Archive for Alerts

World Wide Web’s Twentieth Anniversary

On April 30, 1993, the World Wide Web was born. Today we just call it “the Web”; while other mistakenly call it “the Internet”. The Internet is just the basic tools or platform for delivering the web’s content. (An earlier post stated August 1991 as the birthday, but that version wasn’t publicly accessible. On April 1993, the page was made public.)

And on April 20, 1993, the very first web page was published. Here’s a screenshot:

CERN's first webpage. April 30, 1993.

To mark the anniversary, CERN has republished that page. Though launched in 1993, it was “built” in 1992. Dan Noyes, CERN’s communications group web manager, says this version is the oldest version they can find, but they are looking for an older version.

Back in 1993, the scientists at CERN took out an advertisement in the German Research Network to make the announcement. The researchers invited people to visit the website and test out features like viewing documents, which can be accessed by following links.

“This will give you the very basic line-mode interface. Don’t be disappointed,” the advertisement read.

Mr. Noyes says the line “don’t be disappointed” is crucial because the team knew they had a revolutionary product that looked “rather ordinary.”

By relaunching the first webpage, CERN’s staff hopes to “revive the original spirit in creating the Web”; that is “to give universal access to enthusiasts, in hopes of creating a fair and equal space in the world.”

Few today know, or remember that the first web browsers allowed you to make edits to a page — directly to websites. This is similar to how Wikipedia and some other sites work today.

Visit the first website at: www.info.cern.ch.

You may also be interested reading an earlier post.

Steps to help prevent infection on your computer

Here are some tips for PC and Mac users alike — and smartphone users, too. Though there are “few” Mac viruses in the wild, there are plenty of unscrupulous programmers and con-men spreading free fraudulent software and malware.

Take the following steps to help prevent infection on your computer:
  • Enable a firewall on your computer.
  • Get the latest computer updates for all your installed software.
  • Use up-to-date antivirus software.
  • Limit user privileges on the computer.
  • Use caution when opening attachments and accepting file transfers.
  • Use caution when clicking on links to webpages.
  • Avoid downloading pirated software.
  • Protect yourself against social engineering attacks.
  • Use strong passwords.
Let me elaborate on a few points:
Get the latest computer updates

Updates help protect your computer from viruses, worms, and other threats as they are discovered. It is important to install updates for all the software that is installed in your computer. These are usually available from the providing company’s website. The following are programs I recommend updating straight from the source:

  • Adobe (www.adobe.com):
    • Flash
    • Acrobat Reader
    • Air
    • Shockwave
  • Java (www.java.com): Check this one monthly.
Use up-to-date antivirus software

Most antivirus software can detect and prevent infection by known malicious software. To help protect you from infection, you should always run antivirus software. If you have a “subscription” for update service, make sure you renew annually. Antivirus, contrary to popular belief, is not free-for-life.

Use caution when opening attachments and accepting file transfers

Exercise caution with email and attachments received from unknown sources, or received unexpectedly from known sources. Use extreme caution when accepting file transfers from known or unknown sources. When in doubt, reply to the sender, assuming it is someone you know, and confirm that they meant to send you the attachment. It’s possible their computer is infected and sent you the file without their knowledge. I’ve seen this happen several timers in the course of a year.

Use caution when clicking on links to webpages

As above: Exercise caution with links to webpages that you receive from unknown sources, especially if the links are to a webpage that you are not familiar with, unsure of the destination of, or suspicious of. Malicious software may be installed in your computer simply by visiting a webpage with harmful content.

Avoid downloading pirated software

Threats may also be bundled with software and files that are available for download on various torrent sites. Downloading “cracked” or “pirated” software from these sites carries not only the risk of being infected with malware, but is also illegal. For more information, see ‘The risks of obtaining and using pirated software‘.

Protect yourself from social engineering attacks

While attackers may attempt to exploit vulnerabilities in hardware or software to compromise a computer, they also attempt to exploit vulnerabilities in human behavior to do the same. When an attacker attempts to take advantage of human behavior to persuade the affected user to perform an action of the attacker’s choice, it is known as ‘social engineering’. Essentially, social engineering is an attack against the human interface of the targeted computer. For more information, see ‘What is social engineering?‘.

Use strong passwords

Attackers may try to gain access to your Windows account by guessing your password. It is therefore important that you use a strong password – one that cannot be easily guessed by an attacker. A strong password is one that has at least eight characters, and combines letters, numbers, and symbols. For more information, see http://www.microsoft.com/protect/yourself/password/create.mspx.

Facebook May Give Access to children Under the Age of 13

It has been the policy of Facebook that all members be at least 14 years old. Yet many parents are setting up accounts for the underage kids, and lying about their children’s age just to get them online.

Facebook says it shuts down every underage account it finds and has tried to beef up its age verification systems, it privately concedes that there are millions of underage kids on Facebook.

The Menlo Park, Calif., company currently bans anyone under age 13 from joining, but still an estimated 7.5 million preteens — many under age 10 — are already using the service with their parents’ approval.

The highly charged debate over privacy and safety in the Internet age picked up steam this week as word leaked that Facebook was considering allowing kids younger than 13 to use the service with parental supervision. Either by connecting kids’ accounts to their parents’ accounts thereby giving Mom and Dad control over what their children can do on the site, such as who they can “friend” and what apps they can use.

Lowering the age limit would help the company tap younger users, who advertisers are eager to reach. Kids are also avid users of games — a big moneymaker for Facebook. About 12% of Facebook’s $3.7 billion in 2011 revenue came from its share of Zynga games such as”FarmVille” played on Facebook

It could expose Facebook to the scrutiny of regulators and the ire of parents. Some fear that kids under age 13 are not ready for social networking, where older children have fallen prey to predators or bullies.

Yet a recent Microsoft Research study from last year found 36% of parents knew their children joined Facebook before they turned 13, and that many of them helped their kids sign up.

Facebook already has limited what minors can do on the site. For example, they can’t share content with “everyone,” a setting that allows anyone on the Internet to peruse someone’s posts and photos.

Facebook is having a tough time policing its site. Age limits are too easy to circumvent, and Facebook spokespeople say they shut down every underage account they find, but still there are millions of underage kids on Facebook. And that puts Facebook at odds with a federal law that requires it to get parental consent before collecting personal data on kids.

If Facebook opens up to kids under 13, it will have to put into place safeguards, such as giving parents a way to control what data is mined from their children when they click the “like” button or play a game, said Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. “There need to be strict limits on how much information can be collected and analyzed,” Chester said. “Because Facebook collects data from users and their networks, the privacy of a child’s friends must also be protected.”

The FTC is currently reviewing the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998, which regulates what personal information websites can mine from kids. Facebook spent some of its $650,000 in first-quarter lobbying money on the law.

Parents aren’t the only ones worried that kids would be vulnerable. Lawmakers also expressed concern Monday.

“We acknowledge that more and more children under the age of 13 are using Facebook, and this is a problem that needs to be addressed,” Reps. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Joe L. Barton (R-Texas) wrote in a letter to Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg on Monday.

Happy Belated 20th Birthday World Wide Web!

Tim Berners-Lee
Tim Berners-Lee

Tim Berners-Lee

Update (Apr. 30, 2013): The first webpage went public in 1993.

WWW! I’m sorry I missed your birthday this past Saturday, August 6. Hard to believe that you were born 20 years ago, in 1991, on a tiny NExT computer at the CERN facility in the Swiss Alps. And your closest friend, 36 year old physicist Tim Berners-Lee, was there at the keyboard.

1991. Of course, Tim and his colleagues were the only people who had access to you then, but they fully intended to get as many people onboard spreading information.

Tim Berners-Lees computer at CERN

WWW’s first home 1991

1993. About 6 months before your second birthday, WWW, the Mosaic browser came along and you started to run. By the time you were 2 years old, in 1993, you were becoming pretty well known on the university circuit. By the end of the year there were about 700 websites.

1994. I think that’s when you and I first met, WWW, back around 1994 when I was a returning college student at Queens College. In less than 2 years I was adding web sites to you for Queens College’s Division of Social Sciences. I even had my own site and domain staked out. By the end of 1994 there were over 10,000 websites; and your friend, Mosaic, changed their name to Netscape Navigator. What ever became of Netscape? Is it true he runs with Mozilla Firefox today?

Yes, yes, WWW, we’ve had some good times together. Looking forward to many more.

–What’s that, WWW? Yes, I know, a LOT of people think you’re the Internet. Isn’t that funny?!  I mean, come on now, the Internet is 42 years old! You’re only 20, it’s obvious! You look fantastic.

–What?

Okay, WWW, you didn’t have to mention that I’m older than the Internet. Now, where’s that close button?

End of Windows XP Support

No More Microsoft Windows XP

No More Microsoft Windows XPIn less than 1,000 days, on April 8, 2014, Microsoft will stop issuing security patches, updates, and hotfixes for all versions of Windows XP.

You may, or may not, be aware that Microsoft issues FREE updates to Windows and other Microsoft software products every Tuesday evening. Most computers will automatically retrieve them when the computer is connected to the Internet. (Although, some people, who don’t know about the service, choose not to install them. Is that you?)

On April 8, 2014, PCs running Windows XP will no longer find updates and fixes to download, so those computers will remain at risk to any new security threats that arise. Furthermore, many other companies (known as “third party” providers) will no offer service or support for their hardware or software applications on systems using Windows XP.

What about businesses using Windows XP? Business owners and managers may find this may generate more complexity, security risks, and ultimately, added management costs for IT departments.

Industry analysts say that it can take from 12 to 18 months for an organization to migrate, and a recent Gartner report stated that “more than 50% of organizations that do not start deploying Windows 7 by early 2012 will not complete their deployments before Windows XP support ends.” (Read “Creating a Timeline for Deploying Windows 7 and Eliminating Windows XP“)

Several other versions of Windows have had their service runs ended within the last year.

Previous End of Support Schedules for Other Windows Operating Systems

  • Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) support ended on July 12, 2011. SP2 is still being supported.
  • Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2*) support ended on July 13, 2010. SP3 is the most recent and last service pack issued for XP systems.
  • Windows 2000 support ended on July 13, 2010.
  • Windows Vista Release to Manufacturing (RTM) support ended April 13, 2010.

Ready to Deploy Windows 7? Whether your a home user or a business user, I encourage you to consider making the move to Windows 7. If you feel your computer is still going strong on XP you may find it runs even better on Windows 7. Otherwise, if your budget allows, you may find it’s more cost effective to buy a new system.

Windows Easy Transfer

Windows Easy Transfer

What about the files on my old system? Moving fromWindows 7 from Windows XP is easier than ever. Windows 7 comes with powerful tools to assist and guide you every step of the way. If you decide to get a new system, you can use Window Easy Transfer to move your files from one system to another using a network or USB flash drive.

Some of the world’s most prominent companies have made the move to Windows 7 like Boeing, InfoSys, Dell, Samsung, and BMW and getting benefit from the cost-savings, security, and productivity gains Windows 7 delivers.

On the homefront. I have helped several people upgrade their Windows XP computers to Windows 7, and they say their computer is faster than it was with Windows XP. I have been very impressed with Windows 7’s performance. It’s easy to install, and works great with every device I’ve connected to my computer — specially with devices that weren’t supported by Windows Vista (hiss).

Need help? If you have any questions you can send them to me at skylarkingblog @ gmail.com or with the contact page on this site. Or consult with your local computer service professional.

Windows 7 from The Microsoft Store. You can purchase Windows 7 on DVD from The Microsoft Store. If you have more than one computer in your home, or your family, then I recommend the orange package below. It will allow you to upgrade 3 computers for one low price. It’s my favorite package. Click the image below for more information.

Also, if you get the Home Premium version or the Professional version, you can always upgrade to a higher level for a reasonable price using the Windows Anytime Upgrade feature on your Windows 7 installation. I have used it to upgrade one Home Premium computer to a Professional system.

Google’s Malware Alert


Many news media outlets have been making it sound like Google was accidentally spreading malware. Even the Wall Street Journal said “One Million Google Users Hit with Malware”.

Actually, Google was just notifying people that it had detected malware on their computer. Google’s system wasn’t actually searching your system — which would be an invasion of privacy — but it was detecting a specific malware program that is known to redirect traffic to Google’s systems.

In other words, Google was detecting software, other than the users browser, which was communicating with Google’s servers.

I have yet to learn what the purpose of this malware was, but I have some thoughts on it. It may have been trying to burden Google’s servers with additional traffic. Or it may have been targeting Google’s ad network.

I suspect if they were targeting the ad network they might be trying to make fraudulent clicks on the pay-per-click Adsense and Adwords network. If you’ve seen “Ads from Google” on a web site, such as the ones you see on this blog, then you should know that Google pays the site owner every time someone clicks on an ad. This is usually just a few cents, but they can add up. The fraudulent clicks take money from the advertiser and Google.

Any software that can compromise Google’s Ad network would affect Google’s reliability and reputation. Since ads are Google’s big earner they can’t allow that to happen.

So while the Wall Street Journal reporters in the video above think Google could be come a first line of defense against malware, Google was just watching out for themselves and their advertisers.

SONY VAIO Dual Core Notebook! Save $100!

Sony VAIO VPCEE31FX/BJ Notebook PC

The Sony VAIO VPCEE31FX/BJ Notebook PC is available for $499! That’s a $100 off its regular price at $600. Use coupon code QBM17377 at checkout to get this offer. Offer ends midnight Jan. 17, 2011.

This Sony VAIO Notebook is a fantastic package! I’m not usually that excited about Sony notebooks, but this is a great price for these features. First, it has a sizeable 15.5” widescreen, PLUS an integrated “full” numeric keypad — which is a rarity on laptops and notebooks, but common to a desktop keyboard. Add to that it’s fast AMD® Athlon™II Dual Core P340 processor (CPU), 3GB (gigabytes) of DDR3 RAM (memory) — more than some desktop computers — and amazing picture quality with ATI Mobility Radeon™ HD 4250 Graphics — suitable for many high-end games.

Sony VAIO VPCEE31FX/BJ Notebook PC

Sony VAIO VPCEE31FX/BJ Notebook PCThe Sony VAIO VPCEE31FX/BJ Notebook PC comes pre-installed with:

  • Genuine Microsoft® Windows® 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • AMD® Athlon™ II Dual Core P340 processor (2.20GHz)
  • 3GB of pre-installed DDR3 system RAM (memory)
  • A large 320 GB hard drive (storage) for your documents, movies, photos, and music files
  • AMD® Vision ATI Mobility Radeon™ HD4250 graphics card
  • 15.5″ (1366×768) widescreen LED backlit display uses power-efficient LCD technology and delivers dazzling colors and picture clarity
  • Wired and the fastest Wireless-N Internet
  • Dual Layer DVD Burner (DVD RW)
  • Media card reader for your digital cameras and smartphones
  • Built in Sony Motion Eye webcam
  • A trial version of Microsoft Office 2010 is included
  • HDMI connector for attaching to a HD TV

Amber Alert, now on Facebook

Amber Alert

Amber Alert, the missing children notification service, has joined Facebook.

It’s nice to see that Facebook is becoming truly useful on the community level.

Yesterday, Facebook announced it is teaming up with local authorities nationwide to help find missing children. People can now find Amber Alerts on the popular social networking site. Now, with only a click of the mouse, or via an update on your phone, you can help find a missing child.

Amber Alert

Amber Alert

Facebook users in all 50 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands can now sign up to receive the alerts. You can pick which states will send you alerts.

The Statistics. It’s reported that more than 2,000 children are reported missing every day in the United States. That’s an alarming number. Currently, many states have only been using electronic billboards, highway signs, radio, and TV to issue Amber Alerts. The addition of Facebook and SMS text alerts to your cellphone will be a tremendous help in helping reunite missing children with their families and caregivers. Hopefully, this will help more children faster than before.

False Alerts? This will be most helpful after a rash of false Amber Alerts were spread via Facebook in 2010. Every month from April through September of 2010, at least one false Amber Alert was circulated on Facebook.

The Real Amber Alerts. To get Amber Alerts from Facebook visit http://www.facebook.com/AMBERalert. For more about Amber Alerts visit http://www.amberalert.com.

Updated Posts: AntiVirus for Mac; Sneak Peek Sale

Back in Dec. 2008 I wrote a post titled Apple Encourages AntiVirus Use for Macs?! I updated the article today to include links to the latest AntiVirus and AntiSpyware applications for the Mac. If you still believe that Macs are invulnerable to viruses and spyware, then you may be interested in knowing that Apple has added anti-malware features to their latest Mac Snow Leopard operating system. See Dan Moren’s report at PCWorld on the Hidden Malware Features of Snow Leopard. I mentioned some risks to Mac users in recent weeks.

I also updated the links in my Jan. 2009 post about sale items on Buy.com. I’ve crossed out the items that are not available. I’ve updated the links and proces on the items that are available. It’s a useful link because many of the items have become very affordable.

Avoid Trickery on Facebook and Twitter (pt. 1)

The popularity of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter has created a malicious hacker wonderland. A fantastic place for them to exploit the users of those sites. Their goals? To infect computers with malware, trojans, and viruses. There are a variety of exploitative programs out there. Some obtain personal information, sometimes voluntarily, sometimes through nefarious means, while others transform a computer into remote-controlled “zombie” machine.

Why do people fall prey to these schemes? Because they lack (1) anti-virus and (2) malware protection programs on their computers; amd they lack the skills necessary to spot and avoid the potential risks. Free service and the ease and seeming anonymity of point-and-click make increase the chances they will lower their guard.

Malicious Hackers Top Tricks

Hijacking Twitter’s Trending Topics. This technique has become popular in the last three months. Basically, hackers create new Twitter accounts and then post messages related to whatever the trending or “hot” topic of the day may be.  As a result, the post gets included in Twitter search results. The hackers message includes a link or web address that they hope unsuspecting users will click and explore. The link, unfortunately, leads the user to an infected website.

Hijacking Legitimate Accounts. This works on Facebook, Twitter, and any communications website such as Yahoo! mail, Hotmail, and Gmail, to name a few. Here the hacker breaks into legitimate accounts. Once in, they start sending out messages on that account. The messages, as above, include links to malicious and/or fraudulent websites. Since the tweets, posts, or emails come from a legitimate and trusted account the established base of friends and followers is more likely to respond. On Twitter, this makes it more likely that others will spread the seemingly legitimate message from a known and trusted source. This increases the range or “reach” of the threat.

ReputationDefender.comDangerous Email. Another method of encouraging social networking users to click malicious links is the timeworn technique of sending “spoofed” email. In this instance, the hackers create messages that appear to come from a social networking site like Facebook or Twitter, and even MySpace. The messages asks that you to “update your account” or open an attachment.

Tomorrow: 8 Safety Tips for Social Networking