Tag Archives: Yahoo

Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday Edition – August 5, 2015

Trust no one: How caller ID spoofing has ruined the simple phone call;   Want Windows 10 to stop tracking you? Now there’s an app for that;  Use Cortana to control your Android phone from Windows 10;  Tor users: Do not expect anonymity and end-to-end security;  LibreOffice 5: The best office suite today won’t cost you a dime;  12 obscure new Windows 10 features that eliminate everyday hassles;  Mac backup basics;  YouTube rolls out an updated video player;  How to install Windows 10 on a Mac;  BitTorrent Sync apps updated with productivity features;  Yahoo’s ads spread malware via hackers, vulnerable Flash;  Netflix Surges 8% To All-Time High;  Xbox One will get a TV DVR feature next year;  14 Optical Illusions That Prove Your Brain Sucks;  Why it’s time to prepare for a world where machines can do your job.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Trust no one: How caller ID spoofing has ruined the simple phone call – Caller ID is easy to spoof and it’s leading to a host of real threats, from account recovery fraud to marketing scams to malicious pranks resulting in SWAT teams showing up at a victim’s door.

Windows 10 doesn’t offer much privacy by default: Here’s how to fix it – Windows 10, by default, has permission to report a huge amount of data back to Microsoft. By clicking through “Express Settings” during installation, you allow Windows 10 to gather up your contacts, calendar details, text and touch input, location data, and a whole lot more. The OS then sends it all back to Microsoft so that it can be used for personalisation and targeted ads. That isn’t to say you should be happy about this state of affairs, however. If you’d like to retain most of your privacy and keep your personal data on your PC, Windows 10 can be configured in that way. Just be warned that there are quite a few toggles that need to be turned off, and you’ll lose some functionality as well (Cortana won’t work, for example).

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Want Windows 10 to stop tracking you? Now there’s an app for that – Some have said Microsoft does not respect its users’ privacy by default; others believe some of the hype is overblown. Perhaps the biggest critique is that upon setup, the process could offer more granular options, and report less data back to the software giant. All of the tracking mechanisms can be switched off through the various options at setup, and after the fact through the settings. But now there’s a lightweight, open-source app that aims to claw back your privacy.

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Windows 10 Tip: Customizing the Start menu – With Windows 10, Microsoft is offering new ways to customize the Start menu and for those of you who are new to the OS, we have a guide to help you get started making Windows feel a bit more personal.

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Windows 10 ‘Service Release 1’ expected to roll out next month – SR1 will be a maintenance update, focusing on adding polish and stability to the OS, so don’t expect any new features. As more people continue to upgrade to Windows 10, Microsoft will gather more telemetry from the OS in action, and will no doubt use that data to help inform development of future maintenance releases.

Use Cortana to control your Android phone from Windows 10 – Cortana is now almost everywhere, thanks to Windows 10 bringing Microsoft’s smart assistant desktops and tablets. While there have been indications that Cortana will indeed come to Android smartphones, that might still be a long time coming. What if you wanted Cortana to let you control your smartphone, or almost anything else, hands-free and only using your voice? Good thing, then, that Android already has all the needed tools to make that happen and, with a bit of trickery, rope in Cortana into it as well.

12 obscure new Windows 10 features that eliminate everyday hassles – The amount of new goodies in Windows 10 is almost mind-boggling. Even if you’ve read PCWorld’s insanely detailed Windows 10 review, our look at Windows 10’s best new features, and our mammoth guides to the operating system’s best tips and tricks and hidden features, you still haven’t seen everything Microsoft has to throw at you. Case in point: These 10 awesome new Windows 10 features that fly under the radar. Between these and virtual desktop support, Windows 10 renders a decent chunk of our list of free PC programs that ease headaches obsolete. Let’s dig in.

How to install Windows 10 on a Mac – If you haven’t already heard, Windows 10 is pretty great and worth installing on your PC. Apple fans won’t miss out either, since the new operating system can be installed on your Mac as well. Following these instructions will install Windows 10 on your Mac in a dual-boot configuration, meaning you’ll have the option to choose which operating system (Windows 10 or Mac OS) to use each time you turn on the computer.

Mac backup basics – A Mac backup plan doesn’t have to be complicated. The easier a plan is to set up and follow, the more likely you are to use it and have a current backup when disaster happens.

LibreOffice 5: The best office suite today won’t cost you a dime – I’ve used LibreOffice as my main office suite since it forked from OpenOffice five years ago. Now its latest edition, LibreOffice 5.0, is better than ever. And, in my book, that means it’s the best standalone office suite available in 2015.

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YouTube rolls out an updated video player – You may have already noticed this morning that YouTube has rolled out a revised version of its video player for desktop users. The new video player looks very nice and you can see it in the image here or when you play any of the embedded videos on SlashGear. YouTube didn’t bother to toss up a PR to tell us all of what it changed leaving us to glean the details for ourselves.

The $169 Cloudbook is Acer’s idea of a Windows 10 Chromebook – Announced a month ago, Acer has officially launched the Windows 10 equivalent of Google’s Chromebooks, coming in at jut $169 and running full Windows 10.

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Epson’s new printers will make ink cartridges a thing of the past – Printer drivers, paper jams, running out of ink, it’s all the worst (though the advent of wireless printing makes things marginally less horrible). Epson is trying to do its part to make things a little better with its new line of EcoTank printers — despite the ridiculous name, they have the smart idea of coming with huge tanks of ink that should last about two years before they need to be replaced. Epson claims that these printers have about the same capacity of 20 sets of ink cartridges; when the tanks run low, you can top them off with a bottle of ink. Basically, the EcoTank is the Droid Turbo of printers: can’t come up with better ink / battery technology? Just make things bigger. These printers don’t come cheap, either — the least expensive EcoTank printer starts at $379.

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BitTorrent Sync apps updated with productivity features – The Bittorrent Sync mobile apps have been updated with features needed for productivity, not just file sharing. Among the changes is the ability to directly edit files and then sync those changes on other devices where the item is stored. There’s also the option to create different file types that are saved straight into the Sync folder for sharing to other devices or users. The changes have arrived for mobile users on multiple platforms as of today.

Security:

Security experts create worm that infects Mac firmware and is nearly impossible to get rid of – Apple’s Macs and OS X have traditionally been viewed as a safer, more secure alternative to Windows, but researchers have proven that’s not the case. Security experts created a worm that attaches itself to a Mac’s firmware and remains there no matter what. Ahead of a presentation on this type of attack, researchers created a proof-of-concept worm that can stealthily burrow itself into a Mac’s firmware. It’s then impossible to remove without re-flashing the device’s firmware, which can be difficult and is only for those who really know what they’re doing.

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Yahoo’s ads spread malware via hackers, vulnerable Flash – Yahoo was recently hit by hackers who used its advertisements to deliver malware to an unspecified number of visitors on several of its own websites, it has been revealed. The malware campaign carried on for a full 7-day week before Yahoo, having been alerted by the researchers who discovered it, took it down. Yahoo says it is investigating the matter, and though it has not revealed how many people were affected, it said through a spokesperson that the initial reports “grossly misrepresented” the scale of the attack.

Tor users: Do not expect anonymity and end-to-end security – The Tor network is similar to a door lock: It works well, until a determined individual wants to get in. Get details on what Tor is and what it is not.

EFF developing stronger ‘Do Not Track’ standards for web browsers – While a “Do Not Track” setting has become standard in most browsers today, including Chrome, Safari, and Firefox, it’s commonly known that internet advertisers still have ways of tracking users. Advertisers profit from tracking the browsing history of users, and whether users have turned the Do Not Track setting on or not, many will ignore it altogether in their quest for data. That’s why the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has announced it’s building a stronger standard for the setting, aimed to protecting user privacy.

Battery Attributes Can Be Used To Track Web Users – A team of European security researchers has published a paper analyzing how the battery life of mobile devices could be used to track web browsing habits of Firefox users on Linux, using the HTML5 Battery Status API.

Company News:

Netflix Surges 8% To All-Time High On News Of New Price Target And Japan Launch Date – On a day the NASDAQ was down about 0.2 percent, Netflix hit a new all-time high during intra-day trading, hitting $122.78 and eventually closing at $121.00 per share, up 7.5 percent on the day. The video streaming service has seen its shares rise 143 percent so far in 2015. A stock split, Icahn cashing out, and and encouraging earnings reports have spurred investor’s attention in the company, as has its recently announced entry into Asian markets.

Netflix Announces Its New ‘Unlimited’ Maternity And Paternity Leave Program – A few hours after hitting its all-time stock price high today, Netflix has announced a new program for all employees. This is a pretty landmark perk, with the company showing both current and potential employees how much it cares. The company suggests parents can come back to the office either part or full time, then go back out as necessary during the first year. All paid of course. Yahoo doubled its maternity and paternity leave in 2013 to make it more competitive with Facebook and Google, and it has shown to be an important perk for all three companies. The talent is growing up.

Apple falls to third in China smartphone rankings, while Xiaomi vaults ahead – Xiaomi regained its position as China’s leading smartphone vendor in the second quarter, while Apple fell to third place despite increased sales of its iPhones. Xiaomi took 15.9% of the Chinese market in the April-to-June quarter, according to research firm Canalys, followed by Huawei, which had 15.7% and was the fastest growing vendor. It’s an impressive feat for both Xiaomi and Huawei. China is the world’s biggest smartphone market and competition is more fierce than ever, with Apple, Samsung and dozens of smaller local vendors all fighting for a bigger piece of the pie.

Accenture acquires US cybersecurity firm FusionX – Global consulting giant Accenture announced on Tuesday it has acquired FusionX, a Washington, DC-based cybersecurity firm. FusionX specializes in cyber attack simulation, threat modeling, cyber investigations and security risk advisory — services that Dublin-based Accenture plans to fold into its own suite of global security offerings.

Amazon responds to furor over limits on Prime sharing – Amazon has responded to an erupting controversy surrounding its popular Prime membership program, saying that a change it quietly made in regard to sharing accounts was meant to benefit customers, not restrict them.

Games and Entertainment:

Xbox One backward compatibility for Xbox 360 games launches in November with 100 titles – Microsoft’s Mike Ybarra said that over 83 years’ worth of Xbox 360 games have been played on the Xbox One so far – and there will soon be plenty more titles to look forward to. He announced that all future Xbox 360 Games with Gold titles will have backward compatibility support on the newer console. Most importantly of all, he announced that Microsoft will make Xbox 360 backward compatibility available on the Xbox One this November for everyone – not just those on the preview program – with over 100 titles at launch.

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Xbox One will get a TV DVR feature next year – Microsoft announced the new feature on stage at Gamescom today, but the company is limiting it to only free-to-air TV. While the Xbox One can control and view content from cable boxes using a HDMI-in port, Microsoft has released digital TV tuners in Europe and the US to support free-to-air television. Mike Ybarra, head of platform engineering at Xbox, only mentioned recording free-to-air TV on stage, and Microsoft’s blog post reveals this is for free-to-air only. Microsoft is planning to enable the Xbox One TV DVR feature in 2016.

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Microsoft announces Halo World Championship with $1 million prize pool – We’ve seen plenty of Halo 5: Guardians in the lead-up to its October 27th release date. For Gamescom 2015, Microsoft focused on Halo’s history as an e-sport — and then took it a step further by announcing a World Championship with $1 million in prizes. That’s a significant boost from last month’s $150,000 pool but still a far cry from the $18 million Dota 2 International Championships. The focus will be on Halo 5’s more frenetic Arena multiplayer (instead of Warzone).

Off Topic (Sort of):

Stratolaunch aircraft will have a 385-foot wingspan – Paul Allen, Elon Musk and several other partners are teaming up to build an aircraft that will be the largest aircraft in the entire world when finished. The aircraft is dubbed Stratolaunch and if all goes well the partners plan to begin testing the aircraft in 2016. Stratolaunch is already under construction at the Mojave Air and Spaceport in California. The partners plan to use the giant aircraft to perform in air launches of satellite-laden rockets. By launching the rockets in the air rather than from the ground, inclement weather wouldn’t delay a launch and the rockets would save fuel since they would already be at altitude and speed before the launch started.

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Google And MIT Researchers Demo An Algorithm That Lets You Take Clear Photos Through Reflections – In a paper they will present at Siggraph 2015 later this month, Tianfan Xue, Michael Rubinstein, Ce Liu and William T. Freeman show how you can take a short video sequence with your phone and then let their algorithms do their magic. Reflections, rain drops and fences mostly disappear from the final image. The algorithms looks at the different images from the video and then figure out what’s an obstruction in the foreground and what’s part of the background. Others have tried this before, but none of their results are as good as what these researcher came up with.

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14 Optical Illusions That Prove Your Brain Sucks – Our brains filter through a constant tsunami of stimuli and piece the important parts together to recreate what we know as “reality.” And they do all this in damn-near real-time—which is really impressive if you think about it. But here’s the thing: a big chunk of what we consider “reality” actually consists of our brains making guestimates. We know this because researchers have devised ways to consistently fool our brains into seeing things they’re not really seeing—even when our brains know that’s not what they’re seeing. These little reality busters are known as “optical illusions.”

Why it’s time to prepare for a world where machines can do your job – For decades movies have warned of intelligent machines taking our lives while ignoring a more plausible near-future threat: that they will take our jobs. A growing number of economists and artificial intelligence researchers are recommending that societies prepare for a world where large numbers of jobs are automated. If they’re right, the disruption to labour markets would be significant: the jobs identified as vulnerable are held by swathes of the population including supermarket cashiers and shop assistants, waiters, truck drivers and office admins. All of these tasks have a high probability of being carried out by software within “a decade or two”, according to a study by the Oxford Martin School & Faculty of Philosophy in the UK.

Watch: man surfs with dirt bike, rides across ocean – If you thought GoPro’s video of a man flying like a superhero down a mountain and through a split rock was impressive, DC’s new video will blow your mind. Titled ‘Pipe Dream’, the video shows the successful conclusion of one man’s two-year pursuit: to surf with his dirt bike. He took to the waves in full motocross getup, helmet and all. He also blasted his way over the ocean on the motor bike, dumbfounding a few people in the process. Full video after the jump!

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Dear sexists, this is what engineers actually look like – Technically Incorrect: In response to criticism of an ad featuring a female engineer, the Twitter hashtag #Ilooklikeanegineer attracts pictures of the sort of people that some wouldn’t expect.

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Sugar changes the chemical structure of tea and coffee – Some people just can’t handle their coffee or tea black. It’s too bitter, they say. So, they put a little sugar in to get rid of some of the bitter bite. However, researchers have found that the additive isn’t masking the flavor of these favorite morning beverages — it’s changing the chemistry of the caffeine within these drinks in a fundamental way.

Something to think about:

“Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

–       Isaac Asimov

Today’s Free Downloads:

Viber for desktop – Viber for Desktop lets you send free messages as well as make free calls to other Viber users, on any device and network, in any country!

Free calls, text and picture sharing with anyone, anywhere!

    Free text, calling, photo messages and location-sharing with Viber users*

No registration, alias or invitations required

Instantly integrates with your own contact list

Best-quality mobile calls using 3G or Wi-Fi

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Global spy system ECHELON confirmed at last – by leaked Snowden files – Special Report: Duncan Campbell has spent decades unmasking Britain’s super-secretive GCHQ, its spying programmes, and its cosy relationship with America’s NSA. Today, he retells his life’s work exposing the government’s over-reaching surveillance, and reveals documents from the leaked Snowden files confirming the history of the fearsome ECHELON intercept project. This story is also published simultaneously today by The Intercept, as is – at long last – Duncan’s Register Christmas Lecture from last year.

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India nixes online porn ban following intense public outrage on social media – That didn’t take long. The world’s oldest Internet hobby is resuming in India, days after the country virtually banned Internet porn. Indians took to Twitter and other social-media sites blasting this weekend’s anti-porn move, and the government has listened.

IT and Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said Tuesday that websites that don’t display child pornography may resume streaming, according to local media reports. On Saturday, the Indian government initially ordered Internet providers to filter about 857 websites said to render pornographic material in a bid to protect morality. The government said the sites’ content was “immoral and indecent,” sites including things like Pornhub and Playboy.

“A new notification will be issued shortly. The ban will be partially withdrawn. Sites that do not promote child porn will be unbanned,” Prasad told India Today TV.

Senate heads toward vote on CISA cyberthreat info sharing bill – The U.S. Senate could take a preliminary vote as soon as Wednesday on a controversial bill intended to encourage businesses to share cyberthreat information with each other and with government agencies, despite concerns that the legislation would allow the widespread sharing of personal customer data.

Senate leaders are attempting to iron out compromise language to address privacy concerns in the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), but if no compromise is reached Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will schedule a so-called cloture vote on Wednesday morning, said a spokesman for McConnell, a Kentucky Republican.

A cloture vote would limit debate on the bill and move the Senate toward final passage, potentially before the Senate leaves for a four-week summer recess this weekend.

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Filed under Free Software Downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Latest Tech News

Another Worm Worms Its Way Into Instant Messaging Applications

imageFrom the more things change the more they remain the same files:

AV-killing worm spreads via Facebook chat and IM clients – A rather industrious piece of malware that – among other things – paves the way for other malware by disabling AV solutions and software update modules has been spotted spreading via several Instant Messaging applications (ICQ, Skype, GTalk, Pidgin, MSN, YIM) and Facebook.

The victims receive a message from an unknown user, offering a link to a funny or interesting video. If they follow it, the malware in question downloads automatically from the linked site and is executed.

Nothing new here – as any one of the 10 or more articles I’ve  written over the years on using Instant Messenger applications safely will attest to. The following post (originally published September 4, 2010) will serve as a quick refresher on how to navigate the Internet safely while using an Instant Messenger client.

Tips For Using Instant Messenger Applications Safely

In a recent Symantec survey, which questioned computer users on the most likely routes cybercriminals use to drop malware on unsuspecting users, one resultant statistic made me sit up a little straighter. Just 3.9% of survey participants believed that Instant Messenger applications had a role in malware distribution.

Given the frequency with which instant messaging is used to distribute malware (recent statistics indicate almost 50% of worms use this method to spread), I was more than a little surprised at this unrealistic response.

The reality is, from a security perspective Instant Messaging applications can present considerable security risks. Security breakdowns can occur when these programs are used to share files, folders, or in some cases, entire drives. Instant messaging, unfortunately, is a primary channel used by cyber-criminals to distribute malware and scams.

Programs such as MSN Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, AIM, and a basket full of other IM applications, are extremely popular with users who want real-time contact with each other and (no surprise here), this makes them the perfect vehicle for cyber criminals.

Hackers use two methods of delivering malicious code through IM: delivery of virus, Trojan, or spy ware within an infected file, and the use of “socially engineered” text with a web address that entices the recipient to click on a URL which connects to a website that downloads malicious code. Viruses, worms, and Trojans then typically propagate, by sending themselves rapidly through the infected user’s buddy list.

image

The following is a series of sensible tips for users to get the most out of these programs, securely and responsibly.

As with any other application you use on the Internet, having the knowledge that allows you to use it safely, and being aware of current threats, will make for a more positive experience when using these wildly popular applications.

Don’t click on links, or download files from unknown sources. You need to be alert to the dangers in clicking on links, or downloading files from sources that are not known to you. Even if the files or links apparently come from someone you know, you have to be positive that it really was this person who has sent the message.

Check with your contact to be sure the files, or links are genuine. Remember, if you click on those links, or run those attachments without confirmation, you run the risk of letting malware into your computer.

Use only secure passwords, and be sure to change them regularly. The longer and more varied they are – using a variety of different characters and numbers – the more secure they will be.

Protect personal and confidential information when using IM. Revealing confidential or personal information in these types of conversations, can make you an easy target for Internet predators.

For added protection when using a public computer, ensure that you disable any features that retain login information to prevent other users from gaining access to your instant messaging once you leave.

It’s virtually impossible to avoid publishing your email address on the Internet, however do so only when absolutely necessary. Cyber criminals are always on the lookout for accounts to target.

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Filed under Don't Get Hacked, Instant Messenger Safety Tips, Interconnectivity, Malware Alert

Cyber Crooks Taking Another Crack At Yahoo Instant Messenger

imageI’ve been known to  stare at my monitor, humming a few bars of  – “IM malware go away, and come back another day”, from time to time. Doesn’t seem to work though.  🙂 IM malware never goes away – it just fades into the malware background chatter.

Despite the fact that Instant Messenger malware (which has been with us since 2005, or so), doesn’t create much of a fuss, and seems to prefer to stay just below the horizon, it’s as dangerous as it’s ever been.

In business, when something works, why bother to reinvent the wheel. A little nip here; a little tuck there and hey – you’re still in business! No surprise then, when we see that cybercriminals subscribe to this business philosophy.

–   Yahoo Instant Messenger Under Attack Again or Still? (May 4, 2010)

It’s easy to forget about the risks associated with Instant Messaging precisely because of this lack of profile. Until, that is, IM malware comes knocking – hard – like now!

BitDefender’s, Bogdan Botezatu, reports in a recent Blog post, that Yahoo Messenger is currently under attack – and, taking a hard knocking.

From the Blog:

New Yahoo Messenger 0-Day Exploit Hijacks User’s Status Update…and spreads malware, of course!

A newly discovered exploit in version 11.x of the Messenger client (including the freshly-released 11.5.0.152-us) allows a remote attacker to arbitrarily change the status message of virtually any Yahoo Messenger user that runs the vulnerable version.

Since you’re an astute and educated user, none of this comes as a surprise, I’m sure. But, what about a typical user – would he/she be surprised, do you suppose?

Let’s take a look –

In a recent Symantec survey, which questioned computer users on the most likely routes cybercriminals use to drop malware on unsuspecting users – just 3.9% of survey participants believed that Instant Messenger applications had a role in malware distribution.

Unfortunately, the only surprise here is – this is not a surprise.

The harsh reality is, from a security perspective, Instant Messaging applications can present considerable security risks. So naturally, cyber-criminals use Instant Messaging as a primary channel to distribute malware and scams.

We’ve talked about IM security a number of times here, but with this ongoing attack, a quick refresher might be in order.

As with any other application you use on the Internet, having the knowledge that allows you to use it safely, and being aware of current threats, will make for a more positive experience when using these wildly popular applications.

The following is a series of sensible tips for users to get the most out of these programs, securely and responsibly.

Don’t click on links, or download files from unknown sources. You need to be alert to the dangers in clicking on links, or downloading files from sources that are not known to you. Even if the files or links apparently come from someone you know, you have to be positive that it really was this person who has sent the message.

Check with your contact to be sure the files, or links are genuine. Remember, if you click on those links, or run those attachments without confirmation, you run the risk of letting malware into your computer.

Use only secure passwords, and be sure to change them regularly. The longer and more varied they are – using a variety of different characters and numbers – the more secure they will be.

Protect personal and confidential information when using IM. Revealing confidential or personal information in these types of conversations, can make you an easy target for Internet predators.

For added protection when using a public computer, ensure that you disable any features that retain login information to prevent other users from gaining access to your instant messaging once you leave.

It’s virtually impossible to avoid publishing your email address on the Internet, however do so only when absolutely necessary. Cyber criminals are always on the lookout for accounts to target.

Instant Messanger changed Above all, if you are a parent, take exceptional care with the access that your children have to these programs.

The risk here goes beyond malware, as sadly, they could come into contact with undesirable individuals. The risk is low of course, but……..

Elsewhere in this Blog, you can read an article on protecting your children on the Internet and download free software, Parental Control Bar,  to help you do just that.

BTW, you can hum “IM malware go away, and come back another day”, to the new version of that old familiar tune – Rain Rain Go Away.    Smile

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

Comments Off on Cyber Crooks Taking Another Crack At Yahoo Instant Messenger

Filed under Cyber Crime, Instant Messenger Safety Tips, Interconnectivity, Malware Advisories, Online Safety, Yahoo

Tips For Using Instant Messenger Applications Safely

imageIn a recent Symantec survey, which questioned computer users on the most likely routes cybercriminals use to drop malware on unsuspecting users, one resultant statistic made me sit up a little straighter. Just 3.9% of survey participants believed that Instant Messenger applications had a role in malware distribution.

Given the frequency with which instant messaging is used to distribute malware (recent statistics indicate almost 50% of worms use this method to spread), I was more than a little surprised at this unrealistic response.

We’ve talked about IM security a number of times here, but this recent statistics indicates, a quick refresher might be in order.

The reality is, from a security perspective Instant Messaging applications can present considerable security risks. Security breakdowns can occur when these programs are used to share files, folders, or in some cases, entire drives. Instant messaging, unfortunately, is a primary channel used by cyber-criminals to distribute malware and scams.

Just a few days ago, for example, a Trend Micro analyst discovered an IM variant of the “Solve the IQ test”. Had he followed the instructions, he could have let himself in for a series of monthly charges of $9.99–$19.99 a month, automatically added to his cell phone bill.

Programs such as MSN Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, AIM, and a basket full of other IM applications, are extremely popular with users who want real-time contact with each other and (no surprise here), this makes them the perfect vehicle for cyber criminals.

Hackers use two methods of delivering malicious code through IM: delivery of virus, Trojan, or spy ware within an infected file, and the use of “socially engineered” text with a web address that entices the recipient to click on a URL which connects to a website that downloads malicious code. Viruses, worms, and Trojans then typically propagate, by sending themselves rapidly through the infected user’s buddy list.

image

The following is a series of sensible tips for users to get the most out of these programs, securely and responsibly.

As with any other application you use on the Internet, having the knowledge that allows you to use it safely, and being aware of current threats, will make for a more positive experience when using these wildly popular applications.

Don’t click on links, or download files from unknown sources. You need to be alert to the dangers in clicking on links, or downloading files from sources that are not known to you. Even if the files or links apparently come from someone you know, you have to be positive that it really was this person who has sent the message.

Check with your contact to be sure the files, or links are genuine. Remember, if you click on those links, or run those attachments without confirmation, you run the risk of letting malware into your computer.

Use only secure passwords, and be sure to change them regularly. The longer and more varied they are – using a variety of different characters and numbers – the more secure they will be.

Protect personal and confidential information when using IM. Revealing confidential or personal information in these types of conversations, can make you an easy target for Internet predators.

For added protection when using a public computer, ensure that you disable any features that retain login information to prevent other users from gaining access to your instant messaging once you leave.

It’s virtually impossible to avoid publishing your email address on the Internet, however do so only when absolutely necessary. Cyber criminals are always on the lookout for accounts to target.

Instant Messanger changed Above all, if you are a parent, take exceptional care with the access that your children have to these programs.

The risk here goes beyond malware, as sadly, they could come into contact with undesirable individuals. The risk is low of course, but……..

Elsewhere in this Blog, you can read an article on protecting your children on the Internet and download free software, Parental Control Bar,  to help you do just that.

Readers with younger children, please read, KidZui – Free, Safe Internet Browsing for Kids, on this site. This guest writer article, by Silki Garg of the Internet Security Blog, provides a comprehensive review of KidZui.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

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Filed under Child Safety Internet, cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, Freeware, Instant Messenger Safety Tips, Interconnectivity, Internet Safety for Children, Internet Safety for Teenagers, Malware Advisories, Online Safety, Software, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools, worms

Internet Privacy – You’re Kidding, Right?

Rick Robinette’s guest writer article might surprise you. Rick lays out what the sum total of your Internet activity might mean for you now, and in the future.

Once It Is Out There, It Is Out There

I was thinking about the time I first accessed the internet, up to the present, AND was questioning myself; “What have I put out there?” Now, I am talking about anything and everything from emails, web accounts, web mail, online purchasing, online chatting, files, credit card numbers, etc.

Actually, I try to be very careful of what I am doing; however, what little I have put out there, is out there AND there is no turning back. The little bit of information I have put out there is just enough that my identity and privacy could ultimately be breached.

Recently we all read in the news where the ESPN reporter was a victim of a peepster who posted shots of the reporter on the internet. I actually was chuckling when there were reports of trying to stop this transgression and get it back.

There is no getting it back… In this case, the internet takes over, and these shots were sprinkling down on people’s PC’s like rain (a million drops a second). There is just no way to stop it and there is no way to get it back.

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It amazes me what people are putting out there on the social network sites, such as Facebook and MySpace. Remember, when the information you are posting is “all about you”, it could come back to haunt you years down the road.

The younger generation, oblivious to privacy, is telling it all and exposing sensitive matters about themselves that would make a sailor blush.

Email is another interesting tool that we use that leaves a trail. My email sending policy, is to keep it short and never express my feelings about something or someone. Once you hit that send button, it rockets into cyberspace, which in essence can be infinity.  Email can remain on servers forever.

To give you an example, when I retired, my email account (at a government agency) remained active for over 2 years until I demanded it be terminated.  Termination of the account took it out of the public’s view; however, my data and email correspondence was still there.

The purpose of this article is to heighten your awareness about your identity and privacy; AND to make you think about what information you are giving away about yourself. It is human nature to investigate and to be curious. With just knowing your name and your zip code, a person with bad intentions can get your address, a map to your house, a photo of your residence, your property tax records, and it goes on and on.

Are you out there?

Simply by using Google or Yahoo you can find an abundance of information by simply entering a person’s name; however, there are online services that specialize in deeper searches.

I encourage you to perform a search for your name, using these services. If you know of any other services, please leave a comment below.

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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. Like me, you’re sure to become a frequent visitor.

If you enjoyed this article, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

3 Comments

Filed under Email, Google, Interconnectivity, Internet Safety, Privacy, Windows Tips and Tools, Yahoo

Instant Messenger Clients – How Safe?

Fellow Blogger TechPaul, has advised his readers this morning, that chat messages are scaring users into installing malware in his article – Skype Phishing Returns. If you use Skype chat, or for that matter any other chat application, you need to be aware of this information.

This presents an opportunity to re-run a popular article previously posted on this site, setting out the precaution we all need to take when using any type of chat client.

instant messanger 2

Programs such as MSN Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, AIM, and a basket full of other IM applications, are extremely popular with users who want real-time contact with each other.

But, and there always seems to be a “but” lately – from a security perspective these applications can present considerable security risks. Generally, security risks occur when these programs are used to share files, folders, or in some cases even entire drives. Instant messaging, unfortunately, is a primary channel used by cyber-criminals to distribute malware.

As Wikipedia explains it, hackers use two methods of delivering malicious code through IM: delivery of virus, Trojan, or spy ware within an infected file, and the use of “socially engineered” text with a web address that entices the recipient to click on a URL that connects him or her, to a website that then downloads malicious code. Viruses, worms, and Trojans typically propagate by sending themselves rapidly through the infected user’s buddy list.

Follow these tips to ensure you are protected when using instant messaging.

Don’t click on links, or download files from unknown sources. You need to be alert to the dangers in clicking on links, or downloading files from sources that are not known to you. Even if the files or links apparently come from someone you know, you have to be positive that it really was this person who has sent the message.

Check with your contact to be sure the files, or links are genuine. Remember, if you click on those links, or run those attachments without confirmation, you run the risk of letting malware into your computer.

Use only secure passwords, and be sure to change them regularly. The longer and more varied they are – using a variety of different characters and numbers – the more secure they will be.

Protect personal and confidential information when using IM. Revealing confidential or personal information in these types of conversations, can make you an easy target for Internet predators.

For added protection when using a public computer, ensure that you disable any features that retain login information to prevent other users from gaining access to your instant messaging once you leave.

It’s virtually impossible to avoid publishing your email address on the Internet, however do so only when absolutely necessary. Cyber criminals are always on the lookout for accounts to target.

Instant Messanger changed Above all, if you are a parent, take exceptional care with the access that your children have to these programs.

The risk here goes beyond malware, as sadly, they could come into contact with undesirable, or even dangerous individuals. The risk is low of course, but……..

Elsewhere in this Blog, you can read an article on protecting your children on the Internet and download free software, Parental Control Bar,  to help you do just that.

For readers with younger children, please read, KidZui – Free, Safe Internet Browsing for Kids, on this site. This guest writer article, by Silki Garg of Internet Security Blog, provides a comprehensive review of KidZui.

6 Comments

Filed under Child Safety Internet, Don't Get Hacked, Freeware, Instant Messenger Safety Tips, Interconnectivity, Internet Safety for Children, Internet Security Alerts, Malware Advisories, Online Safety, Parenting Help, Teenager Internet Safety Tips, Windows Tips and Tools

Steal Your Friends’ Instant Messenger Passwords – No Kidding!

The use of instant messaging for rapid communication, as opposed to voice contact, is a phenomenon that I must admit, has never appealed to me.

The reality is however, that programs such as MSN Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, AIM, and a basket full of other IM applications, are extremely popular.

If you are an IM convert what would you think if you came across an application that advertised as follows? –

“Apheve Pro is a great piece of software which contains a key feature of disguising as multiple instant messaging services including Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo! and Skype. This program would be perfect for if you have the annoying visitor coming round who wants to sign in to their IM account”.

Pretty cool, huh? Imagine, a free application designed specifically to help you steal Instant Messenger logins including MSN Messenger, Yahoo IM and Skype as mentioned in the blurb above.

On the other hand, like me, you might feel disgusted, revolted, or just plain pi**ed off that such a piece of obviously illegal software is freely available on the internet.

Apheve

There is nothing to be gained by describing how this piece of crap works. It is sufficient to say that it works; and it works far too well!

Since this application can be deployed in diverse locations including the workplace, schools, libraries, and so on, it is obviously a very dangerous hacking tool.

As I have said numerous times on this site, from a security perspective these applications can present considerable security risks. We can now add one more.

Follow these tips to ensure you are protected when using instant messaging.

For added protection when using a public computer, ensure that you disable any features that retain login information to prevent other users from gaining access to your instant messaging once you leave.

Don’t click on links, or download files from unknown sources. You need to be alert to the dangers in clicking on links, or downloading files from sources that are not known to you. Even if the files or links apparently come from someone you know, you have to be positive that it really was this person who has sent the message.

Check with your contact to be sure the files, or links are genuine. Remember, if you click on those links, or run those attachments without confirmation, you run the risk of letting malware into your computer.

Use only secure passwords, and be sure to change them regularly. The longer and more varied they are – using a variety of different characters and numbers – the more secure they will be.

Protect personal and confidential information when using IM. Revealing confidential or personal information in these types of conversations can make you an easy target for Internet predators.

It’s virtually impossible to avoid publishing your email address on the Internet, however do so only when absolutely necessary. Cyber criminals are always on the lookout for accounts to target.

2 Comments

Filed under Don't Get Hacked, Interconnectivity, Malware Advisories, Safe Surfing, social networking, Software, Windows Tips and Tools