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Blog

Hello world

I’ve just archived all my blog posts, dating back to 1999 the blog posts are mostly discussing technology more specifically Apple technology with the odd bit about firewalls. There’s also a lot of nonsense posts. To be honest I was more interested in messing about with the WordPress blogging platform and associated plugins (the little scripts that allow you to extend the platform) rather than actually present any useful information.

So what is this post about then? Feck all really. Lock down and COVID is such a bitch that I decided to start writing, and see if anything interesting would come out. So far, it’s not faring well.

So… what have you been doing during lockdown/ level 3 lockdown or whatever they are calling it? Who cares what you have been doing… do I even know you… ah… no… I do care… Ok, not really, anyway back to me. I’ve been doing some language learning, in anticipation of a trip away next year. Also I’ve been doing a bit of reading. Oh, and I started running again, a little bit anyway. I don’t tell people, cause everyone seems to run these days, much faster and longer distance than me, so why shame myself. Well that’s not true – just running and not being on the couch is better than nothing.

I would have thought I would be much more disciplined than I am ‘working from home’, I’ve been going into the office once a week, and aside from the horrible bus journey, I much prefer to be in the office…

Anyway, thanks for reading all this shite, you just waisted three minutes, back in your box!

Categories
Technology

What is Ransomware and what steps can you take so you don’t become a victim

Yes, Ransomware may sound scary, and that’s because it is!

Trend Micro define Ransomware as “A type of malware that prevents or limits users from accessing their system, either by locking the system’s screen or by locking the users’ files unless a ransom is paid.”

Ransomware can put users into a very tricky situation indeed. How much do you value your data? Do you value them enough to risk paying for access to get them back again? The keyword here being risk. Do you trust the cybercriminal to hand him over your hard earned cash to possibly give you access to a decryption key or decryption tool? Well, some individuals and even large organizations are indeed doing this.

These most recent examples that we have recently seen include WannaCry, Petya and CryptoLocker but there are many more examples.

The malware distribution chart here by Malwarebytes.com from Q1 2017 shows exactly how fast the growth is.

The ransomware attacks on companies have trebled since last year. It is reckoned an attack now occurs once every forty seconds. That is an incredible statistic. As for attacks on induvial consumers, this is also on the rise, but the cybercriminals are targeting more businesses with the ambition of getting their sights on a bigger score.

How much does it cost to get my files back?

The cost of getting your files back can run into the hundreds depending on the ransomware variant and the rates of exchange for digital currencies. The most common payment method is Bitcoin due to the perceived anonymity. You also have the option of employing the services of recovery firms. This could however not prove successful and end up costing far more than the actual ransom.

Again please note that paying the ransom does not guarantee that you’ll receive your software to decrypt your files. Furthermore, if a ransom is paid, it is possible that the attacker still has access to your machine and could again hold you to ransom.

If you have been a victim already, then we recommend first finding out which exact strain of malware has encrypted your files. After this run some online searches and see if any free decryption tools exist. We have some more helpful tips down below.

Ransomware the malware of choice. 

So how does Ransomware get into my system? These are the three common methods.

  • The malicious software can be downloaded unwittingly when you visit a website that has already been compromised by hackers.
  • Via Email. You could be sent an email that contains a Trojan download which in turn attempts to install the Ransomware. This email could be from somebody already on your contacts list. ALWAYS scan attachments no matter who the sender is.
  • Network sharing. Recent ransomware, for example, WannaCrypt exploits the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol. It has worm-like capabilities which allow it to spread to other computers on the network.

 

Ransomware is one of the fastest growing online crimes and here are five steps that we recommended you implement to reduce your chances of infection.

  1. Backups. I’ll repeat it again backup your files people. All the files that you can’t afford to lose back them up. If possible to multiple locations. I use the following. Microsoft Onedrive. All my files, pictures and documents get synced automatically to the cloud. This includes my phone, tablet and laptop. I don’t stop there. I also use a Kingston USB HyperX Savage memory dongle. It’s small, easy to carry and has excellent transfer rates (It also looks great). You can find a link here.
  2. Be vigilant. Malware relies on human vulnerabilities. If you receive an email or a link from a friend or client that seems like it might be harmless double check. If you are in any way suspicious then don’t open it this includes social media sites.
  3. Software Updates. Yes, I know this is more common sense but really, think about it. When is the last time you went and checked if your windows updates were checked recently or your virus definitions for that matter? Have you been getting alerts and just hitting that remind be later icon! Now might be the time to stop and update your system’s software regularly or face the consequences. Keep an eye for our upcoming article on what we recommend antivirus solutions.
  4. Disconnect the infected system. The ransomware can spread as we have mentioned. It can travel from one PC to another be that in the home or office. Doing this will limit the spread of the infection until you have cleaned the infected workstation.
  5. Using a Limited account. By this I mean don’t always log in as the system administrator account. For doing daily tasks, you will not require administrative functions so don’t use the admin account. Doing this will limit the ability of malicious software to run under administrative credentials.

In summary, protecting against ransomware can be difficult. The criminals are always coming up with new ways to try and defeat anti-virus software. Use the steps we have recommended, be smart online and try not to become a victim!

If you’re looking for a fast, trendy and cool looking USB to store those important files we have tried and tested the Kingston Digital HyperX Savage. Click here to view on amazon.

 

Categories
Technology

Guide to VPN’s

The VPN guide for beginners

So what is a VPN?

The goal of this article is to give you an understanding of what a VPN is. What does a VPN let you do? Should I be using a VPN? I’ll also be recommending a VPN service provider should you decide after reading this that you want one.
Firstly VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, and they’re used to keep your connection to public or private networks encrypted and secure. So all that traffic that comes from your laptop, mobile or tablet to the VPN server is in a word scrambled. If somebody happened to capture any of your communication traffic, it would be of no use.

Who uses VPN’s and to do what?

  • Large enterprises and the SMB (Small Medium Business) use VPN technologies to allow their remote employees to connect back to the office when away on business or when working from home. Once the secure connection is established it’s effectively like that employee is sitting at his/her desk in the office. They can access the file, print and email server and be on the opposite side of the world. The key being it’s highly secure. This reason is why VPN’s first came into existence.
  • The security conscious internet user who values privacy. We see a lot in the media about government snooping and ISP’s (Internet Service Providers) keeping logs of their customer’s internet traffic. Well, VPN’s help with this. As we will explain shortly, you’ll be going undercover when you connect to the net.
  •  Bypassing Restrictions. Today this is a common reason for using the technology. If you wish to access a service or even a website that is blocked based on your geographical location, then you need a VPN to help you out.
  • Hackers. Hackers use VPN services to remain anonymous. It helps them to hide their location and evade getting caught when carrying out illegal activities.
  • When connecting through free public Wi-Fi zones such as internet cafes. If a malicious user is snooping on network traffic from a free Wi-Fi area, you’ll be kept secure through the use of encryption.

I’m sure there are lots and lots of more reasons, but for now, these are the main ones that spring to mind.

How does a VPN connection work?

When you connect to the internet, you are assigned an IP (Internet Protocol) address by your service provider. This address is unique, and it’s just for you (Aren’t you special). So maybe you can tell already by that sentence that identifying you if required would be relatively easy, right?
When you connect to a VPN server that you have chosen, you are forming what is called an encrypted tunnel. All your traffic passes through this tunnel before it hits the final distinction. Now my ISP cannot see my traffic (It’s encrypted), it cannot see the websites I visit because my chosen VPN provider is routing my traffic for me. I can appear as though I’m in an entirely different country altogether. Most VPN providers have options that allow you to select which county you wish to route your encrypted traffic through. An attractive choice if trying to access streaming serveries that would be otherwise unavailable. At this point, I’d like to mention that Jon.ie does not in any way condone the illegal use of VPN service providers.

Do I need a VPN provider?

Well, that all depends. Do you want privacy when surfing the net? Are you trying to access a resource that’s unavailable due to your geographical location? Do you use lots of public Wi-Fi spots? Do you want to avoid logs being kept of your traffic and sold to the highest bidder? If you have answered yes here then maybe yes, it’s time to get a VPN service. You will have plenty of choices.

Who we recommend for VPN services.

  • When choosing a VPN service provider keep an eye out for the following:Cost. Naturally, this will be a significant factor. Limited vs. unlimited usage. How much data allowance will you require? How many simultaneous connections can you have running together?
  • Software used to establish the connection. How easy is it to get up and running? Read the Reviews.
  • The number of servers at your disposal. Does the provider offer lots of server in multiple geographical locations?
  • Speed. A VPN service will slow your connection down to a degree. Again, do some research and see how the reviews stack up.
  • Customer Support. When it all goes wrong, do you have a support agent to contact to get to the bottom of the issue you’re having?
  • Operating System Compatibility. Is this software support by the OS (Operating System) that you use, e.g., Windows 10, Ubuntu MAC, etc.

Bearing all this in mind Jon.ie recommends the following VPN service provider:

Provider: Express VPN
Website: https://www.expressvpn.com/

Reasons:

  1. Compatibility. With apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Routers, and Linux. ExpressVPN works with any internet connection including wired, Wi-Fi, and cellular networks.
  2. Easy to setup. Sign up, install, and press connect. Straightforward for the least technologically savvy of us.
  3. No Logs. Express VPN never share your details with anyone.
  4. Unblock Websites. Easily unblock sites and services like Facebook, Twitter, Skype, YouTube and Gmail. With ExpressVPN you can keep on accessing the sites, you love.
  5.  Speed. With unlimited bandwidth, you can enjoy your favourite videos and video chat with your friends and family without waiting for videos to buffer.
  6. Censorship. When connected to ExpressVPN, your ISP only sees encrypted traffic passing to our VPN servers, but they cannot decipher the data or know the websites you have visited.
  7.  Customer Support. We’ve used it, and it’s excellent.
  8. Cost. Different plans to meet your requirements. See here: https://www.expressvpn.com/order
    ExpressVPN also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.

To Conclude

We hope that you have found this brief VPN guide informative. You should now know what a VPN is, what it does and who uses VPN’s. Should you decide to use one, we have our recommendation but don’t be afraid to try several until you find the one that meets all your requirements.

 

Categories
Technology

Five steps to secure your home wireless network

We love wireless communication technologies. The freedom that it allows us from our wireless audio systems to wireless internet access that extends around the home. However wireless internet connections come with some security vulnerabilities that you don’t see with wired connections. But don’t fear we’re here to help. We have some basic yet essential steps that you can implement to keep any potential attackers at bay.

1 – Change the default SSID.

What’s an SSID you might ask? Well, it stands for Service Set Identifier. When you plug in your router that is supplied to you by your ISP (Internet Service Provider), it will come with a default network name which is broadcasted to the outside world.
When you want to connect your laptop, phone, games consoles or tablet, etc. to the wireless network you click on your network name or SSID. Now, while this doesn’t just allow attackers onto your home network connection, it can give them valuable information, for example, the manufacturer of your router or who your service provider is. When picking your SSID don’t include any personal information that identifies you.
It is also good practice to change the SSID regularly. But it can be annoying. Each time you change your SSID, you must reconnect each device to the wireless network again.

2 – Change Default Credentials.

All routers will come with a default username and password. If you purchase a new router from your local IT store or if your ISP supplies it, it doesn’t matter it will have a default username and password. Let’s change that straight away. In fact, some manufacturers will force you to modify the default password before you can even log in to configure your router.
The default username’s and passwords are publicly available on the internet. Different manufacturers will use different credentials, and the reason they’re publically available is that if you ever need to troubleshoot your hardware, it might need to be reset to the factory default settings.
Not changing these settings can be very dangerous and allow somebody who has physical access to your device to make whatever changes they wish. It could also allow them to remotely connect to your router if your encryption has been compromised but more on that next.

3 – Encryption Standards.

All routers will offer different encryption standards. You will want to pick a standard that provides the best level of security but also one that’s supported by all the devices that connected to your network router.
If you take away anything from this article, it’s, please use the best encryption standard that’s available to you. It’s crucial in locking down your home wireless network.
WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) is an old standard so don’t use it. What you want to be looking for is WPA2, or you may see WPA2-PSK. If you don’t see these options maybe it’s time for a router upgrade!
Remember to make this password a good one. It’s what you’ll be entering on all your devices to connect to the net. We recommend a mix of Upper, Lower, Numeric and special characters.

4 – Disable Remote Administration.

If you don’t plan on managing your router while you’re away from home turn off remote administration function when outside the LAN (Local Area Network) if it’s an option on your device.
If it’s enabled, you can enter the public IP address of your device and reach it from any location in the world via a web-based management interface. It’s a handy feature for the small business that requires troubleshooting done on the device, but for the average home user, it is not a requirement. If you see Remote Administration support in the settings, disable it. If it is something that you will require consider a VPN (Virtual Private Network) instead.

5 – Update your hardware firmware.

It’s good practice to check for firmware upgrades regularly. Every couple of weeks or so will be okay. Vulnerabilities are continually found and when they are just like with Operating Systems updates patches are released to close down the exploit. It’s worth nothing some routers will check for firmware upgrades automatically. You can check the manufacturer’s website for details on the lasted firmware releases for your particular model.

To Conclude.

I hope that you have found some of these basic steps of use. Nobody wants to share their internet connection with the neighbors (one would assume), and indeed, we don’t want anybody eavesdropping on our web connectivity. By implementing these steps outlined here, you will significantly decrease your chances of becoming a victim.

Happy and safe surfing!

Categories
Blog

Famous People Who Don’t Drink Alcohol

If you need a little inspiration on quitting alcohol… Here are a few surprising celebrities and entrepreneurs, who you may not have known have quit or reduced their alcohol intake significantly.

Bradley Cooper

Bradley Cooper who has been sober since he was 29 told GQ  “If I continued it, I was really going to sabotage my whole life…The one thing that I’ve learned in life is the best thing I can do is embrace who I am and then do that to the fullest extent, and then, whatever happens, happens,” Cooper continued. “The more steps I do to not do that, the farther I am away from fulfilling any potential I would have.”

Cristiano Ronaldo

Ronaldo does not drink alcohol because drinking it reminds him of the death of his father. Ronaldo would offer to ask him to go to rehab and address his alcohol addiction, but he always refused.

Singer and record producer Calvin Harris says he quit drinking after a series of incidents: “I gave up drinking because bad things happened. Things that you just think: ‘I really shouldn’t have done that.’ There have been lots of gigs when I’ve looked back and gone: ‘Oh, it was on television, a lot of people saw that, and I was totally inebriated.’ I’ve had the best year of my life not drinking, it’s been great.”

Larry Ellison

Co-founder and CEO of Oracle; No. 5 on Forbes’ list of The World’s Billionaires, says: “I can’t stand anything that clouds my mind. … I have no problem with people drinking; I have no problem with people smoking dope. If that’s what they want to do, God bless them, that’s their business. But I can’t do those things.”

Tyra Banks

Model and Media Mogul says: “I feel like I’ve been very lucky because I don’t really have an addictive personality. I had a little taste of alcohol when I was 12 years old, but that’s about it.”

Elton John

The music legend was inspired to get sober  years ago after seeing the AIDS epidemic take a toll on society. “I had the luck to meet Ryan White and his family. I wanted to help them, but they ended up helping me much more. Ryan was the spark that helped me to recover from my addictions and start the AIDS foundation,” he said. “Within six months I became sober, and clean, and have been for the last 27 years.” (3)

Zack Efron

On becoming sober, “What I found is structure. That led me to a balance of opposites: You get out of life what you put in. There was a moment when my morning routine was, like, Get up and Google yourself. But that stopped, dramatically and instantly, probably three years ago. I realized that viewing yourself through other people’s pictures is not living your own life”.(4)

Sources

http://www.boomsbeat.com/articles/5289/20140616/50-interesting-facts-about-cristiano-ronaldo-diagnosed-with-a-racing-heart-at-15-wealthiest-soccer-player.htm

http://www.gq.com/story/bradley-cooper-cover-story-january-2014?currentPage=2

(3) https://www.thefix.com/elton-john-i-lost-my-humanity-addiction

(4) https://www.elle.com/culture/celebrities/news/a35753/zac-efron-cherchez-la-femme-2016/

Categories
Blog

Change TV source with a SKY remote

You may not know this!

But, you can change input source with your SKY remote control!

This means you don’t have to use another remote such as the TV remote, or the physical TV buttons to switch HDMI sources, giving you a more seamless experience. Here is how you do it:

Just a caveat –  This worked on a Samsung TV, it may not work on your TV!

  1. Using the Sky remote, press the ‘TV’ button.
  2. Next – Press the ‘Help’ button, which, under the ‘TV function’ of the SKY remote allows you to switch inputs!
  3. Once you have arrived at the correct input press the ‘OK’ button.
  4. Finally, press the ‘SKY’ button, to tell the remote, you now wish to control the SKY box once again and not the TV.

I hope this works for you, I found it very handy indeed!