Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday – June 6, 2016

Avoiding ransomware is not that hard;  4 ways to use Google Now for better productivity;  Facebook doesn’t spy on you (except when it does);  Is ReadyBoost still an effective tool in Windows 10?  Best home security camera; 12 new or soon-to-be-released fitness devices worth a look;  How to end online harassment – and much more news you need to know.

Avoiding ransomware is not that hard – Ransomware has been labeled as the biggest threat in information security today, and while there are more variants and a lot more attempts to get it onto systems than ever, some basic hygiene goes a long way towards preventing it from messing up your computer. As for businesses in Australia, ransomware makes its way onto machines through an attack vector that should have been prevented years ago. In this episode of Security TV, ZDNet contributor Stilgherrian and APAC editor Chris Duckett discuss how to avoid the threat in the first place.

Facebook doesn’t spy on you (except when it does) – Facebook denies listening to your conversations to target advertising. But denial wording seems odd.

Windows 10 usage continues to rise, but users say no to the Edge browser – The latest figures from multiple analytics firms show that usage of Windows 10 has doubled in the past six months, with as many as one in four Windows PCs running Microsoft’s latest OS. But the default Windows 10 browser, Microsoft Edge, is struggling.

4 ways to use Google Now for better productivity – Google Now has made everyday tasks like checking the weather or getting directions easy and even fun. But if you’re only tapping Android’s seemingly omnipotent personal assistant for these novel uses, you’re missing it’s productivity powers. Google Now offers myriad ways to help you be more efficient. Here are a few to get started.

Make your cloud safer: How you can use two-factor authentication to protect cloud services – Two-factor authentication is no longer an optional feature. If you use modern cloud services, this extra layer of security can dramatically reduce the risk of a hostile takeover. Here’s how to get started.


Image: iStock

Is ReadyBoost still an effective tool in Windows 10? – ReadyBoost has been around since the days of Windows Vista. Here’s a look at how it works, how to take advantage of it, and when you should forgo it.

How to save your Android phone from bad skins and crappy OEM software – Crappy interface got you down? No problem! We can whip your phone into shape.

Best home security camera: Our favorite tools for keeping an eye on the home front – A boom in wireless security cameras is inspiring a movement in DIY home surveillance. Follow our buying guide and read our reviews to find the best option for you.


The Best Apps for Type-A Personalities – Whenever anybody says “there are two types of people in the world,” they’re probably wrong. But the “type A” and “type B” personalities posited by cardiologists Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman can be a useful way to look at the world. Type Bs are laid back and less motivated, but often less successful. Type As drive harder, are more competitive, and hate wasting time. In this article, we’ll run down the essential software for any type-A personality, from keeping your friends on time to humbling them before your fitness accomplishments.

12 new or soon-to-be-released fitness devices worth a look – If you still think Fitbit’s wristbands are the coolest wearables around, you’re behind the times. These lesser-known fitness gadgets are designed to help improve your health, and they’re all worth a look.


Instagram goes algorithmic, will try to guess what you want to see in your feed – The social network’s new feed, which will put posts it thinks you’ll be most interested in at the top, will begin rolling out to users over the next month.

Google Maps launches a beta app for testing the latest features – You’ll get more control over driving notifications and updates about where to leave a review for the Local Guides program.

Facebook begins removing chat from its mobile site, nudges users toward its Messenger app – The social media company appears to be gradually moving all mobile website users to its standalone Messenger app for iOS and Android.

These Smartphone Apps Will Help You Get Through Ramadan – There are 1.6 billion Muslims around the world, and on Monday, many begin observing the holiest month of the Islamic calendar, Ramadan. During fasting hours, from dawn to sunset, they refrain from food, water, sex, cigarettes, gossip, and a whole lot more. It is a time for reflection, discipline, and spiritual growth. A growing number of smartphone apps, like Ramadan Legacy, are helping Muslims to keep track of everything from their prayers to good deeds.

Google pulls Chrome extension that marked Jewish people online – Yesterday, Mic reported that a Google Chrome extension called “Coincidence Detector” was creating a database of Jewish people in order to notify users when they were reading the work of, or reading about, a Jewish person online. The extension placed three sets of parentheses (a symbol used by neo-Nazis) around certain names to identify them as Jewish. Now, one day later, Google has pulled the extension for violating its hate speech policy, Engadget reports.


Synaptics USB fingerprint scanner gives any PC biometric security – Synaptics is a name known to many in the industry as a company specializing in interface controllers, like laptop touchpads and mobile touchscreens. Lately, it has also been raising its profile in the biometrics markets, making such technology more accessible to device manufacturers and, therefore, users. Last February it announced a fingerprint sensor small enough to fit under a smartphone volume button. At Computex last week, it unveiled a fingerprint USB module that can give any desktop or laptop better security features.


TeamViewer Introduces New Security Measures to Thwart Hacks – TeamViewer’s response to these attacks is to introduce a Trusted Devices feature and mandatory password resets for TeamViewer accounts that are getting hit with suspicious activity. With the former, TeamViewer will email users whenever a new device attempts to sign into a person’s TeamViewer account. If a person doesn’t authenticate access, it doesn’t happen. As for the suspicous activity bit, TeamViewer will be scanning users’ accounts for strange happenings—like logins from a new location that is countries away from where a person usually accesses TeamViewer. Once a person meets a certain threshold of suspicious activity, TeamViewer will flag the account for a mandatory password reset.

Celebrity Twitter accounts are getting hacked weeks after LinkedIn data dump – A wide range of celebrity Twitter handles have been compromised in recent days. Katy Perry’s account was hacked a week ago, and over the weekend Mark Zuckerberg, Keith Richards, Tenancious D, Kylie Jenner, and the late Ryan Dunn have all had their Twitter accounts taken over. Thousands of Twitter users were tricked into thinking Jack Black had died, thanks to a sick prank by one of the hackers. It’s not clear if all the celebrity account hacks are related, but the sheer number is unusual. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also had his LinkedIn and Pinterest accounts compromised, and the hackers claimed they obtained his password from the recently leaked LinkedIn password dump. It’s likely that Zuckerberg reused the same password on multiple sites, a big web security mistake.

100 million credentials from ‘Russia’s Facebook’ go on sale – Russian social networking site appears to have been breached with hackers selling some 100 million records for a mere US$580 in Bitcoins. The breach has been reported by LeakedSource which received portions of the breached database. At least 100 million accounts are said to have had names, user logins, and phone numbers exposed in the cache. Some estimates put the number of hacked records at 170 million. The validity of the credentials thought stolen in 2012 or 2013 has yet to be tested. But the numbers mentioned suggest the 17GB-plus cache lists the site’s entire membership.

House Committee Investigates Federal Reserve Cyber-Attacks – It’s a description that elected officials likely aren’t thrilled to read: The notion that there have been more than 50 “cyber breaches” between 2011 and 2015 of the supposedly super-secure U.S. Federal Reserve, as Reuters reported earlier this week. Worse, those are only the breaches that Reuters could track, as they all involved the Board of Governors in some aspect—a federal agency whose records can be revealed via Freedom of Information Act requests. As a result of Reuters’ reporting, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology is officially launching a probe in to the Federal Reserve’s ability to secure its information from cyberattacks.

Company News:

Intel’s next monster 24-core chip is made for high-performance computers – Intel continues to pump more horsepower in its chips, by releasing a 24-core processor for high-performance computers. The Xeon processor E7-8890 v4 chip is part of the Xeon E7-8800 v4 family of chips that Intel announced on Monday. It was announced just a week after Intel made headlines with a new 10-core Core chip for gaming code-named Broadwell-E. The 24-core chip will go, in many cases, into monster performer four- to eight-socket servers. An eight-socket system could have up to 192 cores, with support for up to 24TB of memory. In a data sheet, Intel estimated a 192-core system with 2TB of memory and two hard drives to be priced at about US$165,000. Add 24TB of memory, and the server price could skyrocket.

American Airlines strikes a deal with ViaSat to bring satellite WiFi to 100 planes – American Airlines has gone non-Gogo, striking a deal with Southern Californian communications company ViaSat to bring satellite-powered WiFi to 100 Boeing 737 MAX aircrafts by September of next year. The deal comes in the wake of some fairly tense dealings between the airline and Gogo, whose traditional in-flight WiFi speeds (and near ubiquity) have been a source of frustration for passengers and carrier alike.

Going global: Netflix looks to India for its next original series – After bringing its streaming service to nearly every corner of the world earlier this year, Netflix is working at expanding its catalogue to better serve its international customers. As part of the push, the American company on Monday announced its first original series from India, one of the 190 nations where its service was launched in January.

Games and Entertainment:

Watch Dogs 2 confirmed as Ubisoft’s first big E3 reveal – In an email today, Ubisoft has revealed a handful of the games it will present during its press conference, with the biggest surprise being Watch Dogs 2. Well, may ‘surprise’ isn’t the right word, as the game has been rumored for months now, but this is the first confirmation of the title from Ubisoft, with E3 being its official debut. Other games that Ubisoft said it will be previewing include For Honor, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands, South Park: The Fractured But Whole, and Eagle Flight, with some of the titles playable at the company’s booth on the show floor.


Star Wars Battlefront III Fan Remake Heading to Steam – Of course, the legality of this fan-created game—especially since it’s using a lot of Star Wars material that rights holders haven’t explicitly authorized—has been a big question since its inception. But recently, the game’s creators announced that Galaxy in Turmoil will be available on Valve’s Steam service as a free download, which gives it a bit more clout and makes it even more public of a target.


VOEZ is an addictive anime-themed rhythm game – VOEZ is a new game out of Taiwan that is climbing the app gaming charts. It is part Rock Band, part DDR, but in a karaoke-esque setting. Put simply, VOEZ is an anime-themed rhythm game. You need to tap, hold and swipe as colorful commands fall to the target line. There are only a few different moves, but the difficulty of the game increases as you move on to more and more intense tracks.

Fallout 4: Far Harbor DLC update addresses poor PS4 performance – Fallout 4’s first major expansion, Far Harbor, has been out for a few weeks now, and while the DLC has been mostly well received among the game’s fans, players on the PlayStation 4 have had to deal with some serious problems. It turns out that the dense fog that covers the huge new environment causes the PS4 version to suffer frame-rate issues and even crash under certain circumstances. Fortunately developer Bethesda has just made a fix available that sets things right.


This week in games: Payday 2 ditches microtransactions, The Division’s becoming a movie – We are one week-ish out from E3. The perfect time for Ubisoft to announce it’s turning The Division into a movie. That awful news, plus Payday 2 gets rid of its microtransactions, Mafia II ambles back onto Steam, and Rainbow Six Siege adds an edition for people with more time than money. This is gaming news for the week of May 30 – June 3.

Off Topic (Sort of):

As Muhammad Ali leaves ring for last time, the Internet bows its head – The death of Muhammad Ali, boxing’s poet laureate, prompted a blanket of elegies on the Internet on Saturday, as everyone from fellow fighters to heads of state took to social media in celebration and remembrance of the fighter’s life. Ali — whose uncompromising moral stances, brash and stylish way with words, and three heavyweight championships made him one of the most recognized figures of the late 20th century — died Friday at 74. He’d suffered from Parkinson’s disease.

Tor Project’s Jacob Appelbaum Resigns Amid Sexual Assault Allegations – Digital rights activist Jacob Appelbaum is out at the Tor Project. His departure was announced in a fairly non-descriptive blog post this past Thursday—a blog post that, by its very nature, begs those involved with Tor (or just curious) to ask questions about what really caused Appelbaum’s seemingly innocuous resignation. The cyber-security expert—who co-authored a book with WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange back in 2012 (Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet)—officially left the Tor Project on May 25 of this year. In a follow-up blog post yesterday, Tor confirmed the reasons for his departure: “allegations of sexual mistreatment.”

Neil DeGrasse Tyson says bad education creates Flat-Earthers – Real people can frustrate scientists. Some real people believe that the Earth is a mere 6,000 years old. Some, including rapper B.O.B., believe that it’s possible to fall off the end of the Earth because it’s flat. Pointing to a globe doesn’t seem to help. In a conversation with the Huffington Post, astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson knows whom to blame for this parlous situation.

How to end online harassment – Social networks need to become “walled gardens” again. Facebook used to be slammed as a walled garden. But after Google+ came out in 2011 as a social site with public posts that you could link to and find from ordinary search, Facebook followed suit, and Facebook-as-a-walled-garden was no more. Now Facebook is mostly open (albeit with a flawed real-names policy and proprietary formats like Facebook Instant Articles). The reason we need to bring back the wall around our social gardens is as simple as it is obvious: harassment is ruining the Internet.

Uber fires driver after passenger records homophobic tirade – An Australian Uber driver has been fired after recordings emerged online of the man allegedly making homophobic slurs against a lesbian couple and threatening to “drag” them from the car. Melbourne woman Lucy Thomas, who is also co-founder of the Australian anti-bullying group Project Rockit, posted the audio recording online this morning, saying it was taken during an Uber ride home with her girlfriend. In a post accompanying the audio, Thomas said the driver “realised we’re in a same-sex relationship and became physically threatening and aggressive.” Thomas then said she “found courage to stand up to him” and started recording his responses. [Warning: Audio contains offensive language.]

Something to think about:

“Democracy is the art and science of running the circus from the monkey cage.”

–    H. L. Mencken


YouTube to MP3 Converter – You like to listen to music on YouTube or SoundCloud and want to save it for offline playing. Or you want to download soundtrack of a new movie. Then we recommend you to try out this software developed specifically for this purpose.

Main Features:

Clipboard tracking – The program tracks the content of the clipboard. It means that you can easily add a video clip without switching from your favorite browser. Just copy an URL into the clipboard and it will be added to the download queue.

iTunes playlist support – In the apps preferences you can select an option to add automatically downloaded tracks to iTunes. You can also specify an iTunes playlist, where the converted track should be added.

Saves your time & traffic – The program detects audio track in YouTube video clip and downloads it, skipping the video part. As a result download speed increases dramatically, especially on HD-quality content.

Simple tag editor – Application automatically detects artist name and tracks title of the video and saves it in the downloaded file. But at the same time, you can easily change them to whatever you want.

Original format, no conversions – You can save audio tracks in original quality without any conversion. It means that there will be no loss of quality and greatly reduces the downloading time.

Free music – There is a great amount of music on YouTube. You can always find the one you like there. And YouTube to MP3 Converter allows you to save it on your computer for free. Just find the track you like and download it in the quality you need.

Not only YouTube – The program also supports, Vimeo, DailyMotion, Soundcloud, Bandcamp & Hype Machine, so you can download music as easy as from YouTube.

Drag’n’Drop – The full support of Drag’n’Drop. It means, that you can drag the URL of video you like and drop it on the application window or on the dock icon.

Multilingual interface – Localized to: Arabic, Azerbaijani, Chinese (Taiwan), Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latvian, Malay, Norwegian Bokmål, Polish, Portuguese, Portuguese (Brazil), Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish, Vietnamese


I’ve been using this freebie for years – highly recommend.

KnowBe4 – Security Awareness Training – KnowBe4 is the world’s most popular integrated platform for awareness training combined with simulated phishing attacks. We help thousands of organizations to manage the continuing problem of social engineering.

Train Your Users – On-demand, interactive, engaging training with common traps, live Kevin Mitnick demos and scenario-based Danger Zone exercises.

Phish Your Users – Fully automated simulated phishing attacks, hundreds of templates with unlimited usage, and community phishing templates.

See The Results – Enterprise-strength reporting, showing stats and graphs for both training and phishing, ready for management. Show the great ROI!

Free Phishing Security Test – Did you know that 91% of successful data breaches started with a spear-phishing attack?

Cyber-attacks are rapidly getting more sophisticated. We help you train your employees to better manage the urgent IT security problems of social engineering, spear-phishing and ransomware attacks. Take the first step now. Find out what percentage of your employees are Phish-prone™ with our free test!

Free Phish Alert for Outlook – Do your users know what to do when they receive a suspicious email?

Should they call the help desk, or forward it? Should they forward to IT including all headers? Delete and not report it, forfeiting a possible early warning? KnowBe4’s Phish Alert button gives your users a safe way to forward email threats to the security team for analysis and deletes the email from the user’s inbox to prevent future exposure. KnowBe4’s free Phish Alert for Outlook is an add-in you can download and deploy at no cost.

Free Email Exposure Check – Your end-users are the weak link in your network security. Today, your employees are frequently exposed to advanced phishing attacks.

Are you aware that many of the email addresses of your organization are exposed on the Internet and easy to find for cybercriminals? With these addresses they can launch social engineering, spear-phishing and ransomware attacks on your organization. The Email Exposure Check (EEC) is a one-time free service. Sign up for your free EEC and find out now which of your email addresses are exposed.

Recommended by reader, Scott T.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

House committee launches probe of Fed’s cybersecurity breaches – A US House committee took notice of a news report earlier this week that said the Federal Reserve Bank discovered more than 50 cyber breaches between 2011 and 2015. Now the committee has put the Fed on notice, saying it will investigate the US central bank’s cybersecurity practices.

In a letter Friday to Fed Chair Janet Yellen, the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology said it’s concerned about the central bank’s “ability to prevent threats from compromising highly sensitive financial information housed on the agency’s systems.”

The Reuters story on Wednesday was based on redacted internal records, which did not say who may have hacked the Fed or whether money or personal information was stolen.

The committee wants the Fed to release unredacted reports of cyber incidents going back to 2009. It’s asking for a response by June 17. Reuters was the first to report news of the investigation.

The Federal Reserve Bank did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

That FCC plan to protect your privacy? Not everyone’s a fan – Critics of the Federal Communications Commission’s proposal to regulate Internet privacy argue the agency’s new rules will confuse consumers and ultimately lead to higher prices.

That’s the message from many of those who filed more than 45,000 public comments in reaction to the proposal, which was introduced in March and would require broadband and wireless companies to get user consent for most uses of their data, preventing them from freely sharing that info with third parties such as advertisers.

Now that the comment period on the proposal has ended, the agency will sift through what critics and others have to say. Final rules could be voted on later this summer.

UK Home Office is creating mega database by stitching together ALL its gov records – The UK Home Office is secretly creating a centralised database on the good folk of Britain without presenting the capability increases to the public or subjecting them to Parliamentary scrutiny.

The Register can reveal the project, which was described as simply a “replatforming” of the department’s aging IT infrastructure, has already begun to roll out, with the “first wave” of changes being delivered in what it is calling the Technology Platforms for Tomorrow (TPT) programme.

TPT will lay the foundations for this mega database by ushering in “core infrastructure, compute platforms and Live Service capability” changes, primarily using Hadoop, the open source software framework for centralising databases and allowing batch queries and analyses to be run across them in bulk.

While this data on the population is currently stored in “siloed” and disparate databases, connecting it could make it possible to automatically follow individuals’ records across all of the Home Office’s many directorates, from the two years’ worth of car journeys logged in the ANPR data centre, to the passports database, the police databases, and many others.


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2 responses to “Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday – June 6, 2016

  1. Scott

    Thanks for posting the KnowBe4 info, it really has helped staff training here! I hope others try it and get the same results.