Upgrade Windows 7 RC to Retail Version

The Windows 7 RC begins shutting down every 2 hours starting March 1st, and fully expires in June. All right, you knew you shouldn’t, but you went and installed Windows 7 RC (Release Candidate) on a main computer didn’t you? Better yet, you installed Windows 7 Ultimate RC and now need to put a retail copy of Windows 7 Professional or lower on.  What do you do?

Here’s the problem, if you installed Windows 7 Ultimate RC and need to put a lower retail version on your PC, and save what’s on it, your in for a surprise. It won’t. You will get an error messaging saying you can’t upgrade Windows 7 Ultimate. You need to wipe your drive and reinstall. There has to be another way….

Okay, I’ve led you on long enough. Here is what you do. Go to Upgrade the Windows 7 RC to any Version, and check it out. I have upgraded one of my machines from Windows 7 Ultimate RC to the retail version of Ultimate using this method. It worked flawlessly and kept all of my settings. Note, this method is not supported by Microsoft, and might not work. You could lose data.

But you need to decide if the risk is worth it compared to the time of formatting your machine and completely re-installing everything on it.

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Computer Security Alert: Scareware, Malware’s Evil Brother

Recently, I have seen a strong rise in false anti-virus malware programs called “scareware”. According to Wikipedia:

Scareware comprises several classes of scam software, often with limited or no benefit, sold to consumers via certain unethical marketing practices. The selling approach is designed to cause shock, anxiety, or the perception of a threat, generally directed at an unsuspecting user. Some forms of spyware and adware also use scareware tactics.

A tactic frequently used by criminals involves convincing users that a virus has infected their computer, then suggesting that they download (and pay for) antivirus software to remove it. Usually the virus is entirely fictional and the software is non-functional or malware itself. According to the Anti-Phishing Working Group, the number of scareware packages in circulation rose from 2,850 to 9,287 in the second half of 2008. In the first half of 2009, the APWG identified a 583% increase in scareware programs.

The version I have seen brings up a fake anti-virus alert in a webpage while you are surfing. It looks like a legitimate warning and says that you need to scan your system for viruses. It then offers you a link to scan the system. The alert is fake, but if you click on the link, it could download a real virus to your machine. It “scares” you into installing the virus, thus the name “scareware”.

It is imperative to have a current ant-virus/ anti-spyware program installed on your system. You should also check the status of your anti-virus regularly to ensure that it is active and downloading updates. If you do not have an anti-virus program, I highly recommend PC Tools Spyware Doctor with Antivirus protection.  It has won many industry awards for protection including PC Magazine Editors Choice Award.

North Korea More Prepared For Cyber War Than US

In a Forbes.com article, Richard Clarke, former anti-terrorism czar, says that US is at the bottom in defense when it comes to nations that have cyberwar capabilities.

In his new book, Cyberwar: The Next National Security Threat And What To Do About It, Clarke states that cyber defense depends on how porous a nations electronic borders are. And this is where the US is very vulnerable. Nations like China and N. Korea can disconnect from the grid much easier than the US.

On the positive side, Clarke lists the US as number one in cyber attack capabilities, followed by Russia, China, and Iran. North Korea comes in near the bottom of the list. This is probably a good thing as recently North Korea threatened the US with possible nuclear strike over its joint military exercise with South Korea.

Sky Hacking: From Predator Drones to Satellite Internet

Recently, America found out that terrorists backed by Iran have figured out how to intercept predator drone feeds. The problem was that these signals weren’t encrypted. Well according to Leonardo Nve, of the security company S21Sec, predator feeds aren’t the only signals from the sky that are unencrypted.

It just blows my mind that the military would use any unencrypted communications. But that is what they did with the predator UAV. Terrorists were able to receive live feeds from the drones, and it only cost them around $25 to do so.

With around $30 worth of equipment,  Leonardo Nve says that the same thing can be done to many satellite internet services. Digital Video Broadcast (DVB) signals are usually unencrypted and can be exploited. Leonardo says that he has impersonated satellite users, hijacking their sessions and even impersonated web sites by intercepting DNS requests.

“What’s interesting about this is that it’s very, very easy,” says Nve. “Anyone can do it: phishers or Chinese hackers … it’s like a very big Wi-Fi network that’s easy to access.”

This adds a whole new degree of difficulty in tracking back hacking attempts. Read the full story at Forbes.com.