Ask Rick Maybury 2013

  

 

Ask Rick 281 02/11/13

 

Crypto Horror

I have this been subjected to a vicious cyber attack and from nowhere ten or more years of saved

documents have been encrypted. I have been offered a release Key in three days time provided I pay

$300 or Euros 300.  I refused to pay, and am now saddled with some quite important file losses of files. Is there any hope? Can anyone detect the source of such criminal tactics?

David Harris, by email

 

A Ransomware program called Cryptolocker has been doing the rounds since September and is arguably one of the nastiest pieces of malware, to date. It can get on to your PC through an email attachment, often purporting to come from someone you know or a company or organisation that you have had dealings with, or by visiting an infected website or by downloading pirated software. Once activated it swiftly encrypts all of your data files and you are given 96 hours to pay up, typically £100 to £300, before the decryption key is destroyed. To date all attempts to track down the villains who created it, or break the encryption within the time limit have failed. To make matters even worse it can slip past security software, or by the time it is detected, it is too late. The usual malware avoidance techniques can help protect your computer, so never open unexpected attachments, especially if they contain .pdf or .zip files and avoid pornographic and pirate software websites. However, in the end the best protection is make sure that all of your important data is frequently and securely backed up on protected drives or systems. Security software should eventually catch up with Cryptolocker but there are steps you can take now to protect your files. If you know your way around the Windows Group Policy Editor you can create rules that stop the infection from working. There are instructions on how to do this, and a useful article on Cryptolocker on the bleepingcomputer website (http://goo.gl/KxUvvY). Otherwise there is a simple freeware tool that does it for you on the Foolish It website, called CryptoPrevent (http://goo.gl/41tm6T). If you have inadvertently opened an attachment and think your PC may have become infected it is probably too late to stop the damage but if you are quick you might be able to stop it spreading to other drives and PCs on your network by immediately disconnecting from your WI-Fi or router.

 

 

Making Faces

Is there a program that I can run on my Windows 7 PC that will enable me to draw a face from a description in a book? I have in mind something where I can choose a shape of face from a selection, then a hairstyle and add the other elements from a library. Black and white will be adequate; maybe I could add some shading later with Windows Paint. 

John Parker, by email

 

It sounds as though you are looking for a modern take on the old police Identikit system. If so have a look at a couple of free web-based face drawing tools, called PimpTheFace (http://goo.gl/GwFfJ), and FaceFlash (http://goo.gl/Uptr). Both of them will email the image you have created back to you, though they may also be saved to a public gallery; if you prefer to keep your handiwork private use the Snapshot option, or Print Screen function on your PC to save it directly to the Windows Clipboard, then you can open it in your preferred image editing program.   

 

 

Troublesome Triangle?

A golden triangle has appeared on the address bar on my Google Chrome browser, on top of the padlock symbol when visiting https websites. When I right click on it, it states: ‘Your connection is encrypted, however, this page includes other resources which are not secure’.  This concerns me and I have not logged on to my bank since seeing this message. Recently I had the perfidious Delta Search on my computer, but managed to get rid of it. Could this be the reason for the golden triangle? A few weeks ago you mentioned a search engine, which does not keep a history of searches. Could you remind me which one it was?

Sheila Imbach, by email

 

The yellow triangle has nothing to do with Delta Search and it simply means that your connection to the first party website, your bank, for example, is secure, as indicated by the locked padlock symbol, other elements on the page, such as banners and adverts etc., are coming from a third party source and are not encrypted. On a highly secure and closely monitored bank website this should not represent a threat but you can easily prevent it from becoming one by going to Chrome’s Settings menu. Select Show Advanced Settings at the bottom of the page; under Privacy click Content Settings and check Block 3rd party cookies. Under Plugins check Click to Play and under Pop-Ups click Do not allow. Before you exit the menu run through the rest of the list, as there may be other things that you do not want to allow, such as revealing your location or access to your PC’s camera and microphone. The anonymous and ad-free search engine that I mentioned recently was DuckDuckGo.com,

 

 

Unblock The Bin

When I delete something I get a message that says ‘The Recycle Bin on C/: is corrupted. Do you want to empty the Recycle Bin for this drive?’ If I click Yes the message appears again, and if I click on No the message goes, but when I open the Recycle Bin there is nothing in it. What can I do?

Pat Arber, by email

 

All sorts of things, including unsuccessful updates can cause the Recycle Bin to throw a wobbly so assuming that you are using Windows Vista, W7 or W8, try this simple procedure to empty and reset the Bin. In any Search box type ‘cmd’ (without the quotes), then right-click on cmd.exe and select Run as Administrator. In the black command prompt box that opens, at the flashing cursor type the following: rd /s /q C:\$Recycle.bin and press Return.

 

---end---

© R. Maybury 2013 1410

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