Tech – for Everyone

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

The Trojan Horse was a tale from the Trojan War…

The Trojan Horse was a tale from the Trojan War. It was the stratagem that allowed the Greeks finally to enter the city of Troy. But the term “Trojan Horse” has come to mean any trick that causes a target to invite a foe into a securely protected bastion or place, and is now often associated with “malware” computer programs presented as useful or harmless in order to induce the user¹ to install and run them.

¹ “the user” = you

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The best part about the Trojan method (from the cybercriminal’s perspective) is that the user¹ willingly clicks the “Install” (or “Run”) which bypasses any protections they may have — firewall, antivirus, “security suite”.
(That’s a very important concept to grasp: antivirus does not protect you from yourself, it helps protect you from the Internet.)

So where do you run into software downloads that contain Trojans?
A: Sadly, in the current state of our un-policed Internet, just about anywhere.. but some places to download are safer than others (and some even strive to be 100% safe).
* If you use a peer-to-peer (“torrents”) file-sharing approach to getting free programs, movies, and music – such as LimeWire or BitTorrent – it is not a question of “if”, it is a question of “when”. (Please don’t write and tell me how you’ve stolen property with file sharing for years and never been infected..)

* Reputable download sites (aka “trustworthy”): there are several, but when I need to download something, I generally go to download.com, majorgeeks, or filehippo.

Also – I never click “Run” on a download, but click “Save”, and save the file to my desktop. Then I scan it with my antivirus. And then I double-click it to launch the setup/install.

Copyright 2007-2010 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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January 27, 2010 Posted by | advice, computers, cyber crime, hackers | , , , , | 4 Comments

Webmail Link Protection | Survey Results

One of the greatest dangers on the Internet today is links sent in e-mail — called “embedded links”. A click on a link sent by a cyber-criminal can infect your machine, direct you to a bogus website which infects your machine and/or asks you to enter your private information (ID Theft) in a scheme known as “phishing”.
It is reported that cyber-criminals duped 9 million Americans last year (we’re so trusting and.. naive.).

I have advised my readers, never click the link. But .. people still do. So, I advise enabling a phishing filter. Currently, it is my humble opinion that the free tool from Web Of Trust (WOT) is the simplest to understand and easiest to use.

Today, the good folks at WOT alerted me that they are now integrated with Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, and Hotmail– better protection for us. Here’s a short video showing how it works.

And if video is not your thing, Fellow blogger Bill Mullins has an excellent write up on the new WOT, here.

Change of subject dept: (aka Survey Results!)
Earlier this week I posted a six question survey. I regret to confess that there were “trick” questions in there where more than one answer was ‘right’… and nobody (I don’t think) picked it up.

For just one example, I asked “What does 11101 equate to?” and the answers 29, eleven thousand one hundred and one, and Zip code were ‘correct’. (Albany, NY.) Yes. All three answers.
This being a “tech” site, I’m glad to report that 29 was by far and away the most popular answer. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binary_numeral_system)

I also asked two questions about Microsoft Word, and I must say the answers I got fit pretty well with my preconceived notions and inherent prejudices.
Only one person though Office 2007 brought “much needed improvements”; the majority said Word was required for work/school (and they would stick w/Word 2003); and that in today’s day and age, Word is largely irrelevant.. I think it is the younger set that is picking up on this fact, and the older you are, the more likely you were to reply “must have”. I could be wrong, of course. But I think it is the way we were ‘trained’. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloatware)

I won’t go through the reader responses line for line, but I will say that the general tone showed much more tech-savvy than it would have ten years ago. And it was clear that (my readers, anyway) people are spending a lot of time online.. and making an effort to stay “hip” (to use some California lingo).

That makes sense. Broadband and mobile devices have made the Internet pretty much available to everyone, everywhere, any time. And so I would like to remind you that the Internet is a dangerous place, and not some well-policed Disneyland.

Be alert. Be wary. Be protected. And get WOT.

(Hey, pretty good how I tied that together, eh?)

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

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November 21, 2008 Posted by | advice, browsers, computers, cyber crime, e-mail, hackers, how to, Internet, Internet scam, News, PC, Phishing, phraud, Portable Computing, privacy, security, software, spam and junk mail, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Our Modern Nightmare – Zombie Attack

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 Ph@rmacuticals and cheap V1@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, and odds are you wouldn’t know.

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 (12 seconds in a recent test).
90 to 95% of all Internet traffic traveling the wires 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 the organized, well-financed, Mafia-style 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, every day, 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 (and on, believe me!).

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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November 11, 2008 Posted by | advice, antivirus, computers, cyber crime, e-mail, hackers, Internet, Internet scam, Phishing, security, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments