Monthly Archives: March 2009

Don’t Open a Can of Worms! – Get the New Improved WOT

Regular readers of this site are well aware that for the last year or more, I have written extensively about WOT, Web of Trust.

What is WOT?

Can of worms WOT is a free Internet Browser resource that has established an impressive 4.5/5.0 star user rating on CNET, and has become one of the most downloaded FireFox Add-ons at the Mozilla add-on site, with over 4 million users.

If you are an Internet Explorer 8 user (and this is the only release of Internet Explorer you should be using), you’ll be happy to learn WOT is now available for this latest IE release.

According to Matt Crowley, Program Manager, Internet Explorer Extensibility, “WOT is a great example of how add-ons can extend the user experience, functionality, and security of a web browser. This represents the type of quality and usefulness we’re aiming to showcase on ieaddons.com.”

Web of Trust offers Internet users preventive protection against Web-based attacks, online scams, identify theft, and unreliable shopping sites. The WOT security add-on provides safety ratings to search results when using Google, Yahoo!, Digg and other popular sites, helping users protect their computers and personal information.

WOT operates in a unique fashion in order to offer this active protection to the Internet user community. It stands out from the crowd of similar applications, by soliciting the opinions of users/members whose views on web site safety are incorporated into the overall site safety rating. According to WOT, the user community now has reputation data on over 20 million sites worldwide.

The shared information on a site’s reputation includes trustworthiness, vendor reliability, privacy, and child safety. As well, in order to achieve maximum security coverage, WOT uses thousands of trusted sources including phishing site listings, to keep users protected against rapidly spreading threats.

How WOT works

The Browser add-on icon, displays a color rating for each site you visit, indicating whether a site is safe to use, should be used with caution, or avoided entirely. Using traffic light colors, (green, yellow, and red), WOT leaves you in no doubt as to the safety rating of a web site. An impressive feature of WOT is the dropdown transparent warning curtain, shown earlier, triggered on visiting a dangerous site.

WOT new

Recognizing that up to ten percent of Internet users are at a disadvantage however, due to colorblindness, and cannot rely on an Internet safety system based on color coding, the Web of Trust development team recently released an adaptive version of WOT. This version incorporates equivalent alternative information, through assistive or adaptive technology, for colorblind users.

This colorblind accessible application provides the same critical benefits to those individuals who have to contend with visual impairments, as it has to those of us who have come to rely on WOT as a major defense against the pervasive hazards we encounter on the Internet.

WOT integrates seamlessly with search engine results from popular search engines including Google, Yahoo, MSN and other popular sites, and provides impressive protection against Internet predators.

WOT recently added the top three web-based email services – Google Gmail, Windows Live Hotmail and Yahoo! Mail, to its free security protection. You can now feel more confident and secure since WOT checks links embedded in your email, and warns you of dangerous web sites so that you can avoid spyware, spam, phishing, identity theft and other Internet scams; before you click on dangerous embedded links.

Quick facts – WOT checks the following on each web site visited:

Trustworthiness

Vendor reliability

Privacy

Child Safety

Ratings for over 20 million websites

Downloaded 4,000,000 times +

The WOT browser add-on is light and updates automatically

WOT rating icons appear beside search results in Google, Yahoo!, Wikipedia, Gmail, etc.

Settings can be customized to better protect your family

WOT Security Scorecard shows rating details and user comments

Works with Internet Explorer and FireFox

Interface supports English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Polish, Portuguese, Swedish, Finnish, Chinese and Japanese.

WOT now has customizable protection:

WOT provides four convenient one-click protection options that can be changed instantly depending on the situation.

Fast facts:

Light protection suits experienced Web users

Basic protection guides the user by giving warnings

Maximum Safety stops dangerous Web sites from loading

Parental Control blocks access to Web sites with a poor child safety rating and no rating at all

Surf more securely by installing this browser add-on which will provide you with an in-depth site analysis based on real world results. Keep in mind however, that you are your own best protection. Stop · Think · Click

Download at: MyWot

Watch a demo video showing how WOT works in practice.

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Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Browser add-ons, Child Safety Internet, Don't Get Hacked, Email, Firefox Add-ons, Freeware, Google, Interconnectivity, internet explorer 8, Internet Explorer Add-ons, Internet Safety Tools, Online Safety, Safe Surfing, System Security, Windows Tips and Tools

Tech Thoughts Daily Security Alerts – March 31, 2009

Danger worm

Conficker – the truth about April 1st – There has been a lot of panic spread about what the Conficker worm might do on April 1st. Find out the truth behind the headlines.

Conficker – The Paris Hilton of Botnets – I actually had to stop and wonder for a minute if all this newfound attention is truly merited.

New Free Scanners Available For Detecting Conficker Worm Infections – Researchers spent the weekend building a proof-of-concept set of tools to kill the Conficker worm.

Mac malware web attack – caught on video – It’s not just Windows users who are at risk when surfing the web.

GhostNet: Is the Chinese government really behind it? – Is there enough evidence to confidently claim that the Chinese authorities are behind the attacks?

19,000 credit cards listed online – Included in the data were names and home addresses as well as full card information.

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Filed under Internet Security Alerts

Tech Thoughts Daily Security Alerts – March 30, 2009

Danger worm

German researchers score Conficker detection breakthrough – With the help of Dan Kaminsky and Rich Mogull, off-the-shelf network scanning vendors have the ability remotely (and anonymously) detect Conficker infections.

Controlled cloud the way to go for security – Enterprise security will increasingly move to include a cloud component but in-the-cloud protection cannot be the only means of defense.

New Rootkit Attack Hard To Kill – Researchers have come up with a way to create an even stealthier rootkit that survives reboots and evades antivirus software.

Panda Security Offers Free Panda USB Vaccine To Block Malware – Solution designed to block malware that spreads through removable drives, such as pen drives, CD/DVD drives, and other data storage devices.

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Disable Avira Notifier

Avira AntiVir Freeware Personal Edition 7.06.00.268 I recently downloaded Avira AntiVir Personal – Free Antivirus as my primary antivirus program. I had been using version 8.2.

Recently my favorite security tech guru – Bill Mullins, advised me that version 9 is now ready for download. I couldn’t immediately find an update to version 8.2 so I used my trusty Revo Uninstaller to uninstall version 8.2 and made a clean install with version 9.

For those of you who don’t use Avira, I’m the poster child, card carrying member for their product. I have tried several antivirus programs and Avira works the best in my opinion.

That being said, Avira has one drawback – A nagging notifier to upgrade to the premium version pops up every time you update the Avira database.

Well, you don’t think g would put up with a popup do ya? Heck no!

To disable this pesky notifier, simply follow these directions:

For XP and Vista Users:

1. Start-> Control Panel

2. Administrative tools-> Local security policy

3. Click on Software Restriction Policy-> Action (at the top)-> create new restriction policies

4. Right-click additional rules (on the right side)-> new path rule

5. Click Browse and navigate to C:\Program Files\(Avira)\AntiVir Desktop\ and double-click avnotify.exe

6. Set the security level to Disallowed-> apply-> ok

If you had Avira previously installed and have already disallowed this, you need to change the thread to match (which for me meant changing AntiVir Personal Classic to AntiVir Desktop).

It’s a beautiful thing my friends!

You can download Avira AntiVir Personal at Download.com.

Guest Writer: This is a guest post by Glenn Taggart of The Crazy World of G, who brings a background as a high level super user, to the Blogging world.

Why not pay a visit to Glenn’s site at The Crazy World of G.

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Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Antivirus Applications, Don't Get Hacked, Freeware, Guest Writers, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

Spyware Terminator v2.5

It must be upgrade week for the arsenal of antivirus/malware/spyware software that I use.

Spyware Terminator v2.5 is now available for download (free). It has some nice features that were not previously available on v2.3 (the last version I had loaded).

One thing that irritated me about Spyware Terminator was asking me every time if I wanted to run certain programs. This was just a minor annoyance but the positives with this fine piece of software far outweighed the minor annoyances I mentioned.

The latest release helps fix those annoyances by giving you the option to “remember the program”. You only need click it once and Spyware Terminator will “remember the program” for the next time you run it. So in a nutshell, my previous minor annoyance is fixed.

Spyware Terminator offers the following features:

  • Spyware/Malware realtime protection
  • WebGuard (you can enable or disable this feature)
  • HIPS protection (host intrusion)
  • Integration with ClamAV (antivirus)
  • Automatic Updates
  • Automatic Scanning (enable or disable)
  • FREE!

I’ve been using Spyware Terminator for about a year now and can’t recommend it enough.

Download at: Download.com

Guest Writer: This is a guest post by Glenn Taggart of The Crazy World of G, who brings a background as a high level super user, to the Blogging world.

Why not pay a visit to Glenn’s site at The Crazy World of G.

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Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Don't Get Hacked, Freeware, Guest Writers, Interconnectivity, Internet Safety Tools

When Internet Security NEWS isn’t!

Across the globe this morning, the news has been released that a “vast electronic spying operation dubbed GhostNet”, has been discovered by researchers at the University of Toronto.

Major newspapers, worldwide, have reported on this story as a sampling of news headlines illustrates.

“U of T team tracks China-based cyber spies” – Toronto Star

“Cyber spies hack into government computers across the globe” – Jakarta Post

“Canadian researchers uncover Chinese spy plot against Dalai Lama” – Irish Sun

“Massive Chinese computer espionage network uncovered” – The Guardian

So, what’s wrong with this news story? Well, how about this – This is NOT news!

Simply because this story is not news of course, doesn’t mean that it can’t be MADE news. Just add the following quote from Ronald Deibert, a member of the research group and an associate professor of political science who said: “This could well be the CIA or the Russians. It’s a murky realm that we’re lifting the lid on.”

Newspapers

Huh? You, are lifting the lid on this. Let me quote ABC’s John Stossel here “Give me a break”. Where have you been Mr. Deibert? This “news” report is only marginally informative, contains no new Internet security information of any value, and is on the face of it – misleading.

To quote the article “The malware is remarkable both for its sweep – in computer jargon, it has not been merely “phishing” for random consumers’ information, but “whaling” for particular important targets – and for its Big Brother-style capacities. It can, for example, turn on the camera and audio-recording functions of an infected computer enabling monitors to see and hear what goes on in a room”.

Here’s a clue for these researchers – every day, typically average Internet users’ are exposed to vastly more sophisticated malware and penetration attempts, just by surfing the Web. A level of malware sophistication that makes the scenario described in the article, look like amateur day at the Burlesque.

Some examples used in the article to drive home the point that this occurrence is somehow a particularly dangerous and new threat:

Whaling for particular important targets?

This is the standard and typical behavior of a “banker” Trojan, which sit in the background of an infected machine until such time as the victim signs on to a banking site. The Trojan then intercepts the privileged data and transmits that data to cybercrooks.

Activating a video camera and audio pickup?

This is a no brainer for malware writers. In fact mobile spyware has the potential to turn on your phone’s camera or voice recorder, turning your own phone into a spying device. Now that’s a story worth writing about; one that has direct impact on vast numbers of individuals.

Here’s the sad reality – savvy computer users are better equipped to harden their computers against penetration than most government agencies/departments. If you think not, then checkout the ample evidence on the Internet that supports this view.

As ABC Television’s 20/20 likes to say “We’re in touch – so you be in touch”. Good advice for most news organizations when it comes to reporting on technology issues. Thus far, most newspapers are essentially illiterate when reporting on even the most minor computer security issues.

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Filed under Interconnectivity, Internet Safety, Malware Advisories, Personal Perspective, Spyware - Adware Protection, trojans, Viruses, worms

Uninstalling and Installing AntiVirus Software…

Antivirus software are complex programs designed to identify, neutralize or eliminate malicious content that invade your computer. Many people over a period of time will change from one brand of antivirus software to another. Antivirus software is big business and today there are many flavors and options available.

For example; there are (3)-three “FREE (for personal use)” reputable antivirus packages that are widely recognized (see below). I prefer any one of these over the major brand antivirus software packages due they are light on system resources, and are not bloated. As a matter of fact, I cannot remember ever having a commercial (paid for) version of an antivirus program on any of my computers at home.

avast

antivir

avg

The points of this article is to educate you to the fact that there are FREE antivirus software options available and that follow-up research may be required to “completely” uninstall (remove) antivirus software from your system in the event you desire to install another antivirus program.

Antivirus software, when running on your system, is hooked into many areas (i.e. registry, file system, resident memory, etc…) and uninstalling it can leave debris behind that can cause other systemic issues.

Antiviruses are like viruses; they can be hard to get rid of… To prove my point, I researched (9)-nine antivirus programs and found that every one of them had supplemental removal instructions or tools, in addition to following the typical Add/Remove console process found in Windows.

I have listed the sites below for convenience and reference. During this research I also found that locating this information was often buried deep in their sites and was not readily accessible.

Antivirus Programs – Uninstall Information & Links

Norton Removal Tool – The Norton Removal Tool uninstalls all Norton 2009/2008/2007/2006/2005/2004/2003 products, Norton 360 and Norton SystemWorks 12.0 from your computer. If you use ACT! or WinFAX, back up those databases before you proceed.

McAfee Consumer Products Removal tool (MCPR.exe) – uninstall or reinstall supported McAfee consumer products using the McAfee Consumer Products Removal tool (MCPR.exe)

Avast! uninstall utility – Sometimes it’s not possible to uninstall avast! the standard way – using the ADD/REMOVE PROGRAMS in control panel. In this case, you can use our uninstallation utility aswClear.

Avira AntiVir – Normally the Avira Registry Cleaner removes all entries that were created by AntiVir. In this way, it prepares your system for the installation of a new AntiVir version.

BitDefender Uninstall Tool – There are two methods of uninstalling BitDefender from your computer: using the system tools and using the special uninstall tool provided by BitDefender.

Kaspersky’s Antivirus Removal Tool – Some errors might occur when deleting Kaspersky Anti-Virus product via Start > Control Panel > Add\Remove Programs. As a result the program will not be uninstalled or will be partially uninstalled. The removal tool is required to remove a variety of their products.

F-Secure Internet Security (and antivirus) – Should you decide to uninstall, F-Secure does not provide its own uninstaller. You must use the Microsoft uninstaller found in Add and Remove Programs within the Command Console. After a reboot we found no Registry files, but we did find several program and log files in an F-Secure directory tree on the root drive.

Trend Micro Antivirus – Trend Micro Support to remove Trend Antivirus plus AntiSpyware from my computer?

AVG – Open the directory with AVG Free Edition installed in and run the SETUP.EXE file or download the current installation file of AVG Free Edition from here and run it to start installation process. A window with following options will be displayed during the installation process: Add/Remove Components, Repair installation or Uninstall.

This is a guest post by Rick Robinette, who brings a background as a security/police officer professional, and as an information technology specialist to the Blogging world.

Why not pay a visit to Rick’s site at What’s On My PC.

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Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Free Security Programs, Freeware, Software, Uninstall Managers, Uninstall Tools, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Tech Thoughts Daily Security Alerts – March 28, 2009

Danger worm

Don’t get taken in by the Conficker panic – Lately it seems everybody is talking about Conficker and its variants. And much more so if we have to take into account the build up fear around April 1st.

The Nabload.DLU Trojan hides behind a funny video to steal bank details – PandaLabs, Panda Security’s malware detection and analysis laboratory, has reported the appearance of Nabload.DLU, a Trojan that passes itself off as a funny video to trick users while it downloads another malicious code to steal passwords of online banking services.

Hackers have already attacked the electric grid – The CIA claims that a year ago hackers invaded the networks of power utilities outside the U.S., causing power outages in several cities, and issuing extortion demands.

10 Best FireFox Addons for Security and Privacy – Security and privacy are some of the major concerns these days while choosing a web browser to use. So much so that all the major players in the “browser wars” are providing or developing a private browsing mode.

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Tech Thoughts Daily Security Alerts – March 27, 2009

Danger worm

Beware Conficker worm come April 1 – In an event that hits the computer world only once every few years, security experts are racing against time to mitigate the impact of a bit of malware which is set to wreak havoc on a hard-coded date. As is often the case, that date is April 1. Not sure if this is real or a scam but………

Hackers exploit Conficker interest – Cybercriminals eager to exploit interest in the Conficker worm are employing search engine optimisation (SEO) techniques.

Melissa’s 10th birthday marked – It’s 10 years since the Melissa virus made its first appearance on the web.

FaceBook retools password resets – FaceBook has changed the way its password reset tool works so that it does not easily verify e-mail addresses to potential spammers.

Privacy group targets Google Street View U.K. – Watchdog group Privacy International has filed a formal complaint with the U.K. government over the recent introduction of Google’s Street View in Britain.

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Tweak Windows to the Max with Fresh UI Free!

Fresh UI 1 Has Fresh UI (User Interface), been around forever, or does it just seem that way? One of the oldest and most well established free Windows tweaking applications, Freshdevices’ Fresh UI is a powerful tool that allows you to configure and optimize your version of Windows.

This small (1.48 MB) program has a clean, easy to understand interface that gives you access to hundreds of system settings, some of which are hidden, and others that are just hard to find. The interface is organized by section for easy navigation, and it is complete with detailed descriptions for easy reference.

I have heard from some users that in their view, it was not always clear what outcome they could expect with some of the selections. On the other hand, most users seem to agree that the help file is fairly extensive, and easy to understand for those who have a reasonable knowledge of their operating system.

The major benefit in using this type of tweaking application is the ease with which you can make changes to your system, without the drudgery of having to go through menu after menu, or manually editing the Registry to get the results you want.

However, as with any application that makes changes to your system, use caution and be sure to have a verified backup.

FreshUI 2

Quick facts:

Customizing Windows User Interface (UI)

Optimizing system settings

Optimizing hardware settings

Customizing Windows application settings

Control user environment

System requirements: Windows Vista/XP/2000/NT/ 98/95/ – runs great on Windows 7!

Note: Free registration required, which will lead to one or two emails monthly.

Download at: Download.com

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Filed under Computer Maintenance, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Slow Computer, Software, System Tweaks, System Utilities, Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools