Fake Online Pet Store Scams Are On The Rise

Anyone considering buying a pet via a website should be wary of making any payments until you have done aggressive research on the facility/kennel!

Over the past year, and due to covid lockdowns, there has been an increase in websites selling pets. In some cases, these sites are entirely fake. This type of scam is particularly crueler, much like the popular scams targeting the less tech-savvy using fake refund/bank/amazon login sites.

The scam goes a little like this:

  • Attackers setup a fake website, usually using something like WordPress.
  • Attackers then go to various websites and steal images of real dogs belonging to other kennels/sellers.
  • Attackers then set up a fake marketplace utilizing the stolen content.
  • Attackers then optimize their websites to rank higher then real kennels.

Due to the nature of how idiotic SEO algorithms are, buyers are funneled in directly to the fake site via search engines. Once on the site, the attackers use multiple metrics to optimize their profiles and ultimately scam their targets.

How To Avoid Being Scammed By Fake Pet Store Sites

  1. Do Your Research, Call, Visit (if you can), ask for a Zoom, Skype, Duo, or Facetime video call.
  2. If You are paying a premium price for a high-end breed, Look up the kennel club’s information, the American Kennel Club Is a first good step.
  3. Take the profile picture of the site’s pet profile and do a quick Google Image Search, make sure it’s not a stock photo or a stolen image from another site.
  4. Watch out for foreign accents.
  5. Ask for a license, visit their state’s or local municipality’s website and verify their license. You should be able to call a customer service line as well.
  6. Don’t use giftcards, cryptocurrency, zell, cash, check. Use PayPal or a Credit Card which offers better protection from such scams.

As a previous pet owner, I know how falling for a scam like this can upset anyone. Hopefully, these quick tips will have helped someone trying to get a pet do it a bit more safely and, most importantly, not fall for a potential scam.

When your new pet gets home, don’t forget to buy them lots of treats!

The Inherit Dangers Of Nextdoor And How It’s Really Facebook 2.0

Like any other person, at first, I was intrigued by the idea of getting to know your neighbor. So I decided to sign up and check out the site nextdoor.com. After a few minutes, I noticed a similar pattern, and no, it was not the complete ripoff of Facebook’s wall design (American “innovation” nowadays). It Was happening everywhere, people ranting, complaining, whining, everyone’s an “expert,” you know, the same mental disease that is rampant across all self-proclaimed “social” networks. This problem got worse during the holidays, the hyper-feminine neighborhood soyboys felt entitled to their ways, and every neighbor had to comply.

During my testing, I began to post random rants and content to test out and study their algorithms’ flagging and censorship mechanics, which ended up basic, mob, or moderator rule. At some point, an appointed neighborhood “Lead” or snitch was introduced as a tertiary mechanism. As time progressed, the site became a mouthpiece for local governments, mandated posts you can’t comment on, flag, or remove. A Flood of COVID ads everywhere primarily sponsored the local municipalities and shoved down your throat with no way to opt-out. If you asked the wrong questions about COVID or any “sensitive” subject for that matter, you would get a canned notice the next time you log in. The warning was generalized or vague, only highlighting misinformation. If you’d continue, you could safely assume your account would be suspended indefinitely to protect the idiocracy. For me, this was a huge red flag, especially when recognizing the same evolving pattern from Facebook, pretending to be a place for people to meet and have discourse. At the same time, a single narrative is being propagated and used to manipulate behavior, all thanks to their centralized ivory tower.

After a month of being active on the platform, I concluded that Nextdoor is again for the self-absorbed sheep that didn’t learn from Facebook and probably never will. Plain and simple, the platform presents a clear and present danger to any country that uses it. Why would I say that? Because they mimic Facebook in every way, except their local content/data is more accurate. Nextdoor is also much better at staying under the radar while being more aggressive; they have quietly mapped out all US communities or countries with access. They then give or sell unknown access to the highest bidder, which could then monitor the local community’s opinions, sentiment, dissent. They can use various datasets from others users to create algorithms to find patterns within their ecosystem. That data can then be weaponized to identify a specific category, people, targets, or forecast behavior. As with Facebook, the possibilities are endless.

Before deactivating my test account, I requested a copy of my user dataset. After a few minutes, I had a nice zip file with my partial history in various .csv files:

  • Comments
  • Days Active
  • Devices
  • Email Notification Preferences
  • Invitations Sent
  • Posts
  • Private Messages
  • Profile Information
  • Push Notification Preferences
  • Reactions
  • Recommendations
  • Seasonal Activities
  • Targets Ads
  • Topics
  • Verification Information

When I had the chance, I did not use their app as the permissions it was asking for were ridiculous and out of context of what would be necessary to interact with the platform. In other words, it was invasive privacy-wise. If I had used their app, I would probably have another file called Tracking with a log of geolocations pings, unless, of course, that is part of what you don’t get to see. For your safety, of course…

The Danger Of A Malicious User Or State-Actor

During my time testing the platform with a fake account, I built a simple python script that would scrape the entire neighborhood. After only a few hours, I was able to :

  • Identify and Categorize Neighbors based on Race
  • Identify Neighbors with Metal Disease/Issues
  • Identify and Categorize Complainers
  • Identify Trolls
  • Identify Violent Neighbors
  • Areas with most crime
  • Veterans

With more time, and a little ML, the possibilities would have been endless. Map, identify, correlate, you name it. My advice is to stay off any social network that is not decentralized, period, or be ready to have your profile open-sourced to the highest bidder.

Install Redis NoSQL/Object Cache on Ubuntu Server 18 & 20 LTS

This post is a quick post to serve as a note. Don’t expect long redundant explanations of Redis, NoSQL, Object Caching, or deployment suggestions. I would suggest a visit to their site for more detailed information. For this scenario, we are simply installing Redis on the same local machine as Apache; the following settings should be secure as long as Redis is bound to the localhost. For dedicated setups, you will require some additional configuration in the form of authentication, interface bindings, firewall permissions, and more aggressive hardware specs, specifically RAM. If you encounter any issues, feel free to leave a comment below.

*** Note: No, Redis does not automagically take a PHP application and auto-populate it with objects From a MySQL database. This optimization is done through application logic, in other words, Redis can only be taken advantage of if an application has built-in support for it. This support varies from application to application; from a typical LAMP stack, an application can leverage Redis’s in-memory database to offload or mitigate common queries/datasets from your traditional RDBMS. PHP has a Redis module like MySQL’s PDO module, which has a built-in class that can safely interact with Redis. You can learn more about it using Redis in your PHP app here.***

Step 1: Bash Into root User

sudo bash ("sudo -su" if you prefer)

Enter your password to enter the root superuser account.

Step 2: Preparation

As root enter

apt-get update -y && apt-get upgrade -y && apt-get dist-upgrade -y && apt-get autoremove -y && apt-get autoclean -y

Step 3: Installing Redis

apt-get install redis-server -y

Once the command completes its cycle, proceed to edit redis.conf

vim /etc/redis/redis.conf

Assuming your configuration is clean, you will need to edit the following lines:

#Line 147: change default to: 
supervised systemd
#Line 559: change default to: 
maxmemory 128mb
#Line 590: change default to: 
maxmemory-policy allkeys-lru

Step 4: Testing The Install

To test the Redis install log into Redis’s command-line interface, enter the following command in your terminal window:

redis-cli

To check if you have any data/keys set:

keys *

The last command should have returned 0 or nothing. So let’s make sure Redis can record data, still inside your Redis CLI, enter the following command:

SET dude "BRO"

Let’s query Redis for our stored keypair, inside Redis CLI:

GET dude

You should have gotten a response of “BRO”, if not, 50 pushups noob. You can find a list of all the commands for Redis here.

Step S: Disable Transparent Huge Pages

Transparent Huge Pages support is enabled by default in Ubuntu. Like some database environments, it is recommended to disable THP where Redis is installed.

Inside the terminal run the following command:

echo never > /sys/kernel/mm/transparent_hugepage/enabled

add the same command to a new line inside /etc/rc.local

vim /etc/rc.local

Save and reboot.

shutdown -r now (only cool kids use "reboot")

Step 5 (Optional): Install PHP Module

Redis (Native PHP)

apt-get install php-redis

Redis (PHP8)

apt-get install php8.0-redis

Questions, comments, memes, below.

Install PiHole With SSL On Apache Running Ubuntu Server 20 LTS

This is another quick post to serve as a general note. This post will cover the install of PiHole with SSL on Apache. The guide should work for most Debian-based Linux distributions. We are running PHP7.4 as it’s native to the OS and does not require any PPA addons. You can install PHP8/+ if you like.

Step 1: Bash Into root

sudo bash

Enter your password.

Step 2: Install Apache2

apt-get install apache2 -y

Step 3: Install PHP 7.4

apt-get install php -y
apt-get install php-common php-mysql php-xml php-curl php-cli php-imap php-mbstring php-opcache php-soap php-zip php-intl php-sqlite3 -y

Step 4: Install PiHole

curl -sSL https://install.pi-hole.net | bash

During the course of the install, you will be prompted ~5 times. At the last prompt, you will be asked if you want to install the Lighttpd web server. At this point, you want to select no and complete the install process.

Once completed your PiHole setup should work. and should be accessible via ip/domain.com/admin/

Step 5 Cleanup:

As of today, I have noticed a rare glitch that will cause the folder structure to be odd after the pihole install. This can be easily fixed with the following details.

The default install will create folders like this:

pihole folder: /var/www/html/pihole
admin folder: /var/www/html/admin

Although not a big deal, this causes a problem when trying to access the admin dashboard from the default pihole URL (http://ip/pihole), the link on the page that is supposed to link to the admin page will be broken. At this point, you can update the page link manually in pihole/index.php to forward to the correct URL or you can change/move folders to your liking.

To fix this issue, as root, first we move the folder to the correct directory.

mv /var/www/html/admin /var/www/html/pihole

Second, we update the default pihole root index file links

vim /var/www/www/html/pihole/index.php

We want to edit three lines 77, 81, and 83 to reflect the new URL structure.

#Line 77: 
<link rel='shortcut icon' href='/pihole/admin/img/favicons/favicon.ico' type='image/x-icon'>

#Line 81:
<img src='/pihole/admin/img/logo.svg' alt='Pi-hole logo' id="pihole_logo_splash">

#Line 83:
<a href='/pihole/admin/'>Did you mean to go to the admin panel?</a>

Once done you can consider the process complete.

Step S: Installing SSL on PiHole:

To keep things classy, if not already, bash into root:

sudo bash

Let’s enable the PHP’s SSL module and make our SSL folder to house our certs.

a2enmod ssl
mkdir /etc/apache2/certs/pihole

Now let’s generate our self-signed cert:

openssl req -x509 -nodes -days 365 -newkey rsa:2048 -keyout /etc/apache2/certs/pihole/piholio.key -out /etc/apache2/certs/pihole/piholio.crt

Edit our default SSL virtual hosts config:

vim /etc/apache2/sites-available/default-ssl.conf

Replace lines 32 and 33 with the following lines

SSLCertificateFile /etc/apache2/certs/pihole/piholio.crt
SSLCertificateKeyFile /etc/apache2/certs/pihole/piholio.key

Save and exit.

Next, enable SSL and restart the apache service:

a2ensite default-ssl.conf && systemctl restart apache2

At this point, you’ve successfully installed PiHole with SSL. We have another issue, by default apache does not reroute to SSL so you will still be able to visit the non-SSL URL. To fix this we need to enable the Rewrite module and enter our conditions into our domain’s virtual host configuration (or .htaccess).

Let’s enable that rewrite module:

a2enmod rewrite
systemctl restart apache2

Let’s edit our default virtual host file:

vim /etc/apache2/sites-available/000-default.conf

Add the following three lines of code before the </VirtualHost> closing tag.

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTPS} off
RewriteRule ^ https://%{SERVER_NAME}%{REQUEST_URI} [END,NE,R=permanent]

Save the file and restart Apache.

systemctl restart apache2

Your PiHole install should now be “running in SSL”. If anyone viewing my notes has questions feel free to leave a comment.

Install PHP8 on Ubuntu Server 18 & 20 LTS Running Apache

This post is a quick post to serve as a note, don’t expect long explanations of general LAMP stack design concepts. If you encounter any issues feel free to leave a comment below.

Step 1: Bash Into root User

sudo bash 
#("sudo -su" if you prefer)

Enter your password to enter the root superuser account.

Step 2: Preparation

As root enter

apt-get update -y && apt-get upgrade -y && apt-get dist-upgrade -y && apt-get autoremove -y && apt-get autoclean -y

Step 3: Adding PHP8 Repository

apt-get install ca-certificates apt-transport-https software-properties-common -y

Once the command above completes its process:

add-apt-repository ppa:ondrej/php -y && apt-get update -y

Step 4: Installing PHP8

apt-get install php8.0 libapache2-mod-php8.0 -y && systemctl restart apache2 
apt-get install php8.0-fpm libapache2-mod-fcgid

Enable default PHP8 FastCGI manager module and config:

a2enmod proxy_fcgi setenvif
a2enconf php8.0-fpm

Restart Apache:

systemctl restart apache2

You might need these as well… MySQL, MBString, and MailParse

apt-get install php8.0-mbstring php8.0-mailparse php8.0-mysql php8.0-xml php8.0-zip -y

WordPress Modules

apt-get install php8.0-imagick -y

*****

To get jiggy with it… (installs all PHP modules, typically reserved for DevOps/Sandboxing)

apt-get install php8.0-dev

*****

Once you’re done with installing any additional modules, although not required, it’s recommended you reboot your machine. Let’s do a little cleanup in case something unnecessary (like previous PHP7 packages) was left behind.

apt-get update -y && apt-get upgrade -y && dist-upgrade -y && apt-get autoclean -y && apt-get autoremove -y && reboot

Step 5 (Optional): Additional Caching Modules

Memcached

apt-get install php8.0-memcached

Redis

apt-get install php8.0-redis

ODROID-C2 Headless Ubuntu 20 Image

This is a quick post for anyone who was looking to get a headless image from HardKernal but couldn’t actually find it (It doesn’t exist). This guide will use their hosted image for general security reasons.

Why would you want to do this? If you don’t plan on using it as a desktop. Also, why not save ~100MB of RAM and have an even more stable system.

If you haven’t already you can download the official HardKernal Odroid-C2 Ubuntu Image for your Odroid-C2 here.

Skipping The Install Process…

It’s 2021, I’m not going over the install process. This guide assumes you already have a clean Ubuntu 20 installed (from the OFFICIAL repository) and running on your C2. If your ODROID starts auto-patching security updates as soon as you connect it to your network, let it complete before starting.

(Optional)

You can install whatever ssh server you like for your C2, it will make the process much easier to copy and paste commands.

sudo apt-get install openssh-server -y

Removing Mate

sudo apt-get purge $(dpkg --list | grep MATE | awk '{print $2}')

Once the command above completes, continue removing additional traces left behind

sudo apt-get purge libmate-sensors-applet-plugin0 -y && sudo apt-get purge libmateweather-common libmateweather1:amd64 -y && sudo apt-get purge mate-accessibility-profiles -y && sudo apt-get purge mate-notification-daemon -y && sudo apt-get purge mate-notification-daemon-common -y && sudo apt-get purge plymouth-theme-ubuntu-mate-logo -y && sudo apt-get purge plymouth-theme-ubuntu-mate-text -y

Finally Remove The LightDM “Screen Greeter”

sudo apt-get remove lightdm -y

Additional Apps You Might Want To Remove

This is what I chose to remove, feel free to remove any apps you also wont be using without any desktop GUI.

sudo apt-get remove firefox -y

Finish cleaning up

sudo apt-get autoclean -y && apt-get autoremove -y && reboot

That should pretty much sum up the process, let me know if you encounter any issues.

Northwest Victims Tricked Into Calling Scammers Fake Support Number

There seems to be some hilarious tomfoolery going on where victims are tricked into calling a fake support number via email. The worst part is the scammer’s effort or IQ level, put some effort loser, but I digress. The worst part seems to be it targeting the poor (those experiencing financial hardship if you want to be P.C.) as they would be most likely to panic and call. Beware if you’re lucky enough to fall for it, you are further exploited into giving account details, credit cards numbers, nuclear codes, etc. The scam is some basic sh*t but for the uninitiated, it can spell a bad week or month/s of the recovery process. So the moral of the post is if you get a shady email telling you to thank you for your some unknown purchase from Amazon (or wherever), with a crazy price, support numbers listed in the same email multiple times… I’d probably call it, f*ck it.

No, no, don’t call. Validate the sender’s address, no support email from any big company will come from Gmail or Hotmail, it will come from the companies domain. If you’re still in doubt, don’t panic, do a quick search on Google, look up the company visit the site, look up their support information, and contact them. Don’t be a statistic.

Solving the PHP Warning: fsockopen(): unable to connect (Connection timed out)

If you’ve worked with APIs you’ve probably gotten this error and know how annoying it is. All because the native function never returns any actionable error for its request timing out. The best way to detect if the fsockopen() function request is timing out is to use a error control operator. The idea is to suppress the timeout warning with a @ prefix, so the function only returns true if it completes its cycle/request. You can review the example PHP code below.


if($fp = @fsockopen($host, $port, $errno, $errstr, $timeout)) {   

return true;

}else{
  
return false;

}

Issues? leave your questions.

PHP CLI & Terminal Colors

A Simple PHP class for wrapping your console/terminal output text in color. Keep in mind that building a class for such projects will require customization as each terminal emulator will process colors a bit differently. For the most part, the colors in this class work with any popular terminal emulator.

<?php

class CLI
{

// this function requires 1 variable, content. The color arguement is optional.
function cout_color($content, $color=null)
{

// if a color is set use the color set.
if(!empty($color))
{
// if our color string is not a numeric value
if(!is_numeric($color))
{
//lowercase our string value.
$c = strtolower($color);

}
else
{
// chec if our color value is not empty.
if(!empty($color))
{

$c = $color;

}
else
{ 
// no color was set so lets pick a random one...
$c = rand(1,14);

}

}

}
else// no color @paramter was passed, so lets pick a random one...
{ 

$c = rand(1,14);

}

$cheader = '';
$cfooter = "\033[0m";

// let check which color code was used so we can then wrap our content.
switch($c)
{

case 1:
case 'red':

// color code header.
$cheader .= "\033[31m";

break;

case 2:
case 'green':

// color code
$cheader .= "\033[32m";

break;

case 3:
case 'yellow':

// color code
$cheader .= "\033[33m";

break;

case 4:
case 'blue':

// color code
$cheader .= "\033[34m";

break;

case 5:
case 'magenta':

// color code
$cheader .= "\033[35m";

break;

case 6:
case 'cyan':

// color code
$cheader .= "\033[36m";

break;

case 7:
case 'light grey':

// color code
$cheader .= "\033[37m";

break;

case 8:
case 'dark grey':

// color code
$cheader .= "\033[90m";

break;

case 9:
case 'light red':

// color code
$cheader .= "\033[91m";

break;

case 10:
case 'light green':

// color code
$cheader .= "\033[92m";

break;

case 11:
case 'light yellow':

// color code
$cheader .= "\033[93m";

break;

case 12:
case 'light blue':

// color code
$cheader .= "\033[94m";

break;

case 13:
case 'light magenta':

// color code
$cheader .= "\033[95m";

break;

case 14:
case 'light cyan':

// color code
$cheader .= "\033[92m";

break;

}

// wrap our content.
$content = $cheader.$content.$cfooter;

//return our new content.
return $content;


}



}

?>


$cli = new CLI();

// echo a string using the class string color 'red'.
echo $cli->cout_color('It Works!', 'red');

// echo a string using the class color id 1.
echo $cli->cout_color('It Works!', 1);

// echo a string using a random color.
echo $cli->cout_color('It Works!');

Add/Remove based on your project requirements.

Propagating The “CryptoCurrency Is An Unstoppable Force” Myth

I am sure you’ve heard that mantra, Bitcoin can’t be stopped. All regurgitated by a handful of those who have to benefit from it going mainstream. So they begin to ramble on about blockchain technology, wallets, nodes, revolution, etc. Yet, they always fail to mention that almost ALL cryptocurrencies rely on the internet being open and accessible. Ask a network engineer if they can block bitcoin traffic, “But, but it can’t be banned!”, ok buddy. It doesn’t necessarily need to be. As I’ve clearly stated in previous posts, what has made a reserve currency a viable option was security but ultimately its accessibility.

While cryptocurrency can offer accessibility, it cannot provide security… yet. Yes, it will work on a Mickey Mouse scale; it even creates an immutable log, cold storage mechanisms bla-bla-bla, so? Aside from cheaper ways to accomplish this, breaking network encryption for a true quantum computer will be like AI beating the first level of Tetris on its own… sinchy.

With the Snowden leaks (Vault 7 etc.), we learned quite a bit about network security at a nation-state level. Governments were actively weaponizing their networks; in some cases, some had already been at it for years. With the disclosure came the fallout; governments began internalizing their networks and software stacks. This also led first-world countries to up their electronic warfare capabilities, specifically EMP technology. An undisclosed EMP weapon was first used on the USS Donald Cook as it traveled through the Black Sea. On April 10, 2014, courtesy of a Russian SU-24, the USS Donald Cook’s entire weapon systems were disabled by a simple fly-by. With this in mind, how many detonations at an atmospheric altitude would it take to disable entire countries’ electronic and power systems? The answer would scare you. Do you know what would happen to metal? Nothing.

Aside from the obvious boring subject of electronic warfare, cyberwar is where all the fun is at. With absolute and unchecked power, like anonymity, cryptocurrency has no chance. When you own or have access to every network and power utility globally, with enough data from both datasets, you can quickly generate an algorithmic model to detect and pinpoint mining across multiple platforms. Just like financial data, your energy footprint says a lot about you. A few significant nodes coming down would cause massive network latency issues. The process could then be further weaponized to cause persistent network fragmentation resulting in wasted network resources and long network transaction times. Oh, but you want to mine a cryptographic network on solar, a cool story… Via satellite? You can’t successfully do it on land, you want to do it wirelessly? Who’s going to protect it? Do you think wireless signals are invisible? Even easier to find and destroy.

Most nation-states, with and who have insatiable budgets, are setting up multiple network sensors across global networks using various cloud providers, if they don’t already, to help map hidden/encrypted traffic—ever heard of supercookies? Imagine what other undisclosed headers/packet injection takes place at an ISP level, for “national security,” of course. They probably already do this for users who get flagged for using VPNs and Tor. It wouldn’t be hard to target central nodes and start causing massive fragmentation and chaos, or better yet, a few controlled power outages, and the men in black show up at your door and take you and all your equipment.

If it can be blocked, why haven’t governments banned Bitcoin then? One Word, Geopolitics. Can they block it? It depends on your definition of “block.” Again, do you have to block it to stop it? So why has no government done anything about it? Currently, governments around the world entertain the idea as it serves as a case study, hedge, and perfect tool to weaken the petro-dollar. No boogie man, no immediately identifiable group to blame, dress up, or call a terrorist, Bitcoin can’t be blamed, vilified, or assassinated. Don’t worry; governments connected with central banks will tell you that Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are generally bad and contribute to crime. All while they make their own “safe” centralized versions (backdoored) in their dark closets. At the end of the day what ultimately makes Bitcoin bad to government institutions is it can’t be mandated to comply. A Decentralized cryptocurrency doesn’t care about opinion, only consensus.

Why do governments have an incentive to stop any trans-national rogue currency/currencies? Easy, who wants their local economies hijacked and manipulated by unknown foreigners? Kind of like how transnational corporations already do? Most importantly, how will governments fund their illegal freedom wars? This alone is the single greatest threat to government institutions, the ability to tax you arbitrarily. How do you fund any war without its people’s backing? This is why a rouge currency will never be allowed to become a world reserve currency. They will kill the internet, heck, some would say it already is.

Bitcoin is an idea, and if you ever watched V for Vendetta, you know that ideas are indestructible. I’ve always said who gives a rat’s ass about the currency aspect; it’s the protocol that matters. Although Bitcoin currently relies on digital networks, its true potential won’t be viable until two crucial technologies pass. The first and most important will be Quantum Networking, and the second, Zero Point Energy. These two, in conjunction, will make the concept genuinely unstoppable, unhindered by physical network constraints, censorship, and energy consumption.

If you still think Bitcoin today, as a reserve currency has a chance, you need to get off your non-binary unicorn and put the crack pipe down.