Best Malware Removal Tools of 2015.


Malware has been on the rise in 2015 bringing us to our annual best malware removal 2015 Ultimate Tools list. Malware is any variety of software that corrupts or causes interference with computers systems. Malware is malicious because it will cause system malfunction, disruption of operation, or leakage of personal information and data from the system.

As a counter to malware,the best anti-malware software is used for protection of computers. Malware removal software in 2015 can:

  • Detect malicious software or programs in the computer and then root it out
  • Or, protect computer systems from the downloading or acquisition of such programs in the first place

Some of the best malware removal 2015 tools were released just this year. These malware removal programs act as a barrier against malicious software which can breach personal data and corrupt system response. The following best malware removal 2015 list contains some of the top software released in 2015;

Top Malware Removal Tools of 2015

  1. Spyhunter 4 Malware Removal:

This one of the best anti-spyware softwares in 2015. Anti-spyware software protects computer systems from Trojans and other bugs that can sneak in the computer system and provide a backdoor for leakage of all the system’s data. It has two variants; a free version that instantly detects malware and a paid version that roots out the found malware.

Spyhunter 4 is certified by West Coast Lab’s Checkmark Certification System and therefore has a quality assurance check that puts it above other releases in this year. All users need to do is install the software and after that, let it run its programming itself. It does regular checks on computer systems, and detects potentially harmful programs from all drives. Once the system detects or suspects any hidden malware, a notification appears that instantly notifies the user that the safety of their computer is hijacked.

One of Spyhunter 4’s most distinguishable features is its ability to root out rootkits, which are another form of malicious encrypted files that cannot be discovered by traditional software. Spyhunter 4 is also capable of eliminating hijacked browser toolbars. The reviews for this consistently corroborate this as a software that manages to search out malware traditional malware removal kits cannot. Another of Spyware 4’s features is its customizability feature that allows for an easier to use interface, essentially allowing even the most basic of users to utilize this software efficiently. The software is quick and easy to download, as well and does not take long to install and run.

  1. MacKeeper Anti-Malware:

Another new malware removal tool hitting the market with a lot of popular reviews is MacKeeper, a cleaning software that roots out malware in Mac computer systems. It cleans out everything from cache to logs and one of its winning features include the ability to highlight disk usage and file search, which traditional malware removal kits generally lack. It also allows for quick disk cleanup.

MacKeeper also roots out corrupted files or even inactive disruptive files to keep the system up and running, in keeping with its System Optimization function. It also blocks sites with potentially harmful contents, essentially highlighting a warning before opening certain URLs. Another of MacKeeper’s special features includes the ability to help users recover accidentally deleted files through the “Files Recovery” technique.

Overall Mackeeper is the only Mac malware removal tool worth downloading in 2015.

  1. MalwareBytes Malware Removal:

A software that is renowned for rooting out the worst of malware through its high scanning function, MalwareBytes’s release has been an improvement on its user interface that allows for easy functioning for even the most basic computer users.

MalwareBytes ease of access features include the ability to let the computer scan run in the background while the user uses all of their computer normally. It can also be installed and run in Safe Mode to avoid interference from Trojan malware that can sneak in and harm computer functions.

  1. Avast Internet Security:

One of the more traditional anti spyware softwares, Avast’s 2015 release has been keeping with the market demand. The malware removalsoftware has a traditional interface and provides a safety firewall against malicious content. It also carries out regular scanning and checks on the computer system, routinely weeding out potentially harmful files from all the drives. One of Avast’s more popular features is the VPN Network access that allows for a highly secured browsing experience, even preventing cookies. Also, two Avast users of different computers can share their desktop and files.

  1. StopZilla Malware Killer:

This is an anti-virus system that roots out all threats from your computer system through its dual anti-virus and anti-malware specifications. It has a real-time function that keeps it on constant scan routine, essentially protecting users’ computers 24/7.The software is best at sorting out hidden infections from the computer system, and like SpyHunter 4, weeds out hidden malware that some other anti-viruses may fail to detect through its Deep Scanning Technology. One of its highly reviewed features is its ability to act as a shield for its own processes. Essentially, instead of being inhibited or corrupted by high-functioning malware, SpotZilla manages to protect itself from attacks and disruption from such malware and therefore, functions smoothly through its routine check-scan-detect-remove process.

  1. Norton Internet Security:

The 2015 security feature makes it even more advanced protection for personal computers than ever before. It has a highly interactive interface that is both easy to use with and highly detailed. It divides the Interface into “Identity, “Security”, and “Performance.” This interface hosts an entire record-keeping section that basically displays the internet security history of the software ever since it has been installed in the computer.

Norton discovers malware by a constant scan feature that keeps threats in check. Any suspicious file activity is instantly detected and highlighted through the program. It can also highlight safe or trusted files and features which will not be harmed during routine scans and removal. Another of its winning features includes the option to prevent children from intrusive malware that can compromise their online identity through the Norton Family control. Another such feature is the software’s Safety feature that allows users to store their sensitive, personal information such as passwords securely without fear of getting hacked.

  1. Kaspersky Anti Virus:

An award-winning best malware removal 2015 program, Kaspersky is renowned for its all rounded services as a malware software remover. It offers everything from a multi-device protection system to a single user protection system. It provides the highest quality firewall against the toughest malware, ranging from Trojans to intrusive bugs and to hacking and spyware software. It allows for customizability and a mix and match security approach that allows consumers to configure the setting according to their anti-malware needs.

It also has real-time protection that carries out a constant security check on every file and every corner of the computer to allow for safer access. It protects consumers’ online internet identity and has a system that inhibits free-will downloading from hidden programs that attach themselves to other downloads.

Kaspersky also provides anti-theft protection against stealing, by providing a remote management access that allows consumers to track their device. It also filters out unauthorized access to the computers’ webcame, preventing hacking of the system’s video storage and file storage as well.

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Watch a DJ control a Tesla coil with his turntable.

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It doesn’t get much better than the world renowned DJ Qbert scratching insanely fast, except when every scratch is not just expressed as sound, but also sparks off of a tesla coil. That’s exactly what took place during Maker Faire Bay Area when DJ Qbert took to the stage to close the event.

Turntables are instruments in their own right. That’s a lesson I learned thanks to DJs Qbert, YogaFrog, and Hard Rich, all members of Thud Rumble this past weekend at Maker Faire Bay Area. The group, founded in 1996 by Qbert and Yogafrog, is made up of long-time Bay Area natives who are striving to take the art of scratching beyond what anyone thought physically possible.

To be sure, scratching is about a DJ’s manual dexterity, aural anatomy, and of course style. But it’s also about the electronics equipment that a DJ uses to help aid in the delivery of sound to the listeners.

These days, DJ performances require turntables, a mixer, and a laptop that holds audio files. Except for the move from vinyl to a laptop as the audio storage medium, little has fundamentally altered in a DJ’s workflow; however, laptops are not an ideal storage solution and are not optimized to match the speed and accuracy of master DJs like Qbert.

Not only is the laptop bulky, but it also introduces latency into the performance. While real-time operating systems (RTOS) exist for industrial applications, they have yet to take hold of the DJ scene.

Often DJs will seek to approximate real-time performance by adding additional RAM, reducing running processes in their OS, using solid state drives, and using high bandwidth connections such as Thunderbolt, but that only partially solves the problem. The crew at Thud Rumble teamed up with the Intel Edison crew to replace the laptop with the Edison.

While not much is public yet about how they’ve accomplished this feat, you can be sure that as soon as we know how they used Edison, we’ll share it with you.

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Test shows if your ISP is throttling your speeds.

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While the Title II classification of ISPs as common carriers was a victory for all, there is growing concern that ISPs could go on with business as usual with clever tricks designed to skirt the rules of the classification.

While knowingly stepping outside the boundaries of the Title II classification carries the possibility of hefty fines and additional regulation by the FCC – for the most part – the average consumer would never realize throttling or degradation was even taking place.

The ‘Internet Health Test‘ by Battle for the Net is an attempt to install a sense of checks and balances for these ISPs by providing a test for Internet users to ensure their speeds aren’t being throttled or otherwise degraded.

To find out if you are experiencing any ISP-related performance degradation, simply click the link above (or below) to hop on over to the Internet Health Test site and press the “Start the test” button. The test runs in a pop-up window and takes just a couple minutes. You’ll be alerted to any performance degradation upon completion.

Screen-Shot-2015-05-21-at-11.28.21-AM Screen-Shot-2015-05-21-at-11.28.46-AM

Test here:

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ATM malware, controlled by a text message, spews cash

The malware can cause a cash machine to start churning out bills

By Jeremy Kirk, IDG News Service  March 25, 2014 12:51 AM ET

A group of enterprising cybercriminals have figured out how to get cash from a certain type of ATM — by text message.

The latest development was spotted by security vendor Symantec, which has periodically written about a type of malicious software it calls “Ploutus” that first appeared in Mexico.

The malware is engineered to plunder a certain type of standalone ATM, which Symantec has not identified. The company obtained one of the ATMs to carry out a test of how Ploutus works, but it doesn’t show a brand name.

Ploutus isn’t the easiest piece of malware to install, as cybercriminals need to have access to the machine. That’s probably why cybercriminals are targeting standalone ATMs, as it is easy to get access to all parts of the machine.

Early versions of Ploutus allowed it to be controlled via the numerical interface on an ATM or by an attached keyboard. But the latest version shows a remarkable new development: it is now controllable remotely via text message.

In this variation, the attackers manage to open up an ATM and attach a mobile phone, which acts as a controller, to a USB port inside the machine. The ATM also has to be infected with Ploutus.

“When the phone detects a new message under the required format, the mobile device will convert the message into a network packet and will forward it to the ATM through the USB cable,” wrote Daniel Regalado, a Symantec malware analyst, in a blog post on Monday.

Ploutus has a network packet monitor that watches all traffic coming into the ATM, he wrote. When it detects a valid TCP or UDP packet from the phone, the module searches “for the number “5449610000583686 at a specific offset within the packet in order to process the whole package of data,” he wrote.

It then reads the next 16 digits and uses that to generate a command line to control Ploutus.

So, why do this? Regalado wrote that it is more discrete and works nearly instantly. The past version of Ploutus required someone to either use a keyboard or enter a sequences of digits into the ATM keypad to fire up Ploutus. Both of those methods increase the amount of time someone spends in front of the machine, increasing the risk of detection.

Now, the ATM can be remotely triggered to dispense cash, allowing a “money mule,” or someone hired to do the risky job of stopping by to pick up the cash, to swiftly grab their gains. It also deprives the money mule of information that could allow them to skim some cash off the top, Regalado wrote.

“The master criminal knows exactly how much the money mule will be getting,” he wrote.

Symantec warned that about 95 percent of ATMs are still running Windows XP, Microsoft’s 13-year-old OS. Microsoft is ending regular support for Windows XP on April 8, but is offering extended support for Windows XP embedded systems, used for point-of-sale devices and ATMs, through January 2016.

Still, Symantec warned that “the banking industry is facing a serious risk of cyberattacks aimed at their ATM fleet.”

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These companies are tracking the fitness of their employees

As the quantified self movement grows, a number of companies are looking to smartphone apps to deliver data-driven insights to create a more productive workforce

by Siraj Datoo, Monday 17 March 2014 12.49 EDT

CHHP Base line Testing

Staff at a London analytics company are obligated to take part in an experiment that sees them using a variety of apps to monitor their entire lives – and according to its founder, if they “didn’t want to do it, [they] were out.”

Rob Symes, founder of The Outside View, believes he is only asking employees to live by the cultural values of the business as a way to understand – and outsmart – competition. “To be brutal, it’s a cool idea … we want the company to unlock its own potential.”

Employees of The Outside View, based in Shoreditch, have to download a variety of smartphone apps that helps them to track everything from the amount of time they sleep, the distance they walk or run, what they eat, how much time they spend sitting at their desk and are even required to input their ‘happiness’ levels.

But that’s not all. Staff are also currently participating in an intensive exercise programme with the help of the Centre for Health and Human Performance (CHHP) on Harley Street, an organisation that traditionally helps those preparing for major surgery – or getting ready to climb Everest.

At the first session a baseline test is performed, giving each participant an idea of their level of fitness. Based on the results, employees are given a nutrition and workout plan.

“The idea is not to just go to the gym but to get an ideal scenario. So it’s not that you have to feel bad for having a muffin [if it makes you happy],” explains Symes, who is also taking part in the project.

Staff then attend tailored weekly sessions at the centre that last between 15 and 30 minutes but can be as effective as a 90-minute workout in the gym.

This is all part of The Outside View’s Health, Wealth and Happiness programme, which Symes refers to as the company’s version of Google’s 20% time (where engineers were given an opportunity to work on side projects).

And the longer the programme has been going on, the more insights that have been revealed.

Although the programme hasn’t been without its technical hitches. According to Symes, the main issue is the lack of collaboration between apps. “The biggest problem is not being able to have this data in one place.”

Employees currently track how much they walk, run or cycle using a smartphone app, Moves, sleep through another app, Sleep Cycle, and keep tabs on what they eat through Meal Snap, which counts the number of calories after the user uploads an image of their meal.

The final app they use, Mappiness, is possibly the most sophisticated of the lot. Users receive push notifications to their phones twice a day and are asked a series of questions, including how happy they are and how awake and relaxed they feel.

The app also asks users to provide context; where they are, what type of people they are around (colleagues or family, for example), whether they’re indoors or outdoors and even what they’re doing. This allows the app to give a detailed analysis on when the users are happiest and what kind of things they might want to avoid.

But by itself, data about your sleep isn’t useful but it might prove to be more insightful if it was mapped alongside your happiness levels.

For The Outside View, the experiment is about finding a way to have a more productive workforce, where staff can use the data to learn from each other.

This is all part of the growing ‘quantified self’ movement, where individuals monitor various aspects of their behaviour. Indeed, Amazon’s best-selling Christmas holiday health and personal care item in the US wasn’t a toothbrush or a shaver but the Fitbit Flex, a sleep, exercise and health tracker.

As technology plays a more important, fluid and perhaps even necessary role in our lives – a recent study by Pew found that 49% of Americans would find it very difficult to give up their mobile phones – smartphone apps have arguably made many of us determined to find out more about our lives.

Relatively basic apps such as Instagram, which creates a social network around images, give us a glimpse into the lives we want to portray to our friends. MyFitnessPal takes that a step further, creating a social network around the number of calories you’re eating – and with 40 million users, it’s clear that this isn’t just a fad.

On the face of it, there doesn’t appear to be any real reason for the sudden interest in the quantified self but there is value in understanding your actions. For example, although most people walk an average of 3,000 steps each day, the NHS recommends that individuals walk at least 10,000, and the benefit of a wearable fitness tracker can encourage users to be more healthy.

This is particularly the case when information from any wearable tracker such as the Fitbit, Jawbone UP or Nike FuelBand, can be easily understood on a computer screen and shared with friends, family, colleagues and, occasionally, your boss.

And as more individuals take the personal decision to monitor themselves, companies have started to look to these same tools to deliver data-driven insights on how to have a more productive workforce.

But questions have now started to be raised about whether this kind of information is truly valuable to managers.

After all, does the fitness of an employee – or the amount of deep sleep they get – matter if they perform the job well?

Managers would point to the Journal of Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, where researchers at the University of Turku in Finlandargued that sleep deprivation can lead to a loss in cognitive function and it is therefore in their interest to ensure staff are maximising their sleep.

Research published in Nature also suggests that exercise “can have a positive effect on multiple aspects of brain function and cognition.”

“Work smarter, not harder”

Buffer Joel Gascoigne Leo WidrichLeo Widrich, chief marketing office, takes a nap on a bunk bed in the office while chief executive Joel Gascoigne works at his desk. Photograph: Andy Yates

These studies clearly carry much weight in the offices of Buffer, a startup based in San Francisco but founded by Sheffield-born chief executive Joel Gascoigne, which gives every employee a Jawbone UP.

“One of our key values at Buffer is to work smarter, not harder,”Gascoigne told Inc Magazine. “Personal improvement is a big part of that, so giving employees a tool that can help improve their sleep patterns is a no-brainer.

“A few weeks in it’s already had an incredible effect. Browsing everyone’s sleep patterns and talking about how to get more deep sleep has an amazing effect on productivity.”

Carolyn Kopprasch, Buffer’s chief happiness officer, is responsible for the startup’s customer support and community management team. She said that Buffer strongly believe in the mantra that “you can’t improve what you don’t measure.”

Unlike The Outside View, however, Buffer don’t require all employees to take part but Kopprasch added that she’s never seen anyone opt-out.

But one of Buffer’s cultural values is defaulting to transparency. Besides sharing their sleeping habits internally, the company has also released how much each employee receives as well as the algorithm that helps to decide the salary. Although the company only share the sleep data internally, Kopprasch doesn’t rule out sharing the information publicly in the future.

Leo Widrich BufferLeo, when he’s not napping. Photograph: Andy Yates

Beyond just comparing data, each employee has a daily phone call with someone else on the team (based on a weekly rotation system) and she adds that these conversations will often include information about their sleep and why they might have got more or less deep sleep than before, providing deeper insights.

Each employee is also required to log their daily work using iDoneThis and this allows the team to stay in touch across different time zones. “When we had a daily standup [meeting], no-one really wanted to interrupt. But with iDoneThis, we have conversations about what we’ve achieved,” she said.

The idea of working smarter is one that Buffer holds close, so much so that it runs a blog on productivity. A theme that pops up regularly is theimportance of taking power naps to work more effectively – and the startup has already noticed a change since bringing in bunk beds to their headquarters in San Francisco with many staff reducing their caffeine consumption.

Really working smarter

Beyond measuring fitness, some have suggested that companies need to measure the activities of their employees while doing their regular jobs.

Instead of simply looking at how many sales call an employee makes, for example, it might be more valuable to analyse the tone of their voice and compare it with the number of successful deals before then sharing this data with other staff.

And when the team isn’t measuring its sleep, this kind of machine learning is precisely what The Outside View sells to companies. Inspired by voice analytics, the company uses a variety of data to predict a business’ future.

It looks at a range of structured and unstructured data around the sales process, including phone calls, emails, calendar entries and even the season in an attempt to quantify the activity and generate accurate revenue forecasts. And, at least in the short term, that’s probably more useful to companies than a healthy employee.

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Oppo’s Find 7 boasts up to 1440p display, 2.5GHz Snapdragon and 50MP photos

by By Alex Dobie | Mar 19 2014 | 6:58 am  Original Article

Two flavors of Oppo’s new high-end phone launching in China this spring

Chinese manufacturer Oppo has taken the wraps off its latest flagship smartphone, the Find 7. With an enormous 5.5-inch display and up to QHD (2560×1440) resolution, the Find 7 rivals the latest flagships from Samsung and Sony, boasting 538 pixels per inch. The top-end Find 7 model also features a 2.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor (MSM8974AC) and 3GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage and a 3000mAh battery. There’s also a less pricey 1080p version with a 2.3GHz Snapdragon 800, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage and a 2800mAh cell.

But the major talking point is the Find 7’s camera. It’s got a 13-megapixel Sony IMX214 sensor, but software trickery allows it to shoot up to 50-megapixel images though a “Super Zoom” feature. And early sample shots from Engadget seem to show plenty of fine detail, even when viewed at full size. The Oppo Find 7 offers 4K video recording to boot, along with a 5-megapixel front-facing camera.

Other hardware tricks include rapid charging — Oppo claims it’ll go from 0 to 75 percent in just 30 minutes — and MaxxAudio plus DiracHD audio enhancements. And software-wise, you’re looking at Oppo’s ColorOS, previously seen on the N1. Based on Android 4.3 Jelly Bean.

The 1080p Oppo Find 7 (dubbed the Find 7a) will be available in China from mid-April, with the 1440p model following in May or June.

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How to Disable Unwanted Background Applications in Windows 7 and 8

By Suhail Ajmal On Wednesday, March 12, 2014 Link

Being a Windows user, you might have experienced your PC getting slow. This is so common with Windows and no doubt very annoying. In a Windows machine several programs start functioning in the background automatically, consuming crucial memory space. To avoid this, I would advise you to check the Startup section by opening the Task Manager.
Most of the PC users select the auto-startup option while installing Windows programs, without even realizing that it may hamper their machines’ efficiency.
Following are the steps you should follow to understand which applications are running without your knowledge and how to close them down. I’ll pen down the tutorial for Windows 8 first and then we will talk about Window 7.

Manage Your Startup Applications
Type ‘start up’ at the Start screen on your Windows 8 computer; once the search results appear on the right side of the screen, click on ‘See which processes start up automatically’ before you are taken to the desktop mode, while a Task Manager window will appear in the Startup tab.

You can now see and make changes to the applications running in the background. On the left column, the application’s name is visible, while its status, which would be either enabled or disabled, can be seen on the right column. The Startup Impact, which shows how severe an application is affecting the performance of your device, can also be noticed.

If you want to turn off some unwanted background programs, highlight the desired applications and click on the ‘Disable’ button, which appears on the bottom right of the window. Once this is done, the disabled programs won’t run in the background, without your approval, the next time you turn on your machine.
The Programs You Need to Disable
You may want to keep the programs that offer synchronizing features to monitor some folders such as Google Drive and Google Music Manager. However, running applications such as uTorrent and Adobe Reader do not make any sense, unless you are downloading something.
Disable Unwanted Background Application in Windows 7 Computer
If you’re a Windows 7 user, the procedure is a bit different to close down the background applications. Having clicked the Start button from the desktop menu, type ‘MSCONFIG’ in the search bar before pressing Enter. The Task Manager window will appear, go to the Startup option to easily switch-off (uncheck) the applications you wish to disable at startup, and then press OK.

Having closed down unwanted background applications, you will surely witness a visible improvement in the performance of your system.
So here you have it folks! If you feel any trouble in following the tutorial, write us back and we’ll help you out.

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25 old school websites for 25 years of the internet!

by Ben Davis 12 March 2014 16:14 Original Post

The internet is 25 years old. Did you use it today? And yesterday? Wow, it’s really catching on.

Here are some old websites from 1994 to 1998, when the web was in full swing (or so we thought).

Microsoft’s fist website, back in 1994. (: Looking pretty cool #microsoft
— Ivan Todorov (@ivantodorov) April 17, 2013
OMG First Google website 1998 #Timeflies
— Joao Luis C (@joaoluisc) December 7, 2012
How things have changed Apple website 1994
— Phil Gordon (@Philjgordon) April 10, 2013
The BBC website, circa 1994. Yep, really. Didn’t even have the domain name it does now:
— Mark Jones (@brokentv) June 12, 2012
And a few years later
This was the BBC website in 1997. So colour. Much Beeb. Wow. Etc.
— Patrick Smith (@psmith) January 7, 2014
In 1995, @CNN set up a website. Prior to that, it sold CD-ROMs about topical news events.
— Ryan Sloane (@RyanSloaneCNN) March 9, 2014
Look at the @NYTimes website in 1996, then make something way better with no coding necessary:
— Jimdo (@jimdo) September 9, 2013
AT&T Atlanta Olympic Games
Remember what the Netscape AT&T Olympic Games website looked like in 1996? #tbt #Sochi2014
— Chicago Sun-Times (@Suntimes) February 6, 2014
Looking back at @Gap’s first e-commerce website, launched in 1997. #GapIncFlashbackFriday
— Gap Inc. (@GapInc) September 6, 2013
.@LexusStoke a GREAT question! This is what the #Lexus website looked like, back in 1998! #LexusLive
— Lexus UK (@OfficialLexusUK) March 12, 2014
Ancient history, in pictures: the first website, as launched on 22 March 1996:
— David Gauntlett (@davidgauntlett) November 9, 2013
For the #nostalgic type, The #NHL’s official website in 1996
— David Krikst (@MyManDK) October 10, 2013
HM Treasury
Have you seen how the @hmtreasury website looked in 1996? Other hilarious retro site photos at
— LondonLovesBusiness (@LondonLovesBiz) April 19, 2013
The Guardian
The @guardian website 16 years ago on 22 December 1996. How times have changed #journalism
— Richard Wilson (@richardwilson84) April 5, 2013
British Library
On 25 birthday of WWW, can’t help thinking of the first British Library website, with which I was involved.
— Andrew Prescott (@Ajprescott) March 12, 2014
The original Expedia website 1998! @Expedia @DMXDublin #DMXDublin
— jentaaffe (@jen_iZest) March 12, 2014
‘Electronic’ Telegraph
[Pics] 25 websites in their very early versions, incl. 1994’s ‘electronic Telegraph’ #web25
— Richard Moynihan (@richjm) March 12, 2014
What did @PBS look like in ’97 when they were first nominated for a Webby? #ThrowbackThursday
— TheWebbyAwards (@TheWebbyAwards) September 12, 2013
UCL Libraries
We see that lots of people are sharing early versions of their web pages today so here’s one of ours from 1999 #web25
— UCL Libraries (@UCLLibraries) March 12, 2014
British Museum
The World Wide Web is 25 today! Here’s a pic of how our website has evolved over the past 17 years #Web25
— British Museum (@britishmuseum) March 12, 2014
Wolfram Research
It’s been a busy week at Wolfram. Something a bit lighter for #throwbackthursday: how our website looked in 1997
— Wolfram Research (@WolframResearch) January 9, 2014
Space Jam’s website has remained untouched since 1996
— Adam Internet (@adaminternet) March 11, 2014
Pizza Hut
Pizza Hut website in 1995
— Ghassan Younis (@eGhassan) April 7, 2013
Dit was de website van Heineken in… 1997
— Mike Slaats (@mikeslaats) March 12, 2014
Shepherd Neame
Happy Birthday to the World Wide Web! #web25 Here’s a look back at our first website from 1998:
— Shepherd Neame (@ShepherdNeame) March 12, 2014

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Engineers Allege Hiring Collusion in Silicon Valley


SAN FRANCISCO — Tech companies love new ideas, unless they belong to someone else. Then any breakthroughs must be neutralized or bought. Silicon Valley executives know all too well that a competitor’s unchecked innovation can quickly topple the mightiest tech titan.

Just how far Silicon Valley will go to remove such risks is at the heart of a class-action lawsuit that accuses industry executives of agreeing between 2005 and 2009 not to poach one another’s employees. Headed to trial in San Jose this spring, the case involves 64,000 programmers and seeks billions of dollars in damages. Its mastermind, court papers say, was the executive who was the most successful, most innovative and most concerned about competition of all — Steve Jobs.

The suit shows how more than two years after his death, Mr. Jobs still casts a long shadow. It also offers a portrait of Silicon Valley engineers that differs sharply from their current caricature as well-paid villains who are driving up the price of real estate in San Francisco and making the city unbearable for others.

“These are the engineers building the hardware and software that are the lifeblood of the technology industry,” Mr. Saveri said. “But they were prevented from being able to freely negotiate what their skills are worth.”

The actions described in the suit were first uncovered in an investigation by the Justice Department, which concluded with an antitrust complaint against a half-dozen companies. In a simultaneous settlement, the companies agreed to drop the no-poaching practice. The settlement did not preclude the programmers from pursuing their own case against the companies, and the class-action lawsuit quotes emails and other communications from some of Silicon Valley’s biggest names.

Mr. Jobs was particularly worried about Google, which was hiring rapidly and expanding into areas where Apple had an interest. In 2005, for instance, Google’s co-founder, Sergey Brin, tried to hire from Apple’s browser team. “If you hire a single one of these people that means war,” Mr. Jobs warned in an email, according to court papers.

Mr. Brin backed off, and Google and Mr. Jobs soon came to an informal agreement not to solicit each other’s employees. Apple made similar deals with other companies. So did Google.

By 2007, when a Google recruiter slipped up and contacted an Apple engineer, Mr. Jobs immediately complained. To appease the Apple chief, Google fired the recruiter within an hour. Mr. Jobs’s control extended even to former Apple engineers. When Google wanted to hire some, the suit says, Mr. Jobs vetoed the idea.

Google declined to comment for this article. Apple did not respond to requests for comment.

Alan Hyde, a Rutgers professor who wrote “Working in Silicon Valley: Economic and Legal Analysis of a High-Velocity Labor Market,” said the no-poaching accusations go contrary to what has made the valley so successful: job-hopping.

“There is a fair amount of research that tech companies, particularly in California, have distinctive personnel practices,” he said. “They hire for short tenures and keep ties with former employees so there can be an exchange of information across company lines. The companies in this suit might have been killing the golden goose.”

They certainly tried to keep their practices quiet. Eric E. Schmidt, then Google’s chief executive, said he preferred that the company’s Do Not Call list be shared orally, according to court papers, “since I don’t want to create a paper trail over which we can be sued later.”

In a similar vein, an Intel recruiter asked Paul S. Otellini, the company’s chief executive, about a hands-off deal with Google.

“We have nothing signed,” Mr. Otellini responded in an email. “We have a handshake ‘no recruit’ between Eric and myself. I would not like this broadly known.”

“We cannot get into a bidding war with other companies because we don’t have the margins for that sort of thing,” Mr. Lucas is quoted as saying in the court papers. So Lucasfilm and what was to become Pixar made a deal that there would be no cold-calling, that they would notify each other when offering a job to an employee and that any offer was final and would not be improved in response to a counteroffer.

What worked for Pixar would work for Apple, Mr. Jobs decided.

The Justice Department inquiry that brought the anticompetitive deals to light concluded in 2010 with an antitrust complaint against Apple, Google, Intel, Intuit, Adobe and Pixar. There were no financial sanctions.

Google explained at the time that it used no-poaching agreements “to maintain a good working relationship” with other companies, but said they did not affect wages or hiring. An Intel spokesman said the chip maker “denies that it violated any laws or engaged in any wrongdoing.” Adobe declined to comment.

The hands-off deals might have been more widespread than many in the valley assumed. The Justice Department is currently pursuing a case against eBay, accusing it of having an illegal no-poaching deal with Intuit. An eBay spokeswoman said the company was in settlement talks with the government.

Pixar (bought by Disney for $7 billion in 2006) and Lucasfilm (bought by Disney for $4 billion in 2012) have already settled the class-action suit, as has Intuit. The three companies agreed to pay a total of $20 million.

The engineers will get their day in court to face the remaining defendants. Which does not mean they will get much sympathy.

“Santa Clara County, in the heart of Silicon Valley, has the highest average wage in the country,” said Stephen Levy, senior economist at the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy. “San Francisco and San Mateo are not far behind. It would be a mistake to think of these plaintiffs as an oppressed set of victims.”

Only one Silicon Valley executive appears to have resisted Mr. Jobs’s threats and blandishments.

In the summer of 2007, Palm Inc., a maker of hand-held devices, hired Jonathan J. Rubinstein, a highly respected former Apple executive who played a key role in developing the iPod. Apple engineers were clamoring to work with him.

Mr. Jobs proposed a no-poaching deal to Edward T. Colligan, Palm’s chief executive. Mr. Colligan responded that such a deal would be unfair to employees as well as “likely illegal.” Mr. Jobs then threatened to unleash Apple’s patent lawyers on Palm.

A patent suit “certainly had the potential for creating some havoc,” Mr. Colligan said in an interview. But he said he felt it was important not to bend.

“A lot of times you’re confronted with things that may be advantageous, but you have to make the critical decision that morally, it is not right,” he said, noting that Apple never did sue. “Unfortunately, this does not happen as often as it should.”

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Choosing A Secure Password

As insecure as passwords generally are, they’re not going away anytime soon. Every year you have more and more passwords to deal with, and every year they get easier and easier to break. You need a strategy.
By Bruce Schneier  –

The best way to explain how to choose a good password is to explain how they’re broken. The general attack model is what’s known as an offline password-guessing attack. In this scenario, the attacker gets a file of encrypted passwords from somewhere people want to authenticate to. His goal is to turn that encrypted file into unencrypted passwords he can use to authenticate himself. He does this by guessing passwords, and then seeing if they’re correct. He can try guesses as fast as his computer will process them – and he can parallelize the attack – and gets immediate confirmation if he guesses correctly. Yes, there are ways to foil this attack, and that’s why we can still have four-digit PINs on ATM cards, but it’s the correct model for breaking passwords.

There are commercial programs that do password cracking, sold primarily to police departments. There are also hacker tools that do the same thing. And they’re really good.

The efficiency of password cracking depends on two largely independent things: power and efficiency.

Power is simply computing power. As computers have become faster, they’re able to test more passwords per second; one program advertises eight million per second. These crackers might run for days, on many machines simultaneously. For a high-profile police case, they might run for months.

Efficiency is the ability to guess passwords cleverly. It doesn’t make sense to run through every eight-letter combination from “aaaaaaaa” to “zzzzzzzz” in order. That’s 200 billion possible passwords, most of them very unlikely. Password crackers try the most common passwords first.

A typical password consists of a root plus an appendage. The root isn’t necessarily a dictionary word, but it’s usually something pronounceable. An appendage is either a suffix (90% of the time) or a prefix (10% of the time). One cracking program I saw started with a dictionary of about 1,000 common passwords, things like “letmein,” “temp,” “123456,” and so on. Then it tested them each with about 100 common suffix appendages: “1,” “4u,” “69,” “abc,” “!,” and so on. It recovered about a quarter of all passwords with just these 100,000 combinations.

Crackers use different dictionaries: English words, names, foreign words, phonetic patterns and so on for roots; two digits, dates, single symbols and so on for appendages. They run the dictionaries with various capitalizations and common substitutions: “$” for “s”, “@” for “a”, “1” for “l” and so on. This guessing strategy quickly breaks about two-thirds of all passwords.

Modern password crackers combine different words from their dictionaries:

What was remarkable about all three cracking sessions were the types of plains that got revealed. They included passcodes such as “k1araj0hns0n,” “Sh1a-labe0uf,” “Apr!l221973,” “Qbesancon321,” “DG091101%,” “@Yourmom69,” “ilovetofunot,” “windermere2313,” “tmdmmj17,” and “BandGeek2014.” Also included in the list: “all of the lights” (yes, spaces are allowed on many sites), “i hate hackers,” “allineedislove,” “ilovemySister31,” “iloveyousomuch,” “Philippians4:13,” “Philippians4:6-7,” and “qeadzcwrsfxv1331.” “gonefishing1125” was another password Steube saw appear on his computer screen. Seconds after it was cracked, he noted, “You won’t ever find it using brute force.”


This is why the oft-cited XKCD scheme for generating passwords — string together individual words like “correcthorsebatterystaple” — is no longer good advice. The password crackers are on to this trick.

The attacker will feed any personal information he has access to about the password creator into the password crackers. A good password cracker will test names and addresses from the address book, meaningful dates, and any other personal information it has. Postal codes are common appendages. If it can, the guesser will index the target hard drive and create a dictionary that includes every printable string, including deleted files. If you ever saved an e-mail with your password, or kept it in an obscure file somewhere, or if your program ever stored it in memory, this process will grab it. And it will speed the process of recovering your password.

Last year, Ars Technica gave three experts a 16,000-entry encrypted password file, and asked them to break as many as possible. The winner got 90% of them, the loser 62% — in a few hours. It’s the same sort of thing we saw in 2012, 2007, and earlier. If there’s any new news, it’s that this kind of thing is getting easier faster than people think.

Pretty much anything that can be remembered can be cracked.

There’s still one scheme that works. Back in 2008, I described the “Schneier scheme”:

So if you want your password to be hard to guess, you should choose something that this process will miss. My advice is to take a sentence and turn it into a password. Something like “This little piggy went to market” might become “tlpWENT2m”. That nine-character password won’t be in anyone’s dictionary. Of course, don’t use this one, because I’ve written about it. Choose your own sentence — something personal.

Here are some examples:

WIw7,mstmsritt… = When I was seven, my sister threw my stuffed rabbit in the toilet.

Wow…doestcst = Wow, does that couch smell terrible.

Ltime@go-inag~faaa! = Long time ago in a galaxy not far away at all.

uTVM,TPw55:utvm,tpwstillsecure = Until this very moment, these passwords were still secure.

You get the idea. Combine a personally memorable sentence with some personally memorable tricks to modify that sentence into a password to create a lengthy password. Of course, the site has to accept all of those non-alpha-numeric characters and an arbitrarily long password. Otherwise, it’s much harder.

Even better is to use random unmemorable alphanumeric passwords (with symbols, if the site will allow them), and a password manager like Password Safe to create and store them. Password Safe includes a random password generation function. Tell it how many characters you want — twelve is my default — and it’ll give you passwords like y.)v_|.7)7Bl, B3h4_[%}kgv), and QG6,FN4nFAm_. The program supports cut and paste, so you’re not actually typing those characters very much. I’m recommending Password Safe for Windows because I wrote the first version, know the person currently in charge of the code, and trust its security. There are ports of PasswordSafe to other OSs, but I had nothing to do with those. There are also other password managers out there, if you want to shop around.

There’s more to passwords than simply choosing a good one:

1. Never reuse a password you care about. Even if you choose a secure password, the site it’s for could leak it because of its own incompetence. You don’t want someone who gets your password for one application or site to be able to use it for another.

2. Don’t bother updating your password regularly. Sites that require 90-day — or whatever — password upgrades do more harm than good. Unless you think your password might be compromised, don’t change it.

3. Beware the “secret question.” You don’t want a backup system for when you forget your password to be easier to break than your password. Really, it’s smart to use a password manager. Or to write your passwords down on a piece of paper and secure that piece of paper.

4. One more piece of advice: if a site offers two-factor authentication, seriously consider using it. It’s almost certainly a security improvement.

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