The Gebesse Blog

Thoughts from the world of technology and business

Weekly Buzz – May 11, 2014

Dropbox fixes security issue with shared links
If you use Dropbox it’s almost certain that you occasionally email people links to files stored there. A security problem was identified which allowed these links to be disclosed to people who are not authorised to access the files. The problem has now been fixed and Dropbox have disabled all links created before May 5; you can recreate them yourself or wait for Dropbox to do it for you. Unless I missed the email, Dropbox unfortunately forgot to notify their customers about how they were “keeping your stuff safe”.
More information at the Dropbox Blog.

Seniors lose phone, Internet, and distress alarms
On Friday, May 2, the company ONEseniors entered administration, cutting off phone, Internet, and distress alarms to thousands of elderly people. A buyer (Vocus) has been found for the company but has announced that there is no posibility of resumption or continuity of service, so the old folk have been left with no contact to the world and nobody to listen if they fall down and press the alarm button. The new owner has graciously announced that there won’t be any penalties for early termination if customers transfer to other suppliers.

The administration is a result of a legal dispute between the owners and the owner of ispONE, which went down last year leaving customers of Kogan and Aldi mobile services with silent mobile phones. (Kogan’s customers had to look elsewhere themselves, Aldi immediately became a Telstra reseller.) The company that owned ONEseniors was created out of the assets (ashes?) of ispONE. I wonder how many people were burnt twice.

Microsoft Security Intelligence Report
Volume 16 of Microsoft’s SIR has been released, covering the last half of 2013. One threat that appears to be increasing is the attachment of malware to the downloads of legitimate programs. As an example, Microsoft mention a legitimate program called Babylon Toolbar which often came with something nasty attached. Interestingly, I found Babylon on my machine after it was installed by something else I wanted, so I might have had a second-order problem. When installing or updating software always check what else it wants to install and uncheck all the boxes or read carefully before you click the Accept button. Also, make sure that your anti-virus software is up to date, as are your Windows updates. I also recommend running Spybot – Search & Destroy regularly to find the things that the others miss. (It’s free for private use (donation requested) and worth the price for businesses.)
Download the Security Intelligence Report here

Symantec announces the coming irrelevance of anti-virus software
For a company so closely identified with the anti-virus market it seems strange for Symantec to announce that the glory days for these products are over, but they probably have a point. The trend these days is to fight invaders once they have got in, not try to stop them at the border. I assume that the people offering security to banks and nuclear power stations take a different view, but with Symantec’s income from anti-virus software dropping to 40% and still falling they probably need to rethink what they are doing. You can read the story in the Wall Street Journal.  You should note that none of this affects your need for a good anti-virus program now.

Anecdote: A few years ago when Symantec owned ACT! they sent an Excel file to consultants containing both an ACT! price list and a macro virus. I emailed them offering to sell them a really useful anti-virus program. The heat from the red faces in Mountain View could be felt across the Pacific in Sydney.

Using Google Maps offline on your iPhone or Android device
Ever conscious of the cost of mobile data, using Google Maps on a phone has been worrying for some people as the maps had to be downloaded every time you looked at them. This is a problem if you frequently refer to the same map. Google have announced a revised app for iOS and Android which can store maps on the phone for up to 30 days. It’s available from both Google Play and the Apple App Store so you can update today.
Read more about this here

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