Viruses, Worms, And Trojans – A Basic Guide To Malware

An overwhelming majority of tech users mistakenly attribute the term “virus” to virtually any category of malicious software. In reality, a virus is only one of the various existing subsets of malicious digital menaces that exist today.

Three of the most common types of malicious software – viruses, trojans, and worms – are noticeably different in the methods that they use to attack your digital resources. All three of them fall under the umbrella-like term: malware; which is a portmanteau of “malicious software”. However, virtually all antivirus software worth mentioning will be able to rid your device of these three types of malware (if it doesn’t, it’s time to get a new antivirus program).

Viruses

So what does a virus do? Well similarly to its namesake, the biological virus (which infects cells), a computer virus seeks to infect uncontaminated files. If you have an infected file on your device, once you open/run that file the virus activates and tries to infect uncontaminated files on your device.

One of the most common file types that a virus will try to attach itself to is an .exe file. These are the files that execute whenever you open a program on your computer, so the virus will activate concurrently with the program. Viruses may also seek out documents, such as Word of Excel files. These files are commonly shared with other users via USB devices, emails, etc.; this serves to prolong the lifespan of a virus and ensure that it propagates or “reproduces” onto another device.

Viruses can get a lot worse. At times they may even succeed at going further than simply attaching themselves to a file – they may completely replace it (deleting it and masquerading as it). Last but not least, they can corrupt your system by obfuscating and using up your system memory, leading to crashes and malfunctions.

Worms

So what does a worm do? Worms differ from viruses in a few ways. Firstly, they never actually need to be activated by users so that they can spread – they are standalone software. Secondly, they don’t actually try to infect files on your device, their main goal is to replicate themselves and distribute these copies.

For some worms (e.g. Mydoom) this may mean that they copy themselves and make an attempt to email themselves to your contacts. Some worms (e.g. Blaster) are more tenacious, they may abuse the weaknesses in unprotected networks by infecting connected systems that have weak firewalls that they can bypass. These worms can essentially slow a network to a standstill by creating an immense traffic load.

However, just like a virus, a worm can carry out the same malevolent activities once it breaches your system’s protections.

Trojans

So what does a trojan do? Now most people are familiar with the story of the Trojan horse – the giant wooden horse that the Greeks gave to the Trojans under the guise of gift.malware_trojan_121 However, it wasn’t a gift, inside the horse were Greek soldiers who facilitated the destruction of Troy once they were safely inside the gates. Trojan malware are exactly like their namesake. Trojans act like legitimate useful software; however, once they have been added to your system they open a “backdoor” and let the invaders into your system. One of the most common things that they do is add your system to a botnet so that it can be utilized to perform nefarious deeds. They can even use this connection to add other malware to your device or system. Trojans will virtually never try to spread themselves, they will instead act innocent and hide in the shadows – waiting to strike.

What Else Is There?

Sadly, this isn’t all that here is in terms of types of malware. Some other common malware types are:

Scareware –

This is commonly found on popular web pages, it takes the form of a notification that claims that your system is infected or at risk and that you should download a linked antivirus program to clean your system or remain safe. This is a lie. Most of them will request payment and ask that you give your credit card number – this is a big red flag! It will also latch onto your system and try to stay there until you pay up or purge it.

Spyware –

This does exactly what it says on the tin: It spies on your actions. This can be something as simple as a key logger; software that records your keystrokes so that it can steal valuable information such as passwords and credit card information. Spyware can also be advertising software that observes your internet based activity and reports back to its creators. Spyware can sometimes fly under the radar of some antivirus programs, so do a bit of research to find out just what exactly your antivirus looks for and finds – Windows Defender has been known to be able to root out numerous cases of spyware.

Is there anything essential that we left off? Want to find out more about malware and the dangers they pose to your system? Ask away in the comments below!

Google Secrets, Tips and Tricks

Let’s be honest, Google is now as far away as possible from their original credo: Don’t be evil. It’s just another money-hungry IT giant bent on getting more profit and more control, while it monopolizes the market in its spare time. Like it or not, it’s still the number one search in the world, and still the best, even though some of its competitors, like Bing, or Yahoo have the edge when it comes to certain things, but they are nowhere near jeopardizing Google position as the world’s most popular search engine.

But, even though we use Google all the time, most of us still don’t know all the ins and outs of it. Of course, we are not talking about the stuff underneath the hood, or behind closed doors, because that’s a closely guarded secret. What we are talking about are little known tips and tricks that will help you get more accurate search results. So, let’s get straight to the point, shall we?

Google Reverse Image Search

Before you go and think of us as amateurs, we started with this one, because we were stunned by the number of people who weren’t even aware that Google’s reverse image search existed.search_google_33 They were like, what? This is one of our favorite things about Google. You have a photo of something, and you want to trace it back to its source, or find other images from the same gallery. Simply drag and drop it into the image search box, let Google do its magic, and voila! You are provided with a list of all the websites that host the same image.

Search Any Website through Google

There are a lot of great websites out there that we like, but some of them could use a better search algorithm, because more often than not, the search doesn’t return any useful results, or any at all, even though we know the page exists, because we were on it at the time. Even YouTube, which is owned by Google, doesn’t return some of the videos we have already watched. That’s where Google comes in.

For instance, if you want to search a particular site, let’s say YouTube, since we’ve mentioned it, you can simply type site: youtube.com, followed by the terms you wish to search. You can use this for pretty much anything other than websites, including forums, blogs, video streams, web services, free downloads and more. Simply put, it can find anything.

Using Operators to Fine-Tune Your Google Search

For those among you who are electrical engineers, software develops or web designers, the use of operators is something you perform on a daily basis. But, if you don’t belong in any of the former categories, you are probably not familiar with them. Operators are a useful tool that should be used by everyone, not just experts. You may have even used some of them, without being aware of it. For instance, words “and” and “or” are operators, as well, which allow you to search multiple terms. But, what you probably don’t know is that you can use “around”, which is sort of like a mix of regular search and search with the use of quotes. Also, “around(2)” can be used when you want the terms to be in proximity to each other, but not in a specific order. Changing the number inside the parentheses allows you to fine-tune the level of accuracy. Last, but not least, you can also exclude a certain word from your search completely. You do this simply by typing a dash in front of the terms you don’t want searched. This also works for websites, which lets narrow down the search results even further.

Try some of these tips out and see what you can find!

The Complete Guide to Clearing Your Browser History

Unless you’re new to the internet, you should know about browser history. Jokes about deleting your history are rampant, and for good reason. Everything you do on the net is tracked, from your websites, your search history, your preferences and cookies. This will tell people your browsing habits. You don’t want a friend, spouse, or family member to see your questionable browsing habits, so in this guide we’ll tell you ways you can clear your history automatically.We’ll cover all of the major browsers, so let’s first look at:

Firefox: How to clear history

If you want to clean your history manually, you can use this keyboard shortcut to do it. Ctrl+Shift+Del. To Clear All History box will be launched, and all you have to do is select what history you want to delete. You can delete recent searches, or delete everything since the beginning. Once you select what you want, click on Clear Now, and say goodbye to your history!

If you want your data cleared every time you close the browser, go to Firefox, click on Options, go to Privacy, and then you should check the box that says “Clear history when Firefox closes.” This should be at the end of the History part. The Settings option next to it allows for more customization. Just hit OK when you’re done.

Google Chrome. Clearing data

The shortcut to go to the menu that clears your data is the same as Firefox. Press Ctrl+Shift+Del, and you can alter what history you want deleted, and even set your own time frame. Afterwards, click on “Clear browsing data,” and it will be clean.

If you want to go to Chrome’s privacy settings to clean everything automatically, click on the wrench, then stings, and then look at Under the Hood.data_clearing_33 Go to Privacy and then click on Content Settings. Afterwards, go to the bar that says Cookes, and then click on “Clear cookies and other site and plug-in data when I close my browser.”

Chrome also allows you to click on Manage Exceptions, where you can put websites that you don’t want to be deleted. No longer do you have to worry about losing login data for all your sites!

Internet Explorer 9

The shortcut to delete your history is the same as the last two. Internet Explorer is limited in that you can’t delete data that’s recent only, but you can have an option to preserve your favorites, and everything is explained quite well.

If you want everything to be deleted when you close it, go to Tools and then select Internet Options. Head to the General tab, which is underneath Browsing History. Check the box that says “Delete browsing history on exit.” The Delete button allows you to change what you can delete, so you can make it all customizable. The Advanced tab can take it up another notch. Once you click on that, go to Security and choose to Empty Temporary Internet Files, which will clean those once you close your browser.

Overall

Browsing history is a concern for many reasons. You don’t want your friend seeing an embarrassing secret, nor do you want your kids to see certain websites. By deleting your history frequently, it not only prevents possible shame, but is a great security measure as well.

6 Apps That Will Make Your Organization a Cinch

Have you ever had a great idea, but then forgot about it shortly after? Whether you’re an artist looking for inspiration or someone who appreciates a good thought, writing down your idea immediately is the best way to go.

Since not everyone carries around a pencil and paper 24/7, you should take it using the next best thing, a note-taking app. Many of these are free, and you can get them straight from the Windows Store. There’s an app that’s great for whatever you want to write down, whether it’s an idea for your next big novel or your passwords. With that said, let’s look at a few of those.

OneNote

This is Microsoft’s interpretation of the old-school note-taking software, and it does its thing quite well. OneNote has had a long developmental history, and it’s even part of the Microsoft Office package. So it’s quite up to snuff. OneNote makes the note-taking process easy and more streamlined, so you can use it on any device. However, it still has lots to offer.

This program uses action wheels, which gives you plenty of options without making the layout bloated. By clicking around, you can add images and items, or highlight particular points of your notes. There is a drawing interface as well, and while it’s best to use for a touchscreen, you can still use it well enough if you decide to use a mouse.

The Office version is the best one, so if you’re used to that, then the app version has features that aren’t present. Fewer options are available to keep your notes organized, and there aren’t as many tools you can use. But for a quick way to take notes, the mobile version is fantastic. It keeps everything simple and includes the essentials. It allows for easy searching and being able to pair with other devices, so it’s great all around.

Notepad Classic

We all know the classic Notepad tool that Windows has, and Notepad Classic is an app version that does a great job capturing the feel. While it’s third-party, it’s still a great note-taking tool, even if it doesn’t have much to offer.apps_notes_55 The app gives you a white space to type, a toolbar with the basics, and that’s pretty much it. It’s a quick, non-distracting way to keep your notes down.

Being a modern spin on the old Notepad program, it has a few changes that can make it easier, including line and column readouts. These minor changes add a touch, and it’s a great tool if you’re looking for a minimalistic way to take down notes. Of course, if you’re looking for something more, then this app may not be for you.

Code Writer

Code Writer takes a few lessons from Notepad Classic, but instead of keeping the basic premise of Notepad down, it adds its own changes to the mix. While none of them are amazing, it’s still a powerful app, no matter what your coding skill level is.

So as you can see, with Code Writer, it’s not about taking notes, but instead writing codes. It has a clean interface that will allow you to code easily, all without any problems. A few additions are added to make the coding experience easy, such as templates for all the different languages out there, including Java, Ruby, and Python. It also includes plenty of editing tools at your disposal that are non-distracting, but are useful. The people who make it know how a code-writing app should be done, so if you’re a coder, then you’re missing out on a lot if you don’t give this a try!

Poe

If you want something even more minimalist, Poe is the way to go. All the program consists of is a background with the app’s logo, and you just type your words there. It does have hidden toolbars so that you can add some customization, but it’s not distracting.

One of the tools is a word counter, and it has a few cool features. It has its own word counting goal, which you can use if you want to meet a certain word count, and as it keeps your progress, you can see if you’re going to reach the amount of words or not.

If you want to increase your typing speed, they have an option for a timer. When the timer’s set, it runs in the background, so you don’t have to worry about a bloated interface. While this interface doesn’t work for everyone, as some people think it’s a bit dull, it has a lot going for it, especially if you’re a writer who needs to improve your skills.

Sticky Notes 8

A classic sticky note is best for many situations, and this app is a paperless emulation of the good-ol’-fashion Post-It treatment. It has a selection of colors to choose from, and it allows you to take your notes however you want. Once again, it’s not filled with bells and whistles, but if you like to organize your thoughts, then this app is for you. It’s easy to use, and you don’t have to worry about getting lost.

But it’s perhaps too simple for some people. All you can do is add text and images to your note, and then you can synch it  another device. Nothing else is special here.notetaking_apps_66 The free version also has ads, but they’re not too distracting, just another note that has a sponsored ad on it.

If you don’t care about all the fancy touches, then Sticky Notes 8 is perfect. You can figure it out within a few minutes of using it, and then you can begin taking notes. Once again, you may be wishing for more features, but if minimalism is a thing for you, then this is perfect.

Evernote Touch

Ah, Evernote. One of the biggest ways to organize your notes, it’s known for working with all your devices. Your laptop, desktop, phone, or tablet all can have Evernote on it, so you can see your notes anywhere. While some apps are similar, Evernote is still the biggest and baddest one. They don’t care about one brand over the other, so you don’t have to worry about it not being available for Mac or Android. It’s just like a website, available from any device.

What’s also fantastic about Evernote is that it keeps everything organized in the best ways possible. You can keep things in different notebooks, or categories, and you can add tags to your notes so you can look them up with ease. Audio notes are also a cinch, and you can take them with no hassle. While the Windows app may not be as feature-filled as some of the others, that will change. It does what it needs to, and it does it well.

Overall

There are many note-taking apps out there, tailored to each one. Before you download one, ask yourself what you need to record. Are you someone who likes to record every single idea, or just the most important details? Decide, and then download an app that’s best suited for you.

Free Windows Software For Your PC You Need to Download Immediately!

You have just treated your PC to a fresh Windows installation, which means your hard drive is now a blank slate. With so much free software to choose from, it might be easy for you to overlook some of the less flashy solutions, or neglect some of the programs you never even knew existed.

That is why we have compiled this list of free Windows software that every user should have. Of course, you can do without any of these, but you would be missing out. Here is our top list of free PC software.

Mozilla Firefox/Google Chrome

Leading the pack when it comes to internet browsers is Mozilla Firefox. Internet Explorer is a great browser, and has come a long way since its early days, but if you prefer something different, Mozilla Firefox is an obvious solution. It does so many things right, and it’s easy to see why it is the most popular browser out there. Great speed, tabbed browsing, private browsing, and, another plus of it being the most popular, a whole slew of various add-ons and plug-ins which extend its basic arsenal, which is considerable even on its own.

But, we cannot mention Firefox without mentioning its biggest rival, Google Chrome. It offers pretty much the same stuff Firefox does: tabbed browsing, private browsing and a multitude of different extensions. If you use your Google account to log into Google Chrome, you will be able to sync browsing history, bookmarks and preferences, and have them on any device you are currently using. It’s a runner-up in this popularity contest, but as far as speed, stability and features are concerned, it’s a dead heat between these two giants.

VLC Media Player

VLC is not just a great piece of software, but an awesome one. We swear by it. If you want to play multimedia on your computer, but want to avoid the slow, clunky behemoth that is Windows Media Player, VLC Media Player is a must-have. We have to admit, when it first appeared years ago, we foolishly dismissed it, judging the book by its cover. But, we were proven wrong quickly. Whenever there was a multimedia file that couldn’t be read by any other player, VLC came to the rescue. Sometimes we joke it would be able to play our father’s old records, or audio cassettes. As far as specific formats go, you name it: MP3, FLAC, DivX, Xvid, H.264, MKV, WMA, WMV, Real Video, MOV, ALAC and whole bunch of others. We cannot praise it enough.

CCleaner

OK, so we’ve got you covered on media playback and surfing. But, over time, your computer will turn into a junkyard, much like your room when you were still living with your parents, and you’re going to need to clean that mess up. If you don’t want to re-install Windows all over again, CCleaner is a tool you must have in your toolbox.

CCleaner will help you get rid of unused software or malware that has managed to slip through the cracks of your anti-virus. It will also clean your Registry, free up some space on your hard drive, and a whole series of other stuff that will make your PC run as smoothly as it did after a fresh Windows installation.

These are just for starters – there are loads more to come, keep a look out for future posts!