Monthly Archives: April 2014

Stop using Internet Explorer until security holes are fixed!

BREAKING NEWS

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security advised computer users to consider using alternatives to Microsoft Corp‘s Internet Explorer browser until the company fixes a security flaw that hackers have used to launch attacks.

The bug is the first high-profile security flaw to emerge since Microsoft stopped providing security updates for Windows XP earlier this month. That means PCs running the 13-year old operating system could remain unprotected against hackers seeking to exploit the newly uncovered flaw, even after Microsoft figures out how to defend against it.

The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team, a part of Homeland Security known as US-CERT, said in an advisory released on Monday morning that the vulnerability in versions 6 to 11 of Internet Explorer could lead to “the complete compromise” of an affected system.

“We are currently unaware of a practical solution to this problem,” Carnegie Mellon’s Software Engineering Institute warned in a separate advisory, that US-CERT linked to in its warning.

Versions 6 to 11 of Internet Explorer dominate desktop browsing, accounting for 55 percent of the PC browser market, according to tech research firm NetMarketShare.Google Inc‘s Chrome and Mozilla’s Firefox account for the majority of the rest of the traffic.

News of the vulnerability surfaced over the weekend as Microsoft said its programmers were rushing to fix the problem as quickly as possible. Cybersecurity software maker FireEye Inc warned that a sophisticated group of hackers have been exploiting the bug in a campaign dubbed “Operation Clandestine Fox.”

FireEye, whose Mandiant division helps companies respond to cyber attacks, declined to name specific victims or identify the group of hackers, saying that an investigation into the matter is still active.

“It’s a campaign of targeted attacks seemingly against U.S.-based firms, currently tied to defense and financial sectors,” said FireEye spokesman Vitor De Souza on Sunday. “It’s unclear what the motives of this attack group are, at this point. It appears to be broad-spectrum intel gathering.”

Instead of Internet Explorer, there are many browsers that can be used; Google Chrome, Safari, and FireFox are the most popular.

Internet Explorer

Do NOT Panic! Google+ is Not Dead Yet!

Earlier this week, Google’s Vic Gundotra announced that he would be leaving the company after eight years. The first obvious question is: “Where does this leave Google+?”, Gundotra’s baby and primary project for the past several of those years.

What we’re hearing from multiple sources is that Google+ will no longer be considered a product, but a platform — essentially ending its competition with other social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

A Google representative has vehemently denied these claims. The “news has no impact on our Google+ strategy — we have an incredibly talented team that will continue to build great user experiences across Google+, Hangouts and Photos.”

According to two sources, Google has apparently been reshuffling the teams that used to form the core of Google+, a group numbering between 1,000 and 1,200 employees. There is a new building on campus, so many of those people are getting moved physically as well.

As part of these staff changes, the Google Hangouts team will be moving to the Android team, and it’s likely that the photos team will follow, these people said. Basically, talent will be shifting away from the Google+ kingdom and towards Android as a platform, we’re hearing. Google has not yet decided what to do with the teams not going to Android, and that Google+ is not “officially” dead, just going in a different direction.

It’s not clear, according to our sources’ intelligence, where the rest of the employees will go, but the assumption is that Larry Page will send the bulk of them to mobile roles. Thus showing the public a potential acceleration of mobile efforts in general, rather than Google+. The teams will apparently be building “widgets,” which take advantage of Google+ as a platform, rather than a focus on G+ as its own integral product.

One big change for Google+ is that there will no longer be a policy of “required” Google+ integration for Google products, something that has become required for most product updates.

That doesn’t mean that all G+ integration will go away, though. Gmail will continue to have it, but there may be some scaling back that keeps the “sign-on” aspects without the heavy-handed pasting over of G+.

We’ve heard that the acquisition of WhatsApp by Facebook may have been a factor in the phasing out of Gundotra’s grand experiment. There was a perception that Google had missed the “biggest acquisition in the social space.” Though another source tells us that Google knew what was up with WhatsApp but simply didn’t want to pay out for it.

Google+ is and always has been about turning every Google user into a signed-in Google user, period. If true, these changes dovetail with that focus going forward, with Google+ acting as a backbone rather than a front-end service. That being said, there are a ton of really interesting things going on in Google+ like its efforts in imaging. Having the photos team integrate the technologies backing Google+ photos tightly into the Android camera product, for instance, could be a net win for Android users.

As you will notice, there have been many changes and updates to the way Google products look, interact, and are used in the past few weeks. Expect more of these changes, and just remember, DON’T Panic!