Separated at Birth?
the contents of Aardvark's "million-dollar ideas" notebook
are revealed for all to see!
This site asks the question -- were William Shatner and our very own Paul
Holmes separated at birth?
Here's another of those rare sites that will make you laugh out-loud as it
displays a page filled with some of the most stupid and hilarious signs
seen in the "real world."
This Page Can Not Be Displayed
That ubiquitous IIS server message -- the way Microsoft should have done it.
Personal Computer Security
Are you concerned that someone could make off with your PC and all the valuable
data you've got stored on it? Well here is the site for you. Using just a
few easily obtained materials, you can make your PC almost impossible to
Is Online Banking Secure Enough?
Several Australian news publications are carrying the details of security
breaches which have given hackers access to the accounts of online
This obviously raises an important question -- is online banking
secure enough to entrust your life savings to -- particularly in light
of the fact that several of NZ's larger banks are effectively
Perhaps the biggest threat comes from trojans such as back-orifice (BO)
and others which are able to covertly monitor and report everything
that happens on a victim's PC. If you're infected with BO then
it makes no difference that the bank is using hard encryption or that
your password is not stored in any form on your PC -- the hacker
owns you and all that you type.
Of course (to row my own boat again) there is a method which would make
even the most determined BO hacker ineffective at stealing money from
your online banking service -- but nobody seems to be using it.
I'm now going to use the WestPacTrust (WSP) online banking service as an example --
it may or may not be better or worse than any of the others -- I chose it
only because WSP is one of the largest banks in Australasia.
Note, I would have linked to the WSP site but for this statement on their
"Please contact WestpacTrust for prior permission if you wish to create a
hypertext link to any page on this WestpacTrust Website. If you create a link
to the WestpacTrust Website, you remain fully responsible for any
consequences of that link, whether direct or indirect and you will protect
WestpacTrust against all loss, damage, liability, costs or expense arising from
or in connection with the link."
On the "Terms and Conditions" page, the WSP site says that customers of its online
banking service will be limited to a loss not exceeding $50 unless
"you have kept a written record of your Internet password, or you have saved
your Internet password in an electronic form" or something similar (there's
a list of seven things that will negate the liability limit).
The problem is that to be secure, a password should not be short and it should
not be memorable. The best passwords are a random assortment of letters of
upper and lower case combined with numeric digits. How you're supposed to
remember a long, cryptic password without writing it down they don't tell you.
Add to this that good security requires you to change that long, unmemorable
password at regular intervals and you've got a problem. What's more, if you
do forget the password -- you'll be locked out after three tries at guessing.
Then there is the bold statement:
"At WestpacTrust we use multiple layers of security to ensure
your Online Banking sessions are safe and secure."
But on the "Legal Information" page it says:
"When transmitting your personal information over the Internet, you should
remember that the Internet is not a secure environment"
Hmm... either it's secure or it's not guys -- make up your minds!
The bottom line is that if you're using online banking then you absolutely
must run anti-virus and firewall software. You must keep your OS, browser
and email software updated to the latest security revision and you really
ought to read the terms and conditions to find out whether, if a hacker
cleans out your account, you're complying with all the rules and therefore
qualify to get most of that money back.
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