Tech – for Everyone

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

Quick Reco’s..

A few items worthy of your consideration.

* Proposed amendments to ECPA would make Orwell squirm

George Orwell wrote his famous book about Big Brother in 1948. What would he think about the Electronic Communications Privacy Act? Changes to the act are being voted on this week in the U.S. Senate.Read more..

Computers (and “high tech”) are fundamentally changing.

* Windows 8: It’s only one part of Microsoft’s brave new world

Just how do you completely rebuild a company? Windows 8 is important but it’s just one step towards the future for Microsoft.” Read more..

* A new checkbox (aka “option”, aka “setting”) Skype users may want to un-check..

They snuck that in during an “update”…

* Do you have more than one “device” on your network? Free, from Sophos: Network Security Scan

Scan for threats on your network — up to 200 machines

  • Finds viruses and other threats your antivirus missed
  • Works alongside your existing antivirus
  • Includes free security updates for 30 days

See all the threats on your network

Want to see what your current software might have missed? Try our free scan on up to 200 computers.

It’ll find malware, suspicious devices and apps

You’ll be able to see threats in all their forms. It could be removable media, games or other peer-to-peer software that are your biggest risks. Read more/download..

* Photographers, I recently came across two websites anyone thinking about buying a digital camera should (IMHO) take a look at:

* Cyber Monday: Can The Internet Be Taken Down By Massive DDoS Attacks?

 “A security expert from Arbor Networks says bandwidth and performance increases combined with increased sizes of botnets have got service providers worried that large scale DDoS attacks could cause massive Internet interruptions.Read more..

(… I won’t tell you about the planned hacker “blitzkrieg” attack on US banks… But you can ‘google it’..)

Today’s quote:Today, you always know whether you are on the Internet or on your PC’s hard drive. Tomorrow, you will not care and may not even know.” ~ Bill Gates

(Sorry, Bill, but I will care [and I will know] ‘cuz I’m not a sheeple.)

Copyright 2007-2012 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


>> Folks, don’t miss an article! To get Tech – for Everyone articles delivered to your e-mail Inbox, click here, or to subscribe in your RSS reader, click here. <<


All we really have, in the end, are our stories.
Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.

November 27, 2012 Posted by | advice, cloud computing, computers, consumer electronics, Internet, News, privacy, security, tech | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An Infection Has Been Detected!

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

Currently there is an epidemic of fake anti-malware software on the Internet– which is collectively called “rogue anti-malware“ and/or “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. [update: some of the newer ones are now encrypting your files, and requiring a ‘ransom’ for the key. Don’t pay. There is help online.]

This video shows what happens when a legitimate Website gets infected and redirected to one of these bogus anti-malware scams.
Yes, folks, legitimate websites are being ‘hacked’. (It’s called “poisoned”.)

Please watch, and see what these things looks like (how “real looking”). I repeat, there are thousands of these, being planted on tens-of-thousands of sites.

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!

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?
* 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. But I really cannot advise you strongly enough – should you get one of these nasties – to enlist the aid of a Pro. I would tell you that even if I wasn’t one myself!

¹ From a recent 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 link(s): Spammers seeking “volunteers” to DDoS White House.
Cybercriminals have begun to capitalize on the vehement debate in the country over health care reform, sending spam targeted at opponents of President Obama.”

Also, it just so happens that Bill Mullins posted a close look at one these, named “Total Security 2009” on his site today. Please see, Total Security 2009 Scareware – Panda Security Takes a Look.

Today’s free download: WOT (Web Of Trust) is a free Internet security add-on for your browser. It’s community-based ratings can 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.

  • Ratings for over 22 million websites
  • Downloaded over 4 million times
  • The WOT browser addon is light and updates automatically
  • WOT rating icons appear beside search results in Google, Yahoo!, Wikipedia, Gmail, etc.
  • Settings can be customized to better protect your family (new “Parental Control” setting blocks access to Web sites with a poor child safety rating and no rating at all)
  • WOT Security Scorecard shows rating details and user comments

Orig post: 4/16/09

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

Share this post :

August 22, 2009 Posted by | computers | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Malware Removal Techniques

What do you do when your PC is displaying all the signs of having been infected and/or hacked but your antivirus and anti-spyware scan reports come back clean?

This was the case for a fella who called me for advice recently. He had done things ‘right’ — and by that I mean he has a firewall, he keeps his antivirus definitions up to date, sick and he runs a couple of anti-spyware applications — but suspected his machine had been hacked anyway.

He couldn’t do things he was used to doing (like deleting a file) and his machine was “really slow.”
But according to his scanners, his machine is in perfect shape.

Tip of the day: If you should find yourself in a similar situation there are several steps you can take to help resolve your questions and (hopefully) fix your machine without taking the drastic step of wiping your hard drive, formatting, and reinstalling Windows.

The first step is to use a scanner that isn’t installed on your machine. Here’s two ways to do that: one, if your antivirus allows it (and most of them do these days), follow its instructions and make an antivirus recovery disk. This is a bootable disk that scans your system before Windows loads.

To use one, put it in your CD tray and restart your machine. A plain-text sentence will appear telling you to “press any key to boot from CD…” When you see it, hit your spacebar or, well, any other key, and then follow the instructions. When it’s finished, remove the CD and restart your machine again.
[note: you may also use a properly prepared USB thumb drive. Click here to read my article on how to do that.]

A second method is to use an online scanner. I have a list, with links, of several good online scans on my website, here. Quite a few of the online scanning tools will try to sell you their full application, but you’re under no obligation to buy. The big advantage to these two methods lies in the fact that they have not been compromised, or altered, and the files and scanners on your machine may be– the modification being done by the virus or hacker.

Another thing to do is scroll down to my “Today’s free link” and download HiJack This! Run it and dump the result into a .txt file (there’s instructions for this) and then register on one of the HiJack This! forums (there’s instructions for this too) and post your results there. Before too long, an expert anti-malwareologist [don’t bother looking: I just now made that word up] will have looked over the intricacies, and will post his analysis and instructions. These guys (and gals) are really, really good at what they do, and you can trust their answers.

Also run CheckDisk with the “r” “f” switches (this probably will require a reboot) to make sure the problem is not your hard drive.
Click on Start >Programs >Accessories >Command prompt. In the white-on-black window type “chkdsk /r /f” (no quotes, and be sure to include the spaces). You may be told that certain files are in use, and asked if you want to “schedule this at the next reboot Y/N?” Type in a “y” and restart your machine.

Hopefully these efforts will be rewarded with a rejuvination of your machine, and you will be back in business again.  If not, you have my sympathy. You may have a rootkit and then your best solution is to re-format your hard drive and reinstall everything, or enlist the aid of a professional

Today’s free link:  is a free utility which quickly scans your Windows computer to find settings that may have been changed by spyware, malware or other unwanted programs. HijackThis does not clean infections, but creates a report, or log file, with the results of the scan. A large community of users participates in online forums, where experts help interpret the scan results to clean up infected computers.

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

Share this post :

September 2, 2008 Posted by | advice, anti-spyware, antivirus, computers, how to, PC, performance, rootkits, security, software, tech, troubleshooting | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Positive meaning to word “geek”+spyware

I want to apologize to you in advance for a word I will use in this blog from time to time, and that word is “geek.”

When I was a boy–many years ago now–“geek” was a completely pejorative and insulting word. A “geek” was typically a socially inept, small, quiet, know-it-all (who usually wore glasses) kid who couldn’t connect his bat with the softest-thrown baseball or catch a football to save his life…and he used big words all the time. Perhaps in your day you referred to ‘him’ as a Pointdexter, nerd, dork, or wimp. Back then there was no doubt or question about it–“geek” was a put-down: a derogatory statement. Period.

Today, I proudly declare: I am a geek. When I do, I am not broadcasting my pride in my inability to catch a football. (I can catch; and, even throw a tight spiral.) I am saying that I’m “into” computers and electronic gadgets, and I know a little about how they work.

At some point and time our common usage of the word “geek” has changed. It is no longer used strictly as a ‘slam’ and a put-down (however, if that is your intent, I believe the other words I listed above are still 100% negative…although Bill Gates may have softened the word “nerd” some…). If, in the course of reading this blog, you see me use the word “geek”–please rest assured that I am always using it with the nicest of meanings. I even use “geek” as a compliment. Really.

Tip of the day: lotu mentioned in a comment to yesterday’s post on defragmention that spyware, if it gets onto and runs on your machine, will cause it to (amongst other unpleasant things!) suffer performance degredation and make it run slower. I intend to spend a fair amount of time discussing malware, and spyware in particular, and how you can combat and remove it. I will return to this topic in the future. But for today I just want to make this point: If you connect to the Web, you need to run anti-spyware programs. Notice I that I wrote programs. Plural.

That fact is, no one anti-spyware application is 100% effective at stopping and removing spyware. There are many anti-spyware programs available and some are more effective than others. Some are great at stopping keyloggers but fall down when it comes to Trojan Horses, and others are visa-versa…as an example. So I strongly recommend running two anti-spywares, in the hopes that one will catch what the other missed. (There are many free anti-spyware applications [and some are adware disquised as anti-spyware] available. For my more detailed descriptions and fuller listing, click here.) I cannot stress to you strongly enough to install and run some kind of anti-spyware program…and preferably, two. In that vein, today I will provide not one, but two, Today’s free links.

Today’s free link #1: AdAware SE Personal from Lavasoft. “Ad-Aware 2007 Free remains the most popular anti-spyware product for computer users around the world, with nearly one million downloads every week. Our free anti-spyware version provides you with advanced protection against spyware…”

Today’s free link #2: SpyCatcher Express from Tenebril. “Allows novice PC users to remove aggressive spyware . Stops next-generation, mutating spyware. Blocks reinstallation of aggressive spyware. Removes spyware safely and automatically.”

Copyright © 2007 Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

Share this post :

June 13, 2007 Posted by | advice, anti-spyware, antivirus, computers, how to, PC, rootkits, security, tech, Vista, Windows, XP | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment