Tag Archives: Windows Defender

Tech Thoughts Net News – Monday Edition – August 17, 2015

AT&T helped NSA spy on millions of Americans’ private calls, emails;   Volkswagen Spent Years Hiding This Huge Security Flaw;  10 Do’s and don’ts for every Android user;  Report claims Kaspersky faked malware to trip up competitors’ products;  10 ways your phone has embarrassed you in public;  Three Windows 10 Start menu tweaks that subtly improve your experience;  Stop the Flash madness – 5 bugs a week;  10 cross-platform messaging apps you shouldn’t overlook;  16 Instagram Tips for the Photo Obsessed;  How to get the most out of your rechargeable batteries;  Sick of Windows spying on you? Go Linux;  Zero-day flaw in Google Admin app allows malicious apps to read its files;  Parrot drones easily taken down or hijacked;  The 10 Best Wireless Speakers of 2015;  The 10 Best HDTVs of 2015;  How to Unlock Higher-Quality Xbox Streaming in Windows 10;  The 15 best Android puzzle games for teasing your brain.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

AT&T helped NSA spy on millions of Americans’ private calls, emails – Newly published documents published Saturday, provided by Edward Snowden in 2013, show the US cellular and telecom giant was in cahoots with the intelligence agency as far back as 1985, a relationship that later intensified following the September 11 terrorist attacks. More than two years after the first document was published by reporters, we’re now venturing into the portion of the documents disclosed by Snowden that are highly likely and previously suspected, but now finally confirmed. The report is long, and there are more than 70 pages to digest. Here some of the snippets from the ProPublica-New York Times report:

Stop the Flash madness – 5 bugs a week – On August 11, 2015 Adobe fixed 34 bugs in their Flash Player software. Many of the bugs enabled a computer to get infected with malicious software simply by viewing a web page. This most recent round of bug fixes comes 28 days after Adobe fixed two other Flash bugs, and 34 days after they fixed 36 bugs. Putting this in perspective, the Flash Player has been updated a dozen times so far this year (below). If you are reading this on August 18th, the odds are that Adobe has found, and not yet fixed, 5 new bugs in the Flash Player. Reading this on August 25th? Chances are you are vulnerable to 10 new Flash bugs. Five bugs a week.

Volkswagen Spent Years Hiding This Huge Security Flaw – First we had a report from a U.S. Senator on the security risks facing new car owners, and then the news that Fiat had recalled 1.4 million cars to address security flaws. And this week a paper is being presented at the USENIX security conference in Washington, D.C., on a security flaw affecting “thousands of cars from a host of manufacturers,” according to a Bloomberg News report. We could have known about these risks for some time, as the paper was actually written two years ago, but car makers like Volkswagen fought in court to keep the information private. According to Bloomberg:

10 Do’s and don’ts for every Android user – There are a lot of choices when it comes to making your Android phone all it can be, and a lot of nuance about which are the “best” choices to make. Everyone has an opinion about the best apps, home screen layouts, launchers, and so on. However, there are some enduring certainties that cannot be avoided. Here are ten “do’s” and “don’ts” for every Android user.

Three Windows 10 Start menu tweaks that subtly improve your experience – Wondering how to logout from the Start menu, improve the look and feel of the Start menu, taskbar, and action center, as well as get the Start screen back? Read on.

How to juggle multiple applications using Task View in Windows 10 – When it comes to managing multiple application windows, one of the most common tasks that you perform in the Windows operating system, Windows 10 really has it all! The new Task View virtual desktop feature makes it easy for you to spread out multiple applications. The enhanced Snap feature provides you with a great way to view and work with multiple applications on the same screen. The Shake and Peek feature, which was introduced in Windows 7 and still exist in Windows 10, allows you to zero in on a single application and quickly hide multiple applications respectively. Let’s take a closer look.

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10 cross-platform messaging apps you shouldn’t overlook – When choosing a messaging app, cloud-synchronized chat logs, contact lists, and settings are important considerations. Read about 10 cross-platform messaging apps worth checking out.

16 Instagram Tips for the Photo Obsessed – Are you snap happy? Then you probably have Instagram on your phone. The supersocial photo-sharing app has 300 million monthly active users, but there’s a lot more to the service than just selecting a filter. Read on for 16 more tips and tricks for Instagram.

Microsoft Drops Another Windows 10 Update – And then there were three. Earlier this week, Microsoft released a new set of updates for Windows 10, the third time it has done so since the operating system formally debuted in late July. Windows 10 is Microsoft’s attempt to build a single operating system that can function on devices of any size, or input variety. As before, the update comes with minimal documentation and explanation.

Sick of Windows spying on you? Go Linux – You can try to turn Windows 10’s data-sharing ways off, but, bad news: Windows 10 will keep sharing some of your data with Microsoft anyway. There is an alternative: Desktop Linux. You can do a lot to keep Windows 10 from blabbing, but you can’t always stop it from talking. Cortana, Windows 10’s voice activated assistant, for example, will share some data with Microsoft, even when it’s disabled. That data includes a persistent computer ID to identify your PC to Microsoft.

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Linux Mint looks like classic Windows, but without any of Windows 10’s privacy leaks.

Why you can’t find your product key after upgrading to Windows 10 – With Windows 10, Microsoft is doing away with the conventional product key for digital installs. You may never have to manage product keys again. When you use the free upgrade to Windows 10 or pay for a digital retail version, you don’t get a product key. Instead, your computer uses what Microsoft calls a digital entitlement.

Report: 50 million devices now run Windows 10 – How well is Windows 10 doing? Microsoft hasn’t said anything yet about how many people are running the new OS, but if figures reported by WinBeta are correct, it’s off to a strong start. According to WinBeta’s sources, Windows 10 is now running on at least 50 million devices (PCs and tablets).

How to get the most out of your rechargeable batteries – Seven tips for getting the best possible life out of the Li-Ion rechargeable batteries inside your smartphone, tablet or notebook.

The 10 Best Wireless Speakers of 2015 – Wireless speakers have exploded in popularity, and nearly every major consumer electronics vendor has a cord-cutting model of some sort. Speakers can vary wildly in size, shape, and even the type of wireless connection they use, but this list will probably have at least one speaker that’s right for you. Before anything else, though, you need to decide how you want to go wireless.

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The 10 Best HDTVs of 2015 – The HDTV market has been changing a lot recently, both in terms of technology and price. New types of screens with organic light-emitting diode (OLED) panels and Ultra HD (UHD, or 4K) resolutions are popping up everywhere. Big, 50-plus-inch sets that once cost thousands of dollars can be had for around $500. If you want an HDTV, you have more options now than ever. But which one should you buy? Here are the main points to consider when shopping for a new set, as well as the 10 best HDTVs we’ve tested.

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iCloud.com now lets users restore deleted files – With no announcement whatsoever, Apple has just added a new feature to iCloud.com, the browser version of its cloud storage service, that has it rivaling Dropbox just a tad: the ability to restore recently deleted files. Unfortunately, the feature isn’t exactly easy to find, buried in the Advanced Settings menu, so most iCloud users may not even notice it exists. Should they find it though, they’ll be able to restore documents and other files, in addition to recently deleted contacts and calendar entries.

Microsoft sinks in antivirus tests, as Avira, Bitdefender hit top scores – The latest antivirus scores from the Madgeburg, Germany-based testing lab AV-Test ranks Windows Defender as the worst-performing anti-malware app out of the 22 most common consumer products tested. Breaking down that figure, the scores show the app protected against 89 percent of existing widespread malware threats, and 95 percent of new zero-day flaws. The app also scored a paltry score on performance, suggesting it hogs system resources, but scored top marks in user experience, indicating it is easy to use.

Security:

Zero-day flaw in Google Admin app allows malicious apps to read its files – An unpatched vulnerability in the Google Admin application for Android can allow rogue applications to steal credentials that could be used to access Google for Work acccounts. The flaw lies in the way Google Admin processes and loads URLs received from other applications inside a WebView—a simplified browser window.

Mozilla Makes Private Browsing More Private In Firefox, Adds Tracking Protection – Mozilla is testing a new private browsing mode in Firefox that doesn’t just keep no trace of your porn browsing habits on your machine but that also blocks online services that could track you while you’re surfing the web. That’s not unlike what plug-ins like Ghostery and the EFF’s Privacy Badger can do for you, but Firefox now combines that with its own incognito mode. This new experimental feature is now available in the Firefox Developer Edition for Windows, Mac and Linux, as well as the Firefox Aurora channel on Android.

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Report claims Kaspersky faked malware to trip up competitors’ products – Two former employees of Kaspersky Lab have accused the malware protection software company of seeding competitors’ products with fake malware signatures intended to make them erroneously label benign files on customers’ computers as malicious. The allegations, made in a report published by Reuters Friday morning, have been strongly denied by a Kaspersky Lab spokesperson. According to Reuters, the “junk” files were tailored to have the same signature as legitimate files, based on the fingerprinting mechanisms of competitors’ products. To do this, the two former employees alleged, Kaspersky assigned employees to reverse-engineer competitors’ products to see how they identified malware and then tailored samples that would match the signatures of common, harmless files.

My browser visited Weather.com and all I got was this lousy malware – Millions of people visiting weather.com, drudgereport.com, wunderground.com, and other popular websites were exposed to attacks that can surreptitiously hijack their computers, thanks to maliciously manipulated ads that exploit vulnerabilities in Adobe Flash and other browsing software, researchers said. The malvertising campaign worked by inserting malicious code into ads distributed by AdSpirit.de, a network that delivers ads to Drudge, Wunderground, and other third-party websites, according to a post published Thursday by researchers from security firm Malwarebytes. The ads, in turn, exploited security vulnerabilities in widely used browsers and browser plugins that install malware on end-user computers.

Parrot drones easily taken down or hijacked, researchers demonstrate – In two separate presentations at Def Con in Las Vegas last weekend, security experts demonstrated vulnerabilities in two consumer drones from Parrot. The simplest of the attacks could make Parrot drones, including the company’s Bebop model, fall from the sky with a keystroke. In a live demonstration at Def Con’s Internet of Things Village on August 8, Ryan Satterfield of the security consulting firm Planet Zuda demonstrated a takedown of a Parrot A.R.Drone by exploiting the drone’s built-in Wi-Fi and an open telnet port on the drone’s implementation of the  BusyBox real-time operating system. Connecting to the drone gave him root access to the controller, and he was able to kill the processes controlling flight—causing the drone to drop to the ground.

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Apple squashes serious security bug with update to Mac OS X – Released on Thursday, Mac OS X 10.10.5 resolves scores of holes and technical glitches. But one serious bug in particular was squashed along with the rest. The vulnerability in an environment variable known as DYLD_PRINT_TO_FILE in Apple’s OS X was considered serious because it enables hackers to remotely run a program on a Mac using administrator rights, which opens up wide access to the entire operating system. The vulnerability had already been exploited “in the wild,” or in the real world, according to the Guardian, with at least one adware installer taking advantage of it.

Scan your Android for Certifi-Gate vulnerability – This flaw, dubbed Certifi-Gate, was discovered by Check Point and revealed at Black Hat in Las Vegas. The flaw uses a remote support tool’s security certificate to take total control over an Android device. Unfortunately, the Android platform offers no means of revoking the certificates issued to the vulnerable apps. The only way Certifi-Gate can be fixed is for the makers of the remote support tools to issues patches. This means that you are at the mercy of a third-party, and not all third parties are created equal. But which apps are vulnerable? Here’s the official list from Check Point:

Company News:

News Corp. CEO calls Google thieves (and other things) – News Corp. CEO Robert Thompson isn’t moved by Google’s new Alphabet. As Australia’s mUmbrella reports, in a speech at the Lowy Institute Media Awards, Thompson created his own lexicon of what Google’s Alphabet stands for. He said: “That Google’s newly conceived parent company is to be called Alphabet has itself created a range of delicious permutations: A is for Avarice, B is for Bowdlerize, through to K for Kleptocracy, P for Piracy and Z for Zealotry.” Thompson believes that Google represents a leech on the hard work of those who try to create original content, only to have it purloined by Google’s caring, sharing, Web-controlling ways.

IBM Teams With Canonical To Put Ubuntu Linux On Mainframes – You might not think that ‘Linux’ and ‘mainframe’ belong in the same sentence, but IBM has been putting various flavors of Linux on its mainframe computers for 15 years. Today IBM and Canonical announced that the two companies were teaming up to build one running Ubuntu Linux. The new unit is called the LinuxOne. The announcement comes as part of a broader strategy from IBM designed to drive mainframe usage to a wider audience. This new approach includes a monthly subscription pricing model, deeper involvement with other open source projects, contributing a huge cache of mainframe code to open source and participating in the newly launched Open Mainframe Project.

Court denies Samsung request for rehearing in Apple patent case – A U.S. appeals court has denied Samsung Electronics’ request for a rehearing in a smartphone patent infringement case that awarded rival Apple US$548 million. The case stems from a 2011 patent infringement lawsuit brought by Apple, alleging Samsung infringed on several iPhone patents related to the design and packaging of the smartphone. Fellow tech giants Google, Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Facebook backed Samsung’s appeal of the damages.

Apple’s self-driving car plans may have just been outed – Apple’s supposed self-driving electric car efforts may be real — and far enough along for testing, according to a new report from the Guardian. The publication, citing documents it obtained under a public records act request, said Apple has met with officials from the GoMentum Station, a large former Navy weapons station near San Francisco that is being changed into a high-security testing area for self-driving cars.

Court dismisses Dallas Buyers Club’s letters to infringers – The Federal Court has ruled that Dallas Buyers Club cannot send the draft letters presented to court to the almost 5,000 Australian IP addresses that have allegedly breached its copyright by downloading infringing copies of the film.

Games and Entertainment:

How to Unlock Higher-Quality Xbox Streaming in Windows 10 – I’ve been having fun with Windows 10; it’s a pretty easy operating system for Windows enthusiasts to comprehend. For gamers, there’s the added perk of being able to play Xbox One games on your PC, especially if your computer setup is better than your TV. These games aren’t played on your PC. Microsoft just streams whatever you’re doing on your Xbox One to your computer, and any controller inputs are sent back to your console.

The 15 most anticipated PC games of (the rest of) 2015 – It’s August, which means we’re technically two-thirds of the way through the year. But don’t tell that to video games. We’re about to enter the vaunted “fall release cycle,” which means in the next three or four months publishers will release more big-name games than they’ve released since January. Like last year, though, delays have pushed some of the year’s most-anticipated titles back to 2016. But all is not lost. We’ve rounded up fifteen of the most interesting PC games still scheduled to release this fall, from Fallout 4 to SOMA.

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Fallout 4 – Nov. 10

Unreal wants you to mod dinosaur world with the ARK Dev Kit – This week the folks at Studio Wildcard and Epic Games have teamed up with Alienware to encourage creative folks to go wild in dinosaur-land. In the world of ARK, that is, a video game where the ancient world and the modern world mix in an absolutely wild open world environment. To begin, users need to sign up for a free Unreal account and download the ARK Dev Kit – which is no small task due to its size. The ARK Dev Kit is a cool 42GB in size. It’s massive. But it’s worth the wait. Inside you’ll be rolling around in code, aiming to create one of the following: New Maps, New Functionality, New Game Modes.

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The Witcher 3 mod tools: What can we expect? – Ever since the release of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt back in May, a steady flow of mods have been trickling out for the PC version of the game. However, pretty soon modders will be getting new tools to help make content creation even easier via the introduction of official mod tools by CD Projekt Red. But what can we expect from these tools? I recently got the chance to talk to CD Projekt Red about what The Witcher 3’s mod tools can do and what their plans are for mods in the future.

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The 15 best Android puzzle games for teasing your brain – No mater if you’re into match-three games, word puzzlers, engrossing adventures, or tricky touch-centric affairs, we’ve picked 15 essential Android puzzle games worth tossing on your phone or tablet. Whether you’ve got two minutes or two hours to fill, you’ll find some excellent choices within.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Brilliant GPS navigation system changes to children’s voice near schools – We often drive unconsciously. Our minds drift as our hand-eye coordination pilots our cars automatically. Until, sometimes, it’s too late. So a Scandinavian insurance company — the confidently named If Insurance — came up with an idea that seems blissfully simple, yet potentially very effective. It’s a GPS navigation system with a tiny difference. Whenever you’re driving near schools, day care centers or anywhere where there might be children, the system’s voice switches to that of a child.

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Why Google Became Alphabet, Explained In 120 Seconds – What are the pros and cons of Google reorganizing itself as Alphabet? Well, Larry gets to play with the future, Google can focus on more ambitious projects, and it could help the company retain top talent. But will the independent Alphabet company CEOs get frustrated relying on Larry for resources? Here’s everything you need to know in a quick two minute video.

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How to Get Started With a Fitness Tracker – If you just got your first activity tracker, whether a Fitbit or some other device, you’re about to become aware of your body and fitness level in a whole new light! Fitness trackers bring an awareness to our daily habits and patterns that few other devices can. As a huge proponent of fitness trackers, I personally test and try out as many of them as I can. I remember how it felt to get my first one, and how annoyed I was when I realized after several hours that I hadn’t set it up right! I also know that there are some aspects of fitness trackers you should learn about as soon as possible, because you need to use them for several days before they tell you anything meaningful.

The smartphone battleground of India — and why Xiaomi wants in – India is the world’s fastest growing smartphone market, predicted to overtake the US in just two years. And it’s already becoming one of the most bitterly fought-over pieces of turf in the global smartphone war.

Nerf’s new ‘Rival’ tactical guns are for grown ups, fire at 70MPH – Nerf guns are fun for a moment or two, but the combination of endless dart hunting and lackluster shooting speed/accuracy wears thin quickly. As such, the play rifles have largely been relegated to the realm of children, but that’ll be ending with the maker’s new ‘Rival’ lineup of tactical guns for competitive play. Nerf has been silently working on these new tactical arms for more than four years, and this week graced us all with a behind-the-scenes look at what went into making them. Pre-orders are live, but you’re probably too late: most of them are sold out already.

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Watch as astronauts soar over an Aurora Borealis in the space station – This isn’t your run-of-the-mill snapshot of the Northern Lights. The ten-second clip catches the spectacular moment right as the vibrant greens and violet swirls of light meet the blinding white of the sunrise. The scene, however brief, is otherworldly and reminiscent of fantastic sci-fi visages from the arts. It looks like something out of a Mass Effect cutscene or the psychedelic trip to “The Infinite and Beyond” in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Except this is no piece of fiction: this is real life, and it’s right here near Earth.

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10 ways your phone has embarrassed you in public – Sometimes your smartphone is a life-saver – like when it helps you avoid super awkward situations. But other times it’s not so awesome—like when it rings in the middle of your grandfather’s funeral service, or when your obsession with it causes you to fall into a fountain while texting: Here are 10 times your phone is not on your side. And in public, no less!

Something to think about:

“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”

–     Mae West

Downloads:

Kingsoft Writer Free 2013 – Kingsoft Writer Free 2013 is a totally free word processor program with the qualities matching Microsoft Word and includes a wide range of easy to use features. It is the best Microsoft Word replacement supporting all the Word file formats including .docx. The easy to use user interface makes Kingsoft Writer an attractive choice of software for complete beginners and even the most advanced users. In addition, it introduced lots of useful functions including a built-in Word to PDF converter, automatic spell check, web layout view, etc.

As a free word processor, Kingsoft Writer is more powerful compared with any other similar software, regardless of interface, operation, or storage format. With Kingsoft Writer, it is easy to create visually stunning documents and manage your files. Using the default format already defined, users can save the editor time from having format each document.

The latest version supports saving file as DOCX format.

Pointing up      I’ve used this free application for years. In fact, this is the application that I used to initially set up the web page you are now reading. The screen capture below is an example of my everyday usage of this super freebie.

WPS Office Free 2014 (which includes Kingsoft Writer Free), is also available.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Leaked NSA documents show AT&T had a ‘highly collaborative’ relationship with spy agency – New documents released by Edward Snowden reveal AT&T was far more than just a willing participant in the National Security Agency’s efforts to snoop on the world’s internet usage. NSA documents say that the agency had a “highly collaborative” relationship with AT&T, and the company is described as having an “extreme willingness to help.”

The new details come from a joint report from The New York Times and ProPublica. The key takeaway is that it appears AT&T was happy to help the NSA. It’s already been documented that the telecom giant, like other service providers, did not try to protect its customers’ privacy or make efforts to restrict the NSA’s reach. But it now seems clear that AT&T went out of its way to accommodate the NSA.

According to the joint report, AT&T installed surveillance equipment — at the NSA’s request — in no fewer than 17 internet hubs across the US. To put that in perspective, it’s said that Verizon, the other major telecom in the US, installed “far fewer” systems at its hubs. The NSA’s payments to AT&T for its cooperation — which were previously revealed to be $10 million in 2013 — are reportedly more than double what the agency paid for the second largest program. It’s likely Verizon was the recipient of the second-largest payments.

In addition, the documents reveal that AT&T provided the NSA with emails sent between foreigners years before Verizon started the practice.

The end of privacy as we know it: 60 Minutes uncovers huge mobile phone security vulnerabilities  – IT’S the dirty little secret that’s facilitating what’s being called the biggest breach of privacy ever.

Government, security agencies and the telecommunications industry will be forced to explain a security hole that allows hackers to listen in to conversations and hijack Australians’ mobile phones after it’s exposed by a 60 Minutes investigation, the program claims.

In an investigation into mobile security spanning three continents, reporter Ross Coulthart believes he has uncovered a security vulnerability that could affect any of us, and there’s nothing being done to stop it.

“What it means is that your smartphone is an open book,” he told news.com.au

“Criminals now have access to these huge security holes to steal your data and listen in to your calls. We know telephone companies know about it, we know security agencies know about it, but nothing is being done.” (recommended by Mal C.)

Harper (and friends – Tony Abbott and David Cameron) are a bigger threat than IS – Conservatives PMs Stephen Harper, Tony Abbott and David Cameron parrot the same message — selling fear to win votes.

The comedian Peter Sellers acting in the role of Inspector Clouseau has always been one of my investigative heroes. So, using Clouseau-like sleuthing skills, I think I have finally figured out what Stephen Harper must have meant in the recent Canadian election debate when he warned of an “international movement” presenting “a very serious menace to this planet, including to this country.”

I respectfully submit the following as evidence:

With the next three statements, made in recent days by separate individuals in three different countries, I ask you this question: What is the common thread?

“It would be absolutely foolish for us not to go after this group before they come after us.”

“This is the threat of our generation, the battle of our generation and the fight that we’re going to have.”

“They’re coming after us. We may not feel we are at war with them, but they are certainly at war with us.”

(Drum roll, please …)

And the answer is … conservative prime ministers!

These were words uttered recently by 1) Stephen Harper, Canada; 2) David Cameron, United Kingdom; and 3) Tony Abbott, Australia.

Their similarities are revealing. What links these three leaders, apart from their common ideology, is a remarkably identical — and extreme — approach to the challenges of today’s Middle East. In fact, there are growing signs that these politicians, all comrades in arms, are quietly working from the same playbook.

After all, the formula is simple: Wildly exaggerate the actual threat. Inflame the rhetoric. Blame Muslims. Brush aside issues of human rights. And strap in — while the votes flow your way. It is a clever way to distract voters from more immediate and genuine threats, such as climate change and the economy.

In my view, if this doesn’t fit the criteria of an “international movement” posing “a very serious menace to this planet,” I don’t know what does.

New York Times: The Closing of the Canadian Mind – THE prime minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, has called an election for Oct. 19, but he doesn’t want anyone to talk about it.

He has chosen not to participate in the traditional series of debates on national television, confronting his opponents in quieter, less public venues, like the scholarly Munk Debates and CPAC, Canada’s equivalent of CSPAN. His own campaign events were subject to gag orders until a public outcry forced him to rescind the forced silence of his supporters.

Mr. Harper’s campaign for re-election has so far been utterly consistent with the personality trait that has defined his tenure as prime minister: his peculiar hatred for sharing information.

Americans have traditionally looked to Canada as a liberal haven, with gun control, universal health care and good public education.

But the nine and half years of Mr. Harper’s tenure have seen the slow-motion erosion of that reputation for open, responsible government. His stance has been a know-nothing conservatism, applied broadly and effectively. He has consistently limited the capacity of the public to understand what its government is doing, cloaking himself and his Conservative Party in an entitled secrecy, and the country in ignorance.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein is worried net neutrality might help the terrorists – In a remarkable feat, internet providers have apparently succeeded in making the net neutrality fight about terrorism. In a newly-published letter delivered to the Federal Communications Commission in May, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca) raised concerns that the new net neutrality rules might be used to shield terrorists. In particular, Feinstein was concerned that Dzhokar Tsarnaev had studied bomb-making materials on the internet — specifically, online copies of AQAP’s Inspire magazine — and that many broadband providers had complained to her that net neutrality rules would prevent them from honoring any orders to block that content.

It’s quite a bind, and in the letter, Feinstein entreats FCC chair Tom Wheeler to assure providers that it isn’t true. The senator acknowledges that there are laws against material support for terrorism, and Title II only applies to legal web traffic, but “nonetheless, there is apparently confusion among at least some broadband providers on whether they may take such actions in order to promote national security and law enforcement purposes.”

This argument is nonsense for at least three different reasons.

Will Supreme Court force DHS to divulge secret plan to cut cell service? – The Supreme Court was asked in a petition to force the government to disclose the US clandestine plan to disable cell service during emergencies.

The case concerns Standard Operating Procedure 303. A federal appeals court in May said the government did not have to release its full contents because the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) allows the authorities to withhold records if they would “endanger” public safety.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center told the high court’s justices Tuesday that the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit’s decision created a new “catchall provision that can be used in any case involving records related to domestic and national security programs.” (PDF)

The privacy group had demanded the documents from the Department of Homeland Security in 2011 following the shuttering of cell service in the San Francisco Bay Area subway system to quell a protest. The Department of Homeland Security refused to divulge the documents associated with SOP 303, which the appeals court described as a “unified voluntary process for the orderly shut-down and restoration of wireless services during critical emergencies such as the threat of radio-activated improvised explosive devices.”

Woman fined for Facebook pic of police car in disabled spot – In the US, citizens have begun to film the police with abandon.

In turn, the police have started to wear bodycams in order to capture what they see.

In Spain, however, a new gagging law has been enacted. It’s titled the Citizens Security Law.

When laws are named this way, you get the feeling that citizens’ security might not be their primary aim.

This law limits what people can post on social networks about, for example protests. It also prevents “the unauthorized use of images of police officers that might jeopardize their or their family’s safety or that of protected facilities or police operations.”

Oddly, this law has just been used to fine a woman who took a photograph of a police car. This particular car was parked (illegally) in a disabled spot.

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

Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday Edition – July 29, 2015

Windows 10 begins its rollout to 190 countries;  Your Complete Guide to Microsoft Windows 10 ;  Windows 10: Nine things you need to know;  3 tips for a hassle-free Windows 10 upgrade;  Windows 10: The best tricks, tips, and tweaks;  10 things Windows 10 does better than Windows 8;  The Best FREE Antivirus for 2015;  How to lock and unlock your USB ports;  How to really delete a file in Windows;  How to recycle your phone for cash;  Microsoft sinks in antivirus tests, as Avira, Bitdefender hit top scores;  Play GTA V (and anything else) in your browser thanks to Windows tool;   Most Android phones at risk from simple text hack;  PS4 gets a mini keyboard and mouse this November;  Critical vulnerability in Apple App Store, iTunes revealed;  How to lock and unlock your USB ports;  12 Ways Tech Can Land You in Jail… Or Worse.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Windows 10 begins its rollout to 190 countries – The day has finally arrived. Microsoft has opened the floodgates and started the ball rolling to bring Windows 10 to desktops, laptops, and tablets everywhere. And by everywhere, we mean a whopping 190 countries. Naturally, Microsoft is in a very celebratory mood, though some might think it’s a bit too early to party. Nonetheless, there is no stopping the latest version of Windows from making or breaking the company’s legacy, setting its tone for the next 10 years or so as Microsoft navigates the waters of a mobile-centric world.

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Your Complete Guide to Microsoft Windows 10 – Microsoft is rolling out Windows 10 beginning at 12 a.m. ET Wednesday morning. Here’s everything you need to know about the latest Windows operating system before installing it.

Windows 10: Nine things you need to know – Have burning questions about Microsoft’s operating system? Here are some answers.

3 tips for a hassle-free Windows 10 upgrade – If you’ve got a Windows 7 or 8.1 PC, you’re eligible for a free upgrade, and there’s a lot to love about Windows 10, from new features to under-the-hood tweaks to a much-needed interface revamp. Before you upgrade, however, there some things you can do to make your migration to the next chapter in Windows history as seamless as possible.

8 Windows 10 settings you should change right away – Before you do anything else, change these Windows 10 settings!

10 things Windows 10 does better than Windows 8 – Fixing the Start menu is just the beginning. Windows 10 brings many other good changes, and we show you the best ones here.

Windows 10: The best tricks, tips, and tweaks – Windows 10, Microsoft’s back-to-basics re-embracing of the PC, is already brimming with handy new features, and with all the new goodies comes with a legion of new tweaks and tricks—some of which unlock powerful functionality hidden to everyday users. Here are some of the most useful Windows 10 tweaks, tricks, and tips we’ve found.

Walmart selling $100 tablet with free Windows 10 upgrade – Windows 10 is the next big thing, and those wanting to try it on a small tablet should check out the Nextbook Flexx 8 for $99.99 at Walmart.

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Download: Windows 10 ISOs – If you need to download Windows 10 ISOs, Microsoft has now opened up the download page and you can find the download links after the jump so that you can begin installing the OS.

Windows 10 alternatives that won’t disappoint – This gallery highlights various OSs that are, for most users, adequate replacements for Windows 10. Many of the options featured here can be used in VirtualBox, if you prefer to give it a spin without dual-booting or formatting your system.

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Google’s Chrome OS

How to lock and unlock your USB ports – External flash and hard drives can be used to deliver malware or steal sensitive files. Here’s how to control who can use them.

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Amazon Prime Music Arrives in the U.K. – More than a year after launching in the U.S., the streaming service is expanding to Britain, where members can access tens of thousands of albums from chart toppers to classic artists.

Next-gen Android One phone launches in India for $176 – The Lava Pixel V1 offers a solid value for the price, combining mid-range hardware with the latest Android software updates from Google.

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Meet the $329 Phone Everyone’s Been Waiting For – OnePlus, a rising smartphone star in China, released a new, top-of-the-line product this morning. It’s a smartphone called the OnePlus 2—an admittedly clever bit of mathematical marketing—and it’s billed as the “2016 Flagship Killer.” Translation: Dear Samsung, Apple, Lenovo, Huawei, and LG: We’re comin’ for ya.

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How to really delete a file in Windows – On modern PCs, a file doesn’t actually go away when you hit the Delete key. The bits on your storage drive that represent that file simply get flipped to a hidden state, and they’re tagged to be written over by other bits later. This requires less time and processing power than scrubbing every deleted file off your hard drive. Gradually, bits from other files overlap the old file and eliminate it. This process could take seconds or weeks, depending on how much you use your drive and what kinds of files you’re putting on it. While Windows doesn’t have a built-in utility to truly delete a file, there are several free third-party tools.

How to recycle your phone for cash – Even if you’re not in the market for a new device, owners of ancient, cracked, and broken electronics that won’t even turn on can still cash in on this promise of recompense. Here are some practical tips about the different ways you can convert your phone into at least a little bit of cash — pointers that typically apply to big-ticket electronics, too, like digital cameras and laptops.

A list of all the Google Now voice commands – Here’s a list of just about everything you can say to Google Now. Try experimenting with different phrasing, you’ll be surprised how much it understands. The part of the phrase in [brackets] can be replaced with any similar term you choose. If Google Now doesn’t get your spoken commands right, you can correct it by saying “No, I said…” and trying the phrase again.

Security:

Most Android phones at risk from simple text hack, researcher says – The flaw, says researcher Zimperium, exists in the media playback tool built into Android, called Stagefright. Malicious hackers could take advantage of it by sending to an Android device a simple text message that, once received by the smartphone, would give them complete control over the handset and allow them to steal anything on it, such as credit card numbers or personal information.

Google pledges a speedy Stagefright security fix for Nexus devices – That still leaves the vast majority of the Android ecosystem unprotected unless the carriers and manufacturers apply Google’s fix.

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Critical vulnerability in Apple App Store, iTunes revealed – A critical flaw has been discovered in Apple’s App Store and iTunes invoice system which could result in session hijacking and malicious invoice manipulation. Revealed this week by security researcher Benjamin Kunz Mejri from Vulnerability Lab, the persistent injection flaw, deemed critical, is an application-side input validation web vulnerability. In an advisory, the researcher said the vulnerability allows remote attackers to inject malicious script codes into flawed content function and service modules.

The Best Free Antivirus for 2015 – Cybercriminals want your money, just like any other criminals. Installing free antivirus software lets you lock out the bad guys without paying a cent.

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Microsoft sinks in antivirus tests, as Avira, Bitdefender hit top scores – The latest antivirus scores from the Madgeburg, Germany-based testing lab AV-Test ranks Windows Defender as the worst-performing anti-malware app out of the 22 most common consumer products tested. Windows Defender, baked into the latest versions of Windows, scored just 9.5 points out of a total of 18.

How to disable Windows 10’s Wi-Fi Sense password sharing – Windows 10’s new Wi-Fi Sense feature is a powerful tool that takes the headache out of managing Wi-Fi connections on the run. With Wi-Fi Sense enabled, Windows 10 will automatically sign you into open Wi-Fi networks, as well as private networks that your Outlook.com, Skype, and Facebook contacts have logged into—so you won’t have to manually sign into the network when you visit your buddy’s house. As convenient as Wi-Fi Sense is, however, not everyone’s thrilled with it. Windows 10 enables Wi-Fi Sense by default, but you can disable it. Here’s how.

Company News:

Intel, Micron debut 3D XPoint storage technology that’s 1,000 times faster than current SSDs – Intel and Micron today unveiled their all-new memory technology called 3D XPoint (pronounced “cross-point”). This is a new class of memory that can be used both as system memory as well as nonvolatile storage. In other words, 3D XPoint can be used to replace both a computer’s RAM and its solid-state drive (SSD). The companies claim that 3D XPoint is a major breakthrough in memory process technology, the first new memory category since the introduction of NAND flash in 1989. It’s said to be extremely fast and durable, up to a thousand times faster (both in read and write speeds), and it will have higher endurance than existing NAND Flash memory currently being used in SSDs.

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Razer Buys Android-Based Game Console Maker Ouya – Razer purchased Ouya’s software assets, including its content catalog and online retail platform. As part of the deal, Ouya’s technical team and developer relations personnel will be joining Razer. Financial terms of the deal, which closed on June 12, were not disclosed. The acquisition does not include Ouya’s hardware business.

Twitter’s user growth skids to a stop – Twitter has been a slow-growth company for a while. The company on Tuesday warned investors that it’s essentially a no-growth company. “We do not expect to see sustained meaningful growth in [monthly active users] until we start to reach the mass market,” Twitter CFO Anthony Noto told analysts during the company’s second quarter conference call. “We expect that will take a considerable period of time.” Shares plunged more than 11 percent in after-hours trading.

Nokia jumps into virtual reality market with 360-degree Ozo camera – Nokia Technologies plans to return to the consumer market, focusing on virtual reality rather than the cell phones that made it famous. The Finnish company — what was left of the former cell phone giant after Microsoft bought its handset division last year — on Tuesday night unveiled Ozo, a next-generation camera for capturing 360-degree video and audio. Unveiled at an entertainment industry event in Los Angeles, the orb-shaped camera is designed for professional content creators rather than consumers.

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GoDaddy launches in Australia to target small businesses – After using Australia as a pilot market, GoDaddy has formally launched locally and has appointed Tara Commerford as the Australia and New Zealand country manager.

LinkedIn brings back simple, instant contact exports following user outrage – After dabbling with something new and far slower, LinkedIn is once again making it easy to grab a list of your contacts from the social network. This weekend, the company said it is reverting to its previous contact download process, which delivers all the data in CSV format. LinkedIn says it decided to go back to its old ways following user outrage over a new system that took 24 to 72 hours to prepare a download.

Games and Entertainment:

Play GTA V (and anything else) in your browser thanks to Windows tool – If your laptop doesn’t have the muscle to run a game like GTA V at anything approaching acceptable levels of quality, you might not need any beefy hardware in the first place. The developer of an app called Instant Webcam has adapted the underlying tools to make it possible to stream a game to any web browser, and it works “way better than it should.” The program is called jsmpeg-vnc, and it’s available for free and it’s open source.

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Final ‘CoD: Advanced Warfare’ DLC Arrives Aug. 4 – The fourth and final add-on pack for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Reckoning, arrives Aug. 4 on Xbox, with other platforms to follow. The DLC features new maps with the Exo Grapple mechanic for fast-paced multiplayer combat. The intense charts lead players from New Baghdad to South Korea in four very different scenarios:

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King’s Quest: A Knight to Remember review: An old classic gets a terrific new start – It’s a little friendlier and a lot more talkative than the King’s Quest games of yore, but this is an excellent sequel to/re-imagining of a long-dormant classic.

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The Witcher 3’s final free DLC is a New Game Plus mode – Already put 100+ hours into The Witcher 3? Tracked down every question mark on the map, looted every barrel, completed every Witcher Contract? What’s a monster-slayer to do when everything’s already been done? Wipe the map clean and start it all over again, obviously. CD Projekt Red confirmed today that The Witcher 3’s final piece of free DLC will be a New Game Plus (NG+) mode.

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PS4 gets a mini keyboard and mouse this November – Which input method is superior for gaming? If you’re talking about first-person shooters, then the answer is an obvious one: keyboard and mouse wins. I’m sure some gamers out there will argue against that, but the accuracy offered by this combination can’t be matched by thumbsticks on a typical console controller. Now PS4 (and PS3) owners will have the opportunity to experience such control because they are getting the option of a keyboard and mouse setup from Hori. It’s called the Tactical Assault Commander, and consists of a mini keyboard and mouse configuration.

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40 Movies and TV Shows Leaving Netflix in August – If you have doubts about the constant rotation of titles, check out the blog What’s On Netflix Now? which is doing a great job of tracking not only the movies and shows Netflix says are going, but the ones that disappear without warning. (Yes, that means more than 40 are probably leaving the service in August. C’mon, Netflix. Not cool.) This coming month, say good-bye to several Bruce Willis classics.

Off Topic (Sort of):

12 Ways Tech Can Land You in Jail… Or Worse – When we unbox a new gadget or download an app, we often hastily discard or dismiss the accompanying pages of dry documentation and fine print. But those pages may come back to haunt us as a lawsuit if they’re not properly heeded. Here are a few examples of how tweeting, jailbreaking, and even getting spam can put people on a precarious legal ledge that in some cases may cost them their lives.

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Facebook shares its diversity training course with all – Facebook on Tuesday launched a new page called “Managing Unconscious Bias,” which features a training course and several informational videos aimed at improving diversity in the workplace. The training course, which was developed by Facebook, educates would-be employers and job-seekers on the realities of bias in the hiring process. The training was previously provided to Facebook employees.

Nike’s developing an ice hat to keep your head cool – Feel too hot after your summer runs but don’t like pouring water on your head? Nike’s developing an alternative, a yet-unnamed ice hat of sorts that will chill your head more effectively, and without the mess. It’s more of a shrouded helmet than a hat, featuring a large hood-like component with a neck piece and face mesh. It is being developed in conjunction with Olympic gold medalist Ashton Eaton, and its design goal is to reduce an athlete’s overall body temperature by rapidly cooling down one’s head.

The Distiller App: A Portal to the World of Whiskey – Summertime is here, which means a slower pace of life, less stress and more time for the things we enjoy. Since I enjoy fine whiskey and technology, I came across an appropriate blend (pun intended) of the two in the form of a free mobile app called “Distiller.”

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Image: Distiller

A Visual History of Microsoft Windows – Whether you fiddled with MS DOS in the early days or only just snagged a Windows 8 laptop for the school year, most modern PC users have experienced Windows in one way or another. Before you grab your free Windows 10 update on Wednesday, take a trip down memory lane, and remember what your Windows desktop used to look like.

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E-ink traffic signs debut in Australia – The same technology used on the display of your Amazon Kindle is now appearing in traffic signs in Sydney, Australia. While e-ink may not have the same visual punch as the OLED display on a smartphone, the technology is great for its low power consumption and easy visibility in various lighting conditions. That’s probably the exact reason the Australian Road and Maritime Services (RMS) has gone with e-ink in traffic signs used for special events, which need to be updated frequently and easily seen by drivers.

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Musk, Woz: Let’s Hold Off on the Killer Robots – Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, and professor Stephen Hawking are among the 1,000-plus artificial intelligence and robotics researchers who endorsed an open letter warning against the technology. While autonomous weapons make the front line safer for soldiers, they may also lower the threshold for going to battle, and likely result in more human casualties, according to the FLI. “The key question for humanity today is whether to start a global AI arms race or to prevent it from starting,” the letter said.

Something to think about:

“Remember that children, marriages, and flower gardens reflect the kind of care they get.”

–     H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Today’s Free Downloads:

PortExpert: CyberSecurity at your finger tips – PortExpert gives you a detailed vision of your personnal computer cybersecurity. It automatically monitors all applications connected to the Internet and give you all the information you might need to identify potential threats to your system.

Features:

Monitor of application using TCP/UDP communications

User-friendly interface

Identifies remote servers (WhoIs service)

Allows to open containing folder of any applications

Allow to easily search for more info online

Automatic identification of related service : FTP, HTTP, HTTPS,…

Capability to show/hide system level processes

Capability to show/hide loopbacks

Time freeze function

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Avast. The world’s #1 antivirus – With more than 230 million users, Avast is the most trusted security & antivirus in the world. You are now just a few clicks away from protecting your PC for free.

Only Avast has Home Network Security – For the first time ever, you can protect your home network devices, such as routers and wireless devices, from hacker attacks.

More exciting features:

Avast Browser Cleanup – Remove annoying browser toolbars or extensions, and restore your hijacked search browser.

Avast Software Updater – Easily update your important software to increase the overall security and condition of your PC.

Avast Remote Assistance – Remote Assistance lets you help or be helped over the Internet.

Tweaking.com – Windows Repair – Tweaking.com – Windows Repair is a tool designed help fix a large majority of known Windows problems including; registry errors, file permissions, issues with Internet Explorer, Windows Updates, Windows Firewall and more. Malware and poorly installed programs can modify your default settings resulting in your machine working badly – or worse. With Tweaking.com Windows Repair you can restore Windows original settings fixing many of these problems outright.

Tweaking.com – Windows Repairs section as always been completely free for both personal and business use. We offer a Pro version. adds features like automatic updates, an enhanced drive cleaner, memory cleaner, speed tweaks and more. This allows you to support future development and get something in return!

Tweaking.com – Windows Repair is an all-in-one repair tool to help fix a large majority of known Windows problems including:

Unhide Non System Files

Repair problems with .lnk (Shortcuts)

File Association

WMI

Windows Firewall

Internet Explorer

Windows Installer (MSI)

Hosts File

Policies Set By Infections

Icons

Winsock & DNS Cache

Proxy Settings

Windows Updates

CD/DVD Missing/Not Working

Reset Registry and File Permissions

Register System Files

Remove Temp Files

and more…

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Activists Flood Congress With Faxes to Protest Cybersecurity Bill – Internet activists opposed to a controversial cybersecurity bill are trying to get Congress’ attention the old-fashioned way: by flooding its fax machines.

The nonprofit group Fight For the Future has set up eight phone lines to convert emails and tweets protesting the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) into faxes that will be sent to all 100 U.S. senators. Supporters can fax their own messages via FaxBigBrother.com or with the hashtag #faxbigbrother.

NSA will lose access to ‘historical’ phone surveillence data Nov. 29 – The U.S. National Security Agency will lose access to the bulk telephone records data it has collected at the end of November, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence announced Monday.

Congress voted in June to rein in the NSAs mass collection of U.S. phone metadata, which includes information such as the timing and location of calls. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court then gave the NSA 180 days to wind the program down.

The Director of National Intelligence had been evaluating whether the NSA should maintain access to the historical data it collected after that 180 days is up. It’s now determined that access to that data will cease on Nov. 29.

After that date, the NSA must receive approval from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, also known as the FISA Court, to request the data from phone companies on a case-by-case basis.

Even former heads of NSA, DHS think crypto backdoors are stupid – Michael Chertoff, the former head of the Department of Homeland Security and a former federal prosecutor, made some surprising remarks last week, coming out strongly against cryptographic backdoors that could be provided to the government upon request.

“I think that it’s a mistake to require companies that are making hardware and software to build a duplicate key or a back door even if you hedge it with the notion that there’s going to be a court order,” he said to the crowd at the Aspen Security Forum.

Obama won’t pardon Snowden, despite petition – U.S. President Barack Obama won’t pardon National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, despite strong public support for it, the White House said Tuesday.

A petition on WhiteHouse.gov calling for Obama to pardon Snowden has nearly 168,000 signatures, but that’s not enough to sway the president, said Lisa Monaco, Obama’s advisor on homeland security and counterterrorism.

Obama has pushed for surveillance reforms “since taking office,” Monaco wrote on the WhiteHouse.gov petition site. “Instead of constructively addressing these issues, Mr. Snowden’s dangerous decision to steal and disclose classified information had severe consequences for the security of our country and the people who work day in and day out to protect it,” she added.

Monaco’s response to the petition doesn’t mention that nearly all of the surveillance reforms endorsed by the Obama administration were proposed after Snowden began leaking information about NSA surveillance programs in mid-2013.

Groups urge Obama to oppose cyberthreat sharing bills – U.S. President Barack Obama should oppose legislation intended to let businesses share cyberthreat information with each other and with government agencies because the bill would allow the sharing of too much personal information, a coalition of digital rights groups and security experts said.

The coalition of 39 digital rights and privacy groups and 29 security experts urged Obama to threaten to veto the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), a bill that may come to the Senate floor for a vote by early August. CISA would protect from customer lawsuits those businesses that share cyberthreat information.

“CISA fails to protect users’ personal information,” the coalition said in a letter to Obama, sent Monday. “It allows vast amounts of personal data to be shared with the government, even that which is not necessary to identify or respond to a cybersecurity threat.”

The groups compared CISA to the controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), a cyberthreat sharing bill that the House of Representatives approved in 2013. CISPA failed to become law after Obama threatened to veto it.

Backers of CISA and similar bills say the sharing of cyberthreat information is necessary for businesses and government agencies to respond to ongoing attacks.

WordPress on national security demands: “We wish we could tell you more” – The company behind popular web blogging software WordPress said it has not received a single national security order in two years, according to its latest transparency report.

That’s a decline from the demands it received in the second half of 2013, which Automattic confirmed it received between zero and 249 demands.

The software maker was critical of the government’s rules it was obliged to follow when reporting its figures. Following the Edward Snowden leaks, the Justice Dept. allowed companies to disclose how many national security requests — including gag orders and warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court — as a show of good faith. But companies are still obliged to report in numerical ranges, which the software maker — and other firms — have criticized.

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