April 24, 2006

Microsoft password checker - misinformation

The blog entry at http://isc.sans.org/diary.php?storyid=1285 has some bad information that needs to be corrected regarding Microsoft's recently published password strength checker.

In this blog post, the autor states:
GOOD it's a java applet that appears to run locally so your password is never sent over the internet

This is clearly NOT a Java applet if you take a cursory peek the HTML source! The password input button named 'pc001' has an event handler named 'onKeyUp' which calls a JavaScript method named EvalPwdStrength. This method is downloaded from here.

I notified SANS of the misinformation and requested a correction be published. I guess this is a good reminder that you can't believe everything you read on the internet; even from a popular site such as SANS (including my blog too!) :)

I agree with the SANS author's assertion that typing your passwords into a web page, no matter where it's hosted, is a bad idea. Just follow the guidelines and you'll have strong passwords.

If you have trouble remembering lots of strong passwords, try using a password manager program such as:


April 20, 2006

The lamest phishing attempt I've seen yet

I recieved an email today that apparently was some kind of phishing attempt. Yes, the "=20" were acutally part of the message.... :)

Dear Customer,

Your current login & password = combination are=20 out of date.
To renew please click Reply and get back to us with the=20 following information:
Your Name, Account Number, Login and=20 Password.

National City=20 Support


April 19, 2006

banner ads are getting very specific

Maybe someday it will be specific enough to say:

"Meet single female baseball fans, with runners in scoring postition, a lefty on the mound, and during day games". crazy...


Spielberg to design 2008 Olympic ceremonies

oh great, maybe he will add drama and pageantry like "E.T. Win Gooooolllllllllddddd"


April 17, 2006

Some nice "running as non-admin" links

I was having trouble editing the power settings on my work laptop (running as non Administrator, non Power User).

So, firing up my trusy browser and favorite search engine resulted in a lot of nice links that I wanted to share.

Managing Power Options as a non-administrator

Temporary admin for your limited user account

Changing the system date, time and/or time zone (I feel less strongly about this one, but posted in case it was helpful)

and of course the granddaddy of posts:
Item 9: How to develop code as a non admin

Doing this requires some learning and some dicipline. There is a registry hack if you want to get Flash to work properly (i'll post that link sometime when i find it again).


Edit 4/18/2006 12:56pm:

oops, forgot another granddaddy: Mr. Howard's Non-admin best practices in Windows XP

apologies to Mr. Howard :)

April 15, 2006

Paypal Phishing Phake toolbar

yes, i know Phake is not a word. :)

Seriously, I see the phishing artists are hard at work with new ideas to trick people.

Tonight I received an email in my Junk Mail from "PayPal" which was clearly a phake. This is not new, we've all received emails like this.

I always like to open the phake link to see how accurate it looks compared to the real site. The interesting thing to note about this phishing site is they hid the real address bar and put in a simulated address bar textbox (the dropdown even sort of works on it).

In the picture below, the toolbar on the top with the address "http://0xd35bda31" is the 'real' toolbar (I right clicked and re-displayed the toolbar) and the toolbar with the "https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_login-run" is the phake toolbar.

Is having a removable toolbar in IE really worth it? (I don't have FireFox installed, so I can't test it to see what it does on there. Maybe one of my loyal readers could do that and comment?). Web sites have long been able to hide/show the address and menu bars. Should my browser really allow some random website to voliate my boundries like this? One way to remedy this would be for browsers to create an option to override the ability for script to hide/show menu and address bars.

These types of phishing pages will only get more sophisticated and confusing. Please IE/FireFox, help protect users from this type of deception!

Here is the phake phishing link (PLEASE DON'T GIVE THEM ANY USEFUL INFO!)

Here is the screenshot of the browser with the phake toolbar:

I hope phishing is not good!


April 14, 2006

A new kind of pop-up (meta-popup?)

I was poking around Monster.com tonight and ran across the link to post jobs on.

Of course, there is a popup which my trusty Google toolbar popup blocker stops, but then I get this window...

Yeah, like I'm planning on 'unblocking' popup windows...no matter how nicely they ask!


April 07, 2006

April 04, 2006

Improving credential collection, one site at a time

I recently opened a savings account at ING Direct. I was impressed with the login screen.

The first time I hit the page, it asked for:

  • Customer number

  • First 5 digits of my mailing zip code

  • And my pin, transcribed visually into letters (see the picture, it is worth 1000 words!)

The second time I hit the page (F5 - refresh), it asked for:

  • Customer number

  • 4 year digit of my birth date

  • And my pin, transcribed visually into letters, but using a different set of letters corresponding to each number (again, see the picture!)

After a few more refreshes, it asked for:

  • First 4 digits of SSN

  • Last 4 digits of SSN

  • First 3 digits of SSN

  • Last 3 digits of SSN

True, if you know my customer number, birthday and SSN i'm still pretty much out of luck, but at least the pin transposition along with the different credentials combinations could help slow down an automated attack vector!

All that plus a better rate on my savings account! :)


2 year old Identity theft

Apparently even innocent children are victims of identity theft per this MSNBC article.

It’s a practice that often victimizes innocent people, like 2-year-old Tyler Lybbert of Draper, Utah. She doesn't understand that she's got some serious credit problems.

"She's basically got two loans out on her Social Security number and, I believe, a credit card out," says Tyler’s mother, Camber Lybbert. "She's got $15,000 in debt."

This article goes on to discuss illegal immigration, but to me ID theft is a separate issue. True, illegal immigrants are going to want to obtain false identities, but there are thieves who are legal US citizens and there are thieves from other countries who don't even have to set foot in the US to steal someone's identity.

I wish there was an easy answer to this, but there isn't (or it would have already been fixed). The best countermeasure right now is vigilance I guess. :(


April 02, 2006

Straight and long

The golf season in MN is FINALLY here. I played my first round of the year Sat (no, not an April fools joke) at Valley View Golf Course in Belle Plaine. It was 51 degrees, cloudy and little wind, so playing conditions were very nice for April!

My first teeshot was, in fact, straight and long. My faithful blog readers know which club I hit it with, and I still love that driver!

I shot in the mid 80's which didn't dissapoint me; first round of the year typically doesn't come w/ many lofty expectations! I'm more pleased with "NO THREE PUTTS" for the round!

One of my playing companions hit a ball from the teebox into a garbage can on a different teebox, which I've never seen before! I skipped my teeshot across the ice on the 18th hole onto the fairway! Try that in Florida, baby!

The season is here. I believe the official scoring season sanctioned by the MGA is 4/15 so this was a 'free' round for my handicap.

I have no intention of blogging about each round, but figured the 1st one was noteworthy!