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Friday, March 18, 2016

Malwarebytes Coming Out with Anti-ransomware Software

Posted by David Bernstein

If you don’t know what ransomeware is, then hopefully you will never find out. If you know what ransomeware is first hand because you have experienced it yourself then you realize how awful an experience it can be when it makes its way to your computer.

What ransomeware does is infect your computer and encrypt all of your files essentially holding them hostage so you don’t have any access to them. In order to get your access back you need to pay a “ransom” to the people who encrypted your files. These people are most likely overseas where you don’t have any legal means to get your files back. Once you pay the ransom which can be hundreds of dollars or more you will then get a key to unlock your files. Then again sometimes you will pay and never get a key and be out of luck.

Malwarebytes who are known for their effective anti-malware software are developing new anti-ransomware software which is now in beta testing. They bought EasySync Solutions which was the creator of CryptoMonitor and hired its developer to help create their new software called Malwarebytes Anti-Ransomware. The software uses proactive technology that monitors what ransomware is doing and stops it before it gets to your files.

If you want to be a beta tester you can go to their site and download the software and run it on your computer. They recommend that you don’t do it in a production environment but rather on a test computer that you don’t have anything important on. As of now it’s kind of buggy but hopefully when it’s done it will be an effective anti-ransomware solution… and also free!

You can try it out for yourself here.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Windows 10 is collecting your data whether you like it or not

Posted by David Bernstein
With everything being “connected” these days we all expect there to be some loss of privacy when we are online with our computers, smartphones and tablets. But for the most part we assume control over what our devices are sending to who…or at least some control.

With the new Windows 10 out in full force Microsoft is pushing hard to get it on as many devices as possible as you may have noticed from the constant upgrade popups on your Windows 7 or Windows 8 computer. But with the new operating system comes some new privacy concerns it seems. If you do a clean installation yourself you will notice that there are many privacy settings you can turn off or on to help keep your data to yourself. There are settings for location data, contact information, error reporting and so on. If you turn all these off you would think that your information is not going anywhere. Apparently that is not the case.

Even with all the privacy setting in place it seems that Windows 10 is talking to Microsoft servers and sending them information thousands of times per day. Even when using a third party tool called DisableWinTracking Microsoft was still able to “phone home”. So you may be thinking that you didn’t sign up for this but apparently you did. The Microsoft end user license agreement (EULA) you sign to when you install Windows 10 states they have the right to collect user data from your computer and we all know that nobody reads those to begin with. But this doesn’t mean that Microsoft should have the right to track our computer usage especially after saying they aren’t.

Microsoft claims the tracking is to gather data on how Windows is running and to report on things such as performance and system crashes. But only they know the whole story of exactly what kind of data they are collecting and for what purpose.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Microsoft downloading Windows 10 setup files to computers

 Posted by David Bernstein

Most of you who use Windows know what Automatic Updates are and how they work. If you don’t then it’s a process where Microsoft will download security and other updates to your computer and install them as needed. Of course there are settings where you can choose to just have the files downloaded and you can install them when you are ready or you can simply be notified of new updates and then download and install them when you want to.

If you are running Windows 7 or 8 you are eligible for the free Windows 10 upgrade which will be installed via Windows Update. When your computer is ready for its turn you will see a Windows icon in your system tray by your clock telling you that you can reserve your free copy of Windows 10 and then eventually you will be able to do the upgrade. Now this is fine and dandy if you want to actually upgrade but what if you don’t?

It turns out Microsoft is automatically downloading the installation file to end users computers to stage the upgrade so the files won’t have to be downloaded at the time of installation. The problem is many users don’t want to do the upgrade now if ever and are getting these large files (3GB to 6GB) dumped on to their hard drives without them knowing which can be filling up valuable storage space. Plus if you have an internet plan that allows only a certain amount of data to be downloaded (who still has that?) then you might be at risk of going over your limit and incurring some extra charges on your next bill.

There is a way to remove these files and that’s by finding the hidden folder called $Windows.~BT in the root of your C drive. But the problem is that it will keep coming back when it checks for updates. In that case you will need to uninstall Windows update KB3035583 from Programs and Features. Keep in mind if you decide to upgrade you may need this update back.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Windows 10 to be the last version of Windows

Posted by David Bernstein

As we are sure you know there have been various versions of Windows each with their own unique name. Many of them coincide with the year they came out such as Windows 98 or in the case of Windows 8 it’s the next number after Windows 7. Next up for Microsoft will be Windows 10 which sort of combines the friendly interface of Windows 7 with the new features of Windows 8. And if you already have Windows 7 or Windows 8 then it will be a free upgrade for you as well.

Now Jerry Nixon from Microsoft is saying that Windows 10 will be the last version of the desktop operating system. This doesn’t mean that Windows will be going away any time soon but rather they will keep adding on or upgrading Windows 10 on an ongoing basis rather than coming out with a new version every few years. So if you were planning on waiting for Windows 11 before you upgraded then don’t hold your breath.

Part of the reason for doing this is because in the past Microsoft developers would sit down and start on a new operating system and then 3 years later it would be released. The main problem with this is that it would already be 3 years old and not include all the features and functionality that users would be expecting and already have on their other devices. So if this happens Microsoft will have to stay on top of things and keep adding features as the need arises in addition to the usual Windows updates that occur on a regular basis.