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James O'Neill's blog
security and malware
An unexpected call from a help desk? Hang up.
My phone rang: it was my dad. Father/son combinations don’t ring to chat like mother/daughter ones do, and Dad had been having computer problems. Specifically, Excel had been crashing but managing to recover his work. Each time it had offered to send data to Microsoft and each time he had declined. Then...
18 Oct 2010
IE 8 is safest. Fact.
Every now and then a news story comes up which reminds us that if people with bad intentions, even sensible people can fall into traps on-line. There was one such story last week where friends of the victim said she was “the sensible one” – if she wasn’t unusually gullible it could happen to anyone....
15 Mar 2010
The Zombie cookie apocalypse (or how flash bypasses privacy)
Earlier this week I went to “Oxford Geek Night” and the title of one of title of one of the sessions was “The Zombie Cookie apocalypse” delivered by David Sheldon (I wish his slides were on-line so you could read more and I could give him a proper credit), it wasn’t the only informative session – there...
19 Feb 2010
Windows 7 activation update.
Over on the Windows blog there is a post talking about the update we are about to send out which is designed to catch some of the tricks being used by large scale pirates against Windows 7. There was a time were an update to this technology would have me reaching for my tin hat and flame-proof...
11 Feb 2010
Interview: Cybercrime , defence against the dark arts.
When I was at Tech-ed in Berlin a couple of weeks ago I recorded an interview with Andy Malone, one of our MVPs, as a follow-up the session he ran on cybercrime. The results have now been posted , and apart from wishing the camera crew had told me just how awful I looked on camera I think it’s quite...
25 Nov 2009
Microsoft Security Essentials
Somehow, in all the other activities of the last couple of weeks I missed the release of Microsoft Security Essentials which is our FREE* anti-virus / anti-malware product aimed at home users. (We have the more business oriented Forefront Client Security as well). My experience with it has been too limited...
16 Oct 2009
Sophos error: facts not found
Having begun my previous post with an explanation of “ I have a professional disregard for …” it bubbles up again… Quite near were I live is the headquarters of Sophos, as a local company I should be well disposed to them but I’ve had occasion before now to roll my eyes at what their spokespeople have...
18 Aug 2009
Can I get published if I say that rain is wet or snow is cold ?
I saw this article earlier today. “The vast majority of all critical Microsoft vulnerabilities, some 92 per cent, could have been mitigated by removing the administrator rights of Windows users, a new report has revealed.” Strike out the numbers and the product specifics “Most vulnerabilities can mitigated...
6 Feb 2009
Safe on-line part 2 (in praise of John Lewis)
I’ve talked about brand values and somewhere along the line I sure I said that I choose to shop at Waitrose instead of Tesco or Sainsbury’s. Since Waitrose is part of the John Lewis partnership I have had one of their credit cards for a while (my local Waitrose was one of the first where you could scan...
25 Nov 2008
Get Safe Online ‘08
The First time I ever worked with Steve was on GSOL the first year it ran. It’s become an annual event, and I hope that no-one who regularly reads this blog needs to be told too much about on-line safety. It’s pretty simple stuff. Keep your machine patched Use Anti-virus Software Use a firewall Be careful...
18 Nov 2008
Security, Security, Security.
The story last week that someone had left a secret folder of documents on a train - which were then given to the BBC brought back memories for me. Shortly after my wife and I had moved into our first house, she brought home a brown paper envelope she had found on a train. In it were some legal papers...
17 Jun 2008
While you were sleeping ... an attack on bitlocker etc
I'm always suspicious of people talking down security vulnerabilities, but I don't like to see them over-hyped either; so I'm going down the former path. You are allowed to be skeptical. A couple of people have mailed me this morning about this story, picked up by the register (a couple even forwarded...
22 Feb 2008
Vista vulnerabilities - a comparison.
Perhaps it's a bit strong to say "if complete and utter chaos was lightning, Jeff Jones would be the sort to stand on a hilltop in a thunderstorm wearing wet copper armour and shouting 'All gods are bastards' " (as a favourite quote has it) but you must admit it's a better opening than "Blimey, XP was...
25 Jan 2008
Vista SP1 to drop "Reduced functionality mode"
I guess I'm not the only person in Microsoft who thought that stopping software working when it seemed to be pirated was a good idea. To be honest, I still do. However, the process has to be infallible. If it's 99.9% correct and you sell 100 Million copies that's 100,000 people who get the wrong experience...
9 Dec 2007
Do you trust your search engine ?
No, not a question about the information Google keeps on you... Catching up on my news stories from last week I found Hackers hijack web search results - which was "a campaign to poison web searches and trick people into visiting malicious websites". The sites concerned used previously patched vulnerabilities...
4 Dec 2007
A police state ?
I've talked about serendipity a few times before. And a couple of strands in the News today show it at work. The information commissioner has served notices on 4 polices forces telling them that some information they hold about people is no longer relevant and should be deleted. The BBC has examples...
1 Nov 2007
Windows Activation (Server 2008 style)
One of the things we've done with Windows over the years is to try to make life a bit harder for people who pirate it. This isn't just about protecting Microsoft's revenue (or even keeping that revenue out of the hands of criminals) but investigations have found that pirates expose their "customers"...
18 Oct 2007
One of those "Oh no" moments
Someone was asking me about gadgets, and went off looking for something and turned up a page at Gadgets.co.uk innocently in a corner is something which you'd expect to find in Q's lab in a James Bond movie, but not in the "Amuse your friends by plugging into their PC" aisle. A key logger. KeyShark is...
8 Oct 2007
Ooops. I gave out some duff information about limiting logons
As Eileen has already said our team spent last week at the BETT show . My first "proper" IT job after leaving university was working for RM who are the biggest supplier of IT to education and I did a couple of BETT shows when I worked for them; it's the main UK IT-in-education show and it's huge - 30...
18 Jan 2007
How much spam ?!?
Here's a question for you. How much of the mail that comes to Microsoft is spam ? 50% ? Microsoft is a well know company and we publish a lot of our addresses, so its probably a bit worse than you'd expect... 60% ? This morning I was doing an interviewing Tim Hynes about Microsoft Insight for the Tech...
6 Nov 2006
Apple's real problems shipping a virus
Apple have had to post the following on their website We recently discovered that a small number - less than 1% - of the Video iPods available for purchase after September 12, 2006, left our contract manufacturer carrying the Windows RavMonE.exe virus This known virus affects only Windows computers,...
18 Oct 2006
Get Safe On-line
Steve is off working on Get Safe On-line this week. The BBC reports a government sponsored survey released to coincide with the push says 21% of people felt most at risk of "net crime" compared with 16% who were most afraid of being burgled. When I worked on last years campaign I drew parallels between...
9 Oct 2006
Get Safe On-Line, Richard Hammond, and Paypal
We're getting ready to re-run the Get Safe Online campaign. I worked on it last year in my old role, which was how I first got to know Steve. TV presenter Richard Hammond was involved in last years launch, and those who worked with him came back saying what a nice chap he was and how he was genuinely...
21 Sep 2006
DRM: is there a lesson in cricket's PR disaster ?
I think the world of the people I'm working with at the moment, and of my previous manager too. But it wasn't always so. Some of the people I worked with in the past showed me the that anything you say in e-mail can be used in evidence against you: I learnt the value of digital rights management the...
28 Aug 2006
The one minute guide to Microsoft anti-malware
One of the best sessions I went to at Tech-Ready last week was one which didn't deliver what it advertised. Billed as "Anti-Malware technologies in Windows Vista" it morphed into a tour of what we we're doing in this area. What surprised me was that I couldn't have mapped out all of the following .....
4 Aug 2006
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