Category Archives: #Consumer Warning

Firefox: Prevent Unicode Phishing Attacks

IMPORTANT

This is concerning an extremely troubling phishing attack vector for the Firefox browser (Also impacts Chrome), which could leave you wide open to handing over login details to virtually any site, yes even those sites with the little green padlock (Which is supposed to be a sign of security).

The attack works by taking advantage of the unicode feature to display a false web address in tbe address bar, complete with working SSL certification. I won’t go in to further detail here, however you can read about it from the Wordfence Blog Entry, complete with an in-depth explanation.

The fix, for Firefox, is to set the variable network.IDN_show_punycode in Firefox about:config to True – setting this will reveal the real web address, instead of the phishing version for any domain.

The moral of this is not to hide the address bar and other bits of the browser which are slightly technical – this is a problem with technology which is wider than this specific example – programmers hide things, supposedly to make the experience more user-friendly – well, the world isn’t user friendly, and users should damn-well learn to deal with it!

Basic Windows Security

SecuritySome of the things I’m asked about constantly, being a general geek, and in the I.T. industry, are “What is the best anti-virus”, and “how do I get rid of spyware”, “how do I avoid it in the first place?”

In this article, I’ll outline the basics of security, both in terms of software to install, updates, home networks, and every day techniques to avoid any infections. This article isn’t intended to be a granular set of instructions, but is intended to guide you in the right direction – there are lots of in-depth articles covering all of the individual topics out there, Google is your friend 🙂

Software

Windows is the most targeted platform out there – Windows runs on most PCs, therefore it’s simply a larger target for the virus / spyware authors to attack – at the end of the day, it’s a numbers game. Windows also has a large number of vulnerabilities, which if left unpatched allow systems to be taken down easily.

Software – make it legit – any pirated software carries a high risk it has been compromised – this goes for the operating system, and every program you run.

P2P (Peer to Peer) – this is a tempting source of free stuff, however it’s also a massive vector for infection, as is the same for any streaming software – the moral of the story is that unless you’re 100% sure you can cope with the threats out there, stay legal and legit.

Defence software – As in Harry Potter, we all acknowledge there are Dark Arts, and we need a Defence against the Dark Arts class, i.e. Antivirus / Anti spyware. The good news here is that you don’t need to spend any money. For Windows 7, download and install MS Security Essentials. For Windows 8 and above, it’s built in – just go into your settings and turn it all on.

Before installing MS Security Essentials, or activating Windows Defender, be sure to deactivate and/or uninstall any other products which may be left on your systems, I’m talking about the Symantec / McAfee type anti-virus programs. Having more than one of these products, doing the same thing, at the same time, on the same system will result in the system slowing down and eventually breaking.

One of the worst things I find in performing maintenance on private PCs is the left over anti-virus products fighting it out for supremacy – when you buy a PC, often it is bundled with all kinds of ‘helpful’ software, and people will just give the authors money for renewals after the trial period, because changing products is seen as effort / work. Trust me, the free products out there do a damn fine job, don’t get ripped off with massive costs for anti-virus software when you don’t need to be. ALL Antivirus software will let threats through, none of them are infallible – it’s common sense precautions which are your true line of defence.

Shields up!

spybot

In addition to Antivirus, there is also Anti-spyware and Anti-malware which needs to be accounted for. Windows Defender and MS Security Essentials have the basics covered in this area, however you may wish to expand your level of protection a little. Again, you do NOT need to spend money on this! One of the best products out there, and one kick-arse line of defence is Spybot Search and Destroy, a free product which can perform an in-depth scan of your system, remove infections, and most importantly immunize against infections!

You can also splash some cash on Spybot, and others, such as MalwareBytes, however the free versions are usually enough to get the job done. The rule is don’t get infected to start with!

Network

Assuming that you’re not completely stupid, you’ve gone into your router, disabled the UPnP function, and changed some of the defaults over – such as setting a custom SSID, and changing the default passwords to something better! UPnP can hand over the keys to the inside of your network to any miscreant program which makes it past your shields. UPnP = BAD. Talk to your ISP if you’re unsure of how to turn off UPnP, or change the security defaults; or get a geeky mate round to have a fiddle. No, don’t ask me. 😉

Not changing the default details for connecting to your network / wifi / router is plainly stupid – anyone can get hold of these details, and get into your network, opening up inbound paths for further penetration. Remember, your PC holds the keys to your life, your bank, your e-mail, everything – keep it behind a nice big wall with spikes on – when configured correctly, your network is just that.

The Internet

We wouldn’t need half of the security out there if it weren’t for the Internet, without a network connection, unless you connect an infected device, your computer is an island, and quite secure by default, the minute you connect to the internet, you’d better be sure it’s protected to the max. Software, and network protection measures are only a small part of your solution. Believe it or not, common sense and avoiding the common vectors for infection play a bigger role than anything else. There are a few simple points to keep in mind:

  • Don’t use Internet Explorer, ever.
  • Use Chrome or Firefox.
  • Install an ad-blocker, such as adblock-plus – this will turn off one of the biggest potential vectors for infection.
  • Keep your software legit – pirated software is a massive and avoidable risk – these days there are many free alternatives to almost all paid software.
  • Only use trusted sites, rule is that if it sounds too good to be true, it is.
  • If you’re going to go hunting for porn, which a lot of people do, spend some money, use a legit site, and gain some small measure of protection.
  • Keep your software up to date, up to date software is patched to armour it against infection vectors.

Whilst this article won’t come close to covering off everything, it does cover the basics, and if you take care of the basics, you’re 99% sorted, the rest is a learning curve, and experience. The best defence against any security threat is you – don’t be an idiot, think before you click, read warning boxes and pages before you click / agree to stuff. Don’t be a sheep 🙂

TalkTalk: The Fibre Saga

TTFOfferWell… We recently decided to believe the advertising (Silly, I know), and upgrade our TalkTalk Broadband package to include the new ‘Fibre’ package, which claims to be 5x faster than the standard ADSL2 which we had.

Well… Fibre isn’t fibre, in this case it’s VDSL2, and whist there may be a fibre somewhere along the route, probably to a green box at the end of the street, there is no fibre to our house. Kind of misleading there, TalkTalk. To add insult to this, there is a £50 upgrade fee, now I’m not sure what this is covering… An Openreach engineer visiting the box at the end of the street and changing a cable over, or some other operation, OR the new ‘Super-Router’, either way the “Free” bit of the offer isn’t.

HG533So the upgrade went smoothly enough, the line speed is excellent, the VDSL2 speed is excellent and works as advertised (You can tell there’s a ‘but’ coming, right?)… BUT their ‘SuperRouter” isn’t super, well, apart from super-crap. Plugged this in ahead of the VDSL2 upgrade (Can’t really call it Fibre!), as it also functions fine on ADSL2… Problems:

To start with, it didn’t play with the rest of the network here, the rest of the network being 2 unmanaged gigabit switches, a wifi access point, and the usual devices. It wouldn’t connect using the existing cabling to the ‘core’ switch on the network, this being 30ft away along cat5e cable, the previous Netgear router connected just fine at 1gig. I actually had to go buy another unmanaged switch to sit next to this thing.

Secondly it has only 100mbs ports, not gigabit ports… Really I know, as this device sits on the periphery of the network, and isn’t in this case a core component, that it wouldn’t be too much of an issue – however it was a disappointment, especially when I knew the previous model given out by TalkTalk was a HG635 model, with gigabit ports. I really feel for those who use it as a network core without knowing how much it will knock their speed and capacity. Still, I tried to make it play nicely.

Daily reboots as it managed to kill the network, and I didn’t even give it any work to do, the work of the DHCP server and the Wifi access point already being handled flawlessly by the other devices on the network, ALL it had to do was provide an interweb connection via NAT. Somehow it managed to kill the network daily, and had to be rebooted before anything else would work.

It took me a week of the super-shit performance, and settling for a second (?) best device, plus reading countless horror stories of this device before getting to the point of spending money on another router. I didn’t even bother to contact TalkTalk, as most, if not all, of the horror stories make it perfectly clear that the only thing it would do is raise my blood-pressure.

D7000Enter the Netgear Nighthawk D7000 – I paid £130 for this router, and I have to say worth every single penny, and a lot more (In fact, upon checking, it’s now £170!). The D7000 is an amazing device, boot it up, connect with the details on a small sticker, and run through a connection wizard which asks what ISP you have, and it just works, perfectly.

There are ample configuration options, and of course the usual ones need to be changed from their defaults, including the wifi access point ssids, passwords etc. There are options to lock down the network with MAC filtering, the various encryption options etc. The router has gigabit ports and a USB3 socket if you wish to share a storage device with your network. Also, unlike the ‘SuperRouter’, it communicated just fine with the rest of the network, at gigabit speeds, and doesn’t need a switch of it’s own lol… The uptime is awesome, not a single reboot has been required in a month, and the rest of the network is rock steady.

The D7000 also boasts Quality Of Service features, both for ports, and devices. With the ports option, you can chose from a large list of predefined services, or input your own; the device options will allow you to set one of four priorities for the traffic – importantly both sets of rules can be live and functional at the same time.

The Wifi is excellent delivering on 2.4 and 5ghz, with separate IDs and passwords per network, both for a ‘core’ network and a ‘guest’ network. The device has three aerials, and it is capable of ‘beam forming’ where by it just doesn’t transmit blindly in a dome, but is able to focus the signals to the devices physical locations, which seems to work very well, for me at least. AND it looks like a space-ship 😉

Overall the TalkTalk ISP is great, IF all you want is a broadband wire – it is truly unlimited, the speed is excellent, we’re getting what we pay for. Don’t believe the hype of their ‘SuperRouter’, it’s anything but super. Do go buy a Netgear D7000, it’s worth every penny.

// EDIT

TalkTalk came back to me on Twitter today, no offer of an apology, no offer of a refund for supplying a piss poor device, only an offer to tell the team LMAO! This is the reason I didn’t contact them in the first place, would’ve been bashing my head against a wall by now!

Love the bit where they call the device ‘free’, bet you one way or another, we end up paying for it!

Don’t let me put you off TalkTalk as an ISP, they have a brilliant wire service, just supply shockingly bad devices, and don’t really do customer services, in my opinion…

#fail

image

Have I Been Pwned?

Pwned

You know, we all rely on our e-mail accounts for a host of other systems, and a compromised e-mail account could realistically hand over your entire life to a hacker.

Put it this way – in this age, your e-mail account is the keyring to your life; look after it well, and don’t let it fall into the wrong hands!

I became aware of have i been pwned? recently, and have taken some time out to vet the addresses and domains I use against the pwned lists – fortunately I’m safe, however I know of a few who haven’t been so lucky.

Either way, go visit have i been pwned? now, and make sure. If any of your accounts have since been compromised, you can take some remedial action and get ’em under control quickly enough.

As a general rule of security, always use a two step verification process, most of the bigger providers offer this now, Google and Facebook to name two. And don’t use stupid password, OK? 🙂

Logitech Z533 2.1 Speaker System – Sleep problem solved!

Z533-1These Logitech Z533 Speakers are fantasic, got them on offer for £60 from PC world… One of the shop-peons kindly allowed me to plug in and have a demo, and from a minute of killing all conversation in the shop with some tastful music at volume, I was hooked and had to have ’em.

Installed and at home in their native environment, they’re even better, the sound from these 2.1 is crystal clear over the frequency range, and I can now take full advantage of the highest quality DSP I own at the moment, built into my PC Soundcard. However, there is a commonly reported issue / problem with these speakers, which is largly made up, from lack of understanding…

Sleep. These speakers, like cats, like to sleep; see, they’re smart, not just regular speakers, but smart speakers. When they don’t detect enough signal on input, they turn off. This is a good thing.

The way people tend to use PC speakers is to set the volume knob on the speakers at a standard level, and then use the PC volume control to vary the actual sound produced, with dumb speakers it works fine. These speakers need a minimum level of signal coming into them to realise they’re needed and stay awake, without this, like cats, they sleep.

The trick is to turn up the PC volume level (After all, in most instances, the PC-Out is designed for headphones, it’s not a line-out), and turn down the speaker’s control knob a little; it won’t hurt the amp on the sound-card to do a little extra work… Only increase the actual volume knob if you want loud, which the Z533 handles with the ease of a jet fighter thundering through the sound-barrier. 🙂

End of the line statement about these speakers: Super-Awesome, but don’t be an idiot when using ’em.

IKEA, a piss poor experience – no fucks given…

IKEAIKEA… It’s like Marmite, either love it or hate it, there is no middle of the road here – but either way IKEA is a necessary evil of the world, like Argos, and sometimes there’s no other way.

We’ve used IKEA (The Cardiff Store) many times over the years, and had varying degrees of service from the staff, but this latest visit has been the worst yet, and I sincerely hope that IKEA will not be a part of my future for as long as I can foresee. Normally when visiting IKEA, you can actually get away without interacting with the staff, completely if you use the self-service tills, but sometimes there is no avoiding the ordeal…

Counting the problems (Circles of Hell)…

First problem: Lack of staff – they’re like rocking-horse-shit, and when you do find one, they’re either in the wrong department, or some fucking idiot is taking up their time with pointless questions.

Second problem: When you do find an IKEA Peon, and they’re busy with an idiot asking idiot questions, there is no way they can call another peon over to save half hour of your life. No way at all, no fucks given.

Third problem: Some products, seemingly at random, don’t have an isle location, but have to be ordered via the IKEA Peons – no way to avoid them. Why?!

Fourth problem: They don’t give a fuck. That’s right, no fucks given in IKEA. How do I register for IKEA Family to get a discount – use that orange machine over there, no other help, no fucks given

Fifth problem: Orange machine is broken, not printing out… go find the peon, tell them, they reply “Go use another one”… Not the slightest sign of the peon moving to put a an “Out Of Order” sign on the machine, no fuck all. Roll on all the other poor bastards wasting their time. No fucks given.

Sixth problem: Broken discount system at the tills. Have to call a senior peon who can’t do anything, passing to yet another more senior peon – the senior peon takes an age to get the order processed.

Seventh problem (Read: “Gate of Hell”, but slightly less pleasant): After half hour waiting for my order to be picked, I’m still waiting.

Eighth problem (Read: “Wonder of IKEA-HELL”): After a half hour wait for the products to be picked, and a complaint to the senior-senior peon, they still can’t find my shit, the shit I’ve paid for, it’s mine, give it to me.

Ninth problem: (There are more circles of IKEA-HELL than any other hell): NO Offer of anything when complaining, no apology, no compensation for my wasted life-time they’d just used up being useless, NOTHING… IKEA: No Fucks Given.

… Just as a point, the above article details my own true-to-life experience, and my own opinions – don’t on any account be put off IKEA by the above review – google it for yourself 🙂

Sexist supermarkets in the UK, Lacking Customer Service!

SupermarketsDear Supermarkets, mainly Asda, Tesco, and Sainsburys.

Why are you so sexist towards men?

I’m a man. Yes, it’s true. It’s also true that I like to buy clothes, and shoes. Going naked is frowned upon.

For years now Supermarkets have done a decent job for women in the UK, the ranges are always expanding, and what’s more all the sizes are there – no longer do you find discrimination against the larger female form, in most cases. The clothes, shoes, boots and slipper ranges are phenomenal, amazing even.

Men. You hate us, right? In most cases, if we’re lucky, there are 10 to 15 styles of shoes, as opposed to perhaps 100 to 200 for the female ranges. Do you all think we don’t need shoes, that we’re all centaurs and have hooves instead? I really can’t think why you don’t want the business of half the population, it baffles me. Really.

The discrimination doesn’t end there, the general clothing range for men is abysmal, for every ten rows of female clothing, there are, if we’re lucky, two for men. I’m really fed up of seeing this blatant disregard for me as a customer in all the stores.

DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Correct this situation today, it’s not too late, please.

And on to the second topic from the taglineWHAT customer services!?

Every time I go to customer services, I’m treated like a moron, generally made to wait in a growing queue, because perhaps there is one under paid staffer on the counter, and they’re expected to cope on their own with the lottery, cigarettes and so called customer services.

So… Assuming that I haven’t given up the will to live, even from a distance, looking at the pathetic lone example of a store-peon behind the counter, and make it there… THEY CAN’T BLOODY DO ANYTHING. That’s right – their existence is pointless unless for the most basic of requests. They can’t take feedback, they can’t take suggestions and pass them along, they can’t do anything – the point of contact for customer-feedback is null and void.

Examples I hear you ask? Well here is a personal experiance, #Tesco and #Sainsburys in this example:

Cat food. I own cats, a few… I buy cat food, the own brand tins with gravy. This is always, and I mean always understocked, in whatever supermarket I’m in. I clear the shelves on a regular basis – I’m talking 120 tins a month here. I WANT to give you people money, but I can’t as you never have enough stock.

… So I brave the queue to the pathetic peon staffer (Sorry, not your personal fault) to complain about the consistent lack of stock… And, guess what!? They can’t do anything! One time I even got the ‘Dried Goods Manager’ (Good title, right, the title implies authority) – WHO CAN’T DO ANYTHING. That’s right folks, the manager of the department can’t do anything. “Fill in this form”, “Write to head office”, we can’t possibly take your query after you’ve just wasted yet another valuable portion of your life away queueing here waiting to speak to someone in authority, no way can we help you.

WHAT’S THE POINT of having someone there if they can’t do anything? Where is the feedback channel, where is the friendly face of customer service, how can we help you improve if you do not listen, if you treat us like cattle, and take us for granted?

Do you not realise that if I can’t get this one important item in store, I won’t visit your store, you won’t get the golden foot-fall, I won’t spend any money in your store, I’ll go elsewhere, where they give a damn, listen and supply me with what I actually want. Silly people. Just one example. I have many more examples, however I fear that the feeble flesh glued by nature onto my bones can’t withstand so much pounding away at the keyboard if I were to list them all.

Respond to this article, #Sainsburys, #Asda, #Tesco, #Morrisons – show me you listen, and further do something about the blatant sexist attitude towards men, and the lack of regard for your customers. Show me you can be better, I dare you.

UK Government Morons and Pointless Taxes!

The Guardian - More Sugar Tax proposed!

The Guardian – More Sugar Tax proposed!

The current bunch of Tory wankers in power have bowed to the wishes of non-thinking-tabloid-press twatbags, introducing a fucking sugar tax. S U G A R tax… Now I understand the intentions behind this are basically to reduce sugar intake for the general public, but tax is the wrong way to do it. Wrong. Plain and simply wrong. Why?

  • Tax is their answer to everything, and it’s a lazy one.
  • Tax doesn’t help, people will just spend more.
  • If Tax is so bloody effective, why are there still smokers in the UK, or drinkers for that matter?
  • Tax just hurts people, reduces their liberties and opportunities.
  • Tax hits the less well off sectors of society disproportionately hard.
  • Tax just doesn’t effect the rich.

What would work? What are the alternatives to punitive financial measures applied in an idiot-blanket fashion? How about the following, for starters

  • Education for the public, not boring government documentary films, but programs outlining and exposing the amount of sugar in many supposedly healthy foods.
  • Ad admission that they were wrong about ‘diet’ foods where the fat has just been replaced with sugar.
  • Legislation for food manufacturers to stop using sugar wherever possible, putting back in the fat and alternative sweeteners.
  • Legislation for the food manufacturers to reduce size (AND Price!) for chocolate / candy bars / sweets.
  • Graphic advertising of what just a few hundred extra calories per day can do to you.

TAX is just lazy, the laziest way of getting around a perceived problem without effort of thought, an ineffective solution, proven by studies in Mexico where it has had an impact of just 6 calories per day!

TAX… In the UK this is simply laughable, around 22% of my salary is already taken as tax, with what’s left I have to pay yet more tax – Council Tax, Vehicle Tax, VAT, and Fuel Duty… Plus there are probably more I’m still blissfully unaware of. And now SUGAR fucking tax – pretty soon we’ll all just be working for the government, as there won’t be any money left from our pay after tax, we might as well be working in a communist state soon.

I’m one of the lucky ones in this case, I’m off sugar for health reasons, my eyes were opened a long time ago to dangers of this substance, and whilst I still enjoy the odd treat here and there, I won’t really feel the impact personally. That doesn’t make this right though. The people need to speak up, to make the government understand that we’re not all morons, we know what we’re doing, and if we don’t, education is the key, not more bloody tax.

#Tesco #Annoying #crap

article-2281448-1784A919000005DC-517_634x413Today I posted a complaint to #Tesco on their Facebook page, it got deleted because it contained the word #crap. So, in this instance #Tesco have chosen to ignore their customer and instead chosen to become the language police.

So I, for one, won’t be using them, they will not receive any more of my money.

The original complaint was that their customer services and cigarette counter wasn’t open before 08:00 in the morning, something I could honestly live with, even though it’s annoying. What I can’t live with is their “head in the sand” attitude and pompous behaviour – those are unacceptable.

I realise I’m only one voice, and that they won’t care to lose my custom, but it will make me feel better; I will not be owned by the anger. #ThereIsNoSpoon

Love #Sainsburys #Lidl #Asda #Aldi – you all have better customer services, and will receive my money instead of Tesco, who shall now be known as TheScum.

Also loving the fact that during a random image search for TheScum, the one I clicked on linked to this article, on the Daily Mail website.

mailonline

BBC: Promoting violence and death.

BBCIt looks like the BBC has once again chosen to support violence, death and suffering with it’s continued support of religion, not even paying attention to it’s own survey of the views of the licence fee paying public.

It amazes me why society at large is still pandering to religious idiots, devoting public resources to them, and giving them tax exemptions.  By all means let them fuck off to a quiet corner of the universe and worship their imaginary sky-fairies, but don’t foster it on all of us!

It’s very annoying when I have to turn off the radio at least twice a day, when some jumped up arse-hole who thinks they’re better than the rest of us (because of their imaginary sky fairy), comes on and tries to tell us how to conduct our lives, how to adhere to their fucking twisted morals.  I mean ANY religious arse is an accomplice to mass murder, suffering, terrorism, child abuse and genocide, how fucking dare they, even for a second, think they’re better than cockroaches.

10475514_700097060064782_28342048734165353_nPut on a more simplistic level, the Nazis are universally despised for their persecution and attempt at world domination through violence, intimidation and attempted genocide… we all accept that, right?  The fucking christians (For example) did exactly the same fucking thing, yet they and their sycophant followers to this day proclaim innocence…  Fucking priceless.  They should be removed from planet Earth, they are a chronic disease.  Coming back to the point, yes, the BBC, which we pay for, gives these disease filled pustules air-time, and that is a bad thing.  Not that I even care to disagree with them – they’re simply wrong in every imaginable sense of the word.

http://www.secularism.org.uk/news/2015/08/bbc-trust–religious-radio-programmes-are-least-popular-and-least-well-received–but-we-wont-change-them

… And a parting thought:

einstein-hitler-atheism-quotes

 

CONSUMER WARNING #118118 – BAD BAD BAD

Just a warning to those of you who may have forgotten how rotten these private 192 ripoff bastards are:

I made ONE call last week, which lasted ONE minute, for a number I already had – only called on the off-chance they had another. FUCKING FIVE POUNDS SIXTY EIGHT PENCE, yes, £5.68 for ONE FUCKING MINUTE on the phone to these bastards!

DON’T DO IT, whatever number you’re looking for, it’s not worth giving these bastard-scum-vermin £5.68!

Gourmet Society – STAY WELL CLEAR

I was ALMOST duped into taking out a membership for the Gourmet Society today, a nice offer came through for a year membership at 30 quid.

Very glad I Googled the shit of the potential rip-off-merchants. Just go have a read on the This Is Money Blog.

The Society try to get you to join BEFORE you know how many restaurants (Which you’d actually dine in) are in your area. As it turns out there are insufficient numbers to make it anywhere near worthwhile in Wales; and to boot the offers are (According to the reviews) never as good as the advertisement makes out.

So… If you do see an offer for these people – make sure you find out the facts before giving them your hard earned cash!