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Tech Q&A: Malicious software requires a check

By Steve Alexander, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) –

QUESTION: I’ve recently been told that I must check my computer for malicious software or risk losing my Internet connection in July. Is this true or is it some sort or urban legend or scam?

—Diane deLaet, Miami

ANSWER: It’s true. An FBI investigation discovered that about 570,000 computers worldwide had been taken over by malicious software, which redirected their Internet browsing to hacker-operated Web servers. The FBI describes the problem at http://www.tinyurl.com/cfmp6dj.

In March, the FBI said it had set a July 9 deadline for about 85,000 remaining U.S. consumers to clean the malicious software from their computers; after that the PCs won’t be able to connect to the Internet because the bogus servers used for the attempted fraud will be turned off.

The FBI-authorized website http:///www.dns-ok.us will tell you whether your computer is infected and, if so, how to fix it.

 

Q: I have been using the Microsoft Money Deluxe 2005 financial program for years, primarily for record-keeping rather than online transactions or banking.

Now that I’m buying a new PC, is there a similar program into which I could import my existing Money 2005 information?

—Carolyn Fies, Reading, Pa.

A: Microsoft discontinued its series of Money programs in 2009, but it offers the free program Money Plus Sunset Deluxe that’s compatible with some previous Money programs. For more details, see this Microsoft website: http://www.tinyurl.com/7gf7auv. To try it, save your Money 2005 data file to a flash drive, then download Sunset Deluxe at http://www.tinyurl.com/cbym39s.

Or, if you have the original Money 2005 installation disk, you could install the program on a new PC that uses Windows 7 — the online functions will no longer work — then import your data. For more details on this method, see http://www.tinyurl.com/ylx7qxz.

You can find similar, non-Microsoft programs at http://www.tinyurl.com/7v4tx3c, but they may not accept your data file.

 

Q: What’s the best way to respond when programs request permission to make changes to my computer?

—Michael Katz, Miami

A: The warnings you’re seeing are generated by a security feature of Microsoft Windows called “user account control.” Microsoft’s Windows help website offers more information at http://www.tinyurl.com/cjx7ax6.

Whenever you receive the warning, you have to decide whether to trust that particular program. If the request comes from software that you bought, or which was recommended to you by a trusted source, allow the program to make changes. If you don’t recognize the program making the request, answer no.

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