More and more people get the phone call scam

By | April 15, 2010
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In the Computers newsletter this month:

  • More and more people get the phone call scam
  • What’s going on with Defender?
  • How a small American University saved $10,000 on printer ink
  • Windows updates – especially important this week


I have to admit I haven’t been at the computer much over the last week or so – every chance I’ve got I’ve been making the most of the sunny weather!  Hope it was good where you were too!

But I’ve got a few tips that it’s well worth knowing about, so let’s dive straight in!

A quick reminder – phone scam

I mentioned a scam last week, where you get a phone call from someone saying they’re from Microsoft.  Since then dozens of people have been telling me they’ve had the phone call so if you haven’t had it, there’s a fair chance you will.  It might be worth re-reading the article from last time to make sure you know what’s going on and won’t fall for it – you can read it here.

What’s going on with Defender?

You might have noticed something funny about Windows Defender – it might have disappeared from the icons in the bottom right hand corner of the screen.  Or you might have a message appear saying it’s turned off – which could make you worry your PC is not properly protected.

Luckily, it’s almost certainly not anything going wrong.  Here’s what’s happened:

A while ago, you needed three things to keep your PC safe.  First, you needed an anti-virus program, which made sure viruses couldn’t get at it.  AVG, Avast, Norton and McAfee are probably the most popular.  Then you needed an anti-spyware program, to make sure spyware couldn’t get at the PC.  For most people, that was Defender, since it’s free and made by Microsoft.  And finally you needed a firewall so a hacker couldn’t access your PC over the internet and start controlling it.  That one was easy, since as long as you have Windows XP with Service Pack 2 (or 3) or Windows Vista or Windows 7, it comes with Windows anyway.

The bit that was slightly confusing was the difference between viruses and spyware.  Something is a virus if it’s spread in a certain way – and it’s spyware if it does a certain kind of nasty thing.  So a program could be a virus if it’s spread in the right way, spyware if it does the right kind of nasty thing, or both if it’s spread in the right way and does the right kind of nasty thing.  Since you want protecting against spyware and viruses, it makes sense to have one program that protects against both.

And that’s what’s happened.  Now nearly all anti-virus programs also protect against spyware as well – so one program does both.

But it’s not a good idea to have two programs looking for spyware for you.  They can trip each other up.  So if your anti-virus program now protects against spyware as well, you don’t want Defender running.  And the anti-virus programs are now clever enough to look for it, and turn it off.  It still leaves you properly protected but Defender won’t be running because AVG, Norton or whatever you have has taken over what Defender used to do.

You won’t see much difference in how the PC performs (though it might be a tiny bit faster as you only have one program running instead of two).

So if Defender has just disappeared, that’s probably what’s happened – you can double check by starting your anti-virus program and checking it says that you’re protected against spyware as well.

If Defender keeps popping up to say it’s turned off and you’ve checked you’re protected by your anti-virus program, you can start Defender and look under Tools and then  Options to turn it off – click to un-tick the box marked “Use Windows Defender”. That should stop it complaining!

A simple way to save 10% on your ink

An American university has come up with a way to save 10% on their printer ink.  They’ve changed the standard font (or typeface) for printing emails and so on.  The font they’ve changed it to, Century Gothic, uses much less ink, so that even taking into account diagrams and printing things that are already in a set font, they should use 10% less ink.  Since they spent $100,000 on ink over a year, that’s a hefty saving!

It might not save you $10,000 per year, but it could be worth doing!

(Here’s more detail about what they’re doing.)

Keep your PC secure and up to date this week

This week, (on Tuesday) some really important updates came out for Windows from Microsoft.  They were fixing some security gaps that hackers could have used to attack your PC.  If you have windows updates set to automatically happen, then you should already have them by the time you read this but if you haven’t (or if you just want to double check) go to the Microsoft Windows update webpage and you can download them from there.

Well, that’s all for this time – you’ll hear from me again at the start of May!


Tim Wakeling

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