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How to Backup your computer online for free

Welcome to the Pittsburgh Tech Guy!  Your local source for good, dependable technical support and information!  Keep up with the latest Tech news here!

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Monday
Oct162017

Wi-Fi encryption can be hacked and anyone can spy on your internet activity

Equifax and Yahoo disclosed major security breaches recently, which are quite scary, especially the former. But security researchers are about to unveil to explain how hackers could hack any existing Wi-Fi connection and spy on all of your data.

The encrypted WPA2 protocol was just breached, putting at risk everyone who uses wireless internet at home or abroad. You can’t fix the issue yourself, but while you wait for network equipment makers to patch access points, there are several steps you can take to protect yourself.

Yes, the issue is serious, but as long as a hacker isn’t specifically looking to spy on your data, you should not worry about it.

The proof-of-concept exploit is called KRACK (or Key Reinstallation Attacks), according to Ars Technica. An advisory from US-CERT explains that the hack should be publicly disclosed on Monday:

US-CERT has become aware of several key management vulnerabilities in the 4-way handshake of the Wi-Fi Protected Access II (WPA2) security protocol. The impact of exploiting these vulnerabilities includes decryption, packet replay, TCP connection hijacking, HTTP content injection, and others. Note that as protocol-level issues, most or all correct implementations of the standard will be affected. The CERT/CC and the reporting researcher KU Leuven will be publicly disclosing these vulnerabilities on 16 October 2017.

Until access points are fixed, all Wi-Fi traffic is at risk, meaning that hackers will be able to eavesdrop on all your Wi-Fi traffic and steal data coming from all sorts of home devices that connect to the internet wirelessly.

If you’re worried about your security, various solutions can help you mitigate the problem while you wait for hardware companies to update router firmware.

You can stop using Wi-Fi until your routers are fixed, and switch to Ethernet instead. You should also consider using Virtual Private Networks (VPN) to obfuscate your internet usage, especially if you keep using Wi-Fi, and especially in those places where you don’t control the wireless network. Also, make sure use HTTPS when browsing the web and other security protocols to encrypt all your traffic. However, you might not be able to do anything about the smart devices that connect via Wi-Fi to your home network.

Monday
Oct162017

2017 will likely be the worst year ever for cable TV as cord cutting continues

If you ever wanted proof that cord cutting is more than just a fad, look no further than cancellation numbers for pay TV subscriptions. In 2016, Bloomberg reported that cable, satellite and telecom TV services lost a total of 1.7 million paid subscribers that year. That was estimated to be the largest exodus of pay TV customers ever recorded, but according to Exstreamist, that record could be broken as soon as this year.

Based on Exstreamist’s estimates and data gathered from telecom giants such as AT&T, Comcast, Dish, Charter and Verizon, between 1.8 and 1.9 million subscribers could cancel their cable package by the end of 2017.

Considering how expensive cable subscriptions have become, this doesn’t come as much of a surprise. There are also new streaming services popping up every week, many of which include (or focus on) live TV programming. Why pay over $100 for cable when you can get all the same channels on DirecTV Now, Sling or YouTube TV for less than half the price? Plus, with a majority of these services, you can watch TV on any device you own and even record shows on the cloud. And if you ever lose interest, you can cancel any time you want, free of charge.

Some cable providers have begun to fight fire with fire by offering streaming solutions of their own, but none of them have attracted the kind of attention that Hulu Live TV, DirecTV Now and the like have received.

Exstreamist’s estimation for total cancellations this year is just that — an estimation — but data shows that 470,000 people cut the cord in the third quarter of 2017 alone. As streaming services continue to dominate the conversation, this trend is only going to get worse for cable providers. 2018 could be yet another record-breaking year.

Monday
Oct162017

Some More Further reading on staying safe online...

I like to thank all of you that forward useful sites and information aimed at keeping all of us secure online.  With that said, here is another site you may find informative towards that goal.  The guide covers the range from online shopping, proper social media security and online theft.

Tuesday
Oct102017

Fake AdPlus Block Chrome extension infects more than 37,000 users

I get it: you don’t like websites that push countless ads you, so you’ve just decided that enough is enough and the use of an ad blocker is in order. But make sure you don’t fall for the fake AdPlus Block extension that Google allowed into the official Chrome store.

Some 37,000 people already installed the fake app. If you’ve just added AdBlock Plus to your Chrome browsing experience, better make sure you’ve got the legit one.

First spotted by SwiftOnSecurity, the fake app is now removed from the store.

It’s also unclear what the fraudulent app did on the machines it infected. Yes, infected is the right word, as this is a malicious app created by a “fraudulent developer who clones popular name and spams keywords.” But one user who installed it revealed in a review that the fake AdPlus Block app pushed invasive ads and opened up additional tabs.

Safe to say that you should pay extra attention to your computer if you’re one of the 37,000 users affected by the issue.

Tuesday
Oct102017

Wow, 64% of People own at least one Apple Product

Throughout the 90s and early 2000s, Apple was something of a niche company. Sure, the company had an incredibly loyal and vocal fan base, but the company did not enjoy a significant marketshare in any of the product categories it competed in. This dynamic, however, began to change markedly with the release of the iPod in late 2001. By 2004, the iPod completely dominated the MP3 player market. A few years later, Apple released the iPhone and forever changed the way the world interacts with technology.

Today, Apple is a wildly successful company with a market cap in excess of $800 billion. And though it wasn’t all that long ago when owners of Apple products were somewhat hard to find, the situation today couldn’t be any different. Thanks to the iPhone, the iPad and the Mac, 64% of all American households today own at least one Apple product, according to a new survey from CNBC and Hart Research.

“The product is ubiquitous by income group, age, race, sex and region of the country — more than half of nearly all demographic groups report owning at least one Apple product,” the report notes. “The household ownership rate is below 50 percent for only a few groups, including those with incomes under $30,000, retirees and women over age 50.”

Also interesting, though perhaps not surprising given that Apple products are priced at a premium, is that when looking at Americans who earn more than $100,000 per year, 87% of them own at least one Apple device.

Indeed, it’s easy to forget that Apple’s entire business model is predicated on selling premium products at a premium price. That being the case, it stands to reason that Apple’s upcoming iPhone X will sell exceedingly well in spite of its rather lofty $999 pricepoint. On a related note, the rousing success of the iPhone 7 Plus last year underscores that Apple consumers are more than willing to shell out some extra cash for the best products Apple has to offer.

Monday
Sep182017

CCleaner hacked with malware: What you need to know

It seems that CCleaner, one of PCWorld’s recommendations for the best free software for new PCs, might not have been keeping your PC so clean after all. In an in-depth probe of the popular optimization and scrubbing software, Cisco Talos has discovered a malicious bit of code injected by hackers that could have affected more than 2 million users who downloaded the most recent update.

On Sept. 13, Cisco Talos found that the official download of the free versions of CCleaner 5.33 and CCleaner Cloud 1.07.3191 also contained “a malicious payload that featured a Domain Generation Algorithm as well as hardcoded Command and Control functionality.” What that means is that a hacker infiltrated Avast Piriform’s official build somewhere in the development process build to plant malware designed to steal users’ data.

Cisco Talon suspects that the attacker “compromised a portion of (CCleaner’s) development or build environment and leveraged that access to insert malware into the CCleaner build that was released and hosted by the organization.” As such, customers’ personal information was not at risk.

According to Avast, the malware doesn’t seem to have affected any machines in the wild. In a blog post by vice president of products Paul Yung, he states that the company identified the attack on Sept. 12 and had taken the appropriate action even before Cisco Talos notified them of their discovery. Yung says the attack was limited to CCleaner and CCleaner Cloud on 32-bit Windows systems—fortunately, most modern PCs will likely be running the 64-bit version. 

Yung assures customers that the threat has been resolved and the “rogue server” has been taken down. He also says Piriform has shut down the hackers’ access to other servers. Additionally, the company is moving all users to the latest version of the software, which is already available on the company’s website (though the release notes only mention “minor big fixes.”)

Most reassuringly, Yung states that Avast was seemingly able to disarm the threat before it was able to do any harm. The intent of the attack is unclear at this time, though Avast says the code was able to collect information about the local system.

Users can download CCleaner 5.34 from Avast’s website if they haven’t already done so. Previous releases are also still available on the company’s website, but the infected version has been removed from the company’s servers. You’ll also want to perform an antivirus scan on your computer. If you're affected, Cisco Talos recommends using a backup to restore your PC to a state prior to August 15, 2017, which is when the hacked version was released.

The impact on you at home: While users within the target area shouldn’t see any impact from this attempted attack, it’s still a scary notion. While Avast got in front of the issue and resolved it without incident, smaller companies might not be able to react so quickly. For example, earlier this year, it was found that a breach at Ukranian software company MeDoc was responsible for the NotPetya ransomware. Ransomware is becoming a troubling trend, and if hackers are able to infect infect update servers they can spread malware to as many machines as possible.