711 million unique email address and passwords released on the internet

Be on the lookout for anything unexpected in your inbox after 711 million unique email address "Many containing passwords" have been made freely available on the internet in the last few days. This is being reported as the largest documented data dump to date. This data can be used in a variety of ways.

Worth mentioning a couple of important security practices:

  • DON'T REUSE PASSWORDS for different services, otherwise if gets hacked because Sarah doesn't know much about security then the bad guys will get access to all your accounts on the entire internet. Consider a password manager like LastPass or RoboForm.
  • Don't just click on links in emails, at least hover first to see where the link goes, if its an email from Telstra and the link is to then don't click. If you are unsure just don't click it at all. Phone or email the sender from a new clean email seeking more details.

Details are here:

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Office changes, If you use Office 365

If you use Office 365…. and a perpetual (rather than subscription based) licence, Microsoft has announced some coming changes with the "supported version" of MS Office. 

Firstly if you don't use Office 365 for mail or SharePoint/OneDrive professional this does not affect you. 

MS has made this statement:
Effective October 13th, 2020, Office 365 will only allow Office client connectivity from subscription clients (Office 365 ProPlus) or Office perpetual clients within mainstream support to connect to Office 365 services. (Please refer to the Microsoft support lifecycle site for Office mainstream support dates.) 

What this means is that from 2020 onward you will need either a subscription based version of MS office (Office 365) to be able to use it with "cloud based services" or you will need to update (and keep updated) your current version of MS office perpetual licence as the Office 2016 "mainstream support" ends on October 13th, 2020. All previous versions will be in the same situation at this point also. 

If you don't upgrade your $265 MS office home and business perpetual licence from Harvey Norman or Officeworks, you won't be able to connect to office 365. As you are probably aware the MS Office 365 subscription version is continually updated and you are always provided the latest version as part of your subscription. 

For business, the Office subscription is currently $10.50 per month extra for Office 365 (A total of $17.50 per user per month vs. $7.00 per user per month for just mail) Over a 3 year period your MS office costs you $360 but you have the benefit of installing it for you to use on 5 different devices, for example your desktop PC, your laptop, your tablet and your phone. What you are not licenced to do is install it on another PC for another user to use, the 5 licences are for the single user account. 

In the past you have been able to effectively half the cost of MS office for your organisation by purchasing and then skipping the next version. For example purchase 2010 and (when there is a need) purchase 2016 (skipping 2013). However this appears not to be a viable option any longer and you will be required to update each version anyway which makes the subscription model better value. 

I would expect that there is a new version of Office to be released in 2018 based on the normal 3 year cycle from the last MS office release date which was September 2015. 2020 seems like a long way off but you need to be aware to be able to plan for moving to the subscription based version of MS office, knowing that you would be required to upgrade your MS office perpetual version anyway. 

This probably means any new users/PC should go on the subscription model from now onward.

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A SSD Hard drive provides a significant boost to performance but…

A SSD, or solid state [hard disk] drive provides a significant boost to computer performance over a traditional (platter) HDD additionally this technology generates less heat, less noise and provides for better battery consumption, but because of the cost to manufacture your typically SSD will be significantly smaller than the traditional option. A standard traditional hard drive will be perhaps 1TB or 2TB, a typical SSD might be 250GB (i.e. a quarter of a TB).

Make sure that you have considered your required HDD space before purchasing. You will have to share the hard drive with Windows, its updates, temporary/system files, program files (including games) as well as your data.

In a desktop PC, you may wish to consider two hard drives, a SSD for Windows which allows for fast start-up and general performance and a larger traditional (slower) hard drive for storage of large amounts of data. In a laptop you don’t typically have that option as there is normally (but not always) only space for one hard drive.

Images, video and installed games are the biggest hard disk consumers data wise (besides Windows and other required applications).
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Change the "default app" in Windows 10

To change the default program in Windows 10 that opens a particular file type, follow the instructions below. In this example Windows 10 defaults to opening PDF files in Microsoft edge browser which significantly reduces your functionality when working with PDF's here is how to change it to Adobe PDF reader . 

  • Locate a file of the type you want to change, right click on the file and select "open with" then "chose another app" (see points 1-3 below). 
  • When the dialog box comes up to make the selection, chose the app that you want to use (see 4 below), tick the "always use this app…" checkbox (see 5 below) and then press OK
  • From that point on this file type will open by default with your preferred program.
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Default printer changing by itself in Windows 10?

Default printer changing by itself in Windows 10? See here for the why and how to turn it off.

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FIVE key considerations to help with protecting your data

FIVE key considerations to help with protecting your data, your network, your identity and your money. 

  1. Don't be an administrator on your own PC for normal day to day work. Create a separate admin account and just be a normal "user" unless required. 
  2. Don't run outdated software; Old versions of Windows, Java, adobe other apps 
  3. Have a good quality antivirus installed, working with a current subscription 
  4. Don't visit undesirable or illegal sites (or if you must; learn enough to mitigate the risk, run in a sandbox, another user account, a Virtual PC, or another PC setup for this task) 
  5. Social engineering - Be vigilant when opening links or emails, unsolicited mail or other peoples USB drives 
  6. (Bonus) Get a good antispam/antivirus system that blocks you from as many threats as possible before they enter your network or PC. 
  7. (Bonus) Use complex passwords that are unique for your internet services
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Australia’s New Privacy Laws (2014)

I don't claim to be any expert on these legal matters but it looks like the Australian privacy laws are about to get a whole lot more complex and onerous to manage.

Happy reading:

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Windows phone

I have discussed Windows phone with a number of people recently here is some more information:

"Stay closer to the people and things you care about: Start screen

The Windows Phone Start screen makes sure you're always caught up and plugged in – to your best friend's texts, the time of your next meeting, the latest Groupon deals and whatever else you decide to pin there."

It’s not so much about any particular brand its more about the operating system (Microsoft Windows Phone 8), however a great brand would be Nokia. I love wireless charging!!.

You do need to think it through a bit before you make the change. If for example you are using Android now changing to Windows phone  you need to check if you have special apps that you need and see if they are available on the WP marketplace sure, not as many as Android but 145,000 will give you plenty of options, plus the phone has so much built in smart functionality that it really does make some of the other offerings out there look dated.


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