Security Alert News Reporter   

        August 2004               LANGHORNE, PENNSYLVANIA, USA                Volume 1, Issue 04
Help! I think we have a Virus.

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Here's your "Security Alert News Reporter" for August,  2004
    The "NewsReporter" is published to keep you up-to-date on the latest
     information we gather for avoiding and surviving the hectic hacker attacks
     on your computer security and personal identity that take place constantly
     on the internet. Many of our comments are based on personal experiences.
            Protecting your safety, security, and privacy is not a simple task.
                We are trying to make it a bit easier for you to accomplish.

Latest Virus Threats  reported August 22, 2004 by McAfee:

Full descriptions including virus characteristics, symptoms, aliases and removal instructions are available by clicking on each of these two links:

Another new and potentially dangerous trend, one that appears to be the joining of forces of virus writers and spammers, has been reported by the Security Group 'MessageLabs', of New York. MessageLabs scans more than 50 million customer emails daily for their clients.

They found that 1 in 12 of these emails contained some type of virus that could penetrate the firewalls that were designed to stop them.

The results of this collaboration will be seen in much more sophisticated viruses attached or hidden in emails by spammers. Because there is so much more Free spam blocking software available, spammers are hiring virus writers to write viruses that attach to email messages and elude the spam blockers.

What does this mean to all of us ordinary internet users?

It certainly emphasizes the vital importance of maintaining our computer operating systems, browser programs, firewall and anti-virus software with the latest patches available. Ignoring update notices that come from Microsoft, McAfee, Symantec, etc., is just downright foolish.

Consider these statistics compiled by the Internet Storm Center (ISC):

   "on average, an unpatched Windows PC connected to the internet
    will last for about 20 minutes before it is compromised by malicious
    software (commonly called "malware")

The software scanning robots (bots) can scan anywhere from tens of thousands to millions of internet address every day, looking for open vulnerabilities.

The flood of Spam on the internet and the spread of virus infected email is at or near epidemic proportions.

What can we, the ordinary internet users do about it?

We can all help by spreading the word that the internet is not getting safer -- that the virus creators are becoming more vicious -- and that our personal security and survival is becoming more endangered every time a new virus is released.

As individuals, we must be vigilant, adhere to all of the safe practices, and above all, we must have firewalls, anti-virus and malware detection software on our computers that is always kept up-to-date.

If you use MS Windows and Internet Explorer, be certain to take advantage of the free Microsoft Update Service available for your Windows operating systems. Since Internet Explorer holds a nearly 90 percent level of use among all Windows users, it is a gigantic, and easy target for the virus writers of the world. Those downloadable patches from Microsoft are absolutely essential as a part of your internet security protection plan.

And to help your family, friends and associates avoid the rampant spread of 'virus grief' -- direct them to newsletters and websites like this, where the primary goal is to help our readers and visitors maintain safe and secure computer systems without the threat of identity theft, loss of valuable data, and personal compromises.

With that said, have you checked your computer for viruses over the past few days?  Do you have an up-to-date anti-virus scanner?

If you haven't updated and haven't been infected by any of the MyDoom variations or Sasser yet, you're lucky. Update now. Try the FREE scanning and removal tool available on the Firewalls and Virus Protection website at STINGER. It also checks for more than 40  other active viruses and worms

Look for the STINGER Icon



Please, If you get nothing else from our NewsReporter, we hope that you take heed of the importance of keeping your security shields up to date!

Simply put -- Every Online Computer needs
 ► Personal Firewall
 ► Spam Filtering
Antivirus protection
Spyware/Malware detection (Malware is malicious ware)

Without these, you face the possibility of really serious virus infestations that could cause loss of data, programs, records, and even worse, the need to completely wipe your hard drives and to reload your operating system.

Many authorities suggest replacing the Internet Explorer browser altogether -- a formidable and frightening task for the average person!

We'll discuss some of the alternatives to IE in future issues.

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Privacy Theft  - -     Hijacked !

In our last issue, we reported on the unpleasant experience we had with the CWS (Cool Web Search) hijacking worm.

It was just after clicking on a link for a special report offered in one of the more recent newsletters to which we subscribed, that a new browser window popped open with a very explicit pornographic site that would not delete. Each attempt to remove it opened more and more of these XXX pages, until finally, shutting down the computer was the only way to get rid of them.

Tip: You can often stop this madness by pressing the CONTROL + ALT + DELETE keys at the same time, then selecting the offending link in the dialog box that opens and using the End Task button to clear it.

And as we reported last month, these unwanted pages contained some trojan horses which planted the most insidious virus we have ever experienced - - that CWS hijacking worm.

       The CWS worm does a lot of really nasty stuff:

     ► It stopped our Internet Explorer from operating  properly,
     ► Our computer locked up time and time again and crashed
          for no apparent reason,
     ►  Browser links either disappeared or new ones showed up,
     ►  many other programs became unstable
►  and our computer slowed down to a crawl

If you experience similar problems with your computer, there's a good chance that CWS or some other hijacking worm has been planted on it. Be sure that your spysweeping software is up to date, as well as your Firewalls and anti-virus programs..

Our up-to-date virus scanning programs could not find the worm.

We tried our spy searching programs like AdAware
™, Spybot Search and Destroy™, SpyCop™, X-Cleaner™  and Spyware Sweeper™ . They did find various bugs, but removing those bugs did not cure the problem with the IE browser.

We got the most help after visiting  the site at <> where we learned more about the worm that Hijacked our computer and was wreaking havoc on the internet.

There are tools that will eventually clean CWS out of the machine: 'Hijack This
™' and 'CWSShredder™' are the ones we tried, and now we have learned that the creators of the CWS worm have reprogrammed it so that it disables even these tools and blocks access to updating them. With over 50 variations of the CWS worms, these malicious virus writers certainly seem to be playing hardball!

We have since tried other spy cleaning software and located one that actually found another CWS variant still buried in our computer registry.
XOFTSPY by Pareto Logic (LINK) found the CWS variant - CWS.mrhop

Among the more recent spy searching programs that we've tested are: NoAdware(LINK) and PAL Spyware Remover (LINK). It seems that each of these programs can detect certain bugs that the other programs miss. We have not yet found a single program that finds and destroys all of the bugs. (Each of these LINKS will take you to a page where you can get a FREE spyware scan of your computer, and seek out your hidden bugs).

We strongly urge you to visit It's loaded with powerful information and helpful advice that zeros in on the hijacking problem. If you are experiencing any similar problems, be sure to follow the link to their forum. There are literally thousands of postings from which you will learn and possibly find the advice that will help you resolve your own issues.
A Recent Review of HijackThis 8/20/04

If spyware is hiding out in your computer, but your adware-removal program can't track it down, you need HijackThis. The tiny program examines vulnerable or suspect parts of your system, such as browser helper objects and certain types of registry keys. Pressing the Scan button generates a log of dozens of items, most of which are just customizations, such as Google Toolbar. To learn more about an entry you don't recognize, you have options.

Clicking Info on selected item tells you why the entry was flagged as suspicious, but not whether it's actually malware. To find that out, you'll need to search the Web for that item's name or go straight to a forum such as SpywareInfo or Computer Cops.

Saving the log creates a text document you can post to these forums. The program installs into whatever directory in which you unzip the file, which can make it hard to locate.

Don't check off an item and hit the Fix checked button unless you're sure it's malware, though--you can do damage. HijackThis is a serious tool for any user who needs to root out a serious infestation, but wield it with caution.

You can download HijackThis from the Software link on the SpywareInfo website. Be sure to read and follow their instructions to the letter if you want good results.

We receive no compensation from SpywareInfo, but we do support their completely Free website, newsletter and software with a small financial contribution so that they can continue to provide this outstanding service to their thousands of appreciative followers, like us. If you have occasion to use it, would you consider doing the same?

Google and Yahoo searches will help you identify many of the terms that are unfamiliar to you when you use tools like HijackThis, CWS Shredder, and any of the other spyware scanning programs. These search engines are so advanced that they will even provide answers to searches you make as specific questions (Yes, that you end with a '?').
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Family Security  Check out the  Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website with its many publications relating to protecting the security of your family, both on the internet and off. They are FREE at their website.
Go to their pages covering Consumer (family) protection HERE

Reviews of Family Safe Sites



The Crayola website goes beyond being just for Kids with its sections for Parents and Educators, too. We wouldn't hesitate to send our children and grandchildren here for entertainment and education. Here's the LINK

PBS Kids is a respected and trusted site. We would not hesitate to send our children and grandchildren there for entertainment and education, either. Their Privacy Policy is very assuring. Families visiting the site can feel safe regarding potential threats to family privacy and their children's welfare. Jump to it from HERE <>

Our website has been Certified 'Family Safe' by the
Institute of Family Safe Businesses.

   We have posted some interesting discussions and helpful family related links on the 'Identity Theft' pages at the Firewalls-and-virus-protection website, including some very recent updates.

  If you are concerned for your own security and that of your family, we suggest a visit the 'Identity Theft' pages
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Publications  Here's a way you can help your family and friends:

We have repeated this announcement because of its popularity. We will continue to create similar reports that can be downloaded, printed and shared with friends and family for FREE.

 Many people using the internet wonder if their firewalls and virus protection are good enough to keep them safe. For those of you who have visited our Firewalls site, you know that the information there is directed toward keeping you safe from hacker and cracker attacks.

Because it isn't always convenient to share your computer with family and friends, we have excerpted some important chapters from our Firewalls site and created small downloadable reports that can easily be printed and distributed to the people you'd like to help avoid 'virus grief'.

Bookshelf and Special Report Alerts
   Is Your Firewalls and Virus Protection Safe Enough?
This report will help you identify viruses, prepare for attacks and infections and guide you in their removal. It's a 9 page, easy reading guide that covers the threats we all face in our daily use of the internet. It's a basic education in understanding and Avoiding Virus Grief

Down load it from this link (it's in PDF format):
The download includes a ReadMe page with instructions for unzipping and using your Acrobat Reader, and even a link to the Adobe website where you can get your own free Acrobat Reader if you don't already have one

Identity Theft


    Is a Keystroke Logger Being Used To Spy On You?
Many of the tools and tricks in use today to spy on your internet activities are exposed in this 7 page report. This look into spyware will alert you to the ease in which your identity  could be compromised, or stolen.

Open the report in a new webpage by clicking HERE  or here>
(No downloading necessary, and you can print it right from your browser window.)

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 Free Resources  There is really no reason for anyone not to have the latest Firewall, anti-virus, spam blocking, and spyware removal software installed on their computers. You can download all of these programs, and more, mostly for FREE, from our Firewalls-and-Virus-Protection website.

They're there for the taking. If you need to block Spam, check the links on the 'Spam and Spyware' page. Same thing for Cookie Crumbling tools, Spyware protection, etc.

    It seems as if many of these software designers and providers are trying to out-do each other with their Free software offers. Although these protective programs may be stripped down versions, they do work and no one should hesitate to download their trial or short term programs.

Most of them have a purchasable Up Grade option, and by trying the free versions, you can upgrade the ones that worked best for you.

    Start at the Firewalls page and check out each page, downloading what you need as you go through the whole site.

    The 'Articles and Reports' section has some recent interesting and helpful additions. We encourage you to visit it, too.

    Same thing for protective software. We add it whenever we find tools that will benefit our site visitors. It would be a good idea to bookmark and check back regularly so that you don't miss newly added items.

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Reviews (of the news).

GOOD NEWS! Windows Messenger spammer (D Squared Solutions) has agreed to stop sending Spam over Windows Messenger to avoid a lawsuit by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Unfortunately for them, (but good for all of us), one of the messages they sent through the Windows Messenger Service ended up on the monitor of an FTC official. The advertisement was for a product to stop the very advertisement being used to promote it

The FTC official decided that this was extortion and filed suit against the company.

D Squared now has agreed to stop using the Messenger Service to send advertisements, to stop selling messenger blocking programs and is barred from sending advertisements which customers can not opt out of.
And from another branch of our government:

Senator Patrick Leahy, (D. Vt) has introduced the Anti-Phishing Act of 2004. Phishing (which is pronounced fishing) is an exceedingly harmful kind of internet Identity Theft Scam.

It amounts to the use of fraudulent messages to internet users asking that they update or verify certain of their private information, such as credit card numbers, bank account PIN's, etc. These messages arrive with the appearance of official looking email, and often contain accurate information as to addresses and telephone numbers, etc.

The messages instruct the user to input up-to-date private and confidential information and send it back by clicking on a link or using the Reply feature of their email program. The perpetrator of the fraud then uses this information to compromise the users identity, steal from their bank accounts, run up massive credit card charges, and more.

Phishing could be punishable under a new law
If the bill is passed, it will make phishing a criminal act, punishable as a felony, subject to
5 years in prison and/or up to a fine of $250,000.

What can we do to protect ourselves from being hooked?

Be alert!
If you have any questions at all about the validity of messages requesting you to update private and confidential information, check with the REAL company that is being used to bait you.

Use the telephone, search out their real website address in Google or Yahoo, check your own records against the information displayed in the phony email, etc. and try to talk with a real person at the real company.
We were 'phished' recently with a 100 percent authentic looking email request supposedly from requesting that we send a payment to update our account balance. Because our balance was current, a telephone call was made to Earthlink where we learned that they had received many such calls.  Earthlink also asked that we send a copy of the fraudulent email to their Abuse address.

If you read the Articles on Phishing and Spoofing in the Articles and Reports section of our Firewalls and Virus Protection website, you can obtain a lot more information about how to avoid being hooked by the phishermen.

If you use Yahoo Mail, here's more Good News

Yahoo fixed two flaws in its free mail system that could have allowed a malicious user to read your browser cookies and change the appearance of some pages.

A representative of the company said the flaws were fixed last month by making changes on the company's Yahoo Mail servers. Yahoo fixed the flaws in its server code.

No patch is required by the Yahoo Mail users.
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  NewsReporter Reader's Questions  ??????????

       Send in your questions. There is no such thing as a stupid question. Some people are bashful about asking, but there are always many others who share the same question, and will benefit from the answers to yours.

              email your questions to us at

With your permission, we'll publish your questions and answers in forthcoming issues of the
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Sharing ? If you had the opportunity to help family members, associates, or friends by sharing any of the information in this News Reporter, please suggest that they subscribe for their own personal copy.

  They can subscribe here and we'll never share their information with third parties.                 

                              Read our Privacy Policy

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As promised in our first issue, we aren't going to stuff your mail box with un-ending mailings every day, week, or whatever. When there's some important news about the topics we've noted, we'll let you know, usually monthly.

To avoid unwanted and unnecessary filtering of our messages, we will send a very brief text email to you. It will have a link to this News Reporter and an un-subscribe link

The email subject line will identify the contents as "Latest Security Alert News Reporter - Issue ##" and the email "FROM" address will be "

Thank you again, for your interest and trust. We'll do our best to honor it.


Take part in our Computer Virus Awareness Campaign by Sharing this with a friend 

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More Bookshelf
Special Reports
Latest Virus threats
Privacy theft
Family security
Free resources  
Reader's Questions
Volume 1, Issue 01
Volume 1, Issue 02

Volume 1, Issue 03


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