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BT Openzone – An undisciplined, unfettered nuisance

By : fursey |General |Comments Off

For purely selfish commercial purposes, BT have set up a nationwide unsecured wireless network in the UK. If you are a BT subscriber, this means you can get Wi-Fi just about anywhere. I presume you have to pay extra for this privilege, but while this might be good news for some BT customers, this network is an undisciplined, unfettered nuisance for the rest of us.

I first encountered this network using my iPhone. Although I have a certain allowance with BT Openzone per month as part of my plan, I found that I never could log in, so I now rarely try to connect. However, BT Openzone (as well as other BT networks like BT FON) is everywhere and my phone is constantly trying, and failing, to connect. This behaviour is a nuisance, but the iPhone can ‘forget’ networks, so this problem can be solved easily.

Much more serious is the effect a strong, unencrypted wireless network can have on unsuspecting users  in their homes. For some reason I can’t fathom, wireless devices prefer to connect to unencrypted networks and will do so without your permission, preferring unencrypted networks like Openzone to encrypted networks which are now standard in the home, especially if you have received your router free from your internet provider (ISP).  If your home wireless router goes on the blink or you haven’t configured it properly, you are likely to connect to Openzone or FON rather than your own network. Both Windows and Mac machines will then register that you are connected to a strong signal; it’s only when you try and surf the net that the problems start.

A lot of the time Openzone will not relay the internet as you are not a subscriber, and your browser will show an error message.  Often, though, it will show an Openzone  or BT FON homepage. Here, they will ask for money to connect you to the internet, which is terrible – you are already paying your ISP for your internet. This has confused more than one client – one went six months paying BT before calling me in.

So watch out – if you cannot connect to the internet, check you are connected to your own network. If a page appears asking you to pay for internet access – don’t.

 

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Internet Security – Three Steps to Heaven

By : fursey |General |Comments Off

Eddie Cochran once had a hit with a song called 3 Steps to Heaven. Step one, as you may or may not recall, was to find someone to love, step two was for that someone to fall in love with you and step three was to kiss and hold her tightly, which is not a bad idea at all :)

If you want to love your computer and avoid the terrifying trojans out there which can cause you to lose control of your own machine, then there are also three steps to heaven:

Step one:

Update Windows, or just as importantly, allow Windows to update itself. Normally, there an icon in the bottom right hand side of the screen. For Windows XP it’s a yellow shield with an exclamation mark in it and for Vista and Windows 7 it’s a turquoise coloured rectangle. Double click on any of these icons to start the update process. This is important as most updates are issued by Microsoft as a reponse to the latest security problems.

Step two:

Make sure you have an anti-virus (AV) program installed – in my opinion, free AV is just as effective as paid AV. Whatever version you have, make sure it is up to date, by allowing updates in a similar fashion to Step one.

Step three:

Use a specialised anti-spyware program, update it and run it yourself on a regular basis. Two such programs stand out: SuperAntiSpyware and Malwarebytes Antimalware, both silly names, both great programs. This is the most important step as only these programs will catch the bugs most AV programs miss. An excellent guide to using Malwarebytes is here.

If you follow these steps, you can ramble through the Internet without a care in the world, and as Eddie would sing, ‘That sure sounds like Heaven to me’. Email me if you have any questions about this.

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