By Steve Bass
You’re the Target!
This just in: Somebody out there is trying to trick you into clicking a link in an e-mail. Do it and you’ll be delivered to a Web site ready, willing, and absolutely able to damage your PC, steal your passwords, and use your address books.
Just this week, PandaLabs warned of a massive iTunes phishing campaign. E-mails are sent with a well-designed, authentic-looking receipt for $895. Alarmed — and unsuspecting — victims click to see how it happened and they eventually get tagged with the Zeus Trojan.
But I’m Protected
Okay, yes, you already have a security tool. But I have three smart, free, no-fuss browser tools that’ll give you an extra edge against cyber criminals.
I sense you might be resisting. Go along with me for a minute.
You’re asking, legitimately, why I’m suggesting you need more help when I went on so long in the last newsletter about Norton Internet Security 2011. Two reasons: One, I’m not taking any chances with my PC, and I don’t think you should either. And two, if Norton somehow skips a beat — or you forget to update yoursecurity program for a week — I want someone else to watch both our backs.
ClearCloud: Under the Hood
Technically, ClearCloud changes the DNS server settings so traffic is routed through its servers first. I like how I can turn the ClearCloud service on and off, and it uninstalls without doing any damage. ClearCloud is still in beta, a testing phase. Read the ClearCloud FAQ. If you’re interested in this technology, you can also look at Norton DNS, which is in beta as well.
As with any tool that changes your system’s DNS settings, ClearCloud still blocks sites for a couple of hours after it’s disabled or unloaded. You can manually flush the DNS cache by typing “ipconfig /flushdns” at a command prompt (this feature will be included in the final product).
ClearCloud is similar to SpywareBlaster, also a freebie, a tool I used to recommend. But SpywareBlaster uses a static list that’s on your computer and needs to be updated. ClearCloud has a substantially larger database of hazardous URLs–and the list is Web-based and dynamic, so nasty URLs are constantly being added.
ClearCloud versus OpenDNS
ClearCloud and OpenDNS have lots in common. (Read my take on OpenDNS.) The difference is that OpenDNS focuses more on letting you filter sites you don’t want to see, say porn, politics, parked domains, dating, and so on. In the last few weeks, OpenDNS has upped the ante to block more phishing sites than it has in the recent past.
Me, I’m switching to ClearCloud for a few months to try it out. It’s not likely to happen, but I wish OpenDNS would partner with ClearCloud and integrate its list of dangerous sites.