Posts Tagged ‘PC’

Software Lets People Spy On PCs And Webcams

August 20th, 2013

You don’t have to work for the NSA to spy on people. All you need is $79 to buy a piece of software called SniperSpy that you can remotely install on other people’s computers. “No physical access is needed to the computer for installation.”

The software, according to a company press release, “is completely hidden from view on PC and Mac computers.” And, once installed “the system begins keeping logs of every action performed. Parents login to a secure account from any web browser to monitor activities and see the current screen of the monitored computer like a television.”

Turns on webcam and microphone

According to a company press release, issued on August 15, 2013, “New features added into version 8.0 include Stealth Webcam and Microphone Recording to allow parents to hear and see the environment around their child’s computer,” which means you’re not just able to know what the the person is doing on their computer but see and hear whatever they’re doing as long as they’re near their computer.

For children and employees only

The product is marketed to parents and employers to use on computers they own and if you scroll to the bottom of the company’s home page and click on “terms and conditions,” you’ll learn that “Monitoring software is 100% legal as long as the computer you are installing it onto is YOUR computer. We do not condone, promote or tolerate the use of our software for illegal purposes.”

But, in another part of its site, the company explains that ”The (surveillance) module can then be sent to the remote computer as an email attachment. You can even rename the module anything you want to hide the fact that it is a monitoring program from the remote user (emphasis added).

While misuse of their software is against their stated policy, it appears -from their descriptions – that there are no technical barriers preventing people from abusing the software but that begs the question of what it’s appropriate for software to be stealthily installed even on computers you own that are used by your children or employees.

Why stealth spying, even on your own kids or workers, is a bad idea

SniperSpy is far from the only company with software designed to help parents and employers monitor child and employee’s activity. And, while some products automatically let people know they’re are being monitored, some — like SniperSpy — operate in stealth mode, though usually they do require physical access to the device for installation.

Legal issues aside, monitoring people’s use of a computer to remotely turning on their webcam without their knowledge is almost never a good idea –even for parents concerned about their children’s well being. To begin with there is the issue of trust. Even if you succeed in installing the software without your kids or employees knowing, if you find them doing something inappropriate you’ll almost certainly want to confront them with that. But, instead of the conversation being about whatever you think they did wrong, they’re likely to immediately question why you were spying on them. If you think it’s appropriate to monitor, it’s useful to first have a conversation explaining why you’re doing it, what information you are collecting and what you plan to do with the information. It’s also important to check with local laws to determine whether it is legal to monitor without the person’s permission.

There is also the issue of too much information (TMI). Programs that record every keystroke will provide you with a torrent of data, in many cases, more than you would ever need or want. Before installing software like this you really need to think about whether you want or need to collect this much information. And even if you suspect the person you’re monitoring of doing something “wrong,” do you really think it’s right to monitor everything they’re doing, including personal conversations with friends or family. Even if it’s legal (which I’m not sure about ), I don’t think it’s right except in some very rare cases.


Software Company Gives Quick Lesson in PC Clean Up

August 19th, 2013

Many computer users who want to speed up PC performance don’t realize how truly easy it is. In its latest company blog post, the owners of the PC Health Boost software show how to prevent screen freeze, computer crashes, and other dangers via an infographic that shows how to clean up PC problems, both physical and otherwise.

“Most people don’t realize how much good you can do for your computer, just by cleaning it,” says Erin Walsh, Boost Software’s Director of Public Relations.
“So many computer problems are caused by dust in the hardware and cluttered code in the software. Anyone can make their computer run faster and last longer by following the steps in our new infographic.”

Some computer owners have noticed the kind of dust that can collect around fan vents. This dust can do more than just upset allergies. It can blow into a computer’s inner workings and slow down or short out circuit boards. Even worse, it can slow down or clog a fan until the computer overheats!

But what most people don’t know is that a computer’s software works in much the same way. The Windows operating system depends on thousands of small files to keep it operating properly. These files aren’t full programs—but they are vital to every program’s ability to function.

Boost teaches you how to fix both of these. But what about those little files? Why are they so important to clear out and, when necessary, fix or replace?
These files are part of the dynamic link library, the “switchboard” of Microsoft Windows that keeps all of Windows’ parts working in the proper order. The dynamic link library also directs third-party programs—games, media software, and even Microsoft Office—as to when and how they should operate.

When these files are missing, a computer’s programs, or even Windows itself may not work like they should. But these files may also pile up via out-of-date software versions, files left over from uninstalled programs, and corrupted or even malicious files, “pieces” of viruses that antivirus programs sometimes leave behind.

These extra files can confuse or even damage a computer, leading to a computer crash, screen freeze, or even the dreaded “Blue Screen of Death”.

“We put together this easy-to-follow visual guide so that anyone can clean up and speed up PC performance, even if they consider themselves completely non-technical,” says Walsh.

The visual guide was posted to the official PC Health Boost blog on Saturday, August 17. It will remain there for the life of the site.

PC Health Boost is a PC optimization software designed to clean up PC hard drives and the Windows Operating system, as well as prevent future disasters (such as screen freezes and computer crashes). The developers at Boost Software spend a year-and-a-half, as well as over $100,000 dollars in development costs (outside of salaries) to produce this flagship software.


Almost 61 per cent of organisations do not monitor for unused software on servers, PCs and laptops

August 1st, 2013

Although the number of software audits businesses are exposed to is on the increase, the majority of firms only have limited visibility into what software is actually being used across their IT estates, according to 1E research.. With businesses unable to pinpoint the exact applications that are being used on their desktops, laptops and servers, they are prone to over-spend on software licenses in order to avoid the fines levied as a result of failed vendor audits.

The survey of 250 IT decision-makers across the UK found that 30 per cent of IT decision makers still rely on ad-hoc and manual methods to track software usage. This is despite 71 per cent of UK firms reporting they have been audited at least once by a software vendor in the last 12 months, and 46 per cent revealing they have been subjected to multiple audits. The research suggests that there is likely to be thousands, if not millions, of pounds worth of preventable and on-going costs associated with unused software or ‘shelfware’ within organisations.

Less than half of respondents said their organisation used a tool that could identify unused software on PCs and laptops. Only 39 per cent, however, stated that their tool could also pinpoint unused software installed on servers.

Sumir Karayi, CEO of 1E, said: “Software licensing represents a major cost, is an administrative burden and a hidden liability for many organisations, with this research clearly showing it is consuming far too much of the IT budget than is necessary. Software vendors are wise to the fact that organisations are struggling to get a handle on their software licensing. So, today it is no longer a question of if they will be audited, but when, and vendors are actively using the threat of these audits as sales opportunities.”

Software license management is getting harder too. Getting application licensing right is hard enough in the physical world, but in a world of desktop and server virtualisation, organisations are faced with a whole new level of complexity. It’s clear that organisations need to get a grip on what exactly they are using and have the ability to compare it to what they need from both an operational and compliance standpoint in order to remain efficient and competitive.


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