Your Neighborhood Technician

ShadeTreePC

It’s February 20th, 2017 and I’m taking this day to focus on making ShadeTree PC (and it’s parts)
work better.  I’ll be creating a support ticket system for clients and myself to use so fewer tasks get
left behind.

Other items of interest is PaddockGameServers.com,
where we will soon see dedicated game servers being offered.

More info will be coming as we get closer to opening day.

I hope everyone reading this has a great Presidents Day!
-Tom

We are opening up our Laboratory area this week!

A long time in the making, our Labs area is where we have been building custom PCs for
years. Now it’s open to the public.

We offer pre-configured and full custom systems.

Check it out at:

Laboratory

http://www.majorgeeks.com/news/story/comodo_internet_security_removed_from_majorgeeks_downloads.html

Comodo Internet Security Removed From MajorGeeks Downloads

With all the problems I’ve had with Comodo over the past year, this doesn’t surprise me.
I used to really like the Comodo line of producs, but they have become bloated, comes with
malware and causes some software to not work.

If you are still using Comodo, I encourage you to make the switch now to Avira or BitDefender
for your main AV solution.

 

Win10 has been out for a month now and it seems to be a never ending story of hidden “undocumented features”.  If you have any privacy concerns, don’t use W10.

So, what do you do? What are the options?
Switch platforms (Mac, Chrome or Linux), or stick with the old (W7 or 8/8.1).

If you’re like me, you are heavily vested in products that only run on windows.
I am now using 2 desktop systems. One with win7, the other LXLE linux.
I use my Win7 for games ( I do a lot of racing games only available on Windows).
my encryption programs, web design and desktop publishing tools.

I use LXLE for web browsing, email, skype, writing.

Is this an ideal? no. Ideally, everyone would have one system that did everything.
It’s human nature to go with the familiar and easy system they are used to.
Dual booting is a pain, switching back and forth several times a day.

You could run linux as the main OS, and install windows in a virtual machine.
You would need a good mid-level pc.  (most low end pcs don’t have the horsepower to run this effectively, and windows games won’t run, well).

How do you stay secure, if you’re staying with Win7 etc?
Updates: get the “important” updates, but disable the “recommended and all other Microsoft product” updates.
Antivirus etc: Use top rated, not most popular products. Avira and Bitdefender have the highest
test scores around.  In addition, I use MalwareBytes anti Exploit (real time anti malware).
DNS: I use open dns IPs, 208.67.222.222, 208.67.220.220

Scan your computer weekly.
Create a “cold Storage” back up weekly.
If something does go wrong, you can recover.

Browsing: Firefox or chrome, NEVER use IE.
Use SandboxIE to run your Firefox/Chrome in a safe sandbox.
(downloading files takes a bit of getting used to. Moving files from the sandboxed download folder to a non sandboxed area for long term storage).

“If I do all this, will my pc be safe?”
The reality is that the only safe computer is an un-connected one.
This will protect your pc from the bulk of the crap out there, but it’s not an open invitation to
go drudging through thew sewers of the internet.

We all need  good internet practices.
When checking email, never-ever click on links in the emails.
Here is a great article on wikihow:
http://www.wikihow.com/Be-Safe-on-the-Internet

References:
LXLE.net
avira.com
bitdefender.com
sandboxie.com
opendns.com
malwarebytes.org
veracrypt.codeplex.com
encryptfiles.net
cypherix.com

First system out of the salvage yard is an HP Pro3000mt promo

  • E6600 Duo dual core Intel
  • 2gb ddr3 10600 w/ 3 more slots available
  • 160gb SATA
  • DVDRW w/ lightscribe
  • Win 7 Pro 64bit sp1
  • Win 10 compatible
  • kb & ms
  • 19″ Viewsonic LCD monitor
  • 2 port Firewire card
  • software kit inc: libreOffice, Avira AV, VLC, Lots of utilities and our “performance” tuning
  • $200

Well, it’s Father’s day weekend and I was cleaning out my storage.

For my existing clients only!

I found 2 laptops that are now up for sale at $100 each:

  1. ASUS K60IJ w: Win7 Home 64bit sp1, 2gb ram, 320gb hdd, Intel Dual Core T4300
  2. Toshiba Satellite L455D w: Win 7 home sp1, AMD Sempron SI-42, 4gb ram, 250gb hdd,

I also found several (identical) desktop computers without hard drives.  These I’ll call my “builder specials” @$100.

Main chassis: MATX case and mainboard, Intel E6600 dual core cpu, 2 gb ddr3 dual density ram, 300w ps, DVDrw

Add-ons will include:

  • new hdd (price varies based on brand, size and avail, max of 2 drives) $50+ea
  • 450 watt ps: $50
  • additional ram at $25 /2gb stick (max of 4 sticks total)
  • Video card (price varies based on brand, size and avail) $50+

Call or write me if you are interested.

It’s April. It’s a snowstorm in Colorado.

It’s a good time to get some updates posted.

Comodo has fixed alot of it’s PrivDog issues, but I still would not have PrivDog installed.

I do have Comodo AV on one of my computers. I’m also using Avira and BitDefender.

Changes to ShadeTree PC: You may notice over the next few days some changes to the sites.
I’ve been experimenting with some new back-end parts of WordPress and I decided it was time to
put it into my main site.  This requires the change of the Hosting and Webs areas to use
different locations. So, “hosting.shadetreepc.com” has become “shadetreepc.com/hosting”.
The “Webs” will be next on the list to make the change from “webs.shadetreepc.com” to
“shadetreepc.com/webs”.

 

Well it looks like Comodo has lost it’s credibility with their program “PrivDog”,

A tool that is bundled with most of their products (AV suites and browsers).

Come to find out in the last 3 days that it’s actually breaking the security of

your browsers and faking the security certificates.

In layman’s terms, the HTTPS pages you’ve been going to, (your bank etc)

are not actually using your bank’s SSL certificate, instead using their own

generated, signed and managed by itself, and creating a MitM security hole.

Which makes Comodo, the “Man in the Middle” monitoring all your internet

traffic.

So what do we do about it?  Here is what I did:

First step: uninstalled PrivDog and PrivDog2 from computer.

Next step: replace browsers.

I used my existing browser, Comodo IceDragon, and went to google.com and got

Chrome, then went to Mozzila.org and got Firefox.  Then went to BitDefender.com

and downloaded their free AV (will be used later, and I will be purchasing their
class program.)

In both Comodo Dragon and IceDragon, I exported the bookmarks to html files.

In IceDragon, I had an old plugin that let me export my passwords to a csv file.

Installed Firefox and Chrome. Then imported the Bookmarks.html files.

In firefox, I had to find the new plugin that let me import my passwords.csv file.

Once verified that it worked, I uninstalled the Dragon and IceDragon browsers.

Next step: replacing the AV suite.

This gets a bit tricky, as it remove the custom DNS server numbers from your

network interface properties, leaving you disconnected from the internet!

I manually went to my network properties, changed the IPv4 DNS setting to

OpenDNS servers: 208.67.222.222 & 208.67.220.220

Uninstalled Comodo Internet Security. (restarted system).

Installed BitDefender free (another restart)

Using the new browser, I went directly to sandboxie.com and downloaded

the sandboxie program using the direct link, not the secondary providers.

Installed and tested the sandboxie program worked with my browsers and bitdefender.

BitDefender did a quick scan, but I started a full scan just to be sure.

All appears to be running OK and I plan on a full reload next month anyway.

 

Places to go:

http://www.bitdefender.com

http://sandboxie.com

http://www.google.com/intl/en/about/products/

https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/

https://www.opendns.com/

— Update Feb 27 9am:

Just an FYI, the PrivDog version (browser plugin) that is included in the
CAV, CIS, Dragon, IceDragon, & Chromium Secure, did not have the flaw
that the stand alone install of PrivDog, PrivDog2 had. Comodo did release
an update (PrivDog3) that fixes the flaw. However I wouldn’t use PrivDog
in any form.

There are NO known security flaws found in their Anti Virus suites.

-Tom

 

This past few weeks I’ve been going over the Anti Virus test lab results and testing the top picks.

AS most of you know, I’ve been quite a fan of Comodo, but due to a few clients having critical issues

between Comodo AV and particular “specialized” software, so we had to find a different solution.

My top 3 Freeware picks are:

  1. Avira
  2. BitDefender
  3. Comodo

Avira has changed significantly in the past year to a much smaller program, and the “nagware” screen no longer takes over the entire screen.
It now has a much simplified interface.

BitDefender, like Avira, is small, nearly silent, and deadly to viruses. It is registerware, 1 email address per install.  If you have several devices,
they do have commercial versions, family packs etc that can cover all devices (android, mac, windows, nix etc).

Comodo A/V, and Internet Security Suites offer the same high level of security, a revised interface (version 8) but I still think is a bit complex
for the average user. The interface can be a bit overwhelming for the non-geek.  The IS suite also includes a great firewall. Both come bundled with
Dragon browser (custom version of Chrome) which also provides you a Virtual (sandboxed) Dragon, and GeekBuddy, which is their support chat client
which is not free.  There are also LOTS of checkboxes during install, and can be very confusing for novices to Comodo.

Ok, so lets say you have been using Comodo and want to switch to Avira of BitDefender.  If you don’t use the Virtual mode Dragon, there is no problem.
However, if you do use the Virtual Mode, it will go away when you uninstall the Comodo suite.

There are workarounds.

  1. Leave Comodo installed and don’t switch
  2. Leave Comodo installed, but set to “disabled” mode, add new primary AV program
  3. Replace Comodo with new AV program, use VirtualBox or VMWare to create a virtual machine for your browsing

Other great add-ons to better secure your computer:

  • MalwareBytes Anti Exploit
  • Comodo Firewall
  • Cold storage backup (removable SATA, NAS or USB drive)

-Tom

Well, 2014 is finally over.  I’ll be spending most of this weekend closing the accounting books and finishing up some last minute emergency repairs.

I’ve been reflecting on the biggest issues, and solutions, that I’ve dealt with this past year.

We’ve seen the end of XP (or have we?….. Stay tuned, it ain’t dead yet) and a virus attack that nearly wiped out a clients business (more on that later).

So, in the next few days I’ll have some more posts on how to keep XP, and for that matter windows 7, running for many years to come, my antivirus picks for 2015, and my short list of linux distros worth checking out.

-Tom