Turn Old Gadgets Into Quick Christmas Cash Using Flipsy

Posted in Commentary with tags on December 15, 2017 by itnerd

Did you know the average American household has $265 worth of unused gadgets lying around? Those old smartphones, tablets and iPods can be turned into quick cash – perfect for supplementing Christmas shopping budgets.

Consider these facts:

  • Smartphones sales this holiday season are expected to exceed the 432 million units sold during the 2016 holiday season, led by Apple, which is projecting a record $84 to $87 billion in revenue in Q4 2017
  • The average used smartphone is worth $140
  • In 2016, Americans left $21 billion on the table in unsold, unused smartphones

If Christmas 2017 is going to be the biggest year for smartphones yet, it stands to reason people will want to know about their smartphone selling options.

Flipsy.com provides a suite of free tools that can help people get the most money for their old smartphones, tablets and iPods, including:

  • Instant trade-in/buyback price comparisons – see at-a-glance which stores are offering the most money for any smartphone
  • Local trade-in/buyback discovery – see which local stores are currently buying smartphones
  • Smartphone “blue book” values – see how much any phone is worth on the private market, based on real-world sales data
  • Historical pricing trends – see whether values are increasing or decreasing, and at what rate
  • Price lock information – see which companies offer price locks, and for how long (perfect for beating Christmas price drops)

You can see Flipsy.com in action here: https://flipsy.com/sell/iPhone-7-Verizon?capacity=32GB



Infographic: New Map Shows #StopTheFCC Support By State

Posted in Commentary with tags on December 15, 2017 by itnerd

Sperling’s BestPlaces collected 145,000 #StopTheFCC tweets from November 24 to December 14 and analyzed them.

Each of the geolocated tweets was mapped to determine the number of tweets per state.  Using this data, the research firm generated a choropleth map showing the number of tweets per capita (100,000 people).


Full rankings and data:

#StopTheFCC Tweets Per Capita
Rank State Tweets per Capita Tweet Count Population
1 District of Columbia 320.33 1872 584,400
2 West Virginia 72.52 1335 1,840,802
3 Oregon 56.83 2138 3,761,925
4 Massachusetts 50.36 3262 6,477,096
5 New York 49.28 9477 19,229,752
6 Colorado 44.91 2195 4,887,061
7 Nevada 43.03 1133 2,633,331
8 Washington 42.70 2802 6,561,297
9 California 41.95 15370 36,637,290
10 Vermont 38.13 238 624,258
11 Illinois 37.54 4785 12,745,359
12 New Jersey 37.53 3273 8,721,577
13 Florida 36.36 6731 18,511,620
14 Rhode Island 35.97 380 1,056,389
15 Maryland 35.34 2013 5,696,423
16 Maine 34.65 460 1,327,665
17 Alaska 32.99 228 691,189
18 Arizona 32.77 2047 6,246,816
19 Missouri 32.30 1913 5,922,314
20 New Mexico 30.45 613 2,013,122
21 Texas 30.45 7402 24,311,891
22 Pennsylvania 30.11 3798 12,612,705
23 Minnesota 30.05 1575 5,241,914
24 Michigan 29.95 2981 9,952,687
25 Tennessee 29.25 1824 6,234,968
26 Utah 28.79 765 2,657,236
27 Ohio 28.73 3308 11,512,431
28 Iowa 28.55 861 3,016,267
29 Connecticut 26.43 937 3,545,837
30 Wyoming 25.84 141 545,579
31 North Carolina 25.36 2351 9,271,178
32 Wisconsin 25.13 1417 5,637,947
33 Indiana 25.10 1611 6,417,398
34 Hawaii 24.60 328 1,333,591
35 Montana 23.41 228 973,739
36 Nebraska 22.23 400 1,799,125
37 New Hampshire 22.22 292 1,313,939
38 Delaware 21.11 186 881,278
39 Kentucky 20.98 899 4,285,828
40 Virginia 19.48 1526 7,835,577
41 Idaho 19.39 296 1,526,797
42 South Carolina 18.93 854 4,511,428
43 Georgia 18.38 1740 9,468,815
44 Oklahoma 17.88 657 3,675,339
45 North Dakota 16.97 112 659,858
46 Alabama 16.23 765 4,712,651
47 Arkansas 14.83 426 2,872,684
48 Louisiana 14.38 637 4,429,940
49 Kansas 14.35 403 2,809,329
50 South Dakota 14.01 112 799,462
51 Mississippi 8.57 252 2,941,991

Source: Sperling’s BestPlaces – www.bestplaces.net

Infographic: Ransomware: Last Dance For Data?

Posted in Commentary with tags on December 15, 2017 by itnerd


Source: ISA

A Positive Update On The Issues With The Linksys WRT32X That Customers Are Experiencing

Posted in Commentary with tags on December 15, 2017 by itnerd

You might recall that Linksys recently pushed out a firmware update for their WRT32X router which is their flagship router. The firmware in question caused issues and resulted in frustration for many who use that router. Including yours truly. I was affected by this when they pushed this out. And I had issues when I tried to get help, though I was eventually able to roll back to a firmware that worked. Though that didn’t work for everyone. But by that point, things had escalated to such a point that both Netgear and ASUS were serving up routers to me in the hopes that I would review them and give them some positive PR in order to steal some marketshare from Linksys as they clearly were seeing the discontent from WRT32X users who just wanted this issue fixed. And they felt that Linksys wasn’t hearing them. So I offered some free advice to Linksys as one of the things that I do is help companies to build high performing technical support and customer service contact centers.

The good news is that Linksys has decided to take my advice. I had a conversation with a Linksys representative yesterday, and the following is happening.

  1. Linksys has publicly acknowledged that this issue exists via this note on their community forum here. Of note, this issue also affects the WRT3200ACM router as well.
  2. I complained that there was no easy way to get the previous firmware that worked. Linksys has now fixed that by posting this support document that walks one through downloading and resetting the WRT32X. This is exactly what I did and it remedied the problems that I had been seeing.
  3. Linksys is actively investigating this and they want to get a firmware that resolves this issue out on the streets as soon as possible. There was an rough ETA that was told to me, but I will not share it here as from personal experience, those ETAs can slip and it would not be fair to Linksys to hold them to that ETA. But what I will do for readers who have been following this issue is that I will test this firmware as soon as it’s available to me and I’ll let you know if it resolves the issue or not. In other words, I will be your “crash test dummy” so that you don’t have to do it yourself.

There’s some other things that we discussed in terms of the customer service that I experienced that Linksys is looking at as well. I’m going to circle back to that in a later story once the WRT32X issues are resolved as I really feel that what they’re doing to address those issues is a good news story that Linksys users will want to hear. The fact is that Linksys is doing what they need to do to resolve this. Some would say it should have happened quicker, and perhaps they have a point. But I’ve been doing this long enough that I have seen examples where a company does or says nothing at all. Thus I will give credit to Linksys for being engaged in this issue and I look forward to being to post an update to say that it’s been resolved very shortly.


If You Think Net Neutrality Can’t Be Taken Away In Canada, Think Again….

Posted in Commentary with tags on December 15, 2017 by itnerd

Yesterday, the Americans via the FCC rolled back net neutrality provisions. What that means is that in the US, there is no legal requirement for ISPs to treat all traffic equally. Thus if you’re on Comcast, the possibility exists for them to throttle or block Netflix so that it benefits Hulu which is part owned by Comcast for example. It’s a pretty regressive move and it’s likely to harm the Internet rather than help it.

Now, we in Canada have pretty good net neutrality rules as I recall living through the nightmares of years gone by where ISPs like Bell and Rogers would throttle or outright blocked certain types of traffic that they didn’t like. That’s good. But it seems that Bell wants to go back to those days. Under the guise of wanting to stop piracy, Bell wants to force Canada to scrap net neutrality rules. Plus Shaw is apparently wanting to join in and I’m pretty sure that if those two are in, Rogers won’t be far behind. And the telcos have brought a bunch of US studios and broadcasters in tow to make this happen. The thing is, Canadian law already deals with the issue of copyright and piracy. Thus many, including yours truly, feel that this is the thin edge of the wedge to dismantle net neutrality rules here.

Net neutrality is important as it encourages innovation as nobody in theory has an advantage. There have to be rules to maintain it in Canada. Plus I would argue that with the rather dumb move that the FCC made yesterday, it leaves Canada and any other country that has net neutrality rules with a golden opportunity to leapfrog the US when it comes to innovation on the Internet. Because with these rules being dismantled in the US, innovation sure isn’t going to happen there. Thus if the CRTC is smart, they’ll tell Bell and company to go fly a kite. However the word on the street is that Bell is so desperate for this that they’re trying to slip it into the NAFTA renegotiations that are ongoing.  That’s pretty sneaky. Given that they’re going that route, it likely wouldn’t hurt if the government at large gets a strong message from Canadians that this is unacceptable. Otherwise, what happened in the US yesterday will happen here. And it will have a significant negative impact on Canada.


Amazon Music Now Available on BluOS

Posted in Commentary with tags on December 14, 2017 by itnerd

Lenbrook International, the Canada-based developers of the BluOS music operating system, today announced that Amazon Music is available on all BluOS Enabled devices from Bluesound and NAD Electronics. BluOS customers in the US, UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain can now enjoy millions of songs with simple hassle-free controls and instant access to Amazon’s exclusive library of curated playlists in any room of the house, from streaming services Amazon Music Unlimited and Prime Music. Streamed music from Amazon Music and Prime Music can also be streamed to multiple BluOS Enabled devices simultaneously in the home, making for an even richer multi-room audio experience.

With Amazon Music, customers can now easily stream music through a home Wi-Fi network to any BluOS Enabled stereo component, speaker, or home theater, with the simple and intuitive controls of the BluOS Controller app for smartphone, tablet and desktop. Additionally, BluOS offers Amazon Music customers the option to build and create playlists in the BluOS app, which can be accessed at any time without having to switch or run multiple apps on their control device.

Customers can start streaming on BluOS today by upgrading their BluOS Enabled devices to software version 2.14.2 or higher and download the latest BluOS apps, version 2.14.0 or higher, for smartphone, tablet, and desktop.

To learn more about Amazon Music and its availability, visit www.amazon.com/amazonmusic.

Canadian Cyber Security Firm Launches New Standalone Incident Response Readiness Service

Posted in Commentary with tags on December 14, 2017 by itnerd
ISA, a Toronto-based cyber security firm with over 20 years of experience helping organizations of all sizes solve complex challenges relating to IT security, today launched its new standalone Incident Response Readiness Service designed to help Canadian organizations respond to cyberattacks in hours rather than days. The expanded service is the result of positive customer feedback from ISA’s years of experience providing incident response as well as the need for this type of offering due to the evolving cyberattack landscape. It takes a proactive approach to cyber security and helps customers cope with ever more sophisticated attacks.

A proactive approach is key because attacks are becoming more sophisticated. For example, cybercriminals are increasingly using file-sharing to distribute their malware payloads, according to recent data from ISA’s Cybersecurity Intelligence and Operations Centre (CIOC).

It’s easier to carry out an attack by moving within an organization rather than relying on e-mail attachments, Pollitt explained. According to customer network data gathered from the ISA CIOC, there was a 500 per cent increase in a file sharing exploit known as Samba, between Q2 and Q4 2017.

Learning the Samba (exploit)

A good example of the Samba exploit is “EternalBlue” because it was the underlying vulnerability in Windows that was exploited by the WannaCry ransomware to spread from network to network. Samba is an open source implementation of the Server Message Block networking protocol, which allows Linux systems to share file and print services with Windows machines. There were other separate flaws in Samba’s implementation of SMB not related to EternalBlue that could potentially lead to attacks as well.

Ransomware attacks that spread through exploits like Samba are, by their nature, extremely difficult to defend against and require a proactive security approach. The main reason is that in order for any business to go about its day-to-day activities, people need to share files. It would be unrealistic and ultimately detrimental to an organization’s survival to shut that file-sharing capability down.

Better to be prepared than sorry

It’s no secret that cyberattacks are on the rise. Recently an organization contacted ISA to help with a malware incident. The organization’s servers had gone offline and were rebooting. There was no patch management and the internal team was unprepared to deal with the threat.

ISA’s security team was able to identify a complex, multi-stage, zero-day threat for which there was no protection available and contain it before the malware reached its second stage. If the malware had deployed fully, it would have used the organization’s servers to mine virtual currency.

Taking action with Incident Response

ISA’s Incident Response Readiness Service provides an initial triage within 30 minutes of an attack, 24 hours a day, seven days a week through access to ISA’s CIOC. Without the Incident Response service, recovering after an attack can take days compared with hours.

ISA recommends implementing a documented Incident Response Plan based on a six-stage approach that ensures readiness throughout the Incident Response lifecycle.

  1. Preparation – Review of existing security infrastructure, preparing identification and response plans, and implementation of incident response tools and processes.
  2. Identification and Assessment – Timely detection of security incidents and determination of their nature and potential impact.
  3. Containment – Immediate action, using documented processes, to limit damage and prevent any further loss or impairment.
  4. Eradication – Evaluation of systems to ensure the security incident is fully remediated.
  5. Recovery – Restoration of data and network availability, as well as confidentiality and ongoing integrity.
  6. Lessons Learned – Review and assessment of the events and processes that have taken place, and application of improvements to the plan.

ISA recently published a whitepaper on its six-step plan, which can be downloaded here.