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How to protect someone from himself ?


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#1 Chris Cosgrove

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Posted 24 November 2014 - 08:44 PM

I decided to post this in 'General Chat' because it isn't a specific problem that fits into any neat specific problem forum.

 

I have an elderly acquaintance who is the greatest expert I know at acquiring malware and PuPs. Two or three weeks ago I had his computer, a virtually brand new HP compact tower running 8.1 - I think it is now four months old - and using various tools I cleaned some 6,000 items of malware and PPs off it, and gave it back to him.

 

Before I gave it back, I surreptitiously changed him over to Firefox, rather than IE, in which I had installed Adblock, put the icons for his bank, his e-mails and one to Google on his desktop and removed the IE icon from the taskbar. I had also set his A/V - McAffee - to scan his system on a daily basis at a time when his computer is likely to be switched on. I also gave him the lecture on 'Safe surfing'. It's like water off a duck's back - got a phonecall from him Monday morning 'My computer's not working !'. I am going to go and have a  look at it on Wednesday and fully expect to find more of the same.

 

Anybody got any  more ideas on what I can do to bullet proof this guy's computer, short of cutting his hands off ?  I really do not want to spend the rest of my days sorting this computer out every few weeks.

 

Chris Cosgrove


I am going to be away until about the 22nd October. Time on-line will be reduced and my internet access may be limited. PMs may not be replied to as quickly as normal !


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#2 NickAu

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Posted 24 November 2014 - 08:58 PM

 

Anybody got any  more ideas on what I can do to bullet proof this guy's computer, short of cutting his hands off ?

Linux. A nice Distro like Mint 17 or Kubuntu.

 

 

I cleaned some 6,000 items of malware and PPs off it, and gave it back to him.

:hysterical:  That's Windows for you.

 

What's a Virus?


Edited by NickAu1, 24 November 2014 - 09:03 PM.


#3 ElfBane

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Posted 25 November 2014 - 03:49 AM

At the PC shop I worked the policy was;

 

No warranty on virus/malware/spyware removal. Chronic malware removal is almost always caused by poor web surfing habits. You will be charged the full labor price for every incident.



#4 Chris Cosgrove

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Posted 25 November 2014 - 12:05 PM

 

Chronic malware removal is almost always caused by poor web surfing habits.

 

Elfbane, I couldn't agree more - but the question is how can I stop him or what can I do to protect him from himself ?  His wife might object if I cut his hands off - it would make a mess and might frighten their cats.

 

Nick, I agree that Linux is more bullet-proof but at the moment I don't have enough knowledge about Linux to cheerfully put a total idiot onto an unknown OS. I am working on my Linux knowledge - I might come over to the darkside one of these days.

 

Chris Cosgrove


I am going to be away until about the 22nd October. Time on-line will be reduced and my internet access may be limited. PMs may not be replied to as quickly as normal !


#5 rp88

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Posted 25 November 2014 - 02:15 PM

It's a pretty cruel thing to do but you could try changing his account to a normal account rather than an admin level one. Also performing some sort of whitelisting so only the exe files already on the computer can be run, and not any new ones. Further you could install noscript in his browser. By making him a non-admin you could ser up the security tools so he couldn't interfere with thewm. But really the best defence is education, teach him: NEVER click on an advert, NEVER download a program from anywhere, NEVER download a zip file from anywhere (they would usually be safe but i guess this poor guy wouldn't scan them before opening), always scan any file on your computer before opening it, disable flash except on specific sites (and make it click to play on those few). By the way:No warranty on virus/malware/spyware removal. Chronic malware removal is almost always caused by poor web surfing habits. You will be charged the full labor price for every incident. is pretty cruel, the user is hardly to blame if he fell victim to a driveby, much malware comes from poor surfing and downloading habits but there is an ever increasing amount that comes from attacks which involve no user interaction. people who come back week after week with malware problems are usually to blame but people who get it once or twice a year could well be falling victim to bad luck.
Back on this site, for a while anyway, been so busy the last year.

My systems:2 laptops, intel i3 processors, windows 8.1 installed on the hard-drive and linux mint 17.3 MATE installed to USB

#6 NickAu

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Posted 25 November 2014 - 04:02 PM

 

I might come over to the darkside one of these days.

When ever you are ready Chris, Hit me up.



#7 rp88

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Posted 25 November 2014 - 05:02 PM

 

 
I might come over to the darkside one of these days.

When ever you are ready Chris, Hit me up.
He's not alone, i might too when i get my next machine. I'm just a bit concerned that linux leaves the user with some problems in compatibility:

things like flash player for watching online video,

some forms of online content or desktop programs that only work on windows,

some old programs i use which are no longer available for download, i have installers but they are installers designed for use in for windows(XP though thye work on windows 8 aswell) not in linux,

how one might open common micorsoft office (word, publisher,powerpoint,excel) formats,

how one gets other closed source file formats to work

Edited by rp88, 25 November 2014 - 05:04 PM.

Back on this site, for a while anyway, been so busy the last year.

My systems:2 laptops, intel i3 processors, windows 8.1 installed on the hard-drive and linux mint 17.3 MATE installed to USB

#8 NickAu

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Posted 25 November 2014 - 05:08 PM

 

He's not alone, i might too when i get my next machine. I'm just a bit concerned that linux leaves the user with some problems in compatibility:

things like flash player for watching online video,

some forms of online content or desktop programs that only work on windows,

some old programs i use which are no longer available for download, i have installers but they are installers designed for use in for windows(XP though thye work on windows 8 aswell) not in linux,

how one might open common micorsoft office (word, publisher,powerpoint,excel) formats,

how one gets other closed source file formats to work

So as not to Hijack this thread please start a new thread in the Linux & Unix section with these questions and we will be glad to answer them for you.



#9 rp88

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Posted 25 November 2014 - 06:54 PM

My apologies, i'll start that thread some time soon (ish). I'm not in a hurry to ask all those as i don't intend on any system changes in the next year atleast. Thanks for your offers of answering them when i do ask such things.


Back to topic:

Another thought might be to set his computer up so it refreshes to a "clean state" every time it is restarted, just warn him to put any files he works on that day onto a usb or cd before turning off for the night. There are programs that will let you set up computers so thye always boot up in a particular state and rest to it, something called deepfreeze i think and equivalent programs. There is someone who often posts in the general security forum who is quite knowledgable about seeting computers up to restart in a particular state, i cannot remember his name though.



Another tip, if the guy is on windows 8.1 he will have UAC built into the system, turn it on and instruct him to always decline UAC pop-ups. You could even make him a normal user, non-admin in which case he would be unable to bypass UAC at all.


Another suggestion: it sounds like it would be the same as giving him the lecture but there is another way you could try and teach him the "rules of computing". Set up his computer so that the desktop background shows a jpeg with the rules on it, and place a jpeg inside the folder
C:\Users\(his name)\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Start-up
every time he logs on the jpeg would be opened by microsoft office picture manager and unless he worked out where that folder was and how to stop the jpeg opening every time at startup then he might be reminded of your advice every time he turns it on. Personally i use this trick to have a folder where i can put notes for myself to remind me what i need to do the next day. Another alternative would be to set him up a picture password (you can do that on 8.1 i think), make the picture an image showing your rules. The guy might not like them but seeing them and having to memorize mouse sweeps across them might get him to unconciously remmber and maybe be influenced by them.

Edited by rp88, 25 November 2014 - 06:54 PM.

Back on this site, for a while anyway, been so busy the last year.

My systems:2 laptops, intel i3 processors, windows 8.1 installed on the hard-drive and linux mint 17.3 MATE installed to USB

#10 Queen-Evie

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Posted 25 November 2014 - 11:56 PM

The sad truth is that you might not be able "bullet proof" anything,  you won't be able to stop him, and you will not be able to protect him from himself.

 

It sounds like you have gone above and beyond trying to help him and your efforts were futile.  No matter what you do he will continue to do the same thing.

 

Some people don't ever  "get it".  Others do but it may take them a long time to get to that stage.

 

You mentioned he is elderly but did not mention his age. Is it possible that due to age he simply does not remember what you tell him? 



#11 NickAu

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Posted 26 November 2014 - 12:32 AM


 

The sad truth is that you might not be able "bullet proof" anything,

Wanna bet? No disrespect intended.

 

 I know Chris is a Linux novice and I am not trying to push anything.

 

Now to the answer.

 

Bullet Proofing a PC.

 

Live boot with some persistence.

 

Puppy Linux booting from a CD with the save file on CD,  Basically you Burn the ISO to CD and the save file which includes settings book marks updates are also burned to the CD, Finalise the disk so It cant be written to again. Now every time you boot Puppy Linux it will look for the save file that you made and boot from those settings every time NO matter what you download  or install when the PC is shut down everything that was in ram is gone ( Puppy Linux runs entirely from ram), The only drawback with this method is every now and then you must create a new Puppy CD like when an update for the browser is out.

 

Linux is not Windows and all that stuff like  PC optimiser scareware  wont work in Linux, Basically think of it this way, If it runs on Windows (.exe ) it wont run on Linux.  

 

 

@ Chris.

Have you tried Faronics Deep Freeze?

Deep Freeze: System Restore Software for ... - Faronics


Edited by NickAu1, 26 November 2014 - 12:49 AM.


#12 Chris Cosgrove

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Posted 26 November 2014 - 11:27 AM

This time it turned out his problem was fairly trivial - wrong printer settings !  He was trying to print a multi-page document with the printer set to 'Print page 1 : 1'.

 

@rp88 #9 -  Not a bad idea building the lecture onto his desktop and start screen !  I did something similar once on another computer which I had got back two weeks after I returned it in perfect working order. I took the Windows wall paper of the lavender field and over printed it in 144 point print 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it !'. I haven't had that one back since.

 

This acquaintance is about 80 and starting to lose his powers of concentration, doubtless part of his problem.

 

Deepfreeze, and others like it, are a good idea but at the end of the day it is his computer and there are limits to what I can reasonably do to disable its operation. I know  lot of library systems use Deepfreeze, including our local one, but these are public computers and the users do  not expect to be able to store anything permanently on the hard drive.

 

The wallpaper he uses is a photo I took of the Forth Railway Bridge at night - that I can easily overprint !  The next time I get this machine back riddled with malware and PuPs I can see me doing that.

 

I am thinking of giving up computers and taking up crochet or knitting as a pastime !  Thanks for all the suggestions.

 

Chris Cosgrove


I am going to be away until about the 22nd October. Time on-line will be reduced and my internet access may be limited. PMs may not be replied to as quickly as normal !


#13 Chris Cosgrove

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Posted 14 October 2015 - 05:58 PM

It's come back to bite me in the rear again !  And this time it could even be considered my fault. A phonecall yesterday - 'I can't open an Excel file . . .'

 

Called in this afternoon to realise there was something odd about his desktop, a quick 'Control panel - system' - he's now runninng Win 10. I know, I set his updates to 'automatic' to make sure he got them but even so, I didn't think Win 10 installed itself without at least some approval from the user. Anyway it's Win 10 and the install wiped out all his applications and MS Office is gone from his 'Programs' folder. At least he still had the Office install disc and licence key. A quick install of Office and Firefox with the creation of his banking and e-mail links on the desktop and he could get his 'Medication' file open again and I got a couple of bottles of wine for my trouble.

 

I kid you not, knitting is becoming more attractive by the day !

 

Chris Cosgrove


I am going to be away until about the 22nd October. Time on-line will be reduced and my internet access may be limited. PMs may not be replied to as quickly as normal !


#14 NickAu

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Posted 14 October 2015 - 06:07 PM

 

I didn't think Win 10 installed itself without at least some approval from the user.

The update was downloaded and he clicked yes.

 

 

I kid you not, knitting is becoming more attractive by the day !

Can I have a pair of pink socks with the BC logo on them.



#15 softeyes

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Posted 14 October 2015 - 09:28 PM

OMG..well..delete all fingers except the thumb..knit cool mits w/thumbs out only (of course with the BC logo Nick will design) ditch the wife thus..no cats to mess with your yarn!!

 

Then..allow him only to use the on-screen keyboard so his accessibility is challenged!

 

Bless you..and another year later...M$-11..he did not do it!






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