Tag Archives: antivirus software

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 9, 2015

Why You Should Never Sign a Cell Phone Contract Again;  How to keep your connected home safe;  The top security apps of the year;  The Best Smartphones and Tablets of MWC;  Is Chrome OS right for you? A 3-question quiz to find out;  3 cool things about Gmail 4.0 for iOS;  How to run more than web apps from a Chromebook;  8 On-Demand Weed Delivery Apps;  Vivaldi Is Quickly Becoming The Alternative Browser To Beat;  5 apps for managing your wine cellar;  Six factors for finding a new web hosting provider;  UK Readies 25% ‘Google Tax’ On Tech Giants’ Diverted Profits;  U.K. Police Arrest 57 in Cybercrime Crackdown;  Blizzard Launches ‘Heroes of the Dorm’ Tourney;  21 Crazy GoPro Stunt Videos You Must Watch;  Can We Guess Your Age By How You Use The Internet?  1600 Windows Icons – Metro Style (free).

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Inside the panopticon economy: The next internet revolution, privacy and you – Summary:The next evolution of the internet will embed sensors into nearly everything around us. Dealing with the privacy and security implications of that will be one of the biggest challenges of the next century.

Pointing up   I’ve been feeling sort of sliced, diced, sold and digested, this last while. Now I know why.    Sad smile

Why You Should Never Sign a Cell Phone Contract Again – Like rocket science and high school relationships, cell phone plans are complicated for a reason. Two-year contract or early-upgrade plan? Month-to-month or pay-as-you-go? Individual or shared data? Big carriers like AT&T and Verizon love it this way — they know most consumers won’t know a good plan from a bad one. When every choice is filled with exceptions, limitations and fine print, how can you even begin to compare your options? You’d be a fool to even try. Well, call us fools, because we sat down and did just that. In order to keep things straightforward, we made a few assumptions up front:

How to keep your connected home safe: 7 steps you can take to boost home security – The proliferation of smart devices, however, also opens the door to new dangers and threats. Even with something as simple as a smart light socket that you can control remotely with your phone, what makes that possible is the little computer in the switch that can talk to the Internet—which means that Internet users can talk back. What’s a homeowner to do? While it’s practically impossible to stop a determined professional hacker, there are steps you can take to at least make their task more difficult, and to discourage the simpler attacks. Think of these seven steps as the connected home equivalent of putting locks on your windows or stopping your newspaper delivery while you’re on vacation.

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Independent labs have announced their awards for the top security apps of the year – What’s the best antivirus software, and how can you tell? When we review security software at Download.com, we do hands-on testing, looking at everything from user-friendliness to virus eradication, but we also look at test results from independent institutes like AV-Test and AV-Comparatives. These labs do not produce their own antivirus software and perform rigorous, objective tests on security suites from all major manufacturers. Here are the consumer security apps that recently won the labs’ seal of approval:

The Best Smartphones and Tablets of MWC – Barcelona is the mobile tech capital of the world, and Mobile World Congress has far surpassed CES as the preeminent venue for all the greatest mobile device releases. If there’s a new smartphone or tablet out there, it’s here on the show floor. We’ve been scouring the halls of the Fira Gran Via convention center, sifting through endless booths filled with studs and duds of the mobile world to bring you the cream of the crop.

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Driver was on Facebook before crash that killed three, say cops – A Wisconsin woman’s phone is recovered months after a crash in which her daughter and two nieces, whom she was driving, were killed. She is being charged with homicide.

3 cool things about Gmail 4.0 for iOS – For any Gmail user who owns an iPhone or iPad, there’s a decision to be made: Use Apple’s stock Mail app, or switch to Google’s Gmail app? If you’ve been on the fence, this may swing the pendulum toward the latter: Gmail 4.0 for iOS brings three welcome new features to iPhones and iPads, most of them designed to help you work faster.

Is Chrome OS right for you? A 3-question quiz to find out – Google’s Chrome OS is one of the world’s most misunderstood computing platforms. Chromebooks are foundationally different from traditional PCs, after all — and consequently, there are a lot of misconceptions about how they work and what they can and cannot do. Whether it’s you or someone you know who’s curious, the following three questions should help shed some light on what the platform’s all about and for whom it makes sense.

How to run more than web apps from a Chromebook – If you use a Chromebook, you may still want to use software built for another operating system, such as Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux. Good news: you can, but you may need additional hardware — or a subscription to a service — to do so. Here are a few options.

Apple Watch apps designed to be used for a few seconds at a time, report says – App-makers are hard at work building apps for the Apple Watch in top-secret conditions that would make Maxwell Smart jealous, according to a new report. Behind those closed doors, Apple is offering guidelines on how Watch apps should work and suggesting that wearers will use the app for less than ten seconds at a time. According to sources speaking to Bloomberg, sample Watches are made available to developers in locked rooms with no Internet access at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California. Code created by the developers isn’t allowed to leave Apple.

Pinterest Releases First Year-Long Transparency Report – As you might expect, the U.S. government doesn’t care all that much about your pinned content. Or, to frame it another way, there just doesn’t seem to be all that much on Pinterest that necessitates investigation by U.S. law enforcement agencies. Pinterest has officially released its first-ever (full-year) transparency report, and the service just didn’t receive that that many legal requests throughout 2014. In total, it receive 39 requests from agencies within the United States, and a whopping two requests from international agencies (one Canadian and one Australian).

GNOME 2 is back: Ubuntu MATE is now an official flavor – Ubuntu MATE is now an official flavor of Ubuntu. Yes, that means Ubuntu is giving a stamp of endorsement to GNOME 2 once again. You don’t need to switch to Linux Mint—just install the Ubuntu MATE disc and get a desktop that works like it did before Ubuntu’s Unity and the GNOME Shell came along.

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Pandora reveals ad-free day pass coming soon – When it comes to online music streaming service Pandora, there are two ways to listen: the typical ad-supported option which is free, and a paid subscription plan called Pandora One, which costs users $4.99 per month. But what about those times when you want to play some music for an extended period without the annoying ads, yet paying for a full month is just too much? At a recent investor day, the company revealed a new day pass option, said to be coming later this year, that aims to serve just such a user scenario.

The Evolution Of The Browser – The browser wars have always been cyclical, moving from periods of monoculture dominated by one or two browsers to periods of comparative competition characterized by multiple, strong, second-tier browsers and a growing list of niche browsers.  While Spartan and Vivaldi are the most widely written about new browsers, many additional, niche browsers have recently launched or are under development, including Torch (BitTorrent) Epic (privacy), Nitro (speed) and Slim (fast startup) and Lightspeed (minimalist, search-oriented). Then, there are the many browsers with large followings in China — 360 Safe for PC, Baidu, Sougou, UC Web and Cheetah.

Vivaldi Is Quickly Becoming The Alternative Browser To Beat – Opera’s former CEO Jón von Tetzchner launched the first preview of its new Chromium-based Vivaldi browser in January. Now in its second technical preview, which adds a boatload of new features, the browser is quickly shaping up to be a worthwhile alternative to Chrome, Firefox, Safari and IE — and especially for former Opera users.

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An incredibly shrinking Firefox faces endangered species status – Just two weeks after Mozilla’s top Firefox executive said that rumors of its demise were “dead wrong,” the iconic browser dropped another three-tenths of a percentage point in analytics firm Net Applications’ tracking, ending February with 11.6%. That was Firefox’s lowest share since July 2006, when the browser had been in the market for less than two years.

Pocket vino: We review 5 apps for managing your wine cellar – Numerous wine cellar management apps are now available, but this is a market that’s still emerging and in flux. Growing pains abound, and many of these apps are still finding their feet. In fact, some of the veterans in this space have yet to build a reliable, worthwhile app for what ought to be a pretty simple task. Which app should you trust with managing some of your most prized possessions? We put five of the most noteworthy wine cellar management apps to the test to separate the gems from the plonk.

8 On-Demand Weed Delivery Apps – The fast-growing pot industry not only raked in $2.7 billion in sales this last year, it’s also produced quite a few ganja-based startups. It’s legal to light up a bowl for recreation or medical reasons in 23 of these 50 United States now and soon as there’s a growing industry, there are technological innovations to support it. We’ve counted at least 8 on-demand delivery apps out there that will bring medicinal grade weed varietals right to your door.

Photos: 10 must-have accessories for your 3D printer – If you have a desktop 3D printer, you need some accessories to keep it updated and working properly. Here are 10 things to keep in your toolkit.

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Six factors for finding a new web hosting provider – Small business owners are often completely in the dark when it comes to choosing a hosting provider. This is a major decision for your business, so make sure to consider every option before making the call. Start by taking a hard look at these six key areas:

Security:

Xiaomi Mi 4 malware accusation prompts security controversy – Earlier this week, Bluebox, a data security company, released a findings report on their tests of the Xiaomi Mi 4 smartphone. Unfortunately for Xiaomi, their results were far from stellar. Not only did the security firm find malicious malware installed on the device, but some of it was even disguised to appear as Google apps. Even worse, they believe an unknown third party tampered with the Android-powered smartphone. Read on for more details about what they found, as well as Xiaomi’s official response to the report. Xiaomi has contacted SlashGear with an official statement, confirming an investigation is underway and suggesting that Bluebox was sold a counterfeit phone. In addition to publishing Xiaomi’s comment in full, below, we have updated our title to reflect the ongoing development of this story.

Ask.com Crapware Added to Mac OS X Java Installations – Spoiler: Don’t just blindly click through prompts when installing Java. While the integration of Ask.com software into the Java installation program might not rise to the level of, say, a Lenovo Superfish incident, it’s still unfortunate to see Oracle doubling down on adware. For more, see How to Remove the Ask.com Toolbar From Your Browser.

Silent Circle: We haven’t been served a single demand for data – The maker of encrypted phone and messaging products was caught in a mini-storm Saturday when reports suggested its warrant canary, a tool designed to alert the receipt of a warrant that comes with a gag order, was missing an explicit declaration that it had not been compromised by a government data demand.

Three foreigners charged with massive email breach in US – There is that saying about the long arm of the law and the places that it reaches. Considering how this latest cyber crime case practically covers three countries both near and far from the US, that might very well be applicable here. Several agencies of the US government made a joint announcement revealing some of the details that concerns two Vietnamese nationals and one Canadian who have been involved in one of the most massive case of email hacking and spam in the history of the US.

U.K. Police Arrest 57 in Cybercrime Crackdown – The U.K’s National Crime Agency on Friday announced it has arrested 57 suspected hackers as part of a cybercrime crackdown dubbed “strike week.” Working with partners in law enforcement, industry, and government, the agency carried out 25 separate operations across England, Scotland, and Wales. The suspects are charged with crimes such as breaking into the networks of multinational corporations and government agencies to steal data, launching distributed denial of service attacks, and developing and distributing computer viruses and other malicious software.

Company News:

UK Readies 25% ‘Google Tax’ On Tech Giants’ Diverted Profits – In the lead up to the UK’s national election in May, big tech companies are finding themselves in the crossfire. An article in the Sunday Times (paywalled) lays out more details around UK Chancellor George Osborne’s proposal for a “Google Tax” — a 25% tax on big tech companies’ profits from UK operations that, through creative accounting, have been diverted offshore, saving these businesses millions in tax bills. The tax will be included in the UK Budget, due to be published later this month. The “Google Tax” of 25% will be higher than the usual 20% corporate tax levied in the UK, and it is expected to be applied only to companies whose annual revenues are more than £250 million ($376 million).

Samsung has received more than 20 million pre-orders for its latest flagship devices – A top executive at a leading mobile carrier in Europe says that Samsung has received 20 million pre-orders for its Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge which is far better than the previous Galaxy models.

VMware alleged to have violated Linux’s open source license for years – Linux kernel developer Christoph Hellwig filed the suit in the district court of Hamburg, Germany with funding from the nonprofit Software Freedom Conservancy, which works to “promote, improve, develop, and defend” free and open source software. The case centers on “a combined work that VMware allegedly created by combining their own code (‘vmkernel’) with portions of Linux’s code, which was licensed only under GPLv2,” the group said in an FAQ describing the lawsuit.

Google is developing a virtual reality version of Android, report says – A team of engineers at Google is building a version of Android for virtual reality applications, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday, citing two people familiar with the project. “Tens of engineers” and other staff are said to be working on the project. The OS would be freely distributed, the report said, mirroring the strategy that made Android the most popular OS for smartphones. The report didn’t provide any launch plans, and Google didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Photobucket Raises $3.6 Million, Plans To Acquire A Mobile Photo-Sharing App – Denver-based Photobucket, one of the web’s older brands which offers a photo and video-sharing service online and on mobile, has closed on $3.6 million in new funding, an SEC filing reveals and the company confirms. The additional capital is part of a larger, still-in-progress round, which sees the photo sharing service seeking around $8.1 million in new funding.

Games and Entertainment:

Blizzard Launches ‘Heroes of the Dorm’ Tourney – Want to win free college tuition? Get out your game controller. Blizzard on Friday announced a new Heroes of the Storm tournament for college students with more than $450,000 in tuition and prizes up for grabs. The so-called “Heroes of the Dorm” tourney is open to active college students in the U.S. and Canada and will have three rounds of competition. Open qualifiers begin March 28, followed by a single-elimination bracket featuring 64 teams that starts on April 11. The event concludes with a final “Heroic Four” live event in late April. The final rounds of the tourney will be televised live on ESPN.

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5 Interesting Indie Games at PAX East – Titles like Banner Saga, Gone Home, and Rogue Legacy represent relatively small games that provide big entertainment for a fraction of the price of mainstream, juggernaut titles—you can purchase an acclaimed indie for roughly $15. That’s a wonderful thing in this era of the troubled AAA game, a time when $60 titles ship to stores littered with bugs that require massive Day 1 patches. Indie games, free from large publishers’ vice-like grip, often dare to be different. While AAA titles typically feature shooting, shooting, and more shooting, indie games come in a variety of flavors. And PAX East is full of them.

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An example: Gathering Sky (Android, iOS, PC) – Gathering Sky has the potential to be 2015’s Journey. You guide a single bird through the sky as you explore the game world and find other birds to join you. The goal? Fly through beautiful environments and create an expressive story without words. You can expect to see Gathering Sky in digital marketplaces in mid-April.

PS4 software version 2.50 to include button remapping, rest mode enhancements – It’s a been a while since Sony has released an update to the PlayStation 4’s software that really added any new features to the console. But it appears that will change soon, as version 2.50 seems to be in the works, with members of the PlayStation MVP program getting invites to beta test the software update. Invites are said to come via message from the PlayStation Network through March 9th, while the following info about new features comes from those who’ve already downloaded the beta.

Feelreal Brings Real Scents, Heat, and Water to Virtual Reality – The Feelreal headset isn’t its own virtual reality device. Rather, it straps on to an existing headset like the Oculus Rift, the Samsung Gear VR, or Sony’s Morpheus headset (to name a few). The sensation is unique, to put it mildly. To its credit, Feelreal’s headset does a decent job of recreating sensations using a variety of techniques: Odors blasted toward your nose, hot air sent across your face, and a gentle water misting dripped onto your cheeks. Nevertheless, the experience didn’t quite thrill Robertson, who summed up his trip through a virtual reality rainforest, waterfall, and fire as “pure, unfettered fear.”

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Mantle is a Vulkan: AMD’s dead graphics API rises from the ashes in OpenGL’s successor – Obi Wan said it best: ‘If you strike me down, I’ll become far more powerful than you’ll ever imagine.’ That’s happened with AMD’s API Mantle which died at 1.0 but has risen as the new Vulkan API.

Off Topic (Sort of):

21 Crazy GoPro Stunt Videos You Must Watch – Illegal shenanigans aside, it turns out that there’s a bountiful library of GoPro-enabled videos that will allow those of us with a healthy amount of respect for our physical well-beings to live vicariously through those who don’t. We don’t recommend that you try any of these activities yourself, but we do recommend that you watch as others narrowly avoid catastrophe!

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Can We Guess Your Age By How You Use The Internet?

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Pointing up    The test tells me that I’m 29 years old – off by 30 years. Looks like tech is keeping me young (younger, youngish?)   Smile

The Ambassador who worked from Nairobi bathroom to avoid State Dept. IT – The current scandal roiling over the use of a private e-mail server by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is just the latest in a series of scandals surrounding government e-mails. And it’s not the first public airing of problems with the State Department’s IT operations—and executives’ efforts to bypass or work around them. At least she didn’t set up an office in a restroom just to bypass State Department network restrictions and do everything over Gmail. However, another Obama administration appointee—the former ambassador to Kenya—did do that, essentially refusing to use any of the Nairobi embassy’s internal IT. He worked out of a bathroom because it was the only place in the embassy where he could use an unsecured network and his personal computer, using Gmail to conduct official business. And he did all this during a time when Chinese hackers were penetrating the personal Gmail inboxes of a number of US diplomats.

Goodyear’s new concept tires can help power your electric car – The tire is called the BH03, and it looks like the craziest tire you’ve ever seen. Goodyear plans to collect heat into the tire in a number of ways. The first is perhaps the simplest: black patches on the tire’s surface will absorb heat from the Sun — especially when you leave your car in a hot parking lot. The tire will also heat up from the effects of friction as you drive down the road. The heat generated from the tire as it flexes will also be collected..

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‘Climate change’ and ‘global warming’ reportedly banned under Florida governor – Officials working in Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection were banned from using the words “climate change,” “global warming,” and “sea-level rise” under Republican state governor Rick Scott, according to a new report by the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting. Kristina Trotta, a former DEP employee, said that her regional administrator told her and her colleagues that they were no longer allowed to use the terms in 2011. Officials were reportedly told that sea-level rise was to be euphemistically referred to as “nuisance flooding.” Spokespeople for the DEP and the governor’s office said that there was no policy on the use of the terms, but four former officials told the FCIR that the unwritten order was well known and distributed verbally statewide.

Superhydrophobic paint resists scratches from sandpaper, knives – Superhydrophobic surfaces are common and very hard-wearing in nature, but man-made versions, while available, don’t last very long and easily break down when exposed to oils. That is, until now. A team of scientists at the University College London and Dalian University of Technology (China) have collaborated to create a very tough new superhydrophobic paint, capable of withstanding scratching with sandpaper or a knife blade. As this coating is able to withstand the elements, scuffs, and scrapes, it has applications in a very wide range of industries. Imagine having a car that no longer gets wet, or windows that never need to be cleaned and remain perfectly clear after a downpour. There’s even a use for it on the smartphones and tablets we all rub our fingers over every day. The research team also has high hopes for making antimicrobial surfaces for use in hospitals.

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You have the right to bear arms, not “electrical” arms, court declares – Massachusetts’ ban on the private possession of stun guns—an “electrical weapon” under the statute—does not violate the Second Amendment right to bear arms, the state’s top court has ruled. The decision says (PDF) that the US Constitution’s framers never envisioned the modern stun-gun device, first patented in 1972. The top court said stun guns are not suitable for military use, and that it did not matter whether state lawmakers have approved the possession of handguns outside the home.

Pointing up    The boundless enthusiasm for high-hurdling logic in this decision is (now, I’m carefully choosing my words here) – CRAZY!

Drinking Poison Control Medicine Is the Newest Bougie Health Fad – Juice companies and wellness blogs are suddenly lauding activated charcoal as a cure-all “detoxifier,” but you may want to think twice before forking over $10 for “activated lemonade.”

Something to think about:

“A book is a version of the world. If you do not like it, ignore it; or offer your own version in return.”

–       Salman Rushdie

Today’s Free Downloads:

1600 Windows Icons (Metro Style) – 1600 Windows Icons (Metro Style) is a free collection of icons in Windows 8’s Metro style that you can use to update older versions of Windows or add variety to Windows 8. The icons are in PNG format and must be unzipped and converted to ICO files for Windows.

Pros

Metro style: Windows 8’s cool Metro design language takes its name and stylistic cues from the iconic typography of Swiss public signs that many people appreciate.

Lots and lots: Any way you count them, 1,600 is a lot of icons, especially for free.

Wide variety: While system icons predominate, we saw a lot of unique and much-needed themes, such as Christmas, Halloween, and Phones — even “Star Trek” and “Dr. Who.”

Cons

Conversion required: You must convert 1600 Windows Icons’ PNG files to icon (ICO) files for most Windows uses. Freeware and online converters are easy to use, but you might find the extra step more taxing than a few icons are worth.

One by one: It’s not difficult to change Windows icons, but it might take you a while to change them one by one, especially with so many to choose from in 1600 Windows Icons’ collection.

Bottom Line

The clean, well-rendered Metro style is particularly suitable for computer interfaces. Despite the steps involved, we think 1600 Windows Icons’ stylish replacements are worth the time and effort it takes to unpack and install them.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

UK Supreme Court waves through indiscriminate police surveillance – A Supreme Court decision handed down on Wednesday has given carte blanche to police forces to retain personal data they have collected for virtually any purpose and hold it as long as they like – even when the people targeted are not violent and have committed no crime.

New Zealand PM refuses to rule out mass surveillance – New Zealand’s prime minister has refused to rule out the possibility that the country’s electronic spy agency conducts mass surveillance, while suggesting that New Zealanders are not legally entitled to be told when their communications data is collected.

Who’s who in Australia’s mandatory data-retention debate – Summary: There are a lot of players in the mandatory data-retention debate. We look at who is for the legislation, and who is opposing it.

Schneier on Security: Data and Goliath’s Big Idea – Data and Goliath is a book about surveillance, both government and corporate. It’s an exploration in three parts: what’s happening, why it matters, and what to do about it. This is a big and important issue, and one that I’ve been working on for decades now. We’ve been on a headlong path of more and more surveillance, fueled by fear­–of terrorism mostly­–on the government side, and convenience on the corporate side. My goal was to step back and say “wait a minute; does any of this make sense?” I’m proud of the book, and hope it will contribute to the debate. But there’s a big idea here too, and that’s the balance between group interest and self-interest.

The CIA will reorganize to increase its focus on cybersecurity – The CIA is planning one of the largest reorganizations in the agency’s history, The Washington Post reports. CIA director John Brennan unveiled the plans in a press briefing today, saying the agency will focus more on cybersecurity issues and digital espionage. In addition to undergoing a massive structural overhaul, the CIA will create a new “Directorate of Digital Innovation” to track advances and threats in cyberspace.

Australia to prosecute Heartbleed pentest in desperation to pin charges on Anonymous radio host – Arrested 10 months ago by Australian Federal Police, Anonymous radio host LoraxLive (Adam Bennett) faces a prosecution struggling to pin charges on him.

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Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – December 18, 2014

The Best Free Antivirus for 2015;  Why You Need Antivirus Software;  How to get the most free online storage;  Five mobile apps to help you run down key info;  Five tips for managing your money with Mint.com;  Hands-on with the free Mailbox and Carousel apps;  Facebook Groups testing ‘Sell Something’ button;  Snopes debunks Elf on the Shelf as NSA spy;  Professor: Elf teaches kids spying is OK;  Up close with the BlackBerry Classic;  How to sell your unwanted gift cards;  Smartphone comparison chart could help you find your next phone;  Amazon employees strike in Germany;  Fixing Assassin’s Creed: Unity requires a 6.7GB patch;  Bing predicts the trends for 2015.

Why You Need Antivirus Software – These days, “antivirus” is just a word for a tool that protects your data and your PC against viruses, Trojans, botnets, rootkits, rogue security software, ransomware, and all types of malicious software. Actual viruses are the least of your worries, since they lay low to avoid detection. “But I only use my PC to surf the Web,” you may say. “I don’t keep any personal information on it. Who cares if a virus or some bad program goes along for the ride?” Well, it’s not as simple as that.

The Best Free Antivirus for 2015 – Going without antivirus protection isn’t an option. Even if you don’t care about your own computer, leaving it unprotected could let cyber-crooks turn it into a zombie minion and force it to participate in DDoS attacks. If you have any computers without antivirus software, you need to install protection. Right now. Don’t worry; it doesn’t have to cost you a penny.

How to get the most free online storage – With the market for cloud storage services starting to get crowded, we take a look at how to get as much storage from the different providers as possible.

Five mobile apps to help you run down key info – One thing that’s boosted the popularity of smartphones and tablets is the way they put information at your fingertips right when you need it. Yes, you can find almost anything you’re looking for by using a Web browser and a little patience. But a number of reference apps can make it easier to track down all sorts types of information. Here are five apps I’ve found to be particularly useful.

Google Drive gets Gmail attachment capabilities, Open Doc Format support, and more – For two years you’ve been able to share links to Drive documents with just one-click. Now, you can send actual attachments. Drive for Android, meanwhile, is getting Google Now integration, which lets you use an “Ok Google” voice command to search for Drive documents. And users of iPhone and iPads are getting the ability to upload content from other apps on their device.

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Dropbox users, try these: Hands-on with the free Mailbox and Carousel apps – Dropbox does more than stash stuff now. The email and photo-sharing apps are bonus features well worth exploring.

Five tips for managing your money with Mint.com – It’s around this time of year — after more-than-intended gift spends and holiday travels — that bank statements get a brow-raise. Mint.com, a free personal finance site, is one of the most popular choices for budgeting and record-keeping, thanks to its clean interface and long-standing reputation. Whether you’re new to the service out want to get more out of it, here are some best practices.

TeachPitch Helps Educators Around The World Share Learning Resources – Creating lesson plans, learning about teaching methods, and finding new educational material are all part of a normal workday for teachers, but it can be difficult because most educators have extremely tight schedules. TeachPitch.com wants to help by bringing teachers around the world closer together so they can find and share the best resources on the web. The site, which launched officially in October, now has around 2,000 teachers from 55 countries on its platform, most from the U.S. and Asia.

Facebook Groups testing ‘Sell Something’ button – Facebook Groups is a strange (but cool) little app. You can exist within your own group, or join a new one blindly based on a common interest.. A new feature might hint at why Facebook created Groups, though, or at least something they had in mind when launching it. A “Sell Something” button has popped up next to the “Write Post” button for some users, which brings up a very Craigslist-like posting window. Users can add a picture of the item they’re trying to unload, along with pickup or delivery options.

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Microsoft’s Xim app now shares photos to Apple TV, Chromecast, and Xbox One – Xim is Microsoft’s take on photo sharing and slideshows. A group Xim allows up to 50 photos to be shared between friends via their mobile number or email address, and Microsoft creates non-permanent cloud-based groups that are viewable in a browser and are synchronized across all users that are invited to a particular Xim. While there are a number of photo sharing services available, Microsoft’s Xim is shaping up to be a simple and unique cross-platform app that the company is clearly invested in. It joins a number of other apps that Microsoft has developed for iOS and Android recently.

Windows 10 Tech Preview: 1300 bugs fixed, 1.5 million registered Insiders – In a blog posting made today by a Microsoft employee, Gabe Aul reveals improvements to Windows 10, along with usage statistics that show a lot of promise for the platform.

Snopes debunks Elf on the Shelf as NSA spy; Professor: Elf teaches kids spying is OK – Even as Snopes debunked the claim that Elf on the Shelf is spying for the NSA, a digital technology professor claimed the elf is changing children’s expectation of privacy; it’s teaching kids that it is “cool for the NSA to watch them, to report back to the government.”

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This smartphone comparison chart could help you find your next phone – So you need a new phone, but there are probably a zillion options out there with different screen sizes, memory configurations, and prices. It can be kind of overwhelming, right? There’s a neat tool you can use to help narrow down the search. The Gnod smartphone comparison chart lets you filter phones by size, price, resolution, and more. Then it slaps all the matching phones on a handy scatter plot.

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Up close with the BlackBerry Classic – BlackBerry is returning to its roots. Today the company announced the release of the BlackBerry Classic, its latest smartphone with a full QWERTY physical keyboard and an optical trackpad, bringing back the best thing about the company that once dominated the smartphone market. The Classic isn’t for everyone, and with a $449 price tag, it won’t be cheap to pick up either. But for those who miss tapping on the physical keyboard made famous by BlackBerry in the mid 2000s, it doesn’t get much better than this.

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MPAA wants DNS filtering even if it breaks the Internet – In a Sony leaked document, MPAA lawyers discussed using the Domain Name System (DNS) to block traffic to websites which hosts illicit or pirated content. MPAA wants to be able to delete records from the DNS which would make a website completely unreachable via its domain. The tactic was first proposed as part of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in 2011, however, the law failed to pass Congress due to a worldwide backlash.

How to sell your unwanted gift cards – Did you know you can sell or trade your unwanted gift cards? Most people don’t even know such an option is possible, when in fact it is, and can come in really handy around the holiday season when almost everyone gets at least one gift card. Below you will find a rundown of a few Web sites that facilitate the buying and selling of unwanted gift cards as well as an ingenious way of dealing with those Visa/Amex gift cards.

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How to use your dSLR as a PC webcam – Maybe your webcam is broken. Or maybe, you just want to try something fun with your dSLR. Here’s how to turn your dSLR into a webcam for PC. First, you will need to check that your camera is compatible with the software for this tutorial. It’s called SparkoCam, and works with most Canon and Nikon dSLRs. Check the list at the bottom of this page for your particular model.

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Priest jams cell phones in church – Fed up with his services being disrupted by technology, an Italian priest installs a jamming device. As the Daily Mail reports, phones even went off during funerals. So, instead of merely praying for a pestilence to descend upon these disrespectful phone-obsessives, Father Madonna found a technological solution. He bought a jammer, which reportedly cost him around $60. Peace and love now reign in his pews.

Security:

Everything We Know About Sony, The Interview and North Korea – Sony Pictures Entertainment said late Wednesday that it’s pulling The Interview, a comedy about two journalists tasked with killing North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un. Sony’s move came a day after a cryptic message appeared online threatening attacks against theaters that played the film, and several weeks after hackers first breached Sony’s system and posted troves of private emails and other data online. Shortly after Sony decided to scrub The Interview, a U.S. official confirmed to TIME that American intelligence officials have determined North Korea was behind the Sony hack, though no evidence has been disclosed. Here’s everything we know for sure about the Sony hack, up until now.

Google Hangouts: Too smart for privacy? – “Google’s Hangouts is gaining a handy, but slightly creepy new feature today. The popular chat app will now act as a digital spy-slash-valet by eavesdropping on your conversations to offer ‘smart suggestions.’ For instance, if a pal asks ‘where are you?’ it’ll immediately prompt you to share your location, then open a map so you can pin it precisely.” It’s sad that this sort of thing still gets meekly labeled as “creepy”. The privacy implications are serious and pretty easy to see in objective terms.

Business interrupted: Telstra reveals Australia’s security breach impact – Nearly a quarter of Australian organisations have suffered an interruption to their business due to an IT security attack or breach over the past 12 months, according to new research by Telstra.

TorrentLocker ransom rampage encrypts 285 million files and counting – Slovakian security wizards ESET have delved deep into the guts of the TorrentLocker ransom malware and pulled out some interesting details of its destructive life story starting with the number of files it has encrypted—a misery-inducing 285 million to date. Although TorrentLocker is nowhere near the scale of the infamous CryptoLocker, and will likely never acquire the latter’s notoriety, that sort of file scrambling still adds up to 39,670 infected PCs by ESET’s calculation.

Forensic software gets around Apple’s iCloud security features – A Russian software company has updated its forensic software to work-around the security features Apple recently added to iCloud and increased what information can be extracted from the cloud storage service. The catch to using the software, which pulls files including photos, calendar information and call logs from iCloud, is that some information about the account is required to access the storage service, according to information on the company’s website. Either an Apple ID, password and the second form of authentication or a binary authentication token are needed to use Phone Breaker.

Company News:

FCC expected to fine Sprint $105 million for overcharging customers – The Federal Communications Commission is reportedly on the verge of fining Sprint $105 million for cramming charges that brought complaints from tens of thousands of customers. The $105 million fine would match one levied on AT&T, which was accused of the same illegal practice. The US government has also sued T-Mobile over cramming charges.

Netflix shuts the door on offline playback: ‘It’s never going to happen’ – The position makes perfect business sense. Consumers have plenty of other options for downloading movies and TV shows to watch when they’re away from an internet connection. There’s iTunes. There’s Google Play. There’s Vudu / UltraViolet. And Amazon lets Kindle Fire tablet owners download some Prime Instant Video content for offline viewing as well. Adding offline support could further muddy Netflix’s already-complex licensing deals and introduce potential new headaches for subscribers.

Uber says they’ll invest in better background checks – Fun fact: Uber drivers don’t pass a rigorous background check before picking you up and (hopefully) dropping you off at your desired location. Seems a bit off that Uber doesn’t thoroughly vet their drivers, right? The company is pretty fastidious about what car you have and your driving record, but as for what crimes you might have been convicted of in the past — they’re not so worried. In China, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said his company would start checking the background of those working for his service in an attempt to better protect passengers.

Amazon employees strike in Germany – Amazon employees at German warehouses have gone on strike over better pay and conditions until at least December 20, but the company has promised it will deliver Christmas orders on time. In the long-running dispute which started in May 2013, the union has demanded that Amazon pay the same wages as employees in the mail order and retail industries. Amazon rejected the demands, saying it regards warehouse employees as logistics workers who receive above-average pay.

Oracle posts stronger-than-expected Q2 earnings, revenue results – Oracle’s last quarterly earnings announcement dropped with news of the biggest leadership shuffle in the company’s history. This quarter, things aren’t quite as dramatic down in Redwood City, Calif., but the pressure was still on given Oracle has missed revenue targets five out of the last six quarters. Not so this time.

Games and Entertainment:

Fixing Assassin’s Creed: Unity requires a 6.7GB patch – As for what the patch does, it’s a bit of everything to try and get Unity to the state it should have originally shipped in. The reason for the large size is because Ubisoft has had to replace large sections of Paris to resolve performance issues. Once applied, players can expect many of the navigation, world collision, HUD, framerate, save games, NPC behavior, and lock picking issues to be fixed. There should be a noticeable improvement in overall game performance, and a much improved online multiplayer experience. The full patch notes have all the details.

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Dish becomes first big US TV provider to offer Netflix through your set-top box – Dish Network customers who are tired of switching inputs on their TV to move between satellite TV and online streaming will be happy to hear they can now sign into their Netflix accounts right from their Hopper set-top box. This makes Dish the first pay-TV provider in the U.S. to provide Netflix streaming through its DVR. Netflix service won’t come for free, of course; Dish subscribers will still need a Netflix subscription.

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Microsoft’s 12 Days of Deals soldiers on with a 4GB Xbox 360 and free game for $149.99 – While today’s deal is different to that which was leaked last week for this day, it’s still quite a steal, offering both a discount on the Xbox 360 as well as a free game, while stocks last.

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Cities: Skylines is more like SimCity than SimCity – It’s an ambitious title, for sure. I’d go so far as to say it’s the SimCity I thought I was getting from EA. It’s not as pretty, but I’ll trade a tilt-shift effect for a deeper simulation any day. And as a bonus: The game will have Steam Workshop support, and Colossal Order really means it. You’ll be able to model your own buildings and all sorts of other wild things, so if you really want to make that one-to-one scale replica of Manhattan? Well, you could. That’s the opposite tack from EA’s DLC-heavy approach to SimCity.

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Controversial shooter Hatred reinstated on Steam Greenlight – Just over a day after it was taken down from Steam Greenlight, Hatred reappeared on the fan-voting section of Steam late Tuesday night. Valve has yet to publicly comment on the reversal, but Destructive Creations’ Facebook page includes a screenshot of an e-mail purportedly from Valve cofounder Gabe Newell, ostensibly apologizing for the mistaken removal. Hatred, from unknown Polish developer Destructive Creations, was first announced back in October. Its trailer seemed to revel in the massacre of civilians with a kind of gruesome glee. The video drew comparisons to ultra-violent game franchises like Postal and Manhunt for its apparently amoral focus on gunning down innocent bystanders in violent detail.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Bing predicts the trends for 2015 – The Bing team has done a wonderful job in 2014 predicting FIFA World cup match results and the US midterm elections with an almost unblemished record, correctly predicting that Scotland will remain a part of the United Kingdom and is also currently being used to speculate the outcomes of NFL games. Now the team is pushing its luck a bit more by envisioning the trends of 2015:

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Judge keeps Steve Jobs video testimony from public release – A California judge has denied a request from a trio of media outlets to make video deposition of late Apple CEO Steve Jobs available to the public. The request was filed by the Associated Press, Bloomberg, and CNN during this month’s trial over security measures Apple added to iTunes and iPods nearly a decade ago, where 27-minutes of the deposition was shown in court. In a ruling today, US district court judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers said that the video should be treated just like any other testimony in that particular federal circuit, and thus unable to be made public as a recording.

You Can Now Buy Tony Abbott Condoms – Stuck finding that special someone a Christmas present? Look no further! The long wait is over Australia! You can now buy Tony Abbott condoms, or Budgie Smuggler Condoms.

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Watching a music video can tell doctors if you have a brain injury – Researchers at New York University’s Langone Medical Center have just published the results of a study that showed that a subject’s eye movements could be used to determine not only whether or not a brain injury was present, but also to pin down the exact location of the injury. All it takes is having a patient watch a short (around a 3.5 minute) video clip. Eye movements get tracked as the patient views the clip, and the ratio of horizontal movements to vertical movements is calculated.

Hummers sold in government auction for first time ever – It’s time for the US government to finally, at long last, put their hummers up for sale. This will be the first time in the history of the Humvee that the US government military has allowed their custom vehicles to go on sale after they’ve been used in the field. Previous rounds of HMMWVs have gone to scrap. You won’t be able to drive these beasts on the road, and there are no guns attached to any of them – but you can bet they’ll sell like hotcakes.

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Texas plumber’s truck somehow ends up in Syrian civil war – If you’re in Syria and a Mark-1 Plumbing truck rolls by, don’t bother calling the number. Mark-1 absolutely, definitely does not service your area. As bizarre as it is, it’s no laughing matter: as the picture has spread on social media, KHOU reports that Mark-1 has received angry phone calls from individuals wondering why they’re supporting a bloody war worlds away. The company traded in the truck last year, which ended up going to auction; fast forward a few months, and the vehicle — Mark-1’s contact information and all — somehow shows up in Syria, modified to create problems rather than solve them. Always remove your phone number from your truck before you sell it.

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Oto HOME otoscope iPhone case makes ear exams mobile – Mobile devices are becoming increasingly useful in the medical field, something demonstrated by devices like the Peek Retina, which makes eye exams mobile. Oto HOME is similar to Peek Retina, but rather than imaging eyes it is used as an otoscope to get a look at ears. Parents can use the Oto HOME to take videos of their child’s inner ear, for example, and then send it off to a physician who will remotely decide whether there is an ear infection.

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Something to think about:

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Today’s Free Downloads:

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The Christmas gift pack contains the installers, license keys and register information for Video Converter Factory Pro & WonderFox Video Watermark and a freeware WonderFox DVD Ripper Speedy. Please activate the programs before Jan. 1st, 2015.

Video Converter Factory Pro – Do you always like to record the wonderful moments in holiday with the digital video camera? Here’s our gift for your digital life, to help you deal with the DV/MTS/M2TS video files.

License key: VC-VCFB-D0E2D00780-0066A88E9B-759641FFA4

Version: 8.5

WonderFox Video Watermark Pro – Do you always like to share the videos you made in holiday on the social network sites? Here’s our gift for your social life, to help you protect your copyright from unauthorized using.

Registration code: VC-VWPB-D0E2D00780-53287AFECE-1F79D0F8C5

Version: 3.3

WonderFox DVD Ripper Speedy –  Do you always like to watch movies to enjoy the happy time in holiday with your beloved family? Here’s our gift for your entertainment life,to help you rip any DVDs for family sharing.

Free license, just install.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

UK cops caught using 12 MILLION Brits’ mugshots on pic database – The legality of uploading of millions of photographs to the Police National Database for automated facial recognition tech searches has been called into question by the UK’s Biometrics Commissioner.

In his first annual report Alastair MacGregor QC said some 12 million custody photographs had been uploaded to the PND by the beginning of April 2014, with an automated searching mechanism having also gone live around the same time.

He said: “I have real doubts as to whether it can be wise at this stage – and without wider consultation and specific legal advice – to continue with the proposed operational use of the new system.”

In the report MacGregor said concerns arose around the inclusion and processing on that database of images of hundreds of thousands of individuals who have never been charged with, let alone convicted of, an offence.

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Filed under Free Software Downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Latest Tech News

Is Windows XP Dead? Not According To OPSWAT’s June 2011 Quarterly Report

imageTo quote Mark Twain, “The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” I suspect, if Windows XP were capable of speech, we just might hear the same observation repeated regarding its own demise.

Sure, Windows XP no longer holds the overwhelming market share it once held – which, according to Computerworld, reached a high of  83.6% of all operating systems in November 2007. But, statistics in OPSWAT’s latest quarterly report, to be released today, might surprise those pundits who frequently pontificate that XP is dead – dead – dead. We’ll, it just isn’t so!

There’s little doubt of course, that XP will eventually disappear from the scene – but, not quite yet. In the meantime, according to OPSWAT, XP continues to hold a better than 50% worldwide operating system market share at 55.84%, followed by Windows 7 at 38.81%. Vista trails the pack, with a dismal showing of 4.72%.

BTW, I’m not here to dispute the fact that Windows 7 is considerably safer overall than XP – that would be simply ludicrous. But, it’s equally as ludicrous to ignore the fact (as so many self described “experts” do), that XP continues to command a huge market share. 

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Graphic courtesy OPSWAT

Additionally, the OPSWAT’s report takes a close look at Worldwide and North American Antivirus vendors market share and, the gathered information may hold some surprises for those who assume that the security application marketplace is controlled by a select few major developers.

The following graphic reflects North American market penetration only. Worldwide statistics are available in the full report.

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Graphic courtesy OPSWAT

Report methodology: Usage data for security applications on Windows systems.

The data was collected using OPSWAT’s AppRemover and Am I OESIS OK? tools, which utilize the detection capabilities of the OESIS Framework to collect information regarding the applications installed on endpoint computers.

More than 43,000 data points were compiled for this report.

The full report which is chock fill of absorbing statistics is available here.

So, who is OPSWAT? 

If you’re a techie then you’re very likely familiar with AppRemover, a free powerful anti-malware, antivirus application remover from OPSWAT. Beyond this direct connection however, you might not be familiar with OPSWAT.

From the site:

OPSWAT is the industry leader in software management SDKs, interoperability certification and multiple-engine scanning solutions. Our solutions are simplified and comprehensive, solving complex development problems to reduce time and costs for your engineering and testing teams.

OPSWAT offers software manageability solutions to streamline technology partnerships between leading technology solutions and software vendors. By enabling seamless compatibility and easy management capabilities, we make connecting your solutions with other software applications effortless.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

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Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Antivirus Applications, Freeware, OPSWAT, Reports, Windows 7, Windows XP

OPSWAT’s Latest Quarterly Report Breaks Down Antivirus Market Share, Windows Usage By Version, And More

imageIf you’re a techie then you’re very likely familiar with AppRemover, a free powerful anti-malware, antivirus application remover from OPSWAT. Beyond this direct connection however, you might not be familiar with OPSWAT.

So, who are OPSWAT, and what do they do?

From the site:

OPSWAT offers software manageability solutions to streamline technology partnerships between leading technology solutions and software vendors. By enabling seamless compatibility and easy management capabilities, we make connecting your solutions with other software applications effortless.

As a Blogger, information gatherer, and distributor, there is an additional area of OPSWAT’s expertise that I find invaluable, and that is – the regular reports which the company releases on vendor market share for antivirus, hard disk encryption, backup clients, and peer to peer applications.

In its latest quarterly report, (to be released later today), OPSWAT has focused on Worldwide and North American Antivirus vendors market share, with additional data breaking down Windows usage by version and, bonus data on Peer to Peer application usage.

Here’s a few teasers from this report:

The avast! Antivirus product line has helped AVAST Soware maintain its position as the top antivirus vendor worldwide for the last two quarters, despite a slight drop to 16.19% global market share in this report.

Avira GmbH and AVG Technologies are second and third in global market share with 13.22% and 11.47% respectively. In comparison to the worldwide data from our December 2010 report, Avira GmbH shows a considerable increase of 4.96%, which could result from a higher percentage of the current data originating from countries where they have a stronger hold on the market.

The only other worldwide market share increases were by AVG, with a 1.76% gain from the December report, Lavaso, with a 0.82% rise, and Comodo, with a minimal increase of 0.06%.

Worldwide Antivirus Market Share

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Graphic courtesy OPSWAT

North American Antivirus Market Share

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Graphic courtesy OPSWAT

The following graphic might hold some surprises for those who insist that Windows XP is dead. If you were to Google “Windows XP is dead”, for example, you might be surprised to see 25 Million search results.

I’m continuously amazed at the gullibility of consumers, particularly here in North America, who are so easily convinced to discard workable solutions in favor of “the latest and greatest”.

As one who continues to happily run Windows XP on an older machine, I must admit to a certain sense of satisfaction when more than half of Worldwide users continue to resist Microsoft’s planned obsolescence cycle.

And yes, I’m quite familiar with the so called “security issues” inherent in running XP. What I find curious is – on the one hand we (those of us involved in system security), extoll users to develop situational awareness while on the Internet, while on the other hand, there’s a tendency to lay the blame for system intrusion based, in large part, on older operating system deficiencies. Marketing gone mad, anyone?

Windows OS Usage – by Version

Click on the graphic to expand to original.

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Graphic courtesy OPSWAT

P2P Application Market Share

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Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Myths, Opinion, Peer to Peer, Point of View, Reports, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

How Popular Worldwide Is YOUR AV Application?

imageA regular reader recently made the point that certain web sites (which are recognized for software reviews), tend to focus on the most popular security applications, seemingly at the expense of security applications that are less well known.

He has a point, I think – visiting some review sites might lead you to believe that the security application marketplace is controlled by a select few major developers. So, is that really the case?

A report released in December 2010, by OPSWAT, which includes data on both worldwide, and North American market share and usage data for antivirus software, might surprise you.

Here’s a few teasers from this report:

The avast! Antivirus product line has helped AVAST Software maintain the title of number one antivirus vendor worldwide with 17.53% global market share. ESET Software and Symantec round out the top three in global market share with 12.05% and 10.04% respectively.

In North America, fifty-three different antivirus companies were detected in this report. Of those fifty-three, five companies combined to control 60.74% of the antivirus market.

While Symantec still controls a large part of the market, trends are moving away from paid antivirus software and towards free antivirus solutions such as those from Microsoft, AVG, and AVAST Software.

Our current data shows that 58% of respondents were using a free solution, confirming our trend noted above when compared to a 42% free solution share as shown in our June 2010 report.

Microsoft’s Security Essentials Antivirus leads the North American Market for individual products with 10% market share, a 2.5% increase since our September 2010 report.

“Free” antivirus solutions also accounted for 3 of the top 4 antivirus products detected globally, as avast! Free Antivirus, Microsoft Security Essentials, and AVG Anti-Virus Free were all available as free downloads.

To view the full version of the report in PDF format, including relevant graphs, go here.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

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Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Antivirus Applications, Point of View, Reports, Software