Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Let the Hackers be the mushroom, not you.

 Creating strong passwords for all your online accounts is not something you should do. It is an issue you must do (ASAP!).  I know it’s going to be annoying visiting every website, just to change each one with a unique and different password for each one.  If you think I am being overly concern just think about how the  45,000 Facebook users feel that got hacked by the  Ramnit worm  You can read more about that here <http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/247337/ramnit_worm_goes_after_facebook_credentials.html>  In this story the quote that gave me the idea to write this story for my blog "Ramnit's mining of Facebook could yield passwords that people have re-used on other websites, a common mistake that gives hackers an easy in."  I whole hearty agree with that quote, a common mistake that is repeated by millions of people every day.

Part of having a secure logon is your user name as well.  If possible change the display name that all users see to something besides your logon name.  Just gives you another level of protecting yourself from the bad guys.  I’m not going to go into great detail on how to create a strong password since many great sites have already done so.   Example <http://www.utexas.edu/its/secure/articles/keep_safe_with_strong_passwords.php>.  You can also use password generators to help you come up with a password or do it yourself.  Whatever you do get r-done.  Protect yourself!

Once you have your strong passwords in place for each website and your computer(s) you use.  You need to lock your computer whenever you leave. To do this, Press CTRL-ALT-DEL simultaneously and select Lock Computer.  Or on XP, configure your machine to use a screen saver that will lock your computer after a period of inactivity.  Right click on the desktop and select Properties, then the Screen Saver tab.  Select a screensaver and turn on the “On resume, password protect” option  On Windows 7  Open Screen Saver Settings by clicking the Start button , In the search box, type "screen saver" without the quotes, and then click set screen saver password. Turn on the “On resume, password protect” option don’t forget to set the time of inactivity too.

Whatever method you use to generate your password be sure to change it every few months.  Update & backup your computer and you will be taking the first steps to secure yourself from the bad guys.  Hay don’t forget to logout when you done other people might want to use that computer. As a one time Computer Lab Attendant, I have seen that all the time, that and USB drives being left behind.

Monday, January 9, 2012

2012 New malware targets your Social Networking

Its really not new, It looks like it started in 2010.  There are thousands of new scams and malware or variants of older attacks on your identity every day. It is believed that this year will be the year that more people will be a victim of identity theft.  The bad guys are now after your Twitter or Facebook accounts and other social media cites. So they can impersonate you to your friends and family to get money or more personal information from them with your identity.  Any information can be sold to other bad guys.  Possibly outside the authority of your banking system or government agency.

Recently I was working on a client's computer that was infected with a fake malware virus scanner telling the user that they needed to purchase a licence to remove the fake viruses it was telling the user it had.  Now the user did not know where this malware come from or how it got on the computer. However they did install a new toolbar on the browser.  I removed the malware without to much trouble. Had the malware gone after the users banking information or credit card information the bad guys would been able to do much more damage. Once it (the malware) was effective other bad guys would have copy them.

So my suggestion is be very careful installing anything on your computer or phone or any device you use.  One thing you can do is look for positive reviews (more than two) on the product your interested in from a trusted media source.  Another thing you should do just like any message you get in your email treat every message with healthy skepticism and get a Identity Theft Protection service to help you protect yourself from the bad guys.  With ID Theft service's you may get software to help protect yourself, most don't as of now and some only help recover from ID theft.  Whatever you do protect yourself.

ZoneAlarm Extreme Security comes with Identity Theft & Data Protection

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Email Spam or Junk email

Email Spam has been on the rise for many years and looks as it will continue on this path to infect our computers with viruses’ with applications to harvest your address book.  According to the Message Anti-Abuse Working Group, the amount of spam email was between 88–92% of email messages sent in the third and fourth quarters of 2010. (http://www.maawg.org/email_metrics_report).  Spam has been made legal in the United States by the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003.  Internet service providers (ISP) have been somewhat unsuccessful using that law to protect themselves and collecting money for lost bandwidth and other damages from spammers.
Setting up filters within your email will help scrub your communications with your contacts incoming and outgoing.  With help with setting up filters check with your email provider or leave a message here and I will point you in the correct direction.  Maybe if I get time I will post how to setup a custom spam filter in perhaps Outlook, Gmail and Yahoo.  Zonealarm Extreme Security has Anti-Spam Filters built-in taking out annoying and potentially dangerous email before it enters your computer and sending it to a Junk Mail folder for review before it is deleted.

Another nugget of information I would like to inform you is: Beware of that free registry system-cleanup application or free system tune up program.  Some free system-cleanup applications just don’t do what it claims to do, others are just right out to infect your computer with a virus much like the latest zombie movie or TV show.  So beware of what you are installing to fix your computer.  Free is good, just depends if you can trust them.  I do recommend CCleaner it's a popular free registry cleaner, defrags and removes unused files from your system. Just be careful like any tool in the hands of a novice you can make more of a problem than you had before you started. CCleaner will not remove a Virus or Worm.  I am not responsible if you use this tool. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

How a firewall protects you from the inside out

Check this awesome graphic to the left. I found it on

With "Hacktivist group Anonymous, which has been responsible for cyber-attacks on the Pentagon, News Corp, and others, has vowed to destroy Facebook on November 5th ....."(from Business Insider) and a cold war between China, Iran and the real threat of Identity theft.  Its the wild wild west online protect yourself..

What is a Trojan? Wikipedia link Applications that trick you to install them like the Greeks to enter the city of Troy.

IP Address? Wikipedia link Everything (device) on the Internet needs one of these to communicate.

The Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 (same firewall as Windows Vista).  Is included free as part of operating system use it, something is better than nothing to help protect your computer from viruses and worms.

If you have any comments, questions please post them.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Windows 7 Backup

     One frightening situating that I have found while working on PC’s.  The majority of the public that have PCs at work and or in their home do not backup their data.  Fortunately, backing up your critical data is very easy to do In Windows 7.  I recommend that you don't back up your files on your computer on the same hard disk that Windows is installed on.  If something happens you may not be able to get to your backup.  You will need some media for what you are about to backing up. This media can be an external hard disk, DVDs, or CDs.
     Once that you have your media in place, Click on the Start button , clicking Control Panel, clicking System and Maintenance, and then clicking Backup and Restore.  If you've never used Windows Backup before, click Set up backup, and then follow the steps in the wizard. If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.  If you've created a backup before, you can wait for your regularly scheduled backup to occur, or you can manually create a new backup by clicking Backup now. If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.  
     Now you will survive disaster of data loss of pictures, programs or whatever is important to you at least up to that point where you last backed up.  So now backup that Hard Drive.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

PC Repair for Crook County, Prineville Oregon

Is your computer running slow, got some weird error messages on boot up?  Got annoying pop ups and weird things running in the background for stuff you didn't download.  Think you got a virus/spyware/malware?  Don’t want to pay a large some of your hard earned cash to some PC shop or large. Think you need someone to look at your PC.  You’re in luck if you live in Central Oregon.  I am in the process of starting my own computer repair business.  However I am willing to try to help someone online as well.  Currently I am looking in to getting a business license, a loan, and so on.  My hourly rate is $35.00 an hour.  So if you’re in need of hands on computer repair help shoot me and email. And let me know what problem you’re having with your PC, or Router, Hard drive or whatever.  Be sure to include your operating system. Steve.mceldowney@gmail.com