Saturday, January 1, 2011

security Essentials

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Without copyright, all software is free by definition.

Slow down cowboy, even if copyright ended tomorrow, all that needs happen is for a software developer to say, OK -- I will only release a binary to people who sign a contract with me that says I can sue them for breach if they distribute the software, and perhaps includes a liquidated damages provision (*). Just because copyright ends, doesn't mean you have the right to have someone else's work on your own terms. The only thing it would do would be to make it impossible to sue a user who did _not_ contract with the developer -- although a startup screen offering you the ability to agree to certain terms and use the program, or close it and not use the program, would be a way around even that.

Secondly, the end of copyright does not say anything about whether a company will give you the source code, and you'll face some stiff criminal penalties if you try to break in and steal it.

All the end of copyright would do is make the world full of different individual contracts -- reducing the standardization would mean a huge amount additional lawsuits and appeals over definitions and such, and would be very costly to companies and consumers who will ultimately eat those costs in the purchase price.

(*) liquidated damages provisions can be hard to enforce, but are used where it is difficult to calculate actual damages. The thing is, if you end up getting sued, you lose even if you win because winning is costly.

What is Free Software? What is Open Source?

Free Software, as used in this web site, refers to software distributed in source form which can be freely modified and redistributed, or freely modifiable and redistributable software. It does not refer to zero-cost software. This usage of the name "Free Software" was common in the Unix world and recently introduced to the general computer community. Free Software is also referred to as Freed Software, Liberated Software (software libre) or FRS (freely redistributable software). "Open Source" is a marketing name for Free Software, coined in Feb 1998 as an attempt to overcome the confusion over the word "free" in the English language. Open Source refers to the fact that the source code of Free Software is open to and for the world to take, to modify and to reuse. The precise meaning of Free Software is spelled out in the Debian Free Software Guidelines or the Free Software Definition while Open Source is defined officially by the Open Source Definition. Open Source and Free Software refer to, originally the same (around Feb 1998), but now different but largely similiar, set of software, but they emphasize different rationals; see Why ``Free Software'' is better than ``Open Source'' for more explanation.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Editorial Review of AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition

I've been using AVG Free as my anti-virus software for well over a year now. Having had nothing but problems with Norton products, and not liking the myriad processes and services invoked by McAfee, the more configurable AVG has proven a natural fit for my behave-wisely-and only-scan-when-something-seems-amiss philosophy. And, as you might've guessed from the name, it doesn't cost a dime.

My first impression of version 8 was that the company had finally got its GUI act together. Gone were the separate control, test, and vault applets and multiple settings dialogs. All the functions are now under one roof and settings melded into an expandable tree/tab control that makes adjusting the program far more intuitive and far less time consuming. Also, the new look introduced by version 8 is far more attractive than the old one, which often reminded me of Windows 98.

At first blush, version 8 also seemed quite a bit more effective than version 7, though updates to the version 7 virus database helped with that older utility quite a bit when I tested both side by side, as well as versus online scanners such as Trend Micro's House Call and Bit Defender. Unfortunately, as with most AV programs, AVG's false positive rate seems to have gone up as well. That said, AVG8 seemed about on par with the rest of the pack in that regard.

AVG 8 Free doesn't offer the rootkit or full spyware protection that the pay version has, and support is limited to the documentation found on the site and in user forums. However, the free version does offer a new toolbar for your browser to help fight off attacks from that quarter.

For those who share my minimalist philosophy, AVG is still configurable to the point where you can disable it and run it only when you think you've been invaded or have downloaded something suspect. And even when it is running in full auto mode, there are only two services and a system tray applet draining minimal CPU cycles. Alongside the equally low-profile NOD32 (which isn't free) and Antivira, AVG is my favorite AV software

Tip: When things are really a mess, boot to Windows Safe Mode (press F8 when booting) and run AVG 8. As do other AV programs, it will then scan using the command line interface with no nasty services running that might interfere.

Friday, July 10, 2009

SpeedConnect Internet Accelerator

The software solution for a faster internet connection. SpeedConnect Internet Accelerator is a powerful Windows application designed to optimize and speed up

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Spam Survey

I'm pleased to present you with my first ever, terribly non-scientific spam survey. I reviewed 1010 spam messages collected over the course of a month from two domains that I manage. I reviewed each message and categorized it based on the text-only content. I did not open attachments, and I certainly did not follow URLs.

The reason this is non-scientific is because:
1. I failed to collect several key points of data including the actual time range the messages are from.
2. There's an excellent chance that many messages were zapped by my server-based spam filtering thus reducing the range of categories seen here
3. Virus spam isn't represented at all: virus-laden mail never hits my inbox because the server-based filter catches some and my anti-virus software (Trend Micro Internet Security) catches the rest
4. The email client I used for these domains (Mozilla Thunderbird) doesn't always categorize spam properly and I regularly just delete it from my inbox rather than take the time to recategorize the messages as spam so the filter improves. This ensures that spam messages were lost rather than included in the survey.
5. The email addresses are on commercial domains so there aren't any "drive by" spam messages that you'd see on Yahoo, Hotmail or even Gmail now. These would be messages that spammers send by automatically generating (geek-speak for "guessing" using a program) email addresses.

Enough nonsense, on to the results: