Archives for Computer Security

How to get updates for Windows 7, long after Windows 10 came out

Like many Windows users, I had Windows 7 on my machine and was perfectly satisfied with it before Microsoft “encouraged” me to upgrade to Windows 10. This “encouragement” included some tactics I consider aggressive, such as making the normal Windows Update utility — necessary to get security patches — install Windows 10 by default. If […]

Understanding Heartbleed

This week, a major security bug called Heartbleed was discovered. Technology sites for programmers, system administrators, and security experts have been abuzz about it all week, but I haven’t seen much coverage of it in the mainstream press. I was able to find this article at In a nutshell, Heartbleed affects a large fraction […]

Stop Your Search Engine from Spying on You

I quit using Google for Internet searches a couple of months ago. I did that because of yet another story in the tech press about Google customizing search results to each user. In a nutshell, what Google does — and has been doing for years — is build a detailed profile of each user’s search […]

Security Myths and Realities: Easy-to-Remember Passwords

I’ve been meaning to write more about computer security, but all the topics are complicated. That makes it time-consuming to write about, and potentially dry and confusing to a reader. So I’ve decided to try something new: to write short, narrow posts that address a smaller subset of the topic. In doing this, I realize […]

2011, The Year of Fighting Back Against the Black-Hats, Part 2: Defenses Against Phishing

As you may recall, back in January I wrote a post declaring this the year of “fighting back against the black hats. Now it’s mid-October, and I am finally getting around to the second post in the series. So maybe 2012 will be a year of fighting back as well… What is Phishing? Simply put, […]

Changing Auto-Run Programs in Windows 7

I’ve been running Windows 7 for about a year and a half now. I have never been a Windows fan but Windows 7 definitely seems the least annoying — and most reliable — version of Windows I’ve seen. One of the remaining annoyances though is that even though I’ve been pretty careful about what I […]

Best Password Advice Ever

I have actually been mulling over posting about passwords and my current beliefs about how to choose them, but the Web comic xkcd beat me to it, and of course said in about 100 words what would have taken me 10 times as many:

Installing Ubuntu 10.10 on a Dell inspiron 1210 (mini 12)

This post is a bit more technical than what I usually write for this blog, but I spent a lot of time and trouble trying to fix an issue with my Dell mini 12 laptop. I wanted to I document it to help make it easier for others. A couple of years ago I bought […]

2011: The Year of Fighting Back Against Black-Hats, Part 1

Happy New Year! 2010 was a big year for me in terms of learning about computer security. First and foremost, last year was the first full year I had worked in security-related research. I also took a course at the Harvard extension school and attended meetings of a local industry group for computer security. So […]

It is Never a Good Time to Change Your Password

Many people, including (I am embarrassed to say) myself, have given people advice to periodically change their computer passwords. The more I learn about computer security and human factors, the more I come to realize this is fundamentally bad advice. A Boston Globe article from a couple of weeks ago explains this far better than […]