Day: June 8, 2011
Australian IT company Kogan has launched the world’s first computer based on Google’s new Chromium OS, stealing a march on PC giants Acer and Samsung, Google Chromebook products won’t launch until 15th June.
Tech pundits have been eagerly awaiting machines based on Google’s Chromium open-source operating system, which was first announced in July 2009. Linux-based Chromium is a browser-based OS designed to work on relatively low-spec computers by utilising cloud-based computing resources.
Details of Kogan’s device, which begins shipping tomorrow in the UK and Australia, come after the company’s CEO, Ruslan Kogan, hinted at the company’s plans to launch a Chromebook computer in an exclusive interview last month with thinq_.
The budget Agora 12in ultra-portable laptop sells for a very pocket-friendly £269, and while its 1.3GHz Intel Celeron processor is more budget-conscious than high-performance, the machine packs in a surprisingly high spec for the price.
Apple founder Steve Jobs announced a free service Monday that allows consumers to store vast amounts of music, video, photos and documents on the Web, one of several emerging “cloud” computing offerings that are diminishing the need for a computer.
Once a pioneer of the personal computer, Jobs forecast that his new iCloud service would replace the PC as the hub for people’s multimedia needs, making it far easier for them to gain access to their digital libraries on phones, tablets and a multitude of other devices that have an Internet connection. more
Apple had some big announcements yesterday. Among them was the introduction of iCloud. iCloud is a new computing service which not only offers online storage, but streaming of movies, TV shows and music to computers and mobile devices. Today’s graphic is an illustrated flow chart explaining cloud computing, features of Apple’s iCloud service and a chart detailing percentages of recording licenses held by Apple with major music publishers. Do you plan on using iCloud?
Watch the WWDC keynote.
Paul Ducklin of Sophos Australia joined me for the Chet Chat this week to talk about the weeks news. We also made some time at the end for the C-word (C-L-O-U-D).
First we talked about the large quantity of recent data breaches, primarily Sony. Paul had some rather good advice to those who think this might be a fun way to make a political statement… Don’t do it.
We also discussed whether the recent barrage of Mac malware has been a call for OS X users to take their heads out of the sand when it comes to securing their computers.
We had some feedback last week about a post Paul had made about a talk he was about to give on cloud security and our reader was disappointed that they weren’t in Sydney and would not be able to attend. This week we spent a few minutes discussing the cloud and ways it introduces risk and how you might use it more safely.
More Mac scareware appeared overnight, with the cybercrooks following the same sort of strategy which has worked so well on Windows: regularly change the look and feel of the fake anti-virus software; use legitimate-sounding brand names (or steal genuine product names); stick to a price-point between $50 and $100; keep the fear factor high; but keep the core programming very similar so development costs are negligible.
Scareware, or fake anti-virus, is fake security software which pretends to find dangerous security threats – such as viruses – on your computer. The initial scan is free, but if you want to clean up the fraudulently-reported “threats”, you need to pay.
Once you’ve paid, the scareware stops lying to you about the non-existent threats, as though it really did clean them up. This means that many victims of this sort of fraud don’t even realise they’ve been duped. Until next time.
These latest OS X scareware variants come from the MacDefender stable, though they identify themselves during startup as Mac Shield:
Once activated, the software pretends to look through your files, pretends to find malware, and invites you to clean up:
But the cleanup isn’t free – you’re required to register:
Registration means payment. The minimum you can get away with is $59.95. But for just $40 more, you can get a lifetime software licence and lifetime support – which would be a good deal, were it not for the fact that the software is completely fraudulent, that the “lifetime” of the software ends tomorrow when the crooks move on to the next bogus brand name, and that there’s nothing to support, since there was no malware in the first place.
You even get a 30-day money back guarantee. Good luck claiming it.
Here are some top anti-scareware tips for Apple users:
* If you use Safari, turn OFF the open “safe” files after downloadingoption. This stops files such as the ZIP-based installers favoured by scareware authors from running automatically if you accidentally click their links.
* Don’t rely on Apple’s built-in XProtect malware detector. It’s better than nothing, but it only detects viruses using basic techniques, and under a limited set of conditions. For example, malware on a USB key would go unnoticed, as would malware already on your Mac. And it only updates once in 24 hours, which probably isn’t enough any more.
* Install genuine anti-virus software. Ironically, the Apple App Store is a bad place to look – any anti-virus sold via the App Store is required by Apple’s rules to exclude the kernel-based filtering component (known as a real-time or on-access scanner) needed for reliable virus prevention.
* Religiously refuse any anti-malware software which offers a free scan but forces you to pay for cleanup. Reputable brands don’t do this – an anti-virus evaluation should let you try out detection and disinfection before you buy.
In a recent Sophos poll, 89% of respondentssaid they’d recommend their Mac-owning friends and family to use anti-virus software. Why not take their advice, and get Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac Home Edition today?
It’s free – no registration, no signup, and no password needed. It detects, prevents and cleans up malware infections.
Note: the Mac Shield scareware described here was detected proactively by Sophos Anti-Virus as OSX/FakeAV-DWN. Apple subsequently added detection to the XProtect system, using the name “OSX.MacDefender.F”.