F.B.I. issues warning regarding VPNFilter malware on office and home routers

The F.B.I. has made a public announcement stating that routers should be rebooted as a precaution against possible VPNFilter malware.  This malware has already compromised at least 500,000 home and office routers as well as connected devices worldwide.   U.S. CERT (part of the Department of Homeland Security) is investigating this issue under Alert TA18-145A.

Cisco’s Talos Intelligence Group has more technical details about VPNFilter malware and recommendations on how to improve router security against this threat. Cisco Talos issued a second update on June 6th 2018 with a list of known devices affected by the malware at the end of the post.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) goes into effect May 25th 2018

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a set of privacy rules that apply to any entity that handles personal data for customers in the European Union (EU). GDPR goes into effect May 25th 2018.

GDPR includes some of the following requirements:

  • the right to easy access to one’s own personal data;
  • the right to secure data protection by design and by default;
  • the right to data portability, or the ability for customers to move their data between companies easily upon request;
  • the right to know when one’s data has been compromised or breached;
  • the right to be forgotten, i.e. the ability to have one’s personal data deleted if there is no legitimate reason to retain the data.

The maximum penalty for GDPR non-compliance would be 20 million euros or 4% of worldwide turnover, whichever is greater.

More information about GDPR is available at www.eugdpr.org and ec.europa.eu/commission/priorities/justice-and-fundamental-rights/data-protection/2018-reform-eu-data-protection-rules_en.

Microsoft has published its own GDPR compliance guide and best practices at www.microsoft.com/en-us/TrustCenter/Privacy/gdpr/default.aspx.

Google has documented its own commitment to GDPR here.

Residents of Australia are covered under the Australia Privacy Act.

Apple offers a $50 credit for some out-of-warranty iPhone battery replacements

Apple is currently offering a $50 credit for some out-of-warranty iPhone battery replacements and is in the process of contacting eligible customers by email.   Customers who were not contacted by email should contact Apple directly if they believe that they should be eligible under the terms for the $50 credit.  A battery replacement from Apple can be requested at support.apple.com/iphone/repair/battery-power.

The iPhone Battery Health screen shows battery usage by apps, maximum battery capacity, and peak performance capability.  This screen is available for iPhone 6 and later with iOS 11.3 or higher, and can be found under Settings > Battery > Battery Health.

A list of current Apple product repair programs can be found at www.apple.com/support/exchange_repair.

TV channels may change frequency because of FCC airwaves auction

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently held a spectrum auction to improve wireless services nationwide.  As a result, some over-the-air (OTA) antenna TV channels will soon be broadcasting on a different frequency.  These changes will begin in 2018 and may not end until at least 2020.

TVanswers.org is a website created by National Association of Broadcasters to help TV viewers with this transition.

Other sites that can help with the positioning of an antenna for the best TV channel signal include:

SQL Server and Azure SQL Database Tools and Utilities

Microsoft has made available many free downloadable apps for SQL Server, Azure SQL Database, and/or Azure Synapse Analytics (formerly Azure SQL Data Warehouse), including:

A list of most of these SQL tools and utilities can be found at the SQL tools overview and command prompt utilities pages.

Microsoft Power BI Desktop

Microsoft Power BI Desktop is a free report-building tool that is part of the Power BI Suite and runs on Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2 or later Windows versions.  User sharing and collaboration within Power BI is managed by either a Free or Pro subscription.

Power BI Downloads:

Power BI Introduction and Documentation:

Power BI and DAX:

Power BI Visualizations:

Twitter recommends that all users change their Twitter password

Twitter has recommended that its more than 330 million users change their Twitter password, according to Reuters.  This statement was made at Twitter Support and its official online blog after a log file containing unencrypted user passwords was found on one of its internal servers.  Twitter also has instructions on setting up two-factor authentication when logging into its site for additional security.

Windows Admin Center – a new management tool for Windows 10 and Server

Microsoft announced the release of Windows Admin Center, a new web based administrative management interface for Windows systems.  The original development name of this tool was Project Honolulu.  This tool consolidates data from Event Viewer, Device Manager, Disk Management, Task Manager, Server Manager and other console windows into one interface.  It can be downloaded and installed on Windows 10 Fall Anniversary Update (version 1709) or newer, or Windows Server 2016 or newer.   More information can be found at:

Windows Admin Center is part of a set of management solutions from Microsoft, which also includes Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT), System Center, Operations Management Suite and Azure Stack for Azure-related management, as well as Intune for iOS, Android, Windows, and macOS devices.