Q: I have Windows 10 on a HP laptop. Yesterday, Windows did an update of development tools or something. Now the background on the Edge is black rather than the white it used to be. How do I get it back to white? As a rhetorical question ... How do these MSN idiots keep their jobs?

– Dale A., Forest Lake, Minnesota

A: Wow, Dale, I’m not going to touch your rather strongly worded rhetorical question. There’s been enough discussion on the merits and evil ways of Microsoft in the column lately without needing to discuss anyone’s relative IQ score. I’d rather get back to solving issues that help people have happier computing experiences. Besides, I think you’re going to kick yourself when you find out who or what is to blame for your browser issue.

First off, in general, each web page decides on its own how to render the background of their pages. This information is contained in what is called a Style Sheet and it can be anything from a single color, to an image, to an animation. Compatible browsers simply render whatever the website’s designer has chosen to display. Now, in the case of Edge, those “MSN idiots” have chosen to allow you to make a choice of themes for how the browser appears. Considering your question, you might find it interesting that your choices are “Light” and “Dark.” The theme setting affects all the non-website areas of Edge, such as the tabs, the address bar, and the menus.

I am not aware of any system updates that attempt to change the setting on the browser, however it’s a trivial matter for you to change it manually, leading me to believe you might have accidentally done it yourself. To get things back the way you want them, click the “…” button in Edge’s upper-right corner, and select “Settings.” Right at the top you will see “Choose a theme.” Select what you’d like – the change is immediate. Enjoy, and thanks for writing-in all the way from the great white north!


Geek News – “KRACK attacks:” You may have read in the news recently about a new cyber-security threat called KRACK attacks. Let’s de-mystify what this means, and how it affects you.

First of all, the imposing-sounding acronym stands for “Key Reinstallation Attacks,” and it is a vulnerability that affects virtually all modern Wi-Fi networks. It allows hackers to read information that was previously assumed to be safely encrypted, including all the typical targets, such as account numbers, passwords, emails, etc. It’s also possible to use this technique to inject malware into your web surfing, causing undesirable software to be installed.

It’s important to note that this vulnerability is confined strictly to wireless access. It involves the security protocol “Wi-Fi Protected Access 2,” or WPA2, which is used in most routers and Wi-Fi hotspots to prevent unauthorized use, and secure the connections of those that are authorized. The problem isn’t a bug, and it’s not a failure of equipment vendors. It is a weakness in the protocol itself that could allow someone in range to snoop your data. Because of the nature of the attack, it’s unlikely (but not impossible) that people at home will get attacked. It’s far more likely that a hacker would set up in a public place, where many people go to connect using free Wi-Fi.

The problem is fairly simple to address, and vendors have been quick to push out updates that fix the issue. Once the update is applied, that device is protected. One problem is that you probably own a slew of devices that are vulnerable, and they all need updating, starting with your home router. That means if your router is not configured to update automatically (which it should be), you will need to manually update its firmware. For Windows 10 PCs, a patch that fixes it was included in the most recent “Patch Tuesday” release, and again, if you’re not allowing Windows to automatically update, you’ll need to patch it manually. Then there are the plethora of other Wi-Fi connected devices you probably have in your home, including phones, tablets, game consoles, TVs, baby monitors, security cameras, appliances, media streaming devices such as Roku and Blu-ray players, and even the Amazon Echo and Google Home. For complete security, you should see that every device is updated.

Final Word: Remember how I’m always harping that those of you who choose to run older versions of Windows leave yourselves vulnerable to new security issues? This problem is exactly the kind of thing I’m talking about. It’s unclear at this time whether older versions of Windows will get a patch for this vulnerability. I’m betting they won’t, as it’s been made quite clear that support for these products has ended. I can only wish you good luck, and advise you not to take that old Windows Vista laptop with you to Starbucks anymore. It’s even less safe now than it used to be.

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