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15 May 2017 - Bitdefender response : Bitdefender Prevents WannaCry Ransomware Attacks

Bitdefender’s next gen machine learning provides zero day protection from WannaCry ransomware attacks

#DontNeedtoCry - On May 12th, the WannaCryptor (WannaCry) ransomware family infected thousands of computers across the world. In just 24 hours, the number of infections has spiked to 185,000 machines in more than 100 countries.

The attack is particularly dangerous for businesses because it takes just one employee to become infected for the attack to spread in the entire network, and sometimes even across countries to other subsidiaries, without any user interaction. This happens because the ransomware has a worm component that leverages a recently discovered vulnerability, affecting a wide range of Windows operating systems, including 2008, 2008 R2, 7, 7 SP1.

The attacks have caused major disruption to hospitals, telecom companies or gas and utilities plants. Among the organizations that took the worst hits is the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK.

Why is this attack particularly dangerous among traditional ransomware attacks?

WannaCry automated the exploitation of a vulnerability which is present in most versions of Windows allowing a remote attacker to run code on the vulnerable computer and use that code to plant ransomware without any human and local action. This never before seen behaviour makes it the perfect tool to attack specific environments or infrastructures, such as servers running a vulnerable version of the Server Message Block (SMB protocol).

Customers running Bitdefender are not affected by this attack wave.

Our next-generation machine-learning and memory introspection technologies ensure that our customers have always been safe from WannaCry, the world’s most aggressive piece of ransomware, AND will be similarly protected from the next such attack.

Endpoints running Bitdefender GravityZone are protected from hour zero against this attack wave and they are not affected by this new family of ransomware as our products detect and intercept both the delivery mechanism and all variations of the WannaCry ransomware known to date. Bitdefender Machine Learning models, available in all editions of Bitdefender GravityZone, are designed specifically to catch never before seen attacks at pre-execution stage.

Moreover, Bitdefender’s newly introduced Hypervisor Introspection solution was able to prevent exploits of the EternalBlue vulnerability from hour zero as well, before it was patched by Microsoft. The solution is capable of detecting memory violations in the raw memory stack, without knowing the vulnerability beforehand, and can therefore effectively prevent the attack.

We encourage you to stay tuned and test our new technologies and innovations like Hypervisor Introspection. We are constantly innovating to keep our customers safe!

Thank you for trusting and promoting Bitdefender solutions!

Bitdefender Team

14 May 2017 - NHS ransomware hack and the failure of the public sector

On Friday a significant portion of the NHS was hit by a ransomware attack that crippled systems and encrypted data. It looks like patient data remains safe, presumably due to backups, but they estimate it will be a number of days until the systems are fully restored.

The details of this attack are interesting. The Windows flaw this attack exploits was fixed by Microsoft on March 14th this year. All updated machines were therefore immune to this attack.

The reason sections of the NHS were hit so badly is that they, unbelievably, were still using Windows XP to run critical systems. Windows XP is now 15 years old and all support ended in 2014. There have been no XP fixes issued for 3 years!

It is quite frankly a shocking lack of competence for the NHS to be in this position, one would hope that heads would roll for this but as it is the public sector I don’t have much faith in that.

This cloud, however, may have a silver lining. For years the private sector has dealt with these attacks with little or no help from the government/police/security services. Perhaps now they will start to take some action?

12 May 2017 - HP laptops secretly recording user keystrokes

HP laptops ship with unintentional keylogger installed.

Swiss cybersecurity group, Modzero, have discovered a preinstalled app on some HP laptop machines is logging every key the user presses, including to enter passphrases for online banking and email accounts.

The researchers complained that they first reported the issue to HP on 28 April, but decided to publish their security advisory yesterday because HP had failed to respond to them.

 

Full article @ Sky News

10 May 2017 - Microsoft out of band patch hits the day before Patch Tuesday

Microsoft rushed to patch a serious vulnerability affecting Windows 8, 8.1 and 10 on Monday.

Even with Patch Tuesday less than 24 hours away, Microsoft didn't wait to patch a dangerous Windows remote code execution flaw that was discovered by Google's Project Zero just days earlier.

Microsoft released the out of band patch Monday evening and revealed the issue (CVE-2017-0290) was in the Microsoft Malware Protection Engine and enables attackers to perform remote code execution (RCE) or trigger a denial of service attack through type confusion and application crashes.

 

Full article at TechTarget Searchsecurity microsite

03 May 2017 - IBM sends malware-infected USB sticks to customers

In a recent support alert issued by IBM, the company admitted it accidentally shipped USB drives infected with malware to some customers.

It's a shocking lapse in quality control but unfortunately not the first time this has happened.

 

Full article @ Techrepublic

28 Apr 2017 - Microsoft urges Windows 10 users NOT to manually install the Creators Update

Microsoft has warned Windows 10 users not to download and install the Creators Update manually, but to wait until the operating system itself is ready to install on their PCs.

Despite the Insiders Program helping to prepare the Update, removing bugs before they reach a supposedly stable version of Windows 10, it appears that early adopters are having various problems with driver compatibility.

Full article @ Computing.co.uk

25 Apr 2017 - Online shoppers losing trust in e-commerce

Users are losing trust in the internet, at least when it comes to online shopping and e-commerce. According to the results of a survey, released on Monday, 49% of people said they are increasingly concerned about their privacy online, and lack of trust is the main issue keeping them from shopping online.

Full article @ Online shoppers losing trust in e-commerce

25 Apr 2017 - Save time with the Function Keys!

We have all seen function keys before. They are those keys marked F1 to F12 on our computer keyboards. Most of us rarely use these keys when at the computer, but knowing how to use them can be really helpful.

Function keys can save you a lot of time if you know how to use them properly.

F1 : Open Help Screen for almost every program

F2 : Rename file or folder

F3 : Open Search in current application

F4 : Alt-F4 closes current window

F5 : Refresh or Reload page or document

F6 : Moves cursor to the address bar in most internet browsers

F7 : Spell/Grammar check in MS Word

F8 : Access Boot Menu when starting your PC

F9 : Refresh Doc in MS Word. Send/Receive in MS Outlook

F10 : Activates menu bar of open application. Shift + F10 opens right click menu

F11 : Toggle full-screen mode in Internet Browsers

F12 : Open Save dialog in MS Word

18 Apr 2017 - Shadow Brokers' hacking group release NSA Windows spy tools, Microsoft responds

On Friday, hacker group Shadow Brokers released a new trove of alleged surveillance tools and exploits from the National Security Agency's elite hacking team. The tools were designed to target Windows PCs and servers.

You can check the full article @ ZDNet

 

Microsoft responded in a blog post and listed the majority of the exploits already addressed in previous patches however 3 exploits remained but could not be reproduced.

The caveat in that response is that only Windows 7 and onward, Exchange 2010 and onward were tested. Older versions are no longer supported.

 

The important lesson to take away from this is to make sure both your software and the security patches are fully up to date. Running legacy software which is no longer supported is a risk.

 

Full article @ TechRepublic

14 Apr 2017 - Important Information : Windows 10 Creators Update (v1703) & Bitdefender Users

As with previous Windows 10 updates it is advised to uninstall Bitdefender prior to updating windows, then reinstall it after the update has completed.

If Windows is updated whilst Bitdefender is installed you may not be able to browse the internet once the update is completed.

If you have already updated Windows and are now not able to browse the internet, please uninstall Bitdefender, reboot then reinstall Bitdefender.

14 Apr 2017 - 10 tips to make you a Microsoft Excel power user

Excel has been an enterprise mainstay for years, with Microsoft recently increasing its workplace appeal by adding collaboration tools and notifications, among other features. While the spreadsheet program is popular, many users do not know how to take advantage of the plethora of features it offers.

 

Here are 10 popular TechRepublic articles with tips for becoming a Microsoft Excel power user and getting the most out of the program.

 

Full article @ TechRepublic

14 Apr 2017 - Windows 10: Chrome vs Firefox vs Edge. Which wins Microsoft's battery-life test?

Microsoft says dialing back Adobe Flash in Edge in the Windows 10 Creators Update has made it the most energy-efficient browser of all.

Microsoft says a PC running its Edge browser will last 77 percent longer than Firefox, and 35 percent longer than Chrome.

To prove its point, Microsoft has once again employed a time-lapse video of three unplugged Surface Books side by side streaming video for several hours with Chrome, Edge, and Firefox.

The Surface running Edge lasts 12 hours and 31 minutes, while the Chrome device peters out after nine hours and 17 minutes, with the Firefox unit lasting seven hours and four minutes.

 

Full article @ ZDNet.com

13 Apr 2017 - iOS malware spreads to Android

Pegasus malware expands from iOS to Android

One of the more malicious iOS threats -- Pegasus malware -- has made its way to Android devices and it has some dangerous new tricks in its arsenal.

 

Full article @ Techtarget

11 Apr 2017 - Botnet dismantled after kingpin arrest

The US has led the takedown of the international botnet Kelihos after the arrest in Spain of the Russian Kingpin believed to have operated the botnet since 2010.

The botnet of tens of thousands of infected computers allegedly under the control of Russian Pyotr Levashov was used for malicious activities, including harvesting log-in credentials, distributing hundreds of millions of spam emails and installing ransomware and other malicious software.

 

Full article @ ComputerWeekly.com

11 Apr 2017 - Wonga data breach could affect 250,000 customers

A data breach at Wonga that exposed customers personal and banking details could affect up to 250,000 people.

The firm, which said it knew something had happened by Tuesday but did not become aware of a data breach until Friday and began notifying customers on Saturday through email and text.

 

Full article @ Telegraph website

23 Feb 2017 - AMD take aim at Intel with faster cheaper processors

AMD's top-of-the-range Ryzen 7 promises better performance at half the price of rival Intel chips.

Ryzen 7 1800X nine per cent faster than Intel's Core i7 6900K - at less than half the price.

 

Full article @ AMD's Ryzen 7 to beat Intel Core i7

22 Feb 2017 - EU still unhappy with Microsoft over Windows 10 privacy

EU watchdogs say Windows 10 is still a major privacy concern.

Microsoft made some attempts to clarify its data collection policies in Windows 10, but some EU watchdogs said that it isn't enough.

Full article @ EU Windows 10 Privacy concerns

 

Worried about Windows 10 snooping? Here's a handy article showing how you can stop it :-

Full article @ Stop Windows 10 Snooping

16 Jan 2017 - Exploring the next Windows 10 major update

Windows 10 will soon be getting a new look and feel, courtesy of the forthcoming Creators Update.

The extent of those tweaks is starting to become apparent from the early builds of Windows released under the Insider program.

Updates include :-

  • Start Menu Folders
  • Web Notes
  • Flash Blocking
  • Microsoft Wallet
  • Edge Improvements
  • Windows Themes
  • Cortana

More details @ TechRepublic

05 Jan 2017 - Microsoft warn about Cerber Ransomware

Microsoft have published an excellent article warning about the dangers of the Cerber ransomware and also dissecting it in great detail to show how you get infected, how it works and what mitigations you can take.

Check out the full article at Microsoft Technet Malware Protection Centre

23 Dec 2016 - Microsoft anounce Vista, Small Business Server 2008 & Windows Server 2008 end of life in 2017

Microsoft announces end of life for the following products in 2017 :-

  • Windows Vista
  • Windows Server 2008
  • Windows Small Business Server (SBS) 2008

End of life means no more on-going support, security patches or OS fixes will be provided by Microsoft.

If you are still using any of the above products, now would be an idea time to consider your migration or replacement options.

18 Dec 2016 - Yahoo announces largest data breach in history. 1bn accounts accessed

Yahoo has admitted that it was hit with the world's largest ever cyber attack involving a breach of customer data. The historic hack, which occurred in 2013, could have resulted in the company losing the personal details and passwords of one billion accounts, it admitted.

Full article @ The Telegraph

01 Dec 2016 - National Lottery hacked, thousands of details leaked

National Lottery operator Camelot says the log-in details of thousands of people who do the lottery online have been stolen.

The online log-in details of National Lottery players have been hacked, but no money has been stolen, according to National Lottery operator Camelot.

 

Full article @ Computer Weekly

23 Nov 2016 - Locky ransomware being spread via Facebook Messenger

Facebook Messenger is being used by spammers to spread Locky ransomware.

The attack methodology was discovered by malware researcher Bart Blaze, and has been acknowledged by Facebook. It uses Facebook Messenger to spread a malware downloader called Nemucod that takes the form of an .SVG image file.

 

Locky is a strain of Dridex banking malware. Earlier this year a Locky attack hit a hospital in the US, which had to pay $17,000 in bitcoin to decrypt important data.

As with other ransomware, once activated Locky encrypts files including images, videos, source code and Office files on the infected machine and connected local networks before issuing a ransom demand for payment in bitcoin for them to be decrypted. In this case payment is requested via a site on the "dark web".

 

Full article @ Computing

18 Nov 2016 - Three Hacked. Data of 6m customers at risk

UK telco Three has been hacked, with up to six million customers' data sets now understood to be under threat.

Three confirmed the breach on Thursday, revealing that hackers used an employee log-in to gain entry into its database of customers eligible for a phone upgrade.

 

Full article @ Computing

03 Oct 2016 - Amended office hours - 03/10/16-07/10/16

The office will be closed from midday Monday 3rd Oct and will reopen in the afternoon of Friday 7th October.

Telephone and remote support will be available as normal for all support clients.

01 Oct 2016 - Yahoo hack, 500 million accounts stolen

Yahoo confirmed on Thursday data "associated with at least 500 million user accounts" have been stolen in what may be one of the largest cybersecurity breaches ever. The company said it believes a "state-sponsored actor" was behind the data breach, meaning an individual acting on behalf of a government. The breach is said to have occurred in late 2014.

More details @ CNN

The hack leaked user account details (e-mail addresses and passwords), and reiterates the need for the end user to take some basic security measures to reduce their risk exposure when these hacks inevitably occur.

  1. Do NOT use the same password on multiple accounts. Each account should have its own password. In the event of a hack, their access will be limited to that one account.
  2. Use a password generator to create different random complex passwords for each of your online accounts. E.g. passwordsgenerator.net
  3. Use a password manager to help you record and remember your complex passwords. Eg. Roboform or Lastpass

29 Sep 2016 - Windows 10 Upgrades/Updaes and Bitdefender Endpoint Security

To any of our clients planning on upgrading from Win 7/8.1 to 10 or running Windows 10 and about to install the anniversary update (version 1607).

If you currently use the Bitdefender Endpoint Security anti-malware solution, we've identified an issue where the user is unable to access the internet with any browser after the upgrade/update has occurred. Your local network is unaffected.

This seems to be related to the Bitdefender firewall module. A simple solution is to uninstall Bitdefender prior to the upgrade/update then reinstall after.

If you have already upgraded/updated and have lost internet access simply uninstall Bitdefender, reboot and reinstall.

31 Aug 2016 - Ransomware: The smart person's guide

One of our clients was recently hit by ransomware. They unfortunately opened an attachment in a fake e-mail because they "thought" they recognised the source (upon closer inspection this wasn't actually the case).

The attachment contained malicious code that encrypted all documents and pictures on the hard drive before placing a ransom notice on the desktop. Although we were able to recover a small number of files, the vast majority were lost as no backups existed.

Ransomware is a real threat. The #1 solution to this threat is user education. Although we've repeated this many times, never ever EVER open e-mail attachments unless you are expecting them and you can verify the source.

Make sure you are doing backups and that they are up to date.

Check the Techrepublic website for a good guide to Ransomware here

23 Aug 2016 - Windows 10 Anniversary Update kills some webcams.

Windows 10 Anniversary Update kills webcams, no fix until September.

The issue renders USB webcams and network-connected webcams inoperable in programs like Skype. Built-in webcams for laptops don't seem to be affected.

The reason for this behaviour seems to rest in the changes that were made to how the OS access the camera in the Anniversary update. Before the update, only one application could access the camera at a time. With the Anniversary update, also known as version 1607, a new service called the Windows Camera Frame Server allows for multiple connections at once, and that's causing some problems.

Full article @ TechRepublic

18 Jul 2016 - Windows 10 Anniversary Update Coming 2nd August

Microsoft is marking the first birthday of Windows 10 by giving the OS a major upgrade.

The Windows 10 Anniversary Update will add a variety of features to the OS, as well as extending and fixing what's already there.

Updates and fixes include the Start menu, Edge Browser, Taskbar, Lockscreen, Cortana and many more.

Full article @ TechRepublic

11 Jul 2016 - Malware infects 10 million mostly-Chinese Android devices

A new malware called HummingBad, associated with Chinese cyber criminals Yingmob, has infected millions of devices and brings in millions of dollars of fake ad revenue.

Full article at TechRepublic

04 Jul 2016 - Huge increase in Zepto encrypting ransomware

Security researchers have raised concerns that attackers are gearing up for a massive Locky-related ransomware campaign.

Ransomware locks up your critical data and demands payment to release. It continues to increase in popularity with cyber criminals, and a fresh campaign is underway, warn researchers.

Zepto has a professional build and there is still no known method of decrypting the information.

As always ensure you have up-to-date backups and never click on e-mail attachments unless you know and trust the source (even then you should be careful).

 

Full article @ ComputerWeekly

14 Jun 2016 - EU fires antitrust salvo at Google

European Commission formally objects to Google's Android dominance. Pre-installing Google Search and Play on devices is anti-competitive and limits consumer choice, claims EC.

 

Full article @ Computer Weekly

10 May 2016 - Amended office opening hours 12/05/16 - 16/05/16

The office will be closed from midday Thursday 12th May and will reopen in the afternoon of Monday 16th May.

Telephone and remote support will be available as normal for all support clients.

09 May 2016 - Microsoft automatic update strips features from Windows 10 Pro

Microsoft strips features from Windows 10 Pro to stop admins blocking Windows Store access.

Microsoft has come under fire for making changes to Windows 10 Professional seemingly intended to strong-arm businesses - especially small businesses - into spending more to acquire a Windows 10 Enterprise licence.

It follows a string of updates to Windows 10 Professional - under Windows 10, updates are automatically applied - that has stripped a number of enterprise-grade features from the operating system.

Full article @ Computing website.

23 Apr 2016 - China shuts down Apple services. Relations deteriorate

China bans Apple services in latest blow to US tech industry.

While Beijing has largely left Apple alone in the aftermath of the Snowdon US surveillance disclosures, their relations are beginning to deteriorate.

A report by The New York Times on Friday said that the Chinese government had shut down Apple's iBooks Store and iTunes Movies, six months after their debut.

Full article @ ZDNet

18 Apr 2016 - Web host 123-reg deletes sites in clean-up error

Web hosting firm 123-reg has accidentally deleted an unspecified number of its customers' websites.

Oops

More details @ BBC

17 Apr 2016 - Windows users advised to urgently remove Apple's Quicktime

Apple will no longer be providing security updates for QuickTime for Windows, leaving this software vulnerable to exploitation and The Zero Day Initiative has issued advisories for two vulnerabilities found in QuickTime for Windows.

Windows systems running QuickTime are exposed to elevated cybersecurity dangers, such as increased risks of malicious attacks or electronic data loss. Exploitation of QuickTime for Windows vulnerabilities could allow remote attackers to take control of affected systems.

QuickTime is now obsolete, our advice is to remove QuickTime immediately from all machines. If you have iTunes installed you may have QuickTime installed without your knowledge.

Check your installed programs list by visiting Control Panel -> Programs and Features.

Full advisory @ US Government CERT website

07 Apr 2016 - Extended support for SQL Server 2005 ends on April 12, 2016

The end of support for SQL Server 2005 is April 12, 2016. Customers are encouraged to migrate to SQL Server 2014, or SQL Server 2016, which is coming soon and which offers faster analytics, unique hybrid capabilities, industry leading security and much, much more.

 

More details @ Microsoft website.

29 Mar 2016 - Ad Networks serving Malware on popular sites

MalwarebytesLABS reported in February that several major ad networks have been serving up malware disguised as advertisements on popular sites like BBC, NYTimes, MSN and TheWeatherNetwork:

This was then followed in March by another report of rogue ads displayed on the DailyMail site, but thankfully there is a way to counter the danger posed by compromised Ad networks. Roll out the Ad-Blockers!

Read the Malwarebytes reports here:-

MalwareBytes Malvertising Report

MalwareBytes UK Report

Trend Micro Malvertising Report

25 Mar 2016 - Modified Stagefright could put Android users at risk

Researchers have developed a Stagefright based exploit that could mean hundreds of millions of Android devices are at risk despite mitigations and an available patch.

A new proof-of-concept Stagefright exploit called Metaphor has been created and could mean that hundreds of millions of Android devices are in danger of a drive-by download attack.

This is as yet a proof of concept and has not been seen in the wild because the Metaphor attack code must be tailored to work on a specific model of Android hardware. This would mean making a universal exploit is less likely, but not technically impossible.

Full detail @ TechTarget

25 Mar 2016 - Apple zero-day vulnerability fully compromises your devices

A zero-day vulnerability discovered within Apple's OS X operating system allows hackers to exploit key protection features and steal sensitive data from devices.

Full Article @ ZDNet

25 Mar 2016 - SMEs complain of unwanted Windows 10 upgrades

As Microsoft continues to push Windows 7 and 8.1 users to upgrade, tech support firms report a rising number of complaints from small businesses that have inadvertently made the switch.

SME's need to evaluate their move to Windows 10. If not possible then implement blocking strategies.

Full article @ TechRepublic

09 Mar 2016 - Microsoft's March Patch Tuesday addresses Windows 10, IE & Edge vulnerabilities

Microsoft released its March 2016 Patch Tuesday fixes today, which included 13 bulletins, five of which are rated critical.

Top priority for patching should go to MS16-023, the standard cumulative Internet Explorer (IE) patch bulletin, and MS16-024 which covers patches for the newer Microsoft Edge browser.

Other patches cover Windows elevation of privilege flaws, font handling flaws and critical bulletins resolving RCE vulnerabilities.

08 Mar 2016 - Revive Windows 10 with System Image Recovery

Your hard disk just went belly up, but all is not lost. Armed with a recent system image and the System Image Recovery tool, you'll be back in business before you know it.

For this type of backup to be truly effective, you need to regularly create new system images so that you'll have a recent version of your system if you need to recover it.

 

Full Article @Techrepublic

07 Mar 2016 - Apple users targeted by ransomware

A virus is encrypting files on some Mac computers until users pay £280 for access, in the first such infection on Apple devices.

A virus which locks computer users out of their files until they pay a ransom has started targeting Apple devices for the first time.

Hackers have infected a number of Macs with "KeRanger" malware which demands owners pay one bitcoin (about £280) for their files to be unencrypted.

 

Full article @ Sky News

03 Mar 2016 - Reset your Windows 10 system with the Keep My Files option

If your Windows 10 system goes awry, it's good to know that you have tools to help revive it--without losing any data.

Microsoft went to every effort to ensure that Windows 10 is a solid OS, but you still might encounter a situation that causes your system to become unstable. You could suffer a nasty virus infection, install an incompatible software application, or possibly even install a rickety device driver. Whatever the cause, Windows 10's Recovery Drive tool can help you revive an unstable system without losing your data.

Full Article @ TechRepublic

03 Mar 2016 - Windows 10 Business adoption outstrips Windows 8

Windows 10 is being adopted by business at nearly twice the rate of Windows 8.

Microsoft's latest OS is proving more attractive to firms than Windows 8 - particularly among larger businesses.

Businesses are proving far more willing to experiment with Windows 10 than they were with Windows 8.

Full article @

14 Jan 2016 - Microsoft ends support for Windows 8, IE 8, 9 & 10

Microsoft kicks off 2016 by ending support for Windows 8 & IE 8,9 & 10.

All Windows 8 users should by now have upgraded to Windows 8.1.

All windows 7, 8.1 and 10 users should have upgraded to IE11

Of course Windows 7, & 8.1 users can, optionally, also take advantage of the free upgrade to Windows 10.

If you need any further advice on this please get in touch.

14 Dec 2015 - Office 2016 released. Important info before you upgrade.

Microsoft have release Office 2016, however there is an important compatibility issue users need to consider before purchasing.

Office 2016 no longer supports Exchange 2007, this also includes Microsoft Small Business Server 2008 (which runs Exchange 2007).

If you wish to use Office 2016 you will need to migrate to a later version of Exchange (2010 / 2013) or a later version of SBS (2011).

If you need further details or advice please get in touch.

21 Nov 2015 - 5 Performance Benchmarking Apps

Fancy yourself as a DIY gaming PC builder? If you do you 'll need to benchmark your creation to see just what a beast you've built.

Check out these 5 benchmarking apps..

 

Article @ TechRepublic

10 Nov 2015 - Microsoft U-Turn over unlimited OneDrive Storage

Microsoft have ditched their unlimited OneDrive storage plans for Office365 users and also reduced the allowance for free users.

This has been in response to a small number of users abusing the unlimited backup facility by backing up multiple PCs and storing entire movie collections. In some instances this exceeded 75Tb (75,000Gb!!)

 

Full article @ Microsoft News

07 Nov 2015 - Surface Book: Microsoft just made the PC cool again

Microsoft's latest Surface Pro 4 and the flagship Surface Book offer impressive performance without sacrificing style or that illusive awe factor typically missing from PCs in general.

A hybrid device that attempts (successfully) to give the user a fully fledged PC experience in a pseudo-tablet form factor.

 

Check our the full article @ TechRepublic

31 Oct 2015 - The 18 scariest computer viruses of all time. Happy Halloween

Getting into the Halloween spirit, here's a run down of the top 18 scariest virus of all time.

 

Enjoy :-)

 

Full list @ Techrepublic

19 Oct 2015 - 5 Reasons To Buy The Microsoft Lumia 950 XL

The top-end Lumia's have always had an exceptional hardware specification, but could Microsoft's latest flagship be the phone that finally lures you away from your Apple / Android?

 

Full article @ Forbes

17 Sep 2015 - Windows 10 upgrades

As you are probably aware, Microsoft released its newest Windows version "Windows 10" about a month ago. As an early adopter we have been putting Windows 10 through its paces and have so far been impressed. The launch went pretty smoothly and Windows 10 has already been installed on millions of machines.

Microsoft have departed from their usual business model with Windows 10 and are instead offering it as a free upgrade for the majority of Windows 7 & Windows 8 users.

Home users and business users without a Microsoft server will receive the update notification automatically via the "Get Windows 10" app, however this upgrade method is NOT available if you are a business user with a windows server (a.k.a. Domain joined).

Domain joined machines must be manually updated via a downloadable DVD image.

If you wish to take advantage of Windows 10 please get in touch to arrange an assessment. We can then validate your machines to see if a windows 10 upgrade is available, do a single machine test upgrade to ensure any third party business systems you are using are fully compatible then finally upgrade the remainder of your machines.

02 Aug 2015 - Windows 10 is here. What SMB's need to know..

From upgrade expirations to free updates, Windows 10 big changes for the OS.

Here's a quick run down of the top 10 points to know.

 

Top 10 article @ TechRepublic

18 Jul 2015 - Latest Patch Tuesday is last for Windows Server 2003

Microsoft delivered a 14 fixes labeled critical or important to seal vulnerabilities in the desktop and server versions of Windows, Internet Explorer and Office. But the asterisk to these releases is that they are the last that will be offered for Windows Server 2003.

 

Full article @ TechTarget

16 Jul 2015 - Google, Mozilla disable Flash over security concerns

Users of web browsers Chrome (Google) and FireFox (Mozilla) were temporarily unable to view Adobe Flash content on sites on Tuesday amid growing concerns over the serious security holes within Adobe's product.

The just 2 days after Facebook's top security executive, Alex Stamos, publicly called for Adobe to discontinue Flash.

Flash has long been used by website builders to show animated or rich content but has recently been superseded by HTML5.

Flash has had a chequered past, although widely used it has been beset with both security and performance issues.

 

More details @ MarketWatch

01 Jun 2015 - Windows 10 to be released early on July 29th

Microsoft have brought forward their release date for Windows 10 by 2 months to July 29th.

The majority of Windows 7 & 8.1 users will be offered a free upgrade.

More details @ c-net

21 Apr 2015 - Google under fire by the EU

Google is accused of abusing it's market dominance by the EU with Android also facing anti-trust investigation.

 

More details @

Computing

17 Mar 2015 - Xiaomi Smart-Phone preloaded with malware

Security Affairs reports that security firm Bluebox has discovered that the Xiaomi Mi 4 smartphone comes with preinstalled malware including a Trojan

 

Full article @ SecurityAffairs.com

 

With the rise of cheaper Chinese smart-phones, the distribution channel is becoming ever more important. This case shows just when can happen when you buy from an unauthorised dealer.

30 Jan 2015 - MS releases Office for Android

Microsoft gets a step closer to Office everywhere with Office on Android.

 

All the major Microsoft productivity apps are available for all the major OSes.

 

Microsoft this week released Outlook apps for Apple iOS and Google Android devices and removed the preview label from Office for Android. For the first time, the company's primary end-user applications -- Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook -- are now available on all three major operating systems: Windows, iOS and Android.

12 Jan 2015 - Windows Server 2003 End Of Support Looms

If your business runs on Windows 2003 Servers, security updates, fixes, and online technical assistance end on July 14, 2015. And as the clock ticks down, the necessity to migrate Windows Server 2012 increases.

If you would like to discuss your options please call us, we're happy to help.

20 Nov 2014 - BitDefender Partnership

BitDefender Partnership

We're please to announce a strategic partnership with Bitdefender allowing up to specialise in their impressive range of security products for both business and home.

Bitdefender have consistently scored at or near top in the independent AV tests and their client is lightweight enough not to impact on performance.

We believe that BitDefender currently offer one of the best suit of security products on the market and so we will be migrating all of our existing clients on the BitDefender platform as and when their current AV renewals are due.

 

If you would like to discuss any of the BitDefender range of prodcuts please give us a call.

 

More details @ BitDefender UK Website

01 Oct 2014 - Shellshock Bash bug hits Apple Macs

Apple have had to issue a security update for its Mac OS X operating system to protect users from the newly reported Shellshock Bash bug affecting all Unix-based computers.

Software Updates have been issued for OS X Mavericks, Mountain Lion and Lion.

Researches at security firm FireEye have observed a "significant amount of overtly malicious traffic" using Bash.

 

Full Article @ ComputerWeekly

05 Oct 2014 - iWorm malware hits Apple Macs

As predicted as their market share increases, the Apple platform is becoming more appealing to malware writers.

iWorm is described as "a complex multi-purpose backdoor" and certainly looks fairly sophisticated.

Coming so quickly after the OSX Shellshock Bash bug, perhaps this will once and for all dispel the myth banded around by Apple followers that Macs don't get viruses!

 

Full Article @ appleinsider

20 Aug 2014 - Summer Holiday Office Closure

The office will be closed from Monday Sept 1st - Wednesday Sept 17th for a late summer holiday.

As usual all e-mails will be collected and responded to the same day.

All support customers, if you need to contact us your primary method should be by e-mail. If that is not possible please use the alternate contact arrangements you have received.

If you have any outstanding issues or tasks you would like completed please bring these to our attention ASAP.

06 Aug 2014 - Russian hackers steal over a billion usernames and passwords

Russian hackers have attacked over 500m e-mail addresses and stolen over a billion usernames and passwords.

 

Full article @ Computerweekly.com

 

If you notice any suspicious e-mail activity such as a large volume of non-delivery reports to e-mails you have not sent, or you have recently been hit by a virus we strongly suggest you change your e-mail passwords or contact us if your hosting is with us.

01 Jul 2014 - Facebook under fire over secret experiment on users

Facebook has come under fire for conducting a psychology experiment on 689,000 users without their consent.

Cornell University and the University of California were involved in the experiment conducted one week in 2012 in which Facebook filtered users' newsfeeds to study the effects on users' emotions.

 

Full article at

ComputerWeekly.com

 

Our Comment:-

How much do you pay to use Facebook?

£0??

Well stop complaining then!!

01 Jul 2014 - BT sorry after broadband customers hit by mystery outage

Thousands of BT customers across the country were left without internet access on the morning of Saturday 28 June after a mystery "network incident" brought down its service in many parts of the country.

BT provides broadband service to around seven million subscribers in the UK, but it was unclear how many of those were hit.

 

Read full article @

04 May 2014 - Micorosoft Issue fix to serious IE flaw and include XP users too!

Thought XP support had ended? Well so did the rest of us! But apparently this IE flaw was so bad Microsoft decided that on just this one occasion they would make the fix available to all users including those still running XP!

We highly recommend you install this update

More details @ GeeksAreSexy

Microsoft Statement @ Microsoft TechNet

29 Apr 2014 - Microsoft warns of new zero-day Internet Explorer flaw

Microsoft has issued a security warning about a zero-day vulnerability in its Internet Explorer browser, which attackers could exploit to gain the same user rights as the current user.

Microsoft reported at the weekend that it is aware of limited, targeted attacks that attempt to exploit the vulnerability found in Internet Explorer (IE) versions 6 to 11.

Full Article @ ComputerWeekly

27 Apr 2014 - Is Windows XP is a much greater risk than Heartbleed?

An interesting article over at Techrepublic.

Heartbleed has dominated headlines for over week, but that one vulnerability pales in comparison to the threat from hundreds of millions of Windows XP systems.

All machines are vulnerable to so called "zero day" risks these are security holes that are discovered and exploited immediately before security companies and Microsoft have a chance to react.

They have a point. Microsoft will no longer be reacting to any faults, flaws or holes found in XP, so the next big one that's found has the change to cause serious disruption to the millions of XP systems still in use out there.

It's difficult to justify sticking with XP. Windows 7 & 8 are both excellent OS's.

If you are still running XP and would like to investigate upgrading please let us know.

08 Apr 2014 - XP/Office 2003 support ended.

Today (April 8th) marks the cessation by Microsoft, of support for Windows XP and Office 2003.

There will be no more fixes or security patched issues, leaving these products open to potential future attack.

We strongly recommend that any clients still using these products either look at replacing them or carefully consider locking them down.

If you need any assistance or advice, we're here to help!

08 Mar 2014 - Update your business before Windows XP support ends in 30 days!

Only 30 days to go... until Windows XP and Office 2003 support ends!

With only 30 days left until Windows XP and Office 2003 support ends, it is essential that you understand the risk if you don't take action shortly. On the 8th April, Microsoft will end support for the decade-old Windows XP OS. This means you will no longer receive updates, including security updates for Windows XP and Office 2003. These are vital to prevent the security issues related to running unsupported software.

We don't want you or your business to get left behind or be exposed to severe security and compliance issues,

By upgrading to the latest Windows 8.1 and Office 2013 or 365 software, you can enrich your business and personal life and achieve business success like hundreds of other small business owners today. so make sure you understand the value of the update and take action.

More details @ Microsoft

23 Feb 2014 - Apple announces (quietly) Major Security Bug in latest iOS

Apple acknowledged a major security flaw in it's iOS operating system which powers its range of PCs, Tablets and Smartphones. There is also a possibility that their Mac range of desktop computers may also be affected.

However their announcement last Friday (21st) was so low-key you will almost certainly have missed it.

The security flaw is about as bad as it can get for a mobile OS, making the devices particularly vulnerable when connected to an unsecure public Wi-Fi hotspot.

Full article @ Slate

Follow-up commentary @ Slate

22 Feb 2014 - Adobe releases 2nd critical security Flash Player fix in 3 weeks

Adobe has released the second critical security update for its Flash Player plug-in in less than three weeks.

The latest update addresses a zero-day exploit reported by security firm FireEye that targeted visitors of at least three non-profit websites.

FireEye said the Peterson Institute for International Economics, the American Research Center in Egypt and the Smith Richardson Foundation were all compromised using remote code injection.

Traffic to these sites was redirected to a server that contained a hidden iframe running the exploit.

The security firm's researchers said the attacks may be related to a May 2012 campaign outlined by ShadowServer, based on consistencies in tradecraft, attack infrastructure and malware configuration.

FireEye said they believe those responsible for the attacks have sufficient resources, such as zero-day exploits, and are committed to infecting those visiting foreign and public policy websites.

"The threat actors likely sought to infect users to these sites for follow-on data theft, including information related to defense and public policy matters," FireEye said in a blog post.

In a security bulletin, Adobe said the updates address vulnerabilities that could potentially allow an attacker to take control of the affected system.

19 Feb 2014 - 7 new domain names now available to all customers

Today we can announce the availability of 7 new domain names:-

  • .technology
  • .construction
  • .contractors
  • .directory
  • .kitchen
  • .lan
  • .today

You may already have a .com or a .co.uk, but if you have a website that relates to one of the above sectors, then having one of these domain extensions could benefit you.

If you are interested in acquiring one of these names, please give us a call.

18 Feb 2014 - Windows Easy Transfer Tool

Thinking of replacing your old XP or Vista machine with a Windows 8 one? Microsoft provide a free tool called Windows Easy Transfer (WET) which eases this process. WET will transfer your files and some settings from your old PC to your new one via either a network connection or external HDD.

There are plenty of online guides showing you step by step what you need to know such as these...

TechRepublic

BleepingComputer

There is however 1 important 'gotcha'.

If you are migrating to Windows 8 from either Windows XP or Windows Vista, you must use the Windows Easy Transfer tool BEFORE you install the Windows 8.1 upgrade.

Installing the Windows 8.1 upgrade also upgrades the WET tool to the latest version which no longer supports XP & Vista migrations (only migrations from Windows 7 are supported).

07 Feb 2014 - Windows XP & Office 2003 support ends in 60 days

Did you know that support for Windows XP and Office 2003 ends in just 2 months?

On the 8th of April this year, Microsoft will end support for these old products, so if you are running Windows XP or Office 2003 you will need to take action now to ensure you avoid exposing your business to potential security and compliance risks.

Don't put it off and risk missing this date, think about your action plan today and join the other businesses benefiting from the latest new features of our new innovative technology.

If you would like to discuss your upgrade options please give us a call.

30 Jan 2014 - LogMeIn Free Discontinued

From Feb 06 2014 LogMeIn are discontinuing their free product. Users wishing to continue to use the service will have to pay a yearly fee starting at approx. $50 (discounted) for the first year and rising to approx. $100 after that.

In the past we have recommended LogMeIn primarily because it was a free service, however users may now wish to look elsewhere.

There are alternative free solutions such as TeamViewer, VNC etc.

There is a good breakdown of free remote access offerings here

08 Jan 2014 - Intel phases out McAfee brand

Intel has announced that, as it introduces new security products, it will replace the McAfee brand with that of 'Intel Security'.

 

The red shield logo will remain to represent the core values of security and protection, Intel said, while the re-branding is set to begin immediately. Intel said it expects to complete the re-branding exercise within a year.

08 Jan 2014 - Windows XP End Of Life Looms

The Windows XP end-of-life date, April 8, 2014, is fast approaching.

Even though it is more than 12 years old, Windows XP remains the second most popular installed version of Windows after Windows 7, running on 31% of all PCs, according to NetMarketShare.com. Many organizations never bothered to upgrade from XP to Vista due to the latter's poor reception. This led to a number of customized enterprise applications becoming even more entrenched in the XP environment. As more time and resources were invested in XP, the case for upgrading became far less compelling.

However, despite its popularity, Microsoft is ending support for Windows XP on April 8, 2014. There will be no more Windows XP security patches, no more automatic updates and no new support information. Research suggests that Windows XP is 21 times more likely to be infected by malware than Windows 8 and, although machines running XP after April will start and run as usual, the chances of infection could jump by two-thirds (based on malware infection rates in the two years after Windows XP Service Pack 2 went out of support).

Our advice? Begin working your migration strategy now if you haven't already. Don't be forced to react in a panic once the reality of unsupported software has already disrupted enterprise operations.

30 Nov 2013 - Microsoft issues warning of zero day XP bug

Microsoft has issued a warning about a bug in Windows XP and Server 2003 which is being actively exploited by cyber-thieves.

 

Microsoft have issued an advisory Microsoft Security Advisory (2914486) containing an immediate workaround whist it works on addressing the issue. However the workaround involves turning off some services and will break TAPI, RAS & VPNs.

 

Once again Windows has been targeted via an insecure third party application. In this case various versions of Adobe Reader.

Full details @ FireEye

26 Nov 2013 - Free Winter IT Audit

Winter is upon us and until the end of February 2014 we are offering a free IT audit for your office or business.

 

We will audit your IT infrastructure, identify your current and future needs and produce a machine by machine report for you with our recommendations and advice. All with absolutely no obligation whatsoever!

09 Nov 2013 - Microsoft warns of security flaw in key software products

Microsoft has warned that hackers could exploit a zero-day vulnerability in the graphics component of several key products to gain control of users' computers.

The vulnerable component is found in Microsoft Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Microsoft Office 2003-2010 and Microsoft Lync.

The flaw lies in the handling of the Tagged Image File Format (TIFF) image files by the graphics processing component in the affected software.

In a security advisory, Microsoft has made available a Fit It Tool as a temporary measure, which the company is urging at-risk users to install.

27 Oct 2013 - Contact form issue resolved

An error with our website contact form which prevented users from validating and submitting the form has now been resolved.

We apologise to anyone who has experienced difficulties with this.

20 Oct 2013 - Apple slashes iPhone 5C production amid poor sales

Reports from China claim Apple have slashed production of the iPhone 5C due to dismal sales.

This was entirely predictable.

It's difficult to understand Apple's thought processes around the 5C. It needed to produce a cheaper phone to allow it to penetrate the Asian markets, the 5C was announced, it looked cheaper, felt cheaper but they didn't drop the price.

 

Full article @ pocket-lint.com

20 Oct 2013 - Windows 8.1 update publically available

Microsoft's update to Windows 8 is now available to download from the Store.

Windows 8.1 offers some significant enhancements particularly for desktop users to address their usability concerns.

 

We recommend all windows 8 users install this update.

 

For install details and whats new with 8.1 checkout this Techrepublic article.

17 Oct 2013 - D-link begin fixing router backdoor

Networking equipment company D-Link has begun releasing security patches to close the backdoor discovered on some of its routers.

Security researcher Craig Heffner reversed engineered publicly available d-link router firmware for the DIR-100 revA model, his investigations discovered a backdoor where any browser that connected to the router with a specially crafted User-Agent String would get immediate access to the administration page bypassing the usual username/password controls.

The User-Agent string was : xmlset_roodkcableoj28840ybtide which when written backward contains : edit by 04882 joel backdoor !

A quick check discovered at least a further 11 routers possibly affected and although most of these are consumer (home) grade many will be used by small and medium businesses representing a significant risk to their networks.

D-Link recommends all users check for firmware updates on the D-link site and upgrade if available.

 

Full article @ Computer Weekly

 

Craig Heffner blog post (highly technical)

11 Oct 2013 - More woes for Apple's flagship iPhone 5S

Hot on the heels of the embarrassing lock screen security bug found within 24 hours of release of iOS7, reports are now emerging of iPhone 5S's crashing with their very own Blue Screen Of Death (BSOD).

 

It would seem that Apple are learning the meaning of schadenfreude...

 

Full details @ The Telegraph

07 Oct 2013 - Get ready for your upgrade to Windows 8.1

Microsoft Windows 8.1 is set to be released in October 2013.

 

If you already have a Windows 8 computer, you will be able to upgrade to 8.1 for free. We have used the 8.1 preview and think if you are already using Windows 8, the free upgrade to 8.1 is a no-brainer - you want it!

 

If you are using Windows 7 on a computer without a touchscreen, there is really no compelling reason to upgrade now. However, when buying or building a new PC, there is also no compelling reason not to install Windows 8.1 instead of Windows 7. Despite what you may have heard, once you reach the Windows 8 Desktop, there is really not much difference from a user perspective between 7 and 8.

23 Sep 2013 - Blackberry sold for $4.7bn

As we predicted only yesterday, Blackberry has been sold to a Canadian consortium for $4.7bn ($9 a share).

 

Full details @ ZDNet

22 Sep 2013 - More woes for Blackberry

Faced with anticipated losses of $1bn Blackberry are cutting 4,500 jobs (40% of its entire worlwide workforce).

In our opinion the outlook for Blackberry looks grim. We anticipate it will go into liquidation within 6 months unless it's bought out by a 3rd party (as Microsoft has done with Nokia)

More details @ BBC News website

20 Sep 2013 - Embarrassing security flaw surfaces in iOS7 within just 24 hours

Apple's 'more secure' iOS7 upgrade has an embarrassing security flaw discovered within just 24 hours of it's release.

The bug allows anyone to unlock an iPhone bypassing the lock screen security and allowing full access to the phones content.

Videos showing the bug in action have already appeared in YouTube.

18 Sep 2013 - Latest iPhones underwhelm

Apple's latest iPhone releases have been met a rather muted response by IT industry insiders. Traditionally the driver of design and innovation, Apple's last few releases have been less about innovation and more about playing catch up.

 

The iPhone5 was a belated and half-arsed attempt to address Samsung's Galaxy 3, HTC One X & Galaxy Note but just simply didn't go far enough. The new iPhone5S is chasing the Galaxy S4 and the iPhone5C is cloning the Nokia Lumias, but with a price tag that is still far too high.

 

There are a few items to note. The iPhone5S now carries the 64-bit A7 processor but analysts already doubt this will have much effect on the immediate phone market. Applications are still only 32bit and one of the main benefits of 64 bit technology (being able to address more than 4gb of RAM) are a long way off being met/needed in phones. To counter, Samsung have already announced their next iteration of the Galaxy will also be 64-bit.

 

The iPhone 5S on-board fingerprint scanner has also raised some privacy and security concerns, particularly with Apple's track record (see Siri Spies on you)

 

Android still has the lion's share of the phone market outselling iOS by over 4:1. Meanwhile Windows Phone also continues to grow, particularly in the business sector, and could find fresh impetus now that Microsoft is acquiring Nokia's handset business.

 

More details @ Techrepublic

17 Sep 2013 - New eCommerce customer breaks 1 Million hits in first month!

So big congratulations go to our new customer Pretty Pink Productions for the success of their new eCommerce site Pretty Pink Princess.

 

Amazingly in the first full month of operation they surpassed over 1 million hits thanks to some celebrity endorsements and a feature on the Daily Mail Online fashion pages.

 

Thankfully we have plenty of spare hosting capacity to cope with these intense spikes in traffic and our active management made sure this site remained available during these peaks!

18 Aug 2013 - Microsoft and Google in spat over Windows Phone 8 YouTube app

Google has blocked users of Microsoft's Windows 8 YouTube app claiming the app violated its T&Cs.

Drilling down into this and it looks like Google is becoming the new Apple and playing hardball with Microsoft, making demands from the Microsoft developers that have not been made from either the Apple or Android devs.

This is a disappointing move from Google, whose informal company motto was "don't be evil" because in the end it's the user that suffers from this childish behaviour.

 

Full article @ BBC News

17 Aug 2013 - Windows 8.1 rolls out Oct 18th

The long awaited update to windows 8, roll out on October 18th.

The update called unsuprisingly v8.1 include a number of new features and tweaks aimed at some of the complaints from the desktop market.

 

The preview has been publicly available for a few weeks now and we think for desktop users it certainly makes more sense.

 

More details @ Microsoft Technet Blog

17 Aug 2013 - Microsoft warns Windows XP users risk security post April 2014

Microsoft is ending support for Windows XP on April 8, 2014. After that time there will be no more secutity updated available potentially leaving users exposed to any new security flaws discovered after that date.

 

As Microsoft execs have been cautioning for more than a year, after April 8, 2014, users running Windows XP Service Pack (SP) 3 -- the last service pack delivered for the 11-year-old operating system -- won't get any more updates. That includes both security and "non-security" hot fixes, free or paid support options and online technical content updates.

 

Full article over at ZDNet

02 Aug 2013 - Microsoft's SkyDrive name infringes BSkyB trademark

Microsoft have agreed to change the name of it's cloud storage service "SkyDrive" after losing a legal challenge by BSkyB, who claimed the name infringed it's trademarks.

 

Microsoft have agreed to change the name worldwide after a "transition period".

 

Full article @ BBC News Website

30 Jul 2013 - 4IT Systems announce free upgrades to all hosting packages

We are pleased to announce that from August 1st we are upgrading all of our hosting packages free of charge.

The upgrades are:-

 

Basic Package

Disk Quota upgrade from 70Mb to 80Mb

 

Intermediate Package

Bandwidth upgrade from 1000Mb to 1500Mb (50% increase)

 

Advanced

Disk Quota upgrade from 300Mb to 500Mb (68% increase)

Bandwidth upgrade from 2000Mb to 5000Mb (150% increase)

 

In addition we have reduced the price of bandwith and disk quota upgrades as follows:-

Disk Quota Increase from £5/10Mb to £4/10Mb

Bandwidth Increase from £5/100Mb to £2/100Mb

 

Upgrades will happen automatically, no action is required by the customer.

 

The full hosting Price/Feature list can be found here

14 Jul 2013 - 4IT launch new eCommerce site for client.

We are please to anounce the launch of a new eCommerce site Pretty Pink Princess for our client Pretty Pink Princess Productions Ltd.

This site has been completed using the PrestaShop eCommerce software and customized by us to meet our clients requirements.

We're thrilled that in the first 14 days after launch we have registered over 1/2 Million hits.

Completing this project now adds PrestaShop & oSCommerce to our list of eCommerce offerings.

21 Jun 2013 - Samsung & ASUS reveal hybrid tablets running BOTH Android AND Windows 8!

Want a tablet but not sure which ecosystem to adopt? Well you can now have the best of both worlds, a combined tablet running both Google's Android AND Windows 8 thanks to ASUS and Samsung.

What a brilliant idea!

More details @ BBC News

18 Jun 2013 - Flash webcam flaw on Google's Chrome

A security flaw thought to have been fixed by Adobe in October 2011 has reappeared thanks to a new vulnerability involving Flash Player browser plug-ins.

 

The as yet unpatched vulnerability creates a means to seize control of webcams without permission before siphoning off video and audio from victims' PCs. The clickjack-style flaw was uncovered by security consultant Egor Homakov, who developed a harmless proof-of-concept exploit to underline his concerns and push for an early fix.

 

"This works precisely like regular clickjacking - you click on a transparent flash object, it allows access to Camera/Audio channel. Voila, attacker sees and hears you," Homakov explains in a blog post.

 

Adobe security team spokeswoman Heather Edell confirmed there was an issue but said it was limited to Flash Player for Google Chrome.

 

"This vulnerability affects users on Flash Player installed with Google Chrome," Edell told El Reg in an email. "Google is working to resolve the issue and plans to provide a fix this week," she added.

 

The vulnerability would be potentially handy for both perverts and NSA-style spies. Tinfoil hatters who tape over webcams when they aren't in use have been vindicated by the discovery of the problem.

 

Robert Hansen, director of product management for WhiteHat Security, said the security model adopted by Adobe Flash has contributed to the problem.

 

"The basic problem with Flash is that it doesn't have modal dialogues that pop up outside of the browser, which can alert the user to what's about to happen," Hansen explained. "Because the dialogues are on the same page as the adversary's code, they can overlay things, make it opaque, and so on, to effectively hide the dialogue warning."

 

Google recently imposed a seven day deadline for vendors to respond to security bug reports. Homakov's discovery represents the first chance to see whether Google itself can stick to such tight deadlines.

03 Jun 2013 - Windows 8 update nearly here

Microsoft will shortly release a free update to Windows 8 (dubbed Windows 8.1) which as well as adding many new functions and feature will also attempt to address some of the complaints from desktop users.

They've added back a start button (of sorts), and given desktop uses the ability of booting directly to the desktop bypassing the Metro tablet interface.

Having seen the changes it looks like they have done the bare minimum to address these complaints. Possibly not enough to satisfy some.

I must admit. I do miss the start menu. Even though Windows 8 is a good OS, the start menu is enough for me to select Windows 7 every morning when I turn on my pc.

28 Mar 2013 - Google Phishing Notices

FAO All Hosting Clients.

All hosting clients have received e-mails from Google warning of compromised content on their site (phishing).

The format of the phishing page is :-

/~bourne/blog/wp-includes/Text/Diff/bnpparibasfortis.be/login.php

The phishing URL is attempting to use the mod_userdir facility to access malicious content present on another site on the server.

Please be assured your site has not been compromised and you are not hosting compromised content.

The compromised site content was intercepted and disabled by the hosting support team before Google sent their warnings.

11 Mar 2013 - IP Address Blocklist Updated

We have updated the IP address blocklist and rolled out the new version to all subscribers.

If you wish to take advantage of this facility we can add it to your website for just £50 + vat which includes 3 months worth of updates.

We monitor a number of websites including ecommerce sites to gather information on unwanted visitors. We have analysed February's server logs (over 100,000 lines!) to further identify hacking attempts, vulnarability scanners, unwanted content scrapers, back link spammers etc. As a result of this analysis we have further blocked access from a number of ISPs including:

  • Russia, Ukraine, Czech Republic
  • Saudi Arabia
  • China, Thailand, Indonesia, Korea (Peoples Republic Of), India
  • Australia
  • Brazil, Peru, Mexico
  • USA & Canada
  • Germany, Italy, France

We also detected hack attempts from a handful of UK addresses which are now included.

07 Mar 2013 - Microsoft make IE10 available to Windows 7 users

Microsoft has made IE10 generally available (it was previously only available to Windows 8 users).

IE10 further improves it's HTML5 and CSS3 support, and also adds HTML Touch support which is currently unavailable in other browsers. It also finally introduces a long awaited automatic spell checker (a feature already available in other browsers).

Microsoft have continued to improve performance with independent tests showing IE10 outstripping other browsers with page-load speed.

IE10 is a fast, standards compliant and very capable browser able to hold it's own against competition from Chrome, Firefox and Opera proving that competition is a very good thing.

 

Download IE10 directly from Microsoft

06 Feb 2013 - Microsoft Surface Pro Out Friday (in the US!)

The next version of Microsoft's Surface tablet, the Surface Pro is out on Friday. It's an Intel based version running Windows 8 Pro and therefore capable of running all PC desktop apps (unlike the earlier Surface RT).

Initial reviews are somewhat favourable but confused. Microsoft has effectively invented a new type of device (a hybrid), which bridges the gap between a tablet & laptop/ultrabook. Because of this, reviewers are having a hard time trying to compare it to something.

If it's compared to a tablet then it's capable of doing more than any tablet on market but also more expensive ($899 at launch), thicker, heavier & with shorter battery life.

If you compare it to an ultrabook or laptop then it's more portable, has a touch screen & highly accurate digital pen, great build quality but again has a shorter battery life.

So the big question is, will Microsoft find a market for their new invention in the way Apple found with the iPad? Only time will tell, but Microsoft have already hinted that they are working on designs for the next version of the Surface and are in the tablet/hybrid market for the long run.

Interesting times!

Check out Techrepublic for an initial review.

01 Feb 2013 - Windows 8 app store falls short of prediction

Just before the launch of Windows 8, Microsoft VP of U.S. Sales & Marketing, Keith Lorizo made the rather foolish prediction that within 90 days of launch, the Windows 8 App Store would reach 100,000 apps. Well 90 days have passed and the grand total reached was 26,645, which is 73,355 short of the 100,000 goal. That's quite a shortfall!

 

For more in depth analysis, check out this Techrepublic article.

31 Jan 2013 - IP Blocklist Update

We 've updated the IP block list following of analysis of our monitored site logs.

 

In response to some suspicion activity and hack attempts we've add some blacklisted ISPs in Chicago USA, Turkey & Canada as well as blocking traffic from unwanted/badly behaved search engines including Twenga, Yandex (Russia), Baidu (China), SEOSpider (China).

 

All customers subscribing to this service now have this update.

22 Jan 2013 - Windows 8 £24.99 upgrade offer ends soon

Windows 8 £24.99 upgrade offer ends soon

Microsoft's £24.99 Windows 8 upgrade offer ends 31st Jan 2013.

 

Even if you don't plan on upgrading to Windows 8 immediately it may still be worth buying this update for future use.

 

More details @ Microsoft

05 Jan 2013 - IP Block List Update

We have been monitoring some attempted hacking activity from addresses in China, Taiwan, Brazil, Germany, France and Spain today.

As a response we have updated our IP Address Block List to include the individual addresses and in the case of China, Taiwan & Brazil, the entire ISP.

 

The block list is available installed on your website for £50 + vat which includes 3 months worth of updates

03 Jan 2013 - Ban unwanted traffic from your website

Over the Christmas period we've taken the downtime to analyse traffic coming to a few of our websites including an eCommerce site we host. The results have been fascinating.

Some of our sites have been getting a huge number of hits from IP addresses in Russia, China and the USA. Analysis showed these to be unwanted foreign search engine spiders/bots, content scrapers (companies harvesting website data to resell), and other websites hotlinking to images & PDF documents (stealing bandwidth). All this impacts both the sites performance and its monthly bandwidth usage/limit.

To combat this we are now offering the following services:-

IP Address Ban list

Using the log data analysed, we've built up a list of offending IP addresses and address ranges. Once installed, your webserver refuses all requests from these sources stopping this nuisance in its tracks. We are continuing to build on this address list as and when we identify more offending addresses.

The address list is available, installed on your server, for £50 + vat and includes 3 months' worth of updates.

Hotlink Protection

We will configure your site to redirect any websites attempting to hotlink to your images to a custom static images hosted on our FlickR account.

For an example click here.

Custom Image and Hotlink protection is £50 + vat

Individual Traffic Analysis

If you believe your website requires more in-depth analysis we can undertake this for you at our standard consultancy rate of £70 p/h

01 Jan 2013 - Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all our customers and friends.

 

We look forward to servicing all of your IT needs in 2013!

06 Dec 2012 - Microsoft kills off Small Business Server?

The current version of Windows Small Business Server (2011) will be the last one in the current configuration. Instead it will be replaced by Windows Server 2012 Essentials or Windows Server 2012 Foundation depending on requirements.

One of the killer features of SBS was the inclusion of Exchange Server all at a budget price (approx. £600). However Windows Server 2010 Essentials and Foundation will not include Exchange, forcing adopters to purchase this separately. (Although prices for Exchange 2013 are not yet available, Exchange 2010 [5 user] would have cost an additional £1100 [+ £250 for each additional 5 users!])

Microsoft will continue to sell SBS2011 until December 2013.

Our recommendations are, if you are thinking of having a server hardware refresh cycle, do it within the next 12 months!

 

03 Dec 2012 - Is Windows 8 any good?

Is Windows 8 any good?

The short answer is Yes!

It's based on the same Windows core introduced in Vista and refined to great acclaim in Windows 7, so it's slick, responsive and your existing devices should still work.

The caveat is the interface change. Windows 8 was designed with tablets / phones in mind so the traditional desktop plays second fiddle to the tile based interface (formally called Metro). The desktop also goes through a bit of a major change. The traditional Start menu that we've all been using since Windows 95 is gone! No Start Menu, no all programs list, no control panel arghh!!!...

Well of course those things are still all there but you now need to use other mechanisms to get to them and this can initially be very frustrating when you have been using the traditional desktop for the past 17 years! However most users should be able to adapt within a few hours with a minimum of training.

So should you upgrade?

Well unless you have a touchscreen probably not. Selling Windows 8 to a desktop user of Windows 7 going to be a hard sell. Windows 7 is hard to beat!

I would instead recommend you wait for your usual machine refresh cycle when it will be pre-installed on your new pc purchases.

28 Nov 2012 - The Windows 8 tablet season kicks off

The Windows 8 tablet season kicks off

Microsoft kicked off the Windows 8 tablet season with the launch of the much anticipated Surface.

Initially only the Arm based Windows 8 RT Surface is available. However an Intel/Windows 8 Pro based Surface will follow nearer Christmas.

Reviews of the RT version have been overall positive with some reviewers getting hung up on the restricted nature of the RT version. (The RT version only runs Apps downloaded from the Microsoft App store and will not run your traditional desktop apps.)

Microsoft has been praised for the hardware quality and the magnetic click-on keyboard is hugely popular.

Lenovo have beat Microsoft to market with release of its Windows 8 Pro tablet the

Thinkpad 2 and it looks sweet. Nice specification plenty of ports (USB/HDMI), twin cameras, NFC chip and 10 hour battery life.

 

26 Oct 2012 - The (2012) top 25 passwords.....

Ok so we all know we shouldn't use simple passwords but I wonder how many of us still do?

The good people over at Gizmondo have compiled this years top 25 lists..

The top 10 are :-

  1. password (Unchanged)
  2. 123456 (Unchanged)
  3. 12345678 (Unchanged)
  4. abc123 (Up 1)
  5. qwerty (Down 1)
  6. monkey (Unchanged)
  7. letmein (Up 1)
  8. dragon (Up 2)
  9. 111111 (Up 3)
  10. baseball (Up 1)

Click on the Gizmondo link to see the full article.

Oh, an if your password appears on this list, slap your own legs and change it!

18 Oct 2012 - Apple loses UK tablet design appeal versus Samsung

In sharp contrast to the recent success in a Californian court, Apple has lost both the original UK patent infringement case against Samsung and a subsequent appeal.

In our opinion the UK judgement is entirely correct and proper. The Californian judgement is ridiculous and looks increasingly isolated as Apple continues to lose more of these cases around the world.

The only people to benefit from Apple's bully-boy tactics are the lawyers. This kind of oppressive litigation is bad for innovation, bad for the market and bad for the consumer.

More details @ BBC News

08 Oct 2012 - Monday morning IT blues!

It never rains but it pours!

The gremlins seem to have paid us a visit overnight and we've been greeted with multiple IT failures this morning including a drive failure in our primary server and a key workstation that's refusing to boot!

The knock on effect is that we may not be checking e-mails as frequently this morning as per usual so if you have an urgent issue please call the office.

Normal service should be resumed later today.

Please note this is a 4IT Systems internal IT issue only and does not affect any of our customers' hosted accounts.

29 Sep 2012 - Windows 8 tablets to run Android Apps!!

Chip maker AMD has announced a partnership with emulation software Bluestacks to allow AMD based Windows 8 devices to run the 500,000 Apps more usually found on Android phones.

This is a major develpment as the size of the App store is a key factor in the success or failure of a mobile device ecosystem. Currently it is rumoured Microsofts own App store for Windows 8 at launch stood at just 2000 Apps. (WP 7.5 has approx 30,000 Apps)

More details @ BBC News

14 Sep 2012 - Windows Server 2012 is here

Microsoft has released final versions of Windows Server 2012. Industry reports so far seem extremely favourable with some pundits calling it "the best release of Windows Server yet from Microsoft"!

Improvements include

  • Hyper-V improvements
  • Failover Clustering
  • DCHP failover
  • Simplified domain controller deployment
  • Remote Group Policy update
  • The new Server Manager
  • Storage Spaces
  • Server Core enhancements
  • Windows PowerShell 3.0

As Microsoft partners, we already have access to all of Microsoft's new products and plan to roll out Server 2012 internally within the next few weeks, so watch this space!

 

15 Aug 2012 - Summer break office closure & support arrangements

The 4IT office will be closed for a late summer break between Fri Aug 24th - Thurs Sept 13th.

Support will continue to be available, as before, via e-mail, remote access & Skype.

The primary method of contact is e-mail. All support e-mails will be responded to on the day of receipt starting from 2pm BST.

Please do not leave telephone messages at the office/mobile number as these will not be picked up until the office re-opens.

 

E-Mail Issues

If you are having issues with e-mail, use your webmail web interface (4IT hosting clients only) or a third party e-mail account ie. Hotmail/GMail to report this.

 

Internet Issues

In the event of loss of internet service, please ensure that you familiarise yourself with your modem / router reset instructions. Make sure you have filed a copy of your ISP's username & password and are able to re-enter these into your router should that be required. Finally should the issue still persist please direct your support requests directly to your ISP's support teams via their helpdesk telephone number. (Plus Net customers use 08451 400 200).

If you need assistance with any of the above, please contact me at your earliest convenience.

05 Aug 2012 - Microsoft forced to ditch "Metro" name

Microsoft have been forced to ditch the name of its new block-tiled user interface "Metro" first seen on Windows Phone 7 and fully developed in Windows 8.

It's believed to be in response of a legal threat from a German supermarket chain "Metro AG", however in a recent press release, Microsoft have now claimed "Metro" was a development code name and not in fact the actual release name!

But at the time of the press release it would seem that the actual release name was still unknown/undecided and is expected to be released by the end of next week.

More details @ BBC News

02 Aug 2012 - Windows 8 released to manufacturing (RTM)

Windows 8 development has now been finalised and the final product is being handed over to Microsoft's partners for them to prepare new WIndows 8 PCs and devices.

More details @ Blogging Windows.

End users will be able to get Windows 8 from October 26th, we should have our copy by August 20th

11 Jul 2012 - Windows 8 arrives in October

Microsoft have announced that Windows 8 will be released to manufacturing (RTM) the first week of August, with general availability scheduled for the end of October.

(RTM it the date of availability to parters and customers with Microsoft Software Assurance.)

Microsoft have also announced a pricing deal for users offering Windows 8 Pro upgrade for just $40! More details @ TechTarget

This announcement also serves to lock in the schedule for Microsoft's Surface tablet. Last month, in its Surface announcement, the company said that the Windows RT version of the tablet will be available at the same time as Windows 8 general availability. The Intel-based Surface model is expected to be available 90 days thereafter. That would make the Intel version release date a post-Christmas one.

10 Jul 2012 - Microsoft Surface, a real iPad rival?

Undoubtedly the iPad has been a huge success and attempts to steal market share with the wave of Android powered devices has been a bit hit and miss.

 

There is one sector however where iPad sales have been poor, within the business community. Companies tend to run Microsoft software making the iPad a poor fit for the enterprise user. Repeated surveys show that corporate users are holding back on purchases until a decent Windows powered device is released.

 

Enter Microsoft's Surface, a Windows 8 powered device with a magnetically attached removable keyboard which acts as a screen cover.

 

According to TechRepublic's CIO Jury, the buzz around Microsoft's new tablet is strong even among iPad users.

 

Article @ Techtarget : Microsoft Surface: Why CIOs think it's a real iPad challenger

 

The release of Surface will be a boost for the Windows Phone platform. Essentially all devices, phone, tablet and PC will be running the same OS with the Metro Tile Interface, this means a HUGE potential market for app developers leading to a much bigger app store and addressing the current key criticism of Windows Phone platform, the relatively small App Store when compared to Apple iOS & Android.

 

The next 12 months will be very interesting!

 

02 Jul 2012 - IMPORTANT ** Fraudulent Credit Card Charges **

We have had a number of reports of unknown transactions appearing on people's credit card statements listed as made by either www.4it.co.uk or www.4-it.co.uk.

 

These transactions have not been made by us.

 

We believe these transactions are fraudulent and should be reported to your card issuer and the police as soon as possible.

 

Please note 4IT Systems Ltd (www.4-it.co.uk) does not and has never had the ability to process credit/debit card transactions..

 

We have reported this to the police, however as we are not the actual victim of this crime (the card holder is the victim) there is little more that we can do about this.

 

08 Jun 2012 - Flame malware receives terminate order

The Flame "super virus" has been sent a kill order instructing it to erase itself from infected machines.

Security firm Symantec spotted the order on one of its 'honeypot' machines setup to monitor Flames actions.

This is no doubt in response to the huge publicity following Flame's discovery last week. It's not unreasonable to assume that the state sponsored group behind Flame are now desperately trying to cover their tracks.

More details @ BBC News Website

05 Jun 2012 - Microsoft issues emergency 'Flame' Patch

Microsoft have issued an out-of-band patch to address a vulnerability in the Windows Update service exploited by the Flame "super virus".

 

More details on Flame can be found @ TechWeek.

 

Flame is incredibly complex and believed to have been created by a nation state (probably Western) as a form of cyber-espionage or cyber-weapon and currently seems to be targeting machines in the Middle East & Israel.

 

Flame is able to spoof the security certificate used by Microsoft's Windows Update service to spread and infect other computers.

 

It is imprtant that all users apply this update.

 

More details on the Flame patch @ TechWeek

28 May 2012 - New 4IT Website Launched

Our new website is now live.

Although not 100% complete we were keen to show off the weeks of hard work!

 

We have diabled some of the links in the bottom grey bar whilst we finish them but the rest of the site should be fine and as always with our sites, has been tested as valid w3c compliant code.

 

We are shocasing some of our standard SEO techniques inclluding fully valid W3C compliant code & url rewriting.

 

If you would like us to apply SEO to your site, or your site fails W3C validation please contact us.

 

To verify whether your site is W3C compliant visit the W3C Site Validator

23 May 2012 - 123-Reg hosted websites under Chinese DDOS attack

Clients of web hosting company 123-REG have seen their sites go offline after reports of an attack on the firm claimed to have originated from China.

Many site are either offline or loading very slowly whilst 123_REG try and mitigate this attack.

 

If you are a 123-REG customer and would like to move your site to a fully managed & secure hosting provider then contact us!

19 May 2012 - New 4IT website coming soon

We've been working hard on our new look website which is now almost ready.

The new site will be launching some new services, including reduced price PAYG support when block booking and some competitively priced support contracts.

 

So as they say, watch this space!

05 May 2012 - New Intel 3rd Generation Core Processors (Ivy Bridge) Now Available

On Monday 30th April Intel launched their exciting 3rd Generation Core Processors - Code named Ivy Bridge.

Launching first with lines in their I5 & I7 range (I3 versions coming out in June), these processors use a 1155 socket so are compatible with current H67/H61/Z68 & P67 chipset boards * and the new H77/Z77 boards making any transition very easy.

 

Features of the new range are

Power Efficiency

New 22nm Design

Intel Turbo Boost Technology & Intel HD Graphics with Dynamic Frequency

Performance : Estimating up to 2x increase in transcode performance

Performance : Estimating >30%** increase in 3D graphics

DX11 support

 

Key Features:

22nm Sandy Bridge Microarchitecture

16 lanes PCI-Express*

Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0

Integrated Memory Controller (IMC) - 2ch DDR3, 2 DIMMs/ch, up to 1333. Support for SO-DIMM

Next generation Intel HD Graphics with DX11 or Discrete graphics support (1x16, 2x8)

Next generation Intel Quick Sync Video Technology

Enhanced AVX acceleration

 

Socket:

LGA1155 Socket

19 Apr 2012 - Beware the RansomWare!

"Ransomware" as the name implies hold something belonging to the victim in ransom until they pay a sum of money. This type of malware is considered the next step in the evolution of scareware, malicious programs that scare users into paying money.

 

We are starting to notice a sharp increase in this type of malware attack, including fake police notices that your computer has been isolated and you need to cough up £130 to get it release.

 

However the latest variant of this type of malware attack marks a serious escalation of tactics & techniques. The latest variant replaces the Master Boot Record (MBR) with its own malicious code completely preventing windows from loading and preventing the user from being able to run any scanning or removal tools.

 

The MBR is a piece of code that resides in the first sectors of the hard drive and starts the boot loader. The boot loader then loads Windows.

Instead of starting the Windows boot loader, the rogue MBR installed by the new ransomware displays a message that asks users to deposit a sum of money into a particular account via an online payment service called QIWI, in order to receive an unlock code for their computers.

When the unlock code is used, the MBR routine is supposedly removed.

 

The only solution to this is to replace the MBR which is no mean feat and definitely not for the average user.

 

If you believe you are the victim of ransomware, scareware or any other type of malware, let us know, we're here to help.

18 Apr 2012 - Windows 8 will come in 3 flavours

Microsoft have announce a simpler licensing model for it's latest operating system, Windows 8.

On Intel based machines there will be just 2 versions, Windows 8 and Windows 8 pro, while on ARM processor machines (tablets / phones) there is Windows 8 RT.

 

This is a welcome return to a simpler product choice, compared with the 6/7 version model they introduced with Vista.

 

More details over @ BBC News

14 Apr 2012 - IT pros recommending Android over iPhone

A recent poll of TechRepublic members show that IT professionals are decisively recommending Android over iPhone to company employees.

The figures are 50% Android, 32% iPhone, 13% Windows Phone 7 & 5% Blackberry (RIM).

At the other end of the scale, the 5% for Blackberry makes grim reading for parent company RIM, conversely 13% for Windows Phone 7 is fairly impressive considering its the new boy on the block.

 

More details @ Tech Republic

12 Apr 2012 - Apple finally reacts to Flashback trojan

Apple have announced that it is developing a tool to detect and remove the Flashback trojan which has infected over half a million Apple Macs.

 

Pity it took this story to go global before Apple reacted.

 

More details @ BBC News

12 Apr 2012 - It's Microsoft Patch Tuesday: April 2012

Microsoft have release 12 updates this month covering Windows, Office and other products.

4 are critical security patches.

As usual we recommend all users apply these updates as soon as they are available.

08 Apr 2012 - Half a million Apple Mac computers 'infected with malware'

Russian anti-virus firm are claiming about 600,000 Macs have the "Flashback Trojan" malware - potentially allowing them to be hijacked and used as a "botnet".

This once again refutes the misconception that Mac's can't get viruses!

 

More detail @ BBC News

04 Apr 2012 - Google under fire

Google seems to have lost sight of its informal corporate motto of "Don't be evil" as it's repeatedly hauled over the coals for anti competative behaviour.

The latest spat has Google being investigated by the European Commission over alleged biasing of its natural search results in favour of its own subsidiaries and actively trying to prevent rival search engines (i.e. Microsoft's Bing) from indexing sites hosted by Google. This coincides with a similar investigation by the Federal Trade Commission in the US.

Full article @ BBC News

24 Mar 2012 - Windows 8 to ship in October?

Rumour has it that Microsoft will be finishing up Windows 8 in the summer ready for shipping in October, and catching the all important xmas holiday season.

More info at Bloomberg

18 Mar 2012 - Windows 8 Consumer Preview is out

Ok so we may be a bit late blogging about this one but unsurprisingly we were one of the first downloaders.

Windows 8 is a major milestone for Microsoft and features the Metro UI specifically designed for touch devices such as tablets and phones. To strengthen its phone credentials this is also the first Microsoft OS that is designed to run on ARM processors found in many smartphones.

With this OS, Microsoft is intending to keep its mastery of the desktop market but also target both Apple and Google in the phone and tablet markets. That's indeed ambitious, but will they succeed?

The tiles of the Metro UI are the next generation of what was seen in Windows Phone 7 (WP7 although late in the game has had many positive reviews).

 

So what do we think? We'll as with all things new it's going to take some getting used to. The desktop experience is similar to Windows 7 although there are sufficient changes to make it initially frustrating to use, but this is the same will all new things.

 

Although it's called the "consumer preview" it's really a beta version. Pretty stable and quite functional, and best of all free for anyone to download and try out ((just search for "Windows 8 Consumer Preview"). Although we don't recommend you install a new beta OS unless you are an "enthusiast" user!

Oh, and they had over a million people download it the first day it was available which can't be bad!

21 Jan 2012 - Time to switch from Google to Bing?

This week Google, once again, changed the way it works. Called "Search, Plus Your World", deeply integrating Google+ into your search results.

 

(If you are unaware of Google+, it's Google's attempt at a social media site aimed squarely at taking users away from Facebook.)

 

The idea behind the update is to try and deliver "more personalised" search results; however in reality it seems a thinly veiled attempt to shamelessly promote its own services (ie Google+).

This has, of course, upset a lot of people. Not just the owners of Facebook & Twitter who are none too happy about being pushed further down the search rankings, but also from privacy experts and users.

 

People used Google because they trusted the search results to be relevant, not biased towards a particular aim or goal. This update diminishes that trust.

 

Step into the arena Bing, Microsoft's search engine. Although it had an uncertain start when launched just a few years ago, it has gone from strength to strength. A clean interface with a fast response and most importantly, relevant unbiased results.

Or to quote a tech journo, "Bing is now as Google was, before they screwed it up"

 

So maybe it's time to switch from Google to Bing?

 

More details @ Gizmondo

17 Jan 2012 - Domain Registration Price increase (.com, .net, .biz)

On the 15th January 2012, Verisign increased the cost prices on .com, .net domain extensions, and Neustar on .biz domain names.

 

As a result of these changes, registrations of these domains will increaase by approximately £1.

 

Note. As these domains are priced in US Dollars, the actual registration cost will vary somewhat depending on current UK-US exchange rate.

09 Jan 2012 - Fraudulent "Microsoft" Phone Call Scam

We have noticed a sharp increase in people receiving scam phone calls purporting to be from Microsoft.

 

These calls are usually from an overseas call centre (typically India), and the caller then tries to convince you that your PC has been identified as virus infected and that you have ignored their attempts to contact you.

 

They then ask to remote control your pc or get you to type a sequence of commands to confirm infection. The end result being them asking for your credit card details to pay them to "clean" your PC.

 

THIS IS A SCAM. Microsoft will never, repeat NEVER, cold call people in this manner.

 

DO NOT under ANY circumstances allow them access to your machine. They may virus infect it.

DO NOT under ANY circumstances give them your credit card details.

 

If you think you have fallen foul of this scam, please contact us so we can scan your pc for any malware they may have installed.

 

More info @ Microsoft

22 Dec 2011 - Merry Christmas

We would like to wish all our customers and friends a very merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous new year.

 

We will be closed from 2pm today (Thursday 22nd Dec) and will reopen on Tuesday 3rd of Jan 2012.

 

Limited support may be available over the christmas period for emergency situations.

11 Nov 2011 - US Tackles huge Cybercrime Syndicate

A Russian/Estonian cybercriminal gang has been arrested thanks to efforts by the FBI with help by NASA & Trend Security.

The gang had infected over 500,000 pc's to reject users to advertising sites earning the operators over £9m.

Full article @ BBC News

06 Nov 2011 - Duqu Malware hides in MS Word Documents

Microsoft has offered a temporary fix for a software flaw that leaves Windows PC's vunerable to attack by the Duqu trojan.

 

The trojan spreads via Word Documents and relies on the user clicking on an e-mail attachment. As usual all users should be educated to the dangers of opening ANY attachments from untrusted sources.

 

More details @ BBC News

 

Full Advisory @ Microsoft Security Response Centre

04 Nov 2011 - Latest iPhone launch marred by buggy OS

Apple's latest iPhone release ( the iPhone 4S) lost some of it's shine recently as users started complaining about poor battery life caused by a bug in the new version of its operating system, IOS5.

 

This is particularly embarrassing for Apple, as they have in the past, taken great relish at pointing out, and making fun of, flaws in their competitors' products. However it is unsurprising that such hubris eventually backfires.

 

Full article @ BBC News

15 Oct 2011 - Microsoft buys Skype for $8.5 Billion!

In a rather curious move, Microsoft has bought Skype for $8.56 Billion. It's curious because there is a lot of overlap between Skype and Microsoft's own Windows Live Messenger product, and that the Skype user base is only a third of WLM.

 

It will be interesting to see what the long term aim of this is. Microsoft has a less than stellar track record when buying big-money companies and the $8.5Billion it has paid for Skype is it's largest acquisition to date.

 

More details @ Wired

06 Oct 2011 - Apple co-founder Steve Jobs dies aged 56

Steve Jobs, has finally lost his battle against pancreatic cancer, aged just 56. Whilst I have been (and remain) critical about Apple's practices and cautious about its products, it is sad to lose such an influential contributor to the field of computing and personal electronics.

 

It is, without doubt, that Apple's emphasis on aesthetic design and product usability has provided a driving force to competing hardware and software vendors to improve their game, even if, at times function hasn't actually kept pace with form.

 

It will be interesting to see how much of this was due to Job's direct input and how Apple will cope without him.

 

Job's was previously ousted from Apple in 1985 before re-joining them as CEO in 1995. However during his absence, Apple struggled and was close to bankruptcy. Upon his return, striking a controversial $150m investment deal with Microsoft's Bill Gates to help Apple get back to health.

 

Details @ BBC News

 

Obituary @ BBC News Obituary Page

01 Oct 2011 - Apple Mac PDF trojan spreads.

Contrary to popular (and misguided) belief that everything Apple is safe from virus attacks, F-Secure are tracking the spread of a Mac Trojan disguised as a PDF document.

 

When opened by the hapless user, the Trojan opens a back door allowing the attacker to gain full access to, and control of, the machine.

 

Although this classed as low risks, many commentators see this as a taste of things to come. But due to market share, Windows machines still remain the cyber criminals #1 target.

 

More details @

01 Oct 2011 - Microsoft wins Rustock civil case, criminal one next?

Following the Microsoft assisted take-down of the Rustock spam botnet earlier this year, Microsoft have now won the civil case against the operators and have passed over the evidence to the FBI in hopes of there being a criminal case.

 

More details @ SC Magazine

26 Sep 2011 - Open that SPAM or they'll sue you!

Spammers are now using scare tactics to get you to open the malware infected e-mails they send you. In this case with threats to sue you!

 

Websense have monitored an increase in a type of spam using social engineering to trick you into launching the infected attachment.

 

What the email claims is that your mail server has been sending spam to the outside world. The email is spoofed to appear as if they come from known and reputable companies. The attachment is a fake ZIP file that supposedly contains a scanned copy of a document that has evidence of your spam, but in reality is an EXE file that contains a Trojan downloader, which pulls in malware.

 

More details @

Websense

 

As always we recommend that you treat all e-mails from an unknown or unexpected source with great suspicion and caution.

22 Sep 2011 - Browser Wars Chrome Inches Up, Firefox Flat, IE9 Climbing Fast

Latest results from Net Applications make for interesting reading.

IE (all versions) is still by far the largest market share but is slowly shrinking, however within that IE9 share has risen strongly.

Firefox remains flat, Safari has meager increase (due to iTunes / Quicktime bundled install?), and Chrome shows steady growth by continuing to mop up those jumping ship.

 

More details @ PC World

07 Sep 2011 - Late Summer Holiday Office Closure

The office will be closed on Friday 9th September and Monday 12th September.

Limited phone support will be available during this time.

19 Aug 2011 - HP Drops Bombshell

I a shock move, HP announced this week plans to drop its entire WebOS operation (phones/tablets) as well as spinning off its pc business. They also announced a poorer than expected forecast for 2011 leading to some stock price volatility.

 

More details @ ZDNet

03 Aug 2011 - Google to warn users with infected PC's

During some essential maintenance for one of their data centres, Google were able to identify more than a million Windows XP machines infected with strain of malware designed to hijack search results.

 

From today Google will notify users via a large header bar on the Google search page if they have an infected machine.

 

If you see this notification, please call us.

 

More details @ KrebsOnSecurity

02 Aug 2011 - Server Support Prerequisites

Can we remind all server clients that regular server maintenance is a prerequisite for our server support service.

 

Any request for support from a non-maintained server will be declined until such time as the heath of the server can be determined and any remedial action necessary taken. This operation is chargeable and will invariably impact the time taken to resolve your raised support issue.

 

We recommend servers are maintained on a quarterly basis, however to meet our support requirements, maintenance events must not be more than 6 months apart.

If more than 6 months has elapsed since the last maintenance event, the server, for support purposes, will be classed as non-maintained.

 

01 Aug 2011 - Late Payment Policy (effective from Aug 1st 2011)

To all account clients:-

 

Late Payment Policy (effective from Aug 1st 2011)

 

Unless a specific invoice is in dispute, the following late payment policy will apply to all clients.

 

Account facilities are strictly 30 days. If we have not received your payment by the due date specified on the invoice, we will then contact you, usually via e-mail, to request payment with the following schedule.

  • Request 1 : Sent on date invoice due.
  • Request 2: Sent 7 days after invoice due.
  • Request 3: Sent 14 days after invoice due.

If we have still not received payment by day 21, your account will be placed on stop automatically and no further work can be undertaken until the account is brought back in order.

 

In order for us to continue to provide highly competitive contract-free services it is essential that we receive payments when due and we request that all clients endeavour to keep their accounts in order

 

Persistent late payments may lead to a withdrawal of account facilities and the account converted to a pre-payment basis.

 

Upon inception, this policy will apply retrospectively to any outstanding invoices matching the above criteria.

 

Can we also take this opportunity to remind all clients that the Early Settlement Discount scheme is still in effect as is the Commission Referral Discount scheme.

 

Details for both of these are available using the links below.

 

Settlement discount

 

Referral Commission Scheme

04 Jul 2011 - Summer Sizzling Special Offer - Free IT Audit

Summer is here and until the end of September we are offering a free IT audit for your office or business.

We will audit your IT infrastructure, identify your current and future needs and produce a machine by machine report for you with our recommendations and advice. All with absolutely no obligation whatsoever!

 

Give us a call or e-mail today.

06 Jun 2011 - Multiple Hardware / Software failures

We've had a rather busy morning this morning, faced with a number of hardware and software failures including the loss of our DSL service, the failure of our Firewall device and misbehaviour of our Exchange and DHCP Servers.

However as of 10:30am all issues have been resolved.

05 Jun 2011 - Chrome market share grows at expense of Firefox / IE

Recent NetMarketShare webbrowser numbers show Google's Chrome use is steadily increasing at the expense of Firefox & IE.

IE, however, is still the browser with the largest market share.

More details @ ZDNet

05 Jun 2011 - Apple's malware response bypassed within hours

After a month long Mac Defender/Mac Guard malware attack, Apple finally released a promised security update aimed at addressing it.

Unfortunately within hours the malware writers released a new version of Mac Defender making the security update obsolete.

 

The initial month delay by Apple is shameful and would not be tolerated in the Windows ecosystem, (most windows users receiving DAILY malware updates to their security products).

 

Apple have historically (through ignorance or arrogance) paid little attention to their OS security, a decision which has now come back to bite them in the ass!

 

More details @ ZDNet

01 Jun 2011 - Windows Server 2008 R2 / Exchange Server 2010 Deployment Complete

We have completed our W2K8 R2 / Exchange 2010 server deployment/migration and retired our Exchange 2007 server.

As always these events are an "adventure" but that's exactly why we do these in-house first before offering them to our clients!

 

26 May 2011 - 1 in 14 downloads are malicious - Microsoft

Interesting article over @ Computerworld. It turns out 1 in 14 programs downloaded by Windows users turns out to be malicious according to Microsoft on Tuesday.

We continually warn our clients to be extremely cautious when surfing and downloading from the internet.

If you would like to discuss your corporate IT security we're here to help.

25 May 2011 - Microsoft announce Windows 8 to ship next year (2012)

Micrsoft's next gen version of Windows (Windows 8) is due to be released next year (2012) according to Steve Ballmer.

 

We're expecting support for more processors including ARM's mobile chips used in smartphones and other mobile devices (ie slate pc's).

 

More details @ ZDNet

23 May 2011 - Mail Server Migration Tuesday 23rd to Wednesday 24th

We will be migrating our internal mail from Exchange Server 2007 to Exchange Server 2010 on Tuesdaay and Wednesday of this week.

We expect minimal downtime and disruption however if you have an urgent requirement you may wish to call us rather than using e-mal.

21 May 2011 - Chinese domain name scam resurfaces

We've started to see a reappearance of the Chinese Domain Name Scam spam e-mails.

Quite simply you receive an e-mail from a Chinese company claiming someone is trying to register the Chinese variants of your registered domain name, and the helpful e-mailer is asking to see if you want them first (for a modest fee of course).

 

The e-mail we received contained the following line

 

'We received HAITONG company's application that they are registering the name " 4-it " as their Internet Keyword and " 4-it .cn "、" 4-it .com.cn " 、" 4-it .asia "domain names etc.., '

 

Firstly "Registering 4-it as their internet keyword" is just utter gibberish. The sentence "My cheese has feet" would make more sense!!

 

Secondly, no one it trying to purchase those domains, this is just a scare tactic to try and get you to purchase lots of domains you neither want nor need.

 

As usual with these scams, delete it.

 

20 May 2011 - MACDefender claims a significant number of victims.

Apple Mac owners are finally in the targets of the Malware writers, following the appearance of a fake security application written specifically for the Mac, called MACDefender or MAC Security.

 

Mac users are a tempting target as most are ignorant to security threats, believing, quite wrongly, that "Macs don't get viruses".

 

We have been predicting this event for at least 12 months. Macs are no more (or less) secure than any other operating system (including Windows) and it was inevitable that once their market share had reached a key point they would then become a target.

 

Full article @ BBC News

19 May 2011 - Microsoft Hyper-V R2

We have just completed a successful migration of most our internal servers (both physical and virtual) to Microsoft's Hyper-V R2 platform.

 

If you are considering virtualisation or server consolidation then why not give us a call?

 

The fact that Hyper-V R2 is a free product is an excellent incentive to start!

08 May 2011 - Windows 7 is number 1 in the US, but XP still reigns worldwide

Following on from out recent article Windows 7 is now the number one OS in the U.S.. Worlwide, however, the story is slightly different with XP still hanging on to about 54% of all PCS while Windows 7 share has grown to approximately 24%.

 

Full article @ ConsumerReports.org

01 May 2011 - After the Amazon and Sony debacles, what now for The Cloud?

Following the Amazon EC2 Cloud failure last week and the shocking security breach of Sony's Playstation Network (PSN), will you be rethinking your Cloud strategy? Do you even have a Cloud strategy?!

 

We've been in the IT industry long enough now to see many new technologies hailed as the next best thing, and for them to subsequently disappear into obscurity and the hype about "The Cloud" does feel a bit like that at times.

 

What is "The Cloud"? Basically it's using the software/resources of a networked computer rather than having to own the software/resources yourself. E.g. Instead of paying a small fortune to purchase Microsoft Office for your PC, you rent access to a web version (called Office 365) at a much lower cost. Likewise, instead of storing all your documents locally on your PC where you are responsible for backups, you store them remotely on space you rent from the likes of Amazon, Microsoft, Google etc. and let them take care of the security and management.

 

The Cloud does offer some benefits however the hype surrounding it never mentions the elephant in the room, Availability and Security.

 

Use of The Cloud is entirely dependent on your access to the internet. Lose that and you lose everything. Furthermore are you willing to trust a third party with your most private and confidential documents?

These are key issues have very rarely been mentioned until now. Thanks to the recent Amazon EC2 Cloud outage and security breaches at Sony, availability and security of The Cloud has now been thrust into the limelight.

 

In summary, experience tells us, as with most "IT revolutions", The Cloud has its place, but don't believe the hype.

 

More Info

 

Cloud Computing definition @ Wikipedia

 

Amazon EC2 Cloud Outage Article @ InformationWeek

 

Sony PSN Hack Article @ LA Times

28 Apr 2011 - Windows 8 is on it's way!

Work on the next version of Windows, currently labelled Windows 8, is already well underway. A Beta version (Windows 8 version 6.2.7955.0 milestone 2) has recently surfaced.

Microsoft have learnt from the mistake of allowing a long time to elapse between OS versions as happened with XP & Vista.

We can expect Windows 8 to appear around the same time as IE10 which is projected late 2011 / early 2012, however the first public beta of Windows 8 may only be a few months away.

Windows 8 seems to be more of an evolution of Windows 7 rather that the revolution that was Vista. Notable points so far are the inclusion of a ribbon bar style interface (a la Office 2007/2010), new task manager and ARM processor support (important for the tablet/smartphone market).

 

More details over @ PC World

 

Screenshots over @ TechRebublic

26 Apr 2011 - Is it time to ditch XP?

Intersting poll results over at Techrepublic.

Seems like those business users who are determined to stick with XP are now in the minority. 53% of those polled had either dumped XP or are actively working on it. 18% realised that something had to be done but were finding it difficult to progress, whilst the remaining 29% were steadfastly hostile to removing XP.

 

It is however the inevitable fact that eventually Windows XP will not be a feasible operating system for any business.

22 Apr 2011 - Fancy a new computer? Why not check out the Microsoft Collection?

Microsoft have launched "The Collection", a showcase of the most striking PCs of the season chosen by the software giant in order to suit individual needs, lifestyles and budgets. It can be viewed online at: www.windows.co.uk/thecollection and chosen PCs are available from all major retailers.

In total, The Collection features around 30 best-in-class PCs running Windows 7 across five categories.

22 Apr 2011 - Microsoft unveils IE 10 platform preview. Vista support dropped.

Even though Microsoft have only just released IE9 they are already working on their next generation of browser, IE10.

But there's a catch. Just as they dropped support for XP with IE9, they intend to drop support for Vista with IE10.

 

More details @ Techgoondu

16 Apr 2011 - Windows 7 is now the number one OS in the U.S.

Despite all the computer users who vowed to stick with XP until it was pried from their cold, dead hands, Windows 7 has steadily gained market share since its release a year and half ago. This month, it surpassed XP and is now the top operating system in the United States with 31.71 percent (XP still has 31.56 percent), according to StatCounter. XP remains on top world-wide.

 

Full article @ tomshardware.com

10 Apr 2011 - The Classic Commodore 64 is back !!!

The Classic Commodore 64 is back !!!

Some fun news for retro computing fans.

Commodore have announced that they will being making a Windows 7 PC that fits inside a shell to replicate the classic Commodore 64.

It will have similar specs to a high end netbook, including an Intel Atom processor and nVidia GFX chip.

 

Article @ BBC News Website

22 Mar 2011 - Microsoft takes down another botnet

If you notice fewer prescription drug touting spam messages in your mailbox (or your quarantine folders) in the upcoming weeks, you just might have Microsoft to thank for it. Last week MS worked with US government authorities and the Pfizer pharmaceutical company to bring down the Rustock botnet, a collection of remotely controlled zombie computers that have been spewing spam (most of them unbeknownst to their owners), at the rate of up to billions of messages per day.

Want to know how they did it? Go check out the itnews Australia article.

19 Mar 2011 - Apple patches 62 bugs in massive Safari update

Apple today patched a record 62 vulnerabilities in Safari 5, updating the Mac and Windows browser to version 5.0.4.

 

Full Article @ Computerworld.

 

For Windows users, we DO NOT recommend anyone use Safari. It has a poor record on security and simply doesn't stack up against the main players (IE/Firefox/Chrome/Opera).

 

Unfortunately Apple have a naughty habit of installing this browser when you update your iTunes or other Apple software (unless you deselect it). If this is the case on your machine we suggest you remove it buy using Add/Remove programs in XP or Programs and Features in Vista/Win7

11 Mar 2011 - Google search gets personal!

Interesting post over at ZDNet. Google have just introduced the ability for you to personalise your search results by blocking sites you don't want.

Could be a useful feature!

14 Feb 2011 - Microsoft turns off Autorun in XP

Microsoft have announced that during the usual February update process they will be disabling the Autorun feature in XP.

Autorun was a nice idea, conceived at a time (along with XP) when security wasn't much of an issue.

It was designed to automatically launch software on specially crafted CDs/DVDs and other external storage devices (eg USB Memory Sticks). The user would simply insert the DVD for the new game they had just purchased and the installer would automatically run. No need to open "My Computer", find the installer and double click it yourself.

Unfortunately as the threat landscape for XP exploded, malware very quickly started to use this feature to automatically and silently install itself on users PCs whenever an infected memory stick or CD/DVD was inserted.

Microsoft addressed this in Vista and Windows 7 but until now XP had been left alone.

 

See full article @ Techrepublic

 

Nice blog about the security risk of Autorun @Techrepublic Blogs

12 Feb 2011 - Microsoft Launches Internet Explorer 9

Microsoft has officially launched it's new internet browser IE9 claiming "its web browser puts it ahead of competitors like Google and Firefox."

 

Microsoft want to bolster the IE platform to regain the ground lost to rivals like Chrome and Firefox by addressing areas where it has been traditionally perceived to weaker, namely speed.

 

IE9 also makes a big push towards increased security, privacy and standards compliance.

 

However there is one small caveat. IE9 will only work on Vista & Windows 7 clients. They are not releasing a version for XP!

 

More info @ BBC News

25 Jan 2011 - .com Domain Fake Invoice Scam

We've received another fake invoice scam this time via e-mail, sent from an address @registerservicedomains.com entitled "Registration Expiration".

The e-mail is quite obviously designed to look like a legitimate invoice, containing both invoice number and date, demanding payment for your domain.

However, read more closely and you see this is a demand for payment "to have your domain registered with a search engine"! Continue reading and you see this is then referred to as "An Offer" rather than an invoice!

This is a deceptive and disgraceful marketing practice and in our opinion borders on a scam. If you get one of these e-mail, delete it.

For an example of the e-mail click here.

 

06 Jan 2011 - ASUS fires first salvo at Apple, unveiling impressive range of Tablet PCs at CES

ASUS have announced an impressive line of 4 tablets at CES 2011 to take on the Apple iPad head on.

The range includes both 7" and 10" models, 3 running Google's Android and 1 running Windows 7.

 

After a sluggish response to the iPad from alternate hardware vendors, 2011 looks like it's going to be an interesting year for the Tablet form factor.

 

More details over @ Techrepublic

01 Jan 2011 - A New Year musing on passwords and security

I, like many other lazy users, tend to use the same (or similar) passwords for lots of different sites. Let's face it, it's convenient, remembering lots of different password for lots of different site is just a pain!

But that really isn't a good excuse, after all there is software you can use (eg AI Roboform) to remember all of your various site passwords and also enter them for you. Some browsers eg Chrome even have this functionality built in!

To enhance security AI Roboform also has a password generator that will generate a completely unique and randomised password of any length such as "ZYg91qJe3Ck" for use with a specific website.

 

So why all the interest in passwords? Well yesterday a technology bulletin site we use was hacked and it transpired that the site had stored passwords unencrypted in plain text for all to see! The hacker had effectively gained access to a common password that we use on approximately 80% of the sites we are registered with. We've therefore spent this morning changing all of our passwords to unique randomised ones. Something we wouldn't have had to do if we had used unique passwords.

 

The key point to all this is to learn from our mistakes, common passwords are convenient but also a security risk and it really doesn't take that much extra effort to have unique randomised ones.

 

Take that extra step and stay secure!

17 Dec 2010 - Christmas Holiday Closure

We will be closing for the Christmas period from 3:00pm Thursday 23rd December 2010 and will reopen at 9:00am Tuesday 4th January 2011.

 

We'd like to take this opportunity to wish all our customers and friends a very merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous new year.

24 Nov 2010 - Is the Samsung Galaxy Tab an iPad killer?

The first major tablet PC to hit the shelves since the Apple iPad debut is the Samsung Galaxy Tab.

So is it any good? Was it worth the wait? And does it surpass the iPad's shortfalls?

Well the short answer would seem to be yes! Technology journalist Deb Shinder posts an interesting review of the Galaxy Tab over at TechRepublic. Her review is particularly pertinent as she has also been an iPad owner since it's release.

She lists a handy 10 reasons why she thinks the Galaxy tab is better including such nuggets as Flash support, expandable storage, size, weight & battery life!

 

Full article @ Techrepublic

 

Of course, the Samsung is only the first in a long list of tablet PCs slated for release in the next few months.

22 Nov 2010 - Microsoft names and shames dodgy IT companies

Microsoft has published the latest "named and shamed" list of dodgy IT companies selling pirated software.

 

This is an industry problem especially with smaller and less reputable IT companies.

 

If you are worried about any software bought from a 3rd party source please contact us.

 

More details @ Microscope

20 Nov 2010 - Chrome is the browser with the most vulnerabilities

An interesting article over at cNet, according to Bit9's dirty dozen list, Chrome came top during the year for the application with the most number of high-severity vulnerabilities. Safari came in second.

 

More worryingly is that Apple software appears 3 times in the top 10, dispelling the myth that Apple is safer.

 

More details @ cNet

16 Nov 2010 - Hacker arrests lead to 50% drop in global spam

It seems as if the authorities are finally getting serious about cracking down on the organised crime behind the vast majority of spam sent.

A number of recent arrests and server closures has seen a dramatic drop in the amount of spam flowing across the internet.

Unfortunately good news like this will never last long and I'm sure new grops will appear to fill the void.

 

Full article @ BBC News

15 Nov 2010 - Internet users now being cold called by scammers!

Internet users are being cold called by organised crime gangs who 'offer' to fix viruses but then install software to steal passwords and personal information.

 

Reports of this tactic have been trickling out of security sources for a few months but cases then were few and far between. However the numbers are now rising.

 

Once again, common sense should prevail here. Always be caution of cold calls and never give an untrusted source access to your PC. Especially of you have not requested it!

 

And, of course, if you need any security advice we'd be happy to help.

 

Full scam article over @ BBC News

05 Nov 2010 - Server Upgrade Complete. **IMPORTANT INFORMATION**

The scheduled hosting server upgrade was completed around midday Tuesday.

We were initially told that the server upgrade would be completed by 9am however this was extended without prior notice to 11am, in reality we saw mail starting to flow around 10:15am.

This was a major systems upgrade, as not only the hardware was upgraded but also the server software (in this case crucially the Administrator or Control Panel). The old Control panel software, "Ensim" was replaced with a newer product called "CPanel".

 

Unfortunately with such major system changes there have been a small number of issues affecting select users. These issues revolve around the way CPanel handles the administrator username and in particular when a user administors more than one site using the same admin username.

 

If you have experienced any of the following issues please contact us immediately for remediation.

1) No mail is being received to an address, yet no errors are reported by your mail client

2) Previously protected web folder now gives "Internal Server Error"

3) OSCommerce site fails to load with a 'register globals' error

4) Unable to log into your admin panel or ftp to your site. Username or password rejected.

 

Changes

Control Panel URL

Old: MyDomain.com/admin

New: MyDomain.com/cpanel

 

Webmail URL

Old: MyDomain.com/squirrelmail

New: MyDomain.com/webmail

(you now have 3 webmail interfaces to choose from including squirrelmail)

 

Admin Username

Old: MyAdminName@MyDomain.com

New: MyAdminName

Password: unchanged

 

24 Oct 2010 - Web Server Maintenance **IMPORTANT NOTICE**

We have been informed by our hosting provider that they intend to replace our current hosting server with a brand new latest specification, higher performance one.

 

This planned maintenance is scheduled to occur between 8pm Tuesday 2nd November & 9am Wednesday 3rd November.

 

During this time they will be taking services such as email and websites offline.

Please note this affects all 4IT Hosting customers, however due to the scheduled time we do not expect this to have any real impact.

 

You do not need to take any action on this, none of your setting or services will change.

If you have any questions or concerns please let me know

 

The notification is below..

 

Your hosting account on the Delphin server is scheduled to undergo planned maintenance on the night of Tuesday 2nd November between 8PM and 9AM the following morning. During this maintenance period we will be taking services offline and websites will display a maintenance page including estimated time that the website will become available again for use.

Once this maintenance completes your website will re-active and email will deliver from the queue without you needing to do anything. IP addresses and DNS servers will NOT be changing, this maintenance is only switching you to brand new latest-specification server hardware to bring you a faster and more feature-rich service.

 

We understand that downtime is an inconvenience and very rarely have to schedule maintenance windows with downtime. This is a one-off and we feel the benefits of replacing the older hardware that your websites are on is well worth it!

 

We know you will enjoy our services even more once this essential maintenance is completed.

 

13 Oct 2010 - October 12th will see a record number of updates from Microsoft

Microsoft had a record number of security updates last June and then again in August.

Now it appears October will be yet another record breaking month, with sixteen security bulletins covering a whopping 49 vulnerabilities. Many of these affect Windows XP SP3 (remember that support has ended for XP installations that haven't been upgraded to SP3).

More details @ Microsoft

11 Oct 2010 - HMRC Scam/Phising E-Mails

We've been receiving fake HMRC e-mails for a while now, usually advising us we have a tax refund and asking us to click on a link and enter our personal details (really!!??) which will then take you to a server registered in Eastern Europe/Russia or China.

 

These e-mail are so obvious (and also so numerous) we don't usually bother to blog about them. However we received one today that caused a chuckle that we had to share!

 

The e-mail was titled "HM Refund Anual Calculation" [SIC]

 

Perhaps the scammers mis-spelling of "annual" was a Freudian slip, or perhaps they already knew where we think they should stick their spam.

 

:-)

 

08 Oct 2010 - Anonymous Caller Rejection

Following on from our trial of diverting withheld numbers to our message service, we have now decided to extend this by requesting our phone provider now reject all withheld numbers.

 

Unfortunately it has been necessary to take this action due to the increasing amount of disruptive and intrusive unsolicited sales calls, many from automated systems.

 

We don't expect this to impact any of our clients, however if you are experiencing difficulties please e-mail us at the office and we will provide you with alternate contact details for you to use.

 

02 Oct 2010 - "Download New Skype Version 2010" - Scam warning

We are seeing a large number of spam e-mails offering a "new version" of Skype called Skype 2010.

You are then directed to the "skype upgrade centre" which is actually a third party site www.skype-voip-upgrade.com registered in Russia.

 

This is a scam and it attempting to get you to pay for a service (Skype) which is essentially free.

 

If you receive one of these e-mails please delete it. Do not visit the website, do not click any links in it.

 

30 Sep 2010 - Windows 7 market share up again, Vista down, Mac OS X down. XP still king

Those nice people over at NetMarketShare have released some updated stats of operating system usage based on a survey of 160 million unique visitors to around 40,000 websites they monitor for clients.

 

In Aug, Windows 7 growth continued past Vista and Apple Mac OS X loses yet more ground.

 

Market Share percentages are as follows.,.

Win 7 : 15.87% (up from 14.46% in June),

Vista : 14.00% (down from 14.34%)

XP : 60.89% (down from61.87%)

Mac OS X : 5.00% (down from 5.06%)

 

OS versions breakdown here

 

Windows in general continues to dominate with 91.34%

Linux is down and still struggling with just 0.85%

 

Interestingly Apples iOS has shown steady growth from 0.44% in Oct 2009 to 1.13% in Aug 2010, showing the popularity of the iPhone & iPad.

25 Sep 2010 - Microsoft sounds alert on massive Web bug

Microsoft on Friday warned users that a critical bug in ASP.Net could be exploited by attackers to hijack encrypted Web sessions and pilfer usernames and passwords from Web sites.

 

The vulnerability went public that same day when a pair of researchers outlined the bug and attack techniques at the Ekoparty Security Conference in Buenos Aires.

 

According to Microsoft's advisory, the flaw exists in all versions of ASP.Net, the company's Web application framework used to craft millions of sites and applications. Microsoft will have to patch every supported version of Windows, from XP Service Pack 3 and Server 2003 to Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2, as well as other products, including its IIS and SharePoint server software.

 

It is estimated that 25% of all internet websites run on ASP.

 

Full article @Computerworld

 

Microsoft Security Advisory 2416728

10 Sep 2010 - Office Reopening - Monday 20th Sept

Just a reminder to all the the office will reopen on Monday 20th Sept from approx 1pm onward.

Once again, if you need assistance before then please e-mail us at the usual address or text my mobile phone.

Please do not leave a voice messages as any left at either the office number or on my mobile number will not be picked up untill the office reopens.

16 Aug 2010 - Summer break office closure & support arrangements

The 4IT office will be closed from Fri Aug 27th - Thurs Sept 16th.

Support will be available, as previously, via e-mail, Skype VoIP, telephone and remote access (where available). The primary method of support, as before, should be e-mail. All support e-mails will be responded to on the day of receipt starting from 2pm BST.

Please do not leave telephone messages at the office number as these will not be picked up until the office reopens.

 

E-Mail Issues

 

If you are having issues with e-mail, use your Squirrelmail web interface (4IT hosting clients only) or a third party web based e-mail account such as Hotmail to report this.

 

Internet Issues

 

In the event of loss of internet service, please ensure that you familiarise yourself with your modem / router reset instructions. Make sure you have filed a copy of your ISP's username & password and are able to re-enter these into your router should that be required. Finally should the issue still persist please direct your support requests directly to your ISP's support teams via their helpdesk telephone number. (Plus Net customers use 08451 400 200).

 

If you need assistance with any of the above, please contact me at your earliest convenience.

13 Aug 2010 - Microsot issue large batch of security updates this week

This months Microsoft Patch Tuesday was a monster! 14 Security patches covering 34 vulnerabilities in Windows, IE, Office & Silverlight.

If your systems are set to auto deliver these, keep an eye out for the Windows Update Icon notification in your task bar. If not, use the Windows Update link in your Start Menu.

 

Full article at ComputerWorld

11 Aug 2010 - Android phones hit by premium rate dialler Trojan

A malicious application (trojan) that can steal cash via phones running Google's Android operating system has been found.

 

Identical to the "porn dialler" scam that hit PC users back in the days of dial-up internet access, a rogue application quietly dials a premium rate number racking up huge phone bills for the unsuspecting owner.

 

These types of Trojan applications have already been seen for other phone platforms such as Symbian (Nokia & Sony Ericsson) and experts expect this Android Trojan to be one of many that will appear in the coming months/years.

 

As usual it is incumbent upon the user to be careful what they install on their phones. Sticking to the official application vendors (Nokia Ovi Store, Google Android Marketplace etc..) is one way to achieve this.

 

Full article @ BBC

07 Aug 2010 - Join us on Facebook

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Are you on Facebook? Then why not come and join us. Click on the icon to go directly to our page or serch for us from within Facebook.

06 Aug 2010 - Zeus malware targets UK online banking users

A network of thousands of compromised computers that is being used to harvest online banking details has been uncovered in the UK.

 

The so-called botnet is made up of around 100,000 machines, according to researchers in Israel. Cyber criminals in Eastern Europe, who have control of the machines, are collecting personal data from the PCs.

 

Full article @ BBC

 

If you are concerned about your pc security we would be happy to review it for you.

06 Aug 2010 - Google Wave flops and is quietly abandoned

Google Wave, the new messaging platform launched last year to much fanfare has been quietly dropped following poor uptake.

 

If you were unaware of Wave, upon launch Google described it as "how e-mail would look if it were invented today". It combined e-mail, instant messaging and features that allowed people to collaborate on documents in real-time.

 

Full article @ BBC

 

It is somewhat refreshing to see even Google, the company with the midas touch, can get something quite wrong.

05 Aug 2010 - Windows 7 market share up, Vista down, Mac OS X down. XP still reigns supreme

Those nice people over at NetMarketShare have released some interesting stats of operating system usage based on a survey of 160 million unique visitors to around 40,000 websites they monitor for clients.

 

In July Windows 7 has now managed to surge past Vista, but suprisingly Apple's Mac OS X has lost ground for the fourth consecutive month.

 

Market Share percentages are as follows.,.

Win 7 : 14.46% (up from 13.70% in June),

Vista : 14.34% (down from 14.68%)

XP : 61.87% (down from 62.43%)

Mac OS X : 5.06% (down from 5.16%)

 

Windows in general continues to dominate with 91.32%

Linux is still struggling with just 0.93%

 

So what does this tell us?

 

The market share movement within the different versions of Windows is entirely understandable. The new kid on the block, Windows 7 is stealing market share off both it's older siblings, the not very well received Vista and the old faithful XP. These trends will continue.

 

Linux is just too specialised and technical for general usage, but what is going on with Apple's Mac OS X? They were 'hip', 'cool' & their market share had been steadily increasing, why are they now losing all that?

 

I think there are a few reasons why the tide seems to have turned.

 

1) Windows 7

Apple Mac OS X benefitted from the bad publicity surrounding Vista and successfully launched the somewhat cocky and arrogant Mac Guy vs. PC Guy adverts in the US to exploit this. By replacing Vista with Windows 7, Microsoft has effectively neutralised this attack.

 

2) Laziness

The latest iteration of OS X, Snow Leopard was just lazy. Mac fans have acknowledged that there just wasn't much new and exciting, and those features that were new were things that good old Windows has had for a long time: 64 bit support, better Exchange support, the ability to restore deleted files from the Trash, automatic updates for printer drivers, the ability to have the date appear alongside the time in the menu bar ... all of these are features touted as "new" on the Apple web site. It also includes a built-in anti-malware program, although Apple doesn't advertise that much since they want to perpetuate the myth that Macs don't get malware.

 

3) Cost

OS X machines cost significantly more than their Windows counterparts, especially when you look at laptops. Is that MacBook really worth 4 times the cost of a Windows 7 Acer or Dell?

 

4) iPhone / iPad

Apple seem to be concentrating their efforts on their new iOS platforms. Has Steve Jobs, et al, abandoned OS X in favour of their new darling, iOS?

 

5) Reputation

Did Apple hurt its reputation in the desktop market with the increasingly mean-spirited "I'm a Mac and I'm a PC" commercials, not to mention it's poor handling of "antennagate"?

 

05 Aug 2010 - Still using XP? Move your entire XP install into a Win7 VM with Paragon Go Virtual!

Would you like to be using Microsoft Windows 7, but are sticking with Windows XP because you have been using it for close to 10 years and have a lot invested in it? Well, what if I told you that you could easily move your existing Windows XP system to a virtual machine that you could then run in Windows 7? Well you can, with Paragon Go Virtual - and the best part is that it won't cost you a penny.

 

Paragon Go Virtual is a conversion tool that creates virtual machines which can be run by VMware Workstation/Player or VMware Fusion on a Mac, Microsoft Virtual PC, or Oracle VirtualBox. The software comes in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions and in addition to converting Windows XP into a virtual machine, it can also convert Windows 2000, Windows Vista, and Windows 7.

 

Full Article @ Techrepublic

03 Aug 2010 - Smartphone makers fight back over Steve Jobs slur

For those of you following the news, Apple have had some bad publicity lately regarding it's new iPhone4 and poor antenna performance for some owners when the phone is held normally.

Apple's initial denials and poor response quickly caused it to spiral in to a major PR disaster dubbed "antennagate"!

 

Incapable of admitting they got it wrong and seemingly to try and deflect the attention from Apple, on Friday, during the "antennagate" press conference, Apple's Steve Jobs dragged a number of other smartphone makers into his world of woe.

 

He targeted Blackberry makers RIM, HTC & Samsung, with verbal references also made about Nokia claiming all these phones also suffered from the same issue.

 

Unsurprisingly the other manufacturers were none too pleased at being dragged in to Apple's mire and have hit back via various blogs and websites.

 

Full article @ BBC

 

For a company with Apple's marketing savvy and image awareness it's amazing just how badly they have played this. Standing up in front of your users and pointing the finger at your competitors when you should be just apologising is very poor indeed.

03 Aug 2010 - Microsoft releases out-of-band patch for critical bug

Microsoft has issued a "critical" security update to fix a flaw in the way Windows handles shortcuts.

The bug allowed attackers to craft booby-trapped shortcuts that allow them to take over a target computer, and was publicly disclosed a few weeks ago.

 

Legitimate users should get this update via Windows Update.

 

News article @ BBC

 

Microsoft Security Bulletin MS10-046 - Critical here

 

Microsoft Security Advisory (2286198) here

 

Microsoft critical patch discussion here

29 Jul 2010 - Google plugs 'high risk' Chrome security holes

Google has shipped a new version of its Chrome browser to fix three high-risk security holes that expose web surfers to malicious hacker attacks.

 

In addition to the security patches the Google Chrome 5.0.375.125 update also includes workarounds for two critical vulnerabilities

 

Full article @ZDnet

26 Jul 2010 - Apple the new world leader in software insecurity

Apple has displaced Oracle as the company with the most security vulnerabilities in its software, according to security company Secunia. Over the first half of 2010, Apple had more reported flaws than any other vendor. Microsoft retains its third-place spot. Secunia has tracked security vulnerabilities and issues advisories since 2002, producing periodic reports on the state of software. Together, the top ten vendors account for some 38% of all flaws reported.

 

Full article @ ars technica

22 Jul 2010 - Firefox addresses problems for Win7 users

Firefox have release the latest version of their browser (v3.6.7). As well as the usual security fixes, it addresses several problems that were occurring with FireFox on Windows 7, including a memory leak issue and some Win7 taskbar issues.

More details over @ ghacks.net

 

If you are using this browser on Windows 7 we recommend you download the upgrade.

02 Jul 2010 - Hackers target Microsoft Windows XP support system

Hi-tech criminals are "escalating" attacks on an unpatched bug in the Windows XP help and support system.

 

The problem was discovered by Google engineer Travis Ormandy, however, controversially he told Microsoft of his findings only 4 days before publically releasing the full details of the bug.

 

Travis Ormandy's decision to publish this without giving Microsoft the necessary time to research and patch it has brought into question Google's cooperate motto of "Don't be evil", and now these attacks are escalating rapidly, his (and Google's) actions seem to have put millions of XP users around the world at risk. One really has to question the motive of Google for this.

 

The loophole revolves around the Help and Support system built into XP. Mr Ormandy found that it was possible to exploit its ability to give remote aid and apply fixes to ailing machines.

 

While a patch is being worked on, Microsoft have advised users to turn off the part of the Help and Support system that is vulnerable. It has produced an automated tool that can do this for users.

 

More details on the news story at BBC News

 

More details on the attacks @ Microsoft malware Protection Centre

 

Details of the flaw and work around @ Microsoft Security Advisory (2219475)

 

Automated Fix tool to disable help service @ Microsoft Help and Support (2219475)

30 Jun 2010 - Microsoft Internet Explorer 8 Vs Google Chrome

There's been a lot of interest and hype surrounding Google's new browser Chrome, lots of comments and opinions that it's better, faster, safer etc. than IE8.

 

So to try and sort out the truth from the myth, I decided to install Chrome as an additional browser about 3 weeks ago, leaving IE8 as my default. I'll admit the decision was partly motivated by my experiencing problems with the new Adobe flash player in IE8. (I'm blaming Adobe!)

 

I've been using Chrome for some of the sites I've experienced difficulties with and IE8 for others, and my conclusions are fairly ambivalent.

 

I consider it an alternative browser, with its own strengths and weaknesses, and really no better or worse than IE8. I've had it crash on me a few times (as has IE8) but for the most part it's stable (as is IE8)

Whilst I'm having these flash/IE8 problems, I'll continue to use it on some sites, but I'm keeping IE8 as my default.

 

Whether you chose to use it or not (or any other browser) is really down to personal preference, don't be swayed by the belief you will have a better/faster or safer web experience as you will essentially be taking a sideways step.

30 May 2010 - Tempted by the iPad? Wait for the iTablet

We've blogged about the iPad before, a promising looking device that is totally let down by the poor functionality, iPod touch OS and the usual Apple restrictions and Apple Store lock in.

Stand aside for the iTablet. the latest announcement from UK Based PC manufacturer X2 Computing. And from the press release, the iTablet is everything the iPad fails to be.

The iTablet runs Windows 7 but can also run Linux, Supports multitasking, has Flash support (of course), 250GB internal storage, a 10.2" or 12.1" screen, Wifi, Bluetooth 2.1, a 1.3Megapixel built-in webcam and a cluster of USB2 sockets thrown in for good measure. Customers can als upgrade the iTablet with an optional 3G & GSM for cellular data and voice capability.

Then, finally to seal the deal It will be available in a range of solid and metallic colours including white, grey, pink, blue, red, yellow and black.

 

Wow.

 

Suddenly the tablet pc form factor matures into a useful platform. I know what will be on my wish list this christmas!

 

More details over at X2 Computing

22 May 2010 - Microsoft Warns Of Hole In Winows 7 x64 and Server 2008 R2 x64

Microsoft have issued an advisory on a bug affecting 64-bit Win7 and Windows Server 2008 R2.

Now although the bug itself is fairly low risk (on Microsoft scale of 1-3 where 1 is High, they class this as a 3), this grabbed our attention as it specifically affects the 64bit platform.

We're big fans of the 64bit platform. In our experience, 64bit has shown itself to be more secure, more stable and have superior performance when running on modern hardware (especially when you have more than 4GB RAM).

If this risk concerns you can mitigate it by deactivating Aero until Microsoft fix the problem.

 

More details over @ Microsoft

05 May 2010 - Trojan impersonates Adobe update, targets XP machines

Malware creators have put out a nasty Trojan that masquerades as an Adobe Acrobat / Reader update, with icons and other information that are identical to a real Adobe update.

Those XP users who are tricked into installing it can find themselves in a world of trouble, as it can be used to steal account and password credentials or other information from the computer. It affects XP and earlier versions of Windows.

27 Apr 2010 - Important information for Windows XP users

If you're still using Windows XP, it's important to upgrade to Service Pack 3 before July 13, 2010, because support for SP2 ends then and you will no longer get security updates unless you upgrade.

You can find information on how to get and install SP3, as well as links to detailed information about the service pack, in KB article 936929 at Microsoft

23 Apr 2010 - McAfee update cripples XP machines worldwide

McAfee latest virus definitions to it's corporate Av product is causing widespread Blue Screen Of Death (BSOD) to XP SP3 users.

 

This is not the first clanger McAfee have dropped and as such I am still not a real fan of their products.

 

We are still recommending Sunbelt Software Vipre Enterprise for our business users and either one of the following free products for our home users; AVG Free, Microsoft Security Essentials or Commodo Internet Security.

 

More details of the McAfee story over at ZDNet.

 

If you require any assistance or any advice please contact us. www.4-it.co.uk

21 Apr 2010 - Warnings as Zeus banking virus returns.

A virus that steals online banking details from infected computer users has returned and is more powerful than ever, warns a web security firm.

 

Trusteer has spotted the Zeus virus increasingly infecting the 5.5m conputers it monitors.

 

Further details over at the BBC News site.

 

If you require any security advice or believe you may be infected by malware, please contact us at www.4-it.co.uk

30 Mar 2010 - All platforms and browsers are vulnerable to attack.

The latest Pwn2Own hacker contest was a sobering event for those people who are complacent to security.

If you thought that you should upgrade to Windows 7 because that will protect you from attacks, or believe that Macs can't be hacked or don't get viruses or even been told that IE is insecure and you'll be safe if you just use Firefox? Well you're wrong!

 

Pwn2Own showed us that all operating systems and all web browsers are vulnerable to attack. Security researchers quickly exploited an updated iPhone, a Macbook, a 64 bit Windows 7 system, and all of the popular web browsers.

 

For those of us in the industry this is no surprise. Software is a complicated business (approx 4 million lines of code in Windows!) and no matter how hard you try, no software will ever be 100% secure. Period!

 

The danger lies in people's complacency when they believe their platform to be superior and invulnerable, usually to their detriment.

 

More details on Pwn2Own at The Inquirer

24 Mar 2010 - Microsoft end support for some windows versions soon.

Microoft is ending support for some versions of Windows soon.

 

Support for Windows Vista without any service packs will end on April 13, 2010.

Support for Windows XP with Service Pack 2 (SP2) will end on July 13, 2010.

 

Users running one of these versions after support ends, won't get any future security updates.

 

We recommend that ALL XP users should have now installed Service Pack 3, likewise Vista users should have now installed Service Pack 2.

 

If anyone needs any assistance with these items please let us know. 4IT Systems

15 Mar 2010 - Are Google about to do the right thing?

According to the Financial Times, Google is 99.9 percent sure it will close Google.cn.

In January, Google said that it was attacked from within China. From there, Google said that it would stop censoring its search results and has stuck to that position.

The Chinese government has recently hardened it's position, making Google's withdrawal all the more likely.

More details @ zdnet

11 Mar 2010 - Tiscali fights for life after UK sale collapse

Tiscali, Britain's fifth-biggest internet provider, is fighting for survival after asking its banks to suspend its loan repayments.

Full article @ The Times Online

11 Mar 2010 - Is Microsoft about to make the same mistake as Apple ?

When Apple recently launched the iPad, I blogged about why I (and many others) didn't think it was very good. The primary reason was the decision to install a phone operating system on the device instead of a fully fledged, and more useful, OS. Particularly when compared to other market tablets running full versions of Windows 7.

However a news article over at Engadget has some details on the upcoming Microsoft Courier 'digital journal' tablet.

 

The report says the device is under an inch thick, weighs about 1.3 pounds, and is about 5x7 when closed. The device is built on the Tegra 2 chip, and will run on Windows CE 6/Windows Phone 7.

 

I'm again disappointed by the choice of OS, and am now seriously doubting the usefulness of these devices. Are we not just going to get an oversized Windows Mobile Phone (or iPod Touch in the case of the iPad)?

08 Mar 2010 - Browser Wars : Chrome gains share at Firefox's expense

Browser Wars : Chrome gains share at Firefox's expense

Google's Chrome browser has continued to gain market share, but unusually, instead of eating into Microsoft's IE market share, it seems to be at the expense of Mozilla's Firefox which has slipped back roughly 4 percentage points.

 

IE is still by far the most popular browser.

 

My interpretation of these latest figures is that there seems to be a small core of users who sit in the "anything but IE" camp. These are the users that, in the past, jumped on to Firefox as the best viable alternative, but are now defecting over to Chrome.

 

Chrome has had a mixed reception in the industry. Some reports suggest that it has better performance than IE in certain circumstances, however other reports suggest it does not adhere to the latest HTML standards as well as IE8.

 

Either way, competition is a good thing. If Chrome's gain in market share forces Microsoft to think more about performance with its next browser then ultimately we are all winners.

 

Latest market share stats are here.

26 Feb 2010 - Microsoft warns against Security Essentials 2010 !

Scammers using an old trick are peddling fake anti virus software with a similar name to a legitimate Microsoft Product.

 

The legitimate product from Microsoft is called Microsoft Security Essentials, It's free and can be downloaded directly from the Microsoft website here.

 

The fake product is called Security Essentials 2010.

 

More details at the windowsclub.com.

 

If you believe you have been fooled into installing this or any other fake security software, and are unable to remove it, please let us know.

11 Feb 2010 - iPad? iDontThinkSo!

Unless you've been living under a rock it would have hard to miss the usual hype around Apple's latest "magical, incredible, awesome, extraordinary" slate-style computer, the iPad. At least, those were the words that Steve Jobs used to describe the device in his keynote at the January 27th Apple event in San Francisco.

 

Whoa there Steve, it's just a tablet PC and tablet PCs have been around for a decade. Microsoft brought out Windows XP Tablet Edition in 2001. A Linux-based tablet device called the ProGear WebPad was around even before that.

 

There was a plethora of Windows based Tablet PCs shown at this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in early January. At that show, Steve Ballmer unveiled HP's slate device, which runs Windows 7, the Archos 7 is an Android-based tablet, whereas the Archos 9 is a Windows 7 tablet that's already available now. Dell's Mini 5 and Notion Ink's Adam are also Android-based tablets.

(As a side note, Apple refused to use CES to launch their iPad as they would not have been the centre of attention, hence the Apple only launch event 2 weeks later)

 

However if you compare the specs on these new tablets, you will quickly wonder exactly what's supposed to be so special about the iPad. Many of its competitors run full-fledged Windows or Linux operating systems with which you can do anything you would do on a Windows or Linux notebook computer, whereas the iPad runs the iPhone OS. You could say the iPad isn't really a tablet computer at all; it's a very large iPod Touch. And of course that also means that you are locked into the iTunes store for apps.

 

But the most glaring shortfall in the iPad is the lack of multitasking. The Windows, Linux and Android tablets all support multi-tasking (something we all expect out of our computers). Apple's choice of using the iPhone OS excludes this capability

 

So where does this leave us?

As with all Apple "proclamations" you have to look beyond the hype and 'cool' factor and examine the underlying specs, and as with the original iPhone, the iPad is long on looks but short on capabilities especially when compared with its market rivals.

 

However, tablet PCs have been slow to take off, perhaps the hype Apple is bringing to the sector will be just the kick in the pants it needs.

 

04 Feb 2010 - Withheld Numbers / Unsolicited Sales Calls

Due to the increasing number of intrusive and disruptive unsolicited sales calls, we have taken the decision to divert all incoming calls from withheld numbers directly to answer phone.

 

We're are confident that this will have no effect on our customers, however if your telephone systems are set up to withhold your number, please override this when calling us or contact us for alternative arrangements.

04 Feb 2010 - Experts weigh in on Mac vs. PC security

There's an interesting article over at cNet which has a number of interviews from independent security professionals regarding the Mac vs Pc security debate. (Click on the cNet link for the full article)

 

Whilst there some obvious answers like "Windows has the bigger market share and so is the most favoured target" there are also some very interesting quotes, such as..

 

"Far more relevant to me are the browser and e-mail clients a consumer is using, irrespective of the operating system or hardware platform. Even more critical from a safety standpoint is the level of security awareness exhibited by that consumer. If you haphazardly visit every link and download every file sent to you in e-mail or posted to your social-networking pages, sooner or later you're going to get nailed. Period. Platforms are passe. Apps are where it's at."

 

So to Paraphrase...

It's not the Operating System, it's the user and the applications they run that are the main problems now.

 

It's a bit brutal but a fair and accurate point.

01 Feb 2010 - Domain Renewal Group / Domain Registry of America annual warning (.com domains)

This is our yearly reminder warning to all our customers who own .com domains to be on the lookout for a fake invoice / renewal notice from a company calling itself Domain Registry of America or Domain Renewal Group.

 

This "invoice" for your .com renewal is actual a disguised transfer request to transfer your domain to them.

The look of the "invoice" is intended to deceive, and as such demonstrates the disgraceful marketing tactics this company uses in trying to trick you into using their services.

 

If you receive one of these letters please bin it.

 

Remember, if you have registered your domain THROUGH US, you will receive your renewal notice/invoice FROM US and no one else!

27 Jan 2010 - Download Adobe PDF 2010 E-Mail Scam Alert

We are receiving e-mails offering free downloads of "Adobe PDF 2010".

The e-mail contains a link which will take you to a download location that is NOT the official Adobe site.

 

PDF 2010 is not a legitimate Adobe product. This e-mail is fake and users should NOT follow the link it contains. It will almost certainly lead to a malware or scam site.

 

If you wish to update your adobe software, visit the adobe site directly by typing www.adobe.com into your browser address bar.

23 Jan 2010 - Microsoft issues out-of-band update to Google/China IE vulnerability

Microsoft has responded quickly to plug the security hole in it's IE browser hightlighted by the recent Chinese state sponsored hacking attack on Google's G-Mail service.

 

Users should have received the update via Automatic Updates. If you have not yet received this update, please launch windows update/microsoft update found in your program menu.

19 Jan 2010 - WARNING Some customers experiencing targeted phishing attacks

We're issuing a warning to all of our customers / domain holders to be extra vigilant of a phishing e-mail that both we and some of our customers have received.

 

The e-mail is obviously not from us as it is both impersonal and lacking our cooperate colours which we use on all e-mails.

 

If you receive such an e-mail please delete it.

 

A copy of the phishing e-mail we received is below.

 

Dear user of the 4-it.co.uk mailing service!

 

We are informing you that because of the security upgrade of the mailing service your mailbox (sales@4-it.co.uk) settings were changed. In order to apply the new set of settings click on the following link:

 

http://4-it.co.uk/owa/service_directory/settings.php?..... [link removed for security reasons]

 

Best regards, 4-it.co.uk Technical Support.

 

Message ID#222BN23OCB4EZO805UQI0L8PS99W088

18 Jan 2010 - Germany and France issue IE warning

Germany and France have taken the unusual steps of issuing a warning to it's users to stop using Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser and to find an alternative.

 

This is a result of the recent Chinese state sponsored hack of Google's G-Mail system using a flaw the sophisticated hackers found in IE 6, 7 & 8.

 

There are problems with this approach however. IE is a popular target because it's a popular browser. These discovered flaws to not equate to the browser being any less secure than it's rivals. (Apple's Safari is notoriously poor when it comes to security) And by simply asking large populations to swap browsers you are increasing the popularity of rival browsers and therefore making them a more tempting target.

 

Since every browser has security issues, what you end up doing is swapping one set of risks for another whilst lulling yourself into a false sense of security.

 

That's hardly progress!

 

Microsoft are working on a fix for this and it looks like they may not wait until Feb's patch tuesday to issue it but may do it sooner.

16 Jan 2010 - info@4-it.co.uk mail account being closed

Due to an increasing amount of spam we are receiving on this account, plus the fact we rarely use it, we have decided to close the info@ account from today.

The sales@ account and personal named e-mail accounts remain open as usual.

04 Jan 2010 - Phone / Fax fault **UPDATE**

This issue have been partially resolved and we now have working land line phones, however the fax service is still unavailable and may not be up for some time.

03 Jan 2010 - Phone / Fax fault

Due to a line fault we currently have no land line phone or fax service.

If you need to contact us please use either e-mail or mobile number if you have it.

 

I will post an update when this is resolved.

 

Regards

 

Mark

30 Dec 2009 - Broken news links fixed

Due to an unnoticed encoding error, all external links in the news blog web pages were broken. This has now been resolved and all links now work as expected.

 

This encoding error did not affect the RSS feed.

30 Dec 2009 - Top 10 lists... The Best Of...

The good folks over at TechRepublic like publishing their top 10 lists.. so here's a sample from this year (2009)

 

(All lists are in PDF format, click link to open in browser or right click and 'save as' to save to your machine. Free PDF reader can be downloaded from Adobe)

 

10 free Microsoft programs worth checking out

10+ IT pros share the utilities and tools they can't live without

10+ Microsoft Office add-ins to simplify your work

10 seriously annoying default configurations

10 common issues you can fix with a registry hack

10 reasons Vista haters will love Windows 7

10 ways to detect computer malware

10 cool tools in Windows 7

 

Some of these lists are for beginners, some for more advanced users. If you are unsure about any of the tips in these lists don't undertake them.

23 Dec 2009 - 10 email scams to watch out for

Techrepublic have a great article detailing 10 e-mail scams to watch out.

The summary is as follows..

 

1: Fake Facebook "friend" messages

2: Fake admin messages

3: Fear-mongering messages

4: Account cancellation scams

5: Bogus holiday cards

6: Phantom packages

7: Threats from the government

8: Census survey says...

9: In Microsoft (or Apple or Dell or HP) we trust

10: You're a winner!

 

For more details on each scam read the full article @ Techrepublic

 

22 Dec 2009 - Christmas Holiday Office Times

Please note the office will be closing at 1pm Wednesday 23rd December and will reopen on Monday 4th Jan 2010.

For those customers opening over the Christmas / New Year week, a skeleton support service will be available if needed.

 

We would like to take this opportunity to wish all of our customers and friends a very merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and prosperous new year.

 

05 Dec 2009 - VIPRE Receives VB100 Award

In the latest comparatives testing by the world's premier AV lab 'Virus Bulletin', VIPRE received the VB100 award in its first time entering, tested on Windows 7! It does not happen very often that a product that enters the VB100 gets awarded on its first try.

 

VIPRE now having this certification shows again the quality of this next-generation architecture.

03 Dec 2009 - Fake H1N1 (Swine Flu) alerts lead to malware

Malicious hackers are using fake alerts around H1N1 (Swine Flu) vaccines to trick end users into installing malware on Windows computers, according to warnings issued by computer security firms.

 

The latest malware campaign begins with e-mail messages offering information regarding the H1N1 vaccination. The e-mail messages contain a link to a bogus Centers for Disease Control and Prevention site with prompts to create a user profile. During this process, a malware file gets planted on the user's machine.

 

More details @ ZDNet

 

Once again we suggest all users be cautious with e-mail and not to open unexpected e-mails from unknown sources.

03 Dec 2009 - Windows 7 market share surpasses ALL Mac OSX versions in first month of sales.

A month after its release, Windows 7 passed ALL versions of Mac OS X in market share, up to 5.07% as compared to Mac's 5.00% for the week of November 15-21. Of course, if you compared it to Apple's latest version only (Snow Leopard), Windows 7 would be way out ahead.

Windows 7 sales have been good, even in a bad economy, and its share has steadily increased since its release. According to Steve Ballmer, Windows 7 has sold twice as many copies as any other Microsoft OS in the same time span.

 

Full article @ PCWorld.com

02 Dec 2009 - "Black Screen of Death" update. Microsoft Update NOT the cause.

Microsoft have confirmed that the so called "Black screen of death" issue some users are experiencing is NOT due to it's latest security update.

 

In a blog posting on its security site, Microsoft said that it had investigated the claims and "found that our November Security Updates are not making changes to the system that these reports say are responsible for these issues".

 

The firm said that the behaviour was associated with malware, such as Daonol, and that this was probably the root cause.

 

Full details @ BBC News Site

 

Software firm Prevx who first pointed the finger of blame at Microsoft over this have had to issue an apology to Microsoft on their website.

01 Dec 2009 - Windows "Black Screen Of Death"

Reports are coming in about a possible issue with one of the Microsoft security updates issued around Nov 10th.

However the internet rumour mill is reaching hysterical fever pitch including a feature on BBC Radio 1 news so here's the facts as we know them!

Unfortunately called the 'Black Screen Of Death', this issue seems to revolve around a change Microsoft made to some Access Control Lists (ACL's) which, when you restart your machine, prevents your desktop from being drawn correctly. Windows XP, Vista & 7 are all reportedly equally affected however Microsoft have NOT yet confirmed this as a real issue and are currently 'investigating'.

 

This does NOT compare with a Blue Screen of Death which is a true system crash.

 

We, at 4IT have NOT experienced this issue nor do we have ANY reports that this has affected any of our customers.

 

For more details including a work around and possible fix check out PCWorld.com

29 Nov 2009 - New Case Studies Uploaded

We have uploaded new case studies here.

 

These case studies demonstrate real world examples of our competencies.

24 Nov 2009 - Exploit published for critical IE 7 flaw

Exploit code for a critical (remotely exploitable) vulnerability in Microsoft's Internet Explorer 7 browser has been released on the Internet, prompting a new round "upgrade now!" warnings from computer security experts.

 

Article @ ZDNet

 

We strongly recommend that all our customers upgrade their browser to IE8

 

You can download IE8 for free from Microsoft here

24 Nov 2009 - New iPhone worm more serious that first thought

A second worm to hit the iPhone has been unearthed by security company F-Secure.

 

It is specifically targeting people in the Netherlands who are using their iPhones for internet banking with Dutch online bank ING.

 

It redirects the bank's customers to a lookalike site with a log-in screen.

 

Full article @ BBC News

19 Nov 2009 - Wndows 7 adoption outdoing Vista

According to reports from Net Applications, which tracks which operating systems are being used by Internet users, Windows 7 already has a market share that took five months for Vista to attain. It seems most of the new Windows 7 users are coming from Windows XP, although Vista's share is also on a downward path. Interestingly, Mac OS X's share dropped, too, while Linux was up by a fraction of a percentage point.

More details @ Computerworld

18 Nov 2009 - Thousands of web sites compromised, redirect to scareware

Security researchers have detected a massive blackhat SEO campaign consisting of over 200,000 compromised web sites, all redirecting to fake security software commonly referred to as scareware.

 

More details over @

 

Once again we recommend that users DO NOT download anything from the internet unless it's from a trusted source. Be especially wary of "security" software as this is often bogus.

11 Nov 2009 - Twitter fishing attacks and Major Site Spreading Little-Detected Malware

Web security firm Websense is reporting that the servers of web advertiser media-servers.net have been compromised and are serving visitors malicious code that exploits Microsoft and Adobe vulnerabilities. Thousands of sites have been compromised over several months with the result that visitors get served an auto-loading script.

Under websense testing, out of 40 AV suites only 2 detected the malicious file, one of those being our reccomended product "Vipre" by Sunbelt Software.

More details @ Computer Weekly

 

There is a Twitter phishing campaign going on but we know many others have found some more nefarious tricks in the Twitter sector. We have been getting some strange direct messages that when you click on the link go to a malware site. Per Twitter, "We've seen a few phishing attempts today; if you've received a strange (direct message), and it takes you to a Twitter log-in page, don't do it!"

What you should do it use the "Block and report as Spam" facility on twitter to report the user.

 

...and finally, if you think your friends with Apple Macs don't have security problems, you would be wrong. Recently Apple dropped a mega-patch to cover whopping 58 documented vulnerabilities affecting the Mac OS X ecosystem.

More details @ ZDNet

10 Nov 2009 - November Security update

Here's a brief update of all the current security threats we think you should be aware of.

 

Threat level remains at Elevated.

All is rather peaceful in cyberland comparatively speaking. That means it is a good time to make sure your computer is up to date with all its necessary patches, definitions, etc. Today (November 10) is Microsoft patch Tuesday and we are told there will be six updates, four for Windows (Win2K, XP, Vista as well as Server '03 and '08) and two for Office. Important note: Adobe is recommending that users upgrade their Shockwave Player to version 11.5.2.602 multiple vulnerabilities that can lead to execution of arbitrary code have been reported in 11.5.1.601 and earlier.

 

SPAM.

A couple of spam campaigns to watch out for include a fake tool for automatically generating invitations for Google Wave and it is trojanized. There is a Twitter phishing campaign where users get "change your password" message and on the "What me worry" front a fake FDIC alert that your bank has failed. So look out for those.

 

This Week's Top 10 Spyware Threats.

1. Trojan.Win32.Generic!BT: Trojan

2. Trojan.Win32.Generic!SB.0: Trojan

3. Trojan-Spy.Win32.Zbot.gen: Trojan

4. Exploit.PDF-JS.Gen (v): Exploit

5. Trojan.Win32.Vundo.Gen.2 (v): Trojan

6. Trojan.Win32.Malware: Trojan

7. Trojan.ASF.Wimad (v): Trojan

8. VirTool.Win32.Obfuscator.XZ (v): Trojan

9. INF.Autorun (v): Trojan

10. Packed.Win32.Tdss.Gen (v): Backdoor

 

 

More details @ Sunbelt

29 Oct 2009 - Facebook Warns of New Viruses [Alert]

Facebook is warning it's users to beware of 2 virus e-mails doing the rounds purporting to be from Facebook and asking you to "reset" your account using the attachment.

 

It's somewhat sad that Facebook needs to remind it's users in this fashion. These types of phishing e-mails all use the same Modus operandi and should therefore be instantly spottable to the informed end user.

 

Alas these scams continue to trap the less-than-careful user so yet another warning has to go out.

 

When will all users realise that there is a minimum skill set required before using the internet. Being able to spot such obvious scams is lesson #1!

 

More details @ Mashable.com

28 Oct 2009 - Postal Strike and Invoice Payments

As the postage strike bites, we would encourage all of our customers who are already not doing so, to use BACS when settling their invoices.

Please remember, if you have a renewal coming up it is important that we receive your cleared payment before the renewal date to avoid disruption of service.

 

27 Oct 2009 - Take the pain out of a reformat and reinstall

I am a fan of occasionally wiping a machine, reformatting and reinstalling the OS. Especially with XP. After a few years of heavy use including installing and removing lots of beta applications, the operating system would often be in a less than perfect state with lots of little "faults" that were seemingly insolvable.

As we use our servers for data & e-mail storage, wiping the OS and starting again with a fresh install was the simplest and quickest option.

One of the pains with this was reinstalling all of our old applications which could take a good few hours.

Well, here's at least a partial solution to that problem: it's called Ninite and it contains a catalog of popular free software programs. You simply check the boxes for the ones you want and it will automatically install them all without any help from you (choosing default settings and refusing add-ons).

You can even suggest any applications they have missed off.

More @ Ninite Website

26 Oct 2009 - Twitter 'costs businesses £1.4bn'

..well not just Twitter but social networking sites in particular.

The basics of this report is the amount of time employees are wasting online whilst at work. It's not a new thing, before social networking site, employees found many other site to waste their time on.

Full report @

22 Oct 2009 - Nokia suing Apple over the iPhone

Nokia, the world's biggest mobile phone maker, has said that it is suing its US rival Apple for infringing patents on mobile phone technology for the iPhone.

Nokia said it had not been compensated for its technology, and accused Apple of "trying to get a free ride on the back of Nokia's innovation".

The ten alleged patent infringements involve wireless data, speech coding, security, and encryption.

 

21 Oct 2009 - 4-it.co.uk E-Mail issues (Wed 21 Oct)

Apologies for any late replies to e-mails sent to us today. During some routine server maintenance our e-mail retrieval service managed to switch off and this wasn't noticed until around 5pm. The situation was rectified and mail is now flowing as usual.

22 Oct 2009 - Windows 7 is here !

The official release day for Windows 7 has finally arrived. Windows 7 is now available to buy retail or pre-installed on a new PC.

I'm not going to harp on even more about Win 7 as I know I've already posted quite a few of my "musings" about it already.

Needless to say, I'm a big fan!

If you have any questions about Windows 7, get in touch!

15 Oct 2009 - Consider donating your computer's spare processing power to a worthy cause.

Today's computers are orders of magnitude more powerful that the computers that put man on the moon in 1969. Yet most users barely use all this processing power at their fingertips.

Everyday tasks like internet browsing and e-mailing use only a tiny fraction of the processing power at your fingertips, so why not consider donating the spare capacity of your machine to a worthy cause via the BOINC project?

The most popular and well known cause is the SETI@Home project, which uses donated computer cycles to search through astronomical data looking for signs of ET. But there are many more..

 

Check out the article "12 Worthy Causes Seek Your Spare PC Cycles" over @ PCWorld.com

14 Oct 2009 - Apple OSX Snow Leopard users experience massive data loss.

Seems like a serious bug has hit Apple users.

Reports are surfacing about users experiencing serious and massive data losses when logging on to the guest account with their machines recently upgraded to Snow Leopard.

 

Users have in some cases lost their entire main profile, including sites, pictures, videos and documents.

 

More details @ BBC Website

 

I'm sure Microsoft, who are often at the raw end of Apple's rather mean sprirted attacks, are chuckling away at this one!

13 Oct 2009 - Adobe warns of yet ANOTHER critical security flaw in Acrobat 7, 8 & 9

Adobe Systems Inc. late Thursday issued an alert saying that hackers are exploiting a newly-discovered vulnerability in its free PDF Reader and Acrobat products to break into Microsoft Windows systems.

 

Adobe said it plans to release a patch to fix this vulnerability next Tuesday, in keeping with its recent shift to push out security updates in tandem with Microsoft's regular monthly patch cycle, which occurs on the second Tuesday of each month (a.k.a. "Patch Tuesday").

 

According to the Adobe advisory, the company is planning to release an update for Adobe Reader 9.1.3 and Acrobat 9.1.3, Adobe Reader 8.1.6 and Acrobat 8.1.6 for Windows, Macintosh and UNIX, and Adobe Reader 7.1.3 and Acrobat 7.1.3 for Windows and Macintosh to resolve critical security issues.

 

More details @ Washington Post

13 Oct 2009 - Criminals post thousands of stolen Hotmail, Yahoo & G-Mail account details online.

In one of the largest seen phishing attacks, thousands of stolen webmail account details (usernames/passwords) have been posted online. The details cover both Hotmail, Yahoo & G-Mail.

We strongly recommend that ALL users of these services change their password immediately.

More @ NetworkWorld

10 Oct 2009 - Microsoft Plans Monster Patch Tuesday Next Week

Microsoft has 13 security updates for you for October.

They said they will deliver their largest-ever number of patches to fix flaws in all Windows flavors (server & clients), as well as IE, Office, SQL Server, important developer tools and Forefront. Among the updates will be the first for the RTM code of Windows 7.

 

More details @ Microsoft

30 Sep 2009 - WARNING: Twitter Worm Spreading via Direct Messages

We have received multiple reports that a new, convincing and dangerous worm and phishing scam is making the rounds on Twitter. Hacked accounts are sending DMs to users containing links and asking then to click on it. The link leads to a virus and steals their login information.

 

More @ Mashable.com

30 Sep 2009 - This Week's Top 10 Spyware Threats

The Threat Level remains at Elevated.

 

1. Trojan.Win32.Generic!BT: Trojan

2. Trojan-Spy.Win32.Zbot.gen: Trojan

3. Trojan.Win32.Malware: Trojan

4. Trojan.ASF.Wimad (v): Trojan

5. Trojan.Dowiex: Trojan

6. GameVance: Adware (General)

7. Trojan.DNSChanger.Gen: Trojan

8. MyWebSearch Toolbar: Potentially Unwanted Program

9. Trojan.Malware: Trojan

10. INF.Autorun (v): Trojan

 

More details over @ Sunbelt

28 Sep 2009 - The Apple Mac has a bounty placed on it!

In a sign that cyber-criminals are investing more time and resources into attacks against Apple's Mac users, a new malware affiliate program has been discovered offering $0.43 for every infected Mac machine.

 

Will Apple's smugness on security finally be coming back to haunt them?

 

More details over @ ZDNet

25 Sep 2009 - Chinese domain name scare scam reappears

The Chinese domain name scam is back.

You receive an unsolicited e-mail claiming to be from a Chinese domain name registrar, informing you that someone is trying to register your domain names in China, eg www.4-it.com.cn, www.4-it.cn. They then helpfully offer the domains to you so you can 'protect your brand in China'!

In actuality they have just got a list of .co.uk and .com domain name owners and are bulk mailing them in order to flog them the Chinese variants.

 

It's a scam because the whole precept of the letter/e-mail is a lie.

 

If you receive one of these, bin/delete it.

 

NB

Don't forget other scams that are still popular include..

Fake lottery .. "You have won" scams

Money Laundering Scams

Update your e-bay/paypal/bank details or you account will be suspended scams

Inheritance scams

 

So be safe and sensible!

24 Sep 2009 - Critical iTunes flaw exposes Mac, Windows to hacker attacks

A critical security flaw has been found in Apple's iTunes v9.0 that puts Mac and Windows users at risk of computer takeover attacks.

Apple has shipped iTunes 9.0.1 to fix the critical security hole. It is recomended that all iTunes users make sure their iTunes is updated to this latest version.

Full Details @ ZDNet

21 Sep 2009 - 5 Reasons XP users might NOT want to upgrade to Windows 7

We're big fans of the upcoming Windows 7, but as a balance here are 5 reasons XP users may not want to immediately upgrade to Windows 7.

 

1) XP is supported until 2014

2) Just a web user? XP is enough!

3) Newer tech like IE8, Windows defender etc is downloadable for XP

4) Your pc is set up as you like it. Why change!

5) Your replacement PC will have it on anyway.

 

Full article @ PC World

21 Sep 2009 - Microsoft annouce withdrawal of support for Windows Server 2000 - July 13, 2010

Microsoft have today announced that extended support for Windows 2000 Server will end on July 13, 2010.

 

More details @ Microsoft Technet

21 Sep 2009 - First reported security flaw in Windows 7 falls short of mark

The net was buzzing last week over a newly found security flaw found in the Microsoft SMB subsystem that was supposed to affect Vista, Windows 7 and Server 2008.

An attacker sending a malformed SMB packet to an affected machine would cause a BSOD.

However the truth is somewhat different..

Upon investigation, Microsoft have confirmed this to be problem affecting Vista (x86/x64), Server 2008 (x86/x64/ia64)

It DOES NOT affect Windows 2000, XP (x86/x64), Server 2003 (x86/x64/ia64), Windows 7 (x86/x64), Windows Server 2008 R2 (x64/ia64).

Furthermore, a malformed packet would usually be blocked by the Vista/Server 2008 firewall in it's default settings. Chances of an attack across the internet using this flaw are very slim.

 

17 Sep 2009 - Office Closure Monday 21st Sept

Please note the office will be closed on Monday 21st Sept.

 

As usual with office closures, please use e-mail primarily to report any support issues.

If you are unable to use e-mail, please contact me on my mobile.

 

Mark

17 Sep 2009 - 101 Fantastic Software Freebies

We all love a bit of free stuff so PCWorld New Zealand have posted a roundup of 101 free software downloads.

 

Go check out the list here

 

A NOTE :

Free applications are sometimes sponsored by adware or may have other bundled software included (such as toolbars etc).

When installing any free software, pay attention to the installation options you are presented and deselect any unwanted options such as additional toolbars etc.

 

16 Sep 2009 - Mac OSX 'Snow Leopard' Security still woeful!

Independent security evaluators are less than impressed with the poor security features in Apple's latest Mac OSX incarnation 'Snow Leopard'. They state that although it is an improvement on the previous 'Leopard', it's still lacking many of the advanced features as seen in Windows Vista & Windows 7.

 

More details @ The Windows Club

 

My Commentary...

 

Apple has so far been able to ignore security as historically Macs have not been the target of malware writers due to their tiny market share. They are a small target in a big shooting gallery.

However as the Mac gains market share it is starting to become an increasingly larger & tempting target. Eventually once the market share hits a key point, Macs will be hit and hit hard due to their rather poor level of security and their users' current blissful ignorance of malware.

 

Judging by Apple's sales figures, that day may come sooner than you think..

 

It's no surprise Vista and Windows 7 fare better. Microsoft OS's have been under serious attack since XP (2002) and MS have had a 7 year head start over Apple in tackling this issue.

15 Sep 2009 - Are you ready for Windows 7?

We have a number of interesting (and free) subscribed newsletters that drop into our e-mail box on a weekly basis. One of the newer ones is Win7News which covers news and events of all things Window 7 & Vista.

There are also some useful tips and tricks which can be very helpful.

The newsletter is published by the good folks over at Sunbelt, and if you're interested in this kind of stuff I heartily recommend you take a look.

They also publish newsletters for XP & Windows Servers.

 

More details @ Win7News

03 Sep 2009 - Apple's latest offering "Snow Leopard" fails to impress the enterprise.

One of the major features in Apple's new OSX version (Snow Leopard) - Native Microsoft Exchange integration, has failed to have the impact on business Mac adoption that was hoped (unlike the iPhone).

A survey from Techrepublic has returned an overwhelming 'No' when IT enterprise customers were asked if this new OS could temp them in to rolling out Mac clients.

 

More details @ Techrepublic

01 Sep 2009 - CCleaner registry cleaning breaks the Windows 7 context menu

CCleaner is one of the most recommended freeware File & Registry Cleaners available for Windows.

However we've received reports that shows use of CCleaner's registry cleaning function will break the Windows 7 right click context menu for the Bitlocker application.

More details @

The Windows Club

The CCleaner boys are always updating their s/ware and regularly bring out new versions so I have no doubt that this shortfall will be address soon.

But as ever, you should be extremely cautious with registry cleaners as they can often do more harm than good.

01 Sep 2009 - Our first Windows 7 RTM install is complete.

We've successfully rolled out our first Windows 7 RTM install.

It was a clean install to a Netbook that was previously running Windows 7 RC.

Installation was painless and unlike the earlier versions, it successfully recognised the WiFi card and installed the appropriate drivers.

(Previous installations did not have a compatable WiFi driver for the card in the netbook, resulting in us having to manually search for and install a vista compatable one from the internet.)

We would be very hard pressed to fault the RC build anyway, so it's going to be difficult finding where they could have possibly improved Windows 7 RTM.

Watch this space...

28 Aug 2009 - Our Microsoft Windows 7 (RTM) software has arrived!

We've just received our retail release versions of Windows 7 Business & Ultimate. (Sorry they are for internal use only!)

To say we're excited is a little bit of an understatement.

Time to get upgrading!

 

We'll blog more on this after the event!

24 Aug 2009 - Important information regarding Service Packs

Important information regarding Service Packs

As you may already know, Microsoft releases product updates on a monthly basis. These updates are delivered to your desktop and the windows update icon appears in your task bar. You are then invited to install said updates.

Our usual policy is to recommend to all clients that they install these updates in a timely manner, as they are usually fixes to reported security flaws and bugs.

Infrequently (approx. every 12-18 months) Microsoft will release a major large update called a Service Pack (SP). These SP's contain every update since the previous service pack (or original software release) plus other updates such as new features, performance fixes etc.

Although we still recommend all users install these SP's when available, you must bear in mind that due to the sheer size of the update and the time it can take to apply, it is NOT advisable to install these during the working day.

These large updates, depending on machine performance, can take MANY hours to install, during which time you may not be able to continue to use your machine.

We strongly suggest, to minimise disruption, that you only commence installation of these SP's at the end of the day when the machine is no longer in use, and allow the update to apply overnight.

 

Current service pack versions are XP - SP3, Vista - SP2

22 Aug 2009 - The day Microsoft rescued Apple!

I came across an interesting article suggesting that without Microsoft founder Bill Gates, it seems that Apple probably wouldn't exist.

 

In 1997, Bill Gates invested $150m in a struggling Apple to help breathe new life into the company! Such sweet irony!

 

Check out the Apple FanBoys booing Steve Jobs as he announces the Microsoft partnerships.

 

Full article @ The Windows Club

21 Aug 2009 - Symantec releases top 100 infected or "dirty" websites

Symantec has release a list of the Dirtiest Web Sites of Summer 2009 - the top 100 infected sites based on number of threats detected by Norton Safe Web as of August 2009.

It comes as no surprise that 48% of the Dirtiest Web Sites are, well, dirty - sites that feature adult content. However, other Dirtiest sites run the gamut of subject matter, including sites dedicated to deer hunting, catering, figure skating, legal services, and buying electronics.

 

Viruses are the most common threat represented on the Dirtiest list, followed by security risks and browser exploits.

 

Simply clicking through to a site with these threats could put you at risk of exposing your computer to infection, and worse, put your identity, personal and financial information into the hands of cybercriminals.

 

Stay away from these websites !

 

Details @ Symantec

21 Aug 2009 - Final Windows 7 getting rave reviews even before release!

Windows 7 hits the store on October 22nd but already those with access to preview copies are giving it rave reviews.

Check out this article from the Boston Globe

 

We've said before on this blog that we think Windows 7 will be a huge success. We have used in it both Beta and RC form for most of 2009 and are mightily impressed, the early versions were both stable and quick.

 

We'll say more on this subject after the official retail release date of 22/10/09.

20 Aug 2009 - Website Maintenance

We are currently doing some website maintenance to being the web code up to W3C standard.

During this time the formatting of some pages may be affected causing them to display incorrectly.

Please bear with us whilst we undertake this maintenance work.

 

Also as part of this work, we have archived off some of the older news articles (pre 2008) making the new news list and rss feed much shorter, and quicker to download.

19 Aug 2009 - Apple patches yet more Safari security flaws

If you do happen to use the Safari browser (and we don't recommend it), be sure you've got the latest update from Apple, which patches six critical security vulnerabilities, including a buffer overflow vulnerability and three problems in the browser's Webkit engine.

 

More details over at eWeek.com

19 Aug 2009 - IE 8 wins the browser security smackdown

It's bound to make a lot of Microsoft bashers unhappy, but recent testing by an independent security company shows IE8 to be better than Firefox, Safari, Opera or Chrome when it comes to blocking phishing sites.

Safari ended up at the bottom of the list. Opps

Full story over at eWeek.com

 

18 Aug 2009 - AMD Blows whistle on fraudulent laptop battery life claims.

Ever wondered why the battery life of that new laptop you have just bought doesn't seem to match the sales blurb?

Seems like the "test" they use to determine the advertised battery life is errm shall we say "less-than-fair?"

More details over at Newsweek

10 Aug 2009 - Apple's bad behaviour finally gets noticed

There's a good article over at ZDNet highlighting some of Apple's recent extremely bad behaviour.

I'll admit I've never been an Apple fan, I noticed this type of anti-competitive monopolistic behaviour years ago while most people chose to ignore it, as Apple were such small players. However with Apple's growth (thanks solely to the iPod) and it's increasingly dominant position in specific markets (iTunes) its continuing bad behaviour is finally starting to be noticed by a wider audience.

Recent decisions to ban competitive products from the iPhone App Store only serving to prove this point.

Microsoft got hauled over the coals for anti-competitive practices simply for including a browser with their Windows operating systems (while still allowing other browser to be installed). Compare this to Apple who, with the iPhone, are not only bundling their own browser, but are then actively BLOCKING other browsers from being installed. How can they get away with this?

Due to its recent decision to block Google's iVoice app, Apple is now finally under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice for anti-competitive practices.

 

Good!

It's about bloody time!

 

05 Aug 2009 - Scams, Security Threats and Malware Bulletin

The following is a brief roundup of the latest security assessment.

 

1) "You have received a (Hallmark) greetings card" malware AND hoax doing the rounds.

Remember people, ignore these. Don't click any links, don't pass on any hoax warnings either! They waste everyone's time. More info here.

 

2) We have reports of disreputable PC repair shops snooping around and harvesting financial data from their customers PC's brought in for repair. Only take your PC's to a reputable place and keep an eye on your bank statements! This came to light as the result of a Sky news undercover operation. More info here.

 

3) Adobe Flash player vunerability. Yet ANOTHER security flaw has been found in the ever popular Adobe Flash player. They have issued an updated version to plug the hole. If you use the Flash player, go direct to the Adobe site and download the latest version. More info here

 

Current Threatnet threat level is High, including attacks on Firefox and Mozilla browsers.

Top 10 threats can be found here.

 

24 Jul 2009 - Windows 7 code finalised (RTM)

Microsoft have finally release the Windows 7 code to manufacturing. (RTM)

This means that this is the final release version and has now gone off for CD manufacturing in preparation for the official retail shipping date of Oct 22nd.

Microsoft partners should have the final version by mid-August.

This comes at a busy and exciting time for Microsoft and its partners as it prepares to launch several major new products such as Microsoft® Office 2010, Microsoft® Exchange Server 2010, Microsoft® SQL Server® 2008 R2 and of course Windows® 7 amongst others.

Windows 7 however remains the current star of the line-up in our opinion. We have been playing around with Windows 7 since one of the very early versions (Beta1). By the time the beta 2 version came out we were relatively comfortable enough to install it on one of our production netbooks. Considering the low power/resource nature of the netbook we were amazed at the result, a useable installation with all bells whistles and eye candy!

By the time RC1 was release we were so confident with it, we installed it on to one of our primary production machines, and in fact have been running with it on a daily basis ever since (6 months?). The RC1 version showed itself to be a solid, reliable & even polished product. Hard to believe that Microsoft were actually still classifying this as an unfinished development version!

Win7 goes a long way in silencing the somewhat unfair Vista detractors. It's slimmed down, has a freshened and updated interface, and as it will pretty much make use of the already established Vista driver base, hardware compatibility for this OS release should not be the issue that we saw with the Vista release.

Summing up, I believe Win7 will be a major success for Microsoft, and we whole heartily recommend it.

Unless you have old legacy XP bound applications (that will not work in the new Windows 7 XP Mode virtual machine), you really do have no reason not to have Windows 7 in your environment.

 

 

There's a good technical breakdown of Windows 7 capabilities plus some Vista backgroud info here

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