Monday, April 5, 2021

Is it time to update/upgrade some of your hardware?

 

With all the new technology and internet providers, providing a much better online experience, how is your hardware holding up?

What do I mean by that? Well, how long have you had your router?

Why do I ask? Well, If you have an older router (usually 5+ years old or more) it would be a great time to upgrade. Most newer routers coming out now have much better security built in with WPA3 being released, as well as WiFi6.  Both of these can help improve your network quite a bit over the clunkers you might have still running. 

WPA3?  Well, this is the new replacement for WPA2. WPA3 adds four features not offered in WPA2, better privacy on public WiFi networks, Protection against Brute-force attacks, an easier connection process for devices without displays, and Higher security for government, defence and industrial applications.  What does all this mean? Well here is a link to an article explaining these categories. ( What is WPA3?)

WiFi6? This one is the next generation of WiFi, which introduces a speed boost! Much of which you will probably not notice, as its in the connection end of things and the new technologies introduced which help WiFi6 make these connections faster and more efficiently. (Here is the article which spells out jargon in a little more detail than I do. WiFi6, is it much faster?

For some more on WPA3 and WiFi6 check out these Wikipedia articles on them.

WPA3   &   WiFi6

 Those Wiki articles have some juicy geek terminology in there, that even gave me a headache. Overall These are new technologies that are a new standard, implemented into all new hardware that is being released now. You don't need to run out and get a new router because of these, but if your router is a little too old, and the lights don't work, or you're using it to hold up your monitor, it might be time to look at purchasing a new one. 

 

What do your Ethernet cables look like? That is, if you still use a hardwired connection.  You see a rats nest there? or is the color of the cable faded so bad, it blends in with the cobwebs? Well, believe it or not, some of those "older" Cat 5 cables are also limited to the speeds they deliver.

If you have cables that are a few years old as well, have a look, and see what they are stamped.

Cat 5 - The Cat 5 speed is capable of 10/100 Mbps and frequencies up to 100MHz all at a length up to 100m (328 Feet).

Cat 5e -  Cat5e cable according to ANSI/TIA 568.2-D has a maximum speed capability of 100MHz and 1Gb (Gigabit) up to 100 meters (328 Feet). 

Cat 6 -  Cat6 cable according to TIA 568.2-D has a maximum speed requirement of 1Gb and 250Mhz up to 328 feet (100 meters).


 

As technology has advanced so has the need to push more speed out of category cables. With the introduction of 10GBase-T this gave the ability to use Cat6 cables for it up to 180 feet. With this feature of Cat6 cables this technically gives you a max speed of 10Gb. However this should be noted that thought it can achieve up to 10Gb it's not guaranteed and requires everything to be ideal and correct in setup. If you are planning your network for 10Gb then it's best to use a cable specified for that which is Cat6A.

 What does all this mean? Well, if you are getting or have Fibre to your home and have the latest routers, etc, if you are using old Ethernet cabling for some hardwired systems it will greatly affect your speeds. 

For all those Gamers & Streamers out there, this means a lot. If you fall in this category you will want at least Cat 5e and if not Cat 6 cabling! A lot of new residential wiring has Cat 6 now as the new standard.  (I myself have my entire house wired with Cat 6 to every room) It also adds, albeit small value to your house. 

All these new technologies also help to improve any IoT devices you have, which include lights, thermostats, cameras, etc.  Camera systems can take up a LOT of upload bandwidth! Of course the more you put on your network, the more everything else is affected. 


Hopefully this helps a few people out. Don't forget, any questions, please feel free to email me! or simply leave a comment on the article you need a hand with.


Stay safe.

V.


Sunday, March 21, 2021

Review of the FixMe Stick!

Give the link to the right a click or simply click HERE to see my review and experience with the amazing FixMe Stick! Scroll down after clicking the link to see my thoughts on it!

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

5G is here! Here's a quick explanation.

 

Well, 5G is here! Wow! Have you noticed any difference? I'm taking a long shot and going to say, probably not. Everyone is talking about it, and everyone is out buying those 5g compatible phones. If you happen to have a 5G capable phone, have you ever seen it say 5g? Again, I'll say probably not. 

Now I'm not being negative about this new technology, it's just the way it is being promoted,etc.  Lots of people are running out buying new phones, believing they will have 5G! It doesn't work like that, there is 5G available in Manitoba, and here is a great link to the coverage map of 5G.  5G coverage. See the purple areas, that's where 5G is available right now.

5G - With new phones in low-band 5G, you can combine two 100MHz channels for 200MHz usage—and stack several more 20MHz 4G channels on top of that. In high-band 5G, you can use up to eight 100MHz channels. But if you don't have the airwaves available, you don't get the speeds. Also, 5G signals do not travel very well and the high-band has limited range.

Low-band 5G operates in frequencies below 2GHz. These are the oldest cellular and TV frequencies. They go great distances, but there aren't very wide channels available, and many of those channels are being used for 4G. So low-band 5G is slow. It acts and feels like 4G, for now. Low-band 5G channels are from 5MHz in width up to 15MHz, so you can see they aren't roomier than 4G.

High-band 5G, or millimeter-wave, is the really new stuff. So far, this is mostly airwaves in the 20-100GHz range. These airwaves haven't been used for consumer applications before. They're very short range; our tests have shown about 800-foot distances from towers. But there's vast amounts of unused spectrum up there, which means very fast speeds using up to 800MHz at a time.  

Here is a Government of Canada link to the 5G networks and includes some other information that may be useful.

So a quick wrap-up, if you are not within about 500 feet or so unobstructed from the 5G tower, you will not get high-band 5G. And if you do pick up the 5G low-band, you may notice it is actually slower than 4G.


 


 V.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Browser password managers

 

Is it OK to use the password managers that are built into Chrome, Edge and Firefox?  With recent updates to them all, the security factor of them has gotten much better. Straight answer is yes, they are safe to use, for the basic user.

If you just browse here and there, check email, and just simple things on the internet - yes this is an ok option and way better than using your birthday, dogs name, kids name, phone number, etc!

The only drawback to this is, its perfect to use on your home system. On a shared or public system, it can be dangerous.  If you look in the top right corner of your browser - and you see your little icon sitting there, that means you are "signed in" and the browser will usually auto-fill your passwords for you. But as long as that browser is open, your passwords are accessible!  On shared computers you should ALWAYS log out of the browser so that the next person doesn't have access to your passwords and any other information you store on your browser.

Another minor setback, is while you are on your computer with the browser open, and your signed in, the password information is accessible to hackers or anyone on your network that can intercept packets. Although I'm sure there aren't too many hackers trying to take over John Doe.  It is just a notable thing to keep in mind.

3rd Party password managers are even better than the built in ones. (See my article on these here - Passwords & password reuse) There are quite a few out there, both free and paid options.

Here is a list of a few great options, in no particular order:

1. 1password

2. Lastpass

3. Bitwarden (this is a great open source, free password manager)

4. Dashlane

5. KeePassXC

Having a password manager means remembering only one password, not a ton of them, and also helps with not having to repeat use passwords.

 

Stay safe.

 

V.

 


Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Credit Card scam !!!

 


Well, I woke up to this scam this morning, I got a call from a '780' area code, and upon answering, was confronted with a recording telling my that there was some unauthorized charges to my credit card. First one was $400 to Ebay, and the second was $1400 in gift cards. The recording then proceeded to say if accurate to press 1 to authorize or press 2 to not authorize.  This is where it doesn't matter what you press, you are/will be transferred to an "operator", it was at this point that I disconnected the call.

This happened to both my phone, and my daughters phone about 10 minutes apart. So there is another red flag. Below are 2 of the phone numbers that called me, and I do believe these numbers are hijacked as well, (which is when you call it back, you may reach a legitimate company)

780-667-8295

780-667-1392

 

I would be wary of any "Visa" or "MasterCard" calls from these numbers, also:

1. DO NOT give them any information, ie. your credit card number, your password, or the CCV number (the number on the back of the card)

2. DO NOT "verify" any information they may have.

3. DO NOT call any other number they may provide.

4. DO NOT go to any websites they may provide as well.

5. Just hang up!

 

If you do or have provided any information to them, contact your bank and credit card company immediately to lock your card!

Contact your local Police with the phone numbers they called you from, and as much information as you can provide.

NEVER send any money or other form of payment to them!

If you are still unsure of anything - CALL your bank! They will provide further information! 

Here is a link to an RCMP article with an overview of the scam - Credit Card Scam

 

Keep an eye on this page for ongoing information.

Stay safe!

 

Mycomputerguy!

 

Monday, January 11, 2021

Ransomware - straightfoward definition and how to protect yourself

 Ransomware.

 

I'm sure all of us have heard this phrase on several occasions, as there are numerous companies and even people getting infected with it on a daily basis depending on the variant that's out there and what is being targeted. Although more and more every day, these ransomware programs are beginning to creep their way into everyone's everyday computing sessions.

What is ransomware? Well, the basic description is: A malicious program or set of commands that once executed encrypt all your data on your hard drive and then demand money for the key to decrypt that data. 95% of the time, the payment requested is being requested in the form of Bitcoin (see: Bitcoin) which is the main form of digital currency, said to be untraceable. Although there have been other forms requested for payment.

Ransomware can come in many different forms, and you can be infected by it in many ways as well. For the everyday user, these type of threats are very low, but never zero. Typically ransomware is transmitted by a Trojan, which is a program or other that is disguised as a legitimate program that users are tricked into downloading or executing a file or link that appears to be from a known source. I'm sure we have all seen text messages or emails that appear to be from someone you know, but appear kind of off. Well usually those links contained in there will direct you to a trojan of some form. Now once downloaded, these programs will run in the background of your system, slowly encrypting all your files on your hard drive. (Although some can even sit in the background and are programmed to trigger at different times or when some instances are achieved) Once this program has run it's course, you will usually get a pop-up or directed to a page stating that all your files are encrypted and to send payment to a certain address in order to get the "key" to decrypt your files.

Hopefully you will never have to experience this form of cyber-attack, but as always, there is no harm in keeping yourself protected from it. The best and easiest way is to keep your anti-virus software up-to-date, and having all your Windows updates up-to-date as well. These basic precautions are usually the most proficient way for the everyday user. 

So when you see the little window in the bottom right popping up saying there are updates available for windows or your anti-virus, don't ignore them! Feel free to update them as they are usually pretty straight forward to do as well.  If you are ever attacked or involved in a ransomware attack, it is usually best to consult an IT professional regarding such BEFORE clicking on any further links or payment options etc. Sometimes it can be reversed easy, sometimes not. NEVER send money in any form to any of these attempts. There have been times, that people have sent money to get their information decrypted, and have never heard from the party again. Most ransomware attacks will usually target more established companies or places that have data known to be valuable, as the attacker can extort much larger sums of money.

Below I will add a link to a Wikipedia article explaining ransomware in greater detail. Once again, if you have any further questions or want some further detail, feel free to email me or comment below and I will follow up!

Ransomware - a Wikipedia explanation.


Stay safe.

Sevenowl

 

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Adobe Flash EOL (end of life)

 *all links are checked for virus' and malware


Another popular software product coming to an end.  Adobe Flash player, a commonly used feature in everyone's browser for website's and games alike is coming to an end as of Dec 31/2020.  It is also being recommended to uninstall it completely, as it will not be supported any further and software developers should have updated their products to all run on the alternatives.  

So, before any big surprises arise, I will try and give you as much information as possible as to how to remove it, and how to make sure your browser(s) are prepared for the change!

Adobe has a dedicated article regarding the EOL of flash player, which you can view here for more detailed information.

excerpt from Adobe "Since Adobe will no longer be supporting Flash Player after December 31, 2020 and Adobe will block Flash content from running in Flash Player beginning January 12, 2021, Adobe strongly recommends all users immediately uninstall Flash Player to help protect their systems. "

To remove Adobe flash, simply click on "Start", go to "Settings", then click on "Apps" Scroll to where you see Adobe flash, click on it and click uninstall. (Windows 10) 

Process almost the same on other windows platforms, simply go to settings or control panel, click on add/remove programs, find Adobe flash, click uninstall.

Once you have that done and are now ready to see if your browser(s) can support the replacement. Which in this case should be HTML5 (which all current/updated browsers support) there are a couple ways to tell. Number one - you can go to this link with your browser of choice and as you arrive it will show you, your browser version and everything it can run etc. HTML5 test

Number two - you can click on the options bar in your browser, located at the top right side. 

For Firefox, click on the 3 bars, then click on "Help", then "About Firefox"


and you should get a screen like this one:  


For those users of Chrome, you would check it pretty much the same way, click on the 3 dots, then "Help", then "About Google Chrome"

And, of course, for those of you who use the Edge browser, once again almost the same, click on the 3 dots, then "Help and Feedback", then "About Microsoft Edge"

Now just check your Version number with the list below, and if you have the latest browser(s) you should be fine and ready to run most previous Adobe flash content!


Browser version list:

  • Chrome 87.
  • Safari 14.
  • Edge 87.
  • Firefox 84.
  • Internet Explorer 11.
  • Opera 72.

*list provided by Updatemybrowser.org

If your browser lists a lower version, it would be best to update immediately to avoid any complications or problems in your future browsing.

If you have any questions, feel free to drop me a line via the contact form on the right side. 

Stay Safe!

Sevenowl.

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Is it time to update/upgrade some of your hardware?

  With all the new technology and internet providers, providing a much better online experience, how is your hardware holding up? What do I ...