Have You Been Pwned? Find Out with This Tool

pwned

Data breaches and internet security are a big concern for many individuals, and with good reason. Large companies that have had their users’ information (such as email addresses, passwords and password hints) compromised include Adobe and Snapchat.

Luckily, there is a website, Have I Been Pwned?, which searches across various domains and known breaches to see if a particular email address or username has been compromised.  The site’s name comes from the gaming term “Pwned”, which is a twist on the word “owned” (defeated).  The exact origin of this term is disputed.

The website also can inform you if your information has been “pasted,” which the site describes as:

A “paste” is information that has been “pasted” to a publicly facing website designed to share content such as Pastebin. These services are favored by hackers due to the ease of anonymously sharing information and they’re frequently the first place a breach appears.

This website is a valuable tool to find out if your personal information has been compromised.  Check out this post for suggestions on strengthening the security of your accounts.

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OverDrive Clears Up Dual Bookshelf Confusion

There has been a change in terminology in the user account section of the Upper Hudson Library System’s Digital Collection. What was formerly called Bookshelf has been changed to Checkouts. This is the section of your account where you can view all of the digital items you have currently checked out.

checkouts

If you are accessing your downloaded materials through the Overdrive app, they will be listed under the Bookshelf heading. Please note that books downloaded for use on a Kindle or in the Kindle app will not be listed on the Overdrive Bookshelf.

overdrive

 

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Windows 10 (Part 2)

windows-10-logo

Windows 10 was released to the general public on July 29, 2015. Since then, various issues and concerns have popped up among its users. One big concern is the telemetry (remote data collection) that is built into Windows 10. Windows IT Pro has written an article on how to turn off telemetry not only in Windows 10, but also in Windows 7 and Windows 8. Makeuseof has also written a number of articles regarding privacy concerns in Windows 10 and has links to various tools to help users change their privacy and telemetry settings. Relating to the privacy issues, KrebsonSecurity has addressed the concern that a default setting in Windows shares your WiFi connection with contacts you have in Outlook, Skype, or Facebook and offers suggestions on how to turn this feature off and make your WiFi network more secure.

If you are finding learning the ins and outs of Windows 10 a bit daunting, TechSoup has written a blog post that has information on the basics of Windows 10 and its features.

Throughout the course of several updates, Windows Update, the program that keeps the Windows operating system up-to-date, may have downloaded the Windows 10 installation files without the knowledge of the computer user. If you have noticed that your computer and/or internet connection has been slower, this may be the cause. Luckily, makeuseof has written an article that addresses what to do if the Windows 10 installation files have been downloaded to your computer. Sophos has also written a blog post related to removing unwanted Windows 10 installation files.

Have you downloaded Windows 10 yet? Tell us about it in the comments.

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Pop Away from Popups and Other Unwanted Ads

securitykey

It’s happened to most people:  you’re browsing the internet, and suddenly a window pops up informing you that you need to update your software or maybe that you have a virus or perhaps one saying you’ve won a free iPad. Even to advanced computer users, some of these popup advertisements can look legitimate. How can the average computer user avoid bothersome popups?

Luckily, makeuseof has written a helpful article with some helpful tips on how to avoid malicious popups and how to tell if they are legitimate.

The author advises computer users to always check the URL in the address bar. Most software websites have URLs that are pretty straightforward. For example, if you are attempting to download Adobe Reader, the URL will be www.adobe.com. Try to avoid websites with super long web addresses. If you want to view the URL for a website, move your mouse over the link before clicking on it and the full URL will be displayed in the status bar near the bottom of the screen. Google will display the full URL of the search result in green below the link name. In the example below, the mouse cursor is on the link for the East Greenbush Library’s Wikipedia entry. Note the highlighted area near the bottom of the screen that displays the full link.

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Try to avoid pages that are full of text and advertisements. If you are still unsure if a download link is safe, check out a site like File Hippo, which is an aggregate site that contains mirror downloads of many popular programs like Adobe Reader and Java. On a related note, try to avoid the Google-ad results, which are usually the first few results that appear in a Google search and are marked with a little yellow ad banner.

If you are mindful about looking at a link before you click on it, you may notice a common trend of link shortening, for example, tiny.url or bit.ly links. How are you supposed to know if those links are legit? There is a great tool called Unshorten.It. You can copy and paste the shortened link and the site will display the full link as well as a small screenshot of the site. There are also various other sites that preform a similar function.

Some other helpful tips mentioned in the article:

  • Install a good anti-virus program. Many have an internet security feature that will highlight suspicious links and block popups.
  • Avoid searching for things like free video games and free screensavers. These are a common source of malware and shady links.
  • There are various browser-specific tips, such as changing your homepage to one you recognize and blocking popups directly with your browser (these options are found in the browser settings).
  • If you are a more advanced computer user, you may want to use a browser extension such as AdBlock Plus that will block ads from appearing on a webpage.
  • The article gives you instructions on what do if you accidentally click on a popup or ad and seem to be stuck.

If you are still getting unwanted popups after trying the tips discussed in the article, you may have malware installed on your computer. If this happens, there are steps you can take to remove it. Check out makeuseof’s malware removal guide for more information.

 

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Back By Popular Demand: New Items Lists!

newitemsWhen we moved to our new library software earlier this year, we lost the ability to provide real-time lists of new items ordered by the libraries. If you have been missing this feature, we have great news – it has been restored! Check all libraries here: http://reports.uhls.org/newitems/. See only our library here: http://reports.uhls.org/newitems/EGRN/index.html.

How Does It Work?

The first link will take you to a listing of all Upper Hudson Library System libraries.  Select a library, and you will be presented with a list of item types.  Only item types with newly items will be displayed, so some categories you might expect may not be present.  Click on an item type to see a list of titles that are linked to the catalog for easy requesting.  Check back often, as we are adding new items all the time and the lists are updated overnight.

Each library has a different time frame for “new”, which will be stated at the top of the title list.  The East Greenbush Community Library has chosen 14 days, while some other libraries chose 30 or 90 days.  Keep in mind that donated items, items ordered as replacements, and duplicate copies show up on these lists, as well.  That would account for “new” items with older publication dates.  The category that will most likely show newly released items is the “On Order” category.  While this group is not limited on a single item type or genre, it is often populated by items ordered ahead of publication date.  As soon as the record is created in the catalog, patrons can place requests.

Questions?  Please ask in the comments below or call the library for more information.

 

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Is This Real?

Sign reading warning internet hoaxChances are that while browsing on Facebook, Twitter or various other websites, you have come across an article or piece of information that caused you to question its validity. Luckily, IFL Science has put together a list can that help you determine whether or not an article is a hoax. The article lists ways to tell if what you are reading has any credibility. Their suggestions include doing a reverse Google image search, using a tool called FotoForensics to determine if a picture has been Photoshopped, and using the details embedded in the picture itself to determine its validity.

Facebook has become one of the most popular ways in which people get their news. WeLiveSecurity has put together a list of helpful ways to tell if a story you see on Facebook may not be real. Their tips include not trusting a story that forces you to share it before you can even read it and any story that features an overly violent news report.

Another good resource for determining not only whether something you saw online is valid is Snopes. The website has a searchable database that you can use to verify questionable information you find online, in an email or if your everyday life.

Do you have any tips for determining whether an article is a hoax? Let us know in the comments.

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What’s Up with Windows 10?

windows-10-logoWindows 10 was released at the end of July, though you have probably been hearing about it for much longer than that.  Even if you haven’t been keeping up on tech news, Windows 7 and 8 users will have noticed an icon on their desktops urging them to reserve their free upgrade.  Microsoft states that this will be the last operating system they release.  Going forward, Windows will provide all updates free of charge and do away with supporting multiple operating systems.  In fact, some users will be forced to install updates whether they want to or not.  While this will be helpful from a security and support standpoint, it could spell trouble if any of those updates go awry.  If you have a genuine copy of Windows 7 or later, upgrading to Windows 10 will be free for a year.  After that, you may need to pay for the upgrade.  However, to clarify, there will be no charges after upgrading to Windows 10.  Some readers have seen “free for a year” and assumed that Microsoft would start charging Windows 10 users after a year.  That is not the case.

There is a lot of information about Windows 10 out there, and I have done my best to sort through it and provide links to some of the more helpful resources available.

Because of third-party software concerns, the library will not be upgrading its public computers to Windows 10 for some time yet.  However, I am planning to upgrade one of our staff computers in order to test the new operating system and help me answer questions patrons might have about their computers and other devices.  If you have any questions or comments regarding Windows 10, we’d love to hear about them in the comments!

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New Tech in the Library

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Thanks to a generous grant from the Friends of the East Greenbush Community Library, we have been able to replace some of the outdated technology in the library.

Monitors

If you have used any of our public computers in the last several years, you know that the square, analog monitors were not keeping pace with the way modern video and web content is displayed.  Some patrons also complained that the refresh rate was causing visible flickering on the screen.  We were able to replace all of the monitors at the public computers with digital, widescreen LED monitors.  In addition to improved display, these models are much more energy efficient than their predecessors.  This should save the library money in the long run.

Tech Cart in Meeting Rooms A and B

If you have recently attended a program in meeting rooms A and/or B that required A/V equipment, you may have noticed that the tech cart boasted an ancient LCD projector (for which they no longer make replacement bulbs) and a DVD/VCR combo.  The Friends helped us to purchase a new, more energy efficient DLP projector which projects a very clear image that can be seen on the wall at any lighting level.  We took this opportunity to replace the DVD/VCR with a Blu-ray player, which still supports DVDs.  Because the projector supports HDMI inputs, watching a Blu-ray using the projector is a much higher quality visual experience than watching a VHS tape with the old projector.  This should make the next movie festival much more enjoyable!

We hope you enjoy these improvements to the library.  What would you like to see next?  Let us know in the comments.

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Android Security Gets Stagefright

androidA new and nasty vulnerability in the Android operating system, dubbed “Stagefright”, has recently come to light.  Initially, it was reported that this bug would allow a hacker to gain control of an Android device with only a text message.  Once in your phone, a hacker could steal or take over anything on your device and then infect everyone in your contacts.  Until device manufacturers and wireless carriers can issue a fix, Android users were advised to disable the setting to “automatically retrieve” MMS messages in their texting app and Google Hangouts.

A week later, it was reported that the infection could not only arrive via text, but could also be embedded in any number of apps or websites just lying in wait.  Because the bug is surrounded by “safe coding”, security software will not necessarily catch it.

The good news is, lots of people are working on fixing this.  In fact, Samsung and Sprint have already worked together to release a fix for the Samsung Galaxy Note 4.  Unfortunately, their fix only works on that device.  Many more fixes will need to be generated and pushed out to patch up the nearly 950 million vulnerable Android devices out there.  If you are an Android user, be on the lookout for available updates for your device.

For more information about Stagefright, Fortune.com has an excellent article and Q&A on the subject.

Has your device been infected?  Tell us about it in the comments.

 

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Library Software Upgrade Report

SierraencoreWelcome to my long overdue update on the software situation in the library.  Since our library system (UHLS) moved to a new library management software at the end of March, the system’s techies have been working hard to get the kinks out of the new system.  Believe it or not, there are still several modules and functions that are still being configured.  The purpose of this post is to let you know which issues are still outstanding and where to get help if you need it.

1.  Notifications

Some people are still experiencing minor issues receiving their notifications.  Most commonly, emails are not received.  Make sure to check your spam folder.  Even if you have already “rescued” a library email from your spam folder and marked the sender safe, emails can come from different library email addresses.  You may need to add several addresses to your email whitelist before the emails will stop going to junk mail.  If you are not receiving notifications and you have already checked your spam folder, please contact the library and let us know.

Some patrons have pointed out that phone notifications do not mention the library where their items are being held.  This can be an issue for power users who pick up items at multiple locations.  At this time, there is no fix for this issue.  We suggest that patrons who are unsure where their items are being held login to the online catalog and click their name in the upper right corner of the screen.  On the left menu of the next screen, select “holds.”  Any items showing “ready for pickup” under status will also list a pickup location.

2. Prompts to request specific items

In some cases, when requesting an item, a patron is prompted to request a specific copy of an item, even though all of the copies are the same.  This is a cataloging issue that all of the libraries are working to fix.  Reports of this issue are few and far between, but it still happens.

3. Blocked from placing a hold

On our previous system, patrons with outstanding charges on their library cards could place holds on items and would be prompted to pay down their fees when checking out an item.  The new system no longer allows holds for any card not in good standing.  Unfortunately, we cannot control this.  If you are blocked from placing a hold, call the Reference Desk (477-7476, option 4) and we can override this restriction and place the hold for you.

4.  Checking out an OverDrive item through the library catalog

Previously, we had two separate catalogs for our physical items (books, CDs, DVDs, etc.) and digital items (OverDrive).  While the two separate catalogs still exist, our new library catalog contains our digital items as well as physical.  You can even check out and download most digital titles without leaving the catalog!  To test this, search the catalog for a title.  In the left menu, look under “format.”  If the item is available as a downloadable audiobook or e-book, there will be options for “downloadable e-book” or “downloadable audiobook.”  You may need to click “more” to see all available formats.  format

If you are looking for a magazine or streaming video, the format categories are less helpful.  Downloadable magazines show up as “downloadable e-books” and streaming videos show up as “DVDs.”  Check the individual record for more clarification:

checkoutvideoIf you click on “Check out with OverDrive”, you will be prompted to sign in if you haven’t already.  Then a window will pop up confirming checkout:

odcheckoutAfter you select “check out”, you can immediately download the title by selecting “Get eBook” if you are using the device you would like to read/watch on.

downloadOtherwise, you can download it later by logging into your account in the OverDrive catalog.  Occasionally, an error message will display, and you will need to go to the OverDrive catalog and sign in to download, anyway.  We’re working on that, too.

error5.  New item notification

We had more direct control over our last system, which allowed UHLS to create add-ons that would use the power of our library catalog to provide extra features for patrons.  One of these add-ons was the ability to subscribe to a “New Items” feed.  This feed would notify subscribers when a new item was added to the catalog.  The popularity of this feature was made clear to us by patrons who were very frustrated when it disappeared.  UHLS knows how much patrons want this feature, and they are working to bring it back.  Because there are still some higher priority bugs to work out with the everyday functioning of the catalog, this feature may need to be on the back burner for a while.  However, it is definitely on the to-do list.

6.  Getting help

We have created several types of training resources to help you navigate our new catalog. Our Online Catalog Help page includes short videos and text instructions for common tasks, as well as a print-friendly (PDF) guide to using your library account online.  Of course, if you’d rather get assistance from a live person, our reference librarians are always happy to help.  Give us a call (518-477-7476, option 4) or stop by at your convenience.

Again, we’d like to thank all of our patrons for their patience and understanding during this time of transition.  What are your thoughts on the new catalog?  Have you discovered a bug not discussed here?  Let us know in the comments.

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