Coping: Copyright Thieves and Browser Hijacks

imageOh, no.  Not again.

Why, hell, I can almost hear reader Bruce down in Vilacabamba, Ecuador reaching for his keyboard and laughing.

No doubt, he will send something to this effect:  ‘George, you stupid P.o.S.  – How many times do I need to tell you:  Buy a Mac and leave the world of Windows hacks behind…’

And he might be justified for writing so because we got hit (again) this weekend.  If Monday’s column sounded a bit ethereal, it may have been because it took a day to shake off the four-letter word strings that have been ready to drip out of every pore…

On the other hand, Bruce might have missed my note on the $160 Windows 10 convertible notebook.  That’s my iRULU Walknbook 10.1 Inch Tablet PC, 32GB Hybrid Laptop, 2-In-1 Tablet, Microsoft Windows 10 OS, Quad Core,1280*800 Resolution, Detachable Keyboard With Stand (Grey).

I don’t know if you have priced Apple products lately, but unless you want a 1998 computer, they don’t have anything remotely at my price point: cheap.

And, besides, outfits like do an OK job of catching stuff – and with Windows Defender (deep-ender), as long as you don’t mind losing a couple of hours of work while the system scan slows the computer to a snails pace, it’s just one of the things that goes with computing.

I did look at Apple products before I bought the Win 10 machine, and while I can afford anything, a $500 bill for a well-kitted out Retina display iPad was just not making sense to me.  Could be a function of aging.  Number 67 comes around next month.

Even if I had been willing to pop the $480 for a Apple iPad with Retina Display MD510LL/A (16GB, Wi-Fi, Black) 4th Generation that would not have gotten me a wireless keyboard.  I have no idea what an “official” Mac wireless keyboard would run, but the cheapie for the Win 10 box was $29 bucks.

The capper for me, though, was rereading the stories about how much CASH Apple has parked offshore

To be fair, a good bit of that is the US (corrupt) Congress’s fault for keeping corporate taxes so high, but since Apple’s fattest market is here in the USA, it would be nice if they stashed their dough in the U.S. where their taxes could help pay for more Syrian military-aged men coming to hate us and not assimilate.  You and I don’t have an “opt-out” on that, so why should Apple?

(slowly, I warm to this morning’s point)

What got me started on the anti-virus discussion was when I looked to see if anyone was ripping off my novel DreamOver yet.  Well, sure as (pardon this) shit, it’s out there on .PDF’s but on at least two of the download rip-off sites, there’s a hijack page.

Interesting part about this is revealed a security flaw in Win 10 #Edge# browser functionality.

Here’s what happened:

I went to the rip-off site. 

As I was there, a fake BSOD popped up and over it was a “Your computer has a virus and call this slime-line 800 number to pay money.

Well, pappy didn’t raise no fool, at least on some of this stuff.  So I killed the browser and tried to re-start it and close the tab.

This is where that age thing worked against me.  It didn’t work.

In fact, on this particular browser hijack, if you’re not smart enough to kill the session and get to an uninfected computer, there’s no way to get back on the Internet again.  Unless you already have a copy of Firefox installed.  Which every sane computer user does.

What you have to do (turns out after a lot of research and several failed attempts) was to log into the c:/windows/system32/user file and drill down to Favorites and kill everything there.

Finally, I was able to get back into the MS Edge browser.  (They left the “cutting” off it, with good reason…)

But since I’d been to a rotten MF’ers site, I also got hit with the current variant of PUA/PUP OpenCandy.gem.

A PUA is a potentially unwanted application and a PUP is a potentially unwanted program

So while that was being repaired, and the system rescanned, off I went to other computers on this network and one of them had it too…which makes me think it was an emailed thing, but regardless of the source, I wanted to pass on to you a periodic reminder that…

A.  If you have not updated your antivirus in a while, take the time to do it.

B.  I like to keep passwords in a special text file so when I need them (they are long and impossible to remember), I just CTRL +c to copy them.  The CTRFL +v to paste.

And if a keystroke logger wants to send CTRL+c keystrokes to someone in Ukraine, they can do that all day long, so far as I’m concerned.  I haven’t seen a key logger yet that sends clipboard contents.  (My have to ask Pedro the American about that, however.  He’s an IT super-star.

C.  Always have (and use) Firefox for a browser if something is mission critical.  I happen to run both browsers but that’s me. Belt and suspenders, that’s me.

While Bruce is no doubt now rolling on the floor, doubled up with George’s latest Windows whine,  I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Thunderstrike 2 is a Mac virus than can wreck things.  And there’s a bunch of others.

And if you’re an Android user, laughing at all of the above, the DroidDream rootkit has been found in some 50 applications now.

And just to make sure you see how serious and widespread this “online terrorism” is, remember that Java which is run on about everything these days has a bunch of viruses of its own including Ransom32, at least so it says over here..

A couple of reasons for mentioning this to you this morning.  first, don’t buy my book from free download sites.  Go to Amazon.  You put your computer at risk.

The way I look at it, people who rip off torrents of novels, .mp3’s, and videos are just as guilty of online terrorism as the people who code hacks.

Secondly, set your antivirus program up to scan everything on your computer, not just a heuristic scan,.  Do it all.  It takes more time but reduces risk further.

And you can find a lot of ways to speed up your computer.  I am big on CCleaner, MalwareBytes, Wise Registry Cleaner, turning off all live content tiles in Win 10 and turning off idiotic level sharing of hotspots and so on.  Why sharing information about where I am with social friends would be a “feature” is between God and someone at MSFT.  Not that it matters: I don’t have any social friends.  Or anti-socials, either, come to think on it.

Smart computing is a bunch of work.  And yes, we have our own cloud storage and that’s even more work.

But you know, I’m sort of coming to view a well organized, highly secured computer not as a symptom of a sick mind, but as the necessary combat armament to work in today’s battlefield that the net is quickly becoming.

And it’s going to get worse, that much I can assure you.  The predictions I made in Broken Web about internet licensing?  Early, but not wrong.  Watch, wait,  and while you’re at it, update your damn antivirus.

Houston:  “Worse than 1984”

imageI don’t suppose you have figured out the sequence going on here, but Houston (and the Woodlands along the freeway north of there) is dying. 

Look at the rig count data from Baker-Hughes (from their investor relations site) and you can connect the dots without help.  Rig counts have collapsed and we will under-drill, then have a price spike, and then send kids off to do men’s work.

The men will have wandered off says “Screw this…”  Can’t say as I blame ‘em.  Oil was trying to bounce of $30 this morning on the futures market.

Had a short heart-to-heart with Oilman2 yesterday.

Now, here’s a guy who has been the onsite drilling engineer, onshore rigs and off, who has designed and machined drill bits for about every country in the world (Afghanistan, Columbia, Ecuador, and China recently).  He owns a small, highly-specialized company that will custom-design drill  bits for whatever your strata.  A genuine oil patch holey-man, so’s to speak.

But Globally, things are unwinding.  Bit orders are drying up.  Worse than ‘84.

There are several things to infer from this.

One is that the Saudis will be in a heap of social trouble as their “royal welfare system” is in trouble and things are going to get worse.

For them to keep internal dissent down, they need an enemy.  That will be Iran.  So look for the M.E. to light up more.

The other thing this is doing is driving down home prices in Houston.

Look, they have a pro football team, basketball, hell…who knows what.  I can’t buy a good steak in Palestine, TX to save my soul.  But Houston?  Come on, now.  And the life-blood of the place will come back, prices will come up, but not until energy prices have bottomed.

This has the unpleasant possibility of Houston replaying Seattle’s 1973 Boeing collapse (“Will the last person leaving Seattle turn off the lights?”).

But honestly, Houston north is a city that may sneak onto our places to consider retiring for the really old part of life.  To be sure, the best elevations down that way are on the order of 100 feet, so an offshore tsunami in the Caribbean and you could be screwed.  But even the Port Royal quake in Jamaica during pirate times didn’t roll up the beaches.  And hurricanes, while they do happen, are survivable if you pay enough insurance ransom.

Ultimately,  when we’re so old that we can’t run the farm up here, what would be wrong with moving to Houston?  As the incoming tsunami appears, Elaine looks at me as says “Is this when your talk about  trying your hand at surfing as the last thing on your bucket list happens?”

When oil hits the 20’s, the odds of full-on collapse of hyper complexity rises significantly.

The question is:  Will it be firewalled in the Dakotas and Texas?

That has left Oilman2 with time to contemplate the other major issues of Life, however.  One of which is something he calls Hyper-Obsolescence and you can read about that over here.

But if you need one hell of a hand-carved custom fireplace mantel, I know just the guy for the job.

Note to Lim Rushbaugh

Please!  No more talk about football!  Jeez….I listen for the occasional political insight, not for a rehash of who’s holding the league record for player arrests or incarceration…

As of August, it looks like Minnesota.  Fine role models for the kids, right?

Fortunately, since I was listening on our Amazon Echo I was able to say:

“Alexa, stop.”

“Alexa: Tell me a joke.”

Why did the football coach shake the vending machine?    Because he wanted a QUARTERBACK!”

Damn machines really are out to get me this week.

Write when you break-even,


12 thoughts on “Coping: Copyright Thieves and Browser Hijacks”

  1. George yes you should know better than use Edge. No plugins or add-ons. You know things like add block, ghostery or no script. Anyway better luck in the future. :)

  2. You are way smarter than me, but I must give one word of advice
    oops that,s two
    There is a steep learning curve but you will never have those problems again

  3. Hi George,

    Antivirus has its place, but a really strong firewall trumps it every time. A firewall operates to keep the crap out and especially, to prevent it from phoning home.

    When going to dicey sites, a separate computer, possibly with no hard drive and only a live DVD OS such as so many versions of Linux is in order. The memory can be screwed with, but nothing can be stored. When you actually do find something safe to store, you can put it on a flash drive or DVD. Then you can scan again on another computer without loading or executing anything.

    Browser hijacks are disgusting – and especially the ones that happen in public spaces such as libraries or McD’s. I often crash a browser deliberately to keep it’s state intact to reload the next time I open it, but the hijack kills the state. This is primarily with Firefox derivatives. Always keep 1/2 dozen different browsers on the machine so you can open one who’s state does not matter.

    BTW, as you know, I bought DreamOver through Amazon and love it. Single column .PDF is an easier format to read though…..

  4. About getting hit online, I noticed this weekend that any bank/financial or insurance sites were slow or screwy. I almost felt bad about it. Almost.

  5. FYI your Houston related comments:
    A local heat exchanger company has closed its doors, a specialty coatings outfit (oil related)as well, and oil related pump co. is laying off too. These are old established companies, out in the boonies of NE OK. So, I assume its everywhere.

  6. My take on it as a retired IT guy is that Windows is cheaper only if your time has no value. You either pay up front, or you get nickled and dimed to death during the life of the computer. Studies have already been done that shows 3 year cost of ownership for a company using Apple is less than that of Windows. Last I heard it it took one tech for every 27 or so Windows boxes in a company. That is where you get caught in the middle George, you don’t experience the economies of scale with your multiple boxes around the house.

    And as for Apple malware, they pay people to write that stuff. I follow several Mac sites, and in 20 years I have never seen a single person comment that they actually had malware.

    And apple now derives about 64% of its revenue from overseas sources, and that percentage goes up about 2% per year. Apple estimates that it has only penetrated the Chinese market about 20% of its potential. And they just cut the price of iPhones in India to kickstart that market.

    You see, Apple has no concern for stock prices or market share or anything said by the pundits. Their single goal is to provide users with absolutely the best user experience possible, and once you use an apple product, you make a decision that you deserve to have that as a part of your life instead of struggling with cheap crap.

    And as for moving to Houston, oilfield layoffs are just starting. Houston may become the next Detroit and by that I mean genuine second world. You do know that Iran produces a barrel of oil for $1.50 or less. They have 100 million barrels sitting in tankers because of the sanctions, and they are willing to take this to the mat to destroy the Saudis.

    And Houston boomed just over 30 years ago, which is the point where infrastructure maintenance becomes critical. At least cheap oil will keep the a/c utility bills under a grand a month.

    Best flood story I ever heard came from Houston. One of my MD sister’s nurses said some sound woke her. She dropped her hand off the side of the bed and the water level was 2 inches below the top of the bed.

  7. Three years ago when my husband, a PR writer, began working from home about 80 percent of the time, I bought him a Telekin computer. It’s designed for old people, so it’s pretty simple. But its golden recommendation is. . .it’s LINUX. (If he needs more sophisticated capabilities, he can use our Windows 7 computer in another room.)

  8. George ignore the ‘Mac Fan Club’ who are chastising you for your purchase. Some of us poor saps don’t feel the need to purchase ‘glam tools’ for our work and after cleaning out several Mac machines for my formally smug friends they too no longer buy into the hype of Mac’s perceived invulnerability. As you know and preach, an antivirus program and common sense go a long way. When I troll the web, I don’t use a mission critical machine as I too have had ‘gotchas’ happen from time to time, no matter the OS including Mac and Linux. Web-work is like Russian Roulette data style.

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