10 Things You Need to Know About Digital Security; FreedomPop Announces A Fully-Encrypted Smartphone For $10 A Month; Identity Fraud: It’s Here to Stay; How to use Chrome’s coming voice search feature today; 5 New Uses for Chromecast; Free: Tweaking.com – Windows Repair; Chromebooks are a revolution in Easy; RadioShack To Close 1,100 Stores; Apple faces website blacklist in ‘misleading’ warranty claims; VPN Users ‘Pirating’ Netflix Scare TV Networks; Google Fixes Nearly 20 Bugs in Chrome 33.
10 Things You Need to Know About Digital Security – Last week, the whole SecurityWatch team fanned out over the RSA Conference to get the latest about new security innovations, the latest technology, and what the security community is really talking about. Since most of you were sane enough to not spend the week at a trade show, here’s our ten things you need to know about security right now.
UK Advisor Involved In Britain’s Internet Filter Arrested For Child Porn – A top British Prime Minister advisor, who helped design the country’s controversial Internet filtering program, has been arrested for possessing child pornography. Patrick Rock was arrested at his home a day after Prime Minister David Cameron’s office learned about the investigation.
Identity Fraud: It’s Here to Stay – Identity fraud seems like a far off nightmare that’ll never happen to any of us. It’s in the news stories, out to scare us into securing our accounts and devices. Don’t take identity fraud lightly though; one of Javelin Strategy and Research’s recent studies showed that it’s on the rise and consumers should get proper protection before they find themselves victimized. The number of victims has increased astronomically from 500,000 to 13.1 million consumers in 2013 alone, most victims between the ages of 35 and 44. Someone falls victim to identity fraud every two seconds.
Chromebooks are a revolution in Easy – My last two blogs were about the security offered by Chromebooks, focusing first on traveling, then on running Flash. Here I discuss how easy it is to own a Chromebook. Basically, they require no ongoing care and feeding. Quite revolutionary.
Chromebooks ‘have surprised us,’ says HP CEO – Speaking at a technology conference this week, Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman said she is surprised by the appeal of the Chromebook. “It’s a broader appeal than I originally anticipated or we anticipated that it would be…it does appear there is a real life to Chromebook in the small to medium-sized business and even in [corporate] enterprise,” she said.
HP Chromebook 11. (Credit: Hewlett-Packard)
VPN Users ‘Pirating’ Netflix Scare TV Networks – TV networks in Australia are expressing fresh concern that local viewers are ‘pirating’ Netflix with help from VPN services. Officially unavailable Down Under, Netflix reportedly has up to 200,000 Aussie subscribers who evade geo-blocking mechanisms to happily pay for the service. (suggested by D 13)
OS upgrades: Cheap is better than pricey, free is best – Lowering the price of an operating system upgrade boosts its uptake five-fold, but pushing it out for free speeds uptake as much as 12 times, data from an analytics company shows.
When a monitor just isn’t big enough, try Microsoft’s SurroundWeb – A Microsoft research project paints your PC screen on the surrounding walls. Because, really, what are your apartment’s walls actually doing?
How to use Chrome’s coming voice search feature today – It’s a handy feature, but Google has yet to say when it will be baked in to the official Chrome build. The good news for anyone who wants to talk to their computer right now is that you can manually add hands-free voice search using the Google Voice Search Hotword (Beta) extension.
5 New Uses for Chromecast – It’s been about a month since Google opened up Chromecast to all third-party developers, and new apps are now starting to trickle in. While we haven’t seen any major streaming services add support recently, smaller developers have been adopting Chromecast in some interesting ways. If you’ve got Google’s $35 TV dongle, here are some new tricks you can do with it:
ETA for iPhone Tells You Travel Time To Your Favorite Haunts – There is a new app for the iPhone that can help you get where you need to go, but it’s not just another map app. ETA is a simple app that lists your favorite places and tells you how long it will take to get there from wherever you are. That’s it. That might seem a little limited, but that’s sort of the point.
Drag to resize YouTube videos with Youtube Resize – This browser extension for Chrome or Firefox provides more sizing options for YouTube’s video player than the standard small, large, and full-screen choices.
Microsoft launches public beta for Bing Saves – Microsoft has now opened up its beta test of its Bing Saves feature to the general public, allowing anyone to save any content they find while searching on the website.
Roku Introduces A New Entry-Level Streaming Stick For $49, Shipping In April – Streaming hardware startup Roku has spent the last several years building devices to make dumb TVs smarter, and unlocking a whole lot of over-the-top video content along the way. Today, the company is introducing a new version of its Streaming Stick that will be a lot more affordable at $49, as well as a lot more accessible, by connecting to a TV’s HDMI port.
Yahoo to end logins with Google, Facebook – Many online services allow users to log in using their Facebook or Google account credentials, which is usually a fast way to access a service and simple way to keep your login info straight. Soon, Yahoo services will no longer allow this, and will instead require users to have a Yahoo ID.
HTML is a sexually-transmitted disease, say many Americans – The Personal Computer Memory Card International Association’s eponymous 1990 PCMCIA card standard used to jokingly be decoded as People Can’t Memorise Computer Industry Acronyms. Nearly a quarter of a century later that jape has been proven anew, after an online coupons outfit called Vouchercloud let The Los Angeles Times publish the “results” of a “study” of “2,392 men and women 18 years of age or older” who were asked to decode some more recent technology terms. The headline finding is that 11 per cent thought “HTML” is a sexually-transmitted disease.
Our brains work hard to spot phishing scams, but still often fail – Scientists have found a significant increase in brain activity related to problem-solving and decision-making when spotting fake sites. But despite the extra brain-power, it seems we’re still pretty bad at it, averaging just a 60% accuracy rate.
Critical crypto bug leaves Linux, hundreds of apps open to eavesdropping – Hundreds of open source packages, including the Red Hat, Ubuntu, and Debian distributions of Linux, are susceptible to attacks that circumvent the most widely used technology to prevent eavesdropping on the Internet, thanks to an extremely critical vulnerability in a widely used cryptographic code library. The bug in the GnuTLS library makes it trivial for attackers to bypass secure sockets layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS) protections available on websites that depend on the open source package.
“Girl killed herself” Facebook scam – be aware before you Share! – The “Girl killed herself video” bait-and-switch scam on Facebook, now in its fifth year, is back. Here are three tips to help us stamp these scams out at last. Be aware before you Share!
Google Fixes Nearly 20 Bugs in Chrome 33 – Google has fixed 19 security flaws in its Chrome browser, including more than a dozen high-risk bugs. The company paid out $3,500 in rewards to security researchers who reported flaws. Two of the high-risk vulnerabilities fixed in Chrome 33 are use-after-free flaws, one in SVG images and the other in speech recognition.
Walmart Planning E-Commerce Marketplace To Enter India, Challenge eBay, Amazon – India’s e-commerce industry is on fire. After eBay doubled down on its India play by investing $133 million in Snapdeal a week ago, the world’s biggest retailer, Walmart, is now looking to build a marketplace for tapping into the country’s e-commerce industry, which is expected to grow sevenfold to $22 billion over next five years. As this report says, Walmart has already hired a team of over a dozen professionals who are busy fleshing out the marketplace.
AMD touts new low-cost desktop chipset, calls Intel’s a “dead-end” – Enter the AM1 chipset, an SoC for desktops launching April 9 and aimed at developing markets. You may recognize AM1 as a sibling of the Kabini family of chips, which launched last year with dual- and quad-core Jaguar CPUs and GPUs on the same chipset—very much resembling what landed in both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 a few months later. While Kabini is destined primarily for portables, AMD wants the AM1 to dominate the low-cost, expandable desktop market, and at an estimated $60 starting price for the chipset and the motherboard combined, it’s appropriate for that task.
Intel to acquire wearable devices firm Basis for around $100 million – Intel has reportedly won an auction to acquire wearable devices making company, Basis, for an amount upwards of $100 million to strengthen itself in the newly emerging wearables market.
RadioShack To Close 1,100 Stores – Today, while reporting its 2013 fourth quarter results RadioShack announced plans to close 1,100 of its 4,000 stores in a bid to stem losses. The parts drawer and the RC toys and the various different types of solder and breadboards. RadioShack. It is quickly dying. RadioShack reported a loss of $191.4 million during this quarter, compared with a year-earlier loss of $63.3 million. Revenue declined 20% to just $935.4 million.
Apple’s CarPlay may use BlackBerry’s QNX – Think BlackBerry was dying? Well QNX, the Operating System that BlackBerry has owned since 2010 may be an integral part of Apple’s new car display interface, a new report reveals.
Apple faces website blacklist in ‘misleading’ warranty claims – A Brussels investigative magistrate is considering whether to force Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block Apple’s website in the country due to “misleading” consumer warranty information. Spotted by Tech.EU, Belgian newspapers are reporting that anger over “misleading” warranty practices and information offered by Apple on the warranty life of its products — including the popular iPad and iPhone product lines — may result in the tech giant’s website and services entering a block list in Belgium.
Comcast widens low-cost Internet program indefinitely – Following its Time Warner Cable acquisitions plan, Comcast has announced an expansion of its low-cost service for those with low income. Called Internet Essentials, the service provider revealed today that in excess of 1.2 million individuals in the US have enrolled, and that the program will continue indefinitely.
Games and Entertainment:
How to buy PC games on the cheap: If you’re paying full price, you’re doing it wrong – If you’re looking for good gaming on the cheap, you really have to look to the PC. Although a decent desktop (one with a reasonably powerful discrete graphics card) will probably cost you a bit more than a console, you stand to save a bundle when it comes to stocking it with games. All you have to do is follow a few simple rules.
Microsoft begins rollout of March Xbox One software update – As promised, Microsoft has begun the rollout of its latest software update for the Xbox One, with a number of improvements and features, including better multiplayer and party support.
Xbox One game creator Project Spark hits beta for all users today – One of the big things Microsoft originally announced with the Xbox One was Project Spark, a unique spin on the build your own game genre that has never really been terribly successful. Microsoft plans to wield their new console alongside the touch friendly Windows 8.1 to create a set of tools that makes it much easier to put your imagination to work for you. So far the Windows beta has been well received, with players all over the world sharing unique concepts and fun levels to run through. Now the the Xbox One beta is here, Microsoft is demonstrating now only a desire to quickly move forward, but also plans to monetize the concept through “Spark Tokens” in the Xbox Store.
Sony sells 6 million PS4 consoles, 13.7 million games – When Sony released the PS4 back in late November last year, it set itself a sales target of 5 million consoles by the end of March 2014. At the time, that seemed optimistic, but we’ve since experienced how popular the PS4 is with consumers, and it’s not surprising to find the Japanese company has surpassed that target well over a month early.
Marvel offers 99-cent access to Unlimited comic archive – Marvel Comics is offering a 30-day trial of its Marvel Unlimited subscription service, with access to more than 15,000 comics, for 99 cents through March 14.
Batman: Arkham Knight Cover Art, Trailer Released – Rocksteady Studios has released teasers for Batman: Arkham Knight, the fourth and final installment in the critically acclaimed Batman: Arkham franchise.
TechSpot: Benchmarking Free to Play: World of Tanks, Dota 2, PlanetSide 2 and League of Legends Tested – While you may not need a Radeon R9 290X or a GeForce GTX 780 Ti to get the most out of these games, we’re curious to see how hard those titles can push today’s hardware.
Off Topic (Sort of):
Lamborghini Huracan replaces instrument panel with 12.3-inch Tegra-powered display – The Huracan is sure to get car geeks excited what with its 610hp V10 engine, 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, and its top speed of 325km/h. But there’s also something in this car for tech geeks to show an interest in: the instrument panel. Lamborghini has decided to do away with physical dials in the new Huracan, instead opting to install a 12.3-inch display to act as the instrument panel. But the thing is, with such a high performance car you need those instruments to be very clear and react very quickly and smoothly to show the driver exactly what’s going on when they are going from 0-100km/h in 3.2 seconds.
Lost your cool? You’re likely to have stroke or heart attack in the next two hours – A new study has shown that within the first two hours after an angry outburst, you’re five times more likely to suffer a heart attack and four times more likely to have a stroke than if you had kept your cool. To reach this conclusion, a trio of researchers from Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center performed a “systematic review” of nine independent studies of anger outbursts and follow-on stroke and heart-attack events.
Get Here Faster, Retirement: This Is a Segway-like Rideable Golf Scooter – If I were to retire tomorrow, this would be one of my first purchases even though my financial advisor would threaten to quit if I bought it.
Pizza Hut dreams of interactive tables for elusive dine-in restaurants – In a concept video produced by Pizza Hut and Chaotic Moon Studios, two diners craft their pizza order by swiping, pinching and tapping their fingers on a tabletop interactive display. With one diner’s phone already on the table, the screen then offers mobile payment options, presumably through near-field communications, and estimates when the pizza will come out of the oven. Finally, a selection of games pops up to help pass the time, apparently in a nod to the hulking arcade cabinets from Pizza Hut’s dine-in heyday.
Something to think about:
“A mind set in its ways is wasted. Don’t do it.”
– Eric Schmidt
Today’s Free Downloads:
EverNote – EverNote for Windows is an intuitive note management application that offers you a single place for the organization, easy input and quick retrieval of all types of notes and clippings. With EverNote, you can conveniently capture and quickly find typed or handwritten memos; excerpts from Web pages, documents and emails; passwords, phone messages, and to do’s; brainstorms, sketches, camera phone snapshots; and more. EverNote provides a unique approach by storing all different types and formats of notes on an endless, virtual roll of paper. With this innovation, you can quickly find any note by sight – without having to open notes individually – either by a single click on any date in the Time Band, or by using EverNote’s handy Accelerator Scroller.
Tweaking.com – Windows Repair – Tweaking.com – Windows Repair is an all-in-one repair tool to help fix a large majority of known Windows problems including registry errors and file permissions. Portable version also available. Malware and installed programs can modify your default settings. With Tweaking.com – Windows Repair you can restore many of your Windows settings to their original state. Also, this program also has the MalwareBytes Anti-Malware scanning engine built in to help rid your machine of infection before attempting repairs.
In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:
FreedomPop Announces The Privacy Phone, A Fully-Encrypted Smartphone For $10 A Month – Meet the Privacy Phone, a device that FreedomPop brags is the only smartphone and mobile service that allows for encrypted communications. Lovingly nicknamed the “Snowden Phone” by FreedomPop, It can even be purchased with Bitcoin to further protect the owner’s anonymity. Simply put, if you’re in the market for a phone to plan to help run a criminal enterprise or serially leak ill-gotten government secrets, this is probably the phone for you. Voice and text messages are reportedly locked down with 128-bit encryption. All application and Internet data will be sent through a secure encrypted virtual private network (VPN). And, if that’s not enough, owners can change the phone’s number anytime they want.
US State Dept: “Surveillance should not be arbitrary,” except when it is – In a speech before the RightsCon conference in San Francisco, a US State Department official expressed official approval for the president’s new January 2014 policy that established clearer guidelines about state-driven bulk data collection and surveillance. At that time, President Barack Obama gave a speech outlining the administration’s policy after two outside review boards had critical things to say about the American surveillance regime. Despite the fact that within the last several months, documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden showed that the United States has been actively weakening encryption standards, deputy assistant secretary Scott Busby told RightsCon that the US “continues to support strong cybersecurity, including strong encryption protocols.”
Edward Snowden to speak at South by Southwest – The NSA leaker, who is living in exile, will appear by teleconference on Monday during the interactive portion of the annual Texas festival. He joins fellow wanted man Julian Assange, who is also speaking remotely at SXSW Interactive.
Australia: Google warns of unfettered website blocking power – Google has told the Australian government that agencies using Section 313 of the Telecommunications Act to block websites could result in “over-broad blocking” and should be reviewed. In April 2013, a bungle by the Australian Securities Investment Commission, that resulted in the accidental blocking of customer access to 250,000 websites for at least two ISPs, revealed that three Commonwealth government agencies had been using Section 313 of the Telecommunications Act to compel ISPs to block customer access to websites on their behalf. A Freedom of Information request late last year revealed that when news broke of the government using this power to block websites, Google’s head of public policy and government affairs in Australia and New Zealand, Iarla Flynn informally raised concerns with the department about the regime. Now as part of the new Coalition government’s review of deregulation in the communications portfolio, Flynn has put it on the record (PDF) that Google is concerned about the use of Section 313 powers.