Welcome to the Jan 11, 2015 issue of
CompuNerds.Net-News (←home page)
It hardly seems possible: Windows 7 is being put on extended life support! Just last April Microsoft dropped support for Windows XP, and now on January 13 2015 they're placing Windows 7 on "Extended Support." This means no more service packs or enhancements will be issued, only security holes that are newly discovered will be fixed and updates sent out for them. All support will be dropped in five years, on January 14 2020.
It's been six weeks, since just before Thanksgiving last year, that I sent out a CompuNerds.Net News. In that time I've shown a few people how to turn an unsafe Windows XP PC into a safe Linux computer. With all support dropped on Win-XP, any security holes discovered by malware freaks will not be patched, so it's fundamentally unsafe to use Win-XP on the Internet. But that's not the only security hole in Windows: all versions up through Win-7 possess a huge security hole. Anyone - even a smart fifth-grader - who knows how to download stuff from the Internet can download an "ISO file" (disk image) of Linux and burn a DVD, then boot any Win-7 PC from that DVD into Linux, and not only install Linux on that PC, but also completely bypass all Windows login passwords and copy all of the Windows users' files to a flash drive.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
The doctor gave a man six months to live. He couldn't pay his bill, so the doctor gave him six more.
All it would take is for a disgruntled employee or a contracted janitorial worker to sit down at a PC after work hours for five or ten minutes. No traces of a forced break-in are left. Then a company's financial or confidential personnel information could be sold over the "gray market" on the Internet, or else the company could be blackmailed to pay a ransom for the info. This is a well-known fact to Microsoft and virtually all folks like me who have a modicum of computer security savvy. And yet, when I explained this to a head of an I.T. department, he just shrugged it off.
How many hundred-millions of unprotected Win-7 PCs exist with valuable info? Virtually all of them are at risk, and will continue to be for the next five years. The best solution is to encrypt such info on the hard disk or a flash drive. I use a free program called SafeHouse to encrypt my Win-8 data files on a flash drive. (Linux on a DVD can't boot up a Win-8 PC unless you first login on Windows as administrator and turn off its "safe boot" system.)
You might think - "Just how many smart fifth-graders know about this?" One of our grandsons who just finished fifth grade certainly does - he spends hours just about every day sitting at the computer, downloading videos and music, making his own videos and uploading them. And today I heard of a two-year-old who was playing with his mom's smartphone in a restaurant: he said - "Mom! There's no Wi-Fi here! Oh, here it is, I'm connected now." Doing all sorts of stuff on the Internet with phones, tablets and computers is second nature to even little children today.
As some of my readers know, my wife Cheryl and I volunteer at an inner-city ministry, helping elderly and low-income residents set career goals and write resumes, cover letters and lists of references, then training them how to search for jobs on the Internet. The main reason why these people are low-income is because they lack modern skills. Their children and grandchildren pick it up quickly in school and at play, but it's hard for adults to adapt to new concepts. All of us, however, need to acquire these basic modern skills to protect our identity and our finances.
The Security Blurb:
Well, I've already been writing about basic computer security, but here's some more: recently I switched back to using ZoneAlarm's free antivirus and firewall. It was the first such security software I installed about 15 years ago in Russia, and immediately noticed several "pings" attempting to get into my PC but blocked by ZoneAlarm. Then I tried several other security software including Microsoft Security Essentials, but I was recently reminded that ZoneAlarm not only blocks unknown agents trying to break into or "call home" from my PC, it also generates an encrypted signature for legitimate programs on your PC so that malware that renames itself as one of your legit programs can't get past ZoneAlarm's outgoing firewall.
Tim Berners-Lee, father of the WWW: Putin is dead wrong about the Internet. I had to laugh in order not to cry - Putin shouldn't be making such statements about what's not his area of expertise. Yes, the U.S. government did fund development of the Internet, but it was invented by academics for quickly and easily sharing their research work. Berners-Lee invented the WWW part of the Internet, the "http" and "HTML" stuff used for the World-Wide Web. Again, he was a scientific researcher, not an espionage agent, like Putin was.
Of course, we're all aware of North Korea's cyber-attack on Sony Pictures for their recent satirical movie on assassinating North Korea's "fearless" (fat) leader. But much government-sponsored modern cyber-warfare goes on behind the scenes: some apparently U.S. government-backed malware named Regin has been attacking computers for several years now, but has just recently been made public. Antivirus companies have known about it and have sent out "virus signatures" to their customers since 2008, but apparently were asked by the NSA/GCHQ not to announce it publicly.
The goal of our CN.Net-News is to share information that we think you'll find helpful as you wrestle with that little monster on your desk or at your side, your computer, tablet or phone. And we aim to present this information from a Christian worldview. Thanks for your time!
"Dr. Bob the CompuNerd"
Robert D hoskEN
See the "nerd" in my name? (It helps if you're a little dyslexic!)
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