Fireball Browser Hijack Impact Revised After Microsoft Analysis

Fireball Browser Hijack Impact Revised After Microsoft Analysis

Sean Michael Kerner, writing for eWeek: A browser hijacking operation initially reported to have 250 million victims by security firm Check Point isn’t quite that large, according to a new analysis by Microsoft. On June 1, security firm Check Point reported that a browser hijacking operation called “Fireball” had already claimed 250 million victims. According to a Microsoft analysis published June 22, Check Point’s estimate of the number of victims was “overblown” and the attack is not nearly as widespread as initially reported. The Fireball attack is a browser hijacking that is potentially able to download malware onto victims’ systems, as well as manipulate pageviews and redirect search requests. Check Point’s initial analysis claimed that Fireball was being bundled as part of free software downloads to unsuspecting users. “Indeed, we have been working with Microsoft on their analysis, feeding them with some additional data,” Maya Horowitz, group manager of threat intelligence at Check Point, said in a statement sent to eWEEK. “We tried to reassess the number of infections, and from recent data we know for sure that numbers are at least 40 million, but could be much more.”

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Posted by amiller in Blog, Security
Chrome and Firefox Headless Modes May Spur New Adware & Clickfraud Tactics

Chrome and Firefox Headless Modes May Spur New Adware & Clickfraud Tactics

From a report: During the past month, both Google and Mozilla developers have added support in their respective browsers for “headless mode,” a mechanism that allows browsers to run silently in the OS background and with no visible GUI. […] While this feature sounds very useful for developers and very uninteresting for day-to-day users, it is excellent news for malware authors, and especially for the ones dabbling with adware. In the future, adware or clickfraud bots could boot-up Chrome or Firefox in headless mode (no visible GUI), load pages, and click on ads without the user’s knowledge. The adware won’t need to include or download any extra tools and could use locally installed software to perform most of its malicious actions. In the past, there have been quite a few adware families that used headless browsers to perform clickfraud. Martijn Grooten, an editor at Virus Bulletin, also pointed Bleeping Computer to a report where miscreants had abused PhantomJS, a headless browser, to post forum spam. The addition of headless mode in Chrome and Firefox will most likely provide adware devs with a new method of performing surreptitious ad clicks.

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Posted by amiller in Blog, firefox
Tesla Is Talking To the Music Labels About Creating Its Own Streaming Service

Tesla Is Talking To the Music Labels About Creating Its Own Streaming Service

An anonymous reader shares a Recode report: Music industry sources say the carmaker has had talks with all of the major labels about licensing a proprietary music service that would come bundled with its cars, which already come equipped with a high-tech dashboard and internet connectivity. Label sources aren’t clear about the full scope of Tesla’s ambitions, but believe it is interested in offering multiple tiers of service, starting with a Pandora-like web radio offering. The bigger question: Why doesn’t Tesla simply integrate existing services, like Spotify or Apple Music, into all of its cars from the start — especially since Tesla already does a deal with Spotify for Teslas sold outside the U.S.? “We believe it’s important to have an exceptional in-car experience so our customers can listen to the music they want from whatever source they choose,” a Tesla spokesperson said. “Our goal is to simply achieve maximum happiness for our customers.”

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Posted by amiller in Blog, business
Facebook Has a New Mission: Bring the World Closer Together

Facebook Has a New Mission: Bring the World Closer Together

Facebook CEO believes the company’s primary purpose is a social one — the same it has had for year — but he’s ready to update this mission for the first time. From a report: “We used to have a sense that if we could just do those things, then that would make a lot of the things in the world better by themselves,” Zuckerberg told CNN Tech. “But now we realize that we need to do more too. It’s important to give people a voice, to get a diversity of opinions out there, but on top of that, you also need to do this work of building common ground so that way we can all move forward together.” The company even has a new mission statement: “To give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.” This marks the first time the company has overhauled its mission, which had previously been “to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.” Zuckerberg believes he has just the tool for the job: Facebook Groups, which are now used by a billion people. “A lot of what we can do is to help create a more civil and productive debate on some of the bigger issues as well,” Zuckerberg told CNN Tech.

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Posted by amiller in Blog, facebook
The world as you see it with VR180

The world as you see it with VR180

Virtual reality helps creators bring their audiences to new, amazing, and even impossible-to-visit places. As a viewer, you get a whole new angle on shows, sports, and concerts you care about. You can walk around the Eiffel Tower, dive to the bottom of the Great Barrier Reef, or get a new perspective by meeting people face-to-face in a way that isn’t possible with a flat view of the world.

We know that virtual reality videos can be really powerful, which is why we have invested in supporting 360 and VR formats for over two years. And today, VR video is the most popular way to experience VR. But, we’ve heard from creators and viewers who want to make and see even more immersive videos on YouTube. So, we’ve been working with Google’s Daydream team on a brand new video format, called VR180, that we believe will make VR content even easier to create.

VR180 videos focus on what’s in front of you, are high resolution, and look great on desktop and on mobile. They transition seamlessly to a VR experience when viewed with Cardboard, Daydream, and PSVR, which allow you to view the images stereoscopically in 3-D, where near things look near, and far things appear far. VR180 also supports livestreaming videos so creators and fans can be together in real time.

Introducing VR180 GIF

For creators, you’ll be able to set up and film your videos the way you normally would with any other camera. And, soon, you’ll be able to edit using familiar tools like Adobe Premiere Pro. From vlogs, to makeup tutorials to music videos – your videos will work great in VR.

But supporting the format is just the beginning. We want to make cameras that are easy to work with too. The Daydream team is working with several manufacturers to build cameras from the ground up for VR180. These cameras are not only great for creators looking to easily make VR content, but also anyone who wants to capture life’s highlights in VR. They will be as easy to use as point-and-shoot cameras, for around the same price. Videos and livestreams will be easy to upload to YouTube. Cameras from YI, Lenovo, and LG are on the way, and the first ones will hit shelves this winter. For other manufacturers, we’re opening up a VR180 certification program and Z CAM will be one of our first partners. Learn more and sign up for updates at vr.google.com/vr180. If you can’t wait to try these out, eligible creators can apply to loan a VR180-enabled camera from one of our YouTube Spaces around the globe.

VR180 will unlock opportunities for anyone looking to easily make VR memories. We’re just starting to scratch the surface of what is possible and look forward to seeing your new videos!

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Posted by amiller in Blog, Google VR

Pakistan Sentences First Person To Death Over Social Media Posts

With the ubiquity of social media presence in people’s daily lives, the past few years has seen the rise of concern over people’s privacy of their social media accounts, as well as concern over how content shared on those accounts could be used against the account holder. In America, this commonly breaks mostly into concerns about prospective employers reviewing social media accounts during the hiring process and how government reviews social media accounts for law enforcement purposes. While there are real concerns to be had in both cases, however, it’s useful to be reminded that there are places where it is so much worse. Useful in that it’s good to be reminded what privacy advocates are fighting to keep us from. Such as death.

In Pakistan, the government there has reached the unfortunate milestone of sentencing its first ever person to death over content he put on Facebook.

On Saturday, 30-year-old Taimoor Raza became the first person to receive a death sentence in a Pakistan anti-terrorism court for “using derogatory remarks … in respect of the Holy Prophet” on social media.

Amnesty International’s Pakistan campaigner, Nadia Rahman, said in a statement the conviction set a “dangerous precedent.”

“No one one should be hauled before an anti-terrorism court or any other court solely for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief online,” she said.

While the rules and laws of countries vary greatly, it should be an uncontroversial stance to state that no person should be sentenced to death over what amounts to speech and thought. Even those confused into thinking that supporting multiculturalism requires the absence of a moral stance on whether criticism of any particular faith ought to come with any punishment whatsoever must be capable of acknowledging that death sentences ought not be on the table for consideration. But, should someone want to argue that point, it should at least be understood that these kinds of laws pretty much have abuse of the law baked into them.

A 2016 report by Amnesty International found the laws are “open to abuse” and anyone who is accused is usually presumed to be guilty, leaving them open to mob retribution. There were 91 blasphemy cases concerning the Prophet or his companions registered between 2011 and 2015, the report said.

Specific blasphemy laws which punished perceived insults to Islam were introduced between 1980 and 1986, during a period of martial law under the military government of General Zia-ul-Haq. They were never removed once martial law ended.

The genesis of these laws should tell you all you need to know about their virtue, which is to say they have none. It also demonstrates the fear that regimes of this kind have in regards to the sort of wide-ranging communications tool that Facebook represents. This all comes down to controlling thought within the citizenry out of fear of a change in social opinion, which would deprive that regime of the power it wields so perniciously. With that in mind, actions taken by governments of this kind deserve the broadest and harshest condemnation, and damn well ought to weigh on foreign policy as well.

Put more simply, if governments, including America’s, can’t take a stand against death sentences over Facebook posts, it cedes the moral high ground to an astounding degree.

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Posted by amiller in Blog

BrandPost: NVM Express Has Transformed Fast Storage in the Cloud – and it’s Coming to Enterprise

If we go back to 2009, the work to define NVM Express (NVMe) had just begun, and around that same time, Microsoft Azure made its first major purchase of Serial ATA (SATA) based solid-state drives (SSDs) to help accelerate its storage servers by offloading the storage commit log. Microsoft knew that non-volatile memory (e.g, NAND Flash) would become very important for cloud computing, although it was still very expensive and restricted to use in limited applications. It was also clear to Microsoft that the SATA interface would be unsuitable to handle the performance of future high performance SSDs.

In 2011, as NVM Express had just had its first revision published, a competing standards proposal came on the scene called SCSI Express. SCSI Express was designed to use the traditional SCSI command set (including three decades of legacy infrastructure for hard drives) on top of the PCI Express interface. Looking at the technical merits, there was consensus in the Microsoft Windows and Azure teams that NVMe was the better interface definition for NAND Flash and to scale to future NVM technologies (e.g., 3D XPoint™ Technology, MRAM, etc). Microsoft worried that competing standards would lead to many headaches in the market, and thus, Microsoft Azure decided at the time to support the NVMe standard and collaborate with other industry leaders promoting NVMe including Cisco, Dell, Intel, Micron, Microsemi, NetApp, Oracle, Samsung, Seagate, WD to avoid bifurcation of the market by investing in NVMe to ensure it met the needs of the Cloud. In this article, we will describe the journey of the past five years, where today NVMe is the predominant SSD interface used by Microsoft Azure.

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Posted by amiller in Blog