Monday, November 21, 2005

Explain me this

Update Nov 22 2005:

Well, that was a waste of good bile. I guess I am too sensitive to the impossibility of achieving confidence in my computer security.

My friend Ken wondered whether there might be some function in Firefox or the Adobe Acrobat software that would interpret the text, "" as a link even though it is not set up as, and did not appear to be, a link.

It seems that the version of Adobe Acrobat that I'm using on this Linux box does that, or maybe the text was actually set up as a non-apparent link when the pdf was composed. Why they would do that escapes me, especially when there were plenty of other links in the document that were plainly identifiable as links. I tend to think it's a function of Acrobat to interpret text like that as a link. Maybe I'll test that some time.

What remains unexplained is why there were two browser windows open to that site when I closed the Adobe Acrobat window. I don't know about that part, but it could be that my finger was resting too heavily on the mouse button when I happened to pass the mouse over the text of interest, though it certainly seems unlikely after I've checked my mouse's condition, which is just fine.



Goddamn it! Maybe I'm just too sensitive to the impossibility of achieving reasonable confidence in my computer security, but explain me this:

A couple of minutes ago I was reading the Department of Homeland Security's "DHS Daily Open Source Infrastructure Report 21 Nov 2005", which I receive from them via email as a pdf attachment. The pdf report can also be downloaded at the link in the title of this post.

In the report was the item below (the formatting below is fucked up but I'll leave it as it came across from the Adobe copy to the Firefox paste):

7. November 18, Associated Press — Website operators admit role in phishing ring. Six more
people pleaded guilty Thursday, November 17, to operating a Website that investigators
claimed was one of the largest online centers for trafficking in stolen identity information and
credit cards. With others who pleaded guilty in recent weeks, that brings to 12 people who
acknowledged roles with the site,, which had about 4,000 members
who dealt with at least 1.5 million stolen credit card numbers and caused more than $4 million
in losses, federal prosecutors said. "The losses incurred were to the issuing banks and
MasterCard, Visa, American Express, who reimbursed those who were victimized by these
crimes," Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin O'Dowd said. The site used techniques such as phishing
and spamming to illegally obtain credit and bank card information, which were used to buy
goods on the Internet.
So, why the hell, when I closed the Acrobat window where I was viewing the DHS daily report, were there TWO browser windows open to the web site?

Nothing like this has ever happened before. I did NOT click on any links while I was viewing the DHS pdf, on top of which there is no link to that site in the DHS report. Nothing that looks like a link, anyway.

I'm running Firefox 1.0.7 (the latest version), on a Linux (Linspire 5) machine with no other OS on board. I am not running as root.

This just pisses me off. First, what caused those windows to open to that site? Next, if the site is an ID theft site, why the hell is it still on line?

Then there's that Sony rootkit shit (from what I'm able to tell is not on my Windows machine, which may be because I just don't buy CD's any more, and I'm certainly not going to buy any CD's any time soon, especially bearing any brand I can associate with Sony, and I'll not buy anything at all from Sony (or that even smells like their horse) any time soon. Rant rant rant!).

Well, that's off my chest. NOT!

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