Russian-linked Hackers Gang Reportedly Behind NHS Hack Using Stolen ‘Cyber Weapon’ from American Spying Agency

The massive cyber attack on NHS left the everyone thinking about the origin of hackers. Now, according to the latest report, the gang could have alleged links to Russia. The cyber attack is possibly a reprisal for attacks on Syria by the US.

In April, a mysterious hacker group called Shadow Brokers went on claiming that it has stolen a ‘cyber weapon’ from an American spying agency. The group claimed that the tool would give it an open access to all the systems running Microsoft Windows operating system. Thes stolen cyber weapon belonged to the National Security Agency (NSA), which is America’s most powerful military intelligence unit. NSA developed the ‘Eternal Blue’ hacking weaponry to fetch access to systems used by extremist groups and enemy states.

However, the tool, unfortunately, landed in the hands of Shadow Brokers. The hacker gang used the weapon through an obscure website on April 14, a day after the chemical attack on Syria. Many industry experts believe that the day chosen for the cyber attack clearly indicates that Shadow Brokers is linked to the Russian government.

Interestingly, a week before the attack, the hacker gang issued a warning to President Trump via Medium:

Respectfully, what the f*** are you doing? The Shadow Brokers voted for you. The Shadow Brokers supports you. The Shadow Brokers is losing faith in you. Mr. Trump helping the Shadow Brokers, helping you. Is appearing you are abandoning ‘your base’, ‘the movement’, and the peoples who getting you elected.

Many believe that Shadow Brokers dumped ‘Eternal Blue’ cyber weapon after using it once. The tool was later picked by another hacker gang who used it to get remote access to computers and orchestrated the entire NHS breakdown. The same gang later went on developing another software using ransomware called WanaCrypt or WannaCry that hijacks systems and encrypts all the files on it. Leaving just one way for the victim – pay the ransom. In NHS’ case, the ransom amount is $300 for each computer, paid in ‘bitcoins’ – a virtual currency. Most of the countries are plagued by the ransomware, which means they will surely try to track where the money is going. Bitcoin is definitely hard to track, but not impossible.

In a statement, Sean Sullivan, security adviser to F-Secure, a cyber security company, said:

Shadow Brokers obtained the NSA tools that exposed a vulnerability in Microsoft’s operating systems. They dumped the instructions detailing how to get in. The exploit is the ‘crowbar’ to open the door, and the ransomware is the ‘hand grenade’ you lob in once the door is open.

The hackers are also believed to have warned Microsoft about the stolen hacking tool. Following the warning, Microsoft came up with a “security patch, ” but even the patch couldn’t save systems dating back to 2009 and older. The spread of mostly older systems turned NHS into the most vulnerable victim of the attack.

Edward Snowden who is the NSA whistleblower claimed last year that Kremlin backs Shadow Brokers. He also tweeted that,“circumstantial evidence and conventional wisdom indicates Russian responsibility.”

People using Microsoft computers must install MS17-010 fix right now. We would like to urge our readers to be extremely careful of all the e-mails they get, specifically the ones with attachments.

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Google Might Bring Its Default Ad-Blocking Feature for Chrome Browser

Google Chrome might finally get the ad-blocking feature for its the mobile and desktop versions. The news comes from inside sources at Google Inc. Not that we have not been enjoying ad-blocks, thanks to ad-block extensions on Chrome Store. But a default ad-blocker by Chrome would be a welcome addition.

The feature would come enabled by default within Chrome, and it would keep out specific types of online advertisements that are bad redirects and open in multiple videos on one click. There are chances that Google might announce this feature within a few weeks, but it is still working on a few aspects and is in the deciding phase whether to go ahead with it.

Kind of ads to get filtered with this ad-blocker would be the ones who come under Coalition for Better Ads, which is an industry group that released a list of ad standards in March. These standards circle out the advertisements formats like pop-ups, auto-playing video ads with sound, ads with countdown timers. Such ads are regarded to be “beneath a threshold of consumer acceptability.”

The tech giant is also considering to block all the ads that appear in collaboration with offensive ads. In this way, it is planning to target a group of ads rather than individual ads. Website owners would be required to make sure of the quality of the ads or Google will block all the ads.

On the contrary, the ad-blocking policy on Chrome seems like overkill for Google as its revenue model depends on advertising as well. The demand for extension-based Chrome extension has grown manifold in recent years. In the US alone, 26% users are using ad-blocking software. Now, Google seems to be interested in tapping the growth of ad-block tools. According to the analytics firm StatCounter, Chrome has nearly 47.5% share of the browser market across all the platforms.

Google is already a part of an “Acceptable Ads” program, which is run by software company Eyeo GmbH. The same company is behind the famous ad-blocking tool Adblock Plus. Google’s partnership with the program is the reason why some of the ads on Google are allowed to go through Adblock Plus on Chrome.

It remains to be seen if Google goes ahead with its decision. If it does, then we wonder what will happen to all the other ad-blocking tools for Chrome.

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How to Activate YouTube Dark Mode in Windows 10 & macOS

YouTube is currently testing out a Dark Mode for both Windows 10 and macOS. I personally appreciate this move since the darker theme will make the viewing experience less stressful on the eyes when you’re watching content for hours. While the feature is yet to be officially announced because YouTube is still testing it out, here are some very simple steps that will allow you to enable Dark Mode on both Windows 10 and macOS.

Enabling Dark Mode Will Require Both Your Windows 10 and macOS Machines Running the Latest Google Chrome Update

To get started, you will first have to check if your operating system is running the latest version of Google Chrome. To check if it is, follow the steps given below.

  1. Fire up Google Chrome and click on the top-right button which will show a drop-down series of options.
  2. Navigate to ‘Help’.
  3. Click on ‘About Google Chrome’.
  4. If it says that Google Chrome’s version is running update 57, then you can move on to the next step.

How to Enable YouTube Dark Mode on Windows 10?

  1. Head over to YouTube.com and press Ctrl + Shift + I.
  2. Click on the ‘Console’ tab.
  3. Type the following command in the space provided and hit Enter: document.cookie=”VISITOR_INFO1_LIVE=fPQ4jCL6EiE”
  4. Refresh your internet browser and you will be able to see the Dark Mode option in the settings menu on the top-right corner.

You can now toggle it on or off depending on your liking and you’re good to go.

How to Enable YouTube Dark Mode on macOS?

  1. Head over to YouTube.com and press Option + Command + I.
  2. Click on the ‘Console’ tab.
  3. Type the following command in the space provided and hit Enter: document.cookie=”VISITOR_INFO1_LIVE=fPQ4jCL6EiE”
  4. Refresh your internet browser just like you would do on Windows 10 and you will be able to see the Dark Mode option in the settings menu on the top-right corner.

Just like before, toggle it on or off depending on your choosing.

YouTube has not officially announced when Dark Mode will be available but now that you know how to enable it on both platforms, your viewing experience is going to be far soothing than before.

Did you enjoy this guide? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments.

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Reddit Is Finally Turning Into A Social Network With Profile Page Redesign Like Facebook

It looks like Reddit is finally on the route to renovation. The social media website is now planning to roll out proper public profiles to the users. The founders of Reddit believe that this move will further enhance the popularity of the site among masses.

To drill down the changelog, the new changes will now enable users to post content directly on their profile pages, just like Facebook and Twitter. This model of social media has been long overdue for Reddit to implement, and it has finally carved out a layout that caters to users in an interactive manner. Until now, the website has been duly focused on forums that range from anything to everything.

However, Reddit co-founder, Alexis Ohanian stated that forums restricted users from posting personal content on the website fearing self promotion. “If you yourself are someone who wants to share something, it’s pretty daunting,” he said. The new profile feature redesign will include layout items like a profile picture, description, and user generated posts. Other Redditors will be allowed to comment on the posts of the fellow Redditor, but they won’t be allowed to post new content on their profile page.

In a post on its official handle, Reddit wrote:

What’s changing?

A very small number of redditors will be able to post directly to their own profile. The profile page will combine posts made to the profile (‘new”) and posts made to communities (“legacy”).

The profile page is redesigned to better showcase the redditor’s avatar, a short description and their posts. We’ll be sharing designs of this experience tomorrow.

Redditors will be able to follow these testers, at which point posts made to the tester’s profile page will start to appear on the follower’s front-page. These posts will appear following the same “hot” algorithms as everything else.

Redditors will be able to comment on the profile posts, but not create new posts on someone else’s profile.

The new profile layout is all set to debut for three popular user accounts tomorrow, and shall be extended to many more users in the coming months. It is worth mentioning that Reddit went through a series of changes after Ohanian and co-founder Steve Huffman returned to the firm in 2015. In addition, Ohanian also revealed that he had been working on the profile feature since a decade.

Well, it remains to be seen how Reddit has designed the new feature. Stay tuned with us as we manage to get the sneak peek of the redesign.

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Google Voice Finally Updated for Android, iOS and the Web – Brings Fresh New Features With the Update

It was looking like Google Voice was done for on account that the app didn’t receive a major update in years, but we are finally graced with a brand new update that brings forth a slew of changes concerning the functionality and appearance of the application. What’s more is that the update has been rolled out for a total of three different platforms.

Google Voice Now Brings a Cleaner UI and According to the Company, It Keeps Everything Organized

According to Google, when you fire up Google Voice, the first thing that users will notice about the application is a cleaner interface. The experience will naturally differ for different operating systems since the latest update now caters for all three platforms: Android, iOS and the web.

“The first thing you’ll notice about the updated Google Voice apps is a cleaner, more intuitive design that keeps everything organized. Your inbox now has separate tabs for text messages, calls and voicemails. Conversations stay in one continuous thread, so you can easily see all your messages from each of your contacts in one place. We’ve upgraded the messaging experience with support for group and photo MMS as well as in-notification replies. And we’re starting to introduce voicemail transcription for Spanish and will improve accuracy over time.”

In addition, Google Voice has also brought forward a new way to keep everything organized. For starters, the inbox now possesses a separate tab for messages, calls and voicemails. Each time you decide to head into your inbox to search for messages, calls and voicemails, a brand new tab will appear. Additionally, your conversations are going to stay in one continuous thread so you will easily be able to view all of your contacts. That’s not all; Google Voice has also been updated to bring support for group and photo MMS.

If you’re interested in giving the app a try, then given below are the direct links for Google Voice depending on which platform you will be using:

  • Download app for iOS
  • Download app for Android
  • Download app for web

Let us know what you think about the latest update.

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YouTube No Longer Supports 4K in Safari – Here’s Why

Noticed something strange on YouTube lately in Safari? It doesn’t play videos in 4K anymore. We might have the possible explanation as to why.

Safari Lacks Support for VP9 Codec, Therefore You Can’t Play Videos Above 1440p

4K has managed to solidify itself as the golden standard for video these days, but Apple on the other hand, is taking a step back. If you open Safari right now, launch YouTube, watch a video, you’ll notice you can’t view anything in 4K at all. Any given video uploaded in 4K maxes out at 1440p in Safari. Why is that so? Well, the reason behind that is simple, as pointed out by themcfly over at Reddit:

Upon further inspection, I discovered that Youtube stores different kinds of video on their servers, encoded either in VP9 or the older H264 codec. Safari has no VP9 support (at least in my version, still on Safari 9.1 / El Capitan) so it gets automatically served a H264 version from Youtube (you can verify codec by right clicking > stats for nerds). Chrome supports VP9 so gets served that version, but is far more hardware demanding to decode, so I installed another extension called H264fy that served me H264 version on Chrome. So I could use a fully functional Youtube Plus extension in Chrome without my MBP fans lifting off because of VP9.

Basically, Apple’s Safari browser on macOS and OS X does not support Google’s new VP9 codec for video. Google has put up 4K video in VP9 as standard, but lower resolutions get served up in H.264. If you are a Chrome user, the 4K video you are seeing is powered by the VP9 codec, something which the Big G implemented support for back in 2013 in Chrome. Apple on the other hand, is yet to implement the codec in its browser.

Of course, there is a chance the codec might eventually make its way to Safari in a future update, but we have no clue at all when that might just happen. Right now, if you want to watch anything in 4K, Chrome browser is your best bet. It’s absolutely free to download and use.

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Germany Is Worried of “Fake News” Impacting Voter Opinion After Trump’s Election Win

Following Donald Trump’s surprise election victory, Facebook’s content propagation policies have come into question for possibly influencing the election results. But, it’s not just the Americans who are worried about how sensationalist websites could have impacted the democratic process. German Chancellor in her first speech since announcing her decision of running for a fourth term called for greater scrutiny of fake news circulating online.

Post-election statistics have shown that fake stories proved more viral on social media than important articles with legitimate sources.

Fake news and internet trolls threaten Germany’s election – Merkel

In her speech given to the Bundestag, German Parliament, Merkel said on Wednesday the government has ignored the potential of fake news influencing public opinion for far too long. It has been questioned since November 8 to what extent did these stories – that were presented as legitimate media outlets – shape the voter opinions.

“Something has changed – as globalization has marched on, [political] debate is taking place in a completely new media environment. Opinions aren’t formed the way they were 25 years ago,” Merkel, who represents a center-right political party, said in the Bundestag. “Today we have fake sites, bots, trolls – things that regenerate themselves, reinforcing opinions with certain algorithms, and we have to learn to deal with them.”

Germany will hold national elections in September next year, and many suspect that the far-right party might win the election based on these sensationalist stories and populist fears about immigration.

“I believe we should not underestimate what is happening in the context of the Internet and with digitalization; this is part of our reality,” Merkel said. “We have regulations that allow for our press freedom, including the requirement for due diligence from journalists. Today we have many that experience a media that is based on very different foundations and is much less regulated.”

The concerns of political polarization only heightened after the reports of the far-right Breitbart News, the highly conservative and pro-Trump news site, planning to launch in German ahead of the election. Berlin is now discussing whether the government should regulate online media sites similar to the scrutiny of newspapers, radio and TV broadcasters.

“Populism and political extremes are growing in Western democracies,” Merkel warned. “A lot of people are concerned about the stability of our social order. Suddenly it seems that what we considered self-evident isn’t that self-evident after all.”

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NASA’s Supermoon Photography Tips Can Help You Get Some Amazing Shots Tonight

14th November is here and like we wrote earlier, the most amazing supermoon of this century is here! We haven’t seen a supermoon like this in nearly 70 years and we will not be getting an opportunity like this for another 18 years. So grab your cameras and get ready to take some amazing shots of this phenomenon. NASA’s lead photographer Bill Ingalls has some great advice for us to follow to get perfect pictures of this night.

Great tips from a great photographer

According to Ingalls, “Don’t make the mistake of photographing the moon by itself with no reference to anything. Instead, think of how to make the image creative – that means tying it into some land-based object. It can be a local landmark or anything to give your photo a sense of place.”

This is a great advice, taking pictures in comparison to something always accentuates the image and takes it to a whole other level. Ingalls suggests going to a perfect location that allows the best site of the super moon for the perfect picture. He even suggested adding friends and family in the images to create a more personalized set of pictures. These tips are not entirely fixed to the supermoon, If you are a photography enthusiast you can surely think of ways to use this in other shots as well.

Supermoon

So, the next question is that what is the best time to observe the moon at its full glory? Well, it totally depends on your location. At 6:23 am EST on Monday, the 14th of November the full moon will be only 356,508 km from the Earth and this is the closest it has been in a century. This distance is 48,280 km closer than when Apollo 11 was launched to the moon on the 16th of July, 1969. For people in the US the moon will have set by 6:23 am EST on Monday and hence will not be visible. You can check this moonset-sunrise calendar to check when the Moon will set in your area.

Time is of great importance

The best time for Americans to view the moon will be early morning or Monday evening. If you are using a digital SLR camera then according to Ingalls the daylight white balance setting is best for capturing moonlight. “Keep in mind that the moon is a moving object,” Ingalls said. “It’s a balancing act between trying to get the right exposure and realizing that the shutter speed typically needs to be a lot faster.”

With a smartphone you may not be able to get a good enough shot but if you travel to the right place you can get a great view. Being able to view something live is always better than the pictures, right? “You’re not going to get a giant moon in your shot, but you can do something more panoramic, including some foreground that’s interesting. Think about being in an urban area where it’s a little bit brighter,” Ingalls said.

So grab your cameras, wherever you are around the world and use these tips to the best of your advantage before the supermoon goes back to being our ‘normal’ full moon.

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Tim Cook’s Response to Trump Victory – “Aftermath Leaves Many” with Strong Feelings

Donald Trump didn’t shy away from picking on Apple during his presidential campaign. After an upset win this week, the Cupertino tech giant will have to deal with at least 4 years of Trump’s presidency. Amid the uncertainty that the 2016 US election results have brought over the tech industry, Tim Cook has called for unity and moving forward, even if it’s just crawling.

Trump made it a habit of picking on Apple for manufacturing its product outside of the country. While we don’t know if the President-elect will indeed make the companies bring their manufacturing plants to the US (and increase product prices as a result), the industry is still grasping this unexpected win.

In a memo (obtained by BuzzFeed), Cook tells Apple employees to “move forward together.”

“Only way to move forward is to move forward together” – Tim Cook’s memo to Apple employees

Apple withheld support for the Republican Presidential National Convention in June this year, over Trump’s comments about women, immigrants, and minorities. Previously, Apple had backed both the Republican and Democratic conventions. Trump had also called for a national boycott of Apple products after Apple refused to help the FBI crack the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters. Since Trump’s victory, Apple stock is down more than 2%.

While in the memo, Cook doesn’t mention Trump, he noted that after a deeply divisive campaign, it was important to bring unity. He also mentioned Apple’s commitment to tolerance, diversity and social progress.

You can read Tim Cook’s full memo below (emphasis is ours).

Team,

I’ve heard from many of you today about the presidential election. In a political contest where the candidates were so different and each received a similar number of popular votes, it’s inevitable that the aftermath leaves many of you with strong feelings.

We have a very diverse team of employees, including supporters of each of the candidates. Regardless of which candidate each of us supported as individuals, the only way to move forward is to move forward together. I recall something Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said 50 years ago: “If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” This advice is timeless, and a reminder that we only do great work and improve the world by moving forward.

While there is discussion today about uncertainties ahead, you can be confident that Apple’s North Star hasn’t changed. Our products connect people everywhere, and they provide the tools for our customers to do great things to improve their lives and the world at large. Our company is open to all, and we celebrate the diversity of our team here in the United States and around the world — regardless of what they look like, where they come from, how they worship or who they love.

I’ve always looked at Apple as one big family and I encourage you to reach out to your co-workers if they are feeling anxious.

Let’s move forward — together!
Best,
Tim

You may also be interested in reading our resident financial expert’s analysis on What a Trump Win Means for Tech Firms

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Zuckerberg: Facebook Fake News Didn’t Influence the Election Results

People haven’t been able to wrap their heads around the outcome of the US election. They are now turning to social media sites to express their concern about why the election went the way it did. And Mark Zuckerberg is being pressured by many on the account of Facebook’s News Feed glitches being responsible for circulating fake news, impacting the results of the election.

Zuckerberg took the stage at Techonomy16 today to address this particular concern. He insisted on the fact that the News Feed did need improving, in terms of the quality of news it shared. But, it possibly could not have been responsible for the outcome of the elections. “Personally, I think the idea that fake news on Facebook, of which it’s a very small amount of the content, influenced the election in any way is a pretty crazy idea,” said Facebook CEO.

He added that people were still trying to figure out why the outcome of the elections turned out to be this way, but in doing so they are resorting to unreasonably blaming social networking sites. He also believes that the idea of people falling for the fake news on Facebook is insulting to the voters’ intelligence. People are denying the fact that many may have genuinely voted for Trump because they thought he was fit for the presidency. “People are smart and they understand what’s important to them,” Zuckerberg pointed out.

Zuckerberg said that the issue was not the accessibility to the fake news but the content engagement. He pointed out that Trump’s news on the News Feed got more attention and engagement from the users than Hillary Clinton’s. It is simply a matter of choice.

Facebook is making efforts on improving its ranking algorithms which will allow humans to express their concerns about a certain news by ranking it on how and why it proves to be fulfilling news for the user.

It is a small step but if it is pulled off consistently, the results of a cleaner and more authentic News Feed will eventually be achieved. For a more detailed version of Zuckerberg’s talk, you can check out the video.

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