Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday – July 8, 2016

Five reasons to upgrade to Windows 10;  Five reasons not to upgrade to Windows 10;  iOS 10 launches in public beta today;  What’s the best and worst browser for Windows 10?  What I learned playing prey to Windows scammers;  Five apps that suit all kinds of calendaring needs – and much more news you need to know.

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What I learned playing prey to Windows scammers – Three months of phone calls prove Windows scammers are more skilled at social engineering than you think.

Five reasons to upgrade to Windows 10 – With time running out for Windows 7 and 8 users to upgrade to Windows 10 for free, here are five arguments for making the jump.

Five reasons not to upgrade to Windows 10 – From privacy to compatibility and control, these are the reasons why you might want to give the upgrade to Windows 10 a miss.

Video: How to remove your Windows 10 password – Windows 10 wants you to enter your password all the time. You can remove your password, or reduce how often you have to enter one, but there are security risks to doing so.

What’s the best and worst browser for Windows 10? – Top browsers Chrome, Opera, Firefox, Edge, and Internet Explorer are pitted against each other to find out which is the best and worst browser for Windows 10.

Opera’s 4 standout features that make it competitive with Chrome, Edge, and Firefox – Small, scrappy Opera has always been a great browser, but with recent additions of ad-blocking, battery saving and more, it’s bidding for big-time market share.

Best media-streaming stick: Our favorite tools for transforming the boob tube into a full-fledged smart TV – Our in-depth buyers guide and hands-on reviews will help you choose between the current offerings from Roku, Amazon, and Google.


Five apps that suit all kinds of calendaring needs – From spare and simple to feature-rich, one of these calendar apps may offer the perfect level of convenience to help you stay organized.

iOS 10 launches in public beta today – If you’re eager to check out the next version of iOS 10, you’ll have a chance to do just that starting today. Apple is opening up its beta of iOS 10 to the public, letting anyone with an iPhone check it out (that likely means Apple Watch owners will be able to try out the beta of watchOS 3 as well). As always, this is beta software and may be buggy. So you may want to consider installing this on an older phone or a secondary device like an iPad, rather than the main phone you carry with you each and every day.

I won’t install the iOS 10 public beta: This is why – I know how temptation feels; most of us feel it too. The latest, must-have beta arrives – in this case, Apple’s iOS 10, several months before its full release this fall – and before you know it you’re hitting the download button and eagerly installing it onto your precious device. Before you get too carried away, though, stop: there is danger ahead.

Five security settings in iOS 10 you should immediately change – Apple’s latest operating system, iOS 10, is out — albeit in a limited, public preview. Anyone can download the software for iPhone and iPad to see what’s new. The software, officially due later this year, comes with some privacy improvements. Before you do anything like customizing your phone, loading new apps, or syncing your data for the first time, you should take a few steps to lock down your device and protect your privacy. Here are the important tweaks to get you started.

Five good resume apps for job seekers – Whether you’re a job search veteran or new to the game, the apps on this list will simplify the process of creating a resume that gets results.

BlackBerry promises it won’t ditch the physical keyboard – Those who still love BlackBerry tend to love it for one reason only: the physical keyboard. Kim Kardashian has a stockpile of them because of the keyboard. Companies have braved lawsuits to bring the keyboard to other phones. And yet, Blackberry struggles. The company recently announced the discontinuation of its BlackBerry Classic device, and with that announcement came fears that BlackBerry’s physical keyboard days are over.

Samsung’s new UFS memory cards store up to 256GB at crazy fast transfer speeds – Along with the storage bump (though, for the record, the company also showed off a 256GB microSD card back in May), the cards boast some crazy fast read and write times. Read speeds peak out around 530 megabytes per second, which put it at around five times the speed of high-end microSDs. According the company’s numbers, it can read a 5GB movie in 10 seconds, versus 50 seconds on the older format. Write speeds get a bump as well, doubling the top microSDs at around 170 MB/s.

Mozilla aims to combat the closed web by baking smart, open discovery into Firefox – Mozilla’s Context Graph wants to help you find content on the web based on previous user experiences and how one page on the web relates to the other.


Gmail password compromised? Here are 5 steps to help you secure your account and find the leaks – If your Gmail account credentials ever become public, here are five steps you can take to secure your account and make sure only the right people have access to your account.

Google fixes over 100 flaws in Android, many in chipset drivers – Google released a new batch of Android patches on Wednesday, fixing more than 100 flaws in Android’s own components and in chipset-specific drivers from different manufacturers. Android’s media server component, which handles the processing of video and audio streams and has been a source of many vulnerabilities in the past, is at the forefront of this security update. It accounts for 16 Android vulnerabilities, including seven critical flaws that can allow an attacker to execute code with higher privileges.

Wendy’s hack was bigger than thought and exposed credit card data – A data breach that hit Wendy’s fast food restaurants was more than three times bigger than originally disclosed and exposed customer credit card data. The company said Thursday that malware installed in point-of-sale systems was discovered at over 1,000 of its franchised U.S. restaurants — a big jump from the “fewer than 300 stores” it said in May had been affected. Hackers gained access to the machines using remote access credentials of a third-party service provider, Wendy’s said. The breach began in fall 2015 and wasn’t discovered until early this year. As part of its investigation, the company discovered a second malware variant had infected its systems.

Qualcomm says it issued patch for Android encryption flaw over a year ago – Cracking encryption is a topic of perpetual fascination. Congress has made several efforts to legislate it. The FBI tried to force Apple to do it. New messaging apps constantly debut with claims about strong encryption, and controversy bubbles when they neglect it. So when a researcher discovered a flaw in Android’s full disk encryption scheme last week that allowed for decryption of the device, it seemed at first like a revolutionary security discovery. But chipmaker Qualcomm now claims it told Google about the vulnerabilities in November 2014 and February 2015. Google issued patches in January and May of this year — meaning that the company may have known about the problem for over a year before rolling out fixes.

After hiatus, in-the-wild Mac backdoors are suddenly back – After taking a hiatus, Mac malware is suddenly back, with three newly discovered strains that have access to Web cameras, password keychains, and pretty much every other resource on an infected machine. The first one, dubbed Eleanor by researchers at antivirus provider Bitdefender, is hidden inside EasyDoc Converter, a malicious app that is, or at least was, available on a software download site called MacUpdate. When double clicked, EasyDoc silently installs a backdoor that provides remote access to a Mac’s file system and webcam, making it possible for attackers to download files, install new apps, and watch users who are in front of an infected machine. Eleanor communicates with control servers over the Tor anonymity service to prevent them from being taken down or being used to identify the attackers.

Code reuse exposes over 120 D-Link device models to hacking – A recently discovered vulnerability in a D-Link network camera that allows attackers to remotely take over the device also exists in more than 120 other D-Link products. The vulnerability was initially discovered a month ago by researchers from security start-up firm Senrio in D-Link DCS-930L, a Wi-Fi-enabled camera that can be controlled remotely through a smartphone app. The flaw, a stack overflow, is located in a firmware service called dcp, which listens to commands on port 5978. Attackers can trigger the overflow by sending specifically crafted commands and then can execute rogue code on the system.

Oops! Wearables can leak your PINs and passwords – The security nightmare posed by the Internet of Things isn’t just related to the lack of expertise in the types of companies adding connectivity to gizmos and gadgets. It’s the sensitivity of the connected sensors, strewn hither and thither, opening up potential attack vectors for determined hackers. Hence the need for really robust security thinking to lock down the risks. Collaborative research conducted by a team from the department of electrical and computing engineering at the Stevens Institute of Technology and Binghamton University in New York State, has demonstrated how a wearable device such as a smartwatch could end up compromising a user’s PIN number thanks to the motion sensing data it generates.

Google is working to safeguard Chrome from quantum computers – Google is working on safeguarding Chrome against the potential threat of quantum computers, the company announced today. It’s doing so by implementing post-quantum cryptography in an experimental version of the browser. While there exist hardware defenses against the vastly superior computing power of quantum machines, Google is using a new so-called post-quantum key-exchange algorithm. This software, called the New Hope algorithm, is enabled in Chrome Canary, a kind of testing ground for new browser technology, on only a small number of connections between the browser and Google servers. Although quantum computers of this variety are only small and experimental at this stage, Google is taking precautions for the worst case scenario.

Here’s how secret voice commands could hijack your smartphone – Kitten videos are harmless, right? Except when they take over your phone. Researchers have found something new to worry about on the internet. It turns out that a muffled voice hidden in an innocuous YouTube video could issue commands to a nearby smartphone without you even knowing it. The researchers describe the threat in a research paper to be presented next month at the USENIX Security Symposium in Austin, Texas.

Company News:

Avast acquires antivirus maker AVG for $1.3BN to gain scale and dive into IoT security – Security giant Avast has announced it intends to acquire fellow Czech-based antivirus software maker AVG for a purchase price of $25.00 per share in cash — resulting in a transaction that will total around $1.3 billion. Avast intends to finance the transaction using cash balances it holds, along with committed debt financing from third party lenders. The deal is aimed at gaining scale and geographical breadth, Avast said today. It also wants to build out its security offerings with an eye on emerging growth opportunities such as in the Internet of Things, as well as on serve existing customers with “more advanced” products.

IRS is investigating Facebook over its assets in Ireland – Facebook is being investigated by US tax authorities over whether the company has possibly undervalued its asset transfers to its Irish subsidiary by billions of dollars. first reported the news of the investigation. The investigation is part of an examination of Facebook’s federal income tax liability in 2010. According to, the IRS says that Facebook’s outside accountants valued the company’s various intangibles (such as its user base and online platform) as standalone assets during the transfer to Facebook’s Irish subsidiary, while Facebook employees value these as “interdependent.”

Walmart Pay rolling out in all stores nationwide – Well, that didn’t take long: just a few days after we hear that Walmart was increasing the number of its stores offering Walmart Pay by about 600, we get news from the massive retailer that Walmart Pay is now available across every one of its stores in the US. If you’re wondering, that means Walmart has increased this launch to include a grand total of around 4,600 stores.

Snapchat hit with class-action lawsuit over sexual content in Discover – Snapchat is facing a new lawsuit over claims that Snapchat Discover routinely serves sexually explicit content to minors without warning them or their parents. The lawsuit, which seeks class-action status, was filed by a 14-year-old boy and his mother in US district court this week in the central district of California. The plaintiffs filed their lawsuit after being offended by sexually explicit content in Snapchat Discover channels earlier this month, including a BuzzFeed feature named “23 Pictures That Are Too Real If You’ve Ever had Sex With A Penis.” (NSFW!)

Mozilla Could Cash Out If It Doesn’t Like Yahoo’s New Owner – If Mozilla doesn’t like the company that buys Yahoo, it can walk away from its search contract with Yahoo.

Games and Entertainment:

Battlefield 1’s alpha shows that 4K is within reach for high-end gaming – EA recently ran a closed alpha test of Battlefield 1, and allowed certain outlets access to the game in its unfinished form. So far, the response has been positive, and if you have access to a high-end gaming PC, this might just deliver the smooth 4K gaming experience you’ve been waiting for.


Resident Evil 4 for PS4 and Xbox One will release August 30 – In late February, Capcom announced that it would be releasing Resident Evil 4, 5, and 6 this year for the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4. All has been quiet since, up until today. The current-gen launch date for Resident Evil 4 has been announced: August 30. When that day roles around, fans will be able to get the title for their newest Xbox or PS4, though it won’t be remastered for the latest hardware. It will, however, include all of the game’s bonus content.


In an effort to find more players, Evolve is now free – After struggling for over a year to make Evolve work as a traditional, paid title, the developers at Turtle Rock are making a radical shift to a free-to-play model with Evolve: Stage 2. The game is entering beta today on the PC and possibly coming to consoles in the future. So far, Turtle Rock hasn’t announced how it plans to make money off the new, free version of Evolve. According to an extensive Turtle Rock interview with Game Informer, everything in the game will be unlockable via “silver keys” earned during play. As of now, those keys cannot be purchased for actual money.


Sling TV channel guide: All the programming, and all the restrictions, all in one chart – The streaming service has become more complicated post launch. Here’s how each of Sling TV’s new packages work.

Nvidia announces $249 GTX 1060 to take on AMD’s new mid-range king – AMD concluded the month of June by releasing the Radeon RX480 graphics card, which quickly shot up to the top of reviewers’ recommendation lists for GPUs around the vital $200 to $250 bracket. Seemingly ahead of schedule, Nvidia is rushing out word of its anticipated response, the GeForce GTX 1060, which trickles down some of that excellent GTX 1080 and 1070 performance to the more affordable tier.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Fatal shooting of police officers at Texas rally streamed live on Facebook – A shooting that left at least four police officers dead and seven others wounded Thursday night in downtown Dallas was live-streamed on Facebook, the latest use of the video-sharing feature amid increased violence involving law enforcement. The video, streamed by Michael Kevin Bautista, shows police officers crouched behind department cruisers as shots rang out at a demonstration in response to recent deadly police shootings across the country. The video, which has been viewed more than 1 million times, shows officers lying on the street beside their vehicles as shots continue to be fired.

Investigating Hillary Clinton: More than extreme carelessness, a willful and systemic disregard for required security practice – In light of the FBI’s pronouncement on Hillary Clinton’s email use, presidential email expert David Gewirtz examines recently released government documents that reveal Clinton’s pattern of negligence.

FBI chief says Guccifer lied about hacking into Clinton’s email server – A Romanian hacker’s claim that he broke into Hillary Clinton’s private email server back in 2013 is a lie, according to the FBI.

Get inside London’s Westminster Abbey on Google Street View – If you fancy a stroll through Westminster Abbey, but can’t afford a ticket to London, now you can open Google Street View instead. The centuries-old Gothic church, which has played host to royal wedding and funerals and the coronation of monarchs, was recently added to Google Street View, giving viewers a full tour of the rich interior and the history inside.


If you’re waiting for a self-driving car revolution, keep waiting – Not a week goes by, it seems, without some sort of development in the world regarding self-driving cars. Whether it’s Google going on a hiring spree as it attempts to accelerate its efforts or General Motors acquiring Cruise, a driverless-car startup, the subject consistently finds a place in any given news cycle. But if you‘re waiting for a self-driving car revolution, you better keep waiting. Sure, the technology is there, but there are plenty of legal and regulatory battles that will have to take place before consumers are being zipped around in autonomous cars.

Tackling systemic racism – Discussions around diversity and inclusion in the tech industry are not going away. Not on my watch. Earlier today, I sat down with Erica Baker, an engineer at Slack, and Ellen Pao, formerly of Reddit, to talk about their nonprofit organization for diversity, Project Include, as well as the systemic racism that exists in the United States. In the last couple of days, two black men have been murdered by police in the U.S., Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. Systemic racism, as outlined by these recent killings, are at the foundation of diversity and inclusion. So we can’t talk about diversity and inclusion in tech without talking about what’s going on with race in our society at large.

Feds asked to investigate live-streamed death of motorist killed by cop – Gov. Mark Dayton of Minnesota on Thursday asked the Department of Justice to investigate the killing of a black motorist shot by a white police officer. Philando Castile’s dying moments were live-streamed on Facebook, and the incident prompted a comment from President Barack Obama. Dayton said he wanted an “immediate independent federal investigation into this matter.” The governor suggested that racism was to blame for the killing of Castile, a 32-year-old school cafeteria manager, who was shot at least four times by a police officer after being pulled over for a broken taillight in Falcon Heights.

Something to think about:

“3 Dallas Cops killed. 7 wounded. This is now war. Watch out Obama. Watch out black lives matter punks. Real America is coming after you.”

–   Former Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh took to Twitter to apparently threaten the president.

“The images we’ve seen this week are graphic and heartbreaking, and they shine a light on the fear that millions of members of our community live with every day,”

–   Mark Zuckerberg

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Facebook ‘glitch’ that deleted the Philando Castile shooting vid: It was the police – sources – The deadly shooting of 32-year-old Philando Castile by a cop during a routine traffic stop in Minnesota on Wednesday just got murkier.

Multiple sources have told The Register that police removed video footage of Castile’s death from Facebook, potentially tampering with evidence.

Castile, his girlfriend Diamond Reynolds, and her four-year-old daughter were pulled over by police in the Falcon Heights suburb of Minneapolis for a broken tail light. Using her cellphone and Facebook Live, Reynolds web-streamed footage of her dying boyfriend after he was shot by a police officer as he reached for his ID in his wallet. The video was mysteriously removed from her Facebook profile as it went viral across the internet.

On Thursday, Facebook said a “technical glitch” caused the recording to be pulled from its social network. However, Reynolds claimed officers seized her phone and took over her Facebook account to delete the evidence.

Multiple sources with knowledge of the event have tonight confirmed to The Register that someone – highly suspected to be the city’s police – used her phone to remove her recording from public view shortly after the shooting.

That move prevented anyone from sharing and watching the vid, until the material was restored about an hour later with a graphic content warning. In the meantime, copies of the footage spread across Twitter and YouTube.

“They took my phone. They took over my Facebook. They took everything I had at the time,” said Reynolds in an emotional press conference after she was arrested by police.

“Everyone who shared my video, they don’t want you guys to be a part of this. They don’t want us to support each other. They’re going to tamper with evidence. This is not right, this is not acceptable. A police officer should not to be able to gun a man down for no reason.”

A spokesperson for the Falcon Heights police department was not available for comment.

Password Sharing Is a Federal Crime, Appeals Court Rules – One of the nation’s most powerful appeals courts ruled Wednesday that sharing passwords can be a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, a catch-all “hacking” law that has been widely used to prosecute behavior that bears no resemblance to hacking.

In this particular instance, the conviction of David Nosal, a former employee of Korn/Ferry International research firm, was upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, who said that Nosal’s use of a former coworker’s password to access one of the firm’s databases was an “unauthorized” use of a computer system under the CFAA.

The decision is a nightmare scenario for civil liberties groups, who say that such a broad interpretation of the CFAA means that millions of Americans are unwittingly violating federal law by sharing accounts on things like Netflix, HBO, Spotify, and Facebook. Stephen Reinhardt, the dissenting judge in the case, noted that the decision “threatens to criminalize all sorts of innocuous conduct engaged in daily by ordinary citizens.”



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2 responses to “Tech Thoughts Net News – Friday – July 8, 2016

  1. On the topic of Systemic Racism, I’d like to add the following:
    What a world this could be if people realized that color is only skin deep an none of us decide that color since it’s inherited.
    Ask any transplant recipient. I know my wife and I still thank God everyday for the gift of live she received 10 years ago. When her liver stopped functioning due to a genetic problem, it certainly made no difference that the donor wasn’t the same race.
    Stop looking at the world with blinder and open your eyes to the beauty that lies in everyone regardless of race, creed or any other differences between us. God, or what ever else you may call him, loves all of us equally.

    • Hello Bob,

      I’m so happy to hear you speak to this issue, my friend. My own thoughts follow yours precisely. Racism and exclusionary policies are an abomination.

      It’s been my experience that avowed racists are not only lacking in social graces – but, that they are intellectually inferior.

      On a more personal level, my son is married to a senior medical researcher who is by cultural extraction, of south Asian descent – quite a brilliant woman. And, it worries me somewhat that my grandchildren may be subject to racial taunts from the low-level characters who slither among the weeds.

      We must never retreat from the fight to ensure that the battle for racial equality continues – and, in fact, gains momentum.