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Databyte Brief Online – A Technology Blog

Welcome to the Cypress Systems, Inc. technology blog. Our blog focuses on technologies that are of general interest to our clients, quick tips and how to guides in order to stream line your digital life.


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Malware Infects TV’s Now

FLocker Maware Infects Smart TV’s

Interesting article over at TrendLabs (make of popular security software TrendMicro). The author writes about the Android Malware FLocker and how it infects Android based Smart TV’s.

Flocker Malware Infection Infects TV's

From the author:

FLocker is a police Trojan that pretends to be US Cyber Police or another law enforcement agency. It accuses potential victims of crimes they didn’t commit. Then, it demands 200 USD worth of iTunes gift cards. And based on our analysis, there are no major differences between a FLocker variant that can infect a mobile device and one that affects smart TVs.

Another reminder in the modern era to always be guarded and safe with your devices.

Read the full article

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New Security Threat: ATM Skimmers Now Attacking the Wires

Security

Security Threat: ATM Cables Are Now Thieves New Target

Krebs on Security has an interesting article on how ATM thieves are now inserting specially crafted devices between the ATM and the outbound data lines intercepting all data to and from the ATM itself. Thieves additionally attach the typical skimming devices to the ATM to grab PIN’s. The article outlines how security experts see this as an ongoing trend of data thieves becoming more creative and using alternate methodologies to grab ATM user’s data. This makes it critical for users to only use ATM systems that they feel are secure in location and reputable in nature.

Krebs on Security ATM Skimmers

Are Solid State Drives Safe?

Solid State Drives are more popular than even in today’s consumer market. It is the one upgrade that can give a computer a significant increase in performance at a reasonable price. With this being said they are not without some downsides, especially when you need to retain data long term. There is an interesting blog post at KoreLogic Security pointing out that unpowered SSD’s long term storage capabilities can be impacted by temperature:

For every 5 degrees C (9 degrees F) rise in temperature where the SSD is stored, the retention period is approximately halved. For example, if a client application SSD is stored at 25 degrees C (77 degrees F) it should last about 2 years on the shelf under optimal conditions. If that temperature goes up 5 degrees C, the storage standard drops to 1 year.

The takeaway is that if you need long term storage archiving to a standard mechanical drive is the way to go.

Read the full article

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iOS 8.01 Bricked My Phone!

iPhone6

On September 24, 2014 Apple released iOS 8.01 a minor update to its flagship iOS operating system. The update was available in both iTunes download and OTA (over the air) versions for all the major carriers. The update was supposed to resolve the following issues:

  • Fixes a bug so HealthKit apps can now be made available on the App Store
  • Addresses an issue where 3rd party keyboards could become deselected when a user enters their passcode
  • Fixes an issue that prevented some apps from accessing photos from the iPhoto Library
  • Improves the reliability of the Reachability feature on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus
  • Fixes an issue that could cause unexpected cellular data usage when receiving SMS/MMS messages
  • Better support of Ask To Buy for Family Sharing for in-app purchases
  • Fixes an issue where ringtones were sometimes not restored from iCloud backups
  • Fixes a bug that prevented uploading photos and videos from Safari

Users of the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus however got a nasty surprise. Seemingly due to a bug in the OTA version of the update, users who installed the iOS 8.01 update were no longer able to connect via cellular service and additionally had Touch ID disabled.

iOS_8_Bug

Within the hour of release Apple pulled the iOS 8.01 update. Apple has published a support document recommending users revert to iOS 8.0 here. The document has instructions on how to restore your device to iOS 8.00. iMore also has a good post on other avenues for getting your device back to a functional state which can be found here.

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New USB Type-C with Display Port is Coming

USB3

Today the Video Electronics Standards Association announced USB Type-C with DisplayPort Alternate mode. from the press release:

Today the VESA is announcing that they are publishing the “DisplayPort Alternate Mode on USB Type-C Connector Standard.” Working in conjunction with the USB-IF, the DP Alt Mode standard will allow standard USB Type-C connectors and cables to carry native DisplayPort signals. This is designed to open up a number of possibilities for connecting monitors, computers, docking stations, and other devices with DisplayPort video while also leveraging USB’s other data and power capabilities. With USB 3.1 and Type-C the USB-IF was looking to create a single cable that could carry everything, and now that DisplayPort can be muxed over Type-C, USB is one step closer to that with the ability to carry native video.

This obviously opens up the doors for OEM’s and other equipment manufacturers to create some unique configurations from a hardware perspective. It additionally will allow manufacturers to omit dedicated video ports for HDMI,VGA and DVI and instead configure systems with additional USB3 ports. The full article is at Anandtech and worth the read for the technically minded.

Full Article

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Help! My MAC’s Infected

Mac

Yea I know, it’s not a common occurrence but the truth is that attacks on Apple’s line of computers is rising and at some point you may have to deal with one. Macworld has a nice and short blog post on ClamXav 2 which we have had occasion to use. The article essentially reiterates what our experiences have been with the product. A good useful tool that does not try to punch above its weight. A quick list of some of its features:

  • Clean, simple-to-use interface
  • Clearly lists infected files
  • Free virus definitions (usually updated daily)
  • Save your favourite scan locations for easy access
  • Customise the toolbar – or hide it entirely
  • Send selected files to quarantine or trash with one click
  • Specify files to exclude using plain text* or by using drag & drop from the Finder
  • Specify schedules to update virus definitions and perform scans
  • Use ClamXav Sentry to monitor your hard drive and scan new files as they arrive†
  • Use the bundled ClamAV engine or bring your own installation†
  • Compatible with Mac OS X 10.6, 10.7, 10.8 and OS X 10.9 Mavericks

I recommend the article at Macworld for an easy read and ClamXav for a good support tool for an engineers tool chain.

Source: Macworld

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A Simple Explanation of the HeartBleed Bug

Leave it to the popular web comic xkcd to explain in simple terms what the heartbleed bug (aka CVE-2014-0160) actually does. If you are looking for more depth on the subject I would recommend heartbleed.com. You can additionaly check if a website is impacted by this bug at https://lastpass.com/heartbleed/

heartbleed_explanation

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Microsoft Office comes to Apple iPad and Google Android devices

Office for iPad

Microsoft has at long last released it’s venerable office productivity suite for Apple’s line iPad tablets and Google Android based devices. Long rumored (and numerous blurry screen shots later) Excel, PowerPoint, Word and a revamped One Note (Microsoft’s note taking application) will finally allow for greater accessibility to Microsoft office documents and the corporate ecosystem.

The software is a free download from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store respectively but does come with some caveats. While the software is free, it does require that a user have a current Office 365 subscription. This is causing a lot of grumbling with users wanting to pay a one time fee (traditional pricing model) and use the software but it’s clear that Microsoft see the subscription model as the future.

Microsoft’s spin:

Your colleagues want to work from anywhere, on any device. Keep your organization productive with the real Microsoft Office apps for iPad®.

Your Office 365 subscription unlocks all the features. Access Office documents that you’ve saved to OneDrive for Business and from email attachments.

View, create and edit documents with touch-friendly Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps. Content and formatting stays intact, so documents look great on virtually any PC, Mac, tablet and phone.

Initial testing with our staff shows that the productivity suite has been tweaked to take into account the significant differences in a touch / mobile environment without sacrificing overall functionality.

It will be interesting to see what advances in interface this release will drive as more users find mobile platforms becoming more viable for day to day work.

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Microsoft Re-Brands Its Web Based Office Applications

Back on February 14th in the official Office Blog, Microsoft informed its user base that they would be renaming its popular web-based version of its Office products from Office Web Apps to Office Online. Today the branding has been made official with the name change propagating to all of its various services.

Office OnlineMicrosoft had conceded that the inclusion of “Apps” in the previous name was confusing to its clients. This name change might make it easier for end users to find Microsoft free / web-based version of its Office productivity suite. Office Online does have limitations that its full Office suite does not.

The primary disadvantage of Office Online is that it only offers a limited version of the tools offered in the actual full version of the desktop software. Many of features and commands are missing from the program’s Ribbon interface in the Online version.

For the non power user or for occasional light use, Office Online offers a compelling alternative to Google Docs.

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Windows XP Get’s a Bit More Life, Sorta

Windows_XP

As we have previously written about (here), Microsoft will be ending support for Windows XP as of April 8th of 2014. What does this mean? Microsoft has clarified what end of support to mean:

We’ve received some inquiries about what “no longer supported operating system” means. To clarify, this mean that, after April 8, 2014, Windows XP users will no longer receive new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options, or online technical content updates from Microsoft.

Microsoft said it will continue to provide updates to its security products (antimalware engine and signatures) for Windows XP users through July 14, 2015. Previously, the company said it would halt all updates on the same day as the end of support date for Windows XP: April 8, 2014.

While this does not mitigate the requirement to upgrade to Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 it will give some a bit more piece of mind.

To read more about the consequences of continuing to run Windows XP: Is Windows XP Costing You A Fortune?

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