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Cybercrime is no longer exclusive to PCs and Macs, with hacks, spam, malware and trojans hitting smartphones, tablets and cloud storage services too. No-one knows this better than Costin Raiu of the security specialists at Kaspersky Lab. As the company's Director of Global Research and Analysis Team, he's got over ten years worth of computer and mobile security knowledge. We caught up with him at the InfoSec conference in London's Earls Court today and had a chat about the increased threat from smartphone hackers, social networking spam and the growing danger of international cyber warfare.

We associate malware and viruses most closely with desktop computing, but we're increasingly told that smartphone platforms are vulnerable too. Is there any particular mobile OS that is especially vulnerable?

There are four strong players on the market in terms of mobile platforms; Google with Android, Apple's iOS, RIM's BlackBerry OS, and with Nokia's Symbian OS effectively dead, Microsoft's Windows Phone 7. In my opinion Android will become the standard operating system in smartphones, but has a few quirks that makes it attractive not only to users but malware creators too.

Firstly, it's very open, secondly it's well documented in terms of the best ways to make applications for it, and thirdly has security vulnerabilities, especially in older Android versions. The problem here is that Google left the responsibility of patching Android largely to the carriers or smartphone developers. Looking back over past years, patching has always been a weak point of operating systems and third party software, and I have a feeling this will be a problem for Android as well because it's not very easy to update the operating system. There will always be flaws and vulnerabilities that will be exploited by hackers.

Will the vulnerabilities of mobile operating systems extend into security flaws with tablet devices then?

Yes. Netbooks being replaced by tablets seems to be the trend for the future. I believe that with Android becoming more and more popular, growing in popularity on tablet devices too, we're going to see more and more threats here. Do we need protection? I believe so. What is different with Android is maybe the kind of protection that is necessary is different here. Applications bought from the Android Market come with a prerequisite set of permissions, and there's no easy way to allow only certain permissions to be given to an app without not installing it altogether. In the near future Android security needs to focus on application control, and restricting the length in which applications can access data on your tablet or mobile phone.

More and more of our personal data is stored on a wider number of sources online, sometimes without our knowledge. Should we be concerned with how we safeguard our cloud-stored data?

Yeah, I think this is another interesting development. For instance, Google recently launched version 10 of Google Chrome which has the feature to synchronise passwords to the cloud, meaning you don't need to enter passwords for things like Facebook every time you use a different computer running that browser. It's my feeling that Google and other big cloud providers are not doing a very good job at informing the user as to the extent to which they are storing user data into the cloud.

Interestingly, Twitter recently settled with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about the fact that they put their users at risk by not providing a decent level of security. The fact that Twitter agreed to implement HTTPS encryption is not only a giant "Win" for consumers, but also shows that we need a greater level of security when dealing with social media in general. Remember, it's not only about ensuring that companies do their best to protect our data, but that the connection sending the data back and forth is secure too.

Are the social networks doing enough to educate users as to how to identify dodgy links and phishing scams?

The FTC ruling shows that at least Twitter aren't doing enough, but this problem goes back several years. MySpace for instance didn't have secure log-in, with passwords going without encryption over Wi-Fi networks and the like for anyone to steal. All the social networks could be doing more about it, especially in terms of making users aware of the risks. But the FTC did a wonderful job, and it's exciting that Twitter understood the problems and took the necessary steps to improve their security.

So the more general authorities are now taking cybercrime more seriously too?

Yes. Security companies are pretty limited in the amount of things they can do. We can tell the big players that they aren't fully secure, but it takes more than that to make them change their ways. Governments have a very important role here, not just in the US but all around the world.

Kaspersky Labs have previously stated that the recent Stuxnet worm could only have been implemented with "nation/state" support. What does this tell us about international cyber security in relation to foreign policy?

Stuxnet is a "one-of-a-kind" malware, totally different to anything we've seen before. We thought it couldn't be unique but we haven't been able to find anything similar. Stuxnet is opening the door to a new kind of security threat which indicates the existence of cyber way at the highest possible level within super powers. In the future we're going to see more of this as I believe it's a very cheap and effective way of attacking major targets. The evidence we've seen seems to indicate Stuxnet was successful in gaining the access it needed. Attacking an industrial installation with physical force is a lot more expensive and more complicated.

What sorts of security systems do you have planned for the future?

In terms of future Kaspersky Lab software we're looking into three new, very interesting directions for our products, be it in cloud and virtualisation, whitelisting and reputation or mobile software. Data Leakage Prevention is also important now; it's a lot more easy for you to lose your tablet or mobile phone than it is to misplace your desktop PC! A really interesting product we're looking to launch this year is for VMWare Visual; we've had a lot of talks with our customers and bigger cloud providers and they've all expressed an interest in having a security product that can be worked into their data centres.

OK to round things up then; if you could give three tips as to how Tech Digest readers can protect their data today, at as little cost as possible, what would they be?

In order of importance, firstly they should update their operating systems; Android, Windows, Mac OSX, Linux, whatever. I know this can be quite painful, but it's very, very important.

The second on is to make sure they don't use pirate software. A lot of pirate software, particularly with Mac OS, come loaded with trojans. This can also be extended to pirate movies; recently we've seen "movies" on pirate torrent websites where the files aren't actually real videos. Instead they claim the user doesn't have the proper codec to view the film, directing them to download it from unsafe websites. When they download it obviously their machines get infected. So staying away from pirate sources in general is my second free tip!

The third tip has to do with user mentality. A lot of things happen because users aren't aware of security threats, so they click on strange links or don't properly screen links that friends have sent purely because they trust their pals, even if they're not so sure of the source. It's about using common sense and being careful if you spot unusual messages from your friends or social network contacts. If you see strange applications trying to access your profile on Twitter or Facebook, just don't allow them unless you're absolutely sure they're approved! So that's my three tips for your readers!

Cool, thank you very much Costin!

No problem.

Testers play with Steam for Mac - Video

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Getting hold of computer gaming software has never been all that easy for Mac gamers, often having to wait ages for a slim chance of even the biggest titles hitting Apple's computers. However, the news that popular digital distribution platform Steam is headed to the Mac may well revolutionise that, with the above clip the first showing testers trying out the platform on Mac.

Steam for the Mac OS X is currently in private beta, meaning only a select few are currently able to try it out. However, the above video is a good indication of what to expect once it launches for the masses.

While retaining the green/grey look PC users have grown familiar with, the top row of buttons has changed slightly, with larger fonts used for "Store", "Library", "News" and "Community" than its PC counterpart. Other than that though it looks pretty much identical at this stage.

Steam for Mac was due to launch in April, and while makers Valve have about a week to make good on that promise, it's looking unlikely now. But the video shows that things seem to be coming along nicely at least, so fingers crossed.

Via: 9to5Mac


Adobe has just announced the launch of Creative Suite 5, bringing with it a wealth of updated tools for many designer's software package of choice. Click here for a run-down of what's new.

There are over 250 new updates to Adobe Photoshop alone. As well as making the jump to 64-bit for Mac users, there will now also be tools for making it simpler to quickly detect an image's border when cutting or applying effects to it, as well as a Corel Paint like colour-mixing tool.

As well as updated versions of Illustrator, Dreamweaver and Flash in the Web Premium version of the package, there is also a brand new program called Flash Catalyst. This is designed to simplify the process for designers looking to jump from print to interactive design. Flash itself will also have the ability to convert Flash animations into HTML5 Canvas code.

There will also be a Packager for iPhone application in Creative Suite 5, but given the iPhone's new OS 4 and Apple's decision to ban the conversion of non-native apps from the App Store, it may prove less useful than once imagined.

Look to see Creative Suite 5 hitting shelves and digital downloads within a month's time.

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Canon are set to launch the imageFORMULA P-150 portable duplex scanner on Monday 9th November, and Tech Digest were on hand at Canon HQ today to have a test.

Weighing less than a bag of sugar, the P-150 is incredibly compact. It measures up at 280 x 95 x 40 mm when closed, folding out to 280 x 222.7 x 202.2 mm to reveal the loading tray. It'd easily fit in a hand-bag or "man-bag", and is light enough to not be too much of a hassle when travelling.

Despite its size, the imageFORMULA P-150 packs a lot of punch for a scanner so small. Capable of 15 pages per minute/30 image per minute duplex scanning in black and white and 10 ppm/10 ipm in full colour, it churns through paper work at a pretty pace.

Canon imageFORMULA P-150

In a nice touch, the P-150 is fully powered by USB, and thanks to built in software can be plugged into any PC and used instantly, without the need to install any extra programs.

For the high-volume user, the P-150 will be compatible with Therefore software, offering remote management and streamlined indexing of scanned items. An Office-style UI will make the management system instantly familiar to most users.

According to Canon, 23% of office space is filled with filing cabinets. With the imageFormula P-150 not much bigger than a handheld gaming console, it could be a great solution for the space-conscious.

Look for a full Tech Digest review on the imageFORMULA P-150 early next week.

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What? Hasn't the OS X versus Windows debate died out yet?

'fraid not, and it's not likely to either.

So, without further ado, here are ten superb reasons why you should switch to Mac OS X.

1. Manage your windows better

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No, not that Windows (though it's worth noting that you can still run Windows applications on a Mac with the right bit of software).

One of the biggest headaches on any computer desktop is the number of application windows you have to manage all the time.

Sure, there's a minimise feature and you can always close windows you no longer need, but Mac OS X has some very elegant ways of managing the clutter of multiple windows with just a few keystrokes.

There's Exposé which shows you all the windows you have open and lets you switch easily between them (you can even drag and drop items between windows this way) or alternatively clears everything out of the way so you can see the desktop behind.

Combine this with Spaces which lets you have multiple virtual desktops and you have a very slick window management system that makes it easier to accomplish tasks rather than wrestling with windows.

Sure, Windows can do some of this, but not as well.

google-chrome-logo.jpgGoogle's Chrome browser doesn't have a massive marketshare, but those who use it love it very dearly thanks to its great UI and blazing speed. At the moment it's Windows-only, however recent videos posted by Google indicate that a Mac client is making good progress.

Chromium is the open source project that's behind the Chrome browser. The latest iteration of the source code for OS X is making good progress, as you can see in the video below:


Unlike the last video of the software in action, now you can actually click on the screen, load websites, and follow links. Crazy, eh? Who on earth would want to do that? It's still crashing a lot, but at least Google's getting closer to a working OS X port.

(via Ars Technica)

osx-netbook-chart.jpgOkay, hold up. You know that netbook of yours? With the tiny screen, and CD drive? What you wanna do with that, right, is put a banging donk on it. And once you've finished, you might think about installing OS X.

Rob Beschizza over at BoingBoing Gadgets has put together an awesome compatibility chart of which bits work with which netbooks on OS X.

Of course, it goes without saying that you're going to need a dodgy copy of OS X, and you'll need to be pretty comfortable with using the command line, too. The best little machines for the job? The Dell Mini 9 and the MSI Wind.

OS X Compatibility Chart

Related posts: Apple exec unintentially leaks new OS X 'Snow Leopard' release date | Psystar clones Apple again with OS X ready OpenServe 1100 and 2400

Attention Microsoft! Apple has patented a new thing! There'll be emergency meetings going on in Microsoft's Seattle HQ today, thanks to internet scavengers tracking down some 3D desktop ideas Apple's been toying with. Which means MS is going to have to start pretending it actually had the idea six years ago.

The patented potential "Multi-Dimensional Desktop" layout looks a little bewildering compared to Apple's traditional locked-down simplicity, but the concept of having all your documents sitting behind each other in a little line waiting to be flipped through seems decent enough. It could work. Here's how it looks. The finished thing will probably be in colour, if it ever comes out.

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it also makes your monitor look like you're sitting at the back of a cinema. That'll sell it to the mass market.

(Via MacRumours)

Related posts: Misleading iAdverts binned | Apple's virus shocker

fake-steve-jobs-blog-closes.jpgIt was the fake blog that spawned a thousand - or at least two we can think of - imitators, but Fake Steve Jobs has now sadly passed.

Outed as being the handiwork of writer Dan Lyons, who was the editor of business magazine Forbes, the site was a rather brutal picture of beloved Steve. It painted him as a self-obsessed loudmouth who lurched from juice bar to coffee shop, trampling the little people who got in his way. But it is no more.

In a post on FSJ, Dan says "I'm sorry that the blog is fizzling out with yet more screwups and confusion. But I suppose it's somehow appropriate, too." He then encourages readers to spend $25 buying a "greatest hits" book he's had made up of a select few FSJ posts. Or you could just print it out. Or forget about it. It wasn't that good.

(Via Fake Steve)

Related posts: "Steve Jobs Air" | Steve's abusive PR shame moment

overclockingapple2.jpgIn the fight for superiority, PC users trumpet the power to customise, hack and bully their machines into doing their will. Macs are not so pliable but at least now you can overclock them.

German site ZDNet.de has developed a tool creatively named, "ZDNet Clock" that will allow you to speed up OS X 10.5.x (Leopard) based computers.

Apple reveals 'Steve Jobs Air'

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The new streamlined Steve Jobs Air comes in the same smart casual denin jeans and sleek dark top design we've come to know and love, but now - thanks to a rigorous low-carb diet - Apple's new Steve Jobs Air weighs in around 15 pounds lighter!

Pictured below - the original bulky Steve Jobs 1.0 (left) and the slimmer Steve Jobs Air:

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Sadly, this means the new Steve Jobs Air is incompatible with previous Steve Jobs version 1.0 accessories. Which means you will have to rebuy all your Steve Jobs jumpers, jeans and underpants if you want them to work on the Jobs Air.

Fortunately, the feet of the Steve Jobs Air have remained the same size, so existing Steve Jobs socks and shoes are 100% compatible with the Steve Jobs Air.

(Via Valleywag)

Related posts: SJ/OJ conspiracy nutjob | Steve Jobs cosplay

os-x-george-clooney.jpgAfter Apple confirmed the release of their new operating system, OS X Snow Leopard, on Monday, it occurred to us at TD that pretty soon Steve Jobs is going to run out of big cats to name his products after.

He's gone through Cheetah, Puma, Jaguar, Panther, Tiger and Leopard already and, with only Lion left, he's going to have to move on to some different animals and eventually some other ideas altogether. So, knowing the Apple Master like we do, this is the Tech Digest Top 10 of what Apple will call their operating system next:

1.) OS X Amoeba - retro version harking back to the original Mac OSs

2.) OS X Badger - constantly double-checking with users for every single operation

3.) OS X Meerkat - stripped down, sleek and nimble Linux-like version

4.) OS XXY Hermaphrodite - the one that costs twice as much with no improvements at all - go fuck yourself

5.) OS X George Clooney - heavy on design, best looking version; one for the ladies

snow-leopard-apple.jpgDon't you love that with Apple naming their latest OS 'Snow Leopard', we have an excuse to post cute pictures of snow leopard cubs on Tech Digest?

Apple has confirmed details of OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, which will be launched at the beginning of 2009. What we know so far is that it will be mostly minor tweaks to the current OS, including optimisation for multi-core processors, it will have a new QuickTime X platform, be GPU-friendly, and will support RAM of up to 16TB. Although whoever has 16TB of RAM, I don't know. Safari, Apple's browser, will be 53% faster where JavaScript is concerned

Snow Leopard

Related posts: Snow Leopard announced by Jobs | Five reasons why the iPhone 3G isn't perfect

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Here we go with Steve Jobs' Keynote Speech at Apple's WWDC08 in San Francisco.

All times are BST (GMT+1/PDT+8), entries in reverse chronological order.

1950: All done.

1950: Steve concluding with talk about WWDC08. Go developers, get stuck in to the new iPhone!

More affordable iPhone

1944: More affordable: iPhone 3G 8GB will cost $199, 16GB for $299, also available in white.

Rolling out on July 11th to 22 countries, for a max of 199 all around the world (damn exchange rates)

iPhone worldwide

70 countries over next few months.

mac_os_x_leopard_box.jpgEight months or so after initial launch, Apple has released the third version of its Leopard operating system (OS X 10.5.3).

It's a hefty download, and depending on what machine you have and how much needs to be updated, could require a 400MB file to be downloaded. Hope that broadband connection is fired up and ready to go.

If you want more than my first day Leopard review, here's a selection of opinion from the mainstream media:

Mark Kellner at The Washington Times writes that Leopard is "something any Mac user will want to have".

Edward Mendelson at PC Magazine gives a fairly decent review, though it's amusing that he wants to wait until 2008 to buy a new Mac so he can run Microsoft Word. Why??

Ryan Faas at Computerworld has reviewed Time Machine, saying that it's "so simple, there's no Step 3".

Dwight Silverman at Chron.com says: "If I am using both the older operating system and the newer one, do I miss the latter when I'm using the former? The answer, if everything has come together as it should, is yes. And that's definitely the case with Mac OS X 10.5, better known as Leopard."

Related posts
OS X Leopard Watch: 2m in first weekend, Blue Screen of Death, Leopard on PC, Stacks Feature Request, Entry-Level Requirements
OS X Leopard First Day Review

mac_os_x_leopard_box.jpgYour twice weekly roundup of all things OS X Leopard.

Two million copies of Leopard sold in first weekend

Apple today announced that, globally, it sold or delivered over two million copies of its latest operating system since it launched last Friday at 6pm (local time) around the world.

That makes it Apple's most successful OS release in history, a record previously held by Tiger.

“Early indications are that Leopard will be a huge hit with customers,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “Leopard’s innovative features are getting great reviews and making more people than ever think about switching to the Mac.”

"Blue Screen of Death" installation problems

Apple has confirmed what a number of the Apple faithful have already discovered — some installations of Leopard have gone wrong, causing a blue screen to be displayed on startup, and nothing else.

The finger of blame has been pointed at some third-party applications, such as Unsanity's Application Enhancer, though that seems to be largely unsubstantiated at present.

More importantly, the solution involves either performing an "Archive and Install" installation, or forcing the command line to appear during boot up in order to remove problematic software.

Apple's official support document is here

Leopard on a PC

It's not at all surprising that, despite any protection Apple may have added to Leopard, the operating system has found its way onto non-Apple PCs.

Being a hack, it's not for the fainthearted, but it does seem possible. If the list of "things you will need", which includes "the 9a581 GM DVD image", scares you at all, then perhaps you're better off avoiding this hack.

It's available here (via Information Week)

mac_os_x_leopard_box.jpgAfter having played around with Apple's latest operating system for the past twelve hours or so, here are my initial thoughts on Leopard (10.5).

Bear in mind that I haven't tested everything extensively (some things I haven't set up at all yet), but it should give you an overall flavour for the new features, and perhaps help you decide whether it's worth upgrading yet.

FUNCTIONS AND APPLICATIONS

I've listed the main applications and functions, as touted by Apple, in alphabetical order, with my thoughts on each. I'll talk about the overall experience in the next section. If you just can't wait, jump to the the final overview or (very short) conclusion.

Automator

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For all its promise, I never really made much use of the Automator in Tiger. Apple claims to have updated the Leopard version to make it easier to build automated tasks. Included is a "Watch Me" function which can be used to record a set of actions, in real time, and have them saved for later playback.

There are certainly a lot more options available, though in the main the best use of it, at present, will still come from being heavily reliant on Apple's own software -- Safari, Pages, Keynote, iTunes, and so on. Great if you're totally at home with these applications, but not so great if you want to throw Firefox, Word, or any number of other bits of software into the mix.

Promising, but (at least to me) still just that little bit too much effort.

Boot Camp

I've never had a desire to run Windows on my Mac -- I have access to a PC should I need it. I looked at installing XP, just to test, but wasn't comfortable messing about with partitions. Until I add another, larger hard drive, this will remain unused.

Hats off to Apple for making it available, though, particularly for the increasing number of PC users who have switched to the Mac and want/need access to Windows.

maclogo.jpgFor Tech Digest's latest information about the UK launch of Apple's OS X 10.5 Leopard, bookmark this post and check back frequently.

Hint: If you find operating systems, and the liveblogging of them, immensely boring, then you're advised not to continue reading this post. You've been warned!

11.10pm: Flagging a bit. Best bet is to stop the "live blog" and review some of the features in more depth tomorrow.

10.25pm: Startup is very quick now - almost straight to login screen
10.10pm: Quick Look is great - you can open multiple documents of different types and have them all there, without the original applications having to open, and just leaf between them. Complete PDFs, Excel spreadsheets. Brilliant.

Will have to check what applications (if not all) it supports. Seems very speedy, too, loaded things pretty quick. Impressed.

10.01pm: Application "Help" drop down menus now include a Spotlight-style search box, which appears to then only search in that application. It's persistent (i.e. you type something and it searches, leave the menu, go back to it, the results are still there, but when there are results, the other normal menu items disappear) Not sure if I like that yet.

10.00pm: Snitter (a desktop client for Twitter) doesn't work under Leopard.

9.35pm: Skype had me worried, complained about a wrong password, think the Keychain has been updated, but it's in now. Not tried to use yet.

9.32pm: Mail has an RSS feed section now - not sure that'll replace Google Reader but we'll see.

9.30pm: Spotlight now indexes safari history items, which I don't recall it doing before.

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Liveblogging/Twittering here

Today's the day that Mac fanatics around the world have been waiting for — OS X 10.5 (Leopard) arrives.

We feel a little stuck in the middle here in the UK. Apple's operating system launches are one of the few times that Australia get anything ahead of us, so happy early-adopting Aussie Mac fans already have hold of the new system.

You'd think we'd be beating America, too — by at least five hours — but of course those jammy people our friends at Engadget have already sneaked an early release copy.

We would've got away with it if it weren't for those pesky kids.

Fact is, Apple UK didn't deem us worthy enough to get us a copy of OS X ahead of time (or maybe the courier got lost, I don't know), so in about seven hours time you'll be treated to "the real deal".

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