Security Alert News Reporter   

         October 2004               LANGHORNE, PENNSYLVANIA, USA                Volume 1, Issue 06
Help! I think we have a Virus.

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Here's your "Security Alert News Reporter" for October,  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 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 issues.
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 doesn’t mean they're not harmful, but anti-virus software does not attempt to detect all software that could be harmful. Spyware and malware
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 foolish.

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 inevitable.

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 the problem.

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 infections.
education is our best counterintelligence against the threat of spyware."

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.
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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.

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Privacy Theft  - -    

Be on the alert for some major phishing expeditions!

It appears that there is a major effort by online thieves to destroy'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 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

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, 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 details.

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 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 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
          for no apparent reason,
     ►  Browser links either disappear or new ones show up,
     ►  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 hijacking parasites.

Download 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 by InterMute.

CWShredder has been updated to find and remove new CoolWebSearch variants. CWShredder™ Version 2.0 is the latest defense against the new CoolWebSearch variants, and it is included in SpySubtract PRO.
Download a free trial and enjoy the best spyware protection available today.
We learned about this program from the extraordinary website and forums built and maintained by James Healan, webmaster of

We encourage 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?
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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.

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.
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.

 Check out more family related links on the Personal Privacy and IdentityTheft
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: You're One Click Away   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 Education Foundation.

             Here are A few more helpful resources

"Keep Your Private Information PRIVATE"

Lock away all of your Passwords, Images, Documents, 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.            

 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. Take a look at the FTC Phishing report.
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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


    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
Are Keystroke Loggers Spying On You?
(No downloading necessary, and you can print it right from your browser window.)

  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 (encouraging news 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.

Phishing could be punishable under a new law

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 recently.

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 software.

"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  ??????????
       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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Sharing ? If you had the opportunity to help family members, associates, or friends by sharing any of the information in this News Reporter, please suggest that they subscribe for their own personal copy.

  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

The email subject line will identify the contents as "Latest Security Alert News Reporter - Issue ##" and the email "FROM" address will be "

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


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Check Out the
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
Volume 1, Issue 05


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