Technology never stops moving and it’ll be amazing to see what new advancements we will have in the world of tomorrow. As one the leading computer companies in America, Microsoft is constantly pushing the envelope of what it can do with its technology. Even the smallest advancements hold value. Take the “Modern Keyboard” for example. Microsoft’s latest accessory wants to reinvent how we use the age-old device. Find out everything you need to know about the Modern Keyboard. Their inventive twist to these classic computer accessories might make it your next purchase.
Fingerprint Sensor Integration
Biometrics are the latest security measure being implemented in various devices. You see them often in smartphones and tablets. Even using your fingerprints for online purchases and as sign-in credentials are becoming more and more commonplace. Microsoft’s Modern Keyboard brings that natural evolution to their home computer.
Built for the next generation of Windows 10 devices, the Modern Keyboard features a fingerprint sensor. Seamlessly integrated into the keyboard as another button, users simply have to press and hold their finger on it to activate the sensor.
Built for Durability
When you buy any device or accessory, you want to know that it will last. Microsoft made sure to craft this new device with an aluminum frame for durability. While heavy, the company also describes the keyboard as “thin & strong,” as well as “virtually indestructible.” This premium keyboard is sure to last users a long time. It’s also the perfect option for those who need it on the move.
Another great feature that is built into the Modern Keyboards is it’s wired and wireless interface. The keyboard has Bluetooth pairing capabilities, allowing it to connect to devices that support Bluetooth 4.0 or higher. This applies to non-Windows devices as well.
According to Microsoft, they “optimized the Bluetooth pairing experience, enabling automatic pairing when you connect the cable at first OOBE.” This makes pairing simple and intuitive. It also has a 2.4 GHz frequency range, which allows it to work up to 33 feet away from a device or 17 feet if you are in an office setting.
When Will the Modern Keyboard Release?
Microsoft has yet to give a release date for the Modern Keyboard. We know that the accessory will cost $129.99 at retail, with a 1-year warranty. It also includes a rechargeable battery that lasts up to 4 hours on a full charge.
Along with the Modern Keyboard, Microsoft unveiled the Modern Mouse. This device sports a sleek look and a metal scroll wheel. It also has wireless Bluetooth, working with Bluetooth 4.0 supported devices. No release date has been announced for this device as well but it will retail for $49.99.
Design wise, both devices are silver and gray. The Modern Keyboard has flat, square shaped keys that match the look and feel of their latest Surface models. These two devices should make a wonderful addition to the Microsoft’s collection of electronics. We look forward to seeing more technological advancement from Microsoft in the future.
It seems harder and harder to protect your computer from security threats and virus. Hackers are constantly trying to gain access to your computer system using the latest tricks and cons. We’ve discussed before how to protect yourself from malicious malware. For example, if you click on a suspicious link in an email, there a good chance you’re inviting a virus to infect your computer. However, a new report suggests it might not be enough. A new virus is now able to infect your computer the moment your mouse hovers over the link.
Malicious Malware Installs Banking Trojan
What’s a Banking Trojan? It’s a type of malware that is designed to break into an online bank account and move a person’s money into a hacker’s bank account. In the U.S., these trojans steal millions of dollars from business and personal accounts. Companies and organization are usually the targets of these nefarious campaigns.
Research by cyber security company Trend Micro and information security blog Dodge This Security revealed a new malware downloader is installing banking Trojans. What makes this particular malware stand out is that users don’t even have to click on anything for it to activate. All users have to do hover their mouse cursor over a hyperlink in a PowerPoint file.
These attacks were largely made against companies and organizations in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Hackers sent PowerPoints containing the Trojan via spam email. These emails were disguised as finance-related, making the user believe they were related to a recent order or invoice.
Older computer systems are more at risk than new ones. While the malicious malware does try to automatically download onto your computer, the latest Microsoft Office will ask you beforehand. This provides the user a security measure to prevent the virus from affecting you. However, older versions of Office will execute the PowerPoint file.
Keeping Your Computer Safe
Many companies do not update their computer’s operating system or applications. Working off of older technology leaves them vulnerable to attack and without that added layer of security that they need. Unfortunately, just like we saw with the WannaCry situation, it isn’t so easy for large scale companies to update their computer systems.
A good antivirus software will help to protect your computer from an attack like this. Trend Micro was able to detect 1,444 spam emails last month. Another way to avoid becoming a victim of online theft is by looking out for suspicious emails from unknown senders. These are often the most dangerous types of emails with hackers hoping that you will download its contents.
If you are a small or big business, your computer system is a target. It is best to invest in protecting your company’s private and important information. At Geek Aid, we can assist you with business IT solutions, including:
- Performance Enhancements on Computers
- Crash Repairs
- Data Recovery
- Data Backup
- Security From Thieves and Competitors
- Email Setup
- Technology Consultation
Don’t leave your company’s security system at risk. Call Geek Aid at 877-GEEK-AID for computer and technical support.
There appears to be no rest for the world of cyber security. Hackers are vigilant and in order to keep the personal and private information of the public safe, cyber security experts must be as well. A popular target for hackers are smartphones and other mobile devices. As people rely more and more on this form of technology for everyday task, the more likely they become a victim of security threats. The companies who create these devices constantly update them to prevent such events. However, hackers are crafty. For example, their newest method to hack your phone involves using cutting-edge voice hacking.
Mimicking You Through Voice Hacking
While still in its infancy, sending commands to your smartphone or mobile device via voice controls is on the rise. Digital assistants like Siri, Cortana, Alexa, and others are becoming an essential part of the user experience. Even Apple has dedicated their time to updating Siri with a better intelligence.
What’s troublesome is that hackers can record audio samples while you are engaging with these digital assistants. They are able to mimic your voice, convincing other that they are you. This malicious technology allows hackers access to personal accounts and security mechanisms.
In an interview with Forbes, Yuval Ben-Itzhak, chief technology officer at AVG, warns against using speech recognition apps, recommending that users disable them right away. “At the moment, leaving biometric technology as it is today is like leaving a computer without a password and just allowing anyone to walk by, click and take an action,” says Ben-Itzhak.
Stopping Voice Hacking in Its Tracks
The researchers at the University at Buffalo have the same thoughts as Ben-Itzhak. That’s why they’ve developed a way to detect and prevent hackers from using obtaining your voice patterns. The engineers were able to create an app that stops voice hacking using a smartphone’s existing components.
“Technology is advancing so fast; we have to think of different ways. The strategy is using multiple lines of defense. We call that defense in depth,” says Kui Ren, Ph.D., director of the Ubiquitous Security and Privacy Research Laboratory (UbiSeC) at UB, and one of the study’s lead authors.
Ren and his team’s study focused on hackers replaying someone’s voice to access a device. Hackers will use speakers to perform such a task. The app uses the following tools:
- A magnetometer in a phone to detect the speaker’s magnetic field.
- The phone’s trajectory mapping algorithm to measure the distance between the speaker and the phone.
The app also uses movement to detect the difference between a person and a replayed voice, the latter’s magnetic field changes when moved.
“We cannot decide if voice authentication will be pervasive in the future. It might be. We’re already seeing the increasing trend,” Ren said. “And if that is the case, we have to defend against voice replay attacks. Otherwise, voice authentication cannot be secure.”
This research is crucial to keeping digital users safe. Some technology already exists that prevent other forms of voice hacking from occurring. Hopefully, people will soon be able to add the University at Buffalo’s app to their phone’s security.
Apple announced several updates are coming to their iOS devices this Fall. The company is giving iPhone and iPad users access to new features with iOS 11.
“iOS 11 gives iPad users the powerful app functionality they need to take advantage of everything iPad is capable of, and brings hundreds of new features and incredible updates to the iOS apps iPhone and iPad users enjoy every day,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering.
Apple praises iOS 11 as “A giant step for iPhone. A monumental leap for iPad.” It’s hard not to see why. These long-awaited features are set to give users more options. Let’s walk through what Apple users can expect this Fall.
New iOS 11 Features
- Customizable Dock – On iPad, iOS 11 gives users more customization options, making it even more powerful. The new customizable dock grants access to frequently used apps and documents. Furthermore, you can customize the dock with your favorite apps. The dock even suggests apps that you have used recently or on other iOS devices.
- Multitasking Features – Switching between apps is now easier thanks to Split View and Slide Over. The new updates allow you have two apps open at the same time. You simply drag an app from your dock to your main screen.
- Files – This app is perhaps the biggest feature coming with iOS 11. You can control the file storage on your devices. Not much is known about this feature. However, we do know that the Files app will give users access to stuff stored on iCloud and other storage services.
- Apple Pencil Support – The update will allow the Apple Pencil more functionality on the iPad. Users are now able to markup PDFs and screenshots, take notes on the lock screen and draw in the notes app.
- AR Functionality – With the ARKit, developers can easily build new and exciting AR experiences. Using the built-in camera of iOS devices, users can experience what Apple calls “detailed and compelling virtual content on top of real-world scenes for interactive gaming, immersive shopping experiences, industrial design and more.”
- Updated Siri – Apple’s premier personal assistant Siri is set to become a whole lot smarter. By adding new AI technology, Siri will sound more realistic than ever. Siri can also offer suggestions based on what apps you use, learning about your interest and curating the content you see in apps like News and Safari.
- Enhanced Do Not Disturb – The updated Do Not Disturb feature can determine when you are driving and prevent calls, text messages, and notifications from reaching you during that time. People who are trying to get in touch with you automatically receive a message that you are on the road.
Apple announced a ton of other announcements at their conference. They revealed new products and features like the HomePod, iMac Pro, and updated App Store on iOS devices. In addition to these products, the company also detailed their new macOS operating system. You can check out everything the company has to offer by visiting their website. Keep visiting the Geek Aid blog for more on the future of mobile technology.
Google Chrome is arguably one of the most popular web browsers available. Starting next year, the web browser will make a step towards improving the user experience. With new ad-filtering technology, Chrome users are protecting from spamming ads, pop-ups, and auto-playing ads. These types of online advertisements are often intrusive to the user.
“The reality is, it’s far too common that people encounter annoying, intrusive ads on the web — like the kind that blare music unexpectedly or force you to wait 10 seconds before you can see the content on the page,” Google SVP of ads and commerce Sridhar Ramaswamy says. “These frustrating experiences can lead some people to block all ads — taking a big toll on the content creators, journalists, web developers and videographers who depend on ads to fund their content creation.”
The Coalition for Better Ads
The Coalition for Better Ads is a group of international trade associations and companies involved in online media. The group’s hope is to provide a balance between the ads online and a better user experience. The Coalition understands that ads can be disruptive to the user experience. They even go so far as to list several types of ads on desktop and mobile devices that users find annoying. These ads include the following:
- Pop-Up Ads
- Auto-Playing Video Ads With Sound
- Prestitial Ads With Countdown
- Large Sticky Ads
Mobile Web Experiences
- Pop-Up Ads
- Prestitial Ads
- Ad Density Higher Than 30 Percent
- Flashing Animated Ads
- Auto-Playing Video Ads With Sound
- Postitial Ads With Countdown
- Full-Screen Scroll Over Ads
- Large Sticky Ads
The Coalition is made up of 27 members, including Google. The group discovered which ads were the most disruptive by polling more than 25,000 consumers. Chrome’s update next year could be a response to meeting the Better Ads Standards that the group set.
Building a Better User Experience Through Chrome
Many believed that Google would create an ad-filtering version of Chrome. Through most of their policies, Google always strives to put the user experience over everything else. As the update goes into effect, the Ad Experience Report may change as well. By using this tool created by Google, publishers can see if their ads are violating the Better Ads Standards.
What’s interesting is that Google itself makes a generous amount of revenue from advertisements – to be exact, they make $20 billion almost every quarter. Time will tell how the new update will affect their income.
Google also wants to make sure that the companies producing the ads aren’t put at a disadvantage. The search engine giant is rolling a tool called Funding Choices, which is now in beta. It allows advertisers to send a message to visitors using an ad blocker. The message either invites users to enable ads on their site or pay to remove ads altogether. This allows publishers to continue gaining revenue despite the loss in ads.
Looking towards the future, Ramaswamy states that “We believe these changes will ensure all content creators, big and small, can continue to have a sustainable way to fund their work with online advertising.”
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.