Category Archives: Operating System

Operating Systems – Quick Update

brilliance controlIt’s time to get past the discussions on politics, religion, or anything else that you might find disagreeable. It’s time to put back on my favorite hat, Computer Tech. (click here for musical fanfare in background)

I have without hesitancy, been a big fan of Linux instead of Microsoft Windows. If you’re satisfied with Windows and don’t care to explore the other options available for mostly FREE, then please go back to watching cat videos… Make a cake then… if you don’t like cat videos.

I’m using a well-known and popular LINUX version, UBUNTU. All of the tools and programs I require are readily available using this operating system.

desktop_image_ubuntu

An image from my desktop using UBUNTU

If you have an older PC (more than 3 years old), you may find it a bit sluggish or you missed the free upgrade path from Windows XP, Vista, Win8, to Windows 10. If that’s the situation for you, I would like to suggest some alternatives.

Another reason(s) to run LINUX is for security, and finer control of user access to the computer system. If you run a business, this is especially important. I’m going to start with this recommendation of LINUX. RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) has been around for decades. They offer some of the best, secure, server solutions. There is also a free version of this, CENTOS. Obviously, free is good, but the better support and latest releases will be found in the paid versions.

CENTOS 7 desktop

Click on image for details

Let’s start on the ground floor.

If you’re someone not as familiar with trying a new operating system or concerned on negatively impacting your existing computer, I might suggest any of the following options.

  1. Go to this page and find out more.
  2. Check out the links I’ve provided (they’re underlined) to find out more.
  3. Contact me through this post. If you leave a contact email addy, I can respond.

There are a few beginning steps to take whenever you try something new, but believe me, trying LINUX is going to be a very easy step. I find ordering a disk online or buying a magazine from a book store which includes a disk, are easy ways to try a new flavor without having to install it. If you have a CD drive in your laptop or desktop, it’s a very simple process of inserting and trying the new operating system.

One of the latest installations I’ve done, are for my grandchildren. I installed Voyager. It started out as a derivative of XFCE but is now based on a simpler interface to UBUNTU. I had an older PC with a relatively small amount of memory and a slower processor.  It’s noticeably faster on Voyager than the original installed Microsoft Windows, and it automatically found and installed the wireless network connection.

voyager_linux_desktop

Voyager desktop image – click for more details

One of my favorites, which I use on my laptop PC is LINUX Mint. The user interface is much like a Windows PC with less opportunities to viruses and hacking. Even still, be sure to enable the firewall and an anti-virus program.

linux-mint-desktop

Linux Mint – Click on image for more information

Here’s a recap. I would recommend the following but this shouldn’t be considered the final word.

  • CENTOS – server distribution for small to medium sized business.
  • RHEL – get everything CENTOS offers plus the latest changes and support.
  • Voyager – If you’re just starting out and want to become familiar. It looks a lot like a MAC OS.
  • UBUNTU – my favorite to use and get all of the tools as well as good third party support.
  • Mint – Based on UBUNTU with an easy to learn user presentation. Some people prefer straight on UBUNTU while others like the friendlier interface of Mint. Either choice is great.

Check out the video below for another opinion.

Enjoy!

Getting Rich May Be More Difficult

Perhaps that title should read, getting rich may be more difficult if your honest, but cybercrime is paying well.

Back in the 1930’s a bank robber by the name of Willie Sutton was asked, “why do you rob banks?” His answer supposedly was, “that’s where the money is…”

As to what actually motivated Sutton to hold up banks, as he said in Where the Money Was: “Why did I rob banks? Because I enjoyed it. I loved it. I was more alive when I was inside a bank, robbing it, than at any other time in my life. I enjoyed everything about it so much that one or two weeks later I’d be out looking for the next job. But to me the money was the chips, that’s all.” Read more at Snopes.

As of October 11, Malware Must Die had identified a total of 53 distinct web addresses involved in bot attacks, 25 of them located in the U.S. The attacks have been traced back to a total of 23 countries. This is from an article in SecurityWeek, I recommend you follow this link for further details.

bugs & malware

“These attacker IPs are the combination between (known) Mayhem bots we monitor and unknown sources (including the suspected possibility of new panels/CNC/bots),” Malware Must Die wrote in a blog post.

“Many of today’s enterprises have adopted public cloud-based services that run on systems that can be infected by Mayhem, but the enterprise has no visibility into whether servers have been patched, no ability to dictate patch schedules, and no visibility into whether exploits of Mayhem have resulted in theft of their data or user credentials,” Rich Campagna, VP of products at Bitglass, told SecurityWeek.

Shellshock the new normal of vulnerabilities?

The latest trends suggest the business of cybercrime is doing rather well adapting to the higher security landscape of digital domains and creating new methods for extracting financially rewarding data. ShellShock is one such exploit that lends itself well to repackaging legal and popular apps (application software) with a way to finding vulnerability in servers as well as many Apple OS products. Data exploits into gaining illegal access at J.C. Penny, Home Depot, J.P. Morgan are merely the tip of an iceberg in cybercrime.

server rackOne of the 10 Digital World Commandments — “Know thy cloud vendor” It’s critical to know your web host services vendor or your cloud vendor, and has patched for Shellshock & Heartbleed vulnerabilities.

Another Digital World Commandment — “Thou shall avoid Loading Apps unless you know their source” The path to making a significant living for some people is to develop an application which becomes highly popular (goes viral) then attracts enough attention from a large company to buy them out. It’s happened quite a few times, which has also attracted the attention of criminals to take the original app and bundle it with an exploit and then promote this combined program on the Internet. It may even be given away so that it gets a wider distribution. After all, the offending party doesn’t care about earning revenue through software sales. Their payoff is when you load the new app on your smart phone or digital device of your choosing. Then when loaded, the exploit goes to work behind the scenes to further compromise the security of your device. Gathering financial information is big business, especially if you live in a country that won’t prosecute or extradite you.

Professionals may be interested in the following resources:


 

Security Warning!

More Tips on Computer & Internet Security

We have all been exposed to the news about Heartbleed but there’s more to consider than just this latest news about a security threat. Many people assume their cell phones are secure, their home computers, which they seldom use, etc. Sadly, that’s not necessarily true.

BlackBerry 10 is under a security advisory. Go here if you own this product.

Microsoft Windows is a good product but because it has been around and so popular, it routinely gets hacked. I don’t care who tells you Windows XP is safe to use, I strongly urge you to upgrade to a newer operating system. That being said there are a lot of things you can still acquire unknowingly. May I suggest two things; be sure you only use one security program per the type of task you want it to perform. That is to say, if you’re trying to prevent a virus infection, use only one anti-virus. I saw a computer running 3 anti-virus programs at once. If memory serves me correctly they were AVG, McAfee and Norton. It isn’t important as to which ones but be aware there’s no tripling of effective protection, rather there’s likely to be more false positives as these thrash about on your PC.

It’s certainly OK to purchase an anti-virus program, a digital defense program designed to hide your identity and a firewall from separate firms. It’s also OK to purchase a comprehensive program from the same company. Kapersky offers this type of security suite. Go here to find out more.

ACTION PLAN

Test you computer for problems with this program. You can download it here, from Kapersky.

On a public wireless? Be careful what you do in public wi-fi hotspots, someone may be listening in on your digital communication. Don’t ever do any financial services logins in a public wireless environment.

Do you own a smart phone? Well, there are a lot of free applications for your smart phone. Do you know some of them may be spying on you? Some turn on the microphone, and others turn on the camera without you knowing it’s happening. Built in GPS tracking so marketing people can find out where you go and what you purchase. Sound like a story of paranoia? Well unfortunately it’s true. There’s a solution to the problem for some users. If you own an Android phone, the software is ready now. Apple phones will see a release soon. Go here to find out more.

Some wireless communication has been vulnerable to a an attack from “The Beast”. No, it isn’t a comic book character. Another supposedly secure communications protocol, TLS, was compromised. Go here to find out if your Siemens wireless backbone requires a fix.

Something Useful

If you’re a support person in a small company or non-profit that requires image download capability, there’s a cloning tool readily available for free. Find out more about FOG.

FOG is a Linux-based, free and open source computer imaging solution for Windows XP, Vista and 7 that ties together a few open-source tools with a php-based web interface. FOG doesn’t use any boot disks, or CDs. Do you need an image downloaded to a new workstation entering your office or place of business? This is a free tool to reimage your disk drive and get your PC’s all running off the same  self-tested image.

Do you want to know what threats are active? Go here to find out.

Stay safe!