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2/14/2011

Facebook Malware Bait Strains


Facebook is huge with more than 550 million registered users. It is also
fertile ground for malware authors and crackers who want to wreak havoc
on the rich and famous and the every day user.

Public Access

A user may want to take advantage of the many public wi-fi networks available
across the country. It can even be a secure wireless network. As you connect,
the attacker can execute a well known 'man-in-the-middle' session hijacking
attack, intercepting your HTTP traffic and extracting your session cookie.

This is a legacy attack which gained popularity once again last year when
a developer released a Firefox extension making the process extremely easy.

Congressional Lawmakers and staff found out earlier this month how effective
this old attack is as a number of the members from the state of Missouri had
their Facebook accounts hacked. Their System Administrators are probably
educating them on the benefits of using HTTPS instead of HTTP (on Sites that
support it) to protect against session hijacking.

Facebook recently introduced an account security setting that makes
full-session HTTPS persistent over sessions. However, most applications and
the chat feature do not work over such connections because they load external
content. The best solution is to use a secure VPN (Virtual Private Network)
tunnel when connecting through any open wireless network.

Spam

According to PandaLabs researchers, a user receives an unsolicited email (with
a Trojan (Asprox.N) tucked inside) advising them that their Facebook account
is being used to send spam. The trick is that if you follow the directions,
which include clicking on the false document containing your new password,
your PC or mobile device is infected and becomes a vehicle for distributing
spam.

Luis Corrons, technical director for PandaLabs, in a security advisory, said
the email attachment's unusual Word icon is actually a Trojan, identified
as Facebook_details.exe, that then downloads a .doc file to convince victims
the promised Word files is actually opening.
 
"The Trojan, when run, downloads another file designed to open all available
ports, connecting to various mail service providers in an attempt to spam
as many users as possible," he said.

ID Theft

The ID Theft threat, which is being spread across MSN and Yahoo instant
messaging apps, displays a malicious link that, if clicked, infects users'
computers or mobile devices with the Lolbot.Q worm.
 
Once the worm has installed and victims attempt to log in to Facebook, a
message pops up informing users that their account has been suspended and,
in order to reactive their account, they must fill out a questionnaire
offering for a chance to win a new laptop or iPad.

Victims are then prompted to enter their cell phone number from which they're
told they will receive data download credits for a fee. Once they complete what
amounts to a comprehensive phishing database, they're told they'll then
receive a password to resume access to their Facebook accounts.

Phishing Attack
 
In March, another socially engineered phishing attack plagued Facebook users,
warning users that their accounts had been reset. When victims clicked on the
malicious attachment to which they were directed, a phishing agent was
installed and immediately snared all the usernames and passwords -- including
those for online banking accounts-- saved on the computer or mobile device.

Consumers need to get more active about securing their devices and data from
possible exposure on Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites. The
popularity of the social networking medium has increased its use as a venue
to lure potential victims.
 
Malware attacks against Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites
are becoming the new standard. Facebook is the new Microsoft of this medium.
Attacks against Facebook, Twitter and the other social mediums are manufactured
weekly and the end is not in sight. The best thing any user can do is at least
lock down your settings on OpenDNS' most blacklisted and most whitelisted
website.

Panda Security : Logo
6:27 pm est          Comments

2/10/2011

Facebook Privacy Lockdown

 

     1. Go to Facebook.com. Click on the drop-down "account" menu in the top right
          corner. Drag to "privacy settings." Look under choose your privacy settings.

      2. Look under 'Connecting on Facebook', Click "view settings"

      3. For each of the 7 drop-down menus on the right, click and drag to  " friends only."

      4. Click "Back to Privacy" settings,  and scroll down to Click on "Friends Only"

      5. Scroll down and Click on "Customize Settings".

      6. The 9 drop down menus starting with "posts by me" should be set to "Friends Only"

          Click and drag to "Friends Only" for each

      7. Uncheck Include me in "People Here Now" after I check in We're not done yet.

      8. Set "edit album privacy" to "Friends Only".

      9. Under "Photos and videos I'm tagged in" Click edit settings set to "Friends only".

          uncheck "friends can post on my wall".

    10. Click "Back To Privacy" to go back on the Privacy Settings page. There, click
          "Friends, Tags and Connections"

    11. Select "only friends" in all 10 drop-down menus

    12. Click "Back To Privacy" to go back on the Privacy Settings page. There, click
          "Applications and Websites."

    13. On the top line, click "learn more"

    14. Learn it: When you use Facebook in apps on other Websites, you are giving your
          info to those apps and Web sites.

    15. So let's go back to Applications and Websites and make sure that doesn't happen
          when you don't want it to

    16. Click "edit settings" on the second line, next to "What your friends can share about
          you"

    17. Uncheck every box and click "save changes."

    18. Go back to Applications and Websites

    19. Click on the drop-down menu across from "Activity on Applications and Games
          Dashboards." Select "only friends."

    20. On the last line, click "edit settings" for "Instant Personalization Pilot Program"

    21. Uncheck the check-box. Click confirm.

    22. Click "Applications and Websites."

    23. Click "Back to Privacy." We're still not done.

    24. Click "Search" on the second to last line.

    25. Select "only friends" for "Facebook Search Results"

    26. Uncheck "allow" next to "Public Search Results"

    27. Click "confirm." Sorry, Facebook. This is a total lockdown.

    28. Click "Back To Privacy"

    29. It's time to test your lock down. Click "Personal Information and Posts"

    30. Click "Preview My Profile"

    31. Enter various Facebook users' names to see how each will view your profile.
          We're worried about what "Jay Yarow" can see.

    32. Facebook will show you what your friends can see. If all looks good, then
         congratulations…

    33. Your Facebook profile is on a privacy LOCKDOWN!

11:17 pm est          Comments

2/7/2011

Malicious Software

One third of all malware (that has ever existed) was created in 2010. Panda labs revealed that
over 55 percent (the largest threat) still comes from trojans. Fake antivirus software (rogueware)
comes in second at 11.6 percent with spyware surprisingly accounting for less than one percent
of malicious software.

The increase is a direct result of an increase in do-it-yourself malware kits available on the
internet that require little (to no) coding skill for novice crackers. These kits circulating around
the internet have forced home users and businesses to deal with an influx of new data-stealing
scams as attacks increase exponentially.

Malware Tools

Kits with names such as MPack, Neosploit, Nukesploit P4ck and Phoenix that
would have cost as much as $15 a kit in 2006 have seen their popularity soar (along with the
cost) in 2011. The Zeus 2.0 kit is now selling for $8000. Symantec researchers have found that
about 61 percent of all web-based threats are generated by these attack took kits.

The Facebook kit which first surfaced in Aug 2010 (and continues to harass the social networking
site) can be purchased anonymously online and gives the buyer the ability to launch numerous
pre-written attacks against specific individuals, companies or social networking platforms.

The attacks come in a variety of forms. Some are old-fashioned spam email campaigns while
others have evolved to complex black hat search engine optimization (SEO) scams or the
injection of malicious code into legitimate websites and banner advertisements.

Astalavista.com

You can now buy anything on eBay (including malware kits). You probably will not find the kits
there as the Homeland Security entities snatch them up as quickly as they are made available.
But the hackers are not going to search in google, they will probably start with astalavista.com
looking for backtracking CD's (for example). Many a novice will learn immediatly it is hazardous
to your system to search hacker sites with a windows box (do it at your own risk). Symantec's
researchers have found more than 310,000 unique, malicious domains (on average) create more
than 4.4 million malicious web pages each month. The bad guys will crack you and big brother is
watching.

This past September, the FBI, the U.S. Secret Service and the New York Police Department
conducted a joint operation which took down a cybercrime syndicate responsible for distributing
a Zeus botnet kit that managed to steal more than $70 million from U.S. customers' online
banking and securities trading accounts over an 18-month period (they drew attention because
the ripped off the rich).
 
The FBI executed a similar bust in July that netted a Slovenian man known as "Iserdo" who was
allegedly responsible for selling variations of a Butterfly botnet kit for between $650 and $2,000
apiece. Those particular kits were especially good at spreading the extraordinarily destructive
Mariposa botnet.
 
Hacker kits in Demand

Meanwhile, demand for attack toolkits has never been higher largely because the hackers who
originally wrote these programs are moving up criminal food chain, realizing that there's more
money -- and less effort -- in distribution than creating new malware themselves.

Companies, consumers and security experts are still playing a never-ending game of catch-up
and the crooks are often miles ahead (These guys are Good). The speed at which these new kits
are sold -- and new kits are created -- makes it impossible to quantify exactly how many people
become new (paint-by-number) hackers each month. They are even becoming sophisticated
enough to customize new attacks with automation and the ability to avoid detection.
 
Attack kits have made it easy for the malicious novice to launch cyberattacks. The attacker no
longer has to create threats from scratch. As a result, malware activity has increased and the
typical user will be victimized at one time or another. In the mean time, security pro's are
working with law enforcement (in an attempt) to shut down some of the big boys.

Panda Security : LogoSymantec Norton Logo
4:59 am est          Comments

2/5/2011

Vista will not Boot

I had a client bring me a system and tell me he took it to a local Computer Tech who informed
him, "Well, even if BIOS/Setup menu sees the hard drive, it looks like the hard drive is bad
as you when you boot from the Windows / Recovery disk, it does not see the hard drive because
the hard drive is not working...Sorry, you need to replace your drive with a new hard drive to
check". My client did not spend any more money (he paid the $70 diagnostic fee) and brought
the system to me...

The Problem

In the June-July 2010 time frame, Microsoft made a decision to stop support for Windows Vista
(Unless it was patched to SP1 or higher). When this occured, we noted an increase in the
number of systems coming in for repair that were in a constant recycle upon boot. The system
will go to the diagnostic screen but will not boot into safe mode and you can't start recovery
manager. When you bring the system to the startup repair screen, you receive the message,
'startup repair can not repair' (no hard drive). Vista recovery disks and the installation
disks experience the same problem...

MBR Repair

If you are under waranty, some vendors will send you recovery or installation disks...you
typically will not get them when you purchase your system. If you are not under warranty,
they will send them to you for a price ($20 and up for recovery or $68 and up for installation
disks). They will not work to repair this problem anyway.

When the Vista Master Boot Record is wiped out, it prevents a successful boot into the OS.
To remedy this, you are supposed to be able to repair the MBR by booting with a Vista setup
(installation) disk and choosing "Repair your computer" then "Startup Repair."
   
Apparently, when you run Windows update without the required Vista patches, it damages the
boot manager for the OS. When a virus scan is run using VBaRescue (Linux), it reveals several
unknown boot viruses (one in the RTMMBR.bin file). As a result, Vista can not see the hard
drive.

Sight for Sore Eyes

Windows Vista's Aero GUI was certainly a beauty to behold in comparison to previous versions.
It has a polished, Apple-esque appearance that makes XP's default blue and green theme pale
in comparison. That's really all Vista is good for, to put it mildly: a sight for sore eyes. 

Initially many computer vendors began offering downgrades from Vista to XP when buying their
wares (due to all the OS problems). From device incompatibilities to the lofty hardware
requirements needed to run Vista at a decent clip, users were quickly fed up with Microsoft's
shoddy OS.
 

XP Meets SATA
 
If your PC is less than a few years old, your hard drive is probably of the SATA stripe,
which is now the standard. XP hit the scene way before SATA hard drives were even introduced,
so you'll need to to teach XP how to recognize your alien hard drive if you were to attempt
a dual boot back to XP. First, XP would need to be installed first and then Vista and then
you'll need to navigate around your PC's setup program on the BIOS and look for something
like "IDE emulation mode" or something of that nature. If you don't have a SATA drive you
won't need to worry about this.

Many PC users have rejoiced, believing Windows 7 (the improved version of Vista), is superior
to Vista in many respects. Microsoft even considered giving Windows 7 upgrades to Vista
premium users. You dual boot Vista and Windows 7.

Carving Out Two Partitions
 
To dual boot Windows, you'll need to create two partitions on your hard drive, one for Vista
and 7 to reside on. To Windows, a single hard drive containing multiple partitions just looks
like multiple hard drives, representing them as multiple drive letters in Explorer. DiskPart,
included on your Vista install disc, is a program that can repartition hard drives. Carve out
two partitions of at least 20 gigs in size, respectively, allowing enough space for each OS to
live comfortably on. After you've got your partitions in order, format both of them using the
NTFS file system. This is no option when your software can not see a hard drive full of your
precious data.

Saving your Data

You can't go back to XP because many computer vendors have completely made the Vista
switch, so they no longer provide XP drivers for their hardware. You can no longer have your cake
and eat it too with anything less than XP SP3 and Vista SP1.

Dual boot Ubuntu 10.10

Go online and download the Ubuntu iso ( http://www.ubuntu.com/desktop/get-ubuntu/download ).
Burn your CD or create a USB file. Set your boot order for CD or USB respectively as your first
boot device. You can try it out without installing the OS by creating a bootable Live CD or
USB. You will be able to mount the hard drive containing your Vista data and manipulate it
(editing documents, photos, etc). Today you will find you can perform a number of reboots and
surf the net without incident.

With the permission of my clients, I have performed this service and so far, none of them have
expressed a desire to go back to Windows. They have stopped throwing their hard earned cash
into Microsofts coffers with ($200 - 400 bucks a pop) Vista or 7. For a top of the line
Sata or Solid State drive...Linux is the way to go. You can also spend a little more and buy
a MAC with Mac OsX.

All of this while the strange problem with Vista prevents you from seeing the hard disk. All
of this while the Vista Kernel will not load...You will be working. (Knoppix does just as well).

12:41 am est          Comments


Archive Newer | Older

Q. How do I avoid rogue antispyware and antivirus software?

 

A. Make sure you 'Choose Industry Certified "Security Program" Solutions'!

 

If your PC is connected to the internet, uses e-mail, has software of an unknown 

origin installed and comes into contact with recordable media (jump drives, dvd's,

cd's, etc) Antispyware and Antivirus protection is a requirement. They help prevent

attacks through e-mail (and/or attachments sent with e-mail) and surfing the web.

They also help you eradicate infections which are the result of security holes and

bugs in software. (The e-mail, web surfing and software holes and bugs result in

the most serious internet attacks).

 

One way to know you're purchasing a trustworthy application is to confirm that

the program you choose has earned certification from the leading labs.

     

Industry certification from ICSA Labs, Virus Bulletin, West Coast Labs, the National

Association of Specialist Computer Retailers, and others all require antispyware/

antivirus programs to meet stringent requirements to receive certification.

     

 

Norton Student Store

 Smartphone and Tablet

Tips to create a safe passcode.

    

Smartphones and tablets open the door to your Work, friends, family, bank details, etc... No matter which device you use, follow these tips to keep your data secure.

 

1. Always use a passcode.    If someone gets hold of your device, the person has immediate access to your apps and  data.

    

2. Make your passcode difficult to guess.      Codes such as 1234 or 2580 can be cracked in seconds. Go for something that’s unique but easy for you to remember.

     

3. Longer is stronger.       The longer the passcode, the harder it is to crack. Make yours a minimum of six digits. 

     

4. Mix numbers and letters.      If your device allows, use a passcode that combines numbers, letters and punctuation. Avoid dictionary words and choose a memorable combination.

      

5. Make it unique.      Don’t use the same passcode for anything else, including other devices, bank cards or online accounts. That way, if one passcode gets hacked the rest stay secure.

      

6. Be discreet.      Look around and make sure no one is watching you enter your passcode, just as you would protect your PIN at the ATM machine.

      

Q.   What steps need to be taken to secure mobile devices (smartphones) for

       personal/work phones and tablets.  

A.     Follow these steps to secure your mobile devices.
       
         1. Secure your device
            
             a.   Always lock it
             b.   Apply a complex passcode
             c.   Shield your passcode
             d.   Apply the latest patches
   
         2. Prevent Malware Infections
            
             a.   Don't click on unsolicited links
             b.   Think before downloading apps
             c.    Don't "jailbreak" or "root" your mobile
     
         3. Be data aware
            
             a.   Be careful what you share
             b.   Encrypt sensitive data
     
         4. Stay compliant
            
             a.   Know and follow your organizations
                   security policies

                      

Q. Do you have an example of an Organizational 'Mobile Device Security Policy'
        
A. Here is EZMobilePC's policy. 
          

1.       Introduction

Mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablet computers, are important tools for the

organization and their use is supported to achieve business goals. 

However, mobile devices also represent a significant risk to information security and

data security as, if the appropriate security applications and procedures are not applied,

they can be a conduit for unauthorized access to the organization’s data and IT

infrastructure.  This can subsequently lead to data leakage and system infection.

EZMoblePC has a requirement to protect its information assets in order to safeguard

its customers, intellectual property and reputation. This document outlines a set of

practices and requirements for the safe use of mobile devices.

 2.       Scope

1.         All mobile devices, whether owned by EZMoblePC or owned by employees, that have

    

       access to corporate networks, data and systems, not including corporate IT-managed

     

            laptops. This includes smartphones and tablet computers.

2.         Exemptions: Where there is a business need to be exempted from this policy

       (too costly, too complex, adversely impacting other business requirements) a risk

            assessment must be conducted being authorized by security management.

3.       Policy -     Technical Requirements

1.       Devices must use the following Operating Systems: Android 2.2 or later, iOS 4.x or later.

    

2.       Devices must store all user-saved passwords in an encrypted password store.

    

3.       Devices must be configured with a secure password that complies with EZMoblePC's

     

       password policy.  This password must not be the same as any other credentials used

     

       within the organization.

    

4.       With the exception of those devices managed by IT, devices are not allowed to be

    

             connected directly to the internal corporate network.

3.1  User Requirements 
     

1.       Users must only load data essential to their role onto their mobile device(s).

    

2.       Users must report all lost or stolen devices to EZMoblePC IT immediately.

      

3.       If a user suspects that unauthorized access to company data has taken place

      

       via a mobile device, they must report the incident in alignment with EZMoblePC’s

       

       incident handling process.

      

4.       Devices must not be “jailbroken”* or have any software/firmware installed which

       

       is designed to gain access to functionality not intended to be exposed to the user.

      

5.       Users must not load pirated software or illegal content onto their devices.

       

6.       Applications must only be installed from official platform-owner approved sources.

      

       Installation of code from un-trusted sources is forbidden.  If you are unsure if an

      

       application is from an approved source contact EZMoblePC IT.

      

7.       Devices must be kept up to date with manufacturer or network provided patches. 

       

       As a minimum patches should be checked for weekly and applied at least once a month.

       

8.       Devices must not be connected to a PC which does not have up to date and enabled

      

       anti-malware protection and which does not comply with corporate policy.

        

9.       Devices must be encrypted in line with EZMoblePC’s compliance standards.

        

10.   Users may must be cautious about the merging of personal and work email accounts on

        

       their devices.  They must take particular care to ensure that company data is only sent

         

       through the corporate email system. If a user suspects that company data has been sent

        

       from a personal email account, either in body text or as an attachment, they must notify

          

       EZMoblePC IT immediately.

          

11.   (If applicable to your organization) Users must not use corporate workstations to backup

       or synchronize device content such as media files, unless such content is required for

             legitimate business purposes. 

*To jailbreak a mobile device is to remove the limitations imposed by the manufacturer. 

This gives access to the operating system, thereby unlocking all its features and enabling

the installation of unauthorized software.

            

Q. What is the first thing I should do when I turn on my computer.

 

A. Back up important files
     

If you follow these tips, you're more likely to be free of interference from hackers,

     

viruses, and spammers. But no system is completely secure. If you have important

     

files stored on your computer, copy them onto a removable disc or an external

       

hard drive, and store it in a safe place.

    

Steganos Passwort Manager 12 Kaufen

     

 

Q. How do I protect my password?

 

 A. Protect your passwords
     
Keep your passwords in a secure place, and out of plain sight. Don't share them
      
on the Internet, over email, or on the phone. Your Internet Service Provider (ISP)
       
should never ask for your password. In addition, hackers may try to figure out your
       
passwords to gain access to your computer. To make it tougher for them:
 
                               Use passwords that have at least eight characters and include numbers or symbols.
      
                The longer the password, the tougher it is to crack. A 12-character password is
        
                stronger than one with eight characters.
 
               Avoid common word: some hackers use programs that can try every word in the
     
                            dictionary.
 
               Don't use your personal information, your login name, or adjacent keys on the
      
                            keyboard as passwords.
 
               Change your passwords regularly (at a minimum, every 90 days).
      
               Don't use the same password for each online account you access.
                              
                    

Q. What steps need to be taken when setting up Wireless Home Network Security.

      

1) Change Default Administrator Passwords (and Usernames)

       

                     

Changing the default password is important because everyone that purchases the same

  

Wireless access device, knows your password.

 

2) Turn on (Compatible) WPA / WEP Encryption

         

By default, your Wireless device comes without the encryption enables. WPA / WEP are

  

security programs that forced your computer to provide an encrypted password before

  

you are allowed access to the wireless access point.

  

3) Change the Default SSID

       

SSID is the network name of your wireless network; most people leave the default name,

  

such as, Linksys or NetGear. By changing the name, intruders have a more difficult time

    

identifying your system and use known vulnerabilities. (And of course, use the unchanged

  

default password.) One mistake people make is naming their home network their family

  

name and or address. When cruising a neighborhood of wireless devices, its always

  

scary to see Bobsnet444.

  

4) Disable SSID Broadcast

             

In Wi-Fi networking, the access point or router typically broadcasts the network name

  

(SSID) over the air at regular intervals. This feature was designed for businesses and

  

mobile hotspots where Wi-Fi clients may come and go. In the home, this feature is

  

unnecessary, and it increases the likelihood an unwelcome neighbor or hacker will try to

  

log in to your home network.

  

5) Assign Static IP Addresses to Devices

                 

Most home networkers gravitate toward using dynamic IP addresses. This means that

  

the IP Address, (the IP Address is needed to participate on a network.) is typically

    

assigned automatically. A dynamic IP address on an unsecure system can also supply

  

a hacker with a IP Address.

  

6) Enable MAC Address Filtering

            

Each piece of Wi-Fi gear possesses a unique identifier called the "physical address"

  

or "MAC address." Access points and routers keep track of the MAC addresses of all

  

devices that connect to them. Many such products offer the owner an option to key in the

  

MAC addresses of their home equipment that restricts the network to only allow

    

connections from those devices. Do this, but also know that the feature is not so powerful

  

as it may seem. Hacker software programs can fake MAC addresses easily.

  

7) Turn Off the Network During Extended Periods of Non-Use

               

The ultimate in security measures for any wireless network is to shut down, or turn office

  

your wireless access point when you are not using. You are the most vulnerable at work

  

or asleep, and mischief minded people know it.

  

8) Position the Router or Access Point Safely

                

Wi-Fi signals normally reach to the exterior of a home. A small amount of "leakage"

  

outdoors is not a problem, but the further this signal reaches, the easier it is for others

  

to detect and exploit. Wi-Fi signals often reach across streets and through neighboring

  

homes. When installing a wireless home network, the position of the access point or

  

router determines it's reach. Try to position these devices near the center of the home

    

rather than near windows to minimize this leakage.

   

   
Q: What are the first security steps I should take before I connect my computer to the internet?

  
A:    Practices Before You Connect a New Computer to the Internet
 
We advise home users to download and install software patches
   
as soon as possible after connecting a new computer to the
  
Internet. However, since the background intruder scanning activity
   
is constant, it may not be possible for the user to complete the
   
download and installation of software patches before the vulner-
   
abilities they are trying to fix are exploited. We recommend the
   
following actions 'before' connecting computers to the Internet so
      
that users can complete the patching process without incident.

 General Guidance and Operating-System-specific steps.

      

 

test

   
Q. Are there any references you can recommend?
   
 A. References:

A.   Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT)

 

B.   Microsoft Windows

C.   Apple Macintosh OSX

D.   Linux

   

Q. How do I keep my system up to date once I go online.

 

A. Keep your operating system and Web browser Up-to-Date, and learn about
  
their security features.
 
Hackers also take advantage of Web browsers (like Firefox or Internet Explorer)
     
and operating system software (like Windows or Mac's OS) that don't have the
   
latest security updates. Operating system companies issue security patches for
    
flaws that they find in their systems, so it's important to set your operating system
     
and Web browser software to download and install security patches automatically.
    
In addition, you can increase your online security by changing the built-in security
   
and privacy settings in your operating system or browser. Check the "Tools" or
    
"Options" menus to learn how to upgrade from the default settings. Use your "Help"
    
function for more information about your choices.
   
   
If you're not using your computer for an extended period, disconnect it from the
    

Internet. When it's disconnected, the computer doesn't send or receive information

    

from the Internet and isn't vulnerable to hackers.

   

          

  

     

Q. How do I keep my security software up to date.

 

A. Use security software that updates automatically

 

Keep your security software active and current: at a minimum, your computer

 

should have anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and a firewall. You can buy

 

stand-alone programs for each element or a security suite that includes these

 

programs from a variety of sources, including commercial vendors or from your

 

Internet Service Provider. Security software that comes pre-installed on a

 

computer generally works for a short time unless you pay a subscription fee to

 

keep it in effect. In any case, security software protects against the newest threats

 

only if it is up-to-date. That's why it is critical to set your security software to update

 

automatically.Some scam artists distribute malware disguised as anti-spyware

 

software. Resist buying software in response to unexpected pop-up messages or

 

emails, especially ads that claim to have scanned your computer and detected

 

malware. That's a tactic scammers have used to spread malware. OnGuardOnline.gov

 

can connect you to a list of security tools from legitimate security vendors selected by

 

GetNetWise, a project of the Internet Education Foundation.Once you confirm that

 

your security software is up-to-date, run it to scan your computer for viruses and

 

spyware. If the program identifies a file as a problem, delete it.

 

 

Anti-Virus Software  Anti-virus software protects your computer from viruses

 

that can destroy your data, slow your computer's performance, cause a crash, or

 

even allow spammers to send email through your account. It works by scanning

 

your computer and your incoming email for viruses, and then deleting them.

   

Anti-Spyware Software  Installed on your computer without your consent, spyware

 

software monitors or controls your computer use. It may be used to send you pop-up

 

ads, redirect your computer to websites, monitor your Internet surfing, or record your

 

keystrokes, which, in turn, could lead to the theft of your personal information.

 

A computer may be infected with spyware if it:

   

                               Slows down, malfunctions, or displays repeated error messages

 

                               Won't shut down or restart

 

                               Serves up a lot of pop-up ads, or displays them when you're not surfing the web

 

                               Displays web pages or programs you didn't intend to use, or sends emails you didn't write.

 

Firewalls  A firewall helps keep hackers from using your computer to send out

 

your personal information without your permission. While anti-virus software scans

 

incoming email and files, a firewall is like a guard, watching for outside attempts to

 

access your system and blocking communications to and from sources you don't permit.

 

Don't Let Your Computer Become Part of a "BotNet"  Some spammers

 

search the Internet for unprotected computers they can control and use anony-

 

mously to send spam, turning them into a robot network, known as a "botnet." Also

  

known as a "zombie army," a botnet is made up of many thousands of home

 

computers sending emails by the millions. Most spam is sent remotely this way;

 

millions of home computers are part of botnets.Spammers scan the Internet to find

 

computers that aren't protected by security software, and then install bad software –

 

known as "malware" – through those "open doors." That's one reason why up-to-date

 

security software is critical.Malware may be hidden in free software applications. It

 

can be appealing to download free software like games, file-sharing programs,

  

customized toolbars, and the like. But sometimes just visiting a website or down-

  

loading files may cause a "drive-by download," which could turn your computer

  

into a "bot."

   

Another way spammers take over your computer is by sending you an email with

  

attachments, links or images which, if you click on or open them, install hidden

  

software. Be cautious about opening any attachments or downloading files from

  

emails you receive. Don't open an email attachment — even if it looks like it's from

  

a friend or coworker — unless you are expecting it or know what it contains. If you

  

send an email with an attached file, include a text message explaining what it is.

       

 

test

   
Q. What do I do in an emergency?
 
A.   Here is what to do in an e-mergency 
 
If you suspect malware is lurking on your computer, stop shopping, banking, and other online
activities that involve user names, passwords, or other sensitive information. Malware could
be sending your personal information to identity thieves.
 
                         - Confirm that your security software is up-to-date, then use it to
                           scan your computer.
 
                         - Delete everything the program identifies as a problem.
 
                         - You may have to restart your computer for the changes to take effect.
 
                         - If the problem persists after you exhaust your ability to diagnose and treat it, you
                           might want to call for professional help.
 
                         - If your computer is covered by a warranty that offers free tech support, contact
                           the manufacturer.
 
                         - Before you call, write down the model and serial number of your computer, the
                           name of any software you've installed, and a short description of the problem.
 
                         - Your notes will help you give an accurate description to the technician.
 
                         - If you need professional help, if your machine isn't covered by a warranty, or if
                           your security software isn't doing the job properly, you may need to pay for
                           technical support.
 
                         - Many companies — including some affiliated with retail stores — offer tech
                           support via the phone, online, at their store, or in your home.
 
                         - Telephone or online help generally are the least expensive ways to access
                           support services — especially if there's a toll-free helpline — but you may
                           have to do some of the work yourself.
 
                         - Taking your computer to a store usually is less expensive than hiring a technician
                           or repair person to come into your home.
 
                         - Once your computer is back up and running, think about how
                           malware could have been downloaded to your machine, and what
                           you could do to avoid it in the future.
 
                         - Also, talk about safe computing with anyone else who uses the computer.  

GoToMyPC - Access Your Mac® or PC from Anywhere

   
Q. Where do I report Hacking or Malware activity?
 
A. Here is where to report:
 
 
Hacking or a Computer Virus  Alert the appropriate authorities by contacting:  
                             Your ISP and the hacker's ISP (if you can tell what it is). You can
usually find an ISP's email address on its website. Include information on the
incident from your firewall's log file. By alerting the ISP to the problem on its system,
you can help it prevent similar problems in the future. The FBI at www.ic3.gov. To
fight computer criminals, they need to hear from you.
 
Internet Fraud  If a scammer takes advantage of you through an Internet auction,
when you're shopping online, or in any other way, report it to the Federal Trade
Commission, at ftc.gov. The FTC enters Internet, identity theft, and other fraud-related
complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds
of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
 
Deceptive Spam  If you get deceptive spam, including email phishing for your
information, forward it to spam@uce.gov. Be sure to include the full header of the
email, including all routing information. You also may report phishing email to
reportphishing@antiphishing.org. The Anti-Phishing Working Group, a consortium
of ISPs, security vendors, financial institutions and law enforcement agencies,
uses these reports to fight phishing.
 
Divulged Personal Information  If you believe you have mistakenly given your
personal information to a fraudster, file a complaint at ftc.gov, and then visit the
Federal Trade Commission's Identity Theft website at ftc.gov/idtheft to learn how
to minimize your risk of damage from a potential theft of your identity.
 
Parents  Parents sometimes can feel outpaced by their technologically savvy
kids. Technology aside, there are lessons that parents can teach to help kids
stay safer as they socialize online. Most ISPs provide parental controls, or you
can buy separate software. But no software can substitute for parental supervision.
Talk to your kids about safe computing practices, as well as the things they're
seeing and doing online.
 
Social Networking Sites  Many adults, teens, and tweens use social networking
sites to exchange information about themselves, share pictures and videos, and
use blogs and private messaging to communicate with friends, others who share
interests, and sometimes even the world-at-large. Here are some tips for parents
who want their kids to use these sites safely: 
 
                           Use privacy settings to restrict who can access and post on your
child's website. Some social networking sites have strong privacy settings. Show
your child how to use these settings to limit who can view their online profile, and
explain to them why this is important.
 
                           Encourage your child to think about the language used in a blog,
and to think before posting pictures and videos. Employers, college admissions
officers, team coaches, and teachers may view your child's postings. Even a kid's
screen name could make a difference. Encourage teens to think about the
impression that screen names could make.
 
                           Remind your kids that once they post information online, they can't
take it back. Even if they delete the information from a site, older versions may
exist on other people's computers and be circulated online.
 
                           Talk to your kids about bullying. Online bullying can take many forms,
from spreading rumors online and posting or forwarding private messages without
the sender's OK, to sending threatening messages. Tell your kids that the words
they type and the images they post can have real-world consequences. They can
make the target of the bullying feel bad, make the sender look bad — and, some-
times, can bring on punishment from the authorities. Encourage your kids to talk to
you if they feel targeted by a bully.
 
                           Talk to your kids about avoiding sex talk online. Recent research
shows that teens who don't talk about sex with strangers online are less likely to
come in contact with a predator.  
 
Tell your kids to trust their instincts if they have suspicions. If they feel threatened by
someone or uncomfortable because of something online, encourage them to tell you.
You can then help them report concerns to the police and to the social networking
site. Most sites have links where users can immediately report abusive, suspicious,
or inappropriate activity. 

 

   

Q. What is the best way to keep malware out. 

 

A. Try to minimize the threat.

 

Minimizing the Effects of Malware on Your Computer
 
Malware is short for “malicious software;” it includes viruses — programs that copy
themselves without your permission — and spyware, programs installed without
your consent to monitor or control your computer activity. Criminals are hard at work
thinking up creative ways to get malware on your computer. They create appealing
web sites, desirable downloads, and compelling stories to lure you to links that will
download malware, especially on computers that don’t use adequate security
software. Then, they use the malware to steal personal information, send spam,
and commit fraud.It doesn’t have to be that way. So says a website with tips from
the federal government and the technology industry that is helping consumers be on
guard against Internet fraud, secure their computers, and protect their personal
information. Indeed, OnGuardOnline.gov says consumers can minimize the havoc
malware can wreak, and reclaim their computers and their electronic information.
Computers may be infected with malware if they:
 
                                          -       slow down, malfunction, or display repeated error messages;
 
                                                                                     -       wont shut down or restart;
 
                                          -       serve up a lot of pop-up ads, or display them when youre not surfing the web;
                                               or
 
                                          -       display web pages or programs you didnt intend to use, or send emails you
                                               didnt write. 
 
If you suspect malware is on your computer 
 
If you suspect malware is lurking on your computer, stop shopping, banking, and
other online activities that involve user names, passwords, or other sensitive inform-
ation. Malware on your computer could be sending your personal information to
identity thieves.

Then, confirm that your security software is active and current: at a minimum, your
computer should have anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and a firewall. You can
buy stand-alone programs for each element or a security suite that includes these
programs from a variety of sources, including commercial vendors or from your
Internet Service Provider. Security software that comes pre-installed on a computer
generally works for a short time unless you pay a subscription fee to keep it in effect.
In any case, security software protects against the newest threats only if it is up-to-
date. Thats why it is critical to set your security software and operating system (like
Windows or Apples OS) to update automatically.
 
Some scam artists distribute malware disguised as anti-spyware software. Resist
buying software in response to unexpected pop-up messages or emails, especially
ads that claim to have scanned your computer and detected malware. Thats a tactic
scammers have used to spread malware, and that has attracted the attention of the
Federal Trade Commission, the nations consumer protection agency, as well as a
number of state law enforcement agencies. Visit OnGuardOnline.gov to find a list of
security tools from legitimate security vendors selected by GetNetWise, a project of
the Internet Education Foundation.
 
Once you confirm that your security software is up-to-date, run it to scan your compu-
ter for viruses and spyware. Delete everything the program identifies as a problem.
You may have to restart your computer for the changes to take effect.If you suspect
that your computer still is infected, you may want to run a second anti-spyware or
anti-virus program. Some computer security experts recommend installing one
program for real-time protection, and another for periodic scans of your machine as
a way to stop malware that might have slipped past the first program.
 
Finally, if the problem persists after you exhaust your own ability to diagnose and
treat it, you might want to call for professional help. If your computer is covered by a
warranty that offers free tech support, contact the manufacturer. Before you call,
write down the model and serial number of your computer, the name of any software
you’ve installed, and a short description of the problem. Your notes will help you give
an accurate description to the technician.If you need professional help, if your
machine isn’t covered by a warranty, or if your security software isn’t doing the job
properly, you may need to pay for technical support. Many companies — including
some affiliated with retail stores — offer tech support via the phone, online, at their
store, or in your home. Telephone or online help generally are the least expensive
ways to access support services — especially if there’s a toll-free helpline — but you
may have to do some of the work yourself. Taking your computer to a store usually is
less expensive than hiring a technician or repair person to come into your home.
 
Once your computer is back up and running, think about how malware could have
been downloaded to your machine, and what you could do to avoid it in the future. If
your security software or operating system was out-of-date, download the newest
version and set it to update automatically. Use the opportunity to back up important
files by copying them onto a removable disc. Other ways to minimize the chances
of a malware download in the future:
 
                                                      -       Don’t click on a link in an email or open an attachment unless you
                                                           know who sent it and what it is. Links in email can send you to sites
                                                           that automatically download malware to your machine. Opening
                                                           attachments — even those that appear to come from a friend or
                                                           co-worker — also can install malware on your computer.
 
                                                      -       Download and install software only from websites you know and trust.
                                                           Downloading free games, file-sharing programs, and customized
                                                           toolbars may sound appealing, but free software can come with
                                                           malware.
 
                                                      -       Talk about safe computing. Tell your kids that some online activity can
                                                           put a computer at risk: clicking on pop-ups, downloading free games or
                                                           programs, or posting personal information.
 
Finally, monitor your computer for unusual behavior. If you suspect your machine
has been exposed to malware, take action immediately. Report problems with
malware to your ISP so it can try to prevent similar problems and alert other
subscribers, as well as to the FTC (www.ftc.gov).
         

    

 

       

Q. What Should Parents know about Social Networking Sites? 
        
A.   Social Networking Sites
         
"It's 10 p.m. Do you know where your children are?
"Remember that phrase from your own childhood? It's still a valid question, but now, it comes with a twist:
 "Do you know where your kids are — and who they're chatting with online?
"Social networking sites have morphed into a mainstream medium for teens and adults. These sites
encourage and enable people to exchange information about themselves, share pictures and videos,
and use blogs and private messaging to communicate with friends, others who share interests, and
sometimes even the world-at-large. And that's why it's important to be aware of the possible pitfalls that
come with networking online.
Some social networking sites attract pre-teens – even kids as young as 5 or 6. These younger-focused
sites don't allow the same kinds of communication that teens and adults have, but there are still things
that parents can do to help young kids socialize safely online. In fact, when it comes to young kids, the
law provides some protections – and gives parents some control over the type of information that
children can disclose online. For sites directed to children under age 13, and for general audience sites
that know they're dealing with kids younger than 13, there's the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act
(COPPA). It requires these sites to get parental consent before they collect, maintain, or use kids'
Information. COPPA also allows parents to review their child's online profiles and blog pages.
Parents sometimes can feel outpaced by their technologically savvy kids. Technology aside, there are
lessons that parents can teach to help kids stay safer as they socialize online.
Help Kids Socialize Safely OnlineOnGuard Online shares these tips for safe social networking:                              
                      Help your kids understand what information should be private. Tell them why it's important to
                      keep some things – about themselves, family members and friends – to themselves.
                      Information like their full name, Social Security number, street address, phone number, and
                      family financial information — like bank or credit card Account numbers — is private and
                      should stay that way. Tell them not to choose a screen name that gives away too much
                      personal information.   
                      Use privacy settings to restrict who can access and post on your child's website. Some
                      social networking sites have strong privacy settings.
                      Show your child how to use these settings to limit who can view their online profile, and
                      explain to them why this is important. 
                      Explain that kids should post only information that you — and they — are comfortable
                      with others seeing. Even If privacy settings are turned on, some — or even all — of your
                      child's profile may be seen by a broader audience Than you're comfortable with.
                      Encourage your child to think about the language used in a blog, and to think before               
                      Posting pictures and videos. Employers, college admissions officers, team coaches,
                      and teachers may view your child's postings.
                      Even a kid's screen name could make a difference. Encourage teens to think about the
                      impression that screen names could make.    
                      Remind your kids that once they post information online, they can't take it back.
                      Even if they delete the Information from a site, older versions may exist on other
                      people's computers and be circulated online. 
                      Know how your kids are getting online. More and more, kids are accessing the Internet
                      through their cell phones.
                      Find out about what limits you can place on your child's cell phone. Some cellular
                      companies have plans that limit downloads, Internet access, and texting; other plans
                      allow kids to use those features only at certain times of day. 
                      Talk to your kids about bullying. Online bullying can take many forms, from spreading
                      rumors online and posting or forwarding private messages without the sender's OK, to
                      sending threatening messages. Tell your kids that the words they type and the images
                      they post can have real-world consequences. They can make the target of the
                      bullying feel bad, make the sender look bad – and, sometimes, can bring on
                      punishment from the authorities. 
                      Encourage your kids to talk to you if they feel targeted by a bully.                  
                      Talk to your kids about avoiding sex talk online. Recent research shows that teens who
                      don't talk about sex with strangers online are less likely to come in contact with a
                      predator.If you're concerned that your child is engaging in risky online behavior, you can
                      search the blog sites they visit to see whatinformation they're posting. Try searching
                      by their name, nickname, school, hobbies, grade, or area where you live.         
                      Tell your kids to trust their gut if they have suspicions. If they feel threatened by someone
                      or uncomfortable because of something online, encourage them to tell you. You can then
                      help them report concerns to the police and to the social networking site. Most sites have
                      links where users can immediately report abusive, suspicious, or inappropriate online
                      behavior.           
                      Read sites' privacy policies. Spend some time with a site's privacy policy, FAQs, and
                      parent sections to Understand its features and privacy controls. The site should spell out
                      your rights as a parent to review and delete your child's profile if your child is younger
                      than 13.
                      A Few More Tips to Protect Pre-TeensMany of the tips above apply for pre-teens, but
                      parents of younger children also can:   
                                 Take extra steps to protect younger kids. Keep the computer in an open area like the
                                 kitchen or family room, so you can keep an eye on what your kids are doing online.
                                 Use the Internet with them to help develop safe surfing habits.                
                                 Consider taking advantage of parental control features on some operating systems
                                 that let you manage your kids' computer use, including what sites they can visit,
                                 whether they can download items, or what time of day they can be online.
                                 Go where your kids go online. Sign up for – and use – the social networking spaces
                                 that your kids visit. Let them know that you're there, and help teach them how to act
                                 as they socialize online.           
                                 Review your child's friends list. You may want to limit your child's online “friends” to
                                 people your child actually knows and is friendly with in real life. 
                                 Understand sites' privacy policies. Sites should spell out your rights as a parent to
                                 review and delete your child's profile if your child is younger than 13.
For More InformationTo learn more about staying safe online, visit the websites of the following organizations: Federal Trade Commission — www.OnGuardOnline.gov
The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and toprovide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information onconsumer issues, visit ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261.The FTC manages OnGuardOnline.gov, which provides practical tips from the federal government and the technologyindustry to help you be on guard against Internet fraud, secure your computer, and protect your personal information. ConnectSafely — www.connectsafely.org
ConnectSafely is a forum for parents, teens, educators, and advocates designed to give teens and parents a voice in thepublic discussion about youth online safety, and has tips, as well as other resources, for safe blogging and socialnetworking. Along with NetFamilyNews.org, it is a project of the non- profit Tech Parenting Group. Cyberbully411 — www.cyberbully411.org
Cyberbully411 provides resources and opportunities for discussion and sharing for youth - and their parents - who havequestions about or may have been targeted by online harassment. The website was created by the non-profit Internet Solutions for Kids, Inc., with funding from the Community Technology Foundation of California. GetNetWise — www.getnetwise.org
GetNetWise is a public service sponsored by Internet industry corporations and public interest organizations to helpensure that Internet users have safe, constructive, and educational or entertaining online experiences. The GetNetWise coalition works to provide Internet users with the resources they need to make informed decisions about their and theirfamily's use of the Internet.
Internet Keep Safe Coalition — www.iKeepSafe.org
iKeepSafe.org is a coalition of 49 governors/first spouses, law enforcement, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and other associations dedicated to helping parents, educators, and caregivers byproviding tools and guidelines to promote safe Internet and technology use among children.
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children — www.missingkids.com; www.netsmartz.org
NCMEC is a private, non-profit organization that helps prevent child abduction and sexual exploitation; helps find missingchildren; and assists victims of child abduction and sexual exploitation, their families, and the professionals who serve them. staysafe — www.staysafe.org
staysafe.org is an educational site intended to help consumers understand both the positive aspects of the Internet aswell as how to manage a variety of safety and security issues that exist online.
Wired Safety — www.wiredsafety.org
WiredSafety.org is an Internet safety and help group. WiredSafety.org provides education, assistance, and awareness on cybercrime and abuse, privacy, security, and responsible technology use. It is also the parent group of Teenangels.org, FBI-trained teens and preteens who promote Internet safety. See also: Social Networking Sites: Safety Tips for Tweens and Teens
What to Do if There's a ProblemTrust your gut if you have suspicions. If you feel threatened by someone or uncomfortable because of something online,Tell an adult you trust, and report it to the police and the social networking site.The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) requires websites to obtain parental consent before collecting, using,or disclosing personal information from children under age 13.
If a website is violating COPPA, report it to the Federal Trade Commission.  

 

Q. What are Nigerian con-men or internet scams?
                       
A. Phony Lotteries, Nigerian 419s, Advanced Fee Fraud, and Scams
               
While you're online:  Know who you're dealing with.
In any electronic transaction, independently confirm the other party's name, street address, and telephone number.
Resist the urge to enter foreign lotteries. These solicitations are phony and illegal.
     
Delete requests that claim to be from foreign nationals asking you to help transfer their money through your bank account. They're fraudulent.
Ignore unsolicited emails that request your money, credit card or account numbers, or other personal information.
            
If you are selling something over the Internet, don't accept a potential buyer's offer to send you a check for more than the purchase price, no matter how tempting the plea or convincing the story. End the transaction immediately if someone insists that you wire back funds.The Internet gives buyers access to a world of goods and services, and gives sellers access to a world of customers. Unfortunately, the Internet also gives con artists the very same access. But being on guard online can help you maximize the global benefits of electronic commerce and minimize your chance of being defrauded. OnGuard Online wants you to know how to spot some cross-border scams — including foreign lotteries, money offers, and check overpayment schemes — and report them to the appropriate authorities.
                  
Foreign Lotteries
             
For years, scam operators have used the telephone and direct mail to entice U.S. consumers into buying chances in supposedly high-stakes foreign lotteries. Now they're using email, too — either to sell tickets or suggest that a large cash prize has your name on it. No matter what country's name is used to promote a lottery, the pitch follows a pattern: you should send money to pay for taxes, insurance, or processing or customs fees. The amount may seem small at first, but as long as you keep paying, the requests for funds will keep coming — for higher and higher amounts. Some victims have lost thousands of dollars.Most scam operators never buy the lottery tickets on your behalf. Others buy some tickets, but keep the "winnings" for themselves. In any case, lottery hustlers generally try to get you to share your bank account or credit card numbers, so they can make unauthorized withdrawals.If you're thinking about responding to a foreign lottery, OnGuard Online wants you to remember:
Playing a foreign lottery is against the law.
                 
There are no secret systems for winning foreign lotteries. Your chances of getting any money back are slim to none.
If you buy even one foreign lottery ticket, you can expect many more bogus offers for lottery or investment "opportunities." Your name will be placed on "sucker lists" that fraudsters buy and sell.
            
Keep your credit card and bank account numbers to yourself. Scam artists often ask for them during an unsolicited sales pitch. Once they get your account numbers, they may use them to commit identity theft.Resist solicitations for foreign lottery promotions. Report them to the appropriate government officials, then hit delete.View a sample fraudulent foreign lottery solicitation.
                
"Nigerian" Foreign Money Offers
            
The "Nigerian" scam got its name from emails that supposedly came from Nigerian "officials" who needed your help getting at their money — which was tied up due to strife in their country. Today, people claiming to be officials, businesspeople, or the surviving relatives of former government honchos in countries around the world send countless offers via email to transfer thousands of dollars into your bank account if you will just pay a fee or "taxes" to help them access their money. If you respond to the initial offer, you may receive documents that look "official." But then, you will get more email asking you to send more money to cover transaction and transfer costs, attorney's fees, blank letterhead, and your bank account numbers, among other information. Subsequent emails will encourage you to travel to another country to complete the transaction. Some fraudsters have even produced trunks of dyed or stamped money to verify their claims.The emails are from crooks trying to steal your money or commit identity theft. Victims of this scam report that emergencies arise that require more money and delay the "transfer" of funds; in the end, you lose your money, and the scam artist vanishes. According to the U.S. State Department, people who have responded to these solicitations have been beaten, subjected to threats and extortion, and in some cases, murdered.If you receive an email from someone claiming to need your help getting money out of another country, don't respond. After all, why would a stranger from another country pick you out at random to share thousands of dollars? Report the solicitation to the appropriate government officials, and then hit delete.View a sample fraudulent foreign money offer.
           
Check Overpayment Schemes
              
Say no to a check for more than your selling price, no matter how tempting the plea or convincing the story. Check overpayment schemes generally target people who have posted an item for sale online. The con artist, posing as a potential buyer from a foreign country (or a distant part of the U.S.), emails the seller and offers to buy the item with a cashier's check, money order, personal check, or corporate check. Or the scammer may pretend to be a business owner from a foreign country, needing "financial agents" to process payments for their U.S. orders; in exchange, they promise a commission.Regardless of the cover, here's what happens: The scammer sends you a check that looks authentic — complete with watermarks — made payable for more money than you expected. They ask you to deposit it in your bank account, and then wire-transfer some portion of the funds to a foreign account. They provide convincing reasons why the check is for more than the necessary amount, and why the funds must be transferred quickly. Sometimes, the counterfeit checks fool a bank teller, but be aware that the check still can bounce. The scammer vanishes with the money you wired from your own account and you are on the hook for the entire amount of the worthless check. In addition, a scammer who has your bank account number is likely to use it to withdraw more money from your account.
           
Reporting a Cross-Border Scam
        
If you think you may have responded to a cross-border scam, file a complaint at www.econsumer.gov, a project of 20 countries of the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network. Then visit the FTC's identity theft website at www.ftc.gov/idtheft. While you can't completely control whether you will become a victim of identity theft, you can take some steps to minimize your risk.If you've responded to a "Nigerian" scheme, contact your local Secret Service field office using contact information from the Blue Pages of your telephone directory, or from www.secretservice.gov/field_offices.shtml.In addition, report telemarketing fraud and check overpayment scams to your state Attorney General, using contact information at www.naag.org.Report unsolicited email offers to spam@uce.gov — including offers inviting you to participate in a foreign lottery, looking for help getting money out of a foreign country, or asking you to wire back extra funds from a check you received.If you receive what looks like lottery material from a foreign country through the postal mail, give it to your local postmaster.
          
For More InformationForeign Lottery Scams
               
U.S. Federal Trade Commission — The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit www.ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.Competition Bureau in Canada — The Competition Bureau is an independent law enforcement agency in Canada that investigates anti-competitive practices and promotes compliance with the laws under its jurisdiction. To file a complaint or to get free information, visit www.competitionbureau.gc.ca or call toll-free, 1-800-348-5358. The Bureau has the ability to refer criminal matters to the Attorney General of Canada, who then decides whether to prosecute before the courts.United Kingdom's Office of Fair Trading — The United Kingdom's Office of Fair Trading is responsible for making markets work well for consumers. They protect and promote consumer interests throughout the United Kingdom, while ensuring that businesses are fair and competitive. To file a complaint or to get free information, visit www.oft.gov.uk or send an email to enquiries@oft.gsi.gov.uk.Australian Competition and Consumer Commission — The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission encourages vigorous competition in the marketplace and enforces consumer protection and fair trading laws. To file a complaint or to get more information, visit www.accc.gov.au. The ACCC advocates consultation and negotiation as the first and best option to settle disputes, but once the ACCC pursues legal action any sort of mediation becomes less likely.
          
"Nigerian" Advance-Fee Scams
               
U.S. Secret Service — The Secret Service investigates violations of laws relating to financial crimes, including access device fraud, financial institution fraud, identity theft, and computer fraud. To file a complaint or to get free information, visit www.secretservice.gov or call 202-406-5708.U.S. Department of State — The Department of State's mission is to create a more secure, democratic, and prosperous world for the benefit of the American people and the international community. As part of that mission, the Department of State seeks to minimize the impact of international crime, including cross-border internet scams, on the United States and its citizens. To get free information, visit www.state.gov.
                

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Q. What should I do prior to disposing of an old computer?
                  
A. Computer Disposal
           
Once you have a “clean” computer, consider recycling, donating, or reselling it – and keep the environment in mind when
disposing of your computer.If you want to get rid of your old computer, options include recycling, reselling, and donating.
But before you log off for thelast time, there are important things to do to prepare it for disposal. Computers often hold
personal and financial information, including passwords, account numbers, license keys or registration numbers for software
programs, addresses and phone numbers, medical and prescription information, tax returns, and other personal documents.
Before getting rid of your old computer, it’s a good idea to use software to “wipe”the hard drive clean. If you don’t, consider
your old hard drive a 21st century treasure chest for identity thieves and information pirates. The Federal Trade Commission
(FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, says you can deter identity theft and information piracy by taking a few
preventive steps.
    
Understanding Hard Drives
          
A computer’s hard drive stores data, and maintains an index of files. When you save a file, especially a large one, it is
scattered around the hard drive in bits and pieces. Files also are automatically created by browsers and operating
systems. When you open a file, the hard drive checks the index, then gathers the bits and pieces and reconstructs them.
When you delete a file, the links between the index and the file disappear, signaling to your system that the file isn’t needed
any longer and that hard drive space can be overwritten. But the bits and pieces of the deleted file stay on your computer
until they’re overwritten, and they can be retrieved with a data recovery program. To remove data from your hard drive
permanently, it needs to be wiped clean.
                
Cleaning Hard Dives
            
Before you clean your hard drive, save the files that are important to you on an external storage device – for example,
a USB drive, a CDRom, or an external hard drive – or transfer them to a new computer. Check your owner’s manual, the
manufacturer’s website, or its customer support line for information on how to save data and transfer it to a new
computer. Utility programs to wipe your hard drive are available both online and in stores where computers are sold.
They’re generally inexpensive; some are available on the Internet for free. Wipe utility programs vary in their capabilities:
some erase the entire disk, while others allow you to select files or folders to erase. They also vary in their effectiveness:
programs that overwrite or wipe the hard drive many times are very effective; those that overwrite or wipe the drive only once
may not prevent information being wiped from being recovered later. If your old computer contains sensitive information
that would be valuable to an identity thief, consider using a program that overwrites or wipes the hard drive many times. Or,
remove the hard drive, and physically destroy it. One more thing to keep in mind: If you use your home or personal computer
for business purposes, check with your employer about how to manage information on your computer that’s business-related.
The law requires businesses to follow data security and disposal requirements for certain information that’s related to
customers.
                  
Disposal Options
          
               Once you have a “clean” computer, here’s how to dispose of it:
   
                               Recycle it. Many computer manufacturers have programs to recycle computers and components. Check their
                               websites or call their toll-free numbers for more information. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has
                               information on electronic product recycling programs at
                               www.epa.gov/epaoswer/hazwaste/recycle/ecycling/donate.htm. Your local community may have a recycling
                               program. Check with your county or local government, including the local landfill office for regulations.
 
                               Donate it. Many organizations collect old computers and donate them to charities.
       
                               Resell it. Some people and organizations buy old computers.
               
Check online. Keep the environment in mind when disposing of your computer.
Most computer equipment contains hazardous materialsthat don’t belong in a landfill.
For example, many computers have heavy metals that can contaminate the earth.
The EPA recommends that you check with your local health and sanitation agencies for ways to dispose
of electronics safely.  

 

 

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