Friday, April 10, 2009

Conficker Worm is a Real Threat

Conficker has received it's instructions and is starting to mutate. It is not only going to try to sell you virus removal software. It will OPEN up your computer to other bad things and disable your current anti-virus software.

How do I know if I have it?

Go here to get more info - Conficker Work Group

If you can read the chart you are not infected. If you are infected you need to get off the internet and get help to remove it.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Security Update - Internet Browsers

Internet Explorer 8 is out and within a week needed a security patch.  While it is much improved it is always asking permission to do something.  From a security standpoint this is good, but the user ends up just blindly agreeing to get to the next page.  Or the user just cancels and does not get to where they want to go.

There are other choices.

Opera - fast and smooth.  I use it as a backup browser and it is a favorite on portable devices like phones.  Has a built in mail client and reader.  

Safari - is the stock web browser that comes on a Mac.  It can also be used on Windows. 

Chrome - is based on Safari but has been re-worked by Google to be a fast and light web browser.  As of this date it is one of the most secure web browsers available.  It survived the first day of a hacking contest in Mid March.  Opera was not part of the contest.  

FireFox - is the most powerfull of the browsers and fairly secure.  The reason for this is primarily that it is open source (anyone can look at and modify the code for their own use).  So this allows lots of people to write add-on programs that make Firefox the most customizeable of the Browsers.

So... what do I reccomend?  

I cannot reccomend using Internet Explorer as your primary method of "surfing" the internet.  I would say it is even a bit like leaving your car unlocked with a sweater thrown over your valuables to protect them from theft.

 FireFox is still the more secure and has a endless amount of add ons that are extremely usefull.  I think it is a logical choice for many people.  This is certainly the case instead of Internet Explorer.

 Safari has had many security flaws over the last year and thus I am reluctant to reccomend it.  It was hacked in record time on a Mac.  Part of that is how the underlying operating system handles code.

Opera is a very nice Browser.  It is available on many more devices than any other browser.  I do not care for the closed nature, but that may be a plus.

Chrome is kind of minimalist and fast.  But currently only available on Windows.  I do use it on older machines and reccomend that you try it for yourself.

As I close up on this thought I just want to say that there are some nasty bugs on the horizon.  You need to start using passwords that are not easy to break.  I will share some thoughts on password management soon.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Virus, Malware and protecting yourself

The last few months I have been very busy removing malware. In particular things with names like "Antivirus 2008" have been particularly difficult to remove. It knows the names of Antivirus and Spy protection software and the simple trick is to rename the executable file so it does not recognize it. But these little demons really put their hooks into the system. Much cheaper to backup and do a fresh install.

So what is Malware? It is Malicious Software. Mal from malicious and ware from software. It can be a virus or a trojan or any type of attack.

Protecting Yourself

  1. Get something other than Internet Explorer. The month of November and December saw a scramble by Microsoft to fix vunerabilities in Interenet Explorer. You really cannot go wrong with FireFox 3. It is open and so security vunerabilites get fixed much more rapidly. I also am a fan of Opera 9 and Google Chrome. They are all free.
  2. Get Antivirus software and keep it up to date. It is in everyones interest to keep clean computers so please keep up on this. There are Free versions of AVG, Avast and Anti-vir. They all work and they can all be targeted by people who write malicious code. So safe computing is a must. If you get mail from someone you do not know do not open it. If a window pops open and says that you are infected "shut off your computer". Unplug it from the wall and the internet. Wait 20 to 30 seconds before plugging it back in. Now this is important. If a program you do not know tells you that your computer is infected it is generally a lie and it is the infection. It also wants you to spend money to buy it. This is a scam. It is cheaper at this point to hire someone to check your computer.
  3. Get rid of windows and have linux installed. Linux can do anything you want and it is free. You may have to hire someone to setup your printer or your wirless card, but the chance of ever getting a windows virus is very remote. Also Linux is Free. Linux is open source so security issues are generally found and fixed very quickly.
  4. Not ready for linux... perhaps there is a Mac in your future. Mac's rarely get a virus. However they can get one and you should use a Anti-virus. Mac's are easy to use and for many people a better experience than Windows.
Last but not least practice safe computing. If your computer goes somewhere you do not know, close that browser now. You can restart it and see that your homepage is still in place.
If you get a email from someone with a attachment make sure you know them. Your software should scan emails.
After you download a file, right click on it and scan it with your antivirus or spyware.

Please go to my website and check out software that may help you keep your computer clean.
Also any of you computer geeks reading this... It is faster to take the hd out of the pc and scan for virus's on your faster computer that is locked down tight against intrusion.

As a aside support open software when and where you can. This could eventually slow the spread of malware and security issues.