Patch Tuesday: Last call for Windows XP

Tony Bradley , PCWorld Follow me on Google+

Tony is principal analyst with the Bradley Strategy Group, providing analysis and insight on tech trends. He is a prolific writer on a range of technology topics, has authored a number of books, and is a frequent speaker at industry events.
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This Patch Tuesday has much more significance than most. With only four security bulletins from Microsoft, it's relatively tame as far as Patch Tuesdays go, but today also marks the final patches and updates from Microsoft for Windows XP.

“So this is it, the last hurrah for the once beloved XP, the last kick at the can for patching up the old boat,” says Ross Barrett, senior manager of security engineering for Rapid7. “Sure, by today’s standards it’s a leaky, indefensible, liability, but… hey, do you even remember Windows 98? Or (*gasp*) ME?”

There are two Critical bulletins and two Important. All of them are capable of enabling remote code execution if successfully exploited.

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Don’t waste your money trying to upgrade your Windows XP PC

Tony Bradley , PCWorld Follow me on Google+

Tony is principal analyst with the Bradley Strategy Group, providing analysis and insight on tech trends. He is a prolific writer on a range of technology topics, has authored a number of books, and is a frequent speaker at industry events.
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With the end of Windows XP support from Microsoft imminent, perhaps you’ve finally made the (very wise) decision to stop using the venerable operating system. I commend you. However, if you’re planning to simply install a newer operating system on your existing hardware, you should reconsider.

Sure, there's a good chance that your existing hardware meets the minimum system requirements for either OS: a 1GHz or faster processor, 1GB of RAM (2GB for 64-bit), 16GB of hard drive space (20GB for 64-bit) and a DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher.

Toasty Tech
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10 tips to protect your tax return from theft and fraud

Tony Bradley , PCWorld Follow me on Google+

Tony is principal analyst with the Bradley Strategy Group, providing analysis and insight on tech trends. He is a prolific writer on a range of technology topics, has authored a number of books, and is a frequent speaker at industry events.
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As far as cyber criminals are concerned, tax season means open season. This time of year is a favorite for phishing scams and fraud, second only to the holidays. With a little awareness and common sense, though, you can avoid being a victim and make sure your tax refund ends up in your pocket.

Follow these tips to stay safe and secure online during tax season.

Fred Touchette, senior security analyst with AppRiver, shared some thoughts about common tax season threats and how to avoid them.

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Office for iPad establishes the tablet as a true PC

Tony Bradley , PCWorld Follow me on Google+

Tony is principal analyst with the Bradley Strategy Group, providing analysis and insight on tech trends. He is a prolific writer on a range of technology topics, has authored a number of books, and is a frequent speaker at industry events.
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Microsoft's announcement that it's bringing Office to the iPad is a game changer. Naysayers have belittled the tablet as a toy or a content consumption gadget since it launched. The argument has always been shaky, but with the world's most popular productivity suite now available for the iPad, you can no longer deny that the tablet is, in fact, just an evolution of the personal computer.

The debate is partially semantic. Diehards will tell you "PC" refers only to a traditional Wintel computer. But most of us extend the term to encompass Mac OS X, Linux, and Chrome OS, as well, and the defining characteristics have more to do with how we use them. 

For the vast majority of businesses and consumers, the primary activities on a PC boil down to email, social networking, Web surfing, and producing content—like Word docs, Excel spreadsheets, and PowerPoint presentations. There are still certain industries and specific applications that require a given platform or operating system, but for 80-plus percent of users a tablet like the iPad can do the job.

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A closer look at your Windows XP investment

Tony Bradley , PCWorld Follow me on Google+

Tony is principal analyst with the Bradley Strategy Group, providing analysis and insight on tech trends. He is a prolific writer on a range of technology topics, has authored a number of books, and is a frequent speaker at industry events.
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Nothing lasts forever. We expect that we'll get years of use out of our cars, refrigerators, and mattresses but that eventually they'll need to be replaced, usually with newer, better models. We’ve now reached that point with Windows XP PCs.

But as the clock winds down on Windows XP support, there is a growing clamor from many Windows XP users. They’re pretty sure Microsoft is just trying to squeeze money out of them by “forcing” them to upgrade their operating system or buy a whole new PC.

Dell XPS 15

With a little proactive preparation, the expense of a new PC won't be such a burden.

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In the big data breach era, the safety of your personal data is ultimately out of your hands

Tony Bradley , PCWorld Follow me on Google+

Tony is principal analyst with the Bradley Strategy Group, providing analysis and insight on tech trends. He is a prolific writer on a range of technology topics, has authored a number of books, and is a frequent speaker at industry events.
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Each time there’s a high-profile data breach, security experts exhort the same best practices: Create unique logins for every service you use, use complex passwords, vigilantly comb your credit card statements for anomalies. The advice is sound. Unfortunately, it obscures the fact that the safety of your personal information is ultimately in the hands of companies you share it with.

Identity theft is changing. Customer databases are a treasure trove of personal information and much more efficient for hackers to target than individuals. In this new landscape, the guidelines security experts—and journalists like me—espouse are really just damage-control measures that minimize the impact of a successful attack after the fact, but do absolutely nothing to protect your personal data or financial information from the attack itself.

There’s nothing you can do to prevent the data breach itself.

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Report: Average of 82,000 new malware threats per day in 2013

Tony Bradley , PCWorld Follow me on Google+

Tony is principal analyst with the Bradley Strategy Group, providing analysis and insight on tech trends. He is a prolific writer on a range of technology topics, has authored a number of books, and is a frequent speaker at industry events.
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Malware has been around for more than 40 years,  but according to a report from Panda Security 20 percent of all of the malware that's ever existed was created in 2013. That’s the equivalent of 30 million new malware threats in one year, or about 82,000 per day.

Given that context, you should probably consider yourself lucky your devices aren’t constantly compromised. Even if you got infected by one malware attack per month, it would still mean you were spared from 99.9999 percent of all the possible new threats. Your antimalware must be doing something right.

panda

Check out the Panda Security Annual Report PandaLabs 2013 Summary for concerning security trends.

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