May 24, 2017

May - 24 2017 | By

Microsoft has a patch for the WannaCry ransomware for users of older Windows 8, Vista and even XP. Some of you, and XP users in particular, may have noticed that using Windows Update does not show a patch for WannaCry. You have to go here and get it manually. Once you have the .exe file, just run it and it will install itself.
How to Protect Yourself From Ransomware Attack
Frenchmen claim cure for WannaCry-infected computers. The software is here

There was no show on 5-10-17 due to membership drive



Additional notes

Notifications of new show notes and edits are tweeted at:
– They’re tagged with #Zentech.
– When what’s said is unclear to me (or I’m unfamiliar with a topic) I tend to quote (” “) verbatim.
– Editor’s comments are delimited by < >

Looks like there was a problem with the KVMR archive. I couldn’t find today’s show there. Recent shows are here.

NOTE: There is another show scheduled for next week – 5-31-17


Both Paul and Glenn were in the studio


Listeners were invited to call with their questions and comments during the show at 530-265-9555

Glen reminded listeners that they can become contributing members of KVMR by calling the office number 530-265-9073

Paul talked a bit about ransomware and a version of it called WannaCry. <see the link at the top> Ransomware hijacks your computer by encrypting and locking up your vital data until you pay a ransom. Ransomware is not something new, as it first appeared a few years ago. Some 10 years ago a virus call AIDS emerged and it encrypted databases. Don’t depend on software to defend against ransomware, Paul said, use offline backups of your data.

Glenn said a researcher was able to find a way to decrypt the data and recover from WannaCry, but it requires that you haven’t rebooted your computer since the infection. <See the link to the article at the top.>

Glenn cautioned people about clicking on links in emails. An email may look like it’s from your bank, for instance, but it might be bogus. Use a web address you know is good to go to the bank’s site. <Or call them.> <Also at the top, is an NY Times article with security tips.>

Those still using unsupported versions of Windows (Vista & XP) can find a patch for WannaCry by following the instructions at the top of this page.

Paul noted that makers of anti-virus software or purveyors of security services don’t warranty or guaranty their products. The answer is offline backup, he said. That means keeping the backups separate from the computer or else the backups can be compromised.

He went on to say that it’s desirable to have at least 2 if not more storage media. Flash drives are relatively inexpensive — 128 gig flash drive can be found for under $30. Determine how many gigs of data you have for backing up and get drives that are twice that size.

Rather than dragging your data to the flash drive, use a program like FreeFileSync, Paul said. <It was mentioned on the 10-1-14 show.> To determine how much data will be synched, Go to the C: drive and find the folder called “Users”, right-click on it and then click on “properties”.
<FreeFileSync is here
The 12.1meg program .exe is here
More info here>

Once you’ve done the 1st backup, take out the flash drive and label it ‘A’. Then repeat the process with a 2nd flash drive & label it ‘B’. The drive that’s not currently plugged into the computer is considered secure from malware. <Presumably you should alternate the 2 drives as you continue making backups.>

Should you get hit with ransomware, don’t even consider plugging in the offline backup drive into your computer until you’re sure you’ve cleaned out the infection. Paul said he’s seen viruses working in pairs. You think you’ve eliminated the virus and the other one brings the 1st one back. And when you think you’ve deleted the 2nd one, the 1st one brings it back. So, Paul suggested making a copy of the drive you’re going to use for restoring. <I think he meant having 2 offline copies in case there are still remnants of the virus you missed.>

He went on to suggest occasionally doing a practice run of restoring your data to a completely different computer. A backup won’t do you any good if you can’t restore it. Even a Mac can read a flash drive made on a PC.

Glenn replaced the headlights in his car with LED headlights. When he went shopping for them he found that one issue is the wattage the lights required. Of the ones he saw, each LED bulb had 4 LEDs in it and required 120 watts per bulb instead of the 55 watts of his original H11 bulbs. So Paul did some searching and found, on Amazon, bulbs with 2 LEDs inside, which made the wattage requirement close to what he was already using.

LEDs require a fixed current at whatever voltage it takes but the tungsten type bulbs need a fixed voltage at whatever current it takes. So the guys had to make sure there was a current regulator circuit between the bulb and the rest of the car’s electrical system. It turned out that the LED bulbs are much brighter (3500 lumens) and had a whiter light (6000 K).

Speaking of lumens, Paul mentioned an app for his Android tablet that turns it into a light meter. It’s called Lux. He said the tablet has a light sensitive cell, which normally controls the brightness of the screen based on the amount of ambient light. The app uses this cell to indicate the brightness of the light shining on it. <There are a number of apps that use the word Lux. Do a google search for the words: lux meter.>

When Paul replaced the lights in his RV with LEDs and found that they don’t put out a uniform spectrum. When he replaced the running light with an LED, he found that the red lens in front of the bulb muted the light more than he liked. The correct solution is to replace the lens rather than finding an LED with a suitable color.

On modern cars there is a system called CAN bus. Its originally a German standard that uses a buss topology. It allows the car’s computer to tell if a light is out by measuring the current going to the bulbs. But since the LEDs use less current, the computer thinks a light is out when it isn’t. Paul didn’t say what or if there’s a solution.

Ralph called. He’s about to buy an replacement headlight for his car but he thinks the LED bulbs are too expensive & piss off people because they are so bright. Glenn said he got 2-year warranty and paid $90 for the pair that he bought.

Paul said the brightness became an issue when the high voltage zenon bulbs came on the market years ago. And misalignment can also cause the headlights of on-coming cars to be blindingly bright. There’s not much regulation, though some East Coast states will ticket drivers if the headlights are not aligned properly. Ralph said he’ll just get an old fashion tungsten headlight this time around. Glenn said he’ll be evaluating the new headlights and will have more to say about them on the next show.

Scott called from Topanga in Southern Calif. He said he flies Cessna aircraft and had light burn out regularly. But since the fleet switched over to LEDs, he’s not seen one burn out. Glenn said the ones he bought are rated for 55,000 hours. Paul said tungsten filament bulbs lose brightness as they age but the LEDs don’t.

Scott asked for opinions about cloud backups, like Carbonite. Paul said that besides Carbonite there’s Google Drive (his favorite), Drop Box as well as others. They will dutifully copy whatever is on your machine. He emphasized ‘whatever’. The point he seemed to make is that the backup happens so frequently and there may not be much time between a virus infection and a backup. So the consequence of an infection will get backed up, too.

The other problem with cloud backups is that there may not be enough bandwidth, if you’re working on a large project. Video editing especially can be problematic because files tend to be big. And when you first start using Carbonite, it can take hours or days to do the initial backup. After that, the backups are incremental where only the changes are backed up. And keep in mind that the upload speed is typically slower than the download — maybe only 4 or 5 megabits/sec. To beat ransomware the best option is local offline storage of your data, like to a flash drive.

Glenn asked if Time Machine on the Mac is susceptible to a ransomware attack. Paul said yes. If you or one of your programs can read and write data, so can the malware. He noted 2 of the big vectors for infection is the Flash player and Java. He said no one should be using Java anymore, Paul said.

Terry called to express her low opinion of bright headlights. She thinks that even if they are pointing down at the ground, they can have a bad effect. She didn’t elaborate but she’s practicing her high pitch singing in hopes of being able to break the glass of those headlights. Paul noted that there is tradeoff between seeing more with bright headlights and blinding on-coming drivers.

Paul briefly mentioned the Cree tactical flashlight, which were also talked about on the 6-29-16 show. Glenn found one for just a few bucks, for the flashlight alone. It uses a proprietary battery, which Paul got from an old laptop that’s 3.7 volts and 3 amp hours. The flashlight packages the guys got were $20 and included, among other things, a charger. At one time Paul tried shining the flashlight into his eyes & couldn’t see anything for 2 or 3 minutes. I think it was an expression of amazement as well as a warning because he followed with a disclaimer — he does not recommend shining them into people’s eyes.

Last Updated 12:15 AM 5-25-2017