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.

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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 – The Low Fat Digest

To the festive edition of QBN, welcome!

I am writing QBN two counties away from my home abode at a friends home where I have enjoyed a welcome change of scenery in Devon!

I feel glad to be unshackled from my previous work world by not being tied to an office five days a week because of phone and computer constraints as we all were before this new work place portability became possible.

Along this line, some new generation domestic SMART devices have appeared in recent times and have attracted concerns.


Internet of Things (IOT) – Unwrapped

For these things you need to be aware that in common with pets, the joy of having IOT’s comes with a need to be responsible for having them, or trouble is guaranteed.

I have mentioned these networked WiFi connected IOT’s before from the viewpoint that they can be a bit concerning if not carefully set up by users. Changing the default administrative password is an absolute must to secure them from miscreants as is checking occasionally if a new firmware upgrade is needed for device(s) to plug security holes in them.

Its no good if your toaster becomes a traitor or your light bulbs a liability, is it?

Worse still is that WiFi capabilities extend to the playrooms of the innocent as well, even children’s toys can be ‘Smart’ and so the risk to privacy can be more worrying.

I won’t dwell at this time on another concerning risk posed by a growing body of concerned scientists and health practitioners on WiFi emissions from devices like IOT, and in particular those from toys and baby monitors. I will only say that when Lloyds of London no longer exclude claims for harm associated with WiFi emissions from many types of device to human health then I will no longer mention it.


Though the gift buying season is largely over (unless you are buying now for next Christmas), I also offer you this …


Mozilla to the Rescue!

“This gift-giving season, Mozilla is helping you choose gadgets that respect your online privacy and security” How do you know if that gift comes with privacy included?

We did the research to help you decide. Because Santa should be the only one watching you this holiday season”.

source:- http://advocacy.mozilla.org/privacynotincluded

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If you have got these devices already in your home there is a repository of good advice here 


Firefox Quantum

A new and much better Firefox ‘broke cover’ in November and is giving its competitors a real run for their money and is a ‘country mile’ ahead of them!

In fact according to this Slant browser comparative website page, ‘Young Foxey’ out performs Google Chrome and leaves other browser donkeys gasping!

Source:- https://www.slant.co/versus/5226/5225/~mozilla-firefox_vs_google-chrome

According to Mozilla:

“It’s fast. Really fast. It’s over twice as fast as Firefox from 6 months ago, built on a completely overhauled core engine with brand new technology from our advanced research group, and graced with a clean, modern interface. Today is the first of several releases we’re calling Firefox Quantum”

Naturally Mozilla have taken a lot of care to ensure compatibility with plug-ins in their new browser and so some old and not yet updated versions won’t work with the new one. The new Firefox will automatically disable any non compatibles it finds when installing for you.

Before updating you could visit this Mozilla webpage where the status of your plugins is reported to you and updated versions offered.

Screen Readers

Mozilla are busy working to get full compatibility with screen readers for visually impaired users, and to help you have offered an Extended Support Release (ESR) version to keep compatibility.

You can read all about it here

Download – You can download the speedy young fox here


GDPR – General Data Protection Regulations

Effective 25th May 2018

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“The aim of the GDPR is to protect all EU citizens from privacy and data breaches in an increasingly data-driven world that is vastly different from the time in which the 1995 directive was established.

Although the key principles of data privacy still hold true to the previous directive, many changes have been proposed to the regulatory policies; the key points of the GDPR as well as information on the impacts it will have on business can be found here.

An introductory short video is here and I suggest we all take note of what it will mean to our businesses! More videos are here

My own view at this pre regulation stage is that as it is intended that USA and other non EU states businesses holding data on EU citizens will also be subject to GDPR, the UK exit from the EU might not be a route of escape from its reach. Article

I like its ‘Privacy by Design’ concept and that we become controllers of our own data!

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This checklist from the Information Commissioners Office is a good starting place on how to approach GDPR. https://ico.org.uk/media/1624219/preparing-for-the-gdpr-12-steps.pdf

Well that’s it for now, have a Happy New Year!

Greg

For more regular updates and newsy snippets see my facebook & twitter feeds ….

facebook – @pctechniquesstroud             twitter – @PcTechniques

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Quick Bytes News – Autumnal Snippets

Here we go again with the Autumn release…

Back to school and an oncoming Christmas, but with Halloween & Guy Fawkes double spook shows in the way. I may try celebrating the Equinox this year for a change on some hilltop if the weather permits, (well, got to try it once!).

Talking of spook shows I see that GCC (our local retrograde County Cabal) are continuing with their mass burn monster incinerator at Quedgeley, where peaceful protestors are arrested for trying to keep our air breathable and our poll tax charges lower.

Caring is carrying a high price these days.

To attempt a brightening up the scenery now, I offer you this;


Android Mobiles Security

 

In today’s world most of us carry a smart phone or tablet, the majority of which are based on Google’s own Android operating system. Many of us began using these for web based functions like browsing and email. Then also along came thousands of Apps and games which often are free which according to their creators ‘enhance the online experience’ for us when using smart devices.

If  that is all there is too it then this post ends now, which it doesn’t.

With an historic headline like this …

“Android Was 2016’s Most Vulnerable Product”

Android needed a big review. >source<

 


So some clever and well intentioned people decided to run tests on how safe it might be to do your online banking or other sensitive personal data transfers from an Android smart device and they were concerned. Its so easy to say ‘yes’ to download an App and then grant it access to all centres of your device when it asks for permission. But what have you done?

Firstly the App may not behave as it appears to offer, remember ‘free’ has its price so beneficiaries will exist somewhere to it being on your device.

Did it come from Googles own Play Store? If not how sure of it can you be when it hasn’t been independently verified by them? Even then caution is advised. Do you really need the App anyway?

If you do need it and would like it tested before installing it you could upload it here for AV-C online analysis

Its creators, AV Comparatives have written of it as follows;

…. “malware analysis tool, which is available free to all users. It is a static analysis system for detecting suspected Android malware and adware and providing statistics about it. Users can upload APK files and see the results in various analysis mechanisms”…

AV – C’s regular bulletins are a very useful and detailed source of their testing of security and privacy vendors products, for example this came from their Aug 2017 report on Mobile Security.

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In their own words ….

“The review mainly focuses on the security features – anti-malware, anti-theft, and privacy – and only mentions further functionalities briefly. The structure of each product report is identical, allowing readers to compare products easily.
The main purpose of a mobile security product is to protect users and their devices from potential harm inflicted by malicious apps, fraudulent mails, or phishing URLs.”


Google Play Protect

Is a new set of protective features that Google have bundled into their ‘Play Services’ feature as of July 2017, so its a good idea to check that it is running on your Android phone. From an article …

“Google Play Protect combines various Android security tools, like app scanning, previously known as Verify Apps, browser protection and an anti-theft feature in the form of Google’s Find My Device app.

Google Play Protect was first launched at the company’s I/O Conference in May and will roll out to all Android devices running Google Play Services 11 or higher” source

One thing though …
“Smartphones often contain a lot of personal data. Luckily Google continuously adds new security to Android. Unfortunately, only 7 percent run the latest Android version (Nougat)”

Manufacturers of smart devices are notorious for delaying for long periods the fixes to security that Android has proved needed to lock them down against malicious code on the web.


“Project Treble”

This may be fixed with Google’s “Project Treble” sometime ahead soonish says this article from Slashgear. So better times ahead but what about now?

If your manufacturer hasn’t got around to updating your phone to ‘Nougat’ yet your best off following the best practice principles of;

  • Remove all junk and unnecessary Apps on the device
  • Install a quality Anti Virus/Malware App (see above) and check it occasionally to be fully functioning
  • Don’t click on links sent to you in texts, Apps and emails that you don’t feel right about, listen to your instincts first.
  • Beware of using unsecured (no password or WEP encrypted) WiFi connections in public places especially for anything sensitive, they are not safe! Best to always do your important stuff at a trusted location like home or office if you can.

 

You might be wondering if having an Android at all is a good idea? I think my answer would be that it will be once new developments above are in place throughout the manufacturer supply chain.

If waiting for that seems like a worrying idea then an iPhone iPad may well be better for now and there are many available in second use markets if a new one is prohibitively expensive. Though again, always use Apps you download only from the Apple Store.

That is all for now.

 

Greg

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Quick Bytes News – Spring 2017

Welcome to the Spring edition of QBN.

In this edition I cover a recent tightening of motoring law which affects how we use our mobile devices while driving. The accident statistics prove that  the changes needed doing because so many drivers are seemingly addicted to using their devices, any time, anywhere and regardless of hazards.

Also PCT has a ‘partnership’ with the Phone Coop for broadband and other services.

Office 365 or Office 2016? What’s the difference?

Mozilla have published their Survey of their Community Members views on Online Privacy.

And to end I add a touch of humour, courtesy of a cluster of late night mirth masters!

I hope you enjoy this edition.


Movable Beasts

My first article is about the recent change in UK law (1st March) that concerns every driver of any vehicle using a portable device whilst driving, though I do go a little further …

Naturally a device such as a Mobile Phone, Sat-Nav, Bluetooth Toys, or Pod Player is a technical device and so you may see my reason in mentioning them, but also because I am also a road user as are those I love, and accidents are increasingly being caused by self distracted zombie lemmings who use devices while they drive.

I now brand this category of hardware as Plod Magnets!

The gist of the new situation (as I understand it) is that anything that we take our hands off the wheel to use while the vehicles engine is running, (whether or not it its wheels are turning), is putting us at risk of infringing the Law defined as ‘Careless Driving’.

Naturally most of us carry smart phones these days which easily grab our attention in many ways according to how many App driven social media services you connect to, or simply by using text services or just the phones calling function!

Can we resist its little beeps, vibrations, or other notifications as we drive? We have to.

To see more details of this law’s definitions and how our doing quite ordinary things like tweaking your lover’s hair or your Sat-Nav or merely eating at the wheel can put you in the wrong, you might take a look at Automobile Association “Careless Driving”

Is there a safe way to use a phone & Drive?

No. According to the article this could also rule out Hands Free phoning or we take the risk that if an accident happened when doing so it might be argued that lack of full attention had contributed to the accident.

Employers also beware because if you expect your staff on the road to be in communication as they drive then you might become liable also.

So what can we do?

Phones

It seems that using the ‘Airplane Mode’ when ever the cars engine is running is a minimum safe guard to use and don’t be caught even touching a device while moving. There are cameras out there now aiming to snare you and these are fitted into specially set up lorries and elsewhere. Many reasons are given in this Automobile Association “Mobile Phones” article for any of you not so far persuaded of this.

Sat-Nav’s

Best to set it before you start the engine and don’t touch it unless you’re parked with the engine off.

Other Toys ….

The same goes for Hair Driers, Shavers, Sandwiches, Road Rage Gestures, Petting Animals, Stargazing, Rubber Necking, Reading Billboards, Hunting for Pokemon or Crop Circles, Applying Makeup or other Facial Enhancements, Eyeing up Scantily Clad Pedestrians, Re-securing Escaped Pets or Children, Smoking, Hot Political Discussion or shouting at Politicians on the Jeremy Vine Show, Any Passionate Activities, FGA – Fuel Gauge Anxiety (were flying on vapours Capt’n), Watching TV or Gaming on Smart Toys, Fiddling with your Home Hive Devices (or anything else) ……  any more?

Btw Please don’t fall asleep while driving because you have much less to occupy your mind!

Happy travels!


Phone Coop Offer 

PC Techniques has formed a partnership with The Phone Co-op to offer you a great deal on phone calls, line rental and broadband. You can now get our ‘Half price broadband offer for 6 months’ or get a £10 credit when you switch to one of our mobile bundles including Fairphone.

Quote PC Techniquesand the code ‘AF0485’ to receive a £10 credit on your first bill when you switch to one of our mobile bundles.

You can call them on 01608 434 000

Office 2016 vs. Office 365 – What is the difference?

There are two ways you can buy Microsoft Office. You can buy the traditional Microsoft Office 2016 product, or get it as part of an Office 365 software subscription. Here’s the difference. (via HowtoGeek)


Privacy Survey Results by Mozilla

Last month, some 30,000 Mozilla community members responded to our privacy survey.

Here’s what we learned from those respondents —  they are everyday Internet users from countries like France, Australia, Germany, Canada, the U.S. and the U.K.

A supporting story is below …

 

 

 

 


Alpha Fail – Humour!    

Who wants to be Second?

Strangely, some other nations are seeking to smooch with ‘Him’ for ‘second’ place!

This website offers a cocktail of humorous national contentions for second place as they vie for the favour from the infamous incumbent of The White House.

“Its Huge”


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