lundi 29 février 2016

Microsoft releases Windows 10 IoT Core for Raspberry Pi 3 -- can it displace Linux on Pi?

Raspberry Pi 3

The ARM-powered Raspberry Pi computers have a been a godsend to tinkerers, students, HTPC enthusiasts, and more. The inexpensive devices have proven quite useful for many projects, and continue to push the envelope on what can be achieved for little money. The $5 Raspberry Pi Zero, while very limited, is quite the feat of engineering.

For the most part, however, Raspberry Pi computers have been largely Linux affairs. While open source technologies shine on these devices, Microsoft has been embracing the hardware since this time last year with its Windows 10 IoT Core operating system. Earlier today, the newest revision of the hardware, Raspberry Pi 3, was announced. If you are a Windows fan, you may want to pick one up, as Microsoft announces a Preview of Windows 10 IoT core for the latest Pi. Can Microsoft's OS beat out Linux for Raspberry Pi 3 dominance?

"This morning, the Raspberry Pi Foundation announced availability of their new board -- the Raspberry Pi 3. We're excited to have Windows 10 support the new board via a new Windows 10 IoT Core Insider Preview update available for download today. The new Raspberry Pi 3 board is available now in the Microsoft Store online", says Billy Anders, Director of Program Management, Windows IoT.

Anders further says, "the new Raspberry Pi 3 is faster, more powerful and the first out of the box IoT ready Raspberry Pi. We’re thrilled to deliver the power of Windows 10 on the new board and your feedback continues to help us improve Windows 10 IoT Core".

You can see an example project of Windows 10 IoT Core running on the new Raspberry Pi 3 below.

Will Windows 10 IoT Core displace the popularity of Linux-based operating systems on the Raspberry Pi 3? Probably not. The demo seen above is definitely cool, but the Linux kernel is more appropriate for the lower-end hardware.

READ MORE: Raspberry Pi 3 launches! 10x faster, 64-bit Quad-Core CPU, built in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

Windows 10, even in this minimal state, cannot compete with open source software. The Linux kernel is mature and robust, while Windows 10 IoT Core is still young and unproven. It remains to been if developers will even embrace this variant of Windows 10.

Click to view slideshow.

Surprisingly, Microsoft is not only supporting the Raspberry Pi 3, but it is also becoming a sales partner. That's right folks, the Microsoft Store is selling the latest Pi, paired with a microSD card for $50. Unfortunately, this package will not ship until March 31.

If you are ready to download the Windows 10 IoT Core Technical Preview image for Raspberry Pi 3, you can get it here. Will you try it? Tell me in the comments.

More than half of UK businesses will embrace flexible and remote working in 2017

laptop woman

Next year will be the tipping point for flexible and remote working in the UK, with more than 50 percent of businesses adopting it by the end of next year. That number will grow even more, to 70 percent, by the time we get to 2020.

Those are the results of a new survey produced by Lancaster University’s Work Foundation, and commissioned by Citrix. The survey, entitled Working anywhere: A winning formula for good work?, asked 500 employees at a managerial level about the pros and cons of flexible working.

So what are the pros? The study highlights four reasons why companies should implement flexible working: increased productivity, improved employee wellbeing, talent attraction and retention and reduction in accommodation costs.

So why is flexible working, if it’s so good, not yet already at 90 percent, at least? The report says there are cultural barriers that need addressing: 37 percent of managers believe this means longer hours, while 22 percent say they feel disconnected from the team. An additional 28 percent felt it blocked them from overseeing other people’s work. A quarter (24 percent) also said all work is carried out in company premises.

That’s not all, though -- 75 percent believe this will put more strain on the HR department, 84 percent say it will require changes to performance management, and 82 percent think this will require changes to employment terms and conditions.

The study says implementing flexible working requires three key commitments: careful planning, leadership and a new approach.

The full report can be found on this link.

Published under license from, a Net Communities Ltd Publication. All rights reserved.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock/Rawpixel

Most consumers don't like to be tracked, but few are doing something about it


Most users know their online activity is being tracked. They’re not OK with it, yet most of them do nothing about it. Those are the general conclusions of a new quiz entitled Are you cyber savvy?, made by Kaspersky Lab.

The security firm says consumers don’t know how to protect their privacy online.

The majority of users (79 percent) don’t like being tracked, but 41 percent do nothing about it. Nine percent didn’t even know they were being tracked.

Twenty-seven percent use their browser’s privacy mode, and 11 percent use a special plug in, Kaspersky Lab says, before giving tips on how to stay safe online:

  • Disable auto add-on installation. Block suspicious websites and pop-ups, make SSL certificate checks compulsory and block third party cookies.
  • A lot of software (especially freeware) come bundled with other software. That other software is sometimes called bloatware and basically installs toolbars, plugins and extensions that often collect user data.
  • Use HTTPS sites whenever you can. Dedicate a specific browser for primary online services.
  • Use VPN traffic encryption
  • Use private features offered in various security programs and browsers.

David Emm, principal security researcher at Kaspersky Lab says, "Consumers are uncomfortable with the fact that their online activities are being tracked. And who can blame them? With tracking data, it’s possible for advertisers, or even malicious third parties, to peer into the life of a person -- from where they go, to the sites they browse. However, the crux of the problem is that many users simply aren’t cyber-savvy enough when it comes to protecting themselves from online tracking. They may be concerned, but do nothing about it. Even worse, they may not understand that they are putting their privacy at risk at all".

Published under license from, a Net Communities Ltd Publication. All rights reserved.

Photo credit: Roobcio / Shutterstock

Apple takes its FBI fight to Congress -- read the company's powerful opening statement


As you know, the FBI wants Apple to help unlock an iPhone linked to one of the San Bernardino shooters. Apple is resisting the request, and tomorrow will testify at a Congressional encryption hearing.

Apple’s General Counsel, Bruce Sewell, will make the company’s case before the house Judiciary Committee and his opening statement was sent to Apple employees earlier today. It’s an interesting read:

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It's my pleasure to appear before you and the Committee today on behalf of Apple. We appreciate your invitation and the opportunity to be part of the discussion on this important issue which centers on the civil liberties at the foundation of our country.

I want to repeat something we have said since the beginning -- that the victims and families of the San Bernardino attacks have our deepest sympathies and we strongly agree that justice should be served. Apple has no sympathy for terrorists.

We have the utmost respect for law enforcement and share their goal of creating a safer world. We have a team of dedicated professionals that are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year to assist law enforcement. When the FBI came to us in the immediate aftermath of the San Bernardino attacks, we gave all the information we had related to their investigation. And we went beyond that by making Apple engineers available to advise them on a number of additional investigative options.

But we now find ourselves at the center of an extraordinary circumstance. The FBI has asked a Court to order us to give them something we don't have. To create an operating system that does not exist -- because it would be too dangerous. They are asking for a backdoor into the iPhone -- specifically to build a software tool that can break the encryption system which protects personal information on every iPhone.

As we have told them -- and as we have told the American public -- building that software tool would not affect just one iPhone. It would weaken the security for all of them. In fact, just last week Director Comey agreed that the FBI would likely use this precedent in other cases involving other phones. District Attorney Vance has also said he would absolutely plan to use this on over 175 phones. We can all agree this is not about access to just one iPhone.

The FBI is asking Apple to weaken the security of our products. Hackers and cyber criminals could use this to wreak havoc on our privacy and personal safety. It would set a dangerous precedent for government intrusion on the privacy and safety of its citizens.

Hundreds of millions of law-abiding people trust Apple's products with the most intimate details of their daily lives – photos, private conversations, health data, financial accounts, and information about the user's location as well as the location of their friends and families. Some of you might have an iPhone in your pocket right now, and if you think about it, there's probably more information stored on that iPhone than a thief could steal by breaking into your house. The only way we know to protect that data is through strong encryption.

Every day, over a trillion transactions occur safely over the Internet as a result of encrypted communications. These range from online banking and credit card transactions to the exchange of healthcare records, ideas that will change the world for the better, and communications between loved ones. The US government has spent tens of millions of dollars through the Open Technology Fund and other US government programs to fund strong encryption. The Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technology, convened by President Obama, urged the US government to fully support and not in any way subvert, undermine, weaken, or make vulnerable generally available commercial software.

Encryption is a good thing, a necessary thing. We have been using it in our products for over a decade. As attacks on our customers' data become increasingly sophisticated, the tools we use to defend against them must get stronger too. Weakening encryption will only hurt consumers and other well-meaning users who rely on companies like Apple to protect their personal information.

Today's hearing is titled Balancing Americans' Security and Privacy. We believe we can, and we must, have both. Protecting our data with encryption and other methods preserves our privacy and it keeps people safe.

The American people deserve an honest conversation around the important questions stemming from the FBI's current demand:

Do we want to put a limit on the technology that protects our data, and therefore our privacy and our safety, in the face of increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks? Should the FBI be allowed to stop Apple, or any company, from offering the American people the safest and most secure product it can make?

Should the FBI have the right to compel a company to produce a product it doesn't already make, to the FBI's exact specifications and for the FBI's use?

We believe that each of these questions deserves a healthy discussion, and any decision should be made after a thoughtful and honest consideration of the facts.

Most importantly, the decisions should be made by you and your colleagues as representatives of the people, rather than through a warrant request based on a 220 year- old-statute.

At Apple, we are ready to have this conversation. The feedback and support we're hearing indicate to us that the American people are ready, too.

We feel strongly that our customers, their families, their friends and their neighbors will be better protected from thieves and terrorists if we can offer the very best protections for their data. And at the same time, the freedoms and liberties we all cherish will be more secure.

Thank you for your time. I look forward to answering your questions.

The tl;dr version: encryption is a necessary thing, the FBI is asking Apple to weaken the security of its products and that will set a dangerous precedent for government intrusion on the privacy and safety of its citizens.

Photo credit: TK Kurikawa / Shutterstock

Ransomware is the biggest threat to Android users in UK


Ransomware was the biggest threat to Android users in the UK last year, a new report by security company Bitdefender says.

Even though it’s not as dangerous or prolific as its Windows counterpart, ransomware still played a major role in the overall mobile security landscape for last year.

Here are the numbers: In Q3 2015, ransomware on Android accounted for 28 percent of all malware. For Q4, that number was at 19 percent. Compared to other types of malware, ransomware was 14 percent more frequent in Q3 and seven percent in Q4.

Android.Trojan.Slocker accounted for 22 percent of Android malware threats in the UK in the latter half of the year, the report says, topping the charts in the UK, Germany and Australia.

"Due to the popularity of Android devices, malware developers will continue to write code specifically targeting them. Android malware is not only a lucrative business for hackers but also a gateway for other malicious actions", states Catalin Cosoi, chief security strategist at Bitdefender.

"Users must avoid installing applications from unofficial vendors, instead only using those found on trusted marketplaces. Non-reputable apps have a high chance of containing malware such as ransomware or data-stealing Trojans, resulting in significant financial or data loss".

Looking at the global scale, ransomware is not that big of a threat on Android -- it’s much more dangerous on Windows. On Android, it accounts for four percent of all malware reported in the second half of the year.

Bitdefender suggests that the UK is a big target as ransomware seems to have a high success rate on the Island -- 44 percent have apparently paid to get their devices unlocked.

The report doesn’t say how much money victims have to pay, but previous reports on ransomware suggest it’s anywhere between $12 and $300, usually paid in Bitcoin.

Published under license from, a Net Communities Ltd Publication. All rights reserved.

Photo credit: Ton Snoei / Shutterstock

Kill the password! Yahoo Account Key rolls out to more apps


There have been a lot of attempts to kill the password and replace it with something more secure and easier to use. Biometric measures such as fingerprint and iris readers are increasingly common, but Yahoo is on a mission of its own with Yahoo Account Key.

Recognizing that "passwords suck", Yahoo launched the product back in October and since then there have been a few changes and additions. It's a simple system that uses your mobile as your access key and it's now available in more apps than ever.

Yahoo Account Key came about in response to the fact that passwords are not only all too easily hacked, but also very easily forgotten. It builds on the idea of 2FA and reduces the sign-in process to a simple tap in an app. Yahoo says that Yahoo Account Key is now available on more than 50 million devices. There are a couple of key improvements to Yahoo Account Key that the company highlights today:

Available Anywhere: You can use Account Key in a majority of Yahoo apps, including Yahoo Finance, Fantasy, Mail, Messenger, and Sports for iOS and Android.

Do Not Disturb: We've launched a dashboard where you can control the devices or apps that receive Account Key push notifications. For example, if you have an iPad on the kitchen table, you can turn off sign-in notifications on that device so your kids aren’t disturbed while doing their homework.

This is not the end of Yahoo's battle against the password. We're promised that there are more developmentand changes on the horizon.

Photo credit: April909 / Shutterstock

Amazon unveils Wi-Fi-enabled Brita Infinity Smart Water Pitcher with Dash Replenishment


For many people, walking around with a water bottle all day is a way of life. Not only is it reassuring that your thirst can always be quenched, but it is very healthy too. Once you get away from all of the sugar-filled drinks, and even worse, the artificially sweetened beverages, you may feel much healthier.

Unfortunately, water bottles can be very bad for the environment. While some can be recycled, a good amount of them can end up in landfills. Not to mention, the process of making the plastic can have a large carbon footprint. A good solution is opting for an in-home water filter and carrying reusable bottles. Today, Amazon announces a very high-tech filtration pitcher -- the Wi-Fi-enabled Brita Infinity. Yes, it connects to the Internet. Why? To re-order filters through Amazon Dash, of course!

"The new Wi-Fi-enabled Brita Infinity pitcher is equipped with a built-in counter that tracks the amount of water that passes through the pitcher’s filter. The pitcher itself will automatically order a new filter through Amazon Dash Replenishment when the old filter nears its capacity. This new connected pitcher with Amazon Dash Replenishment gives Brita owners exactly what they want -- a new Brita filter on their doorstep at the time they need it", says Amazon.

The online retailer further says, "when people buy the new Brita Infinity pitcher, they simply need to register on, connect the pitcher to their home network and sign up for Amazon Dash Replenishment using their Amazon account. Then, the pitcher connects with the service to ensure automatic replacement filter orders are made when the filter nears its capacity -- roughly 40 gallons of water. While the service is automatic, the person stays in control and can easily manage their orders and deliveries online at any time".


While some people will decry the use of a "smart" water pitcher being yet another connected device to spy on consumers, this is actually quite cool and convenient. By empowering the consumer to enable automatic filter deliveries, they can be assured of always having clean drinking water. It is one less thing for consumers to worry about.



This BPA-free pitcher is surprisingly affordable too, at a very competitive $45. You can purchase this neat product here. Even the cost of replacement filters -- rates for 40 gallons or 2 months -- is affordable, at $5.99 each.

Will you buy this super-cool water filtration pitcher from Brita? Tell me in the comments.

Malware spreading through cloud apps

Cloud Virus Malware

There’s a good chance the cloud apps you use at work are laced with malware. Those are the findings of the latest report by cloud access security broker Netskope. In its February 2016 Netskope Cloud Report, the company says the usage of cloud apps in enterprises has never been this high -- ever.

In Q4 of 2015, employees used on average 769 different cloud apps, representing a 26.5 percent increase from the previous report. But (there’s always a but) -- 4.1 percent of enterprises have sanctioned malware-infected cloud apps.

"Considering that unsanctioned apps represent the majority of an enterprise’s total cloud app footprint (at 95 percent), report findings indicate IT may have an even larger scope of cloud app-based malware in enterprises than initially realized", it says in the report.

Employees can spread malware through sync and share mechanisms, without actually knowing. As many people use different cloud apps to collaborate and work, malware can rapidly spread throughout an organization.

"Employees are adopting cloud apps at an unprecedented rate, and organizations must prepare for the increasing security risks and challenges associated with the changing workplace", said Sanjay Beri, co-founder and CEO, Netskope. "Now more than ever, it’s imperative that organizations have complete visibility into and real-time actionable control over their cloud app usage to better monitor and understand trends and vulnerabilities. It’s only with this knowledge that IT can begin to protect against threats lurking in cloud apps, such as malware".

The report also suggests that Microsoft’s cloud apps are eclipsing those of Google, as well as that enterprise cloud apps aren’t prepared for the EU GDPR (general data protection regulation), something we’ve covered before.

Published under license from, a Net Communities Ltd Publication. All rights reserved.

Photo Credit: Blue Island/Shutterstock

Developers earn more on Windows Phone than Android or iOS

mobile money

Windows Phone is nowhere near as popular as Android or iOS, having a market share of just over one percent, but it appears to be far more lucrative for developers than either of the two major platforms. In fact, developers who publish apps in Windows Store can expect to earn twice as much compared to those who create Android titles.

On average, a Windows Phone developer earns $11,400 per month, which equates to $136,800 per year. In contrast, an iOS developer has to make do with $8,100 per month, or $97,200 per year, while an Android developer makes $4,900 per month, or $58,800 per year.

The figures certainly make Windows Phone look much more appealing than developers lead us to believe. The smartphone operating system does not always get the same treatment as Android and iOS when it comes to new app releases, or the same level of support for existing titles. In fact, there is quite a large gap between it and Android and iOS, and it seems like it will never truly go away until the platform gains more ground in the consumer market.

Particularly interesting is that nearly half -- 49 percent, to be exact -- of Windows Phone developers take home at least $10,000 per month, or $120,000 per year. This means that there is no small group of developers that earn most of the revenue generated on the platform, which indicates that the average developer has a good chance at earning a decent living from Windows Phone app development.

Europe is actually the region where Windows Phone development is most popular, with 34 percent of developers on the old continent writing apps for the platform, compared to half as many in US and APAC. And, 28 percent of developers are considering an increase in their Windows Phone development efforts as opposed to 16 percent who expect the opposite.

The figures come from an InMobi survey, which polled over 1,000 developers. Over half of them are based in the APAC (Asia-Pacific) region, so the findings may not accurately reflect the state of affairs in US or Europe. Nearly half of developers -- 47 percent -- are working alone.

Are These Figures too Good to be True?

I have talked to a few Windows Phone developers over the years, including some high-profile ones that are responsible for very popular titles like Nextgen Reader. While revenue questions have not always received a straight answer, it is implied that earnings are generally not as high as on Android or iOS.

Of course, the developers that I have talked to likely do not represent the entire Windows Phone developer scene, but I also have serious doubts over whether InMobi's findings are accurate. After all, if revenue is this high, there would be more developers interested in the platform. Also, InMobi is an ad network, so its findings may be skewed towards its own developer customers.

Another problem is that, unlike with Android and iOS, there are few other surveys or reports that include Windows Phone into the mix, and none that is recent. Google and Apple also frequently share updates on developer revenue, while Microsoft prefers to keep such things private.

Nonetheless, even if revenue from Windows Phone apps turns out to be less in reality, a more accurate figure would still make the platform look good in the eyes of developers. Not to mention that competition on the platform is nowhere near as heated as on Android and iOS.

Image Credit: nopporn / Shutterstock

Microsoft announces HoloLens Development Edition, available for pre-order now


HoloLens is unquestionably one of the most exciting pieces of hardware being developed by Microsoft at the moment. The augmented reality system, or "untethered holographic computer" as the software giant refers to it, was first announced a year ago, but since then there’s been no word on when we can actually expect to see it.

Today, however, Microsoft announces a Development Edition which is now open for pre-orders, with shipping starting on March 30. This is the first step towards a consumer version.

The Windows 10 powered device is fully self-contained, and, Microsoft says, is "the only device that enables holographic computing natively with no markers, no external cameras, no wires, no phone required, and no connection to a PC needed".

Developers who purchase HoloLens will have access to hundreds of UWP apps through the Windows Store and also to a showcase of holographic app experiences designed to demonstrate what the device can do.

Alex Kipman, Technical Fellow -- Operating System Group at Microsoft, says

HoloLens is an amazing Windows 10 device, and the APIs responsible for holographic computing are already available in Windows 10. Starting today, developers will have access to documentation, and to the developer community, that will help them create amazing experiences. Developers should go to for guides and detailed tutorials. Additional development tools that include Visual Studio projects and a HoloLens emulator will be released when HoloLens devices start shipping to customers on March 30. The emulator will allow developers to test holographic apps on their PC without a physical HoloLens and comes with a HoloLens development toolset -- to help developers who haven’t yet received their devices get started right away.

For now the HoloLens Development Edition will only be available to developers in the US and Canada. If you're interested in pre-ordering one, it will set you back $3000.


How to activate Windows Defender Offline in Windows 10

robot security shield

Windows Defender, Windows 10’s built in antivirus tool, will keep your PC safe from numerous threats, but it’s not on a par with dedicated third-party anti-malware solutions.

Microsoft is working to make it more useful however, including adding offline capabilities that will allow you to run a system scan at bootup, and without an internet connection. That will make the tool much better at detecting and removing malicious software. Windows Defender Offline is not available to all at the moment, but you can still try it out.

Windows Defender Offline was originally introduced in 2011, and last updated in 2012, but Microsoft has added it to Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 14271 for Fast ring insiders.

If you’re running the latest build you can activate Windows Defender Offline by following these steps:

  • Save your work and close any open applications.
  • Click Start and launch Settings.
  • Go to Update and security and click Windows Defender.
  • Scroll down until you see Windows Defender Offline.
  • Click the Scan Offline button.

After a countdown (which you can’t stop), your system will restart and Windows Defender will run a scan upon reboot. Microsoft says the process will take around 15 minutes to complete.

Windows defender offline win10

While I still wouldn't entirely trust my PC security to Windows Defender, an offline scanning mode is definitely a very welcome addition.

You can also download a version of Windows Defender Offline from here.

Photo Credit: Vladru/Shutterstock

IT security executives tell boards what they want to hear

executive lawyer boardroom

A new report reveals that just four out of 10 IT and security executives feel the information they provide to the board of directors is actionable and that they often tell them what they want to hear.

The report from threat intelligence company Bay Dynamics also shows that only 39 percent believe they are getting the help they need from the board to address cyber security threats.

Based on a study conducted by Osterman Research among IT and security executives in 136 US companies, the report shows manual reporting methods still dominate. Manually compiled spreadsheets are used to report data to the board by 81 percent, a process which can lead to incorrect reporting and oversight of important data, whether due to intentional manipulation or to human error.

Boards have a strong preference for qualitative information, according to 53 percent of respondents, with 38 percent saying their boards prefer quantitative information.

"The report reveals that both the board and security professionals are not doing their jobs when it comes to security reporting," says Feris Rifai, co-founder and CEO at Bay Dynamics. "The board isn't holding IT and security executives accountable for providing accurate, traceable and actionable information and security executives are failing to report information that is accurate, traceable and actionable. Both parties must do better if they want to make the right decisions that minimize their cyber risk".

Among other findings are that the most common type of information reported about cyber security issues is known vulnerabilities within the organizational systems, followed by recommendations on cyber security program improvements and specific details on data loss incidents. Information about the cost of cyber security programs and details about expenditures on specific projects or controls are not as commonly reported.

The most common criteria used to determine which type of intrusion to report is the type of data affected -- cited by 84 percent of respondents. This includes whether the data breached or attacked was sensitive or confidential, such as customers’ financial data or personal information, or corporate financial data.

"Security is now everyone's problem -- from the IT team to the C-suite and the boardroom. As a result, reporting the right type of information with the right context, in addition to making it actionable, has never been more critical," says Michael Osterman, Principal Analyst at Osterman Research. "It is imperative that security executives reconsider how they’re getting their information, the type of information they're reporting, and how they’re reporting it, so that the board can effectively take action to make smart security decisions".

The full report is available to download from the Bay Dynamics website.

Photo Credit: EmiliaUngur/Shutterstock