Monthly Archives: August 2012

Another Worm Worms Its Way Into Instant Messaging Applications

imageFrom the more things change the more they remain the same files:

AV-killing worm spreads via Facebook chat and IM clients – A rather industrious piece of malware that – among other things – paves the way for other malware by disabling AV solutions and software update modules has been spotted spreading via several Instant Messaging applications (ICQ, Skype, GTalk, Pidgin, MSN, YIM) and Facebook.

The victims receive a message from an unknown user, offering a link to a funny or interesting video. If they follow it, the malware in question downloads automatically from the linked site and is executed.

Nothing new here – as any one of the 10 or more articles I’ve  written over the years on using Instant Messenger applications safely will attest to. The following post (originally published September 4, 2010) will serve as a quick refresher on how to navigate the Internet safely while using an Instant Messenger client.

Tips For Using Instant Messenger Applications Safely

In a recent Symantec survey, which questioned computer users on the most likely routes cybercriminals use to drop malware on unsuspecting users, one resultant statistic made me sit up a little straighter. Just 3.9% of survey participants believed that Instant Messenger applications had a role in malware distribution.

Given the frequency with which instant messaging is used to distribute malware (recent statistics indicate almost 50% of worms use this method to spread), I was more than a little surprised at this unrealistic response.

The reality is, from a security perspective Instant Messaging applications can present considerable security risks. Security breakdowns can occur when these programs are used to share files, folders, or in some cases, entire drives. Instant messaging, unfortunately, is a primary channel used by cyber-criminals to distribute malware and scams.

Programs such as MSN Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, AIM, and a basket full of other IM applications, are extremely popular with users who want real-time contact with each other and (no surprise here), this makes them the perfect vehicle for cyber criminals.

Hackers use two methods of delivering malicious code through IM: delivery of virus, Trojan, or spy ware within an infected file, and the use of “socially engineered” text with a web address that entices the recipient to click on a URL which connects to a website that downloads malicious code. Viruses, worms, and Trojans then typically propagate, by sending themselves rapidly through the infected user’s buddy list.

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The following is a series of sensible tips for users to get the most out of these programs, securely and responsibly.

As with any other application you use on the Internet, having the knowledge that allows you to use it safely, and being aware of current threats, will make for a more positive experience when using these wildly popular applications.

Don’t click on links, or download files from unknown sources. You need to be alert to the dangers in clicking on links, or downloading files from sources that are not known to you. Even if the files or links apparently come from someone you know, you have to be positive that it really was this person who has sent the message.

Check with your contact to be sure the files, or links are genuine. Remember, if you click on those links, or run those attachments without confirmation, you run the risk of letting malware into your computer.

Use only secure passwords, and be sure to change them regularly. The longer and more varied they are – using a variety of different characters and numbers – the more secure they will be.

Protect personal and confidential information when using IM. Revealing confidential or personal information in these types of conversations, can make you an easy target for Internet predators.

For added protection when using a public computer, ensure that you disable any features that retain login information to prevent other users from gaining access to your instant messaging once you leave.

It’s virtually impossible to avoid publishing your email address on the Internet, however do so only when absolutely necessary. Cyber criminals are always on the lookout for accounts to target.

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Filed under Don't Get Hacked, Instant Messenger Safety Tips, Interconnectivity, Malware Alert

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 31, 2012

How Secure Are You Online: The Checklist – Not all computer security is about tin foil hats and anonymous browsing. Everyone who uses a computer has a horse in the security race. For the purpose of this post, we’re breaking down online security into four essential parts: passwords, browsers, at-home Wi-Fi and networking, and browsing on public Wi-Fi. Within those categories we’ll give you a checklist of everything you should do, from the bare minimum to the tin-foil-hat best.

When Your PC is Likely Infected – Malware, once it has infected your PC, has a way of protecting itself. It may not want you to install a new antivirus program–or update your current one. So you need to scan your hard drive in a way that gets around the malware. The simplest way to do that is to do the scan outside of Windows.

Best remote tools for Android tablets – For any admin, having the ability to remote into machines at all times can be a blessing (and a curse). Tablets, especially those of the 4G variety, make this fairly easy. With the incredible portability and ever-growing speeds of tablet networking, these devices are great tools for admins when it comes to remote working. But with almost everything, there’s a caveat — with so many tools available, it’s hard to know which options are best. Let’s take a look at the remote solutions for the Android tablet platform that I’ve had the most success using.

Desktop wallpaper of Curiosity’s Mars images – In August 2012, NASA successfully landed a vehicle named Curiosity on the surface of Mars. The first images are starting to roll in to the NASA site and some of them make for some interesting otherworldly desktop wallpaper.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Five tools to tune up your typing skills – If your keyboard skills are a bit shaky (or nonexistent), these typing tools can help you become more proficient and productive.

Twitter’s Fake Followers: Influence For Sale – From Lady Gaga to Obama, paid tweets and inflated followings game online reputations and call the whole system into question.

Get more out of Gmail with Mail Labs features – Explore Google Mail Labs to add new capabilities or change how Google Mail works for the better.

Ineffective at small tasks means tablets have a long way to go – Patrick Gray shares his concerns that tablets have a long way to go before they are ready in the enterprise as a replacement device.

Scientists Warn of Brain Hacking Via BCI Gadgets – Captured electro-encephalography (EEG) signals from common consumer BCI devices can be mined to significantly increase the odds of guessing a user’s private information.

Google Adds Turn-by-Turn Bicycling Navigation to Maps Apps – Google today rolled out mobile, turn-by-turn voice-guided bicycling navigation in 10 countries.

Security:

Oracle releases out of cycle fixes for Java – Out of nowhere Oracle has released an emergency update to address the zero-day vulnerabilities being exploited by many different criminal groups. Surprisingly they included some previously unknown vulnerabilities that we can only assume may also have been in use in the wild.

AV-killing worm spreads via Facebook chat and IM clients – A rather industrious piece of malware that – among other things – paves the way for other malware by disabling AV solutions and software update modules has been spotted spreading via several Instant Messaging applications (ICQ, Skype, GTalk, Pidgin, MSN, YIM) and Facebook. The victims receive a message from an unknown user, offering a link to a funny or interesting video. If they follow it, the malware in question downloads automatically from the linked site and is executed.

How to Report Dangerous Websites – Why not actually do something about the fact that the site exists and other people can also stumble across it? In this type of situation I would suggest that you submit the site to multiple services which blacklist dangerous sites. Your submission may even lead to the site being taken off-line. (recommended by Michael F.)

Cross-platform Wirenet Trojan targets Mac and Linux users – Since Windows users constitute the majority of computer users around the world, most malware is designed to target that particular OS and software made for it. Still, every now and then, malware that eschews that oft trodden route turns up. Researchers from Russian security company Doctor Web have recently unearthed a password-stealing backdoor Trojan that targets specifically Linux and Mac OS X users.

Fake PayPal payment notifications carry malware – Millions of fake emails purportedly sent by PayPal have been hitting inboxes in the last few days, Webroot warns. The emails take the form of a notification about a received payment in the amount of $208, but does not say what the payment is for. Counting on the fact that the recipients will be curious about a payment that they weren’t expecting, the spammers offered an attachment that supposedly contains details about it. Unfortunately, the attached file is a backdoor Trojan, and the only positive thing about it is that it is currently detected by the majority of the most popular AV solutions out there.

Company News:

Galaxy S III Sales Spike After Patent Verdict – Customers seem to have rushed out to buy the Galaxy S III, even though it wasn’t affected by the patent case.

Nimbuzz To Bring Free Messaging To Nokia Lumia and Windows Phone Smartphones – In partnership with Nokia, Nimbuzz – one of the fastest-growing mobile instant messaging applications in the world – today announces it will bring its hit Nimbuzz Messenger app to all Nokia Lumia and Windows Phone smartphones. The new Nimbuzz Messenger features free SMS messaging, group instant messaging, picture sharing and more.

Apple rejects app for tracking U.S. drone strikes – Drone+, which tracks media reports of casualties and maps locations of drone strikes, was rejected by the App Store for “objectionable” content.

Tokyo Court: Samsung Didn’t Violate Apple Patent in Japan - A Tokyo court ruled Friday that Samsung did not infringe an Apple patent in a locally filed lawsuit, a minor victory for Samsung in the ongoing legal battles between the two companies.

Samsung goes all in with Windows 8 in new line of devices – Samsung unveiled a new line of Smart PCs and other devices today under the ATIV brand name, all ready to ship worldwide when Windows 8 launches in October. One thing that won’t be included is a rumored Start menu replacement utility.

Webopedia Daily:

Fedora – Fedora is a Linux operating system distribution developed and supported by the Fedora Project, an open source community formed in 2003 as a partnership between Red Hat and volunteer contributors. Red Hat Enterprise Linux branches for commercial use are based on Fedora, while the open source Fedora Linux OS itself is freely available for use and customization.

Off Topic (Sort of):

California to license self-driving cars – Californian senators have passed a bill that looks set to make the state the second in the US to approve self-driving cars on its roads.

Carlton Draught – Watch the official Carlton Draught “Beer Chase” TV ad (the full version). (recommended by Michael F.)

Infographic: Two thirds of Android users don’t pay for apps – Statista recently published an infographic by Online Publishers Association that compares the willingness of Android and iOS users to pay for apps. According to the graphic, Android devices make up almost 70% of global smartphone shipments, yet 66% of the Android users included in the survey haven’t paid anything for apps in the past year.

Bad Behavior in the Office Elevator – Behavior on office elevators is out of control, according to a recent survey from CareerBuilder. From physical confrontations to indecent exposure, employees reveal that anything is possible once those sliding doors are shut. (And you should hope that you never get stuck in an elevator with co-workers who’d do these sorts of things.) Here are five of the most outrageous highlights from the research.

Can you patent a hyperlink? Patent trolls sure think so – We are just starting to understand the implications of last week’s Apple/Samsung verdict, but the most immediate consequence seems to be a lot more appeals. Some of us in the tech industry are concerned about the verdict because of cases like that of Helferich Patent Licensing, a firm that owns that patent on the common hyperlink. Indeed, companies have paid the firm some $75 million to license the hyperlink.

Today’s Quote:

“If the automobile had followed the same development cycle as the computer, a Rolls-Royce would today cost $100, get a million miles per gallon, and explode once a year, killing everyone inside.”

-     Robert X. Cringely

Today’s Free Downloads:

Waterfox 15.0 – Waterfox is basically a 64-Bit version of Firefox. The Firefox source code is taken and compiled to run specifically for 64-Bit Windows computers.

Process Lasso – Process Lasso is a software that will improve system responsiveness and stability. Process Lasso is a unique new technology intended to automatically restrain running processes that are consuming too many CPU cycles.

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Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 30, 2012

The Best Web-Based Email Services – Despite the rise of social networking, you still need an email account. Luckily, your options are getting better and better.

7 Surprising Things Lurking In Online ‘Terms of Service’ Agreements – When is the last time you actually read the “terms of service” agreement before you registered for a new website or downloaded a new app?

Plan Your Free Online Education at Lifehacker U: Fall Semester 2012 – Your education doesn’t have to stop once you leave school—freedom from the classroom just means you have more control over what you learn and when you learn it. We’ve put together a curriculum of some of the best free online classes available on the web this fall for our third term of Lifehacker U, our regularly-updating guide to improving your life with free, online college-level classes.

Google+ Launches Business-Savvy Social Networking Tools – Google on Wednesday got dressed up in its best suit and tie and grabbed its briefcase to head to work, rolling out new Google+ tools and features tailored for businesses that will be free through the end of 2013.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Grooveshark is Back on Android After 16 Month Hiatus - The music app Grooveshark is available again for Android devices 16 months after it was removed by Google from its application market.

RogueKiller scans systems for rootkits, registry issues, and more – RogueKiller is better at resolving registry issues than CCleaner, according to Jack Wallen. Learn how to use this supplemental defense against malicious software.

Facebook given one week to stop breaching privacy laws – Facebook has until September 4th to stop giving user info to third parties without explicit consent. Meanwhile, one observer says privacy trickery is built right into the App Center’s design.

Why You Shouldn’t Trust Positive Online Reviews—Or Negative Ones, for That Matter – Judging by how prevalent the manipulation seems to be, it’s arguable that online user ratings and reviews are less trustworthy than ever.

Firefox 15 released: Seven critical vulnerabilities patched and stealthy updates too! – The latest version of the Firefox browser fixes a critical security hole Naked Security reported on in June, and makes the browser’s silent update feature even stealthier.

Dropbox Two-Step Verification: Hands On – Online services are enabling additional security by checking your identity via SMS or a mobile app. Here’s how it works.

Lock Down Facebook Photo Albums: Hands-On With McAfee Social Protection App – McAfee’s newest social protection app lets you create protected Facebook albums.

HDTV Buying Guide: Select the Right Flat-Panel Technology – Before you drop hundreds or thousands of dollars on the wrong flat-panel HDTV set, read our comprehensive breakdown of everything you need to know. Our HDTV buying guide might just help you save some money.

Tech You Should NOT Buy Now – Stop! Put that credit card away! If you buy these products now, you risk them becoming obsolete in just a few months.

You Can Write, But You Can’t Hide: Big Data Knows Your Writing Quirks – Data scientists have been able to mine unstructured data to determine the identity of a document’s author. It seems we all have a “write-print” as unique as our fingerprint.

Microsoft Surface: Cheat Sheet – Microsoft’s Windows 8 tablets – all you need to know.

Security:

Java Zero-day Exploit Goes Mainstream, 100+ Sites Serve Malware – Attackers using two recently-uncovered Java unpatched vulnerabilities, or “zero-days,” have quickly expanded their reach by going mainstream, security experts said today. And on Tuesday, Mozilla, maker of Firefox, joined the chorus of advice that users should disable the current version of Oracle’s Java. The company is also ready to automatically block the plug-in from running in its browser, although it has not yet pulled the trigger.

UK data breaches up 1000% in five years – Imation today released figures obtained through a request under the Freedom of Information Act which show that data breach numbers in the UK have increased by more than 1000% in the past five years. Figures obtained from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) show a huge growth in the number of self-reported data breaches occurring each year since 2007.

Facebook troll outed as policeman – A UK woman has endured months of poisonous messages, email hacking, online impersonation, and her daughter’s image getting pasted onto a photo of a lap dancer, all over her words of support for an X Factor contestant.

Reveton/FBI ransomware – exposed, explained and eliminated (video) – Many of you have been asking us about the Reveton ransomware, which claims that the FBI has fined you, and locks you out of your PC until you pay up. Learn what it looks like, and what to do if you or one of your friends and family encounter it.

Cancer Care Group leaves unencrypted server backups in car, loses data on 55,000 patients and staff – Indiana-based Cancer Care Group has lost server backups with data on 55,000 patients and staff from a parked car. We have to ask, “Why would anyone, ever, leave an unencrypted laptop unattended in a car?”

Company News:

Secunia Empowers IT-Operations and Security Teams with the Release of Its New Vulnerability & Patch Management Solution – Secunia, the leading provider of IT security solutions that enable businesses and private individuals to manage and control vulnerability threats, today announced the general  availability of the next generation of its flagship solution the Secunia Corporate Software Inspector (CSI) version 6.0.

VMware Designs Virtualization Products for Small Business – VMWare announces new virtualization products and tools designed especially for small business.

Judge Dismisses BancorpSouth Defense in Online Theft Suit – A federal judge has rejected BancorpSouth’s plan to use contractual agreements with customers as a shield against liability claims stemming from an online heist of some $440,000 that was illegally wire-transferred from the account of one of the bank’s commercial customers in March 2010.

Cricket to Include Unlimited Music on Android Plans – Mobile phone carrier Cricket is making its unlimited music service, Muve Music, an exclusive feature of its higher-end phones.

HTC has ‘no intention’ to settle with Apple, say reports – Smartphone maker remains defiant, at least publicly, in the wake of the ruling against Samsung in the U.S.

Webopedia Daily:

Heat Sink – A component designed to lower the temperature of an electronic device by dissipating heat into the surrounding air. All modern CPUs require a heat sink. Some also require a fan. A heat sink without a fan is called a passive heat sink; a heat sink with a fan is called an active heat sink. Heat sinks are generally made of an aluminum alloy and often have fins.

 Off Topic (Sort of):

Cloud Computing Confusing to Many: Survey – A survey, commissioned by Citrix, shows that cloud computing is a confusing topic to many, including regular users of it. The survey shows there is a significant disconnect between what Americans know, what they pretend to know and what they actually do when it comes to cloud computing.

Curiosity’s new photos of Mars prove that a 2-megapixel camera is more than enough – Over the last few days, Curiosity has finally booted up its two high-resolution, full-color mast cameras: Mastcam 34 and Mastcam 100. Curiosity has also taken its first steps towards detecting water on the surface of Mars — and at a press conference, NASA showed off an audio clip that was transmitted from Earth to Curiosity, and then back to Earth, making it the first audio clip beamed to us from another planet.

How a Philips light bulb uses blue LEDs to produce white light – There’s no two ways around it: many potential buyers have been turned off by the yellow cap pieceson some LED bulbs. These bulbs might be efficient, increasingly affordable, and last for upwards of 25,000 hours, but what the heck is with that day glow yellow?

The EFF and Google: Too Close for Comfort? – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) recently posted a commentary coming out against a decision in yet another patent lawsuit, the Apple-Samsung battle, saying the verdict favoring Apple stifled innovation and consumer choice. These are certainly reasonable arguments. But in light of money the EFF received from Google, unseemly questions arise around the nonprofit organization’s motives.

There can only be one: Smartphones are the PCs of the future – In 10 years, tablets computers will be archaic and obsolete. Desktops and laptops too, having already begun their slide into outmoded antiquity, will soon be nothing more than dusty cupboard-dwelling relics and museum exhibits. The one form factor that will remain — the last and only bastion of consumer computing — will be the smartphone.

No, Tablets Won’t Replace PCs Anytime Soon – The list of what tablets can do is long and growing, but it’s the list of what they can’t do that’s keeping most employees from using tablets as PC replacements.

Today’s Quote:

“Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are conservative.”

-    John Stuart Mill

Today’s Free Downloads:

Family Tree Builder – Genealogy software Family Tree Builder is a helpful research tool for people who find it a daunting task to figure out the best way to link together all the information they collect about relatives through letters, old documents or photographs.

Compare and synchronize PC files easily with FreeFileSync – With just a click, this handy app goes to work and it’s basic, simple, and gets the job done.

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Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 29, 2012

Security Warning: Disable Java Now – Java was once touted as the “write once, run anywhere” language. In theory, a single Java program could run on any Java-supporting platform. That dream never quite came to perfection, though, and these days Java is a favorite attack vector for hackers. The Flashback Trojan breached Macintosh computers via a Java vulnerability, for example. Just recently researchers at FireEye reported a new zero-day vulnerability in Java that’s serious enough we should all just disable Java, pending a fix.

Microsoft Releases SkyDrive Android App – Microsoft today made good on an earlier promise and released its first official SkyDrive cloud storage app for Android devices. The new app lets you access and browse all the documents, photos, and other files you have stored on the service right from your Android device. You can also see a list of recently opened documents, and view files that others have shared with you.

Facebook Gets Privacy Ultimatum From German Consumer Groups – If Facebook does not stop providing personal data to third-party app makers before next Monday, it could face legal action.

Get a Better Battery Gauge for Your Laptop – Fab freebie BatteryBar is the single best thing to happen to laptops since Wi-Fi. It shows you everything you need to know about your battery.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Mozilla Releases Firefox 15, Updated Android App – Mozilla on Tuesday released a duo of updates for its desktop and Android Web browser with a number of new features and enhancements. On the mobile side, the latest version of Firefox for Android includes support for tablets, including a new design that makes browsing the Web faster and easier.

The 50 Best Free iPhone Apps for 2012 – Stock your iPhone with some incredible apps, from the best in social networking to programs that help you keep your budget in check, all without spending a dime.

Revived ‘Green Button’ Site Helps Answer Your Windows Media Center Questions – Much like its predecessor, the new Green Button offers active forums on all things WMC: software, tuners, extenders (like the Xbox 360), Windows 8, and so on. Suffice it to say, if you’re a Windows Media Center user, you’ll definitely want to bookmark this site. And spread the word, because the more people who join (or rejoin) the community, the better it will be.

How to Interest Your Kids in Security – Managing security for your computers and devices is about as much fun as going for a dental checkup, and just as necessary. How can you possibly get your kids to take part?

7 Tips for Creating a PPC Keyword List – Choosing the right keywords to attract Web-surfers to your website often feels more like art than science. But these small business marketing tips will get your PPC ad campaign off on a good start.

Five speedy Windows desktop search apps – Even if your data is well organized, a good search tool will save you tons of time. Here are five apps to help you find what you need right away.

Security:

Facebook friend added a new photo of you? Beware spammed-out malware attack – Computer users are being warned to be careful about opening unsolicited email attachments, after a malicious Trojan horse was spammed out posing as a Facebook notification that the recipient is featured in a newly uploaded photograph.

Beware of fake Symantec AV notifications – The email purports to be a notification from Symantec Security Check warning the recipients that their email account may be blocked because it has been sending out “infected” emails. Unfortunately, following the link will take them to a page serving a file named RemovalTool.exe, which is actually a downloader Trojan that, after being run, will phone back to its C&C server and download other malicious executables onto the machine.

DDoS attack stymies vote in Miss Hong Kong beauty contest – Residents of Hong Kong were up in arms after a popular, online vote to select the next Miss Hong Kong was sabotaged by a distributed denial-of-service attack, forcing the pageant’s judges to pick the winner on their own.

Spammers flood Facebook’s own Help Center – Spammers have overrun the Facebook Help Center, clogging up the site’s self-help community forum to such an extent that it has become effectively useless.

Six Ways to Protect Against the New Actively Exploited Java Vulnerability – Most of the proposed solutions have drawbacks or are applicable only to certain system configurations and environments. However, the hope is that in the absence of an official patch from Oracle users will be able to use one or a combination of them in order to reduce the risk of their systems being compromised.

Toyota says it was hacked by ex-IT contractor, sensitive information stolen – Toyota claims that if the information were shared with competitors, or made public, “it would be highly damaging to Toyota, and its suppliers, causing immediate and irreparable damage.”

Company News:

Lexmark to Exit Inkjet Printer Business – Lexmark announced on Tuesday that its decision to restructure the company will mean an exit from the inkjet hardware manufacturing business.

Instagram Camera Inching Closer to Reality – ADR Studio is working on an Instagram-specific camera that is expected to launch in mid-2013. The first prototype of the Instagram Socialmatic camera is expected by year’s end, according to ADR, which recently gained new business partners to help get the project off the ground.

MIPS Looks to Challenge ARM’s Tablet Dominance With Smaller CPU – MIPS is known for chips used in home entertainment products such as digital TVs and Blu-ray disc players, but its processor designs are also used in a few tablets, including one made by Philips. They are mostly lower-end Android devices sold in emerging markets like China and Indonesia. It hopes to move up the food chain with a new processor design called proAptiv, an implementation of its MIPS32 architecture.

IBM Unveils New Mainframe Running on World’s Fastest Microprocessor – IBM on Tuesday introduced a new line of mainframe computers that the manufacturer calls its ‘most powerful and technologically advanced ever.’

Samsung Releases All-in-One PC Troika – Samsung introduces a trio of new All-in-One PCs, optimized for Windows 8 and boasting high-res, capacitive multi-touch screens to die for.

Webopedia Daily:

Computer System Cooling – The phrase cooling in computing generally refers to the dissipation of large amounts of heat, which is created while a computer system is running. Heat is generated inside the computer tower by various hardware such as CPU, video card or even the hard drive. The objective of cooling is to maintain an optimal operating temperature and this can be achieved through various methods including the introduction of heat sinks and fans. Other cooling methods include liquid cooling and software cooling.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Former NSA director claims U.S. government has been spying on Americans for over a decade, collecting e-mails, call records, and other data – William Binney, a mathematical genius that worked for the NSA for 32 years with part of that time being served as the technical director of National Security Agency’s World Geopolitical and Military Analysis Reporting Group, is claiming that the NSA — and by association, the United States government — has been spying on virtually every American citizen since 9/11. (recommended by Hipockets)

Why Apple Actually Lost to Samsung – While everyone is all crazy about Apple’s billion-dollar patent victory over Samsung, the psychological effect on consumers has been ignored. Several times throughout the case, the same point was driven home: the Android phone is identical to, and perhaps better than, the iPhone. This “revelation,” which Android users have always known, will easily cost Apple more than a billion dollars in sales.

What is the TPP, and why should you care? – This multinational ‘free trade’ agreement has been under secret negotiation since 2008. Nine Pacific nations are at the table, including the US, Australia and New Zealand. It includes provisions that extend intellectual property protection and enforcement on an international plane. Like ACTA, TPP is a ‘trade’ agreement being secretly negotiated behind closed doors. This protects the US-led corporate lobby from sufficient public scrutiny, leaving them to push agenda items, like copyright term extension, into an international agreement.

Today’s Quote:

“Diplomacy is the art of saying ‘Nice doggie’ until you can find a rock.”

-      Will Rogers

Today’s Free Downloads:

BlueScreenView (portable version) – When Windows crashes, searching for a cause is often a frustrating, unfulfilling experience. But the infamous “blue screen of death” doesn’t have to leave you scratching your head if you fire up the portable version of handy utility BlueScreen View. It scans Microsoft’s minidump files, it’s free and it doesn’t require installation.

WinPatrol – The latest version of WinPatrol, a free security utility that serves as a virtual guard dog for your Windows PC, helps make the Web feel a whole lot safer than the scary place it can often seem.

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Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 28, 2012

Broadcast Your iPhone or iPad’s Screen Live on the Internet – It’s easy to share your computer’s screen from anywhere, but when it comes to your iPhone or iPad that’s not the case. Fortunately, a clever method discovered by entrepreneur Matt Galligan offers a simple solution. The process is pretty simple, and it’s covered in the video above, but you can read on for instructions if you prefer text instead.

Set up avast! Anti-Theft on an Android phone – Find out why Jack Wallen recommends the free avast! Mobile Security application for your Android phone.

Windows 8 Multi-monitor Tips and Tricks – Windows 7 offers multiple display support, but Windows 8 takes it to the next level. All you need to do is plug in a second display, then dive into your applications. It’s worth taking a look at specific aspects of Windows 8’s multidisplay support.

Facebook App Center Under Fire in Germany – A German consumer group is fighting back against Facebook’s App Center, claiming that the feature gathers personal information without users’ consent, thereby breaking German law.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Turning the Raspberry Pi into a fully-functioning media center – The versatile $25-$35 Raspberry Pi has taken the developer and modder communities by storm in recent months. Indeed, the bare-bones board currently powers a wide range of esoteric projects, including a model boat set to sail across the stormy Atlantic as well as a remote-controlled truck equipped with a night vision video camera capable of conducting “surveillance” missions.

Get Organized: How to Catalog Your Possessions – Though rarely mentioned, any at-home disaster preparedness plan should include digitized records of your physical possessions, from homeowners’ certificates to electronics. The latest installment in our Get Organized series shows you how to do it, so you’ll be ready in the face of calamity.

The 5 most popular Linux distributions – It’s hard to say what the most popular Linux distributions are. There are no good surveys. But, these are the ones that have been getting the most buzz in recent months.

Lenovo’s $300 IdeaPad Tablet Has 9-Inch Screen and Speedy Tegra 3 Processor – Lenovo is aiming squarely for the bargain bin with its $300 IdeaPad A2109 tablet, which despite the low price still has a 9-inch display and a quad-core Tegra 3 processor. For software, the tablet runs Android 4.0.

How your tweets may prove you’re a psychopath – Scientists believe that using words like “die” and “bury” on Twitter indicate that you might have very difficult tendencies.

Twitter renews privacy fight in Occupy Wall Street case – Social network says in appeal that a lower court’s decision concluding user tweets are “unprotected by the federal and New York constitutions is still erroneous.”

Make iTunes sound better – Learn some quick and easy ways to squeeze better audio quality from Apple’s iTunes music software.

Security:

Hackers leak information stolen from over 100 sites – Hacker collective Team GhostShell has posted on Saturday on their Twitter account links to a massive leak that supposedly includes over one million of user record sets stolen from around 100 website across the globe. The records contain usernames, real names, email addresses, passwords, and more.

“Tax Payment Rejected” spam campaign – While individuals not living in the US are unlikely to fall for the scam for obvious reasons, some US citizens might be alarmed by the message and follow the link, which will take them to a bogus “Page loading…” page, hosted on a variety of compromised hosts. The bad news is that the java script that redirects the victims to one of the pages serving the Blackhole exploit kit is currently detected by only 8 of the 41 AV solutions used by VirusTotal.

Is the death knell sounding for traditional antivirus? – Antivirus developers need to run malcode in their labs in order to create malware-identifying signatures. What happens if they can’t?

New Java Zero Day Being Used in Targeted Attacks – There is a newly discovered zero day vulnerability in Java 7 that is being used in some targeted attacks right now. The vulnerability works against Internet Explorer and Firefox and researchers say that attackers are exploiting in the wild and installing a version of the Poison Ivy RAT on compromised systems.

Woman gets 2.5 years in prison for managing ATM-sucking gang of fraudsters – Over $9 million was stolen from cash machines in 280 cities around the world in less than 12 hours, using a mixture of gang of low-level operatives and high-tech hacking.

Company News:

Intel partners with VMware for cloud security – Intel announced new collaboration with VMware and will deliver a platform for trusted cloud that combines Intel Trusted Execution Technology (Intel TXT) with the new release of VMware vSphere 5.1, a platform for building cloud infrastructures. With hardware-enhanced security capabilities integrated into the processor, Intel TXT combined with VMware vSphere 5.1 will provide a platform to run applications in private and public cloud environments.

RadioShack No Contract Wireless Pricing Revealed – Electronics retailer RadioShack is reportedly planning to launch no-contract wireless plans early next month, and new pricing details have emerged about the forthcoming service.

VMworld 2012: DataCore Storage Hypervisor Makes I/O Intensive Tier 1 Applications Run Faster Virtualized – Today at VMware’s VMworld 2012, DataCore Software, the storage hypervisor leader and premier storage virtualization software provider, is showcasing how SANsymphony V 9.0, the newest release of its flagship product, boosts the speed, throughput and availability of virtualized, I/O intensive tier 1 applications like SAP, Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft SharePoint and Microsoft Exchange. Customers report 2x to 5x faster performance and achieve better than 99.999% uptime after virtualizing their existing storage with SANsymphony-V.

Evernote Teams With Moleskine, Expands to Small Biz – Evernote is delivering its powerful note-taking and universal search service to small business with a partnership with Moleskine. The Evernote Business platform service, available in desktop, mobile, and tablet forms, can save, sync, and find information across devices, and will soon be available as a go-to product for businesses that need to reign in a dispersed workforce.

IBM buys Kenexa for $1.3 billion, eyes social HR software, services – IBM says Kenexa will allow it to create “smarter workforce” tools to boost customer service, foster internal innovation and expert discovery. Sound familiar? Oracle, SAP and Salesforce have similar plans.

Webopedia Daily:

Dendrimer – A synthetic, three-dimensional macromolecule formed using a nanoscale fabrication process. A dendrimer is built up from a monomer, with new branches added in steps until a tree-like structure is created (dendrimer comes from the Greek dendra, meaning tree). A dendrimer is technically a polymer. In computer applications, early research suggests that dendrimers can be used to create ultra-low dielectric constant materials, which can lead to breakthroughs in semiconductor performance.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Why screen use keeps you awake – It’s long been known that using a screen right before bed can make it harder to sleep – and, now, the reason for this has become clearer.

Smartphone Adoption Rate Fastest in Tech History – According to a recent Flurry report, global smartphone adoption has exploded, growing faster than any consumer technology in history.

The citizen developer: A security risk that can’t be ignored – Businesses need to act to prevent corporate data being put at risk by the increasing number of non-programmers building their own apps.

Inside Huawei, the Chinese tech giant that’s rattling nerves in DC – A congressional committee wants to know whether this telecommunications powerhouse is a national security threat. Why? CNET went to China to find out.

Why Apple’s Win over Samsung Is Ultimately Good News for Consumers – Consumers should ultimately be the big winners from the Apple-Samsung patent case. Instead of stifling competition, this case should actually spur more creativity and give consumers an even broader range of innovative products to choose from in the future.

Today’s Quote Joke:

An atheist was seated next to a little girl on a plane and he turned to her and asked, ‘Do you want to talk?’ Flights go quicker if you strike up a conversation with your fellow passenger.’

The little girl who had just started to read a book replied, ‘What do you want to talk about?’

‘Oh I don’t know,’ said the atheist. ‘How about why there is no God or no Heaven or Hell or no life after death’ as he smiled smugly.

‘OK,’ she said. ‘Those could be interesting topics, but let me ask you a question first.’

‘A horse, a cow and a deer all eat the same grass, yet a deer excretes pellets, while a cow turns out a flat patty, but a horse produces clumps. Why do you suppose that is?’

The atheist visibly surprised by the girl’s intelligence, thinks about it and says, ‘I have no idea.’

To which the girl replies, ‘Do you really feel qualified to discuss why there is no God, no Heaven or Hell or no life after death, when you don’t know Shit?’

And she went back to reading her book….

(Thanks Mike) J

Today’s Free Downloads:

Cloudfogger – Cloudfogger provides free file encryption for Dropbox, SkyDrive, Google Drive and Others. You don’t have to worry about your privacy, your provider or lost devices any more. Cloudfogger secures your files and you’re in control, no matter where you keep your files. With Cloudfogger you keep control over who has access to your data.

Type light – Have you ever had a situation where you’ve just got to match a font, but you can’t for the life of you find a good match? You’ve used Find My Font and other online tools to try to find a font that conforms, but nothing’s quite right. Type Light, a freeware typeface editor and creator, could be your new best friend.

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Free BootMed For Your Sick PC

imageI’ve covered a boatload of  free Live CDs (a boot disk on a CD) in the last few years, including – Boot, Recovery, Rescue, Antivirus, and so on. To work effectively with such tools generally demands a very high level of user experience with operating systems, which effectively restricts usage to geeks or, the occasional very daring newbie.

I’ve just spent a week, or so, testing BootMed, a Ubuntu Linux driven set of recovery tools which is a little different than most such tool sets – it’s much more new user friendly.

On launch, BootMed defaults to Firefox which opens on the developer’s site – “What can BootMed do”.

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That’s a bit of a twist on most recovery tools/disks/applications, since the developer has recognized that not all users have the practical background, or the experience, to work with these types of tools unaided.

The tutorials (walk- throughs) on this page (What can BootMed do) – shown below – should make working with the specific applications included on the CD/DVD much easier for less experienced users than it would be otherwise. Kudos to the developer on this one.

Recovery

Misc.

More experienced users will simply venture straight to the Desktop to access the available tools.

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The following screen capture illustrates the applications available.

Note: Under “Applications”, additional tools are available.

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You can see from the following screen capture, BootMed allows the user to access all attached devices (and their files), from the “Computer” icon.

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The following two graphics show the AV’s available. Both AVs will automatically update their definition database – provided the PC is connected to the Internet.

McAfee’s Stinger – a stand-alone utility used to detect and remove specific viruses.

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ClamWin Free Antivirus – ClamWin is a free antivirus designed for Windows.

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Two file recovery applications are available including PhotoRec, a powerful recovery application.

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And TestDisk, which adds additional functionality – including partition recovery.

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There are many more applications included in this bag of tools including – GParted partition manager, as well as WINE, which will allow you to run Windows applications from within BootMed.

The CD/DVD burning application Brasero (available under “Applications”), is shown in the following screen shot.

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System requirements: Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7

Download 32 bit ISO at: Download.com

Download 64 bit ISO at: Download.com

I particularly like BootMed since it allows a fairly typical user access to complex tools while at the same time, not feeling abandoned in the scary world of operating systems. The developer has recognized this chill factor, and does a fair amount of “hand holding” – I think that’s very cool.

If you’re now a geek, or a high level user, think back to the days when you could have used some “hand holding”. If you were lucky enough to get it, I think you’ll agree that “hand holding” can make a major difference.

Don’t have a CD/DVD drive? Then – install BootMed to a USB flash drive. Easy to follow instructions are here.

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, CD/DVD Recovery Tools, downloads, File Recovery Software, Freeware, Live CDs, Software, System Recovery Tools

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 27, 2012

Top 10 Clever Uses for Dropbox – Dropbox is an awesome service. You can back your files up to the cloud, sync them between computers, and share them with your friends. That’s not all it can do, though. Here are our top 10 favorite clever uses for our favorite file syncing program. If you don’t use Dropbox, don’t fret—you can do most of these things with any file syncer you want, whether it’s SkyDrive, Google Drive, Cubby, or something else.

Five Best Desktop Music Players – The best desktop audio players organize your playlists, help you keep your massive music collection easy to search, and even sync with mobile players, among other things, but which ones excel in all of those areas?

Dropbox Upgrades Security With Two-factor Authentication – The file-sharing utility Dropbox is now offering two-factor authentication, a system that makes it much harder for hackers to capture valid credentials for a person’s account.

Hurricane survival apps to keep you safe from the storm – Hear all those dire warnings and doomsday scenarios from the weather experts on TV when a hurricane is about to strike? What happens when the power is out or it’s time for a commercial? Now you can take matters literally into your own hands and do the tracking yourself.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Are the Feds Stalking You on Facebook? – Not to get paranoid, but we try to determine why a Bostonian discovered mystery Facebook logins from Washington, D.C., some 450 miles away.

YouTube Allegdly Testing New ‘Moodwall’ for Video Viewing – To better help users find videos that relate to the kinds of things they want to watch, YouTube appears to be testing out a new feature called the “Moodwall.” This element goes one step above YouTube’s standard channels and categories, as it allows users to now select a “vibe” or feeling that they want to try and achieve within the videos themselves – selections like “funny,” “gross,” “inspiring,” or “catchy,” to name a few.

iPad Mini Rumor Mill Heats Up – If you just can’t wait for a smaller Apple tablet to arrive on the scene, the latest rumor suggests you might be waiting longer than tech watchers first thought.

Windows 8 $15 Upgrade Offer: FAQs for Recent PC Buyers – Have you recently purchased a new computer? Here’s what you need to know about upgrading to Windows 8 at the discounted price.

16 Awesome Free Games – Looking for a little entertainment that won’t break the bank? From browser-based puzzlers to downloadable shoot-‘em-ups, we have a free game that’s just right for you in our latest roundup.

USB Swiss Army Drives Lose Security, Prompting Refund – Swiss army knife maker Victorinox has decided to take the sting out of ditching support for the security software in its range of USB-knife drives by offering customers a full refund. In a message posted to Facebook but not apparently anywhere else, the company said customers unhappy with the ending of the security features on the company’s combined penknife/flash memory drives could send them back for a refund. “Ultimately, if you simply aren’t happy with the product based on this development and would like to return it, we understand,” read the announcement.

Apple Attempts to Remove All Trace of its Crappy Genius Ads from the Internet – Remember when we said Apple’s new marketing campaign was a “complete embarrassment”? Well apparently they agree with us. Apple has apparently removed all trace of its three genius ads from their website, and even the official YouTube channel. We can only hazard to guess that the company realized stereotyping its customers and clueless, needy, and panic stricken probably wasn’t the quickest way to their hearts, and cooler heads prevailed.

Security:

Java zero day allegedly spotted in the wild – FireEye’s Malware Intelligence Lab is making the claim that there is a new zero day vulnerability in the wild that affects the latest version of Java. Researcher Atif Mushtaq wrote on the company’s blog that he spotted the initial exploit on a domain that pointed to an IP address in China. A quick search showed that the server at this IP address had been responsible for serving other forms of malware in the past. At the time of writing, the server was either refusing or being non-responsive to browser requests, but it is still online.

iPhone SMS Bug Remains Threat – Security on the iPhone is heavily dependent on Apple’s ability to vet all third-party apps before users download them. But a French hacker claims he has found a flaw in the smartphone’s text messaging service that bypasses the safeguard. The hacker, who calls himself “pod2g” and is best known for jailbreaking iPhones, says the vulnerability could let an attacker send a message pretending to be from a bank, credit card company, or other trusted source.

Want Security and Privacy? Turn Off Your Mobile Devices’ GPS – Security experts are making the strong argument to turn off mobile devices’ GPS functions unless really needed.

Saudi Aramco Restores Internal Network After Malware Attack – Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia’s national energy company, said on Sunday it had repaired 30,000 workstations infected with a malicious virus earlier this month.

Company News:

Legal analysts suggest Apple-Samsung verdict may not be safe – Some experts poring over statements of Apple-Samsung jury members and details of their judgment suggest that the verdict could be overturned.

HP Losses Continue to Mount – HP reported its third quarter fiscal 2012 earnings late Wednesday, including a massive $8.9 billion dollar net earnings loss. For the quarter, HP reported net revenue of $29.7 billion, for a 5 percent year-over-year decline. HP’s decline is due to a number of factors, including a challenging macro-economic climate and a slowing PC business. Despite the challenges, CEO Meg Whitman pledged during the company’s earnings call that she is still on track to improving her company’s fortunes.

Samsung Wants Galaxy Tab Ban Lifted in the US After Apple Patent Verdict – Samsung Electronics asked a Californian court on Sunday to lift a preliminary ban on sales of its Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet in the U.S., after a jury found that Samsung does not infringe on an Apple design patent. Samsung also said it wants Apple to pay damages for lost sales.

Apple’s True Intentions Behind the Samsung Suit – It’s not all about the damages. Apple is using this high-profile trial to send the message to its competitors that, regardless of the outcome, it will go to great lengths to protect its intellectual property.

How RIM Can Be Saved: CEO Heins Speaks Out – With the future of his company very much in doubt, Research In Motion CEO Thorsten Heins sat down with eWEEK to talk about where RIM went wrong and what it’s now doing right. The BlackBerry experience was once so addictive it earned the smartphones a special nickname: CrackBerries. Can RIM get us hooked again?

Startup Branch Offers Place to Chat – Can another service find a fit in the crowded social networking world? Branch, still in beta, has backers who believe it has found a route.

Ask.com buys About.com for $300M – IAC’s search business Ask.com buys the content site for US$300 million in cash, noting that synergies between both companies will boost profitability of About and credibility of Ask.

Webopedia Daily:

Assistive Technology – Assistive technology (AT) is a generic term used to refer to a group of software or hardware devices by which people with disabilities can access computers. They can be specially developed and marketed devices or off-the-shelf products that have been modified. Assistive technology can include devices such as alternate keyboards and mice, voice recognition software, monitor magnification software, multiple switch joysticks, and text-to-speech communication aids.

Off Topic (Sort of):

The Internet in 1969 (video 1:57) – This is amazingly close, give or take some details. Considering anything resembling the Internet we know today was about 25 years in the future, this was remarkably prescient.

Darpa Has Seen the Future of Computing … And It’s Analog – Through its Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa), the DoD is funding a new program called UPSIDE, short for Unconventional Processing of Signals for Intelligent Data Exploitation. Basically, the program will investigate a brand-new way of doing computing without the digital processors that have come to define computing as we know it. The aim is to build computer chips that are a whole lot more power-efficient than today’s processors — even if they make mistakes every now and then. (recommended by Michael F.)

Canada Will Beat U.S. to Cashless Economy – Single-payer health care may make Canada a socialist pariah in the eyes of U.S. conservatives. But when it comes to keeping money flowing out of consumers’ pockets and into merchants’ coffers—a key characteristic of any thriving capitalist economy—Canada has its neighbor south of the border beat.

9 Android Products That Are Just Plain Weird – Google’s Android OS is the dominant smartphone OS in the country right now, but that isn’t the only product line it is tapping into these days. Last week, Nikon announced a camera that uses Android as its OS. Android will also run the in-flight entertainment system for the upcoming Boeing Dreamliner passenger planes. PCMag found some of the other bizarre place Android is showing up. Check them out here.

Women are teachable, c.1940s – Booklet that was intended to assist male bosses in supervising their new female employees at RCA plants.

Frankenstein Malware – the future of cyberwar, or just a catchy headline? – A paper on “Frankenware” presented at a recent USENIX conference offers to help you build new malware entirely out of code sequences which already appear on your victim’s computer. Bankrolled at least in part by the US Air Force, and openly touted by its authors as “a powerful tool for active defense (e.g., offensive cyber-operations),” this internet-era Modern Prometheus story has been widely covered in the technology media, often with a degree of admiration bordering on breathlessness.

Today’s Quote:

“There is no nonsense so arrant that it cannot be made the creed of the vast majority by adequate governmental action.”

-     Bertrand Russell

Today’s Free Downloads:

Mousotron – Have you ever wondered how many mouse clicks and keypresses you make every day? Did you ever pause to think about how many miles your mouse cursor moves across the screen every week? If you’re curious about these numbers, look to free utility Mousotron for the answers.

Ezvid – Video editor designed to be a quick and easy solution to creating YouTube videos, can make a finished video or slideshow in less than five minutes. Ezvid supports JPG, PNG, GIF, and other still images, as well as all mainstream video formats including AVI, WMV, and MOV.

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Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News