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5G : Fast but Furious
5G

As a computer oriented business, we love advancements and innovations in technology, but when the health of our customers is at stake - it is our duty to inform you of the risks.

5G is the term used to describe the next-generation of mobile networks beyond the 4G LTE mobile networks commonly used today. 5G is intended to be the technology that allows the Internet of Things (IOT) to exist and tie all internet connected devices together.

Currently there is no standard for 5G networks in place and it will be a combination of a variety of frequencies and modulations. Industry is developing exactly what 5G will be as the standard has not been set yet. It is assumed that 5G networks will not become commercially available until 2020 but several cities across the globe, including the US and of course Canada, are rolling out 5G in test areas now.

A first glance at US government websites such as the CDC and EPA could lead you to believe that this radiation is safe. >> Yet over 240 scientists and doctors from 41 nations who have published research in the field have appealed to the United Nations calling for urgent action to reduce these ever growing wireless exposures and they wrote the FCC for a moratorium on the roll-out of 5G, citing the serious risks to human health and the environment. Many of these scientists have proven that the radiation waves transmitted from these towers WILL cause cancer, tumours and even change the structure of our DNA.

For more in-depth information please read the full report at the Environmental Health Trust website. Here is also a very short video for those interested.

So what can we do to protect ourselves?

Since 5G does not have a long range, there will be towers put up every few meters, making the escape from their waves virtually impossible while strolling the city. However, there are ways to minimize the risks.

Now, we're not saying that you need to throw away all your mobile devices. Our goal is always to encourage a balanced, healthy life. One of the things that can do damage to your health is this kind of EMF radiation, but there are ways to lessen the damage and protect yourself.

Step 1: Disable 5G on your home router!

Even though 5G is not fully rolled out in Calgary - yet - many home routers already have 5G built in. By default, the 5G wifi in your router will be on. WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND TURNING IT OFF. Routers come equipped with both 5G and 2.4G wifi signals and since 5G has such a short range and doesn't pass through walls very well, it is not commonly used at home. If you are unsure of how to disable the 5G on your router, we would be glad to help. Simply schedule a tech to swing by and health-optimize your home network.


99% of all home wifi routers have 5G enabled by default.

Not sure how to disable it? We can come do this for you right away so you can get a better nights sleep. While we are at it, we can also health optimize your network and computers to make sure you and your machine stay healthy and free of security threats!

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The (not-so) SmartHomes of Today
SmartHomes annd ioT

Are we trading convenience for Insecurity? As a computer oriented business, we love advancements and innovations in technology, but when the health of our customers is at stake - it is our duty to inform you of the risks.

The "SmartHome" is starting to mean something to the average homeowner, who is not a necessarily geek. Smart Home items are starting to be common place in your local Home-Depot, Best Buy and even in the nick-nack store on the corner, meaning that many of us are starting to realize our idea of what we want in a Smart Home. We are talking to Amazon’s Alexa, Google Nest and similar AI's to perform basic automation tasks (like turning the lights on or off, locking our doors remotely, or even controlling our heater from mobile apps). Innovation is making it easier for the consumer, whilst reducing the cost and making the Smart Home devices market grow.

Convenient? Indeed. Safe? Not so much.

The (not so) good news, is that a lot of these new devices are targets, ready to be attacked by hackers because - unfortunately for many devices - security has been a design afterthought making them easy targets to be compromised. We have seen a number of high exposure attacks: Not too long ago, a Domain Network Server (DNS) attack used 100,000 smart home infected webcams to create a botnet that brought down major websites (including Twitter, the Guardian, Netflix, Reddit, CNN and many others in Canada, the US and also in Europe).

In the webcam attack, hackers gained access to devices which had not reset the default account names and passwords. In the future, hopefully we will close that door by requiring default account names and passwords to be changed before the device can be used. This example is a low hanging fruit, but there will always be other ways that a hacker can compromise a device. What is needed is a mindset to stay ahead of the potential hacker, detecting a breach, mitigating the impact, and quickly repairing it.

For more in-depth information please read the security section of IoT in Wikipedia.

Here are 8 Tips for a more secure Smart Home

1. Don’t connect your devices unless you need to

The first step is to consider what functionality you need from the device. Just because your TV or fridge can connect to the internet, doesn’t mean you definitely want it to. Take a good look at the features it offers and learn exactly what internet connectivity brings before you let it connect. In most cases, you don't use the "smart" functionality and can disable it.

2. Create a separate networkok

Many Wi-Fi routers support guest networking so that visitors can connect to your network without gaining access to shared files or your computers at home. This kind of separation also works well for IoT devices that have questionable security.

3. Pick strong and unique passwords for every device

It’s very important to pick strong passwords, but you must also make sure that you pick a different password for every device. If a hacker manages to get one of your passwords, they will typically try it with other services and devices and be able to gain access to . Reusing passwords is not a good idea. Use a password manager to keep track of all your passwords.

4. Turn off Universal Plug and Play (UPnP)

Sadly, UPnP can make routers, printers, cameras and other devices vulnerable to attack. It’s designed to make it easier to network devices without configuration by helping them automatically discover each other. The problem is that hackers can also potentially discover them from beyond your local network because of vulnerabilities in the UPnP protocol. Is best to turn UPnP off completely. This can be done directly on your home wifi router.

5. Make sure you have the latest firmware

If you want to make sure you have the latest security patches and reduce the chances of a successful attack, then you need to keep your firmware fully updated. Vulnerabilities and exploits will be fixed as they emerge, so your IoT devices and your router need to be regularly updated. Automate this wherever possible or set a schedule to check for updates every so often.

6. Be wary of cloud services

A lot of IoT devices rely on cloud services, but the requirement for an internet connection in order for something to function can be a real problem. Not only will it not work when the network is down, but it may also be syncing sensitive data or offering another potential route into your home. Make sure you read up on the provider’s privacy policy and look for reassurances about encryption and data protection.

7. Keep personal devices out of the workplace

Don’t take your personal IoT devices to work. There are lots of potential security concerns for wearables. Every enterprise should have a clear BYOD policy, and it’s often a good idea to prohibit personal IoT devices from connecting to the network, or at least limit them to a guest network.

8. Track and assess devices (Tip for our SMB clients)

Businesses need to track everything connected to the network and monitor the flow of traffic. Devices need to be assessed to determine the level of access they should have, to keep them fully patched and up to date, and to protect data end-to-end to preserve its integrity. Unknown devices should flag an alert. Understanding which devices are connected and what they’re doing is a prerequisite for proper security.

If you’re dealing with sensitive data or you’re concerned about privacy, then make sure you have a long hard look at the IoT devices you’re considering. What security protocols do they support? How easy are they to patch? Do the providers have a proper privacy policy? It’s not safe to assume they’re secure because all too often they simply aren’t.


Too complicated? We can help!

Not sure how to disable UPnP, update your routers firmware or better secure your IoT? We can come do this for you right away so you can get a better nights sleep. While we are at it, we can also health optimize your network and computers to make sure you and your machine stay healthy and free of security threats! All this is completed usually in under an hour for only $88 ~ Definitely worth it!

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The New Clearview AI App - The End of Privacy
Clearview AI - No more privacy

Let's say a random stranger approaches you on the street, snaps a quick photo of you in a public place (which is perfectly legal), uses an app, and soon finds your full name, age, address, social media profiles and more

That's a privacy disaster any way you slice it—but it's also at the heart of an app called Clearview AI, which The New York Times recently called "The Secretive Company That Might End Privacy as We Know It."

It's not just extremely dangerous because stalkers could instantly find people through the app and hound them over social media or even show up at their house, but because hundreds of law enforcement agencies, including the Government, are currently using this facial recognition technology, despite the pushback the tech has seen in legislative spaces.

In Calgary, for instance, the use of this technology is not regulated, therefore law enforcement has adopted the use of facial recognition under the radar - so to speak. What's more, some security companies even have access to Clearview AI, which sets a dangerous precedent.

Clearview AI features a database of over three billion images, which were scraped from websites like Facebook, Twitter, and even Venmo. Other databases pale in comparison, according to marketing materials the company provided to law enforcement agencies. The Government has a database of 411 million photos, while more local authorities only have access to about eight million images.

Sure, Clearview AI isn't readily available to the public (yet), and when you visit the company's website, there isn't really much information on the app at all. You have to request access to learn more, let alone use the service. However, both the Timesand investors in Clearview AI think that the app will be available for anyone to use in the future.

That's frightening, and it's led technology think tanks like Fight for the Future, a nonprofit based in Worcester, Massachusetts, and the Washington, D.C.-based Demand Progress, to call on legislators to take action on facial recognition tech.

For more in-depth information please read here: Wikipedia Link

Even Google Wouldn't Build This

When companies like Google—which has received a ton of flack for taking government contracts to work on artificial intelligence solutions—won't even build an app like this. Back in 2011, former Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said a tool like Clearview AI's app was one of the few pieces of tech that the company wouldn't develop because it could be used "in a very bad way"

Facebook, for its part, developed something pretty similar to what Clearview AI offers, but at least had the foresight not to publicly release it. That application, developed between 2015 and 2016, allowed employees to identify colleagues and friends who had enabled facial recognition by pointing their phone cameras at their faces. Since then, the app has been discontinued.

Meanwhile, Clearview AI is nowhere near finished. Hidden in the app's code, which the New York Times evaluated, is programming language that could pair the app to augmented reality glasses, meaning that in the future, it's possible we could identify every person we see in real time.

Early Pushback

Perhaps the silver lining is that we found out about Clearview AI at all. Its public discovery—and accompanying criticism—have led to well-known organizations coming out as staunchly opposed to this kind of tech.

Fight for the Future tweeted that "an outright ban" on these AI tools is the only way to fix this privacy issue—not quirky jewelry or sunglasses that can help to protect your identity by confusing surveillance systems.

These fears and disavowals of facial recognition tech come just months after two senators introduced a bipartisan bill to limit how the FBI and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency could use it.

"Facial recognition technology can be a powerful tool for law enforcement officials," Mike Lee, a Republican from Utah, said in a statement at the time. "But its very power also makes it ripe for abuse."

You can help!

Facial recognition is invasive, biased and unreliable. But Canadian government agencies and law enforcement have started using the technology despite the huge controversies surrounding its use.

Help by signing the petition here!


Does Your Computer Need Love?

Is your computer running slower than usual? Something not working right? Let us help. Within a single hour, we can sweep your computer clean of viruses, optimize it for best performance and even give it some Tech!Espresso love!

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2020 Gangster Evolution: From Guns and Masks to Malware and VPN
2020 Gangster Evolution

The tables have turned. Unlike in traditional times where the authorities were well ready to catch a bandit galloping away on a dusty trail with a sack of loot, modern criminals today use constantly changing code as weapons and proxies as masks to stay ahead of the authorities.

 

Cyber criminals of today, leave yesterdays bank robbers in the dust.

Reinforced cement walls and titanium vaults of the past have now become mere pieces of software designed to keep intruders out.

While steering humanity towards a more efficient and secure way of banking, the rulers of today work endlessly in trying to solve the security puzzle. The ultimate goal for the ruling elite is to move to a cashless society. A society where wallets have become vaults. Where bank tellers became secure websites. Where passwords become biometrics. And ultimately, where RFID implants come to destroy the ways of the forgotten wild west.

Until then, however, criminals today still have the uncanny ability to quickly adapt to an ever-changing environment and, therefore, so should we. Thoughts of protecting our hard earned money lingers in the back of our minds on a daily basis. Statistics show that bank fraud soared to over 1 trillion dollars yearly in the new millennium, and this figure still grows today. We all have some common knowledge on how to keep crooks out of our virtual pockets, but is it enough?

It could happen to you. Counter measures introduced by banking institutions vary depending largely on the circumstances around the occurrence. Even with the best online banking security tips in mind, the fraudster is always lurking for new opportunities. Should you fall victim to bank fraud, your institution may need to take it to the extreme, in order to keep your (aka their) money safe. For example, if your personal computer was the compromised source of the fraudulent transaction, your bank may deactivate your account until it is verified that your computer has been professionally cleaned. Now, that's frustrating. Money stolen, and now, locked away. Some companies, like Tech!Espresso Computer Repair in Calgary, for example, have started an initiative for offering a service specially designed to help you out. They wrap a trusted verification certificate around their in-home computer virus removal service to help the bank identify that your computer has been inspected and cleaned by a certified expert. The customer simply needs to book the service and show the certificate to the bank representative upon completion, to have the account reactivated. That may be great news in regaining access to your funds, but the problem at hand has still not been resolved.

The following tips are things you can do every day to ensure the protection of your personal information.

The number one rule is follow your gut feelings; if you feel like a situation is suspicious, then you are more than likely to be correct.

• Verify the identity of anyone asking for personal or financial information; do not give it out automatically to anyone who asks for it.

• If your debit/credit card or check book is lost or stolen, notify Farmers Savings Bank & Trust immediately.

• Be sure to review monthly statements for suspicious activity. Report anything you find to Farmers Savings Bank & Trust.

• Shred any financial documents or documents with personal information on them before recycling them.

• Memorize your Social Insurance Number; do not carry your card around with you.

• When online shopping check the address bar to ensure the website starts with ”https” AND has a padlock there or at the bottom of the browser window before entering any payment information.

• If you have not gotten your regular bills from a company, notify them that you have not received them.

• Check your credit report annually.

What to do if your identity has been stolen and you have fallen victim to bank fraud

• Place a fraud alert on your credit reports by calling the three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and Transunion).

1. Contact your Bank so they can help you block the affected accounts.

2. Contact the Government office that issues your ID.

3. Call your local police department and file a police report. If the fraud occurred in a different area, you can try filing a report with the local police department there as well.

How to Spot a Phishing Scam

• Phishing scams have become a favourite tool of online criminals to steal your usernames, passwords, credit card information and even money. In a phishing scam, you will receive an email that looks like it is from an authoritative source. While it may seem genuine, a phishing email contains several clues that it should not be trusted:

The "From" field: You most likely will not recognize the email address. It may also be an odd spellings of an authoritative email, such as the following examples "support@micrsoft.com" or "IT@abay.com".

The "To" field: Phishing scams are generally sent to either random email lists or a bunch of people at the same company with names that start with the same letter.

Email subject line: Watch out for vague subject lines, subject lines advertising a deal that is too good to be true or has a limited time span, or emails that "require your immediate attention".

Email body: Lots of grammatical errors signifies a phishing scam. You can also check if the body of an email is an image by clicking and dragging. If it is an image, the email is definitely a scam.

Links: To check the legitimacy of links in an email, hover over them to see their destination address. If it is something random or an address you do not recognize, DO NOT click on it.

Attachments: DO NOT open attachments in an email unless it is from a trusted source. These attachments can have viruses or trojans that can access your personal information. Risky attachments have file extensions like .exe, .scr, .zip, .com, and .bat.

A request for personal information: Financial institutions will generally never send an email asking for personal or account information. Emails are not secure, meaning your personal information can be intercepted. Any email requesting you send personal information via email should be deleted immediately.


Have you fallen victim?

It's hard stay safe and remember to cover all bases regarding the safe-keep of your finances and the information guarding them all of the time! If you have fallen victim, or would like some help guarding your computer — let us help!

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Working From Home during COVID19
Work From Home COVID19

Telecommuting. Working remotely. Working from home. Whatever you want to call it, it is much more demanding than you would think.

It takes focus, willpower and a lot of self motivation. If you need us, we are always ready to help with the technical stuff, so you can get busy doing what you do best.

 

 

What is a coronavirus (COVID-19) self-isolation?

Self-isolation basically means staying at home and limiting your contact with others for at least 14 days. It's a way of separating a sick person from people who aren't ill. Right now, the Government of Canada only recommends self-isolation if:

• You have COVID-19

• You have travelled outside of Canada

• Your local public health authority identifies you as a close contact of someone with COVID-19.

If you do not have the virus and were not in close contact with someone who has, you should be watching out for symptoms of respiratory illness such as fever, cough and difficulty breathing. If symptoms develop, you must:

• Stay home

• Limit contact with others

• Contact your local public health authority and follow their instructions and advice.

Has your employer asked you to self-isolate or work from home during coronavirus?

To reduce the risk of spreading the disease, many employers have instructed employees to work from home, when possible. This doesn't mean you must self-isolate and only stay at home. It just means that you shouldn't come into the office.

There are many of benefits of working from home which may sound exciting at first but can cost you dearly if you are not self-disciplined enough for the task. Being self-disciplined and self-motivated can bring big rewards like not having to wait for the lunch break when hungry, or not having to commute to work, but the backlash can be detrimental if you don't succeed.

How to work from home productively

Get dressed for work even if you're not going into the office

You don't have to dress too formally since you'll be at home. But getting out of your pyjamas and into some casual or business casual clothes can help get you out of bed and into work mode. It also helps in case you have to hop on a video conference with your colleagues.

Have desk space set up

Do you have a desk or home office set up in your home? If you don't, then you may want to invest in a standing desk or a regular desk and an office chair with armrests. You can also use any table surface and chair in your home, so long as it makes you feel comfortable, awake and engaged. Just make sure you're not lying in bed or your couch all day. It won't help you stay productive at work and it may even hurt your back or posture.

Have a VPN and other necessary software installed

Are you set up with your company's Virtual Private Network (VPN)? Talk to your IT department about getting VPN access before you start working from home. Having a VPN set up in your work laptop can help ensure you're securely accessing and sending company files. You'll also want to make sure your computer has the right apps and software for you to complete your job at home. This includes access to video-conferencing tools and workplace messaging apps to communicate with other staff members and standard software you would use at your work place like MS Office etc. If you need assistance, we can help!

Talk to your employer about working off hours if you're caring for family

Do you have kids or other family members self-isolating at home? Most employers are aware that some provinces, among them Ontario, Quebec and Alberta, have closed down schools due to COVID-19 concerns. Inform your employer now of your family situation and that you're working from home with kids. Tell them you may need more time during the day to take care of them. Let your employer and colleagues know what hours you'll be available. They'll be more understanding about your flexible working hours and family interruptions if they know about your situation ahead of time. You'll also have to tell your employer if anyone living with you has or show symptoms of COVID-19. They may ask you to self-monitor your own health for two weeks and keep them updated on any changes.

Reduce at-home distractions that don't require your immediate attention

Working from home may give you the flexibility to run a quick errand or be available to receive deliveries and home repairs. But it's best to try to reduce optional distractions that don't require your immediate attention, like television, pets and household chores. You can do those when your work is done.

Make a schedule for yourself and try to stick to it

Working from home can give you flexible hours. This means you may not have to fit the nine-to-five timeframe. But you still have to plan your day with time-slots for meetings and getting work done. So remember to hold yourself accountable by making a schedule and sticking to it. Determine the start and end of your workday, and stay true it.


Need help setting things up?

If you need any help setting your work place up at home - we can help! Having a professional set things up for you means less problems and a smoother transition. We can send a sanitized tech over to you, who will professionally configure your system for best performance and stability, which will help your productivity right from the start.

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