Current spying campaigns run by the CIA could be disrupted, say experts, after more data on the agency’s hacking techniques was released by Wikileaks.
CIA code that obscures malware’s origins was detailed in the latest release by the whisteblowing site.
The code could be used to create a “signature” for CIA malware, said one virus hunter.
The information is part of a larger cache about CIA hacking tools that started to be released last month.
The release of the information could be “one of the most technically damaging” said Nicholas Weaver, a computer security researcher at the University of California in Berkeley, in an interview with the Washington Post.
“It seems designed to directly disrupt ongoing CIA operations and attribute previous operations,” he said.
Before now, the information released about the CIA’s hacking tools by Wikileaks has largely been only text describing many different ways the agency spies on targets.
The latest release differs as it involves actual code used to hide the ultimate origins of malware used by the US organisation.
It shows the obfuscation techniques used to make it harder to reverse engineer malware to unmask who made it.
Included in the code library are fragments of Chinese and Farsi that are intended to be used in malware, as well as methods of moving data around that seek to thwart tools examining whether different samples have anything in common.
Jake Williams, founder of security firm Rendition InfoSec, said the release was “significant”.
“It allows the attribution of previously discovered malware to the CIA specifically,” he wrote, adding that the code samples could add up to a signature for spotting agency work.
“It is likely that malware has been discovered previously which was not attributed to CIA then, but can be today thanks to the release of the code,” he said.
The CIA would not comment on the authenticity of the information released by Wikileaks, but a spokesman said Americans should be “deeply troubled” by the organisation’s actions.
“Dictators and terrorists have no better friend in the world than Julian Assange, as theirs is the only privacy he protects,” said the spokesman.
Twitter is an amazing public resource, and has grown from a niche micro-blogging website into a valued communication tool that is often the worldwide source for breaking news. Anyone can set up and use Twitter, and sometimes it seems like everyone already has.
The basic premise of only having 140 characters with which to say something has become something of an art form for some users – depending on who you decide to follow on Twitter, your timeline will be filled with jokes, news, links, pictures and (typically) arguments.
The service is gradually allowing users more room for what they want to say, removing photos and URLs from the standard 140-character limit in first tweets and now also replies. And it has increased the video time limit from 30 seconds to 140 seconds.
But Twitter remains a confusing place for those new to Tweeting. We break down the basics of Twitter and its features to provide you with a guide to one of the world’s most used online resources.
Tweets are 140-character messages. You can send as many as you want as often as you want, and anyone else on Twitter who chooses to ‘follow’ you will see these tweets appear in their timeline.
Your Twitter timeline displays the tweets from all the accounts you follow in the chronological order in which they were tweeted. You can follow as few or as many accounts as you like.
Accounts can be run by anyone from your mates to corporate enterprises. So for every debatably hilarious meme your mate posts, it could end up appearing next to a Microsoft advertising tweet.
Remember that anyone can see a tweet – even someone doesn’t follow you, they can go to your account and view your tweets.
You can change yours setting so that your tweets are viewed only by the followers you approve. This goes against the point of Twitter, but if you want to, there’s an option to do so.
What is a hashtag?
A hashtag is a simple way to tag your tweets with a relevant word or phrase: just don’t use spaces. So if you want to tweet about the Samsung Galaxy S7, for example, you’d have to put #samsunggalaxys7
If you hashtag something in this way, you can click on it and view all the other tweets from around the world that have used that hashtag. If a certain hashtag is used often enough at the same time, it will ‘trend’ on Twitter. Read up about trends further down.
This is a tweet to a brand, so probably won’t get a reply (unless you’re lucky!). Using @ tags is the way on Twitter to start a conversation with people or join in on a popular conversation with people you don’t necessarily have to be following.
You can tag other Twitter users in your tweets, which will notify that person or account that you’ve tweeted them. For example:
Replies, retweets and likes
You can reply to any tweet directly, but email etiquette doesn’t apply here – you might not get a reply! You can also retweet others’ tweets, which will in turn appear on your followers’ timelines.
This is a good way to spread the word about news or share a good tweet without drafting a tweet yourself.
Another way to interact with a tweet is to like it, by clicking on the little heart that’s in every tweet when it’s read. This is next to the icons to reply and retweet.
There’s also three little dots – click on them and you’re given more options on how to interact with the tweet.
How to tweet
We don’t want to be patronising here, so we’ll keep it brief. A tweet can be anything at all – a status-like update like on Facebook for example:
Once you’re logged into Twitter, simply click on the blue ‘Tweet’ icon and you are faced with the composition box. This is where you can type in your tweet, and also the option to add an image, location, GIF or poll.
How to tweet an image
Adding an image restricts the number of characters you can use in your written message, the number remaining for you to type is displayed next to the ‘Tweet’ button that you will click to send your tweet.
On a computer, you’ll have to find and save the image you want to tweet first, before clicking the camera icon to search your hard drive for it.
How to tweet video
Twitter now lets you tweet up to 140 seconds of video. Simply press the camera icon under the new tweet field and then choose the camcorder icon. Press and hold the red button to record.
How to add a location to a tweet
Adding a location is handy if you are somewhere and tweeting about that place, like if you want to tweet a picture of the huge dinosaur at the Natural History Museum.
If you’re tweeting from your mobile, the GPS in your phone will help you find locations nearby. Simply click the location pin icon.
How to tweet a GIF
A GIF is a moving image made out of a few stills, and can be added much like an image can to a tweet. Twitter provides a library of a few popular ones for you to start with. Click on GIF:
How to start a poll on Twitter
You can also tweet a poll question to your followers, though these are usually more popular with large companies or personalities who have many thousands of followers. You can do one if you want though!
Simply click on poll, type your question and then a minimum of two or maximum of four answers. You can set the poll to run for any length from five minutes to a week. Click on the fourth icon along on the tweet window, which is the poll icon:
Trending on Twitter
Twitter is a global social media network, and it shows you what is trending around the world. You can find the trending tab by clicking Home on Twitter, and it’s on the left underneath your profile stats.
You can choose whether or not to allow Twitter to tailor trends for you or by location. For example, if you follow a lot of football clubs and tweet about football regularly, then you’ll probably see a few more football hashtags and trends then other people.
If you click on any of the trends, like in the above list, you’ll get taken to a timeline of only tweets that use that hashtag.
How to use direct messaging
You can send private direct messages to people on Twitter. Usually, you can only send messages to someone if they follow you, so you can’t go messaging anyone.
However, in Settings you can change this default so that any Twitter user can message you. If you’re brave enough, go to Settings, then tick the box that says ‘Receive Direct Messages from anyone’.
Direct messages are a quick and easy way to effectively send someone an email style message, and this used to be restricted to 140 characters like public tweets. However, Twitter has removed this limit now, so your messages can be much longer now – up to 1,000 characters per message.
Twitter’s direct message function is criminally underused; it’s actually very good.
What is Twitter Moments?
Moments is a feature relatively new to Twitter. Twitter curates the ‘moments’ itself. Click on Moments at the top of your browser (or tap the Lightning bolt icon on the Twitter app) to view them.
Trending Twitter stories are displayed with clear pictures and headlines, with Twitter reaction to these stories collected below. It’s based on your followers, popularity of the topic and location amongst other clever algorithms, so check it out if you want to discover a story you hadn’t heard about yet.
What is Twitter Connect?
Twitter Connect is only available on the Android and iOS Twitter apps, not on desktop. It’s designed to help users find new people and accounts to follow based on who you currently follow and your Twitter habits.
It’s still in its infancy, and will work better the more people you follow and the more you interact with their tweets: replying, retweeting and liking.
It also gives you the option to ‘find friends’ by syncing with your phone’s contacts to see which of them are using Twitter. This is particularly handy if you’ve only just signed up.
We’ve also collected together some links to handy guides on specific Twitter tasks – from changing your password to reporting spam on Twitter, click on the links below to go to the pages.
Part of the reason tablets became so popular is the fact they are always-on – no waiting for Windows to load, and no needing to enter your password every single time you wanted to use them.
Well, tablets are great, but depending on the situation at hand sometimes you just need a PC or laptop. And you still want it to load quickly. That shouldn’t be too much to ask.
You can increase the speed at which Windows loads firstly by removing unnecessary startup programs. A second step – and one to take only if you’re pretty sure your computer won’t fall into the wrong hands – is to remove the additional step of needing to enter a password for Windows.
Over time a Windows PC will build up quite a number of applications that are automatically started when you first turn on the PC or laptop. While some of these are useful – cloud syncing services for example, which work best when you don’t have to remember to enable them – not everything that inserts itself into your startup sequence is really necessary.
Every little helper program adds a bit more time between you pressing the power button and your computer being ready to use. Thankfully in Windows 10 it’s very easy to see what’s causing the delay, and quickly remove the culprits.
You can remove Windows 10 startup programs using the Task Manager, which is accessed by pressing Ctrl > Alt > Del. We will show you step-by-step how to do so here.
You can change startup programs in Task Manager. To launch it, simultaneously press Ctrl > Alt > Del on your keyboard and choose Task Manager from the menu that appears. Alternatively, right-click the Start Menu icon and choose Task Manager.
When the utility is first launched it will default to the programs that are currently running on your system. To access the information you need move the cursor down to the bottom left corner where it says More details. Click on this.
Now you’ll see a wealth of information displayed, including background processes and the resources that they are currently using. To find the startup items click on the tab along the top that is marked Startup.
This displays a list of everything that can load when you turn on your machine.
It’s important to note the Status column, as not everything on the list is actually enabled. If an item it marked as Disabled then you can ignore it as it will not load in the startup sequence.
To simplify matters click on the Status column so that it sorts the items into groups of enabled and disabled apps.
Removing startup programs using Task Manager
If you see any apps that you don’t want as part of your startup sequence then it is very easy to remove them. Simply right click on the relevant app, then select the Disable option from the pop up menu.
The app will remain in the list, but will no longer launch automatically when you turn on your machine. To enable it again just right click on it and select Enable.
Remember that you’ll need to reboot your machine for these processes to take effect.
HTC is gearing up to celebrate the first anniversary of Vive with the launch of the Viveport subscription model. The Viveport worldwide content distribution platform launched in September, and now the company is offering a low-cost subscription package to help you access the variety of content without breaking the bank.
“We’re surprised every day by what our fans and developers have brought to VIVE in its first year,” said Daniel O’ Brien, GM US, HTC Vive. “We’re astounded by the impact that VR is making in the home and in the enterprise, and we want to celebrate Vive’s first birthday by giving a bit back to our fans and by introducing Vive to more people.”
The HTC Vive isn’t a cheap system. It will set you back $800 just for the hardware (if you already have a VR-ready PC), and then you must dole out more money for the content. HTC recognized that cost is a barrier holding customers back, so it tried to sweeten the deal by tossing in a few free titles with the purchase of a Vive. (Developers did their part, too, by releasing a wide variety of content for free.) But the cost is still a factor for many people.
HTC created the Viveport content distribution service to help reduce the burden of purchasing content, and to bring content to regions that can’t access Steam (China). The Viveport platform offers hundreds of titles, and HTC often holds sales to reduce the prices even further.
“The marketplace for Vive apps has grown at a tremendous pace with more than 1,600 titles now available across different app stores and over 30 new apps launching daily,” said Rikard Steiber, President of Viveport at HTC Vive. “The rapid growth of the app market is a win for VR overall yet it can present discoverability challenges that affect both customers and content creators. Introducing a subscription model to VR is a natural evolution of where this market is going, and as film, music, and TV have proven it’s becoming the preferred way customers want to explore and experience entertainment content.”
In January, at CES 2017, HTC announced two more initiatives that address the burden of the high price. The company revealed that you could now purchase a Vive on a monthly payment plan. It also said it would be adding a subscription service to Viveport that would give you access to a wide range of content for a low monthly fee. At the time, HTC wasn’t discussing the details about Viveport Subscriptions. Now we know some of the details, and it’s working out to be an incredible value.
The Viveport subscription service launches on April 5, 2017, and it will cost you $7 per month. For that decidedly reasonable fee, you get access to five games of your choice per month. Every month, you can choose to keep the same games, or you can return them and select a new collection of five games. If you’re the type of person who finishes a game and then moves on to the next one, the subscription service could save you a tremendous amount of money. You can also use the subscription service to test out games before you commit to buying them. Every game available in the Viveport Subscription system is also available as a standalone purchase.
HTC said there are over 50 titles available in Viveport Subscription, and it expects the lineup to expand quickly. Developers have complete freedom to choose how they wish to distribute their game through Viveport. They can sell it for full price as a standalone product only, or they can opt into the Viveport subscription. HTC expects that most games will eventually end up on Viveport Subscription because it’s an additional revenue stream for developers.
HTC is giving away a free one-month trial of Viveport Subscription to everyone who signs up. The company is also giving away copies of Arcade Saga to everyone that has a Viveport account. Arcade Saga is a VR multiplayer game that features room-scale pinball, table tennis, and archery game modes. It also features a campaign mode with 84 levels for you to unlock.
To sign up for Viveport or Viveport Subscription, register at www.viveport.com. If you don’t have a Vive yet, the anniversary might be a good day to order one, because HTC is offering a $100 discount to newcomers on April 5.
We reviewed a few touchscreen monitors in 2014 and thought at the time that they might catch on as a new category. With the proliferation of phones, tablets, phablets, and pseudo-desktops like the Surface, it seemed logical that users might want to add that functionality to their traditional workstations.
Obviously that revolution didn’t happen, but the genre isn’t dead either. One of the monitors we looked at back then was Dell’s P2714T. That display is no longer available, but today we have a new product in the lab from the same company. The P2418HT is an IPS panel with 10-point touch and FHD resolution in a 24” size. Let’s take a look.
Clearly, users are not clamoring for touchscreens on the desktop. But if Dell sees a market for a brand new monitor, we can’t ignore it. And commercial applications are still a major driving force behind the adoption of large touchscreens.
The P2418HT is a fairly typical IPS panel with a 23.8” viewable area, a super thin bezel, and projected capacitive touch with 4096×4096 resolution. That should make it very attractive to artists and designers who need that fine control when drawing directly on the screen. 10-point touch means it supports gestures like swiping, pinch-to-zoom, and multi-finger/two-handed operation. As far as we can tell, it is not pressure-sensitive like the latest round of iOS products. Windows users can expect plug-and-play operation with versions 7, 8.1, and 10.
We’ll be running the P2418HT through our usual battery of color and luminance tests along with some hands-on use connected to a Windows 8.1-equipped PC.
Packaging, Physical Layout & Accessories
Dell has now committed to foam-free packaging for all its newest monitors. Our sample arrived in a stout box that opens clamshell-style. The accessory tray contains an IEC power cord along with high-quality DisplayPort, USB 3.0, and VGA cables. You also get a quick start guide and a CD with supporting software. We didn’t have to install any drivers to enable the touch function with our PC.
The stand and base must be assembled by bolting them together and clicking the result onto the panel. Cable management is accomplished with a snap-on input panel cover and a fabric sleeve that keeps everything neat and tidy. You’ll see in the photos below how well designed the stand is. It enables positions more suited to a display like this.
From the front, the P2418HT looks like many other 24” monitors. Its styling is simple and elegant with a barely-visible bezel just 5mm wide. Across the bottom is a larger 11mm strip that contains a set of small, down-facing buttons for OSD navigation. The keys click with Dell’s familiar firm quality. The overall package is extremely solid and well built.
Any desktop-based touchscreen needs a well-designed stand and Dell has met this goal easily. The upright hinges about one-third of the way up to allow the panel to go all the way down to the desk surface. It won’t quite go completely flat like NEC’s E232WMT, but it’s still a comfortable angle for drawing. You’ll note in the second photo above that the steepest angle can be maintained at multiple heights. The base is extremely heavy and works well at balancing both the weight and movement of the panel. You will have to make a concerted effort to knock the P2418HT over.
Cable management is well thought out too. This is where Dell’s included cables come into play. They’re more flexible than most and can easily make the sharp bends required when using the snap-on input panel cover. Once the wires exit that small hole, you can wrap them up neatly with an included fabric sleeve and run them through the upright. This keeps everything out of the way when operating the stand. We found no hiccups when moving our sample around.
The input panel contains one each of DisplayPort, HDMI, and VGA inputs. There are no built-in speakers, but there is a 3.5mm analog output for either headphones or powered speakers. Dell offers a small soundbar, at additional cost, that attaches to the bottom of the panel if you want an integrated look. The USB hub supports version 3.0 with an upstream and two downstream ports. Two additional outputs are version 2.0. One of these supports charging while the P2418HT is in standby mode.