Computer / Network Security

Network Security and Internet Safety for the Average Guy

I was asked to speak at out church recently on the topic of internet filtering at home and give some advice to parents about what they can do to protect their kids again some of the less than desirable content on the #160; I have written and spoken about this before on the blog and podcast and will include some links below for anyone who would like to dig a little #160; In the mean time, here are some quick and essential tips on managing your home network’s safety and security.   Network Security #160; Make Sure Your Hardware Is Secure So you have opened up the world of the internet to your family, have you?  Might be a good idea to ensure all the hardware you are using is secure as #160; This will protect you and your family like the lock on your front door. Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) gave you something (like a Cable Modem or DSL Router) to connect to the internet, but you have most likely purchased a wireless router to connect your devices to the #160; Google your router’s brand and model and download the instructions that you threw away when you purchased the #160; Now read them. At minimum, make sure your router admin password is changed, some kind of security is enabled and you understand a few things about how the router works   2. Keep your Computer Secure with Microsoft Security Essentials It took Microsoft about 10 years to long to offer free Antivirus security for Windows, but the day has arrived and you never should pay for that kind of software #160; What is an install in Windows 7 (find it here) will soon come included with the new Windows 8!  But for now, download and install #160; The interface is easy to #160; I set mine for daily and forget about #160; It updates automatically and keeps you virus free! Note: For a really deep clean, I recommend #160; It is light, easy to use and free as well!  I manually use the free version about once a month or whenever I feel like something might be wrong. Internet Safety #160; Consider using OpenDNS Now that you are familiar with your wireless router, take a second to configure it to use OpenDNS and let them do some of the hard work for #160; Why OpenDNS you say?  OpenDNS acts like extra set of eye while you are using the #160; All internet requests from your house are automatically routed through their servers and filtered on criteria you set #160; Since it’s installed on the router, it works on ANY device that connects to your Wifi #160; PC’s, gaming consoles, cell phones, you name it! Free in most cases, OpenDNS not only provides great internet security, but also does web filtering (you can configure), parental controls, phishing, malware and botnet #160; It’s your first layer of protection at #160; More info and can be found here.   #160; Still worried about a specific PC, Mac, iPhone, iPod, iPad or Android Device?  Use a product like K9 K9 is a free application for your PC made by Bluecoat and is the best free web filter I have ever #160; I recently met some of the IT guys from Bluecoat at an Oracle Business Intelligence event in the Bay Area and couldn’t stop telling them what a great product they have. K9 is a simple, yet very powerful product that will allow you to custom build a personalized access plan for you or the ones you love as they surf the web. Some of the features include: Web site blocking by category, including pornography, illegal drugs, personals/dating, violence/hate/racism Easy pre-set levels to choose from depending on the age of your children SafeSearch enabled on all search engines to show cleaner search results Time restrictions, including NightGuard(tm), to disallow internet access during designated times Custom “always allow” and “always block” lists for your personal preferences Ability to override a block with the parent password Tamper resistant for more savvy kids Reports showing activity to categories of web sites Real-time categorization of new web sites Compatible with Windows or Mac machines Set up is easy and the management console is straight #160; If you haven’t tried it yet, do it #160; FREE! Just a side note:  The first article I posted was infected with a bad link,  Google caught it and gave me (actually it was found by Renny) a #160; I eventually had to completely wipe out the post, move the text into WordPad, start a brand new post and start #160; See, even the Average Guy finds it difficult to keep safe on the internet at #160; Keep your eyes wide open! Leave your comments or suggestions below.
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Computer / Network Security

The APC 1000VA Power Saving Green Back-UPS XS – with LCD Display

A UPS is a device that you don’t know you need, until you need #160; A UPS or uninterruptible power supply is an in house battery back up that provides emergency power to your computer (or anything else you plug into it) when your utilities #160; Here in Bellevue where I live, we get sudden drops in power all the time, so for years I have used small UPS units to protect my #160; It been a great system and has worked very well. Last Thursday we had storm roll through that caused a short power outage followed by a power #160; All the units in the house reacted correctly by closing the circuit and throwing their #160; This protected the PCs from utter #160; For once, I was on the good side of a protective #160; I did realize however, that I had two many computers plugged into one small UPS and that an upgrade was going to be #160; So I purchased the APC 1000VA Power Saving Green Back-UPS XS – with LCD Display with the plan of plugging 3 PCs into it for #160;  I will use it to power the Window Home Server, an HP Pavilion a6244n Core 2 Duo and a Core i3 PC that I use on a daily basis. So on Saturday morning, I made my way down to OfficeMax in search of a new #160; I found this one on the shelf (for $129), used my Google shopping app on the Epic to find the best deal and discovered that was running a good sale ($40 off).  I asked if they would match and they #160; Thanks Shadow Lake Office Max manager!  (Note: I checked the price a day later online and it was no longer available.) The APC 1000VA Power Saving Green Back-UPS XS – with LCD Display is an 8 Outlet 600 Watt Power Saving UPS with Automatic Voltage Regulation and 120 minutes of max run #160; It has a front LCD display for viewing the battery status, charge level and load #160; It has ports for phone, network and cable, USB connectivity with auto-shutdown software and a $150,000 connected equipment insurance #160;   The unit is sizeable and heavy, but looks great next to a tower #160; I had it home, out of the box and installed by #160; Here is what I #160; The batteries are shipped in the unit #160; Before using, you need to remove the back cover, pull the batteries out and remove the stickers, flip the batteries and reinstall both the batteries and the #160; Plug in to the wall, plug in the provide USB cable to the unit and your PC and off you go. A Windows 7 PC will find the device   Navigate to for the Power Chute software     Download software   Install Once downloaded, choose next, next, agree, install During the install, it will disabled Windows Power Management I choose to Auto Update and  to send Power Quality Info to APC Finish and registration of the #160; Since I bought it, I might as well. It adds an icon to the Notification Area   A look at the rear (while the software is loading)   APC PowerChute Personal Edition With no load, here is a look at the Home Page There are some basic alerts at the bottom of the Home Page.   Let’s look at a few of the sections Monitor System Performance Drop down option to view performance information covers the last week, 4,12 and 24 weeks. Current Status Run Self-Test Energy Usage Options: The default cost of energy for the application is $ (kWh).  Changing it for your utility would make the calculation more accurate. Your energy usage can also be displayed over the last day, week, month or year. This could be scary since I am planning on plugging in 3 units to this device.   Configuration Options From this screen, you can control the sound notifications, show the icon in the task bar, enable software update notifications and send power quality information to APC Runtime Notification Sensitivity Voltage Energy Management Enable Energy Management   Adding a Load Adding the Windows Home Server Dell Dimension 2400 Intel Celeron GB RAM 160 GB ATA System Drive (Contains the OS) Partitioned into 20/130 GB space 2 x 2 TB GB Drives connected External USB via IcyDock MB662US-2S Enclosure Current Status       Adding an HP Pavilion a6244n Desktop PC Core 2 Duo E4500 (C) DC GHz 3GB RAM 500 GB SATA 3G ( Gb/sec) Hard Drive       Now adding the Main PC GIGABYTE GA-H55M-USB3 LGA 1156 Intel H55 HDMI USB Micro ATX Intel Motherboard Intel Core i3-530 Clarkdale LGA 1156 73W Dual-Core Desktop Processor BX80616I3530 Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9D-4GBRL x2 1TB System Drive running Windows 7 SP 1.     I am looking forward now to some increased protection and feel fairly confidant that the three systems could experience a significant power outage (5 to 10 minutes) before I would need to start shutting things #160; A big improvement over the smaller UPS that I was using. I do like that now have better monitoring capabilities and that I know just how much I am taxing the #160; I am a little worried however, now that I know what my back of PCs is doing to the #160; Here is what I see from the Energy Usage dashboard after just one day of use! I am running the equivalent of 11 light bulbs running all #160; While it only cost me 50 cents, it is generating 7lbs of carbon dioxide and would be the same as driving 7 #160; I guess I can start on reducing my carbon footprint.     Jim Collison is a blogger and podcaster for and and a Microsoft Windows Home Server MVP Please feel free to leave comments at our Facebook Group Page
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Computer / Network Security

How to Configure Windows 7 Updates

If you’ve been a Windows user since XP, you probably know the importance of keeping the OS up-to-date. If you’re new to Windows or more specifically Windows 7, here we’ll take some time to go over the importance of making sure you have Windows Updates configured properly. If you want to help make sure that your PC is is more stable and less vulnerable to malicious attacks, the 2 main things to keep up-to-date is your Antivirus software and Windows Updates. The 2nd Tuesday of each month Microsoft has what’s called “Patch-Tuesday”. This is the day when Microsoft releases patches to improve stability, fixes to known vulnerabilities, and zero-day attacks. Let’s take a look at the process if you’ve just re-installed Windows 7. Windows Update To check to make sure your Windows Update settings are on…click on Start>>All Programs and scroll to Windows Update. If this is the first time you’ve run Windows Update on your machine, don’t be alarmed if you find the following message. If you want keep it simple, just click on the Turn on automatic updates button, which should be fine for most users. If you want more control, click on Let me choose my settings. Windows compares what’s installed on your OS against their database, and then show the results, both important and optional updates. If you want…you can check out the important updates, and optional ones. Important updates are all selected by default, but the optional ones aren’t. You should check Optional Updates as well as they can have driver updates for hardware and 3rd party programs. Also, on the left panel you’ll see a brief explanation for what each one is for. In this example we went ahead and selected the Important and optional update too. When you have everything selected, click on Install Updates. Sometimes updates require you to agree to the EULA or “license agreement” like this one for Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool. Then continue on with with the update installation… Many times after Microsoft releases several updates, a restart will be required. While your computer reboots you may see a message letting you know the updates are being applied. Scheduling Windows to Update Automatically To make sure you receive updates on a regular basis, again go to Start>>All Programs>>Windows Updates then click on Change Settings in the left column. And here we’ll take a look at a couple of settings. Under Important Updates click the dropdown list and set it to Install updates automatically (Recommended). This will ensure you’re always getting the updates downloaded and installed without you having to do anything…”set it and forget it”. If you want more control over your updates there are other options but the last one to never check isn’t recommended unless you’re an advanced user. Also, go down the list and check all the boxes shown in this screenshot…the last one is kind of optional though. To schedule the time updates are checked and installed…after you close the Important updates dropdown and made your choice you’ll see Install New Updates. Here is where you set a schedule for Windows to check for and install important updates. If you’re using an Antivirus program like Microsoft Security Essentials, I would set it for everyday when you know your PC will be on, as they send a new definition update daily. Otherwise everyday might be overkill so at least schedule it to check once a week. Sometimes Microsoft issues an update for a critical flaw other than the afore mentioned “Patch Tuesday”. Make sure to click OK when you’re done configuring the updates otherwise the changes won’t be saved. Windows Updates are an interracial part of keeping your Windows PC secure and stable so you’ll want to follow these practices. If you should happen to have any questions send us an email and we’ll be happy to help you out! Also make sure to check out Jim’s article: Worried about PC Security? Two Things You Should Do Right Now! (And they’re free).
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Computer / Network Security

Windows Multipoint Server 2011 beta

November 13,2010 I’ve been having a look at Windows Multipoint Server 2010 this week. Sean Daniel released a slide deck for SMBNation Presentations on Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials and 2011 Standard. I noticed on slide 24, there is a reference to a product called Windows MulitPoint Server. So I downloaded the 2010 version and installed that on a 1TB drive on my Shuttle SG33G5M with a 880GT. Looks like you need to have a USB hub for each keyboard and mouse for each workstation and a video connection on your server for each monitor. All was going well, I connected 1 keyboard that has 2 USB slots, so 1 for the wireless mouse dongle. I assuming that this setup makes the keyboard show up as a hub, as apposed to connecting the wireless mouse dongle to the PC directly, whereby also reducing the amount of USB ports. This becomes  important if you plan on connecting 10 workstations that WMS can support. Then my 2nd terminal has a USB wired device that controls a wireless keyboard & mouse. Once I setup the monitor correctly, I was able to run each workstation from the Multipoint server independently, cool. Now what ? I decided to install Office 2010 Pro on the server, since I have a Technet subscription. During the install however, when I tried the product ID, it told me that this Office product could not be run from a Terminal Services setup. Ouch. I took a second look at my TechNet subscription and notice a product key and a line that said “Terminal Service enablement for Office 2010 (Technet Professional)”, so I gave that key a try, Yay, it worked. Moving on, I installed the hotmail Outlook connector and configured each workstation’s Outlook 2010. Nice job everything was going well up to now. Problems, I tried to browse for my Windows Home Server or any other network devices, no go. I downloaded the WHS PC software directly to a USB stick and installed that. The connector did not find the server, darn. I setup Media Player and looked on my network for my content, no good, darn again. And I had such high hopes. Ok, back to the Multipoint web site to find some answers. What’s this ? All right, format that 1TB and start again. What’s different ? Ok, The Console looks cleaner and a lot like “Aurora” Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials. I was able to see my network, great. I setup Media Player and it found my content, great again. Sharing is on baby. I could find my WHS and download and install the connector, great again. Do a backup. Install Office 2010 with Terminal Service license. Configure, working, good stuff. Test out other workstation. Can’t login, WHAT ? Go back to connect site, found this. Oh well, a brick wall, I need to find some USB hubs. Ok, I’m back. I picked up a 4 port USB hub $6 and replaced the “2nd terminal has a USB wired device that controls a wireless keyboard & mouse”. So now I’m up and running. Here’s some other good points about MutiPoint Server 2011, Desktop thumbnails that make it easier for teachers to orchestrate activities across the classroom, see what students are working on, and interact with student sessions. Support for connecting thin clients over the LAN. This allows for virtually unlimited distances between stations. The ability to string multiple MultiPoint Server “pods” and manage them from a unified MultiPoint Manager console. Great for labs and libraries where there are a large number of stations in a single place. Split screen capabilities at each user station. Turn one screen into two separate stations for a new way of collaborative learning between students. An ISV extensibility model based on a common SDK with the next versions of Windows Small Business Server and Windows Home Server, which enables ISVs such as learning and classroom management providers to integrate with MultiPoint Server. Support for domain join to integrate Windows MultiPoint Server with your existing Active Directory infrastructure like Aurora and SBS7. See ya next time. John Zajdler. Here is a PDF.
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Computer / Network Security

Having Issues with Your Windows PC? (Who Hasn’t!) Here Are Some Helpful Tips

If you are having trouble finding your way through computer problems, you are not #160; Fortunately, there is help!  Microsoft has a very well done site that is dedicated to hints, fixes and tweaks to get you on your #160; They cover everything from the basics to locating problems to software errors to hardware #160; You can find the info here: Enjoy and remember, I search so you don’t have to!
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Computer / Network Security

Worried about PC Security? 2 Things You Should Do Right Now! (and they are free!)

It seems like it comes in waves and this week has been one of those waves!  Since I often fix broken PCs for people, I see it #160; Lately, I have been getting that call that starts something like #160; “Jim, I have a message that my computer has found a virus and that I need to pay to update my Antivirus #160; Do I?” In most cases, this is a solid, NO!  There is a breed of viruses called “Scareware” that try to separate you from you money by collecting $$$ for antivirus updates for some bogus #160; It all looks very legit, but it most definitely is #160; There is some additional info here if you want more details. What you need to know right now, is that there are two very easy things you can do right now to help prevent this from #160; Oh, and they are both very FREE! #160; Microsoft Security Essentials – For years we have been asking Microsoft to fix their security problems with a low or no cost solution that works for the average #160; They finally did #160; Download #160; Try #160; Love it!  It’s light and easy to use and just #160; It’s the best base security suite out #160; I use it on everything I run at my place and you should as #160; It’s the first think I add to any PC that is getting a new or fresh #160; #160; Malwarebytes – I have been recommending these guys for well over a year now and the software just keeps getting #160; They have both a free and paid version, but the free version is industrial strength enough for most of #160; After you download it, make sure you use the update tab to get the latest updates and run a quick #160; You will be amazed at what you #160; At home, I run this once a month or so just to keep things running #160; Well worth the time and the investment. So there you go!  Sure, there are other products out there, but this is my base and if you are concerned about PC security, they should be yours as well!  Happy surfing! Remember, I search so you don’t have to!
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Computer / Network Security

Upcoming Saturday Super Seminars at SLCC! Bullet Proof Your Home PC / Protecting Your Family on the Web

Our church, Shadow Lake Community Church, is once again offering free seminars for all those interested on Saturday morning, September 12, #160; SLCC is located at 1510 Papillion Drive, Papillion NE 68133 (Map) I will be leading a session titled Bullet Proof Your Home #160; We will spend the morning discussing the current security threats that exist to the average user on the internet as well as a few easy ways to protect you and your computer from viruses, adware, hacks, browser exploits and dozens of other problems that come with today’s #160; More info is coming, so stay tuned to this blog if you are interested in joining #160; Don’t think it’s only for the #160; I speak for the average guy!  All are welcome to attend. Remember, I search (and teach) so you don’t have to!
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