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While the Internet is a powerful resource and provides users with many useful and often entertaining things to see and do, it also has its dark side. Most people are familiar with freeware, shareware, cookies, media players, interactive content, and file sharing. What they may not realize is that some of the aforementioned may contain code or components that allow the developers of these applications and tools to actually collect and disseminate information about those using them. They can track your surfing habits, abuse your Internet connection by sending this data to a third party, profile your shopping preferences, hijack your browser start page or pages, alter important system files, and can do this without your knowledge or permission. The security and privacy implications of these exploits should be quite obvious and undesirable on any system or network!


Search & Destroy (Spyware Removal)

SpyBot: http://www.safer-networking.org/
Anti-hacker utility that finds and eliminates hacker tools, spyware and trojans from your computer. Spybot-S&D is free, so there's no harm in trying to see if something snooped into your computer.

Pest Patrol: http://www.safersite.com/
PestPatrol is a powerful security and personal privacy tool that detects and eliminates destructive pests like trojans, spyware, adware and hacker tools. It complements your anti-virus and firewall software, extending your protection against non-viral malicious software that can evade your existing security and invade your personal privacy.

Ad-aware: http://www.lavasoft.de/
Ad-aware finds and eliminates spyware from your computer. With its ability to comprehensively scan your memory, registry, hard, removable and optical drives for known datamining, aggressive advertising, and tracking components, Ad-aware will provide the user with the confidence to surf the Internet knowing that their privacy will remain intact. Let Ad-aware protect your privacy.

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Realtime AntiVirus Feed

Enjoy a continuously updated top ten list and detailed reports of virus activity around the globe from Trend Micro's site. Fresh content will be automatically updated.

Trend Micro: http://www.trendmicro.com/en/home/us/personal.htm
PC-cillin combines advanced virus detection and cleaning with an integrated firewall to safeguard your system from hackers and malicious code threats in email and instant messaging, and while surfing the Internet. New features like Wi-Fi protection helps secure your computer when connecting to a wireless LAN network, and Outbreak Alert gives you early warning about new viruses.

Overview | Housecall online virus scanning service | EICAR Test Files

Norton AntiVirus: http://www.symantec.com/nav/nav_9xnt/
It protects email, instant messages, and other files by automatically removing viruses, worms, and Trojan horses. New built-in features also detect certain non-virus threats such as spyware and keystroke loggers.

Symantec Security Check - Symantec Security Check tests your exposure to a wide range of online threats. It's free and efficient, and it helps you determine your Internet security needs.

Virus Removal Tools - This is not a substitute for full anti-virus protection, but rather tools to assist users when dealing with an infected system.

McAfee AntiVirus: http://us.mcafee.com/
Real-Time Virus Protection, keep your PC safe. Automatically checks for virus updates, so your protection stays up-to-date.

McAfee AVERT Stinger - Stinger is a stand-alone utility used to detect and remove specific viruses. It is not a substitute for full anti-virus protection, but rather a tool to assist administrators and users when dealing with an infected system. Stinger utilizes next generation scan engine technology, including process scanning, digitally signed DAT files, and scan performance optimizations.

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Personal Fire Wall

ZoneAlarm: http://www.zonelabs.com
Zone Labs offers a complete range of firewall products, from the free ZoneAlarm, to the comprehensive protection of ZoneAlarm Plus, to the ultimate privacy and security tools in ZoneAlarm Pro. Without a firewall, your computer is operating under an "open door" policy. Bank account information. Passwords. Credit card numbers. Documents and photos that you don't want to share with the world. They are all available to anyone with bad intentions and basic computer skills. Hackers can get in, take what they want, and even leave open a "back door" so they can turn your computer into a "zombie" and use it to attack other computers. Every minute that your computer is connected to the Internet, either through a dial-up (modem) connection or through a broadband (DSL or cable) service, it is at risk.

Norton Internet Security: http://www.symantec.com/homecomputing/
Essential protection from viruses, hackers, and privacy threats. Powerful yet easy to use, this award-winning suite now includes advanced spam-fighting software to filter unwanted mail out of your inbox. Includes: AntiVirus, AntiSpam and Personal Firewall all in one package.

Symantec Security Check - Symantec Security Check tests your exposure to a wide range of online threats. It's free and efficient, and it helps you determine your Internet security needs.

Trend Micro: http://www.trendmicro.com/en/home/us/personal.htm
PC-cillin combines advanced virus detection and cleaning with an integrated firewall to safeguard your system from hackers and malicious code threats in email and instant messaging, and while surfing the Internet. New features like Wi-Fi protection helps secure your computer when connecting to a wireless LAN network, and Outbreak Alert gives you early warning about new viruses. Overview

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Encryption Software

Cypherix: http://www.cypherix.co.uk/cryptainerle/
Secure your data and ensure absolute privacy with Cypherix's powerful encryption software Cryptainer LE. It 's powerful 128 bit encryption, creates multiple 25 Mb encrypted containers (vaults) on your hard disk. These encrypted vaults can be loaded and unloaded on need. You can view, modify and hide all types of file with a single password. Cryptainer LE's encryption works with all 32 bit versions of Microsoft Windows (95/98/ME/2000/XP/2003 Server) and with all known file types.  Cryptainer allows you to password protect and secure any file or folder on any media including removable drives (Flash Drives,  CD ROM's etc). Additionally, Cryptainer LE allows you to send encrypted email files. The recipient need not even have a copy of Cryptainer LE installed to decrypt the files.

CruzerLock 2: http://www.sandisk.com/retail/cruzer-app.asp
Protect your files on your USB Flash Drive from SanDisk. CruzerLock is a security application designed to protect your personal data files. Your individual files can be encrypted/decrypted to prevent unauthorized viewing.

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Integrated Network Query Tools

Registry for Internet Numbers:
American Registry | Asia Registry | Europe Registry

UXN Spam Combat: http://combat.uxn.com/
Provides online tools for tracing and terminating spammers. Tools provided include a Worldwide Whois function, IP Whois, Dig, NSLookup, Traceroute, Ping and Decoders.

Sam Spade: http://samspade.org/
This is a multi-talented network query tool with extra utilities built in to handle spam mail. It includes the typical utilities such as ping, traceroute, whois, and finger. Software | Online Tools | SamSpade v. 1.14

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Fight Spam on the Internet!

You have probably seen an increase in the amount of "junk mail" which shows up in your email box, or on your favorite newsgroup. The activities of a small number of people are becoming a bigger problem for the Internet. We have been actively engaged in fighting spam for years. Since we presented this site to the public in 1996, we have been pleased to be referenced as one of the best anti-spam sites on the net. Help fight spam to keep the Internet useful for everyone. Take advantage of the information we've gathered to make your own experience on the Internet better.

SpamAbuse: http://spam.abuse.net/
How to make a compliant: http://spam.abuse.net/userhelp/howtocomplain.shtml
What is Spam: http://spam.abuse.net/overview/whatisspam.shtml

Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial Email (CAUCE): http://www.cauce.org/
UCE is the leading complaint of Internet users. But junk e-mail is more than just annoying, it costs Internet users and Internet-based businesses millions, even billions, per year. Junk e-mail is "postage due" marketing; it's like a telemarketer calling you collect. The economics of junk e-mail encourages massive abuse and because junk e-mailers can get into the business very cheaply, the volume of junk e-mail is increasing every day.

Reporting Spam: Where to Complain About Internet Fraud & Scams - Click here  to view links where users can mail complaints to the correct authorities to report spam issues and to complain about internet fraud and scams (don't forget to include with your complaint a copy of the e-mail or posting with full headers).

Scam Reporting/Public Awareness Advisory: Below is a list of sites that report on scams/frauds being committed against consumers. Some of these sites have toll-free hotlines for reporting scams/frauds and consumer abuse.

Spam Arrest is a 100-percent effective solution for blocking automated junk emails. When an email arrives from an unknown sender, a reply email is sent back asking the sender to verify themselves by clicking on a link to the Spam Arrest website ( View Screenshot ). The link takes them to a page where they are instructed to type in a word that is shown in a picture ( View Screenshot ).

View Demo ( Flash Movie ) - Get Flash Plugin

This step prevents automated systems used to send spam to authorize themselves, yet is very easy for any human to complete. Unverified emails are stored on the Spam Arrest website for 7 days, and you may review them at any time. You may also pre-authorized senders and mailing lists at any time, either by entering them individually or by uploading your entire address book.

Microsoft Outlook:
Help get your incoming spam under control by using advanced filtering techniques.

Avoid replying to the sender with REMOVE in the subject line - Messages you receive may include instructions (such as to reply with REMOVE in the subject line) on how to remove yourself from future mailings from the individual or organization. Unfortunately, many senders include these instructions in order to try to confirm that they've reached a working e-mail address, not to remove you from mailings. Unless you are unsubscribing from a mail distribution list that you signed up for or you know the message sender, the best practice is to discard these messages without responding. Some messages contain a phone number to call, but many contain no information on how to stop future mailings. Often if you reply to these messages, you find that the return address or phone number is invalid or is that of someone other than the real sender.

Using Outlook's Rules Wizard and Assistants - learn how to use the Rules Wizard, one of the most powerful and versatile features of Outlook.

Spam Inspector ( Outlook Plugin) - the product uses unparalleled filtering technology based on statistical semantic pattern matching, blocking 99% of all incoming junk mail, even foreign spam! The SPAM INSPECTOR stays accurate with automatic updates of spam definitions and reported spam. ALL FREE, no subscriptions needed.

Browser Pop-Up Stoppers:
Say goodbye to pop-up ads forever! Works with all browsers and all Internet Connections!

Panicware - Powerful ad-blocking product that provides native support for AOL, MSN, Internet Explorer, Netscape, Opera, SBC Yahoo, CompuServe, WMConnect, Juno, NetZero, Mozilla all in one software package! Panicware's patent-pending XA (eXtensible Architecture) technology, makes sure your product will never be out of date.

Pop-Up Tester - PopupTest.com provides a simple and independent source for popup window testing. Whether you are developing a popup killer software or you are thinking about purchasing one, you can use their sample popups to test the effectiveness of your application.

Disposable Email Addresses:
Every time you disclose your Real Email Address, you lose control over how it is used. You cannot MAKE someone stop sending you email or prevent them from disclosing it to others.

Spamex - How does Spamex solve this problem! With Spamex you can:

  • Hide your Real Email Address
  • Stop unwanted email permanently
  • Reveal who disclosed your information
  • Keep track of logins and passwords
  • Make it easy to change your Real Email Address at any time

URL Obfuscation:
The obfuscated information below is only an overview and is provided as a service to help alert and educate users of this type of Spamming tool and should not be used for malicious means.

Spammers use obscured URL's to make you think you're visiting, say, www.microsoft.com, when in fact it's some other non-related site. Why obscure names in the first place? Most often it's because by publicly-available registration records that can help identify the owners of domain names. Even if the owner isn't traceable by that record, his service provider is. The last thing any a scammer or spammer wants is to be found by his victims, or to have his service provider alerted to his abuses. Although the use of obscured URL's is far from their only means of avoiding retribution, it has been a favorite to Spammers.

So be on the Alert!

The URL (Universal Resource Locator) of the page you are now viewing is
http://www.ecophotoexplorers.com/security.asp.

The above URL, when Obfuscated can be written as http://www.microsoft.com%00@2163316078/s%65c%75%72%69t%79%2E%61s%70. When actually displayed on the web, most people may think that this is a Microsoft address, but its not. Everything between the "http://" and the "@" symbol as well as including the "@" symbol is ignored. The "www.ecophotoexplorers.com" was translated to its IP address and then converted to its Dword equivalent. Finally, some of the characters in the "/security.asp" part of the address was converted to its hexadecimal equivalent.

http://www.microsoft.com - hover over the link and view the URL, then click it and see where it goes!

Use the URL Decoder from net.demon to decoder the obscured address above...

  • Dword - meaning double word because it consists essentially of two binary "words" of 16 bits; but it is expressed in decimal (base 10)
  • Octal - meaning it's expressed in base 8
  • Hexadecimal - hexa=6 + deci=10 (base 16)

This weird-looking address takes advantage of the fact that many people don't know about the structure of a valid URL. There's a little more to Internet addressing than commonly meets the eye; there are conventions which allow for some interesting variations in how an Internet address is expressed. These tricks are known to the spammers and scammers, and they're used freely in unsolicited mails. You'll also see them in ad-related URLs and occasionally on web pages where the writer hopes to avoid recognition of a linked address for whatever reason. URLs can be obscured at least three ways so be on the look-out:

  • Meaningless or deceptive text can be added after "http://" and before an "@" symbol.
  • The domain name can be expressed as an IP address, in dotted-decimal, dword, octal or hexadecimal format; and all of these formats have variants.
  • Characters in the URL can expressed as hexadecimal (base 16) numbers.

For more detailed information:
How Spammers and Scammers Hide and Confuse Users

URL Obfuscation and How It Works
TinyURL.com - this application uses a form of URL Obfuscation in a useful way.
Test to see if your browser is vulnerable to the Internet Explorer URL Spoofing Vulnerability.
URL Encoder | URL Encoder Download - See how hackers can turn normal web addresses into confusing, obfuscated URLs by replacing the address with HTTP encoded characters.

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Online Transaction Services

Follow these steps to protect information stored on your computer.

Virtual Credit Card Account Numbers - May card companies offer virtual account numbers. With this service for card members, never have to give out their real credit card number online. Every time you use  your Virtual Account Numbers to make a purchase, a substitute number is generated to take the place of your real number. And every purchase you make will appear on your credit card statement, just like any other transaction. Virtual Account Numbers cannot be used for purchases that require you to show your credit card at time of pick-up (e.g., airline tickets, movie tickets, etc.), because the account numbers will not match. It's a great way to protect your real credit card account number.

I already have $0 liability for unauthorized charges, so why use Virtual Account Numbers?

With $0 liability for unauthorized charges, you won't be held responsible for unauthorized charges to your account. But Virtual Account Numbers provides added protection by helping to prevent fraud when making online purchases. By using a substitute credit card number, you'll eliminate the opportunity for someone to steal your account number at all. Plus, each virtual account number is set to expire at the end of the following month and can only be used at a single merchant. This means if someone steals it, the number can't be used anywhere else.

Do I have to clear my Browser Cache?

Your browser could contain a memory of the account information you viewed during your session. In order to protect the privacy of your information, you can clear its memory by clearing the cache or closing the browser.

How can I delete my transaction information from the cache?

Here's how to ensure that your transaction information is cleared from the cache under Microsoft Windows and the Mac OS using today's leading browsers:

Microsoft Windows

Internet Explorer 5.0
From the Tools menu, select Internet Options

  • Click on the General tab.
  • In the area called "Temporary Internet files," click the Delete Files button. In the window that appears, select "Delete all offline content."
  • Click OK to confirm and you're done.

Internet Explorer 4.0
From the View menu, select Internet Options

  • Click on the General tab.
  • In the area called "Temporary Internet files," click the Delete Files button. In the window that appears, select "Delete all subscription content."
  • Click OK to confirm and you're done.

Netscape Communicator 4.x and Netscape Navigator 4.x
From the Edit menu, select Preferences

  • In the Category area, double-click Advanced. Then click on Cache.
  • On the right side of the screen, press the Clear Memory Cache button. Click OK to confirm.
  • Now press the Clear Disk Cache button. Click OK to confirm.
  • Press the OK button to exit the Preferences window, and you're done.

AOL 4, 5
From the AOL menu, select My AOL

  • Then choose Preferences.
  • Click on the WWW icon.
  • Click the General tab. Go to the Temporary Internet Files area.
  • Press Delete Files. Select "Delete all offline content." Click OK to confirm.
  • Press the OK button to exit the AOL Internet Properties window, and you're done.

AOL 6
From the AOL menu, choose Settings

  • In the Preferences window, under Organization, click Internet Properties.
  • Click the General tab. Go to the Temporary Internet Files area.
  • Press Delete Files. Select "Delete all offline content." Click OK to confirm.
  • Choose OK to exit the AOL Internet Properties window, and you're done.

Mac OS
Microsoft Internet Explorer 5
From the Edit menu, select Preferences

  • In the Internet Explorer Preferences window, look under Web Browser. Then click on Advanced.
  • In the Cache area on the right, click Empty Now.
  • Click OK to exit the Internet Explorer Preferences window.

Netscape Communicator 4.x and Netscape Navigator 4.x
From the Edit menu, select Preferences

  • In the Category area, double-click Advanced. Then click Cache.
  • Press the Clear Memory Cache button. Then click OK.
  • Press the Clear Disk Cache button. Then click OK.
  • Choose OK to exit.

AOL 4, 5
From the AOL menu, select My AOL

  • Select Preferences.
  • In the Preferences window, click the WWW icon on the left side of the screen.
  • In the Cache area, select Empty Cache Now. Click OK and you're done.

How can I prevent other people from seeing my application information?

If other people have access to the computer you are using to apply for a card, it may be possible for others to see some of your application information. Take these easy steps to prevent this and ensure the privacy of your data.
To begin, make sure you've set up Internet Explorer (IE) correctly. If you do, when you close IE it will automatically delete any copies of your application information from a computer running Microsoft Windows. (Netscape does this automatically, so you don't have to adjust any settings.) Here's how to set up IE 4.x and 5.x the right way:

  • From IE 5.x's Tools menu, select Internet Options. (In IE 4.x, go to the View menu.)
  • Click on the Advanced tab.
  • Scroll down until you see the Security section. Check the option that reads "Empty Temporary Internet Files folder when browser is closed." (In IE 4.x, the option to select is "Delete saved pages when browser closed.")
  • Click OK and you're done.

You also have to exit your browser properly, no matter which one you're using. Here's the right way to end your session. Exit your browser by following these steps:

  • Netscape Communicator 4.x or Navigator 4.x: From the File menu, select Exit. Or click the close button (X) in the upper right corner of the browser window.
  • Internet Explorer 4.x or later: From the File menu, select Close. Or click the close button (X) in the upper right corner of the browser window.
  • AOL 4, 5, and 6: From the File menu, select Exit. Or click the close button (the "X") in the trio of icons in the upper right corner of the browser window.

Anti-virus Software - Viruses are programs or pieces of computer code that are loaded onto your computer without your knowledge and run against your wishes. Viruses often copy themselves, quickly absorbing all available memory and bringing your computer to a halt. Anti-virus software programs periodically check your computer for the best-known viruses.  Viruses downloaded without your knowledge can erase important information from your computer. To reduce the risk of infection:

  • Install anti–virus software and update it regularly with the most current version.
  • Purchase a program that regularly upgrades your virus protection.
  • Scan all files on your computer periodically for viruses.

Firewalls - Firewalls prevent outsiders from gaining unauthorized access to your computer. All messages pass through the firewall, and those that do not meet the specified security criteria are blocked. Our secure servers are protected by numerous firewalls, which are constantly monitored to prevent security breaches. Additionally, we recommend you:

  • Install firewall software and update it regularly with the most current version.
  • Remove sensitive information from your hard drive and place it on removable diskettes and CDs.

128-Bit Encryption - Citibank uses Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) for secure transmissions. SSL applies encryption between two communicating applications, such as your PC and our corporate Internet server. When your data is transmitted over the Internet, it is encrypted or “scrambled” at the sending end and then decrypted or “unscrambled” at the receiving end. We use 128-bit encryption, the highest level generally available today.

Check your browser to be sure it has the added security of 128-Bit Encryption.

Cookies - Though there is little chance a cookie will ever harm your computer, you can reject them by reconfiguring the preferences in your browser. If you choose to do so, you may not be able to use certain services or features on our website.

In order to provide better service or to address security hazards, some site will occasionally use a "cookie". The cookie is a small piece of information that cannot be read by a website other than the one that set it. We use cookies to store your preferences for certain kinds of information or to store a password so that you do not have to input it every time you visit our site. Most cookies last only through a single session, or visit to our site. None will contain information that will enable anyone to contact you via telephone, email, or any other means. You can set up your web browser to inform you when cookies are set or to prevent cookies from being set.

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Security Information and Tools

Gibson Research Corporation: http://grc.com/default.htm
Gibson Research Corporation, is good source of internet security information and FireWall Testing. Ensure that your PC's personal firewall can not be easily fooled by malicious "Trojan" programs or viruses.
The Anatomy of File Download Spyware | Patchwork | ShieldsUP - Internet security checkup

European Institute for Computer Anti-Virus Research (EICAR): http://www.eicar.org
EICAR a virus/security watchdog combines universities, industry and media plus technical, security and legal experts from civil and military government and law enforcement as well as privacy protection organisations whose objectives are to unite efforts against writing and proliferation of malicious code like computer viruses or Trojan Horses, and, against computer crime, fraud and the misuse of computers or networks, inclusive malicious exploitation of personnel data, based on a code of conduct.

The EICAR virus test file has been provided EICAR to for distribution as the EICAR "Standard Anti-Virus Test File", and it satisfies all the criteria listed above. It is safe to pass around, because it is not a virus, and does not include any fragments of viral code. Most products react to it as if it were a virus (though they typically report it with an obvious name, such as "EICAR-AV-Test"). If using this to test "Trend Micro" Antivirus software, you will have to turn off "I/O Scan" to delete test file from system and recycle bin, then turn it back on. Right mouse click "Trend Micro" icon in task bar to access "I/O Scan". Do a file search on "eicar" to locate file and delete it. AntiVirus testfile

Network Solutions Privacy Protection - http://www.internetprivacyadvocate.org/
The site also offers helpful tips for what you can do to keep your private data even more secure.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers ( ICANN )
http://www.icann.org/

Is the non-profit corporation responsible for oversight of domain name registrations and for accrediting domain name service providers.

Practical Programs for Paranoid People

Sysinternals Freeware - http://sysinternals.com/
The Sysinternals web site provides you with advanced utilities, technical information, and source code related to Windows 9x, Windows Me, and Windows NT/2000

DiamondCS - Internet Security Research And Development
http://www.diamondcs.com.au

InfoWorld Alert: Security Index | To Subscribe

NTBugtraq - http://www.ntbugtraq.com/
Mailing list for the discussion of security exploits and security bugs in Windows NT and its related applications.

BugTraq - http://www.securityfocus.com/
Mailing list for the discussion of security exploits and security bugs in UNIX, NT, Win95, Novell, Mac, etc. bugs and exploits.

Virus Hoax Hotline - http://www.f-secure.com/virus-info/hoax/
Hoax warnings are typically scare alerts started by malicious people and passed on by innocent users who think they are helping the community by spreading the warning.

Secunia Stay Secure Advisories - http://secunia.com/
One of the best advisory sources that display the most validated vulnerability information available, ensuring that users stay informed about the latest threats and have the best information to work with.

Microsoft Security - Computer security over the Internet is a worldwide concern fundamental to the way we live and do business. To help ensure this security, Microsoft is mobilizing its people and resources in the Microsoft Strategic Technology Protection Program--that integrates products, services, and support.

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Last update on: December 03, 2005

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