Feb 26, 2014

Feb - 15 2014 | By

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For those who missed my tweet, the notes for the 2-12-14 show have been posted.

 

Both Paul & Glenn were in the studio.

 

Much of the show dealt with computer security. Paul started by asking how do you know if you're being watched on your computer. How do you know if your computer has something malicious happening or if your internet connection is being monitored. Like any kind of knowledge, you can never be 100% certain

Even if you're 99.9% secure, that's not enough. That .1% can be all it takes to be compromised. Only a tiny portion of what you do with your computer over the internet is useful to the bad guys — passwords and credit card numbers, for example, That's all it takes for the them to wreak havoc. The only sure way to protect against computer fraud is to not have a computer at all.

The 2nd best protection is not to be on the internet. But even if you don't use the internet, someone can steal the computer and still get the info. The FBI reports that most security breaches are a result of theft of computers and flash drives. Even if you have your computer protected by a password, it doesn't take long to crack when someone has physical possession of the computer.

Paul suggested people take pictures of their monitor screens when they suspect something unusual is happening. He cited the case of Nvidia, the company that makes video chips for some Mac computers. Over the years they had a series of manufacturing defects. He said it's a good idea to document any symptoms of a malfunction before the warranty expires. This is especially useful it the symptoms are intermittent.

Glenn said no anti-virus software, no matter the brand, is foolproof. The anti-virus software is only as good as its last update.

Glenn said his email account at Yahoo was hacked even though he had a very strong password. He warned people to be suspicious of emails that only have a link to a website, even if the email is from someone you know.

Paul said that about 5 years ago someone one figured out that about 10% of the Yahoo accounts had been stolen by somebody who broke into the Yahoo servers and pulled off the password database. Since Glenn changed his password recently, Paul suspects that the database thieves are able to break in continually. Or more likely, Yahoo is vulnerable to what's called 'cross-site scripting'. This is where the frame that asks you to login to Yahoo doesn't originate with Yahoo <originates with the fraudsters>. Paul thinks that the best way to deal with such Yahoo problems is not to use Yahoo. Furthermore, when you leave an email service, don't just abandon the account, formally cancel the account so it won't be broken into and misused.

Paul went on to say that if someone breaks into your mail account, change the password and notify the people in your contacts list, telling them that the mail they've received from 'you' recently may be bogus.

Paul has heard objections to using the IMAP protocol because the technicians can read the email stored on the mailserver. In fact, email of any kind is one of the least secure forms of communication and can be intercepted and read at many points.

So, what do we recommend, Glenn asked. He said he uses Gmail and Paul said he does too. But Paul doesn't like the way Google Plus is going, His Youtube channel has been switched to Google Plus, which he doesn't like. He tried to switch it back but there was no provision to do so. Google bought Youtube a number of years ago and has spent all this time to merge it with their other services.

Glenn asked about other services Google has bought. Paul said they just bought Whatsapp <it was Facebook who bought them and Paul corrected himself later in the show>. Whatsapp is more popular in Europe because it sidesteps having to pay roaming text <txt > charges between countries.

Speaking of companies buying other companies, Glenn noted that Comcast has put together a merger plan with Time Warner. As he understands the deal, the two companies will dominate 50 of 53 major cable markets in the USA, if the deal goes thru.

The guys talked a bit about a decentralized power grid where multiple power providers sell their service over common power lines — in order to avoid duplicating the infrastructure. It works in Europe but is not so poplar in the USA. There can be pitfalls when you're asked to join other people in getting such a service. Paul added, if it doesn't make sense or can't be explained in terms that make sense. don't do it,

Paul said this applies if you're asked to install a program. If you didn't ask a program to install or something doesn't look right about it, don't do it.

Glenn said that sometimes you're not given a choice to stop a program that insists you continue — the close button doesn't work, for instance. Paul said Firefox used to be vulnerable to this — kiosk mode he called it. You'd go to a web page and find there was no obvious way to close it. He said the way to close it is to hit CNTRL + ALT + DEL (Option + Apple + Escape on the Mac). That will bring up the task manager where you can then highlight the browser you're running and 'End Task'. You can then restart the browser.

Paul encountered a person who said the mouse pointer on their Mac was moving by itself. The concern was that there was someone controlling the machine for nefarious purposes. But Paul thought that was not very likely because they would be drawing attention to themselves by the mouse movement. Data thieves tend to be more surreptitious — they siphon off data from your files. Glenn suggested that the lighting in a room could affect an optical mouse if the light hit it just right. Paul had a case where the cord to the mouse got too close to a power cable and the mouse pointer would jitter.

Bill called. He had installed Norton Internet Security 2014 on his Window XP computer with Service Pack 3. When Norton ran it detected that the file tcpip.sys had a virus. It quarantined the file without asking for permission. After restarting his computer, he no longer had internet capabilities. He tried to go back to a previous restore point. He tried the 'Remove From Quarantine' option. He tried reinstalling the network adapters. But he had no success.
– Call Norton. They should be responsible for a problem their software created. Bill said he did call them and spent about 12 hours and still had no solution.
– Bill read from his Window System Event Log <it keeps a record of recent events on your computer>. What it contained told Paul that the Norton program "has not been in conformance with the correct behavior of the operating system".
– When you start up Windows, hold down the F8 key and go back to a previous restore point. Bill already tried that.
– Norton did some work to improve the program in 2012 but apparently missed this problem, Paul said.
– Contact Norton again and tell them you want to speak to someone here in the USA.
– Bill said he googled the words: tcpip.sys norton false, and got 50 pages with reference to false detection. <Anti-virus programs sometimes show false positives on various files>.
– Find someone running Windows XP and get a copy of tcpip.sys and put it on your computer. But, Bill has already done a byte by byte comparison of the file with the one he has in his backup and they are the same. So then, Paul thought that it is the references (in the Registry) to that file that are flawed.
– Then Paul said that, when Bill installed Service Pack 3, "it reinstalled the whole networking stack". And he thought if Bill installed Service Pack 3 again, it might correct the networking problem.
– At this point, Bill still has access to the data on his drive, and Paul said make sure to backup all the important data files before proceeding.
– You may consider reinstalling Windows. And after you do, try Microsoft Security Essential. It's not very good and not very powerful, but it causes fewer problems. And it's free.

Paul noted that it's not a good idea to use 2 or 3 anti-virus programs at the same time. It slows the computer.

Paul said someone recently installed what looked like an upgrade to the Flash player and it caused mischief. The latest version of the Firefox browser has a method to disable suspect plugins like the Flash player. It will show a box where the video you were trying to play would normally be, and it would say something like: the player is out of date click here to update it. However, you shouldn't click to update. Instead do a google search for 'plugincheck'. This is a service provided by Mozilla (makers of Firefox) that checks the plugins for Firefox. It works with Internet Explorer too, but doesn't check the ActiveX plugins.

Paul said what he's said before about being contacted by a company that asks you to provide information or do some transaction that may have negative consequences. To avoid being scammed; get a known, good phone number for that company and call them to finish that bit of business.

The disclaimer:
The views and opinions expressed on this show, Zentech, are of the speakers only and not necessarily of the station, its board, management, staff or contributors.

Doug called. He's going to England in a couple of weeks. He has T-Mobile smartphone and wanted suggestions for doing international calling.
– Ask T-Mobile to unlock the phone, if you've had the phone long enough <it's out of contract>, so you can use other SIM cards. There are many cellular companies in England and you can get a SIM card for as little as about $16.
– Get Skype and use wireless network for calls to the USA for about $.01/min. You'll can even call landlines. And Skype can be used even if you don't have a SIM card installed.
– Paul advised pulling out the T-Mobile (or other USA carrier's) SIM card, in any case. That's to avoid any possibility of incurring roaming charges.
– With the new SIM card, you won't be able to receive calls to your T-Mobile phone number. Those calls will go to voice mail which you can check using Skype.

James called. He uses Thunderbird for his mail program. When he runs it he gets the warning: "Unsent messages. Do you want do you want to send your unsent messages now". He wants to review those messages before sending them.
– Look for the folder called 'outbox' on the left side of Thunderbird. Those messages are in there.

Last updated 9:27 PM 8/14/2014
(fixed link to txt )