Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – June 10, 2014

Organised cybercrime groups are now as powerful as nations;  How to encrypt your Android communications to prevent spying and stop thieves;  $445 billion: Bloated BS or the true cost of cybercrime?  Troubleshoot a dead Internet connection;  Get an Apple TV and $25 iTunes gift card for $99.99;  Get Facebook’s Chat Heads in Chrome with ;  The Android ‘toxic hellstew’ survival guide;  2014 DDoS Trends – Botnet Activity is up by 240%;  BlackBeltPrivacy Tor+WASTE (free);  Amazon to rival PayPal as payment middleman;  Survey: Over half of cable subscribers would leave if they could;  Woman Sues Hospital After STD Diagnosis Posted on Facebook;  Caution: This site will trigger your midlife crisis;  GoDaddy Files For $100M IPO;  PlayStation TV Coming To US And Canada This Fall For $99. 

Organised cybercrime groups are now as powerful as nations – Dozens of cybercrime groups have reached the level of sophistication where their technical capabilities are on a par with those of a nation-state, it has been claimed. Gangs are capable of building complex systems aimed at stealing money and intellectual property on a grand scale, costing almost the same to the global economy as counterfeiting or the narcotics trade — more than $400bn a year.

How to encrypt your Android communications to prevent spying and stop thieves – If you’re concerned that the interception of your phone calls by world leaders, human rights groups, or your spouse may create a diplomatic incident, you can encrypt your calls and texts. Open source, mobile privacy developer, the Guardian Project, has been working on a number of solutions. One is Ostel, an encrypted voice-calling tool that’s in public test-bed mode. You can experiment with it for free by creating an account at the Ostel website, and downloading and configuring calling-app CSipSimple. Silent Circle’s Silent Phone and Silent Text apps are robust alternatives. Silent Circle is behind Blackphone, the upcoming hardened Android phone.

The Android ‘toxic hellstew’ survival guide – Android itself is a strong operating system, but the way that the platform is delivered to users is critically flawed. Here’s how to stay safe.

Survey: Over half of cable subscribers would leave if they could – Citing a survey from market research company cg42, the Washington Post reports that 53 percent of those polled would leave their cable provider if they felt it was possible to do so. The survey also finds that 73 percent of respondents feel that cable companies “are predatory in their practices and take advantage of consumers’ lack of choice.” Meanwhile, 72 percent of survey participants expressed concern that the ever-increasing size of cable companies will hurt, not help, consumers.

Locked Out? This App Stores Your Keys Online – Some of you just aren’t going to be comfortable with an app that stores an image of your house key online so you can quickly get a replacement key cut. Some of you will think this is a great idea. Most of you have clicked away from this article already. If you’re still here, let’s move on.


Get an Apple TV and $25 iTunes gift card for $99.99 – Best Buy has the Apple TV and a $25 iTunes gift card for $99.99 shipped, plus sales tax where applicable. (I’m not sure if this same freebie is available in-store, so call before you drive over.) So, basically, same price as always on the box, but a bonus gift card to sweeten the deal. Assuming you plan to use such a streamer for things like movies and TV shows, the card lets you enjoy a handful of rentals on the house.

Troubleshoot a dead Internet connection – I hate network problems. They’re the worst. When they happen in my house, I tend to use a vocabulary that would shock Quentin Tarantino. A wide variety of problems can block Internet (and local network) communications. Your first job is to find the cause. Follow these steps in this order, and you should at least figure out what is the causing the problem.

Get Facebook’s Chat Heads in Chrome with – Facebook’s Chat Heads let you read and reply to messages when using its mobile app without leaving your news feed or whatever it is you happen to be doing in Facebook when a message arrives. Now, a Chrome extension called (not be be confused with fascism) brings Facebook’s chat heads to the desktop. With installed, when you get a Facebook message, a Chat Head pops up along the right edge of the page you are viewing in Chrome. Just as with Facebook’s mobile app, the Chat Head features your friend’s Facebook profile picture. Mouse over the Chat Head and a small window appears to the left with the sender’s username and the text of his or her most recent message.


Facebook to launch Slingshot, yet another photo messaging app – The company said Monday that it would soon release a new app, called Slingshot, “to share everyday moments with lots of people at once.” It put the app out on Apple’s App Store briefly on Monday, but that was an accident, a Facebook spokesman said via email. The actual Slingshot app will be ready soon, Facebook said. The app seems to be an attempt to take on both Snapchat and Instagram, which Facebook owns.

Woman Sues Hospital After STD Diagnosis Posted on Facebook – Facebook is a great place to brag about all the good things happening in your life — like a new relationship, job, or baby. But what if something totally embarrassing — like your syphilis diagnosis — was posted to the social network by someone hell bent on ruining your life? It happened to one Ohio woman, who is now suing University of Cincinnati Medical Center after a screenshot of her private medical record, including the syphilis diagnosis, was posted to a Facebook group known as “Team No Hoes.”

Caution: This site will trigger your midlife crisis – Not to alarm you, but you’re really not getting any younger. No doubt you’ve been in denial for some time now. Don’t fret, you’re not the only one. We’re all just blips in time. Someone intent on making us all feel ancient created a Web app called “You’re Getting Old” to remind us of our own mortality — in a really fun way — by showing us interesting facts and stats personalized to our time on Earth.


Why wait for iOS 8? Seven cloud-friendly apps for your photos – Big improvements to iCloud are coming which promise to make it easier to keep photos neatly organized and easily accessible in the cloud. But there are a number of iOS photo apps that have already embraced the cloud.

Gigabyte BRIX mini PC launches with Bay Trail – Gigabyte is back again with a new small form factor (mini) PC, and with it comes the inclusion of Intel’s Bay Trail processor and Intel HD graphics. The BRIX GB-BXBT-2807 is available now for approximately $130 USD.


The Koubachi Wi-Fi Plant Sensor gives sage advice for your garden – The Koubachi Wi-Fi Plant Sensor helps you monitor your plant’s health.  It reads moisture, ambient light, and ambient temperature from the soil near your plant and gives you care advice on all of that and fertilizer and misting. Click through for more details on how this sensor can guide you to proper plant care.


Bulletproof blanket seeks to shield kids during school shootings – School shootings are a tragic reality. While much discussion has centered around prevention, ProTecht, a protective and safety products company in Oklahoma, has created a product it hopes kids will use in case such a tragedy strikes their schools. The Bodyguard Blanket is designed to offer a temporary shelter during dangerous situations, particularly school shootings. (What a despicable government that it would allow children to be at an undue risk of being murdered at school in the first place. Shameful and cowardly!)


Deadly school shootings since Columbine – Fifteen years after the tragedy at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., a look back at other deadly shootings at U.S. schools and college campuses.


How big of a threat is Facebook’s ad play to Google? – Facebook is ramping up its advertising services and tools, targeting SMBs as well as large corporations. We examine whether the social network could become a major threat to Google.


Google is as Google does – If you’re going to use Google’s services, then you must accept that you are going to reside within that ecosystem and Google has the right to manage it and manipulate it as they see fit, in order to maximize revenue.

Report: 2014 DDoS Trends – Botnet Activity is up by 240% – When we started working on this report back in January, our goal was to provide a recap of 2013 DDoS trends. However, the offenders had other plans. And so, just as we were preparing for the report to come out, we started encountering new types of DDoS events which were too significant to overlook. With this new information in hand, we went back to our drawing boards and started re-sampling almost from scratch. The result is an up-to-date overview of the DDoS threat landscape as it stands today; a report that analyzes many of the prominent DDoS trends while also exploring some less known aspects of DDoS activity. You can go ahead and download the full report here.

$445 billion: Bloated BS or the true cost of cybercrime? – The cost of cybercrime, according to a new study, is about $400 billion with a $200 billion bloat padded on each side so the global figures range from $375 to $575 billion. $445 billion as the cost for global cybercrime may be accurate, but take that figure with a healthy dose of skepticism.

Apple Makes It Harder For In-Store Marketers To Track You In iOS 8 – Apple has enabled MAC address randomization in iOS 8 (from Frederic Jacobs via HackerNews), which means it’s harder for marketers to keep track of your comings and goings in or around public Wi-Fi networks. In the updated software, while your iPhone is scanning for Wi-Fi networks, it assigns a “random, locally administered” MAC address, which is typically a constant, unique identifier attached to your phone’s wireless network interface.

Kids with operators manual alert bank officials: “We hacked your ATM” – Two 14-year-old Canadians hacked a Bank of Montreal ATM after finding an operators manual online. The manual showed how to gain administrative control of the device, according to a media report published over the weekend. Graciously, the bank officials typed a letter on bank letterhead asking the boys’ school to excuse their tardiness. The note was remarkable. Under US laws, and most likely under Canadian law as well, the unauthorized access of an ATM is a violation of a variety of statutes, regardless of the intentions or ages of those who do it.

Chinese army group hacks US satellite partners: Crowdstrike – Putter Panda, a cyber espionage group linked to the Chinese military has been targeting US and European government partners in the space and satellite industry, according to a report by security group, Crowdstrike.

Company News:

Amazon to rival PayPal as payment middleman – The online retailer Amazon is reportedly poised to begin rivaling PayPal by offering a payment ‘middleman’ service for websites to utilize. Customers who store card details with the company, as the vast majority do, will be able to use those cards through Amazon to pay for goods online through third-party sites. As with PayPal, Amazon will charge a small fee on each transaction. According to Reuters, the service will go live on Monday and make it even easier for Amazon to act as a middleman between customers and the many successful third-party sellers on the site. These currently comprise 40% of all sales conducted through the company.


Facebook Poaches PayPal President David Marcus To Run Messenger, Maybe Monetize It With Payments – Facebook doesn’t show ads in Messenger or WhatsApp. Instead, payments could be the key to earning money on chat, especially in the developing world where ad rates are low. If that’s the strategy, Facebook just got the perfect executive to lead the charge. It’s poached PayPal’s president David Marcus to run its Messenger unit.

Netflix refuses to comply with Verizon’s “cease and desist” demands – Netflix said Monday it will not stop telling consumers that Internet service providers are to blame for poor streaming video. Last week, Verizon sent a cease and desist letter to Netflix threatening a lawsuit unless Netflix immediately stops sending notices to customers (like the one at the top of this story) blaming Verizon for poor quality. Verizon also demanded a list of all customers who received such messages and evidence that each message was justified.

GoDaddy Files For $100M IPO – Today GoDaddy, the popular domain and web-services company, filed its S-1 document to go public. The company has seen quick revenue growth in recent years and massive losses measured using generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). The company’s 2013 revenue totaled $1.13 billion. The company lost $199.88 million during that period. The company had revenue of $910 million in 2012, and around $894 million in revenue in 2011.

Games and Entertainment:

Battlefield Hardline Beta sign-up goes live: here’s how to play today – This afternoon the folks at DICE, Visceral Games, and Electronic Arts have released the Battlefield Hardline Beta for all to join in on. This is a closed Beta, which means not everyone in the world is invited in, but is also open in the sense that you’ll be able to stream your gameplay live and upload gameplay videos at will. You’ll want to begin by heading to the closed beta signup page at Battlefield dot com. This page asks for your date of birth and for you to select your platform. You’ll need to log in to Origin as well as the PlayStation Network depending on your choices here.


PlayStation TV Coming To US And Canada This Fall For $99 – The console will be compatible with many of the games currently available on the PlayStation Vita, Sony’s portable game console. Those will be for available for download on the PlayStation store. PlayStation TV owners will also be able to log in to PlayStation Now, Sony’s upcoming Netflix-like service that lets people “stream” games from the cloud. The service will have approximately 100 PlayStation 3 titles available as well as more than 20 free games made specifically for PlayStation Now.

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End officially unveiled, and it looks incredible – We don’t yet know much about the game, but from the short teaser and the subtitle “A Thief’s End,” we do know that the game will take a darker tone than is customary for the series. Considering The Last of Us leads are now running the Nathan Drake show, and TLOU is anything but happy, this potential turn wouldn’t be unexpected. What would be a little unexpected, though, is if the actual gameplay graphics looked like the teaser below.


Xbox One coming to Russia September 5 – Microsoft has been slowly but surely releasing their console into new markets. The newest addition to this list will be Russia. Microsoft will offer the Xbox One with and without the Kinect, and everything else that you’d expect to be included with the system, such as an Xbox Live 14-day trial card. China, which had formerly banned foreign video game consoles, has lifted their restrictions and has also allowed the Xbox One to be sold in their country starting this September.

Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain E3 trailer’s majesty – If you expected anything less than a picked-and-prodded mini-movie for the next Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain trailer, you don’t know Hideo Kojima. This trailer takes up where the game Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes left off, making certain you understand that this universe isn’t about to get smaller.


SteelSeries Sentry Eye Tracker helps train pro gamers – SteelSeries has just announced a new kind of gaming peripheral that features some fancy eye tracking technology. But unlike its more popular devices for common gamers, the Sentry Eye Tracker pro is squarely targeted at training the next generation of competitive gamers.


Off Topic (Sort of):

Quadrocopter pilot gets attacked by drone-hating woman: Woman accused him of taking pictures of people with “helicopter plane.” – The man originally posted the video to YouTube, but it has been taken down by the service, and his account has been suspended “as a violation of YouTube’s policy prohibiting content designed to harass, bully, or threaten.” Calling him a “pervert” after calling police to report him for “taking pictures of people with a helicopter plane” and “trying to upload them,” the woman, 23-year old Andrea Mears, lashed out at the pilot as he was putting his quadrocopter away, knocking him to the ground and tearing his shirt.

Social equality debate triggers blowup between venture capitalists – A talk on San Francisco’s shortcomings leads to verbal pyrotechnics between angel investor Ron Conway and former Facebooker Chamath Palihapitiya.

DARPA Z-Man project shows how man can climb like geckos – If imitation is the best form of flattery, then geckos should feel honored. Taking inspiration from what it claims are the world’s best climbers, DARPA’s Z-Man project demonstrated how a human of rather heavy constitution can scale up a vertical wall using nothing other than a pair of paddles.


Warning: Apple HealthKit risks driving up medical costs – How can seeing more information about your health possibly be bad? Here’s how, says the Lown Institute’s Right Care Weekly newsletter. The Lown Institute, founded by Nobel Laureate Dr. Bernard Lown, works to curb medical overtreatments. And they make some convincing arguments about overtreatment in general.

Classic! Hear Bach played on a dot-matrix printer – If you liked the “Back to the Future” theme and Simon and Garfunkel’s “Sound of Silence” played on computer drives, you’re going to love this dot-matrix printer covering Bach.


Tesla offers its charging tech to the world, but there’s a catch – Tesla hasn’t shared its fast-charging technology until now, but offering it further complicates the already-hot debate about standards for connecting electric vehicles to chargers.

Something to think about:

“Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them… well, I have others.”

–      Groucho Marx

Today’s Free Downloads:

Avira AntiVir Rescue System – The Avira AntiVir Rescue System a linux-based application that allows accessing computers that cannot be booted anymore. Thus it is possible to repair a damaged system, to rescue data or to scan the system for virus infections.

Just double-click on the rescue system package to burn it to a CD/DVD. You can then use this CD/DVD to boot your computer. The Avira AntiVir Rescue System is updated several times a day so that the most recent security updates are always available.



BlackBeltPrivacy Tor+WASTE – Tor helps keep you safe online.. WASTE enables secure content exchange. A usability enhanced Tor+WASTE+darkRendezvous(). An installer, for Windows XP 32/64, Vista 32/64, Win7 32/64, Linux (WINE).


4 Modes, Censored Client, Bridge(default), Relay and Exit – chosen by you at install time.

Be sure to check-out the screen shots.

Friendly support provided.

Streamlined Installation Package.

No additional configuration necessary for server, client or darkNet()

Auto Firefox config.

Optional Tor Relaying, bandwidth restricted. From 0->100mb or 0->500mb per day – its your choice.

Regularly updated

Screen shots may differ due to our continuous development cycle.



In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Deutsche Telekom to follow Vodafone’s intercept disclosure – Deutsche Telekom, Germany’s largest telco, says it will release a report revealing how many surveillance requests its gets from governments around the world. The report, when released, will be the first time Deutsche Telekom has detailed how many government requests to access its network it receives outside of Germany. The operator last year published a report disclosing government surveillance requests for Germany, however it hasn’t done the same for its other operations in Europe, North America, South America and Asia.

A Deutsche Telekom spokeswoman was quoted by The Guardian as saying the company intends to publish “something similar to Vodafone” and is currently checking what its national companies can disclose.

A startling detail from Vodafone’s first report was that in six unnamed countries in which it operates, authorities had installed direct access equipment onto the operator’s network, meaning they can conduct surveillance without any oversight.

Vodafone’s report links to national data where it has been previously published and disclosed its own data where national authorities approved their release, however many countries did not permit the operator to release figures. Vodafone’s report did reveal that Italian authorities made 605,000 requests for example, but Vodafone argues those numbers provide an incomplete picture – one reason why it’s against operators shouldering the burden of disclosure.

To defeat encryption, feds deploy the subpoena – It’s not shadowy spies or engineers from the National Security Agency secretly reading the hundreds of tips about government fraud that the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) has received in less than a month.

Instead, it’s lawyers from the President Barack Obama administration employing the power of the administrative subpoena in a bid to siphon data from POGO’s encrypted submission portal. POGO’s site encourages whistleblowers to use Tor as the gateway and has garnered more than 700 tips about abuse and mismanagement at the US Veterans Administration after less than a month of operation.

“If they are successful, that defeats the purpose of trying to improve our online security with encryption,” Joe Newman, the project’s communications director, said in a  telephone interview.

The administrative subpoena, which does not require the Fourth Amendment standard of probable cause, comes as the number of so-called drop boxes from media organizations and other whistleblower groups is on the rise in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations. The Washington Post and the Guardian were among the latest to deploy drop boxes on June 5. But no matter how securely encrypted the boxes might be, the subpoena is an old-school cracking tool that doesn’t require any electronic decryption methods.

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