Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 4, 2015

Survey: Hardly Anybody Uses a Password Manager;  The Best iPhone Apps of the Week;  How to Get Bluetooth to Actually Work;  Five obscure Android apps that should be on your must-use list;  Mass infection malware attack targets Android;  Chromebook: How to run Windows programs in a browser tab for free;  Five kits for building drones, gadgets and robots with your Raspberry Pi;  Flaw in GoPro update mechanism reveals users’ Wi-Fi passwords;  BitTorrent Sync 2.0 adds pro features;  Alibaba Is Expanding Its Cloud Services To The U.S.  Mysterious Android App Emails Your Location to Creepers;  Some Bloggers Really Piss Me Off – Lucy Is One;  Global experiment exposes the dangers of using Wi-Fi hotspots.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Survey: Hardly Anybody Uses a Password Manager – Once you’ve installed a password management tool, you only have to remember one password. So how come the vast majority of consumers still rely on bad passwords and sticky notes? The survey evaluated password practices in the U.S. and U.K. by polling 1,000 consumers. It evaluated how well participants hewed to correct password practices such as using a different password for every site, creating strong, unguessable passwords, and changing passwords every month or two. The results? Well, what did you expect? Passwords: they’re doing it wrong. Siber Systems, the survey’s sponsor, offers the well-known RoboForm password manager. While RoboForm is one of our recommended best password managers, others have rated even better. If money is tight, don’t fret. We’ve also identified the best free password managers. So, if you’re not using a password manager, start now! Don’t be one of the 92 percent whose passwords are painfully lame.

Paperspace Lets Anyone Access A Better Personal Computer That Lives In The Cloud – Imagine never having to buy new and expensive hardware to upgrade your personal computer with more speed and storage space. That’s the vision behind Y Combinator-backed Paperspace, a new company launching today, which is building a full, personal computer that lives in the cloud, which you access from any web browser. Today, there are number of solutions for accessing computing power via the cloud thanks to companies like Amazon and others, but these services require users to be more technical in order to get started. Paperspace is different because it’s aiming to wrap up a similar service in terms of accessing a remote, cloud computer, but offering it through an easy-to-use console where everyday consumers can just click a button to log into their upgraded, more powerful remote machine.

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The Best iPhone Apps of the Week – It seems like hundreds of new iPhone apps pop up every week, but which ones should you bother trying? We explored the App Store and found some apps actually worth downloading.

When words won’t cut it, express yourself with reaction GIFs – When you really want to get your point across, nothing beats a hilarious little video clip. Here’s how to find them and use them.

Pointing up     Or, make your own. Checkout today’s free downloads for an open source GIF application with surprising functionality.

How to Get Bluetooth to Actually Work – While the most recent updates to Bluetooth technology have added better pairing, increased range and lowest-ever power usage, you may still encounter the odd obstacle when getting set up. Troubleshoot your Bluetooth connection with these tips and let us know how they work for you in the comments.

Five obscure Android apps that should be on your must-use list – If you’re an Android user, you know the Google Play Store is filled with apps — many of which are outstanding, but some of which… are not. Finding a few of the hidden, lesser-known gems isn’t a terribly challenging task, but it can take a while. So to save you a bit of time, I searched the Play Store and came up with five apps you may never have heard of but might benefit from using. Let’s see if any of them fits your bill.

5 TV antenna tricks for the modern-day cord cutter – When I was growing up, it seemed like almost everyone had cable, and owning a TV antenna meant you were stuck in the past. But with the rise of cord cutting, the lowly over-the-air antenna has experienced a rebirth. More than just an old-school way to get basic channels like ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox, an HD antenna can pair with all kinds of high-tech hardware, unlocking capabilities that were never possible before. If you’ve ditched cable TV and are using an antenna for over-the-air channels, here are five ways to take it to the next level:

Strip search: Meet the Calvin and Hobbes search engine – If you are serious fan of Bill Watterson’s classic comic strip, then you need to be made aware of the existence of the Calvin and Hobbes search engine created by Michael Yingling. It lets you search by keyword, so you can find the strips, for example, that have Calvin and Hobbes waking up to a snow day, battling Calvin’s nemesis Susie, or seeing the world via Calvin’s alter ego Stupendous Man. You must use an exact phrase when searching by keyword, and you can also search by date.

Google Contacts gets fresh design, better tool for dealing with duplicates – Google is cleaning up your contacts. Today, the company teased out a preview of its new and improved Contacts page, where you view and manage the people, phone numbers and email addresses in your Google account. It looks a whole lot cleaner and promises to help make getting rid of duplicate entries easier.

You can now embed OneNote images, tweets, and YouTube into Microsoft’s Sway – Microsoft said Tuesday that it has greatly expanded the types of content and sources that can be embedded into its Sway tool, with an eye toward OneNote. And, just for fun, you can embed other Microsoft Sways into your Sways, as well. Microsoft has also bumped up its suggested search terms to include tweets and YouTube videos, allowing any Sway user to embed a wealth of content in new Sways.

Chromebook: How to run Windows programs in a browser tab for free – Most of the time we focus on helpful tips for Windows users, but today’s article will also appeal to anyone with a Chromebook. A company named Cameyo is known for its software that lets you run Windows program from a USB stick, but it also offers a virtualization service that lets you run full-blown Windows desktop programs in a browser for free. Cameyo isn’t perfect. Virtual programs tend to run slowly, some don’t work at all, and using personal files with the apps is not as obvious as it could be. Nevertheless, Cameyo can come in handy in a pinch when you’re away from your primary PC. Here’s how it works.

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Twitter CFO floats idea of newspaper-like ‘daily edition’ – People already check Twitter to see what’s happening. But news junkies who follow lots of accounts may have dozens if not hundreds of tweets to comb through every morning. Twitter thinks it can address this, partly by better organizing the content posted to its site and presenting it in new ways.

Five kits for building drones, gadgets and robots with your Raspberry Pi – A selection of kits that make it easier to build your first gadget with the $35 Linux board.

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BitTorrent Sync 2.0 adds pro features – More than two years after its initial public release, BitTorrent Sync has been updated to version 2.0 and dropped its “beta” designation. Based on the peer-to-peer BitTorrent protocol, it enables users to securely sync folders among their own devices and share them with other users, without relying on cloud servers like Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, and Apple’s iCloud Drive. Although the software remains free, version 2.0 adds an optional Pro tier—aimed primarily at business users—with extra convenience features and access controls, for $40 per user per year (with volume discounts for more than five licenses). All users of BitTorrent Sync 2.0 get 30 days of free access to the Pro features.

No reboot patching comes to Linux 4.0 – One reason to love Linux on your servers or in your data-center is that you so seldom needed to reboot it. True, critical patches require a reboot, but you could go months without rebooting. Now, with the latest changes to the Linux kernel you may be able to go years between reboots.

Security:

Mass infection malware attack targets Android – AdaptiveMobile uncovered one of the single largest messaging-initiated mobile malware outbreaks. The malware, dubbed Gazon, which uses victims’ mobile phone contacts to propagate, sends messages to their contacts linking to offers for spoof Amazon vouchers, which when opened, installs malware to their Android device. The attack, which went live on the 25th February and originated in the US, has infected thousands of mobile devices in more than 30 countries around the world, including Canada, UK, France, India, Korea, Mexico, Australia and the Philippines.

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Flaw in GoPro update mechanism reveals users’ Wi-Fi passwords – A vulnerability in the update mechanism for the wireless networks operated by GoPro cameras has allowed a security researcher to easily harvest over a 1,000 login credentials (including his own). The popular rugged, wearable cameras can be controlled via an app, but in order to do so the user has to connect to the camera’s Wi-Fi network. Israel-based infosec expert Ilya Chernyakov discovered the flaw when he had to access the network of a friend’s camera, but the friend forgot the login credentials.

Mysterious Android App Emails Your Location to Creepers – Smartphones have brought us wonderful things, such as Snapchat, Flappy Bird, and the ever present fear that someone might be tracking our every move. This week, researchers at Malwarebytes  tipped us off to a malicious Android app that emails your location to an unseen operator. It’s scary and it’s called Spy.MailGPS. Before we dive in, I must note that location tracking is a huge issue on all smartphones. Smartphone makers and app developers have come under fire for accidentally exposing users’ location, and for harvesting that same information. It’s a problem that’s not going away, but MailGPS is much scarier.

US air traffic control computer system vulnerable to terrorist hackers – The US system for guiding airplanes is open to vulnerabilities from outside hackers, the Government Accountability Office said Monday. The weaknesses that threaten the Federal Aviation Administration’s ability to ensure the safety of flights include the failure to patch known three-year-old security holes, the transmission and storage of unencrypted passwords, and the continued use of “end-of-life” key servers. Among the findings:

A Group ‘Hacked’ the NSA’s Website to Demonstrate a Widespread Bug – A group of researchers only needed $104 and 8 hours of Amazon’s cloud computing power to hack the NSA’s website. And their feat was made possible by a bug that, ironically, was practically created by the NSA itself and its anti-encryption policies from 20 years ago. The NSA’s site was just the guinea pig to demonstrate a newly-disclosed internet flaw called FREAK. Now, as crypto expert Matthew Green correctly pointed out, this wasn’t really a “hack.” Mounting a man-in-the-middle attack against NSA.gov is not the same as hacking the NSA (as an always-appropriate XKCD cartoon illustrates).

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Global experiment exposes the dangers of using Wi-Fi hotspots – A global Wi-Fi hacking experiment exposed major security issues regarding the browsing habits of users around the globe. Avast mobile security experts traveled to cities in the United States, Europe, and Asia to observe public Wi-Fi activity in nine major metropolitan areas. They were equipped with a Wi-Fi-enabled laptop and an application that monitored local Wi-Fi traffic at 2.4 GHz frequency – a free app that is widely available. Because HTTP traffic is unprotected, the Avast team was able to view all of the users’ browsing activity, including domain and page history, searches, personal login information, videos, emails, and comments.

Company News:

Google’s Schmidt meets EU competition chief to discuss antitrust woes – Google chairman Eric Schmidt and other company officials have met with the EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager to discuss the ongoing antitrust investigation into Google’s search practices. The Monday meeting was the first time Google executives had the chance to talk to Vestager about the antitrust case since she took over from her predecessor, Joaquín Almunia, on Nov. 1 last year.

Alibaba Is Expanding Its Cloud Services To The U.S. To Give Amazon New Competition – Alibaba, the Chinese commerce firm which held the largest IPO in history last year, is bringing cloud computing services in the U.S. after it announced a data center in Silicon Valley. The base — the location of which Alibaba isn’t revealing for security reasons — is the first for its Aliyun division outside of China, where it claims 1.4 million cloud services customers. The company has four data centers in China and one in Hong Kong, and it plans to expand that reach into Europe and Southeast Asia before the end of the year.

BlackBerry CEO: I’m open to creating a tablet again – That’s if CEO John Chen thinks the opportunity is right. “It’s not in the works, but it’s on my mind,” Chen said in an interview at the Mobile World Congress conference here. A BlackBerry tablet could satisfy the needs of a small but fiercely loyal group of productivity-focused customers who have stuck with the struggling smartphone maker and its operating system, potentially giving it a new revenue stream. But there aren’t enough BlackBerry faithful to sustain such a business, especially given the tablet category saw its first year-over-year decline in shipments in the fourth quarter.

Pizza Hut, Visa Experimenting With In-Car Ordering – The pizza maker is working with Visa and tech consultancy Accenture to develop a concept car that will test mobile online purchases on the go. Visa Checkout would be integrated into a car’s dashboard for in-car purchases, like that pizza you want to pick up on the way home. Place your order via voice to make sure you eyes stay on the road. Pizza Hut will provide in-car access to menus, delivery, and pick-up options, while beacon technology will notify Pizza Hut workers when your car is pulling in to the restaurant. It’s just a concept right now, but is on display at MWC in Barcelona.

Apple tops Samsung in quarterly smartphone sales for the first time since 2011 – Apple sold 74.8 million smartphones globally during the fourth quarter, up from 50.2 million in the year-earlier quarter, according to Gartner. Apple’s decision to offer phones with larger screens paid off, the research firm said. U.S. and Chinese buyers are especially keen on the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus, said Gartner, adding that demand for the phones is still strong in both countries. The larger screens also gave Apple customers a reason to replace their older phones. Samsung, by comparison, sold 73 million smartphones in the fourth quarter, down from 83.3 million in 2013’s fourth quarter. Samsung had held the quarterly sales title since 2011.

Apple in settlement talks with electric-car battery maker – Lawsuit accused Apple of luring away key engineers to work within a new battery division, fueling speculation that the iPhone maker has ambitions of developing an electric car of its own.

Games and Entertainment:

This is Nvidia Shield: a closer look at the 4K Android TV game console – Nvidia touted three big announces at its GDC 2015 press conference, but all of them center around its latest Shield device: a home console powered by Tegra X1, running Android TV, and capable of playing games like Crysis 3 locally and streaming premium titles through its also-just-announced Grid service. The $199 console itself, coming this May, embodies Nvidia’s design language — sharp edges, a mix of gloss and matte black, a green glow that “cracks” through the front of the system. (The controller, on the other hand, feels like the opposite of all that.) Nvidia has made a lot of promises with the capabilities, and we won’t know how well it’ll make good on those promises until we try it ourselves. But the hardware itself? Here you go!

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Crysis 3 on NVIDIA SHIELD with Android TV hands-on – The Android version of Crysis 3 has been revealed, and here it is – in a very early form. This game is set to be released later this year – likely at the same time as the NVIDIA SHIELD home entertainment device – but for now it’s in a very early stage of development. This is not a GRID game – it’s running natively on Android. This is a real-deal Android game we’ll be able to download from Google Play for NVIDIA SHIELD later this year.

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Insomniac announces next major DLC for ‘Sunset Overdrive’ – “Sunset Overdrive” will get a new downloadable expansion in less than a month, bringing an entirely new area to the game as well as new weapons and a new traversal mechanic.

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Xbox 360 gamers get Preview program; can now reserve their Xbox One Games with Gold – Microsoft is paying attention to Xbox 360 owners, with the company now launching the Xbox 360 Preview Program. Not only that, but 360 gamers can now reserve their Xbox One Games with Gold even if they don’t own the new-gen console. Users on the Xbox 360 that are subscribed to Gold can now start building up their games collection for the Xbox One, even without owning the console. The feature, which recently went live, allows these users to essentially reserve their Free Games with Gold without downloading them.

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ARM Ready to Light Up the Gaming World – The U.K. chip maker’s Geomerics subsidiary on Tuesday released Enlighten 3, an advanced, dynamic lighting solution for game engines like Unity 5 and Unreal Engine 3 and 4. Enlighten 3 comes with Forge, an editing tool enabling game developers to “quickly understand the capabilities of Enlighten and rapidly iterate on high-quality, real-time lighting,” ARM said.

Valve Announces Source 2, And It’ll Be Free – It’s been a good week for game developers. Unreal Engine 4 went free. Unity 5 came out, and a massive chunk of its once premium features went free. And now: Valve has just announced Source 2, the next generation of their Source game engine… and sure enough, it’s “free to content developers”.

Off Topic (Sort of):

It’s Still Way Too Easy for Government Employees to Hide Official Conversations – Think Hillary Clinton was the first government employee to be caught using a personal email account to conduct official business? Government employees have been doing this sort of thing for years. Both the US and Canadian governments have information laws that require government correspondence to be logged, retained, and made available to the public through Freedom of Information or Access to Information laws, respectively. But both governments make skirting these requirements surprisingly easy, and in some cases, employees are only too happy to do so.

Petraeus plea deal reveals two-tier justice system for leaks – The deal brokered by federal prosecutors with the former general and CIA director is another example of a senior official being slapped on the wrist for serious violations while lesser officials are harshly prosecuted for relatively minor infractions.

Some Bloggers Really Piss Me Off – Lucy Is One – One of the first blogs I go to every day is Bill Mullins’ page. He is a wealth of knowledge and each day he gives me links that I follow up on. Bill’s March 3rd page led to stuff written by Lucy Steigerwald, a writer that pisses me off because of the crap she lays out for people to read. Everybody knows there are good cops and bad cops – same with plumbers, photographers, electricians and every other known category of professions. Lucy writes stuff to incite the reader. Just like newspapers that write about cops only to sell newspapers or news agencies that follow incidents about police activity only to incite their viewers with “their angle” on a story. A lot of the time, before the full facts of the incident come to light. What I Learned Writing About Bad Cops for a Year and a Half is an example of this broad’s work. I hate linking to her stuff as I am pro cop. Obviously Lucy is not as she has chosen to post stories about cops first to earn a living and second, to incite her readers – just look below at her bio.

Ferguson police showed patterns of racial bias for years, says Justice Department – The Ferguson Police Department violated the constitutional rights of the city’s black residents for years, says a Department of Justice report expected to be released tomorrow. Federal investigators found that, well before the shooting death of Michael Brown last year, police activity in Ferguson, Missouri, was fueled by racial discrimination against the predominantly black population, resulting in unjustified traffic stops, arrests without probable cause, and the use of excessive force.

The Fogo smart flashlight is a survivalist’s dream tool – After turning heads and bagging multiple accolades at CES in January, the Fogo flashlight is now trying to charm the Kickstarter community into loosening its purse strings to the tune of $125,000. Truth be told, calling it a flashlight would be a bit unfair to both Fogo and flashlights. Because the Fogo aspires to be a digital Swiss army knife, cramming into its IPX8-rated waterproof frame a 1000-lumen flashlight, GPS receiver, backlit LCD display, Bluetooth LE, 128MB flash storage, accelerometer, magnetometer, “bicycle computer,” and much more. Further, Fogo’s lone USB port is intended to function as a hardware expansion slot that’ll let users attach purpose-built accessories.

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Three steps to weasel-woodpecker acceptance – It’s hard not to question the veracity of this image. You mumble “photoshop” as you look at it. Fortunately, the internet has answers: this is the real deal. A man by the name of Martin Le-May took a series of pictures of the pair when he heard distress calls from the bird — a European green woodpecker — in Hornchurch Country Park in East London, according to NBC. You finally accept that it’s real. After all, this has happened before.

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You finally accept that it’s real. After all, this has happened before.

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Cutting the final cord: How wireless power and wireless charging works – In the 1890s, Nikola Tesla captured the imagination of the world with his invention of the Tesla coil, a device that could transmit electricity through the air, no wires required. More than 100 years later, the world has responded by adapting this breakthrough technology… mainly to recharge their electric toothbrushes. How will your phone, your lights, and even your electric car someday be powered without a wire? Here’s a primer on how wireless power works.

Something to think about:

“Wrong’ is one of those concepts that depends on witnesses.”

–    Scott AdamsDilbert, 11-05-09

Today’s Free Downloads:

ScreenToGif – This tool allows you to record a selected area of your screen and save as a Gif.

Features:

Record your screen and save directly to a gif looped animation.

Pause and continue to record.

Move the window around to record what you want.

You can add Text, Subtitles and Title Frames.

Edit the frames, add filters, revert, make yoyo style, change frame delay, add border, add progress bars.

Export frames.

Crop and Resize.

You can work even while the program is recording.

Remove frames that you don’t want.

Select a folder to save the file automatically or select one before enconding.

Add the system cursor to your recording.

Very small sized, portable and multilanguage executable.

Start/Pause and stop your recording using your F keys.

Multi language: Portuguese, Spanish, Romanian, Russian, Swedish, Greek, French, Simplified Chinese, Italian, Vietnamese and Tamil.

GreenScreen unchanged pixels to save kilobytes.

You can apply actions/filters to selected frames.

Fullscreen Recording.

Snapshot Mode.

Drag and Drop to add frames in the editor.

Pointing up   I often use this open source application to play around and have a little fun. It’s a neat little app with enormous capabilities.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Privacy advocates find Obama proposal lacking – A consumer privacy proposal from U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration gives people too little control over their personal data and companies too much latitude to use that information, a coalition of 14 privacy and digital rights groups said.

The Obama administration’s consumer privacy bill of rights, released late Friday, allows companies holding personal data to determine whether consumers should be able to demand changes to the information, the groups said in a letter to Obama, sent Tuesday.

The White House proposal contains several “shortcomings,” said the groups, including the Center for Democracy and Technology, Consumer Watchdog, Public Knowledge and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

You Can Now Easily Send Encrypted Texts to Anyone, and the NSA Is Gonna Hate It – The NSA is not thrilled about the fact that encrypted communications are becoming easier and more widespread than ever before. Its director, Admiral Mike Rogers, said as much last week during a cybersecurity event in Washington, D.C., where he joined the FBI in asking for a “legal framework” by which government agencies can insert backdoors into commonly used communications software.

So chances are, NSA and co. are not going to like Si​gnal, a cross-platform app that now lets you send encrypted text, picture and video messages to virtually anyone with a smartphone.

The free app is made by Open Whisper Systems, makers of TextSecure and Redphone, which allow Android users to send end-to-end encrypted texts and calls, respectively. That means that short of someone hacking your phone and stealing your encryption keys, no one—not even the app’s creators—can eavesdrop on your calls and texts.

We Give Up Our Data Too Cheaply – Our data has enormous value when we put it all together. Our movement records help with urban planning. Our financial records enable the police to detect and prevent money laundering. Our posts and tweets help researchers understand how we tick as a society. There are all sorts of creative and interesting uses for personal data, uses that give birth to new knowledge and make all of our lives better.

Our data is also valuable to each of us individually, to keep private or disclose as we want. And there’s the rub. Using data pits group interest against self-interest, the core tension humanity has been struggling with since we came into existence.

The government offers us this deal: if you let us have all of your data, we can protect you from crime and terrorism. It’s a rip-off. It doesn’t work. And it overemphasizes group security at the expense of individual security.

The bargain Google offers us is similar, and it’s similarly out of balance: if you let us have all of your data and give up your privacy, we will show you advertisements you want to see—and we’ll throw in free web search, e-mail, and all sorts of other services. Companies like Google and Facebook can only make that bargain when enough of us give up our privacy.

Canada turfed out more spies to the U.S. than elsewhere – New figures show Canada has turfed out five spies in the past decade from a surprising source country — its best friend and ally, the United States.

From 2004 to 2014 Ottawa sent back to the U.S. five of a total of 21 of those barred from Canada “on security grounds for engaging in an act of espionage that is against Canada or that is contrary to Canada’s interests,” according to a document produced by Canada Border Services Agency.

It’s not clear whether the espionage was by foreign government agents or whether it was industrial espionage — that is, spying to obtain state secrets or spying that targeted intellectual property or corporate secrets.

James Clapper: Kill the Patriot Act, But Don’t Blame Me If Another 9/11 Happens – Go ahead and let one of the most embattled provisions of the Patriot Act expire, US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says. Just don’t blame the NSA when another terrorist attack happens, he says.

Section 215 of the Patriot Act is the bit of the law that allows the FBI and the NSA to scoop up mass telephone records from American accounts. The mass collection of “metadata,” which includes the numbers your phone is calling, location information, how long your calls last, and more, was exposed by Edward Snowden’s very first revelations roughly two years ago, and has since become a prime target of NSA reform bills.

President Obama, in fact, restricted the amount and types of records that could be scooped up by intelligence agencies. The Obama administration came to the conclusion that metadata hasn’t prevented even one single terrorist attack. Metadata, meanwhile, can be used to spy on you, which is why many civil liberty types, and, indeed, some in Congress, would rather it go away altogether.

“I hope everyone involved assumes the responsibility and it not be blamed, if we have another failure, exclusively on the intelligence community”

That’s actually set to happen on June 1, when Section 215 will expire. Clapper, speaking today at the Council on Foreign Relations, sounded as though he’s not looking forward to the prospect.

Edward Snowden willing to face trial in U.S. — if it’s fair – Edward Snowden, the former U.S. National Security Agency contractor who leaked details of the agency’s surveillance programs, is willing to return to the U.S. and face criminal charges, if he’s assured of a fair trial, according to a Russian news report.

Snowden, now living in Russia, is ready to return to the U.S. on the condition that he’s guaranteed a fair trial, Snowden lawyer Anatoly Kucherena told journalists Tuesday, according to a report from Russian news agency TASS.

Several Snowden lawyers are negotiating his return to the U.S., Kucherena said. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has promised in a letter to Snowden’s lawyers that he would not face a death sentence, Kucherena added.

So far, the Department of Justice has guaranteed Snowden “will not be executed, not that he will receive a fair trial,” the lawyer told reporters.

Snowden continues to work in IT in Moscow and consults with several U.S. companies as well, Kucherena told reporters.

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