Consumer Daily Reports Wed, 18 Oct 2017 07:27:54 +0000! Special News Reports Provider en-gb Consumer News: Why your Wi-Fi network is probably vulnerable to a hacker

PhotoAs the threat of data breaches looms large and dominates headlines, a researcher and tech blogger has uncovered yet another major blind spot in the way individuals and businesses use the internet: WPA2 Wi-Fi encryption.

Mathy Vanhoef, a postdoctoral researcher at KU Leuven in Belgium, first caught on to this problem in February, publishing a blog post about how machines using Windows 10 can still connect to the internet when locked.

Now, he says the flaw in WPA2's protocols is a more serious problem and could be used to steal data on any targeted network–be it that of a corporate office, a local coffee shop or even an individual in their home.

Any WPA2 system is vulnerable

The problem is not limited to PCs running Windows 10. Vanhoef says if the network is using WPA2 encryption, it could be vulnerable to a breach using key reinstallation attacks, or KRACKS.

"The attack works against all modern protected Wi-Fi networks," Vanhoef writes. "Depending on the network configuration, it is also possible to inject and manipulate data. For example, an attacker might be able to inject ransomware or other malware into websites."

This means that victims of a KRACK hack stand to lose not only sensitive information, but also equipment functionality itself. Replacing network equipment won't defend against this vulnerability, as Vanhoef says the problem is in the encryption itself.

Hacker would have to be close by

One key limitation is that KRACK hackers would have to be within range of their target network (and whatever devices are on it) to successfully infiltrate it. While this makes the attack a lot riskier, it’s little comfort considering how widespread WPA2 encryption is used.

According to the Wi-Fi Alliance, the issue can be resolved through software updates, and the software industry has already started providing patches to improve WPA2 encryption.

"There is no evidence that the vulnerability has been exploited maliciously, and Wi-Fi Alliance has taken immediate steps to ensure users can continue to count on Wi-Fi to deliver strong security protections," the group said in a security update.

The group said it now requires testing for the vulnerability within its global certification lab network and has produced a tool members can use to detect the vulnerability.

If you have a Wi-Fi network, the Alliance says you should be sure you have installed the latest updates from the company that made your network equipment.


Consumer Daily Reports Tue, 17 Oct 2017 21:05:26 +0000
Consumer News: Kelley Blue Book names hottest October car deals

PhotoConsumers who have waited until late in the year to buy a car are in luck. For the rest of October, new car shoppers have some attractive deals to consider.

Kelley Blue Book (KBB) has found a number of lease deals with the monthly payment below $200 and purchase deals where the price is not only discounted, manufacturers are offering generous cash back to qualified buyers.

This is not that unusual at this time of year. Dealers, after all, are trying to clear out their 2017 models before the 2018 vehicles begin arriving in big numbers.

"With the selldown season in full effect, those shopping for deals can see considerable savings on 2017 models before the year's end," said Jason Allan, managing editor for Kelley Blue Book's "October's list of vehicles includes some of the best-selling vehicles of 2017, along with several cars from our 10 Most Awarded Brands."

Ford Focus

The overall best October deal on KBB's list is the Ford Focus, which can be purchased for under $19,000 in most markets. But it's even cheaper than it sounds because Ford is offering up to $4,500 cash back.

If you prefer leasing a car, KBB suggests the 2017 Nissan Rogue. This SUV costs around $23,000 but can be leased for 36 months at $199 a month with $2,709 down.

The 2017 Acura ILX has a price tag of around $25,000 but can also be leased for $199 a month for 36 months with $2,499 down.

This month, Honda, Toyota, and Hyundai also have attractive lease offerings. The 2017 Honda Accord has a purchase price of less than $22,000 but a lease payment of $189 a month for 36 months, with $1,999 down.

Toyota deals

Toyota has lease specials on the Corolla and Sienna. The Corolla has one of the lowest monthly payments of any manufacturer this month -- $159 for 36 months and $1,999 down. The Sienna minivan is $279 a month with $1,999 down.

Hyundai's Tucson goes for about $23,000 and can be leased for 36 months at $199 a month and $2,499 down. Certain restrictions may apply on all lease options, including mileage limits.

Hyundai also has an attractive purchase option this month on its midsize Sonata. The car can be purchased for around $21,000 with $4,100 cash back.

Jeep and Ford SUVs have even more cash back. The popular Jeep Cherokee sells for around $25,000 but qualified buyers can get up to $5,500 cash back. The Ford Expedition sells for around $45,000 this month but offers up to $7,500 cash back


Consumer Daily Reports Tue, 17 Oct 2017 17:05:39 +0000
Consumer News: Safety group urges recall of 1.3 million Ford Explorers

PhotoThe Center for Auto Safety is calling on Ford and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) to recall 1.3 million model year 2011-2017 Ford Explorers over concerns that cabon monoxide (CO) is leaking into the cabin and poisoning drivers and occupants.

CO exposure, known as the silent killer because it contains no odor and presents as flu-like symptoms, kills more than 400 people per year in the U.S.

Ford's response

While Ford has said these vehicles are “safe,” it is offering a free repair to seal the interior of the cabin of retail Explorers to reduce the potential for exhaust to enter the vehicle.

The automaker says the offer comes not because the car is dangerous, but just for consumers’ “peace of mind.”

Nevertheless, numerous consumer complaints have been filed over the years to NHTSA, Ford, and the Center for Auto Safety regarding elevated levels of CO in Explorers.

“Why is Ford trying to address a carbon monoxide issue in more than 1.3 million Explorers without recalling the vehicles?” asked Center for Auto Safety Executive Director Jason Levine

“Instead of a patronizing suggestion that its customers are imagining things, what would actually provide consumers ‘peace of mind’ would be knowing that the interior of their vehicle provides a safe environment for themselves and their family. With something this potentially dangerous, the responsible step is a full recall – and if Ford will not do it, NHTSA should step in.”

What to do

NHTSA says its investigation into the matter is "active and ongoing." In an email to ConsumerAffairs, spokesman Jose Ucles said that "the customer satisfaction campaign announced today by Ford does not bring closure to this issue."

He encouraged owners who experience exhaust odor or have concerns about carbon monoxide exposure to contact NHTSA at (888) 327-4236 or online at and clicking ‘report a problem.’


Consumer Daily Reports Tue, 17 Oct 2017 17:05:36 +0000
Consumer News: Vermont Livestock Slaughter and Processing recalls ground beef

PhotoVermont Livestock Slaughter and Processing of Ferrisburg, Vt., is recalling approximately 133 pounds of ground beef.

The product may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.

Two illnesses have been reported.

The following item, produced on July 24 and 25, 2017, is being recalled:

  • 1-lb. vacuum sealed packages containing “Bread & Butter Farm Ground Beef” with lot codes #072517BNB and #072417BNB.

The recalled product, bearing establishment number “EST. 9558” inside the USDA mark of inspection, was sold at Bread & Butter farm in Shelburne, Vt.

What to do

Customers who purchased the recalled product should not consume it, but throw it away or return it to the place of purchase.

Consumers with questions regarding the recall may contact Carl Cushing at (802) 877-3421.


Consumer Daily Reports Tue, 17 Oct 2017 15:05:34 +0000
Consumer News: How to get your finances in order before the holidays

PhotoHoliday gifts, travel, and celebrations can lead to major debt long after the holidays have passed, but taking steps to get your finances in order before the holidays can help ensure you -- and your credit card -- don’t start the New Year off on the wrong foot.

Being financially prepared to handle the holidays is a vital part of keeping post-holiday debt at bay. To get prepared, it’s important to have a holiday spending plan in place before you start shopping. Budgeting and planning can help you stay disciplined, even when the pressure to spend is everywhere.

Holiday spending strategies

Debt accumulated during the holidays can stick around, and continue to snowball, well into the New Year. A recent survey found shoppers added an average of $1,003 to their debt during the holidays. While this amount might seem manageable, it can quickly become a burden.

About half of those surveyed planned to chip away at their debt over more than four months or just make the minimum payments -- which could extend the debt to 10 years or more and tack on nearly $400 in interest.

To avoid being buried under a mountain of holiday debt, it’s important to make sure you don’t get carried away this holiday shopping season. Here are a few smart shopping and saving strategies.

  • Figure out how much you can spend. Take into account your normal monthly expenses (like gas, utilities, groceries, and insurance), then factor in your flexible budget groups (like dining out and fun activities). See where you could stand to make a few small sacrifices (like cooking at home instead of eating out). This will give you more money to put toward gifts.

  • Make your list. Create a master list of all the people you will need to buy gifts for this year. Next to each name, write down the specific amount you will spend on a gift. If the total tab comes to more than your budget can handle, rethink your list. Consider drawing names instead of buying for multiple families, doing a white elephant gift exchange, or only buying gifts for the kids.

  • Save a little each week. Setting aside as little as $25 to $30 each week can help take the sting out of holiday shopping. At the end of just eight weeks, your small weekly savings will have grown to a few hundred dollars.

  • Choose thoughtful gifts. Ahead of the holidays, shoppers are immersed in a veritable flood of ads for expensive gifts. However, spending top dollar on gifts for loved ones isn’t always necessary. Take some time to think about what gift would mean a lot to someone. Personal gifts tend to go over big and be less expensive than pricey, conventional gifts.

  • Know that it’s okay to say "no." During the holidays, it can feel like there’s a new holiday gathering or gift exchange to participate in every week. But if it doesn’t fit into your budget, learn to say “no.” Don’t force yourself to use credit to buy a gift or new dress for an event.

  • Use cash, not credit. In addition to only making purchases you planned for in your budget, make sure you can pay for them now. Commit to using only cash or a debit card to help prevent yourself from overspending. If you choose to use a card for the cash back or points benefits, be sure to pay it off every time you make a purchase.


Consumer Daily Reports Tue, 17 Oct 2017 15:05:33 +0000