Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 29, 2013

PRISM revelations result in lost business for US cloud companies – According to a recent survey by the industry organization Cloud Security Alliance (CSA), the exposure of NSA’s PRISM program is having a very real impact on the bottom line of US cloud service providers in the form of lost overseas customers.

Tech firms squirm over their role in Prism surveillance – The disclosures about the National Security Agency’s massive global surveillance by Edward Snowden, the former information-technology contractor who’s now wanted by the U.S. government for treason, is hitting the U.S. high-tech industry hard as it tries to explain its involvement in the NSA data-collection program. (Explain what? Perhaps, explain why (in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave), not a single company individual (or collective individuals), had either the physical or emotional courage to stand up to what was clearly illegal and immoral activity. Better yet – don’t explain. I’ll wait for the mythical Hollywood movie version.)

Judge denies government’s bid to delay lawsuit to halt NSA metadata collection – A federal judge has denied the government’s request to delay what could turn out to be a major landmark case (ACLU v. Clapper) on the legality of the National Security Agency’s (NSA) mass metadata collection program. In a complaint filed last month, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) asked a judge to declare Verizon’s ongoing metadata collection and sharing to the NSA unconstitutional.

Scan, track, and control how apps access your personal data – That app is called Online Privacy Shield, and it’s a must-have for anyone seriously concerned about the privacy of their information. With a few taps, you’ll know who has access to the information you share on various social networking sites. With a few more taps, you can revoke that permission. It’s simple to use, effective, and ready to serve.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

PornMD breaks down the world’s porn searches by keyword and region – The chart is easy to use. All you have to do is choose a region of the world from the top selection, and a map of that region will invoke. A list of the top ten most searched for porn keywords will be displayed for that larger region. If you hover your mouse of any of the regions within the overall area you selected — such as states or countries, depending on the landmass — you’ll get a breakdown of what the top ten most searched for porn keywords are for the smaller area. Be warned, some of the words are not safe for work.

Twitter to simplify the reporting of abusive tweets, after outcry over rape threats – Following outrage in the U.K. over tweets containing threats of rape, the company says a feature designed to make it easier to report abusive tweets when using Twitter on the iPhone will be coming to other platforms.

The sounds of a sick PC: Listen to the noises that could mean bad news – Have you listened to your PC lately? I mean, really listened? If you’re lucky, your PC doesn’t have much to say. But if yours sounds like a box of pots and pans falling down a flight of wooden stairs or a helicopter trying desperately to take off, chances are good that it has a problem. We’ve gathered some of the noises worth worrying about: Just click the audio links in this article to hear a fan on the fritz, for example, or a hard drive headed for disaster.

Bitdefender Safepay offers secure browsing for online banking, shopping – Bitdefender has released a Windows application designed to help users secure sensitive Web-browsing sessions, especially when they shop or bank online. The application is called Safepay and a free version is available to home users.

11 free mobile apps for city life – City dwellers face challenges every day of their lives: Which subway lines are working, whether or not it’s worth trying to hail a cab at this corner and where the best ramen shop in the neighborhood might be hiding. A good app can make urban life a lot easier. We’ve sifted through a wealth of mobile apps out there to see which ones can best help you find transportation, food, housing and local events in your city, and found 11 useful ones — all free.

Hover Zoom – Hover Zoom is one of the best and most useful browser plugins in existence…provided you use the Chrome browser, as it is not available for anything else. It allows you to move your mouse over a small picture and instantly magnify it, without clicking or opening anything. This free extension from Romain Vallet works on many popular sites, including Facebook, Flickr, Reddit, and Twitter.

Ubuntu Unity empowers small businesses with powerful searching and easy configuration – If your small business is worrying about transitioning from Windows 7 to Windows 8, Jack Wallen proposes going with a completely different option: Ubuntu Unity.

Progress! An app that sends a breakup text for you – BreakUp Text is an app that does the dirty work for you. Because, well, why bother telling your lover sayonara yourself? Who needs the grief?

New app could curb underage drinking by spotting fake IDs – The barZapp app lets users scan licenses from every U.S. state as well as the Canadian provinces with an iPhone.

Seven reasons to buy the new Nexus 7 – After reading about Google’s new tablet, I decided there was more than enough in this to preorder my own.


Stanford University hacked, becomes latest data breach victim – Yet more passwords need changing, as America’s prestigious Stanford University joins the long line of recent data breach victims. Although specific details remain scarce, an announcement from the university authorities urges all users, which may include staff and alumni as well as students, to ensure their details are checked and updated ASAP.

SMS spam intensifies, ranging from pesky to perilous – As the summer heated up, SMS spam related to warm weather began to clog texting channels, according to Cloudmark’s Global Messaging Threat Report for the year’s second calendar quarter.

Man gets ransomware porn pop-up, goes to cops, gets arrested on child porn charges – A man from just outside of Washington, DC turned himself in to local police—with his computer in tow—after receiving a pop-up message from what he believed was an “FBI Warning” telling him to click to pay a fine online, or face an investigation. While specific details on the case are scant as of yet, it appears that the suspect here fell victim to a type of ransomware that has been proliferating for years now—raking in millions for the scammers behind it.

Apple restores key parts of dev site after attack – Apple has restored key sections of its developer website, including the download center, more than a week after it took the portal offline.

LinkedIn closes OAuth hole that could have let people tinker with your CV – A software developer identified by The Register as Richard Mitchell, based in the UK, earlier this week blogged about discovering that LinkedIn’s help site handed out private OAuth tokens for logged-in users. These supposedly secret OAuth tokens can be used to impersonate LinkedIn users and potentially get at their profile information via APIs.

Remembering Barnaby Jack – It’s said that each man’s death diminishes us all in some way. But some passings take a bigger piece than others. The death of Barnaby Jack is one of those, having left a major hole in the security community and let a lot of air out of the room.

16 Years of Black Hat: The Changing Face of Cyberattacks – This year marks the 16th anniversary of Black Hat, and to celebrate the security company Venafi released a report chronicling nearly two decades of cyberattacks. More than just a parade of malicious accomplishment, the Venafi report tells a remarkable story about the changing motivations and techniques of cyberattacks, and what it means for the future.

Company News:

Twitter Posts $55K of Promoted Tweets to Help Avoid Payroll Taxes – Here’s the gist: Twitter, headquartered in San Francisco, was considering moving its operations to nearby Brisbane a few years ago unless it received special exemption from the city to skirt a city payroll tax. The tax, a 1.5 percent fee on total employee compensation levied against companies with payroll greater than $250,000, included salaries, bonuses, and exercised stock options — and could have cost Twitter north of $20 million dollars over six years.

Oracle files lawsuit against companies offering illegal tech support – Oracle has filed a lawsuit in the US District Court for the Northern District of California against two IT service providers, Maintech and Terix. According to the lawsuit, the two companies have provided illegal support for Oracle’s Solaris OS software, having encouraged customers to cancel their Oracle support subscriptions.

Apple’s Smartphone Market Share Slips – Apple’s share of the global smartphone market fell during the second quarter to its lowest level in four years, according to data released Friday.

Google to Glass Developers: Start Developing on Android SDK – Chomping at the bit to design your own Google Glass app? You’ll have to wait a little bit longer to get your hands on Google’s to-be-released Glass Development Kit (GDK), a software toolkit that will officially (and finally) allow developers to build apps that can run directly on Glass itself.

Games and Entertainment:

The best games of the year so far – These are the titles that we would recommend without reservation to anyone looking for something new to distract them from their dull and pointless lives. Check out the video for some sample gameplay, then read about what makes each game worthwhile below.

New Elysium clip online: robot firefight – There’s a new clip from upcoming sci-fi actioner Elysium. Matt Damon battles robot minions in his exoskeletal robot gear. Fair match. Can’t wait for August 9th release date to come around!

PS4 games will use 5.5GB of RAM out of 8GB, but there’s a catch – According to the report, the PS4 will allow games to work with 5.5GB of RAM. Furthermore, the operating system will have a dedicated 3.5GB of RAM. Yes, that would total 9GB. The breakdown is such that the OS will have 3.5GB of dedicated RAM, games will have 4.5GB dedicated, but games will be able to take 1GB from the OS when necessary, raising it to that 5.5GB figure.

The 30 Best iPhone Games – From casual match-three games to trivia to intense first-person shooters, check out our 30 best games for Apple’s iPhone.

Off Topic (Sort of):

So you call yourself a geek? – The NSA surveillance scandal and the passing of hacker Barnaby Jack are both reminders that the label “geek” has been hijacked by vast dull herds of consumer wannabes.

Terms and Conditions: A movie about privacy policies you’ll actually want to watch – The documentary, released last week, will particularly interest your smart (but less tech-savvy) friends who shrug at things like the most recent NSA metadata surveillance scandal. American technology law and policy can often feel too niche, despite the fact that the issues in question apply in some way to nearly everyone on the Internet, as American companies are so dominant online. But this film might just be the most fun and accessible way to learn about what’s been happening to all of us, online, over the last 15 years.

Astronaut controls robot on Earth from the ISS – An astronaut aboard the International Space Station used an extraterrestrial remote control system on Friday to maneuver a robot rover at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley. In the test, Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano used the rover to deploy a simulated radio telescope antenna on the Ames Roverscape, a sandy and rocky simulation of the lunar landscape that’s about the size of a football field.

Supertoy Teddy: a WiFi enabled natural talking teddy bear – If you’re one of the many who experience the first generation Furby toys in your childhood, you can stop cringing now. Supertoy Teddy is an attempt at Siri-style natural language communication inside a WiFi-enabled teddy bear.

Dad’s perfect gift for son: A 737 cockpit simulator in his bedroom – Laurent Aigon knew exactly what his kid wanted. So, despite not being a pilot himself — nor an engineer — he orders the parts online and begins to build.

Extreme Reality turns skeletons into biometric signatures – The software technology captures full-body 3D motion using a 2D camera to recognize an individual’s gait as a unique biometric signature.

Something to think about:

Usually, terrible things that are done with the excuse that progress requires them are not really progress at all, but just terrible things.”

–     Russell Baker

Today’s Free Downloads:

Identity Finder Home Edition 6.3.2 – Social security numbers, credit cards, bank accounts, passwords, and other highly sensitive personal information are sitting idly on your computer leaving you and your family exposed to identity theft. You may not be able to find all the places it’s hidden, but hackers and thieves know where to look. Identity Finder goes deep, searching the computer to locate and secure potentially dangerous data – even when you don’t know it exists.

AutoHotkey – Automate almost anything: Send keystrokes & mouse clicks; launch programs / documents; work with the clipboard, registry, & soundcard settings. In addition to its automation features described below, AutoHotkey excels at hotkeys, able to make virtually any mouse/joystick button, keyboard key, or combination into a hotkey.

Foxit Reader – Foxit Reader is designed for a broad spectrum of users including enterprise and government organizations. Foxit Reader is fully customizable to meet any organization business objective and its small footprint makes it easy to deploy. It is also packed with features not available in competitor’s products. Foxit Foxit Reader’s small footprint makes easy to update and maintain.


Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

6 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – July 29, 2013

  1. Charlie

    Hi Bill:
    Re: Bitdefender Safepay
    Are you going to continue doing your banking with a live CD, or do you think Safepay will be as safe?

    • Hi Charlie,

      Yep, gonna stick with my Puppy Linux Live CD. The point being of course, that all data is held resident in memory and no data is either written to, or read from, the HD – unless the application is configured to save to the HD.

      In practice, I always make the assumption that my machine has already been compromised. In a typical week, 100+ newly discovered vulnerabilities in applications, and occasionally in firmware, cross my desk. So yeah, Puppy Linux it is.

      Hope all is well with you Charlie.



  2. Re: “New app could curb underage drinking by spotting fake IDs”
    When I saw the headline, my first thought was, “I wonder what they do with the information/what their privacy policy is.”
    While I’m sure most people wouldn’t mind a bar checking the validity of their ID, many likely wouldn’t want their information retained indefinitely or available to other companies. Who knows if they sell the information to other companies, or what other uses the data is used for (could police access the info to find out who was in a bar at a certain time/date?).
    It’s too bad that technology that helps us solve one problem or another usually comes at the price of our privacy.

    • Hey Aseem,

      Funny that – my thoughts exactly.

      As you well know – if there’s a buck or two to be made with this data, that’s precisely what will happen. What if it became standard policy in all bars to scan all licenses? Given what we’ve discovered recently, NOTHING in terms of privacy abuse, would surprise me in the least. And, your cop query couldn’t be more real. Sigh.



  3. Keith in KY

    Identity Finder is a great little program! I used it a few years ago and even though I keep my computer very clean, it found some of my CC’s still on my computer and I was able to delete the info. Great for getting your private data off your computer!