AVG Free Antivirus is a great, free antivirus solution made by AVG Technologies. Many people use AVG, and I have come across a few clients that have accidentally upgraded their Free version to the Paid 30 day Trial version, causing headaches.
The problem occurs when updating AVG Free, and clicking ‘Next’ through a series of screens. On the “Select your product” screen, AVG have pre-selected the “Internet Security Trial/Full Protection” option, which will upgrade you to the paid trial version of AVG.
To avoid this situation, you need to select the “Anti-virus Free/Basic Protection” button, before clicking ‘Next’.
Clients regularly ask if it possible to downgrade AVG back to the Free version.
Yes, if you have accidentally upgraded your AVG Free to the AVG Paid Trial, you can downgrade AVG back to the free edition by starting to uninstall AVG. During the uninstallation process, you will be given the option to downgrade AVG back to the free version.
- Open Start – Control Panel, and then click Programs and Features.
- In the list of installed products select AVG, and then click Uninstall.
- Click the option Switch to AVG AntiVirus FREE.
An AVG installer will run, and downgrade AVG to the FREE version. Wait for the installation to finish, and then restart your computer.
Raspberry Pi Webcam Server Project
The Raspberry Pi is a small, cheap mini-computer that runs Linux. It’s great for tinkering with, and there are many projects online to try. In this project, I have used Linux ‘motion’ software to setup the device as a Raspberry Pi Webcam Server.
The Raspberry Pi Webcam Server will need to monitor and detect movement and will initially be set to record .AVI video files to its 16GB SD Card. This folder will be open to the network for easy viewing, transferring & deleting of the recorded video files.
In a future revision, the Raspberry Pi Webcam Server will be modified to save directly to either an attached USB hard drive or another networked PC share folder.
The video footage will also be streamed live to my local network and available through the browser on any device.
To complete this project I used:
- A Raspberry Pi
- A SanDisk Ultra 16 GB Class 10 SD Card
- A Logitech C615 HD webcam
- An externally powered 4 port USB hub
- A Logitech MK320 Wireless keyboard & mouse
Booting the Raspberry Pi Webcam Server
I chose to prepare the SD card using a Windows PC. This involved downloading an SD card image from the Raspberry Pi website for free.
To place the image on to the SD card, I used Win32DiskImager for Windows.
Once completed, I inserted the SD Card into the Raspberry Pi and connected the externally-powered USB hub, Keyboard adapter and LAN cable, then I turned on the Raspberry Pi.
Setting up the Raspberry Pi Webcam Server
The standard Login and password for the system is username: pi and the password: raspberry
After logging into the Raspberry Pi, the first step was to configure the Raspberry Pi using the Raspi-Config tool. I expanded the Root FileSystem, set the correct Time Zone and Locale, Enabled SSH, and set the device to Boot to Desktop option.
Tip: The Raspberry Pi can be reconfigured by running the following command from a terminal window:
I also experimented with overclocking the Raspberry Pi and settled on the medium overclocking choice of 900MHz.
Now that the Raspberry Pi boots to the desktop, the next step was to ensure the Raspberry Pi operating system is up to date, using:
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
I then downloaded and installed motion and ffmpeg
udo apt-get install motion ffmpeg
and installed samba
sudo apt-get install samba samba-common-bin
I created a folder on the Raspberry Pi SD Card where motion will save the .AVI videos to.
udo mkdir /home/pi/motion
sudo chmod 777 /home/pi/motion
I then edited the Samba configuration file to add the motion folder as a Network Share.
sudo nano /etc/samba/smb.conf
After entering the correct network details near the top of the Samba configuration file:
workgroup = MyNetwork
wins support = YES
I then added the following text to the bottom of the Samba configuration file.
comment=RaspberryPi Motion Share
browseable = yes
writeable = yes
guest ok = yes
A quick check from another PC on the network confirms the folder is now visible.
Configuring the Raspberry Webcam Server
Now the Raspberry Pi is ready for me to setup the Motion configuration file:
sudo nano /etc/motion/motion.conf
I set the following items
Here’s a copy of my completed motion.conf
The full list of Motion Configuration Options are listed here:
Next, I enabled the motion daemon by editing this configuration file:
sudo nano /etc/default/motion
and I changed
Now start the Motion server service:
sudo service motion start
To restart the motion software following changes:
sudo /etc/init.d/motion restart
Rather than using a WiFi adapter, I have chosen to use an existing Netcomm NP-204 Broadband Over Powerline adapter, which will provide power and LAN cable internet connection to the Raspberry Pi.
I had already set my Network Router to provide the Raspberry Pi with a static IP address of 192.168.1.20 for previous projects. The picture below shows that Address Reservation in the Router Configuration webpage.
Now any network connected device, including PCs, Tablets and Smart Phones can now browse to 192.168.1.20:8081 to view the live stream of images from the Webcam.
To remotely configure the motion server, I browse to 192.168.1.20:8081. The image below is a screenshot taken on a Samsung Galaxy running Firefox for Android.
The Raspberry Pi Webcam Server project is now complete.
BitTorrent Labs has just released a new tool called BitTorrent Sync, which is used to sync files/folders from one PC directly to another. It works differently to cloud based products like Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft Skydrive.
With a variety of backup options now available, its surprising that many users don’t consider backing up important data until its too late.
In this post, Tailormade IT Solutions discusses backup options and some of their pros and cons, including their ease of use, safety, security and suitability.
Tailormade IT Solutions can configure a backup routine that ensures your data is safe.
Copy Files Locally
I’ve met users who simply plug in a USB drive and copy data from their computer manually. For example, copying the My Documents folder to a USB drive, CD or DVD.
- User has to remember to backup regularly;
- backup data is held on-site and susceptible to physical loss.
Automated Backup – Locally
The next step would be an automated backup solution. Data is a lot safer if the backup routine is automated and regular. These backup routines typically work at a certain time, and copy information to a USB drive. Users should disconnect the backup drive when not in use.
- Set and forget peace of mind.
- Data held on-site.
Automated Backup/Sync over Network
If you have multiple computers, your can set one aside as a backup PC, and configure all other computers to backup at a certain time to that location. This can work locally or through the internet, using the new BitTorrent Sync tool.
- Set and forget peace of mind.
- Data held on-site.
Automated Backup/Sync to Cloud
Using cloud storage providers (such as DropBox, SkyDrive or Google Drive) to syncing folders has become very popular. These services allow you to automatically sync a folder from your computer to a internet server. With your login details, the server can be accessed from any computer in the world.
Cloud storage providers offer varying levels of service and security, but they also retain ownership of your data in the fine print, and commonly limit the sizes of files you can upload, and/or total server size.
- Data is held off site, and accessible from anywhere in the world.
- Data held by cloud providers is owned by cloud providers.
If you need an IT professional to configure a backup routine for you, contact Tailormade IT Solutions
What is ransomware?
Ransomware defines a category of malicious computer software that encrypts the users data, demanding a ransom be paid to the software creators.
Recently, ransomware has become more common, and means your backup routine is more important than ever.
Is ransomware common?
Dozens of victim businesses have gone public detailing how thousands of dollars had been lost paying ransoms to unlock encrypted data — or in lost productivity by choosing to cut losses.
In the last 6 months, many Australian businesses have had their data held to ransom:
- September 2012: NT based TDC Refrigeration and Electrical had vital financial records encrypted, forcing it to pay a $3000 ransom.
- November 2012: Deanes Buslines was similarly confronted with a $3000 ransom after having its critical data locked down.
- December 2012: A Byron Bay school found its records encrypted and a ransom demanding $5000. The school could not pay, and after trying to bargain with the Eastern-European attacker, forfeited the data and recovered a limited data set from forensic analysis.
- Gold Coast medical practice The Miami Family Medical Centre was held to ransom by hackers demanding $4000 to decrypt sensitive patient information.
- February 2013: Melbourne bus company Firefly Coaches found its data had been encrypted and its Windows machines were locked down. A ransom notice was left demanding $5000 for the decryption key to unlock the data. Firefly had backups.
Firefly, a small family owned business in Avondale Heights, did what many of us fail to do – maintain regular, tested and “air-gapped” backups on a drive which was kept physically separate from the PC network.
A video by Symantec
How does ransomware infect?
Many of these ransomware attacks have occurred initially by visiting through malicious websites which deliver malware using drive-by-download or by opening malicious email attachments / clicking malicious links.
The attackers then breach the company network by brute-forcing open RDP credentials. The Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) function, which allows remote access, is commonly unused and should be disabled (on port 3389).
How to protect against ransomware
A few simple steps will reduce your chances of being infected with ransomware:
- Ensure your computer system has the latest update patches installed.
- Be wary of opening email attachments and clicking links in spam emails, or installing software from untrusted sources.
- Be wary of visiting websites that suggest you need to update/install software, drivers or video codecs.
- Backup important data !!!
Once your data is held to ransom, there are only 3 options: 1. You can pay the ransom demanded, which is generally $3000-$5000 and provides no guarantee that your computer/files will be returned to you; 2. Attempt to crack the encryption using a decryption tool, or 3. Completely wipe and reinstall your system from backups.
Clearly just having a backup stored on a USB drive that is always connected is not safe from the attackers. You need to remove external hard drives, or they will attack them and lock them down too. For many businesses, a sensible “air-gap” solution is to ensure backups are taken off site, as this also prevents against data loss in the event of fire.
Panda Security have released a ‘Panda Ransomware Decrypt‘ tool.
Note: There is also fake ‘Australian Federal Police Ransomware’ which behaves in a similar fashion: Locking the computer and demanding money, with the attackers pretending to be Australian law enforcement officials. The lock screen looks fancy (shown below) but would the AFP accept Ukash ?
Most of us use the cameras built into our smartphones, but many people are not aware that when they snap a picture, personal data may be embedded inside the picture.
This data is referred to as ‘exchangeable image file format‘ (or EXIF) data and can include your exact location using GPS co-ordinates. If that picture is then uploaded to the internet, another person can download the picture and inspect the EXIF image data, pinpointing you.
In a previous post on this topic, I mentioned how EXIF image data was used by the FBI and Australian Federal Police to track down a member of the hacker group ”CabinCr3w”. This occurred again more recently when John McAfee (founder of McAfee Antivirus) was located after a reporter published online a picture of the two, which contained GPS co-ordinates of his (once) secret location. (Source)
While the Location services can be turned off in the settings of your smartphone, they can also be a useful feature.
Another option is to scrub the EXIF data from the image using an app on your smartphone. I have been using an Android app called Photo Editor (Google Play Store link)
EXIF Image Data competition – Can you find me ?
Click on the photo above to view it full size. Download it, View it, Share it.
Can you find my address ?
If you can find the location (street name) stored in this picture, you could win a $25 discount voucher, for use on your next booking.
Email your answer to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The first correct answer received by email will be announced the winner.
Tailormade IT Solutions would like to sincerely thank all our customers for their business in 2012, and wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful 2013.
Tailormade IT Solutions will close on the following days:
Tuesday 25th December 2012, Wednesday 26th December 2012 and Tuesday 1st Jan 2013.
My New Years Resolution for 2013 is that everyone keeps a backup of their important data !
Reason: It’s likely that Ransomware will continue to spread in 2013, and the only effective solution is to have a backup, that is not normally connected to the PC.
Symantec Whitepaper: Ransomware a growing menace
After infecting your PC, ransomware can encrypt your personal data and then display a message encouraging you to pay for the data to be un-encrypted. Some messages say your PC has been locked by police due to downloading illegal material, and you must pay a fine before your data will be released, earning the bad guys $5 million a year.
It’s quick and easy to get a decent backup in place, using online storage, or a USB drive and some automated backup software. This protects your important data from ransomware and/or Hard Drive failures.
What are browser toolbars ?
Browser toolbars are add-ons that sit inside popular internet browsers, such as Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome. They are often bundled with downloaded software and installed unknowingly.
Legitimate makers of browser toolbars use them to track users, view their latest activity, or see who’s online at any given moment, what buttons users click on toolbar, what keywords they use, and what they search for. (Source)
Other toolbars are actually spam or even keystroke loggers that offer themselves up as toolbars. Learn how to avoid Browser toolbars.
Ridiculous: You can hardly see the webpage for the toolbars!
How do I avoid browser toolbars ?
When downloading and installing software, you can no longer just select “Express/Standard/Normal” install. This almost guarantees you will also receive a free, unwanted toolbar.
You need to select “Custom install” instead. Ignore statements made about it being un-preferred or for advanced users – the only ‘advanced’ thing you need to do is un-tick a box or two, and click “Next” a few times…
As you step through the installation process, look out for check boxes such as “Include useless toolbar” and “Change my Homepage to useless.com” and un-tick them. In this example we need to click “Decline” aswell.
In the above example, downloaded from the popular C-Net Download.com, selecting “Standard Install” would have also installed the Ask toolbar, and changed your internet start & search settings to Ask.com.
What happens if you have multiple browser toolbars installed? (as shown above)
1. Your internet browser runs very slowly when first loading all of the toolbars.
2. Your internet surfing habits are being collected, transmitted and stored.
3. The browser toolbars may try to update often, even if the browser itself is at the latest version.
4. Your PC is likely to be infected with a malicious browser toolbar.
How do I get rid of browser toolbars?
Browser toolbars can be removed using a number of methods – this is dependant on the type of toolbar.
1. Legitimate toolbars can be disabled within the browsers settings, and are also likely to have an uninstall feature in the Control Panel / Add-Remove Programs list.
2. If you have malicious toolbars that you can’t uninstall with step 1, try a virus scan – this may find and remove it.
If these methods fail to remove the browser toolbar, then its time to contact Tailormade IT Solutions for further assistance.
For more information visit:
The kids are online and you’re busy – Family Safety is there to help. Use this tool to generate activity reports to monitor your kids’ computer activity. Choose the websites, games, and programs they can access. Even set time periods when they can use the computer.
Click the Weekly Activity report above to see an example
Microsoft Family Safety is almost indispensable for families with young children who have already learnt how to use computer. So go ahead, be busy. Let Microsoft Family Safety help keep an eye on things.
The program is available for Windows Vista and Windows 7, needs signing in with Windows Live ID, and can also bundled with Mcrosoft Live Essentials suite. Family Safety is included as standard with Windows 8.
DropBox is a very handy service which many people use to backup data. They offer free 2GB accounts which allow you to store backups off site.
I’m sure Dropbox is an excellent company with its user’s interests at heart, I simply wanted an additional layer of privacy and security to an already great, and secure, service.
I’m working on a new backup application, which will automatically convert a specified folder of data into an encrypted vault, and then upload the vault to the DropBox website. This will occur automatically at a set time.
Tip: Ensure your backup data is always encrypted when stored online.
This means that before your backups leave the computer you physically control and own, they’re encrypted. They stay encrypted while being synchronized, until they’re back in your physical control.
Update: The main programming code was quite short and now is in beta testing.
Run(TrueCrypt & ” /v ” & $VaultName & ” /lx /p ” & $Password & ” /a /q /b /s”)
DirCopy($SourceFolder, “X:\” & $VaultName, 1)
Run(TrueCrypt & ” /q /d”)
FileCopy($VaultName, $DropBoxFolder, 9)