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  July 26, 2006     Keylogger Concerns - our third weekly 'Security Review-Day’ 

One day each week devoted to a specific security issue - to remind all of us Internet and Computer users about keeping our defenses intact and current.
A keylogger is a program that runs in your computer’s background secretly recording all your keystrokes. Once your keystrokes are logged, they are hidden away for later retrieval by the attacker. The attackers then carefully review the information in hopes of finding passwords or other information that would prove useful to them. For example, a keylogger can easily obtain confidential emails and reveal them to any interested outside party willing to pay for the information.

Keyloggers can be either software or hardware based. Software-based keyloggers are easy to distribute and infect, but at the same time are more easily detectable. Hardware-based keyloggers are more complex and harder to detect. For all that you know, your keyboard could have a keylogger chip attached where anything being typed is recorded into a flash memory sitting inside your keyboard. Keyloggers have become one of the most powerful applications used for gathering information in a world where encrypted traffic is becoming more and more common.
As keyloggers become more advanced, the ability to detect them becomes more difficult. They can violate a user’s privacy for months, or even years, without being noticed. During that time frame, a keylogger can collect a lot of information about the user it is monitoring. A keylogger can potentially obtain not only passwords and log-in names, but credit card numbers, bank account details, contacts, interests, web browsing habits, and much more. All this collected information can be used to steal user’s personal documents, money, or even their identity.
Not all keyloggers are used for illegal purposes. Keyloggers have been used to monitor web sites visited as a means of parental control over children. They have been actively used to prevent child pornography and avoid children coming in contact with dangerous elements on the web. Are the children being spied upon? Yes. Should they be aware of the existence of surveillance software on the family computers, or on their own computers? This is a ‘Parental Decision’.
The legitimacy of their applications depends upon the intent of the individuals who caused them to be implanted on a given computer.
Employers use them to monitor their employees’ use of company computers on company time, often as a deterrent to loss of production by visits to pornographic websites, unauthorized instant messaging, email joke exchanges, visiting chat rooms, etc. All of these activities have the potential of infecting the Employer’s computer systems with viruses, worms, and malicious trojans which could lead to loss of Confidential Company information.
Are they legitimate? Employers have the right to protect themselves from possible legal problems, loss of production, damaged reputations, complete shutdown of their computer networks, etc. All of these, and more, can happen from an employee’s unauthorized use of Company equipment.
Consider the application of Spyware for monitoring failing relationships. It is used by Spouses, Lovers, and Life Partners to monitor Instant Message logs, Chat Room visits, and email messages. (Even without Spyware, many of these records are already hidden in your computer files). Spyware does a better job of recording every keystroke made by a suspected partner.
Is it legal? Is it Fair? Many times these answers, and their consequences, are determined in ensuing Court Room events.

More Information:Software Keylogger, Hardware Keylogger
, TrojanHorse

      To TOP

  July 23, 2006    MySpace targeted to sucker punch millions of its unsuspecting
                           members with a drive-by Trojan infection

Drive-by downloads install backdoor Trojans without having to click a button, text link, or accept a program with a legitimate sounding name. Just landing on
a page with the booby trap is often enough to trigger the download.
In an article by Jessica Dolcourt, Assistant Editor at, Ms. Dolcourt makes two very important points in addition to highlighting the negative effect to MySpace's trustworthiness:
     1. there are still plenty of people who haven't installed their current security
         updates from Microsoft. (Reminder - they're free!)
     2. scammers and online criminals are targeting high-traffic Web sites.
Apparently, a phony ad banner located at the top of the MySpace screen carried the Trojan. The question, of course, is how were the clever spyware writers able to place their ad on a site so trusted by millions of users?
Even if you aren't active in the many online communities like MySpace, this article vividly points out the need to keep your security programs and operating systems up-to-date.

Read Ms. Dolcourt's Article HERE.

                                                                        ... Richard

  To TOP

  July 20, 2006        Trojan Horses - our Second weekly 'Security Review-Day’ 
One day each week devoted to a specific security issue - to remind all of us Internet and Computer users about keeping our defenses intact and current.
A Trojan Horse is a destructive program that masquerades as a harmless application. Unlike viruses, Trojan Horses do not replicate themselves, but they can be just as destructive. One of the most dangerous examples of a Trojan is a program that promises to rid your computer of viruses but instead introduces viruses into your computer.
The Trojan can be tricky. It can cause an advertisement to pop up claiming to be able to rid your computer of some nasty virus. Or, even more frightening, it can have an email sent to you that claims to be alerting you to a new virus that can threaten your computer. The emai promises to quickly eradicate, or protect, your computer from viruses if you simply download a “free”, attached software into your computer.
You may be skeptical but the software looks legitimate and the company sounds reputable. You proceed to take them up on their offer and download the software. In doing so, you have just potentially exposed yourself to a massive headache and your computer to a laundry list of ailments.
What else might happen when a Trojan is activated? Some Trojans are more annoying than malicious. Some of the less annoying Trojans may choose to change your desktop settings or add silly desktop icons. The more serious Trojans can erase or overwrite data on your computer, corrupt files, spread other malware such as viruses, spy on the user of a computer and secretly report data like browsing habits to other people, log keystrokes to steal information such as passwords and credit card numbers, phish for bank account details (which can be used for criminal activities), and even install a backdoor into your computer system so that they can come and go as they please.
To increase your odds of not encountering a Trojan, follow these guidelines.
1. Remain diligent. Trojans can infect your computer through rogue websites, instant messaging, and emails with attachments. Do not download anything into your computer unless you are 100 percent sure of its sender or source.
2. Ensure that your operating system is always up-to-date. If you are running a Microsoft Windows operating system, this is essential. (and just as important for Firefox, Opera and others).
3. Install reliable anti-virus software and download all updates frequently to catch new Trojan Horses, viruses, and worms. Be sure that the anti-virus program(s) that you choose can also scan incoming and out-going-emails and files.
4. Install a firewall. A firewall prevents unauthorized use and access to your computer. It’s not going to eliminate your computer virus problems, but when used in conjunction with regular operating system updates and reliable anti-virus software, it can provide additional security and protection for your computer.
Nothing can guarantee the security of your computer 100 percent. However, you can continue to improve your computer's security and decrease the possibility of infection by consistently following these guidelines

More Information: Trojan, Firewalls
More blogs about TrojanHorse.


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  July 16, 2006    SPAM, it keeps coming! Where's it coming from? Will it ever end?

Sunbelt Software Company's Antispam expert Allan McDaniel, developer for the consumer version of iHateSpam, reported these four latest trends in spam during an interview posted in the Company's Newsletter.
The first source he mentioned - most spam now comes from zombie computers.
A zombie computer is a computer attached to the Internet that has been compromised by a security cracker, a computer virus, or a trojan horse. Generally, a compromised machine is only one of many in a "botnet ", and is used to perform malicious tasks under remote direction. Most owners of zombie computers are unaware that their system is being used this way.
The zombie code can access the address book and send legitimate looking email to the zombie machine owner's friends.
The second trend is the increase in the amount of image spam - spam that contains an image instead of text. The spammer's message is contained in the graphic image instead of text so that there is no practical way to try and detect spam by looking at the contents of the email.
The amount of image spam is currently around 5% - 10% of the total amount of spam.
Mr. McDaniel expects to see this increase to 20% - 30% in the next year or two.
In my opinion, the third trend - phishing- is the most threatening. Phishing sites are so good that many are hard to detect. Mr. McDaniel has seen a dramatic rise in the amount of phish email in the past 6 months. He expects to see that increase continue because there is so much money to be made with very little effort or risk.
I doubt that many Internet users are aware of the fourth trend. It's phoney "returned email". There has been a marked increase, especially with those that show an attachment. It is particularly nasty because an attachment on a returned email doesn't seem abnormal or unexpected.
Some undelivered email with attachments contain spam or a link to a malware site instead of the original email message. Mr. McDaniel warns us to be real careful to make sure that the "bounce" (rejected email) is actually something that we sent. If it isn't, it's very likely that our machine is infected.
In the interview, Mr. McDaniel reminds us how to keep spam to a minimum -
1. NEVER EVER open any email that looks suspicious. If you don't recognize the sender - it's suspicious.
2. Use a good spam filter. No spam filter is perfect so you should probably use at least two different brands.
3. NEVER click on the "unsubscribe" link in emails.
4.  Maintain at least one disposable email account. Get one from Hotmail or Gmail and use it on web sites that require you to become a member. You can discard these after a while and get new ones

Valuable reminders from an expert and excellent advice on the use of spam filters.
More Information:
on SPAM, Internet Junk Mail
                                                                                           ... Richard


   To TOP

  July 12, 2006          Fighting Off Viruses - Our first 'Security Review-Day’

I am simplifying the important Security issues by breaking the volume of Safety information into smaller, easier to read and understand chunks to remind all of us Internet and Computer users about keeping our defenses intact and current.
Fighting off Viruses - Advancements in Antivirus Software Suites
Protecting your computer from a virus is getting harder and harder each day. While it may border on the paranoid, it goes without saying that you can’t leave your guard down for one second.
In the “good old days”, before the advent of the Internet and downloadable programs, life was simple in terms of computer viruses. With the primary way in which a virus could be transmitted being limited to floppy disks, the ability to catch and eradicate the virus was a lot easier.
Actually, computer users were pretty savvy on how to protect themselves in terms of scanning all floppy disks before copying them to our desktop.
The Internet helped change all that. It provided a way that viruses could move from host to host with lightening speed. No longer could a computer user just worry about floppy disks as points of entry, but they now had to worry about email, email attachments, peer-to-peer file sharing, instant messaging, and software downloads.
Today’s viruses can attack through multiple entry points, spread without human intervention, and take full advantage of vulnerabilities within a system or program. With technology advancing everyday, and the convergence of computers with other mobile devices, the potential of new types of threats also increase.
Protecting Your Computer
Luckily, the advancement of antivirus software is keeping pace with current virus threats. Antivirus software is essential to a computer’s ability to fend off viruses and other malicious programs. These programs are designed to prevent a virus from entering a computer through email, web browsers, file servers and desktops.
Computer users should remain diligent and follow a few simple steps to protect against virus threats:
      1. Evaluate  current computer security systems. With the threat of a new generation of viruses able to attack in a multitude of ways, the approach of having just one antivirus software version has become outdated. You need to be confident that you have protected all aspects of your computer system from the desktop to the network, and from the gateway to the server. Consider a more comprehensive security system which includes antivirus, firewall, content filtering, and intrusion detection. This type of system will make it more difficult for the virus to penetrate your system.

     2. Only install antivirus software created by well-known, reputable companies. Because new viruses erupt daily, it’s important that you regularly update antivirus software. Become familiar with the software’s real-time scan feature and configure it to start automatically each time you boot your computer. This will protect your system by automatically checking your computer each time it is powered up.
     3. Make it a habit to always scan all new programs or files no matter where they come from.
     4. Exercise caution when opening binary, Word, or Excel documents of unknown sources, especially if they were received during an online chat or as an attachment to an email.
     5. Perform regular backups in case your system is corrupted. It may be the only way to recover your data if infected.
More Information: Virus Infection Symptoms, Virus Hoaxes, Virus Protection,
 Virus RemovalVirus-Free Computer, Data Recovery
Your Comments Please - Did you find this Reminder Helpful?

  To TOP

  July 9, 2006   2006 Security Watch - What does the rest of the year have
                     in store for us? What are we going to do about it?

There is a lot going on in the information security space. 2006 has proven to be an interesting year so far. Here are some things to watch for during the balance of year, some of them are good and, unfortunately, some aren’t.
Good news First:
- We’re getting a lot more serious about our security. There are a lot of reasons for this. For example, new privacy laws are mandating organizations to tighten their security. Look to see more consumer privacy laws passed in the coming year and more tightening of security systems.
- Authentication requirements are increasing - closing in large security holes. Corporations are requiring a great deal more of authentication to get into secure systems (this also is on the bad news side)
- There is a mass of sophisticated programs to help us be more secure and they will continue to get better. Competition right now is strong in the security industry sparking a lot of innovation.
- ISPs (Internet Service Providers) are taking on more responsibility to help with our online security.
Now the bad news:
- Spammers keep finding more creative ways to fill our email boxes. Don't look for this trend to stop anytime soon.
- Hackers are getting more sophisticated. For example, Botnets are becoming more complex and harder and harder to catch and stop. Do a search on botnets on the Internet. They really are causing a whole lot of problems, but it doesn’t stop there. The number of viruses and malware out there is staggering.
- Securing our networks is costing us. Most companies are globalizing their organizations and making them secure - costing a lot of money. It will get worse before it gets better.
- Authentication requirements are increasing. This is getting claustrophobic. Corporations are requiring a great deal more authentication to get into secure systems (This is also on the good news side). Unfortunately, for the end user, it is one more thing to be unhappy about, not unlike airport security lines.
What are we going to do about all of this?
I doubt that there are many people using the Internet who haven’t heard time and again how important it is to build and maintain their personal defenses against these problems.
Maybe they’ve heard it so often that it’s become overwhelming to some, and just plain background noise to others. Possibly, there’s too much detail involved to encourage people to take action.
... and Possibly, simplifying the important issues and breaking the volume of Safety information into smaller, easier to read and understand chunks will remind Internet and Computer users to keep their defenses intact and current.
We’re going to find out if this works.
For the next few months, I'm going to post short Security ‘Review-Day’ Reminders once a week on the Firewalls and Virus Protection Security Alert Blog. Watch for them every Wednesday or Thursday. I promise to keep them Brief, Useful, and To-the-Point.



  July 7, 2006        A recent article in the New York Times about Identity Theft
                          was a real "eye-opener".

It was an interview with a 20 year old (from his prison cell) who stole $150,000 in cash and merchandise over a 2 year period using email solicitations and phony websites.

Commonly known as phishing, it's just one of the many ways Shiva Sharma was able to rob dozens of people of their money. For computer-savvy thieves like Mr. Sharma, the Internet provided the means for stealing identity and account information and a place to use it.

The New York Times article describes how his career of Hacking grew from spending time just surfing online to frequenting Chat rooms where instructions and tools for harvesting  peoples email addresses could be purchased.

He eventually acquired 100,000 or so of these addresses and sent phishing emails that looked like official AOL requests to re-confirm billing information and a lot of other personal information. He concentrated on AOL users because he felt they were most likely to be new to the Internet and less knowledgeable about online Identity Theft tricks.

Many of the AOL subscribers who received these phony requests did respond, and they're the ones whose identities were used to fill Mr. Sharma's pockets with thousands of dollars of stolen money!

But AOL subscribers are not the only Internet users under attack. We all are, and we're just as likely to get these phony phishing spam emails as anyone else. The cyber criminals are very adept at creating new ploys to seduce and trap us.

All the more reason to learn all you can about their methods. Forewarned is Forearmed.  The
"MASTER E-COURSE in IDENTITY THEFT and OTHER SCAMS" will fully arm you with all of the vital information you need to secure your identity, know where to turn, what to do, and how to respond if you ever have the sad misfortune of becoming a victim. Sign up for your free eCourse in the July 1 post below.

Read the full New York Times article HERE. It'll probably be an "Eye Opener" for you, too.
                                                                                          ... Richard


  July 4, 2006                              My Web Surfing Pet Peeve

As I sit here enjoying the American holiday celebration of the beginning of our Independence, I'm enjoying the day lazily surfing the Internet. But I'm also getting a bit annoyed.
Are you like so many of us other web surfers? Do you
Read a lot of stuff online?
Subscribe to a lot of newsletters about your top interests?
Get many invitations in your email inbox to read or subscribe
to other information sources?
How about invitations to buy stuff?

I get all of those, too; many from addresses I don't recognize.
If the Subject line looks interesting, there's a possibility that the message might be of interest, too. (It did get through the Spam filters).
Then, if the message sparks my interest enough to read through to the end, I might consider taking the action encouraged by the sender.
But! I'm immediately turned off after scrolling down to find out who sent the message and there is no full name.
I want to know who I'm dealing with.
"Joe", "Jim", "Mary", "Sigfried", from a stranger is not enough to begin to build my trust.
"Your Friend", "GetRichQuick LLC", "" and similar signatures are even a bigger turn off.
In addition to that, they make me suspicious. Am I being Spammed or Scammed, set up for a Trojan Horse intrusion, or some other malicious attack?
CLICK DELETE. The question is resolved - and the sender lost an opportunity to share their information, sign up a new subscriber, or possibly even make a sale of stuff I could use.
Does this bother you, too? What's your web surfing pet peeve? Care to Comment?
                                                                                ... Richard Rossbauer

:, , More blogs about Peeve.
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  July 1, 2006 (Repeated)     A breach in your personal privacy protection could easily lead to  hackers, online, and offline thieves stealing your identity.

The threat of Identity Loss exists on more than the Internet. The potential for the theft of our identities is everywhere around us. Read on to learn how you can protect yourself- for Free.
Nearly everyone is aware that Identity Theft is a serious crime and that people whose identities have been stolen can spend months or years - and their hard-earned money - cleaning up the mess thieves have made of their good name and credit record.
Despite our best efforts to manage the flow of personal information or to keep it to ourselves, skilled Identity Thieves use a variety of methods to gain access to our personal data.
Can we fight back? Yes! One of the best ways is to be informed of the tricks and ploys used by Identity Theft criminals and to understand how they attack. Forewarned is Forearmed!
And you can be fully armed with all of the vital information you need to secure your identity, know where to turn, what to do, and how to respond if you ever have the sad misfortune of becoming a victim.
There's a lot to know, and you can learn it from our Free

With the generous assistance of Victor K Pryles, a popular media consultant, radio broadcaster, publisher and Author, we developed this e-course to arm  you, your family and your friends against the devastating consequences of Identity Theft
It really does cover everything you need to know to protect yourselves.
In fact, it is so meaty with USEFUL, VITAL information each lesson only arrives every four days - so you can implement what you learn AS YOU GO THRU THE LESSONS. There are eight lessons, in total.
After taking this Free course, you'll be protected, wise, savvy and safe, because you'll learn
     * How Identity Theft Occurs
     * How to prepare your defenses
     * How to tell if you're a victim
     * Immediate steps for victims to take
     * Where and How to get your free Credit Reports
       ... and so much more
To start this course immediately, simply send a blank email to
This is a Free course for followers of my Security Alert Blog, newsletter and website and you will not get any commercial announcements after registering for it.
After you send your blank email, you will be sent a CONFIRMATION email. Click the link inside to start your E-Course. This way, no one can sign you up without your knowledge.

I do hope you sign-up and share it with your family and friends. You can print each lesson and have your own hard copy of the manual, or you might prefer to share the email address above so your friends can get their own lessons. It's Free to them, too.

If you would like the Premium Audio version of "Identity Theft & Other Scams" please visit:  Thank you.
                                                                                ..... Richard Rossbauer

PS. When you receive your first lesson, Victor will give you a Complimentary copy of: "The Top 501 Most Inspirational Quotes!" from his "ilovebooks" book club. In the meantime, you might like to check out some of his other inspiring books in his Author's Den



     SQUASH the Bug

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  I'd like to 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.

                                            .... Richard Rossbauer

July 1, 2006 (UPDATED)   
Use RSS Readers to add current Web Feeds to
                             automatically update  your daily reading lists


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.   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      
 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 browser is expected to refer to these as "Web Feeds.")
After you put the first Web Feed into you RSS Feed Reader and have up-to-date notices delivered to you without worry about opening an email notice, you'll appreciate how great this RSS stuff really is. Try It. You'll enjoy it!.

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