Showing posts from March, 2014

Android "Walkie Talkie" Apps

Remember the old "Walkie Talkie" radio devices, including the toy ones we used as kids? Pretty fun. Sprint Nextel has a proprietary push-to-talk service that is quite widely used in construction and so on, and they have recently started expanding it to smartphone users with an App. If you already have an Android device though, there are several other walkie talkie apps available for use with WiFi and data services. I Love free Software has a list of 5 (free) walkie talkie apps, with a description of each.

McAfee Q4 2013 Threat Report Is Pretty Grim

2013 was a big year for the security industry, and it all came to a head in the fourth quarter. From high-profile data breaches to advanced malware, the threat landscape proved to broaden and struck several industries – hard – including, and perhaps most prominently, the retail industry. Security teams are quickly learning that in order to combat breaches and hacks, it is crucial to not only practice preventative security measures, but also to study and learn from the trending threats.
Read the rest of "A Portrait Of The Security Landscape" at

New LastPass For Android More Like PC Version, Which Is Good

As a LastPass user for some time, I was pleased to find that the new version of the mobile app now works much more like the PC version. On the PC, if you use the LastPass browser plugin, it makes logging into your various web accounts a trivial matter. On Android, less so - but that has been addressed, so props to the developers over there:

Apparently Emoticons Are Not Color Blind, Apple Offers Help

Apple has vowed to tackle the lack of racial diversity in its emojis and will work with the Unicode Consortium to make the annoying little images more politically correct. MTV Act contacted Apple to ask them to make sure the emojis were more diverse.
Currently, the human emojis are mostly pinkish. This will not do, roared MTV's finest, Joey Parker. The self-confessed "emoji addict" wrote to Tim Cook demanding to see more "people of colour" in his emojis.
An Apple spokeswoman responded: Tim forwarded your email to me. We agree with you. Our emoji characters are based on the Unicode standard, which is necessary for them to be displayed properly across many platforms. There needs to be more diversity in the emoji character set, and we have been working closely with the Unicode Consortium in an effort to update the standard. The Register

Fake Cell Tower? What Fake Cell Tower?

The City of Sunrise, Florida, tried to take a page from the CIA’s anti-transparency playbook last week when it responded to an ACLU public records request about its use of powerful cell phone location tracking gear by refusing to confirm or deny the existence of any relevant documents. And the state police are trying to get in on the act as well. We have written about the federal government’s abuse of this tactic—called a “Glomar” response—before, but local law enforcement’s adoption of the ploy reaches a new level of absurdity. In this case, the response is not only a violation of Florida law, but is also fatally undermined by records the Sunrise Police Department has already posted online.

A few weeks ago, the ACLU sent public records requests to 36 state and local Florida law enforcement agencies seeking information about their use of “cell site simulator” surveillance devices known as “Stingrays.” We were partly motivated by the discovery that the Tallahassee Police Department had…

Could This Help Fix The Identity Theft Mess?

A recent article on Krebs on Security described the (largely legal) method by which credit rating giant Experian allowed some 200 million US consumer records to be purchased by a Vietnamese man running an online identity theft service. From the article, it's plain that there's something rotten in the state of Denmark, so to speak. With free email services able to access and read your email, and the often cavalier attitude of companies after the fact when privacy breaches are discovered; they say "Sorry. Your information is important to us. Now, here is a year's worth of credit monitoring, and please go away." There don't really seem to be any real consequences, though (other than to us hapless masses).
A comment after the Krebs story caught my eye, and actually sounded like it could be an answer. Now, I have no legal background, and have no way of knowing if this is even possible, but it makes sense to me. 
Commenter SMERSH said: Individuals should have inter…

Flight 370 And The Ockham's Razor Principle

The mystery surrounding the disappearance of Malaysia Airline's flight 370 has produced much speculation, guess work and conspiratorial theorizing. However, in the absence of hard facts, the age-old principle of Ockham's Razor (sometimes Occam's Razor) perhaps should be applied. This established principle of problem solving maintains that with the absence of factual information, the simplest answer that depends on the fewest number of facts should be used, until proven otherwise. Of course, this does not drive viewers or traffic to TV cable news channels or websites respectively. 
One of the best theories I have read relies on what was currently known at the time of it's publication, and upon the experience of the author. To my knowledge, this still appears to be the best/most likely answer to this horrible event. It was first published on Google Plus (then Wired) by Chris Goodfellow. The basic premise is that of an electrical fire, followed by an attempt at an emergen…

The iPad 2 Is Dead; Long Live The iPad 4

Apple has killed the iPad 2, but has resurrected the iPad 4 as a replacement. So, if you don't want the latest, greatest and more expensive iPad Air, you can get the iPad 4 (which had been discontinued when the Air was originally introduced). Another benefit to Apple is killing off the older iPad 2 and it's 30 pin connector, the only remaining device in the lineup to use it. The "new" iPad 4 is about $30 more than when it was retired, that's progress Apple-style.

Microsoft To XP Users: "Psst, Want $50?"

Microsoft has anted up in its attempt to convince last-minute laggards to abandon Windows XP by handing a $50 carrot to people who buy a new Windows 8.1 device.

On its online Microsoft Store, the Redmond, Wash. company is giving a $50 gift card to customers who buy one of 16 Windows 8.1 notebooks, desktops, tablets or 2-in-1 hybrids. The card is good for future purchases at the e-store.

Microsoft kicked off the deal on March 6; it ends April 30.

The move was the latest in a series to convince customers to ditch the 13-year-old XP, which was sold on new PCs as recently as October 2010. Microsoft will issue the final public patches for XP security vulnerabilities on April 8.
Read the rest of "Microsoft Dangles $50 Carrot in Front of XP Users" at ComputerWorld

Why Apple Is Not Done Yet

There have been murmurings and grumblings recently that some feel Apple may have left it's glory days behind it; since the passing of visionary strong man Steve Jobs, there seems to be less juice, less innovation in the California-based company. The iPhone and iPad devices went through some evolutionary, rather than revolutionary changes in the past few cycles. There's no real sense of anything big on the horizon - or is there?

Monetizing Malware With Cryptolocker

In the "Good Old Days" of computing, when it was really starting to become popular, computer viruses would often be destructive or at least have a high nuisance value. In more recent years the goal has often been a bit more subtle, by infecting the computer in a manner that may not immediately draw attention to the user, but all the while either stealing personal information, or serving up bogus search results to get clicks and make money that way. And that's the name of the game; since it became apparent that there were ways to monetize malware, the involvement of organized gangs upped the ante and the sophistication of the attacks. Most recently, we have Ransomware, such as Cryptolocker.

Cryptolocker malware is very upfront about the motive behind it; this type of malware quietly encrypts (scrambles) your PC data, making it inaccessible to you or anyone else, and demands that you pay cash to get an unlock code to get your data back. In this regard, it is more properly …