Tag Archives: antivirus

Does a Mac Need Security Software?

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A chat room visitor asked me if it’s necessary to have an anti-virus program installed on Mac OS X. Most people will tell you that it isn’t needed, but I have a feeling my assistant Kat won’t agree with that assessment.

Guess what? I happen to agree with her. You should run security software on your Mac. Just because there aren’t “many” pieces of malware out there for OS X doesn’t mean there are “none.” There are a few running around the wilds. Nothing is perfect. As more people turn to Mac more vulnerabilities will be released.

If you want to be safe, you want to run something that’s going to keep you clean and free from all digital nasties… not just a virus. Mac OS X can suffer from Spyware, yes. There may not be a lot of it, again, but it is there.

If you’re going to connect to the Internet, you need to do so safely – even on Linux.

What do YOU think?

The Best Antivirus Security Software

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During live calls recently, one person asked my opinion on the best anti-virus program to use. I always defer this question to my assistant, Kat. She is a five-year Microsoft MVP in Consumer Security.

Kat said that if you are looking for a good, free anti-virus program, you want to choose either Avast or Avira (which also works on Linux!). Another excellent free option is Microsoft Security Essentials.

If you are willing to pay for your security, your best option is the Eset Security Suite. Several of the others as quite good, as well. It mostly boils down to personal preference, but Kat says she has never once been steered wrong (or been unhappy) with Eset.

Our new 100 Windows Security Tips eBook (which Kat helped write) is available right now. It is filled with some excellent tips, tricks and advice to keep your computer safe. You’ll also find several special deals and discounts on popular security software.

If you want some further security recommendations, you can visit her blog post about the subject.

What security software do you use?

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McAfee Mess Could Cost Millions

In the antivirus industry, false positives run amok. No matter which vendor you choose to buy from, you’re going to have the occasional hiccup. Those small snafus are usually easily sorted out, with minimal downtime or expense. Once in a while, though, someone falls asleep at the wheel and all hell breaks loose. Such was the case with McAfee on Wednesday.

The company rolled out an update that took down Windows XP computers around the world. The company then issued a statement claiming that “less than .005% of McAfee users were hit by the update,” which misidentified a legitimate SP function as a virus and killed it. The results were computers locked in a reboot loop. Unfortunately, it appears that there are many thousands of computers affected by this disaster… adding up to a far higher percentage than McAfee is apparently willing to admit.

Solera Networks, a supplier of network forensics technology, says it helped one large U.S. multi-national company quickly determine that the poisonous update from McAfee threw 50,000 of its PCs into a rebooting frenzy. McAfee advised the company that “remediation time is estimated to be 30 minutes per user, ” says Solera CEO Steve Shillingford. “Estimating $100 per hour, this organization’s lost time alone can be conservatively estimated to cost more than $2.5 million,” says Shillingford. “And that does not factor in lost productivity while users are down.” The fix issued by McAfee is a long and arduous one, likely not to be attempted by computer novices.

Others affected by the so-called “false positive situation” include hospitals, police departments, major universities and retail stores. Hospitals in Rhode Island had to refuse treatment for all but life-threatening situations. State police officers in Kentucky were without computers in their patrol cars while the IT department scrambled to fix machines. Australian supermarket behemoth Coles was hit so hard that 10 percent of its point-of-sales terminals were taken down. The company was forced to shut down stores in both western and southern parts of the country.

McAfee apparently sent an email to their larger enterprise customers to explain the situation. According to documents sent to Ed Bott, thorough testing was not even done prior to the update being released. The email admits that “Some specific steps of the existing Quality Assurance processes were not followed: Standard Peer Review of the driver was not done, and the Risk Assessment of the driver in question was inadequate” and that “there was inadequate coverage of Product and Operating System combinations in the test systems used. Specifically, XP SP3 with VSE 8.7 was not included in the test configuration at the time of release.”

This blows my mind. Windows XP SP3 is the most widely-used configuration in the enterprise desktop environment. I fail to understand how such a key testing phase could have just been “overlooked” or bypassed.

The most troubling aspect of the entire situation is McAfee’s seemingly cavalier attitude towards the event. The company apologized in a blog post on Thursday, but little has been said about the entire subject. Meanwhile, customers are complaining loudly all over the McAfee community forums, and they want answers. One commenter called for McAfee to “man up and own up to what happened, instead of trying to sugar-coat it and make it seem as though this is no big deal.”

It will be interesting to watch how this will play out as more information comes to light. I have a feeling we have only just begun to hear about the full effect the McAfee mess had on customers all over the world.

Spying with Malware

There should be an image here!The numbers are staggering. Google suspects that Vietnamese Internet users have been attacked, in terms of “tens of thousands.” The focus is on the Vietnamese users today, but it could shift easily to attack other regions. That there are so many Internet users compromised in Vietnam is disturbing because, online, we are all connected.

Google has had recent security issues. Today, there are reports that some journalists have had their email compromised; this is just a reminder that being online can be dangerous. There is no question that security programs are needed, and it is not only for your security — it is a matter of protecting yourself and other users online.

Whenever you are online, there is the threat of hackers and cybercriminals compromising your computer. Imagine that your IP address is like a house along the information highway. Even if you do absolutely nothing while connected to the Internet, there are hackers “testing the doors” to see if it is possible to compromise your computer.

One of the fallacies that we have been hearing is that some students believe that they are not at risk because, with their netbooks, they are only online briefly to check for email. Unfortunately, there is still a risk for just being online for a few minutes. It is a gamble with your computer security if there are not protection programs safeguarding your machine.

There is organized activity out there working hard to compromise your computer. If it isn’t a government activity, it is hackers and cybercriminals involved in organized crime. Your machine holds personal information that can be sold for the purposes of identity theft. Your computer can be compromised to become part of a bot-network that spews spam. Unfortunately, this is just a reality of being online. It is the trade-off for having the convenience of the Internet. Many of us shop and pay bills online, and some criminal wants that personal information.

These Internet crimes are often silent. It may take months, or sometimes even years, before a victim realizes that an identity has been compromised and exploited. We try to remind our readers that they have to make security a priority, and that is with every machine that is used to go online. It is just not enough to protect your main machine and say that information on your secondary machines does not matter. A malware infection on one machine can migrate to your other machine.

We recommend security programs such as Webroot Internet Security Essentials (WISE):

“…With unmatched antivirus, antispyware and firewall security, WISE provides blockbuster protection for your PC. In fact, the technologies in WISE have won a combined 11 PC Magazine Editors’ Choice awards! These technologies provide more complete protection than competing products to proactively block: viruses, spyware, worms, trojans, data theft, rootkits, hackers, intrusions, keyloggers…”

Webroot is allowing up to three computers to be protected and with a ten dollar discount. This works out to be an amount of under seventeen dollars per computer. It is a huge bargain. Please use this link for the discounted price.

Protect yourself with an award winning program. Protect all of the computers that you have (well, at least three of them). We want you to be safe online and just securing one machine is not enough. You do not want to be spreading malware when you synchronize your machines or share files between the machines. Webroot is a recognized leader in Internet security — when you do have this program, use it. You would be surprised by how many people who have security applications neglect to use them. That is just baffling!

Protect Your Computer for Christmas

Happy Holidays! If you are one of those generous Santas who is giving a computer this holiday season, please remember to protect it with some anti-virus and anti-spyware software. It seems that the hackers / criminals are going to vary and increase their attacks in the new year. It has been reported that file sharing networks will be under attack.

The tragic death of Brittany Murphy has meant fake sites spreading malware and faked emails leading to bogus sites. It is simply dangerous, and any new computer needs immediate protection.

Sunbelt Software is offering our readers a generous discount on their premier product, VIPRE.

VIPRE Antivirus + Antispyware is high-performance antivirus software that doesn’t slow down your PC like older, traditional security products. VIPRE is the end of antivirus as you know it. The press loves it. VIPRE got 5 STARS on download.com, and was just VB100 Certified…

This award winning software is suitable for Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7. And for a limited time, Sunbelt is offering our readers a ten dollar discount.

Please use the following coupon code: SPYINFO

VIPRE combines antivirus, antispyware, anti-rootkit and other technologies into a seamless, tightly-integrated product. Built with next-generation technology, VIPRE (Virus Intrusion Protection Remediation Engine) gives you powerful antivirus and antispyware software in-one that protects you against today’s highly complex malware threats including viruses, adware, spyware and rootkits, without hogging your PC resources like many traditional antivirus products.

This generous offer will be valid until January 5, 2010. Our thanks to the Sunbelt crew for this generous offer to our readers. This product will protect those new computers – and it is a great idea as a year-round gift that is functional every time your friend or family member turns on the computer.

Have a great and safe holiday.

Save Your Computer from Malware – and Naked Journalists!

Some days, it seems as though there is a never-ending barrage of new malware out there in the cyber-world. Hackers and criminals are increasingly creative in trying to get you to click the links, thus delivering you their malicious code. People using services like Twitter also have to be concerned about malware – just ask our friend Guy Kawasaki. The trend this week is to use Swine Flu updates, and the lure of a possibly exposed ESPN sports reporter to spread malware. There are just too many schemes to list. In short – they’ll try anything, and stop at nothing.

Without a doubt, there will be new and creative means to spread malware coming tomorrow and the next week.

Along with every major news story, the hackers / criminals will be first responders. They will use these news events as opportunities to infect more computers. If you are using services like Facebook and Twitter, you have to be careful about the links that you click. And even the most careful of computer users slip up once in a while. If you are on Twitter and engaged in reading the posts, the last thing you may be thinking about is protecting yourself from malware. Hackers are counting on that.

That’s why we urge our readers to protect themselves. You may think you are careful enough, however, no one can be vigilant 100% of the time. There are drive-by downloads that can install malware on your machine without your even having to click a link. This is the type of incidence that calls for an excellent security regime on your computer. You should have an anti-virus, a firewall, and at least one anti-spyware program running at all times.

We are very lucky to have Nick Skreptos, founder of the SUPERAntiSpyware program as a friend of our community, and even luckier that he has offered his program to all of you at an excellent discount. We well know how important it is to protect yourself and your data, and we’re happy to be able to help by passing this savings along to you!

SUPERAntiSpyware has Real-Time Blocking of threats! Prevent potentially harmful software from installing or re-installing! First Chance Prevention examines over 50 critical points of your system each time your system starts up and shuts down to eliminate threats before they have a chance to infect and infiltrate your system.

Nick and the SUPERAntiSpyware team have graciously extended to you a ten dollar discount from now until July 28th, 2009.

This is a program that is highly recommended within the security community. People who work on these pages use it and recommend it, too. We use it. We need it – and so do you. We are trying to make it as easy and as economical as possible for you to protect yourself and your computer. This program is easy to use and it is effective.

Malware – Hate to be Correct

There are times when internet predictions are simply too easy. Last Monday, on these pages, there was an indication that there would be an increase in malware because of the news of the swine flu problem. Regrettably, this has come true. There has been an increase in spam, phishing, malware and other nefarious online activity.

For this reason, the suppliers of SUPERAntiSpyware were asked if they would extend their promotion with us. They have extended the generous offer to our readers until May 8, 2009 to save ten dollars off the normal purchase price.

The other reason for extending this offer for our readers is that it gives an opportunity to address an issue that one of the commenters raised. There was a question about who in the security community recommended this product. Well, names can be listed and we will do so briefly:

  • Our very own Kat is a four-year Microsoft MVP in the area of Windows Security. Kat has been working on malware-removal forums for nearly seven years now, and is an Administrator at GeeksToGo. She highly recommends this program on a regular basis.
  • Catherine Forsythe and her software assessment group recommends this program. Catherine has been assessing security programs for over a decade now.
  • Mike Healan from the original SpywareInfo site and newsletter began recommending this product when it was first introduced.
  • Sean Roe, another Microsoft MVP and owner of 247Fixes calls SAS an excellent program.
  • All of the malware-removal websites that are “heavy hitters” in this field recommend this program to their users. The list of sites includes (but is far from limited to): GeeksToGo, BleepingComputer, SypwareInfoForum, and What the Tech.

We could go on and on, but there should be a point made here. No security program is absolutely faultless. Given the nature of the internet and the pace of infections, absolute guarantees just do not happen. However, that being said, pains are taken to recommend the very best available. There may be disputes about which program is the most effective and that is bound to happen. What is recommended has been vetted thoroughly by literally hundreds of Experts in this field on a regular basis. Each and every one of them still recommends this program to literally thousands of people every single day.

IF there was a dubious program recommended, the inbox would feel it within hours of the program being featured. This does not happen. One person raised an issue. Nevertheless, let there be no doubt whatsoever that computer security and keeping your data safe are taken seriously here. It would be wonderful if no security products were needed. That is not going to happen any time soon. Therefore, we present serious security software to our readers and do hope that, with the good prices, some time and focus will be paid to keeping the computer safe. It matters because it can impact upon you and then others online.

More Malware on its Way – Protect Yourself

Every major news service on the planet is carrying stories about the tragedies and possible escalation of problems concerning the swine flu outbreak. It is a serious problem with the possibility of becoming significantly worse. One of the first responders to this global concern is the hacking / malware community. Hackers and criminals are viewing this swine flu problem as an opportunity. Slick malware may be on its way, if it is not propagating at this very moment. It is only a matter of time. These hackers may be seen as first responders of the very worse kind.

The news is just one venue. Are you on Facebook? Have you joined Twitter? These are just some of the example of social media where people are sharing and clicking on links. If you are on Twitter and have a good number of followers, there are links posted every minute. It would be so easy for a hacker to play the social network and drop some malicious link there. And it will happen more and more often.

You may think you are careful enough. However, no one can be vigilant 100% of the time. There are drive-by downloads that can install things on your machine without your even having to click a link. This is the type of incidence that calls for an excellent security regime on your computer. You should have an Anti-Virus, a Firewall and at least one Anti-Spyware program running at all times. For an Anti-Spyware program, we are recommending SUPERAntiSpyware. We have an excellent deal for you that offers real time protection:

SUPERAntiSpyware has “Real-Time Blocking of threats! Prevent potentially harmful software from installing or re-installing! First Chance Prevention examines over 50 critical points of your system each time your system starts up and shuts down to eliminate threats before they have a chance to infect and infiltrate your system.”

The program offers much, much more and you can read about it at the links provided. This program is being offered at a special rate for our readers. There is a ten dollar ($10.00) savings until May 3, 2009.

Use this link for the discount when buying/.

This is a program that is highly recommended within the security community. People who work on these pages use it and recommend it, too. We use it. We need it and so do you. SUPERAntiSpyware will detect and remove Spyware, Adware, Malware, Trojans, Dialers, Worms, KeyLoggers, Hijackers, Rootkits and many other types of threats. This program is easy to use and it is effective. If you have any problems with SUPERAntiSpyware, let us know. We will tell the founder / director of the company and have any problems addressed. Nick Skrepetos is well known in the security community and he stands behind his products. And if you need this program in large numbers, let us know. We will see if we can help with pricing for your company.

Protect yourself. There are more malware programs coming and these malicious programs are becoming better and better. Let SUPERAntiSpyware give you and your data first class protection.

Is Your Network Secure?

Geek!This is Rodrigo Anonimo’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

When you think about security, you probably think of your own physical security. There are other kinds of security that you should be concerned about. When you are working on the computer, your personal information can be at risk. You should be concerned about network security, and what can you do to protect yourself. In fact, your credit/debit card is part of some kind of Network. This article explains threats and solutions for a computer network.

Viruses are the first threat to be concerned with when using the Internet. A computer virus is a small application which is downloaded while you visit a web site, or can be embedded in something you download. There are different kinds of viruses, but the most common are Trojan horses and Worms. If you know about the Trojan horse back in history, you should know that it was a threat pretending to be a gift, and that’s what Trojan viruses are. The program claims to do one thing (it may claim to be a game) but instead does damage when you run it, such as corrupting your hard drive. Worms are like bacteria in the human body, and they can reproduce and pass themselves on to other people. The worms have the ability to copy and paste and pass themselves to other computers. A worm is the most risky virus in a network because it can spread to other computers, and make the network crash.

You may be asking yourself, who makes all of these things? People who make the viruses and other security threats call themselves hackers. There are two types of hackers, White Hat hackers and Black Hat hackers. A hacker is someone who modifies something that already exists, and makes changes to it. For example, they can do reverse engineering which allows them to modify an existent computer program to make it work better… or to completely trash it. When one is using the hacked program, their computer can completely crash or the program can spy on the infected computer. The same thing applies to computer hardware.

There are tons of securities tools, but none of them are one hundred percent secure. The best bet is to enable firewalls on your computer to protect yourself from hackers. You must also get an AntiVirus software, to protect yourself from the different types of Viruses. Be careful when you buy your AV software. Make sure you buy from a well-known brand of AV. Also – make sure you have a WPA password for your wireless network. This type of key is harder to crack/hack. The last thing to do is to make sure the operating system is up to date with all security patches and fixes.

You will never know if you are hundred percent secure, and any kind of security is not one hundred percent safe. Having a little knowledge of what dangerous threats can do for a computer can be very helpful.

Fighting Viruses and Spyware

Mohd Ali tuned in today for the live calls, and just so happened to catch me discussing anti-virus / anti-spyware software:

Hello Chris. Since the topic inside the chat was about anti-virus, I would like to share some things with you that you might be interested in. I think that anti-virus these days is essentially useless. In the “old days”, they used to repair floppies and take care of viruses. However, now they slow down the entire system, and show flashy graphics. As you said, you can avoid 99% of viruses and spyware if you are more careful as to what websites you surf, and what you download. But in case you DO get infected by a malware, here’s a rather simple way to remove it.

You will only need one program. Unlocker assistant, it is located here: http://ccollomb.free.fr/unlocker/ – easy! What this program allows you to do is that it frees the binary resources being used up by a process. Since viruses are always running inside the background as a separate process, you need this application in order to get rid of it.

Once you have the program installed, check the run key inside your registry. Both inside the LOCAL_MACHINE and LOCAL_USER parent keys. The viruses add themselves inside those keys in order to start upon booting. So simply locate the key the virus has added. You can google the executable names to separate the malicious start up programs from legitimate ones. The key actually gives you the path to the malicious binary.

Simply unlock the binary by right clicking it, and clicking unlock from the context menu. Then you can delete the virus. Then simply delete the registry keys the virus has added. This only takes a few minutes, but it at least allows you to keep your computer running without anti-viruses eating up hundreds upon hundreds megabytes of RAM.

I’m not sure Mohd has nailed the terminology or nuances of these digital nasties, but his tool discovery seems like it could come in handy for those of you who find yourselves fighting desktop crap on a regular basis. You’re going to need several tools to keep you clean from spyware, etc. Best one, according to geeks in the trenches, is SuperAntiSpyware.