The Long Awaited Vista SP1 Has Arrived…

 On Tuesday March 18th, Microsoft finally released Vista SP1 in its final form. SP1 contains a year of updates and improves on some of Vista’s features the public has complained about. At the moment it is available through both Windows Update as an optional download or through the Microsoft Download Center as a standalone download. In the middle of April it will become a mandatory automatic download from Windows Update.  There are a couple of issues with the download and installation that have been discovered since release, so if you want to wait until the download bugs are gone, best wait until April.

 

The download issues that have been found, include a problem with the updated hardware (device) drivers that Vista SP1 needs  (the software that makes each hardware device work).  Windows Update is set up to identify those specific hardware devices that require an updated driver, and it then downloads and installs most of those updates to your computer, prior to installing SP1.  However, you may have hardware that does not have an  update yet or does not have an update available for Vista.  In this case SP1 will not appear in the option list for Windows Update until April.  Here is a list of hardware that may not have an updated driver yet.  Some of your hardware may stop working after SP1 is installed and to determine if one of your hardware devices is affected you can open the device manager and look for one or more yellow exclamation marks. (to open device manager, right click on ‘My Computer’ on your desktop with your mouse, choose ‘properties’, then the ‘hardware’ tab and click the button for ‘device manager’). More information is available in KB948187.

 

There is a list of prerequisite updates that are needed on your PC before SP1 will download and install in KB937287. After you review the installed updates on your PC in Control Panel>Add/Remove Programs and find you are still unable to download and install Vista SP1, please refer to KB948343, for possible causes and solutions. There was an issue with a February update for Windows installation software. This is one of the prerequisite updates for installing Vista  SP1 and may still remain an issue for a few people. Check your list of installed updates to make sure you have KB937287 installed and if not, please go to the manual installation instructions at the bottom of the page.

 

Another issue with the installation of Vista SP1 occurs when there are inconsistencies in the registry of that particular system.  If your installation of SP1 fails then there is a small program you can download called CheckSur which will fix most issues. Before Windows Update downloads and installs Vista SP1 it will check for  inconsistencies in the registry will download and run CheckSur,  if it finds any.  If your installation fails and CheckSur is not automatically downloaded you can find instructions for a manual download and install of  CheckSur at the bottom of the page. 

 

You may be surprised to find that after Vista SP1 is installed, you are asked to re-activate Windows Vista. This does not happen to everyone. Among those affected are those who have made hardware changes, or have updated their software device drivers, prior to installing SP1. For added security, Vista is very sensitive to any hardware change and if the above circumstances occur, you will be asked to re-activate Windows Vista after SP1 is installed. This is expected behaviour of Vista. Some people have found that when they install SP1 they are unable to re-activate Windows Vista over the internet, but must phone the activation center. This also is expected behaviour under some circumstances.  Please refer to the information in KB947519. There is also a discussion of this topic in the MS Genuine Advantage Forum

 

It happened with previous OS’s and now again with Vista, when a service pack was installed. Existing third-party  programs conflict with the service pack, resulting in a reduction in function. You will find a list in KB935796.  As I said above, there is no need to install SP1 yet because it will become an automatic download in April.  Some of the conflicts and installation issues may be solved by then giving you a smoother installation process.  If you want to add the service pack now then please note the above information and read the associated KB articles before installing it.


Why Do I Have To Patch Windows – Shouldn’t It Have Been Made Secure with Windows 3.0?

Recently I was asked this question : “Why do we have to patch Windows all the time? Couldn’t Microsoft have built a secure OS from day 1 for Windows 3.0, Windows 95 or any of the other OS’s so it doesn’t have to be patched?”  I was quite surprised at the question as I know the answer and had never thought that others might not. There are probably many people out there who are asking the same question, so I will start by introducing you to what makes the objects, browsers, pictures etc, that you see with Windows every time you turn on your computer. I will also explain why we need patches for all the software we use.


 


All computer programs are built using a ‘computer language’. There are many computer languages with different applications, and more being developed all the time. The original languages had names like ‘Pascal’ and ‘Cobol’ and were used to develop different types of software programs. Then came ‘object oriented’ programming, with ‘C’ being the most popular at the time, for building  graphical programs.  Using an early form of ‘C’, ‘Windows’ was born.  Today there are hundreds to thousands of programming languages, all used for different types of programs. Some of the old languages are now obsolete, but others like ‘Pascal’ are still used for specific types of  applications. 


 


If you’ve ever used Notepad to open a file that is not a text file, and saw a lot of squiggles, boxes, symbols, letters and numbers, then you have seen what a programming language looks like.  Each language interprets the squiggles, boxes, letters, numbers and symbols, differently, just as  spoken/written languages have different meanings. For Example: the differences between English and Hebrew, Russian, Arabic and Chinese.  The evolution of a computer language occurs, just like spoken language.  In spoken language, slang words become common use words, phrases have different meanings to different people and the spelling of common words in the same language is often different from one country to another. The same thing occurs in computer languages to   improve software, or make it easier to use.


 


The first Windows was Windows 3.0, an extension of DOS.  Most people have heard about DOS, but many have never seen it.  Windows 3.0 provided a graphical image, but DOS was text oriented.  As Windows the Operating System (OS) evolved to Windows 95, 98, 98SE, ME, XP and now Vista, the languages that built the different versions of the Windows OS, changed and evolved as well.


 


Whether it is an Operating System or software program, the programmer uses a current computer language appropriate to design the software he wants.  However, to improve his final product, the programmer will often make changes to the computer language itself, and in this way, the computer language evolves. Similarly, when a programmer designs a new game, they change and adapt the language to create an improved or unique product. 


 


Over the years, computer languages have evolved and changed to meet the needs of the marketplace. As new computer hardware was produced bigger and better programs were able to run on each new design. As the hardware improved, the driver software to run the hardware had to change. 


 


If you compare the changes in computer languages to the evolution of the English language since the 16th or 17th centuries, even changes to the spelling and use of certain common words in different countries, (the word “colour in commonwealth countries vs. “color” in the US) you can see some of the reasons why patches are a necessary part of computer use.  Computer languages have had similar changes, leaving the interpretation of the language to the programmer.


 


Windows 3.0 was built for ‘Ease of Use’ if compared to DOS.  Pictures/graphics were the way to involve even the most illiterate computer user before many had a home computer.  The public demanded more detailed graphics, so each new version of Windows became larger because more graphics/pictures take more room on a hard drive.  Then the demand was for better hardware to store and run the larger and more graphic software.  It became, and still is a competition between the software designers and the hardware manufacturers to meet supply and demand. In the early years, little thought was given to Security because the Internet explosion had not started and the criminal profiteers had not found how lucrative they could make the Internet, yet.


 


In the last few years, Security has become an issue and is still a growing concern. In the days of Windows 3.0 and 95 there was little mention of adware, spyware, malware and other intrusions onto an individual’s computer, but viruses and trojans were becoming an issue.  Third-party Anti-virus programs for the OS were designed and recommended for everyone, but viruses and trojans seemed to be more a problem of the business world as home computing was just starting. 


 


The explosion of people buying home computers, and connecting to the Internet, started and along with it came the ‘bad guys’, for fun and profit.   By the time this became public knowledge Windows 98 was the OS of choice for many.  The proliferation of Adware, Spyware, and Malware started to affect the home user.  ‘Holes’ or ‘vulnerabilities’ were being found in Internet Explorer, Outlook, Outlook Express and the OS, Windows 98.  


 


Then the criminal element realized that they could make use of these holes, and were able to get information from a person’s computer to use for their own gain.  Patches were created by Microsoft for the user to download so that the holes could be closed protecting the user from the bugs.   As time passed, more vulnerabilities and holes were found and exploited by the bad guys. It became a contest between  Microsoft and the bad guys to prevent the user from being attacked by the malware writers.


 


The really nasty malware started appearing, with theft of Identity often the target. These criminal industries are growing very rapidly and the legitimate software programmers are now attempting to build security into the programming language they use.  This is not as easy as it sounds, because faster than computer programming languages evolve, new malware appears, giving the ‘bad guys’ more targets. Unless/until these security holes are known, there is no way to build security into a new OS or program. Hindsight is often the only way our software programs become secure.


 


Security has become a major focus for most software developers, especially for those designing a new OS.  The public is now demanding that the developers try to prevent Hijacks, Spyware, Adware, Malware and in the last few years Identity Theft. Some of those vulnerabilities come from third-party software programmers that do not care about security when they design their software. 


 


The question I was asked “Why do we have to patch Windows all the time? Couldn’t Microsoft have built a secure OS from day 1 for Windows 3.0, Windows 95 or any other OS so it doesn’t have to be patched?” should have some answers now.  To those who think that Microsoft should have been able to build Windows securely years ago, to prevent today’s criminals from using computers for their evil, should look at the difference in size and complexity of the software used today as opposed to the software back in the late 80’s and early 90’s.  The computer language that Windows 3.0 was designed in, has evolved many times over, the number of home computers has exploded and computer crime was not even contemplated back then.


 


To me this question was similar to asking why the cars back in the 1920’s didn’t have air conditioning or why any new car sold today isn’t without any flaws. Taking into account the fact that the languages have changed and evolved over the years, from very small and simple programs or OS, to very large complicated programs today, it becomes clearer why any software written years ago, was not built securely enough to prevent the attacks we see today.

 

 


 

 

 

So You Think Your PC Is Secure…Is It?

So you think your PC is secure. You have a resident Antivirus program, an Antispyware program and a firewall. You have Microsoft Updates set on ‘auto’ so that your copy of Windows is updated automatically as soon as one is available. You have set up all your third-party programs to notify you when any update becomes available. You have added all the recommended tools that don’t conflict, for example: IE-Spyad and SpywareBlaster to your PC.  You have UAC turned ON in your new copy of Vista.  Now you say “phew! My PC is secure so I now can do anything I want and be protected from all the nasties on the internet.”  


 

 So you search, you surf, you chat, you play games, and you visit websites at random and one day your computer slows down, getting slower and slower by the hour until it is impossible to do any of the things that you could do a few days ago. You can’t understand why, you know all of your protection is up-to-date, so you couldn’t possibly have a malware infection, could you?     

 

Well, I hate to give you the bad news, but yes your computer now has the symptoms of a malware infection.  You will have been infected by a brand new malware, probably because you clicked on that banner ad by mistake yesterday, you downloaded a new piece of software from one of the big name sites or from an unfamiliar site, you took a quick peak at that casino page or restricted page you know you shouldn’t be looking at, you opened that email attachment and the windows installer started, or maybe you automatically clicked “allow” (as you always do) when either UAC in Vista, or your third-party firewall asked if you should allow or deny a connection. So many different ways to be infected with brand new malware.   You expect your AV company to have definitions to prevent every malware infection. Ask yourself how the AV companies get the definitions that they use to update your AV product daily. The only way they develop the definitions is AFTER some poor souls become victims of new malware, just like you have been now.  The AV company will then obtain samples of the new infection and develop definitions to prevent and remove the new malware, and download  those new definitions to your PC.  The moral of this story is that the very best and latest protection is not always good enough to prevent a PC from becoming infected.    The only thing that I know of that will prevent a PC from malware infections 99.9% of the time, is all of the above methods together with “conscious thought” and “awareness”. Yes, I said “conscious thought”, in other words caution and awareness of the risks of using the Internet.  Every PC user must be aware of the methods the scumware/malware writers use to infect the average user.  As well as thought, your sixth sense can play a part in keeping your PC safe. Whether you use the Internet with a browser, email, chat or other Internet enabled program, it is important to notice things that are out of the ordinary, sometimes it’s just a feeling you get that something is bad.  For example:
  • clicking a link and finding yourself on a page that you didn’t expect.
  • Visiting a familiar website and landing on an unfamiliar page.
  • Clicking a link that starts an automatic download that you didn’t expect.
  • Following a link to a familiar site that doesn’t look exactly like it should.
  • Your PC starts to download something that you didn’t initiate.
  • You receive a file transfer that you weren’t aware was being transferred.

 

   So if you want to be almost completely safe on the internet, you must think.  No automatic program can keep you safe 100% of the time.  Be aware when you are using your PC of any and all odd occurrences and immediately suspect anything that is out of the ordinary. If you arrive on an unexpected website, never click any links.  If something attempts to download to your PC without you expecting it, stop the download. 

 


The bottom line to maintaining a clean computer is to use your head. If anything unexpected happens, get off the internet and scan your computer with each of your protection programs. If your computer starts to slow down, get some help at one of the antispyware forums to clean it.   In this day and age every infected computer should be cleaned by someone who knows what the malware does to a PC because many things can be left behind on the infected PC because of the nature of the malware.  Many people have been left with infected files after cleaning their own computer which have later caused them serious problems.  Be cautious, even suspicious when surfing the internet, you never know where the latest malware is hidden!


 

Check My Sidebar For New Links To Secure Your PC

Please have a look at the new links I have added to the sidebar of my blog, to decide if the websites and programs may be useful to you, my readers.I am hopeful that these quick links to online information will help you keep your computers safe and healthy:  

 

There is a new section “News” where I have added several links including my favourite site to help children surf safely on the internet.  The theme and title are “Be Web Aware” and you can rely on it for safe topics and links appealing to children. There are many sites online that are setup to attract children and teenagers that you should be aware of. Know what your children are finding on the internet.  Drop by and check it out, Web Aware will help your child/children remain safe online.   Every computer a child uses should have parental controls activated, as there are many inappropriate websites that children find when they are surfing. If you have Windows XP on your system you can find Parental Control software that can be downloaded and installed at  .  If you have Windows Vista there are built-in Parental Controls for you to use.  There are criminals on the internet looking for children they can exploit and you need to know if your child/children have come in contact with them, before they are exploited by the criminal element.  

 

Another item in the “News” gives you a list of Anti-Spyware forums where you can get help with your PC, infected or not. Also included is a link to a forum where you can Stand-Up and Be Counted among those who want to fight back against the malware writers, and have changes made to the laws in their country that allow them to write malware with impunity.  I have added a few new categories that include Security Information, Free AV Products, Free Firewalls, Free AntiSpyware Products, Free Rootkit and Trojan Scanners, Online Scanners and Anti-Trojan products and Free Security Tools that you can install on your system, as well as links to the original sites and blogs. 

 

“Security Information” contains several sites where you can read reviews on the features and effectiveness of different AV products, AS products, and Firewalls.  Also included are links to sites with information such as Rogue Software products that you should avoid, Steve Gibson’s site that is full of information about Securing your PC, as well as a link to a product called “Belarc Advisor  that will inventory all of your hardware and software.   

 

The Free product sections include links to approved Free Antivirus, AntiSpyware, Firewalls and other security software products that can be used if you are unable to purchase the software.  You require all of these products in this day and age, to keep your computer and yourself safe online. If you are able to afford one but not the others, then please download and install the free products so that you have one of each type of software. However, please remember that you should never have more than one Antivirus product or Firewall protecting your system because more than one will conflict with the other, causing them to be ineffective.  You can have more than one AntiSpyware program as long as only one is setup as a resident program and the others used to scan your PC on a regular basis for malware.  A regular schedule is recommended for a full scan of your hard drive(s) by each of the products you have. The reason that more than one AntiSpyware program is recommended is that they often have definitions for different infections.    Online Scanners including Anti-Virus, Anti-Spyware, Anti-Trojan, and Anti-Dialer, become very useful if you are questioning whether something has taken up residence on your system through email or other download. Often when a PC is infected, the onboard programs on your hard drive (antivirus and/or firewall) are unable to find the infection because those programs which you have relied on to keep your PC safe, have been compromised and no longer protect your system.  If you think you have been infected an Online Scanner is needed to find and remove the infection.  It is wise to run one or more Online Scans on a regular basis because the malware today is insidious and embeds itself in your system, often for a period of time before you become aware of it.  

 

I always recommend that anyone who suspects they have a Malware infection, should visit one of the Anti-Spyware Forums and get help from the trained volunteers.  Many of the malware infections we see today are very invasive,  requiring sophisticated tools and the help of someone who has been trained in the removal of that specific malware so that permanent damage is not done to your files.  Many of the removal tools used now, unlike the tools we used a few years ago, can damage your PC if not used properly, by someone who has been trained in their use.   

 

I hope you find the new sidebar links useful as they are now easier to get to than they were when included in my articles. 

 

Procrastination – Habit or Heredity?

aahhh procrastination…..what causes it?  As far as I’m concerned there are three  types of people in this world, the first type are those that get things done immediately, the second type are those that put everything off until they have too much to do, ie: procrastinate, and third, those that do both depending I think on the fazes of the moon or heredity. I am one of the third group, at times I get things done immediately and at other times I let all the tasks due pile up until I don’t know where to start.  After much thought, I have decided it varies with the fazes of the moon, the weather outside, the state of the nation, heredity, the environment or any common occurrence that impacts decision making capabilities. In other words, I haven’t a clue what causes it and I’d bet that others like me can’t either. Actually heredity is probably my first choice because my father, mother, sister and brothers all suffer the same fate as I do, so it must be in my genes. Since the successful mapping of the human genome several years ago, scientists have found that most things that had been thought to be a result of the environmental impact on people’s lives are in fact in a person’s genetic makeup.  So why shouldn’t procrastination also be related to heredity? Well maybe I’ll think about it some more and then make my decision…..

 

Visit A New Forum For Developers!

There is a new forum that may be of interest to Windows, Linux and/or Cross-Platform developers.  The  Linux and Windows Development  forum was started by my son Darin who has most recently been programming linux software. Interested in programming since he was a child, he continues to find it a very satisfying hobby.  Another area of interest for him is Security for personal computers.  At Linux and Windows Development  he hopes to create an area where programmers can discuss their interests, share their knowledge and ideas about the different Operating Systems, about Security or to just chat.  


His interest in PC Security stems from the knowledge that people are more in danger of being attacked by malware today, than ever before.  Identity Theft has become a major issue, more so because many do not take the threat seriously until they become a victim.  In his forum he hopes to encourage the development of tools and software that will be effective in the fight against today’s malware.


The forum opened recently and Darin is now looking for people to help him  build an inviting place for those with similar interests.  Moderators and FAQ writers for all platforms are also needed.   If you are interested in helping him create a thriving forum for programmers to meet, please drop by Linux and Windows Development  and send him a PM, including your interests and background. 


Even if you do not have time to help, please visit  Linux and Windows Development and take a look around, you may find something that interests you!  Please register at the forum and introduce yourself to everyone.


 


 

Santa Brought You A New PC … 30+ Days and the Clock Is Ticking…

Did you get a new computer for Christmas?  If so, you have probably spent the time since Christmas exploring your computer and surfing the internet to find out what all this Internet fuss is about. Perhaps playing games, watching videos, exploring things you are interested in – hobbies etc., chatting with others, and generally looking around.  In a word you’ve had fun with your new toy! 

 

Included with your new computer are the OS (most likely Windows XP or Windows Vista), some Proprietary software from the manufacturer and some Trial software.  Most manufacturers today no longer include disks containing the Windows Operating System, the proprietary software or the trial software that was on the hard drive of your new PC. In other words, the manufacturere gives you nothing with which to restore your computer to the condition it was in, when you first turned it on.  

 

Instead of disks, the manufacturers provide you with a program that helps you create your own backup disks of the data on your PC when it was purchased.  Many people procrastinate or ignore this procedure because they may not have the CD’s or DVD’s to use for the backup, and they are thrilled with their new PC and anxious to get online to find out what their computer has to offer.  These disks are vital to your future computing needs because at some point in the future, you will have to reinstall everything your computer came with.  This can occur when a problem arises with your hardware, software or as a result of a malware attack. However, if you haven’t created these disks containing the original software, you will be left with a large, very expensive paperweight when your hardware fails, you are the victim of a malware attack, or you have one of a myriad of problems that requires you to reinstall all of your software. 

 

The software included with your new PC, especially the Trial Software needs attention within a short time of starting to use your new PC.  The operative word here is TRIAL, meaning that this software expires after 30, 60 or 90 days and on that date it becomes totally useless!  New PC’s usually have several trial programs, maybe Microsoft Office, a few games and a Security Suite.  Buying Microsoft Office, the games and other trial software are a personal decision that will not affect the security of your new PC at this time. However, the Trial Security Suite Software will affect your security because during the trial you and your PC have been protected by a trial AntiVirus Program, a trial AntiSpyware Program and a trial Firewall as part of the Suite, for 30, 60 or 90 days.  The Trial Security Suite has been your only protection from the evils of the internet including malware, rootkits, Identity Theft etc. for the specified length of time, and at the end of that time it  becomes totally useless if it has not been either purchased or replaced. After just over 30 days of use you may still have time before the trial ends to ensure your PC is protected, preventing you and your computer from becoming a victim of the evils of the Internet. You may think I am exaggerating, but the results of studies have shown that an unprotected computer will become infected with some type of malware, in less than 5 minutes of exposure to the Internet!

 

You’ve now had time to familiarize yourself with your new PC, have searched the internet, played a game or two, sent and received email and you now know how to enjoy your new PC.  Now it’s time for you to take a few minutes  to make sure your fun continues without any unpleasant and nasty interruptions. Start preparing your computer for a safe and secure future with the following:

 

1.      The first thing you need to do
is make the backup disks of all the manufacturer’s software and the Operating
System.  The built-in software from your computer manufacturer only allows you to make ONE copy.   IF YOU DO NOT HAVE THESE BACKUPS, YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO RELOAD YOUR ORIGINAL SOFTWARE INCLUDING THE OS. Use the built-in backup software to make the only copy of your built-in software NOW.  Then put the DVD’s, CD’s or other backup media in a safe place where they can’t be damaged. If you used DVD’s or CD’s, I suggest that you buy cases for the disks to keep them safe from dust and other contaminants

 

2.      Your Anitvirus, Antispyware,
and Firewall program as well as other offerings in the Security Suite on your
new PC, are in most cases TRIALS. Assess each program that is trial software that came with your computer.

·        Is it a Security Suite?  If so you need to make a decision to either BUY it or REPLACE it as soon as possible to maintain continual protection, so that it does not expire leaving you unprotected.

·         If you don’t like the Security Suite that was included with your PC, then check out the available Security Suites on the internet or individual programs Antivirus, Antispyware and/or Firewall.  Download and install them before the trial ends and your security suite expires. You can always use the Windows built-in Firewall and a free Antivirus and/or AntiSpyware such as the ones from AVG, Antivir or Avast while you decide which Security Suite you like best that is easy to use.  Free Security programs are available see my article  Protection For  Your  PC

·        Is it a program like Microsoft Office that you may not want or
need?  If it is a suite of programs like Microsoft Office, do you want it? Is it affordable?  If your answers are yes, then buy the program. The most important protection for any program or suite is to set it up so that when there are updates, they will be downloaded and installed.

 

3.      Setup your AntiVirus,
AntiSpyware and Firewall Programs to update automatically when there are either
updates to the program itself and for new definitions. Your computer is not
protected unless it has the most recent definitions for your programs.

 

4.      Set up Windows to
automatically update your Windows Operating System when an update is available.
If you set it up to notify you of updates, make sure you download them as soon
as possible because it is likely the updates are to close a hole or
vulnerability that has been discovered.

 

5.      For your other programs, check
each program for an update setting in the Options that will automatically update your program.
If there is no update setting in the options, then go to the
developer’s website and arrange to have them notify you when there are updates
by email. You will then receive an email anytime there are updates to the
program, and you will be able to go to the website, download and install the update as
soon as you are notified.

 

6.      You will also need to check
for updates from the manufacturer of your computer because the proprietary
software that came with your PC and usually major updates to the Operating
System, will be available through them. Your hardware including your video
card, audio system, modem, Ethernet card, in fact all of your hardware is
operated by software ‘drivers’. Without these drivers your hardware will not
function. Updated drivers are released regularly by your PC manufacturer.  If by any chance you are unable to sign up to receive email updates, check the manufacturer’s website regularly. I suggest you use a calendar to remind yourself to check for these updates on a regular basis.   

 

7.      If you have any questions
about your computer, the manufacturer of your PC  should be contacted first.  If you do not receive a satisfactory response
to your question, some of the manufacturers have a forum where you can ask questions and receive answers. There are also  many online forums where trained people respond to
users questions. You will find them by using a search engine with the basic
information in your question as the search string.

 

8.      To prevent the loss of all of your personal files, you need to set up a schedule for backing them up onto a DVD or CD or other media.  It is very important to have them backed up onto media that is not accessible to a malware attack or you will lose all of them if/when you have to format your computer. 

 



Whether your OS is Windows XP or Windows Vista, it is absolutely necessary to complete the above. There are many ongoing activities that will keep your computer running well eg: Defragmenting the files on your hard drive which improves the speed of your computer.  Current protection and security with up-to-date definitions is also necessary for a good online experience. Windows Vista is advertised, quite rightly, as the most secure Windows Operating System to date. However, the scumware writers keep busy creating more and more devious ways of infecting innocent users and their computers, to rob you of your positive Internet experience and make your life miserable.  In many cases prevention is far more effective and much less trouble than cleaning up after a malware attack.  Prevention involves keeping ALL of your software and hardware drivers up-to-date.  Unfortunately, there are no guarantees that your PC will remain clean but there is a far better chance of staying clean, if you follow the simple rules of protection and security.


Your Home Is As Secure As Your PC…Right?….WRONG!!

Is your home as secure as your computer?  If your answer is “Yes it is”, then you are WRONG.   

For your computer security you have installed all the recommended security programs and a Firewall, set all of your software to download updates as they become available, and your computer is now as secure as possible. But have you added the equivalent protection to your home?

A reporter with WMC-TV memphis discovered that all the locks you have carefully installed and use, won’t keep a thief out of your home.  The tecnique used to enter your home is called “Lock Bumping”. The following video from WMC-TV Memphis demonstrates how insecure your home is despite the locks you have installed. You will be taken to YouTube when you click the following link:

Lock Bumping and Bump Keys

 After watching the video and finding out how easily a thief can break into your home, you should be concerned or even a little afraid.  As a service to its viewers, WMC-TV also posted another video giving you some

Solutions To Lock Bumping

to help you secure your home at a reasonable cost. There are other videos on the site that give more detailed information about Lock Bumping.  Check your security today, both on your PC and in your home!

 

 



Wireless Computing and Security

 Have you joined the wireless world?  Many people think of wireless technology as applying only to computers.  If you have a cordless phone, a garage door opener, GPS in your car, a satellite hookup for your TV, or a cell phone, then you have been using wireless technology as long as you’ve been using those items.  Surprised?  Many people are when they realize they have been using a cordless phone or garage door opener, for several years. 

In the computer world you have Laptops/Notebooks,  PDAs (personal digital assistants), wireless keyboards and mice and anything else that inter-connects without wires or batteries, that is related to a computer.

The one thing most people don’t realize is that using any of the above devices creates it’s own security problems.  Anyone using a cordless phone should realize that their phone calls can be intercepted.  Most people have no reason to worry about whether someone is listening to their calls, but there are occasions when the information discussed in a phone call is so sensitive that they should not be using a Cordless phone or cell phone to make the call.  Would you want a call to your bank intercepted? or A call to your physician? or  A call to your lawyer?  Businesses are more at risk than the average person because sensitive information is often discussed by phone, but more businesses are becoming aware of how insecure using wireless technology actually is.

If you use wireless technology, you should be aware of the Security necessary to keep your interactions over the device secure.  No matter what wireless equipment you want to use, there is wireless technology available for someone who wants to listen or steal the information you are sending over that specific equipment. Now, the information sent by a garage door opener isn’t particularly sensitive but people use phones, laptops, PDAs, keyboards etc., to exchange sensitive information with others that they don’t want to share with others. This is especially true over the Internet.

If wireless computing is in your future, make sure you pay as much attention to Security for the device as you do to choosing and purchasing a laptop.  For different ways of making sure your wireless computing is secure, please read  Wireless Security – A Timely Topic,    Wireless – Why Do I Need Security?  and  Wireless Security – How To Protect Yourself.  If a cell phone, cordless phone, wireless keyboard or mouse or any other devices is in your future, then the some security information about these devices is in   Wireless – Bluetooth Device Security.

 Securing and Protecting yourself and your information should be at the top of your list, before using the wireless device you have chosen. Sadly in this computer age, security and protection are becoming absolutely necessary before we can enjoy our ‘electronic toys’.  Identity Theft is one of the fastest growing evils of the 21st century. 

 

Malware Meant To Destroy Your Life As You Know It

 Almost 2 years ago I wrote the first article called Protection For Your PC and the second Protection For Your PC – Part 2 almost 6 months ago.  All of that information, though 6 months and 2 years old respectively, applies today. However, in the past 2 years since I wrote the first article, the nasties have become nastier, the ID theft more rampant, and the scumware writers more adept at creating Spyware, Malware and other Scumware that is harder to detect and more invasive into your private life.






 






Though gains have been made against this evil that has entered our lives with the computer age, there are still plenty of scumware writers out there producing junk to make your life miserable. The scumware writers took a hit when Microsoft introduced Vista last year, but they are rapidly trying to get back their hold on the Internet and more needs to be done to stop them. 






 








The next article in the series: “Protection For Your PC – Part 3” is here today.  In it I have focused on the worst and most malicious of today’s Malware, because it is the most damaging for the innocent computer user and web surfer.  This particular type of Malware surfaced in the fall of 2005 and is much more difficult to recover from than the advertising  popups, the spyware that tracks your online surfing habits, and the take over of your computer by an infection so that you are unable to surf the internet.  This type of Malware steals your identity and takes over your life, not just your PC. 



 



Please read Protection For Your PC – Part 3  for an update to my previous articles and added information on Securing your PC.  Other articles on PC security will follow.