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TECHNOLOGY Q&A
InPrivate browsing  
By J. Carlton Collins, CPA
August 2012

Q: I prefer to browse the internet using Internet Explorer’s InPrivate Browsing mode to better protect my computer, but I find it time-consuming to constantly switch to this mode. Is there a way to make InPrivate Browsing my default setting?

A: As you mentioned, Microsoft Internet Explorer offers InPrivate Browsing, which better protects your privacy by preventing your computer from saving browsing history, temporary internet files, form data, cookies, usernames, and passwords. To open an InPrivate Browsing window, select InPrivate Browsing from the Safety menu on the Internet Explorer browser’s Command Bar (or press Ctrl+Shift+P), and then click the InPrivate Browsing option near the bottom of each new browsing tab window.

To launch an InPrivate Browsing session by clicking a hyperlink within an email, Word or Excel document, or PDF file, etc., you need to make InPrivate your default setting. To do this, download the file ie8-inpriv-context.zip, unzip and extract its contents to a folder, then double-click the file inprivate-context.reg to run the tweak. This action edits the registry so that, thereafter, Internet Explorer will always launch using InPrivate mode as a default. To undo this change, run the file undo.reg included in the zip file.

Note 1: As another option, you could also download TweakIE9 (free), which provides tools for making InPrivate Browsing the default setting.

Private Browsing Using Google Chrome

The Google Chrome browser also provides private browsing, called Incognito mode. Launch Chrome in this mode by default, as follows:

1. Create a Google Chrome shortcut on your desktop by right-click dragging the Chrome icon to your desktop and selecting Create shortcuts here from the pop-up menu.

2. Rename the shortcut to Chrome Private Browsing.

3. Right-click the shortcut and select Properties.

4. In the Shortcut tab’s Target field, add -incognito to the end of the program path (as pictured in the next column). (Note: Make sure there is a space before the hyphen).

Thereafter, clicking this icon will launch Chrome in Incognito mode.

Private Browsing Using Mozilla Firefox

Mozilla’s Firefox browser also offers private browsing. To make this your default setting:

1. From the Firefox browser, select Tools, Options.

2. Click the Privacy menu option and, from the Firefox will dropdown box, select Use custom settings for history.

3. Check the box labeled Automatically start Firefox in a private browsing session, and then click OK.

4. Restart your browser. Thereafter, Firefox will always launch in privacy mode.


TECHNOLOGY Q&A
Hide and link  
By J. Carlton Collins, CPA
August 2012

Q: When I open a file that contains external links, Excel 2007 asks whether I want to update those links. Sometimes Excel is unable to update a link and, in this case, I would like to delete the link formula. However, the dialog box does not indicate the worksheet or cell reference that contains the faulty link. My solution is to scan each worksheet for link formulas in Show Formulas mode, but is there a quicker way to identify link formulas?

A: Clicking the Edit Links tool in the Connections group on the Data tab displays a list of external link sources, which is a quick method to confirm that your workbook contains links. However, this tool does not indicate the specific worksheets or cells, and Excel does not provide an easy way to pinpoint the location of formulas containing external links, but there is a solution. Because external link formulas always include brackets ([ and ]) to encapsulate the source file name (e.g., =SUM([Budget. xls]Annual!C10:C25), you can locate external links by searching for formulas that contain a bracket symbol ([), as follows:

1. On the Home tab, click Find & Select from the Editing group, and then select Find.

2. Click the Options button to display extra options.

3. In the Find what box, enter [ (the bracket symbol).

4. In the Within box, select Workbook.

5. In the Look In box, select Formulas.

6. Click the Find All button.

7. A list of all external link formulas will be displayed at the bottom of the Find and Replace dialog box (as pictured), and clicking on any list entry will move your cursor to that link’s cell location.


TECHNOLOGY Q&A
Gridlock  
By J. Carlton Collins, CPA
August 2012

Q: Help! I upgraded from Excel 2003 to Excel 2010 because I thought that Excel 2010 provided a larger worksheet grid, but I find that Excel 2010 provides the same 65,536 rows that I had before. I’ve looked for an option for displaying additional rows, but I can’t find one. Is it possible to add more rows to Excel 2010 and, if so, how is this done?

A: I am fairly certain that the problem is that you have opened one of your old .xls workbooks, and by default, Excel opens these older workbooks in compatibility mode, which displays only 65,536 rows. To solve this problem, save your workbook using the newer Excel Workbook (.xlsx) format, as follows. From the File tab, select Save As and select Excel Workbook (*.xlsx) from the Save as type dropdown options box, then click the Save button.

Excel 2010 and Excel 2007 each provide 1,048,576 rows and 16,384 columns (compared with only 65,536 rows and 256 columns in Excel 2003), which equates to 17.1 billion cells per worksheet.

Note: Compatibility mode is useful for those Excel 2010 and 2007 users who share workbooks with Excel 2003 users. You can convert any Excel 2010 or 2007 workbook to the older Excel 2003 (.xls) format, but doing so truncates the extra rows and columns (and any data contained therein) and deletes other file attributes such as presentation quality formatting.


TECHNOLOGY Q&A
Windows 7 & Vista logo key shortcuts  
By J. Carlton Collins, CPA
August 2012

The following Windows 7 and Vista logo key shortcuts generally apply to Explorer windows, application windows, and browser windows:


TECHNOLOGY Q&A
Key threat  
By J. Carlton Collins, CPA
August 2012

Q: My colleague says keylogging malware represents a significant security threat. Do you agree, and, if so, how can we minimize this type of threat?

A: I agree with your colleague. Keylogging spyware can be a serious security threat that is difficult to combat and often goes undetected by popular anti-virus programs. While it’s extremely difficult for hackers to penetrate an operating system’s security, an application’s password protection, or a network’s firewall, it’s much easier to capture a computer’s keystrokes. If hackers can gain physical access to your computer, or trick you into installing a keylogger application, they can simply watch what you type until you reveal usernames and passwords, or other sensitive information.

A keylogger is a type of spyware that generally comes in one of two forms—physical devices and software code. In essence, keyloggers are hacking tools that reside on your computer and record your keystrokes at the keyboard level. Once captured, your keystrokes are either saved to a file on your computer, sent to the recipient via email, or published to an obscure website. Hackers then can use this information to identify your passwords, breach your applications and accounts, and perhaps hijack your identity.

Keyloggers are widely available and are sometimes advertised as tools for monitoring your employees’ or children’s computer activities. For example, WebWatcher (webwatchernow.com) offers a keylogging program for $97. In some cases, divorce attorneys provide their clients with keylogging software and instructions, enabling their clients to spy on their spouses.

Some of the first keyloggers were small, cylinder-shaped devices that fit between your computer and keyboard cable. These devices record the users’ keystrokes on the devices’ built-in memory chip. To use this type of device, a hacker needs physical access to your computer (for only a few seconds) to plug in the device. The hacker then can wait a few days and retrieve the device containing the captured keystrokes. Even upon close inspection, physical device keyloggers evade the notice of many computer users. As a result, it’s easy for users to be unaware that their keystrokes are being monitored, recorded, or stolen. Examples of serial and USB-style keylogger devices are pictured below.

Keyloggers can come in other forms as well. For example, you might receive a free USB drive that seems to work perfectly, but you may be unaware that an onboard keylogger program is secretly spying on your keystrokes. Reportedly, some hackers leave perfectly good USB drives containing stealth keylogging software lying around in the hopes that the finder will use the drive and unknowingly reveal his or her login information.

Knowledge of keylogging devices might make you more diligent in examining your computer cables, but this type of prevention might not be good enough. With today’s software-based keyloggers, you unknowingly can install one on your computer by opening a malicious email, browsing an infected webpage or updating a driver from a questionable source. Because keyloggers operate quietly and typically do not harm your computer directly, most users are unaware they are being spied on in this manner. If you are concerned about the threat of keyloggers, here are a few measures for combating this type of threat.

1. Security/virus protection software. This measure should be obvious, but running a current security and anti-virus program is crucial. Further, because many of the free versions of antivirus programs don’t check for keyloggers, it may be prudent to pay for the higher-end version of your security/anti-virus program to ensure maximum protection.

2. Patches and updates. Make sure to install the latest patches and updates to your operating system and applications within the first few days of each month. (The timing is important because research suggests that hackers sometimes exploit vulnerabilities revealed by updates as quickly as within 14 days.)

3. Check for unknown devices. Inspect your computer periodically to make sure that all attached devices are valid. Make sure to check your USB port, SD card slot, and other ports for suspicious devices.

4. Lock your USB ports. Install port protection, such as the free USB Port Locked, to prevent unauthorized access to your computer’s external ports. After installing this type of solution, you will need to enter the correct password (one time only) to authorize each new USB drive you use.

5. Use a virtual keyboard to enter passwords. Some users install and use a virtual keyboard to enter their login and password information. With this type of software, a graphical keyboard is displayed on-screen, and you use your mouse to enter your more sensitive information. These types of mouse-based keystrokes are not typically captured by keyloggers. Many free virtual keyboards are available, such as Virtual Keyboard, pictured below.

6. Install anti-keylogging software. Numerous keylogging prevention programs on the market use a variety of approaches to detect or prevent keylogging. For example, Anti-Keylogger (anti-keyloggers.com) (about $28) and SpyShelter’s Stop-Logger (spyshelter.com) (about $31) both test for keylogging activity and prevent keystroke capture. Other such programs generate random keystrokes between actual keystrokes in an attempt to disguise information that might be captured by keyloggers.


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