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Kevin Frankish, The Iron Sheik duke it out on social media

Winston Sih | posted Friday, Apr 25th, 2014

Take a look at the hilarious social media back-and-forth that ensued when The Iron Sheik couldn’t make his appearance on Breakfast Television Thursday.

Then, The Iron Sheik watches and responds!

The social media buzz continues, and the man himself sends us an Instagram video message.

Upon more discussion of the back-and-forth on the air, The Iron Sheik sends us some choice words on Twitter and Instagram.

And with the help of wrestler Dolph Ziggler, Kevin Frankish shoots a message in return on the BT Instagram account!

Connected City: How Cold Turkey program works

Winston Sih | posted Thursday, Apr 24th, 2014

Connected City

A program called Cold Turkey can help you get your productivity back on track by blocking access to websites. City digital media correspondent Winston Sih takes a look at how it works.

Catch Connected City with Winston Sih on his weekly segment airing on CityNews: The 5.  View all previous segments by clicking here.

Heartbleed bug: What you need to know

Winston Sih | posted Thursday, Apr 10th, 2014

heartbleed-featuredSecurity researchers have uncovered a fatal flaw in a key safety feature for surfing the Web — the one that keeps your email, banking, shopping, passwords and communications private.

Here’s what you need to know.

What is it?

It’s called the Heartbleed bug, and it is essentially an information leak.

It starts with a hole in the software that the vast majority of websites on the Internet use to turn your personal information into strings of random numbers and letters. If you see a padlock image in the address bar, there’s a good chance that site is using the encryption software that was impacted by the Heartbleed bug.

What sites have been affected?

Click here to refer to a comprehensive list of patched sites from CNET.

Users can easily check if a site is secure by going to this website: http://filippo.io/Heartbleed/

What does it do?

Heartbleed allows outsiders to peek into the personal information that was supposed to be protected from snoopers.

The bug allows potential hackers to take advantage of a feature that computers use to see if they’re still online, known as a “heartbeat extension.” But a malicious heartbeat signal could force a computer to divulge secret information stored in its memory, including keys to an encryption tool that turns your credit card information and passwords into indecipherable code.

Once a hacker has the keys to the encryption software, it’s game over — usernames, passwords, bank information and all the other data that you thought were safe are potentially up for grabs. Making matters worse, the Heartbleed bug leaves no traces — you may never know when or if you’ve been hacked.

“You could watch traffic go back and forth,” said Wayne Jackson III, CEO of open source software company Sonatype. “This is a big deal. When you think about the consequences of having visibility into Amazon and Yahoo, that’s pretty scary.”

Who does this affect?

Most major websites are targets, because they rely on this program. A survey conducted by W3Techs show that 81% of sites run on web server programs Apache and Nginx, and both are vulnerable to the Heartbleed bug.

Many popular sites, including Amazon, Yahoo and OKCupid, use those encryption tools. Yahoo, Amazon and OKCupid have updated their websites with a fix for the bug, but many others have not patched their sites yet.

What can I do?

Not much, unfortunately — the websites themselves need to update to a new version of the encryption software to fix the bug. That’s why changing all your passwords right away isn’t a good idea. Websites are all racing to fix the issue, and if you act too quickly, you might change your password on a site that is still vulnerable.

Italian cryptographer Filippo Valsorda launched the “Heartbleed Test,” which purports to tell you if websites are still compromised.

With files from CNN

Online resources:

Windows XP support ends: What you need to know

Winston Sih | posted Tuesday, Apr 8th, 2014

Microsoft is saying goodbye to Windows XP.

Although the operating system is more than 12 years old, and Windows XP computers haven’t been shipped since 2010, there are still millions of them in use. Gartner estimates that as much as 25 per cent of Windows PCs in the workplace are running XP. Consumers tend to be even slower in upgrading.

Why so many XP computers? XP’s successor, Vista, was unpopular, so many XP owners held off upgrading. In addition, many consumers are buying smartphones and tablet computers instead of upgrading old PCs.

Microsoft Corp. is pushing remaining XP owners to upgrade to a newer operating system, such as Windows 7 or 8. It will still be possible to use existing Windows XP computers after Microsoft retires it Tuesday, but that comes with risks.

Here’s a guide to the risks and your options.

___

Q. What happens on Tuesday?

A. That’s the day Windows XP reaches what Microsoft calls “end of support.”

XP made its debut in 2001 and retired from retail stores as boxed software in 2008. PC makers were allowed to sell computers with Windows XP for another two years.

In recent years, Microsoft hasn’t done much with XP beyond releasing updates on the second Tuesday of each month to fix newly discovered security flaws. This Tuesday is the last time Microsoft is doing that for XP, so any problems discovered after that won’t get fixed.

You’ll still be able to run XP computers and install past updates. If you need to reinstall XP from scratch, you can do so if you still have the discs that came with your computer.

Microsoft will still provide updates for its anti-malware software for XP until July 2015, but the company warns it will offer limited protection.

___

Q. How do I know if my computer is running XP?

A. This Microsoft site will check: http://amirunningxp.com. If you have XP, the site will go through your options.

Even if you don’t visit the website, you may still get a pop-up notification, depending on how your computer’s configured to check for Windows updates.

___

Q. If XP will still run, why do I need to upgrade?

A. A big reason is security. Hackers know Microsoft will no longer fix security flaws, so evil-doers have extra incentive to look for them. In addition, if a flaw is found for Windows 7 or 8, there’s a good chance a similar issue exists for XP as well. So when the fixes come out for Windows 7 or 8, hackers can go back to XP to look for an opening.

Hackers have become more sophisticated, and lately they have been breaking into computers for financial gain rather than just pride. So the risk is greater than when Microsoft retired past systems such as Windows 95 and 98.

There are also performance issues. If you buy a new printer or scanner, it might not work on XP. Same goes for new software, particularly if it needs faster processors and more memory beyond what was standard in XP’s heyday. XP also lacks features that are common with newer operating systems, including energy-saving measures for laptops.

___

Q. What are my options for upgrading?

A. You can upgrade to Windows 7 or 8 by buying a disc. You will need to back up your files and have discs for any programs you may have installed, as upgrading requires completely wiping your hard drive and starting from scratch. Microsoft sells Windows 8 as an upgrade for $120; be sure to buy the DVD version and not the download. Retail sales of Windows 7 have ended, though you might be able to find leftover copies for sale online.

That said, it’s probably not worth the upgrade. Your XP computer is several years old and might not even meet the system requirements to upgrade. Use this tool to check: http://bit.ly/KkZERx .

Even if an upgrade is possible, the money is better spent toward a new computer. Microsoft says many PC makers are offering deals timed to XP’s retirement.

Be aware that either way, you may also need to buy new software, as older versions might not run on Windows 7 or 8. Microsoft, for instance, is also ending support for Office 2003 on Tuesday.

___

Q. My XP computer works fine and fits my needs —and I don’t want to spend money on an upgrade or a new machine. What should I do?

A. If despite the warnings, you are still running XP, here are a few things to do:

First, be sure to run all of Microsoft’s previously released updates, plus the last one on Tuesday.

Then think about what you really need the computer for. If you don’t need an Internet connection, unplug it. That will minimize the risk. Be careful about attaching USB storage drives, as that might introduce malicious software.

If you need the Internet, refrain from using email, Facebook and other communications channels through which malicious software might travel. Use a tablet, phone or another computer instead.

It’s also a good idea to lock down your computer by using a profile that lacks administrative rights. That will make it harder to install anything new, including malicious software.

Mikko Hypponen of F-Secure suggests removing older software applications you no longer use. The less you have running, the less vulnerability you’ll have.

Gartner fellow Neil MacDonald says XP computers on corporate networks have more options, including using XP only for crucial software that won’t run on more up-to-date systems and accessing a virtual desktop remotely for email, Web and other modern tasks. He says companies can also pay Microsoft for customized fixes beyond Tuesday, but that gets expensive.

___

Q. Why is Microsoft doing this?

A. As technology improves, it makes less sense to support something designed a PC generation or two ago. The company’s resources are better spent on making newer products better.

Apple does this, too, with its OS X system for Mac computers, though it doesn’t announce end dates for older versions as Microsoft does. Unlike Microsoft, Apple now offers upgrades for free.

___

Q. Don’t ATMs, retail payment systems, medical devices and other gadgets also run XP? What are my options?

A. Check with the manufacturer. MacDonald says there are two types of XP for so-called embedded systems, one of which will receive support until January 2016.

___

Online:

Microsoft blog post: http://bit.ly/1kmVCaQ

XP checker and options: http://amirunningxp.com

Windows 8 upgrade: http://bit.ly/1mQBzCe

Other upgrade resources:

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-8/upgrade-from-windows-vista-xp-tutorial

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/end-support-help

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-8/upgrade-to-windows-8

With files from Anick Jesdanun, The Associated Press

Easy ways to manage your finances online

Winston Sih | posted Monday, Mar 31st, 2014

Struggling to keep your finances organized and file your taxes easily? I introduce you to a few websites and apps to help you keep your taxes and receipts organized year-round.

Turbo Tax online is a cloud-based system, meaning you put all of your information onto the internet. Turbo Tax is encrypted, making it extremely secure to store your information without the worry of somebody hacking into your personal information. You file all of your tax information through the internet directly, so you get your return much quicker. Many services also offer direct deposit so it goes right to your bank account — this helps with getting rid of a lot of the paper that needs to be reviewed during tax season.

Snap Tax is an app you can download to your phone that allows you to file all of your information, such as your T4 slips and your expenses, all through a photo. Once you’ve taken a photo of all of your statements, you add information such as your social insurance number, and then you can file everything in as fast as 10 minutes and it goes straight to the government. Managing your finances throughout the year makes tax time a lot easier.

Mint.com allows you to track all of your financial accounts in one place. You can even set up budgets so that you can easily track how much money you’re spending in different areas. Mint will keep an eye on all of your accounts for you, and it’ll even send you a message letting you know when you’ve gone over your budget.

Shoeboxed.com allows you to keep a digital record of all your receipts; all you have to do is take a picture of it with your cellphone! You can then mark whether or not it is a reimbursable or deductible, or if you aren’t sure. Then, at the end of the year, all of your receipts are in one place and you can easily organize them.

For more on how to manage your finances online, watch the clip below:

With files from Cityline.ca

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