Summary: Facebook has partnered with five companies (Microsoft, McAfee, TrendMicro, Sophos, and Symantec) to provide improved security for its users. That includes free antivirus solutions for six months.
Facebook today announced the Antivirus Marketplace, or just The AV Marketplace for short. The news is two-fold: the social network giant has partnered with Microsoft, McAfee, TrendMicro, Sophos, and Symantec to provide its users with access to full version antivirus software free for six months, and the five companies will also augment Facebook’s URL blacklist system with their own URL blacklist databases.
First let’s talk about the free software, since everyone likes free stuff. The AV Marketplace is aimed at the hundreds of millions of Facebook users who don’t currently have security protection on their computer. Facebook lets you download licenses to full versions of antivirus software: Microsoft Security Essentials, McAfee Internet Security 2012, Norton AntiVirus, Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac Home Edition, and Trend Micro internet security for PCs and Macs. After six months, for the ones that aren’t free forever, you’ll have to pay up.
Out of the five options, I prefer Microsoft Security Essentials, which is free forever, not just six months. I’ve recommended MSE since day one, and I will continue to do so until something better comes along.
The marketplace is accessible from the Facebook Security Facebook Page, or via this direct link:on.fb.me/FBAVMarketplace. Facebook wouldn’t say, but I’m assuming it will eventually expand its list of antivirus partners to offer further free alternatives for its users. The social networking giant says arming its users with antivirus software will “empower them to stay safe no matter where they are on the web.”
At the same time, Facebook’s over 901 million active users will now be protected by the combined intelligence blacklists of the security industry. Facebook’s URL blacklist system, which already scans trillions of clicks per day, will now incorporate the malicious URL databases from these security companies.
This means that whenever you click a link on Facebook, it not only be checked against Facebook’s blacklist, but also the blacklists provided by Microsoft, McAfee, TrendMicro, Sophos, and Symantec. For more information on how Facebook’s URL blacklist system works, check out How Facebook protects users from malicious URLs.
Last but not least, Facebook also said these companies will be writing posts on Facebook Security to provide important security material to help Facebook users keep themselves, and their data, safe. To get these updates in your News Feed and Ticker, you’ll need to Like the Facebook Page.
“Nothing is more important to us than the safety of the people who use Facebook, and the security of their data,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. “The Facebook Security Team has pioneered many innovative defense systems against viruses, spam and phishing attacks, as well as extensive automated enforcement mechanisms that quickly shut down malicious pages, accounts and apps. Truly effective security requires cooperation and we are excited about this partnership with many of the leaders in the security community to better help us defend against existing threats, anticipate new ones and arm people with the tools they need to protect themselves.”
Summary: Photoshop is a big, heavy application that, when pushed hard, can bring even a high-end system to its knees. For hardcore graphics designers, a dedicated piece of kit is essential.
Without a doubt, the single most-requested feature here on Hardware 2.0 in the ‘Build-Your-Own PC’ category is for an “Ultimate” Photoshop system. Now that Adobe has officially launched Photoshop CS6, it’s time to take a look at this new release and prepare a hardware package that does it justice.
It seems that the reason why people are interested in the hardware specifics for a PC with Photoshop is because it’s a big, heavy application that, when pushed even modestly, can bring even a high-end system to its knees. Even small bottlenecks in performance can mean a lot of time spent twiddling your thumbs while the program chunters through a task. There’s no doubt that the better your hardware, the better your Photoshop experience will be.
Well, here it is, a guide to building your “Ultimate” Photoshop CS6 system.
Personally, I’m not much of a Photoshop user, and most of my “art” ends up looking like the 4chan Rage Guy, so please don’t ask me any Photoshop-related questions!
While I’m specifically looking at a system suited to Photoshop CS6, this build will work equally well for any of the big Adobe products, such as Premiere Pro CS6 or even the ‘full’ Master Collection CS6 package.
To build the “Ultimate” Photoshop system you will need to choose four components carefully. These are:
A fast, quad-core processor
Lots of RAM
Lots of big, fast hard drives
A graphics card that supports GPU-acceleration found in Photoshop CS6
Let’s take a look at these four components in more detail.
When it comes to Photoshop, there are three CPU-related facts that you have to accept. Intel CPUs trump AMD silicon, speed of the CPU matters, and pushing the cores beyond four doesn’t have a huge impact on performance. Here’s a benchmark to support all the above statements, and based on my testing these conclusions are just as applicable to Photoshop CS6 as they were to CS5 or 5.5. AMD makes some good CPUs, but for Photoshop you should be looking at Intel processors.
So, we’re going to start building this Photoshop system by putting an Intel Core i7 at its heart. I recommend the excellent 3.6GHz Core i7-3820 CPU (which turbo-boosts up to 3.8GHz), a part that will set you back about $310.
You need RAM, and lots of it. Consider 8GB an absolute minimum, and take that to 12GB or 16GB if your motherboard allows. There’s not need to get fancy or fast RAM aimed at gaming systems for this build. In fact, you’re better off sticking to the quality desktop RAM from reputable vendors.
Stick with RAM from Crucial or Kingston and you won’t go wrong. Not only will you get a quality, stable product, but these companies offer excellent warranties if you do end up with a bad stick of RAM. This RAM also works out a lot cheaper than the stuff aimed at gamers.
A Photoshop system needs masses of storage. This is not just because the application itself is huge, or because the output can be massive. It’s because in order to get the best from Photoshop you need multiple drives, with each one dedicated to handling a specific task.
Ideally, you need four drives. One for the OS, one for the application, one for your output files, and one to act as a “scratch disk.” A “scratch disk” is what Adobe calls using a portion of a hard drive as virtual memory. You can get away with fewer disks, for example two disks — one for Windows and the applications, the other to ask as storage and a “scratch disk” — but it’s far ideal. Trying to run everything on a single disk is best avoided as it’s going to create a significant performance bottlenecks.
Since this is an “Ultimate” system, I’m going to recommend that you use four disks. You’ll need two large hard disk drives (HDD), and two fast solid state drives (SSD). You’ll install Windows onto one of the hard disk drives, and Photoshop onto the other hard drive. Then you’ll use the one of the solid state drives for your output files, and the other as a “scratch disk.” This setup gives you the best possible storage performance, eliminating a number of potential bottlenecks.
It’s worth noting that you don’t need big solid state drives for this build because they’re only used for short-term storage. Once you’re done with a project, it’s a good idea to move the files to a hard disk drive where the cost-per-gigabyte is much lower.
Photoshop CS6 features a new Mercury Graphics Engine, and this comes equipped with a number of GPU-accelerated tools, including blur effects, liquify effects, and adaptive wide-angle effects. To make use of these GPU-accelerated tools you will need a system kitted out with a graphics card from the NVIDIA Quadro lineup, something you won’t find in a standard system.
At the high-end these Quadro graphics cards become super expensive, with a Quadro 6000 setting you back $4,000. Thankfully, you don’t need a high-end card to power the new features found in Photoshop CS6 and we can make do with something more modest, such as the Quadro 2000.
Putting it all together
OK, let’s put this all together into a complete system. Here’s a complete list of components (including case and operating system):
Optical drive: LG WH12LS39 12X Blu-ray Burner - $80
Power supply unit: CORSAIR Enthusiast Series TX750 V2 750W power supply unit - $105
Case: Thermaltake V4 Black Edition chassis - $50
Operating system: Microsoft Windows 7 Professional SP1 64-bit - $130
Total price: $2,100
Once you’ve built this system I recommend giving it a thorough stress-test to shakeout any problems before you start working on it. Adobe CS6 applications are incredibly demanding and will uncover even the smallest flaw in your system. Better to find any problems before putting the system into a production environment.
Summary: But there are potential obstacles to constructing a notebook chassis from Liquidmetal, the primary being how the material handles heat.
The blogosphere just won’t let go of the idea that Apple is on the verge of using Liquidmetal technology in one of its products. Last week it was the iPhone 5 that was going to get the Liquidmetal treatment, and now it’s rumored to be a feature of the MacBook Pro 2012 refresh.
SlashGear reports that Apple could cast the chassis of the next MacBook Pro from Liquidmetal. But, just as with the iPhone 5 rumor, that this raises all sorts of issues related to whether this metal is transparent enough to radio frequency to allow Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to work properly.
A possible solution to this problem is offered up in the design of the Wi-Fi + 3G/4G iPad. The chassis of this product is machined out of aluminum, but in order to give the cellular antennas a window out to the world, there’s a black plastic panel at the top of the tablet. It’s not a particularly elegant solution, but I’ve never heard anyone complain about it.
But there’s another possible obstacle to constructing a notebook chassis from Liquidmetal, and this one relates to how the material handles heat. The datasheet lists the thermal conductivity of the Liquidmetal as 6 Wm-1K-1, which makes it a far poorer conductor of heat than aluminum, which has a thermal conductivity of around 35 Wm-1K-1.
What this means is that Apple would need to redesign the cooling system of the MacBook Pro to take into account the fact that a Liquidmetal shell would be far poorer at dissipating the heat generated by the system than the current aluminum shell. However, buried on Liquidmetal Technologies website, a reference signals a way to tailor the material for specific thermal and electrical conductivity, so there may be possible to re-engineer the material to overcome this problem.
I like the idea of a Liquidmetal MacBook Pro — or for that matter any portable — more than I do the idea of making the back of an iPhone out of the material. The first reason is production. Casting is normally a much quicker process machining parts, and this gives the Liquidmetal chassis an advantage over how Apple currently manufactures parts for portable systems.
Another reason for switching from aluminum to Liquidmetal is that portables have to deal with countless bumps, scratches and abrasion on a daily basis. Liquidmetal would certainly offer a system far greater protection than aluminum does, and keep the hardware looking better for a lot longer.
Summary: The wife of an active-duty soldier learned of his death, not through the military’s very carefully thought-out death-notification procedure, but over Facebook.
A few days ago, we became aware of a very sad story. The wife of an active-duty soldier learned of his death, not through the military’s very carefully thought-out death-notification procedure, but over Facebook.
Death is a fact of life in the military, as it is in other very dangerous jobs, like police work or fire fighting. All of these organizations have developed a notification procedure that needs to accomplish a number of goals.
First, it needs to communicate the news in a respectful manner, in keeping with the magnitude of the notification. Next, it provides people on-hand for those crucial first minutes when a family learns of a loved one’s loss, in order to both keep the situation under control and safeguard other family members. Third, it’s designed to create a memory, so when family members think back over the years, their impression is one that, while deeply sad, is also one of dignity.
When this soldier’s wife learned about her husband’s death over Facebook, she had to experience it in a completely uncontrolled environment. A fellow soldier, also serving in Afghanistan, informed the wife directly, via a Facebook instant message and then a voice conversation. About two hours later, the military notification team arrived at the family’s home.
ZDNet’s Friending Facebook columnist Emil Protalinski and I debated whether we should even cover this story, because it was yet another sensationalistic Facebook story.
We eventually decided we’d each cover it according to our “beat” — he’d cover it as a Facebook story and I’d cover it as a government story. Here’s Emil’s piece, which provides details on the actual situation, which I won’t be discussing.
On one hand, it’s another sensationalistic story. On the other hand, it’s part of the changing world that’s Facebook, social media, and the military.
I originally chose not to write this on Gov because I know families are thrilled to have access to their loved-one soldiers via social media. I started off by thinking I’d have to say that this is another reason to block social media from the warfront — and I just didn’t want to say that in this context.
Facebook is changing everything, including death notifications.
The military has a very solemn, dignified way of notifying next-to-kin, but they need the time to make that happen — even if only the travel time to the spouse or loved one for the notification team. But Facebook is instant, so there’s no way for DoD to have responded faster. It’s the curse of openness vs. propriety.
There was a time, of course, when soldiers could only talk to home via snail mail letters (censored, of course) and the rare phone call. While this was hard on families and those serving, it did manage to help preserve operational security.
But as the global Internet has proliferated, even into war zones, families are able to stay more connected to their loved ones over IM, Skype, email, and the various social networks. OpSec was still observed in the most mission-critical cases, but otherwise, Internet family communications made for happier soldiers and happier families, especially in recent times, as tours of duty have been extended and extended again.
American soldiers are among the most disciplined and well-trained professionals in the world. Most of them, when instructed on a policy or procedure, can be counted on following that policy or procedure. After all, we trust them with billions of dollars of gear and really dangerous weapons, so we certainly should be able to trust them to follow orders.
Those orders extend to family communications.
Soldiers know what they can and can’t tell their families. Many soldiers talk to their families regularly, but sometimes the folks back home don’t know where in the world their loved one is deployed. That’s because our troops know what they can say, and when to keep quiet — even when it comes to family.
In this recent Fort Carson case, something went wrong. At this point, it’s not clear if the soldier who told the wife about her husband’s death had been properly instructed in how to handle that situation. If the woman in the husband’s platoon violated standing orders about death notification and decided to notify the wife herself, then she’ll be subject to possible court martial procedures.
So this brings us back to the original question: should we allow social network and Internet access for actively serving military personnel? A corollary to that is whether an incident like this is justification to cut off social network and Internet access for our serving troops?
My answer, carefully thought out, is “yes” and “no”. Yes, we should allow social network and Internet access for our troops, and no, this incident does not justify cutting our troops off from their families.
The reason is simple: trust. Fundamentally, the entire military structure of the United States of America runs on one thing: trust. We train and we trust. If we can’t trust our troops to know right and wrong when it comes to what to say when talking to home, then we can’t trust our troops to know right and wrong in far more dire situations.
And we must trust, for to have a military without trust is to merely have armed chaos. Sure, from time-to-time things go wrong. Some soldiers misinterpret training messages, friendly fire kills in the fog of war, some troops suffer under psychological trauma that results in trouble of varying degrees.
Even so, we must trust our troops. Our military has long turned mistakes into opportunities for additional training, and this Facebook incident is one of those areas where additional training may be needed.
The fact is, while our soldiers are the best in the world, they’ve also been fighting this war for a long time, stop-lossed over and over. Every opportunity we can give them to keep in touch with their families will help them during their long terms of duty.
Our condolences go out to the family of Staff Sgt. Christopher Brown. He had served twice in Iraq and was on his second deployment to Afghanistan. This time, he had been in-country for only a week before he was killed. He was the recipient of a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart and an Army Commendation Medal.
Summary: Ever since a hacker was arrested for stealing 10,000 database records from the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), the abortion clinic is now seeing thousands of copycat hacking attempts.
Last month, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), Britain’s largest abortion provider, saw 10,000 database records stolen by 27-year-old hacker James Jeffery, who was thankfully arrested the day he planned to release the data. Last week, Jeffery was sentenced to 32 months in jail. Unfortunately, the story isn’t over for BPAS, as the site is now experiencing the wrath of copycat hackers.
More specifically, in the five weeks since the hacker’s arrest, over 2,500 attempts have been made to hack into BPAS’s systems. The good news is that BPAS says all the hacking attempts were unsuccessful, the attacks were low-level, and patients’ details remain secure (no medical records are kept on the site).
“The police have been extremely supportive of BPAS but there has been no need to engage their services in these low level incidents which have caused no disruption nor compromised us or the safety of women’s data,” Clare Murphy, director of external affairs at the abortion provider, told CBS News. She also said there was “no evidence to suggest that this was an anti-abortion attack.”
Jeffery was sentenced to two years and eight months in jail after admitting he defaced the website and stole around 10,000 database records containing the personal details (names, user names, e-mail addresses, and phone numbers) of women who had registered with BPAS online. His motivation was a disagreement with his sister’s choice to abort her pregnancy.
Jeffery pleaded guilty to two charges under the Computer Misuse Act. A defense lawyer said he regretted his actions, and Jeffrey reportedly wrote an apology to BPAS, in which he suggested ways the organization could improve its security infrastructure. The clinic said it never received the letter.
BPAS, which sees about 55,000 women a year in its 40 clinics and other centers across the U.K., provides females with information and a forum to enquire about abortion, contraception, sexually-transmitted infection testing, sterilisation, and other fertility-related matters. The organization’s stated purpose is to support “reproductive choice by advocating and providing high quality, affordable services to prevent or end unwanted pregnancies with contraception or by abortion.”
Summary: Anonymous has hacked and executed Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks against official and fan-created Formula 1 websites. The group is protesting the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Bahrain.
The attack comes less than two weeks after Anonymous hacked three UK government websitesover what it called the country’s “draconian surveillance proposals” and “derogation of civil rights.” While writing this article, I noticed Anonymous today is also trying to take down gchq.gov.uk. Okay, now back to Formula 1.
This time, Anonymous blamed the controversial hosting of the Formula 1 Grand Prix on Sunday in Bahrain, where protests are still taking place. The group sent out a press release the day before in regards to Operation Bahrain, posted on AnonPaste. In a second AnonPaste post, the group called for its supporters to telephone bomb and e-mail bomb Formula 1 executives.
As you can see in the screenshot above, the group posted a message as part of the website’s defacement. It starts by saying the people of Bahrain have struggled against the oppressive regime of King Hamad bin Al Khalifa for over a year:
For over one year the people of Bahrain have struggled against the oppressive regime of King Hamad bin Al Khalifa. They have been murdered in the streets, run over with vehicles, beaten, tortured, tear gassed, kidnapped by police, had their businesses vandalised by police, and have tear gas thrown in to their homes on a nightly basis.
The group argued that everyone knows about the poor situation in Bahrain, and Formula 1 has no excuse for continuing to host its event:
Still the regmine persists to deny any meaningful reform and continues to use brutal and violent tactics to oppress the popular calls for reformation. Not only is the Human Rights situation in Bahrain tragic, it becomes more drastic with each passing day. For these reasons the F1 Grand Prix in Bahrain should be strongly opposed. The Al Khalifa regime stands to profit heavily off the race and has promised to use live ammunition against protestors in preparation. They have already begun issuing collective punishment to entire villages for protests and have promised further retribution “to keep order” for the F1 events in Bahrain. The Formula 1 racing authority was well-aware of the Human Rights situation in Bahrain and still chose to contribute to the regime’s oppression of civilians and will be punished.
Lastly, Anonymous made requests to the Bahrain government:
We demand the immediate release of human rights worker Abudlhadi Alkhawaja who has spent over 70 day son hunger strike. He has committed no crimes and is being punished by the regime for advocating people’s basic human rights. Free him and all other political prisoners in Bahrain. End torture. Deport all mercenary police and stop the use of tear gas against civilians.
Abdulhadi al-Khawaja started a hunger strike in his prison cell to protest the life sentence he received from a military tribunal in June 2011. He stopped drinking water on Thursday and called a lawyer to write his will. His daughter, Zainab, yesterday sent out the following messages onTwitter:
Urgent: My father called now, he asked us to try and get him an urgent visit by his lawyer to write his will #bahrain
He said, if they won’t allow the lawyer to see him, he has three things he would like everyone to know #bahrain
1st: he is completely convinced in what he is doing, and that he has chosen this path & wud choose it again if time goes back #bahrain
2nd: he asks that nobody attempts to go on a similar strike til death #bahrain
Finally my father said “if I die, in the next 24 hrs, I ask the ppl to continue on path of peaceful resistance…” #bahrain
Speaking of Twitter, here are the relevant tweets from Anonymous in regards to the Formula 1 attack, via the Anon_Central account, which has over 123,000 followers:
#OpBahrain Tango Down: http://www.formula1.com | Press Release - http://bit.ly/HQL0ZP #Anonymous
#OpBarain: Tango Down: http://live-timing.formula1.com/ | Press Release - http://bit.ly/HQL0ZP #Anonymous | #Formula1 #Bahrain
Message to @fia from #Bahrain freedom fighters & across the globe: #Stop supporting murders! #Formula1 http://pic.twitter.com/8uY5qZQO via @TBP_Stun
#OpBahrain: Tango down: http://www.totalf1.com | Press Release - http://bit.ly/HQL0ZP | #Anonymous
#OpBahrain | TARGET: http://www.formula1.com | Web Hive - http://plf2011.eu.pn/OpBahrainWebHive.html | Press Release - http://bit.ly/HQL0ZP | #Anonymous #Bahrain
#OpBahrain: #USA: don’t let #Abdulhadi al-Khawaja die! Sign the #petition here http://www.avaaz.org/en/save_alkhawaja/ #Bahrain #Formula1
#OpBahrain: More tango downs: http://www.f1officialpartners.com, http://www.f1sponsor.net | Stop #Formula1 #F1 | #Bahrain #Anonymous
Formula 1 is just one of many targets as part of Operation Bahrain. You can expect more attacks in the days to come.