Houston We Have a Problem 11



Ask Rick 167 20/08/11


Making it Easy for Hackers?

When I log into my online banking, I puzzle at how hackers can get into what is virtually a black box program. What do hackers know that us mere mortals don't?

Hugh Sawyer, by email


They know human nature and usually have access to users’ PIN numbers and passwords. There are several ways they can get their hands on them, carelessness being the most common one. Writing them down on a piece of paper and leaving it where it can be easily found is an obvious mistake, and you would be surprised by how much fraud is carried out by a victims’ nearest and dearest. Browsers may store passwords and PINs so that someone else with access to the PC can easily log in. Trojans and keyloggers are another possibility. These are malicious programs that get on to a PC through infected emails and websites. They operate silently in the background, relaying any likely looking log-on details back to the fraudster through your Internet connection. If you use your laptop to log onto your account while you are out and about your data can be intercepted by so called ‘evil twin’ wireless hotspots that look like the real thing but are in fact fakes, operated by scammers.


Phishing emails that look like they have come from a bank, building society or credit card company attempt to trick the user into divulging their log-on details. Some of them look very convincing but fraudsters still seem to have trouble with spelling and grammar. Hopefully by now most of us are wise to the fact that financial institutions never ask users to reveal their passwords in emails. Online banking using smartphones is another concern.  They can be lost or stolen and several security loopholes have been discovered, though these do not appear to have been widely exploited, yet… There are exotic techniques for breaking into PCs via secure wireless connections and we cannot discount good old fashioned villainy with your details being lost or stolen from company systems, and not forgetting internal fraud, but all too often it is a result of lax security on the part of the account holder.  



Unsure About Upgrade

I keep getting messages about upgrading Internet Explorer. I am not a very competent user but I have read that there had been problems with recent versions of IE.  I've also had similar messages about Google Chrome. At present, I am very happy with what I have but perhaps I am missing something, so should I upgrade?

Judie Diment, by email


It’s usually in your best interest, especially if you use your PC for online banking etc., as most upgrades have improved security and occasionally some useful new features.  It's true that sometimes there can be problems, but with millions of users around the world they tend to be found and fixed fairly quickly so my advice is to wait at least a couple of weeks after the first nag messages to give them time to iron out the bugs and wrinkles. If you really don’t like the new software, in most cases you can uninstall the upgrade and revert to an earlier version.



Frozen Reader

In March this year I bought my wife a Sony PRS 600 e-reader from a branch of Radio Shack in Arizona. We are now in Portugal for the summer and the e-book has frozen.  It will not switch on or connect with the computer. Do you have any ideas, other than return it to Radio Shack?

Alfred Marco, by email


There have been a number of reports of these devices locking up, often for no good reason, though a flat battery is often responsible, and since the e-ink display shows the last page read, it’s easy to overlook this possibility. If you are satisfied the battery is fully charged there are several things you can try. The first is a ‘soft’ reset, which involves prodding the recessed reset button on the bottom edge with an opened paperclip or stylus. If that doesn’t work try a ‘hard’ reset by holding in the reset button and cycling the power switch on and off four or five times. If nothing happens it’s worth repeating several times. Lastly, there’s a full reset, back to the factory default condition, but be warned that this erases all transferred content. With the device off, press and hold in the reset button, turn the power on and hold down the Page Turn (back) and Vol+ buttons together until a ‘Reset All?’ message appears then press Yes. It may take several minutes, depending how many files you have, after which it will switch off and should be ready to use again.



Backwards Browsing

When I need to search for information on a subject, I type the keywords into the search-box and a list of relevant websites appears. I choose one of the sites and open it, I may then move on to several other pages through a series of links. When I have finished and want to try another site from the original search list the only way I know to get back to it is by clicking on the back arrow icon to step back through every page until eventually I get to the original list of sites. The only apparent alternative is to close the windows and start again with a new search, using the same terms.  Surely Bing, Google and the other search engines must have devised a way to go back from wherever you are directly to the list of relevant websites, but what and where is it?

David Revie, by email


This is a browser function, rather than anything to do with the search engine. Usually in both Internet Explorer and Firefox the simplest thing to do is right-click on a search return or web link and select Open In New Tab. Otherwise, in Internet Explorer you can display the list of sites visited during a session (or on a selected tab) by clicking on the small down arrow next to the page Forward button in the top right corner. Older versions of Firefox have a similar system but on the latest release you have to right click on the Back arrow to show the list. 



© R. Maybury 2011 0108


Search PCTopTips 



Digital Life Index

Houston 2006

Houston 2007

Houston 2008

Houston 2009

Houston 2010

Houston 2011


Top Tips Index

Windows XP

Windows Vista

Internet & Email

Microsoft Word

Folders & Files

Desktop Mouse & Keyboard

Crash Bang Wallop!

Privacy & Security

Imaging Scanning & Printing

Power, Safety & Comfort

Tools & Utilities

Sound Advice

Display & screen

Fun & Games

Windows 95/98/SE/ME








 Copyright 2006-2010 PCTOPTIPS UK.

All information on this web site is provided as-is without warranty of any kind. Neither PCTOPTIPS nor its employees nor contributors are responsible for any loss, injury, or damage, direct or consequential, resulting from your choosing to use any of the information contained herein.