Quick Bytes – News Breakings

Welcome to the Spring edition of QBN.

Our weather (a dull and cold) continues to give reasons to scan the sky and ponder if it ever was like this when we were kids! I say not.

This edition has a lot in it and in several cases this came to us as features in recent news. Concerns about the fragility of personal privacy and democracy are very real now.

On a brighter note I have been spending more time with Mac’s and have diversified my services to include them, you’ll soon see why …


Mac’s and Malware

Recently and in the space of only 10 days I found ‘MacKeeper’ malware on 3 Mac PC’s. Yes its time to protect your Mac!

One in particular case had an awkward outcome after its malware infection was cleared using Malwarebytes, it no longer booted! This caused me to seek guidance from Apple Support and from this I learned that their preferred anti-malware app at this time is MalwareBytes for Mac. Since then I have also heard that BitDefender can be very effective. So if your Mac needs a matching umbrella …

Mac’s, unlike Windows 10 have no annoying personalised adverts that menace the eyes from flashing tiles every time you view the desktop. But I’m not impressed with the way they heavily price new devices that then have less, or even no USB ports!

Clearly their hardware design division needs a good flushing out, down the drain into the Microsoft Windows 10 design bin!


Recycling – Binned!

Q. When is your data that you deleted to the Recycle Bin gone for ever?

A. When you empty the Recycle Bin? – Nope! It could be recovered using one of many utilities that scan the disk for the files and if they are still recoverable, it can restore them, OK so far but not if you are using a new type Solid State Drive instead of an old style spinning platten disk.

SSD’s are brilliant in the main. They are much faster than old style hard drives so everything from booting up to scanning is done in a comparatively short snap! They don’t break if you bump them when they are on because they dont have any moving parts to crash together.They use less power so batteries last longer in portables.

But – when you delete a file from the Recycle Bin – its gone and I mean irretrievably due to a feature known as ‘trim’ which you cannot switch off. Geeks go here

Imaging a scenario where you have deleted a folder or files and in the back of your mind they are not out of reach yet because they are recycled. Then you discover that for some reason you want to clear some junk off your disk, maybe to make space for the next bloated Windows 10 ‘Creators Update’ (which is 8Gb in size and can be too big for some notebooks so they get left behind!)

To do this you run a utility like CCleaner or the Windows Disk Cleanup or similar which clears a lot of junk out, which is great except it usually clears the Recycling Bin also by default, in which were those files or folders that you then want to retrieve. Gone!

I could mention that you could use Stroud Cloud for your backups from where they could be retrieved, but I’m sure you already knew that 🙂 www.stroud-cloud.co.uk


GDPR – Here it comes, we have until May 25th to be ready!

Previously I have written of this approaching change in my December 2107 edition which is fast approaching and will become enforceable on 25th May (1 month from now)

So looking at this introduction document now would give you a good idea of your part in this play. My impression so far is that for most of us small biz folk this is a mostly procedural tax on your time and effort so that if you are ever asked, you could prove that you have documented your responses to requests for conformity & assured your customers that you have done it.

You will need to have proceduralised how you would deal with requests concerning your holding of data on them. OK so job done if you have done that?

Not quite! You will also need to be securely storing personal data to prevent breaches of your systems which might allow a ‘slitherin’ low-life to steal it! Otherwise you will have to report the breach and then answer a blizzard of enquiries and maybe pay a heafty fine!

So preparation is essential!

No more exclamation marks now as I move on to …………………


Microsoft Windows 7 – The Redmond gang are still not wishing to become popular, so are proving how well they can avoid that accolade by withholding new security updates from Windows 7 machines if you don’t have an antivirus installed.

Windows 7 will continue receiving updates until at least January 14th 2020 so its not caused by deprecation.  So if your Windows 7 has stopped updating you would need to either use the built in Anti Virus (Defender) or install an one that’s approved by them. If you need to explore this more an HTG account of it is here


(Not so) Smart TV’s

A good article here from HTG on why buying a ‘smart TV’ is not a smart thing at all and how it can make you a victim in several ways.


Do we still mention Facebook in polite conversations any more?

 

A reputation, once proud and sleek has hit an inevitable pride-berg and sunk!

And a shadowy cohort of suited assasins of democracy have emerged from London and an unknown outback town of Canada (Canadian data firm Aggregate IQ (AIQ) ). This bunch of slithering fly by nights boasted of their exploits of breaking the UK out of the EU Channel 4 News story here, and in Cambridge Analytica’s case, getting Trump elected!

The complete story line on the undermining of our democracies can be found here, and to me makes political thriller fiction look needing by comparison!

I expect that by now you will have either deleted your Facebook accounts or at least tightened down your privacy settings and deleted all those nonsensical spying apps lurking in your profile. How to Remove Third-Party Facebook Apps From Your Account

Do be cautious of other social media platforms privacy settings also, and of course the biggest and longest established privacy vacuum of them all, Google and its colourful Chrome browser and indiscrete Android smart-ware!

Google is feverishly trying to get its GDPR act together before 25th May and lets face it it has a very long way to go after a decade of doing exactly the opposite. An email I received from them describes a new User Deletion Tool to be rolled out by them soon, which I hope doesn’t act like its poorly worded title!

Its no longer thinkable to wander through the web and expect it to be a stroll in Finnsbury Park on a sunny Sunday in summer. Better to prepare for a winter expedition into Narnia when the witch has a hangover!

How to Check If Cambridge Analytica Has Your Facebook Info

Just head to this page and you’ll see a box labeled “Was My Information Shared?”

Finally for now, Zuckerberg has admitted that a ‘handful’ of other companies like Cambridge Analytica have also been ‘harvesting’ data from his platform, so we can only wonder which will be the most shocking news story as time rolls on … Facebook’s data or Trumps war!


Mozilla to the rescue again! – a new Firefox extension can be isolate Facebook from other sites inside your browser, it certainly needs locking in somewhere (so might Zuckerberg).

And these are other free Firefox extensions that can help you keep privacy safe across the wider web outside of Facebook and Google.

Untitled

Boost your digital fitness with a data cleanse

Mozilla and friends have put up this website so that you be taken on a journey of discovering where all your data went and how you can get it back. A Data Detox is the first important step closely followed by greater awareness.


Well, I think that is quite enough from me for now so I will sign off and wish you all a better summer than some of our so called ‘Leaders’ might wish for us.

Keep safe!

Greg

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Quick Bytes News – December 2015

PCT Door Magnet

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seasons Greetings, and welcome to the December edition of Quick Bytes News.

 

In this edition I have reviewed online data storage services and compared them to our own Stroud Cloud service.

This is an exercise I do from time to time to ensure that our own services are ahead of, or at least in line with competitors elsewhere.

In my research I soon found that some competitors offerings have changed…. and then changed back, another was bought up and closed down, and others have morphed into bigger versions of the same but not become any more secure.


 

As a backdrop to my writing I offer you these images from the web which illustrate my points.

One can see quickly that as this developing and hotly headline grabbing industry tries to bamboozle the customers with ever more features, name changes and falling prices, it blindly follows in the wake of predecessor businesses that did the same and then saw a need for dramatic U-Turns or sellouts / buyouts to get-out of the doo-doo that they raced into.

One PCWORLD article writer wrote …

“Office 365 subscribers aren’t the only people getting cuts in their storage limits. Starting in 2016, free users will only receive 5GB of free storage, down from 15GB. Microsoft is also discontinuing the 15GB camera roll storage bonus that allowed mobile users to upload their pictures to OneDrive. Like the free tier, the camera roll will stop in early 2016. As with Office 365 subscribers, anyone on the free tier and/or using the camera roll will have “at least” 12 months to pull their data out of OneDrive and get below the new limit. Microsoft is also doing away with the 100GB and 200GB OneDrive paid plans priced at $1.99 and $3.99 per month respectively”.

Recent changes to online storage providers
Recent changes to online storage providers

Wikipedia - Onedrive Wuala

 

 

 

 

 

 

As well as rising prices and in some cases, falling quota limits, I have also seen that it is still a small minority of online storage providers who actually offer SECURE Backup Data Storage of the Stroud Cloud variety!

The vast majority only offer unencrypted data sharing (or replication) services.

These are OK for replicating non important data across multiple platforms such as mobile devices and PC’s and for sharing files between group members, but it must be kept in mind that should one device be lost or stolen then the thief may well have access to all of the data shared by the group member who’s device is now in their hands.

Further as these providers are in a state of constant flux and subject to the changes I mention above, can you be assured that the contractual obligations you signed up for will be observed fully by the new owner of the service?

If you read my November edition of Quick Bytes News you will have seen that The Safe Harbor Agreement between the EU and USA has been found by the highest court in the EU, to be unlawful. So where your data is stored does now matter, legally speaking.


 

Now I will compare this with my own Stroud Cloud Data Storage.

As you may know I set out to create a backup storage system which is fully automated so ensuring that your data backups are not overlooked.

I also set out to ensure that no readable data was out on the web unless it was encrypted before it left your computer, this way any interception of it or theft of it by any means would prove fruitless because only you hold its encryption key.

To further reassure you I also offer that you can log into your own data storage portal and manage your data sets, this also enables you to restore data yourself. Otherwise I offer to do this for you.

I also set out to get your data returned to you when needed quickly, instead of relying on broadband speed to get it back because when the chips are down you need it fast. So I offered delivery via physical delivery and restoration of your data.

Your data is only stored in Stroud, never elsewhere!

 

Other Stroud Cloud – Advantages

  • We don’t keep changing our business name or product name.
  • We don’t get bought out by a competitor with all the unforeseen changes for customers data.
  • When we create and store your drive images you don’t have to reinstall Windows and then go through all of the 100’s of updates, restarts and configuration changes all over again!

Pricing

From £38:- for a storage account and client installation / setup PLUS a full years storage (up to 25Gb), additional storage at £6.00 per 10Gb block. So its not expensive! Full details on my Stroud Cloud website here


 

Last Month I featured the perils of WiFi but this month I look into the future to bring you the opportunities of LiFi.

LiFi is a light frequency broadband technology that uses light frequencies (unlike radio frequencies of WiFi) and so this may prove much less potentially harmful to living beings than WiFi appears to.

LiFi would be transmitted to your device from light bulbs in your home that emit no light when not needed during daylight periods, but do emit broadband or other data signals. This means your signals are not overlapping with those from adjacent properties and it means an almost infinite number of frequencies are available compared to WiFi, for which the available frequencies are becoming exhausted.

The full article is here


As always please do let me know if I can help you with your technological needs which include Repairs to Devices and Networks, Installations, General Guidance, Tuition and of course Secure Data Storage .

Also I am grateful for your feedback

 

Quick Bytes News November 2015

Up to 30 minutes FREE consultation time.
Up to 30 minutes FREE consultation time.

Welcome to the November edition of Quick Bytes News. In this edition I cover the recent change in EU law that now restricts the open door of the Safe Harbor Pact set up 15 years ago between the EU and the USA.

Up until last month data in the EU could be transferred over to the USA without any formal process being completed, all that has now changed.

Then I cover the newest intentions of Microsoft to coerce Windows 10 into your PC, beware!

Finally I offer alternatives for your consideration from the well proven Linux stables, Mint and Ubuntu.


European Court of Justice rules ‘Safe Harbor’ Pact invalid
Europe’s highest court has ruled that the 15 year old Safe Harbor pact between the EU and US is no longer valid.

The ruling is likely to mean that personal data should no longer be transferred to US bodies solely on the basis they are Safe Harbor certified.

Organisations will now be required to take additional steps to safeguard personal data that they make available to US companies, including cloud services providers. The decision will likely drive up compliance costs for many organisations.”

There is an article on the issue on the BBC website at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-34442618 The relevant part reads:
“Personal data should no longer be transferred to US bodies solely on the basis they are Safe Harbour-certified.
Instead to authorise the “export” of the data, the two bodies involved must draw up and sign what’s referred to as “model contract clauses”

Privacy obligations are described in detail in this document produced by The Information Commissioners Office

Model Contract ClausesInternational transfers of personal data
Data Protection Act
20120228  V1.0

See – https://ico.org.uk/media/1571/model_contract_clauses_international_transfers_of_personal_data.pdf

“It will involve lots of contracts between lots of parties and it’s going to be a bit of a nightmare administratively,” commented Nicola Fulford, head of data protection at the UK law firm, Kemp Little.
“The model clauses themselves are standard form – what you need to put into them are details of the data involved and the security steps being taken.
“It’s not that we’re going to be negotiating them individually, as the legal terms are mostly fixed, but it does mean a lot more paperwork and they have legal implications.”

All of this will drive up costs and potentially cause delays.”

More perspectives here


Stroud Cloud – Safer Harbour – I think!

A little plug for our own Data Storage is in order because as many of you know our Stroud Cloud Data Storage service  will never send your encrypted data anywhere else, it stays in Stroud! Please see here for details.


Windows 10 – Again!

Microsoft Announce they will be sending Windows 10 to you BEFORE they do it (this time, unlike last time).

The ‘option’ of the Windows 10 upgrade window is again being forced open by Microsoft as they try harder to gain the momentum on this skeptically received new OS.

In their own words;

“We will soon be publishing Windows 10 as an “Optional Update” in Windows Update for all Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 customers. Windows Update is the trusted, logical location for our most important updates, and adding Windows 10 here is another way we will make it easy for you to find your upgrade.

Early next year, we expect to be re-categorizing Windows 10 as a “Recommended Update”. Depending upon your Windows Update settings, this may cause the upgrade process to automatically initiate on your device. Before the upgrade changes the OS of your device, you will be clearly prompted to choose whether or not to continue. And of course, if you choose to upgrade (our recommendation!), then you will have 31 days to roll back to your previous Windows version if you don’t love it”.

So be warned if you don’t like having your choices stolen watch out for their updates as they may be rather huge (last time it was 3.6Gigabytes).

http://blogs.windows.com/windowsexperience/2015/10/29/making-it-easier-to-upgrade-to-windows-10


Alternatives do exist and they can be free!

Maybe it really is time to look for a free and non coercive operating system, maybe one like Ubuntu or Mint from Linux and bundled with them you get a free Office compatible suite of programs, Libre Office. In this suite you get a Word processor,  Spreadsheet, Database and Presentation programs much like MS Office. I have used the free Windows based version of Libre Office for a year and am very happy with it.

The great offerings from the open source (Linux, Firefox, Thunderbird etc) community are well worth taking a close look at and they offer a much reduced attack profile from malware compared to Microsoft.


As always if I can help you do give me a call

Finally to help you I have published my Charges Tarrif on my website now. I have kept these to a minimum as best as possible. They are here

Greg