Removal instructions for Easy Video Converter

What is Easy Video Converter?

The Malwarebytes research team has determined that Easy Video Converter is a browser hijacker. These so-called “hijackers” manipulate your browser(s), for example to change your startpage or searchscopes, so that the affected browser visits their site or one of their choice.
Easy Video Converter is a member of the Spigot family as described in the blogpost Spigot browser hijackers.

How to Turn On or Off Snap Pointer To Default Button in Windows 10

The Snap To pointer option in Windows will automatically move the pointer to the default button in a dialog box when one opens to make it easier to select.

This tutorial will show you how to turn on or off the pointer Snap To default button option for your account in Windows 10.

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How to Change Mouse Primary Button to Left or Right in Windows 10

In Windows, you can select the primary button of your mouse to be the left or right button. The primary button is used for functions such as selecting and dragging.

This tutorial will show you how to change the mouse primary button to be the left or right button for your account in Windows 10.

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“Toymaster” has released Security Mailer Volume 17 Number 16

Security Mailer V17 #16

  • Browsers: Prevent homograph phishing attacks, Firefox security updates;
  • Cisco Security Advisories
  • Java updates
  • Linux updates
  • Microsoft KB4015193, Windows 10 update roadmap; General Security entries
  • Oracle updates
  • VM Ware security bulletins

How to Clean Up Component Store (WinSxS folder) in Windows 10

One commonly asked question is can I delete the WinSxS folder to regain some disk space? The short answer is no. However, there are ways to reduce the size of the WinSxS folder.

The component store (WinSxS folder) contains all the components that make-up Windows to allow you operate your system. These components are kept to rollback any problematic change or to repair a file that becomes corrupted.

The WinSxS folder is located in the Windows folder, for example “C:WindowsWinSxS”. It’s the location for Windows Component Store files. The Windows Component Store is used to support the functions needed for the customization and updating of Windows.

Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016 automatically reduces the size of the WinSxS by using methods similar to the ones described in this tutorial, however these methods also include internal processes, such as uninstalling and deleting packages with components that have been replaced by other components with newer versions. Previous versions of some components are kept on the system for a period of time, allowing you to rollback if necessary. After a period of time, these components are removed from the installation.

In Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016, you have a number of ways to start the cleanup of the component store, which use a combination of package deletion and component compression to clean up the WinSxS folder.

This tutorial will show you different ways on how to clean up the Component Store (WinSxS folder) to reduce its size in Windows 10.

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How to Analyze Component Store (WinSxS folder) in Windows 10

One commonly asked question is can I delete the WinSxS folder to regain some disk space? The short answer is no. However, there are ways to reduce the size of the WinSxS folder.

The component store (WinSxS folder) contains all the components that make-up Windows to allow you operate your system. These components are kept to rollback any problematic change or to repair a file that becomes corrupted.

The WinSxS folder is located in the Windows folder, for example “C:WindowsWinSxS”. It’s the location for Windows Component Store files. The Windows Component Store is used to support the functions needed for the customization and updating of Windows.

This tutorial will show you how to determine the actual size of the component store (WinSxS folder) and if cleanup is recommended in Windows 10.

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Embedded documents in PDF files that can easily infect you

This one is particularly nasty.

Embedded documents in PDF files that can easily infect you

Automation Programming Introduction

Just a bit of an update after a long period of inactivity from blogging. A lot of people have been asking me to blog about my experience with automation and IoT. It’s a rather large topic which is most likely why I’ve been putting off writing about it for a while, but it’s so much more than just relays and having things connected by the internet.

If you’re talking about automation in itself, it doesn’t necessarily inherently mean you’re dealing with IoT but they can be related in a way if your device can communicate over ethernet in some way. HTTP(S) seems to be the most popular choice because this way the communication can be platform-independent, especially if the device has a webserver built in and you can interact with the device through an API – lots of devices choose to implement RESTful API’s from my findings as it’s a rather simple yet extensible approach.

Even if the devices you’re talking to from some kind of controller aren’t internet connected there’s tons of protocols that you may need to know about, before even considering the hardware required to interact with a specific device. From my experience, if you need to use some kind of serial communication protocol there’s RS-232, RS-422, RS-485, but RS-232 being the most common unless you need longer distances or other functionality requirements. For lights, I know there’s the Philips Hue system which involves IP (TCP) communication, and ZigBee which is handled by the hub as a protocol to deal with communication to and from the bulbs back to the hub as an RF type of protocol similar to WiFi and Bluetooth, but lower bandwidth than WiFi. Other commercial grade lighting protocols may use things like RadioRa2 or even DMX-512, both of which I’ve dealt with in various cases. In addition to Bluetooth as a common consumer-level protocol, there’s also IR as a communication type for pretty much most devices you can think of (TV’s, etc…) but if you require feedback you’re out of luck without some other kind of hardware for power-sensing or anything similar since it’s a one way communication type. If you can’t use IR, most people don’t know that HDMI has CEC which would enable you to control a TV or a receiver for instance in your home entertainment system, and although it’s convenient, the problem is that it’s frequently poorly implemented by hardware manufacturers which makes it less reliable for anything past the most basic commands (power on/off for example). An example of this was for turning an Apple TV back on after it went into sleep mode: IR worked, but CEC did not. My best guess for why this is, is that the Apple TV remote is required to work because it’s used more often than CEC control by end-users, so hardware manufacturers don’t spend enough time fully testing device control for people who are interested in controlling devices in less-common ways. If that’s not the answer then it has to do with energy saving ratings, where I know TV’s in particular will turn USB port power, and RS-232C ports off in certain modes unless you change the settings in the TV to tell it not to do that. This makes things rather difficult for us automation programmers because less things are standardized than what we would like to think. In particular, some Sharp displays require you to send an RSPW command to enable IP or RS-232 control for power on, so if the TV is not already on, and you don’t send this command before powering the display off, you’ll never be able to turn the monitor back on. Other displays that have serial ports for control do not require you to do this but you must change some of the settings in the TV to enable control. Device firmware also changes quite a lot of things. What makes things worse is when particular manufacturers (such as Samsung) implement their own proprietary version of protocols (ExLink for instance).

It would be nice to have things more standardized, but the problem with automation today with common household and commercial equipment is that nobody has a standard to go by, and things change too fast for everyone to get on the same boat before it leaves the dock! Lots of people don’t know that HDMI 1.4 in addition to supporting 4K, also has the capability to support ethernet, and although that’s cool, I think HDBaseT is much more useful and feature packed, so it never took off. Personally I’ve never seen a device that supports stripping the ethernet communication off an HDMI connector or uses that instead of an RJ-45 port for ethernet.

In summary, I think the whole reason why I’ve been asked so many times to write about automation and IoT is that the underlying requirements change too fast for most people to get a handle on how things really work, and unless it’s your career like it is mine, then you’ll have a harder time keeping up with how fast technology and protocols change.

I’m going to try and blog a bit more though! Keep posted.

Microsoft commits to twice yearly updates to Windows 10, Office 365

Get ready for two major Windows 10 updates per year.

Microsoft commits to twice yearly updates to Windows 10, Office 365

Cisco issues 7 “high priority” security advisories

Cisco issues 7 “high priority” security advisories; Firepower, IOS and ASA issues among them

C++ Wrappers for Windows Registry APIs

I uploaded on GitHub some C++ code of mine that wraps some Windows registry C-interface APIs, using RAII, STL classes like std::wstring and std::vector, and signals error conditions using exceptions.

Using these high-level C++ wrappers, you can easily access the Windows registry with simple code like this:

// Open a registry key
RegKey key{ 

// Read a DWORD value
DWORD dw = key.GetDwordValue(L"MyValue1");

// Read a string value
wstring s = key.GetStringValue(L"MyValue2");

// Enumerate the values under the given key
auto values = key.EnumValues();

// etc.

On the May issue of MSDN Magazine you’ll find an article describing some of the techniques applied in this code.


How to Optimize Battery Life when Watching Movies and Videos in Windows 10

When watching movies and videos on battery power in Windows 10, you can select to optimize for battery life or video quality.

When set to optimize for battery life on devices that can play high dynamic range (HDR) movies and videos, HDR videos will play as standard dynamic range (SDR) videos when your laptop or tablet isn’t plugged in to get more out of your battery.

This tutorial will show you how to optimize for battery life or video quality when watching moves and videos on battery power in Windows 10.

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Windows 7 – third party user patch allows Kaby Lake and Ryzen CPUs to receive updates

A special third party patch has been developed which bypasses active blocking for the Kaby Lake and Ryzen PCs which are only certified for Windows 10 by Microsoft 7.   There are some risks associated with this technique of overriding registry values, as described in the following:

Less than a week ago, Microsoft began actively blocking users from receiving updates on PCs running Windows 7 or 8 with a modern Intel Kaby Lake or AMD Ryzen processor. Surprise! An open-source patch is already available that lets affected users start snagging Windows updates yet again. That sure didn’t take long.

GitHub user Zeffy published a patch that supposedly defeats Microsoft’s block, as first spotted by techPowerUp. (PCWorld has not tested this patch.) What the patch boils down to is two flags: IsCPUSupported(void) and IsDeviceServiceable(void). On an unmodified system running a Kaby Lake or Ryzen processor, Windows would discover that the CPU was not supported, and therefore the device was not serviceable. But with the patch applied, Windows is told that everything’s fine and the hardware is supported.

Windows 10 – Mobile creators update coming APRIL 25

Windows 10  will release it’s mobile version of the “creators update” starting on APRIL 25.  A comprehensive preview can be found in the following article:

On April 25, Microsoft will begin rolling out its latest update for Windows 10 Mobile. The update shares the same name as its PC counterpart, the “Creators Update”, which is odd considering the Windows 10 Mobile update has literally no new features for “creators.” In fact, saying it has any new features worthy of note would be pushing it. Regardless, it is the latest and greatest version of Windows 10 Mobile.

Not much has changed on the surface when it comes to the Creators Update for Mobile. A lot of work has been done behind the scenes to make the OS run much smoother, and with fewer bugs to run into the whole experience is actually pretty enjoyable. Because of this, the Creators Update for Mobile is literally the best version of Windows 10 Mobile ever, which is to be expected considering its the latest version of the platform.


Change Hue Light Colors with Alexa

Hue and Lifx bulbs have been supported with Amazon’s Echo/Alexa ecosystem for a long time. One of the missing elements, the ability to specify specific colors or temperatures, was missing, although cool third party integration with Yonomi allowed you to create routines to handle specifying colors.

While Hue has been supported natively for a long time, to turn on the new functionality, go to the Alexa app or web page, search for “Hue” and enable the skill.

hue alexa colors

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Removal instructions for Kitty

What is Kitty?

The Malwarebytes research team has determined that Kitty is adware. These adware applications display advertisements not originating from the sites you are browsing.

How to Change Cortana SafeSearch Setting in Windows 10

Cortana is your cloud-based personal assistant that works across your devices and other Microsoft services. Depending on the capabilities of your device and the version of Cortana you’re using, Cortana can provide a range of features, some of which are personalized. Cortana on Windows is available in certain regions and languages. If Cortana isn’t available for your Windows device, you can still search for files on your device in the search box on the taskbar. Cortana is also available on other platforms, such as Android and iOS, in select markets.

There is a SafeSearch section in Cortana settings that allows you to change your search filter levels to Strict, Moderate, or Off. This Cortana SafeSearch setting will override your Bing SafeSearch setting when viewing the Cortana web search results in your browser (ex: Microsoft Edge or Internet Explorer).

This tutorial will show you how to change the Cortana SafeSearch filter setting for web search results for your account in Windows 10.

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Windows 10 – Two feature releases planned per year in future

WIN10 is moving to a more standardized features release pattern in the future, targeting two releases per year (September & March) as described below

A key part of that economic impact is staying current with Windows 10 with feature and security updates. This approach has made large-scale, costly wipe-and-replace Windows deployments every few years a thing of the past. We’ve also heard our customers want more predictability and simplicity from this update servicing model to help make deployments and updates of Microsoft products easier.  Here are more details:

* Windows is committing to a predictable twice-per-year feature release schedule, targeting September and March of each year, aligning with Office 365 ProPlus. The next Windows 10 feature update will be targeted for September 2017.

* Each Windows 10 feature release will be serviced and supported for 18 months. This is consistent with our current Windows 10 approach, but adds further clarity and predictability to organizations by aligning with Office 365 ProPlus.

* In addition, System Center Configuration Manager will support this new aligned update model for Office 365 ProPlus and Windows 10, making both easier to deploy and keep up to date.

Computer Hardware – Recycle old devices and protect environment

Old equipment must be responsibly and carefully disposed of. The best solution is to pass on to others who can use the equipment, if it still is in good working order. Otherwise, there are many stores that will take in older equipment for free or a small charge.,2817,2383568,00.asp

We love our computers and smartphones and gadgets. That is, until they stop working. Then these devices and their peripherals such as printers and monitors, not to mention the cases and batteries and cables and accessories, often become burdensome electronic garbage.

Gadgets aren’t made to last, after all. No computer or phone maker is going to mind if you upgrade every year or two. In fact, they count on it. Consequently, all this junk ends up in the back of your closet or stored in your garage, collecting dust, because you aren’t sure what to do with it.

The best thing to do is donate or recycle it. Contribute your old computers and phones to groups that will fix and clean them and put them back into circulation. Even the oldest computer—something you consider the most obsolete of digital dinosaurs—can probably be used by someone.

There are times, though, when a device is too far gone. There’s nothing that can be done to bring it back to life again. Even a charity doesn’t want unusable rubbish. That junk—called e-waste—is potentially dangerous. Electronics are filled with “heavy metals” (read: toxic metals) and carcinogenic chemicals that are fine when you’re using them, but not so much when sitting in a landfill or, worse, when people recycle them incorrectly. Thousands of tons of e-waste are shipped overseas yearly to countries like China and India, where it gets dumped and maybe burned, which puts mercury and lead into the air.

Network Security – Cisco releases large security update APR-2017

Corporate network administrators should carefully patch all applicable products as documented in the April 2017 advisory

Cisco had a pretty large dump of security advisories today – seven “high priority” and one “critical” – impacting a variety of products many with the threat allowing a remote attacker to cause a denial of service. First up this week Cisco said a vulnerability in the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) UDP throttling process of Cisco Unified Communications Manager (Cisco Unified CM) software could let an unauthenticated, remote attacker cause a denial of service (DoS) attack.

Cisco said it has released software to tackle all seven of these vulnerabilities.  Cisco continues to list the Apache Struts2 Jakarta vulnerability as “critical.” Apache in March disclosed a vulnerability in the Jakarta Multipart parser used in Apache Struts2 that could allow an attacker to execute commands remotely on a targeted system by using acrafted Content-Type, Content-Disposition, or Content-Length value. Cisco said it continues to investigate its product line to determine which products may be affected by this vulnerability and the impact on each affected product

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