Microsoft investigated by Russian antitrust body


Last Thursday, Russian antitrust authority said it had opened an investigation into Microsoft for allegedly abusing its dominance in the antivirus software market.

The Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) is investigating whether the tech giant is in violation of Part 1 Article 10 of the Federal Law ‘On Protection of Competition’ [PDF], which prohibits companies occupying dominant positions in the market from engaging in activities that result or can result in “preventing, restricting, eliminating competition” and/or “infringing the interests of other persons (economic entities) in business activities or consumers at large”.

The FAS opened the investigation upon receiving a complaint from Moscow-based internet security company Kaspersky Lab, which claims to have spent “months of fruitless discussions and multiple exhausting attempts to resolve the issue directly with Microsoft”.

Kaspersky claims Microsoft has significantly reduced the period for independent developers to adapt their antivirus software for the Windows 10 operating system to just six days, compared with two months for earlier versions.

In addition, when a Windows user upgrades to the latest operating system, its antivirus software is disabled, with Microsoft’s Windows Defender system taking over by default.

The same is occurring with other user-installed apps in cases where Microsoft has a competing offering within its ecosystem, Eugene Kaspersky lamented in a blog post.

With only six days to make the changes necessary to ensure compatibility, third-party antivirus software providers like Kaspersky do not have sufficient time to provide customers with adequate service and risk losing them to Defender, Kaspersky claimed.

Kaspersky also said Microsoft conceals antivirus license expiration warnings and automatically activates Defender if a trial period of a third-party product expires.

Anatoly Golomolzin, Deputy Head of FAS, said this leads to “unreasonable advantages” for Microsoft, adding that the FAS’s priority is to ensure equal conditions for all participants of this market.

“Actually, Microsoft’s actions aren’t only making things worse for users and killing off the whole ecosystem of independent developers; they’re also undermining users’ trust in Microsoft: creating an illusion of security while destroying the main competitive advantage of its platform — openness and democracy,” Kaspersky wrote.

He also questioned the quality of Defender as an antivirus service, saying that “independent lab tests” have confirmed Defender’s “below average” status in the security market. Kaspersky added that Windows Defender doesn’t have features like built-in VPN, webcam protection, exploit protection, protection for online banking and online shopping, and proactive protection against future threats.

“The trend is clear: Microsoft is gradually squeezing independent developers out of the Windows ecosystem if it has its own application for this or that purpose,” Kaspersky wrote.

Earlier this month, Microsoft launched its Slack team-collaboration competitor, Microsoft Teams, as a new feature of its Office 365 platform, provoking a response from Slack in the form of a full-page ad in the New York Times.

Hands On With Snapchat Spectacles


On Thursday morning, I woke up to texts from a friend. “Snapchat Spectacles Venice Beach vending machine. They’re here!”

Snapchat’s Spectacles had arrived via a pop-up vending machine known as a Snapbot. There were long lines and people waited for hours, but my friend managed to get two pairs.

Spectacles, revealed in September, are basically connected hipster sunglasses that record video snippets, which are wirelessly saved to your Snapchat Memories. The point? To “make memories, from your perspective.” So instead of fumbling around, looking for your phone to get the perfect snap, press the button on your Spectacles to create a 10-second snap.

First Look
When I first heard about Spectacles, I was skeptical. Why pay $130 for a pair of specs that look like the 3D glasses you get at the movies? But when I finally got them, I realized why everyone is so excited. Not only are the glasses a cool tech gadget, they actually look rather (geek) chic.

Snapchat Spectacles

Spectacles resemble regular sunglasses, but with circular yellow cameras on each side of the frame. They come in three colors: black, teal, and coral. The packaging is different from any other gadget I’ve tested; I felt like I was opening a water bottle with a large twist-off cap.

The design is simple. On one side is a camera; on the other is a spinning light that lets you know it’s recording. Each pair of Spectacles comes with the necessities: one charging case, one charging cable, and one cleaning cloth. That case doubles as a charger and can recharge Spectacles about four times before needing a charge of its own. Each charge will get you about 100 snaps.

Snapchat Spectacles

Setting Up Spectacles
Connecting the device to your phone is easy. Update Snapchat to the latest version of the app, turn on your phone’s Bluetooth, put the Spectacles on, and open up the Snapchat app. Point the glasses at the QR code on your phone, give them a name in the pop-up box that appears, and press the button on the top of your Spectacles. Press “pair Spectacles” within the app while wearing the glasses, and voila they’re paired!

iPhone 8 Specs Rumors: Upcoming iPhone’s Wireless


12 November 2016, 8:58 am EST By Ted Ranosa Tech Times
Tech analysts from Barclays Research report that the upcoming iPhone 8 handsets could ditch the traditional bezel design of earlier models in favor of a curved, borderless look. However, only the iPhone 8 Plus will be fitted with an OLED display. Pictured is the newly released iPhone 7.  ( Sean Gallup | Getty Images )

Analysts from Barclays Research said the tech company is looking to discard the traditional bezel design for its upcoming 5-inch and 5.8-inch iPhone units in order to make them as small as its current 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch offerings.

While the design for the iPhone 8 hasn’t been confirmed yet, the analysts believe that it could feature a bezel-less look with curved edges and a larger display compared with the original design. The new iPhone could move from 4.7 inches to 5 inches and its Plus version could move from 5.5 inches to 5.8 inches.

These details reportedly came from sources within Apple’s own supply chain while the analysts were on a recent trip to Asia.

Rumored iPhone 8 Design

According to MacRumors, the Barclays researchers added that the rumored 5.8-inch iPhone will be the only one to feature an OLED display, giving it a sharper and brighter screen. This will also allow the new handset to have a more energy efficient display compared with other smartphones with LCD screens.

So far, Apple receives its supplies of OLED displays from rival smartphone makers LG and Samsung. Sharp is also slated to become a supplier by 2018.

The latest iPhone 8 rumor supports earlier statements made by KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In March, Kuo said that Apple will release a 5.8-inch version of its flagship iPhone with glass casing and curved OLED screen in 2017.

Tech blogger and entrepreneur Robert Scoble said the iPhone 8 will have a clear glass case, which could be made from Gorilla Glass combined with polycarbonates for better durability. This clear glass look will allow Apple to incorporate augmented reality technology with the new smartphone.

“You pop it into a headset which has eye sensors on it, which enables the next iPhone to have a higher apparent frame rate and polygon count than a PC with a Nvidia 1080 card in it,” Scoble pointed out.

Meanwhile, Japanese news website Nikkei reported that the upcoming iPhone will have a considerably larger display. This premium model will be featured alongside the company’s 4.7-inch and 5-inch handsets that have LCD screens.

As far as other possible designs for the iPhone 8 go, Barclays said it doesn’t believe that the new smartphone will have its Home button embedded beneath its display, contrary to earlier rumors.

The research firms said it is more likely that the upcoming handset will share a few design similarities with Xiaomi’s Mi Mix, which features a slight bezel located at the bottom of the unit.

FriendFinder Networks hack reportedly exposed


 

If you have an account on AdultFriendFinder, Cams.com, Penthouse, Stripshow and/or iCams.com — and reused it on other sites — you should probably change your password. FriendFinder Networks, the parent company of those sites, has reportedly been hacked, resulting in the leak of of over 412 million accounts, according to Leaked Source (h/t to CSO). For context of just how big this breach is, the Ashley Madison hack affected 32 million people.

Hackers reportedly breached FriendFinder Networks last month, and gained access to over 300 million accounts on AdultFriendFinder, which markets itself as the “World’s largest sex & swinger community.” The hack also exposed over 62 million accounts on Cams.com, a site for live webcam “sex chat,” over 7 million on Penthouse.com, over 1.4 million on Stripshow.com, over 1.1 million on iCams.com and a little over 35,000 on an “unknown domain.”

FriendFinder’s network was reportedly hacked through a local file inclusion exploit, which enabled the hackers to access all of the network’s sites. For now, LeakedSource says it will not make the data set searchable by the general public.

FriendFinder messed up in a few ways. For one, the company either stored user passwords in plaintext, without any protection, or hashed them using the notoriously weak SHA1 algorithm, according to LeakedSource. The company also kept logins for a site they don’t even run anymore (FriendFinder sold Penthouse.com to Penthouse Global Media in February). FriendFinder also retained email and passwords for over 15 million people who had deleted their accounts.

“Over the past several weeks, FriendFinder has received a number of reports regarding potential security vulnerabilities from a variety of sources,” FriendFinder Networks Vice President and Senior Counsel Diana Ballou told ZDNet. “Immediately upon learning this information, we took several steps to review the situation and bring in the right external partners to support our investigation.”

Some of the claims were false extortion attempts, Ballou said, but the company “did identify and fix a vulnerability that was related to the ability to access source code through an injection vulnerability.”

I’ve reached out to FriendFinder and will update this story if I hear back.

Facebook, in Cross Hairs After Election, Is Said to Question


 

Throughout the election, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief, has defended his company as a place where people can share all opinions. CreditLluis Gene/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

SAN FRANCISCO — Late on Tuesday night, as it became clear that Donald J. Trump would defeat Hillary Clinton to win the presidential election, a private chat sprang up on Facebook among several vice presidents and executives of the social network.

What role, they asked each other, had their company played in the election’s outcome?

Facebook’s top executives concluded that they should address the issue and assuage staff concerns at a quarterly all-hands meeting. They also called a smaller meeting with the company’s policy team, according to three people who saw the private chat and are familiar with the decisions; they requested anonymity because the discussion was confidential.

Facebook has been in the eye of a postelection storm for the last few days, embroiled in accusations that it helped spread misinformation and fake news stories that influenced how the American electorate voted. The online conversation among Facebook’s executives on Tuesday, which was one of several private message threads that began among the company’s top ranks, showed that the social network was internally questioning what its responsibilities might be.

Even as Facebook has outwardly defended itself as a nonpartisan information source — Mark. Zuckerberg, chairman and chief executive, said at a conference on Thursday that Facebook affecting the election was “a pretty crazy idea” — many company executives and employees have been asking one another if, or how, they shaped the minds, opinions and votes of Americans.