Virtual Payment Cards – What You Need to Know

The year 2018 is on pace to be the second-worst ever in terms of data breaches, with over 3600 breaches that compromised more than 3 billion records. Corporate America is either unwilling or unable to protect consumers from the theft of credit/debit card data entrusted to e-commerce sites. And yes this means Linden Labs as well with numerous reports to our support system alone about account and credit card breaches!  So here are some tips to help you protect yourself…

Protect Yourself With Virtual Payment Cards

Data breaches are reported with alarming regularity, and can result in your name, address, phone number and credit card detail being sold online to the highest bidder on the dark web. This gives identity thieves and scammers all the information they need to place an online order, as if they were you.

Given that data breaches are likely to continue happening, consumers are well advised to seek out ways to buy things online without directly sharing their credit card details with online stores. Here are some ways to do that.

PayPal, Square Cash, and Venmo are examples of “payment agents.” PayPal, for example, stores your payment card data securely. It pays your tab when you check out on an e-commerce site, and charges the amount to your card. The seller never gets your card details. But not all e-tailers accept such indirect payments; they insist on card details. For them, another solution exists. “Virtual credit/debit cards” function like a temporary or disposal credit card that is valid for only one transaction. You get a card number, expiration date, and security code, minus the plastic. After you use that virtual card to pay for something, it can never be used again. Your real card is charged the amount of the transaction. The online store where you made the purchase never sees your real card’s details.

And guess what else? They can’t ding you for those sneaky recurring “membership,” “subscription,” or “renewal” fees.

Virtual cards are available from some card issuers, including Bank of America ShopSafe, Capital One ENO, and Citi Virtual Account Numbers. The latter are available only on select cards; log into your Citi account to see if your card qualifies. Some credit unions offer virtual debit card numbers that work with the Visa debit cards issued with new accounts. If your bank or credit union does not offer virtual cards, there are third-party services that can give your one-time virtual card details and charge the amount to a real card whose details you provide. Privacy.com is one such service. Blur Premium is a comprehensive privacy app that includes virtual card numbers as one feature (Blur calls them “masked” card numbers).

Other Options for Virtual Cards

There are more features to virtual cards than just “use once” security. You may also be able to create a virtual card that works repeatedly but only with one merchant that you specify. You may be able to set an expiration date of up to one year on a virtual card; that effectively shuts down automatic annual renewals. When used, these features can make stolen card numbers virtually useless to thieves, while sparing you the hassle of generating a new card number for every transaction.

Virtual cards are not accepted by all merchants, unfortunately. There are various reasons why a merchant might reject virtual cards; the most legitimate one is that additional fees of 2-4% associated with the use of virtual cards are taken out of the merchant’s receipts.

Virtual cards are not invulnerable protection against fraud. But they do provide strong protection against unauthorized use of your card details. Talk to your bank or card issuer about virtual cards and other enhanced security features you may not know about. Implementing enhanced security could spare you financial loss, and it will definitely give you greater peace of mind.

So be safe in every online transaction, and have a great week From all of us on the ZI Staff.

 

 

Got Malicious Chrome Extensions?

If you are like most Chrome is a staple in our everyday internet lives as well as the extension in Second Life web browser.Your web browser is your first line of defense against all manner of cyber attacks. But some disturbing reports of malicious Chrome extensions that resist most manual removal efforts have led me to wonder just how good Google is at keeping malicious extensions out of the Play Store, and how committed Google is to doing so. Read on for the scoop…

Is Google Doing All It Can To Protect Against Malicious Chrome Extensions?

Google puts a lot of effort into making the Chrome browser safe and secure. But when third-party extensions are added, your level of security may drop to zero. Browser extensions have nearly full access to the web pages you visit, so in addition to spying on your activity, a malicious extension can steal passwords, user your computer to mine cryptocurrency, and make you an unwitting participant in click fraud schemes.

The recent discovery of a uniquely stubborn rogue extension quickly led to revelations of others, and to the company’s alarming admission that over a thousand malicious apps are uploaded to the Play Store every single month. Equally disturbing is Google’s apparently lackadaisical response to the first extension; after being notified of its presence, Google took 19 days to remove it from the Play Store!

A company spokesperson stated that this extension and another user-resistant malicious app were “automatically removed… from the machines of affected users.” Now, “automatic” implies “fast,” but these removals did not happen until hours after Ars Technica published a post about them and the weeks-long delay in getting attention paid to the first one!

Malicious chrome extensions

The malicious apps in question were “Tiempo en Colombia en vivo” (Weather in Columbia Live), a Chrome extension, and “Play Red Bull version 4,” ostensibly a children’s game that runs in Chrome. They are both gone, but the way they were handled has left a sour taste in many mouths.

James Oppenheim, who reviews children’s games professionally, is one of those whose lips are twisted bitterly. The rogue “game” contained a logo that named his site, jamesgames.com, as the official home of the malware! James notes that he has never written an extension; he reviews games, he does not create them. appears that whoever published it knows enough about what I do reviewing kid’s software to think that my name would help make the malware more trustworthy,” Oppenheim told Ars.

Adding insult to that injury, he says that a week after he reported the offending app via the “REPORT ABUSE” button on its Play Store page, he had absolutely no response from Google and the malware remained available… and aimed at children, mind you!

You can protect yourself by installing only browser extensions to those that are well-established, with many thousands of positive reviews, and preferably millions of existing users. The Chrome Web Store displays star ratings, and the number of user reviews on the category pages. When you click to see the details of an extension, you can see how many users have installed it, and read the reviews.

The “game’s” page said it had 27,781 users at the time Oppenheim investigated it. Many of them posted warnings that the thing was malware. “Makes me wonder how seriously Google is taking this problem,” he said in his email to Ars Technica’s Security Editor, Dan Goodin.

Fumbling the Ball

I wonder too. Google’s spokesperson didn’t even get the word “Ball” right in the response that Goodin finally received, substituting “Bull.” Funny, that’s exactly what I think is Google’s response to this security failure! There’s a lot more to this story as told by Oppenheim and Goodin, but I think we have the gist: Google didn’t just fumble the ball, it was disgracefully late to the game.

I mentioned earlier that 1000+ malicious apps are uploaded to the Play Store every month, and the great majority of those are automatically flagged and removed. So it’s not fair to say that Google isn’t trying to protect their users. But you can only do so much with automation. When you’re dealing with numbers of users in the tens or hundreds of millions, a success rate of 99.9% is not nearly good enough.

I get it: Google Chrome is the world’s most-used browser by several country miles; it’s the first and often only target of every hacker. But Google knows that, and Google has plenty of money to throw at problems like this. If they don’t have enough people to handle problems like this, I refer you to the previous sentence. When problems are pro-actively reported by real humans who are saying “Hey, this is malware!” they should be acted on swiftly.

This sort of failure to protect, and delay in remediation, and defense of indefensible obtuseness, is simply unacceptable. Google, you must do better here. If you want better security just DON’T Use Chrome or it’s apps! Its really that simple use Firefox or Windows built in browser and make damn sure you have malwarebytes and a good anti-virus program and know where your apps are coming from.

Have a safe week from all of us on the ZI Staff

 

 

WiFi 6 Is Coming Early 2019

If your like me you use WiFi most of the time to access Second Life on a Laptop with sometimes slower than normal speed. So you move around to get the best possible signal only to crash and end up having to connect  the Ethernet cable back in to navigate through Second Life normally. Good news WiFi 6 is a coming!

When the first standard for wireless networking was released in 1997, it supported a maximum data speed of only 2 Mbps. Subsequent advances brought us new WiFi standards known as IEEE 802.11a, 802.11b, and 802.11g. In 2009, devices using the 802.11n standard achieved 600 Mbps. The latest standard, 802.11ac, can hit 1,200 Mbps over short distances, but in early 2019, eye-watering WiFi speeds of 4,800 Mbps will become available. Along with that blazing speed will come other changes to wireless network naming and features. Here’s what you need to know…

What is WiFi 6 (and why is it called that)?

Instead of another unwieldy version of “IEEE 802.11whatever.” the new Wi-Fi standard will be known simply as “Wi-Fi 6,” denoting the sixth generation of wireless networking technology. Retroactively, older standards will be renamed W-Fi 5, Wi-Fi 4, and so on. New logos will make it easy to tell at a glance what standard you are buying. (Wi-Fi 6 is technically IEEE 802.11ax, if you prefer the old naming convention.)

Like earlier versions, Wi-Fi 6 will have two frequency bands available to it, starting at 2.4 and 5.0 GHz. The 2.4 GHz band will support up to 1,100 Mbps via 4 data streams. The 5.0 GHz band will support at least 4,800 Mbps via 8 data streams, enough throughput to make 8K video a reality. The Wi-Fi 6 standard is still being improved ahead of its launch next year; in lab tests it has reached up to 10,000 Mbps – 10 Gigabits of data transmitted every second! It’s safe to say we will see data speeds 4 to 10 times faster than today’s fastest.

There will be several bottlenecks that will constrain the actual throughput that you see in your home network. First, your ISP may not let you have access to gigabit-speed Internet connections, or charge too much for it.

You can still achieve top speeds between components of your home network, such as the TV monitor and a media server, but only if both ends of a connection are equipped with Wi-Fi 6 technology. Otherwise, you’ll be constrained to the fastest speed supported by the slower device.

As always, the environment in which your home wireless network operates will influence the network’s throughput. Thick walls, ceilings, and floors between nodes will degrade throughput, especially on the faster but more interference-sensitive 5.0 GHz band. Sources of radio frequency interference (RFI) such as microwave ovens, electric motors, and so on will degrade throughput. Longer distances between nodes yield slower speeds.

WiFi 6 promises greater energy efficiency, so batteries should last longer and household electricity bills may be somewhat lower. It’s hard to quantify what the energy savings will be until after the launch of WiFi 6 products next year, but I suspect the amount of electricity consumed by your WiFi router and phone charger is not a major contributor to the monthly bill.

Plane, Trains and Coffee Shops

Refinements in firmware should produce better performance in crowded environments such as coffee shops and airport lounges. It may be easier to get a strong signal; only time will tell.

And just so there’s no confusion on this point, this is for wifi networking only. The WiFi 6 standard won’t help to boost mobile data speeds on your smartphone or tablet. The mobile data network (currently known as 4G) is entirely separate from your home (or coffee shop) WiFi network, and speed depends on other factors, such as how close you are to a cell tower, the terrain, and the weather.

Top average download speeds for mobile phones range from 30 to 50 Mbps, but 5G networking is also coming in 2019. Check with your carrier to find out if it will happen any time soon in your neighborhood.

There’s not much consumers need to do right now to prepare for WiFi 6. Just be aware that it’s coming in the first half of 2019, and consider postponing any hardware upgrades until it debuts. Those would include laptops, routers, WiFi adapters, streaming devices, and anything else that connects to the Internet via wireless networking.

Have a great week from all of us on the Zi Staff

Windows 10 Safe Mode: The Easy Way

The Safe Mode of Windows should be seeing a lot less use these days. After all, Windows 10 is the most trouble-free operating system of all time. Right? Who needs Safe Mode? Actually, you do. Everyone needs Safe Mode, eventually. Here’s the ‘secret’ easy way to boot your computer in Safe Mode…

The Safe Mode Dance

It’s written before that Safe Mode is like a bomb shelter when Windows explodes. That may not be a perfect analogy, but this handy Windows feature can make troubleshooting certain common problems simpler.

That’s why it’s a shame that Safe Mode is being buried ever deeper in the catacombs of the Settings sub menus in Windows 10. Even the “press F8 key” method during startup (that has been the standard since Windows 3.0) has been disabled. I’ve detailed two steps necessary to enter Safe Mode from the Start menu. If you start from the Sign-In screen, there are “only” 1 step to get into Safe Mode.

invoke Safe Mode:

Method 1: From the Start menu

  • From the Start menu, choose Settings.
  • Click on “Update and Security”
  • Select “Recovery” from the left-hand column, then click on Restart Now.
  • Wait a bit until the “Startup Settings” menu appears (screenshot Startup Menu.jpg)
  • Click on Troubleshoot, then Advanced Options, then Startup Settings
  • Click on Restart

Method 2: From the Sign-In screen:

  • Restart your PC.
  • When the Sign-In screen appears, select the Power button and click on Restart.
  • When the “Startup Settings” menu appears:
  • Click on Troubleshoot, then Advanced Options, then Startup Settings
  • Click on Restart

In either Method 1 or 2, when the system restarts, you will see a menu of options; you can choose to start Safe Mode without networking, or start Safe Mode with networking.

Since the “press F8 while the computer is starting” trick no longer works, and both of the above methods require that Windows be at least partially up and running, you might be wondering how to get into Safe Mode when you can’t boot up at all. I’ve not been able to verify this, but Microsoft says that if Windows tries to start and is unsuccessful twice, it will automatically start in Windows Recovery mode. From there, you select Troubleshoot, and follow the steps outlined above.

Once you’re in Safe Mode, you can run your anti-virus program, try System Restore to roll back recent system changes, or uninstall recently added software. If a printer, scanner or other device isn’t working correctly, you can visit the manufacturer’s website and download a new driver for it.

Yet Safe Mode keeps popping up everywhere. For some reason, there are now more than a dozen ways to get into Windows 10 Safe Mode. It’s as if the development team really hates Safe Mode and tries to discourage its use. But Safe Mode is so useful that some other interest group lobbies successfully to get it included in parts of Windows it’s never been in before. The bottom line is confusion for most consumers.

Windows 10 Safe Mode - the easy way

But there is one simple, fast way to get into Safe Mode not just once, but every time you reboot “until further notice.” This trick is very handy when troubleshooting malware, startup programs, or driver issues, a process that can take lots of patience and many reboots.

Here’s the “secret” easy way to enable Safe Mode, discovered by uber-geeks who are sequestered in a dark basement, somewhere deep within the bowels of the earth…

In the Start menu’s search box type msconfig and press Enter to open the System Configuration app. (If you hear deep, guttural moans during this process, do not worry, that’s normal.) On the Boot tab, check the box next to Safe boot. Notice the options under Safe boot in the screenshot:

Windows 10 Safe Mode options

Minimal

    • : (recommended) normal Safe Mode with graphical interface

Alternate shell

    • : (geeky) Safe Mode using only the Command Prompt

Active Directory repair

    • : (even more geeky) for repairing an Active Directory server

Network

    : (optional) like Minimal, but with networking support

You may want to choose Network enable networking in Safe Mode if you anticipate needing the Internet while troubleshooting in Safe Mode. Otherwise, Minimal is all most consumers need.

Click OK and close System Configuration. Now, whenever you reboot, you will reboot into Safe Mode. You can tell you are in Safe Mode by the plain black desktop and the words “Safe Mode” in all four corners of the display. To return to normal, run System Configuration and uncheck the “Safe boot” box.

Safe Mode can save many a “hopeless” situation, by allowing you to start Windows and run recovery tools when you can’t start Windows in the normal way. In Safe Mode, no third-party software gets loaded, so malware or corrupted drivers are gone. From that pristine state, you can begin to repair and restore your system.

You can tweak your auto-start programs one by one, run a virus scan, access System Restore, or try other repair options available in Safe Mode.

Your Windows 10 PC should reboot in Safe Mode automatically if it crashes more than twice, but it’s good to know how to boot in Safe Mode manually.

Have you used Safe Mode to solve a problem?

Have a great week and for those who didn’t attend the Zoha Islands Birthday party Make A Wish Concert watch out for the concert Photos next week.

The ZI Staff

13th Annual Make a Wish Concert. November 17th 2018

It’s that time again to get your Second Life dancing shoes on and head on over to Muddy’s Cafe for the 13th Annual Make a wish concert. Check out this one off line up.

 

This is Zoha Islands 11th year in business and with that we would like to donate this celebration to the Make A Wish Foundation with the best of the best. For the past 11 years Zoha Islands has supported Make A Wish with some of the BEST LIVE MUSIC you will ever hear.

 Taking the stage is the finest lineup after weeks of searching. November 17th 2018 you can see this one off concert!

Starting the event at 2pm SLT  AMFORTE Clarity, A storyteller, AMForte has captivated audiences with her tales of life and travels, experiences of being a Canadian living in the US and her daily challenges. She’s a singer/songwriter with an amazing voice and warmth of character that will make you think of her as more of a friend! With influences that include U2, Nirvana, RadioHead, Alanis Morissette, Coldplay, Placebo, The Cranberries, and Elliott Smith, she plays mostly her own originals, and her cover tunes are songs she has taken and made her own. https://www.amfortemusic.com/

At 3pm SLT The first musician to ever do a make a wish concert. RoseDrop Rust, aka Dan Linn, aka Rusty, grew up in Portland Oregon where his mother taught him to play the ukulele, and his father installed frets on a Hawaiian steel guitar, which become his first guitar. His father sold records and managed a band, while Rusty took classical piano lessons for eight years. Rusty began his career playing open mikes with his brother and later played by himself at coffee houses singing protest songs. Rosedrop’s style is sensitive ballads, classic rock and roll, unusual covers, unique songs from personal friends and heartfelt originals. http://rosedropmedia.com/

At 4pm SLT WolfStarFire: With her love of music firmly in tow, Wolfie has released her first album which is a heartfelt blend of contemporary pop, country, and blues. Each song on her album is written by herself, making sure that her music and lyrics are moving, inspirational, and thoughtful. This ensures that more than a few of her songs will get stuck in your head while you listen to each of her tracks.

Wolfie believes that music should tell a story or a lesson in life, which leads her to write songs that have real meaning and lyrics that others can relate to them. This makes sure that each song expresses how she feels while still encouraging each listener to discover what each song can mean to themselves. https://thekeyslivemusic.wordpress.com/wolfie-starfire/

At 5pm SLT Red Heaven, an Ottawa-based four-piece music powerhouse of original rock, blues, and world music. Formed in 2011, they’ve released four albums (“Amplification,” “Moth,” “Echolocation,” and “200 Years”) and two EPS (“The Undivided Heart,” and “The Little Temple”). Red Heaven’s Joel Tamas (guitar and voice), Mike McNeil (drums), Tom McMahon (bass), and Rachelle Behrens (voice) bring unique, diverse, and wild songs to the stage in a fun show you’re sure to remember. http://redheaven.ca/

And at 6pm SLT closing the show Aubryn Melody, Aubryn started singing at a very early age, taking piano lessons and even writing song lyrics. She always felt in her heart that she was born to do one very important thing; music. Playing the Acoustic Guitar, Aubryn has now returned back to SL after a long break, and she is ready to share her passion of music with all of us! https://www.aubrynmusic.com/

After over a decade in business Zoha Islands continues to bring the very best in second life real estate needs, and brings out the very best of residents that continue to make us the Top Estate company in second life. With continued support of the Make A Wish Foundation Zoha Islands has had great success in the efforts of raising awareness for such a great cause. Read the story’s yourself from these inspiring kid’s http://wish.org/wishes/wish-stories

Muddys Cafe has been around a long time and is one of the sponsors this year. Donating not only the venue but a newfound support in the effort to help make the residents of Second life through commercial advertising more aware that we can make a difference in a child’s life through Make A Wish.

Please Set your land stream to http://muddys.digistream.info:20398/ and listen to the professionalism of Muddy’s Cafe if you want to listen to the concert via the web please click here http://muddys.digistream.info:20398/index.html?sid=1

You can take the limo to http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Muddys/128/128/21

Remember to give until it hurt’s at the Make A Wish site

We would like to thank in advance the great Musicians that made time for this years concert and to Muddy’s Cafe/ Muddy Radio and to ALL of the residents that have made this one of the BEST concerts ever to happen in second life for 13 years.

See you all there November 17th 2018 @ 2pm

Have a great week

The ZI Staff.

Windows 10 October 2018 Update still not released, and ran out of October.

Latest fixes address an issue with extracting files from ZIP archives.

The beginning of October the question was ” Do we go ahead and do the Windows 10 October Update? And now into November we are still waiting for Microsoft to get their proverbial sh!t together.

Microsoft is making yet more fixes to Windows 10 build 17763, the build that has been blessed as the Windows 10 October 2018 Update.

The update was initially published on the first Tuesday of the month, but within a few days, Microsoft had to pull the update due to a bug that could cause data loss. It turned out that the bug had been reported numerous times during the preview period, but for whatever reason, Microsoft had overlooked or ignored the feedback items describing the problem.

Microsoft fixed that bug and sent the fixed build to Windows Insiders to test. The fixes published today include a fix for another widely reported (but apparently ignored) bug affecting users when dragging files from .ZIP archives in Explorer. If a file within the archive has the same name as a file in the destination directory, Explorer is supposed to show a prompt to ask whether to overwrite the existing file or rename the new one. For some reason, Windows build 17763 was not asking the question. Instead, it was skipping the extraction of the file with the conflicting name.

The company pushed these patches out to the Insider Slow and Release Preview rings. With last Wednesday being the penultimate day of October, it looked unlikely that the October 2018 update will actually ship in October 2018—a rather unfortunate state of affairs for a software release that was thought to be finalized in mid-September.

We continue to believe that these problems indicate that (boring link here) —–> the Windows development process is flawed. Inadequate testing (both automated and manual), combined with a general attitude of “add the new code now, we’ll fix the bugs later,” means that with each new feature update, code quality takes a hit. Months can go by before the code gets back up to where it should be, with Windows users being caught in the resulting quagmire.

We will update you on the right time to update but for now you’ll have to wait.

Have a great week

ZI Staff