Daily Archives: April 26, 2012

A number of my recent TechnoRants© have dealt with computer security. This latest threat deals with the Domain Changer virus which will impact PC’s , MAC’s and probably Linux machines as well so listen up!

The FBI recently broke up a hacker ring based in Estonia that was responsible for unleashing the Domain Changer virus. The concept for this new bit of nastiness originally turned up in January ’07,  has been perfected in this most recent release and is based on a long-postulated threat to Domain Name servers. So, what does it do?

First of all, I’m not going to try to explain Domain Names. Instead, have a look at the Wikipaedia article on the Domain Name System. The Domain Changer virus has infected at least 86,000 computers and is lying dormant until July 9th of this year. On that day, it will “wake up”,  redirect your browser to “fake” versions of actual websites, slow down your internet speed and disable your anti-virus & other security software. The hackers would then make money from ads on those fake websites, many of which are probably for software to “clean up” your PC and get rid of whatever is slowing it down. The hackers would win two ways:

  1. They would obtain your credit card information
  2. The “software” would load more viruses/malware on your system.
In other words, this is the internet equivalent of “Thank you sir! May I have another?”
How do you know if you’re infected? Go to the Domain Changer Working Group website and read the brief information about the Domain Changer virus. There will also be a link at the top of the home page
that will direct you to instructions on how to Detect an infection. The detection bit is all done via the internet and you won’t have to download any software, etc. There are instructions for Windows XP, 7 and MAC OS X.
If you are infected, there is information about tools  to disinfect your system. Finally, there is general information on how to protect your system from being infected.
If you’re a Windows user and have questions, need additional help, etc. Drop Dr. Data a line and I’ll try to give you a hand.

 

. . . to everything else. This is one of those tales that I think are simply amazing and it all begins with Crossing The Appomattox.

I have a friend and former colleague who now lives in Austin, Texas. We first met way, way back in the 1970’s. I took a job as a computer operator at an automotive parts distributor in Chamblee, Georgia. A lady named Daisy Thorpe  told me of the guy who had run the show in the past but had moved on to better things. This fellow stopped by his old workplace one day for a quick visit and Daisy introduced me to Loren Wilson. I think we shook hands and that was about it. Nothing monumental about anything.

Fast forward about 8 years to the mid-1980’s. By that time, I was working as a programmer/analyst for The Michie Company – a Legal Publisher in Charlottesville, VA. I was on a business trip to California to begin taking delivery of a much-anticipated editorial automation system. Michie was bringing a new guy on to take charge of the project and he would be joining us out in California. Long story short, the guy’s name was Loren Wilson. Over the next few months and years, we discovered that we knew some of the same people in Atlanta and lived in subdivisions built by the same man. Loren and I worked together for the next 15 years or so until he retired to Austin because of medical issues.

Fast forward again to Monday of this week and my tale of Crossing The Appomattox. Loren & I had kept in touch over the years and I had sent him an e-mail telling of The Parsons’ Rant. He decided to drop by & happened to read the Appomattox story. Two days later, Loren sent me an e-mail containing a link to a collection of photos taken between 1947 & 1957. The bulk of the photos were of the Hercules Powder Company plant in Hopewell, VA. My father worked for Hercules as did my mother – that’s where they met – other family members and some of our neighbours.

It was a treat to look through those old photos. I had worked at Hercules in the summer during my college years and I saw buildings that I had worked in and a familiar face or two. My mother was an industrial nurse at Hercules and there was this one photo showing one of her successors sitting behind the same desk and probably in the same chair as she had. I passed the link on to my brother who had also done summer work at Hercules and had a few of his own tales to tell.

He looked through the collection and noted that a number of the pictures were taken by “N. O. Howard” – better known as “Norm Howard”.  Mr. Howard was a ham radio operator and a figure in the Hopewell Boy Scout leadership who lived about two blocks from our house. His son was one of two passengers involved in the boating accident on the Appomattox River that took the life of my uncle so many years ago. If I had never met Loren Wilson, I probably would never have known about the photos and who took some of them.

And now you know the rest of the story.

This Month’s Rants

April 2012
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