LEGO Brand Retail
Nov 292012
 

Got a text message today telling me I won a $1000 Target gift card. YAY (if it were real). First off I never entered a contest secondly I knew this had to be a scam. So first thing I did when I hit the office was Google the phone number it came from – 323-636-8891. First thing to come up is a post about it being a scam. Check out a few more to confirm and it is definitely a scam. So if you get this text message (or anything telling you that you won something and asking you to click through to a website) don’t click the links, don’t reply (only tells them they have a good number) and DELETE the message off your phone.

text message scam

I then did a search for the website it was telling me to go to — TargetWinners.com and got more info and a few additional phone numbers that are sending out this crap. I wish it was easy to block phone numbers on my cell because half the known world would be blocked by now.

Two other people at work got this same text too. Just wanted you all to be on look out and not to be taken in during this crazy time of year.

It is bad enough we get all that SPAM in our email why bother us on our cell phones? Especially when most people have limited minutes and/or no text messaging (it cost them money).

 

Oct 142012
 

Do you know what the term “black hat” means. Would you understand it if it were used in a footnote of an article you were reading? Most likely not.

Black Hat is a hacker term for someone who violates computer security.

I was recently appalled by an article about SEO tactics that were so incredibly WRONG it had me seeing red. The article in question is titled: How To Trick Bloggers Into Linking To You and it reads like a DIY kit to SEO via images, Even though the author states the article is a black hat situation (kind of off handed at the end of the article), the article itself would get any photographer angry.

Two things that the article tells people to do (THAT THEY SHOULD NEVER EVER DO) is…

1) use Google image search to post images to your website/blog (stealing images violates copyright laws and is, well, just plan WRONG).

2) use Google’s image search to find blogs using those images then go to the site and claim them as yours (holy crap that is just so wrong I cannot even put it into words).

The article in question reads like a How-To-Guide for folks looking to increase SEO via back linking. Back linking is good this article and all it suggests is not.

The guy that wrote it is the one who developed Triberr (a good tool for bloggers), but this article really undermines his integrity if you ask me.

So basically, just don’t trust anything you read over at DIYblogger.net.

Feb 142010
 

It might seem like one of the scariest parts of starting an online business can be figuring out credit card processing and how to implement that into your online shopping cart. Just the costs alone can be frightening, but it does not need to be that way.

Surprisingly online credit card processing is a very simple thing to set up and start using, while the hardest part may be in finding the right shopping cart that will work with your credit card processor and not force you into using the one they have teamed with. The processor they have chosen to partner with may not be the best fit for your company.

A lot of the people I know with online stores don’t always have a physical retail store, but that doesn’t stop them from selling in offline forums like craft shows or expos. Just because they are not doing business online doesn’t mean they have to become a cash only store when on the road. There are great options for wireless credit card processing that lets you take your store accounts with you wherever you go. For people just starting out wireless processing can be a bit expensive, but don’t think you can’t do it. There is always the DialPay or telephone option. And who doesn’t have access to a cell phone these days?

No matter what type of card processing you need, you should have no problem figuring it all out with a little research. Good luck with your new venture.

Jun 032009
 

Facebook is the new playground for phishers. Why? The social networking site has made things relatively easy for computer criminals. So far, the consequences have been relatively mild — mostly, some annoying emails. But if facebook and other social networking sites don’t get a handle on security issues soon, a serious outbreak could occur.

Behind every successful criminal computer hack a simple two-step process: gain trust, then exploit that trust with an attack. Computer criminals will tell you that gaining trust is the hard part. Consider a real-world parallel: Breaking into a bank is difficult. But if you befriend a guard, he’ll eventually let you walk right in through the front door.

That’s why facebook attacks are so easy, says Mary Landesman, senior researcher at computer security firm ScanSafe.

“Facebook users assume a level of trust they just should not assume when using the site,” she said.

Phishing attacks have been popping up nearly every week on Facebook and other social sites like Twitter. Victims receive e-mails from friends with innocent-sounding messages, such as “click on this video.” Those who are duped then surrender their login information on a rogue Web site, and then a criminal is off to the races with their identity.

People who would never fall for an old-fashioned phishing note are getting tripped up by Facebook phish for one simple reason: They trust the sender.

“People are pretty unguarded in the social networking environment,” said Kevin Haley, director of Symantec Corp.’s security response team. “You figure you’re surrounded by friends, so why have your guard up?”

He likened Facebook attacks to scam artists that prey on church communities, where members typically share a high level of trust.

By creating what looks like a safe, fun environment, Facebook has created an ideal breeding ground for phishing attacks. In fact, some Facebook software even helps the cause. For example, Facebook makes it relatively easy to send messages to groups of friends, or to post notes that appear on their Web pages. That means one stolen login account can lead to a lot of trouble.

Worse yet, some of the techniques Facebook employs fly directly in the face of accepted security practices. Facebook regularly sends e-mail to users with links in the message. “To follow the comment thread, follow the link below,” reads a typical note. Clicking on the link then prompts users to log in.

That is precisely the formula phishers use to trick victims into divulging their passwords — an e-mail with a link that leads to a login page.

The Facebook method is a recipe for disaster. It’s difficult for users to tell the difference between a legitimate Facebook message and a phishing e-mail. That’s why many banks stopped sending e-mails with links years ago. And in general, that is why e-mail is no longer regarded as a secure form of communication — outside the social networking universe, anyway.

But Facebook has trained their users to click on links in e-mail. And with the steady advance of third-party applications that require sharing of data, Facebook has trained users to play fast and loose with personal information, too.

“We’ve barely gotten users to the point where they have a basic understanding of passwords, and the idea of not using the same password for everything,” Landesman said. Facebook’s use of e-mail and links “is a huge contributing factor (to the phishing problem).”

Facebook could make a simple change and stop many of these phishing attacks — all notification e-mails could say simple “login on our homepage to see the message,” for example, forcing users to always arrive at the site the old-fashioned way — by typing in www.facebook.com in a Web browser’s address bar.

This wouldn’t eradicate phishing. E-mails within Facebook’s system sent between users also include links, and these could also lead to trouble. Because linking to articles is such an important part of Facebook use, there’s no realistic way for Facebook to abolish all e-mail links. But anyone who clicks on such a link sent from within Facebook’s system wouldn’t need to log in again. Over time, users would learn there’s never a need to supply their password after clicking on a link, and wouldn’t be primed to do so when a phisher’s e-mail arrived.

Things could be much worse
So far, most Facebook scams have been designed to steal passwords. But the next successful scam e-mail could be much worse. It could lead users to a cleverly designed Web site booby-trapped with a nasty virus that deletes files or finds its way around a victim’s PC and steals credit card information. Such an attack wouldn’t require the victim to log in; merely visiting the page would be enough.

Of course, these are the same hazards that Internet users face every day — supplying login information to impostor Web sites is bad, landing on booby-trapped Web sites even worse. But Facebook users are especially vulnerable, because they trust the site and their friends. The firm bears responsibility to act before the problem gets worse.

Facebook isn’t entirely to blame, of course. Some of it is old-fashioned techno-naivete. Users tend to be too trusting when a new technology arrives. Just two months ago we celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Melissa virus, the first e-mail worm that really shut down the entire computing world. Its method sounds quaint — or even silly — today. The Melissa message, which appeared to come from a co-worker or friend, read simply: “Here is that document you asked for … don’t show anyone else ;-).” Few Net users would fall for that trick in a standard e-mail today. But Facebook users are falling for very similar criminal tactics because they are working in a new medium. Many will have to touch this new stove and find out that, here too, they can be burned.

Here, too, Facebook is a victim of its own success. Mary Landesman points out that because nearly all Facebook messages are legitimate, recipients are much more likely to fall for the occasional e-mail trap. On the other hand, most traditional e-mail messages are spam (80 to 90 percent) and most inboxes are full of malicious messages, so consumers are much more wary when using regular e-mail.

“The fact that a majority of Facebook correspondence is still valid gives people a false sense of security,” she said.

Facebook didn’t ask for the job of Internet security cop, but that’s the job the company has now. So far, phishing attempts have been clumsy, often marked by broken English and silly-looking URLs. One recent message urged recipients to click on a link with arcane labels like “Check 121.im.”

But this weekend, a more sophisticated version included a link that looked like this:
http://www.facebook.com/l/;http://XXXXX.ru/?video_id=1319924″

(We’ve altered the link so it doesn’t work)

Notice how believable the link is. It appears to link users to Facebook.com, when in fact it sends clickers to a Web site in Russia (Web browsers ignore all the characters before the semicolon in a link). Expect a steady progression in phishing techniques during the next few months.

Facebook is taking some actions to ward off disaster. It hired security firm MarkMonitor, which has experience in getting phishing Web sites removed from the Internet. The firm says it’s already removed 240 phishing sites since the beginning of the year. When it discovers an ongoing phishing attack, Facebook reaches into users’ inboxes and removes the harmful messages. Because it’s a closed system, that technique is effective at preventing a large outbreak, at least on messages from within Facebook.

But the technology is limited and reactive. Facebook can only shut down an attack after it has started. And it can’t remove notification e-mails that are sent outside its systems, leaving users who get those e-mails still vulnerable.

Facebook is hardly the only social networking site with a problem. Twitter, which was hit this weekend by the same Russian video phishing note as Facebook, also makes things easier for crooks. Last week, security firm Trend Micro said that 13,000 Twitter users were hit by the so-called Twittercut phish, which promised to help clickers quickly gain 1,000 new followers.

Because there are multiple domains that can be used to log in to a Twitter account, Landsman points out, users are less likely to be skeptical of a link to an unusual Web site.

But Facebook is the 800-pound gorilla with the 200 million users. It should set the tone for a new set of social networking security standards. It should stop pushing users to share information with third-party applications, stop using e-mail links as a main tool of communication, and work harder to educate users about the risks they’ll encounter while using the site.

RED TAPE WRESTLING TIPS

The oldest of all Web security advice still applies. Never click on a link you didn’t expect, even if it comes from an old friend. Always type in Web addresses manually. Think before you click. Count to five if you have to.

Landesman also says that social network site users should avoid what she calls “promiscuous friending.” The wider your network of friends, the more likely one of them will get hit with a virus and their computer will attack yours. Limit your friends and you’ll limit your exposure.


This article was completely taken from MSNBC Red Tape Chronicles / WHY PHISHERS LOVE FACEBOOK by Bob Sullivan http://redtape.msnbc.com/2009/06/my-entry.html#posts

May 022009
 

Pets on the interwebs. Search any social network on the internet these days and you will most certainly find a bunch of pet lovers. Search MySpace, facebook or Twitter just a little harder and you will find the pets that belong to those very same pet lovers. Yes, there is a growing number of pets who blog or have their own web pages, and they connect with each other on these social networks.

Take my big boy Boris for example. I blog about him quite often, what is he does, his new toys, etc. When we first got him I even started a blog about his care and growth. Then we both got sick and the blog fell to the wayside. Recently I started dealing more with facebook and Twitter (as MySpace is yesterdays news) and found myself one night setting up accounts for Boris. So now you can follow the exploits of this kitty cat across the web via his blog (he took it over how), twitter and facebook.

I will continue to write about him here, as he is just too darn cote not too (besides he tends to ignore the fact that he has three older sisters who don’t play on the web — you know how it is for us older folks).

Mar 042009
 

Last month (Feb 4th) Facebook changed their terms of service to state that users content would be stored, not unlike email, and, here’s the kicker, that Facebook had rights to your content. So by uploading images, videos, stories etc you were giving Facebook rights to use your content in any way they saw fit.

If I upload something for my friends (or even open to the public) I should have all rights and controls over that content. Facebook should have to come to me to use or profit from what I post before they use it.

I am not the only one that feels this way. Facebook has backed up their TOS to an older version and is now opening it up to discussion and voting (kind of) on Facebook via two groups you can join and post your thoughts about the new TOS. This forum is only open until March 29th so go give them a piece of your mind.

Feb 262009
 

It started out earlier today when my IE6 (I haven’t moved to 7 at work yet as I hate it at home so I tried to keep work from being faced with the same idiotic browsing issues I have here at home) when I got this weird error that the site I was working on had a script on it that was making internet explorer run slow. First time I had ever seen that error message pop up.

Even with all the crap that you get with microsoft’s browser I tend to use it the majority of the time. I know, I know. It is out of a force of habit. But every once in a while I open up Firefox and use it. At work I do this because some sites no longer function properly in IE6.

Anywho, remember how much fun Netscape was and how you had to bounce around from browser to browser because it could not do something the same as the other browser, well this is pretty much the same thing. Why can’t they all just get along?

Case in point this little blog does not work in Firefox but it mostly okay in MSIE7/6. No idea why, but if this looks screwy to you switch over to MSIE and then back again. Sorry.

So do I remove the offending video (I think it is the embedded CBS vids) or leave them there and let ya’ll figure it out? Either way I still hate the incompatibility issues in browsers!

Feb 032009
 

I recently signed up for Twitter after hearing about it for a rather long time from all my techno geek friends. (You’ll see whataslacker’s Tweets over there on the bottom of the right-hand column there.)

Basically it is micro blogging at its best. You type a 140-character post, or tweet, and it goes out to all your followers (we don’t have many, so if your on Twitter check us out and follow us). One of the things I like best about it is that I can post from my cell phone when I am out and about. (I don’t have a smart phone or even internet access on my cell phone. I’m not really complaining because it is free; work pays for it.) I could even get the tweets from my friends right to my phone via text messages (thank goodness for unlimited texting).

So last night when I was on Twitter poking around to see who was there and who I might wish to follow I found LeVar Burton, yes the real LeVar Burton. Apparently someone had been impersonating him on Twitter for quite a while so he came in to clear his good name and decided to stay. He also found (like me) that blogging is not dead as many microbloggers would have you believe, because sometimes 140 characters is not enough to really express yourself.

One of the unique features he has over at LeVarBurton.com is an audio version of the blog. Not really a podcast, but similar. It is Mr. Reading Rainbow himself reading his post to you. Pretty cool. So you can choose to simply read the blog, listen to it or do both at the same time. A very novel approach, I look forward to hearing/reading more from Mr. Burton.

So while I have always been leery of celebs on the web as more often than not it is an impostor or just an over zealous fan, I was glad to find the real LeVar Burton as well as fellow TNG alum Wil Wheaton on the web. Glad to see that some big stars out there are reachable even if only via the web. Thanks guys!

Aug 292008
 

So, you have decided to try and make a buck online. Maybe open an online store. And why not the world of eCommerce is wide open and easy to get started. All you need is a website or host with a shopping cart to get started. Add a few products and a way you go. Of course you can start out having payments emailed to you and pay the high fees involved for the convenience or just have them send you an old fashion check, but eventually you will want to be able to accept credit cards therefore keeping pace with the internet.

A lot of people are afraid of setting up a merchant account or don’t think they could afford it. Guess what? They’re wrong. Merchant Advisors is there to help and they offer free credit card processing with a low per transaction fee that really does beat the other guys. They are the smart choice for both virtual and brick-and-mortar stores. You’ll want to check out their merchant services for more information about their merchant accounts for both physical and online stores.

Aug 252008
 

ClickSmart.com really is the smart way to click when you are looking for a service professional in your area. They take the guesswork out of finding the right person for your job by prescreening the businesses and certifying those who are experts in their field.

So if you are looking for someone to repair a slab leak in Dallas, Texas just go to ClickSmart.com and search for dallas slab leak and they’ll deliver lots of people who can reliably handle your project for you. The site is easy to use simply choose a category then enter your zip code to find a business close by who is waiting for your business.

Aug 242008
 

I just found out my current web host is going to be raising their pricing soon so next year my services will be costing me more. I don’t want to lose my blog or my other pages just because I can no longer afford the hosting. So I am on the search for a new hosting provider. Looking not just for cheap web hosting but also added bonuses like high storage and traffic bandwidth plus mySQL databases, PHP, and other resources as well so I need some help. That’s where the folks over at WebHostingGeeks.com come in handy. They have reviews and ratings for many hosts. So I get to do my research all on one handy website. Now just to figure out which one I’ll be going with. Thanks to this site that should be pretty painless. With needing to host my blog that should not be any problem either, they have a review of the best blog hosting site too. Lots to look over and lots to think about.