Archive for October 12, 2017

Review: EZOPower 6 Foot Braided Sleeve Sync & Charge Data Cable

Posted in Products with tags on October 12, 2017 by itnerd

Today I am reviewing a pair of cables that I plan to use in the kit that I travel with which (I hope) covers any problems that I face on the road. They’re from a company called EZOPower and they are their 6 Foot Braided Sleeve Sync & Charge Data Cable. Here’s what they look like.


You will notice that they have a woven fabric coating. That’s there to make the cable tangle free and durable while still being flexible. It also gives it a feeling of quality as plastic cables tend to feel cheap. The cable is also stiff when compared to most cords these days. Stiff and braided cable means that this isn’t going to get tangled as easily as other cords and that is a real plus for me as cables have tendency to mysteriously end up tangled in my corner of the planet. The company has also added foil and braid shielding to reduce EMI/RFI interference.  That way it ensures high-speed, error-free data transfer.

If I had a concern, it would be the strain relief which is this part of the cables:


The fact that the ends of the connectors aren’t that long is a concern as I have to wonder if they will hold up to the rigors that USB cables are exposed to. But to be fair, I haven’t had any problems thus far so maybe I am being overly paranoid.

I got two of these cables from Amazon. One was a USB to Micro USB and one as USB to Mini USB. The former was $6 CDN and the latter was $12 CDN. They also have USB-C and Lightning variants too, so you can likely find a cable that fits your needs and not spend a lot of money to get them.




Another Plot Twist On The Rogers/Apple Watch Series 3 Story

Posted in Commentary with tags on October 12, 2017 by itnerd

The ongoing saga of Rogers support of the Series 3 Apple Watch with LTE has taken another twist. Several readers over the last couple of days have alerted me to some Twitter interactions between Rogers customers and the Rogers Helps Twitter account. Below is one example of what they alerted me to:

Here’s why they pointed this out to me. It directly contradicts this statement that I covered here:

And at the time, that statement about not having eSIM support was a contradiction to several different statements that Rogers made when it was noticed that they were the only of the big three carriers not to have support for the Series 3 Apple Watch as well as shortly after the announcement was made by Apple. But at the time it seemed plausible based on this:

And what I said at the time was that if Fido didn’t support eSIM, Rogers didn’t either.

The bottom line is that the story from Rogers has yet again changed. And that change has not clarified the situation. But instead muddied the waters further. It’s almost like Rogers is desperately searching for a reason for why they don’t have support for this iteration of the Apple Watch in hopes of placating their customer base so that they won’t defect to Bell who currently has support for the Series 3 Apple Watch, and Telus who will have support for it on December 1st. This constant shifting of their stance isn’t helping their cause as now people in the Twitterverse are clearly looking for this and (via yours truly) are calling them on it. That’s a #PRFail.

What Rogers needs to do is to put out a clear and concise statement that is as robust, accurate, and truthful as possible. In it they should also lay out a timeline for when support will come so that their customers get some certainty which would allow them to decide to stick with the carrier or go elsewhere. Then they need to ensure the entire organization sings from the same songsheet. I suspect that if they did that, a lot of their customers would hang in with them until support for the Series 3 Apple Watch arrived. But with these constantly shifting statements from Rogers, customers don’t get the warm fuzzies and the risk of defections to other carriers skyrockets. The fact is that Rogers customers are now looking for every deviation that the carrier makes in their public statements, and that’s not a good place to be if you’re Rogers.

UPDATE: There’s still another twist to this story which you can find here.


Guest Post: NordVPN Tells You How to Protect Your Home from Digital Attacks

Posted in Commentary with tags on October 12, 2017 by itnerd

Modern connected homes come with risks – unprotected home Wi-Fi can be hacked into, with some dangerous consequences. It becomes especially dangerous if the home is equipped with many connected IoT (Internet of Things) devices. Hacking into one would allow criminals to access the whole network, forcing smart devices to behave in any way that they want. Identity theft can also result in a takeover of bank accounts, Social Security numbers and other private, vulnerable information.

Some methods that are usually used to detect and fix network problems can become powerful and easy-to-use hacking devices in the hands of criminals. For example, sniffing is a method that allows to see the data on a user’s network by tricking the network into passing the data to hacker’s computer first.

“New smart devices might actually have more problems than a house computer, which usually undergoes more rigid security control. Manufacturers keep producing various new Internet-connected things, often without taking the time to use the most secure technology,” said Marty P. Kamden, CMO of NordVPN (Virtual Private Network). “Your most vulnerable device could be a video camera or a network-connected printer. That device can compromise all network. Some of the most vulnerable IoTs that can have the most serious consequences if hacked include self-driving cars and medical devices.”

NordVPN provides basic security advice that each home needs to follow in order to protect their network.

  1. Use antivirus software. One of the basic rules is to use a reliable antivirus. Unfortunately, users must do their own research in order to choose the antivirus they trust, since opinions vary among different experts. Not all antivirus software is safe, as shown in the recent case with the Russian Kaspersky Lab antivirus that was used by Russian hackers to obtain NSA files.
  2. Use a firewall. The router must have up to date firewall software to protect from the newest potential hacker-installed malware that could, for instance, be used to steal one’s personal data.
  3. Enable two-factor authentication on your online accounts. Signing up for tw0-factor authentication with online accounts makes it harder for fraudsters to steal one’s identity. And even if it’s not foolproof protection from hackers, having a two-factor authentication is definitely better than signing in without it.
  4. When shopping online, use mobile or e-wallets. E-wallets are said to make online checkouts simpler and more secure. Payment processors, such as Apple Pay, PayPal, Google Wallet and others are already starting to implement this one-click method of payment.
  5. Install a VPN. VPNs are one of essential security mechanisms to protect personal networks from prying eyes., as they encrypt all the data shared between the Internet and VPN server. NordVPN uses advanced encryption protocols, has extensive global coverage and no logs policy.
  6. Change the default login information on the home router. It’s easy to change the default admin name and password – and it would make a hacker’s job much more difficult. After new changes are made, it’s important to log out.
  7. Don’t click on suspicious emails. Emails used for phishing will bear attachments, and they can even seemingly come from a friend.  Clicking on a link that comes with a legitimate-looking email can expose the whole home network to the danger of being hacked.
  8. Always update the systems of all connected devices. The operating systems on all house computers, tablets, phones and other devices should be up to date.
  9. Double-check the security features of each new device that is brought home. A new camera or printer might be efficient and perform very well, but it’s important to double-check their security features. It’s also better to turn their web interfaces off.
  10. Create another network. Create a new network – most routers will allow guest network connection. Exclude IoT devices that look least secure from the new network.

Should You Uninstall Kaspersky From Your Computer?

Posted in Commentary with tags on October 12, 2017 by itnerd

With the revelation that Russian spies have been using the beleaguered Kaspersky anti-virus software for years to troll for secrets, the question is, should you uninstall it from your computer or is it safe to leave on your system.

My answer would be to uninstall it. Instructions on how to do that can be found here.

Here’s my logic. Despite the company’s repeated denials of any connection to the Russian government, it doesn’t make sense to have this potentially dangerous piece of software on any system that you own given what we now know. Now let me be clear, the chances are low that Russian spies are going to be targeting you. But why take that chance? Dump it and be safer.

Besides, there’s a ton of other AV software that’s out there. If you run Windows 10. For Windows 7, look at downloading Microsoft Security Essentials. If you run Windows 8 or later, you get Windows Defender as part of the OS. On the Mac side, macOS does come with rudimentary malware protection. But I tend to recommend Sophos Home For Mac as that is pretty lightweight and provides great protection.

Oh, by the way, all the above won’t cost you anything more than your time as they are all free.

The fact is that given what we now know about this situation, you have to assume the worst and protect yourself accordingly. Perhaps this is paranoia at work here. But these days you can never be too careful.



Equifax Pwnage Gets Worse…. Much Worse

Posted in Commentary with tags on October 12, 2017 by itnerd

The hits keep coming from the saga of Equifax getting pwned in epic fashion. First up is this story that a reader pointed me towards:

Randy Abrams, an independent security analyst by day, happened to visit the site Wednesday evening to contest what he said was false information he had just found on his credit report. Eventually, his browser opened up a page on the domain that looked like this:

He was understandably incredulous. The site that previously gave up personal data for virtually every US person with a credit history was once again under the control of attackers, this time trying to trick Equifax visitors into installing crapware Symantec calls Adware.Eorezo. Knowing a thing or two about drive-by campaigns, Abrams figured the chances were slim he’d see the download on follow-on visits. To fly under the radar, attackers frequently serve the downloads to only a select number of visitors, and then only once.

Abrams tried anyway, and to his amazement, he encountered the bogus Flash download links on at least three subsequent visits. 

Wow. Now when the post that I linked to went online, the attacks stopped. So it is possible that Equifax got control of things again. But the fact that this even happened suggests that these clowns have learned nothing from being pwned.

But I’m not done yet. It now seems that as part of the epic pwnage of Equifax 10.9 million U.S. driver’s licenses were stolen: 

10.9 million U.S. driver’s licenses were stolen in the massive breach that Equifax suffered in mid-May, according to a new report by The Wall Street Journal. In addition, WSJ has revealed that the attackers got a hold of 15.2 million UK customers’ records, though only 693,665 among them had enough info in the system for the breach to be a real threat to their privacy. Affected customers provided most of the driver’s licenses on file to verify their identities when they disputed their credit-report information through an Equifax web page. That page was one of the entry points the attackers used to gain entry into the credit reporting agency’s system..

The higher amount of UK customer info that was swiped was something that I told you about yesterday. But the 10.9 million drivers licenses is new. That sort of information could cause havoc for years. I truly feel that we are still just learning how bad this pwnage was and perhaps (though unlikely) not even Equifax truly knows how much they were pwned. And we may never find out for sure. But every detail that does come out shows that this is bad….. And getting worse.