Tag Archives: Networking

Control A Remote Computer (And More), With Free TeamViewer

image If you’re a person who’s often asked by friends, to help them, their friends, their neighbors, ……..the list goes on, to reconstruct a computer that is not responding appropriately, has become loaded with malware, etc., then free TeamViewer is worth taking a look at.

TeamViewer connects to any PC, or server, within a few seconds; which allows you to control a remote PC as if you were sitting right in front of it. Best of all, a typical (non geek) computer user using TeamViewer, doesn’t need to know anything about ports or protocols, or any other complicated Firewall jargon.

Some of my friends, who are only moderately techno competent, have used this neat little tool to rescue their family’s and friend’s computers. Most have commented that it feels just as if they were working side by side with the remote user, on the same PC. I second that perception. Awesome!

Running this free screen sharing/remote control application, is simple – perhaps the easiest I’ve used. The user interface is plain, functional, and uncomplicated – as illustrated.

Click graphic to expand to original.

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Since the application has considerable functionality, over and above remote tech support, including file-transfer and business collaboration, there are substantial options available. In the following screen capture, I’ve chosen to illustrate Remote control options.

Click graphic to expand to original.

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To get up and running:

Have your friend/partner/associate etc, download, install and run TeamViewer – then email you the session ID and Password, once they have launched the application.

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Here’s an example of TeamViewer at work.

The following screen captures illustrate that I’ve taken remote control of TeamViewer’s test computer, by entering the session ID and password provided by TeamViewer – acting as the friend/partner/associate.

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Once in control, I opened the remote machine’s WordPad and did a little typing.

Click on graphic to expand

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Once you’ve installed TeamViewer, you can do the same thing to give yourself a little practice.

Fast facts:

One solution for everything – While most competitors offer different packages for remote support, remote administration, training and sales (and also charge for them…) TeamViewer is the one-stop solution for everything you need: TeamViewer includes all modules in one simple and very affordable package.

File transfer – TeamViewer comes with integrated file transfer that allows you to copy files and folders to and from a remote partner – which also works behind firewalls

Highest security standard – TeamViewer is a very secure solution. All versions feature completely secure data channels with key exchange and AES (256 Bit) session encoding, the same security standard used by https/SSL.

Remote support without installation – With TeamViewer you can remotely control any PC anywhere on the Internet. No installation is required, just run the application on both sides and connect – even through tight firewalls.

Remote presentation of products, solutions and services – TeamViewer allows you to present your desktop to a partner. Share live demos, products, and presentations over the Internet within seconds.

Works behind firewalls – The major difficulties in using remote control software are firewalls and blocked ports, as well as NAT routing for local IP addresses. If you use TeamViewer you don’t have to worry about firewalls: TeamViewer will find a route.

Optimized performance – Whether you have a LAN or dial-up connection, TeamViewer optimizes display quality and speed depending on your network connection.

Encryption – TeamViewer includes full encryption, based on RSA private-public key exchange and AES (256 Bit) session encoding. This technology is based on the same standards as https/SSL and is considered completely safe by today’s standards.

Access Protection – In addition to the PartnerID TeamViewer generates a session password that changes with every software start to provide additional security against unauthorized access to a remote system.

System requirements: Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Win 7, Mac, Linux, Mobile systems.

Download at:  Team Viewer

Note: A portable version is also available.

Bottom line: If you have the skills, and you have the opportunity to provide tech support to your family or friends, then TeamViewer might just be the tool you’ve been looking for.

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Filed under Connected Devices, downloads, Easy Computer Networking, Encryption, flash drive, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Interconnectivity, Mobile Applications, Networking, Portable Applications, Remote Tech Support, Software, USB, Windows Tips and Tools

Using the Internet with Confidence: Tips for Seniors

Guest writer Maria Rainier has some super tips to for that newly liberated group of computer users – Seniors.

imageLike many young people, I have to say that there are many benefits to using the Internet. However, I’m not under the impression that a quick e-mail can replace a handwritten note or card that can be received in the mail.

Sometimes, the tangible is still better. But in terms of finding information, communicating quickly, and enjoying the benefits of networking and online communities, the Internet has a lot to offer. And it’s not difficult to navigate.

Don’t let the apparent complexity and ambiguous nature of the Web intimidate you or cause you to write it off as the next trend headed straight for anonymity. It’s here to stay, and it’s a valuable tool for anyone who knows how to use it efficiently.

For some tips on conquering this new frontier, read on, but first – give yourself a pat on the back for finding this blog online. You could probably give your friends some pointers already.

Deciding to Master Internet Use

If you’re going to learn more about using the Web efficiently and successfully, it will help to commit yourself to the cause. Learning to use the Internet will take some time and energy, so be prepared to invest these resources in exchange for the valuable skills you can obtain.

Even if you get frustrated, decide now that you’ll keep asking questions, continuing to learn how best to use the comprehensive resource that is the Internet.

Getting General Instruction from a Credible Source

First, ask a family member to help you. It will enable you to spend time together and let a younger member of the family know that he or she is needed. One of the best advantages to this method is, you’ll be able to ask questions as they arise without worrying about interrupting a class or flipping through a book’s index to try to locate the answer. It won’t take much time to learn the basics, and from there, you’ll be able to pick up some books at your local library that will cover more in-depth subjects. A working knowledge of the Internet can open up other resources for you, so take advantage of your family members’ knowledge if you can.

Another option is – sign up for a free class at your library or senior center. Simply check the scheduled events next time you go to these places or, if you’re feeling frisky, look them up online and try to find the schedules there. You can always go the route of calling to ask about these classes if there’s no schedule posted online. The advantage to this method is that the instructors are often experienced and won’t steer you in the wrong direction, and you can always ask questions once the class is over.

Protecting Your Computer and Yourself

Before you start experimenting with the Internet, try to learn about installing a good firewall. You might choose to purchase protection or try free versions, but it’s important to make sure that your information is safe and that you’ll be notified if you land on dangerous Web pages so that you can navigate away quickly.

You can also help protect your Internet experience by being aware of phishing scams such as false “official” e-mails that demand immediate attention. Anything with links or demands for personal information that comes from someone you don’t know should be deleted. By paying close attention to instruction on Internet safety and asking questions on this topic, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying your new surfing skills.

Taking Advantage of Online Resources

The following websites contain more information that can help you if you’re interested in learning more.

Washington State Office of the Attorney General’s Internet Safety for Seniors

Australia’s Seniors.gov Internet Tools and Tips

Microsoft’s Your Digital Life for Seniors

Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education, performing research surrounding online universities and their various program offerings. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

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Filed under Guest Writers, Interconnectivity, Internet Safety for Seniors, Older Adult Computer Users, social networking, Windows Tips and Tools

Smart Meters Make Us Dumb

Smart MeterSo what did Shakespeare mean, when he wrote “A Rose by any other name would smell as sweet”. Simply this  –  what something is, matters; not what it is called.

I can’t recall that electric meters were ever referred to as “dumb meters”, nevertheless, we now have a new breed of meters that the industry is calling “smart meters”. But are they really?

More to the point, are we being smart in adopting this new technology without a complete and probing review of the security implications posed by the rush to implement this technology? (I was forced to accept the installation of a smart meter earlier this year).

Smart Meters, on the face of it, sound ultra cool.  A Smart Meter, by definition, can monitor electricity usage and communicate with your electricity supplier. The supplier will then bill you on factors that include your consumption, cost adjusted, based on the time of day and the season. Use during high demand, or peak periods, will cost more money.

The stated objective is – billing consumers by how much electricity is consumed, and at what time of day, will force us to adjust our consumption habits to be more responsive to perceived savings, or additional costs. Hopefully, according to energy gurus, this will delay or eliminate the construction of additional generating facilities, and the associated environmental costs.

So what could be the downside to getting on board the speeding locomotive called the “green movement”, which is designed (we’re told), to make all of us more environmentally conscious?

Well here’s the rub with smart meters – according to industry sources, communication technologies being considered, or already in use for smart meters, include cell and pager networks, licensed radio or unlicensed radio, power line communication, and others.

So here’s my question – haven’t we learned anything when it comes to cost benefit and risk association?

The one indisputable commonality of communication technologies is this: each and every one can be intercepted, or hacked – and hacked easily.

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Should we worry, should we be concerned, that the major lifeline (try living without electricity), to our way of life can, or will, be compromised? You bet!

In a recent article “Building the Smart Grid: Proven Methods to Secure the Future” by Joshua Pennell and Michael Davis, of security firm IOActive

They wrote:

“IOActive researchers were able to identify multiple programming errors on a series of smart meter platforms ranging from the inappropriate use of banned functions to protocol implementation issues.

The research team was able to “weaponize” these attack vectors, and create an in-flash rootkit, which allowed them to assume full system control of all exposed smart meter capabilities, including remote power on, power off, usage reporting, and communication configurations.

The initial attack vector could also be leveraged to deploy a worm, much like the Blaster worm that wreaked havoc on computer systems in 2003. The consequences of such threats are potentially widespread and devastating”.

Still not convinced; then read the CNN report by Jeanne Meserve, CNN Homeland Security Correspondent, “Smart Grid may be vulnerable to hackers

Excerpt:

…… cyber security experts said some types of meters can be hacked, as can other points in the Smart Grid’s communications systems. IOActive, a professional security services firm, determined that an attacker with $500 of equipment and materials and a background in electronics and software engineering could “take command and control of the (advanced meter infrastructure) allowing for the en-masse manipulation of service to homes and businesses.”

Experts said that once in the system, a hacker could gain control of thousands, even millions, of meters and shut them off simultaneously.

A hacker also might be able to dramatically increase or decrease the demand for power, disrupting the load balance on the local power grid and causing a blackout. These experts said such a localized power outage would cascade to other parts of the grid, expanding the blackout. No one knows how big it could get.

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Not worried yet? Then you should be. If you’re unfamiliar with the prevalence of hacking and cybercrime, let me offer you this quote from my good friend TechPaul, “The Internet shadow economy is worth over $105 billion/year.  No country, no person, no business and no government is immune from Cybercrime”.

I find it impossible to believe that cyber criminals will not take advantage of the enormous attack surface that smart meters will present. These are the same cyber criminals, who frequently hold individual Internet connected computers for ransom using a vicious form of malware.

I don’t know about you, but I’m very tired of being held as a “hostage to fortune” in a present, and a future, created by and large, by the same illogical thinking patterns and by the same careless people (I’m being kind here), who in many cases, are responsible for the economic meltdown we are now forced to deal with.

Whatever happened to the application of logic? We need to stop listening to these morons – right now. They certainly don’t have your best interest at heart.

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Filed under Application Vulnerabilities, Don't Get Hacked, Green Living, Interconnectivity, Networking, Personal Perspective, Ransomware, Smart Meters, System Security

Smart Meters – How Dumb Are They?

smart-electricity-meter Several weeks ago while writing a report for a client; I was interrupted by my local electricity company who asked that I shut down my machines so that they could install a “Smart Meter”, on my electricity service.

Smart Meters to monitor electricity usage are just one of the latest technology advances to ensure we take the “green movement” seriously. A Smart Meter, by definition, can communicate with your electricity supplier who will then bill you, based on factors that include your electrical consumption based on the time of day and the season.

The stated objective is – billing consumers by how much electricity is consumed, and at what time of day, will force us to adjust our consumption habits to be more responsive to perceived savings, or additional costs. Hopefully, according to energy gurus, this will delay the construction of additional generation facilities.

Pretty cool – right? So what could be the downside to getting on board the speeding locomotive called the “green movement”, which is designed to make all of us more environmentally conscious? Or so we’re told.

Well here’s the rub – according to industry sources, communication technologies being considered, or already in use, include cell and pager networks, licensed radio or unlicensed radio, power line communication, and in my view, the most startling of all – the use of TCP/IP technology as a widespread communication method for Smart Meter applications.

TCP/IP technology has been with us since the 1970’s, and the one thing we know about this technology is – it can be hacked easily. So, of course, can all of the other technologies either in use, or being considered as a communication platform for Smart Meters.

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Should we worry, should we be concerned, that the major lifeline (try living without electricity), to our way of life can, or will, be compromised? You bet!

In a recent article “Building the Smart Grid: Proven Methods to Secure the Future” by Joshua Pennell and Michael Davis, of security firm IOActive they wrote:

“IOActive researchers were able to identify multiple programming errors on a series of smart meter platforms ranging from the inappropriate use of banned functions to protocol implementation issues.

The research team was able to “weaponize” these attack vectors, and create an in-flash rootkit, which allowed them to assume full system control of all exposed smart meter capabilities, including remote power on, power off, usage reporting, and communication configurations.

The initial attack vector could also be leveraged to deploy a worm, much like the Blaster worm that wreaked havoc on computer systems in 2003. The consequences of such threats are potentially widespread and devastating”.

Scary stuff to say the least!

Now I don’t know about you, but I’m very tired of being held as a hostage to fortune in a present, and a future, created by and large, by the same illogical thinking patterns and by the same idiots who, in many cases, are responsible for the economic meltdown we are now facing.

Whatever happened to the application of logic?

I’ll leave it up to you as to what you see as the solution to this untenable situation.

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Filed under Communication, Interconnectivity, Living Life, Networking, Personal Perspective, Smart Meters