Tag Archives: Virus

Are You Safe Surfing the Internet?

McAfee just released their annual report talking about the dangers of surfing the Internet. In the report they highlighted the most “dangerous” online celebrities.

Fans searching for “Jessica Biel” or “Jessica Biel downloads,” “Jessica Biel wallpaper,” “Jessica Biel screen savers,” “Jessica Biel photos” and “Jessica Biel videos” have a one in five chance of landing at a Web site that’s tested positive for online threats, such as spyware, adware, spam, phishing, viruses and other malware. Searching for the latest celebrity news and downloads can cause serious damage to one’s personal computer.

I know McAfee is a provider of anti-virus/malware software so they have a lot to gain by going public with this report. But software alone doesn’t make it less dangerous.

I’ve talked to a number of people who don’t worry about viruses or malware because they are using a anti-virus program and think they are safe. I even know someone who goes to sites to download music knowing that most of the downloads are infected (they get warning messages from their anti-virus program all the time). They think their anti-virus program will protect them.

No software on your computer can protect you completely. Operating systems are very complex and WILL contain bugs that hackers can exploit. Once vendors know about these holes they do try to patch them but it may be too late for some users. Anti-virus/malware programs try to protect you but they may not always be up-to-date or in some cases are not able to detect/fix the problem.

In the past most viruses/malware were spread by email attachments or clicking links in emails. Now, you can be infected by going to the wrong website. These sites take advantage of bugs/holes in the operating system or in applications like Adobe PDF reader, Flash player, etc. A while back there was a flaw in Windows where all you had to do was go to a website with an inflected photo, and your machine was infected. No piece of software on your computer would have protected you from that.

What can you do to keep from getting infected and stay safe? Buy a Mac (just kidding). Mac users don’t have the same issues with viruses and malware but that could change. Apple has put out a number of security patches for Mac OS 10.5 lately and there are rumors that they will include anti-virus software in the upcoming release of Snow Leopard. Reports on viruses for the Mac have been few but that may change as the number of users grow and hackers refocus their attacks.

So here are my tips to keep your computer safe (for both Windows and Mac):

  1. Keep your computer Operating System (OS) up-to-date. Don’t disable or put off updates your OS vendor sends. Chances are they are patching a problem that is currently being exploited.
  2. Keep your applications up-to-date. In the past you may have put off updating to the latest Adobe Reader because you didn’t see any problems with the one you’re using. Now the update may include a security fix too.
  3. Don’t click on unknown links. Be careful clicking on links in emails or social sites (like Twitter and Facebook). If your bank sends you an email saying there is a problem with your account and says “click here,” close the email and enter the bank’s website address yourself so you know you’re going to the right place.
  4. Don’t go to risky sites. Some browsers (i.e. Firefox) use a list of infected sites and will warn you if you about to go there. Google search does the same. http://googleonlinesecurity.blogspot.com/
  5. Be careful when you get a message box saying that a program wants permission to install or access one of your computer’s resources. Don’t blindly hit Yes/Ok unless you know that is what you want to do.
  6. Don’t believe message boxes that pop up when you go to a new website. A common popup is a warning that your computer is infected and you need to click this link to run a scan of your computer or download a program to remove the infection. Generally, the program you download (and install) IS the infection! Once, I ran this scan on my Mac and it told me my Windows computer was infected with a virus.
  7. Don’t reuse passwords. A lot of sites require you to sign up for an account and create a password. Don’t use your email account password for your online banking account. Get a program to manage your passwords and use a different password for each site. Most of these password programs will generate a long random password that can’t be guessed. (I use 1Password for the Mac, and Personal Passworder for Windows.)
  8. When going to secure sites, like banks or sites to purchase items, make sure you have a secure secure connection when you are about to enter sensitive information (i.e. credit card number, password, etc.). You should  look for the small padlock symbol at the bottom of your browser window and make sure the URL to the site begins with HTTPS, indicating that you are using a SSL (Secured Sockets Layer) connection. The URL should match what you are expecting. If you go to the Bank of America website make sure the URL shows  https://www.bankofamerica.com and not .

I know the above list doesn’t cover everything that you should do to keep your computer safe, but I think it’s a good start.

If you’re a regular to Geek News Central, you most likely know what to do and what not to do to be safe. Do your family and friends a favor and send them a link to this post or, at the very least, talk to them about how to be safe on the Internet.

73’s, Tom

Real or Imagined Threats?

Some news reports out today are leading the public to believe that the April 1st threat of Conficker has been a whole lot of nothing. Yes, the worm had a trigger date to take over machines on the 1st, and for machines that weren’t protected, that takeover happened. I’m currently working with a friend of my son’s on one of the computers in her household that ended up being infected with Conficker. For most people, because their machines were patched and their virus programs up to date, no problems were noted.

So of course follows lots of commentary about how everything was blown out of proportion, ala Y2K.

I completely disagree. In my mind, it is because of the publicity and news reports that the Conficker worm had less purchase and effect overall. People were paying attention, and they were making sure their machines were clean. If they didn’t know how, they tagged a geek who did, and made sure they were ready for this particular threat. Just because we were prepared for the threat doesn’t mean it was any less of a threat. There are still machines out there that are infected and will need to be addressed, but I believe the threat is a whole lot lower mainly because people were aware and doing what the needed to do to keep from being infected.

I know, sometimes to the rest of the world we geeks are running around hollaring about viruses and worms and oh-my-gosh-it’s-the-end-of-the-world, but the fact is, if we didn’t take these things seriously, there’d be even worse threats and worse infections turning machines into zombies for us.

This weekend I imagine I’ll spend a couple of hours trying to come up with a fix for my son’s friend’s machine. I’d rather have talked to a few people about the worm and how they should be protecting themselves, than spending my weekends and evenings fixing problems that could have been avoided with a little prevention.

Of course, on this blog, I’m preaching to the choir, aren’t I?

CES 2008 SmartRestart Software Information

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GNC-2007-09-18 #303

Back to normal show lengths here. This show is packed from end to end and I talk a little bit about my iPhone unlocking experience and T-Mobile Edge Slowness

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Show Notes:
Google Presntation
Proxy Server Operator calling it Quits
Vista and 13 Year old Virus
Can you go back to PC Once you go Mac?
Levelator has New Home
Self Chilling Sprite!
Apple Updates iTunes shuts door on one Ringtone Hack
Make a Bootable Mac External Drive
The Moon still holds a lot of Secrets
27 Blog Building Tips
90 GB Limit for Comcast Internet Users
Winamp at 10 Years
EFF Hiring
Apple Checksum Cracked
iPod Touch LCD Screen Issues
15 Free SEO Tools
Microsoft adds Slingbox capability to Media Center!
Sprint Airave
iPod Touch things it is a iPhone
Google Reader Subscribers
WordPress Blog gets Pulled
SightSpeed 6 Review
Miracle at the New York Times
Zimbra sold to Yahoo 350 Million
Do your turn your PC Off?
OpenOffice 2.3 Released
Universal blocks Music from iPod
Space Shuttle Needs Repairs
TSA Improvised Electronics Banned
So Sad Robert Jordan Dead at 58

GNC-2007-05-22 #269

Back in Hawaii but my body thinks it is still on the East Coast regardless lots of great content on todays show.

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Show Notes:
Norton Antivirus
Google COOP Gadgets
Google UK News Search Deal
Chris needs Help
Avis WiFi
MPAA spying on You!
allofmp3.com revenue source in jail
Cool Cooler
Hawaii Court
Podcast Listeners Demographics
MT Spam Filter Information
You can be my fIrefox
Fair is it Fair!
Apple TV Review
Identity Theft Victim Sued by Bank
10 steps to save life
Mars Rover Big News
Senator Wrecks Car
Series 60 Phone Virus Concern
Broadcast your own TV Station
China Lunar Mission
Giant Telescope for Moon
Radiation Threat?
People click on Virus Links
Microsoft = PopFly
ID Spotting

GNC-2006-10-20 #209

Great debate at the end of the show and I have fun smacking both Microsoft and Apple around today with a lot of hot topics that you are going to want to hear my commentary on! Ohh and a Old School Intro!

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Show Links:
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BluRay vs HD-DVD
Stats What’s Real
MPAA Frustrated
EA Spyware
Iran Bans HS Internet
IE7 Launched
IE7 Security Issue
IE7 Review
Vista License
Webmaster Tools
Mac Apps
Meth Pics
Apple End Game
Email virus
DNA Repair
Get Listed on News Sites
Free Stuff at Trade Shows
Sony Claims
TiVo vs FCC
Microsoft mad at Apple!
AllofMP3.com Blacklisted
No Moon Ice
IT Open Season
IT Open Season 2
Save Hubble?
Vista Activation Bomb!
Spamhaus Lives

Google Apps for Your Domain!

GoogleappsAs many of you know that listen to my show you have been hearing me complain about the amount of Spam I have been getting. I have been looking all over the net for a solution and those that I found where either too expensive or they were made for people with small volumes of mail.

As I was talking to Angelo he and I decided to try a Google Service that has been around for a while in beta testing. We both have used Gmail quite a bit and I know it is as good or better than the Spam checker we have been running on our own servers. Up to this point we have been using Qmail with Spamd and several others utilities to filter the mail and scan for viruses.

I decided to take the plunge and applied for a couple of domains tonight and within about 20 minutes I had the mail moved over to Google and was down-loading it into outlook like I always do. I logged into the very familiar Gmail interface and instead of a Gmail.com domain I was not on my very own geeknewscentral.com domain.

So I have been watching the filtering here for a couple of hours, and can tell you so far I am very happy, the true test will come in the morning when I down-load my mail as normal, and then cross check on the Google site to see how much Spam it has caught that I have not had to deal with it. If it works out we are going to see if we can move over a few more domains.

What amazed me was how easy it was to setup, Google has done a really good job here, I am sure that some people would be very worried about having Google host their e-mail and I am not a 100% sure how I feel about it yet. One thing for sure,  I feel pretty good that none of it will go missing. [Google.com]