Thursday, October 26, 2006

Comodo Offering a Wide Array of Freeware Security Products for Windows Users

Comodo, a company that has seemingly come out of nowhere, has released a suite of applications for Windows end-users that are completely free and do a variety of security related tasks that other companies charge a great deal for. One of their most popular products is their firewall, which is well received due to the recent halt in production of several free firewall products, such as Kerio and Sygate. They also have a suite of other security products that are free for Windows users.

Comodo Firewall
Free lifetime license

Comodo Firewall, rated by PC Magazine Online as an Editor's Choice, constantly monitors and defends your PC from internet attacks. It's easy to install and use and passes the industry's most stringent firewall "leak" tests. Unlike some other 'free' firewalls, this is not a stripped down version but is the full, completely functional product. This free solution comes complete with continual updates that are free forever!

Comodo AntiVirus
FREE lifetime license

Eliminates Viruses, Worms and Trojans from Windows XP and Windows 2000 computers. Features on-demand & on-access scanning, email scanning, process monitoring, worm blocking, full scheduling capabilities and more. It's easy to install and configure; will not slow down your PC by hogging system resources and the full program is free for life to the end user.

Comodo BackUp
FREE lifetime license

Comodo Backup is the straightforward and powerful utility that allows users to quickly and easily create backup copies of critical files. Free of charge, it includes complete file and folder-duplication to local network drives and FTP servers, intelligent incremental backups, e-mail reporting, extensive report logs, real time back ups with “synchronization” mode, advanced rule-based filtering, flexible scheduling of backups, space-saving archiving capabilities, and more.

Comodo Verification Engine
FREE for life

VerificationEngine anti-phishing and identity assurance tool for Microsoft Windows offers an extremely simple way to differentiate legitimate web sites from fraudulent ones. Place your mouse cursor over a site logo. If it is authentic, a green border will appear around your browser. So if you really wish to be sure you are looking at the real site rather than a clever imitation created to steal your identity, install VerificationEngine now!

Comodo AntiSpam
FREE license

Install Comodo AntiSpam for free and reclaim your inbox. Our powerful challenge-response technology authenticates the sender of every mail – a system that automated spam bots can’t get around. This is the full product, not stripped down ‘cripple ware’ and is free forever to the end user.

Comodo iVault
FREE license

iVault saves time by providing instantaneous logins to any username/password secured web pages such as online banking and email account sites. It also doubles up as a 256 bit secure storage for private and confidential information such as credit card details and social security numbers and protects against the very latest key-logging Trojan Horse viruses.
Their anti-virus software seems to have subpar ratings from most, and is probably not recommended for most people. So far, one of the best free anti-virus solutions is still Grisoft's AVG Anti-Virus. I also have not tried their backup software. Since AOL has been on it's spree of giving everything away, they have developed XDrive as a free online backup option for anyone who has an AOL screenname. You receive 5GB of online space with free desktop software that allows you to have the system as an extra drive letter (X:\). Still, Comodo's intentions seem well placed, and any free suites of security software are always welcome, even if it needs more time to develop. Comodo's main way of making money looks to be by selling Enterprise solutions and SSL certificates. Feel free to post any comments on how the software works for you.

Comodo Free Desktop PC Security

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

More Proof of the Benefit of Testosterone Therapy

A new study from the Archives of Internal Medicine finds that men older than 65 with low testosterone levels have increased chances of falling. In senior citizens, falling can be quite traumatic and lead to major bone fractures, especially breakage of the hip bones, which become more fragile with age.

Endogenous Testosterone Levels, Physical Performance, and Fall Risk in Older Men

Eric Orwoll, MD; Lori C. Lambert, MS; Lynn M. Marshall, ScD; Janet Blank, MS; Elizabeth Barrett-Connor, MD; Jane Cauley, MD; Kris Ensrud, MD; Steven R. Cummings, MD; for the Osteoporotic Fractures in Men Study Group

Arch Intern Med. 2006;166:2124-2131.

Background: Gonadal steroid levels decline with age in men. Whether low testosterone levels affect the development of common age-related disorders, including physical functioning and falling, is unclear.

Methods: This longitudinal, observational follow-up study sought to determine whether low testosterone levels are associated with physical performance and fall risk in older men. A total of 2587 community-based men aged 65 to 99 years were selected using a stratified random sampling scheme from a study cohort of 5995 volunteers. Bioavailable testosterone and estradiol levels and physical performance measures were determined from baseline. Incident falls were ascertained every 4 months during 4 years of follow-up. Generalized estimating equations were used to estimate risk ratios for the relation of sex steroids to falls.

Results: Fifty-six percent of the men reported at least 1 fall; many fell frequently. Lower bioavailable testosterone levels were associated with increased fall risk. Men with testosterone levels in the lowest quartile had a 40% higher fall risk than those in the highest quartile. The effect of low testosterone levels was most apparent in younger men (65-69 years) (relative risk, 1.8; 95% confidence interval, 1.2-2.7); testosterone level was not associated with falls in the oldest men (≥80 years). Lower testosterone concentrations were associated with reduced physical performance. However, the association between low testosterone levels and fall risk persisted despite adjustment for performance.

Conclusions: Falls were common among older men. Fall risk was higher in men with lower bioavailable testosterone levels. The effect of testosterone level was independent of poorer physical performance, suggesting that the effect of testosterone on fall risk may be mediated by other androgen actions.

Reuters has reported that the authors of the study recommend HRT (hormone replacement therapy) for elderly males. They have also suggested that testosterone might possibly be involved with vision, thinking and coordination.

"Like women on hormone replacement therapy, many older men are turning to testosterone therapy to regain some of what has been lost physically and mentally in the aging process," said Dr. Eric Orwoll, a professor of medicine at the school.

The study, appearing in the Archives of Internal Medicine, said that testosterone decline is a normal part of aging in men. It also said previous studies have shown that older men with reduced testosterone who got shots of testosterone experienced an increase in muscle mass and strength.
CNN: Old-age testosterone decline leads to falls, study says

Solutions for Web Sites that Force Registration to Access Content

We all come across pages online that require you to register. Sometimes these are straightforward, just asking for your email address and a username so you can post on a messageboard with other information being optional. But some sites want more, like your name and address, date of birth, and lots of other details you might not want to give out. Even if the site says it won't sell or give out your details, how do you know they won't? There is no obligation for web sites to follow or even implement a privacy policy. While most sites will ask if you want to sign up for their newsletter, sometimes they automatically subscribe you without your authorization, forcing you to opt-out, or worse.

So what can you do to bypass these forced registrations?

The first and easiest solution is to use Bugmenot is a community oriented site that stores usernames and passwords for websites that require users to register to read content. It's a public database that anyone can access, and when you come across a page that asks you to register, all you do is find the link indicating that you have already registered and that you want to login. Lookup the site on bugmenot and input one of the usernames and passwords. They also have a voting mechanism to get rid of old or invalid logins. Making the whole process even easier is the BugMeNot Firefox Extension that automatically retrieves the data from and inputs it into login forms. Just right click on the empty login field and choose "Login with Bugmenot" and it goes at it. It will even continue to input usernames if one or more fails and prompts you to go and get more if all the ones it tried have failed. If you've come across a site that doesn't have any logins, you can contribute your own username and password for others to use.

The best way to create a new login for bugmenot, or any other site that requests your email address that you don't want to give is to use a disposable email account. Since most sites often require you to activate your account by sending an email to the account you specify and clicking a link within the email to ensure less abuse of their registration system. Disposable email addresses are simply email addresses that are created on a system that have no password, but a username with the domain as the @ extension. So, to login, all you do is go to the site and put in the username, and the email will show up. One might think that this would obviously be the opposite of private, but the object is not to create an email address for you to use permanently, only temporarily. These accounts can only receive email and not send them, so you simply use them to get the validation email and, depending on the requirements of the site you are attempting to register for, the email address itself becomes the username.

A few services that provide disposable email addresses are:
You can also find a directory of disposable email addresses at and Among the several email addresses I use, I have a commercial Yahoo account that came with my DSL connection, which includes a feature called AddressGuard. This feature allows a user to create up to 500 disposable email accounts. All the accounts have the same beginning, such as abc123, followed with another word or phrase that you can use to associate with the site you're using, and ends with the address. So, for example, if I wanted to create an account on CNN, I could use I can send and receive from the email address, and specify a color I want to show when an email from that address comes to my inbox. Other email providers, like Gmail, allow you to add a plus (+) onto your email to track where your email would be coming from, such as Unfortunaly, many sites do not parse the plus symbol properly and when you attempt to register using an address in the above example, it will come back with an error asking you to submit a valid email address after you submit the form on the server.

Finally, if a site requires you to put in your name and address, there is a site to remedy this problem, without having to pull a random name out of a phone book or create a completely bogus address. The Fake Name Generator will create a fake name, address, city, state, and a selection of countries, along with a phone number, a mothers maiden name, birthdate, email address, and even credit card number. The last feature I cannot see what the purpose is. In any case, the credit card that it outputs would not work on any modern system for the intention of fraud that I am aware of. According to the site's FAQ, the data it generates is essentially random, so you won't hopefully put some total stranger's name into a database of potential spammers.

All of these concepts were originally created out of the needs I describe, essentially in order to bypass annoying and cumbersome web registration when a user simply wants to look at a news article or something related. One of the first people to put this concept into practice was Marc Majcher, with his Random NYTimes Login Generator. This was created of a need to read articles on the Nytimes site without having to register and give out private information. It has evolved into sites such as bugmenot, so it can benefit both groups. The NYTimes will not be overloaded with bogus info in their database, and users who know about these functions and don't want to give out private info can use public accounts for this purpose.

What about the potential for abuse?

With things like this will come the potential to be abused. Bugmenot allows sites who don't want to allow logins with it to request it using an online form. Of course, there will always be methods to attempt to break the rules anywhere one goes. A user can use a proxy to login to a site and post abusive messages, or use a proxy to post anonymous information about a legitimate topic that they might not have otherwise. So, the potential for abuse is always there with systems such as this. It is just up to the community and site operators in general to decide on how best to work around problems and find solutions that will work out best for everyone. If a website operator finds that most of it's registration data is bogus, then they can either disable the need to register to access an article or completely remove access to those articles. Obviously, decisions like those and the discussion of abuse is beyond the scope of this article. If you have any comments to add, feel free to post them.
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