Feb 062018

A Message from the Common Table

February 4, 2018

We had a lively discussion last month about how to approach buying a new computer. I can’t wait to see what Maryanne purchased when she went shopping.

I still have an Apple MacBook Pro notebook that has been on my dining room table for over 10 years now, not the same one, it has been replaced a time or two. I have always used the free “Office” software on it. At first it was Open Office and when it was not updated a few years ago to work better with Microsoft Office, I switched to LibreOffice. I have written this column with Writer (LibreOffice) for many years. This writing is different; I have access to a Microsoft Office 365 account. I have installed the latest Word 2016 and that software is in use at this very instant. I could have used Notepad on a Windows computer, but that would not be adventurous at all, maybe WordPad? Do all of you remember that program?

This month we will be discussing all things about office productivity software. We will cover Google Docs, all the Microsoft products and my favorite “free to use software” such as LibreOffice and Open Office. Please bring all your questions about “Office”.

We also will discuss the issue about Spectre and Meltdown. I’m sure by now the news has you very afraid to even turn any of your computing devices on, much less to use them. Don’t be too afraid, just come to the meeting and find out why.

I hope to see all of you at the meeting.

Galen Bolin
President, PCCC

Kaspersky and the KGB?

I thought I had recently heard comment from reputable resources in reference to specifics that Kaspersky Labs was actively providing inappropriate support to the Russian government. In attempt to confirm my memory, this has become a snipe hunt for hard information. The most recent media reference I could find was an article* in early January from The Wall Street Journal.

Most of the specific incidents of Kaspersky interfering with US government activities were along the line of exposing NSA-created software as malware. It’s incidental that those items do appear as malware and exposing it is the task of antimalware software. This included reporting on the Stuxnet virus and tracing it to the clandestine group that created it.

In 2015 Israeli intelligence shared with their US counterparts that, by invading Kaspersky’s networks, they discovered it was scanning computers for classified content. In fact, an NSA worker had copied the information to his home computer where a Kaspersky product identified it as new malware and copied it to be analyzed. When its nature was confirmed, Eugene Kaspersky himself ordered it deleted from the company’s computers.

The rest of the story follows along the line of “we don’t want Russians (any Russians) in the government, so ban their products (no more Smirnoff or Stoli at the White House).

The most damning implication from the reports goes along the line of: “Kaspersky Labs makes most of its money from foreign sales. They are based in Moscow and have mostly Russian coders. Surely the Russian government can put pressure on the company to do their dirty work as a requirement to stay in business.”

Kaspersky antimalware products regularly receive high ratings. If you are, or are considering, being one of their clients and have the same reservations some in Washington do; there are many other comparable products. The PCCC president has recently discovered that Sophos has a free version for home users and is recommending it. And, of course, there’s always the adequate, efficient, and conveniently pre-installed Windows Defender (Win 7 users have to explicitly install Windows Security Essentials). As always, remove your existing antimalware before activating another product.


For more in the media, see the footnotes at the end of the Wikipedia article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaspersky_Lab</>

Bill Barnes, PCCC

The PCCC meets at the BBB in Matthews.
Maps and directions are below.
Join us with your bag supper at 5:30 or the meeting at 6:30.

The PCCC meets at the BBB, in Matthews. The location is 9719 Northeast Parkway, Suite 300, Matthews. Northeast Parkway runs behind Windsor Square Shopping Center on Independence Blvd. The BBB is in a new office condo which may not be well marked; approximately across from Kohl’s back entrance.


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