Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 8, 2014

Why you shouldn’t be scared by the ‘largest data breach’ ever;  Tour Colleges Online With Google Street View;  Facebook also uses PhotoDNA to prowl for illicit images;  8 essential apps for back to school;  Enter Sexfit, the Unmentionable Wearable;  Woman hospitalized with ‘Twitter psychosis';  How to test the speed of your USB drives;  Five high-quality Android voice recorders;  The best times to post on social media: 4 tips;  How to opt out of interest-based ads on your Android phone;  The US Intelligence Community has a Third Leaker;  NFL Now video app launches across mobile, TV boxes;  6 job search ‘hacks’ that will get you hired;  Meet Sproutling, the smart baby monitor that learns your kid’s sleeping patterns;  Dial-Up Still a Cash Cow for AOL.

Why you shouldn’t be scared by the ‘largest data breach’ ever – There’s a good chance that one of your email accounts is among the 1.2 billion accounts compromised in what appears to be the largest credential heist ever. But experts have two words for you: Don’t panic. While 1.2 billion purloined credentials sounds scary, security experts who gathered in Las Vegas for the annual Black Hat hacker conference this week say that there’s little cause for concern.

Facebook also uses PhotoDNA to prowl for illicit images – Google and Microsoft have both recently tipped off the police to illegal materials in users’ accounts. Facebook has confirmed that it also keeps an eye on users’ images, so to speak, in order to scan for “explicit photos of children.” This is done using PhotoDNA.

8 essential apps for back to school – These apps will help you with classwork, homework, and studying, and also keep you in touch with the world outside of school activities. Now all you need to remember to do is use them.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Two alternate ways to install apps on an Android device – Quick…how do you install apps on your smartphone or tablet? If you said “From the Google Play Store”, you are correct. Next question — “How do you easily install previously installed apps on a new phone?” A bit tricker to answer, eh? Thankfully, it’s not a tricky riddle to solve. With the Android platform, you have numerous ways of installing apps. I want to illustrate two different ways to install apps you may not have known about. These “alternative” methods of app installation will save you a lot of time and effort.

Enter Sexfit, the Unmentionable Wearable – It was only a matter of time before some enterprising young thinker took a look at the growing world of smartwatches, fitness trackers, and other such digital bands and thought, “Hey, I bet I know where we could put one of these!” Enter the “SexFit.” It’s a device for men designed with the same kind of performance-tracking capabilities as those other wearables, only it’s worn on, well, not on the wrist anyway. Yep, the SexFit is basically a c*** ring with a computer chip.

Five high-quality Android voice recorders – If you are a frequent flyer of the on-the-go business set, you know having the right tools to do your job is a make or break deal. The ability to quickly and easily record voice memos falls into that must-have category for many. Even though Android does have a built-in voice recorder, it’s not always the best tool for the job. If you do a search of voice recording apps, you’ll come up with a large number of results. So I’ve narrowed the list to five outstanding apps that will help you record and organize your memos, meetings, and notes.

How to get photos from your digital camera to Instagram in 3 easy steps – The best photos on Instagram weren’t taken with a smartphone. Make your account stand out by learning how to get photos from your DSLR or point-and-shoot onto Instagram in no time.

Cyber Dust review: Mark Cuban’s private messaging app is just too inconvenient – The latest super-secret texting app has some interesting features, but lacks anything compelling to set it apart from a crowded field.

NFL Now video app launches across mobile, TV boxes – The league launched new NFL Now apps for mobile and TV Wednesday, which include video and news broadcasts from the company’s NFL Network. The apps stream team news, features, game highlights, and other custom programming. While the apps are free, getting to any of the content requires creating an NFL.com account. From there you can choose a favorite team and prioritize the types of videos you want to watch.

Tour Colleges Online With Google Street View – Just in time for back-to-school season, the Web giant has added 36 new university campuses across the U.S. and Canada to Street View.

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Woman hospitalized with ‘Twitter psychosis’ – A woman was admitted to a psychiatric hospital after saying she believed that a famous actor was sending her coded messages via Twitter, according to a published research paper.

How to test the speed of your USB drives – You could sit in front of your PC with the stopwatch and time how long it takes to move a 100MB file from an internal drive to an external one. But that’s tedious, prone to errors and not that accurate. It’s better to use benchmarking software, even though that isn’t perfect, either. Every test designed for benchmarking is going to show some biases of its designer—big files versus small files, reading vs. writing, and so on. But any good program will still tell you what drives are faster than others. With that in mind, here are three free programs I recommend.

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USB Flash Benchmark is not only free; it’s also portable—you don’t need to install it to use it.

swivelCard paper USB connects to your special web page – swivelCard is a business card with a USB chip but, unlike similar contraptions you might have seen in the past, this one is made out of paper just like a regular business card. Yes, paper. If that weren’t special, or strange, enough, this business card is meant to be used more than a business card but less than a USB drive. You basically hand it out to people, customers, or perspective clients and ask them to plug it into their computers daily, from time to time, or even just once, with the promise of a customized or always changing updates related to their interests or to your product.

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3 tools to schedule your social media posts – With these tools you can keep your tweets and status updates flowing even when you’re stuck in your third meeting of the day. Just remember a couple of golden rules when it comes to scheduling posts: Don’t schedule everything, be prepared to engage when your scheduled posts go live, and stay on top of current events and trending topics.

The best times to post on social media: 4 tips – They say timing is everything. On social media, it can make all the difference. You don’t have to look far to find study after study discussing the best times to post on various social media platforms. There’s a lot of info out there, and some of it conflicts. Here are four points to get you started.

Meet Sproutling, the smart baby monitor that learns your kid’s sleeping patterns – All a video monitor or audio monitor can really tell you is if your kid is awake—and even that is kind of a stretch. In reality, it’s closer to “Is my kid making noise?” But parents want to know a lot more than that. A new smart baby monitor from Sproutling can not only clue you in about your baby’s temperature, heart rate, and sleeping position, but also learn the baby’s unique patterns, helping you more easily attune to her own individual needs.

How to opt out of interest-based ads on your Android phone – Jack Wallen shows you how to opt out of interest-based advertising on your Android device to improve anonymity on your smartphone or tablet.

Security:

Chip and PIN Cards More Secure Than Swipe Cards, Also Pretty Awful – To our U.S. readers, paying with a credit card means swiping a magnetic strip. But for people in much of Europe and other countries, it means inserting your chip card into a reader and entering your PIN. This so-called chip and PIN solution has long been touted as far superior to the American swipe, and in most ways it is. But there are some serious issues with how the scheme has been implemented.

Microsoft to release an updated malicious software removal tool with Patch Tuesday – On the second Tuesday of every month, Microsoft releases patches for all of its software platforms. The day, commonly referred to as ‘Patch Tuesday,’ arrives next week and this time around there will be 9 updates in total with two of them being rated critical. Along with the patches, Microsoft will push out an updated version of the Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool tool; nothing else was said about what the update to the tool will include.

Yahoo To Strengthen Email Encryption – Yahoo will join Google in providing users of its email service with end-to-end encryption, helping to keep the private communications of people protected from the prying eyes of governments and hackers alike. The company made the announcement on stage at the Black Hat security conference earlier today.

In major shift, Google boosts search rankings of HTTPS-protected sites – Sites that properly implement the transport layer security (TLS) protocol may be ranked higher in search results than those that transmit in plaintext, company officials said in a blog post published Wednesday. The move is designed to motivate sites to use HTTPS protections across a wider swath of pages rather than only on login pages or not at all. Sites that continue to deliver pages over unprotected HTTP could see their search ranking usurped by competitors that offer HTTPS. Facebook is also getting more serious about encryption, with plans to acquire PrivateCore, a company that develops encryption software to protect and validate data stored on servers.

Consumer Reports drops the ball on airport Wi-Fi – An article by Consumer Reports called “Free Wi-Fi takes off at airports” is an opportunity missed. It says nothing about security as if there were no dangers to using public wireless networks.

Critical WordPress plugin bug affects hundreds of thousands of sites – Hundreds of thousands of websites running a popular WordPress plugin are at risk of hacks that give attackers full administrative control, a security firm warned Thursday. The vulnerability affects Custom Contacts Form, a plugin with more than 621,000 downloads, according to a blog post by researchers from Sucuri. It allows attackers to take unauthorized control of vulnerable websites. It stems from a bug affecting a function known as adminInit(). Hackers can exploit it to create new administrative users or modify database contents.

Company News:

Windows Phone Store passes 300,000 apps; sees growth of 94% inside a year – Late last night Microsoft confirmed on its by the Numbers webpage that the Windows Phone Store is now host to over 300,000 apps. This marks an accelerated growth for the ecosystem, now considered to be the third largest in the world (at 3.4%) behind Android (52.1%) and iOS (41.3%), and it only took around six months to get there from the 200,000 clocked in December 2013, up from 100,000 in June 2012. According to Microsoft, the latest number of approved Store apps was calculated till the end of June 2014.

Samsung still tops in US smartphone market; Apple takes second – Samsung snagged 36.1 percent of smartphone shipments in the second quarter, compared with 29.7 percent for Apple, new data from Counterpoint Research shows.

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Counterpoint Research

Dial-Up Still a Cash Cow for AOL – A big chunk of people still pay AOL for dial-up, and they’re contributing a not-so-inconsequential amount to the company’s profits. AOL still had some 2.34 million dial-up subscribers as of the second quarter of 2014, according to the company. That figure is down 9 percent from the same time period last year (where the company had approximately 2.58 million subscribers), but it’s only a 3 percent decline from last quarter’s 2.42 million subscribers.

Nvidia reports strong quarter as Tegra sales grow 200 percent – Nvidia’s second-quarter results exceeded analyst expectations, as the company’s core GeForce GPUs propelled growth. The company’s emerging Tegra business grew 200 percent.

Netflix surpasses HBO in subscriber revenue – Netflix has surpassed HBO in subscriber revenue, according to a status update from Netflix CEO Reed Hastings on Wednesday. The company is now pulling in $1.146 billion compared to HBO’s $1.141 billion, and it boasts 50.05 million subscribers, according to its second-quarter earnings reported in July. Netflix has long seen HBO as a competitor in terms of audience and, more recently, in produced content. While HBO has slowly started to come down from the ivory cable tower and be more flexible about how it offers its subscriptions, Netflix has been making gains.

Games and Entertainment:

Peter Molyneux’s Godus Comes to iPhone and iPad – Game designer Peter Molyneux has become an icon in the game industry for creating titles like Dungeon Keeper, Black and White, and Fable. Now his new project, a god simulator called Godus, has arrived on iPhone and iPad. You must take the fate of a tiny digital civilization into your hands and guide them onward to a prosperous future, but only if you’re clever.

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Xbox One Digital TV Tuner brings Europeans free-to-air shows – Xbox One owners in Europe will soon be able to add a digital TV tuner to their console, controlling their viewing by voice and enjoying free-to-air content. The new Xbox One Digital TV Tuner is a compact adapter that plugs into one of the Xbox One’s USB ports and then to a regular TV antenna, while a companion update to the OneGuide and the OneGuide on Xbox SmartGlass app brings control to both the TV and to your phone or tablet.

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Twitch starts scanning for copyrighted audio, silences own videos for infringment – The game streaming giant also changed up the rules for archives, eliminating the ability to archive full-length streams for longer than sixty days.

The Sun Also Rises is a game that shows a different side of war – Joining the growing ranks of indie games offering more thoughtful takes on war, The Sun Also Rises hopes to show the very human impact of the Global War on Terror.

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Unreleased Duke Nukem source code found at Library of Congress – A cache of recently acquired video games at the Library of Congress turned up a true find: the source code for unreleased PSP game Duke Nukem: Critical Mass.

Off Topic (Sort of):

This is the incredible car Bugatti built to honor its founder – When it’s time to build one final model for a super-exclusive series of already rarefied cars, and bearing the name of your esteemed company founder no less, you have to go big or don’t go there at all, which probably explains why Bugatti’s latest Veyron costs $3.14m. Sixth and arguably most-special car in the “Les Légendes de Bugatti” line-up, the last car is being dedicated to Ettore Bugatti with the sort of excesses the company he created is now known for.

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Microsoft partners with iFixit to teach people to repair devices – Currently, there are many companies that offer services to repair or recycle their devices. Many of these services do nothing more than an average consumer (with a little know how) could. In an attempt to revive the PC repair business, Microsoft been working with iFixit over the past year to provide free training on how to repair cell phones, PCs, and tablets for people that are starting a repair business.

6 job search ‘hacks’ that will get you hired – In a tight IT employment market, landing a job isn’t easy regardless of how well-qualified you are. However, there is way you can gain an advantage. These six job search ‘hacks’ can give you a competitive edge on other candidates and put you on your way to a great career move.

Watch this: Robot assembles itself, then crawls away – Robots are typically very complicated devices, full of parts that need a long assembly time and a myriad of hands working on them. A new concept may change that, as researchers at Harvard and MIT have been working on a robot that builds itself. Like a Transformer lying in wait, this one can morph into a new shape.

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Something to think about:

“That is the greatest fallacy, the wisdom of old men. They do not grow wise. They grow careful.”

-    Ernest Hemingway

Today’s Free Downloads:

W8 Sidebar – W8 Sidebar is a free standalone(portable) software that includes several useful components which allow you to monitor your PC right from the desktop.

Features:

W8 Task Scheduler – Lets you create an unlimited number of tasks as desired (i.e. once, daily, weekly, monthly).

W8 Searcher – Allows you to find any personal file in your computer very fast, usually under 2 seconds, depending on the number of files that you have.

W8 Cleaner – Will help you clean your computer of temporary files and other junk files left after installing or running programs.

W8 Auto Shutdown – Allows you to program the computer shuts down, restart, stand by, log off or hibernate it at a predetermined time.

W8 Computer Performance – Offers information about your system boot time, restart time, start up programs and installed software.

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Macrium Reflect FREE Edition – With Macrium Reflect Free Edition you’ll be able to easily make an accurate and reliable image of your HDD or individual partitions. Using this image you can restore the entire disk, partition or individual files and folders in the event of a partial or complete system loss.

File Backup:

Create a single backup file of one or more folders on your hard disk

Incremental and Differential backups.

Include and exclude filter ensures that you only backup relevant files.

Browse the backup file as a virtual FAT32 hard drive in Windows Explorer.

Files in use by Windows (such as Outlook .pst files) are backed up even when locked!

Multiple compression levels.

Backup files can be saved to local or network drives or optical storage (CD, DVD)

Optionally exclude system and hidden files.

Supports Incremental and Differential backups.

Password protect backups to prevent unauthorized access.

Restore specific files or the entire backup.

Restore to any location.

Disk Imaging:

Create a single backup file of a complete hard disk

Create a single backup file of one or many partitions

Incremental and differential images

Restore a partition to a different type. e.g. a logical partition can be restored as a bootable primary partition

Resize the restored partition. A hard disk upgrade can easily be performed by increasing the partition to fill the new disk.

Track 0 (The Master Boot Record) is saved with all backups.

Backup files can be saved to local or network drives or optical storage (CD, DVD).

Disk image can be created whilst Windows is in use. A special driver ensures that the disk image represents an exact point in time and will not be affected by disk access that may occur during the backup process.

Verify images. Images (Backup files) can be separately verified or automatically verified before restore.

System files such as ‘pagefile.sys’ and ‘hiberfil.sys’ are not included in the image. This reduces the final backup file size.

Three compression levels can be selected to optimize between file size and speed.

Password protect images to prevent unauthorized access.

AES 256 bit encryption for ultimate security.

Set image filenames automatically.

Linux based rescue CD

Bart PE rescue CD plug-in

Windows PE 2.1 rescue CD with Windows boot menu.

Save your backup definitions as XML files and execute them with a single click from your desktop.

Includes VBScript integration and a VBScript generator for unparalleled control of the backup process.

Scheduling Features:

Schedule daily, weekly or monthly.

Unattended completion.

Automatic incremental / differential images.

Automatic disk space management for local / remote hard drives.

Full logging of all backup operations. HTML log reports are generated and can be viewed using Reflect’s built in browser.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Leaked Files: German Spy Company Helped Bahrain Hack Arab Spring Protesters – A notorious surveillance technology company that helps governments around the world spy on their citizens sold software to Bahrain during that country’s brutal response to the Arab Spring movement, according to leaked internal documents posted this week on the internet.

The documents show that FinFisher, a German surveillance company, helped Bahrain install spyware on 77 computers, including those belonging to human rights lawyers and a now-jailed opposition leader, between 2010 and 2012—a period that includes Bahrain’s crackdown on pro-democracy protesters. FinFisher’s software gives remote spies total access to compromised computers. Some of the computers that were spied on appear to have been located in the United States and United Kingdom, according to a report from Bahrain Watch.

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A screengrab from leaked FinFisher data appears to show surveillance targets of the Bahraini government

Earlier this week, an anonymous hacker released 40 gigabytes of what appears to be internal data from FinFisher on Twitter and Reddit, including messages between people who appear to be Bahraini government officials and FinFisher customer service representatives.

In those messages, Bahraini software administrators complained to FinFisher that they were “losing targets daily” due to faults in its software. In one message employing the language of a frustrated consumer, a spy appeared to complain that he or she had to keep re-infecting a targeted computer, risking detection: “[W]e cant stay bugging and infecting the target every time since it is very sensitive. and we don’t want the target to reach to know that someone is infecting his PC or spying on him” one message reads.

The US Intelligence Community has a Third Leaker – Ever since The Intercept published this story about the US government’s Terrorist Screening Database, the press has been writing about a “second leaker”:

The Intercept article focuses on the growth in U.S. government databases of known or suspected terrorist names during the Obama administration.

The article cites documents prepared by the National Counterterrorism Center dated August 2013, which is after Snowden left the United States to avoid criminal charges.

Greenwald has suggested there was another leaker. In July, he said on Twitter “it seems clear at this point” that there was another.

Everyone’s miscounting. This is the third leaker:

Leaker #1: Edward Snowden.

Leaker #2: The person that is passing secrets to Jake Appelbaum, Laura Poitras and others in Germany: the Angela Merkel surveillance story, the TAO catalog, the X-KEYSCORE rules. My guess is that this is either an NSA employee or contractor working in Germany, or someone from German intelligence who has access to NSA documents. Snowden has said that he is not the source for the Merkel story, and Greenwald has confirmed that the Snowden documents are not the source for the X-KEYSCORE rules. I have also heard privately that the NSA knows that this is a second leaker.

Leaker #3: This new leaker, with access to a different stream of information (the NTSC is not the NSA), who The Intercept calls “a source in the intelligence community.”

Snowden granted three-year stay in Russia – National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden has been granted permission to stay in Russia for three more years, his lawyer said Thursday.

Snowden’s temporary asylum expired on August 1, but it has been extended via a three-year residency permit. Snowden, who faces espionage charges in the US, fled to Russia in June 2013, two weeks after his first leak appeared in the Guardian.

The leaker’s lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, told a news conference Thursday that Snowden had a tech-related job, was learning Russian, and had private body guards. Kucherena said Snowden was living from donations and his meager wages, and he had not accepted housing or protection from the Russian government.

Can We Fight Government-Sponsored Malware? – Security guru Mikko Hypponen pulled out of the RSA Conference earlier this year to protest the fact that a flaw in the RSA encryption algorithm let the NSA break into encrypted files. Either they did it deliberately, or it was an accident. Evil, or inept? It’s bad either way. At the Black Hat 2014 conference in Las Vegas, Hypponen expanded on what we can expect when governments get into the malware-writing business.

Hypponen led with a small history lesson. “It’s a common misconception,” he said, “that if a company is hacked badly enough, they’ll go bankrupt. But it’s not so. Most large organizations recover quickly. Think of the Sony PSN breach.” He went on to point out one notable exception. In 2011, Dutch firm Diginotar got breached by an outside attacker that used the company’s certificate generation system to generate fake certificates for Google, Mozilla, Microsoft, Twitter, and more.

“This attack was used by the Iranian government to monitor and find dissidents in their own country,” said Hypponen. “An attack like this is doable if you control the whole network of your country. Diginotar didn’t fold because they were hacked; they folded because they didn’t tell anyone. When it came out, they lost trust, and as a certificate vendor trust is what they were selling.”

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2 Comments

Filed under Free Software Downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Latest Tech News

2 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – August 8, 2014

  1. Fred

    Hi Bill,
    This is hilarious:
    “Yahoo To Strengthen Email Encryption – Yahoo will join Google in providing users of its email service with end-to-end encryption, helping to keep the private communications of people protected from the prying eyes of governments and hackers alike.”

    While they READ our emails and scan our personal photos.
    I notice here in the USA that when .gov wants to erode more of our dwindling freedoms they always frame it as “for the children” and while we all are OUTRAGED by children being hurt in any way one must ask ISN’T there a less intrusive method to arrest these evil people who bother children without BIG BROTHER? And now BIG PRIVATE BROTHER?
    The FBI has been good at getting these degenerates in the past why this? Sounds like the old Reichstag Fire trick to me.
    “We now live in a nation where doctors destroy health, lawyers destroy justice, universities destroy knowledge, governments destroy freedom, the press destroys information, religion destroys morals, and our banks destroy the economy.”
    Christopher Hedges, Pulitzer Prize Winning American Journalist
    I hope you have a great weekend Bill,
    Fred

    • Hi Fred,

      Given any number of recent examples, Hedges position that “We now live in a nation where doctors destroy health, lawyers destroy justice, universities destroy knowledge, governments destroy freedom, the press destroys information, religion destroys morals, and our banks destroy the economy.” – sadly, rings true.

      I’ve previously written, or commented on that old canard “you’re either with us, or you’re with the child pornographers” – the old standby rolled out by governments worldwide to excuse another intrusion on privacy rights. It works, because it appeals to emotion – and facts (facts which more than suggest continued intrusions of this type are unwarranted), are simply ignored. People are afraid to speak out in the fear of being diminished somehow by their objection to being manipulated by those who use shame and revulsion as a marketing tool in their never ending attempts at population control.

      Best,

      Bill

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