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Agence France-Presse WASHINGTON--Better think twice before choosing a password for emails, online ba nk accounts and airline tickets. Passwords that show no imagination or distinctiveness are easy prey for informa tion pirates, a new US study says. A statistical analysis of 28,000 passwords recently stolen from a popular US we bsite and posted on the Internet reveals that people often do the easy thing. It found that 16 percent took a first name as a password, often their own or on e of their children, according to the study published by Information Week. Another 14 percent relied on the easiest keyboard combinations to re member such as "1234" or "12345678." For those using English keyboards, "QWERTY ", was popular. Likewise, "AZERTY" scored with people with European keyboards. Five percent of the stolen passwords were names of television shows or stars po pular with young people like "hannah," inspired by singer Hannah Montana. "Poke mon," "Matrix," and "Ironman" were others. The word "password" or easy to guess variations like "password1" accounted for four percent. Three percent of the passwords expressed attitudes like "I don't care," "Whatev er," "Yes" or "No." There were sentimental choices -- "Iloveyou" -- and their opposite -- "Ihateyou ." Robert Graham, of the company Errata Security, which did the analysis and publi shed the conclusions, advises that to better protect against cyber intrusions: "choose a password that is longer than eight characters with one capital letter and one symbol."
PANGASINAN, Philippines -- A few Filipino owners have reported being affected b y the "Zune Bug," a problem connected to the deviceâs internal clock that froze some Microsoft Zune digital music players on January 1, 2009. The creator of local Zune fan site ZunePH has posted two messages as of January 1 discussing the pro blem. The creator also warned owners of the 30 Gigabyte version of Zune, which came o ut in 2006. This model is said to have a problem counting leap years and would not boot up. "Very weird! Must have something to do with date stamps of the devic e, like Y2K [year 2000] scare. I hope this gets fixed asap [as soon as possible ]," the creator said. However, the creator later posted a statement from Microsoft that declared the problem is "self-resolving." Four replies in the local Zune fans blog indicated that they have been affected by the said flaw in the device. One comment indicated that he did not notice the flaw until news came out about it. Another anonymous user reported of being affected by the bug and tried to charg e then drain its internal battery to no avail. User "Justin" feared that he might have ruined his 30 Gb Zune, which froze up d uring a reformatting process that he initiated after noticing the problem. Microsoft Philippines officials were unavailable for comment as of this writing .

DTI website defaced

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The D epartment of Trade and Industry (DTI)âs website has been defaced, INQUIRER.net has learned Saturday. Based on this screenshot of the agencyâs website, the website has been vandaliz ed by supposed foreign hackers. The website currently contains cryptic messages from a hacker called âx55x.â The hacker has also placed âGeneral Palestineâ in the defaced website and a fla g of Palestine plus a message at the end of the page that says, âDonât forget P alestine.â Officials of the agency are currently unavailable for comment at this writing. Government offices are closed after December 25th (Friday) was declared a holid ay to give way to people celebrating the Christmas festivities.
By Glenn Chapman Agence France-Presse SAN FRANCISCO -- Microsoft on Wednesday released an emergency patch to fix a pe rilous software flaw allowing hackers to hijack Internet Explorer browsers and take over computers. The US software giant said security update MS08-078 addresses a vulnerability c yber-criminals can exploit to their advantage. "Microsoft encourages all IE customers to test and deploy this update as soon a s possible," said Microsoft security response communications head Christopher B udd. The threat led Microsoft to mobilize security engineering teams worldwide to de liver a software cure "in the unprecedented time of eight days." According to researchers at software security firm Trend Micro, atta cks based on the vulnerability in the world's most popular Web browser were spr eading "like wildfire" with millions of computers already compromised. Microsoft typically releases patches for its software on the second Tuesday of each month and rushing this fix to computer users out-of-cycle is testimony to the severe danger of the threat, according to Trend Micro. "People should run, not walk, to get it installed," said Trend Micro advanced t hreat researcher Paul Ferguson. "This vulnerability is being actively exploited by cyber-criminals and getting worse every day." The IE software patch will be automatically applied to hundreds of millions of personal computers due to standard update settings in the machines, according t o Microsoft Security Response Alliance director Mike Reavey. Wednesday morning, business networks using IE began getting the critical fix th rough routine patching processes. Reavey said Microsoft went into "emergency response" mode on December 9 after i t first learned of the attacks on IE browsers. A day later, Microsoft published a security advisory that "listed workarounds t hat blocked all known attacks." "Over the course of the next eight days, this advisory was updated five times, adding newer workarounds and mitigations," Reavey said. "We also continually mo nitored the threat environment, noting when the attacks began to change in natu re and scope." Trend Micro has identified about 10,000 websites that have been infected with m alicious software that can be surreptitiously slipped into visitors' unprotecte d IE browsers to take advantage of the flaw. A major Internet portal in Taiwan is among the legitimate websites unknowingly tainted with malicious software aimed at IE's weak spot, according to Ferguson. Hackers can take control of infected computers, steal data, redirect browsers t o dubious websites, and use machines for devious activities such as attacks on other networks, according to security specialists. "What makes this so insidious is it takes advantage of a big gaping hole of IE, which has the largest install base of any browser on the market," Ferguson sai d. IE is used on nearly three-quarters of the world's computers, according to indu stry statistics from November. Reavey said the patch consists of more than 300 distinct updates for more than half-a-dozen versions of IE in scores of languages. Analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group in Silicon Valley said it was "amazing" th at Microsoft was able to turn out a complex critical fix in a week when such jo bs typically can take a month or longer of intense work. "Even with that, the release Emergency Response process isn't over," Reavey sai d. "There is additional support to customers and additional refinement of our p roduct development efforts." Trend Micro urges IE users to heed precautionary advice from Microsoft, or avoi d using the browsers, until the patches are applied. The "exploit" is similar to one used recently to steal user names, passwords an d other information from people playing online games in China, according to Tre nd Micro.
By Izah Morales INQUIRER.net YOU may be too trusting as you go and click on the link that you see on your fr iendâs site only to find out that the link was a malware. During the Cybersecurity: Protecting the Business forum, Vu Huy Nguyen, field r esearch consultant of McAfee Avert Labs said that social networking sites are n ow becoming more vulnerable to attacks since the users within the networks are trusted. âBe suspicious. Be wary. Itâs more of protecting yourself. Users should be awar e and beware. When they let the guard down, thatâs when attack happens,â Nguyen said. According to Nguyen, Asia faces these unique threats because users are often na ïve. He also said that the high growth in Internet users in Asia resulted in higher rate of cybercrimes. âEighty percent of the malware attacks are money-motivated,â explained Nguyen. Nguyen attributed the high rate of cyber crime to the lack of government regula tion and laws for some Asian countries. Also, he related that governments react to cybercrimes depending on its severit y. In the United States, the National White Collar Crime Center, The National Publ ic Survey on White Collar Crime in August 2005 stated that regulatory agencies attended to only one out of seven incidents of Internet fraud. In the 2007 Internet Crime Report, the National White Collar Crime Center, Bure au of Justice Assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation recorded 206,88 4 cybercrime cases, with Internet auction fraud as the most reported offense, f ollowed by non-delivered merchandise. Meanwhile, in the Philippines, the anti-cyber crime bill also known as "Cybercrime Prevention Act o f 2008" is yet to be passed into a law.

Wireless guardian angel

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YOU'VE got to hand it to the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. -- this was a pretty interesting demo of their PLDT Guardian wireless security solution versus p ilferage or inside jobs. Video taken by INQUIRER.net technology reporter Erwin Oliva.
By Erwin Oliva INQUIRER.net FOR the nth time, I got hit by a computer virus. This time, though, it was a na sty hit. I was happily surfing the Internet last weekend when my antivirus software star ted detecting it. I am not yet sure if it is a Trojan (a malicious program that leaves a backdoor open in your system for hackers to take control), or a compu ter worm (self-replicating malware). But it was clear. It was annoying and it t ook control of my laptop. As one saying goes, there are many ways to skin a cat. The most effective and y et desperate way to get rid of a computer virus is to format the computer. Wipe the hard drive clean, and start afresh. But that would mean losing all your im portant files, data, and programs -- not to mention wasted man hours in reinsta lling the operating system, drivers, etc. So that wasn't an option. I had to fi nd a way to take out the computer virus with surgical precision. A friend who is computer virus expert told me that getting rid of a computer vi rus is like peeling an onion. No, it does not make you cry. You have to pass th rough several layers to get to the juicy part. Hmmm, I hope that makes sense. A nyway, it took me and "Ownyot" (our in-house techie) to kill da bastard . We ra n full scans, using both my existing antivirus software and an online free serv ice from Trend Micro. The software was able to detect it. It was called CRYP_NSANTI. It was a Trojan. But when we chec ked for a solution, there was none at this time. I Googled it and found that ot hers have recently been hit, and were asking how to get rid of it. Ownyot eventually found a two-punch solution, thanks to the Internet. He used a free trial antivirus software version from Avira and launched a Filipino-made solution called Noob Killer, which fixed Windows registries in my system. You c an Google both and find a way to download the software. Noob is apparently a so lution developed by Pinoy techies, according to Ownyot (that's another story, t hough). The free antivirus detected 30 more infected files. They were all quara ntined. The Noob Killer was then launched, correcting registries affected by th e computer virus. I asked what Noob Killer did to the nasty computer malware, a nd our in-house techie said that it "patched" the damaged "autorun" configurati on of my system, and sought other computer viruses/worms that are spreading thr ough removable medias. Lessons: if you're patient enough, there are free and effective fixes online. B ut you have to have an expert with you when using such software. Also, numerous free trial versions of antivirus software are on the Internet. You can downloa d them and use them to scan and quarantine computer viruses. Finally, it is bes t to update your antivirus software. If it's a corporate account, then ask your network administrator if it comes with the latest fixes. More lessons: be careful in deleting files during computer virus scans. It is b est to quarantine them first. Also always make sure that you scan removable med ia you plug in to your computer. That means USB thumb drives, external hard dis k drives, and other media. Computer worms are now spreading through removable m edia, and it can be a nasty problem. Finally, I learned that today's computer viruses will not necessarily render yo ur system useless. But when not dealt with quickly, it would. In past discussio ns with computer virus experts, computer malwares are increasingly being launch ed to steal passwords, usernames, and other personal information on an infected system. So when you're infected, it is best to seek the help of an expert. You would never know that they are just sitting in a little corner in your office. Thanks, Ownyot!

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