Dec 23, 2015

Dec - 10 2015 | By

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Paul was in the studio. We didn’t hear from Glenn.


The hidden features inside of movies as well as software are called easter eggs. Paul mentioned as the site he uses to discover these easter eggs.

A particular type of ransomware virus called Cryptolocker has gotten Paul’s attention recently. This is a bit of software that gets on your computer and encrypts your valuable files, making them inaccessible to you. Then comes a demand for money, the ransom, in return for the key that unlocks the files.
– If you’re a victim, you’ll notice some of your filenames will have a different extension (e.g. familyphoto.jpg.XYZ). A plain text file will be placed in the same directory giving you instructions on how to regain control of those files.
– If you have backups of your files you should be ok except the ransomware will look everywhere including any backup drives you have connected to your computer. Keep your backup drives (like flash drives) separate and disconnected from your computer until you remove the ransomware virus.
– Don’t be hasty in removing the virus. You may be cutting yourself off from ever decrypting your files, even if you then pay the ransom.
– An FBI report notes that there is no known way of independently decrypting your locked files.
– The ransom demanded doesn’t involve a credit card and can’t be easily traced. The instruction will have you use a Tor browser and pay by bitcoin, an anonymous payment system.
<Here are a couple of articles to get you informed…
CryptoLocker ransomware – see how it works, learn about prevention, cleanup and recovery
CryptoLocker: A particularly pernicious virus>

What can you do to protect yourself against ransomware?…
– Anti-virus software is not perfect. It may catch about 95% of the malware. Don’t depend exclusively on an anti-virus.
– Be especially careful of email attachments. They can be an executable ZIP file, typically ending in .exe. Being a zip file makes it difficult for and anti-virus program to detect them
– Gmail typically catches these things. It looks inside of zip files and warns you.

The Flash media player and the Java plugin can let in ransomware, too.
– If you must use Flash, the Chrome browser does Flash rendering that is somewhat more secure. Most websites, like Youtube, are starting to use HTML5 to play video and don’t need Flash.
– Search using Google for Plugin Check, if you’re using Firefox. “That will tell you what to do. If you use Internet Explorer you can do Plugin Check and it will actually check that the thing is up to date”.
– Beware of popups telling you that your Flash player needs updating. The popup itself may lead you to installing a virus.

Scarewareis another type of fraud but don’t confuse it with ransomware. You may get a popup telling you that you have a virus or that you need to renew the license to your anti-virus software. And you’ll often see Better Business Bureau and FBI logos in the popup to gain your trust.

Another type of fraud affects Mac users more than others. It involves bogus domain names. It takes advantage of typos when entering a web address. Warning, just because Paul talked about this doesn’t mean you should do it. Don’t do this he said. Don’t go to <not .com>. If you do, you’ll get what looks like the Facebook website except your address bar will have a different web address, if you’re careful enough to notice. From there you can be asked for all kinds of personal information or induced to download malware.

Paul knows someone who was a target of a Craig’s List fraud. She was asked to make a payment up front for a Mac computer. Be careful of using an untraceable payment like Western Union. Such payments can be negotiated immediately, whereas a personal check can have a stop payment put on it.

Paul moved on to talk about shopping locally. If you go to you’ll get local search results. Google will figure out where you are and suggest things close to you. If your machine is set up not to reveal your location, you can type in your zipcode, or postal code in foreign countries. If you run a business and you’re not already in Google’s business database, you can register with them as a local business.

Paul mentioned the website If you subscribe to their newsletter, you’ll be informed of items being given away for free. Locally, there is a Freecycle group for Auburn & Grass Valley.

Christian called. He got a virus on his HP laptop and had trouble getting genuine HP tech support. Apparently seaching Google for tech help (and not just from HP) can lead to third party or even fraudulent websites. So he tried to fix it himself. He tried Fixme Stick, which seemed to help but his machine still wouldn’t run. He then tried to reset his computer to factory condition and got some warning about a [hard drive] partition.
– Christian has been backing up his important files, so trying to do a system restore was the proper thing to do, Paul said.
– Go directly to and look on that site for help or support. Get an 800 number that you can call and get a CD with the system restore files. You’ll be charged a nominal fee of about $10. You can then reload your operating system from the CD.
– There are 4 or 5 local computer shops in the Nevada City area to service the laptop. This is a good time to use and type in the words: computer repair
– Get Combofix to do a general cleanup. Be sure to get this program from
– Once you get your computer cleaned up, get the anti-virus program called Avast.
– You can switch to a different operating system. When we’re past the holidays, Paul will try to arrange a community service to put Linux on machines that are old or misbehaving <or still running XP>. If you’re interested send an email to with the word linux in the subject line.
– Paul said he’ll put information about dealing with viruses on the Zen Tech site.

Paul said he just got an iPhone 4s, an upgrade from 3gs he’d been using. He went on to say that when you get an iPhone from someone leaving their service and giving it to you, don’t lose track of that person. If their phone has “locate me”, you (or they) have to log with their Apple ID and disable “locate me”. And if it’s off its contract, get the former owner to communicate with AT&T to get the phone unlocked. It’s a free service.

Last Updated 12:24 AM 12-24-2015

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