Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Irony alert: Password-storing company is hacked

"No one's safe from hackers -- not even LastPass, a company that stores people's passwords."

It's true. Putting all of one's eggs in one basket may not be the prudent thing to do.

Monday, June 15, 2015

The secret behind why Windows 10 is so good

"Microsoft listened to you. More than anything else, that's why Windows 10 won't be another Windows 8 or Vista."

In conversations with CNNMoney, top decision makers at Dell, Hewlett-Packard (HPQ, Tech30) and Toshiba noted that Microsoft requested their input throughout the process of creating Windows 10. They said Microsoft listened to their feedback -- and, vicariously, PC customers' feedback -- and made a better operating system as a result.

Responding to customer demands. The PC makers said that process was vastly improved from the way that Microsoft (MSFT, Tech30) conducted its business ahead of the Windows 8 launch. They said Windows 8 felt forced on them while Windows 10 felt like more of a conversation.

"It's pretty cool how responsive Microsoft has been to feedback," said Mike Nash, HP's head of product strategy. "We were right there in the room planning Windows 10 with them from very beginning."

"There's a new dawn at Microsoft," said Allison Dew, Dell's marketing chief (and a former Microsoft employee). "What we've seen in terms of development and cooperation with Microsoft this time around is unlike what we've seen in past years."

Windows is good again. The result, they say is a much more refined operating system that customers will get excited about. That's a very different experience from Windows 8, which literally had customers calling their PC companies in droves wondering how to get to the desktop or turn their PCs off.

"We're more excited about this launch than we have been in a really long time," said Dew. "I've been through amazing windows launches and some that weren't quite as amazing. This has the feel of something amazing."

"Windows 8 was a difficult out-of-the-box adjustment to consumers," said Jeff Barney, head of Toshiba's U.S. PC business. "Windows 10 has good features and is generating some buzz -- that's enough to get people back to the PC market.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

MVPS HOSTS File for June available now

Okay, I sound like a broken record, but this is important!

The MVPS HOSTS file should be an integral part of your Windows security. It will keep you, or anyone using your machine, from going to known problem web sites. A new version comes out once a month and I always try to make sure I have the latest. Did I mention it is FREE?

You can download it from here: http://winhelp2002.mvps.org/hosts.htm

The current version became available on June 4. On the above page, right click on hosts.zip and select Save Link As and download it (I recommend downloading to your Desktop because you will use this file and delete it after you install the current version). Once downloaded to your desktop, right click on the zipped folder and select Extract All. This will create another folder named HOSTS. Open up that folder by double-clicking on it and then right click on the file MVPS.bat, and select "run as administrator". The new HOSTS file will then be installed, replacing our old HOSTS file (yes, you will always have one, even on a new machine, since an empty and useless HOSTS file already exists on your system). The blue window that next appears will inform you that the new file has been installed.

Lastly delete both of the HOSTS folders on your desktop. They have served their purpose and are no longer needed..

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

IRS Using 13-Yr. Old Microsoft Software

Oops! This is hard to believe.

 
From foxbusiness.com:

"IRS computers are still running the 13-year old Microsoft (MSFT) Windows XP operating software which Microsoft stopped supporting a year ago with security updates. Even the agency’s fraud-catching software is two decades old. The outdated software may have played a role in the breach the IRS announced last week in which thieves hacked into the agency’s online service and gained access to more than 100,000 taxpayer accounts.

The criminals used personal data obtained from other sources, including Social Security numbers, street addresses and dates of birth to get into the IRS’ “Get Transcript” service. The service was subsequently shut down. The thieves gained access to tax returns and other tax information on file with the IRS.

During an IRS budget hearing in April before the House Financial Services and General Government Committee, the chairman, Rep. Ander Crenshaw, questioned why the agency had been so slow to upgrade to Windows 7. “Now we find out that you’ve been struggling to come up with $30 million to finish migrating to Windows 7, even though Microsoft announced in 2008 that it would stop supporting Windows XP past 2014,” the Congressman said. “I know you probably wish you’d already done that.”

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen has said budget cuts have kept the service from upgrading, telling Congressional members that “we still have applications that were running when John F. Kennedy was president.”

The news comes as cold comfort to the tens of thousands of Americans who have had their identity stolen as a result of filing their taxes. And, the breaches can be no surprise to the IRS itself which has been warned repeatedly by the Government Accountability Office over limited  security controls. In the most recent report, the GAO found 69 potential problems, including weak employee passwords.

The tax reporting agency is embroiled in several scandals. The agency used its powers to delay or deny non-profit status applications by groups with “tea party” and “patriot” in their names, an overreach of power that has led to a criminal investigation by the agency’s inspector general.  Further, its aggressive hounding of small businesses, including seizing bank accounts of businesses the agency suspects of involvement in criminal activity was halted because of complaints late last year."

Monday, June 1, 2015

Windows 10

Here we go! Starting down the road to Windows 10. I reserved my free upgrade.


Monday, May 11, 2015

MVPS HOSTS file for May available now

The MVPS HOSTS file should be an integral part of your Windows security. It will keep you, or anyone using your machine, from going to known problem web sites. A new version comes out once a month and I always try to make sure I have the latest. Did I mention it is FREE?

You can download it from here: http://winhelp2002.mvps.org/hosts.htm

The current version became available on May 5. On the above page, right click on hosts.zip and select Save Link As and download it (I recommend downloading to your Desktop because you will use this file and delete it after you install the current version). Once downloaded to your desktop, right click on the zipped folder and select Extract All. This will create another folder named HOSTS. Open up that folder by double-clicking on it and then right click on the file MVPS.bat, and select "run as administrator". The new HOSTS file will then be installed, replacing our old HOSTS file (yes, you will always have one, even on a new machine, since an empty and useless HOSTS file already exists on your system). The blue window that next appears will inform you that the new file has been installed.

Lastly delete both of the HOSTS folders on your desktop. They have served their purpose and are no longer needed..

Thursday, May 7, 2015

New fast-spreading virus destroys PCs

Okay, it's true: I get a lot from the Kim Komando web site, and you should too. Visit it every day at komando.com.

Today's post here:

"There's dangerous new malware out there called Rombertik that could steal your personal information and destroy your PC. If you try to get rid of it, the malware could trap your computer in an endless reboot cycle.

Rombertik usually infects computers using a malicious file attached to a phishing email. In some cases, this email is designed to look like a message from Microsoft. The malware can steal login credentials and other information you enter into websites.

Rombertik also checks to see if it's being analyzed or if other programs are trying to delete it. If it detects this kind of activity, it will try to delete a file called the Master Boot Record (MBR). This can cause your computer to go into an endless restart cycle when it is turned off and turned back on. The malware also has some other tricks up its sleeve.

One involves writing a byte of data to memory 960 million times to overwhelm analysis tools that try to spot malware by logging system activity.

Since it's extremely difficult to get rid of, the best way to protect yourself from Rombertik is to avoid it altogether. You can do that by knowing how to spot phishing emails so you don't open them. Click here to see a phishing email example and learn more about how to spot them.

And, remember, never open an email attachment from a sender you don't know. It's most likely filled with malicious software that can harm your computer.

If you're computer is infected by Rombertik, you'll likely lose valuable data. If the malware successfully deletes the MBR file on your computer, you will have to reinstall the Windows operating system."