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Welcome to MicaMagazine!

A place to relax and read some articles about computers, security and the Internet.

When you go on-line, you must pay attention to what is happening to your machine, the websites that request information from you and the email you receive. The internet can be a lot of fun but it can be very destructive to you and me both!

Mica Magazine will try to expose some of the alarming tricks, along with providing articles & news about the web of tomorrow.


Table of Contents

  • Security Settings Make for a Safe Lockdown.
  • Malware on steroids.
  • Windows Vista.
  • Official Agencies involved in the safe operation of the Internet Technologies.
  • Browser Bazaar.
  • Why is this thing broken down, again?
  • Don't Go Phishing!
  • Be on the Look out!
  • Disk Defragmenter and your machine.
  • Your ISP as Net watchdog.
  • The proposed .xxx domain.
  • Careful or they'll hear your password.
  • History of the Internet.
  • Modem Redialing.
  • Security Check.
  • Security of the Internet.



Security Settings Make for a Safe Lockdown

by James E. Clemens II

TOPIC: Security

Today we are under attack and must act now to prevent some new variant of “Auto-Bots” from destroying the web and all communications. When your computer is infected by robot-like Spyware, web bugs or any of the many variants of ‘Malware’, they own the data files on that system. They can do anything you can do sitting right in front of your machine. They could shut off any service or delete any file as they wish. You have lost control and when we continue to loose control of our machines, we cause more “denial of service” attacks and system shut downs on machines across the globe. They effect business transactions and government functions as well. It costs all of us something and at some point it could cost us the web.

What I am saying is that if we continue to let things go then the internet will become clogged with filth and become unstable; a sluggish system full of contaminated bots. However the internet is needed in far too many applications and would be revived by and for the corporations, with the help of the government. The rest of us would have some sub-internet database with a few thousand pages of secure, censored sites with no individualism-- creative talent would be silenced. We can do a lot to stop the assault on our machines! We can turn things around and take control from the bad guys who write destructive computer code. If we do that then we can shape the internet in a responsible fashion and will not need to "overhaul it," as is being discussed by the government and about a dozen top computing corporations. Microsoft included several security settings to help make for a safe lockdown and what they did not include, we have the resources to hook you up!

It is widely known that most home computer users do not set up security on their machines. Those are the machines being used to attack other machines, including the government sites. If we lock down our computers/machines, we will simply stop most of the bad things on the internet from happening!

That’s pretty serious stuff if you ask me. You can make a BIG difference and hopefully you will take part today securing your personal data and the government’s data, and all the while stopping most of the computer problems that are driving you nuts anyway. Stay here with us and learn how to lockdown your machine.

Official Agencies involved in the safe operation of the Internet Technologies

ICANN ~ Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.

FTC ~ Federal Trade Commission.

AntiSpyware Coalition ~ Newly formed agency to set standards within the community.

US-CERT ~ United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team.

USAO ~ United States Attorney's Office.

CyberTipLine ~ The official website for illegal content reporting.

SANS ~ The SANS (SysAdmin, Audit, Network, Security) Institute.

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Malware on steroids

by Eddie DiJerome

Topic: Rootkits

Have you been fighting to keep up with all this malware lately? Well things have become even more concerning with the old problem of ‘rootkits’ being adapted to new-age malware. Maybe you remember “rootkits” from the past. They are programs designed to conceal their presence within your operating system, along with any other program files written to work with it, like malicious software and viruses. They can hide from you and your scanners and use your system resources, while telling you nothing is being used and everything is great. They do this by installing themselves as a trusted system process, allowing them to do whatever they want. Consider your Windows Media Player. You have given it a safe pass and now it can use system resources, open files, and play them at will. It does whatever it needs to do in order to play your music, without telling you what it is doing. This can become a very serious problem, so if you have not locked down your machine, you may want to do so now!

If you have been a regular visitor to our site, you have probably protected yourself from most threats and need just a few simple free tools to check your machine from infections. The first place to start is Microsoft Research/Rootkits to learn about the new information Microsoft has found out about these threats, along with the “Strider GhostBuster” tool.

Another product available for free is the ‘Blacklight beta’ tool. The use of this program will make you feel better about your machine, if you get a clean scan. The more Rootkits attack Windows users, the more scanning tools will become available, so expect to hear more about these tools soon. We will keep you informed about the growing threat of rootkits, so check back and follow our free advice to ‘scrub-up™’-- and whatever you do, keep your machine in ‘Lockdown™’ mode!

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Windows Vista

by James E. Clemens II

Topic: Operating Systems

Everyday, we rely on our computers to perform thousands of tasks. We expect great things from our machines at a moments notice. We load megabyte after megabyte of data and new software on a daily basis, installing printers and cameras and new hardware along way. Working on letters to grandma and crunching million dollar contracts effortlessly. Spending hundreds of dollars and endless energy to connect it and make it work.

And yet, through all of this, the most important and overworked component is the operating system. Major advances in computer technology can only be appreciated when combined with new hardware & software. As computers advance, we must keep pace with them by upgrading our machines.

And when it comes to the technology of tomorrow, no other company has spent more time or money than Microsoft. And in January 2007, Windows Vista will bring a breath of fresh air and a window with a view!

Windows Vista is scaled in six different versions to allow the best fit for your needs. Which will provide an easier transition for consumers wanting to experience the new advances without the need of interacting with settings needed in different environments, such as corporate, institutions, governments, and poorer nations around the world. Regardless of the version you use, they all have the security and strength of Vista!

Windows Vista Business
» Regardless of the size of your organization, Windows Vista Business will help you lower your PC management costs, improve your security, enhance your productivity, and help you stay better connected.

Windows Vista Enterprise
» Windows Vista Enterprise is designed to meet the needs of large global organizations with highly complex IT infrastructures. Windows Vista Enterprise can help you lower your IT costs while providing additional layers of protection for your sensitive data.

Windows Vista Home Premium
» Whether you choose to use your PC to write e-mail and surf the Internet, for home entertainment, or to track your household expenses, Windows Vista Home Premium delivers a more complete and satisfying computing experience.

Windows Vista Ultimate
» If you want all of the best business features, all of the best mobility features, and all of the best home entertainment features that Windows Vista has to offer, Windows Vista Ultimate is the solution for you. With Windows Vista Ultimate you don't have to compromise.

Windows Vista Home Basic
» Windows Vista Home Basic is designed to deliver improved reliability, security, and usability to home PC users who just want to do the basics with their PCs.

~ Microsoft

The word Vista is defined as "view" and the view is something spectacular. The new look is really sharp and makes working long hours on a machine much more fun. Vista is not just fun, but it will save you time in performing daily tasks while maintaining the ability to handle several programs at once with ease. The new 64bit platform makes total use of the latest dual-core 64bit chips being offered by Intel and AMD. Watch a movie, crunch financial reports, surf the web, play a game, and publish your website - all at the same time! These things and so much more are capable with Windows Vista.

» InfoCard is the code name for a WinFX component that provides the consistent user experience required by the identity metasystem. It is specifically hardened against tampering and spoofing to protect the end user's digital identities and maintain end-user control.

» Windows Communication Foundation (formerly code-named "Indigo") is a set of .NET technologies for building and running connected systems. It is a new breed of communications infrastructure built around the Web services architecture.

» The Microsoft Windows Presentation Foundation (formerly code named "Avalon") provides the foundation for building applications and high fidelity experiences in Longhorn, blending together application UI, documents, and media content, while exploiting the full power of your computer.

»Windows Workflow Foundation is the programming model, engine and tools for quickly building workflow enabled applications on Windows. It consists of a WinFX namespace, an in-process workflow engine, and designers for Visual Studio 2005.

~ Microsoft

Serious technology for the extreme demands of today, tomorrow and beyond. And when we think of the passing time, most of us will edit and save thousands of precious memories on our machines. Windows Vista will make quick fun out of tasks like these. Just as the name says, the view is outstanding. Photos jump off the pages and movies that are smooth and clear. Windows Vista performs very well while offering a new level of security and safety while surfing the web.

Look for this exciting new operating system in January 2007. Until then, check back with us here or at www.vistamachine.org our new website designed to cover everything Vista, just like we do here for Windows XP! And remember that the Vista beta program is underway and most of the information offered by the mainstream media is quite a ways of base from the public version in 2007. I have beta tested many products for Microsoft and know from experience that they change for the best as they work through the beta process. We will provide credible information from Microsoft without the spin created by unworthy sources.

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Browser Bazaar

by James E. Clemens II

Topic: Web Browsers

Let me guess, you're thinking more about security and are even considering changing browsers to make surfing fun again. You hear all the talk about new browsers that are better than your current "Internet Explorer." Well one of the options would be “Opera,” “Mozilla,” or the newest free internet browser, “Firefox.” They all work great as a ’back-up,’ but will they solve your problems or simply swap them for different problems? If Microsoft is your operating system, one would think that they would have a excellent browser. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, the default browser that came with your system, is the most used, developed and accepted by websites. Because of the widespread use of the Internet Explorer, it seems to catch a lot of attention. From critics to hackers, Internet Explorer is in the spotlight. Many people have attacked Microsoft for including this product with their operating systems.

This is yet another attempt to force Microsoft to shed these free programs and let other vendors pre-install their products (see the ‘Complaint Column’ on the ‘pause’ page). I like IE over the others because they work well with most websites. Their general functions are smooth and reliable, and work as expected. Some of the other browsers do not display content correctly. And many sites only write code to work with IE, so you have to consider that as well. They do this because 94% of computers use “IE” as their preferred way to surf the web the web. Just a few years ago, before the war on Microsoft, IE held a 97% market share on browsers.

With that in mind, I still think all surfers should have a ‘back-up’ for trouble-shooting and repairs. If something happens to your existing copy of IE, you will need a browser to go online and download a new copy of IE! Malware could corrupt your files or steal your only browser and you would be knocked off the air, unable to surf. By having a back-up browser with different coding, you give yourself another option if you get attacked. All malicious software is written for a specific program, exploiting some kind of security hole discovered and published within the hacker network. Regardless to what you hear, there are security holes in every browser on the market.

I recommend picking a second browser to install for your convenience. I Have tried all three listed, along with several others. The “Firefox” would be a great choice and at press time M.I.C.A. would call it ‘very safe’ to download and use. It has certainly captured a lot of attention lately. The program has a clean look and many of the same features as IE. I would even say, “it’s the closest thing to I.E. you will find.” It is built on the Mozilla browser foundation, but without the excessive features associated with Mozilla (note: Firefox is owned and developed by Mozilla).

My third place choice is “Opera” because it works well with most sites. It offers a lot of control over security issues, like the Firefox browser. It tells you what is happening as you surf and will let you trick sites into thinking you are really “IE”. This feature will allow sites to work a little smoother when, in some cases, Opera would not have worked at all! Your machine really should have all 3 browsers to complete your surfing needs.

I think the best option would be to write web coding in a generic way, to work with any browser. We all lose when website developers set up their sites limiting what software we use.

As a website & software developer, I want my guests to be able to use my site with the most primitive computer. And at the same time, if they have the latest up-to-date machine, I want to give them active media content, like java, to enjoy. It should be offered to those who have it, but NEVER required. I think new products like Firefox will ultimately make more sites compatible with other basic browsers. And this will help bring new and exciting software to the market.

So in a nut shell, we need "all the browsers we can get our bandwidth on."

Get Firefox!

Click the button to download the latest version of the Firefox web browser.

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Why is this thing broken down, again?

by Eddie DiJerome

TOPIC: Security

Stop and think for a moment how most computers, infected with malware, get that way.

Around 80% are the cause of not updating programs, weak or no passwords and not setting up security on your computer for on-line use. The scanners you buy are important tools to find viruses and other malware after you become infected, however they offer little protection against infection. You need a firewall for that and you need your browser settings set up correctly to start with. Next you need Microsoft to update your operating system as often as needed. Now you're ready to go into 'Lockdown' mode, so that you can know your machine is secure.

Security should be everyone's first task when thinking about surfing the web. Remember your machine will be used to attack my machine so we must all work together to fight this. Please help stop the destruction of the greatest learning tool one could have. We will lose so much, including another freedom, if we let the web become unstable and unreliable because of malware. The government and corporations are ready to take the web over, as it is vital to their operations. Every machine counts and we need to prevent yours from becoming a carrier of some nasty disease. Things will not change without your help.

We hope you will consider learning about ‘Windows XP home edition’ and all of the vast settings Microsoft included to help battle the bad guys. We will show you step by step what to do. This will cost you nothing and we promise to move at a slow, steady pace you can follow.

So what’s your excuse? Visit us often and keep up to date on everything to do with windows XP security.

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Don't Go phishing

by James E. Clemens II

TOPIC: Security

Protect yourself from e-mail phishing scams by never using the "contact information" (web address, mailing address, phone numbers, fax numbers) included in e-mails sent to you about sensitive matters like banking and other personal accounts.

No matter how perfect it may look, it is probably a fake. Most companies do not request information with e-mail. They would simple ask you to come in or call your normal customer service rep to discuss your account. Plus, do not forget how easy it is to copy and paste logos and other company branding, so do not trust what you are looking at. If it says it is your bank and your account is locked for security or whatever other reason and they need you to verify your information, just use YOUR contact information and never what is in the e-mail. They love to make it convenient by offering links to click and even phone and fax numbers for you to use. Please get in the habit of using the contact info on your statement or other known secure sources. Call the branch you normally do business with and ask about the e-mail. You can get web addresses and any other contact information from them as well.

If you always follow this advice, you will never become a victim and you will help put the bad guys out of business.

We hope you will report this type of computer activity the Department of Justice/FTC*.

*The FTC maintains a consumer complaint database of violations of the laws that the FTC enforces. Consumers can submit complaints online at Federal Trade Commission or forward unwanted commercial email to the FTC at spam@uce.gov.

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Be on the Look out!

by Eddie DiJerome

TOPIC: Security

Have you sent some one a electronic card through your email or let some website send one for you? Well if you did you probably sent a extra gift unknown to you and the recipient. E-cards are known to exploit the graphics in the message and hide trojans and spyware onto the system receiving the card.

They are responsible for a lot of malware spreading like key loggers. So skip the eCard idea and go for something else to show your love and everyone will be much happier. Even the better websites that offer eCard services seem to have problems with viruses so you should be careful at 'ALL eCard offers.'

You can make your own cards with Microsoft Office and later send it as a attachment to a nice e-mail message. Office 2003 has a nice feature in their publisher program called e-mail newsletter. It will create a personal newsletter or info page or even a one-page website to share your thoughts. These are safe and fun to use and you will learn how to use a excellent software program that can handle all of your publishing needs. What ever you choose to go with, skip the eCards and save everyone the trouble.

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Disk Defragmenter and your machine

by Eddie DiJerome

TOPIC: Performance & Maintenance

If you have followed our lockdown principles to scrub up your machine, you know we recommend running disk defragmenter every 5 days. Do you know that a fragmented disk is the single biggest cause of sluggish behavior, after malware infection? When you are fragmented, your machine is having to work extremely hard to keep up with your requests. Everything you click causes your machine to slow and work much harder. You will have longer wait times, errors and eventually a new hard drive, without running disk defragmenter on a regular cycle! You already do so much to protect your files from outside threats, why not finish up with a little maintenance!

Here at M.I.C.A. we like to use simple examples to explain complicated computer issues. Consider if you will, going to the mall and parking your car on the north side, close to the door. After several hours of shopping, you go to the the spot you left your car, but it is not there. You spend much time looking and then go around the parking lot, looking some more. After searching the closer areas to where you thought you parked, you go to a security guard for help. He drives you around the whole mall parking lot to verify your car is gone. At the last minute you find your car. On your way home, you call your family to tell them what had happened. To your surprise, you are told that your daughter came by and used the car for a quick errand. She thought she parked the car back in your exact spot (which of course was a different spot). By the time you are in your car and calmed down from searching so hard, you have wasted 3 hours and a considerable amount of energy. Well, you have just went through a fragmented example!

This is what your machine is doing, every time you click on something or you try to do the most basic task. It is searching the most likely location first and then searching the complete drive until it finds the required information. This is wasting time, energy and wearing your disk drive down! Accessing data from your hard drive is the slowest process with any computer. You need to help your disk drive, so it can help you. You need to defrag your machine weekly, which will save your disk drive from failure.

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Your ISP as Net watchdog

by Declan McCullagh, CNET

TOPIC: Privacy

The U.S. Department of Justice is quietly shopping around the explosive idea of requiring Internet service providers to retain records of their customers' online activities.

Data retention rules could permit police to obtain records of e-mail chatter, Web browsing or chat-room activity months after Internet providers ordinarily would have deleted the logs--that is, if logs were ever kept in the first place. No U.S. law currently mandates that such logs be kept.

In theory, at least, data retention could permit successful criminal and terrorism prosecutions that otherwise would have failed because of insufficient evidence. But privacy worries and questions about the practicality of assembling massive databases of customer behavior have caused a similar proposal to stall in Europe and could engender stiff opposition domestically.

In Europe, the Council of Justice and Home Affairs ministers say logs must be kept for between one and three years. One U.S. industry representative, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Justice Department is interested in at least a two-month requirement.

Justice Department officials endorsed the concept at a private meeting with Internet service providers and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, according to interviews with multiple people who were present. The meeting took place on April 27 at the Holiday Inn Select in Alexandria, Va.

"It was raised not once but several times in the meeting, very emphatically," said Dave McClure, president of the U.S. Internet Industry Association, which represents small to midsize companies. "We were told, 'You're going to have to start thinking about data retention if you don't want people to think you're soft on child porn.'" McClure said that while the Justice Department representatives argued that Internet service providers should cooperate voluntarily, they also raised the "possibility that we should create by law a standard period of data retention." McClure added that "my sense was that this is something that they've been working on for a long time."

This represents an abrupt shift in the Justice Department's long-held position that data retention is unnecessary and imposes an unacceptable burden on Internet providers. In 2001, the Bush administration expressed "serious reservations about broad mandatory data retention regimes."

The current proposal appears to originate with the Justice Department's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, which enforces federal child pornography laws. But once mandated by law, the logs likely would be mined during terrorism, copyright infringement and even routine criminal investigations. (The Justice Department did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.)

"Preservation" vs. "Retention"

At the moment, Internet service providers typically discard any log file that's no longer required for business reasons such as network monitoring, fraud prevention or billing disputes. Companies do, however, alter that general rule when contacted by police performing an investigation--a practice called data preservation.

A 1996 federal law called the Electronic Communication Transactional Records Act regulates data preservation. It requires Internet providers to retain any "record" in their possession for 90 days "upon the request of a governmental entity."

Child protection advocates say that this process can lead police to dead ends if they don't move quickly enough and log files are discarded automatically. Also, many Internet service providers don't record information about instant-messaging conversations or Web sites visited--data that would prove vital to an investigation.

"Law enforcement agencies are often having 20 reports referred to them a week by the National Center," said Michelle Collins, director of the exploited child unit for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. "By the time legal process is drafted, it could be 10, 15, 20 days. They're completely dependent on information from the ISPs to trace back an individual offender."

Collins, who participated in the April meeting, said that she had not reached a conclusion about how long log files should be retained. "There are so many various business models...I don't know that there's going to be a clear-cut answer to what would be the optimum amount of time for a company to maintain information," she said.

McClure, from the U.S. Internet Industry Association, said he counter-proposed the idea of police agencies establishing their own guidelines that would require them to seek logs soon after receiving tips.

Marc Rotenberg, director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, compared the Justice Department's idea to the since-abandoned Clipper Chip, a brainchild of the Clinton and first Bush White House. Initially the Clipper Chip--an encryption system with a backdoor for the federal government--was supposed to be voluntary, but declassified documents show that backdoors were supposed to become mandatory.

"Even if your concern is chasing after child pornographers, the packets don't come pre-labeled that way," Rotenberg said. "What effectively happens is that all ISP customers, when that data is presented to the government, become potential targets of subsequent investigations."

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The proposed .xxx domain

By ANICK JESDANUN, AP Internet Writer

TOPIC: Internet

NEW YORK - Acknowledging "unprecedented" opposition, the U.S. government has asked the Internet's key oversight agency to delay approval of a new ".xxx" domain name designed as a virtual red-light district.

Commerce Department, stopped short of urging its rejection, but he called on the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers to "ensure the best interests of the Internet community as a whole are fully considered."

The department received nearly 6,000 letters and e-mails expressing concerns about the impact of pornography on families and children and objecting to setting aside a domain suffix for it, he said.

"The volume of correspondence opposed to creation of a .xxx TLD (domain name) is unprecedented," Gallagher wrote to Vinton Cerf, ICANN's chairman.

Gallagher said ICANN should take more time to evaluate those concerns.

Approval of the domain name had been expected as early as Tuesday, five years after it was first proposed and two months after ICANN gave it a tentative OK. Gallagher's letter was sent last week and made public Monday.

The chairman of ICANN's Government Advisory Committee, Mohd Sharil Tarmizi, also wrote ICANN officials last week urging delay and expressing "a strong sense of discomfort" among many countries, which he did not name.

Gallagher's comments, however, carry greater weight because his agency has veto power over ICANN decisions given the U.S. government's role in funding early developing of the Internet and selecting ICANN in 1998 to oversee domain name administration.

ICANN officials did not immediately return phone and e-mail messages.

The matter remained on the published agenda for a private conference call among board members Tuesday, and ICANN typically does not disclose the outcome of such meetings for up to a week.

Two in five Internet users visited an adult site in April, according to tracking by comScore Media Metrix. The company said 4 percent of all Web traffic and 2 percent of all surfing time involved an adult site.

A Florida company, ICM Registry Inc., proposed ".xxx" as a mechanism for the $12 billion online porn industry to clean up its act. All sites using ".xxx" would be required to follow yet-to-be-written "best practices" guidelines, such as prohibitions against trickery through spamming and malicious scripts.

Use of ".xxx" would be voluntary, however.

Skeptics note that porn sites are likely to keep their existing ".com" storefronts, even as they set up shop in the new ".xxx" domain name, reducing the effectiveness of any software filters set up to simply block all ".xxx" names.

Conservative groups such as the Family Research Council also expressed worries that creating a ".xxx" suffix would also legitimize pornographers.

But ICM chairman Stuart Lawley, in a response to ICANN, pointed out that the agency already offered ample opportunity to raise objections.

"This matter has been before ICANN for five years, and very actively and publicly debated for the past 18 months," he said. "We are, to say the very least, disappointed that concerns that should have been raised and addressed weeks and months ago are being raised in the final days."

Nonetheless, he said he was open to a one-month delay so ICM can address the late objections.

Also on the agenda Tuesday was approval of a less controversial domain name, ".cat" for sites devoted to Catalan language and culture.

More than 260 domain name suffixes exist, mostly country codes such as ".fr" for France. Recent additions include ".eu" for the European Union and ".mobi" for mobile services.

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Careful or they'll hear your password

by HIAWATHA BRAY © Copyright 2005 Globe Newspaper Company.

TOPIC: Security

Computer scientists at the University of California at Berkeley have found a new way to crack computer passwords: By listening.

Professor Doug Tygar and graduate student Li Zhuang use off-the-shelf microphones to record keystroke sounds and run the noise through a modified program originally designed to recognize human speech. On its first pass, the program correctly identifies only half the typed letters. The results are then fed through software that spots spelling and grammar errors. Data from these programs are used to train the keystroke recognizer, so that it gets more accurate with each pass. By the third run, ''we get 96 percent of all the characters," said Tygar.

Tygar said that when assigned to crack a 10-digit password, the software replies with 75 possibilities. ''This means we can break into one of every 75 people's accounts, on the first try," he said.

Even more alarming, sound snoopers don't need direct access to the computer. They could aim a sensitive parabolic antenna from a building across the street. They might tap the target's telephone and collect keystroke sounds from its microphone. Many computers even have built-in microphones that ''Trojan horse" software could trick into switching on and relaying the sounds to a remote location.

Tygar said that computer users should adopt alternatives, such as ''two-factor authentication," produced by companies like RSA Security Inc. of Bedford. This method involves two passwords -- the typical kind, and a second numerical one generated by an electronic device. The second password changes once a minute.

''That sort of system would be robust against our attack," said Tygar, ''because you'd never type in the same password twice."

The research was subsidized by the US Postal Service and the National Science Foundation as part of a program to identify computer security threats.

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History of the Internet

By CERT® is a registered service mark of Carnegie Mellon University, copyright 1997.

TOPIC: Internet

The Internet began in 1969 as the ARPANET, a project funded by the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) of the U.S. Department of Defense. One of the original goals of the project was to create a network that would continue to function even if major sections of the network failed or were attacked. The ARPANET was designed to reroute network traffic automatically around problems in connecting systems or in passing along the necessary information to keep the network functioning. Thus, from the beginning, the Internet was designed to be robust against denial-of-service attacks, which are described in a section below on denial of service.

The ARPANET protocols (the rules of syntax that enable computers to communicate on a network) were originally designed for openness and flexibility, not for security. The ARPA researchers needed to share information easily, so everyone needed to be an unrestricted "insider" on the network. Although the approach was appropriate at the time, it is not one that lends itself to today's commercial and government use.

As more locations with computers (known as sites in Internet parlance) joined the ARPANET, the usefulness of the network grew. The ARPANET consisted primarily of university and government computers, and the applications supported on this network were simple: electronic mail (E-mail), electronic news groups, and remote connection to other computers. By 1971, the Internet linked about two dozen research and government sites, and researchers had begun to use it to exchange information not directly related to the ARPANET itself. The network was becoming an important tool for collaborative research.

During these years, researchers also played "practical jokes" on each other using the ARPANET. These jokes usually involved joke messages, annoying messages, and other minor security violations. Some of these are described in Steven Levy's Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution (2). It was rare that a connection from a remote system was considered an attack, however, because ARPANET users comprised a small group of people who generally knew and trusted each other.

In 1986, the first well-publicized international security incident was identified by Cliff Stoll, then of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in northern California. A simple accounting error in the computer records of systems connected to the ARPANET led Stoll to uncover an international effort, using the network, to connect to computers in the United States and copy information from them. These U.S. computers were not only at universities, but at military and government sites all over the country. When Stoll published his experience in a 1989 book, The Cuckoo's Egg (3), he raised awareness that the ARPANET could be used for destructive purposes.

In 1988, the ARPANET had its first automated network security incident, usually referred to as "the Morris worm" (4). A student at Cornell University (Ithaca, NY), Robert T. Morris, wrote a program that would connect to another computer, find and use one of several vulnerabilities to copy itself to that second computer, and begin to run the copy of itself at the new location. Both the original code and the copy would then repeat these actions in an infinite loop to other computers on the ARPANET. This "self-replicating automated network attack tool" caused a geometric explosion of copies to be started at computers all around the ARPANET. The worm used so many system resources that the attacked computers could no longer function. As a result, 10% of the U.S. computers connected to the ARPANET effectively stopped at about the same time.

By that time, the ARPANET had grown to more than 88,000 computers and was the primary means of communication among network security experts. With the ARPANET effectively down, it was difficult to coordinate a response to the worm. Many sites removed themselves from the ARPANET altogether, further hampering communication and the transmission of the solution that would stop the worm.

The Morris worm prompted the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA, the new name for ARPA) to fund a computer emergency response team, now the CERT® Coordination Center, to give experts a central point for coordinating responses to network emergencies. Other teams quickly sprang up to address computer security incidents in specific organizations or geographic regions. Within a year of their formation, these incident response teams created an informal organization now known as the Forum of Incident Response and Security Teams (FIRST). These teams and the FIRST organization exist to coordinate responses to computer security incidents, assist sites in handling attacks, and educate network users about computer security threats and preventive practices.

In 1989, the ARPANET officially became the Internet and moved from a government research project to an operational network; by then it had grown to more than 100,000 computers. Security problems continued, with both aggressive and defensive technologies becoming more sophisticated. Among the major security incidents (5) were the 1989 WANK/OILZ worm, an automated attack on VMS systems attached to the Internet, and exploitation of vulnerabilities in widely distributed programs such as the sendmail program, a complicated program commonly found on UNIX-based systems for sending and receiving electronic mail. In 1994, intruder tools were created to "sniff" packets from the network easily, resulting in the widespread disclosure of user names and password information. In 1995, the method that Internet computers use to name and authenticate each other was exploited by a new set of attack tools that allowed widespread Internet attacks on computers that have trust relationships (see the section on exploitation of trust, below) with any other computer, even one in the same room. Today the use of the World Wide Web and Web-related programming languages create new opportunities for network attacks.

Although the Internet was originally conceived of and designed as a research and education network, usage patterns have radically changed. The Internet has become a home for private and commercial communication, and at this writing it is still expanding into important areas of commerce, medicine, and public service. Increased reliance on the Internet is expected over the next five years, along with increased attention to its security.


1. Network Wizards. Data is available on line: http://www.isc.org/ds/.

2. Levy, S., Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution, Anchor Press/Doubleday, Garden City, NY, 1984.

3. Stoll, C., The Cuckoo's Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage, Doubleday, New York, 1989.

4. Denning, P. J., (ed.), Computers Under Attack: Intruders, Worms, and Viruses, ACM Press, Addison-Wesley, New York, 1990.

5. CERT Coordination Center, CERT* advisories and other security information, CERT/CC, Pittsburgh, PA. Available online: http://www.cert.org/.

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Modem Redialing

by Shirley Rooker, Federal Trade Commission

TOPIC: Dialer Programs

A high-tech scenario: you log onto the Internet and visit an adult entertainment site; but first, you have to download a special viewer program. Your next phone bill is for thousands of dollars. What happened?

When you downloaded the viewer software, it disconnected your computer from your local internet service provider and reconnected the computer to a phone number in some other part of the world - all without your knowing what was going on, because the software turned off your modem speaker, so you couldn't hear the disconnect or the dialing of an international number.

And to compound the problem, the program did not disconnect from the international number until you turned off your computer.

Okay, so it hasn't happened to you yet - but it did to thousands of consumers who incurred hundreds of thousands of dollars in international long distance charges.

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Security Check

by Federal Trade Commission

TOPIC: Security

The 20 Most Critical Internet Security Vulnerabilities was produced by the SANS Institute and the FBI. It describes the 20 most commonly exploited vulnerabilities in Windows and UNIX. Although thousands of security incidents affect these operating systems each year, the majority of successful attacks target one or more of the vulnerabilities on this list. This site also has links to scanning tools and services to help you monitor your own network vulnerabilities.

The 10 Most Critical Web Application Security Vulnerabilities was produced by the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP). It describes common vulnerabilities for web applications and databases and the most effective ways to address them. Attacks on web applications often pass undetected through firewalls and other network defense systems, putting at risk the sensitive information that these applications access. Application vulnerabilities are often neglected, but they are as important to deal with as network issues.

While you are designing and implementing your own safeguards program, don’t forget that you should oversee service providers and business partners that have access to your computer network or consumers’ personal information. Check periodically whether they monitor and defend against common vulnerabilities as part of their regular safeguards program.

For more information on privacy, information security, and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Safeguards Rule, visit the here.

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Security of the Internet

by CERT® Coordination Center Reports

TOPIC: Security

As of 1996, the Internet connected an estimated 13 million computers in 195 countries on every continent, even Antarctica (1). The Internet is not a single network, but a worldwide collection of loosely connected networks that are accessible by individual computer hosts in a variety of ways, including gateways, routers, dial-up connections, and Internet service providers. The Internet is easily accessible to anyone with a computer and a network connection. Individuals and organizations worldwide can reach any point on the network without regard to national or geographic boundaries or time of day.

However, along with the convenience and easy access to information come new risks. Among them are the risks that valuable information will be lost, stolen, corrupted, or misused and that the computer systems will be corrupted. If information is recorded electronically and is available on networked computers, it is more vulnerable than if the same information is printed on paper and locked in a file cabinet. Intruders do not need to enter an office or home, and may not even be in the same country. They can steal or tamper with information without touching a piece of paper or a photocopier. They can create new electronic files, run their own programs, and hide evidence of their unauthorized activity.

Footnote: (1) Network Wizards. Data is available on line: http://www.isc.org/ds/.

CERT® is a registered service mark of Carnegie Mellon University.

For the complete story on the Internet (history, future and current security issues), please view the complete CERT® Coordination Report, located online at the CERT website.

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TIP: Never turn off your machine if you are infected. Do the safe lockdown studies and protect your machine before shutting down or logging off. Click on the Lockdown page and surf worry-free!

TIP: Did you know that your programs have their own memory? Do you clear these items on regular basis? Check out the Memory Tracers page and find the products you use. If you use any of these programs and you have never cleared your stored projects and habits, you really should scrub your machine today.

For more information on the laws that govern the web, visit our Internet Law page.



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