Iceberg straight ahead

Iceberg straight ahead

By Richard Heller

Iceberg straight ahead

This fall, Microsoft is scheduled to release the next version of the Windows operating system, Windows XP. Before you get too excited about buying it, there are a few things you should know first.

Both Windows 2000 and Windows XP have a major security problem when they are used to access the Internet. While you are connected to the net using either of these two products, your computer is wide open to attack from hackers, and by hackers I’m talking about kids as young as 13. By exploiting a weakness in the operating system, they can install a virus/Trojan that is so harmful that you could be in a lot of trouble because your computer will be creating the problem.

Through a specification of the operating system known as “Raw Sockets,” programs will be able to talk directly to the Internet, bypassing security features and allowing your computer to be controlled by others without your knowledge. There is a problem in a program that you probably have installed on your computer right now. Windows Media Player 7 can allow hackers to run any program on your computer that they want. You should go to the Microsoft web site and download the latest version of the player.

The real threat is a program called the Sub7Server Trojan. The program is delivered to your computer by having you download a file called “HardcoreS7.exe.” When the program is run, it creates two randomly-named files, so it is impossible to locate them by filename. Then the original hardcores7 file is deleted. By making numerous entries on your computer to cause the program to be loaded, it pretty well makes it impossible to remove.

When the Trojan installs, it finds a port on your computer that it can operate from, something that security software cannot detect. Once you are online, the Trojan sends out a message telling other hackers where your computer is located on the Internet. The next thing that happens is that the hackers have complete control of your computer.

The hackers can monitor your keyboard activity and know every keystroke you make, including passwords and credit card numbers. By placing an automated program called a “Bot” on your computer, the hacker can have your computer bombard a web site thousands of times per hour, causing the web site to be unavailable to other users.

If your computer is unlucky enough to have this Trojan installed, you will find that about the only way to remove it is to start all over again by reformatting your hard drive and re-installing your programs. Because you don’t know the names of the Trojan files, you may re-install the virus when you copy your data files back to the computer, unless you have a backup made from before you were infected.

Before you rush out to buy Windows XP when it is released, or if you are currently using Windows 2000, you should carefully look at your security concerns and be sure to have backups of your data.

Richard Heller is an independent computer specialist who specializes in repairs, installation, upgrades, technical support, Internet sharing, data recovery and diagnostics. If you have any computer or service-related questions, please send them to The Rock River Times or e-mail

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