Saturday, August 29, 2015

Why Not Windows 10?


I have been asked one too many times why I oppose Windows 10. Here is some more fodder for thought.

Besides all eventual arguments for or against technical merit here are only three facts that everybody can check out in Microsoft's Terms of Use for Windows 10. Every single install of Windows 10 must agree to Microsoft's Terms And Conditions for use of Windows 10. This is (supposedly) a 12,000 word document. Everybody I know, me included, just clicks on Agree - and Microsoft knows that.


We usually allow Windows 10 to install with Express Settings (the default that most people choose!); in the Terms of Use we can find that we agree among others goodies to:
  1. Windows 10 is logging all keystrokes
     
  2. Windows 10 is always listening to the microphone
     
  3. Microsoft will turn over all your data and info about you to authorities
Re. point #1: 
Programs that log our keystrokes on the functional level of the operating system (or even below that) have always been called Key Loggers and always have by all security systems been flagged as viruses and removed.

Just think of every keystroke being logged and stored at MS (Microsoft); what about your username(s) and password(s)? What about account details like credit card or bank or investment account numbers?
Re. point #2:
Many desktop computers and virtually all laptop computers have a microphone. Windows 10 will record and store on MS's servers every spoken word that reaches the microphone while the computer is running. Big Brother is always listening!

Windows 10 will (at least try to) make an automatic backup copy of every file you create on your computer and store that copy on MS's servers. What about confidentiality requirements? No lawyer, doctor, real estate agent, CPA or PI can ever use Windows 10; actually everybody who by law is required to respect and guarantee any degree of confidentiality should never use Windows 10. 
Re. point #3:
That sounds kind of "normal" and okay - on the surface at least.
BUT: MS does not say that they require a court order or warrant for that.
Any "authority" can request and will receive all your files and all information about you that MS has gathered.

With no court order at all!
Then there is yet another side to the whole thing that, for me at least, is even more scary; although I have to warn you, it will take 30 minutes away from your busy day to listen to this "video" - which actually is a recorded audio interview.

As usual I welcome comments and suggestions right here in the blog. Thank you in advance.

For whatever reason the darned TOC (Table Of Contents) feature that I got from Google does not work any longer, sorry. And I just don't have the time to hunt down another solution; if you know one please tell me in a comment. Thank you.



Wednesday, August 26, 2015

2015-08-27 WBKV Talking Points (August 27th 2015)


Windows 10
  • For the unsuspecting home user I have decided to give clear warnings:
    Do Not Install Windows 10!
    In it's default settings
    Windows 10 does not respect even basic privacy.
Google Chrome'sHTTPS extension can easily be turned OFF by visiting malicious web page!
  • I can't say it often enough: Do NOT, I repeat DO NOT USE Google Chrome!
    About 50% of all malware infections I currently see happened when using Chrome!
Yahoo! slings viruses of he nasty sort � again!
  • Original quote from The Register;
    �Yahoo
    ! has been used to spread ransomware to Windows PCs almost exactly a year after he previous outbreak�.
Users of Apple anything: Check for updates!
Most anything from Apple is affected.

Do yo see advertisements?
Your computer IS NOT SAFE!
The Register:
Internet lowlifes who used Yahoo!ads to infect potentially countless PCs with malware have struck again � using adverts on popular websites to reach millions more people. See this article.
Some affected web sites are ebay, Drudge Report, weather.com plus many others.
This campaign now resides on AOL.com For many years already I tell my customers
Do not use AOL, Yahoo, NetZero, Juno!
My customers have nothing to fear; IMHO a good ad-blocker is mandatory!

Hopefully listener calls with questions.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Yahoo! - Helps to Distribute Malware


I have said it to countless customers and I say it again, publicly and absolutely clear:
If you see advertisements while browsing the internet
then your computer is not set up safely!
I have said it to countless customers and I say it again, publicly and absolutely clear:
Stay away from Yahoo!
And I mean Yahoo! everything; email, finance, sports, EVERYTHING that comes from Yahoo! 

Here is a literal quote from NetworkWorld.com (bolding and links added by yours truly):
Malwarebytes Labs recently uncovered a large malvertising attack on the Yahoo! advertising network that started on July 28. Malwarebytes estimates that up to 6.9 billion readers could have been affected, making it one of the largest malvertising attacks Malwarebytes Labs has seen recently.
Malvertising is defined as crafted advertisements that intentionally infect the computers of anyone who visits the site. A tiny piece of code hidden deep in the ad will reroute your computer to criminal servers without your knowledge, which then determines how exposed your computer is and decides which piece of malware to send you.

In the case of the Yahoo ad, victims are infected with ransomware via the Angler Exploit Kit, but it�s possible that anything from banking Trojans to additional advertising fraud is also being used in this attack.

Malwarebytes said that the infection included Yahoo's main site, as well as subgroups like News, Finance, Sports, Celebrity, and Games. The ads route users to a site on Microsoft Azure, which eventually leads to the Angler Exploit Kit.

But, according to a friend at Malwarebytes, when you are running Adblock Plus or any other ad blocker, then the ad never plays, so no payload is delivered to your PC. So the malware doesn't ever get to touch your PC. Even if you don't click on the ad, the fact is it loads and becomes saved in your browser cache, so it does get onto your PC without the blocker.
My customers do not need to worry about malvertising, they all have Adblock Plus installed. All others please listen up:

If you use ANYthing from Yahoo! and/or
if you see advertisements when web surfing
then your computer is UNSAFE!

Do yourself a favor, get your computer cleaned up and secured.
As usual I welcome comments and suggestions right here in the blog. Thank you in advance.

For whatever reason the darned TOC (table of contents) feature that I got from Google does not work any longer, sorry.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Is Microsoft Really As Dumb As They Act?


I can't believe it!

I am doing my Set-Up job for a customer on a Windows 8.1 computer.My very first thing after getting it to work in desktop mode always is Windows Update until the system is fully up to date; then comes everything else.

Well, maybe if an anti virus or security system is installed I will remove that before I do the bulk of updating; many of these systems make a basic computer run clearly slower.

Above mentioned system was brand new and it had been bought from the Microsoft Store as a so called "Signature system", that is guaranteed free of any gunk, trial or other potentially unwanted software.

This was the very first startup of the Windows 8.1 system and I expected GWX not to be present. GWX is Microsoft's trickery software to coax unsuspecting individuals into "reserving" and/or outright downloadung the free upgrade to Windows 10.

When I started Windows Update for the first time it showed 122 important and 6 or 7 optional updates. I checked that there was nothing called anything like "Upgrade to Windows 10" or similar; there was nothing of that kind. I told the system to install the updates.

Imagine my shock when as the very next thing Windows Update showed me exactly this window:


WHAT it screamed inside me; I did not ask for Windows 10! I immediately stopped the download and resolved to talk it over with the customer.

So I called, explained the situation and asked if she would be okay with Windows 10 if I would include for free all the steps to make it respect privacy that I have described in previous articles. The lady was okay with that so I told Windows 8.1 to install the updates - and it showed again above depicted window.

To my greatest surprise Windows 8.1 did all the 8.1 updates, always showing above progress window but actually never downloading or installing the Windows 10 upgrade.

PHEW! 

My very personal conclusion to this story? Some people at Microsoft are either overworked, totally stressed out, simply not at all caring about quality and quality control or they are outright idots. 

Or any combination thereof, you choose.

As usual I welcome comments and suggestions right here in the blog. Thank you in advance.
 
For whatever reason the darned TOC (table of contents) feature that I got from Google isn't working any longer, sorry.


Saturday, August 15, 2015

Lenovo? NEVER AGAIN!


For years I have recommended not to buy Dell computers because way back when Dell had been caught with dishonest business practices. After years of staunch resistance I have relented for reasons of price/performance. Recently I had to recommend some Dell laptops from the Microsoft Store.

Well, something nasty has happened - again.

I stumbled over an article detailing the most recent failures by Lenovo. Bummer!

Their laptops for quite some time had been on the forefront of machines I recommended.

No more recommending Lenovo computers, at least for the foreseeable future.

Will these companies never learn that they will get caught, hopefully always?

As usual I welcome comments and suggestions right here in the blog. Thank you in advance.

Click here for a categorized Table Of Contents.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

NO to Windows 10


Please click this link if you are looking for general information on Windows 10.


My verdict on Windows 10:   
Do not install Windows 10.

If the word privacy and the concept of privacy mean anything to you then you should stay away form the biggest data slurp this world has ever seen. That IMHO is what Windows 10 is going to be.

Here is an example of what others think about Windows 10; this a literal quote from a reply to an article about Windows 10 privacy settings (bolding added by me):
Microsoft has built into Windows 10, the most comprehensive personal surveillance system ever built into an OS. . .
I cannot, for the life of me, envision any reputable business or government entity running this illegal and unconstitutional monstrosity - and still claim that they are able to protect client/citizen's privacy. Doctor's, lawyers, banks or anyplace where client/patient privacy is important should probably avoid Windows Malware 10 at all cost.
And as far as technical "improvements" are concerned here is a snippet from one of the support forums I follow. A user of this forum put it very nicely and IMHO he nailed it precisely:
Personally, I haven't seen a compelling reason to upgrade to Windows 10. ... I haven't found a good reason to upgrade from Windows 8.1...

PRO: Start Menu.
CON: I already have Classic Shell, which is more like the Start Menu to which I am accustomed, and much more configurable.

PRO: Edge Browser.
CON: I'd rather use Firefox.

PRO: Cortana.
CON: This is a security risk just waiting to happen; that being said, this may be a pro... Then again, maybe not. I'm on the fence...

PRO: Multiple Desktops.
CON: Already available to XP and above from Microsoft Sysinternals Desktops 2.0.

PRO: Windowed Universal (Metro/Windows Store) Apps.
CON: I haven't found any Universal Apps that are any better than the desktop programs I already have installed.

PRO: Comes with Solitaire:
CON: You can get solitaire in Windows 8.1 also, from the Windows Store.

PRO: New Mail and Calendar Apps.
CON: Not even as capable as Microsoft's Windows Live Mail 2012 with Microsoft Accounts, and relatively useless with some other accounts. Where are my local folders? Why is the Spam from the junk folder archived forever, it's Spam!?!

PRO: New Photos App.
CON: Better photo editors are out there.

PRO: DirectX 12.
CON: I can't think of a con to this one, except I don't really play games on this computer. That's what consoles are for. (And I don't really care about the XBox App...)

PRO: Unified Settings.
CON: Thanks for moving around the Control Panel again...

PRO: New Task Switcher.
CON: Alt-Tab

PRO: Schedule Restarts.
CON: Forced Windows Updates. Because Microsoft never fudges updates...

PRO: Hello.
CON: Like I have an infrared 3D camera...

etc.
So far for the quote. I had a similar compilation in an earlier article; in case you are interested it is here.

As I said above, my verdict is clear; if you have a well working Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 system there is no compelling technical reason to upgrade to Windows 10; you only would give up what vestiges of privacy there are left in the brave new world of Windows 10 home computing.



As usual I welcome comments and suggestions right here in the blog. Thank you in advance.

Click here for a categorized Table Of Contents.
    

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Windows 10 - Better Instructions to Make it "SAFE"


After writing the previous long, long article about how to make Windows 10 running without the glaring privacy issues I discovered on a forum a link to a MUCH better organized article with visual examples for everything from installation to changing the relevant settings.

You find it here: https://fix10.isleaked.com/

I thank the author(s) of this web page; GREAT work!


As usual I welcome comments and suggestions right here in the blog. Thank you in advance.

Click here for a categorized Table Of Contents.
   

Windows 10 Settings - What I Recommend


Please click this link if you are looking for general information on Windows 10.

If you absolutely do not mind to be followed by "Big Brother" then please do not read the remainder of this article, you are excused and may leave.

By now I have decided to recommend to my customers NOT to upgrade to Windows 10. There are way too many IMHO serious privacy issues that go along with a so called Microsoft account.

In the following I will give some tips on how to remedy at least some or much of that messy situation. For every instance of something I deem in need of correcting or changing I will preface the paragraph with "Gripe:".

Because virtually all of my customers work on the desktop and use a mouse and a keyboard all the following step by step instructions are for desktop mode only.

Immediately after upgrading to Windows 10 your computer will work quite differently than it did before the upgrade.


Gripe:
If you gave the system on first start your email address Microsoft has created on their servers the storage for an immense wealth of information about you that Win10 and it's programs will collect from and about you; and that besides the fact that every email address will have it's unique "advertisement ID" assigned. Guess what that will be used for!

If you want to change your inadvertently created Microsoft Account back into a normal, local account then:
  1. Right click on the Start button
  2. Open Control Panel
  3. Click Settings
  4. Click  ====================to be finished 


Gripe:
Synchronizing personal settings between various computers could under certain circumstances be a convenience. But some of us don�t want the same settings on all of our various Win10 computers. Just imagine using Win10 on your �old� keyboard/mouse computer and on a tablet; ARGGHH!

Plus: My settings are my personal preference and are none of Microsoft's business! Obviously I am way too old for that brave new world where everything is made public! If you are like me here is how to turn synching off:
  1. Right click on the Start button
  2. Open Control Panel
  3. Click Settings
  4. Click Accounts
  5. Click Sync your settings 
  6. Turn OFF Sync settings to disable synchronizing
  
Gripe:
Microsoft Edge, the new web browser, will be the default for all things Internet. You should set that back to Firefox following these steps:
  1. Right click on the Start button
  2. Open Control Panel
  3. Click Default Programs
  4. Click on "Set your default programs"
  5. You should see a list of installed programs
  6. Find and highlight the entry for Firefox
  7. Click on  "Set this program as default" (my cursor points to it)
  8. Click OK to close the window
 

Gripe:
System Protection is the Win10 name for the feature that creates Restore Points. This is turned off after the upgrade on many systems! It is by no means a good backup system but still better than nothing. Here is how to turn it on again:
  1. Right click on the Start button
  2. Open Control Panel
  3. Click System
  4. In the left sidebar click System protection
  5. Highlight your system disk C:
  6. Click Configure (see screen shot)
 
     7. Click on "Turn on system protection" (see screen shot below)
     8. Click OK and OK to close all windows



    Gripe:
     Especially important to users of laptops computers are Wi-Fi-credentials

    A new Win10 feature � WiFi Sense (online FAQ) � has generated more than its share of controversy. Just read what well renowned security researcher Brian Krebs has has to say about it in a recent column.

    Simply said WiFi Sense allows all your Facebook friends, Outlook and Skype contacts to automatically sign in to your WiFi router when they are in range; likewise you can use their WiFi network as soon as you are in range of their router. In short, it �blabs� access to your WiFi network to numbers of people who you might not know well enough. And that feature is turned ON by default! Here is how to turn it off:
    1. Right click on the Start button
    2. Open Control Panel
    3. Click Settings
    4. Click Network & Internet
    5. Click Wi-Fi.
    6. Scroll past your wireless networks and click Manage Wi-Fi settings. 
    7. Turn off  Connect to suggested open hotspots and
    8. Turn off Connect to networks shared by my contacts.



    Gripe: 
    Simply said, I hate Cortana,the so-called �digital assistant� in Win10.
     
    My wife and my best friend may know a lot about me that you don't know and likely even don't want to know. The NSA, Apple and now Microsoft want to know more about every Apple or Win10 user then we want to know about ourselves.

    The End User License Agreement (EULA) for Win10 clearly states that Cortana has the ability to collect and use various types of personal information, including your location, calendar data, and programs (called "apps") you use. Cortana collects information about your choice of music, alarm settings, what you view and purchase online, your Bing search history, your use of other Microsoft services, and can even use the camera and microphone of the computer. In short, it is ALWAYS listens when the computer is on. Remember, practically all laptop computers have a microphone and a camera.

    This sort of always on data collection worries me deeply; 1984anyone?

    Here is a decent PC World article explaining how to disable Cortana. And don't forget additionally and separately to disable Cortana in the new Edge browser, even if you don't use it!

    Remember, Big Brother is always listening, always watching.


    Gripe:
    Since Microsoft announced that the upgrade to Windows 10 will be free, I have been waiting for the catch. And, surprise, it's very first installment comes with the ubiquitous game of Solitaire.This popular app is included with the new OS, but it includes advertising. To remove the ads, you have to pay a monthly subscription, as reported in a Business Insider story.

    Currently I do not know of a hack to get around this.

    Just do not go into the trap of recurring payments. There are many free alternatives on the internet. 




    Gripe:
    Along with forced updates, Win10 also includes � again, on by default � the option to share patches with other computers on your local network or the Internet; this is called peer-to-peer updating. You might want to disable update sharing.

    There are serious concerns that attackers might find a way to inject malicious code into the process; many internet connections are metered and with the almost 3GB download size of Win10 you can easily run over your limit and that costs dearly.
     You want to disable peer-to-peer updating obtain patches only directly from Microsoft? Here is how:
    1. Right click on the Start button
    2. Open Control Panel
    3. Click Settings
    4. Click Update & Security
    5. Click windows Update (it is no longer in the Control Panel!)
    6. Select Advanced Options
    7. Click Choose how updates are delivered
    8.  Turn Update Sharing OFF

    So much for today. This article is meant to be continued as more details become available.

    As usual I welcome comments and suggestions right here in the blog. Thank you in advance.

    Click here for a categorized Table Of Contents.
     
     

    Thursday, August 6, 2015

    2015-08-06 WBKV Talking Points (August 6th 2015)


    Windows 10
    • If You use Symantec's Norton security software DO NOT UPGRADE to Win 10!
      Seriously broken Windows 7, 8.1 and 10 systems reported in Norton's forum.
       
    • The vast majority of upgrades seems to go very well and smooth. Well dome Microsoft!
       
    • BUT: There re some �rough edges� Microsoft needs time to smooth those. 
    My original advice stands:  Wait and see!  There is plenty of time left to get the free upgrade.


    Fake emails supposedly from Microsoft, telling people they are ready to download Windows 10.

    BIG problem, they run CBT Locker which is MUCH WORSE than CryptoLocker.


    Google Chrome'sHTTPS extension can easily be turned OFF by visiting malicious web page!
    • I can't say it often enough: Do NOT, I repeat DO NOT USE Google Chrome!

      About 50% of all malware infections I currently see happened when using Chrome!


    Hopefully listener calls with questions.

    Old Scam - New Clothes

    A scammer from India came up with a new twist of an old ruse.  Look at this screen shot of the offending email as shown in my email progr...