Monday, January 26, 2015

MVPS HOSTS File for January available now

I try to make sure I get the latest version of the MVPS HOSTS file installed on all of our PCs. It seems now to be published about every 5 weeks, and the latest was made available on January 24.

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

It is free, and very much worthwhile to have.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Worst passwords of 2014 are just as awful as you can imagine

From the cnet.com website, Worst passwords of 2014 are just as awful as you can imagine

Read the whole article at the above link, but here are the top 25:

1) 123456
2) password
3) 12345
4) 12345678
5) qwerty
6) 1234567890
7) 1234
8) baseball
9) dragon
10) football
11) 1234567
12) monkey
13) letmein
14) abc123
15) 111111
16) mustang
17) access
18) shadow
19) master
20) michael
21) superman
22) 696969
23) 123123
24) batman
25) trustno1

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Windows 7 exits mainstream support: What you need to know

From pcworld.com:

"Yet another end is nigh for Windows 7. After months of buildup—Microsoft killed standalone software sales of the operating system in October 2013, and Windows 7 consumer PCs stopped being manufactured in October 2014—the venerable OS is finally exiting “mainstream support” on January 13, 2015. And for months now, the Web has been flooded with a wave of confused or downright fearmongering headlines and articles implying that Windows 7 is following Windows XP into the graveyard.

It's not.

The confusion here stems from Microsoft's maddeningly obtuse naming conventions. Leaving mainstream support only means that Windows 7 won't be receiving any new features or product tweaks, such as the impressing-sounding DirectX 12 gaming technology slated to launch with Windows 10. You won't be able to call Microsoft for free help if you run into an issue with Windows 7 either. 

Once a Windows desktop operating system leaves mainstream support, it enters the extended support phase—the very same support phase that Windows XP found itself in from early 2009 until its death earlier this year.
You'll still receive those oh-so-critical security patches during extended support, meaning that while Windows 7 won't be in active development beyond next January, it won't be tossed to the wolves of the Web, either. Hotfixes will still be provided, too, assuming they're security related. (Business can sign up for an extended hotfix support plan if your company wants hotfix support for non-security issues.) And those security updates will be coming for a long time, too: Extended support for Windows 7 lasts until January 14, 2020. Heck, commercial PCs with Windows 7 Professional will even continue to be sold for the foreseeable future."

Read more here

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Amazon, Walmart passwords possibly leaked

...and the beat goes on....

From Kim Komando's web site, komando.com

"Another day, another hack. This one isn't cut and dry, though. The notorious hacker group Anonymous released 13,000 passwords on the Internet recently and claimed they came from several popular online stores and sites, including Amazon and Walmart.

But, not everyone is so sure the hack is real. In fact, Walmart has denied the claims outright and others think it might be a hoax. Anonymous posted the file to a file sharing site called Ghostbin. The group also claims that it posted a copy of the controversial movie "The Interview" for users to download.

The file also included the accounts of a number of dating and porn sites, and it appears to have some passwords for a popular security program known as CyberGhost, which protects you from a hacker snooping on you when you use public WiFi hotspots.

Allegedly, the passwords come from Amazon, Dell, Hulu Plus, Origin.com, PlayStation, Shutterstock, Twitch.tv, Walmart and Xbox Live. Just in case the hack is real, there are some security precautions you should take.

While many think the hack is hoax, you should still make sure your accounts are safe just in case. If you have an account on any of the sites possibly affected by the supposed hack, just go in to your account and change your password. That way, if the hack is real, the stolen password will be outdated.

Make sure the new password you choose is strong. Otherwise, you're just opening up your account to more security risks. Click here to read my tips to create a strong password that works.

Changing your password is a simple way to make sure your account is secure. Sadly, nowadays we have to take every hacking threat seriously - even when many think it's nothing more than a hoax."

Monday, December 22, 2014

MVPS HOSTS File (with WHYS & HOWS) for January 2015 Available Now

If you are serious about keeping your computer secure, you need a HOSTS file. The one that comes pre-loaded on any Windows system is empty and does us absolutely no good. Fortunately there is a man who updates and makes available at no charge, a monthly updates loaded HOSTS file. (He does accept contributions!)

Over the course of the life of this blog I have spoken of it very often. Once I created a series of 5 blog posts containing everything one needs to know about what a HOSTS file is, how to get it, and how to install it.

The author of the MVPS HOSTS file has kept everything in place so that his file can be loaded and used in every Windows operating system. I have it loaded, and I download and install the monthly updated file, on my XP, W7, and W8 systems.

You can download the current file here: http://winhelp2002.mvps.org/hosts.htm

If you feel uncomfortable doing this, you can follow my older series of 5 blog posts to give you much more detail. Since I recently deleted Spybot from my security baseline, and if you do the same, you can ignore anything contained in these 5 steps that has to do with Spybot.

Here is a link to the first of the 5 posts. After reading the first one you can use the search box at the top of this page to find #2, and then #3, and so on.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Security Baseline Updated

This is an update to my security baseline. The biggest change is that I have dropped good old Spybot from the list. I never got to like their newer versions and they stopped providing updates to the older version. If you still have version 1.6 be aware that you have not been given updated information in many months, and running the old is probably not doing any good.

Also, and this is very new news, I have upgraded my copy of Malwarebytes to the Premium version. At a price of $24.95 which covers 3 machine installations, I felt the realtime option, available only in Premium, was worth the small expense. Will I upgrade in a year to the newer version as it becomes available? That remains to be seen.

Our home hardware profile has also changed. We now have 2 Windows 8.1 Dell laptops and one Windows 7 desktop. These are the 3 machines we run the Premium Malwarebytes on. Although we still have 2 Windows XP machines, these still run but are not used as regular "production" machines. On these I still run MSE and the free version of Malwarebytes.

1. My anti-virus program of choice is the free Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) aka Windows Defender in Windows 8 & 8.1. This is a very impressive anti-virus program and can replace any you have now. DOWNLOAD HERE

2. Windows Firewall (Standard part of your operating system. Check the Security Center to be sure it is on.)

3. MVPS HOSTS File - download the current month's version and update monthly DOWNLOAD HERE

4. CCleaner - free version - check for newer version than you may already have. Run weekly. DOWNLOAD HERE by clicking on Download Latest Version in the upper right hand corner of the page.

5. Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware - run bi-weekly. DOWNLOAD HERE As noted above I run the Premium version, but the free version is still excellent.

6. SuperAntiSpyware Free Edition - run bi-weekly in the off week after #5. DOWNLOAD HERE

I will be happy to assist you with any or all of the above installations. This can be done remotely.

Questions?  Comment below or write me, pcdoc at brpcdoc dot com