31 January 2022

Donline Computer Consultancy Limited - is 16 years old today!


16 years ago today - I started Donline Computer Consultancy
Wow - how that time has flown!

It's such a great Blessing to have so many wonderful clients. Apart from the work (very much appreciated!), we have forged some great relationships & friendships along the way. So a huge thank you to all those who have travelled this journey with me. Good Lord willing: here's to many more years!

Some statistics for you:
686 Clients
4387 Invoices
2949 Purchase Orders

With thanks & Blessings, Don, Kim & Calli


28 January 2022

Booby-trapped sites delivered potent new backdoor trojan to macOS users

Researchers have uncovered advanced, never-before-seen macOS malware that was installed using exploits that were almost impossible for most users to detect or stop once the users landed on a malicious website.

The malware was a full-featured backdoor that was written from scratch, an indication that the developers behind it have significant resources and expertise. DazzleSpy, as researchers from security firm Eset have named it, provides an array of advanced capabilities that give the attackers the ability to fully monitor and control infected Macs. 

Features include:
victim device fingerprinting
screen capture
file download/upload
execute terminal commands
audio recording

macOS 12.3 will break cloud-storage features used by Dropbox and OneDrive


If you're using either Dropbox or Microsoft OneDrive to sync files on a Mac, you'll want to pay attention to the release notes for today's macOS 12.3 beta: the update is deprecating a kernel extension used by both apps to download files on demand. The extension means that files are available when you need them but don't take up space on your disk when you don't. Apple says that "both service providers have replacements for this functionality currently in beta."

Both Microsoft and Dropbox started alerting users to this change before the macOS beta even dropped. Dropbox's page is relatively sparse. The page notifies users that Dropbox's online-only file functionality will break in macOS 12.3 and that a beta version of the Dropbox client with a fix will be released in March.

Microsoft's documentation for OneDrive's Files On-Demand feature is more detailed. It explains that Microsoft will be using Apple's File Provider extensions for future OneDrive versions, that the new Files On-Demand feature will be on by default, and that Files On-Demand will be supported in macOS 12.1 and later.


27 January 2022

The Official Highway Code 2022 edition

The Official Highway Code is seeing one of its biggest overhauls with new rules coming into force.

It remains essential reading for any road user. Many rules are a legal requirement and, if you disobey them, you're committing a criminal offence. Make sure you have the latest copy.

Changes for 2022

New rules on the hierarchy of road users – This means the introduction of new responsibilities towards more vulnerable road users, to keep them safe on the road. These are known as the ‘H’ rules

Junctions— You should give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross a road that you’re turning into

Parking laws—New rules around parking on pavements

Source material – The Official Highway Code remains one of the source materials for all theory tests

Keep safe, make sure you're up to date with the latest rules of the road. Avoid penalties and fines by getting the latest copy of The Official Highway Code.

Buy now to reserve your copy - estimated delivery: 15th April

Update now! Apple pushes out security patches for iPhone and Mac zero-day vulnerabilities


Apple has released urgent security updates for its customers, following the discovery of zero-day vulnerabilities that can be used to hack into iPhones, iPads, and Macs.

iOS 15.3 and macOS Monterey 12.2 are being pushed out to users, fixing a variety of security flaws. But the ones which have raised the most concern are those which may have been actively exploited.

In its security advisory, Apple credits the discovery of the flaw to an anonymous researcher, Siddharth Aeri, and Meysam Firouzi of MBition – the Mercedes Benz Innovation Lab.


26 January 2022

DeadBolt ransomware targets QNAP NAS (Network Attached Storage) devices

A new DeadBolt ransomware group is encrypting QNAP NAS (Network Attached Storage) devices worldwide using what they claim is a zero-day vulnerability in the device's software.

The attacks started today, January 25th, with QNAP devices suddenly finding their files encrypted and file names appended with a .deadbolt file extension.

Instead of creating ransom notes in each folder on the device, the QNAP device's login page is hijacked to display a screen stating, "WARNING: Your files have been locked by DeadBolt"

What should any computer user (including NAS) do to protect themselves & their irreplaceable data from crooks? Two little words: UPDATES & BACKUP!


OFCOM: Broadband and mobile coverage checker

 The OFCOM mobile and broadband checker lets you:

  • check indoor/outdoor mobile availability for voice, 3G and 4G services from all major providers
  • view broadband availability and speeds for any UK address
  • get tips on how to improve your internet connection or mobile coverage.

Enter a postcode to view mobile coverage by provider, or availability of broadband services (standard, superfast and ultrafast). You can also view the results as interactive maps.


Vodafone UK announces 3G retirement in 2023

Vodafone confirms it will begin retirement of its legacy 3G network in 2023.

4G and 5G to get coverage and speed boost from repurposing of 3G spectrum, helping Vodafone to provide the UK’s most reliable network experience.

Customer communication plan is underway to ensure customers stay connected.

Vodafone leading a year-long campaign, working with charities and other third-party groups to reach the most vulnerable customers.

Vodafone will begin retiring its 3G network in 2023 as part of a network modernisation programme to improve the 4G and 5G experience for all customers. The programme, which will see 3G coverage gradually phased out and replaced by strengthened 4G and 5G services, will mean customers across more parts of the UK can access more reliable connectivity through the Vodafone network.

Are you using an older Smartphone - a device which isn't 4G or 5G capable? Be aware that the retirement of 3G will affect you. It's time to consider a phone upgrade...


24 January 2022

Letters face weeks of delays as staff absences cripple Royal Mail

Letters and parcel deliveries are subject to unprecedented delays as Royal Mail (OFCOM) struggles with thousands of staff absences, demand for Covid-19 tests and a deluge of Christmas returns. 

Around 15,000 - or one in seven - of the postal service’s workers were sick or isolating as the omicron variant spread in the first week of January. The figure still stood at 13,000 last week, double the normal level for this time of year.

The company is juggling millions of coronavirus test kit deliveries and huge parcel volumes, which have surged during the pandemic and currently also include a wave of Christmas gift returns.


In other (related I suspect) news:  Well-informed people with experience of the issues have speculated the bill for sorting the Horizon scandal would hit £1bn, we didn't get confirmation of that until now.

Without telling parliament or the BEIS Select Committee specifically convened to discuss compensation, the government quietly published a document stating it was making £685m available to the Post Office to compensate Subpostmasters. That tips this disaster over the £1bn mark. Read the breakdown here.


$130 billion wiped off crypto markets in 24 hours as bitcoin, ether drop to multi-month lows


The cryptocurrency market had around $130 billion wiped off its value over the last 24 hours, as major digital coins continued their multi-day sell-off.

Bitcoin was last down around 4% at $33,755.57, according to Coin Metrics, while Ether plunged 7% to $2,239.08. Earlier in the morning, they fell to their lowest points since July. They are also about 50% off their respective all-time highs.

Cryptocurrencies are moving in tandem with stocks, which have continued to fall since the beginning of the year and just came off of their worst week since March 2020. Investors have been selling risk assets like technology stocks, as they prepare for tighter monetary policy from the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Open Doors - World Watch List 2022

Every year, Open Doors research teams create the World Watch List: a list of the countries where Christians face the most severe persecution, ranked from the most extreme. It’s a unique, in-depth record of the places where Christians are following Jesus no matter the cost, and research has been gathered and analysed annually since 1992 – but how it is compiled?

There is no international, legal definition of persecution. Situations can be defined as persecution where persons experience the denial of the rights listed in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. However, World Watch List methodology has opted for a theological rather than a sociological definition: “Any hostility experienced as a result of one’s identification with Christ. This can include hostile attitudes, words and actions towards Christians”.

This broad definition includes (but is not limited to) restrictions, pressure, discrimination, opposition, disinformation, injustice, intimidation, mistreatment, marginalisation, oppression, intolerance, infringement, violation, ostracism, hostilities, harassment, abuse, violence, ethnic cleansing and genocide.


20 January 2022

US airlines warn C-Band 5G could cause 'catastrophic disruption'


The airline industry claims a “catastrophic” event could unfold when AT&T and Verizon activate their new C-Band 5G networks. In a letter obtained by Reuters, the CEOs of several prominent passenger and cargo airlines, including Delta, United and Southwest, warn interference from 5G cell towers could affect the sensitive safety equipment on their planes.

"Unless our major hubs are cleared to fly, the vast majority of the traveling and shipping public will essentially be grounded," they state in the letter, which was sent to the heads of the White House Economic Council, Federal Aviation Administration and Federal Communications Commission, as well as Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. "Immediate intervention is needed to avoid significant operational disruption to air passengers, shippers, supply chain and delivery of needed medical supplies."

The airlines have asked that AT&T and Verizon not offer 5G service within 2 miles of some of the country’s busiest and most vital airports. They’re also urging the federal government to ensure “5G is deployed except when towers are too close to airport runways until the FAA can determine how that can be safely accomplished without catastrophic disruption." The agency established 5G buffer zones at 50 airports on January 7th. 


17 January 2022

Mozilla stops accepting cryptocurrency, Wikipedia may be next: Are dominos falling?

When the Mozilla Foundation took to Twitter on New Year's Eve to announce it was going to begin accepting cryptocurrency donations, it likely didn't think about potential blowback from one of its founders, but that's what it got. In response, Mozilla has said it's pausing cryptocurrency donations.

In his blog, Mozilla co-founder Jamie Zawinski, writer of the original tweet, said he's glad if he played even a small part "in getting them to rescind that terrible decision." Zawinski has long been critical of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies, making note on his blog of Bitcoin's negative aspects as far back as 2013. 

"Anyone involved in cryptocurrencies in any way is either a grifter or a mark," Zawinski told me. "It is 100% a con. There is no legitimacy," he said. 


14 January 2022

REvil ransomware gang arrested in Russia

Authorities in Russia say they have dismantled the ransomware crime group REvil and charged several of its members.

The United States had offered a reward of up to $10m (£7.3m) for information leading to the gang members, following ransomware attacks.

Russia's intelligence bureau FSB said the group had "ceased to exist". However, it does not appear that any Russian members of the gang will be extradited to the United States.

The agency said it had acted after being provided with information about the REvil gang by the US. According to the Russian state news service Tass, REvil "developed malicious software" and "organised the theft of money from the bank accounts of foreign citizens".

The FSB said it had seized more than 426 million rubles (£4m), including about £440,000 worth of crypto-currency. It also seized more than 20 "premium cars" which had been purchased with the proceeds of crime.


Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) calls for national debate the state of Britain's roads

Every year, seventy-four motorcycle KSI reports (Killed or Seriously Injured) list poor road surface as a contributory factor.  Members of the Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) last year voted repair of potholes as their second-highest priority.  MAG is using National Pothole Day to once again call on national and local Government to come together to find innovative solutions to this problem.  For motorcyclists, solutions can literally mean the difference between life or death.

The issue of potholes on the UK road network is nothing new.  National Pothole Day was created in 2015 to raise awareness of the ever-growing pothole problem on our roads.

Established by StreetRepairs.co.uk, MAG supports the awareness campaign to rid Britain’s roads of the pothole blight. MAG regularly encourages members to report potholes and other surface issues and promotes innovative products and repair methods to the relevant authorities.  MAG also offers to advise local authorities on prioritising the potholes that cause greatest risk to riders.

Potholes on bends, in braking zones and at junctions can cause far more than inconvenience to riders.


12 January 2022

Hotel chain switches from Windows and Mac to Chrome OS to recover from ransomware attack

A Scandinavian hotel chain that fell victim to a ransomware attack last month said it took a novel approach to recover from the incident by switching all affected systems to Chrome OS.

Nordic Choice Hotels, which operates 200 hotels across Northern Europe, fell victim to a ransomware attack on December 2, when hackers encrypted some of its internal systems using the Conti ransomware strain.

The attack prevented staff from accessing guest reservation data and from issuing key cards to newly arriving guests, as one of the hotel’s guests told The Record in an interview last month.

But in a press release, Nordic Choice said that instead of contacting the hackers and negotiating a ransom for the decryption key that would have unlocked the infected devices, the hotel chose to migrate its entire PC fleet from Windows to Chrome OS.

Nordic Choice said they used a tool called CloudReady, which can prepare and port old Windows and macOS computers to Chrome OS setups.


08 January 2022

While we try to reduce our carbon footprint - thousands of aircraft fly EMPTY of passengers!

Brussels Airlines has operated 3,000 flights without passengers this winter to avoid losing take-off and landing slots.

The airline’s parent company, Lufthansa Group, confirmed that 18,000 flights had been flown empty, including 3,000 Brussels Airlines services, reports The Bulletin.

EU rules require that airlines operate a certain percentage of scheduled flights to keep their slots at major airports.

Under these “use it or lose it” regulations, prior to the pandemic carriers had to utilise at least 80 per cent of their scheduled take-off and landing slots.

This was revised to 50 per cent as coronavirus saw travel become increasingly difficult – but airlines are still struggling to hit this target.

FYI: How much fuel does an international plane use for a trip? A plane like a Boeing 747 uses approximately 1 gallon of fuel (about 4 liters) every second. Over the course of a 10-hour flight, it might burn 36,000 gallons (150,000 liters). According to Boeing's Web site, the 747 burns approximately 5 gallons of fuel per mile (12 liters per kilometer).


Why you should consider advanced motorcycle training

What is the deal with advanced rider training? Considering taking an advanced riding course but worried about what’s involved? Don’t be concerned, as it could be the best thing you have ever done. It could turn you into a safer, quicker biker while potentially saving money on your insurance, too.

When most riders hear the term ‘advanced riding course’ they tend to be put off slightly. Sometimes it’s because advanced riding sounds a bit intimidating and something that only the very best riders have the skills to complete.

For others it’s because they want to believe they’re already an advanced rider and can’t be taught anything new.

However in reality this is far from true in both cases.

Advanced riding isn’t all about increasing your corner speed, learning super-human overtaking skills or pushing your tyres to their limit. It’s focused on making you a safer, more confident rider who is able to identify hazards on the road and react accordingly before they develop into a potentially harmful situation.

So rather than thinking of it as advanced riding, think of it as the next progression in your motorcycle riding skills journey.

My club is IAM RoadSmart Solent - based at Wickham Community Centre. Our regular open day is SolentSunday. Come along for a ride assessment, it's also a major social event in our calendar and your opportunity, as a Group Member, to come along and meet your fellow Members. Click here to find out more about IAM RoadSmart


04 January 2022

Reading for today: What does God want from us?


He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. 
And what does the Lord require of you? 
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Read all of Micah 6 at Bible Gateway