SMICK.NET | Website of Mike Smick Graphics and Web Developer

The infected

Thanks to an evil sequence of events, nearly every single one of the sites I maintain or host for people became infected last month with viruses. This virus was injected somehow into a variety of files and showed up (if people ran certain antivirus scans) on their system as a trojan. I’m not sure how effective it was other than causing an alert. Unfortunately I didn’t know about how prolific the virus was. I was working on my Mac laptop and my iPad. I had no reading of a virus, no infection. Later i did identify that some of the sites were contacting an IP address when the page loaded. Even worse I installed a mac version of the virus software people were seeing the alert with and I got no warnings then either.

I’m very sorry for the inconvenience. I’ve learned a lot in the past few days on this topic. Coincidentally the webhost I use, Dreamhost.com suffered a hack invasion around the same time period. Possibly related, but I’m not sure.  I do know that one of my sites was able to infect the others itself, meaning the code sourced back to another site.  Also, in a couple cases, plugins for the WordPress CMS were vectors for the hack as well as a theme I was running had the virus inserted into javascript files. WordPress is pretty solid, security-wise on its own, but plugins can be more vulnerable.

I wanted to show you a part of the virus. This piece was an injection of code into the main page (index.php) files  of various sites and subfolders. The code is also escaped or encoded itself so you can’t see exactly what it’s doing.  The code part, anyone could copy and duplicate. Not as easy to insert into a webpage though from the outside.

The fixes? I have several. After doing some manual removals, I upgraded all the sites’ WordPress software. WordPress had an upgrade available around the same time too. This upgrade will overwrite the virus files with the fresh install.  I’ve also looked at the plugins and themes of the sites to ensure they aren’t infected as well and upgraded when possible.  And I’ve installed some watch files on the site so I can detect changes like this myself later on.

This has not been a fun experience, very time consuming. I’ll be making some other changes to separate my sites more so at least they can’t infect each other again either.

March 4, 2012 at 2:32 pm | forensics, webdev | No comment

Forensics Books

One of my libraries, Johnson County Library in Kansas created this “killer” book list of forensics titles at the library. Kudos to who put it together. I’m going to paste the list here because I don’t know how long they rotate out their pages. It might be gone tomorrow.

More in non-fiction recommended reading
More lists in fiction

Traces of Evidence
Do Bones Lie?

Baden, Michael Dead Reckoning: the New Science of Catching Killers
(363.2595 Baden) – In Dead Reckoning, the authors take readers into the laboratory, to the autopsy table, onto the witness stand and out in the field to show how advances in forensic science can solve the crucial questions in a criminal case.
Bahn, Paul G. Written in Bones: How Human Remains Unlock the Secrets of the Dead
(930.1 Written) – Readers learn how experts use modern scientific techniques to piece together the stories behind the bones.
Bass, William M. Death’s Acre: Inside the Legendary Forensic Lab the Body Farm Where the Dead do Tell Tales
(614.1 Bass) – As one of the world’s leading forensic anthropologists, Dr. Bass, a master scientist and engaging storyteller, shares his most intriguing cases.
Benecke, Mark Murderous Methods: Using Forensic Science to Solve Lethal Crimes
(363.25 Benecke) – German forensic scientist Benecke (The Dream of Eternal Life: Biomedicine, Aging, and Immortality) has compiled a history of the use of forensic science in famous murders of the 20th century.
Blanche, Tony Death in Paradise: an Illustrated History of the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner
(614.1 Blanche) – Illustrated profusely with photographs, this book traces the history of the Los Angeles Coroners office, and gives details of the famous cases that the office has dealt with over the years.
Craig, Emily Teasing Secrets from the Dead
(363.25 Craig) – Despite occasional gratuitous gross-out details concerning maggots, Craig does a good job of explaining her science to the layperson and portraying the nitty-gritty everyday realities of her job.
Di Maio, Vincent J. M. Gunshot Wounds: Practical Aspects of Firearms, Ballistics, and Forensic Techniques
(614.1 Di Maio) – This work provides critical information on gunshot wounds and the weapons and ammunition used to inflict them and laboratory analysis relating to weapons and gunshot evidence.
Doyle, James M. True Witness: Cops, Courts, Science and the Battle Against Misidentification
(345.066 Doyle) – True Witness describes the latest battles in a one-hundred-year war between scientists studying the shortcomings of human memory and a legal system that relies on eyewitness testimony as a central tool of identifying and convicting suspects – too often wrongly.
Edds, Margaret Expendable Man: the Near-execution of Earl Washington, Jr.
(364.66 Edds) – In 1983, Earl Washington, an impoverished, mentally retarded black farmhand, spent 18 years in prison-nine of them on death row-with the sanction of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Evans, Colin Murder Two: The Second Casebook of Forensic Detection
(363.25 Evans) – This comprehensive casebook of forensic detection presents nearly one hundred classic, high-profile cases in which police detectives and crime labs worked together to solve baffling crimes through the shrewd, painstaking use of science.
Goff, M. Lee A Fly for the Prosecution: How Insect Evidence Helps Solve Crimes
(614.1 Goff 2000) – Investigator Goff shows how knowledge of insects and their habits allows forensic entomologists to furnish investigators with crucial evidence about crimes.
Jackson, Steve No Stone Unturned: the True Story of NecroSearch International, the World’s Premier Forensic Investigators
(363.25 Jackson) – In No Stone Unturned, Steve Jackson chronicles how NecroSearch, “The Pig People, ” came into being, how it developed, and why it is now being called into murder cases all across America and in a half-dozen foreign countries.
Junkin, Tim Bloodsworth: the True Story of the First Death Row Inmate Exonerated by DNA
(364.44 Junkin) – After nine years in one of the harshest prisons in America, Kirk Bloodsworth was vindicated by DNA evidence. Bloodsworth reads like a thriller, with an ending no fiction writer could imagine.
King, Michael R. Who Killed King Tut? Using Modern Forensics to Solve a 3,300-Year-Old Mystery
(932.014 King) – When King and Cooper reveal their prime suspect, their findings challenge long-held beliefs about the famous pharaoh.
Lee, Henry C. Blood Evidence: How DNA is Revolutionizing the Way We Solve Crimes
(614.1 Lee) – Written specifically for a lay audience, Blood Evidence is the first trade book to explore the complexities of DNA testing and the effect it has had on justice systems worldwide.
Lee, Henry C. Cracking More Cases: the Forensic Science of Solving Crimes
(363.25 Lee) – In this solid sequel to 2002’s Cracking Cases, legendary forensics expert Lee focuses on the brutal slayings of six-year-old Jon Benet Ramsey and teenager Martha Moxley.
Lyle, D. P. Forensics for Dummies
(363.25 Lyle 2004) – A guide for those of us who do not understand the details that forensics science is concerned withfingerprints, DNA, indications of the type of death, and documentation, as well as covering ten famous cases, ten ways Hollywood gets it wrong, and ten great forensic science careers.
Lyle, D. P. Murder and Mayhem: a Doctor Answers Medical and Forensic Questions for Mystery Writers
(808.3872 Lyle) – The best of Lyle’s columns for the Mystery Writers of America newsletter, in which the doctor provides detailed and informative answers to questions regarding various aspects of medicine and forensics.
Platt, Richard Crime Scene: the Ultimate Guide to Forensic Science
(363.25 Platt) – Revealing the very latest high-tech techniques of forensic detection, “Crime Scene” uses case studies and digital imagery to show how science uncovers the truth about how crimes were committed and who carried them out.
Sachs, Jessica Snyder Corpse, Nature, Forensics, and the Struggle to Pinpoint Time of Death
(614.1 Sachs) – Corpse explores how the hot new science of forensic ecology is cracking some of the world’s toughest criminal cases.
Starrs, James A Voice for the Dead: a Forensic Investigator’s Pursuit of the Truth in the Grave
(363.25 Starrs) – Law school professor and forensic sciences expert Starrs writes about his jump mid-career into the politically fraught, physically arduous business of exhuming bodies to solve the coldest of cases with the help of the forensic science he has taught for years.
Ubelaker, Douglas H. and Scammel, Henry Bones: a Forensics Detective’s Casebook
(614.1 Ubelaker) – Fascinating, educational, and highly readable, “Bones” takes readers into the dark world of forensic science.
Wecht, Cyril H. Grave Secrets: a Leading Forensic Expert Reveals the Truth about O. J. Simpson
(614.1 Wecht) – A common theme in the book is the misdiagnosis or injustice caused by forensic incompetence, overzealousness, or corruption.
Weinberg, Samantha Pointing from the Grave: a True Story of Murder and DNA
(363.25 Weinberg) – This tells the true story of a murderer and his victim–unsolved for over a decade. Combining the history of DNA with human drama, Weinberg focuses on two lives made and destroyed by a tiny molecule.

April 4, 2006 at 1:35 am | forensics, police | No comment