Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 13, 2014

Data on 110 million customers exposed, Target now says;  Target is not alone: Neiman Marcus and others hacked;  Oracle readies 147 security patches;  Dropbox problems linger;  DuckDuckGo’s Popularity Explodes;  Sexting teen convicted;  Avoid these common Facebook mistakes;  26 Fitness Trackers Ranked;  Important facts about Android antivirus;  Create a website the easy way;  The flat-out truth on curved TVs;  Yahoo: Malware attack bigger than thought;  Backdoor exposed in Cisco small business devices.

DuckDuckGo’s Popularity Exploded In 2013 Following The NSA/PRISM Leaks – See that graph up there? That’s a chart of how many queries the privacy-minded search engine DuckDuckGo has seen each day since early 2010. See that massive growth near the end? That’s when details of the NSA’s PRISM program first leaked. Pretty much overnight, DuckDuckGo more than doubled its traffic.

Dropbox problems linger after Friday outage – The file-sync company fixes some of its Friday service troubles, but it’s taking time to clear out troubles for people using the service, and photo sharing is disabled.

How to prevent strangers on Google+ from flooding your Gmail inbox – A new feature rolling out over the next couple of days makes it possible for any Google+ user to email you, as long as they follow you on Google+—they don’t need to know your actual email address, and you don’t even have to follow them back. And to make it even worse, Google took the Facebook approach by turning on the new feature by default. Fun, right? Not so much. I’ve already got this new “feature” in my inbox and the first thing I did was turn it off. Today, I’m going to show you how to do the same thing.

Avoid these common Facebook mistakes – Manage your timeline and news feed; delete or edit your updates, comments, and messages; and control how you share with Facebook friends and the public.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Teenager reported to police after reporting vulnerability in government website – An Australian teenager may face arrest after being reported to police by the Melbourne Public Transport Department, after he helpfully reported a security hole in their website.

Sexting teen convicted of child pornography – A teenage girl in Canada sends naked pictures of her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend to a friend and posts one picture to the victim’s Facebook page. She is more or less the same age as the victim, yet is convicted of child pornography.

Meet Voyce, the sensor-packed, wearable-tech wellness monitor for dogs – Tracking activity levels, sleep patterns, and heart and respiratory rates, the Voyce collar helps your pal Spot become a quantified dog.

26 Fitness Trackers Ranked from Worst to First – You could spend hours comparing every single feature in the 20+ fitness trackers on the market (and actually, we’ve done that), but for most people, just keep the following three things in mind….

Google+ invite earns man a night in jail, $500 fine – System-generated invitations from web services like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ can be pretty annoying. They can also land you in jail. That’s what happened to Thomas Gagnon of Massachusetts. Apparently while he was reorganizing his Google+ circles, the Big G’s notification service sprung into action and sent an invite off to his ex. Awkward? Sure. In this case, however, it was actually grounds for a call to the police.

Create a website the easy way – If you don’t want to learn the technical complexities of modern Web design, or hire someone who has already learned it, find another option. Go with a do-it-yourself online service that provides the building blocks and then hosts the site for you. There will be some limitations on how much you can customize the site design, but the results will still look good and have all of the functionality you need.

Some important facts about Android antivirus applications – Depending on which side of the fence you stand, Android anti-virus (AV) apps are a waste of time or they’re absolutely necessary. I prefer to error on the side of caution, especially when it doesn’t cost anything. If you’re wondering why I say there’s no cost, that’s because independent testing facilities, including AV-TEST GmbH say there is little difference between the paid and free versions of Android AV apps regarding their ability to locate malware on mobiles devices.

On the anniversary of the death of Aaron Swartz, Anonymous hacks MIT again – One year after the activist’s suicide, Swartz’s father speaks to Boston Magazine. The protest is backed by the EFF, Demand Progress, reddit, and Mozilla, among other big players in Internet culture.The defacement no longer appears on the site, but was down as of Saturday morning.

Bitcoin vault with insurance opens in London – Bitcoins and bitcoin wallets have always been a target for hackers, if a hacker manages to get in and steal your bitcoins there is not a lot that can be done….until now!

CES 2014: What we saw, what we loved, and what we’ll remember – The enormous, over-the-top, excess-filled Consumer Electronics Show—CES to us in the biz—has come to an end. We’ve wrapped up a week of running around Vegas like crazy people, forsaking sleep and eating in taxis or while hunched over vendor-provided buffet tables in product demo rooms.

The real CES takeaway: soon we’ll be even more connected and have even less privacy – Tech companies promote the ‘internet of things’ where our homes, cars and selves are wired, but that has consequences.

Corsair unveils USB stick to back up smartphone, tablet – Available in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB, the Flash Voyager Go USB 3.0 is a way for mobile owners to beat the fact that an increasing number of devices come without an external Micro SD card slot for backup or offline storage.

The flat-out truth on curved TVs: Many companies showed curved TVs at CES. Gimmick or valid innovation? – The reason for a curved screen has somewhat mystified us since last year when we first saw Samsung’s curved 4K TV. Now that these screens are everywhere, it bears sussing out what, exactly, is their purpose.


Update: Breach exposes data on 110 million customers, Target now says – Up to 110 million people, about a third of the U.S. population, may be affected by a data breach at retailer Target, nearly triple the number the company first estimated in mid-December. A Target spokeswoman clarified late Friday that a 70 million figure released earlier in the day was in addition to the 40 million people the company first estimated to be affected by the breach. It was unclear earlier if the 70 million included the original 40 million victims. There may be some crossover between the two groups of victims, but Target does not know the extent of the crossover, she said.

Target is not alone: Neiman Marcus and others hacked – Neiman Marcus confirmed that they were recently breached, and word is at least three other well-known retailers were also hit in the last few weeks although details are somewhat lacking at this point.

Yahoo: Malware attack bigger than thought – Company posts guidelines for Yahoo users worried about infection and says people outside Europe may have been hit. It also says attacks went on longer than reported.

Oracle readies 147 security patches, including 36 for Java – Many of the Java weaknesses can be exploited remotely, according to Oracle.

Backdoor exposed in Cisco small business devices – Several Cisco small business networking products have an undocumented “test interface” which could allow a LAN-based user to gain root access. Public exploit code is available.

Microsoft readies urgent patch for Windows XP next week – Microsoft is patching Windows XP on this month’s Patch Tuesday, shoring up a vulnerability that can lead to computers being taken over entirely by attackers.

Microsoft Twitter accounts, blog hijacked by SEA – Microsoft had two Twitter accounts and an official blog compromised over the weekend in another embarrassing security incident for the Redmond giant. Attackers claiming to belong to pro-Assad group the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) managed to crack the @MSFTnews and @XboxSupport accounts on Saturday and post various messages hash-tagged “SEA”, according to Mashable.

Gamers targeted by hackers, Kaspersky Labs warns – Kaspersky Lab experts have discovered that PC gamers around the globe were hit by 11.7 million attacks in 2013.

Mozilla warns not to trust browser vendors as it looks for verification – The organisation behind Firefox is looking to build a global auditing system to verify that Mozilla builds do not contain any code forced into the browser by court order.

Some Handy Email Tips For The Christie Administration – Now, we at SecurityWatch don’t condone underhanded deals (unless we get to write about them), but this story hinges on emails obtained by subpoena and we know a thing or two about how to keep your emails safe.

Company News:

Windows 9 ‘Threshold’ reportedly coming in April 2015 – Microsoft is planning to release Windows 9, the next major version of the desktop operating system in April 2015 and is currently in early development stage under the codename “Threshold.”

Workers, guards clash in hours-long Samsung factory RIOT in Vietnam – Workers reportedly beat and threw rocks at the security guards, and when police arrived to break up the scrum, they too were attacked. “Hundreds” of workers are said to have been involved in the violence. In all, between 11 and 13 people were injured in the incident – including guards, workers, and cops alike – with five of them described as having suffered serious injuries, including “brain trauma.” A Chinese news source even reported that one of the most seriously hurt had died, but this could not be confirmed.

Feds to dump CGI from project – Contractor that built troubled health care site will be replaced by Accenture amid growing frustration over pace of repairs, report says

Microsoft more trusted than Apple, study says – A Forrester analysis suggests what some might find surprising: Microsoft gained the only “trailblazer” status by being trusted across generations.

Games and Entertainment:

The best PC games you didn’t play in 2013 – There are more great games released each year than any one person could play. Check out these 11 before 2014 overwhelms you.

Valve Adds Support for AMD and Intel Graphics in SteamOS – Great news for AMD gamers, so long as you don’t mind SteamOS itself not supporting a super-huge library of games.

Build your own dream box game console with SteamOS – With over 65 million subscribers, Steam is trying to make its move into your living room. But why buy what you already have? shows you how to set up your very own Steam Machine.

It’s Time for the Game Industry to Adopt a Controller Standard – The time has come: the video game industry must finally come together to pick a single standard for game controllers that will work across platforms and easily handle gameplay on any device.

PlayStation Now requires a DualShock controller – Want to access PlayStation Now through a TV? Sony will require you to purchase a DualShock controller in order to play games.

Adrift is a Charming Color-Based Puzzle Game for iPhone and iPad – A puzzle game doesn’t need to have a bunch of arcane rules and fancy graphics to be good. Adrift doesn’t really have either and it’s one of the most challenging and engrossing puzzle games to show up on iOS in some time. All you have to do is connect the colored blocks on the cube. It’s not as simple as it sounds, but you can give it a shot for free.

Off Topic (Sort of):

A Vote in Favor of Making it Tough for Cops to Do Their Jobs – The biggest protection of the civil rights and civil liberties of Americans is sloth. Cops, prosecutors, judges, agents, marshals – everyone – are essentially lazy. They have limited resources, limited ability to investigate and prosecute, and therefore set priorities about what crimes to go after and what to let slide. Even when they decide to go after a crime, they have limited resources to dedicate to the investigation. Installing a video surveillance takes time, resources, money, and requires monitoring, minimization, and technical skills. They aren’t going to waste these resources on silly cases. Until now. (suggested by Aseem S.)

Is privacy too complex for social media to handle alone? – Third parties are now offering tools to help users manage their privacy settings, but does this highlight that Facebook and others aren’t doing a good enough job?

How Israel and Hamas weaponized social media – More militaries and armed groups are using social media as a weapon of war — but when ground skirmishes are mirrored by cyber-social battles, managing the message can get messy.

Alaska town still offline after New Year’s revelry takes down Internet – New Year’s is little more than yester-week’s memory, serving as the landing pad for millions who spent the last day of 2013 celebrating. For one Alaskan town, the New Year also came sans Internet access, something that still persists ten days later. The reason? Tradition, and poor judgment when some possibly inebriated individual decided where to shoot his shotgun.

Algorithm finds that the secret to being a successful writer is to knock off the crap – The algorithm, designed by a group of computer scientists — a profession historically known for its strict creative writing skill — from Stony Brook University, can analyze a book and determine whether or not it will become successful. Among the data points of writing style, engaging storyline, and novelty, “interestingness” is also quantified, putting the stellar writing skills of computer scientists on display. Despite the actual scientists’ writing ability, the algorithm works.

3D Systems Chef Jet and Pro eyes-on: legitimizing 3D printed food – In the 3D realm of CES 2014 we caught up with 3D Systems, a crew that brought so many new products and services to the show that it was difficult keeping up with it all! Two of the more late-breaking items we were introduced to were the Chef Jet and the Chef Jet Pro, both of them capable food-safe 3D printing. Both printers are fully certified and ready to head to the kitchen this year.

Something to think about:

The moments that we have with friends and family, the chances that we have to make a big difference in the world or even to make a small difference to the ones we love, all those wonderful chances that life gives us, life also takes away. It can happen fast and a whole lot sooner than you think.”

–      Larry Page

Today’s Free Downloads:

HDDExpert 1.10 – HDDExpert gives you a crystal-clear vision of your Hard Drive (HDD or SSD) health and performance and translates S.M.A.R.T. attributes into a readable indication. It then recommends maintenance (fans upgrade, spare purchase, backups and more) depending on the amount of failures detected on your hard drives.

SyncFolders – SyncFolders helps you to synchronize the contents of two folders, including any subfolders. The folders may be on different disk drives, on the network, or storage devices attached to the USB port, including external hard disk drives, flash drives, and any other type of USB storage device.

Multi Commander – Multi Commander is a multi-tabbed file manager that is an alternative to the standard Windows Explorer. It uses the very popular and efficient dual-panel layout. Multi Commander has a everything you need in your daily works with files to make your work fast and efficient. It has all the standard features like a file manager has like copy, move, rename, view. But Multi Commanders big strength is the special features that allow you to do advanced task with ease. Like Auto-unpacking, Auto-sorting, Browse inside archives, Workspace support, Scripting, Searching and a lot more. And it allows you to do everything from the keyboard.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

U.K., Canadian Firms Wary of U.S. Cloud After NSA Leaks – A new Peer 1 Hosting survey of 300 U.K. and Canadian businesses reveals that 25 percent of organizations are moving their data outside of the American cloud storage system, citing security and data privacy concerns. Despite this country’s reputation as a popular location for data hosting, it falls behind Canada, the U.K., Switzerland, and Germany in terms of companies’ international trust; Canada leads the pack with 72 percent total confidence, while America lands at 51 percent.

Internet sets February 11th as day of protest against mass surveilance – The internet has banded together to fight against mass surveillance. February 11th will be an international day of protest with banners and widgets strewn across popular websites such as Reddit.

Stephen Colbert urged to cancel speech for NSA-linked privacy firm RSA – Privacy rights groups are calling on comedian Stephen Colbert to cancel his guest speaker appearance at a conference organised by RSA, the security firm accused of accepting millions from the National Security Agency to weaken encryption software. The host of Comedy Central’s Colbert Report is due to be the closing speaker at RSA’s annual conference in San Francisco in February. A number of security experts scheduled to speak at the conference have already dropped out following reports that RSA was paid $10m by the NSA to distribute a flawed encryption that allowed the security agency to bypass security protections on personal computers and other products.

John McCain seeks congressional investigation into ‘broken’ NSA – The Obama administration is desperate to draw a line under the controversy that has engulfed the NSA over the last six months. The president’s proposals are partly based on the findings of a major review, commissioned in the aftermath of the Snowden disclosures, which recommended, among other things, that the agency should no longer collect and store domestic phone records. McCain told CNN on Sunday that Congress was probably going to need to pass legislation to implement Obama’s recommendations, and was obliged to run its own investigation into the wider controversy over US surveillance. “Is there anybody believes that this system is not broken in many respects? I think not,” he said.



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

10 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 13, 2014

  1. Not All Android Antivirus Programs are created equally.
    Thought the following might help:

  2. delenn13

    Hey Bill,


    Just thought you might find this video interesting. I don’t think this has been posted here…
    ▶ Google is Going to Blackmail You – YouTube
    And I hate the new signon. I have 2 GOOGLE emails. It takes me about 20 mins to figure out how to get to the other one. PITA.

    • Hey Delenn13,

      Brilliant! I’ve plugged it into tomorrow’s TNN.

      Totally agree – Google is messing with my regular processes as well. The money machine just never stops spitting out the coin for this master manipulator.



  3. Mal

    Hey Bill,

    Re: Teenager reported to police after reporting vulnerability in government website

    Yes, this is typical of Governments down here, because they know best, don’t you know. Actually they don’t, and never have. Obviously the Victorian government stuck its head up its own ass and hoped nobody would find out. Until they fixed it, if they were ever going to.

    Hope this kid is left alone.

    • Hey Mal,

      Just another example of the downside of the Parliamentary system. Small minded dictatorial morons (barrel scraped intellectuals), who are driven by ideology rather than common sense. So yes, it seems to me “they know best, don’t you know”, is part and parcel of the all inclusive “nanny sate” madness.

      Parliamentary systems need a complete overhaul so that the will of the electorate becomes the primary focus. Dream on baby!



  4. Mal

    Hi Bill,
    Re: Yahoo Malware attack.
    I’m on my soapbox today, so here goes lol.
    I use Yahoo Mail every day, and have never had this problem. Why? Java is not installed and never will be.

    Just about everytime someone calls me about their computer being infected, the problem traces back to Java, which I think is just about the most hackable piece of crap that ever existed. But mostly they still use it and I usually get another call down the track.


    • Hey Mal,

      You look good up their mate! 🙂

      Can’t think of a better soapbox shouter – so, keep on shouting out the dangers of running with Java unrestricted.