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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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Monday
Apr102017

Google combats fake news with 'Fact Check' results in search and news

Google is ready to roll out its fact check label to Google News editions worldwide after introducing the feature in October for the United States and the U.K. The label will also appear in searches in all languages that Google supports. 

When you’re searching for a topic that’s been answered by a source using the fact check label, Google’s results page will include a snippet with three components: information about the claim being made, who made the claim, and whether that claim is true, false, or somewhere in between. It may also appear in a Google News cluster with the term “Fact check” before the headline.

factcheckbannon Ian Paul/PCWorld

A fact check snippet in Google search.

Google warns that the fact check label won’t appear for every possible conspiracy or crazy news story you can think of. A search for “the Earth is flat,” for example, did not have surface any fact check labels at this writing. Arguably it shouldn’t as the claim is preposterous and doesn’t merit serious consideration, anyway.

For a site to earn the fact check label, it must include Schema.org’s ClaimReview markup in their HTML.

The story behind the story: The problem, however, is that flat earthers and other conspiracy theorists may be able to game Google’s new fact check label, at least in the short term. If all that’s required is proper HTML markup, a site could try to get a fact check label for a false story. However, Google is willing to use its power as the world’s most popular search engine to counteract any shenanigans. The company’s support pages say that if a site does not meet Google’s standards for fact checking the search engine may ignore the publisher’s markup or remove the site from Google News.

Another situation that users may confront is when two fact-check labels offer different conclusions. Google says this is possible under its new scheme. “There may be search result pages where different publishers checked the same claim and reached different conclusions,” Google said in a blog post. “We think it’s still helpful for people to understand the degree of consensus around a particular claim and have clear information on which sources agree.”

Monday
Apr102017

There is a way to have all your open windows and program re-open after a reboot, and here's how to do it. 

As a PC and Mac user I've  experienced this phenomenon, and it's odd why Microsoft doesn't provide this as an option. When you restart a Mac it asks you if you want all your open windows and programs to launch after reboot, making it quite easy to resume working after an update is installed. This normally isn't that big of a deal on the Windows platform, but with Windows 10 a lot of users are experiencing unplanned reboots due to how Microsoft's mandatory updates.

Though there's not a way outside of installing third-party software to automatically resume a session after a reboot, I can show you  a few tricks to make your favorite programs open after a reboot along with any open Explorer Windows.

1. First, there's an option within Windows that will automatically open any Explorer windows you had open previously. To check this setting just open Control Panel and click File Explorer Options. In the View tab make sure the box labeled Restore previous folder windows at logon is checked. This will re-open any Explorer windows you have open in the event of a reboot. 

Explorer options

This option within Windows allows you to resume working with files and folders after a reboot. 

2. With your Windows Explorer windows handled, it's time to turn to open programs. Unfortunately, the only way I know how to do this without turning to a piece of software is to simply add any programs you want to start automatically to the Windows Startup folder. It's not the most elegant solution, but it works great with a web browser along with the "continue where I left off" setting for opening a new browser window. Firefox and IE offer this option as well. 

With that in place, open any Explorer window or open the Run command and type Shell:startup without any spaces to open the Startup folder. You can also manually navigate to C: > Users > Profilename > AppData > Roaming > Microsoft > Start Menu > Programs > Startup.

Startup Programs Folder

Don't bother navigating Microsoft's archaic file structure; just open an Explorer window and type "shell:startup"

When that window appears, or is opened, whatever links to programs you drag into that folder will automatically start with Windows. I only have Google Chrome in mine, and combined with the above settings it allows me to reboot my PC at any time and have my browser appear just as I left it. 

I know this solution isn't perfect, as it won't automatically open any programs you were using, but it's as good as I can figure out.

Wednesday
Mar152017

Two-Factor Authentication: Who Has It and How to Set It Up

In 2014, the Heartbleed exploit left everyone's log-in information potentially up for grabs thanks to one itty-bitty piece of code. But what is a person afraid for their security to do? Well, you should definitely change your passwords—regularly! By sheer brute force or simple phishing, passwords are, to be honest, a pretty laughable way of authentication.

What you really need is a second factor of authentication. That's why many internet services, a number of which have felt the pinch of being hacked, have embraced two-factor authentication for their users. It's sometimes called 2FA, or used interchangeably with the terms "two-step" and "verification" depending on the marketing. Even the White House has a campaign asking you #TurnOn2FA.

But exactly what is it?

Click here for a great article from PCMag on which sites enable it and how to enable it.

Wednesday
Mar152017

What's New? - A jargon free guide to PC and Internet security

The internet is truly a mind boggling thing. It is a global network of computers all hooked together sharing information. It has been marketed as a system whereby we visit web sites and log on to other systems in order to make it understandable. The reality of how the internet works is fundamentally different than those terms lead us to believe. In the gaps between the notion and reality of how the internet works is where security and safety problems lie. In this article we’ll break out the most important aspects of internet safety into bite-sized chunks and offer some practical advice on each.  Check out the link to the left to an interesting guide that everyone should read.

Thursday
Mar022017

Free decryption tools now available for Dharma ransomware

Computer users who have been affected by the Dharma ransomware and have held onto their encrypted files can now restore them for free. Researchers have created decryption tools for this ransomware strain after someone recently leaked the decryption keys.

Dharma first appeared in November and is based on an older ransomware program known as Crysis. It's easy to recognize files affected by it because they will have the extension: .[email_address].dharma, where the email address is the one used by the attacker as a point of contact.

On Wednesday, a user named gektar published a link to a Pastebin post on the BleepingComputer.com technical support forum. The post, he claimed, contained the decryption keys for all Dharma variants.

 

Interestingly, the exact same thing happened back in November with the keys for Crysis, Dharma's predecessor, allowing researchers to create decryption tools for it.

It's not clear who gektar is or what his or her reasons were for leaking the Dharma keys. The username appears to have been created on the forum just for this purpose and has had no other activity since then.

There's also no information about how the keys were obtained in the first place. However, they were included in a C header file, which could suggest that the leaker had access to the ransomware program's source code.

The good news is that the leaked keys are real, and researchers from Kaspersky Lab and ESET verified they work. The two companies have updated their Crysis decryption tools -- downloads at Kaspersky RakhniDecryptor and ESET CrysisDecryptor -- to work for Dharma affected files, too.

This should serve as a reminder to ransomware victims to keep a copy of their affected files, even if they decide not to give into attackers' ransom demands. Researchers sometimes find flaws in the encryption implementations of ransomware programs that allow them to break the encryption keys. Other times law enforcement authorities seize command-and-control servers used by ransomware gangs and release the decryption keys.

From time to time, like in this case, the keys find their way online due to unexplained leaks: Maybe a ransomware developer decides to close up shop and publish the keys, or maybe a hacker breaks into a rival gang's servers and releases the keys to harm its operations. The point is: Hold onto those files, for months or even years if you need to.

It's a good idea to check the tools section of the NoMoreRansom.org website regularly. The website is maintained by a coalition of security companies and law enforcement agencies and is frequently updated with new information and decryption tools.

Thursday
Mar022017

Gmail Increases File Attachment Size Limit to 50MB

It's not uncommon to download files that are multiple gigabytes in size, but when it comes to emails, attachments are still very limited. That's no bad thing, because nobody wants their email client sat there downloading huge files. However, sometimes you need to send a large file, and Google is responding to that need by increasing the file size limit for Gmail.

Gmail users can now receive files of up to 50MB in size. However, attaching a file directly in Gmail is still limited to 25MB. That shouldn't be a problem as Google offers to store larger files on Google Drive and send a link in the email instead. This is how most large files should be sent via email. Relying on a file storage and download service means emails stay small and users can choose when it's convenient to download attachments.

Google revealed the size increase yeterday and should have it rolled out to all Gmail accounts before the end of the week. What you may not be aware of is the fact Google actually limits how many emails a user can receive every day "to keep our systems healthy and your accounts safe."

Each account can receive a maximum of 86,400 emails in one day. That limit is further broken down to a limit of 3,600 emails per hour and 60 per minute. If you hit one of the limits then no further email can be received for the next 24 hours and any that get sent "are bounced or deferred back to the sender."