Synology Urges You To Be On Guard Against Ransomware

Ransomware is some of the nastiest pieces of software in existence and in theory, it could hit anyone. Some people naturally have a greater risk, through the kind of work and tasks they do with their systems. But in theory, anyone can be unlucky enough to be hit with this kind of evil doing through security holes in the software being used.

This warning and reminder isn’t based on a specific new kind of ransomware, it is more to raise awareness of this kind of threats. Encryption-based ransomware such as CryptoWall, CryptoLocker, or TorrentLocker are on the rise, and they don’t just target Windows-based systems as many belief, they have also begun targeting network-based storage devices. Because of its stealthy nature and disastrous effects, ransomware is commonly perceived as a sophisticated, highly destructive, and unstoppable malware threat.

An advanced user isn’t really afraid of ransomware as they usually make backups of everything onto their network connected devices – or work directly from there via permanent shares and iSCSI setups. In the case of an infection, they simply wipe their system and install it again, and that would be the end of that story. Creators of this kind of nasty software know that and they want a piece of that pie too, which is why they have started to attack other systems besides workstations.

Where there is a threat, there is a way to defend yourself against it, at least in 99.9 percent of situations.

  • Update your operating system. Most people are up-to-date on their Windows and OS X updates simply because you’re being told when they’re available. But when was the last time you updated your NAS OS? Most NAS systems have automatic update features available and you should at the very least enable this for critical updates.
  • Install security software. A good anti-virus software is a good place to start and you’ll find solutions such as Avast or Intel security in your NAS’ app features. It will take up some resources to have it running, but those are resources that you should be happy to give up. Especially if you use the automatic download features found in all NAS units.
  • Disable Remote Desktop Protocol. Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) is a very common target for malware, which is why you should disable it if you don’t absolutely need it.
  • Install Mobile Apps and use Push Notifications. Applications for your smartphone and tablet are another great way to stay on top of your headless systems. Together with the push notifications feature you get up-to-date statuses from your system right into your pocket.
  • Beware of your actions. The golden rule is as it always has been, beware of what you do. Take the one second extra to hover a link and check the destination in the status bar before you click it, turn off features such as Hide file extensions for known file types, and don’t trust anything until you have verified the authenticity.

This time, the warning came from Synology, but in theory, it could have come from any of the big manufacturers. The bigger a company and brand gets, the more likely it is that their systems will be actively searched for vulnerabilities. Luckily Synology and other NAS’ have even more features that will help you in case that you get hit by this kind of malware.

A multi-version backup of all your files is naturally the best defense. If everything is backed up, then the evil ones can take their ransom demand and stick it where the sun doesn’t shine. Backup all your vital files from your system and onto your NAS is the first step and from there on you should have at least one more backup step – this could be a cloud solution, another NAS, or external drives, for example. Synology’s new Cloud Station Backup app can do all this for you through a single app, so it is as easy as it’s ever been. Hyper Backup is another awesome tool that lets you enjoy a full range of multi-version backup destinations from local shared folders, expansion units, and external hard drives, to network shared folders, Rsync server, and public cloud services. It can also isolate data for further protection from internet threats.

If your system supports Snapshot Replication through Btrfs file system, then you got another level of protection right there. Snapshot Replication allows you to replicate data from a primary site to an offsite location up to every 5 minutes and 15 minutes for LUNs, ensuring all your critical data in shared folders or virtual machines in iSCSI LUNs can be recovered quickly in the event of a disaster.

Synology also put up a mini-site that summarizes all these information along with the step to follow if you should have been effected. The fact that this site even was made, speaks for the severity of these attacks and how far they’re spreading. So be aware, practice safe surfing, and show an evolved behavior.

Toshiba Recalls Batteries Amongst Fears of Melting

Toshiba is a company known for their laptops and SSD’s, offering hardware to hundreds of people. If you are one of those people it may be best to double-check your laptop as Toshiba recalls batteries amongst fears of the batteries overheating and melting.

That’s right, the batteries can actually melt. Affecting nearly 40 different including popular Satellite models, the recall is expected to affect over 100,000 devices in the US and Canada alone.

In order to check if your battery, be it an original or one you’ve ordered as a replacement, you can go to Toshiba’s website and download a utility that will check if your battery is one of those affected by the recall. You can check the battery manually by comparing its battery part and accessory party number to the list provided here. As part of the recall, anyone who is found to have an affected battery will receive a replacement battery, with reassurances it won’t be one known for overheating and melt.

With large companies like Microsoft and Amazon having recalled equipment, all amongst heating and safety risks, the risk that a bad battery or charger is far too great to ignore. People have reported mobile phones exploding due to charging and most recently a mobile phones was found to have burst into flames on a plane, both examples of why we as purchasers and users of technology should be careful and check their devices when recalls such as these are announced.

Selfie Death Statistics Revealed

Most of us laugh at the selfie addicts, but there is no doubt that there are enough of them out there. In fact, the word selfie is mentioned in 365,000 facebook posts and 150,000 tweets each week alone and Instagram has over 50 million results when searching for the hashtag. That’s quite impressive, but there’s also a sad statistic when it comes to selfies and that is the one on selfie-related deaths.

With so many selfies taken every day, people are looking for that special one that will set them apart from the rest. They hang from cliffs, pose next to wild animals, and play chicken with oncoming trains. Sometimes they sadly don’t survive the attempts and become a statistical number. There hasn’t really been any general collection of these deaths up until now  and Priceonomics set out to change that. They went through three years of news archives and compiled every reported instance of a selfie-related death into a new report.

So let us get right to the numbers, at least those known to us. There can be a lot of selfie-related deaths that haven’t been reported as such. In short, 49 people have died while attempting to photograph themselves since 2014, the average age of the victims is 21 years old, and 75% of them are male.

Now, we should probably make it clear that it isn’t the selfie themselves that kill people. As far as I know, no one has died from taking their own photo yet and I don’t think anyone has managed to impale themselves on their selfie stick either. It is rather the lack of focus and dangerous places that are picked for the selfies that are the reason for the deaths. The most common reasons were falls from heights as well as drowning. Everyone should know to stay away from trains, but it looks like quite a few don’t know to do that either.

There is a clear picture of where it’s most dangerous to take selfies when we take a look at the location statistics. India is clearly ahead with 19 reported fatalities while Russia comes in on a second place with just seven deaths.

Last year it was 28 people alone that died as the result of their selfie addiction which in itself actually isn’t that much. More than double die from bee and wasp stings each year and it was also reported that up to 150 people die from falling coconuts each year. That puts it a little into perspective.

Still, you should use caution and not take unnecessary risks when you go for those special photographic memories. Keep in mind that no photo is worth your life, no matter how spectacular it might be. The below warning signs were made by a Russian site and they might be worth imprinting to memory.

Australia to Look at Hi-Tech Anti-Shark Methods

We’ve seen the films, the ones with the giant sharks coming up to the beach or the boat. It’s a natural fear, and one that Australia has dealt with for many years, New South Wales has over a dozen shark attacks which has resulted in Australia looking at new ways to deterring the predators from their beaches.

With the announcement of $16 million AUD (around £7.57 million) in the area of shark mitigation strategies over the next five years, with $3.5 million being dedicated to shark spotting techniques. Aiming to replace the helicopters currently used for the task, drones and sonar buoys could soon be used to provide advance warning of the threat and would send texts to nearby lifeguards giving them time to evacuate people from the water.

Alternatives have included tagging sharks and mapping their locations, giving you live updates on when the creatures approach the beaches. Sadly though this option has been put on the back burner due to the need to tag every single shark, a task that is a little against the numbers.

With advancements in technology and reductions in cost, anti-shark drones and buoys are now viable for large scale projects and with several prototypes and areas marked out for testing we could soon see them in action.

New Firefox Testing Feature Warns Of Insecure Website Password Submission

Consumers are exposed to a myriad of cyber threats which are intent upon harvesting as much information as possible, from bogus emails offering state cash refunds to spoofed pages which purport to be from a genuine vendors, but are in fact aiming to collect sensitive consumer details. Well known and popular browser Mozilla Firefox have recognised the importance of alerting consumers to the security of password submission by offering a simple yet important safeguard within the latest Firefox Nightly build.

The security measure in question is in the form of a faded crossed out padlock icon within the address bar of the browser, thankfully it’s more useful than simply a new icon. The aim of this new feature is to warn consumers if a password field is not submitted over HTTPS and thus regarded as insecure. If a consumer clicks on the icon it will provide further details as to why a particular site is considered insecure, below is an image to convey the change. This feature is currently “only in testing as part of Firefox 44 Nightly”.

This new yet simple feature is a good way of informing consumers as to the risks of submitting a password over an insecure method, cyber security is a hot topic and the more every individual knows the better. It will be interesting to note the rollout timescale of this feature once Firefox confirms it for its finished builds. On a side note, let’s hope consumers actually update their browsers in order to benefit from the latest security fixes, I bet many a reader knows someone who is running a version of Firefox that is at least 10 versions behind that of the currently available.

Image courtesy of technodyan

FDA Says Stop Using These IV Drips – You Could Be Hacked

The Food and Drug Administration is responsible for checking and maintaining people’s safety in regards to (surprise surprise) the food and drugs they are given. This time they’ve had to go a step further and “encourage” hospitals to replace a piece of tech from their supply lists and floors before it gets hacked.

Hospira’s Symbiq Infusion System (pictured in the centre above) is being recommended for immediate removal from hospitals all over due to a vulnerability in its ability to be controlled remotely. A third party can gain access to the device and control the dosages remotely which are then administrated by computerised pumps.

This discovery was made by the FDA and the Department of Homeland Security’s Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT for short). First reported on July 21st with a further alert made by the FDA on the 31st July. While they are open to being hacking, there has yet to be a reported instance of it happening.

The hack is done by connecting to the hospital network, allowing Symbiq systems to be remotely controlled. While the unit isn’t sold anymore by Hospira, it is still available from several third-party sellers.

This is the first adventure for the FDA in regards to discussing cybersecurity and the technology that is used to regulate and control food and medicine.

Thank you Yahoo News for the information.

Image courtesy of Biz Journals.

Startphones May Be Able to Predict When the next Earthquake Will Be

The common smartphone can do more than track movement, personal health or geographical position. The gadgets nowadays can also warn users of potential earthquakes thanks to advancements in GPS technology.

A team of researchers from the United States reveal how a crowdsourced early warning system can look like. They say that the smartphones are currently able to predict any earthquake with a magnitude of 7 of above. U.S. Geological Survey study leader in California, Sarah Minson, explained how the accelerometer data can be used along with GPS readings to give accurate real-time map activity.

“The GPS on a smartphone is shockingly good. If you take your phone and move it six inches to the right, it knows with surprising accuracy that it moved six inches to the right — and that is exactly what we want to know when studying earthquakes,” Minson stated.

While the idea is unique, it does have its limitations. Smartphones are not scientific instruments and can only act as warning systems, but even so, they may prove to even save lives one day. Minson stated that a special app is required to help record the data.

“The cost is essentially zero, especially since people buy new phones every two years or so to have the latest-and-greatest model,” Minson added.

The researchers have taken data from the 2011 earthquake in Tōhoku, Japan, to test the warning system out. Also, in order to avoid false alarms, the system is said to look for similar movement in different handsets at once.

The study was published in the Science Advances journal, but more research needs to be done before you can have your smartphones yelling at you in case they detect an earthquake.

Thank you Digital Trends for providing us with this information

MPAA Considering Pulling out of UK Pirate Notice Program

Earlier this year the MPAA entered an agreement with the UK government to begin sending out warning notices to Internet pirates. However, it seems that they don’t really believe in them and probably much rather want dangle huge fictive settlement fees in front of us and hunt the pirates with lawsuits.

The warning notices is one of the cornerstones of modern anti-piracy tactics. The copyright holders monitor internet traffic on torrent and similar systems, log the IP address on the offenders and ask their ISP to send out warning messages for the customers to stop their illegal activities. France was one of the first to adopt this method, but to no surprise the American ISPs are the biggest ones to use this system now. This system has been brought to the UK over the summer, but it seems the MPAA wasn’t really on board with it.

In fact, Torrentfreak is reporting that the MPAA had such cold feet in advance that they flew over a former senator to have a talk with the UK Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries and Prime Minister David Cameron’s Senior Policy Advisor in March. While they reached an agreement, the MPAA still doesn’t seem convinced that the warning-only system works. But for now it looks like Hollywood will give VCAP time to work, but could pull out at a later point if the public simply isn’t getting the message.

Thanks to TorrentFreak for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of TheRegister

Spiders Webs Spark A Recall On 870,000 Toyotas

Toyota are making a recall on a number of vehicles from their 2012 and 2013 ranges due to a problem with a component in the air conditioning system that could lead to airbags deploying in the worst case.

As many as 870,000 Toyota Avalons, Camrys and Venzas are affected and includes all models of these vehicles including hybrid versions. Believe it or not though, the problem in some cases has been caused by a spider making itself at home inside on the of the drainage tubes that come from the air conditioning condenser units.

As the webs are made, they can lead to a blockage that in turn causes the condensed water to flow in a direction that was otherwise not intended and drip onto the module that controls the airbags and cause a short-circuit inside.

In most cases, this has led to a warning light coming up on the dashboard of the vehicle, however there have been instances where the power steering system has failed, or as seen in at least three cases, the driver side airbag has deployed without warning.

Toyota have stated that in the 35 cases of warning lights coming up on the dash, there was a consistent discovery of spiders webs however they have not stated if this is the direct cause for each incident.

As part of the recall, Toyota will make a modification to the drainage tube in question to prevent it from dripping on to the airbag module and owners of affected vehicles will be notified via post to take their vehicle to their nearest dealer where the works will be carried out free of charge.

Source: CNN

Image Courtesy of Toyota