The value of simplicity

I often tell people who are looking for a cheap computer that there are numerous costs beyond the purchase price to consider.

This week on 3 separate occasions this point has popped its head up.

Episode 1: A woman asked me for a recommendation for a new computer – she is an octogenarian that uses it only once or twice a year when she can’t use her Kindle to make travel arrangements.  She was unaware that she could go to websites on her Kindle Fire and be able to make flight reservations.  Instead of showing her an array of computer options, I showed her how to navigate on her tablet.  She breathed a sigh of relief that she would not have to learn a new computer operating system (her old computer was still running XP).

Episode 2: A gentleman that I helped purchase a mac mini about 3 years ago called with a problem that AppleCare had tried to help him fix but couldn’t.  In the interest of saving money at purchase time, we had gotten an inexpensive monitor from CompUSA to pair with his MacMini.  On hearing him describe his symptoms, I knew the solution was to change the input on the monitor, but he had no idea where the button for that was, and I had no idea without being in front of it to hunt for it.  He asked why he got that monitor and not an Apple one, and I reminded him that he (his daughter) didn’t want to spend as much as an Apple monitor would cost.

Epsiode 3: A coworker recently moved to an iMac and was wondering how she was going to be able to back up her computer – a matter of 3 clicks later, TimeMachine was enabled and she was impressed to learn that it would keep hourly backups so in case she accidentally deleted or modified a file, she would have access to recent changes in a very intuitive interface.

It is vitally important to consider the value of your peace of mind when looking at the cost of your new machine.  How much is your aggravation worth?

Food Porn?

Jamie Oliver – The Naked Chef probably never intended his tongue in cheek title to foreshadow the use of his website to distribute malware the way that porn sites are notorious for doing.

You might remember the post earlier in the month when I warned you of how his website was infected with malware.  Well, less than a month later, the bad guys have reinfected his site, this time with a better grade of malware.  The arms race is real, and you must be vigilant.

Malwarebytes Blog

What would you do if you got a purchase confirmation from the Apple Store…

for a purchase that you never authorized?

Would you report it on the included Transaction Cancellation form on the email?

Fake Transaction Cancellation Form – by filling this out, you give your account information and credit card information to the bad guys

 

If you have an Apple ID and have made purchases in the past, you should know that there is no Transaction Cancellation Form on your receipts.

But it looks so real!

That is the point of phishing – it makes it hard to tell when it is fake.  You have to think twice before putting your credit card information in anything you have received without your request.

Source: Malwarebytes Blog

Android Users – so you think your phone is off…..

The latest Android malware tricks users into thinking that their phone is off – then goes and makes calls, sends pictures, etc while it is in fake sleep.

Discovered by the researchers at AVG it fakes the user by hijacking the system shutdown command, so it can carry out its nefarious deeds without detection.

Chef Jamie Oliver’s Site Serves Up Delicious Malware

For all of my readers that think they are safe from malware because they don’t go to “questionable” websites …. you are not necessarily safe.  Malwarebytes has discovered that the website for Jamie Oliver has been compromised by hackers and infects the computers of visitors with a drive by infection.

The site has already been cleaned up, but this is a reminder that there is no such thing as a “safe” website.

Equation Group – Malware team went undetected for nearly 15 years

Kaspersky Labs – the one that says over and over that 20xx is “The Year of the Mac Virus” where xx=(03-15 so far) has released a study about a piece of malware that they have recently uncovered that is groundbreaking in many ways.  It is ALMOST undetectable, and they have been infecting machines for over 14 years.

If you like reading an analysis that reads more like a spy novel, the actual report is here.  A more accessible article was posted to Ars Technica on Feb 16, 2015.

“The discovery of the Equation Group is significant because this omnipotent cyber espionage entity managed to stay under the radar for almost 15 years, if not more,” Raiu said. “Their incredible skills and high tech abilities, such as infecting hard drive firmware on a dozen different brands, are unique across all the actors we have seen and second to none. As we discover more and more advanced threat actors, we understand just how little we know. It also makes us reflect about how many other things remain hidden or unknown.”

Kaspersky also claims that iOS and MacOS systems have been infected:

Redirects that sent iPhone users to unique exploit Web pages. In addition, infected machines reporting to Equation Group command servers identified themselves as Macs, an indication that the group successfully compromised both iOS and OS X devices.

It will be interesting to see if this discovery of Kaspersky Labs turns out to be something more than the active imagination of a FUD dealing protection peddler.

Linux Viruses?

HelpMeClayton:

“About a year ago, my friend set me up with a netbook with Linux Mint on it for my mother.  It does all she needs to do with browsing the internet, watching videos, reading email.

Lately she has been complaining that her machine has a virus.  What do I use to clean a virus off Linux Mint?”

The fact of the matter is that Linux itself is not going to get a virus or malware, at least nothing is in the wild as of this writing.  However, the video watching and web browsing can expose her machine to cross-platform malware.  Adobe Flash and Java are the two main targets here.  To the non-techie user, it just feels like their machine has a virus.

So What do I do?

Make sure you install any updates to Flash or Java as soon as you find out about them.  Google Chrome will update itself as soon as it needs to.  For other browsers see the following page on WikiHow.

If you still want to do SOMETHING to make you feel better about the virus free status of your machine, you can use the free antivirus CLAMAV.  Look for it in your app store.  The thing is….you might get false positives instead of detecting any real problems, so you are better off just checking to make sure you are up to date, and then leaning back and enjoying computing