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House Call 2013 — Part 1: Sanitizing a drive

The 2013 House Call series starts with a trip to Florida and a day spent helping Windows Secrets reader Pam Newberry with her PC problems. Coming from the Northeast, I found Sarasota refreshingly warm and green; but fixing Pam’s PCs was a challenge — multiple systems running various versions of Windows, each with different issues.

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Legitimate app breaks popular encryption systems

Conventional wisdom has been that files protected with good encryption can’t be cracked. But a new, $300, wizard-driven app can unlock BitLocker-, PGP-, and TrueCrypt-encrypted files, folders, and drives — no matter how strong a password you’re using.

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Security alert: Remove Java from your browsers

With nearly every news outlet — along with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security — calling for its removal from PCs, who wouldn’t worry about running Java on their computer? Fortunately, there are steps every Windows user can take to lessen the chances of being bitten by a Java exploit.

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A refresher course on Facebook privacy controls

With over a billion active users recording the minutiae of their activities, purchases, travel plans, and other personal information, Facebook is a potential treasure trove for hackers and marketers trolling for data. Facebook’s privacy settings seem to be a constantly moving target, so it’s important to review them from time to time. Here’s what you need to know.

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Let your PC start the new year right!

A little time spent now on preventive maintenance can save hours of PC troubleshooting later — and provide better computing all year long. Use the following steps to give your PC an annual checkup — and ensure it starts 2013 as healthy as possible.

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With Windows 8, “off” isn’t really off

Win8′s default shutoff and startup processes are unlike those of any previous Windows version. Completely shutting Win8 down — or doing a truly cold boot — requires a few extra steps!

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Putting Wi-Fi router’s security to the test

If your Wi-Fi router supports Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) — and most newer home/small-business routers do — it might easily reveal its passwords to a readily available hacking tool. You can use that tool to be 100 percent certain your router isn’t vulnerable to malicious WPS hacking. Here’s how.

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Routers using WPS are intrinsically unsafe

Simple hacker tools can easily sniff out Wi-Fi passwords from routers that have Wi-Fi Protected Setup enabled — quite possibly yours included. Here’s how to protect your network — and even hack your own router to see whether it’s vulnerable.

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How to measure your true Internet speed

Curious about your Internet speed? Most Internet service providers (ISPs) offer some sort of throughput test tool on their sites — just click, and you’ll get a couple of often-impressive numbers. It’s in an ISP’s interest to provide the best speed numbers possible; your actual throughput is probably something quite different.

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Getting a handle on security certificates

We rely on SSL certificates for safe Web surfing and secure online transactions; but how many of us understand the issues surrounding security certs — or those related error messages? Here’s what you need to know about SSL certificates — and how update KB 2661254 helps solve certificate problems.

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