22 April 2014

Don't XPanic - life after Windows XP.

From April 8th, many Windows XP users saw a message indicating that their system (XP) would no longer be supported by Microsoft.

This has led to a bit of a panic, so let's set some things straight.

  • XP (obviously) continues to work after April 8th has passed.
  • Any sudden problem on your computer over the past 3 weeks is probably unrelated to this.
  • There might not be a need to upgrade to a later system - but there are probably good reasons to do so.
Do I need to upgrade?

The answer depends on how you are using your computer, you will need to upgrade if:
  • It is a compliance requirement with other organisations you are working or sharing data with. Most users are not affected by this, but those dealing with financial (banking / credit card) transactions, healthcare or the legal profession may find themselves required to move away from XP.
  • Your XP system is already showing signs of deterioration. After a few years (sometimes sooner), XP systems start to suffer unexplained slowdowns or hangs. This is reason to upgrade regardless of April 8th.
  • You anticipate adding or upgrading programs or software which are not XP compatible.
  • You have a less than adequate antivirus/security system. You can get round this by replacing your free/cheap antivirus with ESET, Kaspersky or the like.
  • You want improved performance.
What's the risk if I don't upgrade?

If you don't upgrade then you are exposed in two ways.
  • A new piece of software, or an upgrade, might not work thus leaving your computer unable to function fully.
  • Without the Microsoft security upgrades, your computer will become vulnerable to new malware (viruses, trojans) and to hacking.
I'm just a home user, can I stick with XP?

Get a decent antivirus/security system, avoid suspicious websites and watch for dodgy emails. Review the situation in 2015.

Can I upgrade my old computer?

It depends a lot on what it is. I have recently upgraded a 7 year old PC with no difficulty. 
If your PC is capable of utilising 4GB of RAM (thinking memory) then Windows 7 should be viable.

Is it cheaper to buy a new computer instead?

Probably not. You will still have the time and expense of installing programs and transferring data from the old system. A new machine will, however, almost certainly be quicker with more capacity for expansion.

What about getting a second hand PC with 7 already installed?

This can be a cheaper option if you are 100% sure of the provenance of the computer. You might be buying a computer already compromised by virus or hacker.

Is there somebody I can talk to?

Sure! Call 020 8 662 1124 for free advice or email on andy@a222.net .

12 April 2014

HeartBleed bug


There is much in the press at the moment about the 'Heartbleed' bug which has enabled passwords on certain services to be hacked.

I won't go into a lengthy 'science bit' but will provide a list of popular websites and service which might have been affected. In most cases this is precautionary as the site or service employed technology which might have been affected. Those which have reported problems are marked with *.

  • Amazon web services (not ordinary Amazon accounts) - contact Amazon for advice.
  • Box *
  • DropBox *
  • Etsy *
  • Facebook
  • Flickr *
  • GitHub *
  • GoDaddy *
  • Google (but not Chrome)
  • Google Apps
  • Google Gmail
  • Google Play
  • Google Wallet
  • HMRC - ordinary online users unaffected, others will be contacted by HMRC.
  • IFTTT *
  • Instagram *
  • Minecraft *
  • Logmein
  • MumsNet *
  • Netflix *
  • OKCupid *
  • Pinterest *
  • Sage Online
  • SoundCloud *
  • Tumblr *
  • Wikipedia (account holders only)
  • Wordpress *
  • Wunderlist *
  • Yahoo *
  • Yahoo Mail *
  • YouTube *
If you use any of those listed then it is recommended that you change your password just in case it has been compromised.

The majority of sites listed above have detected no actual problem but are recommending password changes just in case.

UK Banking systems report no problems.

A222's own webhosting is not affected.

The list above is not comprehensive - you can always check a website's vulnerability at https://filippo.io/Heartbleed