Archive for the Category ◊ internet security ◊

I know my head is going to explode one of these days. I hate that I even feel compelled to say anything about the programs the government is trying to implement. I can only take so much without yelling, “STOP THE MADNESS!”

The Federal Government is launching a huge program called “Perfect Citizen” to detect assaults on private companies and government agencies with critical infrastructure such as the power grid and nuclear power plants.

On the surface that sounds great, keep us all safe and the Internet safe. Of course the government says this is an important program to protect the security of the Country.

But others, myself included, see this as a huge threat to privacy, and I can see it leading to things that would be just like tapping someone’s phone. Watching websites, email, any internet traffic in and out of your home. You name it, they are going to be able to watch over it.

Raytheon won a contract worth up to $100 million for the initial phase of the project, and they are not talking about this project. Funny thing the National Security Agency won’t talk about it either.

This is the third huge program the government is trying or has implement recently, and the others include Net Neutrality and the cyber security bill that gives the President the power to pull the switch on the Internet.

Regulation, after regulation, the government continues to chip away at the “Freedom” of the Internet. They want to control it, and they are going to do it at any cost, including our privacy and rights.

For my loyal readers, I apologize for these rants recently, but no one in Washington is listening to you and me, average citizens. We need less government intrusion, and more protecting our rights as citizens of the United States.

Here is a link to the Wall Street Journal article that has more of the story.

 

There was a hacking conference in Vancouver, Canada last week, and the contest was to see who could hack into Internet Explorer 8 on a laptop running Windows 7. Articles exclaimed that “Hackers exploit Windows 7 in 2 minutes!”.

This is true, but they failed to report that the hackers turned off security features in IE8. So, if you have a burglar alarm on your house, and disconnect it, because you just don’t worry about that kind of stuff, sure it would be easier to get into your house.

If you turn off your Internet security software or disable security features in IE8, sure, it is not going to be as secure as it could be, and it can be vulnerable to attack.

Another thing the article did not mention, is some of the other hacking contests and other Browsers that got hacked.

Here is a news flash you won’t read everywhere, at the same conference a fully updated MAC running a fully patched OS X, was hacked, yes a MAC!!! So the supposed bullet proof MAC and Safari browser can be hacked too.

On another note, The German government issued a warning to citizens in March telling them that FireFox had a critical vulnerability, and they should stop using it.

Back at the conference, the winner of the most secure browser, Chrome by Google, it had been patched for 11 vulnerabilities a few days before the contest. That means there were holes or security issues with Chrome, the best one.

Internet Explorer 8 is secure, and when properly set up (usually with default security settings, a good Antivirus program, and Windows updates current, there should not be security problems.

Any browser is going to fail you if you do not update it with security updates, and if you disable important security features that are there to protect you.

I personally like IE8, and I know people who swear by FireFox or even Chrome. I say use what you like, but honestly, they are all targets for hackers, and it is up to you to make sure your security is on, and your updates are performed to keep your security up to date.

Kids Website being used by Identity Thiefs
Friday, July 10th, 2009 | Author:

Neopets is a website for kids where they can adopt these “cyber-pets” which I guess is a cool thing if you are a kid. You take care of it and it grows and does stuff. Most of the kids are between 8 and 12 years old, but some are as young as 6. There are over 25 million users on this site!
Media giant Viacom (MTV) owns the site where hackers have taken advantage of kids to steal identities. They send the kids an an email or message telling them there is a secret site where they can get a magic paint brush to change their pet and not cost them points.
The kids go to the secret site and never get the magic paintbrush. The scam site works by getting mom and dads important information off the computer.
This is a good (or bad) example of Malware. This is the stuff I have mentioned in many of my blogs and on KGAL’s Tech Talk. This bad stuff gets loaded on the computer when the kids go to the infected “secret” web site.
This is another great example where parents have to be vigilant in watching what their kids do on the Internet. It is also a great case for having up to date Internet Security/Anti Virus software and making sure it is constantly being updated with the latest definitions.
You know if a huge money making company like Viacom and MTV are doing something free for kids, you can be assured that there is some marketing ploy behind the whole thing anyway.
As an old Sergeant used to say on Hill Street Blues, “Hey, let’s be careful out there!”
Sneaky Viruses Hidden in Ads and Web Pages
Friday, June 19th, 2009 | Author:
Almost every customer that comes into the office with a virus infected computer asks how does it happen. It used to be so easy to explain. Well you are going to “those” sites, or you are illegally downloading music, or even opened an email that said, “you have won $1,000,000 or whatever the cause was.
Not so any longer. Those things are still around, but now the age of embedded viruses in regular ol mainstream websites. Hackers get into websites and can put viruses right on the webpage, and it can load onto your computer. Some ads recently have even been found to contain viruses.

Here is a recent article

Remember it is important to keep current Anti-virus software on your computer and make sure it is doing a weekly scan, and that it is scanning your email and internet usage. Using IE-8 is not a bad idea. I have gotten past the newness and problems it originally had, but there are some really good security features in it.

Also, be careful of what you search for, and when you go there, be careful of the domain you are going to. The domain is the last part before the .com or .net or whatever the website is.

For example, if you are looking for www.ford .com the ford.com is the domain. Sometimes the link will look like

www.customerservice.ford.joeblow.com

If you see a link like that, the actual domain is joeblow.com, the last letters between the dots. It looks like ford, because ford is in the name. But the important part of the website address is the .com and the letters preceding that. None of the other parts of that website matter, and it is definitely not a ford motor company website.

In this screen shot of IE-8, notice how the domain is in bold, and since it is a secure site, the lock is showing and it is telling you it is the verified BofA site.

Be careful on what sites you go to. Take an extra couple seconds to look up at the address bar and see what domain you are really on. Some of the internet browsers, IE8, Firefox, have the domain highlighted now so you can tell right where you are at.

Also, when you do searches on things, the hackers go out and find what searches are the most popular. Jo-lo, Lindsey Lohan, Obama, whatever is being searched for.

They will put up bogus webpage’s that will go to the top of the search engine, and they are infected sites.

Here is an article with more on this.

Microsoft & Security Software – Another Gilligan’s Rerun
Saturday, February 21st, 2009 | Author:

Microsoft Drops Live OneCare Security product and will offer new free version of some new revamped security software. This is like seeing a rerun of Gilligan’s Island for the 15th time.

Like Gilligan’s Island, this is funny, predictable, entertaining, and always a catastrophe brewing. But the software is not really going to help keep your PC secure. Microsoft has tried to make Antivirus security programs for many years now, and each time, they have failed.

They have tried the free version, the pay version and the part free, part pay version, since back in the early 90’s. They all have been lousy programs that do not protect your computer well.

I have been a strong advocate against Window’s Live OneCare for a long time now, and Microsoft has announced that they are dropping the retail security software in June of this year.

The not surprising news is that they are coming out with a free program code named “Morro”. Microsoft has hired a guy from McAfee to oversee their Security Research & Response Team.

Microsoft has bought out many little Antivirus security companies that made good software, and then ran the products into the ground only to end up with watered-down, poor software.

I would strongly suggest not using this free product when it becomes widely available. It will be cheap and appealing to save a few bucks. However, as the old saying goes, “You get what you pay for!”

Remember, with Internet security, you pay $35-$60 a year, which is about $3-$5 a month, for peace of mind, safety, and keeping your computer and information protected. That is not a bad investment.

I still stand by Trend Micro Internet Security. Trend by the way, did not get the best review from PC World recently. The problem with the PC World review is that there is no comparison or discussion about how well the product performs. How easy is it to uninstall or troubleshoot a problem you might have? How easy is it for the average user to understand and use? How much does the program slow down the computer, and how much memory do you really need to run it?
Another issue I see is that PC World accepts advertising, and oddly enough there is not a lot of Trend Micro advertising in that magazine.

With the computers that come in the shop, I see fewer problems with Trend. I have tried them all, and sold both McAfee and Norton/Symantec, and I still feel Trend is one of the best products available, with everything considered. I have run AVG Free, F-Secure, Kaspersky, Panda, and they all have issues. There is no perfect product out there, but I do still highly recommend Trend.

Internet Security Tips

Whatever program you use for Internet Security, make you do the following:

  • Have good, current version of a paid-up Anti-virus/Internet Security program
  • Have it turned on and receiving automatic updates of the virus definitions
  • Have it set to automatically perform a full scan of the computer weekly
  • Make sure your Microsoft Windows updates are turned on (you can find the settings in Control Panel>Automatic Updates)

Here is a good article on the new Microsoft Free Antivirus that is coming soon: