* Posts by Duncan Macdonald

369 posts • joined 20 Mar 2009

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M6 crowned crappiest motorway for 4G signal

Duncan Macdonald

Re: Fun fact. -The toll road is useful

I use this road when I am journeying from my home in North London to my relatives on the Isle of Skye. The reduction in journey time and petrol usage more than outweighs the toll charge (which at £5.50 for a car is less than the cost of 1 gallon of petrol - even a HGV is only charged £11.00)

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RootMetrics finds provinces stagger to 4G

Duncan Macdonald

In parts of the UK even 2G is unavailable

In parts of the scottish highlands it is not possible to even make a mobile phone call let alone an internet connection. (In January this year in the town of Portree on the Isle of Skye there were parts of the town with no mobile phone coverage - and Portree is the largest town on Skye.)

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How their GDPR ignorance could protect you from your denial

Duncan Macdonald

Conflict of legal requirements ?

The GPDR requires removal of personal data in some circumstances but audit and other legal requirements often require holding data for years. Audit requirements often need an unaltered copy of a database to be kept for several years. Which takes priority - legal requirements to keep records or legal requirements to delete records ?

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BezosBux: Amazon gets into scrip game with Cash scheme

Duncan Macdonald

Amazon Gift Cards

Why not just use Amazon gift cards - they are available at most major supermarkets and have been for years. I use them to avoid giving Amazon my credit card details.

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WikiLeaks exposes CIA anti-forensics tool that makes Uncle Sam seem fluent in enemy tongues

Duncan Macdonald
FAIL

Re: Attribution is a myth

If you send the data back using a Usenet group then there is no way to tell who the receiver is as news servers propagate the information across the internet. Like broadcast radio it is effectively impossible to tell who the listeners are. The only disadvantage is that the relay time from a message being added to Usenet to it appearing at a distant server can be minutes (or even hours) instead of the fraction of a second for a direct TCP or UDP link.

For example an encrypted RAR file could be added to the alt.binaries.etc newsgroup using GigaNews in one country and then at some future time be read using NewsDemon in another country.

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Windows 10 Creators Update: Clearing the mines with livestock (that's you by the way)

Duncan Macdonald

Re: What MS giveth MS taketh away

If you set the startup type of the Windows Update service to disabled then windows updates will not occur until after you have re-enabled the service (disabling the Background Intelligent Transfer service can stop other unwanted data usage as well). Note - just stopping the service is not enough - the startup type has to be set to disabled or windows will restart it.

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One in five mobile phones shipped abroad are phoney – report

Duncan Macdonald

Re: Oh no!

THL make quite decent Android phones - mine is a THL W8S which for a 4 year old phone has a nice spec and very good display.

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As of today, iThings are even harder for police to probe

Duncan Macdonald

Re: Is bit-rot a real phenomena? - SHOULD

Yes data SHOULD be backed up - however what proportion of users actually back up their data - probably no more than 1% of the users that have not already been bitten by lost data. If Apple (and others) wanted to add a useful new feature to phones (and PCs) - make them do an automatic backup whenever they are connected to the internet by a fast WiFi connection.

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How Ford has slammed the door on Silicon Valley's autonomous vehicles drive

Duncan Macdonald
Mushroom

Security ???

If a link to the CAN bus is provided - will it be a secure read-only link ? If not then it is only a matter of time before rogue (or badly coded) smartphone apps cause crashes as there is effectively zero internal security on the CAN bus.

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Today's WWW is built on pillars of sand: Buggy, exploitable JavaScript libs are everywhere

Duncan Macdonald

Yet another reason to use NoScript

NoScript and AdBlockPlus reduce the amount of Javascript executed in the browser thereby lowering (but not eliminating) the chance of encountering a problem.

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This ONE easy cloud trick is in DANGER. Why?

Duncan Macdonald

Management enforced cost reductions

The worst type of mess to deal with is where the development team was fired to reduce costs. When this happens the documentation (if any) usually is lost at the same time, the status of the applications (development, testing or production) is unknown, institutional knowledge is lost (must run application A before application B etc) and the result makes Internet Explorer look like a perfect program.

If you are given the job of trying to sort out such a mess - do yourself a favor and look for another job (unless you enjoy pain or you can get a VERY high hourly rate).

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Shamoon malware spawns even nastier 'StoneDrill'

Duncan Macdonald

Re: Mitigation?

For effective browser security use a VM running from a Linux live CD ISO. Do not give the VM any persistent storage and restart the VM for each new browser session. If the VM does not have access to any of its host's file system then even the most heavily boobytrapped web site should be unable to cause damage.

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Microsoft wants you to plan a new generation of legacy systems

Duncan Macdonald

Factory automation

For factories with PC controlled equipment, this could be very wothwhile. No one wants to throw out a half million quid piece of equipment because its controlling PC is running an obsolete OS. Many factories have W98 PCs running standalone machines which is acceptable if they are not networked. Modern equipment however is designed to be networked so long term support is highly desired.

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Did your in-flight entertainment widget suck? It's Panasonic's fault, claims software biz

Duncan Macdonald

Panasonic has blocked other third party products

Panasonic blocked the use of third party batteries in some of its cameras which forced the owners to pay through the nose for its own brand. I can easily see it doing the same thing again if it thought that it could get away with it.

See the following article in the reg for more details about the batteries

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/06/25/panasonic_battery_drm/

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Frustrated by reboot-happy Windows 10? Creators Update hopes to take away the pain

Duncan Macdonald

Disable Windows Update service

If you disable and stop the Windows Update service then no windows updates will occur until you reenable the service.

Another way of preventing windows updates is to change the properties of each of the network connections to "metered" as windows should not now attempt to download updates over an expensive connection.

Using either of the above methods gives you control of when updates occur.

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Samsung phones, Apple's iPhones are 'overpriced', says top Huawei exec

Duncan Macdonald

Still overpriced

Unless you play a lot of games when the extra graphics power of a high end phone might be justified, there is no point in paying over £200 for a phone. There are a lot of generic Android phones with good displays, lots of storage and micro-SD compatibility for under £200 - only pay more if there is some specific feature that you need or if you like wasting money.

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Boeing seeks patent for mobile device case with built-in fire extinguisher

Duncan Macdonald

Water

A better alternative might be to have a small water container (say 10mm thick) on the top and bottom of the tablet. This would absorb a lot of the heat if a battery failed reducing the impact on the plane. CO2 and/or Halon would not be very effective in puting out a Li-ion fire as such a battery is a self contained firework - it will continue to burn in the absence of atmospheric oxygen.

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Germany, France lobby hard for terror-busting encryption backdoors – Europe seems to agree

Duncan Macdonald

openpgp

There is already strong encryption available - OpenPGP - that is open source so any attempt to insert a backdoor would be easily detected. Anyone that needs strong encryption to evade law enforcement can already obtain it and all the wishfull thinking of the worlds politicians cannot stop it.

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Intel scales Atom to 16 cores, updates Xeon SoCs

Duncan Macdonald

Clock bug ?

Will these chips have a showstopper bug like the C2000 Atom's clock bug?

After the way that a lot of firms were burnt by the C2000 fiasco, I would expect some resistance to the use of the new chips (and probably some very tough contract terms covering any problems).

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Connected car in the second-hand lot? Don't buy it if you're not hack-savvy

Duncan Macdonald

Factory reset - default passwords and security

The factory reset may well be wiping all the customisations and resetting the security - however it is probably also going to reset the access ccodes/passwords/security tokens to the original values. If the original owner did not change them (if possible) on purchasing the car then any of his/her apps that had remote access to the car would still work. For a pre-owened car with remote access to be secure REQIRES the new owner to immediately change the access codes etc or to disable the remote access (eg by removing the antenna or wrapping it in foil).

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Human memory, or the lack of it, is the biggest security bug on the 'net

Duncan Macdonald

Reuse of passwords

Like many people I have a number of accounts - but many of them are for sites like the register where the consequences of a hack are insignificent. For such sites I often reuse simple passwords - for other sites with financial data (eg PayPal) I use strong passwords that are unique to each site.

An easy way to generate fairly strong memorable passwords - concatenate a car registration number, a friends name and the name on a bit of equipment.

eq XNO123SWendyHUDL2 (not a password that I have ever used!!!)

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Evolved DNSChanger malware slings evil ads at PCs, hijacks routers

Duncan Macdonald

Best protection ?

For users about the best that can be done seems to be removing Flash and using NoScript and AdBlockPlus and setting your PC's DNS entries to use Google's public DNS (IP addresses 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4).

The fix that is needed is to for all sites to stop linking to external ad supplier networks - all ads should be hosted on the main sites website and have NO SCRIPTING of any sort. (Possibly the way to enforce this would be to make sites liable for any damage caused by their code or code from other sites that they serve to users)

(If you are on windows 10 and cannot remove Flash from the Microsoft browsers - make yourself safer by using a different brower (Firefox or Chrome) and if you have a firewall with program control (eg Norton) then block IE and Edge from all internet access.)

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Solar-powered LoRa IoT node: Nice idea but it won't replace batteries

Duncan Macdonald

Supercapacitor ?

A supercapacitor can be recharged hundreds of thousands of times. The energy storage in a supercapacitor is tiny compared to that in a battery but should still suffice to keep a solar powered IoT node alive during the night.

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Cheap virtual box hosters – Amazon's Lightsail is out to destroy you (yes, you, Digital Ocean)

Duncan Macdonald

What is the point ?

Unless you have a very intermittent large demand - why use a cloud service?

For any reasonably predictable demand on-site equipment is almost certain to be cheaper (except for web hosting if you have a poor internet connection).

(Taking the pricing given by Platypus in his Yawn comment above - 2 cores 2GB RAM and 40GB SSD works out to $240/year - a new 4 core 4GB RAM 128GB SSD Lenovo B50-10 Laptop can be purchased for £280 on ebay - in less than 2 years this system will cost less that the lightsail setup while being twice as powerful as the lightsail setup. )

Also using an onsite server means that your data is not exposed to the NSA and whichever US companies they feel like selling it to.

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Behold, your next billion dollar market: The humble Ethernet cable

Duncan Macdonald

Only 1 billion ?

With all the cabling in computer centers and connections to desktops/printers/etc I am surprised that the annual cost of the cables is that low. (As always however the cost of the cables is tiny compared to the cost of installing them - routing cables is labor intensive.)

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Search engine results increasingly poisoned with malicious links

Duncan Macdonald

NoScript and AdBlock+

NoScript and AdBlock+ are now essentials for sane use of the internet.

I do not have Flash in any browser that I use - and as I cannot remove it from Edge I have blocked Edge (and IE and Cortana) from any internet access using the program control feature of Norton Firewall.

If an ordinary site is unusable with Noscript or AdBlock+ then I remove it from the sites that I visit.

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Ageing GSM crypto cracked on commodity graphics rig

Duncan Macdonald

Re: Not a problem

The A5/2 cipher is MUCH WEAKER than the A5/1 cipher - it fact it is so bad that the GSM association prohibited its inclusion in new phones back in 2006. The A5/3 cipher is far stronger than the A5/1 cipher and is used in GPRS / EDGE mode. Note if you make a voice call anywhere with a poor signal then fall back to GSM mode with its poor security is likely.

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Duncan Macdonald

Re: Is it me...

If the table is arranged as a ordered list then a binary search would find the answer in no more than 42 reads. With an SSD this would take well under 1 second.

As the rainbow table is not exhaustive (as it is far too small), several bits of the key must be determined by a computation (maybe by brute force) and this is what would take the bulk of the 9 seconds.

(An exhaustive rainbow table would require 2^64 entries - many exabytes.)

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DNS devastation: Top websites whacked offline as Dyn dies again

Duncan Macdonald

Use old cache data ?

If the public DNS servers algorithm was changed to continue to use the entries whose TTL had expired if it was not possible to get a reply from a master DNS server would that have any severe effects ?

(I am thinking of providing responses to users with a 60 second TTL and requerying the master DNS servers at 60 second intervals until a response is received.)

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NSA, GCHQ and even Donald Trump are all after your data

Duncan Macdonald
Mushroom

Waste their time

Send lots of heavily encrypted messages that when decrypted turn out to be bits of the Bible or Koran.

A few non-encrypted message attachments that contain weapon or rocket details extracted from public US documents should ensure that the spooks try to decrypt the rest of the messages. Send the messages to an Iranian embassy for even more amusement.

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Open-source storage that doesn't suck? Our man tries to break TrueNAS

Duncan Macdonald
Thumb Down

Re: @TP

However the performance of 150MB/sec is so low that it cannot support more than one moderate server.

Either the disks have crappy performance or the server has horrible software. The network interfaces would allow for 2 GB/Sec per controller so the network efficiency is only 7.5 percent (or if both controllers can be used together then the network efficiency is only 3.75 percent).

In fact the performance is so low that the 10GbE connections are unnecessary - a bonded pair of 1GbE links could handle the 150MB/sec throughput.

As the system has only a single SSD for the L2ARC then it is only moderately high availability as the performance will degrade badly if that SSD fails - for a true high availability system there should be NO single point of failure

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Duncan Macdonald
Thumb Down

Why hard drives and a storage server ?

With only 3TB of disk storage - what is the point of using a storage server with hard drives. Using 4 local 1TB 850 Pro SSDs would provide far better performance (and even better performance if the application server supports PCIe storage). The best case of 150MB/sec is pitiful compared to even the cheapest consumer SSDs.

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Decade-old SSH vuln exploited by IoT botnet armies to hose servers

Duncan Macdonald

Best fix - DO NOT BUY IoT devices

With the current state of play IoT devices are for IDIoTs.

If for some strange reason you want an IoT device then connect it to a wireless network that has NO connection to the internet.

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Nuke plant has been hacked, says Atomic Energy Agency director

Duncan Macdonald

Re: PDP-11

Training ENGINEERS yes - training COMPUTER SCIENCE GRADUATES no.

Confront a modern computer science graduate with a system with no GUI, code written in assembler and low level C and watch him (or her) run away as fast as possible.

Most (if not all) computer science graduates are unable to conceive of a system that is expected to run UNCHANGED for 20 years.

For critical industrial systems it is far better to get the coding done by engineers than by computer science graduates.

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Firefox to doctor Pepper so it can run Chrome's PDF, Flash plugins

Duncan Macdonald

Re: unsafe at any sandbox

The play/pause/seek/volume buttons can be part of the viewer - not the script supplied by the website. (If Windows Movie Player can implement these functions when playing a .wmv file then there is no reason why a Flash viewer could not implement these functions when playing a Flash video file.)

For most users of Flash - it is only used to play videos. For these users a crippled Flash that completely ignored all the scripting commands would be adequate. (Getting the website to change to HTML5 <video> would be better - but do not hold your breath.)

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Duncan Macdonald

Re: unsafe at any sandbox

What is needed is a crippled Flash that can ONLY play videos - with ALL the scripting removed. Likewise for the PDF viewer - it should only display and print PDF files with ALL the interactive and scripting bits removed. If this was done then the result would satisfy 99% of web users needs without the horrible security holes that the scriptable plugins have.

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IPv4 apocalypse means we just can't measure the internet any more

Duncan Macdonald

Re: I don't want to be measured!

Users do NOT control the code in a IoT device - the only way to limit its access to and from the internet is to have some type of firewall device that does not let its traffic through. A NAT router will stop J Random Hacker on the internet from connecting to the IoT device but will not block the IoT device from sending information out unless the NAT router has a firewall rule blocking outgoing traffic from the IoT device.

Of course the best way to block traffic from IoT devices is to never buy them.

For non-PC network devices (e.g. printers), access to and from the Internet should normally be completely blocked. (If IPv6 has to be used then such devices should ONLY be allocated a link local address to break any communication with the Internet.)

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Google-funded group mad that US Copyright Office hasn't abolished copyright yet

Duncan Macdonald

IIRC and Usenet

Almost any book that is worth reading (and many that are not) can be found on Usenet or the IIRC groups. The copyright laws have proven incapable of preventing this - and the politicians are not interested. The politicians are only interested in the media companies who make big donations (Hollywood, big music etc) - these companies (Disney being one of the worst offenders) have pushed for the copyright term to be raised to its current stupid length.

Copyright should be limited to no more than 20 years from first publication (or public viewing for films).

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L0phtCrack's back! Crack hack app whacks Windows 10 trash hashes

Duncan Macdonald

Car reg + serial number

In the UK at least the combination of a neighbours car number and the model number on a bit of equipment is likely to be secure and yet still easy to use.

An example (not one that I use!!!)

S357HGKAOA110Ab where S357HGK is a car registration number and AOA110Ab is the model number of a netbook.

(The car reg number above is a made up number - I do not know if it is still in use.)

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Deep inside Nantero's non-volatile carbon nanotube RAM tech

Duncan Macdonald
Headmaster

Error ms is millisecond not microsecond

A bit of editing needed in the paragraph

NRAM seems to be far faster than XPoint, and could be denser. An Intel Optane DIMM might have a latency of 7-9ms (7,000-9,000ns). Micron QuantX XPoint SSDs are expected to have latencies of 10ms for reading and 20 ms for writing; that’s 10,000 and 20,000ns respectively.

it should read

NRAM seems to be far faster than XPoint, and could be denser. An Intel Optane DIMM might have a latency of 7-9us (7,000-9,000ns). Micron QuantX XPoint SSDs are expected to have latencies of 10us for reading and 20 us for writing; that’s 10,000 and 20,000ns respectively.

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Pump-priming the new ampere: NIST works to count electrons in silicon

Duncan Macdonald

Reverse the definition

I coulomb is defined as the charge that flows in 1 second in a current of one ampere. So a current of 1 ampere is a flow of one coulomb per second.

Define the coulomb as a specific number of electrons and the definition of the ampere then becomes the flow of that number of electrons in one second.

The ampere would then be a formally defined unit.

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Li-Fi with my little eye … a vulnerability

Duncan Macdonald

Re: Reliability & infrastructure - bandwidth and interference

Using Li-Fi instead of Wi-Fi can provide higher bandwidth and no interference between adjacent rooms. The biggest advantages might come in places like conference centres where the Wi-Fi is often saturated.

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Touchy iPhone 6, 6 Plus chips prone to breaking down and giving up

Duncan Macdonald

Re: That's what people get

An analysis of the Iphone 6 by TechInsights gives a construction cost of $242.50 per phone - if Apple was content with the usual profit margin for the industry then the end user price would be around £300 - of course being Apple the price was more like £600.

(The analysis by TechInsights can be found at http://www.techinsights.com/teardown.com/apple-iphone-6/ )

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Kaspersky launches its own OS on Russian routers

Duncan Macdonald

Re: True microkernel approach?

Is the performance penalty of a micro-kernel a problem for industrial systems ? The available CPU power has increased so much over the last 2 decades that inefficient but secure systems are probably better for industrial control as most industrial systems do not do a huge amount of number crunching.

(A control system hand coded in C on a 486 could be replaced by an interpreted system running on a modern CPU and still be over 10 times faster.)

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OpenFlow controller design killing SDN, say network boffins

Duncan Macdonald

Pre allocated or dynamically allocated - same overflow problem

Heaps and pre allocated buffers both overflow - the software MUST cater for the no buffer available condition in either case.

There is always a buffering limit set by the amount of memory in the system.

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Duncan Macdonald

Object Oriented

It is not surprising that Object Oriented designs are less efficient - just like C++ is less efficient than Fortran when it comes to heavy duty mathematical processing.

Using a preallocated array is going to be faster than allocating space with NEW for each packet but current programmers have been brought up on C++ and other object oriented languages rather than the speed oriented FORTRAN language and do not realize that the elegance of object orientation comes at a cost in processing time.

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Windows 10 Anniversary Update is borking boxen everywhere

Duncan Macdonald

Re: "Where every customer is a perpetual unpaid beta tester."

When a major "update" like this one is due - stop and disable the Windows Update Service - wait until there has been at least 2 further updates to correct the worst of the problems before re-enabling the service. (Disabling the Windows Update Service works on Home and Pro.)

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Microsoft adds new 'Enterprise Products' section to privacy policy

Duncan Macdonald
Mushroom

And you believe them ?

All the agreement does is to say to M$ - interesting data here.

If you need to keep data private then do not have it on a system running a Microsoft OS that is connected to the internet.

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Windows 10: Happy with Anniversary Update?

Duncan Macdonald

Re: Use a firewall to block Cortana

Use Spybot Anti-Beacon to disable the MS data slurping.

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Duncan Macdonald

Use a firewall to block Cortana

Use the program control feature of Norton (or other) firewalls to stop Cortana from accessing the internet (and while you are at it block Internet Explorer and Edge as well. This will improve security and privacy. (Use Chrome or Firefox instead of IE or Edge. That way you can avoid the insanity of still using Flash.))

If you do not want the Windows App Store then another firewall rule to block access to the Windows Store will disable that annoyance.

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