DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

December 6, 2016

Malware Bites

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 4:53 am

I had an interesting email from Jim a couple of weeks ago regarding a column I wrote about my personal computer getting hit by malware.  He said that I mentioned Malwarbytes (malwarebytes.com) but he would like to know more about it.  Well as sometimes happens with emails like this I chuckle to myself and think, "Didn’t they read that when I talked about it a couple of months ago?"  Then I find the article on DoubleClicks.info and send the emailer a link.  That way the can read all about Malwarebytes or whatever else I have talked about.  To be honest I thought that about Jim too. 

Well, guess what?  After a search of my site and all of the columns I have written over the past 15 years I found something.  I found that I have never devoted an entire article to that great utility.  I have mentioned it seven times in passing but never gave it some of the attention it deserved.  So, that is my task today.

First, what is malware?  Malware is another one of those made-up techie words which is a mix of, "MALicious softWARE."  Malware is usually software that is downloaded to your computer that has been created to gain access for information or wreak havoc your computer without you being aware it has happened.  Until it is too late.  Malwarebytes does a great job of removing all of those problems. 

malwarebytesTo setup Malwarebytes you first go to the site and click the "Free Download" button.  Do not fear the cartoonish looking robot is the correct site.  Once it downloads you can go to that file named, "Mbam setup" and double click it as usual.  Then follow the setup instructions basically clicking, "Next" at each step.  You will be done shortly. A desktop icon will be created.  You can click the icon and from the Dashboard click, "Update now" if it does not have a green check mark next to it. Then, the big green, "Scan Now" button. 

You will have some to many items found.  I had not run it on a new computer for about six month, remembered about Malwarebytes and it found over 70 issues on my PC.  Now follow the directions, you can first quarantine all of the items then delete them.  You will then be much safer.  If you have more detailed questions which you very well may after this short run-through visit the site and the Support section.

Malwarebytes.comI suggest you run it every couple of weeks depending on how often you use your computer.  You run it again manually just as you did above.  You can buy the Premium version and it will run automatically in the background after your first manual run.  This is convenient but may not be worth the $25 a year to you. 

Yes, after my past difficulties that I had and thinking things over I even paid for the Premium version of Malwarebytes.  Those of you that follow me realize I do not do that very often.  It is that good.  OK, I also wanted to see the differences between it and the free version, which I will discuss in a future feature.

November 22, 2016

Malware Strikes

Before I start today I will tell you that I run all the security software you normally would on a computer.  I also only run software that I recommend to you when you ask or when I write.  That way I know what you can do for free and how well it works. I have always been satisfied with this arrangement.

Now, back to the story.  I was on my desktop computer and up pops an alert from my antivirus application.  I will not mention the name of it since it is an app that I have been testing for several weeks.  BANG, I had malware!!!

I told it to take care of it by removing the offending malware files as I have done only a couple of times over the years.  Then predictably the warning went away.

After anywhere from 10 seconds to five minutes I get another warning and another and another, etc.  After a dozen or two of them I just let them go to watch what would happen.  I figured my computer was probably already ruined so why worry about it further.

After a hundred or so alerts I ran Malwarebytes to take care of the problem.  That application (which still does a good job in most areas) found them but it could not remove them either.  At this point, I am starting to perspire.

You should turn this on if you have no other antivirus softwareI then shutdown my “now proven worthless” antivirus app and uninstalled it.  I then install a more proven, reputable antivirus app.  After it finished its set up it also found the malware but could do nothing with it either.  I now shutdown this antivirus application and ran Windows Defender.  Always keep in mind that you should run only one antivirus app on your computer at a time.  Also, Windows Defender switches itself off automatically when you install a third party anti-virus app.

Windows Defender is the antivirus application that comes built into Windows 10 and has been available since Windows XP.  For the past years, most geeks say to run a third-party antivirus app in its place since Windows Defender (WD to save space) is not as good as the others.  I trusted the pros as I had never proven it to be good or bad for me.

Windows Defender on Windows 10

The second I started up WD it found the malware and asked if it should remove it.  I responded, “Heck yeah, kill it my new little friend!”  Well not exactly but you know what I mean.

About five minutes later all of the malware was apparently gone and my computer was running smoothly once again. I rebooted it, ran the “dependable” antivirus software again and it said that everything was safe.  I ran Malwarebytes again and it too reported everything as being safe and secure.

Now I have uninstalled all of the antivirus apps and let Windows Defender take over the heavy lifting.  As far as I am concerned that is all I need now along with Malwarebytes.

February 9, 2016

I Took One for the Team and Lost

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:56 am

Last week I told you about my situation after installation of a program I was testing to possibly recommend to you.  After the test it failed to perform as advertised.  I then uninstalled the app, went on about my business and realized it had put malware into my computer.
 
This week…the aftershock. 

I dug into Google to search for a fix for this particular problem.  The problem was that after the uninstallation each browser I used had a new Yahoo search tab open.  The page did not appear to be an actual Yahoo page.  If you use Yahoo you will see that the URL will be, "www.yahoo.com."  The one in the new tab had an additional ten – fifteen characters which is wrong.

I found several different suggestions on how to resolve this issue.  I tried several solutions that had registry edits, folder removals, and other suggestions – none were effective. 

After an hour or so I decided to run a System Restore which has been built into the Windows OS since Windows ME came out in 2000.  System Restore will basically roll back your entire computer to a previous time in history.  It will not affect files you created such as Word documents or spreadsheets but it will remove any software that was installed since that date.  This means that usually after the restore process is finished and your computer reboots any problems you had will be gone.  Well, not so with this issue.

After the system restore my computer would not restart.  I got the new blue screen of death for Windows 10 which has a large “frowny” face.  Cute but disgusting none-the-less.

Your PC ran into a problem, warning graphic

I was not too discouraged with this latest non-starting situation since I had already decided to rebuild this computer.  My feeling has always been once you have a virus or malware you have one choice.  That is to set aside several hours to wipe your computer clean and rebuild it from scratch.

So I reformatted the hard drive, installed Windows 10, and added all of my programs as if it were a new computer.  Unlike you, when I get a new computer I wipe it clean and rebuild it myself.  Call me a geek but that way I know exactly what is on my system.  So this was not a big deal to me.  I sort of enjoyed it.  If you ever have to do this you must make sure you have all of your serial numbers for your applications so that you can reinstall them.

As I have said before I use Dropbox.  So I simply downloaded all of my personal files, like articles I have written over the past 15 years, and all was well.  A pain to do but it was a little like spring cleaning for me. 

I have had emails this past week from people wanting to know what the program was that caused all the problems.  If you are interested shoot me an email and ask.

February 2, 2016

I Took One for the Team

It finally happened to me, the tech "professional."  After years of reading, writing, researching, testing and reporting on technology and applications I got in trouble.

When I suggest software to you I have always tested the applications or sites that I recommended before telling you about them.  In testing software applications I test them in a "sandbox."  No, not that kind of sandbox.  

A sandbox for a geek is a place created on a computer which has no or very limited access to other parts of your computer.  The sandbox is like a computer running within your regular computer system but it cannot touch anything on the main system unless you allow it to do so.  Once you are finished with the sandbox you can easily delete the entire thing and be done.  That way you can run untested applications and if they work without any issues you can feel safe about installing it on your main system.  If they negatively affect your sandbox after testing you can delete the entire sandbox and it is all gone.  Safe and sound.  After testing I tell you about the app.

You may then ask, "Why don’t you tell us the bad ones, Ron?"  The reason I do not tell you about the bad apps goes something like this:  I mentioned a popular app one time that tracked when you go on the internet for advertising purposes.  I mentioned the name of the product.  A week later I was contacted by the company’s lawyers "requesting" me to retract my statement. 

I am one little techie who writes part time and I have no legal reps.  So I presented my facts to the attorney with lines of code and proof.  I asked if he wanted me to post the entire findings online and in the next column.  I received an email back stating that was only in the free version; the paid version was clean.  They sent me the paid version to test.  I never heard back from them.  I do not want to play that game again.  

Back to the present.  I installed a new application on my PC…no sandbox, oops.  

After the installation finished I ran the program testing whether it did what it was supposed to do.  It worked pretty well but not well enough for me to recommend.  So I uninstalled it from my PC, not the sandbox. 

I immediately noticed that all of my browsers now opened my homepage tab and a fake Yahoo page.  The page was not related to the real Yahoo but it sure looked good.  I tried all of the known fixes for a browser highjack and it would not go away.  I then searched online and yes, it was a known malware from installation of the program I had tested.  It gave some suggestions on how to possibly resolve it.  I tried them, rebooted and now that computer will no longer start.  Shoot me an email if you wish to know the application that I believe caused the issue. 

I will be working on it this week and give you any results I have next time.  Stay tuned as the adventure continues.  

June 16, 2015

Decrapify Your Computer

Last week I mentioned a friend whose computer was struggling through a major malware and viral infection.  I had several readers write to ask, what was done to resolve it and even more importantly how to stop a reoccurrence of the same problems. 

To resolve it I installed Avast! for antivirus protection and Malwarebytes to remove the malware.  I had to run each several times to get rid of all but a couple of nasty ones. 
For those last two or three I had to search the net to find solutions since I had never heard of them.  I found the solutions, ran them and those problems were gone, too.  This was not a quick process.  The first run of Avast! took several hours and Malwarebytes took a couple of overnight runs.  But finally all was well.

I will also say that a huge majority of their problems came from trial antivirus expiring and nothing replacing it, plus many coupon saving apps which were putting on all the malware to get usernames and passwords along with surfing habits.  Fortunately they did not do any banking online or they would have been broke, too.

Next, on a new computer the first thing you should do is to install the two applications mentioned above or pay for the free/trial antivirus provided by the manufacturer and add  Malwarebytes. 

Next, you need to remove the PUPs from your new computer.  (Potentially Unwanted Programs, and yes that is an actual term.)  These are the "junk" programs on new computers that you do not use and will likely never have a need for. 

For the past many years I have built my own computers so I only install what I need; however, in the olden days I used an application called, "PCDecrapifier."  I reinstalled it today to test it out and it still works well. It will remove the majority of your PUPs and bloatware / crapware; however, you may still have some left. For those remaining you should uninstall them upon discovery as you would any application. 

PC Decrapifier logo

PCDecrapifier is a standalone app, which means no installation other than running the downloaded executable.  When you are done all you do is remove the Decrapifier file you downloaded and ran earlier.  It will request if you would like to create a restore point.  I doubt you will need to worry about it but I suggest that you do this.  I recommend you create a restore point anytime you install any new application.

Last today I have several steps for installing new software from day one on.  Start by reviewing the program you are looking to install on your favorite search engine.  See if anyone mentions any "security" issues about it.  Throw out the top 10% of lovers and haters of the application and you will have realistic opinions.  Next, when you install it, if there is a "Custom" install choose that over the default which asks you no questions.  The reason is even some reputable programs have "add on" programs that go with them.  For instance some install Google Chrome along with the real app you mean to install.  In my opinion that is not bad since I am a big supporter of Chrome; however, some apps install PUPs.  A custom install will allow you to choose exactly what is installed so you can "uncheck" any PUPs you see. 

March 31, 2015

What Should I Install?

I regularly receive questions concerning readers buying new computers.  They will usually ask what antivirus software they should install to keep everything protected.  I usually suggest one or two good antivirus applications.  Keep in mind I am only referencing Windows machines and, due to my frugal nature, free applications. 

Microsoft Windows logoIf you have a Windows 7 system, I recommend going to Microsoft.com and searching for "Microsoft Security Essentials."  Go to the download page, download it and install it.  It may already be on your new computer if the manufacturer made a deal with MS to preinstall it.  However, do not worry if it is, it will harm nothing to reinstall.

Windows Defender screenFor a Windows 8.1 (or 8 if you have not upgraded yet…which you should ASAP) you have "Windows Defender" already installed on your computer.  It comes automatically with all versions of W8.  It is an upgraded version of "Security Essentials" for W8.  These are both good antivirus apps and really all you need unless you go to disreputable places that may possibly be able to defeat them.  They are good in that they will be updated with Windows Update so you do not have to do anything additional to get them updated as you do with all other third party apps. 

Avast! logoSome people do not trust MS and want another antivirus software so I recommend, "Avast!"  If you choose to install Avast go to, "Avast.com" only.  The reason is, if you search for it online you may be directed to a disreputable site.  It may be listed as a free download but you may be getting something that could harm your system. 

One other major application I would install on all computers today is Malwarebytes (download the free version at Malwarebytes.org).  I mentioned it toward the end of last year but many people have asked about it, so I feel I need to remind you. 

Malwarebytes logoI personally had not installed Malwarebytes on my computer figuring my antivirus software took care of everything.  A year or more ago I noticed my system running slower than it should be and I found a toolbar installed on Internet Explorer I had not installed.  I had not noticed it before since I do not regularly use MSIE as my browser so I had no idea how long it was on my computer.  Anytime you have a toolbar on your browser that you know nothing about is not a good sign.  It most likely means that you have some malware running and you need to remove it…now!  So I knew my computer had been had. 

Malware is software inserted when you download something, either intentionally or not, that is designed to do damage or some sort to your system.  It can totally or partially disable your computer.

The first time you run Malwarebytes you may get tens to hundreds of files recognized.  Delete them all!  I would encourage you to run it on some sort of regular schedule.  A weekly, monthly or quarterly time frame is good depending on how much you are online.

I almost guarantee if you install and run this on your old computer you will find many malware items present.  

What Should I Install?

I regularly receive questions concerning readers buying new computers.  They will usually ask what antivirus software they should install to keep everything protected.  I usually suggest one or two good antivirus applications.  Keep in mind I am only referencing Windows machines and, due to my frugal nature, free applications. 

imageIf you have a Windows 7 system, I recommend going to Microsoft.com and searching for "Microsoft Security Essentials."  Go to the download page, download it and install it.  It may already be on your new computer if the manufacturer made a deal with MS to preinstall it.  However, do not worry if it is, it will harm nothing to reinstall.

Picture of Windows DefenderFor a Windows 8.1 (or 8 if you have not upgraded yet…which you should ASAP) you have "Windows Defender" already installed on your computer.  It comes automatically with all versions of W8.  It is an upgraded version of "Security Essentials" for W8.  These are both good antivirus apps and really all you need unless you go to disreputable places that may possibly be able to defeat them.  They are good in that they will be updated with Windows Update so you do not have to do anything additional to get them updated as you do with all other third party apps. 

imageSome people do not trust MS and want another antivirus software so I recommend, "Avast!"  If you choose to install Avast go to, "avast.com" only.  The reason is, if you search for it online you may be directed to a disreputable site.  It may be listed as a free download but you may be getting something that could harm your system. 

One other major application I would install on all computers today is Malwarebytes (download the free version at malwarebytes.org).  I mentioned it toward the end of last year but many people have asked about it, so I feel I need to remind you. 

imageI personally had not installed Malwarebytes on my computer figuring my antivirus software took care of everything.  A year or more ago I noticed my system running slower than it should be and I found a toolbar installed on Internet Explorer I had not installed.  I had not noticed it before since I do not regularly use MSIE as my browser so I had no idea how long it was on my computer.  Anytime you have a toolbar on your browser that you know nothing about is not a good sign.  It most likely means that you have some malware running and you need to remove it…now!  So I knew my computer had been had. 

Malware is software inserted when you download something, either intentionally or not, that is designed to do damage or some sort to your system.  It can totally or partially disable your computer.

The first time you run Malwarebytes you may get tens to hundreds of files recognized.  Delete them all!  I would encourage you to run it on some sort of regular schedule.  A weekly, monthly or quarterly time frame is good depending on how much you are online.

I almost guarantee if you install and run this on your old computer you will find many malware items present.  

December 30, 2014

New Computer, Part 2

Last week I told you about Ninite.com for your new computer.  I received several emails asking what other applications I would install on a new Windows computer. 

My first "have to have" application is anti-virus software.  I suggest initially what probably comes free with your new computer. However, after the free six or twelve month trial ends, get a free app.  The one you get with your computer usually goes for a high annual fee.  Download only one of these first: AVG or Avast!. These are the two many other geeks and I use.  Search the sites for the free versions and only get them from those sites.  Viruses may be included in them when they are downloaded elsewhere.   

Do not install more than one antivirus app on your computer at a time or it could cause issues. 

Next, I have a new recommendation, Malwarebytes.  This will help your antivirus software keep you even safer.  The free version is good.  You need to remember to run it yourself every few days.  Malware stands for malicious software that may not destroy things but can really mess with your computer.  I almost guarantee if you install and run this on your old computer you will find you have hundreds of malware items present.  

Now, go to Speed Test and see what actual speeds you are getting from your internet service provider.  If you get less than you should call your provider and get their assistance to correct the issue.  The speed can vary from hour-to-hour but should be close most of the time. 

The next thing I suggest is something you used to have to pay a bundle for, Microsoft Office.  Not any longer.  For the average Office user you can create a new Outlook.com account or use your Hotmail.com account and use Office Online – for free.  There are several ways to get to your office apps but I suggest onedrive.live.com to set up or login to your office products. 

After typing like you did in your new free online Word application you notice that your typing could be improved if you used more than two fingers.  To work on your typing skills and speed take a look at Typing Web and practice.  You can improve your typing for free and maybe have some fun doing so.  

Finally, you should just have some fun.  If you like computer games login for free at Steam Powered.  An account is free as are some of the games; however, some may have a onetime cost or possibly a monthly fee.  I like the free, "Star Trek Online" where I am a commander of a Federation vessel. 

If you want to pay for a game, set up a PayPal account.  It is a very secure online payment system.  I have used it for years and have never had a problem.  I suggest anytime you tie your checking/savings account to anything online you create a separate account from your "home" account.  This is just in case there is ever a security hack.  They can only get a minimal amount of money and it will not affect paying your "real" bills.

Have a Happy 2015!

November 6, 2012

Another Windows 8 Article…

Windows 8 BoxWindows 8 is out and according to Microsoft it is, "Vibrant and beautiful."  Well the colors are very nice and it is faster.  It will work with a computer that previously ran Windows 7 and even run better and faster with less hardware requirements which is unusual for a new Operating System.  It also boots much more quickly.  The advertised boot time is about six seconds, but I found that mine was less than 10 seconds. That is still fantastic. 

Let’s take a look at some of the new features. 

Touchscreen is the latest tech feature to come along since the first iPhone rolled and now Windows 8 has it.  This is slick – on a touchscreen enabled computer which you will most likely have to buy since until now very few computers had it.  On the desktop "Tiles" are in and "Icons" are out.  Tiles are larger and are sometimes active. The weather tile updates continuously so you can see it without opening it unless you want to.

Windows 8 has exceptional cloud integration out of the box, meaning you can immediately open and save all of your files on your Microsoft "Sky Drive" off site and not on your hard drive.  This includes all of your Office files and various other types of files.

One thing I believe Microsoft should have done in several past Windows iterations is to include an anti-virus application in the operating system.  Windows 8 now has Windows Defender included in the default installation.  This includes anti-virus, anti-malware and other good features, at no additional charge.

Speaking about the charge…at this time MS is offering a special deal if you purchase Windows 8 before January 31, 2013.  The cost is $39.99 to download it or $69.99 to order the disks.  There are basically only two versions of Windows 8.  They are Windows 8 and the Pro version. Prices quoted are for Windows 8 Pro.  If you are going to buy it I recommend that you go for the Pro and forget the standard version.

You get Internet Explorer 10 with Windows 8 which seems to be quicker and "prettier" than the previous varieties.  When you open it, as with all of the new Windows 8 enabled GUI programs it takes the entire screen and most of your menu items disappear until you right click to bring them up.  This is a good thing; however, it may take some time to get used to the difference.

So if you have heard how horrible it is…well, it really is not.  However, for all the good it has it has several, in my opinion, major problems. 

The learning curve on it is huge.  The normal user will be lost as soon as it is installed. 

Ron's Windows 8 StartThe new GUI is nice.  However, when you use a program that was not designed for that GUI (Firefox for one) you get kicked back to a regular looking Windows 7 desktop…WHAT!?  Yes, Windows 8 has the Windows 7 desktop, which you can get to fairly easily but one major thing is missing, the START button, so you have to finagle your way into programs that used to be right on the start menu.

Some Windows 8 programs can only open in the Windows 7 desktop.  For instance, if you need to use Windows Explorer to copy files from one folder to another you get kicked over to the Windows 7 desktop to open Explorer to copy your files.  Why not stay in the Windows 8 environment?  It almost looks to me as though they did not quite finish developing part of the system. 

imageI think it would make an excellent operating system for a tablet or a PC with touchscreen capabilities; however, if you are not ready to purchase a new computer I do not recommend switching.  I will not but I will run it in a virtual environment to watch for changes and to be able to answer questions from some of you brave souls who do switch.  

May 16, 2011

2011-05-16 WSVA Show Notes

Listen to the podcast online if you weren’t able to listen live this morning.

Tech News
Online Scammers Jump on bin Laden News
Security experts are warning Internet users to beware of Osama bin Laden malware. Symantec says one spam contains a link to bogus photos and videos purporting to be from CNN Mexico. Instead, it directs people to a scam site designed to look real but created to steal passwords. Facebook users also fell victim to fake bin Laden links.

In what’s become common practice among the Internet’s less savory citizens, these scammers are sending out emails and spreading Facebook posts that purport to be videos or photos of the dead bin Laden. They are not. But by clicking the links, users can download computer viruses that steal personal information or otherwise infect their computers.


Yell at your phone to charge it!
New research from engineers in South Korea promises a new way to top up your phone’s battery: by shouting at it. This comes via a technique that turns energy from sound into electricity, and would allow a phone to be charged while you hold a conversation-just don’t throw you charger away any time soon.

Theoretically, using this technology your phone would also be able to charge while hold a conversation, but the sound levels in this situation are not high enough, unless… you shout at it.


CAN IT BE TRUE???? Skype Vulnerability Allows Hackers To Take Over Macs
A recently discovered hack in the Mac version of Skype allows hackers to gain control of the user’s system by sending a malicious instant message.

According to Australian security consultancy company Pure Hacking, the vulnerability in Skype is dangerous and would allow anyone with the know-how to gain control of a Mac by simply sending a malicious instant message.


  • Skype http://www.skype.com
    With Skype, you can share a story, celebrate a birthday, learn a language, hold a meeting, work with colleagues – just about anything you need to do together every day. You can use Skype on whatever works best for you – on your phone or computer or a TV with Skype on it. It is free to start using Skype – to speak, see and instant message other people on Skype for example. You can even try out group video, with the latest version of Skype.

    If you pay a little, you can do more things, in more ways, with more people – like call phones, access WiFi or send texts.

    Microsoft purchases Skype


  • Planking http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/psychologist-fears-police-crackdown-will-lead-to-more-planking-deaths/story-e6freoof-1226057031718
    This is the first recorded "Planking" death; unfortunately there could be many more to follow. What is planking? It is the "art" of laying face-down in extreme locations, having your picture taken and posted online for temporary fame.

    As the debate about planking went viral around the world yesterday, Brisbane psychologist Paul Martin warned of more deaths of "extreme plankers". He claimed part of the reason was that the pre-frontal cortex in men aged 23 or younger – the decision management part of the brain – was not fully developed and they therefore lacked a "handbrake" and took silly risks.

    "Add testosterone, add masculinity, add the Jackass effect and then add the explosion of social networking sites which are a way to gain acceptance . . . (and) death is quite inevitable."


  • Gas Buddy & Virginia Gas Prices http://gasbuddy.com
    Check country wide or state wide gas prices. Just enter your Zip Code at gasbuddy.com and it will take you to the area gas prices (for us, VirginiaGasPrices.com.

    They also have a trip cost estimator. Enter the FROM and TO, YEAR, MAKE and MODEL of your car and they will estimate how much it will cost you in gas to go and return.

    And of course, they have apps for iPhones, Androids and Windows phones. If you have another smart phone go to http://m.gasbuddy.com.


Join Ron and Jim next time on WSVA 550 AM, Monday, June 20, 2011 for more interesting sites, tech news and conversation.

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