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Steam Link and Controler

When I first saw the steam link announced I was not sure how I felt about it, at the time my home internet was very slow and I didn’t think it would handle it very well. But since moving my connection speed is now significantly greater also great for more options. 

So when the Steam Link came on sale and you got the control with t as well for about £30-£40 I decided that it might be worth a try as it would be nice to play some games of my PC in the lounge and not sat at my desk.

It’s a small little package that I personally feel looks really nice and sleek, and it can either be hidden behind the TV or looks sleek on a TV unit.  This means it’s also fairly portable, so if you used a gaming laptop to play games and fancied playing games on large screen it would be ideal. 

The OS it’s self is very simple and offers a few options when it first loads up and offers a list of PC’s running steam on the network. Meaning if a few people in the building or on the network could share a steam link and play each of there own games. It also allows you to connect the Xbox one controller directly to it, meaning you don’t get stuck with the questionable steam controler. 

I have mixed views on the controler as it does somthings really well, but other I find it cumbersome. One aspect where it excels is that when playing games that would normally require keyboard and mouse. As it lets you control the cursor using one of the pads on the control. And with the amount of custom configurations that the steam community has published it means there probably won’t be a game that hasn’t got any options out there.

The control will also save to your account meaning you can connect it to a different computer or steam link and all your default mappings will be with the controler. 


Over all I feel as a combined package during the sales it is worth buying both, but if it was a case of paying full price and buying the both separately I would maybe save on the controler and put the money towards an Xbox one controler but that is just personal preference

Plex Media Sever

I have recently started using Plex much more in my home media setup, this came to light as I always rip my DVD’s and BluRays to a digital format for more continent viewing. But this then leads to having a huge amount of windows files to scroll through when you fancy watching a film or just having a look to see what you fancy. 

This lead me to using Plex and I was so impressed with it. I’ve used it in the past but never really got that into it. But the other day I started using it again and saw it’s broad scope, not only will it organise your meaid in a very neat and tidy manner it also provides you with cover photos for the content and a little description and rating. This makes it look and feels very smooth and professional. It also adds a certain Netflix feel to the whole thing, meaning that your home media system has a very nice user friendly feel to the whole thing. 

Firstly it’s so easy to set up, because Plex scans all the folders you have your media on and it just does it all. It’s also used across so many platforms meaning you can have your Plex “Server” on one machine and then distribute all your media through your house, and even on the go if you pay for Plex. This means you can be watching one thing in the lounge on a smart TV using the Plex app and someone else streams it to their tablet or laptop. 

Over all I have used a few media centre applications in the past such as XBMC and I feel the over all feel of Plex. And although there are many good points to XBMC or Kodi as it is now know the distribution factor of Plex wins out as well as the look and style it is not to busy or cluttered but delivers a huge amount of information in a helpful and pleasant manner.

NSA GitHub – Are they really being transparent

Earlier this week it came to light that the NSA (National Security Agency) had created a GitHub account, and realises some programs on the platform.  This bring up a number of questions, firstly are they really trying to be that transparent or is it a novel way to try and win back the trust of the public.
Thankfully the source code for all of the application is available so it is possible to see what is going on within them, as a major concern of mine would be the potential back doors or snooping application like this could do to e user if they where not able to actually see what was going on…

But this does still beg the question as to why they have realised it, now it is not uncommon for application and other such items to trickle down the pipe line to the more “consumer” market eventually but after the vault 7 leaks a few month ago it is possible to see that they have so many more application with much more malicious uses than the few that eye have realised for the public. So there is the potential they they have realsed stuff that is out dated to them or that they don’t feel will be to compromising to all if their activitys.

What is WannaCry

Recently you might have read that a computer virus by the name of WannaCry has been extorting money from people and organizations all over the world. But what is WannaCry and should you be worried?

WannaCry  (or WannaCrypt, WanaCrypt0r 2.0, Wanna Decryptor) is a computer worm that has been effecting Windows computers over the past week. It is rumored to have been enabled and aided by some of the recent Vault 7 vulnerabilitys including EternalBlue that the NSA (National Security Agency) had been collecting and storing over the past few years. This has lead to one of the most widespread and effective ransomware’s that has been seen to date. Not just targeting your average user but also going after large corporations and organization such as the NHS (National Health Services)

wannacry_05_1024x774-0
The WannaCry GUI that users have been met with

But what does it all mean, this ransomware could have sat dormant for month (It very likely has) just trying to spread the infection to as many vulnerable machines as possible. Until it is then activated by either the creator or by s spesific time and date. Once the infection is triggered the malicious package then encrypts the users PC and demands the user to pay the “Ransom” in this case the amount was $300 or £231.59. This is a rather large amount of money and on the scale of the attack would have made it a very profitable venture if all of the effected users pay the money to gain access back to there device.

In the case of WannaCry effecting the NHS it could have potentially cost human lives as well, because it was effecting hospitals and GP surgery’s. Without having access to the patient information the medical practitioner might have been unable to proceed with a user treatment or potential be unable to access the patients personal information.  But WannaCry made a few fatal error is the design and execution of the virus. Firstly the ransom payment was required in bitcoins (Bit coins are a digital currency with no central regulation making it hard to track) but because there what only 4 addresses to pay the bit coins too and because they where hard-coded into application it means that the possibility of tracking them is a whole lot easier. And then there is the built in “Kill Switch” that was again hard coded into the application. This meant that to deactivate the ransomware, a website address needed reached. Meaning that researchers were able to find the target URL and register it meaning they then had the ability to deactivate the program.

For such an effective and wide spread virus it looks as if corners where cut, for example if the URL that was required for the “Kill Switch” had been coded to be random it would have made the pressure of finding the target URL much greater as there would not have been a clear target. And the next blunder was in the form of having only used 4 Bitcoin payment addresses, because of this it will make the authority’s job of tracking the Bitcoins slightly easier as they will just have to monitor bitcoins public transaction ledger know as the blockchain. It has also been found by Cisco researchers that the “Check payment” button did not actually do anything other than display one of 4 possible out come, meaning that the decryption of the devices was most likely done manually. But there is also speculation that the creator may just have send out a random handful of decryption keys to make it appear as if the payment has gained the user access to there machine again. If that is the cases then this virus should not really be called ransomware at all, as there is a strong possibility that even after the ransom has been paid the user will not just be given access back to their files, making this more Theftware.

hacking

But there has been further speculation from other security researches that this attack might have been made to look as if it was ransomware. This could mean that the creators had alternate motives. This could have been for a number of things, but when you consider the sort of things that where effected and completely parallelized (Hospital equipment, Trains and ATM’s) could it be possible that the ransomware side of this attack was merely a cover up? And when you consider that researchers at Kaspersky Lab have been finding evidence linking WannaCry to North Korea. This was in the form of similar code that had been used in a previous attack this year. A number of other big names in cyber security have also backed up these claims as they too have noticed drastic similarity within the code that has been used in both attacks. And when you look at the raising tensions between the USA and North Korea and acknowledge the fact that “cyber space” is the new battle field this could have just been a test run for bigger things to come, but of course this is all merely speculation.

But what do you do if your computer if effected by Ransomware and are there any procotions that you can take to make it less damaging.

Precautions to take


  • Always keep regular backups of any documentation and files that you need or do not wish to lose. You could back them up to an external devices such as a USB stick or an external HDD. The other option would be to back up your files and documents to one of the many cloud services such as GoogleDrive or Microsoft’s OneDrive.

 

  • Make sure you download and install regular updates on your operating system, this should hopeful help to prevent the vulnerability being present on your computer.

 

  • If you machine does get infected by ransomware the first thing you should do is disconnect your devices from the internet, this could possibility prevent the virus from encrypting all of your data.