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Computer Support and Tips

Beware of Security Essentials 2010

March 4th, 2010

Everyone today is worried about computer security and Microsoft’s Security Essentials offers a great way to protect your computer from viruses and malware.

However, users have to beware of a fake anti-virus program called Security Essentials 2010. With a similar name to Microsoft’s Security Essentials, the makers of Security Essentials 2010 are no doubt hoping to lure users into a false sense of security and trust in downloading their program.

When a user run Security Essentials 2010, the program will tell them, more often than not incorrectly, that their system is overloaded with viruses and malware and tell them they need to pay for the full non-trial version” program in order to remove the malicious threats. This is type of practice is known as “scareware,” a program that tries to force users to pay for it by reporting false threats.

Security Essentials 2010 contains a Trojan horse that will in fact infect your personal computer, lowering security levels, terminating running processes, and changing the background to show alarming warning messages such as “Your computer is infected!,” and “Security Warning!
Worm.Win32.NetSky detected on your machine.” Security Essentials 2010 also installs Trojan:Win32/Fakeinit, which monitors TCP traffic and blocks certain domains, including eBay, Facebook, eBay, BBC News, and YouTube.

Security Essentials is a free download from Microsoft and will not ask users to pay for it as long as they are running a legitimate version of Windows.

If you have already installed Security Essentials 2010, you may remove it by following these steps:

1. Download HijackThis from Trend Micro. Close all open programs then run HijackThis. Click “Do a System Scan Only.”

2. Select the following entries by placing a check next to them:

F2 – REG:system.ini: UserInit=C:\WINDOWS\system32\winlogon32.exe
O4 – HKLM\..\Run: [smss32.exe] C:\WINDOWS\system32\smss32.exe
O4 – HKCU\..\Run: [smss32.exe] C:\WINDOWS\system32\smss32.exe
O4 – HKCU\..\Run: [Security essentials 2010] C:\Program Files\Securityessentials2010\SE2010.exe

Click “Fixed Checked.” Quit HijackThis.

2. Download LSPFix and unzip it. Run LSPFix. Check “I Know What I’m Doing.” Select helper32.dll in the Keep box. If helper32.dll is not there, close LSPFix and skip to Step 3.

Press the >> buttom to move helper32.dll to the Remove box. Click “Finish.” Click “OK” then quit LSPFix.

3. Download MalwareBytes. Make sure all programs on the computer are closed. Double click to install MalwareBytes. Make sure a checkmark is placed next to “Update MalwareBytes’ Anti-Malware and Launch MalwareBytes’ Anti-Malware” then click “Finish.”

Once the program opens, click “Perform Quick Scan” then click “Scan.” This may take some time, so be patient.

After the scan is complete, infected items will be displayed. Make sure everything is checked then click “Remove Selected.” You may be required to restart afterwards.

Dell Vostro 400 will not power on

June 10th, 2009

If you are having an issue with your Dell Vostro 400 powering up, here is something that worked for me.

This morning our Dell Vostro 400 would not power on.  The light on the power button was yellow in color.  I took the side off the case and noticed that when the power button was pushed, the cpu fan briefly spun and stopped (this usually indicates an issue with hardware in the computer).  I went ahead an unplugged the power from the computer and was going to proceed with removing cards and memory.  I removed the graphic card and plugged the computer back in.  When I turned it on, the computer started to run, thus indicating that the graphic card was the culprit.  I simply replaced it with a spare and the computer has been working flawlessly.

If the graphic card was not the issue, I would disconnect the hard drive and then the memory (1 at a time with trying to power up the computer).

Hope this helps someone out.

Walmart to Sell iPhones

December 8th, 2008

Apple’s iPhones are one of the hottest Christmas wish list items and soon they will be available at the nation’s biggest retailer – Wal-Mart. While neither Wal-Mart nor Apple will confirm, news is leaking that Wal-Mart will be selling the iPhones, which offer such additional, attractive features like global positioning system (GPS) and MP3 player, by the end of December.

A Wal-Mart employee from Uniondale, N.Y. told a reporter from the Associated Press today that Wal-Mart will start selling the iPhones, but he didn’t know when. The San Jose Mercury News reported last Friday that Wal-Mart is already training California employees in the cell phone department to sell the iPhones. This would make Wal-Mart the second mass-market retailer to sell the iPhone. Previously, the iPhone was only available for purchase through Apple until Best Buy started selling them in September.

There have been rumors of Wal-Mart selling a 4 GB iPhone for $99, although those rumors have not been confirmed yet. Many believe Apple co-founder Steve Jobs may wait until MacWorld in January to announce the release of a $99 iPhone.

If Wal-Mart joins the ranks of iPhone resellers, it will surely help cement Apple’s dominance in the cell phone industry.

Koobface Virus targeting Facebook

December 5th, 2008

There is a worm spreading quickly though Facebook called Koobface.  Like most worms, it seems innocent enough.  It appears to come as a message from a friend with a subject line about a new video or something similar.  When opened and the video is clicked to play, a message appears that says the newest version of Flash Player is not installed, but needs to be.

However, the file that is actually downloaded is not a new version of Flash Player, but malware.  When the link on the fake Flash site is clicked, it downloads malware called tinyproxy.exe.  This file loads to a proxy server called Security Accounts Manager.  The server will run next time the computer is rebooted, loading and listening to traffic on TCP port 9090 and all outgoing HTTP traffic.  In doing this, it tries to obtain sensitive data from your computer, including credit card numbers.  Koobface also sends infected users to bogus search engines sites when he or she tries to connect to Google, Yahoo, MSN, or Live.com.

Facebook is telling users who have been affected that they should run an anti-virus program and change their Facebook password immediately.  Anti-virus and security leader McAfee has warned users that while Facebook is working on the problem, there are many variants of Koobface and that “the situation is likely to get worse before it gets better.”

While it is not known how many of the 120 million Facebook users have been affected by the virus, Facebook is also pro-actively resetting some passwords, then sending users emails notifying them of the possibility of a virus. 

As always, it is best to avoid any messages with downloads or attachments unless it is know that it came from a trusted source.

Webroot Window Washer

September 13th, 2007

Many of us today have software programs that include some sort of “digital shredder” that will on demand destroy personal information on our computers. What websites we have been to, what we downloaded, old emails, secure websites we have logged in to, all traces gone with a click of the mouse … or are they???  For the past two years I have thought that once a week I had been cleaning my machine of this valuable personal information, and boy was I wrong. Through a chance encounter with my online backup program, I got a look at some of the cookies that were still on my home computer and was shocked to see how my personal information had not been deleted at all by the program I was using. In fact, I could trace everywhere this computer had been in the past year … and that’s when I became completely disgusted.   So I did what all of us do. I pointed my internet browser toward searching for a flexible yet thorough solution to computer cleansing needs.

After looking at the products on the market, I found Webroot’s Window Washer offered the most options and greatest user flexibility. I can wipe down just a few temp folders, or I can thoroughly clean and “bleach” all the traces of information left in my computer’s pockets completely and confidently erasing them permanently! Window Washer also give you a system eraser that enables the user to create a bootable cd/floppy that can be inserted into computer to completely remove all contents.  Even a reformat can’t do that.

Window Washer’s user interface is extremely easy to use.  All categories are divided into sections that can be checked or unchecked at any time.  For those who consider themselves technologically impaired, like me, Webroot has made the program pretty self explanatory.  If you mouse over a section, a short description will appear explaining what type of files would be located here to help assist you in deciding if that particular area is one you think Window Washer should clean.  Also, cleanings are completely customizable for either manual, daily or scheduled tasks. It’s really simple to customize the programs and once you set your schedule, you can forget about it!  Window Washer takes care of the rest for you. 

Also included in this program is a nifty feature that allows you to right click on any file on your computer and instantly shred it. (Yes really shred the file, not like the other software programs I mentioned previously).

To anyone who may be skeptical about whether or not Window Washer can do what it says it can do, Webroot give you a 30 day free trial to test drive the program.  I think you’ll be as surprised and amazed as I was about how much extra junk and personal information your computer is toting around without you even knowing about. It’s a real shame to know that your PC, to a even a novice hacker, knows more about you than your significant other! Scary, huh?

All in all, I couldn’t be happier with the added security I now have on my machine with the use of Window Washer. The peace of mind knowing that all traces of what I read, where I went, what I was working on, and where I logged in to is well worth the cost of the program. With all the phony security programs out there that just don’t do what they claim, I really do find it comforting to know when Window Washer says clean … your PC is clean … period!

Connecting two wireless access points

September 13th, 2007

I had a couple of dead spots in my house with my wireless signal and wanted to get a little more coverage in the house. I already had a Linksys WAP54g wireless access point so I went out and grabbed another one. Here are the steps that I did to have 2 wireless access points connected to my network:

Read the rest of this entry »

Backup your PC’s hard drive

September 6th, 2007

A friend of mine called me a couple of days ago to tell me about this great hard drive backup service called “Mozy Online Backup for Home”.  Until this time, I have never heard about this service.  My friend Joe explained that this program backs up all of his files and stores them at an off site location.  He found this service a few weeks ago when his computer crashed and he lost a lot of important information and work.  Joe was so enthusiastic about this service from Mozy that I had to see it for myself. 

I don’t always practice what I preach about backing up important information from my hard drive.  Often I find it to be a pain in the butt to back up my files, so I figured I would give Mozy’s service a try.  I will admit that at first I was a bit skeptical because I run the Windows Vista 64 Bit operating system.  I expected to receive a message telling me that this service was not compatible with my operating system.  To my surprise, I was wrong.  The software was downloaded and installed quickly on my machine with no issues.  Within ten minutes I had the program up and running on my computer.

I have been very impressed with Mozy’s online backup service for my home.  Now I don’t have to worry about my computer being backed up or even storing CD’s or tape cartridges down at my local bank because the program is always running in the background storing my important documents, photos and music at a secured site.

I did find one drawback to Mozy’s program.  You are not able to backup data from external hard drives.  I have a networkable hard drive that is attached to my home network using an Ethernet cable.  I can’t back up this information while taking care of the files on my internal hard drive.  If I want this information backed up, I will have to move this information to my computer.  While an extra step in the process, it is not so difficult that I wouldn’t use this service.  In fact, I think this service overall is a home run.

If you too are a bit skeptical about using an online backup service, one of the great things about Mozy is that you can use it for free.  You are allowed to use the service to backup 2 gigs of data for one PC no charge.  Mozy won’t even ask you for a credit card number when you sign up for the free service.  If you like the service (like I do), you can go ahead and purchase the unlimited backup service for a little under $55.00 a year or even get a bigger discount if you purchase it for two years.  While not free, if you have additional computers on your home network you can add them to your service for an additional cost. 

I would strongly recommend Mozy’s Online Backup for Home for anyone interested in an easy way to protect their important computer files.

Ultimate Cleaner

September 5th, 2007

Today I came across an interesting program called Ultimate Cleaner.  I had a customer who was complaining that they get getting popup notices that their computer was infected with trojan.looksky and they needed to download a protection program to remove the infection.  When I got to the house I immediately noticed that it looked like one of those cheesy fake alerts.  Their background was changed to red (to indicate an emergency situation) and had a notice that the computer was having problems.

McAffee was installed on the computer but the subscription had expired which was probably the reason that they got infected with Ultimate Cleaner.  We loaded Spy Sweeper with Antivirus protection on the computer and started the scan process.  Spy Sweeper indicated that the computer had Trojan-Ace-X which has the ability to download program to the computer, Troj/Pmwdl-Gen (Virus) and of course Ultimate Cleaner (this appear to be a rogue spyware removal program).  It took a couple of scans on the computer to clean the infection off until the infection went away.

Something to keep in mind is if you have a computer setup for your children, it is a good idea to make sure the computer is running correctly.  I got a laugh when one of the children stated that “they remember seeing a notice about their McAffee being expired”.  Just like a typical teenager, he failed to tell his parents to renew the subscription.  Keeping your computer running properly by having Anti-Virus, Spyware and Firewall protection will save you a lot of time and money in the long run.

Yes I do sell Spy Sweeper, but I do because it simply works!