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Monday, March 14, 2016

Bad Backups

This will be an ongoing article of bad backup utilization I have come across.

Using a consumer grade backup device with one drive for backups: I came across a client, that uses a WD external drive. It isn't even one of the mirrored drives WD sells. This is a big no no, since your data is all on one point of failure. My recommendation is to use Cloud Backups. If the data is something you don't want being stored on another companies server, then utilize a backup device that provides redundancy. A recommendation is to use at-least a mirrored external backup device. WD and QNAP sells these kind of devices. Another device is a NAS device, they are excellent for a small business. Look for one with at-least two drives, in a mirrored configuration, personally I would use at-least 4 drives.


Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity planning Tips

A problem I came across working for a managed IT services company, was that a lot of our clients (small to medium sized) had poor plans. If it came to disaster recovery (DR) or business continuity (BC) plans the biggest issue was plans left in the dust. Another concern was poor quality, management, and utilization of the plans.

The first tip is to not create a plan, let out a sigh of relief, and move on to other concerns in your business, while in the process leaving your plans behind. You will need to go back and revise your plans. Take for example a move to a new building, your plan will need to be updated to take into account the new surroundings. Reviewing your plans periodically and performing drills are a good way, to keep your employees engaged and aware of the plans in place.

  • Don't create a plan and file it away for a long period of time
  • Review and revise your plans periodically
  • Perform drills and go over the plans with your team
    Second tip is to not create a low quality plan. Take the time to create a plan, that can be revised in the future, understandable for other readers, and use outside resources if needed. It might seem at first, that it is expensive to hire a third-party to help with the plan, or you might like to figure things out on your own. This can become very costly in the future, and third-party resources like the Fire Chief will be happy to share his professional advice. 
    • Spend the time to create a great plan (Don't rush it or go haphazard)
    • Make plan readable and understandable to other parties
    • Utilize third-party resources for help with the plan
    The last tip is to understand that there will be one person or group that will be the over-seer and the last word on the plan. This can be the CEO, boss, or a group that owns the company. That party will be the one to get the plan going and make sure it is being utilized. However one person cannot create these kinds of plans it takes different parties collectively to create these plans, utilize them, and make sure that they actually work. 
    • There will be a party that gets the final say and is the over-seer of the plan
    • That party should not by itself create and manage the plan, it takes a collective group effort
    • Offload tasks to others for separation of duties

    Monday, April 13, 2015

    Website Business Address Tip

    I was just looking earlier at the hours for Great Clips and found the address section interesting.

    http://www.greatclips.com/salons/2430

    The thing is we as people when it comes to directions have two distinct ways to navigate. One is by street names and building numbers. Another way to put it is by the address. Another way is by objects surrounding that area. That address up above achieves both of those ways. This is a great idea to incorporate into your own website or directions in general. 

    Wednesday, October 22, 2014

    Potential Ebay Scammer Spotted (Send to Site Technique)


         I was looking at DSLR camera's on ebay and came upon a posting, that was really cheap, for a post that is buy it now. The post talked about how the Ebay costs are so expensive, and they have an external website, where you can purchase the items.



         Going to the link took me to a website that had more items for very little. Of course i had to manually type in the address. Reason being that they had the link in an image, probably to circumvent eBay's rules. One of eBay's rules "We don't allow links to non-eBay sites where other items are offered for sale. " disallows posting of links that have other items for sale. Below we can see items, that really seem too good to be true, in their pricing. I did come across the camera, a Canon EOS 60D, priced at $90. Which is funny because the ebay post showed it as $5 buy it now. Anyway keep in mind these items are so low priced. A Canon EOS 60D costs about 600-900$ with the bundle items, that was shown on the eBay post. $90 for the same item is extremely low.


         
         On the website one needs to make an account to buy the items. I made one using fake info, and a one time use mailbox. Afterwards i was sent through the check out process. Really simple it asks if you want to use the info you put in as the shipping address, then you choose shipping type, and are sent to Paypal. The Paypal site looks legit, and certificate checks out. I didn't buy anything, and i don't recommend anybody else to buy anything either.



         The reason being that there is a high chance this is a scam. ScamAdvisor shown below shows that it has a high risk level. The Whois info checks out with the stuff shown on ScamAdvior's summary, of this site. That info being that the site has a short lifespan ( expires October 2015). Also the site is hosted in China, a high risk place for fraudulent activity. 




    Summary

          To conclude this isn't a site i would recommend buying from. First of all the eBay post is using a technique to circumvent eBay's policy. That policy being against posting external links, where other items are for sale. The website raises some flags on ScamAdvisor. Also the website has items, that are so low priced it is too good to be true. Overall from visiting the site and going through the checkout process, this seems like a medium-type sophisticated operation. 

         The scam works by having an eBay post that takes you to an external site. You are required to make an account, then you can choose the item. Afterwards you choose the shipping address, shipping type, and payment method (PayPal being the only chose, even though they say they accept money orders, and wire transfers). If you choose PayPal, you are taken to the PayPal site. It looks authentic and probably is. However this is where i think the scammers get cockier. You buy the item through PayPal, they take the card info you enter in, and then steal that info. PayPal can't really do anything since the seller just get's your card number during transaction. The same info that a seller get's when you swipe your card at the grocery store. The thing is you trust the seller to not use that info for fraudulent activity. Well in this case, the seller could then try social engineering techniques to try to get you to reveal your card pin, be it through your email or by phone. Another possibility is that the seller just takes the money you paid, be it through card or money (that was already in your PayPal account). Then says your item has shipped, you wait for the item, and in the meantime the seller, keeps collecting money from others. The seller then cashes out, be it at one time, or over a small period. Closes the website, and their PayPal account. The seller could also be cashing out small amounts, as to not bring attention to PayPal regulations. Anyway the point is the seller will cash out, take the money, close shop, and probably start someplace else. Leaving you empty handed, and if you did get a product it might even be fake product. One might ask why send a product then? They could do it to buy time. 

    Do note when i say seller i'm using it in general. There could be one or more people working this operation.

    Links

    Ebay Post: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Canon-EOS-60D-SLR-Camera-4-Lens-Kit-18-55-IS-75-300-mm-16GB-TOP-VALUE-KIT-/271643073132?pt=Digital_Cameras&hash=item3f3f305a6c

    ScamAdvisor: http://www.scamadviser.com/check-website/www.789electronics.com

    WhoIs: http://whois.icann.org/en/lookup?name=www.789electronics.com

    Scam Website: http://www.789electronics.com/

    eBay Links Policy: http://pages.ebay.com/help/policies/listing-links.html


        


    Wednesday, October 1, 2014

    Fix App Resolution Problems in Windows 8.1 (High DPI Screens)

         I recently used Bootcamp with my Macbook Pro (mid 2014) to install windows 8.1. It looks really good on the high retina display. However when i install VLC Player and PacketTracer, they looked really bad. They were very small, and it was hard to read the small words.

         Now in Windows 8.1 and this goes for other versions. To fix this you can right-click the applications shortcut and then go to the properties. In the properties go to the compatibility tab, and then check the box to disable high DPI scaling. This fix doesn't always work.

         When i did this for VLC and PacketTracer i still had the applications open up as very small. You can see what they look like below.




    What i did next was go the screen resolution properties. You can get to there by going to your desktop ( shortcut: windows key+D), then go to the properties menu ( on a Macbook press two keys on the mouse pad). Then go to screen resolution. In there you have two places you can set; one is the resolution, and the other is scaling. Resolution is pretty easy to find it's right there, when you open up screen resolution properties. Finally to get to scaling settings, you would have to click the "Make text and other items larger or smaller" button. It's found on the screen resolution screen. The next screen below shows the settings you can set for the scaling, for example you can scale everything to be a meduim size, a custom size, or even change the size of specific items like the titles.








         What worked for me was setting the resolution to a different size, for my Macbook 13.3, 1440 by 900 works pretty well. Also a scaling setting of 125% (medium). Keep in mind that you will have to mess around with the settings, till you get to a size that makes your Apps look good. There isn't one size that will work for everyone and every single App out there. This is just something you've gotta mess around with, till certain App developers make their Apps compatible with higher DPI screens, such as the Retina Display.





    That's all, hope you find a set-up that works for you.

    Tuesday, August 12, 2014

    The Future View of Speech to Text Translation.

         Since the passing of the plastic industry, Silicon has stayed with us for a while. Since around the 1970's we have seen many inventions come from the Silicon industry. Be it computers or laptops or even telephones with Silicon chips. In time we have seen, inventions influenced by the Silicon industry, to come and pass.

         I'm not saying all of these inventions have come and passed. There have been ones that have come and stayed with us. How they have come to stay with us, is not what i'm about to talk about. Text to Speech is the topic for now. Text to Speech at the moment seems to be one of those inventions, that is staying with us for now. Thanks in part to the Silicon industry, Text and Speech has been evolving very well. Looking back in history we can see that there was something, like speech synthesis. Speech synthesis defined in as little words as possible, means to produce human speech artificially. Speech synthesis has become more human like, and the term is still used today. Moving on to the invention opposite of it, which is Speech to text translation. This type of invention has many names: Speech recognition (SR), automatic speech recognition (ASR), and speech to text (STT).

         These two inventions opposite of each other, have helped each other in their progression. On a side note, this makes me think that in the future it might take both of these inventions, feeding off of each other, to progress further. And it might already be happening. Anyway back to the topic at hand, which is speech to text. Nowadays looking back at speech to text, we can see that Siri has come from it. Also there is now a type of software that translates your speech to text, an example being Dragon software.
    In conclusion speech recognition, seems to have a-lot of potential. One potential that comes to mind is growth in the software side.

         Let's close our eyes ( figuratively speaking of course) and imagine in the future, that you get a mix-tape CD. Be it through a friend or while searching through CD's in the thrift store. You insert the CD and began to fall in love with a song. The problem comes into play, when you can't get the name of the song off the CD. The CD only shows track titles, so you turn on your new software. This type of speech recognition software, takes the audio in the song and translates it into text. The text is then run through an algorithm, that takes the text does some maneuvering with it, and runs it through a web crawler. The web crawler then returns with song titles, or even song lyrics (with song titles). The software does a comparison and then returns to you, with what it thinks is the title or titles of the song. Finally you can then double check to see if it's the right song. Or even the software can double check for you.

    Anyway this is what i think Speech to Text translation might look like in the future. Also if this sounds like something you actually want to invest in and create. Go ahead just be sure to give me credit for giving you some ideas on this topic.

    Sunday, May 11, 2014

    New Facebook Malware Phisher

    Here's an interesting malware i came across on FB today. I got a few messages sent from a friend i thought that it was a real conversation, and when i got the link sent it seemed like a fake one.

    Anyway it seems like his FB got hacked, or maybe he really sent this. The latter i highly doubt. What i found interesting was that if his facebook did really get hacked, then this could of been a script, that was running. Basically i think this was a program that sends a message, that has already been written in the code, and once the program get's a reply it sends the next message. What makes this program seem so interesting is that it is written to seem like a real person. Also the link has a space between the .com. Maybe they did this to comply with FB's policy, if they have one against sending people links. Or maybe it's a way of making this go under the radar, if FB is monitoring for sent links. Of course it's highly doubt-able that FB would be monitoring messages between others. However they could be, i don't have their policy and rules in front of me, so honestly i don't really know.

    Moving on to the next part, the link in there is a Tumblr link. From now on the links i will be posting will contain Malware in them. I am not taking responsibility, and am not liable for what you do with them and what happens to you. You've been warned. I take no responsibility whats so ever, and am not liable for anything that happens, to you, such as from you clicking the links, anybody else, and to your or other's property.

    The link; http://facebook273.wyey29.tumblr.com/ took me to a tumblr page, with a bunch of random words and stuff. Then i was redirected to a fake Facebook site. Basically a phisher site. So in all this is a spam message, that sends you a link, that redirects you to a phisher FB site, and in turn your FB can be compromised. Here is the FB link; http://accounts.login.userid.487503.alashface.com/pop/fbn/?next=http%3A%2F%2F%2videos%2F%3AJ%4ID%1A .

    That is all. I strongly advice you not to click these links if you don't know what you are doing. And if you do, just keep in mind that typing in your FB info into the phisher FB site, will leave your information compromised.