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  Valuable Information for the everyday Internet User and Web Surfer
  A Blog (web log) is a quick and easy way to share timely information (alerts, updated news, trends, and developments), answer questions, express opinions and exchange views. The really valuable and outstanding features of blogging are that it is interactive -- news, views and opinions are exchanged in a timely manner.

Visitors to this Security Alert Blog are encouraged to express their views and opinions on our postings (easily done by clicking on the highlighted 'COMMENT' at each post). You'll notice that our most recent Posts appear first. You can use the links in the left column to jump to posts from earlier weeks.

Please let us hear from you.
We'll look at your comments and remove anything inappropriate (hateful, abusive, explicit, etc.), before posting your replies. 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.

 We are very pleased that you are here today, and look forward to your early return.  
                                              .... Richard Rossbauer
  April 30, 2005    As of this date, Firefox has been downloaded over
                        50 million times: most recent Version is 1.0.3. If you
                        are one of the 50 million users, you may not have the
                        latest version. Do you know how to find out?

There isn't any automatic message that pops up in my Firefox browser tray to tell me when an update or vulnerability fix is available. Unlike Internet Explorer, you either have to subscribe to the email notice service from Mozilla or check for updates yourself.

Checking for updates is really quite easy.

Here's how to determine if you have the latest version - -
With your Mozilla Firefox browser open, click on Help in the top tool bar, from
the drop down menu that opens, click on About Mozilla Firefox. The version number of your browser will appear in the middle of this wildow.

If it's 1.0.3, Great! Just make a note to do this 5 second check at least weekly.

If you're not using version 1.0.3, here's how to update --

In the top tool bar again, Click on Tools.  Select Options from the drop down
menu, and Click on the ‘Advanced’ icon that looks like a gear.

Scroll down to Software Update and check both boxes. Click the Check Now button and wait a few minutes while Firefox checks for the latest updates.

If there are any, follow the simple instructions for downloading the current version.

When asked where to save the download file, I put it on the desktop. It appeared as a typical 'Set Up' icon. Clicking on it started the installation wizard
for version 1.0.3. The download was faultless and simple.

I was pleased to see that all of my previous files, links, settings, tool bar icons, etc, were unchanged. The more I use Firefox, the more I like it.
If you made the switch to Firefox because you wanted more security, don't you agree that it's really worthwhile spending a few minutes weekly to keep your Firefox up to date?

  To TOP 

  April 25, 2005      There's a lot of Buzz about how safe the Mozilla
                           Firefox browser is when compared with Microsoft's
                           Internet Explorer.

     This alert is not intended to take sides in that argument.

(I have had more than my share of intrusion problems with IE over the past few years, and to date, none with Firefox. That includes starting with Firefox BETA through their latest update).

The point of this message is that the Firefox browser does have inherent vulnerabilities as well, which, so far, have been addressed and patched by Mozilla.

And as with Internet Explorer, you - the user, are at risk if you don't update whenever a patch is made available.

The facts are just what the experts have predicted: as more and more users switch to Firefox, the target for the Hackers, virus writers and online thieves gets larger and larger.

If you are a member of that target group, assuming you are safe just because you switched is a major mistake!

Mozilla publishes a great website to keep you up to date at

It contains a list of the security vulnerabilities known to affect particular versions of Mozilla, and instructions on what users can do to protect themselves. Mozilla states that the list will be added to when new security problems are found.

And they state that it is not meant as an exhaustive list of all security-related bugs. To find technical discussions of security-related bugs, they suggest you visit Bugzilla.

The Bugzilla page lists security vulnerabilities with direct impact on users. Mozilla states that all of these vulnerabilities have been fixed prior to their most recent milestone release.

Make sure you have them fixed, too.
                                                                           .... Richard
                                                                             To TOP 
  April 23, 2005        Are PC users ready for another Operating System?
A visitor's comment on the April 1, 2005 blog posting prompted this question regarding the possibility of replacing Windows with a more secure operating system like Linux.
Without delving into a discussion of the superiority of one over the other, making such a change is unquestionably beyond the capabilities of the vast majority of Windows users.

The software maker, Novell must believe that it can be done, though, as they have recently shipped their latest bundle of Linux software for "tech savvy" home PC users. (Their earlier software releases have been developed for retailers and small businesses).

Adding one more choice for the everyday, "less tech savvy" home PC user would be overwhelming. Imagine having to choose from among a half dozen or more browsers and internet service providers and possibly three operating systems - Windows, Mac and Linux!

I'm in favor of the efforts by Novell and others in developing safer Operating Systems. I hope only that they accompany these efforts with the tools and support services to guide the everyday computer user in utilizing them.

If the installation package for Linux automatically replaces the existing operating system without destroying programs and data files, accommodates
the safest browsers, renders existing websites without problems, handles existing mail services, etc, all automatically from one installation CD or DVD, then I would brave the unknown and replace my existing Windows operating systems with Linux.  ..................  Would You?
                                                                          ... Richard
                                                                         To TOP 
  April 13, 2005         It's hard to believe so many people simply ignore
                             all of  the warnings about online security threats
 Is it because people don't want to be embarrassed by appearing uninformed in the eyes of their friends and peers?
Usually, this attitude makes a complete turnaround after they experience a computer shutdown due to virus infections, malware and nasty hacker attacks.
Then, nearly everyone is ready for some helpful education.
The real challenge is to provide that education before the fact to help avoid virus grief.
"User Education" is the focus of our Firewalls and Virus Protection website and the "Security Alert News Reporter".
Interestingly, many of the major players in the Security field feel that getting the word out about the threats could have the biggest effect in alleviating the problems with spam, adware, spyware, and other crippling or annoying exploits.
Microsoft, for example, believes that educating IM users could have a bigger impact than building better safeguards into Instant Messaging applications.
(Instant Messages containing concealed security threats is one of the latest attack mechanisms used by online criminals)

 If you are reading this post, it's probably because you care about protecting your family and yourself from these dangers. What about the rest of your friends? Are your IM and Chat Room Buddies and email friends aware of these growing threats?
How about being a participant in our "Computer Security Awareness Campaign" and spread the word to all of your friends? Nothing to buy, nothing to sell, just share your concerns for online security.

I believe we are personally remiss if we don't. How do you feel about it?

 A good place to start is the "Security Alert News Reporter" (
free subscription) or the Firewalls-and-Virus- website.
                                                                      To TOP 
  April 1, 2005      Instant messaging - If you use it, you and yours are
                             the Hacker's  newest targets

From the first days that my Firewalls-and-virus-protection website
went online over a year ago, it contained cautions on the potential
dangers lurking in chat rooms.

My grand-daughters are accomplished Internet chatters, capable of carrying on rapid fire conversations with seven or eight, or even more of their friends at the same time. Many of these are classmates they haven't seen for maybe up to
30 minutes since they all left school, or got off of the school bus together.

My major concern then was the potential of predators lurking in their chat rooms, trying to entice these teenagers into divulging personal information that could lead to all types of dangerous situations.

Alerting these young people to the threats, and reminding them of the urgent need to practice 'Safe Surfing Habits' has kept them out of harm's way so far.

But now they face even greater dangers! Ones they can't see.

During the past few months, there has been a major increase in activity by Hackers, virus writers, and online spies attacking the tools used by nearly all 'Instant Messagers' (users of Instant Messaging services).

It's no longer just the teen age 'chatters' that are in danger.

Whole families are threatened.

Chat room Buddies, good or bad were at least out in the open, although buddy names or handles were really only disguises.

The Hackers and online identity thieves don't advertise their presence, even in masquerade. They just use IM to spread viruses, spyware and trojan horses. All of which can lead to capturing personal information, Credit card and bank account numbers, and even Identity Theft.

Yahoo, AOL, and Microsoft appear to be the main targets. They seem to be making some efforts to stem the flow of poison. The News Media has been picking up on the growing dangers. I don't feel like it's enough.

My concern, and one that should be yours, is how to help the hundreds
of thousands of teen age 'chatters' become aware of what's happening to one
of their favorite pastime pursuits?

I'm sure they don't want to be responsible for endangering their families.
P.S. I'm a very concerned Grandparent with many grandchildren. I feel that this requires more than a website, newsletter or Blog. How would you spread the word to them?

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