DNSChanger – The Apocalyptic Computer Virus

The day they turned off the safety net servers for victims of DNSChanger came and went with little incident. For months, the FBI and computer professionals had been warning that infected computers would lose their Internet connection if the virus was not removed. All that warning paid off as no one complained that they had been affected but then they may all be disconnected from the Internet. Not to make light of a very serious situation, but this was reminiscent of the Year 2000 or Y2K computer scare.  So many reported that computer systems around the world would lock up or do worse by sending random commands that would disrupt financial, power and emergency systems everywhere.  The basic problem was that older programs did not leave enough space for a four-digit year like 2012.  For years, programs had been using two-digits like 95 for 1995.  You can see how this would cause … [Read more...]

Does your computer need a backdoor?

Even the most experienced system administrator will occasionally forget their password or get locked out of the system. It is not uncommon for admin or super users to create a backdoor so that they can quickly access the system without a password reset. Computer equipment manufacturers and vendors also quietly implement this backdoor method, but backdoors have consequences on system security that may leave you at risk. Whether you call it a backdoor, trapdoor or Trojan horse, these methods should be known to only a trusted few.  When equipment vendors put something in place so that they can gain system access, especially when they make it permanent, they will be criticized for sacrificing security for convenience. On any system, security and convenience have an inverse relationship.  The more secure a system, the harder to access.  The more accessible, the lower the security. … [Read more...]

Religion Versus Porn

The Internet is a dangerous place.  It is the Wild, Wild West and there ain't no sheriff in town.  Many ponder on why people create malware, viruses and malicious code. To make money, to get a thrill? Perhaps it helps to know why if you are fighting these types of criminals, but for the general Internet user you just have to protect yourself. For years, I have said that religious sites have the highest risk of malware. A recent study by Symantec has confirmed my suspicion and in fact, religious sites have more malware threats than porn sites because they get hacked much more often. This makes perfect sense if you think about it.  In most cases, religious sites are more likely to be administered by non-professionals with the intent of getting their message out to devotees.  Porn sites are run by professionals with the intent of making money and they don’t want anyone cutting in on … [Read more...]

Are you infected? DNSChanger Overview

Malware is a constant source of anxiety to any computer user. Not only can it slow down your computer, but it can fool you into giving away personal data or purchasing phony products with your credit card. Most computer users are non-technical consumers.  There is nothing wrong with that as computers are a great tool in the modern world. This is similar to how we are all electricity consumers.  We use power but don’t worry about the details of how power is generated and distributed.  We just know that it works and leave the details to the experts.  Since electricity is so dangerous, there are mandatory safeguards that have to be followed. Much like power utilities, regulated industries like financial and medical are required to safeguard your data or be fined severely.  Personally, you don’t have to protect your computer, but if you don’t hackers and identity thieves can ruin your … [Read more...]

The best offense is a good defense: Disaster preparedness essentials

Guest blog by Cindy Bates, Vice President of Microsoft’s US SMB Organization Planning for “the worst” isn’t quite as fun as refining a business plan or coming up with new ways to market your products or services, but doing so just might make the difference between the success or failure of your company. In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor estimates that more than 40 percent of businesses never reopen following a disaster; and, of the remaining companies, at least 25 percent will close in two years. Yet, small businesses that take time to develop a disaster preparedness plan that includes preventive measures as well as actions to be taken in the event of disaster greatly increase their odds of withstanding catastrophe. To get started with creating a disaster preparedness plan, I recommend small- business decision makers consider the following: Insurance plans and policies – … [Read more...]