I just heard that there is a vulnerability that can force ATM machines to spit out money with just a text message. After I got past the “You’ve got to be kidding me” phase I learned more about it. Basically, the hack is true but way over sensationalized. Because of a weakness in Windows XP and the fact that after April 9 there will be no more operating system patches from Microsoft, many news outlets are, and will be trying to make headlines about security vulnerabilities. In this case, because most ATM machines are computers running on Windows XP, the ATM can be exploited. To do this, one must physically break into the cabinet of the ATM, insert a CDROM or USB stick to infect the machine with the Ploutus malware which, after you install an external keyboard allows you to crack the security. Now, you connect a cell phone to the ATM with a USB cable and close everything up. Assuming you have done ALL of this without anyone noticing, you can then send a text to the phone, which then sends a command to the ATM to spit out some cash. (watch this video
) Well, at this point you may be thinking “yeah, if only I had access to the inner workings of an ATM machine…” well, guess what – you can’t. If you have access to the inside, then just take the cash! Why bother putting in the hack…? Anyway, I guess this is just a good way to sensationalize the vulnerabilities in Windows XP now that Microsoft patches will come to the end.
The sky is falling, the sky is falling! Microsoft is ending support for Windows XP - what do I do?
To some of you this is real news, but for others we have been hearing this story for two years. Microsoft has warned us that they will end support as of April 9 hoping their users would upgrade away from XP to Windows 7, or even Windows 8 but nearly 400 million computers out there are still running Windows XP. So, if you are one of these 400 million, what should you do if you can be bothered, don’t have the time, or don’t have the funds to make the switch? Well, first of all, don’t
panic – you can still be safe if you follow a few of these safety measures:
– Back up your data! For those of you who have been reading this newsletter since it began, I have brought this up a few times in the past that a good backup strategy in general is an important part of running a business. I know many of you already have good solutions in place, but this is definitely the time to start if not. Online backups provide an off-site safe location to keep your important data should something happen with your XP system. Whatever you have, back it up if you want to keep it!
– Update your software. Make sure Windows is as up to date as possible, and the other applications are updated as well.
– Make your user account a limited user and not as administrator. A research company recently published a paper saying that 100% of the malware affecting the Windows XP operating system can be avoided by running as a standard user. This is because malware requires admin privileges to install itself on your system and running as a standard user doesn’t allow the malware to do any of the bad stuff. You need to create a new account for an administrator, and change your current account to a standard user. If you need help, there are plenty of free resources out on the Internet
, or you can just give us a call if you are stuck.
– Stop using Internet Explorer. In addition to Windows XP ending, there will be no more updates to the version of Internet Explorer that runs with XP. Good choices are Google’s Chrome browser, or Mozilla Firefox.
– Install a good anti-virus package. There are plenty of choices out there, such as Norton, AVG, AVG Free, or Webroot. Pick one and install it.
– Use protection. (more accurately, use your head). Practice safe computing – don’t download software from untrusted sources, file attachments from unknown senders, websites with security warnings, etc.
If you can follow the above guidelines and play things safe, you can probably continue to use Windows XP safely for some time. Stay safe my friends!
Share and share alike
I began this newsletter because of my love for technology and I love to share tips that can make your job easier for whatever it is you do. I am an It guy by trade and by definition that makes me a geek. As this list grows, so does our overall knowledge base – I may know something interesting that applies to the things I need on a daily basis but I don’t always know the latest tips that will work for your daily routine. Are you an attorney? An accountant? What cool stuff have you found that makes life easier, or more likely what cool stuff did your kids show you?? Don’t be shy – if you have something you want to share, just let us know and we may include it in an upcoming edition! Just send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Happy technology - stay safe my friends!