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May 9, 2007 21:10 - Ensure You Patch These Microsoft 'Critical' Flaws

Yesterday, Microsoft issued it's traditional monthly fixes for flaws in its computer systems. All seven advisories, covering 19 flaws, were labeled by Microsoft as 'critical', meaning attackers could use these flaws to remotely take control of computers and networks.

The vast majority of the problems are confined to earlier Microsoft products, but current versions are also affected...

  • Remote code execution vulnerabilities in Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel and Office
  • Remote code execution vulnerabilities in Microsoft Exchange
  • Remote code execution vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer, including IE7
  • An issue in the Cryptographic API has also been dealt with,
  • A problem with a vulnerability in Windows DNS Server's RPC system on Windows 2000 Server and Windows Server 2003 has finally been fixed

Graham Cluley of Sophos wrote, "Hackers have shown no mercy in the past taking advantages of vulnerabilities in Microsoft's code, and taking action now will help defend your network and keep your company out of trouble."

However, it's not just companies, but also individual users who need to take action. So check you have your automatic updates switched on.

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May 15, 2007 19:51 - Google Study: One In Ten Web Pages Contain Malware

At least one in 10 web pages are booby-trapped with malware, according to a study undertaken by Google.

The Google team subjected 4.5 million pages to "in-depth analysis" and found that 450,000 pages contained scripts for "drive-by-downloads" to install malicious code, such as Trojans and spyware.

On top of that, a further 700,000 pages were thought to contain code that could compromise a user's computer.

As a result, the researchers say the company has "started an effort to identify all web pages on the internet that could be malicious".

Google's 'Ghost in the Browser' study covers the problem of drive-by-downloads from compromised sites, which are overtaking virus-infected email as a means of spreading malware.

The study states, "The user is presented with links that promise access to 'interesting' pages with explicit pornographic content, copyrighted software or media. A common example are sites that display thumbnails to adult videos."

The majority exploit vulnerabilities in Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser to install themselves. Some downloads, such as those that alter bookmarks, install unwanted toolbars or change the start page of a browser, are an annoyance. However, criminals are increasingly using drive-bys to install keyloggers that steal login and password information.

Other pieces of malicious code hijack a computer turning it into a "bot", a remotely controlled PC.

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May 21, 2007 20:49 - Censorship On The Net Increases

Governments are increasingly restricting access to Internet content and services across the world. A survey across 41 countries found that 25 of them applied content filtering to block access to particular websites.

The study was conducted by the OpenNet Initiative - a collaborative effort involving researchers at Cambridge, Harvard, Oxford and Toronto universities. Five years ago only a "couple" of states were exercising similar controls, according to John Palfrey of Harvard Law School, one of the researchers who took part in the study.

"Few states are open about informing their citizens about internet controls. There's no place you can get an answer as a citizen from your state about how they are filtering and what is being filtered," Palfrey said, adding that filtering almost invariable happens "in the shadows".

Examples include "pervasive filtering as a central platform for shaping public knowledge" in China, Myanmar, Vietnam and Uzbekistan; broad filtering in Iran, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen; more targeted filtering in Thailand and Pakistan; and selective filtering in Bahrain, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, India, South Korea and Singapore.
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May 31, 2007 17:41 - Kaspersky Anti-Virus Continues To Win Top Awards

It's not very often I write about specific products, but because Kaspersky Anti-Virus (KAV) is the most effective AV software on the market - as shown by independent testing - I thought I'd highlight two further recent awards for this product.

Before I do, let me just recap on the independent studies I've just mentioned that consistently show KAV's ability to protect individual computer users against viruses, Trojans, worms, spyware and rootkits...
  • Kaspersky AV is consistently ranked by independent testing labs as the top rated premium solution for detecting viruses and spyware - just take a look at AV-Comparatives.org
  • It offers the fastest outbreak response time of all anti-malware solutions, according to AV-test.org
  • It has more anti-malware updates per month than its competitors, offers standard automated hourly anti-malware updates and requires the lowest system resources of any anti-malware software (CNET)

I don't blame Kaspersky for trumpeting the news that,

  • Kaspersky Anti-Virus 6.0, has received PC World's "Best Buy" Distinction (June, 2007 Edition) and is included in its "100 Best Products of 2007
  • The Beta version of Kaspersky Anti-Virus 6.0 was awarded a VB100 from Virus Bulletin (virusbtn.com) for its detection of threats in the wild and also scored the best rating when measuring how much a system was slowed by the scanning of files, archives and documents when the products were configured with default settings.
If you don't use this product, then I suggest you give KAV 6.0 a free trial at . If you prefer to use a security suite, then go for ZoneAlarm which incorporates KAV into its protection.

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