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?