So have you bought a new computer at home for yourself and for your kids? Your computer is sure going to be useful to you and your family. You can now use your computer to store important data, work on reports and much much more. Your children can now surf the internet, play games and learn new tools and software programs. By purchasing a computer you open the world to the big bad world of the internet. Why is the internet a big bad world? The internet can prove to be a big bad world for you if you dont take care to protect your computer from internet threats. In fact the internet is the most comprehensive source of information available at the click of the button today. You can search for diverse topics. You can use the internet to access your bank accounts, to join newsgroups, to entertain yourselves, listen to music and even watch movies. You can even use the internet to speak to people at low costs through VOIP (Voice over Transmission Protocol) all over the world. There are very few boundaries associated with the internet.But, you should be wary of all the threats that the internet can invite to your computer. First of all lets talk a little about computer viruses. A "computer virus" is a software program written by a person which can prove to be a threat to the security of your computer. It gains access to your computer through programs downloaded from the internet and even from seemingly harmless emails. It can delete all your important files after it loads itself on the system or it can just make your hard disk unusable. It can disable your important device drivers and can do hundreds of other damaging things to your computer. The software program (or computer virus) spreads rapidly through the internet and can invade thousands of computers a minute.The best solution against virus invasion is the installation of good antivirus software. Norton Antivirus by Symantec proves to be one of the better paid antivirus solutions. It provides tight security in comparison to some of the other antivirus softwares and also updates itself regularly. The other important software you can use to protect your computer is installing a firewall. A firewall restricts unauthorized access to your computer by people on the internet who are constantly on the lookout for open ports on computers. In addition, if you use the internet to make purchases with your credit card, make sure you are using a trusted and secure site. Secured sites conduct financial transactions using secure software like Verisign so that your private information cannot be viewed by unauthorized people.When using services or programs that use passwords, always use passwords that are difficult to guess by others. Do not ever open unauthorized emails as they might be harmful to your computer. Unauthorized or unsolicited mails are the most common path to spreads a virus through the internet.When you visit some sites, a spyware program maybe installed on your computer automatically by those sites. A spyware program is a program that collects all information on your computer including private information that can then be made known to unauthorized people. Using an anti-spyware program like Spyware Blocker or Ad-Aware comes in handy. These programs work to prevent spyware from automatically installing on your computer in the first place. You must also delete your cookies regularly. A cookie is a small file that is automatically installed on your computer and it accesses the information on your computer including the web sites that you have visited and sends all information back to people who need access to that information.If you use a little care, you can provide some protection to you and your computer. However, the only way to completely eliminate any threats is not to go online in the first place. I dont think that is a viable option in todays world. Good luck!
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Trojan Horse - One Mans Worse Case Scenario Prediction----------------------------This is a fictional article about a Trojan Horse Virus, or you could say it is one mans prediction of a worse case scenario. Because of the field Im in, I maintain a personal list of my top 10 worse case scenarios. Every time I perform a security assessment I run into something new or identify a situation that is ripe for a potential vulnerability. I think we could all agree that no respectable or ethical company would intentionally deliver a malicious piece of code as part of a helpful update solution. However, the reality is that human beings are behind technology and human beings are unpredictable and fallible.Many major operating system vendors have automatic update services. Many hardware vendors and other software packages have followed this trend, incorporating automated update services into their products. In some cases, the services for automatic updates run as the local system account. This account has the ability to access and modify most of the operating system and application environment. When automatic updates were relative new, many people would perform the updates manually, however, as time has progressed, many now trust these services and allow the updates to proceed in a truly automated fashion.The Final Step Before The Hammer Falls--------------------------So lets expand upon our worse case scenario. A new service pack is just about ready for release. The last step prior to public release is quality control / validation. The team of people performing this task includes a significantly disgruntled employee (Or may he/she is going through a horrible life crisis and has not much to lose). When people are in pain or distress it is not uncommon for them to project this same feeling onto others in any way they can. So, instead of performing their job in the normal fashion, they decide to incorporate a malicious payload into the forthcoming update.The First Step For The Trojan Horse: Evasion--------------------------------------------------This payload has some unique characteristic, three to be precise. First, it is constructed in such as way to not appear as something malicious. The anti-virus and anti-spyware programs currently on the market wont be able to detect it through anomalous detection techniques. The Second Step For The Trojan Horse: Information Collection----------------------------Secondly, it has been instructed to wait 12 hours to activate to start searching your computer an network for important files that may contain financial, healthcare, and other confidential information such as user accounts and passwords. It then sends this information to anonymous systems on the Internet. Because this Trojan horse has been incorporated into an automated update by someone with reasonable skills, it is instructed to only perform the collection of data for 12 hours. Given the number of global systems that allow automated updates, 12 hours should be more than enough. The person behind this realizes that someone will quickly identify that something malicious is going on and start to roll-out a defense solution to halt the process.The Final Step: Incapacitate-------------------------------Finally, the Trojan Horse will cease its data collection and deliver its final blow. Because of the level of system privilege it is running at, it modifies the communication protocols and services on the system to prevent any type of external communication to its local peers and external (Internet) hosts. It does this in such as way that the only immediate method to recover from this is a system roll-back, system repair, or restore from near-line media, such as tape or disk. And as far as system recovery is concerned, I can tell you that many people even in corporate entities do not perform the most basic steps to be prepared for a quick system disaster recovery. In some cases, some of the most important recovery services have been disabled because of lack of system resources or disk space (which is amazing given how inexpensive this is anymore).What Could Be The Impact Of This Trusted Trojan Horse----------------------------------------Just about every time you install a new application or piece of software you increase the time it takes to boot your PC and in some cases decrease its performance. On thing that drives me crazy is printing software. For the life of me I cannot understand how or why printer support software could total 400MB in size, but they sometimes do. Not only that, they tend to load all kinds of unnecessary real-time running applets. HP printers are notorious for this. Be very aware of what it is you are loading and only load those components that you need. Even some off-the-shelf software packages load adware and other not so helpful applets. Also, when you uninstall software, not all the software gets uninstalled in many cases. One thing I suggest is to purchase a registry cleaner. This can dramatically decrease boot times and in many cases increase the overall performance of your PC. People are already concerned about identity theft, or at least they should be. I recently spoke with a business associate that told me that even with everything he does to keep his identity secure he has been the victim of identity theft not once, but twice. If your user ids, online accounts, passwords, financials, or other confidential information winds up on the Internet for any anonymous person to see, you can bet it will be used in a way to cause you problems. Even if only 10% of the global systems fell victim to this Trojan Horse, the cut off of communications could cost businesses billions of dollars and potentially impact their reputation as secure institutions.Conclusion----------If we dont think that this worse case scenario can happen, then were kidding ourselves. Recently, one of the market leaders in the perimeter defense business had to recall a service pack because it contained a significant bug that could result in a security breach; a service pack that can be delivered through and intelligent update service. Obviously there has to be a certain level of trust between us, the consumer, and the vendors of hardware / software we rely on. Im not entirely sure what fail-proof solution can be put in place to prevent something like this from happening. Although Im sure there are quite a few checks and balances in place already. The bottom line is, if you or I can image a scenario like this, there is always a chance of it happening. In my case, I usually wait for several days to apply new service packs and hot-fixes. Hopefully someone else will find the problem, correct it, and then Ill apply it. You may reprint or publish this article free of charge as long as the bylines are included. Original URL (The Web version of the article)------------http://www.defendingthenet.com/newsletters/TrojanHorseDeliveredInAutomaticUpdate.htmAbout The Author----------------Darren Miller is an Information Security Consultant with over seventeen years experience. He has written many technology & security articles, some of which have been published in nationally circulated magazines & periodicals. If you would like to contact Darren you can e-mail him at Darren.Miller@defendingthenet.com. If you would like to know more about computer security please visit us at http://www.defendingthenet.com.
Technology can seem so commonplace sometimes it's easy to forget how many crucial services depend on it. Virginia Beach, Va.-based LifeNet (http://www.lifenet.org), the nation's largest nonprofit, full-service organ donation agency and tissue banking system, is one example of the necessity of choosing the right IT products and services mix, in its case to support a mission-critical function: saving and improving lives.Each day, LifeNet receives notice via its donor call centers of approximately 12 to 15 newly deceased individuals across the U.S. identified as donors. Given that one person can save seven lives through organ donation and impact more than 50 others with tissue transplants, it is crucial to accurately track data and effectively communicate with a broad network of field staff, medical institutions, transportation companies and others to ensure the process goes smoothly. All told, the work of LifeNet's staff affects thousands of lives each year.A Delicate Balance When considerations of "human resources" relate to actual, life-giving organs and tissues, the familiar business technology concept of downtime gains a whole new meaning. Even with the company's patented profusion pumps in place to help preserve organ viability, some tissues live a mere four hours outside the body, requiring LifeNet to meet exceedingly tight deadlines. While field staff rushes to the hospital to work with family members and procure tissues, others must find suitable matches and ensure that operating rooms and transplant surgeons are standing by. Once tissue is recovered, activities such as precise inventory management and tracking, and coordination of quick and accurate delivery, are crucial. Recovered tissue is processed at LifeNet's headquarters, then distributed across the country for procedures, which can include knee and limb replacements, spinal fusions, heart valve replacements and countless others. Life-Enabling IT ProcessesAccording to Steve Lenz, vice president of Information Systems for LifeNet, "It's all about the ability of our staff to access each other and accurate data, anywhere, anytime. So much of what we do is basic communication, which seems simple on the surface. What goes on behind the scenes is another story."LifeNet chose a solution leveraging Microsoft Dynamics GP and other key, familiar Microsoft products, allowing the organization to seamlessly track the intake, classification and distribution of organs and tissues from its headquarters and five remote locations -all processes that were previously scattered across multiple systems. The new integrated system can be accessed via both centralized and Web-based tools, and also interfaces with messaging technology to be accessed by field staff across the U.S. via PDA devices. The new streamlined process has also freed some of LifeNet's administrative staff to focus on other core activities.Donation EducationAccording to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), more than 92,000 Americans currently await a lifesaving organ transplant, and tens of thousands more each year require a tissue transplant. Thus, educating the public about the importance of donation is also integral to LifeNet's mission. Technology is central to this outreach as well, via the organization's national donor education Web site, http://www.lifenet.org, which includes links for donor sign-up around the U.S., as well as http://www.save7lives.org, a Web site aimed at recruiting donors in LifeNet's home state of Virginia. A New Take on ROIClearly, technology infrastructure is just one piece of the process that allows LifeNet to perform its critical public service, as well it should be. Technology should work for businesses, not the other way around. All types of businesses and service organizations are getting smart about what a truly integrated technology platform can do to free them to focus on what they do best. Said Lenz, "So much of what we can see and do is new. We've never had many of these capabilities before. I don't think we could possibly overestimate the impact of what that means, when you consider how many lives can be touched by the work we do every day."Now that's what I'd call a good return on investment.
In todays ever-changing medical field, EMR systems are essential in establishing and maintaining an optimum level of performance for your clients, staff, and practice as a whole. The newest EMR systems allow you to stay ahead of the game and give your clients the attention and trust they need to be confident in you. How will the latest EMR systems help organize, file, and keep up with all your patients? Heres how:PATIENTS Your patients are your #1 concern and should be treated as such. When they feel like theyre your first priority, theyll put their trust in you and keep coming back to you. To do this, you need to be able to fulfill their patient needs. EMR systems will help you establish and maintain a relationship with the client by:Storing and receiving patient charts without hassleEasy scheduling and notification of patient appointmentsStoring patient notes: prescriptions, vital signs, labs, etc. Using medical billing and charging procedures that are uncomplicatedBringing up relevant parts of chart of patient to viewSecurely accessing patient records from any place, at any time, and from any compatible deviceAll of these functions along with an easy navigation menu will help you access, look up, and chart all the information in one quick, easy-to-do process. More time will be saved and the patient wont feel as if they are just one of the many patients being treated that day. STAFFNot only will EMR solutions benefit your clients, but they will also benefit your staff. No longer will your staff need to search through countless files and numbers to find patient records, charts, and other details. This software will enhance and help your staff access, store, and chart information in a smoother fashion. Your staff will be treated with work-to-do lists, desktop alerts and messages, and immediate access to clinical data. Along with maintaining all of these, it also has multi-user read and multi-user write capabilities which mean your staff can view, enter, and edit client information from different workstations without worrying about interfering with each others data. PRACTICEEMR systems are also great for solo and group practices. Basic EMR systems will allow you and your staff to scan any paper document and attach those to your patient records and manage dictation tapes and transcribe documents. From this feature, your staff will be able to create, review, edit, and lock patient documents. With fully customizable settings, youll arrange data fields that are easy for you and your staff to access. If the basic EMR system doesnt fulfill your practice needs, you can always get the full-featured system that includes the industry standard HL-7 specification for exchanging data and XML web service connection. The latest EMR systems are your solution to more effective customer care and will make life much less complicated for your staff and practice by implementing easy-to-use services.