Category Archives: Norton

Download Free Norton Identity Safe Beta – Simple, Secure, Password Management For Windows, iOS, And Android

imageFair or not, I look upon weak password control – which leads to a catastrophe – as a self-inflicted injury. According to Norton research – 45 % of us re-use the same, easy to remember password, across multiple sites. Which, virtually assures, that should a hacker gain access to such a password – the door is now open for illegal access to all accounts. A catastrophe waiting in the wings.

I understand the dilemma. Complicated, in other words, safe passwords are often hard to remember, whereas easy passwords, in other words, unsafe passwords, are generally easy to remember. And, a single password is surely easier to remember than a series of passwords, simple or not.

What a troublesome problem!

Good news:

Today, Norton will release Norton Identity Safe Beta – the free public beta of a service which will allow you to secure and synchronize logins, passwords, credit cards, and other web form information across PCs, iOS and Android devices – using the cloud.

As an added bonus, Norton Safe Search is included.  Safe Search bumps up a user’s confidence level since a user can easily see (from search results), if a website is safe before visiting the site.

Norton Identity Safe setup walkthrough.

Consider very carefully as to whether “Remember Password” is appropriate in your situation.


Pay close attention to the password requirements.


Almost finished.


On completion, a web page will open with the following. From what I can see in this early test – since the application seems to rely on the Toolbar for access – you must accept. In Firefox, for example the Toolbar can be controlled through Tools – Add-ons.


Not quite finished. It’s time to check your inbox – confirm your email address. Click on the link………


and – finished!


Norton Identity Safe Home:


Norton Identity Safe Fast facts:

Simplified password management – Eliminates the hassle of remembering multiple logins and passwords, as users only need to remember one master password for quick, secure access to their favorite sites.

Streamlined user experience – Shows users their logins with thumbnail images, allowing them to log in to a desired site by clicking on the image, or for mobile and tablet users, by simply touching the screen.

Share Via – Allows users to safely share online content by sending URLs through email and social networking plugins, directly from Norton Identity Safe beta.

Automatic login synchronization across devices – Enables users to store a password on one device, and easily log in from another device – wherever they go.

Supported browsers:


Download at: Norton Identity Safe

Note: Norton Identity Safe Mobile Edition beta application, must be installed on mobile devices to access Norton Identity Safe.  The mobile applications complement the PC client, which must be downloaded and installed prior to installing the mobile applications.

Note:  If you have Norton Internet Security or Norton 360, you already have Norton Identity Safe installed.

Norton let me know of the pending release of Identity Safe Beta, yesterday. So, you’ll understand, this is not a review – but rather, a heads-up.

If you choose to download Identity Safe, I would be most interested in your personal observations as to functionality and value.

Helpful hints – here are some guidelines on choosing a strong password:

Make sure your password contains a minimum of 8 characters.

Use upper and lower case, punctuation marks and numbers.

Use a pass phrase (a sentence), if possible. For example, I use an 18 alpha character pass phrase (upper and lower case), supplemented with 4 numeric characters on this site. And, only on this site.

Since brute force dictionary attacks are common, do not use single word passwords that are words in a dictionary.

Use a different password for each sign-in site.

If you have difficulty in devising a strong password/s, take a look at’s – Random Password Generator – a very cool free password tool.


Filed under Android, Anti-Malware Tools, Beta Software, Cloud Computing Applications, Connected Devices, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Freeware, Norton

Are You A Sixty-Nine Percenter?

imageHopefully, you are not a member of the sixty-nine percent club. If you’re not, then you have not been a victim of cyber criminals – unlike the two thirds of online adults (69 percent), who have been a victim of cybercrime in their lifetime.

According to the United Nations telecommunications agency (January 2011), the number of Internet users now exceeds the two Billion mark, worldwide. It’s easy to see then, that cyber criminals have a virtually unlimited playground in which to ply their trade. And, they do just that – with a vengeance.

Symantec, in it’s recently released Norton Cybercrime Report 2011, makes the point that every second 14 adults become a victim of cyber crime – which translates into one Million+ Internet users who are duped by the detestable sleazebag members of the cyber criminal community – every day. Let’s take it a step further – if we annualize this number, we end up with a shocking 431 Million cyber crime victims.


Graphic courtesy of Symantec

The sheer number of victims is appalling, but the hard monetary costs involved are stunning.

Global cost of cybercrime – from Symantec:

With 431 million adult victims globally in the past year and at an annual price of $388 billion globally based on financial losses and time lost, cybercrime costs the world significantly more than the global black market in marijuana, cocaine and heroin combined ($288 billion).

At $388 Billion, cybercrime is more than 100 times the annual expenditure of UNICEF ($3.65 billion).

I’ll borrow a concept from the Real Estate industry for a moment, and that is – the concept of, “highest and best use”. The use of money can also be described in this way, and the following graphic illustrate how cybercrime can impact this concept at a societal level. It’s rather telling, what those diverted dollars, if employed elsewhere, could accomplish.


Graphic courtesy of Symantec

It’s important to understand that cyber criminals are not selective – it doesn’t matter where you reside – the entire Internet community is fair game.


Graphic courtesy of Symantec

While an installed Internet security suite (or a stand-alone AV application), won’t eliminate all cyber crime risks, it is effective in reducing risk exposure to manageable, and acceptable levels. One has to wonder why 41 % of those surveyed (as illustrated in the following graphic), connect to the Internet while running out-of-date security software.


Graphic courtesy of Symantec

It’s common practice for members of my group to query clients on the state of Internet security, the protective measures they have instituted to ensure both their own safety, and the safety of their systems, while connected to the Web – so, I’ll not take issue with the statistics in this graphic. Except to say – they may be underestimated.

Within my group, we find that a significant percentage of polled clients have little interest in Internet security, and fail to understand the vulnerabilities and issues that surround computer system security.

Common responses to queries include:

Security applications are too confusing and hinder my “fun” by slowing down system response time.

I didn’t know I shouldn’t click the ‘YOU ARE A WINNER!!!!’ banner.

My anti-malware application has let me down – how was I supposed to know I was downloading a bad program!

I’m not sure how my machine got infected – it just happened.

I like to download from Crack sites and Peer-2-Peer networks. So what?

I got a popup saying I was infected, so I clicked on it. What else was I supposed to do!

I didn’t know I was supposed to read the End User License Agreement – I don’t even know what that is.

I thought I had Windows update activated.

What do you mean I should update ALL my applications?

What’s a Firewall – never heard of it?

On the face of it, it might appear as if these types of responses are somehow not very typical. Unfortunately, these responses are not only typical, but characteristic of the majority of the home computer users’ my group comes into contact with every day.

Given this abysmal performance  the following is worth considering –  “In the past, the Internet consisted, mostly, of smart people in front of dumb terminals. Now, the reverse situation dominates”. It may seem a little facetious – but is it, really?

More and more it’s obvious to me, that relying on computer users taking responsibility for their own security and safety, is a non-starter. It’s just not happening. Personally, I hold out little hope that this will ever happen.

In the circumstances, it’s well past time that the “controlling interests” develop a rational approach to the underlying security issues surrounding the Internet – failing which, cyber crime will continue to flourish, and successful attacks on computers over the Internet will continue to proliferate.

Equally as important, in my view – we need a concerted effort from law enforcement, at every level, to actively pursue those who continue to cause havoc on the Internet.

Despite the fact that cyber crime could not be a more pressing problem – one which gives rise to significant human and financial costs – the naysayers, and the “can’t be done” proponents have the field, for the moment. But, only because we, as a society, allow it.

It’s time you demanded a much more aggressive response to cyber crime from those who are charged with ensuring your safety and security – whether it be in the “real” world, or the “virtual” world of the Internet. It’s time that you let your voice be heard. It’s time to emulate Peter Finch and state – “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”

If you’re interested in the full Norton Cybercrime Report 2011, it’s available here in multiple languages.

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Filed under Cyber Crime, Cyber Criminals, cybercrime, Malware Reports, Norton, Reports, Symantec, Tech Net News

ClearCloud DNS Service Bites The Dust – Pick Up The Slack With Norton DNS

Occasionally, when I’m stuck for time, I’ll post an edited version of an earlier article. In choosing an appropriate article, I try to focus on a free application or service that has real value, but is often underappreciated. More and more often though, I’m finding that a free application I reviewed is no longer free, or the free service I recommended, no longer exists.

Another one bites the dust.

Regular reader Georg L., has just notified me that ClearCloud DNS, a free DNS alternative (reviewed here September 5, 2010) which prevented users from visiting sites identified as harboring malware exploits, will be closing the curtain – effective September 1, 2011.

If you are currently using ClearCloud DNS, you will need to reconfigure your network connection prior to September 1, so that your Internet connectivity is not interrupted. You can learn how to remove ClearCloud DNS from your computer by clicking here.


If you’re convinced that an alternative DNS service has value, and you wish to continue to harden your system by substituting your ISP provided DNS service, with a more secure alternative – you have a number of choices to consider, including – Norton DNS, with Norton Safe Web.

Benefits of running with Norton DNS:

Malware Site Blocking – Automatically blocks known dangerous and infected Web sites. Provides a complete overview of the threats found so you know why a site is blocked.

Web Content Filtering – Lets you block Web sites that contain content that you think is inappropriate or dangerous. You can choose from over 45 different categories of content to block and specify individual sites to block.

Here’s an example of Norton DNS in action following my clicking on a spam comment link. 


Further investigation of the Threat Report, reveals the following.


Pretty scary stuff, I think you’ll agree.

You can install Norton DNS either by download and running the installer or, if you want to have a bit of fun – you can choose to install manually. At first glance, you may think this is complicated when it fact, it’s quite easy. So, give it a try, and don’t be nervous.  :)

The screen captures below, reflect the changes I made.

Norton DNS 2

Norton DNS

Manual Setup for Windows:

Open the Control Panel from your Start menu.

Click Network Connections and choose your current connection.

On the General tab of the Connection Status screen, click Properties.

On the General tab of Connection Properties, scroll down and select Internet Protocol (TCP/IP), then click Properties.

On the General tab of Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) Properties, select Use the following DNS server addresses, then enter the two NortonDNS IP addresses and

Click OK until each window is closed. You are now using NortonDNS.

Once installation is complete, you will be presented with the following confirmation screen.


To ensure that you have in fact, been successful in making the change, visit this Norton page. The page will let you know if you are currently using Norton DNS.




System requirements: Windows XP (32-bit) with Service Pack 2 or later, Vista (32-bit and 64-bit) Win 7 (32-bit and 64-bit).

Download at: Norton DNS

Note: Uninstalling or canceling Norton DNS is easy – simply uninstall it. The process will revert your DNS settings to their previous values.

Additional free alternatives include OpenDNS, and Google Public DNS.

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Cyber Crime, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Free Internet Protection, Freeware, Internet Safety Tools, Malware Protection, Norton, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

Norton Cybercrime Index – Scaring You By The Numbers

Where I live in Canada, Winter weather can be very uncertain, and driving and travel conditions are obviously affected accordingly. So, for safety’s sake, it’s important to be aware of highway, expressway, and local road conditions.

A fairly typical February day in my neighborhood:


Luckily, The Weather Network which is available either Online, or via broadcast TV, provides a “road conditions” report which indicates which roads are clear, ice covered, snow covered, slippery, and so on.


I’m very certain that this road conditions report has value, and is an effective aid designed to increase safe driving awareness and reduce the risk factor associated with Winter driving.

But, I’m less certain about a new service (February 16, 2011), Norton Cybercrime Index, which is ostensibly designed to alert users to the slippery spots, and other unsafe road conditions, on the Internet highway – by assigning a unique daily cybercrime index number.


According to the company, “The Norton Cybercrime Index alerts consumers to today’s online trouble-spots and potential hazards, including the day’s most dangerous websites, the most hijacked search terms by cybercriminals, as well as top scams, identity theft and spam. The free tool includes expert news about the day’s most dangerous threat and advice on how to avoid it to stay safe online.”


Adam Palmer, Norton lead cyber security advisor, referencing this new service, made the point that Norton’s “goal is to have people add the Norton Cybercrime Index to their daily routine to get a clear understanding of the dangers that are threatening them online, and to take preventative action to avoid falling victim.”

And that’s where I take issue with this type of “helper aid”. Internet threat level indicators are utter nonsense – they just raise the fear level (a good thing if you sell security applications), and have little, or no, constructive purpose.

Either a continuing unsafe condition exists, or it doesn’t. If it does exist, applying an arbitrary numerical descriptor has no positive impact on a specific individual’s behavior.

Unless one has been on an Intergalactic voyage for the last few years, the average Internet users is reasonably aware that the Internet is a veritable unlimited hunting ground for cybercriminals. The daily specifics covering a few selected threats, out of literally thousands of such new threats, is counterproductive. The reality is, many security threats morph and change by the minute.

I can hear this imaginary conversation at my local pub.

He: I see the Internet threat level hit 142 today.

Me: Yeah, but yesterday it was at 183. Must mean things are getting better, no?

So my question is – just how is Norton Cybercrime Index supposed to make Internet users’ more cyber-aware, and more vigilant? It seems to me that Internet users’ who are lacking in cyber-awareness, or who engage in unsafe surfing practices, are unlikely to pay any attention.

Undoubtedly, the majority of Internet users’ need to “get a clear understanding of the dangers that are threatening them online”, but that requires education, and a consistent dedication to practical principals of cyber security. Not an artificial reliance on a threat indicator that is essentially meaningless, and potentially confusing.

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Filed under cybercrime, downloads, Freeware, Internet Safety, Norton, Online Safety, Point of View, Safe Surfing, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

2 Free Scareware (Rogue Software)Removal Tools – Norton Power Eraser and NoVirusThanks

I just took a second look at two free last resort malware removal tools, which I first looked at in June – Norton Power Eraser and NoVirusThanks. The developers of each tool makes reference to the fact that it is capable of detecting and removing Rogue Software, a scourge that currently infests the Internet.

The first tool – NoVirusThanks Malware Remover, (last updated August 23, 2010), according to the publisher, is “an application designed to detect and remove specific malware, Trojans, worms and other malicious threats that can damage your computer. It includes the ability to remove rogue software, spyware and adware.”

For a complex tool, the user interface is surprisingly simple, since it’s laid out in the familiar tabs and check boxes format, which makes it easy to follow.

Despite the publisher’s assertion that this tool “is very fast”, I didn’t find it particularly so. It took fully 15 minutes to complete the scan. Norton Power Eraser (described later), took less than 2 minutes.

No Virus Thanks 2

On the plus side though, NoVirusThanks Malware Remover did not return any false positives, which is a bit unusual for an aggressive specialty tool. This can be very positive of course, for those users unused to running such a high powered tool.

No Virus Thanks 3

Fast facts:

Accurate Disinfection Method
Remove Rogue Software and Unwanted Applications
Remove Trojans, Spyware and Worms
Quick Scan and Full Scan
Scan Processes
Scans Modules
Scans Registry
Backup Files and Folders
Easy to use

System requirements: Windows 7, Windows 2003, Windows 2000, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Download at:

The second specialty malware removal tool I took a second look at, comes from a more familiar developer – Symantec, who’s free Norton Power Eraser, makes essentially the same claims as NoVirusThanks. Specifically, that it detects and removes scareware, or rogueware.

Symantec describes Norton Power Eraser in part, as a tool that “takes on difficult to detect crimeware known as scareware or rogueware. The Norton Power Eraser is specially designed to aggressively target and eliminate this type of crimeware and restore your PC back to health.”

Again, Norton Power Eraser’s user interface is simple, and easy to follow.

Norton Power Eraser 1

As opposed to NoVirusThanks, Norton did point out (for the second time), two issues that were in fact, false positives, as the following screen capture indicates.

Norton Power Eraser 2

Power Eraser, does offer the user additional information on suspicious files, so that the user can make a more accurate assessment as to the validity of the findings, as the following screen capture shows. You’ll note that in this case NoVirusThanks, is shown as a suspicious file.

It should be shown as a suspicious file, since its behavior replicates, in part, the familiar behavior of malware.

Norton Power Eraser 3

The second suspicious activity “advanced”, refers to my habit of hiding my Desktop icons, since I dislike that cluttered look. Besides which, on all my machines, my work applications are displayed in the Taskbar.

Norton Power Eraser 4

Note: According to Symantec – “You should use Power Eraser only when nothing else will remove the threat, and you are willing to accept the risk that the scanner may quarantine a legitimate program.”

System requirements: Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Download at: Symantec

These tools require advanced computer knowledge, and unless you feel confident in your diagnostic skills, you should avoid them.

Should you choose to add these applications to your antimalware toolbox, be aware that you will need the latest updated version for maximum efficiency.

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Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, cybercrime, downloads, Free Anti-malware Software, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Malware Removal, Manual Malware Removal, Norton, Rogue Software, Rogue Software Removal Tips, scareware, Scareware Removal Tips, Software, Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Free PDF to Word Converter Is A Scam!

image When is free, not free?

How about if you have to answer this question: 881 – (221 – (329 – 146) x 559)= ? or this question (274 – 332) – (34 x 504 – 813) = ? or……………. every time (after the fifth time, or so), you want to use the “free” application? But keep reading – all is not as it seems.

Normally, (but not always), when I recommend a piece of software I’ve tested it for a minimum of thirty days – banging it, slamming it, twisting it and turning it; all in an attempt to break it.

Some time ago, I downloaded Free PDF to Word Doc Converter (through, for testing. Since many developers choose to list their products features in this format, a PDF converter is the type of application that gets a workout around here.

The application I normally use for PDF conversion is, Nuance’s PDF Converter Professional 7. Average users however, are not likely to spent the hundred bucks for this application.

So, by the time I got around to using Free PDF to Word Doc Converter, for the fifth time, or so, the following screen appeared when I pushed the “convert” button.


My first response was annoyance. But, since this was part of testing the application, I went along with it.


After getting the FREE code and entering it in the appropriate box, the following warning appeared.


My first thought was – I made a mistake in the math. But that couldn’t be right since I actually got the code, and not an “incorrect answer” response. As well, while many people do crossword puzzles to keep their mind sharp, I work algebraic solutions every day, for the same purpose. I don’t normally make mistakes in basic math. But….

To be fair to the developer, I repeated this frustration process ten times. It turns out, the developer is an outright liar. This process is a scam – there is no way (despite inserting the correct code), to actually get free registration.

By this time I was pretty annoyed, so I dug into this app, and the developer, a little further. Additional investigation of the developer’s site showed that Norton DNS has now blocked this site, and with good reason. According to Norton – W32.Spybot.Worm, is imbedded in the site.


So, not only is the developer a liar, he’s a cyber criminal hosting a malware site.

Despite this, continues to host this application. Albeit, on their own servers. I’m very disappointed that CNET would even consider hosting this piece of crap. Shame on you CNET – you’re supposed to be better than this!

If you need a free PDF reader/convertor that actually works, then checkout Nuance PDF Reader (registration required). The PDF conversion function, is a cloud based service.

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Filed under Bill's Rants, cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Freeware, internet scams, Malware Advisories, Norton, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

Norton DNS Can Save Your Butt!

In early June, I posted an article – Norton DNS – Another Layer of Computer Security, in which I stated –

You should consider additional system hardening by substituting your ISP provided DNS service, with a more secure alternative.

A few days later, I posted an article – Follow the Link and You “Takes Your Chances”, in which I made the point –

As a matter of policy, I test every allowed link included in a comment, for safety. Spam filters can often miss comment spam, some of which are highly dangerous. While comment Spam is a pain for the Blogger, a reader who follows a link in a malicious Blog comment, which leads to a malware site, is in for a very painful experience.

The following comment emailed to me by WordPress just today, and not picked up by the Askimet spam filter, provides a perfect example where these two intersect:

The email notice:

A new comment on the post “Download TrueCrypt –  TrueCrypt Beats The FBI Decryption Team!” is waiting for your approval.

Author : retnol (IP: ,

E-mail :

URL    :


well, nice post. Thank you for sharing.

Approve it:

Trash it:

Spam it:

On testing the URL (the link), contained in the comment, I get this result from Norton DNS. This is not as uncommon as you might think.


Further investigation of the Threat Report, reveals the following.


Pretty scary stuff, I think you’ll agree.

So, I’ll repeat –

Be cautious when following links contained in comments on any web site – not just Blogs.

Be particularly cautious of comments, on any web site, where the writer is describing a problem with recommended software and offers a link to alternative software.  This is a favorite technique employed by cyber-criminals. All software reviewed on this site, for example, has been thoroughly tested, by me, for usability. If a reader has a problem with recommended software, it’s generally a machine specific problem.

Be cautious when following any link contained in any web page. Recent reports indicate there are 5.8 million individual web pages infected across 640,000 compromised websites. Cyber-criminals are finding it easier than ever to inject malicious content into legitimate sites.

Since the majority of infected sites are infected with Java based scripts, consider using Firefox with the NoScript add-on. NoScript offers superior protection.

Install an Internet Browser add-on that provides protection against questionable, or unsafe websites.

Use Norton DNS as an added safety precaution.

You simply cannot trust links, given the state of the Internet, so if you haven’t hardened your system by substituting your ISP provided DNS service, with a more secure alternative, I urge you to do so.

I deal with comments like this every day – it just happens, that today, I had some spare time to bring this situation to your attention, one more time.

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Filed under cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Internet Safety Tools, Internet Security Alerts, Malware Advisories, Norton, Online Safety, Safe Surfing, Software, Utilities, Viruses, Windows Tips and Tools