The cobbler’s children have no shoes…

How many of you have heard the phrase used in the title?  Essentially, it refers to a professional being so busy with work that their own family lacks the very services they provide to others.

I had occasion to reflect on this statement as I worked on my wife’s laptop this weekend.  Yes, I am ashamed to admit that my own wife’s computer was infected with malware!  You would think a computer security professional’s computers would be safe, right?

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Think before you click!

People are probably going to get tired of reading this, but it is one of the most important lessons you can learn to protect yourself online.  Whenever you receive an e-mail with a link or visit a new website, think carefully before clicking!  So many of the viruses and other malware being spread today only succeed because the cyber-crimimals are able to persuade users to click on a link that launches the attack.

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Trojan alert: “Your credit balance is over its limit”

An e-mail purporting to be from Verizon Wireless is hitting mailboxes around the globe. The e-mail warns the reader that their Verizon Wireless account is over the limit.  The message has a ZIP file attached named “”.  This contains an executable file that the reader is asked to run in order to check their account balance.  In reality, the file installs a Trojan known as Regrun.  Trojans are usually designed to allow remote users to take control of the infected systems.

The district spam filter is correctly identifying these e-mails and preventing them from reaching district e-mail boxes.  If you receive messages such as these in your personal e-mail, immediately delete them.

Could someone be storing CP on your computer?

An article from the Associated Press provides yet another reason to keep your anti-virus software up to date, and to turn your computer off when not in use:

Of all the sinister things that Internet viruses do, this might be the worst: They can make you an unsuspecting collector of child pornography.

“Heinous pictures and videos can be deposited on computers by viruses — the malicious programs better known for swiping your credit card numbers. In this twist, it’s your reputation that’s stolen.

Pedophiles can exploit virus-infected PCs to remotely store and view their stash without fear they’ll get caught. Pranksters or someone trying to frame you can tap viruses to make it appear that you surf illegal Web sites.

Whatever the motivation, you get child porn on your computer — and might not realize it until police knock at your door.”


Is “always on” always best?

We’ve come a long way from the days of the dial-up modem as a way of accessing the Internet.  Nowadays, most users with home Internet access have a high-speed broadband connection like DSL or a cable modem.  These connections allow us to surf the web quickly, providing access to fast downloads, streaming media and many other great features.

One feature of a broadband connection is that it is “always on”.  That is, rather than requiring you to connect to your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and log in each time you want to access the Internet, your connection is always available.  All you have to do is sit down at your computer and start surfing.  This is a great time-saver, but it can open you up to the possibility of having your system attacked and your personal information stolen or having your computer become part of a “botnet”, to be used for any number of illicit or nefarious schemes.

So how can you protect yourself in these situations?  What are some best practices? Here are a few suggestions: Continue reading

Facebook users target of botnet herders

Users of Facebook are being targeted by controllers of a botnet by the name of Pushdo. A “botnet” is a collection of computers connected to the Internet that have had malicious software (called “bots”) installed without the owner’s knowledge. This software allows the botnet “herder” to take control of the computer and issue commands for any number of purposes. These computers with the bots installed (often called “zombies”) may be used as part of denial of service attack, they may be used to steal personal and financial data, or used to crack the encryption on a secures system.

This particular attack takes the form of an e-mail to the Facebook user telling them that their password has been reset. The user is asked to open an attached file which supposedly contains the new Facebook password, but which actually downloads the malicious software. The Pushdo botnet then turns the zombie into a spam server, sending e-mail messages to users around the world. It is believed that this botnet may be responsible for the spam/phishing campaign with e-mails purportedly coming from the FDIC (see previous post).

To minimize the risk of your home computer becoming part of a botnet, you should always keep your anti-virus up to date; utilize any anti-spam features available though your e-mail provider; never click on links or download any software that you did not request; and turn your home computer off or disconnect it from the network when not in use.

For more information, please see:,289142,sid14_gci1372558,00.html.

Fake Outlook update installs malware

While scanning my blocked spam report over the past few days, I noticed a lot of e-mails with with the subject of “Update for Microsoft Outlook / Outlook Express (KB910721)”. This message purports to be for an official Microsoft update, but in reality, it installs a nasty Trojan which allows a remote user to access and steal sensitive data and provides an intruder with remote access to the compromised system.

A good safety practice for your home system is to always download security updates directly from the software vendor (in this case, Microsoft), and never from a 3rd party website.

All Microsoft security updates are reviewed and tested before they are installed on the district computers. You should never try to install an update on a district system. If you need anything installed on your work computer, contact the Help Desk for assistance.