My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

How MSI Americas benchmarking of FLOW Jamaica and Digicel Jamaica reveals FLOW Jamaica has faster 3G

“These results underscore the phenomenal amount of work that our technical team has put in to ensure our network can stand up to scrutiny. While we have invested heavily in our network, we must pay tribute to the tremendous sacrifices our team continues to make to ensure our customers receive superior service”

Managing Director of Flow Jamaica, Garry Sinclair commenting on the results of the benchmarking test done by MSI Americas

Despite all of FLOW Jamaica's problems, they do have a few things to smile about this February 2016.

MSI Americas, an independent team of international network analysts, recently made their benchmarking and drive tests for Digicel and FLOW Jamaica public as reported in the article “Engineering Company Ranks Flow Top For Frequency And Quality”, published Tuesday February 9, 2016, The Jamaica Gleaner

The results from this highly regarded, independent team of international network suggest that of the two Telecom Providers, FLOW Jamaica is the faster, stronger and more reliable network on the island.

This doesn’t surprise me, given the fact that Netflix had said that they have the slowest Internet of the three (3) Telecom Providers in Jamaica a year ago in February 2015 as noted in my blog article entitled “Netflix says Digicel has slowest Broadband Internet – Why Digicel still slow after CLARO despite Apples and Oranges as 4G LTE beckons”. 

Really, you may quip sarcastically? Telecom Provider FLOW Jamaica is better than Telecom Provider Digicel Jamaica?

After all, you may have been one of the many Jamaicans complaining about their Cable TV Service back in October 2015 as noted in my blog article entitled “74 Percent increase in FLOW Jamaica problems to OUR - FLOW's infrastructure problems as Digicel Fibre is coming”. 

But alas, this is about Network Performance, not public perception.

So what are these results from MSI Americas exactly?

MSI Americas benchmarking of FLOW Jamaica and Digicel Jamaica - Revealing that Telecom Provider really have 3G Internet

As MSI Americas is a respected team of international network specialists, their word is golden.

MSI Americas took some 26,000 samples per provider, which are basically tests from within the Telecom Provider's Network, as FLOW Jamaica and Digicel Jamaica gave them permission and access to their Telecom Switching platforms. This would involve test voice and Data Calls as well as evaluation of other Network KPI (Key Performance Index) to see if they made the benchmark.

According to MSI Americas, they outrank Digicel outranks in three out of four benchmark tests, earning a comparative rating on the fourth benchmark test.

The MSI Americas results are summarized as follows:

1.      99% of the Flow Jamaica samples remained on the 3G instead of 2G
2.      2.4 more times re-selection from 3G to 2G by Digicel Jamaica
3.      More locations with excellent 3G speed
4.      3Mbps and higher speeds with Flow Jamaica than with Digicel Jamaica
5.      Superior radio frequency quality with Flow Jamaica
6.      Higher 3G retention with Flow Jamaica

Good to note here that MSI Americas refers to their “4G” Network as a 3G network, which lends credence to my blog and the Geezam blog declaration that their Network is really just faster 3G called HSDPA or H+ as noted in my Geezam blog entitled “How to Access LIME or Digicel’s 3G Internet using an unlocked Huawei E1556 Modem Dongle or Nokia Modem Dongle”.  

So what does FLOW have in store for Jamaica?

FLOW Jamaica Upgrade in 2016 - 4G LTE, FTTH and Call Center of Excellence coming

FLOW Jamaica is undertaking a raft of upgrades as noted in the article “Flow says it tops competitor in islandwide mobile benchmarking tests”, published Tuesday, February 09, 2016, The Jamaica Observer.

According to Managing Director of Flow Jamaica, Garry Sinclair, they'll be addressing the many complaints from their customers, quote: “Flow Jamaica will not rest on these latest achievements. We will continue to make improvements to our networks, our infrastructure and facilities while investing in our people to continue to address customers’ concerns and to surpass their needs”.

First, they'll be upgrading to 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) sometime later in 2016, which may possibly involved an upgrade to FTTH (Fiber to the home) for their FLOW Cable TV Network as noted in my blog article entitled “Why FLOW Jamaica's 4G LTE Upgrade to counter Digicel Play needs islandwide LTE, VDSL and DOCSIS 3.1”. 

Not so fond of their plan to only upgrade the metropolitan areas only, but at least they've bumped some 70,000 customers to 20 Mbps since December 2016 as noted in my blog article entitled “Why FLOW Jamaica to increase Internet Packages come February 1st 2016”. 

They are also testing their Call Center, which is supposed to be launched in 2016 as well as noted in my MICO Wars Blog article entitled “FLOW Jamaica Fiber Optic upgrade means FTTH, 4G LTE and Call Center by 2016”. 

According to my Call Center sources, this new Call Center will be staffed by Jamaicans and will be a client of GraceKennedy in their New Call Center located at the Kingston CSO (Central Sorting Office) located on 6-10 Camp Road in Downtown Kingston as reported in my blog article entitled “How to find work in Jamaica at Call Centers - GraceKennedy Call Center necessary for Product Customer Support”.

The MSI Americas proves that they are the better of the two Telecom Providers. To counters the rising star that is Digicel Play, now 10,000 subscribers strong as described in my blog article entitled “Why Digicel Play 10,000 Subscribers spells trouble for FLOW Jamaica”, they have to do launch 4G LTE and FTTH islandwide.

Here’s the link:

MSI Americas Twitter handle: @MSIAmericas
MSI Americas Youtube Channel 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

How T9000 Trojan malware discovered by the Palo Alto Networks spies on Skype calls

“The author of this backdoor has gone to great lengths to avoid being detected and to evade the scrutiny of the malware analysis community. We hope that sharing the details of how this tool works as well as the indicators in the section below will help others defend themselves against attacks using this tool”

Researchers at Palo Alto Networks commenting on the T9000 malware that affects Skype users

Skype users, there is a T9000 Terminator on the loose that's stealing your data.

Researchers at Palo Alto Networks have discovered a malware that can screenshot and record victims’ Skype calls, video and text chats as reported in the article “New Skype Malware Records Users’ Audio, Video, Text Conversations While Evading Detection By Leading Security Tools”, published  Monday February 8th 2016 by Cammy Harbison, iDigitaltimes

The malware, dubbed T9000, is basically a Trojan horse upgrade to the T5000 malware that targets Microsoft windows machines back in 2014. Also called Plat1 or Grand Theft Auto Panda, it was also famous for spying on skype calls as explained in “Skype users targeted by info-stealing malware” , published Feb 8 2016 By Juha Saarinen, ITNews

So how is this version of Grand Theft Auto Panda malware more dangerous?

Palo Alto Networks finds T9000 Trojan malware that spies on Skype calls - Stealth mode detects antivirus and evades them

This time around, the T9000 has a new trick up its sleeve; it can detect other antivirus programs running on the computer it infects as noted in the article “T9000 malware records Skype calls, screenshots, and text messages to steal data”, published February 8, 2016 By Danny Palmer, ZDNet.

It can detect some twenty four (24) different antivirus programs and actually change how it installs itself to avoid detection as pointed out in “Skype users warned of T9000 malware threat that records video and text chats”, published 09 Feb 2016 by Chris Merriman, V3.

The programs that it can avoid include:

1.      AhnLab
2.      AVG
3.      Avira
4.      Baidu
5.      BitDefender
6.      Comodo
7.      DoctorWeb
8.      Filseclab
9.      GData
10.  INCAInternet
11.  JiangMin
12.  Kaspersky
13.  Kingsoft
14.  McAfee
15.  Micropoint
16.  Norton
17.  Panda
18.  Rising and Qihoo 360
19.  Sophos
20.  Tencent
21.  Trend Micro
22.  TrustPort
23.  VirusChaser

Because of this new ability, researchers at Palo Alto Networks have christened it an active “backdoor” to Skype. The Researchers at Palo Alto Networks are saying who made it, but if it’s an upgrade to the T5000 malware from 2014, it might be the work of a cyber-espionage group suspected to have Chinese Government.

So how does this malware get to infect your computer in the first place?

T9000 Trojan malware phishing trip - avoid explorer.exe requests and upgrade Windows Defender

It starts of real simple in the form of a phishing trip!

It'll infect your system via a suspicious email with an innocuous RTF (Rich Text format) file that you'll probably not think twice about clicking on. After all, it’s just a document file you think, right?

But once you open the file, it gets to work, rolling out two (2) powerful exploits. First it scans the entire computer to detect what types of antivirus programs are running on the computer. Once it detects the system's defences, it then alters the way it installs itself onto the computer in order to evade detection.

The Researchers at Palo Alto Networks ask that users of skype should not give permission for 'explorer.exe' to use Skype, as this is how the T9000 malware gains access to skype in order to record victims’ Skype calls, video and text chats.  

Interestingly, Microsoft is already on the case!

They’re already released an update for Windows Defender to deal with the T9000 Trojan as reported in the article “Microsoft plays John Connor to destroy the T9000 Skype Terminator”, published Monday February 08 2016, By Chris Merriman, The Inquirer.

According to Microsoft, they've got it under control, as relief is only an automatic update away, quote: “To further protect our customers, we’ve added detection for the malicious software known as T9000 to Windows Defender. Customers that have installed security updates released in 2012 (MS12-060) and 2014 (MS14-033), either manually or by enabling automatic updates, will already be protected. Our recommendation is to enable automatic updates, which installs the latest security protections, and to use the latest version of Skype”.

Fellow Skype users, stay safe and avoid being caught by the T9000 he'll be back, Terminator Style!

How to create Public Twitter Lists and gain more followers

If like many bloggers, you regularly write about what the Jamaican Government is doing or you track news via Twitter as noted in my Geezam blog article entitled “Social Media Management Tools help you to manage your Social Networks all at once”, you may find this bit of information interesting.

You can follow the various Government Ministries and the Executive Agencies via Social Media, particularly Twitter. But you might now know all of their Twitter handles as listed in the article “List: Jamaica Government Twitter Handles”, published December 22, 2012 by diGiJamaica.

Worse, you may not have the time to join them all as Listed below:

1.      Jamaica House @OPMJamaica
2.      Jamaica Information Service News @JISNews
3.      Jamaica Information Service TV @JIS TV
4.      Jamaica Tax Administration @JamaicaTax
5.      Ministry of Youth and Culture @myscJamaica
6.      Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries @agriministryja
7.      Ministry of National Security @NatSecurityJa
8.      Ministry of Education @MOEJamaica
9.      Ministry of Tourism @TourismJamaica
10.  Jamaica Business Development Corporation @JBDCJamaica
11.  Broadcasting Commission Of Jamaica @BCJamaica
12.  National Housing Trust @theNHT
13.  Early Childhood Commission @ECCJA
14.  Electoral Office Of Jamaica @ECJamaica
15.  Access To Information Unit @atiunitJamaica
16.  Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management @ODPEM
17.  Heart Trust NTA @HeartTrustNTA
18.  Met Service @metserviceJa
19.  Jamaica Customs @jacustoms
21.  e-learning Jamaica @elearningja
22.  Urban Development Company @UDCJamaica
23.  JAMPRO Creative Industries @jamprocreative
24.  NEPA @nepaJamaica
25.  National Gallery of Jamaica @natgalleryja
26.  JAMPRO Film @filmJamaica
27.  Jamaica Tourist Board @askJamaica
28.  Jamaica National Family Planning Board @JNFPB
29.  Children’s Registry @OCRJA
30.  Bureau Of Standards @StandardsJa
31.  Jamaica Intellectual Property Office @jipo_govjm
32.  Child Development Agency @CDAJM
33.  Jamaica Cultural Development Commission @jcdcjamaica
34.  Jamaica Foundation For Lifelong Learning @jfllalert
35.  Jamaica National Heritage Trust @JNHTJamaica
36.  National Road Safety Council @NRSCJamaica
37.  Institute of Jamaica @instituteofJa
38.  JCDC Jamaica – Kingston and St. Andrew Parish Office @JCDC_KSA
39.  Jamaica Productivity Center @JAMPRODCEN
40.  National Youth Service @NYService
41.  Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC) @KSACORP
42.  National Export Strategy Secretariat @JAMAICA_NES
43.  Land Information Council of Jamaica @LICJ_NSDMD
44.  Jamaica Constabulary @JamaicaConstab
45.  Jamaica Defence Force @JamaicaMilitary
46.  Jamaica Post @JamaicaPost
47.  National Export-Import Bank Of Jamaica @EXIMBankJa

So is there an easier way to follow so many people on Twitter without your timeline becoming overcrowded?

How to create a Twitter List – Gain more followers as they know your interests

If like me you're Twitter follow List is getting a bit overcrowded, you can always subscribe to a Public List. According to the Twitter Help Page, a Twitter List is a Listing of Twitter followers that you like to follow made available for other to follow.

In the case of the Government of Jamaica Twitter handles, you can follow them all by joining the Jamaica Government Public Twitter List on DigiJamaica.

You can also follow other Public Twitter Lists, albeit they’re somewhat difficult to find via Google or even using Twitter’s built in search engine. When you visit the profile page of a tweeter, you'll be able to see their public Lists as well as Lists they follow.

Creating Public Lists not only makes it easier for your followers to follow the Twitter feeds you like but people are more likely to follow you if your interests, reflected in who you choose to follow, matches with their interests.

Even better, if you tweets are considered noteworthy, your Twitter feed might end up being added to their Public Twitter Lists, thereby expanding your range. You can benefit from Lists by creating your own Public List as follows:

Go to your Profile button and select Lists.

Then click on Create New List button.

Give your List a name, description as well as select to set it Public (anyone can see the List) or Private (only your followers can see the List) and Save the List

Once you do this, you can then choose to add to your List either from Twitter or from the List of Twitter handles that you're already following.

In my case, I'll choose to add from my Following List by clicking on the option. When the List of followers comes up, click on the Gear Icon and select Add or Remove from Lists...

Once the popup appears, select the List you wish to add it to and it’s added.

You can then repeat this process and add more Twitter feeds to your Twitter List.

So create your Twitter Lists today. And remember Caring is sharing so share this information with your friends on Twitter!

Here’s the List: