Monthly Archives: August 2008

Ultimate Homework Help Web Sites for Students/Parents

If you’re a student, who do you turn to for help with your homework? Back in the day (my day – seems like the Dark Ages, looking back), I could always turn to my parents who always seemed ready to help and, better yet, almost always seemed to have the answers, or at least partial answers.

As a last resort – and for me, it always seemed like the last resort, there was the Library.

So have times changed? You bet. Recent statistics from the Canadian Council on Learning seem to indicate that two out of three parents today feel incapable of helping their children with homework, or after school assignments.

As a parent what do you do; who do you turn to?

As a student since it’s unlikely you can turn to a parent; what do you do?

According to a recent Pew Internet and American Life Project study, you both turn to the Internet. The study’s research revealed that the Internet has become an increasingly important feature of the learning environment for teenagers and is used as an essential study aid outside the classroom.

Students and parents report that the Internet is vital to completing school projects, and has effectively replaced the library for a large number of online students. As many as 71% of students surveyed report using the Internet as their primary source for researching, and completing major projects.

If you’re a student, or the parent of a student, bookmark the following web sites which will provide comprehensive and reliable educational information that can be used to research school projects, and homework assignments.

MSN Encarta

The free MSN Encarta site features more than 4,500 articles pooled from Microsoft Encarta and comes with dictionaries, maps, fast facts, interactive quizzes, handy homework tools, and more.


Since 1995,, has served as a one-click springboard to many of the Web’s top dictionaries, encyclopedias, calculators, atlases, news headlines, and search engines. The site also includes a handy “homework helper” section that provides help in all subjects for students in every grade.


Have you ever wanted to know why an earthquake occurs? How CD burners work? What the sun is made of? These questions and a large number of others related to computers/electronics, automobiles, science, entertainment, and people, are all answered at this award-winning Web site. Simply type a query into the search window or peruse the topics by category. Extras include free newsletters, surveys, and printable versions of all answers.

The Web’s answer to those black- and yellow-striped Cliff Notes is, a reliable and free source for literary analysis of classic and contemporary books. The site offers character profiles, metaphor and theme analysis, and author biographies.

This site provides help in mathematics-related subjects, including basic grade-school math, calculus, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and statistics. Practice exercises are automatically graded, and this free site also features a glossary, calculators, homework tips, math games, and lesson plans for teachers.

Wolfram Mathworld

With more than 12,600 entries this is one of the most extensive mathematics resources on the Internet.

Free Translation

Perfect for language studies, this handy Web site automatically converts text from one language to another. Just type and paste up to 1,800 words into the search window and then select the desired language. Alternatively, you can cut and paste a Web URL to convert the entire site.

No Fear Shakespeare

No Fear Shakespeare puts Shakespeare’s language side-by-side with a facing-page translation into modern English—the kind of English people actually speak today.

Science Made Simple

Science classes aren’t as easy for some to grasp as for others. At Science Made Simple, students of all ages can get detailed answers to many of science’s questions, read current news articles related to science, get ideas for school projects, and take advantage of unit conversion tables.

Added by my friend TechPaul of Aplus Computer Aid, Menlo Park, California.

If I may add? Wiley Publishing has made the collection of Cliff Notes available free online– and made the site an excellent test-prep resource.


Filed under Homework Help Sites, Interconnectivity, Parenting Help, Student Help, Timesaving Tips, Windows Tips and Tools

The PC Doc Pro Horror Picture Show – WOT Demolishes the Lie!

What to do….what to do? You’ve gone ahead and completed a clean install of Windows Vista Ultimate; then installed PC Doc Pro to scan your new installation only to have it advise you that you have 572 problems! Worse, 31 of these problems, according to PC Doc Pro, are severe.

So was this result fantasy, or reality? Oh, it’s reality alright. It’s the reality of a rogue application that generates false positives.

Regular readers of this Blog are aware that I have focused recently on rogue security software. Rogue computer applications unfortunately come in all flavors; not just in the security field.

Simply put, rogue applications have been developed to mislead uninformed computer users’ into downloading and paying for the “full” version of bogus software, based on the false positives generated by the application.

Without question, PC Doc Pro is a rogue application extraordinaire. The product fixes 50 problems (false positives that it generates), for free, but to “fix” the rest of these false positives, you need to buy a 30-day license that costs $29.95.

Deborah Salmi, Marketing Executive at Web of Trust, a socially conscious company that takes its protective responsibilities to the greater Internet community very seriously, recently advised me that the company had encountered this exact situation, as described above, while testing the effectiveness of PC Doc Pro.

Curious, I did my own testing and investigation of this application, and essentially duplicated the results obtained by WOT. While I found the results disturbing, (I obviously don’t like to be lied to or have my money stolen), equally as disturbing was the realization that this crap program is available for download on, a site that I have never hesitated to recommend as a safe and ethical download site.

The developers and distributors of this bogus software are, using any definition, cyber-crooks. So the question is; how do these bas**rds get away with it?

One of the regular commentators on this Blog summed it up eloquently when he said, “The Internet has equalized the playing field internationally for the bad guys, but it has not equalized the playing field for law enforcement”. It would be difficult to disagree with this observation.

WOT as part of their corporate commitment to assist Internet users in safely surfing the jungle the Internet has now become, has just begun to develop a series of videos depicting what can happen to your computer if you visit a risky website, such as or download and install rogue software.

It’s important for your system security and frankly, your wallet, that you be aware of the dangers that applications like PC Doc Pro present, so be sure to check out the first of WOT’s videos at

For a complete review of WOT’s Internet browser add-on, take a look at “Safer Surfing With WOT – Find Out How!” on this site.


Filed under Firefox Add-ons, Interconnectivity, Internet Explorer Add-ons, Internet Safety, internet scams, Malware Advisories, Online Safety, Rogue Software, Safe Surfing, Software, System Security, Windows Tips and Tools

And Now for a Little Shameless Self Promotion

This Blog is routinely in the top 40,000 to 100,000 of all the web sites (out of approximately 320 Million), on the Internet, as per Alexa, the Amazon owned premier Internet web site rating service. As well, some 13,000+ other web sites link to this site to acquire article content for their own readers.

Thanks, to all of you who have helped make this site the success it has become.

What users’ say regarding articles on this Blog:

The best antivirus out there is your awareness, so this is an outstanding Blog.

Thanks, definitely going to use these.

I have to say — I really like a community like this — there’s not a lot of people that I know personally that understand (or are as excited about), the technical aspects of things as well as the people here. (On this Blog).

Bill — you are to be commended for having such an extensive site — not just in the breadth of subjects covered, but in the depth of the articles.

Wow. You’ve been a great help. Thanks for the post.

Good post, it’s very useful for me.

Oh, Thanks! A really amazing Blog.

Good article by an author who knows what he writes about.

Great article. It is written very distinctly. To the author, thank you.

Thank you, Bill Mullins.

A very interesting post. I really enjoyed reading it.

What an awesome Blog this is, thank you.

Thank you, Mr. Mullins for this wonderfully helpful article on such an important subject.

Thank you (again) Mr. Mullins, this tool had escaped my notice.

I appreciate these ideas.

Mr. Mullins, thank you for posting this excellent advisory.

Perfect! Right on! Yes!

This article SHOULD be read before anyone is allowed their Internet Surfer’s License.

I love the site.

Love your Blog, Bill.

You have a great Blog out there, very useful for newbies like me, thanks.

If you’re a regular reader of this Blog, thank you. If you’re not, and you’re just passing by, a thank you to you as well; think about Book Marking this site, since in the coming weeks, some exciting changes will be occurring, including extensive video coverage of new, free outstanding software offerings, and of course video coverage of all the latest malware threats that impact all of us as we roam the Internet.

For those of you who think you knew me in Utah, Cincinnati, Las Vegas, London, England; Dublin, Ireland; or 100 other places, thanks for inquiring but I’m a Canadian through and through.

Thanks for visiting.

Bill Mullins


Filed under Personal Perspective, Web Development

Free Process Quick Link 2 – Improve Windows Task Manager

Windows Task Manager is a bit of a tease. Sure it provides you with some usable information, but it falls far short of providing you with the information that you really need. It is most commonly used to display information on all processes running on your computer, as well as advising you of the CPU and memory usage stats for a giving process. Additional selective information on running applications, performance, local area connection, and on users is also available.

Most importantly, from within Task Manger you have the option of selectively killing processes. But how do you determine which processes are safe to kill based on the limited information Task Manager provides?

If you’re a skilled computer user, it’s probable you’re aware of every process running in the background, the application or service that is responsible for launching it, and the function it performs. Better yet, you probably have the know-how to selectively kill processes to optimize memory use and trim your machine for maximum performance.

But what if you’re a novice or casual computer user? Where can you get the information on running processes so that you can make an accurate assessment on whether to kill a process or not?

Fortunately, there are a number of free tools available that will help any computer user, novice or not, to determine which process/processes can be safely shut down.

One such free tool is ProcessQuickLink 2a small application (413 KB), from Uniblue Systems, the company which provides the indispensable process listing database, to the computing community free.

After downloading and installing ProcessQuickLink 2, the latest process information will be available to you directly through Windows Task Manager. Simply click on the Icon next to the process you are querying, which will now be visible in Task Manager’s process tab, and the website will be accessed where the essential information on the selected process can be viewed. The information provided is extensive enough to allow you to make an educated decision on the process.

If you’ve always wondered just what all those processes running in the background on your computer are up to, this cool little application will give you all the information you need.

Quick facts:

Instant one click access to process descriptions and advice through the Task Manager

Quickly and easily search 9000+ entries in database

New process descriptions are added on a weekly basis

System Requirements:

Windows 2000 / 2003 / XP / Vista

Internet connection and an Internet browser

Download at: Uniblue Systems


Filed under Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Interconnectivity, Software, System Process Scanners, System Utilities, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Tweak/Configure/Customize/Optimize Windows – Free!

Has Fresh UI (User Interface), been around forever, or does it just seem that way? One of the oldest and most well established free Windows tweaking applications, Freshdevices’ Fresh UI is a powerful tool that allows you to configure and optimize your version of Windows.

This small (1.24 MB) program has a clean, easy to understand interface that gives you access to hundreds of system settings, some of which are hidden, and others that are just hard to find. The interface is organized by section for easy navigation, and it is complete with detailed descriptions for easy reference.

I have heard from some users that in their view, it was not always clear what outcome they could expect with some of the selections. On the other hand, most users seem to agree that the help file is fairly extensive, and easy to understand for those who have a reasonable knowledge of their operating system.

The major benefit in using this type of tweaking application is the ease with which you can make changes to your system, without the drudgery of having to go through menu after menu, or manually editing the Registry to get the results you want.

However, as with any application that makes changes to your system, use caution and be sure to have a verified backup.

Quick facts:

Customizing Windows User Interface (UI)

Optimizing system settings

Optimizing hardware settings

Customizing Windows application settings

Control user environment

System requirements: Windows Vista/XP/2000/NT/ 98/95/

Note: Free registration required.

Download at:

1 Comment

Filed under Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Software, System Tweaks, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Kidnapped! – Gpcode Ransomware – Deja Vue All Over Again

When we think of kidnapping, extortion or blackmail, I think it’s safe to say, not many of us would consider our computer files as a likely victim. That is, unless we were familiar with a particular form of malware known as Ransomware.

Ransomware is a vicious form of malware, considering that it encrypts the victim’s files, and then demands a monetary ransom to decrypt the kidnapped files.

Once again the Ransomware Trojan, Gpcode/PGPCoder is on the loose. First encountered two years ago by Kaspersky Lab, this updated version of Gpcode/PGPCoder has returned, but in a much more advanced form.

Gpcode/PGPCoder is now using a 1,024 bit encryption key, as opposed to 660 bits in its last variant. It has been estimated it would require 30 years to break this new encryption key using a brute force attack; trying every possible password. Following the encryption of the target files the virus self destructs in order to evade detection.

More than 80 file-types on the PC including doc, txt, pdf, xls, jpg, png, htm, pst, xml, zip, and rar, are targeted for encryption, then the original files are deleted from the disk and replaced by an encrypted copy.

An attempt to open an encrypted file on an infected machine will produce a message similar to the following.

Hello, your files are encrypted with RSA-4096 algorithm.

You will need at least few years to decrypt these files without our software. All your private information for last 3 months were collected and sent to us.

To decrypt your files you need to buy our software. The price is $300.

To buy our software please contact us at: – – – –

It has not yet been determined how Gpcode/PGPCoder infects the victim’s machine with the Trojan, so the following precautions are critical to the security of your system.

  • Don’t open unknown email attachments
  • Don’t run programs of unknown origin
  • Disable hidden filename extensions
  • Keep all applications (including your operating system) patched
  • Turn off your computer or disconnect from the network when not in use
  • Disable Java, JavaScript, and ActiveX if possible
  • Disable scripting features in email programs
  • Make regular backups of critical data. If you are infected this may be your only solution
  • Make a boot disk in case your computer is damaged or compromised
  • Turn off file and printer sharing on the computer
  • Install a personal firewall on the computer
  • Install anti-virus/anti-spyware software and ensure it is configured to automatically update when you are connected to the Internet
  • Ensure your anti-virus software scans all e-mail attachments
  • Don’t store critical data on the system partition


Filed under Email, Encryption, Interconnectivity, internet scams, Malware Advisories, System File Protection, System Security, Windows Tips and Tools

Protecting Your Online Gaming Assets – It’s No Game!

I love computer gaming. In a real sense computer gaming was the driver behind my interest, in the early 1980’s, in becoming computer literate, and then taking that literacy to new levels of expertise.

Computer gaming has changed enormously of course from the early 1980’s to the present. The technical changes in both the games themselves, and the platforms the games run on, would have seemed like science fiction viewed from the perspective of the early days.

Online gaming has effectively opened up a whole new world of computer gaming, both literally and figuratively, and has changed the face and the complexities of computer gaming.

Played over the Internet, online games allow gamers to become part of a virtual world, consisting of literally millions of players who form online communities with all the associated social aspects of real world communities; the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Just as there are crooks and cyber criminals in a real world community, these same type of characters also inhabit the virtual worlds of Internet gaming.

You might wonder why virtual reality would mimic real life so closely that it would include virtual criminals. The answer is very simple – money, and lots of it.

In many virtual worlds, virtual currencies are used to purchase virtual possessions. You may be surprised to learn that these virtual possessions have real world value, in real world cash, and as in real life; a market exists for stolen goods in these other worlds.

The first step cyber criminals employ in stripping gamers of their virtual possessions (remember, real world cash), is password theft – an activity that has increased dramatically recently.

Stolen passwords for games such as World of Warcraft and Lineage are particularly valuable, since in these games it is common for less skilled gamers to buy/pay for, the virtual possessions they have been unable to acquire through skilled game play.

Increasingly, the thieft of passwords relies on specially designed malware, whose function is to steal online gaming passwords, allowing crooks access to gamers virtual possessions so that these possessions, just as in real life, can be sold.

Explaining just how this works Greg Hoglund, CEO of HBGary, developers of advanced software security technologies says, “Once a criminal learns a gamer’s username and password, he can log into the game and sell the victim’s virtual possessions for virtual gold coins. Those coins are then handed to another character in the game who sells the gold for real-world dollars at an online exchange such as IGE. IGE operates a network that deals with the legitimate buying and selling of virtual currencies and assets on the Internet.

Video gaming companies are now fighting back through the use of authenticators. An authenticator is an electronic device (see pic), which generates a unique, one-time use password which combined with the user’s regular password provides an increased security level against malicious attacks, including keyloggers and Trojans.

Blizzard Entertainment, the company behind such popular games as World of Warcraft, Lineage, Diablo and StarCraft sells an authenticator for $6.50 – although I noticed this morning that the Blizzard store is currently sold out.

Nevertheless, if you are one of the millions of virtual gamers, purchasing an authenticator to help protect your virtual assets, it seems to me, is vital.

In you’re interested in FREE online gaming then checkout an excellent article by Simon, one of my fellow writers on – Top Five Free Online Shooter Games.


Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, authenticators, Encryption, Geek Software and Tools, Interconnectivity, Internet Safety, Internet Safety Tools, Malware Advisories, Online Gaming, Online Safety, Windows Tips and Tools

Antivirus 2009 – Five Removal Solutions

These days it seems, my email inboxes are overflowing with email scams, and no doubt you are seeing the same thing happening in your email inbox.

Email scams work because the cyber-crooks responsible for these scams are experts at using social engineering as the hook. They rely on the fact that we are a curious species on the one hand, and that we are easily frightened by the unknown, on the other hand.

Currently, rogue security developers (cyber-crooks), are combining both of these powerful persuaders, to convince unaware Internet users to download a harmful fake anti-virus/anti-spyware program, Antivirus 2009, which in reality causes the problem that it supposedly solves.

The very familiar bogus celebrity scandal email link is the teaser, which when activated launches a “your computer is infected with a virus” message screen. Clicking on the accompanying ad for a free anti-malware removal program, will download a Trojan horse which will install Antivirus 2009; rogue security software that launches fake malware detection warnings.

Rogue security applications, and there seems to be an epidemic of them on the Internet, including Antivirus 2009, have been developed to mislead uninformed computer users’ into downloading and paying for the “full” version of this bogus software, based on the false malware positives generated by the application.

The majority of typical Internet users, I speak with, are not aware that such a class of software even exists. But it does; and regrettably, it is becoming more widespread. An email scam is not the only method in which this parasitic software can be installed on a users system.

Just like its predecessor, Antivirus 2008, this particular rogue security software’s installer (ZLOB/MediaAccess Codec) can be found on adult websites, or it can be installed manually from rogue security software websites like, or

If the full program fee is not paid, XP Antivirus 2009 continues to run as a background process incessantly reporting those fake or false malware detection warnings. To really try your patience, this rogue security software cannot be uninstalled using the Windows Add/Remove Programs tool. Unfortunately, even if an unaware user pays for this rogue security, the program will continue to run.

Here are some typical comments from a few of this Blog’s readers which will give you an indication of how destructive this rogue software is:

“My home computer is infected with the xp antivirus 2009 rogue software. It has grown like a cancer and has attacked my .dll files and I no longer can use my Internet Explorer to log on to the internet. I was told by a customer support person at Dell computer that eventually it will destroy all my files and I’ll have nothing but a blue screen. I’ve tried several removal tools that require you to buy their full program and since I can’t get on the internet I’m dead in the water. Is their any free program that actually works? I’ve tried PC Tools, Avira, Spy Hunter, a Squared & others. HELP!!!”

“I also purchased this software out of fear and they are continuing to bill my account for charges I did not authorize. I have called the billing company and emailed them without success. I just got off the phone with a foreign country who told me he couldn’t help me even though they say they can help 24-7. I contacted my bank 2 days ago and found out I had to wait till they received the order and I was charged (at that time the charges were pending). The charges were removed yesterday and back on today with additional charges. Anybody got any ideas how to stop this. I emailed the FTC and plan to call them tomorrow”.

“What an awesome page this is, thank you. Unbelievable what this thing did to my laptop. No access to task manager, no access to “my computer”. Pop-ups everywhere. Tried spybot, fixwareout, HijackThis to no avail. Might as well not have had Black Ice and Norton. Somehow I maintained the presence of mind to realize I was getting seriously bent over. I swear to God “breaking on the wheel” is a good punishment for these psychopaths. Luckily I keep most of the important stuff, including a script I’m writing, externally, so I re-formatted (2X). I know, NOT a good solution for people with all their stuff on the C drive. I’ll try the freeware, but basically I’m going to keep myself prepared as much as possible to have to scrub the hard drive at a moments notice. Bastards”.


Rogue Fix at Internet Inspiration

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

Bleeping Computer is a web site where help is available for many computer related problems, including the removal of rogue software.

Malwarebytes, a reliable anti-malware company has created a free application to help keep you safe and secure. RogueRemover will safely remove a number of rogue security applications.

If you are an advanced computer user, checkout “XP Antivirus 2008/2009 – Advanced User Removal Solution” on this Blog.

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

  • An absolute necessity is to make sure that any security application you are considering installing is recognized as legitimate by industry experts. An excellent web site that will keep you in the loop, and advise you what products work and have a deserved reputation for quality performance is Spyware Warrior.
  • 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, or sites that you know to be safe.
  • Consider carefully the inherent risks attached to peer-to-peer (P2P), or file sharing applications where exposure to rogue security applications is widespread.
  • 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.
  • Be kind to your friends, relatives, and associates and let them know that all of the above dangers are now epidemic on the Internet. In that way, it raises the level of protection for all of us


Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Email, Firefox Add-ons, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Interconnectivity, Internet Explorer Add-ons, Internet Safety, internet scams, Malware Advisories, Online Safety, Rogue Software, Safe Surfing, Spyware - Adware Protection, System Security, trojans, Viruses, Windows Tips and Tools

XP Antivirus 2008/2009 – Advanced User Removal Solution

The following solution, to remove rogue security software XP Antivirus, is offered by this Blog’s reader Wayne Downing.

Due to time constraints I have not personally tested this solution, but the consensus amongst my Geek Club associates is, the solution while complicated, will work.

Wayne writes:

The only way I was able to really effectively remove it required a second computer, a router, and about 3 hours. It’s a little involved, but this method has been used to completely eradicate even the most stubborn viruses. I call it the “Global Thermonuclear Option”.

1) On a good computer, download the Knoppix CD version of Linux and burn it onto CD.

2) Shutdown the bad computer the “right” way (start / shutdown / shutdown computer).

3) Start the bad computer with the Knoppix CD.

4) While waiting on the computer to start, go to the good computer, and make sure the virus scanner on it is up to date; if it doesn’t have one, use Avast from Be aware that there is a malware site called (note the dash rather than the dot), so make sure you’re at the right one.

5) Connect both your computers into your router. It is possible to do this wirelessly, but it will be slower.

6) On the infected computer, open up all the Hard Drives by double-clicking on them from the desktop in Knoppix. Close the windows that open up, then right-click on each of the hard drives and click on “Change Read/Write mode”. When Knoppix asks if you want to make each drive writable; click on “yes”.

7) While still on the infected computer, go to the “K” icon (lower left), then “KNOPPIX”, then “Services”, then click on “Start Samba Server”.

8) If it asks to set a password for the Knoppix user, use something simple like “knoppix123″ – this is not a permanent username being created – after you reboot the bad computer, this will all be gone. When it says “export all Hard Drives…”, click on “Yes”.

9) On the good computer, go to Start, then Run, and then type \\KNOPPIX and hit ENTER.

10) The computer will ask for a name and password. Use “Knoppix” as the username, and then the password you set up in step 7.

11) For any share that looks like “hda1″, “sda1″, “hdb1″, “hda2″, etc. (starts with hd, then a letter, then a number, or “sd”, then a letter, then a number), right-click on it, then click on “Map Network Drive”. Windows will assign a drive letter for you; you just need to click “Finish”.

12) Start your virus scanner and tell it to scan the remote drives. In this case, we’ll assume you use Avast, and that the network drives you’re trying to scan are Z: and Y. You would open Avast, then click on “Folder Selection” on the right in the middle (looks like a folder icon), then check the boxes for Y: and Z: (or all the network drives).

You’ll be able to tell which ones are network drives because they identify themselves as “Knoppix”. Click “OK”, then the “play” icon from avast, which will start the scan. Check the instructions on how to use your virus scanner program for more details. Essentially, you want to scan archives, and you want the scan to be as thorough as possible.

13) After the virus scan is done, download the installer for Avast on the good computer, and copy it to the previously infected computer, in the root directory. If the computer has more than one hard drive, copy it to all the hard drives, if it will fit.

14) Close avast on the good computer, then go to the “My Computer” icon and disconnect the network drives that you just scanned.

15) Go to the previously infected computer, click on the “K” icon, then “Log out”, then “shut down”. Follow the instructions on removing the CD-ROM, and reboot the computer into safe mode.

16) As soon as the previously infected computer starts, go to Start, then Run, and type “C:\Setupeng.exe” (or whatever the filename of the avast installer was). Allow avast to install. It is not necessary to run a boot-time scan, as you’ve essentially just done that over the network. Reboot the computer into normal Windows.

17) The previously infected computer will have no trace of the viruses that Avast found and deleted during the network scan.

Good luck.


Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Geek Software and Tools, Interconnectivity, Malware Advisories, Manual Malware Removal, Open Source, Rogue Software, Software, System Security, Virus Repair Tools, Windows Tips and Tools

Think You’re Internet Safety Savvy? – Think Again

What you don’t know can’t hurt you, right? I’m not a mathematician, so I can’t vouch for the relative statistical accuracy of that statement, but I do know this: what you don’t know can hurt you big time on the Internet.

In any given week I speak with 100’s of typical Internet users who generally have the same behavior characteristics while surfing the Internet in that they:

Use a search engine to locate and generate information.

Despite the fact that cyber-crooks continue to be unrelenting in their chase to infect web search results, seeding malicious websites among the top results returned by these engines, the typical user I come into contact with has no knowledge of current conditions, and believes search engine output to be untainted and free of potential harmful exposure to malware.

Sadly, current statistics indicate that over sixteen thousand web pages were infected with malware daily between January and June of this year; three times the rate of infection noted in the previous year. Work out the math, and you’ll find that’s one new infected legitimate website every five seconds!

More disturbing, seventy nine percent of compromised web pages tracked this year were on legitimate web sites; including web sites owned by Fortune 500 companies, government agencies and ironically, security vendors.

Trust the information they discover while online to be reliable and credible.

Rogue security software developers, for example, rely on the innate level of trust that typical Internet users’ have developed, to convince users’ to download this type of malicious software. The vast majority of typical Internet users I speak with are not aware that such a class of software even exists. But it does; and regrettably, it is becoming more widespread.

A rogue security application is an application, usually found on free download and adult websites, or it can be installed from rogue security software websites, using Trojans or manipulating Internet browser security holes.

After the installation of rogue security software the program launches fake or false malware detection warnings. Rogue security applications, and there seems to be an epidemic of them on the Internet currently, are developed to mislead uninformed computer users’ into downloading and paying for the “full” version of this bogus software, based on the false malware positives generated by the application.

Some types of rogue security software have the potential to collect private and personal information from an infected machine which could include passwords, credit card details, and other sensitive information.

Communicate with family and friends by email.

The worldwide Internet population is now estimated to be 1.08 billion users, so the ability to communicate with family and friends has increased dramatically. Unfortunately however, cyber-crooks are well aware of the opportunities such a large number of unaware potential victims present for illicit monetary gain.

Incredible as it seems, billions (that’s right billions), of spam email messages are generated every hour through so called botnets; zombie computers controlled by cyber-criminals.

The Marshal Threat Research and Content Engineering (TRACE) report for the first half of 2008 has just been released, and unhappily it shows that “Cyber criminals are using ‘blended attacks’ to distribute malware and links to hacked websites via email on an unprecedented scale”.

Sustaining this conclusion, the IC³ (Internet Crime Complaint Center) recently stated that these types of attacks against Internet users are occurring with such frequency, that the situation can be called nothing short of “alarming”.

Yet, the majority of typical users, that I meet, are unaware of the very real dangers that spam emails hold for their safety, security and identity protection. Email scams, for example, are only one of the many dangers that email users face on a daily basis.

Email scams work because the cyber-crooks responsible use social engineering as the hook; in other words they exploit our curiosity. The fact is, we are all pretty curious creatures and let’s face it, who doesn’t like sensational email topics.

Recently, spam CNN sensational news alerts seem to be one of the methods cyber-crooks have selected to capture users’ attention, rather than emails offering pharmaceuticals, expensive watches, or other knockoff products.

As I have pointed out in the past on this Blog, the following are actions you can take to protect your computer system, your money and your identity:

Install an Internet Browser add-on such as WOT (my personal favorite), which provides detailed test results on a site’s safety; protecting you from security threats including spyware, adware, spam, viruses, browser exploits, and online scams

  • Don’t open unknown email attachments
  • Don’t run programs of unknown origin
  • Disable hidden filename extensions
  • Keep all applications (including your operating system) patched
  • Turn off your computer or disconnect from the network when not in use
  • Disable Java, JavaScript, and ActiveX if possible
  • Disable scripting features in email programs
  • Make regular backups of critical data
  • Make a boot disk in case your computer is damaged or compromised
  • Turn off file and printer sharing on the computer
  • Install a personal firewall on the computer
  • Install anti-virus and anti-spyware software and ensure it is configured to automatically update when you are connected to the Internet
  • Ensure the anti-virus software scans all e-mail attachments
  • Be proactive when it comes to your computer’s security; make sure you have adequate software based protection to reduce the chances that your machine will become infected


Filed under Application Vulnerabilities, Browser add-ons, Firefox Add-ons, Interconnectivity, Internet Safety, internet scams, Malware Advisories, Online Safety, Personal Perspective, Safe Surfing, Search Engines, Spyware - Adware Protection, System Security, Windows Tips and Tools