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How to Protect yourself from Scams on Facebook and Twitter

OMG! Facebook Scam ScreenshotI like to think of myself as a web-savvy user of IT. I can typically spot a scam e-mail or message a mile away, and when I’m unsure – a quick Google search usually provides me with the answers I require.

But we all have on-line friends who not only aren’t as savvy, but frankly, never, ever seem to learn – no matter how much you try to educate them. Facebook is rife with them. They’re the ones who are always being caught by the “OMG! I checked out who views my profile and you wouldn’t believe it!” but despite you telling them not to click these links, a similar message pops up on their Facebook timeline a few weeks (or even days) afterwards.

Safego from BitDefender

Now Anti-Virus vendor BitDefender has come to the rescue with a tool which can help protect you and your friends from both Facebook and Twitter scams.

Safego from BitDefender is an App which you authorise via your Facebook and/or Twitter page, and once installed, protects your account from all sorts of trouble including scams, spam, malware and private data exposure. BitDefender Safego Homepage Screenshot

I setup Safego for both my Twitter and Facebook accounts within minutes, and it immediately searched both Social Networking sites to ensure that I wasn’t already connected to anyone who was a spammer or scammer.

BitDefender Safego Facebook Screenshot

There are a number of additional features to the tool which are useful, such as the app advising you how secure your account is in terms of revealing personal information. My own Facebook account has both a City and Hometown displayed, for instance, which Safego suggests I remove on privacy grounds.

How it works

Once installed, if you go to click a dodgy link on Facebook or Twitter (via the web interface at least), Safego will advise you not to do this. If your friend falls for a scam, it’ll warn you – and depending on your app setting preference, allow you to automatically tell them they’ve been scammed too.

The BitDefender Safego tool is free, and I’m going to recommend it to all my friends and family. Most are very web-savvy, but all of us can be fooled, and I’m hoping this tool will persuade some of my less savvy online friends (who seem to have an unhealthy predication to clicking dodgy links) to act in a safer manner.

5 awesome Windows Mobile 6.5 Apps you may not be using


Windows Mobile LogoIn my last blog post, I wrote about my intention to stick with the Windows Mobile 6.5 platform on my HTC HD2 mobile phone for a while yet. Yes, I know the end is nigh and WinMo 6.5 is a dead O/S – but if there isn’t a compelling reason to move to another platform yet, why change for the sake of change?

It appears I’m not alone, as I received more than a few Tweets and messages from other Windows Mobile 6.5 users who are doing the same and not upgrading until they feel compelled to do so.

With that in mind, I thought I’d share a few apps for WinMo 6.5 that I’ve stumbled upon in the past few months and which have made my day-to-day Windows Mobile 6.5 experience even better.

moTweets

Screenshot of moTweetsFor accessing the Social Networking site Twitter, HTC’s in-built “Peep” application for the HD2 is fine. But I’ve noticed it slows down the ‘phone when running scheduled updates from Twitter, and is none too rich in the features department. Panoramic Soft’s moTweets is a vastly superior Twitter interface. There is a free version, supported by advertisements, and an Ad-Free version which is only a few pounds in cost.

Featuring an efficient interface that is easy to use and customise, moTweets supports multiple Twitter accounts, support for URL shorteners (such as Bit.ly and TinyURL), uploading media such as pictures and videos, geo-tagging Tweets with GPS co-ordinates, and providing easily searchable Twitter topics, users and lists.

I love the way that moTweets touch-screen interface allows you to access all the relevant info within a Tweet (Users, URL links, Hashtags, etc) simply and easily.

I couldn’t live without moTweets now – and if you’re a WinMo 6.5 Twitter user who is not using it, I’d urge you to try it out!

 

Opera 10

Opera 10 ScreenshotThe HTC HD2 comes with both Internet Explorer mobile and the Opera 9 web-browsers as standard. Both are fine browsers, but for the best browser experience on WinMo 6.5, why not download and install the feature rich and free Opera Mobile 10 browser?

Featuring a much slicker and faster interface than IE or Opera 9, with a “Speed-Dial” home page, I’ve found Opera 10 simply a great browser to use. With multiple (and easily navigable) tabs for web-browsing, and a feature to compress downloads (useful if browsing whilst outside your standard data tariff, say, whilst roaming abroad) it feels clean and snappy in use.

It also has a feature to synchronise settings (including open pages, speed-dials and search engines) between Opera on different phones and on your Desktop PC.

There are a lot of other features worth investigating too – but suffice to say, once you download and start using it, you’ll not look back.

 

Sprite Terminator / Lookout Mobile Security

A bit of a cheat here – as I suggest two apps with a common theme.

Sprite Terminator ScreenshotThe first – Sprite Terminator – I’ve been using on my Windows Mobile devices for many years. Costing just a few dollars, very simple to setup, and unobtrusive whilst running, Terminator runs in the background on your WinMo 6.5 device and stays quiet until you need it.

If you lose your ‘phone, or worse, it gets stolen – Sprite Terminator comes into its own. From any paired ‘phone (you can either set Sprite Terminator to accept SMS from any phone, or specific pre-paired and trusted phone numbers) you can send your ‘phone a specially worded SMS message containing a specified password and a command, and without the ‘phone acknowledging it has received an SMS (you’ll hear no beep and it won’t show on-screen) you will receive an SMS message back with a URL link to Google Maps with the latest GPS location of the ‘phone, a list of recent calls the ‘phone has made, or you can remotely lock or even wipe the ‘phone via SMS. Very powerful indeed!


In the same vein, but with a slightly more friendly web-interface for owners and a richer feature list, Lookout Mobile Security provides a free version that installs on your WinMo 6.5 device and then runs quietly in the background. Providing protection from Viruses, Malware and dodgy app, Lookout Mobile Security also provides a backup feature – regularly backing up the contents (Call List, Pictures, Videos, SMS – just about everything) of your ‘phone to a secure web-storage facility.

Lookout Mobile Security ScreenshotJust like Sprite Terminator, if you lose your ‘phone then via the Lookout Web site you can send a request to locate it via the ‘phones GPS function. Once you’ve found the device, there are two very cool features.

The first is Remote Wipe – effectively nuking your device to protect the valuable and confidential stored data. Some users of Microsoft Exchange will already be familiar with this feature.

The second is SCREAM! If you suspect your ‘phone has been stolen, you can send a remote command that once received by your ‘phone, causes it to emit a full volume high pitched screaming sound that will un-nerve the thief and cause more than a few stares. Smile

Personally, I run both Sprite Terminator and Lookout Mobile Security on my HTC HD2. I’ve noticed no performance reduction in doing so, and they give me peace of mind should I ever lose or have my HD2 stolen.

 

File Explorer Extension

File Explorer Extension ScreenshotsA small free app from Japan, but one that once installed, you’ll be stunned you managed to live without it!

File Explorer Extension does what it says on the tin and extends the File Explorer included with Windows Mobile 6.5 to includes some very cool features that you’re left scratching your head as to why they weren’t included in the O/S originally.

For instance, it allows you to open files with a specific application – great for occasions when you want to study a .HTML files code within Notepad, for instance.

There is a picture preview function, you can view the properties of a file, there is an improved explorer interface, the ability to easily copy and move files between folders – basically, all the things you’re used to doing on a Desktop PC, but are inexplicably missing from Windows Mobile’s native file explorer.

A no-brainer install – go do it!

 

MagiCall

MagiCall Screen shotHave you ever wanted to filter unwanted telephone calls or SMS to your mobile phone from certain people or organisations? If you ‘phone your network provider, they may tell you it’s impossible, or that they can do it for a certain ridiculous fee. MagiCall from Mobiion allows you to create a smart rule-based filter to block unwanted callers and SMS.

It’s hardly the most intuitive of interfaces, but it is very powerful! You can setup filters by specific telephone number or contact, performing a number of actions if this specified number calls or sends you an SMS.

For instance you could program the number of a nuisance caller, and anytime that person rings you – your ‘phone answers and then drops the call, all without being displayed on the screen of your ‘phone. Or you could give the caller a busy signal, or send them straight to voicemail without your device ringing.

For SMS, you could mark the SMS and read and move it to a different folder. Or delete it. Or reply back with pre-defined text. Basically, a number of different ways to deal with calls and SMS, from both wanted and unwanted callers.

As well as specified numbers, you can use it to block “Number Withheld” or “No Number” for those irritating overseas call centres calls.

There is a logging feature so you can check activity later if you choose, or in the case of malicious calls or SMS, just make them “go away”.

There is a 10-day trial of MagiCall and it costs $24.95 to buy. The first time it saves you being bothered by an unwanted call, it’s money well spent!

 

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So there you have it – five (ok, six…) apps that I use on my Windows Mobile 6.5 device and which I think are very cool!

As a final note, and if you’re a HTC HD2 owner like myself, I have to point out the XDA Developers Forum which has a number of sub-forums with amazing advice and guidance for HD2 owners. I’d particularly draw your attention to the “Boost Performance Tips” thread, which contains a load of really effective tweaks for WinMo 6.5 such as increasing the number of tabs the Opera web-browser allows, enabling the HD2 to turn on Bluetooth automatically when connected to a car charger, and many others. Check it out!

 


Microsoft Security Essentials available FREE to Small Businesses!

Microsoft Security Essentials LogoEarlier this month I wrote about “Best Free Anti-Virus for Home Users?” and rated Microsoft Security Essentials as the number one product.I also included the caveat that “We’re talking products that are free to use for Domestic personal use at home – not for Commercial or Small Business work as usage in a Commercial environment is often strictly prohibited in the License terms.

Well – Microsoft’s Eric Ligman made an announcement that beginning in early October, Microsoft will be allowing Small Businesses with up to 10 users to use Microsoft Security Essentials free of charge!

Eric writes “… we are extremely excited today to let you know that Microsoft is making its Microsoft Security Essentials available to small businesses on up to 10 PCs for FREE, beginning in early October! By providing Microsoft Security Essentials to small businesses free of charge, Microsoft extends its commitment to help these companies save money and grow their business by offering no-cost protection from viruses, spyware and other malicious threats.

As the line between Small Home Office and Small Business continues to blur, I think this a great move from Microsoft, and one to be applauded!

 

What is the Best Free Anti-Virus for Home users?

Collection of Anti-Virus Company LogosI was recently asked for my opinion on the Best Free Anti-Virus product available for Home PC’s. We’re talking products that are free to use for Domestic personal use at home – not for Commercial or Small Business work as usage in a Commercial environment is often strictly prohibited in the License terms (although my top pick allows free use in a Commercial environment too!)

With that in mind, here are my top three picks:-

3. Panda Cloud Anti-Virus

Unlike traditional Antivirus products, Panda Cloud is slightly different in that it stores the latest virus definitions online. This means that when a new virus threat is detected, and a virus definition produced, Panda is automatically protected against that virus by always having the latest definition available to it, with no requirement to download or install any updates.

In theory, this also means a very lightweight Anti-Virus client on your PC.

In practice, I didn’t notice any real difference in performance between Panda and any other AV client, even on a low-spec Netbook – but Panda have made an interesting move forwards in “Cloud Computing”.

2. AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition

The most recognisable and popular free Anti-Virus product available. AVG Free Edition v9.0provides Basic protection against Viruses and Malware, and is easy to use and reliable.

The Free Edition also has e-mail scanning (for POP and SMTP, no IMAP support available) and the AVG Security Toolbar automatically lets you know if you’re about to visit a dodgy web page, with the LinkScanner highlighting malicious web-pages amongst search engine results to help protect you.

1. Microsoft Security Essentials

It’s taken a while for them to get there, but Microsoft now offer a free Anti-Virus solution that is quick and very easy to install, integrates with Windows very well, and well… just works!

In my experience, Microsoft Security Essentialsis the least intrusive of all the free Anti-Virus products available – rarely popping up to ask you to download updates, and being noticeably light-weight in use and not slowing your PC down. I’ve also observed that Security Essentials does not block as many applications from functioning properly as other AV products (including Panda and AVG) – which might take additional configuration to enable those apps to work.

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So there you have it – my Free Anti-Virus of choice for home users is Microsoft Security Essentials! As always, I’m interested in your opinions and experiences – do leave a comment, reach out to me via Twitter, or drop me an e-mail!

 

How to fix a Web-Browser that is being re-directed to windowsclick.com

At the danger of incurring the wrath of my buddy “Angry” Andy Parkes again by being too techie three blog posts in a row – we had an “interesting” problem reported by a client this morning that I thought I’d share.

Despite having a fully up-to date and working Trend Worry Free Business Securityclient in place, they’d “somehow” got themselves infected with what they thought was a virus.

We won’t investigate the events leading up to the “somehow” but instead concentrate on what effect the infection had on the laptop.

In a nutshell the problem was that Internet Explorer kept intermittently re-directing their web-browsing to the dodgy search engine web-site windowsclick(dot)com.

We advised the client we could deal with the problem, and so grabbed our AV tools and went to work. Except non of our usual toolkit did work – both Trend and Symantec didn’t find any infections during Live Scans, and every time we went to visit Windows Update, Trend or Symantec sites or run any other AV tools – nothing – the site or application simply failed to run at all. We got 404 Errors or simply no GUI appearing.

We’d normally turn to some live tools such as Bart’s PE to help kill the virus outside of an active Windows session, but in this case I was intrigued to what was happening to prevent any AV tools running.

A bit of research later and we found some reports of success using the tools provided by http://www.malwarebytes.org/to clean this threat – and so off we went and grabbed a copy of their Anti-Malware application to see what it could find.

It installed ok on the infected laptop – but then failed to run, just like the other AV tools we had tried. So I tried something different – I renamed the Anti-Malware executable file slightly. Voila! This time the software loaded and allowed me to run an update, do a malware scan, find the baddies (in this case, a Virus called Rogue.XPPoliceAntiVirus) and remove them successfully.

So – I’m unsure whether any other tools would work in the same way, but in this particular case, simply installing Malwarebytes Anti-Malwareand after installation re-naming the executable mbam.exe within C:Program FilesMalwarebytes’ Anti-Malware (in this case to mbyam.exe) worked a treat!

And another addition to the AV Toolkit – Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware.

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