Newsletter Archives

  • 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).

  • A bumpy road for January


    Susan Bradley

    By Susan Bradley

    I’m always conservative, but this month you must delay applying updates to avoid side effects. Business patchers — you face tough choices.

    We are seeing reports of various issues with this month’s updates, some of which are so extreme that patching administrators in businesses have had to remove or roll back updates. Even for consumer and home users, I suggest holding off; it’s way too soon for me to feel comfortable recommending updates.

    Read the full story in the AskWoody Plus Newsletter 19.03.0 (2022-01-17).

  • Kape Technologies, formerly Crossrider, now owns 4 top VPNs


    Brian Livingston

    By Brian Livingston

    A holding company with a controversial history — Kape Technologies — announced this month that it had purchased a leading virtual private network, ExpressVPN, adding it to a collection of three other major VPN companies that Kape acquired in 2017 through 2019.

    This concentration of VPN services has raised concerns.

    Read the full story in the AskWoody Plus Newsletter 18.37.0 (2021-09-27).

  • A VPN dissenter speaks out


    Fred Langa

    By Fred Langa

    A reader strongly disagrees with Fred’s recent recommendation about using virtual private networks (VPNs) to increase online security; that reader’s colorful letter leads off this column.

    Today’s second reader-requested topic covers battery-monitoring apps for PCs and smartphones, including the extensive (but hidden) battery health report that’s built into every copy of Windows 10.

    The third reader-requested topic looks at daisy-chaining charging devices — say, charging your phone from your laptop while the laptop itself is charging from a wall socket.

    Read the full story in the AskWoody Plus Newsletter 18.32.0 (2021-08-23).

  • An honest VPN commercial – from somebody who actually knows what he’s talking about

    Tom Scott knows whereof he speaks – and he speaks the truth, as best I know it.

    Thx Catalin Cimpanu

  • A note of caution when using proxies, VPNs or TOR to get to AskWoody

    Proxies/VPNs /Tors encrypt the data from the source to the server, but on the other end it’s not encrypted from the server to the destination. That means if you use a VPN to get to AskWoody, which is perfectly fine, the IP address we see here may be from a known-spammy (or known-aggressive) source.

    The purpose (for “normal” people) is to disguise the source to avoid tracking, but the “bad guy” use it for the same purpose.

    Consequently, the IP addresses issued by the proxies/VPNs /Tors may have a dirty history.

    Firewalls and Spam filters (both of which AskWoody has, and employs vigorously) build blacklists of the series of IP addresses used by bots, spammers and hackers for nefarious purposes.

    If the proxies/VPNs /Tors connect you to AskWoody with bad IP addresses, you can be rejected/refused connection.

    Please be sure your proxies/VPNs /Tors service provides you with “clean” IP addresses because we have no control over the blocking.

  • What is a VPN good for?

    Just got this question from reader J:

    I need some advice. With all the hacking going on around us (two members of my family received scam emails from friends or relatives whose computers were hacked), I’ve been considering signing up with a VPN service. What’s your take on these? Are they worth it? And, if so, which one would you recommend? If not, is there anything else that would help with cybersafety?

    VPNs are good for cloaking your access to web sites, but they won’t do much to help with hacked emails.
    Best thing to minimize the amount of infected email that you receive is to use a Hotmail or Gmail account. They both devote enormous resources to filtering out bad mail.
    You’re using Apple’s, which is well filtered too.
    None of them are infallible. You have to keep on your toes, and not click anything unless you know what it is, and that the person who sent you the mail knows that they sent it!