Tech – for Everyone

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

Potential ‘big bad### botnet’ spreading fast*

The ‘Downadup’ worm is spreading quickly and now infects more than 3.5 million PCs, according to the security company F-Secure.

In a blog post on Wednesday, F-Secure put the total number of infected machines at an estimated 3,521,230 — a rise of more than a million machines over the previous day’s tally…

Wow. A million new infections in one day..

Folks, to read the rest of this article (clipped from ZDNet) by David Meyer and Tom Espiner, click here.

[update 1/19/09: over 8 million now. Here’s the latest (and how that number is arrived at), Calculating the Size of the Downadup Outbreak]

January 16, 2009 Posted by | computers, cyber crime, News | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Modern Nightmare

It’s like we woke up inside a horror movie– we are under attack by zombies.

Night of the Living Dead

Yes. It’s true. Real life is imitating art (if you’re willing to call Night of the Living Dead “art”). We really are under attack by zombies– only our zombies aren’t trying to eat our flesh, they are trying to sell us bootleg f@rmacuticals and cheap Vl@gra, fake Rolex watches, and steal our identities. [note in the photo how the zombie is reaching for the wallet?]

In real life, our zombies can’t claw at us directly and they don’t have teeth. Our zombies are computers. Our computers. And they attack via e-mail and the Internet. Like the zombies in Night, they spread the zombie disease by infection. Differently, our zombies aren’t mindless; they’re controlled by villains (aka “cyber-criminals”).

Yes. Your computer may be a zombie.

If it isn’t a zombie (yet), it is constantly under the attack of infection via the Internet. An unprotected computer, connected to the Internet, will be infected within 8 minutes.
90 to 95% of all Internet traffic traveling the wires (using “bandwidth”) is zombie-generated junk e-mail that’s either a fraud attempt or (and?) loaded with malware– the “attack”.

How did this happen? Well, part of it is the Tech Industry’s fault (see, How the Tech Industry is Failing You), either unintentionally, or through lack of foresight, or through willful negligence and the rush to market. Security either wasn’t considered, or it was too expensive.
Nobody predicted the nerdy hackers evolving into organized, well-financed, criminal gangs of today.
And they put too-powerful, fully capable machines into the hands of the unwashed masses– us. The rest of it is our fault.

* We let our antivirus expire and everyday close the warning.
* We think we’ve just won the British Lottery.
* We still run Windows 98 because we’re “comfortable with it”.
* We cannot resist ‘free’ pornography.
* We cannot be bothered with those REALLY ANNOYING little windows that pop open at the worst times and tell us that a “newer version is available.”
* When someone tries to tell us about our machines, they start using big words in a funny language and we ‘tune out’.
* We believe that everything computer-related should be free, so we download cracked (aka “pirated”) software, bootleg music and video, and we don’t care who or where it comes from.

I could go on and on and on.

Yes.. we are our own worst enemies. But, you don’t have to be a part of the problem. And you don’t have to learn a big word-filled foreign language (aka “Geek speak”) to avoid the zombie attack.
Today’s free link: I have put together a list of proactive steps every computer user should know.. a checklist. In it you will find links to free, safe, and effective methods for protecting your computer, and keeping it safe. Please look over, Top 10 Things You Should Do To Your Computer. And then do us all a favor, pass the list on to your friends who have computers.

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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August 18, 2008 Posted by | advice, anti-spyware, antivirus, computers, cyber crime, e-mail, how to, Internet, Internet scam, PC, Phishing, phraud, security, tech, Web 2.0 | , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

What is a Szirbi?! (And my Top Movies list)

E-mails which spoof the Classmates.com site by sending messages saying “there is an update on friend information”, or send a video link with a message stating, “Here’s a link of you doing something stupid” contain links which will infect your computer with Scirzi and turn it into a spambot.
So many people have been infected this way that spam has tripled in the last week. This article, Szirbi Botnet Causes Spam To Triple In A Week explains further.
And please folks, don’t click the links in e-mails. If you really must go to the site, type (or Copy>Paste) the link into your browser bar.

Folks, it is summertime here where I live, and old Tech Paul is fixin’ to put on his flip flops, bermuda shorts, straw hat and just “chill out” for well-deserved several days of vacationing.
I will post some prior articles, and maybe a small article, but I won’t do any heavy lifting.

In the spirit of goofing off, and taking it easy, I spent a little time thinking about what movies I needed to gather up for my popcorn-and-favorite-movies-marathon, scheduled for sometime this week.
I wound up assembling a Top 30 Movies Of All Time list (I was aiming at 20.. then 25..) which I posit to you here for your consideration.

True Grit
Saving Private Ryan
Unforgiven
Forrest Gump
North by Northwest
The Maltese Falcon
Double Indemnity
Key Largo
Treasure of the Sierra Madre
The Big Sleep
Dr. Strangelove (How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb)
Rear Window
It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World
Casablanca
The Caine Mutiny
The Shootist
Anatomy of a Murder
Best Years of Our Lives
Fargo
It Happened One Night
Arsenic and Old Lace
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
The Searchers
The African Queen
Full Metal Jacket
The Sting
Witness for the Prosecution
The Wild Bunch
It’s a Wonderful Life
Die Hard
Night of the Living Dead
Rocky
* Lonely are the Brave
* The Usual Suspects
* King Rat
* Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House
* Stalag 17

I did spend a little time arranging them in order, but.. I am not convinced this is my final version of this list and that I’ll want to “tweak” it some. I am also fairly certain that shortly after posting this, I’ll have a slap-my-forehead moment and remember a title that should have been included… that’s how it usually works with me.

Your comments, input, and critiques are welcome.
[Note: I am not of the female persuasion, and so a chick flick (aka “romantic comedy”) will never appear on my Top Movies list. Please don’t bother to suggest any.]

* Oh! Yeah!

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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June 26, 2008 Posted by | computers, cyber crime, e-mail, Internet scam, spam and junk mail, tech | , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Botnets hurt Rockies and, poison .pdf’s (updated)

You have to feel sorry for the Colorado Rockies, even if you’re not a fan. After a miraculous run of victories swept them into World Series, the Red Sox slammed them 13-1 in Game One (ouch!). To add insult to injury, their online ticket sales website crashed (after only 500 tickets were sold) on Monday, which they believe was the result of a cyber-attack; namely a DoS attack launched from a botnet.
“Our website, and ultimately our fans and our organization, were the victim of an external, malicious attack that shut down the system and kept our fans from being able to purchase their World Series tickets,” Keli McGregor, team president, said Monday in a news release.

Very early in the history of Tech–for EveryoneI wrote two articles which discuss botnets and how your computer could be a zombie without your knowing it — and a couple of steps you can take to prevent a hacker from using your machine to mail out spam, or launch attacks.

The first I titled “Some basic security pointers #1“, which I always think of by its opening sentence, “is your computer a zombie?”. In it I discuss User Account passwords, what makes a good password, and the hidden Windows Administrator account, and provide a link to a tool that tests the effectiveness of your firewall. (Click the links to view the articles.)

The second article was titled “The FBI and Operation: Bot Roast” which opens by asking the question, “is your computer a threat to national security?” In this article I discussed malware, such as rootkits and trojan horses, and how hackers use these to take control of your machine, and use it for their own, nefarious, purposes. I explained what a botnet is, and I provided a link to the pages on my business website where I list several dozen links to the best free antivirus and anti-spyware tools.

Tip of the day: Read these important articles and get educated about hackers and their evil programs, and then download the tools, and take the preventative steps, and thwart these Evil Doers. It is a fact that your machine can be used to interfere with our economic system and way of living.

Tip of the day #2: Do not open any PDFs you receive via email for a while. (Loyal friends and true will note that this is the first time I’ve posted two tips in one day.)
There is currently making the rounds an exploit that uses a trojan horse embedded in a poisoned .pdf attachment to download malware onto your machine. The exploit uses a vulnerability in code found in IE 7 on Windows XP. Microsoft is aware of this, but has yet to release a patch (through Windows Update).
If you aren’t sure what an “exploit” is, I discussed it in an article titled “These folks had a very bad day“, which discusses exploits and vulnerabilities and how this is the Number One hacker technique for gaining control of your machine. In it I demonstrate how to configure your firewall and Update settings, and provide a link to website which will scan your machine for unpatched vulnerabilities and help you get updated and protected.

[update 10/30: From Secure Computing–
Ken Dunham, director of global response for iSight Partners, told SCMagazineUS.com today that one of his source’s honeypots received the infected email once every 10 seconds. This indicates “a fairly heavy spamming taking place,” especially for home users in advance of the weekend, he said.

The shadowy Russian internet service provider, Russian Business Network (RBN), is behind the attacks, which attempt to infect users with two rootkits that seek to steal personal and financial information from compromised PCs, Dunham said.

“You have what looks like a PDF attachment,” he said. “It’s actually exploit code designed to download code from a remote server.”

Adobe patched the bug Monday, so those who upgraded to Adobe Reader 8.1.1 and Acrobat 8.1.1 are safe.”

Today’s free link: By clicking the links to the three articles posted above, and scrolling down to this section of the posts, you will find links to 50+ highly rated free security tools. Please, take advantage of them!

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Copyright © 2007 Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

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October 25, 2007 Posted by | advice, anti-spyware, antivirus, computers, firewall, how to, IE 7, PC, security, tech, Windows, XP | , , , , | 2 Comments