Thursday, October 29, 2009

5 New Technologies That Will Change Everything

3D TV, HTML5, video over Wi-Fi, superfast USB, and mobile "augmented reality" will emerge as breakthrough technologies

Five new technologies are on their way that will give users unprecedented access to data thanks to new high-speed connections and user interfaces.

First, USB 3.0 is a new standard that preserves backward compatibility by allowing older cables to plug into new jacks, but features an extra pin that boosts the data rate to 4.8 Gbps. USB 3.0, dubbed SuperSpeed by the USB Implementers Forum, can transfer a 30 GB video in just over a minute.

Second, by 2012, two new wireless protocols--802.11ac and 802.11ad--should be able to provide over-the-air data transmissions of 1 Gbps or faster. The faster wireless data rate will enable users to stream multiple high-definition videos throughout a room or house.

Third, the next wave of next-generation TVs will allow viewers to experience three-dimensional (3D) videos at home. 3D TVs are likely to rely on alternating left-eye and right-eye views for successive frames. Many HDTVs already operate at 120 Hz, so the ability to alternate left and right eye images far faster than the human eye can see is already available. This type of 3D viewing will require glasses that use rapid shutters to alternate the view to each eye, but TV manufacturers also are working on 3D sets that do not require glasses.

Fourth, augmented reality in mobile devices will become increasingly popular as consumers expect to be able to receive information on any subject in any location. Researchers also are developing contact lenses capable of projecting images into someone's sight.

Finally, HTML5 promises to do away with browser conformity issues and the need for audio, video, and interactive plug-ins. HTML5 will enable designers to create Web sites that work the same on every browser and give users a better and faster Web experience.

Refer here to read more details.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Tracking Devious Phishing Websites

Researchers are monitoring a trick that makes it harder to track and shut down fraudulent websites.

Internet security experts have discovered that many phishers are using a trick called a flux, which allows a fake Web site to rapidly change its URL, making it difficult for defenders to block phishing sites or warn unsuspecting users. New research has found that about 10 percent of phishing sites are now using flux.

Indiana University professor Minaxi Gupta says that because phishers often have access to thousands of hijacked machines they can quickly move a site around the Internet, protecting it from security professionals while keeping the fake site operational. To use a flux, phishers must control a domain name, giving them the right to control its name server. The phisher can then set the name server so it directs each new visitor to a different set of machines, rapidly cycling through the thousands of addresses available within its botnet. If the name server also is moved to different locations on the Internet, it is particularly difficult for defenders to pinpoint a central location where the fake site can be shut down.

There are some legitimate reasons for using a flux, but a legitimate flux looks different from a flux on a botnet. Shortening the detection time of phishing sites by even a few hours can make a major difference and make the scams less profitable for criminals.

Refer here to read more details.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Defeat keyloggers on unsecure computer terminals

Can freeware provide the privacy you need?

Neo’s SafeKeys is a small program that helps to defeat keyloggers on unsecure computer terminals. It's is perfect for travel – use it in internet cafes, the office or even at home as protection against stealth keylogging programs that can be installed without your knowledge. It is a custom-made tool that allows for you to mouse-click your password on an on-screen keyboard.

Neo's SafeKeys 2008 displays a small window with a simulated keyboard on which you can type your sign-in, password, and other information. Neo's SafeKeys 2008 doesn't transmit information in a way that can be picked up by keyloggers. Nor does the program use the Clipboard. Instead, you type your info in the SafeKeys 2008 window and then drag the data to the appropriate text box in your browser.

Neo's SafeKeys 2008 successfully evaded the All In One Keylogger product in my tests. Other options help you foil keyloggers that regularly take screen captures to record your PC activities. According to the Alpin Software site, however, the utility's drag-and-drop methods don't work with all products — including the Opera browser.

No product will ever be able to guarantee your safety from snoops when you use a public computer. Here are the few advantages of Neo's Safekeys 2008:

  • Unlike the Windows on-screen keyboard, Neo’s SafeKeys does not translate on-screen key presses to actual key presses (the Windows on-screen keyboard does not protect you against keyloggers)
  • You don’t use your keyboard (keyloggers cannot record the password)

  • The utility changes width and height each time, as well as its placement on the screen (to fool mouse-loggers, buttons will always be in different positions each time you use the program)

  • Nothing is stored in the clipboard (clipboard loggers cannot save the password).
  • You can use upper-case letters and symbols (such as !@#${}) by pressing the CAP button – no matter how complex your password is, the utility can type it.

I highly recommend all my readers to download Neo's Safekey 2008 and protect yourself from malicious programs such as Trojans/keyloggers, which can steal your confidential information.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Bank Dumped Customer Records

M&T Branch in MD Mistakenly Tosses Data in Dumpster

A local branch of M & T Bank in Rodgers Forge, MD was found to have tossed 52 customer records into a dumpster last week. The bank says the records were dumped inadvertently.
The exposure was revealed after a local news crew from an ABC affiliate went "dumpster diving" in the bank branch's dumpster and found the records.

M&T has contacted federal and state regulators about the breach and has issued new account numbers and free credit monitoring to the customers involved in the 52 records that were dumped. "We are conducting an extensive internal investigation, and at this point, it appears to be an isolated circumstance involving a single human error," Hosmer concludes.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Prototype Security Software Blocks DDoS Attacks

Security researchers show lightweight, host-based access-control scheme that dumps attack packets without overwhelming memory, CPU

Auburn University researchers have developed a software filter that protects computers against distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks without bogging down the computer's CPU and memory. The identity-based privacy-protected access control filter (IPCAF) also wards against session hijacking, dictionary attacks, and man-in-the-middle attacks.

Instead of warding against IP addresses, which can be faked by hijackers, IPCAF sends a user ID and password to computer users and the Web site they are attempting to access. Then the two parties create fake IDs and values for each packet so that each one is double-checked. Computers check the value in each packet and choose whether to accept it or not. Only then are more memory and CPU resources used to deal with them.

The researchers say that IPCAF also is useful because it does not rely on separate and expensive applications that bog down memory. Instead it uses servers and client machines without affecting computer use. IPCAF uses hash-based message authentication code to create the value it will use to confirm every single packet, which saves CPU power.

When testing IPCAF, Security researchers found that the computer network was only stalled by 30 nanoseconds during an attack through a 10Gbps connection.

Refer here to read more details about the research.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Big-name sites still serving up malicious ads

The ads served by Bing and Google along with your search results are linking more and more often to sites trying to infect your machine.

Neither Bing nor Google effectively prescreens these bogus advertisers, so it's up to us to detect and avoid them.

You may recently have used either Google or Microsoft's new Bing search engine to find the popular Malwarebytes Anti-Malware utility or something similar. If so, chances are good that the sponsored ads alongside your search results contained links to the very malware that the security tool is designed to remove.

The three largest search sites — Google, Yahoo, and Bing — regularly sell security-related keywords to criminals looking to trick you into downloading and installing fake anti-malware products. The crooks then steal your personal information or hold your system for ransom before letting you remove their malware from your machine.

The search providers have been aware of this for years. To their discredit, they've done little to end the practice, even though it's in their power to do so. The reason? They're making money hand over fist from those sponsored text ads and don't want to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.

Unfortunately, balancing the scales of justice takes time. What can you do in the meantime to help protect yourself from these malicious ads?

Don't expect flawless protection from your Web browser of choice. Internet Explorer, Firefox, and other browsers now support bad-sites lists, but every malicious ad server may not be known. Nor are browser security add-ons perfect. McAfee SiteAdvisor, for instance, may include results that are up to one year old.

If you're not sure, verify the URL. Microsoft and Google have large payrolls, but the search giants don't employ literal armies to review ad submissions. If you're at all suspicious of an ad's legitimacy, check the URL via a service such as hpHosts, which tracks domain names that researchers have reported as malicious.

Help vendors by reporting malicious advertisers. To report bogus ads on Google, e-mail security at This is likely to be more effective than reporting the site via the search giant's online form. If you discover malware purveyors advertising in Bing's results, e-mail secure at Yahoo, however, offers only a Security Phishing Report Form. I beleive Microsoft or Google should come up with the similar solution.

I do hope that Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo can put their differences aside and correct this situation. In the meantime, be careful when you search and be suspicious of sponsored links. Too many of them are fictitious these days — and dangerous.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Microsoft striked back with Security Essentials - MSE

Microsoft's new security suite is one of the best in market - Highly Recommended

Fast, full-featured, and free, Microsoft's new security suite is drawing accolades from experts and howls of agony from competitors. If you're tired of your bloated and expensive security suite exhorting/extorting you for more money — and you can't stomach the way free AV products try to scare you into paying — it's time to try something new and better from an unexpected source.

Last week, Microsoft released the final version of Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE). The initial reports are remarkably upbeat, particularly for a Microsoft product labeled "version 1.0."

MSE takes over antivirus and antispyware duties while tossing in antirootkit features for good measure. If you have Windows Defender installed — Defender is a separate download for XP but comes with Vista and Windows 7 — MSE zaps it. There's no need for Defender if MSE is running.

Microsoft provides on its Security Essentials page downloads for 32-bit XP, 32- and 64-bit Vista, and 32- and 64-bit Windows 7. The correct version for your system will be selected automatically. Note, however, that there's no MSE version for 64-bit XP.

In order to install MSE, your PC has to pass Microsoft's Windows Genuine Advantage validation hurdle. (You've gotta wonder at how many bots out there are running on pirated copies of Win XP, which can't get MSE and other Microsoft updates.)

MSE conducts periodic scans and real-time malware monitoring. The program vets e-mail attachments and file downloads, too. By default, MSE deletes high-threat malware and asks for your permission to either delete or quarantine lesser threats. In general, the program does everything you'd expect an antivirus, antimalware, and/or antirootkit product to do.

The press likes to say that MSE is a stripped-down version of the late, unlamented Microsoft OneCare, a payola product I've deplored for years. As best I can tell, MSE has almost nothing in common with OneCare — except its target audience of individual users.

MSE is based on Microsoft's Forefront technology, which is designed to protect an enterprise's large servers. As a consumer product, however, MSE gains inspiration from Microsoft's Malicious Software Removal Tool — a utility that's capable, targeted, and silent.

By the way, Microsoft maintains an active support forum for MSE on the Microsoft Answers site.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Researchers Hijack a Drive-By Botnet

6,500 websites hosting malicious code that redirected nearly 340,000 visitors to malicious sites.

A recent University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB) study examined the damaging effects of the computer-infecting Mebroot botnet. The Mebroot botnet network corrupts normal Web sites and redirects their visitors to a domain that tries to infect their computers with malware. Once infected, the computers can be controlled by Mebroot programmers.

The Mebroot botnet is difficult to track because programmers change the domain name daily using three Javascript algorithms similar to one used by the computer worm Conficker. Two of the algorithms use the day's date as a variable, but the third uses characters from the day's most popular key word search on Twitter. This is difficult for antivirus programmers to predict, making it harder to protect computers from invasion.

"It is definitely one of the most advanced and professional botnets out there," says F-Secure's Kimmo Kasslin. UCSB researchers tried to use the algorithms against the Mebroot programmers, predicting upcoming domain names and booking them ahead of time, but the attackers responded by reserving the names more quickly. The researchers found that almost 70 percent of visitors to dangerous Mebroot domains were exposed to about 40 different methods of infection.

About 35 percent were exposed to the six vulnerabilities that Mebroot uses. I strongly suggests and recommends that all computer users need to update their antivirus software more frequently to avoid infection.

Refer here to read more details about the research.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

By 2040 You Will Be Able to Upload Your Brain...

"a person's entire personality, memory, skills and history", by the end of the 2030s

Inventor and visionary Ray Kurzweil has drawn admiration and scorn in equal measure for his prediction of imminent revolutionary innovations such as the overtaking of human intelligence by artificial intelligence, three-dimensional printers that can fabricate physical objects from a data file and cheap input materials, and an indefinite lifespan free of senescence.

He anticipates that it will be possible to upload the human brain from a computer by the end of the 2030s, while human intelligence will evolve through technological enhancement to the point where it will start to expand outward to the universe in the 2040s. Kurzweil is the author of a book, The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology, in which he envisions a singularity, or what he calls "a future period during which the pace of technological change will be so rapid, its impact so deep, that human life will be irreversibly transformed."

The singularity hinges on the exponential rate at which technology is advancing, according to Kurzweil. He is a director of the nonprofit Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence, which is touted as "the only organization that exists for the expressed purpose of achieving the potential of smarter-than-human intelligence safer and sooner."

Refer here to read the interesting research.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Pedestrian crossings could be monitored

Intelligent surveillance system able to detect aberrant behaviour by drivers and people

A surveillance system for monitoring whether cars and pedestrians are acting normally at crosswalks has been developed by researchers at Spain's University of Castilla-La Mancha (UCLM). "We have developed an intelligence surveillance software and related theoretical model in order to define 'normality' in any setting one wishes to monitor, such as a traffic scenario," says UCLM's David Vallejo.

Normal behavior is defined as moving when lights are green, and stopping and not crossing safety lines when they are red. The artificial intelligence system makes use of software agents to monitor pedestrian crossings. The team developed the monitoring tool to determine the effectiveness of its model. "In this way we are able to identify any drivers and pedestrians behaving abnormally, meaning the program could be used in order to penalize such behaviors," Vallejo says.

The researchers say the intelligent surveillance system also could be used to analyze behavior indoors, such as at museums, or to detect overcrowding.

Please refer here to read more details.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Control malicious apps with DEP in IE

DEP helps block malware in Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer 8 includes a security feature that shuts down misbehaving applications before they can harm your system. This capability, known as Data Execution Prevention (DEP), runs by default when IE 8 is installed on XP SP3 and Vista SP1 or later, but it may not always be clear to you why DEP has put the brakes on one of your PC's applications.

DEP is the best reason I know for updating to Internet Explorer 8 and Vista SP1. For many years, Microsoft has included DEP — which is also called No-Execute (NX) — only in parts of Windows. For example, DEP is available in IE 7 but is off by default to avoid conflicts with old, incompatible programs.DEP is now a key part of Vista and Internet Explorer 8. When I try to install older software on newer machines, I must configure Data Execution Prevention to allow the software installer to run with DEP disabled.

To open the Data Execution Prevention dialog in XP, open Control Panel, choose System, and then select the Advanced tab. Click the Settings button in the Performance section and select the Data Execution Prevention tab. In Vista, choose Performance Information and Tools, click Advanced Tools in the left pane, select Adjust the appearance and performance of Windows, and click the Data Execution Prevention tab.

For instance, when I install QuickBooks 2007 on Windows Server 2008, I have to exclude under the DEP tab the QuickBooks updating tool in order to install it on the server. Keep in mind that the only reason I'm doing so is because I trust Intuit, the publisher of QuickBooks. If I didn't change the settings, DEP would prevent me from installing an older version of this software on the newer system.
If I didn't already trust the vendor, I'd look for valid reasons why DEP was blocking the installation before I took the step of changing any DEP settings. In most instances, good, up-to-date software shouldn't need to be excluded from DEP.

Since IE 7, Microsoft has used DEP to help thwart online attacks in the browser itself. What the company didn't do until IE 8, though, was to enable DEP by default. Prior to IE 8, DEP was disabled by default for compatibility reasons, as documented on the IE blog. Many older IE add-ons were built using earlier versions of the Active Template Libraries (ATL). They aren't compatible with DEP, therefore, and crash when IE loads them.

When DEP is enabled and combined with Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR), IE's ability to protect against Web-based attacks improves considerably. In a nutshell, ASLR is designed to make it harder for automatic attacks to occur. You can read more about ASLR in the MSDN blog.

Specifically, ASLR helps prevent exploits both in IE and in any add-ons that are loaded. Even with the new security protections in IE 7 and 8, the browser is still targeted more often by malware authors than other browsers. This has caused security pundits to state, as Wired's Brian X. Chen does on the Gadget Lab blog, that Apple's new Snow Leopard operating system is "less secure than Windows, but safer."

(If you use Snow Leopard, I encourage you to update your system to OS X version 10.6.1. This includes a patch for the insecure Adobe Flash Player that Snow Leopard shipped with, as documented in an Apple security update.)

There are many protections built into Internet Explorer 8 that may be considered just another annoying browser crash when seen in action.