Your In-House Tech

July 16, 2009

Trust, but verify

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ralph Kirkland @ 4:25 pm
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I have an odd request. If you have a computer failure, tell the person repairing your computer that you do not have a backup (I assume you are like most of us, and don’t have a recent one).

Why do I tell you this? Recently, I have run across severa instances where the hard drive was formatted and no save of data was done. The customer was told, “It boots now!”

It did boot, but had none of their data. No pictures. No financial data. No letters. No resumes. Nothing.

Why not? The repair tech says he assumed she had a backup.

The first requirement for computer service is to be sure you can trust the service provider.

Another client hired a company to help move her office. She told the company that she had no computer knowledge. So what did they do? She had two computers. Her office could only take one, maybe two more computers. She was sold a 16 port router for $800.

When asked why, the company said she told them she wanted to grow.

Referrals are the best source. Reviews on web sites can help. Another possibility is to get a second opinion. You may even want to consider paying for a second opinion.

Happy computing!


June 25, 2009


Filed under: Uncategorized — Ralph Kirkland @ 7:08 am

I recently got one of the popups that look like real warnings. I was warned I had some trojan and should run their program to clean it up. It did look similar to a warning from my computer.

I absentmindedly clicked “no”. Guess what it appeared that a program began to run. I immediately reset my computer. I found no malware. However, I am sure that the install had started.

Remember, just close any window that pops up. The people sending these out don’t care what you click on as long as they get permission to start. “No” and “yes” are the same.

June 4, 2009

Origin of the malware

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ralph Kirkland @ 2:51 pm

For those who are interested in where the new spyware/malware infections originate. Here is an article that gives some insight. Keeping your computer patches up to date is extremely important. The best protection is to install patches when they come out. Just set them install automatically.

Warning: Close out any open files, since the updates may require reboot.

May 28, 2009

Malware issues

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ralph Kirkland @ 11:41 am
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August, 2008, I found an malware on a client’s computer, XP Anti-Virus 2008. I was able to remove it in just over an hour, never having seen it before. This was one a very few virus/malware/spyware problems that I had worked in almost two years.

In the past month, I have dealt with at least six infections. I am trying to learn from each one, so I have spent extra time on them. It is taking numerous programs run numerous times to remove the infection.

The latest showed up as av2009. Neither McAfee nor Norton have stopped the initial infection. Although, Norton did block me from updating the Malwarebytes and Super-AntiSpyware programs I was using to remove the problems.

I am fairly certain that the software is getting downloaded with permission from the user. Probably showing up in a Window that looks like a Windows directoy that says your computer is infected. It asks permission to scan your drive and remove the problems. Downloading means that you have added the malware to your computer.

It then begins to pop up showing numerous spyware/malware infections. You must buy their program to remove the problems.

I do not know if they will then remove the program. I doubt it. I think they will just have your $50.

The programs are becoming more difficult to remove. Even when I think they are gone, sometimes they re-appear. It is extremely difficult to be certain they have been completely removed.


April 20, 2009

Spybot Search & Destroy

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ralph Kirkland @ 10:22 am

This is a free program that I have found to be very useful in removing spyware/malware. I recommend that you download it if your computer is slowing down, has lots of pop-ups, or any other strange behavior.

If it solves your problem, I also highly recommend giving them a donation at their website.

Download it from the Safer Networking site. You can also download it from

I recently had someone try to post a comment to my blog touting an Anti-spware program called, Search-and-Destroy. Guess what it is not from safer networking. From comments at the Safer Neetworking forum, it is the infection.

Do not download this program. I have not experimented to see the result, since it is known malware. They want $30 from you. Will they then give you a way to remove their malware? My guess is no.

Do not download this software. Don’t download any software unless you know the site or check it out first.

February 25, 2009

Malware/Spyware/Trojan/Rootkit Removal

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ralph Kirkland @ 5:03 pm

Please, I would like some comments. I am working on an e-book on removal methods for malware. The first pass is aimed at users who would like to do the removal themselves. The object is to walk them thru the removal, and let them see when they need outside help.

A simple but time consuming solution is to save data and reformat the hard disk. This takes much longer than most people estimate. You have to save data. Re-install the OS, re-install software, and find out what you had installed. I estimate 3-6 hours to get back up to where you were.

Another method is run a program that removes malware. This may actually work depending on the infection.

If these are not an option or you want a dfferent solution then what is your interest.

What would you like to see?

If you want simple, are you willing to pay say $5 for an e-book to help you remove the spyware? This would be a step by step outline of exactly how to remove the malware. This usually works, but not always. This keeps the steps simple.

Finally, is there any interest in a detailed malware removal. This is not so simple. It will likely take multiple hours to run. You will have to do some research in the process. Again, it still may not work. Would you pay $5 or $10 for an e-book to help this way.

Suggestions and feedback are welcome.

February 20, 2009


Filed under: Uncategorized — Ralph Kirkland @ 5:08 pm

In the past three weeks I have seen four computers with very difficult to remove malware. That may just be the luck of the draw. However, I had not seen many problems for a long time. These were stubborn and all reported one or more rootkits.

I am considering putting together some e-books on malware removal. It is difficult to write one because there are so many possibilities. I am interested in any comments from users about what they might need. Is the basic book all that is needed. Everyone will get help if it gets complicated.

One that seems to re-occur is the one I mentioned in an earlier post, XP Anti-Virus 2009. It seems to come under a number of names. The basic warning is that if you get a pop-up saying your computer is infected, don’t download the program. What they will ask for is $50 to remove the spyware. The only spyware is their program.

December 27, 2008

Keep It Simple Stupid – KISS

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ralph Kirkland @ 4:12 am

I’m sure you’ve heard this before. My aim is to make my business simple, and by doing so, make your business simple.

Home users usually want their support simple. Home users just want their computers to work. Most do not expect to have to pay for service for their computer. What can we do?

What should you be doing to protect your home computer? Do a three things and you can recover from almost any disaster. One, set up an automatic backup, online is preferred. Two, turn on the Windows firewall. Yes, I know it is simple, but it helps. Three, get a decent anti-virus/anti-malware/anti-spyware program. There are several free ones for home users. Avast! and AVG are two good ones.

Get some help if you don’t want to set this up yourself.

I set up programs for my clients to meet their needs. You should get a yearly, or more often checkup/tune-up.

August 21, 2008

The Convergence

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ralph Kirkland @ 8:48 am

The Convergence? Sounds like some New Age post on spirituality. Like most words in English, convergence can mean many things depending on the context. The Cambridge Dictionary defines converge this way, “If lines, roads or paths converge, they move towards the same point where they join or meet.”

What is the convergence with reference to VOIP? Today, most people and businesses have two separate services, voice and data. Most have added DSL or broadband service to their phone service for their internet access. The phone systems tend to still be the “old timey” voice system with a separate data system.

Many people have tried to join the connections thru the internet with various VOIP phone setups. These services have improved remarkably with services like Skype. But this setup does not offer a reliable service. Both phone and DSL service are only provided as best effort to maintain service.
Instead of two separate networks (one for voice calling and one for Internet Protocol), we are seeing a single converged network, carrying voice and data with the same networking protocol, IP. Now, we can have one system to manage and share. The system becomes simpler, more reliable and cost effective for small businesses.

CBeyond was one of the first companies to see this new opportunity. CBeyond uses the internet protocol, IP, to connect both voice and data. You are on a private IP connection with CBeyond, not public like with Skype. The difference is that you get a quality of service (QOS) guarantee.

What this opens up for small business is the kind of service large companies get at affordable rates, usually saving money over their current plans.

August 17, 2008

A New Way to Protect that Data!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ralph Kirkland @ 7:50 pm

I recommend online backups to keep data is secure and safe. Backups are automatic and the data storage is off site. The cost is low. What more could you ask?

I just ran across a different approach. Data is encrypted and stored immediately on servers on the net. A USB FOB is the key to the system. The real beauty of this system is that you can plug the FOB into any computer with intenet access and access your files.

The data is encrypted, broken up and stored in pieces on three servers. No one can put the data back together without the key. I will not be recommending it before I get a chance to see it work.

Advantages: Backup is immediate. Access anywhere. Files can be shared by sharing FOB data. If your computer is stolen, destroyed or dies, plug the FOB into the new computer. Load your programs and your are ready to roll. Almost no tech support or tech knowledge is required.

But what if you lose internet access? Files are stored in a temp directory on your computer. They will be synced when the internet is available.

Cost is about $10/month.

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