DON'T ever shutdown your PC? There's plenty of reasons why that's a bad idea.
Closing the lid on your laptop without hitting the off button could be causing you a host of issues.
Although it's faster and easier to simply send your PC to sleep, not turning it off can lead to infuriatingly slow performance and problems with your Wi-Fi.
This is because over time, your operating system, apps and programmes begin to accumulate some leftover digital mess.
These include temporary files, disk caches, page files, open file descriptors, zombie processes, and more.
And there's another common problem as applications you thought you'd quit weeks ago can end up hogging valuable space in your memory.
This can then cause rival apps to run significantly slower than usual.
If that wasn't reason enough to hit the off button there's also another issue.
If you have any driver crashes or software hiccups, you can experience problems with your Wi-Fi connectivity, too.
Putting your laptop or desktop machine to sleep or enabling hibernate mode will not solve the issue.
That's because sleep mode still sips enough power to keep the computer’s state in memory.
Other parts of the computer are shutdown to save battery, but the disk caches, zombie processes, memory leaks, and more, will remain intact.
Windows' hibernate mode is a similar affair.
This mode saves its current state to your hard drive – dumping the contents of its RAM into a file on its hard drive.
Your PC will use about the same amount of power as one that's shutdown, but the same troublesome processes are saved.
Fortunately, shutting down your computer every once in a while can give your machine a fresh start.
SuperUser technology blog contributor David Zaslavsky claims: "Different computers and OS’s are not all equally affected by this phenomenon.
"Generally, a computer with a lot of RAM can go for much longer than a computer with only a little RAM. A server, on which you just start up a few programs and then let them work, will be fine for much longer than a desktop computer, where you’re constantly opening and closing different programs and doing different things with them.
"Plus, server operating systems are optimised for long-term use.
"It’s also been said that Linux and Mac OS tend to run for longer than Windows systems, although in my experience that mostly depends on what programs you use on them, and not so much on any differences between the kernels of the operating systems themselves."
If you notice that your computer is slogging through some simple tasks – and you find yourself struggling to remember the last time you shutdown your PC – it might be time to reboot.
Petya ransomware victims can now unlock infected computers without paying.
An unidentified programmer has produced a tool that exploits shortfalls in the way the malware encrypts a file that allows Windows to start up.
In notes put on code-sharing site Github, he said he had produced the key generator to help his father-in-law unlock his Petya-encrypted computer.
The malware, which started circulating in large numbers in March, demands a ransom of 0.9 bitcoins (£265). It hid itself in documents attached to emails purporting to come from people looking for work.
Scrambling schemes Security researcher Lawrence Abrams, from the Bleeping Computer news site, said the key generator could unlock a Petya-encrypted computer in seven seconds.
But the key generator requires victims to extract some information from specific memory locations on the infected drive. And Mr Abrams said: "Unfortunately, for many victims extracting this data is not an easy task."
This would probably involve removing the drive and then connecting it up to another virus-free computer running Windows, he said.
Another tool can then extract the data, which can be used on the website set up to help people unlock their computer. Independent security analyst Graham Cluley said there had been other occasions when ransomware makers had "bungled" their encryption system.
Cryptolocker, Linux.encoder and one other ransomware variant were all rendered harmless when their scrambling schemes were reverse-engineered.
"Of course," said Mr Cluley, "the best thing is to have safety secured backups rather than relying upon ransomware criminals goofing up."
If you live in a particularly tall or wide house, or one with a complicated layout, then you might have problems with Wi-Fi dead zones where your high-speed wireless broadband connection just can’t reach. That can seriously hamper your Netflix binge-watching or Spotify streaming. You don’t have to settle for patchy coverage though, and there are several ways in which you can extend the reach of your Wi-Fi.
Upgrade your router
Your available options here are going to depend on ISP you’ve signed up with to provide your internet and the hardware setup that’s currently in place. Some companies are more picky about customers installing their own hardware than others. Your best bet is to check with the ISP or browse through a related support forum to check, and what you can do will depend on where in the world you live too.
Comcast, for example, provides a list of hardware its services can work with that you can use as a reference guide. If you’ve been on the same router for a while, your ISP might send you an upgrade free of charge. After all, if you’re paying for a particular speed, then it’s their responsibility to provide you with the equipment that gives you the best chance of getting it.
How to Get a Strong Wi-Fi Signal in Every Room of Your House It’s possible to really go to town if you don’t have anything better to spend your money on (and what’s more important than internet access?)—something like the D-Link AC3200 Ultra Wi-Fi Router will set you back around $250 or so, but you don’t necessarily have to break the bank. Check the specifications of your current equipment and see how much difference an upgrade is going to make.
Replacing the antennas on your router is another option, though many of the new models from the last couple of years now use internal antennas and don’t have the necessary sockets to add your own. If you do have a compatible model or you buy a router with external sockets—check the supplied documentation with your hardware for details—then you can boost the wireless signal or change its direction.
Reposition your router
It may sound obvious, but moving your router is one of the most effective ways of improving the signal you can get around the home. Remember that most routers beam signal in all directions at once, so ideally you want your device floating somewhere in the middle of your property. If that’s not practically feasible, just get it as close as you possibly can.
Today’s hardware devices do a good job of beaming out Wi-Fi signals, but they’re not perfect. Walls, floor, furniture, mirrors and metal objects all have a detrimental effect on the signal, so make some adjustments to the internal layout of your home if required. The newer your laptops, tablets and smartphones, the better able they will be to work with Wi-Fi at faster speeds over longer distances.
Baby monitors, cordless phones and microwaves can cause interference too, and changing the channel used by your router can reduce this (delve into your router’s help documentation if you’re unsure about how to do this). Many routers offer a choice of using 5GHz or 2.4GHz radio bands; the former has more channels, so less chance of interference, but the signal range doesn’t stretch as far.
It’s worth recommending a firmware update too. If newer software is available for your router model, then it can make a significant difference to the capabilities of the hardware. Check with the router manufacturer or your Internet Service Provider to see if there are patches available—on most models, applying the update is only going to take a few clicks.
Share Wi-Fi with the neighbours
How well do you know the people living around you? Are they older residents likely to do the odd spot of web browsing and email checking? Or younger folk who probably love nothing better than getting multiple torrent files downloaded simultaneously? Depending on the answers to those questions, you might find in practical to share an internet connection with those who are living around you.
If you’re in terraced housing or apartments, for example, you can have your router on the ground floor and your neighbor’s higher up. Of course there’s an element of trust here—it’s only going to work if you know the people next door well and they’ve signed up for a suitably fast connection speed—but you might consider giving away some of your bandwidth a small price to pay to get web access in the top room in the house.
How to Get a Strong Wi-Fi Signal in Every Room of Your House
Think of it as having one large family split across two buildings with two routers to utilize and position them accordingly. If you both have speedy enough connection packages then bottlenecks should be rare, and by swapping passwords with each other you can double the chances of getting online at no extra cost.
Even if you are best buds with the people living next door, you probably don’t want them sniffing around your files; make sure you keep control over what they can access on your home network once they have access to your router. The network settings on your computer will let you restrict what you share with other people, but this is perhaps not something to try if you suspect there’s a teen hacker living next door.
Invest in an extender or two
There are two main approaches here: Extenders that simply repeat the original signal over a further distance (usually losing a lot of speed along the way) or powerline devices that use your home’s electrical wiring system to do the job of transferring bytes to and from your router. Of the two options, powerline networking is definitely the way to go if you can.
For those of you who absolutely must take the repeater approach, all kinds of kit is available to fit your requirements and budget, and you can even repurpose an old router together with some open source software to do the same job if you want to. After a short setup wizard you’ll be ready to go, and you can use the same positioning tips that we mentioned earlier to minimize interference from other devices.
There are also plenty of hardware options to choose from when it comes to Powerline networking. Some plugs provide a wired connection in the room of your choice, while others can create a Wi-Fi hotspot too; you’re going to need to do some research based on the setup you’ve got at home and what you want to be able to do with it. Getting everything up and running is usually very straightforward, and the configuration utilities you’re going to need will be included in the starter kit you buy. Linking two powerline plugs together is typically just a case of pressing two buttons, one on each device, to pair them.
For simple web browsing, a repeater should be fine; if you’re streaming HD video and so on then you’re probably going to want to get hold of some powerline kit. As is normally the case, paying extra for decent quality equipment is going to be worth it in the long term, so stick to well-reviewed kit from the better-known manufacturers.
The FBI says an email scam in which criminals impersonate a company's CEO and ask for a money transfer has seen a "dramatic increase," The Register reports.
Here's how it works: A company receives an email that looks as if it came from the CEO. The email typically instructs someone who manages the company's money to send a payment to a certain bank account or provide login information to the company's payroll system.
But the email isn't genuine, and it often comes from a fraudulent domain that looks very similar to the legitimate company website. The bank account the money is sent to isn't a legitimate customer; it's an account owned by scammers. Fraudsters have also made away with payroll information about hundreds of employees using this technique.
The FBI has published a security alert warning businesses in the US about the email scam. It says police officials around the world have heard of the scam, and it has been reported in 79 countries. The alert says that from October 2013 to February, the FBI was made aware of $2.3 billion (£1.6 billion) in money lost because of the email scam.
The real cost of the scam is likely to be higher, though, as it's unlikely that every payment was noticed or reported.
Some big tech companies have been targeted as part of this scam. Snapchat acknowledged in February that one of its employees had accidentally revealed payroll information after being tricked by an email claiming to have been sent by CEO Evan Spiegel. The data-storage company Seagate fell victim to the scam in March. Fast Company's publisher, Mansueto Ventures, was tricked into handing over data as well.
The email scam isn't limited to the US. Business Insider reported in August that about 10 well-funded London startups had received emails impersonating CEOs
John Lewis is to unveil a smart home section at its Oxford Street store in London as consumer interest in Internet of Things (IoT) products grows.
The 1,000 square foot space opens today and aims to "demystify the concept of the smarthome", according to IT director Paul Coby.
"We know there is a lot of noise around the IoT. Techies talk about connected things and devices, while other people talk about the smart home, and what we want to do is inform customers of what smart technology can provide," Coby told V3.
John Lewis said that the move came in response to an 81 per cent increase in sales of smart home products in the past year. The retailer felt that it needed to showcase some of these products in a suitable department so that consumerscan find out more about the products before buying them.
"What we're going to do in Oxford Street is to bring to life how these devices work," said Coby.
The department is divided into four zones: kitchen, entertainment, sleep and home monitoring.
Products on show include the Samsung Family Hub Smart Fridge. The device has a touch screen that brightens up as you approach, and allows owners to shop over the internet from the fridge. Cameras inside the door relay the contents of the fridge to a smartphone app so that the user can see whether they need to buy milk, for example.
The department will also show off the S+ by ResMed, a non-contact sleep tracking system that supposedly analyses and improves quality of sleep. Other products include an oven that lets users put dinner on before they leave the office, a Nest smoke and carbon monoxide alarm and a Netatmo welcome home camera with face recognition.
Good news on broadband - the UK has hit the target of making a superfast connection available to 90% of homes, as promised back in 2010. But the bad news is that the world has moved on since then, and this achievement won't have anyone cracking open the champagne.
The target was set in 2010 in the early months of the coalition government and came with a pledge that the UK would have "the best superfast broadband in Europe" by 2015. Both aims were later modified as the process of handing over subsidies to BT for rolling out fibre connections in rural areas took longer than expected - 90% by 2015 turned into 95% by 2017 and "best in Europe" turned out to involve a scorecard comparing us on various measures with the larger European countries.
But now Thinkbroadband - which uses a range of data including speed tests to work out coverage - says the 90% target has been hit just a little later than originally planned and we are well on the way to the 95% coverage promised for next year.
There are however two problems. First, the 10% of householders who are still waiting for a decent connection are getting ever more frustrated - just ask any MP with a rural constituency what's in his postbag. Then there is the issue of what constitutes superfast broadband.
Thinkbroadband and Ofcom both go with something above 24Mbps which looked quite fast back in 2010. Those kinds of speeds can be achieved pretty easily via the kind of fibre to the cabinet rollout which has been BT's preferred method. And when you look at how the UK compares with other big European countries, then this level of "superfast" broadband availability does mean we top the league, according to Ofcom.
But broadband campaigners - who are prone to call the current strategy "superfarce" - say this strategy means the UK is in danger of being saddled with a network that just isn't fit for the high-speed future. They advocate the more expensive option of much faster fibre to the home (FTTH) connections and point out that other European countries are far ahead in this.
Indeed, the Thinkbroadband figures show that FTTH is still only available to 1.56% of British homes, whereas on the continent it's becoming the standard option in many countries. Mind you, for the downside to this different strategy just look at the figures for Hull. It's got one of the lowest levels of superfast broadband availability, just 37.6%. But it also scores highest for fibre to the home - again the rate is 37.6%.
That is because Hull's independent telecoms supplier KCOM - formerly Kingston Communications - has opted for what you might call a "continental" approach, building a network which puts a fast-fibre connection in every home. That is taking longer to roll out than BT's fibre to the cabinet, leaving many residents impatient, though in the end they will have something much faster than is available in many other UK cities.
The government may look at today's figures and think that, for a relatively modest outlay from taxpayers, the UK is on track to deliver pretty good broadband to pretty well everyone. But for the fast fibre campaigners "pretty good" is not good enough and they will continue to demand more.
Flight mode can stop radio interruptions Pilots can suffer annoying headset sounds One texter actually stopped comms
Doing something because you're told to, without an explanation, can be annoying can't it? That's why we've often put our phones in flight mode on a plane with reticence. But now we know why it's worth doing.
According to a report by the Mail Online, mobile phones can affect the plane's comms. But don't worry, leaving your phone on isn't going to endanger anyone as it won't affect the plane's flight systems themselves.
The worst thing a connected smartphone can do is create annoying feedback in the headsets of the pilots. You know that noise speakers can sometimes make when you hold a phone near to them? That's what a pilot's communications radio can kick out if phones are left on.
So leaving your phone on during a flight might not cause anyone harm but it certainly is annoying. That "dat-dat-dat-dat" noise in your ear is distracting and the last person you want to distract or annoy, when taking off or landing, is your pilot.
One passenger, texting, did interrupt a radio call from traffic control - which could have potentially been dangerous.
That said, pilots have said that in about 50 flights they've only heard the interference once or twice. That could be thanks to dutiful passengers or simply that the odd phone left on doesn't cause that much interference.
Now you're informed you can choose to turn your phone off in-flight, knowing you're at least trying to save someone at work a great deal of annoyance and hassle.
Say what you like about the recent spate of leaks, none have led to people having their testicles ritually crushed.
Nor, as far as we know, has anyone been locked in a temple until they starved to death. Edward Snowden and Julian Assange are not universally popular, but even their most severe critics have not suggested that their actions provoked a military revolt, or caused politicians to be hauled from their debating chamber and strangled en masse. But all these horrors have taken place during the long and often violent history of leaking, with those exposed by leaks as well their perpetrators at times coming to a sticky end.
Take that fatal enforced malnourishment in a temple, for example. This happened in Sparta around 470BC as a directly result of leaked information.
The leading general and one-time regent, Pausanias, sent one of his slaves with a message to the Persian King. Sensing that something was fishy about this, the slave, Argilios, opened the letter and found that Pausanias was offering to support the Persians if they invaded Greece. More than that, the general suggested that the Persians ought to kill the messenger delivering the letter, just to be sure of secrecy.
Understandably aggrieved at the one-way nature of his errand, Argilios decided to leak the letter to the Spartan authorities. Persia was the mortal enemy of Greece, so the general's actions were seen as nothing less than treachery - and so it was that he was bricked up in the Temple of Athena without any food by way of punishment. Records suggest that his own mother joined the angry citizens who made sure he could not escape.
Ancient Greek politics was a relatively open affair, but Roman civilisation by contrast was positively ridden with plotting and intrigue in its later years, and a fair amount of leaking, according to the historian Tom Holland. "There was an intense form of political combat, absolutely on the scale of ours today," he says. "You see leaks being used by would-be favourites to destroy their rivals."
Perhaps the most famous leak of Roman times was the pile of documents which appeared on the doorstep of Cicero, Consul of the Roman Senate and a leading philosopher and orator of his time.
In 63BC, Cicero had become convinced that a senator called Catiline was plotting a coup, but was unable to prove it. What he found at his door was a collection of letters from allies of Catiline, outlining details of the plot. No-one ever discovered who had passed on this crucial evidence, but flourishing these letters on the floor of the Senate, Cicero was able to convince his colleagues once and for all that the Roman Republic was under threat. It was perhaps as a reward for his dedicated sleuthing, that Cicero was allowed to supervise personally the immediate execution by strangling of all the plotters.
It was Osman who suffered the fate of having his testicles crushed before being put to death
The Roman Empire endured for centuries, its eastern wing surviving as Byzantium right up until 1453 when it fell prey to the Ottomans. Theirs was a civilisation renowned for its tolerance - a multi-nation, multi-ethnic empire with a high degree of what might today be described as social mobility. Even a slave or a eunuch could rise up the hierarchy.
Yet, according to the writer Jason Goodwin, there was one area in which the Ottomans were famously severe. An expert on Ottoman affairs, Goodwin says they were obsessed with preserving secrecy. Many sultans employed deaf mutes around the court, he explains, so that they could not overhear, let alone propagate any information they might pick up.
Sultan Osman the Second had more reason than most to fear leaks. He had decided to crack down on the elite military unit known as Janissaries, who he feared were becoming too powerful. Somehow though, this information did leak out - his own Vizier was later fingered as the source.
Osman II When the Janissaries were informed, they stormed Istanbul's Topkapi palace, and it was Osman who suffered the fate of having his testicles crushed before being put to death. Just as the Ottoman Empire was going into decline, the advent of the modern newspaper in the 19th Century was giving new breath to the fine art of leaking. Now there was the opportunity for leaked information to reach a vast audience, rather than being restricted to those directly affected.
John Nugent of the New York Herald is credited with one of the first great scoops that came from a leak. In 1848, he was handed secret details of a treaty to end the war between the US and Mexico.
American army general Zachary Taylor (1784 - 1850), directing his troops at the Battle of Buena Vista in Northern Mexico during the Mexican-American war.Image copyrightGetty Images
His decision to publish led to threats of imprisonment from outraged senators, who held him captive for almost a month. It might well have been worth it though, as Nugent was later promoted to the paper's editorship.
Earlier great leaks like the Pentagon Papers had to be photocopied by hand, page after page
Nugent set a precedent that persists to this day, according to Paul Lashmar, a lecturer in journalism at Sussex University, and a one-time investigative reporter himself. Reporters who get hold of leaks tend to be rewarded, he says, either with promotion, a pay rise or at least with extra professional kudos - even if they do sometimes face threats of imprisonment or worse along the way. "We would spend long hours in pubs cultivating sources," Lashmar says, rather wistfully. "It could be a police officer, a civil servant, or someone in the accounts department of a company… they passed an envelope over to you and that was great." The advent of surveillance technology has made this kind of leak much rarer, Lashmar believes. Anyone with a mobile phone can have their movements traced, or they might be picked up on CCTV cameras. He has found public servants, in particular, far more wary of meeting journalists lest they be punished for their indiscretion.
What has replaced the old-style brown envelope is the mass leak, the kind of vast treasure trove of data seen in the release of the Panama Papers, with millions of documents passed on in one go. It is new technology that has made this possible, of course.
Earlier great leaks like the Pentagon Papers, which revealed secrets about US operations in Vietnam, had to be photocopied by hand, page after page. Now the entire records of a company or government department can be loaded on to a memory stick with just one click of a mouse.
The campaigning journalist, Heather Brooke, has handled plenty of leaks in her time, and believes this new kind of mass digital leak is here to stay.
"It's very difficult to defend digital information, very easy to attack it," she says.
Brooke argues that those who store digital information have themselves to blame if they find it ends up in the public domain.
"We are in a time when everyone wants to keep every piece of data they can and keep it forever. They are creating a honeypot for hackers, for disgruntled employees, and for people who want to leak."
We have come a long way from the days when a slave messenger could cause havoc in Sparta just by opening a letter. Yet the same asymmetry remains, indeed it is perhaps accentuated. Information is power, and in this early part of the 21st Century, information is also ubiquitous. From the US Army Private Chelsea Manning, to the intelligence contract worker, Edward Snowden, we have seen relatively low-ranking figures get their hands on information and then expose it, leaving those at the top deeply compromised.
Now, more than ever, it seems, the leak is mightier than the sword.
Curiosity might not have killed the cat, but it sure isn’t helping.
Common life advice states that you should strive to keep your curiosity alive. After all, curiosity is what keeps us, as a species, moving into the future.
But sometimes curiosity gets the better of us. In fact, according to a new study by researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, curiosity often leads us to make decisions that we know will end with poor, unpleasant and sometimes downright painful outcomes. What does that actually mean, though? Well, it’s probably best to answer that with an example.
Remember ‘Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans’ from the Harry Potter books and movies? If not, they were jelly beans that had every flavour imaginable from strawberry to boogers. The catch was that you never knew what you were going to get. Jelly Belly actually made a version of these beans and people across the world ate them up, literally, despite the fact that most of the time it was unpleasant.
According to the team, this is because we throw caution to the wind when curiosity takes over.
"Just as curiosity drove Pandora to open the box despite being warned of its pernicious contents, curiosity can lure humans - like you and me - to seek information with predictably ominous consequences," said one of the researchers, Bowen Ruan.
The team’s work started by examining previous curiosity studies that showed how often the impulse drew people to seek out these upsetting experiences. With that in mind, the team set out to test this theory.
Their initial hypothesis was that "this curiosity stems from humans’ deep-seated desire to resolve uncertainty regardless of the harm it may bring".
To test this idea, the team did a whole bunch of experiments. The first featured 54 student participants who were shown electric-shock pens that they could mess with while they waited for the 'real study' to begin. Some of the participants had pens that were marked with red and green stickers that indicated which ones shocked while the others had pens marked with only yellow stickers, making it unclear which pens would shock.
After leaving the students in a room to shock themselves for a little bit, the team found that the uncertain group clicked way more pens in general. However, the participants with the marked pens often chose the shock pens over the non-shock pens. In both cases, the students expected a painful outcome but ignored the warning signs because of curiosity.
In another experiment, the team had participants look at a computer screen with 48 buttons. Each of these buttons played a certain sound ranging from something pleasant like a song, to nails on a chalkboard. Mixed in with these labelled sounds were mystery buttons marked with a question mark.
"On average, students who saw mostly mysterious options clicked about 39 buttons, while those who saw mostly identified buttons clicked only about 28," the team writes in a release.
To make matters worse, the 'more curious people' reported that they felt worse after following their curiosity than those who went with more certain choices.
In the end, the team concluded that while curiosity is an important human trait, it’s also sort of a flaw, because we are curious to a fault sometimes.
In the age of the smartphone and constant mobile connectivity to the internet, USB drives might not be quite as useful as they once were, but they're still an indisputably handy way to carry your personal files around.
And because of that, when people see a random USB drive just lying on the ground, it's a perplexing dilemma. Should you pick it up? Take a look at the data you find on it, and maybe try to return it to its owner? What about malware, is there a security risk? Regardless of what goes through people's minds when they face this situation, a new study has found that discarded USB drives lying around in public will definitely not go unnoticed.
A team from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign dropped 297 USB drives around the uni grounds, leaving them in places like parking lots, hallways, classrooms, libraries, and cafeterias. They found that almost half of the data sticks (and possibly a lot more) ended up being used in a computer, and almost all of them (98 percent) were picked up and removed from where they were originally dropped.
To track what people did with the USB sticks when they found them, the researchers put HTML documents on the drives, masquerading as files called "documents", "math notes", and "winter break pictures". When somebody discovered these files on the drive and tried to open them with an internet-connected computer, the researchers were notified.
Amazingly, despite the potential risks of executing these random files, people did so with 45 percent of the discarded USB drives – representing 135 instances of users opening the files. It's entirely possible that many more of the USB drives were inserted into computers too – the researchers were only notified if the HTML files were opened (and even then, only if the computer was online at the time).
So are people just nosey snoops who can't resist rifling through others' personal data? Not necessarily.
When people opened the HTML files on the drive, they were informed about the experiment (in which they had so far been an unwitting participant) and invited to complete an anonymous survey. This gave them a chance to provide some information about themselves and explain what had motivated them to pick up and use the drive in the first place.
Less than half of the 135 users at this point opted to continue the experiment, but 43 percent did provide feedback. Most of the respondents (68 percent) said they wanted to return the drive to its owner, while 18 percent acknowledged they were merely curious about the contents. Two people admitted they just personally needed a USB drive!
Some of the USB drives had been put on key rings with dummy house keys, and many of the participants indicated that this encouraged their altruistic intentions, as it added an extra sense of urgency to returning the keys (ie. the owner might be locked out of their house).
But the study found that people with good intentions still let their curiosity get the better of them, opening things like personal photos on the drives. You could argue that seeing what the owner looked like would help you find the owner of the keys, but it would be nowhere near as efficient as just opening the "personal résumé" file on the drive to look up their contact details.
The findings, which are being presented next month at the 37th IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy in California, also highlight just how unaware or unconcerned we can be about the potential security risks of opening unknown files on randomly found devices.
Over two-thirds of respondents admitted they had taken no precautions before connecting the drive to their computer. "I trust my Macbook to be a good defence against viruses," said one, (bad move) while others admitted opening the files on university computers to protect their own personal gear.
"This evidence is a reminder to the security community that less technical attacks remain a real-world threat and that we have yet to understand how to successfully defend against them," the authors write. "We need to better understand the dynamics of social engineering attacks, develop better technical defences against them, and learn how to effectively teach end users about these risks."
As lead researcher Matt Tischer told Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai at Motherboard, despite the ridiculousness of these kinds of experiments, the study shows that people, regardless of their motivation, aren't cautious enough when it comes to opening unknown files on totally random drives.
"It's easy to laugh at these attacks, but the scary thing is that they work," he said, "and that's something that needs to be addressed."