Google Releasing Chrome Extension To Detect Password Theft

Google Releasing Chrome Extension To Detect Password Theft

Google has a new extension for its Chrome browser, and it’s one you should strongly consider getting for all of your devices at home and in the office. The extension is called ‘Password Checkup,’ and has exactly one purpose.  It securely checks your logins against a breach database in real time as you’re logging onto the various websites you use daily. Note that the plugin checks both passwords you enter manually and those stored in Chrome’s password manager. It’s a brilliant feature, although not without risks.  After all, it opens up the possibility that during the check procedure, your password could be detected by a hacker monitoring your device.  Even so, the risks of that happening are quite small, while the benefits gained via getting real time information about whether your passwords have been compromised is too big to ignore. The central issue is this:  Over the past several years there have been scores of high-profile data breaches that have seen literally billions of user ID’s and credentials exposed, most of which wind up for sale on the Dark Web.  Worse, most users are blissfully unaware of the fact that their credentials have been compromised.  This extension changes that, giving you an opportunity right then and there to change your password. The development team is constantly updating the massive database that the extension uses to check for compromised passwords, and they’ve got plans to extend the use of the API’s capabilities down the road.  They’re even shopping for suggestions from Google’s vast user base on how best to use it in future projects. Overall, despite the fact that the...
New 5GE Coming To Phones Is Still In Development

New 5GE Coming To Phones Is Still In Development

AT&T is getting some pushback for what most industry insiders are calling a misleading indicator. It has started to appear on many new smartphones including both Androids and iPhones. With the latest update, a growing number of customers are now seeing a “5G E” indicator on their 4G phones, which leads to a momentary surge of excitement, leading customers to believe they’re using 5G technology. The indicator actually stands for 5G Evolution.  It’s still 4G technology. It does have some enhanced features not found on other 4G devices, including 256 QAN, 4×4 MIMO and three-way carrier aggregation.  Even so, it’s a far cry from being 5G technology, which isn’t slated to roll out until sometime in 2020. AT&T defended the move with the following statement: “5G Evolution is our first step on the road to 5G.  It is now live in over 400 markets with more to come, and soon our most popular smartphones will start displaying the 5G E indicator to let you know when 5G Evolution coverage is available.” Both users and the company’s competitors have widely mocked the indicator. Customers expressed a range of emotion that spans from frustration to outrage. For the time being at least, AT&T is sticking to its guns and shows no signs of backing away from the indicator.  In fact, AT&T Communications CEO John Donovan dismissed the complaints by saying simply “Our competitors are frustrated.” They’re not the only ones. Although at this point, it’s unclear what (if any) backlash the company will face courtesy of unhappy customers. Honestly, although the move is ham-fisted and a bit deceptive, AT&T isn’t likely...
Popular Media Applications Will Be Discontinued From Windows 7

Popular Media Applications Will Be Discontinued From Windows 7

Despite that there are still a shocking number of Windows 7 users spread around the world, Microsoft has kept with its previously published end of support schedule, and is no longer supporting the venerable product. The company has also begun quietly pulling the plug on applications that were central to the Windows 7 user experience, including (according to updated support documents) Windows Media Player and the Windows Media Center from versions 7 and 8.1 of the OS. One of the most notable changes from a user’s perspective is the fact that audio and video meta data will no longer be updated. A company spokesman had this to say about the recent change: “Going forward, you may be unable to view information (metadata) such as the title, genre, and artist for songs, and the director, actors, cover art and TV guide for movies in Windows Media Center and Windows Media Player.  After looking at customer feedback and usage data, Microsoft decided to discontinue this service.  This means that new metadata won’t be updated on media players that are installed on your Windows device.  However, any information that’s already been downloaded will still be available.” The most important detail to make note of, however, is this:  If you’re currently using Windows Media Player on Windows 10, your metadata will not be impacted by this change.  It will continue to be updated normally. While the older versions of Media Player will still function, this is the latest in a series of gradual steps to move the company completely away from the oldest products in its lineup, in preference for the latest version...
Mistyped URLs Will Soon Get A Warning In Chrome

Mistyped URLs Will Soon Get A Warning In Chrome

At one point or another, everybody has done it.  You open a browser and type in the URL of a site you visit frequently.  In doing so, your finger slips and you mistype it.  Sometimes, nothing comes of it except that you get an error message. Knowing that, increasing numbers of hackers have gotten into the habit of buying up domains that are slight misspellings of popular, mainstream brands. Invariably, the hackers will then create a site that looks identical to the real site.  A careless user won’t notice the difference.  From there, it’s as simple as generating a popup message asking the user to update an app (Flash player or the like) so they can properly view the site’s’ content, and the user is doomed. Fortunately for users, big tech companies are actively looking for ways to curtail hacking activities, and the latest change Google is making to its Chrome browser seeks to address the exact phenomenon described above. The company has been testing a new redirect feature since version 70 of the browser and it’s now ready for prime time.  In the latest build, you can enable it as an “experimental feature” if you want to give it a test drive. The new feature is self-explanatory.  Chrome has an extensive database of likely typos.  When you make one, a drop-down panel will appear under the URL bar, which is a visual cue that you may be about to visit a site you hadn’t intended to.  Getting yourself redirected to the destination you intended from there is as simple as clicking. Ultimately, this is destined to become a...
In App Subscriptions Getting Crackdown From Apple

In App Subscriptions Getting Crackdown From Apple

One of the unfortunate truths about apps is that many developers use deceptive practices to try and confuse consumers. They try to mislead them about how much custom features cost and when in-app purchases occur. Many attempt to hide or obfuscate the particulars of subscription details. The thinking here is pretty simple:  First of all, a customer might not notice the charges on their payment card right away. If the amounts aren’t excessive, they may not be in a huge rush to shut them down.  In both cases, the result is more money in the developer’s pocket, which is of course what they’re hoping for. Apple, however, isn’t having it.  The company made some important revisions to its App Store guidelines that specify in clear, unmistakable terms exactly how in-app subscriptions and opt-ins should be presented to users. The new rules can be found in the company’s “Human Interface Guidelines” document, which is part of the App Store’s library of developer resources. The changes include straightforward, common sense things like: Developers must clearly present the true cost of any subscriptions offered, with the true cost being defined as the actual amount to be billed. Auto-renewable subscriptions must be opt-in, with no hidden or potentially deceptive clauses In cases where an app is free during a trial period and then to be billed when the trial period expires, the developer must prominently display the price to be paid and all of the other terms for renewal. It’s unfortunate that the company had to take steps to spell these kinds of things out explicitly.  One would hope that developers would play...
Hackers Are Hiding Code In Images To Fool Mac Users

Hackers Are Hiding Code In Images To Fool Mac Users

In the world of hacking, steganography ranks as one of the most difficult methodologies to detect. If you’re not familiar with the term, it is the practice of embedding executable code inside images, which makes it virtually impossible to detect. The reason is simple:  Virus scanners are built around the idea of searching for text strings with identifiable malicious characteristics and markers, but images aren’t that at all.  However, if carefully crafted, they can deliver the same poisoned payloads. Recently, Apple users have been experiencing this firsthand, courtesy of a group calling themselves ‘VeryMal,’ which has been targeting Apple users in exactly this way. They’ve been using code embedded in ad images to redirect users browsing the web away from legitimate sites and onto malicious ones, which serve as hosts for a variety of malware. Here’s a quick rundown of how it works: Hackers purchase ad space on a legitimate website The ad image they load contains code embedded in the image itself The embedded code runs a JavaScript, which checks to see if Apple fonts are supported, and verifies that the device is an Apple of some kind If the result of that query is positive, the script extracts the rest of the code from the image, which forces the user’s browser to navigate to a new URL as defined by the command code The user arrives at a page displaying popup ads, most commonly urging the installation of an update for software, in most cases Adobe Flash Player Of course, it’s not a Flash update at all, but whatever malware the hackers have seen fit to put...