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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Fri 19th Jun 2009

Your home or business PC could be being used and reused by multiple criminal elements behind your back, security specialists have warned.

 Cybercriminals are trading the digital assets of thousands of PCs online without users' knowledge, said Finjan. The security supplier has discovered a trading platform where criminals are buying and selling digital assets that have been stolen by cyber criminals.

The Golden Cash network is a trading platform that matches buyers and sellers. Finjan revealed this in the second issue of its Cybercrime Intelligence Report 2009.

On the buyer side there are cybercriminals that buy access to the PC that has been infected. Once a hacker infects a PC it can then be sold on the trading platform to the criminals.

Prices vary greatly. Finjan said in Australia 1,000 infections have been sold for $100, while the same number can be picked up for as little as $5 in other countries, but mainly in the Far East.

"These batches of 1,000 infected PCs will be resold in the market by the buyer," said Finjan.

"An infected machine is no longer a one-time asset for an individual criminal. It has evolved into a digital asset that the cybercriminal can trade online - over and over again," added Finjan.

The Golden Cash platform also offers information about how to send Malware and creating a botnet.

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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 15th Jun 2009
Power sockets can be used to eavesdrop on what people type on a computer.

Security researchers found that poor shielding on some keyboard cables means useful data can be leaked about each character typed.

By analysing the information leaking onto power circuits, the researchers could see what a target was typing.

The attack has been demonstrated to work at a distance of up to 15m, but refinement may mean it could work over much longer distances.

Hotel attack

"Our goal is to show that information leaks in the most unexpected ways and can be retrieved," wrote Andrea Barisani and Daniele Bianco, of security firm Inverse Path, in a paper describing their work.

The research focused on the cables used to connect PS/2 keyboards to desktop PCs.

Usefully, said the pair, the six wires inside a PS/2 cable are typically "close to each other and poorly shielded". This means that information travelling along the data wire, when a key is pressed, leaks onto the earth (ground in the US) wire in the same cable.

The earth wire, via the PC's power unit, ultimately connects to the plug in the power socket, and from there information leaks out onto the circuit supplying electricity to a room.

Even better, said the researchers, data travels along PS/2 cables one bit at a time and uses a clock speed far lower than any other PC component. Both these qualities make it easy to pick out voltage changes caused by key presses.

A digital oscilloscope was used to gather data about voltage changes on a power line and filters were used to remove those caused by anything other than the keyboard.

"The PS/2 signal square wave is preserved with good quality... and can be decoded back to the original keystroke information," wrote the pair in a paper describing their work.

They demonstrated it working over distances of 1, 5, 10 and 15m from a target, far enough to suggest it could work in a hotel or office.

"The test performed in the laboratory represent a worst case scenario for this type of measurement, which along with acceptable results emphasizes the feasibility of the attack on normal conditions," they added.

The pair said their research was "work in progress" and expect the equipment to get more sensitive as it is refined.

The attack is due to be demonstrated at the Black Hat conference that takes place in Las Vegas from 25-30 July.

Source: BBC

Windows 7 Goes on Pre-Sale in UK

So we're off...

Today at 12.01am Microsoft's next generation operating system, Windows 7, goes on sale in the UK at discount prices. In the company's own words however: "you'll have to be quick as prices are low, stocks are limited and it is first come first served!"

Microsoft hasn't quantified "stocks are limited" at this stage but, stock allowing, the offer will run from 15 July to 9 August and given you'll now find Windows 7 Home Premium and Windows 7 Professional available for £49.99 and £99.99 expect there to be a great deal of interest. At this stage there remains no sign of the triple licence Windows 7 Family Pack option recently outted in the US so bear in mind these editions cover a single computer only.

Also worth remembering is Microsoft's ongoing battle with the European Union has seen it strip Internet Explorer 8 from all EU versions, cancel upgrade editions and disable the ability for full versions to upgrade from any previous flavour of Windows (2000, XP, Vista, 7 Beta or 7 RC). Instead all users will need to perform fresh installs. All EU versions will be tagged with the letter 'E' to signal this, ie: Windows 7 E Home Premium, Windows 7 E Professional, etc.

Microsoft has also named participating stores during the discount period as Amazon.co.uk, Argos, Comet, Currys, Dixons, Ebuyer.com, John Lewis, Littlewoods, Micro Anvika, PC World, Play.com, Staples and Tesco. Many of which are expected to offer a secondary CD with either IE8 or a rival

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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 27th May 2009

 19-06-2009 - Approval of funds scam email

An email is being issued displaying the email address postmaster@hmrc.co.uk with the subject 'You are a winner of 168,240.00 GBP'. The email features an attachment and requests that personal details are recorded on the attachment and forwarded to info@lloydstsbprize.com.

10-06-2009 - Tax Rebate

HMRC is aware of a high number of emails being sent out offering a tax rebate. HMRC would not inform customers of a tax rebate via email, or invite them to complete an online form to receive a rebate of tax.

Do not visit the website contained within the email or disclose any personal or payment information.

Email addresses used to distribute the tax rebate emails include:

  • successful@gov.uk
  • customer.office@hmrc.customsoffice.gov.uk
  • tax-service@hmrc.customs.gov.uk
  • notify2@hrms.co.uk
  • refundtax@hmrc.gov.co.uk
  • TaxRefund@hmrc.gov.uk
  • service@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk
  • claims@hmrc.direct.gov.uk
  • notice@hmrc.gov.uk
  • hmrc@hmrc.gov.uk
  • admin@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk
  • info@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk
  • no-reply@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk
  • refund@hmrc.gov.uk
  • Refound@hmrc.gov.uk
  • IRS@hmrc.gov.uk
  • services@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk
  • service@HMRC.co.uk

HMRC does not send out emails using these email addresses.

An example of the tax rebate scam:

Example 1 (PDF 211K) (added 7 January 2009)

Example 2 (PDF 286K) (added 11 June 2008)

Example 3 (added 14 August 2007) (below)

HMRC are stressing that individuals should not visit the website contained within the email or disclose any personal or payment information. 

The email informs the recipient that calculations have revealed that they are legible to receive a tax refund and asks the recipient to click on a link and complete the tax refund request.

The link takes you to an official looking form which requests personal information including name address and also requests credit card details. Once the form is submitted the phishers have all the information they need to steal your identity and your money. 

General advice to avoid being phished.

Be wary of unexpected emails and ask yourself..

  • Do I know the person who has sent it?
  • Am I expecting an email and does the email make any sense?
  • Never go to a website from a link in an email and enter personal details
  • Always type in the address into the web browser and if in doubt, contact the organisation separately on an advertised number.
  • Keep passwords and pin numbers safe and secret
  • Be wary of disclosing any personal information to someone you don’t know.
  • Keep your PC Secure
  • Use up-to-date anti-virus software and anti-spyware, security patches and a firewall.

Discus offer a Hosted Email Solution to help prevent receipt of this kind of malicious email and also a Web Management Service to prevent access to questionable web sites.

Please call 0800 880 3360 for more information

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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 1st Apr 2009

Damien Biddulph to leave Discus Systems plc...
After 8 years of service and being an important part of the support team we’re very pleased to say that Damien now leaves Discus at a later time than before! - You may already be aware that Discus have extended their support times to 8am until 6pm Monday to Friday.

April Fool!!!

Facebook Hey, you “old fogies.” Are you on Facebook yet? asked Lev Grossman in Time.com. The popular social networking site started out five years ago as a way for college kids to hook up and swap party pictures, but it’s rapidly being infiltrated by moms and dads. People between 35 and 54 are the fastest-growing group on Facebook—there are now 7 million of us, up 276 percent in the last half of 2008. Why are moms and dads following their kids’ lead? For us, the site acts as a magnet that finds “people you’ve lost track of,” and unlike teenagers, “we’ve gone through multiple schools, jobs, and marriages.” Fogies like me can reconnect with people from past lives, mist up over old summer camp and high school photos, and send friends—new and old—photos of our kids. So what are you waiting for?

Facebook, in fact, may be better suited to adults than to teens, said Peggy Orenstein in The New York Times. It’s one thing to network with old friends when you’re 40, and another when you’re 18 and heading off to college, having been on Facebook or MySpace since you were 12. College has always been the place where young adults reinvent themselves and shed their old family and high school roles. “Can you really do that with your 450 closest friends watching,” and reminding you every day—every hour—of your old self? Growth depends on introspection, which depends on loneliness. Transformation depends on experimentation, which depends on space. For young people trying to forge their own identities, Facebook may serve as a straitjacket.
I beg to differ, said Matt Labash in The Weekly Standard. Facebook is a straitjacket for people of all ages—a time waster that changes even the most likable people into “teenage girls,” with nothing better to do than talk about themselves. All of a sudden, my grown-up friends have all joined; refusing to have a Facebook page has become an anti-social act. To hell with that. I despise Facebook for its “steady, Chinese-water-torture drip of status updates,” as tedious people inundate their virtual “friends” with tedious details from tedious lives. Do you really want to know when your true love from grade school is cleaning up her cat’s hairballs, or that the balding guy you idolized in college is “glad it’s the weekend”? Down with Facebook, say I. It’s like the world’s worst high school reunion—a reunion you can never leave. - Most of the Discus staff are on Facebook.. Feel free to add us and we’ll be only more than happy to accept! 

Tip of the week: How to keep your job.

Find an excuse to “ask your boss for feedback.” See what your co-workers think of you, too. Then heed their advice,even if it’s difficult: “You (literally) can’t afford not to.”

Stand out.
Figure out what you can do to make yourself indispensable. Be enterprising and pitch new projects. “Companies need risk takers and innovators” now more than ever.

Plan for the worst.
Start expanding your skill set, “network” as much as you can, and seek out “potential employers.” If you’re in ahard-hit industry, start thinking about how you can “apply your experience” to a new field.

Don’t be stupid.
Even if you’re worried about your current position, don’t post a résumé online, unless the site has “airtight privacy.” If your employer gets wind of it, you could be automatically “kicked up to the top of the boot list.”

Getting to know us - Damien Edward Biddulph

Age: 25
Married: No not yet!
Children: Nope.. not yet
Hobbies: Damien enjoys various sporting activities. With circuit training and being a keen swimmer. He swims around one and a half miles a week. He’s reasonably fit!

What we do apart from lose at football..Discus systems plc was established in 1997 to provide independent business IT solutions in hardware, software and support. 

Our services range from designing complete IT infrastructures, through to support and maintenance visits, helpdesk and remote support. We can provide complete outsourced IT function or complement existing IT resources. 

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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Thu 1st Jan 2009

Embracing New Technology – Virtualisation
With VMware virtualisation you can reduce your IT costs while improving efficiency, availability, flexibility, and manageability of your infrastructure. No matter how large or small you are, the proven technology of virtualisation can rapidly transform your IT landscape. Discus is embracing this solution believing it to be the future for technology..

If you require further information please contact Chris - 0800 880 3360

SPAM, SPAM & SPAM - What is Spam?
Spam is usually sent indiscriminately to hundreds if not hundreds of thousands of inboxes using recipient addresses often obtained by illegal means. Spam is sometime referred to as “Junk Mail” although this should not be confused with legitimate e-mail shots sent to subscribed addresses.

Discus provide a proven email filtering service which will eliminate up to 99% of all Spam – speak to Damien about our hosted email service on 0800 880 3360 or send an email to damien @ discus . co. uk

Green IT
Most people now agree that being 'green' is the socially acceptable norm. A survey into public attitudes and behaviours found, rather than being an alternative lifestyle, the main motivation for an environmentally friendly lifestyle is guilt about harming the environment..,
It is said that an environmentally friendly firm not only saves money but can achieve an edge over its competitors with clients who look for corporate responsibility towards the planet rather than profiteering.

Here at Discus we try to do our bit. Damien makes sure we recycle cardboard, paper, plastic and tin. We also understand that Green IT is not only about the new stuff you buy; recycling PCs for use in the third world is an initiative every business should adopt. Second hand machines expand the use of computers and IT skills around the globe and without draining scarce resources producing a new machine. The EU’s WEEE - Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment – directive attempts to get businesses to dispose of electronic gadgets responsibly through recycling and reuse.

Getting to know us - Terry Biddulph
He founded Discus Systems plc in partnership with Dains at the end of 1997 after working in IT for the previous 15 years. 

Age : Top secret
Married : 26 Years
Children : 4 children and 4 grandchildren
Hobbies : Terry is a keen follower of Aston Villa, he enjoys music and is a bit of a veteran on the bass guitar with 35+ years experience. He also plays regualary for the bo dudleys...


Did you know Discus now have their own 5 aside football team with our very own Andrew Guy as Player/Manager? We have now played a number of matches and our skills as a team improve with each game.
One of our recent games was against Rompey Pompey where we unfortunately lost 5-4 in the dying seconds of the match due to a controversial penalty!

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