CERN Ditches Microsoft to ‘Take Back Control’ with Open Source Software

Found on omg! ubuntu! on Friday, 14 June 2019
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Microsoft recently revoked the organisations status as an academic institution, instead pricing access to its services on users. This bumps the cost of various software licenses 10x, which is just too much for CERN’s budget.

“MAlt’s objective is to put us back in control using open software. It is now time to present more widely this project and to explain how it will shape our computing environment,” CERN’s Emmanuel Ormancey explains in a blog post.

Microsoft licensing is an absolute nightmare and in some cases flat out ridiculous. Let's not forget the privacy nightmare either. The more moving away from that software, the better.

Google Says It Isn't Killing Ad Blockers. Ad Blockers Disagree

Found on Wired on Thursday, 13 June 2019
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Over the past 18 months, Google has pushed to improve Chrome extension security—a welcome goal given the sketchy morass of extensions that have been out there for years. But one proposed change related to this effort threatens to hobble ad blocking extensions.

Its new iteration, the company says, will better protects users' data and help ad blockers work more more efficiently. But ad blocker developers argue the new arrangement will hinder their ability to quickly and correctly identify ads, without necessarily providing the benefits touted by Google.

A company who makes billions from online advertising is looking for excuses to mess with adblockers. How shocking and surprising.

238 Google Play apps with >440 million installs made phones nearly unusable

Found on Ars Technica on Thursday, 06 June 2019
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Carefully concealed adware installed in Google-approved apps with more than 440 million installations was so aggressive that it rendered mobile devices nearly unusable, researchers from mobile security provider Lookout said Tuesday.

Once installed, the apps initially behaved normally. Then, after a delay of anywhere between 24 hours and 14 days, the obfuscated BeiTaAd plugin would begin delivering what are known as out-of-app ads. These ads appeared on users' lock screens and triggered audio and video at seemingly random times or even when a phone was asleep.

There's no indication that CooTek will be banned or otherwise punished for breaching Play terms of service on such a mass scale and for taking the steps it did to hide the violation.

Remember, back in the days, where marketing folks told everybody who wanted to hear (and those who didn't too) that walled gardens appstores are a perfect way to keep malware away?

Google to restrict modern ad blocking Chrome extensions to enterprise users

Found on 9to5 Google on Thursday, 30 May 2019
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With the Manifest V3 proposal, Google deprecates the webRequest API’s ability to block a particular request before it’s loaded.

Google is essentially saying that Chrome will still have the capability to block unwanted content, but this will be restricted to only paid, enterprise users of Chrome. This is likely to allow enterprise customers to develop in-house Chrome extensions, not for ad blocking usage.

For the rest of us, Google hasn’t budged on their changes to content blockers, meaning that ad blockers will need to switch to a less effective, rules-based system, called “declarativeNetRequest.”

Blocked ads are a loss of money for Google. It's not much of a surprise that Google does not like them. Floods of ads and popups could be just what is needed to anger the Chrome users so Google rethinks its decision.

Germany mulls giving end-to-end chat app encryption das boot

Found on The Register on Tuesday, 28 May 2019
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Government officials in Germany are reportedly mulling a law to force chat app providers to hand over end-to-end encrypted conversations in plain text on demand.

True and strong end-to-end encrypted conversations can only be decrypted by those participating in the discussion, so the proposed rules would require app makers to deliberately knacker or backdoor their code in order to comply.

So any open-source and decentralized messenger will be ruled illegal then?

SaaS Performance Breaks: How Can Enterprises Protect Themselves?

Found on eWEEK on Saturday, 25 May 2019
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Software-as-a-service (SaaS)-based applications are now the lifeblood of most organizations, but they’re certainly not foolproof. Breaks in performance (speed, availability, reachability) are occurring more frequently for popular applications.

Enterprise users have become so reliant on SaaS apps that when these slow down or become unavailable altogether, key departments—and in some cases, an organization’s entire revenue-generating engine—go idle.

If the software you need to run your core business is only online available, then you are not allowed to complain about any downtime. Plan correctly so you can keep things running even if your connection drops.

Global virus fear prompts update for old Windows

Found on BBC News on Thursday, 16 May 2019
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One patch is for Windows XP, which debuted in 2001 and Microsoft stopped supporting in 2014.

It was "highly likely" the vulnerability would be exploited if it went unpatched, wrote Simon Pope, Microsoft's director of incident response, in a blog about the bug.

Market industry data suggests about 3.75% of desktop machines currently use XP or its variants.

So much for a so-called dead system.

Windows 10 May 2019 update blocked for anyone using USB or SD storage

Found on Ars Technica on Wednesday, 24 April 2019
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Because of an issue that's frankly remarkable, Microsoft is blocking the update for anyone using USB storage or SD storage. That is to say: if you have a USB hard disk or thumb drive, or an SD card in an SD card reader, the update won't install.

As with so many Windows 10 bugs, the real question here is how on Earth this was only detected at this late stage in development. USB storage is not esoteric or unusual, and a problem like this is going to affect a large proportion of Windows 10 users.

It's getting more and more ridiculous. It's as if Microsoft tries to look incompetent.

Microsoft going to extreme lengths to ensure May update avoids mistakes of 1809

Found on Ars Technica on Thursday, 04 April 2019
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It's going to be the May 2019 update, because Microsoft is being a great deal more cautious about this release. Next week, a build will be pushed to the Release Preview ring, which should provide around a month of testing before its expected release date.

If Microsoft sticks with its plan to leave the feature update optional until it becomes a prerequisite for support, many Windows 10 users may not find themselves upgrading for more than a year after its release.

It cannot really get any worse than 1809. Well, probably not...

Google: Play Protect cut harmful Android app installs by 20% in 2018

Found on Venturebeat on Friday, 29 March 2019
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Google says that Google Play Protect, Android’s AI-driven built-in defense mechanism that scans over 50 billion apps every day on-device and upwards of 500,000 in the cloud, substantially cut down on the number of Potentially Harmful Applications (PHAs) in Google Play.

The question is, where is the difference between malware and apps that monetize your private data. Software requires access to all sorts of data, for what it does not have any reason but to collect and sell it.