Flashback trojan changes tactics, can now install on your Mac without a password

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Date: Monday, April 2nd, 2012, 15:43
Category: News, security, Software

Well, you’ve gotta admit, they’re persistent.

Per Macworld and F-Secure, the Flashback Mac trojan uncovered by security firm Intego last year can now infect your computer from little more than a visit to a website.

Originally, Flashback masqueraded as an installer for Adobe’s Flash Player. Since then, the malware has changed tacks at last once since then, instead pretending to be a Mac software update or a Java updater.

The latest variant, discovered by security researchers at F-Secure and dubbed OSX/Flashback.K, takes advantage of a weakness in Java SE6. That vulnerability, identified as CVE-2012-0507, allows the malware to install itself from a malicious website the user visits, without needing the user to enter an administrator’s password.

No fix is currently available for this vulnerability on the Mac, although the hole was patched in Java for Windows back in February. Unfortunately, Apple has long been criticized for lagging behind Windows when it comes to updating Java for security patches. However, given that Apple rolls out updates every few months, it seems likely that the company will distribute a patch in the not too distant future.

Until then, F-Secure suggests users deactivate Java on their Macs. The company has also given instructions for checking if your system is currently infected by the Flashback Trojan.

It’s also worth noting that the Java vulnerability has recently been included in the popular BlackHole exploit kit used by many attackers.

While there’s no need for widespread panic, the fact that this latest version of the malware can install itself without the user’s password is enough of a reason for concern that some precautions are necessary. Disabling Java is a good step, but the first line of defense is, as always, to be cognizant of the websites you visit and use common sense.

Stay tuned fora additional details as they become available.

Adobe releases Flash Player 11.2.202.228 update

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Date: Wednesday, March 28th, 2012, 07:38
Category: News, Software

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On Wednesday, Adobe released Flash Player 11.2.202.228 for Mac OS X, a 10.7 megabyte download via MacUpdate. The new version includes the following fixes and changes:

- Drivers gating for hardware acceleration relaxed — Previously, the hardware accelerated content was gated to 1/1/2009, however, we have relaxed the driver gating to 1/1/2008.

- Throttling event — This release introduces a new ThrottleEvent. A ThrottleEvent is now dispatched by the stage when the Flash Player throttles, pauses or resumes content.

- Mouse lock, relative mouse coordinates, right and middle click events — Create immersive, panoramic games with infinite scrolling to enable new classes of content, including first-person games.

- Multithreaded video decoding (Windows, Mac OS, and Linux) — The video decoding pipeline is now fully multithreaded. This feature should improve the overall performance on all platforms. Note that this feature is a significant architecture change required for other future improvements.

Flash Player 11.2.202.228 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback, please feel free to hurl your two cents in via the comments.

Adobe releases Photoshop 6 public beta, touts upcoming Creative Suite 6 features

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Date: Thursday, March 22nd, 2012, 07:41
Category: News, Software

Spiffy Photoshop-based things, they’re on the horizon.

Late Wednesday, Adobe released a public beta of its first major update to Photoshop CS6, the company posting a preview now available for download at the Adobe Labs website. The Mac OS X version of the software is a free 984MB download.

According to the company, highlights of the upcoming version of the photo editing application include a new content-aware patch, “blazingly fast performance,” a dark background user interface and “new and re-engineered design tools.” The software will be powered by a new Adobe Mercury Graphics Engine, which promises “near-instant results” from editing tools.

“Photoshop CS6 will be a milestone release that pushes the boundaries of imaging innovation with incredible speed and performance,” Winston Hendrickson, Adobe’s vice president products, Creative Media Solutions, said in a statement.

Users should note that the beta includes features from Adobe Photoshop CS6 Extended, such as 3D editing features and “quantitative imaging analysis capabilities,” that will not be included in the basic version of Photoshop CS6.

After downloading the preview, users are directed to select “Try. I want to try Adobe Photoshop CS6 for a limited time.” Users will then have seven days to activate the beta with an Adobe ID login.

Adobe has yet to announce an official release date for the software, though the press release announcing the public beta says the final release is “expected” in the first half of this year. Some reports have pointed to a May launch for Creative Suite 6.

The Adobe Photoshop 6 preview requires an Intel-based Mac and Mac OS X 10.6 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the preview and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Adobe Lightroom 4.0 released

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Date: Tuesday, March 6th, 2012, 09:27
Category: News, Software

If you loved Adobe’s Lightroom image editing program, you might think highly of version 4.0 which became available on Tuesday.

The new version, which is priced at US$79 for the upgrade version for Lightroom 3.x user (US$149 for the full version) and adds the following features and changes:

- Highlight and shadow recovery.

- Photo book creation with templates.

- Location-based organization including GPS data support.

- A white balance brush.

- Noise reduction and moiré removal tools.

- Enhanced video support including adjustments.

- Emailing from Lightroom.

- Video publishing to Facebook and Flickr.

- Soft proofing for color-managed printers.

Adobe Lightroom 4.0 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Adobe releases Flash Player 11.2.202.221 release candidate

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Date: Thursday, March 1st, 2012, 08:28
Category: News, Software

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Late Wednesday, Adobe released its Flash Player 11.1.102.62 release candidate for Mac OS X. The update, a 10.7 megabyte download via MacUpdate, includes the following fixes and changes:

- Multithreaded Video Decoding (Windows, Mac OS, Linux)* – This release introduces a new fully multithreaded video decoding pipeline which resolves a number of legacy playback issues. This modern architecture will also enable future performance enhancements across all platforms.

- Mouse lock, relative mouse coordinates, right and middle click events – Infinite scrolling and new mouse events to enable first-person shooter experiences.

- Drivers gating for hardware acceleration relaxed to 1/1/2008*** Throttling event**** – This release introduces a new ThrottleEvent.

If you’ve tried the new release candidate and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Adobe releases Flash Player 11.1.102.62

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Date: Thursday, February 16th, 2012, 07:11
Category: News, Software

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Late Wednesday, Adobe released Flash Player 11.1.102.62 for Mac OS X, a 14.1 megabyte download via MacUpdate. The new version includes the following fixes and changes:

- Security enhancements.

Flash Player requires Mac OS X 10.6 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback, please feel free to hurl your two cents in via the comments.

How-To: Run Adobe Flash Player Content on an Adobe-Free Mac

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Date: Wednesday, January 25th, 2012, 08:00
Category: How-To, Software

You either love or hate Adobe Flash Player.

It’s there, it’s useful, but it can also act like a screaming, colicky infant and be more trouble than it’s worth.

Albeit it DOES allow you to watch hilarious cat videos on YouTube, so who are you to argue?

Even so, for those who ever wondered how they could get all the benefits of Flash Player content without having to have Flash Player itself installed on their Mac, one of the Mac Geek Gab podcast listeners contributed an outstanding how-to piece over to the cool cats at the Mac Observer.

Take a gander, see what you think and until HTML5 becomes the de facto standard, this might restore just a tiny bit of your sanity in the process.

Adobe Reader, Adobe Reader Pro updated to 10.1.2

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Date: Wednesday, January 11th, 2012, 07:59
Category: News, Software

On Wednesday, Adobe released version 10.1.2 of its Adobe Reader application. The update, which can also be snagged through the Adobe Update Utility, adds the following fixes and changes:

- On printing a PDF file to a PCL printer via Acrobat or Reader, the italic output in the printout is not correct.

- Mouseover events in interactive PDF form fields do not work properly (Applicable only to Acrobat/Reader10.1.1).

- 3D PDFs may crash when viewed in VMWare.

- Policy protected file keeps incrementing *.DAT file in …Acrobat10.0Security and results in Reader X crashing when closing the file.

- When converting a webpage having a scrollable inline frame only the visible content is converted and content seen on scrolling down is dropped.

- Form submission performance is slow with ZCI on Reader 10.1.

- Product view generated in Catia hides some elements when converted to prw/pdf.

- Repeatedly opening and closing PDFs in one browser session may cause a freeze or crash.

- Form goes into unresponsive state when signing form.

- Fixed critical security vulnerabilities in Versions 10.1.1 and earlier.

- Improved stability.

- Support for Mac OS X 10.7.2.

- Web Capture for Firefox 7 and later.

Acrobat Reader 10.1.2 and Acrobat Pro requires an Intel-based processor and Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new versions and noticed any differences, please let us know what you think.

Adobe releases Lightroom 4.0 public beta, adds slew of fixes and features

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Date: Tuesday, January 10th, 2012, 10:47
Category: News, Software

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On Tuesday, software giant Adobe released a public beta of version 4.0 of its Lightroom photo editing utility. The Lightroom 4.0 beta, a 409 megabyte download (via MacUpdate), adds the following fixes and changes:

- Highlight and shadow recovery brings out all the detail that your camera captures in dark shadows and bright highlights.

- Photo book creation with easy-to-use elegant templates.

- Location-based organization lets you find and group images by location, assign locations to images, and display data from GPS-enabled cameras.

- White balance brush to refine and adjust white balance in specific areas of your images.

- Additional local editing controls let you adjust noise reduction and remove moiré in targeted areas of your images.

- Extended video support for organizing, viewing, and making adjustments and edits to video clips.

- Easy video publishing lets you edit and share video clips on Facebook and Flickr.

- Soft proofing to preview how an image will look when printed with color-managed printers.

- Email directly from Lightroom using the email account of your choice.

The Adobe Lightroom 4.0 beta is available for free and requires Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later to install and run.

Rumor: Intel to bring Thunderbolt port to “first-tier” Windows PCs in April, 2012

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Date: Tuesday, December 27th, 2011, 10:50
Category: Hardware, News

You were wondering when that rather-nifty Thunderbolt port would make its way to Windows PCs and thus spread the use of the technology?

Well, now there’s something of an answer.

Per DigiTimes, Intel has begun notifying PC makers that it will “fully release” the high-speed I/O in April 2012, according to a new report.

Sources from within PC players have stated that “several first-tier” PC vendors are readying Thunderbolt-equipped motherboards, notebooks and desktop computers for release. Sony and Asus are expected to adopt the new technology, while Gigabyte technology will reportedly launch a Thunderbolt-capable motherboard in April of next year.

According to the report, Intel cooperated with Apple exclusively this year in order to “speed up the standardization of Thunderbolt.” As interest in the technology has continued to grow, Intel has readied the technology for “public use.”

Thunderbolt should see even further adoption in the second half of next year as related costs drop. Sources told the publication that the technology will be “standardized gradually in the future” as chip prices fall.

In June, Sony was originally thought to have developed the first non-Mac Thunderbolt PC with its VAIO Z laptop and Power Media dock. However, it was later revealed that the company had used an early version of Intel’s technology that did not match the Thunderbolt standard.

Apple partnered up with Intel to unveil the Thunderbolt I/O in its MacBook Pro lineup this February. The Mac maker quickly added the technology to its products, including the iMac, MacBook Air, Mac Mini and LED Display.

Thunderbolt combines Intel’s “Light Peak” specification with Apple’s Mini DisplayPort to support transfer speeds of up to 10Gbps. The technology uses the PCI Express standard, allowing for a range of peripherals and functions.

The first Thunderbolt peripherals, such as RAID systems and external drives arrived on the market throughout 2011, but high costs have reportedly been a barrier to companies looking to make Thunderbolt accessories.

For its part, Intel claimed earlier this year that Thunderbolt has attracted “tremendous response from the industry,” touting more than twenty companies, including Belkin, Canon, Seagate, Western Digital and Adobe, interested in adding Thunderbolt support to their products.

Also affecting Thunderbolt adoption is the growing presence of USB 3.0. HP, the world’s largest PC maker, has decided to go with USB 3.0 after not finding a “value proposition” with Thunderbolt. Intel has said it will support USB 3.0 alongside Thunderbolt, which is meant to be “complementary,” but some PC industry insiders have claimed that Thunderbolt could “greatly affect” adoption of the competing standard.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.