Sunday, September 15, 2013

Microsoft Office 365 / Office 2013 Activation Problems

While Office 2013 has a cloud storage component (today called Skydrive), there are times that subscription payers may receive an error that says
"Sorry, we are having temporary server issues."
Additionally, using a trial version again, on a machine that has experienced this issue, COULD give you a warning that you need to ACTIVATE, but you still cannot activate.

This problem is associated with subscription users of the Office 2013 Home Premium or Office 365 Home Premium.

This product has very poor error messages and informational messages that do not represent the true problem.  Yet, solution to this problem is simple and time consuming.

You need to make sure the computer is connected to a FAST internet connection. With a FAST Internet connection, the removal and installation of this product is time consuming. Expect 30 minutes to remove, and over 45 minutes to install.
You will also need to make sure you are connected to a power line, and that your control panel power saving status (sleep or hybernate) is basically off for non-battery settings.

1. Access your subscription account webpage.

2. Close the current instance of all Office 2013, or Office 365 programs, and make sure the computer is not running any processes in the process tab of the task manager.

3. Go back to the webpage, which should still be logged in to the subscription account information, and go to the ACTIVATION section. DEACTIVATE the particular device that is allocated to the problematic machine.

4. From the control panel - choose the upper left pull-down and change to the option "Small Icons",  the select "Programs and Features", once the entire list displays, click ONCE on the item "Microsoft Office 365 Home Premium" and then choose the button at the top of this list "Uninstall" This will take a while.

5. Once the uninstallation is complete, you can go back to the Office 365 Subscription page, and download the installer using the green Install button. Avoid using the Trial installation download, as well as older downloads from previous attempts. The file that starts the download is very small, but the actual 'streaming' installation process will take a long time. A very long time.

Once installed, you should no longer experience the error, nor that Activation issue.
For more help on technology problems, or security concerns, review our main blog at

Monday, August 12, 2013

Security - More than 700,000 APPs in the Android Market Place (High Risk)

Android Devices Remain Dangerous to the Enterprise and Small Business. Image complements of visnetwork

There is a concept in business IT to stop being "structured" and "uptight" about allowing wireless devices to be a part of a corporate campus. While a Blackberry Server and Blackberry devices were a standard for a long time, newer devices to compete with this network model have brought critics forward to claim the older Blackberry model is pointless and pre-historic.  Yet the design of Blackberry - and its security - has allowed it permission to be a standard in the enterprise. Pundits of this architecture typically have no response to the security aspect of adopting new wireless devices to a business network.  This concept is also known as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and continues to be a hot topic in business. While people want the easy approach of simply buying something at the store and connecting it to a corporate network, the security problems this causes are too vast and dangerous to ignore.
This is reviewed and discussed in this great post at

A recent Trend-Micro report states that over 700,000 apps are likely to steal your personal information.  This is up from 509,000 last QUARTER.

According to the people at Neowin, they highlight findings of the TrendMicro report:
The majority of these malicious apps are disguised as popular apps, but contain malware that could see victims subscribe to costly services. FAKEBANK is a common and prominent malware that does just this. By spoofing "legitimate apps", it creates shortcuts to mobile banking programs. Johnathan Leopando, of Trend Micro, says infected users may then be at risk of entering their banking details into a malicious app.

Additionally, on July 23, 2013, trade magazine Infoworld printed Report: Android Spyware on the Rise discussing a recent Malware investigation report by Kindsight. The report findings review the most popular recent infections, vectors and behaviors:

The malware threat most commonly seen on Android devices was an adware Trojan program called Uapush.A that sends SMS messages and steals information, Kindsight said. Uapush.A was responsible for around 53 percent of the total number of infections detected on Android devices.
The second-most-common Android threat was a Trojan program called QdPlugin, whose primary purpose is to install and control other adware programs. This malware is distributed as repackaged versions of legitimate games and connects to a control server located in the U.S.
A particularly worrying trend is the increase in the number of spyware threats that appear in the top 20, according to Kindsight. Spyware programs can typically record phone calls and text messages; track the phone's location; monitor email, social media and browsing activity; access photos and contact information, and more.
"Until now mobile spyware has been aimed at the consumer market, with the promise of being able to track your loved one's every move through their phone," said Kevin McNamee, security architect and director of Alcatel-Lucent's Kindsight Security Labs, in a blog post Tuesday. "But locating teenagers and a straying spouse are only one part of the story."
"Mobile spyware in the 'Bring Your Own Device' context poses a threat to enterprises because it can be installed surreptitiously on an employee's phone and used for industrial or corporate espionage," McNamee said.

While this is nothing new to discuss and blog about (see titles below), it remains a significant security concern for the businesses we help at Menlo Technical Consulting.

Malware Infections Soar on Android Devices Over Recent Past   3/20/2012  
Android Mobile Devices are Targets for Malware   12/26/2011  
eWeek periodical says more advanced trends for breaches 2012   12/20/2011  
Why Android is Still a Problem in the Enterprise   10/22/2011
Android – Marketplace Apps 400% Spyware Increase   5/13/2011

Interesting Infographics on the topic:
Kaspersky Labs Infographic 1

Kaspersky Labs Infographic 2

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Universities Warned to Protect Their Computer Networks from China

In a July 16, 2013 article, a New York Times article Universities Face a Rising Barrage of Cyberattacks, Stanford University computer networks were attacked by China sources according to the article.  In another article about the same incident, Stanford Probes Breach, As Attacks on Universities Soar.

The attacks have been increasing in sophistication as well as in frequency, often going undetected, which is prompting university officials to reconsider the open nature of their networks.

“A university environment is very different from a corporation or a government agency, because of the kind of openness and free flow of information you’re trying to promote,” David J. Shaw, the chief information security officer at Purdue University, told the Times. “The researchers want to collaborate with others, inside and outside the university, and to share their discoveries.”
Some research universities work with government agencies on classified projects, but even those that don’t, like Stanford, still work on projects that produce patents and other intellectual property used in commercial, medical and academic fields. And intellectual property has become the prime target of many cyberattacks, officials say.

A threat map showing trace lines of where some attacks to the USA originate.
University attacks are gaining momentum and are very insipid.  According to Bill Mellon of the University of Wisconsin:

“We get 90,000 to 100,000 attempts per day, from China alone, to penetrate our system,” said Mr. Mellon, the associate dean for research policy. “There are also a lot from Russia, and recently a lot from Vietnam, but it’s primarily China.”
China and Russian Federation are two most frequent countries where unsolicited attacks come from, as a consensus of many computer security researchers. In today's cyberthreat landscape, universities, small to large businesses  - of all types, as well as non-profits should be most concerned about blocking these Internet traffic sources as much as possible. Today a simple subscription to an annual firewall protection service may be all that is needed to avoid these attacks.  Most institutions do not need to allow Internet traffic from China nor the Russian Federation.

One source of this problem are network capable printers. Another article in How Hackers can Turn the Internet of Things into a Weapon explains, printers can allow easy access to any hacker who has found his or her way past the security of a private computer network.  Such devices have insecure webpages to help maintain things like drum life, toner quantity, number of printed pages, etc. Until businesses who produce these devices improve the security of them, it is very important to immediately alter the security on these devices to prevent the harboring of infections on private computer networks.

To view the daily reporting of attacks over the Internet, stop by dedicated webpage to view statistics of these attacks.  Or consider visiting the threat portal at for their interpretation of current Internet attack trends.