Does Anti-Virus make a difference?

Like so many of us in the profession, I was asked to look at friend’s computer. Nothing specific was wrong; she had just moved out of an “Friend/Ex-Friend’s” house. She was worried that they might have done something to her machine. So I started looking at it. Nothing looked really out of place. The owner would never install anything (including updates or e-mail links). So after updating everything, I started to scan for viruses and malware. That’s when I noticed that there was no anti-virus software. I thought that was odd because there was the update program. I asked if she had uninstalled it and she said, “no.” It then hit me:  the “evil plan” was to remove her anti-virus and trouble would soon follow.  Fortunately, her “safe-surfing” habits of never opening or installing programs had saved her! Even after 3 months of surfing, she still had a clean machine. I guess this is pretty good evidence that “Safe-Surfing” and a little luck can keep you safe.


A friend sent me this about E-mail Security

The true state of security :)

The true state of security 🙂

So a friend sent this to me awhile ago. I figured it would be great for the New Year

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.

A non-deceptive SE event

Ok, So listening to the latest Social Engineer Podcast  I realized I needed/forgot to write in about a non-deceptive SE event.

 I had won some license plate holders at Ohio Linuxfest a many years ago. So I went to put them on and the screw broke. I went to a local dealer asked if they could put them on. They, like all good dealers said “Sure! $30 each plate.” $60 total is a lot so I started thinking. I ask the manger if he was really going to charge me $60 to remove the advertizing of a competitor? His answer was “Would you like a car wash with this complimentary service?”

The data they collected is at

Your phone been stolen lately?

So my friend works at a school. She was helping a student at her desk for about 15 minutes when the phone rang. She asked the student to hang on while she grabbed the phone. After a quick question she turned around to help the student again but, he was gone. A few minutes later she realized her phone was missing. So after trying to call it and checking the car again she had it turned off. So now that her 3+ year old phone was gone she went to get a new one. She got a Blackberry Curve. So jump forward in time to the next phone bill. She noticed some odd charges on the bill. Thirteen (13) V-Cast charges for music downloads. So she called up Verizon to ask about the charges. They said “The downloads where Hip-Hop, JZ.” Not my friends normal music and not sure if she knew how to download music to that phone. They removed the charges and apologized for the inconvenience.

In under an hour someone was able to steal thirteen (13) songs. Talk about a new reason to steal a phone. So talking to another friend about this he said that one of his Co-Workers had their phone stolen and didn’t cancel the service for about day and they downloaded over two hundred (200+) songs. It will be interesting to see if this was a onetime thing or the start of a trend. I haven’t heard mainstream media talk about it yet…

TSA swap’s laptop

So the other day a friend of a friend brought my friend Bob at Laptop and a great story. He was on his way home to Cleveland from out of the country. TSA did the standard search and seizure of all his belongings and he moved along. A little while later he went to log into his laptop and notice it wasn’t his. He had a non qwerty keyboard on his and this was a qwerty system. So he went to TSA and they were not much help. In fact they wanted him to give them the laptop. He said “NO” and kept the laptop. He wanted to have something to trade with the guy who had his laptop. TSA claimed to remember checking a guy with the name that was the same as the login name but, they couldn’t help him. The airlines were not much help either. So for about 3 days he kept calling the TSA and no respond.

So he brought the laptop to Bob. Bob called the computer manufacturer and explained the issue. Then he escalated the issue to a supervisor. The supervisor said sorry no subpoena no info. He did suggest Bob talk to the corporate offices and gave him the phone number. So Bob called. They were not much help either. So when they transferred him to the product registration group the time had come to stop playing games. Or was time to start? “Hi, This is Bob. I’d like to check that my co-worker has registered his laptop correctly.” So Bob quickly learned that the machine hadn’t been registered.  So they wanted a subpoena to say they had no info. Got to love it.

A few hours later the friend finally received a call from the TSA. They said “Sorry we haven’t heard anything yet. If you can Hack into the machine and get any info go for it.”  So Bob did. The ophcrack disks didn’t work(Laptop Froze.) So he went old school and ran an Ubuntu liveCD. Mounted the local drive and was in.

Then the fun of finding the owner started. Bob noticed a resume, resignation file and a job description. So the assumption is that maybe it’s a manager and an employee is leaving. Bob also noticed the pictures and movies on the drive didn’t feel like a typical set of guy pictures. He went back and looked at the resume again and then it all made sense. The resume was for a lady. Her e-mail address that was on the resume was very similar to the login ID of the laptop. Bob found the owner.

The laptops got swapped back to the correct owners and everyone is happy except for the TSA.

If passwords are like underwear, Shutdowns are like flushing.

Shutdown got stuck!

The other day I noticed the machine above. It’s in the middle of shutting down. It had been sitting there for a few hours. Out of curiosity I started to see what I could do. I wasn’t able to start jobs/programs because I was in the middle of a shutdown. I was able to view folders and pictures. That gave me some of the inspiration needed to create the following poster. (Links to the PDF in the downloads section above.)


New way to store Passwords.

Just learned of a new password storage device. Sharpie on the laptop wrist rest. Get a new laptop when you run out of printable space?

Just learned of a new password storage device. Sharpie on the laptop wrist rest. Get a new laptop when you run out of printable space? The owner of the laptop noticed the look on my face and asked if “I wanted a picture?” So the deal was the blurring of the passwords.

CSO Explains Security

A group of people from Company X where having a meeting about security and most of the people didn’t understand why they needed to change the way things were being done. So the CSO asked everyone to “Please put your wallets and purses on the table.” Then he proceeded to explain how he didn’t like the room and felt that the group should move to different room. He asked that everyone leave their wallets and purses on the table while they were gone. Everyone objected to this because the wallets and purses are very personal.

The question that was then asked is “How is this different than confidential materials of the Company?”