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07 May 12 Adobe preps silent Flash updates for Macs


Computerworld - Adobe last week released a new beta of Flash Player that includes silent updates for Macs.

Adobe first included silent updates for OS X in the Flash Player beta a month ago; the version shipped Friday was tagged as “Beta 3.”

Adobe introduced silent updates for Flash Player on Windows in late March. At the time, the company committed to creating the same feature on OS X, but did not set a timetable.

As far as users are concerned, the Mac version is identical to the Windows tool: It pings Adobe’s servers every hour until it gets a response. If it reaches Adobe and finds no ready update, the tool re-checks the servers 24 hours later. Found updates, however, are applied entirely in the background, and do not display notices on the screen or require the user to take any action.

By default, Flash 11.3 has silent updates switched on, but users can change the setting to continue to receive on-screen alerts.

In the six weeks since Adobe released silent updates for Flash Player on Windows, it has shipped a pair of updates, including one last Friday that patched a “zero-day” vulnerability attackers were already exploiting.

Silent updates will not affect users who rely solely on Google’s Chrome, as that browser bundles Flash Player, and updates the Adobe software using its own background update service.

Another prominent feature in Flash Player 11.3 is a “sandboxed” plug-in for Mozilla’s Firefox on Windows Vista and Windows 7, second step in Adobe’s plan to stymie attacks that exploit unpatched Flash bugs.

A sandbox isolates processes on the computer, preventing or at least hindering malware that tries to push code onto a machine. Adobe sandboxed Flash Player for Chrome in late 2010 after working with Google engineers; the February release of a sandboxed plug-in for Firefox came after similar cooperation from Mozilla engineers.

Adobe plans to ship the final version of Flash Player 11.3 before the end of June.

Users who want to test drive the preview can download it from Adobe’s website.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at Twitter@gkeizer, or subscribe to Gregg’s RSS feed Keizer RSS. His e-mail address is gkeizer@ix.netcom.com.

Read more about Internet in Computerworld’s Internet Topic Center.

Article source: http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9226921/Adobe_preps_silent_Flash_updates_for_Macs

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04 May 12 Chrome top browser among those active on social media


A report from Shareaholic found that Chrome is increasingly popular among socially-connected web users.

According to data from Shareaholic, Google’s Chrome browser was the most popular among users who accessed content shared with Shareaholic’s tools. While this is a fairly limited subset of the internet, it demonstrates that Chrome has become increasingly popular among socially focused web users.

The numbers demonstrate that 29.13 percent of site traffic in April came from Gooogle Chrome users. This represents an increase of 0.28 percent over March’s 28.85 percent. April was the second consecutive month that Chrome ranked first on Shareaholic’s numbers.

For marketers, SEO campaigns should focus on Google algorithms due to Chrome’s growth.

Internet Explorer was second with 24.14 percent, which was a 0.45 percent decrease from last month. Moreover, Mozilla Firefox dropped 0.5 percent in April to 23.49 percent of site traffic.

Looking back to 2011, Chrome has picked up 7.76 percent, according to Shareaholic. Internet Explorer is down 8.74 percent and Firefox has fallen by 6.81 percent. More good news for Google came with Android’s browser accounting for 3.40 percent in April 2012. Last April, minimal traffic from the sites Shareaholic measured came from the operating system’s browser.

Brafton recently reported that Google has integrated Chrome’s desktop browser with a mobile app that will allow users to access their recent tabs, search and bookmarks on their Android devices.


Article source: http://www.brafton.com/news/chrome-top-browser-among-those-active-on-social-media

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02 May 12 Flashback Malware Robs Google of $10000/Day in Ad Revenue


password prompt displayed by flashback trojan

The authors of MacOS malware ‘Flashback’ are reaping an estimated $10,000 a day by through an additional component, Symantec reports. 

On Tuesday night Symantec reported that in addition to the much-reported spyware component, Flashback also installs an ad-clicking component that works in Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Apple Safari browsers.” 

Here’s how it works: when an infected user conducts a Google search, Google will return its normal search results. Flashback waits for someone to click on an ad, and once this happens the user is silently directed to another, irrelievant ad that generates revenue for the attackers.

As a result, Google doesn’t know someone has clicked into its client’s ad, and the client never knows its ad wasn’t delivered. Ultimately, Google’s advertising clients are paying for Flashback’s attackers to host ads on Google.

“There’s very little Google [or any other search engine] can do about it,” said Vikram Thakur, a principal security response manager at Symantec. “From their perspective, they’ve posted an ad that nobody has clicked on.” The only thing that can stop this is for infected users to clean their computers. 

Click fraud is a common component of Windows malware, but Thakur said this is the most sophisticated campaign he’s seen in MacOS.

Symantec said each click generates 0.08 cents for the attackers. Sounds like chump change, but if Flashback has truly infected around 650,000 Macs as reported by Dr. Web, Symantec said the authors are making upwards of $10,000 a day from click fraud. This estimate was calculated by cross-multiplying the results of another ad-clicking Trojan from last August, W32.Xpaj.B. 

Ad Click Evades Sinkhole
Thakur said the ad-clicking component is still active in infected Macs that have been sinkholed. Sinkholing blocks anticipated server domain names used by command-and-control servers, which prevents the Trojan from receiving instructions from their commander.

My coworker Neil Rubenking pointed out that the distinction with ad-serving servers is that they are not intrinsically bad—they aren’t typically picked up by security firms and don’t need to constantly change domain names.

Last week Dr. Web reported that Twitter was being used to disseminate domain names as well. If an infected machine receives an incorrectly formatted reply from a CC server, it searches Twitter for the real CC’s IP address. The Russian security firm began taking over domains in this category on April 13, but said Twitter blocked the account the next day. 

“These Guys Aren’t Amateurs”
To increase the lifecycle of this quick money-making scheme, Thakur said the malware authors introduced a “cool feature”: a whitelist. The whitelist is a list of search terms on which Flashback is NOT triggered; these are search terms typically bought into by high-profile clients like PayPal and Wikipedia who would likely notice immediately if their ads weren’t yielding clicks.

“These people aren’t amateurs,” said Thakur. “They knew exactly what needed to to be done to increase the lifecycle of this Trojan.” 

Article source: http://securitywatch.pcmag.com/none/297323-flashback-malware-robs-google-of-10-000-day-in-ad-revenue

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10 Apr 12 5 Business-Savvy Chrome Apps


Last year I made the switch to Google Chrome from Mozilla Firefox, and I haven’t looked back. Google’s browser feels faster, smarter, and more streamlined — which helps explain why it’s a top choice for business users.

Chrome also boasts hidden productivity benefits in the form of extensions (or “apps,” to use Chrome parlance).

Some of these are embedded links to external services, not Firefox-style plug-ins, but that’s a good thing: they don’t clutter up and slow down your browser.

Instead, they appear in your app list when you open a new tab. One click and you’re there.

I’ve rounded up five essential Chrome apps for business users. Take a look:

1. Scribble Still using Windows’ notepad to preserve thoughts and ideas? The horror. Scribble brings sticky notes to your browser, complete with alarms if you have time-sensitive notes.

Even better, it works offline, so your notes are accessible even when the Internet is not.

2. Shareaholic If you’re building your business by leveraging social networks (and you should be), you’ll love the convenience afforded by Shareaholic. With one click of this extension’s toolbar icon, you can share any Web page with your accounts on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and over a dozen others.

You can also click to share via e-mail, Digg, Reddit, and pretty much any other service with a social component.

3. Todo.ly A good task management tool should adapt to the way you work, not vice-versa. Todo.ly offers simplistic, straightforward, versatile task and project management. It reminds me a lot of the awesome WorkFlowy, but with a spiffier interface and a few more organization tools.

4. Vyew A great tool for teams, Vyew offers virtual “rooms” where you can share just about anything: documents, photos, a whiteboard, and so on. There’s also screen sharing, voice- and video-conferencing, public and private chat, and just about everything else a small-biz crew could need.

Amazingly, Vyew is free for up to 10 people.

5. Write Space You need to get that report written, stat, but you’re constantly distracted by everything else on your computer: e-mail, Twitter, those damn Angry Birds.

To achieve total focus, fire up Write Space — a full-screen text editor that blocks everything from view except a blank black page and white text. (Remember WordPerfect?) It saves persistently in the background, works offline, and rocks.

Okay, you’ve heard my picks. Now head to the comments and tell me what Chrome apps/extensions you find indispensable to running your business.

Article source: http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/253433/5_businesssavvy_chrome_apps.html

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09 Apr 12 5 Business-Savvy Chrome Apps


PC World - Last year I made the switch to Google Chrome from Mozilla Firefox, and I haven’t looked back. Google’s browser feels faster, smarter, and more streamlined — which helps explain why it’s a top choice for business users.

Chrome also boasts hidden productivity benefits in the form of extensions (or “apps,” to use Chrome parlance).

Some of these are embedded links to external services, not Firefox-style plug-ins, but that’s a good thing: they don’t clutter up and slow down your browser.

Instead, they appear in your app list when you open a new tab. One click and you’re there.

I’ve rounded up five essential Chrome apps for business users. Take a look:

1. Scribble Still using Windows’ notepad to preserve thoughts and ideas? The horror. Scribble brings sticky notes to your browser, complete with alarms if you have time-sensitive notes.

Even better, it works offline, so your notes are accessible even when the Internet is not.

2. Shareaholic If you’re building your business by leveraging social networks (and you should be), you’ll love the convenience afforded by Shareaholic. With one click of this extension’s toolbar icon, you can share any Web page with your accounts on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and over a dozen others.

You can also click to share via e-mail, Digg, Reddit, and pretty much any other service with a social component.

3. Todo.ly A good task management tool should adapt to the way you work, not vice-versa. Todo.ly offers simplistic, straightforward, versatile task and project management. It reminds me a lot of the awesome WorkFlowy, but with a spiffier interface and a few more organization tools.

4. Vyew A great tool for teams, Vyew offers virtual “rooms” where you can share just about anything: documents, photos, a whiteboard, and so on. There’s also screen sharing, voice- and video-conferencing, public and private chat, and just about everything else a small-biz crew could need.

Amazingly, Vyew is free for up to 10 people.

5. Write Space You need to get that report written, stat, but you’re constantly distracted by everything else on your computer: e-mail, Twitter, those damn Angry Birds.

To achieve total focus, fire up Write Space — a full-screen text editor that blocks everything from view except a blank black page and white text. (Remember WordPerfect?) It saves persistently in the background, works offline, and rocks.

Okay, you’ve heard my picks. Now head to the comments and tell me what Chrome apps/extensions you find indispensable to running your business.

Article source: http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9225977/5_Business_Savvy_Chrome_Apps

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05 Apr 12 Chrome, Internet Explorer Lead Browser Speed Tests


SAN FRANCISCO, CA–(Marketwire -04/05/12)- New Relic, Inc., the SaaS-based cloud application performance management provider, released today the results of its most recent study on browser speed and performance. Using data from its free Real User Monitoring feature, which monitors 5 billion page views a week, New Relic surveyed speed and usage for popular PC and mobile browsers including Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Windows Internet Explorer, and Apple Safari. According to the study, Internet Explorer 9 (IE 9) surpasses Google Chrome for speed on Windows platforms, while Chrome 13 on Mac offers the fastest overall browsing experience. BlackBerry Opera Mini provides the fastest mobile browsing experience, twice as fast as its iPad counterparts.

“Despite significant advances in browser technology, most users still have a sub-par web browsing experience,” said Chris Cook, president and COO at New Relic. “We found that the average page load time was still more than five seconds. Most people sense a delay on a web page after the blink of an eye. Waiting five seconds is still too long for any user.”

Highlights from New Relic’s study include:

  • Chrome 13 on Mac offers the quickest overall browsing experience, loading web pages in just 2.4 seconds.

  • IE 9 outperforms Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox on Windows platforms, loading web pages in 3 seconds compared to Chrome and Firefox’s 3.5 second page load speeds.

  • In mobile speed tests, the fastest experience was delivered by BlackBerry Opera Mini at 2.6 seconds, twice as fast as Safari 5.1 on iPad, its closest competitor.

  • The global average for page load speed is 5.5 seconds, only a slight improvement from last year’s average of 6 seconds.

To view the full results of the study, visit:
http://blog.newrelic.com/2012/04/05/fastest-browsers/

About Real User Monitoring
The data for the study was gathered using New Relic’s Real User Monitoring (RUM), a technology that provides real-time data on user experience directly from the browser. The data was compiled on March 22, 2012 between the hours of 12 noon and 3 pm PT, at which time New Relic monitored an average of 694,000 page views per minute. New Relic monitors over 5 billion page loads each week, across 20,000 active accounts.

Online Resources

About New Relic
New Relic, Inc. is the all-in-one web application performance management provider for the cloud and the datacenter. Its SaaS solution, which combines real user monitoring, application monitoring, and availability monitoring in a single solution built from the ground up, changes the way developers and operations teams manage web application performance in real-time. More than 20,000 organizations use New Relic to optimize over 8 billion transactions in production each day. New Relic also partners with leading cloud management, platform and hosting vendors to provide their customers with instant visibility into the performance of deployed applications. New Relic is a private company headquartered in San Francisco, Ca. New Relic is a registered trademark of New Relic, Inc. To learn more, www.newrelic.com.

Article source: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/chrome-internet-explorer-lead-browser-130000070.html

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05 Apr 12 Mass. company study finds Google Chrome has poorest security


A recent study released by iViZ Security, a testing service for Web applications founded by Bikash Barai and Nilanjan De, reported that, of the major Web browsers, Chrome had the most “critical vulnerabilities” with 152. Mozilla Firefox followed with 68 “critical vulnerabilities,” followed by Microsoft Internet Explorer (31) and Apple Safari (29).

The findings were part of a report titled “Security Comparison of Browsers: An Independent Report” that came as a result of in-depth analysis carried out by iViZ research labs covering all major browsers.

“Almost everybody uses browser for Web-surfing, social-networking and doing financial transactions over the Web. Perhaps that’s why Web browsers are most frequently targeted by hackers,” said Barai, CEO of iViZ. “There have been two reports out on a similar topic in past few months, but they were funded by different browser vendors and not surprisingly the vendor who funded the study came out on top. So at iViZ, we decided to independently check the vulnerabilities discovered in popular browsers.”

Summarizing the report, Jitendra Chauhan, who headed the research, said: “The vulnerabilities discovered should not be the sole judgment criteria. There are a multiple factors like security architecture, ease of exploitation, impact of vulnerability, window of exposure and several others. [For example] Chrome has an innovative security architecture with sandboxing capability that mitigates risk of direct code execution. This report highlights some of the interesting facts about browser security.”

Headquartered in Sudbury, Mass., iViZ Security provides a cloud-based penetration testing service for Web applications. Unlike scanners which lack in quality and consultants who are expensive, iViZ delivers consultant grade quality testing in a software-as-a-service based, cost-effective, subscription model, the company said.

The company has more than 300 customers.

Co-founder De, serves as iViZ chief scientific officer and director.

Article source: http://www.indusbusinessjournal.com/ME2/dirmod.asp?sid=&nm=&type=Publishing&mod=Publications%3A%3AArticle&mid=8F3A7027421841978F18BE895F87F791&tier=4&id=90D7F74294A2453CAC7ADCFFFBF8DB17

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23 Mar 12 Chrome trumped Internet Explorer as most used browser over weekend


Google Chrome browser briefly surpassed Internet Explorer as the most used browser on the web at the weekend based on data compiled by StatCounter, and although the news may have taken some by surprise the writing has been on the wall for some time.

Since its public release in late 2008, Chrome has quickly begun to supplant Mozilla Firefox as the leading alternative to IE, which as recently as mid-2007 commanded fully two-thirds of the browser marketplace, according to statistics from W3Counter.

Nevertheless, there are some clear caveats to Chrome’s achievement. For one thing, the browser’s pre-loading of web pages based on search results is interpreted by some measurements as a page view, inflating its apparent usage totals.

Additionally, the timing of Chrome’s apparent passage of IE is significant, with ZDNet blogger Zack Whittaker noting that differences between home and work browser use likely favour Microsoft’s program. (Whittaker also pointed out that Firefox and Chrome have both surpassed IE in the European market.)

While there were factors mitigating the scale of the victory won by Chrome, however, there were also obstacles for it to overcome. Google recently penalised the browser’s search engine rankings after admitting that paid links were used to boost its visibility. This slowed Chrome’s market share growth, but clearly did not halt it.

Article source: http://rss.feedsportal.com/c/270/f/470440/s/1db0e833/l/0Lnews0Btechworld0N0Capplications0C33463540Cchrome0Etrumped0Einternet0Eexplorer0Eas0Emost0Eused0Ebrowser0Eover0Eweekend0C0Dolo0Frss/story01.htm

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03 Mar 12 Google's Chrome drops share for second straight month


Computerworld - The browser battle returned to a kind of normalcy last month as Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE), which had posted its largest-ever share increase in January, declined slightly in February.

And Google’s Chrome fell for the second straight month in Web metrics firm Net Application’s statistics as the company acknowledged it has been over-counting that browser’s share for months.

Chrome’s pre-rendering feature — where the browser loads pages in the background that the user may view — kicked off last August with version 13, and was enhanced in Chrome 17 that launched about a month ago.

As users type in search strings. whether at Google.com or in the browser’s combined address bar/search field, dubbed the “omnibox,” Google loads one or more hidden pages that it thinks the user will select from the ensuing search links.

Net Applications admitted that it had given Chrome a larger share than the browser deserved. “[Pre-rendering] creates unviewed visits that should not be counted in Chrome’s usage share,” said Net Applications on its website yesterday.

Starting with the data from February, Net Applications has adjusted Chrome’s share — which is derived from the page views attributed to the browser — by tossing aside unused pre-loaded pages and counting only those the user actually sees.

“Pre-rendering in February 2012 accounted for 4.3% of Chrome’s daily unique visitors,” said Net Applications.

Chrome is the only major browser that offers pre-rendering.

Under the new methodology, Chrome’s share fell about one half of a percentage point to end February with 18.9%, off its peak of 19.1% last December. The browser remained in the No. 3 slot, behind both IE and Mozilla’s Firefox.

Last month, Net Applications linked Chrome’s decline to Google’s January decision to demote the PageRank — a rating Google assigns based on how many other sites link to a URL — for Chrome’s download site after it confirmed a marketing campaign had violated the company’s own rules against paid links.

At the time, Google said it would punish its own browser with a 60-day PageRank demotion; the time-out ends in a few days, after which Google will presumably restore the download page’s prominence in search results for “browser.”

More: Browser Topic Center

Article source: http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9224841/Google_s_Chrome_drops_share_for_second_straight_month

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03 Mar 12 Google’s Chrome drops share for second straight month


Computerworld - The browser battle returned to a kind of normalcy last month as Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE), which had posted its largest-ever share increase in January, declined slightly in February.

And Google’s Chrome fell for the second straight month in Web metrics firm Net Application’s statistics as the company acknowledged it has been over-counting that browser’s share for months.

Chrome’s pre-rendering feature — where the browser loads pages in the background that the user may view — kicked off last August with version 13, and was enhanced in Chrome 17 that launched about a month ago.

As users type in search strings. whether at Google.com or in the browser’s combined address bar/search field, dubbed the “omnibox,” Google loads one or more hidden pages that it thinks the user will select from the ensuing search links.

Net Applications admitted that it had given Chrome a larger share than the browser deserved. “[Pre-rendering] creates unviewed visits that should not be counted in Chrome’s usage share,” said Net Applications on its website yesterday.

Starting with the data from February, Net Applications has adjusted Chrome’s share — which is derived from the page views attributed to the browser — by tossing aside unused pre-loaded pages and counting only those the user actually sees.

“Pre-rendering in February 2012 accounted for 4.3% of Chrome’s daily unique visitors,” said Net Applications.

Chrome is the only major browser that offers pre-rendering.

Under the new methodology, Chrome’s share fell about one half of a percentage point to end February with 18.9%, off its peak of 19.1% last December. The browser remained in the No. 3 slot, behind both IE and Mozilla’s Firefox.

Last month, Net Applications linked Chrome’s decline to Google’s January decision to demote the PageRank — a rating Google assigns based on how many other sites link to a URL — for Chrome’s download site after it confirmed a marketing campaign had violated the company’s own rules against paid links.

At the time, Google said it would punish its own browser with a 60-day PageRank demotion; the time-out ends in a few days, after which Google will presumably restore the download page’s prominence in search results for “browser.”

More: Browser Topic Center

Article source: http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9224841/Google_s_Chrome_drops_share_for_second_straight_month

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