Trojan Horse….Greek Myth or Computer Nemesis?

Trojan Horse….Greek Myth or Computer Nemesis?

We have all heard the term Trojan Horse, but what exactly is it? A Trojan Horse is a destructive program that masquerades as a harmless application. 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 introduces viruses into your computer.

The Trojan can be 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, even more frightening, 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. You proceed to take them up on their offer and download the software. In doing so, you have just potentially exposed yourself to a massive headache and your computer to a laundry list of ailments.

When a Trojan is activated, numerous things can happen. 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. The more serious Trojans can erase or overwrite data on your computer, corrupt files, spread other malware such as viruses, spy on the user of a computer and secretly report data like browsing habits to other people, log keystrokes to steal information such as passwords and credit card numbers, phish for bank account details (which can be used for criminal activities), and even install a backdoor into your computer system so that they can come and go as they please.

To increase your odds of not encountering a Trojan, follow these guidelines.

1. Remain diligent
Trojans can infect your computer through rogue websites, instant messaging, and emails with attachments. Do not download anything into your computer unless you are 100 percent sure of its sender or source.
2. Ensure that your operating system is always up-to-date. If you are running a Microsoft Windows operating system, this is essential.
3. 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.
4. 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 guarantee the security of your computer 100 percent. However, you can continue to improve your computer’s security and decrease the possibility of infection by consistently following these guidelines.

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Surfing the Web Anonymously – Questions to Ask

Surfing the Web Anonymously – Questions to Ask

When you surf the web it is possible to learn information about you even when you don’t want to advertise who you are. This is true even if your system contains no virus or malware software. Specifically information that is easily available online includes your IP address, your country (and often more location information based on IP address), what computer system you are on, what browser you use, your browser history, and other information. It gets worse. People can get your computer’s name and even find out your name if your machine supports programs like finger or identd. Also, cookies can track your habits as you move from machine to machine.

How do people get this basic information about you?

When you visit another web site, information about you can be retrieved. Basically, information is intercepted and used by others to track your Internet activities.

How do you stop this from happening?

First of all, it is possible to serf the web anonymously and thereby stop leaving a trail for others to find. Note that this is not fool-proof, but it makes it much harder for people to know who you are. There are products called anonymous proxy servers that help protect you. The anonymous proxy server replaces your Internet address for its own. This has the effect of hiding your IP address and making it much harder for people to track you.

How do I get an anonymous proxy server?

There are many vendors who sell anonymous proxy servers. There are also free proxy servers available to you. Two such products are ShadowSurf and Guardster. Guardster (http://www.guardster.com/) offers various services for anonymous and secure access to the web, some paid as well as a free service. ShadowSurf (http://www.shadowsurf.com/) ShadowSurf provides anonymous surfing at their site for free. Go to it and you will find a box to enter a URL that you want no one to track. There are many others, but here are two that are frequently used.

Another interesting product, given the recent news about the Google search engine filtering its findings for the Chinese government, is Anonymizer (http://www.anonymizer.com). This company, among others, recently (Feb 1st, 2006) pressed that it “is developing a new anti-censorship solution that will enable Chinese citizens to safely access the entire Internet filter-free” (http://www.anonymizer.com/consumer/media/press_releases/02012006.html).

Does an anonymous proxy server make you 100% safe?

No. Still, you are much better off if you use such technology.

What other things should I be concerned about when trying to keep my private information private?

Three other items come to mind when trying to keep your information private. First, you can use an encrypted connection to hide your surfing. This article does not go into detail on this, but search the web and you will find a lot of information on this. Secondly, delete cookies after each session. Third, you can configure your browser to remove JavaScript, Java, and active content. This actually leads to limitations, so you need to think about the cost/benefit of this course of action.

Anything else?

Wishing you happy and safe surfing!

Who are the Players in the Antivirus Industry?

Who are the Players in the Antivirus Industry?

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 in the United States. Microsoft, as well, has plans become a key player in this market. Microsoft acquired intellectual property and technology from GeCad software in 2003, a company based in Bucharest, Romania. They also acquired 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 Microsoft with come to own a dominant position in the antivirus market by simply bundling its technologies with its operating systems at no charge. This is a similar 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. There are many companies with great market presence in other countries that are beginning to become more widely known. These vendors include GriSoft out of the Czech Republic, Sophos in the united Kingdom, Panda Software out of Spain, Kaspersky in Russia, SoftWin in Romania, F-Secure in Finland, Norman in Norway, Arcabit in Poland, VirusBuster out of Hungary, and AhnLab in South Korea.

It is not clear where the industry is heading and everyone in 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. Many companies may find themselves without the resources to match the efforts of those truly bent on creating havoc. Some virus companies are getting of hundreds of new samples a day! Moreover, the 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.

Surfing the Web Anonymously – Questions to Ask

Surfing the Web Anonymously – Questions to Ask

When you surf the web it is possible to learn information about you even when you don’t want to advertise who you are. This is true even if your system contains no virus or malware software. Specifically information that is easily available online includes your IP address, your country (and often more location information based on IP address), what computer system you are on, what browser you use, your browser history, and other information. It gets worse. People can get your computer’s name and even find out your name if your machine supports programs like finger or identd. Also, cookies can track your habits as you move from machine to machine.

How do people get this basic information about you?

When you visit another web site, information about you can be retrieved. Basically, information is intercepted and used by others to track your Internet activities.

How do you stop this from happening?

First of all, it is possible to serf the web anonymously and thereby stop leaving a trail for others to find. Note that this is not fool-proof, but it makes it much harder for people to know who you are. There are products called anonymous proxy servers that help protect you. The anonymous proxy server replaces your Internet address for its own. This has the effect of hiding your IP address and making it much harder for people to track you.

How do I get an anonymous proxy server?

There are many vendors who sell anonymous proxy servers. There are also free proxy servers available to you. Two such products are ShadowSurf and Guardster. Guardster (http://www.guardster.com/) offers various services for anonymous and secure access to the web, some paid as well as a free service. ShadowSurf (http://www.shadowsurf.com/) ShadowSurf provides anonymous surfing at their site for free. Go to it and you will find a box to enter a URL that you want no one to track. There are many others, but here are two that are frequently used.

Another interesting product, given the recent news about the Google search engine filtering its findings for the Chinese government, is Anonymizer (http://www.anonymizer.com). This company, among others, recently (Feb 1st, 2006) pressed that it “is developing a new anti-censorship solution that will enable Chinese citizens to safely access the entire Internet filter-free” (http://www.anonymizer.com/consumer/media/press_releases/02012006.html).

Does an anonymous proxy server make you 100% safe?

No. Still, you are much better off if you use such technology.

What other things should I be concerned about when trying to keep my private information private?

Three other items come to mind when trying to keep your information private. First, you can use an encrypted connection to hide your surfing. This article does not go into detail on this, but search the web and you will find a lot of information on this. Secondly, delete cookies after each session. Third, you can configure your browser to remove JavaScript, Java, and active content. This actually leads to limitations, so you need to think about the cost/benefit of this course of action.

Anything else?

Wishing you happy and safe surfing!