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eThinker Newsletter April 2017 

    Microchip implants: The technology is hardly new. We've been implanting chips into our pets and domestic livestock for years. The concept is not even new for humans, at least in terms of conspiracy theories and spy thrillers. The Manchurian Candidate (2004) comes to mind.
     But it has lately taken another step into reality, thanks to a company in Sweden called Epicenter. Starting about three years ago, Epicenter began holding small "implant parties" for people to pay $150 to have a radio-frequency identification (RFID) chip inserted into their hands. The benefit is that the chip can replace keys, key fobs, business cards, and more, by storing the data in the microchip and then recovering it from the appropriate smartphone or scanner.
     The downside is called a slippery slope. It's not the spy-fi danger of being tracked while you're on the run. The chips can't send signals, so they can only be used as a locator device if your smartphone is close to hand -- in which case the smartphone itself might be sufficient for the job. The problem here is that you can lose the smartphone. The chip would require minor surgery.
     But there are other privacy issues at stake. If your boss or government can pressure you into being "chipped," can they then harvest and analyze the data to learn more about your personal life than anyone has a right to know? Somehow the convenience of being able to wave your hand in front of a lock instead of digging out the key just doesn't seem worth it.


Paul Fountas
MicroComputer Resources, Inc.
Printers Now Vulnerable to Hacking
    Who would hack a printer? According to a recent ZDNet article, that's the latest security weakness to be exploited. It's not the actual paper and toner that's being targeted, but the endpoints that connect the printer or other peripheral device to your server.
     One hacking incident involving a printer was uncovered by an organization after officials noticed the same competitor was constantly winning jobs and taking clients from that organization.
     Ben Vivoda, director of printing systems for HP South Pacific, has warned that over 70 percent of successful hacking events last year began with an endpoint device. "Vulnerabilities are being exposed in all kinds of network attached devices, including the humble network printer," he said. "Typically, we're seeing the printer gets left out and overlooked and left exposed."
     One reason for this is that print devices are more complex than they used to be. Another is the sheer amount of success in locking down the hitherto more vulnerable areas of the network. Hackers are finding it harder to make it through the usual gateways, and have searched out other vulnerabilities. It's like "dead bolting the front door, but leaving half the windows open," Vivoda said.

Microsoft Releases Latest Win10 Version,
But Old Windows Version Won't Leave Stage
    This month Microsoft began uploading its third Windows 10 refresh, the Creators Update, to the over 400 million devices that run Windows 10. The rollout will be done in phases over the next one or two months, with the newer devices being first in line.
     New innovations in the Windows 10 Creators Update include 3D in Windows 10, built-in game broadcasting, a new tab preview function and other features in Microsoft Edge, and enhanced security features such as a new Microsoft privacy dashboard.
     The tab preview will be of particular use to the multi-tasker who is culling information from a number of websites in Microsoft Edge. Whereas you could view a thumbnail shot of the page by hovering over the tab with the mouse, you will now be able to click a button to see all thumbnails at once. Another function lets you store the lot if you need to work on them later.
     While Microsoft forges ahead with Windows 10, there are still a load of customers out there who aren't having it. According to a recent ZDNet report, Windows 7 still runs 69 percent of the business PCs, while another 14 percent cling stubbornly to XP. Understandable, since both were excellent systems, though XP is no longer supported.
     Harder to explain is the one percent still running on Vista, which is also no longer supported. Vista? Really?

In This Issue
Printers Now Vulnerable to Hacking

Microsoft Releases Latest Win10 Version

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It's a global economy, and it is possible that not all of your customers and business partners speak English. To help with this situation, Microsoft has just released a brand-new, and free, version of its Outlook translator app. This app will translate any emailed text displayed in the Outlook inbox into another language. Click here for more information.
Fun Facts
Emails and chat lines at work are not private – most employees know that by now. But now there's a chance that the digital monitoring may be done, well, digitally. There is a new AI-based tool called Vibe which can be turned loose on messages to ferret out the employee's state of mind, and to warn management that morale is getting bad. No mention on whether the plummeting morale is due to the feeling that someone's been snooping.
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