Protecting your children on the Internet

Posted by admin on Feb 20, 2009

The Wellington Advertiser has published several articles about protecting your children on the Internet.  Click on the links below to read the articles.

Police offer some tips to protect children using Internt…

Crime Stoppers puts internet warnings on web…

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How To Avoid Viruses

Posted by admin on Feb 13, 2009

Taken from Maximum PC, January 2009 Edition

Captain Obvious says that the best way to prevent infection is to avoid viruses in the first place, but what he doesn’t tell you is how to do it.  And even though hackers continue to get more cunning in both delivery and execution, you can tip the odds considerably in your favor by practicing safe and sane computing.

If you receive an unknown or unexpected attachment, don’t open it no matter who it came from.  Not only are some viruses capable of emailing themselves to everyone they find in an infected user’s address book, but inexperienced computer users are just as guilty of passing along payloads as hackers are of distributing them.

Bit Torrent sites and peer-to-peer networking clients are also common modes of spreading infection.  When attempting to download a legitimate program – a Linux distribution, for instance – use the link provided at the vendor’s website.  Pirated software is a particularly popular source of malware, so if your moral compass doesn’t steer you toward the straight and narrow, the risk of infection should.

And finally, get in the habit of regularly checking for software updates.  New exploits are always being discovered in Windows, Quicktime, web browsers, and other common programs.

Malware Terminology 101

Posted by admin on Feb 13, 2009

Taked from Maximum PC, January 2009 Edition

A computer virus is a piece of software or code capable of reproducing itself and spreading to others systems, but the term is often used to describe a multitude of threats.  The effects of malware can range from mildly annoying to completely debilitating, sometimes costing corporations thousands of dollars in downtime and manpower to heal the outbreak.  Let’s have a look at the different types of infections.

TROJAN HORSE – Named after the mythological wooden horse used to sneak Odysseus and other Gree heroes into Troy, a Torjan horse will masquerade as a legitimate program but will unleash a harmful payload once installed.

WORM – Computer worms are self-replicating programs that burrow into systems, seeking out vulnerabilities to exploit.  The ability to spread without any user action makes them particularly dangerous.

SPYWARE – Ever fell like you’re being watched?  If your PC is infected with spyware, you just might be.  Even worse, spyware not only monitors your activities but can also hijack your system with redirected web searches and other annoyances.

POLYMORPHIC – To avoid detection, polymorphic malware constantly changes its own code, often using encryption with a variable key.  This stealthy technique poses a problem for typical scanners.

Microsoft to Offer Free Antivirus App

Posted by admin on Feb 12, 2009

Taken from Maximum PC, Feburary 2009 Edition

Having achieved only modest market share with its subscription-based OneCare PC security plan, Microsoft is switching gears and offering consumers a free antivirus app beginning mid-2009.  Code-named Morro, the app will focus strictly on malware protection versus OneCare’s combo of AV, system maintenance, and data backup; it will be available for XP, Vista, and the upcoming Windows 7 OS.

Microsoft says its motivation is to get antivirus protection on more PCs.  But the company has no plans to bundle the app with Windows.  Rather, it will be available for download, which should help the company avoid any antitrust flak.

Are AV heavyweights McAfee and Symantec worried that Microsoft’s free app will lure their paying customers?  Representatives from both companies say no.  As Symantec’s Senior VP of Consumer Business Rowan Trollope put it, “We view this announcement as a capitulation by Microsoft and a reinforcement of the notion that it’s simply not in Microsoft’s DNA to provide high-quality, frequently updated security protection… Making a significantly scaled-back version of that same substandard security technology free won’t change that equation.”  Ouch!

Are Your Secrets Safe Here?

Posted by admin on Feb 10, 2009

Taken from Report on Small Business, November 2008 Edition
Written by Craig Silverman

Every business – no matter how small – is vulnerable to security breaches.  A survey by security software provider McAfee earlier this year found that more than 30% of small- and medium-sized companies in North America have suffered a cyber attack.  Yet 40% of IT professionals in those companies still don’t believe their online systems are at risk.

“Small businesses often have a relaxed culture because they consist of a small group of people who all know each other,” says Nasrin Rezai, director of global information security at Cisco Systems.  “That means the company didn’t start with a culture of protecting information.”  The key is to recognize that educating employees is as important to shoring up a company’s defences as buying technology.

“There is always a human element to security, and if you don’t address this and couple it with a technical solution, you’ll never have a reasonable security model,” says Malcolm Harkins, general manager of information security at Intel Canada.

As a starting point, consider the humble office cubicle, which is home to an array of security shortcomings that the average employee never thinks about.

1) Many employees like to keep a list of their colleagues’ phone numbers taped to a cubicle wall.  Problems arise, however, when workers receive printed versions of the company’s entire directory, complete with titles, home and cell numbers and e-mail addresses.  This company road map can be useful to thieves, who can cite insiders’ names to gain access to the office and its systems.  Restrict hard-copy directories to a listing of names and extension numbers.

2) Passwords can be too complex.  Instead of committing them to memory, employees write them on Post-it notes and stick them on monitors.  When this happens, says Intel’s Malcolm Harkins, “security controls are driving behaviours that make the risk higher.”  Passwords should be at least 10 characters long, and include both numbers and letters.  Change your password every couple of months.

3) USB keys are a convenient way to carry documents and share them with colleagues.  Unfortunately, these storage devices are easily lost and stolen.  Banning their use in the office is one option, says Harkins,”but then people simply print out hard copies or burn files to a CD”.  Instead, insist that staffers refrain from storing sensitive data on USBs or CDs unless it is encrypted.

4) Smartphones store reams of proprietary corporate and personal information. They also frequently sit unprotected on desks and in other public areas.  Use the phone’s password feature to prevent anyone from accessing your e-mail or other data.  Demand that staff notify IT the second a phone is lost or stolen.

5) So much for the paperless office: Employees often leave confidential information lying on desktops and in printer trays.  For thieves and unscrupulous competitors, such finds are as good as gold. 

Take a moment a look around your operation, and see what potential security risks you have… and prevent it.