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PayPal looks interesting. Today is tax day. More on ransomware. Tips on avoiding this scourge.

Tax day today. Don’t forget.

Pay them what you think you owe and apply for an extension. Pay them too much. it’s going to a good cause (?)

The Colonial Pipeline DID pay a ransom

It was around $5 million.

When I wrote my last blog, the story was Colonial wasn’t going to pay the ransom.

According to Bloomberg, they paid the $5 million quickly, And “once they received the payment, the hackers provided the operator with a decrypting tool to restore its disabled computer network. The tool was so slow that the company continued using its own backups to help restore the system, one of the people familiar with the company’s efforts said.”

Hackers are honest crooks, running a business. If they hadn’t delivered the decrypting tool, they wouldn’t have a business. Now everybody and their uncle’s business, hospital, police department, local government will get hacked. Easy to predict.

I continue reading this totally engrossing book:

Ransomware is far more profitable than robbing banks. If you’re in Russia, where most of the hackers are, you’ll never be caught. Hackers are encouraged there. And we can’t extradite them. Shucks!

The Washington Post has a piece on ransomware. Click here. Some paragraphs from the Wash Post:

+ “They’ve become the 21st century equivalent of countries that sheltered pirates,” said Daniel, the Obama White House cyber coordinator. “We have to impose diplomatic and economic consequences so they don’t see it as in their interest to harbor those criminals.”

+ Companies and organizations need to be encouraged to strengthen their defenses, experts say. Many are failing to deploy even basic best practices, such as requiring multifactor authentication for employees logging onto systems, patching vulnerabilities promptly, segmenting networks, keeping backups off line and testing them periodically to ensure they work.

+ One way companies and law enforcement can team up to thwart extortionists is by quickly identifying midpoint servers used by the hackers to “stage” or store data after it’s siphoned from a company but before it’s sent to the hackers’ server. That happened in the case of Colonial Pipeline, when a cloud provider in New York shut down a server containing data stolen from the firm. The provider had been notified by Mandiant, the company helping Colonial investigate the attack. The move prevented the hackers from collecting the data, which could have been used as part of the extortion effort.

+ U.S. Corporations, government departments, and hospitals need to have an adequate budget for their IT department to not just install and replace computers and software, but also have some IT employees entirely dedicated to hacking protection and backup, security-updates, and telling the rest of the employees what “good practice” is.  Then, management needs to tell all employees that when the IT department asks you to take extra time to follow good practices, that’s “part of your job”, as expected by your manager.

PayPal is a gem

It’s much easier to buy online using PayPal. They have my credit card, my shipping and billing addresses — all the stuff I need to buy something. Saves huge time. They have earnings — growing, too — and sales — growing, too.

It sports a P/E ratio of 55 — not cheap. Sadly.

But the chart looks “interesting.”

Clearly, in line with my new “logic” I should have sold PayPal when it went parabolic in mid-February when it reached $309.

Now it’s 20% cheaper, it could be worth buying.

I’m writing this on Sunday night, having spent much of the weekend (between tennis) eyeing stocks for “buys.”

Without much success.

The home building and expansion biz is exploding. So, why not LOW and HD? Guess which one did better in the last year? LOW is blue. HD is brown.

It’s 15 years since we built our country house

Here are a few things we learned:

+ We need a database of all the products — make and model number — that were installed and the firms and the people who installed them. Things will break, need fixing, need replacing, etc. Without a database you’ll waste countless hours. which is what I’m doing.

+ Fancy electronics will break, become obsolete or will never work. And you’ll never find spare parts. Simple is better for the long-term. I prefer on-off switches.

+ Electricians are the worst. I have nine light fixtures that don’t work because no one can find the switch — if there is one. We think the electrician simply “forgot” them. We have no idea where the wiring is, or even if it exists.

+ Don’t install ceiling high hats  along the side of the room. Especially if you need light in the middle of the room. Dah!

+ Find a place on your ground floor for your Internet stuff. This is what we have in our basement for our one gig fiber. It shouldn’t be there. It be upstairs in a closet, closer to our phones and computers. Every foot from our computers and phones loses us speed.

Ventilation is  now the big Covid obsession

+ Keep your windows open. Sit next to one.

+ Blow air with a fan.

+ Keep air moving.

The Rome Tennis Finals

Raffa (34) squeaked over Djoko (33). Raffa is fighting his antiquity with heavy 2 ½ hour a day strength training. Djoko spends more time on the court, less in the gym. Both eat very little.

My problem is extended antiquity. I’m 44 years old than Raffa. I can’t run fast enough. Hence I’m often scrambling. That messes up my return. I concentrate on guile, drop shots and flukes.

I fantasize about playing like Raffa, Djoko or Roger. My tennis fantasy world is more engrossing than drugs or booze. At least to me.

Raffa has won about $125 million. Djoko has won about $145 million. A lot better than a slap in the belly with a cold fish.

My friends are starting their six and seven yearolds. Good way to pay for college.

The joy of Spring’s flowering trees

We planted this tree long, long ago.

Here’s a closeup of its gorgeous white flowers.

See you tomorrow. Harry Newton