Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – June 30, 2012

SWAT team raids wrong home in open WiFi network cock-up – A heavily-armed police SWAT team broke down the door of a house in Evansville, Indiana, smashed windows and tossed a flashbang stun grenade into a living room.. all because of an unsecured WiFi connection. With a second suspect identified at a different house on the same street, police took a more softly-softly approach. This time not using a SWAT team or grenades, but instead using the tried-and-trusted traditional method of knocking on the door.

5 Great iPad Apps you don’t want to miss – There are so many good apps for the iPad that finding the gems can be a full-time job. To save yourself a lot of effort, these five apps are a good place to start for apps that may rock your world.

How do I clean up this slow machine and its misbehaving browser? – This is another of those questions that no one specifically asked (though it does come in frequently, in various forms). Rather, this is a scenario that I experienced myself earlier this week. A friend who has one of my older laptops on loan came to me and told me that it had become slow and that websites like Hotmail and Facebook had stopped working. Sometimes, it wouldn’t even connect to the network.

Stop tracking in its tracks – For this week’s Freeware Friday, check out some of our favorite tools to boost the privacy of your online experience and reduce leakage of sensitive information.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

New Wickr App Enables Secure, Self-Destructing Text Messages – Text messages are great, but they have the annoying property of being out of the sender’s control as soon as they’re sent. That’s resulted in all kinds of fun for the Internet, and it’s also presented a big opportunity for a security company to pick up the slack and impose some sanity and privacy on these communications. A new start-up called Wickr is aiming to do just that with a mobile app that enables users to send anonymous, encrypted texts, photos and videos that self-destruct after a set time period and leave no trace for snoops.

Why Most Consumers Don’t Read Terms of Service – When you sign up for a social media site or download an ebook from a website, do you read the terms of use agreement that pops up before you click the “Agree” button? Probably not. Though terms of service can be exhausting and cumbersome to read — the iTunes terms of service agreement is now around 55 pages long — but it is a contract, and not reading the fine print can be a big mistake.

Why Orbitz’ sneaky web tracking is your problem, too – Orbitz, the online travel site whose business model is built on the word “cheap,” says it treats you differently depending on whether you’re a Mac or a PC. That’s just the start of a privacy problem most people never think about.

The Generation Gap In Computer Security: An Insecure Gen Y – The broad adoption of digital media and social networking, combined with the increasing amount of sensitive data that is stored online, is making personal computer security more important than ever before. But do different generations understand this problem and protect their systems while online? Does the younger, more tech-savvy generation manage computer security more effectively, or do more mature individuals who are often more guarded with their personal data protect themselves better?


Apple’s Siri voiceprints raise privacy concerns – Most of us likely wouldn’t want Apple to store a copy of our DNA or our fingerprints, but that’s pretty much what it’s doing with another one of our biometric identifiers: namely, our voices.

12% of Fortune 500 infected with DNSChanger malware – IID announced that 12 percent of all Fortune 500 companies and four percent of “major” U.S. federal agencies are still infected with DNSChanger malware. These findings come less than two weeks before the July 9 deadline that requires the FBI to take down the temporary servers that enable millions of computers and routers infected with DNSChanger to still reach their intended Internet destinations.

Automated robbery: how card skimmers (still) steal millions from banks – Skimming has been a problem for decades, but it’s become increasingly common in the past five years—and it’s spreading. Tracie Gerstenberg, who does anti-skimming business development for ADT Business Solutions, said that while skimming was previously focused in large metro areas like “New York City, Chicago, southern California, and the entire state of Florida, really,” it has recently become prevalent in smaller suburban settings where people “aren’t as educated about skimming.” (recommended by Michael F.)

ADP spams lead to a nasty surprise – Watch out folks! Spams are making the rounds pretending to be from ADP, but lead you to the dreaded Blackhole exploit kit.

Online behavioral tracking often violates privacy practices – Keynote Systems announced the results of an in-depth analysis of online behavioral tracking on 269 Websites across four industries – News & Media, Financial Services, Travel & Hospitality and Retail. The analysis found that 86 percent of the sites place one or more third-party tracking cookies on their visitors. What’s more, 60 percent of these third-parties had at least one tracker that didn’t promise to comply with at least one common tracking standard.

Company News:

Samsung Galaxy Tab Ban the Latest Stumble on a Road to Success – The Galaxy Tab was banned from the United States, customers are still awaiting their Galaxy S III smartphones and low-end smartphones face new competition. Does it matter?

Intel introduces a pair of Core i3 Ivy Bridge mobile processors – Intel’s third-generation Core processors are popping up everywhere, and now they look set to conquer even more territory.

The Linux desktop, thanks to Chromebooks, goes retail – Thanks to Google and the Chromebook, the Linux desktop is getting its chance to make a retail come-back. At Google I/O , Google’s Senior VP of Chrome and Apps, Sundar Pichaihasm announced that Samsung’s Series 3 Chromebox and Series 5 Chromebook will soon be available in Best Buy stores in the US and Dixons in the UK.

Made in the U.S.A. – Google’s killer new feature? – The biggest revelation coming out of Google I/O wasn’t the Nexus 7 or the Nexus Q – it was the fact that Google’s manufacturing a gadget in the United States.

Webopedia Daily:

Vertical Cloud Computing – A vertical cloud, or vertical cloud computing, is the phrase used to describe the optimization of cloud computing and cloud services for a particular vertical (e.g., a specific industry) or specific use application. The cloud provider will offer specialized functions and options that best meet industry-use and specifications. Today, the vertical health-care cloud is one of the more well-established vertical clouds.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Why Orbitz’ sneaky web tracking is your problem, too – Orbitz, the online travel site whose business model is built on the word “cheap,” says it treats you differently depending on whether you’re a Mac or a PC. That’s just the start of a privacy problem most people never think about.

Spray-On Battery Can Turn Beer Mug Into Power Source – I take it back. The future is here. Rice University researchers have come up with a way to spray-paint a lithium-ion battery onto pretty much any smooth surface—even a beer stein.

Microsoft: The Evil Empire re-Surfaces – Microsoft seeks to demolish the 30-year-old industry that it worked so hard to create, and to return to its monopolist roots.

Steve Jobs Was Wrong – Google’s new Nexus 7 proves smaller tablets aren’t completely worthless. Jobs thought 7-inch tablets were too small. Apple’s user testing had revealed that “there are clear limits of how close you can physically place elements on a touchscreen before users cannot reliably tap, flick, or pinch them,” Jobs said. As a result, these tiny tablets would need to be sold with sandpaper, he predicted, “so that the user can sand down their fingers to around one-quarter of their present size.”

Who could — and probably should — buy RIM? – BlackBerry maker Research in Motion can stick around, split off and share its products, or sell off completely. Who could make a bid for its patents, its network or phone unit — or even the entire business?

Today’s Quote:

“One should as a rule respect public opinion in so far as is necessary to avoid starvation and to keep out of prison, but anything that goes beyond this is voluntary submission to an unnecessary tyranny, and is likely to interfere with happiness in all kinds of ways.”

–     Bertrand Russell

Today’s Free Downloads:

SlimBrowser – SlimBrowser is a fast and secure internet browser for Windows fully loaded with powerful features. It starts up quickly and opens web pages right in front of you with minimum delay. It is designed to let you browse the Internet carefree by guarding your personal information and protecting your privacy.

VLC media player 2.0.2 – VLC media player is a highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, mp3, ogg, …) as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols.


Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

10 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – June 30, 2012

  1. Albert Heureux

    This is a good example of the sorts of mischief made possible by an unsecured router but it is by no means the only way new technology can be exploited by criminals to complicate the job of Law Enforcement.  SWATTING is another – making a false report of a dangerous situation via a “spoofed” phone number in order to trigger a dramatic police response.  In THIS case, we can assume an impartial  judge reviewed the details in a search warrant affidavit and agreed there was legal justification for the raid based on the known facts, few of which were provided in the Sophos article. 

    • Hi Albert,

      Right you are in terms of technology exploitation.

      As for this particular case – no, I can’t agree. This is not an isolated example of the cowboy mentality of American law enforcement. Paramilitary policing is a growing concern (and, rightfully so) – not only in the US, but elsewhere.



  2. Pingback: Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – June 30, 2012 | Bill Mullins … | Top Internet Security

  3. John Bent

    Hi Bill,

    Re:”Why most Consumers Don’t Read Terms of Service”.

    There is a reference to EULAlyzer deep in the comments, but not everyone may have read that far, since most of us can’t even be bothered to read Ts and Cs.

    I know you did a review of EULAlyzer a while ago, because that’s what turned me on to it. Perhaps this might be a good time to revisit the subject? Although I’m sure you know perfectly well how to suck eggs :).

    Kind regards

    • Hi John,

      There’s good reason for a complex TOS given that we live in an era of “litigation at the drop of a hat.” Unfortunately, such documents present a golden opportunity for companies to conceal often onerous conditions sprinkled throughout, what is in effect, a legally binding contract.

      Most users fail to see the relationship between installing and using a software application, and the legal obligations that they take on as a result. Hardly surprising given the typical lack of engagement with a TOS.

      I like your suggestion to rerun the EULAlyzer article. Although, I suspect that a rerun will have the same effect as the original – that is – none. Sad really.