Bits from Bill Pytlovany: Favorite Tips for Online Shopping

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By Bill Pytlovany

It’s been five years since media coined the term Cyber-Monday but the truth is everyday is a  great shopping day online.  I planned on writing an article about the safety of online shopping but noticed everyone was already doing it.  Many sites provide the same duplicate tips. So I thought I might include some of the best tips and post them along with my favorites.

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Detecting Facebook Security Problems

I joined FaceBook roughly about 1 year ago, and I have truly enjoyed the experience. I have connected with many old friends and relatives. Without FaceBook none of this would be possible, and hence my life is a little richer. But and this is a big but, Facebook is evolving into a dangerous place.

Let me give an actual example of how one can be tricked into downloading badware when on Facebook. First, I would like to introduce an old friend of mine, Duffy Conway. Duffy worked at Gateway in sales, and was consistently one of the company’s top producers. I left Gateway over 10 years ago, and I was delighted to have Duffy as my friend on Facebook.

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TechBite: 5 Net Tricks to Save You Money

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By Steve Bass

Frugal? Thrifty? No, Cheap!
"You’re a bargain hunter," one of my more polite friends says. My wife’s more to the point: She calls me a cheapskate. I like being frugal, but what do I know? Call me whatever you want (you will anyway), I don’t like paying retail and I’m always looking for a deal, especially when shopping online.

The Internet gives me the chance to comparison shop, see how shipping figures into the price, look over specifications, and feel confident I’ve found the best buy. Here are some of the sites I use.

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Firefox…Your Guess is as Good as Mine

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I remember the good old days when I used Internet Explorer 6 and it seemed everyone else was using Firefox 2.0. Of course that wasn’t the case as Firefox only had about 15% market share, but users were very vocal about telling you what the best browser was. If I were to write a discouraging word about Firefox, I would get roasted a crispy brown like a turkey in November.

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Bits from Bill: We Have Your Password & We Own You

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By Bill Pytlovany

Every few months I like to write about passwords and backups just to remind everyone how important these issues can be. While I’d like to remind you again to review your backup policies, I really want to stress some common sense password protection.

I’m sure you all know enough not to use your kids or pets names for passwords but do you use different passwords for every different site you visit online? If not, you could be in real danger and you’re putting everyone else in danger too. STOP IT!

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ProAm Phishing Event Held at…

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Thursday May 15th, 2009, Facebook was again hit by a phishing attack. Facebook says it responded quickly to block fake links being shared on the site. Attacks came in the form of “Wall Posts” and inbox messages. The above link to their recent blog gives more information on the steps they have taken.

From what I gather you might also receive an email with the subject “Hello”. If you open it and click on the link, you’ll be taken to a Facebook Look-a -Like page. You might see a name containing 151.im or 121.im. Don’t open it, don’t click on it, don’t put in your name and password.

Maybe Facebook doesn’t hold the most sensitive of information around, but it’s obviously important to someone. I’m sure all the regular methods will be used to make money form our forever lost and probably now well worn information.

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Happy Anniversary XP SP3

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It’s been a full 6 months since the release of Windows XP SP3. The unsuspecting public downloaded it faster than Tom Cruise jumps a couch, and it wasn’t long before 25% of us found we had grabbed a ticking time bomb. Endless reboots, blue screens, data loss and reinstalls were the wails coming from every help forum on the World Wide Web. In some cases John Q Public didn’t even know the grenade was coming. It was tossed in the middle of the night by Microsoft’s Automatic Update service. You don’t need to imagine the problems this created because you lived it.

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Your PC is NOT Old

I just finished doing the math. I began computing in 1983 and during that time, I have owned exactly 10 different computers. That means, the average life of one of my PC’s is 2.5 years. That certainly is an eye opener. 2.5 years is not that long a time in PC years. When I purchased each one, my anticipation was a lot more than a couple of years, so why is that?

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Botnets, Now What?

Just when I was becoming accustomed to using spyware removal tools and running the occasional Pitstop virus scan (few people keep their antivirus current these days), something new comes along.

Have you ever wondered why your machine seems like it’s operating in mud or is just ignoring you? Well that’s probably because it’s operating just fine for someone else. Yep, we’re talking Botnets. Botnets are using your CPU, draining your memory, just waiting to be told what to do by someone making money from your investment. You don’t mind do you?

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PC Pitstop PC Information Results

Our September 2007 survey polled the folks visiting the PC Pitstop web site to determine just how intimate people are with their PCs. Nine out of ten people surveyed indicated that they knew the manufacturer of their PC, the size of their hard drives and how much RAM is installed. Almost as many indicated that they remember the model number of their PC and who manufactured the CPU. No surprises there. These are the common attributes that PC marketers highlight in their ads and that most people look for when buying a PC.

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Dirty Spyware Tricks

If you had a complete knowledge of what most spyware was doing to your system, you would never agree to install it. So how does it end up installed on so many PCs? Here are some of the dirty tricks that spyware uses to worm its way onto your system and stay there. (Not all spyware uses every technique.)

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Tribal Fusion Advertising

Since early in 2002, we have been using an ad network called Tribal Fusion that serves banner and popup ads to our web site. And since 2002, I have hated these popup ads. Dave would regularly bother me to kill the popup ads, but we just could not afford to do it. Advertisers are willing to pay a significant premium for pop up ads, and at times they have been a significant portion of our revenues. Although XP Service Pack 2 initially provided a respite to users with its built-in popup blocker, nearly all the ad networks have found ways around popup blockers, which makes the popups even more annoying.

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What is spyware?

Over the past few years, a new class of software has emerged that’s up to no good. It goes by many names: spyware, adware, foistware, malware, eulaware, or even crapware. For simplicity we’ll just call them all spyware. Here are some of the “features” you get from spyware. Some spyware may only use one or two of these tactics, while others do quite a bit more.

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Beware of Phishing Scams

Beware of Phishing Scams by Rob Cheng There is a growing menace on the Internet called phishing. In simple terms, phishing can be defined as using fraudulent emails and web sites to trick you into revealing passwords and user names. The scary part is that phishing is becoming a growing and thriving industry. AntiPhishing.org reported […]

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Safe Surfing

Your kids are being targeted by spyware and other Internet-based threats. What can you do to help them surf safely?

In the first installment of this series, we showed how various Web sites and software publishers target your children and teenagers with threats such as spyware and adware. Now let’s look at what you can teach your kids about how to surf more safely in spite of the dangers. We’ll highlight some of the danger signs that can provide a tip that something is amiss, and show how to respond in a way that can protect your kids and your computer.

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Happy Birthday PC Pitstop!

March 9 cake

Five years have gone by since we opened up shop in March 2000 with a little web site called PC Pitstop. We certainly had our challenges during the first few years. The stock market bubble burst the same month we opened our doors, and September 11th dealt us another blow. We managed to get through those tough times, though, and things are looking up today.

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Google and Spyware

On February 1, 2005, Google announced record revenues of $1.032 billion and profits of $303 million. Just like everyone else in the world, I was blown away. What a great company! The stock market seemed to agree since Google’s stock price hit a record high after their earnings announcement.

But there’s something that has been bothering me and many others in the antispyware community about the search engine juggernaut. And that’s Google’s ties to spyware.

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It Pays To Read License Agreements

I have a deal for you. In exchange for a free piece of software that helps you keep track of your passwords and other log on information, I’m going to install other programs on your PC that will track your web surfing and display advertising that pops-up on your screen. There will also be other types of ads on your computer based on information we collect.

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Privacy Scams

Privacy Scams As you’ll see from the other articles in this section, there are genuine threats to your privacy on the Internet and your own PC. However, there are also many scammers that try to worry you about things that are usually not threats, often through alarmist ads that look like they are system warnings. […]

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Yahoo and Claria

When Yahoo acquired Overture in September 2003, it may have bought itself a load of trouble.

Prior to the Yahoo acquisition, Overture had cut a deal with Gator (which has since changed its name to Claria Corporation) to display Overture pay-per-click advertising to users of the Gator Advertising Information Network (GAIN). As we’ve noted in earlier investigations, this deal took many Overture customers by surprise. When we contacted some Overture advertisers in September 2003, several were unaware that their ads were now being shown to Gator users and one indicated to us that they had discontinued their Overture advertising as a result.

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Anti Spyware Blues

If you’ve seen our previous coverage of spyware, you already know how untrustworthy the purveyors of this nefarious software can be — and how much of a danger malicious programs can pose to your PC. But waking up to the threats and resolving to protect yourself against them isn’t enough. You still have to keep your guard up, because even when it comes to anti-spyware software, there are companies that will try to take advantage of you. All over the Web you can find phony and ineffective anti-spyware products, suspect anti-spyware review sites, and misleading advertisements — including ads for suspect products that show up on sites you might otherwise trust.

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Pass it Along

Nice to have you at PC Pitstop. Whether you are new to Pitstop or a returning vet, and I am sure that you will find something new and interesting here at the Pitstop. I am pleased to say that Pitstop is thriving, which is good news for you as well as for us. This means that we can continue to offer our services for free. Pitstop has been profitable for 7 consecutive months, and I really believe that we are over the internet hump.

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Our Sponsors

Hola Amigos!

Welcome to PC Pitstop. Or if you’re a returning veteran, which many of you are, welcome back. We sincerely appreciate your visit to our site, and I hope that we can help your computing experience in a positive way. Whether that’s autofixing a problem, or learning more about your PC, or finding a new online PC guru friend.

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Holiday Shopping

HAPPY Holidays, everyone! In our family, each person makes a list of the gifts they would like to receive, and then my mom decides who needs to buy what for each person. We used to do it the old-fashioned way, but this way is so much better. Everyone gets what they want, and we can spend the day after Christmas enjoying each other’s company instead of running to the store to return gifts.

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Thanks for your Support, and How You Can Keep Supporting!

LET me start off this month by saying “Thank you.” Thank you for all the tremendous feedback and supportive e-mails. Thank you for telling your friends about our site. Our tracking shows that ‘friend’ is the number one traffic driver to PC Pitstop. Thank you for purchasing things through our site. And thank you to all the writers who have chosen to write about us in PC World, Money Magazine, Access Magazine–and a special thank you to everyone at ZD-TV (now called TechTV).

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