SWI Community News - July 2007
Posted 14 July 2007 - 03:40 PM
Welcome to the 3nd Edition of SWI Community News!! This month we have a number of lists for you and my usual rant. We hope you enjoy our newsletter and invite you to comment. We would like to get an idea of how many people are reading our efforts and whether it is something you would like to see continue, so we ask that you respond to the poll here:
We also want to know what you like, what you don't like and what you would like to see in future editions. Post a comment in to poll topic if you have some ideas. If you enjoy it and find it helpful, please let people know that it is here.
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 usual -- to get notification when a new SWI Community News is available, subscribe to the subscription topic 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.
And an announcement: By the time you read this, the forum will be upgraded to the latest version of Invision 2.3.x. The announcement of the upgrade promised a performance improvement. We'd love to hear if you have seen a difference. Obviously, the forum does look different, is it working any quicker/easier for you??
And, on a related note, the forum was upgraded by Maddoktor2 who is also dealing with a personal crisis involving finding homes for his cats... If you live in the Seattle area and might be able to take a cat, please send him a PM.
And now for your perusal:
If you fight malware for a while, you begin to notice that many people want you to be psychic. People will give us only minimal information about a problem and expect us to know what is going on and tell them how to fix it. For example: "my computer has popups that are gross, what can I do to stop them??" If that were one comment among many, it might be enough. When it is the only comment, it requires that someone first guess whether or not it is a malware issue and then ask for more information. This delays the person who is asking for help from getting that help and it takes time from a helper who is probably struggling to keep up with an overwhelming number of requests for help. So what do we need from you in order to help you?? Here are 7 hints:
1. Read the FAQ -- We put a lot of effort into creating the FAQ to help you attempt to figure out your problem and to give us the information we need if you are not able to fix it yourself.
2. Tell the helper in detail what the problems are and let that helper know how things are evolving as you go through the fix for your problem. Keep in mind that the more clearly you describe the problem, the more effectively the helper can help you.
3. Read the pinned topics and descriptions of the forums. We end up spending a lot of time just moving topics to the correct forums since people ignore the big notices in red to not post HijackThis logs in that forum. Many of the questions you might ask are already answered and pinned at the top of the forums so that they don't need to be answered again.
4. Don't post in someone else's malware topic to say that you have a similar problem and will watch the responses to that topic. You can actually interfere with the other person receiving help when you do that.
5. Don't post offering help with malware issues unless you are a trained member of the SWI staff. We often waste time cleaning up problems created by people doing that, even when their intentions are honorable.
6. If you receive advice from someone who is not SWI staff, please do not follow it since it may make things worse. In addition to those who really want to help, not everyone is honorable, we have had malware criminals post instructions that will worsen or create infections.
7. If you see a post advertising a product posted in an SWI forum it is almost certainly not endorsed by SWI and it is likely to be a scam. If it is clearly a scam, such as ads for porn, commercial software or electronics, please send a Private Message to one of the Admins or Moderators so that we can deal with it promptly. If you decide to actually look into it, keep in mind that there is a good possibility that you will infect your computer, get ripped off and/or have your identity stolen.
Our esteemed Mother Lion, cnm, adds this comment:
When a SWI helper replies to your thread, do respond back. We need feedback! Here are some possible replies:
* That worked! everything fine now.
* That didn't work, I still have problems. Describe symptoms.
* I don't have time now, but I'll be back next week and do what you said.
* I didn't understand the instructions.
We need to know what works and what doesn't - you might have a new infection that we haven't seen before.. Your helper will suggest a different attack if the first one didn't work.
And we are always happy to hear that our help was effective.
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 14 July 2007 - 03:48 PM
Welcome back and welcome to this month's selection. As before, I’ll be sticking to programs that don’t cost you money and, as before, I will try to find you some of the less common programs out there. Also this month I have included a special Firefox Add-on selection, for those of you who use Firefox. I welcome any feedback on the programs I review, so please feel free to post in the Poll topic mentioned in the introduction with any comments. If you disagree with me, please feel free to tell me so, but please give reasons if you do. If there is a certain type of program you’re looking for, please tell me that also and I will do my best to find one for you.
Here is the first of this month’s selection. I have chosen IrfanView.
This is an excellent free graphic viewer for Windows 9x/ME/NT/2000/XP/2003/Vista.
I won’t even pretend I know everything this program can do, but it has advanced image manipulation features and effects, and many other listed features, e.g.
• Many supported file formats
• Multi language support
• Thumbnail/preview option
• Toolbar skins option
• Slideshow (save slideshow as EXE/SCR or burn it to CD)
• Show EXIF/IPTC/Comment text in Slideshow/Fullscreen etc.
• Support for Adobe Photoshop Filters
• Fast directory view (moving through directory)
• Batch conversion (with image processing)
• Multipage TIF editing
• File search
• Email option
• Multimedia player
• Print option
• Change color depth
• Scan (batch scan) support
• IPTC editing
• Effects (Sharpen, Blur, Adobe 8BF, Filter Factory, Filters Unlimited, etc.)
• Extract icons from EXE/DLL/ICLs
• Lossless JPG rotation
• Many hotkeys
• Many command line options
• Many PlugIns
• Only one EXE-File, no DLLs, no Shareware messages like "I Agree" or "Evaluation expired"
• No registry changes without user action/permission!
Of particular use to me is the Lossless JPG rotation feature. Digital camera pictures, those that are on one side, if rotated with Windows picture and fax viewer will often lose size and this can be avoided with IrfanView.
It also converts virtually any image format to any other format which can be of particular use when posting images on forums that don't accept JPG; InfanView will convert to GIF, PNG, and so on.
Here’s a little example of image manipulation with IrfanView, it took me 3 minutes, and I’m sure you can do much better yourselves.
Sun drenched Maltese castle becomes sinister gothic pile.
The next program I have selected is SysSpec.
‘With System Spec you can see, save and print a complete spec of your PC. This no-install, system information utility can also perform various windows functions. Additional advanced info includes CPU, drives, applications, display, memory, networking, internet, CD/DVD drives and more.’
There are many programs out there that give you system information, but in my opinion this is one of the best. Its toolbar includes options to open and use many Windows functions, such as Control Panel features and various diagnostic and error checking functions. You can see from the webpage just how comprehensive a range of system information it provides, it will paste specs to clipboard for posting on forums and print out a complete spec for insurance purposes. It is fully functional on Windows 2000 and XP. It will also run on Windows 98/ME but some information may not be displayed. It is recommended that you install WMICore on Windows 98/NT4 machines. System Spec will not run on Windows 95.
Firefox Add-on Corner.
Exclusively for Firefox Browser users. If you are not using Firefox, skip this part or take a look at using Firefox.
Firefox comes as a basic internet browser, onto which you then add the components that you want, to build the browser that best suits your needs. Here are some of my favourite add-ons.
If you want to view a page in Internet Explorer, simply right-click and select.
Or view it as a tab in Firefox with IETab:
Opens IE as a Firefox tab. I don’t know how they do it, but it works.
Turn Firefox into a turbo-charged wild stallion with Fasterfox.
They say ‘Dynamic speed increases can be obtained’. Yes they can! Includes Flash popup blocker and page load timer with nice fox icon.
And finally, for any cat lovers out there, Red Cats (green flavor)
There can never be too many cats, especially all over your browser!
I hope you enjoy this selection. 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 14 July 2007 - 04:03 PM
While the good news is usually outnumbered by the bad, this month we have the opposite and that is good news!! Here are links to the news for this month:
The Good News:
A Brooklyn man pleaded guilty in federal court Monday to spamming 1.2 million AOL users. Adam Vitale, 26, pled to charges of working with co-conspirators in a scheme that violated the Can Spam Act, the federal anti-spam e-mail law, according to a release from the US Attorney's Office in the Southern District of New York. He faces a maximum sentence of 11 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Vitale is slated to be sentenced on 13 September in a US District Court.
The Department of Justice and FBI announced the results of an ongoing cyber crime initiative to disrupt and dismantle “botherders” and elevate the public’s cyber security awareness of botnets. OPERATION BOT ROAST is a national initiative and ongoing investigations have identified over 1 million victim computer IP addresses. The FBI is working with our industry partners, including the CERT Coordination Center at Carnegie Mellon University, to notify the victim owners of the computers.
Dutch police have arrested 111 suspected 419 scammers. The arrests on June 16 came at the end of a seven-month investigation dubbed Operation Apollo.
British police said on June 18 that they have broken up an international child pornography network run from a British-based website, rescuing 31 children and rounding up more than 700 suspects.
The US secret service and French police has cracked down on an international ID theft ring accued of more than $14m (£7m) worth of fraud. French police arrested four people on online fraud charges on 12 June, acting on information provided by the secret service, the US agency said. Investigators found more than 28,000 stolen credit card and bank card numbers as a result of the operation.
Spanish police arrested a 28-year old man on Saturday they suspect of involvement with a mobile phone virus. He is suspected of distributing malware which targeted Symbian phones. Spanish police are claiming that the virus, which was propagated over Bluetooth connection, infected 115,000 Symbian handsets.
Two men have been found guilty for their part in an international spam gang which bombarded innocent Internet users with graphic pornographic images.
The trial, which began on June 5, 2007, was the first to include charges under the Controlling the Assault of Non-solicited Pornography and Marketing (CAN-SPAM) Act of 2003.
The Bad Data Losses:
Someone has hacked into a University of Iowa computer database holding the Social Security numbers of hundreds of students, prospective students and faculty members.
Hackers have been breaking into a University of Virginia database that included Social Security numbers and other personal information about faculty members over the past two years.
A surprisingly high number of consumers sharing music and other files on peer-to-peer systems are inadvertently exposing all sorts of bank account and similar personal information on their computers to criminals lurking on the networks to harvest data. And it's not just users at home who are exposing information about themselves; so are a large number of employees within banks, as well as banks' contractors and suppliers.
A Pfizer Inc. employee who installed unauthorized file-sharing software on a company laptop provided for use at her home has exposed the Social Security numbers and other personal data belonging to about 17,000 current and former employees at the drug maker. Of that group, about 15,700 individuals actually had their data accessed and copied by an unknown number of persons on a peer-to-peer network.
The Metropolitan Police Department in Tokyo has confirmed that personal information about 12,000 people related to criminal investigations has been distributed across the net from an officer's infected computer. The police officer, who had installed the Winny file-sharing software on his PC, did not realise that a piece of malicious code was making the confidential data available to other users via the peer-to-peer network.
For the third time in just over two years, Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., has reported a security breach involving sensitive data, including Social Security numbers belonging to about 4,000 people who had applied to or attended the program from 1991 to 2007.
And The Ugly use of the Internet to Promote Violence:
A weblog aimed at destabilizing Fiji's military regime has urged Fijians to consider attacks in tourist areas, with one user even posting instructions on how to make explosives.
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