70-413: Designing and Implementing a Server Infrastructure

You need to enable the deployment of domain controllers using virtual machine cloning.
Which of the following would need to be done first?

A. The domain controller running the Schema Master role needs to be upgraded to Windows Server 2012.
B. The domain controller running the Domain Naming Master role needs to be upgraded to Windows Server 2012.
C. All domain controllers running the Infrastructure Master role need to be upgraded to Windows Server 2012.
D. The functional level of the forest needs to be raised to Windows Server 2012.
E. All domain controllers running the PDC Emulator role need to be upgraded to Windows Server 2012.

Answer: E


You need to enable Active Directory Recycle Bin in the domains.
Which of the following would need to be done first?

A. The functional level of the forest needs to be raised to Windows Server 2008 R2 or later.
B. The domain controller running the Schema Master role needs to be upgraded to Windows Server 2012.
C. All domain controllers need to be upgraded to Windows Server 2012.
D. All domain controllers running the Infrastructure Master role need to be upgraded to Windows Server 2012.

Answer: A


Which of the following technologies should you implement to meet the technical requirement of
distributing virtual machines between Hyper-V hosts automatically according to server load?

A. Windows Network Load Balancing.
B. Microsoft System Center 2012 Virtual Machine Manager (VMM).
C. Microsoft System Center 2012 Data Protection Manager (DPM).
D. Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V)

Answer: B


You have created a Windows Server 2012 virtual machine configured as a domain controller.
You want to clone the virtual domain controller to create another virtual domain controller.
Which two of the following steps should you perform first? (Choose two).

A. Run the Install-ADDSDomainController PowerShell cmdlet.
B. Run the New-ADDCCloneConfigFile PowerShell cmdlet.
C. Run sysprep.exe /oobe.
D. Run dcpromo.exe /adv.
E. Place a DCCloneConfig.xml file in the %Systemroot%\NTDS folder.
F. Place an Unattend.xml file in the %Systemroot%\SYSVOL folder.

Answer: B,E


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MCPD Web Developer exam 70-547 hints and tips

Following my post about studying toward
MCPD certification,
I’ve now taken the exam and am pleased to say I passed with a good score. The
exam 70-547 is about designing and developing web applications using ASP.NET
2.0. It focuses on the full software development lifecycle and covers planning,
architecture, design, testing and deployment, where as the prerequisite MCTS
exams cover more of the actual coding and implementation details.

My main study guide was the official Microsoft Press book, MCPD Self-Paced
Training Kit (Exam 70-547). It covered the syllabus thoroughly enough to get me
through the exam, but like most similar books wasn’t much fun to read. It’s over
700 pages, and after the first few hundred the content starts to get fairly
monotonous. It’s also difficult to skim because you might miss something
essential for the exam. If you’re an experienced developer then you might not
learn much, but if you’re new to coding then you should find plenty of useful
information about broader areas of software development, such as architecture,
data modelling and unit testing.

A lot of the testing chapters read like an advert for Visual Studio Team System
(VSTS) and aggressively promote its unit testing and web load testing
capabilities. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s a Microsoft exam after all,
but you will need Visual Studio Team Test if you want to work through the
practical exercises (an evaluation version is available). The unit testing in
VSTS is impressive, but doesn’t seem to offer much over the freely available
NUnit. The web load testing on the other hand is invaluable.

My best advice for the book is to read it in short frequent bursts. Try to read
a little bit every day and you’ll easily work through it, so don’t be
intimidated. If you find yourself slacking, just register for the exam and

you’ll soon become motivated. And remember to use the 15% exam discount voucher
that comes with the book.

My other study resource, which I also used for the
MCTS exams, was
the practice test from Microsoft. The questions are very relevant to the
actual exam, and helped highlight areas to focus my study. The most useful
feature is that every answer has an explanation, so if you get one wrong you can
see why and hopefully fill a gap in your knowledge.

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The exam isn’t easy, but many questions appeal to common sense as well as
technical expertise, and there aren’t any trick questions. There’s more than
enough time to work through the 40 multiple-choice questions, so be careful to
read each one closely and don’t panic. Some questions ask you to pick more than
one answer so follow the instructions carefully. The passing score is 700 out of

According to Microsoft’s statistics there are only 2,147 MCPD web developers
worldwide, so if you want to improve your skills, stand out in the job market,
or negotiate a promotion then certification could be a great career move.

My next goal is MCTS certification for SQL Server and exam 70-431. Then it
shouldn’t be too long before the next generation of .NET 3.5 MCTS are available.

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Google Fiber divides users into ‘the fast’ and ‘the furious’

Google’s fiber push is making the ‘have nots’ mad. That’s a good thing.

Every day is a beautiful day in the fiberhood.

The chosen ones in Kanas City, Austin and Provo are getting Internet connections that are 100 times faster than average at very low prices, thanks to Google’s Fiber project.

Unfortunately, you and I don’t live there. So we’re stuck in a bandwidth backwater.

As Internet trolls like to say: U mad, bro?

If you don’t live in one of these cities, you should be mad. Google’s Fiber project demonstrates that very high Internet speeds are possible and nobody except Google has the vision or courage to make it happen.

One Internet bandwidth provider has admitted the ability to provide much faster speeds to consumers, but has decided not to. Time Warner Cable CFO Irene Esteves said in February that Time Warner is perfectly capable of “delivering 1 gigabit, 10 gigabit-per-second” Internet connectivity to consumers, but that the company just doesn’t “see the need of delivering that to consumers.” I believe Esteves’ statement accurately represents the thinking of most existing Internet providers.

Now are you mad?

The issue isn’t really that consumers don’t want faster Internet speeds. And it’s not that cable providers don’t care.

It’s really a chicken-and-egg problem.
Why your Internet is so slow

Average U.S. Internet speeds rank 12th or 13th in the world, which is pathetic for the country that invented the Internet and contains Silicon Valley, Hollywood and data-hungry Wall Street and a $15 trillion annual GDP.

Other countries are pulling away. A Sony-backed service recently announced 2Gbps download speeds in Tokyo for $51 per month — twice the speed of Google Fiber and 200 times faster than the U.S. average and at a lower price than Google Fiber.

Now are you mad?

Gigabit fiber Internet access is affordable, but only if everybody gets it. But everybody isn’t going to get it unless it’s affordable.

And that’s why we can’t have nice things.

At least, that’s what Esteves really means when she says that users don’t want faster speeds. Providing consumers with the faster speeds Time Warner currently provides to some business customers is very expensive because only a few customers pay for it all.

It’s not that Time Warner Cable’s customers don’t want fast Internet. They don’t want Time Warner Cable’s price for fast Internet.

However, if you lay fiber to every home in a city, and if a majority of homes sign up to use it, the cost can come way down. And that’s what Google Fiber is all about. It’s about making a bet on the future and investing heavily to bootstrap widespread use and high demand.

Google’s Fiber project involves the actual digging of trenches and the actual laying of fiber optic cables all the way to homes. There are innumerable logistical and legal hurdles to overcome for each city.

Google is already providing the service in Kansas City, and is still expanding into new neighborhoods there. The company recently announced that it would roll it out to Austin, Texas, then Provo, Utah.

Google offers consumers three “plans.” The first is Internet comparable in speed to ordinary broadband, and it’s free. The second is 1Gbps speeds and 1 TB of Google Drive space for $70 per month. The third adds TV plus a 2TB DVR box for a total of $120 per month.

Getting Google Fiber service is just like getting cable Internet service (except 100 times faster). You get a Wi-Fi capable router, and you plug your PC into it via Ethernet for the full-speed experience.

Google is spending $84 million to build the infrastructure necessary to serve 149,000 Kanas City customers. That’s $563.75 per customer, for you math majors. (If that sounds like a lot of money, consider that the infrastructure gives you 100 times faster Internet for the rest of your life for the price of an iPad. Still, customers don’t have to pay for it up front — Google is doing that.) And it gets cheaper per customer with each new person that signs up.

Goldman Sachs estimates that it would cost $140 billion to deploy Google Fiber nationwide.

To put that in perspective, that one-time investment would give entrepreneurs in every state of the union a radical advantage globally, ignite an economic boom comparable to the nationwide deployment of electricity 100 years ago and enable incredible new services — all for less than what the U.S. loses each year in offshore tax havens.

Now are you mad?
Why mad users are the best thing about Google Fiber

It’s unlikely that Google will lay fiber to every city in the US, and less likely still that Google will do that Internationally. And it doesn’t need to.

Google Fiber is already “inspiring” ISPs to boost speeds and investment. Google may be triggering an arms race for high-speed Internet connectivity, because it’s re-setting expectations about how fast the Internet should be.

This increasingly matters as HD movies and TV becomes more mainstream. Right now, Netflix alone consumes one-third of all the download bandwidth in the U.S. at peak times.

Hollywood and other movies-on-demand services had better get busy offering compelling services. More than half the upload bandwidth in the U.S. is consumed by BitTorrent.

I think the minority of providers who figure out how to offer vastly higher speeds at very low cost will survive, and the Time Warners will get out of the ISP business for good.

No, AT&T didn’t announce gigabit fiber in Austin

Hours after Google announced that Austin would get the Google Fiber treatment, AT&T (which is headquartered in Dallas) announced that it would build a gigabit fiber network of its own in Austin.

Or, at least that’s what the news reports would have you believe. But if you look at the press release, it was really a passive-aggressive bit of whining about Google getting special treatment from Austin authorities.

Instead of announcing a plan to build fiber optic connectivity in Austin, AT&T actually announced that “it is prepared to build an advanced fiber optic infrastructure in Austin,” according to the announcement press release.

“Prepared to build” does not mean “plans to build.”

Then the whining began: AT&T’s plans “anticipate it will be granted the same terms and conditions as Google on issues such as geographic scope of offerings, rights of way, permitting, state licenses and any investment incentives.”

The release ended with this zinger: “Our potential capital investment will depend on the extent we can reach satisfactory agreements.”

In other words, the whole reason for AT&T’s press release was not to announce the intention to build fiber optic gigabit Internet connectivity, but instead to complain about preferential treatment of Google by local authorities.

AT&T has a point. Local, state and government regulations and restrictions are a big part of why our Internet speeds are so slow. And that’s yet another reason why Google Fiber is so brilliant.
Google is simply smarter than AT&T

Rather than approaching individual cities and begging them for permission to lay fiber, Google held a big contest and said, in effect: “OK, we’re going to pick a city to gain a massive economic boost. You want it? What are you going to do for us?”

Then they started choosing from among the 1,100 applicant cities based on which ones were most serious about making Google Fiber possible.

In fact, Google Fiber triggered a gold rush of entrepreneurial investment and activity.

One enterprising local even rents their Google Fiber-connected home at a premium on AirBnB, and calls it “Hacker House.”

Google Fiber is creating a lot of hype and attention. It’s making people realize that affordable, ultra high-speed Internet connectivity is possible.

It’s making people look at their local governments and ISPs and ask: Why can’t I have this?

But mostly, Google Fiber is making people mad. And that’s the right emotion in the face of the incredible waste of time and money and opportunity that takes place every day that goes by while we’re held back by yesterday’s Internet speeds.

But let’s not just get mad. Let’s get fiber.

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70-410 Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA): Windows Server 2012

You work as an administrator at The network consists of a single domain
named All servers on the network have Windows Server 2012 installed. has a server, named Certkingdom-SR07, which has two physical disks installed. The C: drive
hosts the boot partition, while the D: drive is not being used. Both disks are online.
You have received instructions to create a virtual machine on Certkingdom-SR07. Subsequent to creating
the virtual machine, you have to connect the D: drive to the virtual machine.
Which of the following is TRUE with regards to connecting a physical disk to a virtual machine?

A. The physical disk should not be online.
B. The physical disk should be uninstalled and re-installed.
C. The physical disk should be configured as a striped disk.
D. The physical disk should be configured as a mirrored disk.

Answer: A


You work as a senior administrator at The network consists of a single
domain named All servers on the network have Windows Server 2012
You are running a training exercise for junior administrators. You are currently discussing the new
VHD format called VHDX.
Which of the following is TRUE with regards to VHDX? (Choose all that apply.)

A. It supports virtual hard disk storage capacity of up to 64 GB.
B. It supports virtual hard disk storage capacity of up to 64 TB.
C. It does not provide protection against data corruption during power failures.
D. It has the ability to store custom metadata about the file that the user might want to record.

Answer: B,D


You work as a senior administrator at The network consists of a single
domain named All servers on the network have Windows Server 2012
installed, and all workstations have Windows 8 installed.
You are running a training exercise for junior administrators. You are currently discussing a
Windows PowerShell cmdlet that activates previously de-activated firewall rules.
Which of the following is the cmdlet being discussed?

A. Set-NetFirewallRule
B. Enable-NetFirewallRule
C. Set-NetIPsecRule
D. Enable-NetIPsecRule

Answer: B


You work as a senior administrator at The network consists of a single
domain named All servers on the network have Windows Server 2012
installed, and all workstations have Windows 8 installed.
You are running a training exercise for junior administrators. You are currently discussing the
Always Offline Mode.
Which of the following is TRUE with regards to the Always Offline Mode? (Choose all that apply.)

A. It allows for swifter access to cached files and redirected folders.
B. To enable Always Offline Mode, you have to satisfy the forest and domain functional-level
requirements, as well as schema requirements.
C. It allows for lower bandwidth usage due to users are always working offline.
D. To enable Always Offline Mode, you must have workstations running Windows 7 or Windows
Server 2008 R2.

Answer: A,C



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70-431 Q&A / Study Guide / Testing Engine / Videos

Certkingdom has hired you as their Database administrator. You create a database on named
Development on ABC-DB01 that hosts an instance of SQL Server 2005 Enterprise Edition.
You perform weekly maintenance and conclude that the Development database growing at about
100 MB on a monthly basis. The network users started complaining about poor performance of
queries run against the database.
There is 2GB RAM installed on DB01 and the database consumes 1.6 GB of RAM.
How would you determine whether additional RAM should be acquired for ABC-DB01?

A. You should consider monitoring the SQL Server: Memory Manager – Target Server Memory
(KB) Page Splits/sec counter in System Monitor.
B. You should consider monitoring the SQL Server: Buffer Manager counter in System Monitor.
C. You should consider monitoring the System – Processor Queue counter in System Monitor.
D. You should consider monitoring the SQL Server: Access Methods – Page Splits/sec counter in System Monitor.

Answer: B

Explanation: The SQL Server: Buffer Manager object is utilized to view the information related to

You create a database on ABC-DB01 that is running an instance of SQL Server 2005 Enterprise Edition.
Certkingdom recently suffered a power outage to the building which forces you to restart ABC-DB01
which now fails to start the SQL Server (MSSQLSERVER). Certkingdom wants you to troubleshoot
the service failure.
What must be done to determine the cause of the service start failure?

A. You should consider reviewing the Event Viewer logs listed below:
The Event Viewer Applications log.
The Event Viewer System logs.
Microsoft Notepad should be utilized to manually view the Microsoft SQL
Server\MSSQL.1\MSSQL\LOG\ErrorLog file.

B. You should consider reviewing the Event Viewer logs listed below :
The Event Viewer Windows logs.
The Event Viewer Setup logs.
The Event Viewer Application log.

C. You should consider reviewing the Event Viewer logs listed below :
The Event Viewer Forwarded Event logs.
The Event Viewer Hardware events.
The Event Viewer Security log.

D. You should consider reviewing the Event Viewer logs listed below :
The Event Viewer Setup Events logs.
The Event Viewer Windows logs.
The Event Viewer Applications and Services logs.

Answer: A

Certkingdom has recently opened an office in Perth where you work as the database administrator.
The Certkingdom database infrastructure runs on computers utilizing SQL Server 2005 Enterprise
Edition. You create a Import database with a backup schedule configured in the table below:

The Imports database contains a table named incoming which was updated a week ago. During
the course of the day A network user informs you that a table has been dropped from the Imports
table at 16:10. Certkingdom wants the incoming table restored to the Imports database.
What must be done to restore the table using minimal effort and ensuring data loss is kept to a minimum?

A. You should consider restoring the database from the recent deferential backup.
B. You should consider having the differential of Monday and snapshot backup from Tuesday restored.
C. You should consider deletion of all differential and database snapshots except the recent backup.
D. You should consider having the database table recovered from the recent database snapshot.

Answer: A

Certkingdom hired you as the network database administrators. You create a database named
Customers on ABC-DB01 running an instance of SQL Server 2005 Enterprise Edition.
A custom application is used to access and query the database. The users recently reported that
the custom application experiences deadlock conditions constantly.
How would you determine which Server session ID is related to the deadlocks?
What must be done to observer the SQL Server session ID involved with the deadlock scenario?

A. You should consider monitoring the SQL Server Profiler to monitor Error and Warning events.
B. You should consider monitoring the SQL Server Profiler to monitor Lock Deadlock Chain events.
C. You should consider monitoring the SQL Server Profiler to monitor Objects.
D. You should consider monitoring the SQL Server Profiler to monitor performance.

Answer: B

You are the system administer of a SQL Server 2005 Enterprise Edition server named DB01 that
uses Windows Authentication mode. Certkingdom uses a custom developed application for running
queries against the database on DB01. Users complain that the custom application stops
responding. Yu notice that the CPU utilization at 100% capacity.
You then try to connect to DB01 by utilizing the SQL Server Management Studio but DB01 still
does not respond. Certkingdom wants you to connect to ABC-DB01 to determine the problem.
What should be done to successfully determine the problem?

A. You should consider utilizing the osql –L command from the command prompt.
B. You should consider utilizing the sqlcmd –A command from the command prompt.
You could additionally use SQL Server Management Studio to access Database Engine Query for
connecting to DB01 with the SQL Server Authentication mode.
C. You should consider utilizing the osql –E command from the command prompt.
D. You should consider utilizing the sqlcmd –N command from the command prompt.
E. You should consider utilizing the sqlcmd –R command from the command prompt.

Answer: B

Explanation: The sqlcmd –A command is utilized to ensure that a dedicated administrative connection is utilized.

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A new way to sell used IT equipment

MarkITx offers two-sided market for selling used IT gear

The buying and selling of used IT equipment is not a trivial market, but it doesn’t get enormous attention. In many cases, enterprises unload used equipment as a trade-in or at bargain price to a wholesaler because they just want the equipment off the floor.

A new Chicago-based startup says it has developed a system to help enterprises get as much value out of their old IT equipment as possible.

The company, MarkITx, is running an online system for selling equipment, but it’s not a new version of an eBay-like system. The seller and buyer remain invisible to each other, the money goes in escrow, and the transaction may even involve third-party vendors to refurbish equipment.

Ben Blair, the CTO of MarkITx, said the exchange works like “a two-sided market” rather than an auction. Buyers post what price they want to pay for particular piece of equipment, including condition and quantity. Sellers post the quantity and current condition of the equipment they are selling and what amount they want to receive for it.
IT industry

More in IT industry
Blair provided this example: A telecom operator wants to sell a few cabinets of Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) systems for $2.1 million, and a financial exchange operator is seeking a UCS for their back office.

MarkITx puts a value on the equipment, and in this case it recommends selling the Cisco equipment at $1 million, based on a range of $800,000 to $1.2 million. The telco lists all their equipment at the suggested price, but each unit is listed as a separate item at its fair market value. If the buyer and seller agree on the price, the trade is executed automatically and the payment is put in escrow with MarkITx.

Once that happens, the telco is then given shipping instructions to an OEM- or ISO-certified refurbisher that MarkITx is working with. That third party inspects the equipment, test and verifies it, and the equipment is delivered to the buyer. When the buyer accepts the equipment, the funds in escrow are released.

MarkITx will also bring the equipment up to the condition that buyer wants. For example, a seller is offering 10 rack-mount LCD KVMs at $200 each but in “C” condition. However, the buyer wants them in “A” condition, with replaced back panels and polished glass. The refurbisher says it will cost $100 per unit to bring the equipment to “A” condition, and if the buyer is willing to pay $300 per unit, the trade executes.

Blair said the company, which began operating last May but just launched publicly this month, is clearing about $1 million in transactions a month. It has $5.5 million in supply on the market, and $13.5 million in demand, he said. The bulk of its customers are in telecom, data center, education and government. The company is paid by the seller through a default commission of 20%, but it has membership plans for lower commissions.

Blair believes there is an opportunity for the company because he says many enterprises are only interested in getting rid of their equipment, not in maximizing its potential resale value. They believe that once IT departments investigate the potential resale of some of the equipment through their market, their minds will change.

“[Wholesalers] make their spread off ignorance,” said Blair, who said his company’s model ensures offering transparency on price.

According to IDC, the market for used equipment in the U.S. is about $70 billion.

Joseph Pucciarelli, an analyst at IDC, said that a lot of companies are restrained on what they can spend on capital equipment, and purchase used equipment to augment their existing systems. In many cases, they buy used equipment to keep compatibility with existing systems as way to keep their “support footprint” from expanding, he said.

Pucciarelli said companies typicall will unload used equipment to an original equipment manaufacturer (OEM) as part of a trade-in on an upgrade.

The company doing the upgrade won’t get top dollar for their old IT equipment, but they may not see a selling alternative as worth their time, said Pucciarelli. Relative to the overall size of the transaction in an equipment upgrade, “you are talking about something that is pennies on the dollar [for the used systems,]” he said.

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Does McAfee Total Protection Protect Your Computer ?

McAfee Total Protection protects your family and entire network of PCs from viruses, spyware, hackers, identity thieves, and online scammers. Designed to redefine the way in which companies manage security solutions, McAfee Total Protection is the industry’s first and only offering to combine and manage all the elements of a comprehensive system security solution through a single console and agent platform. Accelerated performance and revolutionary Active Protection technology enabling the fastest updates and highest levels of detection against malicious threats. One of the first things you would notice about McAfee Total Protection is the abundance of unique security tools. Without doubt, the antivirus protection is exceptional and the anti-spam considered great.

McAfee Total Protection is hassle-free, all-you-need security ideal for people who are constantly online for communication, shopping, banking, trading or viewing entertainment.

This program was initially code named “Falcon”, which was designed with every imaginable protection. As you can imagine, McAfee Total Protection includes an excellent firewall, along with antivirus protection, anti-spyware, and even protection against unwanted spam. However, this program offers much more such as wireless network protection, network management, parental controls, back up and restoration features, and more.

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McAfee Total Protection is the fi nal word in PC security. Powerful industry-grade spam protection helps keep your inbox free from unwanted, fraudulent, offensive, and phishing emails. Provides you with easy to understand alerts regarding your protection. Alerts you to web sites that may try to steal your identity Identity Protection. Helps you to shop, bank, and trade online safely Two-way Firewall Protection. Automatically saves copies of your most valuable files on a CD/DVD, USB, external, or network drive Protection without Interference. There’s no excuse for not giving your systems the best security available, as the total cost of ownership for McAfee Total Protection is less than half when compared to Symantec and Trend Micro.

An Internet connection is required to install this software and to receive automatic updates and upgrades to keep your security up to date. Lets you easily fix security issues on your home network from one PC. Proactive security for what you value most Unparalleled protection by blending the most sophisticated security technologies available McAfee security service automatically and continually upgrades software and updates threat protection .

With continuous and automatic updates, McAfee helps ensure that you are always running the most current security to combat the ever-evolving threats on the Internet for the duration of your subscription. Together with Anti-Spyware and Adware protection, McAfee Total Protection is even better value than before. No pop-up window blocker or internet security software (such as Norton Internet Security, McAfee Total Protection) is running during the installation. A powerful web site guide and shield, McAfee SiteAdvisor Plus technology helps you to safely search and transact online by providing you with color-coded ratings to warn you about and actually prevent you from visiting risky web sites that can compromise your identity and your PC.

McAfee Total Protection is a single concept with four distinct offerings for customers of all sizes and needs. McAfee Total Protection for enterprise includes anti-virus for all tiers of the network, anti-spyware, anti-spam, desktop firewall, host intrusion prevention and a complete network access control system all managed by a single console.

With continuous and automatic updates, McAfee ensures that you’re running the most current security to combat the ever-evolving threats on the Internet for the duration of your subscription.

McAfee Total Protection for small business builds upon McAfee heritage of delivering security and software-as-a-service, ensuring an always on, always up-to-date, security environment

Detects, blocks, and removes viruses, spyware, adware and rootkits such as W32/Conficker.

The program also removes the additional system modifications some Malware carries out which are ignored by standard antivirus and trojan scanners.

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Microsoft opens own social network, Socl

Microsoft Thursday unveiled Socl, a social network that combines the graphics-heavy interface of Pinterest with Bing search functionality.

Does the world really need another social network?

Microsoft thinks so. The company on Wednesday opened up registration for its new project, the aptly named Socl, to users with Microsoft and Facebook accounts. Socl launched last year but was in beta for Microsoft employees and college students until Wednesday.

#DroidRage stunt brings Microsoft a world of hurt

Socl isn’t exactly a traditional social network. It’s more like Pinterest than Facebook as its landing page is filled with photo collages. (This is a change; the site’s original design was decidedly less image-heavy.) Socl was born from Microsoft Research FUSE Labs’ research into social search for students.

Now, anyone can sign up for the site and find content either generated randomly on Socl’s homepage or do a Bing-powered search by topic. To create a post, you can pull content from other parts of the Web–photos, videos, links, etc.–and the site puts together a collage for you.

You can “riff” or comment on others’ posts and share related links and images. Your profile page is a gallery of the posts you’ve created and the interests and people you follow–no wall posts or 140-character bon mots here.

The emphasis is less on friends than content. If you sign in using your Facebook login information, Socl will find your Facebook friends, but the site encourages you to explore and connect with others based on common interests and posts you like.

Facebook competitor?

Some in the blogosphere have questioned whether Microsoft is trying to compete with Facebook, but Socl isn’t much like Facebook at all. Like Pinterest, Microsoft’s new network seems like a solid way to waste a few hours browsing random photos and links rather than a tool to communicate with friends.

And Microsoft acknowledges Socl’s limitations. On the site’s About page, the company says Socl is not designed to compete with the established social networks, but is instead an “experimental research project with a minimal set of features.”

Microsoft is attempting to create a unified, cross-platform ecosystem that extends across hardware (its Surface tablets) and software (Windows 8) to search engines (Bing) and, now, its own social network. The company is experimenting with viral ad campaigns and Twitter stunts.

But, the question remains: Can the company shed its old-fashioned image and enter a new era in technology governed by touch and social? That answer could hinge on Socl’s success.



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Security firms warn of spreading Windows AutoRun malware

Security firms warn of spreading Windows AutoRun malware

Antivirus vendors are warning customers of a spreading malware that can infect computers through a well-known bug in the Windows AutoRun software used to automatically launch programs on a DVD or USB device.

The significant increase in infection is curious because Windows 7 and Windows 8 PCs will not launch autorun.inf files, and Microsoft has released two patches for older systems. Therefore, security experts believe infections are happening through a combination of unpatched computers, shared folders and files and social media.

WINDOWS 8 UPDATE: Microsoft Surface Pro tablets start at $899, no keyboard

Someone inserting a USB drive or memory stick carrying the malware can infect unpatched PCs. On other systems, an infection can occur once the malware travels to a network share and someone clicks on an infected file or folder. Trend Micro reported that malware was also spreading on Facebook.

Other vendors tracking the malware include McAfee, Symantec and Sophos. While it is interesting that cybercriminals are still exploiting a four-year-old AutoRun bug, Sophos says most corporate PCs are being infected through network sharing.

Clicking the malware on Facebook would certainly open a quick path to a shared folder on a corporate network, said Chester Wisniewski, a senior security adviser for Sophos.

[How to: 10 commandments of Windows security]

“I would say the AutoRun part of it is probably not the source of the majority of infections,” Wisniewski said on Friday. “It’s just an interesting note that [criminals] are still using it. I think spreading through the file shares is probably the primary vector to get people in trouble.”

Microsoft released an AutoRun patch in 2009, a month after the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) issued a warning that Windows 2000, XP and Server 2003 did not properly disable the feature. Microsoft had patched AutoRun a year earlier in Vista and Windows Server 2008.

The infamous Stuxnet malware created an autorun.inf file to infect computers via USB drives. Stuxnet, created jointly in 2009 by U.S. and Israel, reportsA’A The New York Times, damaged Iranian nuclear facilities.

The latest malware disguises itself as files and folders in writeable network shares and removable devices, while hiding the originals. The application will also create .exe files named “porn” and “sexy” and a folder called “passwords,” to entice people to click on them, Sophos said.

The malware adds a registry key, so it can start when a PC is booted up. Variants of the application will disable Windows Update to prevent the victim from downloading patches to disable the malware.

Once a PC is infected, the application follows the typical procedure for such malicious software. It contacts a command-and-control server for instructions and to receive other applications. Malware downloaded include Trojans in the Zeus/Zbot family, which steals online banking credentials, Sophos said

To combat the malware, security experts recommend disabling AutoRun on all Windows operating systems and restricting write permissions to file shares. Depending on the AV vendor, the malware has several names, including W32/VBNA-X, W32/Autorun.worm.aaeb, W32.ChangeUp and WORM_VOBFUS.

The latest outbreak arrives about a year and a half after Microsoft reported big declines in AutoRun infection rates. In the first five months of 2011, the number of AutoRun-related malware detected by Microsoft fell 59% on XP computers and 74% on Vista PCs, compared with 2010.

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