Hacking Made Easy

Network security is about to get a lot more complicated for IT departments.

Numerous hacking tools believed to be designed by the National Security Agency (NSA) recently hit the Internet, available at no charge to anyone who wants to download the files. The tools include 61 files that appear to target Windows machines.

The release of the hacking tools comes courtesy of the hacking collective calling itself the Shadow Brokers. The group previously announced that it planned to sell the tools to the highest bidders, but appeared to have backed off that plan after the sale failed to attract much interest.

This past Thursday, the group announced in a post written in broken English that it was ceasing its operations and would be going dark.

“TheShadowBrokers is deleting accounts and moving on so don’t be trying communications. “You are being disappointed? Nobody is being more disappointed than TheShadowBrokers.”

The post did not make it clear why the group decided to close its doors, although it did make reference to “political talk” and the increased risk inherent in its involvement with high-profile hacking cases.

While it is impossible to say for sure where the Shadow Brokers obtained the tools, samples of the malware files released by the group in August appeared to match programming code that had been obtained by whistleblower Edward Snowden while working for the NSA, although he never released the files.

The tools are believed to have been designed by an outfit known as The Equation Group, itself a hacking team believed by many experts to be supported by the NSA.

The Hacking War Goes On

This may not be the end of the Shadow Brokers. The group said that it still has additional exploits and stolen passwords that it’s holding in reserve, which the group may release at a later date if it’s not paid to keep them off the market.

Why is the group is surrendering their most powerful tools now? According to one theory, the release is a sort of warning from the Russian government to the new U.S. administration not to escalate the ongoing cyber conflict between the two nations.

Another infamous hacker believed to be tied to the Russian government, Guccifer 2.0, also made an announcement the same day as the Shadow Brokers released the malware tools. Guccifer’s post denied reports from U.S. intelligence agencies that he or she is a Russian agent. Guccifer is the hacker who claimed responsibility for hacking into the emails of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and transmitting them to Wikileaks.

Will the 61 hacking tools that have been made available on the internet make it to a PC near you? Lets hope not. Today everyone should be using following good security practices – otherwise you really are taking a rick with your data and your personal information.

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Facebook’s Battle Against Fake News

Facebook is updating its “trending” feature that highlights hot topics on its social networking site, part of its effort to root out the kind of fake news stories that critics contend helped Donald Trump become president.

With the changes announced Wednesday, Facebook’s trending list will consist of topics being covered by several publishers. Before, it focused on subjects drawing the biggest crowds of people sharing or commenting on posts.

I believe it is this “focusing on the biggest crowds” that was Facebook’s error which resulted in so much fake news on people’s newsfeeds.

The switch is intended to make Facebook a more credible source of information by steering hordes of its 1.8 billion users toward topics that “reflect real world events being covered by multiple outlets,” Will Cathcart, the company’s vice president of product management, said in a blog post.

Facebook also will also stop customizing trending lists to cater to each user’s personal interests. Instead, everyone located in the same region will see the same trending lists, which currently appear in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia and India.

This change in particular could widen the scope of information Facebook’s users see, instead of just topics that reinforce what they may have already heard or read elsewhere. The broader perspective might reduce the chances of Facebook’s users living in a “filter bubble” — only engaging with people and ideas with which they agree.

Questions about Facebook’s influence on what people are reading intensified last summer after a technology blog relying on an anonymous source reported that human editors routinely suppressed conservative viewpoints on the site.

Facebook fired the small group of journalists overseeing its trending items and replaced them with an algorithm that was supposed to be a more neutral judge about what to put on the list.

But the automated approach began to pick out posts that were getting the most attention, even if the information in them was bogus. Some of the fake news stories targeted Democratic presidential nominee Hilary Clinton, prompting critics to believe the falsehoods help Donald Trump overcome a large deficit in public opinion polls.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg initially brushed off that notion as “crazy ,” but in December the company announced a slew of new measures to curb the spread of fake news.

To discourage the creation of fake news in the first place, Facebook also is banishing perpetual publishers of false information from its lucrative ad network.

Google, which operates an even larger digital ad network, has taken a similar stand against publishers of fake news.

My Take on Fake News

What are of this tells us is that social media and fake news is a very real problem and often results in people living in bubbles that they are comfortable with. This is very ironic considering that we have access to more information then ever before in human history. However people tend to only listen to what makes them comfortable and choose outlets that they agree with. This first happened with cable news channels (Fox News), now it is occurring on social media.

This is dangerous and suffocating to individual growth.

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Apple’s iOS 10.3 Released to Beta Testers

This morning I downloaded and installed the beta release of iOS 10.3 on my iPhone 7. This is a promising update and it looks like there are many valuable and useful updates coming to your iPhone. I have a sneak peak here so if you have an iPhone keep on reading!

On the face of things, iOS 10.3 beta 1 doesn’t look to be a huge step forward for the platform, but does actually contain a number of interesting and exciting improvements. First and foremost, Apple has furnished the Find My iPhone app with the ability to locate lost AirPods, meaning you don’t have to worry about losing one of the lose little Pods. Apple has also improved the ability of Siri, much to the pleasure of cricket fans, by allowing Siri to check and report back international and Indian Premiere League cricket match scores. Improving Siri also seems to be hot on the agenda with a number of improvements to SiriKit to bring additional functionality, like paying bills, scheduling (instead of just ordering) rides with Uber and Lyft, and even checking the status of payments.

Apple has also made some smaller improvements, such as adding Reduce Motion support into Safari, bringing a new Podcasts app widget, and even adding HomeKit enhancements, as well as a new hourly weather forecast via 3D Touch actions in Maps app.

iOS 10.3 also means that the iPhone and iPad will be the first devices to adopt Apple’s new file system, APFS.

For a complete list of changes, head on over to our post here: iOS 10.3 Beta 1: All Changes And New Features In One Place.

iOS 10.3 Public Beta 1

Those who are registered on Apple’s Beta Software Program are able to grab iOS 10.3 public beta 1 right now from Settings > General > Software Update. For those who aren’t enrolled yet, head to beta.apple.com to get started.

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Changes Arrive On Your Facebook Newsfeed

Facebook today announced a few changes to the way it handles video on your News Feed.

In the past, video was ranked based on a few actions, like whether a video was live, if people bothered to turn on sound, or if you decided to open it to a full screen view.

Today’s announcement adds another metric, ‘percent completion,’ to determine how to rank video and determine what’s worth inserting into your News Feed. Percent completion is exactly what it sounds like, the amount of time you watch each video before shutting it off and scrolling to the next item. The longer you watch, it stands to reason, the more compelling the content is, and thus the more it should appear in the News Feed of others.

As for longer videos, the metric makes sense as it takes into account that sometimes life gets in the way of that 10 minute clip from ‘Last Week Tonight.’ If you’d watched six minutes before clicking away, the approach would still score the experience more favorably than watching 10 seconds of a 90 second video, for example.

And for the important question, how will this impact your Facebook Page? It remains to be seen, but Facebook expects that most Pages won’t notice a significant change.

While we expect that most Pages will not see significant changes in distribution as a result of this update, longer videos that people spend time watching may see a slight increase in distribution on Facebook — so people who find longer videos engaging may be able to discover more of them in News Feed. As a side effect, some shorter videos may see a slight dip in News Feed distribution.

Not all users will notice the change immediately, although it did begin its roll out today. Over time, the feature will be monitored, and rolled out to more users.

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Star Trek’s Fantastic Predicted Gizmos

It’s been a slow tech news week so lets take some time to look at some fantastic gizmos we are actually enjoying now and will be enjoying in the years to come as predicted by my favorite TV series.

For many of us a vision of the future has been provided by one very successful television franchise: Star Trek. And the future, it turns out, is coming sooner than even Star Trek‘s writers could have imagined. Here are 12 technical gizmos used on the Star Trek television shows that are now becoming real.

1. FOOD REPLICATOR

Captain Jean-Luc Picard used to say ‘Tea, Earl Gray, hot!” and it would be replicated instantly. Today’s 3D printers don’t tackle tea, but there are machines that actually can print food. And other printers, like the MakerBot Replicator 2 are quite adept at making small objects—just as they were shown to do on later episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

2. UNIVERSAL TRANSLATOR


In several episodes, we marveled at the universal translator, which decoded what aliens said in real-time—and in the later shows, it was integrated into the communication badges (which explains why basically everyone, regardless of home planet, spoke English). Now, there’s an app for that. Voice Translator by TalirApps understands 71 languages (no Klingon yet, though). You speak in your native tongue and the app translates your phrase into another language.

3. TABLET COMPUTERS


Lieutenant Commander Geordi Laforge—you know, the guy from Reading Rainbow—used a tablet computer (what they called Personal Access Data Devices, or PADDs) to punch in coordinates for the next star system. Other Starfleet personnel used them to watch video and listen to music—just the things we use tablets for today.

4. TRICORDER

In the TV show, a tricorder is a handheld device that scans for geological, biological, and meteorological anomalies. Handy! In 2012, Peter Jansen from McMaster University in Ontario built a working prototype that scans for magnetic fields and other interference. And there are lots of other real-world tricorders, too.

5. HOLODECK

On Star Trek: The Next Generation, you could walk into a chamber onboard the Enterprise and visit your home planet for a quick barbecue, or even have an affair with a hologram. Leave it to a bunch of University of Southern California students to make virtual reality a little more down-to-Earth—Project Holodeck used virtual reality goggles to create a fictional world. (Though no encounters with Minuet were reported.)

6. COMMUNICATOR BADGE

On the original series, Kirk and crew carried handheld communicators. But in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Starfleet personnel wore communicator badges on the left breasts of their uniforms. A California start-up called Vocera has created a similar device you pin to your shirt. They’re used mostly in hospitals to avoid having constant overhead pages.

7. TRACTOR BEAM


Pulling a ship with an invisible tractor beam seems impossible, but two New York University professors are making it so. Their experiment, which uses a light beam to control tiny microscopic particles, is not going to be deployed on the next NASA mission, but shows we’re making progress.

8. NATURAL LANGUAGE QUERIES

In the Star Trek universe, you can talk to a computer (voiced by Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, Trek creator Gene’s wife) in casual conversation. These days, we’ve got Apple’s Siri and Google Now, and while they aren’t fully developed systems yet, they are baby steps toward a service like Star Trek‘s computer, which has a complex understanding of context. Google even codenamed their voice-based service “Majel,” in honor of Barrett-Roddenberry.

9. WARP DRIVE

No one in Star Trek ever sits down and explains how a warp drive works in detail, but we know it has something to do with bending space and traveling faster than the speed of light. Doesn’t seem possible, but NASA has suggested that a warp drive is possible.

10. PHASER

Captain Kirk was pretty handy with a phaser, and he didn’t always set his to stun. Ironically, we’ve been using something similar since the first Iraq War. Known as a dazzler, the directed-energy weapon sends a pulse of electromagnetic radiation to stop someone cold in their tracks.

11. TELEPORTATION

To get from place to place, Captain Kirk and company didn’t need an airplane—they didn’t even need a space elevator. Instead, they teleported using the U.S.S. Enterprise‘s transporter (a scenario we all dream about while standing in line at airport security). We’ve already done some teleportation—specifically, of photons and atoms. These particles don’t disappear and reappear, though. According to Forbes, “the information contained in the photon’s quantum state is transmitted from one photon to another through quantum entanglement – without actually travelling the intervening distance.” An exact copy appears on the other side, while the original photon is destroyed. According to theoretical physicist Michio Kaku, we consist of 15 trillion cells, so we’ll need to wait a few centuries before we’re teleporting like Kirk. And we’ll still have to destroy the original.

12. HYPOSPRAY

In the world of Star Trek, there’s no need for needles (and thus no trypanophobia)—Bones administered medicine through the skin using painless jet-injected hypospray. Recently, MIT created a similar device that, according to Geek.com, “delivers a drug through the skin at speeds of up to 340 meters per second and in under a millisecond. The amount of drug can be varied, as can how deep it is injected. And as far as the patient is concerned, they shouldn’t feel anything other than the tip of the injector against their skin. That’s because the jet is as thin as a mosquito’s proboscis.” It’s not the first, but it does have more control than other hyposprays, which means it could actually be a replacement for needles—and that would make visits to the doctor’s office with your kids much easier.

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Star Trek Invades Alexa

I am a big fan of Amazon;s Alexa devices. These far outpace Siri (Apple) or Cortana (Microsoft) in how they can actually be a useful tool in your home.

Amazon’s Alexa devices are constantly being improved through updates and skills. An now we learn that Amazon has added another Wake Word option.

Wake Words, of course, are the words you can use to cause Alexa to start listening to your requests. Without the Wake Word, Alexa just sits waiting. For privacy nuts, this should be proof enough that Amazon is respecting the customer’s private moments and conversations, but some still suspect she’s listening anyway. Alexa devices provide a hardware button to stop her from listening completely.

Originally, Alexa came with just three Wake Word options: Alexa, Amazon, and Echo. But, now Alexa has a fourth Wake Word as Amazon has added “Computer” to the mix.

Rumor suggests that Amazon is still intent on providing the ability to allow customers to create their own Wake Words sometime in the future.

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Freeing Up Space with Windows 10

Windows 10 is getting a neat little feature that will help you free up space on your PC. Microsoft recently added a new feature to Windows 10 with the release of Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 15014 that will automatically remove some useless files on your device.

The feature, which Microsoft is calling “Storage Sense” will essentially remove temporary files that aren’t being used by any of your installed files, and it will automatically clean the Recycle Bin every 30 days to give you some extra storage space on your device. The feature also lets you trigger a manual clean-up which might be important when you need a tiny amount of space on your device urgently.

Storage Sense is disabled by default for obvious reasons, but if you want to enable this feature and free up some space on your device, you can enable it by heading over to the Settings app’s System > Storage section. Keep in mind that this feature is only available to Windows Insiders running the recently released Windows 10 Build 15014. If you aren’t part of the Insider program, you will be able to try this feature out along with some other fairly major features when Microsoft officially releases the Windows 10 Creators Update to the public. The update is scheduled to be released this April, so it should be available on your Windows 10 device in a few months.

Windows 10 is getting a neat little feature that will help you free up space on your PC. Microsoft recently added a new feature to Windows 10 with the release of Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 15014 that will automatically remove some useless files on your device. The feature, which Microsoft is calling “Storage Sense” will essentially remove temporary files that aren’t being used by any of your installed files, and it will automatically clean the Recycle Bin every 30 days to give you some extra storage space on your device. The feature also lets you trigger a manual clean-up which might be important when you need a tiny amount of space on your device urgently.

 

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Original Windows 10 Being Retired

If you are using Windows 10 it’s time to make sure you are running the latest version. That’s because Microsoft has set March 26 as the end date for support of the original Windows 10 edition.

“After March 26, 2017, Windows 10, version 1507 will no longer be serviced, as only the two most Current Branch for Business (CBB) versions are actively serviced,” Nathan Mercer, a Microsoft senior product marketing manager, wrote in a post to a company blog Thursday.

Version 1507 was the original Windows 10 release of July 2015. It abides by the year-month labeling that Microsoft has assigned to the Windows 10 editions.

Microsoft warned customers in November, when it promoted version 1607 to the CBB (Current Branch for Business) track, that it would end updates, including security patches, for 1507 sometime in March. Version 1507 will continue to work, but it will not receive updates after Sunday, March 26.

The stoppage is an important part of the new software-as-a-service model that Microsoft touts for Windows 10. The company has pledged to support only two CBB builds concurrently, which means that at the release of N+2, where N equaled an earlier version, the company starts a 60-day-or-so countdown. At the end of the 60 days, N drops off the support list. N+1 then becomes N and N+2 morphs into N+1.

When last year’s Anniversary Update — labeled 1607 — shifted to the CBB, N equaled 1507; N+1 represented 1511, the November 2015 upgrade; and N+2 equaled 1607. That meant 1507 support was to be shuttered two months from the January availability of 1607 in the CBB.

Some Microsoft customers are, of course, already running 1607, including consumers (who began to receive the build, aka “Anniversary Update,” in August) and businesses that have assigned Windows 10 devices to the “Current Branch” (CB) track.

You can track the various versions of Windows 10, and the last-served update for each, on Microsoft’s website.

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Ten Ways To Avoid Viruses

Recently many of my workmates and friends have asked about viruses and hoe to help them with their “slow moving computers. With this in mind I decided to take a little time to touch on 10 things you can do to reduce your chance of having your computer ifected by a nasty virus.

So here you go. Master these 10 things and you may just keep your PC clean and running like brand new.

1. Beware of Fake Download Buttons

These can turn up anywhere, but generally you’ll find them on download sites. Whether legitimate or otherwise, you can guarantee there will be a download button that isn’t the one you want to click. The result can be that you downloaded something you don’t want — possibly malware, although often simply bad software.

fake malware warning button

As you’ve no doubt spotted, this is a dirty trick. You can beat the scammers with this approach, however. Simply exercise caution when clicking links and buttons. Think twice and consider the following:

  • Is this a site you’ve used before?
  • Do you trust it?
  • Have you checked the browser status bar to confirm the link destination?
  • Does the button text and font match the rest of the site?

If you have doubts about any of these questions, then you should avoid the site, and certainly don’t download anything from it. Scammers can use all manner of coding tricks to entice you into making a dangerous mistake. Take your time and trust your instincts.

If you’re still not sure, check whether the site is considered trustworthy or not. Norton Safe Web, is a good option, although this is also a good reason to install an online security suite as many offer this functionality to your browser. Google also offers a Transparency Report for identifying bad websites.

2. Use a Secure Browser

An old copy of internet Explorer is just not good enough these days. Come to think of it, an old version of any browser cannot be considered secure. These apps are updated regularly by their developers for many reasons, mostly to maintain and improve security.

Online shopping, online banking, social networking — they all have their risks, and the last thing you want it a browser harboring some dangerous software that records your keystrokes or hijacks a secure link to your bank account.

Secure, modern browsers use HTTPS and check that certificates are legitimate. Old browsers will not. How secure you want to go depends on how concerned you are. We’d recommend you start with Google’s Chrome browser, Mozilla Firefox or Microsoft Edge, their secure replacement for internet Explorer. Want more help? Check this infographic about the most secure browsers.

You certainly should not be using Internet Explorer at all. This browser is broken and all-but-abandoned by Microsoft. Steer clear! Hackers still profit from targeting the browser, and you can do yourself a favor by choosing something else (something more secure, faster, and easier to use) to browse the web.

Even if you’re running Google Chrome on an old Windows XP PC (and you really shouldn’t be), you’re not secure because the underlying operating system is not secure enough to handle modern malicious software. Windows XP was launched in 2001.

3. Hang Up on Cold-Calling Tech Support Agents

These people are poison.

In the UK and North America, there has been an epidemic of scam telephone calls from people claiming to be from “Windows technical support” or some close variations. Before we continue, understand this:

Microsoft won’t call you out of the blue to fix your PC!

Variations on this are claims that the caller is from your ISP, or mobile phone provider. Their aim is to get you to find “proof” of an issue on your machine, then download a piece of software that affords the caller — who is a scam artist, pure and simple — control of your PC. From then on, they have the opportunity to install keyloggers, backdoors, and other tools that might be used to steal information from you.

Nice, eh? We’ve looked at the anatomy of a Windows tech support scam before, so check out that post if you want to be better prepared.

The defense here is to refuse to talk to anyone claiming to be from Microsoft. Just hang up. Certainly, don’t let them walk you through the “checks” and download the “fix”. And don’t keep them talking, as this doesn’t really seem to help (the idea is nice, keeping them away from other people, but in truth, there are so many of these scammers at work that it makes no difference). Also, they tend to become unreasonable, and make threats.

4. Ignore Security-Themed Pop-Up Adverts

This can be tricky to spot, as often pop-up adverts can appear from the bottom-right corner of your screen from any currently-running anti-virus software installed on your system. Frustratingly, this also happens with paid solutions, not just free ones.

If the pop-up seems to originate from your browser — you can check this by completely closing it — you should ignore this. In fact, any and all security messages that did not occur during a scan that you recently initiated should be ignored. For instance, your anti-virus software will have a “scan” button. Didn’t press it? Then ignore the message.

There’s a bad side to all of this, however. If you see anti-virus messages on your computer and haven’t installed any anti-virus software, then your system is infected. Time to take steps to remove the infection!

5. Avoid Public Torrent Sites

You may not realise this, but there are two types of torrent sites: public and private. While both can be accessed through a browser, the latter usually requires you to create an account and manage your ratio.

The idea here is that you upload as much (or more) than you download, or else be banned from the site. Private trackers can be difficult to join, as they don’t often accept new account registrations. It’s not too hard to find ones that are open, however.

And yes, it’s usually illegal, but there are many legitimate uses for Bittorrent.

With public torrent sites, you’re risking malware infections not just from the dodgy adverts, but also from the torrents being fake, or bundling worms, viruses, Trojans and other malicious software in with the file you think you’re downloading.

Yet another bittorent client

All torrent sites worth their salt offer a commenting system where other users can share their experiences of the downloaded file. Always check these before committing to a download.

6. Delete Media Files Requiring Fake Codecs

Media from torrent sites can often be fake, and you probably won’t know until it has downloaded. Usually a video file (but it might be audio or even a game), these fakes can be difficult to detect until they’re run.

At this point, your media player will display a message advising that the file cannot play or requires a specific player. So, did you download a genuine movie? The way to find out is to try and play it in the popular and feature-packed VLC Player. With every current video and audio codec built in, if the file won’t play with this, it’s not a genuine media file.

Delete it now. And stop downloading dodgy stuff!

7. Don’t Open Email Attachments Forwarded to You

Emails are a well-known attack vector for worms and viruses. Of my two virus infections, the first was a worm sent as an email attachment from my father. The executable file presented some pretty firework graphics on the monitor. This was the Happy99 worm, described as “the first modern worm” and “the first virus to spread rapidly by email”. One million people downloaded the subsequent fix, which removed the self-replicating malware.

While this worm is now virtually obsolete, other malware can spread via email. Then you’ve got the spoof emails, phishing attempts that try to either con you into entering your personal information on a fake website, or download a piece of malware (or both).

If you’re using a webmail solution such as Outlook.com or Gmail, you have an advantage over malicious attachments. For desktop email clients, make sure you take full advantage of the tools on offer. Don’t preview emails, and make sure you operate a white list of approved senders. Avoid opening emails sent to large groups of people, too.

While you might not want to install an antivirus tool, if you’re not using webmail, it’s a good ideal to use a paid email scanning tool.

8. Only Download Apps From Developers

As we’ve seen, download sites are a big pain. Tricky to navigate with fake “Download” links on them, it’s easy to be fooled into downloading something you don’t want.

That’s if you’re even on a reputable site. It gets trickier with the cynical sites serving malware-infested downloads. So if you’re downloading software that you want to use — perhaps free office software, audio editors, video editors, chat clients, or anything like that — head to the developer’s website.

This is almost certainly the only way you’ll get the most up-to-date version of the app in question, and the safest, too. If your operating system offers an app store (most do these days on desktop and mobile) then also check that for the app you want to use.

But forget about app download sites. They’ve had their day.

9. Don’t Use Your PC’s Admin Account

Whatever operating system you use, make sure you’re not logging in with the administrator account. Further, make sure your family members aren’t either. Sure, you’ll need an admin account for various tasks, but no one needs it to be their daily account.

Really, it’s asking for trouble, allowing software, malicious or otherwise, to make permanent changes to your computer.

Instead, create user accounts for yourself and family members. These accounts should feature limited privileges that protect the system from malicious software and over-enthusiastic clicking. With Windows 8 and later, admin accounts have been overhauled, so take a look at our guide. You should also look at our tips for managing Windows user accounts.

10. Scan All New Files and Disks

Finally, think about the devices you’re connecting to your PC. New data that you’ve downloaded, discs you’ve inserted, phones you’ve connected and flash storage devices you have inserted could all pose problems. If these devices are set to autorun when media is inserted, malware can quickly grab a foothold.

Kingston USB drive plugged into laptop

With anti-virus software installed, it’s possible to scan all files that you access via disk. You can also use online virus and malware scanners to check the files. Windows 8 and later will also allow you to prevent autorun, which can prove particularly useful.

As brave as it might be to run your PC without any antivirus software, in this day and age, with threats from keyloggers, backdoors and ransomware, it’s a good idea to use a full-blown security suite.

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Avoiding iPhone’s New Killer Text Message

Has your iPhone been freezing without a reason when receiving texts? Don’t worry, you’re not the only one – and it probably means someone is playing a prank on you.

YouTuber EverythingApplePro has stumbled upon a peculiar new bug in iOS 10 that allows pranksters to crash any iPhone and iPad by simply sending a short text message containing a flag and a rainbow emoji.

The glitch works in two different ways, both of which will freeze your device in varying degrees.

The first method involves a text string that contains a white flag emoji, a zero, a rainbow emoji as well as a hidden character called a variation selector, which can then be copied into iMessage and sent to anyone. The second way is to deliver the same faulty text string by embedding it within a contact’s card and using iCloud drive to share it via iMessage.

Although the former approach seems to affect only devices running iOS 10.1 and below, the latter method will crash all reiterations of iOS 10, including the latest version 10.2.

The bug was initially discovered by French iOS developer Vincent Desmurs, who suggests in his blog that Apple’s handling of the variation selector is to blame for the issue. As the coder explains, the buggy message tells your device to combine the white flag and the rainbow into a rainbow flag, but iOS ultimately crashes when it fails to process the request.

While Apple will likely release a fix in the coming few days, Desmurs has posted some tips on how to deal with the flaw for users experiencing continuous issues with their phones after receiving the text.

This isn’t the first time Apple has struggled with such glitches. Not too long ago, EverythignApplePro came across a similar bug in iOS that could freeze any iPhone and iPad by sending a short three-second video.

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