Recently, England’s healthcare system was the victim of a massive cyber attack. The ransomware known as WannaCry locked doctors and employees across at least 25 hospitals out of their networks. Later, it was discovered that the same attack hit multiple organizations across the world. Find out what happened and how it become the largest ransomware attack to date.
What Did WannaCry Demand?
A hacker group known as The Shadow Brokers stole and leaked several Windows’ exploits from the NSA. Within the information leak, a remote code execution vulnerability called ExternalBlue was used to access unsecured computers and install the now infamous ransomware. The computers affected were either not updated or running Windows XP or 2000, which are operating systems that are no longer supported.
The ransomware program is modified version of WannaCrypt, a virus that has plagued computers before. The malicious software locks users from their computers, and then ask them to pay a $300 fee via bitcoin to obtain the encryption key. The longer the user takes to pay the ransom, the higher the fee becomes.
How Did the Virus Make It Onto Computers?
Like many other pieces of malware, WannaCry spread because people didn’t take proper precaution. The virus is believed to have originated from compressed files attached to emails. It’s important to avoid becoming an online victim. This is a topic that we have discussed before because there are a lot of opportunistic groups looking to take advantage of internet users.
Why Are Small and Large Businesses Using Vulnerable Systems?
Upgrading to the newest operating system is not so simple for business. For example, the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) notes that medical equipment uses old operating systems and are not easy to update. Business with multiple computers or larger IT system can also have a hard time updating their infrastructure. Some updates can break key application needed to do work. Companies have to be very careful when performing a companywide update, otherwise, it can critically damage everyone.
While Microsoft has ended support for older operating systems, they recently created a patch to address the incident. Companies using Windows XP, Windows 8, and Windows Server 2003 can now download a patch to protect their computers. If you can, we suggest updating your operating system regularly to avoid risk to your private information.
Are You the Victim of a Cyberattack?
If you notice the telltale signs of a cyber attack on your computer system, call us at Geek Aid. Our IT and networking specialist can help. We offer services like data backups, data recovery, virus removal and more. We even provide recurring updates for companies to prevent attacks from infecting your system and disrupting your business.
One of our services even includes setting your business up with your own private exchange or email setup. That way your email is only distributed to those who need it. Your computer’s security system is important to us. So, call Geek Aid at (877) GEEK-AID today. You can also reach us via email by filling out our contact form.
The government’s stance on the future of the internet has forced several states to take action. In preparation for a possible roll back on the Obama administration’s standing rules, states are making laws of their own. Nevada’s Senate takes the side of those who are for the protection of internet users by introducing Senate Bill 538. This bill hopes to protect the online privacy of Internet users by requiring websites to notify users when they are collecting personal data.
What Is the Bill Trying to Prevent?
The Republican-led government recently voted to roll back the FCC’s privacy regulations. These rules made it mandatory for internet service providers (ISPs) to get your permission before selling your personal data. The House of Representative new bill would allow ISPs to collect and sell information about your browsing history and present users with unwanted advertisements. President Trump has made it known that he is in support of the resolution and plans to sign it.
Nevada’s Bill to Protect Internet Users
The state of Nevada hopes to keep the old rules alive by implementing their variation of the law. Nevada is not the only state either. Other states like Seattle are creating similar bills to protect online privacy, an act that shows their opposition to the current government landscape.
Senate bill 538 states that it is “AN ACT relating to Internet privacy; requiring the operator of an Internet website or online service which collects certain information from residents of this State to provide notice of certain provisions relating to the privacy of the information collected by the operator; and providing other matters properly relating thereto.” The bill also lists several rules that lay out what ISPs can and cannot do.
What Measures Are Consumers Taking?
Nevada’s new bill can potential prevent ISPs from taking advantage of internet users. On the other hand, these rules don’t apply to the rest of the country. Informed consumers are taking matters into their hands by investing in a VPN. A VPN is a way of hiding your activity from ISPs by encrypting your internet connection. Essentially, the only information that your ISP will see is you visiting the VPN, not your internet activity.
The problem with VPNs is that a good one is hard to find. Most VPNs are not as secure as one thinks. Some of these services have even been caught selling the very information that they are responsible for protecting. It is best to do extensive research before purchasing to find out about the company’s background.
The Future of Online Privacy
The FCC’s new Chairman, Ajit Pai, still seeks to move online privacy regulations to the FTC. Without ISP rules, the FCC is hoping that the providers will act in good faith, without betraying the trust of their customers. However, users believe that these service providers will take advantage of an unregulated internet. With many in disagreement with the Trump administration, we may see more and more states making their rules to protect online users.
Through some unfortunate circumstances, you have broken your laptop screen. What used to be your operating system’s display is now obscured by cracks and dead pixels. Unlike a computer monitor, you cannot just unplug the display and replace it with a new one so easily. You may even have to buy a whole new laptop. Before you start to run around in circles, crying out to sky “WHY?! OH! WHY ME?!!!” we may have a better alternative. With the right tools, you can fix the problem yourself and repair your broken laptop screen.
Access Your Laptop’s Damage
It’s important to examine the exact damage to your laptop, which can be the difference between you spending money to fix it yourself or having a professional do it. Also, you don’t want to risk fixing the issue only to have something else be the cause of your display issues. For example, if you accidentally hit the screen with something, your display is most likely the only thing damaged. On the other hand, if you dropped your laptop, you should consider buying a new one.
Most stores or computer repair shops can take a look at your laptop and let you know what you need to do. If you want to find out for yourself if the actual laptop is working, here are the steps you should take. First look for a VGA or HDMI port. Using one of these ports and their respective wires, you can connect your computer to your television. This process will display the images that should be on your laptop screen onto your TV screen. If everything looks fine on your television, then everything should be in working order. Your computer’s graphics card and other internal components haven’t taken any damage.
Buy an LCD Screen
Using your television as a display is a temporary solution to getting stuff done. This setup is not exactly ideal for a person on the move. Connecting the two devices is meant to make your laptop accessible until you can afford to have it repaired or buy the tools you need to fix it yourself.
If you decide to fix your computer, start searching online for a new LCD screen. Buying a new screen online is a rather straightforward and affordable option. Most online retailers (Amazon, Best Buy, etc.) will have the exact replacement that you need. To find the right screen, look up your laptop’s model number.
Replacing Your Broken Laptop Screen
Once you have the screen in your possession, you’ll need a Philips screwdriver, a needle to remove stickers on the laptop’s panel, a flat tool (like a knife) to remove laptop panel, and a container for keeping screws together. Make sure that you have a proper table with enough space to work. For safety reasons, you need to remove your laptops power cord and battery before fixing the display.
On the panel that covers your laptop screen, there are stickers. Remove the sticker to see if there are any screw. Remove any screws holding the panel in place. Next, you are going to carefully use the knife to pry the panel from the back of the laptop case. Once the laptop’s screen is completely exposed, unscrew the screws holding it to the back of the case. After detaching the broken laptop screen from the back panel, unplug it, plug in the new screen and follow these steps in reverse order.
Your computer should be back to its original condition, and you are ready to use it any and everywhere. Need a little help? Call Geek Aid.
Credit and debit cards are our most valued possessions. These tools give us access to our credit and bank accounts from anywhere, so it’s understandable that people want to keep them secure. When payment cards are stolen, thieves can gain the opportunity to take your money or increase your debt.
Card companies know the risk of fraud and people taking your private and personal information. That’s why they are always finding new ways to update the technology built in these cards. MasterCard unveiled its latest developments with the new fingerprint sensor-enabled payment cards.
Developments to Payment Cards
Payment cards have evolved over time. In the 1970’s, financial institutions introduced the magnetic stripe, allowing us to use ATM’s and process sales transactions without cash. The magnetic stripe is still used today, making purchasing items easier. More recently, card companies introduced the chip, which is the standard among Europay, MasterCard, and Visa.
While thieves and scammers can copy the magnetic strip, the chip cannot. Since the chip’s implementation, it’s become harder for scammers to steal and use payment card information.
Many people are already familiar with how to use a payment card. You swipe your card, and as an extra layer of security, you have to type your unique pin number. This pin prevents anyone other than yourself from using your card. Every method adds another layer of security so that only you can access your money.
New Fingerprint Sensors
Biometrics are the newest method of security for technology items. The most well-known adopters are phone makers. The newest smartphones use select fingerprints to provide quicker and more secure access to our phones. Now MasterCard is ready to introduce the technology into their payment card.
The new cards will still keep the magnetic strip and chip. However, they will add digital fingerprint scanner. Before issuing your card, your bank or credit card institution will store an encrypted digital template of your fingerprint on the chip. You have the ability to add two separate prints to the card; however, they can only be yours.
Engadget had a chance to demo the chip and notice positive results recently. You simply insert your card, put your finger on the scanner, and your purchase is complete. Editors at Engadget reports that process was fast and efficient. The card is also no different in size and shape from the general credit or debit card that you carry in your wallet.
The cards are currently available in South Africa for now. MasterCard plans to have the card debut across the world by the end of this year. As a result, we will most likely see banks and other financial institutions implement and distribute these cards to their customers soon after. In the end, the updated technology makes customer financial information safer. The new cards will also save these institutions money they would otherwise lose trying to solve fraud incidents. Hopefully, we will see the cards soon.
The ongoing battle for the future of the internet rages on. At Geek Aid, we’ve discussed the in’s and out of net neutrality. For more than a decade several groups within the FCC have debated time and time again on how the internet should be regulated. Some parties feel like regulations are necessary to prevent business from treating consumer unfairly, while others believe it threatens the spirit of competition among internet providers.
The Obama administration set rules for net neutrality. They reclassified the internet as a telecommunication service. With a new title and standards, the government was able to prevent internet companies from slowing down or blocking certain services. Now that Ajit Pai is the new chairman of the FCC, he has laid plans to strip the internet of its title and reduce regulations.
What Changes Are Coming From the FCC?
Ajit Pai is notorious for being an advocate for fewer regulations, voting against the FCC’s 2015 rules. Like many others, he believes in the idea of competition. His plans to roll back on the Obama administration’s rules include the following:
- Turn the Internet Into a Title I Service – The current Title II ruling for the internet treats it like a public utility. This is the same classification as electricity, water, and natural gas. The new ruling could treat it as an information service, meaning the government has less control over what these companies do.
- Remove the Internet Conduct Standard – This enables the FCC to investigate zero-rating schemes that create fast lanes for certain services over others. With fast lanes being a part of Pai’s agenda, investigations won’t be necessary.
- Review “Bright-Line Rules” – The bright-line rules make it illegal to block access, throttle, or create fast lanes for content online. Removing these rules is the primary focus of Pai’s time as chairman of the FCC.
Recently, the federal court has prevented internet providers from taking Obama’s net neutrality rules to court. While that might sound like good news, it’s not. As Pai’s changes to the FCC becoming more and more of a possibility, federal judges don’t see the point in reviewing rules set to change.
Will the Changes Happen?
It seems likely. The proposal is up for debate within the FCC on May 18th. Many of the FCC’s officials are for Pai’s changes, including the commissioner and senior public servants. The public can voice their opinions to the FCC but ultimately have no say in the vote. The publicly elected representatives are the ones who do. No one knows if they will listen to the vast majority of people for net neutrality.
If and when these rules are in place, the FCC will no longer be in charge of privacy complaints. Instead, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will handle those objections. If you want to make your voice heard, contact the FCC before the vote takes place.
How many times have you come across a website’s contact form to be met with a reCAPTCHA field at the end? We’re also sure that you are familiar with clicking that little “I’m not a robot” box as well. Have you ever wondered what this section is for? Well, as the little box says, it’s to make sure that you are not some robot looking to spam the website owner’s email.
A reCAPTCHA field makes sure that actual people are submitting a request to you. It makes it impossible for a malicious program to enter information into your contact form and send you unwanted messages, or worse, viruses. In 2009, Google acquired this technology and now they are giving it a much-needed upgrade.
How reCAPTCHA Used to Work
The reCAPTCHA program has seen various updates over the years. In the beginning, the system displayed an image where the letters were made up from several photos. It would form two different words that usually had no correlation with one another. Users would then type those words in and click the “I’m not a robot” box to complete the form.
As time moved on and Google acquired the technology, they begin finding new ways to circumnavigate updated robots. Around 2012, they started used photos with house number acquired from Google street view. Two years later, they changed the system by having users identify certain photos in a group of pictures.
What Is the Invisible reCAPTCHA?
This year, Google is rolling out what seems to be the ultimate update to its anti-spam technology. It requires almost no user interaction at all … unless you are displaying suspicious behavior.
Back in 2014, the company created the noCAPTCHA reCAPTCHA. This eliminated all of the tests and security tricky fields meant to keep away sophisticated robots. All users needed to do was check the “I’m not a robot” box and submit their request. How was this new system more secure than previous versions? That’s pretty easy to understand.
Using its new learning and improved risk analysis engine, the system analyzes your browsing behavior. If it believes that you are a human, then you will be able to fill out your form without going through a variety of security fields. However, if it can’t accurately predict your behavior, the engine will see you as suspicious. As a result, it will present you with the CAPTCHA that you are normally used to filling out.
The latest update seeks to eliminate user interactions with the reCAPTCHA altogether. Even the “I’m not a robot” box no longer appears on the user’s screen. Users simply fill out the contact form. This new tech is constantly learning. The more people who fill out contact forms, the more the system is able to determine the difference between someone who it real and one who isn’t.
The “Invisible reCAPTCHA” is set to release sometime this year.
At one point or another, all of us have problems with our computer. The wonderful machine that allows us to do work, browse the interwebs and do a myriad of other things sometimes malfunctions beyond our understanding. At that point, we are calling the computer manufacture only for them to ask us if we tried turning it on and off.
Some of the issues we encounter can be serious threats. Other times, they are simply common computer problems. As a user, you should know how to identify between the two and what to do when you encounter them.
Keeping Your Computer Security Up-to-Date
Viruses and spyware are often a user’s number one concern – as it should be. Online threats are more prevalent today than they have ever been. Your computer’s behavior is a telling sign. Look out for anything peculiar that doesn’t normally happen with your machine. More than likely, your computer is being affected by some kind of malware that you accidently downloaded.
Antivirus software is your best defense against malicious programs. These programs generally work to protect your computer from the latest threats. However, viruses and spyware evolve to work around your computer’s protection software. You have to keep your antivirus software updated. Once you have updated your computer’s security software, run a comprehensive scan. It will weed out any threats to your privacy.
Dealing With Common Computer Problems
If you are experiencing issues with your computer, it will usually tell you. Error messages with alert you of an action that cannot be completed or if you are doing something that conflicts with another program. Sometimes, a computer will only give you the error code, leaving you stumped and confused. A simple Google search will provide you with the answer to the problem. Follow the instruction given to you and everything should be in working order.
If your computer is running slow, check your local disk space. You could have too much saved on your hard drive. Look through your files and erase anything you don’t need. You could also have too many programs running in the background. Go into your settings and open the privacy section. Next, you’ll find a section labeled “Background Apps.” You can turn on and off apps as you see fit.
Preventing Future Incidents
Your computer is an important tool. That’s why you need to be more careful online. When you are browsing the internet, stay away from shady and untrustworthy sites. Also, beware for freeware apps that promise you a service that you would normally have to pay for.
Also, remember that computers can be dumb. Certain parts of your operating system may break or are plagued by a bug. That is why companies release weekly updates. They eradicate common issues that interfere with your computer.
Hopefully, you now have a better idea of what is happening with your computer and if they are just common computer problems. If there are any issues that are beyond your control, then call us at Geek Aid. We are here to solve all of your computer repair issues.
With Apple and iPhone being such a recognizable name, the company’s flagship product was bound to draw the unwanted attention of hackers. Hackers are the seedier parts of the digital world. Furthermore, most of them look for opportunities to exploit technology for their own personal gain. It is not uncommon to hear about hackers making demands and using their skills to access private data.
A hacker group called the “Turkish Crime Family” recently gained media attention. The oddly-named group claims to have access to various user accounts and threatens to use that information to wipe user iPhone data unless Apple pays a hefty ransom.
The Ransom and Threat
The hacker group is asking for $75,000 in Bitcoin or $100,000 in iTunes gift cards. However, some are unsure of the number of accounts the group has access to. They claim to have hundreds of millions in their possession. As a show of force, the Turkish Crime Family revealed 54 accounts.
ZDNet was able to confirm that the accounts are indeed real. No one knows exactly how the hacker group was able to obtain these accounts. Unless Apple pays, they plan to use the account information to access iCloud and remotely erase their data.
Apple Claims iPhone Data Is Safe
Despite the hackers’ forceful demands, Apple is unwilling to give in. Their response is that users accounts are safe. Their statement claims that:
“There have not been any breaches in any of Apple’s systems including iCloud and Apple ID. The alleged list of email addresses and passwords appears to have been obtained from previously compromised third-party services.
We’re actively monitoring to prevent unauthorized access to user accounts and are working with law enforcement to identify the criminals involved. To protect against these type of attacks, we always recommend that users always use strong passwords, not use those same passwords across sites and turn on two-factor authentication.”
How Users Can Protect Their Information
In the event of any breach, real or not, users should stay vigilant. The number of accounts that these hackers claim to have is a lot. As a result, users are taking a risk that their private information can be leaked with others or erased entirely by not doing anything.
What users can do is secure their devices. The first step is to change their iCloud password. Remember, a complex password with capitalizations, symbols, and numbers are harder to crack. Next, update your security settings. Old information is how hackers often gain access to passwords.
The last step you should take is enabling two-factor verification. This security method uses a combination of two components to verify a user’s identity. For Apple, users need their password and a six-digit verification code, which is sent to their most trusted devices, to access their account from a new device.
Whether it’s Siri, Alexa, or Cortana, a lot of technology company are starting to implement voice control technology. As it continues to evolve, we will soon see it everywhere, from our televisions to our appliances. We see the seeds of this evolution from researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). They have developed a low-power chip for automatic speech recognition in electronic devices.
The Rise of Voice Control Technology
It’s amazing how fast voice control technology has caught on with users. According to Timothy Tuttle of MindMeld, more than 10 percent of all global searches were made with voice controls in 2015. That more than 50 billion searches a month – an astonishing number!
Within the past decade, we have seen several advancements. Siri is implemented into all iOS technology, Microsoft experiment with Cortana and the Kinect, and cars are using the technology to assist drivers. As the technology becomes better and more accurate, people are also beginning to see its value.
The New Voice Control Chip
Most voice control technology requires about 1 watt of power to work effectively. MIT has created a new chip that only requires 0.2 to 10 milliwatts of power. This saves devices 90 to 99 percent of the power these chips usually take. Now, smaller and simpler devices can use voice technology without having to worry about the power drain.
Michael Price, the lead designer of the chip and MIT graduate student, has this to say: “I don’t think that we really developed this technology for a particular application … We have tried to put the infrastructure in place to provide better trade-offs to a system designer than they would have had with previous technology, whether it was software or hardware acceleration.”
Who knows what advancements this technology can lead to. The chip makes voice controls possible for a wider range of devices. Hopefully, companies can put the extra power to good use.
The digital world is a dangerous place. There are vultures are out there, who only want to take advantage of you and steal your personal information. However, being vigilante will prevent you from becoming an online victim. At Geek Aid, we are all about cyber security. Here are a few ways that you can protect yourself from dangerous hackers.
Avoid Becoming an Online Victim by Ignoring Dangerous Links
We have discussed the perils of clicking on dangerous links before. They mostly come through emails. That’s why emails have filters to weed out junk mail. They are most likely coming from malicious sites. Never click on an unknown link.
Question Suspicious Emails
Some hackers are clever. They will pretend to be legitimate sources and convince you to give them your personal information. Check the email address to see if it looks suspicious. If they say you owe money, call the company directly and check with a representative to find out if the email is real.
Be Careful What Information You Share Online
Hackers are often able to trick people because they monitor the information they are putting on social media. They will use your interest, location data, and other public knowledge to try and fool you. You can restrict this information by adjusting the privacy settings on all of your social media accounts. Some allow you to restrict who can see what you post, keeping your information invisible from unwanted eyes.
Make Your Passwords Complex and Unknown
We know that passwords can be hard to remember, but you should never use words or phrase that relate to you. This will leave you vulnerable, especially if you use your password as a username elsewhere or if it’s related to information that is public. It is best to create something complex like these:
Ensure that you are hack-proof and protected from becoming an online victim. Remember, always stay safe in the digital world.