Archive | Kansas City IT Support
It’s pretty well known that many websites make an effort to track you online. Even when your not on their site! But, just how much tracking is going on?
We decided to do a “quick and dirty” look at a few popular websites to see just how many different trackers are deployed. And, it’s not pretty. In fact, it’s pretty ugly.
- Drudgereport.com is by far the worst offender with at least 37 different cookies, trackers, advertising preference systems, etc. looking at you.
- The Kansas City Star’s website, KansasCity.com has 13 peeking at what your doing.
- KCTV5.com weighs in with 16.
- The popular humerous headline site Fark.com is a heavyweight with 19 different trackers.
- And last, but not least, on our list is the popular fact checking site Snopes.com. Which is using 28 different tools to see what your doing online.
Now, what happens when you block most (if not all) of these different little logical spy devices? When tested on a 1.5Mbs DSL connection (fast enough to get results, slow enough to calculate differentials) we got some significant results. Here’s what we did:
- Blocked all advertising trackers.
- Left open all trackers that serve a useful purpose (live support, security checking, etc.).
- Loaded a predetermined set of websites and a Firefox Macro Script that would load each page in succession. After one page fully loads, it loaded the next.
We cleared the system Cache between each test run (and we did 10 runs of the tests).
Well, go figure! You can surf much faster with all that “spying into what your doing stuff” turned off! Significantly faster (tests ranged from 10-14% faster). And, we wern’t leaking all kinds of personal data, surfing history, etc. out to other people we just think have no business tracking us.
Want to protect your personal and business information? Give us a call or email. We can not only block out the “bad actors” that are tracking you and your employees every online move, it’ll get you a little bit more out of your existing Internet connection speed too.
Have you noticed that when you search for something on Ebay, Amazon, Google, that the advertising on pages seem to know what you’ve been looking for? For Example, look up “LED 3051 Strips” on Google and suddenly ads for lighting fixtures, Ebay auctions, LED suppliers and the like now appear on every page you look at. It’s call “contextural advertising”. Web sites are setting “cookies” in your browser that their advertising networks look at when you surf a page and then display advertising for the things you’ve looked for most recently.
Sometimes it’s okay. You can find things that your looking for via an ad. Sometimes it’s just creepy. Don’t believe me? Then google for “Hot Crossed Buns” and see what happens to the ads that are presented to you. Yeah, creepy. But, you can put a stop to sites that you don’t want tracking you (like Facebook) by using the Opt Out from Online Behavioral Advertising site. A self-regulation effort that is honored by Ebay, Facebook, etc. It’s not perfect. But, it really helps. Here’s how it works (from the page itself, which is located at http://www.aboutads.info/choices
- Find out which participating companies have currently enabled customized ads for your browser;
- See all the participating companies on this site and learn more about their advertising and privacy practices;
- Check whether you’ve already opted out from participating companies;
- Opt out of browser-enabled interest-based advertising by some or all participating companies, using opt-out cookies to store your preferences in your browser; or
- Use the “Choose All Companies” feature to opt out from all currently participating companies in one step. GO
Need even more powerful blocking? Call, email, or simply CLICK HERE and OPENRSM can take care of it for your business.
It seems to be Apple’s turn in the data wars between “fast buck” artists and real companies.
Apple iPhones/Pads are locking up all over Australia and the UK and being held for ransom by a scammer that has managed to gain control of the devices. Apple has yet to comment but incidents in the US can’t be far behind. The “Find My iPhone” service seems to be the only link between the users whose iPhones and iPads are being “held hostage” by the scammers.
From an article in The Telegraph: “Currently there is only speculation about how the attacks have been carried out. Apple has not yet responded officially,”… “With the possibility that this attack is linked to your ‘Apple ID’, affected users are advised to change your Apple ID password as soon as possible.”
And, so you should.
Last nite, an official PayPal blogpost contained nothing but a title… “eBay, Inc. to Ask All eBay users to Change Passwords.”. Which was quickly taken down only after being tweeted and posted to Facebook many times. Later, Ebay reported on it’s own official blog that their corporate network security had been breached… In late February and early March.
What to do? Log on to your EBay account and change your password! And do the same with your PayPal accounts (as PayPal is owned by EBay and data is shared between the two (i.e. sharing the same corporate network).
You can view the offical Ebay blogpost at: https://blog.ebay.com/ebay-inc-ask-ebay-users-change-passwords/
It has come to our attention that there are serious flaws that have been identified in Sophos Anti-Virus by security researchers at Google.
OPENRSM has never used, nor provided, Sophos Anti-Virus. And it seems that our own internal evaluation to not provide or support Sophos has been sustained (for additional reasons) by Google.
You can read the 30 page report by Google HERE:
You can read more about the findings that Sophos is insecure HERE.
Ever wonder why there seems to always be a PC that’s slow, infected, issuing pop-ups, redirecting your Google searches, etc?
It’s because they’re infected! “But we have anti-virus installed on all our machines” is the usual self-denial cycle that sets in. Usually followed with “why can’t you keep this from happening? Your the expert here?”. Which is a valid question. And now, what we’ve been telling our customers for years has been documented.
An article in Forbes (click HERE) tells the tale. The people who publish software are often unaware of their own security weaknesses for months on end. Ten months is the average. This means that your anti-virus/malware software won’t even know about the threat from a “Zero Day” exploit when you click that dubious link that causes your system to become infected.
Or, as the article in Forbes put it… “…the value of the benevolent hackers who find and report bugs in software before they’re exploited. Without someone to dig them up and demand they be fixed, those hackable flaws are far more common, and remain secret far longer, than anyone may have realized.”
Which is exactly why you have PCs in your business that get “infected” with malware, adware, etc. And it’s exactly why every business needs to have a company like OPENRSM taking care of your critical business network and systems. Having people that understand the cold hard realities of protecting networks and pc’s and more importantly, being able to get rid of malware and viruses without your anti-virus protection even knowing that something is wrong.
Many of our Friends and Customers know that OPENRSM is a proud supporter of Scouting and Scouts. And on this Independence Day we’d like to pause and think not only of our own Freedom’s and Liberty. But also how it is also celebrated by the “Good Turn” done daily by Scouts. A case in point…. The many replica Statue of Liberty installations across America.
The Boy Scouts of America celebrated their fortieth anniversary in 1950 with the theme of “Strengthen the Arm of Liberty”. Between 1949 and 1952, approximately two hundred 100-inch replicas of the statue, made of stamped copper, were purchased by Boy Scout troops and donated in 39 states in the U.S. and several of its possessions and territories. The project was the brainchild of Kansas City businessman J.P. Whitaker, who was then Scout Commissioner of the Kansas City Area Council (now known as the Heart of America Council).
Over the years many cities and towns have benefitted from the gift from their local Scout Troops. Some of which have been expanded into a mini-pavillion celebrating America’s Freedom, and the sacrifices made to preserve our freedom. One of note is located in Cape Girardeau, MO. The local VFW and American Legion have generously added to the monument with a listing of those from the area that have sacrificed all for their country.
With the same local Scouts, Scout Troops, and others pitching in to both maintain and improve a local symbol of the Liberties and Freedom’s we enjoy. The Scouts continuing to “Do a Good Turn Daily” for all of us.
Happy 4th of July!
Have you endured the “FUD” salespitch? Signed a maintenance agreement for your computer systems only to later discover then not much has changed except that your costs have increased? Well, it turns out your not alone. In an article published in Data Center Knowledge a study has shown that the more maintenance you do, the more downtime your likely to have.
From the article… â€œThereâ€™s this mantra that more maintenance equals more reliability,â€ said Steve Fairfax, the President of MTechnology. â€œWe get the perception that lots of testing improves component reliability. It does not. The most common threat to reliability is excessive maintenance.â€
Many Kansas City IT departments are often locked into rigid over maintenance. The same goes for many Kansas City Computer service companies. Selling ‘real time monitoring’, solidifying their pitch with a free network assessment, etc. all designed around ‘FUD’… Fear Uncertainty, and Doubt. But now, (way too long in our opinion) there are some facts that blows the over hyped maintenance plan sales pitch out of the water.
Which helps us all bring a little more reality and a lot more awareness of the bottom line into the picture. Proper maintenance doesn’t have to cost a fortune. More maintenance than what is necessary can actually hurt your IT infrastructure.
You happen to have a high cost maintenance plan your afraid to cancel? An IT company pitching a plan to you? Do yourself a favor… Call OPENRSM today and ask for a second opinion. We won’t sell you a thing, just provide a qualified assessment of what your business really needs to do for the best ROI for your data infrastructure dollar.
It was just announced that Steve Jobs has died.Â And with his passing, a part of my own personal past.
It’s funny how when someone “Rich and Famous” dies affects you.Â A favorite actor, sports figure, etc. This is different.Â I havn’t told many people about my own personal encounters with Steven P Jobs.Â And now the “Kansas City IT Guy” is going to tell you “The Rest of the Story”.
When the Apple II was first rumored I had just purchased an Apple I.Â The funny computer board with no case, keyboard, or video output (you had to build all that yourself) was assembled and mounted inside a Heathkit Ascii Terminal kit.Â Pretty fancy stuff that stretched my own personal abilities in electronics assembly at the time.Â And shortly thereafter I purchased an Apple II right when they came out from a dealer in Columbia MO who happened to actually have one available.Â It was $1,380.00 (which was more than my Chevy Luv Pickup truck cost).
Which is how I had the opportunity to have some discussions with a young man only a couple years older than myself, in a garage, in California.Â All from my parents house in Cape Girardeau, MO.
The Apple I had issues.Â I called the number on the hand written invoice and a guy named “Steve” answered the phone.Â Elated that I was happy with the Apple I but thoroughly incapable of helping me with mine.Â He waxed poetic about the new Apple II coming out.Â Told me it was “insane” how great it was, etc.Â And then I was passed (literally, the phone was passed, no hold or anything) to another guy named Steve who was so technically beyond me that it took some effort to figure out just what he was talking about.Â Til it dawned on me he was discussing replacing an IC Chip that I could get from Radio Shack. A $5.00 fix.
And yes, that was Steve Wozniac that told me to go to Radio Shack for that $5.00 part.
But the phone was passed again to “The Real Steve”…Â I was drilled, pinned, unable to just let the call go.Â “You should become an Apple Dealer”, he said.Â “This is gonna change everything for everybody”, he said. The pure enthusiasm was not lost on me.Â I like it when people believe in what they’re doing and in what they’re selling.Â Which is the primary reason I bought the Apple II which served faithfully and well through four jobs and three moves over the course of time I had it.
And I wouldn’t have learned as much, as fast, if I hadn’t gotten it.Â All thanks to a young entreprenuer and his partner that took the time to talk with an even younger guy from Cape Girardeau Missouri.
Godspeed, Steve…Â As much as I didn’t care for some of the things Apple has done, I do appreciate the time we talked and the Apples I bought.
Windows8 has been released to developers and so has the “Metro” interface.Â And the Metro interface is both the same, and different than what your used to.Â To put it simply, Metro is like your Android or iPhone screen, and the regular Windows interface is more like Windows LiveMail.Â The old Windows interface is gone.
Along with that is a general “disdain” for the Windows interface in Microsoft documentation itself.Â Perhaps giving a clue that Metro is where Microsoft wants all your Desktop computers to run with all your applications running under it.Â And no wonder.Â All Microsoft Metro Applications will be exclusively delivered by…Â The Windows Online Store!
To directly quote Microsoft documentation…Â “Speaking of discoverability, all roads, as the saying goes, lead to the Windows Store.”, and “For Metro style apps, that is, the Windows Store is the only means of general distribution”.Â And finally, “As such, your relationship with the Store really defines your business, whether youâ€™re in it for fame, fortune, fun, or philanthropy.”.
Which means Microsoft wants money for every application installed on Windows even if (especially if) that application comes from a company other than Microsoft.
And that’s okay.Â The model works well for the iPhone, iPad and other devices.Â And Microsoft stands to make a ton of money doing it.Â But this will drive your IT costs higher.Â Your a couple years from full out deployment of Windows8 and Metro, so you have time to plan accordingly.