Patrick Marshall answers your personal-technology questions each week.
Q: We’ve been longtime users of Kaspersky anti-virus and related software. Is it still a wise idea to use their services, considering their involvement with the Russian government?
— Sea Woofie
A: I’ve never heard of concerns about Kaspersky from any technical group. But this month, the federal agency in charge of purchasing, the General Services Administration, removed the Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab from its list of approved vendors. The GSA suggested that a vulnerability exists in Kaspersky that could give the Russian government backdoor access to systems the software protects, but the GSA didn’t offer any evidence of such a vulnerability. Kaspersky Labs has denied any links with the Russian government and has offered to cooperate with federal investigators.
Q: My question has to do with Outlook contacts. Last fall I changed my email address. After notifying everyone, I realized I was having an issue with my contacts so my son-in-law, who is very techy competent, made sure I didn’t lose contacts in the email address changeover. Things are working OK, but there is some cleanup needed and I’m wondering if there is an internet resource I can use. Briefly, the issues are:
• When I look under Account Settings in Outlook, the Data Files tab shows a .pst file. The Address Books tab shows the same .pst file. The file name is “firstname.lastname@example.org — new profile.pst”. This is my old email address.
• In Outlook Contacts, when I right click on Contacts and select Properties, under the General tab the location of Contacts shows a folder that I’m not sure of its location: \Janette’s Combined — SPRO and Fastmail.
• In Outlook Mail, when I open a new email and click on To, the Address Book shows “Contacts — email@example.com(1)”. The names in this list are a mix of last name, first name and first name, last name.
It’s all very confusing and I’m wondering how many address books/contacts I actually have! It would be helpful to get your advice and/or have you point me to a resource on the internet that would help me understand this better.
— Janette Adamucci
A: The problems you are having stem from the way your Outlook accounts were set up. For starters, PST files are the files where Outlook stores all your Outlook-related data. The name of the PST file would have been entered when you connected that email account to Outlook. The files Outlook should use for contacts and address books are also user-configurable. So it doesn’t appear that you’re having any technical problems.
It will take a hands-on look to reconfigure Outlook. If your son-in-law isn’t available, my suggestion is to either hire a techie to clean things up or join a support group. Alternatively, Fastmail’s support team may be able to help you with Outlook configuration.
Q: People said our computer would be shut down unless we go to Wal-Mart and buy $800 worth of iTunes. We feel so violated; what can we do? We are seniors and, of course, we are not very sharp about technical issues with computers.
— Danielle Risdon McChesney
A: You don’t say how that message is appearing, but if it’s an email I wouldn’t worry about it. It’s just a piece of spam from someone who is hoping you’ll send them money. On the other hand, if it’s a pop-up message, you may have inadvertently acquired some malware.
If you’re not experiencing any other problems with launching applications or accessing your data, it’s unlikely that you have been infected with ransomware. Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts all your data and instructs you to pay a ransom with the promise that after you’ve done so you’ll get a key to unencrypt your data. (That promise is not always kept.)
If you do have trouble launching programs or accessing your files, I recommend that you have a specialist diagnose your computer.