Monthly Archives: November 2009

SUPERAntiSpyware Free Edition – Knocks Malware DEAD!

image A recent question from a reader, in which he wondered why his antimalware application of choice, (an outstanding antimalware application, in my view), is rarely rated by the “major” review sites, confirmed for me, what I’ve noticed in the last few years.

When it comes to antimalware reviews and recommendations, from many of the larger review site, it’s often “the same old, same old”. The same old applications – the same old recommendations.

Independent reviews, on the other hand, under “real world” conditions, are frequently at odds with these “impartial” reviews. I have my own suspicions as to why this is. If you think I’m a cynic ……. well, in this case you’re right.

There are a number of antimalware applications, operating under real world conditions, that consistently outperform what might be termed the “Big 3”. One of these strong performers, frequently mentioned by knowledgeable techie readers on this site, is SUPERAntiSpyware.

Just like these knowledgeable techie readers, I’m a big fan of SUPERAntiSpyware, both the free version and the professional version, having run long term testing on three systems – using both XP Pro and Windows 7.

The free version of this award winning program, with its easy to employ interface, is used by millions of people worldwide to protect their computers. Typical weekly downloads of the free version, on CNET alone, for example, exceed 12,000.

SuperAntispyware 1

A simple, intuitive, and easy to use interface makes SUPERAntiSpyware straightforward to setup, customize and run, for both less experienced and expert users alike. It truly is – dead simple.

One extra feature in this anti-malware product caught my attention; a repair function which allows the user to recover settings frequently wrecked by malware, and which are often not recoverable despite removal of the malware. These settings include Internet connections, lost desktops, the ability to edit the registry and frustratingly, access to the task manager.

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Since SUPERAntiSpyware (the free version), does not provide real time protection against infection, I would not recommend then, that you use this free version of SUPERAntiSpyware as a stand alone security application since it simply will not offer you total protection. Instead, use it as an on-demand scanner.

Despite the lack of real-time protection in the free version, SUPERAntiSpyware deserves its reputation as a first class security application, and I highly recommend that you add it to your security toolbox as a secondary line of defense.

As a full fledged security application, with all of its features unlocked; real-time protection, scheduled scanning, and scheduled updating, SUPERAntiSpyware is very well priced at $29.95 US.

SuperAntispyware 3

Fast facts:

High malware detection rate

Small footprint and low resource usage

Easy to setup, customize and run

Custom scanning of hard drives, removable drives, memory, registry, and more

Detects and removes spyware, adware, malware, Trojans, dialers, worms, keyloggers, rootkits and hijackers

Free for personal use

Prevents potentially harmful software from installing or re-installing (paid version only)

Examines over 50 critical system points on start up and shut down (paid version only)

System Requirements: Windows 98, 98SE, ME, 2000, XP, 2003, Vista, Windows 7

Download at: SUPERAntiSpyware

Note: You will have a choice of downloads – you may download the professional version for a 3o day trial, or the free version.

Bonus: SUPERAntiSpyware Online Safe Scan is a new online scanning service which will detect, and remove, more than 1,000,000 malware threats, and in a recent series of tests I ran, proved to be a speed demon. The average speed to spin through 42 GB was an impressive 17 minutes.

Download at: SUPERAntiSpyware

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Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Free Anti-malware Software, Free Security Programs, Freeware, Internet Safety Tools, Software Trial Versions, Spyware - Adware Protection, System Security, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 30, 2009

5 Must Have Google Chrome Extensions – While Google hasn’t officially released their own repository to download extensions yet (although you can officially submit them here), third-party sites such as Chrome Extensions have a large repository of extensions ready for you to download.

The Best Smartphones on Every Carrier (Full List) - For the first time ever, every major carrier in the US actually has smartphones worth buying, meaning you don’t have to break up to get a good phone. Here’s the best phones on each one, along with the best deals.

New Exploit Masquerades As Flash Player Upgrade – Phishing campaign has hit more than 3.5 million mailboxes, researchers say.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Windows 7 Sales Beat Mac OS X Market Share - Microsoft’s newest OS entry jumps ahead of the Mac’s market numbers, one tracking firm reports.

Cyber Monday Deals Are Go! – Missed the Black Friday rush, or nothing really catch your eye? You might still be in luck. Cyber Monday is when online retailers are supposed to shine. Here’s a list of big-brand deal pages that just went live.

The Futuristic Design of the Notebook Computer – Recently a friend and lifelong schoolmate of mine pointed me to this video which very well could be the futuristic design of notebook PC’s; called a Rolltop.

Torrent Giant Mininova Forced to Go Legit – Mininova, one of the largest peer-to-peer file-sharing sites next to The Pirate Bay, has now removed most of its links to copyrighted content.

Proper use of English could get a virus past security – Hackers could evade most existing antivirus protection by hiding malicious code within ordinary text, according to security researchers.

Cloud wars: Winner-take-all? – The first round of the cloud wars is taking shape. Companies are choosing sides to pick up partners that have needed weapons. But what about the vendors? And standards?

Off Topic:

How to Buy a Camcorder: Video – Whether you want shots of your new baby or to be the next Stanley Kubrick, there’s a digital camcorder out there for you.

How to Buy a Flat-Screen TV: Video – Our video buying guide tells you what to look for when shopping.

How to Remove Your Most Embarrassing Moments from Google – You can’t get Google to stop crawling the internet, but you do have some control what content it can see. Here’s a guide to making sure Google searches for your name show only your classy side.

How to Optimize BitTorrent To Outwit Traffic Shaping ISPs – These days, nothing worries an internet service provider more than peer-to-peer file trading. Depending on where you live, P2P can account for between 50 and 75% of broadband internet traffic. We mostly have the popularity of BitTorrent to thank for this crazy amount of data going to and fro.

How To Get On Digg – People often ask, “how can I get my story onto the front page?” We do now have data, as to what title words are the most popular, among the stories that made the front page.

Today’s Quote:

“When you’re one step ahead of the crowd you’re a genius. When you’re two steps ahead, you’re a crackpot.”

-     Rabbi Shlomo Riskin

Today’s Free Downloads:

WindowsPager - Virtual desktops help you keep open programs organized by putting each one into a separate virtual space. You can have your Web browser and e-mail in one desktop, and then switch to another that holds your word processing windows, for instance. WindowsPager provides four such virtual desktops.

Windows Live Sync – Want to synchronize your laptop with more than one other desktop or laptop–without spending a dime? Then give the free Windows Live Sync a try. With it, you’ll be able to synch folders between as many computers as you want, and won’t have to pay a penny for it.

Hotspot Shield – Feeling safe when you connect to a hot spot at cafe, airport, or some other public location? You shouldn’t. There are plenty of potential dangers lurking there, including nearby hackers who may try to sniff your packets, or figure out other ways to snoop at what you’re doing online. Particularly dangerous is if you visit any Web sites and type in your user name and password–they could be hijacked.

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Free License Giveaway – Handy Backup Server Edition

Handy Backup Server – Enterprise network backup software for workstation data backup.

As part of our continuing “backup your data campaign”, we have arranged with Novosoft, to give away one free license (retail value $599 U.S.), for Handy Backup Server Edition.

To enter the contest, simply add a comment at the end of this article. On December 16, 2009, all comments will be added to the online List Randomizer, and the first name that comes up, will win a free license for this terrific backup application.

You don’t need to write a paragraph – “enter me in the contest”, or similar, is enough. Good luck!

Regular readers please note – this article was originally posted November 22, 2009.

Why Handy Backup Server enterprise network edition, is the right application for those tough backup jobs.

image Operating a small/medium sized business has always been a tough job. But, the unstable economy that we are all forced to content with, has made a tough job, even tougher.

The bottom line, always a major consideration, now looms ever larger in the background. But investing in the right technologies can deliver operational, and productivity efficiencies, that can flow straight to the bottom line.

Backup solutions, for example, don’t have to be a cost center. A strong and aggressive backup strategy, effectively implemented, can have a measureable effect on the bottom line by impacting positively on system administrator productivity.

Choosing the right backup solution and service provider then, has taken on a new importance. One in which cost savings can be realized through system administration productivity growth.

Handy Backup Server, from Novosoft, is a complete server-based network backup solution for small business enterprises. This application is designed to allow the user to back up and recover data stored on both central servers and remote computers, on a client-server scheme, and has multiple server-specific functions.

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Workstation backup tasks can run as a service under Windows 2008/2003 Server, or Vista/XP/2000 seamlessly, and will not interfere  with employees’ work.

Handy Backup Server allows the enterprise to backup not only individual files and folders, but in addition, creates drive images – backups of the operating system and all applications.

All workstation backup tasks are fully automated, and run with low system priority – making it easy to perform backup tasks during operational hours.

A  Comprehensive user interface provides easy, step-by-step, adjustment of network backup – including compression, encryption and flexible task scheduling options. E-mail notifications, command line interface, and log file generation, makes the system administrator’s  task management easy and efficient.

As well as file, folder and HDD imaging, this application features plug-ins for backing up MS Exchange, MS SQL, DB2 databases and Lotus Notes/Domino data, stored on the central server. Additionally, the user can back up Oracle database and ODBC-compatible databases, which can be located on both a local server, and remote workstations.

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Data transferred to the central server can be stored on the widest range of backup media: the user can backup to FTP, SFTP, Network, FireWire and USB hard/flash drives, CD, DVD, Blu-Ray, HD DVD and much more. Detailed online help is available.

Centralized workstation backup and fast system recovery ability, distinguish Handy Backup Server from other network backup software. Handy Backup Server carries the “Certified for Windows Vista” and “Works with Windows Server 2008″ logos and is acknowledged as one of the best tools for backup and recovery of the entire office network, or local server.

Fast facts:

Image backup – snapshot of entire hard drive contents including all programs and data files

Hot database backup through ODBC protocol

Backup of Lotus Notes/Domino databases

MS Exchange Server Backup

Client-server network backup – centralized workstation backup managed by one enterprise backup server

Backup of email directly from the server

Support for backup to CD-R/CD-RW, backup to DVD/Blu-ray/HD DVD media; remote FTP backup, secure SFTP backup; local and network drives; ZIP, JAZ, MO; flash drives; HDD and floppy disks, USB drive

Registry Backup

Data Restore

ICQ Backup plug-in

128-bit encryption support

E-mail notification on operation results

System requirements: Windows 2000/XP/2003/Vista

You can download a full-featured 30-day trial by clicking on the following link:

Download Handy Backup 30 day trial

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Filed under Backup Applications, Backup Tools, Contests, downloads, Software, Software Trial Versions, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 29, 2009

24 Great Open Source Apps for Admins & Technicians - I’m always on the lookout for apps that can ease my workload or free up some room in my budget, and open source applications are an excellent way for me to accomplish both.

Top 10 Cross-Platform Apps that Run on Windows, OS X, Linux, and More - Whether your important data lives in the cloud, on your laptop, or on a different operating system, you shouldn’t have to use sub-par tools to get at it. These downloads work with every major operating system, along with some not-so-major (mobile) ones.

CNET cheapskate: Gameloft’s iPhone games on sale for 99 cents – To celebrate Thanksgiving weekend, the prolific game developer is offering titles like Blades of Fury, NFL 2010, Real Tennis 2009, and Shrek Kart for just a buck apiece.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Mozilla issues near-final Thunderbird 3 – Mozilla Messaging has released the first release candidate of a Thunderbird 3, software it hopes will significantly improve how people read, write, catalog, and search their e-mail.

At its best, is open source unbeatable? – When an open-source project is working optimally, can proprietary-software companies hope to compete?

77 Percent Of Facebook Fan Pages Have Under 1,000 Fans – In this age of instant Internet celebrity, anyone can become famous for 15 seconds (to rework Andy Warhol’s oft-quoted maxim). But what does famous mean exactly when anyone can have a Facebook fan page – those public pages on Facebook set up by brands, media outlets, celebs, and wanna-be celebs.

New Banking Trojan: A Nasty And Formidable Foe – Malware is getting more and more sophisticated. Bent on destruction, it is seemingly immune to modern weapons. One such Trojan horse program is very sophisticated and it keeps reinventing itself in its greedy quest to empty bank accounts.

Seven alternatives to fend off P2P withdrawal – You should be well aware by now that you can’t stop piracy, you can only displace traffic from one site or service to another. Napster shuts down; Kazaa springs up. Suprnova shuts down; Mininova emerges from the ashes. With each and every iteration of P2P the pirates grow stronger and the distribution channels more efficient and secure.

The Year Of The Mega Data Breach – In 2009, a small number of data leaks exposed more personal information than ever before. Glance at 2009’s data breach statistics, and you might think the IT world had scored a rare win in the endless struggle against cybercrime.

Off Topic:

Humor: Geek Squad’s Real Agenda Exposed – In this exclusive, never-before-seen training footage from The Geek Squad, the horrible truth of their agenda is finally revealed.

How a HS Dropout Became the Youngest Boss at Apple – James Bach, a legend in the software-testing field, just published Secrets of a Buccaneer-Scholar, the tale of how he dropped out of school, became a self-taught games programmer, and scored a sweet gig at Apple – all before turning 21.

This holiday, who’s looking out for online shoppers? – Web shoppers are in need of a digital-age Ralph Nader, the kind of firebrand consumer advocate who can focus public scorn on unscrupulous merchants. Last week, the U.S. Senate Commerce committee revealed that some of the Web’s best-known retailers, including Barnes & Noble, Hotwire, Yahoo, Pizza Hut, Travelocity, Fandango, and Victoria’s Secret, were part of a dubious marketing operation designed to mislead their own customers.

Today’s Quote:

“Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions”.

- G. K. Chesterton

Today’s Free Downloads:

Speak Clipboard: Reads Your Clipboard’s Content Out Loud – Professional writers often read their work out loud to make sure it flows well and sounds coherent. If you want to kick back and have the reading done for you, then give Speak Clipboard a try.

Foxit Reader – To put it gently, Adobe Reader is a real pain in the hindquarters. It’s monstrously large, slow to load, and includes many features most users will hardly ever need. Foxit PDF Reader 3.0 kills the bloat and throws in some useful features, such as multimedia support and content-sharing options, while still allowing you to quickly access your PDFs.

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Google Pack Software – The Good, the Bad and the Useless

Google Pack 2 The applications offered in Google Pack are an interesting compilation of  freebies – some of them are quite useful and  worthwhile adding to your system. On the other hand, some of them are not only useless, but are potentially hazardous to your system security.

The good:

Google Chrome Web Browser:

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Google has developed an impressive browser with a focus on speed strong integrated search features. I’ll stick with Firefox though since I find Chrome just a little too simply for the type of work that I do. Some consider Chrome the safest browser available, but this conclusion is definitely subjective.

Google Apps:

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Cloud computing is where it’s at, or soon will be, according to the futurists. Personally, I think the jury is still out.

Google though, has tied its wagon to the concept of cloud computing, and  Google Apps reflects this direction. Using this collection of online (cloud based) applications you can plan (Calendar), stay in touch (Gmail), and collaborate (Docs). Since these are cloud based apps you can reach them from anywhere you have an Internet connection.

I should point out that Google Apps are available for business and education. Both are enhanced versions of the free personal version.

Note: Google will soon be releasing Google Wave, an additional online tool for real-time communication and collaboration. For more information on Wave, checkout Scoroncocolo TechPages.

Spyware Doctor with Anti-Virus:

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The version of the highly regarded Spyware Doctor with Anti-Virus included in Google Pack, does include full scan and remove capabilities, scheduled scans, database updates, but only limited real-time protection from both spyware and viruses.

I’ve reviewed this application a number of times, and consider it an outstanding secondary scanner. However, I do not recommend that you use this restricted version as a primary defense against malware, because of its limited real-time protection .

Picasa:

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Some might say that Picasa is the best free piece of photo managing and editing software you can find. Up to a point I agree. As a basic photo manager and viewer, it’s pretty terrific.

Bonus features include a full complement of editing tools, supplemented with the ability to create photo CDs, photo collages, screensavers, and posters. Not bad for a free application!

Mozilla Firefox with Google Toolbar:

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If you’re looking for  a Browser that you can customize to your hearts content, then download Firefox. There are literally thousands of totally free ways to customize Firefox to meet all of your personal needs. The big advantage to Firefox, in my view, is the ability you have to customize this Browser with security add-ons that raise the security bar substantially.

P.S. Forget about the Google Toolbar.

Skype:

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Skype has become my preferred method of contact. I use the free Skype video calling feature, dozens of times a day to speak with contacts worldwide.

In its basic form, Skype is a free communication package, using proprietary code, which allows users to make free computer to computer calls, including video calls, across the globe. As well, there are a bundle of additional features, that can be purchased at a low cost, which will expand the application’s functionality.

Google Talk:

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Google Talk is a cool application that includes Instant messaging, PC-to-PC voice chat , the ability to send, receive and leave voicemails,  along with unlimited file transfers (no file size or bandwidth restrictions).

Maybe I’m just old fashioned, but I prefer single purpose applications, and I would choose Skype over Google Talk.

Google Earth 5:

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I couldn’t say it better than Google so, “Google Earth lets you fly anywhere on Earth to view satellite imagery, maps, terrain, 3D buildings, from galaxies in outer space to the canyons of the ocean. You can explore rich geographical content, save your toured places, and share with others”.

This is truly an amazing piece of technology – I just never get tired of it!

The bad:

Google Toolbar for Internet Explorer:

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I have seen machines with more than 20+ installed toolbars, and this type of nonsensical download is one of the reasons why. Another toolbar? Lord help us!

Google Desktop:

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According to Google with desktop installed you can – “Find all your email, files, web history, and more. Get all your personalized info in one place with Sidebar”. So what could be wrong with that?

Well, if privacy and security is a concern – plenty. eSecurity Planet has a great article that exposes the major downside of installing this “spyware” on your computer. If you’re considering installing this program, I encourage you to checkout “Google Desktop: Next Big Thing or Dangerous Tool?”, first.

The ugly:

Adobe Reader:

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Without a doubt, one of the most hacked pieces of  software – ever! That’s bad enough, but Adobe, for all intents and purposes, seems not to care. On top of that, this application is the very definition of “bloatware”.

Don’t even consider this program. Instead, choose one of a number of much faster, more streamlined free application such as Foxit Reader, for Firefox, or Sumatra PDF Viewer for Windows.

RealPlayer:

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If you need a clunky, slow, ugly player, and you are the type of person who likes to be nagged constantly, then this application will give you what you want. If you think I’m being tough on this piece of crap, then read PC Mag’s “The 25 Worst Tech Products of All Time”.

VLC Media Player, on the other hand, an open source cross platform application, is a long recognized superior performer that gives you frame-by-frame advancement, granular speed controls allowing for on-the-fly slower or faster playback, and live recording of streaming video.VLC offers support for a wide range of video and audio formats, including OGG, MP2, MP3, MP4, DivX, HD codecs like AES3, Raw Dirac, and even support for playing back zipped files.

Google Apps System requirements: Windows XP, Vista Win 7

Google Pack

Download at: Google

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Filed under Cloud Computing Applications, Freeware, Google Chrome, Google Pack, Google Software, Image Editors, Multimedia Tools, Productivity Software, Software, Spyware - Adware Protection, Windows Tips and Tools

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 28, 2009

Hackers exploit Tiger Woods car accident to spread malware – Cybercriminals have wasted no time taking advantage of the news that the world’s number one golfer, Tiger Woods, has been involved in a car accident outside his house in Florida.

New Facebook Worm Warning: Wanna See Something Hot? - A new Facebook worm is making the rounds today, with a brilliant landing page that has already caused many infections.

Windows 7 Functions and Settings In A Box – Have you ever been frustrated with navigating the operating system in an effort to find a specific function or setting? You know it is there, but just can’t seem to remember where exactly you saw it and how you got there. With the recent public release of Windows 7 I am sure many of you are finding yourselves in that type of situation.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Backing-up Your Photos, Music and Files for Free – Your hard drive will eventually fail. So you need to backup your files. Why not do it for free?

Five tips for safe Web shopping – Web shoppers are a suspicious lot. That’s the conclusion of a recent poll conducted by Zogby International and funded by Symantec and the National Cyber Security Alliance. The survey found that 63 percent of online shoppers abandoned a purchase due to security concerns.

One-Third of Laptops Fail After Three Months – SquareTrade, a provider of PC extended warranty services, studied the failure rates of the most widely used notebook computers. The results are startling. One in three notebooks will fail within three years. Here’s a look at the reliability and failure rate results among the top PC manufacturers.

Seven Deadly Sins of Social Networking – Social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn can be incredibly useful tools for those in the channel to connect with clients, prospects, vendors and even future employers. But every rose has its thorns. The extremely informal nature of social networking communication tends to invite participants to let their guard down.

Employees Willing To Steal Data; Companies On The Alert – Separate studies offer a scary glimpse into the minds of employees, management.

Is Google Chrome the Official Start of the Cloud Era? – Google Chrome is being dismissed by competitors and analysts, but it may just be the official beginning of the cloud computing era by freeing users from big, heavy PCs and operating systems.

Off Topic:

Video Games Help Real CSI Solve Crimes – Soon, real criminal investigation teams will be using video game technology to help forensic scientists collaborate virtually to re-create what happened at the scene of the crime.

Cracked: 5 Disturbing Ways the Human Body Will Evolve in the Future – We don’t think of ourselves as changing: We’re the same basic meat popsicles we’ve always been. But some of the surprising changes that the future holds in store for the human body are ball-shatteringly disturbing, so you’d better have an iron stomach if you plan on reading this (though if not, don’t worry; that’s probably in the pipeline too).

6 Online IQ Tests Created by Complete Morons – For the past year, lunatics have been buying up ad space around the Internet to tell us how stupid we are. Their banners are as ubiquitous as they are crazy– optical illusions, broken English riddles, and fake email notifications that all lead to the same site– OfficialIQquiz.com.

The World Has A New Strongest Beer: Tactical Nuclear Penguin – The 32% abv brew, called Tactical Nuclear Penguin (great name), takes over the mantle as the world’s strongest beer from German concoction Schorschbraerm which weighs in at a measly 31% abv.

Today’s Quote:

“Misery no longer loves company. Nowadays, it insists on it”.

- Russell Baker

Today’s Free Downloads:

EnhanceMySe7en Free – Although Windows 7 may be easier to use than Vista or XP, performing diagnostic and maintenance chores remains tricky. EnhanceMySe7en Free is a utility bundle for anyone interested in doing a little system housekeeping.

Paragon Partition Manager Express – Partition Manager Express 10 has some unique features, and I found the program rock solid in my testing. PME 10 offers only two options: Create and Resize. These are not your run-of-the-mill functions–both work on drives that are already fully partitioned. If you have the need for such a program, this freebie’s a good bet.

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Personal Protector Fake Antivirus, Autoit.HW and Autorun.JOE worms – Panda Security Takes a Look

Courtesy of Panda Security: This week’s PandaLabs report looks at Personal Protector fake antivirus, and the Autoit.HW and Autorun.JOE worms.

Removal help for Personal Protector fake antivirus follows later in this article.

Personal Protector, is a fake antivirus (a type of adware). As with all such malware, it simulates a scan of the computer and claims to detect a series of threats, which is completely untrue. It then offers users the option of eliminating the (non-existent) malware, using a pay version of the fake antivirus.

Once again, the aim of the cyber-crooks is to profit financially from this fraudulent application. Every time users try to remove the malware, supposedly detected on their system, or update components of the application, they will be asked for a payment.

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Autoit.HW is a worm that spreads through spoof Web pages and emails which trick users into installing the malware on their computers. It can also spread through removable USB drives. In this case, it takes advantage of the autoplay feature of removable drives to execute even if users have not run the executable file.

Once the computer has been infected with this malware, it disables the
task manager, so that users cannot see active processes on the system. The worm does this in order to hide itself.

With the same aim, it also disables the Windows Registry editor and folder options, so that users cannot change the option to see hidden files, or file extensions.

Autorun.JOE is another worm which, like the previous one, spreads via
email and removable drives. After infecting a computer, it takes the
following malicious actions:

- Disables the task manager
– Disables Windows Registry management tools
– Disables the option to view hidden files.
– Disables the option to view hidden system files.

More information about these and other malicious codes is available in the Panda Security Encyclopedia. You can also follow Panda Security’s online activity on its Twitter and PandaLabs blog.

Personal Protector Removal Instructions:

If you have become infected by Personal Protector, or other scareware (rogue software), have your PC worked on by a certified computer technician, who will have the tools, and the competency, to determine if the infection can be removed without causing system damage. Computer technicians do not provide services at no cost, so be prepared for the costs involved.

If you feel you have the necessary skills, and you want to try your hand at removal, then by all means do so.

The following free resources can provide tools and the advice you will need to attempt removal.

Malwarebytes, a very reliable anti-malware company, offers a free version of Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware, a highly rated anti-malware application which is capable of removing many newer rogue applications.

411 Spyware – a site that specializes in malware removal. I highly recommend this site.

Bleeping Computer – a web site where help is available for many computer related problems, including the removal of rogue software. This is another site I highly recommend.

SmitFraudFix, available for download at Geekstogo is a free tool that is continuously updated to assist victims of rogue security applications.

What you can do to reduce the chances of infecting your system with rogue, or malicious, software.

Be careful in downloading freeware or shareware programs. Spyware is occasionally concealed in these programs. Download this type of program only through reputable web sites such as Download.com, or sites that you know to be safe.

Consider carefully the inherent risks attached to peer-to-peer (P2P), or file sharing applications.

Install an Internet Browser add-on that provides protection against questionable or unsafe websites. My personal favorite is Web of Trust, an Internet Explorer/FireFox add-on, that offers substantial protection against questionable or unsafe websites.

Do not click on unsolicited invitations to download software of any kind.

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Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Antivirus Applications, Browser add-ons, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Email, email scams, Free Anti-malware Software, Freeware, internet scams, Internet Security Alerts, Malware Advisories, Malware Removal, Manual Malware Removal, Panda Security, PandaLabs, Rogue Software, Rogue Software Removal Tips, Scareware Removal Tips, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

Malware Removal Tips – Experience From the Trenches

Guest writer Mark Schneider gives you the best advice you’ll ever get on malware removal – “when it comes to malware removal, use a shotgun – not a rifle”.

image Cleaning an infected computer is a challenge. Unfortunately, malware writers are talented, and that translates into real trouble if your machine gets infected.

Many computers ship with large all-in-one security suites. These all-in-one programs look good on a checklist comparison in PC Magazine, but I prefer to use a variety of free programs from different vendors, each using a slightly different method of cleaning a machine, which gives you the best chance of finding all the bad files.

Recently, I had to deal with a Lenovo Thinkpad my daughter had been using – the laptop is a spare machine I use only occasionally, and had just been given a clean install of Windows XP.

After my daughter had finished using it, I did a routine scan using Malwarebytes, a very good free anti-spyware program. The initial scan found 15 infections, including some Rootkits, which can be very difficult to remove. Malwarebytes told me I needed to reboot the computer to finish the removal. I complied and rescanned.

Malwarebytes 1

Same results, same Trojans, same Rootkits, so I scanned with Microsoft’s Security Essentials, a new free anti-virus Microsoft recently released. Security Essentials found nothing at all, so I tried a new (to me) website, virustotal.com.

MS Security Essentials

Virustotal allows you to upload suspicious files to scan to determine if they are a threat or, possibly a false positive. I uploaded the file that was showing up the most frequently on the quick scans. Virustotal scans the file using over 40 different malware removal engines. Only one engine, McAfee Virus scan, found the file to be suspicious so I was beginning to think I might have a false positive. But, the fact that the file kept reappearing was very suspicious. Now I needed to get serious.

Virus Total 2

The next step was to run CCleaner a very good registry, and temporary file cleaner. CCleaner will make virus scans faster, and may delete files that are allowing a possible payload to reload when you restart the computer.

ccleaner2

After using CCleaner, I installed Superantispyware Free, a program that I always install as one as my primary tools to combat spyware. The fact that this computer was a fresh rebuild was the only reason I hadn’t installed it yet.

Installing and running Superantispyware goes very fast – it’s a great program that is the favorite of many computer technicians. Super lived up to its reputation, and found a number of problems, including one Trojan with multiple registry entries.

SuperAntispyware 1

Rebooting the machine after Superantispyware ran, finally yielded some results. Additional scans from Superantispyware, and Malwarebytes, came up clean.

My next test is to run HijackThis. HijackThis is a very powerful tool which must be handled with care. Installing HijackThis is simple; using it effectively is another story. The best method, for most people, is to run HijackThis and create a log file. Next, post this file to a web site where experts can parse your results and determine if you still have any suspicious files.

hijackthis

My preferred site is HijackThis.de – the site is primarily in German, but don’t let that deter you. They have a scanner which will scan your log file in real time and give you a good idea, right away, if HijackThis has found anything.

If you have run, and re-run your scanning tools, run a HijackThis, and everything comes up looking okay, you’re probably malware free. But for the next few reboots, you should continue to make sure your anti-malware programs are up to date, and keep rescanning periodically.

Most malware these days wants to hide in the background. You may be infected and never know your machine is stealing your passwords, and draining your bank account. So stay safe, keep your data backed up, and if you get infected, use as many tools as it takes to get secure again.

This is a guest post by Mark Schneider of the Techwalker Blog, who brings a background as a high level techie, to the blogging world.

Why not pay a visit to Mark’s site today.

If you enjoyed this article, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

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Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Antivirus Applications, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Free Anti-malware Software, Freeware, Malware Removal, Software, System Security, Windows Tips and Tools

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 27, 2009

Notebooks You Can Count On – And Some You Can’t – SquareTrade, a provider of PC extended warranty services, studied the failure rates of the most widely used notebook computers. The results are startling. One in three notebooks will fail within three years. Here’s a look at the reliability and failure rate results among the top PC manufacturers.

How to Fix Your Relatives’ Terrible Computer - Drop your bags, grab a drink, and grab the XP CD – it’s time for the holiday ritual of fixing up your relatives’ computer. Here are some tips and downloads to keep handy while you’re cursing all the auto-starting crapware.

The Google-TiVo Deal: What It Means For You – Google and TiVo are teaming up for a new deal that’ll put your clicking habits into the hands of advertisers. Here’s a look at how the program will work.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Opera 10.10: Web Browser and Web Server In One – With version 10.10, Opera has taken its biggest step into the unknown so far, marrying the web browser with the web server.

Does Chrome OS Spell the End of Desktops? – Now that Google has publicized details about its super-slim Chrome OS, are the desktop’s days even more numbered?

DirectX 11 and the Heaven Benchmark – DirectX 11 could make a huge difference in how the games you play look–and we’ve got screenshots to prove it.

A Closer Look at Windows 7 Security – PCMag’s security guru, Neil J. Rubenking, has taken a probing look at the spate of security features in Windows 7 and written a five-part evaluation of everything from its basic interfaces and the infamous User Account Control to its firewall and networking capabilities and BitLocker encryption.

The top 10 Vista sidebar gadgets – Not everyone is a fan of Vista gadgets, but Deb Shinder has a large collection of them that she finds extremely useful. Here are the ones that top her list of favorites.

10+ PowerToys that can expand your control of Windows XP – Not all PowerToys are right for everyone. But find the ones that make sense for you, and your Windows tasks will be a whole lot easier.

10 Firefox extensions that enhance security – Compromising Web sites has become cybercriminals’ favorite method of getting malware installed on computers. Here are 10 ways to beef-up Firefox, making it more difficult for the bad guys.

Off Topic:

Six big cell phone health risks – There are some effects beyond the potential for tumors or cancer you may have never heard of.

Muppets spoof Queen classic – Popular puppets’ spot-on parody of glam rock band’s Bohemian Rhapsody makes a big splash online. See for yourself.

Woman Injured in Power Tool Sex Toy Encounter – A southern Maryland woman was hospitalized after her partner attached a sex toy to a power tool.

Pig farts spark Australia gas scare – A flatulent pig sparked a gas emergency in southern Australia when a farmer mistook its odors for a leaking pipe, according to officials.

Honolulu police posting DUI mug shots on Internet – Mug shots of drunken driving suspects are landing on the Honolulu Police Department’s Web site, creating a virtual wall of shame long before suspects get their day in court. Supporters say the experiment in public humiliation to be launched Wednesday should be used elsewhere in the nation if it reduces the number of drunks on the road.

Today’s Quote:

“It is well to remember that the entire universe, with one trifling exception, is composed of others”.

-     John Andrew Holmes

Today’s Free Downloads:

SuperAntiSpyware Free Edition – SuperAntiSpyware, a next generation spyware product with Multi-Dimensional Scanning and Process Interrogation Technology will detect spyware and remove over 1,000,000 pests. Repair broken Internet connections, desktops, registry editing, and task manager.

Vista Codec Package 5.4.9 – With this package installed, you will be able to use any media player, limited only by the players’ capabilities to play all movies and video clips.

Win7codecs 2.1.5 – When dealing with codecs, more does not equal better. Having the least amount on your system is the best configuration. This is exactly what these packages will do for you. You will no longer be restricted to using a specific player. Windows Media Player and Media Center will be able to play all your files.

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Filed under Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 26, 2009

Lifehacker’s Guide to Making the Most of Black Friday: Black Friday – It’s a day when you can either score killer deals on gear or pay way too much for too little. The amount of planning and strategy you use is the biggest factor in whether or not you’ll get burned.

CNET cheapskate: Get a 25-inch 1080p monitor for $149.99 shipped – Lowest price ever on a 25-incher. Amazingly, it’s new, not refurbished, and you don’t have to muck around with any rebates. It even has two HDMI inputs!

HandBrake Updates to 0.9.4 with Over 1,000 Changes, 64-Bit Support – If you ever have to rip DVDs to your desktop or convert video, you know how awesome open-source encoder HandBrake is. Well, it’s just been updated with over 1,000 changes since the last release, including 64-bit support.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

New Banking Trojan Horses Gain Polish – As banks improve their ability to detect and fight fraud, the Trojan horses that criminals devise become even more sophisticated.

Advanced Antivirus – Hackers have shown that they can plant their malware even on mainstream sites–proving that you need antivirus protection now more than ever. We lab-tested eleven top security programs to find the best guardians for your PC.

Trojan Horse Behind Flash Install Spam – The latest malware spam email requests users to click on Flash download and install the “flashinstaller.exe,” but it has a banking Trojan behind it.

Microsoft Warns Of Zero-Day Flaw In Older Versions Of IE – Pointer reference flaw could enable attackers to run their own code on IE machines, software giant says.

How do I… Secure Microsoft Windows XP Professional? – Although there are dozens of steps you can take to secure your Windows XP system; these 14 reasonable steps are designed to give you the most bang for your security buck.

7 Windows 7 Printer Installation Tips – Getting your printer or MFP to run in Windows 7 will be easy if your printer is new, but older models may require troubleshooting. Here’s our expert advice.

Off Topic:

Techies Give Thanks for 15 Trailblazers – With Thanksgiving time here, eWEEK Labs analyst Jeff Cogswell has decided to put together a list of people he is thankful for. In addition to family, friends and, of course, readers, he’s thankful for the people in this slideshow, and their work in laying the path for the technologies we use today. Without these people, we’d probably still be living in the dark ages, relying on p-mail (carrier pigeon-mail) instead of e-mail. So enjoy this holiday list, which includes a short history lesson.

Great Tech Gadgets: When Spouses Collide – Your tech dream may be your significant other’s nightmare. Here are the items our married tech experts drool over (while belittling one another’s choices)

Can You Make Money with Affiliate Marketing? – If you have your own Web site or blog, you can earn extra income through affiliate marketing. We look at what’s involved and what you need to know to make some dough.

Whitelisting in Windows Moves More to Mainstream – The classic approach on PCs to malware is blacklisting: anti-malware products scan all files that come into the system to see whether they match the signature of a known-bad program. Perhaps they analyze the file for more generic bad behaviors. Everything else is allowed to proceed. This approach was never perfect, but combined with other reasonable precautions it was, and remains, an effective technique. There’s another approach, one that flips the solution on its head: whitelisting.

Today’s Quote:

A great many people think they are thinking when they are really rearranging their prejudices.

- William James

Today’s Free Downloads:

Windows Live Photo Gallery – Windows Live Photo Gallery proves that you can get world-class software without paying a dime. It has superb organizer features, including adjustable thumbnail sizes, keyword tagging, and the ability to upload photos directly to Windows Live Spaces and Flickr.

Process Explorer – The freeware utility turns out a ton of information that helps you identify running processes, including spyware.

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Filed under Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News