NEW STORE – FBI Router Warning. CryptoMining. And more!

Our new address is 8332 Richmond Highway, Suite 205!
Check out our nice SIGN on Richmond Highway:
“Home of the Eldest Geek” 🙂
We have had the store running for a while now – drop by for a visit!
We are open 10-7 Mon-Sat and sundays by appointment. INCLUDING TUESDAYS!! 🙂

FBI ROUTER WARNING.  How bad is it? what do you need to do?
There was a warning recently from the FBI about a new kind of malware that affects routers and NAS boxes called VPNFilter.

This malware affects older home and small officer outers by firms Linksys, MikroTik, Netgear, QNAP and TP-Link. (For a list of specific models, click here.)
The instruction is just to reboot the router and you are ok.  Well, more or less.  Not really!  The malware can survive a reboot. What you really need to do if you are worried is do a factory reset – and you will lose wireless settings, SSID names, passwords, and any other things you did since you got the router!
Do you need to reboot it?  Sure.  A factory reset?  if so make sure you have all your information so you can restore the router to proper working condition.
What does VPNFilter do? It basically lets someone remotely watch all your traffic through the router.  Now if you only browse the web and have no privacy or security concerns, no problem.  If you do all your banking on secure pages, no problem (what the hacker sees is indecipherable).  If you email your friends your banking credentials and passwords in open emails – well maybe someone is watching.  It is rather clever, and some people suspect the Russians are behind it.  There is no direct evidence, its mainly circumstantial.  It cannot take over your computer, download your files, or erase anything – its like a listening device and it can watch packets of information.  But its not watching through your webcam!
So if you want help doing a factory reset we can ensure its done properly.  Rebooting is the suggested course of action.  But factory reset is the only way to ensure the malware is eliminated.  If (after all) it is even present!
But although the router can watch traffic it may not really pose any threat to you.

South Korea reported another cryptocurrency trading firm was hacked and millions of cryptos stolen.  Seems to happen rather a lot!  Its gone. Folks have lost at least part of what they had stored there.  Liability is rather a question.

A small exchange was hacked and bitcoin dropped 10%!
I’ve been asked fairly often about the value of bitcoin et alia.  Well – I’m not too impressed.  I have a bitcoin wallet mainly just to help customers who have been bit by ransomware and need to pay off the thief!
BUT – we have built mining rigs and know how to do it properly  – what is used to collect bitcoin etc. Mining rigs tend to have ASICs with hundreds or thousands of CPUs that can work in parallel.  And – to be honest – for a lot of miners, the return is less than the electricity cost of feeding the rig!  BUT – if you are where current is free to you – a rig will eventually spit out a coin of whatever flavor.
if you WANT to get involved, I can answer some questions.  And at least one customer of ours is considering building several rigs to rent out to the public!
READING MAC Drives on Windows – and WINDOWS Drives on a Mac
Those of us who use both systems – all the time – know the problems posed by the different filesystems on Windows and Mac.  Here is a small lesson:
Windows by default uses NTFS filesystem.  (NewTechnologyFileSystem – ironic as its many many years old).
Mac OS by default uses HFS filesystem.  Well – until High Sierra that introduced APFS – though its installed by default only on Solid Sate (SSD) drives.
Both platforms can read FAT and FAT32 formats (old dos/windows format before NTFS).  But FAT32 is limited in filesize you can not have more than a 2GB file (there go your blue-ray films!)
Mac OS can MOUNT an NTFS volume so that you can READ a PC-formatted drive on Mac.  But you cannot modify anything on it!
Windows systems cant mount HFS even to look at.
And – just for completeness, Linux systems use a filesystem called ext2 (or 3 or 4) which is incompatible with all.
So – how to let our differing computers look at each other’s files?
ExFAT – this is a new format available to both mac and PC.  ExFAT does not have the 2GB limit imposed on files by FAT32.  But you cant boot an ExFAT drive.
Its perfect for an external backup drive like the little 2TB Seagate and WD USB Drives.  Format it as ExFAT and both worlds can read and write everything!
3rd party utilities:
I use (and recommend) several.
On your Mac, get Paragon NTFS.  Its cheap – and with it installed all NTFS volumes (either Bootcamp, or external USB drives) are both readable and writable!
On your Windows machine, install MediaFour MacDrive.  It will mount HFS volumes so your PC can look at that mac-formatted USB drive or the Mac side of a bootcamped drive.
MacDrive 10.5 says it can READ but not write APFS – I cannot say that as its not loading the volume on my bootcamped Mac Pro – I have to boot the mac side to move files from it to NTFS.
HOWEVER – if you dont want to deal with APFS just dont upgrade to High Sierra!  (I’m wishing I had not on my laptop!)
Whew – any questions?
And – for those saying ‘what about linux’ there are several FREE windows programs (and mac os) that allow you to mount ext2/3/4 linux volumes on a pc!
This is rather useful for example a Western Digital MyCloud (NAS box) setup – actually uses a linux filesystem – when a box failed and customer needed the information, taking the drive out
and attaching it to a docking station – didnt help till I remembered that the drive is actually ext4!  I loaded the Ext2Fsd  program – and all was visible!


I will have available shortly some RATHER nice macs – a 15in 2012 unibody macbook, several 2012 13in macbook pros (including a rare i7).
And on the PC Side we have several VERY nice gaming laptops – 17in Asus units with 7th generation i7 cpus and 4gb Video!
Also various others – all kinds from 12-17in, – and I have some convertibles as well (double as tablets).
Looking for anything? Let me know!

Enough for now – I dont want to have folks get tired of reading me!
Sincerely (and gratefully)
Craig (the Eldest Geek – and now the Eldest Geek at TopTech)