Critical Windows Updates

This month’s Windows updates from Microsoft include 4 critical updates which fix flaws that could allow the PC to be taken over simply by visiting a specially crafted web page. Your anti-virus may or may not offer any protection, therefore I advise people to install these Windows updates.


Microsoft’s Valentine

Microsoft has a number of Valentines Day presents for all us loyal users in the form of some critical security updates! Woo, I know how exciting this must be, and due to us living on the wrong side of the Atlantic, we probably won’t get our pressies until late at night or even Wednesday.

Installing these updates is an important way to keep your computers secure against viruses and other threats. If you don’t see any updates appear by Wednesday night, you may have a problem. Get in touch on 01646 602248 if you need help with this, although not tomorrow night, as I am having a night off! ..and not with Microsoft!

How to avoid viruses !

Sorry, there is no guaranteed protection, but one thing you can do is remove Java. Most people don’t need it, and if you do, you can always download it again. Windows itself has been updated so much, that virus writers are finding fewer weaknesses. Now, their attentions are focussed on Java, Adobe Flash and Adobe Acrobat. The average Joe is likely to need the Adobe products (Acrobat Reader for downloaded documents and forms) and Flash for many websites, including YouTube. However, you will protect yourself better if you keep those products up to date. You should be on Adobe Reader X (or 10) and Flash Player 11 – to check which version of Flash you are on, go to

The figures in a study in September put malware infections via Adobe products at 48%, and via Java at 37% with Internet Explorer trailing at a relatively safe 10%.



Virus removal annoyance!

It’s so annoying when 3 hours into a virus scan, from a Rescue CD the laptop just decides to power down. A whole host of malware found but not removed, so it has to be done again. Before anyone says, the power lead WAS plugged in and the power was on..oh well, I’ll try a different CD. 

For anyone unfamiliar with boot CDs, the idea is you can load clean software from the CD to perform a virus scan on an infected disk. If you start (Windows) from an infected hard disk, the infection may be able to hide itself, or use various blocks to prevent the user, or an antivirus tool from removing it. 

Cold callers claiming to be from Microsoft

I am hearing more and more cases of the cold callers claiming to be from Microsoft and claiming that “you have errors on your Windows computer.” I blogged about these bogus callers  18 months ago, and it seems to be a growing trend.

Note: Microsoft do not cold call people! Never ever! Nor do they cold email people.

If you get one of these malicious calls, I urge you to hang up immediately and tell them nothing. Or tell them you know they are phoney, ask for their phone number, and google it, or call a techie. If you are in Pembrokeshire, call me for advice on 01646 602248.


Wikipedia logo


I love Wikipedia. In fact, as a child, I had a set of the Children’s Encyclopedia Brittanica, all 20 volumes, and I would spend hours, randomly flipping through articles. Now, we have a resource which is massively bigger, more detailed, and kept up to date. It is criticised because people can edit it. However, edits and new articles are subject to review, and on a pretty democratic basis. Experts in the field of say, Agaricus mushrooms, will keep an eye on that area to make sure articles are fair and well researched.

I think it would be a sad day if Wikipedia were to go, or if it was populated by ads. Its income is entirely based on donations. I have decided to donate to it, and I urge any of you who value knowledge to donate to it too. More on Wikipedia here

Bad visa credit card website security questions

bad security questions

Security questions used for website security are generally a terrible idea, as the information is often easy to obtain. The classic example is mother’s maiden name. For famous people, this is easily available on the web, and anyone determined can find this for less famous people. The examples on this form have many poor choices, that are easily found out, favourite niece (I only have one niece), street you grew up on.

What really smacks me about this one, is how restrictive it is. Firstly it’s annoying that I have to use one word for my first car (not my real answer) which would also be an annoyance for “street I grew up on.” I also couldn’t use Paris as my honeymoon location. Secondly, it seems bizarre (and unlikely) that their database cannot store spaces nor punctuation, eg St. David’s Street. A no-brainer rule of passwords is – the more complex the password, the harder for a hacker to crack.