Staples probes potential theft of customer credit card data4

From the Cnet.com Article by    

A pattern of payment card fraud suggests that data was stolen from cash registers in the Northeast US, security reporter Brian Krebs reports.

Staples said late Monday that it is investigating a “potential issue” involving its customers’ credit card data in what could be the latest US retailer to fall victim to a payment card system security breach.

The office supply chain announced it was working with law enforcement officials after security reporter Brian Krebs reported that “multiple banks” had identified patterns of payment card fraud that suggested data had been stolen from several locations in the Northeastern US. The pattern suggests that Staples cash registers in a handful of locations were infected with data-stealing malware similar to that used in other security breaches that allows thieves to create counterfeit cards, Krebs wrote.

“We take the protection of customer information very seriously, and are working to resolve the situation,” Mark Cautela told Krebs. “If Staples discovers an issue, it is important to note that customers are not responsible for any fraudulent activity on their credit cards that is reported on [in] a timely basis.”

Staples did not immediately respond to a request for additional comment.

It wasn’t immediately clear how many customers may be affected. The Framingham, Mass.-based chain has more than 1,800 stores nationwide, but Krebs said that it appears the theft is limited to a small subset of stores.

Data-stealing malware has become a popular tool of fraudsters in recent months. Home Depot revealed last month that 56 million customer credit cards were put at risk of theft as a result of a security breach that used custom-built malware to evade detection. A similar method was used late last year to expose the credit card data of 40 million Target customers and the personal information for an additional 70 million customers.

Since the Target hack, there has been an apparent uptick in security breaches at retail locations. Over the past few months, arts and crafts retail chain Michaels Stores, department store Neiman Marcus, and restaurant chain P.F. Chang’s all revealed they were victims of security breaches aimed at stealing customers’ credit card information.

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Microsoft reportedly ready to launch smartwatch in weeks

From the Cnet.com Article  ‘Microsoft reportedly ready to launch smartwatch in weeks’ by Seven Musil  ()

The device will sport a health-tracking features and work with multiple mobile platforms, Forbes reports.

Microsoft feels the time is right to enter the smartwatch sector, according to a Forbes report.

The tech giant is expected to launch a smartwatch in the next couple of weeks that will have health-tracking capabilities, including a heart-rate monitor, according to the report, which cited unidentified sources.

The device will reportedly be capable of syncing with devices running several mobile platforms, such as Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating systems, and last more than two days with regular use. The gadget is expected to be available to consumers by the end of the year, in time for the holiday shopping season.

Microsoft has been linked to current smartwatch efforts as far back as April 2013, when the company was reportedly shopping around suppliers in Asia for components to build a potential touch-enabled watch device. Reports earlier this year indicated that the device would physically resemble Samsung’s Gear Fit with a full-color touch screen viewable on the inside of your wrist.

Microsoft has dabbled in the sector before, marketing devices running its once-hyped Smart Personal Objects Technology (SPOT). After pouring a lot of money into the effort and partnering with watchmakers such as Fossil, Suunto, and Swatch on high-end, touch-screen models that cost as much as $800, Microsoft pulled the stem out of the project in 2008.

Wearable devices such as smartwatches and smart glasses have commanded a great deal of consumers’ attention and manufacturers’ imagination in recent months. To differentiate their products from competitors, electronics makers have strived to create devices with varying options. While many smartwatches sport square faces reminiscent of digital watches of the 1970s, Motorola and LG have opted for traditional circular watch faces for greater fashion appeal.

But Microsoft seems to be focused on one of the key selling points that other players in the crowded smartwatch arena have already seized upon: health. Samsung’s Gear S — its sixth smartwatch launch in the past year — was unveiled in August and includes a heart rate monitor, pedometer, and sleep tracking.

Meanwhile, Samsung rival Apple unveiled the highly anticipated and much-speculated Watch last month. The new smartwatch taps into apps that can track heart rate, calories burned, activity level and certain fitness activities. It also works with other fitness apps, such as Nike+.

Microsoft did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report.

 

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Twitter sues US government over user data-request gag rules

Social network says current government restrictions on transparency are preventing tech companies from being fully honest with the public.

From the cnet.com article by Seth Rosenblatt ( @sethr)

Twitter is suing the US government in federal court to loosen restrictions that prevent full disclosure of government demands for Twitter user data.

The suit, filed by the San Francisco-based social networking company in the US District Court of Northern California, says that US government prohibitions on sharing the nature of some of its demands for Twitter user data violate the First Amendment’s free speech clause (PDF). Twitter legal counsel Ben Lee said in a blog post that the firm believes that current government restrictions on transparency are preventing tech companies from being fully honest with the public.

“It’s our belief that we are entitled under the First Amendment to respond to our users’ concerns and to the statements of US government officials by providing information about the scope of US government surveillance — including what types of legal process have not been received,” Lee said. “We should be free to do this in a meaningful way, rather than in broad, inexact ranges.”

Lee said that currently government restrictions “prohibit and even criminalize” the company from discussing the mere number of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and National Security Letter court orders its received — “even if that number is zero.” FISA and NSL court orders for user data play a key role in the government’s surveillance apparatus, as revealed in documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Before Snowden’s leaks to the media, most if not all companies couldn’t disclose that they’d received those court orders in the first place. Currently, Twitter and other tech firms can only disclose to the nearest thousand how many orders its has received.

Lee said that Twitter submitted a draft of its most recent Transparency Report to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice in an attempt to negotiate a deal without resorting to the courts. After “months of discussions,” however, the government refused to budge, he said.

The breakdown in talks appears to contradict a promise by President Obama that tech firms would be given a freer hand to report on government requests.

The Department of Justice did not return a request for comment.

The American Civil Liberties Union applauded Twitter’s lawsuit and encouraged other tech firms to follow suit.

“The Constitution doesn’t permit the government to impose so broad a prohibition on the publication of truthful speech about government conduct,” said ACLU deputy legal director Jameel Jaffer in a statement. “Technology companies have an obligation to protect their customers’ sensitive information against overbroad government surveillance, and to be candid with their customers about how their information is being used and shared.”

 

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The ALS Icebucket Challenge, What is it?

So by now you have seen a million ice bucket challenge videos show up on your social media feed and it seems like a gimmick to self promote but it has raised a lot of money for the ALS Association. As of Today, 8/19/2014, the Ice Bucket Challenge has helped the ALS Association raise a whopping $22.9 million dollars in donations in less than three months compared to this same period last years’ $1.9 million dollar. Due in large part to the Ice Bucket Challenge there have been 453,210 new donors to the ALS Association.

There are some fun videos out there for the Ice Bucket Challenge from Celebrities like:
Bill Gates – Founder of Microsoft – Watch It Here
Chris Pratt – Actor: Andy (Parks and Rec)/Starlord (Guardians of the Galaxy) Watch It Here
Ben Stiller/Christine Taylor – Actor (Night at the Museum Series)/Actress (Zoolander) Watch It Here
Jeff Bezos – Founder of Amazon – Watch It Here
Dwyane “The Rock” Johnson – Actor (Fast and Furious series) Watch it Here
Plus many more including: Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, Robert Downey Jr, and Chris Hemsworth.
Now that you’ve seen the videos, you may be wondering what is ALS and why are so many people dumping ice on their heads. Also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed.
For more information visit the ALS Information Page HERE.

If you’d like to make a donation to help with ALS research goe to asla.org and click the Big Red Donate Button or Click HERE

 

Storms On The Horizon? Better Have A Surge Protector.

When storms are brewing are you protected? If your using a power strip the answer is NO unless you have a true surge protector. Not sure, look for the following on the package:
1) Joule Rating : Protectors will have a Joule rating protection showing its protection level.
2) Warranty : Protectors will warrant your products up to a given amount.
3) Outlets : More is better with protectors so opt for an 8 outlet unit even if you have 4 devices.
4) Coax and Phone Lines : Find an protector with built in Coax and Phone/Network ports to help prevent juice from coming in from outside.
5) Replacing The Unit : After a major strike like lightning replace the protector ASAP. Non-event replacements should be considered every 2-3 years

 

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Back To School? Break Out Your Wallet.

So if you have little ones, or not-so-little ones, you know that Fall semester is just around the corner and its time to get shopping. So we’d like to help you save a little money on the tech side of things. Here are our top 4 picks for deals for students:

1) Apple : Save up to $200 plus get a $100 app store gift card with your purchase. for more info go to the Apple for Education Online Store  or visit your local campus bookstore.
2) Dell : The folks over at dell have a deal for you at Dell University. Buy any Dell PC 699.99 or more and get a free Dell Tablet. Check out Dell University offers HERE .
3) Adobe : Want to save up to 60% off on Adobe products? Sign up at the Adobe Education Store.
4) Amazon : Get 6 months of Amazon Prime free and all you need is a .edu email address to signup.

 

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Google Fiber Is Coming to Overland Park

Gigabit Speeds for Overland Park Are Now A Reality

In case you hadn’t heard, Monday of last week, talks between Google and the City of Overland Park went from sour grapes to sweet nectar for OP residents as an agreement was made to bring the high speed Google Fiber to the area. It is only in the planning phase but this could be huge.

So what does this mean for the residents of Overland Park? How about blazing fast speeds for around the same price as the underpowered packages being offered by Comcast, TWC, and AT&T. For $70 a month subscribers can opt for gigabit high speed internet or can get up to 5mb free for up to 7 years with a deposit of $30-$300 (depending on area).

With speeds that fast you can now purchase and download an entire album in less than 10 seconds and a full length HD film in less than 3 minutes. Now to be upfront and honest Google can only provide gigabit speed over it’s own network so expect a drop in speeds but speeds will still be well over what you may be used to already. Watch out for Sign Up Dates!

Now would be a great time to have your computer cleaned and repaired in preparation for blazing fast speeds.

 

 

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Cloud Versus Local

Cloud VS Local : Who’s The Best Bang for the Buck?

If you recently had to use our computer repair service here in Overland Park then you know the importance of data backup. Recently PC World magazine posted a cloud based storage versus local storage head to head on their site HERE and this is what they found.

  • In the category of the “mini” backup (20gb or less data), cloud storage takes this category hands down as many companies like Dropbox (2gb+) or ADrive (50gb) offer free storage.
  • In the basic backup (20gb-100gb) cloud storage once again took the win, offering low cost storage plans for an awkward sized amount of data.
  • In the standard backup (100-500gb)local external drives took the win. With data in cloud being roughly 42 cents per GB per year versus a local drive being 41 cents over the live of the drive, local takes it hands down.

The key to data backup is the 3 R’s: Redundancy, Redundancy, Redundancy. If you have the money invest in both technologies, this will help keep your data safer than just one technology.

 

 

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DSL Speeds Are Not Quite What Your ISP Advertised

DSL Internet Speeds Are Not Quite What Your ISP Advertised

The FCC completed its 4th annual report on broadband speeds and not everyone came out smelling like a rose, specifically 4 DSL providers : Verizon (FiOS), Century Link, Frontier, and Windstream were well under their advertised speeds according to the report found HERE. Based on comparative speeds between Fiber and Coax based broadband internet, DSL can’t compete contrary to what Comcast’s David Cohen may have tried to tell the Senate Judiciary Committee. If your a DSL customer and you don’t think your getting your advertised speeds then head over to Speedtest.net, run a test, and see what your real speeds are.

If speeds look good but your network is still running behind give us a call at 913-219-1895 and we can take a look at your Network Setup.

Check out the original article by Adam Clarke Estes at Gizmodo.com HERE

 

A Few Tips to get more from Siri

Siri Tips and Tricks

1. Siri understands grammar so feel free to use. An example would be when sending a text try something like this, “Hey John *comma* how was the game last night *question mark* *smiley face*.  The text should then read out as “Hey John, how as the game last night? :-)

2. Teach Siri how to correctly say things by correcting her verbally. “That’s not how you pronounce Phillipe” and from their Siri will take you through changing the pronounication in the future.

3. Siri doubles as an alarm clock too. Just tell her to “Set my alarm for (insert time here)” and Siri will try and wake you up.

4. Use Siri as a day planner, she can handle all the information, just tell her to schedule a calendar event with the time, date, and location.

The above tips are just a few we picked from the fine folks of CNET. Be sure to show them some love and visit their page to see the wonderful accompanying pictures that go with the above tips. CNET.COM