Nobody will give you a free iPhone X for liking a Facebook page, so stop falling for these scams – BGR

I get it, the iPhone X is incredibly expensive at $999. And that’s just the starting price that gets you a measly 64GB of storage. But most buyers will not have to pay the price outright. There are plenty of financing option to help them deal with the wallet hit, including the iPhone Upgrade Program and various carrier offers.

But remember, iPhone fans, there’s no such thing as a free iPhone X. As a general rule of thumb, nothing in life is free. One way or another you’re going to pay for it. Falling for social scams that entice you to follow a Facebook page, YouTube channel or Instagram account, however, isn’t going to get you an iPhone X. Someone is taking advantage of you, and you won’t come away with a free phone.

There are many scammers out there looking to take advantage of the new iPhone release by promoting fake “free iPhone” offers. And the iPhone X could not be a better tool given that it’s the most expensive iPhone ever released.

According to ZeroFox, there are 532 fraudulent iPhone social accounts right now, and the number is going up.

What the purpose of these fake free iPhone offers on social media? The creators are looking to increase their follower counts. Some of the people looking to score a free iPhone X or iPhone 8 will follow, like, or share social content to have a chance of winning. However, the owners of these fraudulent social pages are only looking to quickly boost the number of followers, and then repurpose the page for something else.

Remember, there is no such thing as a free iPhone X for a like, share, or follow!

Other free iPhone offers will actually instruct users to share personal information that may be then used to steal a person’s identity.

Remember, there is no such thing as a free iPhone X for a like, share, or follow!

ZeroFox also says that free iPhones offers may also trick gullible users into clicking on malicious links and falling for phishing schemes. It goes without saying that you should never click on these links or install any apps if prompted to do so.

Remember, there is no such thing as a free iPhone X for a like, share, or follow!

Oh, and while we’re at it, nobody is looking to ditch old iPhone stock, including Apple. One of the great things about the iPhone is that it’s a valuable device. Even older models retain their value, so nobody will “ditch” them.

That’s not to say there aren’t genuine iPhone promotions that offer free iPhone models. However, before trying your luck, make sure you’re dealing with a verified company rather than an impersonator or some random person. In many cases, there may be certain conditions that must be met to make you eligible to win a free iPhone. If you’ve been a sucker for one of these fake offers in the past, you might consider going through the entire ZeroFox article and sharing it with friends. You will not win a free iPhone X offer if you do, but there’s still plenty of value in helping people steer clear of scams.

Also, consider reporting the fake pages and websites to the appropriate companies. It’s effortless to do so if we’re talking about Facebook pages or other social media accounts.

Finally, remember, there is no such thing as a free iPhone X for a like, share, or follow!

How to stop Apple iOS 11 from draining your iPhone’s battery

by: Mike Timmermann

Since Apple released its iOS 11 mobile operating system in September, iPhone users have been complaining that the upgrade is draining their battery faster than ever.

Multiple reports indicate that those with older iPhone models — not the new iPhone 8 — appear to be struggling the most.

RELATED: How I lowered my cell phone bill to $12 per month

After pushing out a couple of minor updates for bug fixes, iPhone users continue to vent their frustrations on Twitter. One user said that her iPhone 6s went from 79% to 30% battery life in 20 minutes.

Some people say they’ve been forced to use Low Power Mode just to get through the day without a charge.

Solving this problem may require a bit of troubleshooting. I’ve noticed that many iPhone users say they’ve fixed the issue by changing the background app refresh setting.

Some people claim iOS 11 turned background app refresh on for all apps, which drains the battery.

Turning background app refresh off has made a big difference for some users. To try it, go to Settings > General > Background App Refresh and select the apps that you want to stop from updating in the background.

If that doesn’t work, you may want to reduce your screen brightness, use a Wi-Fi connection, disable location services and turn off push mail notifications.

The best place to begin your detective work is Settings > Battery to see which apps are using the most battery.

Has turning off background app refresh improved your iPhone’s battery life? Let us know and share your battery-saving tips with us on Facebook and Twitter.

RELATED: Best cell phone plans and deals for 2017

Symantec to stop sharing source code with governments

US based cyber firm Symantec is no longer allowing governments to review the source code of its software because of fears the agreements would compromise the security of its products, Symantec Chief Executive Greg Clark said.

Tech companies have been under increasing pressure to allow the Russian government to examine source code, the closely guarded inner workings of software, in exchange for approvals to sell products in Russia.

Symantec’s decision highlights a growing tension for US technology companies that must weigh their role as protectors of US cyber security as they pursue business with some of Washington’s adversaries, including Russia and China, according to security experts.

While Symantec once allowed the reviews, Clark said that he now sees the security threats as too great.

At a time of increased nation-state hacking, Symantec concluded the risk of losing customer confidence by allowing reviews was not worth the business the company could win, he said.

The company’s about-face, which came in the beginning of 2016, was reported by Reuters in June.

Clark’s interview is the first detailed explanation a Symantec executive has given about the policy change.

In an hour-long interview with Reuters, Clark said the firm was still willing to sell its products in any country.

But, he added,”that is a different thing than saying, ‘Okay, were going to let people crack it open and grind all the way through it and see how it all works’.”

While Symantec had seen no “smoking gun” that foreign source code reviews had led to a cyber attack, Clark said he believed the process posed an unacceptable risk to Symantec customers.

“These are secrets, or things necessary to defend(software),” Clark said of source code. “It’s best kept that way.”

Because Symantec’s market share was still relatively small in Russia, the decision was easier than for competitors heavily invested in the country, Clark said.

“We’re in a great place that says, ‘You know what, we don’t see a lot of product over there’,” Clark said. “We don’t have to say yes.”

Symantec’s decision has been praised by some western cyber security experts, who said the company bucked a growing trend in recent years that has seen other companies accede to demands to share source code.

“They took a stand and they put security over sales,” said Frank Cilluffo, director of the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security at George Washington University and a former senior homeland security official to former President George W. Bush.

“Obviously source code could be used in ways that are inimical to our national interest,” Cilluffo said.

“They took a principled stand, and that’s the right decision and a courageous one.”

Reuters last week reported that Hewlett Packard Enterprise(HPE) allowed a Russian defence agency to review the inner workings of cyber defence software known as ArcSight that is used by the Pentagon to guard its computer networks.

HPE said such reviews have taken place for years and are conducted by a Russian government-accredited testing company at an HPE research and development center outside of Russia.

The software maker said it closely supervises the process and that no code is allowed to leave the premises, ensuring it does not compromise the safety of its products.

A spokeswoman said no current HPE products have undergone Russian source code reviews.

ArcSight was sold to British tech company Micro Focus International Plc in a sale completed in September.

On Monday, Micro Focus said the reviews were a common industry practice.

But the company said it would restrict future reviews of source code in its products by “high-risk”governments, and that any review would require chief executive approval.

Earlier this year, Beijing enacted a cyber security law that foreign business groups have warned could adversely impact trade because of its data surveillance and storage requirements.

The law has further fuelled concern that companies increasingly need to choose between compromising security to protect business or risk losing out on potentially lucrative markets.

Clark said Symantec had not received any requests to review source code from the Chinese government, but indicated he would not comply if Beijing made such a demand.

“We just have taken a policy decision to say, ‘Any foreign government that wants to read our source code, the answer is no’,” Clark said.

The US government does not generally require source code reviews before purchasing commercially available software,according to security experts.

“As a vendor here in the United States,” Clark said, “we are headquartered in a country where it is OK to say no.”

Some security experts fear heightened requests may further splinter the tech world, leading to an environment where consumers and governments only feel safe buying products made in their own countries.

“We are heading down a slippery slope where you are going to end up balkanizing (information technology), where US companies will only be able to sell software to parts of Europe,” said Curtis Dukes, a former head of cyber defence at the National Security Agency now with the non-profit Center for Internet Security, “and Russia wont be able to sell products in the US”

Google’s Home Mini needed a software patch to stop some of them from recording everything

Categorize this under “one of the worst possible PR nightmares for a Google smart speaker.” According to Artem Russakovskii at Android Police, the Google Home Mini he was reviewing was randomly and near-constantly recording sounds in his home and transmitting them to Google. The company acknowledged the problem and is issuing a software update to resolve the issue, which appears to boil down to a failure of the touch sensor on the top.

Smart speakers like the Google Home Mini are designed to only listen for a specific wake word — in this case it’s “Hey Google” or “Ok Google.” Only then do their microphones record what you’re saying it, transmit it to the cloud, and try to answer your question. But there is usually a way to just hit a button and ask the embedded assistant a question. On the Mini, it’s holding your finger down on the top of it.

That seems to be the rub (pardon the pun) with Russakovskii’s Mini: it thought that somebody was holding its finger down on the top and so was randomly activating and recording. The good news is that the lights turned on to indicate it was listening, but the bad news is that it didn’t make an audible tone, so it took a trip through the Home’s search history to discover the error.

To Google’s credit, it seems to have scrambled the engineering jets to figure out the issue and create a fix. The fix, though, is removing a feature from the Mini. Google has altered the software so a simple touch won’t activate the Assistant, you have to say the wake word instead. Here’s Google’s statement to Android Police.

We have learned of an issue impacting a small number of Google Home Minis that could cause the touch mechanism to behave incorrectly. We are rolling out a software update today that should address the issue. If you’re having any additional issues, please feel free to contact Google Support at 1-855-971-9121.

I suppose the “small number” piece is good to hear, assuming it actually is a small number. Even so, it’s a very bad look for Google. People are already leery of speakers listening to them and transmitting info without permission, so the last thing you want is to reenforce that worry. Also, deserved or not, people are doubly worried about the amount of information Google is collecting about them.

Finally, Google apparently wasn’t able to figure out something as seemingly simple as a touchable button under fabric, which doesn’t instill much confidence in its hardware prowess. At least it was fixed before the official release date for the Mini, October 19th.

Chance the Rapper livestreams traffic stop on Instagram

Grammy Award-winner Chance the Rapper livestreamed a traffic stop Sunday to his nearly 7 million Instagram followers in case things went “sideways.”

Chance, whose real name is Chancelor Bennett, is seen in a video posted to multiple YouTube pages sitting in the front passenger seat of a vehicle with his child’s mother, Kirsten Corley, behind the wheel.

“Just want y’all to be here in case it gets out of hand,” Chance said to the camera. “Should be good though. Should be straight.”

“I have great faith in humanity and the men and women that put on the badge, but, you know, you can’t be too careful,” Chance said as he munched on food and licked his fingers.

He says they’re being stopped in Chicago, noting to his followers that “you know how they do m—–f—— out here.”

Illinois State Police confirmed to the Chicago Sun-Times that Corley was stopped about 1 p.m. Sunday on the ramp from the inbound Dan Ryan Expressway to eastbound Stevenson Expressway. State Police said Corley was stopped for a moving violation; she was issued a warning.

A representative for Chance didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

By 4 p.m. Sunday, the livestream was no longer on Chance’s Instagram page.

Later in the video, Chance thanks hip-hop entertainment site Worldstar for tuning into the livestream, noting that “y’all can definitely help me out if it goes sideways.”

Chance reiterates his faith in the “men and women that put on the uniform.”

“But policing as a system is disproportionately racist and oppressive,” he added, noting that his daughter was also in the vehicle. “I ain’t got no [gun] in the car, no drugs in the car. Nothing going on, just came back from church.”

Corley receives a warning, at which point she and Chance thank the officer.

Chance, a Chatham native who attended Jones College Prep, has publicly criticized the Chicago Police Department in the past. During performances on “Saturday Night Live” in December 2015 and February 2016, Chance name-dropped Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke, who is charged with first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in 2014.

“But people just please don’t forget about Jason Van Dyke,” Chance rapped during the latter performance alongside Kanye West. “You cannot mess with the light.”

How to stop your Mac from auto-connecting to a Wi-Fi network

How to stop your Mac from auto-connecting to a Wi-Fi network | Macworld<!– –><!–

Wi-Fi icon


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Wi-Fi hotpots: As convenient as they are, they can be very annoying, as well. Especially when you’re using a Mac or iPhone that’s trying to connect to a hotspot when you don’t want it to.

Macworld reader Martin Joseph wants to ditch one company’s Wi-Fi hotspot in particular:

I wonder if you can figure out a way to set a Mac to never ever connect to Xfinity Wi-Fi? It would be great to eliminate this in my iPhone, too. I have found that deleting it from the list of known networks isn’t the best choice, and I usually resort to leaving it, but at lowest priority.

Apple’s Wi-Fi network control in macOS became kind of primitive many releases ago, and then Apple made it worse, removing a few features that haven’t returned. You can delete networks, as Martin notes:

  1. Open the Network system preference pane.
  2. Click your Wi-Fi entry in the adapter list at left.
  3. Click the Advanced button.
  4. In the Wi-Fi tab, select a network or networks you want to remove, and click the minus (-) sign.
  5. Click OK, and then click Apply.

You can also rearrange connection priority in step 4, so that you put preferred networks on top. This scrolling list can wind up with hundreds of entries, as they collect over time, and there’s no way to search through the list, see when the network was added, get geographic information about them, or any other data.

What Martin might be encountering is iCloud-based sync for Wi-Fi network entries. If you have iCloud Keychain enabled, every Mac and iOS device logged into the same iCloud account syncs all Wi-Fi network passwords. You may have noticed this if you log in to a hotspot at a cafe that has a password on your Mac, and then turn to an iPhone—it’s already synced the password over the cellular network, and has connected to the local network.

However, it’s possible that deleting network entries from macOS doesn’t remove the corresponding Keychain entries that are being synced, and thus when an iPhone connects to an Xfinity network, the connection details are synced back. (Xfinity uses a web-based login process, but I believe Apple passes that information to its hotspot login system, which intercepts portal screens and fills them with stored information.)

mac 911 keychain wi fi loginIDG

Keychain Access lets you peer into stored passwords for logins, including for Wi-Fi portals.

A way to test this and potentially solve this persistent problem is to use Keychain Access in macOS, as you can’t manage Keychain entries directly in iOS. (You can “forget” a network via Settings > Wi-Fi > tap a network in the vicinity and then tap Forget This Network and confirm. But it may not delete the Keychain entry, either.)

Follow these steps:

To beat Alexa, Google needs to stop following Amazon’s lead

Google’s smart home may be about to grow up, and I’d like to see it gain some independence in the process. As Google announces the next Pixel on Wednesday, rumors abound that the search giant will also unveil a smaller, more affordable version of its Google Home smart speaker dubbed Google Home Mini. Google could also debut a possible premium version of Google Home and maybe even a Google Home with a screen.

While I like the idea of Google expanding its smart speaker lineup, I want to see Google announce a smart home product that’s not just another version of an Amazon Echo device. Google Home was obviously inspired by the similar Amazon Echo and the Google Home Mini should replicate the Echo Dot. A Home with a screen would line up with the Echo Show and the more powerful premium version of the Home could remind customers of the Echo Plus as well as Apple’s upcoming HomePod.

Google has done an admirable job of developing its current Home speaker. Even though the Echo is two years older, Google Home now has a comparable number of smart home partners and abilities. That said, to truly bring the Home out of Amazon’s shadow, Google needs to stop chasing Amazon and surprise us with a unique device of its own.

The thrill of the chase

Last week, Amazon announced six new products in the Echo family, including the Echo Plus and a smaller Echo with a screen. Even as Google Home has largely caught up with the Echo in terms of features, Amazon leads in device versatility, especially after its announcements last week. 

While it’s arguable that Amazon now has too many Echo devices, the company deserves credit for continuing to find new, useful ways to package Alexa,  Amazon’s digital assistant. For example, the Echo Show lets you use Alexa to make video calls and the Echo Look turns Alexa into a fashion advisor.

On top of Amazon’s first party devices, other companies have used Alexa’s open API to build it into an even wider variety of gadgets. GE has an Alexa lamp. LG built Alexa into a fridge. Google’s own voice assistant, dryly called the Google Assistant, is only available in speakers and phones for now.

But Google has taken steps to change that, launching a developer kit for Assistant this Spring. Still, we’re just now seeing third party products launch with Assistant, and so far, they’re only speakers and phones. It’s perfectly reasonable for creative new devices to take time to surface with only a few months for development, but in the meantime Amazon keeps adding devices to its lead.


According to Droid Life, this is a leaked pic of the Google Home Mini.

Droid Life

In terms of sales, Echo devices are way ahead of the Google lineup. Amazon accounts for 70 percent of smart speaker sales, Google a distant second, according to eMarketer. The $50 Echo Dot (£50, unavailable in Australia) is Amazon’s best seller. The Dot packs the full power of Alexa into a small, affordable package. Plus, it plugs into your house’s stereo system so you can use Alexa to play music on your speaker of choice.

We loved the Dot when we reviewed it, and last Spring, I argued that Google needed a competitive device — a smaller, more affordable Google Home that mainstream customers can scoop up without too much consideration. It certainly looks like Google will deliver that on Wednesday with the Google Home Mini.

If the Mini does exist, and if it’s good, it’ll be an important part of Google’s smart home lineup and could help the search giant catch up to Amazon in smart speaker sales. So the Mini is a necessary move by Google, but it’s still the move of a company playing catch up.

Google could keep imitating Amazon’s successful products, but if it wants to capture more than just a slice of the other 30 percent of the market, Google needs to forge a new trail for its Assistant. Fortunately for Google, there are still a few fertile areas remaining where Google can beat Amazon to the punch.

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Watch this:

How to center your smart home around your Google Home


What else is there?

At the top of my wish list for a surprise device would be a Google router with the Google Assistant built in. Google already has a router called Google Wifi, which uses three identical units that you can spread out to create a Wi-Fi “mesh” signal throughout your home.

The Echo took a piece of familiar hardware — a speaker — and made it feel fresh by adding Alexa and microphones so it would respond to voice commands. Google could do the same thing with a device most of us need to have anyway.

A microphone-equipped, multi-unit Google Wifi package would distribute Google Assistant access all around your home. Better yet, a Google Home version of Google Wifi would add some excitement to an ordinary but necessary device, not unlike what Nest did for the thermostat.

A television that doubled as a Google Home would also break new ground, and like the router, it could bring the Assistant into your life via a consumer electronic device you might plan to purchase regardless.

Amazon doesn’t have an Alexa-enabled router, but it does technically have an Alexa-enabled TV: the Element Fire TV. But the Element isn’t voice-activated itself (neither is the upcoming model from Toshiba or the comparable models from Westinghouse and Sony). You can pair the Element with any Echo device to control it with your voice, or you can press a button on the TV’s remote to give a command.

As it stands, Google will add Assistant capabilities to existing Android TV devices later this year. Like Amazon, Google has streaming boxes running the company’s software. A few companies such as Sony also make TVs with Android TV built in. Like the Element TV with Alexa, the Sony TVs still require you to push a button on your remote to talk to the TV.

The next step seems simple: add a few microphones to one of those Sony TVs and you’ll have a TV version of the Google Home. In practice, adding microphones to a TV in a spot where you’re not reducing screen size and they can still hear you over the sound of the television could be difficult. One way around this could be building an always listening microphone into the TV’s remote, but that would certainly put strain on the remote’s battery.

So a Google Home TV might not be easy to make, but it would be cool, useful and unique.

Waiting for Google

Google has a lot of the pieces already in place to build the Assistant into something new and step out of Amazon’s shadow. Google makes routers and has TVs with the company’s software built in. Making one of those double as a Google Home would provide useful functionality and a dose of coolness to tech we already use.

The devices Google is likely to unveil on Wednesday will continue to replicate the Echo line. The competition between Google and Amazon on the smart speaker front is a good thing for consumers, as the companies push each other to add more features and functionality. For the sake of that competition, I hope Google surprises us with a broader variety of Assistant-equipped devices, and soon.

Google Pixel 2 lands Oct. 4, here’s what we know: Every fact, rumor and leak we’ve seen about the new phone so far.

‘Alexa, be more human’: Inside Amazon’s effort to make its voice assistant smarter, chattier and more like you.

Google plans to stop trusting current Symantec certificates: Here’s what tech pros need to know

Earlier this year, Google announced a plan to stop trusting existing Symantec SSL certificates, which are used to authenticate and encrypt data, due to concerns about the way these have been issued.

Google expects root certificate authorities to validate domain ownership before issuing certificates and to secure their operations and infrastructure against signs of improper issuances as well as auditing logs to review issuance activity. They stated Symantec did not meet these standards and allowed outside access to their certificate infrastructure without proper oversight. Further, Google stated Symantec failed to disclose this information in a timely manner and it did not take this issue as seriously as they should have.

Appropriate browser security represents a significant challenge to which browser manufacturers, system administrators and users all have a different approach. System administrators want users exposed to minimal risk (and troubleshooting difficulties) and it’s safe to say users want to be able to do their jobs with minimum of prompts and dialogue boxes.

Browser companies face the brunt of the difficulties, however, since they have to decide which type of measures to enact in their code to alter or restrict potentially unsafe user behavior, such as by warning users about potential risks, trusting or distrusting specific activities, or even blocking certain websites or software.

It’s a fine line they walk, determining how aggressive their tactics should be. Drastic restrictions may put them in conflict with other businesses as well as their user base. System administrators and end users who end up frustrated with onerous usage or access limitations may simply disable features intended to protect them or end up using alternate browsers altogether.

In the case of Symantec, their Certificate Authority (CA) was found to have improperly issued over 30,000 SSL certificates. This represents a significant risk since it enables the impersonation of other sites as well as the ability to analyze communication between servers.

Google had a tough choice to make, but opted to make it for the benefit of their customers. Stating that their developers “no longer have confidence in the certificate issuance policies and practices of Symantec over the past several years,” the company laid out a set of guidelines for Symantec to follow to revamp their CA infrastructure in order to remedy this situation within a specific timeframe.

Symantec issued a response taking responsibility for the issue and praising Google for not adversely impacting their customers by posing “compatibility or interoperability challenges for the vast majority of users.” They requested more time to revamp their infrastructure as well as the creation of an Enterprise Chrome policy to permit the use of Symantec certificates issued before June, 2016.

Ultimately they opted to sell their entire top-level SSL business to DigiCert, which will be operational under this new ownership as of this December. As a result, Symantec will no longer be a Certificate Authority but instead a Subordinate Certificate Authority (SubCA), as proposed by Google. Symantec can still conduct business issuing new SSL certificates, and Google (as well as other browser vendors) can receive reassurance that Digicert will conduct itself through strict and secure guidelines to prevent the mistakes of the past from reoccurring.

SEE: Internet and Email usage policy (TechRepublic)

How will this affect your company?

As a result of this decision, Google stated “Website owners and other developers using Symantec SSL certificates inside their application will have to reach out to Symantec for a new SSL certificate… or reach out to another CA provider altogether.”

In terms of how Chrome will respond to these certificates, it will no longer recognize as valid current Symantec Extended Validation certificates, which are supposed to assure users a site is authentic because the owner of the certificate passed a rigorous verification check. Chrome currently displays such domain names in green alongside the secure padlock icon in the address bar, but will not do so for Symantec. Chrome will not accept any new certificates from Symantec’s current infrastructure which have an expiration date of more than nine months.

Furthermore, Google Chrome will start warning users about insecure Symantec SSL certificates in version 62 which will be released this October. Chrome 66, estimated for release next April, will display “untrusted” errors for all Symantec certificates issued before June 1, 2016. Chrome 70, estimated for October of 2018, will display errors for all Symantec certificates issued using their old CA infrastructure before December 1, 2017.

SEE: Essential reading for IT leaders: 10 books on cybersecurity (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

What do you need to do?

Symantec claims no action is required at this time. However, in preparation for the upcoming Chrome changes if you utilize Symantec-issued certificates, I recommend consulting with your CA issuer/vendor (who should have notified you already) to determine whether you should replace these, especially if they are older than June 1, 2016. If you need to replace them but this effort this is neither possible nor feasible at the moment, you should notify customers or users to be prepared for Chrome warnings and errors and work out a plan and schedule for replacement as needed.

In addition, if you administer user systems running Chrome and this application is routinely updated (as it should be) you should notify your customers that they may see these warnings and errors when accessing other external sites which utilize impacted Symantec certificates, and notify them as to how to proceed.

Personal or recreational sites using affected Symantec certificates should be avoided once the Chrome notifications begin next month. If the site(s) involve business purposes, you should determine whether to have users continue to access these until the certificates are replaced. Base your decision on the criticality of the operations involved as well as the required confidentiality of any data.

It’s preferable to train users to take alerts seriously, so advising them to ignore such alerts can lead to indifference in other situations, lessening their awareness levels. If you elect to allow the access, consider utilizing Google’s Enterprise Chrome policy (Google it for availability when released) on company-owned systems to suppress certificate alerts (if feasible for your organization).

Also see


Image: iStock/welcomia

Moon village the first stop to Mars: ESA

A handout artist impression released by the European Space Agency showing a lunar base made with 3D printing
A handout artist impression released by the European Space Agency showing a lunar base made with 3D printing

Setting up a permanent village on the moon is the first step towards exploring Mars, the European Space Agency said Thursday as plans to reach and colonise the Red Planet gathered pace.

At an annual gathering of 4,000 global space experts in Adelaide, the ESA said the Moon was the “right place to be” as humans expand economic activities beyond low-Earth orbit, even while Mars remained the “ultimate destination”.

“We have been living in low-Earth orbit for the last 17 years on board a space station and we are on our journey to Mars for the first human mission,” ESA’s Piero Messina told AFP at the congress.

“In between, we believe that there is an opportunity to create a permanent… sustainable presence on the surface of the Moon.”

Reaching and colonising Mars has been viewed by private and public interests as the next stage in exploring the final frontier, and has been a key part of this year’s International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide.

Messina said the more immediate goal was to have a permanent presence on the Moon, even if it was just a robot, by the end of the next decade.

“There are a series of missions planned to the moon over the next 10 years, and all these missions will create a movement, a momentum, and will create a wealth of data that will enable building the village,” he added.

“I think it’s the right time now to start discussing, start planning for something which is as inspiring as the space station but on a truly global, international-cooperation basis.”

The space agency has been touting the permanent lunar colony as a replacement for the orbiting International Space Station, which is due to be decommissioned in 2024.

Also on the cards is a NASA-led project to build the first lunar space station as part of a programme called the Deep Space Gateway.

The Russian space agency Roscosmos and NASA Wednesday signed a cooperation agreement to work on the station, building the systems needed to organise scientific missions in lunar orbit and to the surface of the Moon.

The congress in the southern Australian city is set to conclude on Friday with new details from Lockheed Martin on its Mars Base Camp, the defence giant’s plans to send humans to the planet by 2028.

SpaceX’s Elon Musk on Friday will also outline a new design for an interplanetary transport system to take humans to the Red Planet.

Explore further:
Russia, US shoot for the moon with joint lunar station project (Update)

Symantec – why your employees could be the ‘secret sauce’ to stop cybercrime

One of the UK’s leading security experts has called for a major shake-up in the way businesses train their employees in online safety.

Symantec CTO Darren Thomson said that workers can effectively be an extra layer of protection for companies looking to prevent themselves falling victim to cyber-attack.

Speaking at the Symantec Crystal Ball event in London this week, Thomson highlighted how even unskilled or non-expert workers can play a critical role in keeping their employer safe – and become part of the ‘secret sauce’ of cybersecurity.

“We’re at a point in history now where we’re more reliant on non-experts making good IT decisions than we’ve ever been,” he said.

Thomson called for businesses to adopt a neighbourhood watch-esque approach to security when welcoming new employees – so instead of the IT department seeing them as a potential new threat, the workers could effectively act as ‘eyes on the ground’ to help spot risks.

“We’ve done a terrible job in this industry of training people the right way,” he noted, “we’ve been kidding ourselves actually about training, as not everyone wants to be a security expert.”

Asked if we are walking into some dystopian future, and for his predictions of the cybersecurity future, Thomson said he believed the security industry as a whole has a great opportunity to present itself as a protector of business and consumer alike.

“We have a chance to get things right (in cybersecurity) in the next five to 10 years,” he noted. “We have a lot of challenges to overcome, as the world is more connected, and the attack surfaces that criminals can target are getting larger everyday.”

Businesses need to ensure they are monitoring potential threats before they even strike, shutting down possible risks whilst still at the early stage, Thomson said, giving the example of ransomware attackers creating multiple encrypted backups on a network before launching their assault – a tactic that IT departments should easily be able to spot.

“Every technique, every principle, every strategy we talk about – the criminal is thinking about them too,” Thomson added.

“Don’t presume we’re cleverer than the criminal…they’re always thinking about the same thing, and keep us on our toes.”