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BREAKING NEWS: Worm Misses Its Target
Updated 2:55pm NZST
Some quick-thinking and smart moves by security experts has helped thwart an attempt to bring down the US White House webserver. A massive denial of service attack was due to be launched by a wdiespread computer worm at around mid-day NZ time -- but it all turned out to be a bit of a flop really.


Updated Information...

Lighten Up 20 July 2001 Edition
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Million $ Ideas
At last, the contents of Aardvark's "million-dollar ideas" notebook are revealed for all to see!
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Separated at Birth?
This site asks the question -- were William Shatner and our very own Paul Holmes separated at birth?

Funny Signs
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 steal.

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    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 banking customers.

    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 Australian-owned.

    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 legal page:

    "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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