Tag Archives: malware

Facebook Serves Up Unwanted Apps

Amidst a slew of heated arguments this week surrounding Facebook’s stance on privacy, yet another blemish has been added to the mix. Many people woke up this morning to find that the popular site had decided to serve up unwanted apps without any consent or control on the part of the user.

This morning, Facebook quietly added apps to your profile for certain websites you may have visited while logged in to FB. You didn’t need to have an actual Facebook window open… you simply had to have not logged out after your session. There were no notifications nor any opt-out buttons to check or uncheck. Some of the sites whose apps were added include Mashable!, TechCrunch, and the USA Today (at least in MY profile). All of the sites who left this trail all have Facebook integration on their sites, and the app install appeared to have been related to the social networking site’s new sharing features and tools.

If a website installs something onto my computer without my knowledge or consent, that “something” is labeled as malware. In my mind, these apps were exactly that. They weren’t something I chose. They were installed on my profile without my even knowing it until this news broke. There was no way that I could easily find to remove them, either. Only after I read up on the announcement did I figure out how to get rid of them. The problem is, if I don’t completely block them they will just re-install the next time I visit those sites.

The new “features” in Facebook’s Open Graph API are supposedly there to be used with your permission to cross-post your comments between the site and external sources. For example, if you commented on a story over at TechCrunch, a pop-up will ask you if you want to publish the comment as a wall story on your Facebook profile, as well. YOU had the choice to allow this or not. This morning, that freedom to choose was stripped away from you.

Hours after the dam broke free, Facebook released a statement:

There was a bug that was showing applications on a user’s Application Settings page that the user hadn’t authorized. No information was shared with those applications, and the applications did not appear to anyone but the user. This bug has been fixed.

According to some reports, though, the problem still persists. While information may not be shared with the sites, their apps are still showing up in profiles after removal. The only way to completely get rid of them is to block them in your app settings.

This is but one more slap in the face for Facebook. However, the site appears to remain unconcerned. With the government already stepping in to attempt to reign in Zuckerberg and his team, I would think that the site would be more vigilant than ever when it comes to letting “bugs” such as this crawl through.

Computer Malware: There's a Facebook App for That

The newly-published results of the 2010 Consumer Reports State of the Net survey are interesting, to say the least. While much of the findings discuss privacy in general, one item that was glossed over stood out to me. According to the study:

Of the estimated 18.4 million adult Facebook users who used apps (games and quizzes), 38 percent were either confident apps were secure or hadn’t thought about it. Meanwhile, a projected 1.8 million computers were infected by apps obtained through one or another social network in the past year.

Nearly two million computers were infected with malware from apps on sites such as Facebook. It boggles my mind that this was glossed over. Some of the infections may consist “only” of adware or other mostly-harmless (just annoying!) junk, many of them are likely far more dangerous. Some pieces of malware will dig into your computer without your ever knowing it and then proceed to steal your information. Still other types will use your computer as a part of botnet… attacking innocent sites and people.

With the risk of becoming infected being so great these days, I would think there would be a way for sites like Facebook to regulate the apps they allow. Sure, there is a “disclaimer” whenever you add an app to your profile. However, it just seems to me that more can – and SHOULD – be done to help keep site users safe. Heck, if FB isn’t going to police these apps, at least do something to warn users more clearly about the potential dangers.

When you’re surfing around your favorite social site installing things, please make sure you’re smart about it. Check out the source of the application, and research them. Are there complaints running around the web which talk of malware being installed or found with that app? Go one step further and ASK for other opinions before you click to allow access to something new. What are others saying about that little game or quiz?

As always, make sure you keep your machine protected with proper Windows updates and security software. Trust your instincts… not your lust for the newest time-wasting game.

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.

When are People Strange?

It’s always interesting to read people’s answers to random questions. For instance, I asked on my Facebook page earlier what makes a person strange. The answers were varied as usual. Many community members cracked simple jokes in reply. Still others actually came up with some cool insight into the question.

The absolute best answer had to be the person who stated: “There is really no follow up to that. People really are just strange.” That, folks, is the most truthful statement I’ve ever read! Have a great weekend, all of you strangers.

There’s nothing strange about wanting to keep your computer happy with the best software you can possibly find.

Is a URL Shortener Really What Twitter Needed?

Twitter’s Chirp conference closed out today with the news that the company will soon roll out it’s official URL shortener. CEO Evan Williams noted that it would be “stupid” not to add native link-shortening capabilities into Twitter, since most Twitter clients already have that feature. “Everyone else has solved that problem. We are probably not going to give people a choice. If they want to use a different shortener, they can use a different app.”

In the weeks leading up to Chirp, people all over the world were seen asking for various new features on the popular microblogging site. Not once did I see anyone think that they needed yet another link shortener. I understand the new TwittAD feature. I’m loving the enhanced search capabilities. I enjoy coming up with new ways to find interesting people to follow. I’m even already digging the new front page design.

What I DON’T get, though, is why the heck we need yet another way to make our links smaller. Users want more apps. They want to easier ways to show off photos and videos. They want to come up with better ways to network and connect. These are the things, in my mind, that the Twitter team should be focusing on. It’s all about what the needs of your community are, guys.

Don’t “short” your computer when it comes to awesome software. The same holds true of your mobile devices! Check out our software center to find out what’s new today.

We had some excellent little discussions going on over at the Facebook fan page today. Did you miss out on any of them?

Keep Yourself Safe From Online Disasters

There should be an image here!In 2008, there was some published data about how many laptops were lost or stolen each week at U.S. airports. The number was staggering. The 2008 research put the number at over 10,000 laptops per week. With the increasing popularity of netbooks, as well as the wide use of laptops, the numbers now may exceed the 2008 findings. And that is just airport data.

When those figures are combined with home thefts, the numbers must be impressive — in a bad way. Not only is the hardware valuable, but the information on those machines could lead to even more problems. For example, most computers have personal information on them. This is especially true as people are doing their tax returns. If that information falls into the wrong hands, then there is a real concern for identity theft.

We encourage our readers to use security software. As much as the security firms try, they are usually one step behind the hackers. No security firm says that their software gives one hundred percent protection — they simply can’t. The Internet is too dynamic and things are happening too fast.

Because of disasters like a stolen/lost laptop or a hacker penetrating security, there should be a final layer of protection — and that is encryption. Encryption may seem like an extreme measure that will make it difficult for the user it’s meant to protect, but this is simply a myth. Encryption is not difficult, and it is not only for the geeky.

One simple, effective program that is recommended for encryption is SafeBit:

SafeBit Disk Encryption is the perfect electronic vault you need for your privacy. It features military strength on-the-fly encryption, by creating virtual disk drives, where you can hide files and folders, keep them encrypted all them time, but still work with these files just like you work with normal files. SafeBit is the last line of defense if your current security system fails against viruses, trojans or hacker attacks.”

This is a very special offer for our readers. The SafeBit people are offering our readers a generous forty percent (40%) discount off their regular price. This is a remarkable saving on an award winning software program.

Use this link to get SafeBit at its discounted rate.

This offer expires on April 21st, 2010. SafeBit works on 32-bit versions of Windows 2K/NT/XP/Vista.

If your computer is lost or stolen, then the information is safe. Encryption theoretically can be broken, but it may take years of sophisticated effort. Most thieves will not bother, and the data likely would be wiped and the stolen machine sold. When you know that the information on the missing machine is safe, it makes the disaster of the missing laptop, netbook, or even desktop somewhat easier to take.

Here is just one last reminder for the people who will be traveling with their laptops. If you are using different Wi-Fi connections regularly or plugging in to unfamiliar Internet connections, there is the risk of keyloggers. For example, the keylogger would record your name and password when you enter a site like PayPal. That would be comparable to handing over the log-in data to your online account. SafeBit has a virtual keyboard, which will give protection from such keylogger programs and password stealing malware. The virtual keyboard feature alone is worth the generous price of this program.

Thanks to the SafeBit people for offering this program to our readers at this price point.

Not Even the Dalai Lama is Safe from Malware

We talk often here on my blog about the dangers of malware. We attempt to educate you and bring you valuable discounts for various security programs. We try to stress how critical it is for you to practice safe Internet habits. You never know what those seemingly innocent links from your friends will actually lead to. Your information and sensitive data can be stolen in a moment… sometimes without your even being aware of it. Hackers don’t discriminate. They’ll gladly take private information from anyone and everyone – including the Dalai Lama himself.

After a long investigation, evidence has been uncovered showing that cyber spies used cloud computing systems and social networking platforms to steal classified materials belonging to some very important individuals. Along with the Dalai Lama, information was taken from the United Nations, the Indian National Security Council Secretariat, and the Pakistani Embassy located in the United States. Even New York University was affected.

Investigators into the attack stated that “”While we only have limited insight into the motivations and methods of the attackers, we believe they infected victims primarily via email using social engineering techniques to convince their victims to open malicious file attachments.”

I will type and type until my fingers are blue. I will yell at the top of my lungs. I will talk until… well, you get the idea. Please. PLEASE. Protect yourself and your information. Be smart about your security. Find out what security software will best suit your needs and USE it.

A Scatter-Brained Hard Drive Will Slow Your Computer

If your computer is slow, it might not be malware. Hackers and cybercriminals are much more sophisticated these days. They want your machine to be running well. It helps to avoid detection and they want your computer to be efficient for their own purposes. For example, the hackers may want efficient computers to spew out spam in their bot network.

One of the reasons that the computer may be slow is that the hard drive becomes more and more fragmented. To simplify the concept, it means that the data needed for each file is spread over the hard drive. It becomes necessary for the hard drive to search for the pieces of the program and the computer appears to function slowly. The problem can be solved with defragmenting the hard drive. In effect, this boosts the performance of the hard drive and allows it to work more efficiently. It contributes to the overall health of the hard drive.

Most operating systems supplies a utility to defrag a hard drive. For example, Microsoft includes a defragmentation process. It will comes as no surprise that not all defragmentation processes are the same. We recommend PerfectDisk 11:

“PerfectDisk 11’s patented Advanced SMARTPlacement is an intelligent file placement strategy that organizes files according to usage patterns and eliminates most fragmentation before it happens. It also results in faster defrag passes, quicker server boots, slower refragmentation, reduced resource consumption and improved overall performance. File, application and directory data can be placed on the drive according to your specific requirements for even faster system performance and file access.”

It works with Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7. And, from April 8 to April 16, 2010, our readers have a twenty percent discount on this excellent program. When purchasing, please use coupon code: PDLOCKER.

There are a number of reasons why we are recommending PerfectDisk 11. However, if you are wondering why we are recommending something that is offered already with the operating system, the answer is that it is simply better. For example, copy/paste is one function that Microsoft has offered since from the beginning. Nevertheless, it can be greatly improved. Undoubtedly, you have wanted to copy something and keep that along with the next bit of text that is copied. This just illustrates how basic efficiency can be improved.

PerfectDisk 11 is an award-winning program. It is what should have been included with your operating system but wasn’t. As our readers know, we remind you to backup your data for security reasons. Here is a program to help take care of that hard drive better and boost the performance of your computer. The difference between PerfectDisk 11 and what comes with your operating system is significant. You will want it on all your machines.

Playing Tetris Eases Stress

It’s no secret that I am a Tetris fanatic. That is pretty much the only game I play and truly enjoy. Forget the fact that the game is addictive. Researchers at Oxford University have suggested that playing Tetris can assist in the treatment of post-traumatic stress.

According to the research, playing Tetris after a shocking event can help reduce the number of horrific flashbacks that a person may have. According to Dr. Emily Holmes, memories become permanent six hours after trauma. She feels that playing Tetris will interfere with the process of memories being kept by people’s brains. She further speculates that in the future, Tetris could be used to help people who are suffering after accidents or during wars.

I am grateful that I have never suffered a severely traumatic experience. However, I still maintain that playing Tetris is good for keeping my stress levels down.

Is your computer stressed out? Take a look at what’s new in the software center and calm your computer with something new.

Popular Site Becomes Alleged Source of Malware

The bad news is that there are reports that another popular site was hit with malware. Allegedly, some visitors to the popular Drudge Report came away with a malware infection. You see the word “allegedly” used here because there is some dispute about the actual source of the infection:

“Matt Drudge denied that his site was infecting visitors, however it’s likely that the malware is coming from ads delivered by a third-party ad network and not the site itself.”

For the site visitor, it is really not important whether the source of the infection is the site itself or the advertising. The salient point is that people are being infected by malware. And that can lead to a variety of problems – from identity theft to an unauthorized use of the computer for spam to a whole load of time wasted.

It is not safe even by just going to the popular sites that have plenty of traffic. The cyber-criminals/hackers want to exploit that traffic and those popular sites become targets. This has been demonstrated over and over again.

If you are on the Internet, you have to take security precautions. There is no other alternative, except to stay offline.

The good news is that there are security programs that are effective in providing protection from this online trash. We are recommending SUPERAntiSpyware for your computer security.

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. 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. SUPERAntispyware is being offered at a special rate for our readers. There is a ten dollar ($10.00) saving, until March 17, 2010.

This is a program that is highly recommended within the security community. It has over 20 million users worldwide. People who work on these pages use it and recommend it, too. Recommend this to your friends and family. We are trying to make it as easy and as economical as possible for our readers and their friends to protect themselves and your computers. When you have this program, use it – update the security protection offered and use it!