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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13 Comments

Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

13 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 29, 2012

  1. You know, I haven’t got a choice but to leave it on my kid’s computers. Minecraft uses Java, and that’s all they do on there.

    • Hey Writerdood,

      Don’t know much about Minecraft (does it save back to the HD etc?) – but, you might look at having the kid’s run it through Sandboxie (assuming that Minecraft doesn’t save anything locally). If it does save locally, you/the kids, can still filter out what you need to save to the HD. Awkward, but…………

      Or, if you’re running Firefox or Chrome, then adding NoScript will boost your protection measurably.

      Best,

      Bill

  2. Fred

    Hi Bill,
    Had read about this Java exploit which you had posted in an earlier Tech Thoughts and figured Oracle would have a patch ASAP. Wrong, I’ve now read the two articles you featured today on this topic and must confess wondering what exactly to do.
    The first article “Security Warning: Disable Java Now” says to disable Java.
    The second article “Six Ways to Protect Against the New Actively Exploited Java Vulnerability” gives a few alternatives such as UNINSTALLING Java, another, which for this non-tech guy seems a little daunting:
    “consists of using the Zone-based security mechanism of Internet Explorer to in order to restrict which websites that can load Java applets.

    Users can forbid the use of Java in the Internet Zone by setting the Windows registry key 1C00 to 0 under HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings\Zones\3 and allowing Java only on whitelisted websites in the Trusted Zone”

    I see the word REGISTRY and a RED FLAG goes up in my mind.

    All in all Bill what do you think is most appropriate?
    Is it true you can’t shop online without Java?

    Adobe, Java, should go extinct in my opinion.

    • Hi Fred,

      Forget about the second article. It’s primarily written for those who need to have Java running – businesses and the like. There’s nothing new in this Java warning – not really. This is a piece of crap that has been under attack virtually since the day it was first released.

      Good idea to stay out of the Registry. If you’re using Firefox or Chrome, you can selectively engage with Java applets by installing the NoScript Firefox add-on (there are a number of available similar add-ons for Chrome, with various names).

      Users running Firefox, can disable Java as follows – click Tools – Addons. Click the Plugins tab, locate each of the Java plugins (should be 2), and click the Disable button for each.

      Users running Chrome should type “Chrome://Plugins” in the Browser’s address bar, then click the “Disable” button below any Java plug-ins.

      Users running Safari should click “Safari” in the main menu bar, then “Preferences,” then select the “Security” tab and uncheck the button next to “Enable Java.”

      Last but not least – IE users. The removal process is outside the capabilities of an average/typical user. It’s that Registry thingy. Best advice? Switch over to an alternative Browser (I strongly recommend Firefox), until a patch has been release for this zero day. Until the next one comes along, that is. :)

      So that there is no confusion – Java is not the same as Javascript – they are 2 different animals. So, do not change the browser permissions for Javascript in your Browser’s Options menu.

      As for online shopping and Java? That depends if the online shop uses Java applets. Not a particularly good answer, but…..

      Here’s something to keep in mind – a malware attack that effectively infects 1% of connected computers is seen as epidemic (go figure). So, what I’m saying here is – the chances of you falling victim to this threat is virtually non-existent. Careful and cautious users (like you), are unlikely to come across this particular menace. It’s the overconfident, careless – “it’ll never happen to me crowd” – who are most at risk.

      Best,

      Bill

  3. Thank you for sharing this with us, I really appreciate it. Now to figure out how to disable Java!!! (seriously, how do you do that)

  4. Mal

    Hey Bill,
    I haven’t had this Java rubbish on my computer in ages. You are right on the button, it’s a piece of crap. My advice to people is – if you don’t need it, don’t install it.
    Cheers

    • Hey Mal,

      Totally agree – get rid of it.

      In the last few years, only once (that I can remember), has a web site advised that I needed Java to access all the content on that particular site. No problem – I just bypassed that site.

      Overnight, Oracle has released a Java fix which also “fixed” a number of previously unknown vulnerabilities. And people think I’m nuts when I recommend that they treat their Windows machine as if it’s already compromised. If they only knew! :)

      BTW, ran into an Aussie woman yesterday who just moved here a few days ago. Asked her if she was looking forward to her first Canadian Winter. Had to laugh when she told me she was from Brisbane and she found both Melbourne and Sydney too bloody cold! She’s in for an eye opener, I’m afraid. :)

      Best,

      Bill

      Best,

      Bill

      • Mal

        Hey Bill,
        She thinks Sydney and Melbourne are too cold!!. Only someone from Brisbane could say that lol. Out in the West where I am, now THAT is cold. But only for a bit longer, the warm weather is coming.
        Cheers