Ask Rick 313 14/06/14
For the last week my laptop has started
behaving very strangely. I can send and receive emails and visit most websites
normally but if I try to use Google search, or access my Gmail it goes straight
to a page that, says Internet Explorer is out of date and needs updating or it
asks to install the latest version of Flash Player. I use Firefox, and as far
as I know my Flash and Internet Explorer are both current. My grandson checked my
Internet on his Hudl tablet and the same Internet Explorer update message came
up. What does it mean, why is Google being blocked and what can I do about it?
Peter Bushman, by email
The clue to solving this puzzle lies with your
grandson’s Hudl. Its Android operating system does not support Internet
Explorer, and Flash updates are handled by the system so those messages are
fakes. They are being generated by a DNS (Dynamic Name Sever) redirection
virus, which has infected your router and is most likely made by TPLink or
Linksys. The virus changes settings in the router and sends web searches to
rogue sites displaying those update messages, which will almost certainly
install malware on your computer if you click on them. At the moment this
recent and worrying development only affects a small number of makes of router,
which have a vulnerable HNAP (Home Network Administration Protocol) interface.
This allows ISPs to remotely manage these devices, and hackers to implant
malicious code. Router manufacturers know about this threat but so far it
appears that little effort has been made taken to alert users or suggest ways
to fix the problem.
So far these viruses only attack routers and do
not directly infect PCs; that happens when you install the fake update, but you
should still run a full scan with a malware cleaner (try Malwarebytes, free
from www.malwarebytes.org/), and
make sure your own security software is fully up to date.
There are two things you can do. Option one,
toss the router in the bin, call your ISP’s support and insist that that they
replace with another make as this one is unsafe and vulnerable to attack.
Option two is disinfect it yourself by returning it to its factory defaults,
though until this security flaw is patched there is no guarantee it will not
happen again. A reset is the easy part, on most routers press and hold the
recessed button on the back or underside of the router for 5 seconds. The
tricky bit is reconfiguring it and you need to know how to access the setup
menu, your account details (broadband username and password etc.), and how to
setup wireless security. Your ISP should be able to talk you through it but if
you feel that is beyond you seek expert assistance, or go for option one.
Nexus Not Charging
I have a two-year old Nexus 7 Android tablet.
Recharging has become erratic; sometimes it recharges, at other times it needs
several connection attempts before it will charge. A new charger seemed to
improve things for a few months. It now refuses to recharge and just shows a
message saying that it has to be connected to the charger. I’ve tried all of
the tips on the Internet for getting into the safe mode and restarting, but
these do not help.
Alex Koscica, by email
This sounds a lot like a failing battery but
that would be unusual given that it is only two years old, and it should have
at least another 2 – 3 years of life left in it. However, even if the battery
has lost the ability to hold a charge the tablet should still power up on the
charger. That suggests that there may be a problem with the socket or the USB
lead, or possibly your new charger, so the first thing to do is get a new lead
and plug the Nexus into a PC or laptop. If the lead and socket and okay the PC
will recognise the tablet and it should begin to charge normally. Normally if
there is a fault with a tablet PC’s USB socket or battery, and it is out of
warranty, it costs more that it is worth to have it repaired. Tablet PCs are
usually sealed up tight and taking them apart is a risky business. However, the
Nexus 7 opens easily and batteries are readily available and simple to replace.
The IFixit website shows you how to do it at: http://goo.gl/spnuIx.
A new USB socket can also be fitted though this is a fiddly job and best left
to an expert.
Getting Rid Of A PUP
For some weeks my XP PC has been running
slowly. Recently I was advised to increase the security with Malwarebytes,
which I downloaded. It immediately detected six possible threats, all
identified as PUP.Opti, what does that mean? These were quarantined by
Malwarebytes and the PC has reverted to running at the expected speed. Should I
now delete the six quarantined items or allow them to remain? Up until now I
have relied on Microsoft Security Essentials, what would you recommend I
replace it with?
Adrian Barlow, by email
A PUP is a potentially unwanted program, which
in this case is most probably a browser home page hijacker called Opti Page
Search. Although it has been removed and quarantined by Malwarebytes you really
do not want it anywhere on your PC, so click the History button then Delete.
There will be no more security updates for XP so technically it is unprotected,
however, Microsoft will continue to issue signature file updates for Security
Essentials until at least July 2015, (though the program it is no longer
available for new XP installations). MSE provides a minimum level of protection
but you would be well advised to switch to another program. Of the free
offerings the most popular and effective alternatives are Avast!, AVG, Avira,
BitDefender and Comodo, and the best known paid-for antivirus from the likes of
Kaspersky, McAfee and Norton have pledged to support XP for the foreseeable
© R. Maybury 2014 2605