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Issue #472: August 7 – 13, 2016

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Q:  I searched your great site using term search but to no avail. My apology if I didn’t search thoroughly enough. I’m on a Windows 7, 64 bit system with new Firefox 47 and IE 9, installs. For the last couple months now I get recurring pop-ups “Firefox-patch.exe” options to install this file. I decline mostly due to the sender’s address that looks suspicious. When I get these I add the sender to my block sites access list. Can you please shed some light on this please?

– Tom G.
Navarre, Florida

A: The apologies are mine, Tom, that my humble site let you down.  I’m afraid that the answers to all of life’s technology questions aren’t quite there yet.  That’s why I continue to work on it, adding new Q&A each week.

The screen capture that you included looks more like something that would appear while you’re surfing the web than something that would come out of an e-mail.  You’re fighting a losing battle adding these sites to your browser’s “blocked” list.  It is almost a certainty that the site shown is not the origin of the malware, and it’s very likely that the next attempt will use a different site.  So, blocking them really offers no practical amount of defense whatsoever.  The most effective defense is you being smart enough not to click on something and allow it to run merely because something says it wants to.  It helped tremendously that you actually read the dialog box, and were then able to determine that the entire thing looked suspicious.  That might seem like a small thing to you, but trust your Geek when he says that an incredible number of people would have simply mindlessly clicked to allow the installation of this obvious malware.

What you may not realize is that you probably already have malware on your PC, in the form of whatever it is that keeps showing you that message.  Heaven only knows what else it is doing in the background, so you should take steps to get rid of it as soon as possible.  Here’s a link to a website that may offer some helpful tips on ridding your PC of this Trojan: TinyURL.com/IGTM-0472

• • •

 Geek Topic: Windows Anniversary Update: As you already know, the time period for you to get your free update to Windows 10 closed on July 29th.  Hot on its heels comes the next “latest and greatest” thing from Microsoft, the Windows 10 Anniversary Update.  This oddly named update (who celebrates an operating system’s “anniversary”?)  is now available, and will automatically, if slowly, roll out across the world starting with newer PCs first.  In order to receive your copy automatically, you must have automatic updates turned on, which you generally should have anyway.

This update brings a whole slew of new updates, including improvements to Windows Defender, which now includes the ability to schedule periodic scans of your PC.  A new feature called Windows Ink, which seems more useful on Surface devices, or Microsoft phones, allows you to do things like quickly taking notes or drawing on a screen capture.  There are also “smart” sticky notes that provide task reminders, and can even link to Maps to provide directions.

Microsoft Edge has gotten some improvements.  It now uses less battery life on portable devices.  Microsoft is also bringing Edge Extensions back to the Windows Store, finally allowing some amount of customization to this formerly locked-down browser.  You’ll be able to add features like pop-up ad blocking, password managers, and site-specific helpers such as Pinterest Pin-It, and Amazon Assistant.

Cortana has been improved to work across multiple devices, allowing you to save and recall key information no matter which of your Microsoft devices you happen to be on.  Cortana will now be available on the lock screen as well, allowing you to perform tasks like playing music, asking questions, and setting reminders without having to unlock your device.  Time will tell whether this will be a security issue.

I haven’t had much of a chance to play around with the update yet, so I’m still discovering new features.  Keep watching for more updates, and I’ll share the newest cool stuff as I learn about it.

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