Tag Archives: mcafee

How Secure is Your Smartphone?

McAfee releases a quarterly report which details online threats. In the fourth quarter 2010 report, the company said that they have now identified almost a thousand threats which specifically target mobile devices. This is up about 46% over 2009. Most of these threats target Nokia’s Symbian operating system, as it is currently the most widely used in the world.

These days, we do everything with our phones: browsing, shopping and even banking. I’m not even sure I remember the last time I made an actual call with my iPhone. These devices need to be secure, and there are thankfully solutions available for your devices.

I talked to the team from King5 news here in Seattle about this growing problem, and some of the reasons I believe are behind it.

Cybercriminals currently have a window of opportunity to exploit a variety of mobile platforms. You could compromise your account information, your financial information and even your banking information.

I think that one of the largest areas of concern deals with app marketplaces which are offered by “outside” companies, such as with Android devices. Hackers know that free wallpaper, music and ringtones will tempt you so they often package spyware and malware. They turn you into an easy target, meaning you have to always use your thinking cap and best judgment. People are always going to be the weakest point for any amount of exploits out there.

You’ll notice that Apple’s iOS and RIM’s Blackberry OS are missing from McAfee’s list. I personally prefer Apple simply because they vet every single app that posts in their market. This is in direct contrast from what Google’s open Android Marketplace does.

Consumers feel safer with the way Apple does things – at least I know I do. I’m all about “open” as a concept, but come on. Do you REALLY want an open frontier on a device you do your banking on?

Is That Website Safe?

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Aaron has recorded this screencast to show all of you how to figure out if a website you want to visit is safe or not. McAfee’s SiteAdvisor doesn’t require any downloads, and will give you a detailed report along with your green (or red!) light.

Not only does the report give you a red or green light, it also includes demographic information such as the country the site is located in and how popular it is. If there are downloads available on the web page, McAfee has already tested each and every one to be sure that it’s clean and free of malware.

Customer (visitor) commentary adds a nice touch to your report. See what others are saying about their experience visiting that site. You can become a member for free and add your thoughts to any web site report that you find.

You will find a handy little graph that shows you what other sites are affiliated with the site in question, as well as being able to quickly tell if they are “green” or not. When checking out my main site, you’ll find links off to my live page, Lockergnome and various other sites that I maintain. As I would expect, all of my sites have a green light.

Lastly, you’ll be able to see exactly what annoyances a site may hold – such as popups. The team at McAfee has built this excellent tool to help you learn how to stay safe online, and to alert you to potential dangers before you ever click that link.

Thanks to Aaron for this excellent tutorial.

Want to embed this video on your own site, blog, or forum? Use this code or download the video:


McAfee to Reimburse Consumers for Downtime

A few days ago, I wrote about the McAfee update disaster and what it could cost to clean up. Today, the company has announced that they are willing to reimburse home consumers for any out-of-pocket expenses they may have incurred while trying to recover from this mess. Those home users will also see a free two-year extension of their existing McAfee software IF they choose to stay with the company.

However, nothing is being said about the enterprise customers, and they are not happy. Many companies are still trying to get everything back to normal. “We are now going on day three of fixing YOUR issue,” wrote someone identified only as Amanda in a comment Friday. “Four people working much overtime, sending out disks to our satellite employees, and just plain dealing with junk that we shouldn’t have to. I am personally three days behind on my work, and every time I get an angry phone call, I want to patch it through to your office.”

I’m still not convinced that the number of people impacted is as small as McAfee wants us to think. If you read through the blog comments alone, there are hundreds of thousands of machines that have been affected on the enterprise level. It’s doubtful that Amanda is the only person still trying to deal with this unfortunate incident. Extending a subscription is not going to cut it for these businesses. Many are reporting lost income in addition to the money spent trying to fix the problems caused by the faulty update.

One user who called themselves only “Millie” on the blog stated that “The vast majority of affected users were back up and running smoothly within hours” – you’re kidding, right?? Or maybe your definition of ‘vast majority’ and ‘within hours’ differs from mine.” This comment sums up what much of the response has been so far.

McAfee is not handling this situation well at all. They are downplaying the entire issue, and not bothering to offer much insight for their enterprise customers. It’s difficult at best to find information as to what happened, and further comments are not forthcoming. Problems can happen to anyone, and have done so with nearly every other A/V company at some point.

The problem here isn’t that an “oopsie” happened. The problem is the fact that McAfee isn’t handling things very well from a customer service standpoint after the fact.

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.

Why Do You Want an iPad?

Everywhere you look today, the Internet is abuzz with news of the iPad. I’ve been attempting to do some work for hours now, yet I keep being interrupted by well-meaning people who all are demanding to know if I’m going to get one for myself or not. Yes – I am! Kat, however, is not. She adamantly states she doesn’t want one, and is tired of hearing about them already. I say she isn’t American, but that’s an argument for another day.

The funny thing is that several people in our chat room are “dying” to have an iPad for their very own. When someone asks them “Well, WHY do you want it so much?”, many of them don’t even have an answer to that. Another example… Kat’s sister told her earlier that she “has to have” an iPad. When Kat asked her why, the answer was a simple “it’s new, it’s hot and it looks great!”. Her sister didn’t even know what things are included (and what is NOT included) on the device. She just knew she “had” to have one.

This happens every time an anticipated device is released. Everyone has to have one. Remember the lines for the iPhone? What I don’t understand is why so many people claim to need a device, simply because it is new. Is it really that necessary to have what everyone else has? Doesn’t it matter whether or not a particular gadget will serve your needs properly? Have we truly lost sight of what is important when it comes to buying electronics and computer equipment?

What have you read today that is NOT related to the iPad? There have actually been a lot of things posted in our community, dealing with all sorts of subjects that aren’t even remotely related to Apple or their announcement. Hopefully you’ve taken the time to check some of it out!

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