Online Computer Tips Monthly Newsletter - October 2010
Latest Virus/Security Alerts:
Adobe hits Reader users with 23 patches
Adobe patched 23 security vulnerabilities in its Reader PDF viewer, most of them critical, including one that has been exploited by hackers for at least a month or possibly much longer. The patch job set a record for 2010, and came close to last year's biggest update, a 29-fix collection Adobe shipped in October 2009.
"Adobe is hitting customers with a double whammy today," Andrew Storms, director of security operations at nCircle Security, said via e-mail. "Adobe products continue to be at the top of the target list for malware writers."
The Reader and Acrobat updates also included a patch released more than two weeks ago for Flash, Adobe's media player. Both Reader and Acrobat include code to run Flash embedded in PDF documents. Two of the 23 bugs could be used to crash Reader or Acrobat, while the final vulnerability was a Linux-only issue that could result in an attacker gaining higher levels of access to a machine.
Adobe kicked off a series of technical blog posts about the "sandboxing" technology the company intends to add to the Windows version of Reader sometime this year. Called "Protected Mode" by Adobe, the technology is designed to isolate processes from one another and the rest of the machine, preventing or hindering malware from escaping an application to wreak havoc or infect the computer.
September's Poll Results:
Do you run Window 7 32 bit or 64 bit?
- 60% 32 bit40%
Tip of the Month:
Keep Your Windows 7 Start Menu Clean
With the release of Windows XP, Microsoft introduced the new style of the Windows Start Menu. Many people like the classic view and unfortunately that is not available in Windows 7. But there is a way to keep your start menu uncluttered and make it work for you and not against you.
By default Windows puts recently opened programs to the start menu and this can get kind of messy. A more efficient use of the new style taskbar is to have it display programs you use most often to make it faster to get to your favorite programs.
To change the setting, right click any empty spot of your taskbar and choose Properties. Then uncheck the boxes that say Store and display recently opened programs in the Start Menu and Store and display recently opened items in the Start menu and the taskbar.
To add your own programs to the Start Menu simply right click the icon for that program and choose Pin to Start Menu.
Hot Product of the Month: D-Link DNS-321 2-Bay Network Attached Storage
The D-Link 2-Bay Network Storage Enclosure is the perfect way to store, share, and safeguard your documents, music, videos, and photos. With the D-Link tool-less installation, easily insert up to two SATA hard drives (not included) without any tools or attaching any cables. Additionally, the built-in UPnP AV media server enables streaming of digital content to compatible network media players.
Two 3.5-inch SATA hard drive bays
Tool-less hard drive installation
Four hard drive configurations--Standard, JBOD, RAID 0, and RAID 1
High-speed Gigabit Ethernet connectivity
UPnP AV server for streaming music, photos, and video to compatible media players
Built-in FTP server for file access over the Internet
Schedule downloads from Web or FTP sites
Full or incremental backups
Real-time backups with the included software
Assign users/groups to folders with read or read/write permissions
Establish storage quotas for users and groups
Automatic e-mail notifications of device status
Configurable via a Web browser
Power management to conserve energy and help extend hard drive life
Important Windows and Office patches:
Microsoft to release largest number of patches for October patch Tuesday
Microsoft fixes 49 security vulnerabilities in a monster Patch Tuesday update, including a privilege escalation bug exploited by Stuxnet.
The record-breaking update includes fixes for 49 security vulnerabilities affecting Windows, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Office and the .NET Framework. Mixed in with the fixes is a patch for one of the zero-day vulnerabilities used by the Stuxnet worm.
"The Internet Explorer bulletin along with the Embedded OpenType bug fixes should make it to the top of the 'fix it' list for everyone because they can both be used for dangerous drive-by attacks," said Andrew Storms, director of security operations at nCircle. "Don't wait, get these patches installed as quickly as possible."
Among the other critical security bulletins is one covering a remote code execution issue in the .NET Framework. The bug in the .NET Framework could enable remote code execution on a client system if a user views a specially crafted Web page. "Users whose accounts are configured to have fewer user rights on the system could be less impacted than users who operate with administrative user rights," Microsoft explained in the advisory.
Rounding out the critical bulletins is a patch for a vulnerability in Media Player Sharing Service, which could be exploited if an attacker sent a malicious RTSP packet to an affected system. Of the remaining bulletins, two are rated moderate. The other 10, including the bulletin addressing the vulnerability exploited by Stuxnet are rated important.
Have you ever thought about dumping Windows and moving to Linux? If so then check out Linux.org to learn more about this great operating system.
Readers Question of the Month:
Windows Live Programs Change Screen Resolution
Glenn writes in with a software question Question: Hi I have downloaded windows live with all the add ons like Essential, Mail etc. but as soon as I launch the program the resolution of my display changes from 32bit highest 1280 x 1024 pixels to 16bit lowest resolution 640 x 480 pixels. If I change this back using display settings in control panel it does change but after a short while goes back to the lowest resolution and only rebooting and not running Windows Live will correct the problem. Can you assist so I can use Windows live without any problem?
Answer: This can happen if your programs are set to use Windows Compatibility Mode which is used when a certain program wont run as intended in the current operating system. For example if you have Vista and have a program that only runs correctly in XP you can change the mode of the program to run in Windows XP compatibility mode. I would make sure your Windows Live programs are not using any compatibility modes by right clicking on the executable file and choosing properties. Then go to the compatibility tab and make sure the box that says "Run this program in compatibility mode for:" is not checked.
To find which file you need to check this for you can go to your shortcut for each Windows Live program and right click it and choose properties. Then look at the Target location field to find the path or click on the Open File Location button to take you to the folder where the executable is. For example Windows Live Messenger will be located in C:\Program Files\Windows Live\Messenger and the name of the executable file you need to check the compatibility mode on is called. msnmsgr.exe.
Microsoft finally launched its new mobile platform, Windows Phone 7 at a press conference in New York this month. Windows Phone 7 will launch on October 21 in Europe and Asia, and the first U.S. handset will be on sale November 8. The platform will find itself in 30 countries, and across 60 cellphone carriers, by the end of the year. Launch phone manufacturers include HTC, LG, Dell, and Samsung.
AT&T will lead the way with Windows Phone 7 devices in the U.S. with three phones. The Samsung Focus, The LG Quantum and the HTC Surround. AT&T’s Ralph de la Vega showed off the phones, and he also announced that the company will bring U-verse mobile, which we assume to be streaming portable video, to Windows Phone 7.
Windows Phone 7 appears to offer the best integration with Microsoft desktop software and services so far. You be able to view Office files, including Word documents and Excel spreadsheets, and also be able to edit them as well. The Office hub will allow users to access files shared on SharePoint servers.