Monday, 18 September 2017

ccleaner trojan

I have to admit, I do use Windows! I use it for GSAK, the geocaching database, which it so totally useful, I couldn't do without it. And it needs Windows. But that's all I use Windows for.

Except, in using GSAK, I need to tell it about my two accounts, so it can access data from them. And I have to give it the authority to do that. But in order to do that, I have to scrub off the login data from the previous one I gave permission for; doesn't really expect me to have two accounts, I suppose.

To scrub off the previous data, I use CCleaner, and I have done for several years. And each time I use it, it offers to update itself, and I say "No thanks".

But if you're a user of Avast antivirus, and got your CCleaner from them, you may have a problem. Avast have accidentally been distributing a trojanised version of their software.


13 out of 58

A dozen copies of this appeared in my mailbox.

Date: Mon, 18 Sep 2017 09:34:09
From: Phyllis Luty <>


Could you please let me know the status of the attached invoice? I
appreciate your help!

Best regards,

Phyllis Luty

It was sent to me four hours ago, and there's been a steady tricle of the same thing ever since. So I scanned it.

As usual, most products failed to flag it. Nine products weren't able to scan any file compressed with 7z compression. Notice how the products that succeeded are different for each malware I show to Virustotal.

If you're relying on an antivirus scanner to protect you, then you're using a chocolate teapot.

Friday, 15 September 2017

What causes floods?

Water. You probably already knew that. But where does all that water come from?

I'm not going to discuss Tsunamis here, except to mention that it's an undersea earthquake, and if you're ever on the beach and the tide suddenly goes out, and out, and out, then the thing to do is run as fast as you can for higher ground, because that's the only way to be saved. In the2004 tsunami, 280,000 people were killed.

No, I'm talking about a more frequent event; floods caused by storms and hurricanes (a hurricane is a storm, only much stronger).

The storm is carrying lots of moisture, which it picked up from the evaporating sea (see my article on hurricanes). When the storm is over land, it is no longer getting the warm air from the ocean, so it cools down, and cooler air can't carry as much water vapour as warm air, so the water vapour condenses to water, and falls as rain. Lots of rain. Harvey dumped 52 inches of rain on Houston. Lots of people are shorter than that.

But that isn't all. There's also a storm surge; the storm winds push offshore ware onshore ... and then you get high tide.

Add all this together, and you get a flood, because all that water is trying to get away from where it is, down to the sea, but if you're on level ground, the water doesn't know where to go and just hangs about.

But that isn't all. Rain is clean, but when it piles up four feet above the ground, it gets all kinds of muck swirling around in it, including sewage. Don't drink it! And if there's a toxic chemical dump nearby, it'll pick that up too. What kind of city has a toxic chemical dump near a residential area? Cities that don't have restrictions on what you can build and where. Like Houston.

Eventually, the flood subsides, and people can get down off their roofs (don't go up into an attic, unless you can break through into the roof, because otherwise, you'll be stuck) and start the clean-up. Which will be massive, because water damages pretty much everything.

What causes storms and hurricanes?

And this is the one that a lot of people don't understand, and which is most often ascribed to a supernatural entity smiting the wicked, where "wicked" is defined by the various speakers as "people I disapprove of".
But again, it's a natural phenomenon. Here's how it works.

You have an ocean, and you have the sun. And this mostly happens near the equator, where you get lots of sun. The sun warms the water. And the sun evaporates the water. So you get warm, moist air near the surface of the ocean. But hot air (and warm air) rises, because it's lighter than cold air.Up it goes!

And the rising warm, moist air is replaced by cooler air coming in from the sides. But that gets heated up and moistened, so it also rises, and in comes more cooler air.

As the cooler air comes in, it's pushed by the Coriolis Effect. That makes the incoming air swirl, in the classic pattern you see with hurricanes as seen from above.So they swirl clockwise in the Southern hemisphere, and anticlockwise in the Northern.

So you get this huge, swirling cloud, and the winds can be pretty strong; a "category 5" hurricane has winds blowing at 156 mph. Irma, which hit Florida recently, was category 5.

A typhoon is just another word for a hurricane. A tropical storm is also the same thing, but less fierce.

So the hurricane swirls and the swirl drifts relative to the earth's surface. It's very difficult to predict which way it's going to go, it's so very very complex. People make guesses (actually, it's a bit more than a guess) but you shouldn't treat those forecasts as totally accurate.

The only way to deal with a hurricane is to get as far away from it as you can, and don't leave it till the last minute, because that's what everyone else is doing, and you'll get caught in an almighty traffic jam. A second thing you can do, is build your buildings with hurricanes in mind, if you live in a place that gets hurricanes. The third thing you can do, is what I do. I live in a place that doesn't get hurricanes, except that we did get the Great Storm of 1987 with wind speeds up to 100 mph, knocking down 15 million trees! And it knocked down a brick wall in my garden; we heard a great "THUMP" but stayed indoors; later when it was all over, we saw the broken wall.

When a hurricane drifts over land, it's cut off from the source of its food, the warm ocean. So as it goes over land, it loses intensity, which is nice. But if it then goes over water again, it can pick up strength. Irma did that. It birthed just of the coast of Africa, travelled across the Atlantic gaining strength as it went, hit the Caribbean, hit the Bahamas (and weakened to a Category 4), but then strengthened back to Cat 5. Cuba weakened it again, but it was still intense when it hit Florida.

Irma killed 82 people, and did more than $60 billion in damage. Awesome.

What causes forest fires?

That's pretty simple. If you have forests, you have trees, and trees are wood. You also have undergrowth, which can be flammable. After a long hot summer or other dry period, it's like a bonfire waiting to be lit. Some arseholes start fires, either deliberately (major arseholes) or accidentally (minor arseholes). But even without arseholes, lightning can start a fire.

If you're anywhere near a forest fire, get away as fast as you can. Because they can spread really fast.

To put out a forest fire, you need a bit of advance preparation. If you look around forests in England, you'll see wide lanes where the trees are all cut down, these are called firebreaks. The idea is to make it a lot more difficult for the fire to spread, it will find it hard to cross a wide lane where there's no flammable material.

And then, mostly, you dump water on the fire, or something else that smothers it. But you do it mostly from an airplane, so you don't get burned.

What causes earthquakes?

There are some people, especially victims of one or another religion, think that earthquakes are sent by their god to punish humanity for ... and then they give their favourite sin. But the cause is fairly simple.

Look at an orange. It's pretty much a sphere, with an outer rind, and all the nice juicy stuff inside.

The earth isn't so simple. There is all the juicy stuff inside (molten rock, you see it squirting out with volcanoes) and big plates of solid stuff float on top of that. But those solid plates rub against each other.

Take two slabs of wood, and push then hard together. Now, while pushing them together, try to move one of them against the other. Nothing will happen as you start to try to move them, then suddenly you'll get one sliding over the other.

Or. Sit down, and rest your foot on the floor. push your foot forward. Nothing will happen at first, but then after you've increased the pressure, your foot will suddenly move forward, then stop. And you can repeat this a few times.

It's the same with earthquakes. The plates are compressed together but are also trying to move relative to each other. Nothing happens for a while, and then suddenly, there's movement. That shakes everything nearby. That's an earthquake.

In England, we don't get earthquakes. Actually, that's not exactly true, I know of two that I actually felt. For the first one, I was on the phone to someone, and I felt a kind of little bump. I told the other guy on the phone, and after a couple of minutes, he said, "Oh! I just felt it too!". That's because the waves carrying the energy of the earthquake, travel at about 6 km/second. The other one, I just felt a slight "bmp" (not even a "bump") and I read in the newspaper that there had been an earthquake, and somewhat to the north of me, a few slates had fallen off roofs.

They get earthquakes in Japan, California and other places near to places where there are two plates moving. So they have building regulations to make their buildings earthquake-resistant. If you live somewhere that has earthquakes, you can find out of your building is earthquake-resistant.

What causes eclipses?

There are two main kinds of eclipse; solar and lunar.

Solar eclipses are when the moon gets between the earth and the sun. You can easily imagine the shadow of the moon obscuring the sun, just as the shadow of a cloud might on most days in England. As the earth rotates, the shadow moves across the earth (just as the shadow of a cloud moves when the cloud is blown along). In the middle of that shadow, the moon totally obscures the sun, that's called a total eclipse. If you move away from that place of total eclipse, you'll get to places where the moon only partially obscures the sun. That's a partial eclipse.

DO NOT look at the sun. Ever. It will damage your vision, permanently. I'd even be wary of looking at the sun using dark goggles - you'd better the absolutely certain that the goggles are dark enough. A better way is to use a pinhole solar camera and look at the image that you get.

Donald Trump looked directly at the sun during the 2017 eclipse. 'Nuff said.

Contrary to what the Times newspaper says, the shadow of the moon does not cross the sun. That's muddled thinking of a severity that makes me scratch my head.

A lunar eclipse happens when the shadow of the earth falls on to the moon. They are quite common; you get a lunar eclipse two to four times per year. It isn't as spectacular as a solar eclipse, but whereas with a solar eclipse, only the people who are in the path of the moon's shadow can see it, with a lunar eclipse, everyone on the night side of the earth can see it.

It is quite safe to look at the moon, any time you want.

Because the orbits of the earth and moon are entirely predictable, dates and times of eclipses are too.