Best Free Firewall Protection

This material originally appeared at Gizmo’s Freeware (www.techsupportalert.com).

“Basic firewall protection is critical for securing your PC. Simple firewalls (like the default Windows firewall) limit access to your system and personal information, and silently protect you from inbound threats. We review basic third-party firewalls as well as the built in Windows firewall, and look at features such as monitoring programs that request outgoing Internet connections (we call this “outbound protection”).”

Topics Covered:

  • Basic Firewalls
  • Firewalls with Strong HIPS
  • Summary
  • Related Products and Links
  • Quick Selection Guide

Display the disk activity of any process in Windows

This material first appeared at ghacks.net.

“The [linked article] describes how you can look up the disk reads and writes of any process on a computer running Microsoft Windows[, using Task Manager or Process Explorer].

It is probably a good idea to answer why someone would want information about disk read and write activity of processes first.

There are a couple of reasons. First, if you run a Solid State Drive, especially an early generation one, you may want to make sure that processes are not taxing the drive too much.

Another reason may be that you need to find out which process is responsible for lots of disk activity. Maybe because you can hear your drive thrashing around all the time, or because you notice slow downs when using the computer.”

Watch Out For Card Skimmers On Gas Pumps

This material originally appeared on consumerist.com.

“Security expert Brian Krebs this week delved into the scourge of pump skimmers showing up in The Grand Canyon state of late.

[M]ost of the stations where skimmers have been found are still using the factory-default locks on the pumps — meaning basically anyone with a master key could pop ’em all open.

[S]ince more and more skimmers use bluetooth wireless techology, nobody has to come back suspciously to the scene of the crime to collect the data. They only have to pull up, as if pumping gas, to download it from nearby.

In short, Krebs says, the available data point to “a clear trend of fraudsters targeting owners and operators that flout basic security best practices.” And Arizona, he adds, is just a microcosm — this is happening everywhere (like Dallas and New England and…).

By all means, have a good look at any credit card slot before you put your card in, and don’t ever use one that seems suspicious. But skimmers are getting smaller and easier to hide all the time so in the long run, your best bet is always going to be keeping a tight eye on all your statements and reporting any fraudulent charges to your bank ASAP.”

HP firmware update blocks non-HP ink cartridges

By Martin Brinkmann at ghacks.net:

“HP released a firmware update on March 12, 2016 for several of the company’s Officejet printers that renders non-HP ink cartridges useless.

HP customers began to complain about the issue on September 13, 2016 on various online forums, the official HP forum, and on community sites like Reddit.

All reported that a HP Officejet printer blocked non-HP ink cartridges from working, and that the device displayed [a “Cartridge Problem” message] to the user.”


From consumerist.com:

“A recent firmware update to HP printers cut off some third-party cartridges’ access to printers. Printers told users that their ink cartridges were “damaged,” but the only thing wrong with them was apparently that HP didn’t make them.

Here’s the interesting thing, though: there was no printer firmware update in September. Instead, a self-destruct date for these cartridges came in an update back in March.”


From arstechnica.com:

HP’s DRM sabotages off-brand printer ink cartridges with self-destruct date
Firmware rejected non-HP cartridges as “damaged” after September 12.

This past week, thousands of HP Inc. printer owners were notified by their printers that their ink cartridges were “damaged” and needed to be replaced. The reason, according to a statement from HP, was a firmware update intended to “protect HP’s innovations and intellectual property.” But some users report that even HP’s own cartridges failed in their printers—and that they weren’t able to get the printer to respond in order to remove the offending ink.”

Cheap, Easy-To-Buy USB Device Can Literally Fry Your Computer (Or Anything Else)

From consumerist.com.

“It sounds like something out of a spy thriller or sci-fi novel, but as with many other once-futuristic technologies, fact and fiction have merged: There’s a tiny USB device out there that can flat-out fry almost any laptop it’s plugged into, and they’re cheap enough that basically anyone who wants to cause some trouble can buy one.

As Inc. reports, the USB Killer does exactly one thing: delivers a big fat electric jolt to the device it’s plugged in to, shorting out the insides. Permanently.”


From arstechnica.com.

“[T]he USB stick looks normal, and there are no outward signs it’s malicious. But the USB Killer 2.0, as its creator calls it, takes computer attacks on a less-traveled road that leads to physical destruction. According to this post from The Daily Mail, an earlier and less powerful version of the device drew power from USB ports using a DC-to-DC converter until it reached negative 100 volts. At that point, the power was directed into the computer. The process ran on a loop until the circuitry failed. It’s likely Version 2 works similarly.”