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Alert: Petya Ransomware May Be the Worst Yet | Los Angeles, CA | PC Medics 911

ransomware-virus-removalAlert: Petya Ransomware May Be the Worst YetinShareRansomware is such a popular method of attack used by hackers that new variants of it pop up every few months. Among these is Petya, a nasty new ransomware that masquerades as an unsolicited resume in an organization’s email inbox. Don’t be fooled, though; the only work these hackers are looking for is to work you out of a couple hundred dollars.Once the file has been downloaded, Petya causes a Windows error and forces the system to endure the typical “blue screen of death,” causing a reboot. The computer will then display a red skull and crossbones, and a fraudulent “system check” infects and encrypts the master file table (MFT) with military-grade encryption protocol. This causes the computer to basically forget which files it has, and where they are stored.

Rather than closing access to particular files, Petya completely locks the user out of the system by overwriting the computer’s master boot record. The computer is essentially rendered useless by the user, who can’t even log in. Petya will display a list of demands, as well as how to meet them. As is the case with most ransomware, the ransom must be paid in Bitcoin. Once this has been done, the criminal supplies a decryption key that’s used to regain access to the files.

The initial cost for the decryption key is .99 Bitcoins, which is an estimated $430. However, paying for the decryption key isn’t that simple. Once the user accesses the payment page, they’re given a limited amount of time to access the key before the price is doubled. While there are some websites that claim there are commands that can allow users to skip the lock screen, the MFT will still be encrypted, rendering the files useless. Even if the user pays the ransom, there’s still no guarantee that the decryption key provided by the hackers will work. This is why we always suggest that you don’t pay the ransom, and instead contact a professional technician who can consult you on the situation.

In particular, business owners and human resources representatives who are responsible for the hiring procedure are the preferred targets. Petya is distributed through emails that are disguised as potential job seekers. The message will often contain a hyperlink that redirects to a Dropbox containing a resume, which is really just a Trojan horse containing Petya that’s capable of weaseling its way past your antivirus solution. Petya had been causing significant trouble for German businesses, but a programmer has found a solution. Admittedly, it’s a tricky solution to implement, but it’s still preferable to paying a ransom.

As is the case with most ransomware, your best chance of escaping unscathed is by dodging the attacks altogether. Ransomware is notoriously difficult to crack, even for seasoned IT veterans, but keeping a watchful eye on anything you find on the Internet can help you avoid infections. With PC Medics’ security solutions, you can proactively detect and eliminate threats to your IT infrastructure. To learn more, give us a call at 818-357-2338.

Source: Alert: Petya Ransomware May Be the Worst Yet | Los Angeles, CA | Techmedics

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How to enable Developer Options on your Android phone or tablet | Greenbot

How to enable Developer Options on your Android phone or tablet

More like this

Unlock your Android device’s potential with the Android Debug Bridge (ADB)

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11 simple tips and tricks to get more from your LG G3

Credit: Blake Stimac

By Blake Stimac Follow

Greenbot | Jul 25, 2014 6:00 AM

Android How-To

So you’ve finally decided to root your phone and install a custom ROM, or maybe you want to sideload an app from your computer. Before you can jump into ADB commands and perform some software surgery on your phone, you have to enable the Developer options.

Cleverly hidden away from the average user, enabling Developer options is incredibly easy to do if you know where to look.

Find the Android Build number in Settings

Build number menu for the Samsung Galaxy S5, LG G3, and HTC One (M8)

While enabling Developer Options is done in the same way for every Android phone or tablet, OEMs don’t always put the option in the same place. Navigate your phone to the “Build number” portion of the settings, which can be tucked away and buried in submenus.

Here’s how to get there on a few popular devices:

Stock Android: Settings > About phone > Build number

Samsung Galaxy S5: Settings > About device > Build number

LG G3: Settings > About phone > Software information > Build number

HTC One (M8): Settings > About > Software information > More > Build number

Once you’ve found the Build number section of the settings, tap on the section 7 times. After two taps, a small pop up notification should appear saying “you are now X steps away from being a developer” with a number that counts down with every additional tap.

When the Developer options are unlocked, you should see something like this.

After the 7th tap, the Developer options will be unlocked and available. They can usually be found in the main settings menu. You dive into that menu to do things like enable USB debugging (a frequent prerequisite to lots of hacks).

Developer options for the Samsung Galaxy S5, LG G3, and HTC One (M8).

Removing Developer options is possible, but only for certain phones

So you want to get rid of the developer options in the settings menu of your phone? Well, the sad truth is that the only sure-fire way to do this is to perform a factory reset. Luckily, a few phones can kill off the extra settings menu without wiping the phone completely.

Clearing the Settings data will remove Developer options for some phones and tablets.

If you have a phone with stock Android or the HTC One (M8), Developer options can be removed completely from your phone without wiping it. Sorry, Galaxy S5 and LG G3 users, you’re gonna need to either live with the extra menu or wipe your phone.

Go to Settings>Apps>Settings and tap on Clear Data. A popup will ask you to confirm, press OK, and you’re done. This method may work with more phones and tablets, so be sure to let us know in the comments below if it worked for you.

Blake Stimac — Staff Writer

Blake has been an Android fan since the G1 days, tinkering with any device he can get his hands on. When he’s not geeking out on Android devices, you’ll likely find him playing video games or watching a laundry list of horror movies.

via How to enable Developer Options on your Android phone or tablet | Greenbot.

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Phone unlocking bill clears US House, next step is president’s signature

iphone-unlocking

LEGALphones , smartphonesPhone unlocking bill clears US House, next step is president’s signatureMartyn [email protected]_williams Jul 25, 2014 1:22 PMe-mailprintA bill that allows consumers to unlock their cellphones for use on other carriers passed its last hurdle in Congress on Friday, opening the way for it to become law once it is signed by President Obama.Senate Bill 517 overturns a January 2013 decision by the Congressional Librarian that ruled the unlocking of phones by consumers fell afoul of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act DMCA. It had previously been permitted under an exception to the anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA, which are generally aimed at cracking of digital rights management technology.Cellphones and smartphones are typically supplied to consumers with a software lock that restricts their use to a single wireless carrier. Removing that lock—the process of “unlocking” the phone—means it can be used on the networks of competing carriers. In the U.S., this is most often done with handsets that work on the AT&T or T-Mobile networks, which share a common technology, but is also popular with consumers who want to take their phones overseas and use foreign networks rather than roaming services.The Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act has made fast progress through Congress. It was passed by the Senate on July 16, just a week after it was passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee, and on Friday by unanimous vote in the House of Representatives. It now waits to be signed into law.In addition to making the unlocking process legal under copyright law, the bill also directs the librarian of Congress to determine whether other portable devices with wireless capability, such as tablets, should be eligible for unlocking. “It took 19 months of activism and advocacy, but we’re finally very close to consumers regaining the right to unlock the phones they’ve legally bought,” said Sina Khanifar, who organized an online petition that kicked off the push to have the Library of Congress decision overturned. The petition attracted more than 114,000 signatures on the White House’s “We The People” site. In its response to the petition, the Obama administration called for the legalization of cell phone unlocking.“I’m looking forward to seeing this bill finally become law—it’s been a long road against powerful, entrenched interests—but it’s great to see citizen advocacy work,” Khanifar said in a statement. 0inShare0For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.

via Phone unlocking bill clears US House, next step is president’s signature | PCWorld.

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How to fix jerky YouTube video in GoogleChrome

How to fix jerky YouTube video in Google Chrome

 

Lately I’ve noticed that whenever I play a YouTube video on my PC, it’s jerky. Choppy. Call it what you will—it’s really frustrating.

Semi-expert troubleshooter that I am, I did what I always do when experiencing a problem inside my browser: I tried a different browser. Specifically, I switched out of Chrome and into Internet Explorer.

And what do you know? Silky-smooth YouTube video. Google Chrome, j’accuse! 

After a little research into the issue, I discovered a fix—one that worked for me. Your mileage may vary, of course, because each system and situation is different, but it’s definitely worth a try if you’re plagued by the same choppy playback in Chrome. Do this:

1. Open a new tab in Chrome.

2. In the address bar, type about:plugins, then press Enter.

3. In the upper-right corner of the window, locate and click the plus sign next to Details.

4. Look for Adobe Flash Player, which on my system was the top entry. Immediately below that, you should see two Shockwave Flash entries. Look at the Location lines for both; you want the one that references PepperFlash. (Again, on my system, this was the first of the two. It looked like this:

C:\Users\Aspire8950\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\Application\ 24.0.1312.52\PepperFlash\pepflashplayer.dll)

5. Once you find that entry, click Disable.

6. Exit Chrome, wait a few seconds for it to fully terminate, and then restart it.

Now your YouTube videos should play much more smoothly. (If you run into playback problems, you may need to reinstall Adobe Shockwave. I didn’t encounter this issue, but a few users reported it.)

Contributing Editor Rick Broida writes about business and consumer technology. Ask for help with your PC hassles at [email protected], or try the treasure trove of helpful folks in the PCWorld ForumsSign up to have the Hassle-Free PC newsletter e-mailed to you each week.

via ▶HowtofixjerkyYouTubevideoinGoogleChromeTechHive.

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Cryptolocker Ransomware: What You Need To Know | Malwarebytes Unpacked

Cryptolocker Ransomware: What You Need To Know

Update 12/20/2013: A new version of Cryptolocker—dubbed Cryptolocker 2.0—has been discovered by ESET, although researchers believe it to be a copycat of the original Cryptolocker after noting large differences in the program’s code and operation. You can read the full blog comparing the two here.

Original story:

Just last month, antivirus companies  discovered a new ransomware known as Cryptolocker.

This ransomware is particularly nasty because infected users are in danger of losing their personal files forever.

cryptolocker

Spread through email attachments, this ransomware has been seen targeting companies through phishing attacks.

Cryptolocker will encrypt users’ files using asymmetric encryption, which requires both a public and private key.

The public key is used to encrypt and verify data, while private key is used for decryption, each the inverse of the other.

Below is an image from Microsoft depicting the process of asymmetric encryption.

assemcrypto

The bad news is decryption is impossible unless a user has the private key stored on the cybercriminals’ server.

Currently, infected users are instructed to pay $300 USD to receive this private key.

Infected users also have a time limit to send the payment. If this time elapses, the private key is destroyed, and your files may be lost forever.

Files targeted are those commonly found on most PCs today; a list of file extensions for targeted files include:
3fr, accdb, ai, arw, bay, cdr, cer, cr2, crt, crw, dbf, dcr, der, dng, doc, docm, docx, dwg, dxf, dxg, eps, erf, indd, jpe, jpg, kdc, mdb, mdf, mef, mrw, nef, nrw, odb, odm, odp, ods, odt, orf, p12, p7b, p7c, pdd, pef, pem, pfx, ppt, pptm, pptx, psd, pst, ptx, r3d, raf, raw, rtf, rw2, rwl, srf, srw, wb2, wpd, wps, xlk, xls, xlsb, xlsm, xlsx

In some cases, it may be possible to recover previous versions of the encrypted files using System Restore or other recovery software used to obtain “shadow copies” of files. The folks at BleepingComputer have some additional insight on this found here.

Removal:

Malwarebytes detects Cryptolocker infections as Trojan.Ransom, but it cannot recover your encrypted files due to the nature of asymmetric encryption, which requires a private key to decrypt files encrypted with the public key.

mbam-detect

In order to make removal even easier, a video was also created to guide users through the process (courtesy of Pieter Arntz).

While Malwarebytes cannot recover your encrypted files post-infection, we do have options to prevent infections before they start.

Users of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Pro are protected by malware execution prevention and blocking of malware sites and servers.

To learn more on how Malwarebytes stops malware at its source, check out thisblog.

Free users will still be able to detect the malware if present on a PC, but will need to upgrade to Pro in order to access these additional protection options.

mbam-pro

Backup:

Also, the existence of malware such as Cryptolocker reinforces the need to back up your personal files.

However, a local backup may not be enough in some instances, as Cryptolocker may even go after backups located on a network drive connected to an infected PC.

Cloud-based backup solutions are advisable for business professionals and consumers alike. Malwarebytes offers Malwarebytes Secure Backup, which offers an added layer of protection by scanning every file before it is stored within the cloud in an encrypted format (don’t worry, you can decrypt these).

mbsb

To find out more on remove Cryptolocker, check out the official removal guide from Malwarebytes.

Update: Adam Kujawa from Malwarebytes gives further insight about Cryptolocker in an interview with Category 5

 

This article was sourced from: Cryptolocker Ransomware: What You Need To Know | Malwarebytes Unpacked.

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How to remove the YAC virus – Removal Guide Yet Another Cleaner | Malware Removal – Software & Tutorials

How to remove the YAC virus – Removal Guide

The YAC virus (also found as YAC Search virus, YACmx virus, YAC Cleaner, Yet Another Cleaner virus, Elex do Brasil Participações Ltda, YAC computer virus, Woodtale virus, and more) is dangerous malware categorized as scareware (rogue software) that is promoted as an unregistered (free) and registered (full) Microsoft Windows cleaner and optimizer tool; however, YAC Cleaner is essentially considered a non-beneficial rogue Windows Optimizer and Antivirusprogram that participates in unethical marketing practices and performs fraudulent, non-beneficial computer scans with highly misleading results in order to create customers and collect user information using scare tactics.

remove YAC virus

YAC promotes a free trial is a that displays misleading information, misleading scan results, including a quick clean scan, deep clean scan, system boost, and more.

Once installed, the non-beneficial YAC cleaning software will begin to perform a scan without authorization. The scan will then claim that there are a numerical amount of problems detected, and will also claim that a certain amount of them are not safe. Most of the time the malicious results shown do not exist on the computer system and is fabricated by the software.

YAC malware also opens internet browser windows and cause unwanted pop-ups to appear, as well as change your homepage, default search engine, and start page causing your internet browsers to constantly start up on and redirect to search.yac.mx and other websites when users search the web, open a browser window, open a new browser tab, and perform similar tasks. In Google Chrome, YAC hijacks the startpage settings, home page settings (as well as causes the home button to appear), and default engine.

YAC pop-up

YAC will also collect and distribute user information manually submitted online while the program is installed or information submitted to the initial party and involved third-parties, as well as what they describe as anonymous usage information (anonymous information can still be used to identify a person or make communications).

YAC will collect complete computing and browser activity. The information collected is often submitted to marketing and mailing lists. Victims have reported excessive email spam from YAC Software and third-parties, as well as junk mail and telephone calls from telemarketers at home.

YAC malware often bundles with third-party adware, spyware, and browser hijackers used to display pop-up ads, banner ads, coupon drop-down ads, and cause browser redirections and start-ups.

YAC.mx and the items they develop and promote are very malicious and have connections to Hong Kong, Brazil, Mexico and other countries. In most cases the items seem to be repackaged and renamed.

YAC Cleaner is confusing and difficult to install for many users.

YAC has also been documented spam commenting and forum spamming many websites, including ours in efforts to promote the product and defame legitimate software used to remove it such as Malwarebytes.

YAC.mx also misleads their web visitors by displaying defamatory and false information about legitimate sources including our website, Botcrawl.com in efforts to create customers via unethical marketing tactics. You can view images of this in the gallery below. Please note, we are not a“malicious thing” that does any harm to anyone, all information displayed on the website is false. There is no need for us to file suit against them at the moment as this patently potrays how unethical their product and website is.

Yac.mx published this post after learning about our research of their product.

How does YAC malware get onto a computer?

YAC Software can be manually and voluntarily downloaded from a variety of locations including download.com, and others; however, most users claim that YAC scareware installed without consent.

YAC also bundles with third-party freeware and shareware.

In some instances YAC scareware may be contracted via advertisements, email spam, and compromised social media content.

   Green Arrow Bullet   How to remove YAC Malware

  1. Automatically remove YAC – Scan for and automatically remove YAC malware
  2. Manually remove YAC – Remove/Uninstall YAC and third-party malware if allowed

1. Automatic YAC removal

Use the instructions below to automatically remove YAC scareware and third-party malware.

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware

1. Install the free or paid version of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware.

Purchase   Download

2. Once Malwarebytes is installed, run the program. If you are using the free version of Malwarebytes you will be prompted to update the database, make sure to do so.

3. On the first tab labeled “Scanner” select the Perform full scan option and click the Scan button to perform a full system scan. Malwarebytes will automatically detect malware infecting the computer system.

Malwarebytes Perform Full Scan

4. Once the malware scan is complete, Malwarebytes may prompt a notice stating malicious objects were detected. Select the malicious objects and click the Remove Selected button to completely remove the malicious files from your computer (the image below shows a file that is NOT selected) or click the Delete button to remove quarantined files.

Malwarebytes Gadgetbox

CCleaner

CCleaner can be used to automatically repair internet browser settings startup up settings, and uninstall stubborn and possibly rogue YAC software.

1. Install the free or paid version of CCleaner by Piriform.

CCleaner Analyze Cleaner

2. Once installed, open the program and navigate to Cleaner > Windows/Applications and click the Analyze button. Afterwards, click the Run Cleaner button on the bottom right of the program interface.

SpeedUpMyPC 2013 start up removal

3. Next, navigate to Tools > Startup and search through each tab starting from windows, internet explorer, etc., all the way to Content Menu, for additional suspicious entries and click Disable and Delete once anything is found. Something to look for might include the title “YAC.”

4. To automatically uninstall YAC and unwanted programs, navigate to the Uninstall tab and located software in the list of installed programs. Uninstall the programs as selected. Keep in mind that the publisher of the program often changes from Elex do Brasil Participações Ltdalocated in Sao Paulo, Brazil to WoodtaleMedia.com and iSafe Virus Removal.

2. Manual YAC removal

Use the instructions below to manually uninstall rogue YAC software using generic removal procedures (if allowed), as well as third-party malware that may have installed alongside rogue Windows optimization software.

How to uninstall YAC (Yet Another Cleaner)

1. Access Windows Start Menu and navigate to the Control Panel.

Uninstall a program

2. Click Uninstall a program or Add and remove a program.

3. In the list of installed programs, search for YAC (Elex do Brasil Participações Ltda) and other potentially unwanted software. Once located, double click the unwanted programs or highlight them in the list and click the Uninstall button.

It is important to stay alert when uninstalling YAC as the process may be difficult. If a prompt appears, click Uninstall YAC, then click the Uninstall button, then choose a reason for uninstalling the malware, and click the new Uninstall button.

Some versions of YAC software do now show buttons when uninstalling the software. If this is the case, viewers have suggested to use the video below as a guideline in order to click the screen in the appropriate locations to perform the appropiate tasks to remove this pesky software.

Related Articles & Troubleshooting

In some cases YAC malware will reinstall itself. If this is the case there are several options to remove Yet Another Cleaner listed below, as well as instructions to remove similar rogue software.

This site’s original source is the following:

How to remove the YAC virus – Removal Guide Yet Another Cleaner | Malware Removal – Software & Tutorials.

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‘Operation Hangover’ hackers exploit latest Windows zero-day – Computerworld

‘Operation Hangover’ hackers exploit latest Windows zero-day

Indian gang ups its game with targeted attacks that rely on malicious Word docs

By Gregg Keizer

November 7, 2013 10:47 AM ET

1 CommentinShare4

Computerworld – The unpatched vulnerability in Windows that Microsoft acknowledged on Tuesday has been used by a known Indian hacker group responsible for earlier "Operation Hangover" attacks, security company Symantec said yesterday.

The gang behind Operation Hangover is believed to be based in India, and the bulk of the first round of cyber-espionage attacks, which were discovered in May, were aimed at its neighbor and long-time adversary Pakistan.

"After analyzing the payloads being used in this attack, we have identified that the targeted emails are part of an attack campaign known as Operation Hangover," Symantec said in a blog, referring to the newest campaign that relies on the Microsoft zero-day vulnerability to hijack and infect Windows PCs.

Microsoft issued a security alert Tuesday, saying that a vulnerability in the TIFF image-format parsing component of Windows was being exploited in attacks aimed at targets in the Middle East and South Asia, the latter region representing countries like India and Pakistan.

The attacks Symantec captured used malicious Word documents attached to emails with subject headings such as "Illegal Authorization for Funds Transfer" and "Problem with Credit September 26th 2013."

It was the first time that the Hangover group has used a zero-day vulnerability in its attacks, Symantec said.

Researcher Haifei Li of security company McAfee was the first to find and report the unpatched bug to Microsoft. The Redmond, Wash., company’s security team was alerted of the vulnerability Oct. 31.

According to Li, the exploit uses multiple XML objects to "spray the heap memory," a technique more than a decade old, to uncover sections of memory suitable for use by the actual attack code.

"It is worth [noting] that this heap-spraying in Office via ActiveX objects is a new exploitation trick which we [haven’t] seen before," Li wrote earlier this week.

Microsoft’s own researchers confirmed the ActiveX-based head-spray tactic in a detailed description published on its Security Research & Defense blog Tuesday.

This article, ‘Operation Hangover’ hackers exploit latest Windows zero-day, was originally published at Computerworld.com.

via 'Operation Hangover' hackers exploit latest Windows zero-day – Computerworld.

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How to Diagnose a Computer Problem: 10 Quick Steps

computer diagnosis

How to Diagnose a Computer Problem
Edited by Cameron, Brandywine, R1zen187, Username152 and 11 others

Many people are faced with everyday computer problems that are easy to fix, but are unable to diagnose the actual problem. While there are many problems a computer will be faced with, this article will tell you where to look for common problems.

EditSteps
1Check the POST. POST stands for Power On Self Test. This is generally the first or second thing that appears on a computer after turning on the power. This appears before the operating system begins to load. The POST will display any problems found with hardware that makes the computer unable to boot, POST may also display problems with hardware that allow the computer to boot, but not operate at its full capacity during operation.

2Notice the load time of the OS (operating system). A longer than usual load time may indicate seek errors (or other errors) in the hard drive.
3Notice any graphics problems once the OS has loaded. Reduced graphics may indicate driver failures or hardware failures with graphic cards.
4Perform an auditory test. An auditory test is an unorthodox, but still effective way of judging how hard a computer is working. With the computer on and running, play any decent length audio file (usually above 30 secs). If the audio is choppy or slow, it usually means that the processor is working at an elevated level, or there is not enough RAM to run all programs loading. Changing the startup sound is a great way to apply this test. Another issue associated with choppy sounds is PIO (Programmed Input/Output) Mode. This affects how the hard drive reads and writes data from a drive. Switching to DMA allows for faster reads and writes, and can sometimes repair choppy audio.
5Check any newly installed hardware. Many operating systems, especially Windows, can conflict with new drivers. The driver may be badly written, or it may conflict with another process. Windows will usually notify you about devices that are causing a problem, or have a problem. To check this use the Device Manager, this can be accessed by entering the Control Panel, clicking the System icon, clicking the Hardware tab, and clicking on Device Manager. Use this to check and arrange the properties of hardware.
6Check any newly installed software. Software may require more resources than the system can provide. Chances are that if a problem begins after software starts, the software is causing it. If the problem appears directly upon startup, it may be caused by software that starts automatically on boot.
7Check RAM and CPU consumption. A common problem is a choppy or sluggish system. If a system is choppy it is good practice to see if a program is consuming more resources than the computer can provide. An easy way to check this is to use the Task Manager, right click on the taskbar select Task Manager, and click the Processes tab. The CPU column contains a number that indicates the percentage of CPU the process is consuming. The Mem Usage column indicates how much memory a process is consuming.
8Listen to the computer, if the hard drive is scratching or making loud noises, shut off the computer and have a professional diagnose the hard drive. Listen to the CPU fan, this comes on a high speed when the CPU is working hard, and can tell you when the computer is working beyond its capacity.
9Run a virus and malware scan. Performance problems can be caused by malware on the computer. Running a virus scan can unearth any problems. Use a commonly updated virus scanner (such as Norton Antivirus or Avast! Antivirus) and a commonly updated malware scanner (such as Spybot Search & Destroy).
10Check for the problem in safe mode. As a last ditch effort, check the problem in safe mode. To enter safe mode, tap F8 repeatedly during POST (this works on most systems). If the problem persists in safe mode, it is a fair bet that the operating system itself is to blame.

This article was taken from the following site: http://www.wikihow.com/Diagnose-a-Computer-Problem

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Ubuntu 13.10 Review: A great Linux desktop gets better | ZDNet

MUST READ: Ubuntu 13.10 Review: A great Linux desktop gets betterTopic: Ubuntu Compare Follow via: RSSEmail Alert98Comments17 Votes19inSharemore +Ubuntu 13.10 Review: A great Linux desktop gets betterSummary: Ubuntu 13.10 may not be the most exciting desktop Linux, but it is very solid and contains many useful new features.By Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols for Linux and Open Source | October 10, 2013 — 17:47 GMT 10:47 PDTMany hardcore desktop fans still havent forgiven Ubuntu for switching to its Unity interface. Others dislike how Canonical, Ubuntus parent company, has gone its own way with such technical issues as working on the Mir display stack instead of the more mainstream Wayland. And, some people dislike how Ubuntu is combining "local" searches with Web searches. So what!Ubuntu 13.10 launches next week. Heres an early review.Heres all that really matters. Back in April 2011, Ubuntus founder, Mark Shuttleworth said that the purpose of Ubuntus new path was "to bring the joys and freedoms and innovation and performance and security that have always been part of the Linux platform, to a consumer audience."  Hes done it.Sure, Ubuntu 13.10 Saucy Salamander, which has just gone into its final release candidate stage, isnt a desktop Linux that a Linux techie who still compiles his or her kernels from source code can love. But, its not meant to be that kind of desktop.See SlideshowUbuntu 13.10: A desktop tourRead moreIts meant to be a Linux desktop that anyone, say my now 81-year old mother-in-law can use. From that standpoint Ubuntu has been a success and this one week from final release version is even more of a win for people who just want to use a computer without tears.To see how it was doing this time, Ive been running the Ubuntu beta and the release candidate on two test systems. The first test box was my 2007 Dell Inspiron 530S, which is powered by a 2.2-GHz Intel Pentium E2200 dual-core processor. This PC has 4GBs of RAM, a 500GB SATA Serial ATA drive, and an Integrated Intel 3100 GMA Graphics Media Accelerator chip set. The second was a 2008-vintage Gateway DX4710. This PC is powered by a 2.5-GHz Intel Core 2 Quad processor, 6GBs of RAM, a 1TB SATA drive, and an Intel GMA 3100 for graphics.Installation was a cinch on all these systems. While I didnt try to install Ubuntu on a system locked down with Windows 8 Secure Boot, there are good instructions on how to put Ubuntu on Windows 8 PCs and other systems that use Unified Extensible Firmware Interface UEFI.One nice new feature about the installation is that during it, youre asked to either login or open a free Ubuntu One cloud service account. Ubuntu One is a Dropbox-like storage service which comes with 5GBs of no-cost storage. The commercial version, at $39.95, gives you 20GBs of storage and music streaming. While this service works hand-in-glove with Ubuntu you can also its storage from Windows, Mac OS, Android and iOS.The first thing I noticed once I had it installed was that on both of these older systems, Ubuntu 13.10 ran like a top. If you have an older PC of your own and youre concerned about its fast approaching XP expiration date, keep in mind that Ubuntu, and other easy-to-use Linux distributions such as Mint run just fine on hardware that Windows 7 and above might find too slow.Looking under the hood, heres what I found. First, the Saucy Salamander is running the Linux 3.11 kernel.

via Ubuntu 13.10 Review: A great Linux desktop gets better | ZDNet.

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Hacking Smart Homes

Hacking Smart Homes

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Kashmir Hill, a reporter for Forbes, found out just how easy it is to hack a smart home. By “Googling a very simple phrase,” Hill was presented with a list of homes with automation systems from a well-known company. “[The] systems had been made crawl-able by search engines,” says Hill, and because the now discontinued systems didn’t require users to have a username or password the search engine results, once clicked, allowed her full control of the system. Hill contacted two of the homes she found online and, once she had asked for permission, demonstrated her ability to switch on and off lights in the homes. Hill also had the ability to control a range of other devices in the homes. This is just one example of the potential security issues surrounding home automation systems.

Home automation, the automation of things like lighting, heating, door and window locks, and security cameras  is a relatively new, but rapidly growing market currently worth US$1.5 billion in the US alone. But as with any new technology, there will inevitably be potential security risks.

Security researchers will give two separate presentations at the Black Hat 2013 security conference on security vulnerabilities in home automation systems. One of the presentations will discuss a vulnerability in a proprietary wireless protocol, Z-wave, that is used in a range of embedded devices such as home automation control panels, security sensors, and home alarm systems. The flaw allows for the encrypted communication of a Z-wave device to be intercepted and used to disable other Z-wave devices. A second talk, ‘Home Invasion 2.0,’ will present vulnerabilities discovered after several popular home automation systems were looked at. “We looked over somewhere in the range of 10 products and only found one or two that we couldn’t manage to break. Most didn’t have any security controls at all,” said Daniel Crowley of SpiderLabs. Many of the devices allow the user to download an app for their phone that allows them to control the automated system remotely. The researchers found that many systems used no authentication when communicating between the mobile device and the home system, creating opportunities for a malicious actor to take control.

Approximately three percent of homes in the US currently have home automation systems installed, but that number is set to grow, with some analysts projecting an increase that will see it reach double digits in the next few years.

In the rush to adopt new and exciting technology, keeping that technology secure may sometimes be placed low on the list of priorities. Hopefully, the vulnerabilities uncovered by this and other research will help highlight the importance of good security.

This article was found at the following link:
Hacking Smart Homes | Symantec Connect Community
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