Security Alert News Reporter   

       September 2004               LANGHORNE, PENNSYLVANIA, USA                Volume 1, Issue 05
Help! I think we have a Virus.

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This Newsletter is sent out periodically, but only to those people who have registered for the Security Alert and Report Alert Services from one or more of the websites published and maintained by If you are no longer interested in up-to-date Security Alerts, use the link at  the end of this letter to un-register.
Here's your "Security Alert News Reporter" for September,  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 September 30, 2004 by McAfee:

Full descriptions including virus characteristics, symptoms, aliases and removal instructions are available by clicking on the link. This worm alert is in addition to those posted in previous month's
News Reporter issues.
Another new and potentially dangerous threat:  various Internet watchers report that they have spotted infected images that could insert a Trojan Horse on a viewer's computer. The suspect images were specially fashioned JPEG files, (a type of image file commonly used for web sites, Instant Messaging, and some html email).

It's possible that these early sightings are harbingers of more serious problems yet to come. Again, the culprits have taken advantage of a vulnerability in the Microsoft Windows operating systems.

Researchers at the SANS Institute Internet Storm Center report that the AOL Instant Messenger service has also been targeted.

The Trojans are designed to place a worm that could make a compromised computer available to remote attackers, who could then take over the victim's machine for various malicious uses.

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 and anti-virus software with the latest patches available. Ignoring update notices that come from Microsoft, McAfee, Symantec, etc., is just downright foolish.

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

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.

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. Download the September 28, 2004 update.

Look for the STINGER Icon



Don't suffer from Virus Protection Innocence and Firewall and Virus Protection Apathy

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, especially true if your Internet Explorer browser is hijacked.

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

We currently use Netscape for our main browser, but are experimenting with a few others. We have not removed Internet Explorer, but it is not our primary browser any more.

Because we are always anxious to have our websites and newsletters rendered properly in the other major browsers used by our readers and site visitors, the AOL and CompuServe browsers are part of our internet connection tools so that we can test all of our publications.

We are currently running the Mozilla FireFox internet browser as an experiment. So far, it has been very satisfactory, renders webpages much as Internet Explorer does, and presents many of the same features of IE. Some FireFox users have reported difficulty when visiting various sites; we haven't experienced any of those problems yet.

It seems that many of the Internet Editorialists and Pundits are promoting a switch over to FireFox from Internet Explorer. We are being cautious in making such a extreme 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.

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Privacy Theft  - -     Hijacked !

In our last 2 issues, we reported on the unpleasant experience 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 in the archived Issues).

     That CWS worm did a lot of really nasty stuff to our computer:

     ► 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

To help alert our newest subscribers, the recent section covering spyware, adware and malware is repeated here:
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 spy-sweeping 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.

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.
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Family Security  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.

The links posted here can 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.
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.

Ask Jeeves for Kids

Enter your question here:
Ask Jeeves is a trademark of Ask Jeeves, Inc., Copyright 1996-2000 Ask Jeeves, Inc.
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 and the 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.

   There are more family related links on the 'Identity Theft' pages  at the Firewalls-and-virus-protection website. Check them out, too, if you are at all concerned for your own security and that of your family.

             Here are A few more helpful resources

  "Identity Theft, How to Avoid Becoming The Next Victim"
       (an eBook by James H. Dimmitt)
   If you haven't taken any steps to protect yourself yet, then you are at risk to become a victim of this crime! The author's goal in writing this book was to share with you what he learned from his research on Identity Theft prevention and protection. It'll show you proven, detailed steps that you can use instantly to protect yourself, your family, your reputation and financial future from this devastating crime.

 Visit 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. You can go to their pages covering Consumer (family) protection HERE
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Publications  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'.

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.)

Serious Virus Infection !

  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 Firewalls-and-Virus-Protection website, 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.

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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 (more news about SPAM).

  The SPAM problem is 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.

US considers spammer bounties

Congress has asked the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to use bounties to catch spammers. To combat junk email, the US government is considering an incentive strategy to reward informers in spam cases.
(Late September, 2004)
Phishing could be punishable under a new law
If such a  bill is passed, the FTC believes the offer of rewards of between $100,000 and $250,000 for turning in spammers could make US anti-spam legislation more effective.

   At a recent Arlington, Virginia workshop hosted by The Global Internet Project (GIP), "Spam Can It Be Stopped?" participants and panelists representing  government, academia, law and business expressed concern over the growing use of spam by fraudulent commercial enterprises.

Vinton Cerf, Sr. Vice President of a leading telecommunications company, warned that in the age of fast growing technology, Spammers will always take advantage of these technological gains to expand their reach, and that in the future, we may be bombarded by huge amounts of high resolution videos and graphic spam.

The scope of the problem is immense. AOL reports that they currently block up to 2 billion spam emails a day before they even reach AOL members, and that's just AOL!

 Among the many opinions expressed by participants,

it was felt that new legislation alone will not stop spam, but effective enforcement of existing laws that address fraud, online and off, could have a positive impact.

Internet Service Providers (ISP's), email providers and software companies should help educate end users on how to secure personal computers and report spam abuses to the ISP's and governmental agencies.

Users need to be educated and given the tools to establish their own definitions of spam and set the levels at which they filter out their incoming email.

"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.

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  NewsReporter Reader's Questions  ??????????
Here's a question received recently from GSutton:

Dear Richard, I hate to sound stupid, but what is the surefire way to tell if one's computer is infected by a virus - sometimes they just act slow or ornery and it isn't always a virus, right?  Thanks, G

Dear G, that's a really good question, Thanks.

   No, it isn't always a virus, especially if you have kept your Security Shields up-to-date. Computers slow down when the files on the hard drive become too fragmented or when there isn't enough RAM  for the type of things you are doing.

   Consider Defragging more often. If you are using Windows, you can do this by Clicking on
Start, then on Programs, then  Accessories, and in the pop-out menu, select Systems Tools, and then Disk Defragmenter.

  You can go back to System Tools again and do a Disk Cleanup, which will get rid of a lot of temporary files that just accumulate and tend to bog down your system. Make sure you empty the Recycle Bin regularly.

   Some programs require a lot of RAM, especially graphic intense ones like games, image editing, or very large word processing files with pictures. If your applications are similar to these, you might be able to have more RAM added. (RAM is Random Access Memory, it comes with your computer. Older computers weren't usually supplied with very much, but newer ones usually have at least 256 megabytes and can often have chips added to bring that up to 512 megs)

    Now if you have done all of that and your computer is still ornery, slow or cranky, you could possibly have malware worms playing havoc in there. Problem is, even the best Virus scanning and Firewall programs don't always stop spyware, adware and malicious software (malware).

   There are many FREE spyware detecting applications that you can download and try. Chances are that you will find a lot of "bugs" that could be a threat. Some of the Free spyware detectors will allow you to quarantine or remove them.

   If these bugs are malicious, they could be responsible for the problems you describe. The safest situation for you then is to get rid of them, even if it means paying the small annual registration fee requested by the spy detecting software companies. Check out our website for links to these resources.

   Encountering the situation you describe can often be frightening, overwhelming and frustrating for all computer users, newbies and experienced, alike. Our advice is to accept the fact that computers are extremely complex devices with many interacting and conflicting things happening inside of them. Patience will help you survive through these computer tantrums.

   And if you are unable to resolve  the problems yourself, you can usually find experienced local people who can help you do it.

   Good luck.


       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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  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 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

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


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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
Volume 1, Issue 04


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