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Windows 8.1 installation media
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Windows 8.1 Installation Media Creation Tool

Windows 8.1 installation mediaOK, so similar to our last Blog Post about a Microsoft Website that allows you to create a Windows 7 Install Disk, this Post is about another “Handy To Know About Web Page” from Microsoft.

This time however, instead of it being about the ability to create a Windows 7 Installation Disk, this website allows you to create a Windows 8.1 Disk.

So once again, if you have lost your original Installation Disk for Windows 8.1, or you never had one to begin with, or you need to make a bootable USB Drive, then you need to use the Windows Installation Media Creation Tool.

How to create your Windows 8.1 Media

When you click on the “Create Media” button, you will be prompted to download an executable file (which when “run”), will prompt you for your chosen Language, which Edition (ie. 8.1, 8.1 Pro etc), and what Architecture (ie. 32 bit or 64 bit). From here you will be asked whether you want to save to a USB Drive, or save as an ISO file. The file is quite large, so again be careful that you don’t exceed your plan data usage if you are on a Limited or Mobile Data Plan.

It is all very easy to follow, and the only issue I can see would be the End User’s ability to create a DVD from the ISO file.

So once again, as in our previous Blog Post, if you do not have the appropriate  software to burn a DVD from an ISO file, you can download the burning software from the Microsoft suggested website. Don’t forget that just as we mentioned in the last article, you will still need to download the Drivers from the manufacturers website for your specific hardware. If you have trouble doing this, or you are not sure how to go about it, Spotty Dog Computer Services can of course do this for you.

You may also be interested in how to Create a Windows 7 Installation Disk.

 

Windows 7 Recovery Medi
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Create a Windows 7 installation disk using the Microsoft Software Recovery website

Windows 7 Recovery MediWell here is a handy website to know about.

I don’t know how many times a customer has come to us, either wanting their Windows 7 PC or Laptop wiped and reinstalled, or it has needed repairing using Recovery Media, but they do not have their Recovery Media or a Windows 7 Disk.

Now this isn’t a particularly big problem for us because we have access to Windows OEM Disks, but for the End User, not having the Recovery Media is a huge problem that means they have no other choice but to pay someone to do it for them.

What to do if you don’t have Windows 7 Recovery Media

Help is at hand. By visiting the Microsoft Software Recovery website, the End User can download the ISO file required to burn their own Recovery Media disk. The size of the disk will be somewhere between 2GB and 3.5GB, so if you are on a limited Internet Plan or a Mobile Internet Plan, just be careful you do not exceed your download limit.

Microsoft even provide a link for software to burn a DVD from an ISO file if you don’t have suitable software installed to do that yourself. Once you have the software and a valid Product Key, you’re off and running.

The website also allows you to create a bootable USB drive with a copy of Windows 7 on it.

All-in-all, a very handy thing to know if you never had a disk, or you have damaged your disk. As we all know, it is impossible to reinstall or even undertake some really easy repairs without a Recovery Disk or Windows 7 Media.

Of course there will be some End Users that will still have difficulties installing Windows 7 even if they do have the disk. For example, you will still need to download the Windows Drivers from the appropriate hardware manufacturers websites. But if that is the case, Spotty Dog Computer Services can certainly do that for you 😉

Microsoft Office Comparison Table
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Microsoft Office Comparisons

Usually when we build a new computer, or supply a new Laptop, the question is asked, would you like Microsoft Office with that?

Invariably the customer will say yes, to which we would reply, which version would you like?

To which the customer will reply, I didn’t know there were different versions.

And we would then respond with, yes there are several versions. You have Office 365 Personal & Home Premium, and Office Home & Student and Office Home & Business and Office Pro.

The conversation would then turn to all the differences of one version over the other.

As you can imagine, that is time consuming, and potentially confusing for the customer.

So in an effort to decrease both the time and confusion, here is a brief description of the differences, supported with an image that graphically displays those differences.

Office 365

Office 365 is a subscription based offering from Microsoft.

That is to say, you pay a yearly subscription fee.

The advantage of this is that you will always have the most up to date version of the Office applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint etc).

There are two versions of Office 365. They are 365 Personal and 365 Home Premium.

The only difference between Office 365 Personal and Home Premium is that the Personal version can only be installed on 1 PC/Mac and the Home Premium version can be installed on 5.

Both versions include Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher and Access, and both have a 1 Yr subscription term.

Office Home & Student vs Office Home & Business vs Pro

All of these versions of Microsoft Office are Disk Based, with no subscription.

All can only be installed on 1 PC/Mac.

All include Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.

In addition to these Applications, Office Home & Business includes Outlook.

And Office Pro includes Outlook, Publisher & Access.

Microsoft Office Comparison Table

Microsoft Office Comparison TableIf you would like to purchase Microsoft Office, it is available in our Online Shop.

 

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How to Spot Fake Anti-Virus Software

fake-antivirusThis is a very good article on Fake Anti-virus software and it’s implications.

Take the time to read it and you may prevent the pain of Identity Theft and Credit Card Fraud!!!

Article by Sue Marquette Poremba

Fake anti-virus (AV) software is a pain in the rear. It’s annoying as all get-out. And it can do a lot of damage to your computer. Just when you think you’ve figured out that it’s fake, the bad guys make changes.

If you’re lucky enough to have never experienced fake AV, it usually arrives as a piece of malware that pops up on your screen with a dire warning that your computer is infested with viruses — a lot of them.

If you click on the button, it offers to download the AV software to “clean” your computer. But that’s not a good idea.

“There are many versions of fake AV currently circulating on the Internet today,” said Raul Alvarez, senior security researcher for Fortinet’s FortiGuard Labs in Sunnyvale, Calif. “While there are different variations, styles and names, they all share a common feature set.”

Anatomy of a scam

The first feature is a professional-looking graphical user interface that makes it look like a legitimate anti-virus application. Once the fake AV gets into a user’s computer system, it launches the interface and pretends to begin “scanning” the computer.

Once the “scan” is finished, fake AV typically tells the user that the system is riddled with malicious software

Next comes the crucial part: The fake AV wants payment in order to “clean” the system of all that bogus malware.

But don’t enter that credit-card information. Once you do, all that data gets shipped off to Eastern Europe or Brazil, and you immediately become a prime candidate for identity theft.

Even worse, some fake AV loads real malware, meaning you’ve just paid to have your computer infected, and others log your keystrokes or try to steal other information from your machine.

[8 Security Basics the Experts Want You to Know]

The new breed

Alvarez and his colleagues recently found a new variant of fake AV that’s got a brand-new look. They’ve given it the catchy name of W32/FakeAV.RA!tr.

“Once the malware is installed, an infected user receives a warning message that reads the software has discovered a spyware infection,” Alvarez said.

The warning balloon looks like it’s coming not from some random anti-virus software that you’ve never heard of, but from the real anti-virus package you’ve already installed. That’s pretty sneaky. 

The next part of the scam is par for the course.

“When a user clicks on this warning message, a new application window that resembles a legitimate anti-virus application appears, starts ‘scanning’ the system and begins displaying detected infections,” Alvarez said.

“Once the detection phase is complete, a new window appears that displays the number of infections the software has discovered. The window also includes an option for the user to remove the detected threats or ‘Continue unprotected.’ Common sense dictates a user selects remove the ‘threats.'”

If you continue to click through, you’ll next be asked for your credit-card information and you are taken to a checkout screen. Then things get bad.

“This version of fake AV displays a warning message whenever a user tries launching a program and is particularly nasty as it doesn’t allow a user to launch any applications from their computer,” Alvarez said.

How to protect yourself

Computers are infected with fake AV through infected email attachments, links within emails or social-media links that lead users to malicious sites that automatically infect PCs and Macs via drive-by downloads.

The trick to avoiding fake AV infection is to know what’s already on your system. You should already have genuine anti-virus software that you’ve personally bought or installed.

 Alvarez recommended being familiar with your anti-virus software and to know what it looks like when prompts you for an update, if it isn’t done automatically.

If an update or scan prompt doesn’t match your regular anti-virus software prompt, fake AV has most likely made its way onto your computer.

“Don’t forget, you already paid for the software on your computer,” Alvarez said, “so if you are being asked to pay for something, it is fake.”

If you do end up with fake AV on your system, be assured that you aren’t alone — this is a billion-dollar business for criminals.

First, scan your computer with your legitimate anti-virus software. If it’s blocked by the fake AV, reboot your computer in “safe” mode and scan again.

“In addition, it is advised to do an ‘offline scan,” Alvarez said. “This means a computer should to be scanned and cleaned outside of the full operating system to complete remediation.

“This requires a restart into the Windows Pre-installation Environment (WinPE) to run a scanning utility, such as Windows Defender Offline scan tool,” he added.

Article Source: Security News Daily

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Are Hackers Using Your Webcam to Watch You?

webcam-hacking

 

 

Here is an interesting article about how a hacker can take control of your PC or Laptop web-cam. 

 

 

By Kim Boatman

Steven Fox, an IT security expert, was chatting with friends on his webcam one night when he started receiving some strange emails. Imagine his surprise when he opened one and found images of himself chatting.

His webcam had been hacked by a “script kiddie,” a person who uses malware written by someone else to show off their skills at accessing other computer systems, says Fox. He quickly detached the webcam, but he had to reinstall his operating system after he found malware installed on his computer. “It was painful, but it was a learning experience,” says Fox, who writes a column for the journal of the Information Systems Security Association.

The Risks of Web-cams
Webcams may let you stay in touch with friends and family, but they also pose risks of people hacking into them and spying on you. A Pennsylvania lawsuit accused a school district of using webcams on school-issued laptops to spy on students and their families. And in 2009 in China, a sophisticated network of hackers known as GhostNet cracked 1,295 webcams in 103 countries.

Since most laptops now come with a built-in webcam, it’s critical to understand the risks, says Richard Stiennon, a malware expert with IT-Harvest, a research firm that specializes in Internet security. “We all have to become aware that our every action could be watched,” says Stiennon.

How Hackers Attack Web-cams
Most hackers utilize so-called Trojan horse attacks, says Stiennon. You click on an attachment or download a piece of music or video infected with malware, and a hacker is able to remotely control your PC’s functions.

Fortunately, you can take steps to secure your webcam. Experts offer these do’s and dont’s:

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  • Don’t click on suspicious attachments. You’ve heard it before, but too often we click without thinking. Email attachments remain a prime source for malware. Be wary of those supposedly funny emails forwarded by friends and family. You should also avoid suspicious sites offering free downloads of music, TV shows or videos.
  • Do use a firewall. “Firewalls provide a measure of protection against unwanted traffic,” explains Fox. Your computer comes with a firewall, but you need to make sure it’s turned on. If you use a Windows operating system, click on the Windows symbol in the lower-left corner of your screen, search for Windows Firewall, and you’ll be able to check the firewall settings. If you use a Mac OS, open System Preferences, click on the Sharing icon, select the Firewall tab and click Start.
  • Do use strong antivirus software. Install a security suite that offers malware and spyware protection, then make sure you keep the protection up-to-date.
  • Don’t keep PCs with web-cams in bedrooms. Limit webcam use to high-traffic areas, and remind family members not to do anything in front of a webcam they wouldn’t want the world to see.
  • Do secure your wireless connection. Make sure your wireless connection is protected with a unique password (not the default one that came with the router).
  • Don’t talk to strangers. Avoid IM conversations with people you don’t know, and advise your kids to do the same.
  • Do be cautious about accepting tech help. Would-be hackers have been known to ingratiate themselves with acquaintances by offering computer help. But that gives them the chance to rig web-cams so they can spy on the computer user.
  • Do look for the indicator light. On external web-cams, you’ll usually see a red light indicating the camera is on. Laptops with internal webcams usually have an LED indicator too. If you use an external webcam, simply detach it from the USB port when it’s not in use.

[/unordered_list]

In the end, your best bet is to use a decidedly low-tech solution, say the experts. “The ultimate security control is to cover the lens,’’ says Fox. If your webcam doesn’t come with a lens cover, use an adhesive bandage or even a yellow sticky note to cover it up. (Just make sure nothing sticky is touching the lens itself, so you don’t damage it.) “It sounds silly, but it gives you positive feedback that no one is spying on you,” says Stiennon.

Kim Boatman is a Silicon Valley, Calif., journalist who writes about security and technology. She spent more than 15 years writing about a variety of topics for the San Jose Mercury News.

Article Source: yoursecurityresource.com

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Internet Crime and Taxes are two of life’s certainties

cybercrime-freakingnewscom[1]

 

 

 

AVG (AU/NZ) reminds consumers and small businesses to be alert to the latest online scams and phishing attacks targeting this tax return season.

 

 

 

MELBOURNE, 13 June 2012 — Ahead of this year’s tax return season, AVG (AU/NZ) Pty Ltd, distributor of AVG Technologies’ award-winning AVG Internet and mobile security software in Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific, alerts consumers and small businesses to the latest attempts by cyber criminals to gain access to lucrative identity and financial information. With upwards of 2.5 million individuals using the Australian Tax Office’s e-Tax electronic tax return service, cyber criminals have a huge, potentially receptive audience for their activities. Security Advisor at AVG (AU/NZ), Michael McKinnon, said: “Internet crime and taxes are now two of life’s certainties. Cyber criminals are starting to release this year’s crop of end of financial year scams to trick taxpayers into revealing highly valuable personal and financial information. As younger members of the community join the workforce and others shift from paper-based to online tax return processes, there is always a new audience for inventive tax season scams.” There’s a certain inevitability about June 30: it will bring new ways to scam the unwary and new phishing frauds asking for your credit card details including: [unordered_list style=”tick”]

  • Offers of government grants needing to make payments prior to the end of the financial year.
  • Prompts for baby bonus applications.
  • Assistance to find lost superannuation funds.
  • Notification that your company tax rate has changed.

[/unordered_list] The Government’s SCAMWatch website is currently alerting Australians to be aware of Carbon Price scams seeking your personal banking details to pay carbon tax compensation into your bank account or offering to sell you fake carbon credits. Many of us now communicate directly with tax advisors via email so other tricks include sending phishing emails that ask you to open what appear to be legitimate attachments to fill out personal details. The simple act of clicking on that attachment could redirect you to a malicious website, or deliver to your computer an infection that could launch an attack on your accounts and extract financial details. McKinnon said: “When you consider all the information included in your return – your tax file number, details of investments, retirement accounts, employment, the property you own – in the hands of cyber criminals, your identity and more could be at risk. And if you see an offer that looks too good to be true – avoid it. Any offer of an online refund will absolutely be a scam because that’s not how the ATO or any other Australian government agency operates.” Some top tips to help you safely file your tax return this year:[unordered_list style=”tick”]

  • Use the end of financial year to review your personal or business online security systems to ensure your protection is fully and automatically up to date – on all computers, phones, other mobile technologies, plus USB and other memory devices from which you will gather, store and send your financial information.
  • Do your homework by reviewing the ATO and SCAMWatch online security pages.
  • In communicating with your tax advisor, consider creating a password protected Zip file of your financial data.
  • Always open your e-Tax filing directly from the ATO’s site (www.ato.gov.au); never click through to the site from an email invitation. The filing of tax returns directly via the ATO’s e-Tax service is secure.
  • Always use a trusted WiFi or Ethernet connection from your home or office to file your tax return – never use a public WiFi without a firewall in place and Internet security installed.
  • Be cautious of anything that you haven’t directly requested and only respond to those communications you’ve initiated.
  • Delete all related emails from your server once you’ve filed your return.
  • While the ATO uses emails and SMS for service alerts, it will never request the confirmation, update or disclosure of confidential personal details. If you receive suspect communication from ‘the ATO’ or any other ‘government department’, do not click on any links in an email or answer phone questions. Report it immediately to the ATO.

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Tax Time Cyber Crime Assistance[unordered_list style=”tick”]

  • Examples of current Tax Refund scams: http://www.ato.gov.au/onlinesecurity
  • e-Tax Essentials from the ATO site: http://www.ato.gov.au/etax
  • The Australian Government’s cybersecurity website, Stay Smart Online, provides information for Australian Internet users on the simple steps they can take to protect their personal and financial information online.
  • Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)’s SCAMWatch provides information to consumers and small businesses about how to recognise, avoid and report scams.

[/unordered_list]

Original Article http://www.avg.com.au/news/tax-scams/

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How To Enable or Disable “AutoRun” for removable media

AutoRun can be enabled or disabled for all Removable media types, such as a Floppy or Zip disk, and USB Flash Drives. This is useful to know because removable media can easily be infected with viruses and spyware that is configured to install when removable media is inserted into the PC. Windows systems are configured to enable CD Notification, other removable media are by default disabled, but if for some reason they aren’t, then it is a good idea to disable them.

The System Properties User Interface only exposes the CD Enable or Disable option. The setting reflected in this dialog makes an entry in the System Registry. It is in this same location that other media types are configured.

Notes:

1. Modifying the Registry is not for the inexperienced user. Anyone will tell you to, be VERY careful.

2. The modifications shown below use Hexadecimal not Decimal numbers. If you are unfamiliar with the Registry or Hexadecimal, looking into these topics prior to making these modifications is advisable.

To Modify the following Registry Settings, Use “Regedit” and navigate to the following Key:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER

Software

Microsoft

Windows

CurrentVersion

Policies

Explorer

“NoDriveTypeAutoRun”

The default value for the setting is 95 0 0 0. Change the first byte to 91. Restart the computer to make the new setting take effect. You may have to right-click on the floppy and choose AutoPlay from the menu to see the AutoPlay behavior.