Thursday, July 21, 2011

Computer Repair Centers - 101

If your computer is running slow, broken, or just not working the way you want, computer maintenance and checkups are as important as getting your car looked at.

Computer Repair Centers serve several purposes
  • Diagnose and Fix Hardware and Software Problems
  • Serve as Training Centers for Computer Users
  • Fix Your Computers at Reasonable Prices
  • Hired Computer Experience
 You should try your best to troubleshoot your problems, however, a if you're unable to solve your problems, it's a good idea to consult a computer expert on your issue. Computer repair stores are
in almost every city, so finding a decent one is fairly easy.

Some Examples of Computer Repair Service Google Searches:
  • Denver Computer Repair
  • Denver Virus Removal
  • Parker Virus Removal
It's best to find a local computer repair store in order to fix your problems. While there are major brands out there, they typically make their money off software sales rather than actually fixing your problems. They pair up with software companies in order to try to push sales, as to where your local mom-and-pop store typically will fix your problem and keep you happy without the sales pitch.

Pricing and Costs
Computer Repair Stores are typically cost efficient and very affordable. However, be sure to get a quote for your service upfront. This way you know exactly what it is you're paying. Do a little bit of research. Check out the cost of the hardware you're looking to replace. For example, if your harddrive died, try checking on websites like NewEgg to be able to compare what your quote is and what the cost of the hardware is.

Pricing typically runs by the hour, however, some services offer pricing by the job, or by book hours. Like taking your car to the mechanic, there will be parts and labor that is typically involved in a repair. Typically, repairs cost around $50-$75 depending on the level of complexity and time involved in the repair.

The level of complexity goes up when you have a laptop, for example. Desktop computers are relatively easy to access and fix, but laptops are slightly more complex to get into the internals of the computer.

How long does it take?
Computer repairs typically do not take too long, however, depending on your problem, there may be some part orders that will take some time to get. Computer repairs will rarely take longer than two weeks. If your computer repair is urgent, be sure to let whoever is taking care of your computer know, and they will expedite your repair. Most problems, however, can be fixed in 24-48 hours. 

Quality of Service
Be sure to read about your computer shop. Much like with a car, some people are just out to make some money and don't care too much about their public image. Do some research online and find some reviews of services. Most PC repair stores are happy to explain to you the costs involved up front, and will tell you exactly what is being done.

Focus Computer Repair is an expert computer repair shop located in the Denver area. If you're interested in learning more, check out their Denver Computer Repair website or go ahead and give them a call!

Monday, July 18, 2011

How to avoid the Conflicker Virus

The Conflicker virus, aka Downadup and Kido, is a nightmare for computer users world round. This virus has spread to over 10 million computer systems, and nearly every country on the planet. This virus prevents your ability to use antivirus software correctly, it also creates a backdoor to allow more payloads of viruses to be dumped onto your computer without you knowing.

In order to avoid infection, here are some simple steps you can take in order to avoid this nasty worm:

  1. Keep Windows updated. Windows regularly releases updates that removes security holes that viruses and worms exploit in order to install malicious code on to your computer. 
  2. Use a good Anti-Virus. See our post on Anti-Virus Software for recommendations.
  3. Be sure to know what you're browsing on the internet. Don't visit websites that are shady. Know what you're downloading and opening. 
These are some simple tips and tricks in order to avoid the Conflicker virus. One of the biggest step you can take is being safe on the internet and avoiding opening random things. If, by chance, you do open something that is infected, your second line of defense should be a decent antivirus.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Koobface Virus: What it is, and how to protect yourself.

As Facebook viruses become more and more popular, so do viruses associated with its use. Every day, people are falling victim to viruses sent via Facebook from their "friends" - which are actually their hacked or phished accounts attempting to spread the virus and take their personal information.

Let's examine one of these many Facebook viruses, and how to avoid it:

The KoobFace Virus

What it is:

This is a worm I think everyone on Facebook has seen before - a friend sends you a message, chat IM, or posts on your wall saying something in an attempt to have you click a link included in the message. For example, "I just saw this video of you here(here would be link to the page that steals your information)! I can't believe you would do this!".

This message is usually posted in mass to all the victims friends, in an attempt to get them to click the link. The link is usually a download of a malicious file, or a fake Facebook page that has you put your information in to be stolen. Most of the time this link will be posted to the Wall, because then it is viewable to those browsing Facebook profiles as well.

How to avoid it:

One simple way to avoid this virus is to not click ANY external links on Facebook. Since this is not always possible however, there are many other ways to avoid becoming infected.

Often, these messages are fairly suspicious in their own right. If you are at all suspicious of the link sent, send a response to your "friend" asking them any question. These viruses are not designed to respond, so if they don't respond you can be sure its not them. On the same note, how many of your friends send messages linking you to random pages as their introduction to your conversation? Oftentimes they'll begin with "Hey", "How's it going", or something similar. Use common sense here.

If you were sent a link and think it is a virus, check your friend's Facebook activity to see if they are posting the same link to others walls. If so, delete the message from your wall immediately to avoid further infection of your friends.

If you have been infected with the KoobFace worm, or think you have been infected with the KoobFace worm, this Denver Virus Removal shop can remove the virus within 24 hours and have you back on your PC with your personal information safe from hackers.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Paid vs Free Antivirus - Which is right for me?

When deciding on an antivirus software to use with your computer, you are faced with one major question:

Is it worth it to pay for antivirus, rather than use the free version?

In this blog post we will explore the possible answers to this question, and the reasons why you should choose a paid or free antivirus.

What is the difference between paid and free antivirus?

Other than cost, there a few big differences between paid antiviruses and their free versions. Most of this difference is in the function that the antivirus program has - that being said, it is important to note that not all free antiviruses will cut the exact same functions as the next.

  • Real-time scanners: Most (if not all) free antiviruses will not include a real time scanner function. A real time scanner is a virus scanner that is constantly running and protecting your system from attacks through the network, files, emails, programs, and any other attack that may occur while the computer is running. Free antivirus will usually have a monitor that blocks incoming attacks via the network, and will scan and protect you from files that are opened. 

  • Email scanner: An email scanner is a function most free anti-virus programs will not have. This function will scan your emails and attachments for viruses before you open them, in an attempt to protect you from infection. Many Adobe PDF files are infected with rootkits and malware, that are sent via email from an unknown sender - these emails usually try to get the user to click on a link which will download the PDF and save it to their computer. 

Is there a difference in detection and elimination capabilities?

The longstanding myth with virus detection is that the paid version has a better detection and elimination rate than its free version - which simply is not true. The paid and free versions of any antivirus program have the exact same virus, malware, spyware, and malicious file definitions than its free counterpart.

Can I use paid antivirus for my company or business?

Free antivirus software is more than likely not approved for business or corporate use, however it does not hurt to check the EULA to be safe. Almost all free virus removal tools will be specifically for personal use, although some are acceptable to be used in small business with less than a certain number of employees. Paid antivirus software usually has a limit on the number of computers it can be installed on which is all dependent upon which antivirus software you choose to use.

Paid antivirus drawbacks:

Let's examine some of the drawbacks of a paid antivirus program.
  • Cost - These programs cost money, which is usually why people do not use them. 
  • Subscription fees - On top of a one time purchase fee, most paid antiviruses cost a certain amount of money per year, which eventually adds up.
  • Computer Performance - With all the added functions of the software, many of these antivirus programs cause a lower performance of your system. Whether this be major or marginal depends on the software, but this may be a major drawback for people that need every last bit out of their computers, such as gamers.


For most entry level computer users, a paid antivirus may be a better choice, especially if they are not familiar with the functions of a computer. A paid antivirus can help these less experienced users stay protected at all times.

For more advanced users, there is almost no contest that a free antivirus is the way to go. If you are comfortable with your computer, and understand how to stay protected through your own means, then you won't be getting much more by paying for protection.

If you are unsure which virus software is right for you, need advice on which software a professional recommends, or have gotten a virus, consider calling this Denver Virus Removal specialist, Focus Computer Repair.

What is Anti Virus Software?

Antivirus or anti-virus software is used to prevent, detect, and remove thread to a computer called malware, such as computer viruses, worms, trojans, spyware, and adware.

Antivirus software uses several methods to discover and prevent these threats, which are all mostly self managed - which means there is little interaction between the user of the program and the program itself. Many companies creating antivirus programs are working to make their programs as user friendly as possible, with little interaction necessary.

There are a few problems with Antivirus software that do exist, and part of this blog will explore them.

Identification Methods

Signature based detection - This is the most common form of virus detection used by antivirus programs. Antivirus companies create "dictionaries" of viruses which keeps a record of the virus and its characteristics, and then update their "definitions" within the "dictionary" of viruses to discover them. The drawback to this detection method is that the virus must fit the definition exactly, so if it has mutated or changed since its inception, the antivirus tool will not detect it.

Heuristic detection - Heuristic detection attempts to circumvent the problem with signature based detection. Heuristic detection monitors mutations and changes within malware or any malicious file, and uses that as a patched temporary definition to remove the file.


As with any system, antivirus software is not perfect. Let's discuss some drawbacks:

False Positives: A false positive is when an antivirus software detects a safe file as spyware, malware, or a virus. Sometimes, these files are even important files to the operation of your computer. For example, according to, in April 2010 Norton Antivirus detected a false positive in svchost.exe (a file necessary to Windows operation), rendering any system running Windows XP unusable.

While this may put you off from antivirus programs, false positives creating such disabling issues is rare.

Rogue Security Applications: Some malware creators are using the success of antivirus programs as a platform to spread their malware, and steal their victims credit card information, and request payments from them for fake Antivirus software.

This type of software installs a fake antivirus program on your computer, that runs a fake scan which brings up several fake virus alerts. In order to remove these fake viruses, the program asks for your credit card information. If you suspect you have a rogue antivirus software, please do not enter your information! Call a virus removal expert such as Focus Computer Repair, who specializes in Denver Virus Removal, or anywhere in the Denver Metro area.

Cost: Antivirus software costs money. While some versions may be free - these usually lack major functions that paid software includes, which leaves your system at risk. This drawback will be explored in depth in a later blog.

If you're in the Denver area and you're looking for some advice on antivirus software, looking for someone to take a look at your computer if you suspect a virus, or want some recommendations on what direction to head in, try giving this Denver Computer Repair shop a call.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Illusion of Security on the Internet

According to the APWG there are 31,173 phishing and password stealing websites recorded. Every quarter, those sites increase by a minimum of 4%. Top government officials had their passwords snagged by Chinese phishing sites. Viruses like Stuxnet's source code, a computer virus that was made in order to topple nuclear plants was recently released on the internet. $500,000 worth of bitcoins was recently stolen via a virus and sold. On the internet, people's most personal data, your personal data included, is seen by hackers as a string of text with a value attached. There is a black market for trading passwords, email addresses, credit card numbers, video game accounts, and anything else hackers can get their dirty hands on. So what can you do to protect your personal information on the internet?

The first, most obvious solution is to install a proper antivirus in order to handle your security. But even then, there are viruses that mask themselves as antivirus, when in reality, they are in fact viruses. On top of that, there are literally thousands of antivirus programs to choose from. Over all, this contributes to an illusion of security on the internet, when in reality, you may be offering your computer up to hackers, or malicious software. You could spend hours reading up on what antivirus software will handle your computer best, looking up reviews, and trying to decide what it is you should purchase, or you can consult a professional to help you secure your system.

However, even with that, you should know who you're talking to. Take for example Best Buy's Geek Squad. Geek Squad was thought up as a marketing ploy for Best Buy. You take your computer to them and immediately get an outrageous fee just to tell you what is wrong with your computer. Then, you have to sit there while they try their best to make you buy as much software as you can. Why take your serious problem to someone who is just there to sell you a sales pitch?

However, among all the madness, there does exist a beacon of hope. Local computer shops dedicate themselves and make their entire business on keeping customers happy, and will avoid entirely that sales pitch companies like Best Buy are oh-so-ready to throw in your direction, hoping you'll cave and take their expensive recommendations, charging you the entire time.

If you're interested in real security rather than an illusion of it, or you're looking for something beyond security through obscurity and hoping that someone doesn't highjack your information and sell it, consult a professional that knows what their doing. Give your local computer repair store a call and ask their recommendations. They'll gladly give you real advice and help you get some iron clad security on your computer.

If you're in the Denver area and you're looking for some advice, looking for someone to take a look at your computer, or want some recommendations on what direction to head in, try giving this Denver Computer Repair shop a call.

Friday, July 1, 2011

What Are Trojans?

There is a lot of virus jargon thrown around: Rootkits, worms, trojans, etc. But what do these words mean? How dangerous are they? And how do you go about solving them? In this post, we'll take a quick look at Trojans.

What is a Trojan?
A Trojan is a type of program that hides its identity behind something more useful. There are prominently two types of Trojans we see today. The stand-alone, and the modified. The stand-alone is a program that claims to be a tool, yet in reality, is a program that is used to steal personal information, and makes your computer a zombie to the hacker. However, this type of Trojan relies on a good deal of social engineering and code difficulty as to not alert the user to it running.

The other type, a modified program with the malicious code inside can take over a computer without the user even knowing anything was wrong. This would be like opening a program and allowing the code to execute in the background, highjacking all of your data.

What Do They Do?
A Trojan is different from a virus. A virus makes copies of itself, and manipulates the computer they reside on. A Trojan is more of a form of spyware. It monitors the computer for personal information which it steals to be traded on the black market.

Other functions of Trojans include:
  1. Download other maleware
  2. Create a "back-door" into your computer allowing hackers to infiltrate your computer
  3. Record what you type, usernames, passwords, credit cards, emails, and any other information that may be personal or vital that the hacker can use.
 Some Trojan names are:
  • SpeedRunner.exe
  • Srdshd.exe
  • GetModule36.exe
  • Gy.exe
  • Bkha.exe
  • Aspimgr.exe
  • Cvsdfw.exe
  • Spgxwd.exe
If you think you have a Trojan Horse installed somewhere on your computer, it is best to get it fixed immediately. The malicious code these programs deliver can be very severe and cost you a good deal of money. Monitor your processes and what it is that you open. Make sure to have updated anti-virus software, as well as a decent firewall in place. Not all anti-virus software will catch these problems. If you're in the Denver or Parker area in need of Virus Removal, check out this Denver Computer Repair store.