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Friday, May 19, 2017

How to Remove and Protect Yourself from Ransomware Infection

How to Remove and Protect Yourself from Ransomware Infection

So, you think computer viruses can’t hurt you other than hiding your files and slowing your computer down? Think again. A not-so-new breed of malware called cryptolocker (or ransomware) is currently spreading wildly like forest fires around the world.
One of the most notorious of these ransomware programs is the infamous WannaCry. It uses an exploit in the Windows operating system that has been leaked from the National Security Agency (NSA).
In a nutshell, WannaCry, like all other ransomware, encrypt your important data and files and demands money for your files to be decrypted. Currently, what antimalware programs and ransomware removal tools can do is eliminate the virus—not decrypt your files.

How a Cryptolocker like WannaCry Works

First off, you need to understand that WannaCry is a worm. A worm is a type of computer malware that needs not be installed. The moment you receive a copy of the virus, and you click on it to access it, the virus will have found its way to your computer.

Where do you get it?

There are three ways WannaCry and other cryptolocker viruses are spread:
First, you download it as an attachment to a file or from a website thinking it’s something else. It could disguise itself as a document or as a program. Usually, it will have a misleading extension. Common extensions are JPEG, DOC, and PDF.
Second, it can be spread through storage media. Since it’s a worm, the moment you insert a flash drive, for example, to an infected computer, you’ll get it into that drive. The virus will be transferred to the next unprotected computer that the drive is inserted into.
The third method, which is unique to the WannyCry cryptolocker is self-replication via a network. Purportedly, WannyCry utilizes an exploit in Windows Operating Systems that NSA is allegedly using to access other people's computers remotely.
Once WannaCry infects a computer, it scans for computers within the same network that have the exploit. After it finds such a computer, it replicates itself into that computer.
The thing about this cryptolocker is you don’t know it’s there—it doesn’t manifest itself, at least in ways we know—until it’s finished encrypting all important files. Thus, an infected computer can keep on infecting others while it’s doing its nasty job.

What it does

A cryptolocker encrypts only the important files such as documents, pictures, videos and other files on the computer except for the system files.
The reason it doesn’t encrypt the system files is it wants you to boot and login to your computer so that you know that your files are locked up and that you will want to unlock them.
After the virus is finished encrypting files, it will generate a key to decrypt the files and send the key to a remote server. It will then remove the copy of the key from the computer. This ensures that you won’t have any way of decrypting your files other than playing the ransom and trusting that the malware will download the key and decrypt your files.
You will know that the virus is finished encrypting your files because a window will appear informing you of your demise. The malware will also change your desktop background to an image with more information about the virus.
You can’t close the window the malware opens, but you can click on the next button. Clicking on such a button directs you to a payment process.
Currently, ransomware programs demand 2 bitcoins or 300 hundred dollars. Bitcoin is a preferred payment method, however, since it’s difficult, if not impossible, to trace. After making a payment, the malware is expected to decrypt the files and remove itself.

Is there a guarantee that the malware will decrypt your file after payment?

There is not. The malware is good at encrypting files. That’s what we know so far. Decryption is not always likely. Thus, it is not advisable to pay because you risk yourself from losing to the virus twice.
If you were infected, the most you can do is to remove the virus and discard all encrypted files and move on from there.

How to Protect Yourself from WannaCry and other Ransomware

Encryption is a very advanced technology designed to protect users from access from external sources. The same technology, however, is currently used to harm other people. Currently, there is no simple of decrypting files without the key.
The best way is to protect yourself from getting infected. Here are some tips you can do:

Install All Windows Updates

After hearing about the exploit, Windows immediate released an update for all its operating systems—even the unsupported ones. The problems are not all computers are connected to the Internet, and some computers are on a limited bandwidth or a metered connection.
Thus, not everyone was able to download the update on time. Some computers are still even unpatched.
To date, WannaCry ransomware has infected more than 200,000 computers and placed a great toll on 10,000 organizations in over 150 countries around the world.
Thus, whatever Windows you’re running in, update it. Connect to the Internet, download all updates and install them. This will allow you to download recent updates and fixes and will remove the exploit.

Install an Anti-Malware and Update It Regularly

There are a lot of free anti-malware programs on the Internet today. However, paid antimalware programs are a lot better.
Kaspersky, for instance, is one of the leading antimalware programs that actively upgrade itself periodically to protect your computer from ransomware.
It is also important that you update whatever program you are using to protect yourself from cryptolocker regularly. This ensures that the list and algorithms of your program can detect and remove the malware effectively.

Disable Macros and Scripts in MS Office and Excel

Malware can install themselves and run from MS Office and MS Excel through codes hidden within a file. The incidence of document-based malware is steadily increasing.
Programs attached to documents easily proliferate because they can be sent surreptitiously through legit files. Without an anti-malware program, the malware can easily execute itself in the background and do its nasty job.

Backup

Purchase a storage media like a portable external hard drive and back your data up periodically. That way, when you are hit by a ransomware unprepared, you’ll only lose files and data from the last time you backed up to the present.

Conclusion

A ransomware like WannaCry is designed for self-replication and vulnerability exploit. They can spread uncontrollably without proper protection against it.
Currently, the best way to deal with it is to protect your computer from infection. You can do this by downloading and installing the latest Windows update and by installing and updating an antimalware program like Kaspersky with a paid or premium license.




Monday, September 12, 2016

Pokémon Go Plus to be released Sept. 16, but is it worth your money?

Pokemon Go Plus, the famous game's companion device is set to be released on September 16, 2016.

Finally, the wearable tech that Pokémon Go fans were promised almost a year ago after the game has been launched will be released on September 16, 2016.

A lot of people, avid fans, and critics alike have had issues with the need to keep oneself pinned to the phone’s screen while playing Pokémon Go. For one, it has put many people to danger and has even caused the accidents of some.

Pokémon Go Plus is the game’s companion device designed to enable players to play Pokémon Go with minimal screen interaction. The design of the device is a cross between Google map’s pin and the Poké ball which can either be worn around the wrist (similar to a watch) or pinned to clothes. It can also be stuffed in one’s pocket (preferably, chest pocket).

The Pokémon Go Plus device connects to the phone (and the game) through a low-energy Bluetooth technology (Bluetooth® Smart) that is utilized by health and fitness gadgets and devices.

What the $35-device does is it allows one to catch nearby Pokémons that you already previously caught with just a touch of a button. Similarly, you can just press the device’s button to collect resources from a PokéStop.

Whenever a Pokémon or a PokéStop is nearby, the device lights up and vibrate. If it is a nearby Pokémon similar to one that you already caught, you will have a chance to catch it with just a push of a button. The device will light up notifying you if you successfully caught the Pokémon. The device lights up with a different color for a nearby Pokémon and PokéStop.

While the device allows you to play Pokémon Go and interact with the Pokémon World without having to gaze at your phone's screen constantly, it does not have much of an advantage, however.
It will allow a fast collection of resources from PokéStops since all you need to do is to press a button instead of having to open your phone, flip the PokéStop and manually collect the resources. Most probably, however, you will still check the app on the phone. After all, what good is a Pokémon game if you cannot see the Pokémon you are catching?

Besides catching Pokemon and completing the Pokédex, another great thing about the game is Pokémon Battle. Currently, there is no information whether the device lights up or vibrates whenever there is a nearby gym.

Until the device is officially released and properly evaluated, the best guess for it is that it is only useful as a companion device. The quality of the gaming experience, though can be enhanced by the device, still depends on playing the game through the app and the phone’s screen.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

How to create Apple ID account without credit card

How to create Apple ID account without credit card

Although this is a pretty common issue and has been around for years now, still, others find it difficult to create an Apple ID or sign up for an Apple ID account without a credit card. Most Apple devices are usable without one but the need to create an Apple ID comes up whenever one attempts to download from the App Store app, iBooks app or iTunes Store app.

Others create Apple ID account, in addition to their existing account (or accounts) to download apps or contents that are not offered in their region. They accounts account using another location or country (e.g. UK or US) to bypass the said restriction.

The main problem for that is they cannot download apps without a credit card, hence, they have to provide a payment method with which they have to disclose their billing address—unless of course they know how to make free apple ID without credit card.

Here are some steps on how to make an Apple ID without a credit card:

  1. Open the iBooks app, iTunes Store app or the App Store app on an iPad, iPod touch or an iPhone.
    Downloading a free content from iTunes store to create an Apple ID without a credit card
    Image credits: Apple Inc.
  2. Choose any free book, video, song or app. Some tutorials suggest downloading a free content from the Top Charts. For now, it doesn’t matter whether you download it from the Top Charts or not, as long as it’s free. (Of course, you can always repeat the process and download a free content from the Top Charts if the steps outlined here failed to let you bypass the payment method).
  3. Tap the Get button twice to get the content.
  4. You will be prompted to sign in with an Apple ID. Simple tap Create New Apple ID.(Note: If you already have an Apple ID, and you’ve signed in to Apps Store, iBooks Store or iTunes Store using that ID, you can simply remove the payment method for that account first before starting the steps outlined here. You’d be asked to enter the payment method after you get a content from the stores).
  5. Follow the on screen instructions and supply the necessary information. In the billing information, select None at the bottom of the list provided.
    Selecting None for payment option to create an Apple ID account without credit card
    Image credits: Apple Inc.
  6. You will be prompted to verify you Apple ID account by email.
  7. An email will be sent to the email address you provided during sign up with the code for verification.
  8. After you have successfully verified your Apple ID, you’re now free to use it to download the content that you like.


I hope you find this tutorial on how to create a free Apple ID useful. You can now download apps without credit card. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Meet the first Pokémon Go master to catch all Pokémon

Ahmed Ali is the first Pokémon Go master to catch all pokemon

While you break a sweat, hopping from one place to another and hoping to get ahold of a new Pokémon, someone from the East London has already caught all 145 Pokémons that are currently catchable. He’s earned himself the title of a Pokemon Go master and he’s a proof that it can be done. You better gotta catch ‘em all, then.

Earlier on July, a man from New York was reported to have completed his North American Pokédex by catching all 143 Pokémons that are catchable in the US. He failed to catch the three regional Pokémons that are only catchable outside US: Kangaskhan (Australia and New Zealand), Mr. Mime (Europe) and Farfetch’d (Asia).

Complete North American Pokédex from Pokémon Go with 142 Pokémons

Ahmed Ali, 23, is the first known Pokémon fan and Pokémon Go to have ever caught 145 Pokémons making him the first official Pokémon Go master to have (nearly) caught all Pokémons. Currently, only the first generation Pokémons are said to be catchable in Pokémon Go.

Mewtwo, mew, ditto and the legendary Pokémons Moltres, Articuno and Zapdos are said to be uncatchable this time. Perhaps, you can only try, you’ll never actually gotta catch ‘em all.
Ahmed recently graduated from Queen Mary University with a degree in mathematics. A few months later, the game was officially released to the market and he got the chance to play the game. He has a lot of time doing so because his work doesn’t start yet until September this year.

He was so obsessed, he even flew to places, including America, just to complete his Pokédex. He admitted that while the experience was fun, his parents were displeased and considers what he did an awful waste of time.

Pokémon Go is based on the popular game of Nintendo, Pokémon, with the motto: gotta catch ‘em all. The main goal of the game for now, is to catch all Pokémon. Catching all Pokémon, then, is considered to be a great feat for Pokémon Go players and Pokémon fanatics.

While all rare Pokémons are yet to be offered, either through an event or something similar, 145 is the standard for Pokédex completeness.




Wednesday, August 24, 2016

You won’t need a graphics card with the new Intel Core i7 Processor “Kaby Lake”

The new Intel Core i7 codenamed "Kaby Lake" will redefine and push the limits of gaming and video rendering.
Image credits: DigitalTrends

When one talks about hardcore gaming and video rendering, one cannot take away the need to associate a combination of a powerful CPU and graphics cards. But what if you meet a processor that is so powerful, you will not need a graphics card to decode even a 4K video with ease? Such is the case with the new Intel Core i7 processor codenamed “Kaby Lake”.

The power of the new Intel Core i7 processor was demonstrated at the IDF 2016 San Francisco by the Intel CEO Brian Krzanich on a Dell XPS. Kaby Lake was more than capable of handling a gameplay of Overwatch at maximum settings and display a considerable ease decoding 4K GoPro videos.

Initially, Intel planned on releasing Cannon Lake, the first of their 10nm processors. Such plan was put off for later to give way to the last of the 14nm processors which, by the way, is surprising us with a record-breaking performance.

Integrated graphics chipsets from Intel have failed to give us what we need for years. Although they have been pretty much useful with assisting graphics related tasks, when it comes to hardcore video rendering, a powerful graphics card is still required.

The release of the “Kaby Lake” will put pressure on the advancement of the graphics card technologies. The new Intel Core i7 processor will begin a chain reaction that will push and redefine the boundaries and limits of video rendering and gaming.

As the number of transistors double per square inch each year (Moore’s Law) and as Intel processors transcend the 10nm domain, expect more powerful processors in the future.

The new Intel Core i7 processor will hit the market later this year and is expected to be received by enthusiasts and professionals with extreme anticipation.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

7 Things You Wish You Knew About Pokémon Go

Pokémon Go

Now that you’ve gone all the way up to level 20 (or probably more), wasted a number of poké balls and missed a lot of high CP awesome and rare Pokémons, perhaps it’s time to go back to day 1 and start anew with your stock full of poké wisdom—or so you wish.

Here’s a list of things you regret you never knew when you played Pokémon Go.

You can catch Pikachu as a starter Pokémon. For those who were denied the opportunity to play Pokémon Go when it was released earlier in July (or the beta versions earlier this year), you probably heard this from those who’ve gone before you first. However, for those who were into Pokémon Go the first time it was available, you probably didn’t know that you can have Pikachu as a starter Pokémon after refusing to choose from the three starter Pokémons for four times.

At the start of the game (as all of you may already know), you are given the chance to catch one among the three starter pokémons: Bulbasaur, Charmander, and Squirtle. All you need to do is to run away from these three. If you go far enough, the process resets and you will hear a rustling (or your phone will vibrate) to notify you of the [re]appearance of these Pokémons. You will have to get away from them four to five times to meet Pikachu.
How to select Pikachu as a starter Pokemon

You need an actual strategy to increase the odds of catching high CP Pokémons. Pokémon Go is a game, and all games are bound by internal rules. Fortunately, the odds of catching a Pokémon is governed by those rules as well.
Most players throw poké balls to high CP Pokémons thinking that catch rate is random. Well, it is not. There are many things that you must do to improve your catch rate.

If you throw a pokéball, you will notice a circle in the Pokémon that shrinks as you hold the poké ball longer. If you wait until the circle becomes small enough and throw the ball inside the circle, you will have much-improved chances of catching that Pokémon.

Hatching Pokémon eggs cannot be cheated. Perhaps you are one of those who’ve ridden a bus or train to reach the distance requirement to hatch an egg—and found that it did nothing. Or you’re one of the dumb ones who even tried to get to a treadmill to trick the game into thinking that you are walking. Shame on you.

The game tracks your movement through GPS which means that it knows exactly where you were, where you are going and how fast you are getting there. If you are moving at a speed beyond normal walking, the game will know that and will disregard the distance you have covered.

Biking is a better option than walking provided that you do not bike fast enough.
There are subtle ways to cheat egg hatching, however, but those ways will not be outlined here because they are so filthy bad that you will get yourself banned from the game forever.

You can level up faster by evolving your Pokémons. There are a lot of online resources that discourages evolution until you reach a significantly higher level (say level 20) because they result in high CP pokémons.

You do not want to wait for that much to evolve a Rattata into a Raticate. With a wealth of more awesome pokémons at your disposal, you might not even consider using even your strongest Raticate for gym battles.

Rattata and a lot of other obnoxiously common pokémons (we call them non-primary pokémons) can be evolved for a hefty 500XP. What better way is there to use the spare candies than for evolution?

Another more clever way is to save up those candies and evolve some non-primary pokémons with a lucky egg for 1000XP per evolution. A Pidgey, for example, can give you 1000XP for just 12 candies with a lucky egg.
Bet you do not know this yet.

Saving up the required number of candies is the only way to max evolve a primary Pokémon. Say for example it takes two evolutions to max evolve your Pokémon (second evolution and third evolution); the second evolution requires 25 candies, and the third requires 100 candies, save up 125 before doing both evolutions to max evolve your Pokémon.

The idea is simple, as you catch Pokémon (and do other stuff), you gain experience, and you level up. By the time you saved up the required candies to max evolve a Pokémon, you could have had caught a higher-CP Pokémon than if you have done the evolution earlier.

Say you caught a 1CP Pokémon that requires 15 candies to evolve and another 100 candies to max evolve, if you evolve it to its second evolution early on you will have a low-CP Pokémon to evolve to its third evolution. By the time you have saved up 100 candies, you could have probably met a 100CP Pokémon already.

Holding a gym gives you more of the free stuff. You have probably been used to getting free stuff from poké stops. Here’s what: holding a gym gives you much pokémon currency every day. Provided that you hold the gym for at least a day, that is.

More than giving you the right to brag, holding a gym or supporting one by stationing your pokémon, gives you currency that you can spend on other stuff every day.

Taking over a gym does not end with defeating the leader. This is probably the most common misconception with newbies. A lot of new Pokémon players level up (probably play the game to level up all their waking hours) with the hope of taking on a gym and taking over it after they have had a Pokémon that’s strong enough.

Most probably, however, they have found that it does not work that way. You have to reduce the gym reputation to zero to do that and that requires many battles. That is, if your Pokémon survives the ordeal. The thing is, you must have the means to restore the health of your Pokémons after every battle to do just that.