User (computing)

4 steps to overcoming the cloud services challenge of shadow IT

Presented by IBM

A recent report by Skyhigh Networks stated that the average organization used a whopping 1,427 cloud services in Q3 of 2016, representing a 23.7 percent growth over the same quarter in the previous year. These numbers clearly illustrate the extent of the shadow IT problem. Cloud services provide several advantages of improved agility, productivity, and user experience, but they also represent significant risk for the IT and security teams.

Across the 20,000 cloud services in use today, only 8.1 percent meet the strict data security and privacy requirements of enterprises as defined by Skyhigh’s CloudTrust Program. When employees choose a cloud service, they often ignore its security limitations. In many cases, this can result in the unauthorized access of corporate data.

A large conglomerate faced this problem when members of its legal team uploaded contracts to online PDF converters, whose terms of service stated that they assumed complete ownership of all documents uploaded into their systems and that they had the right to distribute data to any third party. The legal team put its company at significant risk by uploading sensitive information to a service that could freely distribute it to any interested party.

Companies attempt to address the shadow IT problems by blocking the known risky services as they pop up. This “whack-a-mole” approach may partially address the problem, but it also increases the risk of employees finding other cloud services that are lesser known and possibly riskier. In order to overcome the challenges imposed by risky shadow IT services, CIOs and CISOs are looking for security solutions to address the key challenges.

Consider these four steps:

1. Gain visibility into shadow IT services

Enterprise CIOs are looking to get visibility into all cloud services used by employees within their company. Though existing proxies and firewalls provide some level of visibility into some cloud services, it’s not adequate for IT to make any actionable decisions. Furthermore, for informed decision-making, IT leaders are looking not only for visibility into all cloud services, but also related data points including users or teams accessing each service, data uploaded or downloaded, and usage trends over time. And, with the increasing growth in the usage of infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) platforms, enterprises are also looking to get…

How to Root Your Android Phone with Magisk (So Android Pay and Netflix Work Again)

Android users have been rooting their phones since the beginning of the operating system, but in recent years it has gotten much more complicated. More recently, a new method for handling root management has emerged, and it’s called Magisk.

What Is Magisk?

Traditionally, rooting an Android phone has gone something like this: unlock the bootloader (or find an exploit), flash a custom recovery, install SuperSU. And for years that worked very well.

But starting with Marshmallow, Google essentially blocked the most popular root methods of previous versions—dropping the “su” daemon into the /system partition and running it with the required permissions at startup. This resulted in a new sort of root access, called “systemeless” root, named such because it doesn’t modify the /system partition in any way.

As part of this increased security, things like Google SafetyNet have been put in place to keep services like Android Pay secure, which leaves users having to choose between root access and valuable services. It’s a bummer.

But that’s where Magisk comes in. This is a basically the evolution of root access and management on Android. It leaves SafetyNet untouched, so users are still able to access Android Pay and Netflix, but still allows for powerful root tools like Xposed to continue working. It’s truly the best of both worlds.

It’s completely open source, under constant development, and getting better every day. Now may be the time to make the switch to this new root solution if you’ve been concerned about losing things like Android Pay.

How to Get Started with Magisk

First, you’re going to need the Magisk file. You can read about all the benefits of Magisk and grab the download by heading over to this thread on XDA. Go ahead and grab the Magisk Manager while you’re at it—you’ll need it later. Copy both to your phone’s internal storage or SD card.

Note: If you’ve used a different root method before, you’ll have to completely unroot your device before using Magisk. We recommend the unSU Script for doing so.

You’re also going to need a custom recovery like TWRP to flash Magisk on your phone. I’m doing this process on a completely stock, bootloader-unlocked Nexus 5, so your mileage may vary.

To start the process, boot into your custom recovery. Doing this is a bit different on every phone–for example, you may have to hold the Power and Volume Down buttons simultaneously, then use the volume keys to boot “Recovery Mode”. Google instructions for your specific model to see how it’s done.

From your custom recovery, flash the Magisk ZIP you transferred to the phone earlier. In TWRP, that means tap on “Install,” then find the Magisk file. Tap on “Install Image.”

Confirm all the details here, then swipe to confirm the flash.

The file will take a few seconds to flash. Once it’s finished,…

How to Give Your Facebook Profile a Custom URL

Facebook is becoming more and more important. For lots of people, including me, it’s one of the main ways they communicate. Often when I’m travelling, I don’t give out my phone number; I just add someone as a friend on Facebook.

The problem is, if you’ve got a common name or made your profile harder for people to find, it can be really difficult for other people to add you, even when you want them to. There are thousands of John Smiths on Facebook.

The simplest thing to do is add an easy to remember username to your Facebook account, and with it, get a simple URL you can point people to.Let’s look at how.

Open Facebook, click the arrow in the top right corner and then click…

How to Set Up Multiple User Accounts in macOS

If you share your Mac with someone else, it’s a good idea to create a different user account for each of you. That way, you don’t see your husband’s email notifications, or have to sift through his bookmarks.. Here’s how to add a new account to your Mac.

This is also useful if you have kids and want to use macOS’ parental controls, so you can block particular apps and set a time limit for use. Even if you’re the only person who uses your Mac, multiple accounts can be useful: you could separate work from fun, for example, or use one account to test crazy settings without breaking your primary account.

Whatever your reason, adding more accounts is simple once you know how, so here’s the 4-1-1.

How to Add a New User Account

When you first set up your Mac, you’ll have one account—the primary administrator account for your Mac. You can add new users from this account, or any administrator account, but other accounts cannot add or manage users. If the steps below don’t work for you, ensure that you’re using an administrator account.

To add new users, head to System Preferences > Users & Groups.

You’ll see a list of users here in the left panel, but the option to add new ones is greyed out. To continue, you’ll have to press the lock button at bottom-left.

Enter your password when prompted, then you’ll find that the “+” option above the…

How to Switch Users Instantly With TouchID on macOS

Ever wish you could switch users instantly by pressing a button? Thanks to TouchID on the MacBook Pro, all it takes is the correct fingerprints.

Maybe you share a MacBook. Maybe you use two accounts to keep work and play separate. Whatever the reason, switching accounts usually means clicking the Fast User Switching icon, then picking an account to switch to, then typing your password.

It’s not a grueling process, but it’s not instant. Now, with TouchID, you can just press the TouchID button, the same way you do to turn on your MacBook Pro. The trick: do it with a finger assigned to the…

How to See Which Group Policies Are Applied to Your PC and User Account

We have shown you a lot of tips and tricks over the years that involve modifying Local Group Policy. If you would ever like to see all the Group Policy settings in effect on your PC, here’s how to do it.

In the Windows world, Group Policy provides a way for network administrators to assign specific settings to groups of users or computers. Those settings then get applied whenever a user in the group logs in to a networked PC or whenever a PC in the group is started. Local Group Policy is a slightly more limited version that applies settings only to a local computer or users—or even a group of local users. We’ve featured a number of tricks here in the past that use Local Group Policy to change settings that you can’t change anywhere else—except by editing the Windows Registry. If you’re in the habit of changing Local Group Policy settings, you might find it useful to see all the changes you’ve made in one place, rather than digging through the Local Group Policy Editor.

Note: Local Group Policy is only available in the Professional and Enterprise versions of Windows. If you’re using a Home edition, you won’t have access to the Local Group Policy Editor.

View Applied Policies with the Resultant Set of Policy Tool

The easiest way to see all the Group Policy settings you’ve applied to your PC or user account is by using the Resultant Set of Policy tool. It doesn’t show every last policy applied to your PC—for that you’ll need to use the Command Prompt, as we describe in the next section. However, it does show pretty much all the policies you will have set for regular use. And it provides a simple, graphical interface for browsing through the…

Victims Call Hackers’ Bluff as Ransomware Deadline Nears

With the clock ticking on whether a global hacking attack would wipe out his data, Bolton Jiang had no intention of paying a 21st-century ransom.

Since a week ago, when the malware first struck, Mr. Jiang has been busily fixing and replacing computers at the electronics company where he works in Shanghai. Paying is a bother, he said, and there was no guarantee he would get his data back.

“Even if you do pay, you won’t necessarily be able to open the files that are hit,” he said. “There is no solution to it.”

Tens of thousands of computer users around the world faced the same dilemma on Friday, their last chance to pay the anonymous hackers behind the ransomware attack known as WannaCry. The malicious software exposed the widespread vulnerability of computers and offered a peek at how a new type of crime could be committed on a global scale.

As part of the hacking, attackers demanded that individuals pay a fee to regain control of their machines, or face losing their data.

The latest strain of ransomware was particularly virulent, experts warned, because it had been based on software stolen from the National Security Agency. Law enforcement agencies in the United States and elsewhere have been hunting for the culprits, with attention focused on hackers linked to North Korea.

Despite a week of widespread disruption, the total ransom paid so far looks relatively modest. An online tracking system showed that the amount sent in the electronic currency Bitcoin to accounts listed by the attackers had begun to plateau on Wednesday, and had reached about $90,000 on Friday afternoon in Europe. Early estimates of what the virus could ultimately earn had ranged into the tens of millions or even hundreds of millions of dollars. Victims have seven days to pay from when their computers were originally infected, so the deadline will vary from case to case.

A number of people and companies have struck a defiant tone. The Japanese conglomerate Hitachi, which had been identified in the news media as a victim, declined to confirm those reports on Friday but said that it had no intention of paying a ransom and that it aimed to be fully secure against future attacks by Monday.

Nissan Motor, another Japanese industrial giant, also said it would not pay a ransom. Its factory in Sunderland, England, was affected, but the company said it had not lost data.

Owners of the more than 200,000 computers across the globe that have been hit by the malware face similar decisions. Those affected, including hospitals, government offices and universities, have lost access to business information, term papers and even medical records that could involve matters of life or death.

In Britain, whose National Health Service was one of the largest organizations affected by the ransomware, some medical institutions were…

How to Customize (and Colorize) Your Bash Prompt

Most Linux distributions configure the Bash prompt to look something like username@hostname:directory$ . But you can configure the Bash prompt to contain whatever you like, and even choose whatever colors you like.

The example steps here were performed on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS. The process should be the same on other Linux distributions, although the default Bash prompt and settings in the .bashrc file may be a bit different.

Where the Prompt Variable is Stored

Your Bash prompt configuration is stored in your user account’s .bashrc file, which is at ~/.bashrc. So, if your username is bob, the file is at /home/bob/.bashrc.

You can open the file to view the current Bash variable. We’ll use nano as our example text editor, although you could also use vi, emacs, or any other text editor you’re comfortable with. Open a Terminal and run:

nano ~/.bashrc

Scroll down to the PS1= section. The first variable looks rather complicated because it includes color information—we’ll explain that later. The second variable, without color information, reads as follows:

${debian_chroot:+($debian_chroot)}\u@\h:\w\$

This is still a little complicated due to the ${debian_chroot:+($debian_chroot)} bits. These just tell Bash to let you know if you’re using a Debian chroot environment and normally won’t be shown. Ignoring those, here’s the default structure of the Bash prompt variable:

\u@\h:\w\$

\u indicates your username, @ indicates the @ sign, \h indicates the hostname (computer name), : indicates the : character, \w indicates the working directory, and \$ indicates a $ if you’re a normal user account or # if you’re root. So, putting that all together, you get username@hostname:working_directory$.

To change your Bash prompt, you just have to add, remove, or rearrange the special characters in the PS1 variable. But there are many more variables you can use than the default ones.

Leave the text editor for now—in nano, press Ctrl+X to exit. We’ll show you how to experiment with variables before actually writing a new one into your .bashrc file.

How to Create a Custom Bash Prompt

Your Bash prompt configuration is stored in the PS1 variable. To save the contents of the PS1 variable into a new variable, run the following command:

DEFAULT=$PS1

You can now set the PS1 variable to different values to experiment. For example, the first line here would set your prompt to a basic “user$” prompt, while the second would set your prompt to a basic “user:working_directory$” prompt.

PS1="\u\$ " PS1="\u:\w\$ "

If you ever want to get back to your default prompt, just run the following command.

PS1=$DEFAULT

Bash will be restored to its default prompt thanks to the fact that you saved those default settings earlier. Note that any changes you make here are only temporary for the current Bash session, so you can always sign out and sign back in or close and reopen the terminal window to go back to your default prompt. But the above line makes it possible to easily get back to your default Bash prompt without the hassle of signing out or closing a window.

You can add any characters or text to the variable. So, to prefix the default prompt with “Hello World”, you could use:

PS1="Hello World \u@\h:\w\$ "

Now that you’ve got the basics down, you just need to know what all the special characters are. You probably won’t care about many of these, but here’s the full list as it appears in the Bash manual:

  • A bell character: \a
  • The date, in “Weekday Month Date” format (e.g., “Tue May 26”): \d
  • The format is passed to strftime(3) and the result is inserted into the prompt string; an empty format results in a locale-specific time representation. The braces are required: \D{format}
  • An escape character: \e
  • The hostname, up to the first ‘.’: \h
  • The hostname: \H
  • The number of jobs currently managed by the shell: \j
  • The basename of the shell’s terminal device name: \l
  • A newline: \n
  • A carriage return: \r
  • The name of the shell, the basename of $0 (the portion following the final slash): \s
  • The time, in 24-hour HH:MM:SS format: \t
  • The time, in 12-hour HH:MM:SS format: \T
  • The time, in 12-hour am/pm format: \@
  • The time, in 24-hour HH:MM format: \A
  • The username of the current user: \u
  • The version of Bash (e.g., 2.00): \v
  • The release of Bash, version + patchlevel (e.g., 2.00.0): \V
  • The current working directory, with $HOME abbreviated with a tilde (uses the $PROMPT_DIRTRIM variable): \w
  • The basename of $PWD, with $HOME abbreviated with a tilde: \W
  • The history number of this command: \!
  • The command number of this command: \#
  • If the effective uid is 0, #, otherwise $: \$
  • The character whose ASCII code is the octal value nnn: \nnn

How to Install Python on Windows

Python doesn’t come prepackaged with Windows, but that doesn’t mean Windows users won’t find the flexible programming language useful. It’s not quite a simple as installing the newest version however, so let’s make sure you get the right tools for the task at hand.

First released in 1991, Python is a popular high-level programming language used for general purpose programming. Thanks to a design philosophy that emphasizes readability it has long been a favorite of hobby coders and serious programmers alike. Not only is it an easy language (comparatively speaking, that is) to pick up but you’ll find thousands of projects online that require you have Python installed to use the program.

Which Version Do You Need?

Unfortunately, there was a significant update to Python several years ago that created a big split between Python versions. This can make things a bit confusing to newcomers, but don’t worry. We’ll walk you through installing both major versions

When you visit the Python for Windows download page, you’ll immediately see the division. Right at the top, square and center, the repository asks if you want the latest release of Python 2 or Python 3 (2.7.13 and 3.6.1, respectively, as of this tutorial).

Newer is better, right? Maybe so, maybe not. The version you want depends on your end goal. Let’s say, for example, that you read our article about expanding your Minecraft world with MCDungeon and are excited to add cool stuff to your worlds. That project is coded in Python and requires Python 2.7—you can’t run the MCDungeon project with Python 3.6. In fact, if you’re exploring hobby projects like MCDungeon, you’ll find that nearly all of them use 2.7. If your goal is to get some project that ends in a “.py” extension up and running, then there’s a very, very good chance you’ll need 2.7 for it.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to actually learn Python, we recommend installing both versions side by side (which you can do with zero risk and only a tiny bit of setup hassle). This lets you work with the newest version of the language, but also run older Python scripts (and test backwards compatibility for newer projects). Comparing the two versions is an article unto itself, though, so we’ll defer to the Python project wiki where you can read their well written overview of the differences.

You can download just Python 2 or Python 3 if you’re sure you only need a particular version. We’re going the distance today and will be installing both of them, so we recommend you download both versions and do the same. Under the main entry for both versions you’ll see an “x86-64” installer, as seen below.

This installer will install the appropriate 32-bit or 64-bit version on your computer automatically (here’s some further reading if you want to know more about the differences between the two).

How to Install Python 2

Installing Python 2 is a snap, and unlike in years past, the installer will even set the path variable for you (something we’ll be getting into a bit later). Run the installer, select “Install for all users,” and then click “Next.”

On the directory selection screen, leave the directory as “Python27” and click “Next.”

On the customization screen,…

You can no longer download Netflix on rooted Android phones

Image: mashable / brittany herbert

If you’re an Android user with a rooted phone — there’s bad news for you.

Netflix may no longer work on your rooted or unlocked device, due to an update to the app. Netflix now fully relies on Google’s Widevine DRM, the company told Android Police. The change comes not long after Netflix enabled downloads for offline…