BY THE PC TECHNICIANS 15 MAY 2017
On Friday May 12th, the headlines were all about how the NHS had been hit by a severe cyber-attack.
The attack was related to a strain of ransomware called 'Wana Decrypt0r 2.0'. As the news unfolded, reports revealed it hadn’t just been the NHS that had been hit other organisations around the world had also fallen to the attack too.
Ransomware is a piece of malicious code that encrypts your personal data on your computer and then only gives you the decryption key in exchange for currency. Once the ransom has been paid, the keys are supplied to decrypt your data.
But the question that many people are asking is ‘how did this spread to so many systems and countries so quickly?’
Some reports suggest that the victims received a phishing email that included an attachment or link that then downloaded ransomware and impacted the Windows operating system.
Once the malware is on a Windows computer system, it will attempt to propagate to other Windows machines on the same local network. Organisations with weakened controls or unpatched systems will be the worse impacted.
How can you protect your system?
All users running older Windows versions should ensure they have installed the latest updates from Microsoft. These updates can prevent known viruses from infecting a device.
Be vigilant in relation to email and not opening any links or downloading attachments in emails from unfamiliar or possibly suspicious sources.
An up-to-date anti-virus programme should also be in place – this can stop ransomware from being downloaded.
Important data should be backed up. An external hard drive is probably the best way as it doesn’t need to be connected to the internet.
BY THE PC TECHNICIANS 22 MAR 2017
There are several steps you can take to diagnose and even fix broadband problems yourself.
1. Restart your equipment
Switch off your router for 30 seconds, then switch it back on. Shut down the device you are trying to connect to the Internet with (PC, Mac, smartphone or tablet) and switch it back on again.
2. Check your Wi-Fi connection
Check that the wireless icon on your device is showing a connection. If the connection is present but weak, or if it regularly drops out, try moving your device closer to the router.
3. Check for a fault on the line
If the first steps don’t solve the problem, it may be a fault with your telephone line. Checking for a fault on your line is not complicated at all simply:
A. Locate the BT master socket. This will be the first socket as the line enters your home from outside. Detach the faceplate by unscrewing the screws.
B. If you have a one-port socket (with a single port on the faceplate for both broadband and telephone connections), another socket is revealed behind the faceplate. Connect your phone directly to it using the same wire that you would use to connect to the master socket.
C. If you have a two-port socket (with separate ports on the faceplate for broadband and telephone connections) you will have to unscrew the faceplate and then gently pull on the plastic filter section that lies underneath to remove it. This will expose the rear test socket for you to connect your phone.
D. If there is no dial tone, contact your telephone provider.
E. If there is a dial tone, dial 1707 and select option 2 from the menu. This is the Quiet Line Test.
F. The line should be quiet. If you hear noise like crackling, popping or humming, note the time when you conducted the test.
G. Repeat the Quiet Line Test several times, noting the results. If you keep hearing noise on the line, report the problem to your telephone provider.
4. Disconnect anything new
If you have recently connected any new devices to your phone line (such as a new phone handset or a burglar alarm) try removing the new device from the line and see if this rectifies your connection issues. Unless you have a two-port master socket for broadband and phone, everything you attach to your phone line needs to be connected using a micro filter.
5. Check your speed
If you’re experiencing broadband performance problems you can check your speed using an online tool. Using an Ethernet cable connect a computer to your broadband router.
BY PC TECHNICIANS 22 MAR 2017
Google has released the first developer preview of Android O, the next version of the mobile operating system for compatible Pixel and Nexus devices. Although a lot of Android users are yet to receive the Nougat update, the excitement about Android O has already started with rumours about its features:
1. Adaptive Icons: Developers will be able to create icons that will have different shapes for different devices. For example, a Twitter app icon may have a square shape on a Google Pixel XL but a circular shape when it is displayed on a Samsung Galaxy S8. Google says that with Android O, each device can provide a mask for that icon, which the OS can use to render all icons with the same shape.
2. Background Limits: Automatic limits on what an app can do while they are in the background will be introduced. These limits will be based on three criteria: implicit broadcasts, background services and location updates.
3. Notifications: The new notification reorganisation will allow users to only see those notifications which they prefer based on categories like social, travel, utilities, entertainment and amongst others.
4. Picture in Picture: A feature taken from the Android TV, Android O video apps will be able to put themselves into a Picture in Picture mode so a video can still play even if the user switches to a different app. It is similar to what YouTube offers when you press the back button while you watch a video.
5. Multi Display Support: This is more app-based that will allow developers to launch an activity on a remote display.
6. Smart Selection: This would integrate with Google Assistant to scan app text, pre-emptively highlighting important information (like telephone numbers and addresses) for more easy copy-and-pasting between apps and text entry fields.
There are plenty of other rumoured features too including keyboard navigation, improved Wi-Fi, autofill and wide-gamut colour for apps. The final version of Android O will be released later in the year, most likely debuting on Google’s new Pixel phone for 2017.
All of this shows that Google is serious about making Android work better on Chromebooks. As yet we are still waiting for the current version of Android Nougat to become available on Chrome OS.
Google is yet to reveal the full name for Android O, but most bets are on the biscuit brand Oreo.