Evert Meulie https://evert.meulie.net my personal web log Fri, 09 Apr 2021 12:57:05 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.7.2 1375648 How do I check whether my site has been hacked? https://evert.meulie.net/2020/01/21/how-do-i-check-whether-my-site-has-been-hacked/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss https://evert.meulie.net/2020/01/21/how-do-i-check-whether-my-site-has-been-hacked/#respond Tue, 21 Jan 2020 13:55:26 +0000 https://evert.meulie.net/?p=39814 The last thing anyone wants to hear about their website is: ‘Has your site been hacked? It looks/behaves weird…’Unfortunately, there are plenty of hackers out there, and even more easy targets for hackers. All it takes is someone using an easy-to-guess password, an outdated/insecure web platform, a default password that never got changed, known bugs, …

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The last thing anyone wants to hear about their website is: ‘Has your site been hacked? It looks/behaves weird…’
Unfortunately, there are plenty of hackers out there, and even more easy targets for hackers. All it takes is someone using an easy-to-guess password, an outdated/insecure web platform, a default password that never got changed, known bugs, etc.

Here are a few telltale signs that you could be in trouble:

Google displays a warning about your site in its search results:

Neither of which is a guarantee that your site is currently hacked, but either is definitely a sign that you should check your site with a fine-toothed comb!

Google malware warning
This site may harm your computer.
Google site-hacked warning
This site may be hacked.

Chrome sees red when you access your site.

Google visits (almost) the entire Internet on a regular basis and has its ways to detect when ‘something is rotten in the state of Denmark’, so to speak. It will alert you with a big fat red warning (if you’re using Chrome):

Malware warning, displayed by Chrome
This site ahead contains malware. Attackers currently on [your site] might attempt to install dangerous programs on your computer that steal or delete your information (for example, photos, passwords, messages, and credit cards).

Phishing warming displayed by Chrome
Phishing attack ahead. Attackers on [your site] might try to trick you to steal your information (for example, passwords, messages, or credit card).

Your robots.txt file has been modified.

This method is a beauty of simplicity: All the culprit has to do is add the following two lines above the existing content of the robots.txt et voilà! Google and other search engines will stop indexing the site and anything already indexed will drop in rank or get removed altogether. And let’s face it: unless you have some very special site, the majority of your visitors are organic traffic (aka they found your page/site via a search engine)
User-agent: *
Disallow: /

This will tell anything (mostly search engines) which checks your robots.txt file for information that you want none of your pages indexed.

(WordPress specific) Check the WordPress-FAQ

WordPress provides a thorough list of things to check when you suspect your WordPress-based site has been hacked.

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First sunset of 2020 https://evert.meulie.net/2020/01/01/first-sunset-2020/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss https://evert.meulie.net/2020/01/01/first-sunset-2020/#respond Wed, 01 Jan 2020 15:11:05 +0000 https://evert.meulie.net/?p=39767 The post First sunset of 2020 appeared first on Evert Meulie.

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first sunset of 2020

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Social media dependency – an experiment https://evert.meulie.net/2019/04/25/social-media-dependency-experiment/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss https://evert.meulie.net/2019/04/25/social-media-dependency-experiment/#comments Thu, 25 Apr 2019 10:27:59 +0000 https://evert.meulie.net/?p=39251 People are getting more and more dependent on social media, like Facebook. A minority(?) is downright addicted to social media, but the large majority of people do rely on them for reviews, opinions, and other information. How large that majority is, you may ask? Well, I figured my birthday was a good way to test …

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People are getting more and more dependent on social media, like Facebook. A minority(?) is downright addicted to social media, but the large majority of people do rely on them for reviews, opinions, and other information.

How large that majority is, you may ask? Well, I figured my birthday was a good way to test how dependent people have gotten on Facebook.
Every year I always get boatloads of ‘Happy Birthday’ wishes on Facebook on my birthday, as do you probably. I decided to do a little experiment to find out how many people would actually remember my birthday without being reminded of it by Facebook.
So a day before the 24th I made my birthdate visible to only me on Facebook, which kept Facebook from reminding my friends of the annual event.
Lo and behold, when I woke up on the 24th there were 0 birthday wishes waiting for me on Facebook! Between the start of the 24th (UTC+14:00) and around 14:00 (CEST) (when I re-enabled the visibility of my birthday to my friends), I got less than 5 ‘Happy Birthday’ wishes! They included a couple of family members, someone who has his birthday on the same day as me, and someone who has the birthday exactly 1 week before mine. Only 1 person I’m not sure of how she remembered my birthday. Perhaps she’s old-fashioned and has a paper-based birthday calendar hanging in the crapper, like people used to when I was young(er)…
After 14:00 a few birthday wishes arrived via Facebook, most likely from people who visited the site (Facebook reminds people there of their friends birthdays during the whole day, unlike the reminder the app sends out in the morning.

Any eye-opener? Hardly. More like exactly what I expected.

If you’re willing to copy my little experiment, don’t hesitate to share your experiences here with the rest of us.

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the Final sunset https://evert.meulie.net/2018/12/31/final-sunset/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss https://evert.meulie.net/2018/12/31/final-sunset/#respond Mon, 31 Dec 2018 15:52:23 +0000 https://evert.meulie.net/?p=39099 The final sunset of 2018. I’m looking forward to 2019, and I hope it will be a good/better year.

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  • sunset

The final sunset of 2018. I’m looking forward to 2019, and I hope it will be a good/better year.

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…and another! https://evert.meulie.net/2018/12/20/and-another/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss https://evert.meulie.net/2018/12/20/and-another/#respond Thu, 20 Dec 2018 08:50:10 +0000 https://evert.meulie.net/?p=38874 ‘Tis the season to be jolly… Well, not according to ‘Kamden Creger’, who decided to send me this email (on one of my former email addresses), with the subject ‘keep calm’: Hi I run a forum in the darknet, I sell all kinds of services – above all it is demolition to property and harm. …

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‘Tis the season to be jolly…

Well, not according to ‘Kamden Creger’, who decided to send me this email (on one of my former email addresses), with the subject ‘keep calm’:

Hi

I run a forum in the darknet, I sell all kinds of services – above all it is demolition to property and harm. Basically, all but the shooting. Often main reasons are unrequited love or competition at workplace. This week she contacted me and gave me the mission of empty sourness in your face. Standard practice – fast, hurts, forever. Without too much fuss. I get receive only after finishing the task. So, now I offer you pay me to be inactive, I suggest this to nearly all the victims. If I do not receive money from you, then my man will fulfill the order. If you give me money, besides to my inactivity, I will provide you the information that I have about the client. After finishing the mission, I always spend the performer, so I have a choice, to get $1300 from you for information about the customer and my inaction, or to receive $ 4000 from the customer, but with a big probability of spending the performer.

I’m getting payments in bitcoins, its my bitcoin address – 1E8GsnJ7UAwVpFhARMNdcfJ6a1GLPvWNZ8
The amount I told above.
Two days to decide and pay.

Don’t go for nonsense like this. A good giveaway that this person isn’t serious is that he wants payment in dollars, but deposited in a bitcoin wallet. 😁
Report it to the proper authorities (assuming you reside in a country where they actually give a cr*p. Here in Norway the current advice from the authorities is to delete emails like this, and that’s it! 😲 )

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Tom, Michael, Ken & Robin https://evert.meulie.net/2018/12/05/tom-michael-ken-robin/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss https://evert.meulie.net/2018/12/05/tom-michael-ken-robin/#respond Wed, 05 Dec 2018 10:24:14 +0000 https://evert.meulie.net/?p=38768 Yeah, I know it probably doesn’t have the same ring to it as John, Paul, George & Ringo used to have, but Tom (Clancy), Michael (Crichton), Ken (Follett) & Robin (Cook) are the 4 gents who currently take up quite a bit of my time. Since I’m still ‘between jobs’, and winter has made it to …

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Tom Clancy, Robin Cook, Michael Crichton, Ken Follett

Yeah, I know it probably doesn’t have the same ring to it as John, Paul, George & Ringo used to have, but Tom (Clancy), Michael (Crichton), Ken (Follett) & Robin (Cook) are the 4 gents who currently take up quite a bit of my time.

Since I’m still ‘between jobs’, and winter has made it to Norway, I spend quite a bit of my time with reading. I read books by many different authors, covering many genres, but over time my favourites are clearly:

  • Tom Clancy (1947-2013), known for his technically detailed espionage and military science storylines set during and after the Cold War.
  • Michael Crichton (1942-2008), known for his work in the science fiction, thriller, and medical fiction genres.
  • Ken Follett (1949- ), known for his thrillers and historical novels.
  • Robin Cook (1940- ), known for combining medical writing with the thriller genre.

As you can see on my Goodreads profile, I’m currently going through the books of Robin Cook, more or less in chronological order. When I’m done with his works I may do the same with Michael Crichton. Haven’t quite decided yet.

One thing’s for certain: almost all of their books are so much better than movies/TV series based on them. I have watched quite a few movies & TV series based on works by Michael Crichton, Ken Follett & Robin Cook and so far the only advantage of them, over the books, is that they take less time to consummate. 😎

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Another blackmail attempt… https://evert.meulie.net/2018/07/25/another-blackmail-attempt/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss https://evert.meulie.net/2018/07/25/another-blackmail-attempt/#comments Wed, 25 Jul 2018 20:40:06 +0000 https://evert.meulie.net/?p=38372 Just received another blackmail attempt in the email. Do they really think any person with half a brain falls for these…? Posting it here so that anyone else who got this knows it should be ignored.The following email originated from Korry Maykis (ujpamgnk[at]outlook.com) and was sent to one of my previous email accounts. The email’s …

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Just received another blackmail attempt in the email. Do they really think any person with half a brain falls for these…?

Posting it here so that anyone else who got this knows it should be ignored.
The following email originated from Korry Maykis (ujpamgnk[at]outlook.com) and was sent to one of my previous email accounts. The email’s subject mentioned a username/password combo I’m sure I’ve used sometimes, way back. Unfortunately, I don’t recall which site(s) I used it on.

Lets get directly to the purpose. Not one person has paid me to investigate you. You do not know me and you’re most likely thinking why you are getting this e mail?

In fact, I actually placed a software on the 18+ videos (pornographic material) web-site and there’s more, you visited this site to experience fun (you know what I mean). When you were watching videos, your browser initiated working as a RDP with a keylogger which provided me accessibility to your display and also cam. after that, my software program obtained your complete contacts from your Messenger, FB, and e-mailaccount. And then I created a double-screen video. 1st part shows the video you were watching (you have a fine taste : )), and next part displays the view of your cam, and it is u.

You have got two different choices. We should check out these choices in aspects:

Very first solution is to disregard this e mail. Consequently, I most certainly will send your actual video recording to every one of your personal contacts and think concerning the shame you will definitely get. Not to mention should you be in an affair, how it would affect?

In the second place solution will be to pay me $7000. Lets think of it as a donation. In this instance, I most certainly will asap discard your video recording. You can carry on with your life like this never occurred and you never will hear back again from me.

You’ll make the payment by Bitcoin (if you do not know this, search for “how to buy bitcoin” in Google).

BTC Address to send to: 1Cjy1GiHXCAEh3DokmCjmtXYWk7xHLV4Gm [case-sensitive, copy and paste it]

If you have been thinking of going to the law, good, this e mail can not be traced back to me. I have dealt with my actions. I am also not attempting to charge you much, I prefer to be paid. I’ve a special pixel within this e-mail, and now I know that you have read this e mail. You now have one day to make the payment. If I do not get the BitCoins, I will definitely send out your video to all of your contacts including members of your family, colleagues, and many others. Nonetheless, if I receive the payment, I will destroy the recording immediately. It is a nonnegotiable offer, that being said don’t waste my personal time and yours by responding to this mail. If you need proof, reply with Yes! & I will send your video to your 10 friends.

They’re making quite a few assumptions here:

  • I have colleagues
  • I have at least 10 friends 😎

Don’t fall for nonsense like this, and please leave a comment if you’ve received a similar email. And if you can give some idea of which site they got the username/password combo mentioned in the subject from, that would be swell 😎

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Basic website requirements for 2020 https://evert.meulie.net/2018/02/19/basic-website-requirements-2020/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss https://evert.meulie.net/2018/02/19/basic-website-requirements-2020/#respond Mon, 19 Feb 2018 14:05:59 +0000 https://evert.meulie.net/?p=38266 This list of basic website requirements isn’t aimed at site developers, but at site owners.When your developers/designers say your site is ready, you can use this shortlist to make sure that what they’ve delivered is up to par.(And I wanna bet that it isn’t and that they’ll have to go another round to get it …

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checklist

This list of basic website requirements isn’t aimed at site developers, but at site owners.
When your developers/designers say your site is ready, you can use this shortlist to make sure that what they’ve delivered is up to par.
(And I wanna bet that it isn’t and that they’ll have to go another round to get it there…!) 😎

The list:

  • No broken links
  • A valid/proper SSL-certificate
  • No mixed content
  • Best practices followed: PageSpeed & YSlow
  • Mobile-friendly / AMP
  • SEO

I’ll go a bit more into detail for each of these items:

No internal broken links whatsoever

This has applied to websites since the beginning of times. There is no excuse to have any internal 404 (Not found) errors on your website. Period.
It’s also good practice to verify all links to external pages as well every now and then. If you’re using a CMS like WordPress, all you need is a plugin like Broken Link Checker to automate this process.

Both internal and external links are easily checked with LinkChecker. Run this before you put your site live, and you won’t look like a newcomer with a 404-littered-site.

SSL is a must in 2020

Google will start to name and shame any site which doesn’t use HTTPS, starting summer 2018. They have been pushing towards HTTPS for a while now, and more and more sites have deployed SSL on their web servers. Some currently already force everyone on https, others leave it up to the visitors.

Keep in mind that not just any SSL certificate will do. You need a proper certificate and an equally properly configured server. Luckily the good people at the SSL Labs division of Qualys provide an excellent tool which lets you verify your certificate: the SSL Server Test.
As a rule of thumb, all your servers should rate A or A+.
(And please make sure your server listens to HTTPS for both [yourdomain] & www.[yourdomain].?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss You’d be surprised how many companies screw up this utterly basic item.

An A or A+ SSL-certificate doesn’t have to cost you anything. SSL certificates used to be quite expensive. Thanks to the Internet Security Research Group (ISRG), this is a thing of the past. Their Let’s Encrypt certificate authority lets you issue rock-solid SSL-certificates which are totally free of charge.

Another good alternative would be CloudFlare. The site you’re reading this post on has been using CloudFlare for many years now, and we’ve been very satisfied with their (free!) services.
Free SSL-certificates is just one of the many perks one gets when using CloudFlare. Check out their site for all the security & performance features they offer, most of them free of charge.
If you want to see how their SSL-certificates rate, check the rating for this site. 😎

No mixed content

Now that you have an SSL-certificate, make sure that all elements are served via HTTPS. There’s a good chance that your site contains hard-coded references to elements served over HTTP. As soon as you have one/more of these, it’s about as bad as having no SSL to begin with…
LexiConn Internet Services lets you test for this quite easily with their Why No Padlock? tool.

PageSpeed & YSlow

These are 2 lists of best practices, developed by Google and Yahoo. Thanks to GTmetrix checking how well your site ranks is a breeze. Enter your site URL on their site (at the very least check your front page there) and they’ll give it a percentage-score between 0-100 for both PageSpeed & YSlow. Again, as a rule of thumb, you should have > 75 for both. GTmetrix will tell you exactly why your score is (far) below 100 so you can inform your site developers what you want to have improved.

Mobile-Friendly

In addition to GTmetrix, check your site also with the Mobile-Friendly Test provided by Google. We’re living in 2020 and you’re most likely getting more visitors from mobile phones & tablets than from desktop/laptops.

Another check to perform is whether your site serves valid AMP pages, where applicable. AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages, a Google-backed project designed as an open standard for any publisher to have pages load quickly on mobile devices.

SEO

[coming soon]

If your site checks off on this little list of basic website requirements, you’re good to go for 2020 😎

[I’ll expand/correct this post if/when needed.]

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Men, women… and ladies at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics https://evert.meulie.net/2018/02/14/men-women-ladies-pyeongchang-2018-winter-olympics/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss https://evert.meulie.net/2018/02/14/men-women-ladies-pyeongchang-2018-winter-olympics/#respond Wed, 14 Feb 2018 12:05:45 +0000 https://evert.meulie.net/?p=38242 Men, women… and ladies I was checking out the various Olympic events on the official 2018 Winter Olympics website and happened to notice that, whereas males are always referred to as ‘men’, it’s not quite so simple when it comes to the females.Of the 15 sports which make up the 2018 Winter Olympics, 5 refer …

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PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics

Men, women… and ladies

I was checking out the various Olympic events on the official 2018 Winter Olympics website and happened to notice that, whereas males are always referred to as ‘men’, it’s not quite so simple when it comes to the females.
Of the 15 sports which make up the 2018 Winter Olympics, 5 refer to females as ‘ladies’ & 9 refer to them as ‘women’ (1 sport, Nordic combined, will first accept any female participation at the 2022 Winter Olympics).

Here’s the whole list:

sportwomen/ladies
Alpine skiingladies
Biathlonwomen
Bobsleighwomen
Cross-country skiingwomen
Curlingwomen
Figure skatingladies
Freestyle skiingwomen
Ice hockeywomen
Lugewomen
Nordic combinedn/a
Short track speed skatingwomen
Skeletonwomen
Ski jumpingladies
Snowboardingladies
Speed skatingladies

Why is this? Well… I haven’t the foggiest idea! Why would a female be a lady when she skates on a 400m track (speed skating), but ‘only’ a woman when she does the 111.111m track (short track speed skating)?

Gentlemen?

In case you wonder why males are always referred to as ‘men’ and never as ‘gentlemen’ (the male version of ‘ladies’): Well… we may have Sjinkie to ‘thank’ for that! 😉

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Mark Zuckerberg / Miles Teller https://evert.meulie.net/2017/08/02/mark-zuckerberg-miles-teller/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss https://evert.meulie.net/2017/08/02/mark-zuckerberg-miles-teller/#respond Wed, 02 Aug 2017 20:32:04 +0000 https://evert.meulie.net/?p=37914 Were these guys separated at birth? Mark Zuckerberg is quite the celeb, but I dare to present that Miles Teller looks like his long-lost twin, especially during his first scene in ‘Project X’.I know they do differ about 3 years in age, but I still think they could be brothers… at the very least!

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Mark Zuckerberg
Miles Teller

Were these guys separated at birth? Mark Zuckerberg is quite the celeb, but I dare to present that Miles Teller looks like his long-lost twin, especially during his first scene in ‘Project X’.
I know they do differ about 3 years in age, but I still think they could be brothers… at the very least!

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Useful USB-C accessories for the OnePlus 5 https://evert.meulie.net/2017/07/09/useful-usb-c-accessories-oneplus-5/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss https://evert.meulie.net/2017/07/09/useful-usb-c-accessories-oneplus-5/#respond Sun, 09 Jul 2017 12:36:35 +0000 https://evert.meulie.net/?p=37842 Now that I’ve picked up my spankin’ new OnePlus 5 phone, I started to look a bit in what I can plug into it’s USB-C port, besides the included Dash Charge adapter. Here are some useful USB-C accessories for the OnePlus 5 (and other devices which use USB-C):

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Now that I’ve picked up my spankin’ new OnePlus 5 phone, I started to look a bit in what I can plug into it’s USB-C port, besides the included Dash Charge adapter. Here are some useful USB-C accessories for the OnePlus 5 (and other devices which use USB-C):

The Nekteck 5.4A USB-C Car Charger Adapter. It features an additional standard USB A port allows your to Charge Non-USBC devices at FULL speed simultaneously 5.4A(Shared by 2 ports: 3.0A, 2.4A). It uses Smart sense IC Technology so that each port intelligently identifies your device and seeks to maximise its charging speed.
The Anker PowerCore+ 20100. This is a 20100mAh Portable Charger with USB-C Port. The aluminum-alloy casing holds components that are capable of providing USB and USB-C output, with PowerIQ high-speed charging technology.
The original OnePlus OTG cable/adapter. With this OTG adapter (you can hardly call it a cable, since it's only 10 cm long) you can connect a USB stick or drive to your phone, and access its data.

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Finishing a chapter https://evert.meulie.net/2017/06/19/finishing-a-chapter/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss https://evert.meulie.net/2017/06/19/finishing-a-chapter/#respond Mon, 19 Jun 2017 07:09:30 +0000 https://evert.meulie.net/?p=37786 9 years ago I wrote a blog post about starting a new job in Sarpsborg, at Omnicom AS. And what (almost) 9 years they have been: We moved twice into bigger, newer, better offices. The number of employees has more than doubled. A second office was opened (in Oslo). MarkedsPartner (the subsidiary of Omnicom where …

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Volumes_of_the_Encyclopædia_Britannica_(9th_edition,_1875–1889)9 years ago I wrote a blog post about starting a new job in Sarpsborg, at Omnicom AS.

And what (almost) 9 years they have been:

  • We moved twice into bigger, newer, better offices.
  • The number of employees has more than doubled.
  • A second office was opened (in Oslo).
  • MarkedsPartner (the subsidiary of Omnicom where most of my colleagues are employed) has become a force to be reckoned with when it comes to Inbound Marketing.

Finishing a chapter

But now the time has come for them and me to go our separate ways.
I’m going to miss my colleagues. I’ve learned a lot from them, and I hope they picked up a thing or two from me as well. I would like to thank each and every one of them for the time together. In some cases, this was as short as a couple of months, but many have been there with me the entire time.
(I could list all their names here, but out of fear of forgetting one, I won’t do that.)

What’s next?

I have nothing concrete yet on what I will do next but I am checking out some alternatives and considering options. Hopefully, I’ll land something in the region since commuting to/from Oslo on a daily basis isn’t too high on my wish list…

First a bit of R&R though. As IT-sjef I was ‘on the job’ more or less 24/7, and it sure feels good to go ‘offline’ for a bit, every now and then. 🙂

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Biggest cyber-attack ever! https://evert.meulie.net/2017/05/13/biggest-cyber-attack-ever/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss https://evert.meulie.net/2017/05/13/biggest-cyber-attack-ever/#respond Sat, 13 May 2017 06:24:10 +0000 https://evert.meulie.net/?p=37674 Yesterday, a large-scale cyber-attack was launched, using WanaCrypt0r 2.0 (aka WannaCry). WanaCrypt0r 2.0 is an exploit tool created by the US government (the NSA to be more precise). The tool uses a vulnerability which was present in most Microsoft Windows versions, but which was patched on March 14th, 2017 (currently supported Windows versions) and retrospectively …

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Screenshot of Wana Decrypt0r 2.0.Yesterday, a large-scale cyber-attack was launched, using WanaCrypt0r 2.0 (aka WannaCry).
WanaCrypt0r 2.0 is an exploit tool created by the US government (the NSA to be more precise). The tool uses a vulnerability which was present in most Microsoft Windows versions, but which was patched on March 14th, 2017 (currently supported Windows versions) and retrospectively in May for some older versions of Windows. This tool and others were stolen from the NSA last year by a hacker crew calling themselves The Shadow Brokers (TSB).

Who was affected?

Many companies and organisations were affected. To name a few:

Why did it stop?

Allededly the spreading of the ransomware has been stopped by a UK cybersecurity researcher. He found and activated a kill-switch in the software. This switch was hardcoded into the malware, probably in case the creator wanted to stop it from spreading further. By registering a certain domain name, one which the ransomware checks before it starts encrypting, he was able to stop the ransomware dead in its tracks. It doesn’t cure already infected systems, but it keeps the ransomware from becoming active on any new machines (provided they’re connected to the Internet).
He also set up an online tracker, which illustrates the worldwide spread of the ransomware. Based on this data, the New York Times has created a nice animated map.

Be vigilant!

I hope this attack is an eyeopener for many people. The Internet is a (potentially) scary place, just like for example the highway. There are rules to abide to, common sense to stick to, and protection to use. There is a reason people don’t ride bicycles on the highway, but instead enclose themselves in a metal box, with safety belts and air bags. Cruising the Internet is no different. You also need your metal box (firewall), safety belts (antivirus software) and your air bags (backup).

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How to speed up virtual machines https://evert.meulie.net/2017/03/26/speed-virtual-machines/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss https://evert.meulie.net/2017/03/26/speed-virtual-machines/#respond Sun, 26 Mar 2017 14:17:32 +0000 https://evert.meulie.net/?p=37645 How to speed up virtual machines has been a popular topic lately. A group of virtual machines, each machine having its own demands & quirks, can be very ‘hungry’ when it comes to resources. The VM host needs to provide environments (virtual hardware) for multiple operating systems to run simultaneously. If you abide by the …

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virtual machines

How to speed up virtual machines has been a popular topic lately. A group of virtual machines, each machine having its own demands & quirks, can be very ‘hungry’ when it comes to resources. The VM host needs to provide environments (virtual hardware) for multiple operating systems to run simultaneously. If you abide by the following tips & tricks you should be able to make optimal use of your VM host, no matter whether you use Parallels, KVM, VMware, VirtualBox, or another platform.

Make sure that VIA VT, AMD-V or Intel VT-x is enabled.

VIA VT, AMD-V & Intel VT-x are processor extensions from which virtualization benefits. Most modern processors will have support for one of these extensions, but they’re not always enabled by default. Some VM hosts/guests will require you to enable it in the software as well, after enabling it in the BIOS.

Tell your antivirus program to ignore VM guest disk images.

There’s no point for antivirus programs on the VM host to scan the (huge!) disk images of your VM guests. It won’t be able to detect possible virii on a VM guest anyway. Some antivirus programs are smart enough to ignore the disk images of your VM guests automatically, but it doesn’t hurt to exclude them anyway.

(Oh, and do install antivirus on your VM guests! A virtual machine can just as easily get infected as a physical machine.)

Install more RAM in your VM host, and assign it to your VM guests.

The more RAM your VM host has, the smoother it runs. At the very least you should never ever allocate more RAM to your VM guests than your VM host has at its disposal.
To VM guests applies the same as to physical machines: try to meet the recommended system requirements given by the OS manufacturer. Here are some examples:

Windows 71-2 GB
Windows 101-2 GB
Ubuntu256-512 MB
Minix28 MB

Use SSD for your VM guests.

This is pretty much a no-brainer: SSD’s are faster than HDD’s. Period.

Use preallocated disks instead of dynamically allocated disks.

Usually, you’ll have the choice between 2 kinds of disks when you create a VM guest: pre-allocated or dynamically allocated disks. If you have the disk space, always go for pre-allocated/fixed. Yes, this will take up more disk space on the host (a 100GB disk for your VM guest will occupy 100GB on the host straight from the get-go), but because all disk space is already allocated there will be less overhead when new files are added on the VM guest because the VM host doesn’t need to allocate more disk space.

Assign more cores/’CPU’s’ to your VM guest.

As an absolute minimum, you should always assign two or more cores/’CPU’ to each VM guest. Only the most ancient operating systems are single core. As soon as manufacturers began developing multicore processors, OS manufacturers began putting these to good use.
The first dual core processor dates back to 2001, so any VM guest with an OS made after that year should have multiple cores allocated.

Tune the video settings of your VM guests.

Some VM hosts, like VirtualBox, have options to enable 2D/3D video acceleration. Be sure to enable these if your VM guests support them.

Install the drivers & tools which come with your VM host.

One of the first things you should do after setting up a new VM guest is installing the tools & drivers which came with the VM host:

ParallelsParallels Tools
KVMVirtIO drivers
VirtualBoxGuest Additions
VMwareVMware Tools

The drivers in these packages make your VM guest run more smoothly since they’re made especially by the makers of your virtual ‘hardware’.
Be sure to keep these drivers & tools up to date. It can make a huge difference in performance, especially if your VM guest supports dynamically allocated memory.

Tune your VM guests

Just because they’re virtual machines instead of physical ones doesn’t mean you have to treat them all that different. Just like you would disable certain programs from running at boot to speed up your physical machine, should you also disable these on your virtual machines.

Shop around

There’s no clear winner when it comes to picking a VM host. Some people swear by VMware, others by VirtualBox, and yet others (including me) prefer a KVM-based host.

If you implement one, more or even all of the above, you will speed up virtual machines.

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The Global Shipping Program of eBay – be aware! https://evert.meulie.net/2016/09/21/ebay-global-shipping-program-aware/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss https://evert.meulie.net/2016/09/21/ebay-global-shipping-program-aware/#respond Wed, 21 Sep 2016 18:43:55 +0000 https://evert.meulie.net/?p=37539 First a bit on what the eBay Global Shipping Program entails: (CTRL-C/CTRL-V from http://pages.ebay.com/help/buy/shipping-globally.html ) The Global Shipping Program makes it easier for buyers in some countries outside the US and UK to purchase items from these sellers. The US or UK seller ships the item to a local global shipping provider, and the global …

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First a bit on what the eBay Global Shipping Program entails: (CTRL-C/CTRL-V from http://pages.ebay.com/help/buy/shipping-globally.html?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss )

The Global Shipping Program makes it easier for buyers in some countries outside the US and UK to purchase items from these sellers. The US or UK seller ships the item to a local global shipping provider, and the global shipping provider ships the item to you.

When you purchase an item through the Global Shipping Program:

  • You pay any applicable import charges upfront. There are no additional charges at delivery.
  • You get international tracking at no additional charge.
  • Your purchase is eligible for coverage through the eBay Money Back Guarantee and PayPal Purchase Protection.

Important things to keep in mind:

  • The charges that you see in the item listing are not final until you pay for the item. These charges could change if, for example, you change your shipping address during checkout, or if the applicable import rules change before you complete your payment.

…and this is where they got me big time recently.
I was purchasing a book on eBay for $251. Shipping cost was $17.17. So far, so good. But then they slap a whopping $70.81 on top of that! ‘Import Charges’, according to the receipt. Since there’s no import tax on books here in Norway, I decided to check with eBay customer service:

The reason why you are seeing additional fees labeled as “Import Charges” is because the seller has listed the item under Global Shipping Program (GSP).

Global Shipping Program is a third party shipper that will take care of your items’ international shipment, documentations, custom fees and taxes. So when your package arrives, you are no longer going to pay for anything. All of these costs are combined as import charges in the order details of your items. So when you see ‘import charges’ on your invoice or with the item listings, this may or may not actually cover all of the following costs:

  • Value added taxes
  • Duties
  • Tariffs
  • Excise taxes
  • Other amounts assessed or levied by any government involved in the import of items
  • Third party brokerage fees
  • Penalties
  • Classification charges associated with the assignment of a Harmonized System classification code
  • Charges for export compliance screening and verification and the assignment of an Export Control Classification Number (ECCN)
  • Operational expenses associated with short-term loss recovery

They even give me a way out:

I certainly understand that you don’t wish to be charged with the $70 upon checkout. For this, you have to communicate with your seller and rearrange to cancel this transaction and relist the item not under the GSP. Then you can buy the item again with only the item’s price and the shipping cost.

…unfortunately the seller wasn’t interested in this, so I was left with no choice but to pay 28% extra for the book…

Lesson learned: Do not buy books listed under the eBay GSP if you live in Norway (or any other country where there’s no import tax on books.

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