Archive for May, 2011

Critters

Helpful Hints, Warnings | Posted by Dennis May 25th, 2011

My clients like it because I don’t try to talk over their heads.  I call all the software bugs (viruses, trojans, malware, etc.) CRITTERS.  That’s the Okie in me. 😉  It’s amazing how complex they’ve become, and how much they mimick living creatures.  They propagate, they defend themselves, and some are smart enough to learn.  I see a lot of PC shops that run a disk for an hour or so and say OK, IT’S ALL FIXED.  I just laugh.  See, the latest critters are REALLY good at making sure you don’t kill them.  If you remove one piece, another puts it back, and vice-versa.  We use a pretty complex procedure to make sure 1) the beast doesn’t load to memory 2) that more than one software removal tool scans EVERYTHING to make sure the pieces are gone and 3) then we run tools within Windows to make sure that any changes are remedied.  It’s another reason to make sure that you hire reputable service companies and techs to do your PC work.

Attacks from Russia

News, Warnings | Posted by Dennis May 23rd, 2011

Ok, so the source of the latest digital attacks has been revealed!  They are using Google API to steer people to infected sites.  The source is in Russia.  This was verified by a customer who inadvertantly gave their CC number to the critter (the one that pretends to be Antivirus), then contacted the bank.  They rejected the charges based on location.  So it seems that the Russian mob has found another way to steal lots of American money.  IF I DISAPPEAR PLEASE TELL THEM TO READ THIS!  😉   I’d say avoid Google searches altogether until they clean up their act.

Windows Passwords

Helpful Hints, Warnings | Posted by Dennis May 19th, 2011

People don’t like to put a Windows password on their PC because it’s inconvenient.  But you really should, on all accounts, because it’s just another hurdle that a hacker has to jump if they try to get into your machine.  THE GOOD NEWS is that you don’t have to enter it! If you have an account that you’d like Windows to automatically log into, do this (after you set a password, of course);  Go to start, run, and type “control userpasswords2” with no quotes.  The window that pops up will let you select an account, uncheck the login box, and then enter the password (twice) for automatic sign in!  It’s much better to do this than to have NO PASSWORD.  For XP users, make sure that the Administrator account has a password, too.  For home edition you MUST BOOT IN SAFE MODE (F8) to do this, or you can’t see the Administrator user.

Another Facebook hoax

Helpful Hints, News, Warnings | Posted by Dennis May 16th, 2011

Ok, this one has been around awhile, but it keeps getting re-circulated.  There are FAKE ADS out there that claim to be able to tell you who viewed your Facebook (FB) profile and how often, etc.  DON’T FALL FOR IT, it will infect your PC, and possibly hack your FB account.  You should scan your PC for viruses and malware, and then change your FB password.  If you have been hacked by this beast, it will post a big green button (see picture) on all your friend’s pages.  If anyone clicks it, it gets passed along.  Instead, hover your mouse in the top right and click the X, then choose Remove Post.

Rootkits galore

Helpful Hints, News, Warnings | Posted by Dennis May 13th, 2011

Attacks on XP machines seemed to have increased lately.  As usual, they seem to start with a fake security product like the one shown.  The latest beasts will prevent you from running anything to clean it off.  If you can’t run any of your programs here’s a fix to allow you to scan with Malwarebytes AM or others.  I have found  a LOT of rootkits in the last couple of weeks.  It seems like WIN XP is kinda like the little Dutch boy with his finger in the dam.  There are just too many holes, too many leaks, and it seems like the dam is breaking.  It’s a good reason to upgrade to Windows 7 if you can.  It’s much more secure.  The increase in frequency makes me wonder about the timing.  Al Qaeda?  Not sure that they have the resources to pull this off, but SOMEBODY does.  It stinks of organized crime.

SD Cards

Helpful Hints, Warnings | Posted by Dennis May 10th, 2011

Cameras and other devices have a variety of memory cards available.  The most popular standard is SD, but there are three sizes/packages available in this type; Standard, mini, and micro SD.  There are adapters for the smaller ones so you can read them in standard SD slots.  Be aware that some of the newer, large capacity cards won’t read in older slots.  Also, any time you get a new one you should FORMAT THE CARD IN THE DEVICE YOU WANT TO USE IT IN.  (your camera, for example).  This can save you from having file problems later on.  I’ve rescued photos several times for panicked customers whose photos seemed to suddenly DISAPPEAR.  They were still there, but some pieces were scrambled.  My favorite tool for this scenario is called Flash File Recovery from Panterasoft.  So far (for me) it’s had about a 90% success rate in recovering lost photos.

Osama Photos (FBI Warning)

News, Warnings | Posted by Dennis May 8th, 2011

We have been advised of an FBI warning related to purported images and videos related to the recent events surrounding Osama bin Laden. A number of reports have indicated attempts to integrate malicious software with this media or websites hosting it. We advise all users to avoid viewing or clicking links claiming to show Osama bin Laden. Please see the below link to the FBI warning for more information. http://www.fbi.gov/news/pressrel/press-releases/malicious-software-features-usama-bin-laden-links-to-ensnare-unsuspecting-computer-users

 

Android updates

Helpful Hints, Warnings | Posted by Dennis May 7th, 2011

Did you know that your phone might need updates?  It’s easy to do on Android, and you’ll really want to do it if you updated your ‘droid version (e.g. I just went from 2.1 to 2.2 AKA Froyo).  Just go to Marketplace, and you’ll see an Update button.  Some of the apps will update automatically, but others will have to be installed manually (just press the button).  The reason for the manual updates are to warn you about privacy; these apps have changed what information they access from your phone, so you have to agree before installing.  Note:  be sure you have a good internet connection before doing this.  Wi-fi is recommended.

Firewalls

Helpful Hints, Warnings | Posted by Dennis May 6th, 2011

What’s a firewall?  In networking it’s a way to control what gets in (and out) of your net.  It’s a device that makes sure that hackers can’t easily waltz in to your PC and have their way with it.  Most do Network Address Translation (NAT), which changes the IP address (kinda like your PC phone number)  from a global one to a private one.  So the number that the world sees is DIFFERENT from the number your computer has.  It makes it much harder for someone on the outside to find you, hidden safely in your local network, with a number that no one out there can see.  Firewalls also do other things, like control PORT traffic.  See, every piece of info that flings across the web has a port.  Different app’s use different ports.  Most browsing happens on port 80, for example.  It’s important to know that there are both Hardware and Software firewalls.  I’m pretty fond of the built-in firewall that Windows 7 has.  BUT it’s not really enough.  You should have a ROUTER for your home or office network, that has a Hardware firewall.  If you don’t, BE SURE to tell Windows that the network you’re using is PUBLIC.  That makes it more restrictive, and will help protect you.

Web Secrets

Helpful Hints | Posted by Dennis May 5th, 2011

How does it all work?  Three steps:  1) Register a domain name.  This is handled through REGISTRARS like Network Associates.  You’re paying for the rights to a name, like TPCD.com.  2) Find a host.  There are TONS out there, many very reasonable.  We use  Hands-on Web Hosting in CA.   They have been great, and only cost about $5 a month.  3) Build your site.  This is the hard part, but can be easier of you have the right software. Some hosts have built in packages that make it easy to slap together a basic site.  But if you want to get fancy (like database access, shopping cart, etc.) be prepared to PAY.  It’s kinda nice that ANYBODY can have a basic site for about $100.  The great equalizer  :-)