Yes You Can Shred a Hard Drive

Mark Berry December 12, 2013

Normally when I decommission a computer, I use Darik’s Boot and Nuke to wipe the hard drive to Department of Defense standards. However, if the hard drive has crashed, you can’t wipe it but it probably still contains recoverable data, so for security it must be destroyed. Also, shredding is probably the only safe disposal option for SSDs, which can’t be wiped using standard programs.

I found a place nearby that does hard drive shredding for $9.95 while you watch.

Before

2013.12.12.Hard drive before shredding

After

2013.12.12.Hard drive after shredding

In San Diego, check out Total Secure Shredding.

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Secure Email Signatures in Outlook 2010

Mark Berry April 8, 2013

I don’t come across Secure MIME (S/MIME) signed emails very often so I thought it might be interesting to post a few screenshots of what happens when you receive a signed email.

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New USPS Shipment Virus Email

Mark Berry April 19, 2012

Here’s a new variation on the airline ticket virus email that I reported on last November. An email supposedly from the United States Postal Service says that I have a parcel waiting in Kansas City, and tells me to open the attached file:

USPS Virus 1

Don’t open the attachment! It’s a virus.

Virus Confirmation

There are several grammatical errors in the email which should make one suspicious. Plus I doubt that the USPS would send an email with zip file attachments. In fact, the USPS has a prominent warning about these emails on their home page that links to this PDF document:

USPS Virus 2

As usual, the icon for the extracted file is disguised to look like a document (in this case PDF), but if you turn off “Hide extensions of known file types” in Windows Explorer > Tools > Folder Options > View, you’ll see that it is actually an executable (.exe) file:

USPS Virus 5

Fortunately, a day and a half after receiving the email, 27 of 42 anti-virus engines are detecting the attachment as a virus, according to VirusTotal:

USPS Virus 3

Microsoft Security Essentials, updated 4/19/2012, catches this one:

USPS Virus 4

Microsoft Security Essentials is free for home use and for small businesses with up to 10 PCs.

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New FedEx Virus Email

Mark Berry January 28, 2012

Back in November, I wrote about an airline ticket virus email. Now it’s FedEx:  today I received this email supposedly from FedEx with a zip file attachment:

Fedex Virus 1

If you open the zip file to see the “invoice,” you’ll see what looks like a a PDF file:

Fedex Virus 2

However if you go to Windows Explorer and uncheck “Hide extensions of known file types,” you’ll see that it is actually an executable file:

Fedex Virus 3

Don’t run it! That means don’t double-click on it to “open” it. It’s got to be a virus.

Another clue:  the subject line refers to USPS but the body refers to FedEx.

This virus bypassed the VIPRE anti-virus on my computer. www.virustotal.com shows that only 2 of 43 engines currently recognize it as a virus.

As usual:  if you don’t recognize the sender, or are not expecting the email, don’t open the attachment! In fact, I’d say just don’t open attachments from anyone unless you personally know the sender (e.g. a friend or colleague) and you are expecting them to send you a file. Big companies are not just not sending email with attachments.

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New Airline Ticket Virus Email

Mark Berry November 3, 2011

Today I received an email supposedly from American Airlines with an Zip file attachment:

American Airlines ticket virus 1

If you open the zip file, you’ll see what looks like a Word document:

American Airlines ticket virus 2

However if you go to Windows Explorer and uncheck “Hide extensions of known file types,” you’ll see that it is actually an executable file:

American Airlines ticket virus 3

Don’t run it! That means don’t double-click on it to “open” it. It’s got to be a virus.

The scary thing is that this virus was delivered directly to my Outlook inbox. It got past Forefront security on Office 365, and my up-to-date VIPRE anti-virus does not flag it as a virus. When I submitted it to www.virustotal.com, only 1 of 42 engines currently recognized it as a virus.

As usual:  if you don’t recognize the sender, or are not expecting the email, don’t open the attachment!

Update January 16 and 19, 2012:  Several people have asked how to remove this virus, the main effect of which is apparently to hide (but not delete) files on your computer. Thanks to the several posters who have offered suggestions. For example, see these comments below:

  • December 16, 2011 – Susan Green
  • December 16, 2011 – Michael
  • January 6, 2012 – Teresa
  • January 16, 2012 – Shea
  • January 19, 2012 – Bob
  • January 19, 2012 – Mark

Use these procedures at your own risk! If you’re not comfortable with the procedures and especially if you don’t have a good backup of your files, find a professional to help.

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Anatomy of a Hacked Web Site

Mark Berry June 15, 2011

Today I visited www.dmachoice.org, the web site of the Direct Marketing Association, intending to update my opt-out preferences. I was surprised when one of the pages took me off their site to a third-party page. When it happened a second time, I started looking for signs that the site had been hacked.

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Cyberheist Not the Bank’s Problem

Mark Berry June 14, 2011

I’ve recently become aware of a legal case where a company lost a huge amount of money due to a computer virus. Hackers used the virus to steal the company’s online banking password, then proceeded to transfer out over half a million dollars. When the account was empty, the bank advanced over $200K of the company’s line of credit.

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Got Backup?

Mark Berry September 29, 2010

Computer after fire, courtesy pyroclastichawk under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License Computer backup is an insurance plan for your data. Like any other insurance, it’s hard to think about when everything is going great, but you sure are glad it’s there when you need it.

Also like insurance, there are lots of factors to consider and lots of potential solutions.

So why do you need backup, exactly? And what kind of backup do you need?

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