Newsletter Archives

  • Is online banking secure?


    Susan Bradley

    By Susan Bradley

    Over the past few years, banks have been increasing their online footprint.

    From mobile banking with cell phones to remote depositing with check scanners, banking has drastically changed. Some of the changes are forced on us due to the changing hours of operation at our local banks, but some of the changes enhance our ability to get our funds where we want them to be.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.22.0, 2023-05-29).

  • Are you ready for AI?

    The Microsoft BUILD conference is over and they will be adding AI to well…. everything.  As usual while Microsoft will be … well Microsoft. We’ll be ensuring that we can tame and make the technology what you want it to be.

    If you don’t want AI in Edge now, you can start with the basics such as blocking the request to change the default browser to Edge and the default search engine to Bing. This setting as noted in Edge policies can be set via group policy or Intune. Additional settings include to block the Bing Chat AI from the Windows 11 search. To disable Bing Chat AI from the Search field on the taskbar press the Windows key and open Settings, or use the Windows key + I shortcut to open it directly. Now click Privacy & security from the left panel scroll down to the Windows permissions section and click on Search permissions from the list. Scroll down to the More settings section and toggle off the Show search highlights option. The Bing Chat AI icon will no longer appear in the search field.

    For those that use group policy there is a new Group Policy setting to disable the bing chat icon, and this setting was added with Windows 11 21H2 administrative templates. You must download the ADMX Templates for Windows 11 October 2021 Update [21H2] from the Official Microsoft Download Center. You’ll want to copy the files from from C:\Windows\PolicyDefinitions on a Windows 11 computer to your central policy store.  Navigate to Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Windows Component\Chat. Find “Configures the Chat icon on the taskbar“.

    Bottom line, don’t worry, we’ll keep you aware of all the tips and tricks to tame your operating system so it won’t go “I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.” Stay tuned. we’re have more in the newsletter as Microsoft showcases the changes. Previews will be coming in June.

    I’d also like to wish everyone in the United States a great Memorial Day holiday.  To everyone who has served, thank you.

  • Is Secure Boot important for security?


    Susan Bradley

    By Susan Bradley

    During the last few months, some chinks have appeared in Secure Boot’s armor as the result of various attacks and vulnerabilities.

    Let’s go back in history and understand how we got here.

    When a computer boots up, and before the operating system is launched, other code runs. For many years, that was the Basic Input/Output System (BIOS) pioneered by IBM in the original IBM PC. Unfortunately, inventive attackers found ways to permanently install malicious code as part of this launch sequence.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.21.0, 2023-05-22).

  • What is your favorite home consumer tech thing?

    What’s your favorite technology thing that you use at home? I’ll start with mine. A kindle. But only for books, not for gardening magazines. One can get a book sized kindle which can also hook into your email so you can send email from it. I typically purchase two at a time so that I can be charging one while I’m reading the other.

    So what is YOUR favorite technology thing that you use strictly for personal use and not for business?

  • Apple security updates for May

    Apple security updates out…

    💻 macOS Ventura 13.4 – 51 bugs fixed
    📱 iOS and iPadOS 16.5 – 39 bugs fixed
    ⌚ watchOS 9.5 – 32 bugs fixed
    💻 macOS Monterey 12.6.6 – 29 bugs fixed
    📺 tvOS 16.5 – 28 bugs fixed
    💻 macOS Big Sur 11.7.7 – 25 bugs fixed
    📱 iOS and iPadOS 15.7.6 – 17 bugs fixed
    🌐 Safari 16.5 – 5 bugs fixed

    Three zero days fixed in this batch

  • May’s messy updates


    Susan Bradley

    By Susan Bradley

    Although the May releases for both Windows and Apple have not introduced side effects or hiccups so far, they haven’t been as problem-free as they should have been.

    Apple released the first of its “rapid response” updates, announced last June and supposedly allowing the company to deploy important security-only software updates without demanding a reboot.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.20.0, 2023-05-15).

  • Master Patch List as of May 9, 2023

    I’ve updated the Master Patch list for the May releases.

    Remember to always review the known issues we are tracking on the Master Patch List. I will keep the latest info there.

    So far trending issues are:

    Business patchers – In order to fully patch systems for potential UEFI/Secure Boot there are a series of manual steps. I am NOT convinced that this is needed for anyone other than targeted nation state organizations. I’ll have exact instructions and a video should you want more information.

    I am recommending at this time that you install Apple updates, I’m not recommending Windows updates at this time. I’ll have more details in the newsletter on Monday.

    • Windows 11 22H2: Not recommended
    • Windows 11 21H2: If you have a Windows 11 PC, recommended
    • Windows 10 22H2: Recommended
    • Windows 10 21H2: Recommended (if a vendor won’t support 22H2)
    • Apple Ventura – Recommended for newer hardware – as always check with the applications you rely on if they recommend this release.

    As always, thank you all for supporting the cause! Remember a donation will give you access and if you donate $50 or more you’ll get a special code to enable text messages sent to your phone each time the Master Patch List gets updated and when I change the MS-DEFCON level

  • It’s May updating time!

    It’s that time of the month that I’ll urge you to pause your updates on your Windows platforms, but review any pending updates on your Apple platforms.  Recently Apple’s “Rapid response” patches weren’t quite as “rapid” as we would all like.  In fact on my iPhone iOS 16.4.1 is still pending even though I have auto updates enabled.

    I’ll be discussing what SHOULD have occurred in Sunday’s newsletter.  In the meantime, let’s keep an eye out for this month’s Windows releases:

    49 vulnerabilities if the count here is correct

    Windows 11 22H2 has a new toggle button

    • New! This update adds a new toggle control on the Settings > Windows Update page. When you turn it on, we will prioritize your device to get the latest non-security updates and enhancements when they are available for your device. For managed devices, the toggle is disabled by default. For more information, see Get Windows updates as soon as they’re available for your device.

    As well as fixing issues in both Windows 11 22H2 and 21H2 as well as Windows 10  in the newly released Windows Local Administrator Password Solution

    • This update addresses a race condition in Windows Local Administrator Password Solution (LAPS). The Local Security Authority Subsystem Service (LSASS) might stop responding. This occurs when the system processes multiple local account operations at the same time. The access violation error code is 0xc0000005.

    Remember if you aren’t on Windows 10 22H2 at this time, I’ll want you to move to 22H2 as June 13, 2023 is the last time Windows 10 home and Pro 21H2 get updates. Windows 10 Enterprise and Education, Windows 10 IoT Enterprise, and Windows 10 Enterprise multi-session will still be serviced (apologies had that backwards). 20H2 is now fully out of support.

    Ugh.  There is a secure boot vulnerability that is being “fixed” with code in the May updates, but not fully implemented.  Because you need PHYSICAL access or administrative rights to install code, this is yet another of those updates that will need to be “risk” rated for additional action.  I’ll go into this more in the newsletter.

  • Planning for the final digital divide


    Susan Bradley

    By Susan Bradley

    In a letter to Jean-Baptiste Le Roy in 1789, Benjamin Franklin wrote a phrase that has often been repeated ever since.

    Most of us don’t realize that his comment started with a mention of the recently signed U.S. Constitution, but instead remember only the final part of his saying.

    Read the full story in our Plus Newsletter (20.19.0, 2023-05-08).

  • Can you STILL do a Windows 11?

    Can you still do a Windows 11 without a Microsoft account with Windows 11 22H2?

    Yes. Absolutely.  When you get to the spot where it wants you to have a Microsoft account just put in and any password.  It then says “oops” and will let you set up an account even without a password if you like.

    The trick STILL works.

  • Windows 10 22H2 – the stable version

    Well Microsoft has made it official, 22H2 will be the last feature release for Windows 10.

    This is a good thing. 10 is now entering into the “most stable” version mode of it’s lifecycle.

    And Jason, dahling, sweetie, honey. While you’ve once again stated that October of 2025 is the drop dead date of support for Windows 10 and we should be migrating to Windows 11, the reality is that businesses and consumers will both need an extended support period because the hardware “tax” you’ve imposed means that it will take time and budget to get all hardware to the point that it will support Windows 11.

    Someone the other day said “isn’t there a Windows 12 announced” to which I said… well Microsoft hasn’t really announced anything and tech writers are speculating.  I always hate that part of the tech news churn.  Don’t give me what you are guessing at, give me facts. Right now the facts are 10 is fully supported until 2025 and is still the dominant operating system.

  • MS-DEFCON 4: Major April issue, but not from updates

    alert banner

    ISSUE 20.17.1 • 2023-04-25

    By Susan Bradley

    I’m ready to approve the April updates.

    Accordingly, I’ve lowered the MS-DEFCON level to 4. This is not to say there are not a few oddities out there, but they will not affect many users.

    Most of the unusual behavior in updates this month is due to slow changes that will lead to future enforcement changes.

    Microsoft has also pushed off the implementation of the mandatory, number-based, multifactor authentication for Microsoft 365 applications.

    Anyone can read the full MS-DEFCON Alert (20.17.1, 2023-04-25).