Monday, July 25, 2016

AVG and McAfee - Not Safe


Again, please give up on so-called "security" products from AVG and McAfee.

As reported here they are not safe!

Should you not know what to replace them with then give me a call at four.one.four-seven.one.nine-two.nine.seven.seven. I look forward to hearing from you.

Stay safe!


Saturday, July 23, 2016

What browser?


I got an email from a customer and believe my reply might be of interest to many people. The customer quoted an article from another blog(?) that recommended to search directly out of the URL field. Here is my reply verbatim as I sent it:
The crux with all these "easy" tips is that they all play right into the industry's game.

The more searches any given search engine gets to perform the more money they can ask for their aggregated info on what we search for. The search engine companies may not directly advertise to us but the companies that buy this aggregated search information can then advertise better and more directly to us.
  • It's a fact that Bing and Yahoo (they use Bing) do NOT show us what in the search results are paid advertisements.
  • It's a fact that way too many advertisements get abused to get malicious programs on our computers.
  • It's a fact that some web browsers (like IE and Edge, both from Microsoft!) make it very difficult or don't allow us at all to suppress advertisements.
  • It's a fact that Google does not allow us to suppress certain advertisements in Google's own Chrome browser.
All the before said and more is behind my STRONG recommendation to use only Firefox as I set it up for my customers.

And I urge my customers to search ONLY out of the little browser specific Search window:
because when you search from there you get a Google search result
MINUS any advertisement(s),
PLUS the red, yellow and green Web of Trust ratings right by every search result
AND your search with Google has happened anonymously!

If that is not reason enough for any of my customers it's their decision and their money if I have to clean up their machine again.
 Stay safe!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Norton "Security" Software - REALLY INSECURE


It is a shame that "the media" ignore these facts and thus allow millions of computer users to live with unsafe computers.

A few quotes from The Register's recent article
  • Scores (or thousands, or millions) of enterprise and home Symantec users are open to remote compromise through multiple now-patched (where possible) wormable remote code execution holes described by Google as 'as bad as it gets'.
  • They [the security flaws] don’t require any user interaction, they affect the default configuration...
  • Victims would not even need to open the malicious files to be compromised.
  • Some of those [affected] platforms cannot be upgraded. 
Towards the end of the article The Register seems to quote six actions users should take to secure their systems. Four of those six are impossible to even think of for normal home users; they require corporate installations and corporate management structures that just are non-existent in home installations.

The other two require a level of know-how and technical expertise that is equally non-existent in the average home user environment.

The only consequent reaction for home user is what I preach to my customers for years:
Ditch any and all Norton products.
If you have allowed that Norton automatically charges your credit card you have to revoke that permission. You can get their phone number(s) through this web page.

Normally uninstalling them from Programs and Features in the Control Panel is not enough. I recommend to additionally run the Norton Removal Tool downloaded from this page; click on either of the links "Download@MajorGeeks".

Stay safe.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Using a Computer with a Visual Impairment


My recent personal experience with AMD and a close relative being cured from almost blindness due to massive cataracts have left me with greater awareness of the problems around vision loss.

And surprisingly just very recently a blind customer of mine sent me an email regarding using computers with a vision impairment; thank you Li Su. I believe this information may be very important so I will quote the relevant text of the email here.

Disclaimer: I can in no way guarantee the accuracy and/or the contents of the following information; I rely on the qualification of it's source.

Stay safe.

-----

Using a Computer with a Visual Impairment: A Beginner's Guide to Computer Accessibility
Computer Access for People Who Are Blind or Have Low Vision
Findings from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) Preliminary Report established that an estimated 20.6 million adult Americans (or nearly 10% of all adult Americans) reported they either "have trouble" seeing, even when wearing glasses or contact lenses, or that they are blind or unable to see at all.
Of course if you (or a loved one) have recently experienced profound vision loss, these numbers are little more than mere statistics. We mention them here for one reason: to assure you that you are not alone. Vast resources—human, technical, medical, and rehabilitative—stand ready to assist you in regaining your independence, resuming your career or starting a new one, and, most importantly, increasing your enjoyment of life, friends, and family.
In this section we will focus on the technical resources that are available to those with visual impairments. We’ll begin by describing one of the most profound technological achievements to have benefited sight-impaired individuals: the accessible personal computer.
This guide is organized into two main sections. The first section is for those with new visual impairments who are brand new to computers. There, we talk about all of the ways in which computers are helpful and useful, along with what to consider when purchasing a computer.
The second section is for those with recent visual impairment who already own, and have some experience using, a personal computer . There we discuss the main components of accessibility and lay the groundwork for a productive and happy computing experience.
Related Links
·Helpful Products and Technology for Living with Vision Loss

-----

Sunday, May 22, 2016

"Force Feeding" Windows 10


"Force Feeding" are the only words adequate to describe what Microsoft is doing right now! My email inbox is overflowing with complaints and cries for help. Microsoft seems to be really desperate, it must not be going as well as they had hoped.

After the upgrade to Windows 10 (not update) you have 4 weeks to revert to your previous system. This process has so far worked without a hitch for those of my customers who reverted.
  1. Click the Start button
  2. Click on Settings (on a few systems it is PC Settings)
  3. Click on Update & security
  4. In the left side bar click on Recovery
  5. Find the entry Go back to Windows x (x is 7 or 8 depending on what your previous system was) and click on it
Depending on the speed of your computer it will work for anything between 30 and 90 minutes. After you have reverted to your previous version of Windows Microsoft will again begin to permanently nag you to upgrade to Win 10. This nagging can be reliably turned off!
Microsoft has since about November 2015 been busy to put some of the telemetry of Windows 10 into Windows 7 and Windows 8 systems; this happens in addition to forcing upgrades to Windows 10. That means that Win 7 and 8 systems now contain some of what I call Windows 10 spying on me/us and IMHO that should to be turned off!!

My recommendation is to turn all this junk off and luckily since about February 2016 I know of a dependable piece of free software that allows everybody to do just that on their systems whether it is a Windows 7, 8 or 10 computer!. See this article for more details.


If after the upgrade any icons or programs are missing or if you rather have me install SD Anti Beacon I can do all that via remote support. For remote support please call one of the coming Monday through Thursday evenings between 6PM and 8PM. If I am already at home I want to connect remotely to your computer. If I can not answer on your first attempt please assume that I am already helping somebody else and keep trying every 10 or 15 minutes.

If I have set up or worked on your computer during the last three years you should be set for remote support; if you have an icon labeled either "Teamviewer ..."  or "EJH Remote Support" then all is prepared. If you do not find either of these icons please call anyway, I can walk you on the phone thru the steps to get the remote support program going. Alternatively you can prepare for remote support as described here.

Please have your computer up and running; if your computer is a notebook (or laptop) computer then please have the power supply connected and plugged into a working power outlet.
Stay safe!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Windows 10 and Microsoft's Attitude to Security and Prvacy


On Slate I found this very revealing article about Windows 10 and it's implications for privacy and security. I highly recommend you read it BEFORE you jump on the Windows 10 band wagon.

No, I take back my "... highly recommend you read ...". If you are seriously thinking about Windows 10 and/or want to be fully informed before you take the plunge (or not) THE ARTICLE IS A MUST READ!

As I said in an earlier article by now we can do something about all that, reliably and free of charge. Well, maybe not totally free if you want me to set it up and demonstrate it's correct usage to you.

Stay safe!


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Uninstall Anything with Quick Time (or Quicktime) in the Name

Please just do it!

There is a good and free alternative player out there by the name of VLC who will happily and safely play your old .mov files - if you have any.

Stay safe!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

2016-04-07 WBKV Talking Points


This is the first time ever in 12 years of regular radio shows that I do not have a set agenda for the 15 minutes ahead of us.

Listeners, please call in with ANY kind of question you may have around your PC and MS Windows.

Other than that only the standards;

    - Use common sense!
    - Read and think(!) before you click.

    - Update ALL programs you use.

   - Ransomware.

    - Backup your data and your system!

And stay safe.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Avoid or Mitigate Ransomware Risks


A big THANK YOU to the Emerging Threats Team at SophosLabs and their blog Naked Security for their excellent recommendations on this nasty but important topic.

I have taken the liberty to add some remarks just to help you remember important little details that are easy to forget in cursive.
  • Backup regularly and keep a recent backup copy off-site. There are dozens of ways other than ransomware that files can suddenly vanish, such as fire, flood, theft, a dropped laptop or even an accidental delete. Encrypt your backup and you won’t have to worry about the backup device falling into the wrong hands.

    But do not, I repeat, do not leave your backup device connected to the computer. Always unplug the backup device after the backup is complete!

     
  • Don’t enable macros in document attachments received via email. Microsoft deliberately turned off auto-execution of macros by default many years ago as a security measure. A lot of malware infections rely on persuading you to turn macros back on, so don’t do it!

    Naturally they don't tell you that the click they ask you to do will turn macros back on. They rather trick you into believing that clicking is the thing to do to be able to read what they sent you...

     
  • Be cautious about unsolicited attachments. The crooks are relying on the dilemma that you shouldn’t open a document until you are sure it’s the one you want, but you can’t tell if it’s the one you want until you open it. If in doubt, leave it out.

    Currently I do not open ANY attachments; I call the sender and have them explain what and why they sent the attachment and even if all that checks out I additionally check the attachment on
    Virus Total
     
  • Don’t give yourself more login power than you need. Most importantly, don’t stay logged in as an administrator any longer than is strictly necessary, and avoid browsing, opening documents or other “regular work” activities while you have administrator rights.

    Quite a lofty ideal as I am currently experiencing first hand.

     
  • Consider installing the Microsoft Office viewers. These viewer applications let you see what documents look like without opening them in Word or Excel itself. In particular, the viewer software doesn’t support macros at all, so you can’t enable macros by mistake!

    Now is a good suggestion, I will have to do that!

     
  • Patch early, patch often. Malware that doesn’t come in via document macros often relies on security bugs in popular applications, including Office, your browser, Flash and more. The sooner you patch, the fewer open holes remain for the crooks to exploit.

    As I always preach: Update, update, update.
That is it; certainly to a large part common sense but here it is, nicely packaged and in one place.

Stay safe!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Ransomware - A Current Example


Please take a close look at this cut out grabbed diectly off my screen:

From the top the red frames are around:
  1. The virus infected scam email in the message list
  2. The totally unprofessionally empty subject line.
    [Bulk] is from my ISP telling me that this email was sent  from a server that is known to send out spam
    FW: tells me that the email was forwarded
  3. Addressing me with "ejheinze" shows that the sender does not even know my first name;
    ejheinze is the part of my email address before the @ character
  4. A totally unprofessional signature
  5. .zip is one of the potentially dangerous file types 
Do I really need to comment? Yes? Okay, here we go:
  1. Hm, no subject and I don't know a Jodie M and Comcast in her email address? I have no business at all with Comcast.
  2. Unprofessional and bordering on rude.
  3. Totally unprofessional and in a primitive way impolite.
  4. From Comcast I would at least expect some sort of company logo or an avatar.
  5. I wonder what might be in there...
    but with all the above I DO NOT CLICK on the attachment!
Instead I save the attached file and submit it to Virus Total (Wikipedia). And the "success" confirms my suspicion. 17 out of  58 anti virus programs flag the file as infected. See for yourself:
The rest was simple:
Delete the email which deletes the attachment as well.
Delete the file from the computer and
Empty Recycle Bin, just to be sure.

Remember: NEVER, EVER click on an email attachment unless you have verified it's legitimacy with the sender.

Stay safe.



Sunday, March 27, 2016

SD Anti Beacon - A Must Have?


If privacy of your data and files is to you as important as it is for me than the answer to the title question on Windows 7 and above is YES, clear and loud.

Let me explain: SpyBot Anti Beacon is a relatively new utility that can reliably turn off most of Windows 10's unwelcome behavior. Many others besides myself think of as being spied at. Whether Micro$oft calls this telemetry or whatever, I feel spied at.

If you want to know why I call Windows 10 a masterpiece of data collection and judge it's telemetry as for me unwanted spying please read this article originally written in October 2012 after Windows 8 was available. And I repeated the IMHO main reason in the context of Windows 10 quite recently.

If you want to try SB Anti Beacon (SBAB) please keep in mind this is professionally made but it is a FREE program; free as in free beer, that is you do not have to pay for it. This has consequences; not everything is as automatic as you might have come to expect from good programs. The main program window has four tabs for four different functions or info screens. I recommend to read the Frequently Asked Questions in tab #4 but will shortly describe what I do in tabs #1 and #2 (usage instructions).

In tab #1 I want ALL the entries to be green, that is all the spying turned off. So I just click the Immunize button at the bottom of the page.

In tab #2 I want as well all entries to be turned off but the page is differently organized. For every entry I have to click on the Apply button immediately above the entry. And especially on laptops and other (mainly smaller) wide screens I have to realize that in tab #2 the program windows has a scroll bar! I need to use it to uncover the last entry or entries on that tab's page.

Here are some visual examples from the only Windows 10 system I currently have available which happens to be a laptop:
Tab #1 BEFORE and AFTER "Immunize"
Tab #2 BEFORE and AFTER "Apply"
Please see that the scroll bar in the pictures of tab #2 is in a different positions.

Just an hour ago I made an interesting observation: After installing updates from Windows Update I checked the Win 7 system I write this on and there was one new telemetry entry in each of the tabs. That shows that Micro$oft at least for now will keep bringing telemetry from Windows 10 back to Windows 7 and 8!

That is why I say to you:  If you are willing to use SpyBot's Anti Beacon and to take on this additional check after EVERY update from Micro$oft (whether the updates were automatically applied or you checked and installed them manually) then you can rest fairly assured that Micro$oft will not collect data from your computer and about your computing habits.

As usual, stay safe.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

2016-03-24 WBKV Talking Points


Today nothing but viruses, malware and currently acute dangers.
  • Ransomware (so far mainly from infectious MS-Office documents)
    Record ransom paid; 17 million US$ 
     -  -
  • now infectious advertisements on BIG company web sites with 100s of millions of visitors every day:
    - -
    New York Times (nyt.com)
    AOL.com
    ESPN.com
    MSN.com (MicroSoft Network)
    NFL.com (yes, National Football League)
    TheWeatherNetwork.com
    TheHill.com
    Yahoo.com  and many more.
I feel like a prayer wheel:
   If you see advertisements in your web browser your computer is at risk!

Firefox web browser with Adblock Plus and WOT are the browser protections you should use!

No, not Goggle Chrome, Safari or Edge or Internet Explorer!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Norton Software IS RISKY!


For years I recommend to my customers and on my radio shows to stay away from so called "security products" from the big names like Norton, McAfee, Trend Micro and many others.

The makers of the Norton branded software is a company called Symantec.

Here is revealing and interesting article about Symantec and some of the major security problems in some of their software.

If you want to entrust the security of your computer to Norton software be my guest. I don't mind at all to clean up the mess.

Stay safe!

Credit cards ARE a risk factor...


.., especially if last year you used them at Target or Home Depot.

Home Depot so far shelled out $19.5 million and they are still counting.

More details are here.

Personally I always cringe when I see someone paying everyday smaller mounts with a credit card, be it at Starbucks, McDonald or anywhere else.

Disclaimer: I am hardly ever at McDonald and if at all I pay with cash!

Stay safe!

New Dangers And Bad News


You may already have heard of ransomware, the newest trick of the bad guys to get at your money.

If you have not here is a VERY SHORT explanation: A ransomware virus encrypts all your data files, that is in effect makes them unusable and unreadable. After the encryption is done you have to pay money to the crooks do get instructions and a "decryption key"; if the instructions and the decryption key work correctly as they should you get your data back but sometimes it does not work. Your data is held for ransom, hence the name.

So far the highest amount reportedly paid by a large California based medical organization was 17 million dollars.

Very recently the web sites of a whole lot of well known and big organizations got abused to show advertisements infected with ransomware. Some of the affected web sites were:
  • msn.com
  • nytimes.com
  • aol.com
  • nfl.com
  • theweathernetwork.com
  • thehill.com
  • zerohedge.com 
and many more. These sites have millions of daily visitors! If you are interested you can read more details here.

I can not say it often and loud enough:
If you see advertisements on the Internet your web browser and thus your computer are NOT SAFE at all! Fire your current technician and call me or send me an email!
When I leave a customer's house they ALL have a safely set up web browser that should not show ANY of these commercially distributed advertisements.

Stay safe.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Skype Users Be Warned



If you use Skype PLEASE read through this article about two conversations triggered by Skype friend requests. I will let that speak for itself.

For the less geeky of my readers, a spam bot is program or robot programmed to "have a conversation".

You are warned.

Stay safe.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

2016-03-10 WBKV Talking Points


Part 2: Stay Safe on the Internet

Be aware that trustworthy companies, especially Microsoft and it’s affiliates, will never contact you because of a supposed technical problem of any kind.
The following will definitely be scams:
  • Phone calls
  • Advertisements for technical support for any software product on search engines like Google, Yahoo or Bing
  • Pop-ups for tech support from social web sites (Facebook! or LinkedIn)
  • Pop-ups for tech support that promote phone based tech; these usually require a previous malware infection or an unsafe web browser.
Scam avoidance 101:
  1. Never completely trust someone you don’t know who called you.
    Listen to them, if you like.
  2. Ask questions, if you feel like it, but NEVER EVER give them access to your PC
  3. NEVER EVER give them any payment information.
  4. Tell them that you will let your local tech look into it (even if you don’t have one).
  5. If the caller hangs up – good for you.
  6. If he/she gets impolite or abusive it’s your time to hang up!
Afraid of a real problem? Do the research yourself or contact a trusted tech support person.

Chances are there’s nothing to see at all.

If you have handed over payment information, you’ve just given that information to a complete stranger. Immediately put your credit card or payment provider on fraud alert. If you allowed the scammer to access your computer things can get ugly. Do NOT use the computer; you usually have no idea what they did. You need a trusted technician to check out your machine.
This IS a common scam right now and the best defense is to not fall for it in the first place.

Another currently growing threat: MS-Word, Excel or Powerpoint files sent as attachments! When these files are opened you mostly see the request “... to turn protection on ...” or similar tricks. Don’t do it, don't believe it, it's a trick!  Many very nasty ransomware viruses use this trick! If you do not have a current backup YOU PAY! You either pay the crooks to get your files back and/or a trusted technician to re-build all the software on your computer.  And if you don't have install disks for Windows  - b.t.w. they do NOT come with computers any longer - you have even more problems.

Stay safe.

Wrong, Every Step She Took Wrong


Original text of email I got from a long ago customer:
Recently our Microsoft Essentials "little house"  has been erratic in its stability.  We have done full scans and quick scans with it staying green for a short period of time changing to orange and then eventually to red.

I googled this question and received an answer that Microsoft is not updating this since last year - so the definitions are not really up to date.  Is this true?
It was suggested that I get AVG Anti Virus which is Free.  I did do this and it  appears to be doing the job with the green circles, etc. 

On that same page there is a area where I can check to "fix performance".  It is a PC Analyzer - After doing this, the report was: many errors in various areas and they said it could be fixed for fee/one time and/or I could get a program for 1 year.  I would not need one for one year but I would like take advantage of the free analyzing of this performance.  Do you think I should do this and is AVG a good solution if indeed Microsoft has stopped updating?

... [I] realize we will have to update to windows 10 when they force us to do so.  If we do not do this will they charge us?
 And here is the original text of my reply, please judge for yourself:
Thanks for asking. If you remember I do not express myself politically correct so please brace yourself for some rough truths:
  • The "little house" you refer to represents Microsoft Security Essentials which was your anti virus program until you installed AVG.
  • ANY anomaly with your anti virus should have rang a LOUD alarm bell.
  • If it has not updated since last year your computer potentially was not protected against common viruses.
  • AVG is a program that I urge my customers to stay away from!
  • It installs really crappy programs, that is how AVG (the company) makes money nowadays.
  • PC Analyzer IMHO is known malware.
  • I bet you that almost ALL the errors that you get shown are false messages meant to scare you into installing even more useless programs.
  • Keep going with these silly suggestions and soon your computer will likely not be usable any longer.
  • No, DO NOT take "advantage" of the "free" solution that you mention, it will make it only worse.
I believe I still could fix the situation and hopefully repair your computer. I guarantee that the free solution will not work to your satisfaction. 
The question about "they" ( I assume you mean Microsoft?) charging you only Microsoft can answer and they, MS, has been asked the same thing thousands of times; so far MS has only replied with marketing blah-blah; we just do not know. My personal suspicion is yes, no later than January 2020 when in MS's view Windows 7 comes to the end of it's supported lifetime.
In case my replies offended you I apologize, that was and is not my intention at all.
For my readers here: No further comment from my side; please come to your own conclusion and PLEASE, don't make similar or the same mistakes.

Stay safe.
 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

2016-02-25 WBKV Talking Points

Stay Safe on the Internet
  1. Always install Operating System updates
     
  2. Keep your installed applications up-to-date
     
  3. Do not use the same password at every site
     
  4. Install and be sure to update your anti-virus software

  5. Additionally install a free anti-malware scanner and use it(!) regularly
     
  6. Use a firewall (the FW built-in to Windows is good enough!)
     
  7. Backup your data!
     
  8. Enable the display of file extensions
     
  9. Do not open attachments from people you do not know (especially Word files, Locky ransomware travels in Word files! Use MS's Word and Powerpoint viewers to check files)
     
  10. Delete emails that say you won a contest or a stranger asking for assistance with their inheritance or money transfer
     
  11. Watch out for online and phone support scams
     
  12. Ignore and close web pop ups saying your computer is infected or has a problem (use ALT+F4)
     
  13. Ignore and close web pop ups that pretend to be a Windows alert (use ALT+F4)
     
  14. Some types of web sites are more dangerous than others
     
  15. Be extra vigilant when using Peer-To-Peer Software (torrents!)
     
  16. When installing software, watch for "bundled" tool bars and programs you don't want
     
  17. Read the End User License Agreement (EULA) Lol, I know!  

     

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Windows 10 and why I change my recommendation


On 1/17/2014 I wrote on this blog a rant titled: Microsoft Accounts and Windows 8 – A Rant

For Windows 10 this article is just as valid today. I want to quote the main point (emphasis added):
Apple has made an incredible fortune "having access" to all this information about their customers and as I see it Microsoft wants to bake themselves a similar pie, not only get a slice [of this pie of advertisement money]. Once I realized this my reaction was "Big Brother. . . ".
IMHO Windows 10 is a masterpiece of a copy of that pie, even with some improvements; it's main objective is to gather information about and from the user; why else would Microsoft assign a unique "advertising ID" to  every email address that unsuspecting users give them?

As often in this life where there is light there is shadow and vice versa. And besides the "shadow" that I call outright spying there is light:

Technically Windows 10 is a really good operating system.

The main complaints can by now be alleviated with third party programs.
  • The data reporting can reliably be turned off (no more spying!) while the helpful reporting about the inner workings of the system (or failures to do so) remains active.
     
  • The main menu can look and feel just like your old version of Windows; it can look and
    work just like you were used to from Windows Vista or Windows 7.  
If you want to upgrade to Windows 10, go ahead!
 
But be warned: When you upgrade to Windows 10 IMHO you have to install and correctly configure the program that turns Windows 10's reporting features OFF! And do NOT give Microsoft your email address, it will be treated as a Microsoft account!

Again, if privacy is of any concern to you then DO NOT give Microsoft your email address! That includes that you should NOT use Skype! We have a free alternatives to Skype that does not require to give your email address to Microsoft.

Remember what I wrote in Windows 10 Settings - What I Recommend (August 8th. 2015):
If you gave the system on first start your email address Microsoft has created on their servers the storage for an immense wealth of information about you that Win10 and it's programs will collect from and about you; and that besides the fact that every email address will have it's unique "advertisement ID" assigned. Guess what that will be used for!

Should you feel asked a bit too much with all this please contact me by email, I can help. An email address to contact me is in non-computer readable format at the end of the Welcome paragraph in the left side bar of my blog.

And if you upgraded and don't like what you see you have four weeks to 30 days (conflicting info from MS!) to revert back to what you had before.

Stay safe.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

2016-02-11 WBKV Talking Points


Today I want to talk only (or mainly) about modern malware and how it gets in our computers.

Pull up this web page and you have the detailed blueprint for today's talk.

The 10 worst offenders are (IMHO #1 is by far the worst one):
  1. Download portals
  2. Fake updates (e.g. Java, Adobe Flash, Yahoo!) 
  3. Installer programs (mainly from download portals)
  4. PuPs downloading and installing more PuPs
  5. Express installation (expressway to an infected computer)
  6. Custom Install abused with confusing EULAs
  7. Home page and search provider changed
  8. Forced install (e.g. Inbox Toolbar)
  9. Other people(!) using your computer (visitors, relatives)
  10. Researching PuPs; do it ONLY in a virtual machine! 

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Windows 10 Now FORCED On Your Computer


You have good reasons to stay with Windows 7 or Windows 8.1? If the world were like Microsoft wants it to be you are out of luck, plain and simple.

Since this month Microsoft, true to what they announced in November last year, will only give you a choice to "Upgrade Now" or to "Upgrade later".

There is NO WAY to decline the upgrade, neither only for now or for the future as well. Now, I admit, the latter was wishful thinking anyway.

Since most of my customers call themselves computer illiterate I recommend to stay away from registry editing or similar DIY solutions.

The only comprehensive, user friendly and dependable solution I know of is GWX Control Panel.
Warning: Do NOT click on the title "GWX Control Panel", the name of this program; this would start the download immediately!

Instead I recommend you read through the description and then read the detailed description of how to use the program and of what the program does. Read this even if you don't fully understand all technical details; it will give you a comprehensive overview and make using the program far easier.

After reading these descriptions you should go back to the first page I linked you to above. To the right of the description of GWX Control Panel are two download links, one for an Installer version and one for the Stand-alone version. I prefer the Stand-alone version because installer programs IMHO introduce an unnecessary additional layer of complexity.

I leave it up to you to decide which version you want to download and use.

Stay safe.

Top 10 Ways PUPs Sneak Onto Your Computer. And How To Avoid Them.


Disclaimer: I copied the title literally from this blog post.

And that is all I want to say here; this article is simply a MUST READ if you ever had PuPs installed or had to call me because everything got so slow or whatever problem you had.

95% or more of all computer problems I encounter nowadays are initially caused by a PuP! The authors of these PuPs have gotten very clever and constantly invent new tricks to dupe the unsuspecting computer user.

Only permanent vigilance, caution and attention to detail can ultimately somewhat protect us and our computers. 

Please note the use of the word "somewhat" in the previous paragraph! 

For the first time ever I will directly recommend a piece of commercial security software. 

If you want the IMHO best automatic protection against all kinds of malicious programs including PuPs then you will have to pay some money, currently just shy of $40 per year for a single computer. You find details about Emsisoft Anti-Malware here.

Another disclaimer: I am in no way at all associated with Emsisoft or any of their distributors or resellers!

If you don't want to pay that is fine, you just have to DIY (do it yourself). MSE or Defender in conjunction with Malwarebytes Free will do it just as well but you have to regularly do more yourself.

Whether you want to pay for Emsisoft Anti-Malware or not doesn't really matter, IMHO you simply HAVE TO READ this article.

 Stay safe.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

2016-01-28 WBKV Talking Points


Through 20 years of effort, we have successfully trained every computer user
to use passwords that are hard for humans to remember,
but easy for computers to guess.
10 most used passwords in 2015 (truly a list of shame!):
123456
password
12345678
qwerty
12345
123456789
football
1234
1234567
baseball
Please, in the interest of privacy and safety, use a password manager and let it create long passwords.
Wifatch virus actively protects its victims from other forms of malware;
It infects routers, not computers;
It is written in the Perl programming language
It targets so far only ARM (83%), MIPS (10%), and SH4 (7%) processors
It connects infected devices to a peer-to-peer network
Basically it only infects devices that are not protected at all in the first place!
A Symantec (Norton) partner company in India uncovered as major player in the all too common technical support scam
Security Suites from AVG and Avast install dangerous browser add-ons!
McAfee and Norton tell Windows 10 users that they better use Internet Explorer, a browser so bad that Microsoft gave up on it!
For years I advise against ALL of the well known “security suites”, free or paid versions, no difference.




"Free" Security programs - For A Price

I stumbled over this article on How-To-Geek.

I wan to save you the hassle and time to read this lengthy article your self and will quote a few selected and IMHO most relevant snippets.

My stance toward the remaining "free" security programs as well as the well known commercial offerings is known; I have expressed this here repeatedly. So let's begin:

  1. Free antivirus applications aren’t what they used to be. Free antivirus companies are now bundling adware, spyware, toolbars, and other junk to make a quick buck.... At one point, free antivirus was just advertising, pushing users to upgrade to the paid products. Now, free antivirus companies are making money through advertising, tracking, and junkware installations.
     
  2. Comodo ... change[s] your web browser’s search engine to Yahoo! and bundles the GeekBuddy paid tech support software. It also bundles other Comodo products you might not want, including changing your DNS server settings to Comodo’s servers and installing “Chromodo,” a Chromium-based browser made by Comodo. ... As the Comodo-affiliated PrivDog software contained a massive security hole similar to the one Superfish had, there’s a good chance you don’t want a bunch of other Comodo-developed software and services thrown onto your computer.
     
  3. Lavasoft’s Ad-Aware pushes “Web Protection” that will “secure your online search” by setting SecureSearch as your web browser’s homepage and default search engine. Despite the name, this isn’t actually a security feature. Instead, it just switches your web browser to use a branded search engine that actually uses Yahoo! in the background — this means it’s powered by Bing.
    If you prefer Bing, that’s fine — just use the full Bing website. You’ll have a better experience than using Lavasoft’s rebranded, stripped-down search engine.
     
  4. Avira encourages you to install “Avira SafeSearch Plus.” This is just a rebranded version of the Ask Toolbar, redirecting your search results through a rebranded version of Ask.com’s search engine. If you wouldn’t want the Ask Toolbar installed, you wouldn’t want this rebranded version of it installed either.
     
  5. ZoneAlarm also wants you to enable “ZoneAlarm Search” as your browser’s default homepage and search engine, along with installing a ZoneAlarm toolbar that is - once again - a rebranded version of the Ask Toolbar.
     
  6.  Panda {Free Antivirus] attempts to install their own browser security toolbar as well as change your browser’s search engine to Yahoo, and its home page to “MyStart,” which is powered by Yahoo. To Panda’s credit, they at least don’t attempt to trick you by offering you a renamed Yahoo search engine or home page.
     
  7. avast!’s installer also tries to install additional software you might not want. We’ve seen Dropbox offered here in the past, but avast! attempted to install the Google Toolbar when we tried installing it.
    Programs like the Google Toolbar and Dropbox are high-quality software you might actually want, so avast! comes out looking very good compared to the other options here. But even avast! has done done some questionable things in the past — witness the avast! browser extension inserting itself into your online shopping.
     
  8. AVG has its own suite of obnoxious utilities, including the AVG Security Toolbar, AVG Rewards, AVG Web TuneUp, and SecureSearch.
     
  9. BitDefender offers a stripped-down free antivirus. ... BitDefender is still pursuing the strategy of attempting to upsell you to the paid product.
     
  10. MalwareBytes doesn’t attempt to install any extra junk on your computer, although the free version doesn’t offer real-time protection. To their credit, MalwareBytes is offering a free tool that’s useful for manual scans - it even picks up and detects [and removes!] much of the adware other programs install - and encouraging you to pay for a more full-featured product.
    This tool could be quite useful in combination with another antivirus, like Microsoft’s free Windows Defender or Microsoft Security Essentials solution. But it’s not a standalone free antivirus you can depend on, as it lacks the real-time scanning.
 Not too nice a situation out there, right? You either pay up or you have to live mostly with junk you did not want in the first place.


Don't despair, a good, time proven free solution is available since about 2009.

For now over 13 years I "fix" my customer's home computers by removing all sorts of viruses and other malicious or obnoxious software. Most of my customers call themselves "computer illiterate". All of them have lived safely with mostly little or no manual effort.

The only malware infections happen now when someone "falls" for a social engineering trick; that is in effect when the customer for a moment was inattentive. And hat is just a human weakness, I know from my very own experience.

If you want to know details about this solution plese drop me a personal email; thank you.


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

2016-01-14 WBKV Talking Points



For the normal home user: Upgrade to Windows 10 will be enforced by January!
Only two ways around:
1. Change Windows Update Settings. Not recommended because permanent user involvement required.
2. Use GWX Control Panel. See my blog Jan. 3
rd. 2016

AVG installs an extension in Google Chrome that opens computers to malware. DO NOT use Google Chrome and/or AVG “security products! See my blog Jan. 3rd. 2016
First ransomware written in Java discovered. Please uninstall all Java. To my knowledge only Pogo.com still offers games written in Java.

Using Internet Explorer version 10 or older? Update it now! Support runs out NOW!
Better: Finally make the switch to Mozilla Firefox browser.

And a very recent true horror story about Dell's technical support and their willingness to handle a warranty case.


Sunday, January 3, 2016

How to avoid Windows 10


Are you tired of Microsoft's permanent nagging to upgrade to Windows 10?

Do you want to avoid the computer world's biggest and most openly staged attempt to get the greatest data collection system world-wide set up?

Then here is THE solution - as far as I know and as of January 3rd 2016.

Download GWX Control Panel from this web page. I recommend to use the portable version called "Stand-alone" and please read the program author's user guide.

You best start GWX Control Panel [GWXcpl] in administrator mode, that means you right click on the program file and the click on "Run as administrator".

The GWXcpl windows looks like similar to this:
I can not show you an EXACT picture because I have no computer that is still unprotected from Windows 10 upgrades.

 On your computer the upper part will have different contents; I believe it is very self explanatory.

In the lower part you will probably see instead of *n these text entries:
*1  Disable 'Get Windows 10 App' ...
*2  Delete Windows 10 Download Folders
*3  Prevent Automatic Windows 10 Upgrades
*4  Delete Windows 10 Programs
  I recommend to at least click on Disable "Get Windows 10 App' ..." and on "Prevent Automatic Windows 10 Upgrades". Whether you want to delete Windows 10 files and/or folders is up to you; on older computers with less than 320GB large disk drives it seems to be a good idea to free up the space. And don't forget to reboot when you are asked to even if it means that you may have to run GWXcpl more than once.

Feel free to ask any uestions you might have, preferably by email.

Stay safe.




AVG + Google Chrome = TROUBLE

Happy and healthy New Year to everybody!
... It's the first post in 2016 ...

The title describes the newest formula for disaster.

For years I have advised against using Google Chrome as your primary web browser.

For years I have advised against using AVG's free "security" programs.

Now this combination has become a wide open barn door for malicious software and/or viruses to take over your computer. You can read more about the details here.

If you use AVG I recommend to uninstall it and instead rely on Microsoft's Defender respectively Security Essentials in Windows 7. If you run into problems when you uninstall AVG you find AVG's special removal programs here. Take care to download the correct "bittedness" version for your version of Windows.

I you use Google Chrome I recommend to install Mozilla's Firefox browser; in Firefox you need to install two extensions or add-ons:
  1. Adblock Plus and  
  2. WOT (Web Of Trust)
After you install Firefox go to the Bookmarks manager (Bookmarks, Show All Bookmarks. Import and Backup, Import Data from Another Browser, select Google Chrome) and import bookmarks ONLY! When you have your bookmarks in Firefox please uninstall Google Chrome.

That plus some applied common sense is all you need to be and stay safe on the Internet.

If you want to do more against eventual advertisement malware and so called PUPs then download THE FREE version from here. Install Malwarebytes only AFTER you read this article about how to install and use it correctly.

Stay safe!


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

2015-12-17 WBKV Talking Points

Upgrade to Windows 10 will be enforced by January!
The only way around is a change in Windows Update Settings. Details to come.
Linksys EA6100-6300 routers vulnerable. For years I recommend to stay away from Linksys/Cisco.

Cisco is fighting a huge number of vulnerable products. Don't buy Cisco or Linksys.
McAfee Security Manager insecure. Don't use McAfee products!
Latest Flash update kills 78 bugs. The never ending story. Please KILL Flash!

Kaspersky, McAfee and AVG: So called security software itself is insecure.

Lenovo, Toshiba and now Dell caught with bloatware that allows web sites to attack the computer.
Remove all bloatware from any brand name computer. See my Set-Up job (June 18, 2011).



Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Yahoo! Get away from there - QUICKLY!

Although I am on vacation this is too important for quite a few of my customers. Here it goes:

If you have a Yahoo email address you need to read this! All others can relax - for now.

It has happened; this ZD-Net article has the details why for some of their users Yahoo has made it impossible to access their emails. Currently for "some users" only but what if this "test" proves successful for Yahoo? They will do it to all accounts! You can bet on that!

Why did these good people with a Yahoo email address get bloaked from accessing their emails? They used an Ad blocker because
  1. they could not stand the many obnoxious ads and/or
  2. they had heard about the many virus infected ads Yahoo has served in the past or
  3. they just happen to be my customers.
My recommendation: Set up a Gmail account with Google. Be careful to give Google only the minimally required info about yourself.

Then set up your new Gmail account to automatically pull all mails from the Yahoo account. Google so far always has been far better at blocking malicious content from the Internet.

Let's hope that Yahoo's attempt to force feed advertisements fizzles out and becomes a big failure.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

2015-11-19 WBKV Talking Points


Upgrade to Windows 10 will be enforced by January!
The only way around is a change in Windows Update Settings. Details in 4 weeks.

Beware of wrapper programs when downloading ANY programs. Even well known so-called “download sites” are nasty malware slingers. Update Chrome browser from Google ONLY!

Beware of that cheap tablet on Amazon or eBay! Chinese knock offs with pre-installed advertisement malware abound!

Some of Edward Snowden's tips for privacy on home computers:
  • Use an ad-blocker. Ads with active content (moving or playing anything in the ad) require the use of Javascript or Flash; actively block all advertisements.
  • Use a password manager. Despite the many reminders telling people to use different and complex passwords, a huge percentage of users maintain borderline idiotic approaches. Simply: Get a password manager. It will protect you.
  • Use two-factor authentication. Gmail, Twitter, Dropbox, Hotmail and Facebook offer 2FA free of charge. Even if your password does get exposed, you still have a text message as backup.
  • Use the HTTPS Everywhere browser plug-in. It comes from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and will enforce encrypted browser communication.
  • Encrypt your hard drive. Relatively easy these days but be careful to do two things:
    1 Have a long encryption phrase for best results
    2 Make darn'd sure you remember that phrase. The small slowdown in performance is tolerable on a modern computer.
  • Be smart with your security questions. Don't use your mother's maiden name everywhere; or your first school. Mix things up; one account gets hacked the same information does not apply everywhere else.


Monday, November 9, 2015

Early End to Windows 7/8?


According to this Neowin article Microsoft is telling manufacturers to stop producing computers with Windows 7 and/or Windows 8 much earlier than usually.

Another heavy handed Microsoft tactic. Draw your own conclusions.


Thursday, November 5, 2015

2015-11-05 WBKV Talking Points


Microsoft admits Windows 10 spying can not be stopped!
Reference here.

Microsoft will push Windows 10 onto computers with Windows 7 and 8.1.
The fun begins in January 2016 (or earlier if MS thinks it feasible).
Reference here.


We need to begin to talk publicly about alternatives to MS Windows! Yes, there are alternatives.
I promise an article about the alternative(s) in the near future.
And yes, in future this blog will talk about other computer operating systems but Windows.

What is the one, big major difference between Windows and the alternatives?
     Technically: Repositories are centrally managed.
     Economically: The alternatives are free; free as in no money.


Sunday, November 1, 2015

Is Microsoft Pushing Windows 10?


Let me, at least by name, introduce Susan Bradley to you. The lady is a very experienced and knowledgeable system administrator in the world of Microsoft networks and she is a Microsoft MVP. She is very active on widely read internet forums and generally well respected.

Ms. Bradley started a petition on Change.org asking Microsoft's CEO Satya Nadella to reconsider the Windows 10 policy of forcing updates of the Windows operating system on user's machines.

Today Ms. Bradley posted  an update to her petition that you can find here.

I have little doubt that Microsoft could and will attempt something like that. I would consider this to be an intrusion into my personal and private sphere.
MS seems to think they own my computer! Have they gone nuts?

It is time that we begin to talk publicly about alternatives to MS Windows!

And before you ask, yes, there are alternatives. I do not want to discuss these here because this blog is named "Computer Trouble..." and that means trouble with MS Windows computers and I will keep it that way.


Friday, October 23, 2015

Ink Jet Printers


Original quote:
A significant number of Canon-printer owners had print-head failures soon after the one-year warranty expired. There seemed to be a pattern, which prompted a class-action lawsuit. Though Canon denied any wrongdoing, they agreed to pay $930,000. Each class member will receive $50 in cash or $75 for a Canon store voucher. Canon also agreed to extend the warranty period by nine months for those who have print-head issues.
To see the particular models involved, and to get listed as a lawsuit class member, go to the settlement information site before Nov. 24.
For years now I have said that ink jet printers seem to be a scam to sell massively overpriced ink. In the long run you generally are way better off with a faster laser printer.

Other than that I have no comment.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

2015-10-22 WBKV Talking Points

Avast antivirus caught with severe vulnerability. Update, update, update.

Old cell phone? Make sure you erase ALL data!
Massive amounts of personal data recovered from 35% of discarded cell phones

Microsoft has silently fixed a massive authentication blunder.
Before the fix
EVERY email account
@msn.com,
@live.com,
@outlook.com and
@hotmail.com 
These accounts could have been hacked because of an error in the authentication routines.

Many web sites offering software downloads are nasty malware slingers.

Don't buy a laptop right now; prices seem sky high! Maybe it gets better with Thanksgiving sales.




Wednesday, October 7, 2015

2015-10-08 WBKV Talking Points

AVG changes Terms of Use per October 15th:
Original quote from those Terms
We collect non-personal data to make money from our free offerings so we can keep them free, including:
  • Advertising ID associated with your device.
  • Browsing and search history, including meta data.
  • Internet service provider or mobile network you use to connect to our products.
  • Information regarding other applications you may have on your device and how they are used.

Adobe Flash Player and Adobe Shockwave again fix numerous vulnerabilities.
The sad thing is there are no alternatives to Flash & Shockwave because these formats are so widely used on the Internet.
Officially “current versions as of October
7th: Flash 19.0.0.185, Shockwave 12.2.0.162


17 web sites of 23 republican presidential candidates woefully UNSAFE.
From no privacy policy to openly admitting to share donor info, even passport numbers(!)
with unaffiliated third parties.
Affected candidates among others: Hillary Clinton (Dem), Carly Fiorina (Rep), Donald Trump (Rep), Rand Paul (Rep), Lawrence Lessig (Dem), and Marco Rubio (Rep).
Simple solution: Don't give online, don't “sign up” on heir web sites.


Watch out: Spam emails disguised as messages from a local mail carrier (USPS, DHL, UPS, FedEx) on the rise!


Malvertising (malicious advertising) spreads from Yahoo, MSN, Drudge et al to xxx rated web sites.


Hilton Hotels cash registers hacked! Have you or your relatives/friends stayed at a Hilton Hotel lately and paid with a credit card? Better get a new card with a different number.


Thursday, September 24, 2015

10 Reasons Against Win 10 - 10 Reasons For Win 10 (plus comments)


Besides my massive reservations towards Windows 10, voiced here and here, I want to give my readers the pro and con disregarding that personal opinion.
 
The following are excerpts from an Infoworld paper published under the title “Everything you need to know about Windows 10”.
Iinfoworld has these 10 reservations against Windows 10:
  1. Substantial privacy concerns regarding Windows 10. The trade-offs between privacy and what the system “needs to know” can not be simply decided as a black and white decision.
    The same is true for Windows 10's automatically attached Advertising ID.
     
  2. OneDrive works different from Windows 7 and Windows 8. VERY confusing!
     
  3. Media Center and DVD player missing.
     
  4. No useful “universal apps”. The Windows Store is a wasteland.
     
  5. Mail program and Edge browser are test versions at best. Maturing is badly needed.
     
  6. Tablet Mode partially useless (MS Office is better on an iPad than on a Win 10 tablet).
     
  7. The installer may determine that they (MS) are ot quite ready for your machine yet.
    Beg your pardon? Microsoft themselves seem to know that the upgrade isn't as easy peasy
    as they want us to believe!
     
  8. Forced updates have already caused quite a few problems.
     
  9. If it ain't broke don't fix it”. If you are using Windows 7 properly updated and have switched away from Internet Explorer than there is hardly a reason to risk the upgrade.
     
  10. WAY TOO MANY open questions!

And Infoworld has 10 reasons for an upgrade; I have taken the liberty to comment in the second line:
  1. Windows 10 is the way into the future (of Windows!)
    … the way into the Brave New World of Big Brother Microsoft.
     
  2. The new Start Menu is a big plus for keyboard and mouse users of Windows 8/8.1
    if they had never heard of Classic Shell (and here) which creates a menu identical to Win 7.
     
  3. DirectX 12 is a BIG plus for hard core gamers
    hard core gamers know what they want and where to get it.

     
  4. Some security improvements already in Win 10 and some announced
    the old game of a sparrow in the hand and a dove on the tree.
     
  5. Notification Center similar to smart phones.
    those who ignore notifications now have a central place where they can do their ignoring.
     
  6. Actually usable on touch screen units like tablets
    partially usable that is; MS Office still is better on the iPad!
     
  7. Multiple desktops built-in
    power users always knew how to get that, even free as in no money.
     
  8. Cortana may some day actually help you
    but when? And what does it in the meantime? Listening, recording and building a case?
     
  9. Edge browser is getting better
    meaning now it is not (yet) good enough for prime time.
     
  10. Navigation is easier for mouse users
    than in Win 8/8.1; only for those who could not help themselves so far.
I can only repeat what I have said many times before:
Get ALL the information, combine that with  your individual situation and then make an educated decision.
As usual I welcome comments and suggestions right here in the blog. Thank you in advance.  

 For whatever reason the darned TOC (Table Of Contents) feature that I got from Google does not work any longer, sorry. And I just don't have the time to hunt down another solution; if you know one please tell me in a comment. Thank you.