Quick Bytes News – Autumn Edition

Greetings to you all

The undeclared and yet obvious evidence on trees everywhere on this sunny day is that Autumn has at last arrived. A little late and now a bit chilly but at least its here and so Westonbirt Arboretum will be happier that their gates will soon be frequented by tree and leaf spotters en-masse! (or for brexiteers, ‘by the bundle mate‘).

Another interesting arrival which I have yet to watch my way fully through is another  fascinating new documentary of epic length  (3 hours) by Adam Curtis which is now on BBC iPlayer named HyperNormalisation. So far I’ve only seen 20 minutes of it but in that small part I am already hooked on it! If its half as good as Adam Curtis’s last documentary Bitter Lake it will be fascinating. I will give the link to it at the bottom of this QBN post.

These days reality has become bigger than fiction across politics as we witness daily with the US elections pit dogfight, and our own rather ‘different’ pre brexit, shape shifted government, so nothing surprises me now (though Adam Curtis may change that).

So how can we be safer and sleep better in this concerning world?


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Take Five Campaign

I discovered TakeFive during a visit to my local building society and picked up a leaflet showing this very helpful resource which has a wealth of Video and other written downloadable materials on it. These offer very sound and easy to understand advice on how to spot and avoid fraud. You can watch their short introductory video here

The TakeFive website is friendly and easy to navigate and can be found here

So please do follow their guidance and perhaps share it with other family members who might also benefit from it.


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WiFi Hot Spot Advice

Although this website is written for an American audience the technology is essentially the same and so I have included it.

WiFi is everywhere now and because many people walk around with a portable pad, laptop or smartphone and they like to use the internet on these wherever they are, its now important to draw attention to using these devices with a better degree of security than is offered by many WiFi hot spots in metropolitan areas.

Not all are properly secured with WPA2 encryption and so another person could intercept data between your device and the router and so possibly raid your privacy, or worse!

Their website article is here


But all may not be completely safe at home or office if you use one of these WiFi Extenders ….

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From an article by ISP Review “The network security gurus at Pen Test Partners have warned owners of BT’s Wi-Fi Extender 300 (Broadband Extender 300 Kit) adapters to update its firmware after they uncovered a string of vulnerabilities that could result in your home WiFi network password being leaked. The 300 series WiFi extenders are single band (2.4GHz) 802.11n spec devices that offer a headline maximum wireless network speed of 300Mbps (150Mbps in 20MHz mode and 300Mbps in 40MHz mode) and as such they’ve largely been superseded by the dual-band 600 and faster series. Never the less you can still buy them for only £19.99 a pop.”………

So do beware of these devices, the full details of the models involved are here and the good news is that BT have issued a firmware fix to close the vulnerability which is mentioned at the base of the ISP Review web page.


ZZZzzzzz …

And finally – a ‘did you know’ question that is topical as we now have the lights on more until next Equinox. ‘Did you know that bright lights are wrecking your sleep  and possibly also your health?’

According to this article from HowToGeek our devices are too bright and we look at them too late into the evenings for quality sleep to be guaranteed!  In it is written “to break all the research down into a single sentiment: We’re happiest and healthiest when we experience crisp blue-white light in the morning and afternoon, dimmer and warmer light in the evening, and sleep in a truly dark room.”

As you would expect there are technical fixes for the various portable devices suggested here and if you like, even special glasses but I guess that the real fix is to know when to obey natural instincts and let your body simply relax!

Sleep well!


TTFN

I hope you found this issue of QBN helpful and informative and if you would like to discuss any articles in it or seek any additional help from me, then please do call, I love a chat!

PCT Door Magnet

btw – the Adam Curtiss documentary I mentioned earlier, that might keep me up too late if I fail to watch the clock is viewable for free from the BBC here

Greg

Quick Bytes News – October 2105

Up to 30 minutes FREE consultation time.

Cafe Conundrums of the Online Flavour?

Welcome to the October version of Quick Byte News

Many of us like to take our mobile devices into public recreational spaces and as we are such busy bees these days we tend to fill every moment.

With the explosion of hand held and lap/table toys we have its so easy to connect to anywhere and exchange all kinds of data. Naturally many will seek to check their bank account, maybe to see if they can afford something they are minded to buy or do. It has become so easy!

Those of us in the I.T engine room tend to pick up on what others are doing which is why I flag up things that come my way which the public ought to know of, especially when this concerns their own banking or other security.

Today I have read this account from Threatpost, a long established online security site. This one flags up concerns about ‘cookies’ (non edible type) and how smart crooks might be able to use them to break into your online security and perhaps steal your data or money.

Previously cookies were fairly innocuous little text files which reported rather ordinary info on your browsing back to websites when you revisited them, mostly harmless and helpful stuff. (unless you have ‘drifted’ from the accepted norm, of course).

So what is this dire warning? You can read it all here.

But if your not minded to take it all in, the part that particularly caught my eyes is below.

“The researchers said the vulnerabilities are present in a number of heavily-trafficked sites—they identify Google and Bank of America by name—and added that a number of consequences could include privacy violations, account hijacking and financial loss.

“You are on a network which the attacker can control (such as at Starbucks or an open WiFi). The attacker temporarily hijacks your browser to insert cookies for a targeted site,” Weaver told Threatpost. “Now, sometime later when you visit the site (on a different network, under different circumstances), your browser presents the bad cookies to the site, and the site acts on the bad cookies in a site-dependent way. e.g, it could just simply track the user, or it could be a full XSS attack buried in the cookie itself.”

This  warning is probably a little ahead of the bad guys (‘n’ gals) for a little while so just for now I don’t think I will be giving up my out of home online habits, but do think it a good idea to be proactive in alerting people.

Your browser can be set to automatically delete cookies on exit of the programme, however this may impact some of the websites you regularly use. So its best to set aside some time for testing if deleting cookies affects those sites you need them active for, at a time when it isn’t a pressure on you to use the site(s). Its a judgement you need to make to balance the convenience with the risk.


Have you considered which browser is best yet?

Do check out the Privacy & Security assessments sections that are done by various online test houses in articles like this one.

These can be very useful in offering you a clear picture of browser features generally, although I suggest that you go directly to the manufacturers own website to download a browser you want. This is because many file distributor websites do earn revenues by adding advertising code to their ‘free downloads’. Otherwise you could end up with annoying new applications that annoy you with distracting ads!


Smartphones & Tablets

I read this week that up to 85% of smart enabled devices may be vulnerable simply because their operating systems are not updated, or applications with web access on them are not updated. The article is here. So if you use yours for anything financial, you know what to do.


Spybot Anti-Beacon for Windows 10 – for those of you affected by Windows 10!

“This is a small utility designed to block and stop the various tracking (aka telemetry) issues that come with Windows 10. Seeing the bunch of incomplete or broken scripts to disable tracking in Windows 10, and the tools that install adware or worse in exchange for their function, we wrapped disabling tracking up in a small tool that’s free and clean. Might or might not become part of the next Spybot, since it’s similar to immunization, but it’s needed now, and it’s still work in progress as more and more information evolves”.
https://forums.spybot.info/showthread.php…


Naturally I will be very happy to help with any tasks mentioned above for you, perhaps as part of a general clean up / service of your PC or laptop.

Please give me a call (or text) on 0757 900 1747, or email – pct@phonecoop.coop

Greg Dance

PC Techniques