Tuesday, November 29, 2011

ICard.exe–Safe or Threat? Unknown Processes.

Sometimes I prefer to manually roam around different system directories for finding out new stuff, surprises or removing unnecessary files and folders (like those of software that I have already uninstalled, and are still grabbing my system storage). This time I went to my “Temporary folder <Temp>” located on “C:\Users\Administrator\AppData\Local\Temp” and found a few files


and when I tried to delete them manually (they are temporary files required yesterday, right?), I got an error message:


Now, I was worried that an unknown process has invaded my system, and so far, I have never noticed this executable file <ICard.exe> running on my system. I set to explore what is it. I Googled about it ‘www.google.com/search?q=ICard.exe’. It was not enough convincing seeing the search results. Most links were like naming it a threat/virus/spyware without enough information, while showcasing their software products for downloading and maintaining your PC, like some Spyware detector or Registry repairer. It was showing up in the Task Manager as


I immediately dropped into the System32 folder as most of the masquerading processes using strikingly similar names as the legitimate processes of the Operating System or other reputed/genuine software reside there.


Now, as seen, a legitimate file “icardagt.exe” from Microsoft  is present there. See the name carefully. Almost similar, but not exactly same.

More searching, I found that it was the executable file for CE100 Dialer, that dials and connects to the Tata Photon Plus broadband network that I use. Now this sounds like a holy crap.

The inputs I got from the Internet, specially http://www.prevx.com/filenames/3820543327704469073-X1/ICARD.EXE.html, shows icard.exe as a malware, potentially dangerous virus that can shield itself from antivirus programs. I must say that process file names as “icard.exe” are not a standard such as igfxsrvc.exe (Intel Common User Interface) or explorer.exe (Microsoft Windows Explorer), so many software or services can have files with the same name, but they will definitely reside in  different locations.


Gain a knowledge of the basic genuine processes that always run in your PC (asking in technical forums or searching online), as always stressed, education is the first and most important step.


Frequently run your Windows Task Manager in “Administrator” mode, and verify the processes under ‘Processes’ tab.

If you have processes with same names, then the probability is maximum that some malware is executing from your system.

If you have processes with similar names (say, for example, explorer.exe and exploerer.exe, then most probably that exploerer.exe is malicious).

ØØ So always use a genuine and latest antivirus software (with latest definitions) coupled with a system garbage cleaner like IOBit Advanced SystemCare or CCleaner for cleaning your temporary folders, garbage files, repairing your registry, etc.

It is also recommended to use portable malware finder like CaSIR, and sometimes go for free online scan like BitDefender Online Scan.

NB: Deal carefully. If you are not sure, seek further assistance, else you may end up deleting a genuine process file thereby leading to a dysfunctional software or even system crash.

Friday, August 12, 2011

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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Spywares out there! Are you aware?

TechAspire gives you a brief introduction to “spywares”, what they are, where they’re from, what they can do, etc.,.

They mean?

Spywares are typical malwares meant for secretly collecting information about users whose computers they are installed on. Means without your knowledge someone’s monitoring your activities. Sounds serious? Yes!
Most spywares are installed on the users’ computers without their knowledge through piggybacking on desirable software or from the background as in case of Trojan Horses. They are not infectious and this differentiates them from viruses and worms, etc.,. Since Trojan Horses are actively identified by good anti-virus programs like AVG, Avast, McAfee, etc., they are blocked from installing on PCs which have updated anti-virus solutions installed.

Sources include

Most spywares come bundled with those harmless software which users want to install and use. Generally, the installed software will do no harm but that installer undesirably installs the spyware program(s). We give you an example. Sometimes you install some software and after installing, you are prompted to proceed with other downloads. In the installation dialog of some reputed software, you can check or uncheck additional installations. Advanced users normally reject additional unwanted installations. In many cases, visiting specific sites may start unwanted download and install in the background itself. Users may also get lured by online ads and click on them only to be led to download and install. Sometimes, users get frustrated by warning about their PC and are directed to download for solving those issues which are actually misrepresentative and false.


[Image Courtesy: www.CartoonStock.com]


Some effects and behaviors

Spywares may do bad to the end-users’ system or just be a vehicle for ecommerce. Traditionally, spywares referred to software like Keyloggers which were used by users to monitor usage of the system by other users. But with ever evolving technology and techniques, the definition has grabbed eyeballs and one of the most important issues the Internet industry faces today.
Spywares can perform many things in infected computers. We are mentioning just some of them.

  • They can change your browser settings to edit homepage, add toolbars, or redirect traffic.
  • Many of them are responsible for displaying advertisements. They can monitor your Web usage and set cookies to display you relevant advertisements the next time you visit a specific web site.
  • They may display advertisement pop-ups following specific user instructions or periodically.
  • When bundled with backdoors, they can send many of your information, might include personal details as well, to the person who has created it for misuse or illicit distribution against personal gains.
  • Spyware may affect the computers too. They may interrupt network traffic, affect disk usage or run unwanted CPU threads, and even create Operating System problems.
  • Some spyware are so created to bypass detection and may ultimately lead to format and reinstallation of software.



You may not know the names of all of the spyware that could possibly be in your computer. So here is a list of some of the names of spyware programs that you can look out for. The first spyware program is called Cool Web Search; this program takes advantage of Internet Explorer weakness. The Internet Optimizer is another one, this is also known as DyFuCa and this program redirects the Internet Explorer error pages to advertising. 180 Solutions which is now called Zango; this spyware transmits detailed information to advertisers about the web sites which the users have visited.
The Huntbar or aka Wintool aka Adware. Websearch, this is a small group of spyware programs that are passed out by TrafficSyndicate. These types of programs attach it self to Internet Explorer’s tool bars. The last example of spyware is called Movieland; there has been several hundred complaints to the United Stares Federal Trade Commission. The FTC has filed a suit against Movieland and is awaiting the trial.

How to save your system?

Prevention is better than cure. But as spyware remain hidden from users, their cure or repair exists in almost all cases. Yet, prevention is possible.

  • Do not get lured by online ads. Do not click on what you do not require.
  • Write perfect URLs. e.g. If it’s gmali.com in place of gmail.com!
  • Download from trusted websites which scan the hosted files for infections and manipulations like CNET or Brothersoft etc.,.
  • While installing any software, go through all steps carefully and reject all the additional unwanted installations/ downloads.
  • Use updated anti-spyware solutions. All the reputed anti-virus programs have their own anti-spyware component installed, depends on its availability in the version you are using. Check out for fake ones, they account for 14% of all malware.


Common anti-spyware programs

  1. Spybot- Search & Destroy
  2. Ad-Aware SE
  3. Spyware Doctor
  4. Windows Defender
  5. Spyware Terminator
These are specific anti-spyware software but as mentioned earlier, most reputed anti-virus solutions today have their own anti-spyware components and it depends on which version you are using. You need to visit vendor site for genuine details, and not rely on luring ads to prevent encountering crapwares, and maintain your computers. Watch out!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

What Do You Love! All-in-one Google Search

Yes, with Google endeavoring to create, modify, update and again create cutting-edge technologies and services for its clients, we can expect only more from the California based Internet giant, and this time you will find out what do you love. Really!

I just discovered their recent development is what can be seen as neatly organized top search results returned from various popular Google products. This means you can search across all the Google products from one website: http://www.wdyl.com.

Currently, the web site includes displays results from popular tools like Google Blogs, Maps, Earth, YouTube, Groups, Discussion, etc., and in addition you can also perform tasks like search the popularity of the search token with Google Trends, send an email to someone about it from your Gmail account (requires you to be signed in), translate the search string into 57 linguistics, use Calendar, etc..

This means a wholesome search around Google but with Google web search results missing. Below is a screen shot for search string- news international.

Bravo, you can now finish your cup of tea while peeking into what do you really love in a matter of just single web page.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

‘Bing’ your social search with Facebook

Most of you have used Facebook search, and must have seen the search page having profile of searched persons along with web search results from Bing. Well, there is business agreement between their parents: Facebook Inc. and Microsoft Corporation. And now, you have more power in your kitty with Bing web search going social aided by your Facebook account.

How to use?

To use  Bing social search, you’ll have to be logged in to your Facebook account. If you are already logged in, you may directly open up Bing home page at http://www.bing.com  and start exploring social search. Otherwise, you can open up the home page and go to the top right part and click on ‘Sign in’ to sign in with your Facebook credentials.


Remember, your privacy is taken care of very seriously, so you remain tensionless. Only your friends will see what you have liked or shared. Your public Facebook profile information will only appear to people based on your Search for you on Facebook setting on Facebook. For example, if set to Friends of Friends, then only your Facebook friends and friends of friends would be able to find you in Facebook profile search on Bing For a public computer, it is recommended to sign out of your Facebook account after your session is over.

Social search details

Bing embeds in the web search page the resultssearch_liked which have your friends’ likes- news, celebs, activities, etc., and while you search for hot news and topics, you can gain further relevance from your friends’ likes.


Along with these, you can also search for people. Bing social search shows the most relevant people findto you. It gains relevance from your mutual friends. Just type in the person’s name and hit search. Along with the profile pic and number of mutual friends, you have the link to ‘Add as friend’ as well as ‘Send a message’.

Turning off social search

You can disable the feature by clicking on “Disable” in the top-right portion of your first five search pages. After that, you can do it manually by going to ‘Privacy Settings’ in your Facebook account.


Details: http://onlinehelp.microsoft.com/en-us/bing/gg276362.aspx

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Save your doc- unprintable and eco-friendly!


Whoa, an unprintable document! Yes, we have a nice format now. The “.wwf”. The WWF format is an initiative of the WWF Germany in cooperation with Jung von Matt, Hamburg, supported by Dederichs Reinecke & Partner.

Official Website: http://saveaswwf.com/

Facebook Page: http://facebook.com/saveaswwf

The WWF format has an extension “.wwf” that works like a normal PDF document, but without the ability to print it. wwf-splash-icon

According to the founders of the WWF format, every day, entire forests all around in the planet are cut down to make paper, and most of them are used to print documents like books, reports, emails, websites, etc.,. Many printed documents do not constitute the original information requirement, so along with just a few requisite information, mostly unnecessary information also gets through the printer and then on papers, marking a huge wastage of paper. The paper ultimately comes at a compelling and undeniable environmental cost and is a huge loss for present as well as future.

How to use?

1. Download the free software from the official website.

2. Install it and restart your computer.

3. You can open any document in existing formats (.doc, .txt, .pdf, etc.) and select “SAVE AS WWF” option from the Print menu.

4. Now, either print it or save it to your location. [Printing only generates a document which can be saved, not a print command to really print out that document.]

5. The ‘.wwf’ format resembles ‘.pdf’ and can be opened in any PDF reader like Sumatra PDF, Foxit Reader, Adobe Reader, etc..


1. You can convert those documents into ‘.wwf’ format which you think do not deserve an unnecessary print, as it prevents printing. This way you can encourage others you share your documents with.

2. You do not require any extra software for using the ‘.wwf’ format other than the driver. It is compatible with any PDF reader.

3. It is free of cost and promotes sense of responsibility towards environment.


1. Size of each document will be around 231,500 bytes (or 1.852 MB) more in ‘.wwf’ format than in ‘.pdf’ format. The additional size is due to what is explained in point 2.

[For a tiny document I tried, the attributes are as follows:

.txt = 369 bytes;  .pdf = 3,576 bytes;  .wwf = 235,237 bytes]

2. A page that promotes the project with some information and website URL is appended to each of your documents, which seems to be odd and out of standard. Many called it a silly viral marketing. But other way round, it is is good to promote such innovative projects.


Shift your paradigm towards usage of general formats for saving and sharing of documents. Think before you print, a new green file format has arrived: WWF.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Make bootable flash drive to install Windows 7/8 from DVD/ image file

In this tutorial, I am considering that you want to install a (genuine) copy of Microsoft Windows 8/7 or Vista operating system into your computer, be the installation a fresh one or done after formatting the hard disk. Also I assume that the copy of Windows is not corrupt and has all the relevant files in appropriate state.flash_drive

After reading this, you will be able to install Windows 7/ Vista through USB flash drives from image file of the OS and without even requiring DVD drive.

Step 1: What do you require?


> USB Flash Drive (4GB+)
> Microsoft OS Disk or image file(Vista / Windows 7 / Windows 8)
> A computer running Vista / Windows 7 / Windows 8


Step 2: Format the Drive

We are using command line to format the flash drive properly using diskpart utility.

[Important: Formatting will erase all your data in the flash drive.]

> Plug in your USB Flash Drive
> Open command prompt as administrator (Start > All Programs > Accessories > Command Prompt and select “Run as administrator” by right clicking it. )
> Find the drive number of your USB Drive by typing the following into the Command Prompt window:

list disk

The number of your USB drive will listed. You’ll need this for the next step.  I assume, the USB
flash drive is disk 1.
> Format the drive by typing the next instructions into the same window. Replace the number “1” with the number of your disk below.

select disk 1
create partition primary
select partition 1
format fs=NTFS

When that is done you’ll have a formatted USB flash drive ready to be made bootable. You just converted the file format of your USB flash drive from FAT to NTFS.

Step 3: Make the Drive Bootable

Next we’ll use the bootsect utility that comes on the Vista or Windows 7 disk (we have the image file here) to make the flash drive bootable.

> If you have the image file ready, then proceed to next point. Otherwise, insert the OS DVD into your drive, and copy the files to a specific folder that contains no other material. Using an image file processing tool like MagicISO or PowerISO, add those files and save as an image file with “.iso” extension. This is very easy, you can do it seeing the toolbars.

> Now using some image mounting software like MagicISO or PowerISO, mount the Windows 7/ Vista image file in your computer to a virtual drive. The software will make the virtual drive for you. Just carefully note down its drive letter. I’ll assume it to be H:\.

> In the same command window that you were using in Step 2:
Change directory to the Windows image file’s boot directory where bootsect lives:

cd h:\boot

Use bootsect to set the USB as a bootable NTFS drive prepared for a Vista/7 image. I’m assuming that your USB flash drive has been labeled disk G:\ by the computer:

bootsect /nt60 g:

You can now close the command prompt window, we’re done here.

Step 4: Copy the files to the USB drive

The easiest way is to use Windows explorer to copy all of the files in the image file (.iso file) on to the formatted flash drive. You can copy the files from DVD, or the drive with mounted image file or the image file opened in MagicISO/ PowerISO.  After you’ve copied all of the files the disk you are ready to go.

Step 5: Set your BIOS to boot from USB

This is where you’re on your own since every computer is different. Most BIOS’s allow you to hit a key at boot (F12 for example) and select a boot option.

Step 6: Rendering your USB flash drive it’s original state


Okay, now that you are done with installing a nice copy of Windows into your PC through USB flash drive, you can plug in the device and do a full format as you normally do by right-clicking and selecting appropriate options.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Basic Software that will make your PC up and running after a fresh Windows installation


Have you ever wondered what could be the things you’d require to get your PC up and running after a fresh installation of Windows. There’s perpetual list of software that meet your daily and future computing requirements. Well, I have compiled a list of a few software products to make it easy for you. I personally advocate open-sourcing, so I have also had a mention of open-source alternatives that are great.

The most essential software that you need are:
Computer Desk
1. An office suite (MS Office 2003/2007/10 or OpenOffice [Open source])
2. Media players (VLC [Open source])
3. Web-browsers (Mozilla Firefox [Open source], Google Chrome)
4. File compressor/de-compressor (7-Zip [Open source], WinZip, WinRar)
5. PDF reader (Adobe Reader, Sumatra PDF [Open source])
6. Flash and browser plugins for internet applications and video (Adobe: AIR, Flash Player, Shockwave Player)
7. Photo editing/organizing (List in external site)
8. Disc burners (InfraRecorder [Open source], CDBurnerXP, Nero Burning ROM)
9. Peer-to-peer file-sharing: Ares [Open source], µTorrent
10. Anti-malwares to clean-up and protect your PC from security threats. Various products are the in the online market place. Generally, a good premium anti-virus product comes bundled with a lots of features including anti-virus, anti-spyware, online protection, and firewall, some of the big names I know are listed below:
Anti-virus: AVG, Avast, Avira, ESET NOD32/Smart Security, McAfee, Norton.
Anti-spyware: Spybot- Search & Destroy!, Malwarebytes
Firewall: List in external site
11. System maintenance/optimization: CCleaner, Advanced SystemCare.

I personally employ the following to protect my system so that I can have peace in dealing with my own computations (..whew)!
AVG Internet Security 2011, Spybot-S&D, CCleaner, Advanced SystemCare Pro

Now enjoy your freshly installed Windows. Apart from the top 10 basic requirements, you may need more software for meeting up your requirements. The list is unceasing, as I said.


1. It is highly recommended that only one anti-virus and firewall solution is used in a system, as they use similar system resources and may lead to system crash and/or malfunctioning otherwise.
2. There is no harm in bundling them with one or two additional anti-spyware solutions.
3. Kindly read consumer reviews in different forums before you purchase. The above are my personal views and experiences.
4. Buy Original and Genuine products from genuine web stores.
5. The open-source software products mentioned above are simply decent, and will meet most of your requirements.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sniffing/Spoofing, DOS/DDOS, Hacker/Cracker- A Briefing

Hello, not long since my last post, I am glad to welcome you yet again. This time my friend at college encountered some terminology and wanted me to clarify as he emailed me the following terms. I had an idea about them, and so I decided to put them here, as they can be universally accessed here by anybody who just needs the overview. Every term is succeeded by an “External Link” for further reading.


1. Ethical Hacking: Ethical Hacking means that a computer security expert or analyst attacks a security system on behalf of its owners to find out vulnerabilities, that a malicious hacker could exploit. When the term "ethical" is used, it means that the hacking is done by an attacker on behalf of the owner of the system, and it is legal.

External Link: Read more

Social Engineering: This include those acts that manipulate or befool people (users) in divulging their confidential information to the attackers, without any technical tempering. For example, a rouge email into your inbox might say that you have won a lottery, and may seek your personal information like credit card details, phone numbers, addresses, etc. Most common examples also include phishing websites that sham to be genuine portals or web stores, and gain access to you credit card details.
The attacker dos not applies any technical skill, and is not even bothered about victim’s system, and in most cases, might not even come face-to-face with the victim.
e.g. (i) Pretexting, (ii) Phishing, (iii) Phone-phishing or IVR (Interactive Voice Response), (iv) Diversion Theft, (v) Baiting (Trojan Horse), etc.

External Link: Read more

Network Security Fundamentals: These are the concepts that are designed to provide a network administrator with awareness to various security related issues, and help them to implement essential measures to deploy security in a given network and manage it. Typical concepts are authentication, firewall enforcing policies on what services and how the network is accessed, implementation of anti-malwares (anti-virus, anti-spam software), Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) etc.

External Link Read more

2. System Threat Attacks- Denial Of Service (DOS) or Distributed Denial Of Service (DDOS): They include attempts to make any computer resource unavailable to its intended users, or legitimate users. That means service to legitimate users is denied. It is generally implemented by persons manually or with the help of bots, and which prevents an Internet site or service function inefficiently, or temporarily, or up to an indefinite period. One common method is to blast a phantom traffic to any target machine so that it responds slowly or even fails to respond to its legitimate traffic, and this can be achieved by consuming as much of the computer resources as possible, or by obstruction the communication channel. Other ways might include disrupting system states, blocking of communication channels partly or fully, distorting configuration, etc. More common victims include reputed banks' servers, online payment channels, etc.

External Link Read more

3. Sniffing and Spoofing: Sniffing and spoofing are two threats that target the lower layers of the networking infrastructure supporting application using the Internet. Generally, the users do not interact directly with these low layers, and typically are unaware of the lower layers, or even that they exist.

Sniffing is the use of a network interface to receive data not intended for the machine in which the interface resides. It is a passive security attack that reads data from the network, there is no deception in this case, unlike spoofing. They are of great use to network administrators, as they provide them with a great deal on information regarding data and its flow in the network. But their availability in the common market place means that they are also in the hands of malicious users, who can sniff out confidential data from the network. e.g. Network Analyzers, Token Bridges, etc.

Spoofing is an active security attack in which one machine masquerades as another (different) machine on the network, and may involve in disrupting the data flow, or inject data into the link. This masquer aims to fool other machines on the communication network to accept it as a genuine machine on the network, and try to lure the other machines into sending it intended data, or allow it to alter the data. Some network security attacks use sniffing as a prelude to spoofing, as sniffing can gather sufficient early information.

External Link: Read more

4. Web-based Password Capturing: If the attacker can’t guess your password by hit-&-trial methods, then there are tools available in various types to do the job. In broadcast networks, sniffers may be employed to look at the messages not intended for them. The phishing websites are too dangerous as they can purportedly grab your personal details if you are unaware of their malicious status. Typical tools like screen-loggers and key-loggers are also commonly used in individual systems, and are passed on with sham software products (genuine software after modification) as Trojan Horses, that remain hidden from the user until alerted by the anti-malware products installed. The screen-loggers have the capability to capture whatever is displayed on the screen, while the key-loggers are able to capture whatever keys are pressed on your keyboard. The affected software products also have a backdoor provisioned by the attacker to gain access to gathered data. There are various types of tools, and strategies available.

External Link 1, External Link 2: Read More

5. Hackers and Crackers: There are lots of definitions rolling the Internet, and you will find them contrasting too in many of the cases. The following definitions are after my analysis and personal sense only.

Hackers are those advanced users who are necessarily not great programmers. They analyze the software or system, test, and discover a broad range of possible options to find exploits, vulnerabilities, and might try to fix the flaws or use them to their gains. Hackers may accidentally find technical holes also.

Crackers are those persons who are comfortable with programming up to certain level, generally, and like to debug the software at the assembly level. They dissect the code, fix issues as desired or they may encounter, and then may even reassemble it. They have a proper understanding of the computer system and the technology, and they apply various techniques. The most common example include bypassing License Keys of various software products.

They have a collaboration. If the hacker can not get around a software, then he needs a cracker, although the hacker bears the responsibility for fixing goals.

External Link 1, External Link 2: Read More

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Do you know whether recipient has read your e-mail?

Hello guys. Have you ever wondered if the electronic mail (email) sent by you has been read or not? Well, the answer generally is you have wondered but could not find the answer. Without any specific commands and other tools, you can not normally say that the email sent by you to someone has been read or not.

Spypig (www.spypig.com) is a simple, free online service that lets you know exactly that. Most importantly, it is so easy to deal with and does not needs any registration. Open up the web site.


Step 1: Enter your own email address (the sender’s email ID).

Step 2: The title of the message

Step 3: Select any image of your choice. This will go along with the message.

Step 4: Create your tracker. Click on to create your “SpyPig”.

Step 5: Copy the image from here, and paste it in your message. For specific browsers, instruction are provided as label under the step.

Step 6: Send your email as usual, sit back and enjoy for you are now able to track whether that has been read or not.


For geeks, stay tuned up. I will bring a more interesting set of commands to do that.