Sunday, 10 January 2016

Firefox and Kaspersky Internet Security

This is divided into two related areas for the reason that both programs have affected each other.

It appears to start with Firefox versions above 40. All versions up to but not including 43.0.3 were subject to Mozilla tightening up on Certificate security. This seemed to affect some computers more so than others. It showed up in various ways:
  • Firefox would not load a Google site of any shape or form and displaying a message that Google was untrusted, or other messages that meant the same thing including invalid Certificate.
  •  Firefox would exhibit similar behaviour with other sites like Adobe.
  • Version 43.0.3 appears to have addressed that problem.
 There has always been a long running problem with the Safe Money function in Kaspersky Internet Security and Firefox. It happens when one program or the other gets updated, but not with every instance. The problem shows up with Kaspersky generating a message saying that Safe Money is not providing full protection, and the green page border is replaced by an orange one. That can be overcome by changing the browser associated with Safe Money to Internet Explorer (which happens to be the default browser for safe Money). That of course is not really a satisfactory solution given Internet Explorers track record on security.

It seems as if neither company talks to each other, or does any compatibility testing before releasing version updates. One blames the other, and no one does anything positive to rectify.

There is however one thing that you can do - ditch Kaspersky in favour of Bitdefender Internet Security. OK - you will lose money if Kaspersky's subscription has some time left - but is the aggravation worth whatever dollars are left? I think not, and the reason why I switched security programs.

No more problems with partial protection when doing Internet banking etc. Bitdefender has a similar function that does work, it runs within the Bitdefender program as a sub function, therefore no reliance on browsers that act up from time to time.

As a related point - Bitdefender Internet Security performs as well as, and better in some aspects than Kaspersky Internet Security in lab testing.  

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Preserve Your Privacy

While you may be aware that the Australian Government implemented into law that your Internet history, from whom you received and to who you sent email, and where you went on the Internet is to be retained by ISP's for surveillance purposes. The guise for this was to protect us from criminals and terrorists.

The Government knows of course that such people do not use open electronic communications. They will use, e.g. virtual private networks (VPN), encryption, onion routing, to avoid detection. That raises the question of why did the Government do this. The answer is so obvious that it does not need to be stated here.

We are dealing with principles here, something that Governments can sideline as it suits them. So......how do we preserve some measure of privacy as a matter of principle? You could run a virtual private network (VPN).

A software VPN is easy enough to set up, but may be a little tricky to configure. Once set up you can nominate which programs are routed through it - called 'split tunnelling", e.g. your browser (though it is better to use one other than your primary browser), and another email program other than the primary if the primary does not work correctly through a VPN. To take that to another level you could run Pale Moon (a more secure version of Firefox), and eMail Client (known to work within most VPN's).

You could for instance run everything on a day to day basis through a VPN - there aren't any limits except any monthly data limits that a provider may stipulate.

Using Pure VPN as an example - you can switch around between servers located in many different countries around the globe, or stay with one - preferably offshore and excluding U.S.A. U.K. Australia. Net speeds are not noticeably impacted. You choose which programs use split tunnelling. Your real Internet Protocol address (IP address) is not shown, but the one allocated by the server logged to is. Trying to trace that results in a server location bearing no resemblance to reality, e.g. the middle of the western distributor in Sydney.

In summary - being more or less an outline - if you want more information or assistance with a VPN the contact information is at the Contacts page.

#10 Jan 2016, 3:37 pm  

Friday, 8 January 2016

Windows 10/8.1/8 – How To Revert To Win 7 Style Start Screen

For Desktop and Laptop users the default Windows 10, 8 or 8.1 tiled start screen may not be to your liking. Some assemblers customize the desktop to the Windows 7 style, but if you have a computer that is set up with the tiled interface style desktop (Windows 8.1 & 8), or the compromise inteface with some tiles as seen in a standard Windows 10 installation, then there are other ways around that.

This solution may or may not work on your system (see below). A Registry backup should be completed before any editing:
1. Open the Run command box by using the Win+R keys.
2. Type in “regedit” without the quotes and click Okay.
3. Go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer
4. Find the value “RPEnabled” and then double click it.
5. Change the 1 to a 0.
Now you should have the classic style start menu in Windows 8.

Testing shows the above Registry entry does not exist in the OEM copies of Windows 8 Pro 64 bit, though it may in other Windows 8 versions. If you try the above solution solution see if you arrive at the same conclusion.

If Windows 8.1 has been set to boot to the Desktop, the Start button does not provide a Start Menu as does Windows 7 - read below...........

A fully customizable alternative to get the Windows 7 look and behavior for Windows 8 & 8.1 is Stardock’s Start8 utility for Windows 8.1 & 8, or the Start10 utility for Windows 10. It provides a menu option on start up to go to the standard Win 8 tiled interface, or to a Win 7 styled desktop complete with a Start button and a familiar Start Menu. It is function and appearance customizable too. This utility has been checked out and it does everything as advertised. It can be downloaded as a trial, or a paid version (about AUD$12) at:

http://www.stardock.com/software

The page opens showing Start10 however further doen there is a link to Start8.

The Start10 version interface is not as fully populated at Start8, however it does group links into logical groups. A click on a group opens further links.


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Computer Security

I’d estimate that 50% of customers I encounter either pay little attention to, or are totally unaware of security on their computer. Things like subscriptions run out, security program not activated, unaware whether the program is running the protection elements in the background, and so on.
Then there are the people whose computer becomes infected by Trojans and the other malicious software that forms the payload, and they are at a loss as to the state of the computer. When someone is shown the scanning screen capture printout detailing 1142 infections (this was a real world case) it doesn’t appear to be a serious matter to them.

The point about this situation is do you think people need to become much more aware of what computer security is about? This blog is open for discussion.

Given the above is generalized, please add a more specific topic request into Comments if you want more. Ed.

# 09 Jan 2016, 6:35 pm


Windows 10 Availability

Windows 10 Availability

The release of Windows 10 occurred as scheduled for July 29 2015 as a upgrade managed via Windows Update.

Prefer Clean Install
For those who prefer to clean install new operating systems, there are original equipment manufactures (OEM) versions available at discount software online stores if you want to save some money. A search for "cheap software" or "discount software" will turn them up. There is a case for a clean install Of Windows, i.e. you don't inherit any existing problems that may be present in the current operating system. It is a lot of work however to go down that path, and you need install files or DVD's plus licence codes for all your programs. All data files need to be backed up in case. A clean install does not obliterate user created data files if they are in a folder other then the default - C:\Users\your user account name\Documents. If the data files are in Documents then back them up or move them to a temporary folder.

Unsure As Yet
Right now computers running Windows 7 and 8.1 will display a white 'Windows' logo in the notification area. This is generated by a Windows update KB3035583 that is not described as a link for Windows 10 upgrade. Clicking on the logo will open a window where you can reserve this upgrade. Further information is also displayed.

There are a few reasons why you may not want to upgrade to Windows 10:
  • Generally a new computer does not come with a Windows install DVD, and there may be a so called 'Recovery partition' on the hard drive. It isn't clear at this time if the recovery path will be retained to Windows 10 or revert to Windows 8.1.
  • Upgrading an operating system is known to not be infallible. Disasters do occur.
  • Upgrading may inherit any existing problems with the previous operating system.
  • You are perfectly OK with the current operating system.
  •  The initial release of an operating system is known to still have unresolved bugs. It is usually better to wait until the release of a service pack 1 version.
There are ways to remove the white logo. Before doing this you need to open Windows Update from the Control Panel, then reset the Update settings to "Check for updates but let me choose.........", and untick "Give me updates for other Microsoft products.........". It is essential to do this first to stop a the update file identified below from re-installing Get Windows 10.

Next step is to uninstall KB3035583 from Control Panel > Windows Update > View Update history > Installed updates. Locate the KB file number, highlight it and click Uninstall. If you are unsure get someone who is familiar with uninstalling updates.

Next do a manual check for Windows updates. if the KB3035583 shoes up again flag it as "hidden". That prevents inadvertant or auto installation of the Get Windows 10 function. That still leaves remnants behind, but that won't cause a problem. However if you want to get rid of the remnants then run a manual search via File Explorer (Windows Explorer) to  locate any remaining traces in the System32 and SysWOW64 folders that appear as a sub folder titled GWX. To do that involves shifting ownership and is too complex for writing about here. If you want to do this contact a computer tech.


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