Q: I was recently placed in CenturyLink’s Consumer Internet Protection Program for the second time due to reports of malicious traffic originating from my home network. In both cases, I used McAfee Antivirus, Malwarebytes, and finally Microsoft’s Malicious Software Removal Tool on all my connected PCs to identify and resolve this issue. In each case, no malware was found. After a long conversation with CenturyLink Support trying to identify what was driving these malicious traffic reports, they were only able to tell me that a device on my network had a bot virus and they highly recommended to get “computer” help. to have it removed.
Is it possible that I could still have an infected device, regardless of all the preventative measures I just listed? And if so, how do you know which one is the culprit? Or could it be the Microsoft sign-in test causing this problem?
— Scott Hannah
A: I’ve reached out to Lumen, formerly CenturyLink, and got some responses, though I suspect the company’s responses won’t fully reassure customers who aren’t sure why they’re getting restricted internet access as part of from the program.
First, yes, it’s possible that despite running the software you cite, you still have something triggering Lumen’s Internet Consumer Protection Program. For starters, it’s not just viruses or other malware that can trigger CIPP restrictions. Having content on the computer that violates digital copyright laws can also do this. If you downloaded such content, most likely without knowing that it is copyrighted, this can also be a trigger.
While Lumen promises not to scan subscribers’ computers, I asked how CIPP detects malware or other triggering content.
“We rely on notification from a trusted third party that our customers’ computers are performing malicious acts on the Internet,” a company spokesperson said.
Examples of malicious activity include attempting 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 apparently do.
And yes, it’s also possible that despite your security software, another computer on your network has triggering content, or that your computer or another computer on the network has been hacked and used to engage in a or more of the triggering activities.
Finally, yes, Lumen says it’s “possible but unlikely” that Microsoft 365’s network connectivity test — or other network scans — would trigger CIPP restrictions.
So what do you have to do? Lumen’s spokesperson suggests calling 800-244-1111.
Like I said, not really encouraging.
Q: In a recent column, you failed to mention what I think is the easiest way to move photos from phone (Android or iPhone) to computer (Windows or Apple).
The reader mentioned the use of Dropbox. Dropbox does automatic photo uploads (when enabled), so the images go to a folder in Dropbox called “camera uploads”. No cables needed. Nothing easier.
— Norm Samuelson
A: Yes, it’s definitely easy if you don’t want to be selective about what you download. And, by the way, other cloud services, such as Microsoft OneDrive, also support automatic uploading of photos from your phone to the cloud and, if desired, to your computer.
Q: In a recent column, you mentioned transferring files from phone to laptop by connecting with a USB cable. You should probably specify that a “data capable” USB cable is required. Although technicians are aware of this, cable suppliers are often unclear about cable specifications and they are usually not labeled, 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. These are the ones that usually come with your cell phone and that you use to charge it. They are generally thinner than USB data cables, which can also be used to power devices. Power-only cables also only use two wires in the cable versus four in a data cable, but since many power cables use the same four-contact port connectors, you can still misidentify the type of USB cable in question.
The good news is that no harm comes from using the wrong cable. You simply won’t be able to connect to the phone for data transfers. This is your signal to grab another cable.