For those who might have waited until the last minute, or forgotten someone on their list, here are a few great last minute tech gift ideas:
Malwarebytes Pro – Malwarebytes is one of the best and finding and killing pesky malware on your computer. The Pro edition also offers a pretty good protection module and best of all it is a lifetime license with free upgrades. Use coupon code Q65-TRJ-G7J for a 15% discount at checkout here: Buy Malwarebytes from Malwarebytes.org
Carbonite online backup – This is one of the best ways to protect your data from hard drive crashes, accidents, data corruption etc. You should Always have backups of the important files and pictures that you can’t replace. Carbonite offers basically unlimited backup for a great price and it is one of the most easy to use, set it and forget it programs out there: Click the following link to get the computer protected now!
ESET NOD32 Antivirus – ESET is hands down one of the best antivirus products out there with consistently excellent detection rates and low demands on your system resources. All computers should have an up-to-date Antivirus software product protecting them – use the following link to save 25% : New – ESET NOD32 Antivirus 5 – Save 25%
Also, if you hurry, BestBuy is currently having a special midnight sale with some great discounts through 7AM Central time on the 23rd: Midnight Sale, Online Only, Starts Thursday (12/22) at Midnight Through Friday (12/23) at 8am EST.
For any computer or technology related questions or needs, contact us at http://pensacolacomputers.com where the advice is always free! Providing the best IT service in Pensacola
I have just run into a real nasty new version of a Rogue fake antivirus malware that in addition to screwing with a user’s machine, actually performs a malicious act by hiding all of the users files as well as public shared files on the users computer. I have gotten a few calls from people saying “Help, I lost my files”, or “all my files are gone”. This malicious new virus/malware makes it appear as if the user files have been deleted or wiped off the computer. The files are not lost or deleted though, they have just been hidden.
The Rogue antivirus is a class of malware that pretends to be a real antivirus or antimalware program or some cases I have seen recently a fake windows diagnostic program that says you have memory errors or hard disk errors. In reality these programs ARE the infection. The fake program usually gives you messages that your system is infected or has issues, and tries to get you to either buy a worthless program, or get you to give someone your credit card number. Don’t do either!
To the user, it appears as if all their files – documents, music, pictures, files on the desktop etc have simply disappeared. Don’t worry though, this is not the case. The virus/malware sets a hidden attribute on all the users folders and files and also does the same to public shared folders and files. This can be undone by selectively resetting or unhiding the folders and files that have been hidden **NOTE: Be careful doing this as not all hidden files and folders in your user profile are meant to be unhidden, some are hidden by default and should remain so. If you are unsure of what to do, contact a computer professional to help you.
At Pensacola Computers, we can help you if you are not sure how to do this yourself, and can even do it in a remote session – for help removing viruses and malware, and recovering lost or hidden files visit http://pensacolacomputers.com for contact information.
Microsoft has just released Security Essentials 2.0 (MSE 2.0), which includes a number of enhanced features. In this latest version there is a updated and reportedly much better hueristic scanning engine for viruses and malware (heuristics look for virus/malware like behavior on your computer). Also included is improved integration with Windows Firewall, and new network traffic inspection. The firewall enhancements are only available to those running Vista or Windows 7 as Windows XP does not have the needed platform to run (if you are still on XP, it is really time to seriously consider upgrading as XP is now 10 years old and was never designed for today’s internet or programs).
Microsoft Security Essentials integrates with Internet Explorer to protect your machine from Web threats like malicous scripts. With the increasing number of viruses and malware spreading to all computers from social networking sites like Facebook, and the constant email bombardment, it is imperative to make sure that you have active and updated anti-virus and antispyware/antimalware software on our computer (yes, even Macs and Linux machines are now getting infected with viruses and malware).
The best part of Microsoft Security Essentials is that it is free for home users as well as being free for small businesses with 10 PC’s or fewer. While only time will tell how effetive this latest version is, I would certainly recommend using it in place of software like Nortons or Mcaffee (both of which are often first targets for virus and malware writers).
You can download Microsoft Security Essentials free directly from Microsoft here: http://www.microsoft.com/security_essentials/
*Note: Microsoft Security Essentials, like most antivirus software cannot be installed with other antivirus software as well as some other security software, so make sure to remove other security software before installing it.
For links to other free security software or help with Malware, Spyware and Virus removal, visit Pensacola Computers Tech Support page
So many people come to me with problems on their computers, from viruses, to lurking malware that steals their passwords and slows down their systems. The funny thing is that many of these same people also tell me that they only use their computer for general web surfing, email, and …….. Facebook. Of course Facebook has become the most popular social networking site on the internet in the past year, but with this popularity comes problems – wherever there are lots of people, their arise opportunities for nefarious types and criminal activity. Unfortunately, Facebook provides these people with the perfect platform to spread their Trojans, Keyloggers, fake antivirus scareware, and general malware crap that will make your PC very sick.
But how do they do it? Well, they take advantage of people by using their friends to help spread their nasty things. All it takes is one friend getting their account hacked (either by using a simple password, or by getting a virus/malware infection themselves), and then the nasties usually get sent out as links to all this persons friends and family. Of course when you get a link from Aunt Martha that says to check out the latest Family video, or from your best friend telling you that you just HAVE to check out this sale they found, you of course trust it, and click on it and BAM! All of a sudden you have pop-ups, or something is telling you your computer is infected, or you suddenly go to search for something and end up on some site that has nothing to do with what you typed in.
So what do you do? The best thing to do is to NEVER click on the links in the first place, at least not from Facebook. If by chance you have clicked on one of these bad links and your computer gets infected, first step is to try a system restore (this is often the best chance to stop the virus/malware before it gets out of control). If system restore appears to work, just remember to update your anti-virus and anti-malware software and do full scans to get rid of any traces. If system restore doesn’t appear to work, you should then try going into safe-mode (press F8 key repeatedly at start-up), and then update and run your anti-virus/anti-spyware programs.
Sometimes, infections can get pretty nasty – especially if they have been allowed to invite their friends to your computer over a period of time. When this happens, and you can no longer get on the internet, or even get to your desktop, you may need more advanced help. Visit Pensacola Computers for immediate computer service (yes, it’s a shameless plug, but it’s my blog and I really can help when your computer is FUBAR’d)
For those who are still using Windows XP (still quite a few, although that number is rapidly decreasing), here is a short tutorial from Pensacola Computers on how to use System restore in XP Safe Mode. This can be extremely useful when faced with a virus, malware, or any kind of software change that has made using XP in regular mode difficult or impossible. System restore is often the easiest way to reverse the harmful effects of a virus or malware. Always be aware that System Restore, while reversing software changes, does NOT remove files, so even if the virus or malware is not active, the files are still there and must be removed. If you are using System restore due to a virus or malware infection, be sure to run full virus and malware/spyware scans as well as reapplying any needed Windows and software updates. While system restore is not always able to fix a bad virus or malware infection, it is a great first step in attempting to bring your system back to a usable state.
Visit Pensacola Computers Tech Support page for links for the best free and paid for antivirus, antimalware, and antispyware software.
If you need more in-depth help with virus removal, malware removal, computer service, or computer repair here in Pensacola Florida, please give Jeff at Pensacola Computers a call today at 850*390-4242
Most people who have watched TV or listened to the radio have heard the ads touting the amazing incredible website that will help fix everything wrong with your computer and help your slow system to immediately speed up and run like it was brand new – well all I can say, is beware! I have had the unfortunate users of such software come to me with computers that wouldn’t boot to Windows, or that were freezing up and crashing all the time after using this software. While it is certainly true that spyware/malware/viruses can slow down your system, and removing them will certainly help the performance, using these ‘fix all’ software solutions can often cause more problems than they fix – as a matter of fact, the free ‘diagnosis’ they offer has nothing to do with finding spyware, malware, or viruses.
One thing I find very interesting is the disclaimer in the Terms of Service on doublemyspeed.com: “ANY MATERIAL DOWNLOADED OR OTHERWISE OBTAINED THROUGH THE USE OF THE WEBSITES IS DONE AT YOUR SOLE RISK AND YOU WILL BE SOLELY RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY DAMAGE TO YOUR COMPUTER SYSTEM OR LOSS OF DATA THAT RESULTS FROM THE DOWNLOAD OF ANY SUCH MATERIAL” In other words, if you use their software and it hoses your system, too bad, they did warn you after all. The other bit I find interesting is this part: “CyberDefender EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS ALL WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND, WHETHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NON-INFRINGEMENT OF PROPRIETARY RIGHTS. WITHOUT LIMITATION, CYBERDEFENDER AND THE PROTECTED PARTIES MAKE NO WARRANTY THAT THE WEBSITES OR ANY SOFTWARE DISTRIBUTED THEREFROM WILL MEET YOUR REQUIREMENTS, THAT THEY WILL BE UNINTERRUPTED, TIMELY, SECURE, OR ERROR-FREE, THAT THE RESULTS OBTAINED FROM THE USE OF THE WEBSITES WILL BE ACCURATE OR RELIABLE” – so basically, they won’t provide any kind of warranty for their product, and they certainly don’t claim that their software or results it gives you will be secure, error free, accurate, or reliable. So then tell me, why in the world would I ever spend money on their product????
One of the worst things is their Registry Cleaner which can definitely cause irrepairable damage to your system if it removes the wrong things from the registry. Granted, back in the days of Windows 95/98, a lot of registry errors could have a significant performance impact on your system, however in today’s world of high RAM and multi-core processors, registry errors of the kind that this software usually fixes have a negligible impact on most systems, and the risk of the software removing a critical registry entry is too great to justify the results.
The truth is, many machines just need a simple cleanup of malware/spyware, and some tweaking of startup programs to run better. Then of course there is the fact that your old Windows XP machine with 256MB of RAM will NEVER be able to keep up on the internet of today due to the much increased demands. Remember, Windows XP is about 10 years old, and when it was released the internet was pretty much all text based. Today the internet is multi-media rich with all kinds of add-ons running – Java, Toolbars, Browser helpers, etc. and older computers just don’t have the hardware or software to keep up.
Basically what this website does is con you into running a pretty much worthless registry scanner that will of course show massive errors on your system (which in reality may or may not be errors, and even if they are errors they have a negligible impact on your systems performance if any impact at all) – then if you decide you want to fix these inconsequential errors, you will be taken to a website where they want you to spend $39.98 for a basicaly worthless product, then they want you to buy their CyberDefender antimalware/antivirus software for $29.95, and then of course ad $14.97 for a cd with a copy of your software (you can burn your own CD for about 25 cents). All in all, it is just another company trying to make a quick profit off of anyone who believes their overhyped ads. My opinion: the software is a total waste of money, and you take a risk of totally messing up your machine by using it – not to mention, trying to exit out of the ‘free scan’ software just leads to pop-ups and opens their web page, and you have to confirm multiple times just to uninstall the software! Stay away from this product!!
Of course, this is just my opinion, take it for what it’s worth, but there is no way I would ever recommend this software to anyone – EVER!
For links to Free Software such as Malwarebytes, Spybot S&D, and AVG Free that can help you keep your computer malware and virus free and keep it running faster, visit the Tech Support page at PensacolaComputers.com
This past week, Facebook has once again been the target of a massive malware attack, this time through a huge emailing campaign that sent out millions of fake emails that read “Because of the measure taken to provide safety to our clients, your password has been changed. You can find your new password in the attached document.” – Of course, the attachment is malware that includes password stealing Trojans, downloaders and scareware fake antivirus software. Opening the attachment is of course on of the big no-no’s in computer security – you should never ever open an attachment unless you specifically know the person and that they have told you that they were sending you an attachment. Facebook continues to be one of the highest used vectors for the spread of malware, and a lot of the danger comes from the inadequate security measures that Facebook takes in regards to its users.
Also this week, the cybercriminals have targeted college basketball fans and celebrity gossip watchers (specifically the Jesse James/Sandra Bullock story). These criminals have very slickly optimized their malware infested webpages for the search engines. Security biggee Mcafee reported that 5 out of the first 10 hot searches on Google Trends were sites that had been hacked to serve malware. Most of these sites are not dangerours to systems that are protected, however there are many people who do not keep their antivirus/antispyware software up to date and are vulnerable.
The greatest defense to all of these things is of course to not visit such sites – however that is not always practical. Keeping up to date security software, and never EVER downloading software without knowing the source, and never EVER opening attachments in emails without first verifying the source and content are important practices to follow. Remember, if you get a pop-up saying to update your Flash player, or Quicktime or anything else, Do NOT allow it to install anything – instead go to the source of the software, ie: Adobe.com for Flash, or Apple for quicktime etc.
Here in Pensacola, approx 60% of the computers I have had to clean malware and viruses off of got infected from Facebook, so for users of this popular social networking site, I advise extra caution. One of the easiest ways to get infected on Facebook is from a friend who has had their account hacked (usually because of using an easy to guess password – make sure to always use a complex password on such sites!). One an account is hacked, the hackers send out messages to all the friends on the persons lists, usually with links to infected websites, so be careful even of messages from friends!
For links to great free and paid for antivirus and antispyware, visit Pensacola Computers.Com Tech Support page
It seems that there is another ‘wave’ of scareware running through the Pensacola area (and probably everywhere), as I have seen a number of systems this past week infected with the latest batch of malware that tries to scare the user by constant pop-ups telling them their computer is infected with this or that. With names like Security Suite, Antivirus 2010, Security 360, these latest malware infections are part of a growing trend of scareware. Often a computer is first infected with a virus or malware which has a sole purpose of downloading other malware behind the scenes and within hours of the original infection, your computer has multiple infections and slows down to a crawl. When these types of infections hit, the best thing to do is immediately shut down your computer (Don’t click on any of the pop-ups or links!), and then start the fixing/healing process.
Depending on the severity of the infection, there is hope that you can easily remove the problem yourself. The first step is to reboot into ‘safe mode’ – you can do this by restarting the computer, and pressing the F8 key before Windows starts to load (generally I recommend pressing the F8 key about once a second as soon as the computer restarts). Once you get into safe mode, you will want to chose the option to try to Restore your system to an earlier time (this is Windows System Restore – not to be confused with the Manufacturers Restore which you don’t want to use at this point because that will erase your hard drive). Windows System Restore will basically move your system back to a point before it was infected, making the virus/malware files inactive – I recommend picking a date at least a couple of days before you first noticed the symptoms of the infection. If System restore is successful (it will tell you whether or not it worked when your computer restarts and gets back into Windows), you then need to run a full antivirus and antispyware/malware scan to remove any remnants of the virus/malware (make sure to update your antivirus/antispyware software before running the scan). If System restore doesn’t work, or there are no restore points available, then depending upon your level of computer skills, you can either attempt manual removal, or take it to a professional (please not the squad of geeks, or any large consumer electronics store repair as they will overcharge you and you take the risk of losing all your data if you don’t have a current backup).
These infections come in from many sources, the most popular being through social networking sites like Facebook, Myspace etc. Never click on links or update any computer software from within Facebook or MySpace type sites. Another way of getting these infections is through email attachments – you should never download or open any email attachment unless you specifically know that a specific person was sending you an attachment – people who FWD constantly all the ‘funny’ messages with links to videos and such are some of the worst spreaders of these types of infections. Clicking a link in an email can lead you to a malicious website that can install this bad software on your computer. Make sure you have adequate and up-to-date antivirus and antispyware/antimalware softare installed and running on your machine – check out Pensacola Computers Tech Support page for info and links to the best free and paid for Antivirus and Antispyware products.
It amazes me how many computers I run across that have Windows update disabled, or have it set to manual and haven’t updated in quite a while. So why is it so important to keep your computer up to date with the latest Windows Updates? Most Windows updates are to either fix a bug, or fix a security issue. Does this mean that Windows is inherently unsecure? Not neccessarily. There are new exploits being found all the time, but if you take the majority of computer code out there today and play around with enough, sooner or later you will find exploits that will take advantage of the coding. Of course if you routinely visit malware ridden sites (music and file sharing sites are notorious for these), or if you open every email attachment that someone sends you, or if you download things like screen savers and programs from untrusted sources, you are just asking for trouble. For the most part, Windows, especially Vista, will not usually install something bad without you telling it that it is ok to install. Of course many spyware and virus programs now take advantage of what is called a Trojan downloader to install all kind of nasties on your computer, but usually you have to initially allow something bad to be installed first.
The patches that Microsoft issues through Windows Update include not only the critical security updates, but also new or improved features for Windows, as well as updated drivers for some of your hardware (although usually the best source for drivers is the manufacturers website). These updates are especially critical when they address a newly found security exploit. When a new exploit is found, many virus and spyware writers immediately take advantage of it and all of a sudden there are thousands upon thousands of websites which will be infecting your computer when you visit them. These jerks are very crafty and sometimes it will look like you are installing something needed (like an update to a flash player, or java) but in reality you are installing a virus or spyware program.
Exept for a very few exceptions, any update that has been installed can be uninstalled through either add/remove programs, or by doing a system restore in case something stops working properly. In order to enable Windows Update, go to your control panel > security settings, where you can set your computer to automatically update your computer without you needing to do anything. If you don’t have auto update enabled for a specific reason, then make sure that you check for updates frequently!