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A PDF reader, more portable apps; Darwin and spam

May 02, 20063 mins
Enterprise Applications

* Gearhead: A PDF reader, more portable apps * Backspin: Darwin and spam * The past 7 days on Gibbsblog

Gearhead: A PDF reader, more portable apps

First up this week, a neat freebie: a lightweight PDF viewer for Windows 95, 98, NT, 2000, XP and 2003 called Foxit Reader published by Foxit Software.

To read Gearhead in its entirety, click here.

Backspin: Darwin and spam

According to a recent CipherTrust study, consumers respond to and spend money on 5% of spam messages that link to porn sites. That’s in contrast to the 0.025% response rate generated by pharmaceutical spam and the 0.0075% rate for spam hawking Rolex watches and the like.

To read Backspin in its entirety, click here.

The past 7 days on Gibbsblog

A New Approach to Fighting Exploits

I just had a very interesting telephone briefing by Exploit Prevention Labs (XPL) on the release of their new product SocketShield. The purpose of SocketShield is to defend PCs against “exploits” which are ways of gaining control over a computer system.


Ransom Trojans

Yet another Trojan that attempts to extort money is doing the rounds. According to SophosLabs this Trojan called Ransom-A “asks the computer user to pay $10.99 or it will delete one file every 30 minutes.”

Not only does this Trojan delete files it apparently also makes a random selection of files invisible and disables control-alt-delete.

To pay the user has to transfer the payment via Western Union after which a “CIDN number” (whatever that stands for) will be sent to the user. Once this number is entered the Trojan will supposedly go way.

I would bet that this type of exploit will become far more common over the next few years because it will work particualrly well on less sophisticated users and at $11 will be relatively easily swallowed.

But what if the Trojan’s creator installs a root kit and successfully hides the malware triggering it to reactivate, say, 30 days later? We’ve got a good, old-fashioned protection racket! We’ll call this the Vinny Trojan.

Now imagine the Vinny Trojan also finding out your bank and credit card details and maybe personal blackmail information … now anything happens to the Vinny Trojan or Vinny’s owner and your life gets hosed. But if you’re a good boy or girl and just pay up on time every month, you’ll be able to sleep at night. Welcome to the new Mafia …

The full Sophos press release follows …


Geek Fun #1: Throwies

Cross graffiti with electronics and you get Throwies.


Geek Gifts #1: Parking Goddess

Can’t find a parking spot? You need a Parking Goddess.


Gearhead Screensaver

A couple of weeks ago Gearhead wrote about a Flash editor named WildPresenter and offered a Gearhead-themed screensaver built using that product. Well …


It’s On the Tip of My Tongue …

If you want to get information into someone’s brain without distracting them visually or through any other sense what do you do? You send data through their tongue …


Mark Gibbs is an author, journalist, and man of mystery. His writing for Network World is widely considered to be vastly underpaid. For more than 30 years, Gibbs has consulted, lectured, and authored numerous articles and books about networking, information technology, and the social and political issues surrounding them. His complete bio can be found at

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