Computer Tips

Threat Spotlight: Follow the Bad Rabbit

On October 24, 2017, Cisco Talos was alerted to a widescale ransomware campaign affecting organizations across eastern Europe and Russia. As was the case in previous situations, we quickly mobilized to assess the situation and ensure that customers remain protected from this and other threats as they emerge across the threat landscape.

There have been several large scale ransomware campaigns over the last several months. This appears to have some similarities to Nyetya in that it is also based on Petya ransomware. Major portions of the code appear to have been rewritten. The distribution does not appear to have the sophistication of the supply chain attacks we have seen recently.

Read more

Installing macOS or OS X: What to do when ‘the installer payload failed signature check’ or ‘this copy of the install OS X application cannot be verified’

If you encounter an error when trying to install a fresh operating system, it could be a problem with the date and time.

The other day a co-worker needed to borrow a Mac, so I grabbed an older MacBook Air from storage. I decided to wipe out the laptop’s flash storage and install a fresh version of OS X. I created a bootable USB flash drive installer, plugged it into the laptop, pressed the Option key as the machine booted, and then selected the USB drive as the boot disk.

I then ran Disk Utility to reformat the drive and then ran the installer to install OS X. It looked like things were moving along, until this appeared on the screen.

osx boot install error
Error message while trying to install OS X El Capitan from a USB installation disk.

installer payload fail sierra
Error message while trying to install macOS Sierra from a USB installation disk.

I created another boot disk using a different storage drive, in case it was a hardware problem, but I got the same error. I figured that the fact that the laptop had been in storage for a while had something to do with it, and it did.

Note: This fix should work with OS X Mavericks and El Capitan. It also worked for me with macOS Sierra, which shows a different error message (“The installer payload failed signature check” pops up near the end of the installation) than the one that appears for El Capitan and Mavericks.

How to fix the problem

The installer checks the date on the computer. If the date isn’t current, you get the error above. The fix involves correcting the date on your Mac.

If you have an older OS on the Mac

If you have a complete OS on the Mac already, boot into it. Fix the date in the Date & Time system preference (Apple menu > System Preferences). Reboot using the USB boot disk, and you should be able to proceed with the installation.

If you don’t have an OS on the Mac

If you are in a situation like I was, and you don’t have a complete OS on your disk (you reformatted it), you’ll find that there’s no way to access the Date & Time system preference when you use an external USB boot installer drive. The Apple menu doesn’t give you access to System Preferences. You have to use the Terminal to set the date and time.

osx boot install error terminal
How to access the Terminal when you boot from an external boot drive installer.

If you use an external boot disk, you Mac starts up into OS X Disk Utilities. You can access the Terminal by clicking on the Utilities menu and selecting Terminal. Once the Terminal has launched, follow these steps.

    1. At the prompt, type date to see the date that’s on the Mac. For example, here’s the date of the MacBook Air I worked on.
  1. If your Mac is connected to the internet, you can tell your Mac to check online for the current date and time. You can do this by typing at the prompt ntpdate -u and then pressing Return.
osx boot install error terminal set date auto

Your Mac should now have the current date and time. If you enter date again (as I did in the screenshot above) the information that appears will be current. You can now run the OS installer.

If you don’t have an internet connection

You can still use Terminal to set the date. Go into the Terminal as described above, then follow these steps.

    1. At the prompt, type date to see the date that’s on the Mac.
    2. Figure out the numerical representation of the date and time. The pattern you need to follow:
      • Month: in two-digit format. For example, July is 07.
      • Day: in two-digit format. For example, the 19th is 19. Another example: the 7th is 07.
      • Time: in military format of hours and minutes. For example, 2:00 p.m. is 1400.
      • Year: Last two digits.

In my example, the numerical representation is 0719140016. This stands for July (07) 19, (19), 2 p.m. (1400), 2016 (16).

  1. At the prompt, type date [numerical], with [numerical] being the representation you figured out. In my example, I typed date 0719140016. Then press Return.
osx boot install error terminal set date manual

The date should be set. You can check the date again by typing date at the prompt. You can now run the installer.

SSD, HDD, SSHD: What’s the Difference?

When it comes to performance, nothing beats a laptop storage drive upgrade. But, choosing a drive isn’t as simple as it once was. Today, there are three basic options to select from including SSD, SSHD, and HDD. What’s the difference? Here’s a comparison guide of all three types.

SSDs are considered the most durable drive type. Because these drives are solid state, they do not have any moving parts. The absence of moving parts means that you can drop, shake, and put SSDs to temperature tests without damaging the drive (within reasonable limits).

SSD designs are also the thinnest and lightest, making these drives great for lighter PCs. When it comes to multitasking, SSDs are also the best performing drives available, though they are not cheap. High capacity SSD options are often out of reach monetarily, which is why lower capacity drives are often chosen.

HDD Drives

Without argument, HDD drives can store more data and outperform SSD or SSHD drives. Typically, HDD drives are available in 7mm and 9.5mm formats, which makes them bigger than a SDD drive. HDDs do provide good performance marks for most PCs on the market, though they do have moving parts, and this makes the HDD option less durable than a SSD choice.

SSHD Drives

If you combined a SSD with a HDD drive, the outcome would be a SSHD drive. Literally, ‘SSHD’ stands for ‘Solid State Hybrid Drive,’ and that’s just what it happens to be. This hybrid drive combines both moveable and immovable parts, so it’s sturdier than a HDD drive and slightly less sturdy than a SSD drive – but much more affordable.

SSHD drives will ramp up your system’s performance (depending on which one you choose), and you will notice a difference where things like restart, sleep, and overall speed go. Next to SSD drives, SSHD drives are the most power-efficient option, so this is also something to keep in mind.

Overall Conclusions

When it comes to failure rates, all three drive types easily compare. Lately, many people prefer the SSHD option, though, because it does combine the best of both worlds (uses both HDD and SSD features, separately). In most cases, the thing to think about when choosing a drive type is cost-effectiveness.

You want to get as much “bang for your buck” as you can when buying a drive because drives aren’t cheap. In this reviewer’s opinion, the SSHD option is the best choice, since it is the most cost-effective option; combines both HDD and SSD options; and is slim enough to fit into your shirt pocket.

Right now, Seagate and Toshiba both offer SSHD options that are affordable and perform well. When choosing between the two, Seagate’s SSHD choices are more affordable, though they offer performance levels that are nearly the same as what Toshiba has come up with. There are other options on the market, though these two companies provide the best SSHD choices at the time of this writing. Questions? Comments? Just ask.

Outlook 2010: How to Save or Remove Emails from the Server

In this article we will cover how to configure Outlook 2010 to save/remove emails on the server when using POP3 after downloading them to Outlook.

This article ONLY applies to POP3 connection types.

1) Open Outlook

2) Click File

3) Click the Account Settings button

4) Select the Account Settings button from the drop-down

5) Double click on the email you wish to edit.

6) Click the More Settings button

7) Click the Advanced tab

8) If you wish to keep the email on the server, click Leave a copy of messages on the server

9) If you wish to automatically delete them from the server after a cretin time period, click Remove from server after, then pick the number of days you wish to keep them.

Please note that removing emails from the server does NOT remove them from your outlook. However, you will no longer be able to download them again in the future. Make sure you backup any email you wish to keep if you need to re-install outlook for some reason.

You can also automaticly remove them from the server when you delete the message in outlook by clicking Remove from server when deleted from Deleted Items 

That’s it! You now know how to keep/remove emails from the server after you have downloaded them to outlook.

If you are still having issue, please open a support ticket under:

Outlook 2010: 503 valid RCPT command must precede DATA error

The Reader’s Question:

Dear InetDaemon,

Why do I get a “503 Valid RCPT command must precede DATA” message when I send to some people?


The Error Message

This mail message is sent to you automatically by the mail server.  It most often happens when you are sending to someone who doesn’t use the same mail provider you use.  The mail server will automatically send you this notification when you have not configured Outlook to send your login information to the server before sending e-mail.  The body of the notification email will have a message that looks something like this:

FROM:  System Administrator
TO:    InetDaemon
Subject:   Undeliverable:  Test Message

Your message did not reach some or all of the intended recipients.
      Subject:    Test Message
      Sent: 6/2/2012 7:38 AM
The following recipient(s) cannot be reached:
      <address@domain.tld> on 6/2/2012 7:38 AM
             503 Valid RCPT command must precede DATA

Why It Happens

Responsible email providers will require you to configure Outlook to log in to their server before sending e-mail to restrict the ability to send mail from their servers to just their own customers.  This helps block spam by preventing anyone who doesn’t have a login from sending an e-mail from that server.  Your mail service provider requires that you verify your account information before downloading mail (via IMAP or POP3), and they also require it before sending mail via Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP).

Sending login information to the server before sending an e-mail is not a Microsoft Outlook default, so you get an error from your email provider’s mail server when sending to external providers.

The Geeky Bits

The mail server that actually sends your e-mails for you has been configured to use theSMTP AUTH extension as defined in RFC 2554.  When sending an e-mail, the mail user agent (Outlook) connects to the mail transfer agent (your provider’s mail server) and the server responds with the authentication types used by sending the client the SMTP verb “AUTH” and a list of methods.  The client selects an authentication method it supports and replies back with “AUTH <method>”.  If the server does not receive an AUTH from the client, it treats the client as an unknown sender and does whatever the server is programmed to do when an unknown sender sends mail (ignore the mail message, send a warning message to the client).

How to Fix It

How to fix “503 valid RCPT command must precede DATA”:
Note: The screenshots below are from Outlook 2010, but the settings that need to be changed are the similar in any version of Outlook.

  1. Click the File tab:Outlook 2010 File Tab

    Outlook 2010 File Tab


  2. Verify that the e-mail account shown at the top under “Account Information”  is correct. Click the Account Settings selector button, then select the Account Settings drop-down option.Outlook 2010 Account Settings

    Outlook 2010 Account Settings


  3. Select the correct account (if you have more than one)
    Click Change 

    Outlook 2010 - Account Settings - Change

    Outlook 2010 – Account Settings – Change


  4. Click the More Settings button:Outlook 2010 - Account Settings - More Settings

    Outlook 2010 – Account Settings – More Settings

    NOTE: If your e-mail already works, you might want to uncheck the “Test Account settings by..” checkbox.

  5. Click the Outgoing Server tab.
    Click the checkbox for My outgoing server (SMTP) requires authentication.
    Select  Use the same settings as my incoming mail server radio-button option. 

    Outlook 2010 - E-Mail Settings - Outgoing Server

    Outlook 2010 – E-Mail Settings – Outgoing Server Settings


  6. Click OK
  7. Click Next. Outlook will try to send a test message back to yourself, unless you unchecked the “Send a test message” checkbox.
  8. Click Finish
If Outlook is configured to send login information for outgoing mail and you’re still getting this error, contact your ISP or mail provider for support.

5 Most Expensive Laptops

We present the most expensive laptop in the world.These are the best products in both advanced technology and in performance when compared to other products.

1. Luvaglio Laptop : $ 10,00,000

5 Most Expensive Laptops (4)5 Most Expensive Laptops (5)
Luvaglio laptop is considered as the first luxuries laptop which is fixed with 17” inches LED wide-screen and was exclusively designed with anti-reflective glare coating for crystal clear and brighter image prospective.Luvaglio Laptop is the Most Expensive Laptop in the world worth 1 Million Dollars and they provide flexibility for the buyer as they were allowed to customize it to his/her choice of leathers, precious metals and even real woods. It has 128 GB .

2. Tulip E-Go Diamond Laptop : $ 3,55,000
5 Most Expensive Laptops (2)

Tulip E-Go Diamond Laptop is one of the World’s Most Desired luxury Laptop. The chrome handle and rounded curves reminds us the casual Ladies handbag. It consists of the changeable skins which are made-up of superior quality leathers with white gold plates decorated with the diamonds. It is one of the Most Expensive Laptop worth around half a million dollars ($3,55,000). It has a 12 inch anti-glare display, 2GB of RAM, 160GB hard drive with integrated webcam, Bluetooth 2.0, and DVD burner.

3. Ego for Bentley : $ 20,0005 Most Expensive Laptops (6)
The Ego for Bentley is one of the Most Expensive Laptop in the World worth around $20,000. The Authentic Bentley Leather, color schemes and stitchings are really a stylish things that every Women would like to own.It has 64 bit CPU for 64 bit Vista and a meager 160 GB HDD.

4.Voodoo Envy H – 171 : $ 8,500

5 Most Expensive Laptops (1)
Voodoo Laptop provides you the high performance with its satisfactory configuration which reflects that it’s worth the price, and is loaded with specifications such as Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800 processor, a chunky 4GB of RAM,  1.3MP webcam, dual 250GB hard disk, 7-in-1 memory card reader, dual layer DVD RW drive and a high resolution 17 inch 1920X1200 display, twin Nvidia Quadro FX Go 2500M graphics card.

5. Rock Extreme SL8 : $ 5,0005 Most Expensive Laptops (3)

Rock Extreme SL8 was considered as one of the fastest laptop in the world and is also one of the Most Expensive Laptop worth $5000. It is supported with an Intel Core 2 Quad Processor, NVIDIA 9800M GPUs in SLI and exciting 8GB of RAM.

How To Perform a Hard Reset in Windows 8

Sometimes you just have to undo everything and start over, particularly on your computer. Luckily, Microsoft has made it quite easy to reset your WIndows 8 system without having to completely reinstall the OS. Here’s how.

1. Hover your mouse over the right top (or right bottom) corner of your screen to bring up the Charms menu.

2. Select Settings.

3. Select More PC Settings at the bottom.

4. Select General then select either Refresh or Reset.

Rahmat Shah Masror is the CEO/Founder of Pamir Networks, Inc. and Pamir Web Hosting Afghanistan leading web hosting and development company registered with AISA and under Afghanistan Government.

Windows7 will not let me edit the hosts file and save it

It’s a built-in safety feature.  There is an easy workaround.  ClickStart ->All Programs -> Accessories.  Right-clickNotepad, and then click Run as administrator.  If you are prompted for an administrator password or for a confirmation, type the password, or clickAllow or Yes.

Open the Hosts file (from the notepad you just opened) , make your changes, and then click File ->Save.




Windows 7 – Edit the Hosts File

Need to figure out how to edit the Hosts file in Windows 7? For the most part, it’s pretty much the same as Windows XP and Vista, but with a few extra hiccups!

Just if case you don’t know, the Hosts file is where you can manually enter a hostname and an IP address pair, thereby bypassing the DNS server. This can be pretty useful in certain situation, especially for anyone in IT.

The path to the Hosts file in Windows 7 is the same as usual:


where %systemroot% is usually c:windows unless you installed Windows on a different partition. By default, you cannot see these hidden folders since they are system folders.

To show hidden folders in Windows 7, press the ALT key while in Explorer to bring up the File menu. Click on Tools and thenFolder Options.

hosts file windows 7

Click on the View tab and then click on the Show hidden files, folders, and drives radio button under Hidden files and folders.

show hidden files windows 7

Now navigate to the directory above and open the hosts file and make your changes.

edit hosts file

Note that this method for editing the Hosts file will not work. You will get a message saying you do not have permission to save in this location.

windows 7 hosts file

In order to edit it, you have to click on Start, type in Notepad and then right-click on Notepad and choose Run as Administrator.

run as administrator

Now navigate to the drivers/etc folder again and make sure to choose All files for File Types otherwise you won’t see the Hosts file.

view all files

Make your changes to the Hosts file and click File and Save to save all changes. Now you will not get the error about not being able to modify the Hosts file. Enjoy!