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CheapoDrugs.com Database Hacked?

29 Jan
cheapodrugs-blog

Not all companies care about privacy

Update: 7/1/2017
If you use CheapoDrugs.com, stop. If you put any faith in the CIPA, stop. Neither of these organizations seem to take cybersecurity seriously. I don’t consider them good stewards of your 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 VictoriasSecret.com is different than the one I use to sign in to Fredericks.com.

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?

Cheapodrugs.com. 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 tinyurl.com 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.

How is responsive design connected to SEO? It’s mobile.

3 May
the long tail of search

Image by Victoria Jones

Follow the money and you’ll find that hot trends in design and search engine optimization are tied to our shrinking technology.  What’s in your pocket?

This mobile, responsive design, SEO and the long tail article originally appeared on the Geekly Group blog. (Thanks, Archive.org for the save!) (This article is from May 2013.)

The Tale of the Long Tail Search

And Why You Should Have Implemented Responsive Design Years Ago

My latest pocket toy, (a 5th generation iPod Touch), is great at taking dictation. I’ve already carefully enunciated two emails into its microphone today. Because I usually work from home and I’m one of the strange beasts to still use a landline. The iPod is my tiny window into the mobile world.

I also have a mobile phone, but while I don’t often lean on my Android, I recognize that more people are using their mobile devices to search for goods and services. I help companies harness this mobile traffic with responsive design, long-tail keywords and other engagement strategies. The ROI is huge, but it can be a tough sell– unless you have the data to back it up.

The Mobile Traffic Writing is on the Wall & the Font is Getting Bigger!

A few years ago I told a mid-market e-tail client that mobile devices and tablets would soon account for the majority of their traffic and business. I said something like, “Time to think about responsive design lest we alienate the fastest growing segment of consumers.” Instead, this client decided that its core demographic (married women over 35) didn’t (and wouldn’t) purchase or research expensive household products on handheld devices any time soon.

I disagreed.

Without a Mobile Crystal Ball, Let Data Make Smart Decisions For You.

The next year I was able to turn to the data. I pointed out that the company’s mobile bounce rate was higher than that of the overall site average.  When I again suggested it would be best to use a responsive website design to encourage mobile users to engage, the company decided instead to modify its PPC campaigns.

“Don’t address mobile. Ignore it!” was the company mantra. “Who would use a phone to search for luxury goods?!” They stopped serving ads to mobile devices.

In February 2010, only 5% of this company’s site traffic came from handheld devices. By May 2012 that traffic source had grown to 36%. Shortly thereafter they stopped advertising to mobile devices. By March 2013, phones, tablets and iPods accounted for 45% of their traffic. This is remarkable!  Why?  Because they’d specifically and actively tried to alienate those consumers.

So what happened?  The client finally embraced responsive web design. When I juxtaposed the previously mentioned 45% figure with a random sample of a few other sites’ analytics data, it was easy to see that married women over 35 (or whoever their demographic really was) actually used mobile devices more than the average person.

It took a few years and some good data but this company will soon offer a website that will be attractive, usable and engaging regardless of screen size. Lower mobile bounce rates and higher conversion rates are sure to follow.

But engagement is only part of a successful mobile strategy. Customers must find you, before you can engage them.

How Do Mobile Traffic Trends Affect SEO?

A few years ago we searched with our fingers on a keyboard attached to a PC or laptop.  In a few more years, we’ll probably just think about our searches to get things started via a subdermal implant.  In the meantime, we’ve begun talking to our devices.

With the advent of Apple’s Siri, Dragon Dictation and Android-based virtual assistants like Vlingo and Skyvi, more of us are speaking our search phrases than ever before. These new technologies are leading to increasing numbers of “conversational-style” searches, or long tail searches. This interesting combination of conversational search phrases and guttural caveman-like searches performed in noisy environments means that the long tail of SEO keywords is now more meaningful than ever.

Pair this new human side of search trends with the ongoing semantic efforts of search engines like Google and Bing and it’s a welcome perfect storm for wisely managed SEO campaigns. Use great traffic research tools to identify slightly longer, more specific search phrases and you’ll find your ROI going through the roof.  And you’ll live happily ever after…at least until everybody else catches on.

Robocalls Are Easy To Fix

4 Jan
English: A Fox 40 whistle from the late 1980s.

A Fox 40 whistle from the late 1980s. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In early November I received my umpteenth call from Rachel at cardholder services. A few years ago I wasted time filing FTC reports on these jokers in a wholly ineffective effort to thwart their incessant nagging. Of late I’ve instead taken to passive aggressively nagging them back.

How I Used to Deal With Rachel and her Cardholder Services Minions

This time, as is now my custom, I pressed whatever number would get me to a consultant to discuss the urgent scam relating to my credit cards. I then pressed mute and walked away. A few minutes later, per my routine, I picked up the phone to hang it up, but this time there’s a guy whispering all sorts of awesome stuff still on the line. So I listened for a while. He’d just started at his call center job two weeks earlier and had yet to get any training. He was bitching about the people near him and how backwards and horrible everybody and everything about his job was. Very entertaining. (He was using more colorful language than I’m willing to recount here.)

I wanted to un-mute and talk to him but decided not to. What would I have said? “Become a whistle-blower!” These $#%^ing phone spammers are breaking the law and I’d love to see some convictions. Unfortunately I (and likely most call center drones) are unaware of incentive to blow the whistle on such illegal activity, if any even exists.

FTC Robocall Challenge to the Rescue?

The FTC is planning to spend serious dough on “new and innovative ways to block these illegal calls,” and is soliciting fresh ideas via the U.S.A.’s official challenge website. They’re also offering $50,000 in prizes for challenge winners. But I recognize problems with most of the submissions. They’re either ineffective, costly, unproven, violate basic privacy or show other weaknesses. Solving this problem is as simple as the American dream itself and it’s a bargain too.

Incentivize Whistleblowers

From aforementioned breathy undertones of the underbelly of the robocall world, I was able to infer that call center workers are overworked, underpaid, shown little respect and mistreated. What if we offered cash rewards for proof of illegal telemarketing activity? How much would it take? I’m guessing not much.

What person working at a thankless illegal job is going to turn down a four figure reward for ten minutes of work? IT WILL WORK. But how will we fund it? While there’s likely already a budget for this sort of thing, I understand that taxing and spending isn’t sexy these days and that we’re to rely on the private sector for things like… money. (?!)

I’ll start. If I win the challenge, I’ll donate 10% of my take to an FTC telemarketing whistle blower fund.

Won’t you join me? (Boring details for my FTC challenge submission follow. Thanks for reading!)

Project Details FAQ

Q: What is required to stop robocalls and encourage whistleblowers?

A: Funding. A website to field scam reports. Small staff to review reports. Initial marketing push.

Q: What about robocalls that don’t provide an option to speak to a human?

A: There are still underpaid minions in these shady organizations. We can turn them from the dark side.

Q: What about robocalls from other countries?

A: People in other countries like cash too. We can turn them and stop the flow of robocalls.

Q: Harumph! I hate government spending! What else would we need to crowdsource the funding?

A: If the gov doesn’t have the ability to do it already, hire somebody to use free, off the shelf, open source scripts to accept donations. Initial marketing push.

When he’s not traveling or making music, Dan Dreifort likes to consult on search and usability. Dan also likes his wife even though she has neglected him for almost four years while she’s been at veterinary school. She comes back in three weeks. Dan is very happy about this.

Best Mozilla Firefox/Thunderbird Add-on

20 Nov
add-on compatibility enable screenshot

This is what you’ll see after enabling your new favorite add-on

Disable Add-on Compatibility Checks is a great little add-on for both Firefox and Thunderbird. It makes Mozilla’s rapid release cycle totally tolerable.

If the keeper of your favorite plugin can’t keep up with Mozilla’s zany release schedule, worry no more. Disable Add-on Compatibility Checks does exactly what it sounds like it’ll do. Install it (no restart needed) and head to your Add-ons Manager where you’ll be able to enable previously dead-to-you add-ons. I’ve periodically posted links to several repacked add-ons in the past, but this plugin means I’ll never again have to edit an install.rdf file.

Sometimes Plugins Die, Little Johnny

Occasionally a plugin really and truly can’t be resurrected by this method. Case in point, today’s update to Thunderbird 17.0 killed the Quicktext add-on for good. Sad times. I loved that plugin too! RIP little buddy.

Big kudos to Kris Maglione for making one add-on to rule them all. Thanks!

Updated Extensions for Latest Firefox Update

28 Aug
English: Firefox word mark. Correct clear spac...

Firefox. Love it. Hate it. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Remember back when Firefox 3.5.17 came out? I’ll give you a clue; it was 2011.

It’s just a year later and the latest version of Firefox (15.0) ships with new features under the hood, including better memory handling for plugins and new “Silent, background updates,” but it’s not enough. When Mozilla switched Firefox to a faster release cycle in 2011, users relying on extensions and plugins suffered. Many jumped ship for Chrome and Safari. Those of us who have stayed either suffer or update extensions on our own. I’m in the latter camp.

Head here to download a zip containing the following usability extensions updated for the current Firefox release:

  • Duplicate Tab – keystroke or context menu to dupe a tab
  • Quick Restart – without shutting down Firefox!
  • Show Go! – Always show the go arrow in the URL window/bar

I’ve posted links to other updated Firefox plugins in the past but I don’t make a habit of it. If you’d like updated versions for any of those, drop me a note in the comments.

Internet Explorer 8 Compatibility View SNAFU

6 Sep

File this one under Microsoft usability nightmares. I was visiting one of my W3 standards compliant pages using Internet Explorer 8 to check for cross-browser layout/rendering consistency when I noticed that IE8 served a pop-up.  I was not pleased to learn that I could press the compatibility view button to fix problems in pages made for older browsers. The page looked fine to me. What the hell, I’ll click the button.

Naturally, clicking the IE8 compatibility view button destroyed the layout. It wasn’t illegible, but it really no longer looked professional.

How to force a page into IE8’s standards mode

I found this gem to force pages into standards mode

<meta http-equiv=”X-UA-Compatible” content=”IE=EmulateIE8″ />

Works like a charm. No more annoying pop-up.

Consider adding this to any page/site that’s built to W3 specs.

IE8 Compatibility Mode Pop-up Message

Internet Exploder

The Pirate Bay Open to SQL Injection Attacks?

17 Aug

This from an old friend of mine on the private “guys list” mailing list.

So,  I was trying to get a couple of E-books from the pirate bay.

http://thepiratebay.org/torrent/5362753

The pdf I downloaded did not work, so I put up a comment and I noticed they were not un-escaping single quotes.

So I tried a double quote in the comment and it gave an error.

So I tried this in the comment box

“; SELECT * FROM `users` —

And it didn’t break.  I’m pretty sure it selected all the users.  Didn’t print them out, but it selected them.

So, what I’m saying is.  Thepiratebay.org is currently wide open to sql injection attacks.

Have fun, let me know what you do.

Is this news? Maybe not. This article outlines how TPB was hacked over a month ago. Close the door man! It’s wide open.

SEOpen Google PageRank Status & Duplicate Tab Addons for FireFox 3.6.x

2 Jun

Sorry, wrong version in the image. It was easy to recycle this image though.

I updated some great Firefox addon extensions again so they’ll work with the latest greatest.  My previous post about Google PageRank Status and SEOpen has the links to the files. Enjoy.

Intel 4500mhd Shared Video Change Allocated Memory

12 Dec

intelMy mostly spiffy new Acer 1810t laptop uses the Intel 4500 video chipset. It’s fine for video as long as you’re not a modern gamer. If you like playing older games, it works fine. However, unlike older integrated video processors, there’s no easy way to directly change the amount of shared memory allocated to video. The Intel 4500hmd uses new fangled Dynamic Video Memory Technology (dvmt) to control memory on the fly. Problem is, it doesn’t work well.

Intel 4500mhd memory allocation problem

There are plenty of gamers complaining, “the 4500mhd won’t allocate the maximum memory for my game!” But usually, more memory won’t help them. The Intel 4500mhd isn’t meant for modern gaming. Poke around on Google for threads re: what games can be played.

Some people have suggested changing the settings under: Intel Graphics Media Accelerator Driver for mobile -> 3D Settings -> Driver Memory Footprint – but everything I’ve read has been telling people to set it to “high” whereas the Intel site indicates that setting the driver memory footprint to high will unconditionally limit the amount of memory, maximum allowed texture size, depth buffer precision and amount of textures kept in memory. FAIL.

No wonder everybody trying “high” hasn’t noticed any improvement. To be fair, Intel really dropped the ball here. Yes = No ?! High = Low ?!

My problem is exactly the opposite of the 4500mhd RAM gaming conundrum partially solved above. I don’t use my rig for gaming, and I want to be able to use as much of my four gigs of RAM for things like Photoshop swap files and whatnot. So… I’m going to set Driver Memory Footprint to “High” – restart – and hopefully I’ll notice more than 3 of my 4 GB RAM available to me.

More from the Intel site:

Normal (Default Value) – Driver automatically determines memory based on available memory.

LOW – Driver does not reduce memory footprint.

Dan Dreifort usually complains about tech here. But sometimes, he finds solutions to problems and shares them with YOU. What a mensch.
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