Keeping your computer up to date with patches has become the most important element of being secure online. New studies show that fully patched systems have significantly more protection against malware spread by poisoned web sites and the other forms of viruses and malware floating around.
The monitoring and updating service that I offer for a few dollars each month is just as important for your security as your antivirus program. If you haven’t signed up yet, give me a call or drop me a note. It takes seconds to install and gives you the peace of mind that Java, Flash, Adobe Acrobat/Reader, and other third party products are up to date all the time, in addition to Windows, Internet Explorer, Office programs, and more. Click here for more details.
Recently a Danish security group released a study of more than 500,000 exposures to poisoned web sites running typical exploit kits used by the bad guys. Users who were infected became victims in almost every case because they were missing security updates.
According to the researchers, “[A]s much as 99.8 % of all virus/malware infections caused by commercial exploit kits are a direct result of the lack of updating five specific software packages.” The study identifies Java, Adobe Reader, Adobe Acrobat, Flash, and Internet Explorer as the five programs most often targeted by malware. Many of the exploits are aimed at vulnerabilities identified and fixed long ago. The malware would be ineffective against a fully patched system.
That’s not the only protection you need. Your best defense is to be attentive and use your common sense.
Yesterday I talked about malware that gets onto your system by clever social engineering, presenting you with something that looks plausible enough to fool you into installing a malware program or surrendering a password or a credit card number. Don’t let the bad guys into your computer! You can bypass all of the protection from the updates and from your security program. Two examples for Facebook users from today’s headlines:
- Apple is not giving away free iPads “in memory of Steve Jobs.” Shame on you if it even occurred to you to believe that if you saw it! There have already been a number of Facebook messages exploiting Jobs’ death – details here about one of them. Count on scams and malware messages to start appearing on Facebook and Twitter after almost every major public event now.
- Facebook is not going to start charging a monthly fee “due to the profile changes.” Here’s an article about those Facebook messages, which spread like wildfire a few days ago. It’s not true.
The second one made me laugh. According to the misspelled, all caps message, Facebook would be free “IF YOU COPY AND PASTE THIS MESSAGE BEFORE MIDNIGHT TONIGHT. PLEASE PASS THIS MESSAGE ON IF NOT YOUR ACCOUNT WILL BE DELETED.” Memories are so short! It was only a few years ago that we dealt with a tidal wave of email scams and urban legends and chain letters, all of which demanded that messages be forwarded Now! By Midnight! Right Away! To All Of Your Friends! Engage your common sense, turn on your hoax antenna – it looks like we’re in for it again.
Here’s a bit of nostalgia to help you recognize the characteristics of hoax messages. I sent this out to my joke mailing list for the first time in 1998, and it’s still true today. Free iPads? Sheesh.
THE SEVEN BASIC TYPES OF CHAIN LETTERS
Chain Letter Type 1:
Make a wish!!!
Really, go on and make one!!!
Oh please, they’ll never go out with you!!
Wish something else!!!
Not that, you moron!!!
Something else! Quick!!!
Yeah, right…like that could really happen…
Is your finger getting tired yet?
Wasn’t that fun? Hope you made a great wish.
Now, to make you feel guilty, here’s what I’ll do. First of all, if you don’t send this to 5096 people in the next 5 seconds, you will be attacked by a mad goat and then thrown off a high building into a pile of manure. It’s true! Because THIS letter isn’t like all of those fake ones, THIS one is TRUE!! Really!!! Here’s how it goes:
*Send this to 1 person: One person will be mad at you for sending them a stupid chain letter.
*Send this to 2-5 people: 2-5 people will be mad at you for sending them a stupid chain letter.
*5-10 people: 5-10 people will be mad at you for sending them a stupid chain letter.
*10-20 people: 10-20 people will be mad at you for sending them a stupid chain letter.
*20 to 674,951 people: 20 to 674,951 people will be mad at you for sending them a stupid chain letter.
Thanks!!!! Good Luck!!!
Chain Letter Type 2
Hello, and thank you for reading this letter.
You see, there is a starving little boy in Baklaliviatatlaglooshen who has no arms, no legs, no parents, and no goats. This little boy’s life could be saved, because for every time you pass this on, a dollar will be donated to the Little Starving Legless Armless Goatless Boy from Baklaliviatatlaglooshen Fund. Remember, we have no way of counting letters sent and this is all bull. So go on, reach out. Send this to 5 people in the next 47 seconds.
Oh, and a reminder – if you accidentally send this to 4 or 6 people, you will die instantly. Thanks again!!
Chain Letter Type 3
Hi there!! This chain letter has been in existence since 1897. This is absolutely incredible because there was no email then and probably not as many little 8 year olds writing chain letters. So this is how it works. Pass this on to 15,067 people in the next 7 minutes or something horrible will happen to you like:
Stupid Horror Story #1
Miranda Pinsley was walking home from school on Saturday. She had recently received this letter and ignored it. She then tripped in a crack in the sidewalk, fell into the sewer, was gushed down a drainpipe in a flood of poopie, and went flying out over a waterfall. Not only did she smell nasty, she died. This Could Happen To You!!!
Stupid Horror Story #2
Dexter Bip, a 13 year old boy, got a chain letter in his mail and ignored it. Later that day, he was hit by a car and so was his girlfriend. They both died. Their families were so upset that everyone related to them (even by marriage) went crazy and spent the rest of their miserable lives in an institution. This Could Happen To You!!!
Remember, you could end up like Pinsley and Bip did. Just send this letter to all of your loser friends, and everything will be OK.
Chain Letter Type 4:
As if you care, here is a poem that I wrote. Send it to every one of your friends.
-A friend is someone who is always at your side,
-A friend is someone who likes you even though you smell like
-A friend is someone who likes you even though you’re
-A friend is someone who cleans up for you after you’ve
-A friend is someone who stays with you all night while
you cry about your loser life,
-A friend is someone who pretends they like you when they
really think you should be attacked by a mad goat and
then thrown in a pile of manure,
-A friend is someone who scrubs your toilet and vacuums and
then gets the check and leaves and doesn’t speak much
English, no, sorry – that’s the cleaning lady,
-A friend is not someone who sends you chain letters
because he wants his wish of being rich to come true.
Now pass this on! If you don’t, you’ll be eaten by wild goats.
Chain Letter Type 5:
This e-mail is wicked-cool! It was started by Microsoft to test its e-mail tracking system because, you know, a big high-tech company like Microsoft always sends important new software out over the internet to be available to any moron who can operate a computer, right? Plus, they have formed a secret merger with Disney Corp., who has agreed to give up millions of dollars in revenue by giving everyone who reads this e-mail, passes it on, looks at it, knows someone that looked at it, or is related to someone who is a friend of someone who looks at it A FREE, ALL-EXPENSES-PAID TRIP to Disneyland, DisneyWorld, or EuroDisney! So pass this on to everyone you know that is gullible enough to believe this (or not)! Even if it’s not true, hey – insulting all of your friends by implying that they are gullible by sending this to them is worth the improbable chance that you could go to Disneyland! Even if you lose all of your friends because they are tired of receiving this kind of junk from you, it’s worth the chance, right? And just for good measure, if you don’t send this on, Microsoft will send its specially trained attack-goats to pilfer your house and eat all of your family, SO SEND IT ON!!!!!
Chain Letter Type 6:
If you receive an email entitled "Badtimes," delete it immediately. Do not open it. Apparently this one is pretty nasty. It will not only erase everything on your hard drive, but it will also delete anything on disks within 20 feet of your computer. It demagnetizes the strips on ALL of your credit cards. It reprograms your ATM PIN, screws up the tracking on your DVD player, and uses subspace field harmonics to scratch any CD’s you attempt to play. It will re-calibrate your refrigerator’s coolness settings so all your ice cream melts and your milk curdles. It will program your phone AutoDial to call only your mother-in-law’s number. So be careful! Forward this to all of your friends, relatives, neighbors, family, enemies, plumbers, garbagemen, stock brokers, doctors, and any other acquaintances! It’s for their own good! Thank you.
Chain Letter Type 7:
Here is a cute picture I drew.
It is a decapitated angel. Send it on to all of your friends so it will brighten their day like it did yours! If you don’t, demon-possessed goats will move into your house and eat all of your socks, leading you to believe that something is wrong with your washing machine because all of your socks keep disappearing.
Have a nice day!!!
There. Now that we’ve covered the basic seven types of chain letters, send this on to 12 people within in the next 24 hours. If you don’t, something bad will happen. Don’t ask me what, but it will be bad. Real Bad. We all know the stories. And they’re true. (Well, most of them, anyway.) Don’t let it happen to you. Send this on NOW. Within 48 hours after sending it, something good will happen. Real Good.