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Every user of every version of Windows knows that he MUST have his anti-virus and anti-spy-ware software in place and up to date. But that's not all there is to it. With Vista and later versions, it's also very important to ONLY use a Standard-type account when connected to the Internet. This lets Windows deal with programs that try to sneak in from behind the scenes to make changes to the system-- changes that would otherwise be invisible to the user who is using an Administrator-type account. And there's more to it than that- you must also be generally aware. Many attacks use a trick of their trade known as 'social engineering,' the psychological manipulation of people into installing spy-ware or divulging important information. Here follow a few newsworthy topics on computer security with links gleaned recently from the Internet. Some of these stories are about anti-virus tools, and some tell about attacks. Some include descriptions of social engineering.

The Windows 8 Windows Defender Icon
Microsoft Security Essentials, the anti-virus, anti-spy-ware program that has been recommended for use in Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7, is alive and well in Windows 8. It has a new old name: Windows Defender. Why Microsoft chose this, the name of its older anti-spy-ware program that is included with Windows Vista and Windows 7, is incomprehensible. To further muck things, the little green tent icon familiar to Security Essentials users has been dropped and Windows Defenders users need to pay attention instead the Action Center icon, a little white pennant that changes to notify the user of issues with Windows Defender as well as with Firewall and other security things. For a brief discussion of this change, see:

Intel to drop McAfee name from AV in favor of 'Intel Security'
When you buy a new computer these days you likely won't see McAfee Anti-Virus listed among your Programs. Intel Corporation, the chip-maker, has taken over the program and has decided to use the name Intel Security instead. You can read a discussion about this here:

Careto: a “Very Sophisticated Malware”
There is a new suite of tools for evildoers that can be used for compromising computers and mining the data on them. It looks as though it has been devised by very astute programmers. Here are two links you can use to check it out:

Smartscreen Filter
SmartScreen Filter is designed to help warn you about unsafe websites that are impersonating trusted websites (phishing) or contain threats to your computer. If you leave the SmartScreen filter on, it checks the address of the web page you are visiting against a list of high-traffic web page addresses stored on your computer that are believed by Microsoft to be legitimate. Addresses that are not on the local list and the addresses of files you are downloading will be sent immediately and automatically to Microsoft, and there checked against a frequently updated list of web pages and downloads that have been reported to Microsoft as unsafe or suspicious. You might also choose to use SmartScreen Filter manually to verify individual sites with Microsoft. Additionally, if you download or run a program from the Internet, it will check the program against a list of commonly downloaded and known unsafe programs to help protect you from running those deemed unsafe. Here's Wikipedia's short article about Smartscreen Filter:

How Prepared is the Oil Industry for a Cyberwar?
The next major conflict, if there is ever going to be one, will likely be very different from all past conventional wars we have seen so far, in that it will involve cyber warfare and cyber terrorism. The damage caused by computer hacks can be bad, though not as horrible as a real war. Read about it on's news blog:

Suspicion Falls on Russia as ‘Snake’ Cyberattacks Target Ukraine’s Government
Here's a New York Times article about Ukraine, where cyber war is preceding possible real war between Russia and that free state:

A 'Gift' for Apple's Valued Customers (and one other scam)
Here are two articles about phishing scams. These are directed at users of Apple computers and Facebook.  Read and learn how the phishers do it:

March 10, 2014

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