Unlocking Cell Phones Finally Legal (Again)

Last week President Obama signed a bill that now makes unlocking cell phones legal (again). The law has gone back-and-forth several times arguing that unlocking a cell phone violated the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act which prohibits Americans from bypassing technologies that protect things that are copyrighted. But for now it is officially legal to unlock your mobile device.

This new law has made some very happy, some upset, and a lot of people just don’t really care. There are also some who simply don’t understand what this all means for the average cell phone user. Let us break it down for you:

unlocking cell phonesWhat is Cell Phone Unlocking?

Most cell phones that are sold in the United States have a certain software lock system in place that prohibits the device from being used on competing networks. By unlocking this software, it allows for phones to be used across different cell carriers.

Why is it Important?

The biggest impacts that cell phone unlocking has on everyday users are that you can now take your current phone with you if you switch carriers. This eliminates the need to buy a new phone with your new contract. It also allows some international travelers to take their phones with them on their trips and actually use them overseas, depending on their device.

What you need to know

Even though unlocking a cell phone may seem easy and that it works for everyone, that’s not the case. There are a few things you should know about unlocking your cell phone.

Just because it is unlocked, doesn’t mean that you can take any phone to any carrier. Cell phone carriers use different network technology. While some use GSM, others use CDMA. You cannot use the same phone if you are switching to a carrier that uses a different network technology. For example, a Verizon phone cannot be used on an AT&T network.

Cell phones are made and optimized specifically for the network that distributes them. If you take your phone to a new carrier, certain features may not work properly or even at all on a different network.

How to unlock your phone

It doesn’t cost anything to get your phone unlocked. But your cell phone carrier can refuse to unlock your device if you aren’t in good standing with the company or your contract isn’t expired.

The process of unlocking your phone is fairly simple, just call your mobile service provider and they will provide you with unlock codes or software updates that will unlock your device. If they have a different process, they can usually unlock your phone remotely or in-store.

Although having the ability and freedom to unlock your phone is great, it may not last. Similarly to how the previous act making it illegal expired, this new act will expire in three years. Unless it is renewed by Congress, it too will be reversed. What do you think of this new law? Will you be unlocking your cell phone?

Sources: FCC & CNET

Ransomware: Protect your files or lose them forever

In October of 2013, Antivirus companies discovered a new ransomware known as Cryptolocker. Since then, after many attempts at blocking and killing the software attacks, a new version came out, and both are “seized” according to Deputy Attorney General James Cole. The leader, Evgeniy Bogachev, is even wanted by the FBI. Whenever one attack is stopped, there is almost always another that is stronger and less detectable than the last. Here is the low-down on ransomware.

What is Cryptolocker Ransomware?
Ransomware is a type of malware which restricts access to the computer system that it infects, and demands a ransom paid to the creator(s) of the malware in order for the restriction to be removed. Cryptolocker ransomware is particularly nasty because infected users are in danger of losing their files… forever.


These messages have been targeted to businesses through phishing attacks. The only way to unlock your files is by using a private key stored on the cybercriminal’s server. Infected users must pay $300 USD to receive this private key. There is also a time limit placed on this, if you exceed it, you’re files could be lost forever.

Here is a list of file extensions that are targeted and encrypted so you can’t access them after attack:

3fr, accdb, ai, arw, bay, cdr, cer, cr2, crt, crw, dbf, dcr, der, dng, doc, docm, docx, dwg, dxf, dxg, eps, erf, indd, jpe, jpg, kdc, mdb, mdf, mef, mrw, nef, nrw, odb, odm, odp, ods, odt, orf, p12, p7b, p7c, pdd, pef, pem, pfx, ppt, pptm, pptx, psd, pst, ptx, r3d, raf, raw, rtf, rw2, rwl, srf, srw, wb2, wpd, wps, xlk, xls, xlsb, xlsm, xlsx

Here is further insight on Cryptolocker.

How do you protect yourself?

When you see the message like the one shown above, it’s actually too late. You need to prevent ransomware before it starts.

First off, be aware of how to identify malicious emails in your inbox.

Second, make sure you have a program on your computer that blocks these types of attacks. Losing access to all your files can be detrimental for your business. Protect yourself and your client’s information that is stored on your computer by investing in an anti-malware software. FlexTech offers programs that will both protect against ransomware, and help to recover files in the unfortunate event you are attacked.

Contact us to get more information or with questions you have regarding suspicious activity on your computer.

Source: Cryptolocker Ransomware: What You Need To Know

Zeus Malware Used in Targeted Email Attacks

Your Vital Banking and Personal Information is at risk! Virus and Malware attacks are getting more advanced and slipping through our spam filters everyday. Keep in mind many of these emails look legitimate, so just because it’s from someone you know doesn’t mean it is safe. So how do you detect malware in your inbox?

The most recent example of this is an evolved strain of Zues malware that has been discovered using the Windows ‘PIF’ file extension to steal information from compromised computer systems. These are legitimate looking emails targeted to personal and business inboxes with malicious links that could capture private information like your:

  • Financial information
  • IP address
  • Email credentials
  • And even screen shots of your activity

Here are some of the example emails being sent:

Email subject: Failed delivery for package #1398402
File name: pdf_canpost_RT000961269SG.zip
VirusTotal detection rate: 2 percent

Email subject: Pending consumer complaint
File name: ftc_pdf_complaint.zip
VirusTotal detection rate: 11 percent

Lure email examples:

3583.Zeus PIF_2_s.jpg-550x0

4505.Zeus PIF_1_s.jpg-550x0

8358.Zeus PIF_3._sjpg.jpg-550x0

Here are ways to tell whether an email you’ve received is malicious:
1. There is always going to be a link. Move your mouse over the link to show the real address, and if it doesn’t match what you expect, it’s probably malicious.
2. Are there files attached with zip or htm extensions?
3. Outlook detects the email as a potential phishing or unsafe email.

If you are concerned you’ve been targeted in a malicious attack, call us. We’ll review the email(s) you’ve received and guide you on how to proceed.

Don’t click a link you’re unsure of! You’re secure information could be on the line.

Sources: ZDNet, Websense, PowerBiz

Comcast Home Routers Turn Into Wi-Fi Hotspots

Comcast has started the project of swapping out home Wi-Fi routers and replacing them with ones that can double as public hotspots. As of June the company has already done this to 3 million home devices and plans on converting another 5 million before the end of the year. As of now this project has spread across the United States. Boston, Chicago, Houston, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Seattle are just a few of the cities expected to have new Comcast home routers installed. Although some may have their doubts, representatives from Comcast insist that families shouldn’t experience any conflict resulting from this update. They also offer an opt out policy where, at the customer’s request, they will deactivate the public hotspot router.

comcast home router


Each of the new routers has two separate antennae so people can’t gain access to your personal network. The hotspot has its own network and antenna. The strength of the router will stay the same, people will have to be inside your home or business to access the network. Everyone using the hotspot must sign in with his or her own Xfinity account.

Connection Speed:

Since each network has its own antenna, people using the hotspot wont slow down your personal Internet connection. The private network will continue to run at 25 megabits per second while the hotspot will run at 15 and will only support five people using it at one time.

Benefit of Updated Comcast Home Routers:

If you have an Xfinity account with Comcast you can register your devices and be continuously connected no matter your location. Whether you are waiting in the lobby at the doctor’s office, or at your friend’s house watching the game you no longer need to ask for the passwords to connect to the internet.

Disadvantage of Updated Comcast Home Routers:

When you add another access point to the network there is always an increase in security risk. While Comcast is opening up an access point for people to use the Internet, they are also opening an access point to network hackers. Even though Comcast is sure in their security measures, there’s always a chance.

Is this advancement in router technology something you would take advantage of?


Source: http://money.cnn.com/2014/06/16/technology/security/comcast-wifi-hotspot/