Pacific NW Computers' Blog

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America’s 10 Most Wanted Botnets

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Botnet attacks are increasing, as cybercrime gangs use compromised computers to send spam, steal personal data, perpetrate click fraud and clobber Web sites in denial-of-service attacks. Here’s a list of America’s 10 most wanted botnets, based on an estimate by security firm Damballa of botnet size and activity in the United States.

Great article and read from Networkworld.com;
http://www.networkworld.com/news/2009/072209-botnets.html

Written by pacificnwcomputers

February 22, 2010 at 5:20 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Rogue Security Program Infections; At a Glance!

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More and more everyday I am see and hear about people becoming infected with Rogue security Software virus.

Rogue security software is a form of computer malware that deceives or misleads users into paying for the fake or simulated removal of malware. Rogue security software, in recent years, has become a growing and serious security threat in desktop computing. – Wiki

Right now the most common form of infection they are using is web page hi-jacking and “trap” websites that are created to “host” the virus (why using Firefox is so important).

So what people end up encountering is a web page that has been hacked, hi-jacked, infected or exploited that is unknowingly “hosting” this virus and ends up spreading the infection to whom ever visits the website. In doing this, their trap has been set and the infections begin! This form of infection is commonly refered to as a “Drive-by Download“.

After the computer becomes infected, users start to see and encounter “security warning” icons in their task bar (lower right of the desktop), pop-ups warning of an infection and fake animated virus scans indicating your computer is infected as the virus itself tries to build its credibility. In  most cases the virus can even infect the Windows Security Center making it even harder for users to identify whether the software is real or not. However the goal being achieved out all of this is for the virus creators to make money. So they are hoping that the users of the computers that become infected, and fooled by the “song and dance” the virus puts on, and buy their infectious and fake security software.

So I wanted this to be a little heads up and explanation for everybody about this subject since it is the most common repair I encounter to date.

Be Aware, Stay Informed and Scan Often!

~Jon Pienkowski, Pacific NorthWest Computers

Written by pacificnwcomputers

January 2, 2010 at 10:55 pm

Posted in Security, Web

BCC Your Emails!

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I have started using the BCC feature of my email religiously to prevent emailing other people’s email addresses when forwarding or distributing “mass address” emails. If  you ever get an email with that classic LIST, or lists, of various email addresses then PLEASE pull those emails outta there! I have recently blogged about the dangers of Spam, forwarded and chain emails. (Please check back through our archive to find that important read.)

As a quick refresher; Don’t trust ANYTHING you get in as an email if its not from somebody I know or is a chain/forwarded email! No matter the subject or topic of that  email! Social engineering is used where ever and when ever it can be applied to whom ever can apply it towards; through ANY medium!

Better be safe than sorry so if something does happen to REALLY catch your attention, just Google it and see what comes up!

BUT ONLY IF IT IS FROM SOMEONE YOU KNOW! 🙂

If we all could start using BCC (blind carbon copy), we can send what ever you wanted to whom ever  you wanted, and have it will look like it was specifically sent to that person! No sending of others emails addresses again!

Complete anonymity!

Hope that helps some people out!! 🙂

Jon Pienkowski – Owner
Pacific NorthWest Computers

Written by pacificnwcomputers

November 25, 2009 at 4:44 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Advice From Snopes: The Facts on Forwarded Emails, Chain-mail & E-mail Petitions

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Spam picture from  MauritsBurgers' flickr photos.

By now, most people are familiar with Snopes.com and/or Truthorfiction.com for determining whether information received via e-mail is true or false. (If not, start using them!) Well, Snopes.com recently put together a fantastic “E-mail Fact List”. The the purpose of the list; to inform our readers on what really happens when you send/receive forwarded e-mails, chain letter e-mails and those e-mail petitions. So we at Pacific NorthWest Computers is posting that information to help inform everyone on whats going on behind the scenes with chain mail, the dangers in forwarding those emails  and the facts on e-mail petitions. Enjoy and please forward to friends, family and co-workers!

  1. Almost all e-mails that ask you to add your name and forward on to others are similar to that mass letter years ago that asked people to send business cards to the little kid in Florida who wanted to break the Guinness Book of Records for the most cards. All it was, and all any of this type of e-mail is, is a way to get names and ‘cookie’ tracking information for telemarketers and spammers to validate active e-mail accounts for their own profitable purposes. The host sender is getting a copy each time it gets forwarded and then is able to get lists of ‘active’ e-mail addresses to use in SPAM e-mails or sell to other spammers. If you have been sending out (FORWARDING) the above kinds of e-mail, now you know why you get so much SPAM.
    • Do yourself a favor and STOP adding your name(s) to those types of listings, regardless of how inviting they might sound. You may think you are supporting a great cause, but you are NOT! Instead, you will be getting tons of junk mail later. Plus, you are helping the spammers get rich;. Let’s not make it easy for them.
  2. REMOVE ALL EMAIL ADDRESSES STILL ATTACHED BEFORE YOU FORWARD A MESSAGE. IT IS PUTTING EVERYONE’S NAME OUT THERE. Most people use a nickname for their email just so their real name is not out there on the Internet. BUT……. if YOU have listed their real name in your contacts, it will also show up next to their email address. Be a friend and delete all the names before forwarding. Even better, send everything by BCC. That’s BLIND CARBON COPY. That way NO names will ever show up on an email.
  3. That brings us to E-mail petitions. E-mail petitions are NOT acceptable to Congress or any other organization. To be acceptable, petitions must have a signed signature and full address of the person signing the petition.

I hope this opens some eyes and educates folks on whats going on behind the scenes with chain mail, the dangers in forwarding those emails  and the facts on e-mail petitions. The aware we are to how cyber-criminals work, the better we are on preventing SPAM and identity issues.

Please pass this blog posting along to all  friends, family or co-workers!

Jon Pienkowski
Pacific NorthWest Computers
http://www.pnwcomputers.com

Main content is from Snopes.com
Edited and Formatted by Pacific NorthWest Computers

Written by pacificnwcomputers

November 5, 2009 at 1:21 am

Posted in Uncategorized

HP’s Nvidia Chipset Nightmare

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HP’s Nvidia Chipset Nightmare

hp-dv9000A little over a year ago, while I was working at a local SW Washington computer repair shop, a customer brought in an HP DV series laptop with some serious and peculiar problems.

This HP laptop would randomly loose and then regain ability to use its on-board wireless. It would sometimes not boot at all and would RANDOMLY crash and reboot while in use. Sometimes, it would just come on with a black screen and nothing else at all. I immediately sensed that there was a major problem, and after tearing it apart and inspecting it from head to toe, I went to my good old’ Google web search.

What I found was a surprise! HP had issued a recall on their DV and V series laptops; the NVIDIA chip set they had been using in 11 models of their laptops apparently didn’t take too well to HP’s motherboards. It turns out that the NVIDIA chips that were installed for video, wireless, etc were installed with low quality solder (the metallic substance used to bind electronics together) along with that issue; HP was using a “thinner-than-usual” circuit board. The two together have created a HUGE public relations and financial mess for themselves.

To give HP some credit, at first they were handling the recall quite well. They extended many systems’s already expired two year warranty with an additional 1 year warranty so systems could be repaired. But saying you will do something and actually doing it are 2 separate things.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have helped several customers with this recall and they have received new/replacement laptops. But as it turned out, some of the “new” and “repaired” laptops that they were reissuing were failing before, or just after, their new 90 day repair/replacement warranty; this is where it starts to go down hill…

Really quickly, here is a basic definition of a recall:

A product recall is a request to return to the maker a batch or an entire production run of a product, usually due to the discovery of safety or product issues. The recall is an effort to limit liability for corporate negligence (which can cause costly legal penalties) and to improve or avoid damage to their public image.

HP has never really publicly declared this recall to the public and information is VERY hard to find about the recall. To my knowledge HP has not been notifying any of the merchants that they stock, supply and sell to about this recall. Plus, they never stopped selling the defective units all together.

So now, angry HP customers and users have created HPLies.com and are teaming up with other affected users to bring awareness to this “corporate denial” as well as compiling and publishing user’s experiences with receiving help from HP. The site then provided methods on how to take action to get their defective HP laptops appropriately replaced or repaired. The web site is also drafting letters in an attempt to form routes of communication and to submit complaints to HP’s President & CEO, Mark Hurd.

My purpose in writing this blog is to help bring more awareness to what HP is and is not doing to deal with this “recall”. My biggest frustrations are that HP has not publicized this recall enough. Many people have no idea that there is a recall and the ones who are affected, receive ridiculous support; if they are lucky to get that! They often get their customers frustrated enough that they simply buy another laptop or pay for HP to repair their defective  system. Outrageous!

Pacific NorthWest Computer’s customer service is based on character, respect and responsibility. I expect nothing less from other businesses and corporations!

If you think your laptop could be or is affected by this recall, give me a call today!
I can help you every step of the way; including packing and shipping your laptop for you!

Jon Pienkowski – Pacific NorthWest Computers
360-624-7379
www.pnwcomputers.com

References:

Product Recall – Wiki

HP Limited Warranty Service Enhancement

Written by pacificnwcomputers

October 14, 2009 at 2:01 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Stay Warm & Stay Secure!

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Don't let these guys take over!

Hello Everyone!

Well, Fall is finally here and though the Sunny days are overwhelming gorgeous and the leaves will turn beautiful colors, sadly the rain and cold takes over!!  😦
What that really means though is that people start spending more time inside to avoid the elements outside! That usually equates to people also spending more time on their computers.

Now is the time to update, review and tighten security on your PC as well as your Network!

Just in time for the changing of the seasons, we have recently completed pnwcomputers.com‘s Services web page with the recent completion of our Networking Services page:

PNW Computers’ Networking Services

*If you click the link above, it should be able to take you directly to the web page. However if this does not work, copy and paste the following URL: http://pnwcomputers.com/network.html

Stop bye and take a look at the new web page and let me know if you have any questions or comments and please, feel free to browse the rest of the website!
Check out our other Blog and also our site’s “Links” page! There is lots of great information to be found all over the site!

Thanks so much everyone, stay warm and stay secure!

Sincerely,

Jon-Eric Pienkowski
_________________________
Pacific NorthWest Computers
http://www.pnwcomputers.com
pnwcomputers(at)gmail.com

Written by pacificnwcomputers

September 29, 2009 at 5:28 am

Posted in Uncategorized

PNWC’s Favorite FireFox Plugin’s

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BetterPrivacy

Here at Pacific NorthWest Computers’ we love Firefox.
Not just because it’s smart, cute and bubbly (in fact until 3.5.1 we were shying away; Chrome) Anyway, what we LOVE about Firefox is all of the add-ons there are for it! Media players, download status tool bars, shake-a-baby… Uhh… how did that get in there!?
Back to the main topic!
What we wanted to do is share our favorite, most recommended & most used Firefox Plug-in’s! So please, I hope they are all seriously considered by many and all readers! Enjoy!

  1. BetterPrivacy; Ever wondered why you are still tracked though you tried everything to prevent it? BetterPrivacy is a Super Cookie Safeguard which protects from usually not deletable LSO’s. It blocks longterm tracking on Google, YouTube Ebay and many others…

  2. Colorful Tabs; The most beautiful yet the simplest add-on that makes a strong colorful appeal. Colors every tab in a different color and makes them easy to distinguish while beautifying the overall appearance of the interface.
  3. Cooliris; Simply the fastest and most stunning way to browse photos and videos from the Web or your desktop. Effortlessly scroll an infinite “3D Wall” of your content from Facebook, Google Images, YouTube, Flickr…
  4. Firebug; Firebug integrates with Firefox to put a wealth of development tools at your fingertips while you browse. You can edit, debug, and monitor CSS, HTML, and JavaScript live in any web page…
  5. FireFTP; A free, secure, cross-platform FTP client for Mozilla Firefox which provides easy and intuitive access to FTP servers.
  6. Flagfox; Displays a country flag depicting the location of the current website’s server and provides quick access to detailed location and webserver information.
  7. Lazarus: Form Recovery; Never lose anything you type into a web form again! Lazarus securely auto-saves all forms as you type, so after a crash, server timeout, or whatever, you can go back to the form, right click, “recover form”, and breath a sigh of relief.
  8. Long URL Please; Replaces short urls with the originals so you can see where links actually link to.

  9. NoScript; The best security you can get in a web browser! Allow active content to run only from sites you trust, and protect yourself against XSS and Clickjacking attacks.
  10. Read it Later; Read It Later allows you to save pages of interest to read later. It eliminates cluttering of bookmarks with sites that are merely of a one-time interest.
  11. WOT; Web of Trust, warns you about risky websites that try to scam visitors, deliver malware or send spam. Protect your computer against online threats by using WOT as your front-line layer of protection when browsing or searching in unfamiliar territory.

  12. Xmarks; Install Xmarks on all your computers to keep your bookmarks and (optionally) passwords backed up and synchronized; never loose a bookmark again!
  13. SortPlaces; Allows you to sort your bookmarks in various ways; no more scattered Firefox bookmarks! The Bookmarks Organiser within Firefox does have some sort options, but these are not permanent.
  14. Omnibar; I love how with Google Chrome, the location/address bar is also the search bar. So what Omnibar does is it integrates the location bar and search bar into one! It will show search and url suggestions and can quickly switch search engine using search keywords!

www.pnwcomputers.com

Written by pacificnwcomputers

September 16, 2009 at 7:13 pm

Posted in Security, Web