Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday – October 23, 2015

Next Windows 10 update to roll out early next month;  Hands-free car systems still distract drivers, study says;  How to log in to Windows 10 with a local account;  Facebook Expands Search To All 2 Trillion Posts;  Five tools to beef up your tech emergency toolkit;  Google Chrome for iOS now supports Split View multitasking;  Instagram releases new app for mini video loops;  Your guide to Wi-Fi Sense – Windows 10’s new Wi-Fi Sense feature;  Send photos and videos straight to the cloud with Camra;  BlackBerry Priv briefly appears for pre-order at a whopping $749;  The Best Headphones Under $50;  YouTube Red: How, When, and Why;  LanDroid: The handiest mobile networking tool ever;  How to get to Android Marshmallow’s hidden file manager;  Microsoft Surface Pro 4 vs. Apple iPad Pro: Battle of the Big Tablets;  For privacy and security, change these iOS 9 settings immediately;  Apple fixes 49 security bugs in iOS 9.1;  Jack Dorsey Is Giving Away Nearly $200 Million of His Twitter Stock to Employees;  New Witcher 3 patch out today;  First Episode of Telltale’s ‘Game of Thrones’ Game Now Free;  Canada: Liberals planning swift overhaul of controversial Anti-terrorism Bill C-51.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Hands-free car systems still distract drivers, study says – Distracted driving is a serious epidemic in the United States. To reduce accidents caused by distraction, many states have laws requiring drivers to use hands-free technology behind the wheel. However, a new study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that many current voice-based systems are still a distraction. The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Utah, looked at the use of smartphones and in-car infotainment systems while driving.

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Facebook Expands Search To All 2 Trillion Posts, Surfacing Public Real-Time News – Facebook is ready to challenge Google and Twitter for control of real-time news search and the news itself. Starting today with a rollout to US English language users, Facebook Search will return anything you’re allowed to see from its 2 trillion posts. That includes public posts by all people and Pages, not just your friends and Pages you Like as before. The personalized results will be broken up to highlight posts from trusted news sources, followed by people in your network, lists of the most popular links or quotes about a topic, and then strangers. Similar to how Twitter Search works, this move unlocks all the news and chatter shared on Facebook around big news stories and live events, but with a more human focus.

Firefox will fight back against intrusive advertisers – With its Firefox Web browser, Mozilla plans to take a significant step in the fight against intrusive online advertising. Firefox for years has had a “private browsing” mode that keeps no record of which websites you’ve visited. When Firefox 42 arrives on November 3, that mode will add a tracking protection option designed to block advertising technologies that record people’s online activity. That means people won’t see the same ad following them around different websites, some ads will disappear altogether and analytics services won’t work for websites trying to understand the demographics of their readers.

How to log in to Windows 10 with a local account – Windows 10 fully embraces its identity as a universal operating system. This includes Microsoft strongly suggesting you use a connected Microsoft account to log in to your computer, so you can fully take advantage of Windows 10’s new connected features (such as settings syncing). But there are some downsides to using a Microsoft account — for one thing, you must use a password, which can be a bit frustrating if you’re the sole user of your PC, and your PC is bolted to your desk. Luckily, Windows 10 does still give you the option of using a local account, which is easy to set up.

Next Windows 10 update to roll out early next month – As PC users have had a few month now to get used to Windows 10, it’s already nearing time for Microsoft to release the first big update to the new operating system. As it turns out, such a release is only a few short weeks away, according to analyst Paul Thurrott. The update is said to be codenamed Threshold 2, and will include a number of bug fixes, as well as some adjustments to the overall user interface that were intended to be included in the initial release of Windows 10. For those already eager to download the Windows 10 Fall Update, Thurrott says it’s expected in early November, likely within the first week of the month. This will give desktop users at least a full month with the latest version of Windows 10 before the recently confirmed Windows 10 Mobile arrives in December.

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Your guide to Wi-Fi Sense – Windows 10’s new Wi-Fi Sense feature — which is designed to make it easier to share network credentials without giving up your Wi-Fi password — isn’t my favorite thing. But it can be a convenient way to get credentials around quickly, assuming you trust your Outlook, Skype, and Facebook contacts.

Five tools to beef up your tech emergency toolkit – What applications do you carry with you at all times? I’ve covered this topic once before, but it’s important enough to revisit. Why? Because you can never have enough emergency apps to carry with you in the field. As you might expect, everyone has different needs and every emergency calls for a different tool. That’s why you need to have a variety of tools on hand to cover nearly every issue. In this take on the emergency apps, we’ll examine some tools that, although you may not always use, they will prove irreplaceable when the time comes to fire them up.

LanDroid: The handiest mobile networking tool ever – There are tons of Android tools for network admins, but none are as comprehensive and easy to use as LanDroid. Jack Wallen introduces you to this free must-have tool.

Instagram releases new app for mini video loops – Instagram has launched a new video app called Boomerang, which will produce GIF-style clips at the click of a button. Boomerang takes a one-second burst of five photos to create a mini video loop which can be shared to the main Instagram app and Facebook. Boomerang doesn’t require users to be logged in, or to even have an Instagram account, according to TechCrunch. The controls are simplistic, one shutter button when you open the app, and another screen to share the looping video you’ve just created.

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Send photos and videos straight to the cloud with Camra – Sure, you can manually offload images to your computer or a cloud service, but that’s a hassle — and something you rarely remember to do until it’s too late (e.g., your phone is producing “storage low” messages). Enter Camra [Android|iOS], an app that doesn’t save photos and videos to your phone, but rather sends them directly to the cloud. In other words, images shot with Camra don’t take up residence on your device, meaning you don’t have to worry about running out of space. Well, space on your device, anyway: Camra gives you 5GB of cloud storage for free, or 99 cents monthly for 100GB (a pretty competitive rate). There’s also a $9.99 prepay option that nets you a full year.

YouTube Red: How, When, and Why – This morning YouTube revealed a subscription service that’ll encompass not only all of the video content they have to offer, but music from Google as well. With YouTube Red, users will pay a monthly fee to be able to view the vast majority of YouTube content without advertisements, and offline, too. This service ties in with Google Play Music – and YouTube Music Key – as they’ll soon all be offered under the same umbrella, for the same monthly fee, all at once.

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Monitor your data usage in Windows 10 – Because Windows 10 is a universal operating system, Microsoft has built in some data-monitoring tools for users with a limited data connection. Desktop users probably don’t need to concern themselves with network data usage, but tablet and laptop users may find these tools helpful.

Google Chrome for iOS now supports Split View multitasking – The feature works best on the iPad Air 2, mini 4, and presumably the upcoming plus-sized iPad Pro; older models let you slide a browser view in temporarily, but you can’t use another app at the same time. This iOS update isn’t only focused on the iPad — it also contains support for Autofill, meaning you’ll be able to use stored information like credit card numbers on mobile as well as desktop. You can get the update right now.

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The Best Headphones Under $50 – You don’t need to spend a lot of money to get high-quality sound flowing into your ears. Here’s what to look for in a pair of budget-priced headphones or earphones, along with our top-rated picks.

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Twitter Hints That It May Re-Enable Politwoops, The Service That Tracks Politicians’ Deleted Tweets – According to remarks made by Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey on Wednesday, it seems as if Twitter may be reversing its earlier decision to ban Politwoops, a service that tracked politicians’ deleted tweets, holding them accountable for things they wished they hadn’t said on the micro-blogging service. Developed by the Open State Foundation, Politwoops operated dedicated accounts in 30 countries around the world prior to Twitter’s ban, including one in the U.S. run by a government transparency group called the Sunlight Foundation. In May, Twitter banned the U.S. version of Politwoops, then proceeded to shut down the remaining countries later this summer, saying that the service violated Twitter’s developer agreement, and that everyone on Twitter should have the same rights to privacy…even politicians.

BlackBerry Priv briefly appears for pre-order at a whopping $749 – BlackBerry is getting ready to launch its first Android smartphone, the Priv. We now know all the specs and even a possible price with rumors that official pre-orders may kick off on Friday.

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(Image: BlackBerry)

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 vs. Apple iPad Pro: Battle of the Big Tablets – When Apple unveiled the iPad Pro, its resemblance to Microsoft’s Surface lineup raised some eyebrows. With Redmond’s Surface Pro 4 now available, we wanted to see how the two devices really compare. Let us count the ways.

How to get to Android Marshmallow’s hidden file manager – Did you know you can browse your phone’s file system on Android Marshmallow without downloading a separate app? We’ll show you how.

Security:

Apple fixes 49 security bugs in iOS 9.1; kills jailbreak – The company, which released the software on Wednesday for iPhones and iPads, detailed the flaws in its updated security documentation. Two of the fixes were credited to PanguTeam, a well-known jailbreak team based out of China, which earlier this month released the first jailbreak tool for devices running iOS 9. Jailbreaking (similar to “rooting” for Android phones) allows a user to gain access to more features on a iPhone or iPad, but it comes with additional security risks. It’s not illegal but it will void a user’s warranty.

For privacy and security, change these iOS 9 settings immediately – The minute you download and install iOS 9, the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system, you should take note of these privacy and security steps to lock down your device. iOS 9 comes with a number of security and privacy improvements. Before you do anything like customizing your phone, loading new apps, or syncing your data for the first time, these settings need to be checked — and if necessary, changed.

Hacker alleges Fitbit smartband could be a malware carrier [UPDATE: Fitbit responds] – PCs, smartphones, and tablets are fair game to hackers these days. And we’ve also started to see cars with sophisticated infotainment systems and controls also getting hacked. But how about the innocent little whose sole purpose is to keep your body healthy? Well, now they’re getting hacked as well. And worse, they might be used to make other computers unhealthy. Fortinet researcher Axelle Apvrille reveals that the Fitbit is one such wearable that easily succumbs to a hack in just 10 seconds and can then spread the malware to computers it syncs with.

German surfers blitzed by widespread malvertising campaign – German surfers are under attack from multiple directions this week because of a widespread malvertising campaign. Users of eBay.de and subscribers of ISP T-Online.de were confronted with tainted ads after cybercrooks succeeded in pushing malicious traffic through rogue systems. The attacks began after hackers circumvented reputable ad networks, including German ad-serving technology platform MP NewMedia, before assaulting top publishers and ad networks, security firm Malwarebytes reports. The malign ad campaign is being funnelled through doppelgänger systems. “We spotted two bogus ad servers which bear the same structure that was inspired by the legitimate German platform they were abusing: www1.mpnrs.com/deliver2/deliver2?,” Jérôme Segura, a senior security researcher at Malwarebytes, writes in a blog post on the attack.

Attackers hijack CCTV cameras to launch DDoS attacks – We’ve reached a point that security researchers have long warned is coming: Insecure embedded devices connected to the Internet are routinely being hacked and used in attacks. The latest example is a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack detected recently by security firm Imperva. It was a traditional HTTP flood aimed at overloading a resource on a cloud service, but the malicious requests came from surveillance cameras protecting businesses around the world instead of a typical computer botnet. The attack peaked at 20,000 requests per second and originated from around 900 closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras running embedded versions of Linux and the BusyBox toolkit, researchers from Imperva’s Incapsula team said in a blog post Wednesday.

Google and Yahoo tighten spam filtering – Google and Yahoo are expanding their use of a successful system for identifying spam. The move is part of years-long effort to implement a series of checks designed to figure out if an email really has been sent by the domain it purports to come from. Email spoofing has long been a problem since its easy to forge the “from” address, making it more likely the receiver will believe it came from a legitimate source.

Company News:

Microsoft reports falling revenues, slowing Surface sales in latest quarter – Microsoft’s revenue was down during the first quarter of its 2016 fiscal year, the company reported today in an earnings release. Revenue came in at $20.4 billion, down 12 percent year over year, while income came in at $5.8 billion, down just 1 percent from the same time last year. Net income was at $4.6 billion, a 2 percent increase. Declines came from a number of categories, but one of the notable dips was in Surface hardware. While Surface revenue had been climbing quickly over the past year, it’s now fallen to $672 million, down from $908 million in the same quarter of 2015.

Amazon earnings beat estimates with huge surge in cloud sales and profit – The company reported net revenue of $25.4 billion and net income of $79 million, or $0.17 a share. That means revenue grew 24 percent compared with the same period last year, while income swung positive from a net loss of $437 million, or $0.95 a share, in the year-ago quarter. AWS reported $2.1 billion in revenue and $521 million in profit. That’s a 78 percent rise in revenue and 432 percent rise in profit over last year. Overall, AWS now accounts for around 8 percent of Amazon’s total revenue, but nearly half of its total profits, which puts it close to matching the performance of its entire North American e-commerce division. The results beat Wall Street estimates, which had Amazon at a loss of $0.13 a share on revenue of $24.9 billion, according to analysts surveyed by Thompson Reuters. Investors responded with enthusiasm, sending shares sky rocketing more than 10.5 percent to nearly $564 a share. Amazon stock has been up more than 80 percent over the last 12 months.

Alphabet Beats Q3 Expectations With EPS Of $7.35 And $18.68B In Revenue, Stock Jumps 9% After Hours – Today following the bell, Alaphabet reported its third-quarter financial performance, including revenue of $18.68 billion in revenue, and adjusted per-share profit of $7.35. Analysts had expected the company to earn an adjusted $7.21 on revenue of $18.53 billion. The company’s revenue ticked up 13 percent compared to its year-ago quarter. Cash flow sits at a strong $6 billion. Up over a point in regular trading, Alphabet is up over 9 percent after hours following its earnings beat. The news that the Alphabet board authorized a repurchase of up to $5.1 billion of its class C shares certainly doesn’t hurt.

Jack Dorsey Is Giving Away Nearly $200 Million of His Twitter Stock to Employees – Dorsey tweeted Thursday that he’s giving roughly one third of his Twitter stock back to the employee equity pool, meaning it can be dispersed throughout the company to employees. Dorsey has roughly 22 million shares of stock, according to an SEC filing, and said in his tweet that he has giving back exactly 1 percent of the company. That’s roughly $200 million in stock. This is also the second week in a row Dorsey has given away millions in stock. Last week, when Square filed documents indicating it plans to go public, Dorsey said that he would donate 40 million shares to charity.

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Pandora and record labels reach $90 million settlement over pre-1972 songs – Pandora has reached a $90 settlement with record labels over the music service’s use of recordings created prior to 1972. Specific terms of the settlement are confidential, but it offers “a nationwide resolution for Pandora’s use of the plaintiffs’ pre-1972 recordings.” Those plantiffs are a mix of major and independent record labels including Sony Music Entertainment, Capitol Records, Warner Music Group, UMG Recordings, and ABKCO Music & Records. The Record Industry Association of America (RIAA) sued Pandora last year on behalf of the labels, seeking royalties for Pandora’s use of many classic tracks.

Xiaomi loses top spot to Huawei in massive China smartphone market – Xiaomi has been knocked from the top of China’s smartphone market by Huawei, according to new research, a setback for a company that was often feted as “the Apple of China.” Research company Canalys called it a “remarkable feat” by Huawei, best known outside China for its network equipment, and one that puts Xiaomi under tremendous pressure to maintain its growth rate elsewhere in the world. Xiaomi caught the world’s attention two years ago when it hired Hugo Barra, a former Google executive who managed the development of Android, to help it expand overseas.

Games and Entertainment:

New Witcher 3 patch out today, see full patch notes here – CD Projekt Red is pushing out a new patch for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt that addresses a long list of items across the main game, its new Hearts of Stone expansion, New Game Plus, and more. The patch, 1.11, is scheduled to launch on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 later today. In addition to clearing up bugs, including issues related to the Skellige’s Most Wanted quest, the new Witcher 3 patch improves technical performance in a number of in-game regions across platforms. The full Witcher 3 1.11 changelog is available here [PDF]. Alternatively, you can click through the images in the gallery below to see the complete patch notes.

The new ‘Force Awakens’ trailer, this time with Brooklyn accents – How do you make a great trailer even better? On the latest episode of “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” Kimmel’s crew gives the new “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” trailer a New York remix.

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NBC SeeSo and the beginning of the end for traditional TV channels – NBC will soon begin doing its part with SeeSo, the comedy-focused streaming service it announced last week. When it launches in January, SeeSo will offer a mix of NBC broadcast shows such as Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock, more than 20 original series (Community creator Dan Harmon, for instance, is on board for an “animated adventure”), and syndicated programs such as Monty Python’s Flying Circus and Kids in the Hall. NBC plans to charge $4 per month for the service, with no commercials. An invite-only beta arrives in December.

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Rainbow Six Siege hands-on: The most interesting next-gen shooter yet flirts with MOBAs – Rainbow Six Siege was originally supposed to release last week. Instead, Ubisoft delayed the game to December and brought me into their office to play five tense, swearing-filled hours. Seriously, I swore a lot. There’s not much new to look at, given the game’s already gone through both an alpha and beta that were about as open as either could possibly get while still being called closed. We did check out the game’s new “singleplayer” mode, as well as what I think is the full roster of Operators you can play as. Oh, and the game crashed quite a few times, which makes me glad it was pushed back. Here are my impressions.

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Activision Blizzard’s new Esports division brings former ESPN CEO on board – There’s no denying that the Esports market is growing, and quickly. Last year’s League of Legends Championship was watched by 27 million people on ESPN. To put that in perspective, the final games of both the World Series, and NBA Finals both drew smaller crowds. (23.5 million, and 18 million, respectively). So when ESPN’s former CEO decides to break into the Esports world, it’s really not a big surprise. Today Activision Blizzard announced that Former CEO of ESPN Steven Bornstein will take on the role of Chairman of the company’s Esports division. What’s more, former MLG (Major League Gaming) co-founder Mike Sepso will serve as the Senior Vice President of this new division.

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First Episode of Telltale’s ‘Game of Thrones’ Game Now Free – The sixth season of HBO’s Game of Thrones is still months away, but Telltale has been helping us pass the time with its adventure game based on the beloved television series. Now the game is a little more accessible for everyone. Telltale this week made the first episode of Game of Thrones — Iron From Ice — free to download on all platforms, including PlayStation 4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, iOS, and Android. Each episode is normally $5, so you’re getting a pretty sweet deal, but Telltale is obviously hoping you’ll get addicted to the game and pay to continue.

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Ashes of the Singularity hits Steam, letting you benchmark DirectX 12 at home – DirectX 12 is a Windows 10 exclusive and up until today that’s meant…nothing. We’ve heard about DirectX 12. We’ve tested DirectX 12. But there hasn’t been any upshot to your home rig yet, because there weren’t any games built on DirectX 12. Until now. Stardock launched Ashes of the Singularity on Steam Early Access this morning, which makes it the first DirectX 12 game and game-based benchmark to hit the storefront—and thus the first that’s easily accessible by you at home.

Plex overhauls its home theater PC software with new Plex Media Player – Plex is hitting reboot on its software for living room PCs. The new app is called Plex Media Player, and it’s a complete break from the previous Plex Home Theater desktop software. By abandoning its old code, Plex is promising faster development, more features, and better codec support. Plex was previously based on XMBC/Kodi, another popular program for home theater PCs, but is switching to the open-source MPV as its backbone.

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As Netflix plans on invading India, Eros stands in its way – For movie-streaming and new-production-house-on-the-block Netflix, India is the holy grail that will allow it to propel its customer base from the existing 65 million to hundreds of millions of movie-crazy customers. Towards this purpose, the company plans on spending a staggering $6 billion this year alone on content. However, there remains one obstacle in its plans for world domination: Eros, a little known Indian company globally, but one that has in just a few decades become the number one distributor and producer of local films in India, especially in Hindi cinema, or Bollywood, as it is often called.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Watch: Tesla on Autopilot Suffers Near-Collision – The vehicle maker last week rolled out a software update that added an Autopilot functionality to newer Tesla vehicles. It’s not completely autonomous, but allows cars to steer, switch lanes, and manage speed on their own. “The driver is still responsible for, and ultimately in control of, the car,” Elon Musk said during last week’s announcement. One Tesla owner learned that the hard way. Using his hands to film the experience (watch below) instead of holding the wheel of the car as advised, the driver felt his car veer toward oncoming traffic.

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White dwarf “Death Star” found destroying a planet – A report from NASA this week shows a star literally ripping a solar system apart. Evidence was found by Andrew Vanderburg of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) and crew on the NASA Kepler K2 mission. It would seem that several rocky objects – some the size of Texas – are in “death spirals” a white dwarf star. Data suggests that the largest object spins around the star extremely quickly, reaching a full rotation once every 4.5 hours.

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Enjoy 45 minutes of slow-motion Apollo rocket launches – Step back into the ’60s with a video full of gorgeous slo-mo footage of massive Saturn V rockets carrying Apollo missions into space.

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ePint mug glows to celebrate your team’s score – It’s football season, and you’ve probably had your fair share of beer to go alongside it. The ePint mug wants to complement those two things, bringing them together at appropriate celebratory times. The ePint is an Internet of Things beer mug designed with a frosted outer shell and integrated lights. It glows a bright colorful color, has a built-in bottle opener, and lights up when your team scores, among other things.

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This Warehouse Lab Shows How We Can Grow Plants Underground – Dan Barasch and James Ramsey, the cofounders of the Lowline, have been working since 2011 to build the world’s first underground park inside an abandoned trolley terminal in New York City’s Lower East Side. The Lowline Lab contains an installation of Ramsey’s innovative solar technology, which funnels sunlight from rooftops in the area into the warehouse at an intensity that is strong enough to support plant life. The lab houses some 3,500 plants, including mosses, ferns, herbs, and even strawberries and a miniature pineapple.

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Everything to know about the search for extraterrestrial life at a glance – A new infographic from Space.com details some of the highlights in our quest to know whether we’re alone in the universe.

Something to think about:

“The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.”

–      Muhammad Ali

Downloads:

Farbar Recovery Scan Tool Download: BLEEPINGCOMPUTER REVIEW -Farbar Recovery Scan Tool, or FRST, is a portable application designed to run on Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8 in normal or safe mode to diagnose malware issues. It is also possible to run FRST in the Windows Recovery Environment in order to diagnose and fix boot issues.

If you are using Windows XP and have boot issue, the system should boot to the Recovery Environment using a PE Boot CD and then you can run FRST

This program will display detailed information about the Windows Registry loading points, services, driver services, Netsvcs entries, known DLLs, drives, and partition specifications. It will also list some important system files that could be patched by malware.

Note: There are both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Farbar Recovery Scan Tool available. Please pick the version that matches your operating system’s bit type. If you don’t know which version matches your system, you may try both of them. Only one of them will run on your system.

Firewall 3.0 – Firewall extends the default Windows embedded firewall behavior, allowing you to handle outgoing connections, and displaying (almost) real-time information about the current connections.

This enables your firewall protection and will make your Windows Firewall very easy to use, you can reset firewall rules and add rules by clicking shields on the main interface. You can use the buttons as well such as Webcam Monitor etc.

Firewall Features:

Elevates UAC Protection

No PayPal Donations SPAM

Easy To Use 100% FREEWARE

100% Spyware Free

Very Lightweight

Patches embedded Windows Firewall with Security fix

Disable any Webcam Hardware

Added Windows Firewall skin

Icons & Sound Effects plus Taskbar

All Software Bugs fixed Auto Activation – New Feature!

Webcam Driver Immunizer

Windows 10 Pro Full Compatibility

Detects hidden UAC Security risks which can bypass Windows firewall

Web Protection for Firefox

Blocks most Zer0-day exploits such as Webcam access etc.

Sets the firewall to block both inbound and outbound connections

Firewall Monitor

Enables the Windows firewall outbound connections logging (disabled by default)

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Canada: Liberals planning swift overhaul of controversial Anti-terrorism Act, or Bill C-51 – The controversial security bill rammed through Parliament by the Conservative government in the spring is expected to be overhauled without delay by the new Liberal government, say party officials and other sources.

Proposed legislation to add new measures and repeal some existing parts of the law, now known as the Anti-terrorism Act of 2015, or C-51, is already being drafted and is to be tabled early in the new parliamentary session. Consultations with the public and various experts are planned before the replacement legislation is put to a final House vote.

Apple to Feds: Good Luck Breaking Into a Locked iPhone – Accessing data on a locked iPhone running the latest version of iOS would be “impossible,” according to Apple.

Following a U.S. Justice Department request for access to a seized, but locked, iPhone, Cupertino told a judge that the request “would be impossible to perform” on newer devices, Reuters said.

That’s because Apple beefed up security starting with iOS 8, turning encryption on by default. So if a phone running iOS 8 or 9 is locked, even Cupertino can’t get in.

“On devices running iOS 8 and later versions, your personal data is placed under the protection of your passcode,” Apple says on its website. “For all devices running iOS 8 and later versions, Apple will not perform iOS data extractions in response to government search warrants because the files to be extracted are protected by an encryption key that is tied to the user’s passcode, which Apple does not possess.”

“It’s not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession,” according to Apple.

CISA blowup: ‘Web giants sharing private info isn’t about security – it’s state surveillance’ – There were sharp words on the floor of the US Senate on Wednesday as lawmakers debated the controversial Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) and its amendments.

The bill, proposed by Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), would allow internet giants and other companies to share people’s personal information with the US government so it can be analyzed for signs of lawbreaking – be it computer related or not.

In return, the companies would get legal immunity from angry customers, although legal action is unlikely because the businesses and the government don’t have to reveal what they have shared, even with a freedom of information request.

The proposed legislation has been criticized by internet rights groups, and also by technology firms. Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and others published an open letter calling for the legislation to be rewritten, and since then Apple, Salesforce.com, Yelp, and Wikipedia have joined them in opposing the draft law.

Feinstein said organizations won’t be forced to reveal citizens’ private lives to Uncle Sam: it won’t be mandatory for businesses to hand over people’s private records, she claimed.

“If you don’t like the bill, you don’t have to do it,” Feinstein said.

“So it’s hard for me to understand why we have companies like Apple and Google and Microsoft and others saying they can’t support the bill at this time. You have no reason, because you don’t have to do anything, but there are companies by the hundreds if not thousands that want to participate in this.”

Her colleague Burr said on the floor that he couldn’t understand the opposition to CISA. Businesses against the new law will put their users at risk, he said, because by not sharing people’s personal information, they will not be given intelligence and heads up on attacks from the Feds.

“When the companies who are against this get hacked, they are going to be begging to cooperate with the federal government,” he opined.

Security researchers face wrath of spy agencies – Researchers tasked with revealing attacks by intelligence agencies are being harassed, locked out of tenders, and in some cases deported, Kaspersky researcher Juan Andrés Guerrero-Saade says.

Retaliation by the unnamed agencies is in direct response to news of prominent advanced-persistent threat campaigns that have coloured information security reporting over recent years.

Those reports are forcing researchers to reveal malware attacks by government spy agencies.

Specific details on the harassment is tightly-held, although some may occur in Eastern Europe and Asian nations.

Guerrero-Saade told Vulture South researchers have spoken about their ordeals in private information security circles. Other stories circulate as industry rumour.

“In many places intelligence services tend to be more civilised than in others — you would be lucky to deal with them in the US versus wherever else, Latin America, Asia, or Eastern Europe where they take very different tactics, ” Guerrero-Saade says.

“You can definitely see these threats to livelihood[s] where it can be as simple as patriotic notions … all the way to ‘you have already made it clear where you stand and it’s going to be next to impossible for you to get a security clearance’ and to work in a large sector of countries where a large amount of anti-malware work is being done.

“I think it is easier to imagine situations where blackmail, compromise, and threat of livelihood is an issue, and it has been an issue for certain researchers for obvious reasons aren’t going to speak up.”

WikiLeaks Publishes Dozens of CIA Director’s Alleged Email and AIM Contacts – As promised, the secret-spilling organization led by Julian Assange released more information obtained by the teenage hackers who allegedly broke into the email account of CIA Director John Brennan on Thursday.

The new release consists of two documents, a preface and an executive summary report on the US government’s strategy in Pakistan and Afghanistan, as well as a long list of Brennan’s email and AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) contacts.The list has almost two hundred AIM handles, and more than 1,000 email addresses.

On Wednesday, WikiLeaks published a first batch of documents from Brennan’s account, none of them classified. The group, however, also published an unredacted draft of Brennan’s Standard Form 86, a form that every government employee with a security clearance has to fill. The form contains loads of personal data on the applicant, as well as his family. In this case, the form contained Brennan’s social security number, as well as that of some of his family members.

Some have questioned the value of publishing such personal details.

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