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Welcome to this week's edition of the Computer Kindergarten Newsletter.
Today is Sunday, September 15, 2013

In this Issue:
Special Feature: The Difference Between Antivirus and Anti-Malware (and Which to Use)
Tips & Tricks: Top 25 Most Popular Anti-Spam Tips, Tricks and Secrets: How to Know the Email Address for Spam Complaints
Special Series: How to Find Things in Windows 8
This Week's Topic: Is it Ok to Leave My Computer On?
Special Feature: iPad Basics - More Communication Apps
Websites of Interest: September is World Alzheimer's Month; Fall Vegetable Gardening Tips; Documentary Heaven; How Come?; Free Book Sifter


Special Feature: The Difference Between Antivirus and Anti-Malware (and Which to Use)

By Alan Henry of lifehacker.com/

Antivirus is a confusing matter: it's called antivirus, but there are tons of other types of malware out there. So...do those programs also scan for spyware, adware, and other threats? Here's how to make heads or tails of it all, and which tools you can trust to keep your PC clean.

We may be beyond the days where viruses made the evening news, but that doesn't mean that viruses and other malware are gone forever. They're there, more than happy to infect your computer and add it to a botnet or spam everyone in your contact list. On the bright side though, with some common sense, a good understanding of what you’re up against, and the right tools, you can keep your PC safe pretty easily.

De-Mystifying Viruses, Malware, and Other Threats

Let's start with the differences between "viruses" and "malware." Viruses are a specific type of malware (designed to replicate and spread), while malware is a broad term used to describe all sorts of unwanted or malicious code. Malware can include viruses, spyware, adware, nagware, trojans, worms, and more. However, because viruses (and to a lesser extent, trojans and worms) made headlines a few years ago, most security companies focused their marketing on them, which is why they're called "antivirus."

Other tools call themselves "anti-malware," but malware is a broad term that includes viruses—so it isn't clear which threats they cover either. So, we set out to find out which tools cover which threats, and how to keep yourself 100% covered.

How to Tell Which Tools Scan for Which Threats

Many people think their anti-malware tool also protects them from viruses, even when when it doesn't, and vice-versa. We talked to some of the big players in both fields to figure out what their apps will and won't protect you from. Here's what they said:

Avast! Free Antivirus

When we asked the folks at Avast (our favorite antivirus tool) whether their tool scanned for malware besides viruses, they responded with an emphatic yes. When we probed a bit deeper and asked about the different types of malware that Avast protects its users from, Director of Viruslab Operations Jiri Sejtko explained it this way:

Avast scans for and protects customers from all varieties of malware. Viruses were extremely “popular” in the ‘90s, which is when the term “Antivirus” became common, but today viruses are the minority when it comes to malware. There are, however, a few at-large viruses currently evolving and spreading, these include “Sality” and “Virut”. More common than viruses is malware like Trojans, Worms, Backdoors, Exploits, Adware, and PUP (Potentially Unwanted Programs), which can include communication clients, remote desktops and password revealers, just to name a few.

The focus of online criminals has shifted and therefore malware has changed. Criminals see today’s online society as an opportunity to steal personal data including credit card and banking details, pins and passwords, and information such as home addresses, phone numbers and even the names of family members. Criminals can, for example, write malicious code and distribute it in the form of a trojan. The trojan can collect personal data which can be sold to crime organizations who can then steal money directly from the victims bank account.

Avast’s immense user base consists of more than 184 million people worldwide, each of whom is connected to the Avast cloud, this allows each file execution to be analyzed online. As soon as malware is detected within the user base a close to real time update is sent to all users, providing almost immediate protection against all the newest malware.

Bottom line? Avast protects you from the "classic" threats like viruses, worms, and trojans, but also offers protection against adware, bots, and other exploits.

Avast's response was particularly interesting because they went out of their way to point out that Avast also protects you from a lot of the new security threats that have appeared in recent years, like hacks that hijack social network accounts or steal passwords. Additionally, it gives us some insight into how Avast updates its clients in real time whenever new threats are detected, without forcing users to download massive virus definition packages or database uplifts (one of the things we like about it so much).


McAfee's response was significantly more terse than the other companies we spoke to, but it's also the most clear. When we asked them if they protected their users from more than just viruses, they said yes. When we asked what exactly, they said "viruses and malware including Trojans, worms, spyware, rootkits, and keyloggers."

The level of protection that McAfee offers however, depends largely on the specific McAfee product you're running. All of McAfee's paid software packages include antivirus and antimalware protection, from the $35 McAfee AntiVirus Plus to the $63 McAfee Total Protection. As you move to more expensive products, you get other features like protection for your Facebook or Twitter accounts, identity theft protection, cloud-based backup services, and more.

However, it wasn't clear whether McAfee will protect you from some of the more nuanced threats like zero day exploits, toolbars you've installed, or browser vulnerabilities. If you're thinking about a premium product (which we’ll talk about later), your best bet is to read the description of the software suite you want very carefully before buying. Most antivirus companies depend on you being confused and just buying the most expensive package because you think it offers the most protection, when it may just include a bunch of features you don't need.


Symantec, who makes Norton, was a bit more forthcoming. They explained first that all Norton security tools all scan all forms of malware (including viruses), and that they encourage their users to (correctly) think about malware in broader terms. When we asked them what they specifically protect their users against, they broke it into four categories: Infectious malware, web threats, concealment malware, and mobile malware.

Infectious malware consists of viruses and worms; the types of malware you're probably already familiar with, and the types that almost every security tool will scan for and help you remove. Web threats, on the other hand, are some of the more advanced forms of malware we see on a regular basis today. They include keyloggers, spyware, adware, bots, and even ransomware. Concealment malware includes trojans, backdoors, rootkits, and even fake antivirus software. Mobile malware affects smartphones and tablets.

The Symantec representative we spoke to explained that there are Norton products that protect against all of these threats, and then others that mix and match features based on the level of protection you need. Like we said with McAfee, it's up to you, the consumer, to make sure you're buying a product that offers the level of protection you need without paying for something you don't. On the bright side though, all of the Norton products offer this basic level of protection, from the $40 Norton Antivirus all the way up to the $60 Norton 360. Every product page has a comparison chart on it so you can make sure you're buying the right version for you.

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware

Since some anti-malware utilities are trying to expand into the on-access malware scanning game, we figured we would ask what Malwarebytes, one of our favorite anti-malware tools, will and won't protect its users against. Malware Industry Analyst Adam Kujawa explained that Malwarebytes aims to detect as much malware as possible. However, their focus isn't on those classic threats like viruses and worms:

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware hunts down most often zero-day or zero-hour malware, a term our community uses to explain malware that has been newly created and released on the web. Zero-hour malware can be any type of malware out there that traditional antivirus products have a hard time detecting, so it's an additional security measure to protect the user from the kind of malware they are most likely to encounter while surfing the web. Most zero-hour malware is distributed in drive-by exploits or even via hacked accounts such as Facebook, Twitter or Skype. Some of the most commonly detected malware by our products include the Zeus banker Trojan, as well as other Trojan malware with the same purpose, such as Reveton ransomware and other types of ransomware that attempt to extort users into paying ridiculous fee, and an array of fake antivirus software (we call them rogue antivirus) that usually allow additional malware to be installed.

More recently, we have begun detecting what we call "Potentially Unwanted Programs" (PUPs). PUPs usually refer to adware or other types of software that really doesn't do anything but slow down your system and bombard you with advertisements. We decided that if we are protecting our users from the scum of the net that tries to steal their money via extortion or theft, we should also protect them from the scum of the net that tries to do it legitimately, by fooling the users into thinking their products are useful, when in reality they harm the system and cause more problems for the user. However, the default settings on our scanner only flag the software as potentially unwanted but leave it unchecked for removal. While we advise our users to avoid using this kind of software, since it isn't classified as malware, we don't automatically remove it and leave it up to the user to decide whether or not it's valuable for them. We understand that some users are used to having fifteen search bars in their browser window and prefer to keep it that way.

Malware that we don't target is usually older types that might not have been seen for a few years—we leave that protection up to the antivirus software vendors, since their specialty is protecting the user from known and dangerous malware. In doing so, we are allowed to target specifically the new malware that constantly changes and poses the biggest threat to the average user, who faces possible attacks directly from the web rather than from other sources. At the same time, we always have, and always will, advise our users to use our product in addition to an antivirus, to be doubly protected from the old and the new.

Put simply, Malwarebytes aims to protect you against all manner of malware, but common viruses and older threats aren't included. Their goal is to stay on the forefront and protect users from new exploits, trojans, backdoors, adware, and spyware. For everything else, you'll want a traditional on-access security tool.

Our Recommendation: Use One On-Access Antivirus Tool and One On-Demand Anti-Malware Tool

So here's the bottom line: Most of the popular tools out there will scan for all types of malware. However, you should always make sure your tool does as well. Coupled with good browsing and downloading hygiene, a good security tool should keep you pretty well protected.

However, no one tool can catch everything. So, we suggest you install one security tool (preferably Avast, our favorite) that scans for as much as possible, and that has an on-access scanning engine that protects you from threats while you surf the web, install applications, and open files. Then, install another anti-malware tool (like Malwarebytes Anti-Malware) that you can occasionally use on demand to make sure nothing got through or has been overlooked. With this combination, you'll protect yourself from as much as possible, and it won't cost you a thing.

Note that it's not a good idea to use two security tools that both run all the time in the background on your computer. They'll likely interfere with each other, and possibly even slow down your computer. Use one that runs in the background, and one that runs on-demand, and disable the background one when you run your on-demand one.

When It's Worth Paying For a Premium Security Tool

Premium security products, like Norton and McAfee, are difficult to recommend, even though they offer complete protection in a single (albeit expensive) package. Remember, you're probably looking at $20-$50/yr (in some cases more) in addition to their purchase prices. Even with today's threats, there's surprisingly little that a subscription-based product can offer that free tools don't already provide. The only instance we can think of is if your work (or play) takes you to the seedier parts of the internet, like the dark web, or you share a PC with someone who's browsing and downloading habits are less restrained than yours. If that's the case, you might consider paying for a premium service that scans for everything, all the time, in one app.

Still, you should make the call. If you can get one of those suites and its updates for free from your work or school, then by all means, grab it. (My alma mater used to give out free copies of McAfee, along with free updates for life, and my old job used to give out free antivirus to anyone who worked from home so they could install it on their home computers before connecting via VPN).

In the end, good browsing habits and common sense should be your first line of defense against malware, spyware, and viruses. However, we recommend running a good security suite in the background and an on-demand malware tool to cover everything else. That way you're always protected, and you can scan your system for malware whenever you want to.

Some security experts are saying that 2013 may be the malware's biggest year ever, so just because the evening news doesn't talk about these threats anymore doesn't mean they're not still a problem. Whatever you choose to do, don't assume that your antivirus is protecting you from malware, or vice versa. Read the features of the apps you choose carefully, and make sure you have your bases covered.


Tips & Tricks: Top 25 Most Popular Anti-Spam Tips, Tricks and Secrets: How to Know the Email Address for Spam Complaints

Spam, spam and spam. How to avoid spam, how to filter spam, and how to complain about spam are the items on this menu of junk mail fighting tips. With the help of Heinz Tschabitscher of about.com, we are presenting an ongoing series of tips and tricks that you can use to minimize the amount of junk mail that you will receive in your email inbox.

If you got spam from someone, it is best to complain to their Internet Service Provider. But what email address at the ISP should you use?

Know the Email Address for Spam Complaints

Generally, you can assume that

* abuse@isp.com

has been set up specifically to deal with spam complaints.

If you get spam from a Yahoo! Mail account, you should direct your complaint to abuse@yahoo.com, for example.

If Abuse@* Does Not Work

Some hosts received so much spam at the standard abuse address that they set up special mailboxes. The Network Abuse Clearinghouse keeps a database of such addresses which you can search easily.

To find out which ISP the spammer is using, it's best to use a service like SpamCop.

In our next edition: How to Submit Spam to SpamCop via Email


Special Series: How to Find Things in Windows 8

By Sean Hollister of theverge.com

So now that you know how to navigate the OS, how do you find what you want? Well, you could try Windows 8's Search charm, which is quite powerful. Simply type anywhere on the Start screen to begin searching, and then simply change the type of search to get different types of results.

For instance, if you want to hear a particular song, you could first search your local files, and if it doesn't turn up, click on Music to search Xbox Music, and if that fails, click on Internet Explorer to begin a web search, all without ever leaving the search bar. In fact, you can search in just about any app from this same box, from locations in the Maps and Weather apps, to stock results in the Finance app, to the names of new apps in the Windows Store.

Each new app you download can potentially add a new search category, if it supports the charm, so you may end up with quite a few. To promote your favorite searches higher in the ranking, press and hold (or right-click) on them and pin them higher, or hide the ones you don't want.

For quick access to your favorite apps and desktop programs, pin them to your Start screen by right-clicking them, or press and hold on a touchscreen.

If you prefer Google Chrome and Google Search rather than Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Bing, you can easily install both from http://www.google.com/homepage/windows8/ and set them as your defaults.

To determine which app or desktop program a particular type of file gets launched with, right-click on them in File Explorer and select "Choose default program."

Common Tasks

Between the familiar desktop interface and the Search charm, you shouldn't have much trouble finding most things, but others are more obscure. How do you shut down the computer, for instance? It took us a few minutes to figure that one out. Here are some things you might be looking for, and others that you might like to know about.

First off, you'll find a number of answers in the Settings charm. You can easily connect to a wireless network, change the volume or screen brightness, adjust the keyboard layout, and yes, power down your computer. Additionally, if you invoke the Settings charm from within an app, you'll be able to adjust that app's specific settings.

The Settings charm also lets you access the familiar desktop Control Panel for a variety of settings... but before you get lost in Control Panel minutiae, go back to the Settings charm and check out Change PC settings at the very bottom. This touchscreen-friendly menu lets you change your lock screen and start screen backgrounds, set up user accounts and passwords, manage desktop notifications and privacy settings, add devices like printers, and check for updates to your computer. Be aware that both the left and right sides of the PC Settings menu can scroll up and down, even if it doesn't look like it.

Charms are also good for sending things from one place to another without requiring drag and drop or copy and paste. For instance, if you're looking at a photo, document, or a webpage, you can pull up the Share charm to send it to any app that supports sharing, like an email or social networking client. If you've got a connected device, like a printer or a smart screen, you could also send that photo or document to be printed or displayed with the Devices charm.

To get a list of all the apps on your computer, go to the Start screen, then hit right-click (or drag up / down, or press Windows + Z), and select All apps. Or just press Ctrl + Tab anywhere on the Start screen to get there even faster.

Where do you go if you want to update your apps? Go to the Windows Store app: all available updates will appear in the upper right hand corner.

In our next edition: Organize Apps and Create Groups on the Windows 8 Start Screen

You can review all of our previous Windows 8 articles on our website.

Do you have a question about Windows 8 that we haven’t covered yet? Please email your question and we’ll cover it in a future newsletter article.


Today's Topic: Is it Ok to Leave My Computer On?

From worldstart.com

Each industry has its own “depends on who you ask” question, and one of the most common in the PC industry is “Should you turn off your computer when you’re not using it?” The question is generally difficult to have a consensus on because it depends on the type of computer, the needs of the user and how your system is setup to run maintenance and patching.

Arguments for Leaving Your Computer On

Leaving your computer on will allow regularly scheduled patches and updates to happen. Virus scans and defragments can also be scheduled to be done late at night when your computer is not in use. Many companies prefer computer systems be kept on so IT departments can schedule these tasks without interrupting users during the workday.

Leaving your computer on also allows you to stop/start tasks without having to start the machine, wait for the operating system to load and go back into the program you were using. You can also use the sleep functionality, which limits the power usage. The computer keeps the system memory powered and lets you resume from where you last were very quickly.

Arguments for turning your computer off.

Wear and tear on your computer, especially items which move or spin (such as the hard drive or fans), is based on the number of hours they are on. If your computer is sitting idle at 4 AM, the fans are still spinning and counting down the hours of usable life they have left.

Power usage goes down when a computer is idle, but there is still a power draw. If your computer is in use for 4 hours a day and idle for 20 hours you could be wasting thousands of watts of power per month.

Unattended software updates late at night can be problematic, as you may sit down expecting a working computer only to find something went wrong at 3 AM and you needed to get work done urgently.

Which argument is right?

In this writer’s opinion, I’d rather save the energy and wear/tear and shut down my computer. Depending on the operating system, you may experience slowdowns and memory problems the longer the computer is on due to memory leaks or files not correctly closed, but most modern operating systems can handle being left on for a long time. Mac based computers are far more reliable, and can be left on weeks at a time in most situations. For a work computer I leave on all the time I regularly reboot it once a week to get a fresh start and make sure any updates that require rebooting are performed.

P.S. If you’re wondering if this advice holds true for phones, it depends on the applications you run and the type of phone. Apple iOS phones are coded in such a way to prevent applications from causing operating system problems that need a reboot to fix. Many android phones, due to the open nature of the applications, can benefit from a regular reboot about once a week.


Special Feature: iPad Basics - More Communication Apps

From gcflearnfree.org



FaceTime allows you to make free video calls to other Apple devices. All the other person needs is a device of their own. (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, and most Mac computers are compatible.) If you have an iPad or iPhone, you can even take advantage of your device's front and back camera. For example, you could use the front camera to talk face-to-face, then switch to the back camera to show what's going on around you.

If you haven't already added your friends and family to your contacts, now's a good time to do that. You can't call people in FaceTime just by dialing their number or entering their email address. They have to be part of your contacts list first.

If you have the newest version of the iPad or iPhone, it's helpful to know that you can make FaceTime calls over your cellular network if Wi-Fi isn't available. However, to avoid exceeding your data allowance, we recommend using FaceTime over Wi-Fi whenever possible.

Find My Friends

Find My Friends can be downloaded for free in the App Store. Developed by Apple, this app is designed to work closely with Contacts, Maps, and all the information synced in your iCloud account. It can help you keep track of friends and family, pinpoint their current location, and more. You can even receive alerts about their whereabouts; for example, when they leave or arrive at a specific location.

Find My Friends only works if your friends use the app too. If you don't want your location to be visible, you can always hide it temporarily, or turn it off permanently.

Find My Friends is available for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch only.

Twitter and Facebook

Twitter and Facebook have their own mobile apps for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch. You don't even have to go looking for them in the App Store—instead, you'll find everything you need under your device's Settings. Just navigate to each app, then click Install to get started. Once the installation is finished, the app will walk you through the process of setting it up.

Installing Twitter and Facebook

Both Twitter and Facebook are designed to integrate with Contacts, so you can keep in touch with the people you know even more easily. That means your device may download additional data from your social networking accounts, including more contact information for your friends, or their profile pictures. The results will vary depending on your settings.

In the App Store

Other mobile apps from third-party developers (i.e., apps that are supported by Apple, but not developed by Apple) can be downloaded in the App Store. There, you'll find a wide variety of tools that can help you communicate with friends and family, and keep up with your social networks. For example:

Skype for making Skype calls on the go
LinkedIn for keeping up with business contacts
Google+ for Google social networking
Meetup for finding and organizing social events
Pinterest for bookmarking and social networking
IMO for instant messaging

Remember, the App Store is filled with thousands of choices. If you have something particular in mind (maybe an app for your favorite service), just search for it. There's a good chance you'll find what you're looking for.

In our next edition: Apps for Everyday Tasks - Safari

You can review all of our previous iPad articles on our website.

Do you have a question about your iPad that we haven’t covered yet? Please email your question and we’ll cover it in a future newsletter article.


Websites of Interest:

September is World Alzheimer's Month
From the Alzheimer's Association, learn more about this terrible disease and what you can do to help.

Fall Vegetable Gardening Tips
Don't let your vegetable garden fade away at the end of summer. With a little planning, you can keep growing and harvesting vegetables well into the holidays.

Documentary Heaven
Do you like documentaries? This site has a collection spanning across every genre.

How Come?
Science for the whole family.

Free Book Sifter
This site lists over 40,000 free eBooks on Amazon.com for your Kindle or eReader