New vulnerability endangers Internet Explorer users

By: Doug Zbikowski

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UPDATE (May 1, 2014, 1:30pm ET): Microsoft has released an emergency patch for the Internet Explorer vulnerability. In a surprise move, they also released an update for Windows XP! Head over to Windows Update to get it.

A new bug has been discovered that could put Internet Explorer users at serious risk. Until the problem is fixed security experts are calling on users to switch to an alternative browser such as Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. In a rare move, the US Government is advising to users to switch to another browser until Internet Explorer is fixed.

On April 26th, 2014, Microsoft announced that all versions of Internet Explorer are at risk for “drive-by” attacks from malicious websites. This new vulnerability, dubbed CVE-2014-1776, has the potential to give hackers direct access to your computer, allowing infected web sites to install malicious applications, create new Windows accounts, and change or delete data stored on the computer. Disturbingly, these attacks have actually been observed in the wild by Internet security firm FireEye, who started observing this type of attack as early as February. Microsoft says attacks seem to be coming from websites that feature advertisement feeds or user-provided content where an attacker could insert malicious code. At this time it is unknown whether Microsoft will release an emergency patch or wait until patch Tuesday on May 13th to fix the vulnerability. Read more of this post

Security Alert for Internet Explorer Users

Microsoft URGES everyone to install security tool

UPDATE: Microsoft has released a patch to fix this security issue as of 9/22/12. Please run Windows Update to make sure you are patched.

 

This week, Microsoft is urging Windows users to install a security tool to protect against a newly discovered bug in Internet Explorer.

This security issue may allow hackers to take control of infected PCs and affects all versions Internet Explorer browsers. Microsoft is currently working to patch the flaw, but their security tool should protect users in the meantime.

The free security tool, called the Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit,  is available from Microsoft.

The malicious software,  known as Poison Ivy, was discovered last Friday and has the capability of stealing data and assuming remote control of infected PC’s. Being a “zero-day” infection, there are not any effective patches or protections available against it as of yet. Antivirus manufacturers are working on updates to protect against Poison Ivy, and are expected to have them available later this week.

In the meantime, be sure to install any Windows updates as soon as they are available. Check for the latest updates from Windows Update.

For free antivirus software, visit TOAST.net’s Software Page.

Update 9/20/12:

Microsoft has announced a patch for this vulnerability will be made available on Friday, Sept. 21st via Windows Update.

If your technology isn’t transparent, it’s not working.

I was driving home from the office the other day and felt the urge to blast some tunes. Without even looking, I hit the power button on the radio, hit the scan button several times, and adjusted the volume just loud enough to blast away all thoughts of the TPS reports and stapler requisition forms due the next day. If you think about it, a car radio is a perfect example of “transparent technology.” They are all designed to fit the car’s environment, the controls are easy to use, and they work without having to put much thought into it…the radio is a part of the car rather than its own special-needs device. All technology should work this same way. Its whole purpose is to make lives easier and more efficient, not complicated and expensive. Many tech-curmudgeons will say “All modern technology is complicated!”, and that’s a true statement. The trick is to make sure you’re using appropriate technology. Read more of this post

The New IT Department – Focused, Smaller, and Possibly Non-Existent

Are IT Departments Needed Anymore?IT Professionals aren’t as comfortable as they used to be.

During the technology boom of the mid-90’s, those working in IT were looked upon as the top of the food chain. They were amazing! They were miracle workers! They could accomplish anything using little more than their pocket protectors and some magic DOS commands.

Times are a changin’. PC’s are as user friendly as ever, cloud computing is replacing complicated office network setups, most hardware is to the point where you plug it in and it works…a lot of IT workers are starting to look like the Maytag Repairman. As a result, many small and medium businesses are focusing their computer staff on development, putting them on a contract basis, or getting rid of internal IT staffing all together. This is a great money saving idea in theory, but there is a flaw in the logic — with nobody running maintenance on the hardware, problems inevitably creep up and costly repairs can result. Read more of this post

Five Questions About Managed Services for Small Business

Managed Services are catching on!The latest buzz-word floating around the small-business world is “managed services,” and many are left scratching their heads as to what it means.  It’s a term every company needs to look into, and it’s stirring a bit of a revolution in the business world.  Here’s a quick run-down of what managed services can do and what to look for. Read more of this post

Twelve Easy Ways to Protect Your Online Privacy

Many people think the Internet is full of boogeymen waiting to jump them after every click.  I think this is why so many users have trouble with computers.  They don’t trust them.  They’re convinced that one mis-click will end Social Security, start a war with Brazil, and all things chocolate will turn into vanilla.

There’s a widely-held belief that computers have this much power.

The truth is, the Internet isn’t all that bad.  It’s actually the user that has all the power.  Part of the  perceived problem is caused by common sense (or the suspension of).   Something happens where a user’s inhibitions go out the window while they’re online.  It’s like their mouse is injecting tequila into their bloodstream, and after a while —   WOOHOO!!!  Anything goes!  I’ll tell anyone anything!

The other part of the perceived problem is complacency.  If you’re in your pajamas, in your office, or better yet — in your pajamas while in your office, you feel safe and secluded.  Nothing can reach you there.  You start getting lazy about update notices, stop reading things through before clicking on them…and then BAM!  You’re nailed.

Vigilance is the key.  There is no vacation from following safe practices.  Just follow these twelve steps and keep yourself out of trouble: Read more of this post

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