Trails End Computer Club

Bulletin for the month of MAY 2016


MEETINGS WILL

 CONTINUE

IN THE FALL


SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS:

If you would like to meet in a small group to discuss special computer related subjects or form a Special Interest Group lets discuss it.

Our bulletin is also available on line by visiting tecc.apcug.org and clicking on bulletin.


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vtc

FREE 2016 Spring Virtual Technology Conference (VTC)

Saturday, May 7

Noon till 4 pm Central time


Attend the FREE conference from the convenience of your own home! All you need is your computer, tablet, etc. and Internet access. The sessions are 50 minutes in length and offer attendees the opportunity to ask questions via Q&A; the questions are answered by the presenter at the end of the presentation or via e-mail if there isn’t enough time after the presentation.


APCUG uses ZOOM for the VTC webinar presentations (www.zoom.us). If you have not participated in a VTC, go to https://zoom.us/download  to download the app for the device you will be using to ‘attend’ the conference.


Videos from earlier conferences can be found on APCUG’s YouTube channel www.youtube.com/apcugvideos.


• To register for this VTC, please click on the below link:

http://bit.ly/apcug-2016-spring-vtc 


Spread the word by forwarding this e-mail to your members. VTCs are a great way for them to expand their technology experience and be introduced to new skills. Below are the sessions that are currently scheduled. 


SCHEDULE

TRACK 1


TECHNOLOGY FROM A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE

Bob Gostischa, Avast Evangelist

Looking back at technology and comparing it to now, this presentation is an enjoyable and funny comparison combined with the stark reality of what you need to do to keep safe in the modern world. The presentation covers: Computers (Windows and Mac), tablets and Smart Phones.


Join Bob as he takes a comical look back in time and then explains what you need to know to stay safe in the present. He will make your Internet experience and computer operation safe, secure and, enjoyable.


SETUP & CONFIGURE A HOME NETWORK

Ken Rogers, IT Business Analyst for PNC Bank

Today's home network has many parts; including getting the internet into the house and then getting it to all your computers, mobile devices and even some day, your refrigerator. How do you get the fastest speed, protect your data and keep out the hackers? Ken Rogers will talk about what you need and what you need to consider.


IOS 9.3 FOR IPADS AND IPHONES

Jere Minich, Program Chair, Lake Sumter Computer Society; APCUG Advisor, Region 5; Member of APCUG’s Speakers Bureau

This presentation will cover the following (and other things you should know): 

  • How do I get iOS 9.3? and 9.3.1?

  • Why is there a 9.3.1 Update?

  • What are the Changes in the Apps?

  • What else is New?

  • Are there any Security Fixes?

TRACK 2


UPGRADING YOUR LAPTOP, PART 2

Greg Skalka, President, Under the Computer Hood User Group

How to add more storage space and/or speed by replacing your laptop's hard drive with a larger HD or a solid-state drive.


WHY I RECOMMEND A CHROMEBOOK 

Stew Bottorf, Teacher & SIG Leader, Tampa Bay Computer Society

Our club is populated mostly by Seniors who have struggled to keep up with new technology. Most members today are interested only in browsing and email. Our club offers its members free computer repair which may be behind on updates, slow, infected with malware, or poorly used by their owner. When a new computer is needed I almost always recommend a Chromebook.


The idea of a computer that is impervious to viruses and poor use, updates itself, almost never needs repair, and costs half (or less) the price of a new Windows computer -- that is the Google Chromebook. With extra user effort a Chromebook can do real work as well as their more costly cousins for a longer time since they consume less battery power. 


This Spring 18 TBCS members bought new Chromebooks (most were refurb. units costing less than $130) and signed into my 8 hour Chromebook Class. We've discovered Chromebooks are fun to use and work better with a few tweaks I'll show you today.


USING THE "TASK MANAGER" IN A "WINDOWS" COMPUTER

Francis Chao, Member, APCUG OLS (Online Services) committee; WINNERS “WINdows usERS” and Greater South Bay PCUG; and the Tucson Computer Society 

This presentation provides you with an under-the-hood view of the operating system, startup programs, third-party software application programs, hardware utilization, and network bandwidth utilization. In addition to being a useful analysis tool, the "Task Manager" in "Windows….." gives you a powerful way to close down potentially dangerous Web browser tabs and windows and any "drive by" downloads of malware that they might attempt to send into your computer. 


Wi-Fi Security – John Adams

Meeting review by William Callahan, Member, Danbury Area Computer Society

January 2016 issue, DACS.doc www.dacs.org dacseditor (at) dacs.org


Computer Security awareness is imperative to any end user; Wi-Fi security is no exception. John Adams, the speaker for the DACS General Meeting in January, presented an excellent set of information which was invaluable to understanding wireless devices and securing them from malicious attacks.

John kicked off the meeting by exploring the concepts of the 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi bands. Currently, most modern devices are “dual-band”, meaning that they support both the legacy 2.4GHz band and the modern 5GHz band. Most wireless routers which are “dual band” provide backwards compatibility to support devices that are not compatible with the 5GHz band. However, although the 5GHz is the latest Wi-Fi band, John explained how the new band may not be better. For example, the 2.4GHz band is able to provide a signal which has a greater range and greater ability to penetrate solid objects than the 5GHz band. However, the 5GHz band will provide a significantly greater speed if you can accept a shorter operating distance. Additionally, the 5GHz band provides up to 23 consumer channels compared to the 11 available on the 2.4GHz band. The expanded number of channels on the 5GHz band is a significant improvement for areas where Wi-Fi congestion is common, allowing devices to have a higher probability of using a dedicated channel. In the end, the user must make the ultimate decision of which band to use, based on their environment and device requirements.

Wi-Fi performance can be directly affected by a number of variables related to which Wi-Fi channel is used. Interference from other devices, for example, can greatly reduce the performance of your Wi-Fi. Additionally, cross-talk between channels (when radio frequencies overlap) can cause serious performance hits. This brings up a fairly controversial question: which channel is the best? Several people argue that channels 1, 6, and 11 of the 2.4GHz band are the best channels, given that they are well spread apart, causing little to no crosstalk. However, John felt that this may not always be the case. Going back to issues with interference, it is next to impossible to guarantee that any one channel will always be the best. At any given point in time, a device can unexpectedly interfere with a channel which you have statically chosen. Therefore, the router should be set to automatically determine the best channel.

While the channel which is chosen may have no effect on Wi-Fi performance, the number of devices connected will do so. This is due to the fact that devices that utilize the same access point will share the same channel. Therefore, if all other channels are not being used by another device, the channel used by the wireless router will have no effect on performance. In this case, the number of devices connected at any given point in time will affect the performance of the Wi-Fi network. This is because each device must wait for its turn to communicate with the router, effectively sharing the same channel.

John brought to our attention a major security flaw in the Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) standard. The WPS standard allows end users to easily and seamlessly connect their wireless devices to an access point or wireless router. Generally, the user invokes the WPS service by requesting it on their device and pressing the WPS button on their wireless router. In addition to pressing the setup button, many routers have the capability to require a Personal Identification Number (PIN) as part of the WPS service. Of course this seems like a good idea. However, John made the important point that introduction of this PIN completely undermines the security authentication of even Wi-Fi Protected Access II (WPA2) security provided by a wireless router. An attacker can easily utilize a brute force attack method to guess the PIN of the WPS service and gain access to the network. In particular, the PIN is flawed in that only the first four digits must be guessed while the last four are calculated, significantly reducing the possible number of PIN numbers. Not to mention that many routers do not timeout if an incorrect PIN is provided, allowing the PIN to be guessed quickly. John recommended that this vulnerability can be eliminated by disabling the PIN option of a router which supports WPS.

WPS Pin Setting in AT&T/Frontier Wireless Router Network Settings

Finally, users should be aware of the security implications of utilizing public networks. Commonly, people take advantage of free Wi-Fi available at places like coffee shops. Therein lies an issue; any unprotected network which end users connect to provides attackers with a unique opportunity to steal data. The user should be aware of their environment and choose the appropriate firewall settings. Microsoft Windows, for example, will ask the user to provide what type of network they are connected to: Home, Work, or Public, Public being the most secure of all the settings. In addition, users should be self-aware of what data they access through the network they are connected to. For example, if a website contains sensitive information, the user should only utilize that service over a secure connection such as Hyper-Text Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) with a trusted Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) Certificate. Otherwise, hackers could use packet sniffing tools or even eavesdrop on the Wi-Fi channel you are using to take data being transmitted.

In my personal opinion, John’s presentation was clear but also comprehensive. I am surprised that I learned so much about a topic in which I felt I was already knowledgeable. John was able to keep the audience engaged by providing opportunities for discussion across each topic he explained in detail. The one concept to take home from John’s presentation was to realize that anyone and everyone is a target of malicious hackers. While you may believe that you have nothing to hide, this is the exact frame of mind which hackers tend to target; protect your data to protect yourself.




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