How Secure is Your Android? Mobile Antivirus Apps Tested; Take Google’s Security Checkup, Get 2GB Of Free Google Drive Space; 3G vs. 4G: What’s the Difference? Facebook’s Free Mobile Internet App Now Available in India; 3 power tools to supercharge your browser bookmarks; Facebook takes on Craigslist with ‘For Sale Groups’ ; DARPA: Nothing on the Internet is secure, including cars; Amazon’s Newest Tool Lets Anyone Host Giveaways Online; Samsung smart TVs inserting ads into third-party apps; Target pulls the plug on its digital video service; Atari reboots Asteroids; It’s Time To Rethink Our Smart Things; Lies, Damn Lies and Viral Content.
How Secure is Your Android? Mobile Antivirus Apps Tested – Most of us will never see our Android antivirus apps spit out a warning because most of us will never encounter malware on our phones. So how can you tell if your Android antivirus is actually protecting your phone against the malware that sometimes sneaks onto Google Play or is installed by an overbearing spouse? Independent testing lab AV-Test is here with the answers.
Wickr uses purr-fect cat GIFs to teach us about online security – Staying safe online is getting more difficult. Wickr’s guide to online security teaches us how to be safe, using something we can all understand: cat GIFs.
Facebook’s Free Mobile Internet App Now Available in India – Facebook is making good on its goal to deliver Internet access to “the next 5 billion people” around the world who currently don’t have it. The Internet giant this week launched its Internet.org app in India, offering free basic Web services to millions of people in the second-most populous country on the planet. The app is now available in six different Indian states —Tamil Nadu, Mahararashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Kerala, and Telangana —offering residents access to more than three dozen Web services.
Take Google’s Security Checkup, Get 2GB Of Free Google Drive Space – To give you a bit of extra motivation to check on your security settings in Google, the company is giving away 2GB of permanent Drive space to anybody who goes through its Security Checkup within the next week. I just went through the process and it’s pretty straightforward (or as a Google spokesperson told me, “my mom could understand this – and that’s often not true with online security!”). While working your way through the wizard, you’ll check your recovery information, recent activity, account permissions and passwords, as well as your two-factor authentication settings.
New app to be launched later this year in the UK that tracks children’s phone use – An app that can see almost everything that children are doing on their smartphones, along with their location will be launched in the UK later this year for parents. Does this present a privacy issue?
Dropbox has made a Chrome plugin that lets you directly add Dropbox content to Gmail – In an effort to rival Google’s own Google Drive cloud hosting platform, Dropbox has developed a Chrome plugin which seamlessly merges with Gmail and allows a user to add Dropbox content directly to emails. The plugin is fairly straight forward. After installing it from the Chrome Web Store, it adds a circle button with a dropbox icon next to the ‘send’ button. Pressing that will open up an interface somewhat similar to Dropbox’s web file browser and allow you to select the files you’d like to add to the email.
3G vs. 4G: What’s the Difference? – For average consumers, ‘3G’ and ‘4G’ are two of the most mysterious terms in the mobile technology dictionary, but they’re used relentlessly to sell phones and tablets. If you’re shopping for a new phone, the answer isn’t clear-cut, and you shouldn’t always go for the higher number. Our primer will help explain which technology to pick.
Google Injects Health Facts Into Knowledge Graph – Google notes today that one in 20 searches performed using Google products is health-related. In a blog announcing Knowledge Graph’s medical injection, Google product manager Prem Ramaswami says U.S. users will shortly start to see “relevant medical facts” alongside their search results when they ask about “common health conditions”. Detailing “common health conditions” appears to be just the start. Google’s longer term mission sounds more akin to becoming a de facto global medical encyclopedia. So Google adopting a health-focused mantle also inevitably tramples on the turf of existing online health info portals like WebMD.
3 power tools to supercharge your browser bookmarks – The web has changed in fundamental ways over the years—like when sites started turning into full-blown apps—but one thing that hasn’t changed is our reliance on bookmarks. If you just need a list with stuff organized into folders then the standard bookmarks manager in your browser of choice will do just fine. But if you want to take your bookmarks to the next level with a sleeker visual look, annotations, or notes, then check out these three bookmark power tools.
Facebook takes on Craigslist with ‘For Sale Groups’ – Maybe because they’re trying to get in on the Etsy racket, or maybe just because they can; either way, Facebook is now making it much easier to sell things via Groups. Today, the social giant is announcing a new feature for Groups, which will allow users to sell items in a more streamlined way, with posts that are more easily manageable and professional looking. The feature was spotted previously, with Facebook saying they were trialing it for some groups who were noticed to have been actively selling anyway.
Streamus transforms YouTube into a simple, ad-free music streaming service – No, I haven’t found a way to get YouTube Music Key for free. What I’m talking about is a Chrome extension called Streamus that hooks into YouTube and offers as much music streaming as you can handle. Streamus doesn’t play videos and doesn’t require you to have a tab open. Instead, the extension just grabs the audio from the videos to let you listen to as much music as you want. If you ever do want to see the video, however, you can right-click any song to view it on Google’s video site.
Amazon’s Newest Tool Lets Anyone Host Giveaways Online – Amazon announced a new self-service tool this morning that allows customers to host giveaways on its website. Anyone is eligible to run these sorts of promotions on the platform, though in Amazon’s case, the feature will likely attract authors, marketers, brands, bloggers, sellers and others looking to raise awareness about themselves, their products, or those who want to engage their audience using promotions.
iPin turns your smartphone into a smart laser pointer – The newest smart accessory to surface for smartphones is the iPin, a tiny dongle of sorts that plugs into your smartphone and functions as a laser pointer, allowing you to point at things from across the room or drive your pets crazy. In addition to the laser pointer functionality comes presentation control, which makes giving presentations easier by combining the pointer and remote into one device — your smartphone. Users can swipe through presentation slides using their handset’s display, while their laser pointer appears on secondary screens for the audience.
File storage service Rapidshare to shutter in wake of legal woes – In a message posted to its website Tuesday, Rapidshare said it will stop active service on March 31. “We strongly recommend all customers to secure their data. After March 31st, 2015 all accounts will no longer be accessible and will be deleted automatically,” the message said. It did not say why it is shutting down. However, legal troubles related to copyright infringement have plagued the company for years.
Flipboard aims for more users with jump to the Web – Popular mobile news app Flipboard has finally made the jump to the Web with a website you can access from any browser. Starting today at flipboard.com, you can pick topics and read stories in a format optimized for the desktop, but with that magazine feel that’s made the apps so successful on smartphones and tablets. With the addition of the website, it’s now possible to track stories all day as Flipboard syncs across all your devices. Flipboard already had 40 million users per month on mobile (iOS|Android), but that number is likely to grow now that there’s a more convenient way to try it out.
Microsoft fixes Internet Explorer’s dangerous memory problems – The Internet Explorer patches are part of the company’s routine monthly release of security and bug fixes for its software products, called “Patch Tuesday.” Microsoft Office and both the desktop and server editions of Windows are also getting fixes in this batch. Overall, Microsoft issued patches to cover 56 different vulnerabilities, which are bundled into nine separate security bulletins.
DARPA: Nothing on the Internet is secure, including cars – We are probably mostly aware of how the Internet has certain holes when it comes to security and privacy. But when the man in charge of hardening the US Department of Defense’s computer networks and the Internet in general says that there is no real security on the Internet, people better take heed. Everything that we connect to the world-wide network can be open to attack, and these days, that almost literally means everything, from smartphones, to thermostats, to doorbells, and yes, even cars. To prove the point, Kaufman subjected reporter Lesley Stahl’s “smart car” to the test. It was a piece of cake to hack the car and gain control of its functions, even going so far as taking over braking mechanisms. In a real-world scenario, this is can be very frightening.
Snapchat Partners With Three Non-Profits To Launch A ‘Safety Center’ – The Safety Center — which can be found at snapchat.com/safety — is primarily targeted at parents and teachers who know little about the service, but there is also information for users, such as its community guidelines. Snapchat said it has partnered with three non-profits — ConnectSafely, iKeepSafe, and UK Safer Internet Center — for this project.
Tinder-like apps are a security risk to businesses, says IBM – Lovestruck and horny employees are putting their employers and co-workers at risk by using dating apps that are severely vulnerable to hackers, according to a new report by IBM.
Samsung smart TVs inserting ads into third-party apps – People with smart TVs from Samsung have been complaining that the electronics maker is inserting Pepsi ads during the playback of their own, locally-stored movies. “Every movie I play, 20-30 minutes in it plays the Pepsi ad, no audio but crisp clear ad. It has happened on 6 movies today,” one reddit user wrote. The user was posting on a subreddit for Plex, a third-party app on Samsung smart TVs that lets you play movies on your TV that are stored on your computer or on a Network Attached Storage device. Several other redditors reported the same experience.
Apple is investing $850 million to build a giant solar farm that will power its new headquarters – Apple CEO Tim Cook told an audience at the Goldman Sach’s Technology and Internet conference that the company is very focused on making environmentally responsible decisions. As proof, he offered up a piece of news. Cook says Apple is investing $850 million to build a brand new 1,300-acre solar farm in Monterey, California. The energy produced there will be used, at least in part, to power Apple’s new headquarters. “We know at Apple that climate change is real,” said Cook. “The time for talk has passed and the time for action is now.”
Target pulls the plug on its digital video service less than 18 months after launch – One of the rules of business is to stick to what you know, and it turns out Target didn’t know the digital video space as well as it hoped. Or perhaps it’s fairer to say Target didn’t know the space as well as established heavyweights like Apple iTunes, Amazon Prime Instant Video, Google Play, or even rival Walmart (which acquired Vudu five years ago). Either way, the number-two retail chain in the U.S. has decided to end all services offered on Target Ticket effective March 7, 2015, the company announced on its website.
Yelp gobbles up Eat24, jumps into food delivery business – Yelp, the go-to site for crowdsourced reviews on nearly every sort of consumer-focused business, is jumping into food delivery. The company said Tuesday that it paid $134 million for food ordering and delivery app Eat24. Eat24, which has relationships with 20,000 restaurants in 1,500 US cities, is already integrated into Yelp’s network. That integration lets Yelp users see menus and order takeout directly from the site.
Games and Entertainment:
Netflix’s ‘Bloodline’ gets its first trailer – As we’ve previously mentioned, Netflix will be releasing another original series called ‘Bloodline’ on March 20, and ahead of that debut is the series’ first trailer. Netflix released the trailer on its YouTube account on Monday, and during its two or so minutes, we’re given a decent enough look at show, with the focus being mostly on the family and its drama. The trailer is wrapped up neatly with the series’ hook: “We’re not bad people, we just did a bad thing.”
Anki announces the next generation of its A.I. racing game, and it’s awesome – Anki Drive — a racing game with Hot Wheels-style robot cars powered by your smartphone — was the No. 2-selling toy on Amazon this holiday season; the company sold out of its inventory 10 days before Christmas. It’s a novel concept: you steer a car using your own smartphone, racing against the A.I. or friends who are racing using smartphones and cars of their own. But since the day the game launched in 2013, players have asked for a modular version that let them build their own tracks. It was easier said than done: designing a track that can be easily reassembled took the company more than two years.
Atari reboots Asteroids as a base-building survival game for PCs. Yes, seriously – Yes, Atari is indeed working on a reboot of a 30-plus year old arcade game where you play as a triangle. Or, actually, Atari is publishing said reboot. Today, we got the first official details on Asteroids: Outpost, “where players mine, build and defend their base and grow their fortune as they go ‘from rocks to riches.'”
Holy supercut! Awesome video shows Batman’s onscreen evolution – The video not only offers up a great visual representation of Batman through the years, but gives a glimpse at how the Caped Crusader evolved as a character over time. The somber, brooding character in “The Dark Knight Rises” is certainly a long way off from Adam West’s Batman in the 1966 movie who says with a heavy dose of comic relief, “Somedays, you just can’t get rid of a bomb.” It’s a great supercut tribute to a superhero who’s been with us for more than 75 years and shows no signs of slowing down.
Off Topic (Sort of):
3D Robotics Opens Its Flight Control App For Drones To Developers – 3DR pilots can use the app to program flights, circle around waypoints and use the company’s Follow Me mode and “dronie” feature to take photos and videos of themselves. The software also features a building mapper for creating 3D scans of large structures. This new version makes planning missions a bit easier — especially when it comes to inserting new waypoints into existing plans, which was quite a hassle in the old version. Next week, 3D Robotics will also integrate support for Droneshare, its site for tracking and sharing flights and pilot rankings (until now, this was only available in the DroidPlanner beta versions).
400-year old pollution found in Andean ice cap – A group of scientists have announced that they’ve found some extremely old pollution this week, picked up in an ice cap in the Peruvian Andes. Traces of air pollution, they suggest, date back to over 400 year-old mining operations that happened hundreds of miles away. Researchers suggest that this is the first clear evidence of human-made air pollution in South America from any time before the Industrial Revolution. Pollution here likely originated in what’s now Bolivia – in the Potosí mountaintop silver mines.
Lies, Damn Lies and Viral Content – Rather than acting as a source of accurate information, online media frequently promote misinformation in an attempt to drive traffic and social engagement. The result is a situation where lies spread much farther than the truth, and news organizations play a powerful role in making this happen.
Watch Jon Stewart’s very first Daily Show episode – The news broke earlier this evening, with little warning: Jon Stewart will be stepping down from The Daily Show later this year. He’s been such an integral part of the media landscape, it’s almost hard to remember there was a time when the comedian wasn’t on our TVs every night, but it’s true. And while his hair may be a different color and the set design changed, one thing’s for certain: Stewart knew what to do with The Daily Show from the very beginning.
It’s Time To Rethink Our Smart Things – The television can talk to the fridge which in turn can tell the washer to turn on. You can connect your watch to your coffee machine and send music from your electric lawnmower to a speaker in your pool. It took years for these systems to come to fruition but with the advent of always-on low-energy processors and new wireless standards, your things can now be constantly in touch with each other. What does that mean? It means your TV can see you naked, your Xbox can hear your conversations, and your Dropcam can spy on your neighbors. We live in an era of endless monitoring. We are watched from birth to death and, while most of us in the U.S. will never bump up against it, there is an apparatus in place that could feasibly create a detailed dossier on us in seconds.
Australian police seize 3D-printed gun parts and knuckle dusters in raid – Police have arrested an Australian man for alleged possession of a number of 3D-printed weapons and enough parts to make four separate handguns, in addition to other charges.
Something to think about:
“I have always thought the actions of men the best interpreters of their thoughts.”
– John Locke (1632 – 1704)
Today’s Free Downloads:
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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:
Box hands cloud encryption keys over to its customers – Box has been talking for more than year about letting its customers manage their own encryption keys, allowing them to store data in the cloud while maintaining control over who gets to access it.
This isn’t a straightforward problem to solve, because Box’s whole business is built on making it easier to share data and collaborate. The strictest security controls could eliminate the reason 44,000 companies are paying Box.
Today, Box says it has a new product that gets the job done. Called “Enterprise Key Management (EKM),” the service puts encryption keys inside a customer’s own data center and in a special security module stored in an Amazon data center. The Box service still must access customer’s data in order to enable sharing and collaboration, but EKM makes sure that only happens when the customer wants it to, Box says.
When asked if the service would prevent Box from handing data over to the government, a company spokesperson said, “Unless the customer provides authorization to Box to provide the content that’s asked for, Box is prevented from sharing the content. When customers use Box EKM we are not able to provide decrypted content because we don’t have the encryption keys protecting the customer’s content.”
NSA wins key ruling in years-old phone and Internet spying lawsuit – The Electronic Frontier Foundation sustained a notable blow in one of its oldest ongoing surveillance-related lawsuits—its motion for partial summary judgment was denied on Tuesday, while a counter motion filed by the National Security Agency was granted.
The case, known as Jewel v. NSA, was originally brought by the EFF on behalf of Carolyn Jewel, a romance novelist who lives in Petaluma, California, north of San Francisco. For years, the case stalled in the court system, but it gained new life after the Edward Snowden disclosures in 2013.
Despite the NSA’s victory in its partial summary judgment, there are a number of issues left to be adjudicated in Jewel.
After months of silence from feds on flying phone surveillance, EFF sues – The Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a lawsuit Monday in order to learn more about the United States Marshals Service’s use of airborne cell-site simulators.
The San Francisco-based advocacy group filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Department of Justice (DOJ), the USMS’ parent agency, shortly after the revelations came to light in November 2014. However, the DOJ has not produced any responsive documents and has long exceeded the 30-day deadline as defined under the FOIA law.
In the suit, which was filed in federal court in Washington, DC, the EFF asks the court to compel the DOJ to immediately produce the documents. The DOJ did not immediately respond to Ars’ request for comment.
Last fall, The Wall Street Journal reported that the US Marshals Service (USMS) was using small, fixed-wing Cessnas equipped with so-called DRTboxes—“dirtboxes.” The devices are receivers that spoof a cell tower to gather data from citizens’ phones below. The purpose of such collection is to target and spy on criminal suspects, but the data from any nearby citizen’s phone is also collected by such devices.
FBI really doesn’t want anyone to know about “stingray” use by local cops – If you’ve ever filed a public records request with your local police department to learn more about how cell-site simulators are used in your community—chances are good that the FBI knows about it. And the FBI will attempt to “prevent disclosure” of such information.
Not only can these devices, commonly known as “stingrays,” be used to determine a phone’s location, but they can also intercept calls and text messages. During the act of locating a phone, stingrays also sweep up information about nearby phones. Last fall, Ars reported on how a handful of cities across America are currently upgrading to new hardware that can target 4G LTE phones.
The newest revelation about the FBI comes from a June 2012 letter written by the law enforcement agency to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. It was first acquired and published by the Minneapolis Star Tribune in December 2014—similar language likely exists between the FBI and other local authorities that use stingrays.
As the letter states:
In the event that the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension receives a request pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (5 USC 552) or an equivalent state or local law, the civil or criminal discovery process, or other judicial, legislative, or administrative process, to disclose information concerning the Harris Corporation [REDACTED] the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension will immediately notify the FBI of any such request telephonically and in writing in order to allow sufficient time for the FBI to seek to prevent disclosure through appropriate channels.
French law allows websites to be blocked sans court order – France is cracking down against extremists and child abusers, and as part of it the nation has unveiled a new law that gives its law enforcement’s cybercrime general directorate the power to order an ISP to block a website sans a court order. The ISPs will have 24 hours to obey the request, and will be reimbursed for whatever costs this could result in. Likewise, the ISPs will also be able to appeal the decision if they feel it was an inappropriate order, something that may or may not be honored depending on the specific circumstances.