May 19, 2017

Don't panic! New exploits and malware are released every day!

I work in an industry where security is kind of a big deal. Without getting into specifics, or naming company names, we'll just say that the companies I work with a lot are in the financial sector. Because of that, I've found that their security is pretty damned hard core, and their vendor risk assessment crews are even more hard core.

Knowing all that, you can probably assume that I get a lot of risk assessment questionnaires asking about the company I work for and our security practices. On top of their annual, or semi-annual risk assessments whenever news breaks out of some fancy new malware, their pucker factor goes up exponentially and I get bombarded with questions asking about what we're doing about it.

Although I completely understand where they are coming from, the truth is in the world of network security, threats like this are always out there. There are always viruses, Trojans, worms and other nasty things hackers are trying to do to cause chaos, damage systems, steal information or to steal money. The difference with these cases is that they are famous and they've made the news cycle.

This latest crazy threat that has everyone in a tizzy is WannaCry(Or WCry, or Wanna Decryptor). If you have been living under a rock, it's your typical ransomware that encrypts all your files and asks you to pay a ransom to have your files unlocked. In reality, it's no different than CryptoLocker that came out in 2013. One might argue that the difference is how it was spread using a vulnerability that the NSA had been using for years.

Guess what folks, I have news for you. Shit like this comes out every day. In fact, WikiLeaks has been leaking all of the CIA's exploits  for the past few months. The Hacker News reported yesterday that two of the CIA's tools affect all versions of Windows! WannaCry only affected Windows 2008 and below! Get ready for an epic shitstorm of hacks now that the United State's Government's secrets are all over the web!

Long story short, DON'T PANIC! Stuff like this happens every day. The best thing you can do is prepare for it. Keep your systems patched, make sure your antivirus/anti-malware is up to date, use firewalls, beware of phishing scams, and make sure you have reliable backups! You know, all the recommended security shit you are supposed to do, and not be lazy about! If you maintain a decent security posture, you can prevent a lot of this sort of thing, or be able to mitigate against it should you be affected.

Do you agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments.

May 18, 2017

Goodbye ExtraTorrent! Hello Zooqle!

Yesterday I posted that ExtraTorrent was closing up shop. In that post I mentioned a possible mirror, but that turned out to not be real. None of the download links worked. ExtraTorrent really is gone apparently.

That being said, if you like to torrent stuff, there are some alternative sites out there. Not all of them have RSS capabilities though. Well, I found one that does offer RSS! It's called Zooqle!

My only gripe with Zooqle is that they make you register. It's not that big of deal, but I recommend that if you register with any Torrent site, you do so while connected to a VPN connection. I also recommend NOT using your personal email address, and use one dedicated to Torrenting that also uses encryption like ProtonMail!

One thing I certainly do love about Zooqle, besides its RSS support, is the lack of intrusive advertising. One of my biggest problems with ExtraTorrent were their annoying redirect ads and pop-under ads. I respect having ads on your website. For many sites, that's their only source of revenue. I just had intrusive ads!

Now that ExtraTorrent is gone, which site or sites do you use? What alternatives do you recommend? let us know in the comments!

May 17, 2017

ExtraTorrent is down for good... Or are they?

Earlier today, TorrentFreak broke with the news that the famous BitTorrent site, ExtraTorrent was shutting down operations including all mirror sites.

From TorrentFreak:
Popular torrent site ExtraTorrent has permanently shut down. The abrupt decision was announced a few minutes ago in a brief message posted on the site's homepage. This means that after the demise of KickassTorrents and, the torrent community must say farewell to another major player. 
In a surprise move, ExtraTorrent decided to shut down today, for good.
Users who access the site’s homepage are welcomed by a short but clear message, indicating that the popular torrent index will not return (the message appears intermittently).
“ExtraTorrent has shut down permanently.” 
“ExtraTorrent with all mirrors goes offline.. We permanently erase all data. Stay away from fake ExtraTorrent websites and clones. Thx to all ET supporters and torrent community. ET was a place to be….” 
TorrentFreak reached out to ExtraTorrent operator SaM who confirmed that this is indeed the end of the road for the site.
If you browse to or any of their mirrors, you see a page like this:

Not long ago though, this message popped up on the ExtraTorrent Facebook page leaving many of their followers confused:

If you browse to the link that is circled in red above, it takes you to which appears to be a live mirror. i haven't tried any of the downloads though.

So are they down or not? Is this just some kind of ruse to stop people from trying to DDoS their servers? If you have the goods, and know what's going on, let us know in the comments!

[EDIT] It looks like they really are gone. The site mentioned above is a fake mirror and the links don't work. If you are looking for an ExtraTorrent alternative, you should check out our post on Zooqle.

May 9, 2017

US Government Recently Passed New Pirate Watch List

With the new Trump administration comes an increase in the crackdown of online piracy, and with that the Office of the US Trade Representative has published its annual piracy watch list, also known as the Special 301 Report. In this 81 page report, around two dozen countries are listed has hotbeds for online piracy.

From ExtraTorrent:
The Office of the US Trade Representative has published its yearly piracy watchlist officially named Special 301 Report. The document highlights countries failing to comply with the copyright protection standards of the United States. Apparently, the enforcement of IP rights is a priority for the Trump administration. In the report, Canada and Switzerland are listed among the two dozen of other countries. 
USTR publishes its report listing countries that aren’t doing enough to protect US intellectual property rights every year. The latest report is the first under the administration of President Trump, but slightly differs from Obama’s: China, Russia, Ukraine and India are major threats, while even Canada and Switzerland remain in the list.
Switzerland is a popular country to host pirate related websites due to their Logistep Decision.That decision was a ruling from the Swiss Federal Supreme Court that prohibits companies from harvesting IP addresses of file-sharers because the Swiss Federal Supreme Court views IP addresses as private data.

May 4, 2017

I've switched from BitLocker to VeraCrypt for full disk encryption because SCREW MICROSOFT!

"Damn!" you are probably saying to yourself, "That's a pretty harsh title to a blog post." Yeah, I suppose you are right. Still though, it's pretty accurate. I'm not really a fan of Microsoft at all, and whenever possible I really like to use alternatives. In the case of drive encryption though, I think it just makes sense from a security perspective.

Allow me to explain, you see it was only a few years ago that Edward Snowden leaked information about the NSA's PRISM program. One of the interesting things that came with that leak was that the NSA was working with companies like Microsoft and Google to bypass security built into their platforms so they could illegally access users data. Backdoors if you will. 

So now that we know this information, how can we actually trust anything that Microsoft puts their name on to truly secure our data? Sure, it's probably safe from the average hacker, but it's certainly not safe from Big Brother!

That's why I've opted to ditch BitLocker, and go with the open source alternative of VeraCrypt. Besides, even if BitLocker is safe from Big Brother, I still feel that VeraCrypt is probably more secure because of it's PIM feature. That's just my opinion though.

The only drawback I see from this change is that VeraCrypt's boot time is slightly longer, but that is tolerable in my opinion.

What do you think about this? Let me know in the comments.

May 2, 2017

Why haven't we found aliens yet? (Infographic)

Have you ever wondered why we haven't found conclusive evidence of aliens yet? Well, this infographic hopes to shed some light on that question. Check it out!

[Mobile users: click the image to view]

[H/T Imgur]

May 1, 2017

I've replaced TrueCrypt with VeraCrypt on my VPS

A couple of days ago on Saturday I talked about VeraCrypt being the only real alternative to TrueCrypt, I also mentioned that I was still using TrueCrypt on my Linux VPS private email server. Well, after writing that post I wanted to see if VeraCrypt could mount a TrueCrypt volume, and it turns out it can!

So I went ahead and installed VeraCrypt on my VPS. The setup is almost identical to the TrueCrypt CLI version. After the install, I changed my mount scripts from:

truecrypt --mount /secret/ /var/vmail

veracrypt --truecrypt --mount /secret/ /var/vmail

Boom! Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

According to VeraCrypt, you can convert an existing TrueCrypt volume by performing any of these functions, but you must select TrueCrypt mode to do it:

  • Change Volume Password
  • Set Header Key Derivation Algorithm
  • Add/Remove key files
  • Remove all key files

I haven't tried it yet, but changing the password and or key files to convert it to a VeraCrypt volume via the terminal version should be as simple as running the following on your original TrueCrypt volume while it's dismounted:

veracrypt --truecrypt -C
Not wanting to risk corrupting all of my emails, I think I will hold off on doing that until I'm ready to change my password again, and I'll make sure I have a good backup first! Still though, even if it doesn't work, at least I can mount that volume now with VeraCrypt!

Edit: I've verified that the above command does in fact work to change the password and upgrade your TrueCrypt volume to the new VeraCrypt format via the cli/terminal! If you were wondering how to upgrade a TrueCrypt voume to a VeraCrypt volume via command line, there you go!

Apr 29, 2017

Serious Alternative to Truecrypt: VeraCrypt

As many people know, TrueCrypt has been discontinued since 2014. The developers said that TrueCrypt had some unfixed security issues. In 2015 the Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology conducted an audit on the last stable release of TrueCrypt, and although they did find a number of bugs, they came to the conclusion that it is still secure when data is at rest.

That being said, since TrueCrypt is no longer being developed, if you are still using it you should move to something that is actively being developed. Now, there are lots of encryption solutions today. Most modern operating systems have some form of disk encryption built in now. Microsoft has BitLocker, Linux has LUKS. You get the idea right? What if you really liked the way TrueCrypt worked though? What if you liked that TrueCrypt was multi-platform? Then in my opinion, you only have one serious alternative.

That alternative is VeraCrypt! From their page:
VeraCrypt picks up from where TrueCrypt left and it adds enhanced security to the algorithms used for system and partitions encryption making it immune to new developments in brute-force attacks. 
VeraCrypt also solves many vulnerabilities and security issues found in TrueCrypt. It can load TrueCrypt volume and it offers the possibility to convert TrueCrypt containers and non-system partitions to VeraCrypt format. This enhanced security adds some delay only to the opening of encrypted partitions without any performance impact to the application use phase. 
This is acceptable to the legitimate owner but it makes it much more harder for an attacker to gain access to the encrypted data.
Now, to be fair, there is another fork of TrueCrypt called CipherShed, but they only have a pre-compiled version for Windows. If you want to use it on Mac or Linux, you need to compile it yourself. Not to mention, they don't issue releases as frequently as VeraCrypt.

Some cool things I like about VeraCrypt are that the layout is very similar to that of TrueCrypt, and I'm already used to that. Also VeraCrypt offers some other encryption algorithms that TrueCrypt did not. Those algorithms are Camellia and Kuznyechik.

They also have some other hash options.

I'll be honest, I am still using TrueCrypt on my VPS email server. I'm not terribly worried about it because it should still be able to protect my emails at rest if my VPS is shutdown to reset the root password without my permission. Still though, I'm making plans to migrate to a new VPS when Ubuntu 18.04 LTS comes out, and when that day comes I'm going to make the switch to VeraCrypt!

Do you still use TrueCrypt? Do you think you will make the change to VeraCrypt? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments!

Apr 28, 2017

Now Virginia farm boys are trying to break into my email server?

One day after my post about Venafi setting off a host based intrusion detection alert on my email server, and me wondering if Venafi is a front for the NSA since they are stationed in Utah where the NSA's gigantic datacenter is; I get another interesting alert. This time from an IP address in Ashburn Virginia!

What is only 30 minutes away from Ashburn Virginia? Oh, just CIA Headquarters in Langley Virginia!

The alert I got was a little more aggressive than that from Venafi. This one was fired off as a "Possible attack on the ssh server (or version gathering)."

I get it. Just because Venafi is out of Utah, and the NSA is out of Utah doesn't make them both NSA. Also, just because this IP is out of Virginia, and the CIA are in Virginia doesn't mean that it's the CIA trying to hack my email. Still though, the timing of it is suspicious don't you think? One day after possibly outing a NSA front?

Just to be cautious I added firewall rules to block the following IP ranges from the ISP out of Virginia:
Hopefully that will keep the Virginia farm boys from snooping in my email.

Apr 27, 2017

Who the hell is @Venafi, and why the hell are they trying to connect to my private email server?

I work in a company where cyber security is kind of a big deal, and one of the tools I use a lot is a host based intrusion detection system called OSSEC. Well, the other day I decided to also install OSSEC on my private email server to see what kind of threats and intrusion attempts are happening on a daily basis. Needless to say, things have been interesting.

One thing that caught my eye this morning though is an SSL error message that showed up in the Apache logs that said "rejecting client initiated renegotiation". See below:

Okay, a simple SSL error. So what? No harm no foul right? Well, there is something kind of strange with this one. The IP address in question is, and when I do an IP address WHOIS lookup I see it belongs to a company out of Utah called Venafi, Inc.

Their website says that they are in essence an SSL company, and Wikipedia describes them as a privately held cyber security company that develops software to secure and protect cryptographic keys and digital certificates. The problem is that I don't do business with them, so they really have no reason to be scoping out my private email server.

Another thing that made me wonder about this company is that this isn't the first time I've seen their IP addresses show up in intrusion detection alerts. I've also seen their IP addresses in alerts for some of my day job company's web servers as well, and we don't do business with Venafi either.

Maybe it's my conspiracy mind at play here, but you know who else has a big data center in Utah that is designed to hack and store data about everyone on the Internet? That's right, the NSA has a huge data center in Utah called the Intelligence Community Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative Data Center.

Could Venafi be a front for the NSA? It makes me wonder...

Anyway, for now I am blocking the entire range and I will continue to block ranges of suspicious IP's. There is no reason for Venafi to be connecting to my servers at all, even if they really are the NSA.

Have you seen these guys trying to connect to your systems? What are you doing about it? Do you do business with them? Is this something I shouldn't worry about? Let me know in the comments.


UPDATE: Venafi sent me the following tweet in reply to this post:

The link to their TrustNet Scanner talks about how they passively scan the certifications of every IP address on the internet to build a global certificate repository that they make available to the public. I suppose that's plausible... I'm still not convinced they aren't a front for the NSA though!

Update #2: Is the CIA now trying to break into my email server?

Apr 26, 2017

Super cheap cell phone for my soon-to-be teenage daughter

My Daughter and Her New Phone
I am not like most modern parents I think. Lots of kids these days are walking around with the latest and greatest in cell phones because their parents buy them for their kids. I'm a little bit more old fashion. I refuse to buy my kids a cell phone unless they can pay for it themselves!

When I was a teenager, my parents didn't buy me a cell phone. Granted, cell phones were way more expensive in the 90's, but that's not the point. I did have a pager (Remember pagers?!?), but I bought that with my own money!

My daughter has been wanting a smartphone, and she actually came up with a brilliant plan on her own! She decided that she would earn some cold hard cash by mowing my lawn and doing chores around the house, then she would go out and buy a pre-paid Verizon Samsung Galaxy J1 for $45!

Normally Verizon makes you sign up for a pre-paid account that is billed monthly at $40 per month or more. Instead of doing that though, she said she would use a free app for text and calling over WiFi!

The app we opted to use is TalkaTone which gives you a free phone number and lets you have unlimited text and calling in the US and Canada! It's available for both Android and iOS too!

Some things to consider if you decide to do this setup for your kids:
  • The pre-paid cell phone wants you to go through an activation process when you power it on. You can actually skip this process. The activation app will pop up occasionally to bug you about activation, but you can ignore it.
  • Your child will only be able to make and received calls/text where WiFi is available. Keep in mind that many restaurants like McDonalds have free WiFi. Encourage your kids to connect to these free hotspots so they can call you if they need to.
With this setup it only cost my daughter a measly $45, and there is no monthly fee for me to take care of! Win win if you ask me!

Do you use a similar setup for your kids? Let me know in the comments.

Apr 24, 2017

Mindless Investing Made Easy

Have you ever seen Superman III where Richard Pryor's character came up with a computer program to rip off the company he worked for by rounding up company transactions to the nearest penny and sticking those fractions of cents in a bank account? They did the same thing in Office Space. Well, imagine doing something similar to that for yourself, but with your own money. Sounds weird? Well stay with me, it will all make sense!

I discovered an app that in essence does this for you, but instead of fractions of a penny, it's fractions of a dollar. Once you sign up, this app rounds up transactions on every purchase you make to the nearest dollar and takes that difference and invests it in a diversified portfolio! You don't even have to think about it!

Still not making sense? Let me give you an example. Let's say you go to the grocery store, and buy $123.48 worth of groceries with your debit card. This app will then round that up to $124.00, and take that $0.52 and invest it in the stock market for you! After a while, that money can add up to thousands of dollars, and you don't even have to think about it!

This app is called Acorns, and here is a video that can explain it better than I can:

If you've been looking for a way to get into the stock market, but didn't know where to start, then you might give Acorns a try. It's ridiculously easy to setup, and you don't have to be a finance major to figure it out. Best of all, it's automated and you don't have to think about it!

Do you use Acorns? Do you like it? What do you like about it? Let us know in the comments!

Mar 31, 2017

Verizon set to royally screw over their customers with spyware now that Congress voted to repeal privacy restrictions

Congress recently moved to screw over all American's by voting to repeal broadband privacy restrictions allowing internet service providers to actively spy on their customer's internet usage and sell that information to the highest bidder. A few days later Verizon made it known that they plan to step up their douche-baggery by also installing spyware on their customer's smart phones!

From EFF:
Within days of Congress repealing online privacy protections, Verizon has announced new plans to install software on customers’ devices to track what apps customers have downloaded. With this spyware, Verizon will be able to sell ads to you across the Internet based on things like which bank you use and whether you’ve downloaded a fertility app. 
Verizon’s use of “AppFlash”—an app launcher and web search utility that Verizon will be rolling out to their subscribers’ Android devices “in the coming weeks”—is just the latest display of wireless carriers’ stunning willingness to compromise the security and privacy of their customers by installing spyware on end devices.
Isn't that just lovely? Don't worry though, you should be able to stop douchey big brother Verizon from watching all of your phone activity. There are a couple of ways you can disable Verizon's AppFlash.

From The Hacker News:
How to Get Rid of ‘AppFlash’ on Your Verizon Android Phone 
Users can get rid of this bloatware in two ways: you can either root your device and remove the app in question, or only disable the app.
  1. Root to remove AppFlash from Android: Since the company has made AppFlash a default app on the home screen of its Android handsets to help users search content and browse the internet, the app can not be uninstalled.

    So, in order to uninstall AppFlash, you are required to root your Android device and then delete the app from your storage memory.
  2. Disable AppFlash without Root: Since rooting is a dangerous process that void your device warranty, you can simply disable AppFlash.

    Disabling bloatware apps on newer phones is easy, as Android has a built-in way to do this, which doesn't require any root access.

    Just head on to Settings → Apps (or 'Applications' on some phones) → AppFlash. Now open it and click 'Disable,' 'Force Stop' and then 'Clear Data' as well.

I'm not sure how the folks at Hacker News got the above information, but on my Google Pixel I don't have AppFlash installed (Yet) so I can't test disabling it myself. If it's like most bloatware that comes on phones these days, I'm sure they are right though. Let's hope... for privacy purposes anyway.

What do you think about this? Are you ticked off? Don't care? Let us know in the comments!

Mar 30, 2017

How to fix WinEvtLog: Security: AUDIT_FAILURE(4625) caused by Windows Defender

I've written in the past about how I really like the built in Windows Defender as my antivirus of choice in Windows 10 and above. More specifically, I wrote about how to configure it for regular updates and scheduled scans. Well, I recently went back to it on my main laptop and when it kicked off it's first quick scan all of a sudden I noticed a lot of alerts coming from one of my work servers!

The alerts I was seeing were WinEvtLog: Security: AUDIT_FAILURE(4625) coming from our host based intrusion detection monitor.  Our log monitor was also sending alerts saying Microsoft-Windows-Security-Auditing: An account failed to log on. Subject: Security ID: S-1-0-0 Account Name: - Account Domain: - Logon ID: 0x0 Logon Type: 3 Account For Which Logon Failed: Security ID: S-1-0-0. All of the alerts listed my computer's host name as the account that was failing the audit!

Well, it turns out that by default Windows Defender wants to scan network files and network file shares. That's honestly pretty annoying since we have antivirus on those servers already, and I don't need Windows Defender to scan anything except what's on my local machine. It's also annoying because it kicked off all of the alerts!

Well, to disable network scanning is fairly simple. You just need to open powershell as an administrator and run the following:
  • set-mppreference -DisableScanningNetworkFiles 1
  • set-mppreference -DisableScanningMappedNetworkDrivesForFullScan 1
To see what settings you have enabled or disabled you can run the following from powershell to get a list:
  • get-mppreference

As you can see above, network scanning has been disabled. Now when I run a scan, it stays local to my computer only and doesn't kick off anymore alerts!

Did you find this helpful? Let us know in the comments!

Mar 28, 2017

Man possibly jailed forever for not giving up his encryption password

Cryptographically secure pseudorandom number g...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I am a huge proponent for encryption. I'm also a huge proponent for the 5th Amendment which protects you from self incrimination through testimony. Apparently a judge in Philadelphia as well as the 3rd US Circuit court of appeals says the 5th Amendment doesn't apply in this particular case.

You see, Francis Rawls was charged with possession of child porn which is a horrendous crime. The issue here is that in order to make the case against him the police seized a number of devices including some encrypted hard drives. Without the contents of those drives, the prosecution doesn't really have a good enough case to really throw the book at him. Rawls apparently won't give up the passphrase for the drives citing the 5th Amendment despite the court's order, so Rawls is being held indefinitely until he coughs up his passphrase.

From Ars Technica:
On Monday, a US federal appeals court sided against a former Philadelphia police officer who has been in jail 17 months because he invoked his Fifth Amendment right against compelled self-incrimination. He had refused to comply with a court order commanding him to unlock two hard drives the authorities say contain child porn. 
The 3-0 decision (PDF) by the 3rd US Circuit Court of Appeals means that the suspect, Francis Rawls, likely will remain jailed indefinitely or until the order (PDF) finding him in contempt of court is lifted or overturned. However, he still can comply with the order and unlock two FileVault encrypted drives connected to his Apple Mac Pro. Using a warrant, authorities seized those drives from his residence in 2015. While Rawls could get out from under the contempt order by unlocking those drives, doing so might expose him to other legal troubles. 
In deciding against Rawls, the court of appeals found that the constitutional rights against being compelled to testify against oneself were not being breached. That's because the appeals court, like the police, agreed that the presence of child porn on his drives was a "foregone conclusion." The Fifth Amendment, at its most basic level, protects suspects from being forced to disclose incriminating evidence. In this instance, however, the authorities said they already know there's child porn on the drives, so Rawls' constitutional rights aren't compromised.
I'm no lawyer, but from what I can understand from the law surrounding the 5th Amendment and encryption is that it only applies if the police have no idea what's on your encrypted drive, and the only way to find out is by asking you for a password. In this case, they had eye witness testimony that child porn was indeed on the drive, as well as other system logs showing that illegal files were saved on those drives.

Another way the 5th Amendment doesn't apply to encryption is when there is a physical mechanism like a key to unlock the drive. A physical key does not require testimony, and therefore does not require you to testify against yourself to hand that key over.

There is a nice video explaining this here from the EFF:

I certainly don't condone Rawls' actions here, if he indeed does have child porn, but there is a lesson to be learned here for those of you that value your privacy and your rights. Number one, if you want to be able to use the 5th Amendment to protect your passphrase, then you can't have any other un-encrypted "tracks" pointing to what's on your encrypted devices.

What do you think about this? Let us know in the comments.

Feb 14, 2017

4 Software Tools to Help Run and Operate Your PC Like a Pro

We often use cars as analogies for computers, but it's not exactly a 1:1 matchup. With cars, hardware modifications are responsible for improvements, but with computers, both hardware and software can make a difference. Here are four kinds of software tools you can use to run your computer like a pro.

Hardware Monitor Tools

Software tools can help you monitor your hardware to make sure your computer is running smoothly under the hood. Like smartphones, computers generate a lot of heat, with some parts running as hot as boiling water. Heat sinks and fans may be needed to keep your computer from overheating — and if these parts aren’t working correctly, your computer can be at risk of malfunction.

Hardware monitoring tools help you keep your computer’s temperature under control and your machine running right. These tools give you dashboards that display key hardware information, including the voltage and temperature of different parts of your computer, and how well your fans are running. Some of today’s best hardware monitoring tools include HWMonitor, Speed Fan and Open Hardware Monitor.

PC Tune-up Utilities

To keep your computer running at top speed, you need a PC tune-up utility. With constant use, your computer will inevitably start to slow down. Outdated drivers from obsolete apps, archived files you no longer use and large cached data can all slow down your performance.

PC tune-up utilities help fix this problem, automating tasks such as defragging your hard drive, fixing your Windows registry, and deleting duplicate files to free up disk space. Some utilities also have advanced functions such as optimizing your boot process. PC tune-up utilities come in both freeware and premium varieties. CCleaner is a popular free tune-up utility, but PCMag rates iolo System Mechanic as today’s best premium option.

Password Managers

A long password is a strong password, but the downside is that it can be hard to remember. Of course, creating one that's hard to remember makes it tempting to leave that information lying around on a sticky note, which kind of defeats the purpose of having a password altogether. On the other hand, creating a password along the likes of "ABC123" can make it easy to crack.

Password managers overcome these difficulties by automatically generating strong passwords for each site you visit that requires a login. The manager program then saves and inputs your passwords for you the next time you log in, relieving you of the need to type it in each time. Advanced password managers can also remember billing information for credit card purchases. Some managers have other advanced features such as syncing your passwords across all your devices.

Automated Cloud Backups

In an age of rampant cybercrime and ransomware, having reliable backups for your data is a necessity. Without a good backup system, you run the risk of losing all your files at any time. The most efficient way to back up your data is to schedule automated cloud backups. Backing up your data on the cloud allows you an unlimited amount of storage space. Top backup services such as Mozy provide military-grade encryption to ensure your data stays safe in the cloud.

Feb 12, 2017

I admit it. I'm a huge professional wrestling nerd!

PThis isn't going to be a technical post today. It's definitely going to fall in the realm of geekiness though, and it's something I need to get off my chest for some reason. Sort of like alcoholism I guess, one only truly can get help if they admit they have a problem. Then again, like is famously said, it's not a problem if you do it every day!

In all serious though, I love professional wrestling. I am what they say in the business, a huge mark! I am not going to lie and say I've been some super fan my whole life. I obviously enjoyed it when I was a kid in the 80's with Hulk Hogan, Macho Man, The Junkyard Dog, Rowdy Roddy Piper, etc. I stopped watching in the early 90's during my high school years. It was in the late 1998 that got into it again when I was in the Navy. We used to huddle around the TV in our berthing area every Monday and watch Monday Night Raw. It was awesome!

Like an idiot, I got married in 2000, and my wife hated professional wrestling so I stopped watching it for a very long time. When I got divorced in 2014 I decided to see what was going on in the WWE and I was hooked again! Since I became single again, I've also branched out into watching the bigger independent promotions like Ring of Honor, Impact Wrestling, Lucha Underground and most recently WCPW. I can't get enough!

In fact, I am a very active person these days. I like to go jogging every day, and on my jogs I listen to wrestling podcasts like Conversation with The Big Guy, WrestleZone Radio and Talk is Jericho!

Wrestling is Fake

The biggest criticism I hear of professional wrestling is that it's fake. In response to that I always say, it's not fake, it's scripted! In all serious though, everyone knows that matches are pre-determined, the punches are pulled, the kicks are sold, etc. That being said, the risks profession wrestler take to put on their live performance is very real. Jumping off a 20 foot high steel cage and landing on a table hurts. Yes, the table breaks your fall, but it still hurts. Having a 250 pound man land on you from a 20 foot fall also hurts very much. I'll say it again, the risks are real.

Shane McMahon Elbow Drop Off Hell In a Cell at Wrestle Mania 32

Not only do some of these stunts hurt, they also sometimes end careers. Here is a video with a young Steve Austin in Japan performing a pile driver incorrectly and breaking Masahiro Chono's neck in 1992.

The ironic thing about that is that Steve Austin later in his WWE run would also suffer a career ending neck injury when Owen Hart botched the exact same move.

The pile driver has effectively been banned in WWE because of this sort of thing. They still allow a less risky version of the pile driver known as the Tomb Stone pile driver, and it's only allowed to be done by The Undertaker and Kane, two of WWE's biggest and strongest performers.

Just last year during the inaugural Universal Championship match, Seth Rollins threw Finn Balor into the ring barricade and it dislocated Balor's shoulder. Balor popped his shoulder back in and finished the match anyway like a complete bad ass, and went on to be the inaugural Universal Champion only to have to give up his title the next night because he had to go on hiatus due to his injury.

Check it out.

So now we know the risks are real, and the injuries are real there is still a problem with predetermined endings right? Well, not really if you stop thinking of it like fake fighting, and more like you are watching a staged performance. You would never go to a circus and say that the trapeze act, or the tight rope walking acts are fake. They are just as scripted, but the risk is real! Think of it more like a live action stunt spectacular!

Another way to look at it is like watching an action movie, or a TV show like Game of Thrones. You don't watch those things and yell at the screen that it's fake right? It's entertainment, it has a good story, and looks real enough that you can get into it.

Bottom line, it's supposed to be fun.

Some People Think MMA is Better

Some people prefer to watch real fighting. I get that, and I enjoy a good MMA fight myself having grown up taking martial arts classes off and on my whole life. I like watching a great fight! That being said, is MMA better? Not in my opinion, and the reason why is the lack of story and it is hard to follow sometimes.

When you have two random guys rolling on the ground grappling, it can be hard to see exactly what they are doing, and that sometimes makes me lose interest. In wrestling, movements are big, flashy and there is always a cool finishing move like in a good video game! I'd prefer to see Randy Orton hit an RKO out of nowhere a million times than see one fight where Conor McGregor chokes someone out. Real MMA endings are more often than not pretty boring.

The Apparel is Cool

My girlfriend can attest that I have way too many wrestler tshirts. I have some from WWE Shop, some from TNA's Shop, and a few from Pro Wrestling Tees. I like the last one the best because a big portion of the sales go directly to the wrestlers instead of the promoters and that's how most of the independent guys make their money.

I also have a bunch from TeePublic which I like because the fit is perfect, and the designs are super unique because they are made by fans. At the time of this writing, you can take 25% off your order too with code COOLCAT25 at checkout. Here are a few of my favorites:

Tyrus T-Shirt

The Shirt of Jericho - Drink it in!

Moose T-Shirt
Finn Balor T-Shirt

I Prefer Sports Entertainment Over Sport

In the end, I think I just prefer to be entertained over the actual sport of it. You like your favorite football, basketball and baseball teams right? Well, I like my favorite wrestlers and wrestling promotions. It's the story that draws me in, and the whole spectacle of it that makes me stay. It's also really amazing to see these amazing stunts being performed, and if done well, nobody seriously gets hurt doing it. As mentioned above, that's not always the case either, and when a serious injury does happen, it's amazing to see these performers power through it all to put on a good show.

Tonight is a great night for it too because WWE SmackDown Live is having their Elimination Chamber special tonight and WCPW is also having their True Destiny special! Time to get the beer and popcorn ready!

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