Tuesday, August 28, 2007

My Blogging History

It’s been 8 months now that http://techxtreme.blogspot.com is up and this gives me an immense pleasure to think that this time I have been able to stay for so long with a blog. I started to blog after being introduced to the concept by a still junior “dude”, this name by which he liked himself to be called, about 3 years back. I could never know his real name but that is a whole different story so let us leave it aside.

My First Blog:

The first blog was called “Abhi is great” (http://abhi-is-great.blogspot.com …It doesn’t exist now) for a simple reason that I never cared to observe, very carefully, “dude’s” blog, probably the only one I knew of at that time, to make out what put it distinctly in the category of blogs, rather than regular websites. And I felt a sense of pride in the doing this exploration work, just as in everything else I do! As I did some amount of “forumming” for gaining knowledge about some software and tips and tricks to make my system a bit faster than it was, so I could understand what I was about to do, when after selecting out the template, received a message that asked me to continue to ‘Write my first post’. The very first post was a brief introduction about me and a message of thanks to Dude who introduced me to this stuff. Then I tried the various templates offered by the blogger. I must admit that I knew nothing of HTML at that time except that it was something Hypertext Markup Language (didn’t even knew what this meant!). So I never indulged into it. It was interesting to mess around with this thing and understanding some terms in the settings and elsewhere around. This meant I didn’t write anything for long periods of time altogether and frankly that was because of two reasons:

  • Studies
  • I never had an idea of what I could scribble there! I was even unsure if I could write anything at all even if I knew what I could write about.

The result: A few funny pictures up there, a few tricks to boost up performance on your system (from here and there! Without any mention of the source ever :wicked: ). And all this mixed pickle of a blog was down in less than two months because it never looked good to me and I never could like my very own blog.

How and what did I learn then: "Blog" had become the buzzword by this time and there were now many that interested me or helped me someway. I was just as comfortable going through a blog as reading an e-book or so. I saw better designs, better add-ons (text-boxes, videos, blogrolls, etc.) and better content. Of course there were some blogs that I found better than the others, and I noticed that they interest me because they are based on some select theme. For example, there were tech blogs coming up, and then there were blogs dedicated to news, and others were views on news… Fun, Sports, Automobiles, Machines, History, etc. and the list goes on. Out of these, jokes and funny cartoons were the ones that amused me the most. These would make me lighter when I got bored from reading all the scientific stuff I wanted to read. By this time I had also learnt a bit about basic HTML from www.w3schools.com and I could now understand what some parts of a blog template (in www.blogger.com) meant. So, I decided to have one blog for my own and by myself to read and amuse me.

Hence came up “The Fully Faltoo Blog” [English: (Faltoo: useless)]. This sounded a pretty light name for a comedy centered blog, to me. And I’d post funny cartoons, jokes, and other light stuff that I had stored on my PC. I never promoted it or told anyone about this one, because I had this one up to amuse me. I never felt the urge to show it to my friends. I’d just go on to read it what I had already read about, or seen on my very own PC and soon I began losing interest in it. At the same time, I started to edit the layout and design of my blog. I’d change the “posted by” to “written by” or “uploaded by” or to whatever came in my mind. And similarly with the other things. I’d use pictures to decorate my blog or change the background or change the color of the navigation bar and much other unnecessary time-pass stuff like these. And one fine day seeing my blog in my browser I realized all this stuff was too girlish for me to do. And there was no fun seeing what I had already seen.

The one important thing I learned from this episode was that only original or fairly unknown but interesting stuff is the life of a blog and that too if it’s well-written and formatted.

The Result: This blog too, breathed its last when I deleted it. That wasn’t its fault though, for I wanted to do more experiments with it but mom’s scolding one day spoiled my mood so much so that I deleted this one. Anyway, it was gone.

In all the forumming I was into those times, I came to know about www.xanga.com and www.wordpress.com etc. I didn’t like xanga simply because it had a weird name, so I decided I would try out Wordpress (WP). Then started my niche-blogging on the subject of ‘tech’. This was inspired from the forumming I was into again (thanks, www.thinkdigit.com/forum ). But then I stepped into many other things simultaneously like the google pages, my own forums (even they don’t exist anymore!) Hari might remember talking to me at TAZ some day (My handle: TheGodThatFailed). Anyway, the wordpress blog was named techxtreme and it too went down in lesser time than the blogger blogs. This was because the ‘free’ option didn’t provide any amount of customizability except changing the blog-title with any picture of own choice! I moved back to blogger.

And, then came http://techxtreme.blogspot.com. At first this blog carried tech-related articles from various places that I learned from, like the http://techbuzz.net and www.thinkdigit.com/forum. Writing on, at this place, though inconsistently and reading other blogs and websites helped me improve my writing skills (somewhat!). I must mention the best inspiration for the recent posts, that is RT Cunningham’s Untwisted Vortex. Those who haven’t visited this one, do it as soon as you can and am sure you are going to love it.

How, what, why, when, where, etc. techXtreme has been, I won’t say myself, because I want to know that from you people. So don’t wait, and hit the comments button fast and make your say about it.

Other blogs that I own:

· http://the-one-liners-blog.blogspot.com

· http://what-is-abhinav-sood.blogspot.com

· http://abhinav-sood.blogspot.com

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Idea Of A Fully Flash Based WebSite

I was back here in Hoshiarpur (my hometown) for a day and this morning chanced to meet a friend and a computer applications tutor at a local high school on the walk. While walking together, we talked about various things such as the new developments in the school building, changes in the management but all this irrelevant to my niche and the theme of this blog. Anyway, read on and you’ll believe why this needs to be talked about on techXtreme.

As we reached close to his home, just on the road, I asked him about the progress of a project he was assigned by the school authorities, that was to set up an interactive website to let more and more people know about the school and also for putting up resources for the students and teachers at the school. He invited me in for a cup of tea and so that he could show me a glimpse of his work. Ok! Her mother made us some nice tea with flavors of ginger and cardamom. The mix that I myself love to have, when I am at work. Then he showed me his stuff. A whole-flash homepage with flash-buttons linking to further flash pages and tables made using flash. The photo gallery, again a whole flash page, sported some really well laid out photographs of his school and classrooms and the toppers who had been taught and guided by him. There was a feedback and comments, there was a rate-me meter, everything flash and I could judge the spark in his eyes as he showed me the pages and animations page by page and the little smile on his face (I bet there was a bigger one within!) as I genuinely appreciated his designing and layout skills. All said and done, I asked him why he went for an all flash website. And there came the simple answer that all the animation looks good and a well-meaning “interactive” as the school authorities wanted it to be.

Then I asked him sarcastically, “Why is it so fast even when it’s all flash?” to let him know of where he was going wrong despite all of his great work. He didn’t realize all through his efforts that the pages were loading so past because they were still locally present on his computer and not yet uploaded to any external server. But then, he was my friend and I told him to redo a few things and use basic DHTML and CSS with only little Flash so that he could be fast and efficient and, in true sense, “interactive” with the kind of readers he was to have who’d otherwise in all probability will run away seeing the site take ages to load.

I don’t understand why people think of all flash websites when they know that fast internet connections are still not a reality in most of India (read The Face of Broadband in India)

The Idea of a whole-Flash website?!! Definitely a BIG NO!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Hacking: Hiding VBS exploits, BAT files, etc in Text Files

from my post in the topic http://www.hackforums.net/showthread.php?tid=1175:

In this post, I will tell you a way in which you can hide any kind of virus or trojan or VBscript exploits or simply put your Batch Files in text files.. That are called "Scraps".

At some point of time encountered a couple of VBScript (Visual Basic Script) email viruses that used this method to hide. And they worked flawlessly! Leaving no clue. One way to do it is
to run the packager.exe program (search for it in WINDOWS folder), select "Import" from the "File" menu and select your batch file. Then select "Copy Package" from the edit menu. Now
switch to Explorer and paste the item into your desired
folder. It will be named "scrap", but you can rename it to
whatever you want. To run it, you'll have to know it's REAL
short file name (here SCRAP.SHS) and use the START command. That can be written as start /w scrap.shs

SHS actually is a file-extension that is never shown by Windows!

Of course, double-clicking it also works. Very few people
know what a "scrap" is let alone know how to find out what is
hiding in one.

Another Trick: It is to try renaming a .exe file to a .txt or any thing you like. Then on the DOS prompt type start C:\renamed_exe.txt

It should execute.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Hack to save yourself: Remove Brontok Yourself

Hack against the Brontok virus…

I was full of heat, something ‘Me against Myself’ kind. It was frustrating to handle the virus that my vendor had gifted me with my new laptop (say congrats… And thanks a lot from my side!) Slow startup, error messages and other unwanted annoyances were such an embarrassment in class in front of my friends till yesterday when I thought to myself that it had to end anyway before that very sunset.

To understand what the virus was, I first checked the processes that were running in the system memory. No! There was nothing unusual in the memory. The same processes that I scrolled through, often, when I ever did find my system acting awkwardly slow and still found nothing more than the critical system processes that I couldn’t end and besides that, the only few programs that were actually in use. I had just installed a licensed copy of Tune-Up Utilities, so I thought this was a high-time that I tested its functions and capabilities. The first screen that opened showed me the options to stylize the appearance of my system and optimize the memory, besides the start up process manager. So I fired up the start up process manager and lo! in the very first place it showed me an entry “Bron-Spizaetus”. More than quickly, I disabled the entry first and then deleted it. But the thought that brontok virus could never be so easily taken down made me refresh the start up list again and man! This thing showed up again. Ah! Such an irritation.

Then I hit the [windows]+F button to look for all instances of anything that contained the letters “bron” and it showed one “Bronstab” named 42kb application which had the icon as of a folder. The very same kind that had formed in my friend’s pen drive named after another folder in the same location, which caught my attention because same location couldn’t have two folders by the same name and clicking on the second instance showed that it was an application with a folder-icon. So, the first thing I did was to delete it and decide not to attach any external storage devices till everything is set right. This application “bronstab.exe” in my notebook was a hidden file so I pointed the mouse to the tools menu to reach for the folder options. But to my surprise it wasn’t there in the first place.

Now, I knew that the registry had been modified so I tried going to the registry editor to undo the changes in [Microsoft\windows\currentversion\policies\ in HKCU and HKLM]. But just as I hit the return key after typing regedit in the run dialog, I got an error message saying that registry editing had been disabled by my administrator and the system restarted in an instant. This was making me sick. Group Policy Editor didn’t help either and even the same irritating restart effect when I tried opening the command prompt.

Confused in the start, I decided to revenge its doing and do some hacking for saving myself as I had no antivirus software installed at that time me to keep my times happy!

So I started my computer in safe mode with command prompt and typed the following command to enable registry editor:-

reg delete HKCU\software\microsoft\windows\currentversion\policies\system /v "DisableRegistryTools"
to delete the registry key called DisableRegistryTools

Now that my registry editor was enabled, I typed in explorer at the command prompt to get GUI. Now I opened the registry editor and followed this path to the list of the processes that were loaded into the memory on start up:-
HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Currentversion\Run

On the right side pane, I deleted the entries which contained 'Brontok' and 'Tok-' words.

After that I restarted my computer and followed this path in the registry editor and deleted this entry to restore the folder options:-
HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Currentversion\Policies\Explorer\ 'NoFolderOption' and restarted the system again.

Then I searched for *.exe files in all drives (searched in hidden files also) to remove all files which had folder-like icons.

Bingo! My notebook was now free from the Brontok virus, just by this simple method of hacking against the virus itself; without the use of any anti-virus software…
So by following the methods, step-by-step, that I have used you can also get over the Brontoks in your system.

Your feedback is valuable.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Methods Of Spreading Trojans &The Acceptable Files

We talked about two methods of Trojan-Attacks, before I was out to college.These methods are just but a few ways that “hackers” can gain access to your machine.Today I have found some time to compose this and share with you: Methods Of Spreading Trojans &The Acceptable Files

In this post I'll tell you about more ways by which the 'trojan-horses' are sent out and spread. About, How they are named and what format they are in, when sent to you. I will also tell you about some file-formats that you can safely accept as attachments or downloads and also the formats that you shouldn't accept.

Enough of intro... Read on...

Some other Trojan-Attack devices are:

Email:
The most widely used delivery method. It can be sent as an attachment in an email addressed to you.

Unsafe Web sites:
Sites that offer warez, illegal downloads, etc.
Files downloaded from such places should always be accepted with high suspicion.

IRC:
On IRC servers sometimes when you join a channel you will automatically get sent a file like “mypic.exe” or “sexy.exe” or sexy.jpg.vbs something to that effect. Usually you’ll find
wannabe’s are at fault for this.

Chat Sites:
Chat sites are probably one of the primary places that this sort of activity takes place. The sad part to that is 80% are not aware of it.

News Groups:
By posting articles in newsgroups with file attachments like (mypic.exe) in adult newsgroups are almost guaranteed to have someone fall victim. Don’t be fooled though, as these folks will post these files to any newsgroups.

Grapevine:
Unfortunately there is no way to control this effect. You receive the file from a friend who received it from a friend etc.

By informing you of these methods I hope I have made you more aware of the potential dangers around you posed by the TROJAN-HORSE.


The Acceptable Files:
Now, reading all this stuff about trojans in this trojan series you might be questioning yourself that what exactly is safe to accept as a file from anyone.I’ll show you what normal extensions should be for different types of files and what type of files should never come in .exe formats.

PICTURES
Ever had someone send you a picture of themselves? If you hang around on a chat site of any kind then chances are you’ve met someone or a group of people perhaps who’ve
wanted to send you their picture. If they did then hopefully it was not in the form of (mypic.exe). If it was you may want to run a virus check on those files in particular.

For all intensive purposes pictures should really only come in the formats listed below.
• Jpg (jpeg) For example (steve.jpg)
• Bmp (bitmap) For example (steve.bmp)
• TIFF (Tag Image File Format)
For example (steve.tiff)
• Gif (Graphics Interchange Format)
For example (steve.gif)

These are all legitimate!

Your browser can view almost all of these files short of the tiff format. Other programs that can be used to view these files are Photoshop, Paintshop, Netscape, Internet Explorer and Imaging just to name a few.

WARNING!
These are the file types by which images should come as. Anything else should be unacceptable. There is no reason to have an Image of any kind come as a .exe file. Don’t ever
accept the excuse that it’s an auto extracting image file!

READ ME AND TEXT FILES
Almost all program information documents on the net come in one of these formats. These files are simply information documents typed up in some word processing program or text
editor.

Some examples of their extensions are:
• DOC Document format for Microsoft Word, Word.
Example: (readme.doc)
• TXT Text format file can be opened by Notepad, Word,
Microsoft Word.
Example: (readme.txt)
• RTF (Rich Text Format)

Those are all acceptable legitimate formats. The truth is that a text files can come in almost any format. However there are formats that they really should never come in.

For Example:
.com
.exe
.txt.vbs

There is no reason for any files to be sent to you in any of the above formats if they are text documents. I can also assure you there is no reason a file should have a double extension. Such files if you should ever receive them should be treated with suspicion. By no means should you ever open a file if you do not know what type of file it is.

Hope you find it helpful. Please leave your comments.