Latest Technology News

Zorin OS 15.1 Linux distro is ready to replace Microsoft's dying Windows 7 on your PC

Windows 7's death is imminent -- support for the popular operating system ends next month on January 14, making it extremely dangerous to use from a security standpoint after that date. This is very unfortunate for the millions of computer users that don't want to switch to the much-maligned Windows 10. Thankfully, in 2019, you don't have to run Windows anymore -- Linux is a totally legitimate option for both business and home use these days. Hell, even the Windows-maker sees the writing on the wall -- the company recently released its wildly popular Office 365 program, Microsoft Teams, for Linux.

If you are ready to ditch the soon-to-be-unsupported Windows 7 for a more secure Linux-based operating system, you have plenty of great options. One of the best choices, however, is Zorin OS -- a Linux distribution that specifically targets people switching from Windows. Today, the latest version of that operating system, Zorin OS 15.1, is released to the world.

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The world increasingly relies on open source -- here's how to control its risks

Risk dial

Open source software’s hold on the IT sector has deepened in the last five years. An estimated 96 percent of applications use open source components, and big players like Microsoft, IBM and even the U.S. government now embrace open source projects for their software needs. But while open source has transformed organizations’ ability to use proven and maintained code in the development of new software, it’s not untouchable in terms of security. Using code that’s readable by anyone brings risks -- and issues have occurred in the past.

It’s true that open source makes security efforts more transparent since it’s happening out in the open. If there are flaws in the code, they’re often resolved quickly by committed members of the open source community. Additionally, many open source projects have security scans built into their build processes, so contributions that introduce vulnerabilities directly or through dependencies are few and far between. But leaving the code in the open also allows bad actors to write attacks specific to unpatched vulnerabilities or to unrealized vulnerabilities in libraries that products actively depend on. As a result, teams using open source need to take steps to remain secure.

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AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT now available

Not everyone can afford the top of the line graphics card, and that's fine. If you are a PC gamer on a budget, there are plenty of options these days that will allow you to play the latest and greatest games, albeit with the resolution and other settings turned down a bit. For instance 4K is all the rage these days, but if you are OK with 1080p gaming, you can actually get by with some affordable gear.

Today, AMD shows some major respect for the 1080p gamers of the world with the all-new Radeon RX 5500 XT. While not the most powerful card, it should be able to play all of the newest games at 1080p. It should be positioned a bit higher than the excellent, yet aging, RX 580. Best of all, the starting price is significantly below $200.

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How can the US prepare for these 2020 predictions?

crystal ball

Predicting everything that will happen in 2020 is an impossible task, however, the foundation has been laid for two security events to occur. First, all signs point towards the enactment of a federal data privacy law. The fact that the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) is slated to be enacted on January 1, 2020; shows that the US is starting to take a more steadfast approach to consumer privacy. However, if every state were to enact their own laws, then organizations that operate within the US would have to navigate through 50 different mandates. One unified, federal regulation would make it far more seamless for businesses to continue operations, all while remaining compliant.

Second, it is likely that we will see foreign meddling occur in the 2020 US presidential election. This occurred in 2016, and there have already been reports of foreign entities attempting to interfere with US government agencies. In fact, the state of Ohio recently thwarted an attack from a Russian-backed organization on its voting systems. Let’s dive more into these predictions below.

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The phishing tricks that break through standard email filters

Some phishing emails are easy to spot: the spelling is bad, the spoofed email is clearly a fake, and the images are too warped to have possibly been sent by a reputable brand. If you receive one of these low-quality phishing emails, you’re lucky. Today’s phishing emails are extremely sophisticated, and if you’re not well trained to spot one, you probably won’t.

Email filters have long relied on fingerprint and reputation-based threat detection to block phishing emails. A fingerprint is essentially all the evidence a phisher leaves behind -- a signature that, once identified, will be recognized on future phishing attempts and the phishing email or webpage blocked. Examples of a fingerprint include the header, subject line, and HTML.

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New account fraud up 28 percent in 2019

identity theft

New account fraud -- attempts by an individual to create a new online account by manipulating a government-issued ID -- is up 28 percent this year according to a new report.

Data from trusted identity provider Jumio shows this type of fraud has increased over 100 percent on 2014 levels.

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Logitech Personal Collaboration Kits are premium webcam and headset combos

Remote work is all the rage these days. After all, some jobs can be done from home -- why waste gas and time commuting to a shared office just to sit alone in a cubicle all day? Of course, for remote working to be successful, you must have useful communication tools -- both software and hardware. For instance, Microsoft Teams and Slack are great ways to stay in touch, but what about when you need to make audio or visual calls for collaboration? For that, high-quality hardware can make all the difference.

Apparently, Logitech sees great value in combining audio and visual communication in one package. The company has launched two new hardware packages which it calls "Personal Collaboration Kits." What exactly are these kits? Quite simply, a combo consisting of a high-end headset and webcam. There are two options from which to choose, with one being given the "Pro" designation. The truth is, however, both kits would be good for either professional or home use.

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Enterprises increase their investment in machine learning

machine learning AI

Machine learning development is still in its early stages in many enterprises but investment in the technology is on the increase according to a new report.

The report from Algorithmia shows 22 percent of respondents say their companies have been in production with machine learning for a year. However, 50 percent say they spend between eight and 90 days deploying a single machine learning model.

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Logitech launches 4K Pro Magnetic Webcam for Apple Pro Display XDR

Apple's newest Mac Pro computer, configured with the top specifications, costs over $50,000 (yes, really). The starting price for the Apple Pro Display XDR with the official Pro Stand is $5,998. And yet, despite these outrageous prices, you don't even get a webcam! Seriously, folks, Apple's latest and greatest premium display doesn't even have an integrated camera! Sigh.

Thankfully, Logitech is here to save the day with its all new 4K Pro Magnetic Webcam. As the name implies, it features a resolution of up to 4K, and it connects to the top of the Apple Pro Display XDR with a magnet. While this new webcam it is a bit expensive, it isn't obscenely so like Apple's new hardware. And while it is only designed for the Apple Pro Display XDR and macOS, I wouldn't be surprised to see it rest comfortably atop other monitors or maybe even work with Windows 10 too.

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Vulnerability used in Equifax breach is top network attack in Q3 of 2019

Network security

Network security and intelligence company WatchGuard Technologies has released its internet security report for the third quarter of 2019 showing the most popular network attacks.

Apache Struts vulnerabilities -- including one used in the devastating Equifax data breach which tops the list -- appeared for the first time on WatchGuard's list. The report also highlights a major rise in zero day malware detections, increasing use of Microsoft Office exploits and legitimate penetration testing tools, and more.

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Beware fake recruiters bearing gifts!

When corporate recruiter Kirsten Lambert came into work this week, the last thing she probably expected to see was a LinkedIn message from yours truly asking about the new position she had just offered me earlier in the day. That’s because she had made no such offer. It was a scam. Someone impersonating her had spent the better part of three hours "interviewing" me via Google Hangouts for a position that was never mine in the first place.

Fortunately, I’ve been around the industry long enough to know how the recruitment process is supposed to work. And in this case, I was suspicious from the outset. For starters, this "fake" Kirsten wasn’t the first person from the firm I’d interacted with. An equally fictitious "Helen Meek" had contacted me over the weekend to tell me that she’d seen my profile on ZipRecruiter and that she was "impressed by my qualifications" -- that I’d be a "great fit for her Software Engineer position at Belcan, LLC, in Windsor, CT" (one of my four homes is located in a nearby town, so…easy commute!).

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Cloud migration and cyberattacks are top IT challenges for 2020

cloud padlock

New data published by INAP at Gartner's IT Infrastructure, Operations and Cloud Strategies Conference in Las Vegas this week reveals the top challenges IT professionals expect to face in 2020.

Migrating applications to the cloud tops the list for 37 percent (up from 34 percent last year) while protecting against cyber attacks is in second place chosen by 31 percent (down from 36 percent).

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O&O FileBackup 1.0 is small, portable and surprisingly effective at keeping your key files backed up

They say small is beautiful, and with O&O Software’s latest offering it’s hard to disagree. The German software developer has managed to pack a powerful file backup tool into a tiny 4MB portable application with the release of O&O FileBackup 1.0.

Despite its small size, the app doesn’t just do basic backups of single folders -- there’s a slick user interface, with options for automatically selecting files based on filetype, the ability to update and restore backups with just a few clicks and a built-in scheduling tool for keeping backups updated.

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Smart lock design flaw opens the door for attackers

Smart lock

An exploitable design flaw with a smart lock means attackers can easily overcome it and the lock's inability to receive updates means it can't easily be fixed.

Researchers at F-Secure found they were able to exploit poorly designed protocols in the KeyWe Smart Lock to intercept the secret passphrase that controls the lock as it's exchanged between the physical device and the mobile app.

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Microsoft releases Windows 10 20H1 (2004) Build 19041.1 to the Fast and Slow rings

Microsoft is putting the finishing touches to the next big feature update for Windows 10, with the focus now firmly on identifying and fixing problems.

Build 19041.1 is rolling out to Insiders on the Fast and Slow rings and includes a number of changes and improvements.

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