August 2013

August 2013

Hackers Are Now Targeting Macs

Until recently, Macintosh computer users have long enjoyed relative freedom from hacker attacks; however, researchers at Symantec Corporation say online criminals are now setting their sites on Mac users.

Online video hunters are the latest target. Visitors to certain web sites are led to believe they can download a free video player when in fact they are installing malicious code onto their Macs.

Once the users authorize a software installation, the hackers can redirect the users future browsing to fraudulent web sites and possibly steal the user’s information or passwords. Sometimes they simply send ads for other pornographic web sites. This results in thousands of dollars in income for the criminals.

While many think that Macs are essentially more secure than PCs because they are built better, some security experts would argue differently. They believe that the Mac is actually no more secure than a PC. In fact, they note that the relatively low number of viruses, exploits and other cyber attacks directed at Mac users is due to Apple’s relatively small share of the computer market. Attackers are simply targeting the big fish. As the Mac market share grows, so does the number of available targets.

“I don’t think that the Mac OS is more secure than Windows — I think it is safer than Windows because there are less people trying to attack it. There is a big difference,” Natalie Lambert, a senior analyst at Forrester Research recently shared with MacNewsWorld.

With that said, the fact remains that for every single attack on a Mac, there are at least 100 attacks on Windows-based systems.

So what should you do if you own a Mac? Use the same safe online surfing practices as PC users, keep your anti-virus software up-to-date, never open strange e-mails from unknown sources, and only verify user names and passwords by phone with your bank or other financial institutions.


A New Favorite Way Hackers Are Gaining Access To Your PC

Do you have Java turned on in your web browser? If your answer is “Yes” or “I’m not sure” then it’s time to take action to find out. Why? The biggest threat to your computer systems in 2013 (and beyond) is no longer Microsoft Windows – it is Oracle’s Java.

After 20+ years as the poster child for insecure software, Microsoft’s newest operating systems (Windows 7 and 8) have gotten their act together. Cybercriminals like to get the greatest bang for their buck and therefore they’re attacking the Java platform because of its huge market share and because it’s an easier platform to hack than the Microsoft’s new operating systems. Java is now installed in over 1.1 billion desktops and 3 billion mobile phones. That’s a big target that is very attractive to hackers. Hackers also love that Java is multi-platform, which means it’s capable of corrupting PCs running Windows, Mac OS X or Linux. And since many Mac users don’t have anti-virus, hackers were able to infect over 600,000 Macs with serious malware via the Java software installed on their machines.

Right now, cybercriminals are aware and exploiting any security flaws in Java that could lead to infections on your computer many times unknowingly. There are even automated kits now available to capitalize on any security hole found within days, if not hours of them becoming known. It’s not unusual to see hackers use Java as a first attack to weaken the defenses before serving up an Operating System specific attack. Even the Department of Homeland Security suggested that “To defend against future Java vulnerabilities, their users should consider disabling Java in web browsers.”

Here are 3 steps you can take today to minimize your risk:

  • Disable or uninstall Java wherever you can. If you don’t need it, remove it.
  • Where Java is necessary, use a separate web browser only used for Java based websites and be sure to update Java regularly.
  • Have your staff report the first signs of slowness, possible infections and web browser popups to your IT guy as soon as they happen.

Shiny New Gadget Of The Month: IFI (I Found It)

This day and age we have so many electronics to keep up with. Now there’s a simple way to track where you’ve left them and keep them from getting stolen.

The iFi Systems Smart Tags work like a two way pager between you and your valuables. The iFi utilizes a Bluetooth connection through an app on your iPhone or Android device. It can easily be attached to a handbag, camera case, or just about anything else you’d like to protect. These Smart Tags can also act as a handy reminder that you’ve forgotten something or, worse, that your valuables are walking off with an opportunistic thief!

You can attach unique tags to multiple items and check the status of each one directly from the home screen. You can customize the names and the alert sounds for each item individually, and you can even monitor battery life via your smartphone. Can’t find the phone you say? Simply use your tag to track it. The communication system works both ways.

iFi Systems Smart Tags come in both iOS and Android models and the associated app can monitor up to 6 different items at a time. It gives a Google map of where a tag was at the time of separation. You can also set up safe zones, like when you’re at your office, so you do not have to endure alerts every time you walk to the water cooler. Get yours at www.amazon.com


10 Ideas You Need If You Want To Succeed

  1. Do what you need to do now so you will eventually get to do what you want to do later.
  2. Discipline is the ability to get things done regardless of how you feel about doing them.
  3. Passion only pays off when channeled into productive effort.
  4. Others may believe in you, help you and support you, but ultimately nobody will do it for you. You are responsible for your own life.
  5. If you don’t do your job any differently than anybody else who does it, you won’t get paid more than anybody else.
  6. More often than not, you succeed in spite of, not because of your circumstances.
  7. If you think a little better and work a little harder you will always accomplish more than others.
  8. If you can’t control it, get over it.
  9. If you don’t appreciate where you are at, you won’t appreciate where you are going.
  10. Get clear on what really matters to you and then get busy pursuing it.

If you want more insights into how to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary, go to Mark’s site at www.marksanborn.com


Get to Know: Brett Patterson

Did you know there are two “Bretts” in our office? Last month you got to know “Brett #2”, this month get to know Brett Patterson, aka “Brett #1”. He was raised in McKinney, Texas and lives there with his wife Megan and two kids Luke (5) and Lily (2). Brett attended Baylor University and graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Entrepreneurship. Brett gained interest in computer systems while building computers and networks as a hobby. While attending Baylor, Brett worked for Apple, Inc. as a Campus Representative. He hosted workshops, delivered demos, and executed marketing activities to increase adoption of Apple products amongst students, faculty, and staff. Brett also worked for the University IT Department in campus sales and procurement. A few fun facts about Brett; Favorite Drink: Cane Sugar Dr Pepper from a glass bottle, Favorite Snack: Cocoa Pebbles, Favorite Movie: Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Brett is an avid snow skier and SCUBA diver and plays classical and jazz saxophone.

How New Viruses Get Named

Thousands of viruses are currently circulating on the Internet with more being discovered daily. So how does a virus get it’s name?

There is no official government body or organization that names viruses. In most cases, the anti-virus company that discovers it gets to name it; and, it’s a very competitive race to see who can discover new viruses first!

The criminals creating viruses like to leave clues as to what they want their virus to be named, but researchers who discover (and fight) them don’t give their authors the satisfaction of keeping the name. To hackers, creating a destructive, difficult to disable virus is a badge of honor. So instead of giving these cyber criminals the publicity they crave, virus researchers will name a virus based on the type of system it attacks, what it does, or other random reasons.

For example, the Code Red virus got its name from an eEye Digital Security researcher’s beverage of choice — the cola variety of Mountain Dew soft drink. Apparently he was drinking this the night he cracked the corruptive code.

Creativity aside, most anti-virus companies have policies and letter-number formulas for naming viruses because it’s becoming more and more difficult to come up with unique names for viruses. Kaspersky anti-virus software currently has a catalogue of over 58,193 known viruses—and the number grows every day.


The Lighter Side: Did You Know?

A can of diet coke will float to the top of water, but a regular coke will sink to the bottom. (Try it.)

The fourth richest man in the world (Warren Buffett) still lives in the house he bought for $31,500 in 1958.

The Munich Technical University has a 3-story slide used for students to get to class faster. (See photo right.)

The “I’m Feeling Lucky” button costs Google $110 million each year in lost ad revenue.

There are already more than 250 people cryopreserved (frozen) in the hope that someday technology will be invented to revive them to extend their lives.

Peanut butter, under very high pressure has a good probability and temperature of turning into a diamond.