Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

World Series Bound

Congratulations SF Giants!

Tonight the Giants beat Philadelphia and won the NCLS. Now it’s on to the World Series to play the Texas Rangers.

GiantsWin
Image source: San Jose Mercury News online

Folks, I hope you’ll forgive my non-tech digression.

It’s been a rough past couple of decades being a sports fan here in the Bay Area…

October 23, 2010 Posted by | News | 8 Comments

Step-by-Step Security Tutorial – Firefox

How to Configure Firefox to Stay (More) Secure Online: Step-by-Step

If you are interested in Tech, and visit Websites such as this one, it will not be very long before you read about Firefox. And, it won’t be long before you see NoScript mentioned. Odds are, you already have (loyal T4E readers surely have!). Safer surfing is a popular topic here.

Today, instead of simply telling you “be safer”, I have a link to a step-by-step slideshow tutorial: How to Configure Mozilla Firefox for Secure Surfing

“With assistance from the United States Computer Emergency Response Team (US-CERT), we’ve created this slideshow to help you configure Mozilla’s Firefox Web browser to stay secure and safeguard your privacy while surfing.”

firefox_security

click for slideshow

(Internet Explorer users, click here for your slideshow tutorial)

In this digital age, we are all connected, and each of us plays an important role in securing cyberspace.

It Is National Cyber Security Awareness Month

So do your part. Make sure your web browser is “hardened” against online attacks.

Related: Block IFRAME For Added Protection

Copyright 2007-2010 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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October 23, 2010 Posted by | advice, browsers, computers, Firefox, how to, Internet, security | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

You Have 6 New Flirts

6newFlirts

How did Mr. or Ms. YearEndCloseOut know I was thinking about buying a new automobile?

* My loyal readers know why I highlighted the paperclip. Do you?

October 22, 2010 Posted by | Internet scam, spam and junk mail | 6 Comments

Send and Receive E-cards Safely

Hacker Season Approaches

E-cards are prime vehicles for distributing viruses and other malware, and the bad guys’ efforts to reach you through these cards skyrocket around such holidays as Valentine’s Day.

While Valentine’s Day is months away yet, we are nearing Hacker¹ Season. Criminal activity will double, and redouble, the nearer we get to the “Holiday shopping season”. It is time for us to ratchet up our paranoid cautiousness factors, and vigilance.

Today I am not going to re-invent the wheel, but merely direct you to a concise, cogent, and bang-on-target article written by a neighbor of mine, Kim Boatman — Send and Receive E-cards Safely. It’s a short read, and the tips there can be applied to other things as well.

Or you can be like me.. and simply not open them… and miss out on the cute animated bunnies…


¹ The term “hacker” has become part of or lingo, but it is greatly misused by the media, and is generally out-of-date. “Cyber Mafia”, “Foreign Cyber-Warfare Agents”, and “Criminals” are what are really being discussed.

Copyright 2007-2010 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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October 22, 2010 Posted by | computers, cyber crime, hackers, how to, Internet, security, tech | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Wars We Wage

App stores are the greatest hostile software delivery system ever invented by man. There are over 50,000 apps that you can download from the Google App store, and over 10,000 of them are some sort of spyware, malware or phishing software.” ~ Rob Smith, a GTISC advisory board member and CTO of Mobile Active Defense (M.A.D.) Partners

Apple apps are even worse,” Smith added. Since people often believe Apple applications are exempt from malicious infection, few are security conscious when downloading or purchasing new applications from the iTunes Store. Apple does not have a system in place to track hidden codes; its vetting process only determines if the app does what its purveyors claim it does, and if so then it is approved for download.

Mobile devices represent an escalating risk. “With the expansive use of a variety of mobile devices in the enterprise today, threats to the network are coming in different forms.

“You don’t have the same security behind mobile devices as you would have behind your laptop. You have to make sure you don’t leave any obvious weak spots from where things can find a way into the network.” ~ Mustaque Ahamad, director of the GTISC

The Georgia Tech Information Security Center (GTISC) last week released its Emerging Cyber Threats Report, which offers insight into the malicious tactics it expects to be prevalent in 2011. The report, based on GTISC research and collaboration with security industry experts, covers the increasing sophistication of botnets, mobile attacks and related cybersecurity issues.

Did you read down this far?

Those are snippets from an article that caught my attention because it mentioned how the cybercriminals are now poisoning MRI machines in hospitals.. the article is here.

(Maybe I’m just grouchy. I have to have a cavity filled today. But I’m beginning to think something needs to done about this “cybercrime” stuff.)

Copyright 2007-2010 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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October 21, 2010 Posted by | advice, computers, cyber crime | 4 Comments

The Internet Today…

In this digital age, we are all connected, and each of us plays an important role in securing cyberspace”

In keeping with the spirit of National Cybersecrity Month, and what you can do to be safer when surfing the ‘net, there is much I could tell you about.

Tech Security news is plentiful, and.. none of it happy. (Well.. there have been some recent cybercriminal arrests, and expatriation’s-for-trial, that show some progress..) And I don’t want you, Dear Reader, to start thinking of me as a “downer”, and think, “all that guy talks about is hackers!

But it is National Cybersecrity Month, and the theme is STOP. THINK. CONNECT. Protect yourself and help keep the web a safer place for everyone.

So I will do my part and tell you –> Use Paranoid Common Sense.

‘Cuz the Internet is not Disneyland.

But you have heard me say that before, haven’t you? (For 3+ years now..)

What does he mean?
Well, the Internet has been publicly accessible by us “average citizens”, and we have been using it, since the early 90’s (before then it was used by universities, scientists, and some parts of the government [think, “defense”]). In short.. it is not a new thing, in your home for the first time.

– 20 years later, people still seem to need be told that, no, they did not just win $2.5 Million USD in the Online Sweepstakes.. and that bad things can/will happen if they even open the email.

– 20 years later, people still seem to need be told that, no, they do not need to download a “codec” to watch that sex video, and that bad things can/will happen if they click the link.

– 20 years later, people still seem to need be told that, yes, what you post online can be seen by just about anybody, stays there for ever, and that their boss/co-workers might see it, and YES, genius, that photo of you dancing on the table with a lampshade on your head might have negative repercussions.
The blog you wrote, describing what a pin-headed *loser* your supervisor is, certainly will.

– The “virus” has been around for 25+ years.

Yet, people still seem to need to told that they need to install an anti-“virus”, run it regularly, and keep it up-to-date.

I could go on and on. Why is this? Why is National Cybersecrity Month all about us “average citizens” taking responsibility?
When does, “I’m sorry, I didn’t know..” not cut it any more?

I welcome your thoughts on this. Click “Comment” (below)

Is your firewall on?

Related: Zeus hackers could steal corporate secrets too
(I found this interesting because of the description of the criminal behavior.. not because businesses can be victims of Zeus too..)

Copyright 2007-2010 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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October 20, 2010 Posted by | advice, computers, Internet, security | 6 Comments

Java, the new Adobe (+How To Protect Yourself)

Sun’s Java Earns Unhappy Distinction — The Hackers’ Favorite Target

Cybercriminal exploit attacks on Java have multiplied tremendously in number and they are proving to be incredibly effective.Java_icon First reported by Krebs On Security last week, now the Microsoft Malware Protection Center has a notice about the wave of Java exploitation they found when reviewing their monitoring data.  In fact, the MMPC discovered that by the beginning of this year the number of exploits on Java code vulnerabilities well surpassed the number of Adobe exploits they monitored.

What I discovered was that some of our exploit “malware” families were telling a scary story – an unprecedented wave of Java exploitation.  In fact, by the beginning of this year, the number of Java exploits (and by that I mean attacks on vulnerable Java code, not attacks using JavaScript) had well surpassed the total number of Adobe-related exploits we monitored.”

Java is everywhere, but few people know what it is, or that it is even installed, as Java runs in the background. Java is used in a wide variety of computing platforms: from embedded devices and mobile phones on the low end, to enterprise servers and supercomputers on the high end.

What you should do: As I have mentioned here many times, the way these “exploits” get stopped is via vendor-released “patches” – better known as updates. Updates are your friend, and you want them.
(As a matter of fact, the Java patches have been out for some time..)

Keep your software up-to-date. Here’s the how to for Java.
1) Click the Start button then Control Panel.

2) Locate and click the Java icon

java_panel

3) The Java “control panel” will open. Click on the Update tab.

4) Click the Update Now button. Then, OK.

Did you notice how the “Check for Updates Automatically” description says that Java will check for patches and hacker fixes on the 14th of each month?
In today’s world, that’s ridiculous. Once a month? C’mon.
So let’ fix that.
5) Click the Advanced button…

when

.. and change the radio button to either Weekly, or better yet, Daily. Then click OK.

Then click Apply and then OK again.

Sadly, folks, you are not done. Java has a nasty habit of leaving old versions of itself behind when it updates (why is that, Sun? Huh? Huh?) and these need to be removed.

1) You should still be in Control Panel so click on Programs and Features (“Add/Remove Programs” in Windows XP/Older)
1a.) Click “Uninstall or change a program” if you have to.

2) A list of the installed programs will “populate”. Look for, and then remove (click Uninstall) all but the most recent version of Java you find in the list. That is, all but the highest numbered one. There may be several entries…

Okay. now you’re done.

I know, I know! Seems like a pain. Sun could do a much better job with this. But, listen, please. Safety and security measures are always a bit inconvenient and require extra attention and effort. Your computer is no different. Take the time. Make the effort.

STOP. THINK. CONNECT.

When you cross the street, you look both ways to make sure it’s safe. Staying safe on the Internet is similar. It takes some common sense steps — Stop. Think. Connect.

  • Stop: Before you use the Internet, take time to understand the risks and learn how to spot potential problems.
  • Think: Take a moment to be certain the path is clear ahead. Watch for warning signs and consider how your actions online could impact your safety, or your family’s.
  • Connect: Enjoy the Internet with greater confidence, knowing you’ve taken the right steps to safeguard yourself and your computer.

STOP. THINK. CONNECT. Protect yourself and help keep the web a safer place for everyone.

* My thanks to Bryce at Technibble for the great write up which brought this to my attention.

Copyright 2007-2010 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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October 19, 2010 Posted by | computers, cyber crime, security, software, tech | , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments