Tag: anti-virus

What do I do when?

What do I do when?

If I had a nickel for every time that someone asked me this, I might very well be in Bora Bora or the Maldives working on a tan after that wicked winter that we did not have.

While I stress good anti-virus software such as Eset, no one program is the “Silver Bullet!” You must have some computer smarts when accessing the internet.

When we traverse the back alleys and the main thoroughfares of the “information highway,” it is imperative that we employ a little common sense.

I have written extensively about what to do and not to do in the past, but this latest phone call was rather unique.

While navigating the highways and byways sometimes, we are thrown a curve. Much like a roundabout in a city that does not have them, ever!

“What do I do if a dialogue box appears and it is in some other language?”

You are either surfing the internet or on Twitter or some other app and all of the sudden a dialogue box appears with prominent places to click but, the writing is in a language that you don’t recognize, what do you do?

“If you don’t know the answer to this send, me a nickel.”  I am joking but can you imagine someone spending .50 cents to send me a nickel?  I guess I could do a PayPal donation button. 🙂

What do I do when a dialogue box appears that I am not expecting and it might be in another language?

A:) Click on one of the boxes that appear to be the “no” box.

B:) Get out your smartphone. Look for a translation application and see what it is before clicking

C:) Pull up task manager, {ctrl alt del}, and kill the app completely (end task)

I realize I made that too easy but would you care to guess how many will just click the button to the right hoping it is the “go away” button?

Pop-ups are rarely a good thing.  There are settings in most browsers that will eliminate such things, but still, some brilliant programmer somewhere figures out a workaround to get the pop up to appear anyway.

With all of this talk about cyber warfare and cyber espionage, having real anti-virus software is not only critical but also patriotic.

I was giving a talk, and one bright young man said that his free antivirus was all that he put on his companies PCs. Later that evening I learned that he worked for his parents! I sure hope that they have good insurance and a great backup, disaster recovery plan when their computers are trashed, or compromised or both.  Free is not worth what you pay for it.  PS… Never hire anyone you can not fire!

If you love your kids (and your sanity) make them find a job with another company.

Why is it patriotic?

Infections of all kinds make it through and sit there waiting for the right moment to activate. Once someone, somewhere, wants to pull off his or her attack, they only “turn it on.” Your computer along with millions of others attached to the internet becomes active participants. The attack could be something as common as a DOS (denial of service) attack, or it is watching every keystroke you make looking for passwords and identity info passing that info back to some nefarious server in someone’s closet.

I have no deals or allegiance to ESET, right now I think it is one of the best out there.

Anytime your application is acting “wonky” task manager is your friend.  Pop-ups are rarely useful, especially if they make it through your no pop-up settings.

Bonus Question, Why is B not a right answer?

Think about it; some programmer wrote some interesting looking dialogue box to do something that popped up in the middle of searching for more information on March Madness “while you are working.”

You pull out your smartphone, the camera comes on, and soon you discover that some programmer tells you that you are a winner!  Click here to claim your free IPad!  You know that is a ruse because you have already won one and it never materialized.  Begrudgingly, still upset about the last fraud, you click the no thank you button with hopes that it will now go away.  What if the “No thank you” button activates some series of scripts? These scripts require your input to tell your antivirus software to ignore the threats.  Yes, you understand all of the risks, and you want to do this anyway?

By the way, that little X up in the corner could also be a “yes please screw up my computer and infect it as our IT staff does not have enough to do.”

Task manager good, Task manager is your friend, become one with Task manager….

“What if the pop up is in English and it tells me I won and iPad.”

Task manager good, Task manager is your friend, become one with Task manager….

Now get back to work!   🙂

The latest method of attack. #DisasterRecovery

The latest method of attack. #DisasterRecovery


As a matter of course, I try not to post too much about computer security, as I am certain that most have seen this before.

We know not to open attachments that are not expected as well as have good anti-virus software updated and running at all times.

This morning I received a different type of threat that I thought worth sharing, so here it is.

With the usual jargon about some sort of violation or someone suing me for something, open the attachment to see what it is, this was different.

The words included were, “for your security we use dropbox for the evidence against you. Please follow the link and respond within 3 days or a summary judgement will be made.”

Of course, the return e-mail address is bogus; the trick is to get me to open an attachment in this case on dropbox.  Once downloaded there is no telling what it would do but, most certainly nothing good.

No law enforcement or government agency would work in this way even if you were expecting something from someone in this manner; it would not come in from e-mail.

Unless you are expecting it and the e-mail address is correct only then would I make a call before opening anything as an attachment.

Ransomware is working with hospitals and even government agencies paying the perpetrators, which causes them to continue with more fervor.


You do not want to see this so, practice safe computing.


Practice safe computing which includes a good disaster recovery plan.



(c) All Rights Reserved 2016


Viri-The Truth about Bugs


Any of you who have read any of my blogs know that I have a thing for “the truth.”


We live in a society today that regards the truth as an inconvenience.  So here is the truth about anti-virus software from someone’s perspective that fought the very first virus in 1981, without the benefit of anti-virus software, on a 300 node network.


I cannot personally get into the mind of someone who creates these things.  One wonders why someone would spend the time to create a piece of software that literally is destructive in nature, when the person who created it cannot watch the affected person anguish over his or her brand new PC running at the pace of a snail.


Normally, (I say normally like I know,) but it is my opinion that when someone does something malevolent, they want to witness the carnage; much like the people who killed and maimed so many in Boston.  They hung around to watch the chaos, carnage and all of the injured people and then took some sort of “delight” in their handy work as expressed by their smirk.

When I think of someone who might create viruses, I picture some fat, anti-social kid with pimples, sitting around in his mother’s basement, in his underwear, trying to figure out some way to “show-em” that he is important, by creating a virus. I think that it is more than that however. While I do think that stereotype might fit some of them, I believe that it goes much deeper than that. (Don’t bully the nerds.. They are people too.)


Since a million or so viruses are written each year, you know that there must be millions of programmers writing them, or at least hundreds of thousands.  Some claim that it is the Russian mafia.  I was not aware that Russia had a mafia but I guess if we have one, so should they…


There is a practical use for viruses in that they have something called key loggers, that in fact will copy your keystrokes and when certain key words or phrases are caught, the passwords to you bank account and or credit card information are sent off to someone who compiles a list of such numbers, and sells them to the highest bidder.


Some viruses are written in such a way as to replicate when you try to delete them.  Just when you think you have your system cleaned, the virus pops up again and does its thing.


Others are time bombs, sitting harmlessly on your machine waiting either for an event or date to activate.

There are far too many to write about but, you get the idea.  The only way to be 100% protected from an infection is to never hook your machine to the internet and never put any software on it.  Sounds impractical doesn’t it, well, it is!

There are many different anti-virus software packages out there, some cost big dollars, and some amazingly are free!


I plan on looking at this one soon…

First Truth -With anti-virus software, you usually get what you pay for, and if it is free, it is not worth what you paid for it!

While I will admit that free is better than nothing, it is only slightly better.

While no antivirus software is sacrosanct, some are much better than others.  The trick is to find one that not only is layered in such a way to handle your basic anti-virus functions but, also takes care of your e-mail; as the largest percentage of infestations come in through e-mail; unless of course you are big into porn.


Ok, that was a challenge to find something that I could post..

Yes I know that the internet was made for porn…not really, but that is most probably the reason that the internet took off as it did. Porn is in fact a huge business with lots and lots of dollars spent on it… Another blog for another day.

I have removed viruses from computers that had each of the popular anti-virus software on them.  That tells me that there is no silver bullet.  How could there be as there are millions of viruses out there are more are created each and every day!


Currently, I am sold on Eset-Node32  www.eset.com  Do I still see infected computers that have this, yes, but not near as many as some of the others.


The bottom line here is this; don’t skimp on anti-virus software.  If you purchase it, and support the company, and others do as well, than they can afford to keep folks busy searching for new viruses and devising ways to defeat them, as well as improving the product.

Full disclosure, I have no vested interest in ESET.  My opinions are my own and are derived from years and years of removing viruses.  Tomorrow you may ask me which is the best and I may like Trend or Norton… Today and for the last few years it has been ESET.  I often evaluate other brands, as I need to know for myself, so I can feel confident promoting one over the other.

Second Truth- When evaluating software, look for something that has a light footprint.


What do I mean by that?  One of the reasons I dumped a trusted anti-virus package is that its footprint was so huge, that I could not use my PC.  It actually was worse than having a virus, as the utilization was high and the memory it took to run was astounding! While the pc was kind of protected, it was unusable.

PC magazines and consumer reports are good places to look.  I like to talk with the “nerds” at the computer store as they see even more of this than I do.  By the way, when I say nerd, I say that with utmost appreciation for them, as I are one albeit and old one, or “seasoned.”

I actually have a favorite virus if you can believe that.  Back in the early 80’s someone wrote the “pong” virus modeled after the video game “pong.”   How this would work is you would be in WordPerfect just typing away on that miserable blue screen and all of the sudden out of nowhere a “pong ball” would appear.  It would start traversing your 13 inch CGA monitor and as it came in contact with one of your characters in your document, the letter, would tumble down to the bottom of the screen.  I give them an A for creativity but, as clever as it was, it still destroyed the document as it was un-recoverable.



Could not find a picture of the pong virus so … I like Homer..


Once we networked the PC’s even in the world of DOS, the virus found a home in that once in, it had access to hundreds of computers and servers.  When Al Gore invented the internet, (can’t let that crap rest,) now we can infect millions of PC’s; world wide!

Be sensible where you go, don’t open attachments that you are not expecting, get a good anti-virus software and scan your machine every so often.  There are many good tools on the market to help as well and that too is another blog for another day.

If your experience is different from mine or you have some experience to share… Comment!

-Best to you and those that you care about!

Scam of The Day!

Scam of the day!

Every day someone somewhere tries to embezzle money from someone.  If not some Nigerian trying to get your bank account number so they can give you free money, than someone somewhere through e-mail tries to get the unsuspecting, to click on a link that is not what they think it is.

Through the years I have received e-mails from all sorts of alleged government agencies telling me that I need to click here to resolve some complaint.

If you have a business like I do, and you have a website, you are more vulnerably because you are more visible.

As I have explained to people for years, the government would not contact you via e-mail.  Still I get computers in here that have been infected by someone clicking before thinking.

Today I got a rather unique e-mail from PayPal or so it would seem.

Looking at the e-mail notification one thing pops out at me immediately in that, it is flagged urgent.  PayPal does not flag things as urgent.  The perpetrator of this hoax wants to get my attention.  Secondly I have set up rules which automatically move certain e-mails from certain people. Upon receipt they are put into a specified folder arranged by who they are and where the e-mail is from.  This was my second clue that something was amiss, as this was in my Inbox, not in the folder where it should be.  So why didn’t the rule work, it was not from PayPal.

Looking at the e-mail itself, it looks fairly normal at first glance.  Notice it says that I sent $149 dollars for a watch to someone on eBay and that the shipping address is somewhere in New York.

I do purchase things on eBay, as do a lot of people, and it would not be unlike me to buy a watch for a $149.  Firstly, I did not buy a watch so now I am looking at this e-mail a little more closely and see that it is to be shipped to someone in New York!

Someone not paying too much attention to this would quickly see the link that offers you “dispute resolution” and then click upon it.  That is the gotcha and most likely the intent of this ruse. They want you to click on the link. Hovering over the link you will quickly notice that it does not go to PayPal or eBay.

Looking at the link, I really have no idea where it would take me or what it would do to my computer, if anything.  The trick here is not to be a victim of some nefarious person or people.  It may very well be a link to some website that tries to sell you something and they are driving traffic to it by disreputable means.  It could however be a link to some site which will infect your computer with some type of Trojan or malware or both.

One other trick that I will share with you is this.  As well as having good anti-virus software running and updated at all times, have a user account set up that does not allow administrative privileges on your machine.  Use that account for your normal daily computer use and only use the administrative account when adding or changing hardware and or software on your computer.  The virus and or malware may very well be limited to whatever rights that the user that got it, has.  If the user has no rights to modify the way a program behaves, the virus might be limited to those rights as well.

Remember that not all anti-virus software will protect you from all attempts to hijack your computer.   Not all viruses are created equally. The more sophisticated the virus, the more intelligence or (computer smarts) on the part of the user is necessary.

-Best to you and those that you care about!


Which Anti Virus Software is the Best?

Selecting an anti virus software today is like trying to look at a watermelon in the store and telling how it is going to taste without opening it up. This is also the question that I get asked most frequently.

Not all software is the same and that holds true with the virus itself.

When I evaluate anti virus software I look for several things. Firstly what can I find in the way of reviews on the internet? Try to find independent reviews vs. going to their website.

Amazon frequently has reviews of products.

From a technical stand point I want to know what size footprint it has. When I say footprint I want to know how much of my available memory is it going to chew up and I want to know how much CPU is it going to use. There are several anti virus software’s out there that literally will stop you from using your machine while they scan, update etc. Ideally this type of software should run at a lower priority when you need the resources of your machine. To me there is nothing more frustrating than needing to check your e-mail and the anti virus software among other software takes over your machine for the first 30 minutes doing updates, scans and what have you.

Here is the biggie, will it catch everything?

Sadly there is no silver bullet. Some software makers have a lot of resources to pour into updates and research as well as the ability to quickly push out updates to their customers on an as needed basis. Software like Trend Micro has an easy way to upload suspicious files for them to analyze.

Another thing to look at with software is technical support. How much will you need, what do people say about their support and how much will it cost?

I have been in IT since before there were viruses. I fought the first virus which got out onto our network of several hundred employees through a shared file brought in by an employee on a floppy disk. I say that to set the stage for the different iterations of anti virus software out there. The first company on the scene was McAfee. PcTools was picked up by Symantic and over the last few years there have been many players enter into the game.

My personal favorite as of this moment is EsetNode32. That could change tomorrow as they may rest on their laurels or have a policy change of some sort which would affect the quality of their product. That is the same for all companies.

I see a lot of computers that have been infiltrated. While they all have some sort of protection, free software seems the most susceptible to attacks, MailWare and other forms of infections.

While free is better than none, I would certainly budget anti virus software into my computer needs.

TIP: Go to the store and purchase it in the box vs. getting it online. Do this even for the renewal. One can almost always find it on sale going to the office supply store or even Wal-Mart. Purchasing it online usually involves a third party which makes money off of the sale as well. You pay a price for convenience and it could be as much as 100% more than you would pay in the store. In the below URL’s you can gain quick access to the different brands that I am personally familiar with. Several ranking sites will rank these differently so do your research and roll the dice.

This blog in no way constitutes any type or warrantee or guarantee of usability or protection against the hackers either expressed or implied. While I have had good fortune with Eset, your mileage may vary and I will be held harmless, in the event that your results are not what mine have been.

What you do on the internet and who sends you e-mail may put your computer in less risk or more risk than me. There are independent labs out there that evaluate different software so you might search them out as well. The trick is make sure that they are independent and do not have any dog in the fight. The problem there however is obvious; if they don’t have a dog in the fight, why do the work and give it away? Do your own research. Consumer reports frequently look at this topic as well.









-Best and Happy Computing