Fraud in 2020 Going Stronger Than 2019

Beware Fraud, Report to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center

Cybercrimes are happening every day, all day. The FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) receives hundreds of thousands of complaints per year. In 2020, there were 791,790 complaints and of those complaints, twenty-eight percent were from people over 60 years of age. Their losses totaled over $1 billion of the $4.1 billion lost across all age demographics nationwide. U.S. elder losses also saw a $300 million increase since 2019, with an average loss of $9,175. Over nineteen hundred lost more than $100,000. Even if you are not over 60, beware of the following scams and exploits.

The top three crimes in order of number of losses:

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As Democracy Slept Hong Kong Wept

China is continuing its march to unification of Hong Kong’s system of laws with the mainland’s. Is the U.K. or the U.S. going to do anything, not just talk? If we place sanctions then more Hong Kongers are going to jail because they “colluded.” Of course, we know that they come for the free press first. I don’t know the American people’s level of concern about this. As a journalist by education, I’m truly alarmed that a free press is critical to the whole world. Yes, there are enough concerns here about freedom of the press (Facebook, Twitter), but this is going to test our resolve. Not enough coverage.

“‘When sharp criticisms are completely gone, mild criticisms are seen as a nuisance,’ said one person in mainland China“When mild criticisms are not tolerated, silence is seen as an ulterior motive. When silence is not allowed, inadequate praises are a crime. If only one type of voice is allowed, then that voice is a lie!'”

“…In a circular argument they say the press has nothing to fear, as long as journalists do not break the law which they refuse to define…
International outrage has had no effect. On Friday, [Hong Kong’s security chief, John Lee] and the police commissioner, Chris Tang, were promoted…

“Some veteran media workers say that with Apple Daily gone and public broadcaster RTHK already muzzled, they fear independent online outlets such as Stand News, CitizenNews and Hong Kong Free Press may be the next targets.”
‘The pressure is unbearable’: final days of Hong Kong’s Apple Daily | Hong Kong | The Guardian

PBS’ Mysteries of Mental Illness Pts. III and IV

In Pt. III

From this episode, I learned that there are ten times the number of people in jail today than in mental hospitals — and 90% of them are black. In Chicago, jails and prisons have 40% of their inmates with a mental illness. I see a disportionate number of black men living on the street today, some obviously disturbed and who need help.

Continue reading “PBS’ Mysteries of Mental Illness Pts. III and IV”

Ransomware Signs, VM Use, and More Disaster Planning

ZDNet made some more suggestions to avoid reduce the chances that you are compromised by ransomware:
– Create airgapped backups
– Patch patch patch your systems
– Set complex password standards on your systems
– Use Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
– Use enterprise versions of VM software (Another vector has been discovered where cybercriminals are using VM’s load their ransomware on a system.)
– Map out your network and know where your important assets are

Unfortunately, those preparations may not help. I wrote about having a plan in case of ransomware disaster, and in another article, ZDNet had some additional recommendations for disaster preparation in case of a ransomware attack:
– How much will the company be willing to pay out?
– Who on the company’s board of directors will negotiate with the hackers?
– Who in law enforcement will be the point of contact? (

PBS’ Mysteries of Mental Illness Pts. I and II

Watched the first two episodes of PBS’s Mysteries of Mental Illness last night; the third and fourth are tonight. Had a few thoughts.

In Part I

My favorite realization is that there is no objective test for mental illness. Like the subatomic realm, the brain to a large extent is a black box. We are just treating the symptoms we see (in physics, we see the indirect evidence of some things we can’t directly investigate). With over one hundred fifty genes involved in schizophrenia for instance, we sometimes can feel helpless against something we can’t see. In an industrial and technological age, we are used to diagnosing, treating and conquering things with science. We don’t like that we can’t change some things.

The show goes over the historical development in understanding mental illness. In the past, people would blame the Devil. With our limited knowledge, we did so in a quest for the meaning of it. The churches I initially went to 28 years ago tried to cast demons out of me. They meant well of course. They may have felt helpless.

I did have a little experience with dream interpretation and analysis of thoughts, but it wasn’t these things that helped me. Neither were the psychoanalytic ideas that I, my mother or anyone else was responsible. (My relatives did think that stress at college was responsible, but stress is only a catalyst for what was bound to happen because of genetics.) Past horrific treatments included starvation and abuse, like bleeding and what can only be termed, physical torture and electro-shock therapy (much more extreme than what is still used today).

I was also reminded that schizophrenia can get worse over time. Having tried dozens of med combinations, I am stable right now and the point is to sustain the positive effects of the meds. I do think that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) was slightly helpful and regular therapy still helps me.

The show is also right to point out that the pandemic has exasperated mental illnesses. There is some evidence that suicidal ideation has increased in a number of age groups. I have some anger here because of that.

In Part II

The topic of how we evolved from “who’s normal” and “who’s not” to a more compassionate set of diagnoses features heavily in this episode. The show covers how the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 1 (DSM1) used the terms “normal” and “not normal” and how now the DSM5 has evolved to not use those terms, but to have more specific diagnoses — 265 illnesses right now. My doctors have always given me loose diagnoses. They vary, having started with bipolar type I when I first got sick 28 years ago and then having evolved from schizophrenia to schizoaffective.

I didn’t like the implication that “conservative America” has been detrimental to those with mental illnesses. On the contrary, the American nuclear family — not perfect by any means — has been a positive force. Family is my primary support and I would love to have had both a mother and father, which is an ideal.

I also found that the parts about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was important and interesting. There are many soldiers, Marines, and first responders that experience it.

Though mentioned in an aside, the much-quoted Psalm 23 (“Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…”) has been a scripture that has assuredly helped me.

People should be able to overcome with pushing past certain thoughts and practices, taking their medications, and relying on family and friends.

I look forward to tonight’s third and fourth parts.

G7 Summit On Ransomware

It’s good to see that world leaders, and Biden, are taking ransomware more seriously (but action not words please…). I have been saying this for a few months now: it’s the biggest cybersecurity threat against business and government today.

“Many of the most notorious ransomware gangs are suspected to operate out of Russia and the consensus among cybersecurity experts is that Russian cyber criminals are allowed to conduct their operations, so long as they don’t target Russians.”
Ransomware: Russia told to tackle cyber criminals operating from within its borders | ZDNet

Darkside is a profitable business.
What We Know About Darkside Ransomware and the US Pipeline Attack (

Basic Nmap Scanning

Hi, so I’m going to show you how to use nmap, the free port scanner, along with zenmap, the graphical front-end of nmap available at the same download page (the Windows self-installer includes everything). Ports are the little doors, so to speak, to your computer where different services run. Ports are numbered 1-65535 and certain port numbers are reserved for certain services, like http (webpages) at port 80 and https (secure webpages) at 443.

Below you need to enter the IP for the computer you want to scan (I entered the IP for the computer I am on: (or “localhost”)). Then choose the type of scan you want under “Profile.” (I chose “Quick scan” for this demo.) Then click “Scan.”

Above you see the list of ports by number and the service running. Under “State” you will by default not see the state of that port on Windows. However, you can put these flags (options that start with “-“) to get better, more verbose results: “nmap -sT -T4 -A -v -Pn” My sample scan below.

Here the ports say “open” (green text) if they are responding completely.

Father’s Day

Father’s Day,

I’m different from my peers who are married with kids. I don’t have their obligations or problems. Though my generation has more kids than Millennials – 66% for GenX versus 55% for Millenial (2019 numbers), my life as a single, childless GenXer is not uncommon. Father’s Day is a day that makes me realize my lack of a family of my own.

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Continuing Alarm for Children’s Mental Health in The Age of Covid

Rady Children’s Hospital here in San Diego is seeing a 25% increase in child mental health issues to their emergency room. Granted, the rate may have been going up in years prior to Covid, but it is worse since the pandemic started. Similarly, Children’s Hospital Colorado declared its first mental health emergency. Symptoms include suicidal ideation and attempts, perhaps due to isolation and stress about returning to school.

I wrote a post on mental health coping mechanisms. Please read them. I learned these lessons over 28 years and have been there. Also, feel free to leave a post here, too, if you are in need of some suggestions or an open ear.

If your kids or you are having any suicidal ideation, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255). People care about you.

Symptoms to watch for, from the National Insitute for Mental Health:

Continue reading “Continuing Alarm for Children’s Mental Health in The Age of Covid”

Win Friends and Influence People!

Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People had the following key insights:

  • Criticism demoralizes and causes people to resent you, not respect you. Give encouragement and genuine appreciation, you will get positive results.
  • Listen and show interest in others if you want to be liked and respected.
  • Telling people they are wrong could turn them against you. Lay down your weapons and don’t argue.
  • Ask questions and you could gain common ground with others.
  • Let others take the credit; results matter more than you being recognized.
  • Strive for empathy and you can win hearts and minds.
  • Take into account that people are more motivated by self-interest if you want to persuade them.
  • Cultivate feelings of loyalty and gratitude by letting others save face when they fail or make a mistake.
  • Verbally compliment by acknowledging people’s potential and they will perform better.

No Negotiating!

After Colonial Pipeline (paid $5 million), JBS Foods, and some hospitals were hit by ransomware, the Biden administration has asked companies to be alert and do their part to prevent these attacks.

“A memo to business leaders said the administration is working with allies to shore up defenses, disrupt hacking networks and hold countries accountable if they harbor criminal organizations responsible for ransomware attacks.”

Today’s announcement from the White House:

White House pushes for companies to take ransomware more seriously after high-profile cyberattacks – CNNPolitics

This is an excellent feature showing how ransomware evolved and why not to pay the ransom. Paying leads to a ~80% chance of a repeat ransom:

Attack or not attack?

I know some say we shouldn’t use the phrase cyber attack at the risk of hyperbole (This public service website lets you see whether an event in the news is a cyber attack The Colonial Pipeline Ransomware Incident | Is This a Cyber Attack?), but I think there is not enough alarm sometimes. Here’s another big one:

What’s your opinion, is there enough education for the general population for cyber?

Gadgets 06/02/2021: Oura ring, versatile projector, cycling nav, great Fathers Day tool, camping bug killer

My new tech days are comprised of today’s deals and then upcoming tech that I think kewl.

This has over 12K high ratings, with support for PC/laptop, TV, smartphone, camera, USB, amp, tripod and games:

I like the community aspect of this:

All in one tool for Father’s Day, with the hammer as a great addition:

My sister and her boyfriend have these. Low weight and size of a regular ring with a some cool functionality:

I know this isn’t exactly a new product, but I do still want to try one:

I need to go camping again: