Archive for May, 2012

The way you control your computer could be changing

Posted May 31, 2012 By David Kolle

 San Francisco start-up Leap Motion wants to bring motion-sensor controls, 100 times better than any other, to your computer for less than $US70.

The Leap is a small 3D motion sensor that goes in front of your computer and creates a 3D interaction space of 8 cubic feet from which you can use your hands and fingers to direct your computer.

The makers of the device, which is reminiscent of Nintendo’s Wii and Microsoft’s Kinect, say it is 200 times more accurate than anything else on the market, no matter the price, and can track your movements “down to a 1/100th of a millimetre.”

“It’s more accurate than a mouse, as reliable as a keyboard and more sensitive than a touchscreen,” the company says on its site. “For the first time, you can control a computer in three dimensions with your natural hand and finger movements.”

Wired Magazine’s Roberto Baldwin was fortunate enough to get some hands on time with the Leap Motion and said he was “somewhat surprised” to discover it to be everything portrayed in the demo video above but predicted it wouldn’t be replacing the computer mouse or trackpad any time soon.

Leap Motion, a San Francisco startup, wants to bring motion sensor controls 100 times better than any other in the world to your computer for less than $US70.

“It will be a secondary input device for most people, and a primary input device for just a few hardcore users,” he said.

If you check out the video above, it looks pretty impressive, but what might be even more impressive is that the company plans to sell the device for $US69.99 and begin shipping its first wave of units by December or January.

“It sounds too good to be true, we know,” the site says. “But, that’s what we specialise in around here.”

The “iPod sized” device, which was inspired by its founders’ frustrations with current 3D modelling technology, connects over USB and will be able to function with both Mac OS X and Windows 7 and 8.

Leap isn’t the only motion sensor technology out there. Earlier this year Microsoft launched the Windows version of Kinect, which is available for $US249.99, but Leap could become its competitor.

Whether the start-up, which also plans to invite developers to create apps for the Leap, can follow through on all of its promises remains to be seen. A lot can change and happen over the course of seven months, especially at start-ups, but if Leap Motion can deliver, what a delivery that will be.

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According to an annual survey by Cisco Systems Inc., the number of internet connections will reach 18.9 billion by 2016, up from 10.3 billion in 2011, driven by a proliferation of smartphones, tablets and other handheld devices.

The number of connections works out to almost 2.5 for each person on Earth in 2016. India is expected to have the fastest rate of Internet traffic growth, followed by Brazil and South Africa, the survey found.

“More and more mobile devices are coming on the network that are causing this growth,” said Doug Webster, a vice- president for San Jose-based Cisco who discussed the report at a news briefing in Washington.

In 2016, the volume of internet traffic is expected to be measured for the first time in zettabytes — or 1 trillion gigabytes, Webster said.

Traffic that year is expected to reach 1.3 zettabytes, or 110 exabytes per month, almost a fourfold increase from about 31 exabytes per month in 2011, the survey found.

That volume will result from the use of more devices, more users, more bandwidth available for transmission and greater use of video for entertainment and business, Webster said.

The Cisco study measures traffic expected to travel over public and private networks, including the internet, managed IP and mobile data traffic from consumers and business users.

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Malware had its “busiest quarter in recent history,” according to McAfee‘s quarterly security report released last week.

Image representing McAfee as depicted in Crunc...The security company registered the biggest increase in malware in four years during the first quarter of this year, bringing the total number of samples to 83 million. Fake antivirus programs declined in popularity, but software with faked security signatures, rootkitsand password-stealing Trojans rose.McAfee counted about 200,000 new examples of password-stealing Trojan horses. A Trojan horses is a stand-alone program that represents itself as some form of legitimate software.

Rootkits are stealth programs designed to enable privileged access to the user’s computer. The report calls rootkits “one of the nastiest classifications of malware.” The Koutodoor rootkit spread fastest last quarter.

Software is “signed” by the vendor to tell users it’s safe to install. A user is more likely to trust Microsoft or McAfee, for example, than an unknown vendor. Scammers capitalize on that trust when they forge the digital signature of a trusted provider in order to boost the chances of having their malware successfully installed on the user’s computer.

Security researchers began to warn that forged security signatures would take off after the success of the proliferation of the Stuxnet and Duqu malware programs that used that deception.

Among botnets, Cutwail was most active during the quarter, recruiting more than a million new machines. Nearly half of all new botnet control servers were in the U.S.

The McAfee report also noted a dramatic increase in malware designed to attack mobile devices that run Android. The total number of identified threats to Android devices more than quadrupled in the first quarter, reaching 8,000. However, part of the bump came from improved detection, according to the report. Most mobile malware aimed at Android did not come from apps offered through the Google Play app marketplace.

The report also found that most mobile malware originated in and targeted China and Russia.

Malware targeting Apple computers also continued to rise steadily. New malware for the Mac exploded in the second quarter of 2011, but this last quarter saw the most new cases since then with about 250.

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Cross-platform worm spreading via Facebook

Posted May 31, 2012 By David Kolle

Malware developers have used Crossrider, a cross-browser extension development framework, to build a click-fraud worm that spreads on Facebook, security researchers from antivirus firm Kaspersky Lab have said.

Kaspersky Lab

Kaspersky Lab

Crossrider is a legitimate Javascript framework that implements a unified API (application programming interface) for building Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome and Internet Explorer extensions.

The API allows developers to write code that will run inside different browsers and, by extension, on different OSes. The framework is still in beta testing and its creators plan on adding support for Safari soon.

“It is quite rare to analyze a malicious file written in the form of a cross-platform browser plugin. It is, however, even rarer to come across plugins created using cross-browser engines,” said Kaspersky Lab malware expert Sergey Golovanov in a blog post on Monday.

The new piece of malware is called LilyJade and is being sold on underground forums for US$1,000. Its creator claims that it can infect browsers running on Linux or Mac systems and that since it doesn’t have any executable files, no antivirus program is designed to look for it.

The malware’s purpose appears to be click fraud. It is capable of spoofing rogue advertisement modules on Yahoo, YouTube, Bing/MSN, AOL, Google and Facebook, Golovanov said. When users view or click on these ads, the malware’s creators earn money through affiliate programs.

In order to spread, the malware leverages its control over infected browsers to piggyback on active Facebook sessions and send spam messages on behalf of authenticated Facebook users.

The links included in LilyJade’s Facebook spam messages direct users to compromised websites that load the Nuclear Pack exploit kit into a hidden iframe, Golovanov said.

Exploit kits like Nuclear Pack attempt to exploit vulnerabilities in outdated software — usually browser plug-ins like Java, Flash Player or Adobe Reader — in order to infect computers with malware.

The concept of malware running inside the browser as an extension is not new, but it seems to be increasingly popular with malware writers. Last week, the Wikimedia Foundation warned users that seeing commercial ads on Wikipedia is most likely the result of their browsers being infected with malicious extensions.

Social networking worms also appear to be making a comeback. Recently, Symantec reported about a new variant of a worm called W32.Wergimog, which spreads by sending spam messages on Facebook, Hi5, Hyves, Linkedin, MySpace, Omegle and Twitter.

On Thursday, researchers from Trend Micro reported about a different worm that spreads through several social networks and instant messaging applications.

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