Botnet Activity

Security experts had noticed a downturn in botnet activity at the end of 2010. It was just a temporary effect. Botnets are coming back strong in 2011. Some popular botnets running amok now are the Waledac botnet and the Rustock botnet. These are email spamming botnets that operate on a huge scale.

There are predictions that the Zeus crime ware toolkit will take home the prize for 2011. This is a tool that steals personal data. Specifically it targets banking info. You can use this toolkit to create your own botnet variant. Since it is easy to use, even noons can get down with Zeus. This tool attacks traffic (even secure traffic) send through the browser.

Credit Card Numbers

Your 16 digit credit card number is not a random number. Each of the digits means something. I read about this today and am passing on what I learned.

The first digit is the industry of the credit card issuer. The first six digits are the ID of the issuer. Digits 7 through 15 are your account number. And the last digit is a checksum of sorts.

The checksum uses the Luhn algorithm. This is also called the mod 10 algorithm. It doesn't use any cryptography. It just tries to detect if any one of the digits is incorrect due to error.

Bottled Water Debate

I am starting to hear some rumblings from the Environmental Working Group (EWG). They are a non-profit organization. Their goal is to advocate the government to assist in figure out what the heck goes into bottled water. They achieve this means by doing research on the subject.

Here is what the EWG has to say. By all means drink a bunch of water. But avoid bottled water. The contents of public drinking water is well documented. Use the correct filters (e.g. carbon or reverse osmosis). They also recommend you use a safe water container.

EWG also has a 2011 report on their findings for pretty much all the bottled water distributors. They complain that most of these companies keep secret the contents of the water they distribute. EWG wants the EPA to start cracking down on these water bottlers to disclose the contents of their water.

All of this sounds like big business. Bottled water is probably a huge dollar industry. I am not exactly sure what to think about the EWG. Usually there is some underlying motive in groups such as this.


I confess that I do not know a lot about BitTorrent. So I picked up a dummies book about it at the public library. Here is what I learned.

BitTorrent traffic accounts for almost a third of all Internet traffic. That might be because it is suitable to transmission of large files. We are talking about Gigabyes here. The file sharing is distributed, which is different from FTP where there is one serving giving you the goods.

There is a lot of vocabulary in the BitTorrent world. A torrent is a small file containing the table of contents for a file. A leecher is somebody who has not downloaded the entire file yet. A seed, on the other hand, has the whole file and is sharing it.

A swarm is the set of leechers and seeds for a given file. Trackers are web server software packages that manage the interaction between seeds and leeches. Now down to a bit of technical data. BitTorrent uses ports 6881 through 6889 for its communications. So open up those ports in your firewall.