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How To Prevent Man In The Middle Attacks (MITM)

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It is never easy to keep your information secure online.

Often, you might have conversations where there’s confidential information flow between you and another party. When was the last time you took into consideration the probability that there’s leakage of information during this communication?

In internet security terminology, MITM is a form of active eavesdropping. The attacker becomes an intermediary between all communications happening between victim systems and the gateway.

man in the middle

He makes independent connections with the victims and relays messages between them, making them believe that they are talking directly to each other over a private connection. When in fact, the entire conversation is controlled by the attacker.

The attacker can easily sniff and modify information at will. This type of attack attack happens in both wired and wireless networks.

In this post, we will teach you how MITM attacks work and how to keep safe from them.

What are MITM Attacks?

A man in the middle attack is one of the most common and dangerous kinds of attacks. You may not even realize that your traffic is being intercepted since the attack is more or less passive.

Moreover, this type of attack is quite frequent. Freely available hacking tools can allow attackers to automatically set up these attacks.

MITM attacks over the Intranet can appear in companies where an employee intercepts the traffic resulting in leakage of confidential information.

In an external network, if you use an unencrypted wireless access point (Wi-Fi) for accessing confidential information, then there is a possibility of this information being intercepted by an attacker.

He can exploit the router, using malicious programs. What he will do is configure their laptop as a Wi-Fi hotspot, selecting a name commonly used in public areas like coffee shops and airports.

The attacker simulates a secure online environment in order to persuade two parties to form a mutual authentication. He must be able to intercept all relevant messages passing between the two victims and inject new ones.

How MITM Attacks Work?

A man in the middle attack requires three players:

  1. The targeted user.
  2. An entity – the legitimate financial institution, database, or website.
  3. The cyber criminal who will try to intercept the communication between the two parties.

Critical to the scenario is that the victim isn’t aware of the man in the middle.

A typical communication flow occurs between a client and a server. MITM attacks change up this flow of information drastically. Let’s say you received an email that appeared like a genuine message from your bank, asking you to log in to your account to confirm your contact information.

man in the middle

You click on a link in the email and are taken to what appears to be your bank’s website. This attack also involves phishing, getting you to click on the email appearing to come from your bank. Thinking that you are on a legitimate financial site, you will submit your log-in credentials.

Without knowing, you are handing your sensitive information to the ‘man in the middle’.

The Workflow Of MITM Attacks

Man in the middle attacks take place in two phases:

  • Interception
  • Decryption

1. Interception

In the first phase, the user traffic is redirected through the hacker’s network before it reaches the sender or receiver’s system. Neither the sender or receiver is aware that their traffic is being rerouted through an attacker’s network.

They may use one or more of the below mentioned tactics to intercept:

  • IP Spoofing

Every computer on the internet has an internet protocol (IP) address. The attacker masks himself as an application and changes headers of IP address.

By spoofing an IP address, an attacker can trick you into thinking you’re interacting with a website or someone you’re not. So, users attempting to access URL of an application will be redirected to the attacker’s website.

Therefore, you will be giving the attacker access to information you’d otherwise not share.

  • ARP Spoofing

In ARP spoofing, the attacker sends fake ARP (Address Resolution Protocol) messages to the user’s system through the IP of another user in the same local network.

  • DNS Spoofing

In DNS Spoofing, the attacker accesses the server and alters the website address record to match his website records thus redirecting the user through the attacker’s website.

It’s a technique that forces a user to a fake website rather than the real one the user intends to visit. You may think you’re visiting a safe, trusted website when you’re actually interacting with a fraudster.

The attacker’s goal is to divert traffic from the real site or capture user login credentials.

  • Email hijacking

Attackers sometimes target email accounts of banks and other financial institutions.

Once they gain access, they can monitor transactions between the institution and its customers. After that, they can spoof the bank’s email address and send their own instructions to customers.

This fools the customers to follow the attacker’s instructions rather than the bank’s.

  • Wi-Fi eavesdropping

Attackers set up Wi-Fi connections with very legitimate sounding names. Maybe using similar names to a business nearby.

Once a user connects to the attacker’s Wi-Fi, he will be able to monitor the user’s online activity and intercept important iformation, such as login credentials, payment card information.

  • Stealing browser cookies

A browser cookie is a small piece of information a website stores on your computer.

An online retailer might store the personal information you enter, such as shopping cart items you’ve selected, on a cookie. So, you don’t have to re-enter that information when you return.

What an attacker can do is hijack your browser cookies. Since cookies store information from your browsing session, attackers can gain access to your passwords, address, and other sensitive information.

2. Decryption

After the data is intercepted, it needs to be decrypted by creating a two-way SSL traffic. There are many methods an attacker can use to achieve this:

  • HTTPS Spoofing

man in the middle

Seeing “HTTPS” in the URL, rather than “HTTP” is a sign that the website is secure and can be trusted (“S” stands for “secure”).

The attacker can send a phony SSL certificate containing the digital thumbprint of the user obtained from a compromised application. After that, the browser verifies it and approves, thus granting access to the attacker.

Basically, the attacker fools your browser into believing it’s visiting a trusted website when it’s not. By redirecting your browser to an unsecure website, the attacker can monitor your interactions with that website and possibly steal personal information you’re sharing.

  • SSL Hijacking

In SSL hijacking, the attacker uses another computer and secure server in order to intercept all the information passing between the server and the user’s computer.

  • SSL Stripping

A connection to a secure server means standard security protocols are in place. SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, a protocol that establishes encrypted links between your browser and the web server.

In SSL stripping, the attacker downgrades the application or website off it’s SSL encryption.

How to prevent Man In The Middle Attacks

1. HTTPS in the URL bar

Always check if there is an “HTTPS” in the address of the websites you visit. Avoid visiting or exchanging information across any websites that do not have the security of HTTPS.

2. Avoid connecting to public Wi-Fi routers directly

Never connect to public Wi-Fi routers directly. If there is no option but to use them, ensure you are using a Virtual Private Network or a SSL plugin to safeguard your data privacy.

man in the middle

A VPN encrypts your internet connection on public hotspots to protect the private data you send and receive while using public Wi-Fi.

3. Be cautious of phishing emails

Avoid clicking links in your emails. Instead of clicking on the link provided in the email, manually type the website address into your browser.

Be cautious when it comes to potential phishing emails from attackers asking you to update your password or any other login credentials.

4. Keep your system protected at all times

MITM attacks primarily use malware for execution. Malware and spyware get installed in a computer when your system is not adequately protected using an antivirus program.

You should install a comprehensive internet security solution and always keep the security software up to date. It will identify malicious items you’d never suspect existed, keeping your online activities secure and safe.

Moreover, conduct regular scans to ensure that no malware is transmitting data to attackers.

5. Set up an intrusion detection system (IDS)

The IDS will basically monitor your network. If someone tries to hijack traffic flow, it gives immediate alerts.

man in the middle

It uses the advanced address resolution protocol (like XARP or ARPOn) and implements dynamic host configuration protocol (DHCP). Snooping on switches can limit or prevent ARP spoofing.

Unfortunately, IDS may raise false attack alerts, leading users to disable it.

6. Use the virtual private network (VPN)

Another solution for preventing man in the middle attacks is to use the virtual private network (VPN).  It creates additional secure layers when you access the Internet through public Wi-Fi.

Conclusion

Detecting a man in the middle attack can be very difficult.

Since there are very few methods to detect these attacks, prevention is better than cure.

On a higher scale, man in the middle attacks are prevalent in companies which do not use secure email. So, there’s no encryption or other protective measures that prevent attackers from accessing that information.

Typically, you should not use public networks for working on any confidential matters. It’s best to use the public network only for basic purposes like surfing news.

error 812

How To Get Rid Of VPN Error 812 In Windows 10

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After the April 2018 Windows Update, some users complained about the VPN Error 812. Unlike many other errors, the VPN Error 812 is not very common.

It is possible that this error has something to do with problems between clients and the Net Promoter Score (NPS). Even if this is an uncommon problem, there is a simple way to get it resolved. So don’t be alarmed if you experience it.

In this article, we will show you some useful fixes for VPN Error 812.

When you get Error 812, you will see a message telling you the following:

The connection was prevented because of a policy configured on your RAS/VPN server. Specifically, the authentication method used by the server to verify your username and password may not match the authentication method configured in your connection profile. Please contact the Administrator of the RAS server and notify them of this error.”

The error basically prevents you from reestablishing a connection to the VPN, after it has been disconnected. As the message clearly indicates, the error is related to the RSA/VPN server.

Before you try anything else, it’s possible to resolve the problem by restarting the RRAS serve. Alternatively, wait about one hour and reconnect your VPN.

Why does Error 812 appear on Windows 10?

Error 812 is a technical issues that is caused by the server side. Let’s go through the possible reasons this error happens:

  1. If the Authentication protocol is selected via NPS (Network Policy & Access Services).
  2. The RRAS based VPN server is configured in a different way than the VPN client system.
  3. Or the error code may appear when the value added has not been updated to ‘Tunnel Type’ Condition in the Network Policy. In this case, when the user tries to connect to their VPN client, the Tunnel Type only has a ‘PPTP’ value, causing the Error 812 to show up.
  4. In most cases, the reason is that MS-CHAP is no longer available in Windows Vista and later versions of the operating system. Thus, Error 812 takes place when the authentication protocol of the VPN server is set to “MS-CHAP” and you are using Windows Vista and above to access the client.

Regardless of the reason, don’t worry, because there are simple steps that you can follow to get it resolved. The process is not complicated and it will help you to get rid of the error in a couple of minutes.

Method 1: Set up the External DNS

You’ll very quickly get past the error, if you are willing to access your VPN settings.

1) Type in ncpa.cpl into the Windows search box and press Enter.

2) You will see the network connections. Right click on the VPN connection that you are using and click on Properties.

3) Change the Primary DNS to Domain Controller.

2) Set up the External DNS by accessing the Secondary DNS.

3) Modify the range of the Primary DNS to 8.8.8.8. Save the settings, then restart your VPN.

The VPN Connection Error 812 should go away now. However, if you are still coming across it, you are advised to contact your VPN service provider. As mentioned before, the issue is on the server side.

Method 2: Check the Tunnel Type Settings

If the first solution does not work for you, you can try the following steps:

1) Select additionnal value to “Tunnel type” Condition, like “L2TP” to obtain value “L2TP OR PPTP”

2) Click Apply, then close the Network Policy.

3) Try connecting the VPN client.

4) Revert the Network Policy to the good value for “Tunnel type” Condition, here it is “PPTP” only.

5) Apply and close the Network Policy.

6) Connect your VPN client. The steps should have set your Network Policy, ensuring that the VPN client functions properly.

Method 3: Contact your Network Administrator

It is possible that Error 812 is showing up because you don’t have enough access rights.

If this is the case, the best solution would be to contact your network administrator. Ask them to update your permissions. You have to make sure that all protocol and network authentication permissions are accurate.

Method 4: Contacting your VPN Provider

In case the previous solution still does not fix the problem, you should try contacting your VPN service provider. They most likely understand the issue and have a handy solution for it.

Error 0xc7700112

How To Fix Windows 10 Upgrade Error 0xc7700112

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The process of upgrading to Windows 10 does not always happen smoothly. If you are currently using Windows 8.1 and trying to Upgrade to Windows 10, you might come across Error 0xc7700112.

This particular error won’t allow you to Upgrade your PC to Windows 10. Error code 0xc7700112 means the upgrade process has been corrupted. No need to worry, the issue is pretty fixable.

There are multiple ways to Upgrade to Windows 10. For example, Media Creation tool allows you to use “Upgrade this PC” Option which is the most accessible and easy. Unfortunately, it seems that this option frequently ends up with errors.

In this article we’ll talk about 3 methods to fix Error 0xc7700112.

Why does Error 0xc7700112 happen?

1) Software conflict

Some third-party program on your PC might be what is preventing you from using Windows 10. Likewise, anti-virus software commonly collides with other software, including updates. Therefore, Error 0xc7700112 might be the result of this collision.

To check if that is the case, uninstall all the third-party software that has been recently installed on your PC.

Use the Software Uninstaller function provided by jv16 PowerTools to uninstall software Windows or other software can’t. This tool uses a custom uninstallation engine that quickly scans your entire system to find all the possible leftover traces of the software you want to get rid of.

Error 0xc7700112

Some of the users claim that they have fixed Error 0xc7700112 once they deactivated their anti-virus. Try to deactivate your anti-virus and then launch Windows 10 upgrade.

If the issue is still here, perform a clean boot and try to update your OS.

2) Orphaned setup entries

The main reason why people face Windows 10 errors is related to inappropriate way of upgrading.

Your Win 10 upgrade might be a failure because of the traces of an earlier installation attempt in the Boot Configuration Data (BCD) file.

Some Windows users say that Error 0xc7700112 is caused by a collision of two upgrades. For example, an automatic upgrade might have been changed by the one the user downloaded himself/herself.

3) Out-of-date drivers

Users often forget to update their driver software when moving to a newer OS, thus triggering multiple driver-related issues. Unfortunately, some of them may prove quite persistent.

You can update your drivers manually or use Device Manager.

a. Manually

The first option can be quite time-consuming and dangerous if you don’t know exactly what driver versions you need.

Otherwise, you may end up installing the wrong software and damaging your computer. There is also a chance of infecting your OS since the Internet is full of malware which looks as the latest driver software.

b. Device Manager

Device Manager is a built-in Windows tool that takes care of your hardware and devices. It lists all the physical parts your PC system has.

Therefore, you can right-click any component and update its driver software by selecting the appropriate option. After that, select the Search automatically for updated driver software option for Device Manager to be able to find the right thing for you.

Error 0xc7700112

Unfortunately, this method can take a lot of time and also Device Manager may fail to find the exact software your system needs to work the way it should.

4) Malware issues

The modern digital environment is practically full off malicious threats. It’s quite possible one of them has gotten into your PC and infected your OS, Error 0xc7700112 being the result.

In a scenario like this, try running a full anti-malware scan of your computer. Make use of the built-in Windows Defender solution or your favorite anti-virus software.

What to do before you try to upgrade

Don’t forget to back up the data you can’t afford to lose. You can save your important files and folders to an external storage device or a cloud drive.
First, check to see if your machine has got the latest updates. Open an administrator command line to run “sfc /scannow” in order to check the health of system files.

Error 0xc7700112

Then ensure the device manufacturer has released the Windows 10 compatible drivers for your machine model.

We recommend you unplug all the external devices during the upgrade process. Also, turn off the antivirus software to isolate the third party service conflict issue.

If the issue persists, please check the setup.log(C:\$WINDOWS.~BT\Sources\Panther) for more information to troubleshoot this issue.

Error 0xc7700112

How to fix Error 0xc7700112

Method 1: Creating USB Flash Drive.

You will Require Windows Media Creation tool. Click Here to go to Microsoft’s Official Site, Scroll down and Click on Download Tool Now in case you don’t have it.

Step 1: Run the tool and you will be asked to Accept the Terms & Conditions.

Step 2: On the Next Screen you will have 2 Options. 1) Upgrade this PC and 2) Create Installation Media for another PC. Select the 2nd option.

Step 3: Next, you will be asked to Select Language, Architecture, and Edition. This will be done automatically.

Step 4: Now you will have two options 1) USB Flash Drive and 2) ISO file. Select USB Flash Drive. Plug in a USB that has at least 8 GB of free space.

Step 5: Select the drive and click next. Now the tool will download Windows 10 on your USB. After the download is done, you can use the drive to Upgrade your Windows 8/8.1 PC.

 Method 2: Downloading ISO file

Use this Method if the Above method fails to fix Error 0xc7700112. For this Method, Step 1,2 and 3 are the exact same.

Step 4: You need to Select ISO File Instead of USB Flash Drive. Insert a blank DVD with enough space.

Step 5: After that, follow the Onscreen Instructions and let the download finish.

Step 6: Go to the downloaded file, right click on it and click on MOUNT.

Step 7: Once it is finished, open the CD Drive and double click on the Setup file. Let the upgrading process finish.

If everything goes right, then you should not get Error 0xc7700112 this time.

Method 3: Remove orphaned Windows Setup entries

In this case, in order to get rid of the Error 0xc7700112 , you should delete the orphaned Windows Setup entries:

Step 1: Start by pressing WINKEY + X button combo or right-click on the Start button

Step 2: Click on Command Prompt (Admin) or just search for cmd in the search box.

Step 3: Right click on the Command Prompt icon and click on Run as Administrator.

Step 4: Type in the following command and then hit enter: bcdedit /enum all. You can enter bcdedit /enum all > D:\bcdConfig.txt in order to store the TXT file in the D: partition of your computer’s Hard drive.

Step 5: There is an identifier under each Device options section. These identifiers are leftovers from your previous installation. Type bcdedit /delete {Here key in the name of the first identifier}. Hit Enter to proceed.

Step 6: Repeat this command for every Device options identifier.

Step 7: Reboot your PC. Once your Windows is up and running, open the admin version of Command Prompt again.

Step 8: Enter the following command bcdedit /enum just to check if the orphaned entries have been removed.

Finally, run the Windows 10 Upgrade Assistant and see if the Error 0xc7700112 has been resolved.

dns server not responding

Solve DNS Server Not Responding Errors on Your Network

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DNS is a server that translates website addresses (language which computers can understand) so that your browser can connect to them.

When you connect a device to your home network or a Wi-Fi hotspot with internet access, the internet connection may fail to work for a lot of several reasons.

In this article we will talk about a particular category of reasons, which is DNS errors. Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 computers may report the following error messages in the Troubleshooting Problems found window:​

 “DNS server not responding”

It may also show up with the websites name along with the message ‘Server DNS Address could not be found.’

DNS server not responding error is one of the most common issues that occurs on many Windows computers. If you get this error on your PC, the device will not be able to reach the internet.

Your PC might appear to be correctly configured, but the device or resource (DNS server) is not responding.

A DNS error occurs when one portion of a network is not connecting properly to another portion of the network (your device). DNS errors are one of the most common errors users receive while surfing the Web. This can occur because of a wide range of issues which we’ll tackle in this article.

One of the most common problems associated with a DNS error is a down network. A single server in the system may not relay the information correctly to the next server. Or a setting may be wrong, or something as simple as a cord connected incorrectly to an added server.

Let’s try narrowing the range of issues:

Connect a different device

First, try to connect a different device like a tablet or someone else’s laptop either wirelessly or wired to your network. If you can connect a phone, tablet, or PC to the network and access the webpage that you’re having trouble with on your primary device, the issue is clearly with the device and not the router.

Not being able to connect with the second device doesn’t necessarily mean that the router is the problem. If you’re having trouble with a specific website, try accessing it using mobile data. But if you still can’t access the site, the issue is on the site’s end.

Run Windows Network Diagnostics

On Microsoft Windows PCs, Windows Network Diagnostics can be run to help diagnose internet connection problems. If you’re not sure whether or not your computer is reporting DNS Server Not Responding errors, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Control Panel.
  2. Go to the Network and Sharing Center.

dns server not responding

3. Click the Troubleshoot problems under Change your Networking Settings.

dns server not responding

4. Then click ​Internet Connections. A new Internet Connections window appears. Click Next.

dns server not responding

dns server not responding

Wait for the troubleshooting tests to complete and look in the Problems found section of the window for the error message.

Solutions:

1. Power cycle your modem and router

Before trying anything else, simply shutdown your computer, modem+router, then restart them all and try connecting.

This will clear your router’s cache and thus it may resolve DNS errors.

Unplug your modem’s power cable as well as your router’s power cable. Then, allow both your modem and your router to sit for at least 30 seconds. Next, reconnect your modem and wait for it to come back online. Lastly, reconnect your router to your modem and wait for it to come back online.

2. Change the DNS server addresses

The DNS server address is usually obtained automatically, but you can set it to something more reliable. As the DNS server your PC obtained automatically is not responding, you can change it to one of the most reliable DNS servers out there.

For Windows 10:

Type in ncpa.cpl into the Windows search box and press Enter. Or you can also press on the Windows key from your keyboard and start typing which will take you to the search box.

For Windows 7:

Click on the Windows Key type in Run in the search bot and then type ncpa.cpl in the Run box and press Enter.

a. You will see the network connections. Right click on the connection that you are using and click on Properties.

dns server not responding

b. A new window will pop up. Select Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) and then click Properties again.

c. In that window select the button that says Use the following DNS server Addresses.

dns server not responding

d. Then, in the Preferred DNS Server field and the Alternate DNS Server field type the desired DNS. Next, check the Validate Settings Upon Exit box and click OK. Now restart your PC.

e. Try to connect to your internet and browse the websites that you were getting errors to see if the problem is solved. If it didn’t work, then try out the next method.

3. Flush the DNS of your computer

a. Click the Start button, type in cmd in the search box and press Enter from keyboard.

b. When command prompt appears, type in ipconfig /flushdns and hit Enter. This will remove all the DNS cache entry which just might resolve the problem.

c. Once done, restart your computer and check if the problem still exists. Check out this link to read more about how to flush your DNS cache.

4. Change physical address

a. Go to Windows Start menu, type in cmd in the search box and hit Enter.

b. In command prompt type in ipconfig /all and press Enter. Find the physical address and write it down.

dns server not responding

c. Go to the start menu again, type in ncpa.cpl in the search box and hit Enter. This will show you the network connections.

d. Now right click on the active connection that you are using and select Properties.

e. Click on Configure and then select Advanced tab.

dns server not responding

f. After that, click on Network address and select the button that says Value.

dns server not responding

g. Now type in the network address that you have written down previously. Make sure you write them without dashes. Then click Ok and restart the computer.

5. Correct your DNS server address

a. Go to control panel and click Network and Sharing Center.

dns server not responding

b. Next click Change adapter settings.

dns server not responding

c. Right-click on Local Area Connection, Ethernet or Wi-Fi according to your Windows. Then click Properties.|

d. Click Internet Protocol Version 4(TCP/IPv4), then Properties.

e. Check the Obtain an IP address automatically and Obtain DNS server address automatically boxes. Then click OK.

dns server not responding

Do the same for Internet Protocol Version 6(TCP/IPv6).

f. Try to access the website you want to go again and see if it succeeds.

6. Update your network adapter driver

You need to head to the device manager window and scroll down to the section of network adapters. Right-click on the active network adapter and click on “Update Driver“.

dns server not responding

If there’s an update available, you should apply it.

After updating your network adapter driver, please restart your computer. Try to access the website you want to go again and see if it succeeds.

7. Upgrade to the latest firmware on your router

Important note: Upgrade failure might cause permanent damage to the router.

It is always recommended to have the latest firmware or software updates applied. However, if you are not sure that this is the issue, we would not recommend you to proceed.

Instead, reach out to an IT expert to upgrade your router’s firmware without confusion. If it’s an issue with the firmware, you should no longer encounter the error after applying the update.

8. Internet blockages from antivirus programs

Although antivirus programs are designed to keep intruders out, they also have the capability to block internet access if they detect a misbehaving device.

Most antivirus programs work using special database (dat) files that the software vendors automatically update on a regular basis. Unfortunately, sometimes mistakes are made with these dat updates that cause the antivirus program to believe a computer is infected when really it is a false alarm.

These false positives can trigger Windows to suddenly start reporting DNS Server Not Responding errors.

To verify whether this is the cause for your device, temporarily disable the antivirus program. Next, re-run the Windows Network Diagnostics. Consult the antivirus vendor for either a new update or technical support.

Disabling your antivirus does not work as a permanent solution, but it works fine in order to temporarily troubleshoot the problem.

flush dns cache

3 Easy Ways To Flush DNS Cache In Windows 10/ 8.1 and 7

By | blog

A couple of words on DNS

DNS stands for Domain Name System. It translates website names into IP addresses which computers can understand. This happens for every website you want to visit. Every time a user visits a website by its hostname, the web browser initiates a request out to the internet, but this request cannot be completed until the site’s name is “converted” into an IP address.

Windows comes with an option which stores the specified DNS server address to speed up browsing experience. It makes the TCP/IP stack use that IP address and refers to this user-specified DNS service or gateway-specified service to resolve the domain name of a website to its IP address and load it in your web browser.

In most cases, your Internet Service Provider (ISP) provides their own DNS server. This server is usually specified in your router or automatically fetched from the ISP. The internet relies on the DNS to maintain an index of all public websites and their corresponding IP addresses.

In some cases, you may want to switch to an external DNS server. Some reasons include:

  • it may update its cache faster,
  • a third-party DNS service can have a built-in ad blocker,
  • other DNS services can provide extra security

What is the DNS Cache?

Even though there are tons of public DNS servers your network can use to try to speed up the conversion process, it’s still quicker to have a local copy, which is where DNS comes in.

Whenever you visit a website using it’s domain name, your browser is directed to a DNS server where it learns the IP address of that website. Then, you are directed to that website.

The primary function is storing the location of web servers that contain web pages which you have recently accessed. If the location of any web server changes before the entry in your DNS Cache updates, then you can no longer access that site.

A record of the IP address is created within Windows so if you visit that same website again, the information is accessed quicker. These records make up the DNS Cache (sometimes called a DNS resolver cache).

How flushing the DNS Cache can help you

If you can’t access a web page in spite of the page existing on the internet it indicates DNS Cache on the local server may be corrupted or broken.

Sometimes bad results are cached, maybe due to DNS Cache Poisoning and Spoofing. Therefore they need to be cleared from the cache in order to allow your PC to communicate with the host correctly.

Or sometimes an IP address to a site may change. If the DNS Cache has the old IP address record, it may result in your computer not being able to reach the site. Therefore, clearing it is a step you can take whenever you cannot connect to a site.

How to see your current DNS Cache

To see your current Windows DNS Cache, open a new elevated command prompt instance and type the following command:

ipconfig /displaydns

flush dns

The command will produce a very long output.

flush dns

For your convenience, you can redirect it to a file. Use the following command:

ipconfig /displaydns >%USERPROFILE%\Desktop\dns.txt

flush dns

Then you can open the dns.txt file created on your Desktop and inspect its entries.

flush dns

Flush DNS Cache, Option 1 – Windows Command

  1. Hold down the Windows key and press “R” to bring up the Run dialog box.
  2. Type ipconfig /flushdns then press “Enter“.

flush dns

A command box will flash on the screen and the DNS Resolver cache is cleared.

Flush DNS Cache, Option 2 – Windows PowerShell

  1. Select the “Start” button, then type “powershell“.
  2. Select “Windows PowerShell“.
  3. Type Clear-DnsClientCache, then press “Enter“.

flush dns

Flush DNS Cache, Option 3 – Command prompt

  1. Click on start menu search and type ‘command’.
  2. From search results right click on Command Prompt (make sure you’re running it as administrator).
  3. Type ipconfig /flushdns and hit enter.

flush dns

Conclusion

When you flush DNS Cache, it removes all the entries and deletes any invalid records. Thus forcing your computer to repopulate those addresses the next time you try accessing those websites. These new addresses are taken from the DNS server your network is set up to use.

A router can have a DNS cache as well. Which is why rebooting a router is often a troubleshooting step. For the same reason you might flush DNS cache on your computer, you can reboot your router to clear the DNS entries stored in its temporary memory.

Check out this article to find out the current best DNS Servers which you can use for free!

snooze windows 10 updates

Configuration and Settings to Snooze Windows 10 Updates

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In the past, it was not possible to snooze Windows 10 updates. Windows devices used to be automatically restarted to complete the installation of some changes.

This was certainly frustrating not only for domestic consumers but also for businesses.

Starting with the Windows 10 Creators Update, Microsoft has implemented a method that no longer requires forced restarts to install or upgrade certain system components. It is also currently possible to snooze Windows 10 updates.

One of Microsoft’s great promises with Windows 10 is to keep the system always up-to-date and secure. The problem is that these updates do not always emerge at the right time.

In many cases it may seem like Windows updates demand restarts exactly when you are in the middle of important work. As a result, in such cases updates end the normal operation of your computer. You could rarely do something about it.

How to snooze Windows 10 updates

Microsoft introduced a feature called ‘Snooze’ that makes it possible for users to delay a specific update. You can pause updates for a maximum of 3 days at a time. This allows you to find the most appropriate time to install the update.

If you do choose to update and restart, once you turn on the computer, the first thing you see is a message that says “Updating… this could take a few minutes.” This can be frustrating as those minutes soon become an hour.

You may lose a meeting on Skype or cause a delay in a project in which you have just the right time to finish and deliver.

Once the Windows 10 Creators Update has been installed, your computer will no longer display small, easy-to-ignore reminders about an upcoming update. Windows 10 will no longer snatch control of your machine when it’s time to install.

Instead, you will be presented with a complete screen, impossible to ignore, that will present you with three options: “Restart now“, “Select a time” or “Snooze“.

Why does Windows do this? Well, the updates are to improve security, that’s all we know.

What few people know is that there are new settings to manage the Windows update behavior, perhaps one of the most important functions of Windows 10 Creators Update.

This is the Settings menu that allows you to configure when you want the updates.

Starting with Windows 10 Creators Update, you have different options available to manage the installation times of the updates. You can decide when you want the computer to restart so that the new version is installed.

You also have the option, as before, of ‘Active Hours’. Periods of daily time during which you do not want to know anything about updates. If you have not already configured it on your computer, you should do so.

During active hours, Windows will not restart your computer to install updates without asking you first.

In the Windows Update section, click Choose Activity Hours. By factory setting, the activity hours are programmed for 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., but you can adjust them according to your most productive times. Your hours of activity can be up to 18 hours.

Another feature that has been added with Creators Update is the ability to check at a glance whether our computer has the latest updates installed.

This is really useful if you want your computer to be safe and also have all the new functions and bug fixes.

Windows 10 Update and Security  – Reset Options

Under the Choose Active Hours option, are the ‘Restart’ options. These settings allow you to override the hours of activity to install an update.

If there is an update ready to install and you will be away for several hours, you can schedule your PC to restart and install the update while you are away.

This is a function that can be scheduled to only occur once and does not alter the settings of other updates.

You can also install an update immediately available by clicking “Restart Now“.

Advanced options to snooze Windows 10 updates

If you are using Windows 10 Pro, you will find a link for Advanced Options below Restart Options in the Windows Update section. Here you will find three drop-down menus to choose when you want the updates to be installed.

The first menu gives you an option between Semi-Annual Channel (Targeted) and Semi-Annual Channel (for Business).

The Semi-Annual Channel (Targeted) option issues updates once Microsoft makes them available.

The Semi-Annual Channel option adds a four-month delay for large-scale installations (large companies and businesses), which ensures that the upgrade is as stable as possible.

computers run slow

Why do computers run slow?

By | blog

Here is our system administrator checklist

In today’s world, where almost everything we do is done through the Internet, having one of our computers run slow is nearly a catastrophe.

Work, payments, essays, research, gaming, and even shopping is commonly done through PCs on a regular basis. Needless to say, their slowdown can have severe real-world consequences. It will keep us from checking our bank accounts, communicating with others during a crisis and so on.

It’s easy to see the need to have our computers running as best as they can and to shut down anything that might trigger lagging or crashes.

But the best way to eliminate speed issues in a computer isn’t by treating the symptoms, but by identifying the underlying issue that’s causing these problems in performance.

To help you administrate either your computer or a series of machines (like a work network), we’ve compiled a list of the common factors that might make computers run slow. This way you can possibly identify and fix the issue without losing too much of your time. It will also help you make the most out of your day by increasing the free time you’ll have on your hands.

To help as many people as possible, we’ll evaluate what causes a computer slowdown in general. We especially look for what might be slowing your system while you browse through the Internet, play video games, or even record videos or songs.

Let’s jump in:

1. Computer Viruses

Let’s start with the obvious one and the one we’re the most accustomed to seeing.

Viruses and other malware are programs made for the sole purpose to access your computer remotely or, depending on the malware, they also perform or trigger a set of actions that usually hinder the computer’s performance or steals information.

Thus, viruses are usually among the top quoted reasons that make computers run slow. Especially those viruses that mess with your browser to open up advertisements.

How to fix it?

Run an antivirus scan and eliminate the virus.

2. Antivirus Program(s) Running in the Background

On the other end of the spectrum, we have your antivirus which may be running scans without you knowing it. Antiviruses are often programmed to scan for viruses periodically in the background. And, since the antivirus scans run in the background, without necessarily opening a new window, you might not notice. This action usually takes away a lot of processing power and performance.

How to fix it?

Open up your antivirus’ settings and program it to scan the PC whenever you’re not using the computer.

3. Too Many Open Browser Tabs

Having several tabs running in your browser, especially those that keep refreshing like live streams, are a burden to your browser and your computer in general.

Internet browsers usually take away a lot of processing power, which makes computers run slow. Each tab takes away a bit of RAM. This is worsened by the number of tabs you have open. So, your memory won’t be able to handle the resources demanded.

How to fix it?

Close some tabs. Alternatively, if some of them are too precious to close, you can bookmark them before closing them. Moreover, you can use One-Tab to compile all of them into just one tab.

4. Saturated or Obsolete DNS

If what’s slowing down is just your internet connection, then the issue might be the DNS servers that the PC uses to access the internet.

You see, DNS servers are a sort of “translators” that process the addresses in websites, so that your IP address can access them and show them on your browser. Since DNS are used by a lot of people, they can get saturated and then slow down.

How to fix it?

If you see that your computer isn’t running slow, but the internet does, it might be because of the DNS servers. Change them for better DNS providers like Google or OpenDNS.

5. Too Many Browser Add-Ons

Usually bundled with free software downloads, add-ons come in the form of extra search bars, and many new features are shown under (or around) your browsers’ address bar.

How to fix it?

Simply eliminate or disable them from your browser’s settings.

6. Too Many Programs Open

Each program you open needs some of your RAM to function. Unfortunately, your computer also needs that RAM to perform smoothly.

Very often, people forget to close programs they’re not using, and end up with a lot of RAM wasted on minimised programs.

Let’s not forget about programs that initialise along with the computer, which means they turn on along with it. These programs can go unnoticed, and make computers run slow when you add in the other programs you’ll use.

How to fix it?

Close them. That’s it. Make sure you close any programs you’re not using.

And for those programs that boot up with Windows like uTorrent and MEGA, you can close them by right-clicking them on your hidden icons menu. That is the tiny arrow that opens up a menu next to the internet connection icon. Choose “exit”, “close”, or whatever option they give you to stop running them. Or even better, open their settings menu and set them to not start along with your PC.

7. Programs Running in the Background

Like antiviruses, some programs tend to close themselves and run in the background, even if it seems like you closed their window.

To see them, open up your task manager and access the CPU or “Processes” tab in it. If you identify a program that is running and taking away a lot of RAM , but it doesn’t show on your desktop or tab at the bottom of it, then it’s running in the background.

How to fix it?

Just click it (or right-click it) and choose “end process”. If you can’t identify the process or are afraid of ending an important one, you can also restart your computer.

8. Overheating PC

If you see your PC suddenly running slower than yesterday, then it might have collected dust on its fan, and it’s overheating.

Overheating is another prevalent cause for which PCs slow down. This is particularly the case when running demanding programs such as video games.

How to fix it?

Overheating means one thing: it’s time to clean your computer. If that fails, then you might need to replace the fan or another part.

9. Obsolete Parts

This might be the issue especially if the computer slows down while playing video games or using recording programs, such as audio or video editing software. An old sound card, video card, HDD or RAM, is usually what makes computers run slow.

That is because more advanced programs require more advanced system specs, such as: more powerful RAM, sound card or video cards. It could be because they take more HDD space than what you have to spare. And so, less powerful hardware tends to overload and malfunction, causing lagging, frame drops, or distorted audio.

How to fix it?

Either look for online guides on how to use your programs with the minimal setups (in the case of video games), use lower-end programs, or save up to replace the failing part.

free software

Why Free Software Most of the Times Is Not Enough

By | blog

Free software can be dangerous, but what can you do about it? Legitimate methods to protect our computers and smartphones have changed in recent years. Malware is becoming more sophisticated. Revelations by Edward Snowden and Wikileaks show us that cyber criminals constantly invent new ways to spy on us.

We have seen banking malware that intercept SMS messages to get authentication keys for each transaction. There is also software that takes advantage of bugs and security holes to sneak even through encrypted connections.

Good maintenance of your computer can be achieved by performing various tasks. Cleaning your hard drive, cleaning the Windows registry, updating drivers. Some of these tasks are laborious and for users with less experience, they can be complicated.

For these reasons, protecting and managing the security of your computer can quickly become a nuisance.

For those who have difficulties in doing so, or do not want to waste time by complicating their life, there are programs that can do one, several or all maintenance tasks – automatically.

Relationship between malware and free software

Viruses are the most widely known threat to computers, laptops, and devices. They can cause all kinds of damages. There are different types of viruses and each has the ability to compromise your device(s) in different ways.

Usually, users get malware by downloading dubious software. Such software falsely appears to be other things. Remember that ‘YouTube downloader’ you got for free? Usually they are are nothing more than a scam. And they don’t come alone! Meaning, more potentially unwanted programs usually download in the background.

You may think that you know what you are doing and that you will not download infected files or visit misleading websites. However, it is important to remember that cyber criminals are creating new social engineering tactics every day.

Such software can drastically slow down your computer’s processing speed. It can display ads from other vendors or even send out logs of your complete computing activity, including passwords and private chat logs.

Some will even power on your camera. In some cases, they may even cause irreparable physical damage to the system.

The importance of an antivirus

Remember this: if a product is free, then in some way your personal data is the product!

Currently, it seems indispensable to have an antivirus installed. Whether as a free or paid software, having the protection of an antivirus seems the ‘de facto standard’ as the number of viruses and virtual pests grow daily.

These programs help keeping your operating system, data, and personal files secure. Some antiviruses include a firewall which helps to create a barrier between your computer and the rest of the Internet.

There are several antivirus vendors on the market, and the existing “types” of antivirus fall into three categories:

  • Paid antivirus software: you must purchase the license to use the software (considerations: cost)
  • Free antivirus software: can be installed and used without restrictions (considerations: your personal data is usually collected by the antivirus company for research purposes)
  • Online: it can be paid or free. It does not need to be installed, but you need to be connected to the Internet (considerations: inefficient at detecting evasive malware)

By comparing free and paid antivirus, they seem respond in much the same way in some virus testing. Maybe antivirus tests of today are not really unbiased or maybe they all deserve to reach the finish line first.

The online antivirus is being used more and more, but it should not be a substitute for the previous ones. Although they can be used as an extra method of verification, most web based (online) anti-malware solutions of today fail to detect evasive malware.

Problems related to free software

Free software is simply software that you install on your computer free of charge, deliberately or not. For example, it may be a game that you installed on your computer, a free program that helps you control your expenses or lose weight.

Free software can be presented in various ways, including on CD or as a download from a website. At present, in addition, some free programs adopt another name: applet or widget.

What about security? Well, some free programs are safe and some are not. Often, it depends on its origin. Free software lacks some of the standard features that we generally expect any software to include, such as technical support, bug fixes, downloadable patches and virus definitions, among others.

Perhaps tech savvy users will understand and assess the risks of using free software. Most of us, however, will not want to expose their computers, files, and personal information to potential dangers.

When it comes to free software, you better be careful. Free programs you download over the Internet may contain malicious code that can cause damage to your computers or mobile devices. It could cause incompatibilities with other programs, take control of the computer or compromise your personal data and expose you to potential identity theft.

Not everything that is free is good!

Free software, also known as “freeware“, are increasingly accepted for use on mobile devices because they are easily accessible over the Internet. But accessing zero-cost programs also has a downside. The saying “quality and price go hand in hand” could be applied to free programs.

There is free software that claims to protect your computer, files, and information against online threats. But experts advise caution.

Using free software as a security program is risky. It is recommended to investigate the company and its products before downloading. Even so, it may be safer to pay for protection and opt in for some of the most consolidated security software.

How do you protect yourself from these threats?

Many users are content to install free software and think hey are protected. There is no doubt that basic protection of this type is better than nothing, but if this was enough, why does malware still find its way?

This question leads to another more interesting inquiry. How is a free antivirus different from a paid one? First, you have to leave behind old beliefs like “paid antivirus are expensive”.

In this life, almost nothing is free, not even on the Internet. Remember the old saying: “there is no free meal”. If the product is free, then the product is you.

Free software provides a basic protection service, true, but often includes advertising that is sometimes annoying or continuous warnings for you to upgrade to the paid version. More worrying are the cases that have jumped on the news: free antivirus sold usage data to third parties. Some even specify it in the contract of use.

With paid antivirus, there is no advertising and it is not trafficked with the data of use because it is a service acquired by the client. It is important to keep this in mind if you value not being interrupted by excessive notifications, or not being tracked for advertising purposes.

Main considerations

A. Performance and resource considerations

Analytical and comparative tests show that free software products consume more CPU and memory resources when compared to paid programs, slowing down the use of the computer. This is especially important if you have an old computer, where resources are scarce. If the antivirus makes your computer take a long time to boot or slow down, then you are paying, even if it is free.

B. Technology involved in developing free software

Not all antiviruses are the same, nor do they have the same protection systems or the same attack detection techniques.

Most free antivirus protects against known attacks, but they are not as effective at detecting new types of malware or new infection systems. It is a weakness that cyber criminals know and therefore continuously develop new types of malware created to circumvent the barriers of more known anti-virus.

Anti-virus software incorporates anti-exploit software that blocks the security holes of programs that users have not patched and an anti-keylogger, which prevents cyber criminals from tracking the passwords and personal data you enter when using the keyboard.

With the anti-phishing module, malware is prevented from supplanting the identity of a bank or Internet service, to steal your data.

C. Free software usually lacks customer care

An additional question to consider is something we do not value until we suffer the invasion of a virus or data theft: where to find an expert hand to help you out of the impasse?

Free software usually does not offer customer service. And in many cases, it comes with nasty surprises attached. If you have been infected by ransomware that has encrypted your hard drive, what do you do? Are you ready for such an event?

Or perhaps your phone has started to do strange things but the antivirus does not detect anything. Who do you go to?

Only in such situations is when you start to miss the customer care of a paid antivirus. This can help you recover your hijacked computer or detect if your equipment really has a virus.

Last but not least, an option is to ask for our help. We may not know everything but we do learn on a daily basis! Our PC Optimization Expert service is available. Due to the nature of the service offered, we must ask for a premium.

D. The cost of licensing quality software should not be an excuse

All this leads us to the main issue that always carries greater weight when it comes to choosing between a free software and a paid one. We speak, of course, of the price.

It is understandable that if you pay an amount of money for a smartphone or tablet (a little more if it is a computer), then you do not want to spend money on a security solution that accounts for 30% of the total expenditure.

Nowadays, it seems that installing a cleaning tool is a must have in a Windows environment. It is something that you should not leave aside. Even more if you are working with the computer all day.

Keep the operating system updated to the latest version. This will help to protect your machine’s security and stored data. In turn, the stability of the system may be somewhat less of what you expect after the new patches. These often cause new problems to surface (hence the development life-cycle).

Create a backup of your important files and keep the backup copy updated and safe.

These are just few of the many ways in which you can remain calm in the event of an incident.