Are You Safe From Hackers?
We don’t use E-gold very often since most of our online business and customer sales are conducted through our online merchant account. However, we occasionally have someone who will request paying by E-gold so we keep an account there for this reason. Once a month or so we withdraw the funds and decided to do so yesterday. Imagine our dismay when we logged into our E-gold account yesterday and found our balance to be a big fat ZERO! We had checked the balance just a few days ago so we knew this was not correct. After investigating the history of the account, we found that a spend had been made to another e-gold account user WITHOUT our knowledge or authorization. We had been hacked!
Since we have up to date anti-virus and firewall software on our computer, we assumed we were safe. Not so! It seems this is not enough to keep away the hackers as the software does not prevent “Spyware” from being installed on your computer.
Spyware gets on your computer in one of several different ways.
First, it rides along with software you download from the ‘Net and install on your system.
Second, they come as email attachments (much like viruses) and automatically install themselves on your computer when you open the email message.
Third, hackers find an open port on your computer and use the “back door” to install basically anything they want.
And fourth, the more malicious types, like keystroke loggers, can even get installed by someone with direct physical access to your computer such as an employer, suspicious spouse, business competitor, or someone who wants to know exactly what you’re doing.
So how do you protect yourself against these malicious hackers? You need a program that specifically scans your system for the tens-of-thousands of existing spyware programs along with the new ones appearing daily.
Below are two programs which specifically check for and remove spyware from your system:
You may have spyware lurking on your computer right now so protect yourself today by downloading one of the above programs!
As a point of reference, we contacted E-gold and informed them that we had been hacked. We provided them with the account number of the person who received the funds and asked for a contact e-mail address on the person. E-gold informed us that they could not provide that information without a “court order” and that basically there was no way of getting the money back!
Take action today to protect yourself from this growing threat! The bottom line is: – Keep your anti-virus program current
– Install a firewall
– Carefully screen software before installing it
– Scan specifically for spyware weekly
– Stay current on this growing threat.
My PC Has Adware, What Should I Do?
gotta tell ya, when I first got my computer when it was brand new, it worked like a charm! Then as I got a little bit more familiar with it, friends and family suggested I try some online applications. One was this cute purple ape that would help you surf the net.. or so I thought.
Turns out that damn application, along with a few others I installed, what were supposed to help increase my productivity, ended up doing exactly the opposite!
Sound familiar to you? Well, if so, then your not alone. Millions of computer users around the world have their PC’s infected with adware, and don’t even know it. What’s adware you say? Well, its any application that records what you do (or do not do) and reports that data back to third party vendors.
Now I know this sounds like covert ops stuff, but its really big business. See, the truth of the matter is these advertisers make a lot of money off of knowing your computer habits. Things like, where you go, what you do, how long your there, where you clicked, etc. Its kind of scary when you think about it.
They come up with the applications that are usually disguised as innocent toolbars or programs that will show you the weather, etc. Once you install these things, they leach and lurk throughout your machine, slowing it down to no end.
They don’t care that you may have work to do, a report for school, or if your playing a game. Their job is to report back to their vendors what your doing, and how you do it. This way, these advertisers can come up with better targeted ads that will be used to get you to click on this link, or buy this product.
There is hope though, and it can return your computer back to you, the rightful owner. You can download to your PC some adware removal tools that will take out all of the know adware off your machine, and in the process, speed it up too.
It’s usually a quick download and install, and the applications are easy to use. Usually you let it scan your machine for a list of known offenders, and it does the rest, scouring your machine looking for them. When it does find any, it makes a list of what adware you have, what it does, and flags it for removal.
All you need to do then is say yes, and it takes them out fast. Then you just reboot your machine, and waalaa! Fast and fun computing just like your used to.
So there is light at the end of the tunnel for your PC. Now you know, so go get your PC scanned and cleaned today.
Good Computer Maintenance –
Normally we think of maintenance as a chore, something we have to do to keep things running smoothly and prevent problems down the road, whether with our car, house, or computer. But with a PC, maintenance can actually be fun … approached from the right perspective.
The “joy” of computer maintenacne takes many forms. These days, automation is the byword. Operating systems such as Microsoft Windows and Symantec’s Norton Interenet Security let you automatically keep crucial parts of your computer system up to date. It’s fun to watch the technology keep tabs on itself.
The security vulnerablilites of Windows are legion, and this forces you to download patches and updates if you want to minimuze your exposure to hackers seeking to break into your system over the Internet.
You can run Windows Update periodically through Microsoft Internet Explorer, which automatically detects which versions of Windows components you currently have installed and, by checking with Microsoft’s site, which have newer versions.
Or, if you are running Windows XP Home Edition, you can automate things even further by directing Windows to check for “critical updates” by itself at the frequency and time of your choosing. From the Control Panel, go to System and click Automatic Updates to specify your settings.
You can keep your other software up to date by periodically checking the Websites of the respective manufacturers. Typically, by pulling down the program’s Help menu, you will quickly be directed to the site. But the Website VersionTracker (www.techtracker.com/products) does something similar with multiple programs, for free, whether you have a Windows PC or a Mac. The ad-supported site has 30,000 programs in its database. Pay versions, starting at $24.95, automatically alert you when new updates of programs that you’re using become available.
Staying up to date is crucially important these days in keeping the bad guys away from your computer and those using it. A good utility suite for this is Norton Internet Security (www.symantec.com), which combines such crucial tools as a firewall, anti-virus program, porn-blocker, spam filter, spyware detector, and pop-up ad blocker. If you use the program, make sure you let its LiveUpdate feature automatically keep your virus definitions and other components up to date.
Symantec’s other utility suite, Norton SystemWorks, is less useful, and if you need system tools more powerful than those provided by Windows itself, a better package overall is V Communications’ SystemSuite (www.v-com.com).
SystemSuite includes tools for preventing and recovering from hard disk crashes, recovering accidentally erased files, completely uninstalling programs you no longer need, and completely shredding sesitive files. It also has an excellent file manager, PowerDesk, that makes quicker work of copying, moving, deleting, and otherwise manipulating files than Windows Explorer.
With today’s large and fast hard drives and more efficient operating systems, one maintenance task that’s no longer as necessary is disk defragmenting. When working with files over time, they invariably wind up stored in places at different locations on your hard disk. Running a defragmenter gathers up the pieces and places them together in one contiguous location.
Recent testing by the computer magazine PC World, however, showed that defragging no longer improves performance the way it used to. It still makes sense to defrag once in a while, though unless it’s for a network file server, there’s usually no need to buy a separate program for this beyond what comes with Windows itself.
So in all … even automated maintenance can be fun in that it is automated and can leave you more time for other endevours.
3 commen Problem In Email
As we continue to evolve into the world of e-mail that is part of our everyday life, sometimes little problems arise that bother the user. Previously we talked about returned messages and lost connections, both which can be aggravating, and supplied solutions. But there are a few more problems that can affect an e-mail user causing frustration and we will address these here, and again provide reasonable solutions to over come them.
Problem 1 You Cannot Send a Message
Even when there is not a connection problem, you may attempt to send email, but find that it continues to remain in your outbox.
Typically this is a software problem, the result of otherwise unapparent damage or corruption to one or more e-mail messages. To address this problem, first copy any unsent messages as text. Then save them on the computer’s hard drive or a back-up storage medium. After all messages have been saved, highlight all the messages in your outbox and click on â€œdeleteâ€ or â€œclearâ€. When clearing your outbox, start over. Just copy unsent messages from the text files, pass them into new e-mail messages and resend.
Problem 2 The E-mail is Missing an Attachment or the Attachment Won’t Open
An especially handy feature of e-mail is the ability to send and receive attachments. Transmitting documents, photos or other such information can save time and money compared to the U.S. Mail or express delivery services. At the same time, attachments can be real headaches. A common frustration is to receive an e-mail message that refers to an attachment, but then find nothing is there.
Often the best solution is to request that the sender try once again, since it is not unusual for the writer to refer to an attachment, but then forget to attach it. Even if this is not the case, your request might prompt the sender to re-think the attachment’s format before transmitting again. If the problem continues, consider asking the sender to paste the contents inside an e-mail message and try again. This may disrupt formatting, but can be an effective way to circumvent attachment problems.
If you see a message that the attachment has been deleted, it may be that your anti-virus software has detected a virus, and you’re better off without it anyway. But if you find that all attachments are indiscriminately being deleted, check your mail properties. If a box is checked that blocks all attachments, remove the check mark so that you can receive attachments. If you then receive a message from an unknown person, or if the message or attachment seems suspicious, delete the message without opening the attachment.
A related problem is to see that an attachment has been transmitted, but find that you are unable to open it. The causes (and thus the solutions) vary. In some cases, the problem is that the software used by the sender does not match that of the recipient. As with a missing attachment, a simple fix is to ask the sender to copy and paste the contents of the attachment within a follow up mail message. Even if formatting is disrupted, you can still get the gist of the information. You can also use your own copying and pasting process to reformat the contents, if that is important.
Another strategy is to save the document to your hard drive, and then open the software program that was used initially to create it. Once this program is in use, your computer may be able to recognize what had been the attachment, and open it. If you do not have the appropriate software loaded on your computer, you may be able to download it from the Internet; just follow the on screen prompts to proceed.
Problem 3 â€“ You Have too Much Incoming Mail or Cannot Download What You Have
If you are receiving large volumes of e-mail, you may be vulnerable to several difficulties.
Many Internet service providers place limits on the amount of storage provided to each user (although some have recently increased storage limits). If a pre-set limit is reached (perhaps because you’ve gone too long without downloading your e-mail, or have been inundated by SPAM or virus induced flood of messages), additional messages will be bounced back to those who sent them.
Of course the direct approach is to download your mail and then weed it out, but a smarter move may be to access your e-mail account via Web mail. That way you can see a listing of all messages and quickly delete any that do not appear to be of interest. The end result is the same, but this step can save a great deal of downloading time if you’re using a dial up modem. It also adds an extra measure of virus protection even if you have a broadband connection. Since you’re deleting messages from your ISP’s server before they ever have a chance to infect your computer, it’s like killing mosquitoes before they bite you â€“ instead of afterwards.
If you do not have a Web mail account, it’s easy to get one. Simply go to a provider such as Yahoo (www.yahoo.com) or Lycos (www.lycos.com) and register. You can also use a site such as mail2web (www.mail2web.com) or webmail4free.com without even registering. Go to the site and enter you e-mail address and password. You will see a listing of all incoming mail, which you can read and then retain for downloading, or delete, as you choose.
A similar challenge may be caused by unusually large message. Again, this problem is more common with dial-up modems, where hefty messages may take an annoyingly long time to download. In the worst cases, you may find yourself unable to receive other messages, because the connection with the server where your messages are stored is severed when a time limit has been reached.
Use of Web mail can also do the trick here. Just log on to the third-party site, peruse the list of messages in your inbox, and choose the one that is the largest (most Web mail programs automatically list the size of each message). If the message seems of potential interest, open and read it, and then delete it. Or if it is obviously spam or something in which you have no interest, you can delete the message without even bothering to read it. Once you have removed the offending message, your other incoming mail will no longer be blocked.
If you do not have Web mail, an option is to contact your Internet Service Provider and ask for help. Once a customer service representative deletes the offending message from the ISP’s server, you can then download all remaining messages.
Also keep in mind that retaining too much e-mail can be an organizational problem, if not a technical one. Take time to delete e-mail that does not need to be saved for future reference. Allowing too many messages to accumulate wastes storage space and makes it more difficult to find important messages when you need to refer to them. For messages that merit retention, create a series of folders so that they can be readily located, and so that your inbox will not become too full.
Strategies for Maximizing the Life of Your Hard Drive
If I asked you the question: which part of your computer is the most fragile, what would you say? What if I asked: which part is most important to you?
Often, the answer to both of these questions is your Hard Drive.
Your hard drive is likely one the most important things you own. It contains work data, school data, emails, photos, music, movies, tax information, etc… Incidentally, the hard drive is also one of only two moving components in your computer (the other being your optical drive). The following is a list of important maintenance and monitoring techniques you can use to maximize the life of your hard drive and prevent data loss.
Hard drives are physically fragile – handle with care
Statistics show that 25% of lost data is due to a failure of a portable drive. (Source: 2001 Cost of Downtime Survey Results)
Contrary to its seemingly rugged appearance, your hard disk is a very delicate device that writes and reads data using microscopic magnetic particles. Any vibration, shock, and other careless operation may damage your drive and cause or contribute to the possibility of a failure. This is especially relevant for notebook users, as they are most at risk of drive failure due to physical damage, theft, and other causes beyond their control. That’s why we recommend regular backup of notebook hard drives, as often as possible.
Possible solutions include external USB or Firewire drives (although these are prone to the same risks), desktop synchronization, or backup at a data center through the web.
Hard drives write data in a non-linear way forcing it to become fragmented.
When files accumulate on your hard drive, they do not just get written in a linear fashion. A hard drive writes files in small pieces and scatters them over the surface. The fuller your hard drive becomes and the more files you save and delete the worse file fragmentation can be. Hard drive access times increase with fragmentation since your drive must work harder to find all the pieces of the files. The more fragmented your data is, the harder the actuator arm has to work to find each piece of a file.
A case in point: Disk fragmentation is a common problem for users of Outlook Express and database software. Each time outlook saves new mail, it does so in a different physical location from the previous time. This results in extreme fragmentation, causing longer hard drive access times and forcing more strain on the heads. This strain can eventually lead to a head crash, and often that means a virtually unrecoverable drive.Finally, in the event of a total crash, a fragmented drive is much more difficult to recover then a healthy defragged drive.
Luckily, Windows makes it remarkably easy to defrag your hard drive, simply launch the Disk Defragmenter utility (Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools), choose which disk or partition you’d like to defragment and set it to work overnight or while you are not actively using your computer. Defragmentation will speed up your computer and ensure a longer life for your hard drive.
A very small power surge can fry a hard drive – use a UPS and turn off your computer when you can
Another little-known fact about the fragility of your hard drive is its susceptibility to electrical failure. An electrical failure can be caused by a power surge, lightening strikes, power brown-outs, incorrect wiring, a faulty or old power supply, and many other factors. If a power surge enters your computer, it may do an unpredictable amount of damage, including destroying your hard drive’s electronics or crashing the heads and possibly resulting in total data loss.
The best way to protect your computer from such dangers is to use a highly rated protected power bar or an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS). Although these devices won’t eliminate the chances of a crash, they will serve as effective protection in most cases. Also, you can minimize the danger of an electrical problem and reduce wear of your hard drive by turning off your computer or using power-save modes whenever possible. It’s a known fact that 100% of drives fail, the question is when will it happen and will you be prepared? Make sure to check out the knowledgebase section of our website for more detailed information on how electrical power affects your computer.
Be SMART, monitor the health of your drive to prevent unexpected crashes
All modern hard drives have a self-monitoring technology called SMART (Self Monitoring Analysis & Reporting Technology). What most people don’t realize is that the majority of hard drive failures do not have to be unexpected. Most failures occur as a result of long-term problems which can be predicted. By regularly monitoring disk health and performance, you can know about potential hard drive problems before you lose any of your data.
Several excellent utilities are available, including DiskView and Stellar SMART for standard IDE and SATA desktop drives. Also available are tools that monitor the health of SCSI drives and full RAID Array systems. Ariolic Software offers a great utility called ActiveSMART.
The only fool-proof way to prevent data loss is… Backup!
If you only take one of the suggestions here to heart, let it be this one: always back up your important data. After all the monitoring and all the prevention measures are in place, one fact still remains: all hard drives fail. Backing up regularly will ensure that you’re never caught without your critical data. For individuals, the simplest solutions include external portable hard drives, dvd’s, and online storage. For businesses, we recommend renting space at a secure data centre and implementing a disaster recovery plan, regardless of the size of your business.
I hope that the above techniques give you some idea of the importance of hard drive maintenance and provide some insights in how you can protect yourself from data loss.