Archive for April, 2010

Stop black hat hackers on your corporate network

Posted on April 30th, 2010 in Antivirus, Firewall, Security, Spyware | No Comments »

When you are using the internet at home, you have to deal with a multitude of attacks that may be floating around waiting to strike. But when you have a corporate network that you maintain, you have to not only deal with the attacks that are already on the internet, but also attacks that may be created especially for you. Many black hat hackers see breaking through a corporate network as a big achievement. They know that a corporate network will have real security compared to a home user. So this means that when they are able to infiltrate past a corporate network, this will lead not only to more valuable data but also more esteem in the hacker community. To stop them, you must have not only the latest in software security, but the latest in hardware security as well.

When you have a corporate network that you have to secure, you have to make sure that your hardware firewall is one of the best in the market. A firewall becomes your mainline of defense when you are dealing with outside threats. Yes, you may have the latest in corporate security anti virus, but that is only good if the infection has already gotten past your first line of defense. You have to make sure that this doesn’t happen. So to avoid this type of intrusion from happening, make sure that your corporate firewall is top notch. A company such as Cisco will have what you need to keep your organization’s data protected from outside threats. Also, you can look into hardware that will scan the incoming emails for your organization. The email process is another way that attackers are able to get their malware on your corporate networks. So having a dedicated piece of hardware that will scan your incoming emails will help in being able to thwart the bad guys before they enter your system.

After you have the right hardware that is needed in protecting your organization, you are going to have to look at the right software solutions as well. When you are securing your computer at home, usually software is your first line of defense. But on a corporate network, it is used more as the secondary line of defense. The official back up just in case anything is able to get past your hardware protections. Also when you are looking at software solutions for a corporate network, you are not going to be able to use just the normal anti virus software. You are going to have to go with the enterprise edition since it is going to have to protect so many people. All of the top vendors have a enterprise version of their software that you can take advantage of.

But anti virus is not the only software that you are going to need when you are protecting your network. You are going to need some sort of enterprise anti spyware solution as well. While spyware can be just a nuisance on a home computer, on a corporate network it can give away lots of insider secrets. This is why you need to make sure that your network is protected from the tracking software that goes along with spyware.

To stop black hat hackers on a corporate network, you will need these tools to get the job done. As long as you make sure that everything is up to date and you should be fine.

How to spot a phising site while surfing the web

Posted on April 29th, 2010 in Internet, Security | No Comments »

If you are a person that surfs the internet a lot, you are bound to run into web sites that can be considered sketchy at best. When a person encounters one of these sites, instead of being on alert as they should, they go to the normal human instinct which is to be curious. Unless you are a really pessimistic person, then you probably have faith in most people. Unfortunately when it comes to the internet, that faith in people can cause you and your computer to be vulnerable. If you visit a web site and you feel that something is wrong, then you should really trust your instincts. In this article we will show you what to look for when you detect a web site is up to no good. We will walk you through the many signs that will let you know if you can trust the web site or not. Some of these signs may seem basic to the advanced user but to the newer people that are on the internet, they can be a life saver.

The first thing that you want to look out for when you a visit a site that you suspect may be a phising site is the domain name. Yes this seems simple enough but you would be surprised by the many phising sites that are using a domain name that look nothing like the web site that they are trying to spoof. People just remember what a site looks like and if it matches, they think that they are there. They have no idea that a web sites design can be faked pretty easily. So if you are a person that does not understand how the pinning’s of the internet works, then you should learn how to spot if you are on the right domain name or not. It is as simple as looking at the address bar but you must also be sure that the domain name is spelled right. If the spelling is even a little bit off then that means that you are on the wrong web site.

The next thing that you should look out for is if the site is secured or not. What we mean by that is that there should be a little yellow lock at the bottom of your browser. This means that the web site is operating under the SSL security protocol. This is especially important if you are putting any kind of personal information, such as your credit card or social security number in the web site. If the site does not have that lock, then you should be very suspicious. The SSL certificate can be faked but most of the time people who create a phising site would not go through all of that trouble. So if the site does not have a lock when they are asking you to place your personal information in it, then it should be avoided at all cost.

Spotting a phising site can be very tricky if they are made especially well. Fortunately for you, most are not. If you run into the average phising site then there will be signs of it being a phony right away.

How to keep Windows 7 from becoming part of a botnet

Posted on April 28th, 2010 in Internet, Security, Windows 7 | No Comments »

The biggest security threat that we have in 2010 is the threat of botnets forming and becoming too powerful. Everyone who has hosted a web site that was the victim of a DDOS attack has most likely seen the damage that a botnet can do. Even some of the bigger sites are falling victim to the ever increasing powers of a botnet. They have grown bigger over the years and this is a real problem. At one point, they were mainly used for a DDOS attack; but now they are now being used for sending spam and delivering viruses and other malware across the internet. If you own Windows 7, you are already half way there from keeping your computer from becoming infected. But even though the security protection in Windows 7 is good, there are several things that you must do to make it even better.

I guess that we should explain what a botnet is before we go any further. It will be hard to explain to you on how to defend yourself from something that you don’t even know what it is. So in short, a botnet is a bunch of computers that a remote black hat hacker has taken control over. After they have taken control over the computers, they are now known as zombie computers. The owners of them may not even know that anything has happened to them. Most botnet owners these days like to keep their ownership of the computer quiet. If the owner of the computer knows that they are on there, they will try to get it fix and erase the program that is controlling the computer. So the botnet owners only take control of the computer when they need it. This means that if they have something that needs to be distributed to a large amount of people, or an attack needs to happen, they turn on the zombie network and then let it go to work. They also rent out the botnet to other interested parties so that they can do their dirty work for them as well.

To keep your computer safe from becoming part of a botnet, you need to make sure that it is safe from infections. Most systems are turned into a zombie from a Trojan that was able to access your computer without you realizing it. You can stop this by making sure that your antivirus is up to date and that you run a scan over your computers hard drive frequently. Stopping these little pieces of malware will help keep your computer out of larger trouble.

Windows 7 is well equipped from protecting itself from infection. But the use of a good antivirus and common sense can go a long way in keeping your computer even safer.

Three firewall solutions that will best protect Windows 7

Posted on April 27th, 2010 in Firewall, Windows 7 | No Comments »

When we need to protect our computers from outside intruders, there are a few options that are available to us. We need these options, because everyday our computer is probed by strangers that want to be able to access our personal information. They will take our information and sell it to the highest bidder. So to help prevent people from being able to penetrate our computer, we can use software known as a firewall. A firewall will block the ports of your computer and keep the bad guys from getting in. But, there are several different firewall solutions that we can use to get the job done. And our job is made a little easier by using Windows 7, one of the most secured operating systems out there.

The first type of firewall solution that you can set up to block intruders from your computer, is a hardware solution. You can use a software firewall or a hardware firewall. Most experts tend to agree that a hardware version is the better way to protect your computer. Preferably, you should have mix of the two, both a hardware and a software firewall set up. When you are dealing with a corporate network, then you could spend thousands of dollars on a firewall that will help protect you. But for the average home user trying to protect their network, the hardware solution would come in the form of your router. If you go into the router administration settings, you will see that there is an option that you can turn a firewall on or off. Most routers come with this option already turned on. The firewall on your home router can be the best option that you have when protecting your computer. Make sure that you keep it on.

Even if you have the hardware firewall option nailed down, you still want to back that up with a software firewall as well. This way your computer has double the protection. There are a few options that you can use for a software firewall. One of these solutions is the firewall that comes already built into Windows 7. In the past, the firewall that came with the Windows operating system was not a strong solution and you still needed a third party option to help back you up. But in Windows 7, the firewall is as robust as any third party solution that is on the market. You can surf the web safely knowing that you have a full featured firewall backing you up.

The last solution in regards to firewalls on Windows 7, is to use a third party solution. There are many companies that make a full featured suite of firewall products that will help protect your computer. You may even be able to purchase a firewall package that will also come with other security products as well. Products such as an anti virus solution. Over the years, some of the top software solutions out there, have really refined their products so that they can take on any attacker trying to get into your system. They have seen the worse that the web has to offer and they were able to create solutions for it. You will not be putting your computer in any type of harm if you went with a well known third party firewall vendor.

As you can see, there are many options that are available to you when it comes to a firewall. Take your time, and pick what solutions seems right to you.

Hackers will use popular news stories to infect you computer

Posted on April 26th, 2010 in Internet, Security | No Comments »

The one thing that has been proven to get someone’s attention is a catchy headline. Especially, if the headline is about a celebrity or some scandal that has happened to a politician. It is like driving past a car accident, you do not want to, but you cannot help but look at the accident scene. Everyone gets mad at the person ahead of them who does it, but by the time they get to the accident they are looking as well. Black hat hackers use this curiosity against you to get what they want. They use a sensational headline that is popular that day and make it so that you just have to click on it. Once you have click on the story, then you computer will pay the price.

A good example of this is what happened when Michael Jackson died. There was no bigger news story than Michael Jackson dying for the next couple of weeks. The stories were especially prevalent on the social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. Michael Jackson stories were everywhere and so were brand new ways to infect user’s computers. People were eating up the Michael Jackson news so black hat hackers took the opportunity and spread infections to a lot of unsuspecting people. So much so, that several popular web sites had to issue warnings telling people to watch out for this kind of attack. The safe thing to do was to only get sensationalist news such as this from web sites that you were familiar with. At the very least, get the news from web sites that were visited by people that you knew already. Randomly clicking on links in Twitter was bound to lead you to some bad places on the internet.

The Michael Jackson story was not the only time this has happened. There have been a few others stories over the past couple of months that this has happened to as well. Every time you hear about a big story breaking, you can be sure that there is a black hat hacker waiting to take advantage of the commotion. Lately they have even been making up stories so that people will click on the infected links. Even though the stories get debunked soon after it hits the internet, that still gives an attacker enough time to infect a lot of computers. A short burst like that can probably give them a better click ratio than they would get by using their normal tricks.

When you see news breaking or a story that seems unbelievable, always check a site that you know first before you go to any strange web sites. You have to remember that there are people that are trying to get into your computer. It is your job to head them off at the pass. You can do this by going to reliable web sites and not clicking on every link that seems interesting.

Four steps that will keep your online privacy safe

Posted on April 23rd, 2010 in Internet, Security | No Comments »

Most people who use the internet on a regular basis have several different ways that their data can be leaked to the public. Between the heavy usage of social networks, logging into your email and checking bank accounts from another person machine, we expose ourselves everyday to the risk of someone stealing our data. This is why we have to be very concerned when it comes to protecting our secrets online. We should not let anyone or any company tell us that they have our security interest in their hearts and just trust them with the data that we hand over. We need to do little things ourselves to make sure that the data is never compromised. And when it comes to the different services that we use every day on the web, we can achieve that goal. All we need is a little guidance on how we can get this done. If you follow these simple rules, you will be able to cut down your chance at having your data stolen by half.

The first thing that you need to do to make sure that your data is always safe is to make sure that your passwords are in a secure place. When we sign up for a lot of web sites, we can easily start to lose track of our login credentials. Or so that we don’t have to keep track, we can fall into the trap of using the same login and password on every site that we visit. Both of these conditions can lead to you easily getting your data stolen. If you want to make sure that your privacy stays safe, use different login credentials with each web site that you visit. Also use an encrypted software solution like Keepass to store your passwords.

Another step that will keep your online privacy safe is to be careful what you say on the social media sites that you are a member of. Most people love the fact that they can share their lives online but there is a chance that you will share too much. You do not want to give identity thieves too much information that they can use against you. Think about what you say before you type it and remember that it is in the public domain once you do. Remembering that will keep you from spreading too much information online.

Step three is to be careful of the web sites that you visit. 99% of the web sites that are available on the web are totally safe to go to. But it is that one percent that you have to be worried about. If a site does not give you a good feeling when you visit it then you just leave from there. Always follow your gut instinct when you are online. It will help more times than it will hurt.

To continue on with the last point, not only should you be careful with what web sites that you visit, you should also be concerned about links that you run across. The wrong link can lead you to install software that will invade your privacy by stealing your data. Even if it is someone that you know sending you the link, you should always be careful about clicking on them. Also, to go along with this and our last point, is if you do click the link, make sure that you scan with an antivirus anything that it might download to your computer.

Keeping your privacy safe while online is a big deal. Make sure that you follow these precautions when you are online to make sure that your privacy is kept intact.  

Run these files through an antivirus before you click on them

Posted on April 22nd, 2010 in Antivirus | No Comments »

There are many different types of files that you will find on a computer. You have the basic files that you see all of the time such as .exe, .jpg, .doc and others. But there are also custom files that you will see floating around your computer as well. These are files types that a certain programs must use to operate. After you own the computer for a couple of years, you will see more and more of these file types showing up. To check how many file types are installed on your computer, you can go to your control panel and check out the folder options section. If you click on the file type tab, you will see how many different file type extensions are registered to run on your computer. Most of these extensions have data that is no different than what you are already used to using but they want to make sure that the data only runs on their program only. The one thing that you should learn if you are going to operate a computer safely is which of these files types should be wary of when you download them from the internet.

The one type of file that you should scan whenever you download it from the internet is one of the most common you will see on the internet and on your computer. This is the .exe file type. This is an executable file that will allow a program to run on your computer. If you find a malicious one on the internet, it will harm your computer greatly. This is why no matter if the file comes from a trusted source or not, you should take the time and run an antivirus scan on it. If you download the wrong .exe, you can spend days trying to undo the damage that was done to your computer.

We have now warned you against the .exe file type but these next couple of file types are popular among black hat hackers because they can hide an .exe or they are able to execute code in them. A person can change the file extension of a file type so that you are fooled into believing that it is something else. But that is not what we are talking about here. We are talking about embedding one type of file into another. One of the most popular file types that are known for its embedding qualities is the .wmv file type. These are files for the Windows Media Player. Hackers are able to embed nasty code in these file types and when someone tries to run them, they infect their computer. This is an especially popular file type for hackers who use Trojans to deliver their payload.

There are a couple of more file types that you should worry about as well. Files that you see every day, such as .flv, .jpg and others, are known to have the ability to embed malware in them. This is why anytime you see these types of files downloaded onto your computer; you must run an antivirus on them. It is better to be safe than sorry.

Should you use an online virus scanner to protect your computer?

Posted on April 21st, 2010 in Antivirus, Internet, Security | No Comments »

The one thing that all of us worry about when we use the computer is that a new and unknown virus will come along and destroy all of the data that we have saved. So to keep that from happening, we do what the experts tell us to do. We buy or get a free copy of the latest and greatest antivirus software that is on the market and we install it on our computers. After the software is installed we let it examine the computer files that are already on there to see if there is a problem. Before we do that, we make sure that it is updated so that it will be able to catch any new infections. And now we just wait. But is there an easier way to do this? Some people say yes and it comes in the form of online antivirus scanners.

Several years ago, some of the third party security companies that are out there, found out that they can create an online version of the scanner tools. It started by letting people upload a file to their server and see if there was an infection in it. It went from that to the companies creating full blown tools that would scan the persons whole computer. This became a great tool for people to use. But the question remains; should you use an online scanner instead of one already installed on your computer?

The answer to that is no. You can use the two as a complement to one another but there is no way that you should use the online version of the tool without having an offline version installed and updated on your computer. The reason why is simple. Most antivirus scanners that are installed on your computer will scan new files that are introduced to your system automatically. This is not like the online version where you would have to upload a file every time that it is new to your system. More than likely you would get tired of doing that and you would start to use judgment calls. If the file looked safe in your eyes or at the very least if it came from what you thought was a safe place, then you wouldn’t bother to upload it for scanning. When it comes to matters such as this, it is best to let the computer handle it automatically.

An online scanner works best if it is used for scanning suspicious files and if somehow you are not able to get your antivirus working because of some strange infection. But it is not the best solution if you need full time protection on your machine.  For cases such as that, it is best to go with the tried and true method of installing the antivirus on your system.

Here you can find a good list of online antivirus scanners.