Thursday, December 29, 2016

T-Mobile has officially killed all Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones - Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T will do the same next week.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 holdouts will soon have dead phones.

T-Mobile released an update yesterday to prevent Note 7 users from charging devices, rendering them useless. Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T will roll out similar updates next week.

The move will force the hands of those who have not yet traded in the faulty device to finally get an alternative.

Samsung announced the US based battery killing program earlier in this month. Verizon initially said it wouldn't participate due to "added risk" for users without alternate phones, but the company changed its mind and will push an update on January 5.

Carriers killing the Note 7 is the grand finale of the exploding phone debacle that began with a massive recall of Samsung's flagship devices. In September, the company recalled millions of Note 7 phones after a battery issue caused some to catch fire or even explode.

Most users already exchanged their phones. According to Samsung, about 93% of Note 7 devices have been returned in the US.

Samsung also limited the Note 7 battery charging in Canada earlier this month. The devices are currently unable connect to any Canadian mobile network.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Tech we lost 2016: RIP Vine, the headphone jack, Galaxy Note7, the VCR, the Nexus Brand, and Pebble smart watch.

This year gave us some of our favorite tech yet, but it wasn't good news for all.

As with every year, companies went out of business, apps shut down and tech toys disappeared from store shelves for good.

The Headphone Jack

Yes, technically the 3.5mm jack is still around, but Apple's "courageous"
decision to jettison the venerable audio port from the iPhone 7 is already inspiring other manufacturers (HTC and Motorola among them) to do the same. Its days are definitely numbered.

The vision of a wireless future in which headphones no longer tether us to our devices, providing audio connections that are crystal-clear and reliable is compelling. But in the present, it's hard to see this cordless nirvana through all the dongles.


Vine’s death came as no surprise to the community of creators who for a long time called it their creative home. But many were still disappointed when Twitter announced plans to axe the video app it acquired in 2013. In its heyday, many big name digital influencers rose to fame thanks to Vine. However, Twitter recently said it plans to keep Vine alive (kind of) with a pared-down Vine Camera app.

Galaxy Note7

For a brief moment, Samsung was unstoppable. The company launched its Galaxy Note7 to glowing reviews. Mashable even called it the best smartphone on the planet
before rescinding its Mashable Choice award. The Note7 had everything you could want in a beautiful, premium phone, including a headphone jack. But the ambitious phone, aimed at taking down Apple's iPhone 7, literally went up in flames almost as fast as it rocketed to the top.

Defective batteries and an extremely ambitious design with tight tolerances are believed to be the causes for the Note7's death. Though we’ll never know if the Note7 would have turned the tide in Android’s favor, here’s to hoping Samsung learned some valuable lessons and the Note 8 is a safer phone for all.


If you've never had to handle a VCR tape before, you're missing out. In July, Japan's Funai Electric, the world's last surviving VCR maker, wound down its production of the dated video cassette recording format 40 years after the first VCR was made.

Funai, which started making VCRs 30 years ago, used to sell tens of millions of the devices at the format's peak, but could only move 750,000 last year. VCRs were a hallmark of home recording, allowing people to tape what was airing on TV. In the '90s, it's been estimated that 95 percent of U.S. homes had one.

Nexus Brand

Sorry Android enthusiasts, it looks like there will never be another Nexus-branded phone. Launched back in 2010 with the Nexus One, the brand that was once synonymous with Google and Android is no more. With the launch of the Pixel phones this year, Google made it clear it no longer wants to share the spotlight with its hardware partners.


The watch that “kickstarted” the smartwatch craze is no more. What started out as a simple idea turned into a movement and eventually became the poster boy for Kickstarter.

Despite launching a new generation of smartwatches this July and holding the record for three of the four most funded Kickstarter projects of all time, Pebble’s days were numbered as the company struggled to stay afloat. Fitbit ended up scooping it up , but even that company wasn't interested in Pebble's hardware.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Facebook is finally taking action against fake news!

After an election season infused with hoax stories, more than a month of global outcry and at least one real-world incident of gun violence in the US, Facebook is finally stepping up to combat the spread of fake news. 

The social network has announced that it will work with fact-checking outlets to label fake stories, flagged by users, as “disputed.”
Now before sharing a fake story on the site, you’ll get a warning that its accuracy has been disputed. To find out why, you’ll be able to click a link for a fact-check of the article.

The updates are rolling out this week, so you won’t see the disputed flags right away, but expect them shortly.

Facebook also announced several other steps that chief executive Mark Zuckerberg had hinted at in a post last month.

It’s too early to know whether these efforts will be effective in combating the problem, which is perhaps larger in scope than many initially realized.

The company is finally coming to terms with the fake news problem. For now, Facebook will be working only with Snopes,, Politifact, ABC News and the Associated Press, but hopes to add more as the site figures out what works.

While other sites, including Reddit and Twitter, have made some moves recently to combat fake news and vile trolling, Facebook is the last one to do so.

With its 1.8 billion monthly users, Facebook is a critical platform for news distribution. News websites now get a majority of their traffic from Facebook, as internet users switch from visiting home pages on desktops to using apps on their mobile devices. In the U.S., 44% of American adults get news on Facebook (source).

Friday, December 16, 2016

Important Yahoo warning - close down any Yahoo accounts you have NOW!

Yahoo just announced another security breach where a whopping billion accounts were hacked. This is the second time in a matter of months that Yahoo has announced a security breach - what an epic fail! This latest hack is being hailed the largest in history, according to CNBC (source).

The forensic investigation is still going on, but it is highly likely that the bad guys initially got in through a spear phishing attack with a spoofed 'From' address. These types of attacks are hard to spot and employees tend to fall for them. 

At this point, Yahoo has fallen down on security in so many ways that we are now advising all our clients who have an active Yahoo email account, either direct with Yahoo of via a partner like AT&T, get rid of it. And in case you have employees who check their Yahoo account on lunch breaks... it's time to put Yahoo on the block list of your firewall and all filtering software & devices.

Here's some hints and tips for Yahoo account owners....
  1. Before you delete the account, get rid of all the folders and only then delete the account and open a free gmail account instead.
  2. Check if you have used your Yahoo password in other sites, and change the password and security questions for those accounts. And remember, never reuse your email password (or any other password tied to an account that holds sensitive data about you) at any other site.
  3. If you used a mobile phone number in association with your Yahoo account, and you still use that mobile phone number, then SMS phishing (a.k.a. Smishing) is now a distinct possibility, so be very wary of this.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Is your iPhone shutting down with 30% battery remaining? You're not alone.

Various Apple users have complained in recent weeks that the latest iOS update has caused their iPhones to turn off faster than normal.

You can see a sample of the complaints in this 13-page thread in the Apple forums (here), but the gist of what's being said is that, after updating to iOS 10.1 (or iOS 10.1.1), certain iPhone models are shutting down as if they are devoid of battery, even while their battery indicators say they have about 30% battery left.

When these iPhones are plugged back in, they quickly jump back to that 30% mark.

The conditions of the issue seem to vary. The complaints suggest the point of shutdown could be slightly higher or lower than 30% and that the iPhone 6s, the iPhone 6s Plus, the iPhone 6, and the iPhone 5s have been affected.

Earlier in November, Apple announced a free battery-replacement program for users experiencing “unexpected shutdown issues" — suggesting the problem is hardware-related — but it said the problem affected only "a very small number of iPhone 6s devices" manufactured from September to October 2015.

As a result, only a select number of devices are eligible to receive a new battery. (Be sure to check your eligibility here). With more than just iPhone 6s devices seeming to suffer from unexpected shutdowns, though, there's a chance that some iPhone owners are stuck with a faulty battery, with no apparent fix for the time being.

It's worth remembering that grumbles over iPhone battery issues are nothing new. An endless array of factors could cause a phone's battery to behave strangely, from buggy apps to hardware stress to basic user neglect. Some users have reported similar unexpected shutdown issues with iOS 8 and iOS 9 updates in the past, too, so again, we can't say if iOS itself is specifically at fault.

Still, while most iPhone owners don't appear to be affected, iOS 10 has not been immune to bugs since its public release in September, and there at least seems to be something worth noting here.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Sick of fake news? Here's five tips on how to spot it online.

A growing number of websites are espousing misinformation or flat-out lies, raising concerns that falsehoods are going viral over social media without any mechanism to separate fact from fiction. And there is a legitimate fear that some readers can't tell the difference. A study released by Stanford University found that 82 percent of middle schoolers couldn't spot authentic news sources from ads labeled as "sponsored content."

The disconnect between true and false has been a boon for companies trying to turn a quick profit.
There are more of these sites now because there's an awareness that people can create fake news sites and make money from the ads. A few years ago, we were mostly dealing with people who were misinformed, but not malicious.

The rise of scammers has ensnared two of the world's largest internet companies, Facebook and Google, in controversy over their role in giving fake news such an influential platform.

Here are some tips on how to spot fake news:
  1. Stay away from sites with suspicious-looking web addresses, like those ending in .tk, .lo or
  2. Pay attention to the article's author. If there's no byline on a story, or there is only one author for every post on the entire website, watch out. It may be an imposter.
  3. Be wary of news sites that host bloggers without any clear editorial or fact-checking process.
  4. Check if there's an "about me" section on the website. This makes it easier to spot whether the news source is legitimate.
  5. Get your news from a variety of places. The best way to ensure that you're not scammed by fake news is to read from a diverse array of news sources, and not just what pops up on a Facebook feed.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Forget old school alarm systems! This drone security system is sure to protect your valuables!

A new startup wants to turn drones into guardian angels for our homes.

Sunflower Labs - with headquarters in Silicon Valley and Zurich, Switzerland - announced a new security system on Thursday that detects possible threats and investigates them with a drone.

The drone streams video to your smartphone, so you can see and decide if your home is at risk or not.

Sunflower Labs, which is now accepting participant applications, will start beta tests in mid-2017. The startup sees itself as a complement to traditional alarms.

Here's how it works: The Sunflower Home Awareness System relies on the drone and a handful of in-ground smart lights to watch over your house. It detects motion, vibration and sound. By analyzing this data, the system can distinguish between a human, a car and animals. To do so, it uses artificial intelligence to identify the disturbance and determine if it's potentially dangerous. For example, trusted visitors such as mail delivery persons will be recognized by how they approach the home and how long they stand at the front door.

When a person approaches and lingers outside the back door, Sunflower Labs will send a push notification to your smartphone and ask if you'd like to investigate.

If you say yes, the drone will lift off from its perch - on a balcony, deck or patio - and fly to where the suspicious person is located. The drone hovers 30 feet above the visitor until you tell it to return to its nest. The app includes an option for a home owner to notify local police.

False alarms are a common problem for home alarm systems. CEO Alex Pachikov expects sending the drone to investigate before calling the police will solve this issue. The system also has the benefit of keeping an eye on all of your property. Most alarm systems are set up to guard only the entries and exits to a home.

The propellers automatically shut off if they hit anything and are designed to be quiet due to its broad size.

The drone currently weighs almost two pounds, but the company wants to get it down to half a pound before it ships. It also features two cameras and only collects footage of a home owner's property to protect neighbors' privacy.

The price to use the system is unclear as of now, but the lights are expected to cost $159 each. Meanwhile, the drone can be rented for a fee, comparable to what traditional alarm systems cost.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Our new has officially launched!

Who likes a lengthy website address? Certainly not us....we have enough information to remember!

As of today, we have officially launched the website. Simply type or into your web browser and you will be sent to the main page of our blog.

We made the change because it's much easier for all our readers. Not only that, but it's more secure. From now on, all the blog posts you see on social media will begin with the URL

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Hungry? Look up in the sky - there could be a pizza over your head right now!

You can call it pie in the sky, but pizza delivery is now a real thing -- at least in the Land Down Under.

Domino's Pizza Enterprises said Wednesday it had completed what it called the world's first delivery of a pizza to a customer in New Zealand. Under the watch of a team of drone experts, the unmanned aerial vehicle used GPS navigation to autonomously deliver Peri-Peri Chicken and Chicken and Cranberry pizzas to a backyard in Whangaparaoa, about 20 miles north of Auckland.

Drones have grown in popularity among big retailers such as Amazon and Walmart, which are continually looking for new ways to get a jump on the competition and attract customers. The small, commercial aerial drones could avoid the delays of terrestrial deliveries by flying above traffic and avoiding circuitous roadways.

"They can avoid traffic congestion and traffic lights, and safely reduce the delivery time and distance by traveling directly to customers' homes," Domino's Group CEO Don Meij said in a statement. "This is the future."

Domino's plans to use the information gathered from these flights to expand the service to Australia, Belgium, France, The Netherlands, Japan and Germany.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

A folding iPhone could be in your future...Apple has been granted a patent on a design for a bendable phone.

Some have dissed the iPhone 7 for being too similar to the 6S. But a new patent shows that Apple may have an interesting direction for a future iPhone.

The US Patent and Trademark Office granted a patent to Apple on Tuesday for a bendable or foldable iPhone, according to Patently Apple, which was first to report the news. It looks as though such a design has been on Apple's mind for a while. The company applied in 2014 for the patent titled "Electronic devices with carbon nanotube printed circuits," according to the USPTO.

Although a folding iPhone sounds like it could be fun, there's not telling when or if this idea will come to fruition. Samsung, for instance, in April of this year was granted a patent for contact lens augmented-reality displays, but that technology seems awhile away.

This illustration, according to Apple's patent filing, shows a "device that bends along a flexible portion such as a flexible seam associated with a hinge."

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Can we please stop falling for this Facebook privacy hoax?

We've been debunking this hoax for seven years now, and here we are doing it again.

No, Facebook hasn't changed its privacy settings.
No, what you post doesn't belong to Facebook now. 
A note is doing the Facebook rounds claiming, yet again, that you need to post a legal gibberish to your status or you'll lose copyright control of your pictures and other content you share with your family and friends. 
Here's part of what you're supposed to post:
"The content of this profile is private and confidential information. The violation of privacy can be punished by law (UCC 1-308- 1 1 308-103 and the Rome Statute). NOTE: Facebook is now a public entity. All members must post a note like this. If you prefer, you can copy and paste this version. If you do not publish a statement at least once it will be tactically allowing the use of your photos, as well as the information contained in the profile status updates. DO NOT SHARE. Copy and paste."
Please. Don't.
We get that you don't want Facebook to own your weird bathroom selfies, but you need to stop sharing this post. 
It's not true. 
"Anyone who uses Facebook owns and controls the content and information they post, as stated in our terms. They control how that content and information is shared. That is our policy, and it always has been," Facebook said in a statement.
If you're still skeptical, try reading Facebook's actual terms of know that contract that you blindly agree to when you sign up.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Scam of the week: Brad Pitt found dead!

The divorce between Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie has been used by the bad guys for a "celebrity death hoax" which unfortunately is high-grade click bait.

A new celebrity death scam reared its ugly head. The bad guys claim that Brad Pitt has committed suicide because of the recent Angelina Jolie divorce. The scam is currently on Facebook but you can expect emails with links for "more details" and / or attachments that claim it is a video of his last moments. There are several versions that claim he hanged himself, died in a shooting range or from a substance overdose.

You might even get text messages to your smartphone that try to trick you into going to a site with the exclusive pictures of his death. If you see any social media posts or get emails with links or attachments, do not click on anything, do not open attachments or reply, and if it is social media, do not touch and do not share or forward. These bad guys will use anything to shock and trick you into clicking.

Do not fall for any of it! And if you do, call IES immediately at 781-816-9437 for a scan of your computer.

Above: example of the latest click bait - as seen on Facebook.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Yahoo hack: It's not just Verizon; AT&T customers should be worried too.

The massive hack that Yahoo disclosed last week is a headache for Verizon, the telecom giant set to take ownership of the company early next year.

Rival AT&T should be nervous too...

That's because many AT&T customers get the option to use a Yahoo Mail account to manage services like home broadband, wireless and pay-television services.

It's the outgrowth of a partnership from 15 years ago between Yahoo and AT&T (then called SBC Communications), bringing AT&T broadband customers to Yahoo's search engine and media services, including Yahoo Mail. At the time, critics hailed the deal as a landmark partnership that would better combat the growing power of AOL and Microsoft's MSN portal.

Today, AOL is part of Verizon, Microsoft's MSN is no more and AT&T likely isn't feeling so great about the deal.

Yahoo said Thursday that the hack compromised at least half a billion accounts containing user names, email addresses and passwords. That makes it the biggest attack ever. US Senator Mark Warner has asked the Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate the matter.                                    
The hack puts AT&T in an uncomfortable position. The company is still waiting for data from Yahoo on the specific customers who may have been affected, according to a person familiar with their dealings.

"We began investigating immediately and requested information from Yahoo necessary to determine which email accounts may have been compromised," the company said in a statement. "In the meantime, we are in the process of notifying potentially affected customers."

Chances are, a significant number of AT&T customers are affected.

AT&T was in the middle of breaking up with Yahoo before the attack, having announced in May that it would instead tap Synacor to handle its internet and mobile portal business.
The loss of the deal, worth an estimated $100 million a year, came at a time when chatter had heated up over potential suitors for Yahoo. AT&T was among the rumored bidders, but Verizon snagged the internet pioneer with a $4.8 billion offer.

For now, AT&T is offering little advice to its customers beyond the standard line: regularly change your passwords.

That, along with these other tips, is advice everyone should heed.

Monday, September 26, 2016

This is what you should do if your Yahoo account was hacked.

The company said on Thursday at least 500 million user accounts were affected by a massive data breach. The hack happened in 2014, when "state-sponsored actor" stole account information, including names, emails, passwords, telephone numbers and answers to some security questions.

So what should you do if you have a Yahoo account?

First and foremost, you'll want to change your password immediately. All Yahoo account holders should also change their security questions and answers.

If your account is one Yahoo suspects was compromised, you'll be prompted to enter a new password as soon as you log on. If you used the same password on other accounts, change those, too.

Here are other steps to take to secure your online accounts.

Change passwords often
Yahoo is asking anyone who hasn't changed their password since 2014 to update it. This is good advice for everyone: Passwords should be changed often. You won't always get a timely notice from a company that an account was compromised -- and sometimes it might not even know about a hack until much later. In this case, it took two years for the company to confirm the breach.

Never use the same password twice
If hackers get the password for one of your online accounts, they can try to use it to access your other accounts that take the same credentials.

Pick better passwords
Consider using a phrase instead of single words that are more easily guessed. Don't go for common phrases like cliches: Pick a combination of words that don't go together -- i.e. rather than "herecomesthesun," go for something like "waterfiresnowsunshine".

Avoid using common passwords like 1-2-3-4-5-6 or p-a-s-s-w-o-r-d, and include a mixture of numbers, letters and characters.

Use a password manager
Since strong unique passwords are a huge pain to memorize, try a password manager like 1Password or LastPass. These platforms generate and store passwords and security answers for every account you have, so you only have to remember a single master password.

Update those security questions
If you forget a password, using security questions is an easy way to gain access back into your own account -- its not like you'll ever forget your mom's maiden name. But some Yahoo security answers and questions were a part of the breach. The company has already disabled any unencrypted security answers on its accounts.

If you frequently use the same security questions and answers for other online accounts, you'll want to change those, as well. Attackers could use the information taken from Yahoo to obtain access to other online accounts that contain even more sensitive information.

Avoid choosing the obvious questions and don't provide answers that are easy to find online through Google searches or social media sites.

Be alert
The company is urging users to look through their Yahoo accounts (email, calendar, groups, etc.) for any signs of suspicious activity. Although it doesn't say what to look for, start by checking outgoing emails.

Be extra careful about clicking on links or opening downloads from unknown email addresses. If anyone emails asking for your password, it's a red flag -- even if it looks like it's coming from a legitimate place like Yahoo or a bank. Never share any account information or passwords over email.

Turn on two-factor authentication
On its own, a password isn't a strong line of defense. Adding a second type of authentication, like a one-time code sent over text message or generated by an app, can greatly secure your online accounts.

Yahoo is recommending people turn on its two-factor authentication tool: Yahoo Account Key. It even eliminates the need to memorize a Yahoo password.

If you use the Yahoo Android or iOS app, log in to your account, go to your profile and select Account Key. You can also set it up in a web browser. Each time you try to access your account, Yahoo will send a confirmation to your phone.

While it's certainly an extra step, make it a part of your daily routine. Next time there's a story about a massive data breach, you'll be glad you did.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

HP detonates its time bomb: printers stop accepting third party ink.

On September 13, owners of HP OfficeJet, OfficeJet Pro and OfficeJet Pro X began contacting third-party ink vendors by the thousand, reporting that their HP printers no longer accepted third-party ink.

The last HP printer firmware update was pushed in March 2016, and it appears that with that update (or possibly an earlier one), HP had set a time-bomb ticking in its customers' printers counting down to the date when they'd begin refusing to follow their owners' orders.

HP says that the March update's purpose was "to protect HP's innovations and intellectual property."

In 2003, Lexmark (then an IBM division) sued Static Controls, saying that the company had violated Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act by reverse-engineering its toner cartridges and refilling old ones that could successfully pass Lexmark's checks for valid, full cartridges.

Lexmark had an "I am empty" bit in their cartridges; when the cartridge ran out of toner, the bit flipped to "true." Even if you refilled your cartridge, your printer wouldn't use it, because it saw the cartridge as empty. Static Controls figured out how to flip that bit back to "false."

Lexmark invoked Section 1201 of the DMCA, which makes it a criminal and civil offense to bypass an "effective means of access control" for a copyrighted work. The DC Circuit court asked Lexmark which copyrighted work was being protected by its access control, and it argued that the checking routine itself was copyrighted, as well as the "Empty" bit. The court found that the DMCA could only be invoked where there was a copyrighted work apart from the access control, and that a single bit didn't qualify as a copyrightable work. Lexmark lost.

HP will likely raise similar arguments when, inevitably, its competitors start making cartridges that trick your printer into obeying you, rather than HP. But there's a potential difference between HP and Lexmark: namely that HP cartridges now have lots of copyrighted software, not just "I am empty" bits and access control systems.

This isn't just true of HP cartridges: software, and access controls that give manufacturers the legal right to reach into your home and boss you around via your gadgets, has proliferated into pacemakers, insulin pumps and implanted defibrillators; into thermostats, baby monitors, and home security systems; into cars and tractors; into voting machines and seismic dampers in skyscrapers.

One thing is for sure...if you buy ink through IES, you would not have noticed this change. We sell only certified HP branded products at a discount. Call or email us today for a quote! 781-816-9437 /

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

What to do with a wet iPhone 7.

Apple's newest smartphones, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, are water resistant - which means they're designed to withstand a bit of wetness but aren't meant for underwater use. They can handle being submerged under a meter of water for up to 30 minutes, but it's not officially recommended.

However, if you do get the smartphone wet by "accident," or can't resist a tiny splash test, Apple has some new advice on exactly what to do to minimize the chance of damage. Best of all, no rice is involved!

First, don't get it wet on purpose. Apple's warranty still doesn't cover water damage, and there's always a chance the phone could take in liquid. Yes, Apple will know if water was the cause of death. Buried inside the phone is a liquid contact indicator - a small sticker that changes colors if it comes into contact with water.

If it does get damp, unplug any cables and do not attempt to charge it or plug anything into the Lightning connector for at least five hours. You want the phone to be completely dry before introducing electricity. Refrain from opening the SIM tray as well, since that can give water a way into the inner workings of your iPhone.

To dry the device, wipe off the outside with a soft cloth. Stand it up and gently tap it on your hand to shake out any water that's pooled inside the Lightning port. Do not try and dry the port by probing it with a wadded up bit of paper or a Q-tip.

Next, leave it out someplace with good airflow. Don't try and speed up the process with a hair dryer. Placing it in rice won't make the process go faster, and the grain can actually damage the port. A cool fan pointed at the Lightning port is ok, but beyond that it's just a matter of patience.

The device is rated iP67, so it's built to keep out both dust and water. The 6 refers to its level of dust protection and means the phone is totally protected from dust. The 7 is how waterproof it is, out of a possible rating of 8. Be especially careful around salt water, which is more corrosive and can cause much more damage than freshwater.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Pokemon Go ransomware virus is out to catch’em all!

A Pokemon Go-themed ransomware virus has appeared on Windows computers, tablets and phones. The ransomware is the latest in a series of malicious applications that have popped up in the wake of the global Pokemon Go obsession.

This particular piece of malware is known as POGO Tear and it’s based on open source ransomware code called Hidden Tear. POGO Tear encrypts the files on victims’ computers, changes the extension to “.locked” and then demands a ransom on a screen emblazoned with famed character Pikachu’s picture.

POGO Tear is currently coded to display its ransom message in Arabic only as shown below. The text informs users that their data has been encrypted and instructs them to contact to decrypt their files. It also thanks them for their generosity.

What’s interesting about this malware is that it incorporates several features not usually found in other ransomware viruses. POGO Tear creates an administrative user account called Hack3r on the victim’s machine and then hides it from the logon screen so the user can’t tell it’s there.

It also creates a network share on the victim’s computer and copies itself to all available network drives. The ransomware automatically executes when Windows starts.

If your computers have been infected with ransomware or any other viurus, call IES today at 781-816-9437. The longer you wait, the worse the situation will be!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Apple's iOS 10 update is causing major headaches for some users.

Apple users who were quick to download its latest iOS 10 software yesterday were subject to a major bug that left devices temporarily useless.

Not long after the company rolled out its new mobile operating system, some users complained it "bricked" their iPhones and iPads. Bricking refers to an issue that blocks access to your phone with a black screen.

Users who experienced a failed update were required to plug devices into computers and connect to iTunes to restore the system.

While the iOS issues are unexpected, we always suggest holding off updating new mobile software until Apple works out first iteration kinks. Early adopters tend to find out about software bugs the hard way.

The restoration process should reinstate the device's most recent backup. If you haven't updated to iOS 10 and want to do so, be sure to back it up first to prevent data loss. To backup a device via iTunes, connect it via a USB cable to iTunes, tap on the device name and click "Back Up Now."

The company's Twitter account is also fielding hundreds of complaints addressing the bricking issue.

Although you may want to wait to install iOS 10 for now, the new software has a lot to offer: There's a greater emphasis on photos and messaging, an improved Maps interface, and it finally allows you to remove default apps like Stocks or Find My Friends.

IMPORTANT NOTE: We always like to inform people that upgrading your iPhone / iPad an entire iOS level puts you more at risk for your device dying sooner. The components in a device are made for the operating system that is installed in them. (Example: iPhone 6 came with a 9.x operating system. It is ok to update that phone to any 9.x OS, but when you upgrade to iOS 10.x, you may start to notice problems such as slow speeds, random crashes, etc).

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Hi Adblock Plus...lets talk about the word irony.

Adblock Plus is launching a new service that puts more ads on your screen. Yes, you read that correctly. The #1 ad blocker is now selling ads.

Rather than stripping all ads from the internet forever, Adblock Plus is hoping to replace the bad ads — anything it deems too big, too ugly, or too intrusive — with good ads, ones that are smaller, subtler, and theoretically much less annoying.

It’ll begin doing that through an ad marketplace, which will allow blogs and other website operators to pick out so-called “acceptable” ads and place them on their pages. If a visitor using Adblock Plus comes to the page, they’ll be shown those “acceptable ads,” instead of whatever ads the site would normally run.

“It allows you to treat the two different ecosystems completely differently and monetize each one,” says Ben Williams, Adblock Plus’ operations and communications director. “And crucially, monetize the ad blockers on on their own terms.”

The marketplace is a extension of the Acceptable Ads program that Adblock Plus has been running since 2011. Since then, the ad blocker has defaulted to “whitelisting” approved ads, so that they show up even when users have the blocker turned on. But the program has been fairly limited in scope, since publishers and ad networks need to specifically work with (and pay) Adblock Plus to have their ads deemed acceptable. It’s a time-consuming process, Williams emphasized, which limits how many websites can sign up to display ads to would-be blockers.Adblock Plus hopes that, through this new marketplace, there’ll be a big expansion in the usage of Acceptable Ads. Because they’re already picked out and ready to go, any publisher will be able to sign up, plug some code into their website, and start running whitelisted ads. None of the ads are able to track visitors from site to site, and they’ll all be limited to certain dimensions and page locations, as defined by Adblock Plus’ guidelines.

The program is meant to be friendly to publishers — it is, after all, letting them display some ads instead of none whatsoever. But there’s still obvious reason for publishers to be unhappy. Acceptable ads are likely to be less valuable than the ads a publisher could otherwise display, limiting what a website can earn. And in setting up its own marketplace, Adblock Plus continues to position itself as a gatekeeper charging a toll to get through a gate of its own making.

Publishers will get to keep 80 percent of all ad revenue from marketplace ads, with the remaining 20 percent being divided between various other parties involved with serving the ads. Adblock Plus will receive 6 percent of total revenue.

The ad marketplace is launching in beta today and is supposed to launch in full later this year. At the same time, Adblock Plus is working toward setting up a committee of publishers, privacy advocates, and advertisers to figure out the future of what its Acceptable Ad guidelines should look like. That too is supposed to get nailed down sometime later this year, with committee meetings beginning next year.

Source: The Verge

Friday, September 9, 2016

Computer system outages can cost some serious money...just ask Delta.

The numbers are in - and it's amazing how much a five hour system outage can cost!

The problem occurred when the company lost power at its operations center in Atlanta early on the morning of August 8, causing computers needed to book in passengers and fly jets to be down for nearly five hours.

The airline eventually canceled about 1,000 flights on the day of the outage and ground an additional 1,000 flights over the following two days. It also agreed to give affected customers refunds and vouchers for future travel.

The cost of the outage was disclosed in a presentation Delta made to investors Wednesday to the tune of $150 million. The losses came out of pre-tax profits, but the airline did not provide a break down of the various costs.

Delta is not the only airline to experience these kinds of computer problems recently.

British Airways was hit with its own computer problems on Tuesday. Southwest had to deal with a computer outage in July that resulted in canceled flights over three days.

Southwest said in an investor presentation on Wednesday that the outage hurt its quarterly revenue. The airline didn't place a precise dollar figure, but it did give ratios that would work out to at least a $177 million hit to passenger revenue.

Despite the news about the cost of the outages, and information from both airlines that fares continue to be lower than they were a year ago, airline stocks are up broadly as a group in trading Wednesday. The data on fares showed less of a decline than many investors had feared.

Clearly system outages cost some serious money. If you want to protect your business' important computer systems, call IES today at 781-816-9437 or email We can help you prevent a costly outage.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Case study: free wifi for apartment building tenants.

The Fenmore is a 205 unit apartment complex located just steps from the home of the Boston Red Sox: Fenway Park. Built around 1912, The Fenmore originally boasted such amenities as an office staff who would receive packages or call one a carriage for a trip to the shops in Copley Square, maids who would change the linen, and a housekeeping service which would tidy up by using the latest in centralized vacuum systems.

But a century later, the residents were looking for a much more modern amenity: wireless Internet.

When initially exploring the idea of installing a system, they were presented with a number of challenges. The biggest issue was the construction itself. Typical for the time period, the seven buildings that make up the Fenmore were built with brick and mortar, horsehair plaster and wire lathe, making the required cabling extremely difficult. 

That’s where IES came in....using newly developed technology, IES was able to create a building wide network for all the residents to use. It’s easy to manage, easy to deploy, and it’s incredibly cost effective. The board of directors understood the value immediately.

Over a period of two weeks, 83 strategically placed access points were installed with 6,000 feet of cat5 wiring running through seven 24 port switches. After the initial installation, the system was then setup in the cloud for management and troubleshooting purposes. Additionally, the cloud made it easy set bandwidth limits, monitor traffic, control access with a community wide password, create a custom splash page, and much more.

The project was a huge success from day one. Everyone at the Fenmore has since cancelled their own Internet service and are now enjoying free wireless throughout the property. Best of all, the residents as a whole are saving over $6,000 a month by not having an Internet bill.

When issues do arise, IES is able to provide Fenmore residents with remote support and network maintenance. The network is easy to maintain and when downed nodes do need to be replaced, it’s fast and the cost is very low.

If you are interested in creating a powerful, custom branded network, give IES a call at 781-816-9437 or email This technology is not only perfect for apartment buildings or condo associations, but why not add your brand to your vacation home, business, store front, restaurant, or hotel? The marketing abilities using this technologies are endless.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Carbonite blasts an email for all users to reset their password.

Yes this is a real email from Carbonite. We urge all of our customers to change their passwords as soon as they can.

This action is being taken proactively and at this time there is no evidence to indicate that your account or data have been compromised. Your backups are safe and your regular backup schedule will continue.
What Happened
As part of ongoing security monitoring, Carbonite recently became aware of unauthorized attempts to access a number of Carbonite accounts. This activity appears to be the result of a third party attacker using compromised email addresses and passwords obtained from other companies that were previously attacked. The attackers then tried to use the stolen information to access Carbonite accounts. Based on our security reviews, there is no evidence to suggest that Carbonite has been hacked or compromised.
What Information Was Involved
While Carbonite will continue to monitor and investigate the matter, we have determined that some usernames and passwords are involved. Additionally, for some accounts, other personal information may have been exposed.
What Carbonite Is Doing
Use the link that Carbonite emailed to you to reset your password. We highly recommend using "strong" unique passwords for Carbonite and all online accounts. If you use the same or similar passwords on other online services, we recommend that you set new passwords on those accounts as well.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Samsung smart TVs to start putting ads on top of things people are watching.

Samsung is quietly adding ads onto its smart TVs to try and boost revenues – even after people have bought the sets.The company has already added new “tile ads” to the menus in its premium Internet connected televisions. The move will even affect existing smart TVs since they can be updated with a software update over the Internet.

The ads sit on the TVs’ home screen, alongside the normal apps like YouTube or Netflix, and link out to external content. As such they are likely to prove unpopular among users, and might also draw the attention of regulators and networks.

It comes after Samsung got drawn into controversy over a policy that appeared to allow its TVs to listen in on everything people said in their living rooms. The company replied that the policy had been clumsily written.

Increasing the number of ads will help Samsung increase its revenues even after people have bought their TVs. Though Samsung already has some deals in place, like taking part of the revenues from people watching Netflix on their TVs, it has struggled to generate revenues on top of the money it gets from selling hardware.

The move is being made to try and counteract slowing growth in the TV industry, according to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the news. Though Samsung is dominant in that market, selling 20% of units according to analysts, market share is declining because it is largely saturated.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Why every business should use a battery backup on their computers.

Lightning season is upon us. Can you and your customers afford the risks of not having a battery backup?

June, July and August produce the highest number of lightning incidents each year in the US, ranging from Florida and Texas to Pennsylvania and Illinois. Lightning can strike without warning; it’s that type of unpredictability which increases the severe risk to business networks.

Damage can range from costly downtime to major data loss and extensive electrical damage. Here are some key rebuttals to common misconceptions about power protection...

We’ve been operating for years with no apparent damage from lightning.
It’s estimated that 95% of electronic system failures are due to repeated degradation of equipment, often referred to as “electronic rust”. It is imperative to replace old equipment before it fails!

I already have surge suppressors for our electronics.
Surge suppressors should be part of a total system approach, but are not effective enough on their own. Protect computer systems and network equipment with UPS hardware. Look for UPS with extended runtime to account for the potential of a power outage following a lightning incident.

How do I know which battery backup to get?
There is no "one size fits all" for battery backups. Businesses need to take many factors into consideration, including: current and future load profile trends; up time requirements; pure power needs.

Ready to protect your systems? Call IES at 781-816-9437 or email and we can build a custom solution to fit your needs.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Cryptowall / Cryptolocker virus update.

We want to alert you to a very urgent threat to the data on your network called Cryptowall / Cryptolocker.

You should immediately advise your staff to
not open ANY files that are sent to you through e-mail. This new virus/trojan arrives as an e-mail that contains a zip, doc, xls, or pdf file that pretends to be an invoice, purchase order, bill, complaint, UPS or USPS shipment or other business communication. If you receive such a message, you should verify with the sender that they did in fact send this message prior to opening the attachment.

This threat is specifically designed to defeat firewalls, anti-virus and anti-malware software. There is presently no known way to block these threats. If you open such an attachment, you won't even know you have been infected until you attempt to access data on your network. Once infected, your critical data is inaccessible and current recovery steps are time consuming and expensive. We cannot stress the severity of this threat enough.

We are actively monitoring this situation and working with our security partners to implement updates as soon as they are available. In the meantime, we recommend that you and your team adopt a very conservative posture toward this threat by not opening any e-mail attachments you have not personally verified. We expect this threat to remain active for the foreseeable future.

If you have any questions or concerns related to this, please do not hesitate to contact our office. 

IES, Inc.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Save time, money, and headaches...IES now offers smart home & smart office systems.

The fast pace and ever growing possibilities of today's and tomorrow's technology are exciting. New products are available almost daily to fill our homes full of hi-tech solutions that make our lives more automated, convenient, and energy efficient.

IES technicians are here to help you choose the right devices from our vast range of home & business automation products that fit your lifestyle. We literally put the remote control of your home or business in the palm of your hands!

You can dim lights while watching a movie or having dinner, or schedule lights to turn on and off while you are on vacation. Stay green and save energy by checking to see if any lights were left on, or turn off anything that is plugged in. Consider using a programmable thermostat to increase energy management and reduce your utility bill by regulating thermostat use and temperatures based on your family's schedule.

Thinking about the office? Stay green and save energy by checking to see if any lights were left on. Want to schedule lights to turn on and off certain days of the week or just turn off anything that is plugged in? You can do that with our systems! Consider using a programmable thermostat to increase energy management and reduce your utility bill by regulating thermostat use and temperatures based on your operation hours.

An automation system also includes the safety of your family or workplace. IES offers a complete line of traditional sensors and security devices as well as camera and surveillance systems to protect your home or business. We even have the latest door locks & access controllers, communicating smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and wireless sensors to ensure that everyone is protected from dangers inside and out.

Don't forget about the fun stuff... We have wireless speakers for your smartphone or tablet, outdoor products for your yard or patio, accessories for your car and garage, a selection of smart products for kids, and everything your need for pet care and pest control.

When it comes to smart home or business automation, almost anything is possible - and IES has you covered for it all! Contact IES today for a quick quote - email us by clicking here or call 781-816-9437.

For more information on smart office systems, you can click here to visit the smart office section of our website.

For more information on smart home systems, you can click here to visit the smart home section of our website.

Friday, February 19, 2016

This is why real webmasters don't like using WordPress...

Let's start with the obvious in saying that, the phrase professional WordPress designer is an oxymoron. Of course, we have nothing against those who use WordPress to create websites... a personal site, a blog or portfolio, or a self designed website for their small business. We actually applaud that. The problem, however, rests not with them.

The people we're talking about are those who usually spend the bulk of their time conceiving get rich quick ploys and scams. Eventually, many of these degenerates decide to jump on the SEO train, under the false assumption that there's nothing to it. And because they can talk a good game and know how to use a CMS designed for grade school aged children, many business owners end up falling for it.

Again, I need to stress that this is in no way a shot at WordPress. It's risen to such massive popularity because of its ease of use, and functionality, and diverse layout options. It's a cool little setup, library of thousands of plugins for personal sites, organizations, small to medium companies and more. We're simply saying that if the person you've hired is talking about building you a from scratch website, and ends up doing it in a template based program, you should be concerned about every word this person has told you.

Why True Webmasters Avoid WordPress

If SEO and search engine visibility didn't matter, I can bet at least 95% of web designer in America would be using WordPress or some similar template based CMS for small business. You see, in the time it would take a truly experienced and successful webmaster to open a WordPress file, adjust all the settings, find functions, doing any outside the box customization that a prebuild plugin didn't already do, etc., they could have designed a completely original foundation for your new site. The reason webmasters design sites from scratch is because of the control, comfort and boundless flexibility it offers, not to mention you can follow several Google Guidelines that WordPress does not follow.

And regardless of how good the template site builder is; each one in their own way has limitations capable of hindering the technological creativity of highly skilled website developers. It simply does not make any sense that they would go out of their way, to spend more time working in an unfamiliar template environment, using tools and functions designed for novice and intermediates. After all, what is the point of having a pretty website that nobody can find?

The Only Real Custom Websites Are Built From Scratch

We could get into the schematics of how major search engines supposedly devalue page rank among poorly optimized template websites, or how having a plugin does not make your SEO program complete (or even effective), or even how easy it is to visually spot a website that has been whipped together simply for cosmetic purposes. The point to be made is this: The only way to ensure that your website is 100% customized for your business, is to have it built from a blank page, by an established and proven webmaster.

Did you get burned on the big promises of someone posing as a webmaster? Don't worry, all hope is not lost. Give us a call today and let us know what happened. We'll take a look at your site and let you know what issues need the most urgent attention, to ensure the visibility and rank you thought you were paying for initially.

IES is one of the leading website developers in Plymouth, MA, and has been creating completely customized websites throughout MA and the US since 2009.

Contact IES today to schedule your company's complementary website review. Mention this blog and get 10% off any project!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Do not set the date on your iPhone to January 1, 1970, unless you want a phone you can't use anymore.

There's an ad-like meme going around, designed to look like it's from Apple, telling people that if they set the date on their iPhone to 1/1/1970 and then power off/power back on the iPhone, then it will present with an Easter Egg...a theme that mimics the classic Macintosh look.

People who are claiming to be in the know say that this is a prank, like charging your phone by putting it in the microwave or waterproofing it. This prank will "brick" your iPhone. (Make it unusable).

As cool as this might look, it’s a hoax, and a particularly nasty one at that. Resetting your phone’s date that far back will so thoroughly confuse your phone or tablet’s operating system that you’ll either need to take it to the Apple store for a replacement, or just buy a whole new phone or tablet.

The date bug affects iPhones, iPads and iPod touches with 64-bit processors running iOS 8 or iOS 9. Apple says it’s looking into the bug. Users can protect themselves with a series of tweaks, such as manually setting their time and date, not enabling automatic time changes, and not turning off their iPhone or iPads.

Here's a screenshot of the meme:

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

This guy planned on making the blizzard a profitable one thanks to technology, and he didn't even have to plow a single driveway.

Someone in Brooklyn built an igloo in the blizzard, then listed it on Airbnb. Yes, you read that right. An igloo for rent on Airbnb.

The post described the rental as: "Dripping with ingenuity and alt-lifestyle aura lays the Snopocalypse of 2016's most desirable getaway. Hand-crafted, and built using only natural elements - we're offering the experience of a life time in this chic dome-style bungalow for you and bae."

It looks like they threw a couple blankets and plastic bagged pillows in there for good measure. Fancy, no? Especially at $200 / night!

Structural integrity aside, it does look pretty cozy inside. And they have lights!

The fresh powder on the dome's peak really sells the whole experience. As does the tiny pine tree hugging the exterior. Your own slice of Alaska in a Brooklyn backyard.

If your dream was to lodge at a site that was almost certainly added to Airbnb in jest, you're already too late. The company didn't take long before removing the listing.

Airbnb sent an appreciative and chipper take down notice to the builder: "We are happy to see that you guys are staying busy and having fun during Blizpocalypse. Unfortunately, your igloo, while very well constructed, has failed to meet our occupancy standards and has been removed from search results. Be sure to pick a place with running water, electricity, and a roof that doesn't melt."

Too bad...this could have been the most desired rental of 2016!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The list is in! Here are the top 25 most common / dumbest passwords used in 2015.

People are still using really bad passwords to secure online accounts, despite constant advice to the contrary. As reported by Engadget, SplashData has revealed its list of the worst passwords of 2015, drawn from the 2 million passwords that leaked last year.

This year’s list is very similar to last year’s list:
  1. 123456
  2. password
  3. 12345678
  4. qwerty
  5. 12345
  6. 123456789
  7. football
  8. 1234
  9. 1234567
  10. baseball
  11. welcome
  12. 1234567890
  13. abc123
  14. 111111
  15. 1qaz2wsx
  16. dragon
  17. master
  18. monkey
  19. letmein
  20. login
  21. princess
  22. qwertyuiop
  23. solo
  24. passw0rd
  25. starwars
The sets of contiguous numbers are dumb for obvious reasons, and single words without any numbers are never going to be particularly secure. And then there are the likes of "password," "qwerty," and "letmein."

As these passwords all belonged to accounts that were hacked or otherwise compromised, these are essentially the most popular bad passwords. Suffice to say anyone who wants to stay safe online should avoid using these under any and all circumstances.

Source:  Engadget