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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
  February 26, 2005             Part 2 of "Which Browser should you

Did you read the February 24 post on browser choices? There's a similar discussion running at TechRepublic™...

... with more MS bashing and some nasty exchanges among a few of the
respondents who seem to be trying to out-shout each other. There are visitors
there who are more sincere about learning than the self-aggrandizing egotists,
who seem more interested in showing off.

Some of us follow these forums to learn. We have questions, and even
opinions based on our limited experiences. Why ask them or even participate
only to be insulted by the bullies? (I doubt that TechRepublic
™ really wants this type of participation).

However, in spite of the unpleasant exchanges, there is helpful advice here, too.

    .... Richard
  February 24, 2005            Which Browser should you have?

There's a great debate going on at™ about the Mozilla FireFox browser versus the Internet Explorer IE6 and the upcoming IE7 version from Bill Gates.

Take a look by going to

The Browser debate appears to have started in response to an article titled "Do You Really Trust Bill Gates?" Comments on the article reflect many expert opinions as well as personal likes and dislikes, and maybe even some envy
of Mr. Gates.

However, I believe the real value of the exchanges is in reading the Pro's and Con's of each Company's browsers.

I'm not so sure that the opinions and accusations expressed will really help anyone decide which browser they should or shouldn't have, but they will definitely help us understand why the decision can be so difficult to make.

If you are at the point of having to make such a decision, there's background information here that you might have to spend a lot of time accumulating if you were searching for it on your own.
                                                                                 .... Richard
                                                                         To TOP 
  February 19, 2005    The frustration of being a minute too late

Have you ever been frustrated and angry over missing your train or plane flight by a minute because a schedule was changed and you could have avoided the grief if someone had told you in advance?

A virus infection or spyware intrusion can create a similar feeling of frustration.

You can be a minute late in updating your virus and spyware protection and suffer the consequences. The rogue-ware purveyors don't tell anyone when they are going to release a new pest, they just do it, hoping they'll catch a bunch of us off-guard.

There's a battle going on between the bad guy virus writers and the good guy security software providers -- and we're in the line of fire. With hundreds of new virus and worm variants being released monthly, random updating of our protection software can leave us vulnerable.

An ideal shield or defense plan would find us updating our security programs on a minute by minute schedule -- unrealistic and impractical. We need help.

Automatic updating by our security software providers is probably the best defense that we can expect at the present time.

Fortunately, with McAfee's recent announcement that they are going to provide automatic updates on a daily basis, and the similar programs in place by a few  of the other major providers, our level of defense is being increased.

Great, but only if we're using the security software furnished by the providers who are making daily updates available. It's not a perfect solution but it is a step in the right direction.

So, what's the message?
     1.  Anti-virus, firewall, and anti-malware programs are only as good as their latest update!
     2. When selecting your security software provider, chose one that provides
the most frequent updates that are automatically downloaded to your computer.
     3. Be aware that outdated protection software doesn't do much more than take up space on your hard drive.

                                                                     .... Richard
                                                                        To TOP 
  February 16, 2005    Microsoft's IE7 to the Rescue? Well, maybe

For years, Internet Explorer has been my browser of choice, just as it has been for millions of other Internet users. But one day it was hijacked, and even though the CWS.mrhop worm that did it was squelched, my IE6 browser has never seemed to be quite the same.

I installed the Netscape browser and used it most of the time, even electing to make it my browser of choice. It worked quite satisfactorily except when the Microsoft programs that I use decided to select IE6 instead of Netscape.

I really preferred IE6 because it was so familiar, and when not influenced by unknown worms, it easily did what I needed it to do. The Netscape learning curve wasn't too steep, my favorites transferred from IE6, the desktop display was ok, but I missed some of the old familiar tool bar, and other IE6 features.

Then along came Mozilla and I added the beta version to my growing list of browsers. Sometimes I used it, but was very cautious playing with a Beta version. When the Mozilla Group released Firefox 1, it too became a member of my browser family. (Because of my interest in computer security, the browsers I used and tested include IE6, Netscape 7.1 & .2, Firefox 1, Compuserve and AOL 9.0 - security version, a topic for future discussion)

After a few months of getting familiar, I recently made the decision to name
Firefox 1 my "Browser by Default".

It worked ok and presented some good features, but it had a few annoying problems, too.

I did not attempt to completely remove the Internet Explorer because it seemed
to be a nearly insurmountable task, and I had no idea what kinds of troubles would
show up if I did.

But Today, February 16, 2005 I learned that Microsoft is on the verge or releasing IE7! I felt a wave of relief and excitement.

Certainly, the Microsoft software engineers are equally as talented as those from Netscape and the Mozilla Group. I feel confident, and am placing my bet on IE7 being at least equal to the best that Netscape and Mozilla currently offer, and possibly even better.

The virus writers, hackers and other enemies of Microsoft and all of the rest of us are certainly going to increase their attacks on Microsoft. I don't expect IE7 to be a perfect answer to eliminating viruses and spyware, but neither will Netscape and Firefox ever be.

With the awsome number of people downloading Firefox, it could soon become a major target for the malefactors of malware distribution.

I'm ready to take my chances with Mr. Gates again.

Are you?
                                                                         .... Richard
                                                       To TOP                                   
  February 13, 2005    Some Tips on protecting your online security
                               while traveling in the USA and abroad

After reading a fascinating eBook about how to travel really 'cheap' but comfortably, I wrote to the Author, Victor K. Pryles and asked how he protected his online security during his travels.

He granted me this interview. You can download this small zip file HERE. 
(I suggest saving it to your desktop and unzip it using Winzip or similar tools)

If you are even a sometime traveler, Victor's tips not only cover computer safety,
they include first hand advice on maintaining personal safety and security while on the road, high seas, and in the air.

I consider Victor to be a professional world traveler. He is also a radio broadcaster,
media consultant, author, newsletter editor and publisher. He's been around!

It was his book, "Travel Cheap - Travel Well, Confessions of a traveling Pauper"
that prompted me to ask for this interview. I'm glad I did because of the wealth of experience and travel knowledge he willingly shared.

You can also benefit from it by reading this interview.

                                                                                  .... Richard
                                                                           To TOP
  February 6, 2005     Oh No. Not another Warning about Online

Are you getting tired of being told you must "do this" and you must "get that" so you'll be safe online? Is everyone telling you the same thing?

Are you reading the same messages over and over again in newsletters, in ads from the security software providers, from eBook sellers, etc.?

Have you ever had a Hacker put a Trojan horse worm, virus or spyware in your computer?

If you missed the grief and frustration of these intrusions and attacks, you either have good solid protection, or you're been just plain lucky, so far.

A friend just called for help because she suddenly started getting un-ending popups, odd messages, undesirable websites showing up on her monitor, her computer slowed to a crawl and she was unable to update her anti-virus and spyware sweeping programs.

She said she was aware that her protection programs were important and that they required updating, but things had been going along smoothly for her so she hardly ever thought of updating anything.

Her words were "You really don't know how bad those internet bugs can be until they bite you".

Ok, most of us know that our virus protection has to be updated often - very often! Is daily too much? That's certainly an ideal approach but who can remember to do it? Most of the the anti-virus software providers include automatic updates with their services, so you don't have to remember to do it yourself.

Spyware detection and destruction software providers also offer automatic updates, even for many of their free programs.

Don't overlook keeping your operating systems up-to-date, too. Microsoft Company alerts its Windows users when security patches are required, even Mozilla has released a few.

Firewall programs are not exempt. Some of the software providers make
sure your Firewall programs are current by sending and downloading automatic updates, etc.

To reduce the harassment of spam filled mail boxes, most email programs and service providers help you set up the filters built into their email software. They also do preliminary filtering for you before your mail ever reaches your inbox. That may not be perfect, but it often keeps virus infected email attachments out of your computer.

It really is necessary to "do this" and "get that" if you don't want to be bitten by the computer virus bugs.

The "do this" list includes regular updating of the security software already on your computers. Internet services from AOL (the new 9.0 Security version), Earthlink, Msn, compuserve, etc., that include virus and spam filters are a good start, as is WinXP, with its built in firewalls and virus protection.

The "Get This" list must include the items necessary to complete you basic defense tools and arsenal.

If you don't have a Firewall, anti-virus software, spyware sweepers, and spam filters, you should get them and install them as quickly as possible. Check out
our website for recommendations and download links.

If you are uncertain about doing this yourself, read the newsletters, such as our
Security Alert News Reporter (read recent issue), and advice available at many websites. Do a Google or Yahoo search for instructions or ask your friends for help.

Try to get assistance from the people who have been able to avoid virus grief and frustration because they installed security software and kept their protection tools up-to-date. They should know how to help you.

So Yes, this is another warning about online security.
                                                                      To TOP
  February 1, 2005     More about Students' use of a keylogger to steal
                             test answers from Teacher

Here's a response to my January 23rd posting that raises some interesting points that I wanted to share with all of our Blog readers.

I wrote:
Is this the beginning of a career of cheating and theft for these young people, or does it reflect a degeneration of today's moral standards?

Patrick Carr responded --
Concerning the kids with the keylogger device--sure, it's cheating and they
need to take responsibility for it. But let's not stop with them. How about
an educational system so involved in rote learning and testing, that
cheating becomes a creative outlet for intelligent people. Think of the
sense of accomplishment those kids had upon successfully gathering test
answers, probably more than they ever received from answering a question
correctly on a test.

Again, they must take responsibility for their actions, but so do institutions unwilling to take a creative approach to education. And in this particular situation,
I wonder who it is that needs to be tested.

-Patrick Carr
Imaging and Design

I wonder if this is why the juvenile, and older virus and spyware writers engage in their deceitful and nefarious behavior. Is it just to satisfy their 'creative' needs? What do you think?   ........... Richard


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