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Google takes aim at Ad Injectors and their dangers

Do you sometimes see a bar on your computer screen with links to products that may or may not be related to what you are looking up online? If so, your computer may be infected with an ad injector. Computer repair experts are buzzing about Google’s recent study with the University of California Berkeley, which highlights initial findings about the latest Internet menace.

Advice from Springfield Computer Repair Specialists: What You Need to Know about Ad Injectors

Fast Facts about Ad Injectors

  • They can infect all operating systems, like Windows and Mac
  • Google found them in Firefox, Chrome and Internet Explorer
  • Over one-third of Google Chrome extensions had ad injectors with malware
  • Google disabled 192 deceptive Chrome extensions, which affected 14 million users
  • Google is using new techniques to scan Chrome extensions and extension updates to prevent the installation ad injectors

What are Ad Injectors?

Ad injectors are Internet extensions that popup when visit a webpage. Instead of seeing the ad that a website would normally display, if it displays them at all, you see ads that the creators of the ad injector wanted you to see. Some of the ad injectors are simply benign and annoying, while others contain malware.

According to Google, about 5 percent of individuals who visit a Google website have at least one ad injector installed in their computer.

How Did they Get on My Computer?

When you encounter an ad injector, it’s a sign that you have unwanted software in your computer. Sometimes, ad injectors are bundled with legitimate software, similar to Lenovo Superfish incident. Therefore, when you download something from the Internet or install a program, you may inadvertently install the ad injector program onto your computer. Experts at computer repair services state that other forms of ad injectors are malicious, deceptive and difficult to remove.

What You Can Do about Ad Injectors

  • When you see a popup stating that a program detected suspicious activity or that a site contains harmful programs, do not click on anything within the popup. Instead, click on the “back” button at the top of the browser screen or close the Web page. Immediately run a virus and malware scan.
  • Install a reputable popup blocker that works with your Web browser.
  • If you see an ad injector on the screen when you’re online, look for the name of the company that created it (but don’t click on anything within the ads). For example, you see this in the corner, “Ads powered by Mezaa.” Go to your computer’s Control Panel and click on the application that allows you to uninstall or change the programs on your computer. Look for the name of the ad company and uninstall the program.

If your antivirus software doesn’t detect the ad injector program, but you continue to see it, get in touch the Springfield computer repair experts at Rethink Associates as soon as possible. The sooner that you eradicate it, the better your chances are to not falling victim to the intruder. Contact Rethink Associates to learn more.


Browsing Security: Is that site safe?

The Internet is a vast wonderland of information, pictures, videos and so much more. However, browsing online is not without its traps and pitfalls. You have to be Web-geek to stay away from scammers, phishing attacks and hackers that want to steal your personal information.

One of the quickest ways to get in trouble is to hang out in the Internet equivalent of a bad neighbourhood. I’m talking about visiting sketchy websites. The trick is how to know a site is sketchy before you visit it.Don’t you wish there was some kind of “bouncer” that could keep you from getting into trouble on those sketchy sites? Luckily for you, there’s a browser add-on that can give you a head’s up when you come across a bad site.

That’s where Web of Trust comes in. It’s an add-on for Web browsers that shows you which sites are safe for browsing and what needs to be avoided.

 

Web of Trust, or WoT, has an easy scale of green to red icons to indicate which sites are trustworthy and which are unsafe. These icons will appear when you search for things online. Green is “safe,” yellow means “use caution” and red means “avoid at all costs!”. You can also see the WoT icon when you visit sites, and when you click on the icon you can see additional information. You can even rate sites based on trustworthiness and being appropriate for children.

Note: WoT will prompt you to create an account, but you don’t have to if you just want the site ratings. If you want to comment on WoT sites and participate in the WoT forums, however, you will need to create an account.

Download Instructions

Downloading the browser add-on is easy, just navigate to the Web of Trust homepage and click on the large green button labelled “Download” in the center of the page. It should have the logo of your browser on the button.The add-on download should begin immediately. When prompted, add the Web of Trust app to your browser. It’s just that simple, and completely free.

Once it’s installed, you can browse the Web with peace of mind knowing that you have a beacon to alert you when there’s trouble ahead.


Web of Trust, or WoT, has an easy scale of green to red icons to indicate which sites are trustworthy and which are unsafe. These icons will appear when you search for things online. Green is “safe,” yellow means “use caution” and red means “avoid at all costs!”. You can also see the WoT icon when you visit sites, and when you click on the icon you can see additional information. You can even rate sites based on trustworthiness and being appropriate for children.

Note: WoT will prompt you to create an account, but you don’t have to if you just want the site ratings. If you want to comment on WoT sites and participate in the WoT forums, however, you will need to create an account.

Download Instructions

Downloading the browser add-on is easy, just navigate to the Web of Trust homepage and click on the large green button labelled “Download” in the center of the page. It should have the logo of your browser on the button.The add-on download should begin immediately. When prompted, add the Web of Trust app to your browser. It’s just that simple, and completely free.

Once it’s installed, you can browse the Web with peace of mind knowing that you have a beacon to alert you when there’s trouble ahead.

Maintenance vs. Malware..

We have seen a huge increase in calls pertaining to.. "I have a virus". First off in all my years doing this, I have never seen a computer with just one virus, it is usually multiple viruses, malware, adware and all sorts of bad stuff that take your computer down.

Lately, many with proxy connections problems, Google Chrome problems, and advertising / error popups all over the screen. Malicious browser extensions, and rogue toolbars are usually what cause the browser connection problem.

The longer you let your computer go without removing the viruses, the more damage that is usually done to your computer, the operating system, your irreplaceable data files, your identity, your finances (if you bank or order online), and the computers hardware. The longer you allow these viruses to infect and multiply on your system, it is very likely the repair will cost more either by repair or replacement.

Viruses make the computers hardware work harder, a computer that is working harder runs hotter, and slows down in performance. This excessive heat, and extra work, puts a strain the hardware (motherboard, the electronics, and hard drive). Computer hardware failure, shortened life span is the end result of an overworked computer by viruses & malware.

Anti virus programs like Kaspersky, Bitdefender or Eset Nod32 anti virus are the better programs (my own personel experience and opinion), what I recommend. Again, keep in mind, not all are 100% bullet proof. Free anti virus programs only provide basic protection. Real anti virus protection starts with the computer user, yourself and any others that USE YOUR computer. And how you use the internet, what you use it for, what links you are clicking on etc. And how well you perform regular maintenance and scan your computer with specific malware scanners, periodically.

When or if looking for Anti Virus software reviews, keep in mind most of the review sites are being paid by AV program developers to rank there programs as the "best". Remember,, money talks. Again "the best" is how YOU use, & what YOU use the internet for, and how deligent & cautious you are on the internet. Anti virus protection starts with yourself.

Whether it is "viruses - malware" related or not, a computer without regular simple maintenance either by the user or repair place, will not continue to operate properly overtime.

If you forget to WIPE your old phone, your data is a sitting duck

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Over the last year, The big 4 US mobile carriers — Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint — all have introduced shiny new programs allowing users to upgrade their cell phones far mmuch sooner than the standard two-year cycle, and do it quite affordably. 

The biggest takeaway of these programs? More new phones = more old phones. The EPA estimated that in 2010, 152 million mobile phones were thrown away, with only 17.4 million being recycled. Since then, the secondary market for used cell phones has boomed, with big-box stores offering buy-back programs and a multitude of online options luring those looking to cash in.

Whether an old phone is donated, sold or recycled, one crucial step of this process is often overlooked: securely “wiping,” or deleting, the personal data contained on the old device. Most phones have a 'Factory Reset' option that allows the phone to be reset to it's original factory settings —however, as a recent experiment by security software company Avast demonstrated, that doesn’t always do the trick. 

Avast purchased 20 different phones on eBay and put some of their off-the-shelf data recovery and forensics tools to work to see what they could dig up. From those 20 phones, Avast recovered 40,000 photos — including 1,500 family photos with children and hundreds of embarrassing pornographic images — 750 emails, 250 contacts with names and addresses, SMS and chat messages, and even private financial and legal documents.

How was this possible? Wiping a device often means only cleaning a device at the application layer, or rearranging where the data is stored, not necessarily deleting it. Apple was quick to point out that all of the phones in the Avast study were Android devices (iPhones overwrite encryption keys, not just data, when wiped and reset), and BlackBerry has relied on its own trusty secure wipe tool for years. But many of the secure-wipe apps offered through Google Play for the Android platform come with “we cannot guarantee that all free space will be sanitized” disclaimers. However, there has been software available for public purchase for several years that allows recovery of images and data from iPhone even when the passcode is not known and the iPhone has been reset. 

So how can you more vigilantly delete data on an old device?

• Pursue all channels of smartphone security while you’re using it so they will be in place when you decide to get rid of it. In May, a Consumer Reports study revealed that 36% of users set a screen lock with a 4-digit PIN; 29% backed up their data; 22% installed phone-location software; 14% installed a mobile security or antivirus app; 8% installed software that could erase their phone’s content; 7% used security features other than screen lock — and 34% took none of those security measures. Almost all of these options are free and easy to implement, but if you need help, call in a trusted IT service provider.

• Once you’re ready to sell, recycle, or donate, remove your SIM card (and micro SD card, if your phone has one). Most data is kept in internal storage, but some contacts or call logs can end up on these cards. It’s common practice for anyone buying or refurbishing a used cell phone to supply their own new SIM or micro SD cards before using, so there’s no need to risk the security of your data by leaving the old one in.

• On iPhones, use the Default Erase Setting — on Androids, encrypt your phone manually, and then erase. Apple’s Default Erase setting uses hardware encryption to scramble your phone’s specific key, while on the Android platform, this step must be done manually. This Lifehacker story from October 2013 explains both processes in great detail.

• Rely on a trusted IT service provider to keep up with evolving best practices and tools for mobile security. The landscape surrounding the privacy of cell phone data keeps shifting; in June, the US Supreme Court ruled that police must get a search warrant before delving into the contents of a person’s phone, so, for all intents and purposes, that data is now considered sacrosanct.

The technology surrounding data encryption will surely continue to evolve — wouldn’t you like to leave your worries about it to someone invested in the industry? Smart business owners concentrate on building their companies and caring for clients — and leaving IT worries to a partner they can trust. 

If you have security questions call us at Rethink Associates in order to leverage our expertise and knowledge to help provide you with solutions for security that won't leave your data "exposed"