Internet Explorer Malware Hole

Microsoft announced this weekend that ALL versions of Internet Explorer were at risk for “drive-by” attacks from malicious websites. These attacks are currently happening around the world so this isn’t a “could happen” attack, it’s real.

 

A possible “drive-by” attack is one where you visit a website and you start getting pop-ups stating you have hundreds of viruses, trojans, bugs, etc. and offering to fix your computer problems, for a price. Another type is the kind where you don’t know that it’s happening but the malicious site is installing damaging software onto your computer.

 

The risk of the Internet Explorer issue is that is has the potential of allowing the hackers the same user access as you have on your computer. That means that they’d have the ability to install software, create new user accounts, change or delete your files, hold your computer hostage, and many more things.

 

Microsoft is working on closing these holes but it could be sometime for it happen. Microsoft has said that they will not fix the holes for Windows XP.

 

What are your options until then?

  • Stop using Internet Explorer. Download Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox and set them up to be your default browser, especially if you’re still running Windows XP
  • Do not click on links that you get in emails, unless you’re absolutely certain they’re legitimate.  

Of course, if you’re already using a different browser, you don’t have to do anything further.

News Overload? Have You Heard of Flipboard?

By nature, I don’t watch the news. Often times it’s filled with nothing but bad news and then when I finally hear something I’m interested in, I never really get enough information since the newscasters are limited on length of talk. So, I just don’t watch the news.

With everything that’s going on in the world, from government, to business, to technology, to sports, how do I keep current on things? There are thousands of magazines, newspapers, web articles, but it would take me forever to read those. That’s not going to happen. What I do, is I open the Flipboard app my phone or tablet, and I flip through my personal magazines. (To install it, look for Flipboard in your devices app store. It’s compatible with Apple and Android devices)

Flipboard pulls together articles from magazines, blogs, social media sites and other places, categorizes them into sections such as: News, Business, Tech & Science, Arts & Culture, Food & Dining, Travel, Style and more. After downloading the app onto your device, you set up an account and then you choose the sections you want to keep up with. Flipboard populates the sections with articles. From there, you open the category and start flipping. Flipboard shows the first paragraph or so of the article and if you want to read the whole article, tap it and it opens on your device. Flip through the pages and when you’re done, back arrow and you are returned to main article lists. If it’s an article you want to share with others, there is a “share” icon where you can post it to social media, send it via email or save it. You can even search for individual people, hashtags, events, etc. and Flipboard will return articles related to that search.

Since you create an account, you can use that same account on all of your devices so it doesn’t matter what you have on hand, you have access to your selections. I find that I use Flipboard a lot on my phone while I’m standing in lines and then at home, I use it when I’m on my tablet.

The amount of news is overwhelming at times. With Flipboard, I feel I can keep it under control and still keep current on what’s happening around me.

End of Article….

Internet Explorer Compatibility with Chrome

If you use  Chrome as your primary browser, you may have run into an internet page that works best under Internet Explorer, or actually requires Internet Explorer. I ran into this the other day when I was helping someone with a problem they were having in Yahoo Mail, in which the right-click copy/paste function wouldn’t work in Chrome but worked fine in IE. In researching it, I found that this problem has existed for quite a while. A day or so later, I was logging onto a site and it wouldn’t load, only to find out that Chrome wasn’t a supported browser.

The answer to these problems is a  Chrome extension that works wonderfully – http://www.ietab.net/home (you’ll also see the link to the Firefox Add-In on this page). With this tool, you right-click on the page to have it rendered in Internet Explorer. When you right click, you’ll see a menu option for “IE Tab Options.  Under IE Tab Options, you can set which version of IE you want to emulate, from versions 7 to 9.

Fake Antivirus Industry Down, But Not Out — Krebs on Security

Fake Antivirus Industry Down, But Not Out — Krebs on Security.

Many fake antivirus businesses that paid hackers to foist junk security software on PC users have closed up shop in recent weeks. The wave of closures comes amid heightened scrutiny by the industry from security experts and a host of international law enforcement officials. But it’s probably too soon to break out the bubbly: The inordinate profits that drive fake AV peddlers guarantee the market will soon rebound.

During the past few weeks, some top fake AV promotion programs either disappeared or complained of difficulty in processing credit card transactions for would-be scareware victims: Fake AV brands either ceased operating or alerted affiliates that they may not be paid for current and future installations.

On July 2, BestAV, one of the larger fake AV distribution networks, told affiliates that unforeseen circumstances had conspired to ruin the moneymaking program for everyone.

Ah, Cookies

Tracking cookies

The other day I noticed that I was running out of space on the hard disk of my computer. I went through and removed some programs and moved some data to an external drive to free up some space, but the next day, the space was low again.

I ran my normal cleanup software, CCleaner, SuperAntiSpyware and Malwarebytes and found that I had a huge number of tracking cookies on my computer.

If you don’t know, most every website you visit downloads a small file to your computer, called a cookie. Cookies are set to stay on your computer for a period of time and contain information about the site you’re on. Often times, they will hold your login information to the site so that the next time you visit that site, you’ll automatically be logged in, or your preferences will be recorded and remembered so that you won’t have to reset everything time and again.

Tracking cookies, on the other hand, aren’t good. Websites sometimes allow third parties, such as advertisers and marketers, to also install what’s known tracking cookies on your computer. These cookies send information back to the marketing companies where your preferences are put in a database for future use. They don’t record personal information, such as credit card numbers or passwords but general information about your surfing habits and preferences. What they hope to do is to have the advertisements that you see on a page become advertisements that relate more specifically to you so that you’ll click and buy. The danger comes when that information, which is connected to you, becomes available to others.

So, what to do? You really need the main cookies a site saves because a lot of sites won’t work well unless you accept the cookies. Third party cookies, however, aren’t needed and should be blocked.

There are settings in each of the browsers that allow you to allow the main cookies and block the third party cookies. Here are the instructions to do so for the four main browsers:

Internet Explorer –

  • Open Tools, Internet Options | Privacy, click on the Advanced button.
    • Place a check in “Override automatic cookie handling”.
      Uncheck “Always allow session cookies
    • Set “First Party Cookies” to Accept, set “Third Party Cookies” to Block.

Firefox –

  • At the top of the Firefox window, click on the Firefox button (Tools menu in Windows XP) and then click Options. On the menu bar, click on the Firefox menu and select Preferences…At the top of the Firefox window, click on the Edit menu and select PreferencesAt the top of the Firefox window, click on the Tools menu and select Options…On the menu bar, click on the Firefox menu and select Preferences…At the top of the Firefox window, click on the Edit menu and select Preferences…
  • Select the Privacy panel.
  • Set Firefox will: to Use custom settings for history.
  • Uncheck Accept third-party cookies.

Chrome –

  • Click the wrench icon on the browser toolbar.
    • Select Options (Preferences on Mac and Linux; Settings on Chrome OS).
    • Click the Under the Hood tab.
    • Click Content settings in the “Privacy” section.
    • Click the Cookies tab in the Content Settings dialog that appears:

o   Block only third-party cookies: Select the “Ignore exceptions and block third-party cookies from being set” checkbox. Even if you’ve added a site to the Exceptions list and have chosen to allow its cookies, the site’s third-party cookies won’t be accepted if this checkbox is selected.

Safari –

  • From Safari, select “Safari” in the menu bar, and then select “Preferences”
  • In the Preferences Dialog Box, select the “Security” tab
  • Make sure the “Accept cookies:” setting is set to “Only from sites you navigate to”. You can also set this option to “Never”, but this will prevent many web sites that rely on cookies from working.

Once I removed the tracking cookies from my computer, I actually recovered almost 200 GB of disk space. I then went through each of my browsers and blocked third party cookies from being installed.

Here’s One Reason Why You Need to Password Protect Your Wireless Router

Or if you’re using your neighbor’s wireless connection, you may want to reconsider.

To sum up, an individual in New York found himself facedown in his living room in the morning with federal agents all around him. They were accusing him of being a pedophile and pornographer. They ended up seizing his computer, his wife’s computer and iPad and iPhone. He claimed innocence and after a week, was cleared. His neighbor, however, wasn’t as lucky. Seems the neighbor was leaching off the non-password protected wireless router and trafficking child pornography.

Always, always, always password protect your router, or if you’re leaching off your neighbor, and they’re involved in something illegal, it could come back on you as well. Now here’s the article -

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Lying on his family room floor with assault weapons trained on him, shouts of “pedophile!” and “pornographer!” stinging like his fresh cuts and bruises, the Buffalo homeowner didn’t need long to figure out the reason for the early morning wake-up call from a swarm of federal agents.

That new wireless router. He’d gotten fed up trying to set a password. Someone must have used his Internet connection, he thought.

“We know who you are! You downloaded thousands of images at 11:30 last night,” the man’s lawyer, Barry Covert, recounted the agents saying. They referred to a screen name, “Doldrum.”

“No, I didn’t,” he insisted. “Somebody else could have but I didn’t do anything like that.”

“You’re a creep … just admit it,” they said.

Law enforcement officials say the case is a cautionary tale. Their advice: Password-protect your wireless router.

via NY case underscores Wi-Fi privacy dangers – Yahoo! News.

Shopping Online Safely

With the upcoming holidays, there will be many of you who will be doing your shopping online. It’s convenient, often times cheaper, and you can have items wrapped and delivered directly to the recipient. In fact, it’s estimated that 25% of holiday shopping this year will be online.

However, there are a few things to keep in mind when you’re shopping.

  • Start by making sure that your anti-virus program is up-to-date. If you do web searches and click on the results, you may find yourself at a site that doesn’t have your best interest at heart. Along those lines, make sure the site you are visiting is trustworthy by using WebOfTrust (WOT). Now when you perform a search, the results will have a green, yellow or red symbol letting you know if the website is safe or not.
  • Once you’re done selecting what you want to purchase, you’ll be taken to your shopping cart where you will be entering personal information: name, address, e-mail address, credit card information. It’s critcally important that before you enter any of that information that you are on a secured page. How can you tell? To begin with, check the web address in the address bar. It should start with “https:” instead of the normal “http:”. The s shows that you’re on a secured site. The other thing to look for is the golden lock.
    There is a de facto standard among web browsers to display a “lock” icon somewhere in the window of the browser (NOT in the web page display area!)  For example, Microsoft Internet Explorer displays the lock icon in the lower-right of the browser window.
    The Lock Icon is not just a picture! Click, or double-click, on it to see the details for the site’s security. This is important to know because some bad sites are designed with a bar at the bottom of the web page to imitate the lock icon of your browser.
  • Unless you’re planning on doing a lot of shopping at a particular site, if the site offers to save your information for future shopping, don’t let them. It may be convenient, but the fewer places that have your personal information, the better.
  • When paying for the items in your shopping cart, many people feel good about using their Debit Card as opposed to racking up charges on their credit cards. However, when it comes to fraud, debit cards fall far behind credit cards. That’s because your liability limit under federal law increases the longer you wait to report any unauthorized activity. Be sure to check with your financial institution for their policies on fraud protection.
  • Credit Cards – many credit card companies have $0 liability policies. This means you won’t be held accountable for any fraudulent purchases. You can dispute purchases that were either made without your consent or where the goods don’t match the descriptions. You’ll need to check with your credit card company for the specific steps to dispute a purchase and their policy on fraudulent purchases.
  • Single-Use Credit cards. Many credit card companies and banks will allow you to use single-use or virtual cards. You get a unique account number that can be used once, or for a short period of time. That way, if someone were to steal the account number, when they go to use it, it will no longer be valid.
  • Print out your receipt. You’ll have a record of the purchase to compare with the charge in case the vendor adds additional charges or charges you twice for something.
  • When giving your e-mail address out, check the page and read the privacy policy of the site. Many times there is text stating that they will or will not share your e-mail address with others. If you have the option to opt out of allowing them to share, do so. It will eliminate spam. Additonally, you may want to set up a free or additional e-mail address that you use strictly for online registrations so that any spam gets sent to that address and not to your main e-mail address.

Read the rest of my monthly newsletter for information on ways to comparison shop and links to Black Friday and Cyber Monday specials. AskBillFirst November Newsletter

 

You might be breaking the law with your computer: UPDATED | 10 Things | TechRepublic.com

Twice this week I’ve had people ask me that  if they connect to a neighbor’s unsecured wi-fi if it is possible that their neighbor could gain access to their files or information. I told them that since they were actually joining that neighbor’s network, than under certain circumstances, yes their information could be accessed. I was reminded of the other reason you may not want to ride your neighbor’s wi-fi in this article of 10 ways you might be breaking the law with your computer. The item pertaining to this topic follows.

State and federal laws regarding access to networks

Many states have criminal laws that prohibit accessing any computer or network without the owner’s permission. For example, in Texas, the statute is Penal Code section 33.02, Breach of Computer Security. It says, “A person commits an offense if the person knowingly accesses a computer, computer network or computer system without the effective consent of the owner.” The penalty grade ranges from misdemeanor to first degree felony (which is the same grade as murder), depending on whether the person obtains benefit, harms or defrauds someone, or alters, damages, or deletes files.

The wording of most such laws encompass connecting to a wireless network without explicit permission, even if the Wi-Fi network is unsecured. The inclusion of the culpable mental state of “knowing” as an element of the offense means that if your computer automatically connects to your neighbor’s wireless network instead of your own and you aren’t aware of it, you haven’t committed a crime. But if you decide to hop onto the nearest unencrypted Wi-Fi network to surf the Internet, knowing full well that it doesn’t belong to you and no one has given you permission, you could be prosecuted under these laws.

A Michigan man was arrested for using a café’s Wi-Fi network (which was reserved for customers) from his car in 2007. Similar arrests have been made in Florida, Illinois, Washington, and Alaska.

The federal law that covers unauthorized access is Title 18 U.S.C. Section 1030, which prohibits intentionally accessing a computer without authorization or exceeding authorized access. But it applies to “protected computers,” which are defined as those used by the U.S. government, by a financial institution, or used in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce. In addition to fines and imprisonment, penalties include forfeiture of any personal property used to commit the crime or derived from proceeds traceable to any violation. You can read the text of that section here.

In a recent case regarding unauthorized access, a high profile lawsuit was filed against a school district in Pennsylvania by students who alleged that district personnel activated their school-issued laptops in their homes and spied on them with the laptops’ webcams. The FBI is investigating to determine whether any criminal laws were broken. Because the school district owned the computers, there is controversy over whether they had the right to remotely access them without the permission of the users.

via 10 ways you might be breaking the law with your computer: UPDATED | 10 Things | TechRepublic.com.

Realtime Updates On Your Google Search Results

Cool Google Search Tip: Google has a feature that brings your search results to life with a dynamic stream of real-time content from across the web. Now, immediately after conducting a search, you can see live updates from people on popular sites like Twitter and FriendFeed, as well as headlines from news and blog posts published just seconds before. When they are relevant, Google ranks these latest results to show the freshest information right on the search results page.

Try searching for your favorite TV show, sporting event or the latest development on a recent government bill or world event. Whether it’s an eyewitness tweet, a breaking news story or a fresh blog post, you can find it on Google right after it’s published on the web.

Click on “Latest results” or select “Latest” from the search options menu (see the following tip to access this menu) to view a full page of live tweets, blogs, news and other web content scrolling right on Google. You can also filter your results to see only “Updates” from micro-blogs like Twitter, FriendFeed, Jaiku and others.

An example: I did a Google search for “Chile earthquake”. From the search results page, I scrolled down until I found “Latest results for Chile earthquake”. Once I clicked on that link, I was taken to a page that continually updated with links to the most recent web entries from all over that dealt with the earthquake in Chile.

Another Cool Google Tip: Kind of a hidden feature on the Google search results page is the light blue bar just above the search results. If you look at the left side of the bar, you’ll see an option to “Show Options”. When you click on this, Google opens a column on the left that allows you to further refine your search. One of the most useful sections of this column is the time frame filter. You can click “Latest” to see what I discussed in the first section, or find results that occurred in the past 24 hours, week, or year.

Those Green Doublelined Words on a Web Page

When you surf, do you see random words or phrases with double underlines? When you move your mouse over them, they display an advertisement related to the underlined words.

This feature, called in-text advertising, turns appropriate words in the browser window into links to the advertiser’s website. These sites work with various companies to link to its advertisers. The browsers support these types of ads and they are created in such a way that most ad-blockers won’t block them. You can try to ignore them by not moving your mouse over them and if you happen to click on one, it will take you away from the current page. Some advertisors will allow you to disable the ads but you’ll have to go company-by-company.  To do so, follow these steps.

Step 1

Point to the double-underlined words, but **don’t click**! You’ll see an advertisement open in a small window near your cursor.

Step 2

If the advertisement is from Vibrant, in the upper right corner of the box, click the question mark button. A new browser window will open pointing to the Vibrant in-text advertising page. If you’re using WOT (Web Of Trust), you’ll get a warning about the site. Continue anyway.

Step 3

Point to the Disable tab. Click “Click here to disable.” It will let you know that to disable, you’ll need to have cookies activated and if you ever clean out your browser cookies, you’ll have to redo these steps.

Step 4

The page should update to now say “Click here to enable.”

Step 5

Close the browser window.

I’ve looked at other advertisors to see how to disable their ads and haven’t found any thing yet. I’ll continue to search though, short of installing a 3rd party program to block these ads.

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