iPhone X is a 10

Naturally, we have our iPhone X, and it’s everything we hoped it would be. Getting it was almost as much fun as using it because the Apple hype machine adds so much more intrigue. I was one of 25 people who showed up at the UPS terminal in Parsippany to get our phones when the counter opened at 7:30 in the morning on a Friday, two weeks ago. The guy at the counter grumbled a bit, but they knew what to expect. We had all been waiting for our phones from the minute we placed our order.

That’s when the fun started. I was able to track my phone before Apple and UPS sent us any kind of information. Working the web, I learned when my phone left the factory in China, when it left Hong Kong for the US, and when it arrived in Anchorage – before going to Louisville and Newark and then on to Parsippany.

In reality, I can’t blame UPS and Apple for being so spare with information. A truck was robbed near San Francisco, and a number of phones were stolen. New iPhones are hot commodities in more ways than one.

So, was it worth all the excitement? Yes.

The iPhone X’s facial recognition is top notch, and I love all the features and the speed. To a geek like me, this is one step closer to heaven. The only difficulty I’ve had is getting used to the absence of a Home button, which has been an iPhone hallmark. I’m still getting used to all the gestures and swipes, and switching back and forth with Danit’s older iPhone makes it harder to settle into a routine. But, hey, I’m not complaining.

If you’re in the market for the iPhone X, the waiting time to get one is three to four weeks. If you’re trying to decide whether to buy it at an Apple store or through your cellular carrier, I’d recommend the Apple store. One big reason is that you can buy the Apple Care insurance program that’s cheaper and better than what the carriers offer.

The coverage is recommended – along with the purchase of a good case for your new phone – because the units have glass fronts and backs and are extremely fragile. They can break very easily, and a replacement screen is $579.

The iPhone X has a lot of outstanding features, and most people will find a learning curve – while getting used to the gestures and no Home button. If you have any questions about the new phone or need any help in getting it set up and integrated into your life, we’re available to help. Just call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us.

Homeland Security’s New Website for Trusted Travelers

If you’re a world traveler for business or pleasure – or plan to be – Homeland Security’s new Trusted Traveler Programs (TTP) System website is your cyber destination for managing Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI and The Free and Secure Trade (FAST) programs. The four TTP programs are great time savers for frequent travelers who have been pre-approved and are considered low-risk. They also represent a process of security checks that make it extremely difficult for someone to steal personal identities.

Registering through the TTP site is your one-stop center for all of the programs, although it’s not likely most of you will use all of them. If you have used any of them before, you’ll need to re-register. If you’re not familiar with them, here are quick descriptions:

  • Global Entry is for travel back into the Unites States At selected airports, you go to a designated kiosk, present your machine-readable passport or U.S. permanent resident card, place your fingerprints on the scanner for fingerprint verification and complete a customs declaration. You get a transaction receipt and go to baggage claim and the exit. You must be pre-approved for the program. All applicants undergo a rigorous background check and in-person interview before enrollment.
  • NEXUS expedites processing when entering the United States and Canada. You use dedicated NEXUS kiosks when entering Canada by air and Global Entry kiosks when entering the United States via Canadian Preclearance airports. You also receive expedited processing at marine reporting locations.
  • SENTRI (Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection) expedites clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. Participants may enter the United States by using dedicated primary lanes into the United States at southern land border ports. It’s primarily for travel from Mexico.
  • FAST (Free and Secure Trade) is a commercial clearance program for known low-risk shipments entering the United States from Canada and Mexico by truck. It expedites processing for commercial carriers who have completed background checks and fulfill certain eligibility requirements. The majority of dedicated FAST lanes are located in northern border ports in Michigan, New York and Washington and at southern border ports from California to Texas. Participation in FAST requires that every link in the supply chain, from manufacturer to carrier to driver to importer, is certified under the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) program.

If you already participate in one of the programs, you’ll have to go through a new registration process, which is an admitted ordeal, and you’ll need your PASSID number, which should be on any membership cards you have for the program or on any notification letters you might have received.

To start the re-registration process, go to https://ttp.cbp.dhs.gov/, log in, go to Manage My Membership and then Consent and Continue. Eventually, you’ll be redirected to a page where you’ll need to create an account. You’ll need to enter your email address, and then you’ll receive a confirmation. If all goes well, you’ll need to enter a password – a strong one – and you’ll need to provide a phone number (mobile is better) as part of the new website’s two-factor authentication process.

Through the process, you’ll be given a “personal key” that you should write down and keep with you. It’s your backup in case something goes wrong in your two-factor authentication scheme. After that, you’ll be redirected to the new TTP registration site, where you’ll need to enter personal information and your PASSID.

It’s a lot of work, but it’s a process that comes as close as anything I’ve seen to having both convenience and protection – once you go through all the gyrations to set it up. It has two-factor authentication and a secure back-up process, and the end result is convenience and time-saving at a place where it’s important for travelers and shippers.

We hope this helps you see the value of two-factor authentication. While secure borders are a top priority for our country, securing your personal data should be a top priority for you. Spending a few minutes early on can pay big dividends later. If you have questions about your security and setting up a two-factor authentication system, call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us for help.

Are You Printing Invitations to Your System?

Printers have been fingered as the weak link in many business and home networks. Most small businesses and home users tend to run their printers into the ground, and the longer they hang around without the latest firmware updates, the more vulnerable they are to a cyber-attack.

You can stop printing invitations to intruders – even with your current, old printer. Let’s start with the firmware. Simply go to your printer manufacturer’s support website and you can see all the firmware and driver updates available for download and installation.

Whether your printer is on a home network or small business network, make sure your firewall software is up to date and that you have a strong, secure network password for each printer. It’s too easy, especially in an office, to use a simple password that everyone can remember and hackers can figure out. And too many, especially in an office, keep their passwords stuck to monitors, where anyone walking by can see them. Your employees and/or family members just need to bite the bullet and remember a strong password – and keep that knowledge to themselves. It’s also worth noting, too, that sometimes the printers don’t even have those default passwords; they have none at all.

You can further restrict access to your printers by properly managing your printer settings and ports. Just as we’ve seen everything related to the IoT, printers can be shipped with default settings controlling printers and default port assignments. Any third-rate hacker can figure them out. You can and should change them immediately when you set the printers up to work on your networks.

Some manufacturers are recognizing the role they can play in protecting your printers. HP recently introduced its Connection Inspector for enterprise systems, and we can only hope the company and other manufacturers start incorporating similar tools for small businesses and homes.

The new tool is designed primarily to combat malware intrusions through printers by looking at unusual behavior on network traffic going to a printer. It learns what “normal” traffic looks like, and when it detects malicious activity, it can immediately go into a protected mode, stopping any further unfamiliar or unusual requests and sending a warning to IT administrators. It can even trigger a reboot of the printer.

We’ll keep an eye on developments in printer security to let you know when tools like Connection Inspector become available for you. There should be an incentive to develop them because more and more professional services corporations and families, especially those with school-age children, rely on remote and/or wireless access to printers to create hard copies of information in a corporate database or a collaborative research project.

In the meantime, we can help you tighten your printer security by looking at your machine’s settings and ports and checking your network’s security, too. We can also help you with the installation of firmware and driver updates. Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us for an appointment. It’s time to make sure you’re printing documents, not invitations to enter the inner sanctum of your system.

‘KRACKing’ Your Wi-Fi Network

KRACK is an ominously named crypto attack that exploits a flaw in the process of connecting a device and a Wi-Fi network. By allowing network access without the password, effectively it opens up the possibility of exposing credit card information, passwords, and practically any other data on your device. Here’s how to protect yourself – somewhat.

Using WPA2 security, the standard of protection for the past 13 years, is still the way to go, and setting a strong, secure password is just as important as it ever was. But it’s like a lock on your front door. Locks, according to conventional wisdom, keep out honest people. But a lock that’s strong enough to delay a would-be thief was thought to still be effective.

That was until KRACK (Key Reinstallation Attack) was discovered. It exploits a flaw in the four-way handshake process between a user’s device trying to connect and a Wi-Fi network, allowing an attacker to access a network without the password. It’s an equal-opportunity attack, too. It can affect Android, Linux, Apple, Windows, OpenBSD, MediaTek, Linksys and others, but the most current versions of Windows and iOS devices are not as susceptible to attacks because of how Microsoft and Apple implemented WPA2. Linux and Android-based devices are more vulnerable to KRACK.

Fortunately, it’s not a helpless situation. Attacks can only be successful when someone has access to the wireless network you’re on at the time of the attack. That means you need to be especially careful on public networks. You can further help yourself by:

  • Making sure you’re up to date with all available security patches
  • Using a VPN, which will encrypt your internet traffic
  • Visiting only websites that use HTTPS, though it’s not a guarantee you’ll be safe.

We’ll keep you updated on developments against KRACK, and we can help you now by taking a look at your systems and security to make sure you’ve maximized your protection. Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us for an appointment.