What are cookies?

Cookies are small pieces of data that are stored on a user’s computer or device by a website. They are used to remember user preferences and activities on a website, such as login information, shopping cart contents, or language preferences. Cookies are also used for tracking user behavior and providing personalized experiences, such as targeted advertisements or product recommendations.

There are two types of cookies: session cookies and persistent cookies. Session cookies are temporary and are deleted when the user closes their browser. Persistent cookies, on the other hand, are stored on the user’s device for a longer period of time, and can be used to track user behavior across multiple sessions.

While cookies are generally harmless, they have raised privacy concerns, as they can be used to collect personal information about users without their knowledge or consent. As a result, many websites now provide options for users to opt-out of cookie tracking or to limit the amount of data that is collected through cookies.

(Ed: written by ChatGPT; verified by jrivett.)

What is a web browser?

A web browser, also known as an Internet browser, is a software application that allows users to access and view web sites on the internet. Web browsers are used to navigate the Internet, view web pages, and interact with web-based applications. Examples of popular web browsers include Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Safari, and Opera. Web browsers use protocols like HTTP, HTTPS, and FTP to request web pages from servers, render the content of those pages, and display them to the user.

(Ed: written by ChatGPT; verified by jrivett.)

What is cryptocurrency?

(Ed: before cryptocurrency showed up, the abbreviation ‘crypto’ usually referred to cryptography. Now it’s almost always used to refer to cryptocurrency.)

Cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual currency that uses cryptography for security and operates independently of a central bank. Cryptocurrencies use a decentralized network of computers to maintain and verify transactions, which are recorded on a public ledger called a blockchain.

Unlike traditional currencies, which are backed by governments or other centralized authorities, cryptocurrencies are not issued or regulated by any single entity. Instead, they rely on complex mathematical algorithms and protocols to create new units and verify transactions.

The most well-known cryptocurrency is Bitcoin, which was created in 2009. Since then, thousands of other cryptocurrencies have been developed, each with its own unique features and use cases.

Cryptocurrencies are often used for online purchases, investments, and as a store of value. They have gained popularity due to their ability to operate independently of government or financial institutions, and their potential for anonymity and privacy. However, cryptocurrencies are also subject to volatility and regulatory uncertainty, which can make them a risky investment.

(Ed: written by ChatGPT; verified by jrivett.)

What is cryptography?

(Ed: before cryptocurrency showed up, the abbreviation ‘crypto’ usually referred to cryptography. Now it’s almost always used to refer to cryptocurrency.)

Cryptography is the practice of securing information by transforming it into a form that is unintelligible to anyone who does not have the proper key or password to decode it. It involves techniques for encrypting and decrypting data to protect it from unauthorized access or modification.

Cryptography has been used throughout history to protect sensitive information such as military secrets, diplomatic messages, and financial transactions. It is now widely used in computer networks to ensure the security of data transmitted over the Internet, such as passwords, credit card numbers, and other confidential information.

Modern cryptography relies on algorithms and protocols that are designed to be mathematically secure and resistant to attacks by hackers or other malicious actors. Common cryptographic techniques include symmetric-key encryption, public-key encryption, digital signatures, and hash functions.

(Ed: written by ChatGPT; verified by jrivett.)

Microsoft frames long-overdue Windows changes as ‘reaffirming our long-standing approach’

Here are the first two paragraphs of a recent post on the Windows blog:

“Today we’re reaffirming our long-standing approach to put people in control of their Windows PC experience and to empower developers to take advantage of our open platform.

We want to ensure that people are in control of what gets pinned to their Desktop, their Start menu and their Taskbar as well as to be able to control their default applications such as their default browser through consistent, clear and trustworthy Windows provided system dialogs and settings.”

These changes are very welcome, and appear to resolve some particularly annoying Windows behaviours that users have been complaining about for decades.

But for Microsoft to frame these much-needed fixes as “we’ve always done this, and now we’re just making sure” is rather amusing. Come on guys, admitting mistakes is healthy. Are you saying these issues are new? Because they’re not. Are you saying you were unaware of these issues? I doubt that very much, because people have been complaining about them for years. No, this is just Microsoft public relations attempting to revise history.

What Microsoft is conveniently leaving out is that the worst offenses of this kind (reverting user settings, pinning and unpinning shortcuts, changing default applications, etc.) have always been committed by Microsoft. For example, Windows Update had a very annoying tendency to revert the default web browser to Internet Explorer.

Microsoft has of course run into legal trouble for some of these behaviours. It seems clear that reverting a user’s default web browser to a Microsoft browser in the process of updating the operating system is unfair to competitors. And Microsoft has been forced to stop doing some of those things.

Anyway, here’s hoping that Microsoft truly is committed, now, to avoiding such devious — and incredibly annoying — practices.

What is a VPN?

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. It is a technology that creates a secure and encrypted connection between two points on the internet. This connection is established by using VPN client software on a device that connects to a VPN server, typically located in a different geographic location.

When a user connects to a VPN server, the user’s device becomes part of the private network established by the VPN server. This allows the user to access the internet as if they were physically located in the same location as the VPN server.

The primary benefit of using a VPN is that it provides a secure and private connection, which is especially important when accessing sensitive information, such as financial data or personal information, over public Wi-Fi networks or when accessing geo-restricted content. It also helps to protect against hackers, identity theft, and other online threats by masking the user’s IP address and encrypting their internet traffic.

(Ed: written by ChatGPT; verified by jrivett.)

What is a worm?

In computing, a worm is a type of malicious software (malware) that replicates itself and spreads to other computers or networks without the need for human interaction. Unlike viruses, worms do not require a host program to attach themselves to, and can propagate independently through computer networks, usually by exploiting vulnerabilities in operating systems or other software.

Once a worm infects a computer, it can perform various malicious actions, such as stealing sensitive data, sending spam emails, launching distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, or installing additional malware. Worms can also consume a large amount of network bandwidth, causing network slowdowns or outages.

To protect against worms, it’s important to keep software up-to-date with the latest security patches, use antivirus software, and avoid downloading or opening suspicious attachments or links in emails.

(Ed: written by ChatGPT; verified by jrivett.)

What is authorization?

Authorization is the process of determining whether an entity or user is allowed to access a particular resource or perform a specific action within a system or application. In other words, it’s the process of verifying that a user has the necessary permissions to access a particular resource or perform a particular action.

Authorization typically involves checking the identity of the user, as well as their access credentials and permissions, against a set of access control rules. These rules may be defined within the application or system itself, or they may be defined in an external authorization server or policy engine.

Authorization is an important part of security in computer systems and is often used in conjunction with authentication, which is the process of verifying the identity of a user. Together, authentication and authorization ensure that only authorized users are able to access sensitive information and perform critical actions within a system.

(Ed: written by ChatGPT; verified by jrivett.)

What is authentication?

Authentication is the process of verifying the identity of a user or system attempting to access a particular resource, service, or application. It is the first line of defense against unauthorized access to information and resources.

Authentication typically involves presenting credentials, such as a username and password, to a system, which then verifies that the credentials match an authorized user or system. Other authentication methods can include biometric authentication, such as fingerprint or facial recognition, or the use of security tokens or smart cards.

Once a user or system has been successfully authenticated, they are granted access to the resource or service they are trying to access. Authentication is a critical component of security in any system, as it ensures that only authorized users are able to access sensitive information and resources.

(Ed: written by ChatGPT; verified by jrivett.)

What is spyware?

Spyware is a type of malicious software designed to gather sensitive information from a computer system without the user’s knowledge or consent. This information can include personal information such as passwords, credit card numbers, and online browsing habits, as well as system information such as installed software and hardware specifications. Spyware can be installed on a computer through a variety of means, such as email attachments, infected websites, and bundled software. Some spyware is designed to monitor a user’s activities for advertising purposes, while others are used for more malicious purposes such as identity theft and financial fraud. Spyware can cause a number of problems for a computer user, including decreased system performance, slow internet speeds, and a loss of privacy. It is important to protect your computer from spyware by using anti-virus software and avoiding downloading suspicious files from the internet.

(Ed: written by ChatGPT; verified by jrivett.)

Rants and musings on topics of interest. Sometimes about Windows, Linux, security and cool software.