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Tech: 'lacks a valid digital signature'

GUEST,leeneia 03 Nov 11 - 11:18 AM
nickp 03 Nov 11 - 12:27 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 03 Nov 11 - 12:55 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 03 Nov 11 - 01:08 PM
JohnInKansas 03 Nov 11 - 09:08 PM
GUEST,leeneia 04 Nov 11 - 09:51 AM
Geoff the Duck 05 Nov 11 - 10:16 AM
Bill D 05 Nov 11 - 12:02 PM
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Subject: Tech: reminder software - digital signature
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 03 Nov 11 - 11:18 AM

I'm interested in getting software from a company called "CuteReminder". They say I can program reminders to myself about appointments and even have my computer play music with the reminders.

I figure this would be a good thing when I'm lost in thought or wrapped up in a project.

However, when I click "Download," I get a meessage that the software "lacks a valid digital signature." The details tell me that I should probably not download the software.

Is this a valid conern?

Does anybody have reminder software they like?

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Subject: RE: Tech: 'lacks a valid digital signature'
From: nickp
Date: 03 Nov 11 - 12:27 PM

John in Kansas would be the best to tell you but basically if you want to give it a trial and you feel happy with the company then go ahead and download it - regardless of the lack of signature. It says 30 day free trial then its $30 if I read it right. A quick google shows it as being available from a number of reputable places and no obvious warnings!

Your choice of course. If you are on windows there may well be something built in that would do the job.

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Subject: RE: Tech: 'lacks a valid digital signature'
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 03 Nov 11 - 12:55 PM

I downloaded CutePDFwriter as a freebie for my Windows computer and love it - it's a very quick easy way to make PDF's on a PC. I only mention this because the rather unusual name "Cute" makes me think it's probably the same company. I don't remember having the problem you describe, but as far as I can see it's a valid site, and I'm certainly happy with my experience of them (we have CutePDF on three machines, all fine). No doubt John will alight from Kansas soon...

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Subject: RE: Tech: 'lacks a valid digital signature'
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 03 Nov 11 - 01:08 PM

Digital signatures are used to authenticate documents/software. They confirm the origin of the document and show it hasn't been tampered with.

However lots of things come without signatures. (I think 64bit Vista requires signatures for drivers, but beyond that I'm not sure who requires them).

If you're sure the program is coming from the originating company, and your system isn't preventing install because of the lack of signature, it should be fine.


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Subject: RE: Tech: 'lacks a valid digital signature'
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 03 Nov 11 - 09:08 PM

A search for CuteReminder shows lots of places where it can be downloaded. On the first page of search returns, all the sites are shown as "safe" by Norton EXCEPT FOR the link for

"Cute Reminder Pro, Manage Desktop Notes an…
at "

This site is flagged by Norton as being "unsafe." A site typically is marked like this if the page contains "redirected links" that might go to places other than what you would expect, which might not mean there's anything malicious, but it may also be flagged if a more specific kind of malware is found on the site. I didn't look to see why that site gets a warning, but the numerous safe places for getting the program would indicate it's not because there's a problem with the program, but that the web page itself contains something questionable.

Since the program is apparently "shareware" it probably could be modified by almost anyone wanting to use an infected version of it to distribute malware. I DID NOT attempt to do a download to let my Norton look directly at the downloaded file(s), but your AV should do that for you.

It's not clear that there is a company named Cute Software, although there might be a group using the name(?). Where possible, it's usually best to get a download directly from a "company site" and I didn't see one identifiable as such in the returns for the program search.

A "Digital Signature" is simply an encrypted bit of code provided by one of a very few trusted issuers that is intended to give assurance that the file was produced by a known source, and that it has not been modified after being released by the original source. The short encrypted bit is embedded in the file. and identifies the "writer" and also that the "bit count" (and possibly other characteristics) of the file are the same as when it was first released.

Almost NO SHAREWARE FILES are ever digitally signed, so you will frequently have to ignore this warning if you want to use any of that kind of programs. (There apparently is a nominal fee for "registering" with the issuers to get a digital signature to attach to files.)

Windows normally will only give a warning about the lack of a signature for files with "active content." This includes "programs that do things," and specifically includes "drivers" for controlling printers and other devices.

There are a few fairly prominent device manufacturers that have not provided signed drivers in the past, so there is some likelihood that you still may need to occasionally override the warning and install an unsigned one. I can't say whether those most noted in the past for such distributions have changed their practices since "signing" became more prevalent.

If you are confident that the program you want is known to be safe, AND THAT THE SITE YOU GOT IT FROM can be trusted, it usually is okay to ignore the notice that it's not signed and proceed with the installation, if it's something that's really worth having for you.

You should also keep in mind that a program you install "with permissions" also has permission to ignore some safeguards when it runs, so that one that may be "clean" at the time of installation may also provide a path for later infection by something else that manages to use the same waiver. Just be careful.


There has been a lot of discussion about the "new restrictions in Win7" that prevent installing unsigned drivers, but the feature responsible has actually been present since WinXP. In Win7 it's turned on by default so that it's a little more difficult to override the warning, although you can still choose to install an unsigned file. (If you need to override a Win7 block, you may need to get more specific instructions for how to do it, although the messages you'll get when you attempt to give permission should be sufficient in most cases.)

You can turn off the "new" protection in Win7, although it's strongly urged that you don't do so, especially if you're not really sure of your ability to observe "safe and sanitary" practices without it. Malware for which the feature is helpful is much more common now than in the past.

If you're running Vista, turning ON the same protection feature as in Win7 by default might be considered, although few people appear to have done so.

If you're running WinXP there are sufficient other simpler methods of infecting you that driver infections of the kinds addressed by the feature are (for now?) seldom enough seen that it probably doesn't matter much whether this protection is on or off. (Current odds are 8:3 that you're already infected with something - 3:7 if you have very good AV.)


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Subject: RE: Tech: 'lacks a valid digital signature'
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 04 Nov 11 - 09:51 AM

Thanks for all the info, and esp. to John. If I download, it would be from the CuteReminder site itself, not from a shareware site. The money they ask is nothing compared to keeping my computer safe.

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Subject: RE: Tech: 'lacks a valid digital signature'
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 05 Nov 11 - 10:16 AM

I sent a post last night but it seems to have got lost somewhere in cyberspace.

What I was saying is that the CuteReminder programe seems pretty much the same as these two free programmes.
PNotes Portable

Stickies Portable

They have the added advantage that they do not need to be "Installed" on your PC - just unzip them on any hard drive and they will run from there. You can also keep he programme on a USB stick and run it when you are on a different computer - take your reminders to work...

They come packaged as part of the Portable Apps Suite, which is designed to run from USB and as such, each application is self contained, not needing to be installed, but can also be run from a location on your PC.
There is an increasingly large number of applications to choose from, and you only need to add the ones which you find useful. Libre Office will handle most MS Office files, and is better at compatibility than old versions of Word. The GIMP and Inkscape are excellent graphic programmes and Audacity for sound recording and editing is also available in a Portable version. FreeCommander is a good file manager.
There are portable versions of Firefox and Google Chrome browsers so you can take your bookmarks with you to a different computer.

All in all - well worth checking out.
Next PC I buy, I will be doing ALMOST EVERYTHING using the free Portable Apps.

Of course, unlike JohnInKansas I don't use MS Word professionally with it's hidden keyboard shortcuts, but not many people either need or know those cuts.

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Subject: RE: Tech: 'lacks a valid digital signature'
From: Bill D
Date: 05 Nov 11 - 12:02 PM

For the last couple of years, I have used Rainlender as a reminder program. It is quite friendly, and customizable.

(It does have a Pro version for 'sharing' appointments with other computers, but I have no need for that.)

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