Categories
Hack

Should I Say Yes … Should I Say No?

s3I have held back from rooting my Samsung S3 phone for this long because of the new feature samsung has introduced into its devices called Flash Count.

The flash count feature is available on the Samsung Galaxy “S” and “Note” series and basically records the number of times your device has been rooted or flashed with custom or cooked ROMs (Non Official builds of Android OS).

The flash count is definitely not a good thing as only the device manufacturer stands to benefit from it. Reason is, the manufacturers want to have a way to keep tab on  compulsive “flashers” who stand a good chance of bricking their devices in the process and passing it off as manufacturer defect. Flashing your device in any way voids your warranty, but “hacking” enthusiasts have always found a way of going round this without Samsung being any wiser – until now.

And worst still, Samsung keeps making improvements against reseting flash counter so much that there is no guarantee that apps like Triangle Away will successfully reset the counter back to zero on your device.

Not that the flash count affects the performance of your device in any way, neither is the notification displayed visibly anywhere, however there may be users who wish to return to stock in order to either to sell or exchange. This definitely would impact negatively on the resale value if selling to someone that has a knowledge of this.

Also, any claim on warranty from the manufacturer would be disregarded. With the rising popularity of modifying Android phones, service center technicians have learned to check for an extra something that may result in their returning your device to you unfixed or sending you an invoice for the repairs.

Knowing this, do i still go ahead and root my device?

For me, the need to root my S3 is borne out of the following:

– To be able to uninstall all the bloatware (promotional, mostly unnecessary softwares) T-Mobile included in their Samsung S3 variant, the T999.
– To have elevated access to use root access softwares. Backup apps like Titanium Backup used to restore apps/data easily comes to mind.
– Browsing the filesystems of my Device.
– Flashing of modified ROMs to enhance device performance.

I have never been the one to shy away from such undertakings like this, so why start now. Ummh, but there is always this nagging fear when you know a task you are about to undertake has the possibility of making your device the most expensive paper weight, ever.

“My mind tells me one thing
Should I listen to my heart
Should I say yes, should I say no”

Sigh.

Categories
Gadgets Hack Mobile

How To Root Or Unroot Your Samsung Galaxy Y Duos GT-S6102

samsung-galaxy-y-duosRooting Your Samsung Galaxy Y Duos S6102

  • Search and install the superuser app from google play. Install on your phone.
  • Download to your PC the rooting file from here. Save in your phone memory card.
  • Enter recovery mode by holding down the “Volume Up” and the “Home” keys while powering the device on.
  • Scroll down with the volume key and select the 3rd Option with the “Home” key : “Wipe data/factory reset”.
  • Select “apply update from sdcard”
  • Choose the “update.zip” file
  • Select “reboot system now”

Your Samsung Galaxy Y Duos GT-S6102 is now rooted.

 

Unrooting Your Samsung Galaxy Y Duos S6102

  • Download the unrooting file from here and transfer to your phone memory card
  • Boot the phone into recovery mode by holding down the “Volume Up” and the “Home” keys while powering the device on.
  • Scroll down with the volume key and select with the “Home” key the option “apply update from sdcard”.
  • Select “unroot.zip” file
  • Select “reboot system now”

Your Samsung Galaxy Y Duos GT-S6102 is now unrooted.

Categories
Hack

The Difference Between Malware, Virus, Rootkits, Spyware, Worm and Trojans

One of the classic primary signs that a computer has been infected is that it suddenly becomes much less responsive than normal. This usually continues after rebooting the computer as the malicious software begins running again and using system resources. Applications that monitor system resources (such as the Windows Task Manager) of the computer may show a high percentage of the processor or processors already in use, even when a computer user is not running any applications. The majority of the system memory may also be in use and such a situation can also cause the computer to respond slowly. Using the Task Manager in Windows can show a computer user the running processes and can also be used to easily see what applications are using the most memory and processor resources.

At times, you may get weird random pop-ups trying to make you download something or sell something to you.

However, not every infection present these symptom. In fact, some do not exhibit any at all! The fact that your PC seems to function normally does not imply that all is well.

Malware

Malware, short for malicious (or malevolent) software, is software used or created by attackers to disrupt computer operation, gather sensitive information, or gain access to private computer systems. It can appear in the form of code, scripts, active content, and other software. It is basically an umbrella term covering computer viruses, worms, Trojan, spyware, rootkit etc. Some of them attack the computer programs and files while others attack users confidential data. Let us have a detailed look at their mode of operation.

Virus

Just as a biological virus replicates itself in a human cell, a computer virus replicates itself  in computer memory when initiated by the user. Not only do they replicate themselves but may also contain some malicious codes which can affect your files, your operating system or even your master boot records thereby making your computer start slow or not boot at all.

There are different types of viruses, some affect the system adversely and leave it completely unusable while some are just written to annoy the user. Disabling task manager or desktop wallpaper are a few of the most common ways that virus creators employ to irritate users.

As a virus always needs a human action to initiate itself, in a computer most of them attach themselves to an executable .exe file because it knows eventually the user will double click on it to run it and that is all it needs to infect the computer. Yes, unfortunately, most viruses are inadvertently initiated by the computer users themselves and hence it is important that when you install and run programs, you know beforehand that you got them from a trusted source.

Worm

Practically a worm is an evolved form of a virus. Like virus, worms too replicate and spread themselves but it happens on a bit larger scale. Also, unlike virus, a worm does not need a human action to replicate and spread and that is what makes it more dangerous.

A worm always seeks for network loopholes to replicate from computer to computer and thus most common way of intrusion are emails and IM attachments.  As the infection is network-based, a good firewall along with antivirus is necessary to control worm attack. Also, this means that blindly downloading email attachments or clicking the links friends share with you in a chat window is not recommended. Double-check before you do that.

Trojan Horse

TrojanTrojan horse or simply Trojan is a bit interesting. Trojan horse is a program that appears useful by pretending to do certain things in foreground, but in reality they are working silently in background with the only objective of harming your computer and/or stealing valuable information.

Let me explain this metaphorically.

Suppose you are the CEO of a company and there is an employee in your firm you think is a valuable asset because of some initial success he gave your company. In reality the employee is working for your competitor and destroying your company from within. Now these kinds of employees can be considered as Trojan horses if you consider the company as your computer.

Most common way to invite a Trojan horse to your computer is downloading malicious software like keys, cracks, free illegal music, wares etc from an unknown source. Thus the best way to stay away from Trojans is by making sure you install software from trusted sources.

Spyware

Spywares are also malicious computer programs that can be installed on computers but unlike any of the above they do not harm your computer in any way. Instead, they attack you!

Once installed on a system they run in background and keep on collecting user’s personal data. These data can include your credit card numbers, passwords, important files and many other personal stuff.

Spywares can track your keystrokes, scan and read your computer files, snoop IM chats and emails and God knows what else. Therefore again it’s always advisable to download and install software from trusted sources.

Rootkit

Rootkits are computer programs that are designed by attackers to gain root or administrative access to your computer. Once an attacker gains admin privilege, it becomes a cakewalk for him to exploit your system.

We have already discussed rootkit in detail previously and you can have a look at it for in-depth knowledge.

Conclusion

Overall, all these malware that were discussed have been there probably since the innovation of programming itself and with time, they have become more complex and harder to deal with. That does not mean you should worry too much. We have talked about tools like virus scanners and spyware removers before so make sure you keep your computer protected with them. If you are careful enough, most likely you will not have to worry about them.

Categories
Hack Linux

Linux & OS X-only Trojan Spotted

I have always been a Linux apologist – apologies to no one. My migration to the Linux platform a few years back was largely influenced by the bitter experiences i had with malwares and viruses on Windows. Rumours were rife then of the near impregnability of Linux, that Linux is virus (trojan horse) free. It was said that the old-fashioned multi-user heritage of Linux prevents malware, since users are not normally running their programs in admin mode (as root user).

But lately, i have been worried – very worried. The near invincibility image of Linux platform is fast being compromised. Now you hear of Linux trojans and hacks all around you. So much that i am now convinced that the only reason the statistics is still relatively low compared to Microsoft Windows is because of the low rate of adoption of Linux on desktops. And only if end users can adhere to best practices on the use of Microsoft Windows PCs as highlighted here, chances are that virus infiltration of the Windows platform will not be as widespread.

Below is an excerpt from theregister.co.uk, on the latest threat to the Linux (and its cousin, Apple OSX) platforms;

Security researchers have discovered a potential dangerous Linux and Mac OS X cross-platform trojan.

Once installed on a compromised machine, Wirenet -1 opens a backdoor to a remote command server, and logs key presses to capture passwords and sensitive information typed by victims. The program also grabs passwords submitted to Opera, Firefox, Chrome and Chromium web browsers, and credentials stored by applications including email client Thunderbird, web suite SeaMonkey, and chat app Pidgin. The malware then attempts to upload the gathered data to a server hosted in the Netherlands.

The software nastie was intercepted by Russian antivirus firm Dr Web [which] describes Wirenet-1 as the first Linux/OSX cross-platform password-stealing trojan.

Multi-platform virus strains that infect Windows, Mac OS X and Linux machines are extremely rare but not unprecedented. One example include the recent Crisis super-worm. Creating a strain of malware that infects Mac OS X and Linux machines but not Windows boxes seems, frankly, weird given the sizes of each operating system’s userbase – unless the virus has been designed for some kind of closely targeted attack on an organisation that uses a mix of the two Unix flavours.

Analysis work on the Wirenet-1 is ongoing and for now it’s unclear how the trojan is designed to spread. Once executed, it copies itself to the user’s home directory, and uses AES to encrypt its communications with a server over the internet.

Categories
Gadgets Hack Mobile

To Root, Or Not To Root, That Is The Question!

The arguments for or against  hacking your mobile device to gain elevated access have been raging on for a decade or so now. Things probably became more heated up with the advent of the Apple IOS and, especially, the Android platforms where most consider rooting your android device as unsafe and unnecessary. I think it is time we put a lid on things as it is beginning to get pretty boring (yawn).

The facts are very clear. The decision to root your decision or not boils down to one single thing – YOU!

Many are content with the stock ROM that came with their devices and absolutely see no reason to change anything. It’s all good. Also, chances are that there are even more people out there that do not even know what rooting/jailbreaking is all about.

However, for the few that feel the need to push their devices to the limit, demanding from their devices its God (or is it Man’s) given capability, with the need to circumvent the manufacturer’s commercially motivated restrictions, there is only one option – ROOT!

I consider myself a Power User and I have been that way for close to a decade now. Right from the early days of the Symbian platform in Nigeria, Windows Mobile and lately, Apple IOS, I have fully familiarized myself with the very simple process of gaining elevated access to these platforms and I fully understand the risks and the advantages it confers.

In simple terms, i do liken rooting of a mobile device to gaining administrator access to a PC, it has it’s risks and advantages. You may read more about that here.

Apart from my compulsive desire to fully own what I broke my piggy bank to pay for (Paid almost $500 for my Toshiba Thrive. I live in a Third World country, Nigeria. We live on less than a dollar a day!), the perpetual habit of manufacturers to stuff unnecessary and very irritating bundled apps with our device makes rooting a very attractive option because it is only via rooting that you can uninstall them, recovering your valuable internal storage.

Take for example the trial version of Kaspersky that is being bundled with the Toshiba Thrive. I do not wish to pay for it but, unfortunately, installing another antivirus to the tablet may cause a software conflict. So root, i did.

And talking about alternatives to apps that require root, let us not kid ourselves, they can not just do the job as well.

For example, there are a myriad of apps for use in backing up your app installation files. In fact, it is even possible to do this with the aid of just a file explorer. But the thing is, all you get done is backing up just the installation file (.apk) because you need to root your device to be able to save your app data and settings.

Rooting is not for everyone and i fully understand the reason why most may not find this option attractive – the fear of bricking your device. Only God knows how many days you had to go without your dollar a day ration to save up to buy your device.

Let’s leave it to the real men to deal with.

I rest my case.

Categories
Articles

Administrator Accounts – The Root Of Windows OS Virus Woes?

Windows 7 allows 2 types of user accounts to be created; The Standard (Limited) account and the Administrator account. Another type of account, called the Guest account, is also created on a new Windows 7 installation, though disabled.

The basic features of these accounts are listed below;

Guests Account

A guest account allows people to have temporary access to your computer. People using the guest account can’t install software, hardware, or change settings. While the default “Guest” account cannot be password protected, an existing user account made into only a guest account using an option below can have a password.It is recommended you leave this account disabled on your PC.

Standard user (Users)

The standard account can help protect your computer by preventing users from making changes that affect the system or other users. If a standard user wants to do something that affects the system or other users, they will get a User Account Control (UAC) prompt to provide an administrator password before being allowed to do so. If UAC is not turned on, then the standard user will not be allowed to do so.

Administrator

Administrators have complete access to the computer and can make any desired changes. To help make the computer more secure, administrators may get a UAC prompt, if UAC is turned on, to give confirmation before being allowed to make changes that affect the system or other users.

Most people tend to use an administrator account as it is the default account type created with any Windows OS installation, which means that every application that they run has complete access to the system.

Therein lies the problem.

If you create a standard user account in Windows 7, and then use that account as your every day account, you will restrict applications from making changes to important directories, such as the Windows and Program Files directories.

If you are logged in as an administrator account, then any program that is run while logged in are run with the permissions of the administrator account. This means that the program has unrestricted access to your computer, including all files and folders.

With a standard user account, specific settings that affect all users, such as global settings, common directories such as Windows and Program Files can’t be changed. This also means that a program run under a standard user account will also be restricted by the account. This is a good reason why you should use a standard user account instead of an administrative account.

If you would like to install software, or setup a device, Windows 7 will prompt you for the administrator password before continuing. You don’t need to logout and login as an administrator to perform such actions, you simply provide the password in the dialog that appears.

You can also run programs under the administrator account by right-clicking the file to run and select “Run as administrator” from the context menu.

Me think that Windows should take a cue from Linux OS where access to the Administrator account, called root access in Linux parlance, should only be on a need basis. I strongly suggest that Windows should make the Limited User account type the default for any Windows installation.

Limited user accounts will stop or deter most of the ‘unpatched’ exploits against windows.This alone protects the windows from many unknown exploits or exploits yet to fixed. It will stop ‘garden variety’ types of spyware/adware/cool web search wares or unwanted changes to Windows itself and the browsers and the personal settings. In summary, It will also stop a good number of viruses or malwares without the need of any antivirus software.

Why only some – because any virus/worms or trojans that literally destroys windows files and the file system of the hdd will not be protected by the limited account alone. Some viruses/worms/trojans are extremely destructive and will simply destroy everything after they have stolen and relayed all personal data/passwords and personal or private details.

Also, some rootkits do not install when windows is active as the limited account and instead hide in memory waiting for the windows shutdown to finally install, thus avoiding windows protection. Once installed, they are running at the next windows boot, and running with a limited user account.

Lastly, most threats via emails would be defused by a Limited user account. Obviously a bat or com file would not do any damage, but some nasty virus could do some serious damage.

However, to make your Windows OS installation near impregnable, partnered with a limited user account, you must use a full time resdient antivirus to catch any active virus/worms/trojans and malware.

Categories
Gadgets Hack Mobile

Easily Expand The Internal Memory Of Your Toshiba Thrive

Out of curiosity than anything else, i decided to try out the procedure i found on the internet which promises to Increase the internal memory  of the Toshiba Thrive tablet.

No, it does not require any screw drivers or the likes. It is purely a software affair. Basically, what i set out to do was to make the device recognize the external memory card as an internal memory.

Mine was a case of “if i can do it, so why not?”. The thing is, the Thrive as it is, has a generous 32GB internal memory which can accommodate as much apps as any download junkie may wish for. But my curiousity got the better of me.

Here goes:

  • Expectedly, you would need to root your tablet first.
  • Install a 3rd party file manager with root access. Astro file manager or File Manager HD (Tablet) would do.
  • By going into the directory /etc/ and with rw access you need to modify /etc/ vold.fstab
  • You need to change the lines

dev_mount storage /mnt/sdcard 8 /devices/platform/sdhci-tegra.3/mmc_host/mmc0
dev_mount sdcard /mnt/sdcard2 auto /devices/platform/sdhci-tegra.2/mmc_host/mmc1

To

dev_mount storage /mnt/sdcard2 8 /devices/platform/sdhci-tegra.3/mmc_host/mmc0
dev_mount sdcard /mnt/sdcard auto /devices/platform/sdhci-tegra.2/mmc_host/mmc1

Then save and reboot your thrive. This will change your external sdcard BACK to /mnt/sdcard rather then /mnt/sdcard2

I recommend you do this on Android 3.2 Honeycomb.

Categories
Hack Hosting

How To Secure Your WordPress Blog – Part 2

Experts believe that the best way to secure your WordPress installation is by writing your own codes and not with the use of off-the-shelf codes, known as plugins.

While this may be true, not many possess the skills of writing codes for WordPress. Chances are, you may even be barely capable of finding your way round the blogging platform itself.

However, not all these coding techniques require a knowledge of Nuclear science to be able to apply it to your blog, i would list out some that just anyone can try on their own.

1. IP ACCESS RESTRICTION

Study has shown that a high number of malicious hacking originate from a number of Arab countries. So, why leave it open to them? Chances are that your blog were never intended for their consumption anyway.

There are two options to choose from;

Restrict access to your blog to only selected country / countries or deny a number of countries access.

Allowing Access To Your Blog To Selected Countries

– From your Control Panel (CPanel), Click on your “File Manger”.
– Ensure “Show Hidden Files (dotfiles).” is ticked. You will be taken directly to your root folder.
– Look for the file called “.htaccess”.
– Right click on this file and select “Edit”
– Open another tab in your browser, navigate to ip2location.com
– Select Nigeria from the list of countries. You may click on more countries to extend access to those countries.
– Under the drop down menu labelled “Output Format”, select “Apache .htacess allow”
– Click “download” to download a file labelled “cidr”
– Right click on the downloaded file and open with “Wordpad”. DO NOT USE NOTEPAD.
– Copy the content of this file and paste into your .htaccess file, after the last entries there – if any.
– Save and close.
– Now your site can only be accessed from Nigeria or whatever countries you selected.

NOTE: If you do see a .htaccess file in your root folder, first confirm if you enabled “Show Hidden Files (dotfiles).” from your file manager. If you did, then you would have to create the file yourself;

– Open Notepad
– Go to “Save as type”, choose ” All Files”
– Under Filename, type .htaccess
– Save.
– Copy the content of the downloaded “cidr” file to your .htaccess file
– Save
– Upload to your root folder using your cPanel file manager
– Right click on this file and change permission to 0644.

Denying Access To Selected Countries

– From your Control Panel (CPanel), Click on your “File Manger”.
– Ensure “Show Hidden Files (dotfiles).” is ticked. You will be taken directly to your root folder.
– Look for the file called “.htaccess”.
– Right click on this file and select “Edit”
– Open another tab in your browser, navigate to ip2location.com
– Select the countries you want to block. I suggest including Morocco, Turkey, Algeria, Russia.
– Under the drop down menu labelled “Output Format”, select “Apache .htacess deny”
– Click “download” to download a file labelled “cidr”
– Right click on the downloaded file and open with “Wordpad”. DO NOT USE NOTEPAD.
– Copy the content of this file and paste into your .htaccess file, after the last entries there – if any.
– Save and close.
– Now your site can not be accessed from those countries you selected.

NOTE: If you do see a .htaccess file in your root folder, first confirm if you enabled “Show Hidden Files (dotfiles).” from your file manager. If you did, then you would have to create the file yourself;

– Open Notepad
– Go to “Save as type”, choose ” All Files”
– Under Filename, type .htaccess
– Save.
– Copy the content of the downloaded “cidr” file to your .htaccess file
– Save
– Upload to your root folder using your cPanel file manager
– Right click on this file and change permission to 0644.

2. BACKUPS

While backups may not be view as a security technique, it is the best way of securing your site. The truth is, no website is hack-proof if hackers are determined enough. Not even the high profile

companies with millions budgeted to website security have been spared. Yeah, ask Sony, Fox, Warner Bros, CBS and, lately, LinkedIn. This list is not exhaustive. So what if these guys dont have

their website backed up? Note that with your backups, your website can be up again in minutes.

The latest trend, nowadays, is for hackers not to deface your site but to use it for phishing.

To back up your site,

Option 1

– From your cPanel, under “Files”, click “Backups”
– Under “Full Backup”, click “Download or Generate a Full Website Backup”
– Under “Backup Directory”, select “Home Directory” from the dropdown menu
– You may insert your email address to be notified when the backup has been concluded.
– Navigate to your root folder, not “public_html”, you would see your backup in “tar.gz” compressed format
– Download to your local PC.

Option 2

Alternatively, you may backup to a remote location. It may be another shared hosting account or, preferrably, amazon s3.

Option 3

– Go to your WordPress Admin Page
– Under “Tools”, select “Export”
– Under “Choose what to export”, select “All Content”
– Click “Download Export File”

This will download, to your local PC, all of your posts, pages, comments, custom fields, terms, navigation menus and custom posts.

Your Images will not be downloaded! It is advisable to upload and access your images from 3rd party sites like flikr, dropbox, box, etc. That way, your images would be preserved when you are restoring your backup.

3. Delete Admin User

You will be shocked at the number of “bots” out there, carrying out “brute force” password hacking on the default WordPress Administrative account, “admin”.

– Go to your WordPress Admin Page
– Under “Users”, select “All Users”
– Create a new user, give it a very unique username
– Grant it Administrator role
– Give it a strong password, at least twelve characters long. To make it stronger, use a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols like ! ” ? $ % ^ &
– Log in to your blog, now using this new user account
– Delete the admin account.

Next, we do a run down of recommended plugins. stay tuned!

Categories
Hosting

VPS – The First Steps

A VPS Web server acts as a stand-alone server, complete with its own users, IP addresses, memory, root access, and configuration files. The size of these virtual servers can be adjusted much more easily than physical servers, making them a versatile asset for anyone using them.Basically, you pay for resources as you need them. “Scalability” is the word used to describe this.

My belief of what constitutes a minimum server specs is as follows;

20GB Diskspace (Incremental 20GB space costs as little as a dollar per month)
512 MB Ram
If you will be dabbling into MySQL database like in WordPress, this should be a minimum.
1024 GHz CPU speed
300 GB Bandwidth
1 IP address
Linux OS (Debian / CentOS preferrably)
Virtuozzo Linux VPS (Basic GUI access to your server)

Starting out with VPS hosting can be overwhelming at times, especially to the noobs. Therefore, it is advisable to start out with a little hand holding from your host by subscribing to the managed VPS option.

The term “managed” VPS describes a VPS offering whereby your host will support any issue concerning all standard softwares included in your package; Linux Os, Virtuozzo Panel, etc. However, in most cases, the host will do nothing unless you request it to, so you would still need to monitor the VPS yourself, though most hosts make security patches to supported softwares a priority.

For “Unmanaged” VPS, your host’s obligation to you stops after ensuring that the network to your server remains connected and the host node running; you’re responsible for everything else on the VPS. In simple english, You are on your own.

Expectedly, the managed VPS offering costs more but you get a lot of rest of mind in return.

Choice of Control Panel

The next logical step would be a choice of a control panel and my choice of ISPCONFIG was based on the following factors;

– Ease of installation with a lot of “hand-holding” from HowToForge.com

– More User friendly compared to the more efficient Webmin

– 3 levels of administration : Admin, Resellers and Users. Important for those who intend to resell VPS hosting

All the steps required to set up your server is contained on howtoforge.com