Computer Systems, Service and Repairs

Top 12 Lesser Known Features & Improvements In Windows 10

windows8Windows 10 is ready for launch and many tech publications have covered it in their articles. However, everybody talks only about its biggest new features. As is always the case with operating systems, there are many small things that are new to Windows 10 and most people have never heard about them. We tested Windows 10 during its development cycle and we know many of these small new features. We decided to share them with you in this article:

The Best 12 Lesser Known Windows 10 Features

  1. The Start Menu can be resized – Unlike the old Start Menu from Windows 7 and the Start screen from Windows 8, the new Start Menufrom Windows 10 can be resized as you wish. It’s a neat little feature that many users will find helpful. By resizing your Start Menu you can make space for more apps rows and tiles, or you can shrink it so that no space is left unused.

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  2. WiFi Sense – If you’ve used a Windows Phone, you already know what this feature is about. If enabled, WiFi Sense automatically shares the credentials you use to connect to wireless networks with all your other Windows devices. Also, you can use WiFi Sense to share these networks with your contacts from Facebook, Outlook or Skype, if they also use WiFi Sense. This way, both you and your friends can connect to wireless networks for which you don’t actually know the security details. You could call this feature “wireless Internet sharing”. A good thing, from a security point of view, is the fact that neither you or the others get to see the actual security details of the wireless connections that are shared. Secondly, WiFi Sense can also automatically detect and connect to open wireless hotspots whenever such networks are in range.

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  3. Taskbar icons of open apps are underlined – This is what you’d call a subtle change that improves the usability of an operating system. Up to Windows 10, for each opened program or app, we had large buttons on the taskbar that did not look so great. In Windows 10, the taskbar icons used for opened apps are much more subtle and any opened app is underlined with an accent color. If you ask us, we like it better this way.

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  4. File Explorer has a new Quick Access section – Both Windows Explorer from Windows 7 and File Explorer from Windows 8.1 have aFavorites section, where you can place shortcuts to folders, drives and so on. The new Quick Access section is much more flexible and configurable. You can set it as a startup folder for File Explorer and it can be set to display a list for frequently used folders and recently opened files. We like it a lot more than the old Favorites and we think that you will like it too.

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  5. You can set the starting location for File Explorer – In Windows 10, Microsoft added a small yet nifty feature to File Explorer: you can now set it to automatically open Quick Access or This PC when you start it. It’s a small but useful improvement that will make you more productive when using File Explorer.

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  6. Phone Companion – This is a very interesting app, which aims to help you easily connect any kind of smartphone to your Windows 10 PC. The Phone Companion app works very well with Windows Phone devices, iPhones or Android smartphones. It lets you sync your smartphone’s contents to your PC or install various apps like Skype, Office, OneDrive, OneNote, Outlook or Cortana on your smartphone.

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  7. Windows Defender gets cloud protection – Yes, Windows Defender gets improved by using cloud antivirus protection: if enabled, this feature will let Windows Defender send information to Microsoft about any problem it finds. This information is then used by Microsoft to develop new antimalware definitions and fix the problems on your device and others.

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  8. Windows updates can be downloaded from the local network or the Internet – Traditionally, Windows updates were only downloaded from Microsoft’s servers. With Windows 10, Microsoft appears to embrace the peer-to-peer technologies that are very popular nowadays. As a result, Windows 10 devices are now capable of downloading updates both from other Windows 10 devices from your local network as well as other Windows 10 computers from the Internet.

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  9. You can use OneDrive to fetch files from your PCs – Microsoft developed this feature quite a while ago but, for some strange reason, it removed it from Windows 8.1. We’ve got all the reasons to be happy now, as Windows 10 brings it back. As long as your devices are connected to the Internet and they are running on Windows 10, Windows 8 or Windows 7, you can fetch files from them using OneDrive.

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  10. Storage Sense – This is yet another feature that Windows Phone users are accustomed to. Storage Sense allows you to look into what’s taking space on your Windows 10 device and set the default saving locations for new apps or documents. Considering the fact that Windows 10 is an operating system designed to work on a variety of devices, ranging from smartphones to tablets and fully fledged PCs, it makes sense for Microsoft to include it in Windows 10.

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  11. Privacy controls – Microsoft takes your privacy very seriously and, in Windows 10, they included a lot of new privacy related settings. You can set permissions for apps that can access your location, camera, microphone, contacts, calendar, messages, radios and so on. All these are divided into separate categories and each of them lists every app that can control or access any of these features.

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  12. Battery Saver – This is yet another feature that was borrowed from Windows Phone. Whenever your device’s battery level is low, Battery Saver is enabled automatically. This feature changes settings like the screen’s brightness, disables background apps and more, all in order to prolong the battery life of your Windows 10 device.

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Conclusion

All in all, Windows 10 doesn’t bring only major new features, but also many improvements that are not noticeable at first. We hope that you enjoyed our list of less known new features and improvements and, if you know others, don’t hesitate to share them using the comments form below.

Stagefright bug affects 95% of Android users -Avast

Mobile Security: Protect your mobile device from Stagefright – new Android vulnerability

What is Stagefright and how to protect my device?

Stagefright is believed to be the worst Android vulnerability yet discovered. All devices running Android versions Froyo 2.2 to Lollipop 5.1.1 are affected, which are used by approximately 95% of all Android devices, by nearly 1 billion people. Hackers only need to know your phone number to infect your device.

The malware is delivered via a multimedia message (MMS) sent to any messenger app that can process a specific video format – like an Android device’s native messaging app, Google Hangouts and WhatsApp.

If you want to learn more about this issue, please visit Avast blog.

The most common Android messaging apps load videos automatically. You can protect yourself by disabling the Auto retrievefeature in your default messaging app, so that videos cannot be loaded in the background and infect your device.

Instructions for the most common messaging apps can be found in the following articles:

Malvertising

computer repair wilkes barre

We’re on a bit of an educational push here with the aim of helping Internet users become a bit more aware of the latest tricks that criminals are using to catch you out. Hopefully, this means you will be a bit safer online.

Today’s post takes a closer look at ‘malvertising’. This was covered in a bit of detail in our previous post on Exploit Kits, but as it presents a significant threat to everyday folks, so we wanted to dig into it in a bit more detail.

What is it?

Malvertising is the name we in the security industry give to criminally-controlled adverts which intentionally infect people and businesses. These can be any ad on any site – often ones which you use as part of your everyday Internet usage. It is a growing problem, as is evidenced by a recent US Senate report, and the establishment of bodies like Trust In Ads.

Whilst the technology being used in the background is very advanced, the way it presents to the person being infected is simple. To all intents and purposes, the advert looks the same as any other, but it has been placed by a criminal.

Without your knowledge a tiny piece of code hidden deep in the advert is making your computer go to criminal servers. These then catalogue details about your computer and it’s location, before choosing which piece of malware to send you. This doesn’t need a new browser window and you won’t know about it.

The first sign will often be when the malware is already installed and starts threatening money for menaces, logging your bank details or any number of despicable scams.

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How do they get there?    

It’s common practice to outsource the advertising on websites to third-party specialists. These companies re-sell this space, and provide software which allows people to upload their own adverts, bidding a certain amount of money to ‘win’ the right for more people to see them.

This often provides a weak point, and cyber criminals have numerous clever ways of inserting their own malicious adverts into this self-service platform. Once loaded, all they have to do is set a price per advert, to compete with legitimate advertisers, and push it live.

Why is it a threat to me?

People nowadays are aware of practices that look or feel ‘wrong’ on the Internet, be it odd-looking links, requests to download strange programs or posts on social media which set the alarm bells ringing. The real danger with malvertising is that user judgement isn’t involved at all. People don’t have to click anything, visit a strange website or follow any links.

Rather, you go to a website you trust (like a news site or similar) and the adverts are secretly injecting criminal software onto your computer. This means infections can happen just by browsing the morning headlines, visiting your online dating profile or watching a video.

How do I stop it?

There are a few things which people can do to minimize the risk of being caught out by malvertising:

  • Those reminders to update things like browsers, flash, Java etc? Don’t ignore them.
  • Run a specialist anti-exploit technology (https://www.malwarebytes.org/antiexploit/)
  • There are programs which block advertising that can help

Safe surfing and don’t get caught out!

Custom Computers inc. is the premier provider of computer repair services in the Wilkes Barre / Scranton area and has been serving both home and business users for 21 years now. We specialize in malware and virus removal in our Kingston, PA service center.

 

Tech Support Scammers Go For Porn Shocker

Crooks are making millions of dollars defrauding unsavvy users with fake online tech support. The scam is simple but yet effective and has gone through many variations over time.

Scammers can be very creative, simulating the Blue Screen Of Death (BSOD) or even stealing templates used by security companies.

In their latest iteration, the tech support scammers are going for maximum shock effect by locking people’s browser with a nasty collage of hardcore pornographic pictures in the background.

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Figure 1: A disturbing set of hardcore pornographic pictures with a “System At Risk” warning.

The page at pc-care365.net/Alert.htm reads:

System At Risk!!
Due to Suspicious activity detected on the computer, Critical errors have been found. Error Code – S1L457.
Call customer technical support and share this code with the agent.
Customer support number- 1-844-709-0775
Call Customer Technical Support at 1-844-709-0775 and share this code with the agent.

These pages and pop-ups always seem to come out of the blue, as you simply browse the net. Then, getting rid of them via the conventional close button is nearly impossible.

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Figure 2: The alert message abusing the ‘alert()’ method

Some users might just be frightened to see that their computers could have a bad virus and that they might lose all of their data. Others, desperate to close the page, will call the support number provided on the pop-ups.

Going for pornographic material is not entirely surprising. Traditional ransomware has done that long ago already in some cases going as far as displaying child pornography on the user’s device.

This tactic can be quite effective since anyone caught with this on their screen will most likely feel embarrassed enough not to reach out for help with a friend or IT guy, and instead follow the on-screen instructions which involve calling a toll-free number.

Unfortunately, the toll-free number will redirect to one of many boiler rooms filled with agents often pretending to be Microsoft Support. They will ask the victim to download a program that will allow them to remotely access and control the computer.

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Figure 3: The remote technician does his sales pitch, not really bothered by what’s on screen

What follows next is the typical snake-oil sales pitch (your computer has viruses, infections, etc.) for a pricey and bogus online ‘Microsoft support service’. For the unlucky ones, identity theft and destruction of their data and computer can also happen.

These fake and scary pages all exploit the same design in JavaScript allowing long or infinite loops to prevent from closing the page. As long as it exists, more and more people are going to defrauded of their hard-earned money by these miscreants.

Google Reports 5% Of Users Infected By Ad Injectors

Google, working with researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, conducted a study that found 5 percent of users visiting Google sites were infected with Ad Injectors.


An Ad Injector is a type of adware that can put ads into pages you are viewing, replace existing ads with other ads, and block content you are trying to view. As a result of these annoying pop-ups, Google claimed it has received over 100,000 complaints from users of Google Chrome since the start of 2015.

Google said that this type of software brings a variety of problems for users, advertisers and publishers alike. The user side of the problem is easy to see, as most of us have experienced annoying ads that cover up content and seem to get in the way of our web browsing activities.

For publishers and advertisers, this type of malicious software is an even greater problem. Ad Injectors covering up content and bothering users can drive people away. Because most websites make their living off of advertising, this can drive profits down and cost sites a great deal of money.

Intel Unleashes NVMe SSD 750 Series For Consumer PCs

02The PC storage world was undeniably boring, and spinning, before SSDs came along. SSDs were expensive and somewhat exotic at first, but still worth every penny. SSDs deliver revolutionary speed that unlocks the true potential of the CPU, and youcannot seriously claim to have a performance PC today if it doesn’t have a slab of flash attached to the SATA port.

Therein lies the problem. The SATA connection was designed for old spinning HDDs and not optimized to provide the ultra-low latency and blistering speed that SSDs crave. SSDs outstripped the limitations of the trusty old SATA port over the last few years, and prices have dropped to the point of commoditization. New SSDs are only making small incremental gains with each release, and it seems the days of big performance boosts are over.

…until NVMe came to save the day. NVMe is a refined interface designed from the ground up for non-volatile memories, which includes DRAM and future PCM/MRAM, and it runs over the inherently faster PCIe bus. In other words, it’s more than fast enough for a bunch of NAND chips packed onto a PCB. Unfortunately, NVMe made its debut in the enterprise space. Salivating enthusiasts the world over had to live vicariously through enterprise hardware reviews, impatiently waiting for the day NVMe finally made its way to the desktop.

Intel has ended the waiting with the new NVMe Intel SSD 750 Series, designed for enthusiasts and gamers alike, that lays claim to the title of the fastest storage hardware available to consumers.

The 750 Series comes in two capacities of 400 GB and 1.2 TB and leverages a PCIe 3.0 x4 connection to blast out up to 2,400 MBps of sequential read speed and 1,200 MBps of sequential write speed (1.2 TB model). For IOPS, the 750 offers up to 440,000 read and 290,000 write. That is nearly quadruple the IOPS performance of anything else on the market, including the latest m.2 models.

The Intel 750 Series SSDs certainly aren’t going to fit in your laptop, but Intel is turning the storage world on its ear by also offering 2.5″ versions. These still communicate via PCIe 3.0 x4 and offer the same exceptional performance as the larger Add-In Cards (AIC). Most 2.5″ SSDs are 7 mm thick, but the 750 Series are 15 mm and will leverage an SFF-8639-compatible connector to connect to special connectors on motherboards. The cable will connect to an SFF-8643 connector, and motherboard manufacturers already have embedded connectors coming to market. ASUS also has an m.2-to-8643 connector, and we expect others will use this approach as well.

The 750s are bootable with the UEFI stack, but Intel is only guaranteeing compatibility with Z97 and X99 platforms with Windows 7 64-bit (and up) at this time. This doesn’t mean the drives will not work with all prior chipsets, just that compatibility (particularly for booting) will be spotty. Intel is compiling a compatibility matrix for older hardware that will be available to the public. There is the chance that motherboard vendors will update older UEFI stacks to be compatible with the new cards, but that remains to be seen.

The 750 Series is a re-purposed and slightly modified version of the Intel P3x00 DC (Data Center) Series. The 750 features Intel L85C 20 nm MLC NAND connected to a monstrous 18-channel controller, and 9 percent overprovisioning provides 70 GB of write endurance per day for the five-year warrantied period. This will be more than enough for the average consumer, and even enough for some prosumer applications.

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What else could one possibly want? Well, a reasonable price is going to be at the top of the list for most. The 750 Series features an MSRP of $389 for the 400 GB model and $1,029 for the 1.2 TB. Perhaps the only oddity is the lack of an 800 GB model. With the amazingly low cost, especially when compared to the price of other PCIe SSDs with a fraction of the performance, Intel should have a winner on its hands.

There really is no other storage hardware on the market to even compare to the Intel 750; it simply doesn’t get faster for consumers. Did I say fire-breathing? The 750 Series is available now, and at less than $1 per GB we hope Intel has a few million of these in stock. 01

How to avoid email Phishing attempts

email phishing attemptJust some pointers this morning on how to avoid email phishing attempts. I received this message in my inbox this morning and wanted to share it with you. First thing you will notice is that the email says it it from americanexpress.gov. Now the .gov extension is reserved for government entities. This would not be available to a private company such as American Express. That should be your first tip off that it is not real.

Secondly as I put my mouse pointer over the word “login” which is linked to a website, Outlook gives me a little pop-up that tells me where that link is really gonna go. You will notice that this link is going to metflex.uk.com which certainly has nothing to do with Amercian Express so this is definately a Phishing Scam. Now Outlook does this with a little pop-up but if you are using some sort of web based email your web browser will usually show you in the bottom left corner where a link is really gonna go when you hover over it.

Thirdly, I don’t have an American Express account so obviously I wouldn’t even think of it being real but if 1 in 3 people do have an American Express card then their chances of getting someone to fall for this are pretty good.

I have had people tell me things over the years that just don’t make any sense to me. One in particular I remember a guy opened an email that said he had a voicemail message so he proceeded to open the attachment and got his computer infected. My first question was “Do you have some sort of service that would email you a voicemail?” and he responded with “No”. I replied “Why the heck would you open it then?”

You just have to use some basic common sense and most of these problems can be avoided easily. If someone knocked on your door and said he was from the gas company and he needed to check your basement, would you not look at his ID, his uniform, his truck to make sure he is who he says he is? We just need to do the same for people who knock on the door of our inboxes.

If you happen to fall for this sort of scam and get your computer infected do not fret as we can clean it up and provide some basic instruction on how to avoid this sort of thing in the future. Our silver virus cleaning package includes a set of tool and the instruction and directions on how to use them to keep your computer virus and spyware free. We take the time to sit with you and make sure you know how to use these simple free malware tools and know what to look for and what t avoid. Just the same as driving on Northeast Pennsylvania’s road we need to avoid some of the internet “potholes”.

phishing

 

Lastly the below image is what was at the bottom of the email. None of the apparent links to American Express or customer service actually work. They try to convince you they are the real deal by using americanexpress.com/phishing in the bottom portion. This appears to be a real link but it is simply blue text so it looks like it is real.

phishing attempt email

How To Avoid Malware Infections

malware cleaningMalware is a term used to describe a broad category of damaging software that includes viruses, worms, trojan horses, rootkits, spyware, and adware. The effects of malware range from brief annoyance to computer crashes and identity theft. Malware is easier to avoid than it is to remove. Avoiding malware involves a two-part strategy. Follow these guidelines for staying safe.

Prevent Malware With Smart Online Behavior

The single biggest factor in preventing a malware infection on your PC is you. You don’t need expert knowledge or special training. You just need vigilance to avoid downloading and installing anything you do not understand or trust, no matter how tempting, from the following sources:

From a website: If you are unsure, leave the site and research the software you are being asked to install. If it is OK, you can always come back to site and install it. If it is not OK, you will avoid a malware headache.

From e-mail: Do not trust anything associated with a spam e-mail. Approach e-mail from people you know with caution when the message contains links or attachments. If you are suspicious of what you are being asked to view or install, don’t do it.

From physical media: Your friends, family, and associates may unknowingly give you a disc or flash drive with an infected file on it. Don’t blindly accept these files; scan them with security software. If you are still unsure, do not accept the files.

From a pop-up window: Some pop-up windows or boxes will attempt to corner you into downloading software or accepting a free “system scan” of some type. Often these pop-ups will employ scare tactics to make you believe you need what they are offering in order to be safe. Close the pop-up without clicking anything inside it (including the X in the corner). Close the window via Windows Task Manager (press Ctrl-Alt-Delete).

From another piece of software: Some programs attempt to install malware as a part of their own installation process. When installing software, pay close attention to the message boxes before clicking Next, OK, or I Agree. Scan the user agreement for anything that suggests malware may be a part of the installation. If you are unsure, cancel the installation, check up on the program, and run the installation again if you determine it is safe.

From illegal file-sharing services: You’re on your own if you enter this realm. There is little quality control in the world of illegal software, and it is easy for an attacker to name a piece of malware after a popular movie, album, or program to tempt you into downloading it.

 

Our Services

If you happen to miss something and end up with an infected computer, no worries as that is what we are here for. We provide professional virus and malware cleaning service to both home and business clients in the Kingston, Wilkes Barre, Forty Fort, Back Mountain areas and provide the instruction and tools needed to help you avoid the problem in the future so you can keep your own computer clean from that point forward.

We have several packages available when it comes to malware cleanups but we always recommend our SILVER package in which we not only perform the malware cleaning but we do all the security patched, updates and install our malware and system maintenance tools and show you how to use them to prevent future cleanings being required. We try to go the extra mile in teaching you what to do and what not to do so when you leave you have the tools and knowledge to continue the fight against malware on your own.

We also are constantly posting updates to both our website and our Facebook page to inform you of new threats and techniques to avoid them. Visit our Facebook page and don’t forget to LIKE it so you receive all our updates.

facebook computer service

 

Custom Computers, inc. is the areas leading computer service and repair company with life-long skilled technicians that are fast and efficient and speak of technical matters in an easy to understand way. We service both home and business clients all over the Wyoming Valley including many small to medium business including schools, religious organizations, local mom and pop shops as well as the typical home user. We provide both onsite service in which we come out to your location to service your computers or in our Kingston, PA service center.

Our service areas range from Kingston, Wilkes Barre, Forty Fort, Swoyersville, Exeter, West Pittston, Pittson, Edwardsville, Larksville, Plymouth, Hanover, Scranton, Durea, Moosic and all the surrounding areas. We also do networking, servers, wireless setups, security audits, software installs, remote administration and tech support services.

Create Strong Passwords

Create strong passwords

Passwords are the first line of defense against break-ins to your online accounts and computer, tablet, or phone. Poorly chosen passwords can render your information vulnerable to criminals, so it’s important to make your passwords strong.

To help you create strong passwords, follow the same network security guidelines required of all Microsoft employees:

  • Strong passwords are phrases (or sentences) at least eight characters long—longer is better—that include at least three of the following: uppercase and lowercase letters, numerals, punctuation marks, and symbols.
  • Give passwords the thought they deserve, and make them memorable. One way is to base them on the title of a favorite song or book, or a familiar slogan or other phrase. (Don’t use the examples below!)Example phrases: I love my new Xbox One

    Example passwords: Ilove!mynewxbox1

  • Don’t share passwords with others or store them on the device they’re designed to protect. (Get more tips for protecting your password.)

Once you’ve come up with your password, you can test its strength below.

https://howsecureismypassword.net/

Avoid common password pitfalls

Cybercriminals use sophisticated tools to rapidly crack passwords, but you can help foil their attempts.
DO NOT USE:

  • Personal identity information that could be guessed or easily discovered, like pet names, nicknames, birth date, address, or driver’s license number.
  • Dictionary words in any language (including the word password—the most common password in the English language!).
  • Words spelled backwards, abbreviations, and common misspellings (accommodate, remember).
  • Common letter-to-symbol conversions, such as changing “o” to “0” or “i” to “1” or “!”.
  • Sequences or repeated characters. Examples: 12345678, 222222, abcdefg, or adjacent letters on your keyboard (such as qwerty).

Watch out for fake virus alerts

Know the programs you have on your computer and what they look like so you can more readily spot a fake virus alert. When you already know what programs you have and what they look like then you will have an easier time spotting a fake alert if it does come up because it will look different then the programs you are already used to using.

Watch out for fake virus alerts

Rogue security software, also known as “scareware,” is software that appears to be beneficial from a security perspective but provides limited or no security, generates erroneous or misleading alerts, or attempts to lure users into participating in fraudulent transactions.

How does rogue security software get on my computer?

Rogue security software designers create legitimate looking pop-up windows that advertise security update software. These windows might appear on your screen while you surf the web.

The “updates” or “alerts” in the pop-up windows call for you to take some sort of action, such as clicking to install the software, accept recommended updates, or remove unwanted viruses or spyware. When you click, the rogue security software downloads to your computer.

Rogue security software might also appear in the list of search results when you are searching for trustworthy antispyware software, so it is important to protect your computer.

What does rogue security software do?

Rogue security software might report a virus, even though your computer is actually clean. The software might also fail to report viruses when your computer is infected. Inversely, sometimes, when you download rogue security software, it will install a virus or other malicious software on your computer so that the software has something to detect.

Some rogue security software might also:

  • Lure you into a fraudulent transaction (for example, upgrading to a non-existent paid version of a program).
  • Use social engineering to steal your personal information.
  • Install malware that can go undetected as it steals your data.
  • Launch pop-up windows with false or misleading alerts.
  • Slow your computer or corrupt files.
  • Disable Windows updates or disable updates to legitimate antivirus software.
  • Prevent you from visiting antivirus vendor websites.

Rogue security software might also attempt to spoof the Microsoft security update process. Here’s an example of rogue security software that’s disguised as a Microsoft alert but that doesn’t come from Microsoft.

Example of a warning from a rogue security program known as AntivirusXP

Example of a warning from a rogue security program known as AntivirusXP.

For more information about this threat, including analysis, prevention and recovery, see the Trojan:Win32/Antivirusxp entry in the Microsoft Malware Protection Center encyclopedia.

To help protect yourself from rogue security software:

  • Install a firewall and keep it turned on.
  • Use automatic updating to keep your operating system and software up to date.
  • Install antivirus and antispyware software and keep it updated. Windows 8 includes antivirus protection that’s turned on by default. If your computer isn’t running Windows 8, download Microsoft Security Essentials for free.
  • Use caution when you click links in email or on social networking websites.
  • Use a standard user account instead of an administrator account.
  • Familiarize yourself with common phishing scams.