Avoid the Nasty Internet Bugs

Everywhere you go on the internet, there are pseudo buttons for fake downloads. These fake downloads can actually be advertisements to legitimate software downloads, the only difference is they are bundled with toolbar add-ons, ad-ware, spyware and other junk that will make your internet computing time very frustrating, to say the least!

Learning how to avoid the pitfalls of loading these programs on to your computer is a valuable skill. The people doing this have got so sneaky about how they are promoting these that it is difficult for even the experienced geek to catch them! Many of us fall for these tricks or they wouldn’t be so widely used.

Fake Links

Ever heard of the bait and switch ploy? It has been in use for hundreds of years. Think of the street vendor with the ball under the cups, rolling them all around, trying to mix you up so you can’t find the ball (if it is even under one of the cups!). This is the same thing they are doing on many websites. Have you ever wanted to download a piece of clip art, a picture, a sound file or video, and when you get to the download page there are dozens of links? You are not really sure which one is really the link to get your file. This is the new bait and switch game. They hope you click on the wrong one.

Here is a prime example of the download ploy:

fake downloads

Not one of the circled download buttons on this page will download the file you are looking for. Instead the link is in the text under add to favorites! Before you click on a button like one of these, hover your mouse/pointer over it. Look in the lower left of your browser window, read the link. If it says something like this:  http://www.googleadservices.com/pagead/aclksa=L&ai=CL9RDXn2VKyiGMGNhAT49YKoC4_pjCndUVt7TZnajM5YSXzbJn29K_1vKBfbUPMWPDNQx6NVnlbZCEoIawp9ZxMxI8DW3e-9xZ23apwfDc

you will not want to click on it.  Read the last few letters of the link. If the last digits say /myvideo.mp4, or http://freevectors/greatpicture/donya.jpg when you hover over it you know you have found your link. Most of the bad links are encoded and unbelievably long!

Bundled software

Even legitimate software can carry malicious or annoying software. Look at this image for installing flash. See the check mark box that asks you to install McAfee Virus Protector?


If you are a student or a faculty/staff member here at USC, you already have virus protection software installed or the network would not allow you on.  If you have more than one virus program on your computer, it can lock your machine down or cause serious issues. A tip for avoiding this, is READ EVERY SCREEN when installing. Don’t assume it is a routine installation or better yet do a manual installation to control what is installed. Another recommendation that I have is to download software directly from the company web page.  In Google if you do a search for software, and it comes up with a little gold box before it that says “AD” you can be certain that it has third party software bundled with it.

Peer-to-Peer Software

Many of you use Peer-to-Peer or file-sharing software, often called something like BitTorrent, on your computer. These are programs that allow users to share files with each other, such as games, software, music or videos.

Cyber-criminals are opportunistic, they will use any means possible to accomplish their goals. Using your data or machine power for the expansion of their malware files through BitTorrent and similar programs is a way for these cyber-criminals to reach a lot of potential victims quickly. It is possible for your computer to become infected by downloading manipulated files through the Peer-to-Peer network venue. My recommendation is don’t use them. If you really feel you must use them why not keep a school computer that is clean, and use an older computer to download and use your shared files.  Your school files are important and the information you have on there is vital. Think of it as a best practice when you become a lawyer with sensitive client information on your computer. You want to protect that information at all costs and BitTorrent, peer-to-peer file sharing is a major threat to that security.

Sharing these files and proprietary software is also a copyright infringement in many countries around the world, including in the U.S.,  and you are putting yourself and your firm at risk of being indicted by groups that monitor the rights of the creators of these files such as RIAA for the music industry and MPAA for the movie industry. The authors themselves are monitoring the use of these sites. Is it worth your career, your information, and your client information to share, and receive these files? Again my recommendation is to quit using these avenues.

If you have been one of the unlucky students, staff members or faculty  that has had to deal with an infected computer, you know how frustrating it can be. The lost time due to computer issues, changing passwords, getting the computer cleaned up and slow performance are all things that can be avoided if you follow the steps outlined in this article.

If you need help cleaning up your computer, the School of Law IT Department is always willing to spend the time to help you get your computer running at optimal performance. Come see us on the second floor of the law library if you need help with any of these areas.


Forty Maps That Explain the Internet

A Vox article shows you how to better understand the Internet via forty maps.   Some of the information is truly stunning, like who has the world’s best overall broadband speeds.



Permanently Deleting Files on a Mac

I had a staff member ask me how they could permanently delete/erase a file off an Apple Mac hard drive.    I thought it was a good question for a “Tip of the Week”.

The below Macworld article  talks about two built in Mac utilities that you can use to permanently delete/erase a file off a  hard drive.


Windows 7 and Windows 8 Shortcut Keys

This week’s “Tip of the Week” concerns shortcut keys for Windows 8 and Windows 7.   The link to an online Yahoo Tech Article below by well-known tech writer David Pogue notes eleven useful shortcut keys for Windows 8.

However, eight of those shortcut keys also work for Windows 7 (I tried all the shortcuts on my Windows 7 workstation).   Only shortcuts #3, #10 and #11 listed in the article work for Windows 8 solely.


This is What it Sounds Like When You Put Tree Rings on a Record Player


This is an excerpt from the record Years, created by Bartholomäus Traubeck, which features seven recordings from different Austrian trees including Oak, Maple, Walnut, and Beech. What you are hearing is an Ash tree’s year ring data. Every tree sounds vastly unique due to varying characteristics of the rings, such as strength, thickness and rate of growth.

Keep in mind that the tree rings are being translated into the language of music, rather than sounding musical in and of themselves. Traubeck’s one-of-a-kind record player uses a PlayStation Eye Camera and a stepper motor attached to its control arm. It relays the data to a computer with a program called Ableton Live. What you end up with is an incredible piano track, and in the case of the Ash, a very eerie one.

Hats off to Traubeck for coming up with the ingenious method to turn a simple slice of wood into a beautiful unique arraignment. It makes you wonder what types of music other parts of nature would play. (see video below)

Source/credits: Bartholomäus TraubeckLive Science , VimeoExpanded Consciousness, where this was originally featured.

Find My iPhone Users Using App to Track Down Thieves Themselves

Apple’s “Find My iPhone” feature has been very helpful in law enforcement tracking down stolen Apple iPhones, Apple iPads and Mac laptops.  In fact, the New York City Police Department highly recommends the use of “Find My iPhone”.

But some iPhone victims are using “Find My iPhone” to take the law into their own hands by tracking down thieves themselves.  As a result, it’s potentially putting those victims at risk.

Internet Explorer Zero Day Exploit

Microsoft, along with several news organizations this morning, is warning users this morning that there is a newly found security flaw in all version of Internet Explorer and that there have been known attacks by malware software writers to take advantage of this flaw.

Microsoft, as well as KrebsonSecurity, a well-known IT Security news web site (which I highly recommend), is recommending that users download and install EMET, which will protect Internet Explorer from potentially being hacked due to this security flaw.  EMET stands for “Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit”.    EMET by default protects all Microsoft Office Suite products and Internet Explorer.   I currently run EMET on my computer.   You can download and install EMET by clicking on the link below.


Here’s a screenshot of EMET protecting Internet Explorer.



Also I recommend not using Internet Explorer as your web browser until the flaw is fixed, unless absolutely necessary due to programs you may run such as ACES or Millennium (both of which require Internet Explorer).   You can use Chrome or Firefox as your browser on windows computers.    The security flaw only affects Internet Explorer.