Saturday, November 17, 2007

Another Obvious SCAM email.

*Note - this is a plain and simple 'copy & paste' of the email I received. Meant to show you exactly what the format looks like - NOT - for you to respond to this Scammer's offer...

It's from a 'generic' address - alexnnnnnk @ This person probably sends out the same email using the addresses alexnnk @, alexnnnk @, alexnnnnk @, possibly even alexxxnk @ The number of 'n' or 'x' characters present in the email is probably how this scammer keeps track of his scam mails and may use any variations of name that windows will allow because it's a FREE service...Mr Alex Cole - likely not a real name - probably has this letter attached to at least 10 windowslive addresses just for spamming people.

Here's the email:

From Mr. Alex Cole.
553 East Trent Blvd., North London
London, UK.

Hello Dear Friend,

Good day to you, I greet you in the name of our lord Jesus Christ, My name is Mr. Alex Cole, I'm artist by profession, I'm a British Citizen and I base in London United Kingdom UK, I'm married with 3kids. I got your email address on the British Chamber of Commerce and I decided to contact you.

Actually I'm looking for a representative in UNITED STATES OF AMERIC USA,I'm searching for a reliable person in AMERICA to be my partner, I need someone who can be receiving payment on my behalf as my representative in AMERICA, I always find it very difficult to receive money/payment from my customers in AMERICA, because my customers are companies, and companies always like to pay with their company checks, and here in London United Kingdom UK, These Companies checks are not accepted here in London and they cannot be cashed here, So I'm finding it very difficult to collect my money/payments from my customers, so therefore I'm searching for a honest person who can be receiving funds/payment in AMERICA on my behalf.

This offer won't effect your present work, it has nothing to do with your present work, and you will be earning $2000.00 every Friday of the week,because I have many customers in AMERICA, At least you will earn $2000.00 per week as your salary, and for your information. You won't involve your money in this job, not even a dime, you won't spend any money from your pocket in this offer, and all the expenses will be from me. You don't have anything to loose.

If you are interested, all I need from you are the information's below
to enable us start immediately,

the information's are:

1. Your Complete Full Names.
2: Your House Address.
3: Your House Phone.
4: Your Age.
5: Your Profession.

If you would prefer I could get a p.o. box for my mail. Let me know! As soon as I receive the above details from you, I will have all my customers to send payments to you as my AMERICAN REPRESENTATIVE, you will be receiving cash on my behalf, Remember that you won't involve any of your money in this offer, I will take care of all the expenses ok, so you don't have anything to worry.Kindly email me immediately you receive this mail, I will be waiting for your soonest reply, Thanks for understanding and have a nice day.

Mr Alex Cole.


And you have a nice day, too, Mr. Alex Cole...likely people will start reporting Mr. Alex Cole from alexnnnnnk @ as a scammer and spammer, so Mr. Alex Cole will show up with this same email under a hotmail address, a yahoo ID or something else. Mr. Alex Cole will just make a new email account at more free services and keep emailing this garbage...

Friday, November 9, 2007

bid4prizes .com - Check This Out!

Bid 4 Prizes .com

Reverse, low-bid auction site.
Win the prize that has lowest bid/number at Bid 4 Prizes .com

This site is easy to navigate and has already paid out $342 186 in prizes to date!

Play arcade games for cash prizes, bid on prizes and check for discounts on top gear, games and miscellaneous items.

Recent winners have won such things as:

* Watches
* Hollister Co. Gift Card ($500 value!)
* Banana Republic Gift Card ($750 value!)

Bid on items like:

* Sony notepad (laptop)
* Holiday cash!
* Sony portable reader

Premium members can access bidding and play via mobile phone!

Play Bid 4 Prizes .com Arcade games, Arcade Matcher, Arcade Whacker, and Arcade Snake to win cash.

The Bid 4 Prizes .com Store has items such as:

* Backpacks, Shoulder Bags, Purses and Tote Bags
* Watches and Pendants
* Handheld games, Clocks and Keychains
* Cameras
* Poker sets and Dartboards
* Radios
* Tools
* Jackets

Check out the site:

Bid 4 Prizes .com

Get in on the prizes and deals!

Holiday Gifts by Boca Java

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

How To Contact Me Outside of Blogger

Some people visit my site who are NOT blogger members, so I hear about this through some other sites I have membership with. I don't have time to go re-visit each other site that I have membership with, so I often get 'old' messages, and this is a problem.

It's a problem for you - it's a problem for me, because I do try to communicate with people everyday.

I have a website I'm working on - to be up and functional later this week (Sept 15 is the date I set for myself), but until that is up and running properly, contact me through YUWIE!

I have my business group/club there, so I am logging in daily to check on that and if you find me there, I won't miss your message!

Even once my site is up, it would be a good idea for you to find me through YUWIE because YOU GET PAID as a member there! Yuwie pays for member interaction, posting on notice boards, blogging, and other things. Even once my site it up, I'll be at Yuwie a lot.

Anyhow - I'll be back on the 15th to post the new site address!

If there's someting in particular that you would like to see on this blog - or a product you'd like me to test out and review - contact me through Yuwie and we can discuss the idea!

Have a Great Day!!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

New Marketing Might Cause Security Nightmares

Are you caught up with they hype about the new Gaming-combined-Social Site marketing that is spreading like wild-fire?

I am - I'm IN ON IT for sure!

uVme is preparing to explode all over the Internet to combine Gaming with Social Marketing and I can't help but think that this combination can't go wrong. People are already fully engaged in these activities, showing no signs of stopping. uVme has just organized a way for people to actually PROFIT at the same time as they're having a great deal of FUN online.

Now, although I'm hyped up about this and have gained membership, myself, already with uVme, I think that engaging in these combined activities is also going to be somewhat of a security nightmare!


Well - we will see people logged in, constantly exchanging information online while they're gaming as well as chatting and using social marketing sites. People will log in for extended periods of time to sites geared for information exchange. These will be people logged in to sites for a long time while they're DISTRACTED COMPLETELY due to attention focused on games! How annoying will it be for your security software, if it flashes some minor warnings about cookies and certificates while you're busy trying to RULE THE WORLD or Shoot bad guys or do SPEED TRIVIA or other such games, which will require full gamer attention? How attractive will it seem to just lower your security settings 'just a little bit' so that you don't have any annoying alerts and such? Hmmm

Obviously, people are already doing this, however, these online behaviors will just increase. Sites such as uVme will spring up in greater numbers - sites geared for exchanges. Believe me, uVme seems like the ONLY revolutionary new Gaming-combined - Social Site at the moment and people are really REALLY fired-up and excited about uVme, but others will catch on very quickly to how uVme works. Other sites will spring forth and utilize methods of Social Sites and Gaming combined, too, and MILLIONS of people will be engaged in gaming/social activity soon.

Though I'm totally excited about this, I am stepping up my computer security already and changing my surfing and scanning habits. I hope that everyone else will, too.

I scan my system for viruses and malware immediately upon power-up now, and I also scan before I shut down. I know that many malware items and viruses can hide, then circulate at re-boot, so I scan every single day now during both operations.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Surf Anonymously Online

Surfing the Web Anonymously

It is possible for others to learn information about you online while you are surfing. This can happen even if you think your activities online are low-key and you haven't advertised who you are online. Even if your system is not full of virus or malware software, there are some details that others can gain about you once you point yourself and your computer online.

Easily accessible information that others can pick up when you're online:

* Your IP address
* Your Country (and sometimes more focused details about your location, county/province, and city)
* What computer system you're using
* Which browser you're using to access the web
* Some of your browser history

People may be able to find out your computer's 'Name,' too and then figure out what kind of software and other programs your computer will be compatible with (in case they are trying to send something malicious and want to make sure it will install on your system).

"Cookies" can track your movement throughout websites and even if you change users on your computer, some people can become aware of you 'switching' users.

There are some products kicking around that allow you to move around your computer and the Internet 'Anonymously.' These aren't foolproof, but they make it hard for others to track your activities online.

Some sites sell anonymous proxy servers and there are some free services online, too. These also aren't 100% effective, but they can usually allow an average person to surf general sites safely - without the worry of having real personal information and location stats blatantly showing to internet users elsewhere.

I am testing out 2 free services, but will post these at a later date, once I have had more time to evaluate their effectiveness and ease of use.

I just thought I would put the word out - because a lot of people do not know that there are free or reasonably priced programs that allow users to surf and keep their real, personal information away from those who might exploit these details.

I'll let you know in about a week, how well these programs work.

Feed Shark

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Work Together, People - To Combat Identity Theft

Working together: People and Identity Theft Laws

You might sometimes feel pity when you encounter stories about identity theft victims. If you were in the same situation, you would know how it feels to be in a victim's shoes. This is why identity theft laws have been made and enacted. Identity Theft Laws attempt to quell and stop this ongoing threat to people, companies, organizations of all sorts, and the whole country for that matter.

Awareness about Identity Theft among consumers has reached somewhat of a peak in recent years, due primarily to the media coverage that ID Theft has been getting as of late. Consumers are becoming more wary when disclosing personal information and are checking up to see that it isn't given out without their consent, especially on the Internet.

Outcries by the public have resulted in legislative attention brought to the issue, both on the federal level and in individual US states.

The Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act (18 USC 1028) was signed in 1998. This law made identity theft a federal felony. That is, when someone deliberately uses the identification of another person with the purpose of committing any unlawful activity, this infraction falls under federal and state law.

For those who violate this law, they will be placed under close investigation by federal agencies such as the U.S. Secret Service, the Social Security Administration, the FBI, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Such crimes are prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice.

This law also allows for reimbursement for victims. It established an identity theft clearinghouse within the Federal Trade Commission.

In the following years, 40 states have criminalized identity theft. Most of them have also made it a felony.

In 2000, Senate Bill 2328 was signed by Senators Feinstein, Kyl, and Grassley. This bill is called the "Identity Theft Prevention Act of 2000." This law emphasizes more on the prevention that should be taken to combat ID Theft crimes.

The latest addition to these laws is the Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act (ITPEA) signed by President George Bush.

What are the provisions of this identity theft law?

Theft determined to be of the IDENTITY THEFT type (a felony) is given a mandatory two-year prison sentence.

If the identity theft is directly related to any terrorist activity, the penalty is an additional five-year prison sentence.

This law also orders the U.S. Sentencing Commission to strengthen the penalties to be given if the act of theft is found to have been committed during the course of employment.

Lastly, it gives the judges the authority to give out soft punishments like probation and community for the offenders.

A lot of people are more than happy that this crime has been criminalized by the laws, finally. But one must note that, in order to put a hold on identity theft, drastic changes have to made in the credit industry.

Also important - these laws should continue to address what identity theft victims have gone through. There should be a way for consumers to know when certain individuals have a wrongful criminal record.

Some of the bills already passed include a provision for making it possible for individuals to acquire information on questionable individuals - from information compiled by proper information brokers, employment background check services, or individual reference services.

If wrongful information is reported in any background check for employment or other purposes, it is vital that the persons involved in these investigations know the precise information that has been made available, including the source from which the information came.

For those persons who have wrongful criminal records, they must be able to clear their records through an expedited process involving the law enforcement agency that made the arrest, the Court System where the warrant was issued, and other avenues that affect the individual and his/her reputation wrongfully. Presently, no such procedure is available.

Identity theft laws should not be the only and single answer to this ongoing problem. It is also vital that credit card companies, reporting and statistics industries, and any related industries should make an effort to assist consumers in stopping fraud altogether. These industries should also help victims recover from identity theft.

No matter how many identity theft laws are created and passed, this crime will still continue if additional efforts to alleviate this crime are not added. It is important that both the general public, as well as the government, work together in order to stop identity thieves in their tracks.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Winning Notification SCAM

I'm posting a recent 'notification' that I received in my email (late July). I have disregarded the email and chalked it up to another SCAM:

Please don't respond to links - I'm just posting to show you what many SCAM emails look like.

Here it is:

VIRGINIA LOTTERY Ref: VG/lo/3681Batch: 08125

Dear Lucky Winner,

We the board and management of Virginia lottery Sweepstakes wishes to inform you of the E-mail address ballot lottery international program hold on day 28th July 2007. It's yet to be claimed and you are getting the final Notification as regards. Your email address as indicated was drawn and attached to ticket number 08-17 20-23-50-17 with serial numbers VG/01-08-10-23-34 and drew the lucky numbers 8-17-20-23-50 (17) which subsequently won you (One Million USD) as one of the 10 Mega winners in this draw. You have therefore won the entire winning sum of $1,000,000.00 The draws registered as hold in London United Kingdom on the 28th of July 2007. These Draws are commemorative and as such special.

Please be informed by this winning notification,to file your claims,you are to make contact with your claim agent who shall by duty guide you through the process to facilitate the release of your prize to file for your claim
Please Contact your fiduciary agent with this details below
( 1 ) Name in full:
( 2 ) Address:
( 3 ) Country:
( 4 ) State/ Provence:
( 5 ) Sex:
( 6 ) Age:
( 7 ) Maritual Status:
( 8 ) Next Of Kin:
( 9 ) Occupation:
( 10 ) Phone/Fax:
( 11 ) Current E-mail:
Executive DirectorVIRGINIA LOTTERY
Contact your fiduciary agent: Governor Tim KaineEmail:
Phone: +447024096041
You are advised to contact your fiduciary agent with your details to avoid unnecessary delays and complications.

Best Wishes,Executive Director, Ms. Hill Christian.

The sender address from this SCAMmail was

Sorry - but I don't think that a legitimate Virginia Lottery organization would be using a hotmail account if they were informing me that I just won 1 MILLION DOLLARS!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Off Topic - The Simpsons Movie Contest

The Simpsons Movie Contest is well under way!
Information About THE SIMPSONS MOVIE Contest
(link will open in new window)

I know this is off-topic to the nature of this blog, but how could I resist directing you to where you can Enter THE SIMPSONS MOVIE Contest that Fox and Opera (yes, Opera browser) are doing for Simpsons Fans all over?

The contest runs until the 27th day of this month, so hurry up and check out the details. You could win some official The Simpsons Movie merchandise for yourself.

Enter the contest!
Information About THE SIMPSONS MOVIE Contest
(link will open in new window)

Good luck to everyone who enters the contest!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Nasty, Nasty Keyloggers

The Continual Advancement of the Keylogger

A keylogger is a program that runs in your computer’s background. It will record all your keystrokes, only you don't know it's there. It secretly grabs your keystroke information. When you keystrokes are logged, they are saved and hidden away for the attacker to retrieve later - whenever it's convenient for the keylogger attacker to do so!

The keylogger attacker will then review very carefully, your information in the hopes of finding passwords to important and valuable sites - perhaps your payment processor or online bank! A keylogger/criminal can quite easily gain confidential emails. This person can then reveal them to others - any interested outside party who is willing to pay for this particular information.

Keyloggers can be either software or hardware based. Keyloggers that are Software-based are easy to distribute and they quickly infect user computers before they can be stopped by some systems. I don't really have to tell you that avoiding these nuisance keylogger infections is part of the reason why you should never NEVER run your system without anti-virus and anti-malware software.

While software-based keyloggers really move quickly and are often hidden in other downloads, they are still more easily detectible than the other type of keylogger. Hardware-based keyloggers are quite a bit more complex and harder to detect than the software-based Keyloggers.

For all that you know, your keyboard could have a keylogger chip attached and anything being typed is recorded into a flash memory sitting inside your keyboard. Keyloggers have become one of the most powerful applications used for gathering information today. In our high-tech world, where encrypted traffic is becoming more and more common, keyloggers of both types abound with great regularity and circulation.

As keyloggers become more advanced, it becomes harder to catch them. The ability to detect every-changing and ever-improving keylogging methods becomes more difficult all the time. Keyloggers can violate a computer user’s privacy for months - even years, believe it or not - without being noticed in the least! During that time frame, a keylogger can collect all kinds of information about the user it is monitoring. The potential for a keylogger to obtain not only passwords and login names - but credit card numbers, too - is very high.

Also open to Advanced and efficient keyloggers are:

* bank account details,
* personal contacts,
* business contacts
* an outline of interests (saved from 'Profile' forms)
* web browsing habits
and much, much more.

This collected data can be used to literally steal user’s personal documents, money, or even their identity. A keylogger might be as simple as an .exe and a .dll that is placed in a computer and activated upon boot up via an entry in the registry.

More sophisticated keyloggers, such as the Perfect Keylogger or ProBot Activity Monitor have developed a full line of nasty abilities including:

* Undetectable in the process list and invisible in operation
* A kernel keylogger driver that captures keystrokes even when the user is logged off
* A remote deployment wizard The ability to create text snapshots of active applications
* The ability to capture http post data (including log-ins/passwords)
* The ability to timestamp record workstation usage HTML and text log file export Automatic e-mail log file delivery

All keyloggers are not used for illegal purposes. A variety of other uses have surfaced for the keylogger programs that are around.

Here are some positive uses for Keyloggers:

* They have been used to monitor web sites visited as a means of parental control over children. * They have been actively used to prevent child pornography and avoid children coming in contact with dangerous elements on the web.

* December, 2001, a federal court ruled that the FBI did not need a special wiretap order to place a keystroke logging device on a suspect’s computer. The judge allowed the FBI to keep details of its key logging device secret (citing national security concerns). The defendant in the case, Nicodemo Scarfo Jr., indicted for gambling and loan-sharking, used encryption to protect a file on his computer. The FBI used the keystroke logging device to capture Scarfo’s password and gain access to the needed file.

Thus, now you've gained some details on keyloggers. The only way to keep safe from both types of keyloggers is to USE GOOD ANTI-VIRUS and ANTI-MALWARE programs and practice other obvious good internet navigation habits. Don't let your guard down for a minute. Even if you have great security-ware, you can still get a keylogger if you're careless.

Scan your computer often with the best antivirus and anti-malware products you can get. Update your software, check your security software homepages often just to check on virus alerts and things that you might not have received a notification about.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Online Information Sources - What Do You Believe?

With the number of online 'user-shared information portals,' Social Sites, Article directories and the like, it's hard to know when you're getting legitimate information.

I'm working on a list of 'legitimate' sites to post here in the near future and am learning about 'validity-checking' myself, in general areas on the internet.

As a student, I already know what higher-education institutions require as legitimate information checking online (that is, if I use an online source, I know the guidelines as to what is considered legitimate information or not). I am slightly less knowledgeable about pure business legitimacy, so I have some work to do yet before I post reliable information about 'online business' sources.

One tip I can give for ANY kind of information you're going to use online involves how to use Wikipedia.

Wikipedia is NOT a definitive, authority site, by any means. It is a 'collective' contribution by internet users all around the world who choose to add information to the Wikipedia site.

Many information pages at Wikipedia are without citations and proof of legitimacy. Very truly, SOME of the information found at Wikipedia is OPINION. Some of it is misinterpreted data, mis-informed reports about topics that, although someone tried to research, may not have been researched thoroughly enough.

I use Wikipedia very often, however, I choose to go to the Wikipedia site, using the information therein as a 'guideline' and a starting point - mostly for topics that I know absolutely nothing about. I enter the Wikipedia site with the intent to gain basic information and ultimately, follow the 'citation' links right back OUT of the Wikipedia site. If the citation links lead to an 'edu,' 'org,' 'gov' or other such site, then Wikipedia has served it's purpose for me. It is at the 'out-linked' sites that I can find better (perhaps original) information, but I may have been completely unaware of how to find 'original' information before I started reading articles over at Wikipedia.

This is not to imply that NONE of the information at Wikipedia is 'correct' or 'legitimate' or that all information there is unreliable. On the contrary. There are a TON of great, proper, well-researched and well-cited entries over at the Wikipedia site. It's just that I take particular care in checking the links that are within the articles I'm reading at the site. If almost all of the links are just internal, leading mainly back into the Wikipedia system (for definitions, related information, etc), then I don't consider this situation to be of legitimate value to me, though I will follow links and keep information in mind that I find internally at the site. I don't consider my information search to be completed at this point, however, I have usually gained some good general information by this point. Nothing I would use in a University paper, but information that allows me to be a little more familiar with the topic I started searching on - so that I can conduct a more intense search elsewhere.

I see forums posts and even pay-for-article material (Articles that you have to pay for) that use only Wikipedia as their source of authority - and this concerns me very much.

I have a friend who is a budding internet marketer. He uses Wikipedia in his promotions. He is listed as an Internet marketer and wrote his own article about himself, set up 'tagging' and keywords so that people will go to Wikipedia and see his name there - along with Historical figures, celebrities, etc. The average internet user considers Wikipedia as somewhat of an online encyclopedia, so using Wikipedia for marketing is actually a really awesome and effective tactic for marketers to use. It makes a marketer seem 'famous' and 'important' if they are in some kind of an 'encyclopedia' system! But the truth is - you can probably gain an account at Wikipedia and write an article yourself - about yourself - without too many problems. Or - you could submit an article to a fellow-member of Wikipedia and ask for editing help and if they do some research - some fact-checking on you, your information can still end up in Wikipedia, even if you're 'a slouch' at writing articles.

In short, any 'business information' topics that I research at Wikipedia MUST LEAD TO Better Business Bureau information and show a 'scam-list' clean status for me to believe that the business I am checking out has legitimacy. Otherwise, some relatively unknown 'newbie' could have written his or her own article, claiming that their business has skyrocketed in activity, is a leading, #1 business - and I wouldn't know the difference from the entries that tell me that "Coca-Cola" is a hugely successful company! (Well - there would be a LOT more links in an Coca-Cola article that would lead to other legitimate business reports, so the information on 'Coca-Cola' would not be as highly questioned).

Anyhow, I hope this helps you think carefully about the information sources you use online.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Want To Find Out How Much Your Efforts Are Worth?

Hey - are you blogging away with no idea about how much your blog could be worth?

Here's a link so you can check - tentatively - on what your blog might be worth if someone were to want to put an advertisement on your blog.

How Much Is Your Blog Worth?

This is just a little tool from Dan Carlson's "Business Opportunities Weblog" page.

Now, remember - this little tool doesn't promise that you SHOULD BE or that you WILL make that much money from your blog right away....only YOU can do that, according to whatever types of marketing you're doing from your blog, your different types of content and topic matter. But this is a cool little tool to show you what kind of potential your blog really has!

How Much Is Your Blog Worth?

Friday, June 1, 2007

Rules For The Internet Highway

Over 65 BILLION dollars was recorded as spent by online consumers in 2004.

It just gets easier and easier to shop, bank, invest, and otherwise feed money through internet resources.

The chances of coming into contact with Internet Fraud are extremely high and these odds raise significantly every day.

Around $2579 was recorded as 'average loss' to fraud from online activities, according to The Internet Fraud Center Watch - just for the first half of 2005! That's HALF A YEAR - 6 months only! The total average loss for 2004 (the entire YEAR) was only $895.

General merchandise purchases complaints accounted for around 30% of Internet Fraud complaints. These would have been goods never received or misrepresented products or goods. The percentage of fraud through misrepresented or never-received goods via AUCTIONS, however, was much higher, at 44%!

Though a great number of e-commerce websites are, indeed, reputable and legitimate, and have taken great and necessary safety precautions in order to protect consumers, it surely never hurts to always proceed cautiously when dealing with ANY websites.

If you must conduct online business and make purchases through or over the internet, here are some tips:

* Avoid using an ATM or debit card.
* Use only one credit card, preferably with a low credit limit, when making online purchases.
* Be wary of unsolicited offers by sellers.

Consider this: The Internet National Fraud Information Center Watch reported that email, as a method of contact by Internet scammers was up 22% in 2004. While offers by email may be perfectly legitimate, spammers like to use email tactics to side-step reputable sites that provide consumer protection for online purchases.

* Read the website’s privacy policy. Some websites may reserve the right to sell/give your information to a third party. You may inadvertently give permission to a website who will sell your information to a third party - you allow this by clicking the 'continue' or 'agree' or 'submit' button, quite often.
* Check the document you're involved with to see if the website allows an opportunity to "opt-out" of receiving special offers from third-party vendors or for permission to share your personal information.
* Check for a lock symbol in the status bar at the bottom of your Web browser window. Also - DO NOT provide your personal information if the website address doesn’t start with "https." The "https" is an indicator that lets you know that the site is using a secure server.
* Choose only verified sellers. DOUBLECHECK - to see if the vendor is a verified member of a reputable third party such as Better Business Bureau, VeriSign, or Guardian eCommerce. Third-party sites help to ensure online consumers will be protected when shopping or conducting e-commerce transactions.
* Check for a reasonable delivery date posted prior to completing your purchase. If you have never dealt with a certain vendor before on a regular basis, be wary of any Website that states the shipment will be delayed 20 or more days.
* TWENTY DAYS IS A VERY LONG TIME in the scope of internet business shipping. Delivery dates of 7-10 days are more REASONABLE and way more common.
* Keep a paper trail of all online transactions. This means BE DILIGENT. Print out a hard copy of the transaction and keep it in a file for future reference.
* Be wary of website offers that just sound too good to be true. Get Rich Quick Schemes abound with The Internet as a perfect vehicle for fraudulent activity. False advertising is commonplace online. Investigate all claims thoroughly before proceeding.
* Use only reputable e-commerce websites that list a street address and telephone number in case you need to contact them directly.
* If you do not receive what you paid for, and the vendor will not return your emails or calls, contact your state’s Department of Consumer Affairs for further assistance.

And Finally...

* DO NOT BE EMBARRASSED if you think YOU DID fall for a scheme, fraudulent claim or a 'too good to be true story' - REPORT IT REPORT IT REPORT IT!

Many scammers GET AWAY WITH what they do because people are too embarrassed to admit that they were trying to get a good deal, that they might not have double-checked every detail of a transaction - that they were simply outwitted by an internet scammer. People don't want to have to say 'It Happened To Me,' but

IT CAN HAPPEN TO YOU - Internet scams can affect nearly anyone.


You may help the next person from getting scammed, too!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Off Topic - Perfect Spot For Alerts

This post has NOTHING TO DO WITH PC Security.

That's why it is a perfect topic for this blog.

In 1996, a little girl, Amber Hagerman was outdoors riding her bike. Amber was from Arlington Texas, USA. Someone snatched her from her play in 1996, kidnapping her - and later, brutally murdered Amber.

In 1996, there was no Code Amber Alert system in effect in the USA. People saw Amber with an adult but didn't know that the person was her kidnapper - or that later on, Amber would be killed by this person. Had people known about a recent kidnapping, through a Code Amber Alert system, they would have known to call the law enforcement authorities and Amber might have been located before harm had been done.

I'm placing the Canadian and the American Code Amber Alert System real-time tickers on this blog because I think that everyone should be aware of them - not just people who might be browsing the internet about topics like 'child safety,' 'child kidnappings,' and 'preventing child abductions.'

Perhaps you'll be browsing the Net about home business information and home business start up info, PC Security and Antivirus programs - and will see an Alert in progress that pertains to your geographical area. Maybe you'll read a description from the ticker-message that tells what a kidnapper looks like. Maybe you'll run to the store to grab munchies before you settle in to install new PC Security software, knowing that once you start the job, you'd better not leave your house. Perhaps, while you're at the store you'll see the kidnapper and remember the description from the ticker-message you saw just a few minutes before you left your house.

Then - you can place a call to your local law enforcement people and maybe by that you will help a child!

Stranger - much stranger things have happened!

Anyhow - I am placing the tickers in the regular column on the left, so please, check them out once in a while.

*Note - if the message in the background is a Yellow/Amber colour, that means that an ALERT - a CODE AMBER ALERT - is currently in progress! That means that someone just kidnapped/abducted a child recently and that child has not yet been recovered. Please pay attention to an Amber Alert like this - at least long enough to find out if the Kidnapping/Abduction took place in your region.

If you see the tickers in a non-functioning state, please contact me so that I can find out why the tickers are down. Occasionally the Code Amber Organization site will be doing maintenance but I'd hate to have the tickers go down for any other reason than Code Amber doing updating.

Thanks in advance!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

What Parents Should Know

Parental Peace of Mind

The invention of the Internet has made a few specific parenting jobs that much more complex. Though we want our children to experience the vast wealth of knowledge available on the Internet and communicate with their friends online (frees up the telephone), we also worry about their safety. Unfortunately, the World Wide Web can expose our children to inappropriate and harmful material, obscene pop-up ads, and even sexual predators.

Research indicates that 1 in 5 children aged 10 to 17 have received a sexual solicitation over the Internet. This is not what parents want to hear, but it is something that parents need to face head-on!

We need to take steps to ensure that when our children access the web, they can do so safely. Internet filters are crucial to protect your children.

One tool that can assist us in this goal is Internet Parental Control software. One of the top names in parental control software is ContentWatch, and if the Big Mouse himself recommends this product, then it has to be good.

If Disney feels good enough to install three of the ContentWatch products in their Disney Dream Desk PC, it has to be worthy. After all, they are willing to stake their reputation on it. rated ContentProtect 2.0 the #1 Internet filtering software. It is easy to install, configure, and customize. If you do have any problems, ContentWatch provides unlimited toll-free technical support.

ContentProtect can block pornography, hate sites, questionable chat rooms, and other known dangers of the Internet. You can even configure ContentProtect to block online game and gambling sites, and make it so your children can only install and play computer games with parental ratings that you deem appropriate. Other features include: Integration with Safe Search features in popular search engines Reports of your children's internet activity Logs of your child's chat room and instant messages Reports if your child tries to remove or disable protection Filters bad content on Peer-to-Peer networks and other areas Password protected access for parents Customizable restrictions for each family member. Automatic software updates at no additional cost.

ContentWatch provides a two-week, no-obligation free trial of the full version. The product costs $39.99 per seat (installs on only one computer).

This is a one time purchase price which will give you unlimited use of the service. You never have to renew a subscription or pay any additional membership fees for use of the program. It seems like a reasonable price for a little parental peace of mind.

Is your computer safe for your kids to play on?

Fast Growing Crime - ID Theft

Name, Rank, and Social Security Number Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in the U.S.

The U.S. Secret Service has estimated that consumers nationwide lose $745 million to identity theft each year. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, the average victim spends 607 hours and averages $1,000 just to clear their credit records.

Theives who steal Identiies use a number of different methods to retrieve your personal information without you knowing. They may be able to gain your information from businesses or other institutions by stealing it. They may bribe an employee who has access to records. They may get information by hacking into records. Maybe they will end up just plain conning the information out of employees. Once identity thieves have your personal information, they may easily use it to commit an act of fraud or theft using your name.

How can you tell if you have become a victim of identity theft?

Some signs include unexplained charges or withdrawals from your financial accounts

Bills or other mail stop arriving because the thief might have submitted a change of address

Perhaps a credit application is denied you for no apparent reason

Debt collectors may begin calling you about merchandise or services you didn’t buy.

Your computer can be a goldmine to anyone who is in the practice of stealing identities. Your computer contains a wealth of personal information for an identity thief to play with.

To protect yourself and your computer against identity theft consider:

Updating virus protection software frequently.

Consider setting your virus protection software to update automatically.

The Windows XP operating system also can be set to check for patches automatically.

Windows XP will also download the patches to your computer automatically.

Do not opening files sent to you by strangers

Do not click on hyperlinks

Do not download programs from people or companies you don’t know.

Use a firewall program, particularly if you are on high speed Internet connections

High Speed cable or DSL leaves your computer attached to the internet 24h a day.

Make sure you firewall against intruders if your machine will be conneted 24h/day

Only provide personal or financial information through secured websites.

While not fool proof, a lock icon on the browser’s status bar or a URL for a website that begins "https:" (the "s" stands for secure), may provide additional security.

Stop storing financial information on your laptop, unless this is absolutely necessary.

Delete all the personal information stored on a computer before disposing of it.

Use a "wipe" utility program to overwrite the entire hard drive.

Check with an anti-fraud education organization such as CardCops (

Card Cops runs a web site designed to help consumers determine whether their credit card numbers may have been stolen or not. They monitor Internet "chat rooms" where identity thieves gather. Here, the thieves illicitly trade and sell stolen credit card numbers. CardCops turns pertinent information over to law enforcement authorities. The authorities will also allow consumers to access a database to see whether individual card numbers may have been stolen.
In the first two months of operation, the site identified more than 100,000 stolen credit cards.

As with any crime, you can not completely control whether you will become a victim, but you can take steps to minimize your risk by remaining diligent and by minimizing outside access to your personal information.

Phishing Not As Great As Fishing

If you've never received a 'phishing' email (and that's NOT an invitation to go 'fishing,' either!), then you're one of the lucky few!

If you have received email from a 'phisher' - asking you to visit a familiar website to verify or update personal information, then you NEED TO STOP - before you even respond or get thinking about your accounts, money, or anything else. DO NOT CLICK on ANYTHING within the email!

A phishing attempt/email might ask you to

* verify information at a common site you may use such as paypal, e-Gold, eBay, etc.

*upgrade for some special DEAL at any common site - an autosurf, traffic exchange, money exchange service, almost ANY KIND OF SITE!

*update your info

*update or provide your banking information

*update or provide your credit card number, social security or social insurance numbers, etc.

Often, you'll think that you recognize the business name mentioned in the email - and you'll think that everything must be okay - since the email mentions a company that you're familiar with.....


Don't clik on the 'take me there' link and - especially do NOT provide the information that the email asks you to give!

The link will only lead to a bogus website or other web location (blog, chatsite, forum, etc) that APPEARS TO BE the site you think it is, as described in the email. This site was created by someone whose sole purpose is to steal your personal information! The site may even look JUST LIKE the original...but be assured that it is NOT the site you think it is no matter how professional the site may look - no matter that is looks just like the one you've been led to think it is.

Phishing (pronounced as "fishing") is defined as the act of sending an email that falsely claims to the recipient that you are acting on behalf or that you own an established business. The "Phisher's" intent is to scam the recipient into surrendering their private information, thus, ultimately stealing the recipient's identity.

It is not alwayss as easy as you might think to spot an email send by a phisher who is phishing for information. At first glance, the email may look like it is from a legitimate company.

The "From" field of the e-mail may have the .com address of the company mentioned in the e-mail.

The clickable link even appears to take you to the company's website, when in fact, it is a fake website built to replicate the legitimate site.

Many phishers are professional criminals. They have spent a lot of time in creating emails that look authentic.

Users need to review all emails requesting personal information carefully.

When reviewing your email remember that the "From Field" can be easily changed by the sender.

While it may look like it is coming from a .com you do business with, looks can be deceiving.

Also - keep in mind that the phisher will go all out in trying to make their email look as legitimate as possible. They will even copy logos or images from the official site to use in their emails.

Finally, they like to include a clickable link that the recipient can follow to conveniently update their information.

How to check the legitimacy of a link:

Hover your mouse over the link - without actually clicking

Look to the bottom left-hand of your computer screen.

The website address to which you are about to be taken will show up in a small viewing area.

Finally, follow these three important rules:

* Never, ever, click the links within the text of the e-mail.
* Always delete such an e-mail immediately.
* Once you have deleted the e-mail, empty the trash box in your e-mail accounts as well.

If you are truly concerned that you are missing an important notice regarding one of your accounts, then type the full URL address of the website into your browser. Then find out through your safe members area if there was, indeed, some kind of request sent out - for you to update your details.

Beware of Intelligent Explorer Plug-Ins

Just what is Intelligent Explorer? For your safety, you really need to know!

Know your browser! READ anything that looks like upgrade or update options that might pop up at unusual times or in unusual manners - especially if you have been randomly surfing online.

Most security suites - provide 'scheduling' options for when they'll look for, download and install updates. KNOW WHEN these times are set - and if an upgrade or update occurs beyond the time that you have set in your 'scheduling' - BE SUSPICIOUS and don't just click to update, install, upgrade, or any other thing that a pop-up might ask.

A program called 'Intelligent Explorer' is a suspicious program as such! It is a NIGHTMARE! And it usually gets INTO your system by tricking you with a pop up window that asks you to upgrade, update or add further protection to your computer or browsers.

It will load and install a product called Intelligent Explorer on your computer. Afterward you'll have an extra 'toolbar' connected to your browsers.

According to some 'security tip' forums I visit,

BullGuard, CWShredder and Ad-Aware (normally considered very top-end, excellent protection programs) won't help you to easily remove "Intelligent Explorer" once you're infected. They can 'detect' but not solve your problem - as this malicious-ware re-writes itself and moves itself around!

Spy-bot software also seems to be of no help in removing this menace!

The malware toolbar makes your system allow OTHER and MORE DOWNLOADS that you DO NOT WANT on your computer.

The Intelligent Explorer plug-in is JUST PLAIN NASTY!!!

This plug-in is a PRIME EXAMPLE of why you should be diligent about reading TOS agreements before you load ANYTHING onto your machine.
In this program's terms, you grant the right for other things to be downloaded onto your computer - once you have initially 'clicked okay'!

Here's a small portion of their TOS:

"You grant to us the right, exercisable by us until you uninstall the Software or this agreement is otherwise terminated, to provide to you the Service of downloading and causing to be displayed advertising material on your computer, through ‘pop-up’ or other display while you use your browser. You acknowledge and agree that installation of the Software may automatically modify toolbars and other settings of your browser. By installing the Software you agree to such modifications."

(go to to read it in its entirety)

The company, IBC incorporated, is incorporated in Belize. This is an example of a really DRASTIC license! One end user found highly objectionable pop-up advertisements generated by this software bundled with Intelligent Explorer. In short, the ads were of the 'extreme pornography' variety!

Intelligent Explorer is a plug-in, which can create a new home page, as well as start up and endless loop of pop-ups. You can remove the view bar, but then starting up Internet Explorer will only cause it to reappear again (it re-writes itself so that it never really 'leaves' - just the first copy goes away when you 'uninstall' by regular methods).

One forum writer/poster who installed this toolbar said,

"I asked some friends to help, and no one could tell me what to do. This is what I did: I bought a copy of a program called XoftSpy and it removed the software. It took two scans and a reboot to do it. This is not an advertisement for this product. They advertised it was free, which it was to run, but then I had to buy it to actually fix anything. It cost me $40 and I am sure that there are freeware products out there as well, but that is what ended the nightmare for me."

So - at a $40 cost, including a huge headache, the above user was finally able to get rid of the problem.

Other spyware products I have seen out there include spybot, NoAdware, Spyware Eliminator, Pal Spyware Remover, and Spyware C.O.P. Let the buyer beware!

These programs often provide the function they claim - but also install other bundled items all during one nice and neat installation.........that YOU INITIATE by clicking 'I Agree' or 'Yes' too quickly. The other items are what will cause you nightmares.

Again - Read all TOS agreements - many spyware applications can be bundled into or attached to ANY SOFTWARE PRODUCT.....and again -


Who Fights AntiViruses?

These are 'The Good Guys' in the Anti-virus battle:

Everyone in the United States has heard of the leading antivirus vendors Symantec, Mcafee, Computer Associates, and Trend Micro.

These companies have market-leading presence, particularly in the United States. Microsoft is also becoming a key player in this market.

Microsoft acquired intellectual property and technology from GeCad software in 2003. The GeCad company's home-base is in Bucharest, Romania.

Microsoft also Pelican Software, which had a behavior based security as well as Giant Company Software for spyware and Sybari Software, which manages virus, spam, and phishing filtering.

A lot of discussion has centered on whether or not Microsoft has come into its own as a dominant factor in the antivirus market - by way of simply bundling its security technologies along with operating systems - at no charge.

This 'bundling' technique applied in other markets - such as word processing and Internet browsers.

Of course there are a number of antivirus vendors who also play in this market.

Becoming well known and establishing a firm market presence are companies like:

GriSoft - out of the Czech Republic

Sophos - in the United Kingdom

Panda Software - from Spain

Kaspersky - in Russia

SoftWin - in Romania

F-Secure - in Finland

Norman - in Norway

Arcabit - in Poland

VirusBuster - out of Hungary


AhnLab in South Korea.

It is not clear exactly where the industry is heading, but it is not doubted that everyone within this market faces a rapidly changing landscape. The amount of effort to find and provide fixes for viruses is staggering. Malicious programs are getting more complex and the number of them is increasing at an alarming rate. Many companies quickly find themselves without the resources to match efforts of those truly bent on creating havoc.

Some virus companies are getting of hundreds of new samples a day! Moreover, new viruses are getting "smarter" in that they propagate themselves quickly and they often hide themselves and are smart enough to move around in a system by renaming themselves in an effort to make it hard to remove them.

Not Just a Greek Myth - The Trojan Horse

We have all heard the term "Trojan Horse," but what exactly is it - aside from Greek Myth?

A Trojan Horse is a destructive program that masquerades as a harmless application (Just like Odysseus' harmless 'gift' horse that was accepted into the city of Troy). Unlike viruses, Trojan Horses do not replicate themselves, but they can be just as destructive.

One of the most dangerous examples of a Trojan is a program that promises to rid your computer of viruses - but instead - (the gift) introduces viruses into your computer (the army bursting OUT of the horse in the middle of the night to attack Troy/your computer) .

The Trojan can be engineered as extremely tricky.

Who hasn’t been online and had an advertisement pop up claiming to be able to rid your computer of some nasty virus?

Or - more frightening still - you receive an email that claims to be alerting you to a new virus that can threaten your computer! The sender promises to quickly eradicate, or protect, your computer from viruses if you simply download their "free", attached software into your computer. You may be skeptical but the software looks legitimate and the company sounds reputable.....

So how to you proceed?
...many people proceed by taking the advertisers up on their offer - just in case - and they download the software!

In doing so, a user has just potentially exposed his/herself to a gargantuan headache and a computer system to a sundry list of ailments!

When a Trojan is activated, several things can occur:

Some Trojans are more annoying than malicious.
Some of the less annoying Trojans may choose to change your desktop settings or add silly desktop icons.
More serious, malicious Trojans can erase or overwrite data on your computer, corrupt files, spread other malware (such as viruses), spy on the user of a computer.
Trojan spyware can secretly report data to their makers - like browsing habits, passwords, credit car numbers, bank account details, etc.
Trojans may insert keyloggers to keep track of a user's keystrokes and gain 'the usual information' - passwords and credit card numbers, phish for bank account details (which can be used for criminal activities).
Trojan programs can even install a "backdoor" into your computer system so that the Trojan-maker/expert can come and go into and out of your computer at will and at his or her convenience!


Haha - okay - just joking. There's absolutely no fear to be had with any kind of people EXCEPT those who are designing and distributing Trojan software programs.

Here are some recommended guidelines for avoiding Trojan horse viruses

follow these guidelines. Remain diligent Trojans can infect your computer
#1 - Remain diligent in your use of ANTI-spyware and ANTI-virus softwares that are trusted. If you're using some antivirus programs already that have worked in the past - UPDATE those before you go looking around for the next greatest, latest softward - especially downloadable programs! (Remember - these are often the 'gift' of a virus).

Trojans can infect your computer through rogue websites, instant messaging, and emails that contain attachments.

Do not download anything into your computer unless you are 100 percent sure of its sender or source.

Ensure that your operating system is always up-to-date. If you are running a Microsoft Windows operating system, this is essential.

Install reliable anti-virus software. It is also important that you download any updates frequently to catch all new Trojan Horses, viruses, and worms.

Be sure that the anti-virus program that you choose can also scan e-mails and files downloaded through the internet.

Consider installing a firewall. A firewall is a system that prevents unauthorized use and access to your computer.

A firewall is not going to eliminate your computer virus problems, but when used in conjunction with regular operating system updates and reliable anti-virus software, it can provide additional security and protection for your computer.

Nothing can absolutely guarantee the security of your computer 100 percent, however YOU SHOULD ALWAYS BE THINKING OF HOW TO MAKE IT MORE DIFFICULT FOR A VIRUS TO ENTER YOUR SYSTEM!

You can continue to improve your computer's security and decrease the possibility of infection by consistently following these guidelines, as a minimum measure to protecting yourself and your computer.

Last tip:

If you have previously 'not been interested' or 'haven't had the time' to learn more about PC Security, I recommend that you do whatever it takes to overcome your disinterest and the time-management issues that keep you from learning more about how to keep your computer (and your personal information) safe from malware-distributors, hackers, ID Theives and the like!

Review of Zone Alarm - and Malware info

Malware. A word to strike fear into the heart of internet users. If it doesn't frighten you yet, IT SHOULD!

Malware is a strange but efficient word used to categorize all malicious software programs. The category of 'malware' includes - viruses, worms, trojans, spyware, adware, and other malevolent codes.

Computer Economics released a report on malware in 2005. In this report, the good news was that for the first time since 2002, the total worldwide financial losses from malware actually declined to a mere $14.2 billion.

The bad news was that the nature of malware was changing from overt threats to more focused, covert attacks.

This is no great news for the average computer user just trying to keep up with the hundreds of malware programs that bombard us daily.

Keeping malware out of your computer system is no easy task. To do so, you need an effective antivirus program.

One such program is the ZoneAlarm Internet Security Suite 6 from Zone Labs. Zone Labs is one of the most trusted companies in the Internet Security field for a good reason.

Their product kicks serious malware butt!

ZoneAlarm has received high review recommendations - higher than most other Internet-security software suites because of its superb firewall and antivirus protection. It blocks pop-up ads, protects against identify theft and provides adequate spam filters that are flexible.

It even beats the market leader, Norton Internet Security, which is often criticized for excessive system drag.

The newest Zone Labs Zone Alarm version includes these additional features:

* Triple Defense Firewall to prevent spyware from sending your information across the Internet. It also makes your computer invisible to anyone on the Net.
* Smart Defense Advisor which can automatically adjust your security settings for maximum protection against the latest virus and spyware outbreaks.
* Advanced Identify and Privacy Protection to prevent your personal data from leaving your computer without your approval.

A bonus for the average user who cringes at the idea of setting-up one of these systems is that the interface is easier to understand and use - as compared to most competitor software.

If you choose to venture beyond the out-of-the-box default settings, and install a more elaborate filtering, know that this will require some additional time to set up on your part.


Zone Labs' "Zone Alarm Internet Security Suite" is user-friendly and provides a comprehensive security solution that will keep your computer safer from Internet hazards and cyber criminals than most security suites do. Your protection will be set up within minutes of installation.

Am I Being Watched?

Do you feel like someone is watching you?

It might be true!

You could have Spy-Ware on your computer and, indeed, someone COULD BE watching your every internet move!

Spyware is one of the fastest-growing, most constant internet threats of today. According to the National Cyber Security Alliance, spyware infects more than 90% of all PCs today. These unobtrusive, malicious programs are designed to engage with your computer, silently bypassing your firewalls and your anti-virus software without the user being aware of their presence.

Once embedded into a user's computer system, a spyware program can cause havoc to the sytem's performance while, at the same time, it gathers your personal information as well as details about your surfing habits.

Fortunately, spyware programs do not usually self-replicate - like viruses and worms do.

Where does spyware come from?

Typically, from three main sources or in three basic ways:

First and most common:

The user installs it unknowingly themselves! Spyware is embedded, attached, or bundled with a freeware or shareware program without the user’s knowledge. The user downloads the program to their computer, then installs what they think is just the program they downloaded. The spyware installs, as well, during the other program installation.

Once installed, the spyware program goes to work collecting data for the spyware author’s personal use or to sell to a third-party.

Beware of many P2P file-sharing programs!!

They are notorious for spreading downloads that posses spyware programs.

The user of a downloadable program should pay extra attention to the accompanying licensing agreement.

Often the software publisher will warn the user that a spyware program will be installed along with the requested program. Unfortunately, we do not always take the time to read the fine print.

Some agreements may provide special "opt-out" boxes that the user can click to stop the spyware from being included in the download. Be sure to review the document before signing off on the download.

Another way that spyware can access your computer is by tricking you into manipulating the security features designed to prevent any unwanted installations.

The Internet Explorer Web browser was designed not to allow websites to start any unwanted downloads. That is why the user has to initiate a download by clicking on a link. These links can prove to be deceptive.

For example:

a pop-up modeled after a standard Windows dialog box, may appear on your screen. The message may ask you if you would like to optimize your internet access. It provides yes or no answer buttons, but - no matter which button you push, a download containing the spyware program will commence.

Newer versions of Internet Explorer are now making this spyware pathway into our computers a more difficult task.

Finally, some spyware applications infect a system by attacking security holes in the user's Web browser or other common software. When the user navigates a webpage controlled by a spyware author, the page contains code designed to attack the browser, and force the installation of the spyware program.

What can spyware programs do?

They can accomplish a great number of malicious tasks. Some of their deeds are simply annoying for the user - but other functions can be downright aggressive in nature.

Spyware can:

* Monitor your keystrokes for reporting purposes.
* Scan files located on your hard drive.
* Snoop through applications on our desktop.
* Install other spyware programs into your computer.
* Read your cookies.
* Steal credit card numbers, passwords, and other personal information.
* Change the default settings on your home page web browser.
* Mutate into a second generation of spyware thus making it more difficult to eradicate.
* Cause your computer to run slower.
* Deliver annoying pop up advertisements.
* Add advertising links to web pages for which the author does not get paid. (Instead, payment is directed to the spyware programmer that changed the original affiliate’s settings).
* Provide the user with no uninstall option and places itself in unexpected or hidden places within your computer making it difficult to remove.

Here are some examples of commonly seen spyware programs. Please note that while researchers will often give names to spyware programs, they may not match the names the spyware-writers use.

CoolWebSearch - a group of programs that install through "holes" found in Internet Explorer. These programs direct traffic to advertisements on Web sites including This spyware nuisance displays pop-up ads, rewrites search engine results, and alters the computer host file to direct the Domain Name System (DNS) to lookup preselected sites.

Internet Optimizer (a/k/a DyFuCa), likes to redirect Internet Explorer error pages to advertisements. When the user follows the broken link or enters an erroneous URL, a page of advertisements pop up.

180 Solutions reports extensive information to advertisers about the Web sites which you visit. It also alters HTTP requests for affiliate advertisements linked from a Web site. Therefore the 180 Solutions Company makes an unearned profit off of the click through advertisements they’ve altered.

HuntBar (a/k/a WinTools) or Adware.Websearch, is distributed by Traffic Syndicate and is installed by ActiveX drive-by downloading at affiliate websites or by advertisements displayed by other spyware programs. It’s a prime example of how spyware can install more spyware.

These programs will add toolbars to Internet Explorer, track a user's browsing behaviors, and display advertisements.

How to prevent spyware?

There are a couple things you can do to prevent spyware from infecting your computer system.

* invest in a reliable commercial anti-spyware program. There are several currently on the market including stand alone software packages such as Lavasoft’s Ad-Aware or Windows Antispyware. Other options provide the anti-spyware software as part of an anti-virus package. This type of option is offered by companies such as Sophos, Symantec, and McAfee. Anti-spyware programs can combat spyware by providing real-time protection, scanning, and removal of any found spyware software.

* you should update your anti virus software frequently. As already mentioned, the Internet Explorer (IE) is often a contributor to the spyware problem because spyware programs like to attach themselves to its functionality. Spyware enjoys penetrating the IE’s weaknesses. Because of this, many users have switched to non-IE browsers. However, if you prefer to stick with Internet Explorer, be sure to update the security patches regularly, and only download programs from reputable sources. This will help reduce your chances of a spyware infiltration. .

And, when all else fails?

Finally, if your computer has been infected with a large number of spyware programs, the only solution you may have is backing up your data, and performing a complete re-install of the operating system.

Not something one wants to think about, for sure, but sometimes it is the only way to get rid of malicious programs.

Secure Your PC - Bare Basics

Securing Your Computer System Today is more than a necessity! As more people use their computers for everything from online chatting - to online banking, investing and shopping, sheer number of electronic data being passed to and fro is staggering.

While online interactions and money-transfering, product and service orders become regular activities, hackers, attachers and crackers are never without people - and computers - to practice their skills on.

While some may be looking to phish your personal information and identity for resale, others simply just want to use your computer (your computer's resources and internet connection) as a platform for attacking other unknowing targets.

Below are a few easy, cost-effective steps you can take to make your computer more secure.

Always make backup copies of important information and store these in a safe placel - that means - separate from your computer!

Update and patch your operating system, web browser and software frequently.

If you have a Windows operating system, start by going to
and run the update wizard.
This program will help you find the latest patches for your Windows computer.

Also, go to
to locate possible patches for your Office programs.

Install a firewall. Without a good firewall, viruses, worms, Trojans, malware and adware can all easily access your computer from the Internet. Consideration should be given to the benefits and differences between hardware and software based firewall programs.

Review your browser and email settings for optimum security.

Why should you do this?

Active-X and JavaScript are often used by hackers to plant malicious programs into your computers. While cookies are relatively harmless in terms of security concerns, they do still track your movements on the Internet to build a profile of you. As a minimum precautions, set your security setting for the "internet zone" to High, and your "trusted sites zone" to Medium Low.

Install antivirus software and set for automatic updates. This way, you'll receive the most current versions.

Do not open unknown email attachments. It is simply not enough that you may recognize the address from which it originates because many viruses can spread from a familiar address.

Do not run programs from unknown origins.

Also, do not send these types of programs to friends and coworkers!!! They contain funny or amusing stories or jokes, but may also contain a Trojans horse waiting to infect a computer.

Disable hidden filename extensions. By default, the Windows operating system is set to "hide file extensions for known file types". Disable this option so that file extensions display in Windows. Some file extensions will, by default, continue to remain hidden, but you are more likely to see any unusual file extensions that do not belong.

Turn off your computer and disconnect from the network when not using the computer. A hacker can not attack your computer when you are disconnected from the network or the computer is off. Consider making a boot disk on a floppy disk in case your computer is damaged or compromised by a malicious program. Obviously, you need to take this step before you experience a hostile breach of your system.

Common Viruses To Watch For

Here are some common viruses that are quite constantly circulating on the internet.

Virus: Trojan.Lodear A Trojan horse that attempts to download remote files. It will inject a .dll file into the EXPLORER.EXE process causing system instability.

Virus: W32(dot)Beagle(dot)CO(at)mm (blogger software kept making a link of the virus name because of the '@' symbol)

A mass-mailing worm that lowers security settings. It can delete security-related registry sub keys and may block access to security-related websites.

Virus: Backdoor.Zagaban
A Trojan horse that allows the compromised computer to be used as a covert proxy and which may degrade network performance.

Virus: W32/Netsky-P A mass-mailing worm which spreads by emailing itself to addresses produced from files on the local drives.

Virus: W32/Mytob-GH A mass-mailing worm and IRC backdoor Trojan for the Windows platform.
Messages sent by this worm will have the subject chosen randomly from a list including titles such as: Notice of account limitation, Email Account Suspension, Security measures, Members Support, Important Notification.

Virus: W32/Mytob-EX
A mass-mailing worm and IRC backdoor Trojan similar in nature to W32-Mytob-GH. W32/Mytob-EX runs continuously in the background, providing a backdoor server which allows a remote intruder to gain access and control over the computer via IRC channels. This virus spreads by sending itself to email attachments harvested from your email addresses.

Virus: W32/Mytob-AS, Mytob-BE, Mytob-C, and Mytob-ER This family of worm variations possesses similar characteristics in terms of what they can do. They are mass-mailing worms with backdoor functionality that can be controlled through the Internet Relay Chat (IRC) network. Additionally, they can spread through email and through various operating system vulnerabilities such as the LSASS (MS04-011).

Virus: Zafi-D A mass mailing worm and a peer-to-peer worm which copies itself to the Windows system folder with the filename Norton Update.exe. It can then create a number of files in the Windows system folder with filenames consisting of 8 random characters and a DLL extension. W32/Zafi-D copies itself to folders with names containing share, upload, or music as ICQ 2005a new!.exe or winamp 5.7 new!.exe. W32/Zafi-D will also display a fake error message box with the caption "CRC: 04F6Bh" and the text "Error in packed file!".

Virus: W32/Netsky-DA mass-mailing worm with IRC backdoor functionality which can also infect computers vulnerable to the LSASS (MS04-011) exploit.

Virus: W32/Zafi-B A peer-to-peer (P2P) and email worm that will copy itself to the Windows system folder as a randomly named EXE file. This worm will test for the presence of an internet connection by attempting to connect to or A bilingual, worm with an attached Hungarian political text message box which translates to "We demand that the government accommodates the homeless, tightens up the penal code and VOTES FOR THE DEATH PENALTY to cut down the increasing crime. Jun. 2004, Pécs (SNAF Team)"

This is a very small, incomplete list. If you have been having some problems with your computer but haven't yet checked out why your computer is running slow, showing error messages and display other virus-related problems, please - run anti-virus software's scan just to make sure you haven't picked up a virus, worm, or other malware!

Also - update your software often! Many anti-virus programs can help you detect and clean your computer - but no program will help you if you're not doing regular scans and updates.