Monthly Archives: July 2016

Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday – July 29, 2016

Free Windows 10 upgrades end today;  WhatsApp isn’t fully deleting its ‘deleted’ chats;  Windows 10: The smart person’s guide;  Must-have mobile apps to encrypt your texts and calls;  YouTube Gaming update;  LastPass browser extensions reported to be vulnerable to exploits;  Will your PC run Windows 10?  Five ways to stay safe online while playing Pokémon Go – and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Free Windows 10 upgrades end today – You only have one day left to upgrade to Windows 10 for free if you’re currently running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. After July 29th, Microsoft will start charging $119 for upgrades to Windows 10, and if you upgrade during the free period you’ll also get the Anniversary Update (launching August 2nd) free of charge. The upgrade is an easy process which you can initialize from the taskbar upgrade notification on eligible machines, or you can follow Microsoft’s guide. If you’re planning to upgrade over the next 24 hours, make sure you’ve backed up all your important documents and data.

Windows 10: The smart person’s guide – This comprehensive guide covers must-know Windows 10 details, like features, system requirements, upgrade options, and Microsoft’s Windows-as-a-service strategy.

Will your PC run Windows 10? Use the official compatibility checker to find out – The Get Windows 10 app lets you register for a free upgrade from Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. But it also keeps a list of potential upgrade issues you might need to deal with. Here’s how to check your own compatibility report.

How to stay connected while traveling with cheap and easy mobile access – You don’t have to leave your phone in airplane mode throughout your trip anymore, as there are plenty of ways to get online and make calls.

Must-have mobile apps to encrypt your texts and calls – What are the best apps which offer strong encryption to keep out spying eyes?

WhatsApp isn’t fully deleting its ‘deleted’ chats – WhatsApp retains and stores chat logs even after those chats have been deleted, according to a post today by iOS researcher Jonathan Zdziarski. Examining disk images taken from the most recent version of the app, Zdziarski found that the software retains and stores a forensic trace of the chat logs even after the chats have been deleted, creating a potential treasure trove of information for anyone with physical access to the device. The same data could also be recoverable through any remote backup systems in place.

Google Docs and Sheets get third-party Android add-ons – Google just made Docs and Sheets a bit more attractive with the launch of Android add-ons — that is, third-party tools on Android that add extra functionality to Google’s office software. Assuming you’re viewing a particular document using your Android mobile device (and that you’ve downloaded the appropriate add-on), you could do things like sign a sheet or document using DocuSign, scan a document into Docs using Scanbot, and more.

A new app from Channels brings live TV to your iOS device – Channels has grown to become one of the more popular applications for cord cutters who want to watch, pause, rewind and fast-forward live television on their 4th-generation Apple TV. Now that same functionality is arriving on iOS in a new app, launched this week. In addition to letting you watch live TV, the mobile application also lets you see what’s on in a full-grid TV guide.

Facebook must refund purchases by minors upon request, court rules – Way back in 2012, Facebook was hit with a lawsuit over real-world currency children had spent playing games on the social network. The issue revolved around Facebook Credits, which gamers could buy using a credit card; the currency, then, would be used to buy virtual goods of one sort or another in Facebook games. This quickly became an issue as kids charged huge bills on their parents’ bank accounts without realizing what they were doing. The issue has dragged on in various legal matters since, and now a judge has ruled that Facebook must refund parents.

Tumblr rolling out ads on blogs, users to get cut of revenue – With little warning, Tumblr has announced that advertisements are coming to all user blogs — starting today. This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, seeing as how Yahoo has struggled to turn a profit from its $1.1 billion purchase of Tumblr back in 2013, and it comes just after the announcement that Verizon will purchase Yahoo for $4.8 billion.

With Yahoo on the skids, here’s how to get your photos out of Flickr – For those with many precious photos stored on Flickr, Yahoo’s purchase may inspire some concern. Here are some tips for backing up your images, including ways to automatically save your images to cloud services and get more reliable backups.


LastPass browser extensions reported to be vulnerable to exploits – Passwords are the first and last line of defense against getting hacked, which is why users are strongly advised to use strong and different passwords for each service. Keeping track of those, however, is more than our little brains can handle, which is why password managing services have thrived. But what if those services themselves become vulnerable? That was the situation LastPass found itself in when its web extensions were discovered to be exploitable and can be used to trick users into giving away their passwords. The good news is that LastPass has already addressed those issues, but should still serve as a warning to everyone.

How to make sure you’re using the latest version of LastPass for Firefox – LastPass just patched a major security flaw that allowed an attacker to remotely compromise an account. Here’s how to make sure you’re not vulnerable.

Infographic: The 5 phases of a ransomware attack – Ransomware is the most profitable type of malware attack in history—and attacks will only get worse in the future, according to Cisco Systems’ midyear report on the state of cyber security, released Tuesday. It’s now important for employees to understand the different phases of an attack and best practices to prevent them.

Long-running malvertising campaign infected thousands of computers per day – Security researchers have shut down a large-scale malvertising operation that used sophisticated techniques to remain undetected for months and served exploits to millions of computers.

Malware Explained: Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) – An Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) is a prolonged, aimed attack on a specific target with the intention to compromise their system and gain information from or about that target. The target can be a person, an organization or a business.

Google beefs Linux up kernel defenses in Android – Future versions of Android will be more resilient to exploits thanks to developers’ efforts to integrate the latest Linux kernel defenses into the operating system. Android’s security model relies heavily on the Linux kernel that sits at its core. As such, Android developers have always been interested in adding new security features that are intended to prevent potentially malicious code from reaching the kernel, which is the most privileged area of the operating system.

Company News:

Alphabet’s huge Q2 shows its ads business may not be so challenged after all – Alphabet reported a second quarter that continued tech’s hot streak today, handily beating Wall Street’s expectations and boosting its shares by as much as another 5 percent. Google reported earnings per share of $8.42 on revenue of $21.5 billion. Analysts were expecting earnings of $8.03 per share on $20.76 billion in revenue. (Again, that 5 percent may seem small, but that’s adding tens of billions in value to the company.)

Amazon shatters earnings expectations – Amazon shattered expectations when it reported second quarter earnings after the bell on Thursday. Adjusted earnings per share came in at $1.78, when Wall Street was forecasting $1.11. Amazon also beat revenue predictions, posting $30.4 billion for the quarter when analysts were expecting $29.55 billion. Shares ticked up 2 percent in after-hours trading. The company saw a significant increase in sales and profit from the same period last year. Net sales were up 31 percent and net income was $857 million, a large jump from last year’s $92 million. Amazon also spent many years unprofitable, while it invested in growth.

Apple sold its billionth iPhone last week – It would have been a nice piece of information to share during yesterday’s earnings report, but Tim Cook and Co. were clearly too preoccupied with service revenues and R&D. And hey, no better way to kick off a midweek meeting than a little positive news — particularly if you can carry some of yesterday’s expectation-beating positivity into the following day to help rally the troops.

Facebook crushes Q2 earnings, hits 1.71B users and record share price – Coming off an all-time high stock price of $123.34, Facebook in Q2 2016 smashed earnings again. The social network continued steady growth just slightly slower at 3.63% compared to last quarter’s 3.77%, adding 60 million monthly users this quarter to reach 1.71 billion. It scored $6.44 billion in revenue and $0.97 EPS, blowing past estimates of $6.02 billion and $0.82 EPS. Revenue growth was 59% year over year, which looks favorable compared to competitor Twitter, who yesterday announced its YOY revenue growth sunk to 20% from 60% a year ago. With 84% of ad revenue from mobile, total ad revenue was $6.24 billion.

LG Display invests $1.7 billion to produce flexible OLED phone screens – LG Display will spend around $1.7 billion to build a new production line for making flexible OLED smartphone screens. Flexible smartphone screens, which go into phones like the curved Galaxy S7 Edge, are becoming increasingly popular, and they seem likely to become a dominant style in a few years. The investment is meant to let LG become a leader in this display tech — it may have buyers lined up already, or LG could be planning to use the displays itself.

Report: Apple’s negotiating tactics sunk its long-rumored TV service – In the months leading up to the announcement of the new Apple TV box last year, there were multiple reports that said the company was also working on a streaming TV service as a way to entice cord-cutters and “cord-nevers” into its ecosystem. Those reports suggested that the service would include some 25 channels and cost $30 or $40 a month, and it would stream live content as well as offer a Netflix-esque back catalog of shows on demand. But it never came to pass. When the new Apple TV launched, Apple pushed apps as the future of TV rather than an all-in-one service. A new report from the Wall Street Journal today says that Apple’s negotiating tactics were to blame and that the service didn’t come to pass in part because Apple was offering too little money and making too many demands.

Games and Entertainment:

Five ways to stay safe online while playing Pokémon Go – No one has expected to see a mobile gaming app become so popular so fast and affect people the way it has. Indeed, the introduction of Pokémon Go—plus the sharp rise of popularity of augmented reality—has opened a lot of opportunities for cross-industry innovation and growth. Unfortunately, it’s not all fun and games for every player and those caught in the experience of others. What we have below are surefire ways one can play Pokémon Go safely while avoiding potential threats online:

Pokemon Radar downloads: the app everyone is cheating with – Cheating at Pokemon GO isn’t especially difficult, as a rabble of Android and iOS developers will tell you this week. Today the quickest rising app on either app store is an app called “Poke Radar” which, as you’ll soon find out, isn’t what it suggests it is. It works just how it says it’s supposed to, but if you’re looking for a Pokemon Radar that works, you’ll need to look elsewhere. Meanwhile, there’s an app called “Poke Scanner” that’ll do just what you want it to.

DOOM’s big free update tomorrow brings two multiplayer modes – Bethesda Softworks will release a big free update for DOOM (2016) tomorrow, the second of its kind for the title. This particular update adds a pair of new multiplayer game modes, addressing the mostly justified criticism about the game’s lackluster multiplayer experience. The new game modes are comprised of capture-the-flag with a single flag and moving bases and a capture-and-hold mode where gamers take control of specific zones.

YouTube Gaming update packs in landscape mode, new chat layout, and other improvements – A few features are getting polished, such as subscribing to new channels and changing which part of the world you want to see videos from.

AMD will release two new entry-level graphics cards for gaming – The company is continuing to stick with its low-price / solid-performance model today with the announcement of two new GPUs — the RX 460 and RX 470. These aren’t meant for VR, but Radeon is billing them as an affordable way to get into gaming while not compromising quality. The 470, which is designed for 1080p gaming and video streaming, can reach up to 4.9 teraflops of power, has a memory bandwidth of up to 211 Gbps, and has 4GB of GDDR5 memory. The 460, which is meant for the vaguely defined purpose of “e-sport gaming,” reaches up to 2.2 teraflops, has a memory bandwidth of up to 112Gbps, and either two or 4GB of GDDR5 RAM.

Star Trek VI and 11 other movies are now streaming online – Night of the Hunter, the Explorers, Blade II…. Pick your genre, sit back, and enjoy.

Off Topic (Sort of):

We Need to Change the Psychology of Security – There are a wide variety of opinions on how to fix security and stop the seemingly endless parade of breaches. Like many, I believe the problem is multi-faceted: it’s more than just a lack of encryption, the inability to block malware, or that IT professionals don’t do “the basics,” though these all contribute to security failures. I believe we have a people problem, but not in the same way that most might think.

Trump’s hacking comments rattle cybersecurity pros – Donald Trump’s muddled stance on hacking has disturbed security experts at time when the tech industry is looking for clarity on the U.S.’s cyber policy. On Wednesday, the outspoken presidential candidate seemed to call on Russia to break into rival Hillary Clinton’s email system. Some security experts are concerned that Trump is taking the matter so lightly when the country is trying to halt a rash of cyberattacks against it, not promote them. “Whether he was sarcastic or not, it was an open invitation to hack,” said Justin Harvey, CSO with Fidelis Cybersecurity. “And I guess I’m deeply disturbed by that posturing.”

Online activist group petitions to keep Trump out of security briefings – Credo Action is seeking 10,000 online signatures on a petition that urges the government to not let the GOP presidential nominee attend security briefings.

This Website Is Changing How Politicians Communicate – Medium is taking over the political realm—at the media’s expense. You might not have heard of Medium, but you’ve probably visited the site without knowing it. The blogging platform, which launched in 2012, is focused on one thing: providing a beautiful, custom way to present text to an audience. That simple focus has convinced political stars from Hillary Clinton to Sen. Chuck Schumer to start making major use of it.

Riley roving camera is a home sentry robot – A company called iPatrol has a new HD camera robot called Riley. The little bot cruises around your home on two-rubber tank-tread like strips. It is able to see in the dark with night vision tech and can alert the homeowner when motion is detected.



Dark Patterns are designed to trick you (and they’re all over the Web) – It happens to the best of us. After looking closely at a bank statement or cable bill, suddenly a small, unrecognizable charge appears. Fine print sleuthing soon provides the answer—somehow, you accidentally signed up for a service. Whether it was an unnoticed pre-marked checkbox or an offhanded verbal agreement at the end of a long phone call, now a charge arrives each month because naturally the promotion has ended. If the possibility of a refund exists, it’ll be found at the end of 45 minutes of holding music or a week’s worth of angry e-mails. Everyone has been there. So in 2010, London-based UX designer Harry Brignull decided he’d document it. Brignull’s website,, offers plenty of examples of deliberately confusing or deceptive user interfaces. These dark patterns trick unsuspecting users into a gamut of actions: setting up recurring payments, purchasing items surreptitiously added to a shopping cart, or spamming all contacts through prechecked forms on Facebook games.

What’s this whole email thing about, anyway? – What do you know about the Clinton email scandal? If you’re anything like me, not much — yet! Let’s take a stroll into our political Swamp of Sadness where both parties are currently mired. One candidate became stuck there while trying to beat the dead horse of the Crooked Hillary meme and the other candidate is sinking simply because government email is just so damn crappy.

Apollo astronauts dying of heart disease at 4-5X the rate of counterparts – Apollo astronauts who have ventured out of the protective magnetosphere of mother Earth appear to be dying of cardiovascular disease at a far higher rate than their counterparts—both those that have stayed grounded and those that only flew in the shielding embrace of low-Earth orbit. Though the data is slim—based on only 77 astronauts total—researchers speculate that potent ionizing radiation in deep space may be to blame. That hypothesis was backed up in follow-up mouse studies that provided evidence that similar radiation exposure led to long-lasting damage to the rodents’ blood vessels. All of the data was published Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports. The study, while not definitive, may add an extra note of caution to the potential hazards of future attempts to fly to Mars and elsewhere in the cosmos.

Something to think about:

“You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”

–     Winston Churchill

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Phone hacking: What the FBI won’t reveal could hurt users, experts argue – We already know that law enforcement agencies can hack our phones. But we don’t know what they find, how they find it, or even who helps them discover the information. Top cybersecurity experts and lawmakers argued about how much should be revealed at a July 11 meeting of the Congressional Internet Caucus.

“Government hacking has already happened. The question of whether it should happen is actually way past the point,” said Harley Geiger, director of public policy at Rapid 7, an Internet security company.

Geiger and others cited the FBI-Apple encryption dispute as a troubling example. Apple refused to help the FBI unlock the iPhone belonging to one of the terrorists involved in the December, 2015 attack in San Bernardino, California. The agency sued Apple, then dropped the lawsuit when it used a third party to crack the passcode in the phone instead. The issue of whether law enforcement should be able to take advantage of vulnerabilities remains unresolved, and government hacking is still unregulated.

EU recommends outlawing backdoors, while UK pushes for them – A review of European privacy rules has concluded that any effort to weaken encryption across the bloc of member states “should be prohibited.”

A preliminary report by European data protection supervisor Giovanni Buttarelli, the leading figure in ensuring data protection and privacy rules are enforced across the European bloc, said that nation-state governments should not be allowed to monitor, reverse engineer, or decrypt communications that are deliberately scrambled.

It added that encryption providers, internet and phone providers, and “all other organizations” should be prohibited “from allowing or facilitating ‘backdoors’.”

The report also called on end-to-end encryption to be “encouraged, and when necessary, mandated” in line with the bloc’s principles of data protection by design.

That will come as good news to the security and privacy community, which has persistently pushed back on any notion of backdoors in products, services, or cryptography, and has long promoted the use of encryption across products, services, and technologies.

But the report’s findings fall in direct conflict with efforts by the UK government to expand its decade-old surveillance laws.

Don’t use a VPN in United Arab Emirates – unless you wanna risk jail and a $545,000 fine – A royal edict from the president of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) may have effectively made it illegal for anyone in the country to use a VPN or secure proxy service.

Those caught could face jail time and fines of between 500,000 and 2,000,000 UAE dirham (US$136,130 and $544,521). The change was announced this week by the UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan in a proclamation that amended federal laws.

The wording is ambiguous and technologically illiterate. Essentially, it seems, you are not allowed to use systems that hide the fact that you’re committing a crime or covering one up. If you’re routing your network traffic through a secure VPN or proxy server, you could be evading the eyes of the state while breaking a law, and that’s now a big no-no.

You could claim you were using the VPN or proxy for legit reasons, and that no criminal activity was being committed or concealed, but since your packets were encrypted, you may have a hard time proving your innocence.

Amazon saw spike in US demands for customer data – The total number of government requests for data on Amazon customers has doubled over the past year.

The retail and cloud giant quietly announced the latest figures for the first six months of 2016 ending June in a report, published Thursday evening, which showed a total of 1,803 different requests from the US government.

On the same period a year earlier, the company received a total of 851 different requests.

The number of search warrants the company received went up by more than eight times on the same period a year earlier.

Dozens of Lawyers Across the US Fight the FBI’s Mass Hacking Campaign – The US Department of Justice has a battle on its hands, as dozens of lawyers question evidence the FBI obtained using hacking techniques across a string of ongoing cases.

In 2015, the FBI used a piece of malware to identify suspected visitors of a dark web child pornography site. Now, nearly 30 legal teams across the country have pushed to get all evidence thrown out of court, and many attorneys have decided to pool their efforts in a “national working group.”

The cases revolve around Operation Pacifier, in which the FBI briefly assumed control of the “Playpen” website. The agency hacked computers all across the world—including over one thousand in the US—based on one warrant that has become legally contentious.

In the wake of the operation, many defendants quickly pleaded guilty, likely because of the wall of evidence presented before them: The FBI’s malware grabbed a suspect’s IP address, MAC address, and other identifying system information when they visited specific child pornography-related threads.

“The more that we coordinate and we can get our arguments and pleadings out for other people to use … the better the overall legal products are going to be”

But some lawyers have successfully argued that all the evidence should be suppressed. In others instances, the government’s case has fallen apart after the FBI would not hand over the full code for its malware, even when the judge said the defense had a right to see it. Even suspects who have already had guilty pleas accepted are now successfully having them withdrawn.


Filed under Latest Tech News

Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday – July 27, 2016

LastPass unpatched zero-day vulnerability;  Windows 10’s Anniversary update is just what everyday users need;  How to clean your Windows registry and speed up your PC ;  Removing Windows 10’s default apps isn’t easy, but CCleaner can help;  Slimmed down 2TB Xbox One S hits stores August 2 for $399;  Flaws in wireless keyboards let hackers snoop on everything you type – and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

LastPass unpatched zero-day vulnerability gives hackers access to your account – The security flaw was one of “a bunch of critical problems” discovered by a prominent researcher who simply took a quick look at the software.

Cybersecurity firm offers users reimbursement for ransomware infections – Security firm SentinelOne is confident it can beat any of today’s ransomware — and is willing to put money behind that claim.

Here are the key security features coming to Windows 10 next week – Here’s a look at Windows Information Protection and Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection, two new features that will be launching next week with the latest major update to Windows 10.

Windows 10’s Anniversary update is just what everyday users need – It can’t be disputed: Windows 10 has been a wild success for Microsoft, after being installed on more than 350 million devices. To mark this, August 2nd is the release of the Anniversary Update which brings a slew of tweaks, fixes and new features. Before I move on, fun fact: it took 25 PC builds and 16 mobile builds for Windows Insider Program participants — the highest engagement from both testers and Microsoft ever seen with this version of the OS. If you care for nothing else of this update, just know that there’s a “dark mode” in Windows now (finally). However, with an update this big it might be worth updating your computer, for once.

The Anniversary Update’s most exciting features: Windows 10 users weigh in – We know Microsoft’s spin on the Anniversary Update for Windows 10, but here’s what users say they’re most pumped about.

Removing Windows 10’s default apps isn’t easy, but CCleaner can help – Microsoft makes it hard to remove its built-in apps in Windows 10, even if you really don’t want them. CCleaner gives you a way, though, and we’ll show it to you here.

Remix OS for PC moves to Android 6.0, new features in tow – Android Nougat is around the corner and with it comes split windows. But while Google is still adjusting to having more than one app window on the screen at the same time, Jide is already perfecting its craft. With Remix OS for PC, it has brought desktop-like Android computing to PCs and Macs running on Intel and AMD chips. Now with the latest update, the giving those same computers a taste of Android 6.0 Marshmallow, as well as improvements to its window management features.


How to clean your Windows registry and speed up your PC – A cluttered registry can slow Windows to a crawl, but cleaning it effectively isn’t easy. We put several registry cleaners to the test and offer tips to help you get your registry down to size and improve your PC’s performance.

Opera Mini on Android gains video download feature – If you are one of the folks who loves to watch video on your phones as you spend time out of the home or office, you might not like the fact that the video uses up a bunch of your data. A new version of Opera Mini for Android has launched and it has a feature that will allow you to download your favorite videos and take them with you on the go.

Android’s new Emergency Location Service could save your life – Google is rolling out a feature that will give your exact location to emergency services if you dial their number.

BlackBerry ditches the physical keyboard for its second Android phone – The Canadian hardware company’s second Android handset features a 5.2-inch full HD display, in place of BlackBerry’s trademark physical keyboard. The rather formally named DTEK50 runs Android Marshmallow coupled with a slew of security features aimed at maintaining the company’s long-standing privacy focus. Among them is the titular DTEK app designed to monitor account and hardware access, a secure boot process, full disk encryption, and a variety of additional security patches on top of Google’s mobile operating system.


Twitter for Android adds a night mode option – Do you like browsing Twitter before bed? If so, the Android app was just updated with a feature that makes doing so a bit more friendly: night mode. When activated, the bright Android app for Twitter is toggled over to a theme that’s much easier on the eyes in a dark room. Turning the night mode on is as simple as flipping a switch; you can turn it off whenever you want, as well, to get the light theme back.

How to turn off web notifications in Chrome, Edge, and Firefox – Web notifications are great, except when they aren’t. Here’s how to disable them off on a site-by-site basis.

Google Maps gets color coded visuals, areas of interest – Map and navigation apps, be they from Google, Apple, previously Nokia, or even Microsoft, can be life savers, especially when venturing into territory unknown. But that only works if you can actually make heads or tails of the information crammed within. Making something look prettier isn’t just a matter of aesthetic enhancement. It can also be about whether you’ll be able to tell one road or area from another at a glance. That is why in its latest Maps update, Google is splashing some new colors and removing a few lines for the sake making Google Maps easier to “read”, even when you’re mind is stressed out from getting lost.


Say Farewell to SMS-Based Two-Factor Authentication? – If you’ve used text messaging for two-factor authentication, it might soon be a thing of the past. The U.S. National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) says in a new draft of its Digital Authentication Guideline that SMS-based two-factor authentication should not be used due to security concerns. “[Out of band verification] using SMS is deprecated, and will no longer be allowed in future releases of this guidance,” the documents reads. … in the guideline, NIST argues that it’s too easy for people to obtain a cell phone and there’s no way for the site operator to know whether the person who receives the verification code is even the correct recipient. The technology, in other words, isn’t nearly as secure as some had hoped.

New attack bypasses HTTPS protection on Macs, Windows, and Linux – A key guarantee provided by HTTPS encryption is that the addresses of visited websites aren’t visible to attackers who may be monitoring an end user’s network traffic. Now, researchers have devised an attack that breaks this protection. The attack can be carried out by operators of just about any type of network, including public Wi-Fi networks, which arguably are the places where Web surfers need HTTPS the most. It works by abusing a feature known as WPAD—short for Web Proxy Autodisovery—in a way that exposes certain browser requests to attacker-controlled code. The attacker then gets to see the entire URL of every site the target visits. The exploit works against virtually all browsers and operating systems.

Flaws in wireless keyboards let hackers snoop on everything you type – Your wireless keyboard is giving up your secrets — literally. With an antenna and wireless dongle worth a few bucks, and a few lines of Python code, a hacker can passively and covertly record everything you type on your wireless keyboard from hundreds of feet away. Usernames, passwords, credit card data, your manuscript or company’s balance sheet — whatever you’re working on at the time. It’s an attack that can’t be easily prevented, and one that almost nobody thought of — except the security researchers who found it.

Over 100 suspicious, snooping Tor nodes discovered – Over 72 days, computer science PhD student Amirali Sanatinia and Guevara Noubir, professor at the College of Computer and Information Science at Northeastern University uncovered nodes on the network which were not behaving as they ought. The nodes, otherwise known as Tor Hidden Services Directories (HSDirs), servers which receive traffic and directs users to hidden services, are a crucial element needed to mask the true IP of users on the network.

The Internet of Things Will Turn Large-Scale Hacks into Real World Disasters – Disaster stories involving the Internet of Things are all the rage. They feature cars (both driven and driverless), the power grid, dams, and tunnel ventilation systems. A particularly vivid and realistic one, near-future fiction published last month in New York Magazine, described a cyberattack on New York that involved hacking of cars, the water system, hospitals, elevators, and the power grid. In these stories, thousands of people die. Chaos ensues. While some of these scenarios overhype the mass destruction, the individual risks are all real. And traditional computer and network security isn’t prepared to deal with them.

Serious security flaws found in Osram smart bulbs – The smart home tech company reportedly won’t patch all of the vulnerabilities.

Ransomware 2.0 is around the corner and it’s a massive threat to the enterprise – The profits from ransomware are making it one of the fastest growing types of malware and new versions could negatively impact entire industries, according to a Cisco report.

10 tips to avoid ransomware attacks – As ransomware increasingly targets healthcare organizations, schools and government agencies, security experts offer advice to help IT leaders prepare and protect.

Keys to Chimera crypto ransomware allegedly leaked by rival crime gang – Sometimes, the fierce competition in the booming crypto ransomware market works in the favor of the victims whose priceless data is held hostage. That appears to be what played out on Tuesday when the criminals behind a package known as “Mischa” published what’s purported to be the secret crypto keys for the rival Chimera malware.

Company News:

LogMeIn merging with Citrix’s GoTo business – Remote access software maker LogMeIn is merging with Citrix’s GoTo business, the companies announced Tuesday, in a deal valued at $1.8 billion. Citrix said back in November that it would spin off its GoTo family of products as a separate company — by combining the spinoff with a merger, the transfer (in the guise of a merger) is tax free for Citrix. This sort of transaction is called a “Reverse Morris Trust.” The deal has been unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both Citrix and LogMeIn.

Qualcomm has agreed to pay nearly $20 million to settle sex discrimination claims – The proposed settlement, which was reached before a suit was filed, requires Qualcomm to set up new policies and procedures to ensure women working in technical fields enjoy the same job opportunities as their male counterparts. “While we have strong defenses to the claims, we elected to focus on continuing to make meaningful enhancements to our internal programs and processes that drive equity and a diverse and inclusive workforce which are values that we share and embrace,” Qualcomm said, adding that it can’t comment further since the deal requires court approval. The deal was reached following months of negotiations as well as two mediation sessions earlier this year.

Apple’s profit fell 27 percent in Q3 2016, but earnings beat expectations – Apple’s quarterly profit fell 27 percent in Q3 2016, to $7.80 billion from $10.68 billion a year ago, but the company’s shares rose today as the earnings beat analysts’ expectations. Quarterly revenue was $42.36 billion, down from $49.60 billion in the year-ago quarter, a drop of 14.6 percent. When Apple announced its previous results three months ago, the company said it expected to make between $41 and $43 billion in revenue in the third quarter of fiscal 2016, with profit margins between 37.5 and 38 percent. Actual results were near the top end of the estimates; gross margin was 38 percent. “Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters estimated that Apple would post earnings of $1.38 a share on revenue of $42.1 billion,” The Wall Street Journal reported. Actual earnings per share were $1.42.

Investors realize Nintendo didn’t develop Pokémon Go and shares plummet – Nintendo’s shares plunged after the company said late Friday that the worldwide success of Pokémon Go will not significantly impact its financial results. Nothing Nintendo disclosed about the ownership of the game was new information, but markets were shocked anyway. The stock sank 18 percent to 23,220 yen at the close in Tokyo, the maximum one-day move allowed by the exchange, noted Bloomberg. After the drop, Nintendo’s stock remained flat. In morning trading today, the Kyoto-based company’s shares were down $2.36, or 8.14 percent, at $26.64.

Vizio acquisition by Chinese TV and content powerhouse LeEco could shake up U.S. market – The $2 billion purchase of Vizio makes LeEco the number-two player in the U.S. smart TV market, and provides an opportunity for its many content holdings.

Twitter is adding users, but its biggest problems still remain – In its fiscal second quarter earnings report released today, Twitter says it added 3 million users, about 1 million more than Wall Street was expecting. The service now counts 313 million total monthly active users. It also posted profit of 13 cents a share on revenue of $602 million, which is better on EPS and yet worse on revenue than what Wall Street was looking for. Analysts surveyed by Thompson Reuters had Twitter at a profit of 10 cents a share on revenue of $607 million. The big takeaway, however, is the year-over-year percentage growth, which at only 20 percent is at its lowest since Twitter went public. A year ago, the figure was 61 percent. Two years ago, it was 124 percent.

Games and Entertainment:

Slimmed down 2TB Xbox One S hits stores August 2 for $399 – After leaking and then confirming news of the slim, white, Xbox One redesign just over a month ago, Microsoft today announced that its Xbox One S console hardware refresh will hit retailers on August 2. A 2TB system will cost $399 and will be available in “limited quantities” in the US, Australia, New Zealand, and most of Europe on that day. Versions with 1TB and 500GB hard drives will be available for $349 and $299, respectively, at a later date.

Sonic the Hedgehog Is Really Trying to Get His Act Together for 25th Anniversary – Sonic the Hedgehog has had a rough time lately. Sega’s fast furball may have shared a degree of the fame of Nintendo’s Mario in the ’90s, but for more than a decade the scores for the games he starred in have been so low they could pass for autumn high temperatures in Fargo, North Dakota. Worse, an outrageously snarky official Twitter account consistently proved more entertaining than the actual games. But something wonderful happened last night during Sonic’s 25th birthday celebration at the San Diego Comic Con: Sega revealed not one but two upcoming Sonic games, and they look like they might actually be good.


No Man’s Sky hit with last-minute delay on PC – PC players excited for the release of No Man’s Sky are going to have to wait a little bit longer to cruise around the universe. Originally scheduled to launch alongside the PS4 version on August 9, the PC version of the highly-anticipated game has been hit with another delay. That’s going to be disappointing to hear for eager gamers who have already had to deal with delays, but it’s not as bad as you may initially think.

Tim Sweeney claims that Microsoft will remove Win32, destroy Steam – Tim Sweeney doesn’t like Windows 10 or Microsoft’s Universal Windows Platform, the common development platform that allows developers to create software that can run on Windows on PCs, phones, tablets, HoloLens, and the Xbox. In March he published an op-ed in The Guardian saying that UWP “can, should, must, and will die” because, he claimed, Microsoft could use UWP to create a walled garden, with UWP games not available through competing stores such as Steam. Still apparently concerned with the health of the PC gaming industry, Sweeney is now claiming, through in an interview with the print-only Edge magazine, that Microsoft will use Windows updates to kill Steam.

Sega Mega Drive console with 80 built-in games goes up for preorder – Nintendo recently announced plans to capitalize on nostalgia with the NES Classic Edition, and now Sega is doing something similar. Now available for order is the Sega Mega Drive, as well as a Mega Drive/Genesis handheld console, to commemorate the 25th Sonic anniversary. The console costs about $65 USD, as does the handheld version, and comes packed with 80 integrated games including Mortal Kombat 1 – 3, a handful of Sonic games, Golden Axe 1 – 3, and a bunch more.


Nintendo NX detailed in new leak as a portable, cartridge-based console – Nintendo’s NX is still a console shrouded in mystery, but today a massive new leak might is dishing a lot of details about what it will offer when it arrives next year. Falling in with previous rumors, this leak also tips the NX as a portable console, but Nintendo is taking a more daring approach to handhelds this time around. Apparently, the NX will feature its own screen and detachable controllers that are housed on the device itself.

Free Xbox One/360 Games With Gold for August 2016 revealed – WWE 2K16, Spelunky, and more coming for Xbox Live Gold members.

Off Topic (Sort of):

The Motherboard e-Glossary of Cyber Terms and Hacking Lingo – One of the challenges of writing—and reading—about hacking is that it’s a world full of jargon and technical terms. It’s our job as journalists to translate this lingo and make it understandable to the average reader. Still, accuracy is important and sometimes you have to use the right terms. To help you navigate our stories during our special week on cybersecurity, The Hacks We Can’t See, (and our future and continued coverage of hacking) we thought it’d be good to have a little glossary. Here it is.

California to Require Registration of 3D-Printed Guns – California isn’t playing around with 3D-printed guns. As Motherboard reports, Governor Jerry Brown on Friday signed legislation that will now require anyone who 3D prints a gun to obtain a serial number or “other mark of identification,” and affix it to the weapon within 10 days. In addition, owners will need to have a background check and no 3D-printed guns can be sold or transferred to another party.

Judge Says Bitcoin Isn’t Really Money – Bitcoin is not money, according to a Florida judge. Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Teresa Mary Pooler ruled on Monday that since bitcoin is not backed by a nation or bank, and that it can’t be “hidden under a mattress like cash and gold bars,” it cannot be considered money. The case in question accused a man of selling and laundering $1,500 worth of bitcoin to undercover detectives, who said they wanted to buy stolen credit card numbers, according to the Miami Herald, which reported on the ruling.

Australian Dropbears win the Quidditch World Cup – The fictional game invented by JK Rowling has turned into a global competition between 21 teams, and this year Australia has taken home the gold.

Facebook open sources Surround 360 camera with Ikea-style instructions – Facebook needs you to fill its News Feed, Oculus Rift, and Gear VR with 360 content. So today it put all the hardware and software designs of its Surround 360 camera on Github, after announcing the plan in April. Thanks to cheeky instruction manual inspired by Ikea’s manuals, you can learn how to buy the parts, assemble the camera, load the image-stitching software, and start shooting 360 content. Essentially 17 cameras on a UFO-looking stick, the Surround 360 camera can be built for about $30,000 in parts. The 4-megapixel lenses can shoot 4K, 6K, or 8K 360 video, and fisheye lenses on the top and bottom remove the blindspots. Facebook forced a random engineer to try to build the Surround 360 from the open source instructions, and found it took about four hours.


MIT Researchers working on glasses-free 3D for cinemas – Viewing digital images in 3D, whether it be in a theater or with something like a VR headset, operate on the same principles of separating what the left eye sees from what the right eye sees. Coincidentally, both those cases also have something in common: the need to use some eyepiece or, worse, headgear, to experience “true” 3D visuals. Glasses-free 3D has been a holy grail, especially in the entertainment industry, where solutions like that found on the Nintendo 3DS are too expensive to put on a giant screen. Luckily, researchers from MIT are working on such a solution and are calling it, what else, “Cinema 3D”.

Something to think about:

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

–       George Bernard Shaw

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Illinois to Cops: Want to Use Stingrays? Get a Court Order – If law enforcement wants to track you down, one option is the stingray. It can mimic cell phone tower signals and trick devices into connecting, allowing police and investigators to find you or snoop on your conversations.

It’s a powerful tool, which is why the Illinois governor just signed a law that will require a court order before law enforcement can use stingrays, or cell site simulator devices, effective Jan. 1.

Under the Citizen Privacy Protection Act, “a law enforcement agency may not use a cell site simulator device, except to locate or track the location of a communications device or to identify a communications device, [and] a court order based on probable cause…is required for any permitted use of a cell site simulator device.”

“It is important that we take steps to enable police to effectively investigate and solve crimes using the latest technology, but it is equally important that we protect innocent people from unnecessary and unwarranted invasions of their privacy,” bill sponsor Daniel Biss said in a statement.

An Internet Censorship Company Tried to Sue the Researchers Who Exposed Them – Netsweeper is a small Canadian company with a disarmingly boring name and an office nestled among the squat buildings of Waterloo, Ontario. But its services—namely, online censorship—are offered in countries as far-flung as Bahrain and Yemen.

In 2015, University of Toronto-based research hub Citizen Lab reported that Netsweeper was providing Yemeni rebels with censorship technology. In response, Citizen Lab director Ron Deibert revealed in a blog post on Tuesday, Netsweeper sued the university and Deibert for defamation. Netsweeper discontinued its lawsuit in its entirety in April.

If the suit was successful, Deibert wrote, damages would have amounted to more than $3 million.

“It should be pointed out that this is not the first time a company has contemplated legal action regarding the work of the Citizen Lab,” Deibert wrote. “However, it is the first time that a company has gone so far as to begin litigation proceedings. I suspect it will not be the last.”

Europe gives Privacy Shield one year to work – Europe’s data protection authorities will hold fire for one year on the new Privacy Shield agreement, withholding any potential legal challenges until mid-2017.

In a statement [PDF] by the Article 29 Working Party (WP29), the influential body noted it was still unhappy with the final text of the agreement – which replaces the previous Safe Harbor agreement between Europe and the United States and covers transatlantic data flows – but that it would wait until the first annual review before putting forward any formal challenges.

The decision will come as a huge relief to US corporations who rely on the agreement for billions of dollars of trade.

The group had previously said the draft Privacy Shield agreement was “too complex … and therefore ineffective” and so overall was “not acceptable.”

Those criticisms led to changes being made – which the group acknowledges in its letter – but it remains skeptical that they will be sufficient.

Verizon’s Yahoo deal creates tracking powerhouse, privacy groups warn – Verizon’s planned US$4.8 billion acquisition of Yahoo will create an international consumer tracking powerhouse that raises serious privacy concerns, some privacy advocates said.

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Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday – July 25, 2016

Prisma is now out on Android;  Would You Pay a Subscription for Windows?  Tricks that ransomware uses to fool you;  11 Secret Codes That Unlock Hidden Features on Your Phone;  Redbox is giving streaming another shot;  Pokemon Go Already on the Decline in U.S.;  Microsoft cuts Xbox One price to $249;  More than half the world is still offline – and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Prisma is now out on Android – Prisma, the sensationally popular iOS photo manipulation app that’s been second only to Pokémon Go in terms of summer hype, has now arrived on Android. The Google Play Store has been plagued by sketchy knockoffs of this excellent new app, so it’s a welcome relief to have the authentic app now up and running. Prisma’s makers say they’ve ported over all the iOS functionality, so there shouldn’t be any difference in user experience or capabilities. With more than 400 million pictures “prismed” and over 10.6 million installs on iOS, Prisma is arriving on Android having barely been able to sustain its popularity among iPhone users.


Google Play starts showing apps’ actual download sizes: No more guessing games – Google Play now displays the actual storage space a whole app or an upgrade will take up, so you don’t accidentally download anything too big. If an update is only 2.91MB, it will show that exact figure right there in each app’s detail box. That will give you the chance to reconsider your download or to free up some space before getting a particularly large game or VR experience. Besides displaying more accurate file sizes, Google also tweaked its Play Store algorithm to make updates even smaller.

Digital advocates call DMCA copyright restrictions unconstitutional – The Electronic Frontier Foundation is suing the government, arguing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act has outlived its usefulness in protecting copyrighted material from pirates and stifles free speech.

A Jim Hillier article: Would You Pay a Subscription for Windows? – Speculation surrounding the possibility of Microsoft introducing a subscription based option for Windows 10 has been doing the rounds for quite some time. We even wrote about it way back in 2014: Subscription Based Windows OS – Is It On The Cards? Now, it seems, Microsoft has taken the first step in this direction by offering a subscription based Windows 10 option to enterprise consumers. On Tuesday, Microsoft confirmed that it will be offering Windows 10 Enterprise E3, a special enterprise tier of Windows 10, which will cost $7 per user per month.

11 Secret Codes That Unlock Hidden Features on Your Phone – The USSD protocol allows you to access hidden features you didn’t know about right from your smartphone’s dialer. But there is some trickiness you’ll need to know about.

This simple tool tells you if Amazon Prime is worth it (or not) – Amazon Prime is pretty great, but is it worth $99 per year? That varies depending on how you use Prime, of course, but there’s now a really simple way to figure it all out. Slice is an app for iOS and Android that tracks shipments for you based on shipment confirmation emails. It’s new tool, My Amazon Report, breaks down exactly how much you are (or aren’t) saving on shipping costs.

How to customize the Bubbles, Ribbons, and Mystify screen savers for Windows 10 – If you’re a fan of traditional Windows screen savers, these simple HTA apps are for you. They’ll make it easy to access and configure three screen savers that dropped off the map with Windows 10.

iPhone 7: All the rumors on its release date, specs, design and features – As July turns to August, it means that summer is winding down — and that new iPhones are imminent. With an announcement expected during the first or second week of September, we’re now officially in the homestretch — less than 8 weeks away from the big day when rumors turn to vapor or crystalize into reality. Here’s an updated rundown of the things we may see with the iPhone 7.

Verizon will cut off unlimited data users who use too much unlimited data – Verizon is forcing heavy data users to get off its unlimited plan or get off the carrier’s network entirely.

9 Chatbots You Can Talk to Right Now on Facebook Messenger – You want to talk to bots instead of people? These are the most useful you’ll find on Facebook.


Tricks that ransomware uses to fool you – Ransomware quite often targets businesses (for example hospitals) rather than individuals. Corporations have more valuable data and more money for ransom (ransom increases from roughly $500 per computer to $15,000 for the entire enterprise). Cyphort has examined different variants of ransomware to help users get an idea of what might be coming down the Internet pipeline. So keep an eye out for these characteristics before your network is taken hostage.

Is Computer Security Becoming a Hardware Problem? – In a new piece for the Communications of the ACM, Paul Kocher, chief cryptographer at semiconductor firm Rambus, argues that current computing devices are similarly vulnerable: “Today’s computing devices resemble the Silver Bridge, but are much more complicated. They have billions of lines of code, logic gates, and other elements that must work perfectly. Otherwise, adversaries can compromise the system. The individual failure rates of many of these components are small, but aggregate complexity makes vulnerability statistically certain.” To Kocher, this is a scaling problem. While the complexity of our machines increases exponentially, the development of new, reliable security schemes has not kept pace. Instead, security engineers take comfort in the complexity itself.

Company News:

Nintendo’s Stock Plummets Because It’s Not Making Enough Money Off of Pokémon Go – Earlier last week, Nintendo was basking in a dewey post-Pokémon Go glow, its stock doubling in value because of the game’s wild success. But what goes up must come down—thanks, Newton—and after the market closed on Friday, Nintendo revealed in a press release that “the game’s financial impact will be ‘limited’ and that it doesn’t expect to revise its annual forecast higher based on ‘current conditions,’” according to Bloomberg.

Your privacy at risk: Verizon reportedly close to purchasing Yahoo’s Internet business  – A major report suggests that Verizon may be about to buy Yahoo’s internet business. It’s unwelcome news for anyone concerned with privacy, but a potentially great move for Verizon’s bottom line.

Redbox is giving streaming another shot – After unceremoniously putting the old kibosh on it Instant service back in 2014, your friendly neighborhood DVD dispenser Redbox is ramping up to give streaming another go. The movie distributor, whose vending machines have become a supermarket mainstay across the US, is taking another shot at Netflix with a small beta roll out for “a small subset of [its] customers” From the sound of things, this is all still very early stages. No definite pricing or timing, but the Redbox Digital app has been published in the App Store, and screen shots reveal a UI pretty on-par with what’s offered up by Netflix and its ilk, albeit with a download option entered into the mix, along with a cast button to stream it to compatible devices.


Cyanogen Inc. reportedly fires OS development arm, switches to apps – Cyanogen Inc. seems to be in trouble. A report from Android Police cites “several sources” that say the three-year-old Android software house will be laying off 20 percent of its workforce. One source said the company would “pivot” to “apps” and away from OS development.

PonoMusic Taking a Break While it (Frantically) Switches Providers – Neil Young’s high-definition song store is down for a number of weeks, as its music service provider, Omnifone, was recently acquired.

Games and Entertainment:

SurveyMonkey: Pokemon Go Already on the Decline in U.S. – Has Pokemon Go peaked in the United States? Probably. Is it still going to mint a lot of money and have millions of players running around parks? Probably.

Microsoft cuts Xbox One price to $249 – Microsoft is cutting the price of its Xbox One console to $249. The new price marks the third price cut in less than two months, ahead of the new Xbox One S launch on August 2nd. 500GB versions of the Xbox One are now $249, and this includes bundles with games like Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, Quantum Break, Forza Motorsport 6, Rise of the Tomb Raider, and Rare Replay. Retailers like Best Buy and Amazon will be selling Microsoft’s Xbox One console at the new $249 price point immediately, and the software giant says the consoles will be available at $249 “while supplies last.”

‘Gears of War 4’ will have plenty of PC-specific features – The history of Microsoft-backed Xbox One games coming to the PC isn’t exactly stellar. When Remedy’s Quantum Break reached Windows, it was saddled with limitations that were partly dictated by the Universal Windows Platform’s own limits, such as frame rate issues and an overall lack of features. You shouldn’t run into those problems when Gears of War 4 rolls around, though. As part of a Eurogamer interview, The Coalition has revealed that the cover-based shooter will have ample PC-specific features. You’ll get much deeper video settings that include dynamic resolutions, so your ultra-wide display won’t go to waste. It’ll also take advantage of many-core PC processors, higher-resolution textures and UWP’s recently unlocked frame rates, offering a distinct visual advantage to playing on a brawny computer.


Sonic Mania is a new game straight from the Sega Genesis era – It’s hard to remember the last decent Sonic the Hedgehog game — most would agree Sega’s once iconic series took a drastic turn downhill following the Sonic Adventure titles on the Dreamcast. With each disappointing games’ release in the years that followed, all fans asked for was a Sonic title that played like the originals from the early ’90s: 2D graphics and fast gameplay. It may have taken them over 15 years, but it looks like Sega has finally gotten the point.

That new ‘Mystery Science Theater 3000’ series is hitting Netflix – That Mystery Science Theater 3000 reboot you backed last year – you remember the one, right? Jonah Ray, Felicia Day and Patton Oswalt all signed on and you threw your screen like an angry Fry from Futurama meme (helping the project reach $5.7 million on the crowdfunding service). It’s finally got a home. The 14 new episodes of the show will be, perhaps unsurprisingly, arriving on Netflix, which has long served as a second (or, like, fourth or fifth) home for older episode of the series.

‘This is the Police’ Is Like ‘SimCity’ for Dirty Cops – This Is the Police is part comic book, part SimCity, and part crime noir detective story. The city in the game is full of robberies, purse snatchings, false alarms, domestic murders, and the slow, steaming simmer of a pending race war. A mentally-ill kid breaks into a museum, draws dicks on all the paintings, and threatens to kill himself in a toilet stall—and all that’s before lunchtime. As police chief, players manage rosters of cops and detectives, dispatching senior officers to attempted murders and junior beat cops to chase teenage vandals. The game plays mostly in an overhead map of the city itself, letting players click on incoming emergency calls, hire new blood, and take reports from homicide detectives.

Off Topic (Sort of):

This short documentary shows how astronomers hope to find the next habitable planets – Just a couple of decades ago, the very idea that there were other planets orbiting stars throughout the universe was something that belonged to science fiction. However, recent research has shown not only are there other planets out there, but that they’re extremely common. The short documentary The Search for Earth Proxima outlines the breakthroughs that have led us to these discoveries, and how a group of astronomers plan to look for habitable planets in our neighborhood.


NASA releases new video showing the globe age one year – Last year around this time, NASA released the first image of Earth taken by the EPIC camera on the DSCOVR satellite. Since then, that camera has captured a full year of our planet from its location at Lagrange Point 1 about one million miles away. Compiling over 3,000 images, NASA put together a video showing a sunlit Earth age one full year.


Beer Is Getting Nutrition Labels and It’ll Probably Bum You Out – The last thing you probably want to think about before starting a weekend in July is how many calories are in your favorite beer. But it will soon be something you can’t easily avoid. The Beer Institute—the trade association representing more than 3,300 US brewers—recently released voluntary guidelines directing beer makers to list nutrition information right on the label. And multiple major brewers have agreed to do just that. In fact the six largest brewers in the country, which collectively produce more than 81 percent of beer sold in America, have all agreed to the new label standards.

Machine learning is about to change how corporations are run – When you’re a big acquisition-hungry corporation like Google, sometimes you make mistakes — you pay billions for bug-riddled Nest technology, for example. But really, you’ve got accept such losses as inevitable when you’re pursuing the big, infrequent pay-offs that only modern technology can provide. Increasingly, it’s becoming clear that the $500 million acquisition of DeepMind, which signaled to many observers the true beginning of AI as a major technology industry, is one such winning investment. Not only can Google rent out the company’s services for enormous profit, competing with other major machine learning entrants like Amazon for a quickly growing market share, but it can also use DeepMind’s insights to improve its own competitive advantage.

More than half the world is still offline – While it may seem like half the world is chasing Pokemon right now, the other half is not even on the Internet. About 3.9 billion people, or 53 percent of the population, will still be offline at the end of this year, the International Telecommunication Union estimates. Even in Europe, the most connected region, 20.9 percent of all people aren’t online. In Africa, the least connected continent, 74.9 percent are offline. Those figures are part of the annual statistical report from the agency, which is part of the United Nations.

Federal regulators says car makers “cannot wait for perfect” on automation – On Friday, head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Mark Rosekind told an audience in Detroit, Michigan that car makers “cannot wait for perfect” when it comes to developing and deploying self-driving car technology. The Wall Street Journal reported that Rosekind said automation would “save people’s lives” in a time when auto fatalities have been up 8 percent since 2014. Rosekind’s comments come after a man using Tesla’s autopilot system fatally crashed into a left-turning truck in Florida.

Something to think about:

“Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.”

–     Franklin D. Roosevelt

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Apple’s Touch ID blocks feds—armed with warrant—from unlocking iPhone – A Dallas, Texas man accused of prostituting underage girls was secretly ordered by a federal judge to unlock his iPhone using his fingerprint, according to federal court documents that are now unsealed.

It’s rare that we see a case demanding that a phone be unlocked in that manner, but we should expect more as the mainstream public begins embracing fingerprint technology. Ever since 2013, when Apple popularized this form of unlocking technology, legal experts have predicted that these types of government demands would slowly become more common. Experts also warned these demands are probably not a breach of the Fifth Amendment right against compelled self-incrimination.

As an aside, some courts don’t necessarily think that compelling a suspect to reveal their computer passcode is a constitutional violation. A Philadelphia man accused of possessing child pornography has been behind bars on a contempt charge for more than seven months for refusing to divulge his password. The man’s attorney claims it’s a constitutional violation to compel his client to assist the authorities with their prosecution. A federal appeals court has tentatively agreed to hear the case in September as the suspect (who has not been charged with a crime) remains in prison.

Judge Orders Yahoo to Explain How It Recovered ‘Deleted’ Emails in Drugs Case – A judge has ordered Yahoo to present a witness and provide documents explaining how the company handles supposedly deleted emails.

The move comes in the appeal case of a drug trafficker who was convicted, in part, because of emails Yahoo provided to law enforcement that conspirators believed had been deleted.

Defense lawyers in the case claim that six months of deleted emails were recovered—something which Yahoo’s policies state is not possible. The defense therefore speculates that the emails may have instead been collected by real-time interception or an NSA surveillance program.

United States Magistrate Judge Maria-Elena James, from a San Francisco court, granted the defense’s motion for discovery in an order filed on Wednesday.

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Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday – July 22, 2016

Windows 10: The smart person’s guide;  Firefox to start blocking Flash content in August;  Android June 2016 Security Bulletin: What you need to know;  No-cost decryption tools released for two ransomware programs;  The 10 step guide to using Tor to protect your privacy;  The 5 best budgeting apps for tracking and planning your financial life –  and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Lab Tested: The Best Security Suites of 2016 – Just what products and programs do you need to ensure your PC’s security? Antivirus is essential, to protect your system against all kinds of malicious products, not just viruses. And a firewall, to prevent network-based attacks probing for vulnerable computers. If your email provider doesn’t filter out spam, you need an antispam tool. If you have small kids, you may want a parental control system. And of course, if anything should happen to the PC, you’ll be glad you backed up your data. If you don’t install protection, you could lose your data to ransomware, or lose your credit card to a data-stealing Trojan. But wow, finding the right products for all of these distinct purposes could be a pain.

The procrastinator’s guide to free Windows 10 upgrades – The year-long free upgrade offer for Windows 10 ends in a matter of days. If you’re on the fence, it’s decision time. Here’s how to streamline the upgrade process to make it fast, simple, and nearly foolproof.

Windows 10: The smart person’s guide – This comprehensive guide covers must-know Windows 10 details, like features, system requirements, upgrade options, and Microsoft’s Windows-as-a-service strategy.

How to get out of Windows Safe Mode – Safe Mode is a useful tool, but it’s not a desirable working environment. If your PC only boots into that limited environment, here’s your way out.

Firefox to start blocking Flash content in August – Firefox will begin retiring Adobe Flash on August 2 with the release of Firefox 48. In 2017, probably with Firefox 53, Flash plug-ins will require the user to actively click-to-play. In Firefox 48, Mozilla will enable a new Firefox plug-in blocklist by default. Initially the blocklist will be small, mostly containing URLs of Flash SWF files that have been identified by Mozilla as supercookies (i.e. cookies that are very hard to shake off) or fingerprinting files (i.e. they scan your system and create a unique fingerprint, again usually for tracking purposes).

BBC iPlayer Radio app now available in the U.S. – BBC does radio well, and now Americans can experience the full effect of the UK broadcaster’s audio content expertise with the iPlayer Radio app for iOS and Android. The app contains all of BBC’s radio feeds, including Radio 1 through 6, as well as the World Service. It also has offline support for BBC podcasts, and curated collections of past content. The app was originally released for iOS back In 2012 (and on Android in 2013), but the native app experience was limited to UK-only listeners. Today marks the first time it’s been available to people in the U.S.

Periscope adds tweet embeds, replay highlights to its list of features – Periscope has signaled a significant update to its live streaming platform today, announcing three new features that users will almost certainly get some mileage out of. The first is the ability to watch replay highlights from streams you missed. Now Periscope will automatically create highlight “trailers” covering the broadcasts you missed over the last day and put them in your home feed, meaning you don’t need to watch entire streams just to get caught up.

WhatsApp beta update brings voicemail and call back options – WhatsApp is bringing even more features for its users, and those taking part in its Android beta testing can get access to the newest ones as of today. Chief among the new features being tested is voicemail, a welcomed addition considering how many people have replaced their phone’s voice and texting services with feature-rich dedicated apps like WhatsApp.

The 5 best budgeting apps for tracking and planning your financial life – Whether you want to save more, pay down debt, or become a better investor, there’s a financial management app that can keep you on course.

6 Gadgets to Keep Your Home Safe From Intruders – Summertime, and the living is easy — especially for burglars. While you’re out of town chasing the sun, it’s easier for thieves to case your house for a quick plunder. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, burglaries are around 10% more likely in the summer than in the winter, a number that makes sense when you think of people leaving windows and patio doors open to let in the fresh air. Unfortunately, they also give bad guys good opportunities to get in and out. Technology will rarely stop a bad guy from breaking into your place. But are six ways that smart home devices can either scare them off or alert you to a burglary in progress.

Review: 4 mini-PCs give you full power in a very small package – There is a new generation of mini-PCs out there — small, inconspicuous but powerful. They offer a number of advantages for businesses over laptops or more traditional desktop systems.


Microsoft ordered to fix ‘excessively intrusive, insecure’ Windows 10 – A French regulator has issued Microsoft a formal warning over Windows 10, saying the operating system collects excessive amounts of personal data, ships that information illegally out of the EU, and has lousy security. The warning comes from the Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL), an independent data privacy watchdog with the power to levy fines against companies. The CNIL has been investigating Windows 10 since its launch and has now drawn up a damning list of criticisms.

This amazing search engine automatically face-swaps you into your image results – Ever wonder what you would look like with long, wavy hair? I think you’d look great. But how can you try on a few looks without spending a fortune at the salon, or hours in photoshop? I’m glad you asked. All you need is a selfie and Dreambit, the face-swapping search engine.


Best indoor digital TV antennas: Our top picks for cord cutters – Ready to cut the cord? You’ll need a quality antenna to pick up digital broadcasts. Here are our recommendations.

KickassTorrents resurfaces online, as all piracy sites do – The alleged founder and operator of the most popular torrenting site in the world, KickassTorrents (KAT), has been apprehend by the US authorities and the site’s domains seized. However, as we learned with the campaign to stop The Pirate Bay, you just can’t keep a good pirate site down. We’ve already spotted at least two clones of KAT, including one created by IsoHunt ( — a fairly limited mirror), and a second located at

Smartwatch shipments drop 32 percent in the second quarter – According to new numbers posted by IDC, smartwatch shipments are down for the second quarter of this year, marking the first drop of its kind. And it’s not insignificant falloff – moving from 5.1 million a year ago to 3.5 million this quarter. That’s a 32-percent decline. The culprit seems pretty clear for the research firm. IDC lays the blame squarely at the Apple’s feet.


The 10 step guide to using Tor to protect your privacy – Here are 10 easy steps to show you how to use the Tor network to mask your browsing habits.

Android June 2016 Security Bulletin: What you need to know – The Android Security Update for June 2016 includes a number of critical issues. Jack Wallen has the highlights, and shows how to find out if your device is up to date.

Free your files! No-cost decryption tools released for two ransomware programs – Security researchers have released tools this week that could help users recover files encrypted by two relatively new ransomware threats: Bart and PowerWare.

Snowden designs device to warn when an iPhone is ratting out users – Working with renowned hardware hacker Andrew “Bunnie” Huang, Snowden has devised the design for what the team is calling the “Introspection Engine.” For now, it’s aimed only at iPhone 6 models, but eventually the pair hopes to create specifications for a large line of devices. Once built, the “field-ready” accessory would monitor various radio components inside the phone to confirm they’re not transmitting data when a user has put the device into airplane mode. The hardware is designed to be independent from the mobile device, under the assumption that malware-infected smartphones are a fact of life in high-risk environments.

GOP delegates suckered into connecting to insecure Wi-Fi hotspots – A Wi-Fi hack experiment conducted at various locations at or near the Republican National Convention site in Cleveland, US, underlines how risky it can be to connect to public Wi-Fi without protection from a VPN. The exercise, carried out by security researchers at Avast, an anti-virus firm, revealed that more than 1,000 delegates were careless when connecting to public Wi-Fi. In its day-long experiment Avast saw more than 1.6Gbps transferred from more than 1,200 users. Some 68.3 per cent of users‘ identities were exposed when they connected, and 44.5 per cent of Wi-Fi users checked their emails or chatted via messenger apps. The researchers scanned the data, but did not store it or collect personal information. Avast learned the following about the Republican National Convention attendees:

Maxthon browser is a wolf in sheep’s clothing – You may have installed the Maxthon browser on your mobile devices. If so, here’s why you should remove it. Immediately.

These figures show cybercrime is a much bigger menace than anyone thought before – The first official cybercrime figures from the Office for National Statistics suggest one in 10 adults have been victims in last 12 months — a much higher figure than previously thought.

Company News:

PayPal ticks up 2% on earnings, Visa partnership – PayPal reported earnings after the bell on Thursday, showing $2.65 billion in revenue for the quarter, when analysts were expecting $2.6 billion. Adjusted earnings per share was also in line with Wall Street estimates at 36 cents. Shares ticked up 2 percent in after-hours trading, in part because of a Visa announcement that was timed with earnings.

eBay shares up 5% after beating earnings expectations – eBay reported second quarter results after the bell on Wednesday and saw its stock rise over 5% in initial after-hours trading. The company beat expectations, posting earnings at an adjusted 43 cents per share, when analysts were forecasting 42 cents. The company also brought in $2.23 billion in revenue, compared to the $2.17 billion expected by Wall Street. Investors were also pleased to see the company raise its full year guidance. eBay expects between $8.85 billion and $8.95 billion in revenue for 2016.

AMD beats Q2 expectations – AMD on Thursday reported a net loss of $40m for the second quarter, or 5 cents a share, on revenue of $1.027bn. The semiconductor maker posted a non-GAAP operating income of $3m. The second quarter earnings report beat Wall Street expectations, which predicted a loss of 8 cents a share on revenues of $951.6m.

Troubling signs for companies using Twitter for marketing – The largest Twitter profiles are suffering from a “massive” decline in new followers and interactions, reports Quintly in its first semi-annual report.

Reddit is still in turmoil – It’s been one year since Reddit revolted. When the company cracked down on revenge porn and subreddits containing offensive content last summer, the backlash was swift and ultimately led to the ouster of interim CEO Ellen Pao.

Games and Entertainment:

Nintendo NES Classic Edition a great deal. Numbers prove it – The Mini NES isn’t the only place you can get some of these classic video games — but it’s far and away the best overall value.

Here’s what classic games will actually look like on the HD NES Classic Edition – New trailer shows improved color matching, sharpness over previous official downloads.


Catch ’em all for longer: Quick tips to reduce Pokemon Go battery drain – Nintendo is working on a fix, but there are things you can do in the meantime to help.

Nvidia announces the new Titan X, an absurdly powerful $1,200 graphics card – While the recently released $599 GTX 1080 impressed by outperforming last year’s $999 Titan X, the new card goes all-out with Nvidia’s latest Pascal architecture, 12GB of GDDR5X memory, and 3,584 cores at 1.53GHz delivering a quoted 11 teraflops of performance. The new Titan X, which Nvidia calls “the biggest GPU ever built,” has 12 billion transistors in total — and you’ll be paying about $100 per billion. The card will be available on August 2nd in the US and Europe for $1,200, with an Asia release forthcoming.

Hulu’s universal Windows app quietly appears on Xbox One – Mere weeks after Microsoft tested the waters of the Xbox One’s newfound capability to run universal Windows apps with retooled Blu-ray player software, it looks like a much more notable service is ready to take the plunge, too. Late yesterday, users on the Xbox One subreddit noticed a new version of the Hulu app available in the console’s store, with support added for Windows Phones, the Surface Hub, and even Microsoft’s HoloLens augmented reality headset.

Netflix Users Waste Ton of Time Searching for Something to Watch – Unless you have a list of shows already queued up, you’re spending upwards of 57 minutes a day searching.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Tech reacts to Trump’s RNC speech – Trump’s RNC speech was long, so we here at TechCrunch cut it down for you with 10 quick reactions from investors, executives, and engineers.

Twitter reacts swiftly to Donald Trump’s acceptance speech – Trump’s usually hyperactive Twitter account was, naturally, radio silent, but others had their say on social media during the GOP presidential nominee’s acceptance speech.

Fact check: Donald Trump’s speech at the Republican National Convention – Donald Trump does not exactly have a record in public office that can be used to assess his likely performance going forward. Nor does he really have a policy platform in a traditional sense. And his nomination acceptance speech, delivered Thursday night in Cleveland, is the biggest, most important speech he’s given yet. “I will present the facts plainly and honestly,” Trump said. But did he? We counted dozens of factual claims in the speech, and fewer than half scored as true or almost true. But there were also plenty of falsehoods, misleading or disputed claims, or baseless accusations.

The 7 steps of Elon Musk’s “Master Plan” – Why did Tesla buy SolarCity? To make your solar panel roof battery power your self-driving electric pickup truck. Elon Musk just revealed the second phase of his “Master Plan” and we broke it down so you can see the future too.

Smart Stitches Can Monitor Wounds as They Heal – Tiny sensors and electronics on threads create smart sutures that can monitor wounds as they heal.


You booze, you lose: Study confirms direct link between alcohol and cancer – Newly published research has found even moderate consumption of alcohol carries risk of seven types of cancer.

Tweeting trolls: Without tools, Twitter will remain a cesspool of abuse – We have no real tools to effectively manage the flow of information, and by shutting down the third-party client ecosystem, trolls have been enabled to run rampant.

Heinz reveals the secret way to get ketchup out of a bottle – Technically Incorrect: The company says only 11 percent of people know this secret.

Something to think about:

“My IQ is one of the highest — and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure; it’s not your fault.”

–    Donald Trump

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

EFF declares anti-piracy DMCA unconstitutional in new legal showdown – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has launched a lawsuit claiming that a controversial anti-digital-piracy law in the US is unconstitutional.

Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) – which became law 18 years ago – has long been controversial due to its heavy restrictions on what people are allowed to do with software. It was originally intended to protect the movie industry from piracy.

But the expansion of software – and corresponding digital protections – into an enormous range of devices including cars and medical devices has put increasing pressure on the law.

Although the law does include a safety valve in the form of a review by the Copyright Office every three years in which it receives proposals for exemptions, the EFF argues that it has failed to keep pace with the modern world. And that disparity has effectively made the law unconstitutional.

The EFF brings the lawsuit in Washington, DC on behalf of two plaintiffs: a computer scientist and a security researcher.

Petition urges Apple not to release technology for jamming phone cameras – More than 12,000 people have signed an online petition asking Apple not to deploy technology that would allow third parties like the police to use it to disable cameras on user phones under certain circumstances.

Apple received a patent for the infrared technology in June but bagging a patent does not necessarily mean the company is going to use the technology in its new devices.

There is considerable anxiety that the technology, which appears to be designed to prevent people from recording copyrighted and prohibited material, could also be used by the police to remotely disable cameras that could be recording misconduct by law enforcement.

“The release of this technology would have huge implications, including the censoring of political dissidents, activists, and citizens who are recording police brutality,” according to the petition.

WSJ Reporter: Homeland Security Tried to Take My Phones at the Border – On Thursday, a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reporter claimed that the Department of Homeland Security demanded access to her mobile phones when she was crossing the border at the Los Angeles airport.

The case highlights the powers that border agents purport to have, and how vulnerable sensitive information can be when taken through airports in particular.

“I wanted to share a troubling experience I had with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in the hopes it may help you protect your private information,” Maria Abi-Habib, a WSJ journalist focused on ISIS and Al Qaeda wrote in a post on Facebook. (Abi-Habib confirmed to Motherboard that the Facebook account was hers, but declined to comment further.)

Abi-Habib says she had arrived in town for a wedding, when an immigration officer approached her, and took her aside from the main queue. This by itself was not unusual, Abi-Habib writes: because of her job, she has reportedly been put on a list that allows her to bypass the usual questioning someone with her travel profile may encounter.

But things changed quickly, and Abi-Habib was escorted to another part of the airport.

End-to-end encryption: What does the government really want to do about it? – During scrutiny of the Investigatory Powers Bill in the House of Lords last week the government took a rather vague stance on whether end-to-end encryption would be allowed to be used in the UK, suggesting that while it did not want to ban it, it wanted tech companies to have some way of decrypting those communications.

While some tech companies do have the ability to decrypt their customers conversations – largely because they need to analyse it themselves so they better-targeted their customers with advertising, not all can.

Companies such as Apple and Whatsapp offer end-to-end encrypted communications to customers, which means only the sender and the recipient are able to read it. This worries police who say they need access to all communications to stop criminals plotting in secret. But privacy campaigners warn that undermining encryption would hurt security online and damage UK businesses – and that criminals would simply use encrypted services overseas.

When questioned by Labour and Liberal Democrat peers in the House of Lords, Earl Howe, defence minister and deputy leader of the House of Lords said: “If we do not provide for access to encrypted communications when it is necessary and proportionate to do so, we must simply accept that there can be areas online beyond the reach of the law, where criminals can go about their business unimpeded and without the risk of detection. That cannot be right.”

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Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday – July 20, 2016

How to remove malware from your Windows PC;  Microsoft Launches YouTube-Like Stream Video Tool for Business;  How to safely access and navigate the Dark Web;  Mini computers that fit in the palm of your hand;  How to Access Your Wi-Fi Router’s Settings;  Flaws found in security products from AVG, Symantec and McAfee – and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

How to remove malware from your Windows PC – Is your computer running slower than usual? Are you getting lots of pop-ups? Have you seen other weird problems crop up? If so, your PC might be infected with a virus, spyware, or other malware—even if you have an antivirus program installed. Though other problems such as hardware issues can produce similarly annoying symptoms, it’s best to check for malware if your PC is acting up and we’ll show you how to do it yourself.

How to safely access and navigate the Dark Web – Is your business data on the Dark Web? Learn how to find out if you’ve been compromised in this step-by-step guide to accessing the underbelly of the internet.

Microsoft Launches YouTube-Like Stream Video Tool for Business – Sharing video at work is about to get a lot easier, thanks to Microsoft. The software giant on Monday introduced Stream, a new tool that lets you upload, share, and discover videos in the workplace. Anyone with a business email address can sign up now; it’s free during this preview period. At this point, the service is pretty basic, letting you drag and drop videos you want to upload, then organize them into channels like you would on Slack. You can, for instance, create channels for specific teams, groups, or topics.


Plex’s new universal Windows app powers up media playback with key Windows 10 features – Plex has a very nice universal Windows app built specifically for Windows 10, but only for PCs and tablets for now.

5 awesome Google Keyboard features you probably don’t know about – Google’s official Android keyboard used to be the basic option, something you’d replace with a more capable app as soon as possible. Maybe you haven’t been paying attention, but that’s no longer the case. The Google Keyboard has stealthily become a fantastic input method with a series of impressive updates. However, many of the coolest things are hidden in the settings or just not obvious. Here are the five coolest features of Google Keyboard you probably don’t know about.

Mini computers that fit in the palm of your hand – It wasn’t that long ago that a computer was something housed in a huge beige box that weighed as much as an engine block and took up half your desk. Now you can get a powerful computer that can fit in the palm of your hand.


Chromebooks: Tips and tricks to make offline use practical – Google recently announced that Chromebook sales have surpassed MacBooks. But before you run out and buy one make sure you know what the latest Chromebooks can do when not online.

6 ways to take charge of the stock Android keyboard – There’s a growing list of customization options available on the “stock” Android keyboard. You can change the color of the keypad; you can also create your own background using an image from your camera roll. Read on for more.

How to Access Your Wi-Fi Router’s Settings – Your router stores the settings for your home Wi-Fi network. So if you want to change something, you have to log into your router’s software, also known as firmware. From there, you can change the name of your network, the password, the security level, create a guest network, and set up or change a variety of other options. But how do you get into your router to make those changes?

The Best Wireless Routers of 2016 – With the gaggle of connected home products, smartphones, smart TVs, and other mobile devices ruling our lives, it’s more important than ever to outfit your home or business with a wireless router that can handle the increased demand for Wi-Fi connectivity. We guide you through choosing a router that will handle your current and future wireless networking needs, and offer our top picks to get you started.


Deezer finally opens its music streaming to all in the US – Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play Music, YouTube Red, and even Tidal. Those are just some of the biggest names in an already saturated music streaming market in the US. So why not add one more? That is exactly what French company Deezer is doing, finally opening its doors to anyone and everyone in the US willing to tack on another subscription to their monthly expenses. Of course, the service has its own perks and unique features to try and make that worthwhile.

Want a Verified Twitter Account? Now You Can Apply – Dying for a little blue check mark next to your Twitter name? Now it could be easier to get one. For the uninitiated, verified Twitter accounts — denoted by a blue badge icon — are reserved for celebrities and other public figures and organizations like Kim Kardashian, Oprah, Justin Bieber, NASA, the FBI, and, of course, PCMag. Until now, Twitter has been pretty opaque about how users can get their accounts verified, and there was no way to apply. Today that’s changing.

Seagate unveils hard drives with up to 10TB capacity – Seagate today announced a new line of hard drives with up to 10TB of capacity for desktops computers, network-attached storage (NAS) and surveillance systems. The high-capacity drives, dubbed the Guardian Series, represent a 2TB increase over the capacity of previous Seagate hard drives in the consumer and small business category.


Flaws found in security products from AVG, Symantec and McAfee – Hundreds of security products may not be up the job, researchers say, thanks to flawed uses of code hooking. The research is the handiwork of EnSilo duo Udi Yavo and Tommer Bitton, who disclosed the bugs in anti-virus and Windows security tools ahead of their presentation at the Black Hat Las Vegas conference next month. The pair say 15 products including AVG, Symantec, and McAfee are affected. Scores more may be vulnerable thanks to their use of Microsoft’s Detours, code Redmond says is used for “re-routing Win32 APIs underneath applications [and] is licensed by over 100 ISVs and used within nearly every product team at Microsoft.” The researchers did not specify if Microsoft’s enhanced mitigation experience toolkit (EMET) is affected. Attackers would already need access to a system to reap the benefits of the vulnerabilities and neuter the security platforms running on the target system.

Oracle security update patches record 276 vulnerabilities – Oracle’s latest patch update was released on Tuesday, containing a record 276 fixes for vulnerabilities across an array of Oracle software. According to the tech giant’s security advisory, the July Critical Patch Update (CPU) includes security fixes for 84 products in total, including Fusion Middleware, MySQL, Java and Enterprise Manager software. As noted by Qualys, in 2015 Oracle fixed an average of roughly 161 vulnerabilities per update, and in 2014, the average was 128 fixes. What makes things worse is that out of the 276 vulnerabilities in the July update, 159 can be exploited remotely without authentication, most often over a vulnerable network and without any requirement for user credentials. In total, 19 of these security issues have been assigned CVSS scores of 9.8 — and considering the top danger rating is 10, it cannot get much worse. In addition, many of the flaws have a score of 9 or above.

Software flaw puts mobile phones and networks at risk of complete takeover – A newly disclosed vulnerability could allow attackers to seize control of mobile phones and key parts of the world’s telecommunications infrastructure and make it possible to eavesdrop or disrupt entire networks, security experts warned Tuesday. The bug resides in a code library used in a wide range of telecommunication products, including radios in cell towers, routers, and switches, as well as the baseband chips in individual phones. Although exploiting the heap overflow vulnerability would require great skill and resources, attackers who managed to succeed would have the ability to execute malicious code on virtually all of those devices. The code library was developed by Pennsylvania-based Objective Systems and is used to implement a telephony standard known as ASN.1, short for Abstract Syntax Notation One.

How a healthcare hacker is pressuring victims to pay up – TheDarkOverlord claims to have stolen 10 million patient records and is selling them on the black market. But in the meantime, the hacker has also been trying to extort his victims with the promise that the data will never be sold, if a ransom is paid.

Delilah malware secretly taps webcam, blackmails and recruits insider threat victims – Delilah malware taps computer and webcam to get dirty little secrets, then blackmails victims into becoming an insider threat and coughing up a company’s secrets.

OurMine is now hacking into Minecraft accounts – The same hacking group that took over Mark Zuckerberg’s Twitter account has now found a way to break into accounts connected to the hit game Minecraft.

Report: 80% of businesses can’t properly manage external cyber attacks – A new report by the Ponemon Institute shows that cyber attacks are costing companies $3.5 million per year, but the majority of businesses don’t have the proper strategies to manage these threats.

Company News:

Windows surprisingly strong in Microsoft’s $20.6B fourth quarter – Microsoft posted revenue of $20.6 billion (£15.7B) in the fourth quarter of its 2016 financial year, a decline of 7 percent year on year. Operating income was $3.1 billion (£2.4B), compared to a $2.1 billion loss in the same quarter last year. Net income was also $3.1 billion, as compared to a $3.2 billion loss, and earnings per share were $0.39. The full 2016 financial year figures were revenue of $85 billion (£64.9B), down 9 percent year on 2015, operating income of $20.2 billion, up 11 percent, net income of $16.8 billion, up 38 percent, and earnings per share of $2.79, up 42 percent. Those 2015 losses were substantially a result of the $7.6 billion write-down of Nokia’s assets. 2016 also included a further, final Nokia-related write-down but this one was a mere $950 million.

Yahoo reports another big loss and Tumblr write-down – Yahoo’s latest earnings report leaves no doubt the internet company is stuck in a downward spiral. The company managed to beat Wall Street’s limited expectations for revenue in the April to June quarter. But after subtracting commissions paid to its partners, Yahoo said its revenue fell 19 percent from a year earlier, while its loss widened to $440 million from last year’s $22 million. The company reported $1.3 billion in GAAP revenue for the second quarter compared to $1.24 billion for the same period last year, however, the cost of revenue more than doubled from $200 million last year to $466 million this year. Yahoo also reported that it’s writing down $482 million in charges related to the declining value of Tumblr, the social-blogging service that Yahoo acquired for $1.1 billion in 2013.

EMC shareholders approve Dell merger – EMC’s shareholders on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved the company’s merger with Dell, bringing the two companies one step closer to creating the largest privately held technology company. About 98 percent of shareholders voted in favor of the merger, EMC reported, representing about 74 percent of EMC’s outstanding common stock. The deal, which is still contingent upon regulatory approval from China, is expected to close within the expected timeframe and under the original terms. Dell announced in October that it would acquire EMC, in a deal valued at the time at $67 billion.

Wearable maker Fitbit must face lawsuit over sleep-tracking claims – A proposed class-action lawsuit accusing Fitbit of misrepresenting the ability of its wearable fitness products to track sleep can move forward, a federal judge has ruled. The San Francisco federal lawsuit claims that Fitbit materially misrepresented on its packaging the ability of the Flex product to track users’ hours slept, times woken up, and sleep quality. The suit alleges false advertising, unfair trade practices, fraud, and a host of other claims.

Pokemon Go pushes Nintendo market cap to $42 billion – Love it or hate it, one of the most popular mobile games to launch in a very long time is Pokémon Go from Nintendo. The game has players wondering around their city and getting exercise in many cases all while trying to catch Pokemon and level their characters up. Nintendo has ridden the wave of popularity that Pokemon Go has generated quite literally to new heights with shares soaring another 14% in trading on Tuesday.

Games and Entertainment:

The Best Gaming Monitors of 2016 – Whether you’re a serious PC gamer or a casual after-hours warrior, your hardware can mean the difference between victory and defeat. To get the most out of the latest first-person shooter (FPS), sports, racing, and other fast-action games, you’ll not only need a gaming PC with a powerful graphics solution, you’ll also need a monitor that can display the action without subjecting you to blurred images, flicker, tearing, and other motion artifacts. In this guide, we’ll help you choose a display that will give you an edge over your opponents while delivering a smooth, immersive gaming experience. We highlight the factors to consider when choosing a gaming monitor, and give our current favorites.

Original Dead Rising titles will be re-released on Xbox One, PS4, PC – We recently learned that Dead Rising 4 is in the works, but for those who are new to the series and want to see how it all began, Capcom has you covered. The developer confirmed today that the original Dead Rising will be coming to Xbox One, PS4, and PC, while Dead Rising 2 and its spin off, Off the Record, will be getting the same treatment, only without a PC release. Capcom confirmed the existence of these re-releases after a PS4 trophy list for the original Dead Rising was leaked.

Microsoft’s slimmed-down Xbox One S launches August 2 – When tech companies say a product will launch in a particular month, rather than on a specific date, it usually winds up meaning the end of the month—but not with the Xbox One S. Microsoft’s new slimmed-down version of the Xbox One will hit the streets on August 2, the company announced today, in a launch that coincides with the release of the big Windows 10 Anniversary Update. Unlike the powerful Project Scorpio console slated for holiday 2017, the Xbox One S largely features the same basic technical capabilities as the original Xbox One, but in a package that’s 40 percent slimmer than the original.


How to level up fast on Pokémon Go: love the weaklings, love the grind – Play Pokémon Go for any length of time, and you soon internalize its rigid hierarchy. On the top are the elites — the rare and high-powered pokémon — and on the bottom, the commoners — low-level and of little interest to most players. However, unlike many people, I can’t get enough of these weaklings. I go absolutely wild for Weedles, I cater only for Caterpies, and I’d rather pick a Pidgey than a Pidgeot. And why? Because these are the pokémon that you need to succeed.

Rise of the Tomb Raider hits PS4 with VR support on October 11 – Rise of the Tomb Raider is coming to the PlayStation 4 on October 11, Square Enix announced today, and it’ll be bringing PlayStation VR support with it. We heard last summer that the PS4 version of the game would be arriving in time for this year’s holiday season, and mid-October gives enough time to target those early Christmas shoppers. The October 11 release will be for Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration, and it’ll bring with it a new story chapter dubbed “Blood Ties,” all the DLC that has already been released, and more.

Off Topic (Sort of):

This angry man wants Pokemon Go players to get off his lawn – Technically Incorrect: A highly amusing (in its way) sign outside an apartment building demands that Pokemon Go players think about their life choices.


Lying scientists and the lying lies they tell – When you read academic papers, you aren’t looking for treachery and deceit behind the stolid prose. Don’t be so trusting: universities can be a wretched hive of scum and villainy. Here’s help.

Twitter finally bans Milo Yiannopoulos, one of its most notorious trolls – Twitter has permanently suspended Milo Yiannopoulos, an editor at the conservative news outlet Breitbart and one of its most notorious trolls. The expulsion of Yiannopoulos, who counted more than 300,000 followers on the service, comes just one day after he urged on a hateful mob that harassed ‘Ghostbusters’ actress Leslie Jones to the point that she quit Twitter.

Harassment of Ghostbusters’ Leslie Jones shows Twitter needs to change – Leslie Jones, the star of the new “Ghostbusters” reboot and a cast member on “Saturday Night Live,” announced she was leaving Twitter after trolls bombarded her with racist comments. “I leave Twitter tonight with tears and a very sad heart,” Jones tweeted before going silent on her account, where she’d spent the last several days battling trolls.

Terrible excuses for Melania Trump’s plagiarism, ranked – When Melania Trump apparently plagiarized first lady Michelle Obama in a speech at yesterday’s Republican National Convention, for example, she could probably have brushed it aside with a quiet non-statement. But in its trademark fashion, the campaign has responded with a series of increasingly belligerent justifications, proceeding from merely vague to downright bewildering. Some would (and do) argue that this is a brilliant form of misdirection, taking attention away from the virulent xenophobia that was on display yesterday at the convention. But unlike blatantly ugly sound bites, plagiarism is lazy and unethical behavior that the campaign can’t spin as bluntly pragmatic or bravely iconoclastic or “politically incorrect.” A mortal sin at least shows motivation and initiative. A venial one is just sad. And it’s only gotten worse.

How’s this for irony? US Navy hit with $600m software piracy claim – A German software developer has accused the United States Navy of illegally copying $596m worth of its product. Bitmanagement Software GmbH claims that the Navy has copied “hundreds of thousands” of copies of its 3D modeling and tracking software BS Contact Geo without paying. They have filed suit [PDF] in the US Court of Federal Claims asking for damages of “not less than $596,308,103.” Designed for 3D meetings, training, and collaboration, Bitmanagement touts the BS Geo software “uniquely enables interactive collaboration among multiple users in one virtual environment simultaneously, with high-quality graphics that appear crisp and sharp even on simple computers.” According to Bitmanagement’s claim, it first began working with the Navy on a pilot program in 2011 that called for 38 copies of the software to be installed.

Something to think about:

“If you steal from one author it’s plagiarism; if you steal from many it’s research.”

–    Wilson Mizner

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

WikiLeaks under ‘sustained attack’ after announcing release of Turkey docs – WikiLeaks on Monday said its site is under an ongoing attack after announcing it would release a trove of documents detailing Turkey’s political power structure.

“Our infrastructure is under sustained attack,” read a tweet sent by WikiLeaks, perhaps best known for the release of classified government and military documents.

The document-leaking organization said earlier Monday it was preparing to release 300,000 emails and 500,000 documents related to the failed Turkish coup Friday. WikiLeaks went on to suggest that the Turkish government might be behind the attack on the organization.

“We are unsure of the true origin of the attack. The timing suggests a Turkish state power faction or its allies,” WikiLeaks said in a subsequent tweet. “We will prevail & publish.”

FBI accused of using outdated IT to foil FOIA requests – The FBI is using antiquated computer systems to deliberately foil requests made under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, a new lawsuit alleges.

Ryan Shapiro, a national security researcher and Ph.D. candidate at MIT, has been studying the Freedom of Information Act for years with a particular focus on noncompliance by government agencies. He already has multiple FOIA lawsuits in motion against the FBI, and earlier this month he filed a new one.

In it, he describes numerous attempts to obtain information over the past two years, and the FBI’s frequent response that it can’t locate what he’s looking for.

“When it comes to FOIA, the FBI is simply not operating in good faith,” Shapiro said via email. “Since the passage of the Freedom of Information Act, the FBI has viewed efforts to force bureau compliance with FOIA as a security threat.”

The FBI has established “countless means” of foiling FOIA requests, he alleges, including a process by which searches fail “by design.”

Google’s latest transparency report shows record government data requests – Google saw a record number of data requests from law enforcement agencies worldwide during the second half of 2015 as the request total passed the 40,000 mark for the first time. That’s up from 35,365 in the first half of the year and 30,140 one year previous, according to the tech giant’s latest transparency report.

Google’s transparency report is an important resource since it provides a glimpse at how international governments and states are trying to use and access our data. And also, importantly, it is an indicator as to how much information Google — one of the world’s biggest holders of internet data — gives up in these cases. It is fairly high level in detail, but it is definitely a start and Google’s efforts have triggered similar reports from other consumer tech companies, including Twitter, Facebook and chat app Line, which handle potentially sensitive user data.

“Google is proud to have led the charge on publishing these reports, helping shed light on government surveillance laws and practices across the world,” the company said in a blog post.

In more detail: the U.S. led the pile with the highest number of data requests. The American government made 12,523 requests for data from 27,157 Google users, with Google providing some form of data — not necessarily the full request — in 79 percent of cases. That total is up from 12,002 requests in the first half of 2015.

WhatsApp blocked once more in Brazil for failing to hand over user data – One of the wonderful things about end-to-end encryption in messaging apps is, as long as it’s implemented correctly, nobody but you or the person you’re chatting with should be able to see those messages. Unfortunately for WhatsApp, judges in Brazil don’t seem to understand how that works. Yes, Brazil’s at it again, as the office of Judge Daniela Barbosa Assunção de Souza in Rio De Janerio has ordered five carriers to block WhatsApp until it turns over data associated with a criminal case.

Bulk data collection only lawful for fighting serious crime, says Europe’s top court – The European Court of Justice has issued a preliminary ruling on a data retention case brought by UK MPs and privacy rights groups seeking to challenge the government’s data retention regime under DRIPA.

The advocate-general’s opinion, published today, suggests governments may be able to apply general metadata retention obligations without falling foul of EU law — but it sets the bar for doing so at combating serious crime, and places renewed emphasis on respecting fundamental privacy rights.

The AG’s opinion is not legally binding but is highly influential, feeding into the deliberations of the ECJ judges who will pass final judgement — and whose opinion will undoubtedly influence and shape European legislation in this area.

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Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday – July 18, 2016

How to secure your computer and online accounts in 10 simple steps;  Pokemon Go T&Cs strip users of legal rights;  For privacy and security, change these Android settings right now;  2 ways to control Windows 10 automatic updates;  Google Search power-user tips and tricks;  How to remove your email address from Windows 10’s login screen – and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Pokemon Go T&Cs strip users of legal rights – Players of Pokemon Go are not only giving up their right to act like sane human beings in public, as they walk around, zombie-esque, reaching into the phones held in front of their faces, they are also likely to be waiving legal rights if they don’t take a very close look at Niantic Labs’ Terms of Service for the game.

How to secure your computer and online accounts in 10 simple steps – Data breaches, hacks, and vulnerable software makes it easier than ever for a hacker to get access to your data. These simple steps can help mitigate it happening in the first place.

For privacy and security, change these Android settings right now – It only takes a few minutes from the very first time you power on your Android phone to lock it down for your security and privacy. Each version of Android comes with a host of features, though they vary between devices. Before you customize your phone or tablet, such as downloading new apps or syncing your data for the first time, these settings need to be checked.

After one year, 10 lessons learned for Windows 10 – It’s been a busy year in Redmond, with Windows 10 delivering three major releases to 350 million active users. Here’s a look back at some major milestones and stumbles along the way, and new predictions about when Windows 10 will hit its ambitious goal of a billion devices.

2 ways to control Windows 10 automatic updates – Previous Windows versions let you update manually or automatically. But Windows 10 updates whether you want it to or not…unless you know the trick.

A Jim Hillier article: Add ‘Copy To’ & ‘Move To’ to Windows Right-Click Menu – Do you remember the old “Copy to” and “Move to” options which were once part of the Windows right-click context menu? For some reason, beginning with Vista, Microsoft decided to do away with these two options. I remember, years ago, using a freeware tweaking tool to add the “Copy to” and Move to” options back in. Anyway, it’s something which I’ve always found useful and, while there are still freeware tweaking tools around that will add these options for you, it’s very easy to do manually via a simple registry hack.


Amazon Video now lets you download movies and TV straight to Android SD cards – One of the big advantages of Amazon’s video streaming service has always been the ability to download its content on mobile devices. That way, if you’re taking a flight, or just want to save on battery, you can watch films and TV shows without having to connect to the internet. Now, Amazon has made a small but significant tweak to this feature, adding the ability for Android users to download content directly to their SD cards. This means that users that want to download, say, the whole of Mr Robot season one, won’t have to juggle their files, moving them about from main to removable storage as they run out of space. Instead, they’ll just go straight into the latter. The feature is available on Android tablets and smartphone from today in the US, UK, Germany, Austria, and Japan.

Google Search power-user tips and tricks – One of the essential skills of the 21st century is mastering how to carry out effective Google searches. Take some time out from your day to learn a few tips and tricks that will make your more effective.

36 Secret Tips Every Evernote User Should Know – What are the tips and tricks that will make you an Evernote master? We’ve got them here for you.

5 essential Google Drive extensions for Chrome – As the heart of Google’s productivity suite, Drive is the tool you access most. So why not make it easier to get to when you need it? These Chrome extensions will let you save emails, upload images, and create new Google documents all without leaving your current browser tab.

How to remove your email address from Windows 10’s login screen – The Anniversary Update adds a nice little feature that makes it easy to hide your email address on Windows 10’s sign-in screen.

Five iPhone battery-saving tips that really work (and five that are useless) – There are countless iPhone battery saving tips floating about on the internet, but which ones actually make an appreciable difference, and which aren’t worth the effort? I’ve done the real world testing to sort the wheat from the chaff.

If Microsoft can’t install Windows 10 on your PC, it’ll give you a new one – Terms and conditions apply, but if the company’s stores can’t perform a same-day upgrade on your Windows 10-compatible PC, it’ll give you a new Dell notebook.

iOS 10 is a total mess – With about two months to go until iOS 10 is released, the current beta shows an operating system full of bugs and strange user interface changes.

Kim Dotcom: Megaupload is Coming Back on Jan. 20 – The previous Megaupload topped out at around 150 million registered users and 50 million daily visitors. Can Kim Dotcom regain his old site’s popularity?


Pokemon GO: giving hackers direct access to your phone – On sign up, you will be asked to provide your Google login. Apps commonly use existing credentials rather than creating their own to speed up installation and make sign up easy. However, in the case of Pokemon GO, Niantic Labs, the app’s developers, offer no clear limitation to what the app has access to. Upon reading the Privacy Policy, the Emsisoft team were shocked to find that the app had full access to all aspects of a player’s Google account, including the ability to send and read emails, access edit and delete documents in Google Drive and Google Photos and access browser histories and location information. There is no mention of what Niantic Labs intends to do with the data it accesses, but users should be aware that full access to a user’s personal data is a huge security risk.

Fake Pokémon Go app on Google Play infects phones with screenlocker – Badware purveyors trying to capitalize on the ongoing Pokémon Go frenzy have achieved an important milestone by sneaking their fake wares into the official Google Play marketplace, security researchers said Friday. Researchers from antivirus provider Eset report finding at least three such apps in the Google-hosted marketplace. Of the three, the one titled “Pokemon Go Ultimate” posed the biggest threat because it deliberately locks the screen of devices immediately after being installed. In many cases, restarting an infected phone isn’t enough to unlock the screen. Infected phones can ultimately be unlocked either by removing the battery or by using the Android Device Manager.

OurMine claims credit for attack on Pokemon Go servers – Having trouble logging in to Pokemon Go this weekend? You’re not alone. A hacking team called OurMine has spent the past several hours hitting Pokemon Go’s login servers with a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, leaving some players frustrated and unable to log in to the game. The group said it would not stop the attack until representatives from Pokemon Go contacted them.

Ubuntu Forums hacked again, 2 million users exposed – Canonical’s Ubuntu Forums have been hacked, and the attacker has managed to access and download part of the Forums database, containing usernames, email addresses and IPs for 2 million users.

Company News:

SoftBank is reportedly bidding to buy chip giant ARM for $31 billion – SoftBank is bidding to buy chip giant ARM, one of the world’s most influential technology companies, according to multiple media. UK-based ARM designs chips for many of the world’s biggest tech companies, including Apple and Samsung, it has licenses with more 300 tech firms and has shipped over 60 billion chips based on its tech to date. The Financial Times reported that Tokyo-based SoftBank is offering a 43 percent premium on its closing price last week (£17 in cash for each share) in a transaction that could be worth £23.4 billion, or around $31 billion. That would make it the largest acquisition of a Europe-based tech firm to date. The New York Times and Wall Street Journal both confirmed a bid via sources, but neither reported a price.

Snapchat applies for patent to serve ads by recognizing objects in your snaps – Snapchat has filed a patent application for a system of advertising using object recognition to serve users sponsored filters. The technology outlined by the company would identify items in users’ pictures, and then offer them image overlays from brands related to these objects. It’s the visual equivalent of buying advertising space based on keywords in Google searches — but instead of looking for textual data in searches like “headphones” or “shoes,” it’s looking for the objects themselves. The patent application was filed in January last year, published by the US patent office earlier this month, and first spotted by Business Insider.

Comcast expands $10 low-income Internet plan – Comcast’s Internet Essentials program that provides $10-per-month Internet service to low-income families has been expanded to make about 1.3 million additional households eligible. Comcast created Internet Essentials in order to secure approval of its acquisition of NBCUniversal in 2011 and has decided to continue it indefinitely even though the requirement expired in 2014. Comcast says the 10Mbps plan has connected more than 600,000 low-income families since 2011, for a total of 2.4 million adults and children, and provided 47,000 subsidized computers for less than $150 each.

Games and Entertainment:

The Best PC Fighting Games of 2016 – PCMag’s favorite PC fighting games are highlighted below. This isn’t a hastily crafted roundup designed to simply appease the Google gods. Uh-uh. You’ll find links to in-depth reviews, as well as summaries for those of you who are pinched for time. And rest assured that all these reviews are penned by fighting game fans. It’s all love.

Netflix debuts ‘Flixtapes’: shareable mixtapes for streaming video – If you grew up in the ’70s or ’80s, you likely remember mixtapes. If you didn’t, a mixtape is like the physical form of a playlist; a collection of songs from different artists, usually grouped by a theme or mood, recorded on a single audio tape that could be shared between friends and romantic interests. Well, Netflix has just updated that ancient practice with a new feature called “Flixtapes” — a shareable playlist of movies and TV shows for, well, Netflix.

Star Wars VR game Trials on Tatooine comes to Steam for free – You’re only about a day away from being able to experience the world of Star Wars in virtual reality. At the Star Wars Celebration, currently being in London this weekend, Lucasfilm announced that it was releasing the VR game experiment Trials on Tatooine on Steam on Monday, July 18th. The best part is that it’s completely free, assuming you have a HTC Vive headset.

This week in games: CS:GO implodes, Overwatch adds a sniper mom, and Pokémon Go to the polls – Plus: System Shock Remastered hits its Kickstarter goal, Beastmen come to Total War: Warhammer, and more. This is your gaming news for the week of July 11 – 15.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Activists Release Nearly 100 Years of TIME Magazine Issues For Free – Activists have downloaded nearly 100 years worth of TIME magazine issues from the publication’s paywalled digital archive and dumped them all online for anyone to grab for free. “It was possible and seems worthwhile,” Michael Best, a freedom of information activist who obtained the files, told Motherboard in an online chat. In a statement published along with the files, Best wrote, “They’re a useful research tool with a lot of historical news and cultural information. They should be freely viewable online as they would in a well-stocked library, however most libraries lack this complete a collection of TIME Magazine back-issues.”

Too much big data running through my brain – Big Data by all accounts is supposed to help humans perform better by augmenting our limited brain power. Computers, after all, have the ability to crunch data with lightning speed, something humans just haven’t been built to do. Conventional tech wisdom states that the more data you have, the better the outcome — even if that sounds counter-intuitive. That’s the thinking behind the NSA hoovering up as much data as they can get their hands on. With more data should come deeper understanding, but what happens when there’s too much data and it surpasses our human ability to understand it in a given moment?

Sorry, there’s no more porn with your Starbucks latte – Starbucks said Friday it would soon add porn-blocking filters to its public, in-store Wi-Fi. The move follows McDonald’s, which disclosed this week that it had blocked the hamburger-eating public from accessing Wi-Fi-enabled porn at its restaurants. The group Enough is Enough and the National Center on Sexual Exploitation have been putting pressure on companies that provide free Wi-Fi to the public to block porn sites.

If you’re worried that stupid people have more kids, don’t be (yet) – It’s a common perception that less-educated people have more children. The idea causes much hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth over the possibility that human populations might become stupider over the course of generations. But it’s actually pretty difficult to confirm whether there really is a reproductive trend that would change the genetic makeup of the human population overall.

Research Confirms Dating Apps Are a Sad Game – Tinder and other dating apps have totally upended the modern romantic experience, yet we don’t really know how they work or how other people use them. We share stories of IRL meetups with friends, and guess at how other people behave on the app. Why didn’t this person respond to my carefully-picked emoji? Why did this other person flood me with an unending stream of inane messages for a week, only to disappear? Here’s why: dating apps are a sad, pointless game people play while mindlessly watching Netflix and drinking too much wine for a Tuesday night. And now research confirms it, thanks to a massive study that looked at 19 million messages between 400,000 hetero people on a dating app that couldn’t be named due to a non-disclosure agreement.

Live streaming to take off at political conventions – With presidential candidates looking to reach more viewers, especially younger voters, both the Republican and the Democratic national conventions this summer will be live streaming their events. Live streaming, while not a new technology, has become a hot communication tool and people heading up to the conventions are seeing it as a way to reach potential voters who might not watch the events on television or read about them in print or online.

Something to think about:

“I’m a very stable person. I’m so stable you wouldn’t believe it. I’m not a fast trigger. I’m the exact opposite of a fast trigger, but nobody’s going to push us around.”

–     Donald Trump

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Google Search will offer state-by-state guide to voter registration – After months upon months of political ads, debates, and news stories flying at us from every direction, the general election will finally be decided later this year. Yet, living through nearly two years of endless political commentary and talking heads analyzing nearly every word each candidate has ever said will all be for nothing if you aren’t registered to vote when time comes in November. Google has announced today that it’s going to try to make the process of registering to vote at least a little easier for those who want their voices to be heard.

Is Twitter success of Trump and Clinton propped up by botnets and fake followers? – Trump and Clinton have one thing in common: a massive contingent of zombie Twitter followers. The data suggests large numbers of followers may have been purchased.

GOP convention sponsors have second thoughts as online activists notch win – Hewlett-Packard, which donated $1 million in funds and tech equipment to the past two Republican National Conventions, abruptly said it would snub this year’s GOP gathering in Cleveland.

Apple, which committed computers and iPhones to the last two Republican conventions, also sent its regrets. Motorola, which donated more than $600,000 during the 2012 RNC, took the same path.

The series of cancellations caps a remarkable victory for ColorOfChange and Credo Action, online activist groups that began pressuring some of the biggest corporations in the country to withdraw from what’s shaping up to be the most contentious political gathering in nearly half a century. Using social media, online petitions and calls, the two groups targeted 30 major companies, prompting half to cancel or curtail their participation in the event, where Donald Trump is expected to be named the Republican Party’s presidential candidate.

In a blast of emails and tweets, the organizations warned companies that Trump’s divisive campaign and tactics would tarnish their well-polished brands. Did the companies want to be associated with a candidate who has repeatedly attacked women, immigrants and minorities? they asked corporate leaders.

UK surveillance bill includes powers to limit end-to-end encryption – The UK government has explicitly confirmed that a surveillance bill now making its way through the second chamber could be used to require a company to remove encryption. And even, in some circumstances, to force a comms service provider not to use end-to-end encryption to secure a future service they are developing. The details were revealed during debate of the Investigatory Powers Bill at a committee session in the House of Lords this week.

This cements concerns over the phrasing of a clause in the bill that refers to the ‘removal of electronic protection’, which critics, including from the technology and security industries, have long been warning risks outlawing the use of strong encryption in the UK.

The government’s counter argument has been that there should be no safe spaces for terrorists and criminals to operate online, i.e. where their communications are definitively out of the reach of security and law enforcement agencies.

How to circumvent Turkey’s social media block – Access to several social media sites was blocked for over an hour in Turkey today during a reported military coup. Although internet traffic appears to be flowing normally again, Turkey’s government frequently responds to political events by blocking certain websites or throttling traffic.

“We saw the throttling of connections from Turkey to Twitter and Facebook just after the reports of the coup in Turkey,” Doug Madory, the director of internet analysis at Dyn Research, told TechCrunch. “We did not see any problems with YouTube, but I have also seen others report problems accessing that website.” Livestreaming services like Twitter’s Periscope and Facebook Live appeared unaffected by the block.

Overall, internet traffic in Turkey may have dropped by half, according to CloudFlare data. CloudFlare CEO Matthew Prince tweeted, “From CloudFlare data, appears there’s about a 50% drop in Internet traffic coming out of Turkey.”

Turkish censorship of social media has been relatively easy to circumvent in the past — users could use DNS services like Google Public DNS to evade the blocks. But Turkey has become more sophisticated in how it blocks its citizens from accessing social media, according to Madory.

“This time Turkey appears to be restricting bandwidth when accessing social media. This represents a more sophisticated censorship technique that is harder to detect,” Madory said. “Users should still be able to circumvent it using a VPN, but the average user in Turkey may still not have that technology readily available.”

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Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday – July 15, 2016

10 compelling reasons to upgrade to Windows 10;  Google quietly brings forgetting to the U.S.;  10 tips to help you beat smartphone addiction;  4 tools that will make your sloppy emails seem smart;  New Locky ransomware version can operate in offline mode;  OneDrive starts cutting free storage down to 5GB – and much more news you need to know.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

10 compelling reasons to upgrade to Windows 10 – The deadline cometh. July 29 looms, and after that, Windows 7 and 8 users will no longer be able to upgrade to Windows 10 for free. If you’ve been waiting for Microsoft to polish out the operating system’s initial bugs, it’s time to make the leap. This article’s more for the fence-sitters—the folks who haven’t decided whether to stick with what they know or embrace Microsoft’s new-school operating system. There are some very valid reasons not to upgrade to Windows 10, to be honest. But Windows 10 is the best Windows yet, and most people should claim the free upgrade while there’s still time. Here’s why.

Google quietly brings forgetting to the U.S. – If you are worried about your online privacy, it might be of interest to you that Google has quietly brought its Google forget program to the U.S. It has made it quite simple, for the most part. Simply go to to see the history of your searches, YouTube viewing and everything else you do on Google platforms, and then be guided through the process of trimming that history. But be careful. Privacy restrictions bring with them good and bad, and some consumers who become gung ho about deleting activity may find the usefulness of their web surfing drop off.

10 tips to help you beat smartphone addiction – Smartphone addiction is a real thing! We obsessively check our smartphones when we’re talking, working, walking, and driving, even though we know we shouldn’t. We just can’t help it! But you know what they say: recognizing you have a problem is the first step to fixing it, so congrats on reading this far. Here are 10 tips you can use to help you kick your smartphone addiction, reclaim your place in the real world, and possibly even venture outside without a phone glued to your hand (thanks a lot, Pokemon Go).

How to create a custom folder to access the Windows 10 GodMode tools you need – Don’t settle for GodMode overload in Windows 10 when a few shortcuts will do. Follow these steps to build your own custom toolset.

4 tools that will make your sloppy emails seem smart – Clean up clutter, correct grammar, improve tone, and just generally make a better impression with these apps and extensions.

OneDrive starts cutting free storage down to 5GB – Last November, Microsoft advised OneDrive users that some big changes would be coming eventually — that OneDrive storage would be decreasing from 15GB to 5GB, that Office 365 users wouldn’t be getting unlimited storage, and the 15GB of camera roll storage would be removed. Microsoft gave its users a chance to opt out of this change; those who missed the memo are now receiving warnings that their OneDrive allotment is about to be slashed.

Early Look at Skype for Linux and Chromebooks – Skype for Linux is no longer an afterthought for Microsoft as the company introduces new versions of Skype for Linux Chromebooks and the Chrome web browser.

Confirmed: Only Microsoft Edge will play Netflix content at 1080p on your PC – Microsoft claims that Edge does something Chrome, Firefox, and Opera can’t: Stream 1080p Netflix content on your PC. Turns out it’s true.

Google Proposal for ‘Professional Women’ Emoji Accepted – The company petitioned the Unicode Consortium in May to add 13 new “working emoji” that cover new jobs and build more gender equality into these tiny icons. Unicode has since agreed to launch 11 of Google’s proposed emoji, with representations for men and women (and support for varying skin tones). That’s not all. Unicode is also retrofitting 33 existing emoji with selectable male and female versions. If you want to send a friend female runner, you can. A man or a woman getting their hair cut? Done. A female weightlifter? Let ‘er rip.


Maxthon MX5 review: Rough-and-ready browser offers paid features for free – Maxthon’s fifth-generation MX5 Web browser includes a number of key features, such as password management, that you might end up paying for on other browsers.

Quick glossary: Internet of Things – When history is written sometime in the distant future, the Internet of Things (IoT) could very well be designated as the technological culmination of the Information Age. By combining technologies ranging from simple sensors to super computers crunching big data results, the IoT changes the way we work, play, interact, and measure whatever reality we choose to create from this point forward. But to comprehend the true power of what we are creating, we should become familiar with at least some of the terms involved in IoT. This list of 27 concepts and technologies will help you grasp the vocabulary behind the Internet of Things and the ideas supporting an interconnected, all-things-networked world.

Android Pay launches in Australia – Google is continuing the expansion of Android Pay in Asia Pacific after the mobile payments service went live in Australia today, its most significant launch in the region to date. Android Pay initially landed in Asia with a launch in Singapore last month, and today it is in Australia, which has a population of around 22 million people. According to data from Kantar, Android represented around 64 percent of smartphones sold between March and May this year, with iOS on 36 percent, so Australia should represent a good-sized market for Android Pay. (Singapore, by contrast, is heavily skewed towards iOS and a population of just five million.)


Messenger on Android gets Instant Articles – Facebook Instant Articles, the articles from participating publications that load instantly when clicked, have made their way to Messenger. The social network opened up Instant Articles to all publishers a few months back; it only makes sense that they’d expand them to cover Messenger, too, as they’ve done today. Kicking them off are Instant Articles on Android, but they’ll be coming to iOS in future weeks, too.

Five ways you can run Windows programs on a Mac – There are a number of ways that you can run your favorite Windows applications on your Mac – and some won’t cost you a penny.

Facebook activates Safety Check after truck attack kills dozens in Nice, France – Tool for informing contacts on the social network that you are safe is turned on after a truck rams a crowd in Nice, France, killing at least 73 people.


New Locky ransomware version can operate in offline mode – The creators of the widespread Locky ransomware have added a fall-back mechanism in the latest version of their program for situations where the malware can’t reach their command-and-control servers. Security researchers from antivirus vendor Avira have found a new Locky variant that starts encrypting files even when it cannot request a unique encryption key from the attacker’s servers because the computer is offline or a firewall blocks the communication.

Famous iPhone Hacker ‘Geohot’ Shows Us How Easy It Is To Hack a Computer – What does hacking really look like? We wanted to find out, so we asked famous hacker George Hotz, better known for his moniker “Geohot,” to show us. We visited Hotz as part of VICELAND’s CYBERWAR series, and got him to demonstrate how he would hack into a computer that was running vulnerable software. As part of the demo, Hotz explains how his exploit works. An exploit is nothing more than a custom program that takes advantage of a vulnerability or bug to give a hacker control over another computer. And in just a few seconds, he uses it to get complete, unfettered access to our computer.


A surge of Pokemon Go-related apps is out to steal your data – Since the game launched last week, a swarm of unofficial apps has emerged and is trying to capitalize on the title’s success. And many are hungry for your personal data. These unofficial apps have been offering cheats, tips and even songs from the hit game. But in exchange, they demand permission to access sensitive data on your phone, said Chad Salisbury, a security engineer with RiskIQ, which monitors mobile malware. If permission is granted, the apps can collect contacts lists, photos and even login credentials to social media accounts. They can even take control of a phone’s camera and microphone. RiskIQ has detected 172 unofficial Pokemon Go-related apps. Salisbury estimated that over half of them suspiciously gather more user information than they need.

FBI says its malware isn’t malware because ‘we’re the good guys’ – Another tale from the “twisted and illogical” department…

Drupal calls on users to patch critical remote code execution vulnerabilities – The Drupal content management system (CMS) powers at least one million websites, and comes after WordPress and Joomla in popularity. However, the CMS is popular with business users thanks to e-commerce functionality, and approximately nine percent of the world’s top 10,000 websites run the Drupal system. On Wednesday, Drupal’s security team revealed that a “critical” remote code execution vulnerabilities have left at least 13,000 websites at risk due to the use of specific, vulnerable modules.

Company News:

Google under fire again from Europe’s antitrust regulator over AdSense, comparison shopping – After years of battles in Brussels and beyond, search giant Google has come under yet more fire from antitrust regulators in Europe concerned about the its dominance in online advertising. Today, the European Commission announced that it has sent further Statements of Objections to the company, accusing it of abusing its dominant position in search in areas like comparison shopping services and also by restricting the possibility of third party websites displaying search results from Google’s competitors, ads that would directly compete against Google’s own AdSense for Search product.

6 months on, Bleeping Computer will continue to have to defend libel lawsuit – A federal judge has recently allowed an ongoing libel lawsuit filed against a popular online forum to go forward. Bleeping Computer, the website, has characterized the lawsuit as “frivolous,” and has asked its readers to help defend its “freedom of speech.” The case revolves around numerous posts on the site concerning Enigma Software Group, which makes an anti-virus software known as SpyHunter. Those messages stem primarily from a September 2014 post, during which one of Bleeping’s moderators, “Quietman7,” wrote:

While there are mixed reviews for SpyHunter, some good and some bad, my main concern is the reports by customers of deceptive pricing, continued demands for payment after requesting a refund, lack of adequate customer support, removal (uninstall) problems and various other issues with their computer as a result of using this product.

Further posts described ESG as engaging in “deceptive pricing” and claimed that SpyHunter is a “dubious and ineffective program.”

As a result, ESG sued Bleeping Computer for libel in January 2016, seeking at least $75,000 in damages.

Tor shakes up exec board following Appelbaum withdrawal – In the aftermath of a scandal which saw one of the core members of the Tor project step down, Tor has replaced its entire board of directors in the hope of leaving such a past behind. The Tor project runs the onion router, a browser and relay-and-node system which helps mask your digital footprint. Used worldwide, the project is supported by a backbone of volunteers and donations and remains a thorn in the side of law enforcement seeking to break into the system to track criminal suspects. The Massachusetts-based nonprofit has not had an easy time in the spotlight recently. One of the project’s most prominent figures, security specialist Jacob Appelbaum, left his position in June after rumors of serious sexual misconduct emerged.

Google: YouTube has paid out over $2bn to rights holders – The internet giant defends its video platform, arguing it is a robust revenue stream for content creators that is legitimately fighting piracy.

Pokémon Go will soon get ads in the form of sponsored locations – After having become one of the most viral mobile applications of all time, Pokémon Go will soon include advertising, according to its developer. In an interview with the Financial Times, Niantic CEO John Hanke said that “sponsored locations” would provide a new revenue stream, in addition to in-app purchases of power-ups and virtual items. In other words, retailers and companies will be granted the paid opportunity to be featured prominently on the game’s virtual map, in the hope to drive customers inside their facilities. A Niantic spokesperson declined to provide further details about the amount of potential revenue split between ads and in-app purchases.

Games and Entertainment:

The 12 best PC co-op games to play with your friends – It’s good to have friends. That goes doubly so when you’re facing down a zombie horde or sneaking into a hostile spy base. Here we’ve rounded up 12 games that are better in every way to play with friends. Yeah, you could play some of them alone. Sure, you could (if you’re insane) play some of them with random Internet strangers who love to use profanity. But if you pair up with a partner or three you’ll have a much more rewarding experience.

Pokémon Go installed on more devices than Candy Crush, LinkedIn, Lyft, Tinder & more – The app on Monday topped Twitter’s daily users, and has people spending more minutes per day playing the game than browsing Facebook, reports have indicated. Now comes word that game has also topped Pandora, Netflix, Google Hangouts, and Spotify, in terms of daily active users, and is installed on more devices than many popular apps, like Candy Crush, Viber, LinkedIn, Clash of Clans, Tinder and others. The figures are based on tracking company SimilarWeb’s analysis of U.S. Android users. On Monday, July 11th, 5.9 percent of all U.S. Android owners played Pokémon Go, which was 46 percent more than the 4.1 percent who launched Twitter that day, the firm also reported. However, a handful of other apps are still beating Pokémon on this front, including Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp and Snapchat.

Five tips I shouldn’t have to tell you about Pokemon GO, but probably do – We’re past the stage where gamers emerged, blinking and squinting in the light, and well into Pokemon GO as a cultural phenomenon. Nintendo and Niantic’s augmented reality game hit just the right balance of cherished franchise and smartphone-powered location based play, demonstrated by just how many people are up off the couch and out in the streets searching for Pikachu and Pidgey. Problem is, some bad habits have developed along with the hunt…

3DMark Time Spy tested: We pit Radeon vs. GeForce in this major new DX12 benchmark – Nvidia GeForce and AMD Radeon graphics cards go head-to-head in the first major DirectX 12 benchmark tool, 3DMark’s Time Spy.

Fallout Shelter arrives on PC at long last – We heard earlier this week that the PC launch of Fallout Shelter was imminent, and now it appears that Bethesda has made good on that promise, finally bringing its charming little mobile game to the PC masses. The launch coincides with the release of Bethesda’s version 1.6 patch, which has been revealed to be Fallout Shelter’s largest content update ever.


Nintendo is launching a mini version of its iconic NES console with 30 classic games – When you’re on a roll, why not make crowd-pleasing decisions. Nintendo, which has seen its market cap soar thanks to the Pokemon Go phenomenon, just announced that it will relaunch its iconic NES console. The NES Classic Edition will go on sale from November 11 priced at $59.99. There is a notable change however, the NES will come with 30 games pre-installed, including classics like Super Mario Bros. 1, 2 and 3, The Legend Of Zelda, Punch Out, Final Fantasy, Donkey Kong, Bubble Bobble and more. It’ll also be a little smaller than the original model — Nintendo described it as a “mini replica” — and there will be an HDMI cable to keep with the times.


Nvidia’s VR Funhouse is a tech demo to test your PC’s limits – VR Funhouse is basically a collection of carnival-themed virtual reality minigames with advanced physics and visual effects built upon Unreal Engine 4. Nvidia warns that the game will run on low graphics settings even with a 980 Ti or 1070 card, or medium with a single 1080; you’ll need two 1080s running in SLI tandem, or one with a 980 Ti to serve as a backup physics card, for the best results. So yeah, this is a resource-heavy game even by VR standards. And of course, you’ll need an HTC Vive as well. If you have a Vive and a recent high-end Nvidia GPU, VR Funhouse is well worth checking out. It’s available now on Steam for free, and Nvidia also plans to open-source it later this summer so that developers can create their own games with the same technology.

Google Play Indie Games Festival kicks off in San Francisco this September – Competing as a game developer on the Google Play Store can be a tough proposition, especially as we see more and more professional game developers leave their big studios to start or join studios dedicated to mobile games. If you’re one of those small-time game developers, good news: Google has announced that it will be giving independent developers a chance to have their moment in the spotlight later this year, when it hosts the Google Play Indie Games Festival in San Francisco.

Off Topic (Sort of):

The Huffington Post will broadcast 360-degree video from Republican and Democrat National Conventions – The Huffington Post will broadcast 360-degree video from the Republican and Democratic National Conventions on Monday, its first major use of the technology after parent company AOL bought virtual reality studio RYOT earlier this year. Reporters and producers from the new HuffPost RYOT team formed after the purchase will be in Cleveland and Philadelphia, capturing the events with “immersive” 360-degree clips, supporting updates and breaking news.

More than 100 tech industry leaders say Trump presidency would be ‘disaster for innovation’ – Although Donald Trump just lined up Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel for a Republican National Convention speech, a new open letter makes it clear that much of the tech industry remains concerned about the prospect of a Trump presidency. In the letter, posted today to Medium, luminaries of Slack, Facebook, Instagram, and several other companies and organizations say that “Trump would be a disaster for innovation.” Signers include high-profile names like Tim Wu, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Butterfield, Padmasree Warrior, Esther Dyson, and Ev Williams. Katie Jacobs Stanton, a former Twitter exec who is now the CMO of Color Genomics, published the letter.

Immerse yourself in whiskey with 360-degree video from Jack Daniel’s – A bit too much whiskey might have you walking in circles, but with a new 360-degree video from the Jack Daniel’s distillery, you can spin around as much as you want — totally sober — while getting a look at how the 150-year-old Tennessee whiskey is made.

$29.99 for the IT Security & Ethical Hacking Certification Training ($1,895 value) – Deal Alert – For a limited time, the bundle of courses is only $29.99 and jam-packed with over 48 hours of courses and 50 hours of advanced training.

Facebook post of murder-trial pic lands teen in jail – Technically Incorrect: A British teen goes to court to see his friend tried for murder. He takes pictures and posts one with a provocative caption. A judge is not impressed.

Something to think about:

“Know how to listen, and you will profit even from those who talk badly.”

–     Plutarch

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Microsoft wins major victory in legal fight over data center access – After years of arguments, Microsoft has won a major victory in its legal fight over US access to information stored in a company data center in Ireland. In a decision filed today by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, judges ruled that US investigators can’t use the Stored Communications Act to compel access to the data, as it is physically located outside of US borders. As a result, the court found that Microsoft has “no remaining lawful obligation to produce materials to the government.”

It’s a major victory for Microsoft, which has maintained that extraterritoriality was necessary to fulfill the company’s privacy policy to users. A number of outside groups made arguments in support for Microsoft’s case, including corporate partners and rivals like AT&T, Verizon, and Apple, as well as privacy groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation and American Civil Liberties Union.

Microsoft argued that because the data was stored in Ireland, it was subject to Irish rather than US law, regardless of the company providing the infrastructure. That feature is central to Microsoft’s ambitions as a cloud provider, allowing the company to compete with local storage companies that are not otherwise subject to US requests. The nationality of the target of the investigation is still undisclosed.

Muckrock Is Building a Database of Excuses the Govt Uses to Withhold Public Info – In recent years, we’ve entered something of a golden era of government transparency—or at least, a golden era of journalists and interested citizens filing information requests with government agencies. Freedom of Information Act requests have increased greatly as the internet and services such as Muckrock, a tool that fills out sample language for information requests and then tracks them, have made filing easier. But there’s one major problem: Federal agencies use lots of different tactics to avoid actually releasing all sorts of documents, and few journalists actually know how to fight back against the system.

It’s not entirely their fault: Enforcement of different FOI “exemptions” varies by agency and often depends on which specific FOIA officer handles the request. At the state level, where a patchwork of “sunshine” laws govern what records are public well, things are even more of a mess.

“Even when public records laws are clear, the different exemptions are typically found in other bits of the legal code,” Michael Morisy, who founded Muckrock, told me. “A dairy bill might include an exemption for certain types of state dairy records or something, so what happens is you have a Swiss cheese situation—there’s holes everywhere.”

Dairy jokes aside, Morisy and Muckrock have decided to help journalists and other freedom of information champions navigate FOIA exemptions with a new project that will catalog every exemption cited by agencies in the United States, as well as ones that are hidden in a patchwork of FOI laws.

UK gov says new Home Sec will have powers to ban end-to-end encryption – During a committee stage debate in the UK’s House of Lords yesterday, the government revealed that the Investigatory Powers Bill will provide any Secretary of State with the ability to force communication service providers (CSPs) to remove or disable end-to-end encryption.

Earl Howe, a minister of state for defence and the British government’s deputy leader in the House of Lords, gave the first explicit admission that the new legislation would provide the government with the ability to force CSPs to “develop and maintain a technical capability to remove encryption that has been applied to communications or data”.

This power, if applied, would be imposed upon domestic CSPs by the new Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, who was formerly the secretary of state for energy and climate change. Rudd is now only the fifth woman to hold one of the great offices of state in the UK. As she was only appointed on Wednesday evening, she has yet to offer her thoughts on the matter.

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