Contact Us
Mental Health
Financial advice
Youth Matters
Techno Corner

Arun Marballi

Constant diligence! That’s what it takes to keep your computers safe from the never-ending stream of threats you face from spyware, trojans, worms, key-Loggers, viruses and other forms of electronic pestilence. In other words, take your eye off the computers for a minute – and you’re in trouble. It’s just that simple!

Sounds paranoid? You bet it does. But this continuous attention to keeping the computers security system upgraded ensures that we have a secure and reliable computer. That has pretty much been the mantra I have advocated here during the past year. There is, however, one overriding factor that works in our favor, at least in the foreseeable near future. Although the cyber-crooks are getting increasingly sophisticated and their emphasis has dramatically shifted from creating large-scale highly visible havoc and disruption to stealthy and targeted intrusion for financial gain, the mechanisms employed for infecting our computers are e-mails (including text messaging) and downloads (intentional and unintentional). And both of these mechanisms can be largely shut down with up-to-date security systems – hence, the emphasis on constant diligence!

Two of the major trends in criminal activity observed these days are “phishing” and establishing of “zombie-nets.” While “phishing” attempts which are e-mail based rely largely on our being gullible enough to believe what we see without question and provide sensitive personal information to the person(s) originating the “phishing” e-mails thereby empowering them to steal our information or worse our identities, “Zombie-nets” are established by malicious software that may be downloaded because of an inadequately protected computer. In a Zombie-net, our computers become part of a grid of computers that work much like zombies – at the command of a remote controlling computer. The purpose of the zombie computers is to carry out tasks at the bidding of this Crooked Master, including sending out e-mails and messages to other computers causing damage through what are called “Denial of Service” attacks in which the computer that receives these messages invariably crashes because it cannot handle the volume of received messages. Although these attacks do not appear to directly affect our computers, zombie computers most certainly suffer performance degradation and seem to take longer and longer for carrying out the simplest of tasks. Besides, when the source(s) of messages are traced, one of the tentacles will lead to your computer and it is quite possible that your Internet service provider may suspend your online access until your computer is cleaned up.

In addition to ensuring that the Operating System (Windows 2000, Windows XP, Mac OS, Unix, Linux, etc) is updated on a regular basis, it is just as important to verify that the Microsoft Office software is up-to-date as well. The main reason this is important is because the entire Windows System, including the Office software, is built as a collection of small interdependent modules. Consequently, it is not sufficient to update the Operating System regularly. The Office software also should be updated regularly. Last month, Microsoft released an update to the Excel Spreadsheet Management Software that corrected a potential vulnerability that could enable a hacker to gain control of our computer through what Microsoft calls “malformed” Excel files. Although malicious software that exploits an announced vulnerability does not become available in cyberspace immediately, patching our computers to ward off these threats will ensure that we do not become a victim in the long run.

Arun Marballi has worked in the Information Technology arena for more than 20 years with extensive experience in software development, process design and network/workstation management. For comments, questions, tips or suggestions, e-mail


Contact Information
The Editor:
Send mail to with questions or comments about this web site. Copyright © 2004 Khaas Baat.

Anything that appears in Khaas Baat cannot be reproduced, whether wholly or in part, without permission. Opinions expressed by Khaas Baat contributors are their own and do not reflect the publisher's opinion.

Khaas Baat reserves the right to edit and/or reject any advertising. Khaas Baat is not responsible for errors in advertising or for the validity of any claims made by its advertisers. Khaas Baat is published by Khaas Baat Communications.