Database Hacked?

Not all companies care about privacy

Update: 7/1/2017
If you use, stop. If you put any faith in the CIPA, stop. Neither of these organizations take cybersecurity seriously. I don’t consider them good stewards of your or my personal information. Neither organization will address evidence of a breach. …The CIPA at least gave me lip service for a while, before blowing me off.

Is CIPA legit? If CIPA doesn’t hold its members accountable, it’s worthless and you should ignore its recommendations and “certifications”.  Check out the Wikipedia entry for more evidence. Malarkey.

Original post follows

For almost 20 years, because I’m a big nerd, I’ve been using unique email addresses for every single website. e.g. the email address I give is different than the one I use to sign in to

When I start getting spam at an email address, I can quickly turn off that one address.

Problem solved. No more spam.

For those of you thinking, “That multi-address thing sounds like an ongoing hassle!” All addresses come into a single inbox. It’s easy. …It wasn’t necessarily easy to setup, but that was forever ago. Who even remembers that? 😉

Canary in an internet coal mine

Anyhow, if I start getting spam to an address, and its content is unrelated to the site/business where I used the address, something is amiss. If it’s a biz/site I don’t care about, I just kill that address. However, when it’s a biz I care about, I let them know. I’m a canary in a coal mine. But much larger, and figuratively in email databases instead of literally in a coal mine. I also lack feathers.

Most of the time these businesses are thankful when I have an opportunity to act as an email canary. They listen. I tell them, “I don’t know how it happened, but somebody got into your database. I don’t know what they didn’t get, (credit cards? social security number?) but I can tell you that they for sure have your email list.”

How did somebody get our database?

There are three likely routes:

  • One of your employees or contractors grabbed it and sold it or is using it themselves.
  • Somebody hacked into your system and stole it.
  • A computer/laptop with your db and/or email list got infected with malware, which then sent the list to its devious hacker makers.

There are other options, but those three methods account for the vast majority of email leak incidents.

Why oh why is he blogging about this? I used ’em. …And while I still sometimes use Canadian pharmacies for my sweet, sweet drugs, I haven’t used Cheapo Drugs in a few years.

How strange then, that a little over a week ago I started receiving emails to the address I only gave to Cheapo Drugs. Within these emails I’m encouraged to use a coupon code to save on drugs at safemedspills by clicking on a link. Nope. Not. Clicking. That.

What’s worse, the email contained evidence that the spammers also have access to other Cheapo Drugs’ clients’ information. (Full name, address, etc.)

I emailed Cheapo Drugs and let them know what had happened and shared with them the three possibilities (see above). In their reply, Cheapo Drugs confirmed that, shocker, they had not sent me the spam emails. The only other substance in their missive was, “We guarantee our patients that we do not sell their information to any phishing websites.” …I never said that you sold your address list. Idiots.

I went back and forth with Cheapo Drugs customer support a few more times trying to help them understand, but was met with a stonewall of non-customer-service. I even called and talked to somebody. I’ll spare you the frustrating details and summarize: Cheapo Drugs does not take proof of a database leak seriously. What to do?

Reporting a pharmacy to CIPA

I contacted CIPA, the Canadian International Pharmacy Association. Let’s see if CIPA takes this more seriously than Cheapo Drugs. …It would be hard not to. I’ll report back.

Sidenote: Now that Gmail’s spam filtering is so on fleek, I’ve considered using my gmail address more, in lieu of the system above. However, doing so isn’t as secure as using a different address for every site. Especially if you use the same password for multiple websites. Natch, I use unique passwords for each site, too. hashtag: nerd.

Top Trends in Health 2001 – 2010

A coronavirus that may cause SARS. (transwikie...
Germy Image via Wikipedia

What’s big in health in the past decade? There are the obvious big-name near-pandemics like SARS, cholera and swine flu. And if you’re not into the “We’re all going to die!” mentality then we could talk about stem cells, genomics, and the political implications thereof. But those all pale in comparison to the most important health research of the twenty-aughts.

Don’t cover your mouth with your hand when you sneeze

My favorite destroyers of unhealthy wives’ tales The Mythbusters showed us that not only is your hand an ineffective sneeze stopper, it’s also a health liability. A germy sneezed-upon hand is one of the most effective vectors for infectious diseases and therefore a terrible option to muffle a sneeze. While the Mythbusters concluded that it’s best to sneeze into your elbow, I prefer the sneeze into your shirt or jacket method because it captures more of the foul ejecta.

Unfortunately this potentially life saving health knowledge goes against decades of moms and dads telling us to cover our mouths (with our hands) when we sneeze. How can we combat this deadly misinformation? Pop culture to the rescue.

Fist Bumps for Health, Fist Bumps for Life

Oldsters don’t get the fist bump.”It’s violent. I don’t like it.” Well, then you’re going to DIE!

Michael Jordan might’ve first popularized the fist bump in the nineties, and evidence suggests that it was around for a while before that, but the fist bump really started to take off in the past decade.

Germaphobes immediately embraced the fist bump for its considerable health advantages over the handshake. Handshakes are messy. Handshakes spread germs. Even University of Calgary Dean of Medicine Tomas Feasby lobbies that the fist bump is a  “nice replacement of the handshake” in that it can prevent transmission of some diseases.

Best Health Research of the Decade

Mythbusters: Out of using your elbow, using your hand, and using a handkerchief to cover your mouth when you sneeze, which is the best way to limit the spread of germs?

Best Health Trend of the Decade

The rise of the fist bump.

Ideal Home Humidity

What is the ideal home humidity? If you like most in the US live in the temperate zones, summer humidity is fast approaching. Humidity is not just uncomfortable in your house, it can ruin even the most solidly built homes. Too much humidity in your home and mold runs rampant. So what is the ideal home humidity? In the summer, keep home humidity under 50% / fifty percent to keep comfort high and fungus at bay. Put a humidifier in your basement and you’ll be happy.

Ideal home humidity accomplishes several things

  • better air quality because of low spore count
  • save money from not running A/C as much
  • prevent mildew growth, prolonging the life of your home
  • stop sweating so damn much
  • etc.

Even if you have whole house air conditioning, you might need a dehumidifier in the basement. What about humidity in other parts of the house? The bathroom is the worst offender. If you don’t already have exhaust fans in your bathroom, install them now. Fans are cheap, and in these rocky economic times, a posting on craigslist will find you somebody to install it on the cheap. Let your fan run for 30 minutes after a shower to eliminate excess humidity. No more mold or mildew.

Get a squeegee and wipe the shower walls down after you’re done cleaning your nasty self. It’s amazing how much water sticks on the walls of your shower. Get it to the drain to help control home humidity.

Mexican Drug Wars vs US Economy and Families

So after posting a few times about the Mexican drug war, I got to thinking about its possible cascading effects. I only wrote about this topic in response to questions I’d received from travelers. But how do the actions of the Mexican drug cartels influence jobs, families and the economy on this side of the border?

As if we didn’t already dump considerable wherewithal into the war on drugs during this unprecedented economic downturn, we’re now faced with the prospect of spending even more tax dollars on enforcement. But where does this money come from? “Tax dollars” is a little misleading, not because it’s a lie, but because of the consequences of hasty reallocation of stressed government resources.

When you take money from the budget to pay for more border patrols, million dollar X-ray equipment and helicopters, drug rehabilitation gets the poo end of the poo-stick. The families most in need of therapy and rehab find their drug recovery options shriveled or gone entirely. And it’s not just a story of a smackhead not getting her methadone. No, it cascades from there.

The labor force has now lost a worker to drugs. Health employees lose their jobs. Instead of receiving reformative care junkies resort to crime. Etc. Etc. I’m just riffing here, so I know I’m missing nuance. But the point is that the Mexican drug wars and our response to them are directly related to US jobs, families and economy.

What can you do? Until we adopt a sensible national drug policy, you can donate your time, money or words of support to drug addiction treatment centers. Our reactions to drugs should be based on the people hurt by them and our failed policies rather than the few parties who benefit from the sale of drugs.

Tempurpedic and TLC Laser Eye Center

The two seemingly have nothing in common, but here they are, Tempurpedic and TLC Laser Eye Center sharing a stupid blog post. Why? I’ve made pages for both of these companies. The former makes memory foam mattresses and I’m trying to scheme the system by bilking them of their foam. That’s right. I want foam. So to that end, I made a fourth page on my Free Tempurpedic Bed Project page. Tempurpedic page four. You love it. The latter, they’re one of those LASIK refractive laser eye surgery joints. I know a few people who’ve gotten lased. They’re almost entirely happy. Well, to be fair, everybody I know who went to TLC Laser Eye Centers is happy.

TLC Laser

A friend I know who went to another laser eye surgery place had to start wearing glasses again after five years. His girlfriend noticed he was squinting while reading and things regressed from there. Glasses again. TLC vision guaranties your LASIK for life and they have literally hundreds of offices around the US to service your peepers should you move in the future.

So a friend who went to TLC has these coupons for $100 off your TLC procedure and a free consult. She asked me to make a page for her to give her coupons away. She gets a $25 free gas card. Yay. I put some google ads on the page and make a few bucks too. What a world.