Mark Wilson

What's so different about Paris? Facebook reveals why it enabled Safety Check after French attacks


The shootings and suicide bombings in France this week grabbed the attention of the global media. To help those caught up in the aftermath to let loved ones know that they were OK -- and to enable others to check on friends and relatives in France -- Facebook enabled its Safety Check feature for the disaster.

While this was welcomed, it also raised questions. Why had this not been done for other such disasters? Why were shootings in other countries treated differently? What was so special about France that it warranted extra attention from Facebook? Were the lives lost in other atrocities seen as less important? Facebook's Alex Schultz has stepped up to the plate to answer these concerns.

Continue reading

FCC says it's legal to hack your router


Router hacking is a geek staple. No computer geek worth his or her salt would consider running vanilla firmware -- the likes of Tomato are where it's at. A little while back, the FCC suggested plans to ban such hacking via open source firmware... or at least that's how it seemed.

The commission has now acknowledged that there was more than a little confusion from people who believed that manufacturers would be encouraged to prevent router modifications. The FCC wants to make it clear that most router hacking is fine and will remain fine. With a few exceptions, that is.

Continue reading

Zune is dead

Zune Logo

The writing has been on the wall for some time now, but Microsoft has today officially killed Zune. After nine years, the music service is no more, driven to the grave by the competition.

Zune players just never managed to fight off the iPod, and with smartphones taking on the role of music player in addition to everything else, it didn’t take long for Microsoft's player to become surplus to requirements. Microsoft is not learning from history, though; the company continues to try its hand at music with Groove.

Continue reading

Has Windows 10 November Update (Threshold 2) reset your privacy settings and default apps?


Windows 10 has caused greater privacy concerns than any previous version of the operating system. You may well have spent some time tweaking settings so that you are in control of your privacy and limit the tracking that Windows 10 is able to do, but if you have installed the latest big update you may well have to do it all again.

In addition to resetting their privacy settings to their defaults, many people have reported that installing Windows 10's November Update has wiped out any personalization of default apps. This is just the latest in a series of slip-ups which sees Microsoft upsetting Windows 10 users. So how do you know if your settings have been changed?

Continue reading

Microsoft details four commitments to help rebuild trust in the cloud


In a lengthy, rambling blog post, Microsoft President Brad Smith explains how what has happened in relation to security over the past year is shaping the company's attitude to the cloud.  He says that "it's time to rebuild the world's faith in the technology that empowers us all".

He takes a while to get to the point, meandering slowly around anecdotes about Windows 10, Edward Snowden, terrorist attacks in Paris, hacking, and governmental desires to weaken encryption. He says that these and other events "show it's crucial to have a conversation about worldwide information security".

Continue reading

Firefox users are stuck with unremoveable Pocket... for now at least


Earlier in the year Mozilla took the decision to build Pocket into Firefox. Previously available as an add-on, the 'read it later' tool was transformed into an integral part of the browser. While this was a move welcomed by some users, others are concerned about the privacy implications.

There are also concerns that having Pocket built in unnecessarily bloats Mozilla's code, but it looks as though it is here to stay. Speaking to Venture Beat, director of engineering for the browser said "there are currently no plans to offer a version of Firefox that doesn’t include Pocket".

Continue reading

Delete the Scan With Windows Defender content menu entry from Windows 10 (Threshold 2)


If you've installed the November Update for Windows 10 (or Threshold 2 if you prefer) there are a number of changes for the better to enjoy. But there are some changes that you might not be happy with, and the arrival of a new Scan With Windows Defender entry in context menu is something that is likely to grate with many people.

It might be that you have no intention of using Windows Defender, or your context menu may have become unwieldy and need a little trimming. Either way, a quick registry hack is all that's needed to banish the unwanted option. Here's what to do.

Continue reading

Google extends Chrome's Safe Browsing protection to fight social engineering


Online attacks take a number of forms, and phishing is one of the more recent problems. Chrome has long featured Safe Browsing to notify people when they visit potentially dangerous websites, and today Google announces that the feature is growing to include social engineering.

Google describes social engineering as being a much broader category than traditional phishing. Typical examples include sites that trick visitors into imparting passwords or credit card details, and those which purport to be an official website when they are in fact malicious. The Safe Browsing expansion offers protection against a range of social engineering attacks that Google provides examples of.

Continue reading

Microsoft launches Office Insider giving access to preview builds of Office 2016


With Windows 10, Microsoft's Windows Insider program proved immensely popular. The chance to try out new features ahead of an official launch gave millions of people an insight into the development process and provided an opportunity to give feedback and influence the future of the operating system.

Today Microsoft is giving Office the same treatment. With the launch of the Office Insider program, Office 365 subscribers are being given the chance to try out upcoming releases of Office 2016.

Continue reading

It is your duty to use an ad blocker, says Edward Snowden


Ad blocking tools are rarely out of the news these days. In times of heightened awareness about online privacy, more and more people are turning to things like Adblock Plus to banish ads and clean up their web browsing experience. For many people an ad blocker is seen as essential.

Edward Snowden goes further. The former NSA contractor says that it is a web user's duty to protect their computer by blocking potential attack vectors such as Flash and JavaScript-riddled advertisements.

Continue reading

How to avoid online surveillance -- the essential guide


It would appear that mass surveillance of the Internet is here to stay. We can rage against the machine, but ultimately we're powerless to stop the likes of the NSA and GCHQ prying into whatever they want to pry into. More and more people are turning to the dark web to help cover their tracks, but even the supposedly anonymous haven of Tor can be cracked for a price.

Last week in the UK, the draft Investigatory Powers Bill was published outlining proposals for ISPs to retain user's browsing histories for a full year. Governments want to weaken encryption. The FCC ruled that Do Not Track requests are essentially meaningless. The NSA finds and takes advantage of vulnerabilities. It's little wonder that privacy groups are up in arms -- the erosion of online rights continues with terrifying speed. But all is not lost. There are still things you can do to help maintain your privacy. If you're concerned, here's what you can do.

Continue reading

Gmail to issue warnings about emails sent without encryption

Gmail app running on Google Nexus 5

Google, like many other companies, is pushing people towards using secure internet connections. HTTPS is becoming the norm, but not everyone has caught on. To keep the security-conscious informed, Gmail is set to issue warnings about emails that are received through unsecure connections that do not use encryption.

A joint study involving Google, University of Michigan and the University of Illinois found that email is "more secure today than it was two years ago", with an increase in the number of encrypted emails sent. That said, there are still plenty of people who are not using secure connections and Google is keen to keep its users informed when they receive communication through unencrypted channels.

Continue reading

The price of de-anonymization -- FBI paid $1m to Carnegie Mellon to crack Tor


Tor has long been thought of as offering a level of privacy, security and anonymity that enables people to do whatever they want online; it also facilitates access to the so-called Dark Web. Despite this, law enforcement agencies were able to crack Tor and identify a Silk Road 2.0 user. Now it seems that the FBI was helped out by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University.

It was previously known that the FBI tracked down Brian Richard Farrrell using information from a "university-based research institute". The Tor Project itself believes that the FBI paid researchers at the university at least $1 million to attack the network and gather data from Tor relays that could be analyzed and used to identify users' IP addresses.

Continue reading

Time to ditch your phone -- Android Wear now has cellular support


Not long ago LG announced the LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition -- the first Android Wear smartwatch that offers LTE/3G connectivity. Now Google has officially announced Android Wear's cellular support.

Breaking down one of the barriers to wearable adoption -- the previous reliance on smartphones for a lot of functionality -- the arrival of cellular support means your smartwatch can be used to make and receive calls even when you don’t have your phone with you.

Continue reading

Facebook is receiving more government data requests than ever before


The time has rolled around once again for Facebook to release its twice-yearly report about government data requests. It will perhaps come as little surprise that in the current atmosphere of surveillance and privacy concerns that in the first half of 2015 Facebook received more government data requests than ever before.

The latest figures show that the number of data requests has jumped by 18 percent to 41,214. There was also a massive increase in the number of pieces of content that were taken down or 'restricted' for violating local laws -- a rise of 112 percent. Facebook reiterated previous assertions that it does not provide backdoor access to governments, and reveals that the US is by far the leading requester of data.

Continue reading

Mark's Latest Tweets

© 1998-2015 BetaNews, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy.