Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Own A Laptop? Make A Thumb Drive Theft Alarm With Free Tool

Turn An Old Thumb Drive Into An Anti-Theft Device

Prevent the theft of your laptop. Laptop theft is common and a constant threat. There is a free program – LAlarm – which when installed emits a loud siren sound when a thief tries to steal your laptop. And it can destroy selected data (and recover it later) if the laptop is stolen; which is an important step in protecting your “identity”, and personal information.

LAlarm consists of five alarms and other security functions designed to protect laptops and sensitive data.

Highlights

  • Theft Alarm- It prevents laptop theft by sounding an alarm when a thief tries to steal a laptop.
  • Perimeter Alarm- It alerts when a laptop goes outside a perimeter.
  • Data Destruction- It protects sensitive data by destroying the data if the laptop is stolen.
  • Data Recovery- It can recover data from a stolen laptop.
  • Mobile Phone Alert- It sends an alert to a mobile phone via email or SMS.
  • Theft Response- you can tell your laptop what to do in advance if your laptop is in hands of a thief.

What I found “kewel” was the feature that lets you use an old thumb drive as a “sensor” – as described here, fasten a laptop to a table by using a USB flash drive strap. When a thief removes the laptop from the table, the flash drive will be disconnected from the laptop and then an alarm will go off.
A great use for that old 128 MB thumb drive sitting neglected in a drawer..!

If you “go mobile” with your laptop, I highly recommend you take a look at this free program. To do so, click here.

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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October 19, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, hardware, how to, mobile, Portable Computing, security, tech, thumb drives, USB storage devices | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

E-mail Confidential

Reader Asks How To Ensure Only Intended Recipient Can Read The E-mail

Q: I read your article on using WinPT to encrypt e-mail. But I don’t think that will work for me. I am an appraiser, and I need a way to ensure that confidential documents are seen only by the customer, and I need that document to be locked down. I do not want the client to be able to forward it to some other party, or be able to alter the contents. I use Acrobat to create locked PDF’s but how do I handle the encryption?

A: Dear Reader, I think what you need is a Mission Impossible type system, and once the e-mail is opened, a recorded voices says, “This e-mail will self-destruct in 10 seconds… 9…8…” Ha! (hint: google “self-erasing email”)

Seriously, I did write a series about using GPG and WinPT (see Who’s reading your (e-)mail? Part 1) to generate digital certificates. That topic didn’t do too well — too technical, probably — and so I wrote about a much simpler method (see Simple E-mail Encryption) where you get a certificate and ‘plug it in’ to your e-mail client. (Both these have the advantage of being free.)

And you are correct: those methods will not prevent your clients from forwarding the e-mail once they’ve opened (decrypted) them. They are used point-to-point, to ensure privacy during the transit.

To make sure that your recipients cannot forward, or copy>paste your confidential documents and e-mail attachments, I recommend using the “Pro” version of eCipher, which costs $80/yr. This will prevent printing and forwarding of your messages.

Today’s free link: There is a free site that lets you send confidential e-mails using a unique method, and gives you lots of control (including preventing forwarding). Checkout WatchDox.

Today’s free download: Folks, There is also a free version of eCipher which is very easy to install and use. If you are concerned about privacy and confidentiality, check it out.

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved. post to jaanix

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June 1, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, e-mail, encrypting files, how to, Internet | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Internet Plague – Rogue Antivirus

Currently there is an epidemic of fake anti-malware software on the Internet– which is collectively called “rogue anti-malware” (aka “scareware”). ‘Marketed’ under hundreds of different names, such as VirusRemover 2008 and Antivirus XP 2009, this type of rogue software scares people by giving false alarms, and then tries to deceive them into paying for removal of non-existing malware.
Worst part is, they are designed to appear to be legitimate products.. professionally packaged/presented, with testemonials, etc.

The Internet’s “shadow economy” of cybercrime is worth over $105 billion. Online crime is bigger business than the global drugs trade¹. No country, no person, no business and no government is immune from CyberCrime.

This video (produced by the good folks at WOT) shows what happens when a legitimate site gets infected and redirected to one of these bogus anti-malware scams.
(Yes, folks, legitimate websites are being ‘hacked’, it’s known as “poisoning”.)

The people behind this scourge use many different ways to try to entice you to click– realistic looking pop-up windows appear, offers of “free trials” arrive in e-mail, and “free scan” buttons on legit-looking ‘fight malware’ websites.. the means are quite varied! There’s even some that put a red shield icon in your System Tray (down by the clock) and mimic a Security Center alert.

As this video shows, the user is tricked into (scared into, really) providing their credit card #  to clean infections that weren’t there before they clicked and aren’t really there now.
* The ‘false positives’ are not “cleaned” BUT, more adware and spyware is installed.
* A good percentage of my calls at Aplus Computer Aid are folks needing help with getting rid of these rogues. Because these clever programs use the latest techniques to combat removal, and it can be quite tough — if not impossible — to truly remove them.. without formatting your hard-drive.
* For more, please read Is that anti-spyware program really spyware? and Bill Mullins’ How Fake/Rogue Software Affects Real People
* One Website dedicated to combating this epidemic is Spyware Warrior. It has a pretty good list of known rogues, and much more detailed information. Another excellent resource is Bleeping Computer.
* I have written several How-To’s on protecting yourself from malware, and how to clean your machines as well. Click here to see those titles.

¹ From the new MessageLabs whitepaper. (This eye-opening report provides a disturbing look into the ‘dark’ world of cyber-crime. This link is the online version.. you need to scroll a bit..)

Today’s free download: WOT is a free Internet security add-on for your web browser. It will help keep you safer from online scams, identity theft, spyware, spam, viruses and unreliable shopping sites. WOT warns you before you interact with a risky Website. It’s easy and it’s free.

  • So easy a child can use it
  • Ratings for over 20 million websites
  • Downloaded 3 million times
  • The WOT browser addon is light and updates automatically
  • WOT rating icons appear beside search results in Google, Yahoo!, Wikipedia, and webmail – Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo!
  • Settings can be customized to better protect your family
  • WOT Security Scorecard shows rating details and user comments

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved. post to jaanix

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February 10, 2009 Posted by | advice, anti-spyware, antivirus, computers, cyber crime, hackers, how to, Internet scam, security, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

How To Block iFrames*

If you are interested in Tech, and visit Websites such as this one, it will not be very long before you read about Firefox. (In fact just this week I posted an article.) And, it won’t be long before you see NoScript mentioned. Odds are, you already have.

NoScript is a small program you download and add ‘into’ Firefox to enhance its functionality (these small programs are known variously as “add-ons”, “plug-ins”, and “extensions”– different words for the same concept.)

NoScript gets mentioned in the Tech media a lot because it is a security tool that automatically “blocks” (prevents from running) certain web page ‘elements’ (scripts) — Java, Flash, JavaScript, and XSS– from running unlesNSOptss you click the Option button and select “Allow”, or “Temporarily allow”.

Which puts you in control, and goes a long ways toward preventing “drive-by downloads“, and other malicious Internet attacks and activity from occurring should you happen to visit a Website which has been poisoned” by a hacker.
(I don’t mean to depress you, but the current state of the Internet is so insecure that this can be, literally, any Website.)

By default, NoScript is a powerful tool (to read the NoScript “About” page, click here) and for many people is the primary reason they have made the switch to Firefox.

Tip of the day: Enhance your NoScript protection by turning on the IFRAME blocker feature.
IFRAMES are another dynamic Web element that cyber-criminals are now using as an “attack vector” (aka “method”) with great success. Like the scripts mentioned above, IFrame attacks can happen invisibly and automatically. Oh, the joys of Web 2.0!
[note: today’s advice should be of interest to Mac and Linux users too.]

1) In Firefox, click on “Tools”, then “Add-ons”
Add-ons
2) Scroll ’till you find NoScript, and click the “Options” button. (If you have not yet installed NoScript, click the “Get Add-ons” icon in the upper-left.)
NoScript
3) Click on the Plugins tab. Place a check in the “Forbid <IFRAME>” checkbox.

That’s it. You’re done. Now when you visit a site that uses IFrames, you will have to approve them (aka “whitelist”) before they’ll appear.

[Note: the scripts and tools (Web 2.0 “features”) mentioned in this article are NOT in themselves bad or dangerous, and it is thanks to them that the Web is such a rich and interactive environment.. but, in the wrong hands they can — and are — being used with criminal intent.]

Related: A short video tutorial for using NoScript can be seen here.

Today’s free link: One of the more disturbing (outright alarming, if you ask me) hacker uses of IFrame attacks is the alteration of Search Engine results (Yes, you can’t truly trust Google, Yahoo!, or MSN anymore) and Internet Security blogger Bill Mullins has posted an excellent article on this subject, Fake/Redirected Search Results – Consequences for You

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved. post to jaanix

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November 7, 2008 Posted by | advice, computers, Firefox, how to, Internet, PC, security, tech | , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Block IFRAME For Added Protection

If you are interested in Tech, and visit Websites such as this one, it will not be very long before you read about Firefox. (In fact just this week I posted an article.) And, it won’t be long before you see NoScript mentioned. Odds are, you already have.

NoScript is a small program you download and add ‘into’ Firefox to enhance its functionality (these small programs are known variously as “add-ons”, “plug-ins”, and “extensions”– different words for the same concept.)

NoScript gets mentioned in the Tech media a lot because it is a security tool that automatically “blocks” (prevents from running) certain web page ‘elements’ (scripts) — Java, Flash, JavaScript, and XSS– from running unlesNSOptss you click the Option button and select “Allow”, or “Temporarily allow”.

Which puts you in control, and goes a long ways toward preventing “drive-by downloads“, and other malicious Internet attacks and activity from occurring should you happen to visit a Website which has been .
(I don’t mean to depress you, but the current state of the Internet is so insecure that this can be, literally, any Website.)

By default, NoScript is a powerful tool (to read the NoScript “About” page, ) and for many people is the primary reason they have made the switch to Firefox.
(I’ll let you in on a little secret; it is one way to measure a user’s “savvy”.. look for a Firefox icon.)

Tip of the day: Enhance your NoScript protection by turning on the IFRAME blocker feature.
IFRAMES are another dynamic Web element that cyber-criminals are now using as an “attack vector” (aka “method”) with great success. Like the scripts mentioned above, IFrame attacks can happen invisibly and automatically. Oh, the joys of Web 2.0!

1) In Firefox, click on “Tools”, then “Add-ons”
Add-ons 
2) Scroll ’till you find NoScript, and click the “Options” button. (If you have not yet installed NoScript, click the “Get Add-ons” icon in the upper-left.)
NoScript
3) Click on the Plugins tab. Place a check in the “Forbid <IFRAME>” checkbox.

That’s it. You’re done. Now when you visit a site that uses IFrames, you will have to approve them (aka “whitelist”) before they’ll appear.

[Note: the scripts and tools (Web 2.0 “features”) mentioned in this article are NOT in themselves bad or dangerous, and it is thanks to them that the Web is such a rich and interactive environment.. but, in the wrong hands they can — and are — being used with criminal intent.]

Today’s free link: One of the more disturbing (outright alarming, if you ask me) hacker uses of IFrame attacks is the alteration of Search Engine results (Yes, you can’t truly trust Google, Yahoo!, or MSN anymore) and Internet Security blogger Bill Mullins has posted an excellent article on this subject, Fake/Redirected Search Results – Consequences for You

* Firefox users: Update 3.0.3 available today.

Copyright © 2007-8 Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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September 27, 2008 Posted by | advice, anti-spyware, browsers, computers, cyber crime, Firefox, hackers, how to, Internet, PC, security, software, tech, Web 2.0 | , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Fraud Prevention Tips

Follow these tips to help protect yourself from fraud.

  • Carry only necessary information with you. Leave your social security card and unused credits cards at home in a safe and secure location.
  • Make photocopies of vital information you carry regularly and store them in a secure place, such as a safety deposit box.
  • Do not provide your Social Security number unless absolutely necessary.
  • Replace paper invoices, statements and checks with electronic versions, if offered by your employer, bank, utility provider or merchant.
  • Shred documents containing personal or financial information before discarding. Most fraud and identity theft incidents happen as a result of mail and garbage theft.
  • Review your credit report at least once a year, looking for suspicious or unknown transactions. You can get a free credit report once a year from each of the three major credit bureaus at www.annualcreditreport.com. For a small fee you can obtain a copy at any time directly from:
  • Place outgoing mail in a U.S. Postal Service mailbox to reduce the chance of mail theft.
  • Promptly retrieve incoming mail to limit the opportunity for theft.
  • Know your billing and statement cycles. Contact the company’s customer service department if you stop receiving your regular bill or statement.

Today’s free download: I found this list on the . This site is a valuable public service that contains much useful advice, such as “How Fraudsters Operate”, “How To Protect Yourself”, and “Online, Mobile, Computer and Email Security Tips”. It is a free education, so check it out.

Copyright © 2007-8 Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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September 26, 2008 Posted by | advice, cyber crime, e-mail, how to, Internet scam, phraud, privacy, security | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Modern Nightmare

It’s like we woke up inside a horror movie– we are under attack by zombies.

Night of the Living Dead

Yes. It’s true. Real life is imitating art (if you’re willing to call Night of the Living Dead “art”). We really are under attack by zombies– only our zombies aren’t trying to eat our flesh, they are trying to sell us bootleg f@rmacuticals and cheap Vl@gra, fake Rolex watches, and steal our identities. [note in the photo how the zombie is reaching for the wallet?]

In real life, our zombies can’t claw at us directly and they don’t have teeth. Our zombies are computers. Our computers. And they attack via e-mail and the Internet. Like the zombies in Night, they spread the zombie disease by infection. Differently, our zombies aren’t mindless; they’re controlled by villains (aka “cyber-criminals”).

Yes. Your computer may be a zombie.

If it isn’t a zombie (yet), it is constantly under the attack of infection via the Internet. An unprotected computer, connected to the Internet, will be infected within 8 minutes.
90 to 95% of all Internet traffic traveling the wires (using “bandwidth”) is zombie-generated junk e-mail that’s either a fraud attempt or (and?) loaded with malware– the “attack”.

How did this happen? Well, part of it is the Tech Industry’s fault (see, How the Tech Industry is Failing You), either unintentionally, or through lack of foresight, or through willful negligence and the rush to market. Security either wasn’t considered, or it was too expensive.
Nobody predicted the nerdy hackers evolving into organized, well-financed, criminal gangs of today.
And they put too-powerful, fully capable machines into the hands of the unwashed masses– us. The rest of it is our fault.

* We let our antivirus expire and everyday close the warning.
* We think we’ve just won the British Lottery.
* We still run Windows 98 because we’re “comfortable with it”.
* We cannot resist ‘free’ pornography.
* We cannot be bothered with those REALLY ANNOYING little windows that pop open at the worst times and tell us that a “newer version is available.”
* When someone tries to tell us about our machines, they start using big words in a funny language and we ‘tune out’.
* We believe that everything computer-related should be free, so we download cracked (aka “pirated”) software, bootleg music and video, and we don’t care who or where it comes from.

I could go on and on and on.

Yes.. we are our own worst enemies. But, you don’t have to be a part of the problem. And you don’t have to learn a big word-filled foreign language (aka “Geek speak”) to avoid the zombie attack.
Today’s free link: I have put together a list of proactive steps every computer user should know.. a checklist. In it you will find links to free, safe, and effective methods for protecting your computer, and keeping it safe. Please look over, Top 10 Things You Should Do To Your Computer. And then do us all a favor, pass the list on to your friends who have computers.

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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August 18, 2008 Posted by | advice, anti-spyware, antivirus, computers, cyber crime, e-mail, how to, Internet, Internet scam, PC, Phishing, phraud, security, tech, Web 2.0 | , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments