Category Archives: Computers

The Top Tips and Tricks for Picking a Strong Password 

Hacking and compromised online data is on the rise — a record-breaking 47% of U.S. adults were the victims of hacking in 2014 alone. A recent study reported that nearly 75% of consumers use duplicate passwords, many of which haven’t been updated in more than five years. About 40% of those surveyed have experienced a security incident, be it an account hacked or password stolen, in the past year.

How Do Passwords Get Stolen?

Passwords to online accounts serve as one of the last lines of defense against hackers. There are three main ways your password could be compromised.

  1. Someone you know wants to uncover your personal information. They may attempt to guess your password to gain access.
  2. A hacker is attempting to access a group of user accounts. Hackers systematically check possible pass phrases until they discover the right one.
  3. A company with which you have an account experiences a data breach and your information, along with millions of others, is hacked.

While some hacking incidents are nearly impossible to prevent, such as a company-wide data breach, you can make your accounts less susceptible by creating a secure password and following password safety best practices.

How Can I Pick a Strong Password?

A hard-to-guess password doesn’t have to be hard to create. Follow these seven tips for password creation.

  1. Avoid the most commonly used passwords. For 2015, the list of worst passwords included “123456,” “password,” “qwerty,” “football,” “welcome,” and “starwars.”
  2. Use at least 12 characters. While there isn’t one agreed-upon rule for password length, aim to use between 12 and 16 characters. Long passwords are harder to guess, but you don’t want them so long you can’t remember them.
  3. Use a mix of multiple types of characters, including numbers, capital and lowercase letters, and symbols.
  4. Stay away from dictionary words and phrases, as they are easier to guess than gibberish. If you have a phrase in mind, such as “love to learn,” consider a phonetic variation, like “<32lurn” — and add a few more characters for good measure.
  5. Don’t include personal information in your password. This includes your birth date, name, address, phone number, or social security number.
  6. Skip any repeating numbers or letters. The more characters that repeat, such as “55” or “WWW,” the more vulnerable the password.
  7. Steer clear of keyboard patterns. From “qwerty” to “123456,” there’s a reason the worst passwords list included many of these variations — they’re easy to guess.

Once you develop your password, test its strength by using a password checker, such as The Password Meter.

Password Security Best Practices

Creating a strong password is the first step in protecting your online identity. The next step is safeguarding your password by following these five cybersecurity best practices.

  1. Don’t save passwords in your browser — that may sound like common sense, but 59% of millennials regularly saves their passwords in their browsers. If your computer is stolen or hacked, someone could gain immediate access to your
  2. Use a different password for every account. If a company experiences a data breach or one of your accounts is compromised, your other accounts will still be secure. If you have trouble remembering and organizing your passwords, use a secure password manager, such as LastPass.
  3. Don’t share your password. Other than using a password manager, you shouldn’t tell anyone your password, write it down on paper, or store it in an unsecured document or computer program, such as Microsoft Word.
  4. Regularly update your passwords. Security experts and computer professionals recommend changing your online passwords every three months, but this may be extreme for some Internet users. While it depends on your Internet usage and preferences, aim to update your passwords at least once a year.
  5. Enable two-step verification when possible. While not all websites and programs offer it, many popular services, including Facebook, PayPal, Dropbox, and Gmail, offer two-step verification. This means that if you — or a hacker — is attempting to log in to an account on an unverified or guest device, you’ll also be required to enter a code that is sent as a text message to your phone.

Password protection is an essential component of safe Internet usage, helping you keep your personal information safe from prying eyes. If you can’t remember the last time you changed your passwords, set aside some time in your day to update them.

Apple mocks ‘Sad PC’ users

Sad PC Users

Apple thinks your PC is sad but you will be happy with an iPad Pro

At last Monday’s Apple event, Apple veteran Phil Schiller made a comment about older PCs that seems to have irked a lot of PC users. He was presenting the new iPad Pro when he made some off the cuff remark that’s got Apple in some hot water.

Phil Schiller is Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, in the presentation he mentioned that many users of the iPad Pro come from Windows PCs implying that the iPad Pro is a more delightful experience for them.

Then Schiller said: “Windows PCs were originally conceived of before there was an Internet, before there was social media, before there was app stores, and this is an amazing statistic: There are over 600 million PCs in use today that are over five years old.”

You can imagine that this is a fantastic marketing opportunity.

Of the 600 million PCs he then said: “This is really sad. It really is.

And now there’s a lot of PC users irked that they are being considered ‘sad’.

This has become news, here’s some examples:

Foxnews: Apple diss about ‘sad’ PCs sparks irritation

Trusted Reviews: Apple mocks ‘sad’ PC users

Geek.com: Phil Schiller thinks it’s sad that people use 5-year-old computers

And ZDNET does some analysis of so many sad old iPads in use out there, too:

zdnet ipads

I used to be one of the folks that always tried keeping my PC, laptop, mobile phone relatively fresh by upgrading it every 2-3 years. Now that I’m a little older and not making as much money as I used to, I find that desire to upgrade just isn’t there. I think I had gotten so used to having disposable income that I fell into the upgrade trap that high tech companies have us living in – making us feel that to stay relevant we need to upgrade.

One of the many good things about using a PC is the myriad of great tools to help you keep your new and old PC running like new. So here’s some of the tools I use for new and older PCs:

Sometimes you need to reclaim wasted space on the PC’s disk, maybe you want to move, merge, delete partitions. Sometimes you can get by with the built-in utility in Windows called Disk Management, but it’s very limited for the more common advanced experiences. For windows 10 resize partition , I turn to EaseUS Partition Master because the UI is easy and intuitive to use.

There’s almost no error I can get that worries more than “Operating system not found” when booting the PC. This likely means the Master Boot Record is corrupt! This is where I go for mbr repair . it’s so much easier and faster to rebuild or repair the MBR than to re-install Windows!

For general tune-up of your Windows PC, check out PC Magazine’s 2016 collection of top tune-up utilities.

 

 

 

Netflix Releases a Puppy to Tackle XSS Attacks

If the recent story about Pirate Bay and Popcorn Time offering streaming services had you intrigued yet equally concerned about safety, then Netflix may have just tipped the balance in its favour.

As we reported earlier this year, Pirate Bay and Popcorn Time (which offer TV shows and movies for illegal download) started offering streaming options via Windows and Mac plug-ins. Dubbed Torrents Time, the new plug-in has been developed by the team at Popcorn-Time.se and basically allows users to stream TV shows and movies through their browser without any need for direct download.

The Risks of Illegal Streaming

GN-pic1

For those with a hunger for entertainment regardless of its legality this news not only meant faster access to more content, but the removal of risks commonly associated with illegal downloads. From Trojans and worms to malware and bloatware, illegal downloads can contain a myriad of viruses that will infect your device and make you wish you’d paid for an official download.

Of course, despite these risks, many people are still willing to run the risk in order to avoid paying for something and that’s something legitimate TV and movies services like Netflix are constantly battling against. Indeed, with illegal download sites now offering streaming services and, therefore, appearing “safer”, platforms such as Netflix are being forced to make their product even more secure.

XSS Attacks on the Increase

GN-pic2

According to Akamai, DDoS attacks spiked by 40% in Q4 of 2015; however, XSS attacks also became concern for online operators. Accounting for 5% of the most popular attacks in 2015, cross-site scripting and reflected cross-site scripting have become a growing concern for a number of major sites, including Netflix.

By exploiting vulnerabilities in a site’s code, XSS attacks as well as reflected cross-site scripting attacks allow the attacker to inject malicious code into the site and, subsequently, work around a browser’s same origin policy to steal private information from victims.

Keen to secure itself against such risks and improve the security of the open source community as a whole, Netflix recently released the Sleeping Puppy tool. According to its chief developers, Scott Behrens and Patrick Kelley, the new tool allows developers and admins to better identify cross-scripting.

“Sleepy Puppy helps facilitate inter-application XSS testing by providing JavaScript payloads that call back to the Sleepy Puppy application. This allows tracking when/where a payload fires even if the execution is triggered by a different user, occurs in a different application, or happens long after the initial test was performed,” said the developers.

Sleeping Puppy Keeping Legal Streaming Safe

GN-pic3

From a developers point-of-view the release of Sleeping Puppy is a fantastic way to protect against XSS attacks, but from a user’s perspective it’s yet another step forward for Netflix. One of the main advantages “legal” movie sites have always had over “illegal” movie sites is that they aren’t riddled with viruses.

Indeed, even novices will usually state that illegal sites such as Pirate Bay are potentially dangerous and that it’s better to stick to platforms such as Netflix. Although the advent of streaming from Pirate Bay might appear to have earned it some security credibility, it’s clear that Netflix is actually fighting the good fight.

While end users might not see the intricate workings of Sleeping Puppy, its invisible protection will help to maintain the idea that Netflix and its peers are safe places to play and, therefore, the obvious choice over illegal streaming sites.

How to backup your hard drive with EaseUS backup software

geeknews-backups

There are a lot of reasons why you would want to backup your hard drive, whether it be for safety and security reasons in case of a computer crash, or if you got a new SSD and want to move your operating system onto it. It certainly a headache for most people and can take up to several hours if you are not completely sure what you are doing. Luckily, there exist software like the backup software from EaseUS which makes this process a breeze. In this article we will cover the necessary steps for some likely scenarios you would encounter.

Transfer Windows to SSD

If you want to greatly speed up your computer, it’s recommended to transfer your windows to an SSD. But normally this requires to reinstall your operating system on the SSD and removing it from your normal hard drive.

Luckily, this isn’t the case anymore and can easily be done by using EaseUS. All you have to do is backup all your personal files like music, movies and documents. This makes your Windows smaller and fits more easily on the SSD. All you do then is clone your Windows and move it to the SSD, and all your user documents will be stored on the HDD and you just restore all your backed up files.

Transfering windows with EaseUS is literally as simple as just clicking a few buttons

Windows 10 backup

Backing up your data is been proven to be the most important thing you should do often. Backing up your operating system, like Windows 10, are even more crucial. Sometimes operating systems fail without notice, and normally it’s too late then, and reinstalling your operating system is a tedious process and a lot of important data may go missing.

If you use backup software, you literally back up your whole hard drive, and when your computer decides to pack up, or your dell laptop decided to go rolling in the deep, and you have to get a new one, you can simply restore all of your data, including your windows with batting an eye.

EaseUS Todo backup software has easy to follow step by step wizards to achieve exactly this, making it extremely user friendly.

How to Clone a Hard Drive

There are number of reason you would want to clone or copy your Hard Drive, but the main reason most people use it for is when you upgrade to a larger hard drive. If you have tried this, you know you just can’t copy your windows files and paste it in the new hard drive, because this will result in an unbootable error. That is what makes backup software, like those on offer by EaseUS, such wonderful solutions. Exactly like the Windows 10 back up, all you have to do is simply follow the steps provided, and software does the rest, taking out all the stress for you.

Other benefits of todo Software from EaseUS

  • Cheap without compromising quality
  • Installation is easy and step by step wizards will guide you in whatever you want to do
  • Support Windows 10
  • Multiple languages available

Whether you want to clone, backup, or move your windows to a SSD, now you know how.

Ad-Blocker Monetization

adblock

As part of the recent Apple conference, they announced that IOS will be blocking ads on the web. It seems advertisers are not too worried about the iOS ad-blocker deal just yet… and here’s why.
– Advertisers will be able to avert the blockers in the typical cat and mouse game that has always existed between browsers and adverts
– Publishers can pay ad-blockers to un-block their ads. Heads up if you are using Adblock Plus on your desktop, this is one of the ways they are monetizing.

Apocalypse Update: Robot Builds Other Robots

BBC has a post about robots learning to build other robots, uh oh!

Engineers have developed a robotic system that can evolve and improve its performance. A robot arm builds “babies” that get progressively better at moving without any human intervention.

The ultimate aim of the research project is to develop robots that adapt to their surroundings. The work by teams in Cambridge and Zurich has been published in the journal PLOS One.

40 Key Computer Science Concepts Explained In Layman’s Terms

computer science
CC by @matylda

Here’s another brilliant article hosted on Lifehack: 40 Key Computer Science Concepts Explained In Layman’s Terms

It was written by software developer Carl Cheo, founder of technology blog Carlcheo.com.

Read Carl’s fantastic article to find out how to explain to your parents and spouse all they need to know about algorithms and data structures, AI, computer architecture, concurrency, computer security, cryptography and software development methodologies.

New Machine Learning Course on Coursera

machine learning

Coursera has just opened a new version  of the course “Machine Learning” in the on demand format.

Machine learning is the science of getting computers to act without being explicitly programmed. In the past decade, machine learning has given us self-driving cars, practical speech recognition, effective web search, and a vastly improved understanding of the human genome. Machine learning is so pervasive today that you probably use it dozens of times a day without knowing it. Many researchers also think it is the best way to make progress towards human-level AI. In this class, you will learn about the most effective machine learning techniques, and gain practice implementing them and getting them to work for yourself.

The on demand format allows you to work through the materials at your own pace. All materials are available at any time, and there are no deadlines for exercises or assignments.

The Swift Programming Language Is Growing Like Mad

Swift icon logo

Wired is reporting that Apple’s new programming language called Swift has an incredible adoption rate. Introduced 7 months ago it is already the 22nd most popular language in use.

Apple’s main goals for Swift were ease the process to develop apps for Apple devices, make it easy to learn and fast to use. Also this would lower the bar for developers to onboard to the Apple platforms.

Learn more about Swift at http://www.learnswift.tips , or if you want to jump right to some code samples to get a lowdown of the language head on over to Apple’s Swift guided tour.

The Industries Being Overhauled by IOT

IOT

IOT (Internet of Things) is not just a buzzword, it’s a paradigm shift in how we think about computing and devices…and it’s here today. The folks at Motley Fool have identified the industries being overhauled because of IOT and how this may be an opportunity to invest in the right places now.

They identified these big 3 that require overhauling to handle IOT pushing their boundaries:

– Healthcare industry – Basically most medical devices are connected now and generating lots of machine generated data as well as handling private patient data.

– Public Sector Management – From municipal systems from power, water, waste treatment and more.

– Transportation – One example is the National Highway Traffic Safety Admin is proposing new national rules requiring cars to communicate with other.

Being Green When We’re at Home and on the Web

Eco-Friendly

We’ve become accustomed to the most common ways to reduce energy in our homes and at work, including using more public transportation, turning off the lights in unused rooms, replacing light bulbs with energy efficient LED bulbs and CF bulbs.

In the last couple of years I’ve been paying more attention to my energy consumption and finding ways of reducing my carbon footprint. One big consumer of energy are data centers, and as our applications and devices push more of the processing to the cloud, I expect that usage to increase year over year dramatically.

A few years ago it was found that data centers were expected to consume 19% more energy in 2012 than 2011. This is likely a trend that will continue, and addressing this is one good way for some data centers to differentiate themselves.

There are other non-intuitive things you can do to reduce your energy footprint in the cloud. This includes hosting your web services with a company that actively reduces energy usage through heat reduction in their data centers and using more efficient server power supplies like here, in 1&1.

Other things you can do that may be intuitive for us geeks, but not for all our friends and family is to adjust the power management settings on their PCs and laptops to aggressively reduce energy. In Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8 there are advanced settings to turn off the screen or reduce screen lighting a little, to turn off the hard drive if not actively loading/saving files. Here’s a video for Windows 7 that walks you through changing these settings.

What additional, non-intuitive things can we do to reduce our energy usage?

Samsung tests 5G technology – But What Does It All Mean?

All the news and technology websites have been abuzz for the past few days with news that Samsung has been testing out new 5G mobile broadband communications which are capable of speeds hundreds of times faster than current download and browsing speeds offered by 3G and even the new 4G. But what will this powerful new era of mobile broadband mean for consumers? We’ve taken some time to demystify and explain all the hype surrounding this new 5G phenomenon, and give you some stats about how it works, when it will be available, and what we can use in the meantime.

What is 5G?

5G generally stands for the 5th generation of mobile communication standards (just as 3G meant 3rd generation) While Samsung had been calling this new communications standard ‘5G’, it’s not actually a defined set of standards just yet like 3G or 4G, but rather just a general name or concept for the technology that will inevitably succeed 4G in the not so distant future. It will still be some time before there is a uniform set of standards and minimum and maximum download speeds established for 5G.

What speeds is it capable of?
In its trials, Samsung reported that it transmitted data of just over 1gb per second, potentially meaning that watching and downloading high-quality and 3D movies, whole TV series, games and other huge data files in a matter of seconds will soon become the norm. Compare this to 3G, which is capable of maximum speeds of up to 7.2Mb per second (although user testing unfortunately often finds that the average speed is much, much lower than this), and 4G, at a maximum of 8-12Mb per second. So, 5G is definitely a huge leap and a jump forward in terms of speed. 5G also has potential benefits for things like remote medical services, allowing rural doctors to communicate with each other and patients much more quickly and efficiently than before.

How does it work?
So – how has Samsung managed to achieve these huge speeds? New towers? General network upgrades? A little of both. Samsung announced that it has developed “the world’s first adaptive array transceiver technology operating in the millimeter-wave Ka bands for cellular communications”. But what does this mean, exactly – Samsung summarizes things nicely for us, stating that “the implementation of a high-speed 5G cellular network requires a broad band of frequencies, much like an increased water flow requires a wider pipe” – so essentially, their new towers allow for a higher range of frequencies to be utilized when transmitting data.

When will it be available?
Sadly, 5G network capabilities aren’t expected to be available to regular internet and mobile subscribers like us until at least 2020, when Samsung is planning to commercialize the technology. Even after that, it will probably still take some time for full roll outs to be completed, and for local carriers to start offering it to their customers. But with the impressive capabilities and speeds which are already being explored, we think it will be well worth the wait!

What’s available in the meantime?
While this all sounds very exciting, 5G is still very much in the initial testing stages. In the meantime, phone and internet networks are still busy working on rolling out the latest in 4G technology. 4G enable devices are already available at plenty of trusted retailers such as The Good Guys, so be sure to speak to a tech expert about what kind of network speeds your particular handset can achieve, based on your phone network carrier.

What do you think of Samsung’s latest 5G network trials? Do you think there’s any we’ll see it become available any sooner than 2020 as more companies start trialing the new technology?

Backdoor to Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner Computer System?

Boeing

 

Researchers claim the chip used in military systems and civilian aircraft has built-in function that could let in hackers. The chip in question is ProASIC3 chip , it’s used in medical, automotive, communications and consumer products, as well as military use. Among applications where it’s used are remote surveillance systems, drones, and for flight-critical applications on the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Good god, this is all we need to worry about now for possible terrorist attacks that no longer need to penetrate physical security to down a plane, now all they need is a really good hacker.

Read more at the Guardian.

Future of the ‘Lumpy” Cloud

Lumpy Cloud

While browsing technical articles tonight I stumbled upon a new term called the ‘Lumpy cloud’ in reference to an aberration of the classic cloud we think of today.

The article in question with this term is just a short debate on whether mainframes have any place in the cloud or if it’s expected to be x86 based. There’s nothing earth shattering here but the article is worth taking the 5 minutes to read.

Anyway, the term ‘Lumpy cloud’ is defined below and I thought it was interesting enough of a term that it deserved to be called out:

It just means that it’s not all four-CPU PCs. Instead, you have lumps that are basically 100 processors and up, whether it’s the mainframe or something else, and 100-virtual-machine-and-up machines. I just don’t think that x86 is there yet.

Most references on the web refer to lumpy cloud in the context of weather, not 100x CPU VM servers. Smile