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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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Tuesday
Feb052019

Are Your Passwords Secure? Google's Password Checkup Knows

Google is attempting to make Chrome users more secure with the release of a new extension that automatically checks to see if the passwords you are using are safe. It's called Password Checkup and it launched today.

It doesn't matter how strong a password is, if the account your are protecting suffers a data breach it could end up in the hands of hackers. Keeping track of which data breaches affect you is difficult, and it's why password managers started getting popular and offering to automatically update passwords for you on a regular basis. A good example of that is LastPass.

Now Google is making Chrome users more secure if they take the time to install a new, free extension called Password Checkup. Once installed, it will check every time you sign in to an account using a username and password. If the password used appears on any data breach lists the user will receive an alert urging them to reset the password. If the same password is used for other accounts then an alert will be sent for those, too.

Google is making it very clear that using Password Checkup does not share any identifying information about users, their accounts, passwords, or devices. The only information shared is anonymous and regarding the number of lookups that return an unsafe set of credentials. In other words, there's no real downside to installing the extension and helping protect your online accounts.

Thursday
Jan242019

Can you spot a Phishing Attack? Take the test and find out!

Phishing attacks, which aim to trick you into handing over your personal information by masquerading as someone you know, are prevalent and effective. How susceptible are you to falling victim to one? A new quiz from Jigsaw, a company under Google's parent Alphabet, can help you find out.

"Identifying phishing can be harder than you think," the Jigsaw team wrote.

The quiz presents you with eight example emails, and you have to determine whether they're phishing attacks or legitimate. One example message looks like an email from Google informing you that someone has your password.

"Google stopped this sign-in attempt," the email reads. "You should change your password immediately."

The message appears legitimate, but here's the issue: Hovering over the "change password" link indicates it points to a subdomain of "ml-security.org," not Google.

"This is almost identical to an attack used to successfully hack politicians' emails," Jigsaw wrote. "Always be sure to check URLs carefully."

The quiz also warns people to be wary of messages from unknown senders, PDFs you're not expecting, and more. "Be cautious about hyperlinks and attachments you open from emails—they may direct you to fraudulent websites where you're asked to input sensitive information," Jigsaw recommends.

To take the quiz for yourself, head here.

In December, Amnesty International warned that a mysterious hacking group defeated the SMS-based two-factor authentication systems offered by Google and Yahoo to phish upwards of 1,000 people. The phishing attacks targeted journalists and activists based in the Middle East and North Africa through phony emails and login pages.

Meanwhile, that same month, word spread that a group of hackers linked to the Chinese military managed to breach both the European Union's communication network and the United Nations with the help of email-based phishing attacks.

Wednesday
Jan232019

The iPhone SE is available on Apple’s online Clearance Products store

 Apple’s iPhone SE disappeared from the iPhone lineup last fall, when the company introduced the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR. But as MacRumors pointed out initially, the SE reappeared on Apple’s site in the company’s Clearance Products store this past weekend, and it quickly sold out. MacRumors points out again that the SE is back in the Clearance store, so grab one while it's hot.

You can’t find the iPhone SE at the retail Apple Store, though you may be able to find one at a carrier store. If you’ve wanted one but had no luck through the methods above, now’s your chance. Since it’s on clearance, stock on these phones is limited.

Apple is selling unlocked 32GB and 128GB versions of the iPhone SE in Gold, Rose Gold, Space Gray, and Silver. As of late Wednesday, the 128GB models are sold out. Here’s a list of what’s available as of this writing.

The iPhone SE has a 4-inch LCD, which is smaller than the displays you'll find in Apple's current lineup. Some people prefer those smaller screens, and some people prefer the smaller prices that go with them. In fact, the clearance prices are well under the original $349 (32GB) and $449 (128GB) prices.

Wednesday
Jan232019

How to hide and password protect photos on iOS

Apple consistently makes improvements to its camera app every year. New features are added and the Photos app gets a boost to incorporate them. The improvements never go beyond what’s needed to view photos and perform basic edits. Your camera roll isn’t really sophisticated even though iOS itself is. If you want to hide photos on iOS, you can but anyone who has access to your phone can unhide and view them. Real security would be to password protect photos instead of just putting them in an album literally named ‘Hidden’.

The Photos app doesn’t let you add a password to photos but the Notes app allows you to create password protected notes, and a note can include an image. You can use a password locked note in the Notes app to hide sensitive photos.  Click here for the full artcile on Addictivetips.com

Wednesday
Jan232019

How to use emoji in folder names on Windows 10

Naming folders is pretty basic. You can name a folder anything you want when you create it, or you can rename it later whenever you want. There are some restrictions for which characters you can’t use in a folder name e.g., you cannot use a slash or an asterisk in the name as both these characters are used by the system. What you can do is use emoji in folder names. It may not be the most intuitive way to name folders but if you benefit from visual elements, then adding one to a folder name might be a good idea.

Emoji in folder names

Windows 10 has a handy emoji panel in one of its newer versions. If you’re on Windows 10 1803 or 1809, you can access this panel by tapping Win+; on your keyboard.

To use emoji in a folder’s name, navigate to the folder, and click its name to edit it. When the name field enters edit mode, tap Win+; to open the emoji panel. Once the emoji panel is open, click the various emoji you want to include in the folder name.

You can use a combination of numbers, letters, and emoji. Once you’re done entering emoji, close the panel and tap the enter key once to save the new folder name.

The emoji won’t be colored. In fact, they won’t look anything like they do in the emoji panel. You will see the basic black and white emoji that Windows had before it added the emoji panel. This same trick works with naming files.

You won’t have any trouble using emoji in either file or folder names however, you will run into some difficulty when you try to access these files or folders over a network, via a link in other apps (e.g. linking a file in MS Word), or calling it in Command Prompt.

This is because, while Windows 10 can display emoji, it cannot change the rules that apply when files are linked to over the network or the command line. Both still have their own restrictions. That’s not to say you won’t be able to access them at all. You may need to figure out what unicode applies to the emoji you used and try that in the file/folder name when you try to link to it. Again, apps may have problems with it so if the file or folder is going to be shared with other users, it’s better to stick with alphanumeric names.

 

Wednesday
Jan232019

Google may break ad blockers with upcoming Chrome change

A Google plan to improve the Chrome web browser has triggered an explosion of concern that it'll also cripple extensions designed to block ads, improve privacy and protect against security problems.

Google's proposed approach would torpedo ad blocker uBlock Origin, tracker blocker Ghostery, privacy and password manager Privowny, JavaScript software blocker NoScript and a malware blocker from F-Secure, according to their developers.

In a statement Wednesday, though, Google said it's trying to improve Chrome while keeping all those extensions working.

"We want to make sure all fundamental use cases are still possible with these changes and are working with extension developers to make sure their extensions continue to work while optimizing the extensions platform and better protecting our users," the company said in a statement.

The controversy shows the difficulties that arise from Chrome's dominance 10 years after its debut. Google's browser accounts for 62 percent of website usage today, according to analytics firm StatCounter. But if a Google change causes problems, then extension authors and website developers can be stuck with it unless they can get millions of people to change to a different browser like Mozilla Firefox or Apple Safari.

Chrome's power also is amplified by the fact that other browsers, including Vivaldi, Opera, Brave and soon Microsoft Edge, use Chrome's open-source foundation, called Chromium.

Extensions let you customize web browser behavior to do things like take screenshots, manage tabs, disable websites' potentially risky JavaScript software and even replace photos of President Donald Trump with images of kittens. But ad blockers are a top extension use. Indeed, it was one of the uses Google specifically called for when it first revealed its Chrome extensions plan in 2008. uBlock Origin has been installed more than 10 million times, for example, according to Chrome Web Store statistics.

Ghostery developer Cliqz said Google's proposed change is radical, and threatened legal action if it goes forward.

"This would basically mean that Google is destroying ad blocking and privacy protection as we know it," the company said in a statement Wednesday. "Whether Google does this to protect their advertising business or simply to force its own rules on everyone else, it would be nothing less than another case of misuse of its market-dominating position. If this comes true, we will consider filing an antitrust complaint."

Chrome's Manifest v3 destiny

Google revealed the change way back in October as part of a broader plan to improve Chrome extensions. Some developers are only now noticing the part that could hurt ad blockers, called Manifest v3.

Manifest v3 is designed to improve Chrome extensions' performance, privacy and security. One part of that change, though, limits how extensions will be able to examine aspects of websites. The thorny limit affects how an extension can check if website elements originate from a list of hundreds of thousands of advertising sources. Google has proposed a limit of 30,000.

One extension designed to protect people who click on malicious links, Blockade.io, "will cease to function" under Google's Manifest v3 plan, said Brandon Dixon, who maintains the extension. "There is a 30K rule limit imposed, which is not enough to handle our ruleset (~250K)," Dixon said in a Wednesday mailing list post.

Safari and Firefox have embraced variations of Chrome's extensions technology, an approach that in principle makes life easier for extension authors trying to support multiple browsers. But Privowny's Daniel Glazman lamented the fizzling of an effort to turn Google's extensions technology into a web standard all browsers collectively develop and support.

The browser extension technology is "fully in the hands of Google, [which] can and will change it anytime based on its own interests only," Glazman said in a blog post Wednesday.

Google probably will amend its extensions plan, though not its aspiration to improve performance and security, Chrome team member Devlin Cronin said in a mailing list response Wednesday.

"This design is still in a draft state, and will likely change," Cronin said. "Our goal is not to break extensions."

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