Friday, September 25, 2009

Drudge, other sites flooded with malicious ads

Drudge, other sites flooded with malicious ads and were also affected
By Robert McMillan

Criminals flooded several online ad networks with malicious advertisements over the weekend, causing popular Web sites such as the Drudge Report, and to inadvertently attack their readers, a security company said Wednesday.

The trouble started on Saturday, when the criminals somehow placed the malicious ads on networks managed by Google's DoubleClick, as well as two others: YieldManager and ValueClick's Fastclick network, according to Mary Landesman, a senior security researcher with ScanSafe.

The attack comes just a week after the New York Times Web site was tricked into displaying a deceptive 'scareware' advertisement for fake antivirus software from scammers pretending to be ad buyers with Vonage, an Internet telephony company.

Instead of trying to trick Web surfers into buying bogus software, these ads attacked.

They would pop up a nearly invisible window in the victim's browser that contained a maliciously encoded pdf document, which included attack code that placed a variant of the Win32/Alureon Trojan horse program on the victim's computer. Sometimes, the ads would also try to exploit a previously patched flaw in Microsoft's DirectShow software, Landesman said.

"The user would have seen a very brief opening of a blank pdf window and it would be at the bottom portion of their screen," she said. The Alureon Trojan is known to download additional malware and often hijack victims' search results, she said.

The pdf attacks apparently only affected victims with out-of-date versions of Adobe's Reader or Acrobat software, she added.

Between Saturday and Monday, the ads accounted for 11 percent of all Web pages blocked by ScanSafe's Web filtering software, a sign that many people were being presented with the malicious ads. And because the pdf pages were modified slightly every time they were displayed, most antivirus products didn't detect them.

In tests, ScanSafe found that only 3 out of 41 antivirus vendors detected the malware.

"To be honest, they were pretty clever in the way they carried this out," Landesman said. "They managed to infiltrate sites that enjoy very good traffic and they were able to use a mechanism for creating this pdf that caused it to be nearly completely undetected."

This is not the first time Google's DoubleClick has been associated with this type of malicious advertising. Earlier this year criminals placed similar ads on the home page of technology trade magazine eWeek, whose ads were managed by DoubleClick.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Signs Your Job Is in Danger: A Job-Loss Guide
By Ric Edelman

Here’s my special report for dealing with potential unemployment. You’ll learn what the warning signs are; how to prepare for a layoff; what to do if you lose your job; and if starting a business is right for you.

No one wants to be blindsided by bad news, especially when that news means you don’t have a job anymore. If you’re worried about job security, keep your eyes and ears open for the following signs:

Your employer is facing financial trouble.

Pay attention to the company’s financial targets and whether your company is meeting them. Declining profit margins, revenues, or stock prices are potential indicators of a problem. If your firm is acquired, remember that acquisitions often mean layoffs as the merged firm eliminates redundancies.

A new emphasis has been placed on cost cutting, including routine expenses.

Have training and travel budgets been cut, or office supplies not ordered? Worse yet, have staff members been asked to take a pay cut? It is prudent for companies to cut back, but be aware that when easy costs have been eliminated, the next way for companies to reduce expenses is to reduce payroll.

People are treating you differently — and not in a good way.

Your boss won’t look you in the eye, your workload has been reduced, or you’re not being included in new projects or important meetings. Being asked to cross-train co-workers is also a bad sign.

A hiring freeze is in effect.

Even if the company hasn’t instituted an official hiring freeze, pay attention to whether new positions are being advertised or filled. If HR staff members seem really busy despite a hiring freeze, that’s not good. They could be gearing up for layoffs.

Other friends in the industry are losing their jobs.

If many of your friends with similar positions in similar industries have lost their jobs, maybe you should be worried about yours, too.

The rumor mill is in overdrive and all the higher-ups are busy in closed-door meetings.

Office gossip isn’t nice, but it can serve a purpose at times. If you’re hearing rumblings of potential layoffs, don’t ignore them, especially if you’re seeing other signs.

How to Prepare for a Layoff

Prepare your family.
Discuss the family’s finances with your spouse and kids — anyone old enough to understand the conversation — and let them know a change in lifestyle might be needed. Try to make it a positive: Turn cost-cutting into a game and see who can come up with the most ideas to save money. Alter current practices — borrow DVDs from the library instead of going to the movies or subscribing to cable TV. Talk often and openly so each member of the family can contribute and feel like a part of the solution. Open communication also lets family members provide emotional support when one person gets upset.

Increase your cash reserves.
Start living as though you’ve already been laid off. Take the newfound cash and bank it. Aim for at least a year’s worth of living expenses — and 24 to 36 months’ worth is even better.

Examine your credit.
Apply for new lines of credit — both home equity loans and credit cards. Do it now, while you still have an income. If you have credit card debt, try to lower your rates now.

Use your health insurance while you still have it.
That means going to the doctor or dentist if you’re due for an exam. Have treatments — including surgery — that you have been putting off. Tell your doctor that you might lose your job, so he or she will agree to give you a 90- or 180-day supply of prescription medication before you lose your coverage. After you lose your job, you may have to pay for your own insurance for a long time, so be sure to budget for those premiums.

Make yourself more valuable.
Take on more responsibilities at work to show the company your true worth. Keep a positive attitude even if you’re feeling lousy. And — whatever you do — don’t act as though you’re too important to be laid off. Everyone is fair game — even CEOs.

Continue to fund your 401(k) plan.
But never borrow from it. If you’ve made the huge mistake of borrowing from your plan, repay that money immediately, even if you must borrow the money elsewhere. If you do get laid off, you’ll have 30 to 90 days to pay it back or face taxes and IRS penalties on the unpaid balance.

Plan to negotiate severance.
Since you suspect it’s coming, take the time to research what a fair severance package would be and determine how you will negotiate for it. Start high, based on your experience and years of service, and be willing to compromise.

Postpone nonessential spending.
If you have a vacation, renovation, or other nonessential expense planned, cancel it.

Keep an eye out for other opportunities.
Refresh your resume and develop your network. Start the job hunt.

Remember that you are not your job.
People lose jobs all the time. While a job loss is stressful, it shouldn’t feel like a death in the family. Don’t become too emotionally attached to the company you work for, and don’t link your self-esteem to your job. Business is business. Your new job is getting your next job.

What to Do If You Lose Your Job

There’s an old joke about the difference between recession and depression: A recession is when your neighbor loses his job, and a depression is when you lose yours. Unfortunately, there’s nothing funny about getting laid off. If that’s happened to you, these tips can help you.

1. File for unemployment benefits.
Unemployment insurance benefits are paid to eligible employees who, through no fault of their own, lose their jobs. Each state sets its own benefit amounts, eligibility requirements, and benefit length. (Most states offer benefits for up to 26 weeks, though many have recently extended benefits for several more weeks.) To apply, contact an office of your state unemployment agency. It generally takes two weeks for benefit payments to begin, the first being a “waiting week,” which is not reimbursed, and the second being the time lag between eligibility for the program and actual payment of the first benefit.

2. Examine your finances.
Let your financial planner know you’ve been laid off so he or she can help you evaluate your situation. First, identify your sources of income, including severance, unemployment benefits, and cash reserves. Your planner can also show you how to generate income from your investments to reduce any gaps between your income and your expenses. And you don’t need us to tell you to reduce spending, right?

3. Evaluate your health insurance coverage.
Find out how long your former employer will maintain your coverage. See if your spouse has a plan you can join, and explore buying an individual policy. If you worked for a company with 20 or more employees, you’re eligible for COBRA, a law that ensures you can continue coverage for 18 months, but you must pay for it, and it’s expensive. Thanks to one of President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus programs, the federal government now covers 65% of COBRA premiums for nine months, and this benefit helps those laid off as long ago as last September. To learn more about COBRA, contact your planner or visit

4. Transfer the money in your employer’s retirement plan to an IRA.
If your employer is experiencing financial trouble, get your money out of its retirement plan. Most employer plans have limited investment choices, so you can likely build a better portfolio — and secure greater ease of access to your funds — by moving the money to an IRA. Done correctly, there should be no fees or taxes for doing so.

5. Follow up on employer termination benefits, including references.
Losing your job is traumatic, and you may not have paid much attention when you were told about all the benefits available to you. Go back to your employer for a complete list, which often includes career counseling, job placement assistance, and references.

6. Realize that your new job is to get a new job.
No matter how generous your severance package, it is finite. That means you must start looking for work immediately. Update your resume. Tell everyone you know that you are looking for employment. (Don’t be embarrassed that you lost your job — nearly one in 10 Americans is out of work.) Your search might take time, so use the eight hours of free time you now have each day to search for your new job.

7. Consider a new career.
Losing a job is an opportunity to move to the career you’ve always wanted. Go beyond your field and consider jobs that can exploit your skills. Talk with friends and family about the possibilities — they know your strengths — and write a resume targeting those fields.
Consider hiring a career coach to help you.

8. Know when to lower your expectations.
If you’re not having luck with your search, you may need to compromise. Create a series of drop-dead dates: one for when you will settle for less than your dream job; a date for when you will lower your salary expectations; and a date for when you will accept any position so you don’t run out of money. It probably won’t come to that, but you’ll feel a little better knowing you have a plan.

9. Enjoy your time off.
Consider yourself on a forced vacation. You have a guilt-free opportunity to spend more time with your family, recharge your batteries, and support the community through volunteering. When an interviewer asks you what you’ve been doing since you lost your job, he or she will be impressed with your outlook and your positive attitude.

Feeling embarrassed about being a ‘government welfare’ recipient? Good!

That attitude will help spur you to find work quickly. But in this economy, losing a job and finding the next one can both be beyond your control, so don’t feel that being out of work constitutes personal failure on your part. And remember that your employer has paid unemployment taxes for just this reason. Pride matters, though, so if you don’t need the money, it’s equally fine not to take it.

Is Starting a Business Right for You?

Frustrated job seekers often fantasize about starting their own business. The opportunity to be the boss, succeeding or failing by their own talents, is a powerful draw.

But the truth is that few are meant to be entrepreneurs. At least one-third of new businesses do not survive past two years, and 56% don’t make it past five years, according to the Small Business Administration.

The Bureau of Labor suggests that anyone looking into going into business for him- or herself should ask the following questions:

* Will becoming self-employed meet my career goals?
* Am I willing to work long hours each day?
* Do I have skills in a profession, trade, or hobby that can be converted into a business?
* Does my idea for a business effectively use my skills and abilities?
* Am I a good planner and organizer?
* Can I make my own decisions?
* Am I willing to postpone my plans in order to get more education, if necessary?
* Does my family support my endeavor?
* Can I afford the financial and emotional risks if the business fails?

Starting a business is risky. For starters, you need capital because it may be years before you start producing revenue and enjoying profits. In the meantime, you’ll spend hours developing your business — many of them on mundane tasks like bookkeeping, cleaning up, and paperwork.

So if you’re turning your photography hobby into a business, know that you’ll do a lot more than take pictures: You’ll market to customers, schedule events, and bill clients. You’ll have to pay for your own insurance, you’ll enjoy no paid vacations or time off, and you’ll spend lots of money on attorneys and accountants. And instead of getting rid of your boss, or being your own boss, you’ll now have dozens, even hundreds, of bosses: Every customer is your boss, and you’ll do what they all say.

Still interested? Independence comes with a price. You’ll have to dedicate more time to your business than you did to your old job. Your family must be on board, since they’ll have to make sacrifices, too — you’ll see less of them and it may be a while before you make any money. You’ll have to be decisive; success (or failure) hinges on your decisions. If you decide to start a business with a partner, you’ll have to make sure you’re in sync and have plans for breaking up, which is inevitable (if only due to death or retirement).

This is not to discourage you from opening a business. Entrepreneurship is part of the American dream for many — myself included. Just be sure to go in with your eyes open and your sleeves rolled up.
If you’re convinced that you’re about to lose your job and you’re unlikely to be compensated for unused vacation or personal days, take those days off now — and use that time to start seeking other work.

Motivational Monday

Thought for the Day

September 21, 2009


Success always involves risk. You must take a chance by investing your time, money, and effort. It pays to be thoughtful and deliberate in your analyses of opportunities, but don’t let timidity hold you back. Because you have worked hard to develop those things you must risk, it is natural for you to place a high value on them. But what use are they if you do not put them to use? You will recognize opportunity only to the extent that you are willing to consider risking your time, money, and effort. Being confident gives you the courage to face risk and act when opportunity arises. No one on earth is going to force success upon you; you will find it only to the degree that you actively seek it out.

This positive message is brought to you by the Napoleon Hill Foundation. Visit us at We encourage you to forward this to friends and family. They can sign up for this free service at our web site.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Motivational Monday

Thought for the Day
September 13, 2009


It is a curious quirk of human nature that some people can see opportunities, while others only see problems. When you train your mind to seek out opportunities, you will find that every day literally presents you with more opportunities than you can take advantage of. They will be all around you. Instead of your seeking opportunities, they will seek you out. Your biggest problem will be choosing the best ones. The first step in making sure you are ready to recognize opportunities when they occur is to make sure you have a clear understanding of your own core competencies. Realistically assess your strengths and weaknesses as though you were reviewing the credentials of a total stranger. Identify what areas you’re best in and those where you need improvement. Work on your weaknesses and build upon your strengths so that when you recognize opportunities you are prepared to capitalize upon them.

This positive message is brought to you by the Napoleon Hill Foundation. Visit us at We encourage you to forward this to friends and family. They can sign up for this free service at our web site.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

How to make yourself layoff-proof

How to make yourself layoff-proof

10 tips on taking initiative now to avoid a future trip to the unemployment office.
By Denise Dubie

Despite talk of an economic recovery on the horizon, countless lost jobs won't be replaced and IT organizations are still weighing layoffs as a way to cut operations budgets.

How to get fired
Where the IT jobs are: 10 American cities

Recent survey data from Forrester Research shows more than 60% of IT managers expect to cut staff this year.

"Right now, even the boss is worried about his position," says Adam Lawrence, vice president of service delivery at talent and outsourcing service provider Yoh. "They are looking for staff accomplishments to take to their managers to justify the existence of remaining team members."

Here IT professionals and industry experts share 10 tips that could help tech workers stay in their employers' good graces and avoid being laid off, even as the economy begins its gradual recovery.

1. Dig in

IT workers in precarious employment positions need to take on extra work, log more hours and essentially show their employers they want to be there, experts say. With budgets remaining flat or down, IT managers are being asked to assess staff for reductions or potential outsourcing options. You don't want to be the employee who comes up short during such assessments.

"One key thing to remember is that when IT organizations are doing layoffs, they aren't looking for people to get rid of, they are determining which people to keep," says Beth Carvin, CEO of Nobscot, a maker of HR-related software based on Kailua, Hawaii. "Take initiative and do things that would make the company want to keep an employee like you."

For instance, if your company is looking into expanding its wireless network, study up on the technology and offer that self-training as a resource. Or understand what skills might be missing from the team and try to fill the gap – without being asked.

"When I first started, I found there was a shortage of server load-balancing expertise," says Colt Mercer, a network engineer at Citigroup in Dallas and a Network World Google Subnet blogger. "I spent my entire first week studying server load balancing and when an issue came up, I was able to show my worth."

2. Follow the money

IT workers should know what systems and projects ultimately will drive revenue for the business. And they should work to get assigned those projects.

"To the extent they can influence it, IT pros should land themselves on revenue-generating or customer-facing projects," says Sean Ebner, regional vice president for Technisource. "Internal roles are critical, but getting aligned with customers and those activities will make technical workers more valuable to business managers."

If business-related projects aren't immediately available, some advise IT workers to get involved with the sales team, offering up their technical know-how to help them close deals with potential customers.

"Tech workers can go above and beyond by bringing product delivery and sales closer together, and really lift morale because companies need all workers coming together to bring in business," says Michael Kirven, principal and co-founder of IT resourcing firm Bluewolf.

3. Feed your brain

Resources may be scarce, but experts recommend IT pros find low-cost training or other self-study options to expand their technical knowledge in ways that would benefit the company – and ultimately themselves.

"Technology workers need to be professional managers of their careers and in bettering themselves, their employers will also reap rewards," says Yoh's Lawrence.

Training, self-funded or at the expense of the employer, will show bosses that a worker not only wants to be on staff, but is still interested in advancing his career with that particular company.

"The key to keeping your job is demonstrating your return on investment. You cost your company a certain amount of money, but if you can show you are gaining value at no cost to them and that your knowledge will positively impact the bottom line in either cost savings or revenue growth, then you will be considered an asset," says Rich Milgram, CEO of, an online job board.

4. Become a business technology expert

It's not just something people say; IT staffers need to become business-savvy to advance their careers and essentially keep their jobs.

"It's been said often, but IT really needs to be a business enabler and not a problem fixer," says Chris Silva, senior analyst at Forrester Research. "High-tech workers who have had 'business-sensitivity' training, meaning they don't talk in technical terms to the business managers, will be kept longer than IT pros who can't translate the technology directly to business issues."

Coupling technology know-how with insight into what makes a business succeed can help staffers maintain a long career.

"We eliminated 100 positions in technology last year, but we are still aggressively hiring business analysts," says Perry Rotella, president of Society for Information Management (SIM) New York and CIO and senior vice president at Moody's. "Training our technical people and having them understand the business has been a long-term strategy for us."

5. Think cheap

Headcount reductions are often an effort to cut costs, but IT pros who prove to managers they can find inexpensive technology and reduce costs in-house could save their jobs.

"Think like the owner. Don't waste resources or buy things that really aren't critical," Nobscot's Carvin says. "Employees that are efficient are chosen to stay over those that act irresponsibly with budgets."

IT pros should not only check price tags, but also offer cost-effective alternatives to the status quo. Citigroup's Mercer introduced automation tasks that enabled his company to save time and money, while also avoiding downtime caused by human error.

"We had a lot of mundane tasks and I knew a few scripting languages so I was able to streamline workflows and become valuable in terms of our automation strategy," he explains.

6. Stay away from the drama

Most companies have a bit of in-office drama, but it's best to stay far away from the water cooler gossip during tough economic times.

"You really want to present yourself as a likeable person, a great citizen at work," says Lori Gale, president of online job board FastLane Hires. "Don't be one of those people that hangs around the water cooler gossiping and acting stressed out. You will call attention to yourself for the wrong reasons."

Be optimistic, adds Lauren Milligan, resume expert/job coach at in Chicago. "Everyone has problems, including your manager. Don't become an added source of problems," she says.

It's best to avoid making negative comments about your peers, too. "People that find and offer solutions are much more valuable than the people that identify problems and do little more," says SIM New York's Rotella.

7. Sell yourself

While many in IT aren't accustomed to the spotlight, experts recommend high-tech workers learn how to sell their skills to the company.

"Toot your own horn. This is not the time for humility. In the current business arena in which everyone is stretched thin, make sure your accomplishments are noticed," says Katie Prizy, communications specialist at IT talent provider Instant Technology in Chicago.

And to be able to truly demonstrate their contributions to the company, IT pros need to be able to measure what their work has added to the bottom line.

"If you can't measure your own success and be able to clearly demonstrate how your technology work has benefited the company, then you can't expect managers to be able to when it comes time to reduce staff,"'s Milgram says.

IT workers should continually track and document where their ideas, work or processes changed technology systems for the better at the company. Having this information at the ready will enable IT pros to make a better case for themselves staying on staff.

"Track your technical and business accomplishments – if you do not continually evolve as an employee, you become less needed," says Elizabeth DeFazio, vice president at IT staffing and recruiting firm Instant Technology.

8. Mentor others

Share your knowledge, career experts say.

"IT people need to get out of the knowledge-hoarding mentality. They need to let people know what they know and share the knowledge and information willingly," Carvin says. "That will make them more invaluable to employers."

Knowledge can be a powerful thing, and sharing information that's critical to a company's technical success will impress managers.

"I am big on mentoring, and I spend a lot of time training others. People see me as approachable and come to me with questions, asking me for help," Mercer says. "The managers notice that people seem to naturally follow me and I assume makes them want to keep me here."

9. Make yourself available

During the downturn, some groups in IT may not be as busy as others. IT pros in the groups that seem slow should be offering themselves up for projects in other departments.

"If companies have five people that administer the network, but one of them also knows servers, managers might get rid of the highly specialized worker in favor of that person that could be considered an IT generalist, working in many areas," says Bryan Sullins, principal tech trainer at New Horizons in Hartford, Conn., and a Network World blogger. "IT pros that won't cross those boundaries are hurting themselves."

Working on projects outside of the normal routine is valued by managers -- and also helps IT workers add to their skills.

"One thing that helps is to be willing to take on new challenges, even if it is outside of your normal routine. I once had to project plan for a PBX upgrade, and I learned an immense amount about how they work," says Dwayne Whitmore, senior systems engineer in the technology services group for Carolinas HealthCare System in Charlotte, N.C. "The knowledge from that project helped me understand VoIP better."

Reaching out across the IT lines could ultimately save a job.

"IT pros should create as many relationships and alliances as possible in their organization. The more people they know, the more they see the work of different groups first hand, the more likely they can make a case for being cross-functional and avoid layoffs," says John Reed, district president with Robert Half Technology.

10. Smile, be happy

Never underestimate the power of a positive attitude.

Presenting a positive attitude, despite the challenges, will help managers – who are also taxed beyond their resources -- understand which employees are happy to be on the job.

"The person who with a smile takes on new challenges that alleviate some of the pains of the management team will become invaluable,"'s Milgram says. "As people are laid off, it creates an atmosphere around you that is very difficult. Remaining flexible, available and positive during such times is paramount."

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Motivational Monday (on Tuesday)

Are You a Shark or a Goldfish?

If you are concerned about the future and anxious about your situation, I know how you feel. I lost my job in 2001 during the bust. The company was losing money faster than we could raise it and eventually the company sank faster than the Titanic. I thought it was the worst event of my life. I was two months away from being bankrupt. I had a wife, two young children, a mortgage, no health insurance, and very little savings. I was a paycheck away from losing it all.

It sounds bad. It felt bad. Seen from one point of view I suppose it was bad. But one day I decided that I wasn’t going to let this challenge take me down. And that’s when I knew I had to change what I was thinking and doing.

I read a few books which helped me make some important decisions through the change. Eventually these decisions would lead to the work I do now as a writer, consultant, and speaker. I often joke that I went from Fired to Fired Up. My layoff led to my life’s mission and purpose. What I thought was the worst event in my life actually lead to the best. I realized that dealing with waves of change is all about how we perceive and respond to the change we are facing.

Change comes in all forms. A new business model at work, a reassignment, a lost job, a new job, new leadership, new policies, new rules for a tough economy, new government regulation, layoffs, personal adversity, professional challenges. Change is inevitable and while we can’t control the events in our life we can control how we respond to them.

When the wave of change hits we have a choice. We can allow the wave to crush us or we can embrace the change, learn from it and ride it to a positive future. We can move forward with determination and faith that our best days are ahead of us, not behind us.

Most importantly we can decide whether we are a shark or a goldfish. Goldfish wait to be fed. Sharks go find food. Which one are you? Share your thoughts on our blog.

Register HereI hope you’ll join us for a free tele-seminar Sept. 14th where I’ll share strategies from my latest book The Shark and the Goldfish to help you and your team thrive during change. Register here.

- Jon

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Interview with Star Trek writer

A long put very indebt interview with Rick Berman.

Berman for posterity
This three hour long interview was conducted May 31st 2006, which was Berman’s last year under contract at Paramount [interview was put online in April, but just came to our attention]. It was done by the Archive of American Television which is part of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (who put on the Emmy Awards). The Archive has a large library of these kinds of "oral histories" which are quite comprehensive. The interview covers Berman’s early career and then goes into lengthy sections for the four Trek shows Berman produced (TNG, DS9, VOY, & ENT), then wraps up talking about the TNG feature films and some summary questions.

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