Email attachments …… again

Over the years I have told my customers repeatedly that they should NEVER open attachments received with emails no matter who they are from unless they verify that the person actually did send that email with the attachment. It’s just too dangerous for the average user.

Well, last week one of my customers opened an email attachment and installed the Cryptolocker 3 malware on her computer. This program runs in the background and searches your entire hard drive for data files and backups of those data files. Once it has concluded it’s search it then encrypts these files and asks for a $700 ransom to unencrypt them.

At this time there is no known way to unencrypt these files without paying the ransom. Basically she lost everything of value from her computer with no way to get it back except by paying $700 by simply clicking on an attachment in an email that seemed perfectly innocent to her.

That being said, when I was trying to help her out I discovered her anti-virus had been uninstalled. She has no idea how that happened. It may have been some other malware that disabled or uninstalled her anti-virus. No way to know at this point. If it had been there it may have protected her. I use Bitdefender Free for my customers and Bitdefender claims to be able to block the Cryptolocer 3 malware. This is the anti-virus that was on her computer the last time I worked on it.

The lesson here is that you need to periodically check to see if your anti-virus is there AND working properly.

And finally, NEVER OPEN ATTACHMENTS THAT COME WITH EMAILS NO MATTER WHO IT IS FROM unless you verify with the person that they did in fact send you that email with that attachment!!!

Upgrade to Windows 10

Back in October I recommended that you not upgrade to Windows 10. There were too many problems at the time. In November Microsoft put out a patch to Windows 10 to bring the version number to 10586. This version of Windows 10 seems to be very stable and worth upgrading to. I now recommend you upgrade to Windows 10 before July 29 at which time the upgrade stops being free.

There are visual differences between Windows 7 and earlier versions of Windows and Windows 10 but it’s not so bad you won’t be able to use it. There are also tweaks you can make to Windows 10 that make it more user friendly.

Downloading from the Internet

Well, it’s been over a year since I last posted. I suppose it’s time to say something.

Malware. It’s all over the place. If you have installed any program that you downloaded from the Internet you are probably infected no matter how legitimate the program was. How-to Geek did a test. I post a brief summary of the results here:
How-To Geek has tested and described something that you probably shouldn’t do on your own computer — unless, as they did, you do it on a virtual machine just for this purpose. Namely, they downloaded 10 of the most popular software titles from, clicking through as a naive user might, accepting the defaults or the most obvious Next buttons, as most users surely do.

They note that’s stated policies certainly look good on-screen; it says that the site comprehensively screens for, and disallows, malware of all kinds. But malware of various kinds, even if much of it is in a grey zone rather than actually malicious, is a fair description of what the authors encountered as they clicked through.

Bundled software, some pieces of it at odds with others, was attached to each of the downloads, and from download to installation the process by design foisted more and more junk on their system, even if some of the bundled junk could have been avoided by a user jaded by previous hijackings.

The conclusion: No matter how technical you might be, most of the installers are so confusing that there’s no way a non-geek could figure out how to avoid the awful. So if you recommend a piece of software to somebody, you are basically asking them to infect their computer. And it doesn’t matter which antivirus you have installed — we’ve actually done this experiment a number of times with different antivirus vendors, and most of them completely ignored all of the bundled crapware. Avast did a pretty good job this time compared to some of the other vendors, but it didn’t block all of it for sure. There are also no safe freeware download sites because as you can clearly see in the screenshots in this article, it isn’t just CNET Downloads that is doing the bundling it’s EVERYBODY. The freeware authors are bundling crapware, and then lousy download sources are bundling even more on top of it. It’s a cavalcade of crapware.

It has gotten to the point where you can’t safely download ANYTHING off the Internet unless you are a professional computer expert.

Email Scam

These email scams seem to come in clumps. Received an email today from a hotmail account purporting to be sending me invoices for my end of August statement. It has an attachment that is an HTML file that will undoubtedly infect you with something if you open it. The body message is in poor English as well which is always a dead give away.