Why eCards are a bad idea all round

December 21st, 2008

This is the time of year when many people will be sending holiday greetings to one another. And a popular method of doing this is to send eCards (email greetings cards), but I'm here to tell you that this is a bad idea all round.

The attraction of eCards is obvious. It's a cheap, inexpensive, and quick way of sending greetings to someone. All you need is the recipient'sĀ email address and you're done.

So why are eCards a bad idea? Well, it's because the idea of eCards has been latched onto by scammers as a way of getting you to click on links and visit a website that could hold malware. And that's the problem - how do you tell the difference between a legitimate eCard sent by your friend of family and one sent by a scammer? It's tricky, which is why I recommend that people ignore all emails claiming to be eCards. There are too many scammers out there trying to get you to click on links or open attachments.

Rather than sending people eCards, and therefore encouraging them to click on links and making them vulnerable to hackers, just send your friends and family a standard email. This is both better and safer.

Happy Holidays!

Microsoft to IE users – Don’t switch browsers!!!

December 16th, 2008

While security experts are urging Internet Explorer users to find a safer browser, Microsoft is recommending users stick with IE:

"I cannot recommend people switch due to this one flaw," said John Curran, head of Microsoft UK's Windows group.

Sorry Microsoft, but this sounds like daft advice to me. It's easy enough for people to have multiple browsers installed on their PCs and to switch temporarily when one is under attack. I usually have IE, Firefox, Chrome and Opera installed on my systems and regularly run more than one browser.

December’s Patch Tuesday

December 9th, 2008

Final Patch Tuesday of the year:


  • MS08-070: Vulnerabilities in Visual Basic 6.0 Runtime Extended Files (ActiveX Controls) Could Allow Remote Code Execution (932349)
  • MS08-071: Vulnerabilities in GDI Could Allow Remote Code Execution (956802)
  • MS08-072: Vulnerabilities in Microsoft Office Word Could Allow Remote Code Execution (957173)
  • MS08-073: Cumulative Security Update for Internet Explorer (958215)
  • MS08-074: Vulnerabilities in Microsoft Office Excel Could Allow Remote Code Execution (959070)
  • MS08-075: Vulnerabilities in Windows Search Could Allow Remote Code Execution (959349)


  • MS08-076: Vulnerabilities in Windows Media Components Could Allow Remote Code Execution (959807)
  • MS08-077: Vulnerability in Microsoft Office SharePoint Server Could Cause Elevation of Privilege (957175)

Microsoft’s counterfeit software gallery

December 6th, 2008

When shopping for software bargains you always need to be on the lookout for people selling counterfeit software. Online auction sites such as eBay are a haven for pirates trying to offload fake software on users so you need your wits about you.

To make life easier, Microsoft has revamped the counterfeit software gallery which highlights examples from three different categories of counterfeit software:

  • High-grade: Software that appears professionally produced and attempts to include the piracy prevention features of genuine Microsoft software. 
  • Mid-grade: Software that may appear professionally produced, but makes no attempt to include the piracy prevention features of genuine Microsoft software. 
  • Low-grade: Software that does not attempt to appear to be genuine Microsoft software. 

High-grade counterfeits are tricky to spot, but are quite rare. The most prolific fakes are the low-grade kind and very easy to spot.

A couple of other points worth making:

  • It's not just Microsoft software that's subject to being ripped off. Products such as Adobe Photoshop are also extensively pirated.
  • If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Inside Nokia’s “smash labs”

December 3rd, 2008

Ever wondered how companies test the overall durability of products such as mobile phones? Well here's your chance to see how Nokia test how well their phones will put up with being hit, dropped, abraded, exposed to rain, exposed to dust and a whole host of other nasties.

My favorite - impact test!

MobileCrunch Nokia Testing Labs Tour: Spanky from mobilecrunch on Vimeo.
The pant leg test is also interesting!

MobileCrunch Nokia Testing Labs Tour: Pant leg test from mobilecrunch on Vimeo.