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Jad Chambers Blog

Posts from August 2012


It's Time to Fort Up
Well, in an internet sense anyway.  There is a new computer virus making the rounds right now, and it is a nasty one.  It’s classified by some as “ransomware” and it is part of a money and identity phishing scam.   It’s called officially (by the FBI) the “Reveton” virus.  But it’s commonly being called the” FBI warning virus” or the “FBI MoneyPak” virus.  This virus brings up an un-closable window telling you that the FBI has locked your computer for one of several reasons that they then list.  I’ve included a screencap of an example lock out screen, and that one could look kind of legitimate.  The scammers have even used the same headers as the FBI website in that version.

And yes, there are several different versions of the Reveton out there.  One of them even turns on your computers webcam (if you have one) suggesting that someone is watching or monitoring you.  The virus tells you that you have been linked to a website known for illegal activities (child porn, software piracy, human trafficking, and other crimes) and to “unlock” your computer you must pay a fine.  There is a link to pay via MoneyPak, which is an untraceable, internet reloadable, prepaid-type credit card.  MoneyPak is a preferred method of payment for all kinds of illegal and fraudulent deals.

Just an aside here… shame on Green Dot Corp. who owns MoneyPak.  I really think any company which sets up a system like this just begging to be used by criminals… should be treated as criminals themselves.  After all they are making money off of every person scammed by the Reveton, which makes them no better than the scammers.  I really think there could be a pretty good case out there to prosecute them for “conspiracy to commit wire fraud” or something similar, but that won’t ever happen.  I just don’t think it’s right for a company profit from the illegal transactions they harbor and make possible.

Back to the virus itself.  What makes the Reveton worse than most is it is a “drive-by” virus.  Most viruses are contracted by downloading infected files or opening infected attachments.  The Reveton can spread to your computer simply by visiting an infected website, which is why I suggest “forting up.”  Until the Microsoft and the anti-virus companies come up with some good anti-virus programs, patches, and fixes it would be a good idea to stay away from websites you don’t know.  A lot of people just “google” something and click on the link that comes up, and hope it is the site that will help them or it’s the one they were looking for.  But before clicking on ANY link… make sure you know where it is that link is taking you.  In most browsers if you hold the mouse pointer over a link, the resulting URL is displayed near the bottom left hand of the screen.  So check it, and then see what domain the link is to.  Is it a reputable and well known and used website… or have you never heard of it before.

If you’ve never heard of it before, do one of two things.  Either you can look up the domain on one of many anti-virus web safety sites like Norton Safe Web, Mcafee SiteAdvisor, AVG Threat Labs, or something similar.  Or, you could just not take the chance.  Most everything you would ever need can be found on trusted and safe websites that millions of people use every day without incident.

So, think before you click.

Getting rid of this virus is a bear.  This is a “you’ll probably have to take it to a specialist” fix, also known as an “expensive” fix.  So in this case, prevention is the best solution.  One last thing.  Another reason to know what domain you are going to, is so you can warn others. If you go to a site and contract the virus… TELL SOMEBODY.  Call the Better Business Bureau, contact the police and talk to the cybercrime unit, get on another computer and use social media and internet forums to warn as many people as you can away from that infected website.

For more information on the Reveton virus, go to www.fbi.gov.  If you hold your mouse over the link I just provided, you can see that the link’s destination URL is displayed near the bottom left hand of the window.  Get into the habit of checking that display and you need not worry about the Reveton.
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It's Actually Our Fault
It's a moment of realization that causes great chagrin.  If you've ever caught yourself doing it, that's what chagrin actually feels like.  It's that moment when you realize that YOU'VE created or helped to create a situation you verbally complain about.
 
I've said it for years.  Hollywood is out of ideas, no one has any original ideas anymore, and everything these days is a remake or a sequel.  No one will take a chance on a new IP (that's Intellectual Property; and it's a common abbreviation that means a book, movie, or videogame that's not part of an existing franchise) anymore.  I love that there are authors like Jim Butcher and Brandon Sanderson still starting up new book series instead of just resting on and expanding their established ones.  I love that there are directors like Richard Kelly (who is hugely talented and creates must-see movies) and even M. Night Shyamalan (who is terrible and makes poorly written trash for dummies, but at least it's original trash) out there making new and original movies.  It's even worse in my geek pastime of video games.  For every independently developed interesting new IP game that comes out there's a hundred more AAA big studio developed shovelware sequels which are just the same game with a bigger number stapled on after the title.
 
3 was the sequel number of the year in 2011.  Battlefield 3, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Killzone 3, Gears of War 3, Mass Effect 3, and F3AR (actually it's FEAR 3, but they did spell it F3AR on the box... so I pronounce it fuh-THREE-er.)  And with the exception of Mass Effect (which I never got into but have heard good things about) those games are all just shovelware garbage.  I hate them because I hate sequels and remakes.  Why can't people make new IP's anymore.  Are we just not creative anymore or all the ideas taken?
 
It's an argument I've made before, and loudly.  And it's an opinion I still hold.  However, I DO reluctantly get and understand the simple answer.  And every so often I the painful realization hits me... I'm part of the problem.  A straightforward, simple, and good explanation of the problem is discussed here in a Yahoo News feature.  But in short, we are the problem.  The audience WANTS sequels and remakes, and rewards them with dumptrucks full of cash.  I complain about it, but what movies have I gone to see on opening weekend this year?  The Avengers (with 5 Marvel lead-in movies)  and the Dark Knight Returns (or Nolan's Batman 3.)  Video Games; it's just as bad.  My favorites of last year were Skyrim (the Elder Scrolls 5) and Zelda: Skyward Sword (basically Zelda 8.)
 
So I really don't have any room to complain about originality.  But I want to be a part of a solution, as opposed to just being a part of the problem.  Unfortunately I'm not talented enough to write my own new IP book, movie, or videogame... so I need to do something else.  So I'll get the ball rolling on something we could all do.  In the comment section below, suggest your favorite new IP.  Something you've seen in the last couple of years that's not a sequel, prequel, remake, or reboot.  Something new we can all see and something to remind us that creativity still exists.
 
I'll even go first.  At the Palace recently I saw "Cabin in the Woods."  This is another movie from Avengers director Joss Whedon, and I really enjoyed it.  It does re-use the whole "cabin in the woods" cliché horror movie theme... but it does it on purpose and is 1 part self-parody, 1 part totally unpredictable, 1 part Lovecraft horror, and ALL AWESOME.  Lots of blood and gore, decent (heh) amount of profanity, nudity and sexual situations, and loads of graphic violence so... not for everybody.
 
But definitely for me.

Oh, and I'd like to add GO TEAM USA.  I was really disappointed in the lack of results on the poll I put on the Steve and Ted Facebook page about the Olympics.  Well I love this country and I salute and cheer on its athletes.  I'd like to think that fellow conservatives (who make up the majority of KNSS listeners) would be a little more patriotic.  But then again, it's not the first example of "selective patriotism" I've seen.
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