Good news for advertisers, but maybe not-so-great news for users concerned about their personal data: Starting Monday, Facebook will use data it gleans from users for its new ad network, Atlas, which it will serve up ads on non-Facebook sites based on what Facebook knows about you.
Atlas is a former Microsoft property that Facebook bought last year for around $100 million that Facebook has now rebuilt from the ground up. Atlas is distinct from Audience Network, a mobile ad network Facebook introduced in April that was aimed at app developers.
In contrast, Atlas is a sort of alternative to Google's AdWords, which will let advertisers follow users across the web and mobile devices. For instance, Atlas advertiser Pepsi could use Atlas to advertise one of its products on a sports site or a game app that is unaffiliated with Facebook.
Multiple Windows 9 reports have suggested that Microsoft is considering releasing the upcoming platform as a free download to certain existing Windows users. Some said that Windows 8 will get Windows 9 free of charge, while others claimed the company is also considering some sort of special offers for existing Windows XP users. A report from Indonesian online publication Detik said earlier this week that President of Microsoft Indonesia Andreas Diantoro has confirmed this particular Windows 9 feature.
According to Diantoro, the Windows 9 upgrade will be available free of charge to all existing Windows 8 users once it’s released. Apparently, users will be able to easily install the Windows 9 update after downloading it from Microsoft, which is how Apple’s OS X updates have been rolled out to Macs for a few years now. For what it’s worth, some of the recent Windows 9 leaks did say that Microsoft already has a tool in place that will allow users to easily perform software updates.
Researchers at Malwarebytes noticed strange behavior on sites like Last.fm, The Times of Israel and The Jerusalem Post. Ads on the sites were being unusually aggressive, setting off anti-virus warnings and raising flags in a number of Malwarebytes systems. After some digging, researcher Jerome Segura realized the problem was coming from Google's DoubleClick ad servers and the popular Zedo ad agency. Together, they were serving up malicious ads designed to spread the recently identified Zemot malware. A Google representative has confirmed the breach, saying "our team is aware of this and has taken steps to shut this down."
Malware served through ad units (or "malvertising") is nothing new, but this incident is notable because of the unusually broad reach of the attack. "It was active but not too visible for a number of weeks until we started seeing popular sites getting flagged in our honeypots," Segura says. "That's when we thought, something is going on." The first impressions came in late August, and by now millions of computers have likely been exposed to Zemot, although only those with outdated antivirus protection were actually infected.
Previously, Google required everyone to make a Google+ profile in order to get a new Gmail account. This made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move. Now, that requirement is lifted. Sort of.
While it was still technically possible to create a Google account without tying into Google+, it was very difficult. Now, if you sign up for a Gmail account, you have the option of saying "No thanks" to a Google+ profile. This doesn't come without some drawbacks, of course. You won't be able to leave restaurant reviews, rate apps or content on the Play Store, or perhaps most frustratingly, comment on YouTube. However, if you'd prefer to stay out of the Google+ fray, it's now an option.
Windows 9. Threshold. Or just plain Windows. Whatever Microsoft ends up calling its next operating system, it's shaping up to be another big change from the Windows that came before it.
Only this time, Microsoft is looking to mollify its user base—especially in the enterprise—instead of scaring people away. If months of leaks and rumors are accurate, Microsoft will undo some of the most drastic changes in Windows 8, but it will also kick off a major transformation for Windows—one that's long overdue.
Microsoft is likely to reveal at least some of these changes at a September 30 event. Here's a look at all the details that have leaked out so far, and how we expect it all to come together:
MIT researchers have a great new way to protect your privacy on your smartphone: Stop giving your data away.
It doesn’t take a PhD to come up with this statement, but such a feat is clearly easier said than done. Even without NSA spying, a growing number of mobile and web-based apps collect information about us from our devices in exchange for providing a service. Want directions or an idea for lunch nearby? Allowing Yelp to know your location could help. Data collection is also useful when apps can aggregate information for many anonymous users and provide extra services. For example, Google Maps can estimate real-time road traffic conditions because it knows how quickly many people are traveling.
Microsoft continues to push back against a controversial search warrant procedure that the U.S. government, as part of an ongoing narcotics investigation, is using to demand emails stored in Ireland.
On Friday, Microsoft responded to a new court order by repeating its position that it would not comply with the data request, and insisting that the case go before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
While the details of the dispute are largely procedural, the case is significant because it comes at a time of heightened European sensitivity over how U.S. companies treat data stored on servers located in the European Union. As a result, Microsoft and others are anxious to signal to Europe that they will resist certain data demands from the U.S. government.
Dropbox Pro users gain access to a raft of new features including automatically expiring shared links, password-protected sharing, and adjustable permissions. In recent times, Dropbox has moved away from being just a simple cloud storage platform into a cloud-based collaboration tool. Password-protected files sharing is the first line of security that's now available, but it has been bolstered by the ability to have the share automatically stop after a set period. This is something that is particularly useful for sensitive data, and is a helpful addition to the manual disabling of a shared link -- a set-it-and-forget-it option.
Catching up with other file collaborative tools, Dropbox Pro now also takes into account the fact that you might want to share files with others without giving them the option to edit those files. The new ability to add view-only permissions to files and folders has this covered so it is possible to share sensitive files without worrying about them being changed. For anyone using Dropbox on mobile devices, there is always the fear of losing a handset; a new remote wipe feature takes care of this.
Rounding off the news for Dropbox Pro users is a change to the pricing of storage options. Packages have been streamlined so there is now just a single option -- a 1TB tariff for $9.99 per month. This is a huge increase in storage, or a massive price drop depending on how you look at it. Until recently, $9.99 would have gotten you 100GB of storage, while $19.99 per month bagged users 200GB, and $49.99 was the monthly cost of 500GB of storage. The new pricing structure means that twice as much storage is now available for a fifth of the price, making Dropbox Pro and increasingly competitive option.