Mark Wycislik-Wilson

Microsoft brings Windows Defender Browser Protection extension to Google Chrome

Microsoft sign on building

Recognizing that comparatively few people are using its Edge browser, Microsoft has released a new security tool for those who have opted to use Google Chrome -- the Windows Defender Browser Protection extension.

The add-on offers real-time protection against a variety of online threats such as phishing attacks and malicious websites. As these security options are already available in Chrome, it's not clear quite who the extension is aimed at.

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Facebook reveals new privacy controls for users around the world

Facebook on three smartphones

Facebook has been hit with renewed criticism of its privacy policies in recent weeks in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Having promised to give users more control over their privacy settings -- and after already introducing some tools to this end -- the social network has now revealed how it will comply with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe and bring new "privacy protection" to users around the world.

With the impending arrival of GDPR, it had previously been thought that European Facebook users would have greater privacy controls than those in other parts of the world. But the company then revealed that GDPR-style privacy controls would actually be made available to everyone. Today, Facebook makes good on that promise, starting the rollout of new privacy settings in Europe and then around the globe.

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Password manager RememBear exits beta with official launch


After around six months in beta -- and two years in the making -- the team behind the TunnelBear VPN tool has officially launched its password manager, RememBear.

Vying for attention in an already somewhat crowded marketplace, RememBear takes a leaf out of TunnelBear's book, and concentrates on offering functionality that's simple to use. There's also the same quirky use of animations throughout, but this should not distract from the fact that this is a powerful and secure place to store passwords.

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International Shopping experience comes to the Amazon Shopping app

Amazon parcels

Amazon is making it easier to browse for goods from international sellers and have them shipped to your home country. The company is bringing the "International Shopping" experience to the Amazon Shopping app, and this simplifies the process of accessing Amazon with local language support and to track down items that ship to your country.

The new experience is available to iOS and Android users, and there is support for Spanish, English, Simplified Chinese, Brazilian Portuguese and German. To start with 25 currencies are supported, but more are due to be added later in the year.

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Microsoft, Facebook and Symantec are among 34 companies pledging not to help governments launch cyberattacks

Man and woman shaking hands

More than 30 technology companies have signed the Cybersecurity Tech Accord, making a number of pledges relating to cyberattacks. Microsoft, Facebook, Dell, HP and LinkedIn are just a few of the companies signing on the dotted line, promising -- among other things -- never to help a government launch cyberattacks against innocent citizens and enterprises.

The overall aim of the accord is to protect customers against malicious attacks by cybercriminal enterprises and nation-states. It is described as a "watershed agreement", and it sees a number of very big names coming together -- although there are a few notable exceptions.

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Intel Accelerated Memory Scanning offloads malware scanning to GPUs to boost performance

Intel logo on a building

The Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities really focused people's attention on the security of processors, and Intel has been at pains to convince users that it takes security seriously. With this in mind, the company has now announced a new Threat Detection Technology which introduces two new malware-fighting techniques.

Accelerated Memory Scanning offloads malware scanning to GPUs, taking the strain off CPUs and helping to improve performance. There's already interest, with Microsoft planning to add support to Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection. Intel has also revealed Advanced Platform Telemetry which is supposed to cut down on false positives.

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Facebook: Yep, we track non-users -- but everyone else is doing it, so why shouldn't we?

Facebook logo on iPhone

In a blog post addressing some of the questions Mark Zuckerberg failed to properly answer in front of Congress, Facebook has admitted that it tracks both users and non-users as they use the web. This is something the social network has historically denied.

Facebook's product management director, David Baser, conceded that "when you visit a site or app that uses our services, we receive information even if you're logged out or don't have a Facebook account." Not happy to make this concession without pointing fingers, he then goes on to point out that other companies such as Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn behave similarly.

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Microsoft made its own IoT-ready Linux kernel for Azure Sphere OS

Azure Sphere MCU

Microsoft has opened up its heart to Linux in recent years, but now the company has done something that would have previously been unthinkable: it has built its own Linux kernel.

As part of its embracing of the Internet of Things, Microsoft has announced Azure Sphere, an ARM-based platform for the IoT with a focus on security. Key to Azure Sphere are small MCU-powered (microcontroller) devices -- essentially SoC devices -- which run Azure Sphere OS and securely connect to Azure backends. Security comes thanks to the use of a custom Linux kernel.

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TaskRabbit app and website are down while a 'cybersecurity incident' is investigated


IKEA-owned TaskRabbit is offline while the company investigates a "cybersecurity incident". Very little information has been given about the incident, but the company says that it is working with "an outside cybersecurity firm and law enforcement to determine specifics" of what happened.

While even vague details are unavailable, the fact that the TaskRabbit website and app have been taken offline could well be indicative of the severity. The company is advising its customers to change their passwords elsewhere if they have reused their TaskRabbit credentials for other sites and services.

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US and UK issue joint warning about Russian hacking of routers and ISPs

Russian hacking and US flag

Global fears about cyberattacks by Russia are not calming down, and the US and UK have just issued a joint alert warning of state-sponsored attacks on network infrastructure devices, including residential routers.

The west is accusing Russia of an espionage-driven malicious cyberoffensive, and the Technical Alert -- which comes following a joint effort between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the UK's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) -- warns that both governmental and residential hardware is being targeted to "potentially lay a foundation for future offensive operations".

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Microsoft reveals more about the 'blocking bug' that is delaying Windows 10 Spring Creators Update

With the release of Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 17134 (Redstone 4) to the Fast Ring, Microsoft has given a little insight into what went wrong with build 17133, which had been thought to be the RTM build but was delayed due to a "blocking bug".

The release of Windows 10 Spring Creators Update was expected this month, but the launch date is now seemingly increasingly likely to slip into May. Microsoft has revealed that build 17133 was proving problematic and the company says it wants to fix the issues now, rather than after the fact.

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US and UK blacklist China's ZTE

ZTE building logo

The US Department of Commerce has implemented a ban on American companies selling components to ZTE. The Chinese telecoms firm is being punished for violating sanctions on Iran and North Korea after pleading guilty last year.

At the same time, the UK's cyber defense watchdog, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), has warned UK telecoms firms that the use of ZTE equipment or services pose a risk to national security. The action taken by the two nations is expected to have severe implications for the company.

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Weibo reverses homosexuality policy in China: 'We're no longer targeting gay content'

Weibo homepage

Following a huge backlash over the weekend, Weibo -- the Chinese equivalent of Twitter -- has announced a reversal of a policy that would have seen gay content banned from the platform.

Originally announced on Friday, the "clean-up" operation was due to last three months, and covered violence and pornography as well as homosexual content. Now, however, Weibo has felt the pressure of public outcry and backed down saying: "We're no longer targeting gay content".

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Thousands of Android apps have built-in crypto keys and passwords

Red and blue security padlock

A large number of free Android apps suffer with flaky security because software developers are leaving cryptographic keys embedded and passwords hard-coded.

Speaking at the BSides security conference in San Francisco, software vulnerability analyst Will Dormann revealed how he had found serious security problems in thousands upon thousands of apps. After testing 1.8 million apps, he found almost 20,000 featured built-in passwords and keys, and even when a separate password store was used, user data was still open to attack from simple password crackers.

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Linus Torvalds says Linux kernel v5.0 'should be meaningless'

Linux kernel

Following the release of Linux kernel 4.16, Linus Torvalds has said that the next kernel will be version 5.0. Or maybe it won't, because version numbers are meaningless.

The announcement -- of sorts -- came in Torvalds' message over the weekend about the first release candidate for version 4.17. He warns that it is not "shaping up to be a particularly big release" and questions whether it even matters what version number is slapped on the final release.

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