Internet Bandwidth Explained

Posted by admin on May 20, 2011

I have had a number of clients asking questions related to internet bandwidth lately, and I thought I would try and explain it here.  The reason for the questions, is probably the result of the recent CRTC decisions, and the subsequent reversal by the Supreme Court.  If you are unware of what I am talking about, then you should probably check out this article at the CBC first.

The first question I get asked is… “What is difference between Internet Bandwidth and Internet Useage?”  Well, bandwidth is just what it sounds like… the width of your band of internet.  You will also hear it referred to as your download and upload speeds.  In a nutshell, the wider the band, the faster the internet.  Internet useage is the amount of data that has been uploaded or downloaded.

I find that using an analogy sometimes helps.  You could compare your bandwidth to a highway – the more lanes the road has, the more cars can travel it.  Internet useage would be the number of cars that have travelled that road in a month.

When you are looking at internet companies, you want to compare price for sure, but also look at their bandwidth speeds and if they enforce monthly useage-based billing.  If you are an ocassional internet user, then speed and useage will probably not be an issue, but if you want to download music or movies, or watch streaming TV or videos, your monthly bill could be outrageous.

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Watch out for Microsoft Tech Support scams

Posted by admin on May 10, 2011

An edited article by Woody Leonhard, Windows Secrets

“I’m from Microsoft and I’m here to help.” At least, that’s what reader MP thought he heard when he answered the phone. It wasn’t.

Con artists all over the world are bilking big bucks out of unsuspecting Microsoft customers — including savvy Windows users.

In this new epidemic, the scammers are sophisticated, glib, and oh-so-convincing. Know the warning signs. You may be next.

Inside one con that almost succeeded

Here’s how MP describes his experience:

“I was having a problem with Windows XP and posted an inquiry on one of the [presumed to be] Microsoft support sites. My wife received a call from someone wanting to talk to me about my computer. She gave a time when I would be home. I was expecting a call from my ISP. The call came at the arranged time, but it was not the ISP. The caller said he was working on behalf of Microsoft and directed me to a very convincing website for confirmation of his company and his credentials. The caller knew my name and telephone number.

“We talked about the problems I’ve been having with Windows XP. He said it sounded like a virus. He guided me into Windows XP’s Event Viewer and showed me a number of red and yellow flags for applications and systems, which he said were indicative of a malware attack.

“He offered to get a technician to sort the problem for free and directed me to a website, where I had to enter some contact information and my Windows activation code, from the sticker on my PC. He talked me through the process — we were on the phone for almost an hour at that point — and it all went smoothly until I had to enter some sort of warranty code that I didn’t have. He told me to hang on while he checked with his boss.

“A few minutes later, he was back and gave me the unfortunate news that my free support period had ended. He told me I would have to pay $99 for extended support and directed me to a place on the website to enter my credit card information. I’m not sure why, but I smelled a rat, so I hung up on him.

“The caller knew what he was talking about, knew my name and phone number, knew that I was running Windows XP, and knew that I was having problems. I’m a professional electrical engineer and fully aware of phishing and other scams, but I was nearly taken in.”

MP sent me the address of the site the caller used for a reference. I won’t repeat it here because, to this day, I’m not sure whether it’s a legitimate consulting firm site or whether it exists only to provide a backstory for swindlers.

The website certainly had an air of legitimacy. It identified the caller’s company as a “Microsoft Registered Partner” with an official Microsoft logo. “This company is a Technical Support Provider,” the site says. “As computers have become more popular and sophisticated, the job of keeping them running has fallen to an ever-expanding group of specialists, collectively known as Solution Engineers.”

The site went on to say, “The first point of contact is generally the manufacturer’s tech support. However, as manufacturers and others scale back on in-house technical support to control costs, innovative and entrepreneurial technical support companies are building a robust business of providing help and a sense of security to consumers.”

Then I noticed that the site’s mailing address is in Kolkata and the domain is registered in Jharkhand, India — a long, long way from MP’s stomping grounds.

Robust? You could call it that.

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No password on your Wi-Fi? This nightmare could happen to you.

Posted by admin on May 6, 2011

Taken from The Toronto Star, article by Carolyn Thompson, Associated Press

Lying on his family-room floor with assault weapons trained on him, shouts of “pedophile!” and “pornographer!” stinging like his fresh cuts and bruises, the Buffalo homeowner didn’t need long to figure out the reason for the early morning wake-up call from a swarm of federal agents.

That new wireless router. He’d gotten fed up trying to set a password. Someone must have used his Internet connection, he thought.

“We know who you are! You downloaded thousands of images at 11:30 last night,” the man’s lawyer, Barry Covert, recounted the agents saying. They referred to a screen name, “Doldrum.”

“No, I didn’t,” he insisted. “Somebody else could have, but I didn’t do anything like that.”

“You’re a creep . . . just admit it,” they said.

Law enforcement officials say the case is a cautionary tale. Their advice: Password-protect your wireless router.

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LizaMoon Infection: A Blow-by-Blow Account

Posted by admin on May 1, 2011

An edited version of an Article by Fred Langa, Windows Secrets

A nasty piece of malware known as LizaMoon has hijacked links on millions of websites in the past weeks, including some normally safe iTunes and Google links.

Fortunately, LizaMoon is easy to avoid if you know what to look for.

Using rogue-AV scare tactics, LizaMoon tries to trick you into running bogus security-scan and virus-cleanup tools on your PC — but it’s pure malware.

If allowed onto your PC, this particular ploy is especially troublesome because it can partially disable the Windows Security Center and change the Registry so that the full WSC can’t be restarted. It also interferes with Microsoft Security Essentials, if MSE is running. (You’ll find lots more LizaMoon news coverage via Google.)

My encounter with LizaMoon started unexpectedly one evening when a suspicious warning popped up on my screen. As discussed in a previous Top Story, I use Microsoft Security Essentials and the Windows 7 firewall to protect all of my PCs. In over a year of constant use, I’d never had any malware trouble. But that abruptly changed.

That evening, I was searching for something through Google — I don’t recall what. When I clicked a link, a blank page overlaid with a dialog popped up instead of the site I was expecting.

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