****** COMPUTER TIPS *********

--> About computer virus HOAX in general.


A common virus hoax tells you to delete jdbgmgr.exe †††JUST SAY NO!


This is used by java so some of your web reading may not work after it. 

Worse, the message tells you to contact everyone in your address book.

Please ignore this hoax or any similar warning about jdbgmgr.exe ††AND DO NOT PASS IT ON.


According to Microsoft's website:
" If you follow the e-mail message instructions and delete this file,

you do NOT have to recover it unless you use

Microsoft Visual J++ 1.1 to develop Java programs

on Windows XP, Windows NT 4.0, Windows 98 Second Edition, Windows 98, or Windows 95."


If you have deleted jdbgmgr.exe, please see Microsoft knowledgebase article Q322993 for further instructions:


Please note that some e-mail worms (for example, Magistr) might sometimes send an infected JDBGMGR.EXE

in an e-mail attachment, but this infection is caused by Magistr not JDBGMGR by itself.

So the bottom line is, if you receive JDBGMGR.EXE
or any other windows component by email,

it is most probably a file infected by a virus.

If you find JDBGMGR.EXE from your system directory,
it is most probably a clean file.


A variation of this hoax is known to exist which relates the jdbgmgr.exe file to the Bugbear worm:

The Bugbear is a real worm completely unrelated to this file.


--> About connecting to email and internet usage.
It may be a good idea for those with new and expensive music/video media software to use a cheap,

unconnected pc unit for email and Internet browsing usage. 


Often times, the anti-virus software will interfere with the media software and/or

your CD or DVD writing software.  Best to segregate software and project workstations, if possible.


I am in the process of resurrecting an old pc just to read email and Internet and keep an old printer

hooked to, and to have the anti-virus software.  This one has a CD writer to back up my email and

documents, after I have scanned to make sure they do not have virus'.Hopefully I can find an

anti-virus product that does not interfere with this CD writer.


My other newer pc will have my media software and website software and will not interface with the

World Wide Web directly.



--> About REAL computer virus' in general. 

The nastiest one I have experienced affected me in May 2002 was this KLEZ worm virus.  

This one attacks the executables (.exe), including your virus protection, and it is really hard to clean it,

because every thing you download to clean is an executable (even the zip files need an executable to unzip the files). 


Even if you get rid of the worm portion of this virus there are all these other PE_ELKERN.D offshoots you cannot seem to eliminate. 

I even went into the computer registers and could not completely get rid of it.  Since program/application de-installs are executables,

these are affected, and so you cannot reload the software properly, because you cannot undo what was previously there. 


I finally took my pc to a friendís house who had enough space on a personal server, and downloaded my data files (which are not

affected), completely erased my hard drive, and just reinstalled all the operating and application software, and then put back my data files.  Not a fun task.  I still have software that I have not installed yet.  


I was knocked out of my corporate network for a couple of months, because the virus traveled to network drives I had mapped, even though I was not inside the corporate firewall.  Our corporate network does not allow executables to be sent in and out anymore, and we cannot read personal mail at work anymore.  It is about the only defense against attack.
For people that use the "PC" world, especially those using Microsoft Outlook or Outlook express, to read their mail email, part of the solution should include


 #1 TURN OFF the Preview Pane in your Outlook, or any other preview pane or automatic open portal for reading email. 

Don't forget to do this after you download an update to Outlook or your email software. 

For Microsoft Outlook, the install default is ON for this preview pane (should be called preview pain!)
For Outlook Express, TURN OFF BY Choosing  Tools, Options, The "Read" tab, and

UNCHECK "Automatically download message when viewing in the Preview Pane"
#2  Install Virus Protection (for example McAffee or Trend Micro PC-Cillin or Norton Anti virus) 

and ensure virus protection updates are checked for and done at log on time. 


Do not install more than one Anti-virus software on your pc, since they will work against each other. 

Anti-virus software is not too expensive. (~$30-40/year)  Once you buy it and download it,

you get will free upgrades and the product will notify you to download them. 


If you have cable or DSL Internet and leave your pc on all the time, schedule a nightly scan.

#3 You can scan your computer free manually by going to

and choosing scan now under Trend Micro HouseCall

Note  this would be time consuming each time you logged on, and it is not real time protection

(in other words, a virus could attack after you scanned). 

Try it once when you have about 30 minutes.
This site also has alot of information about virus' and the hoaxes that are out there.
#4  For those who read your email from the website itself, the important thing is not to directly open

any email attachments, especially executables.


I am not sure hotmail or some of the other free email even allows these executables.  

If it does, simply save the attachments to a file folder marked scan,

and use the free scan to check them prior to opening them. 


It is a hassle, and most people do not do it, even those who know better.   

So rely on anti-virus software to notify you of a virus.
#5 In the event of a virus notification from your virus protection,
first check if your automatic preview pane viewer is off.
(The Outlook viewer should be turned off, if you followed #1).  


The virus protection will probably quarantine the virus or pass it off if it can't. 

Check out which message has the virus, and then go into your mail

and shift-delete the message. 
Of if you just hit the delete key, then go to your desktop wastebasket and delete it from there as well.

because of the subject or you think you know the person sending it. 


Most virus' are designed to be opened up and use your personal address book and picks random people from there. 


The one that nailed me had "resume" in the subject area, and I was expecting a friend to send a resume.

#6 Recheck your hard drive after a virus attack to ensure there are no virus' detected and you have eliminated the virus.


Since I cleaned up my computer, I have had numerous attacks. One just last week. 

The subject was "Password", indicating the note contained a password, which is awful tempting.  


None of the virus attacks have been successful, now that I have followed this routine.


--> Just in case you think you are safe

September 4, 2003, New York Times

Heart of Darkness, on a Desktop



The Kiblers of Santa Clara, Calif., thought they were doing everything right. Bill Kibler, a product manager in Silicon Valley and the unofficial system administrator for his family, was nothing short of diligent about running antivirus programs.


He had also erected a software firewall to shield his computer from intruders, and he regularly downloaded patches to inoculate his PC when he heard about new viruses.


But over the course of six months this year, the Kiblers noticed their computer displaying some odd behavior. The automatic weekly scans by Norton AntiVirus mysteriously stopped, and when Mr. Kibler tried to run the software manually, the program would shut down before he could execute commands. 


By the middle of the summer, the Kiblers' computer had grown so phlegmatic that the family considered replacing the machine, a powerful Compaq desktop of recent vintage, with a new one.


After many hours of computer forensic work performed by a friend, it turned out that a virus program called Klez was sapping the computer of 90 percent of its processing power. Adding to the burden was a host of strangely named files discovered on the list of programs installed on the hard drive. All of them had entered the machine from the Internet, producing a blizzard of pop-up ads.


The Kiblers' experience is hardly a rarity. More and more PC owners are discovering software lurking on their computers that they had no idea was there - software that can snoop, destroy or simply reproduce itself in droves. The SoBig and Blaster worms that have been invading computer systems worldwide for several weeks are slowing down.


But the two intruders left behind software that could linger undetected for months.


"Both SoBig and Blaster have components that are actively trying to communicate or reach out to master servers without the knowledge of the user," said Vincent Weafer, a senior director at Symantec Security Response, part of the software company that makes Norton AntiVirus.


The alien programs extend well beyond viruses and worms - so named because of the way they spread, as the most familiar carriers of malicious code - to new categories known as spyware and adware.  Indeed, the number of home PC's that are infested with alien software that comes in over the Internet and installs itself without the knowledge or consent of the PC user is increasing at an alarming rate.


Richard M. Smith, a computer security expert in Brookline, Mass., estimates that one in every two Windows computers has unsolicited

software lurking within. "I'm the official computer maintainer in my extended family, and I have seven computers to keep up and running," Mr. Smith said. "With the exception of my computer, they've all been whacked." He was spared, he says, only because of his extreme vigilance.


The programs hide in the recesses of the machine and seldom announce their presence. They can enter the machine by way of a virus that has attached itself to an incoming file. Or they can be downloaded unawares by simply clicking on, say, a pop-up ad. Mr. Smith said such assaults were called "drive-by downloads." "These programs are small and can be downloaded within seconds on a broadband connection," he said. "Once it's started, there's no way to stop it." Until symptoms appear, the user knows nothing of the unwanted software's presence.


Spyware, which may piggyback on another downloaded program, often operates in the background, sending information back to a remote site and displaying pop-up ads tailored to the user's online habits, or harvesting e-mail addresses to sell to spammers.


Adware is similar but more benign, or at least better encased in euphemism; its defenders say that it is something that consumers consciously agree to download.


More insidious programs, perhaps better described as annoyware, redirect the computer's browser to pornographic Web sites, often

to pump up those sites' traffic figures or commandeer the machine's modem to dial 900 numbers at the computer owner's expense. PC owners are just beginning to become aware of the extent of such lurkware, and antivirus companies are beginning to expand their products to notify users of its presence.


McAfee Security, a division of Network Associates that makes antivirus products, estimates that 60,000 viruses are in circulation, and some experts say that perhaps 200 new ones are created each month. No comparable figure is available for spyware and adware, said Bryson Gordon, a senior product manager at McAfee, but their growth has mirrored the surge in spam and in music-file-sharing programs like Napster and KaZaA, which link the hard drives of thousands of users into something resembling one big co-op.


Spyware programs are easier to create than a virus, Mr. Gordon says, and some Web sites even offer spyware and adware toolkits.Some software requests the user's permission before installing itself. Such is the case with the Gator Corporation, a company in Redwood

City, Calif., that delivers Web advertising to people who click on an end-user license agreement in which they agree to receive the ads in exchange for a free program. This can include Gator's own e-wallet (a program that automatically fills in Web forms with log-ins and passwords), the downloadable DivX video player or a simple calendar program.About 100 million copies of Gator have been downloaded to date, said Scott Eagle, chief marketing officer at Gator. He and other Gator officials make a point of insisting that their product is adware, not spyware, and that the distinction is crucial.


"Spyware is stuff that you don't know how it got on your computer and it doesn't add value," Mr. Eagle said. "It could be a program that's specifically designed to seek out information like credit card information or e-mail information but you have no idea how you got it, there's no permission and there's no way of removing it."


Adware, on the other hand, Mr. Eagle said, is something that consumers agree to download. Once Gator is installed, it tracks a user's Web travels and delivers what he called "highly relevant, highly branded" ads. "Users are very much aware that they have this ad-supported software on their computer,'' Mr. Eagle said.Yet the line between informed consent and naÔve clicking can be thin. Although Gator requires permission from users before it is downloaded, people often have no recollection of having agreed to its terms.


One of the programs Mr. Kibler had on his computer was Gator, which he did not recall having consented to. Lavasoft, a company

in Sweden that makes security software, sells a popular program called Ad-Aware, which alerts users to the presence of programs like Gator, as well as others that track Web browsing habits and collect information to use for targeted advertising.


Mike Wood, a spokesman for Lavasoft, said that most PC users fail to take the time to understand exactly what was being downloaded to their machines and frequently click straight through the fine print of end-user license agreements.


Those who fight spyware and adware engage in escalation wars similar to the ones facing antivirus companies. No sooner do Lavasoft and others discover a new form of adware and spyware than the makers of such software turn around and develop another one. "It's turned into something of a minor cold war," Mr. Wood said.


Mr. Kibler suspected that his 14-year-old daughter, Carly, and her frequent use of the free version of KaZaA, known for installing adware on people's computers, might have had something to do with the problem."The minute you install KaZaA you have three or four questionable things on your computer," Mr. Smith said.  In the end, the Kiblers theorized that the troubles might have originated with a program attached to one of Carly's MP3 files. Or it could have been a malicious file sent as an e-mail attachment and downloaded accidentally by any member of the family.


Douglas Berman, a computer specialist in Berkeley, Calif., who works in health care, said he noticed a few months ago that whenever he used his home PC to do a search on Google, a different screen appeared underneath the Google page. The unsolicited page offered up an entirely different set of search results, all of them ads thinly disguised as Google pages.


When Mr. Berman examined the contents of the machine more closely, he found a half dozen or so Gator files on the hard drive. The Berman family computer resides in the kitchen, perhaps the most heavily trafficked room in the house. Not only do Mr. Berman, his wife and their 10-year-old daughter use the computer, but visiting neighbors, relatives and houseguests often gravitate to it as well.


Although Mr. Berman has no doubt that someone at some point gave permission for the software to be installed, he wanted it off the computer."I'm not conscious of any benefit I'm getting from having it," he said. "Then there's the question of, 'What's it opening the door for?' " With a few simple instructions from Gator, Mr. Berman was ultimately able to remove the software that created the Google look-alike pages.


Todd Jones, a senior at the University of California at Berkeley, also found himself plagued by spyware. The programs reconfigured his computer, changing his toolbars and installing new favorites in his browser and shortcut icons on his desktop, all of which linked to adult Web sites."I thought that in order for you to have a program on your computer, you had to install it yourself," Mr. Jones said. "Now I know that's obviously not true."


Vulnerabilities in Microsoft software have only made matters worse. People who use the Macintosh or Linux operating systems are safer, as are those who use Netscape Communicator. Some spyware exploits security holes in Internet Explorer, both because it has more flaws, said Mr. Smith, the computer security expert, and because it is the most widely used browser on the market.


Microsoft officials say it is not the holes in its software but the people who write spyware and viruses that are the problem. The end user,

they say, is ultimately responsible for what gets downloaded onto a hard drive.


"We need to do everything we can to make our software more secure than it is," said Amy Carroll, the director of product management in

Microsoft's security business unit. "We are constantly addressing the core software. But the Internet is a really powerful tool, and there

are bad actors out there who will take advantage of that."


The antivirus companies, meanwhile, are adding to their quarry. The latest version of the Norton program, called Norton AntiVirus 2004, scans for a host of so-called "expanded threats," or security threats that are not necessarily viruses. The new Norton program also scans for adware like Gator.And last month, McAfee released a version of its VirusScan software that includes spyware and adware detection. Since then, the program has found that results from 660,000 computers using the new version showed spyware on 20 percent of the machines, said Mr. Gordon, the McAfee product manager.


But that kind of help came too late for John Harrington, a semi-retired communications consultant in Fairfax, Va. All the recent news about

the Blaster and SoBig worms prompted Mr. Harrington to run his McAfee program. It identified not those particular scourges, but nearly a dozen others, with names like adware-wind.dr.†† The McAfee program was unable to delete the files, and a call to the support line did no good.  "She asked me if I had heard of spyware or adware, and I said no," Mr. Harrington said.


Mr. Harrington eventually downloaded the Ad-Aware program from Lavasoft, and it removed the files.  "I was surprised they were on my computer because I thought I had perfect protection through McAfee," he said.  Even with the additional help, people feel overwhelmed by the abundance of software they have not asked for, especially when it comes to monitoring, managing and safeguarding against it.


Mr. Kibler's wife, Stephanie, said that it was hard to keep up with all the new threats, and that computer companies did not make it simple enough for the average user to deal with problems like the ones that afflicted her family's machine."When you give someone the car keys, you also teach them how to drive," she said. "How could you expect regular everyday users to be able to figure this out? The expectation is not reasonable."