Category Archives: Security

What Is A PC Driver?

Your computer contains all kinds of hardware, such as disk drives, DVD/CD-ROM drives, network adapters, and sound and video cards, as well as external devices, such as printers, keyboards, monitors, and USB drives. When you install an operating system (OS), such as Windows or Linux, that OS needs to be able to talk to the hardware in your computer to display items, play sounds and videos, and write data to and read data from an external drive, as well as other tasks.

That’s where drivers come in. A driver is a small piece of software that acts as a translator between a device and the OS and programs that use the device. The driver tells the OS, and installed software programs, how to talk to the hardware in your computer. For example, when you buy a printer, it usually comes with a driver on a CD (or, in recent years, a URL for download the latest driver software from the internet) that tells the OS how to print information on each page. Without the driver, the printer will not know how to interpret the data sent to it, if the data even makes it to the printer.

NOTE: Many drivers such as keyboard drivers and mouse drivers are already installed with the OS when you buy a computer.

The drivers installed in your system to talk to the devices are managed using the Device Manager. To access the Device Manager in Windows 7, enter “device manager” (without the quotes) in the Search box on the Start menu. Click on the Device Manager link under Control Panel.

All your hardware device categories, such as Display adapters, DVD/CD-ROM drives, and Mice and other pointing devices, are listed and the specific devices are listed below each heading.

If you are having trouble with a device, it’s helpful to know the version of the driver currently installed in your system. You may need to email this information to the manufacturer, or tell them over the phone. It’s also helpful if you are trying to find a solution yourself on the internet on various sites and forums.

  • To find out the version of a driver, right-click on the driver in the Device Manager and select Properties from the popup menu.

On the Properties dialog box, click the Driver tab. The Driver Provider, Date, Version, and Signer are listed. You can find out more information about the driver using the Driver Details button. Notice that you can also update the driver from this tab, disable the driver, uninstall the driver, and even roll back the driver software to the previously installed version, in case an update caused a problem with the device.

 

Reinstall Windows Media For Free

Sooner or later, you’ll need to repair, refresh, or reinstall Windows — a task that will require your original Windows installation/setup files.

But most new PCs no longer come with classic Windows setup discs; the vital recovery files are typically stored on the hard drive — where they are vulnerable to loss or damage.

Some PC manufacturers include a small utility on their new machines that lets you create setup/installation discs. But these factory images often put back the adware, co-marketed software, branded tools, and other crapware that originally came with the systems.

Fortunately, there’s now a better option. Because of changes in the way Microsoft distributes Windows setup files, all Windows 8 and Windows 7 users — and some Vista users — can now download copies of the full, free, official, 100 percent legitimate Windows install/setup files.

These “virgin” Windows setups are free of OEM add-on software. Moreover, their installation files can be burned to DVDs or copied to flash drives, which can then be used to repair or refresh a Windows system — or, if needed, do a total, from-scratch reinstall of Windows on an empty hard drive.

Windows setup medium doesn’t replace making regular backup images of your system — it is, however, a vital component of your PC-maintenance toolkit.

Microsoft’s new source for Windows ISOs

IT professionals can acquire ISOs via a pricey (around U.S. $700 and up) MSDN subscription, which includes downloads for Windows and other MS software such as Office and Windows Server. And in the past, everyone else could download Windows ISO images via a relatively low-cost TechNet subscription or from online services such as Digital River. Anyone with a legitimate Windows product key could use these ISOs to create a full, complete Windows setup.

But in late 2013, Microsoft shut down its TechNet subscription service; then, last month, it pulled its ISOs from Digital River.

So, what’s a Windows user to do? This article will show you where and how to obtain full, legitimate setup files for Vista, Win7, and Win8.

First requirement: A valid product key

None of the download methods I’ll discuss lets you upgrade from, say, Win7 Home editions to Win7 Pro — or create a bootleg copy of a Windows edition. In some cases, you’ll be required to enter the key before the download step even begins. (Losing product keys can be costly; always keep them in a safe place.)

So before you do anything, find and make note of your current Windows product key. You’ll usually find it on a sticker affixed to the PC, or on the original installation medium (or its packaging), or on ordering info or the receipt.

If you’ve lost records of the key, or if you have one of the newer Win8 PCs that store the product key in the BIOS (not the Registry, as do previous Windows versions), you can use a key-finder tool to dig it out.

 

 

Discover The Powerful Software To Keep Your PC Safe

If you want to enhance the security of your PC or to get rid of any existing adware and spyware in it, it is highly recommended that you download a protection and removal software to handle this problem. This is one of the most common issues that PC users have to handle these days, especially for people whose computers are constantly connected to the Internet.

  1. What is Adware and Spyware and What Can They Do?

Adware are malicious type of software that installs itself into the system automatically. Once it is inside, it can start downloading from its source and displaying advertisement pop ups on the screen. Adware is also known as advertising supported software.

Another common type of malware is called the spyware. They are mainly used to spy on the user’s activities for the source of the spyware. It can record keystrokes and remember the websites that you have visited. The worse case scenario is if the spyware steals confidential information like a password and sends this information to a hacker.

  1. How to Deal with Adware and Spyware on Your Computer Fast?

It is important that all PC users know how to handle this problem, which is very likely to happen to all computer users. Otherwise, it can potentially cause a lot of other harmful effects that will be too late to remedy if the protection software is not downloaded earlier. Protection software are able to scan and delete any erroneous and malicious files that it finds, as well as prevent any future intrusion of adware and spyware from the Internet.

Spybot:

Spybot is a more in depth spyware and adware removal tool. You can find download links for your free copy by visiting the Spybot website. It is relatively user friendly, and has a couple of neat features. One of the features is it will create a backup of your registry system as part of the installation process. This is a good idea from the standpoint that if you happen to delete a file during a removal process, and needed that file, you can restore your registry.

Another useful item is that Spybot will allow you to ‘immunize’ your system. What this means is that you can help prevent future attacks and installations of spyware by ‘immunizing’ files that are common attack points. This doesn’t guarantee that you won’t get future spyware / adware, but it does help!

This has about 63,000 known trojans, spyware, and adware programs and files that it scans for, and I’m sure you will find that there are a lot of things on your computer that you had no idea were there when you first scan.

And there are many more out there, just Google it. Plus, some of the major antivirus companies will let you download a free, trial version for 30 days before you have to purchase, just check around for those.

Don’t Be Tricked With Online Money Launderers

Email message sent to different product providers and companies asking the recipient to send them back a message containing the details of products available with views for further orders.

Short Analysis

This kind of email is also a part of what experts called “money laundering” scam. The moment the recipient of the said email also send reply to the sender along with the details of the requested information, the scammers will now place orders and will also request the recipient to pay through credit cards. The scammers will ask you to send payment higher than the price agreed. They will then request you to wire the additional amount of payment for “shipping agent” or another third party individual. The credit card used for the said transaction will now be stolen. This kind of scheme is just a way of converting proceeds of crime to untraceable amount of money.

Detailed Analysis

Businesses who used to sell items online are the ones who often receive email messages with this scheme. Scammers often regard themselves as interested customers and will usually ask more information regarding a particular item which they offer. The message usually contains request about the pricing details as well as the payment option.

Although some of these emails may also be real customer enquiries. But, most of them serve as an opening gambit to money laundering scam.

When the vendor replies to scam messages like this giving the requested details, scammers will now place their orders using emails. They will then ask you to pay the order with your credit card. Usually, the orders are quite convoluted and complex. Scammers will now insist of dealing directly to the vendor itself instead of making the transaction with the ordering system used by the vendor online.

What comes next is that scammers will now instruct you to pay with an extra amount than the exact amount of orders since the vendors will need that extra amount for paying the courier service or the “shipping agent”.

After that, they will then make excuses on why they can’t pay the shipping charges directly. And if the vendor doesn’t agree with the additional fee and send it to its delivery agent, the scammers will now threat you of withdrawing back your orders. They will now convince you to just send the shipping payment through money transfer services like Western Union. But their ultimate goal here is to convert the funds from the stolen cards to untraceable cash.

 

Money Laundering Tricks

Outline

Email message sent to different product providers and companies asking the recipient to send them back a message containing the details of products available with views for further orders.

Short Analysis

This kind of email is also a part of what experts called “money laundering” scam. The moment the recipient of the said email also send reply to the sender along with the details of the requested information, the scammers will now place orders and will also request the recipient to pay through credit cards. The scammers will ask you to send payment higher than the price agreed. They will then request you to wire the additional amount of payment for “shipping agent” or another third party individual. The credit card used for the said transaction will now be stolen. This kind of scheme is just a way of converting proceeds of crime to untraceable amount of money.

Detailed Analysis

Businesses who used to sell items online are the ones who often receive email messages with this scheme. Scammers often regard themselves as interested customers and will usually ask more information regarding a particular item which they offer. The message usually contains request about the pricing details as well as the payment option.

Although some of these emails may also be real customer enquiries. But, most of them serve as an opening gambit to money laundering scam.

When the vendor replies to scam messages like this giving the requested details, scammers will now place their orders using emails. They will then ask you to pay the order with your credit card. Usually, the orders are quite convoluted and complex. Scammers will now insist of dealing directly to the vendor itself instead of making the transaction with the ordering system used by the vendor online.

What comes next is that scammers will now instruct you to pay with an extra amount than the exact amount of orders since the vendors will need that extra amount for paying the courier service or the “shipping agent”.

After that, they will then make excuses on why they can’t pay the shipping charges directly. And if the vendor doesn’t agree with the additional fee and send it to its delivery agent, the scammers will now threat you of withdrawing back your orders. They will now convince you to just send the shipping payment through money transfer services like Western Union. But their ultimate goal here is to convert the funds from the stolen cards to an untraceable cash.

Phone Call Scam Modus

Phone call scam is very popular today as many computer users become new victims every day. But one thing that you should be worried about is the gradual increase in the number of victims for this type of scam. So it’s best to know how these scammers work and how their mode of operation is in order to gain more awareness and become more vigilant. Here are just some of the phone call scammer’s “modus operandi”:

Wield Drama Of Phone Scammers

Scammers often have various kinds of modus operandi to trick their victims. Each of them has its own drama and style of scamming ordinary computer users. After talking to the user over the phone and telling them that virus is present inside their system, the scammer will then suggest helping you eliminate the said virus. They will offer you system scan to track down and eliminate the harmful viruses in exchange of a specific amount of money for the repair service rendered. Usually, the repair service fee is quite cheaper than the actual payment on most on-site computer repair shop. Thinking that they saved a lot from the repair fee, the innocent computer user would now accept the deal. The caller will then ask to gain remote access on the user’s system, or if not, they would instruct the user to do a couple of steps to complete the procedure.

The truth about this drama is that Windows operating system has its own built-in program that can be used to scan the entire system, eliminate viruses and other malicious software, repair system errors, and fix any problem inside. All of this are for free and is already included the moment you first purchase the operating system. So you are paying the scammers with huge amount of money for software services which are supposedly free of charge.

Windows Processes

Tech support scammers sometimes make use of various Windows processes on their scamming operations. There are instances wherein the scammers will instruct their victim to execute DOS commands to show the unique ID of the user’s computer system. They will then let them verify that it was the correct system that was infected by a dangerous virus. They will then instruct the PC user to check if the unique ID matches with the one that shows up in front of their screen. What you didn’t know is that you are already exposing your entire system to the scammers unknowingly, providing the scammers with great chance to steal any of the user’s personal information like bank accounts, credit card number, account password and usernames, and many others for their own use.

 

A Click To Keep You Safe

Every day we are peppered with the television advertisements stating that one click loads a software program that tests your slow computer for viruses and spyware. It then speeds it up by removing them. These tests are free, but the removal and speed up is not. The true question is how effective is this virus removal?

It is possible for a computer program downloaded from the Internet to detect viruses and spyware. Internet downloads to detect and/or remove viruses have been provided by Trend Micro, Panda Software, and others for years. These to me are 2nd Opinion Virus Scans. If you primary virus/spyware scanning software Symantec, McAfee, AVG, Avast or others seems not to work, then using an Internet virus scanner that has the latest virus signatures is an effective way to check for and to catch virus and spyware escapees.

One definite fact illustrated to me every day is that no one virus detection and removal program detects and removes all viruses. You can run one program, then another and several more, only to find that the last program still detects and removes some viruses or spyware. Each program has its own plan of attack on how to do the best job. However, some viruses and spyware are always missed. So the $50 or $139 question is can one click PC repair programs catch enough viruses and spyware for your computer to be fully repaired. It is likely that the computer is repaired for that day, but probably not for that year.

Viruses and spyware tend to party in your computer. They invite all their virus and spyware friends into your computer for a giant beer keg party. Over time the computer in-perceptively slows down until it needs to be repaired. Once a virus and spyware has made its home in your computer it builds defences against detection and removal.

The first virus that prevented removal I encountered was the log-in to Windows and then Windows immediately logs you out removal prevention virus. It is like a log-in then log-out revolving door. Since you cannot log-in to Windows, you are unable to remove the virus or spyware. This trick is easy to repair. The trick has now all but disappeared only to be replaced by others like the virus that blocks EXE files from running. When EXE files are blocked, the error messages Windows displays are highly misleading lies. They are like politicians lying to their constituents to get re-elected rather than telling them the hard truth. Not only can you never trust a politician but you also can never trust a Windows error message. How does one click Internet virus removal software protect you from or fix this? One click Internet virus removal software could run because they are mostly Java and ActiveX scripts and not EXE files.

Windows corruption can easily be caused by simple changes to the Windows Registry (the primary control mechanism in Windows for Windows and all other programs). Such changes can cause severe dementia to Windows. Other configuration changes can block Internet access or prevent your computer from going to specific sites.

Some viruses are root kits that load into a computer’s memory at the start of the initial boot up process. Some root kits install themselves in the Master Boot Record (MBR). The MBR is the first information that is read from the disk drive when the computer is turned on. Can a one click Internet computer repair program detect this? It is possible. Can a one click Internet computer program repair this?

 

The World Of Ransomware

Though our malware defenses have improved, ransomware authors are finding new ways to infect our systems. Fortunately, we have options and solutions.

It’s a computer user’s worst nightmare. You boot your PC, and a big warning box pops up on your screen. No, it’s not a Windows error; the message states that all your files have been encrypted and you’ll have to pay a ransom to get the key.

The first strain of this pernicious form of malware/ransomware was CryptoLocker. It was a profitable scheme — until anti-malware apps adapted to this new threat. But as with any successful infection, CryptoLocker soon mutated into new variations such as CryptoWall and TorrentLocker. Whatever they’re called, all these strains of malware have a common thread: they don’t destroy data but simply lock it up until you pay the ransom. Even when the infection is removed, the data remains encrypted. And in some cases, even backup files are made unusable — unless you buy the key.

Most ransomware infections arrive via email attachments or phishing attacks. They can even be hidden in cloud-based file-sharing sites such as Box, Dropbox and ShareFile. They can be .exe files, ZIP files, or fake PDF files that are in fact executables used to install malicious code. Ransomware seems to be especially adept at evading anti-malware tools. Its encryption engine is similar to those we regularly use on our PCs, and its pattern or signature can change rapidly.

 

The encryption process uses two types of keys. The public key is used to encrypt files; the private key handles decryption and is held only by the data’s owner. A CryptoLocker attacker uses the public key to lock your files. Because the thieves hold the private key, they effectively own the files. You pay ransom to have your data unlocked — you might or might not get the actual key. Again, because the attackers use standard encryption techniques, the encryption process usually goes undetected by anti-malware programs.

 

 

 

Keep Your Computer Secured With Keylogger Techniques

Computer is definitely an essential device for most of us most especially on the kind of generation we have today. We make of our computer devices to perform variety of tasks that can help us lessen up the load of our day to day job as well as to make things easier to do. That’s why, protecting our computer system is just important as not losing our treasured job, since computers can also help each one of us to make a living and survive by means of running company businesses, or even a simple home-based job or personal business. It is important to always keep our computer devices secured especially for the presence of numerous threats that surrounds us just like malicious software and keylogger.

Although computer devices gives us with so many benefits and advantages, it also provides us with numbers of disadvantages and one of them is the fact that these devices are very prone and vulnerable to extremely dangerous threats that is present out there.

Most of the time, these dangerous threats are caused by the remote hackers and criminals that continuously develop software programs and applications to infect and invade the computer system of the user who will soon become their victim. These applications and software programs which are intentionally made by these hackers doesn’t automatically invade your system, instead, they will first make your system weak and vulnerable before taking actions of entering the susceptible system.

When the computer system of the victim finally becomes weak, the cyber criminals and online hackers will then take advantage on the weaknesses and susceptibility of the computer system through the use of these malicious software and applications. Hackers will then send malicious software program to your system to perform tasks that will benefit the hackers; and among the most common malicious software that hackers used is the keylogger software.

Hackers used keylogger software not to invade your system or damage it completely, but to act as a spy that will monitor all your computer activities. This keylogger software will just hide inside your system and cause not even a single change on the overall performance. They do that to prevent the computer user to recognize their presence and also to skip and prevent them from being detected especially during scanning procedure.

Even if keylogger software will not damage your system and all its components, still it is considered as very dangerous since they has the ability to record even your key strokes and then put it on a storage media which will later be forwarded to the hacker. It is truly dangerous in the sense that it has the ability to steal your personal information, confidential files and data, and even your own identity as what commonly the case of most identity theft.

But computer manufacturers nowadays are also doing their best to counteract the effect of each and every newly discovered threat so that the victim can also fight for themselves when they infected with it already.  They are constantly providing computer users with the best possible tool to remove threats like this and also some powerful software program that can help users protect their computer system all the time.

Tips To Fix Search Indexer Error In MS Windows

Since I perform technical support for my entire family being the computer guy, I sometimes run into strange issues that I decide to write about on my blog. Of course with Windows, it seems you never really run out of strange issues to deal with! There’s always some crazy and cryptic error popping up that makes you scratch your head.

One such issue is with Windows Vista and it relates to the

“Microsoft Windows Search Indexer stopped working and was closed”

This is quite an unusual problem, but if it happens to you, it’s a pain in the ass! Anything that you try to open, or move, or copy will start giving you this error. It’s usually also associated with slow computer performance and crashing of the entire computer.

There are a couple of things you can try out to fix this annoying as heck problem in Vista:

Rebuild Windows Vista’s Search Index

This method is quick and easy, but may not work if you are having serious issues. Still it’s worth a shot before going to the other steps where you have to delete stuff.

First, type Indexing Options in the Start Menu’s search box in Vista. Click on the Advancedtab and then click Rebuild.

You can also try clicking on Restore Defaults if Rebuild does not work. If for some strange reason you are not able to select anything on this page, you can rebuild the searcher index manually by editing the following registry key:

HKLM/Software/Microsoft/Windows Search/SetupCompletedSuccessfully to zero and then restarting the machine. However, if you can avoid registry key modifications that’s best! Also, make sure to create a restore point before making any registry edits.

Delete the Windows Search Index Program Folder

If the above method did not work, you can try to delete all of the files associated with search indexing in Vista by deleting everything inside these folders:

  • C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Search\Data\Applications\Windows
  • C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Search\Data\Temp

If you do not see these folders, you need to turn on viewing for hidden folders by going to Windows Explorer or My Computer and then choosing Tools, Folder Options. Go to the View tab and scroll down till you see “Show hidden files and folders“. You should now be able to see the ProgramData folder.

Again, make a backup of the files in the directories before deleting them just in case, but they really are not that important. If you get an Access is Denied message when trying to delete the files, you will first need to stop the Window Search Index service by going toControl Panel, then Administrative Tools, and then clicking on Services.

The service should be called Windows Search or Windows Searcher. Double click on the service and click Stop.

After you delete the files, restart the computer and the index will be rebuilt and hopefully your error will be gone!