CryptoLocker, Takes your Files Hostage and Holds them for Ransom!!!

Crypto malwareRansomware is a type of malware that tries to extort money from you. CryptoLocker forcing you to pay hundreds of dollars to regain access to them. Malware is no longer created by teenagers, current malware is now produced by organized crime.

Ransomware may be more up-front, hook deep into your system. This malware could be bypassed, malware removal tools or just by reinstalling Windows.

Unfortunately, Ransomware is becoming more and more sophisticated. This is the latest examples, CryptoLocker, starts encrypting your personal files as soon as it gains access to your system, preventing access to the files without knowing the encryption key. CryptoLocker then displays a message informing you that your files have been locked with encryption and that you have just a few days to pay up. If you pay them $300, they’ll hand you the encryption key and you can recover your files. You can never be sure that the criminals will keep their end of the deal.

This type of malware is another good example of why backups are essential. You should regularly back up files to an external hard drive or a remote file storage server. If all your copies of your files are on your computer, malware that infects your computer could encrypt them all and restrict access or even delete them entirely.

How do you become infected with CryptoLocker

This infection is typically spread through emails sent to company email addresses that pretend to be customer support related issues from Fedex, UPS, DHS, etc. These emails would contain a zip attachment that when opened would infect the computer. These zip files contain executables that are disguised as PDF files as they have a PDF icon and are typically named something like FORM_101513.exe or FORM_101513.pdf.exe. Since Microsoft does not show extensions by default, they look like normal PDF files and people open them.

Avoid Ransomware

• Use a good antivirus product that will attempt to stop ransomware in its tracks. Antivirus programs are never perfect and you could be infected even if you run one, but it’s an important layer of defense.

• Avoid running suspicious files. Ransomware can arrive in .exe files attached to emails, from illicit websites containing pirated software, or anywhere else that malware comes from. Be alert and exercise caution over the files you download and run.

• Keep your software updated. Using an old version of your web browser, operating system, or a browser plugin can allow malware in through open security holes. If you have Java installed, you should probably uninstall it.

CryptoLocker is brutally efficient and smart. It just wants to get down to business and take your money. Holding your files hostage is an effective way to prevent removal by antivirus programs after it’s taken root, but CryptoLocker is much less scary if you have good backups.

 BACKUP, BACKUP, BACKUP, BACKUP!!!

Windows 8.1 is Finally Here! And is Worth the Wait

windows_8.1Two days ago I started to download Windows 8.1 version of the operating system.

I have a surface Pro with Windows 8, and also a virtual copy of Windows 8 in virtual box.

Thursday afternoon I started the upgrade to 8.1 in virtualbox and ran into a little problem the windows store said my CPU was not compatible. I then began to search the problem upgrading Windows 8.1 and virtualbox and found out I just had to change the operating system version in virtualbox setting  to 8.1, went back to the window store and I was able to upgrade without any problems after that.

Friday morning I started on the surface Pro 8.1 upgrade, went to the window store and started to download, a short time later 8.1 was installed without any problems.

There was only two programs that I had a reinstall was avast free and sandboxie, and just minor Metro tile fixing I had to do.

But overall the upgrade was a success for me.

Some Things Technology Killed Off Good or Bad for US?

gravestoneToday, we carry smart phones, we no longer need public phones. Encyclopedia salesman was a big thing years ago, but today we have computers, smart phones and tablets to get all the information we need. CD’s and cassettes was big just a few years ago, but now theirs steaming music to there computers, smart phones and tablets. We no longer need to visit the bank to find out how much money we have. Technology does it all for us.

List what Technology Killed Off

01 – Public Phones
02 – CD’s and Cassettes
03 – The Rolodex
04 – Encyclopedias
05 – Classified ads in Newspapers
06 – Disposable Cameras
07 – Yard Sales
08 – Lining up to Pay Bills
09 – Planning Road Trips on Paper Maps
10 – Physical copies of the Yellow Pages
11 – Answering Machines
12 – Faxes
13 – Film Processing
14 – Buying or Reading Newspapers or Books
15 – PDAs

Is technology helping us or hurting us?

 

 

Microsoft Security Essentials has fallen and can’t get up! Is FREE third-party antivirus the way to go?

MSEMicrosoft’s official website still bills Microsoft Security Essentials as offering “comprehensive malware protection” without any hint that they no longer recommend using it.

Microsoft Security Essentials was once on top of the rankings. In 2009, AV-Comparatives.org gave it a very high score and said it was the best-performing free antivirus. It received very good malware detection scores, was extremely speedy, and was free. It wouldn’t hassle you and try to upsell you to paid antivirus solutions, like AVG and avast!. Microsoft Security Essentials was a breath of fresh air — both in its interface and its speedy performance. Its test results showed it was ahead of the pack, so it was best antivirus at the time.

We’ve been recommending Microsoft Security Essentials as the free antivirus to use for years because of this. It’s included by default on Windows 8 and named “Windows Defender.” This is one of the big security improvements in Windows 8 — you have an antivirus included so every Windows user has protection. It would be nice if Windows users finally didn’t have to seek out a third-party antivirus.

The below chart shows Microsoft Security Essentials at the bottom of AV-TEST’s charts for July and August 2013. When it comes to malware protection, it tested below every other antivirus program tested.

Baseline

 

 

 

 

 

The Microsoft Security Essentials website promises “comprehensive malware protection” and “award-winning protection,” so users would be forgiven for believing that Microsoft was committed to making Microsoft Security Essentials a capable antivirus solution. But Microsoft is now saying that Microsoft Security Essentials is only basic protection that users shouldn’t rely on.

Holly Stewart, the senior program manager of the Microsoft Malware Protection Center, said that Microsoft Security Essentials was just a “baseline” that’s designed to “always be on the bottom” of antivirus tests. She said Microsoft sees Microsoft Security Essentials as a first layer of protection and advises Windows users to use a third-party antivirus instead.

Nevertheless, she argues that “baseline does not equal bad” and says they provide a high-quality antivirus. But Microsoft themselves are recommending users not use Microsoft Security Essentials, so it’s hard to take that seriously. This isn’t a product average people should use — it’s better than no antivirus, but not something we should recommend. Microsoft is doing a disservice to its users by telling antivirus testing companies that they don’t recommend Microsoft Security Essentials for average users and telling average users that Microsoft Security Essentials provides them with “comprehensive malware protection” on their website. Microsoft needs to pick one message and stick to it.

If you’re a geek like me, Microsoft Security Essentials and Windows Defender are very usable, you probably shouldn’t recommend Microsoft Security Essentials to your friends or install it on your parents’ computer. Yes, it’s a shame — Microsoft Security Essentials lightweight and hassle-free nature make for a great interface and a faster computer. But the core of an antivirus is the detection engine, and Microsoft appears to be throwing in the towel here.

So What Should You Use? Avast and AVG free has done well in tests, offering comprehensive and free antivirus protection. Unfortunately, it’s heavier than  Microsoft Security Essentials , its interface is more overbearing, and it tries to upsell you to a paid product you don’t really need. But that’s the price we pay for solid antivirus protection.

Is Microsoft Security Essentials good enough or Avast free , AVG free  or any other free third party is what you need?

Microsoft Surface Pro 2, Surface 2 Pricing / Launch Event Info

Pricing

September 23 2013, in New York City Microsoft announced the second generation versions of their Surface hardware. Microsoft opted to cut their Surface RT down from $499 to $349 because inventory was not moving well and they also introduced a permanent price drop of $100 on Surface Pro models.

Listed below you will find the full Estimated Retail Pricing (ERP) for all of the new hardware and accessories.

Surface Pro 2 (all devices come with a Surface Pen)
◾ 4GB RAM/64GB storage – $899
◾ 4GB RAM/128GB storage – $999
◾ 8GB RAM/256GB storage – $1,299
◾ 8GB RAM/512GB storage – $1,799

Surface 2
◾ 2GB RAM/32GB storage – $449
◾ 2GB RAM/64GB storage – $549

Accessories
◾ Touch Cover 2 – $119.99
◾ Type Cover 2 – $129.99
◾ Power Cover – $199.99
◾ Arc Touch Mouse (Surface Edition) – $69.99
◾ Docking Station for Surface Pro – $199.99
◾ Wireless Adapter for Typing Covers – $59.99
◾ Car Charger with USB – $49.99

Launch Event Info

September 23 2013, Microsoft had the formal launch announcement for their second generation Surface hardware. Here is info.

Surface Pro 2
◾ 46% more color accuracy to the Surface Pro 2 ClearType HD display.
◾ Boosted speakers and added Dolby to Surface 2.
◾ Surface Pro 2 is faster than 95% of laptops on the market today.
◾ Graphics performance on Surface Pro 2 increased by 50%.
◾ Overall performance on Surface Pro 2 bumped up by 20%.
◾ Windows logo is gone from the back of the Surface Pro 2 – simply labeled Surface.
◾ Angle of Surface Pro 2 kickstand increased to better accommodate use on your lap.
◾ Surface Pro 2 battery life increased by 75% (approx 7 hours).
◾ Haswell processor in Surface Pro 2 which operates cooler and quieter.
◾ Surface Pro will start at $899.
◾ Four configurations: 4GB RAM/64GB storage; 4GB RAM/128GB storage; 8GB
RAM/256GB storage and 8GB RAM/512GB storage

Surface 2 (formerly known as Surface RT)
◾ Labels this as an introduction as if it is a new device vice an upgrade of the Surface RT.
Calls it a product revamp.
◾ Surface 2 is now available in a silver color. Word is that this will be the only color option
for Surface 2.
◾ Increased CPU speed; runs 3-4 times faster than Surface RT; has Tegra 4 CPU
improved bus, etc.
◾ Has USB 3.0 now.
◾ Added Surface logo to the device kickstand.
◾ Full 1080p ClearType display.
◾ 25% more battery life.
◾ Uses same injection molding process as Surface RT did but is thinner and lighter.
◾ Launches with Windows 8.1 as the OS.
◾ Last year launched with 10,000 apps; this year over 100,000 apps in Windows Store.
◾ Comes with Office just like Surface RT except Windows 8.1 adds Outlook to the suite.
◾ Surface 2 also has the two position kickstand like Surface Pro 2.
◾ Surface 2 docked can handle powering a 3840 x 2160 pixel display.
◾ Surface 2 will sell for $449.
◾ Two configurations with 32GB and 64Gb storage.

Both Devices and Accessories
◾“Best of Skype” for one year includes free international calling and free WiFi hotspots.
◾ 200GB of SkyDrive for two years.
◾ Type Cover 2 (new colors are purple and pink) and is 1MM thinner and lighter than
original Type Cover.
◾ Type Cover 2 is almost as thin as original Touch Cover and is backlit.
◾ Type Cover 2 comes out “next year” according to Panos Panay.
◾ Surface Power Cover adds 30w battery to device which adds 2.5 times battery life to
Surface Pro 2.
◾ Surface Docking station provides 3 x USB 2.0; 1 USB 3.0; Mini DisplayPort; Ethernet;
Audio In/Out and power. Available in “early” 2014.
◾ Touch Cover 2 is also backlit and now has 1092 sensors compared to just 80 in the
original Touch Cover.
◾ Touch Cover 2 is also thinner and lighter than the first version.
◾ Type Cover 2 and Touch Cover 2 work on all Surface products.
◾ Surface Remix Project is available on 22 October 2013. It is a special edition cover that
lets you remix your favorite music and share it and is in conjunction with Xbox Music.
See http://surfaceremixproject.com/ for more info.
◾ Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 will be available on 22 October 2013 – just four days after
GA of Windows 8.1.

Pirated Software, Do Not Download

software_pirateIf you walked into a retail store and picked up software and put it in your pocket, it would be call stealing. But when you download software for free off the Internet, you forget that it is still stealing. Unfortunately there a big different between stealing from a store or downloading the digital version of the same product on your computer, it is still stealing.

To get legitimate software to work without paying for it and having a proper license key, hackers manipulate the software internally. Sometimes you can’t notice a hidden file or spyware program that has been planted within the software to watch your key strokes.

So even if the software works, it will be affecting your computer in some way or another. We have to consider the fact that there might be something contained in this software, maybe a virus.

Your identity can be stolen which is worth far more than free software downloaded. Hackers can sign up for credit cards and spend money like it’s going out of fashion, and all in your name.

When that happens you will never think about downloading pirated software again.

Trade in your iPad

iPad trade Surface

 

Trade in your iPad, Get a min. $200 gift card
Use towards the purchase of a Surface or other cool products at the Microsoft store.

What a deal

How to redeem this offer

  • Bring in your gently used iPad 2, 3, or 4 and get a minimum of a $200 gift card to the Microsoft store.
  • Looking to upgrade your tablet? Check out the Surface RT or Surface Pro.
    • Surface RT
      The revolutionary new tablet built by Microsoft comes pre-installed with touch-enabled versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.
      Starting at $349
    • Surface Pro
      The laptop in tablet form, built by Microsoft, runs your favorite Windows desktop programs and includes a one month free trial of Office 365.
      Starting at $799
  • See store associate for more detail.

Expires October 27, 2013

Windows XP Reminder

XP logoEnd of Support 212 days

Time to be thinking about upgrading or buying a new Windows 8 desktop, laptop or Surface pro 2 or Surface RT 2 will be running Intel’s latest line of chips a Haswell-based Core i5 and ram choices are 4GB or 8GB.

Steve Ballmer, Good Bye Microsoft in 2014

Steve Ballmer has announced he will be stepping down from CEO position at Microsoft within the next twelve (12) months. This transition, appointing a successor and so forth, will occur within this window.

Text of an internal email from Microsoft chief executive officer Steve Ballmer to employees regarding his plan to retire.

Steve Ballmer3I am writing to let you know that I will retire as CEO of Microsoft within the next 12 months, after a successor is chosen. There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time. My original thoughts on timing would have had my retirement happen in the middle of our transformation to a devices and services company focused on empowering customers in the activities they value most. We need a CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction. You can read the press release on Microsoft News Center.

This is a time of important transformation for Microsoft. Our new Senior Leadership team is amazing. The strategy we have generated is first class. Our new organization, which is centered on functions and engineering areas, is right for the opportunities and challenges ahead.

Microsoft is an amazing place. I love this company. I love the way we helped invent and popularize computing and the PC. I love the bigness and boldness of our bets. I love our people and their talent and our willingness to accept and embrace their range of capabilities, including their quirks. I love the way we embrace and work with other companies to change the world and succeed together. I love the breadth and diversity of our customers, from consumer to enterprise, across industries, countries, and people of all backgrounds and age groups.

I am proud of what we have achieved. We have grown from $7.5 million to nearly $78 billion since I joined Microsoft, and we have grown from employing just over 30 people to almost 100,000. I feel good about playing a role in that success and having committed 100 percent emotionally all the way. We have more than 1 billion users and earn a great profit for our shareholders. We have delivered more profit and cash return to shareholders than virtually any other company in history.

I am excited by our mission of empowering the world and believe in our future success. I cherish my Microsoft ownership, and look forward to continuing as one of Microsoft’s largest owners.

This is an emotional and difficult thing for me to do. I take this step in the best interests of the company I love; it is the thing outside of my family and closest friends that matters to me most.

Microsoft has all its best days ahead. Know you are part of the best team in the industry and have the right technology assets. We cannot and will not miss a beat in these transitions. I am focused and driving hard and know I can count on all of you to do the same. Let’s do ourselves proud.

Steve

Steve Ballmer’s Biggest Regret is Windows Vista, not Surface RT.

 

Windows XP Uses You’ve Been Warned!!!

Crosshair XP

For the next eight months Microsoft will be warning Windows XP users to switch your operating system now! Because the lifecycle of Windows XP will only go up to April 8, 2014, that will include both security and non-security hot fixes, free or paid support options an online technical content updates. There are still many Windows XP uses that still won’t change the operating system by April 8, 2014, they rather wait till Windows XP no longer works. Microsoft officials have said to have no plans to extend yet another cutoff date for XP. Windows XP has 37% of computer users out there.

What is the risk of still using Windows XP after the cutoff date? Because now the attackers will have plenty of time to reverse engineer security updates. Once they have identified the vulnerability they will attempt to develop code that will exploit it on XP systems. From now on Windows XP will be vulnerability forever “zero day” There is antivirus software out there to help protect and fix infected computers. The challenge is now you will never know with confidence; you can trust your computer with Windows XP on it without any more monthly updates. As a result, the security features that are built into Windows XP are no longer sufficient to defend against modern threats.

So is time now to either update the operating system or invest in a new Windows 8 computer, is up to you?