Tico Byte

November, 2006


Here is your PC Club's Tico Byte for November. The club meeting is this Saturday, Nov. 18th at the Pan-American School as usual. The meeting starts at 8:30am and there is lots to do and talk about this time. We will have presentations on virtual machines, a short presentation on one member's use of Emacs, how to remove WGA problems, the latest on Firefox, how to make your USB drive call for help, how to use the new Google documents feature, some keen travel sites, sessions on Ubuntu as well as other computer related problem solving. We will discuss the status of the Christmas party. So bring a friend and come early. See you there.


Now the Byte:


Item 1: From Fred Langa's newsletter

Did You *Really* Send An Infected E-Mail?


    Hi Fred - Love the list. I'm writing about item 4 from your 11/1 newsletter ("Message Says, 'You've Sent Infected E-Mail'"

    http://langa.com/newsletters/2006/2006-11-02.htm#4) which talked about an email that a reader received saying he'd sent infected email. In your response, you mentioned that it might be a phishing type of scheme, and you also gave recommendations about setting up PC-cillin. However, I think you missed the most obvious possibility - the reader's email addressed was probably faked from someone else's infected machine - so when it was "returned", it was sent to the reader, instead of the actual sender. Take care! ---Tony Mayer


Well, yes: There are actually *many* reasons why any e-mail user could receive a notification that he or she sent an infected message. In the interest of brevity, we focused on the one that seemed most appropriate for that reader's situation. We didn't intend to oversimplify.


But you're right, there are other reasons for the "you're infected" return emails, and they fall into one of two categories: 1) it's true; and 2) it's false.


These "false" e-mails should be treated just like any other spam--- in fact some significant percentage of garden-variety spam involves some form of e-mail spoofing (such as the e-mail with fake header information that Tony refers to). Like any other spam, it's important to avoid the temptation to reply to, or forward, the message. Just delete it, period.


However, the "true" reports--- when e-mail correctly says you sent infected e-mail--- require other actions. Reader James Dix mentioned in his original note that he's running PC-cillin and that he's scanning incoming e-mail, but said nothing about outgoing e-mail. That's why we provided instructions on how to enable that feature.


Our bottom line recommendation is to use good security tools, especially a quality antivirus package; and activate the outgoing e-mail scan feature. Keep the AV package and OS (and all your security tools) up to date. Then, any e-mails you get reporting that you've sent infected mail will most likely be the result of spoofing, spamming or social engineering; and can be ignored.



Item 2: Microsoft says Google is a virus



Gmail's popularity may be viral, but the e-mail software is not a virus--despite a Microsoft alert.


From late last week until Sunday night, the Windows Live OneCare security software incorrectly flagged the Google e-mail service as a threat. A warning popped up when OneCare users opened the Gmail Web site, telling them that their systems were infected with a virus called "BAT/BWG.A."


"This was a limited false positive issue with our antivirus protection," a Microsoft representative said Monday. "After we became aware of the issue, we released a new antivirus signature that resolved the issue for our customers on Sunday evening."





Item 3: Notebooks dropping to $99 levels


The discount-notebook madness continues.


Circuit City will try to best Wal-Mart and Staples in notebook pricing this holiday season with a Compaq notebook for $299 after rebates, or $99 with rebates and a 12-month subscription to Vonage, according to bargain hunting Web site Black Friday 2006.


The site posts scans of Sunday newspaper inserts before they get delivered in papers. The deals can change, but history shows that the prices reflected in the ads become a reality. Steve Baker at NPD Techworld earlier this month predicted that $99 laptops, after all rebates and specials, would appear this holiday season.




Item 4: No Vista for majority of European businesses, study finds


More than half of European organizations have no plan to upgrade to Windows Vista, according to a Forrester survey.


The survey, of 302 IT chiefs at European businesses, also found that 20 per cent are planning to wait up to two years after Vista's corporate release, scheduled for the end of November, before introducing it. Just six per cent said they planned to deploy Microsoft's long-awaited operating system within the first six months, and 18 per cent within one year.


"This is behind the anticipated rate of adoption in North America, reflecting greater resistance to the Microsoft product strategy from users in the European market," Forrester said in its report.





Item 5: Microsoft offers prank Blue Screen of Death


A prank application that mimics the notorious Blue Screen of Death is now available from Microsoft's own Web site.


At the start of this month, the software giant updated its TechNet Web pages with the tools it acquired through its purchase of Sysinternals in July. Sysinternals provides professional system utilities for Windows system management and troubleshooting and has also offered a spoof Blue Screen of Death for some time.


But antivirus vendors are not impressed with the spoof screensaver software, which is named BlueScreen v3.2.



Item 6: Microsoft warns of 5 "critical" security holes

Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq:MSFT - news) on Tuesday issued five "critical" security patches to fix flaws in its software that the company warned could allow attackers to take control of a user's computer.



Item 7: Google Earth maps history

Google added historic map overlays to its free interactive online globe of the world to provide views of how places have changed with time.


Google Earth engineers digitized one of the largest US map collections and integrated the information into its program, which lets users virtually navigate the planet and swoop in for closer looks.




Item 8: Christmas party

Come and learn about it at the meeting. Saturday, 8:30am, Pan-American School




P.S. Please don't forget to support our club by remembering to pay your dues for 2007!