How Computer Viruses Travel by Email

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Most people are trusting types, and they also don’t expect to be tricked by others…and those two reasons are precisely why a lot of people actually do get tricked into spreading computer viruses.

One way computer viruses find their way onto computers is through emails or, specifically, attachments that are sent with an email.

A virus lurking in an email is like what you’ve see in old crime shows on TV, where someone receives a package in the mail and inside there’s a bomb. Of course, the recipient doesn’t know it—it’s exciting getting a package in the mail—so they open it up. Kaboom.

A virus-loaded email is something like that. It will look like every other email you get, but inside there’s danger in the form of a hidden computer program that will hurt your computer and/or steal data from you and others.

How viruses travel by email.

Here’s an explanation of how a virus can end up spreading through your email, with your unwitting cooperation:

  1. You receive what seems to be an innocent-looking email from someone you know well (or at least know by name). The email will include an attachment that seems to go with the message of the email—if the message says something about a picture or video you have to see, the picture will have a name that seems to fit. If you open it up, you’re on your way to trouble.
  2. If there’s a virus hidden in that email, it’s usually one of a few types:
    • An attachment virus is a program attached to an email message, with a name that sounds intriguing. It pretends to be a photo or movie that you can watch right away. This is the most common type of virus.
    • An HTML virus is called “active content code” and is a small program written in a software language such as JavaScript or ActiveX. The HTML virus goes to work when you open the message to read it. In fact, the virus can be launched even if you simply open the message preview window.
    • A Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension virus (called a MIME virus) takes advantage of a security gap in browsers or email programs. It’s somewhat complicated—let’s just say the bad guy overloads what’s called the email “header” with information. The overflow information, instead of being discarded, goes into the memory to run programs. The virus program then gets run instead, unnoticed.

How the virus starts to spread.

Viruses come in different types and they can do different types of harm, but one thing they all have in common is that that reproduce or propagate.

A virus can go through your online address books, scan your old email files for names, or even look at your documents or spreadsheets to find names and email addresses to attack.

With those names in hand, the virus uses the captured email addresses to send copies of itself to your friends, colleagues and family—typically by using the same tricky email it used to fool you!

The email the virus sends looks as if it came from you…and may have some of the documents attached it stole from you. The email your friend receives might not even have YOUR name in the emails “From” section—it may have the name the virus took from your address book.

If your friends open the false email from “you,” they’ve fallen victim and have helped the virus do its work. Thousands of people could be affected at one time.

Payload delivered. Damage done.

Once the virus has taken root, what happens next depends on the kind of virus that was spread. It might result in a threatening message, erased hard drives, frozen computers or corrupt files. None of it is good.

The damage delivered is known as the virus’s payload, and it can hit right away, after a specific allotted time after delivery, or the virus may go off on all infected computers on a predetermined day and time.

So the next time you get an email with an attachment from a friend—and it seems perhaps just a little unusual—think twice before opening it.

By not opening it, you could be doing yourself and hundreds of others a huge favor.

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5 Tips for Cleaning Your TV or Laptop Screen Safely

Cleburne PC Repair

How to clean your laptop screen.

A couple of months ago, I decided that my TV screen, a 55″ Vizio E-Series flat screen, needed some maintenance. I play a lot of video games, and it was slightly unsettling to chase players down in Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 with these great swaths of dust littering my field of vision. Seriously, it was like watching a battle take place inside an Australian dust storm. When I had finally had enough (after watching my KDR drop to about .65 because I thought I was shooting enemy combatants, when I was really just nailing dust bunnies), I took it upon myself to grab a can of pledge and a paper towel and wipe my bad gameplay away.

Big mistake.

Now, I’m left with what appears to be permanent streaks across my television, giving the appearance that there are giant gray clouds in every scene. This doesn’t only affect my game play, it also gives my movie and television-based web surfing a dull sheen that wasn’t there before. I paid a lot for that TV—and my laziness in researching a proper way to clean it has resulted in a significant sadness in my day. Is there a dumb emoji? Something like a smiling yellow face with a giant question mark where its brain would be? Please make me a t-shirt of that and send it to me.

So I went from my TV to my laptop, since now I had a CoD: BO3 jones that wasn’t going away, and since I can play Xbox One games on my laptop via Windows 10, I was ready to go. And that was about the same time that I realized that my gaming laptop has been sitting unused for about three weeks, and the dust that accumulated there looked like what Howard Carter must have seen when opening Tutankhamen’s tomb in ’23. As Carlos Santana once said, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Or George Santayana. Either or…

So I went to the one source who knows cleaning better than anyone else. And she promptly told me to stop playing so many games and grow up a little. Not a lot of help. I then went to the experts at B&H Photo’s SuperStore, who were a little more helpful and a lot less judgmental, and here’s what they told me:
1. Try dry-wiping first

Don’t use paper towels; also, avoid tissue paper, toilet paper (ewww) or old rags. These can scratch a screen or leave grooves in the material (maybe not enough for you to notice right away, but combined with the wrong cleaning material, it can create the aforementioned and dreaded gray swath). Try to use cloth made from the softest material possible (like micro fiber cloths). Also, cool that we just found out about it, these new detachable lens cloths by Tether Tools. You stick it on to a camera or laptop, then just peel it off and use the whole piece as the cleaning cloth. Neat. And you never have to look for those cleaning cloths again—you know the ones that you throw away when you greedily open your new electronic purchases? Yeah, those.

2. Don’t press too hard

If you don’t see the dirt lift right off, don’t think applying more pressure is going to wipe the slate clean. On LCD monitors, big screen TVs and laptops, putting more might into your cleaning efforts may result in irreparable damage—most likely by destroying the pixels in the screen.

3. Don’t use chemical cleaners

If you do decide to use a solution to clean the screen, here’s a list of things not to use: ammonia (like Windex, although Windex does make a cleaning solution specifically for LCD screens), ethyl alcohol, or anything with acetone or ethyl acetate—as a matter of fact, your best bet is a little distilled water and white vinegar mixed in equal amounts. The chemicals listed can adversely affect the coating used on LCD screens and flat-screen TVs.

4. Don’t spray directly on the screen

This one was tough to learn, and I learned the hard way. Cleaning solutions, even water, will run down the screen and into the bezels, giving them access to the inside of the monitor or TV. If you’re quick, you could catch it before it does further damage, but it’s a good practice to simply wet the cloth you are using and wipe the screen down instead of directly applying solvent or liquid. This is especially true (and dangerous) with laptop screens.

5. Always unplug the TV first

There are two reasons for this: the first is that unplugged, you’ll be able to see more of the dust and dirt against the black background of the screen, and two, if you do use a liquid to clean, you want to reduce the chance of electrical shock.

And there you have it—five quick tips that could save you thousands of dollars. You put a lot of money into your TV; don’t be the dumb emoji and just spray it with chemicals, like me. Once you’ve got a clearer view of your world (and your screen), your wallet (not to mention your eyes) will thank you.

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Seven easy ways to speed up a slow laptop

Dealing with a slow laptop is frustrating but there’s no need to upgrade to a new model. Follow these simple tips to clean up your laptop and give it a major speed boost. – See more at:

As your laptop ages, it can get clogged with unwanted programs and files, reducing its performance to a crawl.

Rather than splash out for a brand new laptop, our easy tips will speed up your laptop and give it a new lease of life.
1. Check for viruses

Serious laptop slow-downs can be caused by virus infection or malware.

Make sure real-time protection is switched on in Windows’ built-in anti-virus program Windows Defender.

Run a full scan of your laptop to detect and remove any malware.
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2. Delete unused programs

Over time, your laptop may get bogged down by programs you no longer use.

Removing unwanted software will help speed up your laptop. Click ‘Start’ > ‘Control Panel’ > ‘Uninstall a program’.

From the list of programs that appears, click the program you want to remove and then click ‘Uninstall’.

Windows 10 users can uninstall programs from the Start menu by right-clicking the program listed under ‘All apps’ and selecting ‘Uninstall’.

Guide to using Windows 10.
3. Remove temporary files

Temporary files created through everyday computing tasks can clog up your laptop’s hard drive.

Use Windows’ built-in Disk Cleanup tool to delete these, freeing up hard disk space and speeding up your laptop.

Click in the Taskbar search box, type disk cleanup and select it from the results. Select the type of files you want to delete and then click ‘OK’ and then click ‘Delete files’.

To free up even more space, click ‘Clean up system files’ too.

Three free anti-virus software.
4. Add more hard drive storage

Your laptop’s hard drive needs enough free space to work effectively. Once it’s more than 85% full, it will start to perform slowly.

A quick and easy solution is to move some of your files onto an external hard drive. Large files, such as photos, music and video clips, are good files to offload.

5. Stop programs starting automatically

If your laptop takes ages to start up, there may be too many programs trying to launch when you switch it on.

You can stop programs that you don’t need from loading automatically in Windows 10 by right-clicking the Taskbar and selecting ‘Task Manager’. Click ‘More details’ and then select the ‘Startup’ tab.

Here you’ll see a list of programs that load automatically when your laptop boots up, along with the impact this has. Right-click a program and select ‘Disable’ to stop it loading.

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‘Free’ Windows 10 Reveals Its Expensive Secret

Windows 10 is free.

This is a statement which makes many people uneasy. After all Windows didn’t used to be free and nothing in life is ever really free, right? So when will the real cost of Windows 10 be revealed? Well now we know and it hits both customers and Microsoft in very different ways…

Let’s break them down:

1. Windows 10 Cost to Microsoft: $1.5 Billion

If you ever doubted Microsoft was taking a huge hit to give users Windows 10 for free, doubt no longer. This month the company announced its Q3 results and revealed this carved a massive $1.5 billion hole in its revenues.

2. Windows 10 Cost to Users: Choice

The most obvious point to address is Windows 10 will not always be free.

Microsoft has long stated Windows 7 and Windows 8 users will enjoy a free upgrade window during Windows 10’s first year of release (July 29, 2015 to July 29, 2016). It has been implied that after this date the standard retail costs will apply ($119 for Windows 10 Home, $199 for Windows 10 Pro).

And yet this remains a grey area as Microsoft refuses to explicitly state this is what will happen.

Why? Because it gives Microsoft the option to use the free period to drive upgrades then extend it – possibly forever – ‘at the last minute’. So that’s not the total solution to getting money back. Neither is Windows 10 Enterprise as it has never been free and therefore isn’t part of lost costs.

Instead where Microsoft will recover its lost Windows 10 income is through a much less popular route: Control.

Using default settings (the norm for most mainstream customers) gives Windows 10 an incredible amount of user data (anonymised though invaluable) and absolute control over updates and the installation of new features and services. What’s more, by being ‘free’, Microsoft clearly feels more entitled to use Windows 10 to push users towards its own products.

This was initially subtle. Several Windows 10 updates in August casually switched user preferences (such as default browser) back to Microsoft solutions, then stepped things up by automatically deleting some third party apps and tools in November. Since then the company has become more overt. This week it declared all attempts to use rival search engines in the Windows 10 search bar would be blocked and all results must load in Edge, no matter the user’s default browser.

Microsoft’s logic? Avoiding “a compromised experience that is less reliable and predictable” – but for whom?

Needless to say, such positions have led many to declaring they will never upgrade to Windows 10. But unless they plan on switching to Mac OS X (an even more controlled environment) or a distribution of Linux, that won’t be an option forever.

For the first time in the history of Windows, Microsoft has declared it was making versions of Windows incompatible with new hardware. More specifically Windows 7 and Windows 8 will now not support the latest Intel, AMD and Qualcomm chipsets. Some compromises followed but this has still effectively marooned 60% of the world’s operating systems to ageing hardware.

Not everything is sneaky tricks.

Windows 10 has an increasingly credible app store for revenue and apps work across PCs, tablets and mobile (even if this impressive technical achievement is hit by the failure of Windows Phone/Mobile). Similarly Microsoft can justifiably point to its rivals employing similar tactics. Apple has long exerted extreme control over its platforms and Google trades users’ their anonymised data in exchange for free products and looking at ads.

And these points are fair. Rivals have long employed similar tactics to those Microsoft is being now criticised for in Windows 10. But, then again, that’s also the point: Microsoft was different from the controlling Apple and the data mining Google. Now? Not so much.

And that is where the true cost of ‘free’ Windows 10 really comes in.

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Your Spare Computing Power Could Help Fight Zika

Blockbuster discoveries, as any scientist will tell you, are very much the exception in the world of research. The day-to-day work on the way there is usually painstaking, repetitive, and unremarkable.

To begin to figure out how to fight an emerging virus, for instance, biomedical researchers first must understand the structure of the disease on a microscopic level. They must figure out the mechanisms that make it transmissible, then screen countless chemical compounds to determine how to fight it. Each of these steps requires difficult and meticulous work—the screening process alone can drag on for years. Eventually, if a certain compound appears to disable a key protein that makes a virus dangerous to humans, that compound might unlock a possible cure for the disease. At that point, there’s even more work to do.
“They’re able to do things that are unimaginable to most scientists.”

Before there were computers, all this work was simply done by hand. Scientists would plop a virus in a test tube, sprinkle in some dirt, and see what happened. (You can understand, then, why science and serendipity seem to overlap so much in the annals of discovery.) Now, such processes can be a bit more comprehensive: Computational models—of compounds and of virus proteins—can methodically discern how a virus might react to various mixes of chemicals.

But even with machines, there’s only so much work that a single computer—or a lab full of computers, or even a supercomputer—can do over a certain amount of time. That’s why, for more than a decade, an IBM-run initiative has helped scientists tap into the computing power of millions of machines across the planet as a way to speed up research into deadly diseases and other public health problems. The World Community Grid is an open-source lab that runs on the power of idle computers across the globe. Anyone can sign up to donate their machine’s untapped power.

More than 700,000 volunteers have helped biomedical researchers process complex datasets since the project launched in 2004. How it works: The grid leverages the connectivity of the web by dividing otherwise enormous processing tasks—like checking a library of 100 million chemical compounds to see how each individually reacts to a model of Zika proteins— into manageable chunks that are then delegated to computers across the network. That computational data is then sent back to the grid, cleaned up and checked for errors, and finally delivered back to scientists for evaluation. This is how researchers already identified a possible treatment for neuroblastoma, a childhood cancer. And it’s how today, while your computer is idle, you could help run computations to fight the Zika virus.


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