Some important snippets about keeping your PC safe this time.

By | October 15, 2010
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In the Computers newsletter this time:

  • Fake Security pop-ups
  • Microsoft Security Essentials – this time it’s for real
  • An interesting website that I got distracted by


Some important snippets about keeping your PC safe this time.  But don’t worry, it’s not all boring (but important) security stuff – there’s an interesting website you might want to have a look at as well.


But first, the important security stuff:


Fake security pop-ups

There are quite a few fake security programs out there.  To my mind they’re about the sneakiest way to attack your PC because they pretend to be programs protecting your PC.


For example, I heard the other day from someone:

I have recently had my laptop infected with a program called “Security Tool”. A pop-up appears, covering the centre of the screen, it purports to be carrying out a scan of the computer, tells you that you have an large number of worms and trojans etc, and offers to remove them in exchange for payment; which of course involves parting with your credit card details. Needless to say I didn’t fall for it. However I found it impossible to delete and had to call upon the services of my local friendly computer engineer to get rid of it. Even at “Mates-Rates” it still cost me £35 for him to remove it; and he struggled for over an hour.
I have no idea where this “bug” came from but it was a real pain; my laptop was virtually unusable until it was removed because the popup just kept re-appearing every few minutes whatever I did to try to delete it.

The most important thing is to be on the ball like this chap and not put in your card details to something like this that appears.  At the very least you’ll be charged for something you don’t get – but you might find they sell on your card details.


So the second tip is if you do get taken in by something like this (and if so you’re not alone so don’t feel too bad), tell your bank or card company so they can cancel the card and send you a new one.  That way the crook who buys your card details won’t be able to use them!


One more tip on this: the programs can be hard to get rid of, some harder than others.  The first thing to try is to run a full scan of whatever real security program you have (AVG, Norton, Security Essentials, McAfee or whatever).  Quite often they can automatically get rid of the fake program.  Not always, as I say, and it sounds like they couldn’t in this case, but it’s the best thing to try first.


MSE updated this week – genuine

While I’m talking about security, here’s something that is genuine: if you use Microsoft Security Essentials on your PC (as I do at home) then you might see a box appearing this week asking if it can update.

Now this much is true: Microsoft Security Essentials is updating this week, so chances are it’s genuine.  But here’s the question: how do you know it’s not some clever scammer who’s just timed it at the same time as a genuine update is happening?


Well, with this one (and plenty of other updates), if you click on update or OK, you’ll get a box that Windows itself puts up, saying the program is trying to make changes and do you want to let it.  It’ll look slightly different depending on what version of Windows you have but the important thing to look for is where it says “Publisher” or “Verified Publisher”.  That should be the name of the company who made the program.  So for Microsoft Security Essentials it should say Microsoft Corporation.  As long as it does, you know it’s really from Microsoft and is fine to go ahead with.


An interesting website – old photos & maps

I mentioned an interesting website and this is one I’ve spent a bit of time on since I discovered it.  It’s and they have a huge selection of old photos and maps.  You can type in a village or town name and it’ll show you maps and photos from the 50s or earlier of that place.  I’ve been through looking at all the various places I’ve lived and what they were like.

Interesting stuff – and particularly useful if you’re into family history and would like to see what it was like when great-great-grandfather was growing up in such and such a street.

They’re hoping you’ll buy a printed copy, of course, but that’s up to you – you can use the website without spending anything if you like.


Update on the Inner Circle

I mentioned last time that I might be opening up some more places in my PC Inner Circle.  Well, the good news is that I definitely will be – not just yet, but shortly.  I don’t know how many yet but it’ll be a limited number.The Inner Circle is a way for members to get access to articles, videos and even books I’ve written that no-one else can get at.  Members also can use the Clubroom, where they can ask questions and get answers from other members and also Pete,Georgia and me (good for when you’re completely stuck on how to do something… or about what something means).


If you might be interested, you can find out more (and be one of the first to know when places open) by clicking here:

It doesn’t mean you’re committed to anything – it just means I can give you the information about it without cluttering up the newsletter!


Hope all the security stuff hasn’t been too dull (or put you off!) – I thought it was important to let you know about it since once you know, you can be happy in the knowledge you’re safe!

Tim Wakeling

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