Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 6, 2014

158 new malware created every minute;  The best secure messaging apps that protect you from surveillance;  Test your Android phone’s performance with these free benchmarking tools;  Users can’t tell Facebook from a scam;  What’s killing your battery? Android’s top 10 performance-sapping apps;  Pro tip: Migrate iPhone data to your new Android device;  Send text messages straight from the desktop;  Amazon Launches Same-Day Delivery In Toronto And Vancouver;  Tinder Might Offer ‘Undo’ Button—for a Price;  Survey Shows Many Home Networks Are Insecure;  Grand Theft Auto V for PC will include a first-person view, 4K resolution;  Bionic Bird: a flying bird controlled with a smartphone;  No, Seriously: Stop Texting and Driving.

158 new malware created EVERY MINUTE – Malware monitors PandaLabs says 227,747 new malware samples are released every day. The findings from its recent survey found 20 million samples were created in the third quarter of 2014. Three quarters of infections were trojans while only 9 percent were viruses and 4 percent worms. The number of trojans rose 13 percent over the last three months, displacing viruses which fell by 10 percent over the same period. The large number of detected malware samples was filled by production line manufacturing kits, rather than dedicated loving handcraft. Zeus Builder, SpyEye and Citadel were three popular kits that allowed inexperienced vxers to craft malware which could then be obfuscated against some malware detection using commercial packers and crypters followed by tests against anti-virus programs.

The best secure messaging apps that protect you from surveillance – If you use Skype, SnapChat, Facebook chat, WhatsApp, or Google off-the-record chat, then it’s time for you to rethink your digital communications strategy and switch to other more secure messaging programs that better protect your privacy. The EFF evaluated 39 messaging products and provided a Secure Messaging Scorecard to show which ones are easy to use yet secure enough to keep the government from snooping on your messages.

Users can’t tell Facebook from a scam – A new whitepaper from Bitdefender examined victims targeted in 850,000 Facebook scams. It turns out Facebook’s user experience makes it easy for scammers to exploit users. In analyzing 850,000 scams spreading in countries such as the US, the UK, Australia, Germany, Spain, France and Saudi Arabia since October 2012, the researchers found that scammers have infected millions of users with the same tricks over and over again — just repackaged. Bitdefender’s study found out that there’s no such thing as a typical Facebook scam victim — instead, Facebook scams rely on five kinds of user experience clickbait that are products of, and work in concert with, Facebook’s psychological fabric.

What’s killing your battery? Android’s top 10 performance-sapping apps – Is your phone or tablet battery constantly reduced to a sliver of red on the screen? New research has found the worst performance-draining apps on Android devices, and Facebook is the biggest culprit.

Test your Android phone’s performance with these free benchmarking tools – How much do you know about your phone, really? Beyond a name, a price, and vague sense of whether it’s “high end” or not, you’re probably in the dark. Even if you look up the stats, you don’t really know how it performs. The only sure way to know is to run a few benchmarks. This not only gives you an idea of how fast your phone is, but also lets you see how it fares against marketplace rivals or older phones, and can help you troubleshoot problems by comparing against similar phones. Don’t worry, benchmarking your Android phone is easy and cheap. All these tools are free, fun to use, and a few are gorgeous enough to show off to friends.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Who makes the fastest-downloading smartphones in the world? Hint: it’s not Apple – The latest study into which smartphones are the speediest has turned up some surprising winners and losers.

Keep tabs on how often you check your phone with Checky – Just how many times a day do you check your phone? If you aren’t afraid to find out the answer, give Checky a whirl, a free app for iOS and for Android. It may help you curb your habitual phone-checking habits and let you enjoy the rest of the world around you and your electronic device.

Pro tip: Migrate iPhone data to your new Android device – Migrating photos, music, contacts, and calendars from your old iPhone to your new Android device is easy. Jack Wallen explains how.

Tinder Might Offer ‘Undo’ Button—for a Price – Why were you so hasty to swipe left? Why isn’t there any way to undo this grave error? The only option now is to stew in your regret. But soon, that will change. Brace yourself, online daters: Tinder is getting an “undo” button. But the bad news: you’ll have to pay for it.

Chrome’s new Google Drive extension blurs the cloud – Google continues to hammer away at the divide between what lives in the browser and what’s on your computer, releasing a new extension for Chrome that allows files stored in Google Drive to be opened up directly into the relevant app. The plugin effectively further blurs the lines between the cloud and local apps, bypassing the need to first download a copy to your PC or Mac and also making it more likely that you’ll have the latest version stored on Drive too.

Send text messages straight from the desktop with Pushbullet update – Pushbullet performs a ton of useful tasks, connecting your Android phone with your desktop browser to sync notifications and texts. An update Wednesday now lets you send out SMS messages through Pushbullet’s Chrome extension.

Net Neutrality protests planned for Thursday: Time to learn your chant – Internet activists are planning a series of protests across the US on Thursday against a “hybrid” net neutrality plan leaked late last week. Protesters will gather outside the White House and in 14 other cities at 6pm to protest the plan “to show President Obama and his FCC chairman that the public will accept nothing less than lasting net neutrality through Title II reclassification.” Mirroring protests in Hungary, where the government was forced to back down on a proposed broadband tax, those attending will be asked to hold their cell phones in the air and post pictures to social networks with the hashtags #RealNetNeutrality and #ReclassifyTheInternet.

Google gives Microsoft office an awkward hug with new plugin – Google’s given Microsoft Office an awkward hug by refreshing Drive so it plays nice with desktop applications. Drive is Google’s share ‘n’ sync offering and integrates tightly with its apps: drop a document into Drive and you can read or edit it in the Docs in-browser word processor. That tool’s not to everyone’s tastes and misses a few features found in desktop word processors. It’s possible to use other productivity applications to open documents created in Docs if one downloads them and then opens them with one’s local app of choice. That’s obviously an inelegant way to do things, so Google has now created a Chrome plugin and new desktop Drive client that instead offers the chance to suck a document out of its cloud and into the desktop app of your choice.

Google Switchblade

Eee brand returns, as 11-inch ASUS EeeBook X205 Windows 8.1 laptop goes on sale for $199 – ASUS has resurrected its budget-focused Eee brand on a new 11-inch Windows 8.1 notebook, which features a Bay Trail-T processor, 2GB RAM, up to 64GB storage, a webcam and microHDMI port for just $199.

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Amazon Launches Same-Day Delivery In Toronto And Vancouver – Amazon is bringing its same-day delivery service to Toronto and Vancouver, giving Canadians a taste of a service that has been available to their counterparts south of the border for a while now. The same-day service requires that you have a postal code (that’s Canadian for zip code friends!) that matches its eligibility requirement, and that you order before 12 PM.

Selfie toys post baby’s photo automatically – Without the express permission of your child, are you allowed to post photos of your children on Facebook? Of course you do. But designer Laura Cornet wants you to ask – and wants you to discuss – whether or not permission is something you should attain from everyone, even your infant. To do this, she’s created a set of toys that activate automatic shares of photos, sounds, and movements of the child that touches them. Automatically, and without the parents’ permission.

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Windows XP’s user share plunge not real, just a data adjustment – The Internet metrics company that claimed Windows XP’s user share plummeted by a record amount last month said Tuesday that it had struck several Chinese websites from its tallies, causing the dramatic decline. Net Applications argued that its estimates are now “more accurate.”

Project management apps: How three popular picks stack up – Whether you’re a visual planner or a more straightforward list-maker, we’ve got the perfect project management app for you.

Australia leads in cloud services adoption: Dell – Australia’s ability to adopt virtualisation at such a high penetration level has opened up the country to become a strong cloud service adopter, too.

Fedora 21 beta is ready for your testing pleasure – Previously, Fedora was first and foremost a desktop distribution that also contained server elements. If all went well, the new features introduced in Fedora would eventually appear in Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). This go-around, there are three Fedora spins: one for the cloud, one for the server, and one for the workstation. Fedora now uses a modular-style design. So, while each spin is for a specific use case, they all share the basics of the Linux kernel, RPM, yum, systemd, and Anaconda. On top of this foundation, each includes the following features:

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Security:

Survey Shows Many Home Networks Are Insecure – If you’re reading this, you almost certainly have an antivirus or security suite installed on all of your PCs. You may have a mobile security solution for your smartphone. But did you know that your home router could be vulnerable to attack? A recent survey by Avast shows that many home routers are vulnerable to attack.

‘Dridex’ malware revives Microsoft Word macro attacks – A recent piece of malware that aims to steal your online banking credentials revives a decade-old technique to install itself on your PC. Called Dridex, the malware tries to steal your data when you log into an online bank account by creating HTML fields that ask you to enter additional information like your social security number. Thats not unusual in itself: Dridex is the successor to a similar piece of malware called Cridex which also targets your bank account. Whats different is how Dridex tries to infect your computer in the first place. Its delivered in the form of a macro, buried in a Microsoft Word document in a spam email message.

New iOS malware spreads through infected desktop software – iPhone users are usually considered safe from malware, but a new report from Palo Alto Networks suggests that reputation may be about to change. Palo Alto’s researchers have discovered a bug called Wirelurker, which the company says may have already impacted hundreds of thousands of users. The bug is primarily spreading through the Maiyadi App Store, a third-party source for OS X software in China, and researchers estimated the infected apps have been downloaded 356,104 times already.

EFF introduces the “Secure Messaging Scorecard” project – In an effort to encourage companies to become more transparent and secure, the EFF has begun a “Secure Messaging Scoreboard” listing dozens of apps and their security features, or lack thereof.

Microsoft releases free anti-malware for Azure VMs – Free anti-malware software is not hard to find: even reputable vendors offer product at the low, low, price of $0.00 for client devices. Microsoft is now doing the same for servers – or at least for virtual machines in its Azure cloud with a new offering called (deep breath now) Microsoft Antimalware for Azure Cloud Services and Virtual Machines.

German police searches 121 homes in piracy raid – The German police have carried out a massive anti-piracy raid with a considerable amount of storage media confiscated from the suspects of the 121 homes which were raided.

Company News:

Microsoft named world’s second most valuable brand – Microsoft has been named the world’s second most valuable brand at $63 billion, according to Forbes, due in part to its massive sales and promotional deals, but still falling behind Apple.

IBM takes on enterprise cloud security – As organizations increasingly move their operations to the cloud, they need to remain vigilant against security breaches. IBM had this in mind as it prepared a new portfolio of services designed to help secure an enterprise’s cloud operations with the same rigor that has come to be expected with in-house operations.

Qualcomm misses Q4 earnings, revenue targets with weak outlook – Qualcomm also lamented problems it is facing in China concerning its 3G/4G LTE rollout as well as an investigation into its business practices.

Microsoft to focus on search apps with Bing – Microsoft’s director of search admitted that its Bing search engine can’t compete with Google search in a full-on faceoff, but the company will focus instead on search applications. Stefan Weitz, who leads Microsoft’s search efforts, told an audience at the Web Summit conference in Dublin on Tuesday that he’s less interested in Bing as a stand-alone search engine and more interested in integrating the technology into the company’s other products.

Lenovo quarterly profit climbs with boost in PC market share – Lenovo Group announced on Thursday that its net profit for the second quarter rose 19 percent as it increased its presence in the global PC and smartphone markets. The Chinese computer giant recorded a net profit of $262.1 million for the three-month period ended September 30, up from $219.7 million a year earlier. Analysts had been expecting an average of $259.8 million, according to estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Games and Entertainment:

Grand Theft Auto V for PC will include a first-person view, 4K resolution support – In exchange for being so patient while console gamers have been playing Grand Theft Auto V for more than a freakin’ year now, PC gamers will be tossed some pretty delicious bones when Rockstar’s multi-character epic finally lands on computers: 4K resolution support and a nifty looking first-person mode.

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The Sailor’s Dream takes you on an oneiric sea voyage – Swedish developer Simogo has been doing some fascinating things lately. After the release of its first three arcade-style titles — Kosmo Spin, Bumpy Road and Beat Sneak Bandit — it seemed to come out of nowhere with Year Walk, an eerily beautiful cryptic puzzle game with a story that unfolded piece by tiny piece. This was followed by Device 6, an interactive narrative that became even more cryptic. The Sailor’s Dream is the culmination of the “trilogy” that began with Year Walk and Device 6, and it shares some DNA in common with its predecessors.

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Microsoft says it’s delivered “hundreds of new features” to Xbox One this year, writes a list – Microsoft says that its monthly updates have brought “hundreds of new features” to the Xbox One during its first year on sale, and has published a list of over 100 of its top additions to the console.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

No, Seriously: Stop Texting and Driving – We all know the risks of texting while driving, yet a new survey by AT&T shows that a majority of motorists ignore the consequences. According to AT&T and Dr. David Greenfield, founder of The Center for Internet and Technology Addiction, the beep of a cell phone can provide a natural high that most people can’t resist.

Bionic Bird: a flying bird controlled with a smartphone – Those windup toy birds have received a modern makeover, and it is called the Bionic Bird. This device looks like a bird and flies like a bird — flapping wings included — and is controlled using a smartphone rather than a remote. The Bionic Bird is the first of its kind, says the maker, and is bid as the “only furtive civilian drone.” Indeed when you see it, the first thing that will pop in your mind is There goes a bird, not oh look, a drone.

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Can you handle the truth? Everybody loves the sound of ‘distorted’ music – Just how much distortion — and the favored type of distortion, analog or digital — varies from listener to listener, and that’s where the story gets complicated.

Watch a bowling ball and feather fall at same speed in world’s largest vacuum – The BBC’s Human Universe heads to the world’s largest vacuum chamber to test one of the most oft-repeated examples in all of physics.

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The smartest rear-view mirror in the world – The App-Tronics SmartNav 5 rear-view mirror, winner of a Best in Show award at SEMA, combines navigation, video recording, camera, police radar detector and the simple ability to see what’s behind your car.

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The SmartNav 5 incorporates navigation software, displaying driving directions in the center of its rear-view mirror.

Surface Pro 3 used as iPad stands by CNN commentators – Back in September, Microsoft’s marketing efforts for the Surface Pro 3 didn’t go as expected when sports announcers forgot what it was called, instead referring to them as iPads and “iPad-like tools”. A similar situation unfolded on CNN during the live election coverage this week, where the commentators were seen decked out with snazzy Surface Pro 3 units. Nothing seemed amiss…at first. As the broadcast wore on, however, it became apparent that the Surfaces weren’t being used in the intended manner.

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California Just Became the First State to Defelonize Drug Use – On Tuesday, Californians voted on ballot proposals surrounding issues like water supply, health insurance, and state budget reform. But none of them garnered the same level of national interest as Proposition 47, the criminal justice reform initiative that promised to thin out the state’s saturated prisons by reducing six classifications of nonviolent drug and theft-related crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. The measure passed, and California will now become the fir​st state to defelonize nearly all accounts of drug possession with the intent of personal use.

A New Bullet Can Make 3D-Printed Guns A Reality – 3D printed guns aren’t very compelling right now. Because of the vagaries of plastic and the methods used to manufacture weapons like the Liberator, your gun can turn itself into a hand grenade if you’re not careful. But engineer Michael Crumling might have a solution.

Something to think about:

“That which used to the source of everyone’s paranoia, have now become themselves far more paranoid.”

–     Ken Babstock    (Poet, Methodist Hatchet)

Today’s Free Downloads:

VSUsbLogon – VSUsbLogon provides a secure way to login to Windows via a USB device, replacing the password based Windows login. You don’t need to remember and type your Windows password (but your system is still password protected). Users can be automatically logged into Windows as they insert the USB flash drive into the USB port. VSUsbLogon allows you to use PIN code to login Windows when the USB device has been connected.

VSUsbLogon supports USB HDD, USB flash drives and other USB devices like iPod, iPhone, Samsung Galaxy ….

All user data is encrypted via AES 256 algorithm. And all user data is encrypted using a unique encryption key that is dependent from the unique user settings.

Limitations:

This program is advertising supported and may offer to install third party programs that are not required for the program to run. These may include a toolbar, changing your homepage, default search engine or other third party programs. Please watch the installation carefully to opt out.

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BurnAware Free – BurnAware Free is the free version of BurnAware Premium, a popular free CD, DVD, Blu-ray Disc burning software available for Windows.

Using this program you can easily create and burn Audio and MP3 CD, Data and DVD-Video disc, ISO and Cue Image, erase or format rewritable disc, copy your CD or DVD to ISO image.

Features:

Create data, bootable and multisession CD/DVD/Blu-ray Discs

Create Audio CDs and MP3 CD/DVD/Blu-ray Discs

Create DVD-Video

Record boot disc images

Create and record disc images

Supports all current hardware interfaces (IDE/SCSI/USB/1394/SATA)

Supports UDF/ISO9660/Joliet Bridged file systems (any combination)

On-the-fly writing for all image types (no staging to hard drive first)

Auto-verification of written files

Supports CD-Text and unicode characters

Supports Windows NT/2000/XP/Vista/7 (32 and 64 Bit), no drivers required

Limitations:

This program is advertising supported and may offer to install third party programs that are not required for the program to run. These may include a toolbar, changing your homepage, default search engine or other third party programs. Please watch the installation carefully to opt out.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

NSA director: We share most of the [crap] bugs we find! – The National Security Agency (NSA) is only holding back a teeny, tiny number of code secrets, with director Admiral Mike Rogers promising the world the spook collective shares ‘most’ of the vulnerabilities it finds.

The agency head made the remarks on his second visit to Silicon Valley since his appointment in April this year.

Admiral Rogers told students delegates that US President Barack Obama asked the agency that it should share more of its vulnerabilities with the public.

“The president has been very specific to us in saying ‘the balance I want you to strike will be largely focused on when you find vulnerabilities, we’re going to share them’,” Admiral Rogers said Monday.

“By orders of magnitude, when we find new vulnerabilities, we share them.”

Feds investigate Homeland Security background checker security breach – A contractor running background checks for the US Department of Homeland Security has suffered a potentially embarrassing security breach.

The security snafu at USIS reportedly led to the theft of some DHS employees’ personal information.

The recently discovered breach prompted DHS to suspend all work with USIS, pending the results of an FBI investigation. The Office of Personnel Management also suspended work with USIS, as a precaution, and in what may be a related move OPM is declining to exercise its remaining options on USIS’ Background Investigation Fieldwork and Background Investigation Support Services contracts.

After Snowden slams Dropbox (twice), CEO responds: ‘It’s a trade-off’ – Edward Snowden has thrown rocks at file storage service Dropbox on two occasions. The first time, the U.S. surveillance whistleblower called it “hostile to privacy.” The second? He simply called on its users to “get rid” of it.

Now, Dropbox chief executive Drew Houston responded to those accusations. Spoiler alert: he could’ve done better, considering he’s also appealing to the enterprise and business customers his company supports, the money-makers of his show.

The Edward Snowden revelations have rocked governments, global businesses, and the technology world. Here is our perspective on the still-unfolding implications along with IT security and risk management best practices that technology leaders can put to good use.

He said although users could do more to encrypt their data, it’s a “trade-off between usability, convenience, and security,” saying that the company offers people “choice.”

Those trade-offs, he suggested, meant that although users can encrypt their Dropbox storage with third-party tools (and are allowed to), Dropbox’s own features will be degraded, like file previews, search, and revision histories.

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4 Comments

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

4 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – November 6, 2014

  1. Home Network Security.
    The latest version of Avast also includes a new tool that actually checks your Router and makes you aware of many of the most common security flaws that it’s able to detect in your settings.
    More information is available at:
    https://blog.avast.com/2014/11/05/your-home-network-is-at-risk-of-cybersecurity-attacks/

    • Hi Bob,

      Despite 2 attempts to load Avast (for the reason you mention), I’ve had no success. Following each install, I’ve encountered a BSOD. Following yesterday’s attempt, I had to do a system restore and a boot repair to get the system up.

      I’m sure this is system specific based on 2 apps I’m running – Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit and GlassWire.

      I’ll follow up with you on this one once I’ve cured the problem.

      Have a great weekend.

      Best,

      Bill