Posted July 19th, 2012 by Mark with No Comments
If you are one of the folks using Windows Vista or 7 that use “Windows Gadgets” (those floating desktop applications like the clock, stock ticker, weather forecast, etc.) – you need to do this now. Seriously.
A long-standing, but recently “outed” security vulnerability in Windows Gadgets will likely be used in short order as a way to deliver infections or worse to your computer. Microsoft’s (and my) recommendation? Turn them off.
There is a simple method provided by a Microsoft “Fixit” link, here.
To do this, click on the link, decline the “experience survey” if offered, then look for the Fixit link in the middle of the page on the left labeled “Disable Windows Sidebar and Gadgets.” Click this link, if offered, choose “Run”. If your browser (like Firefox or Chrome) requires that you save the file first, be sure to click on the saved file to run it. This file will do exactly what it says, disable the Windows sidebar and gadgets. When finished, it will ask you to reboot your computer – which you should do.
While Gadgets were never a critical part of the operating system, they were useful. It’s unfortunate that they chose not to fix the problem. Be sure to let us know if you have any trouble – this is the sort of thing that can be easily done in a short remote session if you need help.
Do it today!
Posted July 10th, 2012 by Mark with No Comments
Twice in the last week, I’ve run into a new twist on the old “fake antivirus” infection. Normally, these types of infections pretend to be helper programs. They put up a fake scanner window supposedly showing how badly infected your computer is, then magically offer the solution – usually trying to trick you into giving them your credit card number to “buy” software to cleanup your computer. The idea is to scare you enough to believe the ruse.
This latest version ups the ante by pretending to be from the FBI. It has the official FBI logo on the main screen, with lots of official-looking verbiage about section such-and-such of the criminal code, and how you’ve broken the law by viewing child pornography.
They further raise the stakes by having a “video recording” window at the top where, if you have a web cam, it actually takes your picture! The screen goes on to pretend to levy a fine, list the penalties if you don’t pay immediately, and finally offer a button where you can pay the fine.
The text explains that you can’t tell anyone about it, or you could risk arrest, additional fines, being registered as a sex offender, etc. Scary stuff.
Ultimately, this is the same scam as always, but admittedly is a little startling. Perhaps enough to snare a few more unsuspecting victims.
This infection is known as the “FBI Moneypak,” and you can get it merely by visiting an infected website. One of my customers reported getting infected trying to buy baseball tickets directly from the team site.
Here is a link to the (actual) FBI press release about the infection.
If you happen to get this, the advice is the same as always. Disconnect your computer from the internet and give us a call. We’re here to help.
Posted May 3rd, 2012 by Mark with No Comments
The usual media storm of hyperbolic headlines about the latest spyware / malware scare has begun. Here’s my explanation, along with ONE simple thing you need to do.
A few years ago, some bad guys in Estonia cooked up a deal with companies selling fake “little blue pills.” They wrote a piece of malware that, once installed on your machine, would wait patiently until you tried to go anywhere on the Internet. It would then leap into action and redirect you from your intended destination; taking you instead to a site selling these fake pills.
The crooks got a percentage of any purchases made — which netted them about $14 million dollars before the FBI and Estonian police shut down their operation.
To minimize disruption on the Internet, the FBI kept the redirecting computers running, but set them to send you to the actual site you requested (in other words, act like any other “DNS” server and just route traffic appropriately).
The real news here is this: The FBI doesn’t want to keep running these computers forever. They will be shutting them down on July 9th this year, unless they receive an extension and additional funding.
When the computers are shut down, people who have this infection, but don’t know it, may have problems searching the Internet.
To check to see if you have this infection, just go HERE. If you get a green graphic, then you’re clean and good to go.
If, on the other hand, you get a red graphic,
then you have the infection and should call us to help remove it.
That’s it. Take this small test before July and let us know if you need help.
Posted April 16th, 2012 by Mark with 1 Comment
Ok, open Internet Explorer, click on the “Tools” menu, choose “Options”, then click on the “Security” tab. Locate the box “Allow spyware infections” and UNCHECK it.
Of course, it’s just not that easy – if only there were such a box…Back to reality now.
The bottom line here is that there is no absolute way to prevent being infected. This is a war, and every day there are new and increasingly-clever spywares trying to infect you and get your money or your data. Every day the anti-virus and anti-spyware softwares offer updates to protect you against the latest threats. Depending on which side is ahead in this war today, you can be infected, even with the latest protection, or you can safely carry out your business unaware that your software just fought off a nasty virus.
Well, there you have it. The undercurrent here is that this is YOUR computer – YOU are in charge of your defenses. Make sure you have a backup (Call us to help with this!) just in case. Call us if you don’t understand what to do next, of if you get infected despite your best efforts. We’re here to help.