Another Day, Another Bug

Image source: https://stixproject.github.io/documentation/idioms/maec-malware/

An article I posted on Facebook a few years back led me to Ars Technica, where I found this report. Where they are simultaneously lauding Microsoft’s Windows 10 and detailing how this bug works, they cite reports by McAfee and FireEye.

Quoting the article on McAfee:

We strongly suggest Office users take the following actions to protect or mitigate against this zero-day attack before Microsoft issues an official patch. We notified the Microsoft Security Response Center as soon as we found the suspicious samples, and we will continue to work with them to protect Office users.

  •  Do not open any Office files obtained from untrusted locations.
  •  According to our tests, this active attack cannot bypass the Office Protected View, so we suggest everyone ensure that Office Protected View is enabled.

Here is a link to the full article. Question for you techies, Will McAfee ever live down its reputation? Now that Intel owns this security software, is it legit?

And from the post on FireEye:

FireEye email and network products detect the malicious documents as: Malware.Binary.Rtf.

Attack Scenario

The attack involves a threat actor emailing a Microsoft Word document to a targeted user with an embedded OLE2link object. When the user opens the document, winword.exe issues a HTTP request to a remote server to retrieve a malicious .hta file, which appears as a fake RTF file. The Microsoft HTA application loads and executes the malicious script. In both observed documents the malicious script terminated the winword.exe process, downloaded additional payload(s), and loaded a decoy document for the user to see. The original winword.exe process is terminated in order to hide a user prompt generated by the OLE2link.

The vulnerability is bypassing most mitigations; however, as noted above, FireEye email and network products detect the malicious documents. Microsoft Office users are recommended to apply the patch as soon as it is available.

Before You Upgrade to Windows 10

Image source: http://www.komando.com/happening-now/310826/windows-10-worries-7-things-that-wont-work-after-you-upgrade/all

Image source: http://www.komando.com/happening-now/310826/windows-10-worries-7-things-that-wont-work-after-you-upgrade/all

OK, if you’ve been following this trend….

You may know that you should do a bit of cleanup before and after you upgrade. I’m overdue on writing the post for the post Windows 10 upgrade.

But, here’s a new wrinkle. If you are upgrading from Windows 8, you may have more work to do.

There are a few ways to restore the Start menu in Windows 8. It became almost standard practice to install Classic Shell, or some other form of start menu restoration, to solve one of the biggest complaints about Windows 8 – which was, “Hey, where’s my start menu?!?!?” Insert damning commentary about Microsoft’s lack of understanding of real human beings here.

Microsoft’s insolence aside, if you did find a way to create a start menu with some add-on software, you’ll want to remove it prior to upgrading to Windows 10. In some cases, that add-on feature makes the start menu unusable after the upgrade. I know, it’s sickening, right?

Today, I spent hours trying to recover a computer from the malady that is a Windows 10 upgrade, whether you want it or not! I’ve seen several cases where the software installs itself, even though you’ve repeatedly clicked on the, “No, no, never!” response to Microsoft’s insistence.

Oh, and just in case you don’t follow me faithfully, please, please, PUH-LEASE! Back up your data right now. Back it up to the cloud if you can. But back it up on anything you have…. Your spinning hard drive will die. There’s no doubt about this. And, your Window 10 upgrade, if it makes your computer unusable, is pretty close to a hard drive failure. Just do it. Do it now.

 

Avoiding Blocking Change – Windows 10

Yes, the title of this blog post is not well formed, as it matches the opinion of this author. There are two sides to this argument and I’m sure I won’t have time to properly cover both sides. So, you’ll have to take the information you have, do your own research, mix it with what you find in this post, bake it in an oven, and see what comes out in the end! It’s a recipe for who knows?

A better title? Learn to love the nebulous nature of Microsoft messiness. Or, don’t.

I’ve heard of a handful of unhappy incidents, where Windows 10 has upgraded, even after the PC user repeatedly said, “No, thank you.” to the constant nag from Microsoft. So, for the purpose of getting this information out there (and I’m so late with this task, as it’s coming up on a year since Windows 10 was released), I offer this:
You can block the upgrade, using this tool.gwx control

Here is a very quick video on how to download, install, and run this control panel.

Here, we begin with this side of the argument, for blocking Windows 10 upgrades. The “Ultimate Outsider” is where you’ll find a handy tool that allows you to manage Windows Updates. Read carefully and enjoy! And, if you have time, here is nearly 18 minutes of a nerd discussing Microsoft’s “intention to get Windows 10 on your box…”

You may find it interesting that people have been writing about this for just over a year, now. Click the image to the right, for more information. Dedoimedo includes some vulgarity, perhaps matching some users’ feelings about Microsoft’s aggression.gwx rant

I’ve been firmly standing on the other side of this debate, testing early versions, eagerly awaiting the new features, then installing it immediately after the launch, suffering through the bleeding edge technology wave (sacrificing myself for the good of my people….) and finally, installing Windows 10 on almost every PC I use. I’m still working on a post to call out and illustrate those features.

I’ll be writing more about this later. The bad news is, it is often not an easy path to back out of this upgrade. The opposite of news is, please be sure you have a good backup of your data, do it now!

Windows 10 Features

win-10-keyboard-shortcuts-862x488

Image source: https://www.braintek.com/

Preparing to write an article on new features I find useful in Windows 10, I had to do a search, first. Here are the results to: “should I upgrade to windows 10”

OK, so I’m partial to Google search – sosumi. Here are results from Cortana/Bing.

While on the phone with GoDaddy support yesterday, it occurred to me that I should record a video to “show and tell” the features I like best. It is always a challenge to think of the handful of things I really like about Windows 10, when I’m trying to tell someone about the value of upgrading. YouTube awaits my next opus.

Here are a few things I’ll cover:

  • Snipping Tool
  • Windows Positioning
  • Recent Items – Windows Explorer
  • Windows Key Updates
  • Quick Access

Windows 10 Settings and Control Panels

My issue was that I could not remove the directory “windows.old” after upgrading to Windows 10.

what is cortanaSo, I asked Cortana and got this:
Delete your previous version of Windows
One month after you upgrade to Windows 10, your previous version of Windows will be automatically deleted from your PC. However, if you need to free up disk space, and you’re confident that your files and settings are where you want them to be in Windows 10, you can safely delete it yourself. Keep in mind that you’ll be deleting your Windows.old folder, which contains files that give you the option to go back to your previous version of Windows.
Deleting your previous version of Windows can’t be undone.
Go to Start, enter Settings in the search box, and then select Settings.
Select System > Storage > This PC and then scroll down the list and select Temporary files.
Under Previous version of Windows, select Delete previous versions and then select Delete.

Help from Microsoft – Was this helpful?

Not just, “yes,” but heck yeah!!!Remove Windows Old

Pointing out the difference between Settings and Control Panels seems obvious to me, now. Because of my experience, I’m prone to taking shortcuts with Windows. So, I was thinking that if I was to open the System (settings), why not just click start and type, “system” in the search field – which I did. Then I chose the System control panel and could find no place there that would allow me to get to “storage.” However, if I type “storage” into the search field, I am presented with “Storage, System settings” as the top result. Choosing that puts me on the path to solving the problem, in accordance with the instructions provided by Microsoft.

Do you need help with getting Windows 10 up and running on your computer? Or, maybe your website needs some sprucing up, or you’ve always wanted to start a blog, but you didn’t know where to begin!

Drop me a line or give me a call and I will help you with anything related to communications and computers.

 

Considerations Prior To Your Windows 10 Upgrade

Image source: http://www.komando.com/happening-now/310826/windows-10-worries-7-things-that-wont-work-after-you-upgrade/all

Image source: http://www.komando.com

  1. Is it necessary?
    The simple answer is, no. While that answer assumes you are happy with your current Windows 7 or 8 operating system, the answer is further qualified or disqualified by benefits and the all-important idea – Free (until July of next year), which is a pretty good deal.
  2. What are the benefits?
    Long ago, I learned to use the sage advice of others to answer my questions. It would take several blog posts to fully detail all of the benefits of using the new Windows 10 OS. So, here is a link to several articles others have written. Do your research and decide for yourself. The primary reason for my upgrade is, that’s just how it is with me. I must run Windows 10, so I’ll know how to help you. And, I like it.
  3. What are the drawbacks?

    Advice extracted from this article: “Better the Devil ye ken, than the Devil ye don’t” — those are wise words, born of much pain.

  4. Why not wait?
    If it really doesn’t interest you, or it doesn’t matter in the least, there’s no reason to not simply wait. Watch the dust settle, or just go outside for some fresh air – it’s so nice in the desert, this time of year! Eventually, Microsoft will issue hundreds of patches and probably, “Service Pack 1,” as it has for other versions of Windows. By that time, Windows 10 should be pretty stable. End your waiting prior to July 28, 2016, however, if you want a free Windows 10 upgrade.
  5. Links I’ve used while writing this post:

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Today, I was going to take the plunge with Margaret’s computer. My wife has little interest in the version of Windows running on her computer. When I asked her if she would like me to upgrade to Windows 10, she laughed (the best result I can get….) and said, “You may as well ask me if I want the X11 refrigerator! Does it keep things cold? Then, yes.”

The answer to your question is, yes. I think a Windows 10 upgrade, for most people, should have little impact. For power users, it is definitely a meaningful upgrade.

Kim Komando is a great source for advice about Windows 10. She is far more paranoid about the “security risks” of having Microsoft track your activities than I am, however. Still, her site provides a wealth of information about things worth considering before you make the leap to Windows 10.
http://www.komando.com/happening-now/310826/windows-10-worries-7-things-that-wont-work-after-you-upgrade/all

http://www.forbes.com/sites/gordonkelly/2015/10/16/microsoft-windows-10-free-upgrade-changes/
http://www.forbes.com/sites/gordonkelly/2015/08/02/windows-10-vs-windows-8-vs-windows-7-whats-the-difference/

http://winsupersite.com/windows-10/details-changes-windows-10-activation-threshold-2

Forgot To Say, Clean Up AND Back Up!

dropboxYes, I know I have already said (by my count, at least seven times on this blog) you must backup your data. I’ve been saying that for years.

So, I suppose it should never be left unsaid. Clean up your computer, backup your data. Then, if you must upgrade to Windows 10, go ahead. Sometimes it works flawlessly, other times, you’ll know the pain of a fresh new restore of your computer. You may be able to revert to Windows 8 (so I’ve heard, but I’ve not done it myself), but so far I’ve had no success with getting back to Windows 7 gracefully.

If you can wait, please do. Microsoft is allowing you up to a year to accept their free upgrade. By then, or maybe by Christmas, they will have worked out most of the bugs.