The Boston Sunday Globe had some interesting reading yesterday: "Laptop seizures at customs cause thorny legal dispute". When David House, a former MIT researcher, returned from vacation in Mexico a little over a year ago, federal agents seized his laptop at customs during a connection in Chicago, and kept it for almost two months. There was no search warrant, and he wasn't charged with a crime. The article describes a "Consitution-free zone" where governement agents don't need probable cause or reasonable suspicion to seize property, as long as it's not "invasive".
Technology Advisor Blog
One of the strong recommendations we're making to our small business clients is to invest in gateway security to protect the perimeter of their network. Everyone these days knows how important anti-virus and anti-spyware protection are at the desktop, but far too often, small businesses only have a basic router protecting the entry to their network. With more sophisticated security threats cropping up daily, this level of protection just simply isn't enough.
It seems there's always a new computer threat to watch out for, and the most recent breach in the news is really scary. Dutch Certificate Authority (CA), DigiNotar, was recently hacked and the result is that fake SSL security certificates were issued. This is the Internet equivalent of impersonating a police officer. We're all taught to be careful on the web and a look for an https (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) connection so we know we're safe when transmitting data. But when the certificate itself is fake, we can easily be fooled.
Yesterday was a big "Patch Tuesday" with 17 new security patches released by Microsoft, 9 of which were listed as "critical". The second Tuesday of each month is known as "Patch Tuesday", and this is when Microsoft regularly releases free security upgrades. As vulnerabilities are discovered, upgrades are made to the software to prevent hackers from exploiting the vulnerabilities. Full details on the April 12, 2011 Microsoft Security Bulletin can be found on the Microsoft web site.
The creators of viruses and other malicious software have gotten so aggressive recently, that today its possible to get a "drive-by" virus. You may be at a web site that seems safe, but if there are ads on the site, malicious code can enter your system just by viewing the ads. Unfortunately, the world of viruses is a "cat and mouse" game where the threats escalate as user protection increases.
The "Billion Dollar Lost-Laptop Study" conducted by Intel and the Ponemon institute, reports that more than 300 businesses lost more than 86,000 businesses last year worth a staggering $2.1B.
One of the computer support questions we get asked a lot is "If I have Antivirus software installed on my computer, how did I still get a virus?"
Many of our clients have expressed concern after receiving intimidating emails they thought were from the IRS. Phishing scams seem to come in waves, and the most recent wave we're seeing involves fake messages such as "your federal tax payment has been rejected". If you look closely at the message, the emails are typically from a random address with a name that doesn't even match the email address. Identity theft is the typical goal of these messages as they try to entice you to go to a web site to enter personal and financial information.