Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 18, 2015

Your personal security guide: Malware, protection and removal;  Your personal security guide: Phishing campaigns;  The Ultimate Cord Cutter’s Guide;  Twitter just made it easier to report harassment to the cops;  3 tips for easier migration to a new browser;  Facebook Introduces Free Friend-To-Friend Payments Through Messages;  Five free apps for taking care of your taxes;  Windows 10 to launch this summer in 190 countries;  Dropbox update improves collaboration;  Premera cyberattack could have exposed information for 11 million customers;  Google cleans up malware-ridden app store;  The 10 Most-Pirated Movies (this week);  Sling TV app launches on Xbox One with free month-long trial;  Three judges fired for using office computers to watch porn;  Active@ KillDisk (free);  Feds can’t seize emails stored in Ireland, Microsoft says;  FCC chief: ‘No secret instructions’ from Obama on Net neutrality.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Your personal security guide: Malware, protection and removal – Summary: What is malware, what does it do and how do I protect myself?


Your personal security guide: Phishing campaigns – Summary: What are phishing campaigns, why do they exist and how do I protect myself?


The Ultimate Cord Cutter’s Guide – Services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Instant Video are just the most well-known names in what’s become known as “cord cutting”—namely, doing away with pay TV and using Internet-based services to get all your “television” programming. No more paying a huge monthly fee for thousands of hours of TV you don’t watch. Instead, pay individual services for a la carte programming. It’s almost like paying for just what you watch. Almost.

3 tips for easier migration to a new browser – Recently, I switched to Firefox after Chrome became unresponsive and buggy one too many times. Switching between browsers never used to be a big deal, but that’s just not the case anymore. We customize these programs with extensions, sync open tabs to our mobile devices, and, if you’re using Chrome, run apps like they’re native to the desktop. If you’re thinking about moving between browsers here are three things to consider as you plan your move.

Twitter just made it easier to report harassment to the cops – Twitter “sucks at dealing with abuse.” CEO Dick Costolo said so himself. Today the company released another change as part of its promise to start sucking less. Twitter users who are threatened on the service and file a report will have the option of emailing that report to local law enforcement. With this rollout, users who go through the already simplified process of of reporting a threat will see a new option on the last screen.


Divergent star Ashley Judd will press charges over Twitter harassment – Divergent star Ashely Judd says that she will press charges against people who have been harassing her on Twitter with threats of sexual violence. “The amount of gender violence I experience is absolutely extraordinary,” she tells the Today show, “and a significant part of my day today will be spent filing police reports at home about gender violence that’s directed at me on social media.” Judd called out the harassment on Sunday, when a tweet she wrote about a basketball game resulted in lewd cyberbullying.


Five free apps for taking care of your taxes – If you dread tax time, take heart. These free apps will help get you through the filing process with less aggravation and fewer errors. Although this article provides a brief description of five free tax applications, it’s worth noting that the IRS actually offers its own free tax filing service, called FreeFile.

The .SUCKS domain is coming soon to an angry website near you – Want to get your hate on for a certain company, brand, or product? Later this year, you’ll be able to do that in style with your very own .sucks domain. Some .SUCKS domain names could end up being nothing more than a little harmless fun. The worst case scenario for major companies, however, might be a disgruntled customer getting their hands on of,, or And apparently the company behind the .SUCKS TLD knows it.

Facebook Introduces Free Friend-To-Friend Payments Through Messages – When you chat with friends about settling debts or splitting the bill, Facebook doesn’t want you to have to open another app like PayPal or Venmo to send them money. So today it unveiled a new payments feature for Facebook Messenger that lets you connect your Visa or Mastercard debit card and tap a “$” button to send friends money on iOS, Android, and desktop with zero fees. Facebook Messenger payments will roll out first in the U.S. over the coming months.


Windows 10 to launch this summer in 190 countries – Microsoft is planning to release its Windows 10 operating system in the summer. While the software maker isn’t naming an exact date, Windows chief Terry Myerson is committing the company to a summertime launch today. “We continue to make great development progress and shared today that Windows 10 will be available this summer in 190 countries and 111 languages,” says Myerson. Microsoft is making Windows 10 available as a free upgrade for existing Windows 7 and Windows 8 users for a year, and that offer will start this summer.

Windows Hello lets you sign into Windows 10 devices with your face or finger – Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 10 operating system will support Windows Hello, allowing you to sign into a machine with just your face or finger. Windows Hello works by scanning your face, iris, or fingerprint to unlock devices, replacing a PIN or password to gain access to your own machine.  While most current machines won’t be able to use Windows Hello face recognition, Microsoft will support existing fingerprint readers. For the face or iris detection, new Windows 10 PCs will ship later this year with Intel’s RealSense 3D camera to enable the new support thanks to the infrared camera that will help scan your face.

Windows 10’s speedy new Project Spartan browser will ditch Internet Explorer name – Internet Explorer increasingly looks like a dead brand walking, though IE11 will still be around in Windows 10 to provide legacy compatibility for businesses.

Philips Two-in-One dual-display monitor launches – Studies have claimed that using two displays makes you more efficient than using one, and many people find them more comfortable than a single display set up. The problem is how much desk space they take — having two monitors propped up requires a lot of space, and that’s a problem for some, especially those limited to a cubical or other tiny work areas. Enter the Philips Two-in-One monitor, which is exactly what it sounds like: a single monitor made of two displays, conserving desk real estate while increase one’s screen space.


Dropbox update improves collaboration with badges, commenting – Dropbox has updated its service today, and it has done so with a focus on collaboration in particular, namely how it can make that shared experience better for its users. Dropbox for Business can be used to take Dropbox beyond mere file storing and can be used by workers as a collaborative environment for handling documents and such. If collaborative environments aren’t clear and organized, however, they become messy and convoluted quickly, and Dropbox has taken a step to ensure that doesn’t happen with two new workflows.


Premera cyberattack could have exposed information for 11 million customers – Health care provider Premera Blue Cross said on Tuesday that the identifying, financial, and medical information for millions of customers could have been revealed in a cyberattack. In a statement on their website, Premera said that issues related to their network have been resolved and the company is working to strengthen security measures. The initial attack occurred on May 4, 2014, but the intrusion was not discovered until Jan. 29, according to Premera. The attack potentially affects 11 million customers. About 6 million of those live in Washington state, where some customers are employees at companies like Amazon and Microsoft, Reuters reported.

Cyberattacks caused the leak of one billion records in 2014 – In 2014, approximately one billion records of personally identifiable information (PII) were leaked online, according to IBM X-Force. IBM researchers say cyberattackers are more often applying creative ways and new approaches to fundamental attacks including DDoS and the use of malware in order to steal valuable information, ranging from sensitive data which can be used in identity theft to financial account details. The majority of these records were stolen from US companies.

Hundreds of Android and iOS apps are still vulnerable to FREAK – Hundreds of Android and iOS apps are still vulnerable to a dangerous attack revealed two weeks ago that can compromise encrypted data, a security vendor said Tuesday. The apps have not yet been patched against the FREAK attack, short for Factoring attack on RSA-EXPORT Keys, which was revealed by researchers on March 3. The unpatched apps, which were not identified, are in categories including finance, communication, shopping, business and medicine, computer security company FireEye said in a blog post Tuesday.


Malwarebytes: “Cracked” Minecraft? PUP Installer – Be cautious around websites offering up supposedly cracked versions of Minecraft. You can never quite be sure what’s waiting on the other end. Genuine file or bad hair day incoming?

Google cleans up malware-ridden app store – Google is cleaning up its app store to limit the amount of malware and age-inappropriate content. For the past two months the advertising giant has been quietly running a scan of all applications for malware and code that breaks its terms of service. Today it announced the program’s existence, noting that the scanning is both automatic and manual. The high levels of malware found on the Play Store has long been a problem – even being used by Apple to promote its own “safer” products. As well as the scanning, the Chocolate Factory has also updated developer status reports that explain why apps have been rejected to include more detail. And it will introduce age ratings.

Company News:

Microsoft wants to convert Android devices to Windows 10 phones with special ROM – Microsoft is testing an image of Windows 10 that can be flashed onto Android devices and essentially convert them to Windows phones on the spot. The program might be expanded soon if successful.

Apple tipped to open Android trade-in program ahead of Galaxy S6 launch – Android device users thinking about buying a new iPhone might want to hold off their purchase for a little while: Apple is about to kick off its first ever trade-in program for Android devices, according to reports. Following its best financial quarter ever, Apple needs to once again beat analysts’ expectations and its new weapon to attract additional iPhone users is a recycling and trade-in program aimed at owners of old Android devices that are considering switching to iOS.

Open source Sirius virtual assistant gets Google funding – Virtual, personal assistants seem to be the rave these days on mobile, from the big ones like Siri, Cortana, Google Now, and most recently BlackBerry Assistant, to the little known apps and services scattered throughout app markets. So it isn’t surprising that we’re hearing about another one called Sirius, a not so subtle play on Siri perhaps, but this software, and we can’t call it product yet, hailing from the University of Michigan is a bit different. For one, it is open source software. And quite surprisingly, it has the financial support of Google.

Jury clears Apple of infringing patents formerly held by Nokia – A Texas jury has found that Apple didn’t infringe on five wireless technology patents that once belonged to Nokia and were sold to patent licensing firm Conversant. In 2012, Core Wireless, which is a subsidiary of Conversant, sued Apple in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Tyler Division, alleging iPads and iPhones used technology covered by Core patents to transmit data. Core was seeking a portion of the revenue Apple made from selling the devices and would make from future sales. Core’s lawsuit initially claimed that Apple infringed on more patents.

Oracle’s Q3: Revenue miss, earnings in line amid currency qualms – With currency fluctuations once again having investors biting their nails with anxiety, Oracle published third quarter financial results after the bell on Tuesday. And once again, Oracle broke down actual and would-be results as a result of the strengthening of the U.S. Dollar. The tech giant reported a net income of $2.5 billion, or 56 cents per share (statement). Non-GAAP earnings were 68 cents per share on a revenue of $9.3 billion. Wall Street was looking for earnings of 68 cents a share on revenue of $9.47 billion.

Games and Entertainment:

Sling TV app launches on Xbox One with free month-long trial – As announced in January, Xbox One is the first gaming console to feature an app for Sling TV, and its one-month trial is also the longest free trial available on any platform. While Sling TV’s Xbox One app features a similar interface to its apps on mobile platforms, it’s also been modified to fit with the console’s style and abilities, as seen above. For those interested in subscribing to the service, Sling TV will cost $20 a month and come with the following channels: AMC, ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, TBS, Food Network, HGTV, Travel Channel, Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, ABC Family and CNN.


The 10 Most-Pirated Movies – Before I discuss the week’s most-pirated movies, allow me to state that PCMag doesn’t condone piracy in any way, shape, or form. Our mission is a simple and pure one: to inform you about what’s happening in the online digital media world. Besides, tracking stolen movies is a way to gauge a movie’s popularity beyond ticket sales. One new flick made it onto the most-pirated movies list this week—Focus, starring Will Smith and Margot Robbie. If you want to learn more about this bootlegged film, as well as the nine other movies that were popular among pirates, check out the slideshow that’s linked both above and below for more information.


GeForce GTX Titan X detailed and priced by NVIDIA – Today NVIDIA has revealed their newest, most powerful graphics card to the public: GeForce GTX Titan X. This device was teased at the Epic Games keynote earlier this month at GDC 2015 – here at GTC 2015, it’s being revealed in full. This card works with NVIDIA’s GM200 GPU, rolling with 3072 CUDA Cores, a 384-bit memory interface, 7GHz memory clock, and peak memory bandwidth of 336.5GB/sec. That’s a cool 50% increase over the peak bandwidth of this card’s release predecessor, the GeForce GTX 980 (have a peek at our GTX 980 Review to get an idea of where we’re going from here).

16 Bizarre Video Game Adaptations That Actually Exist – A video game based on the TV series M*A*S*H? Sure. An action adventure game based on Home Improvement? Why wouldn’t that be a game?! A Contra-style game based on the Oscar-winning war drama, Platoon? Bring it on! Here, we delve into the weird history of unexpected video game adaptations. We do this not to mock or even to say that all these games aren’t fun to play. Rather we would just like to show the industry that video games can be so much more than just Marvel and DC. Think outside the box, people.

PlayStation Now coming to the UK via private beta this Spring – PlayStation Now is US-only, and that’s pretty lame. We’re not fans of region-locked services like that, so when we hear they’ll be opening up to new markets, it’s exciting. Such is the news today, where we’ve learned Sony is opening up PlayStation Now to the UK. Via a private beta program, those in the UK with a PlayStation 4 — and who are members of PlayStation Plus — can be among the first to sign up for the PlayStation Now network in the UK.

Off Topic (Sort of):

The Age Of Interruption Overload – Every time I think our way of life couldn’t change any faster, reality proves me wrong. Compare our lives today to just five years ago, and it’s a completely different digital world. Today, we live in the age of interruption overload. There are two ways of dealing with interruption overload. The first is to complain, argue against it, convince everyone that it’s bad for your health (it is, it makes you dumber), and then retreat to a yoga farm in Texas. Only to find out they have 4G. But that won’t help much. Reality is stronger than complaints. A girl in my family told me how she spent a day without her smartphone. When she was back, it had 2,000 WhatsApp messages on it. She’s 12.


Google Exec Eric Schmidt Called Out for Interrupting the Only Woman on Panel – After a panel on innovation at SXSW in Austin on Monday, Google executive Eric Schmidt was called out for repeatedly interrupting U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith, the only woman on the panel. During a Q&A session after the panel, someone pointed out that Schmidt was repeatedly interrupting Smith without noticing, and asked Smith how she felt about the unconscious bias that affects women. It turns out that the person who called out Schmidt was Judith Williams, who just happens to be the Global Diversity and Talent Program manager at Google.

Pointing up    The usual Schmidt two-step – open mouth/insert foot.

Three judges fired for using office computers to watch porn – When a judge looks down upon you in a court of law, you get the feeling that they’re a little bit superior. Some might find, therefore, a certain comfort in the idea that the judiciary are just as human as the rest of us. Even judges can be, as it were, in contempt of court. I am moved to these sad thoughts by the news that today three judges in the UK were fired for being very, very naughty boys. This dewigging was announced by the UK’s Judicial Conduct Investigations Office.

NASA tests LEAPTech: a crazy experimental 18-engine electric wing – NASA is testing their latest experiment; the new idea is the LEAPTech electric wing. LEAPTech stands for Leading Edge Asynchronous Propeller Technology, and this set of wings looks very different from a traditional airplane wing. The LEAPTech wing looks a bit strange with its narrow surface area and its lengthy 31-foot wingspan. Not to mention that the wings are decked out with 18 small engines, while most commerical jets normally have two or four engines. It’s electric and aims to be safe, efficient, and environmentally friendly.


Crazy footage shows volcanic lightning during massive eruption – Volcanic eruptions are crazy-cool and dangerous, but they’re even better when they’re intense enough to generate lightning storms as they’re going off. During a recent volcanic eruption at the highly active Sakurajima volcano on the Japanese island of Kyushu, filmmaker Marc Szeglat captured some pretty incredible footage of a lightning storm generated by the volcano.


FCC chief: ‘No secret instructions’ from Obama on Net neutrality – FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler appeared before a House subcommittee Tuesday, where he maintained his agency’s independence in coming up with new rules for so-called Net neutrality. The rules ensure that broadband providers like Comcast or Verizon can’t block or slow down Internet access or applications , or require payment from companies like Netflix for priority access to broadband customers. “There were no secret instructions from the White House,” Wheeler said. “I did not, as CEO of an independent agency, feel obligated to follow the president’s recommendation.”

Corning’s germ-fighting glass means you can touch an ATM with less worry – The modern world is awash with public touch screens, from airplane TVs to ATMs to deli-counter kiosks. And with all those shared screens comes more potential to share germs. Glassmaker Corning, whose tough Gorilla Glass displays front Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s new Galaxy S6, is hoping to make our more-touchable electronics world a little less grimy, thanks to its antimicrobial version of Gorilla. The new product, introduced last year, is now making its way into more public places, with Corning in January announcing deals to bring the germ-fighting glass to ATMs and payment terminals.

Something to think about:

“Most people have seen worse things in private than they pretend to be shocked at in public.”

–      Edgar Watson Howe

Today’s Free Downloads:

Active@ KillDisk – Powerful and compact software that allows you to destroy all data on hard disks, SSD & USB disks completely, excluding any possibility of future recovery of deleted files and folders. It’s a hard disk drive sanitizing tool and partition eraser utility, DoD 5220.22 M compliant.


Pointing up   All storage devices should be “nuked” in this fashion prior to disposal, gifting, and so on. Long story short – rebuilt 50+ machines for a charity a few years ago – came to me with HDs loaded with 1000s of social assistance client records, all of which were extremely personal.  And valuable – but that’s another story.

York – Need to keep an eye on what’s going on on your network. York is the perfect freeware for you. You can choose a client on your network and follow his clicks or just log all source, destination [fqdn or ip address] and packet size of all network traffic on your network. Just for kicks York will show you a slideshow of all the pictures embedded in the html of sites visited on your network!

Log source, destination [fqdn or ip address] and packet size of all network traffic on your network, of course also outbound traffic. The network card will be set into promiscuous mode.

Save sniffed HTTP and FTP files. Just for fun, pictures are shown in a slideshow and in a screensaver like window.

Sniff for HTTP, FTP, POP3, SMTP, SMB, VNC and AIM password/hash and HTTP cookies like ‘GX’.

Select a client and follow his clicks in your browser. [WebSession]

Screensaver included. Shows sniffed pictures in a slideshow.

For the advanced user: You can capture traffic into a pcap file, send a pcap file and replay a pcap file.

For advanced user: You can restrict captured traffic by tcpdump filters.

Please note, WinPcap [] is used to get the network traffic. The Setup will install WinPcap automatically.

The columns in the log file are tabulator separated for easy import into Excel


Personal system screenshot

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

New documents show the British legal process for hacking civilian targets – New court documents made public today have revealed the UK’s troublingly broad legal justification for state-sponsored hacking, including targeting individuals who are not under any suspicion of committing a crime.

The documents come as part of a case lead by British watchdog Privacy International, which has been pushing two separate court cases before the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, attempting to gain more details about the state hacking described in the Snowden documents. These admissions are the most tangible explanation yet of the legal framework behind the British surveillance described by Snowden. “Without any legitimate legal justification, they think they have the authority to target anyone they wish, no matter if they are suspected of a crime,” said Privacy International’s Eric King. “This suspicionless hacking must come to an end and the activities of our intelligence agencies must be brought under the rule of law.”

The noteworthy phrase comes at paragraph 77, when the GCHQ details a procedural point for “conduct[ing] equipment interference activity specifically against individuals who are not intelligence targets in their own right.” The passage indicates the agency has no qualms about collateral hacks like the recently revealed attack on the SIM card manufacturer Gemalto, which surveilled civilian infrastructure as a means to gain broader access, rather than because of any specific suspicions. Even where warrants do apply, the requirements for obtaining one are often laughably meager. Later paragraphs state that the identity of the target is only necessary when its known by the agents, and the details of the offense committed are only necessary “where relevant.”

Australia’s data-retention debate hits Derpcon Zero – Forget the distraction about journalists and warrants. Government spin and opposition incompetence have just gone off the scale.

Australia: Telstra contradicts Brandis on data retention – Contrary to the claims of Australia’s Attorney-General George Brandis, telcos will be required to store information that they don’t currently store as part of mandatory data-retention legislation, Telstra’s chief information security officer Mike Burgess has said.

Where’s the data? Feds can’t seize emails stored in Ireland, Microsoft says – The U.S. government wants access to an alleged drug dealer’s emails, but Microsoft says, sorry, they’re in Ireland and out of bounds. This is what happens when we apply non-digital rules to digital situations.

At issue is the question of whether companies or individuals can keep the U.S. government from accessing their email by arguing that it resides on a server in a country that is hostile to such searches. The most recent development came last week (March 9) in a case that involves Microsoft, a U.S. citizen accused of narcotics trafficking and an MSN email server sitting in Dublin, Ireland. The case’s supporting players read like the game “which of these are different from the others?”: On Microsoft’s side is Verizon, AT&T, Apple, Cisco — and the Electronic Freedom Foundation.

From their point of view, they are challenging the federal government’s ability to access email records if those documents are stored outside of the U.S. From the government’s perspective, the question is whether a company can skirt legal inquiries by simply choosing to house records in a friendlier country. Think of Ireland in this case as the email equivalent of what the tax-avoiding Swiss bank account used to be.

What’s scarier: terrorism, or governments blocking websites in its name? – The French Interior Ministry on Monday ordered that five websites be blocked on the grounds that they promote or advocate terrorism. “I do not want to see sites that could lead people to take up arms on the Internet,” proclaimed Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve.

When the block functions properly, visitors to those banned sites, rather than accessing the content of the sites they chose to visit, will be automatically redirected to the Interior Ministry website. There, they will be greeted by a graphic of a large red hand, and text informing them that they were attempting to access a site that causes or promotes terrorism: “you are being redirected to this official website since your computer was about to connect with a page that provokes terrorist acts or condones terrorism publicly.”

No judge reviews the Interior Ministry’s decisions. The minister first requests that the website owner voluntarily remove the content he deems transgressive; upon disobedience, the minister unilaterally issues the order to Internet service providers for the sites to be blocked. This censorship power is vested pursuant to a law recently enacted in France empowering the interior minister to block websites.


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

2 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 18, 2015

  1. Fred

    Hi Bill!
    Cyberattacks caused the leak of one billion records in 2014
    “he majority of these records were stolen from US companies.”
    Like the story immediately preceding that one it shows that American companies DO NOT GIVE A DAMN about their customers, in more ways than one. Really, Bill, it is getting to the point that both businesses and government are our WORST enemies. Seriously. Good Lord!
    I was totally unaware of the information you posted on the Tech Thought comment about Canada’s ex Justice Minister. You know in America when they want to squelch freedom they always say it is “FOR THE CHILDREN” nowadays I know better.
    I used to think Bill Clinton was the worst president, the George W. Bush, but Obama is clearly head and shoulders above them both in DESTROYING freedom. And I think of all of those young college folks who thought he was the Messiah!!!
    Note that there are NO safeguards for US in this Exec Order, and he has done more EO than any other president, in fact more than some combined.
    President Obama recently issued an executive order calling on private companies (phone companies, banks, Internet providers, you name it) to share their customer data with each other and, most importantly, the government.

    With best wishes always,

    • Hi Fred,

      Hard to disagree with your perspective on this. An example of which you speak, might well be today’s – Target proposes $10 million settlement deal for customers after credit card hack.

      On the face of it – and, I’m not suggesting that the final cost in all of this is limited to this $10M – this paltry sum is insulting – no really – INSULTING! It’s hard not to make the association between this joke of a number and Target’s policy view of it’s customer base. In other words – they don’t give a shit.

      Now none of the above may be factual – but, as they are wont to say in the “social manipulation business” – the optics are terrible.

      Yep, Toews is a reprehensible human being – but, a pretty average representative of the CONservative party in this country. Morally and ethically incapable – each and every one.

      I must admit that I had tears in my eyes at Obama’s first inauguration – the emotional vibrations were catching and were felt around the world.

      It’s fair to say that the havoc caused by the Republican’s obstructionists tactics created an enormous obstacle for Obama – much of it (as viewed from outside the U.S.) driven by racism. Nevertheless, in my view, Obama has proven to be a bumbler and a stumbler – a man who lacks the ability to translate his words into action.

      Worse though – he has proven to be JUST A POLITICIAN. A politician currently driven by a need to accede to the fairy tale wishes of an underground cabal of so called “intelligence experts” whose aim is complete control of human thought. And of course, the need to feed the insatiable appetite of the U.S. Military/Industrial complex. You know, the guys who would (and do!) stomp our faces into the ground, all in the cause of “freedom”.

      What a depressing response – but there you have it. 🙂