Thursday, February 1, 2018

FINALLY - Microsoft comes to (their?) senses

FINALLY something IMHO long overdue is going to happen:

Microsoft will start to remove the worst of the bad ones!

Please read the details here.

You don't need to call me if after March 1st. your "Optimizer program" has gone missing. I will wait and see what else they (Micro$oft) will declare "coercive" and then remove.

Stay safe!

Friday, January 5, 2018

Meltdown and Spectre bugs in our CPUs

Have you read about and eventually been concerned about these bugs?

First and foremost: Please DO NOT confuse cloud storage of data with cloud computing; these are two very different animals. If you use cloud storage you and your data are NOT directly affected! And as far as I know these attacks are difficult to pull off in the first place and I don't personally know anybody who actively uses cloud computing.

Here is a good and fairly easily to read article that explains the details much better then I ever could.

My short synopsis: If you are using a regular home computer I believe you are and most likely will remain safe. These bugs MIGHT affect companies that run their software, web sites, email systems and what not on Cloud Services like Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Computing, and/or Microsoft Azure.

Don't get overly alarmed but install updates as soon as they are available, especially updates for the Windows Operating system and your web browser.

Stay safe.

Happy 2018!

A happy and healthy New Year yo all my customers and - actually- - to everybody else who happens to  read this.

Stay Safe.
Eike Heinze

Sunday, December 10, 2017

It's Amazon vs. Google. Did You Know?

Have you ever or are you sometimes watching a YouTube video or two?

Have you ever or are you sometimes looking at something or even buying something on Amazon?

If you can answer any of above questions with Yes then you should read this article.

It shows very clearly why I always say that, no matter what companies say, we, the paying customer, are a voiceless, powerless "necessary evil". They just don't give a hoot about us.

Their talk of "how important" their customers are and how they care for us and how important it is for them "to serve the customer" is nothing but marketing hullabaloo and all too often they just plainly lie to us.

Never the less, I will stick with my Amazon Prime account and I will keep using Google's services.

For now at least.

Stay safe.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Attention Everybody ...

... with an AT&T, SBC Global or a Yahoo email account:

Likely every direct or indirect Yahoo user got this or an email similar to this:

DO NOT CLICK on the RESET link! This email is a scam!

As you can see my cursor was on the RESET link in the text when I took this screenshot.

Please look at the red framed box in the left bottom corner. You can easily see that the link would take you to, a web site that obviously has NOTHING AT ALL to do with Yahoo! It is your guess what might happen if you do click on it.

Just the line where these crooks address me, "Dear" is another simple giveaway. No even vaguely reasonable company would address a customer like that!

Again, check every link in emails in this way BEFORE you click!

THINK TWICE and stay safe!

Friday, November 24, 2017

This is where I stand...

Despite being "only" a guest in the USA there have been quite a few times when I have been asked about my opinion of the so called "flag protest issue" in the NFL.

Here is a short video that gives my answer better than I ever could.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 20, 2017

(GRAND-) PARENTS: Real and Present Danger!

Yes, I know, it has been way too long since the last time I had to say something.

With the holiday season immediately upon us and the crazy sales already in full swing:

You please, please have to read this article about the risks associated with the newfangled so-called "internet connected" toys.   

Other than that I wish everybody a HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Stay safe - and help keeping your kids and grand kids safe.


Monday, September 18, 2017

Why Me?

One time too many I have been asked by a caller why he should hire me rather than take his computer to Best Buy; here is my complete reply. I apologize for the bad style (way too many paragraphs begin with "I"!) but I am not a native English speaker.

In general
  • my main interest is cleaning your computer of all viruses and malware and securing it and your web browser against getting infected again in the future

  • I have over 25 years of experience with Windows PCs plus over 23 years of experience as a computer programmer and database manager

  • I do not mince words but rather say it as I see it

  • I can explain technically complex concepts in layman's terms

  • I prefer real-life usability and experience over personal opinions and commercial “tests”

  • I abhor industry shenanigans and trickery and warn my customers

  • I work on Windows PCs only and do only house calls up to 30 miles from my residence. There is no extra charge to appear at your door and I charge no mileage fees.
I neither sell material goods nor any software; I sell only my experience, my know-how and my time.

I do not charge sales tax.

I have NO contractual ties to any product; I do not get any kickbacks from any manufacturer, wholesaler or dealer, no matter where and what you eventually buy.

I have absolutely no hidden financial interest or other commercial bias; there is no added or hidden cost for the home user.

With two rare exceptions I use and install only freely available and functionally proven programs.
Even a proven alternative to Microsoft Office® is officially available free of charge.

I have worked professionally as a programmer and database administrator
  • with computers since July 1st 1964
  • with Microsoft software on CP/M computers since 1977
  • with PCs since February 1982
  • with Microsoft Windows since version 3.1 in 1992
For 11 years I was once every month the “computer guru” on a call-in talk show on WTKM radio out of Hartford, WI.

If you are interested please send an email to ejhprivate*AT*gmail*DOT*com

I will reply and send you my brochure with more information as a .pdf file;
if you rather want a paper copy please give me in your email your name and address and I will send you a letter.

The information in the brochure should enable you to decide whether you want to hire me to repair and secure your computer.

Thank you for your interest.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Email Scammers At It Again

And again the email scammers are at it again. Most likely I got this email (see below) because my email address is publicly available thanks to Yahoo having gotten hacked about 2.5 to 3 years ago. It took a lot of public pressure until Yahoo well over two years after the fact finally admitted to hack #1 and then to hack #2
Disclaimer: Both articles I just linked to are to be read carefully because they were, partially at least, written by journalists that are not computer technicians and/or with sensationalist attitude. The facts of the matter are not in question though!

I have many, many customers with email addresses ending in or". At least theoretically they all could be affected likewise.

If you think something along the lines of "... but he has an email address ending with, why is he concerned by Yahoo having been hacked ..."? Well. many years ago AT&T didn't want the hassle of running their own email servers so they subcontracted Yahoo to do the technical handling of the email accounts of all AT&T customers; that includes in Wisconsin email addresses ending with and country wide many others.. Thus all AT&T customers could be affected.

I have checked on Have I Been Pwned and yes, my email address is in both big customer files that got stolen from Yahoo. That "pwned" by the way is pronounced as "owned" and that is what it means. In geek speak it expresses that your computer - or here my email address - is 'owned' by somebody else who can do with it as they please.

Luckily my password did not get exposed but after I learned of the hack I changed it anyway, just to stay on the safe side.

Now to the current reason why I write all this. I got this email:

  1. Sender Address: translates to BRITISH TELECOMMUNICATIONS PLC
    NOTHING AT ALL to do with AT&T.
  2. You see that I had my cursor on the "Click here..."  link and
  3. because of the cursor on the link you can see in the left bottom corner of the email window the the link goes to, a well know link shortening service.
    Now THAT IS suspicious, for me at least.
And did you see the errors in the text? Failure should begin with a lower case 'f', the period behind AT&T Mail is wrong and clobbers the whole sentence and "Your Mail; version ..." does not make any sense at all. It is almost like I could say "Bad English, bad actor". 
Summary of all the above: DELETE!

Please, DO NOT be curious, DO NOT click on the link just because you want to see what happens; just delete the email and sleep in peace.

Stay safe!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

How to Protect Yourself and Your Computer on the Internet

Sometimes I am still amazed by the degree of how clueless  some people are as far as the most basic ways are concerned to stay safe on the Internet.

I don't want to repeat myself here and I don't want to sound like a broken record either. Oops, many younger readers would not even know what that means...

Anyway, here is a good and easy to read but admittedly fairly long article titled 

Basic Computer Security: How to Protect Yourself from Viruses, Hackers, and Thieves

My regular readers will recognize that I quite often link to articles on How-To Geek. At least the articles about computers are an easy read and correct on top of it.

Stay safe.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Why NOT TO USE Internet Explorer

About one to two times every month I encounter customers who react clearly with doubt or outright disbelief when I tell them NOT TO USE Internet Explorer. IE is Microsoft's web browser with roots in the mid 1990s. That is in computer terms ancient!

Finally I found an article on that explains the "why" in easily understandable terms. You find it here. Enjoy the read and please, please pass the word to your relatives and friends.

And if you are only a little bit like me you want to turn off  IE totally. You find instructions on how to do that here.

Stay safe.

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Skinny ...

... about the latest outbreak of Encrypting Ransomware.

The original of this text was written by Ken Dwight, aka The Virus Doctor. I am an alumnus of his Virus Remediation Training and make this text available for my customers with his kind permission. Thanks Ken.

As with malware in general, encrypting ransomware is continually changing.  Most of these changes are evolutionary and somewhat predictable.  As such, they don’t call for any significant changes in the methodology to be used in dealing with them.

Some recent developments in specific families and strains of encrypting ransomware are
significant enough to justify an update to the IT Support technician’s strategies and tactics for handling them effectively.

There are primarily two families of such ransomware that warrant this attention.  Multiple names have been assigned to these families, but this discussion will use the names that are most frequently found in credible press coverage of these outbreaks.

WannaCry was released into the wild on May 12, 2017.  According to most reports, it infected at least 200,000 computers, in more than 150 countries.  This ransomware spawned its own Wikipedia entry, at

The more recent attack, erroneously known as Petya, but more accurately referred to as
NotPetya, first struck on June 27, 2017.  There are no estimates of the total number of computers infected by this malware, or the number of countries represented.  But it clearly targeted businesses and organizations in Ukraine, with some 80% of the infections found there.  This ransomware also has its own Wikipedia entry, at

These two families of ransomware have several characteristics in common.  Probably the most notable is the widespread coverage both received in the general press.  While malware generally goes unreported in the non-trade press, these attacks were the exception to that rule.  Fueling the press coverage was the revelation that both of these attacks were based on exploits developed by, and subsequently stolen from, the U. S. National Security Agency (NSA).

Interestingly enough, I have not seen any of these infections first-hand, nor have I received reports from any graduates of my Virus Remediation Training workshops that they have encountered computers encrypted by either of these families of ransomware.  Considering the fact that hundreds of IT Support Techs fall into this category, in most of the United States + 7 foreign countries, I can only speculate that the actual infection rate is much less widespread than the press coverage would lead one to believe.

Another common denominator between these two infections was the fact that the vulnerability in Windows that was used for both of these attacks had been patched by Microsoft in their March, 2017 Windows Updates; any computer with that update applied would not have been infected by either of these pieces of malware.

Two NSA exploits were used in both of these attack scenarios; they are named EternalBlue and DoublePulsar.  A free EternalBlue vulnerability scanner is available for download from  As of mid-July, 2017 more than 10 million IPs have been scanned; the majority of hosts scanned (53.82%) still have SMBv1 enabled, and 1 out of 9 hosts in a network is vulnerable to EternalBlue.

The WannaCry malware included a “Kill switch” which was discovered by a malware researcher and activated to disable the infection from spreading any further.  No such kill switch has been found for NotPetya, but a “Vaccine” has been developed to protect against it.  More details from Bleeping Computer at

Another important difference between these two families of malware involves the type of
encryption they perform on the victim’s hard drive.  WannaCry, like most encrypting
ransomware, encrypts each individual file.  It also changes the filename to end with an extension of .wcry.

On the other hand, NotPetya encrypts the entire hard drive and replaces the Master Boot Record with its own version.  While the encryption is taking place, the malware displays a screen that looks like a chkdsk operation is being performed; when the whole-disk encryption is complete, it forces a reboot.

Upon the reboot, the modified MBR causes the ransom note to be displayed, with instructions to pay $300 USD in Bitcoin; after 72 hours, the ransom increases to $600 USD.  Because of the modified MBR, at this point it is not possible to boot into a normal Windows environment.

As of this writing there is no means to pay the ransom; even if the ransom is paid, there appears to be no way to decrypt the hard drive or restore it to normal operation. Consequently, there is no reason to even consider paying the ransom.

Back to WannaCry, there have been some reports of successful decryption after paying the ransom. But here again, I have no first-hand (or even second-hand) reports from victims of this family of ransomware.

Those are the most recent, high-profile developments in the field of encrypting ransomware.  But it’s a pretty safe bet they won’t be the last.  This category of malware continues to evolve and become more sophisticated and more insidious.  It has crossed the threshold of being a billion-dollar industry; that success will attract more and more criminals who are lured by the promise of  easy money.  Our prospects for future employment remain secure!
That was it.

All my customers are advised to weekly initiate a check for Windows Updates. If they followed that advice their computers  were protected and they don't need to care about these two overly "hyped up" virus outbreaks.

Stay safe.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Your Attention Is Required - NOW!

Virtually ALL my customers use
   -  Microsoft Security Essentials on Windows 7 and
   -  Windows Defender on Windows 8.x and Windows 10.

A really BAD bug has been uncovered that warrants your immediate attention.

Please follow the instructions in this article or alternatively you can do the following:
  1. Open Windows Defender (MS Security Essentials on Windows 7)
  2. Click on the Update tab
  3. No matter what the program says click on the big button Update Definitions
If there is any update for Defender or Security Essentials it will be downloaded and installed.

Stay safe.

Friday, May 5, 2017

"Security" software breaks Windows

It gets fun again - my life I mean; the rest of this blog post is dead serious, please make no mistake.

For years I have recommended NOT TO USE products from Webroot. I remember too many bad experiences with and infections on computers that were presumably "protected by Webroot".

In NBC's words:
An antivirus service used by tens of thousands of businesses and millions of home users shut down an untold number of computers around the world Monday after it mistakenly identified core parts of Microsoft Windows as threats, the company confirmed.
Similar events have occurred in the past; sadly they are much more common that we would like and the public hardly knows about it. Some well known companies in the "computer security" or "anti virus" business have had similar snafus. Here is a quote from a blog post at
... Such mishaps have been reported for years to include major anti-virus/security vendors such as Panda, avast, AVG, BitDefender, Kaspersky, Malwarebytes, McAfee and Symantec. In most cases when these issues occur, the anti-virus vendors and security tool developers take quick action to correct the problem and provide support to those users who have been affected.
To call such blunders a "mishap" is not a euphemism, IMHO it is outright glossing over or covering up a major blunder.

Things like this should not happen and they don't need to happen, they are major avoidable blunders. In every case we can only speculate about the "why" and I don't like to speculate.

What does all the above tell us? IMHO very simple:

Do not trust a single word in high gloss, pretty brochures.
Do not believe the words in computer related advertisements on TV.

What you find in high gloss publications is mostly marketing hype and likely not really trustworthy. And when certain "security" software seemingly out-of-the-blue suddenly is being hyped over the moon in TV advertisements it IMHO is time to run for the hills. It tells me that very likely a marketing campaign has to cover up some so called "mishap".


So far I have used the acronym IMHO three times in this blog post. Generally there are always at least two ways to look at something, as we say around computers YMMV. If you have a different opinion - or maybe simply think I am a dumba....s then I ask you to please leave a comment, state your case or blow off steam below. 

Thank you in advance.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Nothing New?

I got an email from a long time customer who asked me
... where have you been? Not on the Blog in three months...
Here is my reply to him:
Thanks for checking the blog.
There is nothing new -- and that means no bad news and that is good news, right?

It still is the "old" story"; ransomware is at the top of the list of nasty programs.

The only way to
avoid that junk fairly reliably - but not guaranteed - is NEVER to click on any attachment to any email! 

Save the attachment to your desktop, upload the attachment to and have it checked there.

Even only one negative result is enough for me to tell the sender to check his attachments himself and stop sending out potentially infected junk files.
And DO NOT click on links in emails! Check if the link goes to the correct web site! Rest your cursor on the link and look at the left bottom corner of the browser window; there you should see the text of the target URL ( = Internet address) that your browser will take you to if you click on that link. Learn to correctly read these URLs!
Stay safe!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

WOT and the darned Purists at Mozilla

WOT vanished from many of my customers Firefox web browsers. I got some questions about that so here is my diatribe.

Mozilla, the maker of the Firefox web browser, is a European organization and over there they have a MUCH more narrow view of privacy issues. That is a double-edged sword.

WOT has a few month ago modified their end user license agreement to conform more closely to what the add-on all can do. No surprise to me that they collect some information on the things you search for and where you then click on. Google does that for years and nobody gives a hoot.

WOT finally made it public and Google and Mozilla went ballistic pulling the WOT extension (add-on) from their web sites. I am pretty livid but they don't listen to you or me.

WOT in the meantime has changed the wording of their end user license agreement and you again can get and run WOT in Goggle Chrome.

The Europeans don't seem to see the value of WOT for the normal non-geek end user and remain stubbornly on their negative stance towards WOT. 

And Mozilla even tricks people into disabling or removing WOT - despite the fact that there is no even remotely similar functionality available anywhere else.

It is a shame but I have to tell my customers that they have to use Google Chrome for their web searches if they want the advantages of WOT, naturally with WOT and a good Ad-Blocker installed. These get installed from within the web browser, they are extensions.

Currently IMHO only Adblock Plus from and uBlock Origin qualify as "good" ad-blockers.

Supposedly WOT and Mozilla are working on a resolution but that already takes many months.

If you have an affected computer and on the desktop is a folder named "Old Firefox Data" I may be able to resurrect WOT; but that definitely would be a trial and error thing that I can not guarantee. But at least I can do it remotely. 

Stay safe.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Music Fans Take Note

Here is a quick tip for anyone who wants to build his/her own music library without over time paying a small fortune to Apple by using iTunes.

Please read this article on How-To Geek and get informed about alternatives to iTunes

Stay safe.

Monday, January 9, 2017

How to stay safe in 2017 - Short List

Here is a short list of in my experience the most important steps you can take to keep your computer and your data safe. have I have added e few remarks for clarification.
  1. Update your software.
    Not only Windows but all other regularly used programs as well;
    for a Windows PC this includes (but is not limited to)
    -   Adobe Flash (beware of fake download sites!)
    -   Adobe Shockwave
    -   Web browser(s)
    -   Email client
    -   Java (if installed; mostly Java is not needed at all!)
    -   Office programs
    We always have to keep in mind that some programs still don't update automatically and quietly in the background! Checking manually hardly ever has hurt anything.
  2. Back-up to an external hard drive.
    Done regularly and correctly this currently is the only protection against ransomware viruses!
  3. Use a password manager.
    For single machines see Keepass, for more than one machine see LastPass and include all cell phones and tablets in the count!
  4. Use a unique password for every account.
    Everybody has many, many accounts; you need a password manager!
  5. Use random passwords
    Easily done only with a password manager!
  6. Turn on two-step verification everywhere you can.
    If you have a cell phone that you really use, otherwise this is pretty useless.
  7. Read and think(!) before you click.
    "My" first commandment for safe computing.
  8. Enable full-disk encryption
    On a single home computer? Only protects your data when the machine gets stolen.
  9. Put a six-digit PIN on your phone and set the phone to wipe it's contents if the PIN is guessed wrongly too many times.
Do you have questions to any of that? Please feel free to ask them in the comments, I will reply. Maybe not immediately but I will.

Stay safe.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Welcome 2017

A Happy, successful and healthy


to all my customers 

and everybody else who might happen to read this!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

How I Transfer Files From An Old To A New Computer

As long as the "old" computer is basically still working transferring all your user files (documents, pictures, music and videos) is no issue at all as long as they are stored in Windows' standard locations.

After the new computer is up and running I take the disk drive physically out of the old machine, attach it externally to the new machine and copy the files directly across to the new computer.

This way there is only one copy process which saves time compared to copying via an external drive which requires copying the same data twice.

After copying the files to the new machine I will urge you to safely keep the disk drive from the old computer for at least a year as an insurance against data loss.

Imagine you need a certain file after several months, you know the name of the file but it just is not where you thought it should be. It is on the old disk drive because that is the only place files could have gotten stored on the old machine; so that is where we have to search for it.

I hope that clears eventual confusion.

Stay safe.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Still on Yahoo? Time to RUN!

Are you still using Yahoo! ® ?

It is high time you run, fast, far and NOW!

Just read this article by Rob Schifren. He is the driving force and creator of, a very long running and very reliable source of information about free software and many more things about and around computers; computers used here in the widest sense of the word, that is including Apple Mac, Android devices and much more.

From the many contacts with my customers I have an idea about how many people re-use the same password on several (or all) web sites.

PLEASE heed the warning and AT LEAST establish a new STRONG password for your Yahoo account.

IMHO it would be better if you switched to a different service altogether. If you have and use a Yahoo email account I recommend to switch to Gmail.

Gmail can automatically import emails from Yahoo if you want to give your email contacts time to adapt to your new email address.

As usual I welcome comments and suggestions right here in the blog. Thank you in advance.

Stay safe.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

About Scams - Beware!

It saddens mw but it has to be said again and again:
Microsoft WILL NOT CALL you because your computer "has been reported" or anything similar.
Please take the few minutes to read this article from the How-To-Geek on common scamming tricks and what to do about them. This article talks about some other commonly encountered scams as well, not only the Microsoft or Tech Support based scams.

It always is good to be well informed. The time to read the HTG article is time well spent; it can help you to avoid the most common traps.

Stay safe.

Monday, November 21, 2016

NO to Google Chrome - Here is Why

Here is a quote from this article on The Register:
Chrome leads the browser pack with 504 reported vulnerabilities followed by Internet Explorer with 289 and Firefox with 171. Some 1035 flaws were reported across all browsers including Opera and Safari, up from 728 in 2013.
"Reported vulnerabilities" are in layman's terms known weaknesses in the program code of the web browser that have been or could eventually be used to hack through a given web browser into computers.

Why would a person want to willingly live with more risks than less?

This seems to me to be a good time to talk about the most common argument for Google Chrome, at least as far as I hear from my customers. The argument is "Yeah, but Chrome is faster". Mostly I get that from younger people or grandparents who quote family members or friends thereof.

That argument is "true" only to a laughably small effect that IMHO is totally irrelevant.

Every web page is made up of often numerous files; these files have to be transferred from the server computer of that web page into our computer. The time this transfer takes is solely dictated by the real life speed and performance of our Internet connection. Our computer and the web browser have next to no influence on that transfer.

Only after all the files that comprise the web page are on our computer the web browser can begin to build the visible web page on the screen. Yes, in doing this Google Chrome is faster than other browsers but this is maybe 10% of the total time it takes from us clicking on a link to the web page appearing on our screen.

Let me do the math for an extremely slow example: Assumed it takes 10 seconds from click to visible page (which is quite long!). 90% of this time is waiting for the transfer of the file(s), that is 9 out of 10 seconds; only 10% (equals 1 second) is what the browser takes to actually do it's job of giving us something to look at. Even if Google Chrome were 20% faster than another browser that would amount to being 0.2 seconds faster over all. That difference is well below what humans can perceive!

My point is: "Faster" is by no means "better"!

As usual I welcome comments and suggestions right here in the blog. Thank you in advance.

Stay safe.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The newest Scam - Beware

The newest telephone scam I heard of is the Microsoft Licensing Scam. You may get a phone call or a voice mail saying something like this (phone numbers deliberately obscured):
“This is to notify you that your Microsoft Windows license key has been expired in your computer so Microsoft Corporation has stopped the services in your computer. To renew the Windows license key, please call 866 XXX XXXX. Let me repeat. This is to notify you that your Microsoft Windows license key has been expired in your computer so Microsoft Corporation has stopped the services in your computer. To renew the Windows license key, please call 866 XXX XXXX. I will repeat 866 XXX XXXX.”
The message obviously was from a computer generated, sort of "mechanical" voice and the stilted English suggest a non-native English speaker behind the whole thing.

Any messages about licensing issues truly from Microsoft would pop up on your computer's screen only during installation or activation. And we all know, if only from experience, that a Microsoft license for the Operating System comes with the computer when you buy it and it is good for the lifetime of the machine.

In Windows services are programs running in the background; they are required for even basic functions of the computer. A computer would not work at all without the required services running in the background.

In the case I read about the recipient happened to be a very, very experienced Windows user; the gentleman called back the 866 number from the message; he said about that call:
"Because the number was toll free, I called it just to see what would happen. An answering machine invited me to leave a message and my number for a callback — I declined.
Please remember: Any and all phone calls claiming to come from Microsoft or any company associated with Microsoft are scams. Don't even talk to these people! Do not give them your phone number or ANY OTHER information.

As usual I welcome comments and suggestions right here in the blog. Thank you in advance.

Stay safe.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Ransomware IS on the Loose, NO JOKING!

Today I met with a customer who recently I had pointed to my blog posts about ransomware. He sort of poo-pooed my words and pointed me to his safe habits.

With his permission I looked in his (very big) Inbox with about 1,000 emails. I looked only for mails with attachments and found quite a few.

I grabbed randomly one of the attachments, a ZIP file by the way, and saved that file to the computer.

Then I went to, uploaded the file and had it tested. The results speak for them selves, here they are:

Clearly this file contains a downloader and a variant of the encrypting ransomware Locky. And who knows what the downloader would do to the machine if it ever gets to run.

Currently DO NOT directly open ANY attachment from an email, no matter how "good" you think you know the sender or what ever excuses your brain comes up with.

Always save the attachment to a place on your computer you can easily access like the desktop.

Then in your web browser go to, browse to the file - in this example on the desktop, upload the file and if comes up with anything then delete the file AND the email it came from!

Better safe than sorry!

And before you ask, some of my previous articles about ransomware are here, here, here, here and here.

As usual I welcome comments and suggestions right here in the blog. Thank you in advance.

Stay safe.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Norton Internet Security - Final Words?

Again I ran into a customer who almost insisted on keeping "his" Norton Internet Security package against my recommendation. I decided to write yet another diatribe against NIS and the reasons behind my stance.

This morning I got the current edition of a computer related newsletter that covers this very issue more concisely and better than I ever could. The text about NIS is buried in the article under the sub-heading "Why doesn’t Fred ever mention Norton/Symantec?". I want to save you the trouble of having to read (or skim) through the quite technical and lengthy discussion of file name length limitations that is the first part of the article; later in my article (what you are reading) I will quote the complete part about NIS as Fred Langa wrote it.

Who is Fred Langa? Here is the "About Fred Langa" copied directly from Windows Secrets:
Fred Langa is senior editor. His LangaList Newsletter merged with Windows Secrets on Nov. 16, 2006. Prior to that, Fred was editor of Byte Magazine (1987 to 1991) and editorial director of CMP Media (1991 to 1996), overseeing Windows Magazine and others.
In short and simple words: Fred Langa is a veteran in the field of PCs and IMHO one of the most trustworthy authors about PCs out there!

Now to above mentioned quote about Norton Internet Security products. The only alteration: I shortened the name of the original questioner for obvious privacy reasons to just the initials.

Why doesn’t Fred ever mention Norton/Symantec?

P F wonders about a long-standing omission in this column.

“Is there a reason we never hear about Symantec/Norton Internet Security from Fred Langa?”

Yes, there’s a reason, Paul. The omission is quite deliberate.

I absolutely loved Norton software way back when Peter Norton was running the company. But after Symantec bought him out in the 1990’s (keeping the “Norton” name, but little else) Symantec/Norton products gained a reputation as bloated and slow; and periodically they contained extremely serious flaws.

Symantec has addressed some of the bloat problems in recent years, but shockingly severe problems still crop up.
For example, as recently as this past summer, researchers found truly frightening, flagrant flaws in all Symantec/Norton antivirus software. Some security researchers said those flaws were “as bad as it gets.”
I agree with that assessment: Due to these flaws, even an unopened email or an unclicked link could compromise your PC at its deepest level!
For more specifics, see the U.S. Government warning, “Symantec and Norton security products contain critical vulnerabilities,” the Fortune Magazine article, “Google found disastrous Symantec and Norton vulnerabilities,” and the article, “Google shames Symantec for security issues.” A web search will turn up lots of other coverage, too.
Those egregious vulnerabilities were patched, but they never should have happened in the first place — especially in a nominal “security” product.
And note: That’s just one recent problem. There have been numerous other problems extending back for years. For example, I just did a general web search on ‘norton security’ problems, and found over 13 million hits!
The above are objective facts you can check for yourself. But what follows is my personal opinion:
I think running Symantec products is worse than running no security software at all. With no security software, at least you know you’re not protected. But millions of Symantec/Norton customers think the software is keeping them safe, when there’s strong evidence that it might actually be creating new vulnerabilities and system problems that wouldn’t otherwise exist. To me, that’s unconscionable in security software.
I haven’t had any Symantec products on my PCs since the early 1990s, and I don’t see that changing any time soon. I’ve seen too many problems with Symantec/Norton’s software.
Your experience might be different, and you’re certainly free to use what you like.
But now you know why you don’t see any coverage of Symantec products from me.
Personally I fully and wholeheartedly agree with Fred Langa!

As usual I welcome comments and suggestions right here in the blog. Thank you in advance.

Stay safe.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Yahoo Users, it's Time to Run for the Hills

For years I have told my clients to stay away from Yahoo as far as possible. Those with Yahoo email accounts I have told to to switch their email provider.

Yes, it is a BIG hassle to do that but now it seems to be imperative to do it - finally.

Yahoo has been majorly hacked!

In 2014 already and they have kept it a secret until recently!

Reported numbers of compromised accounts vary from 500 thousand to one billion affected users but that is irrelevant; relevant is that practically all sensitive information got copied off by miscreants. User names, passwords, date-of-birth, SSNs, security questions and the answers, phone numbers, "real names", address information and the list goes on...

In California the first class action lawsuit against Yahoo has been filed and many more are expected to follow all over the nation.

What to do?

First change your Yahoo password, make the new one at least 12 characters long. Read this article from 2011(!) and this one from 2013(!) on my blog for more information.

More info on Passwords is in these articles:
Passwords that are NOT a password
Passwords the Latest

You have a Yahoo email account or use other Yahoo services (like Yahoo Financials!) and you still are "on the fence"? I can't help you, actually nobody can help you but yourself.

As usual I welcome comments and suggestions right here in the blog. Thank you in advance.

Stay safe.

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 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!

Update Jan. 10th 2017:
Sadly around November 5th 2016 Mozilla, the organization that supplies Firefox and Google have removed that piece of code from their download pages; some details are here.
If you remove the WOT extension or add-on from your Firefox browser it currently can not be re-installed!
Google recently made the WOT extension available again.
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

Spybot 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.