Quick Bytes – Summer Holiday Edition

Greetings To All

I hope that those of you who have taken a work break enjoyed it or are still doing so if sat inside somewhere waiting for the rain/hail storm or associated winds to abate ( otherwise why would you be reading this when on holiday?).

Certainly this summer is proving that weather cannot be relied on to follow any previous ‘norms’ any more (probably our own collective fault but I won’t dwell on that obvious point right now).

For those of you yet to escape from ‘your norm’ I wish you happy journeys and suitable accomodation and weather!

In this edition I will cover considerations that affect both PC’s & Macs.

 

email – Changes to be aware of

In recent months many email providers have set out to achieve better security for customers by pro actively snaring that lousy spam that we all hate and also stopping as best as they can the more dangerous ‘spear phishing’ offerings from scammers and crooks who target us more efficiently than before.

Certainly I have received more of those emails recently myself in common with many and the danger was first in the zip file attachment on earlier ones, and more recently in a hyperlink in the message body. So what can be done as the crooks get smarter?

The first thing is to be aware of is any dodgy wording styles you see in any email you recieve, even one purporting to come from a known contact because until all email providers have caught up with these changes to their systems its still possible to spoof an email to fool the recipient by disguising the senders real email address. (see DKIM & SPF below)

Next is to beware of zip file attachments. My previous anti virus didn’t alert me to the attachments by snaring them, but because I am naturally cautious I didn’t open them. The rogue emails were from people I didn’t know and each one had a differennt email domain source, very suspicious! So I only I saved them to my Desktop and, because I doubted the ‘Clean’ report that came from my now previous anti virus (Panda) and (surprisingly) my anti malware (Malwarebytes), I posted it them up to virustotal where it lit up all over the screen as dangerous!

Its not good that many well known AV vendors also didn’t see the danger! So now I use one that did see it, Kaspersky (subscription), though BitDefender would have done if I didn’t find its console irritating. Those weren’t the only 2 that caught it but they are the ones I am more familiar with.

So unless you are very confident, your best friend is still Suspicion and its best pal, Caution.


SPF & DKIM

Though this might appear like a 1980’s pop queen duo its a lot less pretty but for reasons I mentioned above, its now much more necessary and will affect your outbound emails being successfully received so do read on.

SPF & DKIM are each little records that need to be added to your email domains DNS  settings so that when you send an email  from any other source than your own registered email domain, it will carry the necessary credentials to get through the ever tighter mail gateways of the recipient’s email service. Otherwise it may be dumped in the spam skip or simply ‘dropped’ by the server because the address of the sender system differs from the one the email is usually sent from.One of many mass send email online platforms is MailChimp and as an example they have offer this advice  …

“DMARC stands for Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance, and takes effect if an email fails certain types of authentication. DMARC policies benefit the email community as a whole because they help prevent phishing, spoofing, and the delivery of fraudulent emails. However, strict DMARC policies can sometimes misidentify your legitimate marketing emails as fraudulent and reject them.”

They add … “To improve deliverability, we encourage you to use a From email address at a domain owned by you or your organization, like firstname.lastname@mycompany.com. Not only will this help avoid delivery issues, it can help your subscribers recognize your brand. ” source http://kb.mailchimp.com/accounts/email-authentication/about-dmarc

As the web page shows the approach to DMARC when using a free email provider or a registered  email domain diffe,r so an enlightened approach is needed. But its worth getting yours set up before too many of your emails become lost.


Time is up and I must leave NOW, but Windows wants to Update!

We all realise a little late that we must stop working on our laptops and because time deliberately accelerates when we least want it to, we have to move on promptly. Perhaps because we need to make it to an appointment, catch a train or bus or because the partners birthday party begins in less than 1 hour but Windows then freezes us to the spot by forcing us to wait for updates to complete! The tension and self recrimination wheels can begin turning which might spoil your next meeting experience unless …. you do this.

  • Click on any empty area of the desktop or pressing Windows+D on your keyboard. Then, press Alt+F4 to access the Shut Down Windows dialog box.
  • To shut down without installing updates, select “Shut down” from the drop-down list.

For those of you wanting to be geeky you could add the following line to a batch file you save on your desktop and run it when the need arises.

shutdown -s -t 0


Mac’s & Viruses / Malware

Before the current time the sound & safe Mac was a safe system where viruses rarely made in-roads but this is now increasingly under threat from web based attacks through the browsers as you traverse the web. Most ‘nasties’ that affect PC’s still don’t run on Macs but the number that do are increasing steadily so I think it is now time to flag this up and offer guidance.

I went looking for answers and found this report from a verifiable source which gives a full review of the reasoning for anti virus on Mac’s and offers ideas on prevention both through extra user care, and by installing an anti virus which it gives comparatrive reviews on and across several vendors of the programme.

It is a long read but as you might expect its worth it by comparison to becoming infected, especially so if the infection encrypts your data and ransomes it back to you for a fat fee! As always I can help you with working to an understanding and discussing actions, please contact me for this.

Please do keep in mind that by backing up your data to my Stroud Cloud you will be able to fully recover your data in that event, if lightning strikes differently.


That is all for now, have a great late summer while the sun still shines.

 

If I can assist, advise or entertain you further in I.T related topics do give me a call!

 

Warm regards

 

Greg Dance

Free Time
Have up to 30 minutes FREE consultation time!

 

Quick Bytes News – Spring 2016

 

Welcome to the spring edition of QBN!

Some of you may be wondering where the March & April editions went, and the simple truth is that for several reasons I have been just too busy to get them written! So sorry about those absences but I hope this edition will make up for the missed postings!

 

In this edition I will draw together some of the news from the IT arena in a form which is not overly detailed so that I get more into a single edition.

If any of you wish to know more on one topic or more do let me know and I may then make it an article or feature in a later edition if enough interest is there for this. Otherwise of course you can ring me for a chat!

So here we go …


Obsolescence – the inevitable process.

Obsolescence is one of the inevitable processes when something is evolving and as you all know I.T. epitomises this.

So the first story I have of this is that if you are still using Windows XP or Vista and your chosen browser is Google Chrome then you need to be aware that Google have discontinued updates support for it.  So because Microsoft themselves discontinued updates 2 years ago also for XP and soon will do likewise for Vista, a move on to Windows 7 is really the best one for you to make (unless you don’t mind the very unfamiliar desktop of the more recent Windows 8.x & 10 operating systems).

Windows 7 updates are good for another 4 years or so and despite Microsofts best persuasive coercions many of us will hang on to this OS until a need drives us on.

 

End of Sales Microsoft Windows 7 & 8.x

End of sales refers to the date when a particular version of Windows is no longer shipped to retailers or Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). Examples of OEMS are Dell and Toshiba—PC manufacturers who often preinstall Windows software.

This table gives end of sales dates for specific Windows operating systems.

Client operating systems and updates

End of sales for Windows preinstalled

 

Windows 7 Professional October 31, 2016
Windows 8 June 30, 2016
Windows 8.1 October 31, 2016

 

* Note that when the retail software product reaches its end of sales date, it can still be purchased through OEMs (the company that made your PC) until it reaches the end of sales date for PCs with Windows preinstalled.

Source:- http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/lifecycle#section_2

Security support for Windows 7 and 8, will end in 2020 and 2023 respectively.

 

Apple Quicktime Player

Its best to remove Apple’s Quicktime media player from your systems because its no longer supported and lets face it, its not necessary either.

“Computers running QuickTime for Windows will continue to work after support ends. However, using unsupported software may increase the risks from viruses and other security threats,” US-CERT said. “The only mitigation currently available is to uninstall QuickTime for Windows.” Public disclosure of the two bugs hastens the urgency for users to distance themselves from QuickTime for Windows. Both vulnerabilities expose Windows machines to remote code execution”.

See more at: Apple Deprecates QuickTime For Windows, Won’t Patch New Flaws https://wp.me/p3AjUX-uxZ

Privacy not Piracy

The piracy I refer to is when a web server uses various methods to steal your privacy for targeted advertising.

PC Techniques will be releasing a new service soon to help with keeping out the invaders, but until then here are some reasons to take notice of the question of ‘why’!

 

Twitter’s global operations and data transfer

Twitter Trouble.jpg

In the small print has crept in this …

“Our services are a window to the world. They are primarily designed to help people share information around the world instantly.

To bring you these services, we operate globally. Twitter, Inc., based in the United States, and Twitter International Company, based in Ireland, (collectively, “we”) provide the services, as explained in theTwitter Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. We have offices, partners, and service providers around the world that help to deliver the services.

Your information, which we receive when you use the services, may be transferred to and stored in the United States, Ireland, and other countries where we operate, including through our offices, partners, and service providers. In some of these countries, the privacy and data protection laws and rules on when data may be accessed may differ from those in the country where you live.

 

How cyber criminals use social engineering

This article from Malwarebytes is useful to give you an idea of how they try to get past your defences by pretending legitimacy based on information they have acquired from elsewhere about you.

 

More Google

An interesting article here from Techcrunch on how Google are at last cleaning up their act ahead of legislation to protect consumers

“Google is cleaning up its Chrome Web Store – the marketplace where you can browse for extensions and apps for its Chrome web browser. The company says it’s making changes to browser’s User Data Policy, which will now require developers to be more transparent about how they handle customer data, and which will require user consent when data is collected, among other things.

The changes come at a time when the Chrome Web Store has been targeted by malware makers, who have posted rogue extensions that do terrible things like spy on web users and collect their personal data”

 

Journalist Gets Hacked While Writing Apple-FBI Story

“That’s why this story is so important to everyone,” says hacker, who was a fellow passenger on his flight.

The article on the dangers of using an open WiFi (no password needed) is here

 


Finally, for now..

I do hope you are not put off by these articles from realising the potential for good that technologies offer to us.

To me its like being in a strange land as a tourist, you keep your senses tuned in to your enviroinment, wear appropriate protections  and don’t get hooked into a story that just looks toooo super real! (aka clickbait stories in ads posted on websites which are overly sensationalised or otherwise appear unreal.

 

A story of the future of I.T which may prove to offer us happier outcomes

“Imagine walking on Mars and being able to examine rock formations from all angles, or collaborating on the same 3D hologram design with someone thousands of miles away.

Or imagine being able to diagnose and treat the diseases of people half way around the world while you remain in your clinic, or walking around a gallery and having your own holographic guide pointing things out to you on your smart glasses.

These are just some of the exciting examples of what “augmented reality” (AR) technology is beginning to offer us.”

source:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-35629715?

 


Do call me if you want a chat!

Greg  07579001747

 

 

 

Quick Bytes News – February 2016

Hello and welcome to my February QBN newsletter!

At last the sun has fought its way through the thick dark-grey cloud base and the incredibly powerful winds have abated, I was wondering if it was time to put a sign outside my home saying ‘No Apocalyptic Horsemen Callers Please’!

 

Windows 10 – When, (no longer, if)

On the topic of unwanted apocalypses, I expect many of you have been increasingly pestered by the Microsoft Windows 10 pusher applications which are now beyond persuasive, and live in the land of heavily coercive! For those of you who wanted and like that operating system then fine, but I add that it tells a lot of stories about you through its telemetry functions which makes you a target for its associated ‘boot in the door’ marketing buddies.

For those of you who, like me, do not want to risk the ‘upgrade’ because of concerns of compatibility with your hardware or your existing software, your privacy from marketing or spying pests and familiarity with the desktop and start menus, you may want to read on.

On the 8th February I saw these 3 updates being offered for me to install.

Updates for W10 Warning

I do not leave my PC set to allow automatic Updates any more, its simply too risky these days because if we leave the back door unlocked, Windows 10 will move in and declare squatters rights. So I investigated these and surely there are accounts on the Microsoft forums that were posted by other watchful Windows users of these and their findings are that these are again likely to be another set of changes to take away your choice of upgrading or not.

 

GWX Tool

There is  a handy prevention tool which you might want to download and run (it doesn’t need to install) called GWX Control Panel. It looks like this when run and as you can see I have already used it on my PC;

GWX - JAN 2016 VERSION

It is simple to use and will remove the installation files that Microsoft have already placed on your PC without your knowledge and prevent your PC from being hijacked by Microsoft and forced to take the free-fall plunge to Windows 10. You can get it here  As always with running programmes these days I urge you to not ‘google’ it and follow links set by the responding sites, always download software from the vendors own sites.

Finally do enable ‘Monitor Mode’ when running this; it looks like this

Monitor Mode

If you wish to know more of why doing this is so important to so many people you can try reading some of these posts.

 

Post 1

Post 2

Post 3

Enough said?

 

Telemetry – the new spy on the block from Microsoft

Luckily for us all people like Safer-Networking (known for the long running Spybot Search & Destroy anti malware) are not only on the ball, they also produce freeware tools such as ‘Anti Beacon‘ to help protect us. They describe this as;
“Spybot Anti-Beacon for Windows 10 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. With the upcoming news about telemetry in Windows 7 and 8.1, Spybot Anti-Beacon has added support for those as well”.

Its for Windows 7 and 8.x as well so may I suggest you use it if you have one of those systems?

 

Good News (for a change) about Advertising – You DO have a choice!

I found this website which offers us a chance to opt out from ads from members who are in the European Self-Regulatory Programme and so it becomes easier for us to control the blizzard of unwanted rubbish they spit at us when we browse the web. But do keep in mind that you need to add their add-on to all browsers that you use.

Their website is very comprehensive and gives much detail on how to alter settings in your browser(s) so I advise reading it a couple of times before diving in and do remember that some websites do not function fully if you have disabled cookies or other advertising related functions, so be prepared to back track if this becomes a problem on those websites.

For your perusal here is some of the material from the YourOnlineChoices Website;

“How the beta extension works

The YourOnlineChoices beta browser extension works to preserve your choices expressed on youronlinechoices.eu. This applies specifically for Online Behavioural Advertising (OBA) from participating companies. The websites you visit may still be collecting information for other purposes than OBA. Also, the participating companies may continue to deliver ads to you – but these will not be based on your interests or browsing habits.
 As more companies join the European Self-Regulatory Programme on OBA, they will be added to the Ad Choices page. There is no intervention required from you as a consumer to update the plugin; however, you should note that if new companies are joining the Programme your options will not be automatically set-up, and therefore we encourage you to visit the Ad Choices page from time to time.
Also, you should note that the extension and your respective choices work only in the browser you are using, therefore you should set your choices and preserve them in each browser and computer you may use. This extension is currently in beta and will be updated from while to while.”

http://www.youronlinechoices.com/uk/browser-extension

Hopefully this may help you to keep the pests off your online experience, wishing you good outcomes!

And talking of choices being removed, has the Apple gone rotten?

Here is a worrying story from Apple about their iPhone 6 and how having it repaired anywhere but in their own stores (and at their prices) might render it dead useless. 

 …..”We believe Apple may be intentionally forcing users to use their repair services, which cost much more than most third-party repair shops. There is incentive for Apple to keep end users from finding alternative methods to fix their products. Think of it this way: let’s say you bought a car, and had your alternator replaced by a local mechanic. Under Apple’s strategy, your car would no longer start because you didn’t bring it to an official dealership. They intentionally disable your car because you tried to fix it yourself. That is wrong,” PCVA notes on its website.

A London-based lawyer, Richard Colbey of Lamb Chambers told Guardian, Apple’s reckless policy of killing iPhones following a software upgrade breached basic consumer laws in the UK. It could be viewed as an offence under the Criminal Damage Act 1971.”

source:- International Business Times

 

If I can help you with anything in my news letters do give me a call on 01757 900 1747, or email

That’s all for now!

Greg

PCT Door Magnet

Quick Byte News January 2016

Welcome to the January edition of QBN!

I bet some of you wondered if it would appear in time!

Its been a busy month for me (as I am sure it has for many of you also), though our reasons for this will vary, the outcome is much the same. No time to get those little but necessary things done! So here is a quick throw together (but I hope useful) news letter  to satiate your curiosity.

 

Web browsing – is it Becoming a Hazardous Past Time?

The answer to this question is yes. To help avoid the traps one can slow down a bit and check before going there. You might see it as the equivalent of looking down an unfamiliar dark alley way before running down it. Not an easy new habit to adopt when rushing in a click-happy manner as we have been used to, but it may save you  a lot of hassle if you can master it!

For instance …

You could load a secure browser such as Comodo Dragon or Comodo Ice Dragon. These fire breathers will beef up the Google Chrome engines defences and also I found in Comodo Dragon, offer you a useful add on ‘Comodo Web Inspector’ which sits on the right side of the browsers address bar. According to the Comodo website the features are described as

  • “Has privacy enhancements that surpass those in Chromium’s technology

  • Has Domain Validation technology that identifies and segregates superior SSL certificates from inferior ones

  • Stops cookies and other Web spies

  • Prevents all Browser download tracking to ensure your privacy”

So maybe a review of your current browser is needed?

 

 

If you adopt one of the Comodo Browsers you will also get this built in extension which I think is useful – Web Inspector. Curiosity got the better of me so I tried it on my own website and got this result …

PC Techniques Webinspector assessment

 

… so you can visit my site without any worries!

If you are unsure of a web link that was sent to you through any media it would be a good idea to test it with this first if at all you are uncertain.

For those of you not wanting to use the Comodo browsers you could use the subscription version which looks like this …

Online Webinspector Site Checker

Their website states:-

Web Inspector is a cloud based service that inspects your website for malware, detects any vulnerabilities to being attacked and protects your website from thousands of security threats, daily! It also embeds PCI compliance scanning for E-commerce websites that accept credit card payments, to keep them compliant with the payment card industry’s mandatory standards“.

 

Mal-vertising – a new vector for attacking your browser.

Some advertisements are deliberately set to be served to you from malware infected servers and even for those not so nasty the experience of not being able to get to the materials you wanted to see because they block your views is annoying.

These days persistent, nagging online ads can become overwhelming if you don’t have your defences up. I have mentioned measures to keep them in check in previous postings and so won’t revisit this now. But if you wanted to know more of the blizzard of channels they come from when you visit many well known media websites you could look here and if you wished, opt out (note:- from members sites only).

 

DNS Proxy – A way to divert your website requests through a safe and manageable channel.

Domain Naming System is the clever way the web signposts your website and other requests to get the request to the right server. Normally DNS is sent through your Internet Service Providers own DNS servers and the quality of those can vary. Happily there are some which allow you to send your traffic through them instead which allows you to specify filtering and other controls which can stop some of the web-rubbish from affecting your computer.

Open DNS is just one of these which you may want to consider using.

OpenDNS

Their website states:-

OpenDNS settings apply to every device — laptops, smartphones, tablets, DVRs, game consoles, TVs, literally anything that connects to the internet. We’re the world’s leading DNS service, meaning you’ll see noticeably faster internet speeds as well.”

 

Now for the one that I WAS surprised to read:-

Anti Virus Browser Toolbars (extensions) are BAD for your browser!

According to a new article “whatever antivirus program you use, don’t install the browser extension. If you already installed it or weren’t given a choice (many install their extensions by default), visit the Extensions, Add-ons, or Plug-ins page in your web browser and disable any extensions associated with your security suite“.

Intrigued, I read that even with well reputed AV products such as AVG, Avast and Norton you could be opening your browers to potential attacks  unnecessarily because they use code from another source (Ask) which isn’t properly secured and in use may also prove themselves to be traitors because they set out to serve you adverts you don’t need or want. So the best advice is to remove any toolbars that your AV vendor has packaged in and let the browsers own security measures handle the necessary security tasks. Naturally I assume you have the newest version of your browser installed if not you know what to do. So enough said I myself will now take the appropriate actions!

As always I am very happy to take your enquiries for how I may help you with any of these tasks, all you have to do is contact me.

 

More in February, and bye bye for now.

 

Greg

PCT Door Magnet

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 – Supplemental – November 2015

Observations from a meeting I attended concerning Electronic Hypersensitivity Effects on Humans from WiFi (RF) Transmissions in the Home or Office. 14-11-2015.

I have written this article mid-month instead of waiting until the onset of December which we all know as the month of buying and receiving gifts because this article may influence how you, the reader does this.

I write this because I attended an important talk last weekend which highlighted the sheer scale of radio emitting devices which now exist in many homes and these emit concerning levels of microwave frequencies into your living spaces.

Radio Frequency emissions (RF) do not travel in a line from a transmitting device to the receiving device, they radiate in all directions and so will inevitably contact human and other living bodies within the radio range of their design. As we all know now any street in the UK is also a veritable bath of emitted radio signals from all of the communication devices in buildings and carried by millions of us on our person every day.


So whats all the Noise about?

As I understand it, ‘the noise’ is about the large gap between the official safe limit for human exposure to microwave energy emissions and the one measured by medical professionals and the insurance industry’s own risk assessments. Outdated standards of safety that are still in use, state that harm is not caused unless heating of the body happens as a result of exposure to RF emissions, and these standards were written before our current knowledge of the harmful effects on human living tissue and its cellular structures were as well known as they are today.

Manufacturers of the devices emitting microwave signals will put disclaimers with the devices they sell in very small print in its box, knowing that no one reads the small print as they rush to use the new device.

Insurers avoid litigation by excluding any harm caused from devices from insurances, so they do know and yet the sales of these devices romps on regardless. User beware!

Devices we Use

Baby Alarms and Monitors, Door Bells, Blue Tooth headsets, Wireless Mice & Keyboards, Wireless Thermostats, Bluetooth in Cars, Utilities installed Smart Meters (Electric, Gas and Water), Laptops, Smart Phones and Tablets and the list grows constantly.


Why the Concerns?

“The World Health Orgnaisation (WHO) / International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) Classified RF as a Group 2 B ‘Possible Human Carcinogen” (2011). Despite this, there has been no attempt in the UK at disseminating this important information to the public”.

I will not try to explain why medical professionals and scientists are alarmed at the rapidly increasing harmful effects being reported by doctors, but I do understand that because we human beings are bio organisms that are little different from other aninal species, we in common with them have never evolved to live in a smog of electromagnetic microwave emissions.

It seems inevitable to me that at least some sensitive groups will be affected by microwave RF especially when exposed on a constant basis, and that some will be more seriously affected than others. Naturally the weaker are more vulnerable, the young especially because microwave signals penetrate their thin skulls more easily than adults thicker skulls if using devices against the head such as phones and bluetooth headsets..

The full detailed document giving details of medical and other studies is here. Its a long and detailed read but because safety controls are behind the wide scale deployment of devices inside our homes it is worth at least a quick scan over.


Avoidance

You can try avoiding having too much in your living space where remember, you are the ones in charge as an important first step.

Naturally some RF will enter your living spaces from nearby buildings and cellphone towers but those generally won’t be as energy intense because of increased distance.

  • Refuse Smart Meter installations, you have the right to do this! From recorded data it has been found that these meters emit RF energy in very high powered bursts that are much higher energy than any device in your home.

    They have to get their signal out beyond your home to receiving stations and so the energy bursts they emit will be designed to get there through any walls or people in the way. And yes, they emit radially in all directions! They have been identified as fire hazards in homes in the USA by many fire departments so insurance cover may be hard to get.

  • Use wired device connections where ever possible instead of WiFi, this can be achieved by using wires directly to the device from the router, or you could use your homes/offices power ring main to carry the signal using Powerline plugs which are not expensive. Once those are in place the routers and the devices WiFi can be disabled.

  • Usage Habit changes – Try keeping any active WiFi enabled devices you retain in use switched off  (or in airplane mode) or well away from sleeping inhabitants or close to where people or pets spend long periods resting such as lounges or beds. The greater the distance between peoples bodies and RF devices, the better.

  • Disable the 3G or 4G when not in use as well as the WiFi, those G’s are very powerful and only are used when you are emailing or browsing the web. You can buy wired headsets which allow you to use the phone with it away from your body, so reducing your exposure to the highest energy density levels when in use.

  • Tablets were mentioned as always using maximum power transmissions (unlike smart phones) so can be more harmful.

Source:- http://www.iemfa.org/wp-content/pdf/Mallery-Blythe-v1-EESC.pdf

If you wish for PC Techniques to assist you with any technical changes to your systems do give me a call.

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

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

Quick Bytes News – September 2015

Welcome to the post holiday (where did it go so fast) edition of QBN which is published in this new online blog format. I hope that you like it.

This edition covers topic’s that highlight the received wisdom of IT guru’s ‘out in the wild’.
They say that to keep ourselves from having slowed down PC’s that may either betray us financially or drive us into accepting the Windows 10 hazard we need to pay close attention.
I for one am listening!

You may have become of an opinion that I am not as enthusiastic about computers as some. This is understandable because I am very aware of our common vulnerability online these days. We need to be online  now because it is no longer an accessory to our lives, it has become a necessity!
And stories like those below show that its not only malware and virus writers who wish to invade our online experience.

Its some Manufacturers as well so I am wondering what the differences are between them these days!


Is Windows 10 – Is knocking at your door with added determination!

We all have seen how the new white logo of Microsoft has appeared in our system trays over the past few months, and have realised that this heralded the arrival of Windows 10.
We have seen it make pop ups from time trying to ‘enhance our online & PC lives’ by constantly offering Windows 10 to us for ‘free’ (nothing truly is I hear you mutter).

Well it has now been revealed by those who watch the horizons for hazards, that the kindly intended little people from Microsoft have been ignoring our ‘No Thanks’ replies to their Windows 10 offering and have been secretly downloading it onto our PC’s behind our backs!

If like me you are concerned that this has used up 3.5Gigabytes of your hard drive space and that it has slowed down your broadband as well as using up any quota that your ISP allocates, then you are in the same mind frame as I. You might use the next few minutes to have a cuppa,  absorb this information, rage and determine to change things to how YOU, not they would like it to be.
We are the customers of Microsoft, right?
We pay for their products which has made them what they are now – dominant, huge and uncaring!

There are ways we can deal with this;

1) Uninstall the following ‘Updates’ from your Control Panel – Installed Updates page

Windows 7 – KB3035583, KB2952664, and KB3021917

Windows 8 –  KB3035583 and KB2976978

2) Restart the PC and then return to the Windows Updates and search for Updates. the removed updates will appear in the list to install. Right click on each and select Hide to keep them out!

3) Delete the following hidden folders from your C:\ root of your hard drive

$Windows.~BT,  $Windows and ~WS. These are hidden folders. Make sure Windows is set to show hidden files if the folders aren’t visible. The best way to remove them and regain disk space is by using the built in Disk Cleanup tool.

There! – Job done and so now you remove the risk that one day when your not quite on the ball you accidentally click a ‘Yes’ button that popped up when you were already busy and end up with an unreliable new O.S.


Keeping ‘Them’ Out by Protecting your Browser

These days things have become different to the old days when a ‘nasty’ of some type got in by a downloaded file, USB copied file or CD/DVD file.
These days its the browser that is the most likely way to acquire a problem and without downloading anything.

Your PC, Mac or even Linux PC can be infected by malicious code squirted in when you click on a malicious advert or a compromised website of which there appear to be many out there. those impacting ads that set out to shock, titillate or amaze are particularly dangerous.
Its common practice these days for legitimate websites to carry adverts from third party sources to increase their revenues but because these come from third parties they are not vetted by the website creators/editors themselves. This means that standards of security are being threatened with dilution every time another ‘party’ is added to the chain. The more links in a chain the weaker it can become, especially if the ‘chain vendor’ sub contracts out the link making to others who’s standards may be weaker.

So what can you do to protect yourself, now that the web has become so important to many of us?

a)  Firstly you need to get rid of all those toolbars in your browser(s). You don’t need most, if any! Some have crept in and others came in bundled up in ‘freeware’. Try uninstalling them in Control Panel – Programs.

b)  Next check inside your browser(s) for any left over add-ons and remove them as well, less is more security!
c)  Next make sure your browser(s) are all updated to the newest (most secure) versions.

d)  Harden your browser(s) with free tools like NoScript, Ghostery, AdBlock Plus and most importantly, Malwarebytes Anti Exploit. (free). Please remember to check occasionally that these tools are also up to date.

e)  If your bank enthuses for you to use a security software (such as Trusteer Rapport) when connecting to their online banking then do use it! But only take advice on that from the banks own website itself or their own printed literature. Never follow instructions from an unsolicited email or phone caller purporting to be from your bank!

Quick Bytes – The Crumbs

Microsoft and the UEFI story – a warning!
Does your PC have this file on it at C:\Windows\system32\wpbbin.exe. ?
If so you might need to read another Microsoft – Horror Story

SCAM Alert – Starbucks
Out in the wild is a fake Starbucks Survey offering goodies for those who fill it in. Don’t its another scam and you will need another type of drink if you get scammed by it.

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

http://www.pc-techniques.co.uk