By far the biggest revelation of 2013 was that of the U.S. government's overreaching National Security Agency (NSA) and its PRISM surveillance program. Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the government's ability to spy on various forms of communication by leaking several documents to the press, and since doing so, new information keeps coming out. One of the most recent reports claims the NSA routinely intercepts computer deliveries in order to exploit vulnerabilities to aid with spying.
Richard Stallman accuses Canonical of spying on Ubuntu users.
Canonical, the company behind the wildly popular Ubuntu distro is under siege from Free Software Foundation president Richard Stallman. Stallman has accused Canonical of spying on users, and oddly enough, they aren’t even denying it. In fact, they even admit plans are in the works to expand their efforts in upcoming releases.
Malware sucks. In the best-case scenario, it craps up your system with unwanted files and occasionally makes itself known in the form of a persistent pop-up window or annoying browser-based toolbar. In the worst-case scenario, malware completely takes over your desktop or laptop and ruins your life.
So what’s a computer enthusiast to do? Our four step process starts with Step zero: Read this guide, because we’re going to walk you through all the key details you need to know to both rid your computer of this junk and keep it free of downloaded nasties forevermore.
The busy bodies at Support.com didn't waste any time putting their stamp on SUPERAntiSpyware, a popular spyware scanner they purchased earlier this summer. Support.com overhauled the real-time scan engine and shoveled every new feature the company could think of into SUPERAntiSpyware 5, the latest version released earlier this week and the first major update in two years.
A high ranking official at the Department of Homeland Security admitted to Congress that foreign made hardware and software sold in the U.S. are sometimes laced with spyware, malware, and other foul components that can compromise security. The revelation came from Greg Schaffer, acting deputy undersecretary of the DHS National Protection and Programs Directorate, who testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Are you a PC user? Good; you are likely annoyed. Because, let’s face it, there are some parts of the “master of your domain” experience that are downright annoying to do. Novice users have it easy—to them, a computer is merely a portable word processor, a fancy little device that allows them to watch cats frolic online, catch up on the most recent versions of The Office without paying for cable, and surf the web for hours on end.
You, however, are not a novice user. You are intermediate, to advanced, to hardcore, and you don’t like it when you have to expend precious hours fixing up your PC in a variety of different ways. You want a system that works perfectly and you want it yesterday. Well, to that, I offer five meager freeware apps (or free Web apps) that should help trim some of the annoying processes out of your normal system use.
Uggghh. I should have known better, but there I was, staring at a bright-red screen in my Google Chrome tab that was trying to impress upon me—as much as a software browser could sans digital kick to the butt—that the popular tech news site I was about to visit was riddled with some kind of malware.
“Impossible,” I thought to myself. “There’s no way that this, a common site I frequent on a near-daily basis, could have anything to do with nefarious crap trying to install itself on my PC.”
Yes, the phrasing of my thoughts really does come out like that. So does my stubbornness. For rather than heed Google’s warning that the site I was about to visit was about to unleash a world of hurt on my system, I calmly told my browser that I was comfortable proceeding on my own (damnit).
I clicked the link, read my news and… was thrilled to find a new “Security Center” malware now popping up out of my taskbar about once every five minutes. Sigh. Before I could even turn to one of the many “get the heck off my system” tools that I keep installed for such measures, my entire screen went blue.
So, what do you use to clean your PC... aside from a baseball bat?
You've undoubtedly heard of the so-called "Apple tax," a not-so-affectionate term used to describe Apple's comparatively inflated prices for PC parts, but "traitorware" is a new one on us.
That's the term the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) made up in response to Apple's patent for "Systems and Methods for Identifying Unauthorized Users of an Electronic Device." In light of the recent jailbreak legislation, Apple seems intent on slamming the door shut on unauthorized iOS users.
"This patent is downright creepy and invasive -- certainly far more than would be needed to respond to the possible loss of a phone," the EFF said in a blog post. "Spyware, and its new cousin traitorware, will hurt customers and companies alike -- Apple should shelve this idea before it backfires on both it and its customers."
The EFF takes serious exception to Apple's decision "to identify and punish users who take advantage" of new jailbreaking and unlocking exemptions, claiming Apple's patent "does nothing short of providing a roadmap for how Apple can -- and presumably will -- spy on its customers and control the way its customers use Apple products."
According to security firm BitDefender, there's an unsolicited email making the rounds that promises to keep iPad software updated "for best performance, newer features, and security." Follow the provided link, however, and all you'll get is a Backdoor.Bifrose.AADY infection.
The download page looks exactly like the real iTunes site, but rather than update your iTunes software, the malicious code instead injects itself into the explorer.exe process and opens up a backdoor for miscreants to enter your system and take control of your PC, BitDefender warns.
"Moreover, Backdoor.Biforse.AADY attempts to read the keys and serial numbers of the various software installed on the affected computer, while also logging the passwords to the victim's ICQ, Messenger, POP3 email accounts, and protected storage," BitDefender said.
We suspect this isn't the last time malware writers target iPad owners, given that Apple has sold over 600,000 tablets already.
For those of us who download applications, programs, extensions, or really anything off the Internet in great frequency, what's the best way to keep a computer completely protected from external threats? I'm talking about locking down your system tighter than a Supermax prison--not impacting your ability to carry out your everyday tasks, rather, making sure that you're protected from attack at your PC's primary entry points.
That's exactly what I'll be exploring in this week's freeware roundup: The five best free applications for keeping your computer as secure as can be. If you aren't running some combination of these freeware and open-source apps, well, you only have yourself to blame if your system gets infected with something unpleasant!