Tag Archives: Spam, Phish, Viruses and Hackers

Moving to Panama – Technology Cons

This is the second post on technology’s role for people moving to Panama.

In this post I will focus on some of the dangers that technology poses for those that are new to using technology.


Let’s start with the most obvious. The technology I am talking about requires the Internet to be useful. Connecting to the Internet will require an email address and an email account requires a password.

This is the first point of failure for most people. They don’t realize how important it is to have a hardened secure password. I have written several posts that cover the password subject and won’t cover the topic in detail here. A search on this blog for “passwords” will bring up old posts.

I will summarize what I have previously written as follows. All sites and emails requiring a password should have unique passwords. If you are using the same password for multiple things, you are already in danger. Continue reading Moving to Panama – Technology Cons

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

Why I Write About Technology

I realize I write many posts related to technology. Every time I do, I receive comments and emails that tell me that many readers tune out when they see one of these posts.

So why do I do it? Well, for one thing, technology has always been a large part of my life, both as a hobby and as a profession. However, a bigger reason is that if you are a person moving from the US or Europe or any first world country and have most of your family ties back in your country of origin, then you will have to become more familiar with technology than had you not moved.

Even though I realize you have to be a little conversant with technology or you would not be reading this blog, and even though I have written similar posts in the past, I will do one more.


As you can see from the recent posts, on Proof Of Life, the mail system in Panama is not very dependable. Most people use a Mail Forwarding Company to receive normal mail and packages. Not cheap, but dependable. I currently use Multiservicios International De Chiriquí.

Most of these types of services are similar. None are perfect, but if you find one you like, switching will rarely be worth the trouble.

For the amount of mail I get from the US, this has been the cheapest I have found.

To satisfy a Proof of Life address, I am now using a PO Box in David. I will use it only for Taxes and Social Security. I also will not count on it being 100% dependable. I am still waiting for my first letter from the US which was sent a month ago. Next week I will chat with the management. I hope they don’t go postal. Continue reading Why I Write About Technology

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.

Internet Security and Passwords

I am in Panama City for a couple days. Today and tomorrow, I will be meeting with the Embassy for Warden’s Appreciation meetings and training sessions. Luckily, this time I am in PC with a capable laptop and don’t feel cutoff from the Internet.

Connecting to the Internet here has reminded me of a couple security items.

First, I am connected to a secure router requiring a password. However, when I turn on my PC I can see it and another 30 available routers. Most require a password, there are two InternetParaTodos free connections, and a few routers that the owner has not secured.

I have advised the owner, of the router I am on, to turn off broadcast mode so his router is not visible. If no can see your router, it is practically impossible to break in. Not impossible, but almost. If you use the default settings on a router, then others can try the various manufactures general settings.

Moving past router connection security, I want to talk about password management again. I have covered it several times, the last being HERE.

I started using LastPass as my password manager about 8 months ago. With it, I only have to remember one HARD TO CRACK password. I let it remember all the rest. I still currently use the free version, but am considering moving to the premium version so it will be available on my iPhone and iPad.

The primary reason for using a password manager is to have different HARD TO CRACK passwords on all sites. When you have multiple email accounts, multiple credit cards, multiple banks, multiple websites requiring sign-in, then remembering them all is impossible.

I can’t do it and doubt if many can, so they just use the same simple password on all sites. I just used a password tester on my password and it said it would take 500 iterations to crack it. I will change that in the next week by a factor of ten.

Since my need to improve my own security was on my mind, I thought I would post another awareness post for others. The Internet is less safe each day and you have to practice safe behavior. You can’t cover your PC with a condom and expect it to do any good. 😉

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 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.