Sunday, November 8, 2009

Scared Again

And again I received a well meaning “warning”. It went like this:

New  Virus (NO JOKE)
This is  legitimate. Please pass this along to your  friends.
The newest virus circulating is the UPS/FedEx/DHL Delivery Failure.
You will receive an email from UPS/Fed Ex Service along with a packet number.
It will say that they were unable to deliver a package sent to you on such-and-such a date.
It then asks you to print out the invoice copy attached.  
Pass  this warning on to all your PC operators at work and home.  
Snopes  confirms that it is real.

True, that IS a known scam to distribute a virus program. BUT:

  1. If nobody in the household ordered anything that we expect through UPS/FedEx/DHL it can only be a scam, right?
  2. And again, if we are observant of what we are doing we will see that the link in the email does NOT go to a legitimate UPS/FedEx/DHL web site.
  3. AND: Even children should know that these three carriers will NEVER notify any recipient via email. If they can not deliver a package they always leave a paper notification.
  4. And NO, but absolutely no recipient of a package can ever print an invoice through the freight carrier’s service. Only the buyer of the merchandise can do that on the merchant’s web site, right?

So really, only when we are un-observant we would fall for a dumb social engineering trick like this in the first place. I don't think anybody I know is in that category.

Everybody out there, PLEASE do not forward such tracts to me.

And still, there is a lesson to be learned here:

This curiosity impulse that makes a person click “to see what is in the package” (?) is all the hacker wants from us. This one click will lead to a maliciously programmed web site that may attempt to coax us into revealing personal information, that may immediately download malicious programs into our computer and so on – unless we actually use our common sense before we click – or forward a message like this.

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

Thank you in advance.

What To Do After A BSOD

The dreaded Blue Screen Of Death (BSOD) can have way too many reasons for specific advice. But there are some reasons that are more prevalent than others like these three examples:

  1. A BSOD can be an indication of a corrupted or incorrect device driver (software that controls some piece of hardware like a printer).
  2. A BSOD can be caused by a faulty memory chip.
    Yes, they worked yesterday; but sometimes they get weak over time and then, all of a sudden, they throw a BSOD.
  3. Some other hardware failure on the motherboard; mostly very bad...

The remedy for number 1 can be time consuming but generally it is possible to correct these errors.

Number 2 can be tested for in relatively little time, usually less than half an hour. Whether I happen to have a suitable replacement memory chip along is dictated by the luck of the draw.

Number 3 can be very tricky to trace, especially if it occurs randomly. I am neither qualified nor equipped to do that and would in such a case refer to a local hardware repair store; luckily I know a good technician who has a store in the area – and on top of being good he is honest; that is a rare combination in this field. As always with computers you should carefully consider all options. If the computer in question is more than three years old I usually advise to at least consider a new machine versus the vagaries of a motherboard repair or replacement.

You can help a great deal if you please would collect some information from the BSOD before you send me an email asking for advice. Here is an example of a BSOD.


Please look for the marked portions of this example and write down what appears in these locations when you see it. If you call me please have this information available when we talk. Or please send an email with this info once you have three or four occurrences documented. Caution: Some of this info may or may not be present; please note if it is not present; it may be in different places and/or sequence as well. In above example we have in this sequence:

  1. The name of the file that caused the problem,
  2. a textual error code,
  3. a so-called stop-error code and
  4. again the file name of the driver that caused the error.

The stop error code and if available the file name are most important to trace errors in a BSOD and to get at the root cause! The stop error code always begins with “0x” and should be in every BSOD.

I know, recording these details is tedious but I hardly can stay at your house and wait for the next BSOD to happen.

Let's cooperate to get at the root of this and "Thank You" in advance!

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