How Real Is Cyber Threat?

Technology is like anything else that can be used for good or for evil purposes.  Many things have dual purposes or even more than just dual purposes, and technology is no exception to this fact.  Perhaps, there is an exception to the rule, but my small brain cannot think up one for the moment.  Anyhow, there are forces in the world that are trying to use technology for evil purposes.  For an example, from nuclear to cyber threats.  Nuclear threat has existed for many decades already, and by now most people know what MAD means.  In this blog post I’m not going to bother with voicing my opinion on nuclear threat.  Instead, I’m going to focus on voicing my opinion on cyber threat.

Lately, we have seen big powers like USA and China accuse each other of cyber warfare.  It’s obvious that it’s hard to know who is doing what in term of hacking one another in the cyberspace.  Nonetheless, I think I know why cyber threat is a growing concern.

On the surface, before we unravel all the layers of onion, we truly cannot see why there are fusses about cyber security.  For some people, they think that cyber threat can be dealt with best cyber security practices and no more than that.  Of course, it’s true that cyber security measures such as installing well known antivirus software and firewall are definitely going to help counter most cyber vulnerabilities.  Nonetheless, there are other cyber vulnerabilities out there that won’t be eliminated by even the most powerful firewall and antivirus programs.  Why?  I think there are some well kept or new cyber vulnerabilities that have not been dealt with, because these cyber vulnerabilities are well kept secrets or too new.  By using these cyber vulnerabilities and better hacking tools, hackers are able to wreck havocs on the cyber networks of the world.

When we peel more layers of the onion off, we can see that cyber security is very important.  How come?  In my opinion, it’s about a digital future where money mainly get create in digital form.  This is the future trend that our present (the world) is heading for.  Of course, if we just rely on cyber networks for communication and not for banking and monetization, then cyber security can only be boiled down to privacy and few other things but not of money matters.  Nonetheless, cyber networks as in the Internet can be used for electronic commerce, banking, and the whole nine yards.  This means cyber security is needing to be taken seriously, otherwise hackers can just waltz in and erase, steal, change, and do whatever else to the digital money that belong to various money matter institutions such as banking, electronic commerce giants, and whatnot.

I can imagine a scenario that a group of powerful hackers that is sponsored by a powerful organization hacks a cyber system of a country to a point that they erase all of the digital money from this country, leaving this country as a bankrupted nation.  Nonetheless, this country can totally create new digital money out of thin air if she wants to, but will this be ethically, legally, and sensibly?  Can such an incident be covered up easily?  After all, we’re living in a globalized world, and transactions are having been done globally all the time; something like this if to rain upon a country will not be easily covered up.

This is why I think cyber security issues are so important nowadays.  Without proper measures to protect cyber networks, the vulnerable Internet can gradually weaken the trust of digital money transactions, leaving countries and everyday people seek out the traditional means of doing transactions.  Perhaps, this is why we’re seeing the prevalence of traditional transactions today.  Cash is one good example of traditional transactions.

When I’m hearing how one country is having difficulty in protecting a state secret from being leaked out through the cyber networks, I think it’s absurd that such a country is connecting her secret networks to the Internet in the first place.  I think each country should keep her state secrets on an Intranet that won’t be connected to the regular Internet.  Furthermore, such a country needs to provide physical protections to her Intranet, because when hacking cannot be done remotely someone ought to waltz into such a network physically so the hacking can be done eventually.  For an example, stealing state secrets with the usage of a thumb drive (USB devices or similar devices).

In summary, I think the fusses about cyber security threat are real.  This is why we are hearing countries complain about being victims to hack attacks and whatnot.  Corporations are also experiencing cyber security issues, because corporate espionage can be done through cyber networks with ease.  Whenever an entity is connecting to the Internet and it doesn’t matter what type of entity that is, cyber security issues become real just like any other important issue that matters.  Of course, if there is a day that we do not rely on the Internet anymore and money transactions do not take place in the Internet, then cyber threat will not be a threat of anything but only a historical fact.

Personal Note:  The advance of encryption is also important, because encryption can be incorporated into various network tools to secure the Internet transactions.  With strong encryption, it’s harder for hackers to decrypt the Internet transactions into plain text, thus preventing important information from being leaked.

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With The New Mavericks, I Found Love In Bitdefender Virus Scanner

English: An "X" colored to be simila...

English: An “X” colored to be similar to the logo for Mac OS X tiger (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I just got done updating my MacBook Pro to the latest Mac OS X which is the Mavericks.  Coincidentally with the Mavericks update, my Kaspersky antivirus for Mac is about to be expired, seven days to be exact, and so I was frantically searching for a good alternative.  I downloaded all sorts of antivirus for Mac out there, but I found many of them had performed poorly or not worked at all with Mac OS X Mavericks.  Luckily, I found one that is working rather well with Mac OS X Mavericks at this point in time.  I didn’t even have to download it on a strange website, because it is readily available in the Mac App Store.  Basically, I pulled my hair out for nothing!  The antivirus I’m talking of is the Bitdefender Virus Scanner.

You can download Bitdefender Virus Scanner for free in the Mac App Store.  This antivirus app runs well, and I haven’t found any trouble with it yet.  It does not slow down my MacBook Pro at all, and so this is a really big plus.  I found most Mac antivirus software tend to slow down my MacBook Pro a lot, but Bitdefender Virus Scanner proves to be not this sort of case at all.  One downside to this Mac antivirus app is that it does not have a real time monitoring/scanning feature.  You know how the antivirus software on Windows would behave?  (Lurking in the background and checking to see if there is a malicious process!)

Bitdefender Virus Scanner also got a paid version, and you can also find it in the Mac App Store.  I think it is being called as Virus Scanner Plus.  I think the paid version comes with more features such as Continuous Scan, but I don’t really know what this feature does since I haven’t yet bought the paid version.

I combine Bitdefender Virus Scanner with Little Snitch Network Monitor to add an additional sound security defense measure for my MacBook Pro.  The first line of defense is obviously would be the Mac OS X Mavericks’ default firewall.  Still, you can never know how much computer security measures would be enough, because there is always that somebody who knows just enough to poke a hole through your computer security defense.  I hope this little confession of mine will be of some help to Mac users who are thinking of adding an antivirus program to their computer security defense.

How To Protect Windows 8.1 From Viruses And Malware For Free Or On The Cheap!

Windows 8.1 just came out to update Windows 8.  Usually, a slight change in the iteration version such as Windows 8.1, hence it’s still a Windows 8 iteration, means there will be little improvement and change to the overall of the iteration.  Nonetheless, Windows 8.1 is not at all like this.  Instead, Windows 8.1 iteration version brings a lot of changes to the Windows 8 iteration.  One example of the major changes to Windows 8 iteration is that 3D printer is now being supported by Windows 8.1.

When early adopters such as I see something new and shiny, we want to be the first people to jump on the bandwagon.  Unfortunately, more than often we think, being the first people on the bandwagon can be rather unfortunate.  In Windows 8.1 case, there are many unfortunate events.  One example would be driver failure.  Nonetheless, with enough heart, an early adopter might eventually feel that it’s totally worth it.

In Windows 8.1 case, driver failure is supposed to be the least concern, but it turns out to be a much bigger concern.  Furthermore, many software that support Windows 8 aren’t so compatible with Windows 8.1, considering 8.1 is a slight change in the iteration versions.  Some of these incompatible software might work just fine with the switching of the compatibility mode.  (Sarcastically, yes it’s still being run on Windows 8!)  I found out that other software basically refuse to be ran on Windows 8.1 altogether even though these are being instructed to be ran in Windows 8 compatibility mode.

With all of that being said, I’m definitely all for being an early adopter, because being an early adopter might push you to tinker with whatever you’re trying to experiment with at the early stage of its lifespan.  By tinkering with things, one might be able to improve one’s whatever skill and knowledge.  Furthermore, being an early adopter means you can be the early warning sign hero in telling the good and the bad about whatever that you’re trying to adopt early.

In Windows 8.1 case, although not a biggie, I’m going to be the early warning sign hero of how to protect Windows 8.1 from viruses and malware for free or on the cheap.  Within the video right after the break, I speak of how to protect Windows 8.1 from viruses and malware for free or on the cheap.  (Not everyone is having a luxury of affording expensive computer security software’s annual subscription, therefore knowing how to protect a computer from computer infections with a shoestring budget is a very cool thing to do.  Saving money is definitely cool!  Saving money but having a computer getting hacked is definitely not cool!  So doing it right is definitely awesome!  Obviously, there won’t be a hacker proof computer security measure or measures.  Nonetheless, without trying to protect your computer from the bad stuffs implying that you’re welcoming your computer to be hacked.)  Enjoy the video right after the break, and hopefully you don’t snore before the video ends.

(The audio of the video is now synching correctly!  Please enjoy the video!)

Securely Delete Files On Windows 7 With Eraser

English: A candidate icon for Portal:Computer ...

English: A candidate icon for Portal:Computer security (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How do we delete files on Windows 7 securely?  Unlike Mac which comes with a utility by default for deleting data securely, Windows users have to seek out and install a third party software which will allow them to delete data securely on Windows 7.  Nonetheless, download a wrong third party software for this very purpose might do more harm than good.  What if you have downloaded a malware?  This is why I usually cringe whenever I have to download a third party software  for whatever purpose.

Anyhow, I had found a third party software known as Eraser which allows me to delete files securely on Windows 7.  At first, I didn’t trust Eraser, but I looked around the web and only read good things to be said about this particular software.  Furthermore, I scanned Eraser with Norton and ClamWin antivirus software and found that Eraser to be free from virus and malware.  If Norton and ClamWin were effective at scanning for viruses and malware in this particular case, Eraser is not a virus or a malware.  I trusted the antivirus software scan results and so I installed Eraser and used it.

I found that Eraser is very simple to use and fast.  Perhaps, my desktop is somewhat beefy (powerful), therefore Eraser is able to utilize the horsepower of the desktop to securely delete files in a very fast manner. I had tried to delete a 300 MB file and Eraser zipped through the process with ease.  I forgot how long it took, but it was fast.

Since Eraser is quite powerful and useful in allowing regular computer users to securely delete files with ease, I went ahead and created a video which briefly demonstrated its ease of use.  Just a head up though, I actually somewhat talked lengthily about why do we need to delete files in a secure manner.  I hope such a talk won’t bored you too much.

Lastly, I do not condone you to use Eraser as a tool to cover up illegal activities, OK?  I recommend Eraser since it’s useful for regular computer users to remove sensitive data on their own computers, and in doing this they can protect themselves from leaking their personal sensitive information such as social security number from whoever that wants to forensically uncover these sort of data for nefarious purposes.  Anyhow, please enjoy the video right after the break.

What About Free Avast For Mac?

Image of free Avast antivirus for Mac

Image of free Avast antivirus for Mac

According to PCWorld’s Avast Offers Free Security for Mac OS X article, Avast is now offering free antivirus for Mac users.  Me personally (obviously using incorrect grammar here for fun) would not need Avast since I had Norton Internet Security installed on my MacBook Pro, but I was curious about free Avast antivirus for Mac and so I had downloaded and installed it onto my MacBook Pro anyway.  Usually, it is not a good idea to run two security solutions together, whether that be antivirus solutions or not (and definitely you cannot run two firewall solutions on the same machine as firewall rules will conflict each other), but sometimes some antivirus (and other security solutions) do play nice with each other.  I think free Avast antivirus for Mac might be the one, because I haven’t seen Avast has yet threw a tantrum against Norton Internet Security.  I once had installed another security solution on Mac which now I forgot what it was, but I still remembered it had stopped Norton Internet Security’s Automatic Protection Virus Protection from working.

Anyhow, installing free Avast antivirus for Mac is easy enough.  Just like installing any other application onto Mac, you just have to double click on the download file of free Avast antivirus for Mac so the package can be extracted, drag the free Avast antivirus application within the extracted package to the application folder, and that’s it for installing free Avast antivirus for Mac.  After installing it, I went ahead and registered an account with Avast so my free Avast antivirus for Mac would not show up as expiring in 30 days if I clicked on Registration link under Maintenance portion within free Avast antivirus for Mac’s left panel.  Afterward, I went to free Avast antivirus for Mac’s Preferences to further configure free Avast antivirus for Mac to my liking.  Finally, I used free Avast antivirus for Mac to scan my whole Mac.

For now, I can’t really comment how good free Avast antivirus for Mac is, because I’m still playing with it.  Plus, I’m not sure how long free Avast antivirus for Mac would play nice with Norton Internet Security’s antivirus.  Nonetheless, I’ll play with free Avast antivirus for Mac for some time to come.  When I do have enough experience with free Avast antivirus for Mac, I intend to make a short video to review this particular antivirus solution for Mac.

My two cents to you is that if you are worrying about how hackers have increased their attacks against Mac ecosystem (i.e., writing malware and trojan horses for Mac OS X), then you should give free Avast antivirus for Mac solution a try.  Of course, if you’re going to be like me, installing two antivirus solutions on a Mac, then you’ll never know something strange might occur.  I suggest you not to go ahead and install two antivirus solutions on a single machine (e.g., Mac, PC), because it’s a recipe for resource hogging (i.e., your system might slow down tremendously since both antivirus or security solutions are fighting for the same resources).

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Product Review: Norton Internet Security 2012 (Video)

It’s this time of the year that new computer security products make themselves known.  It’s this time of the year that I like to do product reviews on various computer security products.  Well, within this post, I like to post a video that I had created for the purpose of reviewing Symantec’s Norton Internet Security 2012.  So, I hope you’ll enjoy the “Product Review:  Norton Internet Security 2012” video right after the break.

Questions:

  1. Do you think Norton Internet Security 2011 was a good product?
  2. Do you think that you’re going to try out Norton Internet Security 2012?

Please leave your answers in the comment section below this post.  Thank you!