Saturday, July 25, 2009

Securing Your Web Browser

Securing Your Web Browser
By the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team or US-CERT

Browser security and browser vulnerabilities are big topics that I soap box about all the time to customers about just because it's the most attacked vector of the user's computer (other than email).
Today I found a fantastic article explaining the importance of securing and using a safe web browser as well as goes over many details of why your browser needs to be secure and how it is exploited!

The article was written by the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team and is the best and most thorough explanation I have ever come across! This is an excellent, definite MUST read article!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Check Out Pacific NorthWest Computers' New Website!
*Still Under Construction...

Pacific NorthWest Computers On-line!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Twitter Got Hacked... Again !

"I just learned that Twitter has contacted the FBI so i decided to delete all my posts."

What does it take for a company to realize,

"We need to invest into the security of our website!"

Here is a brief list of the security incidents I have read about Twitter since the dawn of the new year...
(In the best chronological order I could put them in!)

January '09:

Monday Morning Madness @Twitter
Phishing Scam Bursts Twitter's 'Trust' Bubble
Hackers Hi-Jack's Obama's, Britney's Twitter Accounts
Twitter Hack: How it happened and what's being done
Weak Password Brings ‘Happiness’ to Twitter Hacker

April '09:
Twitter Worm Targets Celebrities
Wow - my Yahoo mail account was just hacked
This week, unauthorized access to Twitter was gained by an outside party...

May '09:

Hacker: I Broke Into Twitter

July '09:

The Month of Twitter Bugs

The Anatomy Of The Twitter Attack
Twitter: A Growing Security Minefield

August '09:
Why Attack Twitter!?
Hackers attack Twitter, Facebook also slows down
Twitter meltdown raises questions about the site(s) stability

Twitter Attack Looks Politically Motivated
Twitter and Facebook DDoS attack 'targeted one person'
Twitter still recovering from DDoS attack

Twitter definitely needs to get their act together! Especially with a month of investigative exploitations down, now a DDoS attack; what's next!?!?

Even if they finally "Batten Down the Hatches", safe online user account security practices are always a must when you any online or user based website; especially social networking web sites!
You always want to secure your account to the gills and try to avoid using "web apps" and similar Java & Flash applications.
(like Quizzes, User2User Games, etc.)

With our world's growing dependency on computers, we also need to be growing the security and safeguarding of the personal information that the world stores on these systems.
Best Practice Guide to Safe Social Networking

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Well, as any business that is "up-and-coming" would do,
We now have a Facebook and MySpce Pages!

If you are a social net-worker; check it out!

IE-0day Exploit Domains List

This is something that it is important to know for applications of IT and computer security; especially in corporate and government environments....

" ...list of domains that are exploiting the new IE-0day exploits as well as secondary domains that are hosting potentially malicious binaries utilized in these attacks... "

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Botnet Sagga Continues...

This is the Stuff, Die Hard Movies are made after! But, it is also a very serious and very REAL, day to day threat!

Botnet worm in DOS attacks could wipe data out on infected PCs

Say Hello to USB 3.0!

Running at 5Gbps and Nicknamed "SuperSpeed"....

U.S.B. 3.0!
"Sound the death knell for good old USB 2.0"

Friday, July 10, 2009

Office 2010 The Movie

As if technology and computers didn't move fast enough already; here's is Microsoft's latest Multimillion dollar media campaign for ANOTHER new product: Office 2010....

"From the makers of Office 2003 and Office 2007..."

But hey, I can't blame em'!
After releasing Vista, Office 2007, Windows Live, and Windows Defender. Who wouldn't want to make a comeback.... A BIG come back!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

HP - invent

"Present an idea which promotes HP Workstations ability to bring to life anything the creative mind can conceive." - Tom and Matt

Good show fellas!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Mainstream Graphics Card Roundup

Mainstream Graphics Card Roundup;
Good overall comparisons and statistics, along with software benchmarking results! Great read for anyone wanting to know what's going on with current/mainstream video cards!

Governments Targeted in Online Attacks

Washington Post, White House, FAA, DoD, Others, Targeted in Online Attacks; Scary Stuff!

".... a line of text buried within the malware carried the cryptic message "get/china/dns." ...."
  • Article can be found and read Here.

Google's "Chrome" Netbook OS

Google introduces their new "Chrome" Operating System; the great, the good and the not so good.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Lexmark Printer Service/Print Spooler Bug: XP Systems

Because of a flaw in Lexmark's printer driver and software removal and uninstall utility. After removing a Lexmark printer driver and software from an XP system, may create "Printer Installation Failed: RPC Server Unavailable" and/or "Print Spooler Service Is Not Running" error messages.

The first thing you always need try if you are having any kind of basic software problems, is to try uninstalling and reinstalling the appropriate drivers and software, and/or visit the manufacturer's website and download and install the latest drivers and software for your device. If this does not fix your printing issues, the problem probably lies within Windows itself. (Unless of course, your device is physically broken or you have a broken cable). But what I have seen over the years is that customers with these specific "Printer Spooler Service" or "RPC Server Unavailable" errors happen to to use or have had used a Lexmark printer.

So really quick, here is the definition of what a Windows Service, like the Print Spooler Service, basically is: (Taken from Link)
"A Windows service is an application that starts when the Microsoft Windows operating system is booted and runs in the background as long as Windows is running."
*Quick explanation of What Is RPC and How Does it Work.

The Print Spooler Service itself basically is a Windows service that starts when your computer starts, and is constantly running in the background of your operating system to load files to memory for printing. What I would find is that there would be a service installed in the computer from Lexmark called the "LexBce Server". The LexBce Server Service is installed by the Lexmark printer's software to configure the onboard network print server.
*The print server
accepts jobs from computers and send the jobs to the appropriate printers.

When the service installs itself however, it installs itself so the Windows Print Spooler Service becomes dependent upon it. So disabling the LexBce Server Service will make it so that your Print Spooler Service can no longer run. Which in effect disables all printing on your computer. Also, without the Print Spooler running, an installation of a printer is not going to be possible and you are going to most likely get the "RPC" error that was mentioned at the begining.
*The LexBce Server Service can also come pre-installed on some Dell computers that are packaged with "Dell" printers; that's because they are made by Lexmark.
**The LexBce.dll, a file related with the LexBce Server, is also related to
the software "MarkVision for Windows" also a product of Lexmark.

So, do all Lexmark printers install this service? I can't say for sure. What I do know is that if you are using a Lexmark printer or have had a Lexmark printer, you could have the LexBce Server Service installed on your computer and may eventually experience the discussed issues. Same scenario for previous owners of Lexmark printers. The un-installation of Lexmark printer drivers/software might have left this service behind. The bottom line is that if LexBce Server Service was, or is, on your computer and happens to fail or is disabled instead of removed during software/driver removal, say hello to the Lexmark Print Spooler bug!

*I originally wrote this blog working at Battle Ground Computers, back when I was a manager at their store; it was a great find of mine so I wanted to re-post it on my new blog with some updated and edits. My original blog posting;

Get the most out of your internet!

Getting the Most Out of Your Internet

Probably one of the number one issues that is brought up to me is "Why is my internet so slow! It use to be so much faster!". Well dial-up or high-speed, everyone can be affected by internet "chug". So here are some quick recommendations and thoughts on how to keep your internet AND your computer running quickly and smoothly!

1) Confirm that the computer itself is operating at maximum efficiency. It is very common for computers, mainly those using the Microsoft Windows Operating Systems, do become sluggish after as little as a few weeks of operation. This can make users think that their dial-up connection is extremely slow and can become an incentive to convert to a more expensive broadband connection. Sluggish computers are, of course, less noticeable with broadband.

2) Empty browser's caches and cookies, which are directories that the browser uses to retain copies of previously visited web pages. When these caches become very large, they can consume considerable space on a Hard Drive and thus slowing down your computer's operation, including its ability to displaying web pages.
**CCleaner is a free PC optimization tool. It combines a system cleaner that removes unused and temporary files from your system and also a fully featured registry cleaner! CCleaner allows Windows to run faster, more efficiently and gives you more hard disk space. The best part is that it's Small, Fast and Free!
*Here is a direct ink to it's download page:
Here is a link to instructions on how to install and use CCleaner:

3) Use a fast web browser. There are large differences in the speeds at which browsers render web pages; a browser is rendering when it's interpreting the web site's "geek" code and converting to a form which we see as a beautiful web page. The fastest is said to be closely between FireFox 3.5 and Google's Chrome web browser. Also, the newer the version of these browsers, generally the faster you'll go. Reason for this include improvements in coding and in how previously visited pages are stored in the browser cache. Internet Explorer should be avoided because it is the slowest of the major browsers, because it has inferior security and because it lacks other advanced features. FireFox and Chrome can be downloaded from the Internet at no cost and are available for use with most major operating systems.
Here is a link to download FireFox:
Here is a link to instructions on how to install FireFox:

4) Use tabbed browsing. Tabbed browsing is an innovation built into advanced browsers such as FireFox and Chrome that allows multiple pages to be opened at a time in which appear as different pages in a single web browser window. Each of these pages is easily accessible by clicking the appropriate tab along the top of the window. This can be much more convenient than having to open each page in a separate browser window when it is desired to have a number of pages open simultaneously. Furthermost, it can also speed up the web surfing by making it more convenient to be downloading other web pages while another page is being read.

5) Avoid unnecessary browser plug-ins, which are downloadable software that is designed to "add functionality" to your web browser. Plug-ins can substantially decrease web page rendering time because they allow additional data to be downloaded for many pages or is trying to consistently update "sibling" applications. Perhaps the most notorious example is Adobe Flash, which is used for moving images.

6) Turn off pop-up windows. These unrequested windows, which are usually used for advertisements, consumes bandwidth and can slow down the rendering of web pages. They are also a nuisance because the user has to click them to close them. The ability to turn off pop-up windows is a major feature of advanced browsers such as FireFox, Chrome and Safari; it was not available on Internet Explorer as of early 2006.

7) Turn off web page images. This is probably not desirable for most people, but for those who are interested solely in text, it can speed up the loading of web pages considerably, particularly those which contain numerous advertisements or other images. With the FireFox browser, for example, this is accomplished by clicking on the Edit menu to open the Preferences panel, clicking on the Web Features icon and then removing the check mark from the Load Images check box. Finally, click the OK button at the bottom of the panel.

8) The last and best solution is to optimize the performance of the computer itself. Several causes of sluggish performance are most notably caused by:
- A full, or nearly full, hard disk drive (HDD) & a lack of defragmentation.
- An older computer with a slow microprocessor with limited memory
- The presence of viruses or other malware in the system.
**Typically, the first of these is the easiest to correct; this can be accomplished by removing little-used files and programs. However,
malware can be "in-the-wild" per-say for up two weeks or more before being identifiable by your Anti-virus software. So there is small possibility that there might be something in there that just can't be seen for found yet; worse case scenario of course.

Additional Software Recomendations:
Applocations were picked for the effeciency, effectivness and low impact on the user's system performance.

Avira’s AntiVir Personal Anti-Virus:

Avira AntiVir Personal - FREE Antivirus is a reliable free antivirus solution
, that constantly and rapidly scans your computer for malicious programs (such as viruses, Trojans, backdoor programs, hoaxes, worms, dialers etc.), monitoring every action executed by the user or by the operating system and being able to react promptly when a malicious program is detected. Avira AntiVir Personal is a comprehensive, easy to use antivirus program, designed to offer reliable free of charge virus protection.

Malwarebyte's Anti-Malware:
Detects and removes Trojans, Worms, Spyware, and other malicious programs.

  • Repairs damage left by malware

  • Internet surfing tracks erased with TrackSweep

  • Incremental updates for faster downloads

  • Efficient computer resource footprint

  • Free software updates throughout license duration

  • Free support from worldwide security volunteer network

Safer Networking’s Spybot Search & Destroy:

Spybot - Search & Destroy detects and removes spyware, a relatively new kind of threat not yet covered by common anti-virus applications. Spyware silently tracks your surfing behavior to create a marketing profile for you that is transmitted without your knowledge to the compilers and sold to advertising companies. If you see new toolbars in your Internet Explorer that you haven't intentionally installed, if your browser crashes inexplicably, or if your home page has been "hijacked" (or changed without your knowledge), your computer is most probably infected with spyware. Even if you don't see the symptoms, your computer may be infected, because more and more spyware is emerging. Spybot-S&D is also absolutely free.

Why use this defragger instead of the standard Windows defragger?

  • Much faster.

  • Extremely easy to use.

  • Optimized for daily use.

  • Several strategies of disk optimization.

  • Directories are moved to the beginning of the disk.

  • Reclaims MFT reserved space after disk is full.

  • Maintains free spaces for temporary files.

  • Can defragment very full hard drives.

  • Can defragment very large files.

  • Can defragment individual directories and files.

  • Can be run automatically with the Windows Scheduler.

  • Can be used from the commandline (DOS).

  • Can be used as a screen saver.