May. 9th, 2014

thewayne: (Cyranose)
The game goes by various names, we'll just refer to it as Telephone. In this game, you get everyone in the party arrayed in a circle or line, and you whisper a simple secret in the first person's ear. They then whisper that secret in the next person's ear, and so on, until everyone has heard and repeated it. What you get out of the far side is something totally different than what started. I have no idea what you might end up with it you started the phrase 'The Pope is Jewish and from Venus', it'd be amusing.

Researchers took that concept and had people write stories and pass them down, and noticed that bias was applied along the way. They ultimately found that "...the more often a tale gets repeated, the more skewed it becomes, with each new version distorting the facts a bit more.

As a result, one of the parties involved—the one the storyteller and listener inherently identify with—is increasingly portrayed in a more favorable light. Within just a few tellings, an ambiguous event is transformed into a clear-cut case of “our side” being wronged."

This explains a little bit about the conservative and tea party movements and misinformation.
thewayne: (Cyranose)
Obviously computer viruses have matured in their attacks over the last 30-some years. It used to be that a virus could be examined and compared against a database of signatures to see if it would be allowed or not, but that's not enough these days. In the bad guy malware markets, they now have automated test servers that take your malware and bounce it against every anti-virus product out there, and if it hits any of them, it alters the code and encrypts it until it's undetectable. Once your malware passes this test, it is uploaded back on the bad guy's distribution server and they receive a text message saying that it's good to go out and play.

This works for a limited amount of time, as soon as someone knows they've been compromised, they can isolate the software and send it off to the A/V people for analysis and signature updating, still, it might give the bad guys a day or so to run amok and possibly get some valuable information, until the A/V software is updated and the malware is re-processed and the cycle continues.

So basically the truism continues: The price of computer security is eternal vigilance. Anti-virus software is a good first-line defense, it will trap old malware and even newer malware where the obfuscator/encryptor didn't do a very good job. You just have to remain vigilant about opening attachments and careful about running software from untrusted sites. Regardless, you're still potentially vulnerable to zero-day exploits, not to mention the total lack of control over your information that's being held by other people.

It's an ugly world out there, you gotta stay on your toes, and you might still get compromised. I personally fell for a social engineering attack last week: got an email that Yahoo was doing an upgrade and you needed to change your password. I still mentally smack myself upside the head: I didn't look at the freakin' URL on the update page, and I kid ou not, it was Bob's Plumbing. I can't believe I did that. I immediately changed it again to a different pattern than the one that I use for everything else. So even experienced people occasionally have bouts of the stupid.

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