Coast Computing Welcome

Welcome to the Coast Computing Blog

I want to thank all of you for your comments.

I started this blog as an extension of the following:

Our Privacy Policy

This blog is intended for those who want to know more about proper maintenance of their PC’s, Home Networking and Virus troubleshooting. Included are tips to help your machines and mind stay healthy. Enjoy!

My name is Paul and have been working with computers since 1986.

I write these articles to help people. Some of the biggest corporations will try to trick you into paying for computer software you can legally use for free. There are also many individuals that will try to hijack your computer and ransom your property for money. I am simply attempting to show you it is not difficult to lock down your computer(s) and keep your data safe.




Virus Prevention

Preventing a virus attack

One of the most complicated tasks we perform is virus removal. Also known as malware, trojans, back door threats, and adware.
A computer virus is a small software program that spreads from one computer to another and interferes with computer operation. A computer virus might corrupt or delete data on a computer, use an email program to spread the virus to other computers, or even delete everything on the hard disk. During the past few months we have seen a proliferation of  a nasty virus and variants of what is called the FBI moneypack virus.  FBI Moneypak ransom ware is a virus  that displays a fraudulent FBI warning as part of its attempt to steal money from the victim via Moneypak (that is typically purchased from local convenient stores). It is a close relative of the ‘Access to your computer was denied’ Virus, Police Central e-crime Unit ransomware, and others.

How do I know if my computer has been infected?

After you open and run an infected program or attachment on your computer, you might not realize that you’ve introduced a virus until you notice your system is somehow not acting as it usually does.

A few indicators that your computer might be infected:

  • Your computer runs more slowly than normal
  • Your computer stops responding or freezes often
  • Your computer crashes and restarts every few minutes
  • Your computer restarts on its own and then fails to run normally
  • Applications on your computer don’t work correctly
  • Disks or disk drives are inaccessible
  • You can’t print correctly
  • You see unusual error messages
  • You see distorted menus and dialog boxes
  • upon starting, you get an error message stating “operating system not found”

Thorough removal of these can take upwards to four hours and includes detecting the virus, deleting the signatures, and subsequent scans to be sure nothing is hidden and waiting to come back to life at a later date. If you pay what the virus programmers want, typically between $200 to $400, the virus will appear to be eliminated, when actually it is only disarmed so that it can, and will, again infect your system.

I can remove all these types of Virus/malware and others for around $80. You can be guaranteed your device will be clean and no remnants remain.

These viruses are typically the result of a visit to an adult site, coupon sites, an intentional dirty site, or through email. However, Beware of messages warning you that you’ve sent email that contained a virus. This can indicate that the virus has listed your email address as the sender of tainted email. This does not necessarily mean you have a virus. Some viruses have the ability to forge email addresses. In addition, there is a category of malware called rogue security software that works by causing fake virus alerts to pop up on your computer.

How do I prevent these programs from gaining control of your system?

Although a good virus program is your best first line of defense, these advanced, nasty viruses are known to disable your virus scanner as the first measure of gaining control of your device. You must be proactive whenever you go online. If you frequent adult and coupon sites, make sure your virus definitions are up to date, and do a full computer scan after leaving a suspect site. Download Malwarebyte’s  anti-malware program and run once a month to remove rogue programs. Be sure to just run this program as a standalone process, and do not run on an a consistent basis if you use Norton Internet Security as your virus program because of incompatibilities (this is as of May, 2013). Make sure the icon for your virus program is visible in the taskbar, so you will notice if it needs attention. Other things to consider include:

ü  Keep all software up to date. Regularly install updates for all your software and subscribe to automatic updates wherever possible.

ü  Use strong passwords and keep them secret. You can use a piece of software like Roboform that generates and stores strong passwords.

ü  Never turn off your firewall. A firewall puts a protective barrier between your computer and the Internet. Turning it off for even a minute increases the risk that your PC will be infected with malware.

ü  Use flash drives cautiously. Putting your flash drive (sometimes called a thumb drive) in a computer that is infected could corrupt the drive, and ultimately your computer.

Do not be tricked into downloading malware

  • Delivering malware in downloads that you think are pictures or movies, or through links that you click in email or instant messages (IM), or on a social network.
  • Scaring you into clicking a button or link they supply with fake warnings that your computer has a virus.
  • When downloading Adobe or Java updates, be sure to uncheck the box asking you to install Google or Ask toolbars. TOOLBARS are notorious for containing adware. Try to stay away from toolbar extensions.

Virus and spyware can cause many computing headaches. You must utilize a proactive approach to when online to mitigate your chances of infection.

PC Maintenance

How to Know If Your Computer Is Hacked – 12 Signs

1. You Can’t Access Your OS

True, one of the main reasons you might not be able to log into your operating systems is hardware failure or OS-related issues. But we’re not talking about that. In that case, your computer will generally keep restarting, or you’ll be booted into your OS’ Safe Mode instead.

What we’re referring to is getting a message that outright tells you your OS is locked down, and you won’t be able to access your files. You’ll be told to send a certain amount of money (a few hundred $ or more) to a cryptocurrency wallet address (usually a Bitcoin one), or a PayPal address. The message will state that if you don’t send the money in a certain amount of time, all your data will be wiped.

Sometimes, you might even be able to log into your OS, and see your computer’s desktop. But you won’t be able to do anything on it other than interact with the files left by the hacker, and see the new desktop background photo, which would normally be the message mentioned above.

If you’re in that situation, there’s no doubt that your computer has been hacked. Specifically, it was infected with ransomware – a type of malware that holds your data hostage until you pay up. To find out what you should do in such a scenario, skip to the “What to Do If your Computer Is Hacked With Ransomware” section below.

2. You See a Fake Antivirus/Antimalware Message

While this tactic is no longer as widely used by hackers as it was before, it’s still a sure sign that your computer has been compromised. In fact, the moment you see such a notification on your computer, it’s already too late since the infection has already spread to your OS.

Why do hackers bother with these notifications, then? Well, these fake messages are just the cybercriminal’s attempt at installing even more malware on your device. Alternatively, they might try to trick you into paying money for their “solution.” If you do that, not only will you waste money, but you’ll also have your credit card details stolen.

How do you know the antivirus/antimalware message is fake? Well, the best way to spot the differences is to know what your antivirus/antimalware provider’s notifications and messages normally look like. However, here are some signs that might give the fake message away:

  • You get spammed with messages telling you your computer is infected with malware and viruses.
  • The message has a spammy tone, and the writing contains grammatical errors.
  • The colors of the messages don’t match the brand colors of the legit antivirus/antimalware program you’re using.
  • You’re asked to download free software off the web to solve the security issues.
  • Closing the message by hitting “X” does nothing, or it redirects you to the online page where you’re supposed to download the free “solution.”

3. You Get Bombarded With Pop-Up Ads and Messages

Much like fake antivirus/antimalware messages, random pop-up messages and ads are also a sure sign your computer has been hacked. A normal one just won’t spam you with stuff like that.

Usually, this is caused by adware – malware that infects your computer with tons of ad-related pop-up notifications and messages. The ads you see can be for anything – drugs, medicine, pornography, video games, music, etc. They’ll often contain short, shady links that take you to phishing websites if you click on them. That can also happen if you hit the “X” button to close the message, though.

Also, if you try to close the messages, they’ll just pop up again in a few seconds. That, or new ads and messages will flood your screen whenever you try to close one.

4. You’re Missing Files/Programs and Notice New Ones

If you suddenly can’t find files or programs you knew you had on your computer, there’s a chance you’re dealing with a malware infection. Hackers tend to use malware that gives them remote access of victims’ computers. They then steal any sensitive information they might find (work files, intimate photos, etc.), delete it from the target’s computer, and try to blackmail them with that data. They might also uninstall or disable security programs.

Of course, remote control of your computer isn’t always the cause. Malware like worms and Trojans are also programmed to delete any files they come across to wreak havoc on your computer.

Besides that, you might also notice new programs on your computer, and new icons on your desktop. Those are called PUP (Potentially Unwanted Programs), and are files/programs installed by hackers which contain malware. If you interact with them, or perform any action that triggers their activation, your computer will be infected with even more malware and viruses.

5. Your Browser Has New, Unwanted Toolbars

It’s not hard to spot unwanted toolbars since they tend to clog your browser to the point where they might take up a quarter of the screen or more. Plus, they usually have a spammy design and weird names that make them stand out from normal toolbars – not to mention they try to redirect you to shady websites.

“At least I can easily get rid of them, right?”

Yeah, it’s usually enough to remove them, and reinstall your browser. However, the problem is that if your browser has been tampered with, it’s extremely likely your computer has been exposed to malware infections too.

6. Your Online Searches Get Redirected

If you type in anything in your browser or search engine, and you get redirected to a completely different website, it’s usually a dead giveaway that your computer was hacked. For example, googling “dog food” redirects you to a website about email marketing and lead generation.

This usually happens because a cybercriminal is using malware and security exploits to control where your browser is directing your connection requests. Most of the time, they do this because they are paid to deliver clicks to someone’s website, or because they want to drive a lot of traffic to an ad-infested website to make quick ad revenue.

However, sometimes, a hacker could redirect your browser search queries to a malicious phishing website. In that case, not only will your device be exposed to even more malware, but you’ll also have sensitive information stolen (like your credit card details, email login credentials, or bank account information).

7. Your CPU/GPU Is Being Used at Full Capacity

Having your CPU or GPU “put to work” (so to speak) while playing one of the latest video games is pretty normal, but they shouldn’t be used at full capacity, making very loud noises, and overheating.

If you notice that happening every time you start your computer, there’s a very big chance that it was infected with cryptomining malware. Basically, a hacker is using your computer’s graphics card and/or processor to mine for cryptocurrencies. Not only will that drive up your electricity bill, it can also make your computer slower, and damage your GPU, CPU, and fans through overheating.

You should also become alert if you just notice that your computer case fans are noisier than usual. That can happen if too much dust accumulates, but if you clean your computer, and the noise persists, there’s a chance cryptomining malware is at play. It’s just that the cybercriminal crontrolling it is trying to keep it a secret, so he/she is not using your computer’s full power.

8. Your Contacts Receive Spammy Messages/Emails from You

If your friends, family, or work contacts are asking you about weird messages they received from your email address and/or social media profiles, it’s safe to say you’ve been hacked. The messages might contain shorten, shady links, pornographic content, or might outright ask your contacts to share sensitive information, which will be swiftly stolen.

Basically, either a cybercriminal has managed to take over your accounts, or they released malware in your computer that automatically replicates by sending out malicious messages to your contacts.

Sometimes, the hacker or malware might create tons of spammy posts on your social media profiles that contain malicious links. Anyone that interacts with them will have their own computer infected with the same malware.

9. Your Passwords Are No Longer Working

If you try to log into your email address, social media profile, bank account, or operating system, and get a message telling you the login credentials you entered are wrong, there’s a chance you’re the victim of a cyber attack.

Sure, you might have just entered the wrong password or username, or missed a character or two. That can happen.

However, if you are 100% you’re typing in the correct credentials, the only explanation is that a cybercriminal has managed to take over your accounts, and has locked you out of them. They can manage such a feat by using malware, phishing messages, or exploiting security vulnerabilities to steal sensitive data from you, like usernames and passwords.

10. Your Computer Does Things on Its Own

Is your mouse cursor moving by itself, preventing you from running security scans or interacting with icons on your desktop? That’s likely because a hacker has remote access to your computer, and can control it from the comfort of their own home. Cybercriminals normally manage to do that by infecting computers with Trojans and rootkits.

The biggest mistake you can make in this case is thinking that those “involuntary” actions taken on your computer are just glitches or hardware bugs. If you ignore them, the hacker will likely wait until your computer idles (when you’re not using it, basically), and use it to empty your bank accounts, and steal personal data which can later be sold on the deep web. They might also try to spread the malware to other people in your contacts list – either through email or social media messages.

11. Your Online Accounts Are Missing Money

We’re not just talking about missing $10-$20, though you should definitely contact your payment provider or bank if you notice regular unapproved transactions, no matter how small the amount is.

The classic sign that your computer has been hacked is an empty (or nearly empty) bank account. If a cybercriminal goes through all the effort to hack your device, they’re going to take as much money as they can. So, if you suddenly see you’re missing hundreds or thousands of $, you now know what the main cause could be.

Basically, a hacker might have infected your computer with malware that allows them to monitor your activities – including your keystrokes. Then, they just use that info to break into your accounts, and steal your money.

12. Your Antivirus/Antimalware Program No Longer Works

If your security software has suddenly stopped working, or you just noticed it was disabled, that can be a sign of a cybercriminal having control over your computer. That’s especially true if you can’t start up the antivirus/antimalware program at all, or if it has been uninstalled without your permission.

True, a system restore point could cause that too, but if you’re also not able to start your operating system’s Task Manager or Registry Editor, then there’s no doubt you’ve been hacked.

What to Do If Your Computer Is Hacked – Follow These 7 Tips

Before we get started, we should mention that these tips will only help if you have a second computer or laptop you can use. Of course, it should have no traces of malware infections or hacking activities.

If you don’t have a second device you can use, see if you can use one of your friends’ computers. Just make sure they run an antivirus/antimalware scan beforehand.

1. Isolate Your Computer

First things first, you need to make sure your computer is completely isolated from the Internet. So, make sure you remove all Ethernet cables, and turn off WiFi connectivity. If your device has a switch to turn off WiFi, use that instead of the software switch since a hacker can tamper with that to turn it back on. If you’re worried that your router might have been hacked too, you can disconnect it as well.

Since some malware or viruses can harm your computer even when it’s not connected to the web, we recommend disconnecting the device from the power source too.

2. Remove and “Clean” the Hard Drive

Next, take out the hard drives from your computer, and connect them to the second computer or laptop. Ideally, the device should run a powerful security program, like Malwarebytes and ESET.

We recommend using a USB drive caddy to connect the compromised hard drives to the second device since it’s safer. If you really need to place them in the computer or laptop, make sure they are set to secondary “slave” drivers. Otherwise, they’ll boot up first, and infect the second device with your malicious operating system.

Once you have safely connected the hard drives in the second computer or laptop, run a scan with the antimalware/antivirus program installed on it. Quarantine and delete any infections that are found.

When the hard drives are clean, back up any data you need from them – stuff like work files, personal photos and videos, important documents, etc.

Afterwards, completely wipe your hard drives. It might sound unnecessary after you just ran a security scan and got rid of all malware, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. You can do that with services like Disk Wipe or DBAN, but you can also check out the other options on this lengthy list.

3. Reinstall Your Operating System and Security Software

After you’re done cleaning the hard drives, it’s time to put them back into your main computer. Once everything is set up, reinstall your operating system.

Once your OS is up and running, install the necessary drivers (motherboard, GPU, CPU, etc.). However, for the moment, we recommend not installing your LAN/Internet drivers yet. Before you do that, install your antivirus/antimalware program first to make sure you have a line of defense when you connect to the web. If you don’t have an installer, just download it on the second device, and put in on a USB stick.

Also, a bit unrelated but still important to mention – in the future, make sure your antivirus/antimalware software is always up-to-date. If it isn’t, it might not be able to keep up with the latest cyber attacks and malware.

When everything is configured, copy all the data you backed up from your hard drives.

4. Contact Your Bank and Payment Processors

If some of your money has gone missing, you need to get in touch with your bank as soon as possible. Let them know what happened, and that a hacker stole money from you. Depending on the situation, your bank might be able to help you recover the funds.

If you use an online payment platform like PayPal or Payoneer, you should contact their representatives as well if money has gone missing from those accounts.

Even if none of your funds are missing, it might still be a good idea to at least give your bank a heads-up that you’ve been the victim of a cyber attack.

5. Reset All Passwords & Set Up Multi-Factor Authentication

Even if your online accounts haven’t been tampered with, it’s still a good idea to reset all your passwords. Ideally, you should come up with strong passwords, and make sure you use a different one for each account. Also, to boost their security, you should change them on a regular basis.

Beside that, you should enable any form of multi-factor authentication on your accounts. The standard is two-factor authentication, where you need to use a randomly-generated code on your phone to complete the login process. That way, even if a hacker manages to steal your password, he/she won’t be able to access your accounts.

However, if your accounts are already compromised, it’s best to create new ones from scratch. It’s a hassle, but it’s much safer to do that.

6. Let All Your Contacts Know About This

Tell everyone (your family, friends, and even work colleagues) that your computer was hacked so that they know to ignore and report any suspicious messages they might receive from your social media and email accounts.

Make sure you stress how important it is to make sure they don’t click on any shady links they might have gotten from you, or open any attachments that were sent to them.

7. Install a VPN, and Use It When Browsing the Web in the Future

A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is an online service that can hide your IP address and encrypt your web traffic. While it can’t combat malware infections, it can help you secure your traffic while browsing the web.

Basically, if you don’t use a VPN, cybercriminals can exploit WiFi vulnerabilities to monitor your online traffic. By doing that, they can steal valuable information from you – like your login credentials, the contents of your messages, and your credit card or bank account details. With that kind of data, any hacker could easily steal money from you, and hack into your computer.

“But that’s only a risk if I’m using public WiFi, right?’

True, public WiFI is extremely unsafe to use – especially since most networks don’t use any encryption at all. However, your own home network has its flaws too. After all, even if you’re using WPA2, cybercriminals can still crack it with the right cyber attack. And that problem will only be fixed when WPA3 rolls out, but that might be years away.

So, you’re better off just using a VPN on your home computer at all times – alongside a secure antivirus/antimalware program, preferably. If you want to make things simpler, just set up the VPN connection on your router. That way, any time your computer (or any other device) connects to your home network, it will automatically use a VPN connection.

A VPN can make sure you’re always safe on the web by:

  • Encrypting all your data with military-grade encryption.
  • Securing your connections with powerful protocols like SoftEther and OpenVPN.
  • Safeguarding your online browsing from DNS leaks with built-in protection.
  • Ensuring your traffic is never exposed – even if you encounter connection errors – with a high-end Kill Switch.

What to Do If your Computer Is Hacked With Ransomware

Well, let’s address the first thing that’ll go through your head – should you pay the ransom or not? Most security experts advise against doing that since the cybercriminal could have the ransomware delete or refuse to decrypt your data anyway. On the other hand, you might be lucky, and the hacker might hand over the decryption key. Stuff like that has happened before when a hospital chose to pay a $55,000 ransom.

You can also try contacting law enforcement, though you shouldn’t 100% rely on them. How fast your problem is solved depends on how laws treat ransomware situations in your country, whether or not your police force has a dedicated cybercrime unit, and what other criminal issues take priority over your own. Since you’re dealing with a time limit with ransomware, waiting around isn’t really a good option.

So, if none of the options above are something you want to try, you might be successful with the following steps:

  • First, you need to isolate your computer. The moment you notice it’s infected with ransomware, you need to unplug it from the power source, Internet/WiFi network, and any storage devices (like external hard drives).
  • See exactly what kind of ransomware you’re dealing with it. Normally, that should be easy since the ransomware message usually names the infection. If it doesn’t you can try using ID Ransomware or Crypto Sheriff to identify it.
  • Use The No More Ransom Project to see if you can get rid of the infection, and find a way to recover your files without paying any ransom. You can also try using Kasperky’s decryptors to see if any of them help you.
  • If the ransomware only locked your web browser, just open your computer’s Task Manager, and terminate the process for the browser. Restart the system, and run an antimalware scan.
  • If you manage to recover some of the files you need, you should completely wipe your hard drives. You can also get newer ones if you prefer that option. Next, you just need to do a clean install of your operating system. Unfortunately, this might be the only thing you can do if you’re unsuccessful in recovering the data that’s taken hostage too.

Usually, the best thing to do is take preventive measures – use powerful antivirus/antimalware software, avoid phishing messages, and always keep an offline backup of the important data on your computer.

The Bottom Line

Well, first, ask yourself this “is my computer hacked?”

To know that for sure, here are some clear signs you should look for:

  • Random pop-up messages and ads that keep crowding your desktop.
  • Fake antivirus/antimalware messages that claim your system is infected (not far from the truth, to be honest), and that you need to download “free” software by following shady link.
  • Your mouse cursor starts moving on its own, and you notice that some of your files have been deleted or moved to different folders.
  • New programs and icons start appearing on your desktop.
  • There are new toolbars on your browser you never installed.
  • All your Internet searches get redirected to shady websites.
  • You friends, family, and work colleagues say they’ve been receiving weird, spammy messages from your accounts.
  • You can no longer log into your online accounts since the passwords you enter are wrong.
  • Your CPU and GPU start heating up excessively when you start your OS, and they make a lot of noise.
  • Your antivirus/antimalware program no longer works, or has been uninstalled.
  • Money starts disappearing from your online accounts.
  • Lastly, you get a message saying you can’t access your OS or files if you don’t pay a ransom to decrypt them.

If any of those signs are familiar, here’s what to do if your computer is hacked:

  1. Isolate your computer from the web.
  2. Take out the hard drives, and connect them to a second computer/laptop that’s malware/virus-free. If you need to insert the hard drives in the second device, make sure they’re set to be a secondary “slave” driver.
  3. Run antivirus/antimalware scans on the hard drives, recover what data you can, and then wipe them.
  4. Place the hard drives back in your main computer, and reinstall your operating system.
  5. After installing some necessary drivers, install a reliable antivirus/antimalware program. Do that before installing the web drivers.
  6. Contact your bank and the online payment platforms you’re using if money has gone missing.
  7. Let all your contacts know about this. They need to ignore any malicious messages they might have received from you.
  8. Install a VPN on your computer, and use it to secure your online connections in the future.

Now, if you’re dealing with ransomware, your options include paying the ransom, contacting the authorities, or trying to handle things on your own. Unfortunately, the first two options are not always the best ones, and you’re not guaranteed any results. You might be successful on your own (isolating the computer, identifying the ransomware, using The No More Ransom Project or Kasperky’s decryptors to get rid of the ransomware, recovering some files and wiping the hard drives), but you shouldn’t get your hopes too high since it might sometimes be impossible to recover from a ransomware attack. Your best option is to prevent it.ShareTweetLinkedInPin it

PC Maintenance

Internet Explorer Warning!

As of 4/1/19 having Internet Explorer on your computer can cause security issues. This applies to:

Windows Server 2019 Windows 10 1803 (tbd, codename RS4) Windows 10 1709 (Fall Creators update, codename RS3) Windows 10 1703 (Creators update, codename RS2) Windows 10 1607 (Anniversary update, codename RS1) / Windows Server 2016 Windows 10 1511 (November update, codename TH2) Windows 10 1507 (RTM, codename TH1) Windows 8.1/Windows 2012 R2 Windows 8/Windows 2012 Windows 7 SP1/Windows 2008 R2 SP1 Windows Vista/Windows 2008.

Until Microsoft issues a patch ( that they seem reluctant to do) It is best to let another browser handle Mht files. You can do this by going to control panel/ Default Programs and scroll down the page (Windows 10) and select “Choose default apps by file type”. Scroll down the left side to .MHT, click on Internet Explorer icon on the right and choose another browser.

The problem is a weakness that exploits the way a browser handles MHTML (MHT) files. This is IE’s default web page archiving format. It  allows the remote attacker to steal local files and conduct remote spying on locally installed information.

04/19/19 UPDATE:

Windows 10, IE and MHT files Here’s an easy way to disassociate Internet Explorer from MHT in Win10:

Step 1: Make sure filename extensions are showing. Click on File Explorer (the icon at the bottom that looks like a file folder), then at the top click View. Make sure the box marked File name extensions is checked.

Step 2: Right-click an empty spot on your desktop and choose File > New > Rich Text Format (actually, any kind of file will work). Windows puts a new file of that type on your desktop, with the name already highlighted so you can change it.

Step 3: Rename the file to wow.mht or anythingelse.mht. Make sure you’ve deleted all of the old filename, including the part to the right of the period. Hit enter. Windows will nag you about changing file name extensions. Click Yes, thank you, Mother Microsoft.

Step 4: Right-click on the newly created mht file and click Open with….

Step 5: Click More apps, then Notepad (or some equally innocuous program), check the box marked Always use the app to open .mht files, and click OK.

Step 6: Test to make sure you’ve subverted MHT files by double-clicking on your desktop MHT file. From that point on, any MHT file will open in Notepad – and the infection cycle has been broken.

Windows 7 and 8.1

The process is more straightforward in Win7 and 8.1. Here’s how: Step 1: Click Start > Control Panel > Programs and under Default Programs click Make a file type always open in a specific program. Step 2: On the left, scroll down to .mht. See how it’s associated with Internet Explorer? Click on mht and click Change program… Windows shows you a pane that’s marked Open with. Step 3. On the lower right, click Browse, navigate to c:\Windows\System32, scroll way down, click on Notepad.exe and click Open. Click OK.

The process is more straightforward in Win7 and 8.1.

Step 1: Click Start > Control Panel > Programs and under Default Programs click Make a file type always open in a specific program.

Step 2: On the left, scroll down to .mht. See how it’s associated with Internet Explorer? Click on mht and click Change program… Windows shows you a pane that’s marked Open with.

Step 3. On the lower right, click Browse, navigate to c:\Windows\System32, scroll way down, click on Notepad.exe and click Open. Click OK.

Identity Theft Online Security

Identity Theft

This is a compilation from may sources. This first part is edited from Bank of America information. This post is the first in a continuing series.

  • What you need to know:
    • Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information to commit fraudulent acts (like withdrawing money from your account, opening new credit cards or applying for loans or employment)
    • Common signs of identity theft include:
      • Unauthorized withdrawals from your account
      • Bills for unfamiliar debt or failure to receive bills
      • Suspicious charges on your account
      • New accounts or loans you didn’t apply for
      • Being denied credit unexpectedly
      • The IRS notifying you that more than 1 tax return was filed in your name, or that you have income from an employer you don’t work for
  • What you need to do:
    • Review your statements for unusual transactions or suspicious charges
    • Be sure to keep your contact information (especially your cell phone number and email address) current.
    • Enroll in Verify Your Visa Card is With You layer to allow us to approve transactions when you travel.
    • If you use the Bank of America Mobile Banking app, allow push alerts and be sure to review and respond to alerts promptly
    • Review our fraud prevention checklist for steps you can take to help establish a strong defense against fraud
    • Learn more about online security and privacy
    • Make the default ID for your internet router unique to you; change the password to make it more difficult for hackers to access your network

Taking proper precautions helps to make sure your personal and financial information — as well as your identity — remains safe.

  • What you need to do:
    • Use a strong, unique password for each of your accounts. Memorize them and use multi-factor authentication where available. Learn more about creating strong passwords
    • Only download software or applications from well-known or reputable sources, such as Apple, Google Play or Microsoft. Check the logos, developer names and reviews to spot fake applications. Scammers count on users being too busy to see differences that can make fake software easier to spot.
    • Install any operating system and software updates (sometimes called patches or service packs)
    • Turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth services when you’re not using them, and avoid using public Wi-Fi for financial transactions unless you use a secure, private connection, like VPN software.
    • Back up your data regularly. If you use online or cloud storage, be sure you understand your provider’s privacy and security policies and keep your access codes safe.
    • Use the administrator log in on your home computer only for creating new users and installing software. If you use administrator accounts when browsing the internet, banking or reading email, the risk of malicious code entering your computer without detection is much greater. Create standard user accounts for yourself and everyone in your family to limit your exposure.
    • Review our fraud prevention checklist for steps you can take to help establish a strong defense against fraud


  • How you can help protect your smartphone
  • What you need to do:
    • Be sure to keep your contact information (especially your cell number and email address) current
    • If you use the Bank of America Mobile Banking app, allow push alerts, and be sure to review and respond to alerts promptly
    • Set a security code/PIN or fingerprint sign-in and enable remote wipe and find my phone features to make sure you’re covered if your phone is lost
    • Only download software or applications from well-known or trusted sources–and never click a link from an unknown source or sender
    • Install system and software updates (sometimes called patches or service packs)
    • Turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth services when you’re not using them, and avoid using public Wi-Fi for financial transactions unless you use a secure, private connection, like VPN software.
    • Never root or jailbreak your own mobile device to gain access to unofficial applications. This practice may lead to security vulnerabilities and the inability to apply future software updates from the vendor.
    • Review our fraud prevention checklist for more helpful steps


  • How you can identify and avoid scams
  • What you need to know:
    • There’s a growing type of fraud called business email compromise. Learn about business email compromise on the FBI website
    • Business identity fraud has become surprisingly common because of the easy accessibility of business information, including website data, company name and staff rosters
  • What you need to do:
    • Minimize the risks by using your work computer for business, checking your domain name regularly and reviewing your business credit report
    • Know your customers’ habits, including their payment amounts, reasons and details. Look out for any significant changes to those habits – they might signal a fraud issue.
    • Ensure all business data is securely and regularly backed up. Test the recovery function of your backup procedures regularly to make sure your data is always retrievable.
    • Develop a plan for cybersecurity and fraud disaster recovery. For more fraud prevention best practices for small businesses, check out our Small Business Online Community.
    • For resources for larger businesses, explore information from our Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Banking and Markets fraud page
    • Engage a trusted advisor to review your security controls and policies on at least an annual basis


Online Security Tips

How secure is your password?

Use the following link to view the security of your passwords:



The Best Alternatives to Facebook

By now, you’re probably aware of Facebook’s improper use of your personal data. Both The Guardian and The New York Times published explosive reports about the improper use of data belonging to 50 million Facebook users by Trump campaign-affiliated data firm Cambridge Analytica.

The incident is the most high-profile misuse of Facebook’s systems to become public, but it’s far from the only one. Russian propagandists slipped through Facebook’s advertising safeguards to try to influence the 2016 presidential election. In 2014, the social network allowed academics to use the News Feed to tinker with users’ emotions.

If all that has you thinking about deleting Facebook entirely, you’re far from alone. (Quitting the social network is also somewhat of a first-world privilege, since for many people Facebook functions as the entire internet itself.) Going cold turkey can be hard; Facebook actually provides some useful services, and there’s no one-for-one replacement.


Fortunately, you can pretty easily put together anything you might miss from Facebook with a combination of apps and services. It won’t be exactly same, but at least you’ll be less tempted to use Facebook. If you no longer want to use Facebook, be sure to delete it from your mobile device otherwise the app can still spy on you. Facebook has the ability to formulate your location by analyzing the dust on your camera lens! Imagine the other things they know about you.


News Feed

Lots of services can feed you the latest news. Facebook, though, displays the specific stories your friends and family are talking about. If you value that feature, Nuzzleis a great choice. You can sync the app to other social networks you might use, like Twitter and LinkedIn, and it will feed you the articles your friends, as well as friends of friends, are talking about. The app also has a “Best of Nuzzel” feature where you can see the stories being widely discussed across the whole platform.

For more general news that can delight and surprise, try Digg, an aggregation site that prioritizes deeply reported features on a range of topics as well as lots of fun and quirky news stories. And of course, iPhone and iPad owners can always just fire up Apple News if they don’t want to bother setting up a whole new system. None of those fit the bill?


One of Facebook’s most useful features isn’t the main app itself, but its spinoff app Messenger. But while Messenger makes it easy to chat with Facebook friends, it’s also confusing and riddled with clutter. If you’re looking for a clean and easy-to-use messaging app, try Signal. It’s a free, end-to-end encrypted messaging service, approved by security researchers, that sticks to the basics. There are no animated stickers or fancy chat bots, but Signal does an excellent job of keeping you securely connected to your friends and family. It also has a desktop version, allowing you to sync messages between your computer and phone, just like on Messenger. Signal can import your contacts, so it’s easy to start a thread with anyone you already have saved in your phone. Signal also has several additional security features that might come in handy if you’re aiming to avoid surveillance, like the ability to set messages to delete after a certain amount of time. You can also use Signal to make voice and video calls, just like on Messenger. There are absolutely no advertisements, and the app does not collect your personal information. WhatsApp also offers encrypted messaging, using the same underlying protocol as Signal. But Facebook owns WhatsApp—and can extract some metadata from its users—which defeats the purpose of trying to rid you life of the social network. Even WhatsApp cofounder Brian Acton says it’s time to delete Facebook.


One of the primary reasons to stay on Facebook is not to miss an invite to a party or other event. It’s worth unpacking that notion in the first place: If your friend or family member doesn’t realize you’re not on Facebook, do they really value your presence at the event they’re planning? If someone genuinely wants you somewhere, they’ll find a way to invite you, Facebook or no. From the planning side, collecting peoples’ contact info can be a pain, sure. But that’s a one-time bother. From there, use Paperless Post for beautiful and functional email invites and RSVP tracking. And for more rote calendar-coordination, use Doodle to find the best day for a dinner or meeting that works for everyone. The site lets each guest respond with a time that works for them, so you can easily figure out how best to accommodate everyone’s schedule.


Birthday Reminders

Another worry with deleting Facebook is that without it, you won’t be able to remember anyone’s birthday. Luckily, there’s a way to export your friends’ birthdays directly from Facebook before you delete your account. First, log into the social network, then click Events on the left-hand side. Toward the bottom, there’s an option to add events to your calendar of choice, like Microsoft Outlook, Google Calendar, or Apple Calendar. There, tap “Learn More.” (This is as of 1.1.18) You’ll be led to a full set of instructions for how to export all your friends’ birthdays. If you’re friends with hundreds or thousands of people on Facebook, it understandably might not be worthwhile to put them all in your Gcal. In this case, it might be easiest just to take 20 minutes or so to add your close friends and family member’s special days to your calendar. And really, did the annual onslaught of best wishes on Facebook add much to your life in the first place?


In 2016, Facebook introduced Marketplace, a feature allowing users to buy and sell items from people in their communities. As a replacement, consider Nextdoor, an app designed to keep you in the loop about what’s happening in your neighborhood. It has a free and for sale section that, like Marketplace, emphasizes local offerings, and feels less sketchy than Craigslist.


Groups are the hardest feature of Facebook to replace, since they serve a wide range of purposes for different people. If you’re looking to organize friends and family in one place, GroupMe is a great choice. The app helps create an organized group chat, where you can share photos and messages. If you’re looking for a larger circle of people interested in the same topic, there’s almost certainly a sub-group on Reddit to fill your needs.

Third-Party Logins

For many people, Facebook accounts have become de-facto identities across the internet, thanks to the social network’s integration with third-party apps like Tinder and Spotify. When you sign up for a service using Facebook instead of filling out a form with your personal information, deleting that Facebook account creates additional headaches.

The best replacement is a password manager, which can store your credentials for every site you use in one place. It can also generate a new, secure password every time you sign up for a new website or service. Here’s an in-depth guide to choosing the best password manager for you and why you should be using one. Our two favorite picks are 1Password and LastPass. While you’ll still need to provide information like your name and email address—you usually don’t need to manually input this info if you sign up with Facebook—using a password manager will prevent third-party apps from collecting the personal information you’ve provided to the social network.

One word of warning: Many dating apps require Facebook integration to work, meaning you won’t be able to use them if you delete your account. You can still create a Tinder account without Facebook, but you will loose all your current matches and conversations. Hinge and Bumble require you to have a Facebook account to sign up, though the latter company says it’s working on dropping that requirement.

One Last Consideration

While deleting Facebook might feel like a step in a more private direction, it’s ultimately not going to do much to change the online digital economy that profits by collecting your personal information and selling it to data brokers. Facebook collects arguably the most private information, but plenty of other popular social networking apps like Snapchat and Twitter collect your data too. That’s their entire business model: When you’re not paying for a product, you are the product. Even your internet-service provider is likely collecting your personal information. In fact, through its expansive ad network, Facebook even collects info from people who aren’t even on the platform.

Still, deleting your Facebook account will prevent some of your personal info from being sucked up, and might make you feel better too. And with a few choice downloads, you won’t miss a thing.


Favorite Chrome Shortcuts


  1. Press Shift and click a link – Opens the link in a new window.
  2. Ctrl 9 – Switches to the last tab.
  3. Ctrl Shift V– Paste copied content from the clipboard without formatting (ie,pastes as plain text if you copied some content from a webpage)
  4. Ctrl Shift B– Toggles the bookmarks bar on and off.
  5. Ctrl Shift T– Reopens the last tab you closed. Google Chrome remembers up to 10 tabs you closed recently.
  6. Alt F or Alt E – Opens your settings menu for Chrome.
  7. Shift Esc – Opens the Task Manager of Chrome, which will let you monitor system usage by each tab and kill tabs you wish.
  8. Type a URL, then press Alt Enter – Opens the URL in a new tab.
  9. Press Alt and click a link. – Downloads the target of the link.
  10. Ctrl Shift D– Saves all open pages as bookmarks in a new folder.

More Chrome Stuff

You can do a lot of things in Google Search. From Easter eggs to handy shortcuts that give you want you want and what you need almost instantly, Google Search is the tool.

Play “Atari Breakout”(Google Images)

Go to Google Images, type “Atari Breakout”, hit the Search button, wait for a second for the game to start.

Play Zerg Rush

Type “zerg rush” and click Search in Google Search to play this cheeky game. Your page is taken over by little o’s and you have to click on them destroy them, before they destroy your search results.

Input Handwriting for Translation

Did you know that on Google translate, you can write input words you want to translate via handwriting? Go to Google Translator, click the pencil option at the bottom left side of the text box and write the word by hand. This is helpful when translating from character-based languages.

How to Pronounce Big Numbers

To have Google Search teach you how to pronounce big numbers, just type in the figure then add an equal (=) and the language you want it to be pronounced in. This works for up to 13 digits only.

Solve Geometrical Shapes

With google search you can solve for geometrical shapes such as circle, rectangle, triangle, trapezoid, ellipse etc. Type “solve” and add a shape e.g. “solve triangle”, click the search button and it will return you with a calculator to solve that shape. You can choose to solve for area, perimeter, gamma, height, side (a) or side (c). Each shape carries a different calculator.

Calculate the Waiter Tip with Google Tip Calculator

If you are poor with math but not with tips, use Google’s Tip Calculator to do the math for you. Search “tip calculator” , enter your bill amount, tip % and select the number of people contributing to the bill to get the tip.

Currency Conversion

Although currency conversions could be done via Google Currency Converter but if you want to perform currency conversion directly from Google search bar then just type the currency you want to convert from and into like this: 100 gbp to usd. The search result will return with the converted amount.

Conversion of Units for Different Quantities

Apart from currency you can also convert units for different quantities such as: lbs to kgs as an example. There are 9 categories you can do conversions in: temperature, length, mass, speed, volume, area, fuel consumption, time and digital storage.

Translation between Languages

Want quick translations of a short phrase or just a few words? Type the language you want to translate from and the language you want to translate into to turn your search bar into a temporary translator. In this example, we tried “French to English”.

Use Google Timer Right from Search Bar

Need a timer? Type in Google Timer and a box will pop up, allowing you to enter any amount of time, for example 45 seconds. Google Timer will start the countdown and a beeping alarm will ring once it reaches 0. Google timer can be set for full screen as well.

Get Sunrise & Sunset Timings in Your City

You can get sunrise and sunset timings in your city or even any other international city. Search sunrise or sunset in city_name like so: “sunrise in kuala lumpur”, or “sunset in kuala lumpur”, and the search result will return with the exact time.

Weather Forecast

Heading out or want to know how the weather is like in a place you are visiting soon? Check out the weather forecast by typing the city_name and adding “forecast” at the back e.g. LA forecast.

Check Your Flight Status

A handy trick for frequent fliers. If you have someone picking you up at the airport, just give them your flight number and they can check your flight status. e.g. PK304. It will also show the terminal and gate where you will arrive.

Search the Release Date of A Movie

Find out when your new favorite movie is coming to cinemas near you. Type “movie_name” and add “release date” e.g. “transporter refueled release date” to find out when it will be showing.

Search Books by an Author

Found a new author you like? Find all the books written by the author by typing “books by author_name” e.g. books by John Green. All books written by the author will be displayed, along with the year it was published.

Move Google Search

Type “do a barrel roll” or “tilt”.

Go Retro

If you are craving to see how the very first version of google looks like way back when, type “google in year” e.g. “google in 1998” and hit the search button.

PC Maintenance

Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) fake virus

I have mentioned online frauds like this several times in other posts.

Never, I mean NEVER fall victim to scammers that call you on the phone and say your computer is infected, or your Microsoft license needs to be renewed. If your screen gets a bogus pop up saying you are infected, simply reboot your computer to eliminate the warning. And never let anyone remote into your computer saying they will do a scan to fix your computer. Except, of course, a professional like myself. I can remove viruses and tune up your computer from a remote location. I have provided this service over 10 years and will repair your computer for a fraction of the cost of these  fraudulent support scammers.

This post is about one of the latest scams to take your money. It is called the fake BSOD or Blue Screen of Death virus.

BSOD is a term from the early days of MS Windows. The BSOD was a system crash that led to a blue error screen telling you to shut down. However, this new support fraud instructs you to not shut down, else your data will be compromised, deleted or otherwise ruined.

Out of desperation, many people panic and forget to call me. They dial the displayed toll-free number (toll free telephone? in 2017! Ridiculous) A “technician” answers and instructs you your computer has been infected with malware. They tell you to shut the computer off and contact a certified Microsoft technician for repair. It is explained it would take a week to fix and cost roughly $350. Of course this inconvenience is a lot to ask so, of course, the fake technician states “No problem, we can repair your machine remotely for $250. After the fee is paid ( which compromises your credit or bank card) time passes while it appears the computer is being fixed. In addition to taking money from you, the computer was never infected and the “technician” most likely installed a subpar antivirus program that will allow them to charge you a yearly fee. I had one customer tell me she asked the alleged technician if she was being scammed. The technician replied “No, but you are asking all the right questions” What an honest sounding company, they even said it was not a scam. If it was a scam they would tell you, right? Phony psychological comfort like this puts someone at ease and logic and sensibility get buried.

Remember: No one that ever contacts you via phone or email and says your infected can ever know if you are indeed infected. They are simply gambling with cold calling until they find an uneducated and trusting person. In addition, if you ever get a call saying your MS Windows license is up and you need to renew – this is never true. If they say they are from Microsoft and will clean your computer -this is never true. Microsoft is a software company and they do not clean infected computers. Only third party technicians like myself are qualified to do this work.

If something like this happens to you, call me and I will show you how to eliminate this fake virus. I will charge $25, much less than the hundreds these fraudulent companies charge. Even if you do have an infected computer our charge is $45 to $65 for a remote cleaning. Charging over $200 for a virus removal is ridiculous.


Never allow ANYONE to remote into your computer unless you ABSOLUTELY know they are an honest company. Read their website information, Facebook page, and talk to people who have used their service. Online scammers are getting VERY sneaky in their approach to finding was of separating you from your hard earned money.


  • Never call the toll free number
  • Do not click anywhere within the popup window
  • Close the browser from Task Manager
  • Reboot your computer
  • If all fails call me!

Paul – Coast Computing 561.452.6132




Online Jobs

Fake Work at Home Internet Jobs

I’m always getting questions from people concerning online businesses. Fromm time to time we will review some of these and let you know the REAL story. This week’s entry is about Feeder Focus. Thanks to John from for some good writing.


You can’t help but wonder if sites like this is a scam or if you can actually make a solid, honest income, which is why I have put together this Feeder Focus review.

Feeder Focus, which can be found at is a site created by Mutinda Kisio from Kenya.

Using the same methods as any other cash gifting program, Feeder Focus “focuses” on the recruitment of others in order to make money.

There are no tangible products that come from here and the site is also not complete, which of course raised a lot of red flags.

Their FAQ’s page is not even populated and the only testimonial is coming from the actual owner, which makes no sense.

Not the best start, but there’s always a target market for things and you might just be the perfect candidate.

Who This Is For

Not the best start, but there’s always a target market for things and you might just be the perfect candidate.

This is where Feeder Focus comes in and becomes the “solution” to their problems.

I mean, who doesn’t want or needs to make more money?

Probably every single person you know.

So those that are completely desperate to make money will of course give into this type of stuff, which will not be their solution to their financial problems.

Allow me to explain.

How Feeder Focus Works

The concept behind this program is very simple and brings nothing new to the table.

They do try to mock the business model of revenue sharing by using advertising as its product, but there really is no actual product attached to this site.

All this really is, is nothing but a front to have some type of product to offer when everything is done for the sole purpose of promoting your links and getting others to join so that YOU can make money.

You don’t recruit anyone, you don’t make any money, and yes, it is really that simple.

Will Feeder Focus Make You Any Money?

I’m sure we all want to make a one time $5 investment and turn it into $166,800 or even just $10,000 but I can promise you that that will not happen.

Just like Wealth Rising, which really thought they’d accomplish the same feat and didn’t even come close to making anyone rich.

Besides the owner, of course.

Then there are the Bitcoin MLM type sites that operate the same exact way, but focus on digital currency and still are kept afloat by new people joining.

Are you seeing the pattern of these types of sites?

Try to see the bigger picture or you will just be another contributor to another owner whose site will probably last no longer than 3 months like the rest.

Final Verdict: DO Not Join

It really doesn’t matter if this is a scam or not as it is only a matter of time before everything slows down and everyone jumps ship looking for the next best thing.

Feeder Focus might not be a scam but I can promise you that it will not make you the type of money you’re thinking.

This site offers nothing but hype and I will rather have you do an actual MLM with real products  and a better business model with something like Melaleuca.

This site is not even close to being a solid opportunity, so don’t waste your time here.


There are literally thousands of sites like this that come and go on a daily basis and not a single one of them will last.

Without a solid product or service, this type of stuff is designed for the owner to make what they can and most likely try to come up with something else to lure people into their new “opportunity”.

If you want to make money, it requires some learning, some hard work, and some dedication.



Miscl Online Security

Net Neutrality and Privacy

Last year Obama created new rules that regulated the way consumer data could be exploited by your ISP. They were scheduled to go into effect this December. President Trump scuttled this. The future of your broadband privacy is at risk more than ever.

Please contact your congressman/woman to protect the internet and don’t let our President allow companies like ATT and Comcast to control what we do on the internet. This is called net neutrality and is most likely the next thing president Trump and Congress will try to destroy. This is voted on each year, and this year could be the end of the open internet. Whether you like this Administration or not, set aside your political ideals and protest the end of net neutrality. This will only end up costing us little guys more cash to use the internet. You have let the administration take away our privacy, don’t let them allow us to be charged more for it’s use.




Windows 10 Shortcuts *

Shortcut Description
Windows key Open and close the Start menu.
+1, +2, etc. Switch to the desktop and launch the nth application in the taskbar. For example, +1 launches whichever application is first in the list, numbered from left to right.
+A Open the action center.
+B Highlight the notification area.
+C Launch Cortana into listening mode.[1] Users can begin to speak to Cortana immediately.
+D Switch between Show Desktop (hides/shows any applications and other windows) and the previous state.
+E Switch to the desktop and launch File Explorer with the Quick Access tab displayed.
+H Open the Share charm.
+I Open the Settings app.
+K Open the Connect pane to connect to wireless displays and audio devices.
+L Lock the device and go to the Lock screen.
+M Switch to the desktop and minimize all open windows.
+O Lock device orientation.
+P Open the Project pane to search and connect to external displays and projectors.
+R Display the Run dialog box.
+S Launch Cortana.[2] Users can begin to type a query immediately.
+T Cycle through the apps on the taskbar.
+U Launch the Ease of Access Center.
+V Cycle through notifications.
+X Open the advanced menu in the lower-left corner of the screen.
+Z Open the app-specific command bar.
+ENTER Launch Narrator.
+SPACEBAR Switch input language and keyboard layout.
+TAB Open Task view.
+, Peek at the desktop.
+Plus Sign Zoom in.
+Minus Sign Zoom out.
+ESCAPE Close Magnifier.
+LEFT ARROW Dock the active window to the left half of the monitor.
+RIGHT ARROW Dock the active window to the right half of the monitor.
+UP ARROW Maximize the active window vertically and horizontally.
+DOWN ARROW Restore or minimize the active window.
+SHIFT+UP ARROW Maximize the active window vertically, maintaining the current width.
+SHIFT+ DOWN ARROW Restore or minimize the active window vertically, maintaining the current width.
+SHIFT+LEFT ARROW With multiple monitors, move the active window to the monitor on the left.
+SHIFT+RIGHT ARROW With multiple monitors, move the active window to the monitor on the right.
+HOME Minimize all nonactive windows; restore on second keystroke.
+PRNT SCRN Take a picture of the screen and place it in the Computer>Pictures>Screenshots folder.
+CTRL+LEFT/RIGHT arrow Switch to the next or previous virtual desktop.
+CTRL+D Create a new virtual desktop.
+CTRL+F4 Close the current virtual desktop.
+? Launch the Windows Feedback App.

[1] If Cortana is unavailable or disabled, this shortcut has no function.

[2] Cortana is only available in certain countries/regions, and some Cortana features might not be available everywhere. If Cortana is unavailable or disabled, this command opens Search.




Virus Prevention

Ways to Keep Your PC Secure

Use the latest operating system from Microsoft available when at all possible. When Windows XP was released, it was the greatest thing since sliced bread – but it was also full of security issues, which got much, much worse as time went on. Windows XP is now ranked one of the most unsecure and dangerous operating systems in the world. In other words, don’t use Windows XP; instead, use Windows 7, 8, or 10 – preferably Windows 10 – because each edition of Windows contains more security features to protect you from today’s threats.

Never, ever call a 1-800 number to “fix” a “computer problem” that spontaneously appears out of nowhere – especially while you’re browsing the Internet. These are scams. Examples include: you visit a website and all the sudden, your computer starts talking to you and says you’re infected; it then conveniently provides a 1-800 number to “fix” the problem. Another example: you visit a website and you experience a (fake) “blue screen of death” or a fake “firewall warning” message, along with a 1-800 number to “fix” the problem. Another example: you visit a webpage and all the sudden it lists your IP address, your country, location, and even your Internet Service Provider, then tells you to call a 1-800 number because you’re “infected”. These are scams for fake tech support with the average cost of $300 or more, plus the risk of identify theft. Once these scammers get your credit card, they will hound you repeatedly for more “fixes” to up the ante.

If “Microsoft” calls you on the phone and says your computer is “infected”, tell them to pound sand and immediately hang up the phone. I have another post that goes in depth about this. This is a scam for fake tech support, similar to the above example, with the average cost of $300 or more, plus the risk of identify theft. These bastards won’t give up easily and will likely call you repeatedly – you need to be resilient and simply hang up. Note that the real Microsoft Corporation does not solicit tech support over the phone. In fact, if any “technician” solicits you on the phone out of the blue and claims you have a virus, or that they want to get into your computer for this, that, or anything else – it’s probably a scam! Take note – if they usually solicit you – not you soliciting them – it’s probably a scam!

Backup your system regularly using disk images. Do the backups locally – not on the cloud – preferably on an external hard drive. Disk images are the best backup choice because they can restore both operating system and user files, whereas simple backup programs can only restore user files. Cloud backups are not ideal for disk images because it requires backing up the entire hard drive, which would take days, if not weeks to backup (and restore) over the Internet due to inadequate connection speeds. Cloud backups for the most part are simply a bad decision, cost money, and are not necessary – this is especially true when free cloud backups exist – but only for a small subset of data. Besides that, cloud backups cannot restore your operating system especially if the operating system is unbootable; disk image backups always have a bootable recovery environment (usually on CD or USB) in such cases.

Download Windows Updates and install them whenever they become available. Most operating system security issues are related to loopholes in the graphical user interface (GUI) of Windows. Therefore, you need to patch your system regularly, and as soon as the patches become available. If you are worried that a patch may install improperly and cause problems on your machine, you can use a disk image backup to rollback if necessary. There is no reason to delay patching your system.

Always keep your antivirus up to date and do a full system scan once in a while (example: every 30 days). Most antivirus programs will patch themselves automatically, but it’s important to check the interface to ensure the antivirus is running and that your system is protected. Also, be aware of fake antivirus and fake antimalware programs online – these are scams. Stick to brand names like Avast, Avira, Norton, Mcafee, and the like.

Don’t go overboard on “protection” with third-party utilities that claim to “protect” your system “more” than the operating system already does, as this will only serve to slow your computer down to a crawl. This is especially true if you are running Windows 10, which offers the most protection for PCs. The only protection you need is a properly configured firewall (the Windows Firewall works fine as it is), and real-time antivirus file scanning.

Don’t click on email attachments even if they come from “friends”. The rule here is: if you didn’t ask for it, don’t click it and certainly don’t install it, no matter how convincing the source may be. If your friend gets infected with malware, the malware will propagate itself by emailing everyone on his contact list with a convincing “personalized” message, usually asking to open some sort of email attachment (which then infects you) or click on a link (with the potential to infect you). Only open an email attachment if and only if you’ve expressly asked for the attachment ahead of time.

Never, ever download or install a program from a source you don’t otherwise have a trust relationship with. For example: if you click on a friend’s email link that contains a “funny video” and it takes you to a website you’ve never been to before, which then promises to ‘fix’ a problem for your computer, or provides you with something that seems too good to be true, don’t click it and don’t install it. Remember: if you didn’t ask for it, don’t click it and certainly don’t install it, no matter how convincing the source may be.

Should you download a program from a reputable website and install the program to your machine, always be careful to read through the EULA (end user license agreement) to make sure the program you’re installing isn’t going to spy on you or install third-party programs. Also, whenever possible, don’t install any “third party offers” that prompt you during a program installation (otherwise known as “bundled goodies”), as they are usually scams. Remember: if you didn’t ask for it, don’t click it and certainly don’t install it, no matter how convincing the source may be.

Always keep banking and other financial information secure, encrypted, and password protected. Should your system become compromised, you don’t want hackers accessing your financial data in a plain text file. Instead, use a password-protected and encrypted file to store such information.

Don’t use the same password on every website – this is one of the best things you can do online to help keep online data breaches under control. Use unique, strong passwords for every website you visit. This will lessen the chance of a hacker gaining access to one account, and then accessing all your accounts online. If possible, use a password manager like Roboform (That is what I have used over 10 years) that can encryp,t and keep track of all your passwords, and automatically fill forms for you.

When in doubt: hire a good tech that knows what he’s doing, is trustworthy and has your best interest at heart, and will always steer you in the right direction. I provide such a service. If you need to get in touch, all you need to do is contact me at:

Coast Computing




PC Maintenance

Fixing a Non-Responding Windows 10 Start Menu

One of the most anoying bugs in Windows 10 is a non-responding start menu. If you click the start menu and it does not open, here are a few solutions that have worked for me.

Solution 1

  • Launch Task manager

Press the [Ctrl] + [Alt] + [Del] keys on the keyboard at the same time, or right click the Taskbar, and select Task manager.


  1. Run a new Windows task

When the Task manager window opens, click the More details option to expand it, then select Run new task from the File menu.


  1. Run Windows PowerShell

When the Run new task dialog box opens, type powershell, tick the box for Create this task with administrative privileges and click OK.


  1. Run the System File Checker

Type sfc /scannow into the window and press the [Return] key. The scan may take some time and will end with one of three results. Windows did not find any integrity violations and Windows Resource Protection found corrupt files and repaired them mean there are now no corrupt files, but Windows Resource Protection found corrupt files but was unable to fix some (or all) of them indicates a problem.

In this latter case, type (or copy and paste) DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth into the PowerShell window and press the [Return] key. This will download files from Windows Update to replace the corrupt ones and, again, this may take some time.


Solution 2:

Reinstall all Windows apps

Downloading and reinstalling all Windows 10 apps reportedly fixes a stuck Start menu. This isn’t as drastic as it sounds — ‘Windows apps’ are the ones built into Windows 10 and available from the Windows Store. They used to be called ‘Modern’ apps and, before that, ‘Metro’ — Microsoft just changed the name with Windows 10.

Better still, the reinstallation is automatic and should only take a few minutes. The process might delete any data you have saved in these Windows apps, though, so backup anything important before you begin.

Apps that store data online, in Microsoft OneDrive or as files in a separate folder (such as the Photos app) should be unaffected.

Warning: Recent reports indicate that this process may cause some Windows Store apps to stop working, so be mindful of this before continuing.

  1. Reinstall Windows apps

Launch the Task manager and open a new PowerShell window with administrative privileges, as explained above.

When the Windows PowerShell window opens copy the line below and paste it into the PowerShell window by simply right-clicking at the blinking PS C:\WINDOWS\system32> prompt, or by pressing [Ctrl] + [V] on the keyboard:

Get-AppXPackage -AllUsers | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register “$($_.InstallLocation)\AppXManifest.xml”}

Wait until the app download and installation process completes — ignore any red text that appears — and restart Windows.


Solution 3:

Create a new user account

If reinstalling Windows apps doesn’t work, creating a new user account usually will. If you’re currently using a Microsoft account, your settings will also transfer to the new account once you upgrade it from the default local account. You’ll need to transfer your local files from one account to the other in all cases, though. Your installed software won’t be affected.

  1. Launch Task manager

Open Task manager (see above) and select Run new task from its File menu.

Tick the box for Create this task with administrative privileges and type net user NewUsername NewPassword /add in the box.

You’ll need to replace NewUsername and NewPassword with the username and password you want to use — neither can contain spaces and the password is case sensitive (i.e. capital letters matter).


  1. Log into the new account

Restart Windows and log into the new user account. The Start menu should now work, so you can change the new local account to a Microsoft account, and transfer your files and settings.


Solution 4:

Refresh your PC

As a last resort, you can ‘refresh’ your Windows 10 installation, which is much the same as reinstalling the operating system. Your documents won’t be affected, but you’ll need to reinstall any applications that aren’t part of Windows.


  1. Restart Windows in Troubleshooting mode

Close any open applications and press the [Windows] + [L] keys to log out of your Windows account — or just restart Windows. On the login screen, click the Power icon at the bottom right, hold down the [Shift] key and select the Restart option.


  1. Reset your PC

When the blue Choose an option screen appears, click Troubleshoot, followed by Reset this PC. finally, click the Keep my files option and follow the on-screen instructions.

Run the Anniversary Update

Microsoft rolled out its second major update to Windows 10 in August 2016, known as the Anniversary Update.

The company hasn’t stated whether it would fix any of the Start Menu issues specifically, but a few visual tweaks were made which could iron out the problems.

The Anniversary Update should be rolled out to your machine automatically, but if it hasn’t landed yet you can force it to come through now.

Simply go to Settings and select Update & security.

Then click on the Check for updates button and the Anniversary Update should come through.

Another major update, dubbed the Creators Update, is also due to roll out on April 11. This may also include some fixes for the Start Menu.



Virus Prevention


Advertisements that not only look legitimate but also contain malicious code in an effort to infect systems are known as a Malvertisements. Cyber-criminals use Malvertisements to try to spread their malware to a greater audience of users by submitting malicious ads to online advertisement networks.  The ad networks are usually not aware of the cyber criminal’s intent and approve non-malicious ads, initially submitted by the criminals.  Once the ad is approved the cyber criminals switch out the legitimate ad for the malicious one, right under the noses of the ad networks.

The networks fail to check modifications made to the advertisements and therefore allow the Malvertisments to be shown on their customers’ webpages. The ad networks also quickly cycle through different advertisements with each view of the customer web-page. The dynamic scrolling of ads makes it difficult not only to flag the existence of a Malvertisement circulating on a network but also identifying which advertisement is the culprit!


Here are a few examples of Malvertisements in action:

July 2010:

  • Malicious Advertisements targeted site visitors after a rogue advertiser spread a malicious advert through  The result was users redirected to drive-by attack sites that installed fake antivirus malware

April 2010: Facebook Farm Town Game

  • An advertisement served on a popular Facebook game was delivering Rogue AV software, claiming that the user’s system had been infected with malware and their product could help them

May 2012: Malvertisements found on Blogger Website

  • Adverting network, Clicksor, was found serving malicious advertisements to users of a Blogger website leading to the BlackHole Exploit Kit

As you can see, Malvertising happens all the time; and while the effort from the community to fight these attacks has advanced greatly over the last few years, the threat is far from gone.


Using a product like Malwarebytes Anti-Malware can help with these type of infections.

Virus Prevention

Koobface Virus and other Popup threats

What is Koobface?

Koobface is a computer worm which spreads via social networking sites. Koobface is being “invited” onto many computers through infected links in Facebook.

Most social networking scams spread on social networks because users inadvertently recommend them to their friends and within their circles. Koobface actively infects your PC and then it deliberately spreads itself via social networking sites.

Koobface knows how to create its own social networking accounts so that it can aggressively post links helping it to spread even further.

The most common infection method is through a fake video player. If you click on one of the links which Koobface has posted, you’ll end up on a fake web page – typically a fake YouTube, Facebook Video or a fake Adobe Flash download page. They might offer a clip to watch. However, they claim first you need a Flash update. The video player popup update notice is fake, it’s actually just an installer for the Koobface virus. The only real Adobe Flash download page is found at “”  If you will notice the link presented to you as the download address, it is different.


Important Side Note:

As a side note anytime you go to a website that asks you to update your Flash Player, it most likely is a false infected link you are being given. If you do, however, get to a site that inundates you with a pop up that doesn’t seem to close immediately do the following:

-Do not touch any browser window to close it or try to browse further.

-Immediately press Ctrl-Alt-Del (Ctrl-Shift-Esc in Vista or Win 7) and bring up Task Manager and forcibly end all instances of iexplore.exe, if using Internet Explorer, or, the executable for the browser you are using. –or– -Go to Start/Shut Down and restart the PC without touching any browser windows.

-If you have used task manager to close browser instances, reboot the machine.

-Then go to Control Panel/Internet Options and delete all temporary Internet Files and cookies. If you are using an alternate web browser, open the browser settings to do the same – delete the local cached files and cookies.

-Perform a full scan with your virus program or a third party malware scanner like Malwarebytes anti-malware.

The above steps should prevent the infection from taking hold if you suddenly receive random pop ups from Koobface or any other program trying to infect your computer by posting false advertisements. Remember: No one knows if your computer is infected and if a popup says you are infected, it is almost always a lie.


Back to Koobface:

Koobface is part of a zombie network that allows cyber crooks to be able to instruct your PC to download and run any other software they choose. The Koobface worm allows cyber-criminals to track and record sensitive data about you, for example, it can see what logins and passwords you enter on particular websites, and it can discover credit card information and other banking information. In addition, this malicious worm can display vague ads convincing you to install fake anti-virus programs and other malicious software.


How to avoid getting infected in future:

– Keep your patches and your anti-virus up-to-date. This won’t stop all threats, but it will stop most of them, including Koobface.

– Don’t be tempted by links on social networking sites just because they look cool. A little caution goes a long way.

– Never download video player software just because a site offers you an update. Reputable sites will explain what you need so you can seek it yourself, rather than trying to trick you into downloading what they want.


After removing any malware, especially zombie malware, it’s a good idea to change passwords on all your on-line accounts. And keep an eye on your bank statements, just in case.


Also view our article dated 11-18-2014 called “Your computer is infected”


If you are unsure or need assistance, please call Coast Computing 561.452.6132. We can help you remotely while you watch.






Virus Prevention

Latest Virus News

People have asked where can they find the latest information about recent viral attacks. The following site has an updated page that will inform the reader to the latest attacks, and allows you search for specific attacts by name. Of course if you have a nasty infection that you cannot seem to eliminate, you can call us at 561.452.6132 and we can remote into your computer. Beware of boiler room calls when a person proclaims to know you have a virus, will connect to you, and when they (mostly falsely) say they can repair your computer for $250. When you decline because of this outrageous price, they will then proceed to infect your computer further so that you will panic and pay them what they want. We perform this service for under $80.00. Sometimes less than $65.00. Don’t be scammed by people claiming to be from Microsoft, or a Microsoft partner. Microsoft has never performed virus removals. If you ever do fall prey to one of these services, be away they typically install a time-delayed virus that will re-infect your computer at a later time so they can again rob you of your hard earned money.


Site: Updated Virus Information Site





Beware of Microsoft Phone Scam

  • Microsoft will never call you to let you know your computer is having problems. These scammers are saying “we are from the Windows team” or “We are Windows calling” or something like that, to scare you into letting them into your computer. These “fake technicians” AKA “Computer Terrorists” as I like to call them, always usually have a foreign accent.
  • Be careful when you Google for help, be sure the companies are reputable and be sure you are calling the right companies. Nowadays, you can Google “Microsoft support” and get a fake company! This is VERY common.
  • Do not call the  numbers on pop up ads when you are browsing the internet, these are fake alerts that you have a virus.
  • Never let anyone remote in your computer that called YOU. If you called me for an appointment, this is ok or calling a local computer repair store, but just someone calling you out of the blue is NOT OK.
  • If you called them and are not sure, just hang up and call ME and I will let you know if it’s a scam or real. 561.452.6132.
  • If your guts says no or you feel weird, hang up or turn off your computer immediately. Even if you allowed them in your computer, they will say things to scare you into paying. Turning off the computer and calling a professional IT company or me immediately is what I recommend. Remember, if they are in the computer and you don’t pay, this is when this happens…

Destruction and deletion of data, Computer inoperable

  • Do they steal your data? This is not common but a maybe. They mostly they want to get your credit card and charge you for fake services. If you did this, you can call your credit card company and they should charge back that service. Remember if they are remoted in and you don’t pay, it is TOO LATE. They will destruct data or lock you out of your computer!
  • Do they destroy your data? YES!! Usually this happens if you ask for your money back and they are remoted in. This just happened to one of my clients. He said he wanted his money back and i went to see what happened, all data gone.
  • Do they lock you out of your computer? Yes, and sometimes they put a virus on your computer if you don’t pay or say you want your money back

Thanks to Lisa of “Call That Girl”

Online Security

How Cyber Criminals Use Social Media

All Facebook users should read the following link:






During the past month many have asked what is happening to Evernote. Instead of explaing this, a blogger named Thorin Klosowski has an excellent article in the following link:

How to jump-ship from Evernote-And Keep Your Data


Check it out.


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Legal Stuff


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Are Your Devices Worth Repairing?

This is a question I am often asked concerning mobile device repair.

With the help of a few questions you can determine whether or not your mobile device it is worth repairing. Just remember three factors: value, age, and cost of parts and labor. If the device is out of warranty or an insurance policy, take a look at this article.

1. Cost of the Mobile Device
What was initially paid for the device, if it is only a couple months old? If it is a couple years old, how much is a used device of the same model number on EBay? Is the device in good condition, or is the screen scratched or the case damaged (liquid or otherwise)? If it’s already in rough shape, determine that into the value variable you’ve gotten from researching online retailers or auction websites.
If it is an older device and in rough physical shape, it may not be worth repairing. Other factors include age and cost of repair.

2. Age of the Device
As mobile technology evolves, the content that is served to the device evolves as well. One example is how older websites usually appear very small on modern display resolutions, and they often look extremely plain and basic.
Another example is many Android devices with versions below International Classification for Standards (ICS) are still in the hands of consumers. Newer apps being developed may not be compatible with anything below ICS, which means the consumer will eventually have to unlock their device to be able to flash a newer Android version into ROM for use with newer apps. (For the average consumer this means purchasing a new device).
While the operating system version of the device is important, the initial cost of the device is also important. For instance, if the initial retail price of the device is quite low compared to other devices in the same size range, age is more important because a lower retail price typically indicates lower quality, and lower quality means it won’t last as long or run some newer apps.

3. Cost of Parts and Labor
Next you’ll need to consider the parts that need replacement. How much will you need to pay, (including tax and shipping)? For an older device sometimes replacement parts will be more expensive. Not always, but sometimes.
How long will it take you to repair the device? If you’re not familiar with the model, have you researched disassembly and repair, and then reassembly? This is the biggest factor in mobile device repair. Taking apart and reassembly typically takes considerable time.
Factoring Everything
Now that you have considered the above what is the estimated value of the device given the initial price, the current price for a used device in similar condition, and it’s age? Next, what is the cost of parts and labor? How much does the cost of repair compare to the value of the device?
Here is where the decision becomes more complex because we’ve only factored in the static value of the device. What we haven’t factored in is the value of the device to you. Was it a gift? Does it have data stored that wasn’t backed up? Are you willing to pay an extra fee to recover your lost data?
With an older device, not only could it suffer damage while repairing it,
(e.g. components or case have become brittle), but it could be at the end of its lifespan. If so, you might be spending money on a repair that might only last a few months to a year. On an older device you will also have an older operating system that might be less compatible with newer apps.
In conclusion, when trying to decide whether to repair or purchase, consider the following:
1. the initial cost of the device versus a new device
2. The age of the device
3. The cost of parts and labor, including data restoration.

I can always help you make these decisions. Give us a call for help.





New Computer? Start off with PC Decrapifier

When you purchase a new desktop or laptop, they usually come preloaded with a bunch of unwanted software. Speed up your new investment by running PC Decrapifier. It automatically finds most of the bloatware that comes with the box. It then allows you to uninstall it with a few clicks.

Virus Prevention

“Your computer is infected” fake anti-virus pop-up alert scams

“Warning—your computer is infected! System detected virus activities. They may cause critical system failure. Click here to get available software.”
You may be one of the numerous people who have received similar pop-up alerts. They commonly appear after you open an email attachment, download files, visit websites programmed to download malicious software or click on a pop-up advertisement.
Consumers be wary of fake anti-virus alerts. NEVER click on pop-up anti-virus alerts.
Scammers often use the names of well-known companies that specialize in computer software to gain your trust. The pop-up advertisements aim to mimic genuine warning alerts generated by computer security software.
The software or “free scan” offered in pop-up alerts often doesn’t work or actually infects your computer with the dangerous programs it is supposed to protect against.
This scam aims to either charge you for bogus software and/or obtain your personal information. Once your computer is infected, the scammer commonly gathers personal information to steal your identity or to sell it to other criminals.
Although the majority of anti-virus pop-up alerts are fake, there is an off-chance that you have received a legitimate virus warning. If you are unsure whether it is a genuine warning, check the official virus page of your anti-virus vendor or give us a call at 561.452.6132.

Warning signs
• Fake anti-virus spyware programs often generate more “alerts” than the software made by reputable companies.
• You may be bombarded with pop-up alerts, even when you’re not online.
• Scammers commonly use high pressure sales tactics to convince you to buy NOW!
• The alert may request you to pass on the “warning” to “others in your address book” or “everyone you know”.
• Broken or oddly phrased English.
• The message is not addressed to a specified recipient, instead it is addressed to the ‘account holder’ or uses another generic title.
• If your computer has been infected, it may dramatically slow down. Other signs that your computer has been infected include new desktop icons, new wallpaper or your default homepage is redirected to another site.
Protect yourself
• NEVER click on pop-up alerts! Don’t even click on the cross to delete the pop-up alert as this may result in getting more pop-ups. Instead, hit control + alt + delete to view a list of programs currently running and delete the pop-up alert from the list of running programs.
• Use reputable pop-up blocker software to avoid pop-ups on your computer.
• Keep your computer updated with the latest anti-virus and anti-spy ware software. Also use a good firewall.
• NEVER open email attachments unless you can verify the sender and you trust them.
• NEVER click on the links in spam email.
• NEVER rely on the contact details provided in a pop-up message. Instead, find your anti-virus vendor’s contact details through an internet search.
• Avoid questionable websites. Some sites may automatically download malicious software on to your computer.

PC Maintenance


In following our “Installing programs without installing unwanted malware” posts I have found a program that can help you while installing freeware. Unchecky ( is a free app that automatically unchecks every adware checkbox in most installation dialogue boxes. This program will help prevent the unintended installation of adware.



Windows 8.x Graphics

Out of some 400+ Windows 8.x installs, the main complaint other than a lack of the start menu is complaints about the video. In Windows Vista and Windows 7, Microsoft had the Aero graphics interface. Windows Aero featured a translucent glass design with subtle window animations and new window colors. Aero was discontinued with Windows 8.x. Because of this, graphics display for some users result in a sometimes blurry graphics and a somewhat unappealing text rendering.
The top complaint is text. In windows 7, under the Personalize | Color setting, there was an advanced tab that allowed you to change font and window appearance. Along with Aero, this setting has been removed. Until Microsoft re-codes these settings, about the only thing that can be done is to turn to a third party application. A company called Stardock ( has a product for $10 called Stardock WindowBlinds that might help some of you dissatisfied with Windows 8.x graphical interface. Stardock is the company that produced one of the best third party appscalled Start 8,that brings back the lost start menu in Windows 8.x. They also make a program called Launch 8that adds a stationary dock to the Windows 8 start screen much like a Mac.
Stardock WindowBlinds so far appears to be the best third party app for customizing the graphics and text on the Windows 8.x desktop. There are four main aspects of your windows that you can modify: style, color, texture, and background. Styles are preset schemes to make your windows look new. Each style contains a sub style that will modify a graphic or tailor your windows and taskbars to be more in line with your current version of Windows 7, Vista, or XP. You can also add or change a texture overlay complete with various color hues. WindowBlinds enables users to customize the Windows desktop interface with skins. Skinnable elements include the start panel, taskbar, window frames and control buttons. Personalize any of the default Windows themes or any skins downloaded from or create your own skins. WindowBlinds also includes SkinStudio, a powerful skin editor application that enables you to design your own skins. Customize only the parts of the Windows interface you want to change and SkinStudio will do the rest. This makes it easy for inexperienced users to create a great skin quickly, while advanced users can still enjoy designing every aspect of the windows interface.
If you are having trouble with graphic engine in Windows 8.1, miss your Xp, Vista, or Windows 7 graphical experience, try Stardock WIndowBlinds. It has a free trial, after that it is less than $10 to purchase. Trial download at

Online Security

Facebook Security

In this note I am going to explain Facebook’s latest security features. The first thing is your privacy settings. To see them, click the padlock icon at the top right-hand corner and a drop-down list containing the most popular privacy settings is displayed. At the bottom of this drop-down box is a “See more settings” link for more privacy tools.
Before you start changing your privacy settings, you should check how much information and with whom, you are sharing. Click the arrows next to “who can see my stuff?” and “What do other people see on my timeline?” then click “View as”. At first, you’ll see what your profile looks like to people you don’ t know. Make note of any information you do not want to share with others.
Now that you know what you are sharing, you can do something with that information. First, limit who sees what you post. Status updates can include what you are doing, who you are with, and where you are. It’s a good idea to limit that to people you know. Click the privacy icon and click the arrow by “Who can see my stuff?” and under “Who can see my future posts?” select Friends.
You want to be careful about what you post about yourself, however, what about friends who tag you in their posts? You can set Facebook to alert you when that happens, and if you are happy with what the have posted, you can allow it on your timeline. If, not, you can choose to un-tag yourself. To get started, click “See more settings,” then “Timeline and tagging.”
There is an option on this screen called “Review posts friends tag you in before they appear on your timeline?” click “Edit” and select “Friends”. For more security select “Only me.” Next, by “Review tags people add to your own posts before they appear on Facebook?” click “Edit”, then “Enabled.”
From now on, when someone tags you, you will be asked to review the tag. This appears as a notification or you can check manually by clicking the “Privacy Icon, expanding “Who can see my stuff?” and selecting “Use activity log.” Click “Tag review” to see things you have been tagged in, then “Add tag” to be associated with it (which other people can see), or “Ignore” to keep it off your timeline.

Choose who can friend you and find you in a search:
It can be dangerous to let everyone see all your information. From the privacy menu expand “Who can contact me?” then under “Who can send me friend requests” you can choose only “Friends of friends” that is,people your friends know, to be able to send a friend request.
If you want to make sure your account is only accessible to people you know you can limit who can search and find your account. From the privacy menu click “More settings.” Next to “Who can look you up using the email address you provided” and “Who can look you up using the phone number you provided,” click “Edit” and select “Friends” or “Friends of Friends.” If you do not want to be found in a Google search, From the same screen as before where it says “Do you want other search engines to link to your timeline” click “Edit” and make sure the box next to “Let other search engines link to your timeline” is unchecked.

Additional Security Measures
You may want to make sure your online activity is secret. This is where secure browsing happens. When on Facebook, make sure the address bar begins with https:// and not http://.
Enable “Login notifications” from the Security Settings menu to notify you if someone tries to log in to your account. This will email or text you if your account is accessed from a device you have not used before. There is also a list of all the devices you have allowed access under “Recognized Devices.”
Of course the best security measure is to have a strong password.
For more security enable “Login Approvals.” Whenever you log in from a new device, a message is sent to your phone allowing you to approve the login. Make sure you pay attention to any notices you receive telling you someone has logged into your account. If you do not recognize the device then change your password. To do this go to “More Settings”, “General” and click “Edit” next to “password.

This note has explained some of the new security feature implemented by Facebook and how to use these features for a more secure Facebook experience.

Virus Prevention

Googling for software can bring you junkware

A call comes in, the client says they downloaded Adobe Reader and now they have Junkware all over their computer. Their search engine is messed up and they have pornographic ads on their Google page.  Just downloading an easy program like Adobe can do this to your computer, but come on….Adobe Reader is from Adobe, right? Of course it is, but its not at the top of your Google search. It’s about 4 places down. See the picture below?


It shows you a basic search in Google for Adobe Reader. The real one is the 4th one down, under the “Ads”. This is sometimes hard to notice. I know this because the website is actually an Adobe website, not or some other fake site. Sometimes it is very tough to tell these days!

However, Adobe did download and works, so what happened?

You did get Adobe Reader, but it was bundled in a “download manager” filled with adware, spyware and sometimes Trojans! Sometimes you can download up to 20 programs! I have spent over an hour  uninstalling this Junkwareware.

So please be mindful when Googling and if you are not sure, don’t do anything and call us to install the program(s) properly. This will end up being cheaper than a virus removal.


Windows 7 vs Windows 8.1

Many of our customers have made the move to Windows 8. Now that Windows XP will no longer have security patches created, one of the biggest concerns is do I move from Windows XP to Windows 8.1 or should I use Windows 7? Windows 7 was such a good operating system that Hewlett Packard brought back a line of Windows 7 machines during 2014. The demand for Windows 7 over Windows 8 was so great, they again began making Windows 7 computers!

Since Windows 8.1 release, if you wanted Windows 7 it would have to be a custom build or you could “downgrade from Win 8.1 to Win 7 at an additional cost. We at Coast Computing have built many Windows 7 boxes for customers not wanting to go through a Windows 8 transition. So, what is the answer, Windows 7 or Windows 8? (now Windows 8.1) What is the difference between Microsoft’s operating systems?  Below are a few key differences.


Boot time: Windows 8.1 boots significantly faster than Windows 7. Windows 7 can take 2 to 3 minutes to boot when started, however, Windows 8.1, when configured with the hardware, can boot up as fast as 8 to 10 seconds. WOW!


Performance: Windows 8.1 is redesigned and uses simple colors and fewer visual effects, drawing fewer resources than Windows 7’s Aero Glass effect.

Windows 8.1 performs better than 7 in everyday use and benchmarks. Extensive testing has revealed improvements in tests like PCMark Vantage and Sunspider.


Features and Interface: The interface for Windows 8 has a steeper learning curve compared to Windows 7. However, using system tweaks Coast Computing can configure your Windows 8.1 computer to be a more friendly experience. Connecting to a home network is easier in Windows 8.1, and mobile device management is improved. Backing up your data in Windows 8.1 is improved along with security enhancements (see below). Also, if you have a touch screen on your laptop, the Windows 8.1 experience is surprising.

Other features of Windows 8.1 include: OneDrive is free online storage that’s built into Windows 8.1. Save documents, photos and other files to OneDrive automatically, similar to Google Drive. Internet Explorer 11 is built for touch—now with larger tabs, simpler controls, and fluid response to gestures. If you use Internet Explorer, you should always use the most current version. Skype is now owned by Microsoft, so it is now integrated within the operating system. In addition, Windows store is the place to pick up both free and paid apps. Although much smaller than the Apple store, you can still find decent apps to run under Windows 8.


Security:  Windows 7 and 8.1 share security features. Both use BitLocker Drive encryption, but 8.1 enables it automatically. You can download Microsoft Security Essentials free for Windows 7, Windows 8.1 has this protection built into the operating system. Windows 8.1 also includes support for secure booting on UEFI systems, making it harder for rogue malware to infect the boot loader.  PCs running 8.1 can also automatically connect to Virtual Private Networks


In summary, Windows 7 has a shorter learning curve to those who have been using Windows XP, however, The improvements to Windows 8.1 make the operating system an excellent candidate for laptops and computers with touch screen capabilities. It is also a more secure desktop system


XP End of Life

As you are all aware, Microsoft has discontinued support for MICROSOFT XP. What does this mean for you millions of users happy with MICROSOFT XP, and those who do not plan to purchase a new computer at this time?

Microsoft has released bulletins scaring you into thinking your data is now compromised, and the only fix is to spend money to upgrade to Windows 8. THIS IS NOT NECESSARILY TRUE!

Although upgrading from MICROSOFT XP is inevitable, there are steps to take that can secure your computer and allow you to continue using MICROSOFT XP until hardware component(s) break down.

The first step in securing MICROSOFT XP is to stop using Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser. Without monthly Microsoft patches, this browser has become unsafe. Switch to Google Chrome or Firefox.

Next, you need to uninstall  (if used) Microsoft Security Essentials and Outlook Express. These programs will either not work correctly, or have security issues that relied on updates. Install a third party anti-virus such as Avast or AVG.

If you are using Microsoft Office 2003, beware this program is also now open to hacking vulnerabilities. You can switch to Open Office, and still have the ability to modify your MS office 2003 documents. Uninstall MS Office 2003.


Unless there’s a massive vulnerability that security software can’t protect against, Windows MICROSOFT XP should still have a long life in front of it. As long as security software, drivers and other applications have Windows XP updates for them, the operating system can continue to be used securely and reliably. At some point you’ll find that new hardware and software won’t support the OS, and updates stop coming from manufacturers, but until that day you don’t need to upgrade.

PC Maintenance

Installing programs without installing unwanted malware – Part 2

Potentially unwanted programs are often proposed during the installation of software. They may be present in the form of toolbars that can change the home page of your browser, which can slow internet searching.

To avoid the installation of these programs polluting your computer, it is essential you follow these tips:

  • Always download a program from the official link, or a trusted site
  • When installing a program, do not click too fast [Next] without paying attention to Terms of Use and third-party programs available
  • If third-party programs are available (toolbars, etc.) uncheck all checkboxes about them
  • Enable detection of PUP’s (Potentially Unwanted Programs) in your antivirus
PC Maintenance

Installing programs without installing unwanted malware – Part 1

In a previous paper we explained companies will try and install unneeded programs within legitimate downloads. This is a classic problem when you install a  program from an internet site.  To generate commerce, other programs are included, by default, unless you specifically act to not install these additional programs. Most of these are rogue programs with hidden  spyware and adware code, others are toolbars from Google or Yahoo.

I have included a typical download from CNET for an example. This is a popular site for downloading programs to for your PC. In this example we want to download a program called Revo Uninstaller. This is a program for uninstalling programs from your computer, and is a more thorough program than the one included with Windows.

We start with the download link:

This brings up the following dialog:


Clicking the run control button takes you:


We then click next and we go here:


If you were to select Recommended Express Installation you will wind up installing numerous unwanted programs. Click the Advanced Installation to view these programs. Always select advanced Installation to monitor and select what you want to install. When we select Advanced Installation we get these entries:


Notice there are FOUR additional programs that would have been installed by default!

Uncheck these boxes so it looks like this and select Next Step.


Now, this box appears, and it is misleading. It appears you are accepting the Terms of Service for Revo Uninstaller, when you are really accepting to install a program called Wajam. This is nothing more than a social search engine that will spy on your computer use. Select Decline, and the next box pops up with a similar advertisement.



Again, select Decline or you will install RealPlayer, a program not used since the 1990’s. Your computer already has a media player so you do not need another.


Decline this box also. MyPCBackup is a program you do not need.



FINALLY. The one program you wanted is finally downloading. The next screen that appears, allows you to install the one program you were after.


Remember, whenever you install a program from the Internet, always decline unneeded programs and select Advanced Install, if available, so that you do not clutter your hard drive and memory with unneeded programs.

Something new: A new CNET download had the same boxes as listed above, however, the decline button appears grayed out giving the impression it is not available. This is false. You can still click the decline button. It is functional, it just looks like it is not in focus. TRICKY

PF – 6.5.13

Virus Prevention

Email Phishing for IRS and Paypal

During the month of August, 2013, we have noticed two phishing attempts from people trying to get personal information through emails appearing to come from the IRS and PayPal. Remember, neither company will ever send a personal email to you asking to update your account. If you do receive such an email, forward the entire mail to the appropriate address listed below:    or

I contacted each and got the following:

From the Internal Revenue Service:

Please note that the IRS does not contact individuals by email.

Therefore, if you received an email claiming to be from the IRS it is a phishing attempt and should be reported to us.


From Paypal:

  • to stay safe from PayPal fraud or scams:
  • Log in safely: To log in to your PayPal account or access the PayPal website, open a new web browser (e.g., Internet Explorer or Firefox or Chrome) and type in the following:
  • Check the email greeting: Emails from PayPal will always address you by your first and last name or the business name associated with your PayPal account. A PayPal scam email may include the salutation “Dear PayPal User” or “Dear PayPal Member”
  • Look out for attachments: PayPal emails will never ask you to download an attachment or a software program. An attachment found in a PayPal scam email will often contain a virus that can harm your computer or compromise your PayPal account
  • Never give out personal information: If we require information from you, we will notify you in an email and request that you enter the information only after you have safely and securely logged in to your PayPal account.

PF 8.23.13


Windows Home Server for business

This article is targeted to those clients requiring a modest network server environment of 10 or less clients.

In over 24 years of supporting network platforms many clients have requested an affordable total cost of ownership (TCO) server setup. This is subjective to the size of the organization and needed infrastructure, however, I am specifically writing to businesses of fewer than 10 employees.

I will typically talk to these small business owners (this process is referred to as a network discovery) before creating an Request for Proposal (RFP) outlining cost. Creating an RFP for a server environment utilizing typical server software would  involve costs of thousands of dollars for the hardware and software plus the charge for setting up, installing, configuring the system, and training employees how to  access programs and files.

Even with the most modest server implementation, a complete system can cost over $6,000. This price point often shocks many micro business clients. Often these are 3-10 users in a small startup service or retail industry. They need to share an accounting system, payroll and database system,  plus use internet and maybe a proprietary software program. These clients typically have tight budgetary requirements because of startup or upgrade budgets.

Microsoft Windows Home Server (WHS). When I first discovered that WHS Server was intended for the home user, but was, however, built on the Microsoft NT line of server software that  utilizes the same security features  the US Department of Defense uses, I knew there was plenty of power on this seemingly modest offering.

By comparison, Microsoft Small Business Server is a package suite of server products that many small businesses use. This software package averages $2500 depending on the number of users. WHS software retails for $100 but can be purchased with discounts online for about $58 including shipping. It allows up to 10 simultaneous users and it is designed to be installed on workstation hardware that can easily be hundreds, if not thousands of dollars under a typical server install. No need for expensive server grade hardware. Even though Microsoft has discontinued development of this product, the availability and price make it an excellent value. The current version for purchase is a fantastic value, even when future upgrades will no longer be available. If the system configured for your environment works correctly, who needs to or why would you want to upgrade the operating system(OS)?The WHS OS can continue with your company for many years. When, or if you expand, you can easily migrate to a more powerful server configuration.

Windows Home Server installs in under an hour. It is a simple, straight forward installation. I typically use the default setup. Once installed WHS guides you through setting up all the server functionality. An install takes about 10 minutes for each of your client computers,  you run the connection software from the install CD, log onto the server, and then setup nightly automated backups to the server. The setup automatically  downloads  Windows updates not only for the server but for each client.

WHS backs up the operating systems of each computer, the drivers and the data. It has an intelligence that only backups up each file only once, even if that file shows up on many separate computers. This feature saves space on the server hard drive because typically many files are common to more than one system and/or user.

You then add users, which takes literally less than 1 minute per user. I then make a private folder for each user similar to what happens with individual profiles in a Windows Desktop OS. The server has by default a public folder, music folder, videos folder, pictures folder and software folders, automatically setup. I then set up a data file sub-folder in the public folder so all users can easily share files in one location.

Next you go through the 3 or 4 wizards that finalizes the server configuration.

The user settings offer to:

  • Turn on automatic updates
  • Push those updates to the client computers on the network so you only need download each update once and then share the update across your network
  • Configure your router to allow port forwarding to the WHS which will then offer additional services from outside your network
  • Provide a domain name for the server
  • Provide remote access files on the server
  • Allow me to remote tunnel into my own computer on the inside of the network

You can allow WHS to modify the port forward settings in your router. This is faster and easier using the WHS wizard than if you log into to the router and configure the port forwarding separately. You do not need to know the ports or services because the configuration is automatic.

With router ports forwarded, you now press one button to turn on remote access. You then run through another wizard that sets up the dynamic DNS required for the local hosting of your own site. All that was needed is a Hotmail or Live mail account. With this turned on I can now test to see if there is access from outside the network to both the files on the server and the files/programs on each of the computers in the network. It works great.

After it was completely set up, I plugged in a second hard drive. WHS instantly recognized the drive and asked if that drive was for duplication or to extend the size of the data drive. Wow, how intuitive could that be? I then simply setup a RAID mirror. During installation, if using one hard drive, WHS takes about 100 Gb of your drive for the C:/ partition and puts the operating system on that partition. The remainder of of the drive becomes D:/ for the data drive. If you add a second drive for expansion, it can run both drives as a “just a bunch of drives” (JBOD), unless you configure the two drives with a RAID configuration. Configured as JBOD, and if there were a drive failure, you would be unable to access your data. You would need to restore your data after replacing the failed drive. However, you can better protect your data by using 2 hard drives configures in a RAID 1 mirror configuration. If one drives fails, your data is protected until you replace the drive.  The system can protect your data (this is called fault tolerance) even better if you use 3 or more drives. If you have 3 or more hard drives, you can use a RAID 5 configuration, which is has better redundancy that RAID 1. RAID 5 with three or more dives is typically utilized in server configuration requiring a high level of fault tolerance. This type of fault tolerance is included with WHS!

In less than 2  hours of installation, what do you have accomplished?

  • a secure file server with Users and Shares
  • A personal webpage hosted with dynamic DNS service setup and running
  • A remote access point to all files on the network and to all the files authorized on the server
  • Access to remote desktop on any computer on the network
  • an automated backup setup for every computer system
  • shared printer(s) to all network computers
  • a  JBOD or RAID disk drive configuration on the server

In my experience, setting up a traditional Microsoft Windows server can take anywhere from 6-10 hrs. So this is an amazing financial savings for a small, or micro business.

Once setup is complete you unplug the keyboard, mouse and monitor and WHS sits by itself. The server is managed with the remote desktop service. In other words, you manage server functions from one of the client workstations instead of needing a dedicated monitor, mouse, and keyboard for the server.

In conclusion, WHS is a cost effective solution for a small business with budget concerns. Please contact Cost Computing, 561.452.6132 for further information.


Open DNS

Understanding Open DNS


First, let’s explain what is DNS. DNS means Domain Name System – the protocol that provides the framework for web browsing. It is  a system of computers located throughout the world that provides the infrastructure allowing browsing of the World Wide Web. When you enter, for instance,, DNS converts that easily recognizable domain name (called an ip namespace) to a numerical address that has been assigned to that particular domain name.
The problem with how DNS is configured is that it is typically set up by the respective ISP for a customer.

DNS, as configured by default, can have a negative impact on web browsing. These problems are a result from one or a combination of two issues:

Geographic location of DNS servers: This is becoming less of a issue today, but poses a problem when end users are making DNS requests over slower speed links. Not all DNS servers are in prime locations; this is a bigger issue for customers who are in rural areas and being served by smaller, regional, ISPs.

Over-burdened DNS servers: Again, this is more likely to happen with DNS servers hosted by smaller ISPs, but I’ve seen it within Southern Florida Comcast and ATT systems. If an end user’s router or home PC is pointing to DNS servers that can’t handle their request load effectively, overall response performance suffers and web browsing slows.

Changing DNS server settings is fairly easy for any home user or a computer technician from Coast Computing can help.

DNS adjustments should be made at the router. There are benefits to making DNS changes at the router level because:

  • Everyone will not have to adjust their systems; only the common router will need the adjustment.
  • It will speed up (and clean up) web browsing for all users on a given connection.
  • You can even offer further browsing redundancy by choosing primary and secondary DNS servers that span different providers (say, Google DNS and OpenDNS).

Some techs claim that ISP provided DNS settings work fine. Everyone’s needs from DNS and relative performance on a given pair of DNS servers will be different. Much of this stems from what was mentioned earlier regarding location, burden, and other factors. But it’s what you don’t know about alternative DNS solutions that get interesting.

While Google DNS provides a speedy alternative to what ISPs offer, OpenDNS takes this concept one step further. The company employs specialized technology that actually spans DNS requests to datacenters that are closest to your location geographically without any intervention. In addition, because they handle so many requests from different parts of the world, they have the most up-to-date single repository for where everything is on the web. This significantly reduces the need for them to “ask” other DNS servers where a website or file may be located.

Another key benefit is how OpenDNS provides malware blocking at the network level. This is accomplished by sifting out known-infected websites and files before you can get to them. This is beneficial because, by default, ISP provided DNS servers typically do not filter out the responses they provide. Even if you mistakenly type in the address of a completely known and virulent malware site, chances are your ISP will take you there.

One of the biggest contributors to the spread of malware today is that end users can’t always recognize bad links in search results, and are visiting pages on the web where they typically should not visit. OpenDNS takes the guesswork out of this process because it maintains a centralized blacklist of bad sites that is in effect for all users of the service. For customers of mine that have bad histories with such links, OpenDNS is always a good recommendation for a defense against sites containing malware.

In addition, OpenDNS offers paid levels of service for home and business customers. Home users can benefit from the parental control functionality via custom block lists and category-powered filtering of their home internet connection.

There’s no client software to install, no signature updates to worry about, and it affects EVERY device that wants to use internet in a home – which means any young visitors won’t be able to bypass filters merely by bringing their own computers.

The business level subscription to OpenDNS provides advanced logs, web access control for workers, strict malware and botnet prevention options, and website blocking.

If you want to switch to OpenDNS on your own, here are the two DNS servers that they publish Follow their instructions page for generic guidance; consult Coast Computing for in-depth configuration:

  • PRIMARY:   

I try to take a balanced approach in customers setup using a hybrid combination of OpenDNS as the primary server, and Google DNS as the secondary server. You don’t have to do this, but I feel that if for some reason OpenDNS has outages across both of their systems, at least your router can then tunnel DNS requests to a complete third party. For redundancy, this is a great approach. My preferred router configuration happens to look like this:

  • PRIMARY (OpenDNS):       or
  • SECONDARY (Google DNS):                  or

Give the above combination a try to see if your website browsing speed is improved. You will also gain the transparent malware blocking and phishing protection that OpenDNS utilizes.

Virus Prevention

Internet Security 2013 Virus

Amsecure.exe is the main process of Internet Security 2013 virus. When Internet Security 2013  gets installed onto your computer it will  report various sorts of security problems.

It will report of many viruses allegedly attacking your computer, such as the W32/Blaster.worm. The viruses  reported are real signatures, however, they have not infected your system. The only real virus you have is The Internet Security 2013 virus.

The software bearing the name of Internet Security 2013 is not capable of identifying real security threats and thus cannot remove them. The reason why this rogue security program was developed was to trick users into paying for the licensed version of this malware program.

So, when you see Internet Security 2013 fake anti-spyware in front of you remember what we’ve told you – this is a rogue security tool and not any legitimate program. Do not let this malware sample scare you. The reports it gives are not based on the true facts. You must ignore them all and get rid of the hoax without hesitation. Needless to mention, do not pay for this program. You will waste your money and will not receive any decent protection of security for your computer.

In fact, by disclosing your personal bank details or the information about your credit card you are making your finances vulnerable to further attacks and attempts of the frauds to rob you.

If you get infected, call us to guide you in removal of this virus. This virus started affecting computers in southern Florida around May 5, 2013.

Please call us for help if you get this infection. It will normally disable the virus program ypu are using.