The WannaCry ransomware attack made massive headlines, and with good reason. But who’s to blame? As I see it, four separate entities caused the disasters: the criminal hackers, Microsoft, the NSA, and the victims. If any one of them had acted as they should have, the disaster would never have happened. Appearing on Friday, May 12, WannaCry – also known as WannaCrypt, WanaCryt0r, and Wanna Decryptor – infected nearly a quarter million computers in a very short time. And it didn’t just hit hapless users in one or two countries. Victims included Britain’s National Health Service (NHS), FedEx, and Deutsche Bahn. According to Wikipedia, the worst-hit countries were Russia, Ukraine, India and Taiwan. Let’s take a look at all four of the culprits, and one important hero. Culprit #1: The Hackers These are the culprits who belong in prison. They’re criminals, using their computer skills to extort money from people and organizations. Like all forms of ransomware, WannaCry is basically an extortion racket. When the malware infects a computer, it encrypts all data that it finds. Then it pops up a message demanding a ransom payment in untraceable bitcoin. If you don’t pay up in time, you lose family photos, business records, … Read More
If you’re like me (and a whole lot of other people), you have Android as your mobile operating system and Windows as your desktop OS. In fact, recent stats show Android is the dominant operating system for getting online — 38%, edging out Windows by 1%. And that’s with Windows still commanding the leading place in desktop operating systems, with an estimated 84% of all desktop PCs running Windows. So you’re a mixed-OS household, using both Android and Windows. You need access to your files, your notes, your photos, and even your music on both devices. But sharing all this information between two very different machines with two seemingly incompatible operating systems can be tricky. Here are five ways you can get Android and Windows 10 cooperating nicely. One caveat: There are a lot of versions of Android around, and they all behave differently. Your phone may not behave exactly like mine, but it should be close. For what it’s worth, I have a Nexus 6P running on Android Nougat 7.1.2. Cooperative Tactic #1: Transfer Files Via the Cloud Somewhere along the line, some genius at Google decided to discourage transferring files from computer to phone via cable. You must find … Read More
If you work a lot with spreadsheets, you know how difficult they can be once you get beyond simple tables and equations. And you know that data entry can be boring beyond belief. The more complex the table, the more confusing it is to evaluate. Shouldn’t there be quicker and easier way to do some of these tasks? Microsoft Excel has a lot of nifty shortcuts that can help relieve the tedium of data entry and provide clarity with complex tables. Here are six features built into Excel 2016 that can ease creating spreadsheets and understanding the ones you (and other people) create. And after those six, I’ll treat you to 20 keyboard shortcuts that – if you can memorize them – will make your jobs lighter. Some of these tricks will be found in earlier versions of Excel; others are exclusive to Excel 2016. Remember that if you subscribe to Office 365, you currently have Excel 2016. Tell Me What You Want To Do Do you always remember how to create a pie chart, freeze the left-hand column, or name a range? I didn’t think so. Excel’s “Tell me what you want to do” can help you complete a chore even … Read More
Personal computers make our lives easier. Typos fix themselves and numbers recalculate as you change individual figures to be added, subtracted, multiplied or divided. But PCs never really seem as easy as they should. Here are eight small programs, most of them free, that simplify common tasks and ease your burden. You probably won’t want all of them, but some will almost certainly be useful. None of these utilities come with potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) hiding in their installation routines. Install any of these, and you’ll only get the programs you want. Just remember: A few choice tools can ease the chores. But too many tools can slow down Windows. Pick the tools that seem most useful to you, personally, and let the others slide. Remove Formatting Quickly and Easily with PureText We all copy and paste text from one place to another, and when we do, the formatted text appears in its new location. But sometimes, you don’t want the italics, the special font, or the link; you just want the text. This article is part of our premium content. Join Now.Already a paid subscriber? Click here to login.
Credit card numbers, Social Security Numbers, scanned passports, plans for world domination — these are only a few of the items that you may be tempted to send in an email. But unless you have encryption, you shouldn’t hit “send” on any of them. A message can pass through numerous servers on its journey and can be read on any of them. Encrypting a message can be much more complicated than encrypting a file or even a drive. There are other people involved. And they may not be as tech savvy or security conscious as you. So you need encryption that won’t confuse someone who panics at the thought of downloading a file. Another issue you need to consider: Just how much security do you need? It’s one thing to protect your information from run-of-the-mill cybercrooks. It’s another to keep your private words from the government. And remember that there is no perfect security. Even the best encryption algorithm can be cracked if someone uses a password like 123456. The goal is to find something both practical and sufficiently secure. The Weak Encryption You Probably Already Have Your messages probably already travel encrypted from your email client to your email provider’s server, … Read More
What’s more expensive: a Windows PC or a Mac? The answer seems obvious: When you compare price tags to power and features, PCs almost always win. But when you consider costs of use as well as costs of purchase, Macs appear to be cheaper. At least that’s the conclusions found by both IBM and computer repair company RESCUECOM (website). Using a computer costs money, especially in the workplace. Long learning curves cut productivity. When an employee must figure out why their computer isn’t behaving as it should, that employee is not being productive. If he or she is forced to call IT for advice or, worse, a visit, two people are taken away from their other chores. What’s more, if employees are frustrated by the tools given to them, morale drops. According to IBM, Macs are easier to learn and cause fewer problems than Windows PCs. And according to RESCUECOM, they need fewer repairs. That’s less downtime, fewer helpdesk calls — and therefore smaller overhead. IBM’s experience Fletcher Previn, IBM’s VP of Workplace as a Service, spoke last October at the jamf Nation User Conference (webpage) and said, “Every Mac we buy is in fact continuing to make and save IBM money.” This … Read More
You probably use Windows 10’s File Explorer a hundred times a day. You already know how to use it to move around your hard drive. Why bother to learn it better? Because you’ll work more efficiently. This truly excellent file manager has little-known tricks that makes it even more powerful and convenient. You can control what folder the program opens to. You can hide and unhide the ribbon. You can make your favorite File Explorer tools more readily available. And you can use keyboard shortcuts to make everything easier. I’m not going to tell you how to use File Explorer. I assume you already know the basics. But I’ll take you to the next level, and make File Explorer easier and faster for you. The Many Ways to Open File Explorer Of course you know how to open File Explorer. But do you know the fastest and simplest way to do it? Or how to control what folder it opens to? The fastest and easiest way to open File Explorer doesn’t involve your mouse or touchscreen. Simply press Win-E and up comes a File Explorer window. If you’re already running the program, it opens another File Explorer window. This article … Read More
These days, it seems nearly every event, big and small, is captured by a battery of digital cameras and smartphones. With the right software, it’s relatively easy to combine these random videos into a record that’s truly worth sharing.