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Speed Tests: Windows 8 vs. Windows 7

With the last pre-release version of Windows 8 in hand, PCMag decided it was time to compare Microsoft’s next OS with its last.

Here is their summary of test results.

Article by Michael Muchmore

We’ve heard it before: The next version of Windows is going to start up way faster and run faster than the last. With Windows 7, we were told that we could expect 15 second boot times, but that sure hasn’t been my experience. With Windows 8, it looks like the claims are for real: In using the Windows 8 Developer, Consumer, and Release Previews, I’ve noticed a huge improvement in startup times. No longer do you have to wait for nearly a minute just to log into a typical PC.

And the company has stated that it’s working on reducing another big source of waiting time: Updates. If you don’t use a Windows 7 PC for a week or so, chances are that you’ll have to wait a few minutes for it to download and install updates, and you’ll probably have to go through a second reboot. This is less of a problem for PCs that are left on all the time (to the detriment of energy conservation), which is the case for most business PCs.

In addition to startup and shutdown times, I wanted to compare performance of Windows 8 with that of Windows 7 on some other measures. I used PCMark, Geekbench, and three browser benchmarks. I also timed how long it took to copy large files and encode a video project.
 
I first installed a fresh clean copy of Windows 7 Ultimate (64-bit) on a Toshiba Portege R835-P88 laptop (a PCMag Editors’ Choice) with a 2.5GHz Core i5-2450M chip, 6GB of RAM, a 500GB hard drive, and an Intel HD Graphics 3000 integrated graphics processor. I ran all the tests, and then installed a clean copy of Windows 8 (64 bit) on the same hardware. For each OS, I made sure all updates had been installed.
 
Startup and Shutdown Times

Few performance issues are more important than how long it takes your computer to start up and be ready to use. Windows 8 makes bigger advances in this yardstick than any operating system in memory. Of course, our tests involved clean OS installations, and startup time can be affected by apps you install that load code during startup, such as antivirus. But this, too, is more of a problem for Windows 7, since Windows 8 saves the system state and memory contents to a file on disk, and simply reloads it on reboot, rather than initiating everything all over again.

Another factor for the new OS is behavioral—it’s designed to encourage the user to “sleep” the machine rather than completely shutting it down when use finishes. And, maybe most importantly, with newer hardware that uses a UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) hardware boot process and SSD hard drives, you’ll see even more drastic startup speed boosts. But even without all this, my startup results showed that the upgrade reduced startup time to less than half that of Windows 7. Shutdown time was improved, but not by such a wide margin.

Large file set move
One of the few improvements to the traditional Desktop interface that lurks beneath Windows 8’s newfangled Metro user interface is file moving and copying in Windows Explorer. It’s not just the cosmetics of the added ribbon atop the Explorer that’s been changed: Now, when you copy or move multiple files simultaneously, you’ll also see an information box showing each operation’s progress, with an optional throughput graph. To test file-move performance I used a USB 2.0 thumb drive loaded with 500MB of 81 large files of mixed types. I also tried a single large file of just under 1GB.

The newer OS also did a better job predicting how long the move operation would take. Though these tests didn’t show a speed improvement (presumably because it’s a hardware-constrained test), when I tried copying the same files to another folder, it was nearly instant, whereas in Windows 7 I had to wait the same time for the file to move again.

Geekbench 
Geekbench 2.3, from Primate Labs, runs a series of geeky tests like prime number, Mandelbrot, blowfish encryption, text compression, image sharpen and blur, and memory stream test. The subtests comprise both single- and multithreaded applications. The results are normalized so that a score of 1,000 is the score a Power Mac G5 1.6GHz, so a higher number is better.

I ran both the 32-bit and 64-bit tests in Geekbench three times and took the average for each OS. Mostly designed to test hardware, Geekbench didn’t show much change between OS versions. But it’s encouraging that this test version of Windows 8 was a tad faster, rather than slowing down the benchmark’s operations.

Video Rendering
For a real-world, task-based test, I timed video encoding in Windows Live Movie Maker on both operating systems. I used the same 2-minute movie content (made of three different format clips I created, complete with titles and transitions), and had the program convert it to 720p at a 12.26Mbps bandwidth. Windows 8 posted a slight but encouraging improvement on this test, reducing the time it took from 1 minute and 22 seconds to 1:11.

PCMark Vantage
The PCMark 7 benchmark runs 7 system tests, each designed to represent a certain type of PC usage, including hard disk access, 3D and graphics physics rendering, Web page rendering, file decryption, and multithreading with video, and image manipulation. The benchmark spits out a result in PCMarks, with a higher number equating to better performance. My Windows 8 system showed a significant performance improvement over Windows 7, upping the score by 388 points.

Browser Benchmarks
I tested browser performance in Windows’ native browser Internet Explorer. On Windows 8, that would be version 10, and on Windows 7 I used the latest version available for that OS, IE9. I ran two popular JavaScript benchmarks, SunSpider and Google’s V8 (v.7) as well as a Microsoft test of hardware acceleration, Psychedelic Browsing. I ran the tests in the Desktop version of Windows 8’s Internet Explorer 10 browser.

The improvement on Sunspider and V8 was remarkable: Microsoft has clearly done further optimization on IE10’s JavaScript engine, Chakra. And the Psychedelic Browsing test showed a marked improvement as well, meaning Microsoft has done further work on hardware acceleration in the browser.

Without further ado, my results are presented in the table that follows:

 Windows 7 Utimate
(64-bit)
Windows 8
(64-bit)
Startup
(seconds, lower is better)
3817
Shutdown
(seconds, lower is better)
12.29.9
500MB File Group Move
(seconds, lower is better)
25.229.2
Large Single File Move
(seconds, lower is better)
46.446.8
Video Rendering
(minutes:seconds, smaller is better)
1:221:11
Geekbench 2.3 64-bit tests
(higher is better)
80908187
Geekbench 2.3 32-bit tests
(higher is better)
59626122
PCMark 7
(higher is better)
23132701
Sunspider
(ms, lower is better)
180144
Google V8 (v.7)
(higher is better)
30796180
Psychedelic Browsing
(higher is better)
39975292

 

The key thing here is startup. Windows 7 still takes just too long to get usable, and Windows 8 finally remedies this drawback. Browser performance is also notably better, and it’s encouraging that Geekbench showed a little improvement and PCMark 7 a significant one. Yes, this is not even the RTM, or final release of Windows 8, but the early test results are encouraging. New hardware will, of course, make the new OS scream, particularly if you opt for SSD storage.

Article Source: PCMag.com

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Learn Windows 8 in 8 minutes

Fake_Windows_8_Start[1]A beginners guide to Microsoft’s soon to be released Operating System Windows 8.

In this video you will learn about the new interface and special features of Windows 8.

Windows 8 is designed specifically for use with Touch Screen and portable devices, so it will be interesting to see how this impacts on those using a conventional PC and monitor.

[iframe src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/bVY6ArpZ0GA” width=”100%”]

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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.

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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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Apple removes “more secure than Windows” claims

Screen-Shot-2012-08-24-at-3.13.59-PM[1]by Kevin McLaughlin

Apple recently changed the wording in the “Why You’ll Love A Mac” section of its website, removing longstanding claims about Macs being more secure than Windows PCs.

For years, Apple’s marketing has centered on the notion that Mac users are immune to the malware that routinely causes headaches for PC users.

Here is how Apple used to phrase this: “A Mac isn’t susceptible to the thousands of viruses plaguing Windows-based computers. That’s thanks to built-in defenses in Mac OS X that keep you safe, without any work on your part.”

But sometime in the past few days, Apple changed this message to read: “Built-in defenses in OS X keep you safe from unknowingly downloading malicious software on your Mac.”

Apple also changed its description of OS X from “It doesn’t get PC viruses” to “It’s built to be safe”.

The original Apple web page, dated June 9 on Google cache, can be seen here.

The removal of Windows comparisons could signal a change in Apple’s security marketing strategy. Apple’s devilishly effective “Get a Mac” marketing campaign focused on the superior security of Macs over Windows PCs, and while researchers have warned that Macs are not inherently more secure, many Mac users still operate under that assumption.

Apple did not respond to a request for comment on the website changes. But security experts suspect that the increasing attention the company is getting from malware authors did play a role in its decision to remove references to Windows.

“Apple does not want to lose its image as a secure platform,” Andrew Plato, president of Anitian Enterprise Security, said in an interview. “A lot of people still see their Mac as fundamentally more secure than Windows. Flashback proved that Macs are just as vulnerable.”

Macs get more attention from attackers

As more iOS devices make their way into businesses through the bring-your-own-device phenomenon, Mac adoption in businesses is also rising, creating a more inviting target for attackers, according to Andrew Brust, CEO of Microsoft analyst firm Blue Badge Insights.

“Macs can’t keep that low profile anymore, and the bullies are starting to target it, with increasing frequency,” Brust said.

Apple has kept security under the same cloak of secrecy as the rest of its operations, but there are signs that may be changing. Next month, Apple is slated to take part in the Black Hat security conference for the first time. Dallas De Atley, manager of the platform security team, will give a talk there on key security technologies in iOS.

On Monday at the opening of its Worldwide Developer Conference, Apple offered insight into the security improvements in OS X Mountain Lion, which is slated for release in July. The big new feature is Gatekeeper, a security mechanism that allows OS X developers to digitally sign their apps, thereby preventing users from accidentally installing malicious software.

Article Source: This article originally appeared at crn.com

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How Can You Find Out If Someone Is Hacking Your Computer?

Computer-Hacker

 

Here is an interesting article about what signs to look for to determine whether you may be infected with viruses/malware that allow a hacker to take control of your PC. 

 

 

 

How Can You Find Out If Someone Is Hacking Your Computer?

by Gaurav Srivastava

Many of you become innocent victims of hackers who break in your computers and steal all they can from the credit card details, bank information, emails, passwords, to professional documents among other critical things. You cannot really avoid hackers, their viruses and malware software when you are online but yes you can certainly avoid being a victim. This free virus removal support guide discusses how you can find out if someone is hacking your computer.

Step 1

When you reboot your computer, it reboots twice instead of once. It happens because the hacker has to boot his server in order to keep accessing your Windows or Mac computer. Thus, your computer quickly reboots after you reboot it and the startup screen appears twice. Another symptom of being hacked or virus-infected is when your computer reboots or shuts down on its own time and again. It means it doesn’t seek for your mouse or keyboard prompts to be shut down or restarted. When you attempt to access a program on your computer, you are not able to do it. You cannot access Task Manager, the Start menu or anything on your computer.

Step 2

When you open your web browser, some other website loads up but not your regular home page. When you search for something in your search engine, you are being redirected to websites that you have never browsed or even heard of. These can be adult or malicious websites prompting you to download adult materials or fake virus removal tools. If your web browser has a new toolbar, add-in, or plug-in that you did not install, it indicates that your browser and computer has been hacked. You do not see your usually plug-ins, add-ins, or toolbars when the browser is hacked. Besides, if your internet speed is really slow, it indicates your computer has a virus.

Step 3

If your CD- or DVD-ROM drive opens up without your action. Your computer has missing icons like Network Places, antivirus, or Outlook etc. However, you see new programs like virus removal tool (that you didn’t even download), music file etc. showing up on your desktop. If you see that your computer clock shows a different date & time, time zone settings, and daylight savings etc. (unless you have changed them), it has a stubborn, dangerous malware.

Step 4

If you have a firewall program like ZoneAlarm installed on your computer, it can tell you if someone has tried hacking it. Open ZoneAlarm or the firewall program you have and check if it has logged any malicious program entry that was attempting a server setup on your computer. If your firewall or antivirus program takes forever to scan your computer, it indicates that it has been compromised. If your antivirus icon is missing from your computer and it does not even open once you have found it, it has a virus that has disabled it to prevent itself from being removed.

Step 5

If you run a virus scan from your antivirus software, it shows multiple infected files and programs that you never even downloaded to your computer. All of a sudden you have multiple files with weird names like mslove.exe, abcd1234.exe, or giaehi45.jpg etc. in your computer. all of a sudden your computer starts taking forever to open a small program like Run or Command Prompt etc. The CPU usage shows 100% (maximum) for a small process like explorer.exe.

Step 6

When your friends tell you about the new links or posts you have shared (that you have never actually shared) on your Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter profile. When your friends or relatives receive bogus emails containing adult or objectionable materials, link etc. from your email address. When your credit card or online banking does not accept your password despite that you have it correctly and have not changed it in the recent past.

The Author of this article is associated with V tech-squad Inc, V tech-squad Inc. is a cloud based technical support provider to consumers and small businesses. if you have any problem while performing the above steps and need technical assistance for online virus removal, You can reach V tech-squad online technical support at their Toll Free No +1-877-452-9201.

About V tech-squad Inc.

V tech-squad Inc. is a cloud based online technical support provider to consumers and small businesses. V tech-squad provides support to users for issues with their PCs, Mac’s, Tablets, Phones such as iPhone and Blackberry and devices such as MP3 players, Printers, Scanners, Fax, Wireless networking gear, Netflix, Roku boxes and TVs. With an obsessive focus on quality and building technical expertise, V tech-squad continues to maintain an issue resolution rate of more than 90%. V tech-squad’s credibility has been tested by more than 10,000 customers. Currently V tech-squad provides support services to consumers and small businesses in United States. For more information on V tech-squad, Inc. visit vtechsquad.com.

Article Source: EzineArticles.com

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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.

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Great Security Myth: I Don’t Need Anti-Virus Protection because I Bought an Apple Mac!

virus-detectedMelbourne, 28 May 2010 – AVG (AU/NZ) Pty Ltd warns that Apple Macs running the OS X operating system, or some flavour of Linux distribution, are not immune to viruses, malware and other forms of Internet-carried spambots, Trojans, hacking and phishing.

That’s right, Apple Macs running the OS X operating system, or some flavour of Linux distribution, are open to attack from cyber criminals.

Now of course hackers and spammers are not stupid and they know that Windows users represent the ‘low hanging fruit’ in terms of potential targets. The sheer weight of numbers that the Windows’ user base carries with it makes it the primary target for malware attacks – and it’s going to stay that way for the foreseeable future.

“But,” Lloyd Borrett, Marketing Manager, AVG (AU/NZ), says: “The web changes everything. More specifically, web services, social media and online applications change everything.

“Suddenly you are operating one step further away from your Mac’s desktop and you are at the mercy of live real-time contact from third parties and the World Wide Web in general. This levels the playing field in some senses, so that suddenly your Mac is not a Mac for a moment – instead it’s just a computer.”

With the growing popularity of web services from Twitter and Facebook and so on, the opportunity to spread malware hidden in a simple link has, arguably, never been greater.

So Mac’s do have vulnerabilities and people should be increasingly aware of browser security concerns. Without identifying specific security holes in Safari or Opera (or Firefox for that matter), the operating system is no longer the primary target for Internet-driven user attacks by cyber criminals. The target is the application itself and the user’s behaviour within it.

Apple’s popularity is growing all the time even if its market share is still somewhere around less than 10 percent globally. Just this year security researchers found eight fresh zero-day vulnerabilities in Apple’s Safari browser.

“What matters most is that viral attacks are constantly evolving and looking for fresh blood,” Borrett continued. “So, everyone needs to think about Internet security protection. It’s as simple as that.”

Technical Facts

Looking objectively at the Mac operating system and tools, there is arguably a larger total surface area of code open to potential attack.

Combining rich use of Flash and Java with support for multiple file formats does not exactly put up extra barriers. Digging deeper, Address Space Layout Randomisation (ASLR) has been around since Windows Vista as an anti-exploitation technology, yet it is only present in Mac OS X 10.5 in some library offsets and therefore does not offer complete protection in the way that the technology was designed.

Conclusion: Apple Mac, Windows or Linux, the fact is that regardless of the operating system each of us is using, we’re all in this together. Everyone needs to be aware of what they are clicking on and use their commonsense – if something doesn’t look quite right, it probably isn’t!

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Support Ending XP SP2

xp_servicepack2This is why you should look at making sure you have Service Pack 3 (SP3) installed, or think about migrating to Windows 7 in the near future.

Microsoft has announced that support for Windows XP with Service Pack 2 (SP2) 32-bit operating system will end on 13th July 2010, and support for Windows Vista Release to Manufacturing (RTM) will end 13th April 2010.

If you are running the 64-bit edition of Windows XP with SP2, you will continue to be eligible to receive Microsoft support and updates until 8th April 2014. There is no SP3 for the 64-bit version of Windows XP. To find out if you are running the 64-bit version of Windows XP, go to the Start menu, right-click My Computer, and then click Properties. If you don’t see “64-bit” listed, then you’re running the 32-bit version and need to install the Windows XP SP3.

Key Dates
[unordered_list style=”green-dot”]

  • 1st March 2010 – Windows 7 Release Candidate (RC) will reboot or go to a blue screen every two hours, depending on the PC’s system failure settings.
  • 13th April 2010 – Support for Windows Vista RTM operating system ends.
  • 1st June 2010 – Windows 7 Release Candidate (RC) licenses expire.
  • 13th July 2010 – Support for Windows XP with Service Pack 2 (SP2) 32-bit operating system ends.

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