Has Your Data Been Stolen (PWNed)?

What is ‘pwned’?

Pwned means that your account has been the victim of a data breach. It is a term that has come out of online gaming. It essentially means that someone has accessed and stolen your login details from a particular source.

How do I find out if I’ve been pwned?

Follow the instructions below and use an online source that will search and advise.

· Go to the website https://haveibeenpwned.com

· Enter your email address into the pwned? Box

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The site will now search its extensive database of reported data breaches to cross reference your email address with those data breaches.

All being well you will see a green – ‘no pwnage found’ response as shown.

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For many though you will see the red warning box that will show that the email address has been compromised. In the example shown the email address used has been involved in a data breach on 11 occassions.

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Underneath the red box you will see the actual data breaches where the user data was compromised (ie; user ids and/or passwords stolen).

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If I have been pwned what action should I take?

You should change the password for your email address and for the service that was compromised. This is especially important if you use the same password to login to different services and sites. So, for example, if the service ‘bitly’ was one of the data breaches, change your password for your email AND for the service ‘bitly’. Also change your password on any service where you have used that same password.

Remember, if you are using phones and tablets to read your email you will need to change them on here too to continue to receive your email.

Use a mix of upper case (capital) letters, lower case letters, numbers and symbols for your password.

Taff Lovesey
www.litespc.co.uk
www.weblites.co.uk
www.loovesey.net

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Test the Health of your Hard Drive or SSD

Probably the most common cause of data loss I see is the lack of data backup coupled with failure of the storage drive, either hard disk or SSD. I’ve covered backups a few times in the past, but it is also worth checking the health of your system disk proactively every now and then.

Windows does provide some basic test capabilities, but they are not very effective and not the easiest to use. Fortunately, there are a few free and paid-for alternatives; one of the free ones that I can recommend is HDDScan.

HDDScan is a freeware software for hard drive diagnostics (Flash USB and SSD drives are also supported). The program can test storage device for errors and can show the inbuilt S.M.A.R.T. disk health data where supported by the drive.

The current version of HDDscan is v4.0 and it can be downloaded from http://hddscan.com/

Once downloaded it will be delivered as a ZIP file so you will have to extract it (right click on the file and click on Extract). Once it has been extracted double click the HDDSCan.exe file to run and install the tool.

You can now run HDDSCan to test your drive.

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Click on the drop down arrow to select your disk drive (in the example I have a hard drive, and SSD and an SD card slot which is empty (no media).

The quickest and most basic check is to query the SMART data that is held on the disk drive itself.

Click on SMART

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You will now see a summary of the health data held on the disk for that drive.

What you want to see here is all green buttons, no amber or red which may indicate degradation and potential failure.

For more in depth testing you can use the TESTS button.

CAUTION!: The ERASE option does what it states and will ERASE all the data on the drive. Do not use this unless this is what you intend.

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The final button is Tools which provides a handful of disk related tools. There are some tools included here that you should only use if you know what you are doing, so I’d keep out unless you are technically savvy.

An additional benefit of HDDScan is that it will run standalone off a USB drive. This means that if you can’t boot to Windows desktop then you can still use the tool to test your disk drive.

Regards

Taff Lovesey
www.litespc.co.uk
www.weblites.co.uk

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Beware this BT email scam and similar tricks

I don’t normally single out email scams but using this one to show how the quality of the scams have improved.

To all intents and purposes this looks like a regular billing email from BT, albeit with an inflated figure, designed to ‘alarm’ you into clicking on it.

But let’s pause and have a closer look.

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Put your mouse on that See your bill link in the email and you will see something like this…

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Not what you’d expect. This link doesn’t take you to BT but to an unknown server in Slovakia (indicated by the .sk in the zbalsikufor.sk part of the address).

What makes this one even more convincing is that the other links in the email will take you to BT pages.

Be careful out there folks!

 

Taff Lovesey
Owner
www.litespc.co.uk
www.weblites.co.uk
www.lovesey.net

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Scan Your Home Network for Security Issues

 

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Bitdefender Home Scanner is a new free program that will allow you to scan your network at home, or in the office, and identify potential security issues. Although some of the results may sound a bit techy it may well provide fixes and actions for issues that you are able to implement to make your devices more secure and less prone to hacking.

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The application can be downloaded from https://www.bitdefender.com/solutions/home-scanner.html

Download and run the installer

Once installed run the program and create an account (mandatory to use the tool)

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You will be prompted to confirm your network – click Yes

Your entire network will now be scanned and a report produced on the status of the devices connected to your home/office network.

What you are aiming for is a complete set of green No Risks Found.

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Most devices will be scanned and results shown. In the example shown all devices are showing secure except for one, a printer showing as Potentially At Risk.

In this case it is a Canon printer that is vulnerable. By clicking the data provided for this device the final recommendation is to go to the manufacturers website to get the latest software for the device. In this case it can be fixed by going to the Canon Support site and downloading the latest drivers.

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Taff Lovesey
www.litespc.co.uk
www.weblites.co.uk
www.lovesey.net

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Scanning Quick Guide

With many people now having multifunction printers at home scanning and copying has become available to many of us. As a result, questions on scanning are very common; in particular ‘Where have my scans gone?’.

What’s the difference between a copying and scanning?

Copying refers to the act of ‘photocopying’. In other words inserting/laying a document in your printer and making another paper copy of it at the printer. No PC involved.Scanning is to insert/lay a document or image in your printer and to use the in-built scanner to send a digital copy to your PC. No print out.

Setting up and using the scanner

Every multifunction printer manufacturer has their own version of scanning software, but they all use the same principles. To illustrate this I will refer to Microsoft’s Windows Fax and Scan as it is built into Windows and available to all. This is a basic tool with very little by way of features but the principles are the same for more complex scanning solutions.

If you cannot find Fax and Scan on your system type the title into your search bar at the bottom left. Windows will search and identify the program as Windows Fax and Scan.

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Click on it to open the program.

You can now insert the document that you wish to scan onto the scanner/printer glass bed.

Now click New Scan

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You will next be asked to choose a scanner. If you only have one then it will be automatically selected.

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The scanning window will now open and you will be given a choice of ‘Preview’ or ‘Scan’. In most cases you can go straight to Scan but the preview option can be useful to see what your scanned image will look like.

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Before making that scan though it is important to change the settings to meet the required use of the document that you are scanning.

Profile: Two choices here – are you trying to create a text document or just an image of a text document or photograph? In most of cases it will be Photo.

Source: Almost always Flatbed unless you have a sheet feeder that supports scanning

File Type: For photos use JPG as they are compact but still offer good quality. A good choice for documents is PDF but options vary by product.

Resolution: Generally modern scanners support up to 1200dpi but 300dpi is the most common default resolution and will suit the needs of most.

Once all that is set you can click on Scan (note the software will remember your settings for next use)

Your scanner should now be whirring away and creating the new scan file. When complete you will see the scanned file list in the scan window. In this example the new scan is called Image

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But where are my scanned images stored?

In the case of Windows Fax and Scan the scanned images are stored in your Documents folder under a subfolder called Scanned Documents.
If you do a lot of scanning and want a quick way of getting to this folder; find it in your Documents then Right Click on it and left click Send to… then click on Desktop. You will now have a shortcut to this folder on your desktop.

Other scanning programs with more features than Windows Fax and Scan will allow you to set the destination folder in the settings for that application. It is important to check this as it can be frustrating trying to find a scanned image if you don’t know where the software has stored it.

What is OCR?

Most multifunction printers now support OCR; Optical Character Recognition.
When creating a scan most are created as PDF or JPG files, document and image files that are viewable but not immediately editable.
If you wish to create a document that you can edit, such as a text document in Word, then this process is called OCR. The scan is taken as normal but an extra step is added whereby the software processes the scanned image to identify any text on the page. It will then create a word processing document (such as a .docx for Word) that will allow you to edit the content.

All the best – hope this is of some help

Taff Lovesey
www.litespc.co.uk
www.weblites.co.uk
www.lovesey.net

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What is Kodi? – The Controversial and Powerful Media Player

 

clip_image002Kodi is a superb media player that allows you to play or stream video, music and pictures. It is extremely customisable and allows the addition of ‘modules’ that provide additional content and services.

Why have I heard that Kodi is illegal?

Kodi itself is just a piece of software and is 100% legal. It is powerful, well written and one of the best media players available. However, because the Kodi software is so customisable, there have been many illegal add-ons written to ‘bolt-on’ to it. Some of these add-ons allow the illegal streaming and downloading of copyrighted material (things like the latest movies, TV shows, sport events etc.)

Taking this a stage further, those less concerned with the legality of the content, have built small desktop boxes that connect direct to your TV. These boxes have the Kodi software and the illegal bolt-ons pre-installed and allow easy play back of the latest TV, films and music, in contravention of copyright laws. These boxes are known as ‘Kodi boxes’ and it is these that are now banned. It is illegal to sell, buy and use these devices. This is a little unfortunate for Kodi as it mistakenly brands the Kodi software as being part of that illegal activity.

How Do I Get Kodi?

The Kodi player is available to download from your phone or tablet app store or via the website https://kodi.tv

What Can I Do With Kodi?

In its simplest form Kodi is a media player and can identify the difference between video, audio and photo files. It is a powerful and easy to use media centre for playing this type of media, whether watching video, listening to music or watching a slideshow of your holiday snaps.

However, when linked to the Internet, Kodi also allows easy ‘streaming’ of video and audio which is what makes it so powerful. For the uninitiated, play-back refers to playing a complete file that you have stored on your device, whereas ‘streaming’ sends a constant stream of data that is played back as it is received. So using old technology ; a broadcasted TV channel, such as BBC 1 is the equivalent of a stream as you watched it ‘live’ as it was broadcast. Whereas a VHS video recorded and stored a copy of the program on the tape and you watched this via ‘play-back’.

To watch streaming content on Kodi you can install add-ons, most completely legal, that let you stream various contents and channels to your device (PC, desktop box, tablet or phone).

What Add-Ons are available?

You can choose from an ever-growing list of add-ons. On the Kodi web site there are currently 11 pages of video add-ons listed, all legal to use. The image shown is a good example of the diversity of the ‘channels’ available and shows just the last two rows of the video channel add-ons.

If you want to learn more about Kodi then refer to their website at https://kodi.tv or do a web search for Kodi TV.

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Taff Lovesey
www.litespc.co.uk
www.weblites.co.uk
www.lovesey.net

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Windows 10 Creative Update (1703) breaks Outlook / iCalendar synchronisation (again!)

Here we go again! As it did with the last Windows 10 major update, the latest version recently released (1703) breaks the synchronisation between the iCloud calendar and Outlook.

If, like me, you use iCloud as your main calendar then after this update you’ll need to…

  • Logout of iCloud on your PC (from the icon in the status bar)
  • Uninstall iCloud
  • Reboot
  • Reinstall iCloud making sure you click to apply it with Outlook functionality.

As I mentioned both of the last two major Windows 10 updates have suffered this problem. It’s not like the combination of Outlook and iCloud is unusual so it is just ‘bloody mindedness’ on Microsoft’s part that they don’t address this.

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