Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 22, 2015

Microsoft rolling out 34 unscheduled patches for Windows today;  Here’s why many “free” apps drain your smartphone battery;  23 Hidden Chrome Features That Will Make Your Life Easier;  Which Antivirus Is Best? Tough Test Separates Winners and Losers;  The Best VPN Services for 2015;  Which CPU Should You Buy? Comparing Intel Core i5 vs. i7;  JustWatch is a search engine for streaming video;  WhatsApp voice calling comes to iOS;  IC3 Warns of Cyber Attacks Focused on Law Enforcement and Public Officials;  Wi-Fi Attack Breaks iPhones By Locking Them Into an Endless Loop;  What you need to know about Wi-Fi calling;  3 alternative mobile browsers;  Twitter expands threats ban, may lock accounts;  U.S. Secretary Of Homeland Security Warns About The Dangers Of Pervasive Encryption;

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Microsoft rolling out 34 unscheduled patches for Windows today – Microsoft is making a rare move by rolling out a second batch of software patches in April. A Microsoft support page lists 34 patches in total for today. All of them are optional, which means they don’t address critical security problems, and won’t be installed automatically. To grab them, you’ll have to go to the Windows Update screen and install them manually.

Which Antivirus Is Best? Tough Test Separates Winners and Losers – These days you don’t have to download a Trojan to get infested by malware. Drive-by downloads and other sneaky techniques can infest your computer just because you surfed to a malicious or hacked site. To evade detection, the bad guys often configure their nasty code so it doesn’t attack every visitor. It might attack one visitor in ten, or only trigger once for a given block of IP addresses. Researchers at Dennis Technology Labs take these tactics into account when testing antivirus software with a test system that ensures each product gets hit by precisely the same attack. It’s meant to be as close as you can come to a real user’s experience.

Pointing up   Please read the comments to this article for a dissenting view on the value of this type of testing.

3 alternative mobile browsers you’ll like better than the one on your smartphone – Sure, your shiny new Android or iOS device comes with its own browser installed. So why invest your time—and money—installing another browser? Because one of these alternatives can add functionality missing from your phone or tablet, boost your browsing speed, and make your mobile life just that much easier.

Here’s why many “free” apps drain your smartphone battery – A new study by University of Southern California, Rochester Institute of Technology, and Queen’s University in Canada, found that free apps that contain advertisements can use as much as 33 percent more battery power than apps without. Because the ads have to be downloaded, that adds to the cost of owning a device. On average, free apps with ads use as much as 79 percent more network data, which over time piles up the pennies. And once those apps are opened, the ads cause the device to churn up additional processing power and memory. Those things in combination can lower the battery life from 2.5 hours to 2.1 hours on average per day.

Offload your old devices with ecoATM – You know those coin machines at the supermarket which can take your jar of nickels and dimes then give you paper currency? ecoATM works on the same principle. You feed it your old cell phone (MP3 players and tablets are also accepted) and the kiosk determines the value of your device based on model, condition and current market price. It provides a quote for you and if you accept it pays you the cash immediately. The kiosks also accept chargers, cases and other accessories for recycling, but there is no payout for them. Devices from all carriers are accepted.



The Best VPN Services for 2015 – Everyone is watching what you do online. Advertisers, nation-state adversaries, neighbors, cyber-criminals, even our own government. It’s also gotten easier than ever to find a public Wi-Fi hotspot in places like airports, coffee shops, libraries, and public parks. Since you never know who might be virtually looking over your shoulder at what you are up to, a virtual private network (VPN) service is something you really need to protect your identity and preserve your privacy. The hard part is figuring out which one to use.

23 Hidden Chrome Features That Will Make Your Life Easier – One of the reasons for Chrome’s popularity is its clean, polished UI and its versatility. While Chrome’s abilities multiply greatly when you consider the near-bottomless library of extensions, there’s a bounty of stock functionality embedded all throughout Chrome’s guts that you may not even know about. Click through our slideshow for a list of 23 hidden tricks hidden inside Chrome that you really need to be using.

Oomi is a sensor-packed connected-home system looking to break the mold – The heart of the Oomi system is the Oomi Cube and the Oomi Touch. The Cube is a combination hub, night-vision IP camera, environmental sensor (motion, vibration, sound, temperature, humidity, glass break, and ambient light), and infrared emitter (for controlling a home-theater system). The Touch is a dedicated 7.0-inch touchscreen tablet for controlling the system. Purpose-built hardware is almost always more powerful and easier to use than software running on a device originally built for some other purpose.


Twitter expands threats ban, may lock accounts in aim to limit abuse – Social network says previous policy on violent threats was “unduly narrow.” Also, it will suspend accounts or force users to delete tweets if they engage in abusive behavior.

The art of Windows file search – At first glance, Windows’ search tool seems simple but underpowered. You open up Windows Explorer (File Explorer in Windows 8), type a word in the search field, and files containing that word appear. But there’s really much more to it than that.

Which CPU Should You Buy? Comparing Intel Core i5 vs. i7 – For many consumers who are on the hunt for a new desktop or laptop PC, one of the biggest considerations is the type of processor. Two of the CPUs most often in contention are the Intel Core i5 and Intel Core i7. Discounting Core i3 (mainly found in budget systems) and AMD processors (another story entirely), the difference between Intel Core i5 and Core i7 can seem daunting, especially when the prices seem so close together once they’re in completed systems. We break down the differences for you.

Can’t find the show you like? JustWatch is a search engine for streaming video – A new search engine for streaming video promises a solution for users who have more than one video provider, pulling content from 15 different libraries including Netflix, Hulu, and Xbox Video.


Controversial After School App Relaunches With New Safety Features And Zero Tolerance For Hate – Among other safeguards, the new version of the app adds a human safety layer. Every post on the social network is reviewed by a member of the After School staff before it’s published. Levy says the startup has 15 employees dedicated to this task around the clock and it usually takes less than a minute for a post to be approved. This After School staff member also adds one of six tags to a post, some of which triggers additional actions.

after school

Yet again, Microsoft is offering up to $150 off the Surface Pro 3, plus a free sleeve – Less than a month after its last discounts on the Surface Pro 3, Microsoft is once again offering up to $150 off the price of its flagship tablet, along with a free protective sleeve.

WhatsApp voice calling comes to iOS – A few weeks ago, the hugely popular chatting service WhatsApp started letting Android users make voice calls through the app, and now that feature is starting to roll out to iOS users. An update to the iOS app hit the iTunes Store earlier today and indicates that you’ll soon be able to call anyone using WhatsApp for free, regardless of where they may live. Naturally, the app uses your internet connection to complete these calls. But even if you update the app today, you might not have access to the feature just yet — WhatsApp says it’ll roll out “slowly over the next few weeks.”

What you need to know about Wi-Fi calling – Although apps like Skype, Google Hangouts and WhatsApp make it easier for smartphone users to place calls over the Internet and forgo mobile networks altogether, carriers have shown increasing interest in adopting Wi-Fi calling themselves. Whether it’s because they want to bolster their network coverage or improve user experience, some US carriers already provide the service, and EE, a carrier in the UK, announced earlier this month that it will offer it as well. To help you make sense of what Wi-Fi calling is, why it’s important, and what you can use it for, CNET put together a handy guide to walk you through everything you need to know.

PiPO unveils the X8, a “Windows TV box + desktop tablet” for under $100 – More set-top box than tablet, the X8 is an unusual Windows 8.1 device that connects to your TV, and is expected to cost under $100 – and a version that dual-boots Windows and Android is on the way. It appears that the device will be available in black and white versions, and comes with Windows 8.1 with Bing, but PiPO told that a dual-boot version that runs both Windows and Android is in development, and is likely to be called the X8s. The standard X8 is expected to go on sale in May, priced from under $100.


ChatGrape, The Enterprise Messaging App Backed By Betaworks And Mark Pincus, Launches Publicly – After securing backing from Betaworks, and more quietly Zynga founder Mark Pincus, ChatGrape, the enterprise and team messaging app that pitches itself as a more ‘intelligent’ Slack or HipChat, is launching publicly today.

Microsoft’s Lockbox for Office 365 gives you more control of your data – Microsoft has announced a new feature for Office 365 at the RSA conference called Customer Lockbox for Office 365; this feature gives you more control over your data and who can access it.

Speed up Outlook email chores: 5 ways to automate repetitive tasks – Anything that speeds up email communication in Microsoft Outlook has to be a bonus. Typing and retyping the same paragraphs, the same information, explanations, directions, instructions, and so on is half the problem—one that can be easily solved with these five, easy, time-saving tips.

Amazon launches Amazon Destinations, for weekend road-trippers – With a new service that offers hotel bookings, and info on dining and attractions, the e-commerce giant joins TripAdvisor, Airbnb and others in the competitive field of online travel agencies.


IC3 Warns of Cyber Attacks Focused on Law Enforcement and Public Officials – The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) has issued an alert warning that law enforcement personnel and public officials may be at an increased risk of cyber attacks. Doxing—the act of gathering and publishing individuals’ personal information without permission—has been observed. Hacking collectives may exploit publicly available information identifying officers or officials, their employers, and their families. These target groups should protect their online presence and exposure. Users are encouraged to review the IC3 Alert for details and refer to US-CERT Tip ST06-003 for information on staying safe on social network sites.

Wi-Fi Attack Breaks iPhones By Locking Them Into an Endless Loop – Researchers from Skycure demonstrated a novel attack at the RSA 2015 conference that affects iPhones and other iOS devices. The attack, which takes advantage of new and previously announced vulnerabilities, locks iPhones into a never-ending reboot cycle effectively rendering them useless.

Apple failed to fix “rootpipe” backdoor flaw, researcher warns – Summary:The bug should’ve been squashed in the latest update of OS X 10.10.3, but researchers say it persists. Every Mac is at risk from this “backdoor” bug.

Malware tops Australia’s online crime threat: ACC – The next five years will see the criminal deployment of malware top the online crime threat to Australia, according to the Australian Crime Commission.

D-Link router user? Keep your ears and eyes open for the next firmware fixes! – A critical bug that leaves various D-Link routers wide open has apparently been patched… except that the patches need patches. Watch out!

Schneier on Security: Hacking Airplanes – It’s certainly possible, but in the scheme of Internet risks I worry about, it’s not very high. I’m more worried about the more pedestrian attacks against more common Internet-connected devices. I’m more worried, for example, about a multination cyber arms race that stockpiles capabilities such as this, and prioritizes attack over defense in an effort to gain relative advantage. I worry about the democratization of cyberattack techniques, and who might have the capabilities currently reserved for nation-states. And I worry about a future a decade from now if these problems aren’t addressed.

Company News:

Tesla to announce home batteries on April 30 – The rumors are true. Tesla just “announced” that it will unveil new type of lithium-ion battery for homes and offices. In an email to investors, Tesla’s Jeffery Evanson said that the company will use its April 30th presentation to, “explain the advantages of our solutions and why past battery options were not compelling.” The innovative car company also plans to reveal a second, “very large” lithium-ion battery for large-scale utilities. Such a sizable battery would be idea for doomsday preppers and those wishing to stay “off the grid.

Google, Apple and Amazon spent record amounts on lobbying in Q1 – Google, Apple and spent record amounts in the first quarter attempting to influence U.S. politicians and policy. Google, which was already the biggest tech lobbyist in Washington, D.C., spent $5.47 million in the first three months of the year, according to a report filed with the Senate Office of Public Records. That made it the fifth biggest federal lobbyist across all industries during the quarter, according to an analysis by Maplight.

China-based Huawei sets sights on a “top three” sales spot in the U.S. – Even though there’s still sales growth to be had in its home country of China, Huawei is gearing up to tackle the U.S. smartphone market.

BlackBerry Is Buying File Security And DRM Startup WatchDox for up to $150M – According to reports coming out of Israel, now confirmed by BlackBerry itself, it is buying WatchDox, a startup that has developed cross-platform technology for digital rights management and for enterprises to share files securely. BlackBerry, the reports say, is paying between $100 million and $150 million for the company, and will also leverage its 100-person team in Israel to build out its R&D operations in the country. BlackBerry says it is not disclosing the terms of the deal. The plan is to integrate WatchDox’s technology as a value-added service with BlackBerry’s Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) portfolio. It will be available with BES12, which works on multiple platforms.

Apple Pay takes hold as PayPal dives – The mobile iteration of PayPal is taking a dive – and has been taking a dive the for past year – as Apple Pay begins to take a firm grasp on mobile payments. Thus says the data presented by 451 Research in a study conducted over the 3-month period ending this March, 2015. In it, 451 Research’s ChangeWave service had 4,168 respondents “primarily based in North America” answer questions about their planned use (over the next 90 days) of mobile payment applications as well as issues of security therein.

Yahoo, still reliant on PCs, posts disappointing earnings – Mobile is a crucial element in CEO Marissa Mayer’s turnaround plan for Yahoo, but the company is still heavily dependant on PCs for its money. That was evident Tuesday when Yahoo reported its financial results for the last quarter. Revenue from ads displayed on PCs brought in $873 million — more than three-quarters of the total. Mobile revenue climbed 61 percent from last year, but still reached only $234 million. This could be one reason Yahoo continues to struggle.

HP partners with FireEye for cyberattack investigation and response – FireEye’s threat detection and incident response capabilities will be incorporated into HP’s Enterprise Services. The companies are planning to offer an “industry standard reference architecture” centered around advanced threat protection and incident response, according to a news release Tuesday from the RSA security conference in San Francisco. The two companies will have a Global Incident Response team to investigate cyberattacks and offer an Advanced Compromise Assessment service, which will evaluate whether a company has been breached.

Games and Entertainment:

HBO sends warnings to paying HBO Now customers who don’t live in the US – HBO has sent warnings to thousands of people around the world – not pirates, but folks who have been paying the company to access its HBO Now subscription service, which it says is for US users only.

Nintendo Wii U bundle ‘Splatoon’ arrives May 29 – Nintendo has announced the upcoming arrival of a Wii U Splatoon bundle, which will bring with it the title alongside Nintendo’s Wii U console. The bundle will be available starting next month from Best Buy, and will involve a Wii U Deluxe console, pre-installed Nintendo Land games, and a code to download Splatoon for free. The game is a family-friendly offering, being an action shooter with ink-spraying, customizable characters, splatting, squid transformations, ink-swimming, and more. It’ll be priced at $299.99 USD when it drops.


SiliconDust is building a cheap TiVo alternative, based on its HDHomeRun product line – DVR service from cable companies and TiVo can get pretty expensive, but an upcoming alternative from SiliconDust aims to be much cheaper. The company is developing DVR software that works with its existing HDHomeRun TV tuners, both for over-the-air broadcasts and for cable channels. While TiVo and cable companies charge $15 per month or more for DVR service, SiliconDust plans to charge $30 for a whole year.


Supercut shows every character from all six ‘Star Wars’ movies – To celebrate the upcoming release of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” a dedicated fan has compiled a 24-minute supercut featuring every single character from all six “Star Wars” films.


Eye-popping ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ is almost too spectacular (spoiler-free review) – Iron Man, Captain America and the team are back for an adventure that’s nearly too big for the cinema screen.


Off Topic (Sort of):

Philips introduces new 60W LED lightbulb under $5 – Philips is releasing what could soon be the cheapest 60 watt equivalent LED lightbulb on the market. There are a plethora of reasons people might want to stick with incandescents over LED lightbulbs, but Philips’ newest LED bulb just voided the majority of consumers’ biggest concern: cost. At only $4.97 USD, the price of these bulbs is low enough to sway those consumers who have been looking to lower their monthly electric bill but still haven’t been convinced by previous LED bulbs on the market.

Virtue Pedalist bicycle sports tiny car-like body – Commuting on a bicycle has its upsides, but there are some potential problems. Lack of adequate storage can be one issue, for example, and rain is an even bigger problem, especially for those living in rainy places like Seattle. The Virtue Pedalist aims to be a sophisticated solution to many of those problems, serving as a sort of cross between a miniature car and bicycle to offer (many of) the benefits of both worlds without compromising all the things that make bikes worthwhile.


California Man Beaten By Sheriffs After Horse Chase Receives Huge Settlement – A man who was filmed being beaten by sheriff deputies in California after fleeing on horseback earlier this month will receive a $650,000 payout, county officials said Tuesday. “The sole purpose of this agreement for both parties is to avoid the costs involved in litigation,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman James Ramos in a statement. “This agreement is a fair outcome for everyone involved, including the taxpayers.” San Bernardino County has not been forced to admit any wrongdoing under the terms of the settlement agreement, which was approved by county supervisors on Tuesday and Pusok’s attorney on Friday.

Search for Loch Ness Monster on Google Street View – Whether or not you believe in the the legendary creature, affectionately known as “Nessie,” she is an undying part of international folklore. And now, she has arrived on Google Street View. Eighty-one years after the the “Surgeon’s Photograph”—which claimed to show the monster peeking out from the misty waters of the lake—Google is bringing 360-degree Street View imagery of Loch Ness to the masses.


This box can literally transmit human emotions over-the-air – Dr. Marianna Obrist and the University of Sussex team researching this technology refer to their creation as Ultrahaptics. To receive a transmission, a user simply places his or her hand a few inches above a grid in the middle of the rather plain-looking white box you see above. Bursts of air shot through the grid stimulate different areas of the palm and trigger an emotional response. The different patterns produced by the Ultrahaptics box can evoke a broad range of emotions, from happiness and excitement to sadness and fear. Darker emotions are triggered by slower, more subdued air patterns directed near outer palm and pinky finger. Quicker, sharper ones aimed at palm’s center have a more uplifting effect.


Help! I Can’t Stop Thinking in Emoji! – The surprise of thinking in tiny cartoon images comes from the expectation that language is going to pop into your head when you think. So what makes emoji different from written language? How do emojis mean and is it different from how words mean?


Watch a man sing ‘If I Only Had a Brain’ filmed on new super-fast MRI – Thanks to magnetic resonance imaging at 100 frames per second, researchers can watch the muscles involved in singing in action.


Open data on criminals and teachers is a-okay, say most US citizens – US citizens are in favor of sharing government information on individual criminals and teachers, but are less happy when such “open data” schemes apply to more personal matters. Sixty-two percent of US citizens support sharing data about individuals’ criminal records, and 60 percent are happy with making information about teachers’ performance in the classroom available. However, only 22 percent support sharing data about their mortgages. These figures, from a survey of attitudes towards government data by Pew Research, reflect the fact that while a slim majority of Americans (53 percent) believe that open data schemes can make the government more accountable, many citizens are distrustful of officials’ ability to handle the data.

Something to think about:

“Confidence is the sexiest thing a woman can have. It’s much sexier than any body part.”

–      Aimee Mullins

Today’s Free Downloads:

Microsoft Process Monitor – Process Monitor is an advanced monitoring tool for Windows that shows real-time file system, Registry and process/thread activity. It combines the features of two legacy Sysinternals utilities, Filemon and Regmon, and adds an extensive list of enhancements including rich and non-destructive filtering, comprehensive event properties such session IDs and user names, reliable process information, full thread stacks with integrated symbol support for each operation, simultaneous logging to a file, and much more. Its uniquely powerful features will make Process Monitor a core utility in your system troubleshooting and malware hunting toolkit.


Networx – NetWorx is a simple and free, yet powerful tool that helps you objectively evaluate your bandwidth situation. You can use it to collect bandwidth usage data and measure the speed of your Internet or any other network connection. NetWorx can help you identify possible sources of network problems, ensure that you do not exceed the bandwidth limits specified by your ISP, or track down suspicious network activity characteristic of Trojan horses and hacker attacks.

The program allows you to monitor all your network connections or a specific network connection (such as Ethernet or PPP) only. The software also features a system of highly customizable visual and sound alerts. You can set it up to alert you when the network connection is down or when some suspicious activity, such as unusually heavy data flow, occurs. It can also automatically disconnect all dialup connections and shut down the system.

The incoming and outgoing traffic is represented on a line chart and logged to a file, so that you can always view statistics about your daily, weekly and monthly bandwidth usage and dialup duration. The reports can be exported to a variety of formats, such as HTML, MS Word and Excel, for further analysis.


Dr. Web CureIT – Dr.WEB CureIt! is an antivirus and anti-spyware scanning tool that is developed on the Dr.WEB engine which will help you quickly scan and cure, if necessary, a computer without installation of the Dr.WEB Anti-virus.

Dr.WEB CureIT! automatically detects the language of the OS it is installed to and sets the scanner interface accordingly (if the local language is not supported, English is enabled).

Dr.WEB CureIt! supports the following languages: Russian, Arabic, Armenian, Bulgarian, Byelorussian, Czech, English, Estonian, French, Georgian, German, Greek, Hungarian, Japanese, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Portuguese, Slovakian, Spanish, Ukrainian.

Dr.WEB CureIt! contains the most up-to-date add-ons to the Dr.WEB virus bases going up to twice per hour frequency at periods of high malware submissions

Dr.WEB CureIT! detects and removes:

Mass-mailing worms

E-mail viruses

Peer-to-peer viruses

Internet worms

File viruses


Stealth viruses

Polymorphic viruses

Bodiless viruses

Macro viruses

MS Office viruses

Script viruses



Password stealers


Paid Dialers





Joke programs

Malicious scripts

Other malware

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

The system is like a ship – once it leaves port there is no stopping it. Unless it sinks.

Millennials’ view of Snowden could spur surveillance relief, ACLU says – A generational change could help usher in a new era in which governments prune back their surveillance efforts.

That’s the message from the American Civil Liberties Union, drawing on a study that looked into the attitude of millennials in 10 countries toward Edward Snowden, who in 2013 leaked reams of classified documents about spying programs conducted by the US National Security Agency. What the ACLU found, it said, is that members of this younger generation who know about Snowden have an “overwhelmingly positive opinion” about him.

Millennials — those born roughly between 1980 and 1999 — also tend to believe that Snowden’s disclosures will help to bring about greater privacy protections, according to the ACLU.

U.S. Secretary Of Homeland Security Warns About The Dangers Of Pervasive Encryption – In a speech at cybersecurity conference RSA, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson outlined the government’s discomfort with increasing implementation of encryption by technology companies, and what impact the shift might have on national security.

While tech firms like Apple are advancing encryption to an increasingly broad set of consumer activities, the government is concerned that it could increasingly be locked out from the communications, and the intentions, of threats to national security.

The issue of encryption, who should hold the controlling keys, and if American technology companies should be compelled to provide special access to consumer data to the United States government are issues as old as they are controversial. The common argument against any weakening of encryption is that there are no unexploitable weaknesses — if Google were to craft a back or front door for the U.S. government, it’s impossible to keep that same entryway free from other parties.

After asking for “indulgence” and “understanding,” the secretary said during his remarks that the “current course [the technology industry is on], toward deeper and deeper encryption in response to the demands of the marketplace, is one that presents real challenges for those in law enforcement and national security.”

Texas aims to limit controversial “stingray” phone-tracking tech – Two bills in Texas aim to limit the use of a shadowy device, which critics argue can indiscriminately collect vast amounts of cellphone users’ data.

The “stingray” technology, otherwise known as a cell-site simulator, can grab crucial data from a suspect’s smartphone. The public knows very little about how the suitcase-sized box works, except that it can track cellphones and smartphones, grab data, and intercept phone calls and messages.

But legislators, both in the state and further afield, are none the wiser as to how the technology actually works.

That’s because the FBI has forced local law enforcement officials to sign a non-disclosure agreement with the stingray’s maker.

The FBI has called the technology (and its surrounding secrecy) a matter of “national security.”

That’s prompted members in both houses of Texas’ state congress to introduced bills aimed at curbing the use of the controversial gadget by making its use without a warrant illegal.


Cell-phone tracking stingray devices can fit in a small suitcase. (Image: Harris)

Homeland Security Department to open Silicon Valley office – Tech companies will soon be competing for talent with a new player in Silicon Valley: the Department of Homeland Security.

During a speech today at the security-focused RSA Conference in San Francisco, US Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced that his department is opening a cybersecurity office in Silicon Valley.

And Johnson wasn’t coy about why: he wants to tap into the Valley’s minds.

“We want to convince the talented workforce to come to Washington,” said Johnson. “The government doesn’t have all the answers nor do we have all the talent…We need each other and we must work together. There are things government can do for you and there are things you can (help us do).”

Among the cybersecurity jobs Homeland Security is looking to fill is the role of top cop. Johnson said he’s looking for an “all-star” to head DHS’ National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, or NCCIC.

Congress moves forward on cyberthreat sharing bill despite privacy concerns – The U.S. House of Representatives may vote on a controversial cyberthreat information sharing bill this week, despite major privacy concerns from many digital rights groups and security researchers.

The Protecting Cyber Networks Act “seriously threatens privacy and civil liberties, and would undermine cybersecurity, rather than enhance it,” said a letter sent this week by 55 digital and civil liberties groups, security researchers and academics.

The PCNA, one of two cybersecurity bills that the House may vote on this week, would come to the House floor about a month after it was introduced, an unusually fast process for legislation. Without holding any public hearings on the bill, the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee voted to approve the bill in late March, just two days after it was introduced.

Republicans Continue Fight Against Net Neutrality With Three New Proposals – Congressional Republicans have aggressively sought to block the rules that would preserve the open Internet, which passed on a party-line vote earlier this year. They question the legality of the rulemaking, arguing that an agency comprising unelected officials should not have so much power over an essential component of American commerce. They also question the White House’s involvement in the decision by the independent agency.

The bill drafts introduced by the House Energy and Commerce Committee today are a largely symbolic display from the right. Although it’s possible these bills could pass in the House, it’s unlikely they would clear the Senate where the Republicans hold only a slim majority. If they were to make it to the White House, President Obama is sure to veto them. He came out as a strong supporter of net neutrality last fall.



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

2 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – April 22, 2015

  1. Mal

    Hey Bill,

    Re: The Best VPN Services for 2015

    I’m surprised Cyberghost isn’t on that list. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the best VPN out there. 7 bucks a month for premium, and also a free service available too. I’ve tried a few of the others on the list, and they are good, but for me, Cyberghost is the way.

    It’s a bit like those antivirus tests. Whoever is the flavour of the month, whoever the author likes and dislikes, determines who makes it on the list. Pretty sad really.


    • Hey Mal,

      Your last paragraph says all that needs to be said. I can think of at least 20+ AVs, all of which are known in the tech community, that never appear on these tests. Curious, no?