Sean\’s Sicily

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ISC2 CSSLP Certifiation – Undecided!

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Another email from ICS2 today about their new CSSLP certification.  The email neglects to mention that the cert costs $650 .  And honestly, having a CISSP hasn’t made much difference to me, but then I haven’t been working in the security area for a while.  Most ads which mention the CISSP seem to be for network engineers, like the CISSP is proof that I know how to use a firewall…

Anyway I don’t think I’ll be going for this cert, even though I meet the requirements.  $650 is just too much to swallow when I already have issues with ISC2 and how American-centric they are.  What exactly do I get in return for my annual subscription and slaving over CPEs?  Not a lot, actually.  The ISSA Ireland branch is much more productive.
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Written by seancasaidhe

March 4, 2009 at 10:32 am

Posted in Internet, Work

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Originally uploaded by sean.casaidhe

Spending a lot of time trying to get the olives in before the roads become impassible. For reasons beyond my ken, Ignazio didn’t get around to organising it for November, the usual time, so now it’s already the New Year and the harvest still isn’t finished.

I’ve been riding shotgun with Sergio up and down the mountains, and one of the things I’m learning is that it’s amazing how little I knew about 4WD vehicles. Starting with “what do 4L and 4H mean anyway?”

For example, it’s incredible how far one can get in 2WD. I always naturally assumed that as soon as one got off the paved road, we’d switch straightaway to 4WD, but that’s not the case at all.

For one thing, 4WD drinks diesel, and even though it’s quite cheap right now, saving fuel is always a good thing.

So Sergio gets quite far on the unpaved road before switching. Somedays, he gets all the way to the farm, before throwing in 4H to make the last 50 meters offroad. Yesterday, for instance, he climbed a good few hundred meters before the hard track became washed out, and only then did he kick in 4H. He made another few kilometers like that until the wheels started slipping in deep mud, and then he switched down to 4L.

Of course, he could have switched to 4L beforehand, but 4L is designed for Low Speed, as a means of getting all the engine power to the wheels without losing traction, so it’d take forever to get anywhere. Thus he uses 4H (4WD-High Speed) to get power to all 4 wheels without loosing the speed.

As soon as we got out of the deep mud, he switched right back to 4H again.

Today, he had to kick in the 4H as soon as we got off the road, because the laste few days have seen a lot of rain. We had one hairy moment when we got stuck trying to get over a rocky bump on the edge of a mud-hole, but changing to 4L and backing up a few meters got us enough momemtum and traction to climb over it.

The next thing I learned is that after crawling through deep mud, when one gets back to the main road, one has to clean the sticky, clinging mud off the brake disks, axle bearings etc. and even then, the bloody fourbie vibrates like crazy because the weight of the mud is throwing the drive train out of balance (or something).

Still, I think I looked cool in my mucky combats cleaning the mud out of the wheels of a filthy 4×4. I looked like I was on a trip across Africa, or something. Or else I just looked very silly.

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Written by seancasaidhe

January 3, 2009 at 11:46 am

It is a disaster!

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After two years in Sicily, I finally decided to use the opportunity afforded by moving to Catania to sort myself out document-wise with the Italian authorities.  ‘Cos I don’t work here in Sicily, I don’t pay tax, don’t need a bank account, etc. etc.  I don’t claim social security, I have my own (Irish) health insurance, so there’s nothing I need from the state, and thus there’s no reason to deal with it.

Except for driving.  OK, it’s a pain not driving here, because Sonia or her sister have to do all the driving, and it’s about time I got behind the wheel, but for that I need a licence, and for that, obviously, I need to be resident.

So here we are in Catania, need to get sorted anyway for getting married, so let’s sort out this residency thing once and for all, how hard can it be, I’m Irish.

So I pop down to the commune this morning before work – except that the commune won’t be open until 10:00 because they did pest control the place on Friday, left it locked up all weekend, and now the stench of the pesticides has made the offices unbearable.  So they’ve opened all the windows and put back opening-hour until 10am.

OK, we grab a coffee and wait.  And wait.  Around rolls 10am.  The guy shows up promptly and we’re first in the queue.

The alarms bells start like this – “Oh, he’s Irish… is Ireland in the EU?”

Is Ireland in the EU???  WTF?  Uh, yep.

“OK, he’ll need to show €5,000 to prove self-sufficiency and health insurance.”

No problem, I can get that together in no time.  So just need a statement from my Irish bank?

“No no, needs to be in an Italian bank – we’re in Italy here you know!”

So I’ll just deposit the money in Sonia’s account.

“No no, needs to be YOUR bank account as you’re not related to her.”

So I need to open an Italian bank account?  For which I need a codice fiscale?

“I don’t know.”

No of course not, he doesn’t work in a bank – however, he is presumably Italian and presumably does have a bank account and presumably could say, in general, if in general one needs a codice fiscale for a bank account.  But that’s not his “competency” so he won’t offer any opinion on the matter.  Lascia stare, as they say.

But I need a codice fiscale for an account.  And I need residency to get a codice fiscale?

Again, no opinion.

So here’s the catch-22 – to get residency, I need to have €5k in an Italian bank account in my name, for which I need a codice-fiscale, for which I need residency…

OK, let’s go and talk to the people at the Questura, the police headquarters, who deal with immigration matters.

“He’s Irish?  Is Ireland in the EU?”

After reassuring the sceptical cops that Ireland is in fact a fully-paid-up member of the EU, and not some African backwater, they assure me that if I’m in the EU I have the complete right to live wherever the hell I want and stop bothering them, can’t I see that there’s a huge queue of people who actually need to register?

I decide that no-one has a clue what the hell they’re talking about (a common theme in bureaucracies worldwide) and look up the info on the internet.

The EU directive on the right of residence for more than 3 months for “other EU citizins” dictates that one must have valid health insurance and be able to prove self sufficiency, stating expressly that no state is allowed to set a defined amount but much judge each application on it’s merits.

Which the Italians have intepreted as meaning €5,000, because obviously EU law only applies to Italy when it doesn’t let dirty unemployed furriners into the place.

So now that we’ve seen what the rules are, we’re gonna figure out who to circumvent them.

And for your information, when Sonia came to Ireland, the bureaucracy consisted of;
a) going to correct Social Services office
b) waiting 45 minutes
c) filling out a form
d) guy at counter says “Oh you’re Italian?  (checks list taped to window) OK for Italy I need to see a carte identita and a codice-fiscale.  OK… *photocopy whirr, stamp stamp scribble* all done you’ll get your PPS in about 3 days, max a week, if you don’t get it you can call this number and they’ll tell you what it is over the phone.  NEXT!”

And I thought THAT was painful! :*

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Back at work

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Back at work after a  few days (well, 10 really) and it’s really hard to get back into the working-mode.  Getting distracted by just about everything, which is the downside of working remotely.  Even though I’m in an office environment, I don’t have the stimulus of my collegues to keep me focused and on-track.

Catching up with my email after all that time away from a computer – Dell have told me they’ll have to replace the motherboard of my laptop ‘cos the charger isn’t recognised, but they can’t do it from Ireland so I have to contact Dell Italy, which should be fun.  It was charging fine last night while I was orgnising photos in Lightroom, so I think it’s the AC Adaptor, or the cord coming from it, which is probably suffering after being wrapped around the A/C block for two years.

Apart from that, Owen has mentioned changes to ISSA Ireland membership – for one thing, the fees will be cheaper, which is good, and then there’s gonna be some sort of online forum.  I really miss being involved in security work and that whole scene back in Ireland 😦

My friend Erika has landed a big contract with a hotel here in Palermo, which I’m really happy about – congratulations!

And finally – it’s raining!

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Written by seancasaidhe

September 24, 2008 at 8:58 am

Posted in Ireland, Sicily, Work

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What a crazy few weeks!

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Been a while since I wrote anything in here as it’s been a mad few
weeks. I’ve been in Dublin every week for a few days, working with a
client to deliver a new system for managing the back-office procedures.
Every Sunday, Sonia dropped me off at the airport in Palermo to catch
the 9pm flight to Stanstead, where I would find a quiet niche to get
some sleep in my bag, before waking up at 4am to get through security
while it was still quiet, and then catch some more sleep on a bench
airside, before finding the gate and waiting for the flight.
Once I
got to Dublin, I’d get the bus into town, head into work, get a shower,
shave, and change into the obligatory suit, and head off the the
client’s offices for a full days’ work. At least the client gave me a
voucher to eat in their canteen – man I haven’t had that many roast
dinners in 1 week since leaving EuroConex, where trips to the Silver
Tassie were an almost daily occurrance at times.

Then on
Thursday it was the 9pm flight back to Stanstead, another overnighter,
another early-morning flight, this time back to Palermo, then straight
into work with the inevitable hung-over post-Ryanair feeling.

as soon at 18:30 rolled around, it was into the car and off to
Marzamemi to relax and recharge!

Anyway, back in Sicily now so here’s hoping everything returns to normal.

Written by seancasaidhe

July 5, 2008 at 9:14 pm

Posted in Work

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Work-Life Balance

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Working on a Sunday on a Bank Holiday weekend. That sucks, right?
Well it should do – but it doesn’t. That’s largely because I’m working over VPN and Remote Desktopping on a virtual PC hosted in the Dublin office! But what’s new? That’s my daily grind.

Piazza Marzamemi

Well, I’m not in the office, I’m in Marzamemi.

No, not here! I’m sitting in the cortile at the back of Sonia’s house. We’ve cleaned up all the weeds and set up a little table for my laptop, and here I am, shaded by a big fig tree and my biggest worries are the slow connection, the bloody mosquitoes, and how much food Ignazio is going to try to stuff me with at lunch!

Sonia has a post about how fantastic Marzamemi used to be when she was young, and how the old house is getting a bit run-down, with no-one in it from one end of the year to the next. We spent all of Saturday cleaning it up (the downstairs at least, the upstairs belongs to her uncle). Ignazio had to get a couple of guys in during the week to repair some of the walls due to salt damp, as Marzamemi is below sea level and the old houses here are built of some sort of sandy-concrete concoction. Then her parents arrived with Erika and a couple of new mattresses for the beds, and so this morning I’m free to get on with some work that’s waiting for me in Dublin.

That’s what I call a work-life balance!

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Written by seancasaidhe

June 3, 2008 at 7:56 am

HLDRRR Infection

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Erika got infected with HLDRRR the other day – fortunately she’s just bought a brand new Asus M50SA which she has been able to use, because getting rid of this rootkit is a freaking nightmare.

Reading the internet I see that a lot of people don’t understand exactly what a rootkit is, and are surprised when Task Manager etc. can’t find it, or can’t stop it.

Folks, when you have a rootkit, you cannot TRUST your system anymore! The only solution is to boot from a external read-only source (such as a live-cd or a read-only USB key) and track down where the rootkit has installed itself. The good news is, the rootkit has to be in your registry somewhere, and usually you can find out where it is by checking on the internet.

First let’s describe some symptoms;

  • Anti-Virus gets turned off and/or deleted and/or uninstalled
  • Firewall meets the same fate
  • You may get the blue screen of death if the rootkit crashes some vital Windows processe to insert itself into them.

Got that? Now you’re infected. Here’s how to check;

  • Internet or network connection crashes or slows right down
    • That’s because you are now the proud host of a rooted box, and it’s using all your bandwidth to download malware and porn…
  • Computer seems really busy but there’s no obvious processes in task manager eating up all your CPU
    • That’s because it’s busy hiding all that malware and porn, or cracking your passwords files…
  • Can’t boot into Safe Mood
    • That’s because if you could boot into Safe Mood, you could stop the rootkit from running and uninstall it…

Here’s what NOT TO DO;

  • Ignore the issue… because it WON’T go away.
  • Start using internet banking… because you can kiss your money goodbye.

Here’s what to do, if you have gotten HLDRRR;

  • Delete Megadrv3 device (follow instructions from Alireza Peyman).
  • Log out straight away.
  • On another computer, research, research, research. These things change all the time
  • Get someone else to download BART PE and create a Live CD
  • Reboot your computer with the CD in the drive
  • Delete everything in [windows]\system32\drivers\down.
  • Browse your system and delete everything in every Temp directory, which includes Temporary Internet Files
  • No, really, find every Temp/Temporary/Temporary Internet Files directory, and delete everything
  • Delete [windows]\system32\hldrrr.exe
  • Create a new empty read-only file called hldrrr.exe
  • Delete [windows]\system32\hidr.exe
  • Create a new empty read-only file called hidr.exe
  • Delete [windows]\system32\srosa.sys
  • Create a new empty read-only file called srosa.sys
  • Delete [windows]\syystem32… etc. etc.
  • Create a new… etc. etc.
  • Delete anything else that the internet suggests, if you can find it (mdelk.exe, wintems.exe, but the names change frequently!)
  • Load up your registry (follow the instructions)
  • Find all references to hldrrr and delete them
  • Find all references to hidr and delete them
  • Find all references to srosa.sys and delete them
  • Find all references to… (get the picture yet?)
  • Unload your registry
  • Remove the disk and reboot.
  • Check if the Megadriv3 device is still uninstalled.
  • Check if the empty,read-only files you created above are still visible and are still 0kb.

You may, or you may not, have gotten rid of this infection.

See my next post for what to do if you just want to give up, but want to save all your files!


Written by seancasaidhe

May 23, 2008 at 7:57 am

Posted in Work

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