Geekly Update - 18 January 2017
Are we winning the war against ransomware and robocallers? Why is free Wi-Fi on JetBlue flights not necessarily a good idea? Do you know the easiest way to fix “Page Not Found” errors? And what is the hardest job on the Internet? Find out... in today's Geekly Update -- it's jam-packed with the latest tech news. This issue is guaranteed to make you 292% smarter -- you'll see why. Read, think, and, comment!
The AskBobRankin Geekly Update
Two of the largest and longest-running robocall rackets were shut down this month. One of these loathsome companies was caught in 2014 and fined $4.375 million, but they continued robocalling, placing more than 1 million calls per week to people on the Do-Not-Call list.
Two prototype laptops sporting three 17-inch displays each were stolen at CES. Parent firm Razer is offering a $25,000 reward for information that leads to the conviction of the thieves. (For that money, even if you stole them, it might be worth your while to confess.)
JetBlue is now the first airline to offer all passengers free WiFi on all flights. Great, now I have to share that limited bandwidth with a whole plane-load of Netflix binge-watchers.
The Los Angeles Community College District paid $28,000 in bitcoins (the largest known payout) to have ransomware unlock its campus network, e-mail, and voicemail systems. Management figures it’s worth it because insurance covers things like this. Ransomware payouts in the US alone exceeded $200 million in the first quarter of 2016.
Two Microsoft employees are suing the company because they claim they developed post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of their job. These members of the Online Safety Team were tasked with reviewing disturbing content involving child abuse, murder and other unsavory things, to determine if content should be blocked or taken down.
Browser add-ons for Firefox and Chrome can be installed, allowing you to quickly search the Internet Archive for cached copies of a page that’s “404 - not found” in real time. Over 276 billion pages are archived, so there’s a significant chance you’ll find a page, even if it's no longer available on the website you're trying to access.
But here's a browser extension that installs itself, without your permission. If you apply the latest Adobe Reader security update, you'll notice a new icon in the upper right corner of your Chrome browser window. The "Adobe Acrobat" extension lets you convert a Web page into a PDF (but only if you have the paid version of Adobe Acrobat), and also sends browsing data to the Adobe mothership. Yes, this is the same Adobe that makes the fatally-flawed Adobe Flash software.
If you use more than 200GB per month on your legacy Verizon unlimited data plan, the company will give you until February 16 to subscribe to a metered data plan. If you don’t, you’ll be blacklisted from Verizon Wireless. (It's worth noting that the average user consumes only 2GB per month.)
Driverless shuttle buses will soon cruise the Las Vegas strip. Although these buses have no steering wheels or brake pedals, each will have a human attendant to answer tourists’ questions. (Probably stuff like "Where is the emergency brake?")
Hackers stole and published 900GB of data belonging to Cellebrite, the Israeli firm that sells its hacking and cracking services to government agencies. Last March, Cellebrite helped the FBI access data on the encrypted iPhone belonging to the San Bernardino terrorists.
Phone numbers posted on Facebook profiles can be read by the public even when the user's privacy setting says they should be invisible. A Belgian security researcher demonstrated this hack by retrieving the “private” phone numbers of various Belgian politicians and Flemish celebrities. Facebook says it's a feature, not a flaw.
A vulnerability in WhatsApp could expose messages to spies, despite end-to-end encryption.
Yet another security hole allows hackers to take complete control of your Samsung SmartCam. The easy fix is to enable a piece of software in the camera that contains even more vulnerabilities. Samsung has also provided instructions for patching the flaw manually. Of course, there's always the Masking Tape Method.
Your thoughts on these topics are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 18 Jan 2017
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Geekly Update - 18 January 2017 (Posted: 18 Jan 2017)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved