Those who plan to purchase (or have already pre-ordered) Windows 7 can take a sigh of relief - the reported zero-day flaw in Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 doesn't affect the final version of the upcoming OS, Microsoft confirmed.
"Microsoft is investigating new public reports of a possible vulnerability in Microsoft Server Message Block (SMB) implementation," Microsoft said in the advisory. "We are not aware of attacks that try to use the reported vulnerabilities or of customer impact at this time."
While that's good news for anyone waiting on Windows 7 to ship next month, those of you running the RC version aren't so lucky. According to Microsoft, the vulnerability does affect the release candidate, but not the final version that was completed in July, Cnet reports.
Symantec announced the newest version of its popular Norton security software. In particular, they elaborated on Norton 2010’s new file analysis technology codenamed “Quorom”.
The new technology attacks the problem faced by most security software: the overwhelming abundance of unique malware applications. Malware creators are able to churn out innumerable amounts of unique malware based on similar vulnerabilities and exploitations in hopes of bypassing standard signature and behavior-based detection. Quorum aims to use the uniqueness of the software as a means of threat detection itself.
Further, the new software was developed to maintain its light footprint and quick operation. Passmark Software benchmarked Norton Internet Security 2010 and its competitors. Norton reportedly installs in less than 60 seconds and occupies less than 10 megabytes of operational memory.
Norton Internet Security and Norton Antivirus both support all versions of Windows 7 and Vista (32-bit and 64-bit) as well as Windows XP SP2. They are currently available for purchase in the United States.
AutoRun was originally intended to help automatically start programs stored on optical media. However, once USB drives became popular, AutoRun also became a popular way to launch programs from hard disks and thumb drives by working with Windows' built-in AutoPlay functionality. Unfortunately, AutoRun's ability to provide instant launching for programs has also been widely exploited by malware such as the notorious Conficker/Downadup worm and others. Microsoft changed how AutoRun works in Windows 7 RC, but until now, Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows Server 2003 have been wide open to USB-based AutoRun attacks. To find out how Redmond's reining in AutoRun, join us after the jump.
One of the nastiest worms in recent history, the Conficker worm, which first surfaced in October 2008, manage to infect over 9 million PCs, shut down French and British military assets, and prompt a $250,000 reward from Microsoft for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the worm's creators.
Nearly a year later, the hefty reward remains uncollected while security experts continue to try and trace Conficker's origins and erase the threat. But it's still out there, as is the threat of another attack.
"It's using the best current practices and state of the art to communicate and to protect itself," Rodney Joffe, director of the Conficker Working Group, said of the worm. "We have not found the trick to take control back from the malware in any way."
After all this time, researchers are still left speculating what exactly Conficker was ultimately designed to do. It could as be simple as generating large amounts of spam, or it could record keystrokes and steal users' login information. On a larger and more frightening scale, researchers say its possible Conficker was designed by an intelligence agency or another country's military in order to monitor or disable an enemy's computers.
On the bright side, no one is sitting idly by waiting for Conficker to strike again. While security experts continue to work on ways to eradicate the worm, Conficker remains an open investigation with the FBI, who purportedly has a few leads.
In exactly the same time it takes to cook a batch of minute-rice, computer scientists in Japan claim to have developed a way to crack WPA encryption just as fast.
Security researchers first showed how WPA could be broken last November. The earlier attack worked on a smaller range of WPA devices and took about 12 to 15 minutes to work its mojo. But the Japanese researchers have taken the attack to a new level, according to Dragos Ruiu, organizer of the PacSec security conference where the first WPA hack was demonstrated.
"They took this stuff which was fairly theoretical and they've made it much more practical," Ruiu said.
Both attacks are limited to WPA system using the Temporal Key Integrity Protocol (TIKP) algorithm, which means if you use a newer WAP2 device or a WPA system based on the Advanced Encryption Standerd (AES) algorithm, you're in the clear. At least for now.
Social networking sites are all fun and games until you contract a nasty virus and lose your data, or worse yet, lose your identity to the highest bidder in a seedy underground market. But that's the risk the average social networker is taking by failing to perform basic security measures, suggests a new study by AVG and the CMO Council.
The study surveyed a random sampling of 250 consumers. According to the poll results, 86 percent of the respondents participate in a social network at home or at work. Almost half of those surveyed said they have been victims of malware attacks, 55 percent said they have seen phishing attacks, and nearly 20 percent have experienced identity theft.
Despite past experience, barely a third of respondents change passwords on a regular basis, while 57 percent said they infrequently or never adjust privacy settings.
"The fact that users understand the risks, and yet are failing to take the basic steps to protect themselves presents an interesting challenge to companies, like AVG, that are working to create a safer cyber community," said Siobhan MacDermott, head of Public Policy, Corporate Communications and Investor Relations, AVG Technologies.
See all of the results here, as well as some basic security tips that should be second nature to most power users.
And the award for the most dangerous A-list celebrity to search in cyberspace goes to (drum roll)...Jessica Biel! Or so says McAfee, the Internet Security company who has been trackingthe most dangerous celeb searches for the past three years. In case you were wondering, Paris Hilton topped the chart in 2007 before being overtaken by Brad Pitt last year.
"Cybercriminals are star watchers too -- they latch onto popular celebrities to encourage the download of malicious software in disguise," McAfee's Jeff Green said in a statement. "Consumers' obsession with celebrity news and culture is harmless in theory, but one bad download can cause a lot of damage to a computer."
McAfee warns that cyber crooks routinely use celebrity names and images to entice surfers into their web of dirty (as in laced with spyware) screensavers, ringtones, and other popular downloads.
Other celebrities making the top 10 list include Beyonce (second), Jennifer Aniston (third, with more than 40 percent of the Google search results for "Jennifer Aniston screensavers" containing malware), Tom Brady (fourth), and Jessica Simpson (fifth).
According to IBM's semi-annual security report, hackers and other cyber miscreants are spending fas less time phishing as they shift their attention to other technologies to swipe your personal data.
"The decline in phishing and increases in other areas (such as banking Trojans) indicate that attackers may be moving their resources to other methods to obtain the gains that phishing once achieved," IBM said in its Internet Security Systems 2009 Mid-Year Trend & Risk Report.
Trojans, which include downloaders and info-stealers, are now the most commonly used tools of the trade accounting for 55 percent of the new malware seen, says the report. That's an increase of 9 percent over last year. The rise can partially be attributed the existence of "public-available toolkits" that malware distributors advertise as being easy to use.
Earlier this year, Adobe said it will stick to a quarterly relese schedule for security updates, but apparently that isn't nearly enough. According to research published by Trusteer, 79.5 percent of the 2.5 million users of their Rapport security service still run a vulnerable version of Adobe Flash and 83.5 percent run a vulnerable version of Acrobat.
"Two weeks after Adobe released a critical patch for Flash and Acrobat Reader our research shows that almost 80 percent of Internet users are still vulnerable. This is the biggest security hole on the Internet today and the failure of Adobe to address it in a timely manner is extremely troubling," Trusteer wrote in its report.
Trusteer was critical of Adobe's update mechanism, saying that while Adobe's Flash site identified machines that weren't running the latest version of Flash, it failed to issue a notification that the system is at risk and "did not strongly urge that the update be installed."
Read the full report in PDF form here, and trade in that bloated Acrobat Reader for a leaner alternative here.
If you're concerned about privacy, it might not be enough to hide your profile or limit who can view your personal information, a new report suggests. That's because social networking sites are sharing your personal info with tracking sites, according to the report.
"When you sign up with a social networking site, you are assigned a unique identifier," says Craig Wills, professor of computer science at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). "We found that when social networking sites pass information to tracking sites about your activities, they often include this unique identifier. So now a tracking site not only has a profile of your web browsing activities, it can link that profile to the personal information you post on the social networking site."
The study specifically points out Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter -- three of the most popular social networking sites on the planet -- as being guilty of leaking information. Using your unique identifier, a tracking site could then learn all kinds of things about you, including your name, address, email addy, gender, date of birth, what school you attend, where you work, and tons more.
But is it much ado about nothing? Only the tracking sites know for sure, and Wills admits that researchers have no idea what these sites do with the info, if anything at all.