Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Run across a fraud or malware term and not sure what it is? Look it up in our Security Glossary!
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You Will Be Hacked
It's not a matter of IF you'll be hacked any longer. It's wondering WHEN.
Java has made the news highlights over the past week with news of a zero-day vulnerability. Commentators will tell you to disable the plug-in.
But what does this all really mean? And will it help?
Java is a program that allows website functionality. It allows you to conduct online banking, play online games, chat with people, view 3D images and much more. It's built into your PC or Mac.
Since it's so widespread, it's also a favorite for cyber crooks. This is one program you want to update when prompted. Oracle releases frequent patches as vulnerabilities are detected.
It was one such detection last week that made the headlines.
Users running their version 7 rev. 10 are vulnerable to the threat. Industry experts say that's about 100 million users.
The Department of Homeland Security issued the warning after detecting two zero-day flaws. Oracle responded quickly with a patch. For one of them. Their next patch is due out on February 15th.
Malware package kits exploiting this vulnerability are already out on the black market. By the time the next patch is released, it may be too late for many of us.
Here's what you can do now:
Update your Java. You can find the tools to do this on their website. Your first step should be to find out what version of Java you have running. Their home page has a link asking "Do I have Java?" Click on it to run an auto-detect tool that will confirm your current version. If it's version 7 rev. 10 or lower, follow the links for a free download.
Don't forget to remove the older versions. They have a link for that, too, with directions on removing the software using Windows Control Panel. Mac users will see instructions for their system.
The Department of Homeland Security warns us that updating Java may not be enough. You may want to disable it completely. But realize your websites, games and anything else dependent on Java will be rendered inoperable. Not all websites, merely those functions based on Java.
Unless you're technically inclined, I don't recommend disabling Java in Internet Explorer. It involves a registry edit that will wreak havoc if not performed exactly as directed. You're best to remove the program entirely in this situation.
Firefox and Chrome both offer easy methods to disable any plug-in. Click the Firefox button, choose Add-ons and then the Plug-in tab. You'll see Java listed along with a Disable button.
Chrome users can type chrome://plugins directly into the location bar to find the same option.
Using Safari? Choose Preferences, Security, and uncheck the Enable Java box. Those of you using Opera can follow the same directions as Chrome users.
The Internet is a huge resource. One that comes with huge responsibility. It's one more component of daily life that needs to be managed. Done properly, you may one of the lucky ones who avoid my opening prediction.
Will Your Face Be Shown?
It's been a while since we talked about Facebook in GCFlash. It had become so commonplace that our input was no longer necessary. Lately, though, the social networking giant has unveiled some new bells and whistles that are worth discussing.
Possibly to attract stockholders, maybe to increase value for those who jumped in during their IPO craze, or could be to remain relevant as upstarts try to dethrone their hold as Master of the Media. Socially speaking, that is.
Whatever their motive, the results benefit all who login and post on their pages.
First came Login Approvals. Facebook followed Gmail's lead in securing users with a multi-factor authentication option. Configure your account to require a security code if someone is attempting to access it from an unknown browser. So if you login to your account from your neighbor's PC, Facebook will say, "Hey, is that really you?" and shoot a security code off to your mobile phone. You'll need to enter the code to proceed.
Why would someone try to hack into your Facebook account? Your online identity holds value to a cyber criminal. They can use your credentials to distribute malware, scam your friends or commit fraud in your name.
To enable Login Approval, click on the Settings icon at the far right of your Facebook toolbar. Select Security and you'll see a list of options you can enable to safeguard your Facebook account.
The social networking site has also made it easier to find your privacy settings, and has tried to do a better job of describing options in plain English. You'll see the lock icon just to the left of the aforementioned Settings icon.
You can better control who sees your future posts. Create a Close Friends list to assure only those you really care about know your vacation destination. Limit who sees general posts, who can look you up and how, or review all your posts and the things you're tagged in.
View your timeline as others see it. You can even look at it as a specific friend would.
For all their security enhancements, they still have a way to go with privacy efforts. Yes, you may be echoing my frequent lament... it's very purpose is to share information. How can you possibly maintain privacy?
The information you choose to share is one thing. Tracking you around the web, even when you're logged out of Facebook, is another.
Every time you visit a web page with a Like button displayed, the social site knows about it. Facebook claims this only happens when you're logged into their site. The truth is their cookies never expire.
If you have a Facebook account, you are being tracked.
They're not selling your personal information. But they are pushing ads out based on your travels, likes and location. They can boost ad revenue by selling ad space to a targeted audience.
There are several third party applications available that would delete all cookies automatically when you logout of any web site. But then again, those apps would have to know what sites you're on as well. So are you really gaining anything? They could just as easily jump on the targeted ad bandwagon.
In a major announcement today, Facebook found Mark Zuckerberg introduced a new aspect to the site. No longer speculation, Graph Search is a search engine where you can look up anything shared with you. And a little bit more.
It's a useful way for retrieving and refining the data mine that is Facebook. Say, for example, you want to translate a phrase in Italian but don't want to rely on a site translator. Search for "Friends who speak Italian" and Facebook will scour your friend list to recommend someone whose translation you trust.
Or you have an extra ticket to the Sixers game and not sure who to invite. Your usual game day pal can't go. Search for "Friends who are fans of the Sixers" to find someone you may not have considered.
Hook up with others in your area who share an interest. Try "People in my city who ride motorcycles" and find new riding buddies.
Graph Search launches today in select beta markets. But you can give it a test drive and learn a bit more now.
We've added a Financial Glossary to GCFBank.com! Not just the standard definitions, but also the commentary you came to know and expect in our Financial Insights column. Extracted from past issues of GCFlash and compiled on one convenient page for your reference.
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