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Discussion > Random 403 errors

All right, Raff, if you're so clever. Teach us.
Start from the assumption that I have never built a machine or tested or installed an operating system or had any IT experience and tell me what I need to be doing.

Nov 17, 2015 at 9:01 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Mike, I make no claim to be clever. I gave you some hints before:

Mike, it could be that you run XP securely, fully patched, using a non-privileged account, the latest Firefox, etc. or keeping it off the Internet completely. Or it could be that you you're un-patched, still using an obsolete Internet Explorer and wide open to being owned. I have no way of knowing, but since you think XP is as secure as Win10 I'd guess at the latter.
Which end of that spectrum are you?

Building a machine or installing Windows or Linux doesn't tell you anything about security. It does perhaps (or perhaps not) make you computer literate. Most professional programmers know very little about security - hence all the security holes in everything. If you want to learn you could follow Brian Krebs or Bruce Schneier. If you are into podcasts, listen to the RiskyBiz podcast - always worth a listen (but might be incomprehensible/dull depending on your interest and knowledge).

Nov 17, 2015 at 1:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

I was actually talking about a little more than just putting a PC together and installing an OS and adding a firewall on top of it, but thanks for your concern!
I'm not into podcasts but since you've taken the trouble to point me in that direction I'll follow the link.

Nov 17, 2015 at 2:18 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

If security is an issue, Microsoft WIndows is *not* the solution.

Nov 17, 2015 at 2:22 PM | Unregistered Commentersplitpin

I would be inclined to agree with that but life is continuing series of compromises between the practical and the perfect. For the majority of people Windows has proved mored than adequate over the years though in my view it could have been improved immensely by eliminating the "bloatware" aspect. I reckon that its best incarnation (given the state of the technology at the time) was probably W98. Everything after that was increasingly aimed at games (in which I include music, photos and video, ie it was aimed squarely at the home market and not at the business market) and has had bells and whistles hung all over it.
Generally speaking it was secure enough for those users and probably still is, provided you install a good firewall and anti-virus software and don't do something stupid like opening attachments purporting to contain copies of invoices from people you've never heard of.
I don't know hope far Raff would disagree with that assessment but that has been my experience.

(Incidentally, that is the sixth post today that has got through without a 403! Maybe they've sorted it at last?)

Nov 17, 2015 at 4:05 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

No Mike, I tried about three preview posts earler today and got 403'd.

I sent an email to Andrew Montford requesting an unpdate on the situation. .

It's about ten days since the problem appeared and it's a significant inhibition to posting and discussing stuff on BH.

Nov 17, 2015 at 5:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin A


I save everything now and then wait with bated breath!
Yes, it is very inhibiting, more so because you get the impression that Squarespace doesn't really give a toss.

Nov 17, 2015 at 6:18 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

What is "secure enough"? Any system that can be taken over by plugging in a USB device fails - which rules out all Windows prior to XP SP3 (2?). AV and firewalls are one level of protection and you are better off with than without. Just don't rely on them - bad guys test their code against AVs to check new attacks are not detected. It sounds like you are more aware of security than many. As long as you run the latest Firefox or Chrome, keep regular offline backups, are careful where you browse and what you open and run non-prviledged, you are probably okay on XP - I hope so, anyway. But Windows security has improved since XP.

Nov 17, 2015 at 7:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

Mike - I was really reacting to Raff's juvenile sneering at XP users, with an implication that (whatever the latest Windows is called) had somehow eliminated its intrinsic vulnerabilities and was orders of magnitude better, security wise. (In fact, in some ways, eg permitting PC's to be networked with a non-routable protocol, XP is actually better security-wise.)

You and I know that anyone running anything from W 2000 onwards who takes normal precautions (eg has a hardware (router) firewall, software firewall, up to date virus scan, and as you say does not open dodgy mail attachments, does not respond to "install now for free system scan" an unknown websites, does not install cracked software, etc, is pretty unlikely to have problems, above all problem which remain undetected.

But in cases where there is high value data on the machine, where security is a significant concern, and where an internet connection is necessary, or where there are multiple users, then, as I said above, Microsoft Windows is a non-starter.

Nov 17, 2015 at 7:49 PM | Unregistered Commentersplitpin

Agree 100%.

LIkewise agree 100%. But to plug in that USB you need to get into my house and I think I would know if I'd had an intruder.
We're not talking about GCHQ or the Home Office here — at that level splitpin is correct but then you wouldn't expect them to be using other than dedicated software anyway.
We're talking about home and small office where properly firewalled commercially available hardware and software running under anything recent will be "secure enough" provided the user follows best practice.
The end user has to take some responsibility.

While we're on the subject (which is OT, I know) I would dearly love someone to find a cure for the current level of spam which over the last six months has included
numerous invoices, payment statements, etc in attachments,
offers to help with my student loan (US);
more offers for Rayban sun glasses than I could use in a lifetime.
and assorted others.
Some of these are not even addressed to me and for some reason 'er indoors is immune even though we use the same domain.
I know what to do with these but there must be a lot of people who would assume that if the sender is (allegedly) Lloyds or Barclays for example they they must be legit. To be fair, most of them get caught in the spam trap but not all.

Nov 18, 2015 at 9:33 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Mike Jackson - I seem to have more or less overcome the spam problem.

Use a range of email addresses martin001@... martin002@... etc. for different purposes. So easier to change a spammed email address and also gives a clue about who is misusing the address.

I occasionally use a gmail address (not often - I don't like goo gal recording everything I do) but it seems less spam prone than others.

Much spam actually lets you opt out. That does have the possible disadvantage that it confirms that they have found a live one, but it generally seems to work.

And for every item of spam received, I create a T-bird filter te eliminate anything from the same source or advertising the same crap.

Net result of the above is that I rarely get any spam in the inbox. (large amounts in the 'deleted' or 'junk' folders but that is not really a nuisance).

Nov 18, 2015 at 10:30 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

One more spam tip.

I always have a reserve of disposable email addresses, ready to use whenever there seems to be a risk that the address will be misused by the recipient (or might be exposed to view on the Internet). At the first item of spam that arrives, the address is deleted from the service provider.

Nov 18, 2015 at 11:23 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Thanks, Martin.

Nov 18, 2015 at 11:35 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Mike, a hacker doesn't need to get into someone's house. Remember Stuxnet. Sprinkle a few 'lost' infected flash drives around in bars and cafes and some are guaranteed to be plugged-in by their finders. On GCHQ/HO, I imagine they use Windows for at least some functions, like most other gov. departments. On systems being secure enough, I think that is complacent, but then I am paranoid. Look at the Pwn2Own competitions, there are always exploits that succeed. But the human factor is the biggest threat - look at the CIA Director's email being hacked by a teenager persuading Verizon to reset his password. On spam, I don't get any really, or very little.

Nov 18, 2015 at 1:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

Testing posts whilst logged in.


Nov 18, 2015 at 3:48 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A


Nov 18, 2015 at 3:48 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A


Nov 18, 2015 at 3:48 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A


Nov 18, 2015 at 3:48 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A


Nov 18, 2015 at 3:49 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Huh? #6

Nov 18, 2015 at 3:49 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A


Nov 18, 2015 at 3:50 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A


Nov 18, 2015 at 3:50 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A


Nov 18, 2015 at 3:50 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A


Nov 18, 2015 at 3:50 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A


Nov 18, 2015 at 3:51 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A