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UK joins US in warning about #Kaspersky Antivirus and Russian software

Britain’s main cyber security agency on Friday warned British government agencies to avoid using anti-virus software from Russian companies, the latest in a series of moves targeting Moscow-based security software maker Kaspersky Lab.

The product box for Kaspersky Anti-Virus, as seen on Kaspersky's website.
Box art courtesy Kaspersky’s website

 

Who are Kaspersky?

 

Kaspersky Labs is a multinational corporation that provides cybersecurity services worldwide. The company does a lot of work in identifying threats to computers, the internet and governments that could damage computers or lead to information getting out that shouldn't be made public; and helps to find solutions. As well as internet security, password management and many other security tools, one of the products Kaspersky is most well-known for developing and selling is its own Antivirus product, Kaspersky Anti-Virus (and also Kaspersky Internet Security), which is used by governments and individuals alike to help protect computers from being compromised or damaged by malicious attacks.

 

Kaspersky Labs is headquartered in Moscow, Russia – a country known to have strict laws over control of data in and out of its borders. Russia lately has been in a lot of hot water with the United States over longstanding allegations that the country attempted to rig the 2016 Presidential Election and has too close ties to current president Donald Trump; and may be secretly attempting to influence America.

 

 

What's going on?

 

The United States have expressed concerns that Kaspersky have "close ties to intelligence agencies in Moscow and that its software could be used to enable Russian spying". In response, Kaspersky has offered to share source code showing how parts of their software works, in order to supposedly prove that Kaspersky does not hand any data over to Russia. This hasn't alleviated the US Government's concerns, however, and Kaspersky’s anti-virus software was banned from US government networks earlier this year.

 

Now, the UK has decided to follow suit.

 

In the United Kingdom, the government organisation responsible for computer security is the UK National Cyber Security Centre. On Friday, its director, Ciaran Martin, penned a letter to departmental permanent secretaries asking them to stop using Kaspersky software, saying that Russian-made software should "not be used in systems containing information that would harm national security if it was accessed by the Russian government."

 

The wording of the letter makes clear that the UK agrees with the US that there are significant concerns that Kaspersky software could be leaking data to Russian governments that would be dangerous if it got out. Martin added that his agency is "in talks with Kaspersky Lab to develop a system for reviewing its products for use in Britain."

 

”We are in discussions with Kaspersky Lab … about whether we can develop a framework that we and others can independently verify,” Martin said in the letter, which was publicly released.

 

What is Kaspersky's reaction?

 

Kaspersky Labs allege their organisation has become a scapegoat in the midst of the rising tensions between America and Russia; and say that it looked forward to working with the NCSC on the issue in a statement released following the NCSC announcement.

 

Should I be worried?

 

At this point in time, there is no real proof that Kaspersky DOES send data that passes through its systems on to the Russian government; or what that data entails. However, the fact the company does dealings with government, corporate and military organisations worldwide, and is itself based in Moscow, makes the possibility impossible to ignore.

 

The NCSC's statement only refers to matters of "national security", saying that Kaspersky software should only be avoided if the possibility of Russians getting ahold of it "poses a significant risk". For most at-home users, therefore, there is nothing to worry about. However, if you are a user of Kaspersky Antivirus, Internet Security or any of their other products; and you find the revelations discomforting or are concerned for your privacy, it may well be worth looking into alternative products just for your own peace of mind.

 

This article first appeared on Technically Motivated


December 2nd, 2017 by CrimsonShade
Posted in General, Technology | No Comments »

Atari’s Ataribox: Company Reveals First Details

The Atari Logo

Atari raised a number of eyebrows earlier this year when it suddenly announced it was getting back into the hardware game and working on a brand new console, called the Steambox. Teaser trailers, a preview of the console’s planned appearance, and a statement from the company – emphasising that they were “taking things slowly” and revealing information gradually to ensure they get everything right – soon followed; but it’s fair to say that we still don’t know much about exactly WHAT the Ataribox is… that is, until today.

 

In a newsletter to subscribers, Atari has finally let loose some information on exactly what the Ataribox is planned to be. The console will be based on PC hardware and offer “a full PC experience for the TV, bringing you streaming, applications, social, browsing, music, and more”, as well as the games. The system will run a customised, lightweight Linux distribution “with a customized, easy-to-use user interface”, not unlike a Steambox. Atari explained the decision to use Linux with the following statement:

 

Most TV devices have closed systems and content stores. Linux lets us be more open; you can access & customise the OS, & you can access games you’ve bought from other content platforms (if compatible with the OS and HW).

 

On the topic of games, Atari have confirmed that the console will come preloaded both with classic Atari titles, and with current-generation titles “from a range of studios”. The company hopes to reveal information on the titles in the coming weeks.

 

Atari’s announcement also put heavy emphasis on the company’s desire to have the Atari community “be part of this launch. We want you to have early access, grab special editions (& pricing) and to have you as active partners in the rollout of Ataribox.” To this extent, the company has announced that the console will undergo an IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaign, planned to launch “very soon”. Atari claim that the Ataribox is currently planned to retail for an expected price range of $249-$299, depending on “specific editions and memory configurations”. Fans fawning over the previously-announced Atari 2600-homaging wood-based design will also be pleased to hear that this edition of the console will be made with “real wood”.

 

The Ataribox is planned to ship in late Spring 2018. We’ll have more news as it gets revealed.


September 27th, 2017 by CrimsonShade
Posted in Gaming, General, Technology | No Comments »

Microsoft Starts Rolling Out Creator Update

 

Microsoft has begun the global rollout of what it is calling the “Windows 10 Creators Update”. Arguably the first major feature expansion of the operating system since the one year anniversary patch, the Creators Update has a wide set of new tools. We’ll break down the new features in just a moment, but if you want to get your hands on the update there are two ways.

 

  1. Get the update automatically via the phased rollout. This will involve making some choices related to your privacy settings (more on that later)
  2. Manually via the Software Download Site.

 

Now then, lets move on to the new creativity tools and features  of the Windows 10 Creators update

 

3D In Windows 10

 

 

Microsoft has added a new app called Paint 3D that allows users to create and modify 3D objects, easily change their color or texture and even turn 2D images into 3D ones. This also ties into an online creative community at Remix3D.com that will allow creators to connect and get access to a library of 3D objects for use within Paint 3D.

This seems to be part of a philosophy present through the update that everyone is a creator and Microsoft is putting the tools to communicate and express ourselves into our hands with this update.

 

Windows 10 Gaming Features

 

We’ve actually covered some of these separately, but it’s worth going over them again. The Creators Update includes built in game streaming to Beam, a service similar to Twitch that was acquired by Microsoft last year. Beam touts the ability to interact with streamers in near real time, and was interesting enough to that several staff here at Sanitarium.FM tested it out. With the Creators Update, gamers will be able to press Windows key + G while playing a game to bring up the game bar, then click the icon to launch Beam.

 

 

In addition, a new section has been added to the Windows Systems Settings: Gaming. This section will allow access to the standard Game bare, GameDVR and broadcasting options, but will also allow access to the new Game Mode. Game Mode is, in theory, a way to dedicate more system resources to your games. It will work with both Win32 games (most Steam games) and UWP games from Microsoft’s own store. While this certainly seems to carry forward with Microsoft’s  promise to better support gaming, early tests with Game Mode showed none to almost no performance increases when it was active.

 

Microsoft Edge Upgrades

 

Edge, Microsoft’s proprietary browser is receiving a lot of attention in the Creators Update as well. The updated version is being touted as faster than Chrome, with Microsoft saying it will stream video up to 3 hours longer than Chrome and 5 hours longer than Firefox while unplugged. This would be a welcome feature for all the laptop users out there that are binge watching The Walking Dead while on the go.

 

A new Tab preview bar is also being added that will allow you to glance at a visual preview of every open tab without leaving the page via touch, mousewheel or a touchpad. To go along with this are two new buttons that let you set tabs aside, moving them out of your way with the option to restore them later.

 

Windows Store and Cortana

 

The built in app marketplace for Windows is getting some attention as well, with digital books becoming available. Readers will be able to find New York Time’s Bestsellers and offerings from  Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins Publishers, Hachette Book Group, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and Ingram Content Group to bring a wide range of authors and genres to the store. Much like the Amazon Kindle app, books purchased through the store front will be available on all Windows 10 devices.

 

Cortana has received some tweaks in the Creators Update, allowing you to control music playback, helping you work easily across multiple PCs by accessing the cloud and can even turn your locked PC into a fullscreen voice activated experience.

 

Wrapping It All Up

 

Theres a lot in the Creators Update, but there are still a few things to touch on.  There are numerous minor visual and security tweaks present in the Creators Update, many of which would take far to long to go over in detail. Then there are the ads. You may have noticed Microsoft slipping ads in all over Windows 10 in the form of app suggestions.  These can be disabled easily enough, but they require accessing a variety of menus to disable specific options, depending on which applications you are using. Fortunately, our friends over at PC Gamer have put together a handy little walkthrough.

 

So. Will you be grabbing the Creators Update right away, or will you wait for the rollout to get to your PC? Which features are you most interested in. Let us know in the comments!


April 13th, 2017 by Digmbot
Posted in Gaming, General, PC, Technology | No Comments »

Windows 10 Creators Edition Available Now – But Keep An Eye On Your Privacy Settings

The wait is nearly over for Windows users. On April 11th, the long-awaited “Creators Update” will launch for Windows 10, bringing with it such useful features as a new “night light” mode that reduces the amount of blue light emitted by your screen so that you an sleep better; a new Windows Defender Security Center where users can tweak their security options in one place; and a Game Mode for better performance while gaming among lots of other tweaks. People who do not want to wait for the update to be offered to them through Windows Update can get ahead of the game by downloading Microsoft’s upgrade tool to apply the update right now – but a recent report suggests privacy-conscious users may want to hold off from jumping on the bandwagon early.

 

According to an article by Tom’s Hardware, which has been backed up by numerous less patient users, Microsoft’s Windows 10 Update Assistant may not honour your Privacy Settings if you use it to upgrade to the Creators Update yourself. Instead, the Assistant tries to use default settings – whether or not you choose to upgrade or clean install the new version – meaning that if you changed your privacy settings when you installed Windows 10 and subsequently use the Assistant, you may need to keep a close eye on just what is being set, or you may find Windows suddenly gathering more data about you than you originally intended.

 

Those default settings encourage you to share your location and provide full diagnostic data to Microsoft to fix issues and improve future iterations of Windows 10. The default options also encourage enabling Cortana and receiving targeted ads rather than generic ones. The good news here is that Microsoft is being much more transparent about the data it collects – and when applying the Creators Update, the privacy options offer up clearer descriptions of what they do and the effects enabling or disabling them will have.

 

If you’re not looking forward to going back through all those checkboxes, however, Microsoft state that when the upgrade is made available through Windows Update some time during April 11th, existing privacy settings WILL be honoured. We’ll know for sure if this is the case soon enough – but as always, it’s wise to look before you leap.


April 10th, 2017 by CrimsonShade
Posted in General, Technology | No Comments »

Sanitarium.FM News Update | 05/04/2017

April 5th, 2017 by Lonesamurai
Posted in Gaming, General, Multiplatform, Nintendo, PC, Playstation, Technology, Xbox | No Comments »

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