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All computers have malicious software on them, including yours.

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Cyber-space is the lawless Wild West again, and hackers are breaching the most secure servers including those at banks and energy companies.

Cyber-security products such as Norton, Microsoft Security Essentials, and McAfee used to prevent hackers from downloading viruses, key loggers, Trojan horses, and worms onto their customer's computers. Not anymore. Hackers have found ways to bypass them. Now their malicious software exists on customers' networks instead of on their computers, and they also hijack the customers' browsers such as Google.

There is a key logger/ad-ware called IucoeValidi 5.3 ("IcoValid") which hijacks Google Chrome and downloads itself onto users' computers. To find it, click on Google Chrome and let it open. Go to the far right upper corner. There's an icon that is three horizontal lines. Click on it. A pull down menu will appear. Click on "History." After it opens, look in the left column for "Extensions." The key logger will be there under the name IucoeValidi 5.3. It has an unusual ID number which is: kmbcnjcjkihhpbnpbjniflcdplpfoodd. Underneath that is a note that says the following: "(This extension is managed and cannot be removed or disabled.)"

Beneath the name IucoeValidi there is a blue link called "Permissions." Click on it. It says that the program manages your apps, extensions and themes. It accesses your data on all websites (including your passwords). It also accesses your browsing activity and tabs.

The malicious hacker who created "IcoValid" set up a fake "Help Desk" on the Zendesk platform. When victims contact "customer service", a fake representative tells them that it's their own fault that they have IcoValid on their computer because they downloaded it deliberately. Obviously that's a blatant lie; no one would ever choose to have IcoValid on their computer, as it creates constant pop-ups on every website that one visits, and the ads are extremely distracting. Sometimes they flash like strobe lights in extremely bright fluorescent colors. Only a malicious hacker would put it there. It's hard to get rid of, too. The free trial anti-malware offered by Malwarebytes does not remove it. So far, it appears that there's only one way to get rid of it which is to do a factory reset. It removes every program, every picture, and every piece of information that has been added to the computer since it left the factory.

The so-called "Help Desk" tells victims that they can uninstall IcoValid from their computers by themselves by removing it from their list of programs. That's a lie, for the reasons that I explained earlier.

Most people know that cell phone networks have weak security. Please do not use your cell phone to make credit card payments. In San Francisco many of the parking meters accept credit card payments via cell phone. It's tempting to do it when one needs parking and doesn't have quarters to put in the meter, but please don't, or use a secondary bank account that has very little money in it.

It would be wise to have a secondary bank account for internet transactions. Don't use your real checking account that has a lot of money in it to pay your bills online.

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