Category Archives: Spyware – Adware Protection

Think BEFORE You Click! – How Hard Is That?

imageHARD, apparently.

I recently repeated a small experiment (for the third year in a row), with a group of “average computer user” friends, (12 this time around), and I was disappointed to see (once again), that the conditioned response issue to “just click” while surfing the web, was still there.

Still, I’m always hopeful that reinforcing the point that clicking haphazardly, without considering the consequences – the installation of malicious code that can cause identity theft and the theft of passwords, bank account numbers, and other personal information – would have had some impact. Apparently not.

But, I haven’t given up. I’m prepared to hammer them repeatedly until such time as I can make some progress. In the meantime, I expect that curiously browsing the web blissfully unaware of the considerable malware dangers, will continue to be the modus operandi for my friends.

They’re not alone in their “clicking haphazardly” bad habits. Many of us have learned to satisfy our curiosity simply by a mouse click here, and a mouse click there. Arguable, we have developed a conditioned response (without involving conscious thought), to – “just click”.

It can be argued, that our “just click” mindset poses the biggest risk to our online safety and security. In fact, security experts argue, that a significant number of malware infections could be avoided if users stopped “just clicking haphazardly”, or opening the types of files that are clearly dangerous. However, this type of dangerous behavior continues despite the warnings.

Most visitors to this site are above average users (I’m assuming that you are too), so, I have a challenge for you.

Take every appropriate opportunity to inform your friends, your relatives, and associates, that “just clicking haphazardly” without considering the consequences, can lead to the installation of malicious code that can cause identity theft and the theft of passwords, bank account numbers, and other personal information.

Help them realize that “just clicking”, can expose them to:

  • Trojan horse programs
  • Back door and remote administration programs
  • Denial of service attacks
  • Being an intermediary for another attack
  • Mobile code (Java, JavaScript, and ActiveX)
  • Cross-site scripting
  • Email spoofing
  • Email-borne viruses
  • Packet sniffing

They’ll be glad that you took an interest in their online safety. And, best of all, by doing this, you will have helped raise the level of security for all of us.

A point to ponder:

Since it’s proven to be difficult to get “buy-in” on this – “think before you click safety strategy” – I generally ask the question – do you buy lottery tickets? Not surprisingly, the answer is often – yes. The obvious next question is – why?

The answers generally run along these lines – I could win; somebody has to win;……. It doesn’t take much effort to point out that the odds of a malware infection caused by poor Internet surfing habits are ENORMOUSLY higher than winning the lottery and, that there’s a virtual certainty that poor habits will lead to a malware infection.

The last question I ask before I walk away shaking my head is – if you believe you have a chance of winning the lottery – despite the odds – why do you have a problem believing that you’re in danger on the Internet because of your behavior, despite the available stats that prove otherwise?

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Kill Malware And Fix Windows With Free UVK – Ultra Virus Killer

imageI’d venture to guess, that the majority of computer users take it for granted, that – if they should become infected by malware –  their antimalware application will do all the hard work in detecting and removing the infection. All will be well, once more, with the World – so to speak.  Good luck with that!

Given the complexity of much of today’s malware, its removal can hamper normal Windows operations; leading to an unstable system (or worse). To deal with that, most users will have to seek professional help. Unless, that is, they can turn to a specialty system repair tool like UVK – Ultra Virus Killer (portable version available).

Given the application’s name, it would be easy to assume that the focus here is on scanning for, and removing malware. And, to a point, that’s true – the application can be set to scan with MalwareBytes, SUPERAntiSpyware, and Hitman Pro (these applications will be automatically downloaded and installed, if not already on your system). Additionally, you may choose to run Kaspersky TDSS Killer and ComboFix.

The real strength of the application, in my view, lies in the repair tools which have been designed to repair Windows (if necessary), after the disinfection. On top of that – users may create and run scripts that perform complete system repair and maintenance.

Quick walkthrough:

The following “Welcome” screen is the business end of the application. From here you can –  analyze and clean your machine of malware, spyware and adware, and perform complete system repair and maintenance.

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This is a rather full program with a range of capabilities. I have chosen to highlight just a few, for this short review.

Startup Entries and services and Drivers/Tasks:

Delete startup entries, infected services, drivers or scheduled tasks and corresponding files simultaneously.
Select and manage several entries at once.
Verify startup entries files signatures.
Search information about a file over the internet.
Submit one or more entries files MD5 to VirusTotal using the VT API.
Open the registry key where the entry is located with regedit.
Open the entry’s file location.
View the entry’s file properties.
Maximizable window on these sections for a better view.

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Run UVK Scripts:

Disinfect your computer by pasting lines from UVK log to delete corresponding registry entries and files.
Use custom commands to download files, execute programs, delete or add registry entries, terminate processes and delete files and folders, run cmd scripts and register system dll’s or run UVK Fixes.
Create system restore points, empty the recycle bin and all users temporary folders.
Create and run scripts that perform complete system repair and maintenance.
Automatically run any of the UVK fixes or scans.

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Repair system and UVK Fixes:

Fix your computer with more than fifty exclusive fixes: Fix file extensions, register system dlls, enable and repair Windows update, clear dns and hosts cache, reset user default registry settings, fix installation problems, empty all browsers cache, reset security settings, defragment and optimize the hard drives, install Java, Flash, DirectX, .Net Framework, Fix the WMI and the system restore, delete all restore points, fix the windows shell and the user shell folders and much more.

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Automatic anti-malware scans:

Perform automated scans with the most known malware removal programs: MalwareBytes’ AntiMalware, SuperAntiSpyware, Hitman Pro, Kaspersky TDSS Killer and ComboFix.
Automatically delete the threats found in the scans.
Run a configurable automated UVK system repair script after the scans.
Run ComboFix in unattended mode.
Perform all these actions automatically with no user interaction, which can save several hours of work.

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Then, on to SUPERAntiSpyware.

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In the short time I’ve been running this application – I’ve been impressed. I’ll keep this one around.

I should point out – taking full advantage of all of the features of this application, requires better than average skills.

Checkout the full feature list (much, much more), here – UVK – Ultra Virus Killer

Download at the developer’s site: carifred.com

Developer’s Note:

If your .exe file extension has been corrupted by malware, download the .com version.

You can take a peek at the application in action. Watch – UVK – Ultra Virus Killer – Powerful Virus Removal & System Repair Tool by Britec, on YouTube.

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Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Computer Tools, Free Anti-malware Software, Freeware, Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware, Manual Malware Removal, Software, Spyware - Adware Protection, SUPERAntiSpyWare

WinPatrol Plus – ONLY $5 This Weekend

imageI’m often asked to describe the security applications I run on my primary home machine and, I’ll occasionally post an article which does just that. Regular readers will have noticed, that consistent with that old aphorism “the only constant is change”, my choices of security applications over the years have frequently changed. Except, that is, for one application – WinPatrol.

WinPatrol makes my indispensible program list every time – as it has for the last 10 years, or more (WinPatrol is now in its 20th version). No other security application, on any of my machines, comes close to that.

There are a host of additional features that make WinPatrol a very powerful addition to your security toolbox.

From the site:

Instead of a $29.95 upgrade to WinPatrol PLUS this weekend upgrading will only for $5. Like our everyday pricing you can use your single license on every personal computer you own and use it for your lifetime including any new versions we release.

For our friends in Europe $5 USD currently converts to about €3.73 so it’s even a better deal. $25 USD converts to about €18.7 at least by today’s rate.

The sale starts midnight, Friday morning EST time zone.

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WinPatrol Overview:

WinPatrol’s strong point is – it monitors system areas that malicious programs attack. The free version of this highly regarded application doesn’t stop there though. With WinPatrol in your system tray, you can monitor your system, startup programs, services, cookies, current tasks, and more.

If anything changes, Scotty (the system tray Icon) will alert you. Taking it one step further; WinPatrol allows you to terminate processes and enable, or disable, startup programs.

WinPatrol’s user interface couldn’t be any simpler. New users should have no difficulty following this self explanatory layout.

Selecting options is “click the box” simple.

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The following screen shot shows currently running applications on my machine, at the time the window was captured.

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The following screen shot shows recent activity. The right click context menu allows the user to perform a number of operations on the selected entry. I’ve illustrated this by selecting “Properties” of the highlighted .dll.

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WinPatrol Free – Feature Chart

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Additional Features in WinPatrol Plus

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System requirements: Window XP, Vista, Win 7 ( including x64 support).

Download WinPatrol Free at: BillP Studios

If you’re currently a WinPatrol user – don’t keep it a secret. Let you friends/relatives/associates know – WinPatrol is a must have application.

From the site:

Instead of a $29.95 upgrade to WinPatrol PLUS this weekend upgrading will only for $5. Like our everyday pricing you can use your single license on every personal computer you own and use it for your lifetime including any new versions we release.

For our friends in Europe $5 USD currently converts to about €3.73 so it’s even a better deal. $25 USD converts to about €18.7 at least by today’s rate.

Download WinPatrol Plus at: BillP Studios

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Anti-Malware Tools, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Freeware, HIPS, Software, Spyware - Adware Protection, System Utilities

Best Free Security Applications – The Hot Naked Truth!

imageWithout a doubt, the most popular question that comes my way, in one form or another is – which antivirus application(s) would you recommend?

This question is asked so often; I think it’s probably a good idea to answer it in a post every six months, or so.

My response:

Let me answer this by telling you what I run on my principal home machine. But, before I do, let’s talk a bit about Host Intrusion Prevention Systems (HIPS) since, as you’ll see, more and more security applications are including HIPS – or a combination of HIPS, and behavior based blocking components.

There’s not much point in reinventing the wheel, so I’ll go with this description of HIPS/behavior blocking, from About.com:

A host intrusion prevention system (HIPS) monitors each activity a program attempts and (depending on configuration) prompts the user for action or responds based on predefined criteria. Conversely, behavior blockers monitor and profile whole program behavior. When a collection of behaviors tips the scale, the behavior blocker will (depending on configuration) alert the user or take action against the entire program based on predefined criteria.

Though they sound similar, HIPS is application-level control (i.e. this program is allowed to do X but not Y), whereas behavior blocking is more cut and dry – the entire application is either good (allowed) or it is not. Fortunately, many of these types of products combine both.

Got that? Good.   Smile

Despite the fact that I’m provided with a free license for all the security applications I test, I have chosen to run with the following applications.

Microsoft Security Essentials (free) – an all-in-one antimalware application.

Immunet Protect – a free Cloud based companion antimalware application.

ThreatFire (free) – this application is built around a Host Intrusion Prevention System (HIPS), and behavior based blocking combination. I’m currently testing a new HIPS application – NoVirusThanks EXE Pro – and I’ve been more than impressed to see ThreatFire step in and prevent any system changes by NoVirusThanks – until I approve those changes.

WinPatrol (free) – another HIPS application with considerable additional functionality. WinPatrol is the elder statesman of this application class and, it just keeps on getting better. A must have application.

PC Tools Firewall Plus (free) – PC Tools Firewall Plus is advanced Firewall technology designed for typical users, not just experts.  The “plus” refers to a HIPS component. Generally, if the ThreatFire HIPS component is triggered on my machine, PC Tools Firewall Plus is triggered as well.

When the NoVirusThanks EXE Pro review is posted shortly, you’ll see screen capture evidence of this.

Zemana AntiLogger (paid) – In my view simply the best keylogger defense available.  AntiLogger includes a System Defense module that works similarly to HIPS – to protect the whole system.

As an illustration, the following screen capture shows the System Defense module blocked NoVirusThanks EXE Pro (the application I’m currently testing), until I gave permission.

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Each of these applications has been reviewed (some several times), on my site. You can follow the links below to specific review articles.

Microsoft Security Essentials

Immunet Protect

ThreatFire

WinPatrol

PC Tools Firewall Plus

Zemana AntiLogger

Finally, additional Browser protection is a critical ingredient in overall system protection. I recommend that you read the following article here – Updated: An IT Professional’s Must Have Firefox and Chrome Add-ons.

Yes, the title of this article is more than a little off the wall. My blogging buddy TechPaul, made the point not too long ago, that manipulative key words like hot, naked, sex, boobs, nudity …….. well, you get the point – unfairly capture readers attention. I’m testing that theory.  Smile

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Filed under Anti-Keyloggers, Anti-Malware Tools, Cyber Crime, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Free Anti-malware Software, Free Firewalls, Free Security Programs, Freeware, HIPS, Malware Protection, Online Safety, Spyware - Adware Protection, System Security, Windows Tips and Tools

300 Free Emsisoft Anti-Malware License Giveaway At MalwareTips.com

imageThe good people over at MalwareTips.com are at it again – this time out, the guys have 300 one year licenses to giveaway for one of the better AV applications on the market – Emsisoft Anti-Malware.

Fast facts:

2 combined scanners for cleaning: Anti-Virus + Anti-Malware

    • Not just any scanners, but a combination of two world class products – the Emsisoft Anti-Malware, and the Ikarus Anti-Virus engine. Latest tests approve that both are cutting edge in Malware detection.
    • No doubling of the scan duration as would be the case with two separate scanning programs. Considerable performance improvement is possible thanks to the integration of the two engines on the lowest level.
    • No double price – two top security products for the price of one.

3 guards against new infections: file guard, behavior blocker and surf protection

  • Since version 5: The new, free configurable file guard compares all files that are downloaded or started with about 4 million patterns of known malicious software.
  • Unlike conventional protection systems Emsisoft Anti-Malware does not only check files, but it also constantly monitors the behavior of all active programs and raises an alarm as soon as something suspicious happens.
  • Typical ways of infection are disabled in advance. Websites that try to plant trojans or spyware or that offer deceptive contents are blocked by the surf protection.
  • Signature updates at least 5 times per day, in combination with the zero-day protection of the behavior analysis this guarantees the best possible protection from new infections.

3 ways of Malware removal to clean every infection

  • When a Malware infection is detected, the scanner puts the found objects under quarantine or deletes them finally.
  • For tough problems our helpful Malware experts are at your disposal for free. With their step-by-step advises, any infection, no matter how resistant it is, can be purged – guaranteed.
  • Anti-Malware holds plenty of advanced options for experts to detect and delete Malware manually. For this purpose the integrated system analysis tool HiJackFree is included, and helps you to have all processes, services, auto-runs, open ports, browser plug-ins and host entries under your control.

Take a run over to MalwareTips.com, read the article carefully, and follow the instructions to obtain a 12 month license.

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Anti-Malware Tools, Don't Get Hacked, Free Full Versions, Giveaways, Malware Protection, Recommended Web Sites, Spyware - Adware Protection, Windows Tips and Tools

Free AntiMalware Software – And More – For Senior Computer Users

Looking at recent Internet usage statisticsimage, it seems obvious to me that older adults are now realizing that they don’t have to understand the “nitty gritty” of computer technology to send email-mail to friends and family, shop online, play games, make greeting cards, read book and film reviews, look into family genealogy, or find valuable health information on the Internet.

Here’s just one personal example of how older adults have jumped on the Internet bandwagon, and use it to great advantage.

Not too long ago, I ran into some older friends (in their 60s), who had recently gotten home after wintering in Florida. Throughout their time away (5 months, or so), they stayed in touch with their children, and grandchildren – virtually on a daily basis, using the free audio/video communication application, Skype. What a great use of technology!

Like the rest of us, Senior users are susceptible to cybercrime, and like the rest of us, need to protect their computers against the ever increasing exposure we all face to Trojans, Spyware, Viruses, Phishing Scams, and Identity Theft, while connected to the Internet.

Just for the record thought – statistically, it’s the deceptively named“tech savvy” generation, with their often misplaced confidence in their own abilities, who are more predisposed to malware infections and cyber criminal manipulation. Older users it seems, do know what they don’t know. My personal experience with a broad range of users, echoes these statistics.

For those that are members of this newly liberated group of Senior computer users, (who are not aggressive surfers), I’ve compiled a list of free anti-malware, and additional recommended applications, with simplicity of operation in mind – no manuals to digest, no tricky configuration to undertake; just install, and the applications will essentially do the rest.

But first:

Patch your operating system:

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Download and install all available patches, and service packs – if applicable, by connecting to Windows Update. Security Gurus will tell you that 50% of unpatched, and unprotected systems, will be infected with malicious code within 12 minutes of being connected to the Internet. Believe it!

Recommended Security Solutions:

PC Tools Firewall Plus 7:

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I’ve been running with this application for more than a year, and I must admit – I’m impressed with its performance. It installs easily, sets up quickly, and has not caused any conflicts despite my sometimes esoteric running requirements. The default settings are well thought out, and provide excellent protection for all users but particularly, less experience users.

Microsoft Security Essentials

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Easy to set up and run, particularly for new users. The interface is positively simple – offering Quick Scan, Full Scan, or Custom Scan. Provides full real time protection against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software. Additionally, Microsoft Security Essentials is free for small businesses with up to 10 PCs.

Immunet Free Antivirus

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Companion Antivirus: a superior community driven cloud based security application, which continues to gain increasing popularity – and rightfully so. In real time, Immunet keeps track of the state of security in the collective community (network), and should a member of the network (the community), encounter malware, you (as a member of the protected community), are instantly protected against the threat.

ThreatFire

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ThreatFire blocks mal-ware, including zero-day threats, by analyzing program behavior and it does a stellar job. This is one of the security applications that forms part of my own front line defenses.

SpyShelter Personal Free:

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SpyShelter is free anti-keylogging, anti-spyware program that protects your data from Keylogging and spy programs: known, unknown, and under-development. It detects and blocks dangerous and malicious programs, to help ensure that your data cannot be stolen by cyber criminals.

Firefox 4.0.1

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While Firefox is not technically an anti-malware application per se, with the most effective security add-ons, including NoScript, Adblock Plus and BetterPrivacy installed, it effectively acts as one.

Firefox 4.0.1 includes hundreds of improvements over previous versions.

WOT

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Web of Trust, a browser add-on which offers Internet users active preventive protection against Web-based attacks, online scams, identify theft, and unreliable shopping sites.

WinPatrol 20.5.2

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With WinPatrol, in your system tray, you can monitor system areas that are often changed by malicious programs. You can monitor your startup programs and services, cookies and current tasks. Should you need to, WinPatrol allows you to terminate processes and enable, or disable, startup programs. There are additional features that make WinPatrol a very powerful addition to your security applications.

Keep in mind, malware itself is only part of the problem. The method used to deliver the malware – social engineering – is the most significant problem currently, for an average user. Social engineering, is a sure winner for the bad guys.

Cyber-criminals are increasingly relying on social engineering to create an opportunity designed to drop malicious code, including rootkits, password stealers, Trojan horses, and spam bots on our computers.

Overcoming the instinctive human response to social engineering (and we all have it), to just “click” while surfing the Internet, will prove to be challenging . This instinctive response, will pose one of the biggest risks to your online safety and security.

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Filed under Anti-Keyloggers, Anti-Malware Tools, Cyber Criminals, cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Firefox, Firefox Add-ons, Free Firewalls, Freeware, Internet Safety for Seniors, Malware Protection, New Computer User Software Tools, PC Tools, Skype, Software, Spyware - Adware Protection, Windows Tips and Tools

Malwarebytes – A Must Have for Every PC Tech

Guest writer Julie Myers, gives us her personal take (backed up by her 14 years in IT Support), on why she believes Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware should be a part of every PC Tech’s toolbox.

Once Upon a Time

imageOnce upon a time, computers were free to roam the Internet. Websites took up very little space and not much traffic was on the sparkling new information highway. It was a time of early development and little risk for business folks. It was a time of discovery and information sharing for everyone else.

Nothing tried to rob our computers of their speed, network connectivity, or corrupt a file, nor unknowingly get our computers to spread a virus. Roaming the Internet was fun, though sometimes boring – but, crime free.

Times Have Changed

Unfortunately, it is no longer “once upon a time”. Today, the greatest threat to a computer is malware and the best post-invasion force is you, the PC Tech. As a PC Tech, your job is to rid the computer of malware. To do this you need an arsenal of the best software tools, and Google.

Since the best anti-malware software changes from time to time, it is important to stay current with which ones are the best. As of June, 2011, one of the best free anti-malware software programs, that you must have, is Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware.

Why Malwarebytes

Malwarebytes just plain works. A team of ten PC Techs and I, have run Malwarebytes on at least two hundred infected computers, over the past year, with outstanding success (there were, of course, a few computers that were so badly infected all tools failed, thus the only solution was to reimage).

Malwarebytes downloads and installs quickly. And, the user interface is relatively easy to figure out and navigate. It takes around 25 minutes to an hour to run a full scan, depending on how much data is on the user’s hard drive, and how badly infected the computer is. And, the user interface is relatively easy to figure out and navigate.

The employees at Malwarebytes Corp. do such an outstanding job at keeping on top of the latest threats, and programming their software to delete it from a computer, all you need to do is make sure you have the latest engine update before running a scan. From what I have seen Malwarebytes removes a variety of malware, 9 out of 10 times, with just one scan and a reboot.

Here are some additional features to get you even more excited:

  • It’s free. There is a PRO version that is very reasonably priced at $24.95 per license and the added features seem well worth the cost.
  • Scans are relatively fast compared to other malware software. The PRO version is said to be even faster.
  • It does a full scan on all drives, both free and PRO version.
  • PRO version has a real-time active malware prevention engine. In other words, the free version has to be run manually to scan your hard drive. The PRO version can be configured to run automatically in the background.
  • Currently, Malwarebytes will run on Windows 2000, XP, Vista and 7 (32bit and 64bit).

Danger Continues

In the foreseeable future, malware will continue to be a threat to computers. You, the PC Tech, will need to keep up to date with the best tools to rid computers of these annoyances. Today, Malwarebytes is one of the best free anti-malware tools out there.

Good luck, and don’t swear at the computer too much. Now, go visit Malwarebytes.org and add their anti-malware software to your arsenal.

For more details and to download Malwarebytes, go to: http://www.malwarebytes.org

To compare the differences between the free and PRO versions, go to: http://www.malwarebytes.org/products/malwarebytes_free

Biography:

Guest writer Julie Myers has been in IT Support for 14 years, surfing the Internet since the mid 90s, and has been playing around with computers since the Apple II. Currently, Julie is tinkering with creating websites and she’s in the process of learning Java.

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Anti-Malware Tools, cybercrime, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Free Anti-malware Software, Freeware, Guest Writers, Malware Removal, Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware, Software, Spyware - Adware Protection, System Security, Technicians Advise, Windows Tips and Tools