Thursday, January 30, 2014

Process Explorer 16 with VirusTotal

Process Explorer is a freeware task manager and system monitor by Sysinternals used to manage processes on Windows operating systems.

Windows Sysinternals has released Process Explorer 16 with VirusTotal integration. This adds the ability to easily check suspicious or unknown processes running on Windows computers with the database.

Note: The VirusTotal results will show in Process Explorer to the right of the process. The first time you use the VirusTotal option you will have to agree to the VirusTotal Terms of Service.

There are a few different options for checking the VirusTotal database from within the Process Explorer GUI.

1) Right-click any process and select 'Check VirusTotal'. Process Explorer then submits the file hash and displays the results.

2) Open Process Explorer and in the upper right corner click Options > > Check Process Explorer then will check all running processes and loaded DLLs with and displays the results.

For the total geek experience check out the full Microsoft Windows Sysinternals Suite.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Is Google Chrome spying on you?

The recent news of multiple Google Chrome add-ons actually being adware hosts has put the browser in a position to not only spy on users but to be exploited by malware by silent remote updates to the add-ons.

According to, once ownership of the extension is transferred, the new owners can issue an ad-filled update over Chrome's update service, which sends the adware out to every user of that extension.

There was a new add-on released for Google Chrome called Chrome Protector that will let you know if you are running one of the Chrome add-ons that has been flagged as adware but was soon removed from the Google Chrome Web Store. Chrome Protector is now back in the Google Chrome Web Store but under a new name. Shield for Chrome in the Chrome Web Store.

 More information:

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Anonymous search engines?

Recently I have seen a lot of questions on the use of anonymous search engines or non-tracking search engines. These "anonymous" search engines don't collect user data like Google, Bing and most other search engines so people have a feeling of anonymity when using them. That sound great but it's a false feeling of anonymity. Here are a few things to always keep in mind when you are using the internet.

Just because the search engine you are using does not store your search records like how Google stores them does not mean that you are anonymously searching the internet. Same goes for 'do not track' features in browsers. Just because the browser does not store your internet history or blocks websites from "following" your surfing behavior does not mean you are invisible! You may be a little more secure but you are far from anonymous.

Invisible? Not on the internet! Invisibility on the internet is a big myth. Privacy on the internet is also a myth. Nothing you type in any search engine is actually private and while not perfect, Google and Bing are the best search engines. Period. "Anonymous" search engines still log and store your searches because they have to. If they didn't then when you searched for something the results that came back would just be to random websites. All search engines use a search algorithm and that requires storing your search information. You can be a bit more secure from the people around you finding out what you have been up to, maybe, but the word private is a bunch of BS. Everything you do online is logged by some server, somewhere. You can't get around that!

Are you considering using an anonymous search engine for something illegal? All it takes is a court order and these 'private' search engines have the ability to turn over search records. I guarantee it! It does take a court order (as far as I know) for anyone to obtain search records so like the saying goes. Don't do anything wrong or illegal and you don't have anything to worry about.

So, anonymous isn't the right word. Secure is a better word because you are never anonymous when you are using the internet. Google, Bing and many others make a lot of money from advertising and logging search information is one way they target ads at us. They don't much care about your name and address. What they really want is to get people to click on ads and spend money. I would also venture to say that the tracking your ISP does on you is much more to worry about then what Google or Bing is doing. But that's just me.

The internet was never meant to be private. It's an important fact that has largely been forgotten or ignored over time but the public internet or World Wide Web was created and marketed around the ability to publicly SHARE information, not hide it.

The internet can be a fun, productive and meaningful experience. Think first and don't do anything stupid or illegal while online or offline. Have fun, be safe and always use a good antivirus. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Have you been pwned?

What is pwned? Pwned, also typed as pwnd is internet slang derived from the words own or owned, as meaning to conquer or to gain ownership over someone. It basically means "to own" or to be dominated by someone or something.

Have I been pwned? is a website that lets you check to see if your email account or online username has been compromised, stolen or more commonly known as "hacked."

Just visit and enter your details in the search box and click 'pwned?' The results normally come back very fast and hopefully you will see the "Good news — no pwnage found!" message. Check as many email accounts or online usernames as you would like.

Now what if you do a search and get the "Oh no — pwned on X sites!" message? This can be alarming but it does not immediately indicate that your email account or online username has been compromised. Just scroll down to see the reason(s) given for the alert. If you have an account on a website that is publicly viewable and that website has had security issues in the past you may want to go to the given website and create a new password. Reputable websites that have had security issues will have fixed the problem and creating a new password should be enough to keep your account safe.

If your account has been hacked then you should still try to change the password. As long as your email address is still active on the account then changing the password will keep the hacker out and they will have to re-hack the account if they want back in. A strong password will keep most accounts safe.

How to create a strong password suggestions:

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Internet of Things

 Today I learned a few new new phrases and they are an indication of where the world is headed as well as how the future of technology will eventually impact our daily lives.

'The Internet of Things' (or IoT for short) refers to uniquely identifiable objects and their virtual representations in an Internet-like structure.

'Digital watermarking'. A digital watermark is a kind of marker covertly embedded in a noise-tolerant signal such as audio or image data. It is typically used to identify ownership of the copyright of such signal.

'The Internet of Things' has the potential to embed 'personally identifiable information' (PII) technology not just into our computers and internet connected devices but into literally everything we use or wear. Many household items already have technology that allows us remote control from anywhere in the world. Things like refrigerators, thermostats, washers and dryers, garage door openers and so on. 'Radio-frequency identification' (RFID) tags is technology most of us are aware of. We can even put RFID tags on or in our pets so they can easily be identified and returned home when or if they get lost.

Imagine this new technology being in everything from our shirt to our shoes and I think we can see just where the world is headed. Some people may be okay with it and I'm sure companies are already working on how to market such clothing. They can say it's to help understand their customers habits so they can produce better products down the road and that may be true but what about the bad guys? Reality check, please. 100,000 smart devices, including a refrigerator, used in Internet of Things (IoT) cyberattack

I love technology but when I see reports like that it brings home just how wrong things can go if we aren't careful. We are slowly trusting companies to play a bigger part in our lives but we also need to keep security in the front. Technology makes everyones live easier, bad guys included.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Do Not Call Registry scam

 There have been recent reports of a phone scam where the crooks are posing as Do Not Call Registry employees. Here is a hint. If you get a call from The National Do Not Call Registry, HANG UP!

This isn't the first time the scam has been reported. In 2013 the Better Business Bureau released an article with the details of how the scam works. See here: Don’t be Fooled by Do Not Call Registry Scam

The real Do Not Call Registry website has all of the information you need for registering. That website can be found here:

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Google Opt-Out Settings

Google+ is a social networking and identity service that Google is constantly working to improve. Google is also constantly working to increase the number of users and traffic to Google+ and those efforts come in the form of fewer restrictions on G+ user accounts. If you have a Google account then you most likely have a G+ account. Here are a few ways to lock down your account so Google can not freely target advertising with information found in your account and so Google and other people can not see and share your profile information.

Opt out of shared endorsements
To opt out of shared endorsements, visit the Shared Endorsements page in your settings and scroll to the bottom. Uncheck the box that reads, 'Based upon my activity, Google may show my name and profile photo in shared endorsements that appear in ads.' Then click Save.

Opt out of Google+ email changes
If you don't want Google+ users contacting you, opt out by by visiting your Gmail settings page and click the General tab. Find the setting 'Email via Google+' and click the drop down menu. You can choose to receive email from anyone on Google+ including extended circles, circles, or no one. Select your preferred setting and click Save Changes at the bottom of the page.

Opt out of Google+
Go to your Google+ settings page. At the very bottom is the option 'Disable Google+.' Google will show you a list of data that will be removed if you delete your Google+ account. This includes your posts and comments, your +1s, and your public Google profile. If you consent to what information remains and what is deleted, check the box at the bottom and click 'Remove selected services.'

Stay secure and private
With Google, you have a variety of tools that can help keep you safe and keep your information private and secure. Here are some of our most popular tools that help make Google work better for you.

Opt out of ads
You can opt out of interest-based ads by Google through Ads Settings. When you opt out, you’ll still see ads but they may not be related to factors such as your interests or demographic details.

Save your opt-out preference permanently
With this browser plugin you can permanently opt out of the DoubleClick cookie, which is an advertising cookie that Google uses. The plugin lets you keep your opt-out status for this browser even when you clear all cookies.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

About Android junk file cleaner and RAM boosters

 If you have ever looked in the Google Play Store for an app to "clean" your device then you know that the list of options is very long. But the thing is, do you really need one?

In short. No. You don't. If your device is getting stuck or running slow then just restart it. A restart should clear up any performance issues due to RAM or buggy apps.

Android is not the same as Windows. High memory usage isn't a crucial problem for any Android device using OS 2.2 and higher. RAM is meant to be used on Android. The more free RAM you have, the more is wasted. Android is very good at handling processes and memory with no need for 3rd-party apps. Only use one if you think that the phone is not handling the running processes correctly or maybe an app is stuck running when it shouldn't be. Over using RAM boosters may result in damaging the OS. It would probably take a very specific set of circumstances for the OS to be damaged by over-using a RAM booster but from what I read the risk is there.

The same goes for Android startup managers. I've seen warnings about using them also. If you can't kill an app with the built in Android Application Manager then it's said to not use 3rd party apps and just leave it alone.

If you do insist on using a RAM booster then the best one I have found is Clean Master (Cleaner) - FREE. Just use it sparingly. If your device is running good then don't worry about high RAM usage and trust that Android is doing it's job.

Another good app to have on hand and my 'go-to' app when I think my phone needs a boost is Fast Reboot. I suggested Fast Reboot because all it does is shut down non-crucial apps and sets the device back to the state it's in when it is first turned on or goes through a restart cycle.

If trying everything mentioned above and the device is still acting up you may need to check for OS updates or even consider backing up everything important and do a factory reset.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Unchecky helps you avoid installing adware

Installing software is one of the first things most Windows users learn how to do. Along the way it's probably safe to say that we have all noticed that what we installed included some extra software or worse some adware that was nothing short of frustrating. Unchecky helps you avoid installing adware and extra software but that doesn't mean you can just install Unchecky and experience care free installs.  

It's important to remember to pay attention when installing software! The best method to avoid installing adware is to pay attention during the install process. Don't just click the 'Next' 'OK' and 'Accept' buttons as soon as they appear. Read the terms and uncheck anything that is extra additions to the software you are installing.
Unchecky helps you keep check-boxes un-checked

Using Unchecky as a second line of defense while installing software may just keep you from installing extra baggage in the form of adware or even other software that you were not intending to install but be aware. Unchecky does uncheck unwanted boxes during most installs but it is not 100% foolproof and sometimes misses. Always follow the install process closely and uncheck anything that Unchecky misses.

Visit the Unchecky Homepage for more information and to download the software.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Lightbeam for Firefox

I have seen articles about this add-on but never looked into it until today. It's actually pretty cool complete with an interactive 'Graph View'.
Lightbeam is a Firefox add-on that enables you to see the first and third party sites you interact with on the Web. Using interactive visualizations, Lightbeam shows you the relationships between these third parties and the sites you visit.