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FEB
18

Rietspoof malware spreads via Facebook Messenger and Skype spam

Avast security researchers have discovered a new malware strain named Rietspoof that's currently being spread to victims via instant messaging clients such as Facebook Messenger and Skype.

In a report published over the weekend, researchers described this new threat as a "multi-stage malware," that was first spotted in August 2018, but which was largely ignored until a noticeable uptick in distribution efforts last month.

Rietspoof's main role is to infect victims, gain persistence on infected hosts, and then download other malware strains --depending on the orders it receives from a central command & control (C&C) server.

Persistence is gained by the malware by placing an LNK (shortcut) file in the Windows /Startup folder. This is a noisy operation because most antivirus products know to keep an eye on this folder, but Avast says Rietspoof is also signed with legitimate certificates, allowing the malware to bypass security checks.

The infection routine is made up of four different stages --described in greater detail in the Avast write-up here. The actual Rietspoof malware is dropped in stage three, with the last stage being reserved for downloading a more intrusive and potent malware strain.

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FEB
15

Microsoft releases new Windows 10 preview: The first 20H1 build

Microsoft today released a new Windows 10 preview, the first 20H1 build. No, that’s not a typo: Microsoft really is already developing the update that will be released in the first half of 2020. The update bumps Windows 10 from build 18334 (made available to testers on February 9) to build 18836.

Windows 10 is being developed as a service, meaning it receives new features on a regular basis. Microsoft has released six major updates so far: November Update, Anniversary Update, Creators Update, Fall Creators Update, April 2018 Update, and October 2018 Update.

The seventh update has been under development in the 19H1 branch. Today’s build is for Windows Insiders who have chosen the Skip Ahead option, which only a small subset of Insiders can opt into. Normally, that would have meant 19H2 builds, since 19H1 hasn’t been released yet, but Microsoft has chosen to really skip ahead this time around.

Here’s how the company explained it:

These builds are from the 20H1 development branch. Some things we are working on in 20H1 require a longer lead time. We will begin releasing 19H2 bits to Insiders later this spring after we get 19H1 nearly finished and ready; once 19H1 is “nearly finished and ready” we’ll also use the Release Preview ring for previews of drivers and quality updates on 19H1.

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JAN
08

IBM unveils its first commercial quantum computer

At CES, IBM today announced its first commercial quantum computer for use outside of the lab. The 20-qubit system combines into a single package the quantum and classical computing parts it takes to use a machine like this for research and business applications. That package, the IBM Q system, is still huge, of course, but it includes everything a company would need to get started with its quantum computing experiments, including all the machinery necessary to cool the quantum computing hardware.

While IBM describes it as the first fully integrated universal quantum computing system designed for scientific and commercial use, it’s worth stressing that a 20-qubit machine is nowhere near powerful enough for most of the commercial applications that people envision for a quantum computer with more qubits — and qubits that are useful for more than 100 microseconds. It’s no surprise then, that IBM stresses that this is a first attempt and that the systems are “designed to one day tackle problems that are currently seen as too complex and exponential in nature for classical systems to handle.” Right now, we’re not quite there yet, but the company also notes that these systems are upgradable (and easy to maintain).

“The IBM Q System One is a major step forward in the commercialization of quantum computing,” said Arvind Krishna, senior vice president of Hybrid Cloud and director of IBM Research. “This new system is critical in expanding quantum computing beyond the walls of the research lab as we work to develop practical quantum applications for business and science.”

More than anything, though, IBM seems to be proud of the design of the Q systems. In a move that harkens back to Cray’s supercomputers with its expensive couches, IBM worked with design studios Map Project Office and Universal Design Studio, as well Goppion, the company that has built, among other things, the display cases that house the U.K.’s crown jewels and the Mona Lisa. IBM clearly thinks of the Q system as a piece of art and, indeed, the final result is quite stunning. It’s a nine-foot-tall and nine-foot-wide airtight box, with the quantum computing chandelier hanging in the middle, with all of the parts neatly hidden away.

If you want to buy yourself a quantum computer, you’ll have to work with IBM, though. It won’t be available with free two-day shipping on Amazon anytime soon.

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JAN
06

Cheaper AirPods Alternative? These Are the Best Option | Inverse

##Anker Soundcroe Liberty Total Wireless Earphones - $79.99

AirPods got a lot of grief when Apple first announced them, but we have to admit, as always, they got the last laugh. Having little white sticks dangling freely from your ears doesn’t look quite as ridiculous as we all imagined it would. Even if it did, it wouldn’t matter. It turns out the freedom offered by completely wireless earphones feels real good. There’s still one glaring issue though: The price.

$159.00 is a lot to pay for any earbuds. Even noise-cancelling wireless buds with a special chip that shaves two seconds off the bluetooth pairing time. The Soundcore Liberty Wireless Earphones may not have that, but they also cost just over half what Apple’s product does. That’s $79.00 saved by opting to spend the extra seconds it takes to pair these buds the normal way. Other than that, these do everything their more expensive alternatives do, some arguably better.

Anker has become the go-to solution for expensive sound at affordable prices, and the Soundcore Liberty earphones are no different. The sound quality is crystal clear, and the in-canal style might even fit your ear better, which would make for an immense improvement in clarity over Apple’s less flexible design. On the other end of the buds, dual mics make for excellent noise canceling, which is essential if your commute involves loud subway trains. The battery life easily rivals its competitors, with the earbuds lasting five hours on their own and an extra 15 when the carrying case has a full charge. You won’t even notice you didn’t spend an extra $79.00 for a brand.

Come to that, neither will anyone else. If the reason you buy Apple products is because they’re status symbols, we’ll let you in on a little secret. Nobody wants to get close enough to your ears to notice what brand is written on your earphones. Get the white version of these and you’ll be indistinguishable from your expensive brand-name earbud-wearing peers. If you’re tired of paying almost double for a logo, the Anker Soundcore Liberty True Wireless Earphones are the way to go.

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DEC
27

2019 Growth Goals for Your Website

Do you have clear goals for your business website in 2019?

Many business owners set vague objectives, like “we want a prettier website” or “we want to start using video” – but those are features, not goals. Don’t feel bad if you find yourself in the same boat. It’s incredibly common.

Coming up with goals for your website can feel weird. After all, it’s just where you write posts for your blog, right? It doesn’t actually do anything. Wrong.

Your website should be one of your largest sources of leads and sales. It should be a representative of your brand and improve customer satisfaction. If you’re just using it as a place to share a few articles or list promotions, you definitely need to set some goals.

Here’s how:

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DEC
26

Four Creative Tactics To Elevate Your Personal Brand In 2019

You probably focus a lot of time and energy on your business’s brand, but what about your personal brand? As someone who works in the real estate world, I’m a huge advocate of personal branding. In industries like mine, if you're actively promoting your business online or sharing your expertise with your local following, then you’re already creating a personal brand for yourself. It’s just a matter of keeping it fresh and interesting so that your audience doesn’t get bored or tired of you.

When done right, personal branding can be one of the best ways to get in front of new customers, keep your current customers engaged and, ultimately, grow your business. Here are a four creative tactics to take your personal brand to the next level in 2019.

1. Blogging

One of my key pieces of advice for anyone seeking new business opportunities is to start a blog. When I started blogging, I had no idea how much it could help me promote all of the other aspects of my business. Having a blog served as a great way to give my audience a behind-the-scenes look at my business and share my expertise.

Whether you decide to blog once per week or once a month, it’s important to have a schedule and be consistent. If you’re new to personal blogging, here are a few platforms to consider:

• Medium: Medium is a great place to share long-form posts. Built-in social sharing features and a large, active community make this one of my favorite personal blogging platforms.

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DEC
26

Don’t download iOS 12.1.2 on your iPhone, you might regret it

Apple has recently released a software update that supposedly was going to fix the patent dispute with Qualcomm in most of its iPhone devices. The problem is that it seems that this upgrade wasn’t necessarily ready, and it’s now causing some serious problems.

A tech blog called Techspot has been witness of many iPhone users that have been reporting problems with the latest iOS 12.1.2 upgrade. Its known that some devices have even been bricked, but now it seems that there are more problems. Complaints come from several social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit. Some users report that their iPhones are no longer able to use LTE, others can’t send or receive data while on LTE. Messages aren’t being sent, and voice calls are also being a problem. To top it off, this problem also seems to affect Wi-Fi connections.

Most reported cases have come from North America, but we also find complaints coming from India, Europe, South America, and well anywhere you can think of finding an iPhone. The best thing to do at this moment is to wait for iOS 12.1.3. If you’re in China, you might want to get a new smartphone. Just in case you don’t want to have problems at work.

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Original author: Samuel
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DEC
26

How To Start Measuring Your Customer Experience

In order to create a great customer experience, we need to be able to measure our current ones in order to understand where improvement is needed. Furthermore, once enhancements are made, they need to be monitored for continual improvement.

Measuring the customer experience is definitely not as simple as measuring the results of a single tactic such as a website, email marketing campaign or in-store sales. The big challenge with measuring customer experience is that it needs to take into account all of your touch points. The opportunity is worth it, though, as it can show you how small improvements in specific points in the journey can make a huge difference.

But where should you start? In my experience working with many clients looking to improve their customer experience, once a measurement effort is able to launch, no matter how small, it makes a huge difference in the long-term success of the effort. This article explains four things to do to get started in measuring your customer experience that will set you up for success.

1. Pick an achievable first goal.

You can’t do everything all at once. In fact, even if you have the time and resources, it’s advisable to start relatively small and achieve some early learnings and quick wins.

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DEC
25

SEO Mistakes that Will Put You on Google’s Naughty List

Have you been a good SEO all year long? If you’ve been following Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and creating super helpful, unique content, the search engine might give you the greatest gift of all: organic results.

But before you wait by the tree for those improved rankings, put down your cookies and milk. You might not see your website on the search engine results pages (SERPs) if you have been naughty this year!

Here’s six things that could put your URL on Google’s penalty list:

1. Copying a Page Verbatim, Without Permission

This one seems like a no-brainer, but Google won’t be putting you at the top of its ranking tree this holiday if you are stealing like a big, ol’ Grinch!

Even just copying a few lines from another page shows the search engine that your content isn’t unique. Your copied content is likely taken from a source that’s already ranking (because that’s how you found it!), and you certainly won’t be adding more value than the original source by regurgitating what was already said.

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DEC
24

Captiv8 report highlights data for spotting fake followers

Captiv8, a company offering tools for brands to manage influencer marketing campaigns, has released its 2018 Fraud Influencer Marketing Benchmark Report. The goal is to give marketers the data they need to spot fake followers — and thus, to separate the influencers with a real following from those who only offer the illusion of engagement.

The report argues that that this a problem with a real financial impact (it’s something that Instagram is working to crack down on), with $2.1 billion spent on influencer marketing on Instagram in 2017 and 11 percent of the engagement coming from fraudulent accounts.

“For influencer marketing to truly deliver on its transformative potential, marketers need a more concrete and reliable way to identify fake followers and engagement, compare their performance to industry benchmarks, and determine the real reach and impact of social media spend,” Captiv8 says.

So the company looked at a range of marketing categories (pets, parenting, beauty, fashion, entertainment, travel, gaming, fitness, food and traditional celebrity) and randomly selected 5,000 Instagram influencer accounts in each one, pulling engagement from August to November of this year.

The idea is to establish a baseline for standard activity, so that marketers can spot potential red flags. Of course, everyone with a significant social media audience is going to have some fake followers, but Captiv8 suggests that some categories have a higher rate of fraud than others — fashion was the worst, with an average of 14 percent of fake activity per account, compared to traditional celebrity, where the average was just 4 percent.

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DEC
24

5 websites that will sharpen your storytelling

One of the many hats PR engineers wear is storyteller. Between juggling data, gathering insights and managing relationships, how can PR pros find time for inspiration? How do we stay up to date with the latest industry ideas on persuasive storytelling.

I’ve gathered a few sites and blogs that keep me sharp and inspired. Sign up for their newsletters or follow them on social media. You may not have time to read every article, but you’ll do great if what you consume gives you one or two takeaways a week.

Here are five sites that’ll sharpen your storytelling:

1. Copyblogger

This blog tells how to streamline your content creation, measure success and write authentic, branded stories. From how to spice up bland text to “The 5Things Every (Great) Marketing Story Needs,” Copyblogger prints words that work. The best part? The content is free of overused jargon. It’s straight-forward, quality content about … content!

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DEC
24

Google Duo app has now been downloaded over one billion times on Play Store- Technology News, Firstpost

First launched in 2016, the Google Duo app has now crossed the one billion mark on Play Store.

According to a recent report by Android Police, "Duo hit 500 million downloads just six months ago, so another 500 million in that time span is pretty impressive". This sudden popularity of the app can be attributed to the recent rollout of Google Duo to iPad, Android Tablet, Chromebook, and Smart Displays.

Google Duo app.

Earlier this year, Google also announced that it is shutting down its WhatsApp an iMessage-competitor app Allo in March 2019, and will instead focus on the Google Duo app. On a side note, in case you want to safe keep some or all of your conversation from the Allo app, here's how you can download all of your existing conversation histories from the app.

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DEC
24

Best Apple Watch apps 2019

It’s been an interesting year for Apple Watch apps. In the spring it seemed as if the Watch had lost its sparkle, with many big-name apps either languishing or being pulled from the Watch altogether. The problem wasn’t that Apple Watch apps are a bad idea, though. 

Far from it, as our selection here demonstrates. It was that sometimes, apps were designed to answer the wrong question: “could we make a Watch app?” but not “should we?”

Now, the Apple Watch is onto its fourth generation, and the aptly-named Apple Watch 4 is proving pretty popular - so that's why you're probably here checking out the new apps. In fact, it's one of the best smartwatch options out there, and now we're at the fourth generation it's becoming a particularly accomplished smart option for your wrist.

Our favourite apps, the apps that are still here after a bumpy year, both should and could have been made. They exist because they’re useful, or because they’re entertaining, or because they make your life that little bit better. 

In this round-up you’ll find apps for podcasting and procrastinating, for getting fit and getting stuff done, for messing around and for sorting stuff out. 

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DEC
24

25 Free Cybersecurity Resources, Courses, and Tools

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Original author: 8m
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DEC
23

26 iOS Apps Worth Paying For

You spend $4 on coffee; what's 99 cents for an app? Many of the apps in Apple's App Store are free, but these are the best paid iOS apps, according to PCMag staffers.

December 16, 2018 8:15PM EST December 16, 2018
PCMag reviews products independently, but we may earn affiliate commissions from buying links on this page. Terms of use.

The best things in life are free. Well, not always. There are plenty of great free apps out there, but some apps are worth a dollar (or even 20). You hand over a buck or two for a pack of gum, why not an app?

Why put down good money for something when a free (or "lite") version exists? No. 1 on the list is quality. A paid app will often offer things like offline access, syncing across devices, and the absence of ads. Sometimes an app takes the place of what used to be handled by a device, like a GPS or a radio. And finally, there's that category of app that so few can resist: games. Features editor Eric Griffith admitted to paying good money to avoid ads in Words With Friends 2.

Considering that we test thousands of apps, it's pretty impressive when PCMaggers decide one is worth buying. So we surveyed the staff to find out which apps they've paid for with their hard-earned cash.

(If you're a Google fan, here are some Android apps worth buying.)

Original author: Steele
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DEC
22

The End of Google+: What it Means for Your Website

This past October, Google announced that they will be shutting down their social network, Google+, for consumers after a data leak. To some this was a shock, and others, not so much.

The reasons that Google gave for shutting down included the lack of use and overall security. They claimed that “90% of Google+ user sessions [were] less than five seconds.” This very clearly shows that users did not intend to visit the social channel, and left immediately after realizing where they were.

Ben Smith, Google Fellow and Vice President of Engineering, stated in a blog post, “[Google+] has not achieved broad consumer or developer adoption, and has seen limited user interaction with apps.”Google originally announced that they would shut down their social platforms to consumers in August of 2019. But after a second data leak they have moved the date to April 2019.How does this impact me?Sure, it’s interesting that Google is shutting down one of their products, but how does this really impact you? Believe it or not, it might very much! Let’s go over how this change could affect you and your website.The shutting down of Google+ can actually be a relief for some small businesses. You no longer have to worry about posting and managing this social network and can focus on what is really making an impact.This is also a good reminder that everything online around social channels is temporary and there is no guarantee that all of your posts and images will be accessible forever. This is the reason that we recommend posting all of your valuable content on your website, as you then have direct control over it. After posting to your website, you can push out links on social media channels, helping drive more traffic.How will this change affect SEO for my website? As Google has slowly been phasing Google+ out of their tools, this change is not expected to impact your site SEO.Social sharing buttons on your websiteDo you have Google+ sharing buttons on your website? With the official shutdown of this social channel, it’s now time to take note where you have these little buttons. Take the time to remove the Google+ branding from your website, printed materials, email signatures, and anywhere else you may have the G+ logo.Google My BusinessJust because Google+ is shutting down doesn’t mean that you should forget about updating your status on other Google products. Google My Business isn’t a social media channel, but it does have the ability for you to post product/services updates, share info about your team, or whatever you’d like to share with local customers. With a 1,500 character limit, Google My Business gives you a little room to be creative with what you share.Delete your account?Even though Google+ is shutting down, should you delete your account or just leave it and allow Google to purge your data? Some choose to delete their account as a way to ensure that all data is erased. If you decide to go that route, be sure to download all of your files first. Related
Original author: Johnson
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DEC
21

Here's how to delete Facebook (It won't help)

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Original author: Heather
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DEC
18

Facebook Allowed Netflix, Spotify, And A Bank To Read And Delete Users’ Private Messages

Facebook gave more than 150 companies, including Microsoft, Netflix, Spotify, Amazon, and Yahoo, unprecedented access to users’ personal data, according to a New York Times report published Tuesday.

The Times obtained hundreds of pages of Facebook documents which were generated in 2017 that show that the social network considered these companies business partners and effectively exempted them from its privacy rules.

Facebook allowed Microsoft’s search engine Bing to see the names of nearly all users’ friends without their consent, let Spotify, Netflix, and the Royal Bank of Canada read, write, and delete users’ private messages, and see participants on a thread, allowed Amazon to get users’ names and contact information through their friends, and let Yahoo view streams of friends’ posts “as recently as this summer” despite publicly claiming it had stopped sharing such information a year ago, the report said. Collectively, applications made by these technology companies sought the data of hundreds of millions of people a month.

The records also show that Russian search giant Yandex, which was accused last year by Ukraine’s security service for giving user data to Kremlin, also had access to Facebook’s unique user IDs in 2017. A Yandex spokeswoman told the Times that the company was unaware of the access to user data provided by Facebook. Yandex did not immediately respond to BuzzFeed News’ request for comment.

In response to the report, Steve Satterfield, Facebook’s Director of Privacy and Public Policy defended the actions of the social network.

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DEC
18

A new type of quantum computer has smashed every record

Why it matters: As the quantum future looms closer, hundreds if not thousands of companies and research groups race towards constructing the first quantum computer that can outperform traditional supercomputers. However, the competition is not just between organizations, it’s also between competing methods of quantum computing.

IonQ was founded on a gamble that 'trapped ion quantum' computing could outperform the silicon-based quantum computers that Google and others are building. As of right now, it does. IonQ has constructed a quantum computer that can perform calculations on a 79-qubit array, beating the previous king Google’s efforts by 7 qubits.

Their error rates are also the best in the business, with their single-qubit error rate at 99.97% while the nearest competitors are around the 99.5 mark, and a two-qubit error rate of 99.3% when most competitors are beneath 95%. But how does it compare to regular computers?

According to IonQ, in the kinds of workloads that quantum computers are being built for, it’s already overtaking them. The Bernstein-Vazirani Algorithm, a benchmark IonQ is hoping will take off, tests a computer’s ability to determine a single encoded number (called an oracle) when the computer can only ask a single yes/no question.

When the algorithm is run for every number between 1 and 1023, a conventional computer gets a 0.2% success rate. IonQ’s quantum computer gets a 79% success rate.

“After two years of work, our against-the-grain bet is paying off,” IonQ’s CEO, Christopher Monroe, believes trapped ion quantum computing is the best bet. “The IonQ System is robust and industrial strength. Even at this early stage, the results show the ion trap design has all the advantages we expected and more.”

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DEC
17

7 digital privacy tools you need to be using now

This was not a good year for our data. In fact, like the previous year, it saw some of the most egregious breaches of our data in history. By far the most infamous one was the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal. In March 2018 it was revealed that in 2015 the Trump campaign firm paid for the scraped Facebook data of at least 87 million users so that it could better influence voters in elections.

But while Cambridge Analytica was the most-reported data scandal of the year, it was hardly the biggest. And apart from the unauthorized breaches—that is, the breaches we know about—virtually every tech company in the world continued to suck up as much of your data as possible in 2018, from Google to Facebook to your ISPs, which can now sell your browsing data to advertisers. And that’s not to mention governments around the world who throughout 2018 continually pressured tech giants to weaken privacy features like encryption.

In short, you may feel like you are insignificant and uninteresting and have nothing to hide, but virtually every tech company, hacker, and government agency begs to differ. That’s a good reason to rely on multiple privacy tactics if you aren’t already. To keep your data out of the wrong hands, start with these tools.

A VPN

A VPN is a “virtual private network,” which routes all of your internet traffic through a secure server that hides where you’ve browsed–and even where you are located. If you use a VPN, not even your ISP should be able to see the websites you go to. But all VPNs are not created equal–and though there are a number of free VPN apps out there, you’ll probably want to go with one that charges a monthly fee. Remember, anyone with a server can set up a VPN service–and there are plenty of shady free small-time VPNs operated by one or two people “companies.” These companies may promise a high-quality, anonymous VPN service, but you’ll need to take that on faith as there will be no way you can tell if they are really collecting your online movements or not.

Paid VPN companies are usually much more reliable and publish their privacy policies so you can see exactly what, if any, data they store about you. You’ll want to go with a “no logs” VPN provider, that is, a service that doesn’t keep records of your internet activity. Among privacy experts, ExpressVPN and Private Internet Access VPN are considered two of the most secure available.

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