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Those innocent-looking apps in your smartphone can secretly spy on your communications or could allow hackers to do so.

Hard to believe, but it's true.

Recently, Trustwave's SpiderLabs analysts discovered a hidden backdoor in Skype for Apple's macOS and Mac OS X operating systems that could be used to spy on users' communications without their knowledge.

The backdoor actually resides in the desktop Application Programming Interface (API) that allows third-party plugins and apps to communicate with Microsoft-owned Skype — the popular video chat and messaging service.

Appeared to have been around since at least 2010, the backdoor could allow any malicious third-party app to bypass authentication procedure and provide nearly complete access to Skype on Mac OS X.

How an Attacker can Take Complete Control of Your Skype

attacker

The malicious app could bypass authentication process if they "identified themselves as the program responsible for interfacing with the Desktop API on behalf of the Skype Dashboard widget program."

Accessing this backdoor is incredibly easy. All hackers need to do is change a text string in apps to this value → "Skype Dashbd Wdgt Plugin," and the desktop API would provide access to sensitive features of Skype.

An attacker or any malicious program abusing this hidden backdoor could perform the following actions:

  • Read notifications of incoming messages (and their contents)
  • Intercept, read and modify messages
  • Log and record Skype call audio
  • Create chat sessions
  • Retrieve user contact information

The researchers have also provided proof-of-concept Objective-C code that initiates the connection process without asking the user for permission for the process to attach to Skype:

The backdoor believes to have been created by a developer at Skype before Microsoft acquired the company and likely exposed more than 30 Million Mac OS X users.

Update Your Skype Installation Now!

Trustwave notified Microsoft of the vulnerability in October, and the company has patched the issue in Skype 7.37 and later versions.

Here's what a Microsoft spokesperson said about the backdoor:

"We do not build backdoors into our products, but we do continuously improve the product experience [and] product security and encourage customers to always upgrade to the latest version."

Trustwave also speculated that the backdoor believed to have been accidently left in Skype "during the process of implementing the dashboard plugin," as the Skype dashboard widget does not appear to utilize it.

All versions of Skype for Mac OS and Mac OS X, including 7.35 version, are vulnerable. So users are strongly recommended to update their Skype installation as soon as possible.

 

Author: Swati Khandelwal
Source: http://thehackernews.com/2016/12/hacking-skype.html

Categorized in Science & Tech
So you’ve got a new Mac and you’re looking to make the most of the robust application environment on MacOS Sierra? Well, we’ve got you covered. There are literally hundreds of thousands of great software programs compatible with MacOS in Apple’s App Store – not to mention the thousands more that are scattered across the web. Below, we’ve compiled some of the best Mac apps available. Since there are so many apps, we pared it down to only include programs that are most likely to be useful to the average Mac user, whether you’re looking to quickly access an abundance of RSS feeds or automatically upload your photos to the proverbial cloud.

Interface

Alfred 2

Alfred 2 App
Think of Alfred as Spotlight with a dash of Siri. It’s an application launcher, but it can do a lot more than just that. With Alfred, you can quickly perform calculations, execute web searches, and quickly find word definitions, among many other functions. It fills the gap between Siri and your Spotlight search, by allowing you to automate tasks and perform advanced functions that, frankly, Siri should be able to handle without voice input.
 

Bartender 2 ($15)

Bartender 2 Mac App
Bartender 2 is an app made for when you’re utilizing too many apps. It’s a subtle tool that’s specifically designed with organization in mind, and as such, it lets you better organize various aspects of your interface. With Bartender 2, you choose which apps appear in the menu bar and rearrange their position to your liking. You can also search for specific items, or move them into the optional Bartender Bar if you’re in dire need of more space.

Caffeine

Caffeine Mac App
 
 
Always a favorite, this one keeps your computer from going into sleep mode, starting the screensaver, or performing the auto-dim function. It’s ideal for reading long documents, or any other activity in which you don’t touch the keyboard or mouse for extended periods of time. Just give it a click.

Dropzone ($10)

Dropzone 3 App Thumb
Once installed, Dropzone 3 truly feels like an integral part of MacOS Sierra. The bare-bones application functions as a shortcut tool, meaning you can use it to quickly copy and move files, launch applications, and share content through popular services such as Facebook and Flickr. You can also upload files via FTP and Amazon S3, or shorten URLs using the newly-added Goo.glshortener. It’s all housed within a tiny icon that sits in the menu bar.

f.lux

Flux App Thumb
 
F.lux is a tiny little utility that makes the color of your display adapt to more accurately mimic outside light. If you stare at a bright computer screen late into the evening, all that blue light from your screen can screw with the melatonin levels in your brain and can make it hard to fall asleep. Flux helps fix that problem.

Google Chrome

Google Chrome Mac App
Safari will never boast the kind of intuitive integration afforded by Google’s browser. It’s arguably the fastest browser available for desktop platforms, one that also features the ability to automatically sync all your information — bookmarks, open tabs, recent searches, etc. — across multiple computers and mobile devices. That, combined with its robust customization and instant search capabilities, make it worthwhile.

Magnet ($2)

Magnet App Thumb
It’s not always easy to view multiple windows side by side, at least, not without Magnet. The app is made for the multitasker inside all of us, and thus presents a quick way to drag and arrange on your desktop. With Magnet, you can drag and snap windows to the edges and corners of your screen, which will then lock into place. It’s a terrific tool, complete with predefined keyboard shortcuts, if you want copy content from one app to another.

Unclutter ($6)

Unclutter Mac App
Unclutter is a basic piece of software that suits its name. The app is accessible with a quick swipe from the top of your screen, and, better yet, functions as a convenient place for storing quick notes, recent files, and clipboard information. Recent updates also allow for a light or dark theme, and include an option for dragging cards on top of other desktop windows. Files and notes even automatically sync across your devices via Dropbox, a suitable addition that adds to the app’s appeal.

PRODUCTIVITY

Evernote

Evernote Mac App
 
Evernote is the undisputed king of note taking apps, and for good reason. It’s simple, organized in a highly intuitive way, and syncs with just about any Web service you can imagine. Since it’s one of the most popular apps in existence, there’s a veritable boatload of browser extensions and add-ons available for it as well.

Day One 2 Journal ($30)

Day One 2 Journal Mac App
Journals are an age-old tradition — just ask Benjamin Franklin. That said, the aptly-titled Day One 2 Journal serves a digital companion for those looking to capture life’s little moments. Aside from text, the app also incorporates photos, reminders, and tags, the latter of which helps tremendously with organization. The best part? Password protection keeps potential, prying eyes at bay.

Fantastical 2 ($50)

Fantastical 2 Mac App
Fantastical 2 is the only calendar app you’ll ever need, so long as you’re willing to shell out a cool $50 for it. The steep price grants you access to a powerful set of tools, however, as well as a full-screen calendar window that’s as beautiful as it is practical. The true hallmark of Fantastical 2 is in the way you create reminders; just type in that you have “Dinner with Alexa on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.” and watch the app schedule it with a reminder.

Pixelmator ($30)

Pixelmator App Thumb
Mac users have an incredibly vast selection of excellent photo editing programs, but even against thousands of competitors, Pixelmator stands out as one of the best. It’s got a massive list of powerful features, and is probably the fastest program of its type that we’ve ever used.
 

Pocket

Pocket Mack App
As the name might imply, Pocket is a tool that lets you “pocket” articles, videos, and webpages for later viewing. It essentially consolidates all the content in a simple, easy-to-use interface that’s also accessible offline. The app is perfect for sharing your favorite stuff among friends or for stowing interesting articles you might encounter on your evening commute — which you can then pull up on the big screen with their accompanying text, pictures, and links when you get home.

PDF Expert ($60)

PDF Expert Mac App
Having to work with PDF files is a fact of life, and PDF Expert makes that fact a little easier. Not only does the minimalist desktop software allow you to fill out forms and merge PDFs, but it also grants you a host of tools for editing, annotating, and signing files on the fly. Moreover, it’s compatible with Apple’s Continuity and Handoff features, so you can swap devices while in the middle of a document without fear of losing your work.

REEDER 3 ($10)

Reeder 3 Mac App
Google Reader may be dead and gone, but a proper RSS reader is still a must. Thankfully, Reeder 3 is one of the best around. The desktop application sports a gorgeous finish that perfectly compliments MacOS Sierra’s semi-transparent panes, along with shared extensions, a private browsing mode, and support for most RSS services (Feedly, Feedbin, Fever, etc.). Themes, gesture controls, and a host of customization also come standard.
 

Text Wrangler

TextWrangler App Thumb
With so many free text editors out there for Mac users, it’s tough to choose just one. Some lean toward minimalism and strip away advanced features, but Text Wrangler isn’t one of those. This program is the Cadillac of free text editors. It has every bell, whistle, and advanced formatting option you’ll ever need. It’s not a replacement for a good word processor, sure, but it’s a great choice for editing code and other plain text files.

Wunderlist

Wunderlist Mac App
Don’t let Microsoft’s recent acquisition of Wunderlist fool you — it’s still a phenomenal tool for MacOS, even without the premium feature set. The sleek application helps with creating to-do lists, each of which comes complete with customized due dates, reminders, and everything else you need to stay on schedule. The software also allows for collaborative lists, syncs your content across devices, and features the ability to save webpages and other content for later viewing (a la Pocket).

ENTERTAINMENT AND SOCIAL

Spotify

Spotify Mac App
Apple Music isn’t for everyone. Fortunately, Spotify’s official desktop app represents the perfect alternative for those looking to branch outside the Apple ecosystem. The Mac app gives you access to the entire Spotify catalog much like its mobile counterpart, letting you search and listen to nearly any track, artist, or album free of charge. You can also use it to build custom playlists, or capitalize on personal recommendations that span jazz, hip-hop, rock, and everything in between.
 

HandBrake

Handbrake App ThumbYes, DVD ripping is still a thing in the age of digital distribution. That said, HandBrake shines when it comes to converting media files and encoding videos, especially when you factor in how quick and effortless the open-source software makes the process. The software also comes with a plethora of video-editing tools designed for splicing, adjusting framerate, and adding subtitles among a laundry list of other useful actions that come second to its optimization presets.

Parcel

Parcel App Thumb
Honestly, who still shops in brick-and-mortar stores anymore? Parcel is aimed at the online shopping aficionado, rendering it ideal for anyone who’s constantly expecting a package at their doorstep. The tracking app works with more than 250 services — including mainstays such as UPS, USPS, FedEx — allowing you to see where your packages are at a glance with little more than a tracking number. Push notifications and Spotlight integration is just a bonus.

Transmission

Transmission MacOS
Solid BitTorrent clients are few and far between, but Transmission ranks among the best. The lightweight app excels when it comes to download speed and blends seamlessly with MacOS. It’s not the most fully-featured Torrent client, but it’s easily the best choice for MacOS on account of its reliability and no-nonsense approach to Torrent downloads. It’s fast, light, and makes life a little easier by just getting out of your way. Transmission did have a security breach a while back, however, so make sure you only download the most recent version (2.92 or above) directly from the Transmission Project.
 

VLC

VLC Media Player Thumb App
VLC media player is better than Quicktime in nearly every facet that matters, most notably speed and file compatibility. The open-source software also supports nearly every media file you can muster, from AAC to Theora, while offering speedy video conversion, extensive subtitle support, and a host of video filters that let crop, de-lace, and general customize playback. The intuitive interface isn’t half bad, either.

Adium

Adium App Thumb
Adium is a multi-protocol instant messaging client that can bundle all of your accounts into one simple application. Just tell it which services you use — AIM, MSN, Google Talk, Facebook, etc. — and it’ll pull all of your contacts and organize them into a unified space with a clean UI.

Slack

Slack Mac App
Google Hangouts is second to Slack, a messaging client that’s recently taken office productivity and discussion to new levels. The service’s attractive desktop app pairs features all the tools available in the browser-based version of Slack — i.e. private channels, Giphy integration, themes  — along with better control over notifications and increased support for multiple teams.
 

Tweetbot

Tweetbot Mac App
Tweetbot 2 is for the power user who’d rather skip the outdated, official Twitter app for Mac in favor of something more capable. Like the last-gen version of the software, the newest iteration presents you with multiple columns and windows, along with tools to mute users, hashtags, and specific keywords. It supports third-party apps such as bitly and Paper, and showcases a streamlined interface that pair perfectly with the redesigned look of El Capitan.

1Password ($65)

1Password Mac App

Hate trying to remember every single password for every account you have? 1Password is a fantastic password manager that secures them in a fully-encrypted vault, which you then access by using your master password.

Little Snitch 3 ($35)

Little Snitch 3 Mac App
Little Snitch 3 is a permissions blocker that lets you control all of your incoming and outgoing connections. If you’ve got a program that you don’t want connecting to the Internet, the software can block it for you. You can set it to block things just once, until you quit, or forever. It’s really nice for control freaks like us who prefer to know everything our Mac is doing.
 
Chances are that you know the merits of Google Drive, however, you might not be aware that you can work on your documents, spreadsheets, and presentations offline when you can’t access the Internet. The desktop app gives you quick access to all your files and folders much like the software’s mobile counterpart, providing you with a dedicated folder where you can sync up 15GB worth of content — assuming you haven’t paid for extra storage.

Dropbox

Dropbox App Thumb 5
Dropbox makes syncing files across all your devices quick and painless. The desktop app works much like the software’s Web and mobile counterparts, giving you access to your files and folders while offering you the ability to upload photos, videos, and various documents directly from you desktop. You’ll receive 2GB of free storage just for signing up, too, and can earn more if you invite your friends or connect to Dropbox through the usual social media channels.
 
The native apps in MacOS can’t do it all, especially when it comes to compressed or archived files. Thankfully, the Unarchiver can handle nearly any format you can throw at it, whether you’re working with RAR files or older formats such as StuffIt, ARC, or Tar. The software also doesn’t require you to open a separate application, so you can access your files with a simple click in Finder.
 
Source:  digitaltrends.com
Categorized in Science & Tech

Google's upcoming October 4 event- 'Made by Google' is around the corner where the search engine giant is expected to introduce the latest Pixel smartphones and home-automation products, along with other new product upgrades. The Pixel and Pixel XL are rumoured to be Google's upcoming flagship smartphones, which will mark the end of company's popular 'Nexus' series devices. The other possible products in the list includes Daydream VR, third-generation Chromecast device and some other smart home products.

 However, the biggest announcement of the upcoming event might be the merger of Google's Android and Chrome OS that will start a new chapter in the world of mobile products from the search engine giant. Let's find out more about it. Stay tuned to GizBot for more updates!

 The fusion of Android and Chrome OS

We have been hearing about Google‘s plan to merge Android and Chrome OS into a single OS since last one year. It was in October 2015 when we heard that Google has a team of engineers working on this project of merging its mobile OS and Chrome Book platform together. We believe this might be the time that the search engine giant finally reveals the new OS to world, along with Pixel flagship smartphones. Additionally, the tweet by Senior VP of Android, Google Play, and Chrome Hiroshi Lockheimer saying- ‘I have a feeling 8 years from now we'll be talking about Oct 4', further clears the air about the possible official launch.

 Welcome Andromeda

Sources suggest that the marriage of Android and Chrome OS will give the world a new OS, which will go by the name- Andromeda. The merged OS wouldn't be ready until 2017, however a working prototype of new OS is definitely going to see the light of day on October 4

One OS for multiple devices

Andromeda is supposed to bring uniformity and will work on phones, tablets, and even laptops and 2-in-1s. This will give Google the power to target a larger base of audience who will be able to work seamlessly on an array of devices under Google's ecosystem. That said, the upcoming October 4 seems to be an event of historical significance for the search engine giant after the launch of Android OS in September 2008. Stay tuned to GizBot for more updates!

Source : http://www.gizbot.com/

Categorized in Search Engine

A decade ago Google was just a search engine and advertiser, but now it’s the driving force behind the largest computing platform in the world: Android. Even the slow-to-start Chrome OS has been picking up steam in recent years, dominating the budget laptop market. Both these products are based in part on Linux, but Google is working on something completely new, and you can take a peek at it on Github. It’s an operating system called Fuchsia, which could run on just about anything.

 

Google and many other companies make use of the Linux kernel for a variety of reasons. The robustness of features is certainly part of it, but it’s also freely available under the GPL license. Anyone can use the Linux kernel in a project, provided they make the open source components available to end users and developers. So, what about Fuchsia? According to the GitHub page, “Pink + Purple == Fuchsia (a new Operating System).” Google’s mysterious new Fuchsia OS is based on a completely different kernel known as Magenta. This is a microkernel, which itself is based on a different project called LittleKernel.

 

The intended use for Magenta was as part of an embedded system like you might see on routers or set-top boxes. It seems that Google wants to use it for more than that now. Magenta is designed to be lightweight, but it can scale up to be the basis for more powerful systems. Google’s Fuchsia page notes that the project is targeted at “modern phones and modern personal computers’ that have fast processors and lots of RAM.

 

 

Building something open from scratch gives Google much more freedom to make exactly what it needs. The Linux kernel has been around for about 25 years and is used in all manner of applications. Many developers have contributed code over that time, and as a result it’s a little ungainly. Many of the security exploits found in Android these days are actually faults in the Linux kernel. Google is testing Fuchsia on a variety of devices like Intel NUCs and Acer laptops. There is also support for the Raspberry Pi 3 on the way. Google is currently using a system called Flutter for the interface and Dart as the programming language.

 

But what’s Google going to do with Fuchsia? It’s possible Google management isn’t even sure. This could just become another abandoned project before it has a chance to replace anything. Still, some have speculated that Google could see Fuchsia as the next step for Android, Chrome OS, or both. Migrating to a new platform probably means breaking compatibility with existing software (or emulating it in some way), so this is not something to be done lightly. Perhaps Fuchsia is something completely new for Google — a robust full desktop OS alternative to Chrome OS. Whatever Google has planned for Fuchsia, nothing is changing at the moment.

 

Source : http://www.extremetech.com/computing/233699-google-is-working-on-a-mysterious-new-os-called-fuchsia

Categorized in Search Engine

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