Horsham User Forum

Announcement: Horsham Users Forum

Please feel free to use this area to pass on any tips / tricks you may have to other users in Horsham. Please note: initially all posts will be moderated by an administrator.

Have fun.

Here’s a quick little tip to get everyone started: Holding down the SHIFT key while deleting a file (ie: a word document) by pressing the DELETE key will delete the item from your system without it entering the recycle bin.

Here’s another one for you. Pressing CTRL > SHIFT > ESC does the same as pressing CRL > ALT > DEL if that fails to open up task manager. This can sometimes prove useful when dealing with system crashes and virus infections.

To add a comment to one of the topics below simply click on the ‘add comment’ link at the end of each post.  To start a new topic use the ‘contact us’ link on either of the navigation menus to send us your information and we will post it for you.

Bogus Computer Repair Telephone Calls Started Again

Just had an email from a customer and it seems that the bogus computer repair calls are starting up again in this area. This is the third person we have had contact us in 2 weeks. Here is a copy of Phil Blagdens experience:

Just thought i’d drop you a line about what I suspect is an update of the fake telephone computer technician scam. I got a call this morning from an Asian sounding gentleman claiming to be calling on behalf of Microsoft, I just wish they had that level of customer service!! He wanted me to switch on the computer as he claimed I had viruses and malware on my computer. I’m that stupid so I told him to get lost.
Coincidentally I got a call from my Mum later, as she was worried because she had had just the same call today. Fortunately she was in the middle of baking at the time and so gave the caller short shrift.
Regards, Phil

Website Design & Hosting

We have recently teamed up with a local webhost and as a result we are now able to offer a Web Design and Hosting service to individuals and business around the area at a very competitive rate. As an example, full hosting packages with mysql database access can be obtained from £20 / year. Why not give us a call to discuss your requirements.

Public Wifi / Unsecured Wireless Network Security Issues

(Please note: the information given below is for information only – we are by no means advocating the use of the techniques described below and by no means approve of their use for illegal activity. This information is given to highlight the dangers people can be opening themselves up to without using proper precautions while using unsecured wireless networks. Also note that the techniques described, even though directed at unsecured public wifi networks, could also be used on a home wireless network that is not secured correctly. Please ensure your home network is secure before using your Internet connection for more secure processes like email or online banking.)

With the ever increasing popularity of the Internet and the tools it offers (email, facebook, myspace, ebay etc) many people are beginning to use freely available public wifi hotspots in towns, airports, hotels and even restaurants / coffee shops more and more regularly each day. Using these freely available connections is ok, if you need to get onto the web urgently, but users should be aware that when connecting to most of these free hotspots they are using an unprotected wireless network, which is not only open to them but to anyone within its vicinity.

The risks posed by this fact alone are huge. Quite recently, an old hackers trick referred to as “session hacking” has become more prevalent with the introduction of some freely available tools on the Internet. Sidejacking, as it is now referred to, allows anyone with a very basic computer knowledge and a cheap laptop to connect to the same wifi network as you and others are using, and capture all activity that is happening on it at any given time. The information (packets) that are logged can then be used to gain entry into email accounts, bank accounts, etc and you would never be aware that anyone had stolen this information from you.

The way the system works is by filtering out all cookie information from the packets been sent around the network and then using this information to gain access to webpages you have recently logged into. The amazing fact is that people who are using these methods don’t need your usernames or passwords to get into your accounts – all they need is the ‘session cookies’ created when you first log in.

Whenever you log into an email account for example you will notice that the address of the login page should start with ‘https://’ – this https is showing that the information you send via this page is going to be encrypted. Once you send this information however, in most cases you will find the following pages only use ‘http’ in the address – in other words an unsecured http protocol. The ‘https’ was only there to encrypt your username / password when you first logged in – it will not encrypt what you are going to be doing once you are logged into your account. The way the services know who you are and what information to show you is because when you login with your username and password a ‘session cookie’ is created for you. This cookie is used to identify you on each page you request during your active session. Because of this method employed, if someone else has access to your session cookie they can also make requests under your identity by using the same session you are using – in other words they can login to pages as you without ever having to use a username or password to obtain a session cookie for your account. (Note: In some instances these sessions cookies may remain active for several days.)

So what can be done to protect yourself from such attacks. Well the best way to combat this type of attack is not to use services like email, ebay, facebook, etc if you are using a public wifi hotspot or an unsecured wireless network. If you only use these hotspots to browse the web in general then hackers may be able to see what sites you have visited but this information, in most cases, is not really going to give them anything of any value. If you are a person who needs to use email and other secure services (maybe a businessman who frequents different hotels and needs to access secure services for work …) then really you need to begin using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to ensure your privacy. Some VPN’s are free, while others are available for a small amount each month. A VPN gives you a secure encrypted tunnel when you access the Internet, that your packets are sent though, so anyone ‘sniffing’ the network won’t have access to them.

This security flaw was recently highlighted on the BBC TV show – The Real Hustle.

For available VPN’s see the links section of our website.

Update: Bogus PC Repair Scam

In follow up to the last post regarding the Telephone PC Repair scam we advised people about a few days ago we are now pleased to announce that the West Sussex County Times newspaper has also began highlighting this scam to the general public in the area. If anyone experiences this or similar scams Becky Churcher of the West Sussex County Times would like to hear from you. She can be contacted on 01403 751200.

In follow up we thought we would also make people aware of a second ploy being used by these fake technicians to gain access to peoples PC’s and bank details.

Some people have been told to follow a set of instructions by the person on the telephone which ultimately leads them to the “Event Viewer” console within Windows. Once there, the bogus technician asked them to check the ‘system’ and ‘security’ logs to see if any “warnings” or “errors” were present. When the people in question seen that there was infact some warnings and errors present, the guy on the telephone then told them this was proof that they had a dangerous virus on their system. They then went onto to tell the people that they could fix the problem right away for them if they paid a certain amount of money via credit card and allowed them remote access into their systems.

These logs, which are referred to, will normally always contain error or system warnings, even on a brand new laptop or PC. A warning or error can be created by something as simple as your anti-virus scanner trying to do an update when your computer is not connected to the Internet. Just because the logs on a computer lists errors and warnings does not necessarily mean the computer has a fault or a virus. This is purely a scare tactic to try to get people to divulge their bank / card details and let these bogus technicians have access to their systems. Please be vigilant.

WARNING: Bogus Computer Repair Telephone Calls

Just thought we would highlight a new scam that seems to be going around the Horsham Area at the moment. A few people, including myself, have received telephone calls from a supposed company claiming to be accredited to Microsoft. They basically call you up and tell you they are from Microsoft and that they have noticed your computer is running slow. They then start to give you a whole run down of things they think may be happening to your computer (things like: you have a slow Internet connection, your computer is running slower than normal, your computer is sending private information over the Internet, you have a virus etc). They tell you they have detected these things happening and that they are calling to fix the problem for you FOC. (At this point I asked they guy I was speaking to who the company was and was told Microsoft. When I told him I was a technician with affiliation to Microsoft the Indian guy (whom I was speaking to) put the phone down on me.)

Some other people I have spoken to unfortunately have believed what these guys are telling them and have not questioned their authenticity. As a result they were then told to download a small program which gave the so called technicians control of their computers and then most found within a very short period of time their computer had been hacked into and details had been stolen, viruses had been activated and some were even locked out of their own systems.

If anyone calls you up and tells you they have found something wrong with your computer, or that they have detected a virus on it, they are lying to you. No-one can diagnose or monitor faults from a remote location (or over the Internet) unless you personally have installed programs onto your system to allow them to do so. At times a qualified technician may offer you remote assistance (which would require you to download and install a small program onto your system – but this would only be at your request.) Please make your friends aware of this scam as many people in our community have already been hit by this and similar things.

Understanding Anti-Virus Scanners Terminology

On a regular basis we are asked by customers to explain what some of the more common terms used by several Anti-Virus applications mean. Here is a list of a few of the more common terms:

Malware: This term is used to describe programs or files which are copied / installed onto a computer with the sole purpose of causing harm (ie: viruses, spyware, trojans, worms, hijackers, dialers ..)  Some of these are listed below:

Adware This is a type of program which produces / generates popup pages / advertisements normally in your web browser. 

Backdoor This is a program installed on a computer which allows other people to remotely connect to your computer and run various commands / programs without a users permission.  In some cases hackers can also fully take full control your computer and access everything stored on it. (Note: some Anti-Virus scanners may pick up legitimate programs as backdoors – ie: “teamviewer” or “logmein” at times have been logged as a backdoor as these types of program, even though legitimate, allow remote users to control a persons computer without actually been present at it.)

Dialer – This type of infection dials premium rate telehone numbers without the user realising this is actually taking place.

Hijackers – This is code which tries to take control of certain Web Browser / Internet functions – ie: It may change your home page or set up links to re-direct you to where it wants you to go while surfing the web.  Hijackers have also been known to replace search engine results with their own information.

Spyware – This type of infection monitors activity on a computer and normally forwards details of that activity onto a remote system somewhere – instances of spyware can included “keyloggers” (programs which record every key stroke made on a computer), and have even been know to access things like web cameras.

Trojan – This is normally a type of program which appears normal / innocent (like a free Anti-Virus Scanner or a free system scanner) but has actually been designed to open a backdoor into your system or cause some other type of malicious activity.

Virus – This is an infection which has the ability once on your system to replicate itself many times and infect other files on your computer, thus making them dangerous also.  Viruses can move about systems very quickly and can even be transfered to memory sticks and across networks.  Once a virus is on your system its intention could be to do one of several things including: erasing data from you computers hard drive, messing up the Windows registry, displaying annoying messages, blocking normal Windows process from running as they should …  the list goes on and on. 

Worm – This type of program will generally hide on a system and once activated can replicate and sends itself to other computers using email contact lists or other Web Browser Security Flaws.

Even though this list is not extensive, I hope it helps those who feel understanding the terminology used within the IT security field a little daunting.

Common Problem with Networking Printers

Quite recently a few people have asked how to fix a problem which seems to occur without warning relating to sharing a printer via a networked PC / Laptop.  Many have found that after setting the properties to share a printer on a PC / Laptop (hard wired to a printer), when they try to connect to it from a seperate machine the following error message appears: “Windows cannot connect to the printer. Either the printer name was typed incorrectly, or the specified printer has lost its connection to the server.”

This is a common problem and an easy way to fix it is:

Note: This method will only work with Printers been shared via another computer – if your printer is a “network” printer – with its own ip address – then the procedure below will not work.

  • Install the printer driver onto the machine you are getting the error on. (You may at some point need to use a USB lead to connect to the printer during this install process.)
  • Once the driver is installed, click START > CONTROL PANEL > PRINTERS & FAXES.
  • Right click on the printer you want to connect to over the network and select PROPERTIES from the list.
  • Select the PORTS tab from the window which will appear
  • Click on the ADD PORT button (Leave default setting of LOCAL PORT set)
  • Click NEW PORT
  • In the window which appears type in the location of the printer using the following syntax: \\192.168…\nameofprinter (as an example, if your printers name is  ‘netPrinter’  hard wired to a PC with the ip address of ‘192.168.1.2’ then you would type in the following \\192.168.1.2\netPrinter
  • Click CLOSE and then close the Printer Properties window.
  • Your computer should now be connected to printer over the network.

Hope this helps someone.

Data Recovery

I have been asked recently by quite a few people if it is possible to recover data from a hard drive which is no longer recognised by their system. In most cases, as long as a hard drive has not mechanically failed, the data on the drive should be recoverable. In approx 90 – 95% of cases it is normally possible to recover everything back from a drive – in some instances however, this percentage can drop where for instance a virus has been on the system. Should you find your drive has failed mechanically your data may still be able to be saved but only by specialist companies who will take your drive apart in laboratory conditions.

A second question which has came up quite a lot is: Can files be recovered if they are deleted or if the hard drive is formatted accidentally. If files have simply been deleted via the recycle bin or if a hard drive has been formatted then most of the time recovery can be a very straight forward process. There are instances however, where corruption may happen which will stop files from been fully recovered.

Hope this helps.

How to turn off Narrator in Windows Vista

I have had quite a lot of people ask me how to get rid of Microsoft Narrator in Windows Vista. Here’s how to do it:

Go to START > ALL PROGRAMS > ACCESSORIES > EASE OF ACCESS > EASE OF ACCESS CENTRE. Under the EXPLORE ALL SETTINGS section click USE THE COMPUTER WITHOUT A DISPLAY. There should be a checkbox in this area to turn off Narrator.

Hope this helps.

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  • Many thanks Dominic for your speedy response to our computer problems. You arrived promptly and solved the problems very quickly and helped us to understand a few elementary procedures at a very reasonable cost. We would highly recommend you to others who suffer computer problems and no doubt we will require your services in the future.

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microsoftcert Horsham PC Repairs Laptops Network Wireless


microsoftcert Horsham PC Repairs Laptops Network Wireless