Preventing Computer Disasters

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” -Benjamin Franklin

This old saying holds just as true in today’s modern world of electronics.  This short post will deal with a few simple steps to make sure your computer and your data are secure from disaster.  First, we will focus on making sure software is secure and up to date.  Second, I will discuss free antivirus and antimalware real time protection software. Third, I will rehash some best practices regarding passwords.  Finally, I will try to drive home the security hole of Java.

Keep Software Up-To-Date

Stop using Windows XP.  Period.  Technically, you still have one year of critical security updates left.  Microsoft will officially stop supporting Windows XP in April of 2014, a full TWELVE years after its original release.  But why wait until then?  Get your data backed up and either install a free operating system such as Ubuntu, install a paid upgrade of Windows 8 or 7 ($199), or purchase a new computer running Windows 8 for well south of $500.  Preventing a security breach and stolen identity is worth far more than the pain of a new computer system.
ENABLE WINDOWS UPDATE. Control PanelSystem and SecurityWindows Update – First, change the default setting of updates to also install updates for all Microsoft software  (not just Windows i.e. MS Office).  Once this is changed, the Windows Update window will read “You Receive Updates: For Windows and Other Products from Microsoft Update”.
Now click “Change Settings” in the left panel or go to Control PanelSystem and SecurityWindows UpdateChange settings & Choose “Install Updates Automatically“.  Also,    Laptop users might want to change the update frequency to “Check for Updates, but let me choose when to download and install them.”  This is especially true if you are using a metered 4G cellular connection.  If you do this, you MUST be sure to keep an eye out for the Windows System Update icon next to the System Clock.  Speaking of which…
Enable “Always show all icons and notifications on the taskbar“.  Control PanelAll Control Panel ItemsNotification Area Icons.  Check box for “Always Show”.  Taskbar icons are typically where applications will nag you to update them.  Do not ignore these icons.  Certain running programs minimize to this area as well, such as antivirus, sound settings, network settings, dropbox, boxcryptor, etc.   Get to know what should be there when everything is up to date and notice when something changes.
Last – use an automated software updater program.  Microsoft Windows Updates are wonderful at updating security fixes for the Operating System, Word, and Excel, but what about all those security updates to Java, Adobe, Firefox, etc?  Secunia software has a FREE application called Personal Software Inspector that can handle this automatically.
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Protecting Your Online Accounts

In the past months, every online web service appears to be a target for hacking or just plain old fashion social engineering.  LinkedIn passwords were hacked in June.  Yahoo leaked online account information in July.  Dropbox dropped the ball (again) in August.  An Amazon & iCloud social hack devastated an online blogger after a hacker took control, reset his iPhone, wiped his iPad, formatted his MacBook, and locked him out of his Gmail and Twitter accounts!
What we have learned is three fold:

  1. Never use the same password twice!
  2. Use “disposable” Credit Card numbers; or at the least, do not use the same credit card for Amazon as Apple.
  3. Always use Two Factor Authentication when available! Continue reading “Protecting Your Online Accounts”
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Stop SOPA

takeaction
https://action.eff.org/o/9042/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=8173
https://www.google.com/landing/takeaction/
“SOPA and PIPA wouldn’t stop piracy
To make matters worse, SOPA and PIPA won’t even work. The censorship regulations written into these bills won’t shut down pirate sites. These sites will just change their addresses and continue their criminal activities, while law-abiding companies will suffer high penalties for breaches they can’t possibly control.”
Keep the Internet in technocratic hands.

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SBS 2003 W3SVC1 log file grew to 50GB!

W3SVC1 log file located in C:inetpublogslogfiles grew to 50GB on a client SBS 2003 server.
Safe to delete manually.   Controlled by Start>Run>%SystemRoot%system32inetsrviis.msc
iisloggingWeb Sites > Right click Default Web Site > Properties > Enable Logging
Scheduled task to keep it on but stop the log file from growing unrestricted found here on Microsoft Technet:
Start>Run>CMD

at 12:00 /EVERY:Su Forfiles.exe -p C:WINDOWSsystem32LogFilesW3SVC1 -m *.log -d -30 -c “Cmd.exe /C del @path”

Best I’ve found so far.
The process is a little different with SBS 2008 and IIS7:
Disabling WSUS Logging (or any website on Windows Server 2008)

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Time Matters 11 sp1 TM Save and Shortcut Errors

The latest service pack for Time Matters has a quirk that causes it to lose the desktop shortcut to the program and possible corrupt the TM Save link in MS office Add-ins.
Here is how to fix the Microsoft Office 2007 integration error with TM Save plugin for Time Matters 11. If you experience the following errors, please read on.
Time Matters Shortcut is damaged or missing:
Open Start > My Computer and browse to C:Program FilesLexis NexisTime Matters 11
Right click the file “TMWE.exe” and choose “Send to > Desktop (Create Shortcut). Right click the new desktop shortcut and rename to “Time Matters 11”. Right click again and choose “Pin to Start Menu”.
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Using Your iPad as an Extended Monitor

air-display-logo

Looking to use your iPad as a dual monitor / extended laptop screen? There are currently three apps that claim to do the following &  I put each through its paces and make a recommendation.

  • Use your iPad as a second monitor / dual display
  • Supports both landscape and portrait mode
  • Allows you to set your screen resolution
  • Works on either Macs or PCs

Each of these apps basically work in the same way. All three claim to extend your display when both your laptop and iPad are on the same WiFi network.  However, the difference between these apps becomes apparent  in execution.
Air Display vs iDisplay vs MaxiVista  using  Win7 64bit SP1 and first gen iPad w/ IOS 4.2.1
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IE9 is the Current Most Secure Web Browser Against Socially Engineered Malware

ie9
IE9 is only available for Windows 7 (and Vista if you have to use that).  Don’t worry though XP users, IE8 is right behind at number 2 in the new malware study performed by NSS Labs.
NSS Labs Web Browser Group Test Socially-Engineered Malware 2011
IE9 also boasts some impressive browser speed improvements. With hardware accelerated video and graphics, IE9 is FAST.
See 9 reasons to get Internet Explorer and Download IE9
Also, make sure you read on how to use an add blocking add-on such as Simple-Adblock with Internet Explorer.  Now if only IE9 could sync bookmarks easily. Continue reading “IE9 is the Current Most Secure Web Browser Against Socially Engineered Malware”

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How to Set Message Size Limits in Exchange 2007 and Exchange 2003

The default email attachment size limit in Exchange 2007 and Exchange 2003 is 10 MB.  Here is how to change that setting for both systems.
First, Exchange 2007.  Use the Exchange Management Shell to enter the following commands:
exchange_2007_logo
Get-TransportConfig | ft MaxSendSize, MaxRecieveSize

  • Output will show current transport send receive attachment size limits.  This is the most restrictive setting and overrides all other less restrictive size limits set elsewhere (i.e. individual mailboxes / receive-connector)

Set-TransportConfig -MaxSendSize 100MB -MaxReceiveSize 100MB

  • Note: commands are not case sensitive and are capitalized for readability. This will set send and receive size limit to 100MB per email.

Get-ReceiveConnector | ft Name, MaxMessageSize

  • Make note of “Windows SBS Internet Receive SERVERNAME” and “Default SERVERNAME” for set-receiveconnector command

Set-ReceiveConnector “Windows SBS Internet Receive SERVERNAME” -MaxMessageSize 100MB
Set-ReceiveConnector “Default SERVERNAME” -MaxMessageSize 100MB

  • Note: If the TransportConfig size is more restrictive, it will override this setting.  Also, “Windows SBS Internet Receive SERVERNAME” may be case sensitive as it is in quotes.

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Configure Win7 Corporate VPN to Secure Public WiFi Browsing

The following are instructions on setting up a VPN connection to a corporate office specific to Windows 7.  In addition, the end of the article includes usage information on securing your web browsing when using public WiFi hotspots.  Using a VPN can encrypt passwords, web browsing, email, banking, etc, when connected and checked “use default gateway on remote network”.  This added security comes at the expense of increased network overhead and possibly slower browsing / download speeds.  The following instructions can be used by any of my offices running Windows server with modification to the line Internet Address: mail.YOURCOMPANYNAME.com.  If you do not know this information, contact me. If you do not have access to a corporate VPN, you can use any number of for pay services (and some free). Check out LifeHacker’s Top 5 VPN Services or just skip to the voter favorite WiTopia.
Click – StartControl PanelNetwork and InternetNetwork and Sharing Center –
networksharingcenter1
choose “Set up a new Connection or network”
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