Category Archives: Computing

Is your ISP really to blame for your slow connection ?

Blaming your ISP for your slow connection is the easy way out , but in most cases its something else , either someone in the house is using up all the bandwidth by downloading torrents or its windows downloading updates. We are going to break down what are some common issues and fixes for slow internet speeds.

Give that old router a good old hard reboot

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Try rebooting your router by switching it on and off , check that your routers cabling is intact since bent cables can wreak havoc on your internet speed.

Test your speed

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Use sites like Speedtest to check that you are getting what you pay for . For example if you are paying for 10mpbs / 2mbps and are getting lower than that its time to start looking into things .

Configure you WIFI

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When every one sets up a wifi router the forget that it is prone to interference by other devices especially on the 2.4ghz range . What we can do is either change our signal to 5ghz which is much less prone to interference but less devices can use it or try changing the channel which our signal is broadcast . The best way to test which channels are used the most is by using android apps like WifiAnalyzer which can show you the most populated channels .

Enable QOS(Quality Of Service)

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Some routers have QOS function which monitors network traffic and prioritizes it to services which require more bandwidth such us VOIP which uses the UDP protocol. UDP does not use a handshake protocol there for its prone to unreliability when not enough bandwidth is allocated which can cause jitters and pixelation .

Turn off unnecessary applications

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Most off the time internet speeds suffer when the user has lots of applications running that use up bandwidth on the network for example you don’t have to have Steam , Skype and Origin running all the time if you are not going to play a game or call someone . These applications will check constantly for updates and will download them automatically causing network speed degradation.

Consider using Opera

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Opera is a web browser with build in features to deal with slow internet connections by compressing web pages  so less data in downloaded and web pages can be displayed faster . Its easy to set up with just a click of a button.

Call your ISP

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If all else fails call your ISP and see if they can resolve the issue for you .  Sometimes it might be that the area you live in is not well covered by your ISP or there is a malfunction with one of the ISP service lines , calling to confirm this is not a bad idea.

 

 

Zomato Hacked With 17 Million User Records Stolen

Time to change your passwords again !

Zomato was attacked by hackers compromising 17 million users accounts . The Zomato team had this to say :

The reason you’re reading this blog post is because of a recent discovery by our security team – about 17 million user records from our database were stolen. The stolen information has user email addresses and hashed passwords.

We hash passwords with a one-way hashing algorithm, with multiple hashing iterations and individual salt per password. This means your password cannot be easily converted back to plain text. We however, strongly advise you to change your password for any other services where you are using the same password.

Zomato has alot of work to do

According to the Zomato team “6.6 million users had password hashes in the ‘leaked’ data, which can be theoretically decrypted using brute force algorithms.”  The Zomato team managed to contact the team of hackers and the data has been pulled off the deep web , this incident is being presented as something along the lines of a teachable moment .  Zomato had this to say :

The hacker has been very cooperative with us. He/she wanted us to acknowledge security vulnerabilities in our system and work with the ethical hacker community to plug the gaps. His/her key request was that we run a healthy bug bounty program for security researchers.

We are introducing a bug bounty program on Hackerone very soon. With that assurance, the hacker has in turn agreed to destroy all copies of the stolen data and take the data off the dark web marketplace. The marketplace link which was being used to sell the data on the dark web is no longer available.

Zomato is now trying to increase their security measures to avoid these kind of attacks in the feature .  Lets hope they make the correct choices and this never happens again.

How to Protect Yourself From Ransomware

The Big Issue: Ransomware

With the wanna cry ransomware outbreak this week and many people vulnerable to the attack  many people are very paranoid in using their computer fearing they might get infected as well. Not to worry though here are some steps you can take in order to protect yourself:

Step 1: Install Anti-Virus / Anti-Malware

Ransomware

Install a good anti-virus and anti malware  software on you computer . You don’t have to break the bank to have a good anti-virus and anti – malware software there are many out there that are free to use such as Sophos home and Malware bytes . Having one install can mostly likely stop the virus or block before it runs but that all depends on the virus off coarse . Both Sophos and Malware byte integrate with your browser and filter the web-pages blocking any websites that might contain viruses or malicious javascript  .

Step 2 :  Stop Clicking Suspicious links

Stop opening suspicious links  or attachment sent to you by email or instant messages . Think about for a bit do you really order something from UPS/DHL etc that they need you to check it out via email ? Hackers are sending these emails that try to convince users to open suspicious attachments that contain the virus . Don’t be stupid think twice before opening any email attachment especially if its from some random person you don’t even know .

Step 3 : Upgrade your system

Install the latest updates for your system and consider upgrading your system . Most of the users affected by the Wannacry ransomware are people using outdated operating systems such as windows XP and windows 7 which Microsoft has stopped rolling out updates a while ago . Since the attack Microsoft was forced to release patches for the Operating Systems to stop the virus from spreading . Its quite logical that many companies might still use older operating systems because of driver issues with older hardware which still work and there is no need to change them , if that is the case then proper network security should take place that will prevent a virus from spreading if the older system does manage to be infected.

Step 4 : Switch to Linux

I can not stress how much more secure Linux is and how stable it is . Sure there are viruses out there for Linux and Mac but they are much less in comparison to Windows Os and for good reason , since the user base is much smaller . Linux might not be for everyone but there is a Linux Distribution out there that can fit the needs of any individual be it playing games, composing music , running a server etc.

 

 

Virtual make up is it a going to catch on ?

What if you could just use your phones front facing camera to view your facing in different makeup styles , brands and colours and making it easier for you to pick the type of make up you want ? With just a press of a button you could just order it online and have it delivered to your door step in just a few days .

Look no further there’s an app for that! Sephora’s new app lets you do exactly that. Its currently available on IOS in the app store . At the moment , you can only play with lip colors, eye shadows, and false lash styles. If you like the look, well, you can purchase. Convenient! The app also offers “virtual tutorials” that show you how to contour, apply highlighter, and create winged eyeliner. It overlays the tutorial on your face.

Make up , Foundation

Even though this is convenient will women really trust the app instead of actually trying it on themselves ? Many people still preffer trying things hands on to get a better feel of the ingredients used and how their skin reacts to the make up . For example maybe the foundation or lipstick will cause them a form of swelling because they are allergic to some ingredient in the product that they might not even know if they are allergic to them .

In conclusion we can see that the technology is progressing in all sectors and we should embrace change and contribute into making our lives more convenient with out the hustle and bustle of going from one place to an other.

Prices stay low on the faster RX500 cards

Last year AMD brought us the RX400 series of cards which where powerful but cost effective cards more focused for more bugged friendly prices . With AMD’s new RYZEN cpu how ever they have started becoming more and more competitive to Intel CPU market . But will its release of the RX500 also yield a greater impact in the graphics department ? .

AMD’s RX500 series of cards come at a lower price than its predecessors but will a small performance boost . Although they might not be a big leap in performance it might be a good investment in those looking for a budget friendly card that can go hand in hand with NVIDIA’s Gtx1060

In addition to those three cards, AMD is also introducing a new low-cost option, the RX550. The RX550 has an 1183MHz boost speed and 2GB of RAM. But its starting price is only $79, and AMD hopes it’ll entice people to pick it up instead of using an integrated graphics solution.

Canonical sharpens post-Unity axe for 80-plus Ubuntu spinners

With Canonicals decision to end its development for the Unity desktop environment , which has been the standard environment for Ubuntu , it has seen many changes as a company in the last couple of days. Founder Mark Shuttleworth has taken back his position as CEO of Canonical making many employees leave the Linux Distro powerhouse any many more leaving On formal notice.
The Canonical creator is cutting figures after an exterior evaluation of his company by potential new financial backers found overstaffing and tasks that lacked emphasis.Tasks have been sliced because of this restructuring, notably the long-promised but never realised Unity 8 convergence project for device and desktop.

Some personnel were bid an instantaneous goodbye without forewarning.It is also claimed inner “town hall” meeting calls were organised with other personnel, alerting them of the looming slashes before El Reg broke the news to the entire world.

A spokesperson for Canonical informed “The Register” these layoffs are being conducted in a different ways around the world because the business operates in a variety of territories with different “regulatory requirements”. They recognized that this is creating doubt for employees.

Network Communication protocols

These technologies to work need internet protocols to allow them to send data through out the internet . These technologies are :

  • Peer to Peer : this protocol makes the clients that want the data into “servers” . This splits up the data to different computers and you give and take data as you are connected . Unlike other protocols which degrade with more users peer to peer increases performance as more users join in, but suffers from “leechers” that only download the files but never upload back causing a degradation in performance.

  • TCP/IP : is a protocol that consists of a Client and a Server . This means that most of the time your download speed is only limited by your Isp and the amount of people connected to the server . It is the most stable of protocols but degrades in performance as more and more users connect to it .

  • UDP : User Datagram Protocol is a protocol which is much faster than TCP/IP and has less latency than other protocols it is used for things likes VOIP and online games that need a fast connection. Although UDP is fast is easily prone to interference and will continue sending packets even if a packet is lost .

Documenting, testing, reviewing and analyzing your virtual infrastructure.

When we analyze our system we must keep a log of the data as time progresses we can review and compare how our system has performed over time and determine what software and services are the most intensive and what can we do to improve them. For example keeping a log for each virtual machines CPU / Memory usage over time can indicate when the machine has had an issue, can help us find the any vulnerabilities in the system and can also give us an indication if the system has been infected with a virus and has not been detected by the anti-virus.

Viruses like worms hog up system resources and spread through the network infecting more more system as they go on. If we see a sudden spike in the system using too much resources it will be a cause for concern . Viruses can spread from vm to host (although it is very difficult ) it is possible that they can spread since they use the same hardware resources. Most importantly software developers should be aware of these vulnerabilities and make sure that visualization software and software on the virtual machines is properly virtualiazed.

Using spread-sheet software we can create charts and visual representations of how virtual machines have performance over time and in addition create a list with all the vulnerabilities found in the systems over time. This allows to view the data in an easy to read way and acknowledge what how safe our virtualized solution is from threats . Keeping logs is very important for reviewing any problems that happened over time .

Software we can use to create a better analysis is one like ELKI which can be used to create also future prediction of the possible usage and more. We must plan and adapt to ever changing hardware requirements be continuously upgrading software and hardware to meet standards that are set by the company in order to function correctly.

To build  a stable infrastructure we need feedback and lots of times to fix any issues regarding it. To collect feedback from customers we can ask them to complete a questionnaire regarding the system every end of month. We can then use that data  in the forms of graphs and charts to allow us to see any improvements regarding the system . Also we can review any issues the users might have with the infrastructure and also prioritize any common issues that arise .

         Meetings can be setup to inform the IT staff each month of the findings and allow the staff to discuss any issues that have risen in the last month from their point of view . For example if end users and having a difficult time accessing certain services , if bandwidth is not enough for the users to use voip and other network services simultaneously . This can be solved by integrating QOS (Quility of Service ) allowing us to configure which services have priority over others . In most cases using QOS will eliminate most bandwidth issues when using a decent connection .

            Using the data collected we can can test any changes we would like to make to the system in a virtualised environment, so that if any thing goes wrong we can just roll back to a previous snapshot in just a matter of minuets . If one of the virtual machines has a virus we can be assured that it cannot spread to the host machine allowing us to safely deal with the virus in the vm with out affecting the host system .

            On every operating system there are built in tools to monitor the performance of the system which display data in a visual way which allow for easy monitoring of the system. Performance monitor in windows gives use the option to display data on almost anything on the system . We can set it up to create a log file every so often and give us an analysis on the data gathered .

            We can also monitor Linux systems with a program called ajenti which gives us a web interface of the Linux system allowing to see system information such as disk space , processor usage , disk usage , free ram space , swap file and much more . It will also keep logs of any event that happens on the system  and even allowing us to use the terminal remotely.

            Even though visualization is a revolutionary step in forward in technology we cannot virtualize everything . For example even thought  developers can develop in  virtual environments they can virtualize specific hardware like graphics cards . Games for example cannot be run in a machine since they need the drivers necessary to work . Code will

Monitoring VM solutions

When monitoring our Virtual solution we have many different options to choose from one of the leading tools on the market “Nessus”. Nessus is a tool used to monitor , patch and find security vulnerabilities in our vm solutions . It is continuously monitors the virtual machines , as stated on their web site Nessus can log in and pull information from VMs, such as active and inactive VMs on the host. This information is useful to continually audit your virtualized environment, and acting on it can help prevent VM sprawl”. This gives us an easy way of monitoring our solution since most of the hard work is done by the software. Also in extension we can use the software to Identify misconfiguration on the guest operating system, hyper visor, and applications running on the virtual images. It will Audit configuration against compliance standards or custom requirements.

Also other proprietary software for network monitoring can help us determine if Virtual machines are using too much bandwidth and causing instability in our network . One other piece of software to help us is “PRTG Network Monitor”. It screens system availability utilizing an assortment of strategies from straightforward ping through SNMP and WMI conventions to particular errands, for example, HTTP, DNS, and Remote Desktop accessibility utilizing different sensors. Utilizing particular sensors for particular machines, a manager can screen be told right away of issues. Additionally, PRTG accompanies some transfer speed checking sensors, so you can guarantee that malware intended to do DoS and other over-burden exercises are not working on your system.

Also we can use penetration testing specific operating systems like kali linux which is full of tools that can be used to “hack” into our system and find any vulnerabilities . For example we can use a tool in the linux terminal called nmap which allows us to find all open ports on our virtual machine then by exploiting open ports we can begin to try to infiltrate into our operating systems with other tools . We can try to exploit web server vulnerabilities using XSS or cross – scripting to run malicious code on the web server to do so we will have to use sql injection to inject sql commands through the webserver by accessing the website and deploying our code. Any users that view the code could them be infected. In this way we can find vulnerabilities and fix them at the same time this allows us to view the issues first hand but requires a knowledge of using the tools and the use of multiple programing languages .

Maintenance on virtualised solutions

To maintain a visualized solution we must focus on three aspects speed, stability, and security. Visualization offers many benefits such as isolation, live migration and intrusion detection. We can easily perform maintenance on a virtual machine by creating a snapshot of it when it is first installed allowing us if mistakes are made or the virtual machine is corrupted we can recover in just a matter of minutes to the snapshot. Using live migration to seamlessly move one virtual machine to an other physical server to balance the load on the server can improve performance and reliability of the visualized solution.

There are two options when using live migration seamless live migration and Pre-copy memory migration. Pre-copy memory migration is spit into three phases : Warm up phase , stop and copy phase and post copy memory migration . Warm up phase refers to the phase where the hyper visor copies all the memory pages from the source destination while the virtual machine is still running on the source . Stop and copy phase refers to the phase where the Virtual machine will be paused copying and page files left to the destination host and the virtual machine resumes on the destination host . The larger the memory of the applications running on the VM the larger the downtime of the virtual machine but downtime is almost zero since this process takes just a few milliseconds and the end user wont even notice.

Our visualization environments need to be secure that is why each virtuliased os is isolated allowing each one to work independently without conflicting with other systems. One issue which many network administrator are aware of is the attacks from inside the network. VM patching and user permissions are a must for any network and VM. We must split virtual machines into segments and form teams of people that can access these virtual machines. For example the accounting team can only access Virtual machines that are used for accounting software but cannot access the Virtual machines that are using in fields like engineering . Vendors such as Vmware offer products for extensive privilege management and compliance . This can allow us to limit what user can and cannot do which can help strengthen the security of the virtualized environment.