Tech

|| May 2017

 

Hidden Camera and Bug Detector for iPhone

||  Youtube

The first Hidden Camera Detector for iPhone helps you make sure there are no spy cameras invading your privacy.

More info @ http://hcdapp.com/

 

 

Computer Researcher Combats Global Cyber Crisis With $10 And Some Change

|| DailyCaller

“A British computer researcher was able to help curb the cyber attack that reportedly affected at least 74 countries Friday, by purchasing a website address for $10.69.

A separate tech expert, Darien Huss of the cybersecurity company Proofpoint, aptly noticed that the ransomware’s web address, which included a series of random numbers and letters, ended with “gwea.com.”

Ransomware is a type of infected software designed to take over a computer system and then block access for the authorized user. Hackers encrypt information critical to the performance of hospitals or other institutions, then demand money (usually in the form of BitCoin, a digital currency) in return for the encryption password.

The British security researcher, known online as MalwareTech, investigated and found out that the corrupted online address was still available to buy.

“I saw it [gwea.com] wasn’t registered and thought, ‘I think I’ll have that,’” MalwareTech told The Daily Beast, who purchased it on NameCheap.com, a domain name registrar service.

MalwareTech decided to direct the malware and infected computer systems toward a “sinkhole” server, which gives out false information and renders computers incapable of accessing the correct site. The malware, or infected software that locks out legitimate users, would exit the server after the traffic was connected to the domain.

“One thing that is very important to note is our sinkholing only stops this sample and there is nothing stopping them removing the domain check and trying again,” MalwareTech wrote Saturday on his official blog. “So it’s incredibly important that any unpatched systems are patched as quickly as possible.”

The researcher says its important for people to update their computer software, because the cybercriminal could update the ransomware and relaunch it again to circumvent the sinkhole server.”

…Continue reading more @ Daily Caller

 

|| Apr 2017

Twitter’s Gnip chief Chris Moody is joining Foundry Group

|| VentureBeat.com

 

“Twitter is losing another key executive as Gnip chief executive Chris Moody has announced his departure. He has joined venture capital firm Foundry Group as a partner, a move Moody described as a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” It’s believed that his last day will be at the end of May.

For more than two decades, Moody has been involved in the enterprise either as an executive or consultant. He’s worked at Oracle, IBM, and Aquent before joining Gnip as chief operating officer in 2011 and then assuming the role of CEO at the big data platform in 2013, leading up to its acquisition by Twitter in 2014. Since then, he’s served as a vice president and general manager of the company’s data and enterprise solutions.

Moody’s relationship with Foundry Group isn’t new, as both he and the firm are from the Boulder, Colorado area, and the firm had been an investor in Gnip. When it came time for Foundry to raise its next fund last September, the partners decided to begin having conversations with Moody.

The departure of Moody strikes another blow to Twitter’s developer relations, especially among brands using the service’s feed of data. But it’s likely that the company already has a backup in place, although a name was not immediately known. We’ve reached out to Twitter for additional information. His resignation joins others in the developer advocacy and platform side who have recently left, including developer advocacy lead Bear Douglas, senior developer advocate Romain Huet, head of developer relations Jeff Sandquist, and senior director of developer and platform relations Prashant Sridharan.

And let’s not also forget about the other executives that have also departed since 2016, such as COO Adam Bain, chief technology officer Adam Messinger, vice president of communications Natalie Kerris, vice president of product Josh McFarland, Vine general manager Jason Toff, and vice president of global media Katie Stanton.

Moody’s move to venture capital could be nothing more than a sign that he wanted to become an investor. But what will Twitter do now to maintain its relationship with brands eager to tap into the service’s firehose of data?”

….Continue reading more @ VentureBeat.com

|| Mar 2017

The Creepy, Long-Standing Practice of Undersea Cable Tapping

| the Atlantic

The newest NSA leaks reveal that governments are probing “the Internet’s backbone.” How does that work?

In the early 1970’s, the U.S. government learned that an undersea cable ran parallel to the Kuril Islands off the eastern coast of Russia, providing a vital communications link between two major Soviet naval bases. The problem? The Soviet Navy had completely blocked foreign ships from entering the region.Not to be deterred, the National Security Agency launched Operation Ivy Bells, deploying fast-attack submarines and combat divers to drop waterproof recording pods on the lines. Every few weeks, the divers would return to gather the tapes and deliver them to the NSA, which would then binge-listen to their juicy disclosures.The project ended in 1981, when NSA employee Ronald Pelton sold information about the program to the KGB for $35,000. He’s still serving his life prison term.The operation might have ended, but for the NSA, this underwater strategy clearly stuck around.
In addition to gaining access to web companies’ servers and asking for phone metadata, we’ve now learned that both the U.S. and the U.K. spy agencies aretapping directly into the Internet’s backbone — the undersea fiber optic cables that shuttle online communications between countries and servers. For some privacy activists, this process is even more worrisome than monitoring call metadata because it allows governments to make copies of everything that transverses these cables, if they wanted to.”…Continue reading much more @ The Atlantic 

|| Feb 2017

That ‘Useless’ Liberal Arts Degree Has Become Tech’s Hottest Ticket

– Forbes

 

“In less than two years Slack Technologies has become one of the most glistening of tech’s ten-digit “unicorn” startups, boasting 1.1 million users and a private market valuation of $2.8 billion. If you’ve used Slack’s team-based messaging software, you know that one of its catchiest innovations is Slackbot, a helpful little avatar that pops up periodically to provide tips so jaunty that it seems human.

Such creativity can’t be programmed. Instead, much of it is minted by one of Slack’s 180 employees, Anna Pickard, the 38-year-old editorial director. She earned a theater degree from Britain’s Manchester Metropolitan University before discovering that she hated the constant snubs of auditions that didn’t work out. After winning acclaim for her blogging, videogame writing and cat impersonations, she found her way into tech, where she cooks up zany replies to users who type in “I love you, Slackbot.” It’s her mission, Pickard explains, “to provide users with extra bits of surprise and delight.” The pay is good; the stock options, even better.

What kind of boss hires a thwarted actress for a business-to-business software startup? Stewart Butterfield, Slack’s 42-year-old cofounder and CEO, whose estimated double-digit stake in the company could be worth $300 million or more. He’s the proud holder of an undergraduate degree in philosophy from Canada’s University of Victoria and a master’s degree from Cambridge in philosophy and the history of science.

“Studying philosophy taught me two things,” says Butterfield, sitting in his office in San Francisco’s South of Market district, a neighborhood almost entirely dedicated to the cult of coding. “I learned how to write really clearly. I learned how to follow an argument all the way down, which is invaluable in running meetings. And when I studied the history of science, I learned about the ways that everyone believes something is true–like the old notion of some kind of ether in the air propagating gravitational forces–until they realized that it wasn’t true.

In less than two years Slack Technologies has become one of the most glistening of tech’s ten-digit “unicorn” startups, boasting 1.1 million users and a private market valuation of $2.8 billion. If you’ve used Slack’s team-based messaging software, you know that one of its catchiest innovations is Slackbot, a helpful little avatar that pops up periodically to provide tips so jaunty that it seems human.

Such creativity can’t be programmed. Instead, much of it is minted by one of Slack’s 180 employees, Anna Pickard, the 38-year-old editorial director. She earned a theater degree from Britain’s Manchester Metropolitan University before discovering that she hated the constant snubs of auditions that didn’t work out. After winning acclaim for her blogging, videogame writing and cat impersonations, she found her way into tech, where she cooks up zany replies to users who type in “I love you, Slackbot.” It’s her mission, Pickard explains, “to provide users with extra bits of surprise and delight.” The pay is good; the stock options, even better.

What kind of boss hires a thwarted actress for a business-to-business software startup? Stewart Butterfield, Slack’s 42-year-old cofounder and CEO, whose estimated double-digit stake in the company could be worth $300 million or more. He’s the proud holder of an undergraduate degree in philosophy from Canada’s University of Victoria and a master’s degree from Cambridge in philosophy and the history of science.

“Studying philosophy taught me two things,” says Butterfield, sitting in his office in San Francisco’s South of Market district, a neighborhood almost entirely dedicated to the cult of coding. “I learned how to write really clearly. I learned how to follow an argument all the way down, which is invaluable in running meetings. And when I studied the history of science, I learned about the ways that everyone believes something is true–like the old notion of some kind of ether in the air propagating gravitational forces–until they realized that it wasn’t true.”

Slack’s core business benefits from the philosopher’s touch. Hard-core engineers have been trying to build knowledge-management software for at least 15 years. Most of their approaches are so cumbersome that corporate users can’t wait to quit. Slack makes everything simple. It bridges everything from Dropbox to Twitter, helping users organize documents, photos and data files into streamlined channels for easy browsing. Considering that Butterfield spent his early 20s trying to make sense of Wittgenstein’s writings, sorting out corporate knowledge might seem simple.

And he’s far from alone. Throughout the major U.S. tech hubs, whether Silicon Valley or Seattle, Boston or Austin, Tex., software companies are discovering that liberal arts thinking makes them stronger.  Engineers may still command the biggest salaries, but at disruptive juggernauts such as Facebook and Uber, the war for talent has moved to nontechnical jobs, particularly sales and marketing. The more that audacious coders dream of changing the world, the more they need to fill their companies with social alchemists who can connect with customers–and make progress seem pleasant.

Think of the ways the automobile revolution of the 1920s created enormous numbers of jobs for people who helped fit cars into everyday life: marketers, salesmen, driving instructors, road crews and so on. Something similar is afoot today. MIT professors Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee argue in a recent book, The Second Machine Age, that today’s tech wave will inspire a new style of work in which tech takes care of routine tasks so that people can concentrate on what mortals do best: generating creative ideas and actions in a data-rich world.”

….Continue reading more @ Forbes

The Atlantic Goes After Apple |

The Myth of Apple’s Great Design

-theAtlantic.com

Apple has great design is the biggest myth in technology today.
Steve Jobs’s design philosophy was fascist more than it was exacting.
…but if Apple designs at its best when attending closely to details like those revealed in the construction of its spaceship headquarters, then presumably the details of its products would stand out as worthy precedents. Yet, when this premise is tested, it comes up wanting. In truth, Apple’s products hide a shambles of bad design under the perfection of sleek exteriors.
Take Apple’s late-2016 MacBook Pro, its latest flagship laptop. The new model ships only with USB-C ports. But all of Apple’s current devices, including the iPhone 7 and a rechargeable Bluetooth keyboard and mouse come with USB-A cables, which cannot connect to the new laptop. A replacement cable can be had— for $20.

 

Apple has great design is the biggest myth in technology today. The latest victim of this ideology comes in the form a remarkable report on the late Steve Jobs’s final project, still in production: a new, $5 billion Cupertino headquarters for Apple Inc.

Writing for Reuters, Julia Love outlines the campus’s “astonishing attention to detail.” Vents and pipes remain obscured from reflection in the structure’s massive, curved-glass façade. Thick guidebooks regulate the usage of wood. Structural seams are held to a standards measuring a fraction of normal construction tolerances. Individual ceiling panels require multi-step approval. A door handle—the project’s first deliverable—is rejected for sub-nanometer imperfections. Even the empty spaces of thresholds are subjected to meticulous attention:

One of the most vexing features was the doorways, which Apple wanted to be perfectly flat, with no threshold. The construction team pushed back, but Apple held firm.

The rationale? If engineers had to adjust their gait while entering the building, they risked distraction from their work, according to a former construction manager.

Love compares Apple’s construction design process to that of its product design. The building is meant to be “as flawless as a hand-held device,” she writes, a process supposedly brought about by “treating the construction of the vast complex the same way they approach the design of pocket-sized electronics.

The iPhone is no better off. Starting with the iPhone 5S, first released in 2014, Apple adopted a software-controlled fingerprint sensor mounted on the home button. Known as Touch ID, the feature allows users to authenticate to unlock the phone, download products from the App Store, and make payments at participating retailers with Apple Pay. But even the slightest disturbance on a finger makes Touch ID unreliable. Washed your hands recently? Ate a banana? Dug in the dirt of the garden? Touched something too warm, or too cold, for too long? Good luck authenticating with your fingerprint. A mere inconvenience when unlocking the phone, but Apple Pay won’t work at all without Touch ID. So fat chance using that new digital wallet on a rainy day, or after tactilely interacting with worldly substances.

Steve Jobs’s design philosophy was fascist more than it was exacting. The man was a not a demigod of design, but its dictator. He made things get made the way he wanted them made, and his users appreciated his definitiveness and lack of compromise. They mistook those conceits for virtues in the objects themselves.

And enjoyed it. At a time when every company bows to even the most absurd demands of the consumer, Apple never cared what its customers thought, or wanted. Instead it told them what to like, and how to like it. What a relief! The corporate design autocracy obviates the need for decision-making. Computer users won’t use floppy disks because there is no floppy drive. Later, likewise optical drives. Later, likewise mini-stereo headphone jacks. To ascribe such choices to design—or to courage—is a mistake. As I have argued before, Apple is expert at getting people to commit to Apple’s future without pondering how technology could have evolved differently.

In the process, Apple standardized excellence in design at the surface level, while failing to achieve that distinction holistically. Apple’s products are beautiful objects, no doubt. But beautiful objects whose operation never matched their appearance. Beautiful objects that lied about the depths of that beauty.”

….Continue reading @theAtlantic.com

 

 

|| Jan 2017

Google Recalls Staff to U.S. After Trump Immigration Order

– Bloomberg Tech

“Alphabet Inc.’s Google delivered a sharp message to staff traveling overseas who may be impacted by a new executive order on immigration from President Donald Trump: Get back to the U.S. now.

Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai slammed Trump’s move in a note to employees Friday, telling them that more than 100 company staff are affected by the order.

The comments underscore a growing rift between the Trump administration and several large U.S. technology companies, which include many immigrants in their ranks and have lobbied for fewer immigration restrictions. Pichai’s note echoed similar statements from tech peers voicing concerns about the harm such policies could have on their businesses.

Trump signed an executive order Friday prohibiting entry by people from seven majority-Muslim nations for 90 days. Citizens of Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Libya would be banned from entering the U.S. for the period, while the government determines what information it needs to safely admit visitors.

Some visa and green-card holders were blocked from boarding flights to the U.S. after the order was issued and several people were being detained at U.S. airports when they arrived, the New York Times reported. The Department of Homeland Security issued a directive on Friday afternoon ordering the Customs and Border Control agency to enforce the order immediately.

“We are advising our clients from those seven countries who have green cards or any type of H-1B visa not to travel outside the U.S.” said Ava Benach, a partner at immigration law firm Benach Collopy LLP, while noting that the order takes effect immediately.

“No one is really sure whether a green card holder from these seven countries can return to the U.S. now. It’s fairly clear that an H-1B visa holder can’t,” Benach said. The H-1B lets U.S. companies employ graduate-level workers from other countries in technical occupations such as technology, engineering and science.”

….Continue reading more @ Bloomberg Tech

 

Oct 2016 |

This is the number one problem facing Microsoft today

– Computerworld

microsoft-620x465-100536203-primary-idgex

“Microsoft is a gargantuan company.

They have 114,000 employees. They make a popular gaming console, the only viable operating system used by more people than anyone by far, and have their toes dipped in every conceivable market segment, from consumer chatbots to social media for business. There’s no question the company competes easily with Apple and Google for the top crown of all technology, assuming you can forgive them for Windows 8.

“Large shops will find many reasons for making the switch. Businesses of other sizes might have to do a

Yet, they have a major problem in the age of immediate access from anywhere. Bowing out of the smartphone market is not as troubling as a much more serious issue related to usability: Microsoft has a crisis of confusion.

Here’s a good example. Let’s say you want to play the game Gears of War 4 on your PC. Anyone who pre-ordered the game for Xbox One can play starting today, and Play Anywhere means you can download the game on Windows for free. But where do you find it? You can search using the Xbox app, but that doesn’t work. You can try going to Microsoft.com or Xbox.com and checking there, but that doesn’t work, either.

In fact, the only way to find the game is through a rat’s nest. You have to go to the Windows store app, login with your Xbox account (not your Windows account), and then click a tiny avatar icon. (By the way, this icon is for Windows, not for Xbox.) There’s an option called My Library in that menu, but it’s not a tab on the main screen.

Then, you have to select all apps, because only a few are listed. Finally, you find the game.”

….Continue reading @ Computerworld

Sep 2016 |

Does quitting social media make you happier? Yes, say young people doing it

– the Guardian UK

5123x

Teenagers and young adults switching off from Facebook and other social apps reveal how the change has affected their lives

“Our love of social media seems to have grown and grown in the past decade, but recent studies show the tide may be turning for some platforms, with young people in particular ditching Facebook. One study claims that more than 11 million teenagers left Facebook between 2011 and 2014. It’s been argued that they are swapping public platforms such as Twitter and Instagram for more private messaging apps like WhatsApp and Snapchat.

We asked the Guardian’s younger readers whether they have quit social media and why, as well as what apps they are ditching. Almost all reported a greater sense of happiness after going offline. Here, we share some of their experiences.”

…Continue reading @ the Guardian

 

Aug 2016 |

New iPhone Malware Allows Attackers to Access Camera, Location; Intercept Texts; See Passwords; Record Phone Calls

–  KTLA

gettyimages-586113534x

“One of the most significant iPhone hacks to date was outed with a simple text message.

Security researchers on Thursday announced they had discovered a new piece of iPhone malware that allowed attackers to see virtually everything on your iPhone. They traced the previously unknown spyware back to an Israeli-based company called the NSO Group. NSO openly sells software that it says can track a person’s mobile phone — and many of its clients are governments.

At the same time on Thursday, Apple released a software update for iOS 9.3.5 that patches the vulnerabilities. The company recommends anyone using an iPhone update their iOS immediately. For users running the beta of iOS 10, the latest seed also patches the exploits.

Researchers said it appeared governments had used NSO’s software to target journalists and human rights workers. They used fake domains to try and disguise themselves as legitimate groups like the Red Cross, news organizations, and large tech companies.

Human rights activist Ahmed Mansoor first received a suspicious text message on August 10. The next day he got another, this time with a link promising information on detainees in UAE jails. No stranger to hacking attempts, the well-known dissident forwarded the messages to a researcher at Citizen Lab in the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs.”

…Continue reading more @ KTLA

(Photo Credit: Carl Court/Getty Images)

 

A Hacking Group Is Selling iPhone Spyware to Governments

– Wired

iphone_052715getty

“THESE DAYS IT seems like every government has a far-reaching and well-developed digital surveillance operation, complete with defense, international espionage, and offensive components. Smaller nations even join spy alliances to pool resources. But there are still many nation-states that for various reasons prefer not to handle their cyber intelligence development in-house. So they do what we all do when we need software: They buy it from a vendor.

On Thursday, researchers published evidence that an established private cyberarms dealer called NSO Group, whose clientele primarily comprises governments, has been selling masterful spyware that is delivered to mobile devices through a series of critical vulnerabilities in Apple’s iOS mobile operating system. Once established on a device, this tool, known as Pegasus, can surveil virtually anything, relaying phone calls, messages, emails, calendar data, contacts, keystrokes, audio and video feeds, and more back to whomever is controlling the attack. Apple says it has fully patched the three vulnerabilities, collectively called Trident, as part of today’s iOS 9.3.5 update.

“This is the first time any security researchers, as far as any of us are aware, have ever gotten a copy of NSO Group’s spyware and been able to reverse engineer it,” says Mike Murray, vice president of Lookout, the security research firm that discovered the spyware along with the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs. “They are a really sophisticated threat actor and the software they have reflects that. They are incredibly committed to stealth.”

….Continue reading more @ Wired.com

 

 

 

Hacker group claims to have stolen NSA ‘cyberweapons’

– OC Register

wdc1

WASHINGTON – A mysterious group that calls itself the Shadow Brokers claims to have hacked into the National Security Agency, stolen powerful cyberweapons and surveillance tools, and put them up for auction.

If true, the claim would indicate that one of the U.S. government’s key agencies for cyberwarfare is itself vulnerable and has fallen into a pitched and escalating battle with a powerful unknown cyber foe, perhaps Russia.

News of the apparent breach came over the weekend when the Shadow Brokers released a limited number of files, claiming they were part of an arsenal “made by creators of stuxnet,” and other notorious NSA malware that helped cripple Iran’s nuclear program in 2009 and 2010 by shattering many of its centrifuges.

Neither the NSA nor the Office of the Director of National Intelligence responded to queries about whether the NSA had been penetrated. But several cybersecurity experts took the claims seriously and suggested that the penetration of the NSA marks a watershed moment and is part of rising tensions between the United States and Russia.

Among those backing that view was Edward Snowden, the former CIA employee and NSA subcontractor who in 2013 leaked a trove of secret NSA documents before seeking refuge in Russia.

Snowden tweeted Tuesday that “circumstantial evidence and conventional wisdom indicates Russian responsibility” for the apparent NSA hack, and that the public revelation of the theft is a message that a series of tit-for-tats between Washington and Moscow “could get messy fast.”

Snowden said he believed news of the apparent breach “is more diplomacy than intelligence, related to the escalation around the DNC hack.”

Last month, WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee, days before the Democratic convention in Philadelphia. U.S. intelligence officials later told top members of Congress that two Russian intelligence agencies or their proxies were behind the hack, according to Reuters and other media outlets, though there has been no official determination.

The attempt at public shaming of Russia over election interference preceded this week’s developments, in which both nations appear to be “outing” the other side.

The stolen cybersurveillance tools might help foreign governments do forensics on their own computer systems to determine whether they have been targets of U.S. surveillance efforts, a potentially embarrassing development for Washington.

The files made public revealed tools to get past firewalls and embed in network equipment or software made by Fortinet, Cisco Systems and Juniper Networks in the United States, as well as TopSec, China’s largest information security vendor.

The stolen cybersurveillance tools might help foreign governments do forensics on their own computer systems to determine whether they have been targets of U.S. surveillance efforts, a potentially embarrassing development for Washington.

The files made public revealed tools to get past firewalls and embed in network equipment or software made by Fortinet, Cisco Systems and Juniper Networks in the United States, as well as TopSec, China’s largest information security vendor.

“It’s definitely significant to hack the NSA but if you look at the metadata, you would know that those files that have been provided date back to 2013. Some of the directories are very old,” said Vitali Kremez, a cybercrime intelligence analyst at Flashpoint, a New York security firm.

“One of the exploits was targeting a specific Cisco device, and it was only targeting versions that have actually been outdated and replaced with new ones,” Kremez said.”

…Continue reading @ OC Register

 

Secret Code Found in Juniper’s Firewalls Shows Risk of Govt Internet Back Doors

– Wired  |  Dec 2015

juni12

ENCRYPTION BACKDOORS HAVE been a hot topic in the last few years—and the controversial issue got even hotter after the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, when it dominated media headlines. It even came up during this week’s Republican presidential candidate debate. But despite all the attention focused on backdoors lately, no one noticed that someone had quietly installed backdoors three years ago in a core piece of networking equipment used to protect corporate and government systems around the world.

Two Backdoors

The first backdoor Juniper found would give an attacker administrative-level or root privileges over the firewalls—essentially the highest-level of access on a system—when accessing the firewalls remotely via SSH or telnet channels. “Exploitation of this vulnerability can lead to complete compromise of the affected system,” Juniper noted.

The second backdoor would effectively allow an attacker who has already intercepted VPN traffic passing through the Juniper firewalls to decrypt the traffic without knowing the decryption keys. Juniper said that it had no evidence that this vulnerability had been exploited, but also noted that, “There is no way to detect that this vulnerability was exploited.”

– This is very bad folks, very bad./CJ

Read more of the amazingly technical and detailed article by Kim Zetter @  Wired

 

 

Critical new flaw makes even some of the most secure Android devices vulnerable to hacks

– BGR

bgr-htc-10-19

“Security researchers have discovered four series Qualcomm chip flaws that hackers can take advantage of to gain full access to a person’s smartphone. The issues are yet to be patched on most devices, though Nexus handsets have received some security patches since the issues were first discovered.

Even so, some of the hottest Android devices available in stores, including the Galaxy S7, Galaxy S6, HTC One M9, HTC 10, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, and Nexus 6 are already vulnerable. Even the BlackBerry DTEK50, touted as the “most secure Android smartphone,” can be hacked using these flaws. In all, over 900 million Android phones could be hacked.

Dubbed Quadrooter and discovered by security researchers at Check Point, the vulnerabilities affect Qualcomm chips, and could let a third party take full control of a device, including access to the camera and microphone.

All hackers would have to do is to fool unsuspecting users into installing a malicious app. The application doesn’t even need to have any special permissions, which malware apps often need when infecting an Android device.

Qualcomm already issued patches for the four undisclosed flaws between April and the end of July, but because of the fragmented state of the Android ecosystem, delivering them to customers is a problem.

Google already issued three patches to its Nexus devices, but one of the vulnerabilities is still at large, and should be fixed only in September. Android device makers have also received the patches, and they may update some of their devices sooner rather than later.

“No-one at this point has a device that’s fully secure,” Check Point’s head of mobility product management Michael Shaulov told ZDNet. “That basically relates to the fact that there is some kind of issue of who fixes what between Qualcomm and Google.”

The firm’s lead mobile security researcher Adam Donnenfeld explained the issues at the Def Con security conference on Sunday. Check Point has a three-month period of private disclosure for newly discovered vulnerabilities, but Qualcomm and its partners failed to fix the issues before it expired.”

….Continue reading @ BGR.com

June 2016

The Windows 10 privacy settings you need to change right now

– techradar

win10 scr1

“Windows 10 is here and by all accounts it’s a smashing hit with a great new/retro look, Cortana’s helping hand, plus all the performance enhancements of Windows 8.1 without the lingering interface problems. But for all the good Windows 10 brings, Microsoft’s latest operating system has to collect a ton of data on its users, and that might not sit well for everyone.

Windows 10 can see everything from the websites you visit to where in the world you are to all the online purchases you make, and those are just the bits Cortanacollates. By default, the OS is programmed to watch the words you type and listen to your speech so it can personalize the experience for you. These features can be convenient, but also raise privacy concerns.

Luckily, there are ways to curtail all of Windows 10’s cyber sleuthing built right into the OS’ privacy controls. However, cracking down on what Window 10 can see will come at the cost of some functionality and could potentially disable features you want to use (such as Cortana).

Windows 10 setup-650-80

Even before you fully install Windows 10 there are a few ways to prevent your new operating system from accessing too much of your data. You should absolutely avoid simply going with the Express Settings in the setup process. Instead of taking the shortcut, pick Custom Settings so you can block access to things like location information, browser data and automatically connecting to suggested hotspots.

If you’re feeling particularly antsy about sharing personal information, you can also create a local account that keeps more of your data offline than cloud-connected Microsoft account. Do this by electing to create a new account instead of signing in when you’re prompted for some Microsoft account credentials.

Of course, going without a linked Microsoft account will prevent you from accessing OneDrive and make signing into your Xbox account a bigger hassle.

Location, location, location

Where you’ve been and your location data are some of the most important bits of information you should keep to yourself. As such it’s not surprising to see some very granular privacy options in this category.

If you so choose, you can completely turn off Windows 10’s ability to locate you as well as clear your location history. This route pretty much means you’ll have to enter your zip code or address every time you want to check the weather or maps. So with this in mind, it’s smarter to just fine tune what apps can see where you are.”

….More @TechRadar

 

 

What Windows 10’s “Privacy Nightmare” Settings Actually Do

– lifehacker

lh1

“Windows 10 has some handy new features, but if you believe the rest of the internet, it also comes with features that eviscerate any semblance of privacy. But that view is a little overblown. Let’s take a closer look at what each of these settings actually do—and which ones are actually a privacy problem.

Windows 10 has a reputation for “phoning home” more often than its predecessors, and while that’s primarily true, much of this was already present in Windows 8—and an awful lot of it is present in other products like Android, iOS, and Chrome. That’s not to say all of those settings are good, just that there’s very little new happening here.

You can read the privacy statement for Windows 10 here. It’s not quite as sweeping as the Windows Insider Preview policy that caused so much commotion, but it’s still very broad (as most privacy policies are).

Plenty of sites have published lists of all the features you should turn off in Windows 10 to protect your privacy, but many don’t explain in detail what each of these settings do, which makes it hard to separate FUD from fact. So let’s go through those settings and explain what we know about them, where the real problems are, and how to turn everything off.

General Privacy Settings

Let’s start with the obvious. Open up Windows 10’s Settings app and head to Privacy > General. Most of these features are actually pretty self-explanatory, but here’s what each one does:

  • Let apps use my advertising ID: This helps Microsoft present you with more personalized ads in apps. You can safely turn this off without it really affecting your user experience.
  • Turn on SmartScreen Filter: This sends the URLs you visit in Windows Store apps to Microsoft to check them against a list of potentially harmful sites. Google Chrome does this as well. (Correction: Chrome does this locally, and only submits your URL if you have usage statistics enabled.) I think this is a helpful setting, so I leave it on. You can turn it off if you so desire, but be careful when you browse. Note that this only affects the SmartScreen filter in Windows Store apps—if you want it turned off in the Edge browser, where you’re more likely to use it, you’ll have to do that in Edge’s Advanced Settings (see below).
  • Send Microsoft info about how I write: This feature improves text completion suggestions when you handwrite or type (presumably on the touch keyboard, though it doesn’t say. That’s very broad, and we’ll talk about it more in a bit. I recommend turning this off.
  • Let websites provide locally relevant content: If you speak a language other than English, this feature could be useful, but feel free to turn it off if you’d rather sites not know what language your system uses.

In short, most people can probably turn off these settings and not be affected.

Location Settings

Windows 10, much like iOS and Android, can use your location to provide a better experience in certain apps. For example, it can check your location so you don’t have to type your zip code to get the weather, or so you can pinpoint your location in the Maps app. However, to do this, it may share your location with certain “Trusted Partners” (like the aforementioned weather service, or…well, anyone else).

…Continue reading @ lifehacker.com

 

The Challenges of Digital Voting

– Scientific American

“Information security expert Avi Rubin explains why we won’t be voting on our smartphones anytime soon

“In researching my Scientific American column about the dismal prospects for online voting, I interviewed Avi Rubin, Professor of Computer Science at Johns Hopkins University, technical director of Johns Hopkins’s Information Security Institute, and author of Brave New Ballot: The Battle to Safeguard Democracy in the Age of Electronic Voting. He’s been deeply immersed in the research surrounding electronic voting for decades.

Since I have more room on the Web than I do on the printed page, I would like to share more of our conversation here.

David Pogue: Are there any steps that would make you, a security researcher, comfortable with electronic voting?

Avi Rubin: In principle, I think that paper ballots are far superior to electronic voting machines. Even if the machines are high quality (and none of the current ones on the market have proven to be that), the inability to manually recount, to audit, and to prevent rigging and the potential for widespread, wholesale fraud are deal breakers for purely electronic voting. Paper ballots are not a panacea, but without them there is an opportunity for fraud that is much more widespread.

DP: What if the software in these machines is open source and can be inspected publicly?

AR: Just because software is open source does not mean that it will be subjected to many eyeballs. Voting machine software should most definitely be made publicly available, but we need to realize that it may still have security vulnerabilities. Furthermore, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to have an assurance the actual bits that are running inside of a voting machine on election day match the software that was publicly available.

DP: What if voters could look over a printed receipt before leaving the electronic machine?

AR: A voter-inspected paper record can overcome many of the weaknesses of electronic voting. There is no perfect voting system, but the best one that I know is where a touchscreen ballot marking machine is used for voters to make their selections. The machine then prints out a filled-out paper ballot. The voter takes this ballot, inspects it, challenges it and starts over if it is wrong (and reports it), and when a correct ballot is produced, submits it to the polls where it can be optically scanned.

Some random sample of ballot boxes is counted manually and compared to the scanned results, and if there are problems, more stations are manually compared. In case of a very close election or any hint of foul play, the ballots can be counted by hand or by a different brand of optical scanner.

We will never get this perfect. It’s too hard a problem. But we can do a lot better than we have so far.

DP: Seems like the prospect of voting by smartphone would be even more vulnerable than the in-person methods, right?

AR: Yes, voting over the Internet or smartphones is a non-starter. You can’t control the security of the platform. Remember that you don’t even trust the manufacturer of the voting system. You don’t want to put control of the outcome of a presidential election in the hands of Samsung or Apple, or millions of app developers.”

….More @ Scientific American

May 2016

How to add unlimited free VPN to Google’s Chrome browser

– Yahoo

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In an age where your private browsing data is being hunted down by everyone from advertisers to hackers, VPN service is becoming more and more of a necessity. And no, the private browsing mode baked into your web browser isn’t the same thing at all. VPN services can completely hide your identity from companies that try to track you and prevent them from building the online profile they so desperately want.

Of course, some people don’t mind companies tracking them and for those people, VPN services aren’t quite as essential most of the time.

Whether or not you want to guard your browsing with a VPN service all the time or only when the need arises, there’s an easy way to add unlimited free VPN capabilities to Chrome. And the best part is that it’s not complicated or convoluted at all. There are a few services that offer free VPN using a couple of different models, and our favorite among them is Betternet.

So how does it work? Simply visit this link from your Chrome browser and install Betternet’s Chrome extension. That’s it. You’re done. You don’t even have to register an account.”

…Continue reading @ Yahoo

 

 

Facebook sued for scanning private user messages

– Washington Examiner

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“A California man is suing Facebook for allegedly scanning the content of private messages sent between users of the site.

The suit alleges that Facebook scans the messages in search of hyperlinks sent between users. “If there is a link to a web page contained in that message, Facebook treats it as a ‘like’ of the page, and increases the page’s ‘like,’ counter by one,” the suit contends. The site tracks when users “like” pages in order to compile individual profiles that allow third parties to send targeted advertisements.

“When a Facebook user composes a message with a URL in the message’s body, Facebook generates a ‘URL preview,’ consisting of a brief description of the website and a relevant image from the website,” the suit adds. That “preview” creates two separate files, according to the suit.

One, called “EntShare,” is “tied to the specific user who sent the message.” The second file, “EntGlobalShare,” tracks all users who send a message containing the same URL.

It was first reported that Facebook was counting URLs sent in private messages as “likes” in 2012, but the site discontinued the practice shortly afterwards. However, plaintiffs allege, it is still spying on URLs included in messages for marketing purposes.

A motion granted on Wednesday by the District Court for the North District of California permits the plaintiff, Matthew Campbell, to seek “injunctive and declaratory relief” rather than financial damages. “We agree with the court’s finding that the alleged conduct did not result in any actual harm and that it would be inappropriate to allow plaintiffs to seek damages on a class-wide basis,” Facebook said in a statement.

The company added that its tracking amounted to “historical practices” that were “entirely lawful,” and said it was looking forward “to resolving those claims on the merits.” Campbell is set to file an amended complaint no later than June 8.

Facebook has been sued for invasive privacy practices in the past. That includes at least four lawsuits resulting from facial recognition technology employed by the site to retain more than a billion “facial templates.”

…Continue reading @ WashingtonExaminer.com

 

 

Court forces woman to provide fingerprint to unlock her iPhone

– Yahoo Tech

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“Earlier this year, the FBI and Apple found themselves embroiled in a contentious legal dispute regarding the locked iPhone of Syed Farook, one of the San Bernardino terrorists. Unable to access the device, the FBI wanted Apple to create a tailor-made version of iOS that would circumvent built-in iOS security measures. Apple, meanwhile, vehemently refused, with Tim Cook even stating that the FBI wanted Apple to create the “softwareequivalent of cancer.”

Eventually, the FBI managed to access Farook’s locked iPhone after purchasing a hack from an anonymous third-party. And so while Apple’s specific dispute with the FBI seemingly resolved itself, the broader issues the case raised still persist and will undoubtedly assume the public spotlight again.

Put simply, the crux of the issue is this: When the government or law enforcement agency obtains a legitimate warrant to search a mobile device, what recourse do they have if the device is locked?

While the iPhone used by Farook was an iPhone 5c protected by a passcode, we’re fast approaching a future where almost every smartphone device will be locked by a fingerprint or some other biometric indicator. That being the case, can an individual be compelled to hand over his or her fingerprint to authorities?

It’s an interesting question that was recently brought to the forefront after law enforcement officials in Glendale, California obtained a search warrant to search the iPhone of a gang member’s girlfriend. The iPhone in question was locked via Touch Id, but a judge compelled the girlfriend “to press her finger against an iPhone that had been seized…”

Is this what investigations of the future will look like? Will it become commonplace for individuals to offer up their fingerprints in order to unlock devices subject to legitimate warrants?

The question raises a number of interesting issues such as the right of individuals not to incriminate themselves.

To this point, the Los Angeles Times observes:

Even with the limited outlines of the inquiry, Brenner said the act of compelling a person in custody to press her finger against a phone breached the 5th Amendment’s protection against self-incrimination. It forced Bkchadzhyan to testify —without uttering a word — because by moving her finger and unlocking the phone, she authenticated its contents.

“By showing you opened the phone, you showed that you have control over it,” Brenner said. “It’s the same as if she went home and pulled out paper documents — she’s produced it.”

But Albert Gidari, the director of privacy at Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society, said the action might not violate the 5th Amendment prohibition of self-incrimination.

“Unlike disclosing passcodes, you are not compelled to speak or say what’s ‘in your mind’ to law enforcement,” Gidari said. “‘Put your finger here’ is not testimonial or self-incriminating.”

To date, there haven’t been many cases involving whether or not a defendant can be forced to unlock his or her iPhone. Suffice it to say, it’s an issue that will become more and more frequent with each passing year.”

…From Yahoo News

 

SpaceX – Historic Rocket Landing   |   CRS-8 Dragon Hosted Webcast

– Youtube

– SpaceX makes historic rocket landing. Major achievement for California based company in SoCal.

Streamed live on Apr 8, 2016 from SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California.

– The first successful landing of the first stage Dragon rocket landing on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean off Florida.

…See more here @ SpaceX

 

 

 

How To Unlock All The Hidden Categories On Netflix

– Cordcutting.com

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“Netflix’s subscribers aren’t totally enamored of its user interface, which some feel doesn’t offer enough support for content discovery. But if you know how, you can access a ton of hidden genres and categories on Netflix’s site, making it way easier to find the content you want!

You’re probably familiar with Netflix’s categories, which are accessible under the “browse” tab at the top of their homepage. And you probably also know that you can sort these genres further into subgeneres via a drop-down menu on each genre’s page.

But Netflix is holding out on you. In reality, they have far more genres than they’re letting on. Luckily, you can access them pretty easily – all you have to do is know the codes.

See, all of Netflix’s genre pages have similar web addresses: the formula is http://www.netflix.com/browse/genre/[number].

For instance, Netflix’s “TV Shows” category can be found at http://www.netflix.com/browse/genre/83.

To access all the hidden genres, all you have to do is know which number to swap in at the end of the URL. And lucky for us, a list of all of the genres (including both visible and hidden genres) has been floating around the web for some time.”

…Continue reading and see the List @ Cordcutting.com

 

Mar 2016

Gmail will now warn you if you’re being targeted by the government

– Digital Trends

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“Apple isn’t the only company fighting against government-backed cyber attacks.

While Apple and the FBI bicker over user security, Google is bringing security into the public eye in a different way – by simply telling you what’s going on. The company will be increasing the visibility of Gmail security warnings to try and help people better protect themselves when sending and receiving emails. One of the changes is the expansion of the “safe browsing” notifications, which basically tell you when you’re about to open a suspicious link from an email. These warnings will show up when a link is clicked, but before the link actually opens, presenting users with one final option to retreat instead of visiting the page.
Google is also continuing the fight against state-sponsored attacks, showing a full-page warning when it thinks you’re being targeted by a government-backed hacker. Google does mention in a blog post that less than 0.1 percent of Gmail users will be receiving this warning, however, it highlights the importance of the warnings because of the fact that the people getting them are often journalists, policy-makers, and activists.”…Continue reading more @ Digital Trends

 

 

The Old Apple Magic is Dead

– BusinessInsider

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Steve Jobs’ reality-distortion field has finally run out of juice

“Apple has finally become an ordinary tech company.

That’s the overwhelming response to Apple’s annual spring press conference, in which the company asked the world’s tech press and pundits to gather to see:

  • The iPhone SE, which features a 4-inch screen — the same size as the nearly 4-year-old iPhone 5.
  • A smaller iPad Pro— it’s got a 9.7-inch screen, the same size as the original iPad introduced in 2010 — complete with the same old barbs thrown at Microsoft Windows, in which Apple believes Windows PC users should ditch their PCs for an iPad Pro.
  • A few new bands for the Apple Watch, along with a $50 price cut for the cheapest version.
  • Another app-development platform for writing health apps.

Perhaps the coolest thing Apple showed was a robot, Liam, built to recycle old iPhones so their spare parts could be reused. That’s nice, but it doesn’t make a person lust for a new Apple device.

There was no “one more thing.” There was no visionary new product. There was no amazing new technology in all the existing products that made you hate your current Apple device — or your Windows or Android phone — and immediately place an order for the new one.

There wasn’t even a lot of cheering and hooting and hollering from the audience.

In other words, it was an entire press conference dedicated to iterating on the same old products. It feels as if the famous Steve Jobs reality-distortion field has powered down and dissolved.

Or as Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak said last week, when dissing Apple’s only new product under Tim Cook’s leadership, the Apple Watch: “Well this isn’t the company that Apple was originally, or the company that really changed the world a lot.”

…Continue reading @ BusinessInsider

 

Have a 2010 MacBook Pro? Sorry, it’s now obsolete, according to Apple

– Yahoo Tech

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“If you own a 2010 MacBook Pro, your device is officialy obsolete so far as Apple is concerned. Unless, that is, you live in California or Turkey — then it’s vintage.

Apple added the MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid 2010) and MacBook Pro (17-inch, Mid 2010) to its official list of vintage and obsolete products today, Mac Rumors is reporting. Also added was the Xserve (Early 2009), a discontinued rack server running OS X. Devices that Apple hasn’t manufactured for five years are added to the Vintage list, which means Apple won’t sell parts for the devices to anyone outside California or Turkey.

RelatedWhy buy a new Mac, when you can buy refurbished?

This list has nothing to do with operating system upgrades. Plenty of vintage and obsolete devices can run El Capitan, including the 2010 MacBook Pro. Instead, the list is about hardware service. Customers cannot expect to buy Apple-made spare parts for vintage devices, unless they live in certain areas. Customers cannot expect to buy parts for obsolete devices at all.”

…Continue reading here @ Yahoo Tech

 – Read the comments section. Very interesting.

O.C. Watchdog: Police agencies tap secret cellphone system

– Orange County Register

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“The city of Anaheim has taken the local lead in deploying secret technology that can intercept cellphone communications and used the systems to assist investigations involving at least three other Orange County law enforcement agencies, the Register has found.

Officials in the county’s largest city, however, have yet to adopt and release publicly a state-mandated policy spelling out when the devices will be used, as well as how they’ll handle and protect the data collected.

Investigators from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, which polices most of South County, Brea and Buena Park, have made use of information from Anaheim’s cellphone transmission “catchers,” which are sometimes called “stingrays” in reference to the brand name StingRay, officials said. More than a dozen other local police agencies in Orange County either referred questions back to Anaheim, said they were not aware of information from the system being used by their cities or did not respond to inquiries.

The state law, signed by the governor in October, required cities operating the systems to publicly adopt policies governing their use as of Jan. 1. It’s intended to ensure that Californians are at least generally aware when local officials decide to deploy cell-catcher technology.

The devices mimic wireless telecommunications towers and can trick cellphones into connecting to them rather than the towers. Police then can collect data from the phones, including phone numbers and GPS points. Their use has grown increasingly controversial, particularly as it has spread from federal to local agencies. Legal challenges seeking information on the tracking devices have been filed against Anaheim and other cities.”

Read more of the article by TERI SFORZA and LILY LEUNG @ Orange County Register

Feb 2016

Say What You Want About Justice Antonin Scalia, He Was Great for Technology

– Yahoo

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“Justice Antonin Scalia, who died Saturday at the age of 79, is remembered by many as boisterous, cantankerous and disagreeable. But if there was any force in the forward-march of modern history that could consider Scalia a standard-bearer, it was technology.

During Scalia’s nearly 30-year tenure on the Supreme Court, he saw the birth of the internet, the ubiquity of smartphones and the bending of the entertainment world around digital media. And over and over again, he got it right.

When it came to police surveillance, he put hard stops on new police technologies that could subvert the Fourth Amendment in creative, dystopian ways. In the 2012 Jones v. United States ruling, a modern landmark in police surveillance, Scalia ruled that police should not be able to put a GPS tracker on you for long-term surveillance without a warrant. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is now using that ruling to go after the constitutionality of Stingray-style devices.

When law enforcement wanted to use thermal imaging devices to heat-map a home so they could find marijuana growers, Scalia helped put a stop to that in Kyllo v. United States, arguing that as technology expanded what our eyes could see, the Constitution had to expand and account for those superhuman abilities.

“While it is certainly possible to conclude from the videotape of the thermal imaging that occurred in this case that no ‘significant’ compromise of the homeowner’s privacy has occurred, we must take the long view, from the original meaning of the Fourth Amendment forward,” Scalia wrote in his decision.

“In 2011, when our industry defended the rights of creators and consumers of video games before the U.S. Supreme Court, it was Justice Scalia who authored the historic majority opinion.”

Scalia stopped California from regulating video games as products like cigarettes and alcohol instead of as a medium for expression like music, books and movies. The case, Brown vs. Entertainment Merchants Association, was a turning point in video games industry’s growth as a mature medium — gaming is now bigger than Hollywood.

“In 2011, when our industry defended the rights of creators and consumers of video games before the U.S. Supreme Court, it was Justice Scalia who authored the historic majority opinion,” the Entertainment Software Association said in a statement after his death.

And when the major broadcast networks got the Supreme Court to decisively shut down Aereo, an service that let you watch broadcast cable on your phone or tablet and save shows for later, Antonin Scalia was one of the few people who stood against the decision, refusing to accept the rudimentary argument that Aereo was just like any other cable company.

He was imperfect on NSA surveillance, believing that the other branches of government should handle that issue. He was imperfect on dozens of the most pressing civil and human rights issues of our time.

But somewhere out there, there are police officers trying to use the most sophisticated technology of our time to peer into our lives in ways we never thought possible. And because of Antonin Scalia, someone is saying, “You’re going to need a warrant for that.”

Read more @ Yahoo

Cruz app mines supporters’ data: Tracks movements, reads contacts

– Seattle Times

FILE - In this Feb. 10, 2016 file photo, Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas talks to reporters outside the Senate chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington. Cruz has campaigned against government spying on law-abiding citizens, but his campaign is testing the limits with personal data from his supporters. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
FILE – In this Feb. 10, 2016 file photo, Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas talks to reporters outside the Senate chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington. Cruz has campaigned against government spying on law-abiding citizens, but his campaign is testing the limits with personal data from his supporters. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

“WASHINGTON (AP) — Protecting the privacy of law-abiding citizens from the government is a pillar of Ted Cruz’s Republican presidential candidacy, but his campaign is testing the limits of siphoning personal data from supporters.

His “Cruz Crew” mobile app is designed to gather detailed information from its users’ phones — tracking their physical movements and mining the names and contact information for friends who might want nothing to do with his campaign.

That information and more is then fed into a vast database containing details about nearly every adult in the United States to build psychological profiles that target individual voters with uncanny accuracy.

Cruz’s sophisticated analytics operation was heralded as key to his victory in Iowa earlier this month — the first proof, his campaign said, that the system has the potential to power him to the nomination.”

Read more @ SeattleTimes.com

 

Twitter Gives Access To Unregistered Visitors

– MediaPost.com

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“Twitter has been turning people away for years. The message to potential users was clear: Sign up for an account, or move on.

Amid increasing pressure to grow its audience, however, the social network is opening its doors to unregistered visitors. Now, people without Twitter accounts — and users who are not presently signed in — can follow a variety of content streams in real-time.

“It’s real-time and straight from the source, just like the Twitter experience for those who log in,” Paul Lambert, a product manager at Twitter, notes in a new blog post.”

– Read more here @ MediaPost.com

Apple’s Zadesky, head of electric car project, to leave company: WSJ

– Reuters Jan 22

An Apple logo hangs above the entrance to the Apple store on 5th Avenue in the Manhattan borough of New York City, July 21, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Segar
An Apple logo hangs above the entrance to the Apple store on 5th Avenue in the Manhattan borough of New York City, July 21, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Segar

“Apple Inc’s (AAPL.O) Steve Zadesky, who has been overseeing the company’s electric car project for the last two years, has said he is leaving the company, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday, citing people familiar with the matter.

Zadesky, who previously worked with the iPod and iPhone teams, is leaving for personal reasons not related to his performance, the WSJ said.”

Read more @ Reuters

Politico: Snapchat makes play for political ad revenue

– Politico Jan 2016

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“Snapchat wants a share of the millions of dollars that will be spent in political advertising in 2016. And according to data shared with POLITICO, the company has a case to make: two-thirds of the millions of millennials who use Snapchat are likely to vote.

“Younger people are not only on Snapchat but young people who are on Snapchat are interested in the election, are engaged in politics and have a high likelihood to vote,” said Rob Saliterman, head of political ad sales for Snapchat.

Young voters are one of the hardest groups for campaigns to effectively target.”

More here @ Politico

 

Generation Selfie and the Disappearing Layers of Protection

– PJ Media

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– Excellent article on how media changes us generationally.

“When I turned 16, I was permitted a phone in my room. But my mother still picked up the other extension periodically to tell me I had been on too long (because we all shared the phone…oh the horror!) and to find out who was on the other line. She also picked up the phone to be sure I actually hung up.

The parents were in charge, as it should be — the first layer of defense against the madness.

Too often, we see the confused look of a Generation Selfie parent on the news, shocked that his or her child was arrested after plotting a massacre, building a bomb, committing suicide or hacking into the Pentagon. Where were the layers ?

The layers have been replaced by Wi-Fi.

Today, our kids have access to the world — whenever and wherever they want and with whomever. They listen to each other and trust the internet more than they trust their own families…..

They friend strangers without discernment; they are like crows, landing on any shiny thing.

They sleep with their phones in their beds, they “FaceTime” during “homework,” they text while watching movies, and they check their phones every 9 seconds. We wonder why they can’t focus on anything.”

– Read the entire article here @ PJ Media

 

Wired Weighs in on Juniper Hack – Dec 2015

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Secret Code Found in Juniper’s Firewalls Shows Risk of Govt Internet Back Doors

– Wired

ENCRYPTION BACKDOORS HAVE been a hot topic in the last few years—and the controversial issue got even hotter after the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, when it dominated media headlines. It even came up during this week’s Republican presidential candidate debate. But despite all the attention focused on backdoors lately, no one noticed that someone had quietly installed backdoors three years ago in a core piece of networking equipment used to protect corporate and government systems around the world.

Two Backdoors

The first backdoor Juniper found would give an attacker administrative-level or root privileges over the firewalls—essentially the highest-level of access on a system—when accessing the firewalls remotely via SSH or telnet channels. “Exploitation of this vulnerability can lead to complete compromise of the affected system,” Juniper noted.

The second backdoor would effectively allow an attacker who has already intercepted VPN traffic passing through the Juniper firewalls to decrypt the traffic without knowing the decryption keys. Juniper said that it had no evidence that this vulnerability had been exploited, but also noted that, “There is no way to detect that this vulnerability was exploited.”

– This is very bad folks, very bad.

Read more of the amazingly technical and detailed article by Kim Zetter @  Wired

 

 

The FBI is investigating Juniper’s big embarrassing security hole

– Business Insider

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“Things have gone from bad to worse over a big security hack that put “unauthorized code” inside security equipment sold by Juniper Networks.

On Thursday, Juniper disclosed the problem, which affected its NetScreen firewalls. Firewalls are security devices that are supposed to help protect networks from being hacked.

Specifically, hackers found a way to stick “unauthorized code” in the operating system that runs Juniper’s firewall device. That code could allow “a knowledgeable attacker to gain administrative access to NetScreen devices and to decrypt VPN connections,” Juniper described in its blog warning customers.

In other words, they could potentially spy on any organization using the hacked device.

When Juniper disclosed the flaw, it didn’t mention how long that “unauthorized code” could have been in there, only that it had issued an emergency patch to fix the problem.

Interestingly, way back in 2013, German publication Spiegel wrote an article alleging that the NSA had done a similar thing — put code on Juniper security products to enable the NSA to spy. This was part of the Edward Snowden NSA spying revelations.”

Read more @ Business Insider by Julie Bort

Juniper Networks finds backdoor code in its firewalls

– Engadget

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A ‘knowledgeable attacker’ could have been using this to spy on VPN traffic for years.

“One of the reasons corporate users and the privacCminded rely on VPNs is to control access to their networks and (hopefully) not expose secrets over insecure connections. Today Juniper Networks revealed that some of its products may not have been living up to that standard, after discovering “unauthorized code” in the software that runs on its NetScreen firewalls during a code review. Pointed out by security researcher “The Grugq,” the backdoor has been present since late 2012 and can only be fixed by upgrading to a new version of software just released today.”

More @ Engadget

 

AT&T Has Fooled The Press And Public Into Believing It’s Building A Massive Fiber Network That Barely Exists

– TechDirt – Dec 11

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“A few years ago, AT&T realized something amazing: you don’t have to build a cutting edge, fiber to the home broadband network, when it’s relatively easy to fool the press and public into believing you’re building a cutting edge, fiber to the home network. So as AT&T was actually busy reducing its fixed-line broadband spending and quietly walking away from DSL users it didn’t want to upgrade, it launched a service it calls “U-Verse with Gigapower.” Basically, AT&T’s delivering gigabit speeds to high-end housing developments, then pretending the upgrades are much, much larger than they actually are.”

– Read the whole story here @  TechDirt

 

How Many Times Has Your Personal
Information Been Exposed to Hackers?

– NY Times

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– Interesting and highly informative article on the high tech risks faced everyday with personal info.

“Half of American adults had their personal information exposed to hackers last year alone. In a recent attack at the federal Office of Personnel Management, hackers stole the most sensitive personal data for 21.5 million people.

Answer the questions below to learn which parts of your identity may have been stolen in some of the major hacking attacks over the last two years and what you can do about it. Not all attacks are included here, and many attacks go undetected, so think of your results as a minimum level of exposure.” – by Josh Keller, K.K. Rebecca Lai and Nicole Perlroth

Read more here @ International NY Times

Music Tech –

Interview with Al Schmitt

– Excerpt from the Recording Engineer’s Handbook –        Nov 19 2015 –

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“After 18 Grammy’s for Best Engineering and work on over 150 gold and platinum records, Al Schmitt needs no introduction to anyone even remotely familiar with the recording industry.  Indeed, his credit list is way too long to print here (but Henry Mancini, Steely Dan, George Benson, Toto, Natalie Cole, Quincy Jones, and Diana Krall are some of them), but suffice it to say that Al’s name is synonymous with the highest art that recording has to offer.

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QUESTION: Do you use the same setup every time?
AL SCHMITT: I usually start out with the same microphones.  For instance, I know that I’m going to immediately start with a tube U 47 about 18 inches from the F-hole on an upright bass.  That’s basic for me and I’ve been doing that for years. I might move it up a little so it picks up a little of the finger noise.  Now if I have a problem with a guy’s instrument where it doesn’t respond well to that mic then I’ll change it, but that happens so seldom. Every once in a while I’ll take another microphone and place it up higher on the fingerboard to pick up a little more of the fingering.

The same with the drums.  There are times where I might change a snare mic or kick mic, but normally I use a D-112 or a 47 FET on the kick and a 451 or 452 on the snare and they seem to work for me.  I’ll use a Shure SM57 on the snare underneath and I’ll put that microphone out of phase.  I also mic the toms with 414’s, usually with the pad in, and the hat with a Schoeps or a B&K or even a 451.

What are you using for Overheads?
I do vary that.  It depends on the drummer and the sound of the cymbals, but I’ve been using M 149’s, the Royer 121’s, or 451’s. I put them a little higher than the drummer’s head.

Do you try to capture the whole kit or just the cymbals?
I try to set it up so I’m capturing a lot of the kit in there which makes it a little bigger sounding overall because you’re getting some ambience.

– From the Recording Engineer’s Handbook.

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See more here: The Recording Engineer’s Handbook – 3rd Edition

More from Bobby, from his Touring Musicians Handbook:  Bassist Bob Glaub Interview Excerpt

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“Since the 70’s Bob Glaub has been a first-call bass player for superstars such as Stevie Nicks, Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne, Don Henley, John Fogerty, Bruce Springsteen and many more.  Currently on tour with the legendary Crosby, Stills and Nash, Bob gives us the benefit of his thirty-plus years of experience on the road.”

 

 

10 useful Google Search functions you may not know about

– Gizmag

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– Great tips from Gizmag here:  Gizmag

 

Marc Andreessen has sold nearly 75% of his Facebook stock in two weeks

– BusinessInsider

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– Read more:  Here

The $4.5 billion startup Zenefits has lost half of its value after missing sales goals

But a new report by The Wall Street Journal’s Rolfe Winkler suggests the company may be failing to reach its sales goals and lofty expectations — leading mutual fund investor Fidelity to mark down the value of its investment in the company by nearly half in September, which implies a $2.34 billion valuation.

The report says Zenefits is also on a hiring freeze, after growing its headcount from roughly 500 to 1,640 in a single year. It’s also allegedly cut pay of some of its employees, which led at least 8 executives to leave the company.”

More here: http://www.sfgate.com/technology/businessinsider/article/The-4-5-billion-startup-Zenefits-has-lost-half-6628788.php

Google announces YouTube Music

– Tech Times | Nov 12 2015

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– YouTube Space LA in Playa Del Rey, California

“If Google has its way, YouTube Music will become the premier app destination for all the hottest tunes out right now.

The tech giant’s YouTube Music app launched Thursday after a year of it being in beta testing. It’s now available to iPhone and Android users.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the app hopes to separate itself from competition such as Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal and Pandora by focusing on music videos from known and even amateur artists, who frequently use the platform to assert themselves in the industry, anyway.”

Read the original article here: http://www.techtimes.com/articles/106062/20151112/youtube-music-app-launches-android-ios.htm

YouTube Music is here, and it’s a game changer

– Verge

“YouTube is first and foremost a video portal, the world’s largest and most popular online collection of moving images. But it’s also a search engine, the world’s second largest, trailing only its parent company, Google. And while the library on YouTube is made up of videos, in practice it has also become the world’s largest streaming music service, used by more people than well-known names like Spotify or Apple when it comes to consuming songs and albums.

Today, the video giant is rolling out a new app, YouTube Music, that attempts to capitalize on its dominance in this space. The app is free, and you can use it in free, ad-supported mode, but it becomes a lot more powerful and interesting if you pay for a YouTube Red subscription.”

More by Ben Popper – 

here: http://www.theverge.com/2015/11/12/9723496/youtube-music-app-offline-background

Engadget weighs in as well here: http://www.engadget.com/2015/11/12/youtube-music-app-hands-on/

 

San Jose, California Is Now Richest City In America: How It Got To The Top

By Anu Passary, Tech Times | November 6, 8:04 AM

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“Thanks to changing economic dynamics, there is a shift in the rankings of the richest cities in the U.S. Buoyed by the tech boom, San Jose, California, has now become the richest city in America.

Per data tabulated by Bloomberg, the third largest city in California which is the epicenter of Silicon Valley has become the wealthiest metropolitan area in the country. The publication analyzed data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis for 100 of the biggest metropolitan areas.

The analysis revealed that the 2014 gross metropolitan product or the GMP per capita, which is the economic productivity of each resident essentially, in San Jose was $105,482. This figure is twice that of the national average.”

More here: http://www.techtimes.com/articles/103831/20151106/san-jose-california-is-now-richest-city-in-america-how-it-got-to-the-top.htm

One decade into a project to digitize U.S. immigration forms – 3.4 Billion project colossal failure – obsolete before it began

– Washington Post

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“Heaving under mountains of paperwork, the government has spent more than $1 billion trying to replace its antiquated approach to managing immigration with a system of digitized records, online applications and a full suite of nearly 100 electronic forms.

A decade in, all that officials have to show for the effort is a single form that’s now available for online applications and a single type of fee that immigrants pay electronically. The 94 other forms can be filed only with paper.

This project, run by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, was originally supposed to cost a half-billion dollars and be finished in 2013. Instead, it’s now projected to reach up to $3.1 billion and be done nearly four years from now, putting in jeopardy efforts to overhaul the nation’s immigration policies, handle immigrants already seeking citizenship and detect national security threats, according to documents and interviews with former and current federal officials.”

– by  November 8 at 8:40 PM

– Excellent article on how a comprehensive federal program resulted in comprehensive failure. No surprises there I guess.

I especially liked the following:

“From the start, the initiative was mismanaged, the records and interviews show. Agency officials did not complete the basic plans for the computer system until nearly three years after the initial $500 million contract had been awarded to IBM, and the approach to adopting the technology was outdated before work on it began.”

Nice.

Remember those salient facts the next time you hear for a comprehensive fix to anything federal.

Sadly or or not, Silicon Valley, a Google or Amazon is probably a better fit to solve problems like this, certainly not the dysfunctional and moribund Washington D.C. bureaucracies.

More here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/a-decade-into-a-project-to-digitize-us-immigration-forms-just-1-is-online/2015/11/08/f63360fc-830e-11e5-a7ca-6ab6ec20f839_story.html

 

App reveals hidden ubiquitous world of wifi and cell networks all around us

– Architecture of Radio

The Architecture of Radio is a site-specific iPad application that visualizes the existing wifi network of networks by reversing the ambient nature of the infosphere; hiding the visible while revealing the invisible technological landscape we interact with through our devices.

We are more and more surrounded by wifi and cellular networks, invisible, pulsing and ubiquitous.  Nice to see it visualized in real-time.

The Android version will be available in Jan 2016.

Go the web site here:

http://architectureofradio.com/

 

Researchers from MIT, Harvard, and Carnegie-Mellon confirm apps available on Google and Apple app stores Sharing User’s Data

– BBC

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The possibility of personal data lost to a single entity is bad enough, but imagine if such a breach and its dissemination is exponential? Who is monitoring how much apps are sharing this gathered information with others?

“They found 73% of the Android apps shared users’ email addresses, and 47% of the iOS apps shared location data.”

Clearly rogue apps are giving away more information than users can imagine. Caution when installing apps is key. Make sure the permissions you give the app is exactly what you are willing to release to others.

Name, email and phone history should all be closely guarded and never divulged unless absolutely necessary.

The whole study results are here from the BBC:

http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-34732514

If Microsoft makes a surface laptop you can’t fix, does that mean it won’t break

– Extremetech.com

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Instead of making devices easier to repair by all skill levels, they’re making it easier to throw things away.

How does that make for a more sustainable world?

http://www.extremetech.com/computing/217397-microsoft-surface-book-teardown-reveals-almost-impossible-to-repair-design

 

How to remove the Windows 10 GWX upgrade nonsense – explained

– Dedoimedo.com
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Some of us prefer to wait for OS upgrades, especially if the current OS is working just fine. Waiting for the bugs to shake out is always a prudent policy.

On the other hand, when a software upgrade is hidden in software ‘update’ something quite fishy is going on.

“The story goes as follows. Several days ago, on one of my Windows 7 boxes, I did some updates. Cool beans, Then, a couple of days later, I suddenly noticed a Windows 10 like icon in my system tray. Turns out, this one belongs to a process called GWX.exe, and it is a part of Windows update KB3035583, which is deceptively labeled as an important one and preselected, intended to give Windows 7 and 8.X users an option to freely upgrade to Windows 10. Well, so far so good.

But then, I decided I was not interested. However, removing this thing off proved to be a very difficult task……”

Read how to fix this here:

http://www.dedoimedo.com/computers/windows-7-to-10-gwx-how-to-remove.html

Dropbox clarifies enterprise strategy at first ever user conference

– Computerworld

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Cloud storage player Dropbox clarified their enterprise growth and service management strategies at their user conference in San Francisco on Wed.

The article details enterprise growth in addition to solid consumer numbers.

http://www.computerworld.com/article/3001446/cloud-storage/dropbox-touts-enterprise-growth-at-user-conference.html

Here’s another interesting Dropbox article on their enterprise strategy:

http://www.computerworld.com/article/2981555/cloud-storage/dropboxs-head-of-enterprise-says-collaboration-will-set-it-apart.html

 

Hands-free is not risk-free

Hands-free devices: A false sense of security
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Think using a hands-free device while driving makes you safer? Think again. You may be surprised at how this National Safety Council infographic shows the cell phone conversation is distracting. In order to stay safe, you need your eyes on the road, your hands on the wheel, and your mind on driving.
More here:

The Ultimate Cord Cutter’s Guide

– PC Mag

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“Cable TV was once considered the ultimate entertainment necessity. The over-the-air days of VHF/UHF television signals couldn’t keep up with the voracious viewers who needed more, more, more channels. Having a cable directly pumping all that high-definition content into your home became the norm, and the cable providers—which now likely provide your high-speed broadband Internet access—knew they had you on the hook.

Of course, they didn’t factor in that the Internet would become their worst enemy. 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.”

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2478213,00.asp

 

NewsOn brings news streaming to Roku, iOS, and Android devices
– digitaltrends.com

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Cord cutters don’t have to miss out on their daily TV news fix. NewsOn announced the launch of its app Wednesday Nov 4, 2015, which allows users to stream live and on-demand local newscasts and clips. NewsOn is available for download on iOS and Android smartphones and tablets, along with Roku players and TVs.

NewsOn’s video content is described as “broadcast-quality,” and it focuses on a range of topics, including business, sports, weather, and traffic.

Read more here:
http://www.digitaltrends.com/movies/roku-newson-channel/