Bitdefender 2012 Internet Security Suite Review & Total Security 2012 Giveaway

I was recently asked by Bitdefender to check out their latest version of Bitdefender Internet Security Suite 2012. They provided a couple copies of the software and I ran it through the paces. The results were very impressive.

Installation was very clean and simple. Once installed I quickly fell in love with the Auto Pilot mode.

One of the biggest complaints that I have heard over the years from users is how complicated internet security suites are to operate. I have fielded countless calls from co-workers and family members alike saying, “My anti-virus is asking me to do something, what should I click?” or “It found a virus, which option should I choose?”

Auto Pilot mode takes away the confusing questions, sets the software to default levels and runs silently with very little user interaction.

But what if you like “getting under the hood” and tweaking your settings? Bitdefender does not disappoint. When I dug into the settings from the control panel, I found a plethora of options and features that I could modify.

Sure you can set the Anti-Virus and Anti-Spam engine to modes ranging from permissive to aggressive. Or modify firewall rules and enable the Intrusion Detection System. But it was the vulnerability scanner that really caught my attention.

Let’s be honest with each other, what are the biggest problems with securing PC’s? Having an anti-virus and firewall alone will not completely protect you. You have to have your Windows patches installed, applications need to be kept up to date and you have to use secure passwords.

Bitdefender’s vulnerability scanner does just that. It checks for Windows updates and allows you to install them right from its console. It also checks some key applications that you have installed for updates and checks your user passwords for length and complexity.

Okay, it is packed with features, but how well does it do under attack?

Exceptional actually, it detected every test virus that I tried to run.

On an infected PDF that it could not clean it gave two options. One was to “Take the proper action” or “Take no action”. Clicking the first option successfully quarantined the virus. No confusing questions or options here.

The anti-phishing and malicious website protection was stellar. Numerous times Bitdefender displayed a large “Stop” warning page when trying to surf to questionable sites. And Bitdefender was the only anti-virus that I have seen yet to successfully stop the malicious Java script attack from Backtrack 5’s Social Engineering Toolkit.

Bitdefender Internet Security Suite 2012 does seem to draw a lot of resources, especially when everything is turned on and the scanners are set to aggressive. Also doing a full system scan seemed to take an extended amount of time.

But personally I would rather have the extra level of protection provided with aggressive scanning. Bitdefender also offers a “quick-scan” option that interestingly uses the power of the cloud to scan key files in memory.

I was very impressed with Bitdefender Internet Security Suite 2012 and highly recommend it.

Want a chance to win a license of the full blown Total Security 2012?

Total Security has all the great features of the Internet Security version but adds file shredding & encryption, system tune up and secure online backup. Bitdefender has graciously offered 5 licenses of the software (for a single user, on a single computer, for one year) as a give away.

For a chance to win one, simply download the trial version, share your thoughts of the trial version here, your blog, Twitter, or even Bitdefender’s Facebook page, then share the link to it in the comment section below and get a chance to win the full product.

*** UPDATE – The giveaway is now over and the winners have been notified. Thank you very much for making this such a success!

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Nation State Hackers could Target Military Robots and Automated Systems

I enjoy computer security topics, but I also love robotics. I have been reading a very interesting book entitled “Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution in the 21st Century“. And it has really made me think, what if hackers targeted a country’s automated defense systems?

Okay, before you think I have lost my mind, just hang with me for a minute and let me explain.

What are hackers going after now? Just read the headline news, some are targeting military, government and defense contractor sites. Well, what are our defense contractors and military working on now? According to the book, congress has created a requirement that 1/3 of ALL military ground vehicles be automated or unmanned by 2015. That is not too far away. Also, the airforce is busy creating unmanned stealth planes to add to it’s already numerous drone force.

Automation and autonomy seems to be the path our military is taking.

Are automated systems susceptible to malfunctions, glitches or software errors? Are there any instances recorded of these systems turning on their creator? Unfortunately, according to the book, yes.

A survey of American factories that use robots showed that 4 percent of them had “major robotic accidents”. Britain recorded 77 robot accidents in one year. And Japan’s Prime Minister Koizumi was even swung at by a malfunctioning robot during a tour of a factory.

In 1960 our Ballistic Missile Early Warning System detected a missile launch. It was not a launch at all, but the computer mistook the rising moon as a ballistic missile. In 1979, a wargame test program was accidentally loaded into the live launch detection system. Strategic bombers were almost scrambled before the error was caught.

In the 80’s, an automated prototype air defense system being displayed to visiting dignitaries targeted a port-a-potty instead of the helicopter flying down range.

In 2007, an automated computer linked anti-aircraft gun in South Africa malfunctioned and “began to fire wildly, spraying high-explosive shells at a rate of 550 a minute, swinging around through 360 degrees like a high-pressure hose.”

Several reports of robot systems (used overseas now) doing “Crazy Ivans” – turning around, and driving at you when they loose communication, are recorded in the book. Noah Shachtman, a tech journalist has said, “We’ve all had problems with our PCs freezing up, frying their little computer minds. That’s inconvenient. But it’s much more worrisome if it’s a laptop armed with an M-16.”

But what if enemy state backed hackers targeted these systems? Could they jam or even take over the systems?

According to the book, yes, it is a possibility. The author cites a US Army article written by Ralph Peters, where he:

… described how future wars would also include electronic “battles of conviction,” in which opposing combat systems would struggle to “convince” each other’s electronics to do things their own side doesn’t want. “Robot, drive yourself off a cliff.” Or, even worse, “Robot, recode all American soldiers and civilians as enemy combatants. Authorized to fire at will.”

Many of the robotic systems used in military applications are using off the shelf parts. One would have to ask, where are these parts manufactured? And are these systems protected against hardware, software and communication based attacks?

In the rush to remove American service members from harm, we must ensure that the automated systems that replace them are secure from subversion.

Israel Cyber Command Plans to Cripple Iran in Cyber Space

Britain’s The Sunday Times has recently reported that Israel has setup a military cyber command specifically to attack Iran. The move comes as senior officers become uncertain of the probability that a kinetic conventional attack could disable Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Israel must turn into a global cyber superpower,” said Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. The new unit will report directly to him. According to Foxnews the unit has already been active in attacking Iran:

The center, which has been set up under the auspices of military intelligence unit 8200 has already conducted a series of “soft” espionage missions, including hacking into Iran’s version of Facebook and other social networking sites.

Also, according to the article, Israel has two goals for the new cyber command. The first is to take out Iran’s military establishment and secondly to attack Iran’s civil infrastructure.

Though not known for certain, this could be the same unit that Israel created in May for cyber defense. The “National Cybernetic Taskforce” is an eighty member team led by a retired General to defend Israeli cyber space. Or it could also be a new team founded under Israel’s famous Unit 8200 that is focused solely on offensive  operations.

Either way, Israel is determined to be on the leading edge of cyber warfare. As Netanyahu told reporters in May, “The state of Israel will be a center for dealing with the cyber world.”

Defend Against Next Generation Network Attacks with FireEye

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