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|Here's your "Security Alert News Reporter"
for October, 2004
is published to keep you up-to-date on the latest
gather for avoiding and surviving the hectic hacker attacks
on your computer
security and personal identity that take place constantly
internet. Many of our comments are based on personal experiences.
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
October 30, 2004 by McAfee:
Full descriptions including virus characteristics, symptoms, aliases
and removal instructions are available by clicking on the
link. This virus alert is in addition to those posted in previous
month's News Reporter
In addition to the 70,000 some viruses on the internet, there are
presently over 10,000 spyware programs reported to be lurking there,
too. They can view your passwords, account numbers, instant messaging
logs, emails and more.
You may wonder why your anti-virus programs don't stop them.
Technically, most of these spyware (unsolicited commercial
software) programs aren't viral. They don't spread from computer to
computer, they simply install and run on one system.
That doesnt mean they're not harmful, but anti-virus software does
not attempt to detect all software that could be harmful. Spyware and
that install using IE security holes are more likely to be targeted by
the anti-virus software vendors, but the selection of targets seems
for the most part to be pretty arbitrary
What does this mean to all of us ordinary internet users?
It certainly re-emphasizes the vital importance of maintaining our
computer operating systems, browser programs, firewall, anti-virus and
spyware cleaning software with the latest patches available. Ignoring update notices
that come from Microsoft, McAfee, Symantec, etc., is just downright
Sounds quite basic, doesn't it? But many internet users aren't fully
aware of the seriousness of the threats and don't become aware of them
until they lose the use of their computers, or worse, their privacy...
...and that's the purpose of the Security Alert News reporter. It is the
main thrust of our
Computer Virus Awareness Campaign
The National Cyber Security Alliance
tagged October as the month of computer safety awareness. We are
trying to make Every Day of Every Month an Awareness Day. You can
easily participate by helping your less aware family members, friends
and associates prepare for the threats that are becoming more and more
90 percent of U.S. home computers may have been infected with spyware
at some time, but the majority of PC owners don't know how to solve
These findings were recently reported by the newly formed Consumer
Spyware Initiative, a joint effort by Dell Computer and the
nonprofit Internet Education Foundation that aims to increase
awareness of spyware.
The new initiative hopes to reach 63 million American Internet users
over the next year to show them how to identify and eliminate spyware
education is our best counterintelligence against the threat of
Where to start?
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.
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.
Here's our usual reminder that you can download a free virus checking
and removal tool at the Firewalls and Virus Protection site.
STINGER checks and removes viruses already in your computer. If
you don't have an online anti-virus program yet, I suggest you use
STINGER until you do....Richard
MyDoom, Bagel and Netsky variations
are becoming more difficult to avoid. Try
the FREE scanning and removal tools available on the Firewalls and
Virus Protection website at
STINGER. It finds and removes
about 45 other active viruses and worms. Download the October
29, 2004 update.
Look for the STINGER Icon
More about Web Browsers.
In the last issue, we commented on our experience with a variety
of web browsers. After our IE hijacking experience, we
looked at a few other browsers that might be less targeted by
hackers and crackers.
Many of the Internet Editorialists and Pundits were
promoting a switch over to FireFox from Internet
Explorer, so we tried it. It worked fine and rendered web
pages very much like IE does. However, we are being cautious in making such a
complete, no return change
and suggest the same approach for our friends. If you use AOL,
Netscape, Opera, Safari (Mac), or others and you aren't
experiencing any problems, and your security tools are
up-to-date, think twice before making the change.
America Online just announced (October 2004) it will
bundle McAfee antivirus software for free into its proprietary
service and no longer charge a subscription for it. AOL will
offer the software, McAfee VirusScan Online, as part of AOL
9.0 Security Edition, debuting in November. AOL said
the McAfee product can scan for and remove harmful viruses
delivered via peer-to-peer software, Web downloads, CD-ROMs and
media files, to name a few.
We find the AOL browser to be quite satisfactory, and
look forward to it's added security. We already use McAfee
VirusScan Online, which automatically updates with each new
release by McAfee.
Be on the alert for some
major phishing expeditions!
It appears that there is a major effort
by online thieves to destroy Earthlink.net's creditability and use
them as a source for stealing the identity, passwords, credit card and
banking information of their many subscribers.
During the month of October, we were 'phished' once or twice a week
for our earthlink.net account details, including credit card numbers,
banking details, and personal information like birthdates.
The frightening part of all of this is that the requests were so well
done that it was nearly impossible to tell them from official
inquiries from Earthlink.net.
We didn't bite or take the bait because no legitimate business is
going to ask you to confirm these details in an email request.
To their credit, Earthlink.net has just released a complete expose of
these incidents with well presented copies of the messages being
employed by the thieves, instructions on avoidance , etc
We have to wonder how many unwary people may have been compromised,
and trapped into divulging their personal and private financial
Refresh your knowledge
on Phishing and Spoofing at the Articles and Reports
pages of our website; Firewalls and Virus Protection
Help for the Hijacked !
Here's some good news: Intermut Company
has acquired the
CWSShredder program. It's been upgraded and it is still FREE.
In our last few issues, we reported on the
we had with the CWS (Cool Web Search) hijacking worm. It
hijacked our Internet Explorer browser and planted unwanted pages
with some trojan horses containing the most insidious virus we have
ever experienced -- the CWS worm. (You can read more of the details
and our efforts in removing the CWS.mrhop worm in the archived Issues).
If you are experiencing any of these nasty problems, you computer
could have one of the CWS hijacking varients hidden in it
► Internet Explorer
has stopped operating properly,
Your computer locks up time and time again and crashes
Browser links either disappear or new ones
many other programs became unstable
very undesirable (even pornographic) web
sites pop up unexpectedly
your computer has slowed down to a crawl
and a bunch more new problems plague your computer system
Even if you have only a few of these
symptoms, scanning your computer for hidden CWS variants is a good
move. Let CWSShredder find and remove these potential browser
it here for Free
CWShredder Version 2.0
Released: October 2004
What's New With CWShredder?
Originally developed by Merijn
Bellekom of the Netherlands, CWShredder is now owned and maintained
CWShredder has been updated to find and remove new CoolWebSearch
CWShredder Version 2.0 is the latest defense against the new
CoolWebSearch variants, and it is included in
Download a free trial and enjoy the best spyware protection
We learned about this program from the extraordinary website and
forums built and maintained by James Healan, webmaster of SpywareInfo.com.
We encourage you to visit
SpywareInfo.com/ 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.
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?
Our grandchildren range in age from 1 to 18 years. We don't want to
see them accidentally exposed to pornography, hate sites or other
undesirable images and messages so prevalent on the internet today.
We posted these links to help parents, grandparents and guardians
guide today's young internet surfers to safe sites. There are many
other website creators who feel the same concerns and responsibility.
These are just a few of their sites that we have
personally reviewed and tested. Check them out and share them with the
young people you care about.
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
PBS Kids is a respected and trusted site.
We would not hesitate to send our children and grandchildren
very assuring. Families visiting the site can feel safe
regarding potential threats to family privacy and their children's
welfare. Jump to it from
website has been Certified 'Family Safe' by the
Institute of Family Safe Businesses.
Ask Jeeves for Kids
Ask Jeeves is a
trademark of Ask Jeeves, Inc., Copyright 1996-2000 Ask Jeeves,
Ask Jeeves for Kids has great Study Tools, Fun and Games and
News Resources, all Safe.
Visit Ask Jeeves
for Kids Home page Here
Check out the
Kid Friendly pages HERE
Parent Friendly Links HERE
We receive no compensation for
displaying these links and you will be under No Obligation when
you visit them. They are here because we care about the safety
of everyone who uses the internet, especially our Kids.
more family related links on the
Personal Privacy and
page at the Firewalls-and-virus-protection website if you are at all
concerned for your own security and that of your family.
Join The GetNetWise Initiative
GetNetWise is a
public service brought to you by Internet industry corporations and
public interest organizations to help ensure that Internet users have
safe, constructive, and educational or entertaining online
experiences. The GetNetWise coalition wants Internet users to be just
"one click away" from the resources they need to make informed
decisions about their and their family's use of the Internet. More
information is available.
GetNetWise is a project of the Internet
are A few more helpful resources
Your Private Information PRIVATE"
Lock away all of your Passwords, Images,
Video and Audio into one Encrypted database for your eyes only.
Enigma enables you to Encrypt and store almost anything so that only
you can access the files through a master password chosen by you. Of
course, all or any of your Encrypted files can be restored to their
original state any time you choose.
You can even backup and restore the entire database to and from CDs to
ensure that you lose nothing even if your hard disk dies.
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. You can go to their pages covering
Take a look at the
FTC Phishing report.
Use these Free Reports to help your
family and friends:
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'.
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
Is a Keystroke Logger Being Used To Spy
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
Spying On You?
(No downloading necessary, and you can print it right from your
How Much Money would it cost you to
regain the use of your computer after a serious virus infection?
It cost one of our friends a whole lot of money, much aggravation
and lost time, lost records, and a major inconvenience to recover
from the havoc caused by the worms and viruses that had infiltrated
their computer over a period of many months.
In case you missed this newest report on the
you can read
it here. Our friends have recovered full use of their
computer and now encourage everyone to learn from their
experiences. Please print the report and share it with your
family, friends and associates.
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
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
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.
about controlling SPAM and Spyware ).
These problems are being
addressed actively by many organizations and agencies. Various ideas
and suggestions are under consideration, however there doesn't seem to
be one overall simple solution. Here are some recent news
reports. We are encouraged by the concern and serious efforts being
made by these groups. Maybe someday the flood of SPAM will be dammed.
As the FTC moves ahead with its
more aggressive strategy, Congress remains close to passing
legislation that would boost fines for spyware purveyors and
potentially impose criminal penalties.
The House of Representatives passed two separate bills during October,
2004, aimed at the practice. Major technology companies, including
Microsoft, Yahoo and Dell, are reported to have signed on to the idea(but
with some reservations).
Some insiders say the pending bills are likely to be joined, providing
both criminal penalties and higher civil fines, and passed when
Congress returns to Capitol Hill after Election Day in November, 2004.
|In October of this
year, The Federal Trade Commission announced an aggressive new
strategy in taking on alleged purveyors of "spyware".
One of their major efforts has been
the lawsuit brought against the former king of spam, Sanford Wallace
charging him with installing spyware on unsuspecting users' computers.
It appears that Mr. Wallace is the example for the Federal Trade
Commission's aggressive new strategy to rid the Net of software that
may track unsuspecting Web surfers and bombard them with
advertisements or even steal log-in information and passwords.
FTC investigator Sallie Schools reported that Web sites operated by
Wallace changed the home page in her Internet Explorer browser.
Programming code on one page popped open the CD drive in her computer
and showed text saying "If your CD-ROM drives open...You desperately
need to rid your system of spyware pop-ups immediately." The site then
offered a product called Spy Deleter.
Private industry is also addressing the problem aggressively.
Microsoft has filed nine new lawsuits against those it says are
responsible for spam, including a Web-hosting company that caters to
people who send unsolicited e-mail, the software giant reported
With the latest batch of lawsuits, Microsoft reported it is involved
in more than 100 legal cases against spammers, including more than 70
lawsuits filed in the United States.
Consumers, too, need to act, by educating themselves and by making
sure they obtain the necessary programs to protect their computers.
Those programs include installing a firewall; installing and updating
anti-virus software; using anti-spyware software that can identify and
delete programs that have migrated to their computer; using spam
filters to protect e-mail; and downloading patches that update
"User Education" is the
focus of our Firewalls and Virus Protection website and this "Security
Alert News Reporter".
Please help us to help your family, friends, and associates enjoy a
safer and less frustrating internet experience. We encourage you to
share this information with them.
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 NewsReporter.
If you had the opportunity to help
family members, associates, or friends by sharing any of the
information in this
please suggest that they subscribe for their own personal copy.
They can subscribe here and we'll never share their information with third
As promised in our first
issue, we aren't going to stuff your mail box with un-ending mailings every
day, week, or whenever. When there's 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 "firstname.lastname@example.org"
Thank you again, for your interest and trust. We'll do our best to
in our Computer Virus Awareness Campaign by Sharing this with a friend
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