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Posted on Nov 29, 2018 in Newsletter, Welcome | 0 comments

TWT Newsletter NG – Issue 66 – Shop safe and avoid ancient bugs!

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TWT Newsletter NG – Issue 66

Hi, welcome to the November 2018 TWT Newsletter!

November already and for many of us the nights will be drawing in and the weather getting colder. This month we’ve got some top tips on how to stay safe as you shop online this holiday season and also a look at a Windows bug that pre-dates the operating system itself!

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In this months issue:-

Holiday season shopping tips
Tip of the Month – When stuck without Wi-fi on your laptop, tether your phone!
Free Utility of the Month – PicPick
Microsoft Store App of the Month – Forza Horizon 4 / Forza Horizon 4 demo
Is this the oldest bug in Windows?

Holiday season shopping tips

As we enter November, peoples thoughts turn to Christmas shopping and, increasingly in recent years, snaffling some bargains on Black Friday. If, like millions of other shoppers, you’ve decided to shun bricks and mortar stores in favour of online shopping, you will probably be firing up your Windows PC for some serious bargain hunting. Before you fire up the browser and pull out the credit card though, here are some tips to make your online shopping safer this holiday season.

Check your browser – Make sure it is up to date – This is the most important thing to do before you submit personal information like credit card details. Fortunately it’s really easy. If you’re using Microsoft Edge, then Windows should keep everything up to date for you (though you can always check manually too, see the instructions here).

For browsers like Chrome or Firefox, you simply need to open the menu (usually the button in the top right of the window) and choose “Help” and then “About”.

Do not use “niche” browsers – Browsers like Waterfox, a custom version of Firefox, might seem cool, but they don’t get security updates as often as the normal, vanilla Firefox and are best avoided.

Use a password manager – If you shop on dozens of different websites, you should have a unique password for each one. Trouble is, how do you remember them all? Along with your password for your Credit Card (Verified by Visa/Mastercard Secure) and online banking, etc etc. The answer to that question is easy, start using a password manager.

How does a password manager help Protect you online? Password managers, sometimes called password vaults, work in two ways. Firstly, they let you log into sites on the internet much quicker, just by the click of a button. Secondly, they safeguard and remember all your passwords (except one, your master password) Lets take a look at an example.

Bob, who doesn’t have a password manager, logs onto several of his favourite websites while using the internet. A couple of popular online shops, his bank account, his mobile phone service page and his webmail. Bob can only remember a couple of simple passwords which are easy to guess and are transmitted over the internet for each site he visits.


Bob transmits the same easy to guess password to all his sites, because he can’t remember several different ones.

Alice is also a user of the same sites but she uses a password manager utility. When she signs up for any site, she generates a random series of letters and numbers and uses that for her password. She doesn’t need to remember these passwords, because the password manager remembers them for her. All she has to remember is her master password, which is entered into the password manager and NEVER used or transmitted across the internet.


Alice uses a hard to guess, unique password for each site.

Now, if there is a security breach on one of the sites that Alice and Bob have been using, then hackers could gain access to both their accounts. However, in Bobs case, the hackers would also have access to his Facebook, Google, Youtube, all his online forums and his mobile phone and internet banking too, since Bob used the same password for each site. Alice on the other hand, is not so concerned. All of her passwords are unique and they are all random sequences of numbers and letters. The hackers can’t ever get her master password (as long as she keeps her computer secure and memorises her master password, without writing it down) because it is never transmitted over the internet. Alice doesn’t need to worry about her other passwords being stolen since they are all totally different from each other.

Our current favourite password manager is Sticky Password Manager. This powerful little password manager is free to use on a single PC, and can inexpensively be upgraded to work across multiple PCs using local network sync. Beware of password managers that offer to store your passwords in the cloud. This may seem convenient but, this means your master password DOES have to be transmitted over the internet, meaning these systems are considerably less secure.

Learn about user accounts – Learning how to create and manage user accounts will help you with your online shopping in two ways, as detailed below.

Prevent other family members snooping on your browsing history – Don’t want your IT savvy kids finding out what Santa’s bringing them this year. Santa might be able to keep a secret but if they manage to get into your browser history, then all bets are off. Using a separate user account will make sure the kids are locked out from snooping on all your files, including this highly sensitive data.

Beef up security by running as a standard user – By default, Windows creates a single user account as the computer administrator. Even if you’re the only user of the PC, you can improve security by creating yourself a separate, standard user account. This works because, when using a standard user account, apps you run on your PC are prevented from making system wide changes. Although you still have to confirm most system changes on Windows using the UAC prompts, standard accounts beef up security even further, by requiring your administrator password before any changes can be made. Many Windows exploits that trick the user into installing malware are thwarted by the extra layer of defence that standard accounts provide.

Standard accounts are also a MUST for children, who will be prevented from experimenting and changing any system wide settings.

Steer clear of bad websites with Malwarebytes – For another layer of protection, consider installing Malwarebytes anti-malware. This package actively scans websites and has a black list of thousands of bad sites that may try to sneak malware onto your computer.

What’s more, Malwarebytes operates a full “bug bounty” program, rewarding security researchers for finding bugs and security problems in their software, meaning there’s always an incentive for hackers and security researchers to report bugs directly to the company, rather than for them to be tempted to sell that information on the black market, for instance.

Phew, this little article turned into quite the security lecture! By following all these steps, and some good old common sense, you’re all but guaranteed to have a safe and fun online shopping experience this year.

Tip of the Month – When stuck without Wi-fi on your laptop, tether your phone!

Moble phones have come a long way from the brick in your back pocket to the sleek, mini computers of today, but there’s still no substitute for a laptop or desktop PC when you need to get some work done. If you are ever on the road and really need to use your laptop but can’t find a Wi-Fi hotspot, don’t forget that most modern mobile phones can “tether” themselves to your PC, allowing you to use your data allowance to surf the internet on your Windows device.

If you have an Android phone, follow the guide here to tether the device to your Windows PC.

If you’re an iOS user, the guide here will help you.

A word of warning if you do this, remember to turn the tethering feature off once you’re done. Your humble editor once managed to forget to do this, then connected his iPhone to his desktop PC, which happened to be downloading a large file. The PC then switched to the tethered mobile phone connection and sapped a months worth of mobile data in a few minutes. Needless to say, that’s not a mistake I’ve been keen to repeat!

Free Utility of the Month – PicPick

Microsoft may be overhauling their screenshot app with the new Snip and Sketch app (available in the Windows store now), but our favourite free screen capture app is still PicPick.

Using this handy tool, you can capture screenshots of your entire desktop, a specific area, or a specific window. What’s more, once you have your captured image, PicPick has a full image editor built in, that makes editing your captured image a breeze. The app even allows you to upload your image directly to the cloud or social media.

Grab your copy of this handy free tool by visiting this link .

Microsoft Store App of the Month – Forza Horizon 4 / Forza Horizon 4 demo

Even if you win the lottery and buy that super car you wanted, what are you going to do with it? Sure, you may have imagined speeding down country roads and power sliding around corners but the reality is, such reckless behaviour would be likely to get you, or someone else, killed or injured. That is if you weren’t arrested first of course. Computer games let us do things we could never do in the real world, and in Forza Horizon 4 you can drive fast cars around the roads of the United Kingdom at break-neck speeds without ever breaking your neck.

Now you can get a taste of this latest instalment of the popular racing game franchise for free by checking out the Forza Horizon 4 demo in the Microsoft Store. Check it out here.

Be sure to check the minimum specs for this game as it requires a powerful PC.

Is this the oldest bug in Windows?

Microsoft has made some great progress improving the security and reliability of Windows since the Windows XP days, but nevertheless it’s somewhat inevitable that bugs (programming mistakes) will still exist in the software. Bugs are squashed out all the time, thanks to Windows update, but often a particular bug will make the IT headlines as people realise just how long it has been lurking in the operating system. Back in 2016, for instance, Microsoft patched this particular bug to do with printers that had been in the OS for 20 years.

How about a bug that’s been part of the OS since before Windows even existed? For early computer users, Microsoft Windows must have seemed like something out of a science fiction movie. Typically, the business machines of the 1970s and early 80s were operated from the command line. You typed the command you wanted the computer to carry out and, if you typed it correctly, the computer would execute your instructions. The command prompt is still a part of Windows today, of course. You can load it yourself by searching for “command prompt” on the Start menu or search bar.

In those dark days, before graphics and often before hard drives, it was decided that certain file names would be reserved for special use. These file names were “CON, PRN, AUX, NUL, COM1, COM2, COM3, COM4, COM5, COM6, COM7, COM8, COM9, LPT1, LPT2, LPT3, LPT4, LPT5, LPT6, LPT7, LPT8, and LPT9”.

Why were these particular names reserved? It all has to do with convenience. When you were working with a file in a word processor, you could save your work as “PRN” and the computer would print it for you. Early computers were very limited on resources, so your word processor may not even have had printing facilities of its own, so this could be quite the time saver.

Of course, nobody would do this on a modern operating system, so Twitter user @Foone was really surprised when, archiving some files from a Linux computer onto his Windows PC, his Windows 10 machine decided a 9.57 KB file was “too big” to copy to his hard drive. Digging a little deeper, he found that this bug was actually because of these special, reserved file names that date back to a decision made in 1974, on CP/M systems, the command line operating system that pre-dates even Microsoft’s MS-DOS.

Linux computers do not have this restriction, so it’s perfectly acceptable to name a file AUX on a Linux machine. If you do this however, it is then impossible to copy the file to a Windows PC! 44 years later and this seemingly innocent design decision is causing problems on modern computers. Is this the oldest bug in Windows? Chances are it probably is, and its origins give us a fascinating insight into the history of computing (if that’s your thing!).

You can read more about the 44 year old file name bug here.

That rounds off our newsletter for November. On behalf of everyone here at Top-Windows-Tutorials, I’d like to thank you all for your continuing support. The TWT Newsletter will return on the 10th December 2018 and will bring you more tips, tricks and techniques to help you get the best out of your PC, be it Windows 7 Windows 8 or Windows 10. We hope that you found this newsletter informative and useful. If you did not then please let us know why, you can contact us by visiting this page. If you have enjoyed this newsletter, feel free to pass it on to all your friends and family, or better still encourage them to sign up for their own copy. Until next month, keep checking Top-Windows-Tutorials.com. To our many readers in the USA, have a happy Thanksgiving and enjoy happy, safe and stress-free computing!

 

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