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August 2010

Prove That You Are Not Being Attacked at This Very Moment

By Brian


Today I am issuing a challenge to everyone who reads this, a challenge to prove me wrong.  Right now, as you read this, you are either being attacked, or a victim of theft, or unknowingly aiding and abetting in a crime, or being set up to fall victim to one or more of these events, or at best being spied upon. How do I know this?  Take my word for it, I do.  Thirteen years in I.T. experience and a Masters Degree in Cyber-Security better count for something, but if you don’t believe me then here is my challenge.  When you get done reading this article, download a free program called Malwarebytes, install it, and run a full scan on your computer. I will provide details on how to download and run this at the end of this article.  If it finds nothing then you have proved me wrong and you or someone is taking very good care of your computer.  But I suspect in most cases it is going to find files or programs on your system that are infected with untold numbers of malware and spyware that you never knew was there, how it got there, or what it is doing on your system.
You may be wondering why I am issuing this challenge.  Is it because I am such a caring individual that I want to make sure that your personal computer is safe from danger and potential threats?  No, I am issuing this challenge simply to illustrate to you a growing problem that not only involves you and me, but corporations of all sizes around the world, the Pentagon, The White House, governments in Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, Russia, and The Middle East.  If malware exist on your personal computer and is able to spy on your activities and extract data from your system, just imagine the type and amount of data that could be extracted from some of the largest corporations around the world.  Just image the type of data that could be extracted from computers and networks that run our government and military, from the CIA and the FBI.  Recently the number two man in charge at the Pentagon, United States Secretary of Defense, William J. Lynn III wrote an article describing the Pentagons strategy to defend our country from cyber-attacks and the extent to which the threat exists.  In this eye opening article, Lynn, who is only one official away from answering directly to the President, writes:
“Every day, U.S. military and civilian networks are probed thousands of times and scanned millions of times…Adversaries have acquired thousands of files from U.S. networks and from the networks of U.S. allies and industry partners…Cyber-threats to U.S. national security are not limited to military targets. Hackers and foreign governments are increasingly able to launch sophisticated intrusions into the networks that control critical civilian infrastructure. Computer-induced failures of U.S. power grids, transportation networks, or financial systems could cause massive physical damage and economic disruption."
Lynn goes on to say, “Earlier this year, Google disclosed that it had lost intellectual property as a result of a sophisticated operation perpetrated against its corporate infrastructure, an operation that also targeted dozens of other companies. Although the threat to intellectual property is less dramatic than the threat to critical national infrastructure, it may be the most significant cyber-threat that the United States will face over the long term. Every year, an amount of intellectual property many times larger than all the intellectual property contained in the Library of Congress is stolen from networks maintained by U.S. businesses, universities, and government agencies. As military strength ultimately depends on economic vitality, sustained intellectual property losses could erode both the United States' military effectiveness and its competitiveness in the global economy.”  In other words, we are at war, but this war is being fought in cyber-space.
So what does this have to do with you and me? Everything.  Some of those infected files that Malwarebytes will find on your computer could be used by foreign governments, cyber-terrorists and other hackers to launch attacks on government or corporate networks for the purpose of extracting data, or shutting down infrastructure.  If your computer is part of a company network, a rouge file or program could be hiding that could mine your company’s network for data that could be used against you, your company’s clients, or even our government.  Everyday millions of computers are infected simply by the act of going to a website that unknowingly contains malicious code, or from a flash drive that has infected files, or from “worms” that find their own way on to your computer with out you having to do anything at all except be connected.  You see, when governments such as China and North Korea as well as terrorist organizations, are actively training thousands of their citizens and members to be cyber spies and hackers, it is no longer a question of if we will be compromised, but when.  We are no longer on the sidelines watching the war happen on the news, we are on the front lines right in the middle of the gunfire and the fact is in this war we do not have the upper hand. We are chasing the enemy and as of now we are losing.
As Lynn states in the first paragraph of his article, “In 2008, the U.S. Department of Defense suffered a significant compromise of its classified military computer networks. It began when an infected flash drive was inserted into a U.S. military laptop at a base in the Middle East. The flash drive's malicious computer code, placed there by a foreign intelligence agency, uploaded itself onto a network run by the U.S. Central Command. That code spread undetected on both classified and unclassified systems, establishing what amounted to a digital beachhead, from which data could be transferred to servers under foreign control. It was a network administrator's worst fear: a rogue program operating silently, poised to deliver operational plans into the hands of an unknown adversary.”
Other attacks that we know of have included an attack of over 75,000 computer systems and 2500 companies around the world that began in 2008 and was only detected January 26th of this year.  According to the Washington Post it, “targeted proprietary corporate data, e-mails, credit-card transaction data and login credentials at companies in the health and technology industries in 196 countries.”  Also in 2008 the campaigns of both McCain and Obama were hacked into and mined for data that could predict their foreign policy decisions.  There are actually too many examples to list here and if you still question if this effects you, according to CBS news, “corporate America is losing critical data to overseas competitors, robbing the U.S. economy of up to $20 billion a year.” (Watch the video above for the full report from CBS.)
This is a threat that by most news organizations is simply swept under the rug but is as big of a threat as it gets.  This is a threat that involves the continued national security of our country as well as the continued economic growth of our nation, but unless it involves a company like Google that all of us use every day, or our own personal financial data that is contained on some online store or credit card companies data bases, it is seldom if ever talked about in the news. And if you think that your I.T. department is going to keep you safe, think again.  Believe me they have great intentions but quite frankly, the hackers are smarter and many of the hackers either work in your I.T. department or in third party companies that are contracted to work on your systems.  And just as I have challenged each and every one of you to scan your own systems for malware I also challenge each and every public organization and private company to have there own networks "penetration tested" by an outside company that will uncover the holes that exist in your systems. Because the truth is, no matter how secure you think your network is, there are holes and the bad guys will find them if you don't first. And when they do your data will be compromised long before you even knew they were there. So the question is, do you accept the challenge?


Click here to download Malwarebytes.   If your browser is set up to not allow files to download then you will get a long yellow bar across the top of the window. Click on this bar to OK the file download.  The file will be called "Mbam-Setup-1.46.exe".  After installing make sure to first run an update, then run a full scan on your system.  The entire scan will take about one hour.  Good luck.



Forty-Four Years of Always Being Right, Well Left Actually


Saturday was my birthday and I am forty-four years old.  I am usually told that I don’t look forty-four but instead somewhere in my mid thirties, whereas my wife, who actually is in her mid-thirties, is often mistaken for being in her mid twenties.  Maybe if she took worse care of herself and I took better care of myself people would think we are the same age.  I certainly don’t feel much older and I’d like to think I have grown wiser, but regardless, here are some things that I have learned in my thirty-five years on this planet.

  1. No matter what age someone guesses that you are, simply smile and say, “Yes, that’s exactly right,” unless they guess you are older in which case you simply smile, nod your head, and then spit in their food when they’re not looking.
  2. Never tell your kids any of the terrible things you did when you were their age because all they will hear is “Awesome! Dad got stoned! Now I can too!”
  3. If you do ever catch your kids smoking pot make sure to act very disappointed, apply the appropriate punishment, and confiscate whatever marijuana and paraphernalia you find. Then after they go to bed, make sure to open a window so they don’t smell you “disposing” of it.
  4. Premature ejaculation is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, but it is something to laugh at.
  5. Ninety percent of the people that you call Facebook Friends used to be called people you did not care enough to keep in touch with since high school.
  6. You don’t need to update your Facebook status every time your kid makes a crap on the potty, and stop poking me!
  7. Not every movie needs to be shot in 3D unless it’s animated, science fiction, or pornography.
  8. The best advice I ever got was from Steven Colbert, moments before going on stage to audition for The Second City.  He said to me, “Just be yourself.” I blew the audition.  Thanks a lot asshole.
  9. If you like high school reunions then you probably also liked high school.  Personally, everyone that I want to see from high school, I already do.
  10. In life there is right and there is wrong and I’m right, unless you ask my wife, then I’m wrong.
  11. Just because you voted for Barack Obama does not mean you are a champion of civil rights. It means either you finally realized what a dick George Bush was, or the thought of Sarah Palin becoming your next president scared the living crap out of you
  12. Before Tea Party protesters make their signs they need to learn that calling the President a fascist, socialist, communist is like saying Sarah Palin is smart, while also saying she is so stupid that if she got for a penny for her thoughts, you’d get change.  You see, you just can’t be both.
  13. If you voted for John McCain, it does not make you a racist, it just means you lost.  Yep, you lost…lost, lost, lost, lost, L – O – S – T, lost, as in looser, did not win.  Boo hoo for you, go have a tea party.
  14. Whether you voted for Barack Obama or not, if you really thought that in 18 months he was going to be able to turn around the job market, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, bring back manufacturing to this country, reform the greed of wall street, stop record foreclosures and bankruptcies, stop terrorism, and bring every last one of our troops home from the two costly wars that failed in capturing Osama Bin Laden and stopping al Qaeda, but succeeded in killing over 5000 of our troops, and injuring over 35,000 more, not to mention running our deficit up into the billions, all before Obama took office, then you either had unreal expectations, have been watching too much FOX News, or are dumber then Sarah Palin, and that’s pretty dumb.
  15. Global warming exists and if you don’t believe me check out this photo of Sarah Palin on the beach at the Muir Inlet, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, in Alaska, and the same beach in a photo from 1880.

    Alaskan glacier2


Yes, I have learned many things in my twenty-nine years on this planet, and I have decided that I have a lot more to learn.  You see, I may not know everything, but the things that I do know, I am completely right on.  Oh and one more thing, the other day Sarah Palin was seen talking into a mail box. The mailman asked her what she was doing and she told him, “Sending a voice mail.” What an idiot.



Gay Marriage, Strangled Chickens, And What They Have in Common.


"I think that gay marriage should be between a man and a woman." - Arnold Schwarzengger


Is being gay something that is learned or something that is inherent to a persons being? In other words is it nature, or nurture?  Is a person born gay, or are they taught to be gay?  This is the ongoing debate about homosexuality.  Thinking about it for a minute I am not sure what you could do to teach someone to be gay.  I mean no one ever taught me to be straight, I just am.  Oh sure I guess there would be some obvious things you could do like, making your kid listen to showtoons all of the time, although when I was a kid I loved going to see musicals, or encouraging your son to decorate the house, although I was excited to go help my mom pick out wall paper and a matching comforter for my bedroom, or I suppose you could dress up your son in girls clothing and put makeup on him and call him Briana, although my older sister used to do that to me to amuse her friends and tell my mom that she has a new sister, but even through all of that, as far as I can tell, I am completely straight. I am married to an absolutely wonderful, drop dead, knock-out, beautiful wife, I have two wonderful kids and although I feel secure and confident enough in my masculinity to admit that George Clooney is a very good looking man, I have no desire to sleep with him.  The closest I ever got to being gay was when I was in the show “Tony and Tina’s Wedding” for six months.  I understudied the role of the all too obviously gay videographer who if you played the part right made Richard Simmons look like a WWE wrestler.   I wore a purple suit with a cropped jacket with shoulder pads that looked like it was stolen from Prince’s closet.  I knew I had done the role justice when one night after the show an overly homophobic audience member, who I had earlier highly embarrassed at his dinner table came up to me just to make sure that I was straight and not really a member of the Kathy Griffin fan club.   Basically, if nurture was what made a person gay, then I would be a flaming homo by now.  But even so the debate over nature vs. nurture rages on.
The answer all depends on who you ask but regardless of the answer, many believe homosexuality is just wrong.  Many believe that it is a sin and that very simply it is against the teachings of the bible.  On that note, what else is against the teachings of the bible?  Well according to the Holy Scriptures these are just some of the hundreds of things that are considered “sins” in addition to homosexuality.

  1. Eating blood. - Ok, it’s gross, but a sin?
  2. Not spanking a disobedient child. - Yes, you read that right, NOT spanking.
  3. Filthy dreams.  - C’Mon, those are the best ones!
  4. Eating things strangled. - I call this one the Dahmer sin.
  5. Striking a man in the groin. – Fuck yea it’s a sin! But apparently it’s ok to do to a woman.
  6. Boasting. – Oh by the way, I just got my Masters Degree!
  7. Wives not submitting to their husbands. – Ok, now that one makes sense.
  8. Wearing clothes of the opposite sex. – Um, does this apply to silk?  Just wondering.
  9. Not honoring the President. – I did not make this up, I swear!  FOX News is SO screwed!
  10. Being Called Rabbi. – Oh that is SO hypocritical!
  11. Being Hypocritical – See “Being Called Rabbi”.
  12. Judging – Now THAT is Hypocritical, JESUS CHRIST!

Isn’t judging exactly what people are doing when they say that people of the same sex can not get married?  But I guess that sin is OK to do.  Isn’t the very act of creating Prop 8 in California a sin according to the teachings of Jesus Christ? But I guess that sin is OK. And isn’t the very act of voting for Prop 8 in California a sin in itself since the individual who votes is placing judgment on who does and who does not have a right to be married?  But again, I guess that sin is ok.  The fact is deciding who can and who can not get married in this country should not be decided by religion, by fear or by prejudice.  Prop 8 by its very nature is nothing but pure discrimination against a group of people, in a country that separates the laws of church and state. As Judge Walker wrote in his decision to overturn Prop 8 this week:
“Proposition 8 singles out gays and lesbians and legitimates their unequal treatment… Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples… Proposition 8 played on the fear that exposure to homosexuality would turn children into homosexuals and that parents should dread having children who are not heterosexual.”
The fact is, there is no law saying that men can’t wear women's clothing, or wives must submit to there husband.  There are no laws saying that you must honor or respect the President, or that you can’t eat a strangled chicken.  It is not against the law to be called a Rabbi, and it is perfectly legal for you and I to have any type of dream that we want to have no matter how dirty it may be.  Yet for some reason this one particular “sin”, same-sex marriage, is singled out by those who claim it to be immoral.  Yet many of those same people have no problem spending an evening watching naked women pole dance while they stuff dollar bills in there g-strings, as they drink liquor, smoke cigarettes, and swear.  Many of those people cheat on their spouses, gamble in Vegas, steal pens from their work place and cheat on their taxes.  I guess those sins are ok to do, but g-d forbid two individuals of the same sex, who love each other, and want to spend the rest of their lives together, and maybe even share that love with children, should have the legal right to do so, because that of course would be wrong, that would be immoral, that would be sinful. Actually, to forbid that would be hypocritical.