Who needs privacy?

With the warnings about the FaceApp app, most people don’t seem to give a crap what any license agreement says. Do you ever read the license agreement or think about what permissions the app wants access to?

Nah! Just want to use the latest viral app.

How many people install an app one day and then forget about it by the following week [if not earlier]?

Some install it only because it went viral and can now boast it is on their phone.

For example, how many people will use the FaceApp on themselves and family and friends and then run out on who to use it on.

[While at it, now the developer has images of family and friends even though those family and friends didn’t give the FaceApp user permission to use their picture.]

No different from the people who post that they are now at the airport taking a flight somewhere and won’t be back home for a couple of weeks [i.e. I’m not home. Rob me!] Wants access to my contacts, photos, camera and documents even though it’s a “flashlight” app? No problem.

I don’t remember the which [business] application for Windows it was but there was one that left a message way down in the EULA [that’s End User License Agreement] that said if you are reading this call a toll free number for a prize/reward. After its release, it took 3 months for someone to call and 2 a few more months for the second and third person to call.

I wish people would take the extra 15-30 seconds and see what is being taken from you.

You need to be smart with smart devices

You’ve heard of smartphones and probably smart TVs. Well, if you visit just about any electronic store, they have been invaded by smart devices.

Walk into some of the bigger stores and you will find maybe more than a dozen different brands. Even more on some online stores.

You can get, for example, smart locks. Say your favorite mother-in-law [!] decides to come for a visit but nobody is home. She calls you. With a few buttons on your smartphone, you can unlock the door and disarm the alarm. You could be thousands of miles away.

Or maybe you get notified that your balcony door has been opened and you know no one is home.

You can even turn on a light remotely [like advertised in a dumb commercial by a dumb telephone company].

You can even program a smart thermostat to lower the temperature when not at home or maybe turn on the air conditioning if the temperature rises over a certain temperature.

All nice and dandy but there are a few issues to think about.

First, with weak passwords is what some people use for their WiFi. A weak password lets them access your home network. Once they can access your home network they can spy on you and maybe even unlock your doors [let alone other things].

Second, when you enable these devices at home, you are effectively giving them access you your life. For example, they know when you come and go from your home. Cameras store information about you.

Third, there are legal issues. For example, if you forget to arm your smart alarm system, your insurance company could ask for the logs to verify if the system was armed or maybe you didn’t secure a back door or a window.

Read the fine print. When you enabled the devices, it could grant the vendor access to quite a bit of data.

The best suggestion is to stick with one company for your devices. For example, if you already have a Samsung smartphone [and maybe other devices from Samsung], consider using Samsung’s smart devices. The same can be said for Apple, Google or others. [As well, if you do have a single vendor, they can’t complain too much about incompatibility and/or blame another vendor].

If you use multiple vendors, that’s many additional passwords – let alone vendors that have your information.

If you do plan on using smart security devices consider checking for a starter kit which will include maybe sensors and a wall plug.

Also check whether your internet or cable provider already have some type of home security options. Part of what you will pay is for third party monitoring [if you choose that option].

Heads up! Out-of-band Security Update for Outlook coming today

Microsoft is expected to release an out-of-band security update for all supported versions of Outlook [the application].

The update is to corrected various issues.

It should be available around 1 pm Eastern time.

[Update: 2017/07/19] The update is delayed – not a good sign. It will now be release during the week of July 24th.

Possible issue with this month’s Windows 10 cumulative update

There has already been reports that this month’s Windows 10 cumulative update (KB3206632) may have an issue regarding Internet connectivity.

Some have reported that after installing and rebooting, they have no Internet access.

Those who are running Pro or Enterprise releases of Windows 10 can delay this update until verified by Microsoft and the update is re-released.

Unfortunately, for Windows 10 “Home” users, there is no option to delay the update.

If you do get this issue [will you be reading this?], the following may work:

  1. Run an elevated command prompt.
  2. Type: ipconfig /release
  3. Type: ipconfig /renew

This may fix the issue. If not technical, you can try the network troubleshooting tool and it should do the same thing. A drastic measure is to remove the network card drivers install them.

 

Apple revenue drops, Cook is still in charge

For the first time in 13 years, Apple’s reported falling revenue in the last three months to $50.6 billion – a decline of 13%. In the first quarter of 2015, Apple announced record revenue from the iPhone. The iPhone pulls in about 66 per cent of all Apple’s revenue with the remainder from Macs and the App Store.

Compare to last year where apple made $53 billion on goods and services. This was an all time high. Compare that to 1996bwhen Apple lost in excess of $1.5 billion and would eventually get a “loan” from Microsoft to hold off in bankruptcy. It is also Apple’s first revenue decline since 2003 [fell 1%].

As 2015 closed, Apple claimed record growth in China for Q4 thanks to new iPhones. 40 per cent growth in iPhone sales and 71% overall. But it turned into an 11 per cent year-one-year decline in the second quarter in China.

Research company Gartner earlier this month reported the era of double-digit market share growth for smart phones is done as it suggested global 2016 growth at 7% as consumers are also starting to hold onto their older phones for longer.

Apple already has stiff competition from cheaper phone providers in China [where Apple never was big] as well as Samsung and others around the world.

Apple is planning a $2 billion inventory reduction to choke off existing supply of iPhones already out there in order to regenerate demand.

Further problems is that under Steve Jobs, Apple innovated. They were the first with a true smartphone and tablets and were a leader for music players. Under current CEO Tim Cook, they seem to be copying everyone else for features.

In the last few years Apple has had many issues which have come up but rarely existed under Jobs. Among them:

  • “AntennaGate” – where holding your smartphone a specific way, reception was bad.
  • Numerous issues when upgrading OS X. For example when El Capitan came out, major upgrade issues. Took 2 updates to correct the problems.
  • An increasing amount of security issues [where odd things allow access to their iGadgets].

Sales of the latest low-end iPhone 6se hasn’t sold well. The latest iPad isn’t selling because older iPads are still functioning [unlike a smartphone, there is no contract for an iPad – so you don’t have to change it every two years]. Apple doesn’t even want to publically say how well the Watch has sold. Not a good sign.

Remember the MacDefender malware in around 2011? When it first came out, Apple sort of denied it even though about 25% of new support forum comments were related to it. After two weeks they acknowledged the issue and said to go buy an ant-virus software [which was unheard of before] from the AppStore [so Apple gets 30% of what you buy – nice – profiting from others’ misery]. Then only 2 weeks later was an update released to combat the issue.

Selling a base model iGadget reduces revenue as the consumer would most likely buy the full version – particularly if a Fanboi or Fangurl. Jobs never wanted to sell an iPad Mini for that reason [among others].

Apple continues to claim the end of the PC era but continues to sell them. Hypocrites.

Time to dump Cook. Surprised the shareholders haven’t done so by now.

Wow – no issues with Microsoft’s monthly patches

Maybe I should hold my breath or jinx things but so far this month of October for Microsoft patches has two interesting facts:

  • We have gone about 4 days now and there is no evidence that there is an issue with any of the patches released this month [this was considered a light month compared to the last few months].
  • This is the first month this year where no patch was released to fix a zero day vulnerability [that is basically a vulnerability that was just released and is being exploited heavily].

We’ll see how long this lasts!

Emergency out of band patch from Microsoft today

Microsoft is to release a critical out-of-band patch today [Monday, July 20] at 1pm EST/10am PST.

As usual, no word on what the patch fixes until it is released.

An out-of band patch is released when an issue is actively being exploited and Microsoft believes it can’t wait for the next “Patch Tuesday” – 3 weeks away.

 

Computer Tip: Helping to protect Internet Explorer

Here are a couple tips to secure Internet Explorer on a stand-alone computer [could apply on a domain as well]. Both of these tips would help prevent having crap like MyWebSearch or Conduit “software” from taking over the browser.

The first tip is to disable the changing of the home page in Internet Explorer.

To apply to all users, use the following registry setting:

 [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Control Panel]
“HomePage”=dword:00000001

On the other hand, if you just want to apply the setting to an individual user [usually on a multi-user computer], use the following setting:

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Control Panel]
“HomePage”=dword:00000001

At any time, you can change the default home page by exiting Internet Explorer, change the settings to zero, go into Internet Explorer and change the home page, exit Internet Explorer and then change the setting back to one.

No reboot is required. Internet Explorer 7 or greater required. When enforced, the option to change is greyed out.
In the second tip, you can prevent changing the default search provider. While you can have more than one provider and can manually choose a different search provider for a particular search [unsure why someone would do that], most will stick with one and have a backup.

To apply to all users, use the following registry setting:

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Infodelivery\Restrictions]
“NoChangeDefaultSearchProvider”=dword:00000001

On the other hand, if you just want to apply the setting to an individual user [usually on a multi-user computer], use the following setting:

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Infodelivery\Restrictions]
“NoChangeDefaultSearchProvider”=dword:00000001

Note: It doesn’t stop the option “Prevent programs from suggesting changes to my default search provider.”

No reboot is required. Internet Explorer 7 or greater required.

Why MyWebSearch is not considered malware it is considered by most as spyware. It obviously uses its own search engine and those who created it are getting paid by unethical people to place their links first. [Hmmm, does Google do that? Another story.] Conduit software isn’t malware either but it seems to get into any browser. It probably more nuisance-ware than anything else. But like MyWebSearch, few like it.

These and others can be preventable by reading what the installation update software is doing to your system. Don’t just click “Next” all the time. Even better, if given the option choose a custom installation [hopefully you do get a way to make sure this crap can be avoided.

As usual, you should test the changes first in a non-production environment [where applicable] first before applying. Also as usual, use at your own risk. Unsure how to use the registry settings or unfamiliar with the registry? Ask a professional.

How does a government not have backups?

It makes you wonder how governments run.

Governments put out laws stating that, depending on what your company or organization do, you must keep backups of all data for a certain number of years or forever [or close to that]. Just in case there is an issue arises, you can go back to a backup and retrieve what you need. An example would be that a spreadsheet was corrupt because of a sudden power failure. In other cases, it is for legal reasons.

So, just yesterday the province of Ontario privacy commissioner announced that the Ontario government broke a law by deleting all emails related to the cancellation of the two gas plants.

The Ontario privacy commissioner found that as recently as January 2013, staff in the former premier’s office asked the secretary of cabinet, Ontario’s top civil servant, how to permanently delete emails and other electronic documents from government databases. [The premier at the time had resigned and a new premier from the same party took over in February 2013.]

So, if you were in the IT department, you would go to backups to restore the deleted data. But from what it looks like there weren’t any. Huh?

No backups? Can your typical user actually delete anything they want on their own?

As a government, you would figure that they would follow rules imposed on companies and organizations by keeping backups for years and that they can not be deleted except only after the end of retention time has passed.

[The story is ongoing. Probably updates to come.]

How to protect yourself when using Facebook

One thing I’ve noticed with some people on Facebook [FB for short] is the amount of information they give out. Some give out some basic information. Others seem to want to give out every part of their life.

Just remember, information you give out on Facebook can be seen by many people [maybe even the world].

Part of the problem is that some information could lead to identity theft. FB [and other social sites] are a treasure trove of information.

As well, looking for a job? The public view [i.e. they are not you’re friend] may give away too much information. Would they hire you if you are into death metal bands or a Celine Dion fan? 🙂

There is an easy way to see what your FB account will look to others.

First. Go to your home page.

Second, click on the little down arrow to the right of Activity Log and select View As….

home page

By default, it shows your FB page as if the person viewing your page isn’t a friend of yours [but has a FB account].

You will see this black bar like below at the top reminding you that your Public view shown. See what kind of information it is giving out.

[In one case, I was looking up a non-friend, and I found out where she lived – way too much information.]

bar

Too much information? [Hopefully not too little!] Go to your account settings and adjust where necessary.

Now from that black bar, if you click on View as Specific Person you can choose one of your friend and see how your page will look to them.

Another way to limit what is viewed, when you post something, is that little pull-down menu [as in below].

friends

At all costs, avoid Public. This means non-friends can see what you posted. Unsure why Only Me would be needed. Custom allows you to do a pick and choose [i.e. certain friend or groups or exclude some friends or groups]. You can also choose Close Friends and Family.  If your friends don’t need to know about family stuff, then don’t choose Friends!

You can also create groups. For example, friends who play Mah-jong or soccer, like a certain band, cat lovers, family plus those who aren’t officially related but are like family, etc.

Make sure vital personal information [you birthday, where you live, etc.] are kept out of public viewing. You even may want to not include or restrict it. Probably most of your [true life] friends know your birthday already, your address, etc. So why publicize it?

To get back to your regular page, just click on the Facebook logo at the top left of the page.