Tag: windows

McAfee security has become spyware

spyMcAfee software which comes bundled with some PCs seems to be converting itself to spyware to help serve up advertising and could be used as a geolocation tool.

Help Net Security wrote that  seven laptops, the Lenovo Flex 3, Lenovo G50-80 (UK version), HP Envy, HP Stream x360 (Microsoft Signature Edition), HP Stream (UK version), Acer Aspire F15 (UK version), and Dell Inspiron 14 (Canadian version) were tested by the security research team of Duo Security.

Duo sniffed the traffic sent from and to them once they have been taken out of the box, plugged in, and connected to a network.

“Within the first few packets on all seven laptops, there were issues. It took awhile to figure them out, as much of the traffic was encrypted and one had to go by server hostname or calling program name, or by reverse-engineering the calling code to find out what was going on,” they pointed out.

It found several security issues which should have been fixed last year and some of the Windows 10 security settings were being reset to their “phone home” defaults.  But that was not the worst thing.

The McAfee software was using web beacons that can be used to track and serve advertising to users and to track users.

Basically to fix the problems is to turn off all privacy settings, make some registry settings adjustments, and turn off some services. You have to do this each time you patch your PC, the researchers advised. Of course removing McAfee, setting up Windows Defender, and adjusting firewalls to stop the transmission of data is probably better.

Brazilian coders create platform friendly malware

brazilBrazilians are a friendly bunch and now its hackers are starting to design malware on Java JAR files which can play nicely on all three major platforms, Mac, Linux, and Windows.

Virus vendor Kaspersky has spotted a few families of Java executables in the wild which don’t really care what operating system you use.

By packing malware as a JAR file, crooks are practically making sure their content will be executed on all targets, regardless of operating system.

True the Java engine needs to be installed on each victim’s computer for the malware to run, but given it is installed on 70-80 percent of computers that is pretty much a no-brainer.

According to Kaspersky, Brazil’s criminal underground seems to be the first one that has taken this step. At the moment they are running spam campaigns and banking trojans.

Right now, infections with these three malware families that use JAR files are popping up mainly in Brazil, but a large number of victims was also recorded in China and Germany, where Kaspersky says that local cyber-crime gangs are also experimenting with the same JAR-packing techniques.

Microsoft ends support for Windows 8

1942584Software King of the World Microsoft is ending mainstream support for its Windows 8 operating system.

Vole killed off support for Windows 7 at this time last year and now Windows 8’s security updates will be coming to an end on the 12th of January, 2016.

This might seem a little strange as Windows 8 was only released in 2012, and Vole normally gives you a decade of support before killing it off.  But this is more to do with the fact that Windows 8.1 is such a different beastie from Windows 8 that Microsoft is seeing them as different operating systems.

Given that Windows 8 was pretty pants, most users will have given up on it and upgraded anyway. Those who have not will not get support. If users upgrade to Windows 8.1 or even Windows 10, that support will be extended to 2023.

In addition to ending security updates for Windows 8, just last week Microsoft also announced that they will be ending support for older builds of Internet Explorer, namely versions 8, 9, and 10 which all come to an end also on the 12 January.

US right wades into communist Windows

gatesA US conservative news site has waded into Windows for being as communist as Marx.

Breitbard.com is the right wing organ of Andrew Breitbart  and the article was penned by the former Toryograph journalists Milo Yiannopoulos. He is the hack who came out in support of the sexist Gamergate campaign calling the other side “an army of sociopathic feminist programmers and campaigners, abetted by achingly politically correct American tech blogger”.

Yiannopoulos claims that Windows 10 is alien to conservative values and “should make every patriotic American of sound mind and sound values think twice”.

According to Yiannopoulos, HP and Dell would love to offer Windows 7 machines, and their customers would love to buy them, but Microsoft “isn’t a big fan of conservative’s beloved free market approach”.

Obviously he does not like the idea that Microsoft is collecting information. After all no true conservative would choose to trust Microsoft.  Yiannopoulos concludes that Windows 10 contains built in communism.

Windows 10 has a standard feature that employs a peer-to-peer scheme to share updates across users. It borrows your processing power and network bandwidth to assist when updates are released.

“Why is one of the largest software companies on earth designing their software update process around Karl Marx’s command to take “from each according to their means, to each according to their needs?” Like several of the features in this article, it can be turned off, but think of your wives, husbands, and parents; how many of them would ever tinker with their OS settings?” he moaned.

Another sign that Windows 10 is part of a communist plot is that social media friends are able to sign into your network anytime they are in range, without your permission.

“Conservatives by nature have large and diverse groups of friends. Why would Microsoft arbitrarily decide that we trust all of our friends enough to let them into our private networks automatically?”

He insists that this is Hillary Clinton’s “It takes a village” style thinking.

“I value my private property, including my network. It’s why I have my Wi-Fi network locked down and a front door on my house,” he railed.

Then it appears that something happened to Yiannopoulos’s rant mode which suddenly shifts from the subject to a general attack against anyone who does not really believe in the daftness peddled by the US Neo-cons.

According to Yiannopoulos “typical progressive authoritarian liberal is using his laptop to write an autobiography about how mommy and daddy were mean to him” while “Conservatives are using computers to better their situations.”

Getting back to Windows 10, apparently that means that Windows 10 is for these lily livered liberals because there are numerous bugs such as hard to find apps, disappearing menu text, hanging browsers, and a litany of other problems.

“It is hard to claim to support free market and free expression principles when your OS fails to perform basic tasks reliably.”

So what is the operating choice for god-fearing, gun loving, jeesus worshiping neo-cons? Apparently it is Windows 7 or… wait for it Yiannopoulos thinks it is time to reclaim the Apple from the hipsters. Quite why a control freak outfit like Apple, who insists on a uniform, provides an alternative religion, censors everything  would appeal to the the fair-right… oh no hang on I get it now.

Apple software exposes Windows PCs to risk

flasherThe fruity cargo
cult Apple has the dubious achievement of beating Oracle and Adobe as the creator of software most likely to stuff up your Windows based PC.

A Secunia Research said that Apple’s multimedia program, QuickTime, and its iTunes software were ranked as some of the most “exposed” programs. To be fair it was not Apple’s fault, although the company could do something to warn users that the software was out-of-date.

More than 61 percent of computers detected running QuickTime did not have the latest version. With iTunes, 47 percent of the installations were outdated versions.

Outdated software can potentially pose a security risk since unpatched vulnerabilities could be used by hackers to take over a computer. Over the last year, 18 vulnerabilities have been found in QuickTime.

In September, Apple posted an advisory warning of several problems in QuickTime versions prior to 7.7.8 for Windows 7 and Vista after it had patched the problems about a month prior.

One of the flaws could be exploited by crafting a malicious file, which “may lead to an unexpected application termination or arbitrary code execution,” Apple said.

The extent of the problem put Apple above Adobe and Oracle as the provider of the exposed software to the masses.

The top five most exposed programs included Adobe Reader X 10.x, Oracle Java JRE 1.8.x/8.x and Adobe Reader XI 11.x.

Huawei to get into the notebook business

William Xu, HuaweiWhile some vendors are getting out of the declining PC notebook business, it appears that Chinese giant Huawei will introduce notebooks next year.

Huawei is already in the X86 server business and this year launched smartphones, which according to analysts, sold really quite well.

Digitimes reports that Huawei will use a Chinese original design manufacturer called BYD, and that company will make so called 2-in-1 Windows 10 notebooks. Xiaomi, a smartphone competitor is using Taiwanese ODM Inventec to make notebooks for it.

Huawei already has a pretty developed channel worldwide, and the move is likely to dent business by Lenovo, HP, Dell, Acer and Asustek.

The move could also lead to lower prices for PC notebooks, as the market develops.

Microsoft slips anti-privacy gear into Windows 7 and 8

Windows 10Not happy with putting in “features” into Windows 10 which many fear might be spying on them, Microsoft has been quietly retro-fitting similar software into Windows 7 and 8.

In April, Microsoft released a non-security update for both Windows 7 and 8. This update, 3022345, created a new Windows service called the Diagnostics Tracking service.

Microsoft told us that it increased the amount of diagnostic data that the Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP) can collect to better diagnose problems. It also collected data for third party applications that use the Application Insights service. Application Insights allows app developers to track performance issues, crashes, and other problems of their applications. The Diagnostics Tracking service collects this data and sends it to Redmond.

Since then Microsoft has updated the service twice. Updates 3068708 and 3080149 installed automatically with the normal Windows Update settings. While another update, 3075249, enhanced the User Account Control (UAC) feature to enable it to collect more information from the elevation prompts.

It is all very Windows 10.  Users don’t know what’s being sent, and it can’t be readily controlled. There is little chance of interception as the traffic is encrypted. Windows Firewall can blocking the traffic and disabling the service is also possible.

However it is unlikely that many will know or do so.  It is not clear why Microsoft is suddenly becoming all obsessive about collecting user data.


Russians terrified by Microsoft snooping

Vladimir Putin - Wikimedia CommonsThe Russian Kingdom of Tsar Putin is bothered by the fact that Windows 10 makes no bones about its snooping prowess.

A top Russian politician, Nikolai Levichev, has written to the country’s Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev, calling for government departments to be banned from using Windows 10.  Normally when stories like this come out of Russia, Putin’s politicians are worried that strong Russian men will become weak homosexuals by using the technology, but in this case it is real concern about Windows 10 phoning Redmond all the time.

Levichev is deputy speaker in the State Duma, the lower house of Russia’s parliament, and leader of “A Just Russia,” the third-largest party there.

All software used by government agencies has to be certified in Russia, and this has not happened yet for Windows 10.  This usually takes six months from the launch of a new product, but since Windows 10 was a free upgrade people installed it.

Levichev also wrote to the head of Roskomnadzor, the Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Telecom, Information Technologies and Mass Communications, asking him to investigate whether Microsoft is in compliance with Russian laws given the way that Windows 10 can gather and transmit personal data.

Two weeks ago, the Russian member of parliament, Vadim Solovyov, asked the country’s attorney general to investigate (translated) whether Windows 10 violates Russian privacy laws. He said that  some of the information gathered by the latest version of the operating system when running on government computers would be classified.

He dubbed Vole’s activities “espionage.” In response, Microsoft said that data was only gathered with the user’s consent.


Intel’s internet of things notion is bonkers

Intel's Gordon Moore and Robert NoyceApparently Intel used the second day of its developer forum to attempt to convince the world and its dog that it knows all about the internet of things (IoT).

Well, it just doesn’t have an earthly or a clue.  INTC is showing every sign of being a has been rather than a here and now company.

Intel was an impressive company but it’s barking up the wrong tree on the IoT front, that’s for certain.

It knows how to put on a good show, and the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) has always been about glitz and glamour after the first few IDFs when you could actually meet and talk to developers.

It’s been a while since that happened. It’s now a PR festival where Intel attempts to not say too much about not very much.

Intel, like Microsoft, has failed to capture the mobile market. The pair believed they could dominate the mobile phone industry like they did the world of PCs, but smartphone vendors just weren’t going to let that happen.

Gartner’s report today shows little sign that Windows for smartphones is making any kind of a dent on Android and Apple iOS. ARM, basically, won the day.

And Intel has come late to the ball with its internet of things notion – other chip manufacturers are way ahead of it and the chip behemoth shows every sign of panic as fewer and fewer people use PCs to access the web.

That’s not to say it’s down and out. Intel is very cash liquid and can stutter on for quite a while longer. But it’s clear from this week’s IDF that Chipzilla has totally run out of ideas and the only way is down, rather than up.

A bit like Microsoft.

Smartphone sales slow worldwide

ANDROIDSales of smartphones across the world have slowed down as the market becomes more saturated.

According to data from Gartner, sales in the second quarter showned the slowest growth since 2013, with 330 million units shipping. That’s up 13.5 percent from the same quarter in 2013.

Where growth has come, its for low cost 3G and 4G smartphones in emerging markets. Smartphone sales in China, however, fell by four percent in the quarter for the first time ever.

Gartner said the Chinese market is now driven by replacement.

Apple’s iPhones continue to challenge Samsung top end phones, with the Korean giant showing a decline of 4.3 percent in market share and 5.3 percent in unit sales.

Huawei surged by 463 percent, while iPhone sales grew by 36 percent in the quarter.

Price wars continue as vendors gear up for new models planned in the second half of this year.

On the operating system front, Android remained the number one driver, but saw its growth fall, followed by Apple’s iOS. Microsoft struggled to sell Windows phones.