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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

NSA malware on over 50,000 computers

Posted by David Bernstein

We all know how big of a problem malware is these days with cyber criminals trying to steal your personal information. And one would think the government is trying to prevent these types of cyber attacks from happening so we can have some sort of peace of mind when it comes to our home computer.

But now there is a new report that the NSA has infected over 50,000 computers with their own malware designed to collect information that can be used for their own purposes… whatever that may be. According to the report the malware was put into systems belonging to telecommunications providers and other companies around the world and sits there unnoticed until it needs to come to life and do its thing. When it’s activated it collects the data its needs and sends it off to the NSA.

Since malware spreads itself to other computers one would think that it may make it onto computers that were not intentionally meant as targets. It would also seem possible that outside agencies or hackers could tap into the data or take advantage of the malware and use it for their own criminal activities.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Windows 7 retail sales have ended

Posted by David Bernstein

If you are looking to upgrade the version of Windows running on your computer to Windows 7 or are looking to build your own Windows 7 computer then you better get your hands on a copy of Windows 7 before they become extinct. Microsoft has announced that they have discontinued distributing retail copies of Windows 7 to retailers in October of this year.

For now there are still many companies like Amazon that have inventory left so you are not completely out of luck. And if you want an OEM version then they will still be available. The good news is that PC manufacturers will still be able to sell new computers with Windows 7 installed since there has not been a cutoff date announced for that yet. And companies with volume licensing agreements will still be able to do new Windows 7 installations.

Some people believe that Microsoft is doing this to try and boot (or force) the sales of Windows 8 to people in need of an operating system upgrade. Windows 8 accounts for around 9% of market share while Windows 7 stands at around 46% and Windows XP is still at 31%. If you are worried about support then you still have some time because mainstream Windows 7 support will end in January 2015 while extended support will expire in January 2020.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Not even your video games are safe from prying eyes

Posted by Jim Bernstein

With all the recent NSA and Edward Snowden news about government spying one would wonder what you can and can’t do in the world of electronics that is safe from "the man". We already know that phone calls and emails are subject to surveillance but it doesn’t end there.

If you are an online video game player then you know how easy it is to hide behind you character and pretend to be something you are not. Most gamers assume that the huge axe wielding character is really a 13 year old boy anyway. But what are the odds that your online fighting buddy is really a terrorist trying to recruit others via a video game?

Now it seems that the US and British governments are spying on our online video games as well with their own characters. Online games such as World of Warcraft and some Microsoft games have been infiltrated with spies trying to gather information on potentially dangerous real life people. The report states that the meeting places and private chat rooms are perfect places for people to plot their real life attacks. Microsoft and World of Warcraft maker Blizzard Entertainment released statements saying they didn’t know of any spies snooping in their online environments. Supposedly there has been a lot of information gathered but who knows for sure if its really useful or helpful.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Next generation USB is faster and the connector fits both ways

Posted by David Bernstein

If you have ever plugged in a USB device (and who hasn’t), you must have at some time fumbled with plugging it in the right direction since the connections look pretty much the same on both sides. But don’t count on using it with existing USB pugs because it won’t fit because it will be smaller than today’s USB plugs and closer to Micro USB size.

There is going to be a complete redesign of the USB Type-C connector for USB 3.1 devices. The new connector will also be able to distribute power to devices without the need for a separate connection like you see in many dual USB devices. The specifications for USB 3.1 include a 10 Gbps data speed which is twice that of USB 3. This will come in handy for today’s HD video playing and large file transfers.

Expect there to be adapters to be able to connect between the cable types. The specifications of the USB 3.1 are expected to be finalized by Summer 2014 so don’t plan on seeing any USB 3.1 devices or cables until after that.