Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 23, 2015

Which Antivirus Offers the Best Protection? AV-Test Reports;  Privacy is dead, Harvard professors tell Davos forum;  5 tips for finding anything, about anyone, online;  Yes, 123456 is the most common password, but here’s why that’s misleading;  How to Quit Social Media (and Why You Should);  How to watch the Super Bowl on your Android phone or tablet;  Latest Firefox beta gives users more control over data;  Spotify Touch Preview reveals new way to discover music;  Microsoft’s Spartan browser: What’s under the hood;  Attacks using stolen credentials are on the rise;  Internet attack could shut down US gas stations;  Google to Firefox users: Dump Yahoo for us;  How Technology Is Making All of Us Less Trusting;  The best movies streaming on Netflix, Hulu, Crackle, and Vudu this weekend;  Cheerful tweets may mean a healthier heart.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Which Antivirus Offers the Best Protection? AV-Test Reports – If you count both major players and smaller companies, you’ll find dozens of antivirus products available. Which one should you choose to protect your own PCs? If you were choosing between different cars, you could take test drives, see how each suits your needs. But you wouldn’t want to test drive an antivirus using live malware! Fortunately, independent labs like AV-Test Institute do the necessary research for you. The latest report from this lab helps identify the best antivirus products.


Privacy is dead, Harvard professors tell Davos forum – Imagine a world where mosquito-sized robots fly around stealing samples of your DNA. Or where a department store knows from your buying habits that you’re pregnant even before your family does. That is the terrifying dystopian world portrayed by a group of Harvard professors at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Thursday, where the assembled elite heard that the notion of individual privacy is effectively dead. “Welcome to today. We’re already in that world,” said Margo Seltzer, a professor in computer science at Harvard University. “Privacy as we knew it in the past is no longer feasible… How we conventionally think of privacy is dead,” she added.

5 tips for finding anything, about anyone, online – I think everyone should have decent online stalking skills. Not because I condone stalking, but because knowledge is power — if you don’t know how to find people online, how do you know what people can find about you online? Googling yourself is like checking your credit report for inaccuracies: it’s only effective as a preventative measure if you do it thoroughly and routinely. Whether you’re looking for yourself or a friend (no judgment), here are five tips for finding out anything, about anyone, online:

Kim Dotcom’s Mega launches Skype competitor MegaChat – Despite ongoing controversy surrounding his tech inventions, Dotcom releases a beta-stage Web tool that provides users with end-to-end encrypted video and audio communication.

Yes, 123456 is the most common password, but here’s why that’s misleading – I recently worked with SplashData to compile its 2014 Worst Passwords List, and yes, 123456 tops the list. In the data set of 3.3 million passwords I used for SplashData, almost 20,000 of those were in fact 123456. But how often do you genuinely see people using that, or the second most common password, password, in real life? Are people still really that careless with their passwords? While 123456 is absolutely the most common password, that statistic is a bit misleading.

Twitter prompts top users to stop tweeting Instagram links – Twitter and Instagram are battling over mobile photo-sharing, and it is a story that has been long running. Back in December of 2012, Instagram changed the way its photos showed up on Twitter so that the latter’s users are forced to click a link and view the images on Instagram’s own site/app. For its part, Twitter has made filters available to users for sprucing up photos and making it more appealing to post images directly in tweets rather than through a different service. Now Twitter is upping its game.

Spotify Touch Preview reveals new way to discover music – The newest version of Spotify makes full use of the high-powered nature of your touchscreen device. With this feature in play, you’re able to drag your thumb around the screen, moving through songs as you do so. Previewing each song, album, or artist as you like, all on a grid of images that make discovering music a visual experience, as well. This newest feature is only available – at first – on iOS devices. That means iPad and iPhone, and just the latest couple of generations.


How to Quit Social Media (and Why You Should) – If social media has you down, here’s a guide to slowly but surely walk away, temporarily or for good.

Windows 10 on small tablets looks like a miniature PC – While many had hoped the Windows Phone interface would simply scale up, it seems Microsoft is taking the approach of scaling the Windows 10 desktop down to small tablets. There’s a taskbar, a desktop mode, and all the regular Windows apps you’d expect to see. While we’re only getting a look at small Intel-powered tablets, it’s clear the direction here is to make it identical to the desktop version, but optimized for touch.


CNET’s ultimate travel photography kit guide – Planning a holiday this year? Check out our guide to see what photography gear to take with you to help capture some stunning shots.

Microsoft’s Spartan browser: What’s under the hood – Microsoft has revealed a few new tidbits about Spartan, its new ‘modern’ browser for Windows 10, and its relationship with IE.


Picattoo Turns Instagram Photos Into Temporary Tattoos – Say hello to wearable photo-sharing. Picattoo is a newly launched service that will turn your Instagram photos into temporary tattoos — so you can slap your very own branding on your wrist. Or forehead. But probably your wrist.


How to watch the Super Bowl on your Android phone or tablet – NBC will live stream the game, and you shouldn’t even have to log in or provide any sort of pay TV credentials. The network will even stream the halftime show this year. It will stream ads too, though they won’t necessarily be the same ads that air on broadcast TV. Here’s how you can ready now, so you’re not fussing with installing apps during the big game.

The most obvious user for Linux isn’t who you think – The idea that Linux is perfect for the average user should be a no brainer for anyone who has anything to do with IT. And yes, I understand that legacy software still exists, and there are situations where Linux simply doesn’t fit. But more often, that is becoming outside the norm — and the browser will soon become the only platform of importance. So, why not start the migration of the clients that best fit this need now? Take a brief moment to educate them on Linux and send them on their way. “Teach a man to fish” aptly applies here.


Latest Firefox beta gives users more control over data – Mozilla is adding new capabilities in the beta version of Firefox 36 to give users and website owners more control over what data, if any, is sent to other websites during browsing.

Fujitsu psychology tool profiles users at risk of cyberattacks – Fujitsu wants to make computer security more personalized with profiling software based on psychology. The manufacturer’s Fujitsu Laboratories is developing an enterprise tool that can identify and advise people who are more vulnerable to cyberattacks, based on how they use email and Web browsers as well as their keyboard and mouse actions. Rather than being like an antivirus program, the software is more like “an action log analysis than looks into the potential risks of a user,” a spokesman for the lab said via email. “It judges risk based on human behavior and then assigns a security countermeasure for a given user.”

Australians to get one login for government services – Australians will be offered a single digital identity to access services across federal, state, and local branches of government.

Security For Startups – Until your startup can afford a CISO, how do you protect your mission, IP, brand, assets, employees, and capital from cyber threats? For startups with limited resources and intense focus, what’s the right measured response to these threats? To help our portfolio companies answer these questions, I surveyed Silicon Valley startups to understand their regrets and successes in mitigating cyber losses. I interviewed technical founders, Engineering VPs, CTOs and CISOs to hear what measures they wish they’d taken sooner, or in some cases, later. I also tapped security gurus like Dan Farmer (author, inventor of SATAN), Barrett Lyon (anti-DDoS warrior, hero of Fatal System Error), and Richard Clarke (author, top cyber intelligence officer in the White House and State Department).


Attacks using stolen credentials are on the rise – Organizations are seeing a sharp increase in attacks using stolen account credentials, with crooks using new techniques to beat fraud detection systems, according to Gartner. Gartner clients have reported a “significant rise” over the last two months in the use of stolen credentials to access accounts, wrote fraud expert Avivah Litan in a blog post Thursday. The account credentials used in the attacks are likely being obtained from data breaches at major services. Litan cited the discovery of a gang likely based in Russia called CyberVor that amassed 1.2 billion login credentials and 500 million email addresses from a variety of services.

Internet attack could shut down US gas stations – A device used to monitor the gasoline levels at refueling stations across the United States—known as an automated tank gauge or ATG—could be remotely accessed by online attackers, manipulated to cause alerts, and even set to shut down the flow of fuel, according to research to be published on Thursday. The vulnerability of the gauges used to monitor gasoline tanks is the latest security issue plaguing consumer and industrial devices that are increasingly being connected to the Internet. Often called the Internet of Things, connecting such technology to the wider Internet poses security risks because many of the devices were created without much thought to security.

Adobe fixes just one of two zero-day flaw in Flash Player – Adobe Systems released Flash Player for Windows and Mac, Flash Player for Linux and Flash Player Extended Support Release These updates address a vulnerability identified in the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures database as CVE-2015-0310. Adobe is aware of an exploit for this vulnerability “in the wild” being used to attack older versions of Flash Player, the company said in a security advisory.

Adobe to release patch next week for ‘critical’ Flash zero-day under attack – Adobe says it will deliver a fix for a newly discovered flaw that is being used in drive-by download attacks, but the patch won’t be ready until at least next Monday.

Google’s Project Zero reveals three Apple OS X zero-day vulnerabilities – Google’s security team has disclosed three separate zero-day vulnerabilities on Apple’s OS X platform. It seems annoying Microsoft wasn’t enough.

Company News:

Google to Firefox users: Dump Yahoo for us – After striking a deal late last year, Yahoo has been the default search engine for Firefox users in the US for the past few months. But Google wants them back.

BlackBerry CEO Wants Legislators To Make Developing BlackBerry Apps Mandatory – At this point, BlackBerry and Windows Phone fans are probably used to having a much smaller selection of apps than their counterparts on iOS and Android smartphones. After all, diehard devotees of BlackBerry and Windows Phone, which both lag dramatically behind Android and iOS in terms of market share, still bought their smartphones in spite of their limited app ecosystems.

Britain’s second-largest carrier O2 to be bought out in $15 billion deal – Hong Kong-based telecommunications giant Hutchison Whampoa is poised to purchase Britain’s second-biggest wireless carrier, O2, in a deal reportedly worth upwards of £10 billion ($15 billion). Hutchison Whampoa — owned by Chinese billionaire Li Ka-shing — already owns Three, another major cell phone provider in the United Kingdom. Should Hutchison Whampoa successfully purchase O2 from its current owner, Spanish firm Telefónica, then Ka-shing’s company would create the UK’s largest mobile group.

Verizon says it isn’t two-faced: Allegation is “frivolous… histrionics” – Verizon is urging the Federal Communications Commission to reject a call for an investigation into statements it has made on utility rules, net neutrality, and its fiber network. Verizon was accused of “deceiv[ing] the FCC” by telecom analyst Bruce Kushnick of New Networks Institute and audit director Tom Allibone of telecom customer advocacy group Teletruth. Verizon has used its status as a telephone utility to gain favorable government treatment of its fiber network even while telling the FCC that applying similar rules to Internet service would deter private investment. Kushnick and Allibone called Verizon “the ‘Janus’ of telecom,” referring to a two-faced god of Roman mythology.

Games and Entertainment:

Amazon opens “Transparent” series to everyone for one day – Netflix has dominated public attention when it comes to original series, but competitor Amazon has scored its first big series’ win with Transparent, a cleverly named series that touches on some heavy issues through a series of characters including Maura. The series has been available for a little while now on Amazon’s own video service, and it has found favor with viewers — so much so that it scored a couple of Golden Globe awards this month. In celebration of that, Amazon is removing that paywall for a single day, allowing anyone to watch the show.


The best movies streaming on Netflix, Hulu, Crackle, and Vudu this weekend – Don’t waste your precious downtime looking for great movies to watch this weekend. Choose from these picks from our expert critic.


Lucy – Scarlett Johansson

I Played a Truck Simulator Video Game for 30 Hours and Have Never Felt More at Peace – I don’t play many sims, but I was intrigued by Euro Truck Simulator 2. Not because I had some burning desire to drive heavy goods vehicles around Germany, but because I heard from a few people that, honestly, seriously, it’s really good. So I had a go, as a joke, and ended up playing it for over 30 hours. That’s an entire day and some change I’ve spent driving along imaginary highways, obeying the speed limit, delivering wood shavings to Stuttgart and hauling powdered milk to Aberdeen. The game recreates a huge chunk of Britain and continental Europe. It’s not to scale, because that would be insane, but it still takes ages to drive across it.


Euro Truck Simulator 2 gameplay

DreamWorks Animation will make fewer movies because not enough people are seeing them – DreamWorks Animation plans to cut around 500 jobs and reduce its film output from three per year to two per year as part of a major restructuring meant to improve its profitability. The studio, known for Shrek and the Madagascar series, has struggled at the box office in recent years despite finally finding some critical success with How to Train Your Dragon. Continued box-office misses have put DreamWorks Animation in a tough place. Twice this year, other companies have considered buying it, though neither purchase — from SoftBank or Hasbro — panned out.


Nvidia GeForce GTX 960 graphics card review: Maxwell meets PC gaming’s sweet spot – With the GeForce GTX 980 and 970 firmly in command of the premium graphics card market, Nvidia’s setting its sights on the crucial 1080p enthusiast segment with the GTX 960, the first truly mainstream iteration of its powerful, yet stunningly power-efficient “Maxwell” processor architecture. The GTX 960 delivers outstanding 1080p gaming capabilities, rocking a silky-smooth 60 frames per seconds in even demanding titles with most of the bells and whistles turned on. And priced at just $200, the GTX 960 is poised to make some waves.


Don’t panic! DirectX12 won’t require a new graphics card after all – You won’t actually need a new graphics card to run Microsoft’s new DirectX 12 API, which will be baked into Windows 10 later this year. Microsoft has formally confirmed that modern GPUs will indeed work with DX12 afterall. The PC gaming site Rock Paper Shotgun threw people into panic mode when it reported that current GPUs—including cards purchased within the past few months—would not work with DX12. Microsoft told PCWorld that the initial reports were incorrect.

Off Topic (Sort of):

How Technology Is Making All of Us Less Trusting – That’s the takeaway from the 2015 Trust Barometer survey, released by public relations firm Edelman every year at the World Economic Forum in Davos. What’s interesting is how much people blame technology and the speed of technological change for the feeling of unease in the world today. Two to one, consumers in all of the countries surveyed felt that technology was moving too quickly for them to cope with, and that governments and business weren’t doing enough to assess the long term impact of shifts like GMO foods, fracking, disruptors like Uber or Apple Pay, or any of the the myriad other digital services that effect privacy and security of people and companies. That belies the conventional wisdom amongst tech gurus like, say, Jeff Bezos, who once said that, “New inventions and things that customers like are usually good for society.” Maybe, but increasingly people aren’t feeling that way.

Cheerful tweets may mean a healthier heart – A large-scale analysis of language used on Twitter adds to the evidence that negative emotions are directly linked to heart disease. For the study, Kern and her team looked at public tweets published between 2009 and 2010. They analyzed the use of words that reflected emotions and behavior that may be triggered by strong feelings. The data involved 1,300 U.S. counties containing 88 percent of the country’s population. Counties where tweets included a lot of four-letter expletives, words like “hate” and other negative language were found to have higher rates of coronary heart disease than those where positive language — words such as “wonderful” or “friends” — was more common. The authors say using Twitter may be an accurate litmus test for public health, because researchers are not restricted to only collecting data through a limited number of questions created for a study. Using social media is also a cost-effective means for collecting data.


Psychological Science

Cars: Ford Model T – How to drive the car that got the world moving.


Meth-carrying drone crashes near US-Mexico border – The Tijuana Municipal Police Department has revealed that a drone carrying crystal meth crashed into a superstore’s parking lot near the U.S.-Mexico border earlier this week. The remote-controlled aircraft was loaded with packages containing 3 kilogram (6.6 pounds) of methamphetamine divided into six packets. The police believe the aircraft was most likely being used for cross-neighborhood ferrying of drugs rather than across the border, which is heavily guarded. Furthermore, they believe that the plane drone might have crashed because of the excessive load being attached to its underside.


Here’s why rain smells, presented in slow-mo – There’s a word for the scent that comes with the rain after a long, warm period of dry weather – it’s called Petrichor. This week, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have published a study – and a rather fascinating video – that shows how rain gives off this scent. Rain releases a smell much in the same way champagne releases its scent through bubbles – with tiny bursts of aerosols. Like miniature spray bottles aiming for your nose, raindrops are able to smell just like rain.


Something to think about:

“Abnormal is so common, it’s practically normal.”

–    Cory Doctorow

Today’s Free Downloads:

YoWindow – Watch weather like never before on Windows and Mac. See the weather picture, not just numbers. This is a new way of weather watching. Enjoy the weather!


Weather picture, not just numbers

Real cloud coverage, rain/snow, fog, grass swings to the wind, Sun, Moon, mist, thunderstorms…

Full featured weather station

Time-scroll – weather forecast at any moment

Turn any picture into landscape or browse our collection

Temperature near Windows clock

Surprises 🙂


In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

EU should oblige Internet firms to hand over encryption keys, says antiterrorist advisor – Internet and telecommunications companies should be obliged to share encryption keys with police and intelligence agencies to help them fight terrorism, the European Union’s Counter-Terrorism Coordinator has advised.

It’s a remarkable suggestion, because companies such as Google and Facebook have only just begun encrypting their Internet traffic to shield it from intelligence agencies, after documents leaked by Edward Snowden detailed the depth of government surveillance programs.

EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove suggested that the European Commission “should be invited to explore rules obliging Internet and telecommunications companies operating in the EU to provide … access of the relevant national authorities to communications (i.e. share encryption keys),” according to a leaked document published by civil rights group Statewatch.

In that document, De Kerchove sets out his views on anti-terrorism measures to be taken in the EU in preparation for a meeting of EU justice and home affairs ministers in Riga next week.

California cops hope to expand facial recognition, “eCrime” head says – California’s top digital cop told an assembled crowd of law enforcement, civil libertarians, and concerned citizens that the “possibilities are limitless” when it comes to using facial recognition to solve crimes.

“It doesn’t require a front face shot,” Robert Morgester, the senior assistant attorney general and the head of the state’s eCrime Unit, said on Wednesday. “The software has become so robust that you can do a side shot. If mugshots are in use—each region has their own database of mugshots—and agents can query pictures of a known suspect.”

That was just one of a handful of surveillance technologies that Morgester ran through—he explored the law enforcement benefits of not only facial recognition, but also mobile DNA testing, license plate readers, and drones. He faced off with an attorney from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Jennifer Lynch, who eloquently articulated counter-arguments and raised privacy concerns.

The two of them spoke during a forum on Wednesday called “Protecting Our Communities, Respecting Our Liberties,” which was organized by the California Attorney General’s Office.


Robert Morgester (right), the California Senior Assistant Attorney General, debated with Jennifer Lynch (center), an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation.



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

4 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 23, 2015

  1. Av-Test is still using an old version of Avast. AV Comparatives used Avast 2015 and Avast is rated towards the top. AV’s also evolve to fight the newest foes. 🙂

  2. academix2015

    Reblogged this on Academic Avenue and commented:
    Important information on antivirus software