Monday, September 7, 2015

Bloatware, It's Everywhere

Seems Lenovo is one company that doesn’t learn its lesson. Following on from the “Superfish” adware and problematic root certificate issues earlier this year, Lenovo is in hot water again over a component which some pundits say closely resembles a rootkit.

The mechanism under fire is called the ‘Lenovo Service Engine’ which downloads a program called ‘OneKey Optimizer’. According to Lenovo, this program “can enhance your PC’s performance by updating firmware, drivers, and preinstalled apps. It also provides power management schemes that can extend the life of your battery.”

Which all sounds harmless enough, however, it also transmits data to the Lenovo servers. According to Lenovo, this data is “non-personally identifiable system data“, including machine type and model, system UUID, region and date. Regardless of Lenovo’s assurances, what makes this particularly worrying is that Windows files are overwritten on boot, that files are added to the Windows system32 directory, and that a service is set up on the system to transfer data to Lenovo. Once that system is in place, who knows what data is really being transmitted?

Even more worrying is the fact that the Lenovo Service Engine is triggered via BIOS meaning it will persist between installations of Windows, even following a format and clean installation:

Lenovo is now using rootkit-like techniques to install their software on CLEAN Windows installs, by having the BIOS overwrite windows system files on boot-up.
Scarier and Scarier

Here’s the rub: the mechanism Lenovo has been using is actually a Microsoft sanctioned technique, first introduced in November 2011 and updated in July of this year. The feature allows computer manufacturers to push software for installation from the BIOS to the system, meaning it will persist between installations of Windows regardless of whether it’s a clean installation or not. So, other manufacturers could also have been utilizing this technique without user knowledge – however, that remains unconfirmed at this time.

This revelation is very concerning; persistently pushing manufacturer’s bloatware via BIOS messing with system files is a clear abuse of user trust. It appears a truly clean, untouched, manufacturer install of Windows is fast becoming an endangered species.

The Fix

At least there is some good news: if you own one of the affected Lenovo laptops you can disable the feature right now by downloading a utility from Lenovo here: Support.Lenovo


LSE was shipped on certain notebook systems running Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 – the LSE functionality has been removed from newly manufactured systems.
Affected Lenovo models are listed on the page linked to above

Thanks to:Dave's Computer Tips

Speed Up Boot Process

Reduce the number of programs running at startup If your PC is taking too long to boot, it’s probably because you have far too many programs running at startup. Reducing this is easy, it will make your PC launch noticeably faster and lighter upon first load. To change the items running at startup, go to Run using the hotkey Windows key + R, and type "msconfig." A small window will appear (see the screenshot below), select the Startup tab. From here you will be able to turn off many startup programs, which can shave several seconds (or minutes) off your boot time. (Note Windows 8 has moved this functionality to the Task Manager). Try to make sure you research what you are turning off as some processes might be needed by third party programs or drivers you have installed.

Click the Internet Security link in the right menu for further tips to speed up your computer.

Thanks to: TechSpot

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Internet Security

I often work on folks computers which have a variety of anti-virus programs that may be expensive as well as basically ineffective. Windows is vulnerable to a wide scope of intrusions which include viruses as well as malware.

Why spend on programs when Microsoft offers a free anti-virus at Free Virus Protection with Microsoft Security Essentials This program runs automatically and is constantly being updated. It will trap most viruses before they have a chance to do any harm.

Another problem in Windows is the Potentially Unwanted Program, called P.U.P. and is insidious. These things come in on downloaded programs so be careful when you download anything to read all the text on the pages to exclude any of their options. Tool bars, recipes, coupon sites, adult sites, games, music, etc. are prime providers for these PUPs which actually grow in your computer until it no longer functions.

To scan for PUPs get Malwarebytes Anti-Malware - CNET You might be amazed at the number of objects it will find. This is free to run but may ask for a payment after 30 days.

To get rid of all those toolbars that seem to come out of nowhere, go to your control panel and find add/remove programs. Most toolbars will be listed there.

To do a thorough clean-up of your computer files you will need to clean the registry. Every page you visit plants a notation in the registry as well as a temporary page in your memory. To do an efficient clean up get Glary Utilities - Free System Utilities to Clean Registry, Fix ...
This is the best I have seen for the job but must be run manually. It is simple and fast so try it today.

Hacks and Tips

Welcome to the new Web Hacks and Tips sponsored by OneDollarWebmaster.Com

I will post one or more tips daily and questions are welcome.

Never fear, help is here. We can talk about Microsoft Windows solutions, Apple and Macintosh OS X solutions.

Windows and Apple mail problems? That's a tough one since all Machines are not Created Equal, but we will work through it.

Tip One: When setting up email on any computer I recommend using POP3 not IMAP. Reason: You will have to delete IMAP server files manually while POP3 server files will be deleted automatically, according to your preferences. 

Setting IMAP server to hold unlimited megabytes of mail is not a good choice. Your server will eventually overload and crash. Setting IMAPP servers to limits of 50MB or 100MB will allow the limit to be reached sooner and you may or may not be notified of rejected emails sent by anyone.

IMAP has the following advantages: Mail stored on remote server, i.e. accessible from multiple different locations. Internet connection needed to access mail. Faster overview as only headers are downloaded until content is explicitly requested.