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McAfee’s Biometric Authentication Software Coming By End Of The Year

November 26, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

A McAfee security product that will use biometric technology to authenticate users will be available for download by the end of the year, said Kirk Skaugen, senior vice president and general manager of the PC Client Group at Intel, last week.

“Your biometrics basically eliminate the need for you to enter passwords for Windows log in and eventually all your websites ever again,” Skaugen said.

Further product details were not immediately available. But one of the major inconveniences in using PCs and tablets is remembering passwords, which biometrics can tame.

An average user has about 18 passwords and biometric authentication will make PCs easier to use, Skaugen said.

Biometric authentication isn’t new. It’s being used in Apple Pay, where fingerprint authentication helps authorize credit card payments through the iPhone or iPad. Intel has been working on multiple forms of biometric authentication through fingerprint, gesture, face and voice recognition.

McAfee is owned by Intel, and the chip maker is building smartphone, tablet and PC technology that takes advantage of the security software. Intel has also worked on biometric technology for wearable devices like SMS Audio’s BioSport In-Ear Headphones, which can measure a person’s heart rate.

Intel also wants to make PCs and tablets easier to use through wireless charging, display, docking and data transfers. Such capabilities would eliminate the need to carry power brick and cables for displays and data transfers. Such capabilities will start appearing in laptops next year with sixth-generation Core chips code-named Skylake, which will be released in the second half.

 

 

Symantec Uncovers Advanced Spying Malware

November 25, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

An advanced malicious software application has been discovered that since 2008 was used to spy on private companies, governments, research institutes and individuals in 10 countries, anti virus software maker Symantec Corp said in a report on Sunday.

The Mountain View, California-based maker of Norton anti virus products said its research showed that a “nation state” was likely the developer of the malware called Regin, or Backdoor. Regin, but Symantec did not identify any countries or victims.

Symantec said Regin’s design “makes it highly suited for persistent, long-term surveillance operations against targets,” and was withdrawn in 2011 but resurfaced from 2013 onward.

The malware uses several “stealth” features “and even when its presence is detected, it is very difficult to ascertain what it is doing,” according to Symantec. It said “many components of Regin remain undiscovered and additional functionality and versions may exist.”

Almost half of all infections occurred at addresses of Internet service providers, the report said. It said the targets were customers of the companies rather than the companies themselves. About 28 percent of targets were in telecoms while other victims were in the energy, airline, hospitality and research sectors, Symantec said.

Symantec described the malware as having five stages, each “hidden and encrypted, with the exception of the first stage.” It said “each individual stage provides little information on the complete package. Only by acquiring all five stages is it possible to analyze and understand the threat.”

Regin also uses what is called a modular approach that allows it to load custom features tailored to targets, the same method applied in other malware, such as Flamer and Weevil (The Mask), the anti virus company said. Some of its features were also similar to Duqu malware, uncovered in September 2011 and related to a computer worm called Stuxnet, discovered the previous year.

Symantec said Russia and Saudi Arabia accounted for about half of the confirmed infections of the Regin malware and the other countries were Mexico, Ireland, India, Iran,Afghanistan, Belgium, Austria and Pakistan.

 

 

Government Officials Warns Consumers To Secure Their Web Cams

November 24, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Government officials in the U.S. and the UK are warning consumers to secure their webcams after websites that broadcast the contents of those cameras have sprung up online.

One of the better-known sites, Insecam, appeared to have gone offline after the warnings, but at least one site that publishes similar content was still available.

The websites show footage from security cameras used by businesses and in people’s homes, including CCTV networks that secure buildings and even cameras built into baby monitors.

Last week  the U.K.’s data protection watchdog warned of a website based in Russia that accesses thousands of webcams using their default logins and passwords, which it said can be easily found online.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission also weighed in, warning users to ensure video feeds are encrypted and that wireless routers are protected by passwords.

“Once you’ve bought your IP camera, check its security settings and keep its software up-to-date,” wrote Nicole Vincent Fleming, a consumer education specialist with the FTC in a blog post.

Security experts have long warned that not changing the default credentials on such devices can allow them to be accessed by hackers.

The domain name Insecam.cc was registered through GoDaddy earlier this month, though whoever registered it chose to keep their registration details private in the “whois” domain directory.

The U.K. information commissioner has reportedly urged the Russian authorities to take down the site.

 

 

Nokia Launches N1 Tablet

November 20, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Finland’s Nokia unveiled a new brand-licensed tablet computer which is designed to rival Apple’s iPad Mini, just six months after the company sold its underperforming phones and devices business to Microsoft for over $7 billion.

Nokia, a name which was once synonymous with mobile phones until first Apple and then Samsung Electronics eclipsed the Finnish company with the advent of smart phones, said the manufacturing, distribution and sales of the new N1 tablet, will be handled under license by Taiwan’s Foxconn.

The aluminum-cased N1, which runs on Google’s Android Lollipop operating software but features Nokia’s new Z Launcher intelligent home screen interface, is due to be in stores in China in the first quarter of next year for an estimated price of $249 before taxes, with sales to other markets to follow.

Sebastian Nystrom, the head of products at Nokia’s Technologies unit, said the company was looking to follow up with more devices and will also look into eventually returning to the smartphones business by brand-licensing.

“With the agreement with Microsoft, as is customary, we have this transition and we can’t do smartphones … We have a time limit. In 2016 we can again enter that business,” Nystrom told Reuters.

“It would be crazy not to look at that opportunity. Of course we will look at it.”

Microsoft last week dropped the Nokia name on its latest Lumia 535 smartphone, which runs on its Windows Phone 8 operating system, but still uses the brand for more basic phones.

After the Microsoft sale Nokia was left with its core network equipment and services business plus its smaller HERE mapping and navigation unit and Nokia Technologies, which manages the licensing of its portfolio of patents and develops new products such as the N1 and the Z Launcher.

 

 

Apple Finally Offers A Way Out From iMessage

November 13, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Apple has finally published a tool that lets iPhone owners sever the link to iMessage, iOS’s texting service, when they leave the company’s circle of devices for Android, BlackBerry or Windows Phone.

The tool, which allows former owners to disable iMessage even after they’ve disposed of their iPhones, was the first self-service option Apple has offered.

Because iMessage is enabled by default — and is the standard texting service for iOS-to-iOS communication — iPhone owners who had changed smartphones and kept their numbers were not getting texts from other iPhone owners. Apple, unaware that the user had deserted iOS for a rival smartphone ecosystem, was still routing iOS-originating texts to the recipient’s now-unused Message app.

Some called it “iMessage purgatory,” while others referred to it as the “iMessage black hole.”

The problem had existed since 2011, when Apple introduced iMessage and the companion Message app, and was partly technical: Texts sent between iOS devices via iMessage don’t transit a carrier’s SMS (short message service) network, but instead are sent over the Internet.

iMessage’s inability to reroute texts from iOS users — and since 2012′s OS X Mountain Lion, from Mac owners as well — prompted at least one federal lawsuit.

The new tool aims to solve the purgatory problem by letting former iPhone owners, even if they have disposed of the device, route texts to non-Apple smartphones. After entering the phone number for the Android, BlackBerry or Windows Phone device, the user must enter the confirmation code sent to the smartphone into the Web form.

 

 

Silk Road 2.0 Shut Down By U.S. Government

November 10, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

U.S. governmnent authorities said they have shut down the successor website to Silk Road, an underground online drug marketplace, and charged its alleged operator with conspiracy to commit drug trafficking, computer hacking, money laundering and other crimes.

Blake Benthall, 26, was arrested last Wednesday in San Francisco and was expected to make an initial court appearance in federal court there later on Thursday.

The charges against Benthall carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.

A lawyer for Benthall could not immediately be identified.

Silk Road 2.0 was launched late last year, weeks after authorities had shuttered the original Silk Road website in October and arrested its alleged owner, Ross Ulbricht, who went by the online alias, Dread Pirate Roberts.

“Let’s be clear – this Silk Road, in whatever form, is the road to prison,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, whose office is prosecuting both cases, said in a statement.

Benthall, known as “Defcon” online, became the operator of Silk Road 2.0 in December, one month after an unnamed co-conspirator launched the site, according to prosecutors.

Silk Road 2.0 provided an online bazaar where users across the world could buy and sell drugs, computer hacking tools and other illicit items, using the digital currency Bitcoin as payment, authorities said.

As of September, the site was generating at least $8 million a month in sales, they said.

The government’s investigation included an undercover agent who was able to infiltrate the administrative staff of the website and interact directly with Benthall, prosecutors said.

Ulbricht, 30, has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled for trial in New York in January.

 

Researchers At MIT Devleop Edible Batteries

November 10, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Technology

MIT has come up with a technique which allows terminally dim children, begat of stupid parents, to swallow batteries. Apparently year, nearly 4,000 children go to emergency rooms after swallowing button batteries which can cause burns that permanently damage the esophagus, tears in the digestive tract, and in some cases, even removing the kid from the gene pool.

Boffins at MIT, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Massachusetts General Hospital have devised a new way to coat batteries with a special material that prevents them from conducting electricity after being swallowed. In animal tests, they found that such batteries did not damage the gastrointestinal (GI) tract at all, the only tricky thing was finding an animal (other than a dog) which was dumb enough to eat them.

David H. Koch Institute Professor at MIT and a member of MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, Institute for Medical Engineering and Science (IMES), and Department of Chemical Engineering said that once the battery was swallowed, they start interacting with water or saliva. This creates an electric current that produces hydroxide, a caustic ion that damages tissue.

Quantum tunnelling composite (QTC), an off-the-shelf material commonly used in computer keyboards and touch screens, fit the bill perfectly. QTC is a rubberlike material, usually made of silicone, embedded with metal particles. Under normal circumstances, these particles are too far apart to conduct an electric current. However, when squeezed, the particles come closer together and start conducting. This allows QTC to switch from an insulator to a conductor.

Very clever, still no cure for cancer but some more stupid children will live to buy Apple products, walk into lamp-posts while texting and watch reality TV.

Courtesy-Fud

Dell Expresses Optimism About Consumers Interest In Windows 10

November 7, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Windows 10 is set to replace the heavily criticized Windows 8 next year and some forward-thinking Dell customers are already excited about the possibilities of the new OS.

Dell customers who are exploring Windows 10 believe that the new OS takes care of some issues that Windows 8 failed to address, said Neil Hand, vice president of tablets at Dell.

The biggest advantage of Windows 10 is the ability to run programs across devices, be they mobile or desktop, Hand said.

“The ability to create applications that are super-scalable from phone to tablet to PC is the big step in a lot of ways,” Hand said.

Dell is in the early stages of testing Windows 10 with its customers and Hand said it’s premature to say whether the OS will succeed. Dell runs Windows on most of its PCs and will likely adopt Windows 10 for its tablets and PCs next year.

Microsoft previously offered different versions of the Windows OS for mobile phones, desktops and servers, but Windows 10 is designed to unite all those editions.

Microsoft also offers separate versions of Windows 8 for its Surface 2 and Surface Pro tablets, which run on different instruction sets. Programs written for Surface 2, which is based on ARM, won’t run on Surface Pro 3, which is based on an Intel chipset. Windows 10 will eliminate any such incompatibilities and also make it easier to write and export programs from one device to another.

“Windows 10 will run across an incredibly broad set of devices — from the Internet of Things, to servers in enterprise datacenters worldwide. Some of these devices have 4 inch screens — some have 80 inch screens — and some don’t have screens at all,” said Terry Myerson , executive vice president at Microsoft’s Operating Systems group, in a blog entry.

Windows 8, with its all-new tablet user interface, presented a radical transition at the time of its release two years ago and enterprise customers preferred to go with the older Windows 7. Business users, who are Dell’s target base, have mostly skipped Windows 8 and are still upgrading PCs to Windows 7.

However, Microsoft had the right idea in mind with Windows 8, which was to prepare customers for mobile, Hand said.

 

 

Intel Opens Up The Core M

November 6, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Intel has extended its Core M range of fanless mobile chips by adding four models to the three initial Core M processors launched at the IFA trade show in September.

Like those first fanless models, Intel’s new Core M processors are dual-core chips that support Hyperthreading in up to four threads and have thermal design power (TDP) ratings of 4.5W.

They’re faster than the initial Core M chips, with base clock speeds ranging from 800MHz to 1.2GHz and Turbo Boost speeds from 2GHz to 2.9GHz.

The firm’s initial Core M chips were also rated at 4.5W TDP but topped out at 1.1GHz and 2.6GHz under Turbo Boost.

These additional fanless mobile chips are configurable by system designers, in that OEMs can scale the chip speeds and power consumption up or down depending on the purpose and configuration of the device.

A compact tablet or notebook can conserve power by limiting processor speed, while a larger device can offer higher speed at the cost of higher power draw and heat.

Thus, these new Core M chips can be configured from 600MHz base clock speed and 3.5W TDP to 1.4GHz base clock speed and 6W TDP in the fastest model.

Intel has also boosted the integrated graphics processors in these latest Core M chips, offering GPU base clock speeds ranging from 300MHz to 900MHz, whereas the initial models supported 100MHz to 850MHz.

The detailed specifications of all of Intel’s Core M mobile processors are available on the firm’s website.

Intel said that these new fanless Core M processors will start hitting the market early next year.

Courtesy-TheInq

After Privacy Concerns,Adobe E-reader Software Now Collect Less Data

November 4, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Tests on the latest version of Adobe System’s e-reader software reveals the company is now collecting less data following a privacy-related row last month, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Digital Editions version 4.0.1 appears to only collect data on e-books that have DRM (Digital Rights Management), wrote Cooper Quintin, a staff technologist with the EFF. DRM places restrictions on how content can be used with the intent of thwarting piracy.

Adobe was criticized in early October after it was discovered Digital Editions collected metadata about e-books on a device, even if the e-books did not have DRM. Those logs were also sent to Adobe in plain text.

Since that data was not encrypted, critics including the EFF contended it posed major privacy risks for users. For example, plain text content could be intercepted by an interloper from a user who is on the same public Wi-Fi network.

Adobe said on Oct. 23 it fixed the issues in 4.0.1, saying it would not collect data on e-books without DRM and encrypt data that is transmitted back to the company.

Quintin wrote the EFF’s latest test showed the “only time we saw data going back to an Adobe server was when an e-book with DRM was opened for the first time. This data is most likely being sent back for DRM verification purposes, and it is being sent over HTTPS.”

If an e-book has DRM, Adobe may record how long a person reads it or the percentage of the content that is read, which is used for “metered” pricing models.

Other technical metrics are also collected, such as the IP address of the device downloading a book, a unique ID assigned to the specific applications being used at the time and a unique ID for the device, according to Adobe.

 

 

Facebook Comes To TOR, The Anonymity Network

November 3, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook has made its site directly available on Tor to prevent access problems for user on the anonymity network and to provide an alternative method of accessing the social network securely.

People who have a Tor-enabled browser will be able to access Facebook via https://facebookcorewwwi.onion/, Facebook software engineer Alec Muffett said in a post to the social network.

Tor, an acronym for The Onion Router, is software designed to offer users better privacy when browsing the Internet. It routes traffic through a network of worldwide servers in order to mask the user’s location. The system is widely used by people who don’t want to reveal their real IP address while browsing and it is also used by people to access services that are blocked by governments in some countries.

Facebook also allows access to the site via HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) and other technologies designed to give people more confidence that they are connected securely to the social network.

However, the way Tor works sometimes poses a problem for Facebook and its users, said Muffett.

“Tor challenges some assumptions of Facebook’s security mechanisms — for example its design means that from the perspective of our systems a person who appears to be connecting from Australia at one moment may the next appear to be in Sweden or Canada. In other contexts such behavior might suggest that a hacked account is being accessed through a ‘botnet,’ but for Tor this is normal,” he said.

The setup of Facebook’s security infrastructure has sometimes led to unnecessary hurdles for people who connect to Facebook using Tor. To make the user experience better for Tor users, the site has been made available with an “onion” address.

A quick glance around Facebook on Tor showed no obvious differences with the regular Facebook site, though it was a bit slower, probably due to traffic routed through a couple of relays. Facebook expects the service “to be of an evolutionary and slightly flaky nature.”

“Facebook’s onion address provides a way to access Facebook through Tor without losing the cryptographic protections provided by the Tor cloud,” Muffett said, adding that the idea is that the .onion address lets people connect to Facebook’s Core WWW Infrastructure. It provides a direct connection from the browser into a Facebook data center.

 

 

 

Are Tablet Sells Picking Up In The U.S.?

November 3, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

According to Techeye, IDC said that the worldwide tablet market grew by 11.5 percent in the third quarter of 2014 and shipments totalled 53.8 million units.

Sales were boosted by the “back to school” season and the fact that Americans wanted to them.

It is not clear where this boost is happening. Apple is still the leader in tablets, but is continuing to see a decline in its sales. It shipped 12.3 million units in the third quarter, while Samsung shipped 9.9 million units and despite being second has an 18.3 percent market share. Asus displaced Lenovo from number three.

Asus, followed by Lenovo and in number five position is RCA, which got to its worldwide position by shipping 2.6 million tablets in the USA.

It would be a risky company which based its views entirely on what happens in the US. Everyone in Europe knows that if there is something crazy or strange happening in the world it will always be happening in the US. Our bet is that phones are getting bigger and are making tablets pretty useless.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Microsoft’s MDM Finally Coming To Office 365

October 31, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft will rollout mobile device management (MDM) capabilities to Office 365 in 2015, making it easier for firms to manage corporate data across a range of mobile devices, including those running iOS and Android as well as Windows.

Microsoft unveiled the updates coming to its Office 365 cloud-delivered productivity suite in 2015 at its TechEd Europe conference.

These will enable customers to apply security policies against devices that connect to Office 365 to ensure that email and documents can be accessed only by approved devices, plus the ability to remotely wipe Office 365 data if necessary.

Julia White, Microsoft general manager for Office 365, said that the updates will enable customers to offer “conditional access” to Office documents and email, such as ensuring that any device used by employees has not been jailbroken or rooted, which could potentially pose a security risk.

Administrators will be able to set policies directly from the Office 365 administration portal, and enforce the use of a Pin to secure access to the device. Any wipe of Office 365 content will not affect the user’s personal data, White added.

These MDM features coming to Office 365 are actually powered by Microsoft’s Intune cloud-based management service and are a subset of Intune’s capabilities, the firm disclosed.

Intune itself is also getting some upgrades that will enable customers to benefit from additional security features if they also subscribe to Intune.

These will include data leak prevention measures that enable policies to be applied against managed applications, preventing users from copying and pasting data from an Office 365 app to another, for example, or copying files from Office 365 to elsewhere on the device.

While these capabilities are built in to Office 365, Microsoft will also enable this to be extended to other applications using Intune app wrapper functionality, White said.

White also confirmed that Microsoft is working on an Android version of the Office for iPad suite of mobile productivity tools that the firm announced for Apple’s tablet platform earlier this year.

Microsoft’s Office announcement comes amid speculation that the firm will release Office for Android next month.

Courtesy-TheInq

Microsoft Confirms Next Generation Of Office To Launch In 2015

October 30, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft has confirmed that it plans to roll out its next version of Office for Windows in the second half of 2015.

ZDNet blogger Mary Jo Foley first reported on comments made by Julia White, general manager of marketing for Office and Office 365, at Microsoft’s Tech Ed Europe conference in Barcelona.

According to Foley, White said that the next version of Office on Windows would launch in the last half of next year, a broad timetable that was different from previous speculation, which had focused on the first half of 2015, perhaps as early as April.

During the end of a guest spot Tuesday on Channel 9, Microsoft’s online television channel, White did not specify the second half of the year, saying only “later in 2015.” But she did mention that the next version of Office would go through Microsoft’s typical testing process, including TAP (Technology Adoption Program) and a beta, with the latter presumably available to the general public.

TAP builds are pre-beta, and restricted to an invite-only group that’s usually composed of Microsoft’s larger corporate customers.

Microsoft confirmed that White’s comments were accurate as reported.

If Microsoft makes its target of the second half of next year, the upgrade would be on the same schedule as the last several editions, which have been released about two-and-a-half-years apart. Office 2013, for example, reached what Microsoft calls “general availability” in January 2013, while Office 2010 and Office 2007 made that milestone in June 2010 and January 2007, respectively.

The next office, code named Office 16, would carry the official label of Office 2016 if Microsoft follows convention.

 

 

3D Printer Shipments Expected To Double By Next Year

October 29, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Shipments of 3D printers will double over the next year, reaching 217,350 units in 2015, up from 108,151 in 2014, according to research released by Gartner

That rate of growth is expected to increase each year over the next three years. By 2018, Gartner forecast shipments worldwide to top more than 2.4 million units.

The report points to the popularity of lower-cost, “plug-and-print” machines that require little or no technological knowledge to use. Users simply plug the machines into their desktops or laptops, upload 3D CAD images and hit “print.”

“As we noted last year, the 3D printer market is at an inflection point,” said Pete Basiliere, research vice president at Gartner. “Unit shipment growth rates for 3D printers, which languished in the low single and double digits per year throughout the 30 years since the first 3D printers were invented, are poised to increase dramatically beginning in 2015.”

As radical as the forecast numbers may seem, Basiliere noted that even the 2.4 million shipments Gartner expects to be sold in 2018 is still “a small fraction of the total potential market of consumers, businesses and government organizations worldwide.”

Gartner includes seven technologies in the 3D printer market that will propel growth, including the material extrusion products used to print objects. Two main thermoplastics dominate: PLA (Polylactic acid) and ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene).

The primary drivers for consumer-grade 3D printers include lower prices (below $1,000), improved performance and expanded global availability. The primary drivers for the enterprise 3D printer market are the viability of the technologies for rapid product prototyping and manufacturing coupled with lower 3D printer costs, improved quality and a wider range of materials, Gartner said.