Apple blocks older Flash plug-in version if Safari, pushes users to adopt new, more secure, version

Posted by:
Date: Friday, July 11th, 2014, 11:51
Category: News, security, Software

flashplayericon

You may not like doing it, but you’re going to have to snag the newest version of Adobe’s Flash Player plug-in.

Per AppleInsider, Apple late Thursday issued a security message saying it has blocked old versions of Adobe’s Flash Player plug-in for Safari, citing a recent flaw that could potentially allow hackers to harvest browser data like cookies.

Users with out of date plug-ins will be met with a message saying, “Blocked plug-in,” “Flash Security Alert” or “Flash out-of-date” when attempting to access Flash content in Safari. Clicking on the alert takes users to Adobe’s Flash installer page, where the latest version of the plug-in can be downloaded and installed.

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Adobe warns against Flash Player security exploit, offers version 14.0.0.125 as fix

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Date: Wednesday, July 9th, 2014, 11:43
Category: News, security, Software

flashplayericon

Even if you’re not crazy about Adobe Flash Player these days, there’s a better reason than usual to upgrade to the new version.

Per AppleInsider and Adobe, a well-known vulnerability in Adobe’s Flash player that could allow malicious users to steal browser data — including cookies — on Macs, PCs, and Linux machines has been exploited for the first time. As such, Adobe has issued a patch and urged users to upgrade their system as soon as possible.

The company says that Flash Player versions 14.0.0.125 and earlier for Mac and Windows and version 11.2.202.378 and earlier for Linux suffer from the bug, which was exploited in a proof-of-concept by Google engineer Michele Spagnuolo. Mac and Windows users should update to version 14.0.0.145 while Linux users should update to version 11.2.202.394.

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Goodbye Aperture, hello Photos

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Date: Monday, June 30th, 2014, 15:10
Category: Announcement, Apple, Mac, photos, Pro Apps, Software, The Apple Core, Yosemite

PhotosPreviewforosx

Last week an Apple spokesperson told TechCrunch that the company would be discontinuing the development of Aperture, Apple’s pro-level photo editing and management application, in favor of the new Photos app that will be released later this year;

“With the introduction of the new Photos app and iCloud Photo Library, enabling you to safely store all of your photos in iCloud and access them from anywhere, there will be no new development of Aperture. When Photos for OS X ships next year, users will be able to migrate their existing Aperture libraries to Photos for OS X.”

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Netflix to abandon Silverlight for OS X Yosemite, go with Media Source Extensions for video streaming on the Mac

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Date: Wednesday, June 4th, 2014, 11:34
Category: News, Software

netflix-logo

Maybe it wasn’t meant to be between Netflix and Silverlight.

According to the cool cats at The Mac Observer, Netflix is finally moving away from Microsoft’s Silverlight for video streaming on the Mac, at least for OS X Yosemite users. The company said it is instead relying on a feature called Media Source Extensions which will give subscribers 1080p quality video without taxing your Mac’s CPU or battery.

Currently, Netflix streaming on the Mac requires Silverlight, which is a multimedia playback and streaming extension from Microsoft. Much like Adobe’s Flash, Silverlight is proprietary and requires users to install extra software on their Mac. In OS X Yosemite, however, no extra software is needed because all the pieces are already in place to support HTML5 video.

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Adobe Creative Cloud updated to 1.6.0.393

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Date: Friday, May 30th, 2014, 10:11
Category: News, Software

Adobe-Creative-Cloud-Logo

In as much as Adobe’s Creative Cloud client has taken some abuse, it’s getting some updates.

On Thursday, Adobe released version 1.6.0.393 of its control hub software for its Creative Cloud suite. The new version, a 2 MB download, offers the following fixes and changes:

– You can now install older versions of Adobe products straight from Creative Cloud Desktop. These are installed side-by-side with existing versions.

– Improved performance when syncing a large number of files.

– Fixed scenarios where font sync would show perpetual spinner.

– Improved overall font sync stability.

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Update Rundown for April 14th, 2014

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Date: Tuesday, April 15th, 2014, 08:31
Category: Apps, Mac, Microsoft, Software

software-updateEvery so often we like to post info on updates of some of our favorite software along with some high profile apps that are pretty essential to anyone on a Mac. This information is brought to you by updates I get from developers, but mostly by MacUpdate, although not officially, because that is what I use to keep all my apps up to date. I also like to add some value by throwing in some extra notes from my experiences. So let’s get to it!

TaskTime4 5.1.5

This app for tracking your time and printing invoices has been my goto for my freelance work for years. It’s inexpensive ($20) and the developer is very responsive.

  • Interface tweaks
  • improved functioning of Category popup menu
  • fixed sorting project reports by clients
  • fixed pause button size problem with autopause enabled
  • fixed stop button issue (moved timing buttons to toolbar)
  • fixed reports bug

 

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Macworld/iWorld 2014 Expo Hall wrap-up

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Date: Tuesday, April 1st, 2014, 09:01
Category: Apple, conference, Developer, iPhone, Mac, Software

2014-expo-floorLast week was a bit of a whirlwind as Macworld/iWorld took over a large portion of my week. Now that I’ve had some time to put together some of the things I saw, I thought I’d provide a brief recap. This year, the convention was held in Moscone Center’s North Hall. The first day, Thursday, was my traditional walk around the show floor which I always do on the first day so I can make some mental notes about what I want to go back and see later. This makes it easier to go straight to the important stuff when you only have about 45 minutes between talks and demos. There wasn’t much that was unique about the Expo Hall this year, except for possibly the two live stages (I only recall one in the past).

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Critical update for Flash released

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Date: Thursday, February 6th, 2014, 09:56
Category: Hack, Mac, Malware, News, security, Software, Windows

adobe-flash-playerEarlier it was Java, now it has been discovered that Adobe’s Flash software also has a vulnerability that gives complete control over compromised systems to hackers. This vulnerability, fixed in the just released version 12.0.0.44, affects Adobe Flash Player 12.0.0.43 and earlier versions for Windows and Macintosh and Adobe Flash Player 11.2.202.335 and earlier versions for Linux, although Linux was listed as having a lower priority rating. Adobe has detailed the problem in a security bulletin. All users are recommended to update Flash on their computers, as well as Google’s Chrome browser which has it’s own Flash component. The version of Chrome that includes this fix is 32.0.1700.107 and should update this automatically, but you may have to restart the browser for the correct version to register in the “About Google Chrome” window. If you want to check which version you are running before going through the update process, you can go to this page on Adobe’s site. You can download OS specific installers from here. Windows users who browse the Web with anything other than Internet Explorer will need to apply two Flash updates, one for IE and one for any alternative browsers (Firefox, Opera, e.g.). Both updaters can be found on the download page. On a Mac, if you already have Flash installed, you can also go to the Flash Player settings in System Preferences and click on the Check for Updates button in the Advanced tab. Our friends at Kaspersky Labs make another appearance in the Acknowledgements of the security bulletin where Adobe thanks them for discovering the vulnerability;

“Adobe would like to thank the following individuals for reporting the relevant issues and for working with Adobe to help protect our customers:

Alexander Polyakov and Anton Ivanov of Kaspersky Labs (CVE-2014-0497)”

So if you’ve got the time now, and you probably should make the time, get those updaters downloaded and installed. Almost makes you want to remove both Java and Flash doesn’t it?

Happy 30th Birthday Mac! My history with the game changing computer

Posted by:
Date: Monday, January 27th, 2014, 09:04
Category: Apple, Article, Consumer Electronics, Desktop Mac, Mac, Software

retouchphoto_apple_macintosh_1984_high_res_clean1-580x386So, Friday was the 30th anniversary of the day Steve Jobs unveiled the Macintosh. That iconic “hello” ushered in the era of the personal computer. I knew I’d have to do the ubiquitous anniversary article, but I didn’t realize how difficult it would be, and how many hours I’d loose strolling down memory lane on Google. Where to even begin?! When the Macintosh was introduced on January 24th, 1984, I was in the second half of my junior year at high school (well great, now I’ve dated myself). I had experience with only two computers in my life at that time, the Apple IIe at school, and my own Commodore 64. At the time, I didn’t know anything about Apple or the fact that there was an event occurring that would end up determining much of the course of my life. The first time I was able to get my hands on a Mac was during my second year of college. Ironically, the lab there had a number of NeXT computers and one lonely Mac (SE I think) in the corner. I remember sitting down at it to see what it was all about and leaving shortly thereafter unimpressed. I still lived in the text-based computing world where the majority of college workstations were running UNIX. At that time, all I knew about was Elm (email), piping, directories, FTP, bulletin boards, 300 baud modems, and word processing (and using language similar to HTML within my text documents to tell the dot-matrix printer to print the word in bold). The Mac didn’t appear to offer me anything I needed. It seemed like a toy, a very expensive $2,495 toy at that.

Then it happened. In 1992, my sixth year in college (don’t judge, I had trouble picking a major), I participated in a one year study abroad program in England, and THAT is when I really “met” the Macintosh. This was the first time I had seen a lab devoted entirely to Macs, and among them was a Macintosh IIfx, which was the 2013 Mac Pro of its day. This Mac was a graphics workhorse running at 40 MHz (that was freaking fast in 1992), with internal codenames like Stealth, Blackbird, and F-16; and had a starting price of $9,900. I’ll let that sink in…ok. Calculating inflation, that works out to be around $16,000 today. Ok, I’ll let that sink in too……..alright. It was also running the brand new System 7 operating system!

By the way, as a side note, a Mac IIfx was used by Industrial Light + Magic’s “Rebel Mac” team (put together by John Knoll, who with his brother Thomas created Photoshop) to computer render the feather that falls and then later blows away in the movie Forrest Gump. Yep, that feather is completely CGI. The chocolate was real.

Adobe-Photoshop-2

Let’s speed this up…so everyone in the design school was using the Macs for every aspect of their projects. Engineering drawings were done in ClarisCAD, project briefs were done in Word (before it was all bloaty), concept photos were done with Photoshop 1.0, and 3D modeling and animating was done with StrataVision 3D (if I remember correctly). Suffice to say, I was blown away. I didn’t know computers could do all that! Once I got back home and started my last year, first thing I did was save up to buy a Mac IIci, which was the predecessor of the IIfx (so I got it cheaper -wink-) but still pretty powerful. Thus began my personal love affair with the Mac. As it happens, the IIci is almost the only one of my former computers that I’ve, regrettably, sold off. However I did so to buy my first laptop (used of course), the Macintosh Powerbook 180c, the first Mac laptop to have a color screen…a whopping 256 colors! I had that as my sole machine, hooked up to an external monitor, for a couple of years (wish I’d known the Duo was coming) until I bought my Macintosh 7500. This was during Apple’s “beige” period and also when their stock plummeted to around $15 a share (god oh god why didn’t I buy 100 shares >.<) and they were going through CEOs like used socks. That was another model that because of its expandability, lasted me a few years, even acting as my only television by using an A/V tuner card.

It was now 1993 and I had just graduated college, and began looking for a job in my field of industrial design. While looking, I took on some part-time jobs to pay the bills, one of which was for a small art studio. This was probably the turning point in what would become my career for the next 15+ years. The art studio sold made-to-order vinyl signs. The machine that cut out all the letters for the sign was controlled by a Mac. As it happened, they began having problems and asked if anyone knew anything about computers. Naturally I volunteered to have a look at it, which was essentially my first technical support job. As the world was pretty much computer illiterate at this time, knowing how a computer worked was a hot commodity I discovered, so I began selling my support services and have been doing so ever since. There was no getting away from the Mac now.

So, by this point, it’s somewhere around 1995 for me, and the Macintosh is on its 11th year in the computer world. The World Wide Web, as it was being called, was still mostly text based and not terribly interesting, possibly because nobody was sure what to do with it. Apple innovates again by creating eWorld, a graphical interface for accessing online services. The service was launched in June of 1994 and the WWW was about to get interesting. While eWorld, as short lived as it was, would make a lasting impact, a game changer was being introduced at the same time that would transform the online world forever, NCSA Mosaic, the first web browser. Mosaic was developed at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, which as it happens is my alma mater. Development of Mosaic began the year I was in England and was discovering the Mac. Spooky eh? More trivia…the computer HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey “became operational” in Urbana, IL in 1992, the same year development on Mosaic began. While not stated, it is assumed HALs systems were created at the NCSA.

eWorld_Apple

Unfortunately eWorld was shut down in 1996 after only 2 years of operation, but it helped move the Web away from a text-based interface to a graphical one, along with America Online. It also may have been the first instance in the computer world of the now common practice of capitalizing the second letter in a name rather than the first. If I recall correctly, I had tried eWorld (I still have the disks), but could not afford the relatively high monthly cost, so instead I used a dial-in connection provided by the University of Illinois which “technically” I was not supposed to be able to use. Because of that, however, I had full access to the web using Mosaic and began getting curious about how web pages were built, thus I began learning HTML and constructing web pages.

After moving to San Francisco, my next Mac would be a used Mac Cube and 17″ Studio Display. Say what you will about the Cube, but it looked awesome! There were actually some unauthorized upgrades you could do, so I eeked out as much life as I could out of it. More trivia…if you’re a Star Trek fan, you may be interested to know that for the series Star Trek: Enterprise, most of the display screens you saw on set were run by 16 Mac Cubes. And let’s not forget when Scotty used an early Macintosh Plus to sort out the formula for Transparent Aluminum.

 Enterprise_G4_Cubes copy

ScottyTalksToMac copy

MacintoshPlus copy

Ok, so we need to pick up the pace, we’re only up to 2001! I’ll tell you what, why don’t I just list out the rest of the products I’ve used or collected from Apple;

  • Mac TV – the only black Macintosh ever made and sold in the US, and you could hook up your VCR to it. I just HAD to have a black Mac.
  • 20th Anniversary Mac, or TAM for short – believe it or not Jony Ive designed this little work of art way before the iMac. Mine sits out kind of like a sculpture. I bought it cheap from a coworker that didn’t have room for it anymore. Lucky me!
  • Powerbook Duo and dock station – super versatile, all the benefits of a laptop and a desktop. Not sure why it didn’t do that well. I believe one model of the Duo was the first Powerbook to sport a trackpad instead of a trackball. Personally, I still prefer the trackball, but hard to get one of those in a Macbook Air.
  • Several other Powerbooks, MacBooks (the toilet seat), titanium, aluminum, you name it. Currently I’m sporting an 11″ MacBook Air.
  • A G5 tower, the “cheese grater” – worst computer in the world if you were in IT. REALLY heavy and the handles cut into your hands. Frankly, I’m glad the behemoth is retired.
  • Newton 130 – I never really got to use the Newton. Apple was phasing it out and there was this hot new thing called a Palm Pilot, and that became my first serious PDA. My first smartphone would be a Palm Treo.
  • Newton 2000 – I still love the Newton. Sorry Steve.
  • QuickTake 200 digital camera – took really low resolution photos, but it was my first digital camera.
  • Mac mini – used it to learn how to run OS X Server
  • Apple TV, both the original and the current “hockey puck”. Hobby? Give us a break Apple.
  • Personal laser printer – YES, Apple used to make printers! Go figure.
  • Studio Display, Cinema Display
  • …aaaaaaand a few iMacs
  • iPhone – I’ve owned every model of iPhone except the iPhone 3G. Two of them were stolen prompting premature upgrades. I originally didn’t think I would go the iPhone route, but eventually the Apple fanboy in me and the coolness factor won me over.
  • iPad 2
  • Retina iPad mini

I’m sure I missed something, but here is a couple of pictures of part of my motley crew.

Newtons copy

Maccollection1 copy

 

So there you have it, my life as seen through my relationship with my Apple products from the last 30 years…well, a big chunk of it anyway. In your many, or few, years using Apple products, which was your favorite or most unique? I’m not sure I can pick, but I might lean towards the G4 Cube. Relate a story of you and your Mac history in the comments.

 

 

Security firms weigh in on Adobe breach, cite 38 million+ user IDs stolen

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, October 30th, 2013, 10:56
Category: Hack, News, security

adobelogo

You’re probably going to want to change your Adobe login and password.

Per Macworld and Krebs on Security, the security breach reported earlier this month at Adobe is turning out to be much more widespread than the company first let on. At least 38 million users have been affected by the early October incident.

When Adobe announced the breach on October 3, it said that attackers stole user names and encrypted passwords for an undisclosed numbers of users, along with encrypted credit or debit card numbers and expiration dates for 2.9 million customers. Krebs on Security has reported on the full extent of the attack, confirming the 38 million figure with Adobe.

The total damage could go beyond 38 million users. According to the article, the 3.8GB file includes more than 150 million usernames and hashed passwords, all taken from Adobe. The same file also apparently turned up on a server with the other stolen Adobe data.

Adobe says that 38 million active users users were affected, whereas the other usernames and passwords could include inactive IDs, test accounts and IDs with invalid passwords. However, Adobe is still investigating, and given the tendency of users to repeat the same usernames and passwords across multiple Web services, inactive account holders could still face a security risk. Adobe is trying to notify inactive users of the breach, and has already reset passwords for active users who were affected.

To make matters worse, Krebs on Security and Hold Security both claim that the hackers stole source code for flagship products such as Photoshop, Acrobat, and Reader. Adobe acknowledged that at least some Photoshop source code was stolen; the company is trying to get the data taken down.

In a blog post, Hold Security suggested that the source code theft could have far-reaching security implications. “While we are not aware of specific use of data from the source code, we fear that disclosure of encryption algorithms, other security schemes, and software vulnerabilities can be used to bypass protections for individual and corporate data,” the firm wrote. “Effectively, this breach may have opened a gateway for new generation of viruses, malware, and exploits.”

Active Adobe users affected by the breach should have received a notification from the company by now, prompting them to change passwords. As always, users can employ several strategies to keep their data safe, such as setting different passwords on each site or setting up a password manager.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.