March 30, 2010

Removing a virus if the computer won’t boot

What do you do if you have a computer that is infected but you can’t boot it? You need some way to clean it up. One technique is to remove the hard drive and add it to another computer where you can run an AV/Malware scan.Unfortunately, that’s beyond many folks’ ability and won’t help if you have a laptop…

Well, here’s Brian Krebs and his blog to the rescue. He has another great posting with info (and links) on several “rescue CDs”, including:

AVG Rescue

Avira Rescue

BitDefender Rescue

Dr. Web Rescue

F-Secure Rescue

Kaspersky Rescue

Panda Rescue

Any of these will do the job. You burn the CD and then boot from it. You need a working internet connection. Brian’s post has lots of details.

March 27, 2010

Beware of ATM Card Skimmers

Not exactly a PC issue, but I was so struck by this, that I wanted to get as wide a visibility as I could. It never occired to me that someone could attach a device to an ATM’s card reader slot to read the magnetic stripe and make it look real! Guess we all need to start pulling on the card readers from now on…

Here’s the article from Brian Krebs blog. Read it and be warned!!

March 26, 2010

Consumers Don’t Relate Bot Infections to Risky Behavior As Millions Continue to Click on Spam

Here’s an article from the Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group about spam. Very scary statistics.

“In the new survey, half of users said they had opened spam, clicked on a link in spam, opened a spam attachment, replied or forwarded it – activities that leave consumers susceptible to fraud, phishing, identity theft and infection. While most consumers said they were aware of the existence of bots, only one-third believed they were vulnerable to an infection.   “

And folks wonder why their computers get infected with all sorts of malware… :-(

Thanks, once again, to Michael Pietroforte of for pointing this out…

Free Utility to mount ISO images

Ever need to run a CD that is in ISO format? Usually, you need to burn the image onto a CD and then run the CD. Her’s a (free, of course) utility that will mount an ISO image (or MG, CCD, DVD, UDF, and BIN) and make it look like a physical drive.  The program is called Virtual CloneDrive.

Here’s a review by Michael Pietroforte from his 4SYSOPS blog. It looks very nice….

Inexpensive Hard Drive Recovery Insurance Available

We often see on the net postings from folks whose hard drives have crashed and they ask if the data can be recovered. the standard answer is “Sure… if you have a ton of money!”. There are data recovery firms out there, but it usually ends up so expensive that only incredibly critical data is worth it.

Well, now there’s a German firm called Freecom that will let you pay about 30 Euros ($37 USD) to register a hard drive. If it fails, you mail it to them (pre-paid) and they sent the recoverable files back to you within 2 weeks. Not a bad deal.

A piece of advice…. Don't use this in place of good backups. First off, you don’t know what can be recovered. If it’s a head crash, a lot of data can be most. Also, you have to wait 2 weeks to get what can be recovered.

Thanks to John E. Dunn of NetworkWorld for identifying this service….

March 25, 2010

How the mighty have fallen…

I couldn’t resist… Seems that even the Communist Party isn’t immune to hacking. As reported by Sophos Labs the Communist Party of Britain’s web site has been infected (again!)…. Lenin is turning over in his grave…. ;-)

February 16, 2010

Rootkit may be the cause of XP BSOD’s

Brian Krebs has posted an interesting article in his blog. Turns out that there are indications that the Blue Screen of Death that some folks are experiencing (see my previous post) after applying Last Tuesday’s KB977165 patch. Turns out that several folks who had the problem also, it turns out, were infected with a rootkit. Rootkits are a particularly nasty piece of malware that are very hard to find and eliminate.

If you have seen (or know someone who has), the advice is to scan the system immediately with several malware scanning software packages. It would be best if you could do it from a bootable CD with the scanning software on it….

By the way, Brian’s blog is one I would recommend that any network admin or technically savvy user subscribe to.

January 10, 2010

Firefox 3.6 Release Candidate is available

Mozilla has released the Firefox Release Code 1 of 3.6. I won't bore you with all the details because they are available on the web site and, frankly, I'm not all that interested. I've done my share of betas and Release Candicates (Windows 7 was the latest). Also, I'm an IE 8 person. I actually prefer IE 8 to FF 3.5. On both my home and work machines it's actually slower loading than IE.

I really don't want to start a browser war here. The beauty of it is that there are a bunch of very good, solid browsers out there and we have the choice as to which one fits us best.

In case you do want to download it you can get it here:

I’ll be moving to another blog over the next week.

I reported earlier that I have been having problems with my e-mails getting trapped if I have the url for this blog in my signature. In fact, if *any* url with “” in it gets lost. I’ve been unable to resolve this so far.

I’ve been a member of “IT Toolbox” for almost 7 years. It’s an amazing collection of list servs, blogs, and other sources of information. They provide a resource for blogs, so I’ve set up one there. For the next week or so, I’ll be posting in both places, but eventually will only post there. It will, I believe, also give me a wider audience with more opportuinity for interaction with folks. The url is:

Thanks for all your support and for showing interest in my ramblings. I’ll be the same old Hank over there, also… :-)

January 9, 2010

Best Buy will drop “Optimization” service

According to The Consumerist, Best Buy will stop providing what they called their “Optimization Service”. Supposedly their technicians would examine the contents, programs and setup to reduce the wasted space, boot time and speed up the performance.

First off, what they do is very basic techniques that just about any PC knowledgeable person either knows or has access to through the web. I’ve probably posted some as well as pointers to others.

Second, I’m not a fan of Computer Geeks, anyway. I’ve dealt with several folks who used them and I’m not impressed at all with what they did, much less what they charged. One individual who bought a Dell through them (why?) and got an extended service contract. Now, let me say that I’m not one who recommends service contracts for tower/desktop computers. They almost always will fail in the first 3 months or almost never within the first 3 years. Even if they do, they are easy to fix (except for motherboards).

But I digress… This woman took it to Computer Geeks and they decided it needed a new mother board. When I had talked to her, she had been without the computer for over 2 weeks, going on 3. I told her that this was ridiculous. If she had called Dell, they would have diagnosed the problem and send a technician with a new motherboard and installed in her house, usually within a couple of days. Not a happy customer!!

Oh, well…. Reportedly, Best Buy will provide a “Best Buy Software Installer” starting January 17 and are working on replacing the Optimization Service. From the Consumerist: “Translation: Instead of you paying Best Buy to delete trialware from your new PC, Best Buy will get paid by software makers to try to get you to install it.””

All I can say is, if you insist on buying a computer from Best Buy, “Caveat Emptor”. At the very least, get a geek friend to help you configure what you need before you go there. Be informed…