Pro-Tibet Facebook Group Hacked!!!

8 01 2009

A NY/DC based Pro-Tibet organization, “Students for a Free Tibet” had their Facebook group hacked as of last summer. I was originally informed of this by colleagues from NY back in August but the details were vague. Supposedly, it used to be an open group meaning anyone could join but now you have to get pre-approved. Got some screenshots of the group pages from a few of my contacts to give you an idea of what’s happening there.

Talk about a complete roundabout. Funny that just like Tibet, this group has been blocked from outsiders and set under “martial law” or whatever that means. At least they’re not shooting the members who leave the group … or I hope so.

I also found an interesting pattern against Tibet advocates. An article from March 2008 stated that there many email addresses belonging to those supportive of the Tibetan cause had been targeted numerous times with keyloggers (software designed to record keyboard strokes and transmit to the hacker) and trojans from fake email addresses and through deceiving pro-Tibet textual content.

Another article traced the emails and came with unsurprising results (hint: IP source was pinpointed to Beijing). The article also states that similar treatment has been dished out to Uygurs and Falun Gong members. Gee. I wonder what kind of person would do such a thing.

Along with the malware trojan distribution to Tibet sympathizers, even websites are being defaced. An expert chimed in – “The resurging trend of individual cyber-attacks, or at least based on the accusations from Western governments, is largely carried out by a new group or new generation of youngsters, who view the CPC government as too weak and too soft toward foreign pressure or insults, and take justice in their own hands.

On a different note, a pro-Israel group decided to take matters into their own hands after Facebook failed to take action against a hate group listed on the popular social networking site. “Israel is not a country! Delist it from Facebook as a country” remained on Facebook despite thousands of complaints from all around the world. The Jewish Internet Defense Force had no choice but to hack the group and take it down.

Unlike the JIDF case, the “Students for a Free Tibet” peace group was hacked by people supporting oppression and violence. There are rumors that one of the members is a white supremacist and found an ally in China’s tyranny against the peaceful Tibetans.

The names of the hackers of the “Students for a Free Tibet” Facebook group shown on the image to the left. Motives unknown. Religious fanatics? Muslims? Christians? Right-wing neo-Nazis? Al-Qaida? Chinese spies?

I’ve received notes that at least one person in the admin group is a non-entity user essentially a fake user controlled by someone else. His profile has since been set to “private.”

Regardless of whoever they be, here’s to hoping these clowns come to their senses and stop supporting a Communist/Totalitarian regime. Otherwise, they should just pack up their bags and move to friendly Beijing.

A message to Facebook administrators and users:

When they came for the gypsies, I did not speak, for I am not a gypsy.

When they came for the Jews, I did not speak, because I wasn’t a Jew.

When they came for the Catholics, I did not speak, for I am not a Catholic.

When they came for me, there was no one left to speak.





Google Themes Your Gmail. Cloud Computing on the rise?

19 11 2008

While at work today sometime early afternoon, I happened to accidentally click on my GMAIL tab on Firefox to find new colors running across the screen. Was it the Websense filter doing it’s job by filtering out some color script? The blue was a deeper hue than I could recall and after going through the settings on the “settings” link, was not able to find a solution for the color change. The only thing referencing to “color” was the labels. Asked Kaci if her Gmail looked any different but she replied with a negative.

Got home and checked Gmail. Surely, this wasn’t the Google Gmail blue we’ve always known. Had to check again so clicked on “Settings” on the top right corner and booyah, there was a new tab “THEMES” listed at the end – not visible when I was at work. Was this merely a cosmetic upgrade?

It was a tough choice between “Planets” and “Ninja” but we now know who won.

After Microsoft launched a half-hearted theme option on their HOTMAIL/LIVE website 2 weeks ago, I guess this was just an inevitability especially since the iGoogle page had that feature as an option some years back. Also, the iGoogle page had been tweaked recently to get all the gadgets incorporated in a seamlessly convenient package. A positive step from Google but a giant leap towards the social acceptance of cloud computing.

When we say “Cloud Computing,” think of being able to use your computer anywhere you go without having to tug along your laptop. The concept thrives on the notion that any computer that can connect to the internet can connect to your “computer” which in actuality, exists on external servers. When you download an MP3 or movie or any file for the matter, or when you write up papers or make charts, they get stored on a server making them accessible from any internet ready machine at your disposal. The trick is to make the UI (User Interface) all effortless by blurring the lines between what is stored on your computer’s physical hard drive and what is stored on your “online” computer.

In the future, when you log on to your computer, the operating system you see and interact (Mac OS / Windows / etc) won’t be stored in your hard drive. Google Docs, Adobe’s Photoshop Express, and Microsoft’s Office Live Workspace are a few examples of commercial software backed by well known companies basing their ideas on online applications. The full featured desktop operating system is on it’s way out and even Microsoft’s making sure they don’t miss out on this trend (hint: Azure).

Simply put, Google’s Gmail themes is the tip of the iceberg of bigger things to come. We are going to be seeing another major technological paradigm shift in the next 5 years and whether we like it or not, it’s already taking place.





N800 … hand’s on that shiny thang

4 01 2008

Quick review on the Nokia N800 Internet Tablet. So after the big sale mentioned in a previous post on the N800, managed to convince my boss to purchase one as a VoIP device. It got there a day or so after the new year and the excellent build-quality got me impressed. The boys over at Ritz Camera even had the OS updated to the stuff running on the new N810 – the linux-based OS2008. The GUI on this small yet fashionable device was very slick and intuitive unlike the Symbian S60-based Nokia’s mobile phone OS.

The 3-4″ desktop screen was a gorgeous bright/clear box in 800×400 resolution and packed in 3 layers just like any regular Windows/Mac desktop. You have the wallpaper, the applets (no icons), and the task bar (on the left column). The thing was pretty slim, it came with a stylus nicely integrated along with a stow-away rotating camera that could be used for video conferencing or picture taking.

After pairing up with my Nokia E61, with 2 strokes with the stylus, holy shit you can explore my phone. All the files (including the system folders) are visible and I was able to extract files ala Windows Explorer style. All very easy to use. The applets are so easy to push out to the desktop. Streaming internet radio worked like a charm.

Another great thing about the N800 is that the OS automatically changes the touchscreen inputs when using fingers or a stylus. Unfortunately, the main reason we got it was for VoIP and the Skpe connection wasn’t very stable. You had to leave the software running in the background in order to receive calls (duh) but if you’re on the move, you could lose your Wireless reception nullifying the use of Skype.

However, by deleting other previously accessed SSID’s in the neighborhood, you can let it auto-connect to the one you like. I couldn’t find a “preferred” list but by deleting the other SSID’s that are within range, you are able to connect automatically. It supports WPA/WPA2 so that was another plus. My boss didn’t sound too happy the last time I talked about it to him but there’s so much more this thing can do, and even he knows it.

There are 5 things which makes N800 better than the N810 (although I’ve never used the latter) in my opinion:

  1. Rotating camera (the N810 has a fixed single front facing camera)
  2. The directional pad is easily accessible on the N800. The N810 requires you to slide out the keyboard to get to the d-pad.
  3. The N810 allows 2 SD card slots while the N810 only has room for 1 mini/microSD. SD cards are inherently cheaper for the capacity than their smaller cousins.
  4. FM Radio Tuner
  5. Price. The N800 is 1/2 the price of the N810.

For the money, there’s nothing else that can beat it for the moment. This is one serious tiny computer that you can carry around and be proud of.





Top 3 Free Virtual Email Hosting

7 11 2007

Gizmodo just announced that Microsoft is done testing with LIVE meaning you can go and setup a free new LIVE Hotmail account with …@live.com as a suffix to your email id. I just registered ninjatales-at-live-dot-com so you should go get yours too with something that resembles your name more closely than brutishbeast@hotmail.com (just an example) or some weird zany nick that you might’ve had instead.

Another thing to consider is that Yahoo! last week officially upgraded all Yahoo! Mail accounts to “unlimited” storage which trumps all other free virtual email hosts.

Yahoo! Mail – Unlimited
MSN Live Mail – 5GB
Google Mail – 4.5GB
MSN Hotmail (unupgraded version) – 1GB

If you haven’t upgraded your Hotmail, you’ll still only have 1GB but fear not, it’ll soon be ported over regardless. So if you prefer the old Hotmail look like me, then you’re better off creating your own new @LIVE.com Hotmail address cuz they’ll look the same and both accounts will have 5GB storage.

Google’s email “beta” service also known as Gmail is now languishing in the bottom (if you ignore the unupgraded Hotmail accounts) with only 4.5GB storage. But it’s the only one that allows you to chat with other Gmail users through your browser when you surf into your email. It should be on the left hand column and you are free to move the list of your friends to the top or below. Offline messages and very basic emoticons are supported.

But out of all them, I prefer Yahoo’s mail service. It’s spam filter isn’t the greatest but if you’re using the “Classic” mode like I do, then it loads the fastest and pretty much is a no-nonsense kinda email server. Very easy to use interface and not slow and laggy and memory intensive like Hotmail or Live.

So pick your poison. Yahoo! Mail gives you the most storage space but has a crappy spam filter and it’s hard to find a good username cuz it’s been out for so long. Gmail runs very fast and is reliable but has the least storage 4.5GB which is still a lot. MSN Live Hotmail lets you pick your own name but how long will that last. Also, Live/Hotmail is very slow and has a lot of dependent functions it needs to call from external locations making the whole loading process a pain in the back sometimes. Too many errors with Live/Hotmail but you get to pick your name unless you have a common name like “allah” or “steve_smith” etc.

EDIT 11/29/07: Gmail storage has been bumped to 5GB and is expected to increase again. The old Hotmail has been taken down and everybody has been switched over to the LIVE servers. This means YAHOO has the worst email service from the 3. 





Scam Alert: Fake eBay emails

7 09 2007

It seems to be a monthly problem these days. I get fake eBay emails about once or twice a month. How do I know it’s a fake? Well for starters, I use another email address for eBay. And also, Hotmail dumped the fake email into my Junk Mail folder. These criminals prey on all people regardless of race, ethnicity, country of origin, nationality, sex, gender, etc BUT the only victims are the elderly and the vast not-quite-overly-well informed crowd.

How to tell fake eBay messages from the real deal:

1. If it goes to your Junk Mail folder on Yahoo/Google/Hotmail, it’s a fake. Can’t verify other email account types but the filters on those 3 are very consistent.

2. Does it look fake? I know most scam artists have taken a lot of time to make sure their emails look like the real deal but then there are always the few fools that go around without even trying.

3. Check the domain name of the sender. This can be spoofed easily but if the domain ain’t right, the email ain’t what it claims to be. What is the “domain” or how do we identify it? It’s the last word before the “.com” or “.org” etc. The one in my email says “ebay8109.com” but if it had said “ebayupdates.com” or “ebaynews.com”, quite a few ppl would’ve gotten conned.

4. As you can see, the scammer/spammer mailed it to a bunch of ppl and it comes up showing as “undisclosed recipients” instead of my email address.

5. If you’ve followed my steps from the previous post, you shouldn’t be getting emails from scam artists to your account that handles your online purchasing.

If you look up the ebay user “smiths” account, you can see that the last time Smith Bilger’s account was used was on Jan 07, 2007. That’s enough to worry anybody. So next time you get an email like this, what you need to do is … look up the profile of the person who’s sending it.

Open a new tab or window on your web-browser and type in http://myworld.ebay.com/ and then enter the name of the user after the / and then hit ENTER!

… a sad twist to all this is that there are many ways to have a false sender’s domain name show up on the screen. It gets a bit technical and more IT experts are working hard to double check with the source of the IP and associated domain name tagged with it. Otherwise, anybody could spoof a domain name. I could send you an email with “Bill.Gates@microsoft.com” as the sender but that’s not going to happen.

If you really think you need to check your eBay account or Yahoo for password renewals etc, open a new browser. Do NOT click CTRL+N or CTRL+T for a new window or new tab. Double-click on the icon of the browser you wish to open and then type in http://www.yahoo.com or http://www.ebay.com or google.com etc and see if there is anything needed to be done there like changing a password, responding to a complaint, etc.

Thank you and have a good weekend!





How to identify a fake link

6 09 2007

How can you tell if a link you’re told to click is taking you to a legitimate website or a fake one?

1. Scammers will attempt to trick you by sending you emails from ones like… messages@eBay8109.com which is obviously coming from the domain eBay8109.com instead of eBay.com and could potentially infect your computer with a virus or have spammers sell your email address to marketers.

2. Even if you check the domain name, sometimes, people fall for stuff like report@ebay.com.somerandomdomainname.org cuz it says “ebay.com” on it. So you wanna make sure you focus on the last DOT COM or ORG or NET etc.

3. Another confusion trick scam artists will use is to make the URL seem too long. This makes the stuff look legit at times. The link below takes you to DAX.net (random name picked) instead of a Yahoo Email account…
http://mail.yahoo.com.dax.net/ym/ShowFolder?rb=Inbox&reset=1&YY=123

Below is what a real Yahoo email URL should look like.
http://us.f112.mail.yahoo.com/ym/ShowFolder?rb=Inbox&reset=1&YY=123

4. Savvy fraudsters will try to pull a visual trick on innocent victims. It’s like a well dressed man. When you see him, you’ll think he’s a well-educated person and he even hands you his Yale graduation certificate but little do you know what you’re getting into.

Basically, this type of scam is about links that say http://www.google.com but upon clicking, they’ll take you to some other website. To make it easier to identify these kinds of ploys, enable the STATUS BAR on your web-browser. For Firefox users, click on VIEW and then make sure the STATUS BAR has a check mark next to it. That way when you place your cursor over a link, on the status bar below, you see the actual link. If you’re not willing to have a status bar take over space on the bottom of your web-browser (Internet Explorer/Firefox/Safari), you can right-click on the link and click on Properties. That should tell you where the link you see is taking you.

5. There’s one more way crooked people on the net can manipulate links to fool you. For example, they’ll ask you to click on links like http://us.f112.999admin.org/www.yahoo.com/check-mail or something along those lines. Although the url you see above may be obvious to many as a fake, there are others who will see the http://www.yahoo.com portion of it and trust it. Anything after the first “/” is a folder. In the case of the above example, there’s a folder called “www.yahoo.com” in the website 999admin.org and this is particularly tricky when you encounter links to eBay “dispute reconciliation” pages which I will talk about later.

Here’s a tip to prevent these issues:
Create 4 different email addresses. One address for family and friends. One for registering stuff online like opening a YouTube account or a WordPress blog site. Another one for ebay and online purchases, banks/credit cards, and other financial stuff. The 4th one will be for random things and you’ll rarely use it. Trust me. It may seem like a lot of work but in the end, there’s nothing better than knowing that you’re taking steps in the right direction away from scam artists and other lowly scums is this shady world of the internet.

Also by following the above tip, you’ll almost NEVER get any SPAM emails at your family/friends email address. And chances of you seeing fraudulent eBay or bank/credit card emails will be slim or zero.