Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – June 13, 2014

How to Stop Facebook From Sharing Your Web Browsing History;  Is Amazon Prime Music worth it?  Turn your smartphone into a scanner, voice recorder, and more;  Install Snap on BlackBerry 10 for unlimited Android app access; CloudFlare Offers Free DDoS Protection to Small Firms;  Twitter Makes the Grade in Online Trust Audit;  You hate Facebook ads: Now you can change them;  Malwarebytes: With Anti-Exploit, we’ll stop the worst attacks on PCs;  OneNote tricks to make you an instant expert;  DVDVideoSoft Free Studio; Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit (free);  How to charge your iPhone wirelessly at Starbucks;  Angry Birds Epic hits all major app stores for free; Far Cry 4 preview;  Banking malware using Windows to block anti-malware apps.

Defend yourself against World Cup scams – While you’re busy figuring out how to stream games to your work PC while appearing to be busy with an Excel spreadsheet, you should be aware that World Cup will also be a feeding frenzy of malware and phishing attacks. Guillaume Lovet, senior manager of the FortiGuard Labs’ Threat Response Team, shared his thoughts with me about the top four scams you should be on the lookout for as the World Cup gets underway.

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How to Stop Facebook From Sharing Your Web Browsing History – Facebook is going to start sharing app and Web browsing history it collects with advertisers to display more targeted ads. This includes all those non-Facebook sites you visit. If this skeeves you out as much as it does me, you can opt out, kind of.

Malwarebytes: With Anti-Exploit, we’ll stop the worst attacks on PCs – Imagine a world where attackers seeking to gain access to your computer are stopped before they can use your technology against you. That world doesn’t exist yet, but it took a giant step closer to reality with Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit, a new security program for Microsoft Windows released Thursday. The software, which aims to protect users of the world’s most popular operating system software, is powered by exploit-blocking technology that Malwarebytes acquired last year when it bought ZeroVulnerabilityLabs. (I’ve been running with the Beta for several months – works seemlessly with no system impact. You might consider running with the free version.)

Phone it in: turn your smartphone into a scanner, voice recorder, and more – Sometimes, staying productive is all about the little efficiencies, whether it’s the ability to dictate a quick note into my phone or using its camera in lieu of my big, bulky scanner. This week, I’ve found a few apps that take care of these tasks and more.

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Twitter Makes the Grade in Online Trust Audit – With a new security breach in the news seemingly every day, it can be hard to know which online service to trust. According to a new “online trust audit,” however, you can feel safe with Twitter. Twitter took top honors for the second year in a row, earning the highest overall “trustworthiness score” from the Online Trust Alliance (OTA). Others in the top-10 list include Netflix, Newegg, Walmart.com, and Sony Electronics.

Angry Birds Epic hits all major app stores for free – Rovio, the company behind the Angry Birds mobile games, announced the worldwide launch of Angry Birds Epic on Thursday. Unlike the slingshot-focused gameplay of most of the franchise’s earlier games, Epic is a turn-based role-playing game. As with other Angry Birds titles, the heroes in Epic are the birds and the antagonists are “the dastardly King Pig, his advisor Wiz Pig, and his son Price Porky.” King pig and his gang have stolen the eggs, and its up to a cast of “feathery heroes” controlled by the user will help get them back.

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CloudFlare Offers Free DDoS Protection to Small Firms – While most sites have a security team to help combat distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, non-profits often have limited budgets to fend off cyber attacks. Enter CloudFlare’s Project Galileo, which is offering up its enterprise-level security system to help non-profits battle cyber criminals. CloudFlare has partnered with non-governmental organizations and groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Mozilla, and the Open Technology Institute to help at-risk public interest websites.

You hate Facebook ads: Now you can change them – Facebook is changing the way it shows adverts, giving users more control over the topics and advertisers they see in their News Feed, even if it’s not going to let them opt-out altogether. The tweaks address one of the common complaints about adverts based on previous browsing behaviors: that they persist in showing you related content, like a new smartphone purchase, even after your original hunt is long over.

OneNote tricks to make you an instant expert – Microsoft’s OneNote is a completely cross-platform app now, which means it can go you with anywhere. In this gallery, I present six of my favorite OneNote productivity secrets to help you get your personal and work projects organized.

How to maximize storage space on your Windows tablet – One of the unfortunate hallmarks of affordable Windows-based tablets is limited storage space. It is not uncommon for low-priced tablets to come with only 32GB or 64GB drives. A large chunk of that space is taken up by the Windows operating system and any preinstalled applications. Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do to rid Windows tablets of unneeded data to stretch that storage space as far as possible.

How to charge your iPhone wirelessly at Starbucks – Now that Starbucks and Duracell are rolling out a nationwide wireless charging initiative at Starbucks stores, will it work with your phone? Not a lot of us have phones that can accept a charge via a contact pad like the Powermat Starbucks will be using. Especially those with iPhones, which has never had any method of wireless charging. That’s changed, though, and we’ll tell you how you can charge your iPhone wirelessly at Starbucks in the near future.

Is Amazon Prime Music worth it? – Amazon recently introduced their streaming music service, which finally opens up their massive catalog for our listening pleasure. They’ve also entered a crowded, changing music landscape which has migrated from downloading to streaming tracks. Like Apple’s acquisition of Beats, it seems the online shopping giant just couldn’t resist. Is Prime Music worth it, though? We compare it with similar services to find out.

KAZAM launches £40 smartphone in UK, including free screen repair service – For that price, of course, you can hardly expect flagship specs; the Trooper X3.5 offers a dual-core 1GHz processor, 3.5-inch touchscreen with HVGA (480x320px) resolution, 4GB of storage (plus microSD slot supporting cards up to 32GB), Bluetooth 3.0, Wi-Fi, FM radio, along with a 3.2MP rear camera with flash and a VGA front-facing cam.

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This blue version of the handset does not seem to be available yet via Phones 4u.

Raydget SlimBox PC is the size of a chocolate bar – There are three models based on Intel’s QM77 Express chipset, the same one that you’d find in any number of Windows 8 convertibles and laptops. You can choose from a 1.4GHz Celeron, 1.6GHz Core i3, or go all in on a 2.8GHz Core i7. 64GB of internal storage comes standard, but you can pop a larger SSD into the mSATA socket if you need more space. RAM starts at 4GB and can be upgraded to 8GB using standard SODIMMs.

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Bing takes a shot at predicting World Cup results – Microsoft’s Bing search engine can do a lot more than simple searches. Recently, the company started dabbling in the ‘predictive’ arena with trying to anticipate who would get voted off TV shows. With the World Cup kicking off this week, Bing is now taking its prediction tool to the football (or “soccer”) pitch and will take a shot at seeing who will win each game. You can search an individual match over at Bing or simply type ‘World Cup prediction’ to get the results.

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Skype’s new Windows Phone-style iPhone app is available now – While Skype has seen regular updates on iOS, version 5.0 is the first major overhaul of the app since 2010, when it launched with Apple iOS 4. With the new release, Microsoft has given the UI a completely new look on iPhone – one that closely mirrors the design of its Windows Phone platform. The company said on Monday that this was intended to bring its interface in line with that used by Skype on other mobile devices, adding today that its goal was to make the app more “simple and intuitive.”

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More cafes ban laptops: the growing push against tech – Coffee shops — cafes, if you prefer — are a staple for many, serving as the perfect destination to stop for a mid-day meal or that necessary cup of coffee. As the proliferation of mobile technology increased over the years, these shops came up with a simple idea to draw in more customers: free Wi-Fi. There was a time when such an offering was a novelty, but over the years it has become so expected that cafes without it are seen as odd relics. What started as a novelty courtesy service to draw in customers transformed the nature of the industry as a whole, and shops coast to coast began to suffer for it. That’s when the bans started.

Nyrius Aries Pro review: Cut the wire clutter in your home entertainment setup – Your television is surrounded—maybe you have a Roku or Apple TV, a game console or three, a DVD player for old time’s sake, perhaps a cable box if you haven’t cut the proverbial cord. Cutting out actual cords with all of those electronics in tow? Good luck with that. Hiding a terrifying web of wires behind an entertainment center is no big deal, but what if your flat screen is mounted to the wall, or you’re running a projector from the ceiling? The Aries Pro was created for such needs. (Wow! Be prepared for “sticker shock” with this one.)

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20 Cool New Things in Apple OS X Yosemite – Apple OS X Yosemite—the tenth version of the operating system already named OS Ten—is due to arrive in the fall as a free upgrade, usable on just about any Mac manufactured since mid-2007. It’s a classic Apple-style upgrade: Despite dozens of changes and new features, you won’t need to relearn anything to use it. But if you own an iPhone or iPad, you’ll find that your Mac and iOS device will work together in ways you never imagined. When both Yosemite and the forthcoming iOS 8 are on your devices, you’ll be able to answer your phone on your Mac, or start a mail message on your phone and finish typing it on your Mac.

Microsoft Promises Not to Scan Accounts for Targeted Ads – The software giant just announced it has updated its Services Agreement and privacy statement, eliminating much of the legal mumbo jumbo to make its policies more transparent. With the update, Microsoft is also taking a more definitive stand against targeted advertising, pledging not to use the content in your emails to target you with ads.

Install Snap on BlackBerry 10 for unlimited Android app access – A free app called Snap is available for BlackBerry 10 devices running OS 10.2.1.1055 and above. The app mimics Google’s Play Store, providing you access to the same apps you would find in the Play Store on an Android device. The benefit of using this over the Amazon method is that not all developers release apps in Amazon’s store, opting instead to stick with Google only.

Security:

Banking malware using Windows to block anti-malware apps – A trojan that’s currently doing the rounds in Japan is using Windows itself to try to defeat security software on infected machines. Trend Micro reports that the BKDR_VAWTRAK malware, which steals credentials used for online banking at some Japanese banks, is using a Windows feature called Software Restriction Policies (SRP) to prevent infected systems from running a wide range of security programs, including anti-virus software from Microsoft, Symantec, and Intel. A total of 53 different programs are blocked by the malware.

Nasty mobile banking Trojan gets ransomware features, starts targeting U.S. users – An Android Trojan program originally designed to steal mobile banking credentials from Russian users was recently retrofitted with ransomware functionality and has started infecting users in the U.S., using photos of its victims to intimidate them into paying a fictitious FBI fine.

P.F. Chang’s confirms theft of customer card data – Asian-themed restaurant says it would switch to old-style card imprint system after learning that customer data and debit card information was stolen.

AT&T breach allowed customer data to be used to unlock smartphones: Social Security numbers were accessed in a bid to unlock smartphones – Personal information, including Social Security numbers and call records, was accessed for an unknown number of AT&T Mobility customers by people outside of the company, AT&T has confirmed. The breach took place between April 9-21, but was only disclosed this week in a filing with California regulators. While AT&T wouldn’t say how many customers were affected, state law requires such disclosures if an incident affects at least 500 customers in California.

Gmail had a simple flaw that allowed anyone to obtain every email address – A gaping security flaw in Google’s Gmail email service has been publicized that could have allowed hackers to extract the email address of every single user from Google’s database. Oren Hafif, a security penetration expert, discovered last year that he could manipulate the little-used account-sharing feature in Gmail to edit the ‘Rejection Confirmed’ webpage. After changing one character in the URL of the page that appears when you reject access to a shared account, Hafif found he could make the page tell him that he had been declined access to another email address.

Hacker claims PayPal loophole generates FREE MONEY – A PayPal loophole can be exploited to earn free cash according to a convicted former NASA hacker turned white hat. Fraudsters can double their money, says Razvan Cernaianu, by funnelling cash into a mule account before filing for a transaction refund. To pull off the rort a fraudster needs three PayPal accounts. One is a legitimate buyer, another is a disposable seller and the third is a mule. The latter accounts would be linked to virtual credit cards.

Company News:

Court confirms Intel’s record-breaking €1.06 billion fine – In a ruling issued Thursday, the European Union’s General Court rejected Intel’s appeal of a €1.06 billion ($1.44 billion) penalty for antitrust violations. Instead, the EU General Court upheld the record-breaking penalty against the US computer chip giant, which had been issued in 2009 by the EU Commission. Intel had been seeking annulment of the large penalty for what the EU Commission previously ruled to have been the company’s antitrust infringement actions.

Tesla opens up its patents to anyone acting in ‘good faith’ – Tesla isn’t giving up all claim to the technologies it has developed, though. There’s no legal document that says “these patents now belong to the world.” Instead, the company is pledging not to initiate any patent lawsuits against a person or company that acts in good faith while utilizing Tesla’s patents. That’s probably vague enough that Tesla can still have some control over what happens with its patents, while also encouraging the industry to create new electric vehicle tech.

Huawei bypassing carriers, selling directly to U.S. smartphone shoppers – Blame it on Huawei’s earlier troubles with Congress, the reluctance of carriers, or the general disinterest of U.S. consumers. Whatever the reason, Huawei has had difficulty breaking into the American market and is now trying to take its message right to U.S. smartphone shoppers.

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Citing strong PC demand, Intel boosts Q2 revenue expectations – Spurred by stronger demand for business PCs than expected, Intel raised its revenue guidance for this quarter. Intel now expects quarterly revenue of US$13.7 billion, plus or minus $300 million, it said Thursday. The company’s previous guidance was $13 billion, plus or minus $500 million, for the quarter.

Google reportedly readying health service called Google Fit – Joining a burgeoning field of tech giants focused on health, the Web giant will unveil new platform in late June, Forbes reports.

Games and Entertainment:

Far Cry 4 preview: Choose your own attack – One of the greatest joys in the Far Cry games in simply wandering around the vast, detailed worlds, looking for things to wreak projectile havoc upon. So it was a bit disappointing that the short E3 demo of the game eschewed exploration for a single, focused attack on an adobe fortress in the Himalayan countryside. Then again, this is E3, so perhaps a more focused experience is better suited to the environment.

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TechSpot: E3 2014 PC Game Trailer Roundup – Didn’t clear your schedule to track E3? Here are 40 plus PC game trailers from the event along with expected release dates and launch platforms for each title. The games are ordered alphabetically and if they are due to appear on both generations (Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 and Xbox One/PlayStation 4), then we generically labeled them as Xbox and PlayStation games to reduce clutter.

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Bioware’s Dragon Age: Inquisition will have 40 different endings – E3 is rife with impressive upcoming games, but for fans of Dragon Age, there is no substitute. Dragon Age: Inquisition, the latest incarnation of this epic action RPG, was demoed at E3, but the gameplay is only half the story from the land of Thedas. Dragon Age producer Cameron Lee has let it slip on Twitter that the game will have 40 major endings, plus a number of minor variations based on decisions a player makes.

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Destiny Alpha gameplay first impressions: it’s just beautiful – The first thing I wrote about Destiny after I’d first began to play it was “Destiny is nothing if not gorgeous.” This game immediately reminds one of Killzone: Shadow Fall once inside a map, but before you there, you’re given the impression that you’ve dropped into the wrong game. I thought this was supposed to be a first-person shooter – why am I picking facial features and hair color? As it turns out, Destiny is a bit more complicated than I first expected.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

Americans think ‘Star Trek’ is the future, not ‘Star Wars’ – A survey shows Americans have little idea what the Internet of Things is, but that the story that most aligns with their view of the future stars James T. Kirk.

Local cops in 15 US states confirmed to use cell tracking devices – A new map released Thursday by the American Civil Liberties Union shows that fake cell towers, also known as stingrays, are used by state and local law enforcement in 15 states. Relatively little is known about precisely how police decide when and where to deploy them, but stingrays are used to track targeted phones and can also be used to intercept calls and text messages. However, privacy advocates worry that while the devices go after specific targets, they also often capture data of nearby unrelated people.

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US government OKs sharper satellite images – Until this week, satellite operators like DigitalGlobe were prevented by law from selling images to foreign or commercial organizations in which features smaller than 50 centimeters were visible. The restriction was meant to ensure that foreign powers didn’t get access to satellite images that were too good. But now that’s changed. DigitalGlobe said it has received approval from the U.S. Department of Commerce to sell sharper images to its clients.

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Samsung Smart Bike packs an Arduino and frickin’ laser beams – Merely having a smartphone mount on the handlebars doesn’t make a normal bike smart. That requires a lot of additional design, engineering, and even more tech — including cameras and laser beams. Samsung’s been working on a concept bike in conjunction with Maestros Academy.

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US to auction off 29,656 bitcoins seized from Silk Road, worth over $17.5M – On Thursday, the United States Marshals Service posted a notice that it will be administering the sale of the over 29,600 bitcoins seized in the Silk Road case. At present exchange rates, those bitcoins are worth over $17.5 million. These bitcoins resided in six different wallets found on Silk Road servers and do not include the “bitcoins contained in wallet files that resided on certain computer hardware belonging to Ross William Ulbricht, that were seized on or about October 24, 2013.” The USMS said that the first deadline for bidders will be 9am Eastern Time on June 16, 2014.

Why online tracking is getting creepier – Currently, many companies track where users go on the Web—often through cookies—in order to display customized ads. That’s why if you look at a pair of shoes on one site, ads for those shoes may follow you around the Web. But online marketers are increasingly seeking to track users offline as well, by collecting data about people’s offline habits—such as recent purchases, where you live, how many kids you have, and what kind of car you drive. Here’s how it works, according to some revealing marketing literature we came across from digital marketing firm LiveRamp.

Something to think about:

“The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naive forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget.”

–    Thomas Szasz

Today’s Free Downloads:

Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit – Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit, formerly ExploitShield by ZeroVulnerabilityLabs, protects you from zero-day exploits targeting browser and application vulnerabilities. Its proprietary technology shields your browser and applications in that critical period between the release of a new exploit and its subsequent security patch. Easy to install and lightweight. Download Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit now and crush the most dangerous breed of malware attack.

Popular software programs contain millions of line of code. Bad guys exploit flaws (vulnerabilities) in the code to deliver malware. Except when they can’t. Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit wraps three layers of security around popular browsers and applications, preventing exploits from compromising vulnerable code. Not an antivirus, but compatible with most antivirus, Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit is a small, specialized shield designed to protect you against one of the most dangerous forms of malware attacks.

Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit

Protects Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, and Opera browsers

Protects browser components, including Java, Adobe Reader, Flash, and Shockwave

Defends against drive-by download attacks

Shields vulnerable applications, including Microsoft Office, Adobe Reader, Apple Quicktime, and VLC Player

Blocks unknown and common exploit kits, including Blackhole, Sakura, Phoenix, and Incognito

Is compatible with most common anti-malware and antivirus products

Doesn’t use a signature database—no need for constant updating

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Screen shots from my personal system.

DVDVideoSoft Free Studio – Free Studio is a single package which bundles all free software from DVDVideoSoft to work with DVD, video and audio files!

With this free software you can convert video and audio files between different formats and to iPod, PSP, iPhone, BlackBerry and other portable devices; burn and rip DVDs and audio CDs; upload and download videos and music to your computer, iPod, PSP, iPhone and BlackBerry; perform basic editing of audio and video files.

Tools included:

Free YouTube Download

Free YouTube to MP3 Converter

Free YouTube to iPod and PSP Converter

Free YouTube to iPhone Converter

Free YouTube to DVD Converter

Free YouTube Uploader

Free DVD Video Converter

Free Video to DVD Converter

Free Video to Flash Converter

Free 3GP Video converter

Free Video to iPod and PSP Converter

Free Video to iPhone Converter

Free Video to MP3 Converter

Free Video to JPG Converter

Free Audio Converter

Free Audio to Flash Converter

Free DVD Video Burner

Free Disc Burner

Free Audio CD Burner

Free DVD Decrypter

Free Audio CD to MP3 Converter

Free Screen Video Recorder

Free Video Dub

Free Audio Dub

Free Video Flip and Rotate

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Tech companies are raising their game (and pants) post-Snowden – If there’s a positive to the disclosures by ex-National Security Contractor (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden, it’s that it’s been a disaster for technology and internet firms.

Yes, a positive.

In the last year we’ve learned the NSA has backdoors placed in the hardware that makes networks, the existence of massive funnels placed in internet and phone companies’ data centers to suck up vast amounts of data, and the breaking of internet encryption.

The effect of all this should be a raising of these companies’ games and a shaking of users’ complacency in relying on “free” products and in being too accepting of what they’re given and of standard “solutions.”

Already, tech and web companies are coming back. Caught with their pants down, they are now being given the time and money to pull them back up again.

Pre-Snowden it was generally assumed the government was carrying out some sorts of surveillance against key targets and that the bright boys and girls at the National Security Agency (NSA) could subvert security systems if they really wanted to.

There had long been rumors of backdoors in operating systems and government malware-writing teams, but very little in the way of proof.

Snowden’s leaks showed not only that security weaknesses are being built into software but also that the large companies to whom we entrust our data are helping in this – and they have been criminally lax about the security of users’ data within their own organizations.

Snowden did the tech industry a big favor – I am not an Edward Snowden fan and I don’t even assume that his motives are good, but clearly some good has come from his leaks. One major one is that tech companies are able to fight back against government pressure to give up their customers’ private data.

The Edward Snowden revelations have rocked governments, global businesses, and the technology world. When we look back a decade from now, we expect this to be the biggest story of 2013. Here is our perspective on the still-unfolding implications along with IT security and risk management best practices.

Microsoft made yet another example of this recently when it was revealed that they are resisting US government efforts to force the company to disclose user data stored abroad. In fact, since the Snowden disclosures, the big tech companies have tried hard to make clear that whatever data they disclose to the government they do so under legal order. They have also obtained, in the end as a negotiated settlement, the ability to disclose aggregate data about the number of government requests for data they receive.

As time has gone on, they have gotten bolder about challenging the government. The case of Microsoft protecting data in their Irish datacenter from US orders is one of several cases they have been able to bring in open court, rather than in the secret FISA court. This is both good law and good public relations.

To my mind, the first example of this happening was when, after stories came out about it in 2006, the telephone networks began resisting the NSA requests for bulk metadata and insisted that the government seek warrants. This is how the system of FISA court warrants for that data began.

Since then, we’ve heard claims that the companies are in bed with the NSA, such as the early claim that the PRISM program allowed the government “direct access” to the companies’ servers. These have turned out to be untrue, merely a perverted form of wishful thinking by some who, as a rule, think the worst of everything done by government and corporations.

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5 Comments

Filed under Free Software Downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Latest Tech News

5 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – June 13, 2014

  1. Dave B.

    RE: Banking malware using Windows to block anti-malware apps; I’ve already run in to this. It was some months back and I don’t recall the infection on the clients computer. Hadn’t seen it before nor since, took quite a bit of time to track down what was going on.

  2. Fred

    Hi Bill,
    “Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit” per your recommendation I installed it. I didn’t put a desktop icon because I thought once installed it just worked but I used the shortcut in the folder for the program and now it has an icon on the toolbar. Gives the options of:
    Start Protection or Stop Protection.
    My question to you, Oh Wizard of Computers, is why would one ever stop the protection? And should I just let it stay “protecting”?
    I am ever so grateful that I found this site four years ago, I’ve learned so much and continue to learn, and not JUST about computers either.
    Thanks as always,
    Fred

    • Hi Fred,

      Good recovery on the icon thing. 🙂

      It’s always a good thing to have the option of shutting down any application – but especially a security app. A simple example – occasionally, an application will warn that there is a “possibility” of conflict with a running AV and might suggest, exiting the AV temporarily. Over the years, I’ve rarely run into such a conflict – one in which the install failed. So (being practical and all 🙂 ) I’ve long ignored such warnings. Still, nice to have the option.

      You know, not so long ago one might reach for the “Wizard of Computers” moniker – and, just might reach that lofty height. I think those days are past. The number of new operating systems continues at an increasing pace; the number of new devices and the innovated uses they are put to, boggles the mind; the world is connected in ways that were once unimaginable – and, the enabling technology equally once unimaginable. Nope, being a DOS 1 veteran doesn’t mean very much anymore. But hell, what a time to be alive! 🙂

      Thanks for sticking with me all those years, Fred.

      Best,

      Bill

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