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April « 2010 « ZolexPC Blog About Us - Remote Computer Support & Help | Zolex PC
26Apr/10Off

Facebook Risks, And How You Can Protect Yourself Against Them

Facebook is used by over 400 million people worldwide.   The population of the United States is 309,145,570 people.   Facebook now has more users than the entire population of the United States of America.    With Facebook's escalating popularity it has become an increasingly popular target for infections, scams and all that nasty stuff that can harm your PC.

Here is a recent article from PC World about stolen Facebook ID's.   Does this mean Facebook is no longer safe?  No it is still fine to use but you should be aware that it is being targeted by the Virus makers, hackers, scammers alike.   Should you be more alert when using it?  Yes, you should be on your guard when using Facebook and all of it's features.

http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/194843/15_million_stolen_facebook_ids_up_for_sale.html

If you Facebook account is compromised or hacked, you may be sending viruses to all of your friends without even realizing it.   A popular one is a video sent to you by a friend so it appears safe.  When you click on the Video to watch it, you have just infected your PC with the same infection.  The infection will now send out the same bad video (virus) to all of your friends continuing to spread it.

As usual to protect yourself against any infection, you need to have Security Software installed and updated.     When using Facebook, be very careful about videos posted from friends, if it looks suspicious or the message accompanying it looks very generic, there is a good chance it may be an infection.    Most people may post a video on their page as opposed to sending you a video through the Facebook mail, so that can be another sign that you probably don't want to open it.

Facebook has instituted some new Privacy measures meant to help out with Security.  Many users may not be aware of this or on how to use them so I am going to briefly cover them.   When you log into Facebook, click on Account, Privacy Settings.   Once in here you will see a few selections to choose from.     These are all used so you can limit who sees your posts, contacts, friends, applications etc.   Clicking on Profile Information opens a new window and from here you can decide whether you want everyone to see this information or just your Friends, or Friends of Friends.   Choose which option you feel safest with.

For example in the Religious and Political Views column, you may want to only share that with your Friends and not Everyone in the world.  When you have something set to Everyone, that simply means that anybody who is on Facebook and clicks on your name can read the information.   So if you were to set all of your settings to everyone then anybody can view your complete profile, pictures, posts, friends, applications.   Perhaps you don't want the whole public world knowing your religious beliefs or political views.   Perhaps you don't want the public to know that you are a member of a group that others may not approve of.   This is also where you can hide Applications or messages from your friends that many people find very annoying.

For parents and children these settings can go a long way to avoiding any awkwardness on Facebook.   Many parents are on Facebook and so are there children.   With the privacy settings you can specifically restrict individuals from seeing your posts, likes, dislikes, views etc.    This way you can still be friends with your parents but not have to worry about them invading or snooping around your private lives.

While these settings are important as is keeping your Security Software up to date, the safest thing you can do with this stuff is to use common sense and be alert.  Be suspicious of videos from people who usually don't send you anything.   Ask the person if they posted it before opening it.    If you do get infected or suspect you may be, then you should run your Security Software scans on your PC.    If your Security Software cannot remove the infection(s), then you can always contact your friends at www.ZolexPC.com

Facebook is not going away for a while and as more and more people use it, more and more infections will appear on it, so make sure Security Settings are set how you want them to be.   Make sure your Security Software is up to date, and be careful while on Facebook for suspicious items, messages, or videos.     Facebook is great and a fantastic tool and has become very popular.  Unfortunately with success comes an opportunity for the Virus Makers, Hackers, Scam Artists alike to profit from Facebook's success.

If you have any questions on Facebook Settings or would like more information, feel free to post your questions or comments.

Thanks for reading and have a great rest of the week.

Steve

www.zolexpc.com

19Apr/10Off

The Dreaded Looping of Windows

The Looping of Windows or Boot-Looping as it is sometimes called is a problem that can be related to a variety of issues.    It could be new hardware, a virus or other infection, a corrupted boot file, a bad sector on the hard drive itself.    Fixing the problem is sometimes very easy or could require a Repair or Full Install of the Operating System  (XP, Vista, Windows 7).

The first thing you should do is try to figure out what is causing the problem.   Were you infected with a virus before it happened?   Did you recently add a new piece of hardware such as a camera or other device to the PC?     Has your Hard Drive been making strange sounds?   Have you been getting any other strange or weird messages recently.   Your answers to these questions should help you diagnose the problem.

The first easy fixes to try are booting the machine into Safe Mode or Last Known Good Configuration.    To get to these options, Press the F8 key repeatedly when you first turn on the PC.  You have to be quick as you only get about 7-10 seconds at the most to do it.   When it works it will take you to a different menu called Windows Advanced Start Up Options.  (terminology will be different depending on your OS).  From this menu use the Arrow Keys on your keyboard to highlight Safe mode or Last known Good Config.     If the machine boots into Safe Mode but not normal mode, it could be the sign of an infection present.  It could also mean something that is causing the loop doesn't run in Safe Mode.  Safe mode runs a bare bones version of Windows, with minimal drivers.    If Last known Good Config works and you can get into Windows, you should immediately scan your machines for infections or errors.  Run  your Security Software and run a Chkdsk on Windows itself.    If your system continues to loop, you can check the easy fixes off of your list and move on to the more involved fixes.

The following fixes listed are probably for more technical savvy users as the average home user may find this a bit difficult to follow.   If you are not sure what you are doing after the easy fixes, Do Not Attempt these other fixes unless you are sure you know what you are doing.   This is something you don't want to try to do unless you are very confident in your skills.   Vista and Windows 7 have additional Repair features that are accessible on this screen as well.   Once you choose them, read very carefully or you could restore your system to the Factory Defaults wiping out everything.   Within the Repair features, there should a line for Start up Repair.   This is what you would want to try for Vista or Windows 7.      There are additional Options to run commands in Vista and Windows 7 via a Command Prompt.    Going into Command Prompt on Vista and Windows 7 , you want to run a ChkDsk on Windows, this can scan your system for errors that could be preventing Windows from starting normally.    Chkdsk /?  will give you additional options to use.    You will most likely use Chkdsk /f or Chkdsk /r (includes f).

For Windows XP users, you need to access Recovery Console via a Windows CD or have previously installed or downloaded it.    If you have the CD, insert the CD into your looping system and reboot it via the CD.  Some machines may need to be told to boot from a CD, so you may have to go into your Boot menu to change it.     When prompted choose to use Recovery Console to Repair your Computer.  Be very careful when making decisions in these screens.   Recovery Console will boot into a Command prompt style environment from which you can run commands such as Chkdsk /P.     If these additional fixes still fail to boot the machine properly, then you can try a few additional steps.

You can try to Restore the System to an earlier date by using System Restore.   You may lose some data from your last Restore point but it may fix the problem for you.   You may have to do a Repair install on Windows.   This will save your data but replace all of your Windows system files.    Some infections will target the Boot file or WinLogon file for Windows and modify it.  If you can access or replace these files via  a Command prompt, that may also get the system to boot normally.     Again these later fixes are not recommended for the average user.  If you are unsure of yourself then do not try to fix it as you could potentially wipe out everything on your PC.  There are some issues that are best left to the professionals.

Try the easy fixes first, Safe Mode, Last Known Good Configuration, or System Restore.    If those don't work for you it is probably best to contact a professional unless you are tech savvy enough.    Looping of Windows is a scary issue as there are multiple causes and multiple cures but they don't always work and it depends on what is causing the problem.   If it is mechanical or hardware failure there isn't much you can do except to try and get as much data as possible on the Drive before it goes Kaput.    Have a good Backup of your PC is essential and can prevent even disasters like the Looping of Windows from becoming a Worst Case Scenario.

If your PC is looping and the easy fixes won't work you can always call on the Pros at ZolexPC to get your PC up and running again.

Thanks for reading and have a great rest of the week.

Steve

www.zolexpc.com

13Apr/10Off

Rise of Fake Antivirus Programs Continues to Plague the Internet

Fake Antivirus software continues to infect more and more users everyday.   At ZolexPC we are seeing a large increase in a few specific ones that merit mentioning.    Antivirus 2010, Internet Security 2010,  Total PC Defender, and Fake Alert.   These viruses are all designed to mask themselves as legitimate software to clean your machine of infections.   The programs will run scans that are fake, and then prompt you for money to fix them.    There are variants of these programs and many more out there that are similar in scope.     Some of them even go so far as to put out new fake ones each year and name them accordingly.   For example, there is an Antivirus 2009, 2008, and of course Antivirus 2010.

Some people may accidentally click on links for these viruses while others just may see them all of sudden show up on their PC.   This is usually the result of going to an infected page on a website or an infected website in general.   You may also contract this virus from not keeping your existing Security Software and Windows updated.    Many programs will just surf the Internet searching for machines that are vulnerable to their infections.   Similar to a burglar who walks around a neighborhood checking for unlocked doors, sooner or later he will find an open door to break into.     These programs can wreak havoc on y0ur PC very quickly.

A common target of these programs is the ability to prevent executable programs from running.   This may prevent your Antivirus software from being able to run, or additional programs that will not work because the virus will block.     The infection does this to protect itself from being deleted.    You will usually get a message from the Fake Antivirus software telling you that the particular program you are trying to use is infected and cannot be run.   It will tell you that you should install and run their software, usually for a price.   If you do this, you will most likely further infect your PC with additional infections and the scam will continue.    These types of infections can almost make your PC inoperable.

If you are surfing the Internet and you get prompted or see a message from any program that is not your normal Security Software, you should immediately close your browser and run your Security Scans, with your Antivirus software or Antispyware scanners.     If you scanners will not run and the machine is infected you will need to call on the professionals to have them remove it for you.   The process can take some time to remove the infection and to make sure the PC is clean.     At ZolexPC we can remove these infections and get your PC back to a healthy state.      Keep your Security Software updated.  ZolexPC recommends updating your Security Software every two weeks.   Your Antivirus software will usually update by itself, but your other Security Software may not.   If you use Free Software, you usually are responsible for the updating of it.   The process is usually very quick,  but easy to forget to do.

Fake Antivirus programs and software will continue to plague us on the Internet but the more vigilant we are and the more we keep our Security Software up to date, the less it can harm us.  Be sure to keep your Security Software up to date and be suspicious of any program that you don't recognize.  If you do get infected with one of these, you can always count on ZolexPC to remove them for you.

Thanks for reading and have a great rest of the week.

Steve

www.zolexpc.com

5Apr/10Off

Are Your Passwords Secure?

When it comes to using Passwords, whether to log onto your PC or log into your email, you should take care to make your Password tough to crack.    Unfortunately coming up with complicated passwords that we remember can be difficult.  The easiest solution that I have found is to pick something very strange, it can be an object, book, character, radiator, milk jug, or anything, the more obscure the better.   Once you pick that, then add a couple of numbers that you know you won't forget and you should have a pretty tough password for someone to guess.   For example, if your password was   trashbag324.   Now mostly likely that name may strike a laugh with you which will help you remember it and who in their right mind would come up with a password like that.   Unless you are in the Waste Removal Industry this is not likely to be too many people's password.    The key is to remember it and make it stick.

If you work at a company that requires you to change your Password every few months, you can usually just pick another obscure word or phrase and add a few numbers to it.     filecabinet985 would be tough to guess.

Your Amazon.com password, your email password, your bank password are some of the many passwords we have to use and remember.    While it is very easy to use the same password for them all, it is quite risky.   A good solution is to make up about 3 passwords that you will remember, and assign them to different areas.   Maybe you have one for your banking and Amazon account.  Then another for your email, and Facebook.   If you do this you will have the  Security of tough passwords and only need to remember 3 Passwords as opposed to 10 different ones.   Simple but still Secure.    Having a password is recommended even if you are a single user and live alone.   If your PC was stolen or you would not want to have your PC or private Docs, pictures compromised.    Now I am realistic enough to know that most people who have one computer at home for themselves may not use a password.   It is an inconvenience but for security purposes it is the right thing to do.   If you have no password, and are having friends or your romantic partner, what is stop someone from going on your PC to see what is there?

If for any reason you suspect your password has been compromised, you should change it immediately.    If your machine contracts a virus or other malicious software, your passwords could be at risk.  While the chances are slim, it all depends on how infected your PC and what type of infection you have.   There are key-loggers and password-stealing programs out there.   This is one of the most important reasons to keep your Security Software up to date to give your machine the maximum protection.    Having a tough password on your home PC and Office PC is a good habit to practice.   We cannot avoid the future or more and more things being done online and needing passwords, so protect yourself as best you can while still being able to remember them.   The more characters and numbers the tougher it will be.   Just don' t make them so tough that you can't remember them.    If your password makes your laugh, you will be far more likely to remember it.   :)      As a final example:     horsehockey742

Thanks for reading and have a great rest of the week.

Steve

www.zolexpc.com

   

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