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|Here's your "Security Alert News Reporter"
for September, 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
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
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
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
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
we hope that you take heed of the importance of keeping your
security shields up to date!
Simply put -- Every Online Computer
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
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.
In our last 2 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 in
the archived Issues).
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
Browser links either disappeared or new ones
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,
Search and Destroy,
. They did
find various bugs, but removing those bugs did not cure the problem with the
We got the most help after visiting the
SpywareInfo.com site at <http://www.spywareinfo.com/>
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
XOFTSPY by Pareto Logic
(LINK) found the CWS variant - CWS.mrhop
Among the more recent spy searching programs that we've tested are:
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
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?
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
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.
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.
are more family related links on the
'Identity Theft' pages
Firewalls-and-virus-protection website. Check them out, too, if you are at
all concerned for your own security and that of your family.
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.
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
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
HERE or here>
(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.
Reviews (more news
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)
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!
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.
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
and in the pop-out menu, select
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
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 "email@example.com"
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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