July 31, 2004

To Retain Your Sanity Switch to Mozilla

Yesterday I spent the entire day down at the office doing hardware stuff. As a sidelight to crawling around and messing with wires, I was working on one of the computers to remove virii and spyware... This is where I ran across the excessively malicious spyware called about:blank.

None of the freeware versions of spyware removers will take care of this little bugger. (and I wasn't about to pay $30 to some spyware company to get rid of one bit of spyware - it's the principle of the thing) So I started googling around to find out about it.

Turns out that you can remove it manually, but the removal instructions are annoyingly long and involve reboots and safe modes etc. I figure poking yourself in the eye with a sharp stick would be more efficient if you want to cause yourself lots of pain, but I digress...

As it happens, almost everything we run on PC is on W2K - which is excellent, because the removal is much easier on W2K than it is on XP, but it's almost easier to simply blow the entire thing away and reload your OS - yes it's that much of a pain to get rid of.

Thus we come to my advice in the title of this post - download Mozilla! Firefox with Java will let you do just about everything you need to do on the web. Then you won't be bothered (at least not yet) by all the morons who think it's a really cute thing to hijack your browser. Oh, BTW - the morons who have done this, are in the business of selling adware/spyware protection. Sheesh!!!

This is the set of instructions for Win XP removal.

And this is the set of instructions for W2K removal.

Last of all - a bunch of new security patches was just released for IE yesterday! Please update your patches - the newest exploits can involve bitmap files which people haven't been too concerned about up to this point!!! The other way these holes can be exploited is by browsing to a malicious site. Anyhow, patch, patch patch - as sometimes holes can be exploited even if you aren't using IE as your default browser.

UPDATE: A couple of things I forgot to mention! First and foremost - if you have about:blank, it will NOT let you update your microsoft patches. If you try to use Windows Update to see what is necessary and you click on "Scan your system now" - about:blank will automatically hijack you back to their home page. Second - if you try to use Mozilla when you do Windows Update, it will not scan your system - this is very likely the same thing that makes Mozilla safer to use as a regular browser. So, if you want to use the Windows Update feature and have it scan your system for the latest updates - then at that time you will have to use IE. But we will hope that simply going to Microsoft for patches won't end up putting more damaging spyware on your system... although I know many who consider Windows itself to be damaging spyware *grin*.

Posted by: Teresa in WebTech at 09:07 AM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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July 24, 2004

The Bin Laden Suicide Virus

Okay people, we all know by now to be Veeerrrryyyy careful of the attachments arriving via email. So, here's today's little tip. If you get an email purporting to have pictures of Osama Bin Laden's suicide.... DO NOT OPEN IT!

Yeah, I know I should trust you by now to do the right thing. But ya know, I'm a mom. And we moms have this little obsession which goes like this... We must state the bleeding obvious every time we know there might be a problem, so when someone DOES NOT listen to us, we can say - Told Ya So!!! and be smug. Sorry it's part of the package which is difficult to lose even after the kids grow up and are on their own.

However, and really the only reason I started this little post, was because of the following...

Chris Kraft, senior security analyst at Sophos, said the message and virus was designed to lure unsuspecting readers into opening a file, similar to the Anna Kournikova (news - web sites) virus that enticed readers to open a file that unleashed malicious software code.

"If you don't know the person or the origin of a message, you shouldn't be opening it," Kraft said.

Ahem... attention Mr. Kraft, but I have a little question for you... ARE YOU AN IDIOT??? Why in the world would you tell people it's okay to open attachments from people they know, when they might actually GET the friggin' virus from SOMEONE THEY KNOW?!?!?!?

Whew, just had to get that one out of my system before closing up for the night.

Now, all you kids behave and don't open any email attachments while I'm not looking!

Posted by: Teresa in WebTech at 07:03 PM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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