TechMan Texts: Malware invasions nothing personal

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For the first time in my computing life, my computer was invaded by malware.

I was alerted to this by ads that were popping up where they weren't supposed to be. I ran the security software scan to no avail.

So I shut down and called the IT department (this was at work). They came and took my computer away.

I am lucky this happened at work. My friends in IT will nuke the hard drive (erase everything) and restore it to a clean machine. That's the only way to be sure malware is gone.

At home, that would mean backing everything up, formatting the hard drive, restoring all the data and reinstalling all the programs -- a royal pain in the posterior region.

Unfortunately, there is nothing special about my experience. It will happen to most of us, even if we are careful. I don't go to risky websites, click on links or open unexpected attachments in email, or download software from unfamiliar sites.

So how did it happen? I believe someone cracked my Facebook account, which I use for some work tasks. Recently I got an email from Facebook telling me to change my password because someone from Colorado was trying to access my account. Under the security settings in Facebook, users can opt to receive an email if attempts are made to access an account from a distant area. I suggest turning this setting on.

I know this attack was nothing personal. A computer somewhere was chugging away guessing passwords and happened to hit mine.

But I was surprised by my reaction. I was really angry, as though someone had burglarized my home or stolen my wallet. My computer is part of my life and when someone invades it, I take it personally.

TechMan was a regular user of Google's Notebook, a free Web content clipping service. Google killed Notebook in 2011. When Google announced Buzz, its foray into the social media world, TechMan was an early adopter. In 2011, Google killed Buzz.

Google Reader is an RSS reader and news aggregator that TechMan uses every day to survey tech news. Google announced last week that it will kill Google Reader on July 1, much to my dismay.

Google has announced a new note-taking service called Google Keep that will compete with the excellent Evernote. Sorry, Google, three strikes and you're out.

Geek term of the week: Waterholing -- A hacker trying to guess where the employees of a business might frequently go on the Web. The bad guys can then put malware on those sites.

Tip of the week -- This one is for the Firefox browser only but it's nifty. Using Firefox, go to a website with a search field, including Google.

Right click on the site's search box. In the drop down menu, choose, "Add a keyword for this search." In the resulting popup, choose a name.

Using Wikipedia as an example, choose "wi" as an easy-to-remember keyword.

In Firefox's URL address field, type the keyword, a space and the term you want to search.

In our example, type "wi France" hit enter and you will be taken directly to the entry for France in Wikipedia.

You don't have to go to the site or fill in the site's search box.

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