This week Facebookers unearthed a Zuckasaurus, eBayers learned their info was exposed, Apple fans spread iOS 8 rumors, and a flock of new releases landed on the Internet. Read on for our recap, and to get the latest product reviews and updates from our editors in your inbox, subscribe to our weekly newsletters.
On Thursday Facebook announced two new privacy features. First, the default setting for new users will be to share posts with friends only. Current users can, of course, make that same choice in the Settings menu. Second, in the next few weeks, Facebook will introduce a Privacy Checkup tool to review your privacy selections. Privacy Checkup has a mascot: a blue cartoon dinosaur that NYT's Nick Bilton calls the Zuckasaurus. (A million years old isn't cool. You know what's cool? A quarter of a billion years.)
eBay passwords are both hashed and salted (which sounds delicious). Yet an attack in February and March -- not announced 'til this week -- accessed the passwords and personal information of 110 million eBay users. If you haven't changed your eBay password yet, do that pronto. While the company says there's no sign financial information was compromised, eBay took heat this week for initially burying news of the breach on its website.
The FBI and law enforcement in 19 countries arrested alleged creators, sellers, and users of Blackshades, a remote-administration tool that put half a million computers at the mercy of hackers. So far more than 90 people have been charged.
On Monday the Department of Justice indicted five Chinese military officers for electronic espionage, namely spearphishing Westinghouse, Alcoa, U.S. Steel, and other American firms. In other China news, on Tuesday the Chinese government banned Windows 8 from government computers, citing security concerns, and said there are plenty of made-in-China OSs to use instead.
While the Heartbleed vulnerability has cost a lot of businesses, password managers have surged in popularity, and at least one, Dashlane (Windows, Mac, iOS, Android), is cashing in with $22 million in Series B funding. Dashlane also released a study this week of top websites, claiming that 86% have substandard password security. Match.com had the lowest score; Apple, the best.
The Zero-Day Initiative says that Internet Explorer 8 -- the last version of IE that supports Windows XP -- has had a security flaw for the past 7 months. However, no hackers have been exploiting the flaw. IE 8 users should download Internet Explorer 11, switch to another browser until Microsoft releases a patch, or at least crank IE's Internet security zone settings up to high.
Apple has acknowledged the iMessage problem it's being sued over. People who switched from iPhone to Android have found that incoming text messages from iPhone users never arrive. Apple says it has fixed a server-side bug and has another bug fix to come. In the meantime, try one of these iMessage fixes.
Ars Technica reports that malware is targeting Microsoft's Silverlight, and such attacks may become even more common than those on Java. Make sure that you're running the most recent version of Silverlight (Windows, Mac), or see Microsoft's Silverlight page for more information.
Android users, we say again: Don't download any apps from a site you don't trust. Symantec reports a rise in activity from a powerful Trojan called iBanking. Once the malware infects a phone, it can intercept and send SMS messages, access contact info, record through the microphone, and disable removal.
Last Friday LifeLock removed LifeLock Wallet iOS and Android apps from stores and deleted users' stored info from servers. The company says it will restore the apps when it's confident they comply with payment-card security standards.
Could a $35 Raspberry Pi PC act as a firewall for communities in developing countries? MIT Technology Review reports on this low-cost firewall proposal from Zubair Nabi of IBM Research.
YouTube is said to be in talks to acquire game-streaming service Twitch (online, iOS, Android) for more than $1 billion. Meanwhile, the Daily Dot notes that you can already play a game on YouTube: Blades of Excalibur.
After getting rejected by Snapchat last year and killing its Poke app this month, Facebook is reportedly developing a new messaging app called Slingshot, which might be available as early as this month. According to Pew Research, 9 percent of cell phone owners use Snapchat, including one in four cell phone users aged 18 to 29.
A leaked presentation from Microsoft Research, since pulled down, appears to show prototypes for touch-based Office apps, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. Microsoft already has mobile apps for Office on iPad.
In 2010, the Kashmiri government banned text-messaging on prepaid phones, claiming it led to the spread of "misinformation." Now Quartz reports the texting ban has lifted, but most Kashmiri citizens already switched to WhatsApp (iOS, Android) -- indeed, more than 50 million people in India use the messaging app.
Whisper (iOS), the app for posting anonymous messages, now lets you search by location and category. The NYT's Nick Bilton says the app's recent redesign is meant to be more appealing to older people (as in, those over 20). Whisper says users view more than 6 billion messages per month.
At Wired, Gen X's favorite reformed Glasshole, Mat Honan, says anonymous apps are scary but one may rise above itself.
New releases, new features
Need to leak classified material, or just transmit any document securely and anonymously? Micah Lee, formerly staff technologist for the EFF and now tech analyst for the Intercept, which is publishing Edward Snowden's NSA documents, has developed OnionShare. The program lets you share a file anonymously, directly from your computer. You and the doc's receiver need Tor Browser (Windows, Mac, Linux).
Google launched Stories and Movies for Google+. When you back up your photos and videos to Google+, Stories culls the best, makes a movie of them, and lets you know when it's ready. The feature works now online and in Android, and the iOS app will add Stories soon.
Facebook got a little more annoying this week by introducing Ask buttons, so you can ask friends to reveal personal information they've probably hidden or decided not to complete, like their high school or relationship status or which TV shows they recommend. (Please feed this feature to the Zuckasaurus.) In better news, Facebook now lets restaurants add menus to their pages, which gives Yelp one less advantage.
Got a Chromebook? When you have a blank tab or Google search tab open in Chrome OS, you can now search by voice. First you must activate the feature in privacy settings.
Want an app that's part Google Docs, part collaborative whiteboard? Wired reports that file-sharing service Box now offers Box Notes, which lets multiple people edit a file simultaneously. You must have a Box account to use Box Notes, but you can get an account for free, and the feature will come to its mobile apps soon (iOS, Android).
Do you Shazam (iOS, Android) songs you can't identify? Facebook is adding similar audio recognition. When you enable the feature and start writing a status update, the app will listen to the TV show or song you're playing and will add the show's episode/season or the song's album/track and a 30-second song preview. The feature's coming soon to both Android and iOS in the US only. Marketing Land predicts Facebook will collect user data from the feature for future ad targeting.
Apple's WWDC starts in 10 days. Until the official announcements, we have photo speculation about what to expect from iOS 8.
Private-messaging apps have proven to be not so private -- witness SnapChat's tussle with the FTC. Wired reports that Briar, a new open-source project, aims to cut out messaging services completely, transmitting messages through peer-to-peer network. The app is in private beta, but you can sign up to get the release announcement.
In July Gmail will quit letting you add calendar invitations to email. Instead, you'll have to do the reverse: email an invitation from Google Calendar.
Samsung will retire Music Hub, its music-streaming service, on July 1.
There's an app for that? Srsly?
Chinese fur babies can now cavort on SmellMe, a social network for pets.
In August Adidas will release an app (for both iOS and Android) that will let you print Instagram photos on your shoes.
Throw cryptocurrency in the tip jar with Cheers, which lets you tip your favorite musicians with Bitcoin. The app is in private beta.
Mash up your home movies with footage from the Discovery Channel Digital Network on Magisto (iOS, Android). (If this means I can make my own "Godzilla" by mashing up dinosaur footage with video of my street, then I'm in.)