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US-CERT and Cyber Security

By JASON BAILEY
Sun Advocate/Progress Webmaster

The advent of the information age has brought us many good things, but it isn't without problems. Some of the biggest problems we face today is identity theft and other electronic exploitation. Cyber criminals are dying to get their hands into our computers, cell phones and PDAs, in the hopes of finding something that they can use to their benefit.

With cyber crimes on the rise and increased terrorist threats, the federal government realized the need for a single entity that specialized in cyber security.

In 2003, the "United States Computer Emergency Response Team" was created in response to various national cyber security threats. US-CERT, as it is often called, is the operational arm of the National Cyber Security Division (NCSD) at the Department of Homeland Security.

US-CERT's web site, which is located at www.us-cert.gov, is a very valuable resource for all American citizens. It has sections for technical and non-technical users alike that provide information which can help us protect ourselves from such attacks.

For example, the US-CERT currently has a page titled "Defending Cell Phones and PDAs Against Attack" that explains what can happen if an attacker gains access to your cell phone or PDA (using services at your expense, for example), and how to prevent or mitigate the attack.

Another page, titled "Coordinating Virus and Spyware Defense" explains the need for anti-virus and spyware software, but also warns about the problems that can be caused by having multiple anti-virus or spyware programs installed on the same computer.

There are also pages on a number of current Microsoft Windows vulnerabilities that may require your attention, like the recent (and very serious) "ANI" cursor exploit for Windows XP and Windows Vista.

So, if you own a computer, cell phone or PDA (which happens to include most of us), you ought to take a look at the US-CERT site. It is a very valuable online resource that will help you to protect yourself from cyber criminals.

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