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Yahoo Kids, Deals, More Getting the Boot
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Yahoo chief Marissa Mayer is taking a page from her former employer with a little spring cleaning that will see the demise of several aging Yahoo products.

Yahoo will be shutting down products like Yahoo Deals, Yahoo SMS Alerts, Yahoo Kids and older versions of Yahoo Mail. Most will be gone as of April 30, but Yahoo Mail has until June 3.

"We want to bring you experiences that inspire and entertain you every day. That means taking a hard look at all of our products to make sure they are still central to your daily habits," Yahoo said in ablog post. "As part of that ongoing effort, today we are shutting down a few more products. We realize that change is hard, but by making tough decisions like these we can focus our energy on building beautiful products for you like the two we introduced this week - Yahoo Mail for iPad and Android tablets and Yahoo Weather for iPhone."

First on the chopping block is Yahoo Deals, which got a revamp back in 2009. After April 30, saved coupons will no longer be available on Yahoo Deals. If you want your coupon information for some reason, you'll have to copy and paste it into a separate document before then, Yahoo said. Local guide Upcoming, meanwhile, is also done.

The company is also shuttering Yahoo SMS Alerts, and encouraging users to instead download its apps: Yahoo News, Yahoo Weather, Yahoo Sports, and Yahoo Finance. You'll have to access horoscopes via the mobile Web, Yahoo said. There's also the option to get alerts via email or Yahoo Messenger.

Meanwhile, the Yahoo Messenger and Mail apps for features phones "are going away," Yahoo said, but both services will also be available on the mobile Web.

Yahoo Kids (or Yahooligans) is also getting the boot on April 30. The company suggested that parents instead sign up kids for a Yahoo Family Account.

Starting June 3, meanwhile, Yahoo Mail Classic and other versions of the Web-based mail services will no longer be available.

"Those of you using these older versions of Yahoo Mail can switch to the new Yahoo Mail, which is fast and easier-to-use," Yahoo said. "If you're on dial-up or an older browser, we'll move you to an HTML only/basic version of the new Yahoo Mail."

Yahoo will be sending an email with more details as the shut-down date approaches.

Source: PC Mag,2817,2417977,00.asp

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OS X Lion Flaw Exposes Login Passwords in Plain Text
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An Apple programmer has accidentally left a debug flag in the most recent version of OS X Lion, which under certain conditions can cause login passwords to appear in a plain text debug log file, reports ZDNet.

The flaw affects users who have used Apple’s encryption software FileVault prior to upgrading to 10.7.3, while FileVault 2 is unaffected.

To make matters worse, Apple has not issued a fix for the matter, so changing your user credentials right now does not help, as those credentials might end up in a debug log file as well.


The flaw, which was originally spotted by a security researcher David Emery, potentially enables anyone with an admin password to retrieve other user’s credentials.

“This is worse than it seems, since the log in question can also be read by booting the machine into firewire disk mode and reading it by opening the drive as a disk or by booting the new-with-LION recovery partition and using the available superuser shell to mount the main file system partition and read the file. This would allow someone to break into encrypted partitions on machines they did not have any idea of any login passwords for,” claims Emery.

We’ll let you know as soon as Apple issues a fix for this problem.

Source: Mashable

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Malicious QR Codes: A Mobile Security Blind Spot
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It's hard to read in-store signage, magazine, or newspaper advertisements or product brochures these days without seeing a quick response Code (QR Code) -- the blocky, square two-dimensional barcodes that let smartphone users quickly jump to a Web address by simply taking a photo of the code block.

The codes have proved to be popular with marketers, even if they are not well understood by many mobile users: a recent survey by analyst firm Russell Herder suggested that more than half of all respondents -- including more than 80 per cent of respondents in the 18-24 bracket -- had seen QR codes, while around 16 per cent of all respondents had actually scanned one.

Tellingly, however, one out of five respondents had no idea what a QR code is. That's around the same percentage -- 22 per cent -- of Fortune 50 companies that are experimenting with QR codes in their marketing, and not entirely without success: a separate study by Comscore suggested that 14 million U.S. residents scanned QR codes in June 2011 alone.

While marketers wrestle with building demand for the codes, consumers may unwittingly be wrestling with something far more threatening: what if that barcode led your smartphone to a malware-infected Web site? And what if that malware was optimized to target Apple's iOS, Google's Android, or other mobile operating systems with a Trojan that would run in the background and send passwords to its masters?

QR Readers at Risk

It's an entirely possible scenario, says Scott McKinnel, Australia-New Zealand managing director with Check Point Software Technologies. "There's a body of evidence to say that people writing QR code-reading applications aren't thinking about security," he explains, noting the general lack of encryption in the codes and the threat posed by 'attack tagging' -- printing a QR code with a malicious URL on a sticker and sticking it on top of a legitimate QR code.

Since most QR codes are posted in public places where a replacement sticker is easy to surreptitiously attach -- and since most consumers aren't mentally attuned to question the security of QR codes they scan -- this kind of attack is likely to become more common over time.

"It's a threat and it is real," says McKinnel, noting that an unscrupulous hacker could read the contents of a QR code, then modify the URL with extra elements that incorporate a security exploit. For example, a QR code could facilitate an attack by malware that makes fraudsters money by getting the phone to repeatedly text a premium SMS number at a cost of dollars per message.

"Compared with the kinds of complex attack vectors you see in conventional programming, this kind of attack is not that difficult," he explains. "Inserting or deleting elements -- for example, by adding a command line that would install malware, connect to a remote computer or cause a buffer attack -- would not be that difficult."

Although all smartphone operating systems could be subject to exploits of known vulnerabilities, Android devices have proven more susceptible to malware because of Google's relatively open policies on posting new apps. Google recently addressed this by introducing Bouncer, a feature that automatically scans new apps for malware -- but resourceful hackers have shown remarkable success in bypassing protections to infect Android smartphones and tablets. The addition of QR codes as a new attack vector, McKinnel warns, could only help them further.

Harder to Guard Against

Although conventional mobile security software and URL filtering techniques may go a long way towards stopping mobile users from visiting infected sites, sheer weight of numbers means that most smartphones remain completely vulnerable to new forms of attack. QR code-reading apps could provide a first line of security defence, but few have implemented security-specific capabilities.

While smartphone and tablet security solutions are continuing to evolve, in the short term user education has a major role to play in preventing infections through new attack vectors like QR codes. The problem, McKinnel says, is that most smartphone users would be unaware if their devices have been compromised -- and few take the time to do basic checks on QR codes, such as looking for the telltale edge of a sticker applied over the real code.

Even though many users have learned to think twice before clicking on an emailed URL that may not lead where it says it will, the relative newness of QR codes means most users are unlikely to exercise the same level of caution -- and that makes the codes an extremely open method for attack that may prove able to circumvent normal security controls.

"People tend to take the path of least resistance, and if there's a bargain to be had by visiting a QR code link, they're going to do it," McKinnel explains. "If it's in a legitimate publication and brand, you should be right."

"But if you're having a look at the sticker and don't recognize the brand, or it's on a one-off billboard or something that doesn't feel right, why would you visit that link? This is just another security issue that's adding to the multitude of issues already associated with smartphones. There's another element of a risk that you need to consider when looking at mobile device security -- and ultimately, you just have to use your common sense."

  • See more like this:
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  • wireless security

Source: PCWorld

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Facebook Blacklists Bad URLs, Gives Free Trial of Anti-Virus Software
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Facebook is making sure its 900 million users are protected from malicious URLs in addition to spam, phishing and viruses. The company announced Wednesday that it’s partnering with Microsoft, McAfee, TrendMicro, Sophos, and Symantec to offer its growing user-base more protection.

“Our URL blacklist system, which scans trillions of clicks per day, will now incorporate the malicious URL databases from these security companies to augment our existing level of protection,” the blog post notes. “So whenever you click a link on our site, you benefit not just from Facebook’s existing protections, but the ongoing vigilance of the world’s leading corporations involved in computer security.”

Taking security measures a step further, Facebook also announced the AV Marketplace. Users can download a six-month license for a full version of anti-virus software from one of Facebook’s new partners, free of charge. Facebook reminds users to “like” its Security Page to receive regular updates from these partners about how to keep data safe from online predators.

“We have had a long standing partnership with McAfee and many others in the security community, and the AV Marketplace will offer users more choice and increase the scope of our partnerships,” Fred Wolens, a Facebook spokesperson, wrote in an email to Mashable. “We believe we have a unique opportunity to provide our users with the software and technology to help keep their data safe both on and off of Facebook.”

Facebook privacy and security has always been an issue the site has aimed to address, as millions of people put detailed personal information on the site. Earlier this month it was reported that Homeland Security searches the social network for keywords that might lead them to breaking crime news. Scammers also use Facebook for ploys such as fake sick baby scams.

Source: Mashable

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Google’s Project Glass: One day…
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Good news for those of us with imperfect vision.

We, like everyone else, have a lot of questions about Google's Project Glass. Though Google this month invited people to share feedback based on a video that showed how the product might work, Project Glass is still in development, so we don't know an awful lot about it. Still, it seems the search giant is eager to set the record straight on at least one issue that many people seem to be wondering about, and that is whether or not those who already have glasses will be able to use the Google specs.

Google's Isabelle Olsson today confirmed that it's working on several ideas when it comes to using Project Glass with prescription glasses. Google apparently saw this question regarding compatibility for glasses-wearers more than once following its request for feedback.

"Here's a question I saw a few times: 'I use prescription glasses. Will this work for me?'" Olsson wrote. "We ideally want Project Glass to work for everyone, and we're experimenting with designs that are meant to be extendable to different types of frames," she explained. "Many of our team members wear glasses, too, so it's definitely something we're thinking about."

Olsson posted the photo above to show how the device might work with prescription glasses but it sounds like Google isn't even close to settling on a design for the bespectacled masses. That said, it's nice that the company is thinking of us.

If you missed the April 4 video from Google that shows how Project Glass could be used in everyday life, check it out below.

Google Project Glass

Source: Tom's Guide

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Over 600,000 Macs Infected With Flashback Malware
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Typically when we hear the word "malware" or "trojan," the Windows PC or Android platform come to mind. But now Apple's built-in deflector shield in its Mac OS X platform has proven to be not quite so resistant after all, as Russian antivirus company Dr. Web is now claiming that more that 600,000 Macs -- most of which reside in the States and Canada -- are infected with a trojan horse virus called "Flashback," or rather, "BackDoor.Flashback.39."

Originally the number was 550,000 infected Macs, but the company later tweeted a correction with the current number. The report states that 56.6-percent of the infected computers reside in the United States (303,449 infected hosts), and 19.8-percent reside in Canada (106,379 infected hosts). The United Kingdom follows with 12.8-percent and Australia with 6.1-percent. Other infected Macs reside in France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Mexico, Brazil and many more countries.

274 infections are based in Cupertino, Calif., Apple’s hometown, Dr. Web said.

"Systems get infected with BackDoor.Flashback.39 after a user is redirected to a bogus site from a compromised resource or via a traffic distribution system," the company said on Wednesday. "JavaScript code is used to load a Java-applet containing an exploit. Doctor Web's virus analysts discovered a large number of web-sites containing the code."

"Links to more than four million compromised web-pages could be found on a Google SERP at the end of March. In addition, some posts on Apple user forums described cases of infection by BackDoor.Flashback.39 when visiting," Dr. Web added.

Flashback was originally uncovered by Intego back in September 2011, disguised as an installer application for Adobe Flash. Once it was installed by the end-user, the trojan would deactivate network security features and then install a dyld library that would inject code into running applications. It would also scoop up personal information and send the data to remote servers.

"Each [Flashback] bot includes a unique ID of the infected machine into the query string it sends to a control server. Doctor Web's analysts employed the sinkhole technology to redirect the botnet traffic to their own servers and thus were able to count infected hosts," the antivirus company said.

The Mac-based botnet arrives while Apple pushes the Mac OS X platform as a more secure environment than Windows. "A Mac isn’t susceptible to the thousands of viruses plaguing Windows-based computers," states Apple on its homepage. "That’s thanks to built-in defenses in Mac OS X that keep you safe, without any work on your part."

Looks like Apple needs to re-route power to the OS X deflector shield, as alien code is beaming in despite the company's "we've better than Windows" stance.

Source: Tom's Hardware

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HDD Industry Set for Return to Growth This Year
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The destructive Thailand flood caused HDD shipments to decline by 4.5 percent in 2011 year-over-year, but 2012 is expected to bring 7.7 percent unit growth. IDC forecasts an average annual growth rate of 9.6 percent between 2011 and 2016.

"In many respects, the hard disk drive industry has collectively hit the 'reset' button," said John Rydning, an IDC research vice president in a prepared statement. "A reset of the HDD industry structure should allow for the remaining HDD industry participants to slowly reduce HDD prices from current levels at a rate that still delivers value to customers, while at the same time ensuring sufficient funding is available to develop new HDD technologies that are needed to improve HDD capacity, performance, reliability, power consumption, and security."

Long-term growth, however, will only be possible if the major HDD manufacturers will be able to evolve into storage device and storage solution suppliers that address more markets than they do now. IDC believes that client PC HDD revenue will substantially decline over the next few years, while HDD demand from personal storage, entry-level storage, and enterprise applications (combined) is predicted to increase. The market research firm said that enterprises will make up the lion's share of sales down the road.

The company also noted that the cost of SSDs is not yet at a level where these devices can be easily justified for integration in an average PC. The opportunity for HDD makers is to convince PC vendors that hybrid HDDs are the more cost effective solution over SSDs, IDC said.

Source: Tom's Hardware


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Thai floods lead to hard drive shortage
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(Reuters) - A looming shortage of hard drives caused by floods in Thailand threatens to disrupt computer manufacturers as soon as December and hurt tech giants like Intel (INTC.O), Apple (AAPL.O) and Dell (DELL.O).

Thailand is the No. 2 maker of hard drives, used in laptops, servers and TV set-top boxes, and damage caused by flooding across the region could keep factories closed or hobbled for months, analysts and executives say.

World output of hard drives could fall as much as 30 percent in the final three months of 2011 and manufacturers that need them are now scrambling to snap up existing inventories, according to market research firm IHS iSuppli.

Leading chipmaker Intel said on Friday it was keeping an eye on a "dynamic" situation but expects existing stores of drives and unaffected sources to help keep the PC industry supplied. If manufacturers build fewer PCs, Intel sells fewer processors.

"The PC supply chain has proven to be very resilient, as most recently demonstrated in the response to the earthquake in Japan," Intel spokesman Jon Carvill said.

Top hard drive makers Western Digital (WDC.N) and Seagate (STX.O) both have factories in Thailand, where flooding has killed at least 320 people since July and devastated industrialized areas in the center of the country.

Western Digital's factories are closed and Seagate, while its plants are running, warns it could face parts shortages.

Apple chief executive Steve Cook this week told analysts on a conference call he expects an industry shortage of disk drives.


Intel on Tuesday said the flooding would not affect the PC market in the fourth quarter.

Since then, details about the damage to Western Digital's factories in Thailand have caused some analysts to believe a shortage of hard drives could start interfering with PC production in December.

"There's a major disconnect here. We don't see how they can not be affected and we're recommending investors avoid Intel at these levels," said Brad Gastwirth, co-founder of ABR Investment Strategy, an independent research firm.

Western Digital said Thailand accounts for 60 percent of drive production. Its customers have about two weeks of inventory on hand and distributors have around four weeks of supplies.

As those inventories get used up, the supply of hard drives may be about 10 percent less than demand for the December quarter, estimated Rodman & Renshaw analyst Ashok Kumar.

With production in Thailand likely to be constrained for several weeks, customers will face larger shortages in early 2012, IHS iSuppli analyst Fang Zhang said.

No. 2 PC maker Dell said the flood would have little impact on its quarter ending this month but did not say how it expected to be impacted beyond then.

A Hewlett-Packard (HPQ.N) spokesman declined to comment.

(Reporting by Noel Randewich, additional reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in New York; Editing by Bob Burgdorfer)

Source: Reuters

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How To Automatically Keep Your Data Safe
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When most people drop off a PC in our shop for repair, they are worried about losing their data. In almost all cases we are able to fix the computer without data loss, but when hard drive failure has occurred we typically cannot do anything for you. Yes, there are companies that can possibly help by doing some hi-tech surgery for a couple thousand dollars, but you shouldn't have to go through that. I'm sure you are already aware that you can burn data to CD/DVD's or copy to an external hard drive, but we found that people don't do it frequently enough. Here are a few ways you can keep data safe automatically:

Dropbox: I keep all of my most important documents in my dropbox. All of my job quotes, business documents, notes and even QuickBooks data are backed up automatically to my secure online portal by this little application. Once you sign up (for free) and install dropbox, you will find a new folder named "My Dropbox" within your My Documents folder. Simply start saving files there and they are instantly backed up! You can view your files online by visiting, or even install an application on your iPhone, BlackBerry or Android phone. I have dropbox installed on my personal laptop and work PC which allows me to place a file in the work PC's dropbox and have it automatically show up on the laptop. You get 2GB for free, which is plenty for a lot of people, but if you'd like to place pictures & music in there you may want to upgrade to there 50GB or 100GB plan for $9.99 and 19.99 per month respectively. I highly recommend taking 2 minutes to watch the video below which will explain it much better than I can.

So follow this link (or visit to sign up! You'll be glad you did.

Acronis True Image: This $50 application (for the home version) will probably save your butt one day. It can be configured to backup your entire PC on a schedule to an external hard drive or network resource. It can even e-mail you a report letting you know if it succeeded or not. I have it configured on my company server to backup every day at midnight. In the event of a hard drive failure, I could restore the full backup to a new hard drive and be up and running from the point of my latest backup in less than an hour. Without Acronis, I would be stuck re-installing the operating system, software, doing windows updates and restoring data and could be down for more than half the day. I really don't worry about a crash because of this software. It's great for home use, and highly recommended for businesses users. The latest version offers a non-stop backup feature and a paid online backup method worth looking into. Here is a youtube video reviewing it:

Check it out over at

Windows 7 Backup: The built in backup feature of Windows 7 is pretty awesome. It's similar to Acronis, but lacks a few features. It does create full system images that can save you a ton of time after hard drive failure. You can also choose to just backup your most crucial files and folders. The biggest complaint I have with the Windows 7 backup is the inability to e-mail a log after completion. This means that you'd have to manually check the status of your last backup by opening the application. Having a message waiting for me in my inbox saying "Successfully Backed Up" or "Backup Failure" is a very nice feature of Acronis and I hope Windows Backup incorporates it in the future. You also can't backup to a network location unless you have Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate. If you have Windows 7 and want to give it a shot, then open it up and give it a whirl! The quickest way to find it is to click on your start menu and type "Backup" in the text field at the bottom labeled "Search programs and files". An application named "Backup and Restore" should appear at the top of the start menu, give it a click. Once opened it will walk you through the backup process.

These are just a few examples of free/low cost solutions for keeping your data safe. The best thing you can do is keep duplicates of your most important files. I find that a lot of people will move (instead of copy) all of their files to an external hard drive only to have that drive fail one day. The smart thing would be to keep those files on your PC and a duplicate of them on the external. This can be done manually, or with an application like Windows 7 Backup and Acronis. Using dropbox will automatically place the duplicate file on the internet and on another PC if you want. We hate telling people that their data is gone forever. Please take the time to help yourself and one day when you're computer breaks you can rest assured that you didn't lose those important files.

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