Dear friend,

 

Welcome to the Sep 26, 2009 issue of
CompuNerds.Net-News

 

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The goal of our CN.Net-News is to share information that we think you'll find helpful as you wrestle with that little monster on your desk, your computer. And we aim to present this information from a Christian worldview. So here goes!

Online Banking Threat Bypassing Up-to-Date Anti-Viruses - see http://www.webpronews.com/topnews/2009/09/16/online-banking-threat-bypassing-up-to-date-anti-viruses. This is a rootkit - a trojan type of virus that hides itself deep in the operating system so that most anti-virus programs can't find it. What should you do to avoid this threat? Use the Blacklight rootkit eliminator from F-Secure: http://www.f-secure.com/en_US/security/security-lab/tools-and-services/blacklight/.

Another article, Trusted Web sites: Exploit tool of choice (http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/security/?p=2380&tag=nl.e036), states - "77 percent of Web sites with malicious code are legitimate sites that have been compromised." How can this happen? Because the new Web 2.0 style of website invites user feedback, blogging and social networking. The article continues - "More than 47 percent of the top 100 sites support user-generated content" and "61 percent of the top 100 sites either host malicious content or contain a masked redirect to lure unsuspecting victims from legitimate sites to malicious sites." To guard your computer from getting infected at such websites, keep your anti-virus program updated - it should update automatically at least daily. The program I recommend and install for my clients is "COMODO Internet Security Suite" - free for personal use.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
Two men were on a safari in Africa, and one morning they woke up to see a lion about 50 meters from their camp. The first guy started to run away while the second guy was putting on his sport shoes. The first one said: "Why are you doing that? You can't run faster than a lion!" The second answered: "All I have to do is run faster than you!"

TODAY'S TOPIC: BACKUP YOUR DATA!
Our "Thought For The Day" above illustrates the "low hanging fruit" principle: an identity thief or computer hacker is looking for people who are "easy pickings." I once had my billfold pickpocketed in the St. Petersburg, Russia subway: two thieves pushed their way into the crowded subway car a few seconds before the doors were to close. We were all sqeezed together, so I didn't think anything of it when one of them pushed against me from behind. But just as the "Caution, the doors are closing!" announcement sounded over the loudspeakers, they pushed their way out of the subway car. Then, as the subway train started down the tracks, I noticed my billfold was gone! Thankfully I was keeping most of my cash, my passport and other ID in my money pouch under my shirt, so the pickpockets only got about $7 in rubles and some photos in my billfold. But it taught me a lesson: don't ever carry a billfold in your back pocket in Russia.

This "low hanging fruit" principle also applies to securing and backing up your data. In our last issue you read about the pros and cons of USB devices - portable disk drives and flash drives. They're very convenient, but what if they get stolen, lost, broken or they just plain wear out? They are things, and things wear out, get lost, etc. - that's the nature of things. And the nature of thieves is to go after the "low hanging fruit" - the easy targets. You can't have absolute security of your data, because it would be encrypted and locked up so tight that you wouldn't be able to get at it again; all you need is a reasonable level of security to discourage the thieves so they will find an easier target: you need to "run away from the lion faster than the other guy." Well then, how can you avoid losing your valuable business or personal data - all the information about a conference you're planning or a new product you're developing, your master's thesis or doctoral dissertation that you've been working on for the past 18 months, all your spreadsheets, word processing files and photos, or your Social Security, credit card and bank account numbers?

Keep in mind these two important factors: securing your data, and making multiple copies of your backups. How do we combine these two factors to attain a reasonable level of security? You should backup your data on a daily basis, but many backup programs such as Windows Backup and PortableApps Backup take a sledgehammer approach: they back up your whole system or at least your entire Documents folder. This can take 20-30 minutes to a few hours, and most people simply won't take the time and effort every day to do this. So what should you do?

Click to see full-size!If you click on this thumbnail photo, you can see the full-size picture of my backups. On Monday through Friday I first backup my wife's computer, then I insert a DVD and a flash drive in my computer and click on my "Daily (Partial) Backup" desktop icon that runs a batch file to backup only new or changed files in the list of folders I specify - this takes only about a minute, and it's all automated by the batch file. It copies my wife's backup over the network to my D:\Backups folder on my hard drive, names the backups "Partbkup" and appends the date. Then it copies the backups to the DVD and flash drive. It does all this automatically while I'm riding my exercise bike 2 km. It's finished in about a minute, before I start my morning prayers and Bible reading.

On Saturdays I insert the previous week's DVD and my flash drive and click on the "Weekly (Full) Backup" desktop icon that runs the "Fullbkup" batch file. This preserves the current week's daily backups on this week's DVD so that I can go back to each day's new and changed files for at least a week in case I need the version of a file I changed, let's say, on Tuesday but before I changed it again on Wednesday. I alternate each Saturday between two DVDs. It takes a little more time than my 2-km. exercise bike ride, so I start it running just after I make a pot of coffee and finish getting dressed. When the archiving step finishes, the batch file erases all the "Partbkup" files from the previous week's DVD (remember, I still have this week's "Partbkup" files on this week's DVD), and it erases all the backup files from my flash drive. Then it copies Saturday's "Fullbkup" files to the DVD and flash drive.

What's the result? First, it's easy and doesn't take much thought, just insert a couple of things in the computer and "click" - away it goes! Second, when your hard disk crashes (not "if" but "when" - it's already happened to me 4 or 5 times in the past 30 or so years) you can have a backup on a DVD. Third, if a thief breaks in and steals your encrypted backup disks or you lose your computer and carry-on luggage while travelling (this hasn't happened to me yet but I'm prepared), you can have your current weekly "Fullbkup" and your daily "Partbkup" files encrypted on your flash drive. Of course, you also carry the program on your flash drive that can de-archive these files when you supply the password. Audit your backups occasionally to be sure they contain the data you think they do! And keep on a separate DVD copies of programs you've downloaded and paid for, and their registration keys - these don't need to be backed up daily or weekly, just when changes occur.

Would you like to have a copy of these "Partbkup" and "Fullbkup" batch files that use a free archiving program, and have me help you customize them for the folders you need to be sure are kept safe and sound? If so, contact me by phone or email - see the link to my website below. And while at my website you'll see a new photo in the heading of each page and some new pages: "Website Creation," "Find Jobs," "SEO Studio" and "Internet Studio" - let me know what you think!

Remember: Your business or personal information is far more valuable than the computer or the backup media it's stored on! Hard drives do crash, and computers do get lost or stolen. You can always replace the hardware, but can you recover your data?

Feel free to forward our CN.Net-News to a few friends (but don't spam!).

Yours truly,

Bob the CompuNerd

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