Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 8, 2013

Essential free software; 5 Wi-Fi security myths; How to Test Your Wireless Performance; Demystifying cybercrime; BlackBerry accused of false claims; HBO Shows Now on Google Play;  FIFA 14 brings the realism; Brazil determined to stop NSA spying. 

Essential free software you can’t afford to miss – Free doesn’t have to mean cheesy, especially when it comes to freeware. A developer’s passion project can become something you can’t imagine being without, and the fact that you don’t have to lay out any cash to acquire it is a major bonus. Some developers accept donations to further development, so consider giving what you can if you find value in their efforts. Here are some of our favorite freebies.

5 Wi-Fi security myths you must abandon now – Wi-Fi has evolved over the years, and so have the techniques for securing your wireless network. An Internet search could unearth information that’s outdated and no longer secure or relevant, or that’s simply a myth. We’ll separate the signal from the noise and show you the most current and effective means of securing your Wi-Fi network.

Wireless Witch: How to Test Your Wireless Performance – Slow Internet and network performance are annoying. However it’s hard to troubleshoot issues when you just feel that performance is slow. You’ve got to know the kind of performance you are getting in order to improve it. Let’s take a look at a few ways you can actually gage and monitor network performance.

Chrome OS will work inside Windows 8, turning your laptop into a Chromebook with a click – In a couple of months, you’ll be able to run Chrome OS right inside your Windows 8 computer. You won’t have to repartition your hard drive and set up a dual boot, however. You’ll just need to update Chrome and set it as your default web browser.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

A decidedly creepy story of how social media can impact your life – Contributing writer Donovan Colbert knows first-hand how ones social media presence can come back to bite you.

Webroot Delivers Next-Generation Consumer Protection and Enriched User Experience – Webroot’s latest release brings customers even better protection with new detection technology to block emerging malware and phishing attacks more quickly, a completely redesigned interface for easy monitoring and control. Other enhancements include web content filtering, an expanded management website, advanced user authentication, and integration of the Webroot Backup & Sync with the Microsoft Windows Explorer environment.

Actually, you do need to share your passwords – This is no small problem. When you’re gone, or have otherwise lost the ability to remember or communicate, loved ones will need access to your email, contacts, bank accounts, and more. Without your pre-planned help, this can be quite a challenge. If you don’t believe me, check out Google’s page for Accessing a deceased person’s mail.

CA launches free version of Nimsoft Monitor – Nimsoft Monitor Snap also includes dashboards, alarms, and best practices. The software, built on the Nimsoft Monitor Release 7 code base, is also provided in English, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, and Brazilian Portuguese. For comparison purposes, Nimsoft Monitor Snap would compete with SolarWinds’ monitoring tools and Spiceworks.

CloudPhysics makes vSphere 5.5 upgrades safer, easier and faster – for free – VMware recently released a new version of its flagship product – VMware vSphere 5.5 – with loads of new features. But as we all know, software upgrades are prone to risks and careful planing is necessary especially when dealing with core infrastructure software. At CloudPhysics we have built some cool things to help you with this process. You can learn about them in this blog and they are completely free to try.

Use Windows Easy Transfer over a network to migrate from XP to Windows 8 – Move files and settings from Windows XP to a new Windows 8 computer using a network connection.

Monitor Your Kids With ‘Filip’ Gadget From AT&T – In an effort to help parents keep track of their children in a safe and subtle way, AT&T has signed on as the exclusive U.S. network provider of the Filip wearable wrist device. The kid-friendly, parent-approved bracelet keeps the lines of communication open at all times with location tracking, voice calling, and direct messaging.

Google, all major payment companies shun pay-to-remove mug shot sites – This mass revolt started when influential reporter David Segal called the search engine and the payment companies with a few simple questions last week. Their spectacularly unified response could drive the 80-plus pay-to-remove mug shot publishing operations into relative obscurity—much to the relief of the millions of people who have ever been arrested but not convicted of any crime.

Islamist rebels hunting down Dumbo the elephant – The shaky video has all the details you have come to expect from such footage, including masked men carrying big weapons and screaming all the usual “Allahu Akbars.” However, if you stick with it, you come to realize the enemy that the rebels are battling is not who you might expect.

Spoiler Shield app protects you from blabbermouth friends – This ingenious app filters your Facebook and/or Twitter feeds so you can stay social-media active while avoiding accidental spoilers. And it works with not only TV shows, but also NFL and MLB — nice for those who like to record games for later viewing.

Security:

Hosting provider LeaseWeb falls victim to DNS hijacking – The company believes attackers obtained domain administrator credentials and used them to change the domain’s DNS records at the registrar.

Router Flaw Could Disclose Sensitive Configuration, Password Information – Taiwanese electronics company Asus has released an update for one of its routers that corrects an authentication bypass vulnerability discovered in the devices over the summer.

Video (51:47): How the grid will be hacked – There is a never ending stream of vulnerabilities in the mechanical and cyber systems that support the grid. So, why hasn’t there been any significant breach of the grid? This video from DerbyCon focuses on who, what, when, where, and how it will happen.

National Computer Forensics Institute: Demystifying cybercrime – Knowing how to handle digital evidence and discovery correctly prevents costly mistakes. A federal facility in Birmingham, Alabama is working hard to improve that situation.

Party advertised on Facebook leads to 600 gatecrashers and one very trashed home – A £1 million ($1.6 million) London home has been redecorated with vomit-saturated furniture and other dubious items, all courtesy of 600 gatecrashers who showed up after a party was posted on Facebook with the toggle set to “public”.

Company News:

Adblock Plus Reveals Numbers Behind Ad Whitelisting Program For The First Time – There was a bit of a user uproar when it came to light that browser advertising blocking service Adblock Plus was actually providing some advertisers, like Google, the opportunity to show some ads despite installation of its software through a whitelist program. It seemed like a straight-up commercial play, with Adblock Plus acting as a gatekeeper for precious users and charging big ad companies like Google money to bypass its own restrictions.

Apple reportedly expanding iTunes Radio to UK by ‘early 2014’ – The music-discovery service is said to be branching out in the coming months, beating industry leader Pandora to a few English-speaking markets outside the US.

Cisco completes acquisition of cybersecurity firm Sourcefire – Cisco has announced the completion of the Sourcefire takeover, worth $2.7 billion.

What’s behind Origin PC’s decision to so publicly dump AMD video cards? – Given the timing, you have to wonder about Origin’s motivations. Indeed, it’s especially odd that a PC manufacturer would go out of its way to tell the press that it’s dropping support for a specific component manufacturer. This is not the kind of move that usually warrants a communication to journalists.

Amazon wins key ruling over IBM in CIA cloud contract battle – IBM seeks reopening of the bidding process for the $600 million contract, arguing that Amazon did not satisfy all the criteria for the contract.

BlackBerry accused of propping up stock with false claims – Shareholder lawsuit accuses the struggling handset maker of making false and misleading statements about the company’s financial health and the prospects for BlackBerry 10.

Games and Entertainment:

HBO Shows Now Available on Google Play – Ever wish you could have Game of Thrones in your pocket 24/7? Now you can. Several of the most popular HBO shows, including Game of Thrones, True Blood, and Boardwalk Empire made their debut today on Google Play, meaning those who don’t have HBO at home can now purchase the channel’s TV shows for viewing on their Android gadgets.

Clash of Clans Sets Up Camp in Google Play – The smash hit iOS game Clash of Clans has set up camp in Google Play, giving Android users to chance to manage their own primitive settlement and wage war against outsiders.

Review: FIFA 14 brings the realism – FIFA 14 is the result of a massive amount of tinkering. Instead of introducing any major features in this latest iteration of the soccer franchise, EA Sports has focused solely on making the gameplay more realistic. Expect grandfathers to sit down, thinking they’re watching Manchester United’s weekly game.

Xbox One Kinect won’t amass advertisement data on users, says Microsoft – Over the weekend, Microsoft’s Vice President of Marketing and Strategy Yusuf Mehdi spoke during a conference via the Association of National Advertisers. His speech, in which he touched on the subject of the Xbox One and advertising, lead to a report in Ad Age stating that the company’s gaming console is “like [a] TV that watches you,” amassing data for advertisers about users and what happens on their side of the screen. Microsoft denies this.

Off Topic (Sort of):

The roads to freemium: Turning downloaders into customers – With paid apps a tough sell and mobile advertising a slog, app makers are getting craftier at finding ways to to get paid.

Those Giant Fox News Touchscreens Are Microsoft Perceptive Pixel Displays Running Windows 8 – Huge iPads or tiny journalists? That’s the question that many are asking after Fox News released a video detailing a new set that includes a number of analysts sat before massive touch interfaces. The screens measure 55 inches, run Windows 8 (soon: Windows 8.1, presumably) and look damned futuristic. Secret Fox News hardware? Something that Samsung kicked together for the company? Nope.

As the digital revolution kills jobs, social unrest will rise – Gartner is forecasting some major changes in technology, especially in areas like 3D printing, machine learning and voice recognition. They are all powerful trends that will reduce the need for workers, and, as a consequence, bring social unrest, the analyst firm said.

The Internet Costs 30% Of Monthly Wages In Some Nations. Google Wants To Help – Internet access is astonishingly expensive in some parts of the world. The International Telecommunications Union estimates that fixed broadband costs 30 percent of the average monthly wage within the developing world [PDF]. To address this, Google, Facebook, USAID and a host of top-tier tech companies have teamed up to make the Internet universally affordable.

Surgeon suggests gaming a key to better real-life surgery – Virtual reality training can speed up laparoscopic surgery by 29% and reduce mistakes by a whopping 600%, according to a study cited by NVIDIA this week. The peer-reviewed study, which was published in “Annals of Surgery,” resonates with many other studies pointing to gaming as a way to improve motor skills, memory, mental processing speeds, pain management and other skills.

Something to think about:

People are more violently opposed to fur than leather because it’s safer to harass rich women than motorcycle gangs.”

–     Unknown

Today’s Free Downloads:

D7 10.1.39 – D7 is a tool for PC technicians to aid in many tasks and provide a uniform procedure for technicians to follow. Note that D7 is not the malware scanner or remover, YOU are. YOU control it’s behavior by whitelist/blacklist functionality, and by your own pair of hopefully good eyeballs. D7’s MalwareScan functionality is designed to show you what D7 doesn’t recognize, by whitelisting known good items, and automatically deleting known bad items. D7’s MalwareScan merely shows you what is left after the whitelisting/blacklisting is applied. From there, you have the option to whitelist, blacklist, delete, rename, ignore, google, or whatever you want with the results.

KeePassDroid 1.99.10 – KeePassDroid is an implementation of the KeePass Password Safe for Android.

NirLauncher 1.18.27 – NirLauncher is a package of more than 100 portable freeware utilities for Windows, all of them developed for NirSoft Web site during the last few years. (This package tends to set off many antivirus programs. This is a False Positive.)

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Brazil determined to stop NSA spying – Perhaps no country in the world has been as vocal about doing something about NSA’s global Internet surveillance reach as Brazil. The revelations that the US has been spying on a number of Latin American countries (including Brazil) in search for military, politic but also trade secrets have pushed the country’s leaders to the edge, and the disclosure that the NSA has intercepted phone calls and emails of the current Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff, her advisors, and the state-controlled Petroleo Brasileiro as well as Google Brazil, has pushed them over it.

The NSA Oversight Farce – This weekend we learned that President Barack Obama’s NSA surveillance panel, built at least in theory to vet our intelligence activities and weigh their performance against the right of privacy, went on hiatus after the government shutdown froze its funds. It was an emblematic moment. As a nation we couldn’t even keep the farce of oversight in play long enough to have it ultimately disappoint us.

How the NSA might use Hotmail, Yahoo or other cookies to identify Tor users – One of the more intriguing revelations in the most recent leak of NSA documents is the prospect that the spy agency is using browser cookies from Yahoo, Hotmail or the Google-owned DoubleClick ad network to decloak users of the Tor anonymity service.

Australia prepared briefing on US global internet spying program PRISM before Snowden revelations – Documents obtained under Freedom of Information laws show the Federal Government knew about the secret US internet spying program PRISM months before a whistleblower made details public. (suggested by Mal C.)

Canadian spies targeted Brazil’s Mines and Energy Ministry: report – The report on Globo television was based on documents leaked by former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden and was the latest showing that Latin America’s biggest country has been a target for U.S., British and now Canadian spy agencies.

German NSA has deal to tap ISPs at major Internet Exchange – The rough German equivalent of the National Security Agency has secret arrangements with local telecom firms, providing direct access to data flowing over domestic fiber. According to the German magazine Der Spiegel (Google Translate), the Federal Intelligence Service (known by its German acronym, BND) has taps on the major Internet exchange point in Frankfurt known as DE-CIX.

Add technologists to surveillance tech review panel, IT groups say – The letter from the 47 technologists also criticized the recently revealed NSA attempts to circumvent encryption technologies, saying the encryption exploitation program was “staggering news for technologists.”

Justice Dept. seeks delay in NSA surveillance case, citing gov’t shutdown – Yahoo may have to wait a little longer to fight its case in a secret Washington court, as the U.S. Justice Department struggles to find attorneys amid the government shutdown.

2 Comments

Filed under downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

2 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – October 8, 2013

  1. Hello Bill,
    Recommending Microsoft Security Essentials in the freeware recommendations isn’t really doing any one a favor when you consider the following: http://bob3160.blogspot.com/2013/10/microsoft-now-recommends-you-use-third.html
    The free version of avast! has kept my system secure for the past 10 years.and I’d consider that a pretty good record.