13/05/17

Permalink 07:47:00 am by Eugene Gardner, Categories: Security, General

Today the news is full of thousands of computers, especially NHS owned, that have been infected with a variant of the WannaCrypt ransomware.  I am asked how to protect against this type of attack and the answer is simple.

  • Run the latest version of Windows (that's 10)
  • Manually confirm that it is updated frequently (Settings > Update & security)
  • Ensure other programs have latest security patches installed (Ninite)
  • Maintain a third party paid for malware protection program e.g. BitDefender 
  • Backup your files and retain the backup for a few months at least (e.g. File History program)
  • Regularly confirm that backup is working and test recover to confirm so and cement the procedure in your memory
  • Do not click links in emails or open executable attachments [this applies to the more comon trojan viruses rather than worms such as WannaCrypt but the advice bears recording here]

If you do get infected unplug the computer from the mains until professional help arrives and do not pay the ransom or phone the number given by the bad software.

Please pass a link to this on to those you care about.

Details on this specific infection are at
https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/mmpc/2017/05/12/wannacrypt-ransomware-worm-targets-out-of-date-systems/

06/05/17

Permalink 10:47:00 am by Eugene Gardner, Categories: Security, 1ComputerCare related, Articles

When the time comes to move away from an internet service provider that is hosting a client's email I always suggest consideration of a private domain.  So in the email address Eugene@1Computercare.co.uk  the  1Computercare.co.uk  is my private domain and it costs me less than £10 a year to maintain. What are the benefits of using this address ?

  • It means that I can hide my email repository from correspondents. So if I feel like changing to another I can do so without informing anyone and no email is lost.

  • It adds a certain kudos to private addresses and professionalism to business related ones.

  • It is can be more memorable and easier to type than whatever is allocated by one of the large providers.

  • Finally, and what prompts me to write this now,  it enables me to trace where a sender got my email address from.  I am free to put absolutely any string in front of @1Computercare.co.uk so I could have a separate address for other family members, indeed the pets can all have their own address.  So when I sign up for an account with any of the myriad websites that require it I can incorporate the website address in the email.  This policy comes into its own when (not if) one of the sites is the subject of a security breach. 

 As previously advised in this blog I subscribe to automated warnings from the wonderful https://haveibeenpwned.com and this morning I received the following message from them

 
Well you can bet your bottom dollar that the first thing I did was to visit all those sites and change my passwords to something that was long, strong, and unique.  

27/04/17

Permalink 08:48:00 pm by Eugene Gardner, Categories: General, Articles
  1. Operating system.  Windows is so common that others may not be given sufficient thought.  Apples OSX is good but unless you are used to it some familiarisation training time should be allowed for, and the implied cost is much more than Windows.  Chrome is fine at the cheaper end of the market where most things can be done over the internet. Linux comes in many distributions and being open source is free, but some relearning will probably be required.
  2. The screen.  Bigger is better but the larger the screen the more weight and higher the cost. A low resolution (under 1920 x 1080) gives less desktop space and on a big screen translates to low pixel density and poor quality images. Aim for a brightness no less than 300cd/m² and contrast ratio better than 700 (the blackest black is 700 times as dark as the brightest whites).  Matte finish is usually better than gloss unless reflections will never be a problem for you.
  3. Power.  Where possible mains trumps battery but if portability is your goal then it?s worth paying extra to get an easily replaceable battery ? they all deteriorate with age, and being able to whip out a replacement can be handy.  Although remember the weight penalty. Pay little heed to the watt or milliamp hour ratings as different computers drain at different rates.
  4. Storage.  Even in the most modest system these days solid state drives are almost a necessity; the only caveat is where two drive bays are available and huge storage space is needed.  On a Chrome computer 120GB is generous but if data is to be held locally then double that may be the minimum to tolerate.  And for volatile memory a.k.a. RAM 4GB will do but 8GB is better.  16GB is a waste under normal circumstances.
  5. Peripherals.  Check that you have sufficient connections: Bluetooth for a wireless mouse, HDMI for any multimedia perhaps, sufficient USB (at least one blue version 3 socket), a card reader for your camera?s SD card, Wi-Fi at 11.802ac standard, RJ45 internet socket.
  6. Processor.  Probably the largest effect on cost but unless you run multiple concurrent or compute heavy programs you can get away with something modest. But the graphics will probably be incorporated so don?t hit the bottom of the bargain basement ? unlike most other components this can?t be upgraded later.
  7. The supplier.  Much greater flexibility of component choice comes with a custom built system and there?s no price premium usually.  Off?the-shelf models typically lose 10% of available horse power to the bundled in programs that manufacturers add on.  Note that second user computers are perhaps 60% of the cost of an equivalent new and both come with a 12 month warranty usually.

24/03/17

Permalink 07:16:00 pm by Eugene Gardner, Categories: Technical Tips

Here's a handy tip for those times when your phone rings and it's someone claiming to be "Microsoft", "Your virus protection company", "BT Openreach" or any other scammer looking to thrive by fleecing good natured folks.

Get a whistle just like the referees have and keep it by the phone.  When you receive the call rather than hanging up immediately as I have previously suggested, say a few words back in a soft and gentle voice; so soft that the caller has to turn the volume up full.  Now reach for the whistle and fill your lungs to greatest capacity before giving it your all.  

Now you can hang up after a job well done.  Now if everyone did that we may save some poor wretch from losing their shirt.  Please pass a link to this blog post on to a friend. 

http://www.1computercare.co.uk/blog/index.php/2017/03/24/unsolicited-scam-callers?blog=5


13/03/17

Permalink 12:05:00 pm by Eugene Gardner, Categories: Security, General

 

  1. You receive a phone call purportedly from a local number (CLI can be faked)
  2. The voice on the end introduces themselves and the company they supposedly work for (thieves lie)
  3. They then ask: "Can you hear me"? or "Are you there"?
  4. Your answer is recorded
  5. If you say "yes", your response will be edited to make it seem as though you have agreed to a verbal contract for a major purchase.

I know that people think it's impolite to hang up, but it's a good strategy. If you don't recognise the number, don't answer.   A genuine caller will leave a message.  At the very least, don't speak at all until you are absolutely certain of the caller's bone fides. 

 

If you are lonely call a genuine person.  see  
http://www.ageuk.org.uk/health-wellbeing/loneliness/  
http://ben.org.uk/news-hub/beating-loneliness/ 

09/02/17

Permalink 02:40:00 pm by Eugene Gardner, Categories: General

It's not that I am too lazy to write now, just that others do it better than I.  This article will help position your keyboard, screen and chair to avoid pain (a subject 12 inches below my heart right now).

http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/workplacehealth/Pages/Howtositcorrectly.aspx

23/01/17

Permalink 10:12:00 am by Eugene Gardner, Categories: Articles

Surprisingly I have just come upon yet another article that I think would fit well here and is written at least as well as I would write it myself.

https://www.getsafeonline.org/protecting-yourself/spam-and-scam-email/

It answers a lot of the common questions I am asked in a succinct way without trying to sell anything.

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