Hands up if you need a Smartphone Pledge!

Over the last few days, a few articles have come my way (including one I wrote myself) about smartphone addiction and the impact of our ‘always connected’ society. My favourite so far has been this fromm Joe Kraus at Google Ventures: http://joekraus.com/were-creating-a-culture-of-distraction

Hi, my name is Sonia and I’m addicted to my smartphone. Except it’s not my phone itself per se, it’s that feeling of knowing what is going on right now and what my internet friends are talking about. I’ve reverted to my teenage self and I don’t want to miss out, on anything, even for an hour.

The problem is that I am missing out. I’m missing out on the present. And yes, as new agey as it sounds, with the background of all of those talks that tell us to ‘truly be in the moment’, I’m missing out on what is going on in front of me. That’s kind of important when you have a family.

Don’t get me wrong – I still love to reach for my phone to look up the opening hours of a store or find a recipe or check if a TV program is on tonight. But I don’t need to constantly check it to see who’s posted what on Facebook and Twitter.

So I think someone needs to start up a website with a Smartphone Pledge. You could then sign this ‘contract’ and commit to it for a certain period of time (start with one day if you are seriously addicted, or one week, one month, or even until further notice?).

I’ll start with a few Pledge condition ideas:

– I pledge to not check my Smartphone before I’ve had a shower and eaten breakfast.

– I pledge to not have my Smartphone within reach during mealtimes.

– I pledge to go to the bathroom without my Smartphone.

– I pledge to not have my Smartphone when I am a passenger in a vehicle.

Is this all a bit much? Are we going to far here, or not far enough?

Today I discovered that my parents do not have email on their iPhone. It’s distracting. If somebody wants them urgently, they’ll call them or SMS. They don’t feel it’s necessary to check out what their friends are doing today or to share their day online. I don’t think that our teenagers or most Gen Xers even could cope with that.

We are the generations that have embraced technology. I know and share with a great bunch of people online that I would never have met in real life and I feel richer for it. But now I have another thing to add to my juggling act of balancing my life, to ensure I’m truly present for my kids and to show them have to squeeze the joy out of the present moment. If I don’t, they’ll grow up glued to their phones too. So you see, there is a lot at stake here.

Pass me that pledge to sign, please.

-SCuffy

P.S. If it’s the ‘meal out with friends’ that sees all of the smartphones in hand, check out the Phone Stacking game http://www.news.com.au/technology/smartphones/phone-stacking-game-to-get-friends-off-mobiles-at-meal-time/story-fn6vihic-1226247534506

Advertisements

BigPond ADSL – Your ADSL Service Cancellation Notice email

Disturbing email doing the rounds over the long Easter weekend in Australia, pretending to be from BigPond. I’m blogging about this in the hope that you’ll find this entry if you receive that email and Google it first.  It’s a scam, and a very clever one.

First the details: sender address ebilling@bt.com (that’s your first alarm bell-bt.com is not a bigpond or telstra domain name)

Subject: Your ADSL Service Cancellation Notice (second alarm bell – I am not and have never been a BigPond ADSL customer)

Text: Dear BigPond User,

Telstra BigPond is sending you this e-mail to inform you that our service to you could be suspended. This might be due to either one of the following reasons:

1. You have changed your billing address.

2. You have Submitted incorrect information during bill payment process. (third alarm bell – bad english & capital letter in middle of sentence)

3. Your credit/debit card has expired.

4. You didnt update your bigpons profile. (fourth alarm bell-missing apostrophe and now bigpond has lost its capitals)

According to above(more bad english), and to ensure that your service is not interrupted, we request you to confirm and update your billing information now BY CLICKING HERE. (another alarm bell-Telstra will never ask you to do this and definately never in capitals)

If you have already confirmed your billing information then please disregard this message as we are processing the changes you have made.

Regards,

Telstra

Billing Department

Thanks for your co-operation

Accounts Management As outlined in our User Agreement, Telstra (r) will periodically send you information about site changes and enhancements.

OK, so there are a few things in there to make you question the email, but the real surprise is the lengths they have gone to with the fake website, and what they have the cheek to ask you for.  When you click on the link, you are taken to a page that looks very much like a Telstra website:

The logo is there and the links at the bottom even point to pages on the real Telstra website.  But the big alarm bell here is this statement: “This is a secure page. Telstra has implemented SSL security technology designed to prevent unauthorised people from reading this page, or the information you send to us via this page.”  Ah no, actually that page is not secured by an SSL certificate, as the address at the top does not appear as https:// and there’s no little golden locked padlock showing in my browser.

So let’s see how far we can push this thing?  Enter a username & password – just anything, make it up .. and you get to page 2 – Thank you for confirming your identity.  And now the fun begins. They want your name, credit card details, billing address, phone number, home phone, date of birth and drivers license number.  Excuse me? I don’t think so.

So we make up some more fake info and submit it, and we get a short confirmation page which then redirects us to the real Telstra website.

Apart from wondering how on earth it can validate a completely made-up username and password, there are elements in there to really make you think it is legitimate.  The site is hosted by e3event.com which is in Indian company.  I’ve forwarded this email to Telstra to get their comment, but I’m betting my money it’s a fake. And if it is, it’s a good one.

The best scammers know that instead of spending their time trying to break technology’s security measures, they just need to take advantage of our human nature and gain our trust. With a few chosen words and a carefully placed logo, we believe they are Telstra and we’re going to lose our internet connection. The easiest way for them to gain access to your personal information is for them to to ask you for it. 

Another concern is the timing of this. It was reported to a few Computer Troubleshooters franchisees as appearing over the Easter long weekend, which was a 5 day public holiday in Australia this year due to the ANZAC Day commemoration.  The billing departments of all corporations were closed (internet providers only run technical support on weekends) and who wants to be without their internet for 5 days because you decided to wait & phone Telstra to check it out first?

So, now you’ve been warned, and you’ve seen why I think this is a scam. I’ll let you know Telstra’s reply when I get it (hopefully tomorrow – at 9pm their privacy department isn’t open).

-SCuffy

Issues with security update patch for IE7 WinXP KB2416400?

Our friends at the Kaseya NOC have decided not to rollout out a Microsoft security patch just released for Internet Explorere 7 machines (on Windows XP).  They’ve seen some issues once it’s been installed and there are a few blog sites with people reporting problems.  Suggest hold off installing this one for a while until it’s sorted:

“Post: We have noticed that after applying the patch KB2416400 (MS10-090), when browsing a particular site, all links stop working following clicking a link to open a java script pop-up window. Hitting F-5 to reload the page restores functionality of the links. So to avoid this miss-functionality we have denied this patch from all Virtual Manage machines.

http://social.answers.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/InternetExplorer/thread/eec87070-61eb-4fbd-aa45-911206f7039b

https://blogs.technet.com/b/wsus/archive/2010/12/16/important-questions-regarding-ms10-090-kb2416400-internet-explorer-cumulative-security-update.aspx

https://blogs.technet.com/b/sus/archive/2010/12/16/update-on-a-couple-issues-we-are-seeing-related-to-detection-and-installation-of-ms10-090-kb2416400.aspx

-SCuffy

Attention!!!! All your personal files were encrypted with a strong algorythm RSA-1024 …

.. and you can’t get an access to them without making of what we need!

Read ‘How to decrypt’ txt-file on your desktop for details

Just do it as fast as you can!

Remember: Don’t try to tell someone about this message if you want to get your files back! Just do all we told.

*Eeek*  If your computer’s desktop has suddenly turned very pale and is displaying the above message, I hope you have a good backup*.

Computer Troubleshooters franchisees started to see reports of this from November 25, 2010.  The virus ‘Trojan.Ransom-U’ is ransomware – it hijacks your files and renders them unreadable, threatening to delete them completely unless you wire transfer $120 and email datafinder@fastmail.fm  The ransom note is contained in the How to decrypt files.txt file on your desktop.

Your virus scanning software may detect a strangley named executable file (.exe), where the name is a random string of  numbers and/or letters. 

At the time of writing (Nov 29 2010 AEST), there is no known way to clean or un-encrypt your files.  The only recovery steps are to turn off Windows System Restore, scan and clean your computer in safe mode and restore your files from your last known-working backup. 

If you are fortunate enough to be reading this BEFORE your own PC has become a victim, follow the advice from Lloyd Borrett for AVG to secure your Adobe Acrobat PDF Reader software, with a few changes to its settings: https://ctaspley.wordpress.com/2010/08/24/protect-your-pc-against-adobe-pdf-reader-security-flaws/

Oh, and make sure your backup is working 🙂

*  For single PCs, we recommend Carbonite Online Backup

Protect your PC Against Adobe PDF Reader Security Flaws

Not an original blog entry this time, but advice definately worth sharing from the security experts at AVG – thanks Lloyd!

Melbourne and Amsterdam, 13 August 2010 – It should go without saying that the best way to deal with malware is, of course, not to get infected in the first place.

Lloyd Borrett, Security Evangelist for AVG (AU/NZ) says, “Being aware of what products are being targeted by the bad guys may help you as well, so it may be useful to know that at the moment Adobe products are virtually the number one target across the world with millions of PCs being hit by infected Adobe PDFs. Others are being pwned via Adobe Flash ads via Facebook and other social media web sites.”

Attackers send a file that has malicious code embedded in it. Once the file is opened, the computer is infected, typically with some form of identity theft malware that then steals data.

The Adobe PDF and Adobe Flash browser plug-ins are also used in “drive-by download” attacks where malware is downloaded onto the PC while the user is surfing the web.

“Adobe products, just like Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office, have near universal use on home and business computers making these applications prime targets for the bad guys,” Borrett continues. “Unfortunately, since the bad guys realised this and turned their attention to finding security holes in them, they have been very successful.”

Of course, the easiest way to avoid the risk of being compromised via these Adobe products is not to install them! However, this is virtually impossible for most home and business Internet users.

So if you must use Adobe Reader, then please take the time to secure it.

How to secure Adobe Reader  

  1. Open the Adobe Reader application and choose ‘Edit’ and then ‘Preferences’.
  2. On the left you will see several different categories of options to modify.
  3. Under the ‘JavaScript’ category there is a checkbox ‘Enable Acrobat JavaScript’. Make sure this checkbox is not ticked/selected so that you disable Adobe Reader’s ability to run dangerous JavaScript from a PDF.
  4. Under the ‘Security’ category, to specify that digital signatures are handled securely make sure the ‘Verify signatures when the document is opened’ checkbox is ticked/selected.
  5. Under the ‘Security (Enhanced)’ category, make sure the ‘Enable Enhanced Security’ checkbox is selected to help with data protection and privacy.
  6. Under the ‘Trust Manager’ category we’d recommend you disable Acrobat’s ability to call external applications to handle non-PDF file attachments. So, after the ‘PDF File Attachments’ heading, make sure the ‘Allow opening of non-PDF file attachments with external applications’ checkbox is not ticked/selected.
  7. Then click on ‘OK’ to exit changing the preferences.

Adobe is working to address the security vulnerabilities in its products, so it’s vital to make sure you regularly check for updates to Adobe Reader, Adobe Flash and other Adobe applications. Turn on the automatic updates so that your Adobe software stays up-to-date.

Borrett adds, “And also don’t forget to install a complete security suite solution like AVG Internet Security that will provide you with total protection as you work, shop, bank and play games online.” 

AVG (AU/NZ) has a comprehensive range of security tips for home and business users on its web site at www.avg.com.au/resources/security-tips/.

About AVG (AU/NZ) Pty Ltdwww.avg.com.au

Based in Melbourne, AVG (AU/NZ) Pty Ltd distributes the AVG range of Anti-Virus and Internet Security products in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific. AVG software solutions provide complete real-time protection against the malware, viruses, spam, spyware, adware, worms, Trojans, phishing and exploits used by cyber-criminals, hackers, scammers and identity thieves. AVG protects everything important and personal inside computers — documents, account details and passwords, music, photos and more — all while allowing users to work, bank, shop and play games online in safety. 

AVG provides outstanding technical solutions and exceptional value for consumers, small to medium business and enterprise clients. AVG delivers always-on, always up-to-date protection across desktop, and notebook PCs, plus file and e-mail servers in the home and at work in SMBs, corporations, government agencies and educational institutions.

Talk to Us

Siobhan MacDermott

AVG Technologies – Investor Relations

E-mail: siobhan.macdermott@avg.com

US Mobile: +1 415 299 2945

For more detailed information please contact:

Lloyd Borrett         AVG (AU/NZ)      03 9581 0807

Shuna Boyd         BoydPR      02 9418 8100

Technology considerations for your new startup business

If you’re thinking about starting a business (congratulations!!), then technology might be the very last consideration on your mind.  With a long list of tasks in front of you (like getting a logo and stationery designed, finding an office, and working out your marketing plan), you may just requisition your home computer to start running your new business.  Let’s look at some of your very first technology decisions.

New computer or your home PC? – For a while, your home computer may be adequate to handle the necessities of your business.  However, if your computer time is conflicting with the children’s need to surf the internet for their homework, it may be time to consider a dedicated business computer.  Study any system specifications carefully and check the manufacturer’s websites.  Many ‘cheap’ retail deals are superseded models, cannot be upgraded easily or may not connect to a bigger computer network, which will all be important as you grow.  Also, talk to your accountant about any tax benefits that may be gained from leasing instead of purchasing your IT assets.

Voice over IP – When considering a phone number for your business, take a look at your Voice over IP options.  The quality of this technology has improved significantly and it can provide great local, national and international phone rates.  Today’s systems can plug into a standard cordless phone and your internet connection, so your computer doesn’t have to be turned on for you to make and receive calls.  It makes a fantastic ‘second line’ for businesses that run from your home.  You can have your office phone answered outside of business hours and still receive personal calls on your standard home phone line. 

Internet domain name – Once you have decided on your business name, look at registering your internet domain name.  This will prevent someone else from registering it.  Having your own domain name (like marysmith.com) will give your emails a more professional look and enable you to have a simple webpage established.  Don’t think you have to spend a fortune on a comprehensive website before your first day of actually doing business.  As long as your contact details (phone number, email address, fax number, and location) are easy to find and you have some great information about why your business is different from your competitors, you will be giving the search engines something to find.  This is much better than an ‘under construction’ picture or no internet presence at all.  Use your domain name in your email address to look much more credible than someone operating from a free email account (like myname@gmail.com).  You can still use your internet provider for your email service.  Make certain to check what protection they have in place against email viruses and spam.  Remember to include your website and email address on all of your stationery and marketing materials.    

Email marketing – Investing in an email marketing program provides you with a great communication channel to keep your business in front of your future customers on a regular basis.  Supplement your email marketing with monthly newsletters and occasional special offers.  Get permission to store your customer’s email address from the day they start doing business with you and you’ll build up an impressive database.  

Talk to your local Computer Troubleshooters about how to make the right technology decisions that match the needs of your new business.

Paypal / Western Union money scam

Thanks to Kate Booby at Spinefex (www.spinefex.com.au) for alerting us to this one!

“I thought I should bring your attention to a scam that we have 3 separate cases of occur within our immediate friends/family.

All of these people had advertised to sell items (2 x cars, 1 x horse) and had been contacted by email and phone calls from a buyer. 

The buyer has asked to pay for the items through paypal (and the sellers had to set up paypal accounts) because the buyer is overseas or can’t use their internet banking (one case the man said he was on an oil rig, another was overseas).  Paypal is generally a safe & secure way to receive funds or pay for items.

They were also requesting for the item that they were purchasing to be transported to a different state and were offering to pay extra in the paypal transfer for the seller to arrange this. 

The catch was that they asked for the seller to transfer the transport cost to a Western Union account BEFORE they could do the paypal transfer – these amounts varied from $800 – $1000.”

What a great scam.  The ‘buyer’ is asking you to pay for the cost of the ‘transport’ until they can pay you the entire amount via paypal, yet no transport company is involved.  They are then free to walk away with your money and never be heard from again.

Seller beware!

-SCuffy