UPDATE 4/27/2006 Arian's Place has a disturbing report about the findings of an on-line quiz by SiteAdvisior that shows users with a high “Spyware IQ” have a nearly 100% chance of visiting a dangerous site during 30 days. This supports what I have said in this blog about everybody being vunerable. The report is short and worth the read. SiteAdvisor claims it was developed by some MIT geeks trying to save the world ( or some such).
At the SiteAdvisior site you can put in a URL to test without having to install their software. As of this writing you can download SiteAdvisior for free, but apparently they have a "pro" version coming out soon that will cost you some buck-a-roos.
I am not recommending SiteAdvisior because if you used the methods within this blog you have a zero chance have getting and staying infected! THAT IS THE POINT!
UPDATE: 3/17/2006 - WashingtonPost.com has just put out an outstanding article about how nasty spyware has become ... read it here (you may need the free registration)
Recently I read this PC World article about the huge increase in spyware and realized I needed to compose this blog. The article states there will be 6000 new spyware programs written this year.
DISCLAIMER: The techniques and products I will discuss have never been broken by spyware as far as I know from my research. However as we get better protecting ourselves the criminals get better at sneaking past our protection. That is the best I can offer so just as with any security measure it is use at your own risk.
This does not protect against phishing!! Phishing is where people try to get you a bogus site that looks just like your bank/stock account and get you to enter your username and password. Actually the nasty people are on the other end sucking this information down, then sucking your accounts dry! If you are gullible nothing can protect you. The best defense against this is to never go to a secure web site (bank/stock/paypal) by clicking on a link. Always type it in yourself on the address line of your browser. ALWAYS! Did I say always? YES I SAID ALWAYS! You think "that is a pain"... TOUGH! I SAID ALWAYS! Ok, done with phishing.
With that said let us move on:
Since this site is dedicated to getting 1 million converts to Firefox you can count on Firefox being part of the solution. As always this is the time I state:
If you have not installed Firefox, now is the time to do it. Click the link in the sidebar "Get Firefox with Google Toolbar" on the right side of this page.
About this solution:
- It is FREE
- To my knowledge it has never been compromised!
- Works on nearly every computer made in the past 8 years including Mac & PC
- 1 ghz PC
- 256 megs of ram ... more the better, 1 gig is great!
- CD-ROM drive.
- broadband connection
- Network adaptor (not wireless, wireless works but configuring is outside the scope of this blog).
Why should you care?
Spyware includes keystroke loggers that record everything you type and sends it back home to the criminals. It is getting very sophisticated by including "screen shots" and sensitive files from your pc along with the keystroke entries. So bingo they have your user names and passwords to all your favorite sites including your bank account, Stock trading account, email account and all the the stores you shop at. YIKES!
When did you get infected?
How do these nasty things get on your computer in the first place? It happens over time. Most likely none of these existed when you first got your PC. Most vendors sell systems that are fairly up to date with security patches. But after a few months or years using your computer you will have visited many different web sites, installed some music (like the SONY music with root kit), and perhaps downloaded some games. Well somewhere along the line this stuff creeps into your computer and onto your hard drive. Don't blame yourself if you get infected because this stuff is slick and sneaks past many people that know volumes more than you do about computers. Well that was before, after this entry you will have no excuse for getting hacked.
So what is this "Ultimate Spyware/Virus Blocker" ? I'll describe it first, I hear sizzle sells best. Imagine that every time you turned on your computer it was exactly as it was when it was brand new. No place you go , no email attachment you click , no application you run could make a change that that persists past a reboot. Put your paranoia away, you have just received your Internet freedom back The Ultimate Spyware/Virus Blocker will not protect you from getting infected , it prevents you from staying infected . So do your sensitive browsing right after turning your computer on or doing a reboot.
Sound to good to be true? That is because I only told you the up side. The down side is that clicking "Save my login information" at your favorite sites won't be there after you reboot. Having a lot of RAM is important, 512 mb minimum and 1 gig is better. A gigabyte of ram is about $50. It is not Windows, uh, that belongs on the up side <*wink*>. You'll want a fast CD-ROM drive.
Ok now, we have a few downer's so we can get rid of the worry that it is "to good to be true". Oh I forgot, about price, its only $125 ...just kidding, it's FREE! My sig is CashIsKing because I want to keep the cash, not give it to some big bloated Oligopoly.
The whole point is ....
- Nothing is ever written to your hard drives, so nothing can exist from one reboot to another!
Does this look familiar?
Not exactly WinXp, or Win98 but your start button and tool bars are there. What is this?
Wow what do I see. Someone is downloading Firefox from my blog. Hurray for them! :) Wait, Wait, what is that green stuff...get back to work I have seen that before :)
Here I am sending the screen shots to my email address so I can get them to the computer I am writing this blog from. I could have done it all on the same computer I wanted to show that you could still store things on the computer and even pass them to others. The only thing to remember is that when you turn off the computer it forgets everything.
Notice the screen shots I saved. Way cool that you get thumb nails on the desktop. Also remember the LiveCD ...NEVER TOUCHED the hard drive. These folks are AMAZING! What is this again?
I see some serious word processing and spreadsheet action going on here. Are you sure you are not touching the hard drive? Yes! Nice Office package the price stays the same $0.00.
Enough Sizzle Where is the Steak!
If you haven't guessed it by now you were just looking at Linux. Yes it's that geeky computer operating system that nobody can figure out.... well till now that is.
There are a few versions of Linux that are called "LiveCD's". Basically you put the CD in your computer and boot from it. The key here is that your hard drive is "write protected". Nothing can write to your hard drive! In fact you could remove the hard drives from the computer because the LiveCD does not need or use them. Is that cool or what?
This is not some stripped down operating system looking like DOS. It is gorgeous, with windows and tool bars just as you are used to. There is all sorts of software included . They all have an Office package, and a slew of other software including guess what ...FIREFOX! Wow you guess it, I am impressed. I better not forget the games, there are some very slick games here as well.
LiveCD's were originally created as a means of being able to demonstrate Linux to people. But it had to be in such a way that people wouldn't say "You messed up my computer with that $#($#$&*!" software. So viola, it can't mess up your computer because it doesn't touch your hard drive(s)!
Where Do I Get One?
These CD's are available for download off the Internet. They are HUGE, about 700 megabytes. That is about an hour for many DSL connections. They are stored as a single file called an ISO image. If you are getting weak knees about now it is time to call your tech friend and see if the words "ISO image" rings any bells with them. Let them download and rip the CD's for you while you run to the store for some beers. These are standard files for burning CD's. Make a few extras so you have some as gifts for your friends. If you want to learn just Google ISO CD BURNING , I just put a Google search bar at the top of this page to help you out.
You will need to know the type of computer you have.
i386 - Typical Intel Pentium or AMD Athlon computer
PowerPC - a Mac
AMD64 - the new 64 bit computers from AMD.
Ubuntu Live CD ... click here.
Knoppix ...click here.
FIRST - Is the network connected? You will want to use a cable to connect your computer to your cable/DSL modem. Of if you have a wireless hub they typically have some hard wire ports you can connect to. Why not use the wireless? Well if you are using locked down wireless hub (as you should be), then you will have to type that long encryption key every time you reboot your computer. If it is not locked down then ..WHY ISN'T IT!!! We are protecting your credit cards, bank account and stock trading account ....IT BETTER BE LOCKED DOWN!
-- or you could use the cable to connect.... get the idea :) ---
SECOND - Will your computer boot from the CD-ROM drive? It is a setting in the bios and we will ignore it for now. We will just try it out and if it fails then we will fix it. Just mentioning it here so we are aware of it.
Let's Try It out
Put the CD in your computer and boot it. If your computer ignores the CD then you need to change the settings in your bios. If you do not know how to do this ...well I am not going to tell you. Get your techie friend back over, load up with some beers and have them fix it. It takes a few keystrokes to set the bios to boot from the CD. They will enjoy the beer and pizza you sprang for in order to protect your bank and stock accounts as well as all those credit cards you have registered at those retailers.
When it boots you might get asked some questions, best off just hitting enter. If it doesn't work, try again but this time read the questions. I have never had to change the settings on either Ubuntu or Knoppix and I have run these on many computers.
Both versions have short-cuts to Firefox so just mouse-over the icons and read the tool tips to find Firefox. Click it and check out your Internet connection.
Well you are either surfing the Internet with the greatest Ultimate Spyware/Virus Blocker or you are on the phone to your favorite geek pandering them with beer and pizza so they will get this fantastic system running. What ever you do ...don't give up because the whole world of nasty people are trying to steal your money via the Internet.
1) When doing banking, shopping, other secure stuff REBOOT. Start fresh and take no detours to the sites you are doing business with. REMEMBER - Using a LiveCD does not protect you from getting infected, it prevents you from staying infected.
If the merchant site you are doing business with requires MS Internet Explorer - STOP DOING BUSINESS WITH THEM!
3) If your Internet Service Provider offers you some free web pages, use them to post your favorite bookmarks. You can open up that page in a tab within Firefox and you can have all your favorite bookmarks handy. Remember you cannot save anything to your hard drive.
If you cannot create a personal web page with your favorite bookmarks you can write an email to yourself and open it up to get to your links whenever you are online.
4) To get your Office files off your computer you could email them to yourself, or put them on a web site you may have. It is possible to use one of those USB thumb drives but there you go saving stuff onto a hard drive, I thought we were trying to get away from that. I will be writing about how to do it safely in the future.
5) Why ever browse the Internet without using a LiveCD? Most computers sold in the past 3 years are able to run a LiveCD which is excellent for web browsing.
6) Keep checking in , I will be posting a follow up to this with some other cools stuff you can do with these LiveCD's. Like you could carry your whole computer in a shirt pocket with traveling! And some of the fun stuff that is on them besides web browsing.
That is it for now, I hope I have helped you.