Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Apple users in security warning

Users of Apple's OS X operating system are being warned to take care when browsing online as they wait for a solution to a security flaw.

A software update was released last week to owners of iPhones, iPads and iPods to protect users from "an attacker" who may "capture or modify data".

It was later discovered that the problem also existed on Apple laptops and desktop computers running OS X.

A security fix has not yet been issued.

The problem was first spotted on Apple's mobile devices which run the iOS 7 operating system. It relates to the way secure connections are made between Apple's safari browser and websites, including banking sites, Google and Facebook.

These sites have digital security certificates that allow an encrypted connection to be established between a user's computer and the website. This means any data that is sent over the connection should be secure.

Dropped the ball
However, a vulnerability in the code for Apple's iOS and OS X operating systems meant the security certificates were not being checked properly. This meant hackers could impersonate a website and capture the data that was being sent over the connection before letting it continue its journey to the real website.

A security fix has already been issued for users of iPads, iPhones and iPods
Apple released a fix for mobile devices running iOS 7 last week but a spokesperson issued the following statement about OS X: "We are aware of this issue and already have a software fix that will be released very soon."

According to researchers the security flaw had existed for months but no-one had reported it publicly.

Graham Cluley, a security analyst, said it was a failing by the company that it had not been identified earlier.

"It's pretty bad what Apple have done, they've seriously dropped the ball. How much the problem has been exploited is hard to say. Hackers may now be trying to take advantage while users wait for the security fix."

He advised users to take care when using the web and consider using an alternative browser to Safari until the problem was fixed.

He also urged users of Apple's mobile devices to upgrade to the latest iOS version as soon as possible and for OS X users to keep their eyes open for a security update and to implement it as soon as it was available.

Original Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-26335701

Thursday, February 20, 2014

PCs lumber towards the technological graveyard

Companies switch to tablets and laptops to cut costs and let workers feel benefits of mobile technology
The headquarters of iCore Networks has not seen a desktop computer in five years. Instead, each of the McLean, Virginia-based information-technology firm's 160 employees relies on a company-issued iPad. They may request a laptop if they need it, but iCore is free of the bulky personal computers common to many offices, opting for devices employees can take home with them.
"We're pretty mobile – throughout multiple departments such as sales teams, account management, engineers, [employees] are always on the go," said Lorena Roberts, marketing vice-president. "They begin at the office, maybe in the morning, but by the time 11 o'clock hits, they're really out in the field."
The company is part of an emerging trend among businesses eschewing PCs for laptops and tablets. The pattern is reflected in the global computer market: PC shipments suffered their worst decline in history in the final quarter of 2013, according to a Gartner report, the seventh consecutive quarter of shipment declines. The 82.6m units shipped globally last year represented an almost 7% decline from the previous year.
Losses in the PC sector were enough to force Sony to exit the market altogether. The company announced plans last week to sell Vaio, its PC brand, to Japan Industrial Partners, citing declining sales.
iCore buys about 15 laptops each quarter for new hires, Roberts estimated, enough for about 75% of the employees. All iPads are installed with iCore's proprietary software, which it sells to other businesses, allowing users to manage phone calls and video chat requests. The machines also come loaded with Microsoft's virtual desktop software, which allows employees to remotely access programs on their laptops. They can access email, use Microsoft Office and complete any other computer task, Roberts said.
For those tasks that are easier to complete with a larger screen or a mouse, – such as compiling Excel spreadsheets or working in Photoshop – employees often keep laptops as backup. Although maintenance, software licences and hardware costs make laptops significantly more expensive than tablets, iCore continues to invest in them to offer employees "that sense of security you have with your laptop that people are used to".
Some analysts say the steady decline in PCs partly reflects the relatively high price of tablets, making it an either-or proposition for some buyers. Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa recently wrote that as tablet and laptop prices decline, PC sales might improve, because more people can own both.
Tablet sales, meanwhile, are rising quickly. Almost 80m tablets were shipped globally in the fourth quarter of 2013, according to anInternational Data Corp report, representing a 62.4% growth over the previous quarter and a 28.2% growth since the corresponding period the year before.
Still, PCs remain a necessary part of office routine for many workers. Jeremy Collins, who runs the sales division at Consolidated Communications, a Sacramento, California-based internet and cable company, issued his 24 sales representatives iPad minis to accompany – not replace – their PCs.
Although they often use tablets when visiting the residential neighbourhoods where they sell cable connections, employees spend about 30% of each day answering and logging customer-service requests from their PCs, Collins said. Some customer-service requests are easier to address when employees have large, dual-screen monitors – and some have more data stored on their computers' hard drives than could fit on a tablet.
Collins said the team tried using Dell laptops to offer employees the functionality of a PC in a device they could use at their desks and in the field, but "laptops aren't realistic. You can't carry a laptop with you when you're walking around territory," he said. Employees complained they had to leave them in their cars.
So last year, Collins decided to get rid of the laptops and invest in tablets, while maintaining the PCs for office use. "It's more of a convenience factor," he said. "If you're already sitting down at your desk [in front of a PC], you're going to be a lot quicker navigating through everything you have to navigate."
This article appeared in Guardian Weekly, which incorporates material from the Washington Post
Source:  http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/feb/11/personal-computer-decline-pc-obsolete

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

When You Need Computer Repair Services Turn To The Experts

When it comes to choosing a computer repair company there are a ton of choices to choose form starting with big box chain computer stores to local computer repair shops.  How does a computer novice know where to turn when they have an issue and need computer help? To find the best help for your computer repairs we have established a few important tips to consider before dropping your computer off to be fixed.

It is important to note that where ever you take your computer to be fixed it must go through a diagnostic process to determine exactly what is going on inside the computer.  A sure sign that you are at the wrong computer repair shop is upon entering if the technician claims to know exactly what is wrong with your computer.  Lots of times symptoms all sound the same but lead to different computer repairs; it is your computers best interest to have a complete diagnostic ran before any diagnosis is even considered.  The first tip is to find a computer service store that starts with diagnostics.  Most repair shops will charge a half hour labor for this service that will be applied towards repairs if you decide to fix your computer. 

When looking into local computer service stores check to find out what type of computers they have experience in and services they offer.  They should offer a wide variety of services such as virus removal, memory upgrades, blue screen repairs, hard drive failures, motherboard replacement and more.  You don’t know what could be wrong with your computer but you want to make sure whatever it is they will be able to fix it. 

It is also significant to see what type of certifications the technicians have.  Computer repair techs should be qualified all aspects of computer services and should be certified in various operating systems.  Most technicians have at least a Microsoft certification. 

It is also important to find a computer repair shop that offers repair methods other than those done in house.  In some cases you may need the technician to visit your place of business, home or even via remote control.  The shop that you want to build a relationship with is one that offers all of these services.  There may be a time where you just can’t get the machine into the office and need to make sure the technician can still help alleviate your computers problem.  

Word of mouth is always the best way to find a place to do business.  If your friends and family like the service they received well enough to tell you all about it then you know that the place is reputable.  This is what you are looking for in the way of a referral to a local computer store that will help fix the issues you are having with your personal computer.  It may be hard at first and large box chains seem tempting as they have built a reputation on their name however note that their product reputation is far different from the reputation their services provide.