Tag: virus

Attention #CEO #CFO #President #CIO and #hr

Here is some food for thought for you who own or control or have vested interest in corporations.

If you were to go to your CIO or your IS manager and ask the following; what would their response be?

  • Can you show me the network map?
  • Can you show me the documentation on the V-LANS?
  • Can you give me an accurate inventory of the servers that we have including their age and configuration?
  • Can you tell me what is on each server or device and what it does?
  • Who has access to what on each server and who decides what that access is?
  • Can you tell me how they are connected to the network, is there a redundant path?
  • Can you produce an inventory of what software is on each server?
  • Can you show me the recent log files of each server and tell me about what concerns you have regarding what those log files say?
  • Where is the actual software that is on the servers and where are the license keys?

No Excuses!

You would be surprised how many Sysadmins tell me that they don’t keep the software, they just download it when they need it.  Really, you have just had a disaster and your internet is down and will not be up for at least 72 hours, now what?  Not only does it make sense to have the disk for this reason but it takes time (valuable time) to go and find and download software.  They have argued that it is not the most current on the disk.  Why not?  Why have you not updated your Software Library?  There is a lot to being a Sysadmin, (SA) it is not about sitting on your butt in your office surfing the web, reading the news and updating Facebook while being annoyed by the occasional request for a password reset! Old software that is a few versions behind the curve is still better than none!  Even if you “don’t have time” to keep your library updated; something is better than nothing.

Speaking of passwords, most companies really need a security officer and really don’t understand why.  I have seen some Sysadmins that are so lazy that they assign passwords to people and then keep an excel list of them on the server.  These are not really Sysadmins because that is genuinely stupid. To open the company to so many different kinds of fraud, industrial espionage, and other forms of abuse of the system; just because the guy does not want to be bothered with password resets is incredible.  This guy would not be working for me as there is no excuse for this!  I don’t care how “nice a guy he is.”  Laziness and stupidity are a bad combination for a Sysadmin to have.

  • What software revision level are we at and is it the most recent? If not, why not?
  • Are Firmware rev levels kept up with and checked regularly?
  • Are the drivers up to date?
  • Can you produce a list of the passwords for each server?
  • What are the power requirements for these servers?
  • What are the cooling requirements for the equipment and are there any issues?
  • How long can we run if there is a power outage?
  • When is the last time that the batteries were changed out in the UPS’s?
  • Is each and every device in the server room labeled?
  • Is all networking cable installed in a manner that not only makes sense but looks like it belongs there vs. haphazardly plugged in on the run?
  • Can you show me a map of the switches, what port is doing what?
  • Tell me about load leveling.
  • Have all of the intelligent devices SNMP passwords been changed from the default?
  • If so, what are the passwords? If not, why not?
  • Are there traps being sent to a syslog server?
  • Who reads the logs, how often; and are there any concerns?
  • How are the concerns addressed?
  • Show me the notes from change control or change management meetings?
  • Are these notes managed in a responsible manner and are all changes noted in the living document?
  • What is the average age of the workstation on the floor/building?
  • Describe the policy regarding passwords? How often are they changed?
  •  Describe your Hardware asset management strategy?
  • Describe your Software asset management strategy?
  • Who handles the maintenance on the HVAC in the server room?
  • When was the HVAC last serviced?
  • Tell me about your fire suppression.

It has been my experience as an IT manager and a Disaster Recovery Specialist who does many audits; the majority of Sysadmins do a horrible job of Hardware and software management much to the loss of the company and chagrin of the CFO.

Desktops last about 5 years, Laptops 3.  When they are put into service a clock should start running to replace it in X years.  You don’t want employees working on outdated equipment, and you don’t want to install new software on old computers as the license may very well die with the computer.

I have seen too many companies try to get everything they can out of a box.  Amortize the box and when the IRS says it is dead, let it go.  If there is a use for it in some non-critical function, “user discretion,” but add no more software and remove it from critical areas.

I have seen many people struggling along on a machine that is well past its usable life.  Loosing files or data or waiting around for the machine to catch up cost money.  While it may be soft dollars those soft dollars turn into real dollars quickly if you lose enough data and or time.

I used to install older computers in the break room with internet access and the usual windows Facebook type games.   Employees could use them for their private needs before or after their shift or while on break or lunch, and they were non-critical and on their own V-Lan where company data could not be accessed!

Not everyone in the company needs a full version of Office?  A lot of companies have a standard load for all computers.  That should be re-visited as it is wasteful. While  Microsoft would like you to purchase everything for every computer that is simply laziness and wasteful.

Software and Hardware management is in itself a job and proper management of it will produce and ROI.  This is necessary also to provide a budget requirement which the CFO might cringe when he or she sees the request but, at least it is planned and not a surprise!

  • What antivirus software is on them? How did you decide on that software?
  • Are the workstations locked down?
  • Do any users have admin rights? If so, why?
  • Are the USB ports locked down?
  • Are the CD burners locked down?
  • What ports are allowed through the firewall?
  • Is the firewall updated to the latest software?
  • Are traps from the firewall being sent to a syslog server?
  • Who has access to their workstation PC from home? Why?
  • Who has access to their home PC from work? Why?
  • What software is on each workstation?

I run an inventory program like Spiceworks or some other commercially available software, to obtain an inventory of all of the software on all of the boxes and then go through the task of identifying each executable.  I have found numerous Trojans and viruses, remote control software, games galore, software that was not licensed and oh yes, software that they used and did not know that they had as it was installed by previous regimes.  This type of activity is mandatory if you want to recover in the case of a disaster.  It is also mandatory if you want to be licensed properly and not have your neck on the line if some employee gets upset and calls the software police.

Recently the SBA has been advertising a lot trying to get employees to snitch on their company. The rewards to the snitch are inconsequential as the penalties and fines to the company are enormous.  Having that inventory and those licenses and even receipt in a safe place I would think to be a really good idea.

Some companies are so cheap that they use free anti-virus software which is not worth what you paid for it.  I fight viruses daily.  Free is not an option.  If you think that it is, you are diluted and clearly, don’t know what you are doing.

Free software by definition cannot be maintained as well as commercial software.  Who in the hell has money to pay for programmers and security experts and then give the product away?!

Good Anti-Virus software is Patriotic

I made the argument the other night at a speaking engagement that it is actually patriotic to use good anti-virus software. Why?  If millions of computers are taken over at the drop of a hat by some “bad guys” and they target let’s say the FAA or the FEDS, or some other institution and are able to cripple the banking industry, or what have you, and your computer is part of the problem; what then.  A Trojan could be sitting on your computer unknown to you, just waiting for the instruction to start a DOS attack.  Stop being cheap and buy the damned software and protect your computer(s) from being controlled by “evil.”

If a government had more than two neurons firing in their collective heads, they would create a “government approved” anti virus software and give it to its citizens.  Now I know how that would be received by most, if I had a choice I would buy my own as I really don’t want anything big brother has to offer on my computer, but lets face facts.  You probably have things on your computer right now made by the Russian Mafia or worse!   I am certain that a government grant could be created to support a group of “white hat hackers” to help keep America Safe from cyber terrorism. If you do this remember whose idea it was… 

Here are a few more questions for you CIO, /owner types who might actually have some skin in the game.

  • Do you have licenses for that software?
  • Where is that software?
  • Where are the licenses kept?
  • Can we prove that we bought a license for each and every piece of software in the building? If so, do it.  If not, why not?
  • How many employees use laptops?
  • Are they secure?
  • Are they encrypted?
  • Are USB drives or thumb drives that are necessary for business use, encrypted?
  • Do the laptops have up-to-date anti-virus software on them?
  • How old are they?
  • Do they use a VPN to get into the servers from outside of the office?
  • How secure is their VPN? What challenges, if any are there?
  • Do you use security tokens?
  • Can you show me a map of the building depicting which PC is hooked up to which drop?
  • If you are using VOIP can you show me that same map for the phones?
  • Is the map updated as changes occur?
  • Describe your backup policies and procedures.
  • Where is the data being sent off-site?
  • Are we using the cloud for backup?
  • Walk me through the procedure of getting access to the data if this building is blown away.
  • Walk me through the procedure of restoring the servers in another location.
  • Tell me who can do this if the Sysadmin is not available?
  • Have we tested a restore of the data, if so when was the last test and where are the results; if not, why not?

These few questions and comments are off the top of my head and it took about ten minutes to list them.  There are plenty more but, this gives you a small flavor of the kinds of information you should already have and that I gather in a disaster recovery project.

The simple facts are that IT people are loath to document anything.  It is kind of like editing your own work, you know what you meant to say and your mind fills in the blanks.  Documentation should be written in such a way that a technical person not familiar with your company should be able to pick up the document and pieces and re-build your company without you there.

Often I am met with complete truculence and arrogance and lots of attitude by the IT staff of a company that I do a DR for. They don’t want me there as they don’t want me messing around in their sandbox.  Truth be told they don’t want the the facts that they are remiss in their jobs to get to their boss who thinks everything is running perfectly, until it isn’t!

About Me:

If you happen to watch or ever have watched Hells Kitchen, or Kitchen Nightmare, or know who Chef Ramsay is than, you have a clue of who I am, without the foul mouth.  I take IT departments and fix them, and I take no prisoners (no excuses).  Not only do I fix the hardware and software components, but I fix the personnel issues as well. It may be a training issue or an employee that is a poor fit. It may be a lack of people as most companies try to run too thin on staff. There should be no one person who is sacrosanct.  In a disaster you may lose them, so we need things documented in such a way that a rent-a-geek can restore your company.  If there is no documentation, I create it.  Through a test of the DR, we can then hone that documentation to a fine point.

I am a troubleshooter.   Not only am I a problem solver; I have been in management of IT for a large part of my life. I get to the bottom of issues and take corrective action.  IT is ancillary to the business.  IT is a tool that has to be running smoothly; like a Swiss watch.  Your job as CEO is to run the company, not IT.  I have built data centers from the ground up, as well as re-built them while the business kept going all over the country.

From Data, fire suppression, HVAC, power requirements, UPS requirements, floor height, easy access to the equipment, MDF and IDF design’s Data and Voice, from the east coast to the west from the north to south.  I have worked in Union areas of the country to the Wild West where “anything goes.” Been there done that.

Go ask your IT people some of these questions and see if you are satisfied.  After 30 years in this business, I would be surprised if you were.

From me, or someone like me, among the deliverables, will be the documentation that so many just don’t do.  Without that documentation, you are playing with galloping dominoes. Your risk might be small as you yourself know something about it, or it may be huge in that you, like most who run a company, run it from 20,000 feet, through your management.  There are seldom any pleasant surprises in business.

Has anyone at your company done a risk assessment?  Where are you located geographically?  Are you in an area that is prone to earthquakes, Hurricanes or Typhoons? How about tornadoes or fire?

One of the largest risks to a company surprisingly is none of the above.  It is employee error.   I have worked for companies where the Owners were the issue.  One company had their child who played video games work on the equipment and of course screwed it up constantly.  Stay away from those companies as they don’t want to hear the truth.  Their child is perfect, knows everything about anything so it must be the fault of the internet or the software or something else.  I worked for companies where the owners themselves who ran the company, also thought they were the end all be all of IT.  Pride comes before a fall; and believe me, when you own a company you really don’t want to have that fall.  Stick to what you know best and leave the technical things that change daily to those that keep up with it.  We who know this stuff are constantly involved with forums and our peers.  What works today may not work tomorrow.  Unless you can devote your life to this, let those of us who do, do it!

“NO”

One owner takes a passing interest in the latest greatest through a magazine and orders or asked his IT guy to make it so.  If you have a yes-man working for you, do your self a favor and fire him.  Your people who do this for a living should have the ability to say no.  If they say no, you should listen to them.  If you want a second opinion, call your VAR.  If those two don’t jive call another.  Bottom line is you never install REV 1.0 of anything into production, ever!  If your guy cant be honest with you, get real and hire a person who will tell you “no!”  It may save you tens of thousands of dollars, if not your company. I have had yes men working for me in the past and got rid of them.  I depend on Team Cooperation, and that means I need their input.  While humbling oneself to listen to a subordinate can be a challenge at times, they may know something that you don’t.

I once worked for a guy who ran a company selling and servicing office equipment.  This was actually my first real job out of school.  The guy was from Georgia and had been a tank commander in WWII.  His manner was gruff, but he was sincere as the day was long.  We became close over the years as I have always made it a point to look at what successful people are doing, how they got there, and basically what made them tick.

He promoted me to the position of service manager of one of his locations.  He drove me over there to introduce me to the new team and show me around.  While on the road, he told me that one secret of a successful person is to hire people smarter, or at least as smart as you were.  To me, that was probably one of the most salient bits of advice that I could pass on.  That means that the man had humility and, also he must have thought something of me.

While I still struggle with humility today, I am aware of it and work on it.

Hours of Operation.

I had a guy interview with me. Towards the end of the interview, he asked me if there would be any overtime as he had obligations after work and on weekends.  This guy clearly had no clue about the job for which he was applying.  Hourly jobs are Burger King, not Sysadmin or Network specialist, etc.   We get paid well because this becomes the biggest part of our life!  If you are a 9 to 5 guy, don’t look at IT as a career.

As anyone who has been in IT any time at all can attest; this is not a nine-to-five job.  One never knows when something will stop working and you are suddenly pulling an all-niter to fix something.  With VMware and the technology we have today, we can minimize that risk which is something that we do through proper configuration of the servers, building in some redundancy and keeping up with the age of our hardware.

Once you get past a twelve hour day, statistics show that you are much more error-prone, thus shooting yourself in the foot; and possibly the company.  Best practice planning and implementation from the beginning mitigates this risk. Having up to date documentation as well as partnerships with VAR’s will allow you to recover faster, and employ fewer full-time people.  Staff augmentation through a VAR is an excellent way to keep the number of FTE’s down but, that relationship really needs to be solid.

If you want to experience what “cold running blood is” come in late at night to update some software on the server, reboot it and then you see the prompt, drive 0 not found.  This was before the days of raid.  This was when ginning a server started with installing 25 5.25 inch floppies followed by a 12-hour compsurf.  We have come a long way since then, and so have the folks who create viruses.  This is one of the most dynamic industries that I am aware of.  One really must be dedicated to be any good at this.

By dedicated, I mean just that.  Keep up with what is going on through periodicals, peers in the industry, and again I can’t stress this enough at least one good VAR.

On one of my data center re-builds a vendor was doing our cable plant.  They ran long into the night and someone made a mistake.  Instead of pulling the old data lines and stopping, they cut and pulled the phone lines as well.  On another cable job that I was aware of about 3 in the morning a 32 pair conductor cable got stuck.  Instead of seeing why the installer reared back and pulled for everything that he was worth.  He snapped an ionized water line and flooded the computer room in a huge hospital.  Water poured out of the elevator shaft like it was some sort of an elaborate fountain.  Thank goodness that was not my job.

Much like driving less than 500 miles a day on vacation is a good idea; so are the number of hours worked by each person, as mistakes happen. Make sure you have adequate staff to do the job, especially when you are taking on a new project.  How do you do that?  Proper project management methodologies and relationships with VARS… That is another story…

That is another story…

Here is an example of what a sysadmin is as defined by this site.

http://www.supportingadvancement.com/employment/job_descriptions/advancement_services/system_administrator.htm

ESSENTIAL FUNCTIONS:

The System Administrator (SA) is responsible for effective provisioning, installation/configuration, operation, and maintenance of systems hardware and software and related infrastructure. This individual participates in technical research and development to enable continuing innovation within the infrastructure. This individual ensures that system hardware, operating systems, software systems, and related procedures adhere to organizational values, enabling staff, volunteers, and Partners.

This individual will assist project teams with technical issues in the Initiation and Planning phases of our standard Project Management Methodology. These activities include the definition of needs, benefits, and technical strategy; research & development within the project life-cycle; technical analysis and design; and support of operations staff in executing, testing and rolling-out the solutions. Participation on projects is focused on smoothing the transition of projects from development staff to production staff by performing operations activities within the project life-cycle.

This individual is accountable for the following systems: Linux and Windows systems that support GIS infrastructure; Linux, Windows and Application systems that support Asset Management; Responsibilities on these systems include SA engineering and provisioning, operations and support, maintenance and research and development to ensure continual innovation.

SA Engineering and Provisioning

  1. Engineering of SA-related solutions for various project and operational needs.
  1. Install new / rebuild existing servers and configure hardware, peripherals, services, settings, directories, storage, etc. in accordance with standards and project/operational requirements.
  1. Install and configure systems such as supports GIS infrastructure applications or Asset Management applications.
  1. Develop and maintain installation and configuration procedures.
  1. Contribute to and maintain system standards.
  1. Research and recommend innovative, and where possible automated approaches for system administration tasks. Identify approaches that leverage our resources and provide economies of scale.

Operations and Support

  1. Perform daily system monitoring, verifying the integrity and availability of all hardware, server resources, systems and key processes, reviewing system and application logs, and verifying completion of scheduled jobs such as backups.
  1. Perform regular security monitoring to identify any possible intrusions.
  1. Perform daily backup operations, ensuring all required file systems and system data are successfully backed up to the appropriate media, recovery tapes or disks are created, and media is recycled and sent off site as necessary.
  1. Perform regular file archival and purge as necessary.
  1. Create, change, and delete user accounts per request.
  1. Provide Tier III/other support per request from various constituencies. Investigate and troubleshoot issues.
  1. Repair and recover from hardware or software failures. Coordinate and communicate with impacted constituencies.

Maintenance

  1. Apply OS patches and upgrades on a regular basis, and upgrade administrative tools and utilities. Configure/add new services as necessary.
  1. Upgrade and configure system software that supports GIS infrastructure applications or Asset Management applications per project or operational needs.
  1. Maintain operational, configuration, or other procedures.
  1. Perform periodic performance reporting to support capacity planning.
  1. Perform ongoing performance tuning, hardware upgrades, and resource optimization as required. Configure CPU, memory, and disk partitions as required.
  1. Maintain data center environmental and monitoring equipment.

KNOWLEDGE/SKILLS:

  1. Bachelor (4-year) degree, with a technical major, such as engineering or computer science.
  1. Systems Administration/System Engineer certification in Unix and Microsoft.
  1. Four to six years system administration experience.

COMPLEXITY/PROBLEM SOLVING:

  1. Position deals with a variety of problems and sometimes has to decide which answer is best. The question/issues are typically clear and require determination of which answer (from a few choices) is the best.

DISCRETION/LATITUDE/DECISION-MAKING:

  1. Decisions normally have a noticeable effect department-wide and company-wide, and judgment errors can typically require one to two weeks to correct or reverse.

RESPONSIBILITY/OVERSIGHT –FINANCIAL & SUPERVISORY:

  1. Functions as a lead worker doing the work similar to those in the work unit; responsibility for training, instruction, setting the work pace, and possibly evaluating performance.
  1. No budget responsibility.

COMMUNICATIONS/INTERPERSONAL CONTACTS:

  1. Interpret and/or discuss information with others, which involves terminology or concepts not familiar to many people; regularly provide advice and recommend actions involving rather complex issues. May resolve problems within established practices.
  1. Provides occasional guidance, some of which is technical.

WORKING CONDITIONS/PHYSICAL EFFORT:

  1. Responsibilities sometimes require working evenings and weekends, sometimes with little-advanced notice.
  1. No regular travel required.

———————————————————————————————————

This is close, but I would add to this list… I see nothing in this description about documenting anything.  Maybe that is why it is not done in so many places?  Does your SA do this type of thing?

-Best

Advertisement

Scam Tri-Fecta

Are you getting the idea that this is rampant…

Here are three that each tries to get you “me” to open that attachment!

Notice the enticement that they try to use…

 

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This is some sort of sales order that I am to look over…

 

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Oh no, the better business bureau is after me, I had best open the document to see what is up…NOT

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From somewhere I have received a fax, but not on my fax machine….Think I should see what this is about???? 

 

It doesn’t stop with BS e-mails but also comes in the form of phone calls via people fishing for information.  Today I got a call from someone telling me that they are able to keep the IRS from enforcing my tax lien.. “Oh good!” Wait, I don’t have any stinking IRS problems…. Think I should give them my social security number to check “just in case?”  Holy crap, it never ends.!  Some people fall for this stuff and that is why I am here today… Don’t!  Tell your friends, family and neighbors  and countrymen… LOL 

 

If you find any of this useful spread the word for me.  Sometimes I feel like I am typing all this simply to amuse myself….

 

-Best to you and those that you care about.

 

Scam of the day 5/7/14

Today’s scam comes from your friendly banking institution.  Just kindly open the attached ZIP file for all of the details… Nope, don’t think so!

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Your bank may very well send you e-mails.  I would not open any files that you were not expecting. 

 

If you look at the “from address” you will see that it is not from Bank of America but someplace that makes no sense.

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Make a phone call to your local bank if you are in doubts, before opening anything!

 

-Best to you and those that you care about.

Scam of the day 5/6/14

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Why are the feds not looking into this?

Now I get a lot of this type of stuff and I know better….

 Having said that; how many times have I been tempted to click before engaging the brain?  Too many too count… And I know better….

 The post office would not have my e-mail address; nor would they send any type of attachment or even communicate with me in this manner. 

 

They are the king of coming during the business week and leaving one of those nice little notes that you were missed and oh yes now go waste 30 odd minutes of your life standing in line; not counting the drive time, gas or other inconvenience for using USPS.

 I digress, don’t play into this as it is most probably some sort of virus lurking, waiting to do some nastiness to your computer, files or exploit your personal information.

 You would also be wise to have your e-mail package not display pictures by default.  That too is a source of ingress into your system, like files, you should only allow pictures from trusted sources and then make sure that your trusted source has not been compromised.

 

-Best to you and those that you care about.

The case of the password vs insanity.

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We have all heard that the definition of insanity is: doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.  This was not lost on me when recently my password on my home PC was no longer accepted.

Imagine logging in to your own PC, that no one else touches, and the password no longer works.

I cannot tell you how many times that I tried the password that I know that it is supposed to be, and then doubting my sanity, trying every other password that it might be “just in case I changed it” without remembering I did. 

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The only reason there was a smidgeon of a doubt is that recently Yahoo forced me to change my password.  They would accept nothing less than a strong password which by the way is so strong that I have trouble typing it while looking at it, and there is not a chance of remembering it.

No longer are the days of the family pet or address or birthday acceptable as passwords.  Imagine having to type a password like this T4^s#hg^9? every time you logged on to your computer!

While the home PC’s password was not quite this strong, there is more than room for error.  This led to a rather frustrating afternoon as one might guess.

The trouble shooting process was difficult as Windows allows little room for error and certainly not much for diagnostics.  My first guess was the keyboard had to be messing up in some way so I changed the batteries.  When that did not bear fruit I hooked up a hard wired keyboard to the USB port and still nothing.  “Incorrect login name or password.” 

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Google produced nothing relevant other than an ad for some company that sells some software to recover your password.  Microsoft was no help.  If I were in a decision making role at Microsoft I would make some sort of option on the login screen that would allow for one to make certain that their keyboard is typing the correct letter and that the caps is on or off.  Wireless keyboards don’t have any LED on them to tell you about “num lock” or shift lock and , the screen was not giving me any hint of this either although it normally would.

Windows 7 offers a way to reset the password, but you have to plan for it first and oh yes, it requires the “A drive, a floppy.”  This too needs to be re-thought as few computers today have a floppy drive.

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Somewhere in the process of trying to boot into safe mode I get an error that says “keyboard failure.”

At this point I try the wired keyboard into several different USB ports with the same results.  I then installed a usb card thinking that maybe that would work, nope same results.

I could do things in Bios but not in Windows.  The thing that would have helped is a way to check the keyboard, in Bios.  My guess is that Bios is not as picky about what it sees from the keyboard and since you are only using limited keyboard functions, curser movements, enter and tab, one would not have guessed that the USB was having issues.

I just happen to own another machine of identical configuration, so a swap of the hardrive to the other machine rendered a machine that worked with my password that worked all along.

I can only conclude that there is an issue with the USB controller on the motherboard.

I am considering clearing out the Bios on the old board and trying a re-install of the software just to see if that fixes it.  There may also be some sort of update from Dell for that Bios.

For you hardware junkies out there, this is probably standard fare.  While I could have purchased a new machine for the $$ wasted in time to diagnose this, I have a new found empathy towards those who just use the machine and have no clue how it works.

Can you imagine Joe Q User out there that really looks for the “any key” having an issue like this?Image

If I was frustrated (and I have been at this when DOS 1 was new,) I cannot even fathom what something like this would be like for others who have less experience than I.

I hope that this helps someone somewhere possibly saving some time and frustration as this type of bugaboo should not happen.

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Best to you and those that you care about!

 

 

 

 

 

Viri-The Truth about Bugs

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

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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!

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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.

http://www.eset.com/us/

http://shop.trendmicro.com/brand/SB/?cm_mmc=Paid+Search:US-_-Consumer:Brand-_-Google:TrendMicroExact-_-KW=trend+micro&SQ=trend+micro

http://www.bitdefender.com

http://norton.symantec.com/norton/ps/3up_us_en_navnis360_sym_ent.html?om_sem_cid=hho_sem_sy:us:ggs:sy:e|kw0000006084|10257754940&country=US

http://promos.mcafee.com/offer.aspx?id=469920&affid=792&eid=covmcaggl89400000194617s&adid=17846076983&s_kwcid=TC|16933|mcafee||S|e|17846076983

http://usa.kaspersky.com/?domain=kaspersky.com

http://free.avg.com/us-en/homepage

http://www.avast.com/en-us/index

-Best and Happy Computing