• Posted on January 29, 2017 11:30 am
    Joseph Forbes
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    In wireless networking, dual band equipment is capable of transmitting in either of two different standard frequency ranges.  Modern Wi-Fi home networks feature dual band broadband routers that support both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz channels. The History of Dual Band Wireless Routers First generation home network routers produced during the late 1990s and early 2000s contained a single 802.11b Wi-Fi radio operating on the 2.4 GHz band. At the same time, a significant number of business networks supported 802.11a (5 GHz) devices. The first dual band Wi-Fi routers were built to support mixed networks having both 802.11a and 802.11b clients. Starting with 802.11n, Wi-Fi standards began including simultaneous dual band 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz support as a standard feature. Two Examples of Dual Band Wireless Routers The TP-LINK Archer C7 AC1750 Dual Band Wireless AC Gigabit Router (buy on Amazon.com) has 450Mbps at 2.4GHz and 1300Mbps at 5GHz, as well as IP-based bandwidth control so you can monitor the bandwidth of all the devices connected to your router. The NETGEAR N750 Dual Band Wi-Fi Gigabit Router (buy on Amazon.com) is for medium to large-sized homes and also comes with a genie app, so you can keep tabs on your network and get help troubleshooting if any repairs are needed. Dual Band Wi-Fi Adapters Dual-band Wi-Fi network adapters contain both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz wireless radios similar to dual-band routers. In the early days of Wi-Fi, some laptop Wi-Fi adapters supported both 802.11a and 802.11b/g radios so that a person could connect their computer to business networks during the workday and home networks on nights and weekends. Newer 802.11n and 802.11ac adapters can also be configured to use either band (but not both at the same time). Dual Band Phones Similar to dual band wireless network equipment, some cell phones also use two (or more) bands for cellular communications separate from Wi-Fi. Dual band phones were originally created to support 3G GPRS or EDGE data services on 0.85 GHz, 0.9 GHz or 1.9 GHz radio frequencies. Phones sometimes support tri band (three) or quad band (four) different cellular transmission frequency ranges in order to maximize compatibility with different kinds of phone network, helpful while roaming or traveling. Cell modems switch between different bands but do not support simultaneous dual band connections. Benefits of Dual Band Wireless Networking By supplying separate wireless interfaces for each band, dual band 802.11n and 802.11ac routers provide maximum flexibility in setting up a home network. Some home devices require the legacy compatibility and greater signal reach that 2.4 GHz offers while others may require the additional network bandwidth that 5 GHz offers: Dual-band routers provide connections designed for the needs of each. Many Wi-Fi home networks suffer from wireless interference due to the prevalence of 2.4 GHz consumer gadgets. The ability to utilize 5 GHz on a dual band router helps avoid these issues. Dual band routers also incorporate Multiple-In Multiple-Out (MIMO) radio configurations. The combination of multiple radios on one band together with dual-band support together provide much higher performance home networking than what single band routers can offer.

    Blog Entry, Hardware, Internet
  • Posted on January 26, 2017 11:55 am
    Joseph Forbes
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    Keeping track of passwords can seem like a hassle. Most of us have multiple sites we visit which require password logins. So many, in fact, that it's tempting to use the same username/password combo for all of them. Don't. Otherwise, it takes only the compromise of a single site's credentials to have a toppling domino affect on the security of all your online assets. Fortunately, there is a fairly straightforward way to have different passwords for each site you use but still make the passwords easy enough to remember. Creating Unique Passwords Before you begin creating strong passwords, you need to consider the use of those passwords. The intent is to create strong passwords unique to each account, but easy enough to memorize. To do this, first begin by splitting the sites you frequently login to into categories. For example, your category list might read as follows: social networking sites auction sites ecommerce sites email accounts banking sites forums A word of note here about forums. Never use the same password for a site's forum as you would for logging into the site itself. Generally speaking, the security on forums is not as strong as it is (or should be) for the regular site and thus the forum becomes the weakest link in your security. This is why, in the example above, forums are split into a separate category. Now that you have your categories, under each appropriate category, list the sites to which you must log in. For example, if you have a Hotmail, gmail, and Yahoo account, list these under the category 'email accounts'. After you've completed the list, you're ready to begin creating the strong, unique, and easy-to-remember passwords for each. Creating Strong Passwords A strong password should be 14 characters. Each character less than that makes it a little easier to compromise. If a site absolutely won't allow a password that long, then adapt these instructions accordingly. Using the 14 character password rule, use the first 8 characters as the common portion to all passwords, the next 3 to customize by category, and the last 3 to customize by site. So the end result ends up like this: common(8)|category(3)|site(3) Following this simple rule, when you change your passwords in the future - which, remember, you should do often - you'll only need to change the first common 8 characters of each. One of the commonly recommended means of remembering a password is to first create a passphrase, modify it to the character limit, then begin swapping characters for symbols. So to do that: Come up with an 8 letter passphrase that is easy to remember. Take the first letter of each word to form the password. Substitute some of the letters in the word with keyboard symbols and caps (symbols are better than caps). Tack on a three letter abbreviation for the category, also replacing one of the letters with a symbol. Tack on a site specific three letter abbreviation, again replacing a single letter with a symbol. As an example: In step 1 we might use the pass phrase: my favorite uncle was an air force pilot Using the first letters of each word, we end up with: mfuwaafp Then we swap some of those characters with symbols and caps: Mf{w&A5p Then we tack on the category, (i.e. ema for email, and swap out one character of ema: e#a Finally, we add the site abbreviation (i.e. gma for gmail) and swap out one character: gm% We now have a password for our gmail account of Mf{w&A5pe#agm% Repeat for each email site, so perhaps you end up with: Mf{w&A5pe#agm% Mf{w&A5pe#aY%h Mf{w&A5pe#aH0t Now repeat these steps for the additional categories and sites within those categories. While this may look hard to remember, here's a tip to simplify - decide in advance what symbol you will equate with each letter. Be sure to check out these other tips for remembering passwords. You may be surprised to learn that some of the oldest advice may just be the wrong advice.

    Blog Entry, DATA, Internet
  • Posted on January 22, 2017 11:45 am
    Joseph Forbes
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    Building the local area network that's right for you Computer networks for the home and small business can be built using either wired or wireless technology. Wired Ethernet has been the traditional choice in homes, but Wi-Fi and other wireless options are gaining ground fast. Both wired and wireless can claim advantages over each other; both represent viable options for home and other local area networks (LANs). Below we compare wired and wireless networking in five key areas: ease of installation total cost reliability performance security About Wired LANs Wired LANs use Ethernet cables and network adapters. Although two computers can be directly wired to each other using an Ethernet crossover cable, wired LANs generally also require central devices like hubs, switches, or routers to accommodate more computers. For dial-up connections to the Internet, the computer hosting the modem must run Internet Connection Sharing or similar software to share the connection with all other computers on the LAN. Broadband routers allow easier sharing of a cable modem or DSL Internet connections, plus they often include built-in firewall support. Installation Ethernet cables must be run from each computer to another computer or to the central device. It can be time-consuming and difficult to run cables under the floor or through walls, especially when computers sit in different rooms. Some newer homes are pre-wired with CAT5 cable, greatly simplifying the cabling process and minimizing unsightly cable runs. The correct cabling configuration for a wired LAN varies depending on the mix of devices, the type of Internet connection, and whether internal or external modems are used. However, none of these options pose any more difficulty than, for example, wiring a home theater system. After hardware installation, the remaining steps in configuring either wired or wireless LANs do not differ much. Both rely on standard Internet Protocol and network operating system configuration options. Laptops and other portable devices often enjoy greater mobility in wireless home network installations (at least for as long as their batteries allow). Cost Ethernet cables, hubs, and switches are very inexpensive. Some connection sharing software packages, like ICS, are free; some cost a nominal fee. Broadband routers cost more, but these are optional components of a wired LAN, and their higher cost is offset by the benefit of easier installation and built-in security features. Reliability Ethernet cables, hubs, and switches are extremely reliable, mainly because manufacturers have been continually improving Ethernet technology over several decades. Loose cables likely remain the single most common and annoying source of failure in a wired network. When installing a wired LAN or moving any of the components later, be sure to carefully check the cable connections. Broadband routers have also suffered from some reliability problems in the past. Unlike other Ethernet gear, these products are relatively new, multi-function devices. Broadband routers have matured over the past several years and their reliability has improved greatly. Performance Wired LANs offer superior performance. Traditional Ethernet connections offer only 10 Mbps bandwidth, but 100 Mbps Fast Ethernet technology costs little more and is readily available. Although 100 Mbps represents a theoretical maximum performance never really achieved in practice, Fast Ethernet should be sufficient for home file sharing, gaming, and high-speed Internet access for many years into the future. Wired LANs utilizing hubs can suffer performance slowdown if computers heavily utilize the network simultaneously. Use Ethernet switches instead of hubs to avoid this problem; a switch costs little more than a hub. Security For any wired LAN connected to the Internet, firewalls are the primary security consideration. Wired Ethernet hubs and switches do not support firewalls. However, firewall software products like ZoneAlarm can be installed on the computers themselves. Broadband routers offer equivalent firewall capability built into the device, configurable through its own software. About Wireless LANs Popular WLAN technologies all follow one of the three main Wi-Fi communication standards. The benefits of wireless networking depend on the standard employed: 802.11b was the first standard to be widely used in WLANs. The 802.11a standard is faster but more expensive than 802.11b; 802.11a is more commonly found in business networks. The newest standard, 802.11g, attempts to combine the best of both 802.11a and 802.11b, though it too is more a more expensive home networking option. Installation Wi-Fi networks can be configured in two different ways: "Ad-hoc" mode allows wireless devices to communicate in peer-to-peer mode with each other. "Infrastructure" mode allows wireless devices to communicate with a central node that in turn can communicate with wired nodes on that LAN. Most LANs require infrastructure mode to access the Internet, a local printer, or other wired services, whereas ad hoc mode supports only basic file sharing between wireless devices. Both Wi-Fi modes require wireless network adapters, sometimes called WLAN cards. Infrastructure mode WLANs additionally require a central device called the access point. The access point must be installed in a central location where wireless radio signals can reach it with minimal interference. Although Wi-Fi signals typically reach 100 feet (30 m) or more, obstructions like walls can greatly reduce their range. Cost Wireless gear costs somewhat more than the equivalent wired Ethernet products. At full retail prices, wireless adapters and access points may cost three or four times as much as Ethernet cable adapters and hubs/switches, respectively. 802.11b products have dropped in price considerably with the release of 802.11g, and obviously, bargain sales can be found if shoppers are persistent. Reliability Wireless LANs suffer a few more reliability problems than wired LANs, though perhaps not enough to be a significant concern. 802.11b and 802.11g wireless signals are subject to interference from other home appliances including microwave ovens, cordless telephones, and garage door openers. With careful installation, the likelihood of interference can be minimized. Wireless networking products, particularly those that implement 802.11g, are comparatively new. As with any new technology, expect it will take time for these products to mature. Performance Wireless LANs using 802.11b support a maximum theoretical bandwidth of 11 Mbps, roughly the same as that of old, traditional Ethernet. 802.11a and 802.11g WLANs support 54 Mbps, that is approximately one-half the bandwidth of Fast Ethernet. Furthermore, Wi-Fi performance is distance sensitive, meaning that maximum performance will degrade on computers farther away from the access point or another communication endpoint. As more wireless devices utilize the WLAN more heavily, performance degrades even further. Overall, the performance of 802.11a and 802.11g is sufficient for home Internet connection sharing and file sharing, but generally not sufficient for home LAN gaming. The greater mobility of wireless LANs helps offset the performance disadvantage. Mobile computers do not need to be tied to an Ethernet cable and can roam freely within the WLAN range. However, many home computers are larger desktop models, and even mobile computers must sometimes be tied to an electrical cord and outlet for power. This undermines the mobility advantage of WLANs in many homes. Security In theory, wireless LANs are less secure than wired LANs, because wireless communication signals travel through the air and can easily be intercepted. To prove their point, some engineers have promoted the practice of wardriving, that involves traveling through a residential area with Wi-Fi equipment scanning the airwaves for unprotected WLANs. On balance, though, the weaknesses of wireless security are more theoretical than practical. WLANs protect their data through the Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) encryption standard, that makes wireless communications reasonably as safe as wired ones in homes. No computer network is completely secure and homeowners should research this topic to ensure they are aware of and comfortable with the risks. Important security considerations for homeowners tend to not be related to whether the network is wired or wireless but rather ensuring: the home's Internet firewall is properly configured the family is familiar with the danger of Internet "spoof emails" and how to recognize them the family is familiar with the concept of "spyware" and how to avoid it babysitters, housekeepers, and other visitors do not have unwanted access to the network Conclusion You've studied the analysis and are ready to make your decision. Bottom line, then, which is better - wired or wireless? The table below summarizes the main criteria we've considered in this article. If you are very cost-conscious, need the maximum performance of your home system, and don't care much about mobility, then a wired Ethernet LAN is probably right for you. If on the other hand, the cost is less of an issue, you like being an early adopter of leading-edge technologies, and you are really concerned about the task of wiring your home or small business with Ethernet cable, then you should certainly consider a wireless LAN. Many of you will naturally fall somewhere in between these two extremes. If you're still undecided, consider asking friends and family about their experiences with building LANs. And, spend just a few more minutes with our interactive Home Network Advisor tool. It should help you decide on the type of network as well as the gear you will want to have.

    Blog Entry, Hardware, Internet
  • Posted on January 13, 2017 12:48 pm
    Joseph Forbes
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    So, you just bought a shiny new wireless router. Maybe you got it as a gift, or you just decided it was time to upgrade to a new one. Whatever the case may be, there are a few things you should do to make it more secure as soon as you get it out of the box. Here Are Some Tips on How to Secure Your Brand New Wireless Router: 1. Set a Strong Router Admin Password As soon as your prompted by your new router's setup routine, make sure you change your router's admin password and make it a strong one. Using the default password is a horrible idea because hackers and pretty much anyone else can look it up on the router manufacturer's website or on a site that lists default password information. 2. Upgrade Your Router's Firmware When you bought your new router, chances are, it may have been sitting in a warehouse for months, then on a store shelf for quite some time. During this time the manufacturer may have found some bugs or vulnerabilities in the firmware (software/OS that it built into the router). They may have also added new features and other upgrades that may improve the security or functionality of the router. In order to make sure that you have the latest and greatest version of the router's firmware, you'll need to check your router's firmware version to see if it is current or if there is a newer version available. Follow the manufacturer's instructions on how to check the firmware version and how to perform a firmware upgrade. 3. Turn on WPA2 Wireless Encryption When you set up your new router, you may be prompted to choose a form of wireless encryption. You should avoid the outdated WEP encryption, as well as the original WPA. You should opt for WPA2 (or whatever the most current form of wireless encryption is). Choosing WPA2 will help protect you from wireless hacking attempts. Check out our article on how to enable wireless encryption for full details. 4. Set a Strong SSID (Wireless Network Name) and Pre-Shared Key (Wireless Network Password) A strong wireless network name (SSID) and a strong wireless password is just as important as a strong router admin password. What is a strong network name you ask? A strong network name is a name that is not a default set by the manufacturer and is also not something that is commonly found on a list of most common wireless network names. If you use a common network name, you may be leaving yourself open to Rainbow Table-based encryption attacks that might allow hackers to crack your wireless network password. A strong wireless network password is also a crucial part of your wireless network's security. Check out our article on how to change your wireless network's password for details on why you need to make this password a complex one. 5. Turn on Your Router's Firewall And Configure it Odds are pretty good that your new wireless router features a built-in firewall. You should take advantage of this feature and enable and configure it to protect your network. Make sure to test your firewall to ensure that it's working after you have set it up. 6. Enable Your Router's 'Stealth Mode' (if available) Some Router's have a 'Stealth Mode' that helps to make your router, and the network devices behind it, less conspicuous to hackers on the Internet. Stealth mode helps to hide the status of open ports by not responding to requests sent by hackers to check for the presence of open ports that might be vulnerable to attacks. 7. Disable Your Router's 'Admin Via Wireless' Feature To help prevent hackers from doing a 'drive by' wireless attack where they pull up nearby and attempt to gain access to your router's admin console, disable the "Admin via Wireless" option on your router. Turning this off makes your router only accept administration via one of the Ethernet ports, meaning that unless you have a physical connection to the router then you can't administer it.

    Blog Entry, Internet, Security
  • Posted on January 10, 2017 12:10 pm
    Joseph Forbes
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    You might sometimes find yourself with just one internet connection point--a single wired connection for your laptop at the hotel, for example, or your smartphone tethered over USB to your computer. But what if you have other devices that need internet access, such as your Wi-Fi-only tablet or your friend's or family member's laptop? The good news is you can share your laptop's wired or mobile broadband internet connection wirelessly with other devices. The bad news is, with Windows 10, it takes a bit of trickery in the command prompt to turn your computer into a Wi-Fi hotspot. ~ August 18, 2015 To share your computer's internet connection, you'll need to open the command prompt in administrator mode and type in a few commands. The instructions below were adapted from the excellent guide on NirmalTV, which offers screenshots of the process. Open the command prompt in administrator mode by right-clicking on the Windows Start button and selecting "Command Prompt (Admin)". Alternatively, you can use this keyboard shortcut: Windows key + X (Win+X) then select the Command Prompt (Admin) option. When the "Administrator: Command Prompt" window opens, type the following command:  netsh wlan set hostednetwork mode=allow ssid=[networkSSID] key=[password]. Replace the "networkSSID" and "password" fields with the name you want for your new Wi-Fi hotspot network and its password (you'll use these to connect other devices to your computer's Wi-Fi hotspot). Then hit Enter. Next, type in the following command to start the network: netsh wlan start hostednetwork and hit Enter. This enables and starts the ad-hoc wireless network connection. Next, head to your Windows' network connections page (type in "network connections" in the search field in the taskbar in Windows 10 and click on "View network connections" or navigate to the Control Panel > Network and Internet > Network Connections). Right-click on the network connection that is your computer's source of internet access (e.g., the ethernet connection or the 4G broadband connection). Choose "Properties" from the context menu. Go to the "Sharing" tab and check the box next to "Allow other network users to connect through this computer's internet connection" From the dropdown list, select the Wi-Fi connection you just created. Hit OK and close the properties window. You should then see your Wi-Fi hotspot in Windows 10's network and sharing center. From your other devices, select the new Wi-Fi network in the wireless settings and enter the password you set to connect to it. These command prompt steps for setting up an ad-hoc network aren't as user-friendly as having a built-in method with a graphic user interface, but it's what we have so far in Windows 10 and will do in a pinch. If you're using an older version of Windows or are on a Mac, you can accomplish this "reverse tethering" in other ways: Use Internet Connection Sharing (e.g., when you have a laptop wired to a router or modem and want to share the connection via your Wi-Fi adapter or a second Ethernet port) Use Internet Sharing on Mac OS X Use Connectify, a free app that shares a single Wi-Fi connection wirelessly (so you don't need a second network adapter). It requires Windows 7 or above. Finally, to stop sharing your internet connection over the new Wi-Fi hotspot you created in Windows 10, enter this command in the command prompt:  netsh wlan stop hostednetwork

    Blog Entry, Hardware, Internet
  • Posted on January 9, 2017 11:11 am
    Joseph Forbes
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    How your online habits leave you and your computer at risk Keeping safe online takes more than just installing a few security programs. To protect both you and your computer, here are the top ten bad habits you need to avoid. Browsing the Web with javascript enabled by default Today's attackers are more likely to host their malicious files on the web. They may even update those files constantly using automated tools that repackage the binary in an attempt to bypass signature-based scanners. Whether through social engineering or through website exploit, the choice of browser will be of little help. All browsers are equally susceptible to Web-based malware and this includes Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and the much-maligned Internet Explorer. Disabling Javascript on all but the most trusted sites will go a long ways towards safer web browsing. Using Adobe Reader/Acrobat with default settings Adobe Reader comes pre-installed on most computers. And even if you never use it, just the mere presence can leave your computer at risk. Vulnerabilities in Adobe Reader and Adobe Acrobat are the number one most common infection vector, bar none. Making sure you stay up-to-date with the latest version of Adobe products is imperative, but not foolproof. To use Adobe Reader (and Acrobat) safely, you need to make a few tweaks to its settings. Clicking unsolicited links in email or IM Malicious or fraudulent links in email and IM are a significant vector for both malware and social engineering attacks. Reading email in plain text can help identify potentially malicious or fraudulent links. Your best bet: avoid clicking any link in an email or IM that is received unexpectedly - particularly if you do not know the sender. Clicking on popups that claim your computer is infected Rogue scanners are a category of scam software sometimes referred to as scareware. Rogue scanners masquerade as antivirus, antispyware, or other security software, claiming the user's system is infected in order to trick them into paying for a full version. Avoiding infection is easy - don't fall for the bogus claims.   Logging in to an account from a link received in email, IM, or social networking Never, ever login to an account after being directed there via a link received in an email, IM, or social networking message (i.e. Facebook). If you do follow a link that instructs you to login afterwards, close the page, then open a new page and visit the site using a previously bookmarked or known good link.   Not applying security patches for ALL programs Chances are, there are dozens of security vulnerabilities waiting to be exploited on your system. And it's not just Windows patches you need to be concerned with. Adobe Flash, Acrobat Reader, Apple Quicktime, Sun Java and a bevy of other third-party apps typically host security vulnerabilities waiting to be exploited. The free Secunia Software Inspector helps you quickly discover which programs need patching - and where to get it.   Assuming your antivirus provides 100% protection So you have antivirus installed and are keeping it up-to-date. That's a great start. But don't believe everything your antivirus does (or rather doesn't) tell you. Even the most current antivirus can easily miss new malware - and attackers routinely release tens of thousands of new malware variants each month. Hence the importance of following all the tips provided on this page.   Not using antivirus software Many (probably infected) users mistakenly believe they can avoid malware simply by being 'smart'. They labor under the dangerous misconception that somehow malware always asks permission before it installs itself. The vast majority of today's malware is delivered silently, via the Web, by exploiting vulnerabilities in software. Antivirus software is must-have protection. Of course, out-of-date antivirus is almost as bad as no antivirus software at all. Make sure your antivirus software is configured to automatically check for updates as frequently as the program will allow or a minimum of once per day. Not using a firewall on your computer Not using a firewall is akin to leaving your front door wide open on a busy street. There are several free firewall options available today - including the built-in firewall in Windows XP and Vista. Be sure to choose a firewall that offers both inbound and (as importantly) outbound protection.   Falling for phishing or other social engineering scams Just as the Internet makes it easier for legitimate pursuits, it also makes it easier for scammers, con artists, and other online miscreants to carry out their virtual crimes - impacting our real life finances, security, and peace of mind. Scammers often use sad sounding stories or promises of quick riches to hook us into being willing victims to their crimes. Exercising common sense is one of the best ways to avoid online scams. For extra help, consider installing one of the free anti-phishing toolbars

    Blog Entry, Hacking, Internet
  • Posted on January 5, 2017 11:24 am
    Joseph Forbes
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    You’re not really sure How the Heck They Got Your Password, but they did, and now you’re freaking out. The password to one of your accounts has been cracked and you don’t know what to do to get control back of your account. Let’s look at several things you can do to get control of your account and get things back to a secure state: If Someone Cracked Your Password But You Can Still Log Into Your Account The worst case scenario is that your account password gets hacked and the hackers change your password. Hopefully the security questions that you answered when you set up your account will help you regain control of your account and allow you to reset your password back and lock them out. What if there aren’t any security questions? Many accounts have a password reset process that will allow you to initiate a reset using an email account that you have on file with the account provider. Unless the hacker has changed this email address, you should be able to regain control of your account by having the password reset link sent to your email. If They’ve Taken Control Of Your Account and Locked You Out By Changing The Password If the person who cracked your password has locked you out by changing your password then getting it reset might be a little more complicated. You may need to contact the account support line of the account provider and explain the situation, they should be able to verify that you are who you say you are via other means such as by looking at the phone numbers you have on file, verifying your address, or reviewing the answers to your security questions. Make sure that you inform the account provider that this just happened and that any new information recently added to your account is false and that you want to place your account on hold until everything is sorted out. Reporting the password hack quickly is essential to limiting the damage. If The Account Was Your Main Email Account If your main email account is hacked then things can become even more complicated because, chances are, you have a lot of other accounts pointing to your email account for password reset purposes. Thankfully most email providers have multiple ways of verifying that you are whom you say you are. Follow their account password reset procedures and if all else fails contact their account support. The next step you should take after resetting your main (hacked) email account password is to change all passwords for any other account that you have that point to that account for password reset purposes. The reason: the password crackers could have initiated password resets for those other accounts. Steps to Take To Prevent it From Happening Again: Make Your Next Password Much Stronger When creating passwords to replace ones that have been cracked, you need to create a much stronger, longer, and more complex password. For tips on creating strong passwords, check out our article: How to Make a Strong Password. Use Two-factor Authentication If It’s Offered Another way to prevent future account compromises is to enable two-factor authentication on the accounts that support it. Two-factor authentication usually requires some kind of token, such as a PIN that is sent by the account provider via an already established communication line that you have verified, such as a mobile phone or secondary email account. Other methods of two-factor authentication use fingerprint readers such as those featured on newer iPhones, iPads, and some Android devices. Linking these devices to your account works in two ways.  If you never lose your phone, you will always be notified of when someone or you are accessing online accounts.  If you lose your phone, then someone has your whole life in their hands.

    Blog Entry, DATA, Data Recovery
  • Posted on January 4, 2017 12:02 pm
    Joseph Forbes
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    Here are example passwords that discourage 'brute force' dictionary cracking: OK Password: Better Password: Excellent Password: kitty 1Kitty 1Ki77y susan Susan53 .Susan53 jellyfish jelly22fish jelly22fi$h smellycat sm3llycat $m3llycat allblacks a11Blacks a11Black$ usher !usher !ush3r ebay44 ebay.44 &ebay.44 deltagamma deltagamm@ d3ltagamm@ ilovemypiano !LoveMyPiano !Lov3MyPiano Sterling SterlingGmail2015 SterlingGmail20.15 BankLogin BankLogin13 BankLogin!3 Shelby ShelbyPass1 Shelby.Pass1. Rolltide RollTide% RollTide%.% StarWars $tarwarz $tar|warz Why are some passwords stronger than others? A strong password resists guessing. Hackers and computer intruders will use automated software as a way to submit hundreds of guesses per minute to open your online account. These software tools are called 'dictionary' or 'brute force repetition' tools, because they will use English dictionaries to sequentially guess your password. For example, a dictionary tool will submit sequential guesses like this: Dog Dogs Dogcatcher Dogcatchers Dogberry Dogberries Dogma Dogmatic Dogmatized Dog1 Dog2 Dog3 Dog4 These password-guessing tools can submit up to 1000 attempts per minute. The less that your password resembles regular English word patterns, the longer it will take for a repetition tool to guess it. Beating dictionary programs: use non-English word combinations. These password variations below purposely avoid using complete English word patterns. By injecting numbers and special characters instead of letters, these passwords will take exponentially longer to guess by a dictionary program: Dog.lov3r dOG.lov3r i7ovemydog!! d0gsaremybestfr13nds sn00pdoggyd0G Karm@beatsDogm@ C@ts-and-Dogs-Living-together

    Blog Entry, EDUCATION, Hacking
  • Posted on January 3, 2017 12:00 pm
    Joseph Forbes
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    Keeping track of passwords can seem like a hassle. Most of us have multiple sites we visit which require password logins. So many, in fact, that it's tempting to use the same username/password combo for all of them. Don't. Otherwise, it takes only the compromise of a single site's credentials to have a toppling domino effect on the security of all your online assets. Fortunately, there is a fairly straightforward way to have different passwords for each site you use but still make the passwords easy enough to remember. Creating Unique Passwords Before you begin creating strong passwords, you need to consider the use of those passwords. The intent is to create strong passwords unique to each account, but easy enough to memorize. To do this, first begin by splitting the sites you frequently login to into categories. For example, your category list might read as follows: social networking sites auction sites ecommerce sites email accounts banking sites forums A word of note here about forums. Never use the same password for a site's forum as you would for logging into the site itself. Generally speaking, the security on forums is not as strong as it is (or should be) for the regular site and thus the forum becomes the weakest link in their security. This is why, in the example above, forums are split into a separate category. Now that you have your categories, under each appropriate category, list the sites to which you must log in.  For example, if you have a Hotmail, Gmail, and Yahoo account, list these under the category 'email accounts'. After you've completed the list, you're ready to begin creating the strong, unique, and easy-to-remember passwords for each. Creating Strong Passwords A strong password should be 14 characters. Each character less than that makes it a little easier to compromise. If a site absolutely won't allow a password that long, then adapt these instructions accordingly. Using the 14 character password rule, use the first 8 characters as the common portion to all passwords, the next 3 to customize by category, and the last 3 to customize by site.  So the end result ends up like this: common(8)|category(3)|site(3) Following this simple rule, when you change your passwords in the future - which, remember, you should do often - you'll only need to change the first common 8 characters of each. One of the commonly recommended means of remembering a password is to first create a passphrase, modify it to the character limit, then begin swapping characters for symbols. So to do that: Come up with an 8 letter passphrase that is easy to remember. Take the first letter of each word to form the password. Substitute some of the letters in the word with keyboard symbols and caps (symbols are better than caps). Tack on a three letter abbreviation for the category, also replacing one of the letters with a symbol. Tack on a site specific three letter abbreviation, again replacing a single letter with a symbol. As an example: In step 1 we might use the pass phrase: my favorite uncle was an air force pilot Using the first letters of each word, we end up with: mfuwaafp Then we swap some of those characters with symbols and caps: Mf{w&A5p Then we tack on the category, (i.e. ema for email, and swap out one character of ema: e#a Finally, we add the site abbreviation (i.e. gma for gmail) and swap out one character: gm% We now have a password for our gmail account of Mf{w&A5pe#agm% Repeat for each email site, so perhaps you end up with: Mf{w&A5pe#agm% Mf{w&A5pe#aY%h Mf{w&A5pe#aH0t Now repeat these steps for the additional categories and sites within those categories. While this may look hard to remember, here's a tip to simplify - decide in advance what symbol you will equate with each letter.

    Blog Entry, Data Recovery, Hacking
  • Posted on January 2, 2017 4:16 pm
    Joseph Forbes
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    Hackers have been hacking wireless networks for a long time, but they don't even need to hack your wireless if you never changed your wireless router's admin password from its default value. If you never changed the admin password on your router after you set it up the first time, then all the hacker needs to do is look up the default password and log in. There are lists on the internet that provide hackers with the default admin passwords for most commercially available routers on the market today. Just Google: "Default Router Password List" and you'll find several sites that provide the default passwords for just about every major brand of wireless router available. Other sources of default admin passwords include downloadable PDF manuals available in the support section of most router manufacturer websites. If you're like many people, when you first setup your router you plugged it in, followed a couple of steps on a quick setup card, and everything just started working. End of Story You may have not gone back to change the admin password after you used it to setup the router. Here are the general steps you will need to follow in order to change and/or reset the password on your wireless router: If you have completely lost the password that you set and need to set the router back to its factory default password, perform the following steps: Below are general instructions only. Directions vary by make and model of router. Please consult your router's operating manual before performing any kind of reset procedure, and always follow proper safety precautions indicated in your router's documentation. PLEASE NOTE: The first step in this process will wipe out all of your router's configuration settings and set them back to their out-of-the-box factory defaults. You will have to change all your routers settings such as your wireless network SSID, password, encryption settings, etc, after performing this step. 1. Press and hold the reset button on the back of your wireless router You will probably have to hold the reset button from 10 to 30 seconds depending on your brand of router. If you hold it for too short a time it will simply reset the router but won't revert back to its factory default settings. On some routers you may have to use a pin or thumbtack to press the button if it is recessed inside the router. 2. Connect a computer to one of your router's Ethernet ports (but not the one that says WAN) Most router's have a web browser-accessible administrator page that you must log in to in order to access the router's configuration settings. Some routers disable administration via wireless, so you will need to ensure that you are connected to the router via an Ethernet cable before attempting to access the router's configuration page. 3. In the browser address bar, enter the IP address of your router's administration interface Most routers have what is called a non-routable internal IP address such as 192.168.1.1 or 10.0.0.1. This is an internal address that cannot be accessed from the internet. Here are the standard admin interface addresses used by some of the more popular wireless router manufactures. You may have to consult your specific router's manual for the correct address. The following list is some of the default IP addresses based on my research and may not be accurate for your specific make or model: Linksys - 192.168.1.1 or 192.168.0.1 DLink - 192.168.0.1 or 10.0.0.1 Apple - 10.0.1.1 ASUS - 192.168.1.1 Buffalo - 192.168.11.1 Netgear - 192.168.0.1 or 192.168.0.227 4. Enter the default administrator login name (usually "admin") followed by the default administrator password. You can locate the the default admin name and password for your specific router by checking the manufacturer's website or by Googling "Default Admin Password" followed by your router's brand name and model. 5. Click on the "Admin" page from your router's configuration page and create a strong password Be sure you enter a strong complex password for your router's admin password. If you ever lose this password you will have to repeat the steps above. If you didn't lose you router password but just don't know how to change it, you can skip steps 1 and 2 and enter the admin user name and password that you have into step 4. This will allow you to change your wireless router's password without wiping out all your other router's settings.

    Blog Entry, Hacking, Hardware
  • Posted on December 28, 2016 8:53 am
    Joseph Forbes
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    If you were anywhere near the internet in the U.S. on Friday (Nov 2016), you probably noticed a bunch of your favorite websites were down for much of the day. Now experts are saying it’s all because thousands of devices – like DVRs and web-connected cameras – were hacked. Once the hackers had control over these devices, they manipulated them into sending an overwhelming number of requests to a company that serves up the websites for Netflix, Google, Spotify and Twitter. When the traffic became too much to handle, the sites crashed. It was an old-school attack – often called a distributed denial of service attack, or DDoS – powered by the new web of devices called the internet of things or IoT. Security experts have been warning for a few years that internet-connected devices are susceptible to hacking. They just didn’t know exactly what hackers might do once they broke into your connected television, refrigerator or thermometer, for example. (Other than some disturbing hacks on baby monitors, that is.) Now we have our answer, and it’s worse than what the experts imagined. Focusing on security cameras and DVRs that record footage in businesses outside of the U.S., hackers created an army of devices to take down large chunks of the internet. It’s not all the device manufacturers’ fault. Websites and services will have to adapt and do more to prevent attacks like these from being so effective if we want to keep the internet up and running. Here’s a primer on why the devices are so easy to hack, and how hackers turned them into a zombie army that attacked the internet. How internet-connected devices are easily taken over DVRs and security camera are connected to the internet. That’s on purpose, of course. This feature lets users access them remotely, along with anyone else they need to let in. It’s what lets users check in on security cameras when no one’s at home or at a business, and what lets manufacturers update device software without making a house call. But this feature is also kind of a bug. Devices in the so-called internet of things are stupid-easy to connect to remotely by just about anyone, not just those with whom you want to share access. If something is connected to the internet, it has an IP address. If something has an IP address, it can be found on search engines like Google and Shodan, a searchable registry of IP addresses with information about the connected device. Hackers can find hundreds or thousands of hackable DVRs and cameras just by entering some search terms. Then, they try to break in... How hackers can break into your devices Internet-connected devices often come with default passwords. Think you’re the only one whose username and password are “admin” and “admin”? Many, if not most, device makers don’t require you to set a unique username and password, so many people end up sticking with the defaults. Hackers can find a list of vulnerable DVRs on search engines and try out that default password. If you never changed it, they’re in. But even if you do change those defaults, hackers have other options. Advanced methods utilizing services called SSH and telnet let hackers force their way into your device, since changing the password on your device’s web app does not necessarily change the password coded into the device. So while the camera was storing security video to prevent crime, hackers were quietly brute-forcing their way into the DVR and adding it to their army of attack soldiers. So how did a camera take down Twitter? To take over the cameras, hackers inserted Mirai, malicious software that lets bad guys use at least 100,000 devices as soldiers in its zombie army. That’s according to Flashpoint, a cybersecurity company that has been tracking the proliferation of Mirai across the internet of things since it was first used in a massive attack in September. The technical name for this zombie army is a botnet, and hackers have been making them out of computers for a very long time. Now that hackers can make botnets out of the internet of things, they have a more powerful tool to carry out attacks like the one that happened Friday. They used the botnet to send tons and tons of junk requests to Dyn, a company that manages web traffic for all the websites that were affected. Dyn couldn’t sort out the good requests from the bad, and as a result internet users in many parts of the US were cut off from a number of websites. Now you know how an army of DVRs and cameras kept you off Reddit for most of Friday. We still don’t know who the hackers are and what they’ll do next. It also remains to be seen how websites will change their habits to prevent outages like the ones we saw Friday. As for the manufacturers of internet-connected devices, there has been an interesting development. On Monday, connected-camera manufacturer Xiongmai said it will issue a recall of its devices caught up in the botnet army that attacked Dyn on Friday, according to Reuters. If more companies follow suit, it might give manufacturers more reason to lock down cybersecurity on their devices before putting them up for sale.

    Blog Entry, Cloud Apps, DATA
  • Posted on July 11, 2016 10:00 am
    Joseph Forbes
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    From smartphones and tablets to notebook PCs, webcams seem to be standard equipment these days. Just about every device we use has a camera on it. Did you ever stop to think that while you're staring at your screen, someone on the Internet might be staring back at you? The national news is awash in stories about hackers tricking users into installing webcam spyware. How can you be sure that no one is watching you without your permission? Many webcams on notebook computers have indicator lights on them that let you know when your camera is actively capturing video. It may be possible (on some cameras) to disable the activity light through software hacks or modifying configuration settings. So, just because you don't see an activity light on doesn't mean that your webcam isn't still capturing video. What can you do to secure your webcam? The Simple Solution: Cover It Up Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best ones. If you want to be absolutely sure that no one is watching you through your webcam, get some electrical tape and cover it. If you don't want any tape residue on your camera then you can use a longer strip of tape and fold it back on itself. Not even the best hacker in the world can defeat electrical tape. If you want to get a little more sophisticated, you can roll up a coin in the electrical tape so that the weight of the coin helps the tape stay positioned over the camera. When you want to use the camera, just lift the coin up and fold it back over the top of your computer screen. There are many other creative solutions. Maybe someone out there will start a Kickstarter project and come up with a solution that can be sold to the masses. Close Your Notebook PC When You're Not Using it? If you don't want to mess with covering up your camera , just make a habit of closing your notebook computer when you're not using it or when you want to make sure that you're not on camera. Scan Your Computer for Webcam-related Malware A traditional virus scanner may not always catch webcam-related spyware or malware. In addition to your primary antivirus software, you may want to install anti-spyware. I also recommend augmenting your primary anti-malware solution with a Second Opinion Malware Scanner such as Malwarebytes. A Second Opinion Scanner acts as a second layer of defense and will hopefully catch any malware that may have evaded your front line scanner. Avoid Opening E-mail Attachments From Unknown Sources If you get an email from someone you don't know and it contains an attachment file, think twice before you open it as it may contain a Trojan horse malware file that could install webcam-related malware onto your computer. If your friend e-mails you something with an unsolicited attachment, text them or call them to see if they really sent it on purpose or if someone sent it from a hacked account. This has been happening a lot lately from people I know. Legitimate emails sent from people you know, with attachments disguised as something important. Avoid Clicking Shortened Links on Social Media Sites One of the ways webcam-related malware is spread is through links on social media sites. Malware developers often use link shortening services such as TinyURL and Bitly to try and mask the true destination link which is likely a malware distribution site. If a link's content sounds too good to be true, or sounds like it's sole purpose is to get you to click it due to it's appealing subject matter, it is best to steer clear and not click on it as it may be a doorway to a malware infection.

    Blog Entry, Hacking, Internet