Monday, April 18, 2016

Homeland Security warns Windows PC users to uninstall Quicktime

The Department of Homeland Security and a top cybersecurity firm have advised Windows PC users to uninstall Apple's Quicktime video player immediately after two new bugs were found in the software.

In a blog post published Thursday, the Trend Micro security firm said that Apple was no longer issuing security updates for Quicktime for Windows, despite the presence of the bugs. Trend Micro said the bugs could be used to launch attacks on PCs if users visit a compromised web page or open a tained file.

Trend Micro said it was not aware of any cases where the bugs had been exploited by hackers. The warning does not apply to Quicktime on Mac operating systems.

DHS's United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) put out a similar alert Thursday warning that Windows PC users were vulnerable to viruses and other threats due to the security flaws.

"The only mitigation available is to uninstall QuickTime for Windows," US-CERT's alert said.

There has been no public comment from Apple on the situation, though the company has posted instructions for uninstalling Quicktime for Windows on its website.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Updated ransomware can't be cracked, costing people thousands

Two things to say:

One, be sure you are backing up all of your data on a regular basis. I use SOS backup, but there are many other ways to do this.

Two, be careful out there and use extreme caution when opening files or attachments from unknown sources.

From Kim Komando's web site today:

"Warfare is a constant back and forth between offense and defense, and the same rules hold true for cyberwarfare. A hacker finds a weakness in a program, the developer patches the weakness, the hacker finds another weakness, the developer patches the weakness, and so on.

However, that formula got flipped in the case of the TeslaCrypt ransomware. It was a major problem last year, but then security companies figured out its weakness and were able to decrypt and recover people's files without paying hackers. Unfortunately, the hackers behind TeslaCrypt learned their lesson and it's back and stronger than before.

In the original version of TeslaCrypt, the ransomware stored the key for decrypting the files on the victim's computer. That let security companies find it and use it to unlock the files. The new version of TeslaCrypt, version 3.01, moves the key to the hacker's server and deletes it off the victim's computer. That means there's no way for the victim to get around the encryption.

If you get TeslaCrypt on your computer, you'll either have to pay to get your file back or wipe the computer and start over. You better hope you backed up your files. Although, the FBI is warning that new versions of ransomware are starting to seek out and destroy local backups, so make sure you have an off-site backup as well.

Unfortunately, ransomware threats are growing at a fast rate, so you're increasingly likely to encounter this threat. Your best bet is to keep it an arm's length with strong security software.

We recommend our sponsor Kaspersky Lab. Its award-winning software is trusted by 400 million people and 270,000 business worldwide. It also has 3,000 security experts on staff working to identify and defeat the biggest threats to your security.

Get Kaspersky Total Security today and save 50% just for being a Komando reader. A single license of Kaspersky Total Security covers up to five gadgets, including Windows, Mac, Android and iOS.

Strong security is one critical part of staying safe from ransomware. Learn some other things you'll want to do to stay safe."

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Teenagers react to Windows 95, cannot imagine what their elders endured

A fun article for those of us who remember Windows 95

Bill Gates, chairman of software giant Microsoft, stands on stage during the launching of the new Windows 95 software to Spanish clients Sept. 5 at a Madrid theatre (Reuters).  

The majority of teenagers alive today weren't alive in the 90s, meaning the oldest version of Windows they're likely to be familiar with is Windows XP.

If that tidbit makes you feel old, you might not want to watch the latest React video from Fine Brothers Entertainment, in which a bunch of teenagers are exposed to the wonders of mid-90s computing and Windows 95 for the first time in their lives. They're not impressed.


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Microsoft's Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool

It is good to see this neat tool that scans your system for bad guys is still around, free, and downloaded to your system automatically by Microsoft.

It is a very easy to use tool and I use it every month to do a FULL SCAN of my systems. Note that if you do nothing with the tool, it will run a QUICK SCAN automatically and you will never know this unless it finds problems.

I just ran a Full Scan today. Note that the version of the product is indicated at the top of the first screen you will see. In this case, it is February 2016.



 It took about one hour and 45 minutes to run the full scan. It will not slow you down, so go ahead and do it. An ounce of prevention.......


Since the tool is installed every month along with the other Windows updates, it is already on your machines.

Simply click START then RUN then key in MRT and then OK to get it going. If you don't see Run, click on Start and then search for Run.




Friday, February 12, 2016

Downloading free programs

I recommend http://www.filehippo.com/ for downloading free programs.

http://filehippo.com/download_ccleaner/ is their page for downloading CCLEANER. Once there, click on the green bar in the upper right corner of the window to get the latest version..

http://www.filehippo.com/download_malwarebytes_anti_malware/ is their page to download Malwarebytes. Once there, click on the green bar in the upper right corner of the window to get the latest version.

Above are two free programs I recommend to all Windows users.

Questions, use the Comments feature of this blog. At the end of this post, click on Comments. Then sign in using your Google account or sign in as Anonymous. If you use Anonymous, please add your name at the end of your comment.



Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Apps to Manage Passwords So They Are Harder to Crack Than ‘Password’

More on password strength, this time from the New York Times.

"It became official again this week: We are awful at passwords.

Year after year, studies show that many people still rely on passwords that are so weak that even a 5-year-old could crack them. According to a study released this week by SplashData, a developer of password management software, consumers continue making the riskiest choices with passwords by consistently using overly simple ones.

The highly unimaginative “123456” and “starwars,” for instance, were among the most commonly used passwords of 2015, SplashData said.

Now for a confession: I am no better than the rest of you. The password management app Dashlane recently ran a security audit of all my passwords — and what it found was ugly. It revealed that out of my 70 passwords, I had reused the same one 46 times. Twenty-five of the passwords were flagged as being particularly weak, or easy for a hacker to crack.

In my shame and embarrassment, I put together a guide of best practices for passwords and tested some tools that would help manage them. Here’s what it boils down to: To have the safest passwords protecting your digital life, each password should be unique and complex. But since memorizing 70 unique and complex passwords is nearly impossible, we also need password manager programs to keep track of them all.
 
Jeremiah Grossman, the founder of WhiteHat Security, a web security firm, says he memorizes only a few passwords, including one to unlock his computer, and another to unlock an encrypted USB drive containing a file with a list of all his passwords for dozens of services. None of his passwords are memorable because they are random.

“I select them quite literally by banging on the keyboard a few times like a monkey,” Mr. Grossman said in an interview, adding, “My setup is a bit more paranoid than the average person.”

The rest of us need password managers, a type of app that locks passwords in a vault and allows access to them with one master password. I tested three popular password management services — LastPass, Dashlane and 1Password — for several days. All were similar, with 1Password standing out as the most cleanly designed (and least annoying) password management tool.

To put the password managers to the test, I began by cleaning up my password hygiene. I spent two and a half hours logging in to all 70 of my Internet accounts and changing each password, one at a time. Following the advice of security experts, I created long, complex passwords consisting of nonsensical phrases, lines from movies or one-sentence summaries of strange life events, and added numbers and special characters. (Samples: My favorite number is Green4782# or The cat ate the CoTTon candy 224%.)

Then I turned to the password managers, which store your passwords and make them accessible with a master password. Naturally, your master password should be rock solid. So for each of the three apps, I created a complex master password and jotted those down on a piece of paper. After a few days I memorized those passwords and threw away the paper.

I recommend 1Password for several reasons. The app consistently and automatically detected whenever I logged in to websites or created new passwords to ask if I wanted to add a password to the vault.

When logging in to a site, I clicked on the 1Password icon in a computer browser or opened the app on a phone, entered my master password and selected the service I wanted to log in to in order to plug in the password. (1Password can be set up to require the master password after a certain amount of time, say five minutes, if you don’t want to keep entering it; on iPhones it can be configured to unlock the vault with your fingerprint instead of the master password.)

Of the password managers I tested, Dashlane was the most frustrating because it nagged me with too many questions. After I used Dashlane to log in to TicketWeb to order movie tickets, the app asked if I wanted to save a copy of the receipt inside its vault. In the process of doing that, it froze the browser and I lost access to the web tickets for a moment. Also, whenever I created a new password, Dashlane sent notifications asking if I wanted the app to automatically generate passwords for me — which was not my preference.

Dashlane said the app was proactive about notifications partly because it was designed for users who may not be technically savvy.

“With password management becoming something that mainstream consumers care about, the simplicity of the product needs to be completely different,” Emmanuel Schalit, Dashlane’s chief executive, said in an interview. “We tried to build a solution that a not sophisticated user could use.”

The third app, LastPass, was less annoying than Dashlane, but in multiple instances it did not detect when I was logging in to a website to add the password into its vault. That required me to manually create a new password entry to add to the vault.

Each of the apps offers the ability to share password vaults across multiple devices, like smartphones, tablets and computers. Wireless synchronization for passwords is a necessity: You don’t want to be locked out of a service on your smartphone because you left your laptop containing all your passwords at work, for instance.

What distinguishes the password management apps is how they share your passwords among different devices, and how much they charge. Dashlane is initially free and hosts its own cloud server to share passwords across your devices, but it costs $40 a year to use the cloud service. LastPass is also free up front; it offers the ability to share passwords across devices for $12 a year.

The app 1Password came out on top because it offered the most value for the money. For a one-time payment of $50, you get a license to use 1Password on a computer. You can use the core features of 1Password on iPhones or Android devices free — if you want to unlock extra features, like the ability to store serial numbers for software licenses, it costs $10.

The downside is that AgileBits, the developer of 1Password, requires users to set up their own cloud syncing with third-party services like Dropbox or Apple’s iCloud, which are free to use. Fortunately it’s not difficult to set up password synchronization over the cloud. There is also an option to synchronize your password database over a Wi-Fi network, but that’s not as seamless.

Mr. Grossman of WhiteHat Security, who does not use a password management app, said he preferred LastPass for its security features. LastPass supports multi-factor authentication, meaning that when you log in with your master password, you will receive a newly generated code on another device, like a smartphone, that you have to enter to unlock the vault. It’s an extra layer of protection.

“We’ve been very popular among security professionals and I.T. folks,” said Amber Gott, a marketing manager for LastPass.

There is always a risk that password management companies themselves will get hacked. LastPass reported last year that its network was breached and that hackers gained access to user email addresses and password reminders.

To avoid that, you may want to skip password managers. If that’s your preference, Mr. Grossman said there’s always a low-tech way to keep track of passwords: Jot them down on a piece of paper and keep the list in a safe place. The best part about that approach? It’s free.


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

World's Most-Used Passwords Are Still Awful, According To 2015 Data

Get smart folks! Found this on Huffington Post:

You already know this: passwords are the first line of defense against cyber criminals, who are only getting smarter and more devious with each passing day.

So why do people still insist on using easy-to-crack passwords? According to SplashData’s annual “2015 Worst Passwords” list, it seems some folks just never learn.

The list, which ranks the most commonly used passwords by Internet users, reveals just how terrible many people’s password choices are.

“‘123456’ and “password” once again reign supreme as the most commonly used passwords, as they have since SplashData’s first list in 2011, demonstrating how people’s choices for passwords remain consistently risky,” wrote the password management applications company on its website.

Other awful passwords in the top 25 include “qwerty,” “welcome,” “letmein” and “monkey;” “starwars,” “princess” and “solo” also made this year’s list:
  1. 123456 
  2. password 
  3. 12345678 
  4. qwerty 
  5. 12345 
  6. 123456789 
  7. football 
  8. 1234 
  9. 1234567 
  10. baseball 
  11. welcome 
  12. 1234567890 
  13. abc123 
  14. 111111 
  15. 1qaz2wsx 
  16. dragon 
  17. master 
  18. monkey 
  19. letmein 
  20. login 
  21. princess 
  22. qwertyuiop 
  23. solo 
  24. passw0rd 
  25. starwars
The list, compiled from more than 2 million leaked passwords last year, indicates that “many people continue to put themselves at risk for hacking and identity theft,” SplashData wrote.

The company said it hopes its list will be a wake-up call for people to start using more secure passwords.

“We hope that with more publicity about how risky it is to use weak passwords, more people will take steps to strengthen their passwords and, most importantly, use different passwords for different websites,” said SplashData CEO Morgan Slain in a statement.

Most experts agree that strong passwords are random (no obvious words and combinations); long (more than 12 characters); and use a mix of numbers, letters and symbols. Also be sure to change your passwords periodically.

Using random password generators and password managers can also be useful.