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Monday, 30 March 2009

April Fool's Joke?

There has been a certain amount of publicity recently about the CONFICKER super worm which has infected hospitals, Royal Navy warships, industry and the latest news from a leaked memo says that our Parliament has also been infected.

The conficker worm spreads through several update mechanisms, a well-known Windows vulnerability and tainted USB drives being just two. Once it secures a foothold on an infected network, the worm can spread widely across network shares by exploiting weak password security, a major factor in its high prevalence within corporate systems.

Researchers have reverse engineered the worm and it is apparent that an event is targeted for April 1st (April Fools day) and while most April Fool's jokes are harmless this one may not be.

Conficker has been polling 250 different domain names every day to download and run an update program. On April 1st, the latest version of Conficker will start to poll 500 out of 50,000 domains a day to do the same thing. What effect that will have is at present unknown.

How can you protect your systems from the Conficker worm? This can be achieved through good security practices, including those defined in ISO27001:2005, The information Security Standard.

If you are worried about your systems and suspect that yours are infected there are a number of good detection tools available.

One indication that you may be infected is the inability to connect to various security web-sites, Conficker prevents your system gaining access.

We employ several layers of protection, including McAfee anti virus, anti spam/malware and email filtering so I was not unduly worried, but we did run a scan of all our systems just to be on the safe side.

We ran, which is a free scan and this confirmed we were conficker free.

Don't be caught out and be an April Fool

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

It Isn't rocket science!

I visit a fair number of businesses each year and I am often surprised by the real lack of security for computer systems. Many businesses either don't know about security or think that a security incident won't affect them.

Here are 10 basic security precautions for Windows machines :
  1. Always set the option to force a user to press CTL-ALT-DEL before logging on
  2. Passwords should be at least six characters long and contain letters and numbers
  3. Don't use your name, your partners name or the name of a pet as a password
  4. Don't write the password on a post-it note and stick it to the screen or under the keyboard
  5. Passwords should be changed regularly
  6. Don't share your password with anyone
  7. Use ant-ivirus software and keep it up to date
  8. Use an anti-spyware programme regularly
  9. Turn on the inbuilt firewall (Windows XP and later machines)
  10. When leaving the desktop or laptop unattended, lock the system by pressing the windows button and L
Simple steps can save real problems

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Disability Discrimination Act

A little while ago I was called by a man who claimed that he was having difficulty accessing my website and on further investigation it turned out that he was visually impaired. Apparently, and I must admit I was totally unaware of this requirement, all web-sites which offer goods or services to then public must take into account that some people wishing to access these sites may have disabilities.

I discussed this with Debbie Harrison of DVH Design, who looks after my website, and she has done a great deal of research and is in the process of upgrading my website to comply with this requirement.

Some people have difficulty reading the standard font used on sites and it should be possible for a user to select an enlarged font or a greatly enlarged font. In addition I understand that some users find difficulty reading black on a light background so the user should be able to select a different colour background.

The other requirement is for the user to be able to use a keyboard instead of a mouse.

I ran an internal quality auditing course some years ago where three partially sighted men from Action for Blind People, attended. They requested that I provide the written material for them in 36 point Times Roman instead of 12 point as had been the case for other delegates. This was easily provided and all three delegates not only passed then course but said that they had really enjoyed the two day.

It is a pity that those of us who have no such disabilities do not automatically think of those less fortunate and make then necessary adjustments need to allow easy access to our material.

I am certainly no expert but if you need any help with this may I suggest that you contact Debbie at DVH Design

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