SWI Community News - June 2007
Posted 06 June 2007 - 09:33 PM
Welcome to the 2nd Edition of SWI Community News!! This month we have a number of lists for you and a guest article from a colleague at Malware Removal. We hope you enjoy our newsletter and invite you to comment. Let us know what you like, what you don't like and what you would like to see in future editions. Start a topic to post your comments.
And here is the disclaimer:
Opinions and information expressed in this publication are not the responsibility of SpywareInfo.Com or it's owner, administrators or hosting services. Information and opinions posted here are the property of the respective author.
That also means that the material is subject to the copyright of the author and you need to cite the author if you quote any material from this publication elsewhere.
And as I said last month -- to get notification when a new SWI Community News is available, I created a topic you can subscribe to and we will add notices of publishing to that topic so you will receive an email notice if you are set to receive notices of topics you are subscribed to.
So without further ado, please enjoy.
Top Ten reasons why I don't want to secure my computer:
1. I don't have anything valuable on my computer anyway, so I don't need to worry about someone taking it over.
Actually, you have something very valuable on your computer, especially if you are on a fast internet connection. You have bandwidth. A lot of malware is designed to take over your computer and use it as a server to attack other computer, distribute SPAM or even deliver more malware. It will also steal your data, passwords and account numbers, so the criminals can steal your identity and everything you own. Even if you only use your computer for gaming, there are people now stealing passwords for some computer games so they can steal any reserves you have built up online.
2. The antivirus companies are the ones who put out all those viruses so they can sell their programs anyway. If I install their program, it will install their viruses.
This is mostly one of the silliest myths on the web. It is true that there are rogues that try to trick people into buying their programs by claiming your computer is infected:
However, the legit companies wouldn't even consider risking their reputations to make a few extra dollars. If they are recommended by reputable sources, they are going to be safe and useful. You need to be sure the source is reputable though. The people that create viruses and other malware are criminals and many are now part of organized crime gangs that make millions by stealing from people like you.
3. Running a firewall slows down my games.
Most firewalls have settings to allow you to play games without removing that protection. Even a few minutes online without your firewall can leave you infected.
4. The programs are too complicated.
Most programs have simple modes that can be set to update automatically and protect you without you having to do much more than renew a subscription or download a major update about once a year.
5. I don't have any money and the programs are all expensive.
You can assemble a very effective set of security programs for free. Even if you pay a bit for a program, it is a lot less than what you will pay to get your computer fixed and possibly deal with having your accounts cleared out by criminals.
6. I have heard that WinXP Service Pack 2 will cause problems on computers and I don't want to risk it.
That is sort of like saying I will jump off of the cliff because I don't want to risk slipping on the rocks climbing down. SP2 is probably the most important security update that MicroSoft has released for any version of Windows to date. It is true that it caused problems in the first few months, but it has been out for more than 2 years and it is quite stable now. If you don't have it, you also don't have any number of other security updates and you are almost certain to get infected.
7. I have an illegal copy of WinXP and MS won't let me update it. It isn't fair because they make so much money anyway.
If you are running an illegal copy of Windows, do the rest of us a favor - buy a legal copy. When you get infected, you can become a zombie server for the criminals, distributing malware, SPAM and scams all over the web. If all the zombie systems were shut down today, the quantity of SPAM would slow from a tidal wave to a trickle. Don't contribute to the flood. If you don't believe you can afford a legal copy of WinXP, use a free install of Linux. There is no good reason to put yourself and the rest of us at risk.
8. I have never used security programs and I have never been infected.
Maybe, maybe not. Some of the most effective infections today are essentially invisible on your computer. They don't slow it down in a noticeable way, they don't popup ads and they don't do anything to attract your attention. They do quietly send your personal information to the criminals, they do use your computer as a zombie server and they do own your computer more than you do. The truth is, malware is getting more aggressive, harder to detect, harder to kill and almost unavoidable if you go online at all. If you are not armored, you are probably already infected or you will be.
9. It is my computer and it is only my problem if I get infected, so leave me alone!
Well, not really. It is your computer and it is mainly your problem if you get infected. However, if your computer becomes a server that sprays malware, SPAM and attacks against the rest of us, it becomes our problem too. As soon as you go online, you are part of a community and the decisions you make effect everyone in that community. If you don't mind people messing around with your personal information and possibly using it to steal all that you have, please at least consider the harm you may be doing to the rest of us.
10. I plan to install security programs, I just haven't had time yet.
If you are reading this, you are already online. If you are online, you are already at risk. I once fixed a problem with my firewall and had it uninstalled for a while. I went online for about 10 minutes to download a fresh copy and while I was online, my system was infected with the Welchia worm. TEN minutes I was online, only 10 minutes!! How long have you been running without security??
Helpful link: SpywareBlaster...
MS MVP 2006 and ASAP Member since 2004
Please read the Instructions for posting requested logs and the article "So how did I get infected in the first place?"
Posted 08 June 2007 - 08:30 AM
Iím picking out a few of the programs Iíve found in my endless wanderings around the web. Iíve picked out the more obscure ones, rather than the ones a lot of people already know. This is my own personal opinion of these programs. Iím not endorsing them and neither is SWI. Nor am I connected with any of them in any way. If you think Iím wrong and that a program I mention is rubbish, please feel free to tell me, but please give reasons if you do.
Iím sticking to freeware programs with a strict definition of freeware. Iíll give you an example. A program I use regularly to help clean up people's PCs is CCleaner. When giving instructions for its use, I need to add the phrase ďRun the installer and uncheck the option to install Yahoo toolbar (unless you want Yahoo toolbar).Ē Since you need to opt out of Yahoo toolbar and the default settings install it, by my definition it is not freeware. By the definition I use here, when I say it is free it means you just get the program, nothing else.
Ok, here we go.
Firstly, from the people who brought you RegSeeker, Iíve chosen HoverIP.
It displays your IP configuration and puts tasks like NSLOOKUP, PING, TRACEROUTE, SCANPORTS and so on all together in one place, along with routing table and port scanning capacity. If, like me, you find all those command lines a bit baffling, this is a very handy utility and very useful for network troubleshooting.
The next one Iíve chosen is The PC DEcrapifier
If you buy any PC out the box from your friendly neighbourhood PC store, what do you get when you get it home and start it up. A whole bunch of stuff you didnít ask for and probably didnít want, thatís what. The manual removal can be a real pain; I took an hour just to rid a friend of AOL on a new PC for example (AOL puts their stuff everywhere!).
This program is free for personal use, gives you the choice on what you want to remove and keep and I can vouch for itís effectiveness. I removed a ton of useless garbage off a new Packard Bell with it in about 10 minutes.
Next is: 7Zip
7-Zip is an open source file archiver, I canít do better than the Wikipedia description here:
I found it when I got fed up with having to download the trial version of WinRAR just to open one .RAR file and then have the program start saying Ďbuy me, buy meí every time I went near it.
I use the Windows graphical user interface version of 7Zip and, although it takes a little while to get used to (itís not drag and drop), it is easy to use. It also adds ĎAdd to Archiveí options to your Folder and File options, has a selection of of compression levels and is very fast, both compressing and extracting.
And finally: a good starting place for a decent freeware hunt is freewarearena:
This site provides not only its own downloads but a list of links to other download sites. This is at your own risk, as I havenít tested a lot of the programs offered.
Thatís all for now, I hope this has been useful. More next month.
My help is free, but if you wish to help keep these forums running please consider a donation, see This Topic for details.
Posted 10 June 2007 - 11:32 AM
Germany passed a law that makes hacking a punishable crime. It defines hacking as penetrating a computer security system and gaining access to secure data, without necessarily stealing data. Offenders are defined as any individual or group that intentionally creates, spreads or purchases hacker tools designed for illegal purposes. They could face up to 10 years in prison for major offences.
A 27-year-old man described as one of the world's most prolific spammers was arrested on 30 May, and federal authorities said computer users across the Web could notice a decrease in the amount of junk e-mail.
Security researchers have warned of new vulnerabilities in Mozilla's Firefox and Microsoft's Internet Explorer that could allow attackers to overwrite the URL bar or seal user data and remotely download and execute code.
Extremely aggressive spam blasts against individual domains, dubbed "spam spikes," are on the upswing and can disrupt small and midsize businesses as much as a determined attack designed to knock a company offline. "The purpose of a spam spike is to defeat appliance-based anti-spam systems that rely heavily on signatures, rather like desktop antivirus software," MessageLabs said in a report it just published.
The Beginning of the Arabic Virus Era. Both security vendors and users in Arabic-speaking countries should prepare themselves for Arabic-aware viruses, according to Symantec's Security Response Web Log. Symantec is seeing more Arabic-aware viruses than a year ago and believes it may become a surge.
Search terms related to music and technology are most likely to return sites with spyware and other malicious code, according to a new study cited in an online news article. Some 42 percent of the results using the term "screensavers," for example, let to sites flagged with a "red" warning or a cautionary "yellow" by McAfee's SiteAdvisor service. Other keywords McAfee deemed risky include names of file-sharing software "BearShare," "LimeWire" and "Kazaa."
Peer-to-peer networks are being hijacked to launch an increasing number of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on web sites, according to security researchers and network service providers. In these attacks, large numbers of client computers running P2P software are tricked into requesting a file from the intended target of the DDoS, allowing the attacker to use the P2P network to overwhelm the target site with traffic.
The Ugly Data Thefts:
The FBI's investigation into a data breach that compromised sensitive information on 300,000 people in Illinois is pointing to an outside hacker. A hacker broke into the computer network at the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation this past January and accessed a server that held information on about 1,200,000 people who have licenses or applied for licenses with the department.
The personal information of every police officer in Texas was in the hands of thieves Friday, after a laptop computer containing the data was stolen from a Houston software company that stores sensitive records for the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement.
Last year, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced the theft of a laptop containing information on 26.5 million veterans and active-duty military members. On the first anniversary of one of the government's most notorious data breaches, a study found that the federal workforce is more mobile and remains vulnerable.
The study was based on a survey of 258 federal employees (48% of whom are official telecommuters.) Forty-one percent of respondents said they use a laptop for work. Of the laptop users, 45% said they switched to laptops in the past year. Only 48% said their agency provided training after the V.A. laptop scandal.
The Energy Department notified Congress yesterday that it has lost 1,415 laptop PCs over the past six years. The department said none of the laptops contained classified information. None of the individuals whom the missing laptops were issued to received disciplinary actions for the misplacement of the laptops.
Newly merged Alcatel-Lucent is warning thousands of employees and retirees that personal information such as Social Security numbers, names and addresses may have been exposed after a CD prepared by a vendor was reported missing. It contains names, addresses, Social Security numbers, dates of birth and salary data of Alcatel-Lucent employees on the U.S. payroll who worked for Lucent and their dependents. The disc contains the same information about Lucent retirees and their dependents as well.
A disabled firewall and an unapplied patch allowed hackers to infiltrate a server at the University of Colorado, Boulder, exposing the personal information of nearly 45,000 students. IT officials believe the attackers were not trying to purge sensitive information, but instead gain control of the machine for use as a botnet.
Cyber-thieves were able to steal $450,000 from the City of Carson's general fund last week by using a keylogger. The theft was discovered in time to have all but $45,000 of the funds frozen.
Free Tools for Fighting Malware
Anti-Virus: avast! Free Antivirus / Avira Free AntiVirus
OnLine Anti-Virus: ESET / BitDefender / F-Secure
Anti-Malware: Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware / Dr.Web CureIt
Spyware/Adware Tools: MVPS HOSTS File / SpywareBlaster
Firewall: Comodo Firewall Free / Privatefirewall
Tutorials: How did I get Infected? / Internet Explorer Privacy & Security Settings
If we have helped, please help us continue the fight by using the Donate button, or see this topic for other ways to donate.
MS MVP 2009-20010 and ASAP Member since 2005
Posted 11 June 2007 - 06:28 AM
. . . Users of the Internet are being plagued by websites and programs which try to:
- hijack their computer
- trick them into making high (dialing-)expenses
- very aggressively steal passwords and banking information
- influence their surfing habits
Of course, we are talking about Viruses, Trojans, Spyware, Hijackers, Dialers, Adware and fake (malware-scanning) programs -- or Malware, in short.
Until now, people who fell victim to malware, could not do much more than try to remove it from the computer -- at times spending a lot of money to get the computer in working order again.
But that can change!
What is Malware Complaints?
Simply put, Malware Complaints is a website forum. However, for more than one reason, it is a unique forum.
Malware Complaints is a cooperation between many anti-malware helpers and experts from all over the planet. From all corners of the earth, these people have joined together to make it possible for users, from whatever part of the world they come, to make their complaint against malware and the makers of it.
Malware Complaints offers people who have been (or are) victims of malware the opportunity to document their story and, in that way, launch a complaint against the malware and the makers of the malware.
Instead of only removing the malware (or let it be removed) and wait for the next infection, users can really stand up against the makers of malware!
What will Malware Complaints do with the complaints, which users post?
Malware Complaints collects the complaints and stories, by country/region as well as by malware-group or -family, that way creating the possibility to:
- issue petitions, which can be offered to governments and official bureaus that deal with internet security, thus making it clear to those officials how extensive the problems with malware have evolved
- make malware issues known to the news media and thus make malware and their makers known to the world
Why should victims tell their story?
Malware Complaints is doing something that malware and malware-makers absolutely do not want. The attention that they sometimes make to our site, proves that they do not like you to complain.
The goal of Malware Complaints is to bring malware(-makers) into the open. This exposure to the public and government officials will make it much harder for them to operate.
When malware is described by the press and rejected by politicians and/or official organizations, it can even become possible to outlaw malware. It will then be possible for everyone to take legal action against malware-makers.
This is the place to tell your story -> <- where you can make a difference!
Each countries room has country specific places you can go to to complain - do follow up those links and complain to YOUR countries officials too.
Fight Back Against SpyAxe
Spyware warriors call for action
Fighting back and Making a Difference
This document is the joint effort of jahewi and Corrine.
My- computer Safety online - Article and others Texruss's Hijackthis FAQ
Matthew 7:7"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and a door will be opened to you."