The Tech Corner
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.