Lavasoft News - March 2007

Security Shorts

Groundbreaking Settlements Help in Adware Fight

For the first time ever, law enforcement officials in the state of New York have held advertisers responsible for ads displayed through adware. Cingular Wireless, and settled with the Attorney General, agreeing to pay fines and take steps to help keep adware off users' PCs, however they did not admit guilt in the case. The three companies spent hundreds of thousands of dollars delivering ads through Direct Revenue LLC.

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German Police Banned from Using Spyware

In a landmark decision, German's High Court ruled that police are banned from installing spyware on suspected criminals' computers without their knowledge. The nation's Interior Minister had planned to give the federal police more power in monitoring suspected terrorists and others by allowing them to spy on their PCs. But the High Court argued that searching computers is similar to searching homes and requires the suspect be notified.

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Jail Time for British Privacy Violators

UK courts plan to start jailing people found guilty of trading or misusing the personal data of others. The British government has been under increasing pressure to institute harsher penalties as the small fines in the Data Protection Act have not deterred personal data thieves. Offenders could face up to two years in prison.

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U.S. Senate Introduces New Privacy Bill

The U.S. is also taking steps to better protect peoples' personal information. The Senate has introduced a bill called the Personal Data Privacy and Security Act that includes tougher criminal penalties for ID theft. New stats from the Privacy Rights Clearing House say that more than 100 million records containing personal data have been subject to a security breach since February 2005.

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Internet Use in China to Surpass U.S.

More than 10 percent of China's population is now online - 137 million people. The China Internet Network Information Center, a state-run think-tank, says that is an increase of 23 percent from a year earlier. With an estimated 210 million Americans using the Internet, China is set to surpass the States in the next few years if it keeps up this annual growth rate.

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IT Hiccups Expected When Clocks Change

A federal policy signed into law in 2005, requiring the start of Daylight Savings Time in the U.S. to be moved from the first Sunday in April to the second Sunday in March, is expected to cause problems for IT infrastructure. The idea to also delay the return of standard time in the fall by a week was to save on energy use. But for IT, that means every software and hardware system relying on time-stamps needs to be checked and tested.

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One of the so-called "fathers of the Internet" claims 100-150 million of the 600 million online computers are virus-infected components in botnet networks of PCs under control of hackers. Read who said it and what other predictions he makes in our story, "Battling the Botnet Pandemic."
Term of the Month
Botnet, shortened from roBOT NETwork, is a network of compromised PCs. It is a type of Remote Control Software, specifically a collection of software robots, or 'bots', which run autonomously. Botnets have been used for sending spam remotely, installing more spyware without consent, and for other illicit purposes.

Educate yourself by reading more terms in our Spyware Glossary.
Tech Tips
Having up-to-date firewall, anti-virus and anti-spyware programs is key in keeping your computer safe, but be prepared in the event of a system crash. Back up your files! Along with confidential documents, think of all those personal photos you may have stored on your PC. Don't lose them! Copy them onto a removable disc and store them in a safe place. It may seem like simple advice, but many computer users don't have any back ups at all.
Letters to the Editor
Many of you who wrote to us feel the so-called "spyware" teacher shouldn't be put behind bars and that malware is the real criminal in this case. Stay tuned to this story as sentencing is handed down March 2. In the meantime, read a few of your letters here (some have been shortened due to space limitations).
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