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Posts for January, February and March 2010

March 23, 2010               WiMAX Security - Is it secure?

WiMAX may be old hat to a lot of Internet users, but there are some of us just getting onto the band wagon, so to speak.

Because high speed wireless now provides broadband access over distances approaching 30 miles, and is available on more and more laptops and mobile devices, I was curious about what makes it work, and if the possibility of threats to our security were increased in proportion to the technical advances - like the gadgets we attach to our USB ports on our laptops.

Seems as if WiMAX and EV-DO are the buzz words. If you want to know what they mean, my article on "Wireless Connectivity and Services" makes it a bit easier to understand.

As far as the threats to our security, these networks are based on Internet Protocol and are subject to the vulnerabilities of any IP network.

Some of the Security Threats Perceived or Real include

   * Rogue Base Stations
   * Denial of Service Attacks
   * Session Tampering and Highjacking

Which means to me that vigilance is still necessary even though the WiMAX developers have made major efforts to include state of the art methods for ensuring user data privacy through Advanced Encryption standards and prevention of unauthorized access.                  

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March 12, 2010  Dozens of ZeuS Botnets Knocked Offline - for awhile.

We recently discussed the ZeuS Botnets. 'Krebs on Secrity'* reported a few days ago that law enforcement and other security researchers may have been responsible for upwards of a 20 percent drop in the number of reported active ZeuS botnets.

Some of these Bot networks are reported to have as many as 20,000 to 50,000 infected computers under their command and control.

As far as it goes, this is good news, but the problem remains that the computers that were in those bot networks are still infected with the ZeuS Trojan horse that steals banking information by keystroke logging.

The ZeuS Trojan is difficult to detect and not all 'anti- protection' software will find and remove it, although installing anti-virus software and keeping it up-to-date can reduce the likelihood of a ZeuS infection by 23%.

Zeus is a financial malware. It infects consumer PCs, waits for them to log onto a list of targeted banks and financial institutions, and then steals their credentials and sends this information to a remote server in real time.

Additionally, it may inject a code into the pages rendered by your browser, so that its own content is displayed together (or instead of) the genuine pages from the bank’s web server. Thus, it is able to ask a user to divulge more personal information, such as payment card number and PIN, and one time passwords, etc.

The malicious software that installs ZeuS on victim PCs is most often distributed via spam, which frequently shows up as a spoofed e-mail from the Internal Revenue Service, Facebook, and other well-known organizations. The messages typically include a link to a site that attempts — by exploiting software vulnerabilities or by tricking the user — into installing a small program that lets the attackers seize control over the systems remotely

In an Update on Mar. 11, 2010, Zeustracker reported that more than 40 ZeuS Command and Control servers are back online! That's not good news.

Do a search for "How to Remove the ZeuS Trojan" and you'll probably not find an easy way to clean up your computer if it's infected. My belief is that the best way to fully recover is to take your machine to a professional computer service technician.
                                                                   ... Richard

*Krebs on Security

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March 1, 2010   Entertaining and educational, a timely cyber thriller

 Fatal System Error: The Hunt for the New Crime Lords Who are Bringing Down the Internet

Business Week review makes this Mystery type thriller by Joseph Menn very interesting, especially if you are even slightly concerned about protecting your assets from online crooks.

The story takes place in Russia, where the misguided antics of a young computer nerd sets the stage for "How to Hack into computers anywhere in the world and Blackmail for Money", and "How organized Russian Crime Lords added this young hacker to their family of mobsters"

While many such cyber-crooks evade capture and incarceration - British and Russian investigators eventually brought these crooks to justice - in the book.

The Business Week editors summarize this "Why the Hackers are Winning" story this way -

"Menn's real achievement is that he entertains as he educates. One reason cybercrime persists is that it's too unfathomable to the general public to generate much anger—despite the fact that experts think it could be costing that public as much as $1 trillion a year. Readers may not follow every keystroke of Menn's story, but they'll retain enough to get scared."

That last sentence is what caught my attention. It's not understanding how insidious the threats really are that leads to apathy - and to these horrendous losses.
Fatal System Error is going on my reading list              ....Richard

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February 25, 2010      More on the Kneber/Zeus botnet.

VIPRE Antivirus + AntispywareWill AntiVirus software protect my computer from this Kneber/Zeus botnet, and what does the name mean?

Kneber is simply a name that Netwitness gave to a variant of Zbot (also called Zeus.) It is not new. Sunbelt Software Company's detections for some of the earliest variants date back to late 2006.

The question has been asked, “will VIPRE™ protect me against Kneber?” VIPRE™ detections for Zbot/Zeus/Kneber have been in place for some time at Sunbelt Software Co.. VIPRE™ has been rated among the top in the AV industry.

And if you're not sure about your AV (Anti-Virus) program -
You can get your own FREE 30-day subscription to test VIPRE™ on all your PCs at home, with FREE US-based toll-free technical support 9am-9pm EST M-F at 877-673-1153

Worth a try? CLICK HERE or on the VIPRE box image                                                                                                                        ... Richard 

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February 20, 2010           About the recent Zeus Botnet activity

Over the past few days I have read a lot of media discussions and blog postings about the Kneber group of organized internet criminals and their Zeus botnets.

Much of this has been presented in technical jargon, probably boggling the minds of the average home and small business computer users.

There have even been some hints of in-fighting among the Antivirus software providers as to the seriousness of the current Zeus created botnet under the command and control of the Kneber group.

This is not the only active botnet - a recent post in the "Netwitness*" blog states that there are hundreds of active Zeus botnets with many corporate systems infected. (*Netwitness is a security firm in Virginia, USA)

As ordinary computer users and web surfers, this type of news should have a major impact on our approach to protecting our computers from Trojan intervention.

Maybe we aren't the main targets - larger businesses and corporations appear to be - but if we don't take the threats seriously, and make every effort to keep our anti-malware software current, we could well be unsuspecting accomplices of the botnet farmers.

If you use your laptop for work and personal stuff, if you save files and read your flash drives at work and at home, you could be part of the problem. And even with recently updated anti-malware, you are susceptible to infection by a virus released after your latest update.

What's my point? Nearly every user who goes online knows 'what to do', but they have to be really serious about keeping their anti-malware protection up-to-date.

                                                                                  ... Richard 
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February 2, 2010   Valentines Greetings fowm Valentine's Day: How to Send and Receive
                          e-Cards Safely

Anti-Virus software provider AVG just posted a timely Valentines Day caution . Here's their message -

 "With Valentine's Day just a few heart beats away, millions of e-cards and messages will be flying through the Internet. But these low cost, eco-friendly expressions of affection can expose your home computer to security threats.

Internet security software distributor AVG (AU/NZ) warns that criminals are using this increasingly popular medium to deliver viruses and other malware to the computers of their unsuspecting victims. Because risky e-cards are typically made to look like they have been sent from a trusted friend, they fool the recipient into opening them".

Lloyd Borrett, Marketing Manager of AVG (AU/NZ), said. "Most people will automatically open an e-card if it's from a friend or colleague. To protect yourself from unwanted attention from cyberspace be very careful what e-cards you open and what you forward on."

"While receiving an anonymous card from a Valentine can be exciting, opening an anonymous email with 'I Love You' in the subject line could be courting disaster. Don't let some nasty piece of malware worm its way into the heart of your computer."

Only a tiny percentage of e-greetings will contain a (continue reading)
                                                                                   ... Richard 

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January 30, 2010         Protecting yourself from "Net Threats"

   Just about everything we do these days seems to involve the computer and the Internet. Our mails, family contacts, children's pictures, flight reservations, medical records, work documents, and financial records have found their way into the world wide web of information.

   Making our lives easier through the use of the Internet has also made us more vulnerable to the miscreants, racketeers, and cyber-criminals of the world. 

  Identity Theft and Harrassment are some of felonies and misdemeanors that any Internet user could be a victim of. Now more than ever, we need to protect ourselves and our family from these potential attacks. Here are some tips for your Internet security.

   None of this should really be new - and probably isn't if you have made any attempt at all to protect your computer - and family. But these are good reminders, anyway.

1. Knowledge is power.
   Learn as much as you can about the Internet. Books, magazines and, of course, the Internet offer a lot of information about Internet security through websites like this one.     

   Try to learn about basic computer Internet security like firewall, anti-spyware, privacy policies, etc. Don’t fret if you can’t understand them thoroughly. As you come across more articles, you’ll gain a greater  (continue Reading)
                                                                                    ... Richard 

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January 23, 2010    Do You Know How to Recover from a Software Crash?

    We have a lot of software on our computers today. Everyone should know how to take care of their computer as well as manage the hidden dangers and avoid the risks of a crash.
    Understanding the meaning of these terms will help understand this post.
   1. Crash - When a program or your entire computer stops working and you cannot move the mouse  or use the keyboard, and the  screen is frozen.
   2. Reboot - When you restart your computer after a crash.
   3. Control Panel - A feature of Windows that will give you access to system utilities and settings.
    OK, so what should you do first if your computer crashes?
   computer software crash and recoveryTry to STOP and do nothing for a few minutes. Often, the computer is trying to do your commands and might just need a little more time to complete them. Pressing more keys could add to the computer's problems, maybe even forcing a crash.
   Check your connections for the keyboard and make sure the pins are not bent. Maybe there is a jammed key on the keyboard, maybe some liquid has spilled. Check the computer connections as well.
   Also, the mouse may just be dirty and need the inner ball that rolls cleaned with soapy water. Dry it and remove any dust in the mouse body itself and replace the mouse roller ball.
    Be sure to check the batteries in your keyboard and mouse if they connect to your computer by wireless. (Continue reading)

                                                                                               ... Richard
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January 8, 2010        Are you responding to out-of-date security advice?

InfoWorld's Security Advisor, Roger Grimes, in his Security Central December 28th 2009 post points out why yesterday's advice won't protect users from today's worms, viruses, and scams

"Yesterday's advice" is still valid - Don't click on links in emails from strangers, Keep you Operating systems up to date, have current antivirus and firewalls software, etc.

But Mr. Grimes points out that this advice falls short because it does not teach web surfers that they are likely to be infected by Web sites they trust and visit every day.

 - Further, it does not tell them that the majority of the malware threats they will be exposed to is from very official-looking Web warnings that trick them into installing software they shouldn't.

 - Does not tell them that malware purveyors often break into legitimate Web sites, which then launch malware attacks on innocent visitors using inserted JavaScript.

 - Does not tell them that official patches don't come in e-mail.

 - Does not demonstrate how to distinguish between a fake anti-virus warning and a real one.

 - Does not tell them that they can be infected by Adobe PDF, Microsoft Office, and Macromedia Flash graphic files.

 - Does not tell them about spearphishing, where the phishing attacker knows their name and the e-mail appears to come from someone inside the company and references a product or group the user is involved in.

 - Does not tell them that the top search results from their favorite search engine often brings back legitimate-looking, but very malicious Web sites.

We can't agree more with this, and even if we've heard it all before, there's a lot of good to be said for presenting these reminders

                                                                                  ... Richard

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January 1, 2010    Greeting and Best Wishes for the New Year

   I hope it will be a better year for all of us - better health, greater prosperity, and an all around safer and more secure world...

... and not just for those of us who enjoy the privileges and the freedom we have as citizens of the United States of America and other areas of the Free world,

... but also for all of the citizens of the world who are ruled in tyranny, who may lack habitable shelter, healthy and sustaining food, disease free water, opportunities to be educated and better themselves, a chance to live as free human beings.
                                     ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
   Here's the latest word I found on Free Anti-virus software. It's the result of tests reported by Charles P. Jefferies, Contributor on four free products. They report all are good, and rank them as follows.

  Avast, Microsoft Security Essentials(*), AVG(*), and Avira

  I use two of them(*) on my computers and am absolutely satisfied with their performance.              
                                                                         ... Richard 

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Don't hesitate to express your views and opinions on my Security Alert Blog and Cyber Security Alert postings (easily done by clicking on the highlighted 'COMMENT' |  at each post. Watch for postings on fraud alerts, virus alerts, worm alerts, Internet Security alerts, security scams, parental controls, online predators, net security, and more. Be sure to visit our Firewalls-and-Virus Protection website for even more help


Evergreen      Free report - "Avoiding Current Security Threats"

   There are still some unresolved issues with the Conficker worm and Cyber criminals are flooding the Internet with bogus "Anti Virus and Anti Spyware" programs designed to steal your personal information, add your computers to world wide "botnets", and generally prey on unsuspecting web surfers with unprotected computers.

   But you can take steps to avoid these security threats, and I have outlined them in a special report you can have for Free.

   This report is an update and a bit of an overview of the information published in my newsletters, blog and websites.

   It covers the basics of what to look for and how to prepare your computer to avoid the next high risk threat. It's a quick download (PDF file) which you can obtain by going to the registration page and leaving your email address so that the download instructions can be sent to your email inbox.

   Get Free Report here and share this web address with your friends so the emails you get from them are clean and free of malware.
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Evergreen      Update your Emergency Virus Protection program

Free mcAfee STINGER backup virus scanner and removerIf you don't have your Virus Protection program yet, here's an Emergency Step you should take, Right Now!
 McAfee offers a FREE Virus Scanning program named

  It has grown in size a little over the past few years and no longer fits on a single floppy Disk. But so many of the newer PCs, including lap tops don't have a "A" floppy drive anyway, you should burn it to a CD or memory stick for an offline back up tool.

  You can use it as we do, to check any of your PC computers for viruses, without being on line.

  It is an 'After the Fact' application, which means that it does not scan incoming email files, attachments or downloads, but it does scan whatever you have already received online.

  It currently checks, and repairs over 200 recent viruses. It's FREE to download from McAfee

 Stinger - Click for Latest Version  
                                                                                                       ... Richard



More Tags:Internet Safety Rules,  kids Internet safety , parenting teenagers,
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Firewalls, Keyloggers,  Disaster Recovery,
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