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     Valuable Information for the everyday Non-technical Computer and Internet
         User and Web Surfer who just wants to be safe doing basic stuff
  Visitors to the Security Alert Blog are encouraged to express their views and opinions on my postings (easily done by clicking on the highlighted 'COMMENT' | 'TRACKBACK' at each post). You'll notice that the most recent Posts appear first. You can use the links in the left column to jump to posts from earlier weeks and months.
Please let me hear from you.
Your comments are really appreciated. Try to avoid anything inappropriate (hateful, abusive, explicit, etc.), they'll be deleted before posting. Please stick to the theme of "Security Awareness and Safety on the Internet'. Your email address will never be displayed and will not be shared with third parties.

I'm very pleased that you're here today, and look forward to your early return. Using the  Web Feed or bookmarking this page will make it a lot easier to visit again. Thanks,
                                  .... Richard Rossbauer

  December 30, 2005       How much time did you spend with your computer this
                                    holiday season?

If you're like me, it could have been too much, but I didn't realize it until I read this post in Samanta Burn's blog .These Holidays Are A Time For Giving

Here's a short excerpt --

Do you remember back to the olden days, circa 1993, when none of your friends
        had the Internet, or AOL? What did you do for Christmas?
       I'm guessing you didn't read BBS bulletin boards, send text messages on your
       2 kilogram cell phone, or download 1 megabyte emails with elves bowling using
       your gosh-awful-slow 2400 Baud modem.
       'Away from your computer time', is what holidays are good for these days."

If I had read it before the holidays ended, I probably would have spent a little more time being a holiday person rather than an Internet person.

Enjoy the holidays, your family and friends, have a Healthy, Happy, and Prosperous
New Year, and thanks again for visiting my blog.       
                                                                                           ... Richard

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  December 27, 2005         How Internet Savvy are your Children and Grandchildren?

I recently had the opportunity to watch my Grandchildren as they surfed the Internet for information to do school reports and as they visited with their friends by Instant Messaging.

They certainly are knowledgeable about using their computers and when asked, they assured me they were careful not to click on the wrong things. But, they navigated so quickly, and had so many friends in their chat rooms at the same time,  I was concerned that they could lose track of all that was going on.

And even though our kids are fairly well versed in how to use their computers, certainly, today's hackers, online thieves, and predators are smarter than my grandchildren, and probably your young children and grandchildren, too.

All of this prompted me to review the sections of the "Firewalls and Virus Protection" website that addresses Internet Family Safety and Identity Theft Avoidance -- not so much for the kids themselves, but for those of us parents and grandparents who might not be as adept at using our computers as they are, but still responsible for their safety and the security of our families.

I invite you visit these updated pages -- Internet Family Safety and Identity Theft Avoidance and comment. Tell me what's most important to you about keeping your children safe.
                                                                                               ... Richard

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  December 23, 2005                      Stinger updated as of November 22, 2005 to include
                                                   protection against the Sober@MM!M681 worm.

Add this protection to your new computer — update your backup protection for your existing machines

, the Free virus checking and removal  tool (compliments of McAfee's Anti-virus and Vulnerability Emergency Response Team -
AVERT) was updated November 22, 2005 to detect and remove more than 50 current viruses including the Sober@MM!M681 worm.

It's a great little program that fits neatly on a floppy disc - a perfect way to clean up your computer if a worm or other 'rogueware' has disabled your ability to get back on the Internet to update your security ware.  

Whenever updated versions becomes available, I'll post a notice here, on the Firewalls and Virus Protection website and in the Security Alert News Reporter.  Download the current version here at McAfee STINGER


                                                                                                      ... Richard

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  December 17, 2005  It  seems impossible that it's been a year since I first posted
                              this message. My thanks and appreciation have grown and
                              continue to grow for all of your support.
 Here's what I wrote in December, 2004:

 A Big 'Thank You' to all of our Readers who have helped get our "Security Awareness Campaign" underway

The campaign started in January, 2004, with the initial 5 pages of our Firewalls-and-Virus-Protection website going online.

More than a very large handful of 'problems' have come this way during the past dozen years or so of using the internet. Originally, they were just "How can I do this - or that", but recently, all of us everyday computer and internet users have been deluged with so many nasty viruses, worms, trojans and spyware intruders, the focus has changed to "How NOT to".

How not to get infected by these pests and intruders, and of course, how not to let them take over our our computers and surfing pleasures.

The comments, questions and advice received from many online and offline friends made it abundantly clear that we needed help. It needed to be provided in a manner easy to understand and implement.

The theme of the Firewalls-and-Virus-Protection website, the News Reporter, and the Security Alert Blog has been and will continue to be "simplicity": information that can be used and easily understood by the youngest internet users to the oldest of us Senior people, many of whom were fearful of even starting to use a computer.

So as a rather senior 'Senior', I chose to use the Internet and my online publications as the platform from which I could help the unwary and lesser experienced understand what is happening in the Cyber Jungle and how not to be caught in the ambushes along the way.
Thanks again to the many visitors and readers for their part in carrying on my "Security Awareness Campaign" in 2004, 2005 and on into the New Year, 2006.
                                                                                               ........ Richard

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  December 12, 2005       New SOBER Worm Attacks expected on Jan 6, 2006

Security Firms have issued a warning of yet another Sober Worm Threat

Sober worms have been reported as the leading Web-based security threat during 2005. One Security firm, Sophos Inc., identified the Sober-Z variant as number 1 complaint during November, 2005.

The first version of the worm appeared in 2003 and was traced to German-speaking authors. It sends messages in both German and English, depending up on the recipient's e-mail address.

If the attack materializes, it will only add to the already record-breaking run of the Sober worm and its variants. Security firms F-Secure has identified more than 20 different versions and iDefense some 30 variants.

What does all of this mean for the everyday home computer user?

Since the Security firms have been able to decipher the code well enough to anticipate the date of the potential attack, as well as identifying probable email subject lines and dangerous links, one would expect that safeware (firewalls, anti-virus and anti-spyware) will be programmed to recognize and stop it if and when such an attack might start.

That gives us plenty of time to get into the habit of updating our own safeware and operating systems. If yours doesn't update automatically, you should not delay when you receive notices that upgrades are available.

Don't start the new year as a Sober worm victim.
                                                                                                    ... Richard

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  December 4, 2005         Enjoy a Healthy, Happy and Secure Holiday Season

Even though most new computers given as gifts for this holiday season will include protective software, there are a couple of vital steps required before going online with them.

During the exciting and busy days of the Holiday Season, we might be inclined to overlook, or forget the importance of keeping the security features and protective software up to date on our computers.

Many hackers and criminals are counting on this so that they can ply their nefarious trade of infecting our computers with dangerous stuff adding the unwary to their BotFarms.

After the gifts are exchanged and your brand new computers are set-up and ready to explore the Internet, these same criminals know that the security software that comes with nearly all of today's new computers may not be updated first. They'll be waiting .

Probably most brand new computers will have a version of Windows XP, which includes a software firewall. They'll also have anti-virus  and anti-spyware software by a variety of sources like Norton AntiVirus, PC Doctor, McAfee, etc.

The WindowsXP operating system includes a software firewall, but it has to be activated by the user first, before going on line!

Then, the included anti-virus and anti-spyware programs must also be updated.  This is extremely important.

 It will be important to Review the instruction for updating and connecting to the websites of the safeware providers to understand how to download their latest information before starting the fun surfing.
                                                                          ... Richard

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  REPEATED                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:

Your donation will reach one of the lucky children if you make it before December 23rd  

                                                                            ... Thanks ever so much, Richard
  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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  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

    (UPDATED)                     A Little More Experience with RSS Readers for
                                        adding current Web Feeds to your daily reading lists
The more I use I use it, the more I like it! I'm talking about the RSS feed reader on the MyYahoo page.

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.

For awhile I was using two RSS Readers, but after many months of experience, I have found that using just one meets all of my needs, and it's very easy to set up. .

More and more of my favorite websites, newsletters and blogs display
|XML|RSS| buttons.
Now, even more display the 
Add to My Yahoo!  button. Clicking on it automatically adds that feed to my personal MyYahoo page. 

 Using  RSS feeds has saved a lot of time!, I don't have to go on a search for the latest information  published on my favorite sites -- every new bit of information, post, or announcement appears in my RSS Reader. (The new IE7 is expected to refer to these as "Web Feeds.")

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 'MyYahoo' page, it's very easy to get one from the Yahoo site. The same is true for Add to Google and  

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!.
                                                                            ......Richard |

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