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Nov 27, 2005

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                                  .... Richard Rossbauer

  November 27, 2005     Is this the end of Free Firewall Software? If so, what's next?
 Symantec Corp. just announced that as of next week it will no longer support or offer its Sygate line of firewall products. Here's their notice:
        "Important Notice: Effective November 30th, 2005 all Sygate products
         and forum support will be discontinued. For technical assistance,
         please email"

Thoughtfully, their announcement included links to the User Guides for Sygate Personal Firewall and Sygate Personal Firewall Pro; helpful for the people who will be using it while they find another firewall program.:

         Sygate Personal Firewall Pro User Guide Version 5.5 (1327KB)
         Sygate Personal Firewall User Guide Version 5.5 (1351KB)
Kerio Technologies also announced that they will discontinue their free personal firewall software by the end of this year, but they will support current users through 2006.
ZoneAlarm is still free and I find it to be quite satisfactory for my Win98SE and Win2000 computers. However, if all of the good Free firewall software programs disappear, I'll have no problems with paid annual subscriptions for quality firewall software.
At $3 or $4 a month, it's rather inexpensive insurance, anyway. Just compare it to the cost of having an outside service clean the dangerous stuff out of your infected computer. Read a real case history HERE.
In my opinion, the firewall software providers are entitled to being compensated for the research and development costs of trying to stay ahead of the hackers and crackers.... and if all free firewall software disappears, there will no doubt be keen pricing competition among the manufacturers of the remaining available quality products.
Do you think this could be the next trend for free anti-virus and anti-spyware products? I do.
                                                                                                      ... Richard

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  November 25, 2005     New Sober Worm variant flooding email boxes as predicted
                                by Bavarian Police last week
A new version of the Sober worm appeared on the Internet (late last week) and is flooding e-mail servers around the world with help from zombie machines infected by earlier versions of the same worm.
Identified by various names --Sober.J, Sober.AG, and W32.Sober.X, it's the latest in a long line of mass e-mail worms.
It arrives in an e-mail message that appears to be a returned-mail error message, advising the user that an e-mail sent earlier has bounced. The message typically contains a .zip, .bat, .com, .scr or .pif attachment and a body text that is some variation on the following:

       Faulty_mail delivery
       Mail_delivery failed

Windows users should watch for a message that looks like it came from the FBI, the agency warned. "These e-mails did not come from the FBI," they added.
  The FBI letter could appear something like this, and opening the file containing the list of questions launches the Sober worm and infects your computer.:
"Dear Sir/Madam,
We have logged your IP-address on more than 30 illegal Web sites. Important: Please answer our questions! The list of questions are attached.
Yours faithfully,
Steven Allison
Federal Bureau of Investigation-FBI-
935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW , Room 3220
Washington, DC 20535
Phone: (202) 324-30000[cq] "

Antivirus firm F-Secure calls it "the largest e-mail worm outbreak of the year" and e-mail security firm MessageLabs stopped more than 2.7 million e-mails carrying the virus.
Sober worms are nothing new, but the latest variant is much more widely distributed than other recent versions because it is being sent out, simultaneously, from countless other Sober infected machines, or "bots," said Symantec.
The new worm also uses a variety of enticing messages, in both German and English.
Other e-mail campaigns containing the Sober.AG worm promise recipients a glimpse of videos of jet-setters Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie if they open the file, (alert from Computer Associates International Inc.)
Software maker Sophos estimated that one in 74 messages presently contain the Sober worm.
Although the new Sober variant spread quickly, security experts said that existing anti-virus programs should be able to identify most infected messages. "Most anti-virus vendors already protect their customers against this," reports an official from Symantec.
My own ISP (Internet Service Provider) has already picked off a bunch of attempts to enter my email inbox with these phony messages . ..

and my anti-spyware programs are kept up to date. Are yours?
  ... Richard

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  November 24, 2005          Some Thoughts on Thanksgiving Day

So many things for which we can give thanks. So great to have a National Holiday set aside on which we can itemize and summarize the things for which we are thankful during the year.

Thanksgiving Day, USA, has a lot of Mosts -- Most heavily traveled day of the year, probably
the Most organized or biggest Family Gathering day, and it's followed immediately by the most busy (and probably the most dangerous) shopping Friday of the year.

Why dangerous? Because in the crowds, and with the excitement of the beginning of the big holiday shopping season, we could easily forget to protect our credit card and Social Security numbers from lurking thieves.

If you haven't had an opportunity to read ""Strategies to Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft", now would be a good time, before you get lost in the shopping crowds.
It's Free. Download it by

On the lighter side, I found a few quotes that made me chuckle, and some that brought to heart, the more serious, and real reason for this holiday. I'll share them here.

         "Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in
          twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not coincidence."
          ~Erma Bombeck

        "An optimist is a person who starts a new diet on Thanksgiving Day".
         ~Irv Kupcinet

"What we're really talking about is a wonderful day set aside on the fourth
         Thursday of November when no one diets. I mean, why else would they call it
         Thanksgiving?" ~Erma Bombeck,
    And probably closer to the Real Meaning of gratitude and giving thanks:
For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
                         ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Our rural ancestors, with little blest,
Patient of labour when the end was rest,
Indulged the day that housed their annual grain,
With feasts, and off'rings, and a thankful strain.
                                            ~Alexander Pope

Dear Readers, I'm thankful for the opportunity to share my thoughts with you and to have you visit here with me. May your lives and the lives of your family and friends be forever blessed.    
                                                                                          ... Richard                

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  November 19, 2005                  Help Yourself By Helping Children . . .
                           The 5th Annual Internet Toy Drive!!

We are proud to be a partner with the official U.S. Marines "Toys for Tots" program in The 5th Annual Internet Toy Drive.

It's a sad fact that millions of children in the United States will NOT have a single gift to open on Christmas Day! We aim to change that and make sure EVERY child has at least one present 'from Santa' under their tree. Help a needy child in YOUR community right now:

                                                                            ... Thanks ever so much, Richard

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  November 22, 2005        How's your Internet Etiquette?

On a web site I found recently, the webmaster highlighted some guidelines for being polite and proper when using the Internet. It's a nice gesture toward keeping the Fun in many of the things we do online.

She reminds readers that Internet etiquette is becoming a necessity in today’s world and that  Millions of users are added to the internet family from around the world every year. Web sites, emails, instant messages, blogs, and chat rooms are used millions of times every day. So, when a place is crowded, rules keep it organized and pleasant for everybody.

You can check out the Internet Etiquette site HERE

                                                                                         ... Richard

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  November 17, 2005          Identity Theft -There's hardly a newspaper, Radio or
                                     TV show that isn't talking about it today

We've heard horror story after horror story about how people's lives have been completely disrupted or destroyed by it.
I'm willing to bet that most people know someone personally who has suffered at the hands
of clever and unscrupulous Identity thieves. Do you know how to avoid losing yours?
Local organizations, Chambers of Commerce, Senior and Social clubs, and many others have
presented speakers and programs covering the subject. The FTC has free books with guides
and advice. Banks, Credit Card companies and others provide helpful literature.
If you're reading this, and haven't had the opportunity yet to get any of the available
literature on protecting yourself and your family, you can quickly and easily get help on developing a strategy for avoiding your own loss of identity.
My free 5 page guide - "Strategies to Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft"
can be downloaded by
 CLICKING HERE . (It' s a zip file containing the report as a Word and PDF document)
Don't become a statistic, be prepared for the increasing threat we all face. Print and
share this free guide with your family and friends. They'll be glad you did.
                                                                                                 ... Richard

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  November 15, 2005      New Sober worm to be released on November 15, 2005 ?

In a surprise move, the Bavarian Police warned about a worm outbreak that will happen - today, November 15, 2005.
Bayerisches Landeskriminalamt has out a press release warning of a possible new Sober worm variant that would be launched Tuesday,  November 15th.
The new Sober variant could be spreading in emails like this:

 Subject: Registration Confirmation
 Body: Thanks for your registration. Your data are saved in the zipped Word.doc file!


Thanks to Alex Eckelberry who posted this in his Sunbelt Software Blog
                                                                                                          ... Richard

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  November 13, 2005         Online Predators! The national news services are creating
                                     an awareness of the increasing dangers to our children

Law enforcement officials estimate that 50,000 predators are online at any given moment. And the number of reports of children being solicited for sex is growing says Michele Collins of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

The recent programming by MSNBC and NBC is a welcome effort to alert Parents and Grandparents to the online perils faced by our children. It really adds emphasis to the cautions I've presented in the Security Alert News Reporter over the past few months..

There are easy to use tools to help us protect our kids from the criminals who try to seduce them. Predator Guard, created with the help of Law Enforcement officials is available from my newsletter or you can learn more about Predator Guard by Clicking Here

If your children or grandchildren use your home computer, Predator Guard will help keep them safe online. Don't we owe it to them?
                                                                                              ... Richard

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  November 13, 2005        Hard Drives don't last forever. It's good insurance to
                                       prepare for a hard drive crash.
When a hard drive on one of my computers started to make some odd sounds recently, I wondered how many of my readers would know how to prepare for their own inevitable hard drive crash.

If you aren't sure about what to expect, or what to do if it should happen to you, there are some easy to understand planning articles posted on the Firewalls and Virus Protection website.

If you can take the time now to review them (or print and read them offline), you'll be pretty well prepared to create your own disaster recovery plan.

Here are quick jump links to two of the articles and the Data Recovery page on the website:
What if Your Hard Drive Crashed?  
Planning for Disaster Recovery
Data Recovery
     (web page)

I suggest you add this information (as hard copy), to your important documents.
                                                                                                           .... Richard

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  November 11, 2005    Federal Trade Commission shuts down massive Blogspot
                               spyware operation
This spyware ring allegedly used Google Inc.'s BlogSpot service to trick millions of computer users into downloading spyware and adware programs.

If you follow and read Blogs, or write your own, Google's Blogspot free blogging service is probably a very familiar word. Literally thousands of us Bloggers use it. So do the miscreants who want to steal and cause trouble. They've found it an open field to prey on unsuspecting readers. (this is not one of my Blogspot blogs)

Dozens of blogs hosted by Google Inc.'s Blogger service can install programs that are widely considered to be spyware and adware onto visitors' computers. Many users are discovering the offending sites as they browse among blogs through Blogger's navigation bar.
These offending blogs typically prompt visitors to accept downloads through misleading pop-up windows.

There's nothing more irritating to Weblog authors than the increasing problem of BlogSpam.

Sure, I encourage appropriate comments to my postings. They help me select security related information and helpful tips to guide the everyday, non-technical internet user who just wants to be safe doing basic stuff.

The FTC's recent action against 3 major predators is good news.  Read more about this in's  Security article HERE

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  November 8, 2005    Why do I Blog? One of my friends asked recently if blogging
                               was a waste of my time

No, blogging is not a waste of time for me. It's a great way of reaching the audience I'm trying to help -- the everyday, non-technical internet user who just wants to be safe doing basic stuff.

With powerful tools available, like syndicating with RSS, Free and simple to use Feed Readers like MyYahoo,  MyMSN,etc., the ability to reach my desired audience is greatly increased.

Blogging can be difficult at times, though. Readers can make cutting and often insulting comments about a blogger's efforts, accuracy, and even personality. The up-side to this is that they are actually reading my blog.

Although her blog is not directed to helping users maintain their online security, Samantha Burns, for example, publishes a popular and often controversial blog to which many readers respond. Her feelings about less than pleasant comments are covered in one of her recent posts in Thoughts On The Blogosphere.

I agree, it's readers' comments that help make my blog better and more useful to the people I want to help. So, if you care to share your opinions about my Security Alert Blog, click the COMMENT link below and lay it on me. Thanks
                                                                                        ... Richard

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  November 1, 2005     Some Windows XP users have experienced a general
                               slowdown of their computers after installing Service Pak 2
                               (SP2). Have You?

Because SP2 increases the security level of a Windows XP system, I installed it on my laptop, and yes, I sensed that it wasn't responding as fast as it did before the installation.

If you're an XP user, you should have it installed on your computer, too.

        To quote Alex Eckelberry, President of Sunbelt Software, makers of CounterSpy
"there is no excuse these days not to have XP SP 2 on your system. From a security standpoint, it’s absolutely essential. For example, we have never been able to infect an XP SP 2 system with the keyloggers we’ve found through an exploit”

Here's what I did.- visited this Microsoft Help and Support page and followed their suggestions;en-us;898583

If you are one of the users who have experienced slowdown, read what Microsoft has to say

After you install Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) or upgrade to Windows XP with SP2, you experience slow computer performance. For example, you experience the following symptoms:

• If you browse the Internet, the performance is slow.
• If you try to download newsgroup e-mail messages, some or all of the messages
   are not downloaded.
• There is excessive hard disk activity.
• Overall system performance is very slow.

This issue occurs if one of the following conditions is true:

• You have spyware or malware running on the computer.
• You have viruses that are running on the computer.
• You do not have sufficient free space on the hard disk.
• You do not have sufficient random access memory (RAM) installed on the
• You have corrupted or outdated drivers.
• You have too many files in the Recycle Bin or temporary folders.
To quote Alex Eckelberry of Sunbelt Software again, “In other words, a general statement of the obvious to any reasonably technical computer user".

You can follow the easy step-by-step method described by Microsoft to solve your problem, too. They helped me get back up to speed.
                                                                                                 ... Richard

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  October 30, 2005    If this is the answer to paying more for safeware, I feel as if
                              I'm being set-up.

Symantec is employing the tactic of increasing prices of anti-virus software update subscriptions to come closer to the price of newer versions of their products.

In his October 18, posting at eWeek Review, Larry Seltzer lays out quite clearly what we can expect when it's time to renew our subscriptions for virus signature updates.

(Virus signatures are what our anti-virus programs look for when scanning. Each virus has a unique signature and the money we pay to the anti-virus vendors for subscriptions covers the costs of research, monitoring and downloading them to the anti-virus programs on our computers).

Some, but not all of the other vendors are following Symantec's example. They want us to buy the updated software when updated signatures would actually still be effective deterrents in many cases.

Thanks to Mr. Seltzer, you can find out if your anti-virus vendor has you in their gun sights. Worse yet, your current vendor cold be preparing to eliminate subscription programs altogether. Read Mr. Seltzer's complete report HERE.
                                                                                               ... Richard

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  Repeated               Helping the Victims and Survivors of Hurricanes Katrina,
                             Rita, and Wilma

First and most important! We all want to help, but there are hundreds of
criminal types who have already taken advantage of the concern and compassion of decent human beings, those suffering and those who wish to help.

These criminals have posted dozens of phony sites with links that will do no more than infest your computers with spyware, Trojans, and other malicious malware so they can steal from you. They are Despicable and Morally Reprehensible - hardly worth being called human beings.
When you contribute, use caution and do it through honest and reliable organizations like the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, etc.
Let's all pitch in to help today, tomorrow and during the trying months ahead. We're members of iCop  - i-Cop members are helping the survivors of the Katrina Tragedy here.
 Will you join us? However you do it, please open your hearts and help.

                                                                                         ... Richard

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     SQUASH the Bug

    (REPEATED)                     A Little More Experience with RSS Readers for
                                          adding current Web Feeds to your daily reading lists
The more I use I use them, the more I like them, but having too many RSS readers was beginning to be a problem.
It was all a bit intimidating a few months back when deciding to add a RSS reader to my Desktop. There were quite a few choices available. Some seemed very complex while others sounded as if they'd be easy to set up. Some even required downloading software in addition to the Reader I tried 3 or 4 products and selected some feeds to follow.

Before too long, keeping track of which feeds I put 'where', became nearly as challenging as trying to manage and use my 'bookmark' selections.

More and more of my favorite websites, newsletters and blogs were displaying
|XML|RSS| buttons. When I added these to my  RSS Readers, I didn't have to go on a search for the latest information they published -- every new bit of information, post, or announcement appeared in my RSS Readers. (The new IE7 is expected to refer to these as "Web Feeds.")
A big time saver, true, but not perfect because now it was necessary to check each of those 4 RSS Readers for updates. I had to find one or two easy to use Readers.
Many of my favorite blogs also displayed this button 
Add to My Yahoo! .
When I did a trial click, my existing 'My Yahoo' page  automatically opened with a dialog box listing the latest posts for that Blog.  All I needed to do was click on one more button and the Feed was added to my 'My Yahoo' page.
Now I have just two Readers - - 'MYYahoo' and ' Quikonnex' which I use with my Mozilla Firefox browser. However, I find that for my blog reading, the MYYahoo reader more than satisfies all of my requirements.

Soon you'll find that many of your favorite sites display the little buttons. There will be more and more in the days ahead. If you don't have a Free 'My Yahoo' page, it's very easy to get one from the Yahoo site. The same is true for 

After you put the first Web Feed into you RSS Feed Reader and have up-to-date notices delivered to you without having to worry about opening an email notice, you'll appreciate how great this RSS stuff really is. Try It. You'll enjoy it!.



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