Thursday, February 27, 2014

Liverpool researchers create 'contagious' WiFi virus Researchers have created a computer virus that spreads like the common cold

WiFi virus
Researchers at the University of Liverpool have demonstrated that WiFi networks can be infected with a virus that can move through densely populated areas as efficiently as the common cold spreads between humans.
The team designed and simulated an attack by a virus, called Chameleon, and found that not only could it spread quickly between homes and businesses, but it was able to avoid detection and identify the points at which WiFi access is least protected by encryption and passwords.
Chameleon behaves like an airborne virus, travelling across the WiFi network via Access Points (APs) that connect households and businesses to WiFi networks. Areas that are more densely populated have more APs in closer proximity to each other, which meant that the virus propagated more quickly.
“When Chameleon attacked an AP it didn’t affect how it worked, but was able to collect and report the credentials of all other WiFi users who connected to it. The virus then sought out other WiFi APs that it could connect to and infect,” said Alan Marshall, Professor of Network Security at the University.
Chameleon was able to avoid detection as current virus detection systems look for viruses that are present on the internet or computers, but Chameleon is only ever present in the WiFi network.
While many APs are sufficiently encrypted and password protected, the virus simply moved on to find those which weren’t strongly protected including open access WiFi points common in locations such as coffee shops and airports.
“WiFi connections are increasingly a target for computer hackers because of well-documented security vulnerabilities, which make it difficult to detect and defend against a virus," said Professor Marshall.
“It was assumed, however, that it wasn’t possible to develop a virus that could attack WiFi networks but we demonstrated that this is possible and that it can spread quickly. We are now able to use the data generated from this study to develop a new technique to identify when an attack is likely.”
The team is now reportedly working on a product that could be installed in WiFi access points to prevent this kind of hijacking, without requiring the user to take responsibility.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

BlackBerry Tries to Bring Back That Lovin' Feelin'

BlackBerry Tries to Bring Back That Lovin' Feelin' 

Having let the parade pass it by, BlackBerry first tried to reinvent itself. That went over like a lead balloon. Now, with its customers and prospects dwindling, BlackBerry is backtracking, trying to restore the things people used to love about its products. Among them are a handful of physical buttons and a trackpad, which it's bringing back in the Q20, an upcoming BB 10 smartphone.

BlackBerry has announced new handsets and services aimed at moving the company forward as it tries to recover from a lackluster 2013.
At the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona, CEO John Chen debuted two new phones -- the Q20 and the low-cost Z3.
The Q20 offers the classic BlackBerry QWERTY keyboard and experience on BlackBerry 10. It features BlackBerry's physical Menu, Back, Send, and End buttons along with a trackpad. Last year's Q10 had the QWERTY keyboard, but neither the navigation buttons nor trackpad.
The company apparently received many complaints from customers who missed those elements of the BlackBerry experience.
"I want these customers to know that we heard them, and this new smartphone will be for them," said Chen.
The Q20 has a 3.5-inch touchscreen -- the largest display on a QWERTY BlackBerry smartphone -- a large battery, and a design including "premium materials" intended for reliability and durability.
It will be released in the second half of the year, with availability and pricing announced closer to launch.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Facebook Launches Ferry Service for Employees

Facebook has become the latest San Francisco Bay Area technology company to launch ferry service for its employees.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports ( the social networking giant began chartering a 30-person water taxi Feb. 4 to take employees from San Francisco to Redwood City. The taxi is free and runs round-trip service on Tuesdays and Fridays.
Workers are then taken by bus to the company's campus a little farther south in Menlo Park.
The company told the Chronicle it is testing the ferry service for 90 days.
Google also tested ferry service for employees but abandoned the experiment last week after a month.
The ferry services come as technology companies have faced criticism for running private buses to pick up employees in San Francisco.

Here’s a List of 58 Gender Options for Facebook Users

AP facebook gender options jef 140213 16x9 608 Heres a List of 58 Gender Options for Facebook Users
Facebook introduced dozens of options for users to identify their gender today – and although the social media giant said it would not be releasing a comprehensive list, ABC News has found at least 58 so far.
Previously, users had to identify themselves as male or female. They were also given the option of not answering or keeping their gender private.
User’s can now select a “custom” gender option.
“There’s going to be a lot of people for whom this is going to mean nothing, but for the few it does impact, it means the world,” Facebook software engineer Brielle Harrison told the Associated Press. Harrison, who worked on the project, is in the process of gender transition, from male to female.
Facebook will also allow users to select between three pronouns: “him,” “her” or “their.”
The following are the 58 gender options identified by ABC News:

Facebook Users, Others React to Gender Options

Facebook announced Thursday that its 159 million U.S. users now have dozens of options for completing the gender question on their profiles. The social media giant has been working with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights groups to expand the choices beyond male and female. The result: a "custom" option that lets users pick from about 50 terms, including transsexual, androgynous and intersex.
The Associated Press asked Facebook users and others for their reactions:
Jay Brown, 35, of Maryland, changed his gender on Facebook to Trans Male on Thursday once the option became available.
"Looking at my Facebook profile, people see photos of my 3- and 5-year-olds, my love for running and that my wife had a birthday yesterday," Brown told the AP. "They saw a dad, a runner, a husband. The 'male' selection was right but it wasn't all there was to me. Today, Facebook is letting me bring more of my identity to the table."
Jeff Johnston, issues analyst for Focus on the Family, an influential national religious organization based in Colorado Springs, Colo., said just because people lobbying for the change say there are an infinite number of options, that's not true.
"Of course Facebook is entitled to manage its wildly popular site as it sees fit, but here is the bottom line: It's impossible to deny the biological reality that humanity is divided into two halves - male and female," Johnston told the AP.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

In new profile feature, Facebook offers choices for gender identity

A portrait of the Facebook logo in Ventura, California December 21, 2013. REUTERS/Eric Thayer
A portrait of the Facebook logo in Ventura, California December 21, 2013.

 For the first time, Facebook Inc is letting users of its online social network identify themselves as a gender other than male and female.
The basic user profile for members in the United States now includes a customizable category among the gender types that users must select, the world's No.1 Internet social network announced on Thursday, the day the feature became available for U.S. members using the site's English-language version.

Hackers used previously unknown Internet Explorer flaw in new attacks

A previously unknown flaw in a recent version of Microsoft Corp's Internet Explorer web browser is being used to attack Internet users, including some visitors to a major site for U.S. military veterans, researchers said Thursday.
Security firm FireEye Inc discovered the attacks against IE 10 this week, saying that hundreds or thousands of machines have been infected. It said the culprits broke into the website of U.S. Veterans of Foreign Wars and inserted a link that redirected visitors to a malicious web page that contained the infectious code in Adobe Systems Inc's Flash software.

Microsoft Windows 8 lags predecessor in first-year sales

A Microsoft Surface tablet is seen during the launch of Microsoft Windows 8 operating system in Hong Kong October 26, 2012. REUTERS/Bobby Yip
(Reuters) - Microsoft Corp's Windows 8 system has racked up more than 200 million license sales since its launch 15 months ago, according to Tami Reller, its head of marketing, lagging Windows 7 which sold 240 million within its first year.
The latest Windows 8 sales figure, announced by Reller at a Goldman Sachs technology conference on Thursday, is the first that Microsoft has made public for more than six months.
The relatively slow sales of Windows 8, and its latest incarnation Windows 8.1, reflect a steady two-year decline in personal computer sales, as smartphones and tablet sales explode. Sales of tablets are set to overtake PCs worldwide next year.

Is Microsoft rethinking its decision to build Office for iPad? Comments from the company's marketing chief suggest Microsoft may be having second thoughts

In appearances in September and October, Steve Ballmer said Microsoft would build native Office editions for iPads and Android tablets, but the company's marketing chief spoke with much less certainty when asked about this on Thursday.
At the Goldman Sachs Technology & Internet Conference, Marketing Executive Vice President Tami Reller was asked about Microsoft's willingness to "repurpose" Office for other platforms, even if this means hurting Windows' appeal.
[ InfoWorld reviews Office 2013, the best Office yet, and reveals the best office apps for your iPad. | Stay up on key Microsoft technologies in our Technology: Microsoft newsletter. ]
Microsoft must make sure its most important brands are differentiated in the market, and Windows is no exception, Reller said .
"With Windows, we're obviously spending a lot of time thinking about how do we continue to differentiate the full Windows experience," she said.
A big asset for Windows continues to be Office, she said, adding that Office is also a major franchise in its own right.
Without directly answering the specific question posed by the moderator, Reller said those types of decisions will be made on a business-by-business and product-by-product basis.
The answer is a far cry from the unequivocal comments former CEO Ballmer made several months ago, when he went so far as to say that the Office version for iPads and Android tablets would come after Microsoft delivered a touch-first version for Windows 8.
Reller's answer begs the question whether Microsoft is having second thoughts about its plan to port Office to those rival tablet devices and is back to hand-wringing mode over the dilemma of protecting Windows at the expense of liberating Office.
Many critics fault Microsoft for having taken so long to deliver a full version of Office for iPads, in particular.
Regarding Windows 8, Reller disclosed that the OS recently topped the 200 million license mark, a milestone she described as "stunning" while cautioning that Microsoft isn't relaxing its efforts and focus on the OS.
"With Windows 8 we're being very thoughtful about what's going well and with what's not going well, how do we change that?" she said.
The OS has "a lot of traction" but there is "yet a lot more work to do," she added.
Expectations for Windows 8 were sky high when it shipped in October 2012, because Microsoft designed it with a touch-optimized interface intended to improve the OS' anemic position in the tablet market.
However, that tile-based interface got very mixed reviews, especially from consumers and businesses that planned to use it primarily with keyboards and mice. Windows 8.1, an update released almost a year later, addressed many of those complaints but also came with a new set of bugs, some of them widespread and disruptive.
Right now, Microsoft is focused on making sure Windows offers an outstanding user experience across a broad variety of existing and future devices, from small tablets and smartphones all the way up to high-performance desktop PCs, Reller said.
Asked about the future of Windows RT -- the Windows 8 version for devices running on ARM chips -- Reller said Microsoft is happy with the way it's working in its Surface 2 tablets. She also said Microsoft aims to have "a world-class mobile OS."
There have been rumors in recent months that Microsoft plans to merge Windows RT and the Windows Phone OS, which today are separate products.

Wozniak to Apple: Consider building an Android phone Apple's co-founder laments BlackBerry's fall and has harsh words for Microsoft and the NSA

Wozniak to Apple: Consider building an Android phoneThough Apple sells its own wildly popular iPhone smartphone, the company might want to consider offering a phone based on the rival Google Android platform, too, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak suggested on Wednesday. "There's nothing to keep Apple out of the Android market as a secondary phone market," he said.An Android offering could supplement Apple's own iOS platform, Wozniak suggested while speaking at the Apps World conference in San Francisco. He acknowledged the rivalry between Android and iOS, even referring to Android as the "anti-iPhone" alternative to Apple. Wozniak made the suggestion of an Apple Android device when responding to a question about the fate of the faltering BlackBerry platform in which he said BlackBerry should have built an Android phone; he then said Apple could do so, too. "BlackBerry's very sad for me," Wozniak lamented. "I think it's probably too late now" for an Android-based BlackBerry phone.

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