The Internet Security Suites Blog

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Microsoft Launches a Beta of Windows Live OneCare Family Safety

A Redmond-based giant on Wednesday launched a beta version of Windows Live OneCare Family Safety, an add-on to its security suite aimed at protecting families online. The application includes content filtering technologies, as well as contact management, activity reports, and guidance on online safety issues.

"The Internet offers fantastic opportunities to explore and learn, and OneCare Family Safety aims to ensure that those opportunities aren't limited due to questionable content," the company said in a blog posting Wednesday. "Microsoft is focused on improving our new OneCare Family Safety service and we hope that you will try it out and offer your thoughts on its features and usability."

Family Safety Settings is designed to include the following features:
  • Content filtering
    Web filtering will allow customers to choose settings to “allow,” “block” or “warn” for a range of content categories, and unique settings can be applied for each member of the household. The filtering settings will be enforced when a user logs on to Windows Live on a PC that is running Family Safety Settings. Parents will be able to review and adjust settings online anytime from any PC to help meet the family’s evolving needs.
  • Expert guidance
    AAP and other respected child organizations worldwide will provide parents with valuable guidance on age-appropriate settings and online activities. For example, users will have access to guidelines on how to help a child use online communications safely or how parents should talk to children about inappropriate Web browsing.
  • Activity reports
    Parents will be able to access activity reports for each user in the family, at any time from any PC connected to the Internet, to help them stay informed about how their children are browsing the Web or communicating online.
  • Contact management
    Parents will be able to create “allow” lists for communication services, including Windows Live Mail, Windows Live Messenger and Windows Live Spaces, to help prevent their children from crossing paths with unknown contacts. The allow list will also help parents restrict access to a child’s personal Web log (blog) or social networking page to only those contacts they have approved. These communication services protections will apply any time a user is logged in through Windows Live.

“Online safety for children is a crucial issue facing families today. We’re designing Windows Live Family Safety Settings to help open the lines of communication between parents and children and in the process, give them a safer Internet experience,” said Blake Irving, corporate vice president of MSN. “We’ve heard a universal concern about exposure to unwanted content regardless of age, and Windows Live Family Safety Settings will help here as well. We’re providing tools to put people in control so they can explore the Web more safely.”

Microsoft said it also plans to make international versions of the software available to users in the coming months. Family Safety is the third free service to arrive as part of the Windows Live OneCare suite.



   
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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

BitDefender Internet Security Version 10 Released

Romanian security vendor released newest version of its Internet security solution offering strongest heuristics-based protection and new anti-rootkit technology.

“A study recently published by a leading consumer review publication found in the past two years, 29% of household computer users were hit by viruses, spyware or phishing scams, causing serious and often costly computer problems. What’s more surprising is that a large percentage of the users surveyed had not deployed security software to protect their systems against these types of attacks,” commented Nicolae Simon, BitDefender product marketing manager.

“These statistics show that there is an increasing need for consumers and businesses to integrate security software solutions which make use of the most advanced forms of protection. By basing our latest solutions on the proven capabilities of B-HAVE, and by adding new features to make our software easier to use and far more flexible, BitDefender continues to raise the security market’s industry standard.”

The latest version of BitDefender Internet Security covers all the security needs of an Internet-connected household by providing comprehensive protection against viruses, spyware, spam, rootkits, scams, phishing attempts, intruders and objectionable web content.

Features available in the new version of BitDefender Internet Security include:

  • Web Scanning– filters Web traffic in real-time before it reaches your browser, providing a safe and enjoyable web experience;
  • Anti-rootkit module– detects and removes rootkits, which can secretly control a user’s computer;
  • Port Scan Detection – detects and blocks port scans which can open up vulnerabilities
  • Privacy Guard – monitors HTTP (web) and SMTP (mail) traffic to ensure outsiders can not illegally access personal information, such as credit card and Social Security information;
  • Web Keyword Filtering– allows users to explicitly block all web pages which contain specific words or phrases;
  • Mail Keyword Filtering – adds a filter to incoming e-mail, preventing unwanted words or phrases from entering the inbox.

Additional enhancements made to BitDefender Internet Security include improved Internet application control, adaptive filtering, heuristic web filtering, as well as a set-up wizard that simplifies installation.

To download free 30-days trial version please follow this link.

There is also special offer to buy a 2-user license for 2-years for just $69.95, clik here to get it now.



   
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Monday, August 28, 2006

IBM to Acquire Internet Security Systems


IBM announced last week that it is acquiring Internet Security Systems, one of the world' leading providers of IT security services and systems to governments and major corporates, for $1.3 billion, or $28 per share.

In its announcement, IBM officials told that ISS, which specializes in intrusion detection and other system-scanning technology, will add to the company's remote monitoring and security mangement portfolio.

"ISS is a strategic and valuable addition to IBM's portfolio of technology and services," Val Rahmani, general manager of infrastructure management services at IBM Global Services, said in a statement.

"This acquisition will help IBM to provide companies with access to trained experts and leading-edge processes and technology to evaluate and protect against threats and enforce security policies," Rahmani added.

ISS has more than 11,000 customers worldwide including 17 of the world's largest banks, 15 of the largest governments, 11 of the top public insurance companies and 13 of the world's top IT organisations.

In announcing the $1.3 billion deal Wednesday, the companies said they expected the deal to close in the fourth quarter, but didn't provide additional details about the expected closing date.



   
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Friday, August 25, 2006

Computerworld Gives Five Reasons Why You Need a New Approach to Antivirus Security


Bert Latamore at Computerworld has posted a new article discussing a new approach for antivirus security. He draws on table the following five reasons to explain his vision:
  1. Malware attacks are much more focused now;
  2. Malware changes its code constantly;
  3. It's all about the money, its a criminal business now;
  4. Some antispyware is actually malware;
  5. Standard antivirus programs are often ineffective.

In fact I would argue with the last statement since some antivirus software are highly effective when it comes to detect and remove spyware. But generally I agree with the author's conclusions that users should now rely on proactive security software like ProcessGuard, Prevx, TruePrevent, Safe-n-Sec etc.

To read the full article click here.



   
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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Sophos Releases Free Anti-Rootkit Scanner

A U.K. security vendor on Wednesday released a freeware anti-rootkit software that finds and removes rootkits that are hidden on Windows computers.

"Rootkits are being increasingly used by hackers to hide a variety of criminal activities, including spyware designed to steal usernames and passwords, denial-of-service attacks, and spam campaigns," said Phil Wood, Sophos product manager. "But many users don't appear to know what a rootkit is, and may be oblivious to the threat. Windows users need to wise-up to the latest tricks, and have the tools in place to protect themselves."

Sophos isn't the first security firm to release a rootkit scanner. Finnish F-Secure posted its BlackLight in 2005, and US-based security vendor Webroot added rootkit detection to the enterprise version of its Spy Sweeper anti-spyware software.

Sophos Anti-Rootkit works on Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Windows Server 2003. To download the software please follow this link.



   
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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Another Freeware Security Tool Released



IObit.Com yesterday announced the release of the newest version of its freeware tool called Advanced WindowsCare v2 Personal. It is a multi-purpose Windows care tool, which is intended for solving an entire list of computer problems: removing spyware and adware, preventing security threats, privacy protection, fixing Windows registry errors, temporary files cleanup, startup cleanup, repairing Windows, speeding up system, etc.



As promoted by the vendor, the major benifit of this utility is minimal user input required: only "one-click per day" is all what it takes to use the program even for rookie users. To download the program follow this link.

I've not tested the program yet but from the first site it does not look promising.



   
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Monday, August 21, 2006

Consumer Reports Slammed for Creating 5.000 "test" viruses

As noted on this blog a few days ago, Consumer Reports has published the results of its own antivirus software testing in its last issue. It has some people in the industry a bit confused.

To put 12 tested antiviruses through the paces, the magazine hired Independent Security Evaluators (ISE), an external consultancy located in Baltimore, to create 5,500 new variants of known viruses, using them to test the products for their ability to detect unexpected threats.

The magazine describes the methodology used:

"To pit the software against novel threats not identified on signature lists, we created 5,500 new virus variants derived from six categories of known viruses, the kind you’d most likely encounter in real life."

Now Igor Muttik at McAfee has published an open letter challenging Consumer Reports' methodology. Now there are more than 100+ antivirus experts who placed their signature to say that creating new viruses is not an acceptable practice in testing antivirus performance.

Graham Cluley, of Sophos (UK), echoed these concerns:

"When I read about what ConsumerReports has done I want to bash my head against a brick wall. With over 185,000 viruses in existence was it really necessary for this magazine to create 5,000 more? It's a bit like Fire Monthly Magazine testing fire stations by lighting umpteen fires around the country and seeing who is the fastest at putting them out.

Consumer Reports' September issue is on sale now, a detailed description of its testing methodology is available at this link.



   
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Thursday, August 17, 2006

InformationWeek Tests Five Personal Firewalls



InformationWeek tested five personal firewalls: McAfee Internet Security, Microsoft Windows Firewall, Norton Personal Firewall, Trend Micro PC-cillin and Zone Alarm Security Suite.

The conclusion says the following:

"Since the Microsoft Windows Firewall ships with Windows itself, the only recommendation to make is to replace it with something more robust as quickly as possible. McAfee's best attraction is SiteAdvisor, which adds a layer of behavioral protection on top of all the other things you normally get (although it is available separately), and Symantec's firewall is best if you want to integrate it into an existing suite of Symantec products already on your system.

ZoneAlarm is the best freeware choice, and can be readily upgraded to a full version later on. PC-cillin has the best all-around protection and sports a collection of nice bonus tools"

The full review is available here.

Strange enough that Serdar Yegulalp, an author of the review, did not include such great firewalls like Agnitum's Outpost, Kerio and Comodo. Especially keeping in mind that this missing trio provides better protection than tested products.



   
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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Microsoft Moves To The Second Place In Security Sales in the US market


Cheap pricing of its OneCare security suite helped Microsoft to get a 15 percent share of the consumer retail market during its first month on store shelves, enough to place second on the sales chart reported the NPD Group Tuesday.

"The list price of $50 was revolutionary," said Swenson, director of software industry analysis at NPD. "That slashed the current pricing in half for a security suite. That is just so cheap for a three-license SKU." Comparable bundles from existing security vendors topped $100, he said.

Microsoft's new security product -- that includes personal firewall, anti-virus, automated backup, and PC tuning utilities -- hit Symantec's sales the hardest. According to NPD, Symantec's unit share of the consumer suite market dropped from 69.9 percent in May to 59.8 percent in June; its dollar share also fell, from 74.1 percent to 68 percent. The other vendors that sell at retail, including McAfee and Trend Micro, weren't as affected by Microsoft's entry.

"Symantec is still the 800-pound gorilla in the space," Swenson told, and remains the brand to beat. He doubted that Microsoft could supplant Symantec as the leader.

"It's hard for Microsoft to compete on quality. The others, like Symantec and McAfee, have been in the business for a long lime. They have lab operations long in place, and they know what they're doing."

Although Symantec hasn't set a price for Norton 360, nor nailed down a deadline other than to say it might be as late as 2007, McAfee's foursome lists from $39.99 to $79.99.



   
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Monday, August 14, 2006

Consumer Reports: 20% of American households don't use anti-virus software


According to a new report by Consumer Reports, U.S. computer users lost more than $8 billion to cyber accidents during the last 2 years. The survey found that the threat from viruses is as great as ever. And yet, 20 percent of the US households don't use anti-virus software.

"It's really a shame," comments the magazine's technology editor, Jeff Fox, "because antivirus protection is a mature technology, it's been around 15 to 20 years, and there are very good products out there."

The testers at Consumer Reports told it was too early to completely rely on software suites, one application that covers various computer threats.

"Most of the suites we tested, including a lot of the big names, were stronger in one area than another," Fox explains.

Of the 20 popular suites they tested for it's September issue, only one - ZoneLabs ZoneAlarm Internet Security Suite ($70) - did it all well.

The editors also tested stand-alone anti-virus software:
  • Bit Defender Standard ($30), the downloadable version, came in on top;
  • ZoneLabs ZoneAlarm Antivirus ($30) rated excellent;
  • Kaspersky Labs Anti-Virus Personal ($50) rated "very good".

You can learn more about Consumer Reports security survey following this link.



   
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Symantec admits it over-hyped Norton 360

While OneCare was officially launched on June 1 in the United States, Symantec announced--on the same day--that Norton 360 has bee delayed and would be released only Q1/2007. It was originally scheduled for release this September.

Now, Mark Bregman, Symantec's senior vice president and chief evangelist, commented the situation:

"What we did we talked about Norton 360, or Genesis (as it was known previously), and we made a lot of publicity about that because it's our next-generation security suite."

"We somehow left the wrong impression in the market place that there's Windows Live OneCare from Microsoft, there's Falcon from McAfee, and there's nothing from Symantec," he explained. "But actually, what we have today in the current suite of Norton Internet Security is very competitive with Microsoft Live OneCare or [McAfee's] Falcon."

In the meantime, a new report from The NPD Group suggests Microsoft's entrance did exert market share pressure on the rivals, particularly Symantec. Its U.S. retail market share in June dropped 10.1 percent from May, while McAfee and Trend Micro slipped 3.3 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively, over the same period.

According to the study, Symantec still led the U.S. retail market with a 59.8 percent share, while Microsoft held the second place with a 15.4 percent share. Trend Micro captured 8.9 percent of this market segment, while McAfee garnered a 7.1 percent share.



   
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AOL is giving away a 12-month subscription for Kaspersky Antivirus even without an AOL-account!

Last week AOL released a free standalone antivirus program called Active Virus Shield with a free-of-charge 12-month subscriptions for anybody, even without an AOL-account.

Actually the product is a co-branded version of Kaspersky (KAV) 6.0 missing some proactive protection features, but you can still use on-access and on-demand scanners along with receiving everyday updates from Kaspersky.

The antivirus is available for free download via email registration and the end-user agreement text makes it clear users will have to deal with getting some advertising emails from AOL as a part of the free antivirus subscription.

Anyway, it is a great free product and the decision is up to you.



   
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Friday, August 11, 2006

PC Mag previews Norton Internet Security 2007 beta

Neil J. Rubenking from PC Magazine tested Norton Internet Security 2007 beta few weeks ago coming to the following conclusions:

Bottom line:
It's too early to deliver a verdict, but the NIS 2007 beta shows Symantec's direction: automatic system protection with fewer questions to confuse the user. Let's hope the final version also reduces the suite's drag on system performance.

Pros:
Firewall controls programs without asking user. Spyware removal can act without asking user. User interface hides complexity. Includes full range of security features.

Cons:
Big impact on system performance. Spyware AutoProtect feature is slow and inconsistent. Some features found in previous versions have been removed.

And here are few screenshots of the program:




The full preview is available here.



   
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Thursday, August 10, 2006

McAfee is to present next-generation ID protection technology in the coming months

McAfee is to update its security software products in the coming months by incorporating into these its new ID protection technology previously known as ‘Falcon’.

“Falcon is our new flagship consumer product technology,” Patrick Hayati, the firm’s regional director, told. “Products based on this will initially be available for download online – more in the form of managed services than traditional products. Boxed versions will then hit the market later.”By including McAfee’s Falcon protection, the firm’s new home and home office solutions will pack in additional protection against what Hayati claims is the biggest consumer threat at present - “identify theft”.

In fact McAfee products and its Personal Firewall Plus in particular were always criticized for its weak protection against ID theft so it is very interesting if things will change after the Falcon integration.



   
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Skype Certifies McAfee Internet Security Suite 2006

McAfee signed a deal with the Skype and here is an excerpt from the official press-release:

McAfee, Inc. (NYSE:MFE), the global leader in Intrusion Prevention and Security Risk Management, and Skype, the global Internet communications company, today announced that the McAfee® Internet Security Suite 2006, McAfee VirusScan® 2006 and McAfee Personal Firewall™ 2006 products have been Skype Certified™. This confirms that these McAfee security products meet Skype’s strict standards for security, quality and usability.

Full text is available here.

How do you like it: "Skype’s strict standards for security". I am sorry, am I missing something?

Anyway it is all about money but Skype is a type of program that just cannot be very secure by its nature, isn't it?

BTW, here are official recommendations from the Skype on how to stay secure.



   
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