue to be impressed with the recent flurry of innovation out of the folks in Sunnyvale. Keep up the great work!

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Scoble has a new “aggregator” blog

Rober Scoble, famed blogger who is now working for Microsoft, is using a new tool from Kunal Das that allows posting directly to a MovableType weblog by copying an HTML-formatted email to a folder in Outlook. The tool is HUGE for the link-blogging world. It is especially great for those of us using NewsGator to follow syndicated feeds, since it correctly parses the NewsGator posts. My only request would be the removal of the NewsGator “Related” link and the inclusion of the link to the original post from the original source. Here is the link to Scoble’s aggregator blog.

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Gateway is closing all the cow stores

I found this one through the Wall Street Journal online edition – Gateway has decided to close all of its retail stores as it struggles to find its niche in today’s computer market. I owned one Gateway machine, and I have a few clients that own nothing but. My opinion of them has been that they change the components of their computer models too frequently, and one never knows exactly which parts are going to be there when you open the box. That perception, however, is just that – a perception.

What I do think about this is that Gateway is losing what might have been its only competitive advantage in that it had clearly marked service depot locations in most major metropolitan areas. If someone did not purchase on-site service from Dell or one of the other providers, then it can be difficult to find someone to actually service a hardware failure. With the closing of the retail outlets, which also served as drop-off service locations, their customers will have to purchase on-site service or seek out other options for hardware problems.

I also wonder how the lost service revenue will affect the company’s bottom line. This should be an interesting move, since other computer manufacturers have moved to increase their presence, as with the Apple stores and the Dell kiosks in malls and other high-traffic areas. Only time will tell if the little company from South Dakota can pull it out.

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Acme Markets offers online shopping to PA residents

I am not sure whether or not Acme is offering the online shopping experience in all their stores, but they are offering it in the Philadelphia area. The service costs $4.95 for in-store pickup and $9.95 for delivery. In-store pickup orders placed by 10 a.m. are ready after 5 p.m., and delivery orders can be scheduled for next day delivery if they are placed by midnight. I don’t know whether shopping online for groceries is going to be more convenient or not, but the site appears to be pretty well organized with a shop by aisle, product name (a-z) and a search feature. The advantage for pick-up will be that you can place your grocery order at work and pick it up on the way home without having to stand in line, since you pay with a credit card at the time you place the order.

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eWeek article: Linux vx. Windows – Which is more secure?

This article at eWeek is a great summary of a Forrester Research report that was published recently pitting Linux vs. Windows on a security front. Most interesting to me was the way the report’s author, Laura Koetzle, took a quantitative look at security rather than the more typical subjective response, “Of course LInux is more secure.” Forrester charges $899 for the full report, so the best most of us are going to do is to read the summary over at eWeek, but in case you want it, here is a link to the report at the Forrester site.

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