Apple WWDC 2016 Dates Revealed

Every year in June, Apple hosts their WWDC event and this year is the same. During the Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple usually announces new OS X, iOS and other OS revisions. After running from June 8 to 12, this year’s event will go from June 13 to 17. Interestingly, the first about the dates came out from Siri when she was asked about the event.

Since Siri spilled the beans earlier today, Apple has since updated their event page, officially confirming WWDC will run from the 13th to 17th. Registration begins now till April 22nd with a $1,599 price tag for the San Francisco event.

This year, Apple is planning make major announcements for OS X, iOS, watchOS and tvOS. Some reports are suggesting that OS X might get a brand update to MacOS to bring it in line with the rest of Apple’s lineup. In addition to renaming the OS, there may be updates to Mac hardware as well due to newer Intel CPUs.

With a June event timetable, we may hopefully see some new GPUs in Macs as well. Computex will be happening 2 weeks prior so we may well get Polaris or Pascal GPUs in the refreshed Macs. We’ll bring you more information on WWDC as it comes out.

Visual Studio Will Now Include Xamarin

Microsoft recently brought out Xamarin, software based on letting people create programs using C# and .NET operating systems which can then be ported to both iOS and Android. This meant that using the Microsoft based languages you could develop software for a variety of phones. It’s now been revealed that if you are interested in using the software, all you will need is Visual Studio.

With this announcement you can enjoy Xamarin for free as part of Visual studio, and not just any Visual studio but every single version of the development software. With Visual studio offering a free community edition you could soon find the development tools available as part of the free suite of tools, with no restrictions either.

With the original releases of Xamarin featuring a restriction on the free version of the software, limiting just how large the software you created could be before requiring a paid license. Enterprise-orientated features of Xamarin will be restricted to Visual Studio Enterprise subscription users.

If you were looking at using it for OS X or iOS development you’ll need to have access to an OS X machine. In another step for Microsoft, the Xamarin SDK will be made open source and released on Github for all to see and use, including the Xamarin Forms library for creating quick and easy user interfaces.

Microsoft: Windows PCs ‘Do More’ Than Macs

The PC Vs Mac debate has been hotly discussed and analysed for what seems to be since the dawn of time. Over the years, there’s been various arguments which outlines the benefits and drawbacks of both systems which makes for an interesting topic. In the past, Mac users proclaimed Windows was an unstable operating system with poor security. However, Alex Stamos of iSec Partners claimed this was incorrect back in 2011 and said that Mac OS X is “significantly more vulnerable” than Windows 7 when it comes to network-based attacks. On the other hand, David Morgenstern from ZDNet dismissed these theories and believes:

“Searching through F-Secure’s Monthly Security Updates for 2013, I could only find one solitary mention of a Mac or iOS vulnerability, and it was for Microsoft Outlook for Mac. There has be something Windowsy behind it.”

As you can see, there’s still varying opinions on this subject, as people try to defend their purchasing habits. On a personal note, I’ve used Macs, PCs, and even completed a few Hackintosh projects. Both operating systems have their own merits, but I really struggle to understand how easily Apple sells computers with such a low specification for the price point. Furthermore, Apple has a very restricted ethos which revolves around control and prevents the end-user from performing major tweaks. Linux is probably the best option for advanced users wanting total control, but Windows isn’t too shabby in this particular field.

Yesterday, Microsoft unleashed an advertising campaign with the slogan, “PCs do more”. In these videos we see The Bug Chicks teach children about insects using Windows 10 software. As always, these marketing adverts are fairly cringe-worthy but it’s always great to see Microsoft outline the benefits of the PC platform. This is bound to spark a lively debate between PC and Mac users. Here is a complete list of the released videos so far:

Image courtesy of A New World Society.

Google Dropping Chrome Support for XP, Vista and OSX 10.8

Even when Microsoft dropped public support for Windows XP last year, many large organizations continued to pay for extended support. Not surprisingly, Google also continued to support Windows XP for their popular Chrome browser. That’s set to finally end though next year in April 2016; that marks the 2 year anniversary since Microsoft officially dropped XP support.

Originally set to end at the same time as Microsoft’s support, the cut-off date ended up getting extended twice. First, it was extended for 1 year till this April. When that deadline neared, Google ended up relenting and continued to support the aging OS till the end of the year. Now finally and for real this time, the support will end after an additional 5 months have been tacked on.

In other news, Mac OS X 10.6, 10.7 and 10.8 will all lose support in April as well. This is also long after Apple has given up on these systems. Ironically, Vista will also lose support the same day as XP will, despite being released a full 5 years later than the venerable OS. This also comes despite that fact that Windows Vista will be supported by Microsoft till April 2017. This speaks to the lack of popularity of the much-maligned OS that was eventually patched to near Windows 7 levels of usability.

Redditer Discovered Hidden Feature in iOS 9 and Mac OS X El Capitan

We got a lot of information out of what to expect from iOS 9 and El Capitan this fall at Apple’s WWDC in June. Even so, developers are said to be good at discovering Apple’s ‘hidden’ new features, but this time around, it seems that one of them, who I think is actually useful, was actually discovered by someone else.

A redditer going by the name of homeboi808 seems to have stumbled upon a feature who went on unnoticed so far. On both iOS 9 and El Capitan, if you tap on a flight number in either the Mail, Messages or Notes app, the OS’ will work the flight out and give you a flight path overview, along with all information about that flight. This includes arrival, departure times, possible delays and even airport terminal details.

It seems that Apple has added a built-in feature that detects and reacts to gestures when it finds a flight number. However, that needs to adhere to the actual flight number style, so don’t expect it to do the same with just anything you type in. Even so, the flight number needs to be valid in order to get information about it.

Even so, the feature is really helpful when you’re expecting to pick someone up from the airport or are planning a journey. Getting up-to-date information about your flights is a must from my point of view. What do you think?

Thank you BGR for providing us with this information

How a Hacker Made $45,000 Selling 0Day Exploits to Hacking Team

We previously reported that Italian spyware company, Hacking Team, has been hacked and had 400 GB of data publicly released via torrent websites. Well, Arstechnica reportedly found how easy it was doing business with the latter company by digging through their emails.

It seems that a Russian hacker approached the Hacking Team in 2013 with a few 0day bugs he found on Windows, OS X and iOS operating systems, with price ranges of $30,000 to $45,000. The company apparently was not interested in the latter, but it did show interest in another exploit offered by the hacker, namely the “Adobe Flash Player 9.x/10.x/11.x with the RCE exploit for the current Flash Player 11.9.x for Windows 32/64-bit and OS X 64-bit”.

The correspondence even revealed how the money was transferred to the hacker. According to the findings, the hacker received the money via bank wire transfer in three instalments, one of $20,000 in October 2013, the other of $15,000 in November 2013 and the last one of $10,000 in December 2013. There has not been any evidence of the hacker and the company doing any business up until 2015, when the Russian hacker received another $35,000 in his bank account in Moscow.

Arstechnica also approached the hacker and surprisingly, he explained that such transactions are very common between companies such as Hacking Team and freelance hackers. He stated that such transactions are “routine sales like with ZDI, VCP, pentesters and other legal 0day buyers”. I don’t know about you, but this information is as exciting as it is scary. So what are your thoughts on this?

Thank you arstechnica for providing us with this information

Square Enix Pulls Plug on OS X Final Fantasy 14

Pulling game sales after a failed launch seems to be a more common occurrence. Square Enix has announced that they will be pulling the Mac version of Final Fantasy 14 A Realm Reborn after a launch riddled with poor performance. In addition to stopping sales, Square Enix is facilitating refunds for customers interested. In the meanwhile, Square Enix plans to work on the Mac version of the game until performance is up to par. Square Enix has admitted the game was accidentally released too early before all the bugs were fixed.

Producer and Director Naoki Yoshida noted that Square Enix had made a number of serious mistakes. First, the Mac system requirements were inadequately communicated and released incorrect system requirements, meaning those some bought the game thinking it would play fine on their system when it couldn’t. Yoshida admitted that if accurate system requirements had been communicated, many might not have purchased the game.

One major source of the low performance was blamed on OpenGL. Square Enix turned to TransGaming to provide a WINE based middleware to let the DirectX native game work on OS X. A native port was not possible due to development cost concerns and relatively low demand. According to Yoshida, coding a version to OpenGL would be sub-optimal due to a 30% performance deficit compared to DirectX for FFXIV specifically. While work continues on the OpenGL version, hopes are that Apple’s new Metal API will kick in to improve performance in the future.

When creating cross-platform games, creating a native version of each platform can be a pain and getting a good OpenGL port out can be problematic as most devs are focused on DirectX. However, this is where cross-platform game engines like Unity Unreal Engine 4 and Cryengine come in, moving the responsibility for managing multiple APIs to the engine developers. Big devs can and do create their own engines to run their game. In these cases, enough attention has to be given to the secondary platforms, something that Square Enix did not seem to do.

Apple Moves Closer to the Gaming Market

We know that Apple’s hardware, especially its OS X operating system, was not designed with gaming in mind. This is why gamers and developers alike chose Windows and its DirectX when it comes to graphics, but Apple seems to want a piece of the gaming market too and this was clearly shown today at their Worldwide Developer Conference.

If you are familiar with last year’s WWDC, then you know all about the company’s Metal API. If you don’t, then you should know that the latter is Apple’s gaming platform previously announced for their iOS devices. However, this year the company wants to integrate it into their latest OS X too.

Dubbed El Capitan, Apple’s latest OS X 10.11 seems to move closer than ever to the gaming market, bringing 10x rendering performance compared to their previous OS X. To demonstrate El Capitan’s potential, they brought Epic Games to show everyone how gaming can be made possible on low-level graphics performance.

Also, Epic Games is not the only company to back Apple’s decision. Metal seems to be endorsed by other big name gaming companies such as 2K Games, Blizzard, and Unity. The companies have announced that they will be integrating Apple’s Metal API into their engines, which means we can look forward to more titles coming to Apple’s OS next year.

Than you TechCrunch for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of iC

Apple Takes a Radical Approach with its Swift Programming Language

Apple just announced something really radical today at its Worldwide Developer Conference. We all now how strict and closed the company is with its software and hardware, but it looks like things are about to change and we might see them before the end of this year.

Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president, announced that the company will make their latest programming language, namely Swift, open source by the end of the year. This is quite surprising since the company enforced a strict closed box policy on their products up until now. So why the change of heart?

Nonetheless, Federighi said that the compiler code and libraries for iOS and OS X will be made available to everyone and it looks like they are planning to go even further and release the latter for Linux as well. This means that developers will be able to program in Apple’s code on all major operating systems once the code gets released.

Don’t get too excited though. A similar promise was made by Steve Jobs in the past, who said that the company would deliver the FaceTime protocol to developers so they can integrate it into other software outside Apple’s own OS’. As you can imagine, the protocol is still not available, so take the recent information with a grain of salt until you actually see Swift’s code available for download.

Thank you TechCrunch for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Business Insider

Carmageddon: Reincarnation Final Release Date Revealed

Stainless Games has announced that Carmageddon: Reincarnation, currently in Early Access on Steam, will have a full release on 23rd April. Reincarnation is the fourth entry in the Carmaggedon series and the first in nearly fifteen years, since the release of Carmageddon TDR 2000 back in December, 2000.

Inspired by cult action film Death Race 2000, the violent racer is described as a game where “pedestrians (and cows) equal points and your opponents are a bunch of crazies in a twisted mix of automotive killing machines.”

To coincide with the release announcement, Stainless Games has graced us with a new trailer, showing the high-octane pedestrian squishing in all its gruesome glory:

Carmageddon: Reincarnation will be available for PC, OS X, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4.

Source: Dark Side of Gaming

Mac OS X and iOS More Vunerable than Windows and Linux, Surprised?

With the recent increase in sales of all things Apple, its once strong perception of being very secure is losing steam, especially thanks to the sale over notebooks and iPhones. In a recent report from GFI, both OS X and iOS are the leaders for vulnerabilities. Surprisingly all Windows distributions come in with less than Linux. OS X leads the board with whooping 147 vulnerabilities, of which 64 are labeled as “High Risk”. iOS comes in second, with 127 total, and 32 “High Risk”. Unexpectedly Linux comes in third with 119 total, and 24 “High Risk”. We can see the final results in the table below.

In 2014 alone, GFI reported a total of 7,038 new security vulnerabilities, up greatly from 4,794 in 2013. 294, or 24 percent, of the 7,038 new vulnerabilities came in as “High Risk”

GFI’s Christian Florian had the following to say in regards to Linux’s surprising place:

“2014 was a tough year for Linux users from a security point of view, coupled with the fact that some of the most important security issues of the year were reported for applications that usually run on Linux systems.”

Specific examples as reported he listed were:

“Heartbleed, for example, is a critical security vulnerability detected in OpenSSL while Shellshock is a vulnerability that affects GNU Bash.”

To clarify, all versions of OS X (Lion, Mountain Lion, Mavericks, Yosemite, etc.) were tested together, yet all major Windows versions got their own testing. THis could be due to duplication among all the versions of Windows, which leads to the very close results for each version. Had this been done with OS X, we could have a better reference between competing versions of OS X and Windows.

Despite the individual results for iOS, we do not have any individual test for Android, which has become a very popular target recently. This could be due to Android being included with the Linux OS’ and could be a leading source for the Linux OS.

Digging deeper into the world of the vulnerabilities we see individual testing for various applications, such as web browsers, plugins, and other run-times. Not so surprisingly here we see Internet Explorer leading the board with a generous 242 vulnerabilities, which almost doubles the next closest entry, Google Chrome. Only making matters worse for Internet Explorer is that 220, 91 percent, are “High Risk”. Usually  leader, Adobe Flash Player came in “only” fourth place with 76 vulnerabilities, but had a very high percentage of “High Risk”. Oddly we do not sure Safari by Apple included in these tests.

Your safest bet to avoid falling prey to any of these vulnerabilities, as suggested by GFI, is keeping browsers, Java, your OS, and any other run-times used up to date. With Adobe products being often used, they suggest ditching these products all together.

Source: HotHardware

Apple to Release Public Beta Builds of iOS

Beginning with iOS 8.3, Apple will start releasing public beta builds of its mobile operating system, according to Mark Gurman of 9to5Mac. Gurman’s report says that Apple will extend this policy to iOS 9 after its introduction at the 2015 Worldwide Developers Conference.

Apple has already initiated a public beta program with its desktop operating system OS X, which began in April last year with OS X 10.9.3, the third Mavericks update, followed by the public beta of OS X Yosemite. The Yosemite build was restricted to the first million sign-ups, but Gurman reports that the iOS betas will be capped at 100,000 users “to maintain a higher level of exclusivity.”

If Gurman’s prediction comes true, then the public beta build of iOS 8.3 will be made available this March.

Source: Ars Technica

Entire Episode of Sitcom ‘Modern Family’ To Take Place on a Mac Desktop

An upcoming episode of ‘Modern Family’, the popular sitcom shown on ABC in the US and Sky in the UK, has been shot entirely on Apple iPhones, iPads and Macs. The episode takes place solely on the desktop of one of the shows characters, showing her attempts to get in touch with her family via various Apple apps, including FaceTime and iMessage.

Director and co-creator of ‘Modern Family’, Steve Levitan, used an iPhone 6 and iPad Air 2 to film the episode, streaming all the content to one sole Mac computer. While most of you will have immediately called this a massive piece of blatant product placement, it’s worth pointing out that Apple didn’t pay a penny towards the episode’s production. They did however give the producers a free Mac Pro to help them put it together.

‘Modern Family’ has a history with Apple, after an early episode centred around one character’s obsession towards the then new iPad. That episode was sponsored by the company.

Source: MacRumors

Apple Press Event Rumoured For Late February – Watch, Ultra Thin MacBook Air

A new rumour has surfaced that says Apple will be having a late February event. French site iGen says that the company will be introducing one of its most talked about unannounced products and one of its most talked about announced products – the 12 inch MacBook Air and of course the Apple Watch.

They say that the focus of the event will be a redesigned MacBook Air – specifically a 12-inch model, that will supposedly be thinner, even lighter and, according to some suggestions, feature only one port. That single port will take the role of the device’s I/O and power input, in a similar way to the iPad’s Lightening port.

They also say that the event will also feature new details about the Apple Watch, with the company expected to reveal new details about the device before its launch in February.

While iGen’s sources are quite often reliable, Apple rumour mill behemoth, 9to5Mac says that this is not the case. Their sources have said that no such event is planned. So that of course brings these claims into doubt – however both are still unofficial so either could be wrong.

iTunes 12.1 Released With New Notification Center Widget

Apple has updated iTunes with a bunch of the usual fixes and tweaks, but also with one handy new feature.

In OS X, iTunes users can now control music being played in the Notification Center – you can skip songs, pause, play and more. There’s also information about the particular song you’re listening to as well as information about the playlist or album.

Notification Center was a feature included with OS X Mavericks in 2013, as part of Apple’s wider efforts to tie-in features across OS X and iOS. It was with OS X Yosemite in 2014 that the company brought along widgets, a feature that allows users to install small gadgets and tools inside Notification Center that can be used to manipulate the wider system and specific apps.

The new update to iTunes is available now via Software Update in the App Store.

Source: The Next Web

Emoji Is Coming to Chrome on OS X

Google’s Chrome is very popular browser among users of Apple’s OS X. However, in this age of Social Media, the browser has had one very notable omission – emoji.

Yes, it’s amazing to think that any browser is without the popular snippets of emotion littered across the web. Finally though, it seems that Google is bringing the cherubic characters to their OS X flavour of Chrome.

The Next Web reports that users of the latest developer builds of Chrome have found emoji now works. Mac users can now use them for themselves by running Google’s Chrome Canary, the special testing version of the browser.

The characters should be included in stable builds in the coming weeks.

Source: The Next Web

North Korea’s State Operating System Looks Like OS X

We’ve all been captivated recently by the massive hack upon Sony Pictures that was supposedly carried out by North Korea. However, not many of us know what using a computer is like in the ‘self-reliant’ hermit kingdom.

Well now we do. Ex-Google employee Will Scott previously visited one of the country’s top universities and bought a copy of the operating system they were using while he was there. He somehow managed to sneak that back to the states and provided screenshots for us all to see.

Now, obviously their OS isn’t going to be anything built by Microsoft, Apple or Google or any other Western company, so they’ve built their own. Well, sort of their own, because it bears a startling resemblance to Apple’s OS X.

From log in screen to the iconic dock and menu bar, it’s a complete rip-off of what appears to be OS X 10.5 Leopard. This image of file manager could easily be mistaken for an old version of Apple’s Finder.

Take a look at the browser – a modded Firefox perhaps?

You can see more of the OS at the source link.

Source: Business Insider Images: Will Scott

Apple Releases First Ever Auto-Update for Mac

For the first time ever, Apple has released an automatic security update for iMacs and Macbooks. The update is designed to patch the recently-discovered security vulnerability CVE-2014-9295, which affects OS X and other Linux and Unix distributions.

Apple spokesperson Bill Evans told Reuters that the update is “seamless” and doesn’t require a system restart.

The security vulnerability was revealed last week by the US Department of Homeland Security and the Carnegie Mellon University Software Engineering Institute. The bug means hackers could exploit a fault in a system’s Network Time Protocol (NTP) for gain access to a computer remotely.

“Apple’s proactive steps to automatically remediate this particular vulnerability shows the need to quickly patch remotely exploitable vulnerabilities,” according to Tripwire security analyst Ken Westin. “However, the use of Apple’s automatic deployment tool is not without risks, as even the simplest update can cause problems for some systems. In this case the update may have been so minor the risk of affecting other applications and processes was minimal.”

Westin advises anyone worried about the auto-update that “If you have a Mac system where an automatic update might introduce a problem — or you are the paranoid type — it can be disabled by going to the Apple Menu > System Preferences > App Store and unchecking Install system data files and security updates.”

Source: CNET

Wire: The New Skype Rival Backed by Skype Co-Founder

A new upstart has entered the instant messaging arena, positioning itself as more than just a chat service. Wire, pitched as a thoroughly modern messaging app, is supported by Skype co-founder Janus Friis and developed by former Skype employees.

With their experience – helped by former Apple, Nokia, and Microsoft employees – the team know as well as anyone what needed fixing: “Skype was launched more than a decade ago. A lot has changed since then – we are all used to free calls and texting, and we have taken to carrying our computers in our pockets,” Friis said. “It is time to create the best possible communication tools, as beautiful as they are useful. Wire is just that.”

The app features text and voice messaging, live calls, one-on-one or group messaging, and even SoundCloud integration. It utilises Opus, and open source audio codec, to make playback and voice calls crisp and clean. Video is being muted as a future feature.

Vine is available on OS X, iOS, and Android.

Source: The Independent

OS X Yosemite Kills Third-Party SSD Support

The new OS X 10.10 Yosemite was received pretty well upon release, sure it had a few minor hiccups, but overall it was an improvement. But not everything is visible right away, especially not when it’s done in secret.

Apple has silently and without any warning killed support for third-party SSDs in this new OS X version, leaving anyone who uses such as a boot drive and has TRIM enabled with a Mac that won’t start. The cause for this is the new Kext Signing security-feature that checks if the system has been altered and has parts approved by Apple. In itself, this is a great feature and one that won’t effect the average Apple user, but professionals with customized high-end Mac’s might be left with a lot of trouble.

“Kext signing basically works by checking if all the drivers in the system are unaltered by a third party, or approved by Apple. If they have been modified, Yosemite will no longer load the driver. This is a means of enforcing security, but also a way for Apple to control what hardware that third-party developers can release OS X support for.”

The good news is that you can disable the Kext signing and the Trim Enabler tool has been updated to do just that. It however has the downside that none of your drives are protected by this feature as it’s a global setting and not per drive. The blog post about this issue by Cindori Software, the makers of Trim Enabler, also has a guide on how to get back into your system if the Yosemite update should have locked you out due to a 3rd party boot drive.

Thanks to Cindori for providing us with this information

Microsoft Makes .NET Open Source for Linux and OS X

Much of Microsoft’s .NET has been open sourced since April 2014 through its .NET Foundation, but today Microsoft announced that the entirety of its .NET stack is to be made available as open source. GitHub will host the code under an MIT-style licence.

As part of the open source implementation, Microsoft has made the framework cross-platform, meaning it will be compatible with Linux or Apple Mac operating systems. S. Somasegar, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft’s Developer Division, called the move, “a huge change (for Microsoft) and a change that has been slowly and steadily building up for the last couple of years.”

Somasegar expects the project to take some months before it’s ready. Microsoft will be working with the Mono Project and the community to help with the transition.

Source: GIGAOM

Swedish Hacker Finds Serious Security Flaw in OS X Yosemite

The white-hat hacker Emil Kvarmhammer from the Swedish security firm Truesec has found a serious security hole in Apple’s new OS X Yosemite. He dubbed the new vulnerability “rootpipe” and explains that it is a so-called privilege escalation vulnerability. This means that an attacker could get full root access without the need for any password and thereby take over the entire system.

Kvarnhammer didn’t disclose any details about the flaw and this is of course to give Apple time to come up with a fix before it becomes widely abused on unsuspecting users. While the bad news is that there isn’t a fix yet, nor is there any real time frame for it. The good news is that you can limit the damage a potential attacker can cause you to almost zero with just a few easy steps.

Most Apple machines are set up with just one user that has full admin privileges and there is no limit to the damage that can be done when the admin user is infected. So the first step would be to set up a user for everyday tasks next to the admin account.

The easiest way to do this without having to redo all your configurations is to create a new user and give him admin rights. Then log into that new admin user and remove the admin rights from your day-to-day user. Done. You’ll have to provide the admin password when you want to make changes to the systems such as install software, but that’s a tiny hassle in return for the huge security improvement. This is also good advice for any user of Windows or Linux.

The second step you can take to protect your data in case of an infection is to use the Apple’s FileVault tool. This will encrypt the hard drive without a too big hit on the system performance. You might not even notice it, depending on which Mac you own.

“Normally there are ‘sudo’ password requirements, which work as a barrier, so the admin can’t gain root access without entering the correct password. However, rootpipe circumvents this,” said Emil Kvarnhammer.

Kvarnhammer said he found the bug while researching new flaws in Mac OS X for two presentation he had to do. By studying the code and trying to follow the same lines of thought the original programmer had, he discovered this new flaw. Truesec works with responsible disclosure and they have received a time-frame from Apple when they are allowed to tell us more about this flaw and how it works. This date wasn’t revealed either, but there is talk about a full-disclosure from Apple about the issue in January 2015. So the fix might not be an easy one, either that or they feel confident enough that no one else will find it before then.

Thanks to Macworld for providing us with this information 

Images courtesy of Macworld

New Botnet Composed out of Mac Systems Discovered

The times where Mac users were relatively safe from malicious attacks is long gone. As we all know, no system is secure and everything can be broken, it’s just a matter it being worth the effort. With the ever-growing number of people using Macs and the amount who still believe the old wives’ tale that Macs are safe, this is an obvious target.

The Russian security company Dr.Web has discovered a large and previous unknown botnet composed out of Mac OS X machines. The criminals are taking advantage of a security flaw in the system and effectively gain full control over the target system. From here the malware can attempt to infect more systems or carry out any other command sent by the botnet owners.

One of the interesting things about this piece of malware is that it communicates with its control servers via Reddit. It uses the search function to find comments left the criminals in a Minecraft discussion section, and it’s from there the network will get its commands.

The good news is, you can defend yourself against this. Dr.Web have already added the Mac.BackDoor.iWorm to their database and other security software creators are sure to follow soon. Botnets like these can do a lot of things, where the most common are to send out spam mails and run denial of service attacks. The second part of the good news is that it doesn’t look like the network is being used in any ongoing attacks. But that is of course a thing that could change at any time.

The main part of the infected systems are located in North America, but that isn’t really surprising. This is where the most systems are located, but the botnet is however worldwide and counted over 17.500 infected machines as of last Friday. This is a great reminder to everyone to run security software. It doesn’t matter if you’re using a mobile device or a PC running Mac OS, Linux/Unix or Windows. Everyone can be a target.

Thank you Dr.Web for providing us with these information

Images courtesy of Dr.Web

Oculus Rift Gets Mac Support

Oculus Rift support has arrived for Mac OS X.

Oculus released new hardware in July this year and with it they released a new software developers kit (SDK). Now that SDK has been upgraded from 0.4.0 to SDK 0.4.1. Included in this update is the support for Mac OS X along with Oculus Runtime and Unity Tuscany demos.

Also included in 0.4.1 are some hotfixes including making the new headset more compatible with AMD processors and older versions of SDK and also a patch for the Unreal Engine 4 so that it can be used with the 0.4 SDK.

This is all good news as it shows development is continuing despite Facebook taking ownership. Facebook did say they didn’t want anything to change much when they acquired Oculus and so far they seem to have stuck to the promise. Hopefully the dissapointment most people felt when the acquisition went ahead was in vein and they will just help to fund mainstream the devices and not ruin them.

Although the Mac support has now been released there is still no update that allows Linux support. Hopefully this will be in the works as there have been many requests from developers for the support.

There is also no word on an official release date, but game developers are working hard to make sure that there are plenty of options when the devices are launched.

Thanks to Tech Radar for supplying us with this information.

Image courtesy of Forbes

Maxthon Releases Windows PC Browser Designed for Faster Video Playback

Maxthon is a web browser for Windows, OS X and Linux, developed in China by the company Maxthon Ltd. Latest news point to the browser receiving an update aimed towards video playback, having features such as “AdSkipper” providing support for skipping through advertisements without slowing the video downloads.

The company has recently struck a deal with MediaTek to pre-load the browser onto more than 100 million handsets this year, having its strategy focused on mobile handset. However, PC users will still receive a lot of support from the company, having the browser include Linux support this March and the new Windows PC desktop version.

With over 100 million unique devices per month using the browser, Pew Research has made a study and came up with some interesting results. The study is said to show that 78% of adults watch or download videos online, having Maxthon using the provided information in order to add video-optimisation to the new version of its browser.

It is also said that the company claims its browser uses memory and CPU usage more efficiently, having video play much faster and with fewer stops and lags. The browser allows users to even drag videos out of the browser screen as well as use the “boss key” to add a “very boring, work-like-looking spreadsheet”over the video you are watching.

Maxthon’s vice president, Karl Mattson, states that the video-optimisation feature was first introduced earlier this year in China, where the ad-skip feature proved to be extremely useful, having users previously dealing with a “flood” of advertisements when attempting to watch videos. It is said that users watching videos on the Maxthon browser, regardless of internet speed, will notice almost no lag, stability over time and video fast-forwarding.

Flash videos are said to work best with the browser at hand, having HTML5 formats currently being worked on. This means that users should get the best results when attempting to watch Netflix and Hulu on Maxthon, having YouTube performance depending on the user agent set in the browser’s settings.

The company has also stated that Windows PC users will not be the only ones receiving the video-optimisation feature, having the other platforms, such as Android, iOS, OS X, Windows Phone and Linux scheduled to receive the feature later on.

Thank you TechCrunch for providing us with this information

Western Digital To Warn Of OS X Mavericks Data Loss

Western Digital is warning customers of an unfortunate interaction between its storage management software and Apple’s latest OS X release, 10.9 ‘Mavericks,’ which can result in permanent data loss.

The latest release reduces the heavy skeuomorphism, the use of fake ‘physical’ elements, such as paper textures and page turning animations, of the company’s bundled applications, improves power efficiency with wake-up scheduling, and introduces kernel tweaks which include the seamless in-memory compression of unused application data in order to reduce paging to disk.

However it has also brought a fair number of glitches along for the ride. Flaws in the mail application and in connecting Thunderbolt storage devices are being addressed by Apple in pending updates, but there’s a more serious problem that needs tackling, which is data loss on Western Digital storage devices.

According to an email sent by Western Digital to customers and republished by TUAW, an unfortunate interaction between Western Digital’s management software and OS X Mavericks can result in the complete loss of all data on external drives connected to systems running Apple’s latest OS upgrade.

‘We want to make you aware of new reports of Western Digital and other external HDD products experiencing data loss when updating to Apple’s OS X Mavericks (10.9),’ the company explained in the email to customers. ‘WD is urgently investigating these reports and the possible connection to the WD Drive Manager, WD Raid Manager and WD SmartWare software applications.’

Advice given by Wester Digital for external drive users is not to upgrade to OS X Mavericks just yet. For users that have already taken this step, it is advisable to uninstall all copies of WD Drive Manager, WD Raid Manager and WD SmartWare, all of which WD has removed from its website to prevent fresh installations, and reboot the system to prevent data loss.

Thank you Bit Tech for providing us with this information

Stored Passwords Now Secured In Google Chrome

Google takes security a step forward and finally adds a security feature in order to access the stored password inside the Google Chrome browser.

Up until now, the user stored passwords could be viewed by everybody whu had access to the computer at hand. That wouldn’t be very nice if your friend would like to steal your Facebook password and browse freely through your personal information, would it? Even worse if somebody stole your PayPal or other bank account information.

To access your saved passwords, a popup box now appears and prompts you with the password to authenticate before getting access to the stored passwords. This means the user needs to re-authenticate in order to access the part of the browser holding private user information, something that should have been added from the very start. To mention here is that the browser will keep the user authenticated for about 1 minute before prompting back with the popup box to re-authenticate.

Take note though, the feature is only available for Mac OS X at the moment, but a Windows version should be available in the newer Google Chrome builds.

Thank you NextPowerUp for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of NextPowerUp