Recently, CNN.com ran a story about Marriott being fined $600,000 by the FCC after they were found to have blocked the use of personal Wi-Fi hotspots in their conference centers, leaving guests with little choice but to pay the hotel for Wi-Fi internet access if they needed to stay connected. Though Marriott’s method didn’t involve outright jamming of the radio signals used in Wi-Fi networks, it does illustrate how hotels (and practically anyone else offering public Wi-Fi service, for that matter) have the capability to use legitimate network security tools to prevent people from using the Wi-Fi hotspot service they pay for.
Microsoft may have discontinued official support for Windows XP back in April, but depending on the estimate you hear, as many as two thirds of Windows PCs still run Windows XP. While nothing will stop anyone from continuing to use XP as they always have, no new security patches or updates will be made available to Windows XP users going forward (even though they were nice enough to make a one-time exception for the Heartbleed bug). With that in mind, I’ve put together a short list of simple things anyone continuing to use XP can do to help protect their computers.
Time to answer a reader question from my buddy Eric, who is in a bit of a dilemma after his MicroSD card flaked out on him:
I have a Micro SD card in my Blackberry that simply quit working. I’ve tried it in multiple computers and devices and none of them will read it. So even data recovery software is useless given that the card can’t be read. What’s weird is that the card looks perfectly fine physically and I didn’t drop it, etc. So, any suggestions, or am I effed? (I lost pics of my daughter and about 80 audios from PWInsider.com!) Thanks Stu!
Don’t lose hope yet, Eric: there are a few things you can try. I can’t guarantee that any of them will work, but if the data does still exist on that MicroSD card, I have three ways you might be able to recover it.
A few months back, I posted a blog talking about how adamantly against the idea of password managers I am. I said that password managers are a huge security risk because you’re putting all your passwords to everything in a single location that might as well have a neon sign on it that says “KEYS TO EVERYTHING HERE”. I got a lot of responses from people who said I was being too uptight and gave me all kinds of reasons why they’re perfectly safe to use, but recent findings from a team of researchers back up what I initially said: password managers are a prime target for attackers, and it was just a matter of time before someone found a way to exploit them.
While many have begun looking internationally for services where their data will be safe from US government surveillance in the wake of the Edward Snowden/NSA scandal of 2013, the US government has drawn a big line in the sand by saying that companies doing business in the United States must comply with requests for data even if it’s stored on servers outside the United States. This interpretation of the law was used when the US Justice Department recently ordered Microsoft to hand over emails stored on servers in Ireland, and is becoming increasingly typical of issues concerning the chronically grey area of online law enforcement.
While a lot of people find it extremely handy that Google has sent cars around to map nearly the entire United States (and many other places) down to the street level, others aren’t exactly comfortable with the idea of absolutely anybody being able to not only find their address online fairly easily, but also use Google Maps to see what their house actually looks like. Aside from just being able to see the house, there’s also concerns about what else Google might have picked up while driving around: children playing outside, license plate numbers, or any of a number of other potential privacy issues.
People stream a lot of video these days, and whether it’s Youtube, episodes of Dancing With The Stars from ABC’s website, Netflix, or a variety of other sources, streaming video has become so accessible to the average person that a lot of people are starting to cancel their cable TV service and just stream everything they watch.
However, the more time people spend watching streaming video, the more they notice increasingly common technical issues. Have you ever been watching a perfectly clear video that suddenly becomes so blocky that the people look like they’re made of Legos? Or been watching coverage of a major news story or a big sports game, and the video stops every ten seconds while a message pops up on screen to inform you that the video is buffering? Or worst of all, have you ever gotten the dreaded “I’m sorry, this video is not available at this time” message?
As many of you may have heard, a major Internet security flaw called Heartbleed has recently been discovered, though it has been around for a couple of years. It affects about two thirds of Internet web servers and compromises the security that protects your data, passwords and interactions. Many of the Internet services you use both personally and professionally may have been compromised. The nature of this flaw is such that it can be accurately detected if a site is vulnerable, but not whether cybercriminals have actually exploited the flaw to breach the site’s security.
Because of this, you can expect to receive notices for many of your Internet accounts to reset your password as a precautionary measure. It is important that you consider the following guidelines:
Time to dip back into the reader mail! Today’s question comes from Tim P., who had some questions about his recent attempt at BYOD:
“I have a question for you: at my job, me and the other people in my group spend a lot of time going back and forth between each other’s offices, and since the company gave us all laptops, we thought it would make our lives easier if we bought a wireless router so we can take our laptops with us whenever we need to move around. The IT department found out what we did and made us stop using it. I’m not gonna lie, we tried to use it anyway once after they left for the day but they somehow blocked it and it wouldn’t work even when we plugged it into other outlets that we know work.
So I have to know, how did they figure out we were using it (nobody knew we had it except us), how did they block it, and why is it such a big deal?”
Today’s blog is in response to a reader question from Greg H., who wrote in to ask about virtualization. He hears the tech guys at work talking about all kinds of virtual machines and virtual servers, but feels out of the loop because he doesn’t really know what they’re talking about. So for Greg and everyone else, here’s the skinny on virtualization.