Recently in Tips and Tricks Category

1) Open Internet Explorer
2) Click Tools
3) Click the Security Tab
4) Click Custom Levels

5) In the window that opens look for the entry:
ActiveX Controls and Plug-ins.

6) You want to disable
"Download Unsigned ActiveX controls"

7) You want to prompt
"Download signed ActiveX Controls"

This will allow you to see an ActiveX control and who it's from before it's installed. Please make sure to do a bit of researching before you allow the application to install. Never blindly trust an active X control just because it's signed or looks trustworthy.

Anyone can get a signed Active X control, just because it is signed does not mean it is a safe control.

Windows Service Pack 2 for XP now addresses some of the issues of ActiveX controls.

Did you know we had a Mail Bag? We do! Our team, including two MSFT Security MVPs, select good questions from the Mail Bag and give it our best shot.

Question: I receive lots of hot stock tips in my email. Are these legitimate stocks? Should I invest?

Disclaimer: We don't give investment advice...but what you are referring to is commonly called a Pump & Dump stock scam.

Like many people you probably get alot of spam- even with the better filters we have today. Have you ever noticed how many spams are touting a particular stock? Usually this is a slimly traded stock on a small exchange for only pennies a share. In a recent Honeypot studied it was found that 3% of all the spam collected were actually pump & dump scams! Still at pennies a share it seems so easy to make money! Not so.

New research was released recently about these "pump and dump" schemes. The way it works is the stock owners or holders send out massive amounts of spam touting their stock, somtimes resorting to pumping them on up on stock related message boards with false or misleading claims.

What was really interesting in this study is the researchers found that the more spam sent actually sent the stock of the price higher- naturally the scamsters unload the stock as it peaks and the regular investors are left holding the bag.

Answer: If you get e-mails like these simply hit delete. They are more than likely scammers tricks stacked against you in order to part you from your hard earned money. The only ones profiting from these "spam e-mail tips" are the senders themselves- in this case spammers.

For more on Pump & Dump Stock Scams read this illuminating article.

If you still aren't sure check out this savvy fellow who charted a variety of spam touted stocks and see for yourself just how "good" the returns where: Spamstocktracker.com. We suspect that some of these fraudsters might using botnets as spam relays so they can send out literally millions of these types of thinly traded, dubious equities.

Imagine that- a whole legion of zombie machines working OTC stocks. Again- hit delete and don't fall for it.

Office 2003/XP Add-in: Remove Hidden Data

We talked about this a couple of years ago but as tips and tricks go it is a must have in your privacy toolset and best of all it's free.

Did you know that when you edit a Microsoft Word document there are all kinds of hidden meta-data in the document that you cannot see? With this little add-in you can permanently remove hidden and collaboration data, such as change tracking and comments, from Word 2003/XP, Excel 2003/XP, and PowerPoint 2003/XP files. If only certain government officials had known about the tool because meta-data has led to a few scandals in the past!

The Remove Hidden Data add-in is a tool that you can use to remove personal or hidden data that might not be immediately apparent when you view the document in Microsoft Office. The tool is free but only works in 2003/XP.

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