Encryption: You can’t put the genie back in the bottle; Tech Industry Coalition Defies Calls for Weakened Encryption; Google Play radically updated; Google Will Pay to Defend YouTubers Against Copyright Claims; Skype for Android now lets you save video messages; Free PowerPoint add-in offers integration with Facebook and Twitter; Facebook Debuts The Digital Breakup; Instagram doubles its active users in India in a year; Amazon now allows two-factor authentication; Number of Web Users in India on Track to Top U.S; Play all of the Fallout games prior to Fallout 4 for $20; 7 common holiday travel nightmares, solved; The 10 Best Bluetooth Speakers of 2015; µBlock, a lean and fast blocker (free): The 25 Best Inventions of 2015.
Tech Industry Coalition Defies Calls for Weakened Encryption – A coalition of dozens of the largest tech companies in the world is adamantly opposing any form of an official “backdoor” into encrypted devices. The Information Technology Industry Council is a group of more than 60 major tech companies and organizations, including Google, Apple, Microsoft, Intel and Facebook. The tech community isn’t persuaded by the calls for an encryption backdoor: From CEOs and investors to researchers and privacy advocates, many have already spoken out against the idea.
Encryption: You can’t put the genie back in the bottle – Security researchers and executives at Google and Microsoft warn that the rhetoric around encryption, and a back door, is counterproductive — and technologically infeasible.
Keep sensitive data in texts private and screenshot-proof with Confide – Let’s say you send a text message that contains sensitive information. What happens when the recipient takes a screenshot of the text and posts that information on a social forum? While it’s rare, this can (and does) happen. How can you avoid it? One method is to employ an app called Confide. Confide allows you to send messages to a recipient — who either has to be using the same app or must be viewing the messages in a browser via a link — and prevent them from taking a screenshot of the message. For anyone who is seriously concerned about privacy, this could be a must-have app. Let’s dive in and see if it’s right for you. Before you install the app, here’s what you need to know.
Google Will Pay to Defend YouTubers Against Copyright Claims – Google will cover up to $1 million in legal costs for YouTube video creators who are sued for violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) but are —in Google’s opinion—actually using that footage legally. The DMCA allows for “fair use” exemptions—criticism, research, teaching, news reporting, etc.—that lets creators use footage without permission from the copyright owner. But copyright holders still issue takedown notices for fair use videos, and many smaller video creators, fearing a pricey legal battle, don’t fight back. That’s where Google comes in.
Skype for Android now lets you save video messages – The Skype app for Android has just been updated with a handy option for users who would like to save and keep video messages of importance. The new version, available now, lets users save received video messages by tapping the thumbnail in the conversation view, and simply choosing the “Save to Gallery” option. Think of it as a way to hang on to video voicemails from loved ones or those with important details needed later.
Google Play radically updated: APK download available now – Those of you wishing to see the new Google Play – wait no longer. The folks at Google responsible for selling you apps and entertainment have done the store a great justice. They’ve split the whole thing in two. Now you’ll be able to decide instantly whether you’re going to be looking for Apps and Games OR Entertainment bits and pieces. Inside Entertainment you’ll find books, movies, and music too. The app file has been released to the public – you can wait, or you can update your device using the APK file.
Google Hangouts activates guest mode for meetings – Google’s latest bid to make their products more instantly-available to users is in “guest” mode in Google Hangouts. This feature allows people with Google accounts to host Google Hangouts meetings in which invited guests can join the conversation without needing a Google account of their own. This system requires joining guests to tap a button or two, write in a name so people know who they are on the call, and begin to chat.
Free PowerPoint add-in offers integration with Facebook and Twitter – A group of Microsoft developers created Social Share, an add-in that integrates Twitter and Facebook into PowerPoint. The possibilities for enterprise communication and social interaction are endless.
Facebook Debuts The Digital Breakup With New Tools For Former Flames – Breaking up is hard enough without having to see your ex’s newfound happiness flung in your face every time you log on to Facebook. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you want to unfriend or block your ex. There should be some middle ground. Today, Facebook says it will begin to experiment with new tools that will help people better manage these complicated relationships.
Facebook Adds ‘Fundraisers’ Tool for Nonprofits – Facebook on Wednesday announced a new tool, dubbed Fundraisers, which lets nonprofits raise funds on their page for a specific campaign. With this tool, nonprofits can “tell their campaign story, rally supporters, collect donations, and visibly track progress toward a goal,” Facebook explained. Sympathetic social networkers will be able to donate to the cause with a few taps, then brag about their good deed to their friends on the site. When you share that you contributed, the post will also include a Donate button, so your friends can easily follow your lead.
Google Shopping Gets A Mobile Makeover With A Focus On Local Commerce – This is the largest mobile redesign the service has had to date, and it offers a variety of new elements aimed at helping consumers better discover and locate products they’re interested in, says Google. That also now includes more easily checking the availability of products at nearby stores. According to Google, the redesign was prompted by the shift the company has been seeing when it comes to shopping-related searches – that is, as of this fall, more shopping-related searches took place on mobile devices instead of desktop computers.
The 10 Best Bluetooth Speakers of 2015 – Powerful or portable, rugged or stylish, Bluetooth speakers can suit any need and work with nearly any device to stream music wirelessly. Here’s what to look for, along with the top speakers we’ve tested.
Here are 7 common holiday travel nightmares, solved – Some reports suggest this year will be the worst for traveling around Thanksgiving and beyond. That’s because gas prices are low, leading more people to travel, and storms are poised to halt travel in major hubs. To get through the stress of it all, you’ll need to be prepared. Whether you’re heading to the airport to waiting in long security lines or stuck in a car for a few hours to visit friends and family, there are ways to make the experience less awful. CNET’s rounded up the best tools to make traveling a breeze.
How to save Windows Store apps to external storage in Windows 10 – The Window 10 November update brings lots of little tweaks to Microsoft’s operating system including the ability to save your apps to external storage.
Ransomware’s latest threats: What to do about CryptoWall, Chimera and their ilk – In the past, if you had a backup of your files, you could avoid paying ransomware. Malware developers claimed to have added a new twist, threatening to publish the data of anyone who has not paid.
Amazon now allows two-factor authentication – When it comes to securing your financial data and personal information more security is better, or at least the option to use more security. PayPal has had two-factor authentication capability for a while now where you need a password and a special code sent to a mobile or even a portable key device. Amazon is probably the biggest hold out that hasn’t offered two-factor authentication, until now.
Dyre banking malware: Windows 10 and Edge browser now targets – The notorious Dyre banking malware has been updated to take on Windows 10 machines and hook its claws into the Edge browser. Dyre, also known as Dyreza, appeared on the cybercrime scene in July 2014 and has quickly gained a reputation as a nasty piece of malware that aims to steal credentials. It’s been found to target Salesforce users and banking customers, and more recently was discovered to have been adapted to steal credentials from a range of supply-chain businesses, including fulfilment and warehousing, inventory-management software vendors and wholesale computer distributors. Security firm Heimdal has reported that the malware — sold as a cybercrime-for-hire service — has now been updated to support the targeting of Windows 10 and its Edge browser.
Tinder parent company Match Group is now public – Match Group, which owns dating platforms like OKCupid, Match, and Tinder, held its initial public offering this morning. Its stock opened at $12 per share and climbed slightly higher to $13.50 by midday. It will trade on the NASDAQ under the ticker symbol MTCH. It raised a little more than $400 million, giving it a market cap of around $3 billion. The offering is on the low end of expectations for the company, which had said earlier this month it was looking to raise around $466 million at a value of more than $4 billion. Last year, Match Group generated over $836 million in revenue, up from $788 million in 2013.
Salesforce satisfies Q3 targets, boosts revenue outlook – Salesforce.com published better-than-expected third quarter financial results Wednesday after the bell. The CRM giant reported non-GAAP earnings of 21 cents per share on a revenue of $1.71 billion, up 24 percent year-over-year (statement). Wall Street was looking for earnings of 19 cents per share with revenue of $1.7 billion. Subscription and support revenues increased 24 percent annually to $1.6 billion. Professional services and other revenues totaled $116 million, up 22 percent year-over-year. For the current quarter, Salesforce projects a revenue range of $1.8 billion to $1.9 billion with earnings between 18 and 19 cents per share.
Square is officially a public company – Mobile payments company Square is officially trading on the stock market today, a little over a month after filing paperwork to go public. The company, led by CEO Jack Dorsey, will now trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol SQ. It priced last night at $9 a share, the bottom of its range, a clear sign that investor interest and confidence was lacking. It’s been trading up since opening, rising to $11.20 by midday.
UrbanClap, India’s Largest Services Marketplace, Fetches $25 Million Series B – UrbanClap, which uses a matchmaking algorithm to help consumers find the best service providers in major Indian cities, plans to scale rapidly after landing a $25 million Series B. The round was led by Bessemer Venture Partners, with participation from returning investors SAIF and Accel Partners, and brings UrbanClap’s total venture funding so far to $37 million.
Instagram doubles its active users in India in a year – India is on the cusp of officially becoming the country with the world’s second largest Internet userbase, and that’s great news for Mark Zuckerberg. Instagram, a megapopular photo-sharing platform that in 2012 was bought by Facebook for around $1 billion, doubled its base of monthly active users in India during the period between this and last September, reported the Economic Times.
Spotify Announces Six-Month Parental Leave Policy – Music streaming service Spotify announced it will offer six months of paid parental leave to full-time employees. The paid leave, which would apply to both mothers and fathers, can be taken all at once or broken up, according to a Spotify press release on the policy. New parents can take advantage of the policy until their child’s third birthday.
LG unveils its new ‘G Pay’ mobile payment platform – The service could do well in Korea where LG has large market share, but it will be an uphill battle against Google and Samsung in the U.S.
Games and Entertainment:
Play all of the Fallout games prior to Fallout 4 for $20 – Buying a new Fallout game on launch day is always a risky proposition. The sheer scale of these games (combined with Bethesda’s track record on quality control) means there will be bugs, and they will take weeks to fix. So, with the recent launch of Fallout 4, why not play all the Fallout games that came before it first? That decision has been made a lot easier this week by Bundle Stars. They are offering every Fallout game that came before Fallout 4 on PC for $20.39. Normally such a package would cost you $60, so that’s a serious saving. Included in the bundle are 5 games and all available DLC packs. Here’s the complete list:
Star Wars Battlefront suffers immortal player glitch – Star Wars Battlefront suffers immortal player glitch – According to report from Ars sister publication Wired UK, immortal players have been causing grief in the game’s multiplayer modes. Wired UK played several multiplayer matches earlier this week, and saw at least two instances of players who were impervious to all weapons and melee attacks. Those players racked up 100 kills each in a mere 10-minute round. The appearance of immortal players has lead to accusations of deliberate cheating on social media and Reddit. However, with most of the reports of immortal players coming in from the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions of the game, it makes it highly unlikely that any deliberate hacks have been deployed. Instead, players on Reddit are claiming they inadvertently became immortal after crashing a ship, with others saying it just happened randomly.
Tested: Nvidia GeForce and AMD Radeon graphics cards for every budget – What graphics card within my budget gives me the best bang for my buck? Let us be your guiding light. We’ve tested graphics cards of all shapes, sizes, and price points to nail down exactly what you can expect for your money—from itty-bitty $90 cards to fire-breathing $1000 models to behemoths with not one, but two graphics processors and custom watercooling loops.
Beyond: Two Souls, Heavy Rain Heading to PS4 – Quantic Dream has just announced that PlayStation 3 exclusives Beyond: Two Souls and review of Heavy Rain will see new life on the PlayStation 4. Beyond: Two Souls (pictured) will be the first one out of the gate and is set to be released digitally on the PlayStation Store on Nov. 24. The game will come “complete with graphical improvements and new fan-requested features,” according to Quantic Dream co-CEO Guillaume de Fondaumiere, who announced the game in a blog post. The game will also highlight decisions made by the user and compare them to those of other players. Users will be able to go through the entire game in chronological order once they have finished it.
Halo World Championship starting in December – The Halo World Championship is happening this December. Having partnered with MLG, ESL and Gfinity, this event is set to be the biggest Halo eSports competition out there and is centered around Halo 5’s Arena multiplayer mode. Microsoft has just released new details about the HaloWC including when the tournament will take place, the crowd-fund assisted prizepool, and more. The original prize pool of $1 million has grown thanks to the Halo community who has crowdfunded it via the Requisition System in Halo 5: Guardians. Due to their efforts, the prize pool is now $1.7 million and is said to be growing daily.
Off Topic (Sort of):
Number of Web Users in India on Track to Top U.S. – The number of Web users in India is expected to surpass 400 million by the end of the year, according to a new report. That’s a 49 percent increase since 2014, and puts India on a path to eclipse the U.S. as the second-largest online population in the world, according to the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and market research group IMRB. China is No. 1 with more than 600 million users. As of October, 375 million people were surfing the Web in India—about 260 million of them going online daily, up 60 percent from last year. About 71 percent are men, and while usage among women is growing at 46 percent, they still have a long way to go before catching up to their male counterparts. Most Internet users in India are ages 18 to 30; 11 percent are under the age of 18, while only 8 percent are 31 to 45 years old.
Windows turns 30: a visual history – The PC revolution started off life 30 years ago this week. Microsoft launched its first version of Windows on November 20th, 1985, to succeed MS-DOS. It was a huge milestone that paved the way for the modern versions of Windows we use today. While Windows 10 doesn’t look anything like Windows 1.0, it still has many of its original fundamentals like scroll bars, drop-down menus, icons, dialog boxes, and apps like Notepad and MS paint. Windows 1.0 also set the stage for the mouse. If you used MS-DOS then you could only type in commands, but with Windows 1.0 you picked up a mouse and moved windows around by pointing and clicking. Alongside the original Macintosh, the mouse completely changed the way consumers interacted with computers.
Reuters bans submission of RAW photos: “Our photos must reflect reality.” – Reuters, the news and photography agency, has issued an outright ban on photographs captured and submitted in RAW format. Instead, freelance contributors must now only submit photos that were processed and stored as JPEG inside the camera. According to Reuters, there are two reasons for this move. First, there’s the matter of alacrity: RAW images need to be processed by the photographer, which takes time—and when you’re reporting on a breaking story, sometimes you don’t have time. The second reason is much more contentious: Reuters wants its photographs to closely reflect reality (i.e. be journalistic), and it’s concerned that some RAW photos are being processed to the point where they’re no longer real.
The 25 Best Inventions of 2015 – Welcome to TIME’s annual round-up of the best inventions making the world better, smarter and—in some cases—a little more fun.
Something to think about:
‘Billions and billions are spent on a Surveillance State that can’t stop the Tsarnaev brothers, even when it’s told where to look, but does know what’s on German Chancellor Merkel’s cell phone !!”
µBlock, a lean and fast blocker – Yet another blocker for those who can’t stand micromanaging rules etc., but are yearning for something that doesn’t eat away at their computer resources, it’s easy on CPU and memory footprints. As you may have guessed, pretty much a lot of it was taken from HTTP Switchboard and then reduced to a simple blocker like so many out there. Only one big button in the popup to turn it off or on for specific sites.
This application has been recommended by long time subscriber Keith P. Keith has recommended more than a few apps over the past few years – and, every one has been a winner. Thanks Keith.
In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:
ANALYSIS: After Paris, there will be no stopping the surveillance state now – An old acquaintance who spent years in Canada’s secret world, where he developed a you-don’t-know-the-half-of-it smile, regularly sends me taunting emails and links.
The general theme is that thanks to all the whinging in the mainstream media about civil liberties, and the cavilling by politicians who disagreed with Stephen Harper about the imminent danger posed by Islamic terrorism to Canadians everywhere, our security agencies are unnecessarily hobbled.
After the mass murders in Paris this week, he passed on an article by the conservative writer Mark Steyn, who wrote that instead of meeting about climate change, “a problem that doesn’t exist,” Western leaders should be doing something about the millions of Muslims who now live in Europe, most of whom “at a certain level either wish or are indifferent to the death of the societies in which they live — modern, pluralist, Western societies.”
My friend the ex-spy — who, like a number of security professionals I’ve met over the years, holds an advanced degree — clearly believes the only sensible remedy is increased powers for state security organs.
And that anyone who refuses to accept that premise, or who wants to debate root causes, is quite simply advocating self-destruction.
John Brennan, the CIA director, used the Paris massacre to make essentially the same point this week, denouncing “a lot of hand-wringing over the government’s role in the effort to try to uncover these terrorists.”
Manhattan DA demands Congress require mobile phone backdoors – Cyrus Vance, Jr., the Manhattan district attorney and an outspoken critic of encryption, called on Congress to adopt legislation mandating that mobile phone makers like Apple and Google bake backdoors into their smartphones.
Vance said it is “government’s principal responsibility to keep its residents safe, and that a government cannot fulfill that responsibility if huge amounts of vital information directly related to public safety are inaccessible to the government.”
“Criminal defendants across the nation are the principal beneficiaries of iOS 8.”
The district attorney’s proposal provided data saying that in a span of 12 months ending in October, as many as 111 prosecutions in his office for a variety of crimes like homicide, attempted murder, sexual abuse of a child, sex trafficking, assault, and robbery were hindered because of encrypted mobile phones connected to the cases. He also cited a litany of prosecutions in which evidence obtained from mobile phones helped solve the same types of cases.
“The federal legislation would provide in substance that any smartphone manufactured, leased, or sold in the US must be able to be unlocked, or its data accessed, by the operating system designer. Compliance with such a statute would not require new technology or costly adjustments. It would require, simply, that designers and makers of operating systems not design or build them to be impregnable to lawful governmental searches,” according to Vance’s position paper (PDF) on the topic released Wednesday.
The proposal made clear that the backdoor keys would not be provided to the government. The “keys would be held by the operating system designers,” the paper said.
Our National Encryption Debate, In Quotes – The long-burning debate concerning encryption, its impact on both consumer privacy and the government’s ability to protect its citizens is back with a vengeance.
The dialogue appeared to be dwindling after the White House said it would not require companies to breach the security of their products to provide the government with information. The Paris terror attack has thrust encryption back into the national dialogue. Following a New York Times report that the ISIS terrorists used an unspecified form of encryption, the calls to curtail the cryptography practice are back and louder than ever.
The debate follows two key lines at the moment. The first is that the government must have the capability to either get around or get through encryption when national security is at risk. Some have gone so far to say that the attacks in Paris happened because of the increase in encryption practices. The second is that encryption must remain secure.
Though providing a backdoor to law enforcement may seem at first glance like a compromise that allows us to keep our data secure and law enforcement to obtain the information they need, it’s as effective as having no encryption at all. Providing a key, a backdoor, a front door or whatever the kids are calling it these days to the government, you also provide one to criminals and hackers.
Given the current political climate, national security landscape, geopolitical unrest, nuance can be in short supply. Encryption inevitably will now be a major 2016 election issue, so it will likely only get worse.
The FBI Is Worried About ‘Hacktivists’ Targeting Politicians and Cops – The group of hackers who broke into the CIA Director’s personal email account are still at large, and the FBI is worried there may be more attacks targeting high profile public officials and cops to come.
The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), a multi-agency task force led by the FBI, issued an alert on Wednesday, warning politicians and law enforcement agents of the risk of having their email accounts compromised, and their personal information “doxed” by “hacktivists.”
While the public service announcement doesn’t name a specific person or group, the IC3 is clearly referring to a recent string of high profile hacks by a group of allegedly teenage hackers known as “Crackas With Attitude” or CWA.
In the last month, CWA bragged of breaking into John Brennan’s email account, the email account of the FBI’s Deputy Director’s wife, and also claimed to have gained access to a law enforcement online portal where they found a database of thousands of law enforcement agents’ personal details. The hackers said all these actions were done to support Palestine.
The alert also refers to a “recent threat” where hackers contacted a target’s Internet Service Provider and used social engineering to obtain details about the account. Attackers can use this information to reset the password on the target’s email account and take control, according to the alert.
Congress targets cybersecurity; you’re the victim – We all want the world to be a safer place. We want to be protected from cyberattacks, security breaches and terrorism aided by the Internet. And so, in theory, a piece of legislation wending its way through Congress, called the Cyber Intelligence Sharing Act (CISA) should have plenty of support from the tech industry, academics, citizens and others.
That it instead has been greeted as a dangerous, privacy-endangering proposal that would do little to keep us safe is a testament to just how shallowly Congress understands technology. Our national legislators seem to favor applying simple-minded, even misguided, fixes over paying serious attention to problems.
The idea behind the bill has some merit. It’s stated intention is to encourage private companies and government agencies to share information that could identify potential cyberthreats and cybercriminals. But although that goal sounds good, tech companies, privacy experts and academics warn that the actual bill is a significant privacy invader that will do nothing to keep us safer.
Drone Strikes Fuel the Hatred that Led to Paris Attacks, Ex-Drone Pilots Say – In the past week, hawkish politicians and government officials have seized on the terrorist attacks that killed 129 in Paris in a renewed push for various counterterrorism agendas. Now four former US drone operators who took part in remote assassination missions in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere are pushing back, describing in intimate detail the inner workings and culture of the US drone program, which they say is fueling the resentment that drives the kind of violence recently seen in Paris.