Edward Snowden is on the run, living in exile as a means to evade the long arm of US law. The United States seems keen to have him prosecuted for leaking documents that have arguably put national security at risk. He acted in good faith, but has been branded a cyber criminal. Today in the UK, the Queen gave her annual speech -- well, it's really a speech written by the government, but dear Liz reads it out so she gets to call it hers -- and she revealed that cyber criminals could face life sentences for their endeavors, and that existing punishments for digital crimes cold become harsher.
Singled out for particular attention are those "cyberattacks which result in loss of life, serious illness or injury or serious damage to national security, or a significant risk thereof". Those committing such acts could be put behind bars for life. But the proposals do not end there. The aging Computer Misuse Act could be updated, so that criminals that cause "a significant risk of severe economic or environmental damage or social disruption" incur a 14 year term compared to the current 10.
Porn has always been big business, and online porn accounts for a staggering proportion of web traffic. The availability of always-on internet connections in the home, and near blanket use of internet-enabled mobile phones and tablets, means that it is now easier than ever to get a porn fix if you feel the urge. But have you ever wondered how all of this porn is being accessed? Well… wonder no more! Porn site (you don’t say!) PornHub conducted research after Gizmodo expressed an interest in seeing which browsers were most used by consumers of porn, and the figures make for interesting reading.
It perhaps comes as no surprise that desktop browsers prove the most popular. Some 51 percent of Pornhub's traffic comes from people using desktop computers. But, without wanting to put too many unpleasant images in your head, this leaves 49 percent of porn perusal that is enjoyed on mobile phones and tablets. You know, those devices that are easily transported to a quiet room and are rather easier to hold in one hand than a laptop...
Today, Google took the wraps off a new security tool for Chrome users. Currently available as an alpha release, End-To-End is an extension for Google's browser that offers... well... end-to-end encryption for data arriving in and departing from Chrome. As this is only an alpha version, the extension is not currently available in the Chrome Web Store, but Google has made the code available so the privacy-conscious and security-minded can take it for a test drive.
Google Chrome ships early versions for Windows 64-bit, promises better speed, stability and security
In a move that could -- and maybe should -- have happened years ago, Google has finally released native 64-bit Windows builds into the Chrome release channel. While not yet available to stable or beta channel users, those wishing to take full advantage of their 64-bit processors can do so with the release of Google Chrome 37 Dev and Google Chrome Canary 37.
The 64-bit builds -- according to Google -- hit the spot with its three "core principles": speed, security and stability.
Coast, from Norwegian developer Opera, is a browser designed specifically for iPhones and iPads. Unlike other browsers it’s been built for simplicity. Instead of buttons, the app uses swipes for navigation. Gestures have replaced the typical functions. Despite this ease, Coast offers most of the features you could want, including a powerful, intuitive search and address bar that suggests keywords and site thumbnails as you type.
I spoke to Coast's creator, Huib Kleinhout, about the browser and his plans for the future.
Privacy. It's something that we're all concerned about, particularly online. Facebook is one of many companies that comes in for scrutiny and criticism for the way it handles user privacy, and there have long been complaints about the fact that statuses and uploaded photos are made publicly accessible by default. Today that changes. After years of pestering, Facebook has listened to its user base and changed the default visibility setting to "Friends only". At least this is the case for brand new users.
Anyone signing up for a new Facebook account -- can there be many people left who do not yet have one? -- will be able to avoid accidentally sharing private photos with the world. "Going forward, when new people join Facebook, the default audience of their first post will be set to Friends. Previously, for most people, it was set to Public," says Facebook in a blog post. The first time a post is made, users will be asked whether it should be made public or limited to a smaller audience. If no selection is made, it will default to Friends.
Today is a day of celebration for fans of Any.Do -- the todo list and task manager for iOS, Android and Chrome. Some four years after its inception -- and after many, many demands from the service's user base -- Any.Do has, at long, long last, gained a web app. Founders Omer Perchik, Yoni Lindenfeld, and Itay Kahana have successfully avoided a brouhaha from users by finally delivering what they describe as "the number one most requested feature by our users".
Any.Do has proved incredibly successful on mobile platforms -- as well as in Google's web browser -- amassing more than 10 million users. Perchik says: "Web is a huge market we haven't even touched yet. There's a world of people who haven't considered us because they need a full web experience, right on their computer screens" of the launch. "We're conquering mobile, now it's time to break out in a broader market".
Self-Destructing Cookies is a Firefox add-on which does a great job of controlling cookie use, without any of the complexity you’ll see in other tools.
Install the add-on and it takes immediate effect, automatically deleting a site’s regular cookies -- and its LocalStorage data -- just as soon as you close its tab.
It may seem as though Google feels the sharp end of many tongues -- be it about problems with Glass, for shaping the content of the internet, or the way it handles advertising. But more often than not, the big G finds itself on the receiving end of criticism for being in bed with the NSA for the way it handles user privacy. In spite of all of the ammunition unleashed in Google's direction, the company has -- incredibly -- been awarded a full six stars out of six by the Electronic Frontier Foundation for protecting user data from government requests.
The EFF's Who Has Your Back? report ranks and rates the performance of some of the biggest names in the world of tech for handling user privacy in the face of government data requests. Finding ourselves in a world now tainted by the activities of the NSA, privacy and accountability have become more important to internet users than ever before. The Electronic Frontier Foundation prides itself on "defending your rights in the digital world", and its annual report looks at the performance and promises of 26 companies who handle your data.
As something of a browser butterfly, I like to keep an eye on what's happening with browsers other than the one I'm currently using fulltime. Like many tech journalists (and non-journalists for that matter), I gave up on Internet Explorer quite some time ago, opting for Firefox initially. I also dabbled with Opera and Waterfox, amongst others, but for a number of years it was Firefox that delivered web pages to me. Sadly, I noticed that things started to slow down. New versions were more bloated and sluggish, and in the search for better performance, I ended up with Chrome. I've been a Chrome user for years now, but I was recently spurred into trying out Firefox once again.
Quite where the impetus came from, I'm not sure -- just one of those "let’s see if anything's changed" moments, I guess. Apart from little quirks like the refresh button being on the "wrong" side of the program window, Firefox seems pretty decent. I was impressed by the sharpness of the display for starters -- I had forgotten that Chrome handles high DPIs very poorly. As I'm using a Surface Pro running at 1920 x 1080, running at 150 percent DPI scaling is essential (I don’t have microscopes for eyes!) and Chrome makes everything look slightly blurry... not enough to put me off -- I'm still using it, after all -- but Firefox was a revelation!
Opera has unveiled Opera Developer 23.0, a brand new version of the alpha build of its web browser. Version 23.0 contains little in the way of eye-catching headlines, but has been used to showcase the browser’s new flexibility with regards to web standards.
Its headline feature is support for "unprefixed CSS Transforms", which accompanies another update to the underlying rendering engine.
If you Google yourself, do you stumble across information you would rather wasn't online? Those naked photos of you cavorting in the garden or a snippet from a drunken rant in an online forum could be sitting there for all to see. The page in question may have gone, but that's not to say that you won’t still appear in Google search results.
Obviously there are situations in which this could be detrimental to your reputation, and it's understandable that you might want something done about it. Following a case presided over by the European Union Court of Justice in Luxembourg, judges have ruled that, in certain circumstances, people may ask a search operator to remove data about them from search results.
Using the internet and being subjected to advertising very much go hand in hand. Sites have server bills to pay as well as other costs, and this is offset by displaying ads as a means of generating income. This is something we're all used to, and it's generally accepted as the price we have to pay. With the spread of mobile apps, the notion of advertisements within software becomes more and more popular, but, while not entirely unknown, it's not a notion that really translated to the desktop. This could be set to change if Mozilla's experiments with in-browser advertising come to fruition.
Of course, referring to it as advertising would be a little off-putting, so the word 'sponsored' is being thrown around in its place. What's all this about? Well, back in February Mozilla's Head of Content Services, Darren Herman, posted a blog entry outlining the company's 'Directory Tiles' idea. What this amounted to was a suggestion that in future versions of Firefox, the new tab page could feature "sponsored content from hand-picked partners" as well as links to site based on location. Herman gave the reassurance that "sponsored tiles will be clearly labelled as such" but, ultimately, it still amounts to in-browser advertising.
Heartbleed was a security nightmare that caught the technology world unaware and unprepared. There was a good deal of panicking in the immediate aftermath, but looking back a month down the line there is a lot to learn from what happened. But perhaps the most important thing is what happens moving forward.
Post-Heartbleed, Joe Siegrist, CEO for LastPass has a series of tips for companies to help protect data and improve privacy.
Security is fun! Security is sexy! In fact, passwords get so many hearts pounding that World Password Day had to be dreamed up just to create an outlet for the outpouring of emotion associated with them. This may be stretching things a little, but today really is World Password Day, a global movement involving McAfee, Microsoft, Dell, Acer, Lenovo and numerous other big names to educate the world about... passwords! I jest a little, but this is a day with a serious message -- we are all incredibly reliant on passwords, but too many of them are just not strong enough.
Head on over to the website and you'll find all manner of tools designed to stress the importance of strong passwords, and to promote good practices. Things get off to a fairly gentle start with a typing game in which you're invited to type common passwords and blast them out of the sky. There are also tools and tips from each of the companies involved in the project. Microsoft has a password checker that will test the strength of your password, McAfee (now nothing to do with John McAfee!) has a Heartbleed vulnerability checker, while Dell has the handy tip that one shouldn’t type one's password into the username field.