Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Microsoft Security Intelligence Report v6

Microsoft has released the latest version of the Microsoft Security Intelligence Report (SIRv6), examining industry-wide software vulnerability disclosures, Microsoft vulnerability disclosures and exploits, malicious software (malware), and potentially unwanted software.

I understand that some of you may not wish to read a 150 page technical analysis document, except as a way to fight off insomnia. Because of that, if you go over to the main SIR page at www.microsoft.com/sir, there is also a "Key Findings" document that is much more concise and provides a nice summary of the findings from each section.

Report: http://www.microsoft.com/security/portal/sir.aspx

Monday, April 20, 2009

Spam - It also impacts the environment

McAfee has released The Carbon Footprint of Email Spam Report. The study looks at the global energy expended to create, store, view, and filter spam across 11 countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Mexico, Spain, the United States, and the United Kingdom. The report correlates the electricity spent on spam with its carbon footprint, because fossil fuels are by far the largest source of electricity in the world today. Since emissions cannot be isolated to one country, the study averages its findings to arrive at the global impact. Key findings include:

• The average greenhouse gas (GHG) emission associated with a single spam message is 0.3 grams of CO2. That’s like driving three feet (one meter); but when multiplied by the yearly volume of spam, that amount is equivalent to driving around the earth 1.6 million times.
• Much of the energy consumption associated with spam (nearly 80 percent) comes from users deleting spam and searching for legitimate email (false-positives). Spam filtering accounts for just 16 percent of spam-related energy use.
• Spam filtering saves 135 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity per year. That is equivalent to taking 13 million cars off the road.
• If every inbox were protected by a state-of-the-art spam filter, organizations and individuals could reduce today’s spam energy by 75 percent or 25 TWh per year, the equivalent of taking 2.3 million cars off the road.
• Countries with greater Internet connectivity and more users, such as the United States and India, tend to have proportionately higher emissions per email user. The United States, for example, had emissions that were 38 times that of Spain.
• While Canada, China, Brazil, India, the United States and the United Kingdom showed similar energy use for spam by country, Australia, Germany, France, Mexico, and Spain came in about 10 percent lower. Spain had the lowest figure, with both the smallest amount of email that was received as spam and the smallest amount of energy use for spam per email user.

Not only is spam related to cybercrime and a nuisance, but it also impacts the environment. Download the study here. It’s worth a read.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

How to Protect Your PC from Malware Infection

PC from Malware InfectionHow to Protect Your PC from Malware Infection

Malware or malicious software is a program or a file which is harmful to your computer.

These programs have the capability to enter your computer system without your knowledge or consent and cause errors leading to system slow down, crashes and loss of data.

In the United States alone, there are over 60 million computer users who are affected by virus, spyware or some kind of malicious software. Almost everyday a new malware is being released into the cyber world making it easier for the online criminals to make attempts to steal financial information, important data or personal identities. Anti-malware tool manufacturers try to keep up with these new malware by constantly releasing updates and advanced antivirus and antispyware programs.

On the other hand, the response to this huge problem by computer owners is usually delayed. Most of the users wake up to the seriousness of the problem when their computer has already started to show signs of infection, like error messages, system slow downs, and frequent freezes and system crashes. Even then, user response is mostly to take care of the immediate problem, rather than to create a robust defense mechanism for their computer. Over 62% of computer owners surveyed have inadequate protection against malware. This essentially means that either they do not have anti-virus and anti-spyware tools or they do not use or update them regularly.

Protecting your System against Malware

It is essential for you to protect your system from all kinds of malicious software programs, such as the d.exe and aspimgr.exe files. When a system is infected, it is quite expensive and time consuming to restore it to its original condition. Furthermore, you stand the chance of losing a large amount of your data, and if your PC is on a network, other connected computers may become affected as well. At times, these programs come disguised as legitimate Windows files, such as iexplore.exe and alg.exe, and this makes it quite difficult to detect and remove these malicious files manually.

It is humanly impossible to make your computer 100% secure, but by taking simple precautions and continuously updating your computer you can reduce your risk considerably.

The first step in protecting your system is to install reliable and advanced Anti-Virus and Anti-Spyware solutions. It is advisable to run anti-virus and anti-spyware scans on a regular basis. You must also update your tools on a regular basis because manufacturers release new definitions almost daily.

You can also make your system more secure by installing a Firewall. A firewall can be a hardware device or a software application that sits between your computer and the Internet. It filters out the information you send and receive on your computer. In other words, the firewall receives and inspects all incoming and outgoing data. The tool allows you to choose program access permissions on your computer, which to a large extent prevents malware infiltration and unauthorized access to your system.

It is also highly advisable to regularly update your Windows software on a regular basis by using the Windows Update feature, live update features of third-party software, and a reliable driver scanner tool. You must also scan your registry on a regular basis to ensure that no malware data stays within it. You can do this easily and efficiently by using a reliable registry cleaner tool.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

How To Avoid PC Errors And Boost Computer Performance

o Avoid PC Errors And Boost Computer PerformanceHow To Avoid PC Errors And Boost Computer Performance

Are you sick and tired of the frequent error messages that keep showing up on your PC?

Would you like to learn how to avoid annoying computer errors, without spending hundreds of dollars?

If your answer to these questions is yes, you do not need to give up hope just yet. First, you are not alone and are a part of a majority of computer users who are feeling overwhelmed by these computer errors and how these problems are damaging computer performance. Secondly, you must understand that you will not find a permanent solution to computer errors by just hoping that errors do not happen or by calling in the computer experts for your rescue every time you encounter an error. The only solution to these problems is to confront these errors head-on. This includes understanding why these errors happen, how they can be avoided and what to do when errors show up, even after you have taken all the necessary steps. To perform these tasks, you will need the services of a few useful tools that are critical in avoiding and fixing frustrating computer errors.

Disable Unwanted Startup Programs. Quite often, when you install software programs on your computer, they configure a related process to automatically start at system startup. For instance Osa.exe launches at system startup to enable quick access to Microsoft programs. The program is seldom used and most of the time, the only task it does is to feed on your system resources. To disable osa.exe and other such unwanted processes from starting at system startup, you may either use the System Configuration Utility (msconfig) that comes with your Windows operating system or use an easy-to-use third-party startup program manager tool.

Ensure that your User Profile is Not Corrupt. Many files, such as csrss.exe cause high CPU usage problems that slow down your computer if the user profile for the user account with which you are logged on to the system is corrupt. If this is the case, you can resolve the problem by deleting your current user profile and creating a new one. Before deleting your corrupt user profile, remember to make a backup of your files including your emails, address book, favorites, and files stored on your Desktop.

Scan and Clean Malware Regularly. Many errors, such as exe errors and runtime errors are caused due to virus and spyware infections. To fix exe error and other error messages generated by malware and to prevent them from occurring in the first place, it is essential that you use efficient antivirus and antispyware tools to scan and clean all unwanted malicious data. To ensure that these tools are effective, make sure to update them with the latest definitions on a daily basis.

Clean and Defrag your Hard Disk. Low disk space errors and slow computer problems are common on computers with a filled up, cluttered and fragmented hard disk. To prevent this situation, you must use the Disk Cleanup and Disk Defragmenter tools at least once a month to clean junk files and defrag your hard disk to make it contiguous. This will not only prevent errors, but will also considerably speed up your PC.

Clean and Repair the Windows Registry. Finally, make it a point to get a reliable registry tool and use it at least once a month to scan, clean, and repair unwanted and corrupt registry entries.