CyberSolutions: April 2016

Friday, April 29, 2016

Get All The Details About Your Internet Connection

NetWorx is a simple and free, yet powerful tool that helps you objectively evaluate your bandwidth consumption situation. You can use it to collect bandwidth usage data and measure the speed of your Internet or any other network connections. NetWorx can help you identify possible sources of network problems, ensure that you do not exceed the bandwidth limits specified by your ISP, or track down suspicious network activity characteristic of Trojan horses and hacker attacks.
The program allows you to monitor all your network connections or just a specific network connection, such as Wireless or Mobile Broadband. The software also features an array of highly customisable visual and sound alerts. You can set it up to alert you when the network connection is down or when some suspicious activity — such as unusually heavy data flow — occurs. It can also automatically disconnect all dial-up connections and shut the system down.
The incoming and outgoing traffic is represented on a line chart and logged into a file, so that you can always view statistics about your daily, weekly and monthly bandwidth usage and dial-up duration. The reports can be exported to a variety of formats, such as HTML, MS Word and Excel, for further analysis.

Key Features
  • Clear graphic and/or numeric display.
  • Usage reports, exportable to a variety of file formats, including Excel, MS Word and HTML.
  • Close supervision of uploads and downloads.
  • Support of dial-up, ISDN, cable modems, ADSL, Ethernet cards, and more.
  • Network information and testing tools with advanced netstat that displays applications using your Internet connection.
  • Options to notify the user or automatically disconnect from the Internet when the network activity exceeds a certain level.
  • Speed meter to accurately time downloads and report the average transfer rates.
  • Dial-up session journal with detailed information about every session.
  • Absolutely free and does not contain any adware, spyware or malware.
With NetWorx you can:
  • Find out and monitor how fast your Internet connection is and how much Internet traffic you consume.
  • Verify whether your ISP charges your Internet usage fairly.
  • Detect a suspicious network activity on your computer.
  • Perform simple network tests such as ping and trace route.
  • Be notified about excessive Internet usage.

You can help make NetWorx better!

Due to popular demand, we have recently made NetWorx multilingual. If you speak a language other than English and enjoy using this cool little application, you can send us a translation to your language and we will include it into the distribution.
In order to translate it, please download this file, unzip and edit it in any text editor like Notepad. If your language is already present, you may want to improve it. All the necessary instructions are in that file. Thank you!

A right-click the NetWorx notification area icon brings up the program’s menu. This menu lets you control the utility. Left-clicking the notification area icon displays the current NetWorx state.

NetWorx is displaying the real time traffic data.

NetWorx also displays accumulated daily, weekly and monthly totals, and lets you export that information to a number of formats.

NetWorx is a highly customisable tool, and includes network tools such as ping, trace route and netstat.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Convert A Windows Desktop App To A Universal Windows App

With Windows 10’s Anniversary Update, Microsoft is making it possible for developers to convert traditional Windows desktop applications to Universal Windows Platform (UWP) applications. But anyone can do this with any app–not just developers.
With Windows 10’s converter, just give it a .msi or .exe file and it’ll spit out a .appx package. You can then sideload this app on your own PC, or–if you’re the application’s developer–you can submit the resulting UWP app to the Windows Store. This feature will arrive for everyone with Windows 10’s Anniversary Update, bringing many “legacy” applications to the Windows Store.

Why You’d Want to Do This

This feature is the end result of Microsoft’s Project Centennial, which is designed to bring those “legacy” Win32 and .NET Windows desktop applications to the Windows Store and the new Universal Windows Platform.

You might wonder why anyone would want to convert a desktop application to a new UWP app. For one thing, only UWP apps are allowed in the Windows Store. This allows developers to get a lot more eyes on their apps, not to mention single-click installation, easy purchasing, and automatic updates.
Microsoft’s new application platform is also sandboxed, so there’s a security benefit to converting old apps to UWP apps. The converter tool will analyze your desktop app’s behavior and create a sandbox just for it, giving it only the permissions it needs to run properly. If the application is compromised, it won’t be able to break out of that limited sandbox and mess with the rest of the system. Applications will install and uninstall cleanly without leaving junk lying around on the file system and in the registry.
The resulting applications are still powerful, despite the sandbox. These applications can use UWP features, but should be just as powerful as a traditional desktop application. As Microsoft’s documentation says: “As a UWP app, your app is able to do the things it could do as a classic desktop app. It interacts with a virtualized view of the registry and file system that’s indistinguishable from the actual registry and file system.”

The Limitations

There are some important limitations here. First, you can only do this on the Windows 10 Anniversary Update. For now, it’ll work with Windows 10 Insider Preview build 14316 and higher, so you’ll need to join the Windows Insider program and use an Insider Preview build of Windows 10.
This feature also requires either the Professional or Enterprise editions of Windows 10. Windows 10 Home users won’t be able to use the Desktop App Converter. As of build 14316, it only worked on Windows 10 Enterprise, but support for Windows 10 Professional is coming. Currently, this tool can only be used on 64-bit versions of Windows, and the resulting AppX package can only be installed on 64-bit versions of Windows. This will change in future Insider builds of Windows 10.
The resulting applications are intended for Windows 10 PCs. They won’t work on Windows 10 Mobile smartphones, Xbox One, Holo Lens, Surface Hub, and the other Windows 10 platforms that run UWP apps. However, if you’re a developer, Microsoft offers a path to getting your desktop application into a cross-platform UWP application: “If you choose to move all of your app’s functionality out of the full-trust partition of the app and into the app container partition, then your app will be able to run on any Windows 10 device.”
However, some types of application behavior aren’t supported. An application can’t require it be run as Administrator or use other types of low-level system access. Microsoft provides a list of behaviors that aren’t allowed.

How to Set Up the Desktop App Converter

Assuming you’re using a new enough build of the Windows 10 Insider Preview, you can download and install the Desktop App Converter from Microsoft’s Developer site. Download both the and BaseImage-14316.wim files. Extract the downloaded file to a folder on your computer and place the BaseImage file in the same directory. (If there’s a new build of Windows 10 available, you should see a new BaseImage file. You’ll need to use the BaseImage file with the same version number as your installed build of Windows 10.)
You’ll also need to download and install the Windows 10 SDK.
Next, open a PowerShell window as Administrator. To do so, open the Start menu, search for “PowerShell,” right-click its shortcut, and select “Run as Administrator.”
Change PowerShell’s execution policy by running the following command. Agree to the change by typing y afterwards.
Set-ExecutionPolicy bypass
Run the command below, replacing C:\Users\NAME\Downloads\DesktopAppConvertorwith the path to the directory on your computer:
cd -Path C:\Users\NAME\Downloads\DesktopAppConvertor
Set up the Desktop App Converter by running the following command:
.\DesktopAppConverter.ps1 -Setup -BaseImage .\BaseImage-14316.wim
If you’re asked to reboot while running any of these commands, reboot your computer and then run the command again.

How to Convert a Desktop Application

You can now run the DesktopAppConverter.ps1 script from an Administrator PowerShell window to convert a desktop application to a UWP application in a single command. You’ll need the application’s installer to do this. As an example, we’ll use VLC here.
To view the detailed list of options, you can run the following command at any time:
get-help .\DesktopAppConverter.ps1 -detailed
Here’s a command you can use and adjust for your application:
.\DesktopAppConverter.ps1 -ExpandedBaseImage C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Images\BaseImage-14316
 –Installer C:\Installer\MyApp.exe -InstallerArguments "/S" -Destination C:\Output\MyApp
 -PackageName "MyApp" -Publisher "CN=<publisher_name>" -Version -MakeAppx -Verbose
You’ll need to adjust the command to add your own publisher name, version, package name, and point it at the installer file and destination directory you prefer. The -InstallerArguments "/S" option here passes the /S switch to the installer, which makes many application installers install silently without any user input. Applications must be installable without any user input or you can’t convert them.
The application’s installer should be in its own directory without any other files, as the files in the same directory as the installer will be copied into the resulting .appx package.
For example, we’re using VLC here, so here’s the command we’d use:
.\DesktopAppConverter.ps1 -ExpandedBaseImage C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Images\BaseImage-14316
 –Installer C:\Users\chris\Downloads\vlc\vlc-2.2.2-win32.exe -InstallerArguments "/S" -Destination C:\Output\VLC
 -PackageName "VLC" -Publisher "CN=VideoLAN" -Version -MakeAppx -Verbos

The tool will give you an .appx package, which is the UWP version of the app.

How to Install the App Without Signing It

You’re normally required sign apps with a valid signature before they can be installed. Microsoft recommends creating a self-signed certificate and signing the app with that on your computer. You can do that using the instructions below, if you like.
However, if you just want to install the app on your own computer, you can do this yourself faster, without messing with any signatures. Windows 10 allows you to install apps without signing them if you’re installing an “unpackaged” app from a directory.
To do this, open a PowerShell window as Administrator and run the following command:
Add-AppxPackage -Path C:\Path\to\AppxManifest.xml -Register
You’ll find the AppxManifest.xml file next to the Application.appx file in the output directory you specified.
You can now launch the application from your Start menu. It will be a “Windows app” instead of a “Desktop app,” but it will otherwise look and work like a normal desktop app.

How to Sign and Install the App

You don’t need to follow these instructions if you’ve already installed the application. This is the harder way.
You can normally only install an .appx package if it has a valid signature. Microsoft recommends using the signtool.exe application included with the Windows 10 SDK to create a self-signed certificate, which will allow you to install and test the application on your own computer.
Just open a Command Prompt window as Administrator and run the following commands to create a self-signed certificate and sign the .appx package with it:
cd "C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Kits\10\bin\x64"
MakeCert.exe -r -h 0 -n "CN=Publisher" -eku -pe -sv my.pvk my.cer
pvk2pfx.exe -pvk my.pvk -spc my.cer -pfx my.pfx
signtool.exe sign -f my.pfx -fd SHA256 -v C:\Path\to\application.appx
Note that the publisher you specify–that’s the "CN=Publisher" –must match the publisher you specified earlier when creating the AppX file. So, continuing with our VLC example from above, we’d have to use "CN=VideoLAN" .
You’ll be asked to enter a password. You can just leave the password blank.
You can now install the .appx package in a PowerShell (Administrator) window with the Add-AppxPackage command:
Add-AppxPackage C:\Path\to\application.appx

This feature can be used by anyone, but only developers–and maybe some system administrators–will want to go this route. Luckily, the process is extremely easy for developers, assuming their applications don’t require any functionality that isn’t supported by the UWP sandbox.