Alexander: July cutoff for Internet is real, not a Web scam

  • Article by: STEVE ALEXANDER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 29, 2012 - 4:26 PM

Q I've recently been told that I must check my computer for malicious software or risk losing my Internet connection in July. Is this true or is it some sort or urban legend or scam?

DIANE DELAET, Miami

A It's true. An FBI investigation discovered that about 570,000 computers worldwide had been taken over by malicious software, which redirected their Internet browsing to hacker-operated Web servers. (See the FBI website tinyurl.com/cfmp6dj, and a news story at tinyurl.com/cganglo.)

In March, the FBI said it had set a July 9 deadline for about 85,000 remaining U.S. consumers to clean the malicious software from their computers; after that the PCs won't be able to connect to the Internet because the bogus servers used for the attempted fraud will be turned off.

The FBI-authorized website www.dns-ok.us will tell you whether your computer is infected and, if so, how to fix it.

Q I have been using the Microsoft Money Deluxe 2005 financial program for years, primarily for record-keeping rather than online transactions or banking.

Now that I'm buying a new PC, is there a similar program into which I could import my existing Money 2005 information?

CAROLYN FIES, READING, PA.

A Microsoft discontinued its series of Money programs in 2009, but it offers the free program Money Plus Sunset Deluxe (for details see tinyurl.com/7gf7auv) that's compatible with some previous Money programs. To try it, save your Money 2005 data file to a flash drive, then download Sunset Deluxe at tinyurl.com/cbym39s.

Or, if you have the original Money 2005 disk, you could install it on a new PC that uses Windows 7 (the online functions will no longer work), then import your data. (See tinyurl.com/ylx7qxz.)

You can find similar programs at tinyurl.com/7v4tx3c, but they may not accept your data file.

Q What's the best way to respond when programs request permission to make changes to my computer?

MICHAEL KATZ, Miami

A The warnings you're seeing are generated by a security feature of Microsoft Windows called "user account control." (See tinyurl.com/cjx7ax6.)

Whenever you receive the warning, you have to decide whether to trust that particular program. If the request comes from software that you bought, or which was recommended to you by a trusted source, allow the program to make changes. If you don't recognize the program making the request, answer no.

E-mail tech questions to steve.j.alexander@gmail.com or write to Tech Q&A, 425 Portland Av. S., Minneapolis, MN 55488. Include name, city and telephone number.

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