Stop. Think. Connect. Cyber attacks permanetly damage your computer, and virtual predators can steal your personal information and use elements of your identity to commit fraud. The U.S. Department of Commerce will launch an office focused on promoting online trusted identity technologies, although much of the effort will be driven by private vendors, officials with President Barack Obama’s administration said.
Trusted ID technology is important because it can help improve consumer confidence in the Internet, said Gary Locke, secretary of the Commerce Department, during a speech at Stanford University in California. “The reality is that the Internet still faces something of a trust issue,” Locke said. “It will not reach its full potential until users and consumers feel more secure than they do today when they go online.” (more…)
It’s always kind of surprising to me how many people don’t really bother to maintain their PC. A lot of folks seem to think that they can simply let their computer run without any sort of user intervention at all. The trouble is, it doesn’t work that way. As with one’s vehicle, which needs timely maintenance, so does your computer. Your computer’s is a complex, intricate machine, and it needs to be well-cared for in order to properly function, if not you will suffer problems down the road.
What’s more, it’s not just the hardware of a system that has a tendency to degrade over time. Modern computers are complex, intricate pieces of technology- fifty years ago, people wouldn’t have even dreamed this sort of stuff existed. As with any complex system, sometimes things tend to go wrong. A glitch in the software here, a misplaced line of code there, and boom. What’s shocking isn’t the fact that there’s literally thousands of ways a computer could break down and simply stop working. No, what’s shocking is that most of these issues, most of these errors, are preventable. Windows users suffer through lot’s of problems, this is why I openly advocate Linux.
Here’s a few exercises (primarily meant for Windows users) that you should do, to ensure that your computer is in top working condition.
The new Trojan known as OSX/Miner-D, nicknamed “DevilRobber” by antivirus vendors, is being distributed together with several software applications via BitTorrent sites.
“This malware is complex, and performs many operations,” security researchers from Mac antivirus vendor Intego warned. “It is a combination of several types of malware: It is a Trojan horse, since it is hidden inside other applications; it is a backdoor, as it opens ports and can accept commands from command and control servers; it is a stealer, as it steals data and Bitcoin virtual money; and it is a spyware, as it sends personal data to remote servers,” they explained. The software is being distributed through torrent sites. It installs a Java-based application called “DiabloMiner” that uses your Mac’s graphics processing unit (GPU) to generate Bitcoins.
The Bitcoin mining program that DevilRobber installs on infected computers is called DiabloMiner and is a legitimate Java-based application used in the virtual currency’s production. As this application is Java based, it will run on Windows, Solaris and Linux computers.
The first sign of infection is if your Mac suddenly becomes sluggish, Graham Cluley of Sophos wrote in a blog post.
“It’s becoming clearer every week that Mac users need to take malware protection more seriously by running anti-virus software,” he wrote.
The DevilRobber trojan steals processing power, which can lead to slow computer performance, as well as actual Bitcoins, which are kept in virtual wallets on the victim’s machine.
“OSX/Miner-D [DevilRobber] also spies on you by taking screen captures and stealing your usernames and passwords,” warned Graham Cluley, a senior technology consultant at antivirus vendor Sophos.
“In addition, it runs a script that copies information to a file called dump.txt regarding truecrypt data, Vidalia (TOR plugin for Firefox), your Safari browsing history and .bash_history,” he added.
So far, the Trojan has been detected in a BitTorrent download for GraphicConverter version 7.4, an image editing application for Mac OS X. However, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t similarly Trojanized torrents out there.
“Clearly, Mac users — like their Windows cousins — should practice safe computing and only download software from official websites and legitimate download services,” Cluley said. He also stressed that Mac users should install an antivirus program, which is not hard to do and costs nothing.
There are several providers of free antivirus solutions for Mac and all of their solutions are more capable than Mac OS X’s default anti-malware defense mechanism, which some Trojans already bypass or even disable.
The latest patch from Microsoft Security Essentials and other Mac AV providers will detect this DevilRobber. I suggest you go one step further and use ESET NOD32.
Bitcoin is a form of virtual cash that can be exchanged by users without the need for an intermediary bank or payment service. Bitcoins are actually cryptographic hashes that get generated piece by piece using specialized programs like DiabloMiner, according to a public algorithm.
Bitcoin is a decentralized, highly controversial virtual currency that was formed by programmers in 2009. The currency is generated by programming computers to calculate highly complex math problems; the more computing power you have, the faster you can create Bitcoins. This is why Bitcoin rigs often look like massive sculptures of connected servers.
Ideally, Bitcoin resolves issues inherent in traditional currencies, like double-spending, inflation, corruption, and inept monetary authorities. But in reality, the effort is being undermined by security issues like exchange breaches, account theft, and pure FUD.
In the past we’ve also heard of Twitter-based Bitcoin bots and months ago, Symantec predicted the spawn of botnets used to mine Bitcoins.
One Bitcoin is currently valued at around US$3.20, and it is a good source of profit for both Bitcoin miners, who legitimately use their computer resources to generate them, and cybercriminals who steal them.
Linux is one of the most secure and stable operating systems around, and yet even with Android devices becoming ubiquitous with 550,000 plus activations daily, you would think that Linux would be more prevalent on the computer desktop. Obviously, on the back end side of the network, Linux servers do support the majority of the web and those services we are normally expect, namely Google, Facebook and a host of others.
However, what about the rest of us? However, if you, like any other Linux user, are disappointed by the current market share stats, we can tell you some simple tips that will help you convince your Windows or Mac-crazy friends into using Linux.
Now, many Linux users have already tried to coax their friends and family members to try out this popular and newbie-friendly distro called Linux Mint. A select few have succeeded and many have failed. So here, we will give you some important tips to help you spread the word about Linux without sounding like that arrogant nerd who has nothing but contempt for Windows or Mac.
Show, don’t tell
Yes, this is the first and the most important thing you need to do if you have to convince a Windows or a Mac user into using Linux. Ubuntu, Linux Mint and many other distros look extremely beautiful, and honestly, the latest version of Ubuntu (Ubuntu 11.10) looks just as good as a Mac. But hey, if you’re just going to just tell that to them do you think they’ll believe you? Even if they do believe you, they’ll still have no idea what Ubuntu or whatever you’re talking about looks like. My suggestion is, you take your own Linux laptop, hand it over to them and let them play around with it. If you’re on Ubuntu I’d recommend opening a new Guest session and handing over the laptop to them. That way, they’ll have a better idea as to how beautiful even an uncustomized desktop looks like. If, at all, it is impossible to show the desktop to your friend, send him or her a YouTube video of the desktop.
Stop telling them Windows is bad, they already know it
For a Linux user trying to convince a Windows user into the light side, there’s always the Windows-bashing that comes in handy. At least that’s what many Linux users think. Windows-bashing is great, everyone curses that dreaded operating system, but there’s no point telling a Windows user about it. I’m pretty sure he or she already knows about it. There must at least be a thousand Windows users cursing Microsoft even as you’re reading this article. But no way are they going to switch to something different. I wrote about why that is yesterday: http://jet-computing.com/linux-deters-computer-viruses/
If they get stuck
Don’t emphasize on the “free” part
Don’t, and I say it again; don’t ever start your pitch with the “free” part. In fact, it would be better if you drop the whole thing out of the conversation. Sometimes, they’re so impressed by Linux that they eventually end up asking you about its cost. Just look at them casually and say “it’s free” and wait for their reaction.
Students! Don’t get scammed for back to school computer shopping. There is only a few days left before returning to school and technology companies are gearing up for one of the most busiest seasons of the year.
Having a laptop is not mandatory for college studies, students often justify the purchase by saying that they need it desperately for school. Several large computer stores that have ‘Back to School’ specials for students, are just in it for the revenue and scamming the customers. These large computer stores want to extract as much money as possible from customers and are willing to go the distance in confusing students and their parents in order to make that extra profit. For example, I was told shamelessly straight to my face when buying a netbook that the company does not make a lot of money from the sale of a laptop and that I should purchase something else.
This is why all associates are forced to upsell and skew the truth. These people tell you that you need a CD created in order for your computer to have a backup. This extra service is only $60. For extra $100 they will setup your computer to be “ready to use”. This is a major scam because anyone can do this setup by themselves with only a few clicks of the mouse when they boot up their system for the first time. I was once told that I can get a recovery disc created by them for only $100, as the laptop I was purchasing did not come with one. When I asked if I could do it, I was told that it wasn’t possible, however I could bring the laptop back later on to do so. When I got home and booted the computer for the first time, it gave me an option to burn a recovery CD which was a breeze to make.
However, even if you do not buy into the “setup your computer” argument the associate will tell you that there are tons of viruses out there that will destroy your precious data and you will have to buy antivirus. Another reason to try Linux Mint.
But don’t worry because its on special for just $80. Another tactic they like to use is to sell you extended warranty that is about $120 to $250. This enables you to bring the computer back to the place you bought it instead of shipping it to the manufacturer. Just a side note: Manufacturers have a great service and will replace your computer for free if its still in warranty and shipping is paid by them. I shipped several laptops back to various manufacturers and the service is very fast, professional and efficient. However, be careful with your data as you could lose everything!
After pressuring you to hand over hundreds of dollars for a laptop or a netbook, they try to sell you optical drives, mice, cases and many other peripherals. Many times I have overheard associates lying to customers about what they need just to sell the extra package so that they can get a bonus/commission or just to get their manager off their backs. Even though associates in these large stores try to be polite and smile to your face, they are scamming you for hundreds of dollars out of your hard earned money just because you are unaware about what you really need. And if that fails, many stores increase the price of the product and try to sell you the whole “better value” package, without having the option to buy the computer without those unnecessary “upgrades”.
Another money waster is when students drag their parents to an Apple store and demand the latest computer hardware for their University studies. Apple computers are very expensive but all that students see is the nice shiny box and the cool factor. Being like everyone else is not cool and PCs are hundreds of dollars cheaper and do the same thing that most Apple laptops do. Save yourself or your parents some cash and get a PC laptop instead. Apple products will not increase your grades and will not make you any cooler either. Better yet, get a decent used laptop and run Linux Mint.
Therefore, this back to school season do some serious research about what you need and don’t need and do not be pressured into buying additional things that you might regret later or realize that it was a waste of your money. Majority of these businesses are making huge profits on the ignorance of many individuals about technology and computers.
A few good examples that you should think about might include:
Do students really need the latest MacBook Pro for $2000 to type essays that can be done on a Netbook or a regular laptop?
Do you need to pay additional $130 for Microsoft Office if LibreOffice is free to download and use?
Do you need a firewall and Antivirus if you are smart about what files to open and follow some simple security rules? Or you can download AVG Free Anti-virus or Avast and many universities provide you with anti-virus for free while you are their student.
Do you need additional warranty for $200 if shipping to a manufacturer is free and can be easily set up online? How long do you expect your laptop to last you?
Do you really need to pay hundreds of dollars for an extended warranty if your netbook costs $350 and it is cheaper to buy a new one than keep fixing an old one in 3 years?
Campuses typically have computer halls brimming with computers for students to use. These typically go unused and are only full during mid-terms and finals. Part of your college tuition grants you access to some of the most cutting-edge technology and research in the world. From journal subscriptions to reference e-books to high-tech computers, you have all kinds of resources to help you with your school work, and won’t have to pay extra for any of it. So utilize it.
Try to see through manipulative associates in big computer stores that try to scam you for hundreds of dollars and make you think that you need every one of the things they offer or your computer will blow up. Play it smart and use the money you save for your books or tuition instead because those things are not getting any cheaper….
They carefully pull out their Apple device. I admire it and then say: “So where do you insert the DVD? How do you bang out a long e-mail on a touch keyboard? Oh, and guess how much less I paid for my little ol’ HP laptop than you did for your iPad.”
I recognize that the iPad is thin, light, and easy to travel with, and I understand the advantages of portable entertainment. But if you don’t need the prestige of having the latest-and-greatest tech, I believe you can get all that and much more for much less than the cost of a new tablet. All you have to do is tote around another measly pound or two.
If you’re willing to take a chance on used equipment, you can find slightly older laptops on Craigslist starting at about $200. Granted I do not run Windows on my laptop, but that is a security and costs savings in itself.
Here are the top reasons that I think my used laptop–which I paid about $200 for–crushes your iPad 2, which new, starts at $499 and can run more than $800, depending on the configuration. (Of course, a used iPad 1′s price would be lower; on Craigslist, prices started at around $400 on the day I checked.)
My HP has a CD and DVD player/burner: If you’re into permanently saving photos, music, or movies, or if you’re serious about backing up your hard drive and programs, you probably need to burn discs occasionally. Your relatives in Indiana need a copy of the video of cousin Paul’s drum recital, or they’d love to look at a CD containing pictures taken during your night trip to Alcatraz. You can’t cram everything onto Facebook.
It has a physical keyboard: Most iPad users readily admit typing data-intensive text on their tablet’s touch keyboard is difficult. I’ll go further: I detest typing on a touch keyboard. As PCWorld reviewer Jon L. Jacobi sarcastically puts it: “Overpriced pads: Touchscreens without keyboards. How innovative.” Flimsy, add-on keyboards don’t cut it. Give me a solid, built-in board like the one on my HP. It’s one of the best laptop keyboards ever, and I still like the old-school Trackpoint eraserhead cursor control.
It has lots more storage space: If you want to download and store tons of decent-quality movies, TV shows, videos, music, PowerPoint presentations, PDFs, and the like, the iPad 2′s maximum 64GB of storage falls short. Even the 250GB of storage on a decent laptop fills up faster than you might expect. (I do grant you that you can easily back up almost anything to external storage or to a cloud-based service.)
It has useful and versatile ports: No USB port on an iPad? Sure you can buy a pricey adapter, but what if you want to plug in a mouse, digital camera, and/or printer? So much for the iPad’s smooth lines and ease of use. Being able to insert a USB device or a thumbdrive into my laptop is essential to me.
As for Apple’s iPad, here are a few of my least favorite things about it.
The iPad doesn’t support multitasking: As a result, I can’t listen to sports talk radio online, check to see if little Charlie has bitten anyone else’s finger, and type my blog, all at the same time. Such versatility is why I love mobile computers–and it alone will ensure my allegiance to laptops.
It is confined by the limits of iTunes: Jared Newman, a PCWorld blogger, summed it up: “Even if you never sync a single piece of media from a computer to an iPad, you still need iTunes on a PC or Mac to keep the tablet’s software up to date. This needs to change,” he wrote in the Today@PCWorld blog. (For a longer look at the iPad 2′s limitations, check Jared Newman’s list of 5 Disappointments With Apple iPad 2.)
Its battery isn’t replacable: I know the iPad has respectable battery life, but if you ever have to work on a long plane ride and in a café with no available power outlets, you need excellent battery life and a back-up cell that is easy to install. This isn’t possible on either model of iPad. As on all other Apple mobile devices, the battery is sealed and nonreplaceable.
I’ve yet to see someone use an iPad other than as a fancy e-reader that’s hard to type on, a giant ipod, etc. In other words, yet to see someone other than a sucker who’s got nothing better to do.
‘A fool and his money are soon parted’
As we roll into the 21st century, everyone is scrambling for iPADs and Tablet PC’s with touch screen interfaces. They create a new vertical market of personal and business computing, that compliment netbook and laptop computers. But what about desktop computers? The design and size have not changed greatly in the past fifteen years. This should change in the coming years as Keyboard PC’s become more evident to consumers.
The prices are very reasonable for a starting at $50 and topping out at $600. I think $600 is a bit much, but thats my opinion and I am a frugal computer user these days. Two models mention the following specifications:
- Intel Atom N270, the EeeKeyboard gets 1GB of RAM and 16GB SSD. It has a 5-inch LED-backlit multitouch LCD display, integrated keyboard, VGA out and HDMI out. Bluetooth and WiFi 802.11b/g are supported.
- Intel’s Atom 1.6GHz processor and NVIDIA Ion graphics, the Cross PC has 2GB of memory and a 250GB hard drive. The U510 comes with a 5-inch touchscreen display and a stylus. It supports WIFI 802.11n connectivity.
Here are some images for review:
Not everyone needs a 1GB video card, or a i7 quad-core CPU with copious amount of memory to browse the web, read email, skim through Facebook, or run iTunes. Now that I think about, one doesn’t even need Windows for that, but I digress.
Computer prices for consumers have readily come down and will continue to fall. In time, your computer (digital appliance) will be as ubiquitous as the microwave or toaster.
Later in the week, I will write about surface computing devices running Ubuntu and integrated surface computing for the desktop, tabletop, wall or countertop of your home.
Global communications leader Broadcom Corporation follows its move to open source 802.11 chipset drivers with increased open development
SAN FRANCISCO, January 10, 2011 — The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the growth of Linux, today announced that Broadcom Corporation is its newest member.
In September, Broadcom® announced it had open sourced its drivers for selected Wi-Fi chipsets, a pivotal move that garnered applause throughout the Linux community. Since then, the driver has been integrated into the latest Linux kernel release 2.6.37 and, as a result, is actively being improved upon by the entire Linux community. Given its portfolio of semiconductors for wired and wireless communications, Broadcom is an important addition to The Linux Foundation.
Broadcom is looking to extend its open development and collaboration with the Linux community by joining The Linux Foundation and continuing its work with the Linux Driver Project. It plans to participate in The Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit, where it can work directly with community developers, as well as other industry players and suppliers.
“There is no question: Linux has become a major platform for communications devices and technologies,” said Michael Hurlston, Senior Vice President & General Manager, Broadcom’s WLAN line of business. “Our decision to open source the drivers for Broadcom’s 802.11 chipsets is in response to our growing base of customers using Linux and is the first of what we expect to be many open development success stories.”
Better late than never. The driver will get reworked from Linux developers and all will be well. A very big category of devices now works out of the box (e.g. a lot of Dell laptops), which is good news for sure. Used to be if it was wireless and it was labelled ‘broadcom’ the best thing to do with it for Linux was to toss it into the bin. The unfortunate part was that these were among the most popular wireless devices on the planet for consumers which helped contribute massively to Linux being incompatible with many people’s laptops.
“Broadcom understands what almost every major technology company today knows — that collaborative, open development results in benefits that include everything from supported hardware to reduced development costs,” said Amanda McPherson, vice president of marketing and developer programs at The Linux Foundation. “We applaud Broadcom for its recent move to work more closely with the Linux community; their membership in the Linux Foundation speaks volumes of their commitment.”
This is terrific progress and shows how things can be worked out.
About The Linux Foundation
The Linux Foundation is a nonprofit consortium dedicated to fostering the growth of Linux. Founded in 2007, the organization sponsors the work of Linux creator Linus Torvalds and promotes, protects and advances the Linux operating system by marshaling the resources of its members and the open source development community. The Linux Foundation provides a neutral forum for collaboration and education by hosting technical events, including LinuxCon, and generating original Linux research and content that advances the understanding of the Linux platform. Its web properties, including Linux.com, reach approximately two million people per month. The organization also provides extensive Linux training opportunities that feature the Linux kernel community’s leading experts as instructors.
Google in December unveiled a beta version of its Chrome OS notebook, dubbed Cr-48. Google plans to release two, Intel-based Chrome OS notebooks from Acer and Samsung in mid-2011, with Verizon Wireless providing cellular connectivity. No pricing information was released for the upcoming Acer and Samsung devices; Google said its partners will hold their own launch events in the future with more details. Google has announced that it has partnered with Verizon Wireless to provide 3G wide area network (WAN) coverage on every Chrome OS device. Each device will receive 100MB of data for free each month for two years. The Cr-48 has a 1.6 GHz Atom – 64-bit instruction set and hyperthreading but no virtualization bits. Rumors are that the production units will be true dual-core, not hyperthreaded. A machine like that can run a lot more than a browser!
My prediction on pricing will be under $100 and probably about $50.
The reason is that Google can come in below the price of the Amazon Kindle and under the price of many netbooks and most Android tablet PCs.
I think Google will subsidize its hardware partners because it is a thin browser that looks in Google search and advertising. If they can make $10 per month, then a $50 subsidy makes sense.
Google will be able to do the locking of search and browser because it is a dedicated device for that purpose and not like Microsoft Internet Explorer was a locking after the fact to a monopoly OS.
You will be buying a locked in situation and you will know that from the get-go to devices that start with no market share.
Why is there Google Android devices and Google Chrome devices
There are two because they serve different purposes. Google Android is a thicker and more flexible and more open software which is to compete with Apple iPhone and Tablets by using many hardware and software partners.
Google Chrome can go thinner, more closed, better security, less to hack but able to deliver to Google search and advertising domination. Chrome can also require more leverage of the Google cloud solutions (Gmail, Google Docs etc…)
Google can then subsidize based on estimate of the per seat revenue they expect each month or year from another person just playing with Google’s stack.
I think Google will not go totally free right away because there will be need to ramp up production and to not have it perceived a free and disposable.
Cheap Google Chrome OS notebooks could also eventually compete for the $10-20 netbooks for the developing world.
Lauded as a security feature, Intel’s new Sandy Bridge processor can be remotely disabled by a hardware/software combination known at Anti-Theft 3.0. Systems can be disabled over 3G networks, even while the OS is not running. Even when the hard drive is replaced, the critical systems will still be terminated.
At first this sounds great: if an owner loses a laptop it can be remotely disabled to ensure no sensitive data is compromised. But essentially we are giving up control of our computers and putting that control in another’s hands.
Sandy Bridge is the code name for Intel’s microprocessor architecture and is the successor to Nehalem. Allen said although Sandy Bridge is now shipping to Intel’s distribution and original equipment manufacturer partners, Intel Premier partners are the only ones that may purchase it in advance of the general release date, which is scheduled to coincide with CES.
“This is our first microprocessor where we have one billion transistors on a single CPU like this,” Allen said. “Now we’ve built in more thermal capabilities and performance enhancements. With Sandy Bridge, we’ll still have the naming conventions for Core i3, Corei5 and Core i7.”
Among the new performance capabilities are improved integrated graphics, faster processing and better security and trust features designed to keep the computing environment more secure.
With Intel anti-theft technology built into Sandy Bridge, Allen said users can set it up so that if their laptop gets lost or stolen, it can be shut down remotely. The microprocessor also comes with enhanced recovery and patching capabilities.
Intel’s Sandy Bridge architecture can also be used to help businesses create smarter data centres, Allen said. In Canada, this is especially meaningful for small businesses because they’re typically more aggressive at utilizing cloud services than larger organizations are, he added.
“As we go forward into 2011, Sandy Bridge will deliver the security, connectivity and performance options that businesses need and we’ll rely on our channel to help deliver this to the SMB market.”
In addition to Sandy Bridge, Allen said Intel’s other computing solutions present many market opportunities for partners.
“Our view is to drive the interoperability and seamless connectivity of personal computing experiences across a continuum so it all works together on Intel architecture,” Allen said. “We’ve evolved from being a chip company to a computing solutions company with platforms, software and services.”
A thief isn’t going to care about a kill switch. All a thief wants is the hard disk and all he needs is a screwdriver. For those who want to protect their computers from thieves, the ability to remotely disable them sounds great. We’re not sure the CPU is the component that should be targeted though. While a given stolen netbook, laptop, or desktop can no longer be turned on if Intel’s new kill switch is flipped, there’s nothing stopping the thief from taking out the HDD and putting it in another computer. As a result, you’ve only slightly slowed the criminal down and haven’t really managed to ensure your sensitive data is protected. Most consumers will be fooled into thinking their data is protected by a processor kill switch.
All in all, it’s a terrible idea, and I know where Intel got the idea. Microsoft stated that they might work on a feature for Windows that would disallow a computer access to the internet if it was suspected to have a virus installed on it and lets not forget that MAC’s use the Intel processor now.
Also, lets not forget about the hacker that finds a security flaw in the system used to send the kill signals, and goes on a rampage disabling as many computers as they can (which fate will ensure will be the vast majority that have been sold with these processors at the least, and after thousands/millions of them have been sold and are in average users’ desktops/laptops).
Trying to remove my malware? DOOM on you!……….ZAAPP!!! Sandy Bridge processors will be several accidents waiting to happen.
I have a included a listing of processors due to be out in 2011 with this technology.