Writing Blog

February 5, 2008

Keyloggers protection

This is one of a series of articles I posted for magiKomputer.
You can view the original version at:
* * http://magikomputer.blogspot.com/2008/02/keyloggers-protection.html

Keylogging works by recording the keystrokes you type on the keyboard to a log file that can be transmitted to a third party. Keyloggers can capture user names, passwords, account numbers, social security numbers or any other confidential information that you type using your keyboard.

There are two types of Keystroke loggers:

  • Hardware key loggers are devices that are attached to the keyboard cable or installed inside the keyboard. There are commercially available products of this kind, even dedicated keyboards with key logging functionality.
  • Software key loggers are usually simple programs that can capture the keystrokes the user is typing, They can also record mouse clicks, files opened and closed, sites visited on the Internet, etc. A more advanced type of key loggers can also capture text from windows and make screenshots of what displayed on the screen.

While writing keylogging programs is simple, a different matter is installing it inside the victim’s computer without getting caught and downloading the data that has been logged without being traced.

The best protection against keyloggers is to avoid them in the first place.
A few golden rules:

  • Use a Firewall
  • Use an Anti-virus program
  • Use an Anti-spyware program
  • Never click on links sent by unknown people and be very careful of the known ones since their address might be faked. If in doubt, check the e-mail headers.
  • Never execute attachments on e-mails that are executable files (EXE, COM, SCR, etc). No exceptions here.
  • Never execute programs from the Internet that lack a security certificate. Except from Microsoft update and very few others, there should be no reason for executing any programs from the web.
  • Run a virus and spyware check on ALL files that come from external sources (USB pen, DVDs, etc)

Additional measures that can be taken are:
Monitoring what programs are running on your computer
Monitor your network whenever an application attempts to make a network connection.
Use an automatic form filler programs that prevent keylogging since they’re not using the keyboard.

There are commercially available anti-keyloggers, but if you’re looking for a free alternative try Spybot Search & Destroy, a freeware tool that does a pretty decent job at detecting all kinds of spyware:

Windows Defender, a free program that helps protect your computer against pop-ups, slow performance, and security threats caused by spyware: http://www.microsoft.com/athome/security/spyware/software/default.mspx

The Sysinternals web site hosts several utilities to help you manage, troubleshoot and diagnose Windows systems and applications.

File & Disk File and Disk Utilities
Utilities for viewing and monitoring file and disk access and usage.
Networking Networking Utilities
Networking tools that range from connection monitors to resource security analyzers.
Process Process Utilities
Utilities for looking under the hood to see what processes are doing and the resources they are consuming.
Security Security Utilities
Security configuration and management utilities, including rootkit and spyware hunting programs.
System System Information
Utilities for looking at system resource usage and configuration.
Miscellaneous Miscellaneous Utilities
A collection of diverse utilities that includes a screen saver, presentation aid, and debugging tool.

In this article:
http://www.lazybit.com/index.php/a/2007/03/01/free_keylogger_protection
Alex provides some free and valuable advice about keylogging protection such as using the on-screen keyboard available in W2000 and XP that can be launched by executing “osk” or the technique of mouse highlighting and overwriting.

Or you can also download Click-N-Type virtual keyboard free from:
http://www.lakefolks.org/cnt/

Click for other popular layouts

Also worth reading is Wikipedia’s article on Keystroke logging:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keystroke_logging

And a simple trick to fool keyloggers:
http://cups.cs.cmu.edu/soups/2006/posters/herley-poster_abstract.pdf

November 14, 2005

The Curse of the Amiga

This article was first posted by my alter-ego laparanoia at the magiKomputer‘s Blog.
You can view the original version at:
* http://magikomputer.blogspot.com/2005/11/curse-of-amiga.html

Amiga Survivor DrawingIs the Amiga Dead, Yet?
Not Yet.

Is it cursed?
No doubt.

Even me, as I was writing this post, had Firefox crashed for the first time ever and lost about an hour’s work. Previously I had tried to post from Elicit and Zoundry with similar results. In more than 3 years blogging I had NEVER experienced anything even remotely similar. When I restarted, my right button search function had vanished, and all those circumstances put together have made this post the one that has taken more effort to create by far. But, you see, I am an obstinate bastard, specially when it comes to something I’ve spent so many years working and playing with (or was rather the other way around) and that is so close to my heart as the Amiga.

I have been a fanatic user of the Amiga from 1991 until the turn of the millennium, and I still think it was the best machine mankind has ever created. What has happened to this computer is a real techno-tragedy and I am sure it has altered the course of History, and not for the Good.

I haven’t tried the latest hardware and software, but here is an excellent review of Jeremy Reimer, who bought an AmigaOne Micro with OS4 on November 2004:

The Micro-AmigaOne and Amiga OS4 Developer Prerelease
Jay Miner started the Amiga Inc. computer company in 1982 before Commodore bought them out.
The Amiga computer was first commercialized released in 1985 by Commodore, that eventually went bankrupt in April 1994.
Commodore was bought at liquidation by Escom AG, who had no real interest in the Amiga. Escom itself went bankrupt a few years later, and the Amiga was briefly bought out by set-top manufacturer VISCorp, before they too filed for liquidation.
Its new owner was Gateway Computers, who were only interested in Commodore’s old patent portfolio. When it became increasingly clear that Gateway was never going to do anything with the Amiga, a consortium of investors calling themselves Amino Development bought out the rights to the Amiga hardware and OS in 1999.
The new AmigaOne motherboards were first released in 2002, but there was no OS to go with them, so they shipped with Debian PPC Linux. After an agonizing 18-month wait, the first Developer Prerelease CD of OS4 was shipped to AmigaOne owners worldwide.

AmigaOne OS4
OS4 boots remarkably quickly. From a cold boot, including waiting for power up, BIOS messages, straight to a usable desktop took slightly over 30 seconds. A “warm boot,” which bypasses the BIOS start-up and merely reloads the operating system, takes slightly over 10 seconds.

One feature of the original custom Amiga graphics chips was that you could “pull” down screens with the mouse to see screens that were behind them. This feature, called “draggable screens,” was never duplicated by any graphics card manufacturer since, so sadly it is not available on the AmigaOne.

A cold boot, including power up, BIOS messages, takes less than what it takes you to get accommodated in your chair. Compare that to any Windows/Mac OS start-up. They usually give me enough time to go and make coffee (Mac OSX is not that sluggish, to be honest).
I am sorry to hear that there is no “draggable screens“.
Another cool feature was the ability of clicking on several menu items at once (holding right-side button and clicking with the left), and get the commands batch-processed at once.

Many people, upon reading the hardware specs of the Micro Amiga One, will feel that the performance (800MHz PowerPC 750FX, SDR RAM) is far below modern gear. This is true to a certain extent, but it does not give the whole picture. AmigaOS was originally written for a 7.14 MHz 68000, and the last Classic version released by Commodore, 3.1, was optimized for a 12 MHz 68020 platform. According to Hyperion, over 90% of the OS code has been converted from 68k to PPC, and the only code yet to be translated (serial port code, AREXX macro routines), does not typically impact on performance.
Because the OS is so small (About 60MB on disk for a complete install), it fits very nicely in 256MB of RAM, with room for several applications, most of which have a similarly small memory footprint. This means that you can run the OS and multitask between several applications without ever swapping to the disk.

I have created and run multimedia presentations for TV stations on as little as an Amiga 500, 1Mb RAM, 720 Kb floppy, no Hard Drive. Gosh, I miss Scala so much…

In speeches around the world, Alan Redhouse of Eyetech always opens by saying that everyone always asks them: “Why are you doing this?” And the answer he gives, with a smile, is “We don’t know!” There is an infectious enthusiasm among Amiga users…

Infectious enthusiasm defines the feeling of Amiga users at that time.
As of today, if you visit Amiga’s Headquarters (http://www.amiga.com/) you’ll be presented with the latest technology in … Jackpots!!!?
It has broken my heart.

Better visit this one: http://www.amiga.org/

Is there a future for the Amiga?
Some people seem to think so:

http://www.amigaworld.net/
http://www.amitopia.no/

Jeremy Reimer has a website full of undiscovered gems at:
http://www.pegasus3d.com/jer_main.html
where among other things he promotes StudlyOS, as the Only Operating System You Will Ever Need.
I wish I had the time to try it out.
I liked the Amigan comment on it, though:

“StudlyOS sucks!!!1111 Y00 think itz c00l but your rong!!!!!11111 I Cant run it on my Am1ga so what yoos is it????/ My Am1ga beats yor peecee anyday!!!!!! !!!11111111 Peecee even with StudlyOS cant beet Amiga because Amiga rules!!!! Amiga iz better because it is Amiga!!!1111 Nothing else is Amiga!!!11111” – B1FF


The Amiga Boing Ball is a mythical object in the computer industry. It was created as an example of the machines ability. The demo showed a red and white ball bouncing around the screen and interacting with the environment- it bounced off the walls, spun, while multitasking in the background.

That demo displaying smooth animation in full colorwhen other computers were only just managing color display, helped sell over a million Amigas at a time when a computer was a synonym of science fiction.

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