On July 4th, Apple experienced issues with most of its iCloud services, per this site. End-users were having trouble signing into iCloud and accessing their accounts, along with Photos, Mail, Backup, Find My Friends, Contacts, Calendars, and more seeing downtime. Apple Stores were also reportedly affected by the outage and were not able to process transactions.
While this issue was eventually resolved by Apple, there could be other times where iCloud has issues and end-users are asked for a password. End-users will tend to try their known password, which in these times will not work. After trying multiple times, end-users will then think they have the wrong password and try another password, which gets saved in the keychain and is wrong.
This will result in the following scenario for the end-user:
- Lost access to their account.
- Not understanding why they lost access.
- Not knowing what password is the truly correct password.
This can lead to all sorts of issues. For example, Denial of Service attacks can be leveraged to get end-users to use side channels, and these side channels can be loaded with spam and other undesirable internet materials. In the event there are issues with iCloud and passwords, it is recommended to do the following procedure:
- At the first prompt for a password for an account that has been working fine up to that point, just ignore for a few minutes.
- After this, the first move should be to power cycle the computer (shut it down (not restarting), giving the computer 5-10 seconds to rest, and then powering it back on).
- If it is still asking for a password that worked previously, check for service interruptions and/or contact tech support.
- If the account is of security concern, consider logging into the account via a different method and reset the account password.
- Make sure you didn’t get locked out by a hacker. It is important that you determine this ASAP because the longer you wait after they log you out, the more time they have to get into other accounts and lock you out.
- If you find you have been locked out of your account, change passwords in your other accounts, starting from highest priority to lowest.
If you have any questions, or would like to discuss further, let us know!
We previously notified our readers of a breach involving Microsoft Outlook email. Users of Cryptocurrency are now coming forward to indicate that this Outlook breach led to a theft by hackers of their Cryptocurrency from various Cryptocurrency Exchanges, as detailed in this follow-up article.
Keeping anything online, whether it be email or items like Cryptocurrency, leaves a user open to potential hacks. It is wise to copy email to a folder on the user’s computer vs. leaving it online in an inbox or the like for hackers to gain access to. When stored in a folder on a personal computer, it’s much harder to access.
Also, enabling verification items like 2fa (Two-factor authorization), where a user is required to verify log-ins and other procedures using an application on their phone, are wise to use to prevent access to user accounts. As one user indicated in the article, they did not have 2fa enabled on their account, so it allowed the hackers easier access.
If you’d like to discuss further on ways you can protect yourself online, please let us know!
Individuals that rely heavily on WiFi may want to hold off on new equipment purchases until they are WiFi 6 (aka 802.11ax) equipped and/or upgradable to WiFi 6. As detailed in this article, the new upgrade will make WiFi faster, while also approving its efficiency in other areas. The speed is almost tripled from WiFi 5 (aka 802.11ac), meaning that it can deliver more speed to more devices. And with its efficiency improvements, the advantages are more apparent through improving the network when lots of devices are connected.
WiFi 6 puts forth new technologies to help mitigate the issues that come with putting dozens of Wi-Fi devices on a single network. It allows routers to communicate with more devices at once, send data to multiple devices in the same broadcast, and lets Wi-Fi devices schedule check-ins with the router. When all is said and done, the result should be that the devices are more likely to maintain top speeds even in busier environments.
In addition to speed improvements, WiFi 6 should provide greater security, as WiFi 6 will need to support WPA3 to receive certification from the Wi-Fi Alliance. WPA3 is the most recent security protocol and the biggest upgrade to the security level of WiFi in a decade. This will make it harder for hackers to crack passwords by guessing multiple times, and make some data less useful even if hackers are able to gain access. Therefore, most devices will include this greater level of security to receive certification.
In order to use WiFi 6, you’ll need a router that supports it. Those that will see the biggest improvements in WiFi performance are those that have WiFi 6 enabled devices and have lots of devices attempting to connect to one WiFi 6 router. At this point, the routers remain relatively expensive, but should become more affordable as time goes on.
If you’d like to discuss WiFi topics like this further, please let us know!
It is becoming more and more popular for a user to be on a mobile device and receive pop-up windows or be otherwise directed to a site to indicate that you’ve been hacked or are being tracked, and the solutions is to install a VPN (Virtual Private Network) application. A VPN allows the user to connect to another public IP in order to mask their current IP, and encrypt data sent.
With these pop-up redirect ads, what is occurring is that various VPN providers provide affiliate programs, where individuals are compensated for driving traffic to the VPN provider. These individuals create scare-tactic ads that promote users install the VPN application, and in return, the affiliate marketer receives compensation in exchange.
As the article states, if you receive one of these warnings, just close the page. If you are having issues closing the page, close your web browser. Upon re-opening the browser, attempt to close the page if it still exists. Also, closing the page that prompted the redirection is also advised, to prevent further issues. Also, NEVER install any applications being promoted on these sites, as they could install any variety of malware onto your device.
Please let us know if you have questions or would like to discuss setting up a more secure VPN into your computing environment!
For the first three months of 2019, Microsoft has admitted that hackers had access to some details of certain Outlook.com email accounts. As this article states, Outlook.com is the web version of Microsoft’s email service, and this online service was previously known as Hotmail. Per Microsoft, “this unauthorized access could have allowed unauthorized parties to access and/or view information related to your email account …but not the content of any emails or attachments.”
While it appears no actual emails were read or attachments were accessed, this is an important reminder that being online brings its share of risks to user data. It’s a smart idea to use an actual email application to view email, in companion with a web browser, and to store as much email off-line as possible. This will help in prevention of potential data access in the event your email account gets hacked.
In relation to this, and as has been mentioned before, it is important to ensure the safeguarding of passwords, for email and other sites. It is good practice to change passwords periodically throughout the year. By doing so, there’s less of a chance that the current password is in the hands of hackers if it is changed more often, in the event an account is compromised. Also, never send password or login information via email, as this just opens user’s data to easily being compromised.
As always, please contact us if you have questions or would like to discuss further!
It is a vitally important practice to keep your passwords safe. As a general rule, never give out passwords to anyone. The article here notes that Facebook asked a user for their email login and password to verify who they were. This can open up a user to phishing attacks.
If you need to use Facebook, it is advised to create a new Gmail account and use that specifically for Facebook, rather than risking the potential of a frequently-used email account being compromised.
In addition to this, it is wise to use different and hard-to-guess passwords for different websites. Using the same password for different sites opens one up again to issues if one site’s password file gets hacked.
Feel free to discuss with us your options with keeping your passwords safe. We’re here to help!
Facebook stored passwords for hundreds of millions of users, exposing them for years to any person who had internal access to these password files. Passwords are usually encrypted, but errors led to some 200 million to 600 millions passwords being exposed. Passwords that were affected were for Facebook, Facebook Lite and Instagram. More information can be found here.
This is a good reminder of the importance of:
- Changing passwords often, while making them not easily guessable
- Using 2fa (Two Factor Authorization) applications on your mobile phone, such as Authy
- Configuring Facebook to send you alerts in the event an unauthorized computer or mobile device logs into your account
- Using Facebook to audit your account to see what devices are currently logged into your account, to determine if there are any that may look suspicious
If you’d like assistance with setting up any of these items, or have questions, let us know!
The latest version of the Mozilla browser Firefox can now block auto-play videos with sound. Chrome has previously introduced this ability, but Firefox’s has the ability to block more videos in a more user-friendly manner of setup. It can also be configured to exclude only certain sites, and include others. More can be read here.
Features such as this are good for those on limited download plans. If you’d like assistance with configuring this feature, just let us know!
A quick summary from the article of steps to take in regards to browser extensions that can be installed for Chrome and other similar Web browsers:
- Don’t install software that you cannot read and asks for intrusive permissions.
- If something seems off, it probably is. Evaluate what might cause your user journey to change.
- Periodically evaluate what extensions you have on your browser — remove those you don’t use anymore.
- If you have an extension on your browser that you use, seek an open-source version/alternative or disable automatic updates from the Chrome store — make sure you audit the code or find someone reliable and trustworthy to.