Trails End Computer Club

Bulletin for the week of NOVEMBER 13, 2016

EACH Wednesday 

Program or Lesson 9:00 - 10:00 AM
One on One Help 10:00-?
In the Library


If you would like to meet in a small group to discuss special computer related subjects or form a Special Interest Group lets discuss it.

Our bulletin is also available on line by visiting and clicking on bulletin.

Our weekly program or lesson is intended
to be of interest to all computer users.
Following the program an allotment of time will
be available for one on one help to those
who want a better understanding of something done
 during the presentation.

Upcoming Events

Wednesday NOVEMBER 16, 2016 Meeting in the Library
 8:45 AM Set up your computer
 9:00 AM Season start-up meeting. Discussions of what you want out of the club (very important that you take part in the discussion).

BillHello Fellow Members,

I do hope you all had a great summer and that this email finds you all happy, healthy and looking forward to another warm winter in our little part of southern Texas.

Seeing as I didn't receive a termination notice last spring I guess its time to get our meetings started for the season.

"A club is an association of two or more people united by a common interest or goal."

With this in mind, remember I am a co-coordinator and as such expect input (both pro and con) and help (such as setup and tear down) from the other members. 

I propose we start our meetings Wed. Nov. 16/2016 at 9:00am in the library (same as last year). This first meeting will be to determine the starting direction and format for the season.  I propose alternating between a specific subject one week and trouble shooting / problem solving the next week.

Now for the input part.  Please, please, please let me have your ideas and suggestions.  Think about what you hope to get from your club and tell me. I will be asking.  Feel welcome to email your thoughts, comments and suggestions if you prefer ( Remember last year when someone asked a question they thought was "dumb" there were always others with the same question but didn't want to ask.  SO ASK!!!

Hope to see at the meetings.



By Harold Buechly, Trails End Computer Club, Weslaco Texas,

Because we can store recipies on a computer, should we have a cooking class during a computer club meeting? I don't think so but we could use a demonstration on how to create a personal or family cook book. After such a demonstration, each attendee  will have learned a new way of creating documents that interest ones self.
When we were kids, we shared our knowledge and experiences with other kids.
What happened over the past 50 years that we don't share our knowledge and experiences with others as freely as we did in our youth! It seems to me that ones audience is often anxious to criticize our statements.
I feel that TECC (Trails End Computer Club) needs to broaden its' scope to "All Things Technical" including smart phones, smart TV's,  the web of things and all the new technology on the near horizon. There is so much now just opening up to consumers with all the APPS available for tablets and smart phones.
I have mentioned many times Special Interest Groups where the club promotes members to get together with similar interests to share their interests where there is only a few members with that interest.
There are also some computer clubs that are more social than educational.
I am asking all members to share their thoughts, knowledge and experiences with Bill and possibly the membership.
What Bill has done for the club is remarkable. It takes quite a bit of time each week to produce a program for the next meeting. Show him your appreciation.

Something I need to know very soon.
Shall we continue our membership in the APCUG?
The Association of Personal Computer User Group membership consists of computer clubs and offers many services to keep a computer club active. The clubs pay an annual membership fee of $50.00. We as TECC use several services they provide including articles written by and for other computer clubs and shared with all members of APCUG. Web site hosting where our web site is made available to the WWW.  Virtual Technology Conferences, Free on line lessons on many subjects. If this service is beneficial to TECC, we must request the membership fees of $50.00 from the Trails End B of D very soon. To continue the web site and this bulletin there must be interest in continuing it by its members.
Please indicate whether you would like it continued or discontinu in a e-mail to .

Computer Attacks

By Dick Maybach,       Member, Brookdale Computer Users’ Group, NJ,       n2nd (at) 

An important factor in defending your computer is to understand how it might be attacked. This topic fascinates many computer owners and has been the subject of many articles, books, advertisements, and discussions. One result of this is a jumble of terminology with words having meanings almost as slippery as the programs they are trying to describe. In this article I'll attempt to untie the terminology knot with brief definitions of the most common terms. You can learn (much) more with an Internet search for any of these terms, provided you read with skepticism. We'll start by using attack to describe any malicious act directed at a computer, the data it contains, or its user. We can classify attacks in three different ways:

 (1)  Their attack method (how they access your PC, your data, or you),

(2)  Their behavior (how they get established and perhaps spread), and

(3)  Their payload (what they do).

 To a great extent, these characteristics are independent, and we can look at each in turn. Much of the confusion about malware arises because authors don't make it clear whether what they are describing is an attack method, a behavior, or a payload.

 First consider network attacks, which may not affect your computer at all. The first type, network monitoring is passive and is a digital version of a phone tap; everything you send and receive is recorded by a third party. This is easily done at a public hot spot, and requires only a laptop and widely-available software. It also can occur at ISPs and Internet relay points, either by the facility owner or by government agencies. A second type, the man in the middle attack, is active and is much more specific. Here, a computer is set up to mimic, for example, your Internet bank. If you can be fooled into logging into it, the attacker can capture your password and other account details before forwarding your traffic to the bank site you think you are using. This is more difficult to set up than simple network monitoring and is thus less common.

 Let's now look at computer attack methods, which include

 (1)  Physical access,

(2)  Social engineering,

(3)  Trojan horses, and

(4)  Unethical suppliers.

 Someone with physical access to your PC can install malicious hardware or software. Although this is sometimes called the evil maid attack (presumably because it's done by a hotel's housekeeping staff), it more commonly occurs when someone uses your PC with your permission and inadvertently infects it during, for example, a careless Internet browse. You now have a compromised PC for such tasks as your Internet banking. Social engineering or phishing occurs when someone tries to convince you to disclose sensitive data or perform some action that compromises your computer. You might receive a phone call or an e-mail message claiming to be from your credit card company requesting your account information, or one from tech support offering to remove a virus they somehow have detected remotely. Many attacks occur as Trojan horses, where malevolent software hides inside something that appears useful, interesting, or at least harmless. Examples include e-mail (often appearing to be from somebody you know) with an attachment that installs software, Web pages that run programs on your PC, and macros embedded in office files. Finally, there are unethical suppliers that include software you neither need nor want with their products. Although the most common culprits are Websites, it can take the form of shovelware, useless and sometimes intrusive programs installed on PCs, and malicious software on supposedly blank media.

 Once malware (which malicious software is often called) infects your PC, it can behave in four different ways:

 (1)  Reside there as a normal program file,

(2)  Attempt to hide by changing its form or the operating system configuration,

(3)  Spread through your computer by attaching a portion of itself to other files, or

(4)  Send copies of itself to other computers, usually via the Internet.

Type (2) programs are called stealth software or rootkits, type (3) programs are called viruses, and type (4) is called worms. An interesting form of virus resides in office document as a macro, for example written in Visual Basic and included in an MS Word or Excel file. These can migrate to your master template and infect every document you compose after that. When they first appeared around 2000 macro viruses were serious problems, but office suites now have effective safeguards against most; however, you may wish to check your preferences to be sure. (Although many people use the term virus for all malware, only 17 per cent of it really behaves this way and another eight per cent acts as worms.) Combinations are also possible; for example, a virus can have stealth features. Since rootkits and viruses can affect system programs, their installation often, but not always, requires that the user grant them administrator privileges. A number of vendors offer applications to detect rootkits, but removing one sometimes requires erasing the computer's hard drive and reinstalling the operating system. Many people call type (1) programs Trojan horses, but I prefer to use that term for a malicious program's attack method rather than it's behavior after it becomes active.

Note that network attacks, social engineering, and macro viruses are operating-system agnostic. OS X and Linux users are just as vulnerable to them as are Windows users.

The object of most malware is to deliver a payload that is to perform some action to harm the computer owner or benefit the malware supplier. The payload is independent of the attack method and also of the malware's behavior. Examples are:

 (1)  Ransomware,

(2)  Adware,

(3)  Spyware,

(4)  Key loggers,

(5)  Botnets, and

(6)  Hijackers.

restricts your access to your PC and displays a message on how you can purchase instructions or software to remove the limitation. In some cases it encrypts files and demands the fee in return for the password to regain access to them. Sometimes there is just a threat, such as pay a fee within 10 days or your hard disk will be formatted. Adware continually displays advertising messages on your screen, although this can be legitimate (if annoying) when it's associated with trial software and seeks to sell you the paid version. Spyware transmits sensitive information, such as account information and passwords to an Internet location without your permission. Some people lump adware and spyware together and call both spyware, but I prefer to keep them separate, since spyware is more costly. A key logger records your keystrokes and forwards them to an Internet location with the intent of capturing log-in information; it can be implemented by either hardware or software. Malware can make your PC a component of a botnet (also called a zombie army), a computer network sometimes used to distribute spam or to attack other Internet sites by trying to overwhelm them. Other payloads, having a variety of names that often include the term hijack, change the configuration of your browser by changing your home page or your search engine or by adding menu bars.

 By far the best time to defend your computer is in the attack phase, where healthy suspicion is your friend. Be careful reading e-mail, surfing the Internet, and using your laptop in public places. Note that some form of social engineering is a component of most attacks. After the attack, an anti-virus program may be able to recognize the malware's behavior and prevent it from delivering its payload. Here, you depend on the malware spreading relatively slowly, so that anti-virus vendors have had time to develop a defense before you encounter it, and fortunately this is most often the case. Once the payload has been delivered, the damage has been done, and you will have to stop using the computer until it can be cleaned, change your passwords, and work with your bank, credit card vendors, and others to repair the damage.

 We usually think of malware defense only for PCs, but it also infects all computer-driven devices, such as smart phones and network routers. It's important that you include these in your safe computing plan.

 Your ultimate defense against all malware is a backup made before your PC became infected. Wiping and restoring your hard disk will almost always restore your system, except in the rare cases where the malware resides in your PC's BIOS firmware, in which case you probably need expert help. Unfortunately, the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) adds a new vulnerability as it includes a writable boot partition on your hard disk. Since the code residing here executes before your operating system; any malware installed there becomes active before any anti-virus program. Re-installing the operating system will probably leave the infected partition unchanged. So far, this is only a theoretical threat. I mention it only to make the point that threats evolve continuously, which requires that you keep all your software, not just your anti-virus programs updated, and conscientiously practice an effective back up discipline.

 To summarize, we can classify computer threats according to their attach method, their behavior, and their payload. Attack methods include physical access to a computer, social engineering, Trojan horse software, and unethical suppliers. Once established, malware can behave as normal software, a rootkit, a virus, a worm, or a combination of these. Typical payloads are ransomware, spyware, key-logger, botnet, and hijacking. Network attacks are special in that they occur outside your computer.


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