Monthly Archives : December 2017

Upgrade Your Storage – What A SSD Means For You

[caption id="attachment_6859" align="alignnone" width="336"]SSD vs. HDD SSD vs. HDD[/caption]

Technical terms can get overwhelming, especially in the IT industry, and when they contain too many three-letter acronyms. Like, SSD, which stands for Solid State Drives. These SSDs can be purchased for your desktop or laptop computer. SSDs are like hard drives but without any moving parts and can be used in place of hard drives. Its like a memory card but on steroids and is generally faster than HDDs (hard disk drives). The hard drive, with its mechanical moving parts, is almost certainly the biggest bottleneck in your PC. However, the lack of moving parts with a SSD, actually allows data to be transferred at maximum speeds as well as allowing your machine to run much quieter. Although, this storage upgrade can be costly, the overall benefits outweigh the price.

With a Solid State Drive, you can expect startups, programs and files¬†to launch and load much faster. Another perk to purchasing additional storage¬†is it also uses less electrical power than a conventional hard drive. And with prices dropping annually, it is easy to get your money’s worth by determining the price per GB and also how much storage you require.¬†Ideally, 128GB (and in some situations 64GB) is enough for the operating system, programs and some games. You shouldn‚Äôt store media (like music, videos or pictures) on a Solid State Drive because the fuller the SSD gets, the slower it will run.¬†Other storage options are available for media storage, such as cloud storage.

“Back in 2013, PCWorld Labs ran three computers through our WorldBench tests, then replaced the hard drives with SSDs, and ran the tests again.¬†The results were astounding. A Toshiba Satellite¬†P75-A7200 increased its WorldBench score from 279 to 435 (a higher number means a faster PC). A Maingear tower PC doubled its score from 162 to 325. ”

 

Desktop SSD upgrade

 

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Keylogger Discovered on HP Laptops

Keylogger discovered on HP Laptops

 

Keylogger‘s¬†are used in IT organizations to troubleshoot technical problems with computers and business networks. They can also be used¬†to monitor the network usage of people without their direct knowledge; they are sometimes used as part of home parental controls. Finally, malicious individuals may use keyloggers on public computers to steal passwords or credit card information.” Reported Bradley Mitchell.

Last week, keylogger was discovered on over 460 different models of HP laptops. The keylogger is disabled by default but is easily enabled under the Windows Registry.¬† Security researcher, Michael Myng, discovered keylogger in an attempt to figure out how to control HP’s laptop keyboard black light.¬† What he discovered has¬†sent a shockwave throughout the industry. The keylogger was capable of recording every keystroke made by a single user. Thankfully, most are disabled by default, as previously mentioned. However, it would be a very simple change to enable it which could make your PC vulnerable to a potential hacker.

The BBC reports that HP has issued a software patch to remove the keylogger. “However, there are over 460 models of HP laptop affected, including those in the EliteBook, ProBook, Pavilion, and Envy ranges, and the keylogger has been present since 2012. The software patch support page¬†lists all models¬†carrying the disabled keylogger.”

HP initially allowed keylogger to be installed on so many laptops to act as a debugging tool on the drive. It was simply an oversight, then disabled but not removed. Leaving several laptops in danger of being hacked.

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FCC Votes to Kill Net Neutrality Regulations, What Does This Mean For The Internet?

[caption id="attachment_6844" align="alignnone" width="313"]FCC votes to remove regulations. FCC votes to remove regulations.[/caption]

 

What is Net Neutrality?

Net neutrality is the concept that everyone should have equal access to the web. For example, Amazon could not pay extra to have it’s website load faster than say, Ebay. In 2015, there was a decision to reclassify broadband¬†due to a Comcast scandal that accused them of blocking sites and discrimination based on the content of the sites.¬† Well, yesterday the FCC lifted the rules that allowed them to step in if an ISP was accused of shady, paid prioritization or discriminating¬†practices. However, it was still okay to slow down an entire network during peak times.

Yesterday’s vote reverses this decision and as many have already stated, there are mixed opinions of this decision. To quote Commissioner O’Rielly, “The FCC was “railroaded” into adopting Title II after President Obama¬†voiced his support¬†for the move in November 2014.” Chairman Pai agreed, stating, the Title II was adopted “under political pressure” and “on¬†express orders from the previous White House.” However, the ISPs, say they agree on the concept of net neutrality but they just don’t think it should be regulated.

What does this mean for you?

Most people understand that the internet will not change overnight, but do believe that this measure of removing the regulations will effect communities that often only have one or two options for high-speed internet service.

 

For more information, please visit: NetNeutrality

 

What Is A Quantum Computer & How Will It Shape Our Future

 

What is quantum computing?

This morning, JP Morgan Chase and Samsung announced that they are partnering with IBM to build business apps on quantum computers. Some if not most of you may wonder, what is a quantum computer?

Defining Quantum Computers 

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In the 1930’s Alan Turning, developed The Turning machine, it is a theoretical device that consists of tape of unlimited length that is divided into little squares. Each square can hold a symbol, 1 or 0, or be left blank. A read-write device, reads these symbols or blanks and gives the machine instructions to perform a certain program.

Today’s computers work by manipulating bits that exists in one of two states: a 0 or a 1. However, quantum computers are not limited to two states.¬† They encode information as quantum bits, also known as ‘qubits’. Qubits can exist in superposition and represent atoms, ions, photons or electrons and they work together to act as computer memory and a processor. What this means is that a quantum computer can contain multiple states simultaneously, thus giving it the power to supersede classical computers while computing on efficient energy levels.

Energy conservation has been a topic as of late, due to recent research that shows that if we continue on this current market trend, since computers were introduced, by 2040 we will not have the capabilities to power all of the machines around the globe. Hence, the excitement of IBM who sees a big opportunity in quantum computing.

In 1961, IBM’s Research Lab’s Rolf Landauer, found that each single bit operation must use an absolute minimum amount of energy. He went on to formulate a calculation of the lowest limit of energy required for a computer operation. In March of this year, researchers determined it could be possible to make a chip that will operate on the lowest energy levels yet.

Here is what IBM has to say about the development of this energy efficient chip,¬† “IBM’s goal is¬†for its partners¬†to develop applications that demonstrate a business advantage because they run on quantum¬†instead of traditional computers using silicon-based chips. IBM hopes to see such success by 2020, says Gil, though he says IBM is “very honest” about the fact that the technology is still in its early days. ”

 

What Blue Light May Be Doing To Your Sleep Cycle

[caption id="attachment_6829" align="alignnone" width="318"]How to stop blue light on your gadget How to stop blue light on your gadget[/caption]

What Is “Blue Light” and Why Is It Harmful?¬†

By now, most of you have probably heard that blue light from your devices may be affecting your sleep. If you are like most people, you fall asleep reading your tablet or articles on your phone, streaming TV apps or simply browsing the internet. The blue light that your device’s screen emits, stimulates your brain and fools it into thinking that it is daytime. Researchers have discovered that this is eating away at your sleep. In an article from Business Insider, “Studies have shown¬†that being exposed to the blue-and-white¬†light given off by phones, laptops, and other electronic gadgets¬†at night prevents our brains from releasing melatonin, a hormone that tells our bodies it’s nighttime.” Thus, prolonging the time it takes to fall asleep. Researchers believe that after several years of exposure to blue light, your body’s internal clock may suffer.

Studies suggest that you do not use any devices for roughly an hour before bedtime to prevent this. There are also options available on your devices under the display settings to¬†adjust the screen’s temperature to a warmer color and filtering¬†out blue light. Please see link below for device specific instructions.¬†How to stop blue light on your gadget

 

 

 

 

 

 

Law enforcement has dismantled the Andromeda malware family

[caption id="attachment_6822" align="alignnone" width="347"]This malware family refers to variants consisting of backdoors that are tied to the ANDROMEDA botnet. The botnet was first spotted in late 2011. This malware family refers to variants consisting of backdoors that are tied to the ANDROMEDA botnet. The botnet was first spotted in late 2011.[/caption]

Law enforcement has dismantled the Andromeda¬†malware¬†family, which has been infecting computers since 2011.¬†With the help of partners‚ÄĒincluding the FBI, Microsoft, and others‚ÄĒEuropol intercepted¬†the internet traffic between Andromeda-infected computers and the command servers to which the malware was communicating. All that traffic was then “sinkholed” and redirected to servers under the investigators’ control, giving law enforcement a detailed view of the malware’s activities.¬†“According to Microsoft, during 48 hours of sinkholing, approximately 2 million unique Andromeda victim IP addresses from 223 countries were captured,” Europol said.

Andromeda infections happened through attachments from spam email campaigns, tainted downloads from bootleg media websites, and through exploit kits running over hacked websites, according to security firm Avast. Once a computer was infected, Andromeda also acted as a keylogger or a form grabber to steal user IDs and passwords. In addition, it could remotely take control over a PC.

“Andromeda was also sometimes used to download up to 80 other malware families onto infected victim computers,”¬†according¬†to The Shadowserver Foundation, a group of security experts that also helped dismantle the Andromeda botnet.

The main targets of the malware include North America, Asia, and Romania, among others.

Security firm ESET has a free tool that anyone can use to check if they have Andromeda (also known as Wauchos) secretly running on their computer. Systems found infected with Andromeda tend to contain other malware, according to security researchers.

ESET also noted that Andromeda was sold to cyber criminals in underground internet forums. “There is always a possibility that someone will reuse the Andromeda kit to build a new botnet,” the company said in an email.

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MacOS High Sierra

Apple’s macOS High Sierra Root Bug Can Reactivate

According to an article published by PC Magazine, “Last week, Apple was left red-faced after it was¬†discovered¬†a bug in¬†macOS High Sierra¬†allowed anyone to gain root access to the system without a password. The company quickly released a security patch to fix the problem, but it also needed updating with an advisory because it could prevent file-sharing on the Mac. Now another problem has been identified, and it allows the root bug to be reactivated.”

When Apple released the security patch to solve the problem, they did not account for the lack of user participation in running the patch. Users who did engage in running the patch were not currently running macOS 10.13.1. It was reported that some users were running 10.13.0. Everything appeared fine afterwards, however, the 10.13.1 update gets installed and the root bug is reintroduced. Both Apple and the users did not realize this until after the update. Another assumption was that the users would reboot after running the patch, and the majority did not. Thus, causing the patch to be applied incorrectly, leaving your Mac vulnerable.

To avoid this issue, please be sure to upgrade to macOS 10.13.1 prior to running the security patch, followed by a proper reboot of your machine. If you have already gone through the update process and now are not sure if it worked, there is an easy way to check. Simply visit the Apple support page for the update and follow the steps using the Terminal app to confirm.

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