Friday, September 12, 2008

9/11 Reflections

We, as a nation, including the world, will be remembering the 9/11 attacks. The question still pops up at times;

"Where were you that fateful day?"

I was still asleep, having spent part of the night doing some stuff on the computer. Vibrations from a neighbor's pounding on the front door woke me to let me know what was going on. It finally happened...

I turned on the TV... The Twin Towers fell after two planes were flown into it. The Pentagon had a plane flown into it. A fourth plane nosedived into a field in Shanksville, PA, after the passengers revolted against the hijackers.

I went into the IRC (Internet Relay Chat) and checked in with friends on there and in email. I didn't logoff til late that night. They were all safe, those I knew in NYC and two who worked at the Pentagon, despite some getting home very late if at all or stayed somewhere. The local metro still ran, but the Pentagon station was closed. Traffic out of DC was gridlock. The area's Kiss & Rides in Metro stations were madhouses of foot and vehicle traffic. Air traffic was grounded for nearly a week.

One year later, on personal business, I went to NYC. I made a side trip to the former WTC site. Limited traffic around the area was allowed, and media cameras didn't quite show everything. Some of the buildings still had some frontal damage.

Just yesterday, the Pentagon unveiled their memorial. I plan on visiting it sometime in the future.

Can we prevent another 9/11? Unfortunately, there's no one answer to that. More security at airports? Maybe not. Add on security and then some at bus and train stations? Going totally paranoid isn't going to do it either. Everyone needs to do their part rather than trusting the government and law enforcement for protection.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

NTID Laptop Thief Using Info?

Earlier today I got back from visiting the local Capital One bank. Yesterday, I had received an account opening statement from them which had the correct address, but wrong addressee. I took a look inside to find that it was an account that had been opened in someone else's name and SSN but the account opener used my address. It was dated a day or two after the theft.

After checking with some people, I found that the SSN and birth date did not belong to them. So, off to the Capital One location I went.

I talked with the bank people and they thanked me for bringing it to their attention. While I was there, the person talked with the fraud people and they said that there were over 100 accounts opened online recently. I gave him my name and SSN for them to place on a fraud alert watch so if the person tries to open an account with my info, it will not go through. I also put a fraud alert on my own bank account at another bank.

I don't think I'd have gotten this far had I used the relay. It was worth the gas and time to get there, a 35 mile round trip.

One thing of interest. It is a classic scheme to send things like this not to the person the information belongs to, but elsewhere in the same city, somewhere in the same state or another state. Then when nothing happens after a period of time, the person may then start using and abusing it.

So again, everyone, safeguard your personal information.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Give Out Your Password? NOT! NEVER!

There's some AIM screen names, most notably "powerball4real8," that are being used to scam more deaf out there. Watch also for any with "emerson" in it, like "pacemerson247" that kept getting others. This time it's of someone who is trying to ask you for your password to "open the briefcase" to get the person their money.

First, this is another variation of the Nigerian scam.

Second, this is a gross violation of your account security. Plenty of damage they can do with your account.

Third, it's against the TOS of any service out there to give out your password.

So in short, do NOT give out your password, no matter what. I made this mistake some years ago back in college and had it locked down shortly afterwards. Apparently, someone combined a bunch of files into one huge file and sent it to various people, including the system operators and, unbelievably, the head of operations! Needless to say, I had to do some explaining. I've even broken into a few accounts myself due to weak passwords and my knowing the person well.

Worse stuff can be done with more sensitive accounts. Again, do not give out your passwords. A password like cat-0cargo3 is quite difficult to brute-force crack. The longer your password, the longer it takes.