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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Suspected Slovenian Super Hacker Sniffed Out

The suspected ring leader of the massive Mariposa Botnet and a pair of other hackers have been arrested in their native Slovenia and will face charges that allege they cracked into the computer systems of several Fortune 1000 companies and international banks.

The three suspected hackers are allegedly tied to the widespread Mariposa Botnet, which infected millions of computers and allowed hackers to glean information from the infected machines and launch denial-of-service attacks.

"In the last two years, the software used to create the Mariposa Botnet was sold to hundreds of other criminals, making it one of the most notorious in the world," said FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III in a statement.

The Mariposa Botnet was disabled in February. At the time it was taken down, three suspected operators of the botnet were arrested by the Spanish Guardia Civil and are currently being prosecuted in Spain.

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Yahoo Will Invest in Hackers With Good Ideas

Yahoo is considering investing in hackers with good ideas and technologies, a company executive said on Saturday.

"We are open to many ways of having a stake in creative young companies," said Jeff Kinder, Yahoo's senior vice president for media products and solutions, on the sidelines of a Yahoo Open Hack Day in Bangalore. Hackers and Open Hack Days have proven to be important sources of new ideas and technologies for Yahoo, Kinder said.

Starting as an internal event for Yahoo developers, Hack Days were later extended to developers in a number of locations including London, Brazil, Taiwan, and Bangalore. Open Hack Days also help Yahoo get feedback on its new APIs (application programming interfaces) and technologies.

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Friday, July 23, 2010

The Internet Is Running Out of Addresses

According to experts, the nearly 4.5 billion current addresses aren't enough, only six percent of available addresses are left, and the Internet will run out of addresses by sometime late next year. Three main factors are behind the upcoming shortage. One is the explosion in web access from multiple devices for each user, primarily in developed countries. Each of those smartphones, laptops, tablets, desktops and other devices that access the web require a different IP, or Internet protocol, address. And the demand for device addresses is increasing rapidly, with TVs, game consoles, even automobiles offering web-browsing capability.

A second factor is a rapidly growing user base in developing countries, such as Brazil, India or China. And, third, the Internet is becoming the communications network Relevant Products/Services for non-user-based equipment, such as smart electricity grids, sensors, RFIDs and smart houses.

Some experts say IPv6 could provide four billion addresses for each person on Earth. In addition to zillions of new addresses, IPv6 brings other improvements, including in routing, network auto-configuration, and better handling of 3G mobile networks.

Some government agencies and businesses in Europe and Asia have started to use IPv6 and Verizon, Comcast and some other large telecommunications companies have announced IPv6 trials. Until IPv6 is fully implemented, there are stopgaps, such as network address translation (NAT), which reduces the number of unique IP addresses needed by mapping multiple addresses to a single one.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Microsoft may face tough patch job with Windows shortcut bug

Microsoft may have a tough time fixing the Windows shortcut vulnerability, a security researcher said. A noted vulnerability expert, however, disagreed, and said Microsoft could deliver a patch within two weeks.

"The way Windows' shortcuts are designed is flawed, and I think they will have a very hard time patching this," said Roel Schouwenberg, an antivirus researcher with Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab.

Microsoft has acknowledged that attackers can use a malicious shortcut file, identified by the ".lnk" extension, to automatically execute their malware by getting users to view the contents of a folder containing a malformed shortcut. The risk is even greater if hackers use infected USB flash drives to spread their attack code, since the latter automatically executes on most Windows PCs as soon as drive is plugged into the machine.

Another problem facing Microsoft is that the code is obviously old, making a quick patch that much more unlikely. The vulnerability exists in Windows as far back as the Windows 2000 edition, which Schouwenberg has tested and successfully exploited.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Outlook Friends Facebook

Microsoft's integration of Facebook into its Outlook email and calendaring application is indicative of its desire to stay relevant in a world that's becoming increasingly social.

Facebook has joined the list of social networking sites available in the in-boxes of Outlook users, thanks to Microsoft's Outlook Social Connector. Outlook users have been expecting the announcement since November, when Microsoft said the service would be included in its Office 2010 suite.

Social Connector works by including a "People Pane" that provides information about each sender, including posts from other social networking services. The Social Connector also links to company Sharepoint sites, downloading activity feeds from colleagues and placing them into the same People Pane information flow.

The free service is available for Office 2010, Office 2007 and Office.

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Monday, July 12, 2010

Nearly Half of All Windows 7 Users Running the 64 Bit Version

Microsoft has released new figures that indicate nearly half of all Windows 7 installations are running on a 64-bit computing setup. And it could very well be said that Windows 7 is to "blame" for the switch. 54 percent of worldwide systems run the 32-bit version of Windows 7 compared the 46 percent that opts for Windows 7 x64.

Nearly three and a half years after the launch of the OS, Windows Vista users are decidedly 32-bit at a measured percentage of 89 to 11. And, as one might expect, Windows XP users are predominantly running their operating system on a 32-bit system versus 64-bit to a measurement of more than 99 percent to less than one percent, respectively.

The analyst numbers stack up as well. Microsoft cites NPD's Stephen Baker, who says that 77 percent of all retails systems sold in April of 2010 were being pushed out with Windows 7 x64 preinstalled.

So what, then, do you get for running a 64-bit OS? We've covered some of the advantages brought forth by the newer architecture, including granting one's system the ability to process more memory—up to a theoretical limit of 16 exabytes, technically.

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Thursday, July 08, 2010

Firefox 4 Beta 1

A week after a pre-beta version of Firefox 4 appeared on Mozilla's nightly developer build site, the browser has been released as a public beta.

The latest version of the Web browser sports some visual changes, including Chrome like tabs on top, and an Opera like button to replace the menu bar. Firefox 4 now supports Google's WebM HTML5 video format, regulates plug-ins such as Flash to a separate process for greater protection against crashes, and offers faster JavaScript performance.

The move to tabs atop the browser began with Chrome's first beta, which backtracked a bit, moving to a design with a window border over the tabs (though they were still on top of the menu). The design is good in that it leaves more space for the Web content, but it may confuse some users who are used to seeing them down below the toolbars.

Firefox 4 beta 1's new menu button may also confuse some people, since its function isn't perfectly clear. Another detail taking inspiration from Opera (and Safari) is Firefox 4's combining of the Stop and Reload buttons, which switches between the two functions depending on whether you're loading a page or not. The address bar now offers a switch to tab option when you start typing text from another page's URL or page title.

Firefox 4 beta 1 plug-ins such as Adobe Flash, Microsoft Silverlight, or Apple QuickTime are now run in their own separate process, which can prevent crashes in the event of an error. A couple of major benefits for users is that they'll no longer have to restart the browser to install extensions, and they won't be thwarted from starting the browser by incessant update messages whenever any extensions have new versions.

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