Tech Office Service Pack 1: updates and information-bug fixes
Alan Zisman (c) 2010 First published in Business
June 15 - 21, 2010 - issue #1077
High Tech Office column
Life in the high-tech office rarely pauses to let you catch your breath.
Install a piece of software and, almost immediately, there’s an update,
with bug fixes and maybe a new feature or two. It’s the same thing with
this column. No sooner is a column in print than it needs an update.
Microsoft periodically rolls a bunch of Windows updates into a service
pack. Here’s the High Tech Office 2010 – Service Pack 1: bug fixes and
new additions to some of this season’s column.
BIV’s issue 1068 (April 13-19) column
looked at HP’s TouchSmart tm2 – a nice laptop with touchscreen
features. HP was promising an iPad-like Slate for the second half of
2010. My fear: if the Slate were to run Windows 7, its touch features
would be awkward at best.
Soon after publication, HP bought Palm, whose Pre smartphone had failed
to make much of a dent in iPhone sales.
HP has now announced that the Slate will run Palm’s very nice WebOS
system rather than Windows. If HP can get software-makers developing
apps for WebOS – something Palm wasn’t very successful at – it could
have a solid iPad alternative.
The following week’s column
(issue 1069; April 20-26)looked at the “threatscape” – the evolving
perils that face online users. Since then, there has been some good
security news. The first concerns phishing scams – e-mail tempting
users to visit websites masquerading as banks or other financial
institutions in order to steal log-in passwords. According to the
Anti-Phishing Working Group, while phishing scams continue to multiply,
financial institutions and Internet services and providers are
responding quicker. According to the report, the average phishing
website remained online for only 32 hours in 2009, down from about 50
the year before.
More good news: a Microsoft report released in late April notes that in
the second half of 2009, Canada had 2.5 infected computers out of every
1,000 surveyed. That’s down from 8.1 per 1,000 two years previously.
The global infection rate, according to the report, was 7.0 per 1,000.
Microsoft’s report agrees with Fortinet’s Derek Manky, quoted in issue
1069’s column, that fake security software is now the biggest threat to
Windows computer users.
A week later
we looked at Motorola’s Milestone smartphone, one of a number of phones
using Google’s Android operating system, a credible iPhone alternative.
Recently, Android beat out iPhone sales, at least in the U.S. I haven’t
seen equivalent Canadian statistics, but I suspect that’s not the case
here. The U.S. has a wider variety of Android-powered phones to choose
from and, down there, Apple’s iPhone is available only on the AT&T
network, while in Canada you can get iPhone contracts with all three of
the major mobile providers: Bell, Telus and Rogers/Fido.
Shortly after the column appeared, Motorola announced that the
Milestone was the first Android phone in Canada to be updated to the
new Android 2.1 version. Because it’s impossible to really remain
technologically up to date, a few days later Google announced an even
newer Android 2.2 version. So stay tuned.
in issue 1071 (May 4-10) looked
at a pair of devices that allow home and small-business users to put
multiple computers online and connect to a mobile phone company’s data
network. Ryan Mattinson, a Computer Forensics and Security Consultant
with Vancouver’s TCS Forensics, e-mailed with a potential concern.
While Wi-Fi wireless connections can be easily setup to use strong
encryption, Mattinson noted that the encryption standards used on
mobile data networks “do not offer anywhere near this level of
He pointed out that while providers are touting the increased security
of their 3G networks, the first paper documenting a successful attack
against encryption used by these networks has already been published.
Moreover, when 3G networks are not available, mobile devices drop down
to the slower but more common 2G networks – and the encryption used on
these widely used GSM networks was broken years ago. The result,
according to Mattinson, is that “someone with $1500 worth of hardware …
can passively monitor and record cellular data undetected.”
Those are my updates so far. Of course, by the time you get to read
them – like Motorola’s Android 2.1 announcement – my updates will
probably need updating.