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Posts from January, February and March 2009

March 28, 2009   The Conficker worm - can you avoid being infected??

  Running rampant since October 2008, estimates of the number of infected PCs range from 9 to 15 million. In November, Microsoft released several patches and updates to defend against infection by Conficker (aka Downadup)

  Here's an update on the worm's activities and some suggestions for protecting your PCs. The attacks are against the Microsoft Operating Systems, and from what I have found, Microsoft at least offers some thorough protective help. 

  The worm's devious creators have programmed it to be immune to most anti-virus software. At least three versions are now circulating.

  The latest version of the virus has been programmed to instruct infected computers to carry out an undefined act on April 1, 2009.

  Security experts are uncertain about what the virus will do on April Fool's Day. Some say it may just be a distraction.

  The April 1 execution has many people looking for information about it by visiting popular Search engines. Unfortunately, this can lead to hoax web sites that could infect the visitors.

  Whatever damage the virus actually does or does not do, it’s still best to get it off your machine.

  Here's a list of resources that provide reliable "Conficker" information on the symptoms, prevention, and recovery.

  Symptoms - If your computer is infected with this worm, Microsoft reports that you may not experience any symptoms, or you may experience any of the following symptoms:

   * Account lockout policies are being tripped.
   * Automatic Updates, Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS),
           Windows Defender, and Error Reporting Services are disabled.
   * Domain controllers respond slowly to client requests.
   * The network is congested.
   * Various security-related Web sites cannot be accessed.

  Prevention -Protect yourself from the Conficker computer worm
http://www.microsoft.com/protect/computer/viruses/worms/conficker.mspx

  Recovery -The Microsoft Malware Protection Center has updated the Malicious Software Removal tool (MSRT). This is a stand-alone binary that is useful in the removal of prevalent malicious software, and it can help remove the Win32/Conficker malware family.

 You can download the MSRT from either of the following Microsoft Web sites:
           http://www.update.microsoft.com
           http://support.microsoft.com/kb/890830

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
  Microsoft published an easy to understand website describing how the Conficker worm works and how to protect yourself

www.microsoft.com/protect/computer/viruses/worms/conficker.mspx
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

   Tools to remove Conficker -

  BitDefender appears to be the first to offer a free tool which disinfects all versions of Downadup. This domain is the first to serve a removal tool without being blocked by the e-threat. Free download from their website here -
                               http://www.bdtools.net/

  This is serious stuff and the April 1 scare date may be a false alarm, but it's not worth taking the chance, Is it?
                                                               ... Richard

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March 26, 2009    Find Out What Your Child REALLY Does on
        Social Networking Sites like MySpace & Face book
.

  Every day online predators set deadly traps for innocent teens (and sometimes even younger children) just like yours.

  As parents, we want only the best for our children. We all work hard to help our kids become emotionally stable, financially successful adults.

  Unfortunately, for many the dream will die.

  Are you aware that right now, this very minute… your child may already be a victim? You might be thinking, “Not my kid….because he/she is in his/her bedroom doing homework. What could be a threat in the bedroom?”
If your child is online, get ready to find out, and what you will find may shock you.

  This Free report has the information to help you, and all parents, fully understand which Social networking sites are dangerous, and which aren't.                                   CLICK HERE for FREE REPORT

  Help your children safely enjoy the wonders of today's technology - understand why these sites are so popular with them and their peers
.
                                                                                     ... Richard
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March 19, 2009                How not to be a part of the problem
                               

A recent survey analyzed by "Knowledge Networks" found that nearly three quarters of the total United States population has access to the internet in their homes or at work with users spending an average of three hours per day on the Internet.


The implications of these few basic facts are alarming!

Every one of these computers is a Hackers Target while it's online. Even without doing any math, it's readily apparent that the number of 'Available Attack Hours' runs into the millions every day.

... and all users of the Internet, youngsters or oldsters, whether entertaining themselves with online games, doing research, communicating via eMail, instant messaging or chat rooms, are the targets of the thieves and other unsavory types who are trying to trap us into giving up private information that can lead to painful losses of our financial resources and even our personal identities.

But I wonder, "How many of us really care about the safety and security of our neighbors, friends and family?

They're Hackers Targets, too.

If you don't care about them and do nothing to protect your (more here)

                                                                  ...Richard
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February 23, 2009    Tough Times encourage more creativity by clever
                               cyber thieves


Some things to keep in mind when reading your email and surfing the net.

Not that you aren't already aware of some of these threats, but with the current economic situation, it's possible to drop your guard when you are presented with a variety of enticing "opportunities" online.

For example: Product Reviews (that are actually fakes)

Your unsolicited email (SPAM) can offer anti-virus software reviews like the ones shown in the Lavasoft Company's blog
at - http://www.lavasoft.com/company/blog/?p=507
(not an affiliate link)

Take a look at these screen shots to help you recognize XPVirusProtection, also spreading as XP Virus Protection and Total Virus Protection.

There's also a screen shot of MalwareDoc - another Rogue

Rogue software is created to look authentic, often offers free virus or
spyware scans to encourages people to buy a security application - which can contain malware that could compromise your computer, allowing cyber crooks access to your private information.

email traps - When it comes to links embedded in emails, don't click on them!You never know if those links are really taking you where you want to go, or if they're directing you to a site designed to steal whatever information you may enter.

If you want to visit a site sent to you via email, type the URL directly into your Web browser.

Beware of unsolicited PDF files - another current threat

Adobe reports that they will release an update for Adobe Reader 9 and Acrobat 9 by March 11th, 2009. Updates for Adobe Reader 8 and Acrobat 8 will follow soon after, with Adobe Reader 7 and Acrobat 7 updates to follow.

                                                                                 ... Richard
Tags: Rogue Software,


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February 14, 2009      Why are there more than 10 million Confiker
                                 infected PCs?


  Is it because Windows users didn't take steps to update their Security programs when they first had a chance?

The Conficker worm, also known as Downadup and Kido, has found its way into upwards of 10 million computers worldwide, providing hackers, spammers and cybercriminals with a 'back door' into people's machines, making Windows users vulnerable to identity fraud and ID theft.

The virus takes advantage of a vulnerability in the operating system to dig deep into the computer's files, folders and System Registry which stores settings and options for Windows.

Once installed, hackers and spammers are able to remotely download more malicious programs into the computer, or even use the worm to help install software that will enable them to track and steal security information, such as banking logins or credit card information.

Most worrisome to the Experts is the fact that it doesn't do much — yet. They fear it's just waiting for a command to turn all infected machines into a superpowerful "botnet" of zombie PCs that could be used to take down commercial, military or governmental Web sites.

Microsoft announced on Feb 12, 2009, that it had placed a $250,000 bounty on the heads of the developers and distributors of this computer virus that's been worming its way worldwide for months.

(PCs running non-Windows operating systems are not affected by Conficker).

On October 23, 2008, Microsoft released a critical security update, MS08-067, to resolve a vulnerability in the Server service of Windows that, at the time of release, was facing targeted, limited attack

You can get instructions (updated February 13, 2009) from Microsoft on how to protect your Windows machine here -

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/security/dd452420.aspx

While there, get a free download of The Microsoft Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool

Don't be one of the millions - make sure you are protected now.
  
                                                                       ... Richard
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Februry 9, 2008  Your Phished Stolen Data - Do You Know Who Has It?

   Security researchers are concerned that identity thieves and hackers are not just using phishing and keyloggers to steal sensitive data but the information captured in this way is often placed on unprotected FTP sites (a method that allows users to copy files between their local system and any system they can reach on a network) making it available to any dishonest person who encounters it.

   These FTP sites are packed with stolen information from all over the world and in many languages. The data held there includes Hotmail, Yahoo and other email account information, IP addresses, other usernames and passwords, etc.

   Criminals use complex and sophisticated methods to sift through these data to find what they are looking for, like your passwords, your bank account numbers, your credit card numbers, etc.

    If your PC is unprotected, criminals can place and use surreptitious programs on it and... (read more about phishing here)

                                                                 ... Richard

   Tags: phishing. keylogging, password

 
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You can check them out here http://www.myinvisusdirect.com/wstraughan/  Suggested by subscriber
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February 3, 2009   Are you up to date on the Confiker/Downadup worm?

Here's an update on the Confiker/Downadup worm that some say has infected more than 9 million PCs worldwide. The worm spreads through low security networks, memory sticks, and PCs without current security updates.

First discovered in October 2008, Downadup is primarily a problem for corporate data networks, but it also can affect the performance and security of home PCs.

Experts are warning that hackers have yet to activate the payload of the Conficker virus.

The best way to protect your personal computer against Confiker/Downadup is by ensuring that you have the "MS08-067" patch from Microsoft. If you are unsure if you have the patch, you can check in the "add/remove programs" utility for your computer (be sure that the "show updates" option is checked) and look for "security update (KB958644)." If the update is there, you should be all set. If you do not see this update, it can be downloaded and installed by visiting the Microsoft Download Center Web site.


Why not take a minute now to be sure you are protected from Confiker?
                
                                                                                             
... Richard

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January 29, 2009       Notice Anything Different about the
                                      Security Alert Blog Layout?

   Actually, the changes are very subtle - the post area being the most obvious. The rest of the changes were primarily housekeeping.

   Whenever I ran across websites that contained information that would help us maintain our own Internet safety and computer security, I tried to make them available to all of our visitors and subscribers.

   Over time, a few of those websites, blogs and security software providers stopped publishing, changed their URL addresses, or even went out of business. Those links have been removed.

   The mission of this blog is to provide family oriented security information in an understandable and easy to use manner. That will not change.

   As a matter of fact, the effort to provide these resources will be increased, and you can help me help you by telling me what you need, want, or even don't care for.

   I look forward to your comments (click on comments to open a brief Contact form on a new page where you can tell me what you think).

   Thanks very much for your help and advice.

                                                                   ...Richard
  
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January 11, 2009      Taking forever to run your anti-virus and
                                             anti-spyware scans?


  It could be that we accumulate a lot of files, and even programs that are seldom or ever used. When our hard rives get loaded, larger files are stored in fragments in un-connected places through-out the drive.

  Defragmenting, or re-assembling these fragments results in faster scans, the computer boots in less time, and applications load faster. This is important, because those long waits often discourage users to a point that they avoid the important anti-virus and anti-spyware scans altogether.

  There are a few things that will help solve this problem.

   1. Remove the files and programs that you no longer use or need

   2. Run the Disk Cleanup utility and delete  temporary files, Internet
      cache files, and unnecessary program files

   3. Run the Defragmentation program included with the Windows operating
       system.

  More on the Why and How of 'Defragmenting Your Hard Drive' HERE. It's article Number 81 in the Library at the Firewalls-and Virus-Protection website.

  Most important, don't avoid running those Anti-virus and Anti-spyware scans, and be sure to keep them up-to-date!
                                                                   ...Richard
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Don't hesitate to express your views and opinions on my Security Alert Blog and Cyber Security Alert postings (easily done by clicking on the highlighted 'COMMENT' |  at each post. Watch for postings on fraud alerts, virus alerts, worm alerts, Internet Security alerts, security scams, parental controls, online predators, net security, and more. Be sure to visit our Firewalls-and-Virus Protection website for even more help

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Evergreen         How Did You Teach Your Children To Be Safe
                               When They Were learning to Surf the Internet?

 
    We'd love to learn how you taught your kids to be cautious and careful and avoid the threats from online scammers and pedophiles when they were learning to explore the "web".
 
    CLICK HERE  to Share your Experiences and learn how other parents helped their kids to safety - free, of course
 
     As parents, grandparents and guardians, we are reminded constantly to help our children enjoy the pleasures and excitement of the Internet in safety.
        
     My own grandchildren learned how to boot up their family computers at a very early age. For the youngest of them, it was simply a matter of watching their older sisters and brothers as they chatted online with their friends, worked on their school lessons, and explored the mysteries of the cyber universe.
 
    Informed parents recognize that the Internet provides an exciting and learning experiences for their children. Teaching online safety, and learning together is a wonderful way for any family to enjoy it.
 
  Your experiences and successes could help a lot of other parents and us grandparents.
 
  CLICK HERE for a real easy way to Share your Experiences and learn how other parents helped their kids to safety - free, of course
                                                 Thanks for caring, and sharing....Richard
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Evergreen     Update your Emergency Virus Protection program

Free mcAfee STINGER backup virus scanner and removerIf you don't have your Virus Protection program yet, here's an Emergency Step you should take, Right Now!
 
 McAfee offers a FREE Virus Scanning program named
                  
STINGER.

  It has grown in size a little over the past few years and no longer fits on a single floppy Disk. But so many of the newer PCs, including lap tops don't have a "A" floppy drive anyway, you should burn it to a CD or memory stick for an offline back up tool.

  You can use it as we do, to check any of your PC computers for viruses, without being on line.

  It is an 'After the Fact' application, which means that it does not scan incoming email files, attachments or downloads, but it does scan whatever you have already received online.

  It currently checks, and repairs nearly 200 recent viruses. It's FREE to download from McAfee
STINGER

           
 Stinger - Latest Version - Updated April 8, 2009
                                                                                               
                                                                                                       ... Richard

   Tags: , ,   Trojans,         
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         ,,

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  I thoroughly enjoy writing about my major interest, "Internet Safety for everyday Internet users and web surfers" as the Security Alert Blog.

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