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

 

 

 

Advertisements

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