Wednesday, June 30, 2004

QOTD: Don't pass on wealth if you're not going to pass on wisdom as well. - Ron Ballou (from the book Splitting Heirs)

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

TOPIC: Spyware / Malware Stoppers
I don't care to sell advertising on the Soap Bocks, BUT I may mention a super-fine product from time to time. Since SPAM & spyware have been the theme for the past couple of posts, it's time to tell you about four excellent products that help kill those nasty adware, spyware or any other malware programs left behind by web browsing -- and sometimes SPAM.
First is Spybot Search & Destroy. If you use the Internet (and you do or you wouldn't be here), you need to download, install and correctly configure Spybot Search & Destroy. The current version is v1.3. Find it at Safer Go ahead and get it now. I'll wait... ... ... ... Got it? OK, good. Now, when you install Spybot, make sure you allow Spybot to run the update; set up the IEHelper (if you use MS Internet Explorer) AND Immunize your system. These three steps alone will save you hours of anguish in the area of malware. REMINDER: Run Spybot EVERY time you get off the Net. Check for Updates EVERY time you start Spybot.
Second program is Lavasoft's Ad-Aware. In tandem with Spybot, Ad-Aware will help you find and delete most malware on your PC. It will not find all of the trojan horse programs, but it is a great program just the same. The current version is Build 6.x. Get Ad-Aware from Again, I'll wait... ... OK, now make sure that you Check for Updates Now on Ad-Aware EVERY time you run it. You should also do a web search for Ad-Aware in-depth settings (the best thread is on Make the necessary changes and do a deep scan first. Then, do smart scans EVERY time you exit the Internet... that means EVERY time. Got me!?!
Third on the super-fine list of anti-malware programs is Spyware Blaster. JavaCool's app kills ActiveX and Java scripts that install malware on your PC -- without you knowing it. The last time I checked, Spyware Blaster took care of nearly 2,000 "nasties". That is VERY impressive! As with the others, make sure to run the Update Tool EVERY time you use Spyware Blaster!
Lastly, is IESPYAD. IESPYAD is not a program, per se. It is really a batch file that loads HUNDREDS of known malware sites into your MSIE Restricted Zone settings. The computer science guy who wrote it says, "IESPYAD will stop 90% of the drive-by spyware installs you suffer while surfing the Net." If you don't surf porn (and you shouldn't given the moral issues, social problems & other known hindrances to a healthy life if you do), then make sure to use IESPYAD to install a few hundred porn sites into your MSIE Restricted Zone as well.

Putting these four programs together and using them as stated above, I have had less than 25 minor infections in a 10 week period. Prior to using these, the malware installs (including tracking cookies) was in the hundreds PER WEEK. Get 'em! Configure 'em! Update 'em! And, USE THEM. FYI - all four can be used free-of-charge (indefinitely), but you should donate to Spybot, buy Ad-aware Pro & Spyware Blaster. IESPYAD is always free. Enjoy! [Updated 7/29/04]

Monday, June 14, 2004

TOPIC: Speaking of SPAM...
What is it with spammers anyway? Do they really think we are going to buy their products when they force these emails upon us? Do they think we will read the email when they use nonsense like "V1a/gr A" the Subject line? And who are the morons paying these illiterate idiots to send us SPAM? It seems to me that the ONLY people making money on SPAM are the senders of this vile stuff. There is NO way any huge corporation is behind SPAM. It would be marketing death IF they were found out. The total nonsense and forced nature of SPAM also lends itself to a failed business model for ANY company buying the spammers wares. So, the ONLY people with a vested interest must be spammers and/or virus writers whose worms are often included within the spam email.

Steve Linford of Spamhaus says, "People selling these fresh proxies [lists of PCs w/ worms that make them zombies] are either the virus writers themselves or someone very close to them. I don't know how ties between spammers and virus writers was first forged but there is clearly a strong link there," he added."

Out of the 8,000 emails I have received over the past two months, 83% was SPAM. Since I have a rather visible Internet presence, I realize my personal stats are higher than most Average Joe's on the street, which is officially 66%. 66% or 83% SPAM -- either way, it's outrageous!

SO, I am fighting back -- by contacting the spammers, whenever I can, to tell them what I think of them; by hassling my ISP to do a better job of blocking SPAM; by purchasing products that kill spam and supporting ANY legal effort to fight spammers; by encouraging my legislators to take SPAM seriously and legislate it into oblivion; and by talking up ALL efforts to fight back in the public forums.
IF you're as fed up with SPAM as I am, YOU should do the same. As long as we lay down and take it, they are going to dish it. Stand up and fight back. The John Hites', Scott Richter's and Alan Ralsky's of the world need to be put back into their slimy holes!
[Read this article on what Microsoft is doing to fight spammers. The country of Singapore is also fighting back!]
If you don't think that keeping YOUR own PC patched and updated is worth the time, let me ask you a few questions. Is SPAM a problem for you? How about for your friends & family? Is your Internet connection sometimes slow -- for no apparent reason?

If so, then you need to read this article. Here's a quote from another piece that should give you chills: "Instead of using open mail relays or unscrupulous hosts (so-called 'bullet-proof' hosting - in reality, ISPs in developing countries who pull the plug on spammers when enough complaints are received by their upstream provider), spammers are using compromised machines to get their junk mail out. Viruses such as My-Doom and Bagle surrender the control of infected machines to hackers. This expanding network of infected, zombie PCs can be used for spam distribution..."

IF YOU have not patched your PC with the latest browser, email, Office and virus updates, then YOU are part of the SPAM problem. Get real and get right! Don't be part of the problem by being a zombie -- be part of the solution to stop SPAM.
I have been busy with other things in my life, so my blog has been a waste for a couple of weeks. I'm back now and ready to go... with lots of topics to add. THANKS for your continued patronage!