How to rid a device of hard-to-recognize viruses, tips on transferring photos from phone to PC

s: I was recently put into CenturyLink’s Consumer Internet Protection program for the second time due to reports of malicious traffic coming from my home network. Either way, I used McAfee Antivirus, Malwarebytes, and finally Microsoft’s Malicious Software Removal Tool on all my connected PCs to identify and fix this problem. In each case, no malware was found. After a lengthy conversation with the CenturyLink help desk trying to determine the reason behind these reports of malicious traffic, they were only able to tell me that some devices on my network had a bot virus and they highly recommended getting IT help to remove it.

Is it possible that I could still have an infected device, regardless of all the preventive steps I just mentioned? And if so, how do I find out who the culprit is? Or could it be the Microsoft Connectivity Test that is causing this problem?

Scott Hannah

a: I contacted Lumen, then known as CenturyLink, and got some answers, although I suspect the company’s responses won’t quite reassure customers who don’t know why their internet access is restricted under the program.

Technology related questions and answers

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First, yes, it’s possible that despite running the software you cited, you could still get something that cuts the wire of Lumen’s online consumer protection program. For starters, it’s not just viruses or other malware that can trigger CIPP restrictions. Content on your computer that infringes digital copyright laws may also cause this to happen. If you download such content, it is very likely without knowing that it is copyrighted, it may also act as a trigger.

While Lumen promises not to scan subscribers’ computers, I asked how CIPP detects malware or other triggering content.

“We rely on trusted third-party notification that our customers’ computers are performing malicious acts on the Internet,” a company spokesperson said.

Examples of malicious activity include trying to scan and infect other computers on the web, sending spam from their computers, participating in botnet denial of service attacks, and other malicious activities. So, while Lumen may not be monitoring your computer’s internet connection, others obviously do.

And yes, it is also possible that, despite your security software, another computer on your network may have played content, or your computer or another computer on the network may have been hacked and may have been used to engage in one or more running activities.

Finally, yes, Lumen says that it is “possible but not likely” that Microsoft 365 network connectivity testing – or other network analytics – may result in CIPP restrictions.

So what are you to do? A Lumen spokesperson suggests calling 800-244-1111.

Like I said, not really encouraging.

s: in the last columnYou didn’t mention what I think is the easiest way to transfer photos from phone (Android or iPhone) to computer (Windows or Apple).

Remind the reader to use Dropbox. Dropbox automatically uploads photos (when enabled), so photos go to a folder in Dropbox called Camera Uploads. No cable needed. It couldn’t be easier.

Norm Samuelson

a: Yes, this is definitely easy if you don’t want to be selective about what you upload. Incidentally, other cloud services, such as Microsoft OneDrive, also support automatic uploads of photos from your phone to the cloud and, if you wish, to your computer.

s: In a recent column, I mentioned transferring files from the phone to the laptop by connecting with a USB cable. Perhaps you should clarify that a “data-capable” USB cable is required. Although technologists are aware of this, cable suppliers are often not clear about cable specifications and generally aren’t rated, which can lead to frustration.

Dirk Nansen

a: good point. Yes, there are USB cables that only carry power and cannot be used to transfer data. This is the type that usually comes with your mobile phone and that you use to charge it. They are generally thinner than USB data cables, which can also be used to power devices. Only power cables also use only two wires in a cable compared to four in a data cable, but because many power cables use the same four-pin port connectors, you can still misidentify the type of USB cable.

The good news is that there is no harm in using the wrong cable. You will not be able to connect to the phone to transfer data. This is your seriousness to grab another cable.