Archive for May 12, 2023

Review: BenQ DesignVue PD3220U 32″ Monitor

Posted in Products with tags on May 12, 2023 by itnerd

I’ll get this out of the way right now. The BenQ DesignVue PD3220U is either almost the perfect monitor for Mac users. Or it is the perfect monitor for Mac users. It depends on who you are and what you will use this monitor for. If you’re the average Mac user, you’re in the former camp. If you’re the target audience for this monitor, which are people who design content, you’re in the latter camp. Let me spend this review walking though the features of this monitor and pointing out the things that make it perfect for the latter camp, and slightly less so for the former camp.

It’s a 31.5-inch IPS panel with a resolution of 3840×2160 pixels which represents 140 ppi. While not Apple retina levels of ppi, fine detailing is still easy to see at a comfortable viewing distance. Given that I have a small standing desk from to place this monitor on, that’s something I did like. The monitor has a peak brightness of 300 nits which is the first issue that some might have with this monitor. Which is that you’ll either like the fact that this isn’t a super bright monitor that will sear your eyeballs, or you will wish that it was brighter. I personally, am ok with the brightness level that this monitor is capable of as this is aimed at people who don’t want super bright monitors. Designers and video editors for example. Though I will note that it pales in comparison to my MacBook Pro which can get to much higher brightness levels. Thus I can see some people being unimpressed at first glance and wanting it to be a bit brighter if they consume content as opposed to create it.

The display has 10-bit colour processing which delivers a palette of 1.07 billion colours, resulting in smoother shading, colour transitions and tonal gradations. On top of that, you get 100 percent of the sRGB colour space and its video equivalent, Rec.709. The display also covers 95 percent of the DCI-P3 colour space, and for video-makers, the PD3220U also handles HDR content via having HDR10 support. More on HDR in a bit. Oddly, BenQ doesn’t supply a specification for the Adobe RGB colour space. But there’s a calibration report in the box as it is a factory calibrated monitor. Finally, this is a 60Hz panel. And that brings me to the second issue that some will have with this monitor. For some, especially those who own newer MacBook Pros that are capable of ProMotion or the ability to ramp up the refresh rate up to 120Hz, the fact that this is a 60Hz monitor is pretty noticeable and may be a turn off to some. Others, again those who create content will likely not care. I say that because those who edit video for example are editing video at frame rates of 24 and 30 fps for example. And those who are doing photo editing for example will not care as they look at static images all day.

The monitor is mostly plastic. But it felt solid and the build quality looks good. The PD3220U has a matte anti-glare screen surface that BenQ doesn’t want you accidentally peeling off. In fact they have this sticker on the monitor telling you not to peel it off:

Consider yourself warned. This anti glare film does work though as it I noted no reflection in my home office which has a window on the left that even though it has blinds, it gets a lot of sunlight in the afternoon as it is facing west.

Let’s move on to connectivity. The PD3230U has lots of it:

The full list of connectivity for the back goes like this:

  • Two USB-A 3.1 downstream ports
  • One USB-B upstream port
  • A USB-B mini Port for the hotkey puck
  • Two HDMI 2.0 Ports
  • Display Port 1.4
  • Two USB Type C with Thunderbolt 3 connectivity. One is downstream and one is upstream.

Here you see the USB-C, USB-A and 3.5mm headphone jack that are located on the right side of the monitor. That way you can plug in a set of headphones or a USB stick.

All this connectivity gives you a one cable setup that delivers video, power (85W), and connectivity over a single Thunderbolt cable. For Mac users, especially portable ones, that’s the dream setup. This monitor also has support for a Keyboard Video Mouse (KVM) which allows for easier switching between two computers with a single keyboard and mouse. There’s also a ‘DualView’ mode for when you’re using one display with two inputs. Plus there’s all sorts of Picture in Picture modes that allow you to keep tabs on one of those computers. Finally, you can daisy chain two monitors together and still connect everything to your computer with one cable.

The PD3220U includes BenQ’s Hotkey Puck remote control dial. This plugs into the monitor via the mini USB port that I referenced earlier and is used to control monitor settings like brightness, colour modes and the volume of the built-in dual 2W speakers. Though I should mention that there are buttons on the back of the monitor if that’s your preference. In terms of the speakers, they are unremarkable as most monitor speakers tend to be.

Let’s get to the part that you care about. How does this monitor perform? Here’s the TL:DR on that:

  • The Display P3 colour mode is impressive. It has vibrant colours and excellent colour and contrast consistency.
  • BenQ has software called Display Pilot for the Mac that will help to make sure that my MacBook Pro Display matches the PD3220U as closely as possible is an excellent touch. I didn’t use that option when I reviewed this monitor. I simply put the monitor into “M-Book” mode and went to work. But content creators and control enthusiasts will appreciate that Display Pilot exists.
  • This monitor has a low blue light filter which helps reduce the amount of harmful blue light emitted by the display. This is especially useful for those who work long hours in front of a screen, as it can help to reduce the risk of eye fatigue and other related issues.
  • HDR-10 performance was a surprise for me. I typically don’t expect much from any monitor that has no local dimming ability, not to mention the brightness levels that this monitor has. But running some test HDR videos on this monitor revealed that you can view HDR with correct colours 100% of the time, which is very useful from a content creation perspective. But less useful for content consumption.

Another area that I want to touch on is the stand. It’s made of metal, features tool free assembly, and is solid. The monitor has a bit of shake to it if you shake the desk that it is on. But I didn’t notice any shaking while I was typing. The stand also has some basic cable management and is height adjustable as well as having the ability to tilt and swivel. Though in terms of height, it may not go high enough for those who are on the taller side. For those people, a good quality VESA mount (it supports 100×100 VESA mounts) may be your best option.

Finally, in the bonus points department, all cables are included in the box which makes life easy for anyone who buys this monitor as everything is there for you to set it up and use it.

The BenQ DesignVue PD3220U is going to be the perfect monitor, or almost perfect monitor depending on who you are. In my opinion if you’re a content creator of some sort, this monitor has to be on your shopping list. If you’re an average Mac user, this might not be the right monitor for you. Though given the connectivity options, it is still worth a look for that reason alone as there aren’t a lot of monitors outside of Apple’s own monitors that provide this level of connectivity. I found it on Amazon for $1500 CDN which isn’t exactly cheap. But I suspect for many, it will be at a price point that makes it worth considering.

Today Is Anti-Ransomware Day

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 12, 2023 by itnerd

Ransomware isn’t just a “thing” as the kiddies would say. It’s an insanely prevalent and dangerous threat. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, I’ve illustrated the costs and effects of ransomware. Thus anything that highlights the need to be better protected against ransomware is a win in my books. Which is why I applaud the fact that Anti-Ransomware Day exists as it really brings this threat to light and reminds all of us to do whatever we can to make sure that this day is no longer required.

I got the thoughts of Nic Finn, Senior Threat Intelligence Consultant, Guidepoint Research and Intelligence Team (GRIT) at GuidePoint Security on Anti-Ransomware Day.

“As we step into the fourth Anti-Ransomware Day, it’s clear that ransomware is still a dominant threat for organizations across the globe. Looking at GRIT’s ransomware dataset, we’ve observed a steady increase in victims published by ransomware groups. In 2021, from January 1st – May 12th, GRIT observed just over 700 reported victims. In 2022, that number increased to just over 1,000. So far, in 2023, we’ve observed more than 1,300 reported victims. This increase of roughly 300 reports per year also correlates to a shift in active groups, with Lockbit bounding to the most active group in 2022 and increasing their lead in 2023.”

“What’s more important than the number of reported victims and targeting by ransomware groups is how organizations are prepared to defend against and respond to ransomware. The availability of CISA’s Stop Ransomware resources is a massive value add for proactive organizations looking to protect against these threat groups. Additionally, defenders need to understand how they should respond when faced with a successful ransomware attack. Many organizations today still jump to check the ransomware group’s chat and can often have a negative impact on successful negotiation or delayment strategies. These teams should set up playbooks to ensure a coordinated and calculated response to ransomware attacks, which includes a thorough evaluation of the environment, solid backup practices, and knowledge of critical information and systems utilized across the environment.”

Just to highlight the sorts of things that Nic is seeing, I have the latest GRIT Ransomware Report for you to review. Along with that, I’m going to give you some resources to use. Starting with The Ransomware Playbook that the Canadian Center For Cybersecurity put out. The CISA has done something similar with their Ransomware Guide. Both are great resources and I highly recommend reading both.

Elon Musk Claims That He Has Picked A New Twitter CEO To Try And Fix The Disaster That He Created

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 12, 2023 by itnerd

Last night this Tweet got a lot of people’s attention:

Digging around to find out who she was, I found this:

NBCUniversal executive Linda Yaccarino is in talks to become Twitter’s chief executive officer, the Wall Street Journal reported, following owner Elon Musk’s announcement that he had found a new leader for the social network and will shift into the role of chief technologist.

In a tweet on Thursday, Musk said the company’s new CEO will start in about six weeks, without naming the individual. Yaccarino, who is chairman of global advertising and partnerships at NBCUniversal Media, didn’t respond to an email seeking comment, and a representative for NBCUniversal said she was in rehearsals for the company’s upfront presentation to advertisers next week.

This is clearly an attempt to placate advertisers and try to bring them back to the platform as Yaccarino has the connections to try and right that ship. I say “try” because I am not sure that she would be able to actually get things back on course. I say that because there’s the fact that Elon is hanging around as CTO. And Elon owns the place. So I don’t see a scenario where he stays in his lane and takes direction from Yaccarino. Given that fact, if I would offer her any advice, I would say run as far away from Twitter as you possibly can. Working with this clown isn’t worth it. That of course assumes that Yaccarino actually took the job. Nothing that I found online suggests that she has. But given how much of a circus that Twitter is, nothing would surprise me at this point.

Advanced Bad Bots Now Account For 51% Of All Malicious Traffic: Imperva

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 12, 2023 by itnerd

The new 2023 Imperva report describes how bad bot traffic has increased to over 30% of all Internet traffic since they first measured it at 13% back in 2013. 

ATO attacks: Account takeover attacks (ATO) traced to malicious bots growing by 155% last year, driving up credential stuffing and brute force attacks. The report states that fully 15% of all login attempts were classified as ATO.

API attacks: The report also noted that 17% of all attacks on APIs last year came from malicious bots abusing business logic and 21% of the attacks or other types of automated threats.

“A business logic attack is an attack that targets flaws in the design and implementation of an application. Such flaws can be exploited by attackers to manipulate legitimate functionality and achieve various types of malicious goals such as stealing sensitive data and gaining illegal access to user accounts.”

The US saw over 32% of all malicious bot attacks, while Germany and Ireland absorbed 60% of all the attacks.

Largest Share of Advanced Bad Bot Traffic By Industry in 2022 

  • Law & Government 89.0%
  • Travel 63.4%
  • Telecom & ISPs 60.5%
  • Retail 51.9%
  • Financial Services 45.8%

Carol Volk, EVP, BullWall (she/her)

   “According to the 2023 Imperva bad bot report, advanced bad bots now constitute more than half of all malicious traffic, with the bad bot traffic rising to over 30% of all internet traffic since 2013, much of which can be attributed to increasing use of AI. The surge in AI assisted cyberattacks is just beginning. 

   “Sophisticated ransomware attacks have increased by an alarming rate as cybercriminals are using AI to make their attacks even more potent. According to cybersecurity experts, ransomware attacks have become more sophisticated, automated, and targeted, thanks to the use of AI. With these attacks becoming more effective, the cost of remediation and recovery is increasing, leading to financial and reputational damages.”

Mark Bermingham, VP, Cyware:

   “This trend is alarming, but also unsurprising. Attackers will continue to pursue any viable path of exploitation. The sad truth is a lot of this is identified by threat intel. Aligning threat intel insights, both trending and historical, with actions based on these insights would provide defenders with capability that would limit the effectiveness and/or longevity of an attack. The tools exist, the data exists. Aligning these two information assets with action, some of which can be driven by automation, presents an attractive path forward for defenders.”

What this report shows is that care and attention needs to be taken to make sure weaknesses in applications and networks are not only addressed, but defenders have all the tools that they need to make sure that the bad guys don’t get in. Without both of those things, this problem will only get worse.

Google Puts Dark Web Monitoring In The Hands Of US Gmail Users

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 12, 2023 by itnerd

Google announced a new security feature that will allow all US Gmail users to be able to use Google’s dark web report to discover if their email address has been found on the dark web and also take action with guidance provided by Google, such as turning on two-step authentication.

Originally only available to Google One plans, all Gmail accounts will now be regularly reminded to check if their email has been linked to any data breaches that ended up on nefarious cybercrime forums.

“And if any matching info is found on the dark web, we’ll notify you and provide guidance on how you might protect that information,” said Google One Director of Product Management Esteban Kozak.

Google also announced that it upgraded the Safe Browsing service on Chrome and Android to catch and block 25% more phishing attempts, and that Google added a new spam view in Google Drive.

Roy Akerman, Co-Founder & CEO, Rezonate had this to say:

   “Google’s extension of its dark web report beyond Google One plans is a step in the right direction and part of Google’s responsibility in the ecosystem. This will reduce compromised accounts and further fraudulent attempts against businesses who’s corporate’s credentials were compromised. However, we seen with Google One existing customers, they may be aware their information is available in the dark web, yet no action is taken. Knowing is not enough, action must be taken to understand the potential risk and account changes must be put in place.”

I’ve always argued that if you give users the tools to protect themselves, and more importantly educate them on how to use those tools, that will help users to become more secure. Google has got the part right these tools existing mostly right as this needs to go beyond US users. But I hope Google really pushes to promote this so as to make sure that as many people as possible know these tools exist and how to use them. Because a single announcement won’t do.