Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Texas Comptroller Warns Of Phone Scam

By: Vincent Esquivel

I recently got an email from the Texas Comptroller warning of a phone scam that is targeting taxpayers. As the message says, never give your credit card information over the phone. Protect your information and be safe.

"We recently became aware of a scam involving an individual falsely claiming to represent the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, or in some cases the Texas Department of Transportation. The caller claims the taxpayer has a tax liability or other issue and requests credit card information. 
The Comptroller's office does not request payment details, such as credit card numbers or electronic check information, over the telephone. 
If you receive one of these calls, please do not provide your personal confidential credit card or bank information."

Have any questions? Visit the Texas Comptroller Website.

Friday, February 10, 2017

2 Repairs for 1 Valentine's Day Special

By: Vincent Esquivel

I love helping my customers with their computer problems. And, I always take it a step further with installing free antivirus software with every repair. I don't have to. I want to. I see it as a responsibility to make sure I don't give back a computer to a customer without some sort of protection on it.

So, it's that time. Love is in the air. The best deal of the year. 2 Repairs for 1. Treat your loved ones to fixed computers without breaking the bank.

You already got the flowers and candy. Now, give them peace of mind. Give them the gift that keeps on giving. A protected and properly working computer.

Or, you can treat yourself. Get those couple of computers that have needed to be serviced finally fixed.

Dust off those old computers you forgot about. Keep in mind that I always give Free Estimates.

Now for the technical stuff: This deal is for Labor only. Parts are excluded from this special. Any parts needed for repair will be charged to the customer and may require a deposit. The higher priced repair will be charged to the customer. The lower priced repair will be free. Drop-Offs only.

Have any questions? I'll be happy to answer them. Call me today to set up an appointment and get a free estimate: 361-334-9265

Hurry! This deal ends soon.

Monday, February 6, 2017

"FBI Is Put On Notice" After iOS Crack Leak

By: Vincent Esquivel

In 2015, a controversial iPhone made the headlines and became a topic of discussion for a controversial reason. After the San Bernandino shooting, the police had confiscated an iPhone that belonged to the shooters. This phone soon took center stage of the investigation. Who were the shooters talking to? Who else may have been involved? A known terrorist group? 

With those type of questions having to be answered, the investigation was no longer a local matter. The case was quickly taken over by the FBI. And, so was this phone. Soon the FBI was blaming the local authorities for making matters worse by trying to unlock the phone themselves. This had led to the phone locking itself down after failed attempts of unlocking it. So, the FBI went to Apple so they could unlock the phone and they could get into the data. Apple declined. This led to a legal battle. Apple stood behind their decision.

Everything was quiet until the FBI admitted they went with a third party and got the phone unlocked. There were rumors that it was one individual and that $1 million was paid for the service. But, no specifics were given.

Personally, I felt that not giving any details of who was responsible for the unlocking was a good thing. As soon as a name was released, I knew through history that a hack or attack was bound to happen. These type of tools and techniques are sought after by hackers. We put our whole lives are on our cell phones. Some of these hackers don't have the best of intentions.

Then, Cellebrite appeared. Soon, they were on news reports explaining their business. They just don't unlock iPhones. They unlock Android and Blackberry phones, too. Their clock started ticking.

The data and various cracks were leaked by a hacker last month.

As reported by Motherboard:

Now the hacker responsible has publicly released a cache of files allegedly stolen from Cellebrite relating to Android and BlackBerry devices, and older iPhones, some of which may have been copied from publicly available phone cracking tools. 
"The debate around backdoors is not going to go away, rather, its is almost certainly going to get more intense as we lurch toward a more authoritarian society," the hacker told Motherboard in an online chat. 
"It's important to demonstrate that when you create these tools, they will make it out. History should make that clear," they continued.
Cellebrite is an Israeli firm which specializes in extracting data from mobile phones for law enforcement agencies. The company's flagship product, the Universal Forensic Extraction Device (UFED), typically comes as a small, laptop-sized device, and can pull SMS messages, emails, and more from thousands of different mobile phone models. The investigator needs to have physical access to the phone to analyze it. 
A Motherboard investigation found that US state police and highway patrol agencies have collectively spent millions of dollars on Cellebrite technology.

Later in the same article:
"@FBI Be careful in what you wish for," the hacker's message reads, before signing off with a piece of ASCII art, which says "Backdoorz."

Encryption and privacy will always be subjects of debate. Hacking is not going anywhere. But, my advice to you is to encrypt your cell phone. Transfer and delete files and things you don't want to end up in the wrong hands. Think about limiting your cell phone use to just using it as a phone. Maybe your banking should be done only on the home computer. These are just suggestions. But, it's something to consider. Protect your data. Protect your identity.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Stream the Super Bowl This Sunday For Free

By: Vincent Esquivel

Wanting to watch the Super Bowl this Sunday? Don't have cable? Can't get great over-the-air reception? Well, as long as you have a good internet connection at home you will still be able to enjoy the Super Bowl in High Definition. 

Reported by the Motley Fool:

The broadcast network will offer a live stream of the Super Bowl on its FOX Sports GO streaming platform. Anyone who wants to watch the big game will be able to do so on, using iOS, Android, Windows, and Amazon tablets or through connected devices, including Apple TV, Roku, Android TV, Chromecast, Amazon Fire, and XBOX One. No credentials or login will be required.

So, make sure the FOX Sports GO app is installed on your device and enjoy the game.

RapidTech Podcast Ep 6: Win10 Game Mode, MLB Hacking, Gitlab Accidental Delete

By: Vincent Esquivel

In this episode I talk about Windows 10 getting Game Mode in the near future. MLB's Cardinals get fined $2 Million for a computer hack that happened a few years ago. And, how you can invest a little more money to protect your home or office network. A Gitlab employee accidentally deletes a users database. Which is a reminder that you should back up this week's work. Protect your data.

Impotant links:

Game Mode Is Coming To Your Windows 10 Computer

Major League Baseball Hacking Investigation Ends With A $2 Million Fine

A Startup Company In Trouble After Employee Deletes Wrong Files

Thursday, February 2, 2017

A Startup Company In Trouble After Employee Deletes Wrong Files

GitLab cofounders Dmitriy Zaporozhets, left, and Sytse "Sid" Sijbrandij

By: Vincent Esquivel

Gitlab is a startup company with $25 million is funding. However, Feb. 1 was a bad day for them and some users that lost their data permanently.

As reported by Business Insider:

The bad day started on Tuesday evening, when a GitLab system administrator tried to fix a slowdown on the site by clearing out the backup database and restarting the copying process. But the admin accidentally typed the command to delete the primary database instead, according to a blog entry.

Of course, I always tell people to back up their data. The reason is usually because of the threat viruses or hackers. However, we forget human error. And, we've all done that at some point in time. We're moving or copying files around. And, BAM! We hit the wrong key or click the wrong command. All the data is gone. Yet, we have to realize that cloud services are managed by people, too.

There's no excuse these days. Storage is getting cheaper by the month. There are sales all the time. Get an extra hard drive of some kind. Back up your data. Viruses happen. So do mistakes.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Major League Baseball Hacking Investigation Ends With A $2 Million Fine

By: Vincent Esquivel

As a tech, I warn individuals and businesses about all sorts of hacking. Criminals trying to get personal information. Or, they steal money directly from your bank account. There's also methods of taking down websites which can bring business to a halt. This happens all the time in the financial and tech industries. Some of these businesses are worth billions of dollars.

However, we forget that sports are also a billion dollar industry and is just as susceptible to hacking. Case in point, the Cardinals/Astros hacking investigation.

As reported today by the Washington Post:

Despite finding (Chris) Correa acted alone, Manfred ruled the Cardinals were “vicariously liable for his misconduct” and that the Astros suffered “material harm” as a result. Correa, who pleaded guilty a year ago to five counts of unauthorized access to a protected computer and is now serving a 46-month sentence in federal prison, was also banned for life from baseball.

The Cardinals were fined $2 million and their two top draft picks. These were then give to the Astros.

I'm hoping this money is invested in more IT security. I can safely assume that this is not the first or last time this type of computer hacking will happen. It's a different era.