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Category: Tech

Sim City for iPhone Cheats

With the recent release of Sim City for the iPhone and iPod Touch, there has been a scurry to hunt for working cheat codes. Anyone who has played any of the original Sim City series knows that at least half the fun of the game is in the building of the city, and many times it’s nice not to have to worry about the budget management side of the game. Thus, cheat codes became desirable.

In the Sim City for the iPod game, which you should definitely purchase if you haven’t yet, cheat codes are equally important.

To enter cheat codes, you simply shake your device to trigger a box that will show up for entering the code.

So far, there are only two known working codes, and they are case sensitive:

  • i am weak – makes it free to build anything.
  • pay tribute to your king – bestows all gifts  (city hall, statue, spaceport, science research centers, etc).

So far, those are the only known working cheat codes, even though other folks have tried all of the codes from previous version of the game. If you know of any more, post them in the comments, and I’ll update this post once they are verified to work.

Apple Attacks On The Rise?

We here at Geekamongus are by no means partial to one operating system over another.  We love Macs, we love Linux, we love Solaris, and we love those other guys.  Seriously, in no way do we ever intend on taking sides, and articles such as this one are not to be mistaken as an attack upon a particular vendor, nor should they be misconstrued as a statement proclaiming that we prefer other platforms.

That said, some news items of late have raised a few eyebrows upon the foreheads of the security-minded regarding Apple and their operating system, OS X.  For example, there seems to be a new variant of an OS X trojan out there, according to the folks at macnn.com.

Judging by the responses from the opinionated users at the bottom of that article, the Mac fan base may be smart enough to avoid such malicious software.  Cynicism aside, it is clear there is an entirely untapped user base upon which Phishing attacks may be starting to prey.  One must consider the fact that people who have used Macs their whole lives may not be as familiar with such vulnerabilities, where web sites attempt to trick you into downloading a plugin with ulterior motives in mind, and that they could be more easily fooled into taking the bait.  Heck, it would seem the folks at Apple could use some tutelage about Microsoft viruses too.

Seeing as Apple still considers themselves to be rather impervious to viruses, trojans, worms, and their ilk, I don’t forsee this getting better any time soon, even though they did briefly post a note about using antivirus software on their website.  One thing Microsoft users have going for them is that they are by-and-large more aware of common Internet vulnerabilities because they run into them more often, and they must take steps to avoid them.  Some may even have received training in the workplace or from a geeky neice or nephew.

Granted, OS X is based upon a relatively secure Unix kernel and the Apple marketshare is much smaller than that of Microsoft.  That can certainly help when talking about the prevention of spreading traditional viruses, trojans, and worms.  However, when a user is unaware and clicks “OK” to download and install seemingly legitimate plugin, all bets are off.  And who know what evil is brewing in the basements of evildoing jerkfaces to target OS X itself in ways which Windows users are unfamiliar with.

GMail Vulnerability? Watch Your Back.

I’ve been following the story about the domain name hijacking of MakeUseOf.com the last few weeks with interest.  All signs are pointing to the domain thief having cracked the MakeUseOf.com Gmail account in order to retrieve their GoDaddy.com password and transfer the owenership of the domain.

This is not good for any GMail user, let alone domain name owners who have registered their domains through GMail.

Apparently, this one hacker has stolen over 850 domains this way, and holds them for ransom at $2000 a piece.

The latest part of the saga details how the MakeUseOf.com folks think this happened, right down to the hacking of the GMail account.  If there is indeed a security flaw in GMail, which there appears to be, MakeUSeOf.com offers prudent steps to take in order to secure yourself (emphasis added by me):

(1) Well, my very first advice would be to check your email settings and make sure your email is not compromised. Check fowarding options and filters. Also make sure to disable IMAP if you don’t use it. This also applies to Google Apps accounts.

(2) Change contact email in your sensitive web accounts (paypal, domain registrar etc.) from your primary Gmail account to something else. If you own the website then change the contact email for your host and registrar accounts to some other email. Preferably to something that you aren’t logged in to when browsing web.

(3) Make sure to upgrade your domain to private registration so that your contact details don’t show up on WhoIS searches. If you’re on GoDaddy I’d recommend going with Protected Registration.

(4) Don’t open links in your email if you don’t know the person they are coming from. And if you decide to open the link make sure to log out first.

I would add to that list:

(5) Always use secure, encrypted GMail.  There is an option at the bottom of the main Settings page in GMail for “Always use https” under the “Browser Connection” heading.  Select this and leave it selected!  Otherwise, anything you do in GMail is sent unencrypted over the Internet.  Not good!

Keep in mind that this security flaw not only matters to domain name owners, but to anyone who has any sensitive email in their GMail account, whether it be online banking info, love letters, or whatever.

This will be interesting to watch, and I hope Google takes notice of this.

UPDATE:  This fellow here has posted a proof-of-concept on creating malicious filters in someone’s GMail account.

Configure Putty Settings For Improved Performance

Not sure about you, but I use Putty perhaps more than any other application on my Windows PC’s.  Putty is a powerful, fast, free application which can be used to connect you quickly and securely to your Linux/Unix environment.

A person named “dag” from the Field Commander Wieers blog has provided an excellent article on configuring Putty for optimal usability and performance called “Improving Putty Settings on Windows“.  After walking through the steps listed in the article, I fired up Putty and was amazed by the improved text rendering, colors, and more.

A brief summary of settings gleaned from the article:

Category: Session
Connection type: SSH

Category: Window
Lines of scrollback: 20000

Category: Window > Appearance
Font: Lucida Console, 9-point
Font quality: ClearType
Gap between text and window edge: 3

Category: Window > Translation
Character set: UTF-8
Handling of line drawing characters: Unicode

Category: Window > Selection
Action of mouse buttons: xterm (Right extends, Middle pastes)
Paste to clipboard in RTF as well as plain text: enabled

Category: Window > Colours
ANSI Blue: Red:74 Green:74 Blue:255
ANSI Blue Bold: Red:140: Green:140 Blue:255

Category: Connection
Seconds between keepalives (0 to turn off): 25

Category: Connection > SSH > X11
Enable X11 forwarding: enabled

Read the whole article here.

Apple Doesn’t Understand This “Secure” Thing

For years, people have loved Apples and Macs because of their relative security when compared to the likes of Microsoft, who are the target of tens of thousands of viruses, worms, trojans, and other types of malicious programming.

A large part of this has been because of the prevalence of Microsoft Windows, and the fact that Macs make up a tiny little percentage of the home or office computer realm.  However, ever since Apple released the iPhone, it would seem as if they have taken a step out into the world of the unknown, venturing into new territories where no one has gone before.

The problem is, many people have already been in these territories for many years, and Apple obviously has not been paying attention.  It’s like they never considered the thought that once they started venturing outside of the obscure marketshare into the eye of the general public, they too would become targeted by script kiddies, spammers, and all-around evildoers.

The fact of the matter is, Apple, Macs, iThings, and everything else they are doing IS being targeted more now than ever before, and unfortunately, Apple is sitting around wondering why instead of doing anything about it.

Take, for example, this new TechCrunch article explaining a simple way for spammers to harvest all the email addresses of MobileMe users.

From the article:

Apple knows about the problem but insists it isn’t an issue because no one has complained publicly. An Apple representative said to one of our readers: “We’ve never had a complaint from a customer about people spamming them because of their iDisk public folder name. There is no way to remove your account name from the iDisk folders. I’m very sorry.”

Um…ok.  So if I use MobileMe, I can expect a lot of spam.  Maybe they think I’ll get used to it.

TechCrunch goes as far as suggesting that Apple is falling apart at the seams.  They suggest failures with customer service and security exploits as warning signs.  The sad part is, Apple seems to either not care about fixing things, or just not get it, both of which are starting to come off as being arrogant.

Look at the recent ‘patching’ Apple did with the widely-publicized DNS spoofing vulnerability last month.  While every other vendor quickly tackled the problem, Apple released a patch that fixed only their server products, leaving their entire desktop user base still vulnerable.  It took them two more weeks, but on August 15 they finally patched it for everyone.

The nature of being secure, in my opinion, relies upon being open, recognizing vulnerabilities, and taking them head-on.  That’s why there is such a large, active community of security-aware researchers, vendors, and system administrators out there.  Apple seems to be shying away from all of this, perhaps out of naivity, perhaps out of conceit.

Whatever the case, I sincerely hope they come to their senses before it is too late.

Resurrection: Geekamongus.com

I decided to resurrect my old Geekamongus.com site. Instead of filling this personal site with loads of technical blog posts no one cares about, I thought I’d dedicate a site to computers, the Internet, security, and anything else geeky. It made sense to use Geekamongus.com to do this.

So, look forward to more posts about personal things and whatever I’m thinking about here, and head to Geekamongus.com for the geeky stuff.

I intend to keep the new site on a ‘lay person’ level, providing articles to help people with computers and the Internet. I figure there are a lot of people who could use free advice, and it makes it fulfilling to think I might be helping someone.

So go tell your friends!