Online Computer Tips Home
Home All Tips OCT Newsletter Free Tutorials Tech News Resources

Monday, February 23, 2015

Spyware found in new Lenovo PCs

Posted by David Bernstein


It seems that nowadays the biggest threat to your computer is from spyware that you can get from just about anywhere. Whether it’s from downloading some free software or even visiting certain websites its way to easy to get infected these days. When you buy a new computer you expect it to be perfectly clean and free of spyware for the most part. Of course it will come with all the extra software you don’t really want or need but at least it shouldn’t be stealing your information.

A researcher in the financial services technology industry field named Peter Horne discovered that new Lenovo computers were being shipped with spyware called Superfish which is used to harvest data from a user’s computer via web browser. Horne noticed that data was being redirected from his computer to a website called best-deals-products.com. The point of this spyware is to collect information so it can place ads it thinks you will be interested in on webpages as you are browsing but can also compromise secure sites making it easier for hacker to do their thing with your data.

When confronted about the Superfish spyware Lenovo responded by saying its used “to help customers potentially discover interesting products while shopping.” But shortly after this finding went public in January Lenovo said they stopped including it on their new computer. So if you bought a Lenovo computer between September and December 2014 you most likely have Superfish installed on it.
 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Windows 7 and 8 users to get Windows 10 for free

Posted by David Bernstein

As we are sure you have noticed, Windows 8 has not been the big hit Microsoft was hoping it would be. Even the Windows 8.1 update didn’t seem to help things much. Most PC users like the interface of Windows 7 rather than the tablet interface of Windows 8.

For some reason Microsoft skipped Windows 9 for some reason and has released a preview version of Windows 10 that consumers can download and try out. So far Windows 10 appears to be a combination of Windows 7 and Windows 8 offering the Windows 7 start menu and the Windows 8 look and feel and applications. It appears that Microsoft has listened to the complaints about Windows 8 and gone back to their roots at least somewhat.

To push Windows 10 to the masses Microsoft will be offering it as a free upgrade to users of Windows 7 and 8 up to a year after it’s released. Once you upgraded it will be yours to use for the life of the device you install it on and this will include upgrades, patches and enhancements. Microsoft is calling this “Windows as a service”. It doesn’t appear that this free Windows 10 will be available as a download so you can do a fresh install but only as an upgrade. So if you want a clean installation you will most likely have to do a fresh install of Windows 7 or Windows 8 and then do the upgrade.
  

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Windows 9 may focus on the desktop

Posted by David Bernstein

As you may or may not know, some or should we say many Windows users are not happy with the new Windows 8 user interface. Originally called Metro it consists of grouped icons or tiles all on one screen rather than the typical start button and start menu. And thanks to this new interface Windows 8 sales have been suffering. For Windows 8.1 they brought back the start button but that was not enough to make the masses happy.

Now there is talk of a new Windows 9 that will focus on the desktop for users who prefer the desktop over the new start screen. The start screen will be disabled but users will be able to turn it back on if needed. There are even rumors of different versions being installed on devices based on what type of device they are. For example if its installed on a desktop then it would not have a start screen, 2 in 1 devices would have the option for either and tablets and smartphones would only have the start screen option. It’s doubtful that the start screen would actually completely disappear from desktops since there are those that like it.

There is also talk of a “mini” start menu coming back but that’s just rumor for now. Windows 8 Update 2 is expected to arrive in August to that may give us a taste of the upcoming Windows 9 changes. There is also rumors that Windows 9 will be a free upgrade for Windows 8 users and maybe even Windows 7 users.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Surface 3 manual gives away the existence of a Surface Mini

Posted by David Bernstein


Microsoft has been doing pretty well with its line of Surface tablet\PC combos even though their pure desktop Windows 8 sales are not going quite as well as they would like. The Surface Pro 3 is making its ways into consumers hands and along with it a reference manual that you can read on your computer to help you use the thing (if you are the manual reading type).

The downloadable PDF document can be obtained from Microsoft’s website but maybe not for long. If you search for Surface Mini it will come up with 4 hits referencing the device. Normally this would not be a big deal but Microsoft has not yet claimed that any such Surface Mini exists or will be coming out at all.

There have been rumors that the Surface Mini would come out alongside the Surface Pro 3 as a smaller 8 inch note taking type device with a stylus that runs Windows RT. A couple of sources say that Microsoft management decided to pull the Mini at the last minute because they didn’t think it would compete too well with the other mini tablets out on the market today. But there are still rumors that Microsoft is working on a smaller version of the Surface.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

ebay hacked and asks users to change passwords

Posted by Jim Bernstein

Online shopping, buying and selling giant ebay has become the latest victim in the ongoing saga of cyber attackers. ebay is where millions of people buy and sell new and used products from coins to cars. They have reported that 145 million registered users may have been compromised since a database containing encrypted passwords and other information has been hacked.

The semi-good news is that it’s just passwords, email addresses, phone numbers and birth dates that have been compromised and not financial information and PayPal account details. Other good news is that the passwords were encrypted so the hackers will need to be able to decrypt them before being able to use them which can take some time or may not even be possible depending on their skills.

ebay says the breach occurred from late February to early March and was only discovered about two weeks ago. The breach came from within the company’s corporate network and carried out via employee computer systems by hacking login credentials.

So if you are an eBay user you should change your password and also your PayPal password if it’s the same just to be safe.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Newly discovered Internet Explorer security hole won’t be patched for Window XP

Posted by David Bernstein

As you may or may not know, Microsoft has stopped supporting Windows XP in regards to patches and other updates. So if you are still running Windows XP then you should be looking into upgrading for the sake of security along with the millions of other people still using Windows XP.

It was just a matter of time before there was a newly discovered security hole that would require fixing my Microsoft and that time has come. But since XP is not supported anymore those computers will not be getting patched. Security company FireEye said it has found a hole in the Internet Explorer web browser that can allow attacks which can let a computer run code which can collect personal data or send spam.

These vulnerabilities are not uncommon and usually get patched fairly quickly but since Microsoft won’t be patching Windows XP this will be a potential problem for a lot of people. But since this issue involves a web browser and not the operating system itself there are ways to protect yourself. You can switch to a different browser such as Firefox or Chrome which still has updated version available for Windows XP for now. You should also make sure your antivirus and firewall software are up to date to help protect your computer from malicious websites.

* UPDATE

Microsoft has now said that they will be patching Internet Explorer for Windows XP as well.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

The end of Windows XP is finally here

Posted by David Bernstein


If it seems like Windows XP has been around forever, it’s because it has. It was released in August of 2001 and has been going strong ever since. In fact out of all the Windows powered desktops, 44% of them are still running Windows XP. Many people keep their Windows XP computers simply because they work or because the hardware may not be sufficient to run Windows 7 or Windows 8. Plus many corporations don’t want to spend the money to upgrade all the computers in their organization.

Microsoft has decided to pull the plug on Windows XP support on April 8th since its past its life expectancy and the want to focus more on Windows 7 and Windows 8. Plus they want consumers to upgrade and therefore spend their money on the newer versions of Windows. Also this will mean they won’t have to put in the time or effort to patch Windows XP if it’s not supported anymore.

Just because XP won’t be supported doesn’t mean you will have to stop using the operating system. What it will mean is that there will not be any more updates or more importantly security patches which will leave XP users more vulnerable to attacks as security holes are discovered in the OS. Windows XP was developed at a time when internet security was not as big of an issue as it is today. Windows 7 and 8 were designed with security in mind so overall they are much more secure operating systems. Plus Windows XP doesn’t support newer versions of Internet Explorer which are more secure than the older versions. In fact Avast Chief Operating Officer Ondřej Vlček says Windows XP users are "six times more likely to get hacked than Windows 7 users”.

So now the question is, will you be updating?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Google handing over less data as the government requests more

Posted by Jim Bernstein

With all the talk in the news about the government spying on us and collecting personal information from our computers and cell phones people often wonder how much data is given to the government by companies like Google and Facebook etc. Since these companies store so much of our information it makes sense that the government would go after them to get the information they say they need to “keep us safe”.

After the whole Edward Snowden incident people have been looking at companies like Google and Facebook and wondering how much of our information they are sharing with the government. At first Google made it seem like they would never do such a thing but it turns out that they were giving out some information to the government.

But now it seems that they have decided to cut back on how much data they share even though the government has increased the number of requests for information from Google. Government requests have gone up 120% since 2009. During the second half of 2013 Google was fulfilling 64% of government requests compared to 76% of requests in the second half of 2010. The US government has the highest number of requests for data by far with France coming in 2nd and Germany coming in at 3rd.