Weak and Shared Passwords Allowed Compromise of Quickbooks Customers

post it note

Passwords are a lot of trouble. Strong passwords are difficult to create and remember. Managing passwords for a hundred different websites for personal and work purposes is impossible. In the best case scenario you should not share the same password between more than one website or service.

Strong passwords look like this: Mn7b0S@*XBus

ServiceFirst Blog

Brian Krebs published recently that bank logins were blocked for customers of Quickbooks and Mint. Systems at Quickbooks were being used to find users who were sharing passwords across different websites. Thieves were also using information from Quickbooks to target users with large bank balances. This hits close to home because I am an Intuit customer for most of their products.

LastPass logo

Soon after reading about the security breach I changed all of my banking passwords. I could do this easily because I subscribe to the LastPass service. LastPass is a password manager. It’s purpose is to store all of your passwords and help you manage them. It is able to generate long random passwords that are impossible to guess (and remember!) but using LastPass means you no longer have to remember your passwords.

All of the major browsers have their own password manager features that work very similar to each other. Regardless of the product you choose, using a password manager and relying on it daily will remove a lot of stress in your daily computing. Contact me if you want to learn more using a password manager and get a personal recommendation based on your needs.

Struggling With Planned Obsolescence

A policy of producing consumer goods that rapidly become obsolete and so require replacing, achieved by frequent changes in design, termination of the supply . of spare parts, and the use of non-durable materials.

https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/planned_obsolescence

It’s been three weeks or more since my Epson Workforce 3620 started dying on me. I have the new printer installed and ready but I’m still able to limp along with the Epson. I thought it would be useful to give my thoughts on shopping for a new printer.

Picking a Printer

What brand is best? Laser or Inkjet? How much should I budget for a new printer?

To answer these questions you should first consider the job requirements you need independent of any brand name.

  • Print volume – Whether you are a home user who only prints a few pages per month or business user printing hundreds of pages.
  • Color – Do you need/want to print color? How about photo printing?
  • Connectivity – USB, Wifi, Wired ethernet. Wifi connected printers can be placed anywhere within wireless range to be the most convenient. They also support printing from more devices.
  • Special features – Fax, duplex printing, cloud printing, multi-function capabilities

The Warranty

If you made your list of required features and capabilities and did your research. You should now have a short list of what brand and model printer would work for you. One year manufacturer warranties are standard for every brand. All brands are manufactured over seas and outsourced. Buying an extended warranty becomes the consumer’s only recourse to ensure products last a reasonable length of time.

Office Depot/OfficeMax offers their Two-year product guarantee. Two years proved to be too short for me, but if you end up buying from OD then it is better to have it. Amazon offers warranty protection from Asurion for up to four years. While I was price shopping, I saw that a four year term was available and my decision was made then. Where ever you end up buying from, I recommend getting the longest term offered.

Brother MFC-L2710DW

Epson Workforce Failure

I’m pretty unhappy with Epson printers right now. My printer was bought new in June 2017. The extended warranty expired in June 2019. Now it’s October 2019 and it’s non-functional. Classic situation where the warranty expires and the next day it falls apart.

Epson WF-3620 with error 0x97 on screen.
Epson WF-3620 with Error 0x97

There is very little information available about the 0x97 error. The best I can find is that it refers to an unspecified hardware error. I decided to turn this around and make it an opportunity to publish my experience. When my new printer gets here I’ll share what decisions I made and why.

Rated Highly

Platform rating

Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings; he will not serve before obscure men.

Proverbs 22:29

An actual screenshot of my platform ratings which I am very thankful for. Thank you to every customer whether I was hired via a platform or it was a direct private service.

D-link and Comba Routers Storing Passwords in Plain Text

The vast majority of people never think about updating the firmware on their home routers. For ordinary users the best brand to buy is Netgear because the routers can be setup to auto-update at the time of installation.

Getting the complete settings of the router is possible for the aforementioned model by simply accessing the ‘romfile.cfg’ file. No authentication is needed and the WiFi password is stored in cleartext.

Bleeping Computer

Contact me to schedule a PC Check-up updating the firmware in your home router can be one of the items fixed while I’m on-site.

Windows 10 Upgrade

computer running windows 10

Retail support for Windows 7 is ending in January 2020. This means that your Windows 7 computer will no longer receive security updates from Microsoft. It does not mean that your computer will stop functioning in January. So if you want to keep using your computer just as you are then there is nothing for you to do.

Windows 10 on Old hardware

However, there may be advantages to upgrading Windows systems, Windows 7 and older. No payment to Microsoft is required to upgrade if you are upgrading a system with a valid Windows license. With very old Windows OSs you might run into incompatibilities with modern websites and software. If you are willing to deal with slow performance, upgrading can allow an old computer to surf modern websites. The laptop pictured originally had Windows Vista (circa ’06 – ’09) installed and it accepted Windows 10 quite well even though it does run slowly.

Before doing the upgrade there are some caveats, the first being that since we are working with old hardware the customer has to accept the possibility that hardware failure could occur at any time after a successful upgrade. The second is that the upgrade might fail due to incompatible drivers, etc. In this instance I would quit the installation, reinstall with the original OS, and return it to the customer. For almost all computers running Windows 7 the upgrade is encouraged and can happen smoothly. For older computers (Windows XP/Vista) I would ask the customer to name a specific task that they can’t do now. So that a successful upgrade could be tested and verified.

Going to the Repair Store?

Desktop PC sitting in the passenger seat of vehicle

Call the Repair store to You!

Next time you are having computer problems before you pack the computer into the car contact me first. I offer free preliminary troubleshooting by phone. I work exclusively on-site at your home or business. During the time that the computer is being driven across town, vibration and the risk of dropping the computer can cause greater harm than your original problem. A technician at the computer store is also limited to troubleshooting a computer as a standalone object.

If you are having trouble printing are you going to pack the computer and the printer and all of the cables to the store? You don’t have to do that! With any problem that involves more than one device it’s always better to leave everything in place as it is and allow me to see the problem in exactly the same way that you the customer see it.

Tracking down an intermittent problem is a classic example. Your Internet goes through periods of being unreliable. You first call your service provider and they swear that the service coming into your house is 100% working. Then you take the computer to a friend’s house and it works fine over there too. It can be worse than catching a ghost! I have the capability of verifying every component from your ISP’s modem through the cables you use (or WiFi) to the router and to your computer.

See you soon!

Patched

cabling tools

These are a couple of brand new homemade ethernet cables. It is the kind of cable you use to connect a computer to a router. I used one cable out of my truck stock and left it with a customer when I was connecting their printer, so I made a couple more.

Ethernet patch cable
Ethernet cable made to order

If you are having problems with your Internet, could it be a bad cable? Call me to have the cable tested and know for sure. Maybe you have a damaged wall jack? I can fix that too!

Ethernet Wall jack

Free Advice and Troubleshooting

Lucy answer booth

I recently helped a lady, Vanessa(not her real name), who was having difficulty with her home Internet service going in and out. At the time Vanessa didn’t know whether the problem was her computer or her Internet provider. I called Vanessa and listened to the symptoms she was experiencing and gave her some suggestions on how to troubleshoot the problem.

Then about two weeks later Vanessa calls me and we talk about what she has discovered. The information she has confirms to me that the problem is indeed with her Internet provider and not her computer. So I give her more advice about how to work with customer service to get the best result.

In this instance, it wasn’t neccessary for me to ever go to her house. All Vanessa needed was some direction and advice about how to test her own Internet service and I didn’t charge her for the help.

I’d like to offer this same service to everyone. If you have a question or want advice about any problem you’re having I am available as a source of information. Contact me via the links below.

Email me: eric@ericbrake.ws
Call or text me via my listed phone number.
Google profile: https://g.page/ebcomputerhelp/
Message me via Facebook: https://m.me/ebcomputerhelp
Facebook Profile: https://www.facebook.com/ebcomputerhelp/