Category Archives: Spam, Phish, Viruses and Hackers

Just When You Thought It was Safe to Go Into The Water

You should read the following article.

If you live in Panama and typically use WiFi at public places, you should be even more concerned. The fix will require a ROM fix for all WiFI routers and many public places in Panama will never update their routers.

All hardware vendors should be providing fixes soon. This is probably the most serious security hole that has been found to date.

If you have a home router providing Wifi, then you will need to watch your router manufacturer for a ROM update. Google should be providing a software fix for its OS soon.

OPENDNS Revisited

I have written up OPENDNS before, but maybe it would be worthwhile again.

OPENDNS is a good way to improve your Internet security in your home network or individual PC. I have recommended it to my daughter to help secure the Internet for my grandkids. OPENDNS can be set up to filter sites that young minds don’t need to find while surfing the Internet. My daughter and I are in the process of setting up a more secure home WiFi network.

You can go to and set up for a personal account. It is free. After setting up an account, you enter the DNS setting for OPENDNS in your router or PC and you have better Internet protection.

If you use a home WiFi network, you can configure it with the level of restriction you want.

High – Protects against all adult-related sites, illegal activity, social networking sites, video sharing sites, and general time-wasters.

Medium – Protects against all adult-related sites and illegal activity.

Low – Protects against pornography.

None – Nothing blocked.

Custom – Choose the categories you want to block.

It isn’t perfect, but it is very good.

This cannot be used if you are using a VPN or UNLOCATOR to visit streaming sites. However, if you are using KODI, you don’t really need UNLOCATOR and it does block Adults sites on KODI if they are available.

I learned something about the various VPN providers while I was testing OPENDNS. I had it set to the medium setting and was researching various VPNs. I was surprised to find that several were flagged by OPENDNS as being non safe. Several were well known sites, such as HIDEMYASS, Express VPN, and a few others were flagged with non private connection warnings.

So if you are using a VPN or thinking about using a VPN, it might be worth activating OPENDNS to prevent signing up for one that is risky.

WiTopia, which I have used in the past, was not filtered, so I consider that it is still a good provider.

Time for more Tech Rambling

I first came to Panama in 1993. I toured the canal and saw a lot of Panama City. At that time I said, “Boy am I glad I don’t live there”.

Fast forward.

In 2002, I came to decide if I wanted to live in Panama, after reading the benefits in many publications about how great it would be to live in Boquete. In March of 2003 I moved to Boquete.

That is when I started blogging to give my family in the US a means of knowing I was still alive.

Move forward again and I am in my 14th year in Chiriquí, now living in David. The Internet has changed a lot in that period of time. With the creation of the iPhone, even greater changes have taken place. With the growth of the mobile Internet, we have seen personal computing move from the desktop to the tablet and to the cell phone.

That movement has put competing and network communications in the hands of many that have never touched technology or computers before.

This is a good thing and a bad thing. It is wonderful to have a video chat with your grandchildren, in another country. It is great to be able to check you bank account to see if a payment has been made. It if fantastic to be able to sign on to Amazon and order anything. Continue reading Time for more Tech Rambling

Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Jump Into The Internet

More and more seniors are jumping into the Internet. Some are moving to countries like Panama to “Enjoy Paradise”, and need a cheap way to stay in contact with family back home. Some are introduced to FaceBook by their grand children. Some have heard that they can sell their junk on eBay and get more money than at a garage sale.

There is no question that in today’s world, the Internet has become a necessary part of life.

Unfortunately the vast majority of newcomers are not equipped with the knowledge of the traitorous waters they are entering into to protect themselves.

Maybe it is time for another warning that most will skip over without reading.

I do not care if you are a Microsoft Windows advocate, an Apple fan or a Linux maverick. None of the systems are absolutely safe. All have worked hard to make their systems safer, but there will never be a completely safe system as long as humans are using them.

I happened to stumble onto this article and it brought to light a new set of flaws I had not considered. I think most people that use AntiVirus programs never think about the vulnerabilities of those systems. Continue reading Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Jump Into The Internet

Spam Commenters

WordPress does an outstanding job of blocking spam commenters. You may not have noticed, but every commenter that has a blog or website will have his/her name shown in a blue. If you click on their name, you will be taken to their website or blog.

I have no problem with legitimate commenters promoting their own website and always allow them. Spammers do the same thing. If they can get their comment allowed, then anyone clicking on their name will be taken to their site, which is typically porn, medical sites (VIAGRA), or various others.

As I said, WordPress catches the majority of these. In the past the spammers used to embed their sites in the contents of the comment. Those were easy for WordPress to identify. Now they have taken on a new technique. They select portions of your post and use it as a comment.

When WordPress is not sure, if a new comment is real or spam, it puts it in a queue to be reviewed. I have noticed in the last week that almost all comments in this queue are of the form I just mentioned.

If you don’t pay attention it would be easy to authorize one of these comments. The spammers are becoming more clever.

Being Cautious

I just got a email from a friend that had not replied to several of my recent emails. I had titled the last one “??”.

He replied to this email saying that he hadn’t opened my others because they came in different than normal and he was afraid it might be phishing or contain a virus. I can’t fault him for being cautious.

That was enough to make me think it is time to post another of my PC security advisories. In the day of the Internet, everyone is vulnerable. Here goes. Continue reading Being Cautious


I have been updating all my passwords on all email accounts and all websites that require a password. What a pain. This has been sort of a second phase of my password hardening. The first phase was to harden the passwords as mentioned in a previous post. This phase has been to make all email accounts and websites have unique passwords.

As hackers have gotten more aggressive, using the same password, even a hardened one, for all occasions is not safe either.

I continue to get emails from people in my contact list and their emails must have been hijacked and they are now sending out emails directing me to a site for drugs or what not.

Because of this I decided to add a little more security to my password strategy. If you have  not hardened your passwords, I recommend you do it. I have put some people’s email addresses on an email filter, because they continually send me spam.

Since I was going through this exercise, I thought I would pass on the reminder. If you are still using a simple password, prepare to be hacked. It will happen sooner or later.



I always get a fair amount of SPAM comments on my blog every day. However, in the last week that amount of SPAM has gone out of site. I am having several hundred a day. I am mentioning this because sometimes a valid comment gets classified as SPAM and I correct it and it is then accepted by the blog.

With the amount of SPAM comments I am getting now, I am not having time to look at each comment to see if a non-SPAM comment got captured and classified as SPAM.

If you submit a comment and it never displays, then that may be the answer. WordPress does an excellent job of preventing SPAM comments from displaying.

A new comment from a first time commenter goes into a different category, so if you are a first time commenter, your comment will appear after I have a chance to approve it.

I really wonder why the SPAM level has increased.

Comment Spam

The graph above is the last six months of Spam received by Chiriquí Chatter.

The amount of Spam, that Chiriquí Chatter receives each day, never ceases to amaze me.

For some reason, it dramatically increased in March. Many days, I may have up to 100 spam comments . I have to look at each comment, to make sure that a valid comment didn’t get miss classified as spam. It doesn’t happen often, but it does sometimes.

Here is a graph of valid comments that were suspected of being Spam. These I have to reclassify to have them appear in the blog. Continue reading Comment Spam

An Email Worthless for Reading

I received one of those “forward this to all people you know” emails.

Let it be known, I do not participate in these nonsensical games. If you are depending on me to forward it, I will not, Further more, I hate it that people forward these things with all addressee’s emails showing. Do they not know that this is the way spammers get email addresses.

None the less, this one peaked my interest.

Here was the leading paragraph. When I read it, it just didn’t ring true to me.


It does not matter if you personally like or dislike Obama.  You need to sign this petition and flood his e-mail box with e-mails that tell him that, even if the House passes this bill, he needs to veto it.  It is already impossible to live on Social Security alone.  If the government gives benefits to ‘illegal’ aliens who have never contributed, where does that leave those of us who have paid into Social Security all our working lives? ……

I decide to give it the Internet sanity test and Googled it.

As I suspected, it turned out to be false. However, with all the insane things I see Obama doing (his healthcare plan for example), it did make me look.

Here are the first two links provided by Google.