VPNFilter is a malware traced to Russian hackers which is capable of infiltrating office routers, and potentially able to steal information passing through the router.

While the analysis of the malware’s activity is rather complicated as it uses encryption and unattributable networks, its behavior on networking equipment is particularly alarming, with components that allow for stealing of personal credentials from websites.

It targets routers produced by several manufacturers and network-attached storage devices by at least one manufacturer.

The malware's destructive capability is such that it can render an infected device unusable, which can be triggered on individual victim machines or corporate systems, and it has the potential of cutting off internet access for millions of victims worldwide.

The devices believed to have been affected by VPNFilter are Linksys, MikroTik, NETGEAR and TP-Link networking equipment in the small and home office (SOHO) space, as well at QNAP network-attached storage (NAS) devices.

Some notable infections observed by Cisco occurred in the Ukraine and the Justice Department connected VPNFilter to “fancy bear” - a Russian-linked espionage group.

The US Justice Department announced the security breach that attempted to disrupt a global botnet of hundreds of thousands of infected home and office (SOHO) routers and other networked devices under the control of a group of hackers known as the “fancy bear” - which has been operating since 2007, targeting government, military, security organizations, and other institutions perceived of intelligence value.

The threat is extremely difficult to defend due to the nature of the attack, as the majority of infected devices are connected directly to the internet, with no security devices or services between them and the potential attackers.

The only remedial recommendation from the Cisco’s crack security squad is that concerned institutions should reboot all their routers.

VPNFilter Malware infection detected in over 500,000 Networking routers

Mozilla has finally heeded its developers plea to enable Web Components on Firefox browser, which technology makes it easier for the programmers to create websites and also for the web users.

While Web Components support on Chrome dated back to 2013, it avail developers the ease to create website building blocks, which is reusable without worrying about compatibility issues that may hamper the website.

The technology, however is perhaps a surplus for basic websites, only advanced sites can benefit from it, such as YouTube - which already uses Web components - and when a website running the technology is viewed with a browser that doesn't support it, the website will likely be slower.

Albeit, the major browser makers are only gradually embracing the two big pieces to the technology, Shadow DOM and Custom Elements, which make it possible to isolate chunks of code so that it doesn't disturb other parts of the website, and to allow developers to create their own custom website.

The Web component technology is particularly helpful for big libraries of pre-written software called frameworks, which are now widely used in web programming.

Mozilla sees it as a big step forward, stating that it's the basis of a safer, faster and more productive development model for the Web. It joins the lot of other Firefox improvements targeted at developers which will be arriving later this year according to Mozilla.

For now, Web components only work in the Nightly test version of Firefox, but Mozilla has scheduled to extend the support to the main version of the browser in September.

Finally, Mozilla brings support for Web Components to Firefox browser

Snapchat in the coming weeks will be launching its first Lens that will let users react to sounds, and not just to what it hears, but also what it sees.

While the company has already rolled out the first Lens that reacts to what it hears, the messaging app will be getting more Lenses that react to what it sees, and mimicking ears pulse and eyes glow based on the sounds it hears.

It comes in the form of animal mask with ears that pulse and shine, and eyes that move, based on the sound the phone's microphone detects and also it appears to react more as the volume increases.

Albeit, it's only just a fun and awe-inspiring addition, which many youngsters will find appealing as a poke stuff.

Snapchat has been hard at work to stay one step ahead of Instagram in terms of new features; like the creation of “Shows” with television networks for its Discover section, and launching a Stories Search feature for viewing publicly submitted posts on some topics, among other innovative features, but it is still struggling with growth.

And perhaps, Snapchat with the slew of new features will be more favored by the youth demography, notwithstanding the intense competition from Facebook-owned Instagram, may still gain a strong foothold globally.

Snapchat Lenses to let you react to Sounds and track Objects, among others

The first major Gmail redesign happened just recently, and Google's refreshing design has brought some exciting new features to the web mail client.

While most of Gmail’s new features were lifted from some notable messaging apps, many were already available in Google’s more refreshing messaging app, Inbox by Gmail, with others quite entirely new.

The changes in interface are mere cosmetic, the biggest changes are definitely those in the enhancements under the hood, which concerns users privacy and productivity.

Below is a critical look at what really stand the Gmail system out in it's biggest update so far!

  • The AI Nudge feature

Gmail introduced Nudging, a new artificial intelligence enhancement that reminds you about emails that might need a urgent response. Albeit, other messaging service like Astro and Trove also provide similar feature based on artificial intelligence, Gmail has an edge in that its comes free to all users, while Trove offers the enhancements for enterprise users to improve their communications within the organization.

  • Assistive unsubscribe

Gmail will now offer a further help in flagging email from spammers that you didn’t read by suggesting that you unsubscribe from it. Though, the feature was already offered by Astro, but by a different moniker, Insights with section to unsubscribe links for emails you haven’t attended to lately.

  • Confidential Mode

The "Confidential Mode" let users set “expiration date” to sent emails. While the emails marked as Confidential can’t be copied, forwarded, printed or downloaded, but beyond the edged restrictions is the fact that email can be either secure and less easy to use, or easy; and certainly can't guarantee both conditions.

  • Smart Reply

The Smart reply feature debuted with Inbox by Gmail app, and it was extended to the mobile version of Gmail afterwards. Now it lands on the revamped Gmail, allowing users to reply messages without having to type out any words, by simply replying with a message template sorted out by AI filters.

Smart Reply is built on a system of "recurrent neural networks", with "long short-term-memory" (most useful in predicting an accurate response) devoid of any human interception, meaning that no human is reading your email messages.

According to Google, the encoding of email is handled by one network, which after consuming the words of a message, produces a list known as vector. The vector captures the meaning behind the message, then a second network utilizes "the vector" to create an appropriate reply.

What features in Gmail redesign really stand out from the pack?

The safety of your files and documents shouldn’t be left to luck, as a necessity your smartphone carries all your important information and therefore entrusting these data to a capable hand is a wise choice.

PhoneRescue Data Recovery Software by iMobie is capable of recovering a wide range of file types including: messages, contacts, photos, call history, calendar, reminders, and other data from third-party services.

Just like the moniker, PhoneRescue helps mobile phone users to rescue their beloved information, in scenarios like: accidental deletion, data corruption or outright data loses.

Key Features of PhoneRescue

  • ForceRestore: Help to Save Data from Inaccessible Backups.
  • NO-DATA-LOSS Technology for Max Success Rate.
  • Accurate Data Recovery with SmartCompare and SharpMatch.
  • Thunder-Extraction for Risk-Free Data Recovery.
  • SecureLOGIN with The Strongest Encryption technology.

PhoneRescue can be downloaded on Windows and macOS computer, and you’ll need to connect your iPhone/iPad or Android device to a PC to run the program.

How to Recover Your Data from iOS Device

This scenario is based on MacBook Pro running El Capitan. The PhoneRescue software passed the virus scan as 100% free of virus/malware issues. Also, it is worthy to note that iMobie is an Apple Certified Developer, so there's no reason for fear as its software have passed some rigorous testing by Apple.

And the scanning process is read-only, as such it won't affect any existing data on your device. It explicitly ask your permission before accessing your data from iCloud, but still it is recommended that you keep a back up of your data on the device before using the software.

The download and installation process is pretty easy; it launches with an animation of PhoneRescue icon, which is followed by the “Quick Tips" window. The window contains a list of instructions on how to maximize the process of data recovery.

It offers four recovery modes: Recover from iOS Device, Recover from iTunes Backup, Recover from iCloud, and iOS Repair Tools. But in this review we’d be talking about how to recover your messages from iPhone.

Procedure to Recover Messages on iPhone

This is the first mode and it is best for recovering items deleted from your iPhone including: photos, videos, messages, etc. And it is ideal especially if you don't have backups or you’re unable to retrieve the content from iTunes or iCloud.

First, make sure your iOS device has been recognized by your computer. Then the app will begin to analyze your device, the process takes only a few seconds.

The results will be ready within few minutes, and then you can select the messages you want to restore from the recovery list.

It worthy to note that “Recover from iOS Device” mode tends to discover more files than what was actually deleted, which makes it a bit time-consuming to sort out the particular files you want to recover.

PhoneRescue is perhaps a good choice, when you accidentally delete messages off an iPhone, as it gives you the assurance of recovering your lost data.

The price starts at $49.99 for Single license (1 PC), and $69.99 for Family License (5 PCs). Though, there’s a FREE version for both Windows & Mac to try out the software.

Easy ways to recover deleted Messages and other essential data from iOS and Android Devices

Chromebooks are becoming more popular nowadays, thanks to slew of improvements Google has brought to the cloud-centric operating system, Chrome OS, making it the most secure platform on the planet.

Asides the security edge, Chrome OS is perhaps more powerful as its able to run apps from three additional operating systems, including Windows and Linux.

While Apple and Windows fans claim that their respective platforms can run the Chrome browser, as well as having the benefits of Chromebooks with cutting-edge tools for content creation; and even Linux users arguing that Chromebooks can’t be used for software development.

It behoves us to clear the myths and to assure you of the conceivable alternative in the new reality of Chromebooks.

  • Chromebooks does not support software development
Chromebook's support for Linux makes it a vial platform for developers to create, test and run their apps for phones, tablets and laptops; with popular editors, and able to code in their favorite language or launch projects to Google Cloud with the command-line, all possible on Chromebook.

  • Can't run Windows on Chromebooks
Google has updated Chrome OS to support Windows apps and the new beta version of CrossOver app is available on Chromebooks with free support.

And the Pixelbook is an exciting new step for Chromebooks, as until now it could do little more than browse the web, also bringing support for Android apps to Chromebooks.

  • Chromebooks are limiting & slow
Chromebooks currently run more apps than any OS and these apps run in some form of emulation, so they aren't as fast as on their native platforms. But same aspects of work are slower on other platforms, with the differences more when compared to macOS, Windows or Linux devices.

Pixelbooks can run dozens of tabs and extensions pretty fast, and Google is already working on integrating Intel’s high-performance “Kaby Lake G” processors, with Radeon graphics for faster processing capabilities.

Besides, Chrome extensions are so powerful that its result is basically more of “super internet” that’s way better and functional than the regular use. Albeit, using too many extensions in Chrome does bug it down, and makes it a bit slower on especially outside the chrome environment on Windows or MacOS platforms.

However these problems are not present on high-end Chromebooks, like the Google's Pixelbook; even with Acer Chromebook 13, Chromebook Spin 13 and Chromebook Spin 15 also joining the high-end Chromebook.

Jargon Buster: The most common Chromebook Myths Dispelled

The Java deserialization vulnerability have affected numerous Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) providers, which susceptibility is by deserialization-based remote control execution.

Java object is serializable if any of its superclasses implements the java.io.Serializable interface or its subinterface, java.io.Externalizable, while serialization means the conversion of its state to a byte stream so that it can be reverted back into a copy of the object.

Now, Oracle on accounts of the deserialization vulnerability plans to drop Java serialization which has really been the Achilles heel in SaaS platform security. According to Mark Reinhold, chief architect of the Java platform group at Oracle, the removal of serialization is part of Project Amber, which focuses on productivity-oriented Java language features.

There's a new framework been implemented to replace the current serialization technology, and it will support the Java version of data classes.

The framework would also support graph of records, with which developers could plug in a serialization engine of their choice in various formats such as JSON or XML, and it will enable serialization of records in a more secure environment.

Albeit, the deserialization vulnerability discovered in the Jackson-Databind module (CVE-2017–7525) in June 2017 was patched by creating a blacklist, but it doesn’t accept certain Java classes.

For unsafe serialization data streams to be accepted, there is a way to filter the classes to provide a defense mechanism against the serialization’s security weaknesses. Oracle received many reports about application servers running unprotected ports with the serialization streams, which is more reason the filtering capability has been developed.

Oracle to axe serialization based on Java Deserialization vulnerability

Snapchat's location sharing was criticized after its always-on coordinate broadcast on Snap Map proved rather too intrusive for some users.

Now, the company has reimagined location sharing as it wants to let you send your ongoing real-time location to friends, as more private, closed up feature and ephemeral messaging that is Snapchat’s best shot at staying relevant.

While the idea of location broadcasting have kept some users from exploring the Snap Map, owing to some privacy concerns, but this new feature will perhaps give them enough reason to try it out.

As location shared will only go live for eight hours after you last open the app. At any time, however you can cancel someone’s access from the Snap Map, which you’ll need to go through the location consent flow first, if you’ve never enabled it.

Albeit, it works only with bi-directional friends, you can’t ask for the spot of your favorite Snap star if they're not following you, and you can turn off getting requests if people are spamming you.

Essentially, the location sharing is now built on the privacy people want from Snapchat, rather than the little freaky idea of giving an open access of all your contacts to know your whereabouts on the Snap Map.

Instagram, the Facebook owned platform has been ruthlessly cloning Snapchat's best features, like Stories and Discover, but Snap Map represent one of the app’s best differentiator.

Snapchat reimagines Sharing of Real-time Location on the platform

Amazon's digital assistant, Alexa has just acquired a new skill in the Smart Scheduling feature which allows the popular virtual assistant to cut the time needed in managing personal schedules in the office.

The Smart Scheduling makes it easier for enterprise users to manage personal schedules via Alexa voice commands, with the ability to engage appointments and schedule meetings based on the participants’ timing and availability.

While Alexa is quickly gaining traction among the consumers, the company is also aiming to replicate the success in the workplace by the launch of Alexa for Business service.

The new feature has invariably placed Alexa for Business a step ahead of the competitors such as Microsoft and Google, all of which are also working on voice-enabled task automation enhancements for their respective digital assistants.

Also, the integration with calendar applications is key for Amazon as its main competitors, Microsoft and Google, are already entrenched in the office collaboration space.

Alexa can potentially integrate with other workplace productivity tools, with calendaring as the first point of call; albeit expanding the integration to other productivity tools for the different workflows and tasks will definitely give Alexa more edge in the workplace.

Other productivity capabilities, Amazon is working on includes: recording and transcription of meetings, with providing ‘intelligent’ summary for actionable items and completion of tasks, among others.

Amazon pitches Alexa to Enterprises with Smart Scheduling Assistant

While two-factor authentication is becoming a highly sort after prerequisite for online security, most web users find it pretty hard to set up, and as a result tend to neglect this very critical mechanism for safety.

Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a form of multi-factor authentication method of confirming a user's claimed identity by utilizing a combination of two different factors: something they know, or something at their possession, before giving them access to their account.

It offers a credible security that even hackers find very difficult to beat, and thus many web service providers have implemented it to better safeguard their users account.

Facebook in a bid to encourage more users to implement the security mechanism has simplified the process for two-factor verification, by adding support for third-party authentication apps like Google Authenticator and also streamlining the process to make it easier to set up in the first instance.

The move makes it possible to use the 2FA without entering your phone number on the platform just to bring additional security to your account.

Also, the idea of third-party support is necessitated as SMSes aren’t generally regarded as more secure method for 2FA because hackers can to take control of your SIM and through a process that relies heavily on social engineering, which is something that isn’t possible using hardware-based authentication devices or third-party apps.

The new 2FA support is now available in the “Security and Login” tab in Facebook settings if you wish to implement it right away.

How Facebook makes Two-factor Authentication easier for users on the platform

Twitter has announced the closure of its TV apps on Android TV, Roku and Xbox, which apps’ shutdown could be due to lack of people watching Twitter on TV.

While the shutdown is coming at a period when Twitter is trying to turn its users from third-party apps into using its mobile apps and web clients, as recently, it attempted to kill off popular third-party Mac apps with a series of API changes.

Albeit, Twitter's live streaming content have expanded over the past year, with the TV apps as a way to get the video contents in front of the audience – and particularly those that are looking to watch live sports, follow breaking news and other major world events.

The decision is perhaps tied to GDPR compliance, as Twitter is killing off these apps as they were undeserving of time and attention.

As Xbox and Roku doesn't support a standard regularly supported video player, have made them more difficult to maintain, and the Twitter’s API changes may be a reason too.

However, Twitter for tvOS (Apple TV) and Amazon Fire TV will remain available.

The company launched the two apps to deliver premium livestreaming video to Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV in September 2016, and they were the two that escaped the ax.

Twitter shutting down its TV apps on Android TV, Roku and Xbox

Google has gone full speed in its effort to ensure that every website is HTTPS compliant, as it releases a roadmap for signaling encryption in Chrome browser.

Beginning from October, Google will start marking HTTP sites (non-encrypted websites) as "affirmatively non-secure" in Chrome's address bar. While Chrome will also tag the pages with a red "Not Secure" marker when users enter any kind of data.

According to the Chrome security team, marking all HTTP pages as 'not secure' is a step towards removing Chrome's positive security indicators so that the default unmarked state is secure.

Formerly, HTTP sites were still on the high side to warrant marking all the sites with a strong red warning, but recently the number of HTTPS compliant pages far out number the non-secure sites.

So users should expect that the web is safe by default, and they’ll be warned when there’s an issue, as Chrome’s default unmarked state is now secure. Chrome will roll this out over time, starting by removing the “Secure” wording and HTTPS scheme in September 2018 (Chrome 69).

Albeit, Google had previously announced its signage changes, but now it's taking several more steps along this path.

Google's roadmap for signaling encryption in Chrome browser

The chronological ordering of feed is perhaps more preferred than the algorithmic feed, given that algorithmic feed makes it pretty difficult for users to know if they've seen all of the new updates from the people they follow.

Instagram wants to solve this paradox with a new feature, called "You're All Caught Up" which will enable users to know when all new posts from a give period in time (for instance, in the past 48 hours) have been viewed.

The feature is still in the works, though Instagram has confirmed that it is currently been tested among a limited number of users.

Instagram's earlier switch to algorithmic feed, made most users unable to follow everything their friends had shared on the platform. And this resulted a lot of passive scrolling, as it was termed, meaning that surfed aimlessly in order not to miss out on anything.

When the new feature goes live for all users, Instagram will display a mid-feed banner that says there’s nothing left to see for a user that has seen all of the content their friends have shared in the last 48 hours.

It will read: “You’re all caught up, you’ve seen all new posts from the past 48 hours,” but how that will help to reduce the amount of time spent passively scrolling for missing update remains to be seen.

Instagram is also rolling out a new “Usage Insights” feature to show users how much time they’ve spent in the app, which is coming on the heels of the clarion call for improved digital health for those addicted to social media.

What Instagram's new feature, 'You're All Caught Up' is all about?

Amazon's Marketplace Appstore, is specifically created to help sellers on the platform to manage their inventory and orders, while it will exclusively feature apps running on Amazon Marketplace Web Service (Amazon MWS).

The Marketplace appstore is part of Amazon's push to work more closely with sellers, and the online retail giant is for the first time prioritizing apps created by  its developers, while the Appstore is intended for professional sellers only.

And the integrated web service API, Amazon MWS will enable sellers to build their own apps and also allow them to share data about their inventory, orders and logistics with Amazon in order to automate the tasks.

It could provide a way for more sellers to grow on Amazon, ensuring that shoppers will continue to have more items to buy on the site. The new appstore could also offer a major boost to the developers, by putting their tools in front of an audience of over a million small and medium sized businesses that use Amazon to sell their wares in the United states.

For now, the service is available only in North America through Amazon's main hub for sellers (Seller Central), and include tools to handle pricing, inventory, advertising and other needs for professional sellers.

The developers can join and use it for free, but they are required to submit an application to Amazon and undergo a business and practices training.

Amazon's Marketplace Appstore to help sellers manage inventory, orders and logistics

Microsoft has released a warning about a new variant of the Spectre and Meltdown security flaws, which vulnerability is present in Intel, Arm and AMD chips used in many computers and mobile devices.

The flaw tagged "Variant 4" is the latest variant of the same security vulnerabilities that were first revealed in January, though it's mode of operation is now quite different.

As the moniker Spectre itself, it's like observing a ghost in the machine. The vulnerabilities can be used to read the content of memory across a trusted boundary, thereby leading to information disclosure, and there are multiple vectors by which an attacker could trigger the vulnerabilities depending on the environment.

While personal data can be discerned by watching the cache being updated by the processor's speculative execution engine.

And the speculative-execution design blunders can be exploited by malicious software running on a vulnerable device to extract personal information, such as username and passwords, from protected kernel or application memory.

This fourth variant (CVE-2018-3639) of Spectre security flaws, trails the immediate past variant 3 (CVE-2017-5754), which came after both Variants 1 and 2 known as Spectre (CVE-2017-5753) and (CVE-2017-5715), respectively.

Microsoft, however claims that it is not aware of any exploitable code patterns of this vulnerability class in its software or cloud service infrastructure, but said they are continuing the investigations.

As Microsoft continue to work with industry partners to improve mitigations against this class of vulnerabilities, the best advice had always been to keep you machine's software up-to-date.

A New variant of the Spectre and Meltdown security flaws discovered

Facebook's introduction of terrestrial connectivity systems, Terragraph and Project ARIES date back to 2016, in its bid to make the 60GHz millimeter-wave wireless technology a potential replacement for fiber broadband.

Terragraph leverages technology created to manage Facebook's massive data center infrastructure, with an implementation of IPv6-only nodes, SDN-like cloud compute controller, and a new modular routing protocol for fast route convergence and failure detection.

It incorporates attributes and industrial design required for fast, attractive, and affordable deployment across cityscapes, which makes it a potential replacement for fiber or cable in the homes and businesses, as it eliminates the need to rip up streets and sidewalks.

Now, Facebook has set a time frame of 2019, as when the first terrestrial connectivity technology will be tested.

The trial will be based on a technology called 802.11ay, which is the successor to 802.11ad, which is generally considered to be a wireless backhaul technology, providing the so-called “last mile” connectivity to the home.

Facebook had quipped in February, that two field trials have been planned: in Budapest, Hungary, and in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Albeit, actual replacement of existing wired infrastructure with a wireless technology has been attempted before, like Intel’s grand WiMAX plans that scored a deployment or two in the United Kingdom.

But the foreseen problems, are perhaps the fact that 802.11ay signals travel short distances, about 33 to 100 feet, which means that numerous “small cells” would need to be around the neighborhood, and 5G eventual deployment may render the technology irrelevant.

Facebook's terrestrial connectivity system (Terragraph) billed for 2019 trial

Google has released new V8 JavaScript engine for the Chrome browser and the Node.js JavaScript runtime, with enhancements in language and security features in the Version 6.7 branch, which is still in beta.

The V8 6.7 engine brings support for BigInt by default, while BigInts are a new numeric primitive in JavaScript that can represent integers with arbitrary precision. Also BigInt makes it possible to perform integer arithmetic without overflowing, and serve as the basis of an eventual BigDecimal implementation, which is useful in representing sums of money with decimal precision.

While a PC stores integers in the CPU’s registers (which are usually 32 or 64 bits wide), or in register-sized chunks of memory, which leads to minimum and maximum values, for instance, a 32-bit signed integer can hold values from -2,147,483,648 to 2,147,483,647. But the idea of BigInts is to remove the restriction by such limits.

That also enables countless new possibilities, even as Arbitrary-precision integers unlock lots of new use cases for JavaScript.

Formerly, Java applications with any of these use cases had to resort to userland libraries that emulate BigInt-like functionality. But with BigInt such applications can drop these run-time dependencies in favor of native BigInts, which helps to reduce load time, parse time, and compile time, and above all that it offers significant run-time performance improvements.

The proposal includes two new TypedArray flavors: BigInt64Array and BigUint64Array, and TypedArrays with 64-bit wide integer elements are now possible since BigInts provide a natural way to read and write all the bits in those elements, whereas if one tried to use Numbers for that, some bits might get lost.

For computationally heavy applications on 64-bit values and running on 64-bit hardware, keeping those values in registers would be much more efficient than allocating them as objects on the heap.

Google’s V8 JavaScriptengine gets Language and Security enhancements

For effective communication, artificial intelligent (AI) assistants need to be able to dialogue naturally, instead of the current state of just responding to commands, that's what “conversational AI” hopes to achieve.

Microsoft Research has recorded breakthroughs in the fundamental building blocks of conversational AI, like speech recognition and natural language understanding, which goal has been to expand the vision of computers to a state where they could see, hear talk and understand as humans.

While AI researchers have made great strides in recent years, but teaching computers to understand the full context of human communication is still in its infancy.

Microsoft in its bid to stem the tide, has acquired Semantic Machines Inc., a California-based company that has revolutionized a new approach to building conversational AI, while using the power of machine learning to enable users to discover, access and interact with information and services in a much more natural way, and with less effort.

The acquisition of Semantic Machines, will help Microsoft to push forward to the boundaries of what is possible in natural language interfaces.

And thus, further expand in conversational AI with its digital assistant Cortana, as well as with social chatbots like XiaoIce, which has had more than 30 billion conversations, averaging up to 30 minutes each, with 200 million users across platforms in China, Japan, the United States, India and Indonesia.

Microsoft Cognitive Services and Azure Bot Service will also benefit; and the combination of Semantic Machines’ technology and Microsoft’s AI advances, will ensure more productive user experiences that will take conversational AI computing to the next level.

Microsoft's roadmap to advance the state of conversational AI

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is simply a regulation of the European Union (EU) on data protection and privacy for people within the region.

It's part of the proposal for a comprehensive update to data protection and privacy rules, which was enacted in 2012 to take account of the geological shifts in the handling of information, brought about by the new era of digital economy and since way back in 1995 when Yahoo was still the go-to portal of online activities, when the cookies were yet undone.

The objective therefore is to give people within the EU control over their personal data, and to make the regulatory environment easy for businesses.

While the GDPR was arrived at after more than three years of brainstorming between the EU’s various institutions, theory is that consumer trust is pretty essential to fostering growth in the digital economy and that trust is won by giving users of digital services greater control over their data.

The rules are set to apply to the 28 member countries of the EU come May 25, 2018, with the countries own legislative updates to transit into the new Data Protection laws.

How does GDPR affect Web users?

First of all, let's define what personal data under GDPR could mean; with personal data been any information relating to an identified or identifiable person, and ‘processing’ implying the operation on personal data, including: storing, structuring, or feeding it to systems.

Albeit, the rules has expanded the definition of personal data so that it can now include information such as location data and metadata like online identifiers (such as IP addresses).

Any data that is anonymous, however is outside the scope of the regulation, which often ‘anonymized’ data-sets have been known to be re-identifiable, but relying on the anonymizing process to have zero risk of re-identification is unrealistic.

If you're living in any of the European Union member countries, companies have to comply with your personal data requests starting May 25, with Web companies, like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google, Tinder and Snapchat already making it easy by creating a page on their website to download a zip archive with all your personal data.

For other companies, such as Amazon, you’ll need to send "My Data Request" email, though there's a website by that moniker, My data Request which has created handy email templates for use. Simply copy the message, put your name and contact information and send the email.

What you need to know about GDPR and How it affects Web users?

Facebook could be working at a tool for connecting marketers to influencers on the social network, which platform will afford them the opportunity to team up on their ad campaigns.

The so-called Content Matching search engine will allow advertisers on the social network to select the characteristics of creators they want to partner with for driving their campaign reach, with stats about their audiences, and how to contact them to iron out deals.

According to leaks by AllFacebook.de, a German fans website which leaked screenshots of the purported Facebook’s commercials for the tool, which Facebook has confirmed would be a creator-brand tool.

While as it may seem, Facebook will not initially go for a cut in the deals, but the tool could spur brands into spending more on the social network and thus equip it with much more compelling and original marketing reach.

Facebook will run the ads, while also making sure its entertaining and tolerable for users so that they'd not fall out with the social network.

And on the part of influencers, getting paid on the platform, even though not directly by Facebook, will spur them to add more effort in the quality of contents and perhaps help increase the size of their following on the platform.

Though Facebook is not taking any revenue cut during this testing phase, but may be in the longer-term it will demand a stipend.

Albeit, Facebook is more concerned about the contents been pushed out to users at the moment, more reason it maintains that brand’s pre-made content should not be used, but rather having the creators (influencers) to build up the contents.

Facebook prepping tool to connect Advertisers with social media Influencers

For most Web users, when accessing a secure site on the major browsers like Chrome one signal to always expect is the green padlock icon, now Google says security is so normal that you don't need to see it anymore.

As it stands, all HTTPS websites show the lock icon if you're visiting the page on Google's browser, as a way to show that you're visiting a secure page that's encrypted and therefore protected from hackers.

But Google is pointing out that safe websites should be the norm on the internet now, so the company will be phasing out the green lock icon and "Secure" label next to URLs on Chrome browser. It believes that it has gotten to a point where you're more likely to visit an HTTPS site on Chrome than a nonsecure site.

Google's aim is to ensure that 100 percent of the websites/apps are HTTPS, which as of May 12, 2018 only 83 percent of websites were HTTPS compliant according to stats available on Google Chrome.

It wants to make a bigger deal out of people visiting non-HTTPS websites, with a red warning icon and a "Not secure" label in the URL bar instead, starting this October.

Chrome’s new interface will help users understand that HTTP sites are not secure, as Google continue to move the web towards a secure HTTPS web by default.

According to the company, beginning in July 2018 with the release of Chrome 68, Chrome will mark all HTTP sites as “not secure”.

Google's planned removal of green 'Padlock' icon for HTTPS sites on Chrome

The non-profit browser maker, Mozilla has launched the Firefox 61 Developer Edition, with code inspection and workflow enhancement capabilities, in an effort to woo Web developers.

Firefox 61 will allow developers to inspect and interact with original code in the debugger as though the code have never been minified or bundled, akin to what's obtainable with tools like the Babel JavaScript compiler and the Webpack module bundle.

Mozilla is also building native support to inspect components and scopes in React and other popular frameworks.

The Firefox 61 Developer Edition also implemented a multitier compiler for the WebAssembly bytecode format, for the AARch64 CPU architecture employed in smartphones and tablets manufacturing.

And the Network panel brings drop-down menus for network throttling as well as importing and exporting HTTP Archive (HAR) files.

Additionally, the tools can be arranged to suit a developer’s particular workflow, as tabs that do not fit in the current window can be quickly accessed in an overflow menu.

Other features in Firefox 61 Developer Edition include: CSS stylesheets parsing in multiple threads, dark theme, and for MacOS, browser add-ons is now able to run as a separate, dedicated process, as obtainable on Windows.

The users version of Firefox 61 is scheduled for release in June; meanwhile Web developers can download the Firefox Developer Edition from Mozilla’s webpage.

Mozilla entice Web developers with Firefox 61 code inspection

Facebook's clone of the popular Snapchat feature, Stories has already recorded a milestone of 150 million daily active users, and now the company is poised to monetize this huge userbase.

In the coming months, Facebook plans to bring 5-15 second video ads that users can skip, which advertisers can easily migrate form their Instagram Stories to the platform, and perhaps have Facebook automatically reformat the ads.

Also, the company hopes to give businesses access to more metrics on their Stories performance to bolster patronage, as to convince them that the ads worth their dollars.

But critics claim that the new ads feature may be obtrusive with Instagram Stories, arguing that Facebook is proving there’s no retreating from the fleeting slide format. While Snapchat could see a possible ad slip, especially given the massive targeting data Facebook has on users.

Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, had warned that it must ensure “that ads are as good in Stories as they are in feeds." And that If they don’t do it well, then as more sharing shifts to Stories, that it could hurt their business model.

Remarkably, Instagram Stories also commenced displaying ads after the service crossed 150 million users mark.

However, Instagram reached the milestone barely five months after launch, while it took Facebook Stories about 14 months to hit the mark.

Facebook has continued its improvements on Stories in hopes of making it unique and to attract more of its audience to it, which to its success Snapchat is already beginning to record decline in userbase.

Facebook to commence testing ads in Stories in the United States

The U.S. based tracking company, LocationSmart which aggregates data about the real-time location of mobile phone devices, has a potential bug that could allow anyone access to the data of millions of Americans.

While the bug allow access to data without the need for any password or other form of authentication or authorization, according to security research firm, KrebsOnSecurity.

LocationSmart buys these geolocation from the major US wireless carriers, like T-Mobile, Verizon, AT&T and Sprint; even though the wireless carriers are not permitted to submit the location data to the government, they are allowed to sell to businesses for advertising purposes.

The LocationSmart's website has a bug that makes verifying that a person received the required consent to access the data wasn't properly done.

KrebsOnSecurity cites Robert Xiao, a security researcher at Carnegie Mellon University who after the coverage of Securus and LocationSmart bug, had been poking around a demo tool that LocationSmart makes available on its Web site for potential customers to try out its mobile location technology.

All Xiao needed to do to get access was to have the website return a different format for his requests.

The demo on LocationSmart’s website is a free service that allows anyone to see the approximate location of their own mobile phone, just by entering their name, email address and phone number into a form on the site; which it sends a text to the phone number given by the user and requests permission to ping that device’s nearest cellular network tower.

LocationSmart will then text the subscriber their approximate longitude and latitude, plotting the coordinates on a Google Street View map, once the consent is confirmed.

But the bug is that the service failed to perform basic checks to prevent anonymous and unauthorized queries, which vulnerability could allow anyone with a modicum of knowledge about how Web sites work abuse the LocationSmart demo site to figure out how to conduct mobile number location lookups without having to supply a password or other credentials.

The company has acknowledged the flaw by taking its demo page offline, albeit no official statement has been released as at the time of this post.

LocationSmart's phone-tracking bug allow anyone to track phone's location in real time

Google is relaunching YouTube Music, its take on Spotify, as a Premium service for $10 per month, with membership devoid of video and recasting of YouTube Red, and eventual replacement for Google Play Music.

While Google Play Music, the erstwhile streaming music service from Google will be transitioned to YouTube Music, the company has revealed it will be closing gaps between the two services over the coming month, to migrate some of the features users have grown to accustom with, like the cloud-based MP3 storage locker.

YouTube Music as expressly made for music, will stream official songs, albums, thousands of playlists and artist radio plus YouTube’s tremendous catalog of remixes, live performances, covers and music videos that you can’t find anywhere else - all simply organized and personalized.

And the new YouTube Premium, with the original shows and ad-free viewing of the current YouTube Red, will cost $12 a month. But, Google Play Music subscribers who live in countries where YouTube Red operates will automatically be migrated to YouTube Premium at their current $10 per month price.

The YouTube Premium service is ad-free, with background and offline access across all of YouTube, as well as access to all YouTube Originals including: Cobra Kai, Step Up: High Water and Youth & Consequences.

Google will bey launching the reinvented YouTube Music app in the US, South Korea, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand, followed by another 14 countries in the coming weeks.

Google is transitioning its Play Music service into YouTube Music

If you're looking for a modern and easy to use video editor, Filmora Video Editing Software by Wondershare will be a delight, with intuitive design that makes it super easy for even an amateur.

Filmora Video Editing Software which is available for both Mac and Windows offers the standard benchmark effects, like transitions and overlays, in a clean user interface that can be switched between black and light-gray window borders.

Filmora has four editing modes: Action Cam Tool, Full Feature Mode, Instant Cutter, and Easy Mode; which choices of mode you make will depend on what you want to do exactly, and you'd need to set the program to suit your project.

  • Action Cam Tool

This versatile mode takes you right into a separate module with different tools specifically adapted for dealing with action footage and the sort of “action” project that falls under motion and animation pictures.

Such tools as mostly needed by the genre, consist of Fix, Speed, and Color. While the Fix tools include lens fisheye correction, stabilization, and denoise. Speed, allows you apply freeze frames, speedups, slowdowns, and repeats. Color isn't only about saturation, tint, and temperature, but also lighting adjustments for brightness and contrast.

  • Full Feature Mode

This ushers you right into the Filmora's Full Editor that is a clean and simple; with a three-panel layout for source content, video preview, and timeline across the bottom.

The editor timeline view consists of a Storyboard that shows clip thumbnails, with transitions in between. But you can zoom tracks with a control at the right, though there's no mouse-wheel zooming option or a way to solo or hide individual tracks, but the tracks show audio waveforms, which is pretty helpful.

  • Instant Cutter

The tool is for loading footage and as the name suggest, it offers the ability to instantly isolate segments of the footage and render it immediately in a new file.

And dragging multiple clips onto its window is possible, but only if you've selected its Merge sub-mode. While the Trim mode is for trimming the ends of a single clip, and the interface won't show even more than one clip in the source tray.

But switching to Merge mode can remove any clip from the source tray that you're working on in Trim mode.

  • Easy Mode

The Easy mode offers a semi-automatic mode which makes use of style templates through which you can add video, images and audio.etc Also, you'd have the option to follow a step-by-step- process through to a final video.

Simply dragging a few video clips or digital photos onto it, you can choose a theme, select music, and boom: Motion picture art and your creation takes off! The default installation are about six themes: Simple, Happy, Sport, Love, Travel, and Old Days, though you're required to download content for the first, which several of them are marked Beta.

What are the options for Sharing and Output?

Filmora have most of the output options available, including AVI, FLV, MKV, MOV, MP4, WMV and Filmora actually has a combo of screen recorder, audio equalizer, video stabilization and motion paths built into it! There are also buttons for creating and uploading Facebook, YouTube, and Vimeo movies, as well as DVD burning, with 4K fully supported.

The best part remains that the software is reasonably priced at $39.99 per year or $59.99 lifetime fee. Though there's a Free version that sure makes an easy to use video editor that video creators from amateurs to professionals will find handy!

Filmora Video Editing Software: Easy for even Amateurs who never edited video before

The incognito mode (Private Browsing in Firefox) are a great feature of modern browsers that help protect web users from some low-level tracking techniques.

While incognito windows can't be classified as anonymity tool, but it does open a new window that's more like a newly installed browser in which there are no cookies, no bookmarks, no saved history and pre-filled forms. And each time the incognito window is closed, every information transmitted via the browser is deleted.

Among other tracking techniques, websites can also use cookies to track your browsing history, which reveal your online habits.

Incognito mode Prevent Cookies from tracking web users

Most website have embedded scripts which places a cookie on your computer as you browse. And this cookie will, whenever you visit the site again, be used to identify you.

The cookies also feed back information about which sites you’ve visited, which data can be used to serve targeted advertisements or identify your individual preferences. But using an incognito window to open the sites and articles that you do not wish to be connected to your regular browsing will eliminate the possibility of the cookies following you.

If somebody else has access to your computer, an incognito window can help you hide your activities from them. Also, it is perhaps a much better option than deleting your history altogether, which might raise unnecessary suspicion.

What Incognito Mode doesn't Protect against

Each time you visit a website, your browser will have to obtain the site’s IP address, and it does this by inquiring from a DNS server, "what is the IP address of this website".

The DNS server will then responds with the correct answer, thus allowing you to connect to the website. And the DNS server may record your queries and sell them to advertisers or pass them on to law enforcement.

Now, the Incognito mode won’t be able to stop people from tracking you with your DNS records.

Albeit, there are some free DNS services that promise not to pass on your information, such as OpenNIC. Also VPN providers like ExpressVPN.com also maintain their own DNS service, which comes included with a VPN subscription. It does not keep logs and does not pass on any information to advertisers.

If you use public Wi-Fi or connect to your school or work network, the administrator can see every site you visit. And they are even able to see the contents of the site and all information you exchange with it, for sites not encrypted with HTTPS. And the Incognito windows will not protect you from system administrators.

To minimize the threat of tracking, use Tor or a VPN (or both) to hide your browsing habits from the network administrator.

But always be careful of the computer you are using, especially if it is not yours (such as a computer at school or work). As the owner of these devices may have installed some other tracking software that will steal your information even if you use a VPN or Tor.

How Incognito Mode works & What it doesn't Protect against

While the AI-powered Google News was teased at Google's I/O developer conference, the revamped breaking news apps has finally arrived for both Apple’s App Store and the Play Store as Google had promised.

Google News employ machine learning to comb through complex, fast-breaking news stories and deliver them in easy-to-understand formats in chronological timelines and evolving sequence, including: local news aggregation and foreign stories.

There's a "For You" section containing a brief overview of 5 stories that's selected based on your reading preference and interests. And Google News brings AI smarts to learn users preferences, though users can chose what they'd prefer to read by picking from more or less contents on a preset topic.

The other section is tagged as Headlines, with the latest news across different sections, such as: World, Business, and Tech. But you can also use this section to view Google’s Full Coverage section that breaks complex stories into a series of posts from a variety of sources citing social media posts from Twitter and YouTube.

Google News comes as a replacement for the erstwhile Play Newsstand, albeit there's a new Newsstand section in Google News, that lets you subscribe to news organizations either on a monthly subscription for web access or access more than 1,000 magazine titles in a mobile-optimized reading format.

The Newsstand makes it pretty easy to find and follow popular news sources you trust, as well as discover new ones.

The AI-powered Google News app replaces Newsstand App for iOS and Android

There’s hardly any computer geek that's not familiar with the scenario of data loss, while quite a lot of software are available across all platforms and/or operating systems to salvage the ugly situation.

Wondershare offer lots of utility software in that direction, with the amazing Recoverit Free data recovery Software that is capable of recovering all file types including photos, videos, documents and other files; and also restore data from all storage devices and crashed Windows system or Bootable USB Recovery.

Recoverit's powerful scan is able to discover every bit or bytes of data on any storage device, and the intelligent algorithm makes it pretty easy to recover formatted, deleted or corrupted files in seconds.

Major capabilities of Recoverit Free Data Recovery Software

  • Recovery of files from external storage drives, pen drives and PDAs.
  • Restoration of files, documents, and data lost through accidental deletion or system failure.
  • Restores all files, documents and data permanently deleted from the recycle bin.
  • Recover files from Formatted hard disk drive & files from lost/deleted partition.
  • Restore data after malware or virus attacks & USB Recovery.

Other Unique Features of Recoverit Free Data Recover Software

  • Blazing fast scanning.
  • Support for over 550 file formats, including All major video formats, All major music formats and audio files, among others.
  • Supports full data recovery for all devices with NTFS, FAT16, FAT32, HFS+, APFS, etc.

How to Recover Files from USB Drive

As USB flash drive can easily get damaged or corrupted, and been the most popular storage device to store your important files, Recoverit offers a complete file recovery of all contents in the USB Drive.

Simply follow the Steps below:

First, launch Recoverit Data Recovery software, then select "External Devices Recovery" option, and Click "Next" button and select your USB flash drive which on the list. Click "Start" to the process of scanning for the files.

Recoverit will now start a quick scan to search for the lost files. After the scan is completed, you can preview some of the recoverable files, though it is only applicable for image files.

Per adventure you failed to find your deleted or lost files, you can use the more powerful "All-Around Recovery" mode. It will perform a deep scan and search more files from the USB drive. But, it takes more time to complete the process of scanning.

Once the scan is completed, select the files, folders or documents you want to recover by ticking the checkbox and hit the Recover button. Other data recovery options with Recoverit work in the same format – Simply Scan – Select – Recover; the difference is only the recovery type.

However, the free version of Recoverit can only recover files totaling 100MB, while Larger files/documents would need the premium version of this software.

Recoverit Free data recovery software offers freemium features mostly handy for individual user, while the Pro version, Recoverit Pro pricing starts at $39.95 per annum and it's available for both Windows and Mac PCs.

Recoverit Review: Amazing Free Data Recovery Software from Wondershare

The leading social networking platform, Facebook has been grappling with the issue of offensive and threatening content, with growing criticism on how it controls the content that shows up on the News Feed.

Facebook had formerly relied on users to report offensive content, now the company has resorted to artificial intelligence (AI) to help in cleaning up the News Feed, while the technology needs to improve in order to effectively tackle more linguistically nuanced issues.

While Facebook still retain people that report offensive content, it has thrown its full weight on the use AI to weed out offensive contents even before it appears to anyone.

Facebook has categorized offensive contents into: terrorist propaganda, graphic violence, adult nudity/sexual activity, hate speech, spam and fake news.

According to the company, AI has played an increasing role in flagging inappropriate content, with over 85 percent of the 3.4 million posts containing graphic violence that was acted on in the first quarter been flagged by AI before users reported them.

Facebook maintains that human users remains strategic and is responsible for reporting the balance percentage.

In its Community Standards Enforcement Preliminary Report, released on Tuesday, Facebook says that this combination of People and AI have helped to easily find and flag potentially violating content at scale before many people see or report it.

The social network had successfully disabled about 583 million fake accounts during the first quarter of this year, with the majority happening in minutes after the registration of the accounts.

How Facebook track Contents that violate its Community standards

Google's endorsement of Kotlin for Android app development, and with Kotlin language support in Android Studio will help developers improve the performance of their apps.

The upcoming version of Google's mobile operating system, Android P brings full support for Kotlin, and machine learning enhancements, with better app compatibility, while the support of the language in Android Studio will enable the developers to improve performance.

And Android Neural Networks API (NNAPI) serving as a foundational layer for frameworks like TensorFlow Lite, Caffe2 and others introduced in Android 8.1 will bring additional capabilities, such as: BatchToSpaceND, SpaceToBatchND, Transpose, Strided Slice, Mean, Div, Sub, Pad and Squeeze.

NNAPI is called upon by machine learning libraries, frameworks, and tools to enable developers train their models off-device and deploy them on Android devices.

Android P beta's updated SDK provides system images for testing on the Android Emulator, albeit Android P will gradually limit access over time to non-SDK-provided device interfaces to boost app compatibility.

To boost app compatibility, developers can add an actions.xml file to their application and Slices, an API for developers to design interactive snippets of their UI, which also provides a dynamic, two-way experience for an app UI.

Additionally, new APIs in the Autofill Framework will help save time in filling out forms in password managers, with an implementation of GlobalPlatform Open Mobile API to assist with mobile payments.

Android P is the ninth major version of the Android operating system, with the beta release now available for developers.

Android P: Google entice developers with support for Kotlin and better app compatibility

Facebook has added an option that will enable Messenger users to report offending conversations and allow you to tell what happened in your own words.

While the Messenger app allow users to flag messages in the categories of harassment, hate speech and suicide, and users could only flag inappropriate content on Facebook itself, many users of the Messenger app whom are mobile-only have clamored for the feature to report conversations.

Now, Facebook has launched new tools on mobile for people to report conversations that violate the Community Standards, in order to help minimize bad experiences that can get in the way of people who use Messenger to connect with family and friends, make plans, and share photos and videos with loved ones.

The reporting tools can be accessed from any Messenger conversation on iOS or Android, simply by tapping the name of the person or group with whom you’re having conversation, and scroll to "Something’s Wrong", then select from several categories such as harassment, hate speech, or pretending to be someone else.

After reporting the conversation, you’ll receive a confirmation that it was successfully submitted for review.

Facebook reviews the reports in over 50 languages, making it faster to address issues so that Messenger users can continue to have positive experiences on the platform. And the more granular reporting options in Messenger also makes it easier to report things for the team to review.

The company encourages Messenger users to use the reporting tools, as the more they do, the better assist it get in keeping the Messenger community safe.

Finally, Messenger gets option to report conversations after users demand

Facebook as a follow up to its revised app data retention policy is reviewing “thousands” of apps on its platform, with “thorough investigation” into whether or not the developers misuse its data policy.

The investigation is part of third party applications audit on the platform, which according to Mark Zuckerberg, the company would “investigate apps with access to large amounts of information before the changes on the platform to dramatically reduce data access in 2014, and as well as conduct a full audit of any app with suspicious activity.

It is coming on the heels of the Cambridge Analytica data misuse scandal, with Apps that would not agree to a “thorough audit” subject to outright ban. Now, the tally is around 200 suspicious apps already suspended, albeit Facebook is not specific about the total number of apps it has examined at the moment.

According to Facebook, the investigation process is in full swing, with two phases: the comprehensive review to identify every app that had access to this amount of Facebook data and conduction of interviews, to make requests for information (RFI) — which ask a series of detailed questions about the app and the data it has access to — and perform audits that may include on-site inspections.

The likelihood of large scale data misuse by developers on the platform lends credence that there is a possibility that Facebook will make public the list of all the suspended apps.

Facebook, however will not be doing just on site inspections in every suspicious app instance, but assures that it is investing heavily to make sure this investigation is as thorough and timely as possible.

Facebook suspends over 200 Apps owing to misuse of its data policy