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Phishing email from the Adobe Compromise

Malicious email from Adobe database

This email arrived yesterday. It was sent to an address that only exists in the databases of Adobe and of my email provider. Given that Adobe's customer databases were looted earlier this fall by hackers, I suppose it was a matter of time.

For the uninitiated, I strongly warn you NOT to try to follow the link in that email. If it's only slightly malicious, then the web page will try to tease me out of personal information. After all, this is a job offer, and employers are obliged to collect SSNs and other personal information. 

If it's seriously malicious, then the web page will send me a malicious MS Word or Acrobat file, or perhaps just some web-based scripts, that poke around on my machine looking for weaknesses. 

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CPU-based Security Improvements Adopted Slowly

'Way, 'way back in the 1960s, computer designers tried out different techniques to limit how a computer executed its programs. Some should be pretty well known, like storage protection and the distinction between "kernel mode" for the operating system and "user mode" for applications. Another was data execution prevention (aka "DEP"), where the computer distinguishes between RAM that stores instructions and RAM that stores data. If the program tries to jump into instructions stored in data RAM, the CPU aborts the program.

DEC Alpha CPU

Fast forward to 2010. Most microprocessors were supporting DEP in the mid 1990s; a few supported it before that. OS support came more slowly. Windows as been using one form or another of this since 2004 in XP Service Pack 2. However, it doesn't matter for most major applications, because they didn't fix their code to take advantage of it. So, if they suffer a buffer overflow, there's nothing to prevent the computer from trundling off to la-la land.

MS Word versus Framemaker

I've been using Framemaker to create large documents for almost two decades. I'm currently participating in an email discussion group of Frame users, and someone asked about comparing Microsoft Word and Frame. Someone else suggested Googling for the answer, since lots of people like to talk about it.

So, here is my own contribution to the question.

 

A Microsoft-Centric World

Back in the 1970s when many of us were struggling to free ourselves from mainframes, the mantra in the computing world was "Nobody ever got fired for choosing IBM." No doubt Bill Gates was inspired by this to build his own empire. Today, people unblushingly swap "IBM" for "Microsoft" in that mantra.

Since converting back to the Macintosh I've been learning a lot about Microsoft-centric software. Several programs that ran on both systems have essentially withered, especially since the conversion to OS X. I'm most directly affected by Microsoft-centric teams at Intuit and at Adobe.

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