Blu Studio One review

I needed a phone in a hurry the other day when my wife’s Moto E started acting up. We turned to the Blu Studio One, specifically model# S0110UU. This is my Blu Studio One review.

It’s an inexpensive midrange phone for people who want to bring their own to their carrier rather than (over)paying on a monthly installment plan. It works with GSM providers like T-Mobile and AT&T. It does not work with Sprint or Verizon, since they use the CDMA standard. Some of the smaller carriers also work with GSM. Buying a Blu phone isn’t a bad way to go when you’re looking to save on a cell phone.

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Rick Broida thinks he doesn’t use antivirus software

C’mon. You knew I’d get around to writing a response to Rick Broida’s claim that he doesn’t use antivirus software.

Actually, he’s not nuts. But he’s also mistaken if he thinks he doesn’t use antivirus software. His editorial is kind of like saying, “I don’t use a web browser. I use Internet Explorer.”

Although he’s mistaken that he doesn’t use antivirus software, and not all of his advice is spot-on, you can do a lot worse than follow his advice.

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And in a story that should surprise no one, Target’s attack was unsophisticated

I found a story today stating that the attackers who stole millions of credit cards from Target didn’t have to try very hard to hide. I wish I could say I was surprised.

My boss says it this way: Amateurs hit as hard as they can. Professionals hit as hard as they have to.

Why? Because if they only hit as hard as they have to, they can save the hard hit for another day. And it really boils down to simple economics. If I can buy off-the-shelf malware for $1,000 and use it to steal millions of dollars, then use the same malware again somewhere else and steal another few million, why not do that? The alternative is to buy a sophisticated attack that costs five or six figures. Then what happens? I use it, get my money, and then the victim can’t figure it out, so the victim calls in Mandiant. Mandiant discovers the zero-day attack, then tells the world about it. Mandiant looks good because they discovered something nobody else has ever seen before. The victim looks a lot better too, because they got mowed down by something that was unstoppable. But then the vendor moves heaven and earth to release an emergency out-of-band patch as quickly as possible, closing down a very brief window of opportunity to use it.

Cyber criminals may be crooked and unethical, but they aren’t stupid. And that’s why this is an uphill battle: A cheap attack can go up against defenses that cost an order of magnitude more, and still win. Read more

What’s going on with Macintosh security?

The latest figures I’ve read say there are perhaps a half-million infected Macintoshes still floating around out there, an improvement from the high of 600,000 that I was seeing a few weeks ago, but probably not what Apple had hoped after releasing its most recent fix.

I argued three weeks ago that the end of the innocence was either here or very near. I’ll argue now that it’s gone: There are now 250 known Macintosh OS X viruses in existence. In 2003 there were none. Read more

Acer Aspire One 722 review

I set up an Acer Aspire One 722 netbook this week. This is my Acer Aspire One 722 review. I imagine the return rates on these things is horrendous, because the out-of-box experience is pathetic.

This one won’t be going back though. Tune it up, and it’s an adequate performer. It’s still a netbook–all that talk of the AMD C-50 and C-60 chips delivering Celeron-like performance was just rumor–but it can match an Atom’s CPU performance and delivers better graphics performance than Intel. Read more

Remembering Michelangelo

Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of the Michelangelo virus. If you don’t remember, on March 6, 1992, Michelangelo was programmed to overwrite the first 100 sectors of a hard drive–not quite as destructive as formatting a drive, but to the average user, the effect is the same. It was a huge scare–John McAfee predicted five million computers would be affected–but largely was a non-event.

Those of you studying for security certifications would do well to remember that Michelangelo is a prime example of a virus and a logic bomb. Viruses replicate; logic bombs do something when an event triggers. Malware doesn’t always fit neatly into specific categories–crossovers are common.
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Living with a past-its-prime computer

I’m playing catch-up a bit. This weekend, Lifehacker ran a guide about living with a computer that’s past its prime.

I’ve made a career of that. One of my desktop PCs at work (arguably the more important one) is old enough that I ought to be preparing to send it off to second grade. And for a few years I administered a server farm that was in a similar state. They finally started upgrading the hardware as I was walking out the door. (I might have stayed longer if they’d done that sooner.) And at home, I ran with out-of-date computer equipment for about a decade, just this summer buying something current. Buying something current is very nice, but not always practical.

So of course I’ll comment on a few of Lifehacker’s points.

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Appremover can remove stubborn antivirus software

Antivirus software can be among the hardest software to uninstall, because its hooks dig so deeply into the operating system. I’ve seen it fail to uninstall for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it requires a password, which was entered by someone other than you and never written down. Or sometimes something gets corrupted, and the program’s uninstaller fails. If you need to remove stubborn antivirus software, there’s a solution.

Enter Appremover.

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What I would do to fix Dr. A’s computer

I left my conversation with Dr. A nearly convinced he doesn’t really need a new computer. The local store is pitching him a new $700 Dell Inspiron with a 1 TB hard drive and 6 GB of RAM and a 17-inch screen. But he could upgrade to a 1 TB hard drive for less than $125. If he doesn’t want to switch to Windows 7, his current Windows XP Professional will only use 4 GB of RAM anyway. Upgrading to 4 GB of RAM will cost less than $40. And looking at the new system, I don’t know that its CPU is all that much more powerful than what he already has.

To me, the clincher was this. I asked myself the question whether, if I were offered a machine exactly like his for $200 or $300, would I buy it. And it was an easy answer. I would.

I haven’t done a thorough analysis of the machine, but I’ve seen enough to have an idea what it needs. Much of it will seem familiar, if you’ve been reading me a long time.
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