Tag Archives: security

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 27, 2015

10 web-based tools to maximize productivity;  New Chrome extension throttles down webpage data usage;  When your fast PC suddenly slows down;  Pause YouTube videos with the spacebar in Chrome;  Skype for Web beta opens;  3 Ways to Fight Facebook Fatigue;  Crush Your Fantasy Draft With These 9 Baseball Apps;  Clean Reader: The app that censors rude words from ebooks;  Using Periscope or Meerkat? These accessories will help;  US offers rewards for fugitive Russian cybercriminals;  New 3D NAND flash will triple capacity of SSDs;  Microsoft releases second Xbox One April preview update;  Facebook’s 10 year plan: AI, VR, and the flying web;  Tim Cook plans to donate his wealth to charity;  UN to appoint watchdog to focus on privacy in digital age.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

10 web-based tools to maximize productivity – The face of business productivity has drastically changed over the last five years. Gone are most of the client and client/server apps we once depended upon to do our work. Now, the speed of business is defined by the web. Web — that which drives an overwhelming majority of tasks for businesses. To that end, you need to consider web-based productivity tools. But which tools should you be looking at? Here are 10 solid tools that may fit into your business model.

When your fast PC suddenly slows down – Let’s start with the easiest and most obvious fix: Have you rebooted lately? A lot of people leave their PCs on 24/7, or put them into sleep or hibernation mode rather than shutting them down completely. But a simple, full reboot can clean out a lot of Windows’ temporary cobwebs. Did that do the trick? If not, we’ll have to do some detective work.

New Chrome extension throttles down webpage data usage – Sometimes, you just need to throttle down on your data consumption when browsing. Maybe you’re tethering a computer to your smartphone and don’t want to gobble up plan data, or are on a public WiFi network. Maybe the WiFi in your hotel is slow. Whatever the case, it’s sometimes best to use as little data as possible to get the job done. To that, Google has unveiled a beta Chrome extension that will compress webpage data for you. In addition to the desktop experience, the beta feature is also available for Android and iOS Chrome browsers. Under the settings menu, find ‘Data Saver’, and enable it.

Pause YouTube videos with the spacebar in Chrome – With the Chrome extension YouTube Pause, you can turn your spacebar into a play/pause button for YouTube. Simply install the extension and you’ll be off and running; YouTube Pause does not require a restart of Chrome and does not include any settings. A search for a similar add-on for Firefox came up empty, but YouTube Smart Pause automatically pauses YouTube videos when you switch tabs in Firefox or to another application.

3 Ways to Fight Facebook Fatigue – If you’ve been on Facebook for more than a few years, there comes a point where you feel overwhelmed with all the status updates, photos, and videos. And chances are, a lot of that content is stuff you could probably do without, but you’re not sure how to unclutter your feed, short of unfriending a bunch of people. While unfriending someone is still an option, there are a few ways to streamline your information intake without the bruised egos that come with ditching online friends.

How to embed a Facebook video on your website – It goes without saying there’s value in embedding videos from Facebook and keeping users on a site longer. Not to mention, this also helps boost Facebook’s video stats; increasingly competing with YouTube. Embedding a Facebook is done by copying the embed code Facebook provides you with, and pasting it into the appropriate section of your site. Here’s what you’ll need to do:

Skype coming to a browser near you, Skype for Web beta opens – If you are a heavy user of Skype, you will know that as of right now, you need an app to fully use the service. But, that is about to change as Skype has opened up a private ‘Skype for Web’ beta that is now rolling out to some users. As you can see from the screenshots in this post, the web version of Skype has many of the same features as the apps that the company offers on nearly every platform. Basic chat and video chat is currently supported, along with regular voice calls.

wps1E4F.tmp

Open source LibreOffice coming soon to a browser near you – If you’re anything of an open source (or free and open source) software advocate, chances are you are well familiar with the attempts to produce a productivity suite to rival and replace Microsoft Office. It has been a long and rather uphill journey, though with relative success in some some quarters. But with Microsoft now spreading its wings to other platforms, particularly mobile and the Web, the battleground has also changed drastically. Already four years in the making, an online version of the LibreOffice suite might soon become reality if this new partnership between companies really bear fruit.

Crush Your Fantasy Draft With These 9 Baseball Apps – It might not look like baseball season yet depending on where you live, but Spring Training is about to wrap up, which means the boys of summer will soon be headed north.That means fans are hunkering down in their basements for their fantasy baseball draft. But rather than lugging a laptop and piles of rotisserie guides to the big event, download some of these apps to your tablet or smartphone instead. Designed from the ground up to help you build a powerhouse fantasy franchise, they’re all you need to dominate your league this year.

Periscope, Twitter’s answer to Meerkat-style live streaming, is now available – Periscope arrives today on iPhone, with streams also viewable on the web. (An Android version is forthcoming.) Like Meerkat, it allows you to broadcast whatever you’re doing — whether it’s breaking news or making breakfast — live, through video, with a couple of taps. Unlike Meerkat, Periscope can save streams so that you can replay them later. It turns out to be Periscope’s killer feature — and the main reason that it’s likely to become my live-streaming platform of choice.

wps1E8E.tmp

Using Periscope or Meerkat? These accessories will help – Now that we’ve got Periscope and Meerkat, you’re thinking about trying to become the next viral thing, aren’t you? We know you are, and it’s alright. We accept your desire to cash in your 15 minutes of fame. Heck, we encourage it! We want you to be successful so much, we’re going to let you in on some secrets for getting the most out of your smartphone for live video. With a few accessories, you can make your Meerkatting or Periscoping or Meerscoping or Perikatting much better.

Whipclip Launches So You Can Legally Share Your Favorite TV Moments – There’s a lot of talk about how social media has become the new watercooler for discussing TV’s funny, crazy, or otherwise memorable moments. What’s been more hit-or-miss, however, is finding the actual footage that everyone’s talking about. So a startup called Whipclip is launching an iPhone app of the same name today that makes it easy and legal to find and share some of your favorite TV clips. (There are plans for an Android app, too.)

wps1EBE.tmp

UltraTuner for Android launches to keep your guitar in tune – The UltraTuner app for Android users is now available to download. The app is designed to make it easy to keep your guitar tuned using an app that runs on your smartphone rather than having to keep a dedicated tuner with you. This app is already available for iOS users.

Clean Reader: The app that censors rude words from ebooks – An ebook reader app allows sensitive readers to censor the naughty words they find offensive, replacing them with less risque alternatives.

wps1EFD.tmp

Digi.me gives away free backup software to keep your social media memories intact – One in three people use social media on a regular basis however only one in four people make a back-up of their social data. As 29 percent of disasters are accidental, what would you do if you lost all your precious photos and their comments, likes, shares or tags?

Security:

Noose around Internet’s TLS system tightens with 2 new decryption attacks – The noose around the neck of the Internet’s most widely used encryption scheme got a little tighter this month with the disclosure of two new attacks that can retrieve passwords, credit card numbers and other sensitive data from some transmissions protected by secure sockets layer and transport layer security protocols. Both attacks work against the RC4 stream cipher, which is estimated to encrypt about 30 percent of today’s TLS traffic. Cryptographers have long known that some of the pseudo-random bytes RC4 uses to encode messages were predictable, but it wasn’t until 2013 that researchers devised a practical way to exploit the shortcoming.

18% more security vulnerabilities in 2014, according to Secunia – After culling data from millions of PCs around the world, Secunia has released its 2015 Vulnerability Review. Read about the report’s findings and their significance.

Google boosts Safe Browsing API – Summary:The latest update shores up browser defense against malware, phishing and unwanted software.

wps1F2D.tmp

US offers rewards for fugitive Russian cybercriminals – The U.S. government is offering multimillion dollar rewards for information that leads to the arrest or conviction of two alleged Russian hackers. Both were indicted in U.S. courts for their roles in “Carder.ru,” a website and international enterprise that principally operated out of Las Vegas. The site was taken down by law enforcement in March 2012 and 19 people arrested for their role in crimes that are estimated to have cost at least $50 million [m], according to the State Department.

Company News:

As Twitter launches Periscope, Meerkat announces $14 million in funding – This morning saw dueling announcements in the world of live-streaming apps. Twitter finally pushed Periscope to the public, and Meerkat announced it had raised a pile of cash with strong connections to Hollywood. Right now Meerkat has the hype, coming off a strong SXSW and high-profile celebrity users like Jimmy Fallon. At the same time, Meerkat relies heavily on Twitter for its distribution. That puts it in a perilous position, something we saw at work when Twitter cut off Meerkat’s access to its social graph.

New 3D NAND flash will triple capacity of SSDs, Intel and Micron say – Standard consumer SSDs will increase up to an astounding 10TB of storage, thanks to a new type of 3D NAND flash memory that Intel and Micron introduced Thursday morning. The two companies, longtime joint partners in NAND flash development, said the breakthrough isn’t to make larger flash chips, but thicker ones. Much like Manhattan, when you’re out of space, the only way to go is up. The chips are already sampling at both companies, and Intel said it expects to offer products for sale using the 3D chips in the later half of this year. But how long will the chips last before they fail? That information wasn’t disclosed. Intel did say it expects to offer products using the new NAND chips this year.

wps1F6D.tmp

Uber announces new global ‘code of conduct’, safety guidelines – No stranger to controversy, Uber is as much PR-spin company than it is ride-sharing entity. Following some serious allegations about passenger safety, the latest being the alleged rape of a passenger in India late last year, Uber said they’d pen some guidelines for best practices on how to react to such events. Now, the company has a code of conduct for drivers, as well as incident response teams and a safety advisory board. Perhaps most assuring is Uber’s commitment to working with law enforcement fully.

PayPal agrees to pay $7.7 million for alleged sanctions violations – On Wednesday afternoon, PayPal reached a settlement with the US Treasury Department, agreeing that it would pay $7.7 million for allegedly processing payments to people in countries under sanction as well as to a man the US has listed as involved in the nuclear weapons black market. The company neither confirmed nor denied the allegations, but it voluntarily handed over its transaction data to the US Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). In its settlement agreement with PayPal, the Treasury accused the company of failing to screen its in-process transactions until 2013.

Google Takes Its Amazon-Style Starred Product Ratings To Europe To Boost Shopping Searches – While Amazon is expanding its logistics and delivery business to complement its e-commerce portal, Google is working on ways to make its search experience online more like Amazon’s to grow the number of people who use Google to look for and buy products. Today Google announced that it is turning on Product Ratings in the UK, France and Germany. Product ratings, first launched in the U.S. last year, are essentially Google’s play at making its search results look less static, and more like Amazon’s, to the average consumer.

wps1F8D.tmp

Salesforce abandons all future Indiana plans following passage of SB 101 – On Thursday, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff announced plans to avoid the state of Indiana for any future company events following the passage of that state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. “Today we are canceling all programs that require our customers/employees to travel to Indiana to face discrimination,” Benioff wrote on his personal Twitter account. He then emphasized his “employees’ and customers’ outrage” over the bill and said that he would “dramatically reduce” the company’s investment in Indiana as a result.

Games and Entertainment:

Google’s Nexus Player is now on sale in the UK for £79.99 – Google unveiled its Nexus Player back in October, alongside its new Nexus 6 smartphone and Nexus 9 tablet. The Player is the company’s showcase device for its nascent Android TV platform, offering access to movies, TV shows, music, apps and other content, with a UI designed for the big screen in your living room. Right on cue, Google has now announced that the device is launching in the UK today, promising availability at Argos, Currys PC World, Amazon, John Lewis and eBuyer, as well as its new Google Store, which launched a couple of weeks ago.

wps1FBD.tmp

Xbox Live Gold members being appreciated in April with double “Games with Gold” offer – While we shared the ‘Deals of the Week’ with you a couple of days ago, it look like Microsoft is ready to bless its loyal Xbox Live Gold members for the month of April. In appreciation of its customers, the company is doubling its ‘Games with Gold’ offering. That means that Xbox One owners will be able to download two free games and Xbox 360 owners will receive four free games.

Grand Theft Auto V update will fix graphics quality issue – If you’re an Xbox One or PlayStation 4 owner and you’ve recently updated Grand Theft Auto V with Title Update 1.08, you’ve likely noticed a problem that has managed to catch Rockstar Games’ attention: the graphics quality took a nose dive, and the enjoyability of gameplay went with it. Gamers have been complaining about this issue, and today Rockstar announced that it has set its sights on the problem. There’s no fix yet, but one is being looked into, and as you’d expect, gamers will be given an update about when it is available.

How to test your PC’s DirectX 12 performance today – The final release of DirectX 12 and Windows 10 is months away but if you’re itching to test your system’s DX12 theoretical performance today, here’s how you can do it. First, you’ll need to have the 64-bit version of the Windows 10 Technical Preview installed. The 32-bit version is not supported. Earlier preview builds had DirectX 12 components aboard but it will take the latest one (build 10041) to enable the DX12 functionality. If haven’t installed Windows 10 yet, here’s everything you need to get it up and running.

wps1FFC.tmp

3DMark’s new API Overheat Feature Test measures the performance difference between DirectX11 and the new Windows 10-only DirectX 12.

Microsoft releases second Xbox One April preview update, brings voice messages and more – Following the update that was released for the Xbox One in the preview last week, featuring game hub links and more detailed achievement notifications, Microsoft has now released the second preview update for the month of April. The new update focuses mainly on enhancing the social features of the console, making it easier to keep in touch with friends on Xbox One or Xbox 360, and include the following:

Off Topic (Sort of):

Renault Twizy 45 is legal to drive in France at 14 years old – One thing teens have in common the world over is that most of them look forward to getting a license to drive on their own. In France, teens can now get a license to drive early for a little EV called the Renault Twizy 45. The little car can be driven on the roads by drivers as young as 14 years old. The Twizy 45 is considered by Renault a safer and more comfortable alternative to a scooter. It comes with an airbag, double seatbelts, disc brakes, and a protective cell. The car is very small measuring 2.34-meters long x 1.24-metres wide and driver and passenger sit in a tandem arrangement. The Twizy 45 has 5hp and a top speed of 28mph. The battery pack needs 3.5 hours to charge fully via a standard 3-pin plug. With a full charge, the vehicle can drive about 60 miles per charge.

wps203B.tmp

Two students turn a subwoofer into a fire extinguisher, fight fire with sound – In the future, the range hood in your kitchen may be able to automatically put out fires. It won’t do it with a dry chemical or a foam, either. It’ll use sound. Two engineering students at George Mason University, Seth Robertson and Viet Tran, have been working on a portable device that can do just that, and they now have a working prototype. Their contraption makes use of an ATX power supply and a Pyle subwoofer to produce fire-fighting low-frequency sound waves. You can see how it all goes down in the duo’s amazing demo video: it takes just seconds for their invention to extinguish a simulated kitchen fire:

wps206B.tmp

Facebook’s Aquila Drone Will Beam Down Internet Access With Lasers – Codenamed Aquila, the drone has a wingspan comparable to a Boeing 767 yet uses lightweight materials that allow it to weigh less than a car. Aquila has to be incredibly light, because it’s going to be kept aloft for as long as three months at a time using solar power. Just staying in the air for that long is a challenge, but Facebook’s also going to be pushing Internet access down to people 60,000-90,000 feet below using lasers, as well as maintaining communications between drones to maintain coverage across wider regions.

wps209B.tmp

Facebook’s 10 year plan: AI, VR, and the flying web – Facebook may be best known for providing a route for former schoolfriends to annoy you with their baby photos, but the social site is also looking to bring the next generation of internet users online and give developers the tools to lure them. A combination of virtual reality, vast data centers, newly open-sourced coding tools, and innovative and less expensive web-delivery systems like drones were all on the agenda for Facebook’s second day F8 2015 keynote, along with how to teach an artificial intelligence about Lord of the Rings.

Beer wear: Dress made from bacterial-fermented brew – You see the dress. It’s fun, flouncy and bouncy with a fitted top and an exuberant puff of fabric at the bottom. It looks like it came from some young, hip fashion designer. But this dress has a secret. The fabric didn’t come from some high-end store catering to Parisian clothing makers. It came from beer.

wps20EA.tmp

This dress started with a cold one. Nanollose

Apple’s Tim Cook plans to donate his wealth to charity – Cook is part of a group of millionaire and billionaire tech executives who believe in sharing their wealth. Gates is the most well-known philanthropist in the group; with his wife, Melinda, he’s donated $30.2 billion, or 37 percent of his net worth, according to Forbes. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has given away $1.5 billion, or 4 percent of his net worth over his lifetime. Other company chiefs, like Google co-founder Sergey Brin, eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and Intel co-founder Gordon Moore, are known for giving to charity.

Something to think about:

“When you appeal to force, there’s one thing you must never do – lose.”

–    Dwight D. Eisenhower

Today’s Free Downloads:

Product Key Decryptor – Product Key Decryptor is the FREE Tool to Recover License CD Keys of over 200 popular software including Windows, Adobe, Winamp etc.

wps2139.tmp

SSD-Z 15.03.15 Beta – SSD-Z is an information tool for Solid State Drives and other disk devices.

Using a database, it will show information about your SSD, such as the controller, processing tech, NAND type etc.

Other useful information related to disk devices are also shown, such as S.M.A.R.T. status and partition layout.

Features:

Details of the controller and processing tech of NAND chips (for known devices).

Verify that TRIM is enabled for your system and SSDs.

S.M.A.R.T. status and full list of all the device’s available attributes.

List of all partitions. Including hidden, unmapped and boot partitions.

Benchmark IOPS, transfer speed and random access time (work in progress)

View the raw device identify data words.

wps2159.tmp

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Is it legal for US military to scan the public’s computers for kid porn? – A federal appeals court is having second thoughts about its decision frowning on the US Navy for scanning every computer in the state of Washington accessing Gnutella, a large peer-to-peer network.

The September decision (PDF) thwarted a child pornography prosecution that began when a Naval Criminal Investigative Service agent in Georgia discovered the illicit images on a civilian’s computer in Washington state. The agent was using a law-enforcement computer program called RoundUp to search for hashed images of child pornography.

Following the court’s 3-0 decision, the Department of Justice petitioned for a rehearing. The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals agreed Wednesday to revisit the dispute with a larger, 11-judge panel.

In September, a three-judge panel ruled that the military unlawfully intruded into civilian affairs. Allowing the prosecution to go forward, the court ruled, would render “meaningless” the Posse Comitatus Act (PCA). The PCA largely prohibits the military from enforcing civilian law, the court ruled. The PCA was first passed in 1878.

Why Canada’s democracy rates a sad ‘C’ grade – Canadians have so little trust in our elected MPs and are so turned off by politics that the legitimacy of our entire democratic system is at risk.

Indeed, politics is now so despised that it repels more people than it attracts, especially among young Canadians.

Those jarring statements aren’t the rants of an out-of-touch political scientist, but the feelings of the vast majority of Canadians who took part in a massive national survey on the state of our democracy.

The survey, released Wednesday by Samara Canada, a respected non-profit think tank devoted to promoting democracy, found that most Canadians don’t trust MPs, don’t believe politics affects our daily lives and don’t participate at all in political activities.

At the same time, it revealed that most of us think politicians don’t care at all what we say or what we want, rather they’re just after our votes.

The situation is so bad that Samara gave our democracy a sad “C” grade in its first-ever report, Democracy 360, on the state of our democratic system.

Why is it that bad? More important, why should we care?

UN to appoint watchdog to focus on privacy in digital age – The Human Rights Council of the United Nations has voted in favor of a resolution backed by Germany and Brazil to appoint an independent watchdog or ‘special rapporteur’ to monitor privacy rights in the digital age.

The council said Thursday that the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, including the right to privacy.

The proposed appointment of the rapporteur is likely to be mainly symbolic as the official’s functions will be mainly advisory. But it reflects continuing concerns around the world about privacy in the wake of disclosures of U.S. surveillance by former National Security Agency contractor, Edward Snowden.

The resolution refers to the deep concern of the Human Rights Council at the negative impact on the exercise of human rights of surveillance or interception of communications both within countries and abroad, and of the collection of personal data, in particular when carried out on a mass scale.

Inquiry Launched into New Zealand Mass Surveillance – New Zealand’s spy agency watchdog is launching an investigation into the scope of the country’s secret surveillance operations following a series of reports from The Intercept and its partners.

On Thursday, Cheryl Gwyn, New Zealand’s inspector-general of intelligence and security, announced that she would be opening an inquiry after receiving complaints about spying being conducted in the South Pacific by eavesdropping agency Government Communications Security Bureau, or GCSB.

In a press release, Gwyn’s office said: “The complaints follow recent public allegations about GCSB activities. The complaints, and these public allegations, raise wider questions regarding the collection, retention and sharing of communications data.”

This month, The Intercept has shined a light on the GCSB’s surveillance with investigative reports produced in partnership with the New Zealand Herald, Herald on Sunday, and Sunday-Star-Times.

The reports, based on information from National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden and other sources, have revealed how the GCSB has been intercepting communications in bulk across a variety of neighboring South Pacific islands, raising concerns that New Zealand citizens’ emails and phone calls are being swept up in the dragnet.

Leave a comment

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 26, 2015

Tech coalition including Microsoft, Apple, and Google presses attack on the Patriot Act;  Who’s in charge, here? The White House, or an advertising company in California?  9 compelling reasons to keep your old PC instead of upgrading;  These Are the 5 Best iPhone Apps of the Week;  Five free apps for dealing with hardware problems;  USB 3.1 set to reach desktops;  10 cheap or free ways to make your old PC run faster;  Kano OS made free for Raspberry Pi 2;  Router hack is injecting ads and porn into random websites;  New York threatens action if RadioShack sells data;  Fan TV’s New App Is A Must-Have For Cord Cutters;  Bill Gates recommends these essential readings;  Google awarded patent for their smart contact lens;  Who Has the Fastest Web Connections? (Hint: Not the U.S.);  Router Password Decryptor (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

New York threatens action if RadioShack sells customer data – New York’s attorney general said his office will take “appropriate action” if personal data on millions of RadioShack customers is handed over as part of a just-concluded bankruptcy sale. The names and physical addresses of 65 million customers and email addresses of 13 million customers were among the assets listed as part of the sale, which concluded this week but has yet to be approved by a bankruptcy court. “When a company collects private customer data on the condition that it will not be resold, it is the company’s responsibility to uphold their end of the bargain,” said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in a statement.

As the Snowden leaks began, there was “fear and panic” in Congress – Minutes after the first NSA leak was published, the phones of US lawmakers began to buzz, hours before most of America would find out over their morning coffee.

Run this Installer Hijacking Scanner app to see if your older Android phone is at risk – Half of all Android phones still run Android 4.2 or older. If they also buy from third-party app stores, they could be vulnerable to a hijacking app. This scanner will tell you if your phone is at risk.

These Are the 5 Best iPhone Apps of the Week –  It seems like hundreds of new iPhone apps pop up every week, but which ones should you bother trying? We explored the App Store and found some apps actually worth downloading.

Five free apps for dealing with hardware problems – From bad memory to missing drivers, PC hardware can exhibit aggravating problems that you’ll need to troubleshoot. Here are five apps that can help.

9 compelling reasons to keep your old PC instead of upgrading – Few can withstand the siren song of the latest and greatest gear, the deep allure of a new and shiny gadget—but that doesn’t mean that tossing your old computer in the trash and picking up a fresh PC is necessarily a smart idea. While gamers and hardcore video editors always stand to gain extra performance out of fresh firepower, more casual users might be better off saving their cash and sticking with the PC you already own. Here’s why.

10 cheap or free ways to make your old PC run faster – There’s a reason that unboxing videos and the phrase “new car smell” are firmly ensconced in the public groupmind. New stuff is exciting! New stuff is (theoretically) better! New stuff is just plain cool. But new stuff also costs an arm and a leg—at least if you’re talking about a new PC. And you might not even truly need a new PC to accomplish what you’re looking to do. Fortunately, there are a slew of ways to breathe new life into an older PC that’s starting to feel a little pokey. Even better: Most are outright free, a couple of (still low-cost) hardware upgrades aside. Sure, these tweaks and tips aren’t as thrilling as booting up a brand new PC for the first time—but they’ll let you continue to get the job done with the gear you already have.

BitDefender, Kaspersky top list of best Windows 8.1 antivirus software – In sales, they say that you’re only as good as your last month’s figures. Ditto for antivirus software. And right now, BitDefender, Kaspersky, and Qihoo 360 are the best in the business. AV-Test, one of the two leading antivirus testing houses, released its February antivirus ratings for Windows 8.1 PCs early Wednesday, assessing the 27 or so available antimalware packages on protection, performance, and usability. The results shouldn’t surprise you: The bigger names in the industry rose to the top, while at the bottom—as usual—sat Microsoft.

The Beastgrip Pro Turns Your Phone Into A Mobile Video Rig – The Beastgrip Pro is a rig system for your phone that lets you take better photos and video by adding stability, mics, lights, and lenses. Nearly every aspect is modular or expandable. Depending on what you need to shoot, you might put your phone on a tripod for smoother shots, add a directional mic for better audio during interviews, or swap out lenses to capture wide-angle footage or to get better distance shots without hurting quality as with digital zoom. Every mount or thread uses a common photography standard, making it a great option for getting kids started with video using second-hand gear or for using your phone as an emergency on-shoot backup. Beastgrip’s rig is now available for pre-order on Kickstarter, coming in at $70 for the main rig and $105 if you want the Depth of Field adapter and wide-angle lens.

wps4B61.tmp

USB 3.1 set to reach desktops – The emerging USB 3.1 standard is set to reach desktops as hardware companies release motherboards with ports that can transfer data twice as fast as the previous USB technology. MSI on Wednesday announced a 970A SLI Krait motherboard that will support the AMD processors and the USB 3.1 protocol. Motherboards with USB 3.1 ports have also been released by Gigabyte, ASRock and Asus, but those boards support Intel chips.

Kano OS made free for Raspberry Pi 2 – To quicken the development of Kano OS and its innards, the team behind the creation of the “fast, fun, friendly OS” have made it free to Raspberry Pi 2. This software works with games, web browsing, a video app, and lots of tools for software development. This system comes with a toolset of utilities for Raspberry Pi and the OS itself and is aimed at developers – though you could very well make your own tiny console with it if you do so wish.

wps4BA0.tmp

Google will finally improve Chrome scrolling using a Microsoft invention – Google is finally adopting a standard that supports both mouse and touch navigation for its Chrome browser. If you’ve used a copy of Chrome on a Windows tablet recently then you’ll probably be familiar with the poor scrolling performance and general touch support, and it’s something Google will now address across all of its versions of Chrome. Google revealed today that it plans to support Pointer Events, a standard that was first introduced by Microsoft in Internet Explorer. Google has traditionally focused its efforts on supporting Touch Events, a method used by Apple in its Safari browser. Microsoft, Mozilla, and Opera have all adopted Pointer Events, and Google says that feedback from the web community has led to the change in heart.

Amazon’s On-Demand Services Marketplace Launches Monday – Amazon’s Angie’s List competitor, called “Amazon Local Services,” has been rebranded as “Amazon Home Services” ahead of a larger launch happening Monday, sources familiar with the plans tell TechCrunch. The site, which previously featured only a limited number of service offerings in a handful of select markets, has also recently expanded to include a much larger number of categories of services as well as additional cities around the U.S.

wps4BE0.tmp

Security:

This router hack is injecting ads and porn into random websites – A new strain of malware is using routers to inject ads and pornography into websites, according to a report from Ara Labs. Once a router is compromised, the malware will load third-party content onto almost any website visited by the user. The attack alternates between loading ads and directly loading content from pornographic websites like adultyum.info and adultcameras.info. In both cases, it’s functioning as a basic adware attack, redirecting targets as a pay of generating paid traffic for a client. “Due to the nature of this scheme, there is no technology that is going to detect this automatically,” Ara said in a statement. The following video shows the clean, ad-based version of the attack. (Ara Labs described the other as “too graphic to publish.”)

wps4C3E.tmp

Microsoft blacklists latest rogue SSL certificates, Mozilla mulls sanctions for issuer – Microsoft has blacklisted a subordinate CA certificate that was wrongfully used to issue SSL certificates for several Google websites. The action will prevent those certificates from being used in Google website spoofing attacks against Internet Explorer users. Microsoft’s move, taken on Tuesday, came after Google reported that the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), a certificate authority (CA) trusted by most browsers and operating systems, issued an intermediate certificate to an Egyptian company called MCS Holdings. The company then used it to generate SSL certificates for Google-owned websites without authorization.

Company News:

Facebook announces Messenger Platform and Businesses on Messenger – Today at the annual F8 developer conference, Facebook announced its new Messenger Platform as well as Businesses on Messenger to expand its traditional messaging application.

Mozilla Extends Its Default Google Search Blockout, Signs Up Yandex In Turkey – Mozilla last November made waves when it swapped out Google as the default search engine in its Firefox browser in the U.S., replacing it with Yahoo, and put Yandex in for Google in Russia at the same time. Today Mozilla announced an expansion of that strategy: Yandex will now also be the default search option in Turkey, once again replacing Google. Yandex is known as the Google of Russia, partly because of the appearance of its search product, and partly for its position as the leading search engine in the country — albeit with a more modest dominance; its market share is just under 60% right now, and 75% among Firefox users.

Facebook sued for alleged theft of data center design – Facebook is being sued by a British engineering company that claims the social network stole its technique for building data centers and, perhaps worse, is encouraging others to do the same through the Open Compute Project. BladeRoom Group says it contacted Facebook in 2011 about using its technique, which involves constructing data centers in a modular fashion from pre-fabricated parts. It’s intended to be a faster, more energy-efficient method. What happened next isn’t clear, since much of the public version of BRG’s lawsuit is redacted. But it claims Facebook ended up stealing its ideas and using them to build part of a data center in Lulea, Sweden, that opened last year.

Games and Entertainment:

Fan TV’s New App Is A Must-Have For Cord Cutters – As a cord cutter, one of the ongoing challenges is figuring out which shows and movies are available for streaming on services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant Video, Hulu and others, and which are only available as paid downloads. A company called Fan TV is today introducing a new mobile application that will go a long way to help address this problem, by allowing you to search and save shows and movies you want to watch later – as well as get alerted to when they arrive on your preferred services.

wps4C8D.tmp

5 Reasons You Need to Check Out Cities: Skylines – Cities: Skylines, a PC game by a totally different studio (interlopers!) that’s singlehandedly revitalizing the city-building genre. And not in a “Look, here’s something more clever than SimCity!” way, so much as a “Hey, why not just do SimCity old school?” one. Here’s a look at some of the reasons why.

wps4CBD.tmp

PlayStation 4 Gets Suspend And Resume, External HD Backups On March 26 – The Suspend/Resume function means you won’t have to save to stop the action, and it’s much more convenient now that it survives the PS4’s Rest Mode, which puts the console into a low-power, stasis-like state. Previously, games could be temporarily paused like this, but only while you exited to the menu to quickly check on something else. Another anticipated new feature coming with Yukimura (PS4 software version 2.50 if you want to get technical) is the ability to back-up and restore console HDD content to an external USB drive. That means you can fully back up the system, including everything from settings, saved data an screenshots to games, patches and downloads.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Bill Gates recommends these essential readings to TED 2015 attendees – Although Gates was not a speaker at this year’s TED 2015 event, he was invited to attend and was asked by the team to recommend a list of books for the conference attendees. Naturally, Gates obliged and created a list with books that focus on health, business and the world. In no particular order, here is the list that Bill Gates put together for the attendees at TED 2015.

Business Adventures by John Brooks

The Bully Pulpit by Doris Kearns Goodwin

On Immunity by Eula Biss

Making the Modern World by Vaclav Smil

How Asia Works by Joe Studwell

How to Lie with Statistics by Darrell Huff

For a full description of each book, head over to Gates’ site where he has a short synopsis of each book.

Google awarded patent for their smart contact lens – Remember the Google X skunkworks project that saw the company imagining contact lenses that could monitor your glucose levels? Sounded weird, and more like some means to an end for a bigger project. Then we found Google had a partner in Novartis, and the contact lens that could monitor your health seemed a bit closer to reality. It’s now even closer to being on your eye, as Google has been granted a patent to manufacture the lenses, which have multiple layers and their own chipset.

wps4CED.tmp

The father of all humans lived 239,000 years ago – By sequencing the genomes of 2,636 Icelanders — the largest set ever obtained from a single population — researchers were able to identify that genetic mutations play a role in everything from Alzheimer’s disease to liver disease. The Icelandic data also suggest that humanity’s most recent common male ancestor, the “father” of us all, would have lived between 174,000 and 321,000 years ago. The estimate for the most recent common male ancestor contradicts some past findings. A 2013 study from the University of Arizona estimated that the age of the father of all humans is about 340,000 years old. But the Icelandic analysis indicates he probably lived about 239,000 years ago — a number that’s much closer to the estimate for humanity’s most recent common female ancestor, who lived about 200,000 years ago.

FTC hits back; Google investigation integrity questioned again – The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is coming out against statements made last week by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), as well as new claims that Google had used its political ties to the Obama administration to obtain a favorable outcome in the FTC investigation into alleged anti-trust and unfair internet search practices. The FTC states that such claims are unfounded and undermine the integrity of its investigation, while the WSJ is giving weight to the idea that anti-trust investigation might not have had much integrity on the FTC’s part at all.

Who Has the Fastest Web Connections? (Hint: Not the U.S.) – Global average Internet connection speeds remained above the 4 Mbps threshold for broadband in the fourth quarter of 2014, increasing 0.7 percent to 4.5 Mbps, according to the latest report from Akamai. Despite a 12 percent decline, South Korea held its first-place position with a 22.2 Mbps average connection speed, followed by Hong Kong (16.8 Mbps) and Japan (15.2 Mbps). Sweden, Switzerland, and The Netherlands all landed in the 14 Mbps range, with Latvia (13 Mbps), Ireland (12.7 Mbps), the Czech Republic (12.3 Mbps), and Finland (12.1 Mbps) bringing up the rear. At 11.1 Mbps average connection speed, the U.S. did not break the top 10.

Something to think about:

“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself – and you are the easiest person to fool.”

–     Richard Feynman

Today’s Free Downloads:

HTTPS Everywhere – HTTPS Everywhere is a Firefox, Chrome, and Opera extension that encrypts your communications with many major websites, making your browsing more secure.

It automatically switches thousands of sites from insecure “http” to secure “https”. It will protect you against many forms of surveillance and account hijacking, and some forms of censorship.

HTTPS Everywhere is produced as a collaboration between The Tor Project and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Many sites on the web offer some limited support for encryption over HTTPS, but make it difficult to use. For instance, they may default to unencrypted HTTP, or fill encrypted pages with links that go back to the unencrypted site. The HTTPS Everywhere extension fixes these problems by using a clever technology to rewrite requests to these sites to HTTPS.

DeepSound - DeepSound is a steganography tool and audio converter that hides secret data into audio files. The application also enables you to extract secret files directly from audio files or audio CD tracks.

DeepSound might be used as copyright marking software for wave, flac, wma, ape, and audio CD. DeepSound also support encrypting secret files using AES-256(Advanced Encryption Standard) to improve data protection.

The application additionally contains an easy to use Audio Converter Module that can encode several audio formats (FLAC, MP3, WMA, WAV, APE) to others (FLAC, MP3, WAV, APE).

wps4D1D.tmp

Router Password Decryptor – Router Password Decryptor is the FREE tool to instantly recover internet login/PPPoE authentication passwords, wireless WEP keys, WPA/WPA2 passphrases from your router/modem configuration file.

Currently it supports password recovery from following type of router/modems:

Cisco

Juniper

DLink

BSNL

In addition to this, it also has unique ‘Smart Mode’ feature (experimental) to recover passwords from any type of Router/Modem configuration file. It detects various password fields from such config file (XML only) and then automatically try to decrypt those passwords.

It also has quick link to Base64 Decoder which is useful in case you have found Base64 encoded password (ending with =) in the config file and automatic recovery is not working.

It is very easy to use tool with its cool GUI interface. Administrators & Penetration Testers will find it more useful to recover login passwords as well as wireless keys from the router configuration files.

It is fully portable and works on both 32-bit & 64-bit windows platforms.

Features:

Instantly decrypt and recover login/PPPoE/WEP/WPA/WPA2 Passwords from Router/Modem Config file

Supports Cisco/Juniper/DLink/BSNL modems/routers

Also has Smart Mode feature to recover password from any config file

Useful for Admins & Penetration Testers

Simple & elegant GUI interface makes it easy to use

Supports quick Drag & Drop of Router config file

Right click context menu to quickly copy the Password

Sort feature to arrange the displayed passwords

Save the recovered password list to HTML/XML/TEXT/CSV file

Fully Portable, does not require Java or .NET

Includes Installer for assisting you in local Installation & Uninstallation.

wps4D7B.tmp

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Tech coalition including Microsoft, Apple, and Google presses attack on the Patriot Act – Advocacy groups, major tech companies, and a coalition of huge firms including Google, Microsoft, and Apple have sent a letter to the Obama administration urging it to decisively end the NSA’s bulk collection of metadata, which expires June 1st as part of Section 215 of the Patriot Act. Obama has already urged Congress to develop a new framework for handling metadata, proposing that telecom companies hang onto the records and only hand them over when law enforcement receives a court order. That proposal was made a year ago. If Congress wants to keep allowing the government to access these records — and, yeah, it probably does — it’ll have to act within the next several months.

“There must be a strong, clear, and effective end to bulk collection practices under the USA Patriot Act, including under the Section 215 records authority and Section 214 authority regarding pen registers and trap & trace devices,” the companies write in the letter, which was sent today and signed by nearly four dozen groups. “Any collection that does occur under those authorities should have appropriate safeguards in place to protect privacy and users’ rights.” Other signatories of the letter include Wikimedia, Mozilla, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Public Knowledge, Silent Circle, the ACLU, and CloudFlare. The text of the letter is below:

Who’s in charge, here? The White House, or an advertising company in California? – Google and the White House manage to hook up more than the majority of married couples, having met up once a week for the past five years.

That’s the latest indicator of the powerful internet giant’s worrying cosy relationship with the Obama administration, pulled from logs requested by the Wall Street Journal.

The disclosure comes hot on the heels of last week’s revelations that US watchdog the FTC very nearly pursued an antitrust lawsuit against Google for unfairly burying rivals in its search results, but ultimately gave up the chase. Google denies any wrongdoing.

The relationship between the rich California corporation and the Obama administration has been going on for some time, and has resulted in a string of troubling situations – a few of which we documented in a report over the weekend.

The Journal today highlights that as the FTC neared its decision not to prosecute Google for abusing its dominant search and online advertising position, its senior executives had a sudden run of meetings both with the watchdog and the White House.

EU: Don’t use Facebook if you want to keep the NSA away from your data – In a key case before the European Union’s highest court, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), the European Commission admitted yesterday that the US-EU Safe Harbor framework for transatlantic data transfers does not adequately protect EU citizens’ data from US spying. The European Commission’s attorney Bernhard Schima told the CJEU’s attorney general: “You might consider closing your Facebook account if you have one,” euobserver reports.

The case before the CJEU is the result of complaints lodged against five US companies—Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Skype, and Yahoo—with the relevant data protection authorities in Germany, Ireland, and Luxembourg by the Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems, supported by crowdfunding. Because of the important points of European law raised, the Irish High Court referred the Safe Harbor case to the CJEU.

California bill requires warrant for stingray use – A California state bill that would require a warrant to access all kinds of digital data passed its first hurdle after being approved by the Senate Public Safety Committee on Tuesday.

Among other sweeping new requirements to enhance digital privacy, the bill notably imposes a warrant requirement before police can access nearly any type of digital data produced by or contained within a device or service.

In other words, that would include any use of a stingray, also known as a cell-site simulator, which can not only used to determine a phone’s location, but can also intercept calls and text messages. During the act of locating a phone, stingrays also sweep up information about nearby phones—not just the target phone.

Leave a comment

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 25, 2015

14 Hidden Firefox Functions for Browsing Like a Boss;  RadioShack selling millions of email/home addresses;  Try these 5 undiscovered Google Drive tricks;  How smartphone reviews really work;  You don’t want a TV box, you want a Laptop;  Facebook launches ‘On This Day’ feature;  Hands-On: Linux UEFI multi-boot;  The National Power Grid Is Under Continuous Attack;  The 10 Best Wireless Routers;  Flash-based vulnerability on many websites three years later;  Half of Android devices open to silent hijack;  With Net Neutrality Lawsuit, Broadband Mafia Still Doesn’t Get It;  Xbox One and 360 Xbox Live Gold Deals of the Week;  Facebook Testing ‘Phone’ App for Android;  SUPERAntiSpyware (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

RadioShack is selling tens of millions of email and home addresses – Among the locations, trademarks, overpriced cables, and other assets that RadioShack is selling off as part of its bankruptcy filing are tens of millions of email addresses, home addresses, and customer names, all of which could end up in the hands of another company. As Bloomberg points out, RadioShack’s sale includes over 13 million email addresses and over 65 million custom names and physical addresses. That’s a lot of personal data! Standard General, RadioShack’s largest shareholder, is reported to have won the bid. But the purchase still has to be approved by a bankruptcy court, and Bloomberg reports that legal challenges may prevent Standard General from taking over the personal data.

Pointing up  RadioShack’s Privacy Policy (from the site) includes: We will not sell or rent your personally identifiable information to anyone at any time.

Try these 5 undiscovered Google Drive tricks – Google Drive and its attendant apps offer a wealth of tools to help you be more productive. Try these five for the biggest boost.

wps3BA2.tmp

How smartphone reviews really work – The inside scoop on what happens behind the scenes of a smartphone review, from someone who’s written more than a few of ‘em. Since we’re on the brink of a busy few weeks for smartphone reviews, I thought now would be a prime time to pull back the curtains and offer a frank walk-through of how the phone-reviewing process actually works.

Microsoft: Office will be free for devices under 10 inches – Microsoft believes that screens smaller than 10 inches aren’t used by ‘professionals,’ so don’t expect it to charge for editing and viewing Office documents. Oh, and the Surface Pro mini — probably dead.

You don’t want a TV box, you want a Laptop – Now that Apple is rumored to be releasing a new Apple TV box later this year, citizens of the mobile smart device universe have their respective TV-loving ears perked up once again. Do I need a new Apple TV? Maybe an Amazon Fire TV Stick instead? Perhaps I need to get something like a Roku, or maybe a Chromecast! Or – better yet – I could just use the old laptop that’s sitting in, on, or under my desk. The one I replaced years ago, but still works just fine. Before you buy anything, mentally access the contents of your home. Do you have a laptop computer hiding anywhere? An old laptop – a notebook computer you no longer use on a regular basis.

Zendo Is My New Favorite Secure Messaging App – Now you might well ask who needs (yet) another way to ping, poke, prod or otherwise pester their friends? The answer is simple: anyone who cares about privacy. So how does a new secure messaging app stand out in such a crowded space? By making something that’s super easy to use, given that security can still be synonymous with tedious complexity. And also by using a type of encryption that technically cannot be cracked. Something that’s impervious to man-in-the-middle attacks. Yet which has been overlooked by cryptographers for decades.

wps3BE2.tmp

Bezel-less Oppo R7 leaks on Chinese social media – Chinese smartphone maker Oppo appears to be doing some magic with the design of its upcoming Oppo R7 phone, if this leaked video appears to be true. The Android-powered handset alleged comes with almost non-existent bezels, with the large screen taking up the entire sides of the device, as you can see from the screen capture. The magic apparently lies in some visual trickery (which Oppo has filed a patent for) where the sides of the screen diffract the light to make it seem that the display extends all the way to the edge.

wps3C21.tmp

14 Hidden Firefox Functions for Browsing Like a Boss – While all browsers share certain functionality and indeed learn from one another, there are certain quirks and functions that are unique to each. And Firefox is no different. You may be familiar with the many third-party extensions and add-ons that can amplify Firefox’s functionality, however there are a lot of little tricks already baked in to the software that you may not be using. Click through our slideshow to see 14 hidden Firefox functions.

Hands-On: Linux UEFI multi-boot, my way – Let’s start by clearly stating what this post is, and what it isn’t. It is a description of how I set up multi-boot for Linux systems, sometimes including Windows, using the GRUB bootloader. It is not intended to be a complete guide to Linux on UEFI firmware. There are certainly other ways to configure UEFI multi-boot – this is simply the way that I have found most useful and reliable to do it. OK? Good, here we go…

Facebook plans to let users read popular news sites without leaving Facebook – Mark Zuckerberg has often described Facebook as a newspaper for its users. A place where the stories that are interesting to them — the births, the birthdays, the parties, the gossip — are laid out every morning. Now, however, this comparison is becoming less metaphorical, with Facebook reportedly in talks with several publications — including Buzzfeed, National Geographic, and The New York Times — to post their content directly within the site. This means that stories wouldn’t just appear as links in the News Feed, but as content that can be share or liked without ever leaving Facebook.

Facebook officially launches nostalgia-inducing ‘On This Day’ feature – Starting today, when users visit Facebook on the web or on their phones, they’ll get an option to view the On This Day page (or you can go to the page directly, but it hasn’t rolled out to everyone just yet). From there, you’ll see the feed of content you posted in years past and have the option to share specific posts with your friends — but by default, only an individual user can see their On This Day feed. You can also then sign up for notifications so you remember to check it every day — that’s exactly what Timehop does to keep users coming back.

VIDEO: Facebook Testing ‘Phone’ App for Android – An accidental Facebook update revealed that the social network is testing a new Android app called Phone. Android Police was kind enough to take a screenshot of the update. It suggests that Facebook Phone could act as a native dialer that shows information about who is calling you, and prevent commonly blocked numbers from getting through.

wps3C61.tmp

The 10 Best Wireless Routers – Fast throughput speeds, good range, easy set up and manageability, a solid feature set, and, of course, fair pricing are what make a top router. The 10 models that follow strike the best balance among all our criteria.

GifGrabber is a dedicated app for creating GIFs on your Mac – Creating an animated image of content on your Mac’s screen is something we should all know how to do. And now we do.

wps3C90.tmp

Save your newly captured GIF, or edit it all within the app. Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

UglyEmail reveals when senders secretly track your email activity, personal info – If you’re curious about which messages are monitoring you and which one’s aren’t, a new extension for Chrome called UglyEmail can help. This extension—by developer Sonny Tulyaganov—monitors your inbox to find messages using pixel tracking. This is a common marketing technique where companies insert a transparent (and therefore invisible to you) one-pixel image into a message. As soon as you open a message with a pixel tracker in it, the image pings the marketer’s servers and the information flow begins. Pixel tracking shows up in all kinds of messages, including newsletters you subscribe to. Thanks to UglyEmail you can find out when a message has a tracker and decide not to open that email.

Security:

The National Power Grid Is Under Almost Continuous Attack, Report Says – The U.S. national power grid faces physical or online attacks approximately “once every four days,” according to a new investigation by USA Today, threatening to plunge parts of the country into darkness. For its report, USA Today scrutinized public records, national energy data and records from 50 electric utilities. It found that from 2011 to 2014, the U.S. Department of Energy received 362 reports from electric utilities of physical or cyber attacks that interrupted power services. In 2013, a Department of Homeland Security branch recorded 161 cyber attacks on the energy sector, compared to just 31 in 2011.

Flash-based vulnerability lingers on many websites three years later – A large number of developers have failed to patch their Flash applications against a vulnerability that can be exploited to target Web users.

Half of Android devices open to silent hijack – Hacker Zhi Xu has found that seemingly legitimate apps can unleash a hidden dark side to compromise almost half of all Android devices. The Palo Alto Networks senior engineer says legitimate Google Play apps can establish a kind of beachhead on devices that can be invaded by a second app installed from legitimate third party stores like Amazon. The second app provides the first with the required access to compromise devices and steal all manner of data. Xu says the attack dubbed Android Installer Hijacking allows crims to replace apps without a user’s knowledge.

Researchers figured out how to hack computers using heat – Researchers at Ben-Gurion University have created a new piece of malware called BitWhisper. It’s not the kind of thing that organized cybercriminals would ever use to attack your home computer. BitWhisper is the kind of crazy hacking tool that you read about in a sci-fi novel — only it’s very real. Infected machines can transmit data using heat they produce. Commands, for example, can be passed from one system to another by modulating its temperature. The target machine’s thermal sensors pick up on the fluctuations and execute a predefined action. Small bits of captured data (like passwords) can also be transmitted this way. It’s not the most efficient way to siphon data off a machine, but it’s not meant to be. BitWhisper targets air-gapped systems, computers that are completely isolated from wireless and wired networks in order to keep them as secure as possible.

wps3CD0.tmp

Dell support tool put PCs at risk of malware infection – Attackers could have remotely installed malware on systems running a flawed Dell support tool used to detect customers’ products. A security researcher discovered the flaw in November and reported it to the PC manufacturer, which patched it in January. However, it’s not clear if the fix closed all avenues for abuse. Even with the flaw now patched, the fact that it existed in the first place may make some users anxious. Suspicions of hardware and software companies helping governments spy on users have intensified over the past two years, partially fueled by revelations of widespread surveillance disclosed by former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

Company News:

Microsoft Malaysia is offering a free return flight on Air Asia when you buy a Lumia 535 – Microsoft has teamed up with Air Asia to give 5,000 airline loyalty points to anyone who buys the Lumia 535 in Malaysia – enough to get a return flight to Phuket, Krabi or Singapore.

wps3D00.tmp

Cyanogen’s next step: A BLU phone without Google apps – After amassing $80 million in funding, even without Microsoft’s help, and being valued at close to $1 billion, the tech world is keeping a close eye on Cyanogen, Inc. That, of course, is no reason for outspoken and, dare we say, almost belligerent CEO Kirt McMaster to start treading lightly and mincing words. In fact, he has fighting words: “We’re putting a bullet through Google’s head”, which is no small undertaking. And it’s all going to start with a smartphone that won’t have any of Google’s popular apps installed.

Google reportedly working on Gmail bill payment system – Google is continuing their email experiments, it seems. The latest isn’t a new way to get through your mail, as ‘Inbox’ is, but a method for making you stay put in your email app. A new report suggests Google is readying an in-email bill paying service named ‘Pony Express’ (hopefully just a code name), wherein Gmail users would be able to pay a bill electronically without ever leaving Gmail itself. If Google gives it the green-light, we’ll reportedly see Pony Express in the last quarter of this year.

wps3D2F.tmp

HP wants to make your devices sound better; partners with Bang & Olufsen – HP is teaming up with Bang & Olufsen in an effort to make their devices, even mobile ones, sound better. The partnership will see a few new features, including hardware changes, show up on laptops.

Games and Entertainment:

Amazon Fire TV gets a major update with support for hotel Wi-Fi, USB storage, and more – Users will be able to take their media streamer on the road, hook up external storage, and listen to more music through Prime Playlists.

wps3D8E.tmp

Xbox One and 360 Xbox Live Gold members “Deals of the Week” – As usual, it looks like Xbox One owners will be getting some great deals on some of the consoles latest titles that include: Forza Horizon 2, Evolve, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and WWE 2K15. Xbox 360 owners aren’t forgotten and although the game selection might not offer the latest titles, this week’s deals will see a up to 75% on titles like: XCOM: Enemy Unknown, XCOM: Enemy Within, Spec Ops: The Line, Duke Nukem Forever, Borderlands, Hitman Blood Money, Deus Ex Human Revolution, and Lara Croft & The Guardian of Light. Xbox 360 owners will also be able to get 50% off on WWE 2K15 and 35% off on Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.

wps3DBE.tmp

Bloodborne review: The joy of relearning what you already know – Make no mistake; Bloodborne is a Souls game in everything but name, sharing a development lineage in From Software and Director Hidetaka Miyazaki. From the controls to the way progress is lost upon death, the sound effects to the goofy ragdoll physics, anyone with a passing familiarity with the series will recognize Bloodborne as part of the same family. But Bloodborne marks a departure from the Souls name, even while keeping the series’ characteristic punishing repeat deaths, massive bosses, and environmental storytelling.

wps3E0D.tmp

Playing Bloodborne on a PS4 using an SSD could save hours of loading – This week the PS4 sees the release of a system seller game in the form of From Software’s Bloodborne. It looks gorgeous, the review scores we’ve seen are very high, and for fans of the Dark Souls games this release couldn’t come soon enough. However, you may want to consider upgrading your PS4 to use an SSD before installing the game, as it could knock hours off your play time. Bloodborne is a graphically intensive game, and that’s by no means a negative. It looks great, and for the most part manages to stick to a 30fps average frame rate. But that high level of detail comes at a price: load times

wps3E4C.tmp

X-Files 2015 guide: catching up with Mulder and Scully – This week it’s been confirmed by Fox and the original creator of the X-Files that a new series is about to be made. This new X-Files has tapped the original Agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) and Agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) to return for a 6-episode mini-season. For those of you ashamed at having never watched the original series or similarly ashamed that you’ve forgotten the details, the following miniature guide with gifs is made just for the likes of you.

wps3E7C.tmp

Off Topic (Sort of):

With Net Neutrality Lawsuit, Broadband Mafia Still Doesn’t Get It – We knew these lawsuits were coming. USTelecom, the trade group for broadband providers, has filed a rather peculiar pre-emptive lawsuit against the FCC’s new Open Internet rules, arguing that while USTelecom supports net neutrality, it doesn’t support the rules the FCC laid down to protect it. The specific argument is against Title II, utility-style regulation, but the FCC was forced into that when a court struck down its earlier, lighter set of rules in 2014. The real issue here is that the broadband industry, like everyone, would prefer to be self-policing. I’d also prefer to be self-policing. Wouldn’t you? Then you could decide what’s a crime for yourself, and decide whether you’d ever be punished.

How Bodies Were Buried During History’s Worst Epidemics – There’s a common belief that dead bodies pose a major risk of disease, which leads to a lot of hysteria during major epidemics. This is mostly a myth, studies have found. Even so, mass deaths during plagues have changed burial customs as people scrambled to prevent contamination or just find a place to put all the corpses. How do these pandemics alter the funeral practices in the affected areas during the outbreaks? I’ve been thinking a lot about these epidemics lately, and the way they alter the way people perceive death, so I examined three large and well-documented epidemics. One—the West Africa Ebola outbreak—is ongoing; the other two are historical.

wps3ECB.tmp

Spanish Flu, United States, 1918-1919

Australia found to have the world’s oldest asteroid impact zone – When we think of mass extinction, we tend to think of the asteroid impact that killed the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. That impact and its following mass extinction might not have been singular events. Australian scientist Dr. Andrew Glikson discovered twin asteroid impacts in Australia that may be ten times older than the dinosaur extinction. He has a theory that asteroid impacts throughout the history of the earth actually changed the way our planet and its species evolved, as each impact would have created an extinction and divergent species.

wps3F0A.tmp

This is what happens when a judge in New York orders an e-hit on a Chinese software biz – Fengtao is accused of breaking US laws by shipping software that circumvents the AACS encryption that’s supposed to prevent people from copying HD DVDs and Blu-ray discs. The Advanced Access Content System Licensing Administrator – a consortium that includes Disney, Intel, Microsoft, Panasonic, Warner Brothers, IBM, Toshiba and Sony, and looks after the AACS specification – is suing Fengtao to halt the distribution of DVDFab. The end result of this month’s injunction provides an intriguing insight into how internet companies, even those based outside America, respond to orders from US judges.

Something to think about:

“I have never been hurt by anything I didn’t say.”

–       Calvin Coolidge

Today’s Free Downloads:

SUPERAntiSpyware – Detect and Detect and Remove Spyware, Adware and Remove Malware, Trojans, Dialers, Worms, KeyLoggers, HiJackers, Parasites, Rootkits, Rogue Security Products and many other types of threats.

Advanced Detection and Removal

Detect and Remove Spyware, Adware and Remove Malware, Trojans, Dialers, Worms, KeyLoggers, HiJackers, Parasites, Rootkits, Rogue Security Products and many other types of threats.

Light on System Resources and won’t slow down your computer like many other anti-spyware products. Won’t conflict with your existing anti-spyware or anti-virus solution!

Repair broken Internet Connections, Desktops, Registry Editing and more with our unique Repair System!

Real-Time Protection

Real-Time Blocking of threats! Prevent potentially harmful software from installing or re-installing!

First Chance Prevention examines over 50 critical points of your system each time your system starts up and shuts down to eliminate threats before they have a chance to infect and infiltrate your system.

Schedule either Quick, Complete or Custom Scans Daily or Weekly to ensure your computer is free from harmful software. Remove spyware automatically.

wps3F59.tmp

Blender – Blender is a free and open source 3D animation suite. It supports the entirety of the 3D pipeline—modeling, rigging, animation, simulation, rendering, compositing and motion tracking, even video editing and game creation. Advanced users employ Blender’s API for Python scripting to customize the application and write specialized tools; often these are included in Blender’s future releases. Blender is well suited to individuals and small studios who benefit from its unified pipeline and responsive development process. Examples from many Blender-based projects are available in the showcase.

Blender is cross-platform and runs equally well on Linux, Windows and Macintosh computers. Its interface uses OpenGL to provide a consistent experience. To confirm specific compatibility, the list of supported platforms indicates those regularly tested by the development team.

As a community-driven project under the GNU General Public License (GPL), the public is empowered to make small and large changes to the code base, which leads to new features, responsive bug fixes, and better usability. Blender has no price tag, but you can invest, participate, and help to advance a powerful collaborative tool: Blender is your own 3D software.

wps3F7A.tmp

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Dutch service providers must delete retained telecom data – Dutch telecom providers have to delete data that had been retained under the now-scrapped data retention law, unless it is needed for business purposes.

The Dutch data retention law that required ISPs and telecommunications operators to store customer metadata for police investigations was scrapped by the District Court of the Hague earlier this month for violating fundamental privacy rights.

While most providers were quick to stop collecting the data, uncertainty remained about what should happen with the data that was already collected and stored when the law was in force.

However, all data retained because of the now defunct law should be deleted, Minister of Security and Justice Ard van der Steur wrote in a letter to Parliament. That includes data that was retained before the law was annulled, a ministry spokesman said.

We know where you’ve been: Ars acquires 4.6M license plate scans from the cops – If you have driven in Oakland any time in the last few years, chances are good that the cops know where you’ve been, thanks to their 33 automated license plate readers (LPRs). Now Ars knows too. In response to a public records request, we obtained the entire LPR dataset of the Oakland Police Department (OPD), including more than 4.6 million reads of over 1.1 million unique plates between December 23, 2010 and May 31, 2014. The dataset is likely one of the largest ever publicly released in the United States—perhaps in the world.

Police Advocacy Group Leaves Few Fingerprints – The Law Enforcement Alliance of America once had offices in a nearby office park, but it abandoned them more than a year ago. It hasn’t filed required IRS reports in two years, and its leaders, once visible on television and in congressional hearings, have all but vanished.

But the nonprofit that calls itself “the nation’s largest coalition of law enforcement professionals, crime victims and concerned citizens” still has teeth. It has succeeded in helping knock out 12 state-level candidates in 14 years, including an Arkansas judicial candidate last year. In doing so, the group helped launch the current governors of Texas and Nevada to their stepping-stone positions as state attorneys general.

The LEAA uses brute tactics — parachuting into otherwise small-dollar races close to the end and buying up TV ads that accuse candidates of siding with “baby killers” and sexual predators.

“They can put out some sort of horrible attack ad on any judges that they want and really influence an election with a fairly small amount of money,” former Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Oliver Diaz said. “They’re buying seats on supreme courts in states all around the country.”

Leave a comment

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 24, 2015

The undercover war on your internet secrets;  7 things to consider before canceling cable;  15 Amazing Apps That Will Ruin Your Life;   Avoid message trackers in Gmail;  Your Smartphone Could be Tracking You Every 3 Minutes;  Windows Store apps to cost more starting April;  How to run Windows software in Linux;  Instagram Launches Layout, Its Own Photo Collage App;  The 10 Best External Hard Drives;  Netflix Goes Live In Australia And New Zealand;  All four major browsers take a stomping at Pwn2Own;  Who Cares If Antivirus Works, As Long As It’s Low-Key;  Colorado 12-Year-Old Tries to Kill Mom for Taking iPhone;  Google Chairman says Glass ‘fundamental’ for Google;  First lawsuits against FCC’s net neutrality are filed;  Tech-savvy NYPD cop allegedly hacked NYPD computer and FBI database to run a con;  Tor Browser Bundle (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

The undercover war on your internet secrets: How online surveillance cracked our trust in the web – How the battle over privacy technologies could define the future of the web. This TechRepublic cover story explains the strange history and the serious consequences of the fight over encryption.

15 Amazing Apps That Will Ruin Your Life – There are some “productivity” apps that will suck you in and never let you go. Day after day, you’ll return to them, enjoy them, and then wonder “Where the hell did the time go?” They’re the empty calories of the app world. That doesn’t mean they’re not worth downloading; just beware that these apps (like these Websites to Avoid) don’t suck … but they will suck time.

Your Smartphone Could be Tracking You Every 3 Minutes, Study Says – Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University conducted a study where they asked 23 people to use their Android smartphones normally, and tracked location data requests from each device with specially designed software, the Wall Street Journal reports. The researchers found that many popular Android apps tracked their users an average 6,200 times per participant over a two-week period, or about every three minutes. Some of the apps came pre-installed on the phone, and were not as easily deleted, the WSJ reports.

7 things to consider before canceling cable – One of the biggest problems with traditional cable subscriptions is bundling — you have no choice but to pay for dozens of channels you never watch just to get the few you want. The ideal alternative would allow you to pick and choose just the channels you want. The reality is that cutting cable does not eliminate bundling. Whether you switch to Netflix, Amazon Prime, Sling TV or any other option, you’ll still pay for shows that go unwatched.

YouTube Autoplay rolls out, here’s how to turn it off – Websites get more traffic and, in some cases, more money, the longer you stay on their site and the more you get hooked on their content. On YouTube, that equates to watching more and more videos without having to stray away from the page. And what better way to do that than by enticing you video after video after video. That’s right, YouTube’s once experimental Autoplay feature is now rolling out to all users to keep you from getting bored, or escaping. Fortunately, it’s easy to turn it off.

Chrome: Avoid message trackers in Gmail –  As Ghacks.net points out, Gmail does try to help you avoid trackers, but it doesn’t catch them all. Instead, a tracker-blocking extension, and a few adjustments to the way you read Gmail messages, are the most convenient methods to dodge many of the available tracker services. Here’s how to get started:

wps5ADC.tmp

PixelBlock running in Gmail. Screenshot by Nicole Cozma/CNET

The 10 Best External Hard Drives – For under $100, you can add a terabyte or more of data storage to your laptop desktop, or tablet. But which to choose? There’s a lot consider—desktop- or laptop-class, traditional spinning or SSD are only a couple of factors—so finding the perfect hard drive for your use can seem overwhelming. That’s where we come in. We narrow down your choices to the 10 best external hard drives on the market.

10 obscure, highly specialized browsers that will make you forget about Chrome, Firefox, and IE – There’s a wide world of alternative browsers out there, all fighting for your attention with unique features and specializations in gaming, privacy, media consumption, and more. There’s even something to appeal to old-school Internet users. If you’re looking to shake up your web surfing experience, here’s a look at 10 great browsers not named Firefox, Chrome, or Internet Explorer.

Windows Store apps to cost more starting April – Due to the strengthening of the US dollar, Microsoft has updated its pricing tiers for Windows Store apps and in-app purchases. Unfortunately this means prices in other currencies will be hiked.

Windows 10 might not peacefully coexist with other OS – It seems that Microsoft is developing a pattern lately. After a flood of good news comes the fine print and some sad, if not worrying, follow ups. First it was the speculation that the lure of a free Windows 10 upgrade for pirated copies of Windows might not be so sweet after all. Now it seems that Microsoft will potentially ostracize another group of computer users: those who dual boot operating systems. Slides from its presentation in China seem to hint that Microsoft won’t block OEM’s from prohibiting users from disabling secure boot.

Windows System Restore: You can adjust this utility to save your PC image more often – Just about any new problem that makes Windows behave badly can be fixed by opening Windows’ System Restore and returning to an earlier time. But this only works if you have a restore point that was created before the unfortunate changes. So you need to take control of how often Windows creates these points.

How to run Windows software in Linux: Everything you need to know – Linux is more capable than ever. With over 1000 Linux games available on Steam and a general shift towards more web-based desktop software, there’s less need for Windows than ever. After all, you can now watch Netflix on Linux without any hacks, and you can even use Microsoft Office on Linux—a web-based version of it, at least. But, as most dedicated Linux desktop users will eventually discover, there comes a time when you just need to run a particular piece of Windows software on your Linux PC. There are quite a few ways to do so. Here’s what you need to know.

Instagram Launches Layout, Its Own Photo Collage App – Instagram today announced the debut of a new application called Layout, the company’s next standalone creation tool outside of its flagship photo-sharing application. With Layout, Instagram users will be able to quickly build collages using their mobile photos, which they can then choose to share to Instagram, Facebook, or elsewhere.

wps5B3B.tmp

Netflix Goes Live In Australia And New Zealand, Its First Launches In Asia Pacific – Netflix spoke of aggressive international expansion ambitions in January, and a major step towards its two-year globalization plan was taken today when its video-on-demand service went live in Australia and New Zealand. Customers in Oceania can pay A$8.99 (US$7) per month for standard access to its catalog. HD and 4K quality streams are charged at A$11.99 (US$9.40) and A$14.99 ($11.77) respectively. Those in Australia will suffer from a somewhat streamlined selection of content, initially at least.

Twitter quietly introduces abusive language filter – Twitter has been busy trying to stem the flood of abusive users and trolls, the latter of which it has been given a lot of grief over in recent times. Among its different efforts is a new one the social network has rolled out without much fanfare: a filtering tool that allows verified users in particular to filter out tweets containing abusive language. Verified users have been reporting seeing it roll out, and it appears that it is only available for the iOS mobile app at this time, though it’ll likely be appearing elsewhere in the future.

Adobe builds new features straight into Microsoft’s browser – A partnership advances Adobe’s technology ideas while making Microsoft’s Project Spartan more competitive. For the rest of us, expect a more graphically rich Web.

Security:

All four major browsers take a stomping at Pwn2Own hacking competition – The annual Pwn2Own hacking competition wrapped up its 2015 event in Vancouver with another banner year, paying $442,000 for 21 critical bugs in all four major browsers, as well as Windows, Adobe Flash, and Adobe Reader. Despite huge leaps in secure code, nothing is immune when hackers are motivated. In all, this year’s Pwn2Own unearthed five bugs in Windows, four bugs in IE 11, three bugs in Mozilla Firefox, three bugs in Reader, three bugs in Flash, two bugs in Safari, and one bug in Chrome. To qualify, winning bugs must be previously unknown and have the ability to break through anti-exploit defenses.

Google warns of unauthorized TLS certificates trusted by almost all OSes – In the latest security lapse involving the Internet’s widely used encryption system, Google said unauthorized digital certificates have been issued for several of its domains and warned misissued credentials may be impersonating other unnamed sites as well. The bogus transport layer security certificates are trusted by all major operating systems and browsers, although a fall-back mechanism known as public key pinning prevented the Chrome and Firefox browsers from accepting those that vouched for the authenticity of Google properties, Google security engineer Adam Langley wrote in a blog post published Monday.

Twitch Resets All User Passwords After Suffering Data Breach – Twitch, the immensely popular livestreaming service for gamers that was acquired last year by Amazon in a nearly $1 billion deal, confirmed today that it has suffered a security breach that may have resulted in unauthorized access to a number of user accounts. The company is now forcing all of its users to change their passwords.

Hacking bios chips isn’t just the nsa’s domain anymore – THE ABILITY TO hack the BIOS chip at the heart of every computer is no longer reserved for the NSA and other three-letter agencies. Millions of machines contain basic BIOS vulnerabilities that let anyone with moderately sophisticated hacking skills compromise and control a system surreptitiously, according to two researchers. The revelation comes two years after a catalogue of NSA spy tools leaked to journalists in Germany surprised everyone with its talk about the NSA’s efforts to infect BIOS firmware with malicious implants.

New malware program PoSeidon targets point-of-sale systems – The new malware program has been dubbed PoSeidon by researchers from Cisco’s Security Solutions (CSS) team and, like most point-of-sale Trojans, it scans the RAM of infected terminals for unencrypted strings that match credit card information — a technique known as memory scraping. This sensitive information is available in plain text in the memory of a PoS system while it’s being processed by the specialized merchant software running on the terminal.

Wind turbine blown away by control system vulnerability – It had to happen, we suppose: since even a utility-grade wind turbine might ship with a handy Webby control interface, someone was bound to do it badly. That’s what’s emerged in a new ICS-CERT advisory: CVE-2015-0985 details how turbines from US manufacturer XZERES allow the user name and password can be retrieved from the company’s 442 SR turbine. As the advisory notes, “This exploit can cause a loss of power for all attached systems”.

Tech-savvy NYPD cop allegedly hacked NYPD computer and FBI database to run a con – An NYPD auxiliary cop was busted for allegedly installing a hidden camera in a cable TV box, so he could check if the coast was clear, before remotely accessing a police computer and using off-duty cops’ usernames and passwords to log into databases. He supposedly ran 6,400 queries, acting as an ambulance-chasing attorney when contacting accident victims. Yehuda Katz, the alleged con man taking kickbacks, was arrested last week for using “his position as an auxiliary officer to hack into restricted computers and networks in order to obtain the personal information of thousands of citizens in a scheme to enrich himself through fraud.”

Who Cares If Antivirus Works, As Long As It’s Low-Key – Rather than blindly run the same tests year after year, the researchers at AV-Comparatives regularly survey consumers to make sure their tests hit the criteria that matter. Interestingly, low performance impact was more important to users than thorough malware cleanup.

Cisco small business phones open to remote eavesdropping, calling – An authentication flaw allows attackers to listed to audio streams and make calls from Cisco SPA 300 and 500 IP phones

Company News:

US judge orders seizure of foreign domains owned by Chinese company – A federal judge in New York has ordered dozens of global domains owned by the Chinese company Fengtao Software to be seized, for its social media accounts to be blocked, and for payment processors to cut off their services to the company. It’s not clear how he hopes to enforce that ruling: even if domain registrars in Japan and Germany are willing to implement the order, it’s hard to see one in China helping a US judge shut down a Chinese company.

Microsoft Signs 11 Agreements With OEMs To Bring Office To More Android Handsets And Tablets – Microsoft has broadened a previously announced agreement with Samsung to preinstall its software on the latter firm’s hardware it announced today, and landed nearly a dozen separate, similar arrangements with other OEMs including Dell. As a company, Microsoft is pursuing an increasingly cross-platform software strategy, one in which it is content to ensure that its applications are suited for rival platforms, such as Android.

Google Chairman says Glass ‘fundamental’ for Google – Is Google Glass dead, or do we just wish it were? When Google demolished the ‘Explorer program’ for Google Glass, they quickly seated Glass under the watchful eye of Tony Fadell, who heads up Google’s de facto hardware arm, Nest. Over time, various talking heads have said Glass wasn’t gone, just regrouping. The latest to chime in is former Google CEO and current Chairman Eric Schmidt, who calls Glass “fundamental” for Google, and says Fadell and his team are going to “make it ready for users”.

Games and Entertainment:

iOS Game Mr Jump Leaps To 5M Downloads After Four Days On The App Store – The game from France’s 1Button has already racked up 5 million downloads in just four days, and its simple in-app purchase and ad-based revenue model is earning its developers five-figure revenues on a daily basis, without having to resort to “pay-to-win” mechanics. The game keeps play simple – it’s a one-button platform title, meaning all a user has to do is tap the screen and the appropriate point. A tap results in a jump, with the length and height of the jump variable based on how long you tap. The player character, Mr Jump, moves of his own accord from left to right across a scrolling, simply colored blocky environment, and your goal is to avoid the various spikes, pitfalls and other dangers that impede his progress.

Battlefield Hardline review: an odd, cops-and-robbers facade – Like its predecessors, Hardline is larger, slower, and much more open than most of the multiplayer shooters that follow in the footsteps of Modern Warfare’s success. If you haven’t played Battlefield in a while (or outright skipped Battlefield 4 thanks to the horror stories about glitches and server issues), it might be an adjustment. It’s the kind of game where running around like an idiot without checking your environment will get you killed incredibly quickly. Snipers line every fire escape and rooftop, ready to pick you off unseen from 100 meters out if you’re not careful. Helicopters are shot down seconds after takeoff. If you’re not paying attention to your minimap, sweeping the horizon for targets, and ducking from cover to cover, it’s a safe bet you’ll be gunned down almost immediately. In short: It’s Battlefield.

wps5B9A.tmp

Off Topic (Sort of):

FTC opens new office to protect you from the Internet of Things – The FTC says it’ll be broadening its scope with the launch of a new Office of Technology Research and Investigation, described by the agency as “the next generation in consumer protection.” In 2015, we’re faced with the growing Internet of Things, cars that get faster with software updates, and the expanding smart home. The FTC thinks now’s the time to widen its net so that it may protect consumer interest across every facet of technology. Specifically, the OTRI will keep an eye on “privacy, data security, connected cars, smart homes, algorithmic transparency, emerging payment methods, big data, and the Internet of Things,” according to the agency.

First lawsuits against FCC’s net neutrality are filed – The FCC just announced its ruling on net neutrality last month, and lawsuits are hitting the agency right off the bat. The FCC declared that the Internet is a utility, which allows the government to regulate it. As such, the FCC created net neutrality rules which treat all web traffic equally. Well, no one likes being told what to do, especially by the government. The telecom industry is up in arms over the FCC’s net neutrality ruling, and now the lawsuits are beginning to trickle in. These lawsuits are part of an industry-wide effort to overturn what private companies believe are the FCC’s unlawful regulations.

Boeing scores patent for blast-inhibiting force fields – Our the-stuff-of-fiction future is becoming ever brighter, and newest to flesh it out is a new patent scored by Boeing, which has apparently set its sights on force fields. The patent details a technology that would create force fields somewhat similar to what we’ve seen in movies like Star Wars, though they won’t work quite the same. Rather than taking the impacts from objects, they’ll absorb or otherwise inhibit the shockwaves that result from a blast, helping keep the blast contained while protecting nearby people and structures from the damage that could result.

wps5BF8.tmp

Mercedes to release 10 new plug-in hybrids by 2017 – Luxury auto maker Mercedes-Benz has just announced that it will be greatly expanding its lineup of plug-in hybrid models by launching 10 new vehicles between now and 2017. As of now only two models are confirmed for sale in the U.S., but with an aggressive worldwide release of 10 hybrids, it means Mercedes will average a new model every four months. To solidify the company’s investment in hybrids, Mercedes is simplifying their branding, dropping the “Plug-in Hybrid” suffix to just add “e” to end of model names.

Colorado 12-Year-Old Tries to Kill Mom for Taking iPhone – According to reports, a 12-year-old from Boulder, Colorado was arrested on Friday following accusations that she attempted to poison her mother for taking away the girl’s iPhone. These kinds of things tend to go beyond warranting a trip to time out, or a further reduction in privileges. As you might expect, the mother contacted police, told them the deal, and investigators ultimately took the girl into custody. Charges haven’t been filed just yet, though the 12-year-old is currently being held in a juvenile detention facility.

Kaspersky, Bloomberg Spar Over KGB Allegations – Eugene Kaspersky, head of Russia-based security software supplier Kaspersky Lab, is fighting allegations that his company has “close ties” to Russian spies. Last week, Bloomberg Business published an article accusing Kaspersky Lab of excluding Russia from reports examining electronic espionage by the United States, Israel, and the United Kingdom.

Something to think about:

“I am the only one who can make America truly great again”

–    Donald Trump

Today’s Free Downloads:

Audacity – Audacity is a free, easy-to-use, multi-track audio editor and recorder. The interface is translated into many languages.

You can use Audacity to:

Record live audio.

Record computer playback on any Windows Vista or later machine.

Convert tapes and records into digital recordings or CDs.

Edit WAV, AIFF, FLAC, MP2, MP3 or Ogg Vorbis sound files.

Cut, copy, splice or mix sounds together.

Change the speed or pitch of a recording.

And more!

wps5C38.tmp

Tor Browser Bundle – Protect your privacy. Defend yourself against network surveillance and traffic analysis.

The Tor software protects you by bouncing your communications around a distributed network of relays run by volunteers all around the world: it prevents somebody watching your Internet connection from learning what sites you visit, it prevents the sites you visit from learning your physical location, and it lets you access sites which are blocked.

The Tor Browser Bundle lets you use Tor on Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux without needing to install any software. It can run off a USB flash drive, comes with a pre-configured web browser to protect your anonymity, and is self-contained.

wps5C67.tmp

wps5C97.tmp

Screen shots from a personal system

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Documents Reveal Canada’s Secret Hacking Tactics – Canada’s electronic surveillance agency has secretly developed an arsenal of cyberweapons capable of stealing data and destroying adversaries’ infrastructure, according to newly revealed classified documents.

Communications Security Establishment, or CSE, has also covertly hacked into computers across the world to gather intelligence, breaking into networks in Europe, Mexico, the Middle East and North Africa, the documents show.

The revelations, reported Monday by CBC News in collaboration with The Intercept, shine a light for the first time on how Canada has adopted aggressive tactics to attack, sabotage and infiltrate targeted computer systems.

The latest disclosures come as the Canadian government debates whether to hand over more powers to its spies to disrupt threats as part of the controversial anti-terrorism law, Bill C-51.

New Zealand Spied on WTO Director Candidates – New Zealand launched a covert surveillance operation targeting candidates vying to be director general of the World Trade Organization, a top-secret document reveals.

In the period leading up to the May 2013 appointment, the country’s electronic eavesdropping agency programmed an Internet spying system to intercept emails about a list of high-profile candidates from Brazil, Costa Rica, Ghana, Indonesia, Jordan, Kenya, Mexico and South Korea.

New Zealand’s trade minister, Tim Groser, was one of nine candidates in contention for the position at the WTO, a powerful international organization based in Geneva, Switzerland that negotiates trade agreements between nations. The surveillance operation, carried out by Government Communications Security Bureau, or GCSB, appears to have been part of a secret effort to help Groser win the job.

Groser ultimately failed to get the position.

A top-secret document obtained by The Intercept and the New Zealand Herald reveals how GCSB used the XKEYSCORE Internet surveillance system to collect communications about the WTO director general candidates.

India’s Supreme Court Strikes Down Controversial Internet Censorship Law – Today is a good day for freedom of speech in India. The country’s Supreme Court struck down an ambiguous law that could be used to imprison citizens for content that they post online.

NDTV reports that Section 66A of the Information Technology Act was declared unconstitutional at a session held this morning. The court added that the controversial law, which first came into existence in 2000, is “vague in its entirety” and in violation of existing free speech laws.

Snowden should be allowed a public interest defense, say European lawmakers – A group of European lawmakers has called on the US government (PDF) to allow the whistleblower Edward Snowden to return to the US from Russia “without fear of criminal prosecution under conditions that would not allow him to raise the public interest defense.” A post on the Open Society Foundations blog explains that Snowden faces up to 30 years of imprisonment under the US Espionage Act of 1917, which does not allow a public interest defense to avoid or mitigate any penalties.

The call comes in a resolution by the Legal Affairs Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. The Parliamentary Assembly is made up of 318 representatives from the national parliaments of the Council of Europe’s members. This is significant, Open Society Foundations says, since it “marks the first time that any inter-governmental body has called on the United States not to prosecute Snowden unless he is afforded the opportunity to raise a public interest defense.”

2 Comments

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 20, 2015

FTC report: Google caused ‘real harm to consumers’;  Web Pegged as Bad for Morals by Surfers in Emerging Countries;  Signature antivirus’ dirty little secret;  Snowden: IT workers are now target of spies;  Amazon gives you 34 paid Android apps and games, all free;  Save form data as you type it in Chrome, Firefox with Lazarus;  Windows 10 on pirated versions won’t get you a valid license;  Apple TV revisited: 4 reasons to buy it, 4 reasons to skip it;  Fix Netflix’s User Interface With God Mode;  FAA Grants Amazon Permission To Test Drone Deliveries;  PlayStation Vue: here’s what you need to know;  The iPhone’s best new puzzle game is about NSA surveillance;  Will robots take our jobs and overpower us?  The CIA Just Declassified the Document That Supposedly Justified the Iraq Invasion;  Restore Point Creator  (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

FTC report: Google caused ‘real harm to consumers’ – A 160 page FTC report from a couple years ago has made the light of day through an open-records request, and in it we see Google held in a harsh, often damning light. The report reveals that it was recommended that the FTC sue Google over three of the Internet giant’s practices, something that would have — had it gone through — ended up being one of the biggest antitrust cases since the similar suit against Microsoft in the 90s. Among other things, the report says Google both has and will harm consumers and innovation with some of its actions.

Web Pegged as Bad for Morals by Surfers in Emerging Countries – As the Internet lays down roots across the globe, people in emerging countries are welcoming the Web’s positive impacts, but are just as wary of what they perceive as its negative influence on morals. According to a new Pew Research Center study, a majority of folks across 32 developing nations count the Web as beneficial for education, personal relationships, and the economy. When it comes to politics and morality, however, the online maelstrom is viewed by many as a negative influence.

wpsA835.tmp

Amazon gives you 34 paid Android apps and games, all free, in birthday blowout – Amazon is at it again, this time gifting you $105 worth of free Android apps and games. The fire sale is to celebrate the fourth anniversary of the Amazon Appstore, it’s rival to Google Play. While the apps work on Amazon’s Fire tablets, they can also be used on most Android devices, as long as you install the Amazon Appstore on your phone or tablet. The sale is good through March 21. Downloading any of these offerings also enters you into a contest to win a $25,000 shopping spree from Amazon. Here’s the full list of all the apps and games available, including their original price.

Upgrading to Windows 10 on pirated versions won’t get you a valid license -Yesterday Microsoft announced plans to allow pirated versions of Windows to upgrade to Windows 10 once the new operating system launches. Now the company has clarified some of its statements and the picture is a bit less rosy. Unfortunately, the company had scaled back a bit on its plans saying that the free upgrade, though available, won’t actually change the license state of a user’s OS. In plain speak this means that if you were running a pirated copy of Windows, you’ll still be running a pirated copy even after upgrading to Windows 10. This move seems counterproductive though, or rather self-sabotaging.

Save form data as you type it in Chrome, Firefox with Lazarus – If you’re filling out your car insurance quote form, writing a comment on a blog or filling in payment details for food delivery, it’s annoying to lose what you’ve already entered because of a server error or accidental mouse click. For situations like these, there’s an extension for Chrome called Lazarus. This extension will save the data you type into those pesky textboxes, and will allow you to re-add it with just a couple of clicks. It’s not new, but you may wonder how you’ve had the patience to continue filling out online forms without it. Here’s how to get started:

Find out where to flee zombies with awesome online simulator – Choose a spot on the map where the first zombie hits America, adjust your parameters and watch the infection grow.

wpsA874.tmp

Almost 223 hours into a zombie outbreak that started in the Southeast. Time to head to Alaska! Screenshot by Michael Franco/CNET

After hitting Raspberry Pi 2, Windows 10 will head to Qualcomm’s board – Raspberry Pi 2 has been the only announced option for enthusiasts looking to make electronics using Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 10, but Qualcomm is now offering its DragonBoard 410c as an alternative. The credit card-size DragonBoard 410c is a board computer that Qualcomm has priced at around US$75, which is double that of the $35 Raspberry Pi 2. But with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and 64-bit ARM CPUs, the Qualcomm board has a blend of horsepower, graphics and location-tracking capabilities not found on other board computers.

Here’s the hardware that will power Windows-based robots and connected homes – Microsoft has big plans for spreading Windows beyond phones, tablets, and PCs, and it’s just started talking about the hardware options. In a blog post, Microsoft revealed a few different chipsets that will support Windows 10 IoT, an initiative to bring Windows to new product categories such as connected homes, wearables, robots, and DIY computing kits. As Microsoft has already promised , the “Internet of Things” version of Windows will be free for “Makers” and device builders.

wpsA8A4.tmp

Fix Netflix’s User Interface With God Mode – Ever spend more time looking for something to watch on Netflix than actually watching something on Netflix? That’s because of the site’s addiction to brevity. Titles are hidden by sliding bars that requires clicking to reveal more titles. This bookmarklet fixes the issue. It’s called God Mode and I love it. Just pop the bookmarklet into your bookmark bar and load Netflix. Once logged in, click the bookmark button to expand all the sliding bars into grids of movies. It’s not as pretty, but damn is easier to use.

Apple is ignoring a major problem with MacBook screen stains – You may remember back in late 2012, MacBook owners were reporting ghosting problems on their Retina Displays. However, Apple didn’t class that type of ghosting as worthy of repair much to the frustration of users who’d spent thousands purchasing the laptops. Well it’s happening again, but this time instead of ghosting, the display on some MacBooks can develop severe staining. And guess what? Apple is claiming this counts as cosmetic damage and therefore not covered under warranty. The problem for Apple is the fact this isn’t a problem only a handful of MacBook owners are experiencing. As of today, 443 people have complained, and a website has been created called Staingate to highlight the issue.

wpsA8E4.tmp

Don’t Follow The Leader: These Phones and Carriers Could Make You Happier – If you’re on a great, big wireless carrier, with the same phone that millions of other people have, you need to look at switching. Tiny companies you’ve never heard of may be able to satisfy you in a way the big guys just can’t. That’s the message of our Reader’s Choice survey this year, and it’s empowering. It’s empowering because the little guys are competition, and when they compete, they drag everyone forward. They improve options and lower prices for everyone. Check them out. Even if you don’t switch, call up your carrier and threaten; it should be on notice.

Flickr Tab for Chrome brings beautiful pictures to your new tab – If you don’t already use Yahoo’s Weather app, I’d humbly suggest you start right now. In addition to being accurate, it feeds you info in a really neat format. The app also uses Flickr images as its background, which are just phenomenal and contextual pieces of art that will have you opening the app over and over. If you’re using google’s Chrome browser, Yahoo just unleashed an extension that lets you display brilliant Flickr images in new tabs as a background image.

Pixelmator for iPad sees massive update; new tools, tons of fixes – When Apple launched the iPad Air 2, they ushered the team at Pixelmator onto the stage to showcase their new iPad-only photo editing app. If you’ve not yet used Pixelmator on the iPad — it’s about as good as it gets for mobile photo editing (and image creation!). Forgoing the list of filters many others want to feed you, Pixelmator is a bit more ‘pro’ than most other iPad photo editing tools. Today, an update brings in much more functionality, and some new tools for users to check out.

Windows Live Mail stores your messages, but where? Here’s how to find them – Dig into Live Mail’s settings to manage email storage and other handy features.

Slack for Windows exits beta – Popular business-communication tool Slack has finally got on board with Windows. The well-funded start-up just released a desktop app for Windows 7 and up (including the Windows 10 technical preview). Slack is part of a new generation of business-focused communication tools that function as all-in-one messaging platforms. Instead of spreading your team across instant messaging apps and email, Slack wants to replace both with capabilities for quick or long-form messaging, and the ability to easily attach files for others to access.

Apple TV revisited: 4 reasons to buy it, 4 reasons to skip it – Apple TV sometimes feels like the black sheep of Cupertino, but it got some love last week when Apple dropped the price to $69. That’s $30 cheaper than the original price, making Apple TV just a little more competitive with media streamers from Roku, Amazon, and Google. If you need a streaming set-top box and have Apple TV back on your radar, allow me to help break it down.

Security:

Signature antivirus’ dirty little secret – If you rely only on traditional, signature-based antivirus, you are going to get infected—and probably a lot! Antivirus was, and still is, a valuable addition to your layered security strategy, but only if you understand its limitations, which have become more and more prominent over time.

Poorly managed password security poured fuel on hacker fire in 2014 – While enterprises are overlooking these building blocks, hackers surely are not, according to the IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Quarterly released this week. The report said users with predictable or weak passwords, and passwords reused across the Internet and the enterprise continue to be fertile ground for launching data breaches. It’s the weakest link in the chain; end-users (and often IT admins) opting for ease-of-use over security. It’s a reality that continues to lengthen the poor track record of the password, and on the bright side could help hasten new authentication methods. The report says the millions of email address and plain-text passwords collected by hackers over the years are the starting points for compromising new sites, making password reuse a fatal flaw of end-users who are putting themselves at risk for brute-force attacks against their accounts.

wpsA913.tmp

You need to apply the OpenSSL patches today, not tomorrow – At first glance, you might not think that the latest set of OpenSSL security patches are that important. Sure, there’s a dozen of them and two are serious, but are they really that bad? Yes, actually they’re not just bad, they’re awful. True, some operating systems, such as Red Hat Linux Enterprise (RHEL), aren’t greatly impacted by these latest problems. But if you’re using any operating system that uses OpenSSL 1.0.2 or OpenSSL versions: 1.0.1, 1.0.0 and 0.9.8, it’s another story.

Amazon doesn’t want you to know how many data demands it gets – Google, Microsoft and Apple have reported on data demands received from the US government. So why has Amazon kept quiet all this time?

Company News:

T-Mobile violated US labor laws, agency judge rules – T-Mobile, known for bashing its competitors in the wireless business, is in hot water for the treatment of its own employees. One of the nation’s largest wireless carriers violated federal labor laws by illegally restricting employees from discussing basic workplace issues like wages and suppressing their attempts to organize, according to Christine Dibble, an administrative law judge for the National Labor Relations Board, an independent federal agency created to enforce labor laws.

HBO, Showtime, and Sony want an Internet fast lane for TV streaming – In the wake of the FCC’s Net Neutrality vote, all web content is created equal. However, nothing is every black and white, and there is a new gray area when it comes to managed services. HBO, Showtime, and Sony Corp. are pushing for their streaming content to be treated separately and have talked to Comcast Corp. about being included in their separate data lane for “managed services.”

Opera Buys SurfEasy To Add Secure VPN Services To Its Browser Software – Opera, makers of a suite of software for browsing the web on mobile and desktop devices used by some 350 million consumers, has made another acquisition to build out the services it offers to users. It has acquired SurfEasy, makers of a virtual private network (VPN) app that lets users browse the web more securely. This is Opera’s first security-focused acquisition, and it is made in the context of a growing demand among consumers not just for easy and cheap ways to browse the internet — a market that Opera has squarely played into up to now — but also more private ways of doing so.

Google reportedly blackmailed websites into giving it content for free – In 2012, the Federal Trade Commission investigated Google to determine whether the company’s monopoly on the search market violated anti-trust laws. The Commission ultimately accepted a settlement with the search giant, but a confidential FTC report obtained by The Wall Street Journal reveals how deeply divided the Commission was over whether to sue. As part of the settlement, Google agreed to make minor changes to its business practices and argued that the report did not show wrongdoing. But key FTC officials, after collecting nine million documents in the course of the investigation, wanted to take direct legal action against the company. The report reveals why.

FAA Grants Amazon Permission To Test Drone Deliveries – The FAA just released a statement indicating that Amazon now has limited permission to test and develop drones in the United States. It’s not a blank check, though. The FAA gave Amazon strict rules and regulations. Amazon announced its drone ambitions in October 2013 and has since been grounded by the FAA. The federal agency was not as enthusiastic about Amazon’s plans, forcing the company to test its projects overseas. Since then, Amazon has been building and developing its drone project at Cambridge. Today’s news could bring the operation back to the states.

Games and Entertainment:

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare’s DLC ‘Ascendance’ hits Xbox on March 31 – The second Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare DLC — titled “Ascendance” — will be arriving on March 31 for the Xbox One and the Xbox 360, it has been announced. PlayStation gamers will be forced to wait an extra month before it drops, but it looks to be worth the wait. Activision and Sledgehammer Games have detailed what the latest expansion will bring with it, and that includes the second chapter for the Exo Zombies mode and new weapons, among other things.

wpsA962.tmp

Dead Trigger 2 is coming soon to Windows devices – Dead Trigger 2, the sequel to Dead Trigger, is an extremely popular game that has been available on Facebook, Android and iOS for quite some time. If you haven’t heard of it yet, it’s a mission based zombie-themed first person shooter with cutting edge graphics and superb controls. Although it’s not an open-world game, it does allow players to move and aim their guns at the walking dead. The great news is that after spending nearly two years on other platforms, the game is coming very soon to Windows devices as well.

wpsA992.tmp

Watch This EVE: Valkyrie Trailer To Get A Taste Of What Space Combat Is Like In VR – It is very hard to convey how cool virtual reality experiences are if you haven’t had a chance to try it out for yourself using devices like the Oculus Rift, but this new EVE: Valkyrie trailer does a pretty good job. For added immersive effect, take your phone, put it at the bottom of a sock, and stretch the sock over your face while watching the above in full-screen mode. Or, you can take us at our word that experiencing this type of action in VR would, in fact, be mind-blowing.

wpsA9D2.tmp

The iPhone’s best new puzzle game is about NSA surveillance – The most popular mobile games don’t demand much from you. You can zone out to Candy Crush Saga, and games like Threes only require your attention for short bursts. Out of sight, out of mind is a fine summation of my mobile gaming habit. TouchTone goes in a different direction. At its core it’s a series of logic puzzles, much like every other game on your smartphone; the difference is how they’re framed. In the game, you’re not solving puzzles in search of a high score to best your friends, but instead hacking into the personal emails and texts of ordinary citizens. The surveillance theme makes it feel completely different than anything else on the App Store.

wpsA9F2.tmp

Watch Magic Leap’s Video Of Seamless Augmented Reality Office Game Play – The brief video shows examples of interacting with YouTube and Gmail apps, along with browsing a menu system for OS-level interaction. The person in the video from whose perspective it’s apparently shot then selects a shooter game, tests out a weapon after choosing from a variety of options, does some tower-defence style stuff by placing a current and fights some visually impressive but fairly generic baddies.

wpsAA31.tmp

PlayStation Vue: here’s what you need to know – Sony’s newest TV-based venture is PlayStation Vue, a system that works specifically on their PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 gaming devices. Now that we’re well and away from the launch of the PS4, a device that Sony assured the public was a “gamer-centric” system back in 2013, it’s time to get serious about bringing on television services. For the time being, PlayStation Vue – a TV channel service – will be available to Chicago, New York City, and Philadelphia only, though more cities are on the way in the near future.

Off Topic (Sort of):

What is TV contrast ratio? – Contrast ratio is one of the most important aspects of picture quality, yet it’s poorly understood and often not even mentioned on TV specification sheets anymore. Here’s what you need to know.

wpsAA51.tmp

Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

There may be more Earth-like planets than grains of sand on all our beaches – The fascinating question of whether we are alone in the universe basically comes down to some intricate mathematical calculations. A new study combines exoplanet data from the Kepler Space Telescope with a new version of a 250-year-old method for determining orbital periods and positions of planets. The research calculates that in our galaxy alone, there could be billions of planets hosting liquid water, habitable conditions and perhaps even life.

wpsAAA0.tmp

The CIA Just Declassified the Document That Supposedly Justified the Iraq Invasion – The National Intelligence Assessment was the classified document used to justify the invasion of Iraq. Newly declassified, it tells a much different story than the Bush administration told 12 years ago.

Arizona shooting victim stops to snap selfies of his wounds – After being shot in the shoulder in Mesa, Ariz., on Wednesday, a student decides it would be a good idea to stop and snap a few selfies.

wpsAAFF.tmp

Will robots take our jobs and overpower us? Bill Gates has some concerns – When anyone speaks of a twin threat, I tend to hear portentous music just behind my head. When that person is Bill Gates, a thumping begins inside my head. The Microsoft co-founder is another, you see, who worries about Robotworld. He is concerned that too many things might go wrong. For humanity, that is. Speaking to Re/Code after a TED talk Wednesday, Gates offered two threat scenarios, both of which are deeply uncomfortable.

The Surprising New Tech in March Madness Refs’ Whistles – This March Madness, a ref’s whistle blast will instantly stop the game clock, thanks to a a new technology that detects the shrill cry above the din of the crowd. The technology relies on a breakthrough in whistle design, the New York Times reports.

Something to think about:

“One of the risks inherent in the steady flow of leaks from Mr. Snowden and others is that the new reality they portray eventually becomes accepted, if not outright banal. Of course we are being surveilled all the time; of course our location is being tracked thanks to the GPS chips in our phones; of course the NSA is installing “back door” software on our Internet devices before we even buy them. At this point, it’s hard to imagine a surveillance revelation that would actually surprise anyone, no matter how Orwellian.”

–     Mathew IngramThe Globe and Mail

Today’s Free Downloads:

Restore Point Creator – Create and manage System Restore Points quickly and easily, all from a free simple program. No more drilling through multiple menus in Windows just to create a System Restore Point, now all you have to do is run this program and that’s it. Follow the simple program layout and you have your System Restore Point created in no time at all.

Plus, for users of Windows 7 and Windows 8, creating System Restore Points is even quicker and easier with this program. Just pin this program to the Taskbar and you have the ability to quickly create System Restore Points using one of the two pinned Tasks (“Create System Checkpoint” and “Create Custom Named”) that the program creates. It’s that simple.

Create System Checkpoint – Creates a System Restore Point with the name of “System Checkpoint made by System Restore Point Creator”

Create Custom Named – Asks you what you want your System Restore Point to be named and then creates one based upon what you inputted.

wpsAB4E.tmp

ImDisk Toolkit – This all-in-one package includes the ImDisk Virtual Disk Driver, the DiscUtils library and an easier to use graphical user interface (GUI).

This tool will let you mount image files of hard drive, cd-rom or floppy, and create one or several RamDisks with various parameters.

The full package supports the following image file formats (non exhaustive list):

vhd, vdi and vmdk (static, dynamic and vmdk multipart)

iso, nrg, bin (read-only)

raw formats (img, ima, raw, vfd…)

dmg

sdi (some versions only)

Some other formats may work but require tests, and the non Windows file systems may need additional drivers.

wpsAB6E.tmp

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Snowden: IT workers are now target of spies – Spies are increasingly targeting IT staff to gain access to key elements of internet infrastructure and sensitive databases, NSA contractor-turned whistleblower Edward Snowden has warned.

“It’s not that they are looking for terrorists, it’s not that they are looking for bad guys, it’s that they are looking for people with access to infrastructure. They are looking for service providers, they are looking for systems administrators, they’re looking for engineers,” he said, speaking at the CeBIT technology show in Germany via a video link from Russia.

He added: “They are looking for the people who are in this room right now: you will be the target. Not because you are a terrorist, not because you are suspected of any criminal wrongdoing, but because you have access to systems, you have access to infrastructure, you have access to the private records, people’s private lives. These are the things that they want. It is important for us to come together and prevent that from happening.”

Snowden isn’t the only one to warn that IT staff are being targeted by spies, although mostly the finger is being pointed at foreign intelligence agencies.

Political Pressure To Pass CISA Quickly Could Pose ‘Big Problem’ For Civil Liberties – For years lawmakers and civil liberties advocates have sparred over cybersecurity legislation that would allow companies to share information with government agencies and each other.

Now the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, better known as CISA, is back. Despite recent amendments intended to bolster protection of consumers’ personal information, privacy advocates worry that political pressure arising from a recent string of high-profile cyberattacks on companies such as Sony could result in Congress pushing through a bill, as ACLU legislative counsel/policy advisor Gabe Rottman said, “recklessly.”

“This is a surveillance bill by another name,” said Rottman, who said the bill would create exceptions to privacy law and too broadly defines what the government can do with information it collects under CISA.

Last year CISA failed to reach the floor after civil liberties advocates denounced the bill, and the White House promised to veto it. But after a closed mark-up session this week, the bill sailed through the Intelligence Committee with a 14-1 vote of support.

Intelligence Committee chairman Senator Richard Burr yesterday praised the adjusted bill, which could see a vote as early as April.

US Threatened Germany Over Snowden, Vice Chancellor Says – German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said this week in Homburg that the U.S. government threatened to cease sharing intelligence with Germany if Berlin offered asylum to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden or otherwise arranged for him to travel to that country. “They told us they would stop notifying us of plots and other intelligence matters,” Gabriel said.

The vice chancellor delivered a speech in which he praised the journalists who worked on the Snowden archive, and then lamented the fact that Snowden was forced to seek refuge in “Vladimir Putin’s autocratic Russia” because no other nation was willing and able to protect him from threats of imprisonment by the U.S. government (I was present at the event to receive an award). That prompted an audience member to interrupt his speech and yell out: “Why don’t you bring him to Germany, then?”

There has been a sustained debate in Germany over whether to grant asylum to Snowden, and a major controversy arose last year when a Parliamentary Committee investigating NSA spying divided as to whether to bring Snowden to testify in person, and then narrowly refused at the behest of the Merkel government. In response to the audience interruption, Gabriel claimed that Germany would be legally obligated to extradite Snowden to the U.S. if he were on German soil.

Team Australia, your surveillance is ready – The vote that assured the citizens of Australia will live under the impost of a two-year mandatory data-retention regime is recorded in Hansard with the following line:

“The House divided and only Mr Bandt, Ms McGowan, and Mr Wilkie voting ‘No’.”

And so it was that Australia’s intelligence and law-enforcement services became one Senate vote away from being successful in their lobbying to create a sliding two-year window that could track the communications metadata of all Australians, and the movements of any person in the nation who carries a mobile phone.

Ever since the Coalition government decided that Australia needed to have its communications tracked and noted, ministers have bandied about the misinformation that what was contained in the data-retention legislation was nothing above and beyond the information telcos collect when going about their normal business.

Filming cops from within a 25-foot radius could be illegal in Texas – A bill outlawing the filming of police within a 25-foot radius landed in a Texas legislative committee late Wednesday, a measure that carries a maximum 180-day jail term and $2,000 fine.

The proposed buffer would increase to 100 feet for individuals carrying firearms, according to the legislation proposed by Rep. Jason Villalba, a Dallas Republican whose measure was referred to the House Committee on Emerging Issues In Texas Law Enforcement. Maximum penalties for violating the gun restriction are a year in jail and a $4,000 fine.

“They have the ability to say, ‘Step back, please don’t interfere,’ but a lot of times these situations are in the heat of a law enforcement officer doing their jobs,” Villalba said. “We’re just trying to create enough separation, enough space so that officer feels comfortable.”

Villalba also told the Dallas Observer that he’s “not trying to limit the ability to film.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas blasted the proposal, saying the public has a First Amendment right to record officers. “HB 2918 would deprive us of an important check against abuse of power by the police,” the group said.

China’s biggest anti-censorship service is under attack – Someone is trying to wipe China’s biggest anti-censorship service off the internet. For the past two days, the mirror websites run by GreatFire.org have been under an unprecedented denial-of-service attack, receiving more than 2 billion requests per hour. “We are not equipped to handle a DDoS attack of this magnitude and we need help,” the site said in a statement this morning. “This kind of attack is aggressive and is an exhibition of censorship by brute force.”

GreatFire’s mirroring service serves as a kind of secondary home for sites like Google or The Tibet Post that would otherwise be blocked by China’s web censorship systems. That makes it harder to block through conventional means, but it’s still vulnerable to brute force attacks at the hosting level. Denial-of-service attacks are notoriously easy to launch, allowing relatively unsophisticated attackers to bring down comparatively large targets.

The attack seems to have come in response to a Wall Street Journal article published on Monday, which described FreeWeibo’s mirroring system in extensive detail, and may have inadvertently tipped off Chinese censors to potential attack points in FreeWeibo’s system. The attacks began Tuesday, the day after the article went live, and have continued for more than 48 hours as of press time. The attack affects all of FreeWeibo’s mirror sites, and while there’s no evidence of who is responsible, it coincides with stronger enforcement efforts from China’s Cyberspace Administration, which has publicly decried FreeWeibo’s efforts. FreeWeibo says there have also been efforts to intercept internal emails through impersonation.

3 Comments

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 19, 2015

IoT: Silly and scary challenges ahead;  Obama administration sets record for censoring and denying transparency requests;  8 Gmail mobile app tricks for iOS and Android;  PlayStation Vue vs. Sling TV: Streaming live TV compared;  Windows 10 will be a free upgrade for ALL users worldwide (including pirates);  4 tips for speeding up a slow iOS 8 device;  How to deal with misbehaving Android apps;  Hardware requirements for Windows 10 for desktop and phones;  Tutanota, An Open Source Encrypted Gmail Alternative;  Meerkat Now Lets You Easily Follow Users Via The Web;  AeroFS – cloud collaboration free for up to 30 users;  Make Games On Your iPhone With Playr;  System Mechanic Free;  Why an 1891 toilet paper patent is all over Facebook;  Avira Rescue System (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

IoT: Silly and scary challenges ahead – How many software updates does it take to change a light bulb? What happens when a blast furnace gets hacked? Security looms as the elephant in all of our IoT rooms.

8 Gmail mobile app tricks for iOS and Android – There’s more to the recently revamped Gmail app than a pretty Material Design. Read on for 8 new Gmail tricks, starting with…

4 tips for speeding up a slow iOS 8 device – Have an iOS device that is acting a little sluggish lately? Give these four tips a read, and then try them on your own device to see the results.

AeroFS makes cloud collaboration free for up to 30 users – When it comes to sharing data in the cloud, there’s more than one way to deliver security. There’s encryption, for instance, which is used by services such as Dropbox to keep data safe. There’s also technology such as Box’s new Encryption Key Management tool, which aims to give users additional control. AeroFS take another approach. Whereas most purveyors of cloud file, sync and share services ultimately still store users’ data on their own servers in data centers around the world, AeroFS’s private cloud offering keeps data on-premises. Targeting enterprise workgroups, the service is “like Dropbox, but behind your firewall,” in the company’s own words, and on Wednesday it became free for up to 30 users—and pledged to remain that way forever.

PlayStation Vue vs. Sling TV: Streaming live TV compared – PlayStation Vue is the new TV service from Sony that starts at $50 per month. Its competitor Sling TV starts at $20 per month. Both use the Internet to stream numerous live TV channels as well as VOD, and both are free from long-term contracts. So how do they stack up?

Windows 10 will be a free upgrade for ALL users worldwide – Speaking to Reuters from the WinHEC conference in China, Microsoft’s operating system chief Terry Myerson said, “We are upgrading all qualified PCs, genuine and non-genuine, to Windows 10.” This means that everyone running Windows 7 or 8.1, irrespective of whether you pirated the operating system or not, will be allowed to upgrade to a legitimate version of Windows 10.

Here’s how Windows 10 upgrade paths will work – Microsoft is promising a fairly painless upgrade path to Windows 10, provided users have been keeping their existing versions up to date. If you’re running Windows 7 Service Pack 1 or Windows 8.1 S14 (that’s the “Windows 8.1 Update” from last April), you’ll be able to get Windows 10 straight from the Control Panel’s Windows Update utility. In other words, you won’t have to mess around with installation disks, and all your files and programs will remain intact. Your data won’t be erased if you’re running an older version of Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1, but you’ll have to download an ISO and create an installation disk. It’s just a little more of a hassle.

wpsFC5F.tmp

Here are the hardware requirements for Windows 10 for desktop and phones – Microsoft has officially started detailing the hardware requirements and capabilities of Windows 10 for desktop and mobile devices. The OS will scale from low-end to the most powerful hardware.

Pixometer app offers a smarter way to read dumb meters – So you want to track your water, electricity or gas consumption, but you still don’t have a smart meter on your supply? Pixolus has a mobile app that makes it easier to keep track of meter readings, even with dumb meters. Just tell the Pixometer app which meter you’re going to read, point the phone’s camera at it, and let the optical character recognition software do the work. Once the app gets a lock on the numbers, it speaks the reading out loud and stores it, and the date, in that meter’s file.

How to deal with misbehaving Android apps – We’ve all experienced it — that one app that seems to cause never-ending problems. It’ll run for a while and then, out of nowhere, it starts freezing or force crashing. This becomes an even bigger problem when the app in question happens to be in the “must-use” category. What do you do? Do you continue suffering through the data loss and crashes? No, you don’t. This is business, and you can’t deal with apps that don’t behave as needed. To that end, what do you do? You read on and integrate these tips into your standard operating procedure. They may even save you from data loss and app crashes.

Meet Sirius, the open-source Siri clone that runs on Ubuntu – Sirius is an open platform anyone can use and contribute to, from universities to startups. It’s currently being tested on Ubuntu, and you can download and install it on your own Linux PC today… if you’re particularly adventurous. One big feature Sirius offers is the image recognition integration. For example, you could take a photo of the Eiffel Tower and ask “when was this built?” Sirius would analyze the image, determine it was the Eiffel Tower, and then go find out when the Eiffel Tower was built. The big commercial assistant programs don’t yet offer a similar feature. This University of Michigan video provides a good introduction.

Everything you need to know about DLNA: The de facto home-entertainment network standard – If you’ve ever watched the photos on your digital camera come alive on your TV or played the music files on your computer over your home theater system, you’ve brushed against the magic of DLNA. This widely integrated but little understood technology allows you to stream media files from a hard drive or memory card to other devices on your home network without your needing to know a whole lot about codecs, file formats, or even how your network operates.

Meerkat Now Lets You Easily Follow Users Via The Web – Live video broadcast app Meerkat is edging away from being so reliant on Twitter’s network to power its own: The company announced a new “light follow” feature that works via the web, making it easy for anyone to follow users quickly without following them on Twitter, and to then receive notifications via Meerkat on iOS whenever they go live with a stream.

Autodesk’s insanely fun Tinkerplay app lets you easily design your own 3D-printable action figures – Autodesk, makers of AutoCAD design software and the Spark 3D printing platform, want to make it easier for children of all ages to design their own 3D-printed items. The company recently released a new app called Tinkerplay that makes it easy to design your own army of killer robots. Tinkerplay lets you create your own toy from scratch or use the included character templates to customize a scorpion, ninja, or sea creature. Once the design is done you can create your own STL or .thing file to turn your 3D-printed dreams into reality. Tinkerplay is available for Android, iOS, Windows 8.1, and Windows Phone.

wpsFC8E.tmp

Tutanota, An Open Source Encrypted Gmail Alternative, Heads Out Of Beta – Germany based encrypted email startup, Tutanota, is taking its service out a beta next week — after a year of testing and almost 100,000 users signed up to send and receive secure email. Additional domains will also be offered in the new release, coming on Tuesday, including .com and .io options (in addition to the current .de option). Tutanota was founded at the end of 2011 with the idea of making secure email easier than extant options like PGP.  Its ease of use pitch means it’s doing encrypted email in the web browser and also offering iOS and Android apps.

wpsFCBE.tmp

Security:

Mandrill warns attack may have exposed some data about email – Mandrill warned customers on Wednesday that some email-related data may have been exposed after attackers tried to lasso some of its servers into a botnet. Data doesn’t appear to have been stolen, but some customers should take some security precautions, wrote Brandon Fouts, general manager of Mandrill, which is a platform for managing transactional email that is owned by The Rocket Science Group.

Double FREAK! A cryptographic bug that was found because of the FREAK bug – Imagine that you just checked into a hotel. You’re in the lift on the way to your room, holding a key. You get to your room; you wave, swipe or turn the key; and the door opens. Assuming the door wouldn’t open until you presented the key, it certainly feels like security of a sort, doesn’t it? But what if your key isn’t unique? What if your key opens every other door in the hotel (or, for that matter, if every other key opens your door)? How would you ever know, just for starters?

Dark web drug market Evolution vanishes off the net, taking millions of dollars with it – Remember Silk Road? The infamous underground marketplace that made millions of dollars while its members bought and sold drugs and firearms was shut down in 2013, and its mastermind Ross “Dread Pirate Roberts” Ulbricht facing prison for the rest of his life. Well, nature abhors a vacuum. So it’s no surprise to see others attempt to take over where the Silk Road left off. As Wired reports, one of the sites – Evolution – that has attempted to take the place of the Silk Road has itself mysteriously vanished, and allegedly run off with members’ bitcoins worth more than $12 million.

Company News:

Target proposes $10 million settlement deal for customers after credit card hack – Target has agreed to pay $10 million to people affected by the breach of its systems in 2013 that saw 40 million credit and debit card numbers stolen. According to court documents, the retailer’s proposed settlement — which has yet to be approved by a federal judge — could pay individuals up to $10,000 in compensation. A court hearing to approve the proposal is scheduled for Thursday.

Yahoo Is Closing Its Office In China And Laying Off Hundreds Of Staff – Yahoo is bidding adios to China with the closure of its research center in Beijing — its only location in the country — as SCMP first reported. Hundreds of staff are expected to be laid off. The Beijing office originally ran Yahoo services in China, but with all of its consumers-facing activities in the country now shuttered — including its web portal, music service and email — the office effectively become a research center. Sources at the company told SCMP that, with wages two times higher in China than India and no specific services in China, the presence wasn’t particularly logical.

Appeals court revives Microsoft Xbox 360 console defect litigation – A federal appeals court on Wednesday revived a proposed class-action lawsuit against Microsoft that claims the Xbox 360 damages gaming discs, rendering them unplayable. The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals said a lower court had misconstrued the court’s own precedent when it ruled that Xbox owners in the US could not collectively sue Microsoft for damages. In the lower courts, Microsoft had successfully argued that individual proof by each person seeking damages was required. The court said Microsoft’s position was “inapt” because the “plaintiffs’ position is that the design defect itself breaches the express warranty.”

Tesla Scores Direct Sales Wins in NJ, Georgia – Tesla Motors passed important hurdles in its mission to sell directly to consumers in New Jersey and Georgia, where state legislators passed bills allowing the electric vehicle (EV) maker to open dealerships. A similar proposal moving through Georgia’s government would make way for five Tesla dealerships in the southern state.

Facebook Sued By Former Staffer Alleging Sex Discrimination, Harassment, Other Charges – The defendants in the suit are Facebook, a Facebook staffer named Anil Wilson, and 50 unnamed Facebook employees referred to anonymously as “defendant Doe.” The suit says that Wilson and Hong’s other coworkers regularly ignored or belittled her opinions at group meetings, asked her “why she did not just stay home and take care of her child instead of having a career,” and ordered her to organize parties and serve drinks to male colleagues, among other alleged actions. The suit also alleges that Hong was told that she was not integrated into her team at work “because she looks different and talks differently than other team members” and was subsequently replaced “by a less qualified, less experienced Indian male.”

Games and Entertainment:

Xbox Music integrates with OneDrive to allow free storage of music – This update for Xbox Music and OneDrive will make it easier to access your content on nearly any device and shows Microsoft’s commitment to the music streaming service. Users can now simply open their OneDrive web folder or app, upload the music file from their hard drive and listen to it through the Xbox Music app whenever they want. An Xbox music pass subscription is not required, the process is completely free. People who already have the pass will get 100 GB free of OneDrive storage.

wpsFCFE.tmp

Super Dungeon Bros hands-on: Like Gauntlet, but more metal – Super Dungeon Bros is (like Gauntlet) an isometric hack-and-slash game that sees you dungeon crawling alongside three friends in search of treasure. One important distinction is that players can choose any weapon they’d like in Super Dungeon Bros—you’re not constrained to having one warrior, one wizard, et cetera as per Gauntlet. In our demo, in fact, it was impossible not to double up. We had four players, but only three weapons to choose from (crossbow, sword, mace). The main addition in Super Dungeon Bros is an increased focus on co-op play.

wpsFD2D.tmp

Can an epic strategy game make Zynga relevant again? – Times are hard for Zynga. The company exploded with the sudden rise of Facebook gaming, but has struggled to adapt as the industry has moved to mobile, and once-massive franchises like FarmVille have been left to wither. In early 2014 the company purchased NaturalMotion, the studio behind mobile hits like the charming Clumsy Ninja and CSR Racing, a game that at one point was making an estimated $12 million per month. The developer has been quiet since then, but recently unveiled its first post-Zynga project: Dawn of Titans, a strategy game that aims to turn massive fantasy battles into an experience you can play when you have a minute to kill.

wpsFD6D.tmp

PlayStation’s Vue Live Streaming Cord-Cutter TV Service Launches In The U.S. – PlayStation is officially debuting its live streaming video service in the U.S. today, launching PlayStation Vue in New York, Chicago and Philadelphia with pricing beginning at $50 per month. The on-demand and live-streaming video service includes content partners like Fox News, AMC and Turner Broadcasting and offers channels like CBS, Discovery, Animal Planet, Syfy, Food Network and many more, depending on the package you select.

wpsFDAC.tmp

Make Games On Your iPhone With Playr – Aside from the money-making behemoths like Candy Crush Saga, one of the most interesting trends in mobile gaming is the rise of flash-in-the-pan viral hits like Flappy Bird and Timberman. These games takes seconds to learn, days to master, are free or cost a few bucks each, and are basically disposable after the initial rush of hype. I know plenty of people who’ve gone through a number of those games and have said things to the effect of “I bet I could make a game like that.” For nearly two years, 18-year-old Chris Galzerano has been working on Playr, an app that lets anyone do just that.

wpsFDDC.tmp

New Microsoft Store promotion offers 3 free months of Sling TV – If you purchase an Xbox One from Microsoft Store, whether it be online or from a physical location, you will also receive a three month subscription to Sling TV for free. Sling TV allows users to watch live television using your existing internet connection and a built-in app for Xbox One. The service currently starts at $20 a month and features networks like AMC, ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, TBS, Cartoon Network and more.

Off Topic (Sort of):

20 Extreme Selfies That Will Make Your Stomach Churn – Voluntarily putting your life and limb in jeopardy is always interesting. At least, that’s the conclusion a growing number of people have come to as they do their part to expand the art of the selfie to unforeseen heights. Click through our slideshow and check out 20 selfies captured in unnecessarily precarious situations.

wpsFE2B.tmp

Here you can see Mr. Wanted standing at the very tippy top of a spire.

Memory in the flesh – A radical 1950s scientist suggested memories could survive outside the brain — and he may have been right.

Pointing up  Fascinating!

Why an 1891 toilet paper patent is all over Facebook – I knew something was up by the time I saw a fourth toilet paper-related post on Facebook, all from different, unconnected friends. Just to be sure this was a real phenomenon, I went over to Twitter. Sure enough, a search for #toiletpaper delivered a considerable number of results. It seems the great over-or-under debate is alive on social media, but this time some new evidence has entered the fray.

wpsFE4B.tmp

New genetic map of the UK shows which invasions created Britain’s DNA – Britain has a long history of invasions: over the past two millennia, various armies from the Romans to the Anglo-Saxons conquered the bulk of the British Isles. A new genetic analysis of the country has revealed which invading force had the greatest impact on its DNA. Britons share the most DNA with people from France and Germany — countries which were home to the Angles and Saxon that moved into the British Isles after Roman rule collapsed in the 4th century. And despite broad similarities, the UK can be split into 17 distinct genetic groups that correspond to modern regions, according to a paper published in Nature that analyzed genetic data from more than 2,000 individuals in the UK and more than 6,000 across Europe.

wpsFEAA.tmp

Bioprinter 3D-prints living cartilage nose in 16 minutes – While traditional 3D-printers build objects using layers of plastic, we’ve seem some great strides in 3D-printing like lattices emerging from amorphous, resinous goo. Now bioprinters are entering the ring with their ability to create 3D models from biological materials. There’s no need to wait for an ear to grow on the back of a mouse; this bioprinter from the ETH Zurich Cartilage Engineering and Regeneration Group can print a nose from biopolymers and living cartilage cells in only 16 minutes. Best of all, no mice are harmed in the process!

wpsFEDA.tmp

10 career risks you should be willing to take – Career in a rut? Sometimes you need to take a chance or two to get things moving in the right direction.

Something to think about:

“I was headed down a bad road after I had been kicked out of Yale. I had been arrested twice for DUI when I was 22-years-old. I was in jail in Rock Springs, Wyoming, overnight, on a DUI charge—second one in a year. And that was a wake-up call, in effect.”

–      Dick Cheney

Today’s Free Downloads:

System Mechanic Free – System Mechanic Free is a complete suite of powerful system repair and maintenance tools. The 7 core tools included in System Mechanic Free are designed to boost speed, fix problems, and instantly improve PC performance.

Using the same award-winning technology and user-friendly design that makes the full version of System Mechanic the expert’s choice and the #1-bestselling software in its class, System Mechanic Free empowers people of all skill levels to keep their computer running at peak performance.

The 7 core tools in System Mechanic Free are:

Registry Tuner: The most effective tool of its kind, Registry Tuner uses regularly updated research to safely repair registry errors and stabilize Windows computers

Startup Optimizer: Eliminates the top 25 most common startup bottlenecks in order to noticeably speed up Windows start time

Memory Mechanic: Reclaims more RAM memory for an instant performance boost

PC Cleanup: Cleans up system-clogging junk files and clutter

Drive Accelerator: Defragments hard drives to improve drive speed and performance

Shortcut Repair: Reconnects broken icons and shortcuts

Internet Connection Repair: Heals broken internet connections to get PCs back online

iolo technologies believes no one should unnecessarily experience the stress, lost time, and financial burden that can be caused by a poorly-performing PC—and System Mechanic Free provides the basic tools necessary to ensure Windows computers remain stable and optimized for the entire lifespan of the investment. Now, you can use the same research-driven tune-up tools and features that are trusted and recommended by millions of computer users worldwide to fix and speed up your home PC.

wpsFF19.tmp

Avira Rescue System – The Avira AntiVir Rescue System is a linux-based application that allows accessing computers that cannot be booted anymore. Thus it is possible to repair a damaged system, to rescue data or to scan the system for virus infections.

Just double-click on the rescue system package to burn it to a CD/DVD. You can then use this CD/DVD to boot your computer. The Avira AntiVir Rescue System is updated several times a day so that the most recent security updates are always available.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Obama administration sets record for censoring and denying transparency requests – The US censored and refused to provide more documents than ever last year while responding to Freedom of Information Act requests, according to an analysis of federal data performed by the Associated Press. The government responded to just over 647,000 FOIA requests last year, a 4 percent drop from the year prior. In just over 250,000 of those cases, it censored documents or refused to provide access to them outright — nearly two out of every five requests. Censoring, however, may range from a single phone number’s removal to the redaction of nearly an entire page.

The Freedom of Information Act is a nearly 50-year-old law that allows any person to request records from the US government, which must turn them over in a timely fashion unless they are subject to a limited set of exceptions. The law plays a critical role in government transparency; unfortunately, this waning responsiveness hurts that, especially as broad conversations about government transparency continue due to a steady stream of leaked documents. The government, for its part, thinks that it isn’t doing quite so poorly. The AP reports that the US says it released all or parts of documents in 91 percent of cases, but this discounts some requests and is still a record low under Obama.

New York county sheriff must give up stingray records, judge orders – According to a judicial ruling issued Tuesday, the Erie County Sheriff’s Office (ECSO) in Northwestern New York state must turn over a number of documents concerning its purchase and use of stingrays. The 24-page order comes as the result of a lawsuit brought by the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) and marks a rare victory in favor of transparency of “cell-site simulators,” which are often shrouded in secrecy.

The devices can not only be used to determine a phone’s location, but they can also intercept calls and text messages. During the act of locating a phone, stingrays also sweep up information about nearby phones—not just the target phone. Earlier this year, Ars reported on how the FBI is actively trying to “prevent disclosure” of how these devices are used in local jurisdictions across America.

“The court today has confirmed that law enforcement cannot hide behind a shroud of secrecy while it is invading the privacy of those it has sworn to protect and serve,” Mariko Hirose, a NYCLU Staff Attorney, said in a statement. “The public has a right to know how, when and why this technology is being deployed, and they deserve to know what safeguards and privacy protections, if any, are in place to govern its use.”

Cisco posts kit to empty houses to dodge NSA chop shops – Cisco will ship boxes to vacant addresses in a bid to foil the NSA, security chief John Stewart says.

The dead drop shipments help to foil a Snowden-revealed operation whereby the NSA would intercept networking kit and install backdoors before boxen reached customers.

The interception campaign was revealed last May.

Speaking at a Cisco Live press panel in Melbourne today, Stewart says the Borg will ship to fake identities for its most sensitive customers, in the hope that the NSA’s interceptions are targeted.

“We ship [boxes] to an address that’s has nothing to do with the customer, and then you have no idea who ultimately it is going to,” Stewart says.

“When customers are truly worried … it causes other issues to make [interception] more difficult in that [agencies] don’t quite know where that router is going so its very hard to target – you’d have to target all of them.

There is always going to be inherent risk.”

Stewart says some customers drive up to a distributor and pick up hardware at the door.

The Mall of America reportedly used Facebook to track activists – The security team at the Mall of America may have created a fictitious Facebook account to surreptitiously compile information about Black Lives Matter supporters and track their plans. Citing documents it obtained, The Intercept says that the mall — which has its own counter terrorism unit — created a fictitious person named “Nikki Larson,” who they used to befriend and monitor protesters on social network.

That fishy account has since been quietly removed from Facebook, though dates back to 2009 and appears to be the work of a former Mall of America intelligence analyst. Before the account was yanked, “Nikki” had 817 friends, many of whom The Intercept says had ties to local Minnesota political activism groups. While active, the account also liked the Black Live Matter Facebook group in Minneapolis and changed the top header with a Martin Luther King Jr. quote, presumably to keep up appearances.

2 Comments

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

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – March 18, 2015

Your personal security guide: Malware, protection and removal;  Your personal security guide: Phishing campaigns;  The Ultimate Cord Cutter’s Guide;  Twitter just made it easier to report harassment to the cops;  3 tips for easier migration to a new browser;  Facebook Introduces Free Friend-To-Friend Payments Through Messages;  Five free apps for taking care of your taxes;  Windows 10 to launch this summer in 190 countries;  Dropbox update improves collaboration;  Premera cyberattack could have exposed information for 11 million customers;  Google cleans up malware-ridden app store;  The 10 Most-Pirated Movies (this week);  Sling TV app launches on Xbox One with free month-long trial;  Three judges fired for using office computers to watch porn;  Active@ KillDisk (free);  Feds can’t seize emails stored in Ireland, Microsoft says;  FCC chief: ‘No secret instructions’ from Obama on Net neutrality.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Your personal security guide: Malware, protection and removal – Summary: What is malware, what does it do and how do I protect myself?

wps453B.tmp

Your personal security guide: Phishing campaigns – Summary: What are phishing campaigns, why do they exist and how do I protect myself?

wps456A.tmp

The Ultimate Cord Cutter’s Guide – Services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Instant Video are just the most well-known names in what’s become known as “cord cutting”—namely, doing away with pay TV and using Internet-based services to get all your “television” programming. No more paying a huge monthly fee for thousands of hours of TV you don’t watch. Instead, pay individual services for a la carte programming. It’s almost like paying for just what you watch. Almost.

3 tips for easier migration to a new browser – Recently, I switched to Firefox after Chrome became unresponsive and buggy one too many times. Switching between browsers never used to be a big deal, but that’s just not the case anymore. We customize these programs with extensions, sync open tabs to our mobile devices, and, if you’re using Chrome, run apps like they’re native to the desktop. If you’re thinking about moving between browsers here are three things to consider as you plan your move.

Twitter just made it easier to report harassment to the cops – Twitter “sucks at dealing with abuse.” CEO Dick Costolo said so himself. Today the company released another change as part of its promise to start sucking less. Twitter users who are threatened on the service and file a report will have the option of emailing that report to local law enforcement. With this rollout, users who go through the already simplified process of of reporting a threat will see a new option on the last screen.

wps459A.tmp

Divergent star Ashley Judd will press charges over Twitter harassment – Divergent star Ashely Judd says that she will press charges against people who have been harassing her on Twitter with threats of sexual violence. “The amount of gender violence I experience is absolutely extraordinary,” she tells the Today show, “and a significant part of my day today will be spent filing police reports at home about gender violence that’s directed at me on social media.” Judd called out the harassment on Sunday, when a tweet she wrote about a basketball game resulted in lewd cyberbullying.

wps45BB.tmp

Five free apps for taking care of your taxes – If you dread tax time, take heart. These free apps will help get you through the filing process with less aggravation and fewer errors. Although this article provides a brief description of five free tax applications, it’s worth noting that the IRS actually offers its own free tax filing service, called FreeFile.

The .SUCKS domain is coming soon to an angry website near you – Want to get your hate on for a certain company, brand, or product? Later this year, you’ll be able to do that in style with your very own .sucks domain. Some .SUCKS domain names could end up being nothing more than a little harmless fun. The worst case scenario for major companies, however, might be a disgruntled customer getting their hands on of Google.sucks, Nestle.sucks, or Comcast.sucks. And apparently the company behind the .SUCKS TLD knows it.

Facebook Introduces Free Friend-To-Friend Payments Through Messages – When you chat with friends about settling debts or splitting the bill, Facebook doesn’t want you to have to open another app like PayPal or Venmo to send them money. So today it unveiled a new payments feature for Facebook Messenger that lets you connect your Visa or Mastercard debit card and tap a “$” button to send friends money on iOS, Android, and desktop with zero fees. Facebook Messenger payments will roll out first in the U.S. over the coming months.

wps45EA.tmp

Windows 10 to launch this summer in 190 countries – Microsoft is planning to release its Windows 10 operating system in the summer. While the software maker isn’t naming an exact date, Windows chief Terry Myerson is committing the company to a summertime launch today. “We continue to make great development progress and shared today that Windows 10 will be available this summer in 190 countries and 111 languages,” says Myerson. Microsoft is making Windows 10 available as a free upgrade for existing Windows 7 and Windows 8 users for a year, and that offer will start this summer.

Windows Hello lets you sign into Windows 10 devices with your face or finger – Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 10 operating system will support Windows Hello, allowing you to sign into a machine with just your face or finger. Windows Hello works by scanning your face, iris, or fingerprint to unlock devices, replacing a PIN or password to gain access to your own machine.  While most current machines won’t be able to use Windows Hello face recognition, Microsoft will support existing fingerprint readers. For the face or iris detection, new Windows 10 PCs will ship later this year with Intel’s RealSense 3D camera to enable the new support thanks to the infrared camera that will help scan your face.

Windows 10’s speedy new Project Spartan browser will ditch Internet Explorer name – Internet Explorer increasingly looks like a dead brand walking, though IE11 will still be around in Windows 10 to provide legacy compatibility for businesses.

Philips Two-in-One dual-display monitor launches – Studies have claimed that using two displays makes you more efficient than using one, and many people find them more comfortable than a single display set up. The problem is how much desk space they take — having two monitors propped up requires a lot of space, and that’s a problem for some, especially those limited to a cubical or other tiny work areas. Enter the Philips Two-in-One monitor, which is exactly what it sounds like: a single monitor made of two displays, conserving desk real estate while increase one’s screen space.

wps462A.tmp

Dropbox update improves collaboration with badges, commenting – Dropbox has updated its service today, and it has done so with a focus on collaboration in particular, namely how it can make that shared experience better for its users. Dropbox for Business can be used to take Dropbox beyond mere file storing and can be used by workers as a collaborative environment for handling documents and such. If collaborative environments aren’t clear and organized, however, they become messy and convoluted quickly, and Dropbox has taken a step to ensure that doesn’t happen with two new workflows.

Security:

Premera cyberattack could have exposed information for 11 million customers – Health care provider Premera Blue Cross said on Tuesday that the identifying, financial, and medical information for millions of customers could have been revealed in a cyberattack. In a statement on their website, Premera said that issues related to their network have been resolved and the company is working to strengthen security measures. The initial attack occurred on May 4, 2014, but the intrusion was not discovered until Jan. 29, according to Premera. The attack potentially affects 11 million customers. About 6 million of those live in Washington state, where some customers are employees at companies like Amazon and Microsoft, Reuters reported.

Cyberattacks caused the leak of one billion records in 2014 – In 2014, approximately one billion records of personally identifiable information (PII) were leaked online, according to IBM X-Force. IBM researchers say cyberattackers are more often applying creative ways and new approaches to fundamental attacks including DDoS and the use of malware in order to steal valuable information, ranging from sensitive data which can be used in identity theft to financial account details. The majority of these records were stolen from US companies.

Hundreds of Android and iOS apps are still vulnerable to FREAK – Hundreds of Android and iOS apps are still vulnerable to a dangerous attack revealed two weeks ago that can compromise encrypted data, a security vendor said Tuesday. The apps have not yet been patched against the FREAK attack, short for Factoring attack on RSA-EXPORT Keys, which was revealed by researchers on March 3. The unpatched apps, which were not identified, are in categories including finance, communication, shopping, business and medicine, computer security company FireEye said in a blog post Tuesday.

wps465A.tmp

Malwarebytes: “Cracked” Minecraft? PUP Installer – Be cautious around websites offering up supposedly cracked versions of Minecraft. You can never quite be sure what’s waiting on the other end. Genuine file or bad hair day incoming?

Google cleans up malware-ridden app store – Google is cleaning up its app store to limit the amount of malware and age-inappropriate content. For the past two months the advertising giant has been quietly running a scan of all applications for malware and code that breaks its terms of service. Today it announced the program’s existence, noting that the scanning is both automatic and manual. The high levels of malware found on the Play Store has long been a problem – even being used by Apple to promote its own “safer” products. As well as the scanning, the Chocolate Factory has also updated developer status reports that explain why apps have been rejected to include more detail. And it will introduce age ratings.

Company News:

Microsoft wants to convert Android devices to Windows 10 phones with special ROM – Microsoft is testing an image of Windows 10 that can be flashed onto Android devices and essentially convert them to Windows phones on the spot. The program might be expanded soon if successful.

Apple tipped to open Android trade-in program ahead of Galaxy S6 launch – Android device users thinking about buying a new iPhone might want to hold off their purchase for a little while: Apple is about to kick off its first ever trade-in program for Android devices, according to reports. Following its best financial quarter ever, Apple needs to once again beat analysts’ expectations and its new weapon to attract additional iPhone users is a recycling and trade-in program aimed at owners of old Android devices that are considering switching to iOS.

Open source Sirius virtual assistant gets Google funding – Virtual, personal assistants seem to be the rave these days on mobile, from the big ones like Siri, Cortana, Google Now, and most recently BlackBerry Assistant, to the little known apps and services scattered throughout app markets. So it isn’t surprising that we’re hearing about another one called Sirius, a not so subtle play on Siri perhaps, but this software, and we can’t call it product yet, hailing from the University of Michigan is a bit different. For one, it is open source software. And quite surprisingly, it has the financial support of Google.

Jury clears Apple of infringing patents formerly held by Nokia – A Texas jury has found that Apple didn’t infringe on five wireless technology patents that once belonged to Nokia and were sold to patent licensing firm Conversant. In 2012, Core Wireless, which is a subsidiary of Conversant, sued Apple in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Tyler Division, alleging iPads and iPhones used technology covered by Core patents to transmit data. Core was seeking a portion of the revenue Apple made from selling the devices and would make from future sales. Core’s lawsuit initially claimed that Apple infringed on more patents.

Oracle’s Q3: Revenue miss, earnings in line amid currency qualms – With currency fluctuations once again having investors biting their nails with anxiety, Oracle published third quarter financial results after the bell on Tuesday. And once again, Oracle broke down actual and would-be results as a result of the strengthening of the U.S. Dollar. The tech giant reported a net income of $2.5 billion, or 56 cents per share (statement). Non-GAAP earnings were 68 cents per share on a revenue of $9.3 billion. Wall Street was looking for earnings of 68 cents a share on revenue of $9.47 billion.

Games and Entertainment:

Sling TV app launches on Xbox One with free month-long trial – As announced in January, Xbox One is the first gaming console to feature an app for Sling TV, and its one-month trial is also the longest free trial available on any platform. While Sling TV’s Xbox One app features a similar interface to its apps on mobile platforms, it’s also been modified to fit with the console’s style and abilities, as seen above. For those interested in subscribing to the service, Sling TV will cost $20 a month and come with the following channels: AMC, ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, TBS, Food Network, HGTV, Travel Channel, Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, ABC Family and CNN.

wps4689.tmp

The 10 Most-Pirated Movies – Before I discuss the week’s most-pirated movies, allow me to state that PCMag doesn’t condone piracy in any way, shape, or form. Our mission is a simple and pure one: to inform you about what’s happening in the online digital media world. Besides, tracking stolen movies is a way to gauge a movie’s popularity beyond ticket sales. One new flick made it onto the most-pirated movies list this week—Focus, starring Will Smith and Margot Robbie. If you want to learn more about this bootlegged film, as well as the nine other movies that were popular among pirates, check out the slideshow that’s linked both above and below for more information.

wps46D8.tmp

GeForce GTX Titan X detailed and priced by NVIDIA – Today NVIDIA has revealed their newest, most powerful graphics card to the public: GeForce GTX Titan X. This device was teased at the Epic Games keynote earlier this month at GDC 2015 – here at GTC 2015, it’s being revealed in full. This card works with NVIDIA’s GM200 GPU, rolling with 3072 CUDA Cores, a 384-bit memory interface, 7GHz memory clock, and peak memory bandwidth of 336.5GB/sec. That’s a cool 50% increase over the peak bandwidth of this card’s release predecessor, the GeForce GTX 980 (have a peek at our GTX 980 Review to get an idea of where we’re going from here).

16 Bizarre Video Game Adaptations That Actually Exist – A video game based on the TV series M*A*S*H? Sure. An action adventure game based on Home Improvement? Why wouldn’t that be a game?! A Contra-style game based on the Oscar-winning war drama, Platoon? Bring it on! Here, we delve into the weird history of unexpected video game adaptations. We do this not to mock or even to say that all these games aren’t fun to play. Rather we would just like to show the industry that video games can be so much more than just Marvel and DC. Think outside the box, people.

PlayStation Now coming to the UK via private beta this Spring – PlayStation Now is US-only, and that’s pretty lame. We’re not fans of region-locked services like that, so when we hear they’ll be opening up to new markets, it’s exciting. Such is the news today, where we’ve learned Sony is opening up PlayStation Now to the UK. Via a private beta program, those in the UK with a PlayStation 4 — and who are members of PlayStation Plus — can be among the first to sign up for the PlayStation Now network in the UK.

Off Topic (Sort of):

The Age Of Interruption Overload – Every time I think our way of life couldn’t change any faster, reality proves me wrong. Compare our lives today to just five years ago, and it’s a completely different digital world. Today, we live in the age of interruption overload. There are two ways of dealing with interruption overload. The first is to complain, argue against it, convince everyone that it’s bad for your health (it is, it makes you dumber), and then retreat to a yoga farm in Texas. Only to find out they have 4G. But that won’t help much. Reality is stronger than complaints. A girl in my family told me how she spent a day without her smartphone. When she was back, it had 2,000 WhatsApp messages on it. She’s 12.

wps4727.tmp

Google Exec Eric Schmidt Called Out for Interrupting the Only Woman on Panel – After a panel on innovation at SXSW in Austin on Monday, Google executive Eric Schmidt was called out for repeatedly interrupting U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith, the only woman on the panel. During a Q&A session after the panel, someone pointed out that Schmidt was repeatedly interrupting Smith without noticing, and asked Smith how she felt about the unconscious bias that affects women. It turns out that the person who called out Schmidt was Judith Williams, who just happens to be the Global Diversity and Talent Program manager at Google.

Pointing up    The usual Schmidt two-step – open mouth/insert foot.

Three judges fired for using office computers to watch porn – When a judge looks down upon you in a court of law, you get the feeling that they’re a little bit superior. Some might find, therefore, a certain comfort in the idea that the judiciary are just as human as the rest of us. Even judges can be, as it were, in contempt of court. I am moved to these sad thoughts by the news that today three judges in the UK were fired for being very, very naughty boys. This dewigging was announced by the UK’s Judicial Conduct Investigations Office.

NASA tests LEAPTech: a crazy experimental 18-engine electric wing – NASA is testing their latest experiment; the new idea is the LEAPTech electric wing. LEAPTech stands for Leading Edge Asynchronous Propeller Technology, and this set of wings looks very different from a traditional airplane wing. The LEAPTech wing looks a bit strange with its narrow surface area and its lengthy 31-foot wingspan. Not to mention that the wings are decked out with 18 small engines, while most commerical jets normally have two or four engines. It’s electric and aims to be safe, efficient, and environmentally friendly.

wps4757.tmp

Crazy footage shows volcanic lightning during massive eruption – Volcanic eruptions are crazy-cool and dangerous, but they’re even better when they’re intense enough to generate lightning storms as they’re going off. During a recent volcanic eruption at the highly active Sakurajima volcano on the Japanese island of Kyushu, filmmaker Marc Szeglat captured some pretty incredible footage of a lightning storm generated by the volcano.

wps47A6.tmp

FCC chief: ‘No secret instructions’ from Obama on Net neutrality – FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler appeared before a House subcommittee Tuesday, where he maintained his agency’s independence in coming up with new rules for so-called Net neutrality. The rules ensure that broadband providers like Comcast or Verizon can’t block or slow down Internet access or applications , or require payment from companies like Netflix for priority access to broadband customers. “There were no secret instructions from the White House,” Wheeler said. “I did not, as CEO of an independent agency, feel obligated to follow the president’s recommendation.”

Corning’s germ-fighting glass means you can touch an ATM with less worry – The modern world is awash with public touch screens, from airplane TVs to ATMs to deli-counter kiosks. And with all those shared screens comes more potential to share germs. Glassmaker Corning, whose tough Gorilla Glass displays front Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s new Galaxy S6, is hoping to make our more-touchable electronics world a little less grimy, thanks to its antimicrobial version of Gorilla. The new product, introduced last year, is now making its way into more public places, with Corning in January announcing deals to bring the germ-fighting glass to ATMs and payment terminals.

Something to think about:

“Most people have seen worse things in private than they pretend to be shocked at in public.”

–      Edgar Watson Howe

Today’s Free Downloads:

Active@ KillDisk – Powerful and compact software that allows you to destroy all data on hard disks, SSD & USB disks completely, excluding any possibility of future recovery of deleted files and folders. It’s a hard disk drive sanitizing tool and partition eraser utility, DoD 5220.22 M compliant.

wps47E6.tmp

Pointing up   All storage devices should be “nuked” in this fashion prior to disposal, gifting, and so on. Long story short – rebuilt 50+ machines for a charity a few years ago – came to me with HDs loaded with 1000s of social assistance client records, all of which were extremely personal.  And valuable – but that’s another story.

York - Need to keep an eye on what’s going on on your network. York is the perfect freeware for you. You can choose a client on your network and follow his clicks or just log all source, destination [fqdn or ip address] and packet size of all network traffic on your network. Just for kicks York will show you a slideshow of all the pictures embedded in the html of sites visited on your network!

Log source, destination [fqdn or ip address] and packet size of all network traffic on your network, of course also outbound traffic. The network card will be set into promiscuous mode.

Save sniffed HTTP and FTP files. Just for fun, pictures are shown in a slideshow and in a screensaver like window.

Sniff for HTTP, FTP, POP3, SMTP, SMB, VNC and AIM password/hash and HTTP cookies like ‘GX’.

Select a client and follow his clicks in your browser. [WebSession]

Screensaver included. Shows sniffed pictures in a slideshow.

For the advanced user: You can capture traffic into a pcap file, send a pcap file and replay a pcap file.

For advanced user: You can restrict captured traffic by tcpdump filters.

Please note, WinPcap [www.winpcap.org] is used to get the network traffic. The Setup will install WinPcap automatically.

The columns in the log file are tabulator separated for easy import into Excel

wps4806.tmp

Personal system screenshot

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

New documents show the British legal process for hacking civilian targets – New court documents made public today have revealed the UK’s troublingly broad legal justification for state-sponsored hacking, including targeting individuals who are not under any suspicion of committing a crime.

The documents come as part of a case lead by British watchdog Privacy International, which has been pushing two separate court cases before the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, attempting to gain more details about the state hacking described in the Snowden documents. These admissions are the most tangible explanation yet of the legal framework behind the British surveillance described by Snowden. “Without any legitimate legal justification, they think they have the authority to target anyone they wish, no matter if they are suspected of a crime,” said Privacy International’s Eric King. “This suspicionless hacking must come to an end and the activities of our intelligence agencies must be brought under the rule of law.”

The noteworthy phrase comes at paragraph 77, when the GCHQ details a procedural point for “conduct[ing] equipment interference activity specifically against individuals who are not intelligence targets in their own right.” The passage indicates the agency has no qualms about collateral hacks like the recently revealed attack on the SIM card manufacturer Gemalto, which surveilled civilian infrastructure as a means to gain broader access, rather than because of any specific suspicions. Even where warrants do apply, the requirements for obtaining one are often laughably meager. Later paragraphs state that the identity of the target is only necessary when its known by the agents, and the details of the offense committed are only necessary “where relevant.”

Australia’s data-retention debate hits Derpcon Zero – Forget the distraction about journalists and warrants. Government spin and opposition incompetence have just gone off the scale.

Australia: Telstra contradicts Brandis on data retention – Contrary to the claims of Australia’s Attorney-General George Brandis, telcos will be required to store information that they don’t currently store as part of mandatory data-retention legislation, Telstra’s chief information security officer Mike Burgess has said.

Where’s the data? Feds can’t seize emails stored in Ireland, Microsoft says – The U.S. government wants access to an alleged drug dealer’s emails, but Microsoft says, sorry, they’re in Ireland and out of bounds. This is what happens when we apply non-digital rules to digital situations.

At issue is the question of whether companies or individuals can keep the U.S. government from accessing their email by arguing that it resides on a server in a country that is hostile to such searches. The most recent development came last week (March 9) in a case that involves Microsoft, a U.S. citizen accused of narcotics trafficking and an MSN email server sitting in Dublin, Ireland. The case’s supporting players read like the game “which of these are different from the others?”: On Microsoft’s side is Verizon, AT&T, Apple, Cisco — and the Electronic Freedom Foundation.

From their point of view, they are challenging the federal government’s ability to access email records if those documents are stored outside of the U.S. From the government’s perspective, the question is whether a company can skirt legal inquiries by simply choosing to house records in a friendlier country. Think of Ireland in this case as the email equivalent of what the tax-avoiding Swiss bank account used to be.

What’s scarier: terrorism, or governments blocking websites in its name? – The French Interior Ministry on Monday ordered that five websites be blocked on the grounds that they promote or advocate terrorism. “I do not want to see sites that could lead people to take up arms on the Internet,” proclaimed Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve.

When the block functions properly, visitors to those banned sites, rather than accessing the content of the sites they chose to visit, will be automatically redirected to the Interior Ministry website. There, they will be greeted by a graphic of a large red hand, and text informing them that they were attempting to access a site that causes or promotes terrorism: “you are being redirected to this official website since your computer was about to connect with a page that provokes terrorist acts or condones terrorism publicly.”

No judge reviews the Interior Ministry’s decisions. The minister first requests that the website owner voluntarily remove the content he deems transgressive; upon disobedience, the minister unilaterally issues the order to Internet service providers for the sites to be blocked. This censorship power is vested pursuant to a law recently enacted in France empowering the interior minister to block websites.

2 Comments

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