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Boulder Computer Maven Newsletter - July 2008

Dear Friends,

Thank your for letting me help you with your computer. This is my customer newsletter, containing information that I hope you'll find interesting and helpful.

This month's topics are Sudden Loss of Internet Access, Router Hijacking - A New Threat to Your Computers, and Service Pack Updates for Windows XP and Windows Vista.

If you don't want to receive this newsletter, just let me know and I'll remove your name from my mailing list. Previous issues are available on the newsletters page of the Boulder Computer Maven web site. If you change your E-mail address, please send me your new one.

Please call me at 303-444-8247 with questions or to schedule an appointment.

Best Wishes,
Steve Winograd

Helping People Use Computers in Boulder for Over 25 Years

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Sudden Loss of Internet Access

A recent Windows security update can cause sudden loss of Internet access on computers running Windows 2000 or XP that also have the ZoneAlarm Firewall installed. If this has happed on your computer, follow these steps to restore Internet access:

  1. Navigate to the "ZoneAlarm Firewall" panel.
  2. Click on the "Firewall" tab.
  3. Move the "Internet Zone" slider to medium.

To regain full firewall protection, update to the latest version of ZoneAlarm, or replace ZoneAlarm with a different firewall program.

Router Hijacking - A New Threat to Your Computers

If you have a broadband (cable or DSL) Internet connection, your computers might be vulnerable to a new type of Internet-based attack. This attack targets your home broadband router, the device that connects to your cable modem or DSL modem and gives Internet access to your computers. A router is usually about the size of a large paperback book and, if you have a wireless network, it has one or more antennas. Common brands of home routers are Linksys, D-Link, Netgear, and Belkin.

The attack works by changing your router's DNS (Domain Name Server) settings, causing your Internet access to go through the attacker's server and allowing the attacker to see everything that you do on the Internet: your E-mail messages, web browsing, on-line banking, etc. Once this has happened, it can't be detected by your antivirus or antispyware program.

It's easy to protect your computers from this attack. I can help you perform these steps in a few minutes, either in person or by telephone:

  1. Log into your router's web-based setup program.
  2. Check the router's DNS settings, and restore them to default values if they've been hijacked.
  3. Change the router's login password and disable remote administration to prevent it from being hijacked.

Details of the attack are available in articles from The Washington Post, TrustedSource, Geeks to Go, and Bill Pytlovany's blog.

Service Pack Updates for Windows XP and Windows Vista

Microsoft has released major updates for computers running Windows XP and Windows Vista. I recommend that you install Windows XP Service Pack 3 or Windows Vista Service Pack 1 to ensure that your computer has the latest security updates, features, and performance enhancements.

The easiest way to install a service pack is to configure Windows Update to automatically install important updates, and to accept the update when it's offered to you. You can also download and install a service pack manually, or order it on a CD or DVD. Microsoft provides free installation support for these service packs. See the Windows XP Service Pack 3 or Windows Vista Service Pack 1 web page for details.