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May 2, 2006 20:29 - So What's Internet Explorer 7 Beta Like?

Microsoft has launched yet another beta version of Internet Explorer (IE) 7, to include fixes for problems that were causing beta 1 to stop working.

Microsoft plans to release the production version of IE 7 during the latter half of 2006 as well as integrating it into Windows Vista. It's now been five years since it released IE 6 and during this time, because of the many security problems with the IE browser, many users have simply switched to alternative, safer browsers like Firefox and Opera.

The new Beta 2 includes a number of new features and functionalities.

Security is also improved...

  • Anti-phishing is provided, indicated by color-coded warnings when a user tries to access suspicious Web sites or that are known to be fraudulent.
  • Cookie management allows you to choose whether to accept or block cookies from each site you visit.
  • Personally identifying information like browsing history and the cookies we have retained can be easily deleted.
  • IE 7 warns you when sites try to download Active X and allows you to accept or reject the download.
Some of the main features include...
  • Tabbed browsing is at long last available. Tabbed browsing allows users to open more than one Web page in each window of the browser -- a feature long established in Firefox and Opera.
  • The ability to automatically open several frequently-used Web sites at once.
  • Automatically shrinking Web pages to fit your printer's paper size.
  • When browsing, you can zoom in and out on any page, so re-sizing both text and graphics.
The test version of IE 7 is backed by free telephone support to consumers in North America, Germany, and Japan.

More on Internet Privacy and Security

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May 3, 2006 21:04 - "Rootkits Will Waste Your System"

At the annual InfoSec Conference Microsoft's Mike Danseglio, program manager in the company's security solutions group, warned that if your system gets infiltrated by a rootkit, you might as well just "waste the system entirely".

According to Danseglio, the hacker rootkit is "probably the nastiest piece of malware you'll get," because it is designed to hide unwanted files and malware without your knowledge... in other words, no sign your computer has been compromised.

Although writing rootkits isn't a crime, using them to hide code in a computer that's been cracked is.

Danseglio listed the most-wanted rootkits, but 90 percent of what Microsoft finds relates to Hacker Defender. This is a rootkit created by a Czech Republic-based programmer who calls himself 'Holy Father'. Other significant rootkits are FU, HE4Hook, Vanquish, AFX, and NT Rootkit.

Rootkits have been embedded in many networks, with college campuses especially hard-hit. The University of Washington, for example, has become notorious for its students using rootkits to hide pornography and music on the university's servers, Danseglio added.

Rootkit detection tools include...

  • RootkitRevealer from Sysinternals
  • PatchFinder2 and Klister/Flister, proof-of-concept tools from Polish researcher Joanna Rutkoska
  • Blacklight from F-Secure
  • Bootable Antivirus & Recovery Tools from Alwil Software
  • Microsoft File Checksum Integrity Environment
  • Knoppix Security Tools Distribution (open source)
Read the article

What Are The Effects Of Computer Hacking?

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May 4, 2006 20:16 - Virus 'Hijacks' Amex Site

American Express, the credit card and travel services company, has warned customers about a pop-up screen that may appear for some when they log in to its secure site.

Amex has posted the alert online and states that the pop-up is a phishing attack, that has been reported by some of its customers.

The company has included a screenshot of the pop-up, which has the title "Security Measures" and requests filling in the fields for Social Security Number, Mother's Maiden Name, and Date of Birth.

Amex states the pop-up is a hoax and notes that the fraudulent activity may be the result of a computer virus and is not a part of the American Express website.

It advises that if you received this pop-up box, your computer may have this virus. The use of both anti-virus software and a firewall to protect your PC are strongly recommended and if you have received an email that you believe could be fraudulent, the alert requests you immediately forward it to Anti.Phishing.Team@aexp.com.

If you received this pop-up box and entered your information, please contact American Express by calling the number on the back of your card.

Security researchers tracking malicious Internet activity say the fake pop-up is a classic example of a 'banking Trojan'. These Trojans target specific financial institutions, even when the user is surfing on a secure, authenticated Web site. We reported March 23 on a keylogging banking Trojan called 'PWSteal-Bancos-Q'. This Trojan captures mouse clicks as well as key strokes when the victim visits their bank account.

Although often called a virus, Trojans really aren't, as they cannot replicate. Most commonly, they can infect a computer by being delivered attached to a phishers email or delivered within a virus, but Trojans can also be hidden within freeware downloads off the Web or even downloaded by malicious Web sites that we may visit.

Once a computer is infected, this Amex Trojan inserts a Browser Helper Object into Internet Explorer, and with the use of ActiveX, waits until the victim goes to the Amex site. Once there, the Trojan launches the fake pop-up and steals the information to gain access to the account or to use for identity or other fraud.

How to protect your computer from Trojans
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May 5, 2006 17:53 - Spyware And Child Porn Lawsuits Filed Against Yahoo And Google

The two major search engines are in trouble again...

First, it was kow-towing to the Chinese authorities' censorship and providing evidence against dissidents. Next, it was providing personal search histories to the Department of Justice.

Now, Yahoo is accused of abetting spyware and Google of promoting child porn...

In Yahoo's case, a class-action lawsuit has been filed against the company and other unnamed third-parties. It accuses them of engaging in "syndication fraud" against advertisers who pay Yahoo to display their ads on search results and on the Web pages of partner Web sites.

The suit claims that Yahoo displayed these advertisers' online ads via spyware and adware products and on Web sites that capitalize on misspellings of popular trademarks or company names -- called typo squatters.

The claim is that Yahoo regularly uses its relationship with adware and typo squatting sites to gain extra revenue.

Then, yesterday, a lawsuit was filed against Google, claiming the company has made child pornography an "obscenely profitable and integral part" of its business. Jeffrey Toback, a representative in New York's Nassau County Legislature, charged that Google has been taking in billions of dollars by allowing child pornography and "other obscene content" operators to advertise their sites through sponsored links, which are tailored to a user's search terms and automatically accompany search results. A Google representative responded that the company prohibits child pornography in its products and removes all such content whenever the company finds or is made aware of it. "We also report it to the appropriate law enforcement officials and fully cooperate with the law enforcement community to combat child pornography," spokesman Steve Langdon said in an e-mail interview.

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May 6, 2006 15:39 - Legally Required Data Retention By ISPs May Be On Its Way

ZdNet has reported that there is a momentum in the US government for legislation to force ISPs to record their customers' online activities for future police access.

It was reported that top Bush administration officials and members of the US Congress have endorsed the idea. The reasoning is that federal legislation is needed to aid law enforcement investigations into child pornography, and a bill is already pending in the Colorado State Senate.

The European Parliament's vote in December for a data retention requirement seems to have stimulated the debate in the United States.

Of course, mandatory data retention concerns privacy advocates because it permits police to obtain records of email chatter, Web browsing or chat-room activity that normally would have been discarded after a few months. Some proposals would even require providers to retain data that ordinarily never would have been kept at all.

Internet providers generally offer three reasons as to why they are skeptical about mandatory data retention...

  1. It is not clear who will be able to access records of someone's Web history
  2. It is not clear who pays for the data warehouses
  3. It's not clear that police are hindered by current law
"What we haven't seen is any evidence where the data would have been helpful, where the problem was not caused by law enforcement taking too long when they knew a problem existed," said Dave McClure, president of the US Internet Industry Association.

McClure added that the data would not be used solely for child pornography investigations. The data would be used for any investigation, such as drug crimes, tax fraud, or terrorism prosecutions. "The agenda behind this doesn't appear to be legitimate," he said.

Learn who is monitoring us when we're surfing, what information they can access and how we can protect our privacy with one of the commercial or free proxy anonymizers.

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May 7, 2006 19:56 - "Spam King", Now Spyware Purveyor, Fined $4 Million

According to Information Week, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has ended its first major spyware lawsuit with a $4 million plus judgment against Sanford Wallace.

Sanford, a spam king turned spyware purveyor, and his company, SmartBot.net, was ordered to turn over $4,089,500 in profits by a judge in the District Court of New Hampshire.

Wallace and the company were charged with deceptively installing spyware into PCs, by convincing consumers to pay $30 per copy for Spy Wiper and Spy Deleter. These two purported anti-spyware programs changed the computer settings, bombarding them with pop-up ads and causing PCs to slow down, crash and lose data.

The FTC first brought the case against Wallace and SmartBot in October 2004 and in January 2005, the federal agency announced an agreement with Wallace that banned him from distributing any software until the case was settled.

The FTC has since taken legal action against six other alleged spyware purveyors, with OptinTrade, owned by Jared Lansky, being ordered to surrender $227,000 for distributing online ads that contained Wallace's spyware.

In January, the FTC ordered the makers of another pair of bogus antispyware programs, SpywareAssassin and SpyKiller, to return over $2 million in illegal profits.

For the best authentic antispyware programs, see the review Commercial & Free Spyware Remover Programs Tested.

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May 8, 2006 20:10 - Dell's Spyware Removal Costs $49

I came across an interesting article on the personal experience of Michael Amor Righi, who bought a PC from Dell. Although this happened last year, it's a warning to all of us about the ethics of big business concerns...

After using the new Dell, Michael found he was plagued with advertising. He discovered that his new computer came with "My Way Search Assistant".

"My Way" is a spyware program that claims to block pop-ups and provide other nice features for users on the Web. In reality, "My Way" spies on our browsing habits and reports this information to a central server so that customized ads can be delivered to our computer.

The author assumed that a virus had contaminated his machine when he started it up to install anti-virus software. His search on Google revealed that Dell was being paid to pre-install this program on their machines.

Mr. Righi was unable to uninstall the spyware with the Add/Remove Programs control panel, nor with Lavasoft Adaware, and so called Dell for assistance.

This is where he was met with incredulity by the customer service representative that Dell had pre-installed the spyware.

After a discussion about the problem, the rep said he would no longer be able to assist with the problem.

He told Michael to contact software support services for help in removing the spyware... but they would charge his credit card for the call at $49!

I think all of us consumers would wholely agree with Michael's final comments...

"What Dell is doing should be illegal. They are being paid to install spyware on new computers. They are making it difficult for customers to remove the spyware on their own. Then, they charge $49 to teach you how to remove it. This would be like a doctor being paid to infect you with a disease and then charging you for the antidote."

Read the article.

How Computer Spyware Infects PCs And How To Spot The Signs.

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May 9, 2006 20:00 - US Government's Case To Wiretap The Internet Criticised

A Bush administration regulation forcing Internet companies to ease the government wiretapping of broadband services and phone calls was criticised by an appeals court judge.

A 2005 ruling by the Federal Communications Commission gives providers of internet phone and broadband services until May 2007 to ensure that their equipment can accommodate police wiretaps.

Opponents of the FCC rule say they are challenging the right of the government to force companies to adopt technology that would make it easier to eavesdrop.

Civil liberties and university groups are also unhappy, claiming that the provision will give law enforcement officials unprecedented access to private networks. They estimate that colleges around the country will have to replace a portion of their networks at a cost of $7bn.

So, the case brings to the forefront questions about the administration’s use of wiretapping and its reliance on US companies to listen in on phone calls.

The Justice Department claims that without the rule, internet telephony could “effectively provide a safe haven for criminals and terrorists who make use of new communications services”.

After a government lawyer argued Congress intended to cover services that were “functionally equivalent” to traditional telephone services when it passed the 1994 law, Judge Harry Edwards said, “There’s nothing to suggest that in the statute.”
Read the article

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May 10, 2006 19:33 - Trojans Increasingly In The News And After Our Money

Trojan horses are rapidly overtaking other forms of malware in the number of recorded attack incidents. According to The Register, Panda Security's First Quarterly Report of 2006 shows that Trojans accounted for 47 per cent of new examples of malware.

That finding concurs with other researchers who have highlighted the popularity of Trojans and the relative waning of traditional virus attacks.

Forty per cent of malware detected was spyware, Panda said, with Trojans accounting for another 17 per cent. Malicious dialers rang up eight per cent of the market, while bots took four per cent.

Seventy per cent of malware detected by Panda’s scanning service had a cybercrime or financial motive.

Recent Trojan attacks prove the point...

For instance, crackers have developed a Trojan-based attack which uses pornography to steal bank details from victims' PCs.

The Trojan, called Briz-F, has been planted on pornographic websites and takes advantage of browser and software vulnerabilities to launch an attack which compromise the PC and sends details back to the attacker.

Infection is normally by a drive-by download on the Web site, but the Trojan can be spread through spam, files downloaded from the net, and P2P file sharing.

In yet another example, a Trojan horse that poses as a World Cup wall chart has begun circulating on the Net. The Haxdoor-IN Trojan horse is being advertised in spam as allowing fans to keep tracks of football teams participating in the World Cup.

Windows users who click on the link in these messages and download the software will open up their private information to the crackers.

Learn How To Protect Yourself From Trojans and Other Spyware.

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May 11, 2006 19:30 - 5 Year Jail Sentence For 'Botmaster'

Jeanson Ancheta, a Californian, has been jailed for almost five years for running a zombie network of around 400,000 compromised PCs.

Ancheta had pleaded guilty in January to infecting the computers with software that caused them to show cash-generating ads, and renting them to crackers and spammers to send junk mail and launch Denial of Service attacks against Web sites.

This was the first prosecution of its kind and it was the longest known sentence for the spreading of computer malware.

His network of zombie computers included machines at the Weapons Division of the US Naval Air Warfare Center in China Lake, California, as well as the Defense Information Systems Agency.

He admitted to receiving $3,000 from clients for access to the botnets. In more than 30 separate transactions, he sold networks of up to 10,000 infected "bots" each through an IRC channel named "botz4sale", his plea agreement stated.

However, Ancheta's principal revenue source came from installing adware on the zombie PCs, from which he admitted generating more than $107,000 in advertising affiliate proceeds.

He pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the Computer Fraud Abuse Act, conspiring to violate the CAN SPAM Act, causing damage to federally protected defence computers, and accessing protected computers without authorization to commit fraud.

Ancheta agreed to pay $15,000 to the Warfare Center and Systems Agency and to forfeit his proceeds from illegal hacking... $60,000, a BMW car and computer equipment.
Read the article.

Is Your Computer A Zombie PC?

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May 12, 2006 22:10 - Send An E-Card... And Spyware And Spam

That e-card you send to someone on that special occasion could leave your computer loaded with spam, spyware and even viruses.

Unfortunately, it can do the same to the recipient's computer. What a greeting!

That's the warning from McAfee SiteAdvisor, a division of McAfee Inc. that tested online greeting card sites. They found many hid malware within the greeting, and named and shamed the Websites.

This Sunday's Mother's Day is a focus for spammers and scam artists who are hoping to cash in on the millions of e-cards expected to be sent this week. Their bonus is the millions of e-mail addresses of senders and recipients.

Keats said the aim is to get as many pieces of spyware on to computers as possible to monitor contents or to steal information.

The McAfee SiteAdvisor crawls the World Wide Web, clicking 'yes' to everything it finds on websites and tests what happens to a computer as a result.

According to McAfee's SiteAdvisor, a Google search for "mother's day card" yielded two sites that earned McAfee's red dangerous rating on the first page of results.

Clicking randomly on the page would send the user to an unsafe site 10 per cent of the time, the SiteAdvisor warned.

The worst offender -- funnyreign.com -- resulted in an average of 1,075 pieces of spam per week landing in the card sender's inbox.

Two of the sites delivered Trojans downloaders, paving the way for viruses and other computer chicanery.
Read the article.

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May 13, 2006 15:59 - Spyware Company Uncovers Thousands Of Stolen Identities

According to information provided to InfoWorld by Webroot, the FBI is investigating stolen identities discovered by Webroot Software researchers.

Tens of thousands of stolen identities from 125 countries were discovered on a password-protected FTP server in the U.S. Webroot believes they were collected by a new variant of a Trojan horse program the company is calling Trojan-Phisher-Rebery, installed from teens7.com.

The information is organized by country, to include names, phone numbers, social security numbers, user logins and passwords for tens of thousands of Web sites.

This Rebery Trojan is an example of a "banking" Trojan, which is programmed to action when computer owners visit one of a number of online banking or e-commerce sites.

The discovery is just the latest evidence of sophisticated, large-scale identity theft by online criminals, using malicious Web sites, common software vulnerabilities, and keylogging software to harvest information from unsuspecting Web surfers.

The stolen data was stored on an FTP server hosted by nLayer Communications in New York, but the company does not know who is behind the scam, according to Webroot. Webroot added that it is unlikely that the individuals running the Web site or hosting the FTP server have any direct knowledge of the scam.

The Trojan is installed using a "drive by download" from the Web site. Drive by downloads, exploit software vulnerabilities in Web browsers so malicious software can be pushed down to the PC running the Web browser, usually unknown to the user.

The stash of stolen identities is just one of many that have been uncovered in recent months, as identity theft has evolved into a lucrative operation for online criminal groups.

More Information...
How To Have The Best Internet Identity Theft Protection.

Learn More About Trojans And Keyloggers In This Spyware Review.

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May 14, 2006 18:42 - Teens Face Predators On Myspace.com

CBN has reported that an investigation by the Massachusetts attorney general revealed that a large number of potential child predators have been surfing Myspace.com, looking for victims.

Myspace is a Net meeting place for teenagers, where they can talk about themselves, post pictures, play their favorite songs, and chat with people connected to the Internet around the world.

Myspace has been criticized by the authorities, parents, and teachers who say the site exposes teens to sexually explicit material and also vulnerable to sexual predators.

Now, the State is now calling on Myspace to make some changes to help ensure the safety of those who use the site. One change being touted is raising the minimum age for users from 14 to 18. But will these changes make a difference in protecting the kids who visit the site?

The head of News Corp's Internet division, which owns Myspace, says, "It's a problem that's endemic to the Internet, not just Myspace," and he says that "the site...has become safer."

Although Myspace is not the only risky site out there for kids, it stands out because there are more than 54 million registered users and 180,000 new members a day. 19 percent of users are under the age of 17 and because of the high concentration of teens, there are plenty of sexual solicitations and sexual content from strangers.

Parry Aftab, an Internet privacy and security lawyer and an expert on teen online diaries like Myspace said, "The kids are putting so much personal information on these Web sites that it's very, very easy for anyone who wants to find them in real life, to find them."
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May 15, 2006 21:04 - Government Program Eavesdrops On American's Phones

In a country where privacy is an almost sacred right, the news that the US government is running a surveillance program reaches into the home of every American.

Capitol Hill erupted when USA Today reported the NSA was secretly collecting the records of phone calls by millions of ordinary Americans to build a database of all calls within the country.

The report claims that after 9/11, the National Security Agency (NSA) asked all the major phone companies for access to their records of all calls.

The government reportedly obtained the records from AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth but was turned down by Denver-based Qwest Communications.

Professor Jonathan Turley, a legal analyst at George Washington University, describes the alleged monitoring program as a "legally questionable fishing operation."

He argues: "Federal law prevents the government from seeking this kind of information - including phone numbers - unless it has cause to believe a crime has been committed."

The Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 doesn't make it illegal for the government to ask for such records. Rather, it makes it illegal for phone companies to divulge them.

As a result, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an internet advocacy group, is suing AT&T in light of testimony from Mark Klein - a former technician turned whistleblower, who claims the NSA has secret spying rooms inside the company's facilities.

Significantly, President Bush responded immediately to the reports - a sign his administration fears the scandal could be damaging.

He neither confirmed nor denied his government was collecting phone records but insisted, "We're not mining or trolling through the personal lives of innocent Americans".

That statement will now come under intense scrutiny as the Senate begin to examine the nature of this latest surveillance program.

The first casualty could be the president's new nominee to head the CIA spy agency - General Michael Hayden, the former head of the NSA.

He was responsible for the controversial warrantless wiretapping program and will now face a grilling over this wider NSA operation during what will be a rocky confirmation process.
Read the story
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May 16, 2006 17:31 - Search Engines Are Not Proactive In Stopping Spyware

A team working for Site Advisor, recently acquired by AV firm McAfee, reports that the five major search engines do little to protect Web users from going to risky sites... in fact, they directed US users to potentially harmful sites 285 million times a month!

For instance, if you type in "free screensavers" into any search engine, more than 64 per cent of sites that are linked to this phrase will cause a spyware or adware problem for your computer.

The report found 1,394 popular keyword searches found via Google, Yahoo, MSN, AOL and Ask that were linked to spyware or adware. Examples are Bearshare, Winmx, Limewire, Download Yahoo messenger, Lime wire and Free ringtones.

The study also found that "sponsored" results -- those paid for by advertisers -- are more dangerous than non-sponsored results. On average, 8.5 percent of sponsored links were found to be dangerous versus 3.1 percent of non-sponsored links, McAfee said.

"Search engines clearly play a critical role in Internet use: As a convenient starting point for online browsing, they're estimated to account for about half of all site visits," said Chris Dixon, who heads the McAfee SiteAdvisor product team.

Site Advisor reckons that the search engines should do more to point people who might type these words into their search engines away from the dangerous sites.

Learn How You Can Protect Against Computer Spyware
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May 17, 2006 16:28 - Rootkit Distributor Shuts Down

An item by DDJ.com, reported that ContextPlus, a spyware distributor which used rootkits to make its software difficult to delete, has shut down.

A message on its Web site states, "Due to concerns over the practices of some of its distribution partners, ContextPlus has determined that it is no longer able to ensure the highest standards of quality and customer care and therefore is discontinuing further distribution of its software."

According to Finnish security vendor F-Secure, ContextPlus, which spread spyware and adware, including software that hijacked searches and programs that inundated systems with pop-up ads, has been behind many of the rootkit infections affecting Windows users.

F-Secure went on to say that ContextPlus was not using rootkits to hide its spyware and adware programs, but to make it difficult for anti-spyware software to stop their installation. Once on a PC, the rootkit would make it impossible to completely eradicate them.

Last month, McAfee reported that rootkit use had grown 600 percent during the last three years and that by 2008 a majority of spyware will be protected by rootkit technology to hide from detection software.

Panda Software has introduced what it claims to be the world's first anti-rootkit technology to combat an epidemic of targeted attacks and cyber-crime using this malware.

For more information on Panda Titanium 2006 Antivirus + Antispyware and Panda Platinum 2006 Internet Security, which incorporate this technology, go to Panda Security Home Page.
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May 18, 2006 22:09 - Spammers Force Blue Security To Quit

Blue Security Inc., an Israeli company, has given up its battle against Russian spammers, reported the Washington Post.

Eran Reshef's Silicon Valley company, had asked the spammers to stop sending junk e-mail to his clients and when that didn't happen, he decided to respond.

Blue Security established a ‘Do Not Intrude Registry’, similar to the 'Do Not Call Registry' for telemarketing. About 450,000 members downloaded a small tool, called Blue Frog, which systematically floods the websites of spammers with opt-out messages.

That led to a flood of Internet traffic so heavy that it disrupted the spammers ability to send e-mails to other victims -- a crippling effect that caused a handful of known spammers to comply with the requests.

However, one particular pharmacy spam sponsor launched a volley of distributed denial-of-service (DDoS)attacks against the company's Web site, using botnets, that eventually cascaded across the Web, knocking dozens of sites and thousands of blogs offline for hours.

The spammer also sent another message -- 'Cease Operations or Blue Security customers will soon find themselves targeted with virus-filled attacks.'

The company shut down on Wednesday morning and its Web site displays a message informing its customers about the closure.

"It's clear to us that quitting would be the only thing to prevent a full-scale cyber-war that we just don?t have the authority to start," Reshef said. "Our users never signed up for this kind of thing."

Use A Spam Blocker And These Tips For Spam Dangers
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May 19, 2006 22:39 - Women More Likely To Infect PCs With Spyware

The 2006 Web@Work Employee Survey reveals that men surf the web more at work, while women are more likely to infect PCs with spyware and infect the net.

The survey, conducted for Web security firm, Websense, telephone interviewed US IT decision-makers who work for organizations with at least 100 employees.

It reveals that men are more likely than women to engage in personal web surfing at work. Almost two-thirds (65%) of men who access the Internet from work admitted to visiting non work-related websites during work hours versus 58% of women.

Whether by accident or on purpose, 16 percent of men who access the internet at work said they had visited a porn site while at work, while only 8 percent of women had done so. Of those that admitted to viewing pornography sites at work, 6 percent of the men and 5 percent of the women admitted it was intentional.

The Employee survey also reveals that men and women hold different views regarding web-based threats such as spyware and when to involve help desk to remedy the situation.

Women who visit websites containing spyware are more likely than men to say that their work computer has been negatively impacted by spyware. Women who have visited websites containing spyware are more than twice as likely as men to call their help desk or IT department if their computer was infected with spyware.

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May 29, 2006 19:39 - Rogue AntiSpyware, Ransomware And Rootkits Top Of Threat List

My apologies to those of you who were wondering why you hadn't been receiving your news articles. I took a week off to stay in a remote area of France, thinking that the villa I was staying in had an Internet connection, so enabling me to continue with my news blog.

It turned out that the villa owner had the connection in his separate property. Although willing to let me use it, his password wouldn't... and so ended my good intention!

However, I'm now back and ready to pick up where we left off. So, here's the first of the ongoing articles after my break...

Security Park have carried an article on Finjan's Malicious Code Research Centre's (MCRC) latest Web Security Trends Report.

The web threats heading the list are Rogue Anti-Spyware, Ransomware and Rootkits -- all posing a real danger to Internet users.

Rogue anti-spyware programs encourage people to download the program to rid their computers of malware. However, thinking that their computers are being scanned an cleaned, user's computers can be infected with spyware or adware.

The program then lists spyware that needs removing -- genuine or not -- and, of course, tells the user that for a fee, they can download the software that will remove it. In most cases, it doesn't!

The second Web threat is Ransomware...

In a recent case, a ransom was demanded by hackers who managed to install spyware, called CryZip on the victim's computer. The spyware takes personal files hostage until a ransom is paid.

The spyware uses archive software like Zip and creates a password protected archive which includes the victim's personal files. It leaves a text message on a victim's machine explaining what was done and warns the victim not to approach the police and just pay the ransom. The victim gets the password to the archived files only after the ransom is paid.

Another emerging trend is the use of Rootkits. A Rootkit can be used by attackers after gaining control of the victim's computer and hide the existence of malware from detection by security software. The rootkit then helps the attacker to maintain access to the victim's machine without their knowledge.

Security firm Panda Software has introduced what it claims to be the world's first anti-rootkit technology to combat an epidemic of targeted attacks and cyber-crime using this malware.

For more information on Panda Titanium 2006 Antivirus + Antispyware and Panda Platinum 2006 Internet Security, go to Panda Security Home Page

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May 30, 2006 20:02 - PCFlank Exposes Weakness In Major Firewalls

PCFlank, an Internet security portal, has demonstrated that all major firewall programs can be bypassed and that none of them -- except one -- can prevent a leak of your personal information from Internet-connected computers.

The test is called the 'PCFlank Leaktest'. It attempts to upload text that you specify directly to PC Flank's server, completely undetected by our firewalls.

Except for the Tiny firewall, all the top commercial firewalls failed the test. They allowed the custom data to be transmitted to the test location... the firewalls couldn't deter a genuine, malicious attempt to steal the private data.

Andrew Cooper, PC Flank's editor-in-chief, said, "It remains to be seen how the top firewalls will be able to cope with our test sample. So far I've only seen lackluster performance with even the heavyweights, such as of Symantec, McAfee, ZoneLabs, Sunbelt and Agnitum. All of them, except Tiny are porous. The scariest thing about this test is it's based on real life; its principle could be successfully used by real identity thieves, costing real people real life savings."

I tried the test through my ZoneLabs ZoneAlarm firewall, using the Leaktest download. Sure enough the data I entered snuck through the firewall.

This was a big surprise to me... I use and recommend ZoneAlarm and will be finding out from ZoneLabs when they're going to plug this gap.

Try the test first at Leak Test.

Then, I suggest you email your firewall developer to put pressure on these manufacturers to speed up their reaction.
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May 31, 2006 23:07 - Beware Of Free 'Da Vinci Code' Offer

Sophos is warning Internet users to be wary of a spam email campaign offering a free copy of Dan Brown's novel, the "The Da Vinci Code".

The spam invites recipients to join a book club, with the free copy of "The Da Vinci Code" as an incentive, plus five more best-sellers for 99 cents.

Graham Cluey, senior technology consultant for Sophos, said "People should be careful of unsolicited emails like this and remember the old adage that there's no such thing as a free lunch."

He said the Da Vinci Code email directed recipients to a website which was registered less than a month ago -- "a clue which instantly sets alarm bells ringing in anti-spam circles. The intention of the web site is presently unclear, but it certainly fails to supply a free book to surfers," he added.

According to a poll conducted earlier this year, 9% of computer users have purchased goods sold via spam, which is more than enough to keep spammers in business and encourage them to continue bombarding innocent users with unsolicited emails.

So, if you receive this spam, don't click on the link... just delete!

Use A Spam Blocker And These Tips For Spam Dangers

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