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Malware attack on 400k PCs caused by backdoored BitTorrent app


(credit: Jeremy Brooks)

A recent malware campaign that attempted to install a resource-draining currency miner on more than 400,000 computers in 12 hours was caused by a malicious backdoor that was sneaked into a BitTorrent application called Mediaget, a Microsoft researcher said Tuesday.

The failed campaign is the latest example of what researchers call a supply-chain attack, which aims to infect large numbers of people by compromising a popular piece of hardware or software. Other examples of recent supply-chain attacks include a backdoored update of the CCleaner disk-maintenence program delivered to 2.27 million people, a tainted version of the Transmission BitTorrent client that installed ransomware on Macs, and a collection of malicious Android apps that came preinstalled on phones from two different manufacturers.

One of the more significant supply-chain attacks to come to light was the tampering of the update process for M.E.Doc, a tax-accounting application that’s widely used in Ukraine. The compromised update seeded the NotPetya wiper worm, which shut down computers all over the world last July.

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Razer Blade Pro FHD review: The screen is its best and worst trick


Enlarge / The Razer Blade Pro FHD, complete with a week’s worth of fingerprints on its black-aluminum frame. (credit: Sam Machkovech)

For all of the years we’ve talked about the gaming-hardware company Razer and its range of expensive and (sometimes) remarkably thin gaming laptops, we’ve rarely put those “Blade” machines through extensive testing. The Razer Blade line debuted in 2011 with a flashy multitouch panel that had a screen inside of it—which, at the time, was the most Pimp My Ride tweak we’d ever seen in a laptop. (“Yo dogg, I heard you like screens, so we put a screen… in your trackpad!”)

But we passed that one up, along with most other Razer laptops, except for its 2016 not-quite-gaming entry, the Razer Stealth. As the company has settled into a steadier track record, we wanted to take an opportunity to see where Razer’s purest gaming laptop line has come now that its Blade Pro variant—which has a 17″ screen, but a body that’s still reasonably thin—has a model just a hair shy of $2,000. If you want Razer laptop features like a side-aligned trackpad and a customizable, color-mapped keyboard on your gaming-ready, 17″ laptop, this means you no longer have to pay for Razer’s whopping $3,999 version of the same model.

Our verdict? For a 17″ gaming laptop, the Blade Pro FHD model is totally fine, and if you want that size in an impressively slim body at a $2,000 price point, this one comes with reasonable compromises. But unlike its insanely priced sibling, this Blade Pro UHD model struggles to excite us enough to recommend it—and its price tag—over cheaper and similarly powered gaming laptops.

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Google ends major OS support for Nexus phones and Pixel tablet


The first developer preview for the next major version of Android—Android P—is out today. These releases occasionally come out for supported Google devices, giving developers a heads-up on what changes to expect from a coming release. The supported device list for this release is a little slim, though. The Android P Developer Preview only works on the Pixel 1 and 1 XL, the Pixel 2 and 2 XL, and that’s it. Support has been dropped for the Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, and Pixel C tablet, which is a big change from the Android 8.1 Developer Preview.

After checking with Google, we confirmed that this isn’t a fluke of the developer preview program—the Nexus 5X, 6P, and Pixel C won’t be getting the final release of Android P. While they will still receive monthly security updates, Android 8.1 was the last major Android release for the Nexus phones and Pixel tablet.

The Nexus 6P and 5X launched with an update policy of two years for major OS updates and three years for security updates. They all launched in Q4 2015, so the two-year update window has been closed for some time now. In fact, technically they shouldn’t even have received an update to Android 8.1. Monthly security updates will still continue until at least November 2018.

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Is it time to take the Hyperloop seriously?


Tesla Motors

Imagine traveling the length of the United Kingdom—from London to Edinburgh, 400-plus miles—in under an hour. A journey from Los Angeles to San Francisco would take less than 30 minutes (five hours less than the average drive between the two cities). Your journey would be safe and comfortable, your carbon footprint almost non-existent.

Passengers and cargo would be loaded into a pod, which accelerates gradually via electric propulsion through a low-pressure tube. The pod quickly lifts above the track using magnetic levitation and glides at airline speeds for long distances due to ultra-low aerodynamic drag.

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Code reveals Instagram may be close to launching voice, video chat features


Enlarge (credit: Thomas Trutschel/Getty Images)

Instagram may soon add a new feature that keeps users in the app longer (if that’s even possible). According to a TechCrunch report, icons for “call” and “video call” lie buried in the Instagram and Instagram Direct APKs. This may signal that Instagram is close to debuting voice and video chatting options in its apps, features that have been rumored for the past couple of months. Instagram would not comment on the unearthed icons or its future plans.

In January, the WhatsApp blog WABetaInfo spotted a video chat feature in a non-public version of Instagram, and that discovery sparked rumors of a forthcoming calling feature. This new discovery in the app’s APK could mean that Instagram plans to push out voice and video chatting in its app soon.

Such features would heighten the competition between Instagram and Snapchat, a battle that has been raging for a few years. Snapchat introduced text and video chatting in 2014, and those have been some of the few features Instagram hasn’t yet implemented in its main app. The closest that Instagram has come is Instagram Direct, a standalone app it began testing late last year that lets users send photos and videos to individuals, rather than posting them to a profile as they would in the main Instagram app.

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Charter appeals court loss, still claims it can’t be punished for slow speeds


Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Anders Clark | EyeEm)

Charter Communications is appealing a court ruling that said the ISP must face a lawsuit alleging the company falsely promised fast Internet speeds that Charter knew it could not deliver.

Charter claims that federal regulations, including the recent repeal of net neutrality rules, preempts the lawsuit filed by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman against Charter and its Time Warner Cable (TWC) subsidiary in February 2017.

The New York Supreme Court rejected Charter’s motion to dismiss the case on February 16, but Charter is appealing the decision in a state appellate court. (Despite its name, the New York Supreme Court is not the state’s highest court.)

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Banking Trojan Found in Over 40 Models of Low-Cost Android Smartphones

Banking Trojan Found in Over 40 Models of Low-Cost Android Smartphones BleepingComputerFull coverage

#pch3lp #tech #TheNewz #technology #TechNews
Over 40 models of low-cost Android smartphones are sold already infected with the Triada banking trojan, says Dr.Web, a Russia-based antivirus vendor.

Google expands snippets to answer more questions right in the search results

For years, Google’s “featured snippets” have offered quick answers to users’ search queries by pulling information from web pages and placing it in a box above the search results. This week, Google began rolling out a new snippet experience for web searchers with multiple answers to the question posed in the search box – something that addresses the problem of Google not always understanding the intent behind your query.

As the company explains in a blog post, there are some questions that can be interpreted in different ways. For example, the query “garden needs full sun?” could mean the searcher was asking “what garden plants need full sun?” or “what counts as full sun?” Google’s multifaceted featured snippets, as the new feature is called, will answer both questions with one snippet placed above the other, ahead of the search results.

At launch, the feature is only focused on search queries that could be interpreted in different ways. For example, “tooth pain after a filling” could mean the searcher wants to know why it’s hurting, or how long it will hurt.

But Google says the plan is to expand these multifaceted feature snippets to cover even more query types over time, including to guidance-seeking queries. A query of this type means the web searcher is looking for an answer to a question where many factors could come into play. One example would be, “is it worth fixing my foundation?.” As Google explains, the web searcher may need answers about cost, duration of the project, how the work is performed, and financing costs. This information is also going to be served up in multiple snippets in the future.

Google says it will continue to experiment with snippets over the course of the year, in order to expand coverage.

Of course, snippets haven’t always proved to contain helpful answers. Earlier this year, Google had to tweak the feature to stop serving up wrong and biased answers, after reports emerged about how often snippets featured “improbable or laughably incorrect” information. Some snippets had said things like “women are evil” or Obama was planning a coup, Google admitted when detailing how it was fixing the problem.

The company said it had failed to weigh the authoritativeness of results strongly enough for rare and fringe queries, and often served near-matches in snippets when it didn’t have information available, which made the snippet’s answer look wrong. It addressed both those issues with changes to its search quality rating system, and improvements to how snippets worked. At the time, Google also announced its plans to launch these multi-faceted snippets sometime “soon.”

With the change to snippets, Google is hoping to not make the same mistake of featuring incorrect information. It says if you see a result that you have feedback on (perhaps another wrong or biased answer), you should submit it through the feedback link on the search results page.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Sarah Perez
#pch3lp #tech #TheNewz #technology #TechNews
For years, Google’s “featured snippets” have offered quick answers to users’ search queries by pulling information from web pages and placing it in a box..

Want to Take Stunning Photos? Turn Your Camera Upside Down

At least, it works for Arnau Rovira Vidal.
Laura Mallonee
#pch3lp #tech #TheNewz #technology #TechNews
At least, it works for Arnau Rovira Vidal.

How to Watch Live TV for Free with Plex DVR

Plex’s DVR and live TV service is easy to set up, streams to all of your devices, and can remove commercials automatically. Every cord cutter should set this up.
Justin Pot
#pch3lp #tech #TheNewz #technology #TechNews
Plex’s DVR and live TV service is easy to set up, streams to all of your devices, and can remove commercials automatically. Every cord cutter should set this up.
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