visitinggeeks

Dick has been in the computer industry for, uh, a long long time. He brings a common sense approach to IT services for home, SOHO professionals and enterprising businesses. He graduated with a S.B. in Computer Engineering at M.I.T. and an MBA in Finance from the University of Chicago.

Dick has been in the computer industry for, uh, a long long time. He brings a common sense approach to IT services for home, SOHO professionals and enterprising businesses. He graduated with a S.B. in Computer Engineering at M.I.T. and an MBA in Finance from the University of Chicago.

How To Get Rid of Scamware

In the past year, it’s not uncommon to see a message similar to the above plasters on your PC screen. Scam artists have long tried to evade the myriad of anti-virus and anti-malware software and this is one that slips through.

The following steps will remove this type of scams in majority of the cases.  Otherwise, your computer would need more in-depth cleansing. The idea is to cleanse all your web browsers as well as identifying and removing any modifications to your computer registry settings.

Here are steps to cleanse each of your web browsers:

  • Download the three free programs onto a flash drive using a separate PC if you can:
    1. CCleaner – www.piriform.com 
    2. Malwarebytes – www.malwarebytes.com
    3. Zemana – www.zemana.com
    4. Remove the flash drive and insert into the infected PC.
  • Cleanse Your Browsers’ temporary files, cache and cookies
    1. Install CCleaner
    2. CCleaner will start after installation.
    3. Make sure you close all your web browsers
    4. Click “Run Cleaner”
    5. Click “OK”
    6. CCleaner will run for a while.
    7. After it finishes, “X” out the application.
  • Scan for malware
    1. Install Malwarebytes
    2. Application will start after installation.
    3. Click “Scan Now”
    4. It may take up to 30 minutes depends on your system
    5. “Remove” or “Quarantine” all found abnormalities.
    6. Restart your computer.
  • Scan for registry and browser hijack devices
    1. Install Zemana
    2. Application will start after installation 
    3. Click “Scan”
    4. Program will scan and when it finishes scanning, click “Next” to quarantine all found traces of suspicious entries.
    5. “X” out of the program
  • Restart your computer.

Use your computer to see if the problem has gone away.  If it has, congratulations!  If not, we have to perform additional steps to remove the pest.

At this point, you have 3 free programs installed and they will remind you to purchase their software.  If you want to remove them, go to “Control Panel”, “Programs and Features” to uninstall them.

Good luck.

AVIMark Print Error “This command is not available”

One of our new clients is an animal hospital and they use a clinical software application called AVIMark.  They were unhappy with their MSP for a variety of reasons and decided to ask us to look into several of their lingering ‘unsolved’ printing issues.

Couple of their computers either cannot print labels or print the wrong sized labels.  Those were quickly resolved by our senior technician.  But one computer just wouldn’t print Word documents and PDFs directly from AVIMark, their veterinary software.  After over an hour with two AVIMark technical support agents remote logged in and inspect their computer, the recommendation was to uninstalled and reinstalled Microsoft Office.

That’s kind of odd because Microsoft Office functions correctly when invoked directly.  So uninstalling and reinstalling Microsoft will just get us back to the same place.  I spent some time on the internet and found a proposed solution from IT-Simplified, LLC which described a similar problem when AVIMark gets an error code 5 when trying to print.

The solution is to turn off Microsoft Word’s start up options show it would not display the splash screen.  I suspect AVIMark did not update and  include the correct switch setting in its command on later version of Microsoft Office.

To get AVIMark to print.

  1. Start Microsoft Word directly;
  2. Either create a new document or open an existing one (either way will work);
  3. Click File
  4. Click Options
  5. Near the bottom, you should see “Start up options”
    1. uncheck all 3 options.
  6. Click OK
  7. Click “X” on upper right corner to exit Microsoft Word; and
  8. Reboot the computer.

AVIMark will now print.

Cleanse Your Browser & VPN Services

As mentioned in my newsletter, to keep your Internet activities private, you should cleanse your browser history and cache contents, as well as setting up a VPN connection.

As you know, there are quite a selection of browsers: Internet Explorer, Edge, Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera and more.  The procedure to remove history and cache contents is different depending on your browser.  This website (www.refreshyourcache.com) gives excellent instructions on how to accomplish this for all these browsers.

For VPN services, here are 4 alternatives that deserve some attention, among many others:

  1. OpenVPN – free
  2. ExpressVPN  – $6.67 per month.
  3. NordVPN – $2.75 per month.
  4. CyberGhost – $2.75 per month.

They are very easy to install, connect and have different features as well as number of VPN servers around the world. Using VPN ensures your Internet communication is secure and confidential.

May the privacy be with you!

Comcast Website Flaw Exposed Customer WiFi Passwords

ZDNet reports on May 22, 2018 a security flaw uncovered by two security researchers, Karan Saini and Ryan Stevenson.

Using only Comcast account number and the house number, Comcast router/modem activation screen will display the router’s WIFI password in plain text, even though the web form asks for full address.

If a bad actor has a Comcast account number, s/he can simply guesses the house number or apartment number.

This bug also returns the new WIFI password even if the modem/router has already been turned on.

Comcast reportedly corrected this error shortly after ZDNet’s report. Stay tuned.

Email Scam Log Entry #6: Why am I so lucky?

Email Scam: Boston Globe recently was reporting on a woman receiving an email from Publishers’ Sweepstakes she won but need to pay taxes and some fees first.  She called the phone number and a nice young woman congratulate her and urged her to keep it confidential and don’t tell anyone, even her family so it can be a surprise.  Right?!  Below is excerpt of another email received this past week.

“My name is Warren E. Buffett an American business magnate, investor and philanthropist. am the most successful investor in the world. I believe strongly in‘giving while living’ I had one idea that never changed in my mind ? that you should use your wealth to help people and i have decided to give {$1,500,000.00} One Million Five Hundred Thousand United Dollars, to randomly selected individuals worldwide. On receipt of this email, you should count yourself as the lucky individual.”

Visiting Geeks: Am I lucky or what?  Who doesn’t know Warren Buffett, the oracle financier hailed from Omaha?   Forget about grammatical mistakes and typos.  I’ll take ‘United Dollars’ whatever that is.  Smile and hit your <delete> key.

Rabbit Ear

After power was restored Tuesday night after the storm, we found the FIOS interface was fried.  It’s weird without Internet, phone and TV.  As we live just outside of Boston, we can get TV signals using good old antenna.  But we threw that out long long time ago but we found a short coax cable so we connect it to the TV but signal was weak. Adding a booster did the trick.  Our TV receives the usual major channels.  Here’s our signal booster.

Functional Antenna Design

Email Scam Log Entry #5

Scam Email #5: this appears in inbox…”

Good morning.

Dont regard on my English, I am from Japan.We loaded our malicious program on your device.After that I thiefted all private background from your device. Moreover I received some more evidence.The most amusing evidence which I got- its a videotape with your masturbation.I put virus on a porn page and after you loaded it. As soon as you decided with the video and tapped on a play button, my deleterious soft immediately loaded on your device.

After adjusting, your web camera shoot the videotape with you masturbating,  additionally I saved the video you watched. In next week my virus collected all your social media and email contacts.

If you wish to destroy all the compromising evidence- transfer me 980 united state dollar in BTC(cryptocurrency).

I provide you my Btc wallet address – 1FkizUB6vgJzUz6fQyTRZckcu3QBT

You have 24 hours to go from this moment. If I receive transaction I will destroy the evidence forever. Otherwise I will send the record to all your friends.”

Visiting Geeks: This sounds pretty alarming for the recipient but it’s a scam. Unfortunately, scammers can buy emails by the thousands and simply blasts this type of scary emails out to demand money. Ignore it.  We are testing email screening software to cut down these types of nonsense.  Stay tuned.

Top Robocallers According to YouMail

Estimated volumes of top phone scams in March 2018.

Category Type Volume
Interest rates “0% interest rates” 122.9m
Credit cards “Problem with your credit card” 82.5m
Student loans “Forgive/lower student debt” 71.0m
Business loans “Preapproved for business loan” 53.4m
I.R.S. “Owe money to the I.R.S.” 43.4m
Search listings “Listing has a problem” 31.0m
Travel “Free/discount trip” 27.0m
Preapproved loans “Ready to wire – just need info” 26.2m
Home security “Free service/installation” 26.1m
Utilities “Save money – need your info” 19.2m

Source: YouMail

Cybersecurity 101

My first encounter of computer breach happened almost 40 years ago when I just started as a systems programmer after graduating from MIT. My computer terminal was mis-behaving at random intervals.  Sensing a potential intruder, I wrote a small system utility to monitor and trap the offender.  Once trapped, my utility would identify and lock the hacker’s computer, display a 5-second count down clock and promptly crash the computer when the clock ticked to 0.  It didn’t take long to identify and confront the culprit. I smacked his head with a rolled up newspaper!

Fast forward to now. With the proliferation of Internet, cyberhackings are much more frequent, complex and damaging nowadays.  We hear and remember high-profile ones like Equifax, Home Depot, Target, Sony…  But according to 2016 State of SMB Cybersecurity Report, almost 50% of small businesses got hacked.

“Most small-business owners don’t think they’re at risk. As a result, … they are indeed ill-prepared to safeguard against an attack,” said Bryan Seely, a network engineer famous for hacking into the FBI.

You, my business customers, are small businesses.  I have to care. I don’t want you to fail. Yes, I know about antivirus software, firewalls and encryption.  But that’s baby stuff and I know there’s so much that I don’t know. So,

In a moment of insanity, I signed up a course on Cybersecurity: Technology, Application and Poilicy from MIT xPro.  I instantly regretted my witless decision after looking at the ridiculous syllabus, plus there’s a test weekly for 6 weeks before the final exam. Arrrrgh.

It started this week….  and I’m happy to report that MIT professors haven’t changed.  It’s fire hose water boarding time.  I just took week 1 assessment test…. We’ll see.

Drop me a line if you are curious about information flow tracking, taint propagation, trusted computing base, fully homomorphic encryption or obliviuos random access memory.

Am I having fun yet?!