Thursday, February 28, 2013

Computer Security and Common Sense

As I have mentioned several times in earlier posts I am a paying subscriber to a technical blog that is MS Windows oriented. One of the latest articles talked about security on the internet and explained in detail a fairly technical method to secure web browsing and general work on a computer.I know that the method described in the original article is far too technical for most of my users.

But the article contained some general remarks that I want to quote verbatim:
We are all aware of the dangers of malware infection from the Internet these days. The danger has always been there, but this has increased a lot more because people with malicious intents are constantly devising new methods to infect the systems, and the inexperienced, naive, general-users/elderly/teens are the most affected by it. Malware infection from the Internet can occur in many ways:
  • Downloading a malware infected setup/file from a malicious site
  • Venturing to a malicious site
  • Clicking on a bad link in an email, or on a page, or on a bad advertisement
  • Clicking on links that fool you into believing that there is a malware on the system and prompt you to install rogue software etc.
Although there are many ways of getting infected by malware it does not mean that we need to become paranoid, or live in constant fear of the possible consequences. With a little effort, precaution, and by using common sense we can easily avoid getting systems infected with malware.
The key words in this quote IMHO are "by using common sense". Most of my customers and many listeners of my regular radio show may have heard my take on common sense. It is a simple question/answer saying:
Q: What is the problem with common sense?
A: Common sense ain't that common.
If you have read my immediately preceding post about phone scams you will understand when I state:
IMHO common sense is the most important ingredient in home computer safety.
How does one get common computer sense? Some may not like me saying it but it is fairly simple:
By learning at least the basics about the computer and conscientiously applying what one knows.

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

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Phone Scams - Way Too Many!

It has happened again: One of my customers got caught by a phone scam. This lady (elderly, pardon me) got a phone call claiming to be from a Microsoft partner company and informing her that her computer had reported a virus infection and needed to be thoroughly cleaned.

The lady fell for the ruse and gave the caller her debit/credit card information and allowed the guy remote access to her computer.

She ended up with almost $200 less in her bank account and a nasty virus program on her computer. Just the removal of this virus cost her additionally two hours of my time.

Currently I hear similar stories way too often.

Please read this article in Microsoft's Safety & Security center; it gives you everything you need to know. With this knowledge and a dash of common sense you can easily detect these scams.

Stay safe.

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

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Beware of Micro$oft's newest Daylight Robbery - UPDATE

All my customers and everybody else who ever talked with me about computers is pretty much aware that I have quite a few misgivings about Micro$oft. Their newest "pony trick" is in my opinion not only price gouging but outright daylight robbery.

The background: So far you could buy a so called "Home and Student" license for Micro$oft's MS-Office suite. With this license you did not get MS Outlook, their big email program that medium and lager companies might use. For the average home user that was rather a positive thing; you can read more details about the background for this statement here.

Above mentioned Home & Student license mostly came with DVD's containing the software. Additionally it came in two flavors, one where the license was valid for only one computer and another version of the license that allowed you to install MS-Office Home & Student on up to three computers in a household. The price difference mostly was a mere $10! And to top it off, if a computer had to be replaced you could install it on a new computer.

In comes MS-Office 2013, the newest incarnation. And guess what:
Micro$oft has changed the terms of the license drastically! 
You can install every license on one computer only, the license is tied to this computer and not transferable. That means if you get a new computer you have to buy the same license again! Original quote from the license agreement:
How can I use the software? We do not sell our software or your copy of it – we only license it. Under our license we grant you the right to install and run that one copy on one computer (the licensed computer) for use by one person at a time, but only if you comply with all the terms of this agreement. Our software license is permanently assigned to the licensed computer.
I really don't know whether Micro$oft has simply gone nuts or whether they really believe they can take the world's public for a fool!

There are alternatives to MS-Office available, two out of three even FREE!
  1. Softmaker Office ($100 with support!)
  2. Kingsoft Office Free ($0.00 as the name says and much like MS-Office 2003)
  3. Libre Office (free, lively development, needs know-how for set-up, available here)
Please warn everybody who might be interested of Micro$oft's newest money trap!

UPDATE March 8, 2013:  User outcry was heard!

Effective immediately Micro$oft has reneged and changed their terms for the license. Here is the relevant part of the modified license agreement:
You may transfer the software to another computer that belongs to you, but not more than one time every 90 days (except due to hardware failure, in which case you may transfer sooner). If you transfer the software to another computer, that other computer becomes the “licensed computer.” You may also transfer the software (together with the license) to a computer owned by someone else if a) you are the first licensed user of the software and b) the new user agrees to the terms of this agreement before the transfer.
Not what it was for Office 2007 and 2010 but better than before.

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

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