Comp-U-News from Comp-U-Talk

October 2004

The real problem is not whether machines think but whether men do.
- B. F. Skinner

To Patch or Not to Patch ? There is no Question!

I love the internet. I can support my family because of the internet. But there are two major problems with the net.

The first is virus. Everyone should be running an anti-virus program with current definitions. Viruses spread mainly through e-mail, but they can also spread through casual web surfing and downloading.

The second is exploitation. Exploit what?! InformationWeek (a weekly magazines for geeks like me) has compiled research that shows U.S. companies will spend 12% of their budgets on information security, up from 8% in 2002. Security breaches and malicious code attacks are considered more threatening to business this year than ever.

Why? Because the average time between disclosure of a vulnerability and its first exploit has been reduced from several weeks to several hours.

What's a vulnerability? That's an announcement from Microsoft that there is problem with the Windows Operating System and, if left unfixed, will allow someone to take advantage of and sometimes take control of your system.

An article at reports that Symantec, the creator of Norton's Antivirus, has been monitoring the Net and can see how many PC's are compromised. Compromised PC's are known as Zombies. During the first half of 2004, an astounding 30,000 systems per day were subverted into zombies.

Symantec is claiming that building 'botnets', a network of zombies is a very lucrative business. Phishers (see last months newsletter for a definition of phisher) and spammers are paying good money to use your system for their intents.

How do you protect yourself? Keep your system patched. The next time you are on the net, go to the Tools Menu and click on Windows Update. Follow the instructions on the screen to download all Critical or High Priority updates. If you are using Windows XP, beware of downloading Service Pack 2 (SP2). It has a reputation of killing systems so don't download SP2 until you have all of your data backed up first.