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Wash. woman gets 30 days for starting fire in patrol car

Author: Garey McKee

By Chris Bristol Yakima Herald-Republic

YAKIMA, Wash. — A woman who started a fire while seated in the back of a Yakima police car was sentenced to 30 days in jail Tuesday.

Danielle Jo McRae, 25, of Yakima received one hour of credit for her guilty plea in Yakima County Superior Court to a felony charge of first-degree reckless burning.

The incident occurred Nov. 3, 2010, in the 1700 block of Summitview Avenue, across the street from Roosevelt Elementary School.

While investigating reports of a woman being chased by a man with a knife, officers contacted McRae and put her in the back of a patrol car while the search was under way.

A detective at the scene saw smoke coming from the unit and dragged McRae out. She apparently started the fire by lighting an article of her clothing with a cigarette lighter.

McRae spent two days at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. Police said she suffered smoke inhalation.

It was unclear why she started the fire. Police said she was patted down for weapons, but the lighter had not been seized because she was not under arrest.

In exchange for her plea, prosecutors dismissed a charge of first- degree malicious mischief. Copyright 2012 Yakima Herald Republic

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Ransomware prevents Windows from starting

A new ransomware variant prevents infected computers from loading Windows by replacing their master boot record (MBR) and displays a message asking users for money, according to security researchers from Trend Micro.

“Based on our analysis, this malware copies the original MBR and overwrites it with its own malicious code,” said Cris Pantanilla, a threat response engineer at Trend Micro, in a blog post. “Right after performing this routine, it automatically restarts the system for the infection take effect.”

The MBR is a piece of code that resides in the first sectors of the hard drive and starts the boot loader. The boot loader then loads the OS.

Instead of starting the Windows boot loader, the rogue MBR installed by the new ransomware displays a message that asks users to deposit a sum of money into a particular account via an online payment service called QIWI, in order to receive an unlock code for their computers.

“This code will supposedly resume operating system to load and remove the infection,” Pantanilla said. “When the unlock code is used, the MBR routine is removed.”

As the name implies, ransomware applications hold something belonging to the victim in ransom until they pay a sum of money. This type of malware is considered the next step in the evolution of scareware, malicious programs that scare users into paying money.

The majority of ransomware applications disable important system functionality or encrypt documents and pictures, but this is the first ransomware program that Trend Micro researchers have seen replacing the MBR to prevent the system from starting.

This represents a serious escalation in ransomware techniques. While users can still run security tools to clean their systems of traditional ransomware applications and even recover some files, if Windows doesn’t start at all, like in this case, the remediation procedure becomes much more difficult.

Repairing the MBR is no trivial matter and usually requires booting from the Windows installation disk, getting into the recovery command console and typing special commands.

Ransomware infections are typically more common throughout Eastern Europe and South America, but this type of malware is slowly gaining traction in other regions of the world as well. Some variants that impersonate law enforcement agencies and ask victims to pay fictitious fines have recently been detected in Western Europe.

“Though overshadowed by other more newsworthy threats, ransomware attacks are definitely not out of picture. In fact, this threat appears to be flourishing, as evidenced by the growth of ransomware infections in other parts of Europe,” Pantanilla said.

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ProtectMyID: #FTCSentinel research found that email contact is the starting point for most fraud. Over 40% of #fraud cases reported in 2011 began with…

ProtectMyID: #FTCSentinel research found that email contact is the starting point for most fraud. Over 40% of #fraud cases reported in 2011 began with…

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Kids starting to come clean

When I’m not fretting about the inhumane treatment of the Bacon brothers by our prison system, or marvelling at how the provincial government can blow more than $458 million (with an emphasis on the “more than”) on a retractable roof for BC Place — a stadium so crappy it made Seattle’s old Kingdome seem homey — I’m pondering the state of children in our society.

Specifically, how our children have changed from when I was a child back in the 1970s, a time when kids knew what a “sweathog” was, as well as all the responses Fonzie had for each situation he faced.

It was a simpler time then. Kids generally would come home from school and go outside and play for a few hours without their parents fearing they would be kidnapped — or better yet, without having to schedule a single activity. Imagine that, parents just let the kids figure out what to do on their own instead of scheduling their every move.

That’s just one difference I’ve noticed about parents and kids. Here are a few others…

- Kids seem to like to be clean — The other day, I went into a local shopping mall with a couple of kids and noticed that the first thing they did was go to the machine that doled out the hand sanitizer. And when I say “go” I mean scream “Hey, it’s hand sanitizer” and run to the machine as fast as they could. The kids actually seem excited about the stuff, even though it smells about as appealing as that first minute after you walk into a hospital. I don’t know if kids dousing themselves in Purell is making a big difference in their overall health, but it seems a lot easier to get kids to wash their hands than it used to be. And kids seem to know why it’s important to sneeze into their elbow sleeves, even if some are getting a little too freaked out about the H1N1 flu virus. All I know is my mom was thrilled if I took a bath once a week when I was a kid. I was filthy. I loved playing in the mud. I used my arm as a Kleenex box. I made Pig Pen from Peanuts look like an OCD germaphobe.

- Parents want kids to use the phone more — The other day a parent complained to me her daughter spent too much time on the computer doing instant messaging or texting on her cell phone. This mom felt talking on the phone was a better way to communicate. I agreed. Talking on the phone — or better yet, face to face — is far better than this texting obsession, which I also believe is quickly destroying our youth’s writing skills. But isn’t it ironic that a parent actually WANTS her teen to talk on the phone? I can still remember my parents chewing me out for talking on the phone too long. (“You just saw her at school, what could you possibly still have to talk about?”) Oh how the tables have turned.

- Names are getting weird — It used to be that many people named their kids after a family member or some combination of the parents’ middle names. That still happens, but today it seems like some parents treat their kids like an accessory that is meant to be played with so they go out of their way to create some odd name. A friend of a friend of a friend named her kid Trydian because “nobody else will have that name.” Well, nobody has the name Xtieudnfoieorhwoeouierourecb either, but that doesn’t mean you have to do it. Other people have chosen common-sounding names, but given them strange spellings to ensure their kids will never have their names spelled correctly for the rest of their lives. The good news is that things are starting to swing the other way a bit. I ran into a family the other day that named their daughter Hazel, my grandmother’s name. Is it possible that a generation of Ethels and Berthas will be making a comeback?

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