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myspace search brings me to a gray page and orange text - wh

by Delphine / September 15, 2006 10:21 AM PDT

My grandchildren come over and search for myspace on the computer I let them use. They get a gray page with orange text that has nothing to do with anything. I don't really want them on my laptop. It happens with yahoo search, google search, and the address bar.

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Sounds like malware
by john_mcdoogle / September 15, 2006 11:12 AM PDT

There's an rapidly increasing problem with little programs that are designed to latch onto Internet Explorer -- only Internet Explorer at the moment, simply because it's by far the easiest to exploit, not that there's any reason malware couldn't be written for other browsers -- and do anything from silently spy on your online activities and report back, to hijacking homepages and search requests, to stealing important information like credit card numbers, social security numbers, and other similar information that may be entered into the computer.

Getting rid of these little buggers can be anything from very simple to having to format the system and reinstall because they've replaced key system files. You can find plenty of tips on getting rid of these things by searching these forums or posting over in the Virus and Security forum.

That's only half the solution in my mind. The other half, is instituting some policies that dramatically reduce the chances of malware getting onto the system. To that end, I've borrowed some wonderful tips, elegant in their simplicity, and will post them at the end of the message. If you follow these guidelines, your risk of malware infestation drops to near zero, though they are completely optional. Just remember that your risk level goes up with each guideline you choose not to follow. But enough of the doomsday talk, here are the guidelines:

1: Don't use, with the lone exception of getting new security patches, Internet Explorer or any browser based on Internet Explorer. Make a choice between Opera or Firefox, and avoid IE like a diseased animal that should be put down
2: Avoid using Outlook and Outlook Express
3: Avoid all file sharing programs
4: Avoid all pirated programs
5: Make sure to keep current with all security updates which Microsoft tends to release every second tuesday of the month. It's the one and ONLY time you should be using Internet Explorer

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Have to take excetion regarding IE.
by caktus / September 15, 2006 12:39 PM PDT
In reply to: Sounds like malware

With the other safe-guarding measures mentioned in your post as well as using a firewall and regularly updating and running anti-virus, and anti ad/spy ware programs as well as safe surfing helps emensly. And these precautions are necessary regardless the browser used.

I have used IE quite exclusively for about nine years and rarely have I experienced problems. And the few problms I've had with IE have been simple and far between, and often simply a matter of learning to use it.

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That's fine for you...
by john_mcdoogle / September 15, 2006 1:27 PM PDT

But what about the thousands, if not tens of thousands or even millions, of other people who don't have the capacity and/or desire to undertake this venture of learning to use IE safely?

I'm also not a fan of software firewalls, and consider them to be essentially worthless and a waste of time. However, I've already stated my opinion on that subject numerous times here in previous discussions, so I won't rehash it now. Feel free to check my posting history to find my reasoning on firewalls. And the virus threat is slowly waning in lieu of malware, so while an up to date AV program is important, it's becoming less important daily with new malware being created at about 4X the rate of new viruses. I also wouldn't include that with the list, because the list is aimed at preventing malware. Viruses are a whole other subject.

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Hi, John. Got to admit...
by caktus / September 18, 2006 2:44 AM PDT
In reply to: That's fine for you...

I?ve never used a router firewall. I just have dialup and only connect when I need/want to. I've used Sygate and currently ZA which is working almost constantly blocking intrusions/port scan attempts as well as every incoming/outgoing transmission. And I have it not notifying me about every little thing (that would drive me up a wall) unless it's a new program I need to allow. I really don't understand the scan attempts when best I can tell my [open] ports as well as IP address are stealthed and the IP is also behind a proxy. When ever I scan for the IP all that comes back is the proxy?s IP. So, it appears that the software firewall seems to be working out pretty good.

Recently I cleaned up a friends ME PC with ZA, and updated Norton AV, Adaware and S&D. The system was riddled with 26 viruses and about as many ad/spy ware, as well as some allowed programs in ZA that shouldn't have been there.

I'm no geek and probably don't shine to bright given age and health but I find IE pretty much a piece of cake. So, I've a feeling it's mostly a matter of lack of desire rather than capacity. It seems no matter how much technology gives us some laziness will always prevail.

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Few thoughts
by john_mcdoogle / September 18, 2006 3:23 AM PDT

First, a lot of people misinterpret the firewall messages as a sign that the Hun's are attacking... Or trying to anyway. Most of the time, it's a pointless message about something completely harmless, and the point is to try and garner the sense of trust that you express. It's a very clever bit of social engineering, and I tip my hat to them for the bang up job of it they're doing, but that's all it is.

Secondly... I fully agree that it's more a problem of people just being lazy, however a lot of that behavior is ENCOURAGED by the software. The whole "easy to use" nonsense that has been a major staple of software marketing for ages now, is the ultimate in rewarding people for being lazy. If people don't like having to press three buttons, then we'll strip down the options until you only need to press a single button. Microsoft and Apple have been doing more than probably any other two companies in the computing world to dumb things down to the lowest possible common denominator. And every time I think they can't possibly make anything any dumber, they prove me wrong.

People such as yourself and myself, who actively seek out knowledge and opportunities to learn, are a dying breed in the western world. If I had my way, I wouldn't settle for just suggesting people make the switch from IE to Firefox, I'd make changes on a much larger scale than that. Ever the pragmatist though, I realize that I'm never going to be able to affect change on that kind of scale. I do, however, have at least a 50/50 chance of convincing people to make some simple changes that will remove them from the line of fire. It's not perfect, but it's something.

Of course I see now that someone has published proof of concept code for an IE exploit that allows for drive-by code insertion. Meaning, malware could be placed on someone's system without any kind of interaction on their part besides going to some website. The only real reliable defense against threats of that nature is to just use a different program.

And I would like to leave you with a word of thanks. It seems far too rare that you are able to find a reasonable and even-tempered person to have a discussion with like this, on these message boards. You may disagree with my opinions, but you do so in a respectful way. You have no idea how refreshing it is, or how tiresome it can be dealing with emotionally stunted proponents of some software package or way of doing things. So one more time, thank you.

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by caktus / September 19, 2006 8:38 AM PDT
In reply to: Few thoughts

BTW, I didn't mention that the friend is using FF. So, guess I ought to suggest he be careful where he surfs or use snail mail for sensitive matters.

Have a great day.


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Reply to myspace search
by caktus / September 15, 2006 1:10 PM PDT

It would be interesting to know just what ''text'' is on the page. Or if the URL is being correctly typed. Some times just not having cookies enabled can prevent a page from loading correctly. Also, occasionally some listings in search engines are bogus.

I found a forum thread at
regarding this matter. Appearantly it involves the HTML coding used to create the site. The gray seems to be the primary background and not properly coded for IE. Something I expect they'll fix.

If this link doesn't open for you, the accepted fix or work-around is appearantly to refresh the page.

Hope something here helps.


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