Computer Crime Research Center


Phishing and pharming

Date: November 09, 2005

Q:What is pharming? Is it like phishing?

A: Both pharming and phishing are methods used to steal personal information from unsuspecting people over the Internet.

Phishing typically involves fraudulent bulk e-mail messages that guide recipients to legitimate-looking but fake Web sites and try to get them to supply personal information like account passwords.

Pharming tampers with the domain-name server system so that traffic to a Web site is secretly redirected to a different site altogether, even though the browser seems to be displaying the Web address you wanted to visit.

To help avoid pharming, make sure the Web site has a valid certificate of authority, from a service like VeriSign, that matches the site's name before you enter any personal data.

Q: My Windows computer came with an antivirus program, but its subscription expires next month. I would like to switch to a different antivirus program, but I'm concerned that I will receive annoying pop-ups from the first program reminding me that my computer is not properly protected. Will these go away if I install the other antivirus program or am I stuck with them?

A: Antivirus software is made to protect your system from Internet worms, Trojan horses and other malicious programs seeking to infest your PC.

These programs alert you to the need to update the protection, and the updates are free for a year or so.

The alerts can get particularly pesky when your subscription is almost up.

You are not stuck with the antivirus program that came installed on your computer.

But before you install a second antivirus program, it is a good idea to uninstall the original one.

This should get rid of all the update messages from the old software and also prevent conflicts between the old and new programs.

Having two active antivirus programs has been known to cause problems as they battle each other to guard your PC.

Once you have bought your new software and have it ready to install, choose the original antivirus program from the Programs menu and uninstall it with the Uninstaller program that should have come with it.

If it did not come with its own uninstaller application, the Windows Add/Remove program, accessible from the Control Panel, is another option to extract the old software. (Just throwing the program's icon into the Recycle Bin does not remove all its files from your system.)

Some new programs can sense older versions of itself and other antivirus software and offer to uninstall them for you as part of the setup process.

Once you have uninstalled the older program, immediately install the new antivirus software, register it and run its update feature so you can download all the latest antivirus files to keep your system safe.

Q: How do I change the programs my Firefox browser for Windows uses to handle specific file types?

A: Web browsers use a variety of programs to handle different file types encountered on the Internet. If you want to change the programs the Firefox browser calls upon to play, say, an MP3 song or a Web video, you can adjust the program's settings by going to the Tools menu and selecting Options.

In the Options box, click the Downloads icon on the left side. In the File Types section that appears on the right side of the box is a list of all the programs Firefox is using to open specific file types.

To change the program, select the file type and click the Change Action button. In the resulting box, you can tell Firefox how you want it to handle the file type.

Click the button next to "Open them with this application" and then click the Browse button to select your preferred program to use with the file.
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