The Tech Cor­ner

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL -

The Tech Cor­ner is a weekly tech­nol­ogy news and ad­vice col­umn pre­sented each week cour­tesy of Melvin McCrary at Ga. Com­puter De­pot in Cedar­town.

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State Sues Com­cast over Dodgy ‘Ser­vice Pro­tec­tion Plan’

Wash­ing­ton state of­fi­cials are su­ing Com­cast for al­legedly mis­lead­ing cus­tomers over a ser­vice pro­tec­tion plan.

The ca­ble and broad­band com­pany is ac­cused of sell­ing a $4.99 a month plan that many cus­tomers didn’t need, and which fell short of its prom­ises.

At the time of writ­ing, Com­cast has not com­mented pub­licly on the de­tail of the law­suit but said it would “vig­or­ously de­fend” the case.

It said it had pre­vi­ously worked with of­fi­cials to deal with com­plaints about the plan and said: “Given that we were com­mit­ted to con­tinue work­ing col­lab­o­ra­tively with the At­tor­ney Gen­eral’s of­fice, we’re sur­prised and dis­ap­pointed that they have in­stead cho­sen lit­i­ga­tion.” (Source: ar­stech­nica.com)

Win­dows Pri­vacy vs Se­cu­rity a ‘False Choice’

A con­sumer rights group has crit­i­cized Win­dows 10’s pri­vacy set­tings. The Elec­tronic Fron­tier Foun­da­tion (EFF) says Mi­crosoft is un­fairly linking pri­vacy to se­cu­rity in its up­date sys­tem.

The at­tack comes in a blog post by the EFF’s Amul Kalia, pub­lished after Mi­crosoft re­leased its Win­dows 10 An­niver­sary Up­date. It starts by re­cap­ping the com­plaints about Mi­crosoft us­ing un­fair mea­sures to try to max­i­mize the num­ber of peo­ple up­grad­ing to the sys­tem.

The EFF’s main con­cern is Win­dows 10 col­lect­ing data about the user and the com­puter, and then re­lay­ing that in­for­ma­tion back to Mi­crosoft. The Elec­tronic Fron­tier Foun­da­tion la­bels this as “an un­prece­dented amount of us­age data.” It also takes is­sue with Mi­crosoft’s lack of de­tail about how it re­moves data that per­son­ally iden­ti­fies the user, and how long it holds on to that data.

Mi­crosoft Re­jects Crit­i­cism

Mi­crosoft re­sponded with a state­ment, say­ing that: “Mi­crosoft is com­mit­ted to cus­tomer pri­vacy and en­sur­ing that cus­tomers have the in­for­ma­tion and tools they need to make in­formed de­ci­sions. We lis­tened to feed­back from our cus­tomers and evolved our ap­proach to the up­grade process. Win­dows 10 con­tin­ues to have the high­est sat­is­fac­tion of any ver­sion of Win­dows.”

Smart De­vices Could Ex­pose WiFi Pass­words, or Worse

Ac­cord­ing to the re­searchers, a range of In­ter­net-con­nected light bulbs had at least nine se­cu­rity flaws. While the po­ten­tial con- se­quences are hardly life or death, it could be a blow to the con­cept of smart de­vices in the home.

Os­ram’s Light­ify range of light bulbs lets users con­trol light­ing via a smart­phone or tablet app. The idea is partly to al­low more pre­cise con­trols, such as dim­ming a bulb or even chang­ing its color, and partly to al­low users to re­motely ac­cess the lights.

For ex­am­ple, if a home owner is un­ex­pect­edly de­layed and will now be com­ing home after dusk, they can switch on the lights so the house doesn’t ap­pear unat­tended.

Se­cu­rity firm Rapid 7 has ex­am­ined the tech­nol­ogy be­hind the sys­tem and says that it found nine vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties.

Rapid 7 then con­tacted Os­ram to warn that it would un­veil its find­ings, and says that five of the nine flaws have al­ready been patched.

WiFi Pass­words Po­ten­tially Ex­posed

The big­gest prob­lem, which has also been patched, dealt with the iPad app for con­trol­ling the light­ing sys­tem. The app had been set up to store the user’s WiFi net­work pass­word and SSID in plain text. That meant any­one could read this in­for­ma­tion and then gain unau­thor- ized ac­cess to the home owner’s en­tire net­work. Os­ram says it will patch all re­main­ing bugs by next month where pos­si­ble.

50 per­cent of Users Fall for Click­bait De­spite Knowl­edge of Risks

Re­searchers have found that ap­prox­i­mately half of all users will click on links sent to them from un­known senders de­spite know­ing the risks of phish­ing and a mal­ware in­fec­tion.

Dr. Zi­naida Be­nen­son of the Com­puter Sci­ence de­part­ment at the Friedrich-Alexan­der-Univer­sität ( FAU) Er­lan­gen- Nürn­berg led the ex­per­i­ment, for which she and her team sent scam email and Face­book mes­sages to 1700 FAU stu­dents un­der a false name.

The click­bait mes­sages en­ticed each re­cip­i­ent to click on a URL that pur­port­edly linked to a page host­ing im­ages of them at a party.

After the ex­per­i­ment con­cluded, she reached out to the 1700 stu­dents to ex­plore their rea­son­ing for their ac­tions.

Her ques­tion­naire found that those who in­ter­acted with the click­bait knew the risks of do­ing so but went ahead and clicked any­way.

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