Backup Your Gmail With MailStore Home

Here is a good Windows software option, called MailStore Home, that you can use to download and backup your Gmail. I can also see using this to archive a Gmail account that is getting full.

 

MailStore Home is a free email archiving and email backup software for personal use.

With MailStore Home you can backup all emails in a central archive, even if they are distributed across different computers, programs or mailboxes. You can do this either on your PC or on a USB drive as a “portable” option.

Source: MailStore Home – Free Email Archiving and Backup for Home Users

Destroy Adware (and its’ friends) With AdwCleaner

AdwCleaner is one of those programs that I keep on my computer, that is engineered to target (and remove) adware, spyware, potentially unwanted programs (PUPs), and browser hijackers. If you download this program, you will have to manually run it in order for it to work its’ magic. There is no install involved (simply download and run). I typically download it and run it at least every couple of weeks. I have had great success with this program over the years and highly recommend it to help keep your computer in a healthy state.

Source: Malwarebytes – AdwCleaner

How can I tell if my Facebook information was shared with Cambridge Analytica?

How can I tell if my info was shared with Cambridge Analytica?

Facebook has a page set up to help you determine if your Facebook data was compromised by Cambridge Analytica (which was used to influence people during the last Presidential Election). I encourage all Facebook users to do this… VERY IMPORTANT!

Click the source link below to go directly to the Facebook Help Center: 

Source: How can I tell if my information was shared with Cambridge Analytica? | Facebook Help Center

Use Facebook Messenger? You won’t believe how they track you | Komando.com

Facebook is like candy. You develop a sweet tooth for it and can’t put it down. Like the internet in its’ entirety, there is a good side and a bad side. Recently, Facebook has been subject to quite a few inquiries on what information it collects and what it does (and has done) with that information. If you are a Facebook user there is high probability your personal information (profile) has been compromised (data mined) and used for (maybe sold) for unscrupulous purposes. Below (click on the source link below), an article by Kim Komando, is some more information coming out on how the Messenger component of Facebook is being used to track you. In the end, including myself, if you use Facebook, you have been revealed; whether it is posting photos, jokes, your opinions, your cuddly animals; we all have been revealed and compromised… I am especially disturbed on how Facebook is and has been used as a propaganda tool to lead politically influenced lemmings off a cliff with misleading information that has fed people’s minds of mistruths that ultimately has changed the profile of our entire country. In a sense, as much as I love the idea behind Facebook, it has caused damage to our country, as a whole; and, what I find is people either people do not understand the magnitude of all of this or they just plain don’t care. Anyhow, click on the link below to learn more from Kim Komando…

 

Embattled, bruised and bloodied but the hits just keep on coming for Facebook, aren’t they? In the shadow of the Cambridge Analytica hubbub…

Source: Use Facebook Messenger? You won’t believe how they track you | Komando.com

If You Have A “MyFitnessPal” Account, Change Your Password. Here’s Why…

On March 25th (2018) MyFitnessPal discovered that a data breach had occurred. MyFitnessPal is a very popular online Free calorie counter and diet plan. If you have an account, you should have received an email about the breach and what steps to take. The most important step to take is to change your password. I learned about the breach (in the news); but, mostly through LastPass, the password manager that I use.


If you have other accounts where you use the same password or similar information, I highly recommend you change those passwords, as well; and, monitor those accounts for any suspicious information. Over the years I have seen folks use the same password for a multitude of their accounts.

According to MyFitnessPal, the affected information included usernames, email addresses, and hashed passwords. Reportedly the breach occurred sometime in February.

LastPass Tips For Maintaining Your Passwords:

Unique account, unique password: Creating strong and unique passwords for every account is the best first step to protecting yourself against a breach. Use a password generator to create passwords for you. Unique passwords ensure that a breach at one website doesn’t result in a stolen account at another.

Protect your email: If a hacker has access to your email account, they can use password resets at most sites to get into other accounts. Consider creating an alternate email address for online signups. And be sure to turn on multi-factor authentication for your email account. That way someone will need to get your email credentials and have access to your phone in order to truly get into your email account.

Give fake answers to security questions: You know those silly security questions companies ask you so you can “prove” who you are? Don’t give real answers. Use the password generator to create random answers that you can then store in LastPass. Just add it to the “notes” section for any website login stored in LastPass.

SOURCE: LastPass and MyFitnessPal

Download Malwarebytes AdwCleaner – MajorGeeks

Malwarebytes AdwCleaner is a “must have” application to help keep on your computer from being infected.  You will need to routinely run this software to help keep your computer in good shape.

Malwarebytes AdwCleaner is a free anti-malware app that deletes adware, PUP’s, toolbars, and browser hijackers. Video tutorial available. It specializes in removing adware, PUP/LPI (Potentially Undesirable Program), toolbars, and hijackers.

Source: Download Malwarebytes AdwCleaner – MajorGeeks

Browse on your Android devices like no one is watching…

Here is an Android app, called Firefox Focus, that I highly recommend for your Android-based smartphone, tablet, and Chromebook. Firefox Focus, built by the same maker (Mozilla) as the Firefox browser, has been engineered for our Android mobile devices with privacy, safety, and security in mind. When you browse with Firefox Focus it automatically will block a wide range of online trackers; AND, will automatically erase your history, passwords, and cookies (which, by the way, is the method used to bombard you with unwanted ads). I use this browser a lot, to supplement my regular browser when I am shopping on the internet to prevent the cookies from haunting me with ads. The install on this is small (less than 3 MB) and works great on all Android devices, including the Chromebooks that support Android app installations.


SOURCE: Google Play Store – Firefox Focus: The Privacy Browser

Don’t get fooled this Christmas, because the scammers are still hard at it…

Saw the graphic below on the website, NakedSecurity, and felt compelled to remind the readers here on the blog that the scammers will not let up and will take advantage of any opportunity (such as Christmas) to trick and rob people. One very common scam is the phone call you answer from a person who claims they are tech support from Microsoft and want to fix a problem they detected with your computer. Please do not fall for this… Hang up on them and do not proceed with any conversation. Most of the time if they know they have a live number and person, they will relentlessly call back (often with a different scam).

To protect yourself, do the following: Most of us have voicemail or an answering machine. Let all your calls ring through. If you have caller ID, only answer the calls from numbers you are absolutely sure about. Even the phone numbers that may appear to be legit (i.e. from your area code) can be masked to look like a local number. I know this may sound extreme; but, this is how bad this problem is.

Also, there are poisoned websites out there that will prompt you to call a number to fix your computer. It is the same deal, they will scam you for money to fix a problem that does not exist. Bottomline is to avoid all solicitations by phone, computer, email, etc…

“Boiler rooms full scammers would make cold call after cold call, ploughing day and night through lists of phone numbers to scare victims into paying up for technical support they didn’t need for malware infections they didn’t have.”.

SOURCE: NakedSecurity – Watch out – fake support scams are alive and well this Christmas

How To Reveal The Password Behind Those Asterisks

Over a period of time you most likely auto login to most sites due that your browser saves and auto inserts the username and password for you. The password is typically not revealed; instead you will see a row of dots or asterisks. The problem I have seen people do when they auto login; especially over long periods of time, is that they will forget the password or where they wrote the password down.

If you ever get into that situation, one solution is to download and run “Asterisk Password Spy”. Asterisk Password Spy works on wide range of platforms starting from Windows XP to new Windows 10 and can help you to easily find (and record) the passwords from any Windows based application.

Here is how to use Asterisk Password Spy:

  • Launch AsteriskPasswordSpy on your system
  • Now simply drag the ‘search icon’ to any password box to reveal the passwords.
  • When you place it over the password box, it will automatically highlight it and password is added to list as shown in the screenshot below.
  • Finally you can save all recovered password list to HTML/XML/CSVfile by clicking on ‘Export’ button and then select the type of file from the drop down box of ‘Save File Dialog’.

SOURCE: SecurityXploded – Asterisk Password Spy

Want to compress a bunch of documents into a single encrypted file for archiving?

If so, take a look at BCArchive… This FREE program is specifically designed to compress a group of files/folders to a single encrypted file that is password protected.  I like the idea that, after installing, you can activate BCArchive from the Explorer file menu, which comes in real handy when you need to protect and archive files on the fly. Always keep in mind that when you password protect the file archive, to remember the password.

BCArchive is compatible with Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7/8/10 (32-Bit/64-Bit)…

To give you an idea how good this program is, here is a list of the options:

  • Create Compressed and Encrypted Archive File Protected by Password
  • Create Compressed and Encrypted Archive File by Using the Public Key of Another User
  • Add Several Passwords to an Existing Archive File
  • Apply more than one Public Key to an Archive File Enabling a Number of Users to Decrypt the Archive
  • Generate New or Use Existing Secret/Public Key Pairs in PKCS-12/X.509 Format
  • Compress and Encrypt Data to a Self-extracted Executable Program
  • Synchronize, Import, Export Functions
  • Includes BCTextEncoder Utility

SOURCE: Jetico – BCArchive

FREE Security and Optimization Software That I Use To Protect My Computer(s)

I have been doing computers since the 1980’s. During that timespan of nearly 40 years I have never paid for antivirus software. As a matter of fact, when I purchase a new computer, one of the first things I do is remove the pre-installed security software (such as Norton or McAfee’s). I have found that these security software packages cause more headaches than they are worth; are a resource burden to the computer; require annual subscriptions, and are so embedded into the Windows registry and system that you have to use special uninstallers to remove them. One important point I do want to make is that if you ever decide to remove the current antivirus or antimalware software from your computer, make sure you visit the software developer’s site to determine if they have a special uninstaller you can download to remove the software.  If you don’t do this, you are at risk of leaving remnants behind of the software that can impact the continued operation of the computer and may conflict with any other security software that you install. For your convenience, here is a resource at eset (click here) that will help you with uninstalling security software.

What I have found that is that you can protect yourself with applying common sense and using good free security and optimization software. There are numerous options out there (for FREE), but the list below is the software programs that I use to protect my computers:

CCleaner – the number-one tool for cleaning your PC. It protects your privacy and makes your computer faster and more secure! Make sure you download the FREE version.

BitDefender FREE – featuring virus scanning (and removal), advanced threat detection, anti-phlishing, and anti-fraud. After uninstalling your other antivirus software and you install Bitdefender FREE, you will be asked to set up an account. Once done that task, you are good to go.  You do not have to do anything after that and as a matter of fact, you will forget it is even there.

Malwarebytes FREE – is a next-generation antivirus replacement. The first of its kind for home users, Malwarebytes for Windows employs four independent technology modules—anti-malware, anti-ransomware, anti-exploit, and malicious website protection—to block and remove both known and unknown threats. The FREE version does not auto monitor your computer. What I do is routinely scan my computer using Malwarebytes sort of as a second opinion and to complement BitDefender FREE.  If I were to buy software to protect my PC, then I would buy the Malwarebytes Premium edition.

AdwCleaner – is another product from Malwarebytes that is FREE. AdwCleaner does not monitor your computer in the background. Simply download, run, and scan on a routine basis to search for and remove adware, unwanted toolbars, potentially unwanted programs (PUPs), and browser hijackers.

Avira Safe Shopping – is a FREE browser add-on for Google Chrome that will alert you to sites that are criminal in nature by highlighting infected sites directly in your search results to ensure you know which sites are harmful before you click. Avira Safe Shopping is your browser extension, which ensures your safety and privacy while shopping online, and provides you with better deals from secure websites.

The list above is my personal preference and has served me very well in protecting my computers. Please feel free to comment below and reflect any other security software (for FREE) that you would recommend.


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Naked Security: Advising Us To Stop Using The Android Unlock Pattern To Secure Phone (to easy to crack)

How many of you are using an unlock pattern to secure your device? In a nutshell: it is far easier for an attacker to shoulder surf a pattern than a PIN.

A new report (PDF) from security researchers at the US Naval Academy and the University of Maryland Baltimore County has quantified just how absurdly easy it is to do an over-the-shoulder glance that accurately susses out an Android unlock pattern…. READ MORE


SOURCE: Naked Security

MiniTool Shadow Maker FREE – Quickly back up system and hard disk drives in case an accident happens…

These days, compared to yesteryear, there is a multitude of good options to perform a Windows Operating System, selected partitions, and even the whole disk backup (often referred to as disk imaging).

One of the newer options that I recently was made aware of is “MiniTool Shadow Maker FREE”. I like the software that MiniTool develops and will be keeping an eye on (and testing) their rendition of this disk shadowing software. The purpose of this software is to provide you with an exact copy of your Windows OS that will allow you to restore your computer once a disaster occurs (and it eventually will). Disasters like a  system crash, hard drive failure, and more.

MiniTool ShadowMaker offers straightforward solutions to deal with all kinds of backup tasks, including system backup and disk backup. These backups contain exactly the same copy of all the data stored on the original disk or partition. Such backups allow you to recover your computer to the normal state when Windows works incorrectly or partition data get lost.

Main Features of MiniTool ShadowMaker

  • System and Disk Backup
  • Schedule and Event Trigger Backup
  • Differential and Incremental Images
  • Bare Metal Recovery and Universal Restore
  • WinPE Bootable media builder and PXE server
  • Password Protection and AES Encryption

SOURCE: MiniTool ShadowMaker Free 1.0

CCleaner was hacked and used to deliver malware to unsuspecting computers and Android devices…

This morning I am catching up on the tech news and the one thing that is jumping out at me is the news that CCleaner was hacked and used to deliver malware to unsuspecting computers and Android devices. I drilled down on this more and based on information from Piriform (the developers of CCleaner), a suspicious activity was identified on September 12th, 2017, where Piriform saw an unknown IP address receiving data from software found in version 5.33.6162 of CCleaner, and CCleaner Cloud version 1.07.3191, on 32-bit Windows systems. Based on further analysis, they found that the 5.33.6162 version of CCleaner and the 1.07.3191 version of CCleaner Cloud was illegally modified before it was released to the public.

All CCleaner users are encouraged to update their CCleaner software to version 5.34 or higher. The latest version is available for download from here.

CCleaner has been around for years and years and is a “go to” utility that is used by millions to clean and optimize their PC’s in order to protect their privacy and make things faster. I personally have used it for many years.


SOURCE: Piriform Blog – Security Notification for CCleaner v5.33.6162 and CCleaner Cloud v1.07.3191 for 32-bit Windows users

FREE Drive Wiping Tool To Erase All Data With No Method Of Recovery

Getting rid of an old computer? Before handing that old computer over to someone else, you may want to consider using “MiniTool Drive Wipe Free” to remove all data from the computer. Deleting your personal files is not enough. There are third party software utilities, readily available on the internet, that will let anyone recover deleted files. By using “MiniTool Drive Wipe Free” to wipe the drive, there is no method of recovery.

Wiping is the process of continuously writing some specific data to a hard disk or partition so as to overwrite original data stored on the disk or partition. Once wiping is completed, original data can not be recovered by any data recovery method.

To effectively carry out this operation I would remove the drive from the old computer and put it in a drive docking station such as the Sabrent USB 3.0 to SATA External Hard Drive Lay-Flat Docking Station. This docking station is inexpensive and will work with 2.5 or 3.5in HDD or SSD drives. Once the drive is in the docking station, connect it to a workable Windows computer and use the “MiniTool Drive Wipe Free” software to “wipe the disk” that is in the external docking station. After performing this operation, you can safely reinstall the hard drive back into the old computer and do with it what you want (i.e. donate it, recycle it, give to a friend, sell, etc…)


SOURCE: MiniTool Drive Wipe Free

We use Facebook as a tool to connect, but there are those people who use that connectivity for malicious purposes…

Since I started using Facebook, I am seriously looking at the security and privacy ramifications that we expose ourselves to when we do social networking (such as Facebook). With that being said, I encourage you to read “4 Ways to Crack a Facebook Password & How to Protect Yourself from Them“.

You will see more postings, from me, in the future in regards to Facebook vs. Security and Privacy, as an effort to help protect ourselves from that element of our society who prey on honest people.

Crystal Security – A cloud-based system that detects and removes malicious programs (malware)…

Crystal Security, a cloud-based system that detects and removes malicious programs (malware), is new to me. I am currently testing the portable version and so far the interface part looks great (user friendly). The detection engine, from I am can tell, is based on data gathered from millions of participating users systems around the world to help defend against the very latest viruses and malware attacks.

Due to not being familiar with Crystal Security, at this point, I will continue to test and use it solely as a troubleshooting application to inform when the possibility of malware exists. If you are familiar with Crystal Security, I would like to hear your experience with this. I do like the idea that there is a portable (no install) option.

I do recommend that you know what you are doing when using applications, such as this; so as not to cause accidental havoc to your PC.


SOURCE: Crystal Security

US-CERT warns users to remain vigilant for malicious cyber activity seeking to capitalize on interest in Hurricane Harvey…

In light of hurricane Harvey, I pulled the information below in this blog post directly from the US-Cert website and the FTC website warning people to be cautious when responding to emails that may contain links or attachments that direct user to phishing or malware-infected websites.

From my experience, when life events occur of great magnitude, there is an element of our global society that will try to take advantage of people. This element of people will try to scare, intimidate, scam and rob you via electronic means; whether it be by phone, email, SMS messaging and even Facebook. My motto in our electronic world is “Believe Nothing, Verify Everything”. Just because it looks legit or a friend posted it, make sure you verify it.

I encourage you to read the article below by Colleen Tressler, Consumer Education Specialist, FTC to educate yourself about scammer’s exploiting people when tragedy occurs.

Wise giving in the wake of Hurricane Harvey
August 28, 2017
by Colleen Tressler
Consumer Education Specialist, FTC

It’s heartbreaking to see people lose their lives, homes, and businesses to the ongoing flooding in Texas. But it’s despicable when scammers exploit such tragedies to appeal to your sense of generosity.

If you’re looking for a way to give, the FTC urges you to be cautious of potential charity scams. Do some research to ensure that your donation will go to a reputable organization that will use the money as promised.

Consider these tips when asked to give:

  • Donate to charities you know and trust with a proven track record with dealing with disasters.
  • Be alert for charities that seem to have sprung up overnight in connection with current events. Check out the charity with the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, or GuideStar.
  • Designate the disaster so you can ensure your funds are going to disaster relief, rather than a general fund.
  • Never click on links or open attachments in e-mails unless you know who sent it. You could unknowingly install malware on your computer.
  • Don’t assume that charity messages posted on social media are legitimate. Research the organization yourself.
  • When texting to donate, confirm the number with the source before you donate. The charge will show up on your mobile phone bill, but donations are not immediate.
  • Find out if the charity or fundraiser must be registered in your state by contacting the National Association of State Charity Officials. If they should be registered, but they’re not, consider donating through another charity.

To learn more, go to Charity Scams. For tips to help you prepare for, deal with, and recover from a severe weather event, visit Dealing with Weather Emergencies.


SOURCE(S): US-CERT – Potential Hurricane Harvey Phishing Scams AND Federal Trade Commission – Wise giving in the wake of Hurricane Harvey

Control, Protect and Secure Your Google Account Information, ALL IN ONE PLACE

If you have a Gmail (Google) account you need to bookmark the link provided below that gets you to a dashboard (called “My Account”) that gives you quick access to settings and tools that let you safeguard your data, protect your privacy, and decide how your information can make Google services work better for you. You can even use the dashboard to help find your phone if you lose it; or,  to see how much Google Drive space you have left.

Many Gmail (Google) account users are unfamiliar with this dashboard. I highly recommend that you put this one on your bookmark list and periodically visit the dashboard site to review your settings.

From the “My Account” dashboard you can manage (and control) things such as:

Sign-in and Security – Control your password and Google Account access (Signing in to Google, Device activity & security events and Connected apps & sites).

Personal Info and Privacy – Manage your visibility settings and the data we use to personalize your experience (Your personal info, Manage your Google activity, Ads Settings and Control your content).

Account Preferences – Set language, accessibility, and other settings that help you use Google (Language & Input Tools, Accessibility, Your Google Drive storage and Delete your account or services)

Security Checkup – Protect your account in just a few minutes by reviewing your security settings and activity.

Privacy Checkup – A quick checkup to review important privacy settings and adjust them to your preference.

Find Your Phone – Whether you forgot where you left it or it was stolen, a few steps may help secure your phone or tablet.

My Activity – Discover and Control the data that’s created when you use Google Services.


SOURCE: Google – My Account

Anytime someone asks you to pay money to get money, stop and think twice…

An example of where someone asks you to pay money to get money is reflected in a recent FTC Alert where a scammer poses as a government official to get you to send them money. I encourage you to read more below to see how this scam works.

The scammers in this instance are pretending to be calling from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). According to reports, callers are telling people they’ve been selected to receive a $14,000 grant from NIH. To get it, though, callers tell people to pay a fee through an iTunes or Green Dot card, or by giving their bank account number.

If you get a call like this from someone asking you to pay money to get money; STOP, and hang up the phone. The federal government will not call you to give you a grant. NIH does give grants to researchers, but they have to apply for them, and those grants are for public purposes, not for personal use.

Again, as I have recommended in the past when receiving a telephone call do not answer the phone unless you can positively identify the number. If you do not recognize the number, let it ring through to voicemail. Once a scammer has a live person on the phone, even if you do hang up, there is a high probability that you will be called again, for the same scam or for a different one.


SOURCE: Federal Trade Commission – Scammers impersonate the National Institutes of Health

You Need To Read This If You Are A Tax Preparer

The Internal Revenue Service, state tax agencies and the tax industry today warned tax professionals to be alert to a new phishing email scam impersonating tax software providers and attempting to steal usernames and passwords.

This sophisticated scam yet again displays cybercriminals’ tax savvy and underscores the need for tax professionals to take strong security measures to protect their clients and protect their business. This is the time of year when many software providers issue software upgrades and when tax professionals are working to meet the Oct. 15 deadline for extension filers… READ MORE


SOURCE: Internal Revenue Service – Security Summit Alert: Tax Pros Warned of New Scam to Steal Their Passwords

Google Chrome Browser Extension – Avira Safe Shopping

I first saw Avira Safe Shopping Chrome Browser extension at Major Geeks and decided to give it a spin. The Avira Safe Shopping browser extension is an extension developed by Avira, whom you may recognize as one of the leading makers of Avira Antivirus or predominantly now known as Avira Free Security Suite. I was skeptical at first after installing this extension, but once I discovered what it can do, it is a keeper in my book.

Once installed you will see a red shopping cart icon with a check mark in the cart. If you visit any site, you can click on the icon to determine if the site is safe, how many trackers were blocked and how many ads were blocked. If you perform a Google Search this extension will place a green check mark next to the sites Avira deem safe.  Also, discovered this worked with Bing, as well.

Where the real power in this extension is when you are shopping for something. For example, I am an avid Amazon shopper and if I bring up a product in Amazon, the Avira Safe Shopper will display a bar at the top of the browser displaying a comparative best deal and other offers (at other sites).

After briefly exploring the Avira Safe Shopper Chrome browser extension, I am going to keep this extension active to see what kind of mileage I get out of it. Give it a try, you have nothing to lose and may actually help you save some money.


SOURCE: Major Geeks – Avira Safe Shopping for Chrome

Kaspersky’s Antivirus For FREE Soon Rolling Out

I have known Kaspersky’s Antivirus to be one of the best when it comes to computer security (however, at a price — not FREE). Soon you will be able to get a baseline version of Kaspersky’s Antivirus for FREE. This new development by Kaspersky’s (according to ZDNet) is apparently in light of the U.S. Government removing Kaspersky Lab from two lists of approved vendors used by government agencies to purchase technology equipment. Apparently, this is amid concerns the Russian-based company’s products could be used by the Kremlin to gain entry into United States networks.

The removal of Kapersky’s from the vendors list follows the accusations from US intelligence agencies that Russia hacked into Democratic Party emails, thus helping Donald Trump to election victory, despite President Vladimir Putin proclaiming his country has never engaged in hacking activities, but some “patriotic” individuals may have.

Ok, now that you have digested this, is it safe to install the free version of Kaspersky’s on our home-based computer systems? Personally, I am not installing it and will stick to the free version of BitDefender; however, if you are interested in the FREE version, click on the source link below to monitor for its’ release. Reportedly, the free version will rollout to the U.S. first…

If you do opt to give this a try, make sure you remove (uninstall) any antivirus software that is currently existing on your computer. Typically, to remove antivirus software, it is best practices to visit the website of the product and look for an uninstaller that will completely and safely remove the antivirus software from your PC.

SOURCE: Kaspersky’s Antivirus FREE

 

Malwarebytes Labs Explain The “Dark Web” AKA: “Deep Web”

I encourage you visit the source link below to learn about the “Dark Web” (aka: Deep Web). Did you know that only 5% of the Web is easily accessible to the general public and that many other sites can only be visited if you have a direct URL. I often referred to the “Dark Web” here on the blog as the underbelly of the internet…

Before you go to read the article (which is very interesting), you need to learn some terminology:

  • Surface Web is what we would call the regular World Wide Web that is indexed and where websites are easy to find.
  • The Deep Web is the unindexed part of the Web. Actually, anything that a search engine can’t find.
  • The Dark Web is intentionally hidden, anonymous, and widely known for illicit activities.

Explained: the Dark Web

SOURCE: Malwarebytes Labs – Explained: the Dark Web

Bitdefender Home Scanner – A free tool that scans your Wi-Fi network, maps devices and identifies and highlights network security flaws…

With all of the wireless devices in our daily lives we often forget about them, how many, the potential security risks, etc… Bitdefender is taking an approach to help make our wi-fi world safe by offering a free tool that scans your Wi-Fi network, maps devices and identifies and highlights network security flaws … After you download, install and run Bitdefender Home Scanner you will be prompted to set up a Bitdefender account (which is free). If you need more information about this tool, prior to installing, CLICK HERE to see the User Guide…

Bitdefender Home Scanner is able to detect any wireless device that is turned on and connected to your home network. Wireless devices can either be smart home devices such as baby monitors, WiFi cameras, games consoles, smart TVs, but also Windows, Macs, iOS and Android-based devices.

SOURCE: Bitdefender Home Scanner

Dsynchronize – Sync And Backup Your Data With This Free Program

I currently use Dsynchronize at work and at home to back up (and sync) my files. To learn how to use Dsynchronize, I suggest you set up a small test environment to practice using the program. It is very easy to use, once you get the hang of it. The thing that fascinates me with the program is that it is very fast. I have been using Dsynchronize for several years and it has never let me down.

Dsynchronize is FREE and is a standalone program (portable app) that requires no installation…

SOURCE: Dsynchronize

FREE Protection Against 99% Of Ransomware (including new strains such as Petya/NotPetya)

Wow, these ransomware events (or attacks) are causing havoc worldwide. The most recent attack is Petya (see below) where it will encrypt the files on your computer and hold your computer for ransom. Very important that you keep your computers patched with current Windows updates and security software updates.

Ransomware is alarmingly quick – Ransomware takes between five and 20 minutes to encrypt every relevant file on the average hard drive (depending on the speed of the machine and the number of files). That means that even the slowest, single-threaded ransomware can encrypt several potentially important files in seconds. Since ransomware works quickly, detection and response time is of the utmost importance, which may be problematic for certain behavioral-detection solutions.

I am seeing many of the leading security software companies coming out with various products to protect against ransomware. Big money in this… If you want something FREE that will add a level of protection to your computer, give Cybereason RansomFree a look. In a nutshell, this software uses a unique behavioral approach in detecting and blocking ransomware at the entry points where ransomware typically initiates the encryption process. When the program detects ransomware activity, it suspends the activity and displays a pop-up message warning you about an imminent attack. You will then have the option to easily stop the attack by making just one mouse click.

SOURCE: Cybereason RansomFree

Spybot – Search and Destroy Portable 2.6 Has Been Released By PortableApps.com

Get the new release of Spybot – Search & Destroy, portable version, at PortableApps.com. Great addition to your tech toolbox…

Spybot – Search & Destroy detects and removes spyware, a relatively new kind of threat not yet covered by common anti-virus applications. Spyware silently tracks your surfing behaviour to create a marketing profile for you that is transmitted without your knowledge to the compilers and sold to advertising companies.

SOURCE: PortableApps.com – Spybot – Seach & Destroy

NEW Firefox Focus For Android

Firefox Focus takes web browsing to another level in the protection of your security and privacy. Firefox Focus can be used as a standalone browser or as a content blocker for Safari on supported iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices; and NOW, it is available for the Android platform.

 Firefox Focus: Private Browser- screenshot

AUTOMATIC PRIVACY

Blocks a wide range of common Web trackers without any settings to set

Easily erases your history — no passwords, no cookies, no trackers

BROWSE FASTER

By removing trackers and ads, Web pages may require less data and load faster

MADE BY MOZILLA

We believe everyone should have control over their lives online. That’s what we’ve been fighting for since 1998.

SOURCE: Google Play – Firefox Focus

Geek Squeak #17-020: An Advanced Users’ Malware Killer

Curious if any of the folks out there with technical expertise have ever used RogueKiller? I typically go to Malwarebytes AntiMalware; however, I see RogueKiller has pretty darn good reviews.  The main point that jumps out at me is that RogueKiller is for advanced users (see video below)…

Roguekiller is a popular and an effective tool to remove some stubborn malware but be warned; you better know what you’re doing. While a lot of more well-known tools will only scan and delete for you, this tool will show you everything it finds that is a possible problem. You need to know what to remove and what not to remove, or you could delete something you want, or need. Your results may vary, but just use caution and do your homework before removing anything or ask someone who is computer savvy.

SOURCE: Major Geeks -RogueKiller 12.11.1.0


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These 7 Tips (from Kim Komando) Will Help You Master Facebook

I love Kim Komando’s tech column at USAToday and find her posted information very useful and on the same parallel to my blog when it comes to assisting home-based computer users.

Kim recently posted an article, “These 7 tips will help you master Facebook” that you should read, if you are an advocate of Facebook. In all honesty, I do not care for Facebook; however, I do care about the safety and security of people (which has been my lifelong profession as a law enforcement (and security) officer and computer info specialist).

The one tip that Kim posted in this article that jumps out at me, in regards to your safety and security, is the tip “Find out where you are logged in”… Many Facebook users (carelessly) log into multiple devices, often at multiple locations, and keep their Facebook pages open in order to “conveniently” access their account without having to log in. The upside to this is user convenience; however, the downside to this is you are setting yourself up to have your account compromised, which could result in devastating consequences.

To see if your account is open on other devices and locations, here is how (as Kim Komando pointed out) to determine that:

Just to go to Settings >> Security Settings >> Where You’re Logged In, and you’ll find a list of devices that are currently accessing your Facebook account. The feature also lists login metadata, such as when and where you last checked in, plus the type of device you used. Keep in mind that cell phones sometimes show weird locations, which may refer to a cell phone tower and not necessarily to where you were standing at the time.

Facebook

That said, if your login information looks a little fishy, it’s possible your account has been compromised. It’s best to lock down access before this even happens.

Kim Komando is a consumer tech columnist for USA TODAY. She also hosts the nation’s largest radio show about the digital lifestyle, heard on 435 stations in the USA and globally on American Forces Radio. Find your local radio station, get the podcast and more at Komando.com.

SOURCE: USAToday – Kim Komando


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Using Minitools Partition Wizard To Extend The System Reserve Partition

… and, SEE MORE GREAT GEEK SQUEAKS’ BELOW

Ran into an issue when I went to upgrade my Minix NEO Z83-4  mini PC to the Windows 10 Creators Edition. The update would not install and I kept getting Windows error code (0xc1900200) when using the  Windows Update Assistant. I ended up researching the issue and found that the “System Reserve Partition” (64MB) was too small. I decided at this point to wait until the update made its’ rollout to my computer (to see what would happen) and when that day did come, the update started to install but soon failed. After concluding I needed to find a way to expand the system reserve partition, I went to the MiniTools Partition Wizard (free edition). What I ended up doing with this partition tool, to make the System Reserve Partition larger in size, had me sweating bullets. I backed up my computer, just in case this did not work out as intended.

MiniTool Partition Manager

In a nutshell, I used the Minitool Partition Wizard to delete an unidentified 16MB partition on the drive (which I had to do in order for this to work), then took 250 MB from drive C:.  I then took the 64MB System partition and added the 16MB space from the partition I had deleted and added the 250MB that I removed from Drive C:, giving me a total of approximately 330MB for the System Reserve Partition. At this point, I crossed my fingers (and toes) and rebooted.  The PC rebooted with no errors or problems detected.

Since the Creators Update had attempted to install previously I went into the Windows Update Settings, clicked on “Check For Updates” and the Windows 10 Creator’s Update started the installation process (which is a time consuming process with numerous reboots). I probably could have used the Windows Update Assistant tool to download and install the update, as well… In the end,  I was able sucessfully to install the Windows 10 Creators Update.

Hopefully, as a result of expanding the System Reserve Partition, using MiniTools Partition Wizard, I will not have to worry about doing this again when future major updates occur.


MORE GREAT GEEK SQUEAKS’

Multiple security holes discovered in Linksys routers – 

The flaws could allow attackers to:

  • Cause a Denial of Service (DoS) by sending requests to an unamed API. Admins would be locked out until the attack stopped.
  • Use CGI web server scripts to reveal connected devices and computers, dump the WPS Wi-Fi PIN code, and list firmware version and configuration settings.
  • Create a hidden “backdoor” account with root privileges and the ability to run commands.

Source: Naked Security

Ingenious Ways to Repurpose Your Old Tech – Check out this article at PC Mag that provided ingenius ways to repurpose your old tech… READ MORE

Ingenious Ways to Repurpose Your Old Tech

Kaspersky System Checker 1.1.0.228 – Kaspersky System Checker is a handy system diagnostics utility that allows you to check your PC system for different kinds of issues. The software then provides a detailed report about possible threats, hardware problems, and system-related issues… READ MORE

Microsoft To-Do: the end of Wunderlist – Microsoft launched a preview of To-Do, a new cross-platform task management service the other day that is “designed to make it easy to plan and manage your day”… READ MORE

microsoft to-do

 #1 Hot New Release – Samsung Chromebook Plus Convertible Touch Laptop… READ MORE

How to create a single-column Start menu in the Windows 10 Creators Update – To do this, open the Settings app and go to Personalization > Start. Scroll down past the preview to the list of on/off sliders. Turn off the one that’s labeled Show app list in Start menu. Don’t worry, you’ll still be able to get to your app list… READ MORE

———————————————————

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Microsoft Patches MS-Word Exploit That Spreads Malware

On the same day Microsoft officially began rolling out the Creators Update for Windows 10, they were also rolling out a patch for a zero-day exploit (that spreads malware) for all current Microsoft Office versions used on every Windows operating system (including the latest Office 2016 running on Windows 10). If you are running Microsoft Office at home, make sure you have installed the patch. To learn more, click on the source link below…

All versions of Office on all versions of Windows are vulnerable to this zero-day that spreads malware, so make sure you patch quickly

Source: Microsoft patches Word zero-day booby-trap exploit – Naked Security

Was Informed That A New Version Of Malwarebytes Has Been Released

In discussion with a computer geek friend of mine he indicated that Malwarebytes has a new version out (v3.0). I further confirmed this and learned that a new version was released on and about March 20, 2017. Based on what I am reading on their blog (for this release) — CLICK HERE — the excitement over this release is that it is being touted as a next generation anti-virus replacement and will be called only Malwarebytes.

Once you download and install you will be entitled to a 14 day free trial. If you desire to revert to the FREE edition now and turn “off” the free trial, simply click on the “settings” (at the left side) and then click on “my accounts”, then turn off the trial under “subscription details”. If you decide to stick with the free edition, you will need to periodically perform the scans manually.

Malwarebytes is one of the first things I install on a new computer and is my “go to” tool when helping others eradicate malware and other exploits…

This product is built to provide comprehensive protection against today’s threat landscape so that you can finally replace your traditional antivirus.

Our engineers have spent the last year building this product from the ground up and have combined our Anti-Malware, Anti-Exploit, Anti-Ransomware, Website Protection, and Remediation technologies all into a single product which we simply call “Malwarebytes.” And it scans your computer 4 times faster!

mb3

With the combination of our Anti-Malware ($24.95), Anti-Exploit ($24.95) and Anti-Ransomware (free, beta) technologies, we will be selling Malwarebytes 3.0 at $39.99 per computer per year, 20% less than our previous products combined and 33% less than an average traditional antivirus. But don’t worry, if you are an existing customer with an active subscription or a lifetime license to Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, you will keep your existing price and get a free upgrade to Malwarebytes 3.0. If you have both an Anti-Malware and an Anti-Exploit subscription, we will upgrade you to a single subscription to Malwarebytes 3.0, reduce your subscription price and add more licenses to your subscription.

Source: Malwarebytes

RECOMMENDED – Get On The Email List Of The US CERT / US Homeland Security’s Latest Cybersecurity Threat Updates

AKBearfood a visitor to the blog (from Alaska) recommended; “Get On The Email List Of The US CERT / US Homeland Security’s Latest Threat Update & Info E-Mails”. You can CLICK HERE to setup your email subscription.

Based on AKBearfood’s email name and additional employment information that was provided, it appears he (or she) deals with two potential threats that could impact his (or her) well being: 1) – Becoming food for bears; and,  2) Cyber Security Threats…

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Seal. United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team US-CERT

AKBearfood provided the following example of the importance of being on the email list:

As an example, the E-Mail link to their website yesterday covered: Apple Releases Security Update for iWork | US-CERT – found at the following URL: https://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/current-activity/2017/03/27/Apple-Releases-Security-Update-iWork

The e-mail subscription to the Homeland Security Website is free, and for my work group, helps us keep up with the latest threats and fixes recommended by the USA’s Cyber Security folks – at least the threat info that they release to the public without any “hacking” assistance.

The National Cyber Awareness System is America’s first cohesive national cybersecurity system for identifying, analyzing, and prioritizing emerging vulnerabilities and threats. Managed by the US-CERT, the system relays computer security update and warning information to all users. It provides all citizens—from computer security professionals to home computer users with basic skills—with free, timely, actionable information to better secure their computer systems. The National Cyber Awareness System provides valuable cybersecurity information in the form of Alerts, Tips, and Bulletins.

To take this one step further, I have subscribed to the US-Certs National Cyber Awareness System RSS feed and have posted the feed under the blog’s TECH NEWS (see tab at top of blog).  The very first thing you will see in the feeds I have posted is the most recent alerts and documents as distributed by US-Cert / U.S. Homeland Security

A big THANK YOU to AKBearfood…

Top 10 Best Sellers – Antivirus and Security Software

Antivirus software, now often referred to as security (suite) software, due to the innumerable threats, come in a variety of different brands. To get an idea, check out the top ten sellers at Amazon (see source links below).

I personally use a FREE antivirus program called Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition; however, you may feel more comfortable using one of the paid commercial versions such as reflected below.

Antivirus software was originally developed to detect and remove computer viruses, hence the name. However, with the proliferation of other kinds of malware, antivirus software started to provide protection from other computer threats. In particular, modern antivirus software can protect from: malicious browser helper objects (BHOs), browser hijackers, ransomware, keyloggers, backdoors, rootkits, trojan horses, worms, malicious LSPs, dialers, fraudtools, adware and spyware.[2] Some products also include protection from other computer threats, such as infected and malicious URLs, spam, scam and phishing attacks, online identity (privacy), online banking attacks, social engineering techniques, advanced persistent threat (APT) and botnet DDoS attacks. [source: Wikipedia]

#1: Norton Security Deluxe 5 Device PC/Mac

#2: McAfee 2017 Total Protection – 5 Devices [Online Code]

#3: Norton Security Premium – 10 Devices [Download Code]

#4: Norton Security Deluxe – 3 Devices [Download Code]

#5: Kaspersky Internet Security 2017 | 1 Device | 1 Year | Download [Online Code]

#6: Norton Security Standard – 1 Device [Download Code]

#7: Norton Security Deluxe – 5 Devices [Key Card]

#8: McAfee 2017 Total Protection-5 Devices [Key Code]

#9: Webroot Internet Security Complete 2017 | 5 Devices | 1 Year | PC [Download]

#10: Webroot Antivirus 2017 | 3 Devices | 1 Year | PC [Download]

A TIP To Protect Privacy (When sending email to multiple recipients, use “Bcc”.)

The article reflected below I have posted several times since its’ original posting (back in 2010). What prompted me to dust this off and bring it back out of the archives is that today I received a local government generated email to advise recipients of other government agencies of an impending snowstorm.  What caught my attention was that as this email was sent to a very large body of people.  I was able to see every name and email address to folks I am guessing would not want their email address and name made that public. As this email get’s forwarded, more and more email addresses will be revealed. To protect the privacy of others, it is best practice to use “Bcc” when sending email to multiple recipients.

Bcc = Blind Carbon Copy

Did you know that if you use the Bcc field in your email client to address and send an email or want to send a copy of an email to multiple users, the recipients will not see whom you sent the email to?

Many know this trick; however, I still find that many do not. When using the Bcc field to send your emails, the people receiving the email will not know who the other recipients are. It is not a trick of hidden magic. It is that the addresses of the other recipients are simply not shared.

I often receive forwarded chain emails; usually consisting of jokes, humorous movies, prayer requests, etc… Occasionally I will find one these emails humorous or important enough that I will pass it on; HOWEVER, prior to doing this I perform some housecleaning steps.

I will remove any “FWD” text (usually in the subject line) and will remove any email addresses I find in the body of the email that reflects the email addresses of recipients who have already received the email. After performing these housecleaning steps, I will enter into the the Bcc field, in my email client, the recipient’s email addresses, from my address book, to send (or forward) the email. If the email client requires at least one entry in the “To” field, I simply enter my own email address.

The benefits of using the Bcc field is simply this. You are protecting the privacy of other people. Currently I have approximately (5)-five email accounts that I use for specific purposes, from a variety of email services, with one of those accounts being my primary email account. I am very protective of that primary email account address and do not want it thrown about for the spammers to get hold of or for strangers to see. For example, I have found people’s email addresses in forwarded emails that I know and have not seen for years. They are very surprised when I contact them; and, will often ask, “How did you get my email?”. I explain that I simply pulled it from a forwarded email.

Be courteous to others and learn to use the Bcc field in your email; AND, when possible avoid chain emails all together.

Did you know that Google knows almost everything that you do on their services?

You need to see this article that Phandroid has posted (see source link below) that will show you what Google knows about you, how this information is collected, where you can find this information and how you can opt out. Google collects this information, as a form of profiling, in order to better improve their products and services.

You may have already opted out of this collection of information; but, my guess is, you did not.

Did you know that Google knows almost everything that you do on their services? Find out what they know and how you can do something about it.

Source: Here is everything Google knows about you

S10 Password Vault – A Hidden Gem Of A Password Manager

The majority of home based computer users use the same passwords (or easy to remember passwords) for nearly every account that they are subscribed to. Hacker’s (or criminals) know this and take advantage of these facts. If your password is easy to remember, then it is easy to hack.

To make your accounts secure, it is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that you use a password manager to manage your accounts and the passwords associated with them. The “go to” password manager that I use (on all my computers and devices); and, have used since its’ inception is the “S10 Password Vault”. It has never let me down… The main feature I like about this software is that I have total control over my password information at the local level.

S10 Password Vault

There are so many features to the S10 Password Vault that I encourage you to visit the developer’s site by clicking the source link below.S10 Password Vault is available for Windows as a standard installer and as a portable version that allows you to run directly from a USB drive (which then also contains your data file). There is also an “S10 Vault” mobile companion app for iPhone/iPad (in the App Store) and for Android devices (in the Google Play Store and Amazon App Store).

Source: S10 Software – S10 Password Vault

A FREE Synchronization Program That I Am Messing Around With

I have found that using synchronization software is a very easy way for the home based computer user to backup data vs. the full blown backup type software (which can hard to understand for the home computer user). I am currently messing around with the FREE synchronization program called SyncFolders; that, so far in my testing, could end up being my default (go to) backup software for my computers here at home. If you are interested in giving SyncFolders a try, the source link is reflected below. SyncFolders is also available as a portable app.

SyncFolders

SyncFolders main window...

Features of SyncFolders

  • Supports two-way synchronization of files and folders.
  • Can easily be used as backup tool.
  • Shows a preview before the actual synchronization takes place. You can override actions if desired.
  • Detects conflicts or file collisions when a file has changed in both locations since the last sync operation. Therefore, SyncFolders tracks file modifications and deletions in a local database.
  • Propagates deletions and detects file renames.
  • File comparison by date and size or by content.
  • Default actions can be defined in case of synchronization conflicts.
  • Integrates with Windows’ Task Scheduler to support scheduled synchronizations.
  • Supports file and folder filters.
  • Can handle long file names and files of any size.
  • Synchronization from or to UNC paths is supported.
  • Supports multiple synchronization rules in a single rules file.
  • Deleted or overwritten files can be moved to the recycle bin or to a time-stamped history folder.
  • History files can be deleted after a user-defined period.
  • Unlimited number of files.
  • Synchronization from command line.
  • Can ignore one-hour timestamp differences caused by DST switch for synchronization to FAT file systems.
  • Easy-to-use.
  • Unrestricted freeware.
  • No spyware, adware or malware.
  • Portable, although .NET Framework is required.

AxCrypt – File Security Made Easy

If you are concerned about file (and folder) security, AxCrypt 2.0 is good choice in protecting what matters to you. In addition to the full install version, there is a portable version, as well as, a mobile app (for Android and iOS).

AxCrypt works as a separate program in it’s own window, but it’s also fully integrated into the Windows Explorer – the part of Windows where you browse your folders and files. Here is a quick video tutorial on how to use the basic functions of AxCrypt 2.0.

AxCrypt is a simple file encryption software for Windows. It integrates seamlessly with your workflow to encrypt, decrypt, store, send and work with files.

New and Updated Features

  • 256 bit encryption
  • Mobile App for iOS
  • Mobile App for Android
  • Passwordless sharing
  • Portable app for Windows
  • Secured Folders
  • Cloud Service Awareness
  • Password Manager
  • Single sign in for encryption / decryption

Source: AxCrypt – File Security Made Easy

Hyper Crypt | Portable Encryption Software

Looking for a method to protect sensitive files and folders?  If so, Hyper Crypt may be of interest to you (see source link below). Hyper Crypt consists of a standalone (portable) executable file, a pdf manual and an updater that can be run on any Windows computer (Vista and higher)…

hyper-crypt

One thing I noticed that when you encrypt a folder, the files in the folder will appear as they normally would and no copy of the original is left behind. If you attempt to open any of the files, they will not open, due to the encyption. Don’t know if that is good or not, but works for me…

By default if you encrypt a single file, a copy of the original file is left behind; however, there is an option to change that.

Hyper Crypt uses the military-grade AES-256 algorithm for file and folder encryption, along with automatic integrity validation.

With Hyper Crypt, you can easily encrypt any kind of file, from documents, to pictures and videos.

Source: Hyper Crypt | Portable Encryption Software

Nice Uninstaller Directory (and Removal Tool) For Common Windows Antivirus Software

Found this directory (and a removal tool) on the ESET website that may be a valuable resource to you. ESET is a leading IT security company that specializes in various antivirus and security products. If you are interested on trying ESET, there is some good deals on their products (click here)The directory on their support site is what jumped out at me, which outlines various antivirus and security software brands with links to those sites to access instructions and/or tools to uninstall their antivirus software. 

Why is this important? Prior to switching to other brands of antivirus or security products it is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that you uninstall the older version to prevent conflicts, system slowdowns; and even system failures. You may think, “OK, no problem, will use the Windows Program Uninstaller applet in the control panel to do this”. You are on the right track, but the problem with that is the Windows Uninstaller may not capture and uninstall everything; and could leave remnants of files behind that can cause problems. This is where the directory on the ESET website will really come in handy to assist you with the removal of antivirus and security products.

ESET

ALSO, on the same note, I noticed ESET also has a removal tool on the same page that my do the heavy lifting for you in removing an old software product. The ESET AV Remover tool will remove almost any antivirus software previously installed on your system. ALSO, you will find a link for a list of available malware removal tools. 

Source: ESET Support – Uninstallers (removal tools) for common Windows antivirus software

How To Check If Your Google Account Has Been Breached by “Gooligan”

Gooligan is a new malware campaign that has been engineered to infect Android phones by stealing your Google Account Credentials. Anyone who owns a device running Android 4 and 5 that includes Android Jelly Bean, KitKat, and Lollipop — is most at risk  The infection typically occurs via Gooligan infected apps or links in phishing email messages. Once infected, attackers are able to gain access to your sensitive information from Google apps, like Gmail, Drive, Photos, etc… Once attackers hack into the device, they’re buying apps on the Google Play store and writing reviews posing as the phone’s owners. To get the skinny on Googligan please read this article, “More Than 1 Million Google Accounts Breached by Gooligan” at a site called Checkpoint.

To determine if your account has been compromised, go to Checkpoint’s “Gooligan Checker” and enter your Gmail address…

Googligan

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