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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Security:

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.

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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.

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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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