All posts by Clif Sipe

Promoting Freeware and Free information since 2004. Owner of FreewareWiki.com with over 2000 pages of freebies. Please subscribe to my Google Feed or follow me on Twitter @clifnotes.

Google Says: Happy Birthday Jules Verne!

Today when I fired up Google for my first search, I was greeted with this cool looking interactive Google Doodle. You can see a video of the Verne doodle in action here.

verne-doodle

Naturally, I was curious and after clicking on the doodle, I found out that it’s the 183rd birthday of Jules Verne. As most of you know, Verne is a famous French science fiction writer who died in 1905, at the age of 77.

Verne’s stories are so entertaining, that he’s listed as the third most translated individual author in the world. Even though some the gizmos in his books were unbelievable, many of them later became fact instead of fiction. Here’s a list of 8 Jules Verne inventions that came true. (courtesy of National Geographic)

  1. Electric Submarines
  2. Newscasts
  3. Solar Sails
  4. Lunar Modules
  5. Skywriting
  6. Videoconferencing
  7. Taser
  8. Splashdown Spaceship

Here are a few of the books that he has written. I bet you’ll recognize at least one.

The Mysterious Island

A Journey to the Center of the Earth

Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas

From the Earth to the Moon, and a Trip Around It

Around the World in Eighty Days

The Lighthouse at the End of the World

I’ve read one or two of his books, but I think most of you are probably more familiar with the dozens of movies that have been made, based on his novels.

Here’s a trailer for one of the most famous movies.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954) Trailer

You can find many of Verne’s books online (for free!) at Project Gutenberg. You can also watch several clips from movies based on Verne’s novels, at Youtube.


10 New Screensavers for Your Valentine

[Windows Only]

Valentine’s day is only a week away, and a new sweet screensaver might make your favorite geek, a grateful geek.   You’ll find plenty of free screensavers and wallpapers on the net, but you have to be careful to visit only safe websites when you are looking for them.

As many of you have learned by now, not all free screensavers are created equal. Many times, free means that you have to install stupid toolbars, adware and other unwanted junk along with the screensaver. That’s not true of the ones at NewFreeScreensavers.

The latest 10 screensavers now brings the total to 35 Valentine themes on the download page.

valentine-10

One of the nice features of these screensavers is that they now have settings to mute the sounds. Some of the screensavers also have a setting to include a small analog clock on the screen.

arrow-down-double-3 Valentine Screensaver Download Page

Windows 7 themes?

valentine-win7-themeIf you have Windows 7, be sure to check out the Valentine theme from Microsoft. If you don’t have Windows 7, you can still snag the wallpapers by using this trick.

Techie Buzz Verdict:

I’ve downloaded and installed several of the screensavers at this site and never had a problem with any of them. These screensavers are safe, totally free, and there are dozens more to check out once you visit.

Techie Buzz Rating: 3/5 (Good)

Ready for the Next Big Computer Explosion?

please-waitHow would you like your PC to turn on and off instantly? If you are familiar with MS Windows, you could call this instant hibernation. There would be no Shutdownsequence to wait on. When you turn it back on, your PC will be exactly as you left it. There would be no boot time, and no need to restart applications.

Instant on-off has been sort of a Holy Grail for years. It can be done now, but it requires the use of SSDs (Solid State Drives based on flash memory). SSDs are about 40 times more expensive than regular hard disks, and fail much faster. In other words, instant on-off is not for the average consumer yet.

That could change completely by 2020, and it’s looking like SSDs will end up on the scrap heap of history.

The Memristor memory and logic

In 1971, an electronics guru, Dr. Leon Chua, theorized that we were missing a passive circuit element. All electronic devices today are based on the properties of three electronic elements,   the resistor, capacitor, and inductor.

the-missing-electronic-element

Dr. Chua mathematically invented the Memristor. It’s unique properties allow it to remember the last current that flowed through it. In other words, it’s perfect for making memory devices.

the-4th-electronic-element

It took 37 years for someone to finally discover the right combination of materials that duplicated the function of a memristor. In 2008, HP Labs announced the development of memristor devices.

HP also hopes to offer memristor devices with storage densities of about 20 gigabytes per square centimeter in 2013. A few years later, they predict that we’ll have a petabit (125 terabytes) of non-volatile memory in a square centimeter. Some experimental results show that the devices can switch in nano-seconds and last a very long time, unlike current flash or hard disks.

Memory isn’t the only function that memristors could replace. Since memristors can remember the linear charge that passes through them, they can do far more than store information as simple zeros or ones, like today’s digital circuits. These   electronic components can work like the neurons in our brains.

Once the bugs get worked out, will intelligent machines be far off? R.S. Williams at HP, is already working on designs for a centimeter sized chip that would have as many simulated neurons as a cat’s brain has. It sounds like we can expect the technological Singularity to arrive sooner than some expected.

Are You Too Stupid to Cross a Street While on the Phone?

no-cell-phoneAccording to Carl Kruger, a state senator from Brooklyn, New York, you are too stupid to cross a street while talking on a cell phone. Therefore, Carl wants to save New York pedestrians by passing a law making it illegal to use an electronic device while crossing a street on foot. Some are calling it the iPod Bill.

deer-crossing-signA recent report released by the Governors Highway Safety Association, blames a 0.4% increase in pedestrian fatalities on electronic distractions, such as mobile phones and iPods, even though the causes haven’t been proven. Maybe there are actually more people on foot because of the 8.2% New York unemployment rates? Maybe people are walking more to avoid the higher gas prices?

Like many bright politicians, Senator Kruger keeps an eye out for any potential problems that might kill any future voters. He was quoted by the New York Times as saying “We’re taught from knee-high to look in both directions, wait, listen and then cross. You can perform none of those functions if you are engaged in some kind of wired activity.

kruger-ny-state-senatorDid we elect officials like Kruger to protect us from common every day activities, instead of doing things like balancing the state budget? It’s possible that the Senator believes that the $100 fines collected from violators of this new law might offset the current $64.8 billion dollar New York state debt.

policemanThese fines might provide the money needed to hire more police. The additional police could patrol the crosswalks so that they can collect even more fees. The average New York municipal policeman’s salary is about $60, 000. The cop would only have to bust about 600 people a year to break even. That sounds reasonable, right?

If this law is passed and deemed successful, maybe we’ll start seeing even better laws. Should senators chew gum while walking?

Do You Want Big Brother Spying on You?

Back in 2006, the   U.S. Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, under the Bush Administration, called for new rules that would require ISPs and cell phone companies to collect more data (spy) on all of their users. It’s called Mandatory Data Retention. At the time, there was enough opposition to this idea that it never got far.

Recently, the  House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security held a hearing to promote this controversial idea once more. Several members of congress have already proposed legislation on data retention, and support for it is coming from both Democrats and Republicans. The Obama administration’s Department of Justice is also expected to support forced data retention.

Currently, ISPs and phone services already keep transaction records for 90 days, in accordance with the 1996 Electronic Communication Transactional Records Act. After 90 days, the records are deleted, and some law enforcement agencies would like to see these records kept much longer.

Big-Brother-is-Watching-YouSince it’s obvious to many that this is another case of Big Brother is watching, how can these politicians justify their call for more intrusion into business’s and customer’s internet and phone traffic?

Most of this call to action is the result of law enforcement and defense agencies wanting longer retention periods, and politicians that want to look like they are tough on internet crime, such as child pornography. However, privacy advocates such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT), see it as having bad unintended consequences for user privacy, First Amendment anonymous speech, and ballooning costs for retaining the information.

In my opinion, new laws requiring data retention are going to cause more problems than they solve.

Law enforcement agencies can already ask internet and telecom providers to collect extensive information on suspects. Collecting more data will help law enforcement and Homeland Security catch criminals and terrorists, but these new laws will treat all of us like suspects.

The collected information will seriously clamp down on anonymous speech and whistle blowing. Do you trust the government to stop itself from trying to track down sources of leaked information or people who voice strong anti-government or opposition party speech?

Government and law enforcement won’t be the only ones able to access this data. How many websites are hacked every day? How many government agencies have data stolen from them? We’ve already seen what’s happened with WikiLeaks and government employees who get fooled into giving out information.

It will also make simple visits to legal sites more ominous. Would you want everyone to know you’d visited a site about STDs, mental health, bankruptcy, adult entertainment, or any other normally private topic.

Civil courts will be able to get access to this information. It could be used in divorce cases, to prove infidelity. It could be used in law suits to prove prior knowledge or associations.

The internet and telecom providers can handle the additional open-ended costs of mandatory data retention, since those costs will be transferred to the consumers. It will be the same as a new hidden tax. Smaller businesses, and start-ups may not be able to bear the added costs, thus reducing innovation, and killing competition with the big internet companies.

In summary, new data retention laws would be good for big government, law enforcement and big business. They would be bad for the average joe consumer, free speech and free association. If you don’t agree (or you hate freedom), you have the freedom to comment below.

Spybot Portable – a Great Way to Search and Destroy Spyware

spybot-sd-icoBack in 2000, a software engineer, Patrick Kolla, created the basis of a tool for dealing with spyware. This tool, later named Spybot Search and Destroy, was one of the first effective freeware apps for the removal of many kinds of adware and malware that were infecting PCs. Since then, millions of people all over the world have used it at one time or another. To this day, many people consider it an essential part of their PC defenses.

Patrick’s work on Spybot hasn’t stopped, and it’s been updated several times over the years. Today Spybot-S&D can repair or remove:

  • Bad registry keys
  • Winsock LSPs
  • ActiveX objects
  • Browser Hijackers
  • BHOs (Browser Helper Objects)
  • Tracking cookies
  • Trackerware
  • Homepage hijackers
  • Keyloggers
  • Trojans
  • Adware
  • Spyware
  • Rootkits
  • other kinds of malware

Here’s a screenshot of Spybot as it scanned my laptop yesterday.

spybot-sd-portable

Typically, I use Spybot as a secondary scanner, to catch things that my antivirus and other defenses have missed. However, the TeaTimer portion of Spybot can be installed to watch over your computer continuously in the background.

Another great feature of Spybot, is it’s ability to add immunizationsagainst some common weaknesses in Internet Explorer and other areas of your PC.

Spybot can be updated every time you use it, by clicking the update icon. Always check for new updates before running a scan.

I prefer to have most of the programs on my PC, set up as portable applications. I was happy to find that Spybot is also available as a portable app.

arrow-down-double-3Download Spybot S&D Portable

earth-globeSpybot S&D Home Page (full installed version)

Techie Buzz Verdict:

Spybot is one of those apps that have proved themselves over years and years of use. It’s always been free, and it’s probably saved millions of people headaches from re-installing their OS after an infection. It deserves to be highly recommended.

techiebuzzrecommendedsoftware1

Techie Buzz Rating: 4/5 (Excellent)

Learn the Countries of the World with Enigeo

globe[Windows only]

How many countries are there in the World? What are their names? Where are they located? What do their flags look like? If you really want to learn these details, Enigeo (freeware) is great way to learn them.

This program offers two different modes for learning: quiz mode and explorer mode. I have found it very challenging. The best I was able to get in the random country quiz was about 20%. That’s not surprising, considering that it’s been a long time since I studied these in grade school. I’m sure I’ll do much worse when it comes to flags and capitals.

The game will ask you the following types of questions: Name of the country, Capital of the country, Position on the map, and Flag of the country.

enigeo_screenshot enigeo_screenshot2

It’s a 3mb download and will run on Windows 2000, XP, Vista and 7. This game is also available in 11 languages: English, German, Italian, Spanish, Chinese (simplified), Chinese (traditional), Polish, French, Swedish, Portuguese, and Russian.

Note: There are 192 countries in the United Nations. However, most people recognize two or three more, which include Kosovo, Taiwan and the Vatican. (source about.com)

Check out this video of Enigeo:

Enigeofree geography quiz

arrow-down-double-3Download Enigeo

Techie Buzz Verdict:

This free game is one of the best ways I’ve found to educate children and adults about the basics of geography. It’s easy to set up and run. I give it a big thumbs up.

techiebuzzrecommendedsoftware1

Techie Buzz Rating: 4/5 (Excellent)

20 New Screensavers for Valentines Day

[Windows Only]

Valentine’s day is close and you’ll find plenty of free screensavers and wallpapers on the net. Be careful to visit only safe websites when you are looking for them.

As many of you have learned by now, not all free screensavers are created equal. Many times, free means that you have to install stupid toolbars, adware and other unwanted junk along with the screensaver. That’s not true of the ones at NewFreeScreensavers.

valentine-screensavers

One of the nice features of these screensavers is that they now have settings to mute the sounds. Some of the screensavers also have a setting to include a small analog clock on the screen.

arrow-down-double-3 Valentine Screensaver Download Page

Windows 7 themes?

valentine-win7-themeIf you have Windows 7, be sure to check out the Valentine theme from Microsoft. If you don’t have Windows 7, you can still snag the wallpapers by using this trick.

Techie Buzz Verdict:

I’ve downloaded and installed several of the screensavers at this site and never had a problem with any of them. These screensavers are safe, totally free, and there are dozens more to check out once you visit.

Techie Buzz Rating: 3/5 (Good)

Firefox and Chrome Browsers to Offer “Do Not Track” Options

Is it broke? Does it need Fixed?

Last month, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) published a consumer privacy report. The commission is apparently concerned about advertising and tracking cookies, which many consider to be intrusive, but not dangerous. Tracking allows advertisers to target users with custom or localized advertisements. In hopes of fixing this issue, the report suggested that web browser makers should add a Do Not Trackmechanism.

It’s not surprising that the FTC would suggest something like this. Government bureaucrats are always offering suggestions on how free market economies should be fixed, even when they aren’t broken. However, it is surprising that only a few weeks later, Mozilla’s Firefox and Google’s Chrome developers have already announced that they’ll be offering Do Not Trackin future versions of their browsers.

cookie_iconpac-man-gobble firefox-logo chrome-logo ftc-logo

Firefox Support

Alex Fowler, at Mozilla, announced support for Mozilla’s Do Not Track at his blog the other day. He said, we’re seeking ways to provide Firefox users a deeper understanding of and control over the flow of personal information online. We’re pleased to be able to share one of these efforts today ….

When a web browser visits a web site, the site asks the web browser for some basic information before displaying the page. This information is transmitted in the HTTP header, and the new DNT (Do Not Track) warning will be added to this header. Once this warning is received by a web site, it’s up to them to decide whether or not to attempt to read and place tracking cookies in the browser’s cookie cache.

mozilla-dnt-diagram3

This feature isn’t available yet, however, you can get an addon with the DNT header. Here are some frequently asked questions about DNT at Mozilla.

Chrome Support

Two days ago, the Google Public Policy blog posted an article telling us how they are handling the FTC request for a Do Not Trackfeature in Chrome. They said, Today we are building on this work, and that of others, by allowing you to permanently opt out of ad tracking from all companies that offer opt-outs through the industry self-regulation programs.

The Keep My Opt-Outs extension takes advantage of already existing opt-out programs offered by the Network Advertising   Initiative, which includes 50 different web tracking services. Later, an option will be added to the Chrome browser, with no need for an extension.

nai-logo

Conclusions

hangman-logoAs usual, a Government agency is looking for problems to fix so they’ll be able to brag that they are useful sometimes. Nobody’s going to dispute their suggestions in this case, and paranoid consumers may actually benefit from this initiative.

It’s not surprising that the browser developers would jump onto the band-wagon. They’ll do anything to avoid provoking government agencies from putting a collar (or noose) around their necks. These browser changes are a cheap solution to a problem that many people didn’t consider as being serious.

Sometimes, an action like this can have unintended consequences. This time, it might be a win for everyone except the advertisers. What effect will these changes have on the web sites which depend on the advertising revenue?

CARBERP – a New Browser Trojan to Worry About

malwareHow would you feel about a computer infection that could lie to your bank about your online transactions? What would happen if details such as who you are paying and how much, could be changed without you knowing it?

That’s exactly what can happen with the current crop of transactional trojans.   This is called screen injection, HTML overlayor the man-in-the-browser attack.

This type of infection can spy on you while you are online at many banking sites. ATM PINs, social security numbers and answers to secret questions are the types of information that will be stolen.

Previously, we’ve written about the Zeus trojan, which is the current king of the transactional trojans. Zeus used some very unique command-and-controlinterfaces that actually fooled security experts into giving up information. The Zeus trojan was also used to infect hundreds of U.S. Government employees when they opened a fake Christmas Card email from the White House.

If that’s not scary enough, there are more trojans out there that are being bred to compete with Zeus. According to TrustDefender, a well known security provider, a trojan named Carberp has recently added a whole slew of new features. These new features are intended to make it just as useful to black hats as Zeus. Here are some of the features:

  • It can run on non-administrator accounts.
  • It can infect XP, Vista and Seven machines.
  • It doesn’t make changes to the Window registry.
  • It hooks into the web browser to control all internet traffic.
  • It’s able to transmit real-time data to it’s masters.

It also covers it’s identity by appending random data into itself to foil normal anti-virus detection. The fact that it can run in non-admin mode and doesn’t write to the registry also makes it harder to detect. To most security software, Carberp could appear to be a simple browser add-on or extension.

The older Zeus trojan hasn’t been improved recently, and it looks like there’s a battle brewing that will decide the next popular trojan. Carberp is in the running with two or three others, such as SpyEye and Gozi.

It’s a rat race, with security experts always trying to build a better trap for the fast rats that keep breeding even faster rats. The security field profits from this race and so do the hackers.

We are the big losers.


Freeware Fridays | Top Tools of the Week #29

freeware-sign2

In case you haven’t seen them, here are the most recent posts in our Freeware category. We hope you enjoy reading about these freebies, and maybe you’ll find a keeper in the mix.


Windows Live Mail Hogs CPU, RAM And Slows Down The System

Windows Live Mail 2011

Windows Live Mail hogs CPU and RAM and slows down the system if you have a large mailbox or have several accounts configured in it.

 

10 New Screensavers Four Seasons and Five Countries

newfreescreensavers-seasons-et-al

This week, the folks at NewFreeScreensavers have added a nice selection of 10 new screensavers. These include 4 seasons, animals, butterflies, flowers and waterfalls.

 

Weather Window App for Google Chrome Browser

Google Chrome

If you want up to the minute weather forecasts, with no waiting, you can’t go wrong with this app for the Chrome web browser.

 

Chrome Extension for Goo.gl URL Shortener

chrome

The goo.gl extension for the Chrome web browser is a quick and easy way to create short URLs for sharing on social sites such as Twitter and Facebook. If you use the Chrome browser, this is something you’ll enjoy using.


Be sure to let us know if you have a favorite freebie you’d like to see posted here. Our comments (below) are always open to you.

10 New Screensavers – Four Seasons and Five Countries

[Windows Only]

Right now, the people at NewFreeScreensavers have 10 new screensavers covering a variety of themes, which you can see below. The nature screensavers are slideshow screensavers, and the pictures from the 4 seasons, animals, and butterfly screensavers can be used as a wallpaper. In the settings for the screensaver, select Wallpaper to set those up.

newfreescreensavers-seasons-et-al

I’m sure you can find plenty of other screensavers out there, but be careful to visit only safe websites when you are looking for them. As many of you have learned, not all free screensavers are created equal. Many times, free means that you have to install stupid toolbars, adware and other unwanted junk along with the screensaver. That’s not true of the ones at NewFreeScreensavers.

One of the nice features of these screensavers is that they now have settings to mute sounds. Some of the screensavers also have a setting to include a small analog clock on the screen.

newfreescreensavers-mute

arrow-down-double-3 Screensaver Download Page

Be sure to check out all of the screensavers we’ve written about.

W I N D O W S 7 themes?

artic-theme-win7If you have Windows 7, be sure to check out this nice Artic theme from Microsoft. If you don’t have Windows 7, you can still snag the wallpapers by using this trick.

Techie Buzz Verdict:

I’ve downloaded and installed several of the screensavers at this site and never had a problem with any of them. These screensavers are safe, totally free, and there are dozens more to check out once you visit.

Techie Buzz Rating: 3/5 (Good)

Weather Window App for Google Chrome Browser

Google ChromeWhen Google announced the opening of the Chrome Web Store, I had doubts about it. I was already pleased with the wide range of Chrome browser extensions and didn’t see much difference between an app and an extension. (What are Chrome Web Apps?) However, the Web Store has been gathering momentum and now there are tons of cool apps available.

One Chrome extension that I loved and used often was the Aniweather extension. It gives a very nice looking display of the current weather and a forecast.

aniweather

I used it up until I found something even better. The Weather Window app from WeatherBug, far exceeded my expectations.

weather-bug

Once installed, the Weather Window app can be accessed by opening a new blank tab in Chrome and choosing the icon in the Apps section.

weather-bug-app-icon

The main screen shows an open window with a simulated view of the current weather conditions. The first thing you’ll have to do is to choose your location. The new location tab is found at the top of the page. You can enter a location by zip code or city name.

weatherbug-location-tab

Multiple locations can be added and will appear across the top of the page for easy access later. The tabs can be dragged and re-arranged as you wish.

On the right side of the weather window, you’ll see 4 icons. These represent Detailed Observations, Forecast, Weather Mapsand Cameras.

weather-bug-function-icons

The Observations icon displays current conditions.

weatherbug-observations

The Forecast icon displays a great deal of information. There are three tabs showing a summary, more forecasts and hourly forecasts.

weather-bug-forcast-function

The maps function displays some really cool looking weather maps. You can zoom in and out with your mouse scroll button. The map can also be animated to show the direction of the weather coming at you.

weather-bug-maps-function

The camera function shows you current web cam images from weather stations close to you. In the settings, you can choose for one of these to be shown in the main weather window by default.

weather-bug-camera-funtion

That’s all I have to show you right now.

arrow-down-double-3Install the Weather Window app from WeatherBug (Chrome browser only)

Also, check out the top 15 apps at the Web Store.

Techie Buzz Verdict:

This little web app gets a thumbs up. There isn’t much about the weather that it leaves out. Since it’s free, there’s no reason not to give it a try.

techiebuzzrecommendedsoftware1

Techie Buzz Rating: 4/5 (Excellent)


How to Keep Kids Safe Online – Talk to Them

parent-childYou’ve heard about the danger. It’s out there in many places, such as Facebook, Twitter, Chat rooms, Texting, and File Sharing. What do you know about safe online practices? How can you help protect your kids?

According to many experts, the best thing you can do to protect your kids is to talk to them about internet safety. Two websites can help you and kids avoid the worst dangers on the web. You’ll find plenty of advice at On Guard Online and Net Smartz.

onguardonline top-ncmec netsmartz-logo

Below, I’ll offer a few tips I’ve found. However, if you have time, take a look at this video: Chatting with Kids About Being Online.

Chatting with Kids About Being Online

More videos from OnGuard Online

Videos from NetSmartz

Why do you need to talk to kids?

At NetSmartz, I ran into some survey stats from 2006, showing how important it is to influence your kids online behavior.

33% of 13- to- 17-year-olds reported that their parents or guardians know very littleor nothingabout what they do on the Internet.

48% of 16-17s said their parents or guardians know very littleor nothing.

Fully 22% of those surveyed reported their parents or guardians have never discussed Internet safety with them.

On the other hand, 36% of youth—girls and younger teens most notably—said that their parents or guardians have talked to them a lotabout online safety, and 70% said their parents or guardians have discussed the subject with them during the past year.

Most importantly:

Fewer teens whose families have talked to them a lotabout online safety have an IM name or pictures of themselves on the Internet, compared to kids whose families have not talked to them at all. More teens who’ve talked to parents or guardians also ignore messages from unfamiliar people, refuse to reply or chat, block unknown senders, and report these occurrences to trusted adults.

How can you get a conversation started?

I also found some good questions to get you started. (from NetSmartz)

Can I take a look at what you have been posting online?

Does anyone else have access to your passwords?

What information is okay to share online?

What information should you keep private?

What could someone learn about you from what you post online?

How might they use this information?

Have you ever regretted anything you posted online?

What advice should you give? What actions should you take?

I also found this advice at NetSmartz.

Make sure that your child takes advantage of the privacy settings on social networking sites.

Pre-approve the pictures and videos your child posts online.
Remind your child never to post e-mail addresses or cell phone numbers.

Tell your child that passwords should only be shared with parents and guardians.

Teach your child not to respond to any e-mails requesting personal information and to delete e-mails from unknown senders.

Discuss how to keep screen names and e-mail addresses gender-neutral, appropriate, and free of any information that could reveal identity.

Encourage your child to tell you right away if anything happens online that bothers or frightens him or her.

I’ve only covered a tiny part of the help and advice available to parents. Be sure to take a look.

On Guard Online / NetSmartz


Don’t be Tempted by the Kama Sutra Backdoor Trojan

appleIt’s difficult for some of us to resist clicking links or opening emails with provocative titles. That’s what hackers count on. Recently, one of many successful malware attacks was a file named Real kamasutra.pps.exe. Sophos reported that it really is a PowerPoint slideshow, but don’t get your hopes up. You’d have to infect your computer to see the images.

malwareWhat I will do is warn everyone, once again, not to be fooled by the old double extension trick. Even though you may think .PPS (slideshow), the .EXE on the end of the file makes it an executable file. When it’s launched, the slideshow above actually did display some rather unique images, however, it also installed a backdoor trojan. The trojan, called Troj/Bckdr-RFM, allows hackers to silently gain access to your PC. Once inside they can steal your data, your identity, and use your machine for any number of illegal activities.

Most of the time, you’ll see files with double extensions in email. One of the most famous email exploits was the I LOVE YOU.TXT.VBSfile. The .VBS on the end made it a Visual Basic Script, which installed a virus on millions of PCs back in 2000.

These days, your biggest risks come from clicking shortened links in social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. Thankfully, most of the short URL providers, like Goo.gl and Bit.ly, try to make sure that the links don’t end up at known bad websites.

If you’ve waited patiently hoping for a glimpse of the images in that Kama Sutra slideshow, visit the Sophos blog.