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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hackers can take over your iPhone with a text message

Security researchers have figured out how to disable or take over the iPhone and other smart phones using simple text messages.

Charlie Miller made his name hacking cool stuff like the first Apple iPhone. He’s at it again, having figured out how to take over your iPhone with this new trick. He and partner Collin Mulliner, a German security researcher getting his doctorate at the Technical University in Berlin, did so by constructing the message with data and programming that causes your iPhone to crash. They then take it over and can run any code they want on it. If they wanted, they could spread the message by sending it to friends in your address book.

Once the text message causes the phone to crash, Miller said, he can take over the phone because it’s functioning like a computer. He can pollute the phone’s memory and then run his own program on the phone.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Almost all Windows users vulnerable to Flash zero-day attacks

More than 9 out of every 10 Windows users are vulnerable to the Flash zero day vulnerability that Adobe won't patch until Thursday, a Danish security company said today.

The most current versions of Flash Player, and are vulnerable to hackers conducting drive-by attacks hosted on malicious and legitimate but compromised sites. Antivirus vendors have reported hundreds, in some cases thousands, of sites launching drive-bys against Flash.

Adobe has acknowledged that Flash, Reader and Acrobat contain a critical bug. Last Wednesday, it kicked its security process into high gear, promising it would deliver patches for Flash by July 30, and fixes for Reader and Acrobat by July 31.

PSI scans Windows systems for installed applications, then compares their version numbers to the most up-to-date editions; if they're different, it makes note, then provides a link to the patch update. "[A] PC user with vulnerabilities in his installed software, is like a house owner with open or unlocked doors," said Mikkel Winther, the manager of Secunia's PSI partner program, in an e-mail. "Maybe nobody will rob his house or compromise his system, but it is indeed possible and he hasn't secured himself against it."

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Microsoft To Kill Soapbox, Its YouTube Competitor

Microsoft has announced plans to shut down Soapbox, its online-video competitor to YouTube, by the end of August. Despite Soapbox’s presence, Microsoft had only 2 percent of the online video market, placing it fifth behind Yahoo, Hulu, Fox Interactive Media and Google.

According to a Microsoft statement, users will be forbidden from uploading new videos to Soapbox on July 29. Microsoft is encouraging anyone who wants to keep their videos to download them from Soapbox by August 31, when the site will shut down for good.

The combination of severe global recession and Microsoft’s own readjustment of its corporate goals have meant death for several of its legacy programs, even as the company gears up to release the next generation of its flagship products, such as Windows 7 and Office 2010.

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Microsoft Seen Posting Sharp Profit Decline For Fiscal 4th Quarter

Microsoft is expected to post declines in profit and sales for its fiscal 4th quarter as the software giant contends with flagging sales of personal computers bundled with its technology.

Wall Street analysts on average estimate that Microsoft will post earnings of 36 cents a share for the period ending in June, on $14.38 billion in revenue, according to data from Thomson Reuters.

That compares with earnings of 46 cents a share and $15.84 billion in revenue in the same period a year earlier.

Research firm Gartner Inc. released data showing that PC shipments fell 5% in the second quarter of the calendar year, to 68.1 million units. That was a better than expected result, Gartner noted, but still an indication that the market is in decline.

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Microsoft Reveals Office 2010 Timing, Technical Preview

Microsoft revealed a test version of the next round of its Office suite of products, which will be available in the first half of 2010.

Office remains the de facto standard for office productivity among both businesses and consumers. However, companies like Google and others are trying to challenge Microsoft with free Web-based versions of applications similar to Word, PowerPoint and Excel, which make up the core of Office.

What Microsoft didn't release at the show, and what many expected, was a test preview of Microsoft's answer to these challenges, Office Web apps, a free, Web based version of Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote.

Customers will be able to get Office Web apps in a number of ways. It will be free for anyone who wants to use the basic version, and business customers can get a paid version that they can either run on premise on their own SharePoint Server back-end or as a hosted service from Microsoft.

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Friday, July 10, 2009

Bing Leapfrogs Yahoo Search

New stats from monitoring service StatCounter suggest that for the second time since its launch, Microsoft's Bing has surpassed Yahoo Search as the second most used search engine in the United States. Shortly after publicly debuting the new service, Bing already jumped over Yahoo Search - if only for one day - which many attributed to the launch momentum. But Bing has proven to be a very solid product that many seem keen to try out even after a month.

In any event, while Google shouldn't be particularly worried about losing its dominance on the search market yet, the other players in the field better be watching Bing's progress very closely. Microsoft is doing it right, and users are noticing, too.

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Monday, July 06, 2009

Microsoft warns of hole in Video ActiveX control

Microsoft on Monday warned of a vulnerability in its Video ActiveX Control that could allow an attacker to take control of a PC if the user visits a malicious Web site.

There have been limited attacks exploiting the hole, which affects Windows XP and Windows Server 2003, Microsoft said on its Security Response Center blog.

This is the second DirectShow security hole Microsoft has announced in the past few months. The company has yet to provide a security update for a vulnerability announced in May that involves the way DirectX handles QuickTime files.

Microsoft is working on a security update and will release it when the quality is at the appropriate level for broad distribution, the company said.

The Microsoft Video Control object is an ActiveX control that connects Microsoft DirectShow filters for use in capturing, recording, and playing video. The control is the main component used in Windows Media Center for building filter graphs for recording and playing television video.

Antivirus vendor Symantec said it was seeing the flaw being exploited in China and other parts of Asia and cited reports that indicate thousands of Web sites are hosting the exploit.

Internet Explorer versions 6 and 7 are at risk, but people running IE 8 are not vulnerable, Symantec said.

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Thursday, July 02, 2009

As industry recovers, Mac growth beating PCs

Morgan Stanley analyst Kathryn Huberty says Apple is outperforming the PC market in sales growth, and this was before Apple released its new MacBook Pros in June, according to a report on Fortune's Apple 2.0. Of course, releasing a new notebook would only spur sales for the months after its release.

Huberty said that in May, Apple shipments were up 25 percent over April. In comparison, PC shipments for the same period were up only 1 percent, according to Fortune. As a result, she is raising her forecast for the this quarter to 2.5 million Macs.

In its fiscal second quarter 2009, Apple sold 2.2 million Macs, a 3 percent decline for the company over the year-ago quarter. While down, this isn't a significant decrease considering the economy.

However, if Huberty's predictions are true and Apple does sell 2.5 million Macs in the third-quarter, the company will see a nominal increase from the 2.496 million sold during last year's third-quarter.

Consumer interest in its products led Apple to the top of Nielsen's report released on Tuesday, documenting the most trafficked hardware Web sites. Apple more than doubled the traffic of its nearest competitor Hewlett-Packard.