Scambusters

Today with the way technology is proceeding at a breakneck speed, we are all inundated with offers either via email, telephone or by on-line malware. This post talks about some tips to avoid being scammed. In today’s of technology overload, you are your own last line of defense against spam, phishing, malware, virus’s, and any web born aggrevation.

Hmm, do I sound like someone who has gone down this path?

To battle the scourge of being scammed or having your identity stolen, here are a couple of really good sites which help you follow up on this ageless motto:

“If it sounds too good to be true, it absolutely is”.

  1. Scambusters – Check out questionable offers
  2. Scam – On-line community forums

Some tips to avoid being scammed or having your identity stolen (my list of on-line NO-NO’s):

  • Don’t open ANY emails that look suspicious (No you have not won $5M in the European Union’s lottery that you never entered)
  • Don’t confirm any personal information via email – NO valid financial institution will ask you for your pin code to “confirm” your identity.
  • Never ever give your credit card number to anyone on the phone, if you have any doubt of  who the caller is. I encountered this when I kept on getting “restricted” calls from the Policemen’s fund raiser on my home phone. As soon as you ask for proof of identity or email confirmation, the phone line mysteriously goes dead….
  • Make sure your Antivirus, hardware/software firewall, spyware blocker, anti-phishing (browser) addons for Firefox or IE are updated. If this sounds like I’m over-protected, I’m not. Even with all of the above, I’ve seen many of these villans attack my machines at home. So in order to protect yourself, you need to have a combinations. I’ve used both McAfee and Norton. These days I lean towards McAfee, only because, it’s provided free by most web providers (Comcast, Optimum, etc…). I’v also stopped using IE all together and only use Firefox on all my machines.
  • Make sure you disable Pop-Ups (this is how how I caught the dreaded “Your machine has a virus, you need to purchase ….”  virus). You can always enable or override with simple keystrokes.
  • Do not accept any invitation/messages  from anyone that you do not know on social networking sites.  Yes that means me, a noted Facebook and LinkedIn fanatic.
  • Do not accept an invitation : When you get an invite from someone that you have no clue to be your “friend” on your instant messager client (cindyfunxx38  is not your friend)

Overall, I can safely say: “If you encounter stangers bearing gifts, you can almost be assured that you will be given a gift that will last for a lifetime”.

If you know of any additional scambuster sites, leave me a comment.

Viruses and Malware Attack and Resolution

Over the past week, I’ve been busy trying to clean up a nasty virus/malware that one of my machines picked up on the Web. I certainly learned some valuable lessons from this experience and I’m going to share them with you.

It took me over 24 hours to get rid of the nasty bug I had on my main computer. I’m still trying to get my machine back in good shape. I know, it’s my own fault for not being more consistent in the way I protectmy primary machine, but fortunately for me, I “think” I survived.

  1. Never ever make your default profile an “Administrator” profile. Every user on your computer should have their profile as “regular user”. Only on administrator. With this, you reduce substantially, the probability of a virus latching on to your machine.
  2. This is regardless whether you use XP or Vista. Even with multiple layers of Antivirus/HW and Software Firewall/Anti Spyware Protection, a nasty “Antivirus Pro 2009” spyware was able to penatrate my defensive line and get access to my machine.
  3. Stop using IE 7 as your primary browser! Use Firefox as your primary and only browser. If you use Firefox, make sure you have Script Blocker and Add Block Plus installed as Add on’s.
  4. If you do get a virus, immediatley power down and if you have a seconday machine, Google the symptoms. In my case I quickly found out that the site bleepingcomputer had the latest posting on the virus/malware that I had gotten.
  5. Follow the directions that the site gives you exactly to work on virus removal.
  6. If you have do download anything, make sure you download it to an accessible drive on YOUR computer so when you are in “safe” mode, you can work on the virus removal.
  7. When you are working on virus removal, ALWAYS, ALWAYS work in safe mode (this is a restricted mode of your computer). This is the mode when you press “F8” while rebooting your computer.
  8. Once you have cleared your virus/trojan/malware, Make sure you have an up to date Software Firewall (Get a free one if you don’t have a paid one). Make sure you have real-time spyware protection on your computer.
  9. Remember that you must have multiple layers of protection on your machine. Just as we are trying to protect our machine, others are thinking of ways to hack into our machines.

In the above scenario, I utilized the following software/Tools to clear out my virus:

TTYL

PC Hell – Tips to solve your PC Related problems

Last week, my daughter (again) downloaded a spyware/malware toolbar on her PC. Of course, I had no clue whether this toolbar was malware. I quickly found out that this IE toolbar (forgot it’s name).

This toolbar was particularly nasty, as it didn’t do anything but slow down the Vista machine. Of course Vista doesn’t need much help doing that.

I found this site via Google the site PC Hell which helped me to get rid of this nefarious toolbar. This site is pretty cool in that it gives you some great tips and techniques “to bring your pc from the edge”. Most of this focus is trojans, malware and browser hijacker’s.

I poked around this site and found the content to be very useful. Check it out.

Below is a direct quote from the site which I thought to be pretty ominous:
Everyone has been to PC Hell at one time or another. It’s that place you visit when your personal computer is driving you insane with problems, glitches, and so on. To try to soothe the frustration, we’ll provide some tips, hints, and troubleshooting remedies to help you get out of PC Hell. Be warned however, sometimes there is no exit….

Lesson to be learned here: Never let your teenager get Admin rights to his/her PC. Yet this is a topic that can be discussed another day.

TTFN