NoScript Now Available For Firefox Mobile On Android

If you’re looking for added security when browsing on your Android device, look no further than NoScript. The popular Firefox extension has now been made available for Firefox Mobile. It’s called NoScript Anywhere.

Browsers have become extremely complex. With more and more platform-agnostic webapps appearing, users have been living and working inside a browser instead of a desktop. Google has been pushing Chromebooks that provide a full web experience using nothing more than their Chrome browser. Safari has gone mobile. Firefox has gone mobile. Opera has gone mobile. All these mobile browsers are gaining popularity, yet nobody has been addressing the issue with modern browsers: security.

NoScript allows users to selectively block Java, Javascript, Flash from executing without permission.  It provides XSS (Cross Site Scripting) and ClickJacking protection using integrated plugins. The add-on has been completely re-written to support a mobile interface. Once installed, NoScript immediately starts blocking harmful web applets using the default recommended options. More advanced settings such as whitelisting, blacklisting, and granular permissions will be editable on a desktop and can be synchronized via Firefox Sync — keeping all your devices up-to-date, whether a mobile device or full blown desktop/laptop.

NoScript Anywhere allows the plugin to be installed without restarting Firefox Mobile. It provides an option for disabling automatic playback of Flash and Java applets, instead, a placeholder can be clicked to initiate execution of the plugin.

Naturally, NoScript Anywhere is based on the extremely popular open source NoScript extension written by  Giorgio Maone,  who also created the  FlashGot Download Manager.  The work started at the beginning of 2011, it took short 9 months of incubation before being completed and available for public use.  

The majority of mobile browsers are based on WebKit, but are proprietary and different across the board by manufacturer. Android’s browser is based on Chromium, iOS’s based on Safari and BlackBerry’s based on a moldy flaming banana peel.

Firefox Mobile will hopefully become extremely popular among all smartphone users, and we will see NoScript Anywhere usage increase, making the web just a little bit safer for everybody.

Opera Browser Vulnerable to Memory Corruption Exploit

In the raging browser wars, features, security and stability are paramount to competing. Opera might want to get a serious handle on things with the next release they push.

There is a memory corruption bug that has been present in Opera 10, 11 and the pre-release of 12 on Windows XP SP3. The vulnerability exists within SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) layout handling. By nesting SVG functions within XML calls, an attacker is able to crash Opera. While crashing a browser might not seem like a huge deal to some, couple it with code injection and you have an exploit that can lead to complete remote code execution, and then it’s game over.

The exploit, which was discovered over a year ago, was reported to Opera but never fixed. Jose Vasquez, the original author, has published full details on the vulnerability as well as written and released a complete Metasploit module. Metasploit is a security framework for penetration testing, allowing a large number of security professional to collaborate on software and service vulnerabilities.

What might seem like a benign crash of your browser, might turn out to be an attacker positioning themselves to take control of your computer and network. Although it’s been previously broken, Jose also indicates it may be possible to bypass DEP, which is an active security feature provided by Microsoft,  specifically made to prevent unwanted code execution.

In an interview, Opera’s co-founder,  Jon Stephenson von Tetzchner indicated their number of users grew from 50 million in 2009 to over 150 million in just one year. There are a lot of users who are potentially vulnerable to exploitation of this bug. When Opera 11.51 was released, major security and minor stability issues were the reason for the update. If we consider that  this bug has been present since 10.50, disclosed to Opera over a year ago, and still left unfixed — many users may want to look at switching to the very popular Chrome  or Firefox 7  until Opera fixes this issue.

U.S Congressman Demands Amazon Answer Privacy Questions Concerning Kindle Fire

Worried about privacy? Well you’re not alone. U.S Congressman Edward Markey has published an open letter to Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, demanding an answer to privacy issues.

With the recent announcement of the Amazon Kindle Fire, an Android tablet powering Amazon’s content store, the Silk browser came to the forefront as a great leap in browsing. While ‘proxy-browsing’ is nothing new, Skyfire and Opera Mini have been doing it for ages, Silk will be the primary way all Kindle Fire users browse the web. This allows for Amazon to collect a HUGE amount of data that can be used for advertising or other means of monetizing personal information. Imagine that, a company making money off your personal online habits.

What is the Congressman after? Answers about what Amazon is collecting, how they are collecting it and what they plan on doing with it. Markey specifically poses the questions and demands an answer within 3 weeks.

  • What information does Amazon plan to collect about users of the Kindle Fire?
  • Does Amazon plan to sell, rent or otherwise make available this customer information to outside companies?
  • How does Amazon plan to disclose its privacy policy to Fire and Silk users
  • If Amazon plans to collect information about its users’ Internet browsing habits, will customers be able to affirmatively opt in to participate in the data sharing program?
Thank you for your attention to this important matter. Please provide the responses to these questions no later than November 4, 2011.

Amazon has built a huge network of infrastructure to leverage “server-side browsing” and make it completely invisible to the user. Browsing data and purchasing information is constantly being sent to Amazon and there is no known way to opt-out.  You could, of course, purchase one of the 30 other Android tablets on the market, that have unfettered access to the Amazon Kindle service.

While the Congressman does have his heart in the right place with these questions, especially considering he is Co-Chairman of the Congressional Bi-Partisan Privacy Caucus, this seems like a play using a very well known product to raise awareness for his ‘Do Not Track Kids’ legislation which attempts to protect online privacy for children. Won’t somebody think of the children?!

Do you really care if Amazon knows what you’re browsing the internet for? You probably already give that information to numerous other companies like Google or Facebook — what does one more Big Brother matter when you already have 6 looking over your shoulder?

RIM’s Response to Recent Service Outage; $100 Worth of Free Apps as Apology

If there’s one thing you use your BlackBerry for, it’s games, right?

In response to the recent BlackBerry service outage, which left millions of users across the world with a completely useless device, RIM has apologized for the disruption and is attempting to win some confidence back. In a Press Release issued early this morning, Research in Motion announced they will be offering premium apps  to customers as an expression of appreciation. The short list of apps and games will be available later this week, and will stay “free” until the end of 2011. It’s about as free as the $40/month you pay your carrier for access to RIM’s proprietary backhaul.

Likely, you have a BlackBerry for enterprise use (because it’ll cost the company too much to drop the antiquated service), well RIM isn’t ignoring you either. Corporate enterprise customers will receive one month of free technical support. A whole 30 days of technical service tacked onto your existing ball-and-chain contract with RIM — free!

The complete selection of premium apps will become available to download at BlackBerry App World over a period of four weeks beginning Wednesday, October 19th.   The selections over this period will include the following (with more to come):

•  SIMS 3 – Electronic Arts
•  Bejeweled – Electronic Arts
•  N.O.V.A. – Gameloft
•  Texas Hold’em Poker 2 – Gameloft
•  Bubble Bash 2 – Gameloft
•  Photo Editor Ultimate – Ice Cold Apps
•  DriveSafe.ly Pro – iSpeech.org
•  iSpeech Translator Pro – iSpeech.org
•  Drive Safe.ly Enterprise – iSpeech.org
•  Nobex Radioâ„¢ Premium – Nobex
•  Shazam Encore – Shazam
•  Vlingo Plus: Virtual Assistant – Vlingo

RIM’s enterprise customers will also be offered one month of free Technical Support.   Current customers will be offered a complimentary one month extension of their existing Technical Support contract, and customers who do not currently have a Technical Support contract will be offered a one month trial of RIM’s BlackBerry Technical Support Services – Enhanced Support, free of charge.   Additional details about the program and information about how to register will be available at  www.blackberry.com/enterpriseoffer.

It’s a pretty unclear message that RIM is sending. “Our service was down for 3 days and you were left with a brick in your pocket, here are some free games to play (for when the service goes out again), and if you pay for the service, we’ll offer your free technical support (to tell you when the service goes out again)“.

It should also be noted that of the 12 listed apps that RIM will be offering customers, most of them  require  an active data connection to be of any use. You can’t use Shazam, Nobex Radio or the iSpeech applications without service.

So be sure to fire up AppWorld on your BlackBerry and grab those games before the service goes down again, we all know you can’t survive with BrickBreaker for another 3 days.

Kik Comes Back To BlackBerry

It’s been 10 long months for Blackberry users who coerced their friends into using Kik, have been waiting for a new app. If you recall, Kik landed themselves in hot water with RIM when they first released their real-time chatting application. It was a direct competitor to BlackBerry Messenger and it was suspected they were using unsanctioned API and mimicking RIM’s own messaging service. They were ousted from the App World in November of last year.

Almost a year later, Kik has released a reworked and revamped client for their cross-platform service. It’s a universal Java app, built with no service calls or APIs that are specific to RIM. No RIM-owned NoC infrastructure notifications are being used. The app is lacking in a few features, like sending pictures and it’s missing support for the PlayBook — but it’s back and RIM can go fly a kite.

Kik is distributing the BlackBerry app exclusively on their site, as RIM is unlikely to allow it back into the App World for fear of users abandoning their proprietary service. Who can blame them, when RIM is having issues with their service, leaving users stranded for days due to outages.

Kudos to Kik for working around the blocks that some pinheads at RIM put in place, as an attempt to force existing users to stay with their inferior products and services.

Kik aims to be a completely free, cross-platform solution for instant messaging across mobile devices. It’s available for iOS, Android, Windows Phone and now, again, BlackBerry platforms. Visit the Kik Blog  for full details and to download the app to your PaperWeight  BlackBerry.

Ubuntu 12.04 Named, The Countdown Begins

The very popular Linux distribution, Ubuntu, has received its new name. With every public frozen release of Ubuntu, a code-name is chosen which traces its roots back to when Canonical took the reigns and pushed out ‘Warty Warthog’ in 2004. Since then, each 6 month release has received a name made up of a carefully selected adjective paired to the name of an animal. From 8.10 ‘Intrepid Ibex’ to 11.10 ‘Oneiric Ocelot’,  we have now arrived at the latest iteration of Ubuntu nearing release – 12.04.

Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical Ltd, explains the thought process for coming up with the newly named release, Precise Pangolin.

We’re looking for something phonetic, something plausible and something peaceful too. We’ll avoid the petulant, the pestilent, the phlegmy (phooey!), the parochial, the palliative and the psychotic. We’re aiming for mildly prophetic, and somewhat potent, without wanting to be all pedantic and particular. Phew.

Let’s ask the question differently what are we trying to convey? 12.04 is an LTS. So we want it to be tough and long-lasting, reliable, solid as a rock and well defended. It’s also going to be the face of Ubuntu for large deployments for a long time, so we want it to have no loose ends, we want it to be coherent, neat.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the  Precise Pangolin.

So, what on earth is a pangolin and why is it precise?

It’s very similar to an ant-eater. It has armor to protect itself, it’s versatile and can adapt to the environment. Fitting name for an operating system that needs to be robust and reliable, yet friendly and approachable by a new user.

To anticipate the launch, the Ubuntu team has put up an online countdown timer. It’s vague and they’re purposely skimping on details to create a stir. The timer runs in real-time and will end in just over 24 hours, when everything will, hopefully, be revealed.

Speculated Specs and Pictures of Samsung and Google’s Next Nexus

The much anticipated and very soon-to-be-announced Nexus from Google and Samsung has been teased. If you watched the video, you’ve been longing for a bit more. A bit more has been provided.

If the snapshot above looks a bit too curvy, it’s because it’s emphasised by the contrast and then drawn out by a razor-thin light shining from behind. We can easily make out 3 contact pins which are likely for a dock, a camera shutter button and a rather bulbous housing at the rear. Chances are, you’re going to watch the video again and pause it to try and make out some more detail. Don’t bother.

A cleaned up and modified image from the Samsung Teaser video has been floating around the web. Some kind chap took the liberty of putting his photoshopping skills to work. After removing the backdrop, punching up some color compensation and I’m sure a bit of the clone tool was used, the image left is one to behold.

If the rumoured specifications are true, the next Google flagship is going to absolutely be the next clamoured-after device. BGR, having a penchant for posting ‘sourced’ exclusive rumours, has published full specs of the upcoming device.

  • Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
  • 9mm thin
  • 4.65-inch 1280 x 720-pixel Super AMOLED HD with curved glass
  • TI OMAP 4460 dual-core Cortex A9 processor clocked at 1.2GHz
  • 1GB of RAM
  • 32GB of built-in storage
  • 5-megapixel camera on the back, 1.3-megapixel in the front
  • 1080p HD video capture support
  • LTE/HSPA depending on carrier
  • Wi-Fi a/b/g/n
  • NFC
  • 1,750 mAh battery

The specs are nothing crazy, making them that much more believable…except the powerhouse stuffed inside the Android slab. TI’s OMAP 4460 is a beast of a SoC to dump into a phone, but OMAP4 is the reference platform for Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) so, again, it’s very likely believable. The screen size and resolution are perfectly aligned with what’s been trending in the industry. Competitor devices, such as the recently announced HTC Sensation XL, are hitting 10mm measurements and come packed with the full gamut of connectivity. Huge batteries are getting shoved inside small phones in order to power larger screens and NFC chips, while still allowing you to get a day’s worth of work done on a single charge.

Even if none of the extremely likely, highly believable and trending rumours are true, one thing is for sure, Samsung’s UNPACKED event is highly anticipated and I hope they can deliver.

Siri On Apple’s iPhone 4S is Serious Business

Let’s face it, Apple started and hyped the entire ‘app metaphor’. They made it important to have a centralized distribution center for software  and  bundle it into an ecosystem — where multiple layers of hardware and software interact and have clearly defined relationships. With the not-so-recent push to “web technologies”, browsers are becoming the dashboard for data and dedicated ‘apps’ are taking the back-burner. We’ve been slowly moving away from using a specific source to get specific information. This is where voice control comes into play.

Voice control has been around for years. Everybody knows about Nuance, Windows Voice Command and the Mac OS text-to-speech widget, yet they have an extremely limited scenario for usage. People use voice control on their mobile devices for simple tasks like dictation, music control or calling people. Siri on is going to change this. Although it was available in the App Store previously, now that Siri is integrated into iOS5, things are going to be different.

I’ll say the majority of mobile usage can be separated into 2 streams; either you’re giving information, or you’re getting information. Sending emails, taking pictures or replying to text messages, falls under giving. Browsing the web, listening to music/podcasts or using navigation software, falls under getting.

The purpose of Siri is to abstract both of these activities into a single method of interaction. It’s  appstraction!  Current smartphones owners have learned to launch apps to complete tasks. It requires active thought in order to do so. I want the weather, so naturally I am going to open a weather app. I want to set an alarm for tomorrow, so I’ll open the alarm/clock app. There is an active thought, a solution to the thought and then physical interaction with the mobile device begins. It’s an extremely recently-learned response. Speech, however, isn’t. Most of us have been talking since we were at least 3.

Speech is an immediate and direct subset to thought. It’s the next easiest thing to do — ask a question, get an answer. Using speech to get and give information is inherent to humans. It’s intuitive. It’s fast and it’s (usually) straight forward. If there’s one thing that Apple has been able to do, it’s provide relatively intuitive interfaces and experiences, on a consistent basis. Consistency is key.

Most people are lambasting Siri because they don’t want to talk to their phones. Voice usage is down, data usage is up. We know you don’t want to talk to people, let alone your phone. Stop trying to imagine yourself in a crowded subway station or mall, yelling at your phone in order to dictate an e-mail. You can still type it out on the horrid virtual keyboard. Now imagine you’re in bed and you forget to set an alarm. Don’t lift the glaring screen to your face, tap an icon, fat-finger the input to 7 AM and then put it back down. Lean over, press the home button and say “Wake me up at 7 AM”. Roll over and go to sleep. You didn’t even open your eyes.

I know change is hard. You want to interact with your phone. You want to hold and look at your phone. You want to swipe and flick through the interface on your phone. Except when you don’t want to and you simply want to get something done. Siri simply enhances your ability to reduce the amount of interactions it takes to get something done. Most consumers use technology because it betters their life. Siri will drastically reduce complications you have with your iPhone, if you want it to.

Steve Jobs Has Passed Away

It is with great sadness that Apple has reported Steve Jobs has passed away.

In a brief and concise statement, Apple’s board of directors provided a statement;

We are deeply saddened to announce that Steve Jobs passed away today.

Steve’s brilliance, passion and energy were the source of countless innovations that enrich and improve all of our lives. The world is immeasurably better because of Steve.

His greatest love was for his wife, Laurene, and his family. Our hearts go out to them and to all who were touched by his extraordinary gifts.

The Apple homepage has changed, in memory of the late visionary, Steve Jobs.  It is a sad day for all.

Nokia Slashing 3,500 Jobs by 2012

Rough waters are still ahead for Nokia. After recently cutting 4,000 jobs and off-shoring software development, and undergoing a massive internal re-tooling for Windows Phone 7, Nokia has announced they will continue with planned personnel reduction and will be losing a total of 3,500 jobs by the end of 2012.

Many Nokia employees have been shuffled around, from country to country and department to department. MeeGo and Symbian developers have been let go from R&D facilities. Nokia has said the entire Cluj factory in Western Romania will be losing 1,200 employees when the planned shut down begins in the tail of 2011. Back in 2008, the factory was hiring up to 100 people a week, now one in fell swoop, they will be looking for a livelihood elsewhere.

One of the many services that Nokia touts and actually does well, is mapping. In an attempt to ‘consolidate workforce’, Nokia will also be reducing Location and Commerce positions to the number of 1,200 persons — which is the department that feeds into their map service and location-aware social projects.

As with the previous long laundry list of layoffs, Nokia has promised to provide support to affected employees in any way they can. With Nokia’s Windows Phone 7 device coming off the line soon, hopefully the Finnish giant can kick into high gear in order to stop losing the employees that make the company so unique.

Source: BusinessInsider