Tech – for Everyone

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

Excellent Internet Safety How To Tips

The folks at Emisoft have posted an very nice, very informative article – with a Halloween theme, to make it fun – which provides security knowledge I think every web surfer should know. Please read this, and forward it on to your friends and families.. especially the naive, clueless, and careless ones (you know who they are). Pay special heed to Fact#3.

Internet Zombie Defense Training, or: How Not to Become a Bot

Going on the Internet can be like walking through a post-apocalyptic city, where half the people you pass want to eat your brain.

In the post-apocalyptic city, these “people” are called zombies.

On the Internet, these zombies are infected computers, and we call them bots.

Bots and botnets are one of the most fundamental (and frightening) concepts of modern day malware. They are, very literally, networks of infection that allow their masters to hijack thousands of victims’ computing resources, to carry out any number of nefarious deeds or attacks over the Internet, for financial gain.

Don’t want to get bit? Then read below (and aim for the skull).

Fact 1: A group of zombies is much scarier than just one

Imagine going one-on-one with some undead ghoul. Do you hit it in the head, or just run away? Either way, you’re probably going to live to see another day. That’s how it works in the movies, at least. Individual zombies are pretty weak, but, in hordes, they are terrifying.

Strength in numbers applies to botnets as well. With botnet malware, the aim is to infect as many devices as possible. Once infected, devices become linked to a “Command and Control” server, which can issue remote commands.

Fact 2: Zombies like brains

Botnet masters connect their victims to Command and Control servers because botnet masters like brains. The more brain, i.e. computing, power a botnet master has at their disposal, the better. This is because botnets are used to carry out coordinated attacks, which combine the computing resources of thousands of machines. Such attacks have one primary motive: to make money for the botnet master, or for a paying customer who has requested the botnet master’s criminal services.

Fact 3: Zombies are evil

Like zombies, malicious botnets are pure evil. They exist solely to make money by wreaking havoc and destruction on everyone else.

Spambots hijack infected computers’ ability to email, as well as stored contact lists, to send out massive amounts of spam. Spam can be anything from annoying advertisements for sex products and diet pills, to malicious links and attachments that act as the “bite of the bot.” The increasing popularity of social media websites has now also attracted computing’s undead to places like Facebook and Twitter, where compromised profiles can be abused to spread comment spam.

Clickfraud botnets tell infected computers to go to a website and click on ads owned by the botnet master – or a client of the botnet master – making money for criminals AND slowing down your device by consuming RAM.

DDOS attacks tell thousands of infected bots to visit the same website at the exact same time, overloading the targeted site to the point of collapse. These “zombie swarms” are carried out to blackmail successful websites or to (illegally) take down the competition.

Bitcoin mining botnets such as Linkup can turn your PC into a mindless slave that dedicates its resources to creating various forms of cryptocurrency and making someone else rich.

Illegal material download or propagation can be carried out by bot computers without their owner’s knowledge or consent. In this scenario, the infected bot acts as a proxy, so that criminals can be criminals without having to leave evidence on their own device. Instead, the illegal activity – and potentially the blame – is shifted to you.

The ability to steal your financial information or identity usually comes included. “Command and control” means command and control, and, in addition to being used as a weapon, a bot computer can be told to share its stored information or its user’s activity with the botnet master, in numerous ways.

Fact 4: Zombies don’t know that they’re zombies

And if you’re implicated in a botnet, you probably won’t know that your computer has become a bot. Your device will very literally be hijacked and told to perform malicious actions without your consent, behind the scenes.

Fact 5: Zombies like to limp around and drool

Nevertheless, one of the best ways to spot a zombie is its characteristic limp. If your computer becomes a bot, the situation will be much the same. An infected computer is most often a slow computer, as botnet masters’ primary objective is to steal the infecteds’ computing power. Accordingly, if your computer is acting slower than usual, you may be surfing with the undead. To find out, a simple CRTL + ALT + DELETE and a perusal of the Task Manager can be revealing, however bot detection is not always so simple. Most modern botnet masters make explicit efforts to counteract user detection. It is also important to note that even uninfected PCs carry out a number of important background tasks without explicit user consent, and that disabling these tasks in a fit of botnet paranoia can be just as disabling as actual infection!

Fact 6: Zombies lurk in the shadows

In most zombie-ridden after-worlds, you can spot members of the undead rotting and groaning from a mile away. This is not the case with botnets. Unlike zombies, botnets rely on deception, and they are typically propagated as Trojans or through social engineering. Botnet malware may deliver its payload through a malicious attachment disguised as something it’s not, or via a link to a fake website that surreptitiously initiates a “drive-by” download. Botnet masters may also disguise their creations as what appear to be useful apps – even security apps! – to get users to download and become part of their scheme.

Fact 7: Once you get bitten by a zombie, you are not the same

In many a zombie-flick, it often happens that one of the main characters gets bitten and infected. At this point, there is usually some (very brief) debate over whether or not the once-trusted comrade should be nixed. Typically, a cool headed hero will rise to action and do what needs to be done, much to the hysteria of his or her less rational team mates. “It needed to be done,” the hero will then explain. “He just wasn’t the same.”

With botnets, the situation is quite similar. You may know (and love) your PC or your mobile device with every beat of your digital heart, but once it becomes a bot it is no longer the same. The infected device will have a mind of its own, and it will no longer be that “trusted friend.” Any information you share with it will become accessible to the botnet master, and all that extra computing power you invested in will be consumed, as your device becomes a slave.

If you suspect your computer has become a bot- don’t wait. Contact our experts immediately, before the infection spreads. Zombie assassination is always free to anyone who requests it. Why? Because we like doing it.

Fact 8: Zombies have one big weakness

You’ve got to smash their brains.

With botnets, this doesn’t mean taking a hammer, a bat, a shotgun, or your post-apocalyptic weapon of choice to an infected device – but, it does mean getting inside the head of a botmaster. One need not understand the technical specifics of botnets proper to achieve a solid defense – just like no one really knows how zombies work, technically. For the average user, just knowing that botnets exist is almost enough on its own to avoid infection. From there, it is simply a matter of identifying the most common infection mediums…and not walking around the graveyard after dark.

Always use your brain – Whether it’s a website, an “urgent email,” or a personal messages sent through social media, always think before you click – otherwise your machine may be turned into a thoughtless, clicking machine! If you plan to download pirated software or media, you should also know that you will regularly be brushing shoulders with the undead.

Always take care of your weapons – Just like in the movies, it’s you against the somnambulant horde. The leaner, the faster, and the more efficient your weapons (i.e., software and applications) can be, the lower the odds you’ll get turned into a walker. Botnet masters specifically design their creations to exploit known weaknesses in popular software, so as to infect as many devices at once as possible. Avoiding infection is often as simple as enabling auto-updates on all of your main applications, and flat out discarding those programs you do not use so that you don’t have to worry about vulnerabilities. As an added benefit, this practice will increase the overall performance of your machine.

Always travel in a group – Fact #1 applies to the good guys too. Zombie slayers and botnet bruisers are strongest in groups. If you notice a strange background task operating on your PC, you should Google it and see what other people have to say. For specific files, you can also use Emsisoft’s

Today’s quote: I actually think that the most efficacious way of making a difference is to lead by example, and doing random acts of kindness is setting a very good example of how to behave in the world.” ~ Misha Collins

Copyright 2007-2014 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

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All we really have, in the end, are our stories.
Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.
And please, never forget – one person can make a difference.
Find a way to make someone’s day today.
(Best advice I ever heard? Don’t sweat the small stuff.)

October 29, 2014 Posted by | advice, how to, Internet, security | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Sunday Beauty #135

Here’s another interesting image for your Sunday.

image: boy on swing

Click on image to see more by this artist (reco’d)

“Boy on Cable-Car; Junge auf Seilbahn” by Thragor, courtesy of Flickr Commons

* Here’s an idea for you: why don’t you do something like this today, if you’re able? So what if you “look a little foolish”.

* I was speaking with someone this morning who was really, really excited that October is here tomorrow. Because they are big, big, wwaaaaay “into” Halloween. I mean.. a Real Fan.  Loves everything about it. Me? Not so much. (I lived for a while in SF, where every day is Halloween. Seeing a costume is nbd.) So.. a quick-e-poll, if you don’t mind.

In the spirit of today’s image.. how ’bout some more fun? It has been long-debated whether Stairway to Heaven or Freebird is the greatest Rock’n Roll song of all time. But my vote has always gone to another Led Zepplin song (and Robert Plant’s fave) Kashmir. Here is a “cover” performed this summer by some rather famous artists in their own right..

( I should say.. some days my vote goes to Stranglehold. And some days it’s anything by AC/DC.. )

A little tech: 19 Tips You’ll Need to Master iOS 7 (slideshow)

From privacy settings to getting notifications, here’s what you need to know about Apple’s newest operating system.Read more…

*    *    *

Today’s quote:If the world seems cold to you, kindle fires to warm it.” ~ Lucy Larcom

Copyright 2007-2013 © “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.

September 29, 2013 Posted by | Apple, Digital Images, iPhone | , , | Leave a comment

Tips for cleaning your smartphone and other mobile devices

Folks, here are some useful and/or interesting “infos” I think you will want to know about.

* Cleaning supplies for your smartphones, tablets, and accessories

Matthew Nawrocki shares some tips for cleaning oils, dirt, and grime from your smartphone and other handheld mobile devices. Read more..

* (This is another one where the reader comments are interesting too) Will 90 percent of users always hate Windows 8?

Windows 8 doesn’t exactly seem to be setting the world alight. Perhaps the requirement that indifferent users have to sit down and learn their way around something new is causing problems…” Read more..

* IT job cuts: Is the end finally in sight?

A poll of IT chiefs’ views on hiring and budgets picks out a whiff of change in the jobs climate.” Read more..

* Sort of related: Words that mean nothing in a resume

Some of the most often used terms in resumes are also the most meaningless. Learn how to avoid that pitfall.” Read more..

* Two free, full-blown alternatives to MS Office

As Microsoft’s Office has grown in size and complexity, more than a few users have wondered whether there’s a viable alternative — especially when it comes time to pay for an upgrade or new copy.” Read more..

* Yippee yahoo: Spy agencies to be granted access to US citizen finances

Should intelligence agencies in the United States have unrestricted access to the banking details of U.S. citizens? The federal government believes so.Read more..

That shouldn’t bother me.. right?

* Software giveaway (reader submitted): today only..Nature Illusion Studio Standard Edition (PC) 100% Discount Coupon Code *** Great News! Nufsoft has agreed to extend this deal for another day – Enjoy! ***

“Nature Illusion Studio Standard Edition transforms your nature photos into living works of art with weather effects that are sure to astound! Using Nature Illusion Studio Standard Edition, you can add realistic snow, water, rain, and more, then throw in some butterflies, birds, and other objects to increase the level of nature in your nature photography. You don’t need to be a professional graphic designer, either, since Nature Illusion Studio Standard Edition offers an intuitive interface that lets anyone transform their photos.

It’s not just rain or snow, either. Within each category, you have complete control over such details as the intensity, wind direction, speed, transparency, and size. And once you think you’re done improving your photos with weather effects, you can take it to the next level! Nature Illusion Studio Standard Edition lets you add sound effects to all of your photos, immersing your audience in a total sensory nature experience. When you’re done, you can save your living photos as self-executing files, videos, or screensavers!

Thank you for the heads up, Dear Reader.

Today’s quotable quote:I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.” ~ Audrey Hepburn

Silly Poll #3 (cont..) Does “clumping” cat litter save money in the long run?

Copyright 2007-2013 © “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.

March 14, 2013 Posted by | advice, computers, consumer electronics, free software, gadgets, how to, iPhone, mobile, software, tech | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Word About Word #2 (Some Useful Tricks)

Folks, I have been using Microsoft’s document maker (aka “text editor”, or “word processor”) –  Word – basically since it first came out, back in the Paleozoic Age of computing (circa 1984, or so) so I was pleasantly surprised when I reviewed a Word Tips article where I actually learned something new.

MS Word document iconHere it is (you might not know all these either..) Five tips that will increase your Word productivity

Most of us don’t have time to discover all the ins and outs of the software we use on a daily basis. We learn on the fly, we occasionally pick up a tip or shortcut, and we grudgingly plow through the Help system when we absolutely have to.” Read more..

Also, down at the bottom, there’s: Additional resources

And, yes. People still use Office (Word/Excel/Access/PowerPoint/Outlook) and yes, they “own the disc”. (Frankly, I think you always want to have the disc..)

Audience participation: Is anyone out there actually using Toucan for backup/sync? Or.. tried to? I’d appreciate some ‘feedback’, if you’d be so kind.

Today’s quote:A man’s health can be judged by which he takes two at a time – pills or stairs.” ~ Joan Welsh

Copyright 2007-2013 © “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.

January 26, 2013 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Microsoft, MS Office, MS Word, PC, software, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

How to use your Wi-Fi securely

How to use your Wifi securely and efficiently
at home and on the go

Nowadays, Wifi is easy, quick and comfortable to use. Wireless networks are all around us – but many do not treat them with necessary care! Hackers and non-professional criminals then have hardly any obstacles when spying on your data. Quicker than you might expect, they get their hands on sensitive data such as login details for online shops or even online banking.

Did you know, for instance that while using many networks and visiting countless websites it is possible to log all the data you send? Not only is there, however, danger in third-party wifi networks, but your own wireless network also requires good protection. Insufficient encryption can quickly lead to, for example, others misusing your connection to spy on your data and undertaking other illegal activities.

Do not worry, you do not have to do without Wifi, though. You should, however, keep some basic rules in mind that you will find in the most recent article in the Emsisoft knowledgebase.

Dangers in the network How to use your Wifi securely and efficiently at home and on the go

This article will provide you with the know how for:

  • Secure your home network against unwanted intruders
  • How to use Wifi securely on the go
  • Why are not all websites available via HTTPS?
  • How to recognize correctly secured websites
  • Further security measures when using Wifi

Today’s quote:The only thing that ever consoles man for the stupid things he does is the praise he always gives himself for doing them.” ~ Oscar Wilde

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.

September 6, 2012 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Internet, mobile | , , , | 1 Comment

4 Quick Tips — How to Protect Yourself Online

How to Protect Yourself Online

Internet users can protect themselves from cybercrime with the following quick tips:

• Only download mobile apps from official app stores, such as iTunes and the Android Market, and read user reviews before downloading them.

• Be extra vigilant when reviewing and responding to emails. (I call this “use paranoid common sense”.)

• Watch out for too-good-to-be-true offers on social networks, like free airline tickets. Never agree to reveal your personal information just to participate in a promotion. (Or get a free magazine subscription..)

• Don’t accept requests on social networks from people you don’t know in real life. Wait to post pictures and comments about your vacation until you’ve already returned home.

I am not sure I agree with the order McAfee chose to put these in.. but I assure you this is good information here.

Today’s quote:The best helping hand that you will ever receive is the one at the end of your own arm.” ~ Fred Dehner

Today’s chuckle:

And if you believe that, I have a really wonderful – limited time – please don’t tell anyone else – price on the Washington bridge. Just click here to find out more!

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.

August 27, 2012 Posted by | advice, Internet, security | , , , , | 3 Comments

Hey! Some Good News

Here’s some items of interest for your thoughtful consideration:

* Password Protection Act of 2012 filed

“A new bill is filed to prevent employers from asking employees and job candidates for their passwords to social networking sites.” Read more..

I was beginning to think there wasn’t one good thing I could say about our “leadership” in Washington.. yet, here we finally have something almost good. Though, the fact that we even need to enact something like this is pretty sad .. and scary.

Next up: oops.

* Facebook under fire, under water: Investor lawsuits, investigations slam FB

“Facebook (Nasdaq: FB) stock closed at $32 today, but that’s the least of its problems. It’s now besieged with lawsuits and investigations around allegations that it did not disclose negative information about future earnings to investors before it went public on May 18.” Read more..

Oh, well. What’s a little lawsuit or two between Friends?

Related? A bad week for launches

“You’d be wrong to expect that internet giants Yahoo and Spotify would be able to launch new services without incident. Read more..

(Also: Yahoo launches Axis ‘browser’ and fumbles it disastrously {good read: I highly reco}

Yahoo, in a bid to outstep the controversy left by former chief executive Scott Thompson, launches a brand new browser. But in doing so, it fouls it up horribly and causes another stir.Read more..

( “Axis”? Seriously? And .. these are the professionals. ) ( Hmm.. “Outstep”? )


Actually useful?

* What is the best font to use in a resume?

“Could the font you use in your resume really be that important? You bet it can. Read more..

Not such good news…

* Comcast phishing site contains valid TRUSTe seal

“Security researchers from Sophos are reporting on an intercepted Comcast-themed phishing email, which contains a valid TRUSTe seal. Read more

Did you know? Everything you type online, picture you send, webpage you look at — everything you do and say online is recorded by somebody somewhere. And you cannot erase it. Ever. Maybe.. think twice before you click?

Also: The curse of free cloud services: a cautionary tale

“Cloud services have their failings, and I’m not talking about the usual crashes and cyberattacks. No, sometimes the service just goes away.” Read more..

Your reward for reading this far:

Today’s quotable quote:Yahoo could probably trip over a chain in the street and unwittingly pull the plug on the Great Lakes — it’s that unlucky.” ~ seen on Between the Lines

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.

May 24, 2012 Posted by | computers | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments