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Phishing Protection

I read all of my email using either mutt or Thunderbird depending on which computer I’m using at the time. When I install either of those on a new computer, the first thing I do is to configure it so that it won’t display HTML email. I have many good reasons for doing this, but mostly I just prefer reading email as plain text.

Most email these days seems to be sent with both HTML and plain text versions so I just get to see the text version, people who are more trusting than me about HTML email get to see the HTML version and everyone is happy. If someone sends me email with no plain text version then I don’t get to see it. This is rarely a problem as these mails tend to come from people who I don’t want to read email from anyway.

But recently I noticed another advantage to my policy. It’s helping to protect me from phishing attacks. The whole point of a phishing attack is to persude you to click on a link which doesn’t go where you think it goes. So you think that you are verifying your account information with Paypal whereas you’re actually giving your username and password to someone who you really don’t want to have it. The best way for them to do that is to send an HTML email where they can disguise the links. The text in the link makes you think that you’re going to a legitimate site, but actually the link goes to somewhere completely different. You can’t disguise that in plain text.

So phishing attacks generally only have a HTML version. A plain text version would give the game way too easily. But all of the legitimate businesses who the phishing attacks pretend to be (Ebay, Paypal, my bank) always send both plain text and HTML versions as they have nothing to hide. So if I get an email from Ebay and there is no plain text version, then I can instantly see that it’s a phishing attack and can be deleted.

Just one more reason to say no to HTML email.

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Tags

I’m coming to the party a bit late, but I’ve finally got round to adding tags to my blog. Hopefully Technorati will do the right thing with them. It’s folksonomitastic.

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tech

Dixonsvision

I’ve ranted before about shops who try to sell widescreen TVs by displaying 4:3 images stretched across a 16:9 screen. This has the effect that a large percentage of the population seem to think that widescreen TV is supposed to make people look fatter.

Things may finally be changing tho’. Currently the Dixons store at Holborn Circus has a display of two TVs – one is 16:9 and the other is 4:3. They are both tuned to the same channel and it’s obviously one that transmits widescreen properly as the 16:9 tv had a proper wide image and the 4:3 one was correctly cropped to the right size. You could clearly see the the wide image had more stuff on the edges. and by looking up at other TVs in the shop you could see how the others all had the 4:3 image stretched in a most unpleasant manner. It’s probably because the display was for Freeview which is a digital platform and therefore transmits in widescreen most of the time. The other TVs are all running off analogue systems which never broadcast in widescreen.

Someone needs to create a web page that explains this in simple terms for the masses.

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Doonesbury

Whilst browsing some old entries on Ask’s blog I found an entry pointing out a very appropriate Doonesbury cartoon.

(Actually, I’m just trying out Movable Type’s trackback functionality)

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Who Am I?

Answers to those kinds of important questions from Googlism.

Who is Dave Cross?

Who is davorg?

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HOWTO Encourage Women in Linux

It’s scary that in the 21st century we still need documents like this. But we do. So everyone should read it.

HOWTO Encourage Women in Linux

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Shiny

Just upgraded the site to run on Moveable Type 2.5. It looks very nice :)

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tech

In Flight

Hey, look at this. I can pre-date entries.

I won’t actually be able to post a message on this date as I’ll be flying to San Diego to attend the Open Source Convention.

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tech

Broken Browser

I use Galeon as my web browser of choice. It’s a Gnome browser based on the same software as Mozilla.

Generally it’s a really nice browser, but there’s one thing that I seem to have broken. At some point in the past I configured it to not allow popup windows. That’s generally a good idea, but there are a few sites that I need popups from – and I’m buggered if I can work out how to turn them back on again :(

Any advice gladly received.