Intego announces discovery of “Flashback.G” trojan variant, advises caution

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Date: Thursday, February 23rd, 2012, 12:21
Category: News, security, Software

On Thursday, security firm Intego announced that it has discovered more strains of the Flashback Trojan horse. The company says that “many Mac users have been infected by this malware,” especially the latest variant, Flashback.G.

Per Macworld, Intego describes three unique methods that the Trojan horse uses to infect Macs: It attempts to exploit a pair of Java vulnerabilities in sequence, which the company says allows infection with no further user intervention. Failing those two approaches, resorts to social engineering. In that last case, the applet presents a self-signed digital certificate, falsely claiming that the certificate is “signed by Apple Inc”; if you click Continue, the malware installs itself.

To fall victim to the Flashback Trojan horse, you first need to run software. By definition, Trojan horses disguise themselves as other kinds of software, tricking the user into, say, double-clicking an icon to launch a new download—thereby infecting themselves. Note, however, that if you’re still running Snow Leopard and your Java installation isn’t current, a maliciously-coded webpage could cause the malware to install without further intervention on your part, depending on your browser’s security settings.

According to Intego, the latest Flashback.G variant can inject code into Web browsers and other applications that connect to the Internet, often causing them to crash. It attempts to sniff out usernames and passwords that you enter into many popular sites (like banking sites, Google, PayPal, and others), presumably so that the malfeasants behind the software can exploit that information in other ways.

As part of its installation process, the malware puts an invisible file in the /Users/Shared/ folder; that file’s name is variable, but it uses a .so extension. Other files the malware creates include /Users/Shared/.svcdmp, ~/.MACOSX/environment.plist, and ~/Library/Logs/vmLog. It also places a Java applet in ~/Library/Caches.

Intego has stated that its VirusBarrier X6 software can detect Flashback if it’s installed, and even prevent it from installing in the first place.

If you suspect you’ve already been infected, you can check by launching Terminal (in /Applications/Utilities/) and pasting in the code below, and pressing Return:

ls /Users/Shared/.*.so
If the response you see in Terminal includes “No such file or directory,” you’re in the clear. If you instead see a list of one or more files with a .so extension and no “no such file” declaration, you may well have fallen victim to the malware.

If you do find that you’re infected, removing the files referenced above or installing antivirus software like Intego’s should remove any traces of Flashback.

If you’ve seen this trojan on your end or tried this fix, please let us know in the comments.

Google Chrome updated to 17.0.963.46

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Date: Thursday, February 9th, 2012, 07:23
Category: News, Software

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Google Chrome, Google’s new web browser, just reached version 17.0.963.46 for the Mac. The new version, a 35.4 megabyte download, offers the following changes:

– New Extensions APIs.

– Updated Omnibox Prerendering.

– Download Scanning Protection.

– Many other small changes.

Google Chrome 17.0.963.46 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

Google Earth updated to 6.2.0.5905

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Date: Friday, January 27th, 2012, 13:11
Category: News, Software

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On Monday, software giant Google released version 6.2.0.5905 of its popular Google Earth program. The new version, a 34 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

– Seamless imagery of geographic landscapes.

– Improved search results and suggestions.

– Biking and transit directions.

– Screenshot sharing via Google+.

Google Earth 6.2.0.5905 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

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

Google Chrome updated to 16.0.912.77

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Date: Tuesday, January 24th, 2012, 06:39
Category: News, Software

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Google Chrome, Google’s new web browser, just reached version 16.0.912.77 for the Mac. The new version, a 34.9 megabyte download, offers the following change:

– Bug fixes.

Google Chrome 16.0.912.77 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

Google releases Picasa 3.9.2.539 update

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Date: Thursday, January 12th, 2012, 11:07
Category: News, Software

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On Friday, software giant Google released Picasa 3.9.2.539, the latest version of its photo organization program for the Mac. Once installed, Picasa imports (without moving or copying) photos from the iPhoto library as well as other folders and external hard drives on your Mac. The program also includes assorted editing tools for straightening, text generation, red eye removal, collage creation and Photoshop-like effects and adjustments. The new version, a 33.1 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

– Fixed various crashes.

– Fixed an issue with users not being able to log in.

– Fixed some issues with nametags and contacts.

Picasa 3.9.2.539 requires Mac OS X 10.5 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.

Rumor: Apple to ship iPad 3 in March, iPad 4 in October

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Date: Friday, January 6th, 2012, 07:20
Category: iPad, Rumor

It’s the rumors that make technology interesting.

Per DigiTimes, component makers in Taiwan have stated that the so-called “iPad 3” will launch in March with a high-resolution Retina Display, like is found on the iPhone and iPod touch. That will be followed by an “iPad 4” with “killer applications” set to launch in October.

The report claimed that Apple is planning to launch the fourth iPad quickly in October to counter a rumored Google-branded tablet as well as touchscreen devices running Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system. The Taiwanese industry publication said the fourth iPad will feature “much upgraded hardware specifications and integrated applications so as to compete with an array of Android-, Wintel- or WoA (Windows on ARM)-based tablet PCs to be released in the fourth quarter.”

As for the third-generation iPad, the report said it will feature a QXGA display with a resolution of 1,536-by-2,048 pixels. It will also sport longer battery life, but reportedly “may not be so amazing as expected.”

Finally, the publication also reiterated belief that Apple will continue to sell the current iPad 2, but will drop its price to US$399, much like Apple currently does with older iPhone models. Such a move is believed to be in an effort to counter lower priced tablets that are available, such as the Kindle Fire for US$199.

Of course, Friday’s report should be taken with a heavy dose of skepticism, as similar rumors surfaced numerous occasions last year that Apple planned to launch a third-generation iPad in 2011. That, of course, never came to be, and Apple stayed true to its promise of 2011 being the “Year of iPad 2.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Google Chrome updated to 16.0.912.75

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Date: Friday, January 6th, 2012, 07:05
Category: News, Software

google-chrome-logo

Google Chrome, Google’s new web browser, just reached version 16.0.912.75 for the Mac. The new version, a 34.9 megabyte download, offers the following change:

– Bug fixes.

Google Chrome 16.0.912.75 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5 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 feedback and comments.

Rare photo of Steve Jobs surfaces, expresses his opinion regarding IBM at the time

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Date: Friday, December 30th, 2011, 11:56
Category: photos

We miss you, Steve.

Per Andy Hertzfield, a new image from 1983 has been released of Steve Jobs, clad in blue jeans and a leather jacket, expressing his affection for then rival IBM while walking the streets of New York City in the lead up to the launch of the first Mac.

Andy Hertzfield, one of the original members of the Macintosh team that helped pioneer the personal computer revolution alongside Jobs and Steve Wozniak, published the photo to his Google+ page on Thursday in memoriam of the late Apple co-founder and his rebellious spirit.

The 28-year-old Jobs had flown to New York City with Hertzfield for a quick meeting with Newsweek in December of 1983, as the publication was putting together a cover story for the launch of the Macintosh the following month.

“The photo was taken spontaneously as we walked around Manhattan by Jean Pigozzi, a wild French jet setter who was hanging out with us at the time,” Hertzfield said. “Somehow I ended up with a copy of it.”

Although his editor begged him to include the photo in his 2004 book Revolution in The Valley, Hertzfield admitted that he was “too timid” to ask Jobs for permission, especially given that IBM was still supplying processors to Apple for its Mac product line at the time.

Google Voice updated, includes full Sprint network integration

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Date: Wednesday, December 21st, 2011, 12:49
Category: iPhone, News, Software

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This could be useful

Per Electronista, Google on Wednesday quietly rolled an update to its Google Voice app for iOS with a major help to Sprint users. The app now lets iPhone owners on Sprint take full advantage of Google Voice integration on the network. All Google Voice calls on Sprint now get relayed to the native phone component and make it even more a part of Google’s service.

The app catches up to the Android version on any US carrier through support for multi-recipient text messaging that now auto-completes contacts. Messaging now gets a long-expected multi-line text field that tracks characters to avoid splitting messages. Dialing gets another boost through support for single-tap copying and pasting.

The app requires iOS 3.0 or later to install and run.

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

Google’s Schmidt hints at “highest quality” tablet within six months

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Date: Monday, December 19th, 2011, 10:00
Category: Hardware, News

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Where there’s money to be made, there shall be competition.

Per Electronista, Google chairman Eric Schmidt in an interview with Italy’s Corriere Della Sera raised the prospect of a Nexus tablet. The search firm planned to sell a tablet of the “highest quality” within six months’ time. He didn’t mention the Nexus label by name, but Google usually hasn’t marketed anyone else’s tablet itself, even for the reference Xoom.

The timing is such that it would nearly dovetail with plans for Google I/O in June. Google regularly gives away a free device at Google I/O to attendees of the developer-focused show, usually to showcase a new OS. Tips have hinted it might have release Jelly Bean, possibly Android 4.5 or 5.0, at or by the event.

A reference tablet would be an admission that Android tablets may be headed in the same direction as smartphones, where the stock interface becomes the rarity rather than the norm. Most Android 3 tablets launched in 2011 have used the stock interface, but later models and post-launch updates have customized the interface and both guaranteed delayed updates as well as clouded the ability to see the official Google experience.

The tablet would likely be made by a partner like HTC, Motorola, or Samsung, but it would still represent Google co-designing a direct competitor to both other Android partners and to Apple’s iPad.

In other comments, Schmidt wouldn’t comment on the rumored Majel voice command system, saying he wouldn’t comment on future, unannounced products. He insisted Google has long had the “best” voice dictation system and could use it to do things similar to Apple’s Siri. The iPhone 4S-based system has been touted as better since it understands context, follow-ups, and indirect questions where Android’s system is limited to specific syntax.

Thus far, Apple’s been able to dominate the tablet market, so the next year should prove interesting. Let us know what you make of this and we’ll have additional details as they become available.