Frequently Asked Questions
Please check this FAQ before contacting
us with a support request
Answers to some of the questions we have received...
Q. What exactly do I get by purchasing
The Hacker's Nightmare?
Membership of The Hacker's Nightmare family is worth more now than
it ever has been, yet still at the same old price. For the purchase
of just one valuable eBook, members now get free access to several of
my other information products as well:
to Keep Hackers, Worms & Other Germs Out Of Your PC.
eBook: "Seven Steps to a Clean PC"
This is the massive, 500-page information resource that started it
all -- the world's #1 plain-language security tutorial and reference,
repeatedly updated since 2004.
Guide to Recovering Your Computer from Malware. There is little point
in attempting to protect a computer that is already compromised. This
by-the-numbers, 7-step guide is designed to help you to clean up a
suspect PC prior to implementing the protective strategies found in
The Hacker's Nightmare.
eBook: "Code Rings & Secret Handshakes"
Encryption for Beginners. A cleverly designed tutorial that will take
you from zero to encryption hero in a single step-by-step run through
of this heavily illustrated 60 page programmed instruction. In less
than an hour you will be wielding uncrackable encryption like an old
eBook: "Spam Warfare: Home & Small Business Edition"
the Scourge, Save Time, Eliminate Threats. Answers your every question
about spam, and clearly describes the most effective spam management
techniques. From free software-only solutions for the home and small-business
user, to advanced hardware-based anti-spam systems for use with in-house
eBook: "How to Build a Virtual Computer"
Illustrated, Step-By-Step Guide to Installing Multiple Operating Systems
on a Windows PC. Learn how to quickly create and utilize single or
multiple operating systems within your main Windows installation.
Completely isolate suspect and/or dangerous applications from your
main Windows system, yet have them run normally.
+ Additional books, tutorials, white papers, etc...
supplementary publications appear regularly, most of which are freely
available to members by logging into the private members area.
+ Lifetime access to a private members-only website.
This is where you will find downloads, updates, notifications, recommendations
and special offers.
The question for non-members is, can you afford not to have access
to the best plain-language security resource available anywhere at any
price? Frankly, not only is there simply no competition to The Hacker's
Nightmare as a security resource for "ordinary" everyday computer users,
nothing else even comes close. I'm currently working on a major update
which, of course, will be free for existing members.
Q. Do I need extra software to use in
conjunction with The Hacker's Nightmare?
The simple truth is this: If Windows came with all the software tools
and functionality needed to protect your system, there would be no need
for a book like "The Hacker's Nightmare".
But it doesn't. Far from it. So yes, you do need other software tools
to adequately secure a PC.
Since few computer users possess the expertise to separate the useful
offerings from the useless (of which there are many), I have gone to
a lot of trouble to recommend the best software tools for each job.
In doing so I have managed to include a lot of excellent but quite free
applications, and none of the others are bank-busters.
If I could substitute more free tools for those that currently must
be purchased, I would certainly do so, but definitely not until a free
alternative is truly worthy of recommendation. Were I to be less discerning,
the consequent loss of security and functionality is a compromise I'm
not prepared to make.
Q. Your webpage says you offer support
to members. How far does that support extend?
You may contact support for clarification on anything DIRECTLY RELATING
to the contents of any of the eBooks or papers provided to members.
We do not offer free consulting and will not generally enter into discussion
on topics not closely related to computer and Internet security issues.
Similar restrictions apply to the content of our Blog
and any newsletters/e-mail advisories we may send out from time to time.
If a process is well covered in one of the eBooks available to members,
such as "The Hacker's Nightmare" or "Seven Steps to a Clean PC", please
don't expect us to address it again in a support ticket.
Members either already know what tools, services and anti-malware software
we recommend for use, and how to use them, or they can refer again to
their copy of the relevant eBook. Over time our e-mail advisories, blog
posts and any newsletters will provide a lot of useful and interesting
information, but they will rarely amount to a step-by-step guide to
clean-up and protection. That's what the eBooks are for.
For nonmembers, I can only assume that anyone who subscribes to my
e-mail advisories, blog posts and any newsletters, and yet doesn't own
"The Hacker's Nightmare", is not truly serious about their PC and online
security. It would simply not be fair for me to repeatedly provide the
same advice, instruction and resources to casual subscribers as is available
to those who made an investment in their own best interests.
Finally, a certain basic level of competence in using Windows is assumed.
We can't possibly allocate time to answering questions about how to
perform common operations in Windows, defining terminology, or explaining
operational differences between Windows versions. The answers to all
such questions are readily available online using a search engine such
Q. Does the The Hacker's Nightmare
address security for all Windows versions?
The general principles of computer and online security are much the
same regardless of operating system. For the purposes of illustration
I have elected to continue to use Windows XP for examples in The Hacker's
Nightmare. That decision, which is reviewed with each update of the
e-book, is based on market share of the main Windows versions. According
to Wikipedia, Windows XP had an October 2008 market share of 68.11%,
compared with Windows Vista's 19.29% (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Windows).
With the next version of Windows already announced it's clear that
even Microsoft is abandoning any pretence that Vista has been accepted
by the community at large. It's very unlikely there will be any significant
move towards an unpopular Windows Vista this late in the game, leaving
the majority of computers running Windows XP while awaiting the new
However users of other Windows versions, in particular Windows Vista
and Windows 2000, should have little difficulty in applying the principles
and techniques espoused in The Hacker's Nightmare.
Most of the specific examples in The Hacker's Nightmare will translate
directly to Windows Vista, but some won't.
The same goes for recommended scanning and protective software -- some
will work with Vista and some won't. It is probable that you could find
Vista alternatives to the programs and techniques recommended, but I
can't guarantee that, as not all software developers decided to produce
Vista-compatible versions of their products.
Vista's incompatibility with many popular applications software packages
is one of the main reasons the corporate sector has elected to stay
with Windows XP.
That said, we have many Vista users among our members. While Windows
XP is used for all examples in The Hacker's Nightmare, the general security
principles apply to any Operating System.
Microsoft have made a habit of changing folder names and locations
with each Windows version, so there will always be situations where
a description for one Windows version won't be exactly correct for another.
However, translation to Vista-speak is usually fairly easy to figure
out with the help of a search engine.
Just remember that "Google is your friend" and you will soon
resolve any differences between Windows versions. You'll usually find
that the differences aren't all that great, often being just a matter
of different wording.
The Hacker's Nightmare continues to be the number one security resource
for users of all Windows versions because there is very little available
in the way of plain-language security tutorials for Vista.
Q. I downloaded The Hacker's Nightmare
(or another of the eBooks) but now I can't find it. Can you help me?
Sorry, but it is not even remotely possible for us to know where you
may have downloaded a file to. However, there is nothing to stop you
from downloading it again, and taking pains to be sure you know where
it's going. If in doubt the Windows Desktop is a good and obvious place.
To download again just login to your member account. There is a login
link at both top-right and at the bottom of The Hacker's Nightmare website
Q. I understand the need for a certain
amount of security, but The Hacker's Nightmare is too expensive
The Hacker's Nightmare had its beginnings as a private resource
for my clients, and I never intended for it to become the security standard
for home and small business computing. To anyone who thinks that I make
a lot of money out of the book I have only one thing to say: I WISH!
The time that goes into maintaining it is significant and is mostly
not something I can farm out to someone else, and it is time I can't
put into my other income-producing endeavors.
Still, occasionally someone in a less than ideal financial situation
will claim that The Hacker's Nightmare is beyond their budget.
Unfortunately the scum of cyberspace don't care much about a potential
victim's personal circumstances. The Internet is an equal-opportunity
threat. As a great many people have found to their cost and regret,
the most expensive proposition is in NOT protecting yourself.
Just one "visit" from, or "action" by, any one
of thousands of online criminals, and your costs and loss will almost
certainly be many, many times the cost of The Hacker's Nightmare.
To hire any sort of a competent professional to rectify anything but
the most trivial problem will most certainly involve an expense much
greater than the cost of The Hacker's Nightmare.
Q. I've forgotten
how to get to the Private Member's web page.
Browse to http://HackersNightmare.com
There is a login button on the top right of that page, and a link at
Q. I've forgotten my Username and Password
for the Private Member's web page.
Your password is the Receipt Number you were issued with after your
purchase of The Hacker's Nightmare. You can retrieve your password
by going to the Login page (see previous question) and clicking on the
link that reads: Forgotten your password?
.Q. I'd like to get your take
on a particular security program or service I'm running (or would like
A lot of work has gone into The Hackers Nightmare and the other supporting
books and papers, and there is a very good and well researched reason
behind practically every recommendation in those publications. Please
understand that I cannot possibly undertake to discuss alternative software
that you may be running or wish to run. People are sending me lists
of the security software on their PCs which contain entries that (a)
bear little if any resemblance to my recommendations, and (b) contain
software that will clash or not interact well. In the "cruel to be kind"
context, you can either do it your way or my way -- but the likelihood
of a random mixture working for you is slim indeed.
That said, I understand that some readers will come to The Hacker's
Nightmare having only recently purchased a licence for a product that's
not on my list of recommendations, and will be reluctant to just abandon
a new purchase. I'm afraid that will be just a case of taste it and
see. I have never claimed that any application not on my list of recommendations
is rubbish -- that's far from the truth. There are a number of products
that would be suitable alternatives to my recommendations, but I can't
possibly investigate them all on your behalf. The best advice I can
give is to conduct your own research (Google is your friend!)
to determine if your product is presenting problems for other users.
Q. My computer is running slowly --
will your methods speed it up?
Malware is a prime cause of system slowdowns, and if you clean out
the malware properly there is an excellent chance that you will see
performance improvements. However, malware is not the ONLY cause of
system slowdowns. There are many others, including some absolutely crap,
poorly written memory-resident software that doesn't free up resources.
There is a lot of excellent free and very inexpensive software out there,
some of which is even recommended in my books, but the fact remains
that the more free downloads you install, the more games you run, the
more filesharing you do, etc etc -- the more likely you are to be hampering
your system performance. If the presence of malware is the prime cause
for your system slowdowns, then yes, removing it should produce a noticeable
Q. I have Norton/Symantec something-or-other
installed. Can you...?
Woah! Enough said! Stop there!
I have never recommended Norton/Symantec products and I cannot help
you work through the process of fixing their insidious rubbish. Not
only does Norton publish some of the most troublesome security software
available but their "support" is generally quite abysmal as well.
If you need help uninstalling a stubborn Norton/Symantec product, a
web search will turn up plenty of other people in the same position.
Since the problems and fixes are so numerous we don't even attempt to
keep abreast of them, and can only suggest that you search out the specific
and current solution to your particular problem.
Q. My PC is running slow and I think it is in a real mess! Will The
Hackers Nightmare show me how to clean out my PC?
The bonus eBook Seven Steps to a Clean PC is dedicated to getting
you to the point of a clean start if you suspect existing problems.
You can download Seven Steps to a Clean PC directly from the
members web page.
Q. How many anti-spyware programs
are really needed?
We recommend two, but they must be the right software used in a specific
way for maximum effect and to prevent cross-interference
Q. Are the exact anti-malware programs
you recommend in The Hackers Nightmare really necessary,
or can I use one of my own choosing?
You can of course make your own choices, but you do so at your own
risk. At the moment there are few, if any, suitable substitutes for
my recommendations. The Hacker's Nightmare explains why.
Q. Are the McAfee or Norton products adequate
In our experience McAfee and Norton are experts at marketing.
We do not rely on or recommend either. Norton/Symantec products in particular
seem to be the source of a lot of problems on a lot of PC systems. if
you choose to consider these products over our recommendations be sure
to do your research first, then make up your own mind.
Q. Will The Hackers Nightmare
recommendations regarding anti-virus and anti-spyware block 100% of viruses
Unfortunately there is no way that anyoneor any application can guarantee
to block 100% of malware. No software or service to date has been able
to achieve that. What you'll learn in The Hackers Nightmare
is how to use a combination of overlapping technologies and defense-in-depth
strategies to achieve the maximum protection possible.
Q. I'm not very technical. Will I be able
to understand the instructions in The Hackers Nightmare?
If there is any one thing that readers appreciate most about The
Hackers Nightmare it's that it is written in terms that pretty
much anyone can understand, yet at the same time it is extraordinarily
thorough in its coverage of threats and solutions. Further, it doesn't
just recommend solutions, but also attempts to imbue the reader with
a "defense mentality". Really effective computer security
relies as much on the human brain as on technology!
Q. If I order The Hackers Nightmare
will I receive a printed book?
The Hackers Nightmare is an eBook (electronic book) supplied
as an Adobe PDF file, which you can download and open with the free
The author regularly updates The Hackers Nightmare, even
adding new chapters when circumstances warrant. Keeping the work current
in this way would be impossible with a printed version, and with security
issues it is important to always have the latest information.
Owners of The Hackerís Nightmare have lifetime access to a Private
Members web page, where they can download the latest version at any
in addition there are sections on the Private Members web page, such
as the "Recent Updates" section, where new information, changed
recommendations, special warnings, etc are posted when applicable.
Keeping our publications constantly right up-to-date in this manner
is not possible with printed hardcopy books.
Many of our readers print the larger eBooks chapter by chapter, and
that is our recommendation.
Q. Why are there a number of blank pages
in some of your books?
Many people these days own printers with a duplex* capability. As an
alternative to a duplex printer, many others use an application such
to produce double sided printouts.
The blank pages are designed to ensure that a new Section (e.g. a new
chapter or change of topic) starts on the right-hand facing page, as
per general printing conventions. If the normal flow of text doesn't
have a new section starting on the right-hand page then a blank page
is automatically inserted to enable that.
High-end word processors usually offer this feature as an option you
can turn on or off. In Microsoft Word, for example, you would make each
chapter (or each change of topic) a new Section, and format so that
new Sections always start on a new page. Then, when the final Word document
is "printed" to the PDF format for distribution, the word
processor automatically inserts blank pages where necessary to conform
to the specified layout.
* A duplex printer is one which can print automatically to both
sides of a sheet without the user having to flip and reinsert the
Q. I own a business and I want all
my employees to read The Hackers Nightmare. Can I get a discount
for a quantity purchases and get separate CDs for each?
Certainly. Quantity purchases are usually made by education, corporate,
government and public service organisations (e.g. police). Please contact
us to take advantage of this offer or for any special needs such
as custom labeling.
2 - 5
6 - 10
11 - 50
Q. I'm having difficulty downloading
or opening the eBook.
The only absolute guarantee we can give you is that the files available
for download are 100% OK. They are downloaded by someone, somewhere
every day of the week - often many times. In addition, we download and
open them ourselves whenever a problem is reported, just to be extra
The Hacker's Nightmare eBook makes for quite a big file - close
to 8MB. While such file sizes are not uncommon these days (many are
much bigger) successful download does depend on a reliable Internet
connection of good quality.
Here are the most likely reasons for failure to receive or open the
- Poor connection to the Internet. Dial-up connections are particularly
susceptible to even the most minor quality issues - errors you would
never notice during a voice call - but even broadband can be substandard
at times and in some locations. Problems from this cause can manifest
in many ways, from failure of the download altogether to damaged ZIP
files that won't open without error. The noisiest phone lines are usually
found in rural areas. Generally speaking, the larger the file size the
greater the chance of transmission error. If you genuinely believe that
you have a substandard Internet connection and cannot solve the download
problem, please contact
us to discuss having a CD sent to you.
- Some Internet service providers are not as friendly to downloads
(especially of large files) or attachments as they could be. AOL is
one example that we receive a lot of complaints about, but there are
others as well. In our experience complaints to such providers usually
result in little more than excuses or blame shifting. If you genuinely
believe that you are faced with this problem, please contact
us to discuss having a CD sent to you.
- Insufficient free space on your hard drive. This condition can cause
a lot of problems in all sorts of ways, often without the real reason
being obvious. You not only need space to "fit" a file, but
also sufficient space to process it. Be aware that you may not always
get an "insufficient space" message. In some instances your
only warning might be download or unzip failure, or some form of "weird"
- Not using the latest version of WinZIP. Some earlier versions are
not 100% compatible with later incarnations. The latest version of WinZIP
can be obtained from http://www.WinZIP.com
- Not using the latest version of the Adobe Reader. The Hackers
Nightmare PDF file is always tested using the most recent release
of the Reader. The latest version can be obtained here: http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html
- Finally, your PC may already be infected with some form of damaging
malware, which could affect your ability to download, open or process
the eBook file. The bonus eBook Seven Steps to a Clean PC will
walk you through a cleansing process.
If you have suffered a download or ZIP failure you should do the following
- Remove all previous downloads (if any). Delete them completely.
- Empty your Recycle Bin.
- Empty your TEMP folder
- Close all programs and reboot the computer.
DON'T SKIP THE REBOOT! The presence of "stray rubbish"
hanging around in memory or temporary storage locations can cause odd
problems. A reboot clears that possibility.
IF ALL ELSE FAILS...
If you believe that you have a problem downloading or opening the e-book
that you cannot solve, please contact
us to discuss having a CD sent to you.
If you still have concerns after carefully considering
all of the above,
please contact us
with full details.