David

  1. Do not use an account with administrative privileges for normal day-to-day activities and web browsing – accounts with lower privileges warn you if a program tries to install software or modify computer settings thus allowing you to decide whether the proposed action is safe.
  2.  Ensure that your operating system and application software is up-to-date – many of the patches issued are to patch security vulnerabilities, the quicker these are patched the lower the risk that your computer can be compromised through known vulnerabilities where fixes are available. This should include up-to-date anti-malware software.
  3. Take care when downloading and installing software, if it is free or is not from a well-recognised and trustworthy brand there is a risk that the software may include features that spy on you (the user), enable unsolicited advertising or install harmful software on your computer.
  4.  Treat with caution unsolicited emails containing attachments or hyperlinks (particularly shortened links), many phishing attacks attempt to trick you into opening a file loaded with malware or to visit a site which runs malicious scripts on your computer
  5. Apply common sense (due diligence), if an email offer looks too good to be true, the prices on a website are abnormally low or you receive an unsolicited telephone call offering computer support – e.g. from someone claiming to be from Microsoft – then it is likely that you are the target of a scam.

Apple has announced that it only expects your £500 iPhones, iPads and Apple Watches to only last three years and Mac computers only four.

As part of the company’s new environmental push, which includes its new Apps for Earth campaign with the WWF, Apple has listed how long it expects its products to last for their “first owners” and therefore how much they contribute to the greenhouse gas lifecycle.

Within a new question and answer section Apple said: “Years of use, which are based on first owners, are assumed to be four years for OS X and tvOS devices and three years for iOS and watchOS devices.”

That assessment doesn’t take into account the recycling of devices, their reconditioning and their resale, of course, but when you buy a new iPhone 6S for £539, Apple only expects it to last three years, something many suspected. Apple has been accused of intentionally slowing down iPhones every time a new one is released, although there is little evidence to support the theory.

Until recently the company only provided software support for an iPhone or iPad for around three years, typically providing two major iOS version updates from the moment they were released. The launch of iOS 8 and then iOS 9, which still supports the iPhone 4S released in October 2011, changed that.

Mac computers, however, have much longer software support lives. The latest version of Apple’s computer software OS X 10.11 El Capitan still supports computers from 2007, despite Apple only expecting Mac computers to last four years.

Apple also slipped up, indicating that it could rebrand its computer operating system OS X as MacOS. The clause talking about the life expectancy of Apple computers originally said it was “assumed to be four years for MacOS and tvOS devices”, but was later changed back into line with current branding to “assumed to be four years for OS X and tvOS devices”.

The MacOS brand ceased to be used after version 9.2 in 2001, replaced by OS X 10.0 Cheetah later that year. Whether the slip up and correction indicates that Apple will switch back to its MacOS branding is unknown. The company could be running into issues with its naming, as OS X – pronounced OS 10 – is currently at version 10.11. Will it continue to use decimal places to describe its new OS versions, or will it revert back to MacOS and release an eleventh version? And will anyone care what it’s called beyond technology enthusiasts?

Great News for iPhone Users

Apple has said sorry to iPhone customers whose phones were disabled after third-party repairs, and issued a fix for the problem.

Some users found that their iPhone stopped working following servicing by a non-Apple technician and saw an “error 53” message in iTunes.

Previously, Apple had said the error was a “security measure” taken to prevent fraudulent transactions.

Now, the company has released a software update to fix the error.

In a statement, Apple said that “error 53” occurs when a device fails a standard security test designed to ensure that the Touch ID fingerprint scanner is working correctly.

However, the company added: “We apologise for any inconvenience, this was designed to be a factory test and was not intended to affect customers.

“Customers who paid for an out-of-warranty replacement of their device based on this issue should contact AppleCare about a reimbursement.”

A software update has now been released so that iPhone customers with disabled phones may restore their device via iTunes on a PC or Mac.

Apple ‘prodded’

“To me, there was a lot of logic in what they said around the ‘error 53’ element,” said mobile analyst Ben Wood at CCS Insight.

“If you’re using your fingerprint to unlock sensitive data or make payments and there was the ability for someone to replace the screen and modify the module to take control of your phone – that’s not a good thing at all.”

Mr Wood added that Apple faced something of a backlash over the error after it appeared “retrospectively” on repaired phones following a software update, and was not something iPhone users had expected. Apple had even faced a class action lawsuit led by a Seattle-based firm over error 53-disabled phones. “I think it’s a sensible decision by Apple, If they’ve found a way to allow people to do repairs to the phone without that error occurring, that’s great news.”

Researchers have discovered a bug that could affect hundreds of thousands of internet-connected devices, apps and software.

The flaw makes it possible for an attacker to  remotely take control of hardware such as computers, internet routers and smartphones. Found in one of the building blocks of the internet, it could also affect websites and apps.

A patch has now been released to fix the vulnerability, but it still needs to be widely adopted.

What devices are affected?

The vulnerability affects devices that run the Linux operating system. While exact figures for how many devices may be affected are not available, they could include surveillance cameras, wireless routers, servers and internet of things devices, such as smart washing machines.

“Sometimes baby cameras run Linux as well, and they’re sometimes connected to the internet,” said Steven Murdoch, a security researcher at UCL. “There has been concern that these had security vulnerabilities that would allow people to access them. This is another example of those vulnerabilities.”

The bug could also affect Linux computers, Bitcoin software and anything built using the Python, PHP and Ruby on Rails programming languages. Examples of services that use these languages include Dropbox, Facebook and Twitter.

Google’s Android runs on Linux, but “most Android phones will not be affected because they use a different version,” said Murdoch. But some Android apps could be affected. Major systems like Windows and Apple’s OS X are not affected.

What is the bug?

The bug was discovered by Google security researchers. It was found in glibc, an open source library of code that is used in web development and internet-connected devices. “Glibc is one of the core parts of the Linux operating system,” said Murdoch.

There is a flaw in the code, which could be exploited let an attacker remotely access a device that uses the operating system. Google discovered that the flaw has been in the code since 2008.

The Google researchers said that “to our surprise” the people who maintain glibc were alerted of the bug in July 2015.

“We couldn’t immediately tell whether the bug fix was underway, so we worked hard to make sure we understood the issue and then reached out to the glibc maintainers,” said the Google security researchers.

A separate team of security researchers at Red Hat were already studying the bug’s impact.

What can you do to protect yourself?

“The main thing to do is regularly download the security updates for connected devices,” said Murdoch.

Companies have been known to stop releasing security updates when they stop selling a product. Murdoch urges customers to complain in this instance.

“If they’re not getting updates then they should complain,” he said. “Manufacturers are responsible for providing updates, as connected devices are inevitably going to have vulnerabilities like this at some point.”

Google has released a security patch for developers that have used the system. And it has created what is known as a “proof of concept” attack, which developers and manufacturers can use to test their software for the flaw.

Reported from the Daily Telegraph

It is the message of certain doom and will render your Apple iPhone completely useless and worthless and there is no fix or warning.

Thousands of iPhone 6 users claim they have been left holding almost worthless phones because Apple’s latest operating system permanently disables the handset if it detects that a repair has been carried out by a non-Apple technician.

The issue appears to affect handsets where the home button, which has touch ID fingerprint recognition built-in, has been repaired by a “non-official” company or individual. It has also reportedly affected customers whose phone has been damaged but who have been able to carry on using it without the need for a repair.

But the problem only comes to light when the latest version of Apple’s iPhone software, iOS 9, is installed. Indeed, the phone may have been working perfectly for weeks or months since a repair or being damaged.

After installation a growing number of people have watched in horror as their phone, which may well have cost them £500-plus, is rendered useless. Any photos or other data held on the handset is lost – and irretrievable.

Tech experts claim Apple knows all about the problem but has done nothing to warn users that their phone will be “bricked” (ie, rendered as technologically useful as a brick) if they install the iOS upgrade.

Apple say – “When an iPhone is serviced by an unauthorized repair provider, faulty screens or other invalid components that affect the Touch ID sensor could cause the check to fail if the pairing cannot be validated. With a subsequent update or restore, additional security checks result in an ‘error 53’ being displayed … If a customer encounters an unrecoverable error 53, we recommend contacting Apple support.” – in other words pay us what we want to fix your phone or else!

So if you have had your iPhone repaired by an unauthorised Apple Tech (and therefore a lot cheaper) do not run the upgrade

It was announced at the weekend that  a County Council (Lincolnshire) had been hit by a Ransomware demand for a £1 Million ransom to unscramble their data. Ransomware encrypts data on infected machines and only unscrambles it if victims pay a fee.

Presently, the attack appears to have been distributed via email, so once again users are advised to exercise great caution over what they run on their computers – especially if it arrives via unsolicited email.

So how can you prevent an attack:-

  1. Have a good anti-virus package that is updated regularly and sweeps your computers on a frequent basis.
  2. Ensure that your anti-virus software links into your e-mail program and removes any viruses that are sent to you.
  3. If you see an e-mail from somebody you don’t know – don’t open it.
  4. If you get an e-mail from somebody you do know but it looks strange (just a website address for instance) – don’t open it. They might have the infection it is trying to spread itself.
  5. Regularly back-up all your important data.
  6. Use common sense and err on the side of caution – if it doesn’t look or feel right then it probably isn’t.

If you are caught don’t pay – your computer may have to be wiped and start again, but if your back-ups are up to date this will be an annoyance more than anything but it is better than paying a ransom.

We are now exactly 6 months into the offer from Microsoft to upgrade your Operating System to Windows 10.  Anybody who knows me would say have you upgraded your own computers as you always claim never to upgrade to a new OS until Service Pack 1 has been issued to fix the major errors.

Well in this case I have upgraded just about all of my PC’s and Laptops – except those which are used for specific tasks – and I must say I like Windows 10.  There are still some bits I find annoying, but on the whole I think it is an improvement. Boot times are much faster, and things just seem to work. So I recommend that you upgrade without delay and start getting used to the new system.

One or two caveats though:-

  1. Before you run the upgrade Back up everything important like documents, emails, etc. The process shouldn’t lose anything but you never can tell.
  2. During the upgrade process you will be asked if you want to do an Automatic (recommended) update or manually configure. I recommend the manual configuration as this allows you to select what information your system will send to Microsoft about your system on a regular basis.
  3. The process can take a few hours depending on your PC and Internet Connection (If you are on a Monthly Download Limit take care) but for most of the time you can just leave it alone and it will upgrade away on its own.

If you need any help or advice, please do not hesitate to call

Engineer phone scams

A scammer will call and tell you that you have got a virus on your computer, and that only they can help you remove it. They’ll pretend to be from Microsoft or some other big name, and talk you into downloading some form of software that allows the caller to access your computer, so that they can ‘remove the virus’.

Once you give them access, they will put an actual virus on your computer and demand a huge fee to remove it. However, they have also got access to your financial details so the scam doesn’t end when they’ve removed the virus.

They will almost certainly try to empty your bank account or spend on your credit card too. They have even called me on this one but I confused them by asking which of the many computers I was on had the virus (well I am a techie after all) and he couldn’t answer so I hung up. But I know of one person who lost £4,000 because of this very scam and i had to clean their computer.

What is end of support?

Starting from 12 January 2016, only the most current version of Internet Explorer available for a supported operating system will receive technical supports and security updates. Internet Explorer 11 is the last version of Internet Explorer, and will continue to receive security updates, compatibility fixes and technical support on Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10.

Internet Explorer 11 offers improved security, increased performance, better backward compatibility and support for the web standards that power today’s websites and services. Microsoft encourages customers to upgrade and stay up-to-date on the latest browser for a faster, more secure browsing experience.

What does this mean?

It means that you should take action. After 12 January 2016, Microsoft will no longer provide security updates or technical support for older versions of Internet Explorer. Security updates patch vulnerabilities that may be exploited by malware, helping to keep users and their data safer. Regular security updates help protect computers from malicious attacks, so upgrading and staying current is important.

Just to re-assure our Customers we have checked our Systems and found that they are NOT vulnerable to The OpenSSL Heartbleed.

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