Oct 30

Many of us now have a personal Gmail address. If you’re lucky, you’ll already have and treasure your firstname.surname@gmail.com and you may like to limit its exposure to prevent too much spam, and junk in your email inbox. Admittedly, Gmail has very good filters to cut this out, but let’s face it, you may possibly have this email address for another 40 or 50 years if you’re in your 20’s and if email still continues to be a serious form of communication in the future. So it’s perhaps worth being a little careful with just who gets that address. In addition, there are increasing concerns about the safety of personal information on Android devices.

Here’s what worried me. Within minutes of getting an Android phone, your personal Gmail address is soon firmly entrenched in it as you log into your Gmail account and download apps from Google Play. You’re probably even searching for apps on your desktop and sending them straight to your phone through your Gmail account. Do the app developers get access to your Gmail address or does Google keep that secret from them?

Well, my first encounter with Gmail address leakage was with Shazam, an app to try to identify music. Soon after installing this app, I received a welcome Gmail from them which worried me. I read the permissions for Shazam but this said nothing about access to my Gmail address. However, after I asked the question on Reddit, someone put me right and pointed out that I had probably rushed through setup and hadn’t read the install screens correctly. So I uninstalled Shazam then reinstalled it taking more care this time. This is what I missed first time round:

Shazam sign up

Should have pressed Skip first time round, not Next.

Okay, but the next reply to my question on Reddit was from an app developer:

When someone purchases one of my apps, I can see an email address in Google checkout, together with an email marketing flag (which presumably they set when entering payment details the first time). Nb I never send emails using this info.

So to protect my personal Gmail address, I guess the best approach might be to get a new Gmail address just for Android app installations. And read the setup screens carefully.

Any thoughts on all this?

Oct 23

JD Auto Speed Tester is a free utility to monitor your internet connection speed. Last week, I posted about some problems I was having with the program being flagged as a trojan by MalwareBytes AntiMalware. Well it turned out that was a false positive and this is being rectified by MalwareBytes in an update. I have since reinstalled the program as it gives some really useful data on your internet connection speed. It is set up by default to measure upload and download speeds every 60 minutes but you can change that on the main screen under Cycle Time.

I won’t go into the workings of the program which have been well covered in Martin’s post on JD Auto Speed Tester. Just one point to note though – the program automatically displays the data as a neat graph and listing. Once you have been viewing the graph, click Send to Tray not Close, otherwise the program will not reload to memory and will stop monitoring your connection.

Broadband speed4

I’ve shown the graph of a typical weekday between the red lines and the actual data are highlighted in pale green to the left of the graph. There are data right through from around 9am to about 11pm. During the day, I’m getting typical download speeds of around 6.5 Mb/s until around 7.30pm on weekdays. The speed then drops to around 1.5 Mb/s until about 10-11pm and then starts to pick up again. I’ve also found that speeds are generally slower throughout the weekend. I guess all this isn’t very surprising and I think most people would see a similar daily pattern with lower download speeds in the evening as everyone tries to get on the net and stream/download. At the same time, the servers are seeing higher demand to access the files for streaming and this adds to the slowdown. From reading around, the general rule of thumb seems to be that at least 2Mb/s download speed is required for smooth streaming of video. My connection falls below this in the evening period which explains why my Boxee Box doesn’t always stream well then.

Looks like the best plan of action for me, or indeed anyone freelancing from home is perhaps to watch movies, etc on weekday mornings when download speeds are better and then work on into the evening instead!

Oct 16

From a recommendation in a blog I trust, I installed JD Auto Speed Tester recently, to perform regular checks on my internet connection speed. I’ll blog about the results from that program in another post but before I do, while running my weekly maintenance routine, I ran into a problem as Malwarebytes Anti-Malware labelled some files in the Auto Speed Tester folder as a Trojans.

JDAST warning

So I quarantined the files, then uninstalled JD Auto Speed Tester immediately. I then reran Malwarebytes and my system came up clean. But what if this program was just giving a false positive and wasn’t really malware? Well, I set about trying to find out.

Is it malware?

I first scanned the downloaded installer file JDast_installer.exe from where I had installed the program. Right click on the program and in the context menu, you should see some entries starting ‘Scan with…’ depending on what antimalware you have installed. I have Microsoft Security Essentials, SUPERAntiSpyware and Malwarebytes Anti-Malware installed and when I scanned the installer file, all three didn’t report any problems.

I then tried a Google search to see if anyone else had a problem with the program – I tried the search jdautospeedtester trojan and quickly found that my question was answered on the program’s website. Here’s what they said:

Some antivirus software may detect this software as a Trojan/Virus/Malware, this is just a false positive. Rest assured with the fact there are no viruses/trojans/malware etc or anything else of this nature. False positives happen because I programmed most of JDast with AutoIt which often does cause this problem. For this reason, I’ve added an alternative ZIP download which can cure the false positive problem when downloading the installation file, this does not help if you are getting a virus warning whilst installing or running JDast.

They go on to say:

As soon as I release a new version of JDast I initiate a white-listing procedure with AVG, McAfee, Symantec, Eset and a few others. It does take quite a while for them to complete their testing and to white-list JDast.
I would do the white-listing before I upload the new versions but unfortunately these companies need to be able to see and download JDast from the web site that it will be available to the public on, so I have to upload it before I can get it white-listed.

So that’s reassuring. I’ve reinstalled the program again as it’s pretty useful. I’ve rechecked the JDAST folder where the program is installed and Malwarebytes still reports the trojans, but SUPERAntiSpyware and Microsoft Security Essentials do not. I also tried some suggestions in Techsupport Alert’s post How to Tell if a File is Malicious. I uploaded jdautospeedtester.exe to Comodo Valkyrie and Virus Total. Comodo reported the file was normal while only 1 in 41 antivirus scanners in Virus Total reported a trojan.

I contacted Malwarebytes to let them know it’s probably a false positive.  They quickly agreed and will fix this in their next update. I hope my experience has given you some ideas how to go about checking out if a program is malware or not. If you have any more suggestions, please drop a comment below.

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