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PayPal cuts off payments to Mega file locker, citing unique encryption

02/27, 10:51am

Visa, Mastercard allegedly pressured by Senator Leahy to cut off Mega

File storage locker Mega has experienced a major setback. Effective immediately, and at the alleged exhortation of the US government, Paypal has ceased processing payments for the service, despite PayPal's reported confirmation that Mega is a legitimate business. PayPal has since said that the company's "unique encryption model" securing its files presents an insurmountable difficulty to confirm legal compliance.

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Briefly: Apple expands Maps info, Visa takes tokens to Europe

02/27, 12:25am

Apple adds gas station location info, school data to Maps app

Apple has added GreatSchools and GasBuddy to its list of sources for data in its Maps program. The latter company is said to be supplying Apple with gas station locations, exact business names and what major gasoline producer they are affiliated with, rather than the gas pricing spot-check that the company is known for. GreatSchools is likewise likely to be providing school locations information rather than specific school information.

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Briefly: Pebble SDK 3.0 preview released, Twitter security update

02/26, 10:22pm

Pebble releases preview of SDK 3.0 with color screen support

Pebble has released a new version of its smartwatch SDK, in preview. Version 3.0 is built with the Pebble Time in mind, including support for 64 colors in apps, a new animation framework, PNG and Animated PNG support, and automatic detection of which platforms the developer wants to build for when compiling. According to the company, developers looking to make apps for the new SDK will need to make relatively few changes to the application to get it to work.

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Opponents, supporters of FCC Net Neutrality, Title II vote speak out

02/26, 2:46pm

Comments come in as expected, with threats of lawsuit and more work needed

As expected, the Federal Communication Commission's votes today have not gone unnoticed by the telecommunications and Internet industry. There are no surprises in the commentary generated by the vote, with posturing and veiled threats being delivered by those impacted negatively by the vote.

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FCC net neutrality vote today, last minute changes made to proposal

02/26, 9:45am

Revisions come at Google, advocacy group request for language clarification

On the eve of the net neutrality vote at the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), chairman Tom Wheeler has reportedly made some changes to the proposal. Reportedly extracted by request of Google and some other public interest groups is a clause that could allow Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to charge websites for delivered content.

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China regulators block governmental purchases of Apple, Intel hardware

02/26, 8:15am

Cisco, Citrix also banned; government cites security concerns

A weekend move by China has stricken Apple, Intel, Cisco, Citrix, and McAfee from approved vendors for governmental purchase. Ostentibly to protect national security interests, the move appears to be more about giving state run and other Chinese companies a leg up on procurements in the country, similar to regulations inside the US government that does the same.

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Pointers: Built-in Text Shortcuts in OS X and iOS 8

02/23, 9:56am

How to use the automatic text expansion in OS X and iOS to save typing

It's a funny world where most Mac users have heard of TextExpander by Smile Software, but so many of us don't even know that OS X has much of the same functionality built in for free. Strictly speaking, it is identical: your Mac can let you type a few characters, and it will expand that out into whole sentences, phone numbers you keep repeating, words you always find difficult to spell, and more -- assuming you've done some pre-configuration.

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MacNN Podcast: MacBook Pro REA, Net Neutrality, Apple customer service

02/22, 10:20pm

The MacNN Podcast for February 22, 2015

The MacNN Podcast hits its third broadcast and like the previous pair, touches on the hot button issues in the tech world! Join this week's hosts, MacNN Editor Charles Martin, alongside staff writer Michelle Elbert, reviewer William Gallagher, Managing Editor Mike Wuerthele, and contributor Sanjiv Sathiah as they discuss the events that got our attention, needed further discussion, or just plain tickled our fancy.

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Lenovo ships tools to remove Superfish adware from notebooks

02/22, 1:36pm

CTO admits Lenovo at fault for installing adware with security vulnerability

Lenovo has admitted wrongdoing in installing adware on its consumer notebooks, one that poses a security risk to its users. The PC producer's CTO Peter Hortensius has admitted "We messed up," with the company not only providing tools to remove the software, but also actively encouraging customers to do so on their affected systems.

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LA school superintendent kills off computer-per-student program

02/21, 11:02am

Apple's contract becoming major issue in 2015 LA election cycle

Signaling a complete end to the Los Angeles Unified School District's (LAUSD) plan of a computing device per student which began with a large and poorly-managed iPad program, Superintendent Ramon Cortines has declared that the district no longer has the funding to continue the effort. Confusingly saying that "education shouldn't become the gimmick of the year" when asked about the program, the school leader said that the district would attempt to provide computers when required for instruction and testing.

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Lenovo shipped PCs with adware pre-installed at the factory

02/19, 12:15pm

Ad-injection, monitoring of secure connections discovered in Superfish adware

Lenovo has been shipping PCs from its factory with adware pre-installed, according to reports. Notebooks from the manufacturer have been found to have Superfish software already installed without user intervention nor permission, with the software being used to inject extra advertising into websites, as well as being a potential security risk for end users.

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RBS, NatWest banks add Touch ID support to mobile apps

02/18, 11:19am

First UK banks to use Touch ID to secure banking apps

Banks in the United Kingdom are starting to use Touch ID in their iOS apps for the first time. The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and NatWest are rolling out Touch ID support to their banking apps starting from tomorrow, allowing bank customers to sign into the app using their fingerprint on iPhones, instead of using the current lengthy passcode system.

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Kaspersky uncovers hacker group that infects hard drive firmware

02/17, 10:10am

Equation Group claimed to have attacked major targets in over 30 countries

A secretive hacking collective that has been active for almost two decades has allegedly been uncovered by Kaspersky Lab. Dubbed the "Equation Group," because of their use of encryption algorithms and obfuscation methods, the hackers are apparently unique in that they created highly-professional tools and used "classic spying techniques" to retrieve data and affect systems used by high-value targets, such as governments, major national organizations, and other political targets.

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Apple, Intel, others sign on to Cybersecurity Framework

02/16, 5:05pm

Mac maker will continue to not share security information with government, however

Apple and Intel are among the US firms that have agreed to sign on to President Obama's new Cybersecurity Framework as a result of a recent summit on the topic held on Friday in Palo Alto, California. The two tech firms are the first in that sector to adopt the measures, which are intended to better coordinate reporting of data and security breaches and the response to them between businesses and the federal government.

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Google offers companies leniency on Project Zero 90-day fix deadline

02/16, 9:54am

Publication of vulnerabilities can take place up to 14 days after 90-day window

Google is making changes to Project Zero, its vulnerability discovery and disclosure scheme intended to promote security improvements in operating systems and other programs, giving companies more leniency in terms of time to develop patches for their software. In a number of cases, vulnerability disclosures will take place later than the fixed 90-day deadline, giving companies up to 14 more days to roll out a fix to their customers.

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MacNN Podcast: Apple Pay, great apps, huge iPhones, Tesla, and more

02/16, 9:45am

The MacNN Podcast for February 16, 2015

The MacNN Podcast hits its second episode and engages on a wide variety of topics! Join this week's hosts, MacNN Editor Charles Martin, alongside staff writer Michelle Elbert, reviewer William Gallagher, and news writer Malcolm Owen as they discuss the events that got our attention, needed further discussion, or just plain tickled our fancy.

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NYT: Hacking group grabs at least $300M from bank malware attacks

02/15, 10:58am

More than 100 banks reportedly affected by hackers since 2013

Hackers have stolen more than $300 million from financial institutions around the world, according to a report from Kaspersky Lab provided to the New York Times. More than 100 banks in over 30 countries have allegedly been the victims of a malware-based attack, which began in 2013, though it appears the criminals behind it employed more sophisticated techniques than other malware intrusions, such as that of Target.

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President Obama issues cybersecurity executive order

02/13, 4:12pm

Specific plans, implementation of order not clear; order taps DHS

Potentially side-stepping some failed legislation, President Obama has announced a new executive order mandating enhanced cyber security for the US. The order, which will be driven by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), is intended to streamline the process of sharing information about threats between US businesses, law enforcement, and the US government itself.

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Apple adds two-step authentication to iMessage, FaceTIme

02/13, 12:38am

Extra layer of security should stop hackers, attackers from gaining access

Almost two years after it first added the option of two-factor verification to its iTunes and iCloud accounts, Apple has activated the extra layer of security for its iMessage and FaceTime services, further protecting users from the possibility of attackers gaining access. The extra step, if enabled, requires verification on another device beyond the usual name and password authentication.

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Researchers claim half of dating apps on Android vulnerable to attack

02/11, 2:58pm

Large proportion of dating apps on Google Play contain vulnerabilities

Users of dating services may be leaving themselves and their employers at risk, by using mobile apps, according to research performed by IBM Security. Researchers claim that a high proportion of dating apps on Android are vulnerable to attack, with 26 out of 41 apps analyzed on Google Play having medium or high severity vulnerabilities, opening the user up to attack.

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Samsung clarifies Smart TV privacy policy, pop-up advertising spotted

02/11, 10:16am

Smart TVs collect voice commands not conversations, Samsung advises

Samsung has clarified its stance on harvesting audio from its smart TV microphones, altering a privacy policy just for its televisions and advising that it does not actively monitor conversations. At the same time, reports are claiming that some smart TV users are being bombarded with advertising while they are watching locally-stored content they paid for in full.

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'Secure our Smartphones' commends kill switch, drop in iPhone thefts

02/11, 9:24am

Initiative praising Apple, Samsung for strides in anti-theft measures

Smartphone thefts have precipitously declined in three major cities that spearheaded an anti-theft initiative that they claim has driven industry trends. According to a joint press release from New York, San Francisco, and London, iPhone thefts alone have fallen 25, 40, and 50 percent, respectively -- the law enforcement group claims that device "kill switches," known in the Apple world as "Activation Lock" and "Remote Wipe," are credited for the drop in stolen devices.

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Pointers: Traveling with Apple gear

02/11, 8:25am

Bringing your 'brains' with you, safely and efficiently

You may have noticed that people rarely use the term "getting away from it all" when they talk about vacations anymore. Unless you are going camping in the middle of absolutely nowhere, or trying to do a cruise ship on the cheap, chances are you are in fact bringing some of "it" with you -- probably in the form of your iPhone, iPad or Mac (or all three) and a connection to the Internet. As jet-setting journalists, we have come up with a few tips for this over the years, which we now pass on to you.

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Briefly: Uber panic button in India, Cricket adds Mexico calling

02/11, 6:58am

Uber adds panic button, share ride status options to app in India

Uber has made changes to its mobile app in India, in order to help with rider safety, following rape allegations against one of its drivers in the country last year. Share my ETA has been replaced by Share Status, which lets the passenger share details of the car and driver' location and appearance to others, with two taps of a button instantly sending details to five pre-selected contacts. The second, a panic button marked with SOS, will help quickly make calls to authorities in the event of an accident or another emergency.

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FCC's Ajit Pai, ex-chairman Powell rally against Title II regulation

02/10, 3:39pm

Press conference by Pai met with angry protestors seeking Title II

Current US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) member Ajit Pai (R) and ex-FCC chairman Michael Powell (R) have come out in opposition to current chairman Tom Wheeler's net neutrality and Title II regulation plan for broadband and cellular data carriers. Both men, aligned with the Republican party and seemingly operating in parallel with efforts in the House and Senate to stop the measure, are calling the chairman's proposal unnecessary given the current climate, and injurious to investment in US broadband.

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Senate throwing in with House; calling for FCC, Obama Title II docs

02/10, 9:44am

Senate DHS chief's committee calling for FCC reasoning, communications

Following a similar move by the House, the Senate has launched its own investigation on the US Federal Communications Commission's upcoming call for Title II legislation of ISPs. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Ron Johnson (R-WI) is giving the FCC two weeks to provide documents related to, and reasoning for, the call for "what new factors" after President Obama's remarks induced the FCC to apply Title II reclassification.

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Apple CEO Cook to speak at White House cybersecurity conference

02/09, 11:36pm

President seeks to strike balance between security and privacy

The Office of the President has announced a forthcoming White House Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection that will take place on Friday, February 13 at Stanford University. President Obama and representatives from business, government, cyber security firms and other interested stakeholders will gather in the hopes of finding a balance between protecting America's interests from the growing threat of cyber-attacks, while still protecting citizen privacy. Apple CEO Tim Cook is among those who have been invited to speak.

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France enacts law to block sites hosting terror, child abuse content

02/09, 10:17am

French ISPs have 24 hours to block content following government request

The French government is now able to order Internet service providers to block websites relating to terrorism and child pornography. The new law, brought into effect following its publication in an official journal and in development since mid-2014, forces ISPs to prevent access to specific content discovered by government officials within 24 hours of a request.

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Privacy policy for Samsung smart TVs warns of conversational recording

02/08, 6:08pm

Personal information overheard by smart TV may be transmitted to third party

Users of Samsung smart TVs may want to avoid having personal conversations away from their television, based on statements discovered within a privacy policy. Part of the document warns that owners of its smart TVs may have their sensitive details passed to another company, if it is overheard by the television while its voice recognition system is in use, something which could worry some privacy-focused individuals.

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TurboTax discontinues state tax filing, cites identity theft fraud

02/06, 6:28pm

Fraudulent filings on the state level on the increase

Intuit, the company behind TurboTax, announced today that it has temporarily stopped the processing of state tax returns, in light of an increasing concerns over fraudulent filings. As of February 5, TurboTax has paused state filings, and Intuit hopes to resume transmitting state filings today. The company is working with state governments to clear up the mystery of the fraudulently-filed returns and allow filing to resume.

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Briefly: Keeper updates for iOS 8.2, PDFpenPro 7 tweak released

02/06, 3:55pm

Keeper updates for iOS 8.2, adds SDK for third-party app integration

Password vault Keeper, a password vault solution that offers the program and basic service for free (with a document backup service available for a fee), has been updated for better compatibility with iOS 8.2. The password vault service can generate, store, and autopopulate highly-complex passwords for the user on all major smartphones, tablets, and computers.

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Silk Road Trial: Ulbricht guilty on all seven charges

02/05, 5:25pm

Jury says Silk Road creator is Dread Pirate Roberts, faces life in prison

The founder and creator of the now-shuttered black market site Silk Road, Ross William Ulbricht, was found guilty by a jury of six men and six women, who deliberated for just 3.5 hours following a week-long trial. The case began in 2013, when Ulbricht was arrested in a library and his laptop seized. Ulbricht denied being the site's leader, the "Dread Pirate Roberts" (a reference from the movie The Princess Bride of a feared foe whose mantle is periodically taken up by successors), claiming that others ran the site. The jury did not believe him.

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Adobe again updates Flash to fix new critical flaw

02/05, 4:17pm

Security issue was being exploited in the wild, affects all platforms and previous versions

Adobe has again had to update it's Flash software for OS X, Windows, and Linux in light of a critical security flaw that allowed remote attackers to take over and control un-updated Macs or PCs, just 10 days after the previous critical fix was issued. The software is now updated to version 16.0.0.305, up from version 16.0.0.297. The update fixes CVE-2015-0313, a zero-day flaw that can be triggered simply by visiting infected websites with Flash turned on.

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New iOS 'XAgent' malware spreads by ad hoc provisioning, infected PC

02/05, 11:11am

Package built for iOS 7, runs on iOS 8; limited possibility of spread

Security researcher Trend Micro has found another malware package that uses Apple's "ad hoc provisioning" feature to install. The software, called XAgent, is part of a phishing attack that harvests contact information from an infected phone, and emails itself to friends of the infected. Users must install the malware themselves, but could be tricked into doing so. Data stolen includes text messages, contact lists, pictures (specifically, screen shots), location information, and a list of installed applications.

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Anthem Insurance hacked, tens of millions of customer data sets stolen

02/05, 9:50am

Company believes medical, financial information safe

Health insurance provider Anthem, and its 37.5 million insured members, are the most recent victims of data theft. The insurer announced late yesterday that a data breach had occurred in one of its databases. Stolen are records containing personal information, including Social Security numbers and date of birth for both current and former employees, as well as customers spanning 10 years of service.

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FCC Chair Wheeler formally announces Title II regulation proposal

02/04, 12:33pm

Proposal to be submitted for FCC discussion before end of the week

Officially launching what will become a highly-contentious fight in Washington DC, US Federal Communications Commission commissioner Tom Wheeler has officially stated that he is submitting "the strongest open Internet protections ever proposed by the FCC," which calls for the banning of paid prioritization, and the blocking and throttling of lawful content and services. The move by the chairman was expected, with AT&T and Verizon both threatening lawsuits to block the regulation.

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Apps downloaded millions of times found to include new delayed malware

02/04, 9:07am

Avast discovers Android app malware that triggers days after initial installation

Millions of Android users are at risk from malicious apps offered for download on Google Play, an antivirus firm has revealed. A card game called Durak downloaded between 5 million and 10 million times, an IQ test, and a history app are all said by an Avast researcher to include malware which can trick users into paying for services or buying apps they do not need.

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Apple Stores to be outfitted with special safes for Apple Watch

02/02, 9:45am

To be used for gold models only

Some Apple Stores are already being equipped with custom safes in order to store the gold Edition models of the forthcomng Apple Watch, sources say. It's thought that the safes will be used to protect both for-sale inventory and any demo units, the latter of which will have to be removed from the showfloor overnight. Because demo hardware will have to stay fully charged, the safes are said to have MagSafe chargers mounted inside.

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Cablevision sues Verizon, claims Wi-Fi ad boasts misleading consumers

01/31, 11:30am

Suit seemingly compares Cablevision's public Wi-Fi with private routers

Cablevision Systems Corporation has filed a lawsuit in federal court for the Eastern District of New York against Verizon Communications, seeking an end to what it calls "its false, misleading and deceptive advertising claims about Wi-Fi service" related to Verizon's new 802.11ac Wi-Fi router, which has yet to see wide rollout. Cablevision's premise is that few customers would actually be in a position to achieve speeds faster than Cablevision's offerings, and it would cost them much more.

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Hands On: 1Password 5.2 (iOS)

01/31, 2:09am

New security and convenience features in this updated password manager

Admit it: if you've already got 1Password, then you use it for creating superbly strong passwords for any site you use -- but the password you use to unlock the app itself is rubbish. That's partly because you've used this password since the dawn of time, and it's ingrained in you, but it's also because changing it across your Mac, iPhone and iPad is a pain. Not anymore. The new update is to the iOS version, but now if you change you password on your Mac, it will automatically change on your iOS devices.

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China to require backdoors, audits for foreign enterprise sales

01/29, 12:48am

Source code mandated to be made available for inspection, other onerous rules

At the end of last year, the Chinese government approved a 22-page set of regulations for the sale of computer equipment to Chinese banks, but that will ostensibly apply to all enterprise sales. The rules require foreign companies to turn over source code, submit to audits, and build "back doors" into hardware and software so that the government can monitor devices. The new rules are expected to be the first in a series to be introduced across the next few months.

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Canada's data surveillance exposed by CBC News, Greenwald

01/28, 8:07pm

Code-Name Levitation collects file download data indiscriminately

Canada's Communications Security Establishment (CSE), the Canadian equivalent to the US's National Security Agency (NSA), has been collecting data from roughly 15 million file downloads per day according to The Intercept journalists Ryan Gallagher and Glenn Greenwald, and CBC News. The surveillance operation, called Levitation, was revealed in a collection of files provided by Edward Snowden.

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BlackPhone manufacturer plugs text messaging bug in secure smartphone

01/28, 3:58pm

Vulnerability found in Silent Text app included with BlackPhone

A flaw in a security-focused Android smartphone's software caused it to be susceptible to attack, according to a security researcher. A now-patched vulnerability in an app included on the BlackPhone allowed attackers to read encrypted messages, contacts stored on the smartphone, and to also remotely control device functions.

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TaiG jailbreak closed off in iOS 8.1.3 update

01/28, 10:25am

Apple credits TaiG team in release notes

Yesterday's iOS 8.1.3 update sabotages the TaiG jailbreak tool, users say. The hack was functional through iOS 8.1.2, outdoing Pangu, which stopped working as of v8.1.1. Although the TaiG team itself hasn't confirmed the problem, Apple's notes for v8.1.3 actually credit the group with finding four security vulnerabilities.

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FCC nixes petition by hotels, disallows Wi-Fi hotspot blocking

01/28, 7:45am

Preceding RM-11737 resolved with public notice against blocking

A petition by Marriott, Hilton, and an association of hotel owners asking for permission to block guests from creating their own Wi-Fi hotspots has been resolved today in a public notice by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Specifically, the blocking of personal Wi-Fi hotspots is prohibited, and will be "aggressively" investigated and acted against, according to the agency.

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OS X 10.10.2 leaves beta, brings predicted changes

01/27, 1:56pm

Upgrades Time Machine with iCloud Drive browsing

Simultaneous with the launch of iOS 8.1.3, Apple has also released the finished version of OS X 10.10.2. As anticipated, the one feature addition is the ability to browse iCloud Drive items from within Time Machine. Elsewhere, the update is dedicated solely to squashing bugs, such as Wi-Fi disconnects, webpages loading too slowly, and various security and stability problems in Safari.

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Apple's iOS 8.1.3 goes live, reduces space needed for OTA updates

01/27, 1:27pm

Generally directed at bugfixes

Apple has released iOS 8.1.3 via iTunes and as an over-the-air download. Though primarily a maintenance update, it does make one important change: reducing the amount of storage that will be needed for future over-the-air upgrades. The amount of space iOS 8 required for an OTA update was a common complaint by users; on 16GB iPhones and iPads, there is frequently too little room left, forcing people to use iTunes instead. Apple hasn't said how much storage will be needed in the future.

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Hour-long Facebook outage caused through internal issue, not hackers

01/27, 9:34am

Facebook denies downtime caused through Lizard Squad hack

A brief one-hour outage of Facebook and Instagram last night was not caused by hackers, the social network has admitted. Refuting claims by a hacking group that it was behind the downtime, Facebook advises it was caused by an alteration on its systems that it quickly repaired, rather than interference from an outside group attacking its servers.

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OS X 10.10.2 will integrate iCloud Drive content into Time Machine

01/26, 11:38am

Update should also fix Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Mail security problems

[Updated with claims about Thunderstrike fix] Apple has seeded a new beta of OS X 10.10.2 to its workers -- build 14C109 -- that includes release notes explaining the update's major changes. The most significant may be the addition of iCloud Drive browsing within Time Machine, which should let people track related changes and find items that were previously stored in the cloud. Apple has also made a number of fixes though, most notably solving a Spotlight vulnerability that automatically loaded remote content in Mail messages.

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Adobe updates Flash again due to critical security flaw

01/25, 10:29pm

All previous versions vulnerable, attacks on un-updated machines seen in wild

Adobe has again had to issue an update to the browser plug-in version of Flash due a critical flaw in the program that allows remote attackers to take over un-updated Macs or PCs, the latter running either Windows or Linux. The company urges users to update to the latest version, first issued on Friday, that patches the problem -- however, all previous versions should be considered at risk, and there are not yet any Chrome browser or standalone updaters available.

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