Get a free year of RoboForm Everywhere; Adobe spies on reading habits over unencrypted web; Three free tools that reveal your PC’s deepest details; Monster banking Trojan botnet claims 500,000 victims; Guide: How to create Windows 10 install media; Swap files between your Android device and Chromebook; Apple TV gets HomeKit functionality; Teens love iPhone more, use Facebook a lot less; Dozens of European ATMs rooted; Kano’s DIY computer teaches kids to code; AT&T Warns of Data Breach After Employee Snooping; Huge spike in mobile malware targets Android; ‘Myst’ is getting a TV series; Jennifer Lawrence says nude photo theft is a ‘sex crime’; History of the Personal Computer, Part 4; Twitter sues US government; Car tech and Siri slammed for driver distraction.
Get a free year of RoboForm Everywhere – Because it’s National Cyber Security Awareness Month (man, it just comes earlier every year, doesn’t it?), the good folks at RoboForm are giving away their great product: RoboForm Everywhere. Specifically, you can get a one-year subscription absolutely free. Regular price: $19.95. As you might expect, this offer is good for new users only. If you’re already a user, you can save 20 percent on a subscription renewal. (Just click the corresponding button on the promo page.) Come October 2015, you can decide if you want to continue. I suspect you’ll want to.
Adobe spies on reading habits over unencrypted web because your ‘privacy is important’ – Adobe confirmed its Digital Editions software insecurely phones home your ebook reading history to Adobe – to thwart piracy. And the company insisted the secret snooping is covered in its terms and conditions. Version 4 of the application makes a note of every page read, and when, in the digital tomes it accesses, and then sends that data over the internet unencrypted to Adobe. This Orwellian mechanism was spotted by Nate Hoffelder of The Digital Reader blog; the plaintext information transmitted also includes the title, publisher, and other metadata about the ebooks. This data is needed, we’re told, for enforcing the usage licenses covering the books.
Three free tools that reveal your PC’s deepest details (including product keys) – Maybe you want to check how much RAM your PC has. Maybe you want to know how fast your processor is, or the voltages being supplied to your PC components. Perhaps you’ve lost a software product key or are trying to figure out exactly which driver your printer is using. Some—but not all—of that info you can just grab from Windows itself, but it’s spread across different locations and a pain to navigate to. A better option is to try out a number of third-party apps that can analyze your system and supply all the information you need. Here’s a look at three free, easy-to-use programs that deliver just that kind of information—and then some.
Facebook reportedly working on app to let people interact anonymously – Facebook is reportedly building a standalone app that will let its users interact and communicate under the cloak of anonymity. If true, it would mark a huge departure from the company’s traditional approach to connecting people; real names and identity have long been central to Facebook’s model. The New York Times says this app, which has been developed under the eye of acquihire Josh Miller, would allow Facebook users to ditch their real names in favor of pseudonyms that would theoretically make them feel more comfortable discussing a range of topics with other people.
Guide: How to create Windows 10 install media using tools – Following up on our original guide to creating Windows USB installation media, we’ve addressed some of the feedback around tools, specifically Rufus and the Windows 7 USB/DVD Tool.
Registry tweak enables faster start-up for Apps in Windows 10 – Since Windows Vista, Microsoft added in a start-up delay for apps, and it’s pretty noticeable in Windows 8 and 10. However, this can be disabled, which results in apps starting quicker on boot.
Kano’s DIY computer teaches kids to code, and now it’s available to everyone – Kano, the runaway Kickstarter success that raised $1.52 million on a promise to teach kids how to code and assemble a Raspberry Pi-based computer, is now widely available to the public. Priced at $149.99, the kit includes everything you need to get started — other than a display, which you’ll need to provide yourself. Based on Linux, Kano OS is kid-friendly through and through, with a leveling system that rewards users as they modify games like Snake, Pong, and even Minecraft. You can change the way games behave by experimenting with “Kano Blocks,” which look like puzzle pieces to the user, but actually spit out real Python code based on what you do with them.
Swap files between your Android device and Chromebook with latest update – You can finally plug your Android device into a Chromebook and transfer files between the two. The catch-up feature joins the usual bug fixes and security improvements in the latest update to Chrome OS. The new version should hit all Chrome OS devices over the next few days—unless you have a Chromebox. Google doesn’t offer any details as to when this will land on those devices. The update adds support for Media Transfer Protocol (MTP), a standard used by Windows, Mac, and Linux for moving files between devices.
Apple TV gets HomeKit functionality via update – Apple TV might just be the best platform you’ll have for a connected home. An update to the software today shows how Apple could leverage the device to make HomeKit reliably cool. If you’ve got Apple’s set-top box, it may be your go-between for controlling your home from your smartphone.
Polyvore creates ‘style graph’ to help you buy more clothes – The image-heavy social media site rolls out a new iOS app that attempts to do what Amazon can’t: personalized fashion recommendations for each of its users.
Forget Apple Pay: Plastc wants to make your wallet smarter – Does the world need another alternative payment method? Plastc believes so, promising the most security as well as the most convenience with its touchscreen-blessed credit and debit card replacement. Capable of switching between a traditional payment card, a loyalty or gift card, or even an access card to your office, Plastc has a magnetic strip that can be re-written on the fly so as to change its identity depending on where you’re using it and what you want to use it for, all controlled with an app on your smartphone and an E Ink panel on the card itself. It’s an ambitious system, and will require some careful negotiation in order to get payment providers, retailers, and of course shoppers themselves onboard. Still, Plastc believes the payoff is worth it; the card is up for preorder now, at $155 apiece, and is expected to ship in summer 2015.
Livestream update frees GoPro from PC shackles – What’s more exhilarating than watching a death-defying GoPro action camera footage taken yesterday or even just earlier today? Why, watching a death-defying GoPro action camera footage as it happens, of course. An update to the Livestream iOS app has just made that possible, removing the computer from the live streaming equation. All you need now is a GoPro Hero and an iPhone.
Microsoft, 13 other firms take student privacy pledge – Microsoft and other companies that provide education technologies and services to U.S. schools aim to assuage parents’ concerns about the collection and handling of student data with a pledge to protect that data. The companies signing the pledge are, however, only a small section of providers to the kindergarten to 12th grade education sector. The pledge may also be an attempt to propose self-regulation as an alternative to tighter federal laws.
Teens love iPhone more, use Facebook a lot less, says survey – More teens say their next phone will be an iPhone, Piper Jaffray finds, but the teen jury is still very much out on the iWatch.
Monster banking Trojan botnet claims 500,000 victims – Security researchers have uncovered the infrastructure behind one of largest and most voracious banking Trojan networks uncovered to date. The Qbot (aka Qakbot) botnet apparently infected 500,000 systems before sniffing “conversations” – including account credentials – for a whopping 800,000 online banking transactions. More than half (59 per cent) of sniffed sessions were reportedly from accounts at five of the largest US banks.
Dozens of European ATMs rooted, allowing criminals to easily cash out – The malware, which Kaspersky dubbed ‘Tyupkin,’ allows low-level thieves, known as money mules, access to the machines at certain times of day using an intermittently changing code, similar to the six-digit electronic tokens used for security in the financial industry. More than 50 ATMs in Eastern Europe and Russia were found to have been infected with the malware to date, leading to the theft of currency equivalent to millions of dollars, according to the statement.
Yahoo: Server Attack Not Shellshock – Hackers looking to exploit the Shellshock bug on Yahoo’s network inadvertently stumbled on another flaw within the Internet firm’s servers. Yahoo has since fixed the bug, and promised that no user data was affected.
Report: Huge spike in mobile malware targets Android, especially mobile payments – Two very predictable traits drive cybercriminals: First, they tend to focus on targets with the highest odds of success. Second, they prefer attacks that generate profit. A new joint report from Kaspersky Lab and INTERPOL underscores how these two factors contribute to concerning trends in mobile threats. The Mobile Cyber Threats report analyzes mobile malware data collected from Kaspersky’s cloud-based Kaspersky Security Network (KSN) during the period of August 1, 2013 through July 31, 2014, for over 5 million Android smartphones and tablets protected by Kaspersky security products.
Bugzilla zero-day can reveal zero-day vulnerabilities in top open-source projects – Hackers could have had an inside track on unpatched flaws in major software projects because of a critical vulnerability in Bugzilla, a system that many developers use to track and discuss bugs in their code. Patches released Monday for Bugzilla address a privilege escalation vulnerability that could have allowed attackers to gain administrative access to software bug trackers based on the open-source application.
Report: Huge Nokia Plant in India Shutting Down – Nokia will reportedly close a manufacturing plant in India amidst an ongoing dispute with the country’s tax authorities. As reported by Reuters, the massive plant – which employs some 20,000 workers – will shut down on Nov. 1. The future of the plant, which makes phones, has been in question ever since Microsoft purchased Nokia’s handset business. According to a Times of India report from April, workers went on strike in 2013, and demanded that the Chennai plant be included in the Microsoft-Nokia deal, but tax issues hampered a deal.
Facebook Launches Hyper-Local Ads Targeted To People Within A Mile Of A Business – Facebook’s mobile ubiquity and push for always-on location sharing came to fruition today with the launch of hyper-local advertising that could convince people to visit stores they’re nearby. Soon, brick-and-mortar businesses will be able to target ads to anyone who lives or was recently within a specific distance of their store. Advertisers can set a radius as small as a mile and the ads will show up on people’s phones or web browsers. These new Local Awareness ads will be available for US business owners in a few weeks, and around the globe in the next several months.
IBM’s Watson lands new partners and open’s NYC office – IBM’s $1bn bet on its cognitive computing platform Watson is paying dividends, with the company announcing a slew of new Watson partners, clients and the grand opening of its New York City office. Ten months on from IBM’s first signal that it would make greater efforts to commercialise Watson, the company is showing off how its investment is bearing fruit, announcing a bevy of new clients and startups that are using Watson to power their own cognitive services and apps.
After eBay and HP’s breakups, Symantec may be next in line for a split – Symantec may be poised to join the list of tech heavyweights opting to split: according to a report from Bloomberg, the company is considering carving up its storage and security businesses into two companies. According to sources of the publication with knowledge of Symantec’s plans, the company is weighing up options to form two entities, with one focused on selling security products and another specialising in storage.
Games and Entertainment:
Project Spark, Microsoft’s free game creation game, hits Windows 8 and Xbox One – Microsoft has removed the “beta” tag from Project Spark, a program that lets users create and share their own games. Project Spark launched in beta six months ago, after being announced by Microsoft in 2013. It lets users design their own game worlds, create characters, and set up rules using if-then triggers. No programming knowledge is necessary, and it seems that users can create fairly complex games (including Tetris, Pinball and tower defense) with enough time and effort. Users have already created more than 70,000 game levels in the beta.
‘Myst’ is getting a TV series – Myst, one of the most popular PC games ever, is about to make a comeback on television and computer screens. Legendary TV & Digital Media — the smaller-screen arm of Legendary Pictures, which has co-produced big-screen trilogies like The Hangover and Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies — has signed a deal to make a dramatic series with Cyan Worlds, the company behind the beloved point-and-click adventure game from the 1990s.
Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry reunite in ‘LittleBigPlanet 3’ voice cast – Hugh Laurie, best known to American audiences as the surly Dr. House MD, will reprise his comedic partnership with old pal Stephen Fry in the upcoming LittleBigPlanet 3 game for the PS3 and PS4. Starring as the villainous Newton, Laurie will be “the dastardly counterpart” to Fry’s warm and friendly Narrator. Joining them on the LittleBigPlanet 3 cast will be Nolan North, the man responsible for giving voice to Uncharted’s Nathan Drake and Assassin’s Creed’s Desmond Miles, along with English comedian Peter Serafinowicz. Let the charming fun begin.
Off Topic (Sort of):
Jennifer Lawrence says nude photo theft is a ‘sex crime’ – Lawrence says that the distribution of her photos isn’t a scandal but a “sexual violation,” and one that underscores the need for better legal protections. “It’s disgusting. The law needs to be changed, and we need to change. That’s why these websites are responsible,” she tells VF. “Just the fact that somebody can be sexually exploited and violated, and the first thought that crosses somebody’s mind is to make a profit from it. It’s so beyond me. I just can’t imagine being that detached from humanity. I can’t imagine being that thoughtless and careless and so empty inside.”
Mercedes built a self-driving truck that could save thousands of lives every year – The Future Truck 2025 can’t navigate city streets autonomously like Google’s fleet of cars, but is perfectly capable of holding its own on the open road — and that’s where sleep-deprived truck drivers most often pose a threat to people driving smaller passenger vehicles. Using a combination of advanced dual cameras, radar sensors, and the latest blind-spot technology (Mercedes refers to the system as “Highway Pilot”), the Future Truck 2025 analyzes the road to get a sense of surrounding traffic and terrain. The “highway” part of that is critical; a driver is still required to get the truck onto the interstate and successfully merge into traffic.
Volvo’s counting on these sensors to end fatal accidents by 2020 – Volvo is aiming no fatal accidents for those in one of the safety-obsessed Swedish firm’s cars by 2020, cooking up a complex 360-degree sensor and vision system that could also open the door to autonomous vehicles. The culmination of Volvo’s four year Non-Hit Car and Truck project, the technology combines data from a wide range of sensors – including cameras, GPS, and others – into a single perspective of the car’s environment, rather than treating each system as discrete as per most current vehicles, and even teaching vehicles how to plan an escape route.
Comcast reportedly called subscriber’s employer to complain about complaint – Comcast isn’t viewed favorably by many consumers, and received a lot of criticism this past summer when a recording was published revealing the difficulty a subscriber had when trying to cancel his service. The latest complaint is worse, as surprising as that may be, and it ends on a sad note: Comcast reportedly contacted the subscriber’s employer and lied about conversations that took place, leading to the subscriber being fired from his job, and now refuses to release any copies of the conversations to prove they did, indeed, happen. The information comes from The Consumerist, which details the plight of former Comcast subscriber Conal, who is said to have signed up for service early last year. The subscription kicked off with issues regarding charges for set-top boxes that he did not activate, and issues with missing bills due to Conal’s last name being misspelled.
TechSpot: History of the Personal Computer, Part 4 – The mighty Wintel empire – This is the fourth installment in a five part series, where we look at the history of the microprocessor and personal computing, from the invention of the transistor to modern day chips.
Car tech and Siri slammed for driver distraction – Capable but complex infotainment systems built into modern car dashboards are dangerously distracting, a driver safety study has concluded, while voice controlled systems like Apple’s Siri have been equally criticized. Hands-free tech intended to maintain a driver’s grip on the wheel can, ironically, cause greater cognitive distraction than actually picking up a phone, a study by the AAA and the University of Utah revealed, testing a number of basic tasks like making calls or changing radio station across cars from Toyota, Mercedes, and other marques.
Something to think about:
“It’s not a matter of whether or not someone’s watching over you. It’s just a question of their intentions.”
– Randy K. Milholland
Today’s Free Downloads:
Comodo BackUp – Comodo BackUp is the straightforward and powerful utility that allows users to quickly and easily create backup copies of critical data.
Free of charge, its features include different types of backups such as disk and partitions backup, files and directories backup, entire registry backup, custom registry keys backup, user settings backup, mail accounts backup, messenger clients backup and system state backup.
Additional features are available such as e-mail reporting, extensive report logs, advanced rule-based filtering, flexible scheduling of backups, space-saving archiving capabilities, password encryption with multiple encryption algorithms, history list for backups and more.
Comodo BackUp is integrated into windows explorer so you can backup files and folders with a simple click.
Protect yourself against ever losing those critical files that took hours to create.
Schedule backups to run automatically at a time that suits you. Send E-mail notifications to team members about the status of a backup job Save Disk space by compressing your backups as compressed CBU files.
Configure in minutes with our intuitive interface Suitable for both beginners and network administrators alike, Comodo BackUp can be set to run at logon before starting your work day, then you can easily restore your data if necessary with a double click.
We all know that making regular backups is a good idea – you’d do it if you knew where to begin, right?
Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit – Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit, formerly ExploitShield by ZeroVulnerabilityLabs, protects you from zero-day exploits targeting browser and application vulnerabilities. Its proprietary technology shields your browser and applications in that critical period between the release of a new exploit and its subsequent security patch. Easy to install and lightweight. Download Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit now and crush the most dangerous breed of malware attack.
Popular software programs contain millions of line of code. Bad guys exploit flaws (vulnerabilities) in the code to deliver malware. Except when they can’t. Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit wraps three layers of security around popular browsers and applications, preventing exploits from compromising vulnerable code. Not an antivirus, but compatible with most antivirus, Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit is a small, specialized shield designed to protect you against one of the most dangerous forms of malware attacks.
Protects Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, and Opera browsers
Protects browser components, including Java, Adobe Reader, Flash, and Shockwave
Defends against drive-by download attacks
Shields vulnerable applications, including Microsoft Office, Adobe Reader, Apple Quicktime, and VLC Player
Blocks unknown and common exploit kits, including Blackhole, Sakura, Phoenix, and Incognito
Is compatible with most common anti-malware and antivirus products
Doesn’t use a signature database—no need for constant updating
In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:
EU’s likely next digital chief takes a swipe at US over data protection – Wasting no time, the European commissioner who could soon be co-leading the EU’s digital agenda is already firing warning shots at the U.S. over data protection.
Andrus Ansip used his confirmation hearing before the European Parliament Monday to warn that the EU might suspend the Safe Harbor data-sharing agreement if U.S. lawmakers don’t get their act together when it comes to protecting European citizen’s data. Ansip is the nominee expected to take over the digital agenda along with Günther Oettinger in a realignment of the Commission’s oversight of that area when Neelie Kroes steps down Nov. 1.
“Safe Harbor is not safe to today,” the 58-year-old former Estonian prime minister said. “Americans have to provide real trust to European citizens. When it comes to protecting data, similar rules and safeguards should apply to all companies wherever they are based. To be worthy of their name, Safe Harbors do need to be safe.
Suspending the data agreement would have major implications for companies such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft, among others, that process data in the U.S. from European citizens. EU laws prohibit the transfer of personal data to non-EU countries that do not meet the EU’s data-protection standards. As part of Safe Harbor, U.S. companies are supposed to meet EU standards in providing data protections for Europeans.
But European citizens are really worried about how the U.S. uses its national security exception, Ansip said. “If we will not get clear answers on how this exception will be used, then of course suspension as an option will stay on the table,” he said.
Twitter sues US government so it can release more information about national security requests – Twitter has filed a lawsuit against the US government, alleging that its First Amendment rights to free speech are being violated by rules that prevent it from disclosing the quantity of national security requests it receives. Twitter is currently able to publish the number of national security letters and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act orders it receives in extremely broad ranges — such as between “0 and 999” — and it argues that this is not narrow enough. It also argues that it should be able to inform the public of what orders it has not received, whereas currently zero falls within that enormous range.
“When the government intrudes on speech, the First Amendment requires that it do so in the most limited way possible,” Twitter writes in a court filing. “The government has failed to meet this obligation.”
Britain’s snooping powers are ‘too weak’, says NCA chief – Keith Bristow, head of of the National Crime Agency (the UK’s FBI), is arguing Britain’s snooping powers are “too weak”.
In an interview with The Guardian, the NCA’s director general said police need new powers to monitor data about emails and phone calls. He admits many don’t see the police case for comms data snooping while arguing that it is nonetheless necessary in order to keep the public safe from serious criminals and terrorists.
“What we have needs to be modernised… we are losing capability and coverage of serious criminals,” Bristow told the left-leaning broadsheet. “Some of our capability is challenged. Very significantly challenged,” he added.
Home Secretary Theresa May last week committed the Conservatives to implementing a communications data bill if the Tories win the general election next year. Giving the state greater access to communications data has been dubbed a “snoopers’ charter” by critics, with some even going so far as to compare it Soviet-era state surveillance.
US says it can hack into foreign-based servers without warrants – The US government may hack into servers outside the country without a warrant, the Justice Department said in a new legal filling in the ongoing prosecution of Ross Ulbricht. The government believes that Ulbricht is the operator of the Silk Road illicit drug website.
Monday’s filing in New York federal court centers on the legal brouhaha of how the government found the Silk Road servers in Iceland. Ulbricht said last week that the government’s position—that a leaky CAPTCHA on the site’s login led them to the IP address—was “implausible” and that the government (perhaps the National Security Agency) may have unlawfully hacked into the site to discover its whereabouts.
“In any event, even if the FBI had somehow ‘hacked’ into the SR Server in order to identify its IP address, such an investigative measure would not have run afoul of the Fourth Amendment,” Turner wrote. “Because the SR Server was located outside the United States, the Fourth Amendment would not have required a warrant to search the server, whether for its IP address or otherwise.”
Turner added, “Given that the SR Server was hosting a blatantly criminal website, it would have been reasonable for the FBI to ‘hack’ into it in order to search it, as any such ‘hack’ would simply have constituted a search of foreign property known to contain criminal evidence, for which a warrant was not necessary.”
NSA’s internal watchdog defends privacy practices – The U.S. National Security Agency takes multiple steps to protect the privacy of the information it collects about U.S. residents under a secretive surveillance program, according to a report from the agency’s privacy office.
Surveillance under presidential Executive Order 12333, which dates back to 1981, generally sets the ground rules for the NSA’s overseas surveillance. It allows the agency to keep the content of U.S. citizens’ communications if they are collected “incidentally” while the agency is targeting overseas communications.
But the surveillance of U.S. residents is conducted with several privacy safeguards in place, ensuring that the NSA collects the right information from the right targets and does not share the collected information inappropriately, according to the NSA Civil Liberties and Privacy Office report, released Tuesday.
NSA safeguards include privacy training for every employee, an oath of office that requires all employees to protect privacy and civil liberties and privacy oversight by six internal organizations, including the office that prepared Tuesday’s report.