Categories
Windows

How to Use Virtual Desktops On Windows 11

Microsoft’s new operating system, Windows 11, is already available as a beta download. Also, the operating system is set to arrive at compatible PCs this fall. If you are using Windows 11 for a while, you might have noticed many new features like Snap Layouts, Virtual Desktops, etc.

In this article, we are going to talk about the Virtual Desktop feature of Windows 11. Actually, the feature was introduced in Windows 10, with the built-in Task View button on the taskbar.

Virtual Desktop feature is also seen on Linux operating system. If you don’t know, Virtual Desktop is basically a feature that lets you set up different desktop experiences and switch between them easily. This means you could make separate desktops for work, school, and personal use.

Step 1. To create a Virtual desktop, hover your mouse over the Task View button on the taskbar. A new menu will pop up. Next, you need to click on the ‘New Desktop’ option.

Step 2. This will create a new virtual desktop. You can now create a work environment in it. For example, here, I have two virtual desktops running different apps.

Step 3. Windows 11 also lets you rename a virtual desktop. For that, you need to right-click on the virtual desktop and select the ‘Rename‘ option.

Step 4. If you wish to move Windows between Virtual desktops, you need to click on the task view button and hover the cursor over the Window which you want to move. Next, right-click on the Window and select ‘Move to’ and then select the desktop.

Step 5. To close a Virtual desktop, you need to hover over the desktop you want to close and click on the ‘X’ button, as shown in the screenshot.

That’s it! You are done. This is how you can create and use Virtual Desktops on Windows 11.

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Android News

What Is AppFlash on Android and Do You Need It?

Device carriers and manufacturers have never quite understood users – we don’t like or need bloatware. Yet, Verizon decided all Android users needed AppFlash on their devices. It quietly appeared on existing devices in 2017 and later became preinstalled. All users want to know one thing: what is AppFlash, and is it really useful?

What Is AppFlash?

According to Verizon, AppFlash is a content discovery service. It’s designed to be an all-in-one app for finding everything you need to make life easier. From recommending apps and restaurants to movies and getting rides, all you have to do is ask. On the surface, it doesn’t really sound that bad. After all, Google works similarly when you’re signed in, and sometimes, even when you’re not signed in.

What Is Appflash On Android And Do You Need It Safe

One good feature is that the app is designed to automatically stream any content you need without having to download another app to do so if you need a specific app to view or stream content on AppFlash.

It comes preinstalled on Verizon’s Android devices. However, it won’t look like a traditional app. Instead, it works as a type of left homescreen. If it’s enabled, all you have to do is swipe left from your homescreen to view it. And yes, it takes the entire screen.

While the feature was first introduced in 2017, it wasn’t well received. Since so many users started looking for “what is appflash” along with how to remove it, Verizon stopped installing it on most devices. Verizon lists which devices are still supported, which helps you to know if you’re affected by this app or not. These only include certain Moto, ASUS, and LG devices.

Is It Safe?

The answer is yes and no. Much like any app that provides personalized recommendations on your phone, AppFlash collects user data as you use your device. This includes your location data, even when you’re not using the app. It’s not really any better or worse than other popular apps that track your app usage, location, and preferences.

What Is Appflash On Android And Do You Need It What

According to Verizon, “In newer versions of the app, when you choose to enable location, it will be collected even when the app is not in use.” If this leaves you feeling less than safe, you’re not alone. However, many apps that ask for location permission do the same thing, especially search engine and social media apps.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation originally called AppFlash spyware. The EFF recommends users read the privacy policy before enabling the app. Even if it’s not spyware, it’s definitely bloatware if you don’t want it. But, it’s one of the many bloatware apps that you can’t uninstall easily, though there are a few ways to possibly remove it completely.

The app is actually available to download from the Google Play Store, if your device is compatible. Most Android 10 and later devices aren’t compatible. As you can see, users aren’t exactly thrilled with it, giving it just 3.6 stars.

How to Enable and Disable AppFlash

What irked users originally was that the app was downloaded, installed, and enabled without users’ permission. Users were asked to quickly agree to the privacy policy just to see what was on their phones. Now it’s disabled by default on newer devices.

You can enable or disable it yourself at any time via your device’s settings. The exact steps may vary slightly based on your Android device and system.

Go to “Settings -> Display.”

What Is Appflash On Android And Do You Need It Display

Tap “Home screen.”

What Is Appflash On Android And Do You Need It Home

Choose “Left Home screen.”

What Is Appflash On Android And Do You Need It Left

Tap AppFlash to enable it. If you want to disable it, select another left home screen option or select None. Tap OK to save your changes.

What Is Appflash On Android And Do You Need It None

If you installed AppFlash yourself, you’ll have the option to uninstall it like any other Android app. If it’s preinstalled, it may not even be listed in your available apps. If it is, the only option is to disable it.

Alternatively, you might see an AppFlash slider instead of a Left Home Screen option. If so, turn the AppFlash slider to Off.

Dealing with AppFlash Crashes

Whether you like AppFlash or not, a common issue is crashing. Since the app pulls data from many other apps on your device to customize your experience, you might see an error message saying “AppFlash has crashed” on any number of installed apps. You don’t have to just put up with it though.

If AppFlash was installed without your permission, you can’t uninstall it without rooting your device. If you did install it, uninstalling it will prevent the crashing issue.

What Is Appflash On Android And Do You Need It Crashes

Most often, though, the issue is tied to Google Chrome and Android System WebView. Updating both of these apps fixes the crashing problem for most users. You can also try updating the app that’s giving you the error message.

Most apps like AppFlash give you a search box and allow you to follow topics you’re interested in. Based on how you use your device, results are more personalized. Simply signing in to your favorite search engine or browser gives you similar results. Any news, RSS feed reader, or content aggregation app brings you stories on the topics you love.

The more an app personalizes your experience based on use (especially when it sees what you do in other apps), the less private it is. The key is to mix convenience and privacy to get the experience you’re most comfortable with.

Categories
Windows Internet

How to Benchmark Your Windows PC

To fully understand your PC’s performance, you need to understand benchmarking and benchmarking software. This tutorial helps you do that by walking you through all you need to know to benchmark your PC and the benchmarks to start with.

What Are Benchmarks?

In this context, a benchmark is a fixed test (measure) of performance – whether of your entire PC or individual components. This measure of performance can be lined up to and compared with other PCs that have run the same benchmark, allowing you to see how your performance lines up compared to everyone else’s.

Is one of your components underperforming in comparison to what other people are scoring? A benchmark may reveal that discrepancy.

Have you overclocked your components? A benchmark will help you quantify how much improvement you made and test the system’s stability.

How do I benchmark my PC?

Fortunately, benchmarking software is usually pretty simple, especially if you aren’t specifically running a graphics-focused benchmark. As a quick example, below is the installation and initial process of Geekbench 5.

1. Download Geekbench 5 to your Downloads folder of choice. Once the download finishes, run the setup application.

How To Benchmark Your Windows Pc Update Geekbench Setup Example

2. From here, it’s just your usual Windows installation process – reading the EULA, deciding if you want it pinned, and so on. You can even launch it right out of Setup, and after choosing the trial run, your benchmarks are immediately available.

How To Benchmark Your Windows Pc Update Geekbench Setup Example 2

3. Click on the “Run Compute Benchmark” button to start the benchmarking test.

This straightforward download-to-setup-to-run process is pretty much identical across top benchmarking software. With the benchmarking software that I test in this article, I’m specifying where the installation process differs or more options are available.

Where more options are available in a piece of benchmarking software, it’s usually graphics options or other benchmarks. You’ll be walked through these options, what they mean, and if you should even use them for all of the software tested below.

The Best Benchmarking Software

Note: I have actually installed, run, and included my results in all of these benchmarks below! My PC’s specs for running these benchmarks are:

  • Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z490i AORUS Ultra
  • CPU: Intel Core i7-10700K
  • CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-L9i chromax Low Profile CPU Cooler
  • RAM: 16 GB DDR4-3200 Corsair Vengeance RGB PRO (XMP disabled, so clocked at 2133 MHz)
  • GPU: Gigabyte Windforce Nvidia GTX 1070
  • SSD 1 (boot): SATA3 ADATA ULTIMATE SU800 512GB
  • SSD 2 (storage): NVMe XPG Gammix S11 Pro 1TB
How To Benchmark Your Windows Pc Update Author Pc
Same PC, old graphics card

1. Geekbench 5

Geekbench 5 is a cross-platform benchmarking tool. We’ve talked through the Windows setup process for this one above, but the specifics are what you should expect: download, run the installer, and run the program. Once you’ve done all of this, you’ll be presented with your choice of two benchmarks.

How To Benchmark Your Windows Pc Update Geekbench Setup Example 3

With “CPU Benchmark,” you can test the speed of your CPU, both per-core and with all cores working together.

With “Compute Benchmark,” you may have a choice of different APIs to use. I recommend using Vulkan, if available, as it is the most modern standard. The “Compute” refers to GPU Compute and is used to benchmark GPUs rather than CPUs.

How To Benchmark Your Windows Pc Update Geekbench Setup Example 4

On an Nvidia GPU, you may also see CUDA as an option under “Compute Benchmark” – this will score lower than the other tests for the reason that it’s focused specifically on a part of your GPU that normally isn’t used by other applications, even games. CUDA is mainly for accelerating professional workloads, like rendering video, without hurting GPU performance.

Once you have your results, you can compare them with any other set of results on the site. 

How To Benchmark Your Windows Pc Update Geekbench Pc Results
Desktop run of Geekbench 5, showing a 1334 single-core and 7609 multi-core score.

To compare, I’ve also embedded below the results of the same test run off my phone. (To get it for your own phone, check the Geekbench site’s downloads page.)

How To Benchmark Your Windows Pc Update Geekbench Mobile Results
Mobile run of Geekbench 5, showing a 312 single-core and 1299 multi-core score.

According to this benchmark, it takes every CPU core of my phone to compare to even one of my desktop CPU cores in raw power. To compare results between your own devices, run the benchmark for yourself and use this page to find other results.

2. Unigine Valley

How To Benchmark Your Windows Pc Update Unigine Valley

Unigine Valley is not the latest Unigine benchmark, but it is the best one for running stability tests on a wide range of graphics hardware, including low- and mid-range hardware.

How To Benchmark Your Windows Pc Update Unigine Setup

After a quick download and install process, type “Valley Benchmark” in Start and open the benchmarking suite. As with all benchmarking software, you’ll want to use a standard preset to properly compare to other users and hardware. I recommend “Extreme HD Preset” (even for modern low-end GPUs, due to the age of this benchmark). I’ve included my results with that preset at the bottom of this review.

If you’re looking to push the limits of your benchmark even further than this standard and have a compatible display (or graphics card that supports downsampling), you can push the rendering resolution past 1080p by switching Preset to Custom.

Now you get to choose each individual setting – including resolutions besides 1080p. 1440p and 4K, for instance.

In this case, I would recommend turning down anti-aliasing, since it isn’t as noticeable when you’re downsampling or running higher-than-HD signals at native res. This will keep the benchmark in line with what you can expect running most modern games at higher resolutions on your hardware.

“Quality” will have the biggest impact on specific graphical effects and fidelity for each of its tiers. I recommend keeping it on “Ultra” to account for the age of the benchmark, but you can definitely try to lower it if you’re interested in seeing how your hardware scales.

“Stereo 3D” is for 3D monitors. If you don’t have one, ignore that setting.

Once you’ve selected or customized your preset, launch into the benchmark by clicking Run.

At the top of the screen, you’ll notice a row of in-Benchmark options.

How To Benchmark Your Windows Pc Update Unigine Setup 2

Clicking “Benchmark” will immediately start the benchmarking run, which will rotate through various high-fidelity scenes, testing different graphical features while recording system metrics. Your final score will be given in a results screen like the one at the end of this review.

“Camera” allows you to adjust field of view and camera settings, including complete free camera control and a first-person walking camera. The Valley is quite large if you choose to explore it, so be mindful of that.

How To Benchmark Your Windows Pc Update Unigine Setup 3

In-Benchmark Settings and Quality Settings are about the same – mostly. Within Settings, you’ll find a few new options for toggling the FPS/GPU monitor and heavier graphics settings like Volumetric Shadows. I recommend keeping all of these enabled, especially GPU Monitor (to see if you’re overheating under high load).

That’s everything important explained. Now for the results on my system below running the recommended Extreme HD Preset. I’ll explain the score, too.

How To Benchmark Your Windows Pc Update Unigine Valley Results

The FPS score is what is going to matter most here. For the majority of modern games, you’ll want to aim for a score of 60 FPS or better. This means your GPU should be in roughly the punching weight needed for modern games at high settings: 1080p and 60 FPS.

My results here show an average of 95 FPS for my GTX 1070.

According to these GTX 1070 July 2021 benchmarks, the GTX 1070 on High settings at 1080p can push about 88 FPS on average in the latest games. That is uncannily close for a synthetic benchmark, especially one this old, but it shows just how scalable both it and GTX 1070 still are.

At the default 1080p, though, you will be limiting the ability of high-end GPUs to use their faster and larger-density memory. If you want to really see what a modern high-end graphics card is capable of and aren’t just testing stability and temperatures, scroll down to the 3DMark review!

3. UserBenchmark

UserBenchmark is among my favorite full PC benchmarking tools for a multitude of reasons. First and foremost, using the application is exceedingly simple: it doesn’t need to be installed, and after you launch the application, you can benchmark your entire PC in one click. Once the benchmark finishes, you’ll see your results automatically opened in your default web browser on a page like the one in the screenshot below.

How To Benchmark Your Windows Pc Update Userbench Results

However, I would be remiss not to discuss UserBenchmark’s weighting of results. While UserBenchmark’s individual metrics will be generally accurate, the final score used to tally up everything can be less consistent, especially if you’re comparing AMD and Intel CPUs.

UserBenchmark remains useful due to the sheer sample size of its database, and it serves as an especially good way to make sure your hardware is performing as it should compared to identicalhardware. However, it’s important to NOT use it to make final hardware buying decisions, since the UserBenchmark-weighted score and real-world comparisons can differ.

4. 3DMark

3DMark is one of the premier graphical benchmarking solutions on the market, and like Geekbench, is also multi-platform. Unlike Geekbench, it has a variety of paid demos and tiers and essentially has the most intensive CPU and GPU benchmarks on the market at a given time. This is the benchmark to use when you really want to put gaming-grade hardware to the test.

For PC users, especially those who wish to test it for free, setup requires a few extra steps. Specifically, you’ll need to go to the 3DMark Steam Page and click “Download Demo” to get the free trial of 3DMark. From there, you would launch it like any other Steam game.

However, 3DMark is a little different from the other benchmarks on this list, since it’s actually a benchmark suite rather than a singular benchmark on its own. Let’s take a look at the main launcher together.

How To Benchmark Your Windows Pc Update 3dmark Setup 1

By default, you’ll see whichever of the three benchmarks included in the demo that 3DMark decides is best for your system.

The current-gen 3DMark test included with the demo is “Time Spy,” so I recommend running that one if you want to see whether your current-gen gaming PC is up to snuff.

However, there are tests besides Time Spy! Let’s take a moment to peek at the others. Click “Benchmarks” in the top-right taskbar.

How To Benchmark Your Windows Pc Update 3dmark Setup 4

Some of these Benchmarks will be grayed out due to paid tiers, but they all include explanations for what kind of hardware they’re made for.

How To Benchmark Your Windows Pc Update 3dmark Setup 3

The free tests for all users are Time Spy for DirectX 12, Fire Strike for DirectX 11, and Night Raid for DirectX 12 integrated graphics users. Time Spy and Fire Strike are both viable for modern desktops, but Night Raid should be scalable to the integrated graphics in your laptop as well, so long as it was made after mid-2015.

Beside choosing your benchmark, there isn’t much to customize in the demo version of 3DMark. The actual settings are best left on default if you don’t know what you’re doing, and you can’t actually take control mid-benchmark as with Unigine. You’ll need to wait it out to get scored or cancel it entirely by hitting ESC.

Since Time Spy is the most modern test, and you’re unlikely to be using 3DMark without gaming-grade hardware, I’ve chosen to run Time Spy and include my results below.

How To Benchmark Your Windows Pc Update 3dmark Time Spy Results
My results screen for a 6377 Time Spy score; Individual Graphics Score is 5996 and Individual CPU Score is 9981

You’ll get a few different scores. The main two scores are Graphics and CPU score, which measure your GPU and CPU power, respectively. “Estimated game performance” is a metric that is locked behind paid tiers but allows you to see lab-tested estimates for your performance in specific games.

Your main Score is a little different. The green meter/worded score and the numeric score don’t actually match each other.

Your numeric score is for your ranking in the benchmark as a whole. An RTX 3070 gets a score of 12311 compared to my 1070’s 6377, for instance. Lined up with the 1070’s real-world performance of ~88 FPS average in modern games at 1080p, I’d say you’re doing very well once you breach 6000.

The green meter/worded score actually corresponds to how you performed compared to people with similar or identical hardware – below “Good,” and you’re most likely overheating or being bogged down by background programs.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What should I do before I benchmark my PC?

Before you start benchmarking your PC, it’s important to ensure that you have all other programs closed. Having other applications open will bog down your results, sometimes significantly, especially in the case of games and web browsers. You’re also advised to close as many background applications as you can, but those shouldn’t matter too much.

2. Should I benchmark my PC?

If you’re an overclocker: absolutely, you need to test the stability of that overclock.

If you’re a regular user: It depends. If you’re here, chances are you’re at least curious. We recommend anyone run a benchmark if they suspect that their PC is underperforming. Despite some controversies (discussed in its entry), UserBenchmark is great for identifying whether components in your system are underperforming compared to identical components in other systems.

Outside of testing stability, there’s no reason you have to benchmark your PC. But it can tell you a lot about what you’re working with, especially if you’re looking to compare your current performance to potential upgrades.

3. Should I benchmark my PC before selling it?

Absolutely, especially if you want to quickly demonstrate the legitimacy of your listing and asking price. If you’re selling a gaming PC in particular, you may even want to run games with in-game benchmarks and include those results with your listing.

4. My PC shut off during a benchmark, what do I do?

If you’re an overclocker: congratulations, you just experienced your first unstable overclock! Turn things down and try again or revert to stock and stay there.

If you’re a regular user, chances are high that something is wrong with your PC, most likely your cooling or power. Use a hardware monitor to verify that your components aren’t overheating when you’re running your benchmarks. If you are overheating, it may be time to replace your cooler or thermal paste. (You can also take the steps outlined in this article to alleviate the issue in the meantime.)

If your thermals don’t seem to be the problem, it’s most likely a case of your GPU trying to draw more power than your PSU can handle.

5. What do I do if my hardware is performing below expectations?

How To Benchmark Your Windows Pc Update Userbench Below Expectations
UserBenchmark Results Page With Underpeforming Hardware

Simply take whatever steps you need to to fix the issue. Benchmarking software with a large database is ideal for finding issues like this.

Categories
News

Google Introduces Additional Security Improvements To Protect The Privacy Of Minors

CSAM scanning technology announced by Apple to limit the distribution of child pornography on its services is getting a lot of attention, and now it’s time for Google to play its cards to increase the privacy of minors. Therefore, the Mountain View company has announced the additional improvement and implementation of security innovations to provide “safer experience online” for kids and teens.

The said security and privacy improvements affect several of the company’s products, although the most important are related to Google Search and YouTube.

One of the first improvements to note is that all videos uploaded by users between the ages of 13 and 17 will be private by default. This means that all material shared by people under the age of 18 through YouTube and YouTube Kids will only be visible to selected users. Anyway, the platform will allow you to change the settings so that the clips are public, but reminders will be displayed indicating who can see them.

On the other hand, YouTube also incorporates new digital well-being tools. Notifications to take a break and bedtime reminders will be enabled by default, while autoplay will be disabled.

Starting in the next few months, all users under the age of 18 will have SafeSearch enabled by default; the goal is to automatically filter inappropriate content that may appear in search results. In the coming weeks, Google will implement a policy so that those under 18 years of age can request Google to remove their images from Google Images results. The request can be made not only by the underage users themselves but also by their parents or guardians.

Also, by default, Google will block advertising segmentation based on age, sex or interest, so that the minor will not see ads of an explicit nature. In the coming months, Google will grant more filters in Family Link, the company’s family control app, so podcasts, news and web pages can be blocked on smart devices that use Google Assistant.

Another interesting point is that, soon, all accounts used by those under 18 will have the location history record turned off, and it will not be able to be turned on. Google also promise early privacy updates for minors in Play, Workspace for Education, and Google Assistant.

Categories
News

Norton Is Acquiring Avast For $8.6 Billion

NortonLifeLock (formerly Symantec) buys the Czech antivirus software competitor Avast. As the US company, Norton announced on August 11, 2021; the purchase price is $8.6 billion.

The agreed but not yet approved merger is valued at a total of $ 8.1 billion to $8.6 billion. Avast shareholders are entitled to a combination of cash and newly issued NortonLifeLock shares. However, the shareholders of both companies, as well as the relevant regulatory authorities, have yet to approve the merger. The transaction is currently expected to close in mid-2022.

Upon completion of the merger, NortonLifeLock Chief Executive Officer Vincent Pilette will remain CEO of the new company. The group will have headquarters in Tempe, Arizona, and Prague. Avast boss Ondrej Vlcek will become president and member of the board of directors, the companies announced. The stock exchange company resulting from the merger will unite over 500 million users, including around 40 million direct customers.

NortonLifeLock Inc. from Arizona, formerly known as Symantec Corporation (1982 to 2019), has more than 3,600 employees and generated sales of almost $2.5 billion last year. With around 1,700 employees and just under $900 million in sales, Avast Software (founded in 1988) is not even half the size. Both companies have their origins in the 1980s and operate internationally. 

Although, there is no information about Avast and Norton’s plans after the acquisition, so anything could happen. Maybe Norton would remain as a paid software for those who seek greater security, while Avast would continue to exist with a freemium model, as it has been up to now. The point is that both programs would belong to the same company.

In December 2020, NortonLifeLock bought the German antivirus software manufacturer Avira. The purchase price was $360 million. In 2016, Avast acquired another provider of antivirus software, AVG.

Categories
News

CyberDog: Xiaomi Launches An Open-Source Robot Dog

At the launch of the Mix 4 and the Mi Pad 5, Xiaomi surprised everyone with its own open-source robot dog — CyberDog.

CyberDog, which is highly reminiscent of Spot from Boston Dynamics, is Xiaomi’s most advanced robot, with up to 6 built-in microphones and the best of Intel and Nvidia inside.

During the official announcement, Xiaomi addressed CyberDog as a “bio-inspired quadruped robot” and an open-source companion dog — this means that developers from all over the world can freely work and experiment on it. 

According to Xiaomi, “Robotics enthusiasts interested in CyberDog can compete or co-create with other like-minded Xiaomi Fans, together propelling the development and potential of quadruped robots.”

The Cyberdog moves at a speed of almost 12 km/h and weighs 3 kg. It is equipped with an Nvidia Jetson Xavier NX. This uses six self-developed cores with ARM’s 64-bit technology ARMv8.2. The CPU is made up of two faster and four slightly slower cores. There are also 384 graphics cores with Volta technology, including 48 tensor cores and two special deep learning accelerators. The NX can access 8 GB of LPDDR4 RAM and 16 GB of eMMC.

According to Xiaomi’s announcement, the CyberDog is a true beast that features a navigation and obstacle detection system that is accurate to the centimeter. This is made possible by the implementation of the Intel RealSense D450 depth module, accompanied by interactive AI cameras and ultra-wide-angle “fisheye” cameras.

Xiaomi CyberDog specs

The CyberDog has high-performance servo motors, developed by Xiaomi to make it as versatile as possible. According to the Chinese company, the maximum torque is 32-newton ·meters, while the rotational speed reaches 220 revolutions per minute. This allows CyberDog to be fast, agile and have a wide range of movements.

As we mentioned already, Xiaomi’s CyberDog comes with a navigation system that allows you to analyze your environment and interact with great fluidity. But this is not all. The robot dog also comes equipped with an arsenal of sensors that provide “instant feedback” to guide its movements. In addition to cameras, it includes touch and ultrasonic sensors and GPS modules, among others.

It has facial recognition to follow its owner and obey him so that it can follow him wherever he goes, even if there are obstacles in the way. It is controlled by a remote or from its own application. In addition, it supports voice commands.

It also has USB-C and HDMI ports and a 128 GB SSD so that developers can take advantage of them and experiment with new software and hardware. Furthermore, the company has committed to establishing a robotics laboratory for engineers interested in advancing innovations.

Xiaomi insists that it has built the CyberDog in order for it to be adopted by the open-source community. In fact, the robot itself has been created using open-source algorithms.

Xiaomi has launched 1000 units of the CyberDog at a price of 9999 yuan (just over $1500), aimed at “fans of the brand, engineers and robotics enthusiasts.

Categories
News

Gigabyte Ransomware Attack Leaked Confidential Documents Of Intel And AMD

Taiwanese PC and hardware manufacturer Gigabyte has suffered a ransomware attack, and hackers behind this attack claim to have copied more than 100 GB of data — including confidential documents from Intel and AMD that are not intended for the public.

Gigabyte confirmed to the Chinese news site United Daily News about the cyber attack that affected a small number of servers. After the attack was discovered, Gigabyte took the servers offline and notified law enforcement agencies.

According to Bleepingcomputer, the ransomware group RansomEXX is believed to be behind the attack. RansomEXX claims to have acquired up to 112 GB of data in the form of documents.

These documents, according to the hacker group, contain confidential material from AMD and Intel, as well as American Megatrends, one of the world’s largest hardware vendors. RansomEXX has, in fact, already warned that it is going to publish all the documents and sell them on hacker forums if no ransom is paid. The amount of the Gigabyte ransom demand is currently unknown.

Although this case is especially tricky since the interests of up to 4 different companies are involved, cybersecurity authorities always recommend not paying ransoms, despite the consequences. And the fact is that the payment of said sum is not a guarantee of anything — the hackers may also publish the documents or even worse, get paid and then re-sell copies of the documents to the highest bidder in hacker forums, making even more money.

Categories
Windows

How to Install and Run the Nginx Server on Windows

Nginx is a web server that is very popular with Linux and BSD systems. It can also be installed on Windows 10. However, there are a few performance limitations in Windows that have not been mitigated so far, but the developers will address these problems in a future release. To install and run Nginx successfully on Windows, follow the steps below.

Download the Nginx Server

There are many download versions of Nginx for Windows, and Nginx recommends using the “mainline version.” However, you will not find any issues if you download its most recent stable version for Windows.

Select the version you want and download its zip file to your PC.

Nginx Windows Mainline Version Download

As a first step, you need to extract the new folder. You can use 7-zip, WinRAR or any other popular compression software.

Nginx Windows Extract Zip File

After extracting the file contents in the original folder, you have to move the entire folder that came with the built-in download copy into the “Program Files.” We can either move or cut-paste this extracted folder.

Nginx Windows Program Files

We will run Nginx from this location as a default web service program.

Installing Nginx

To install and run Nginx, select and double-click the Nginx.exe file. It has now been activated for further use. You may run into a Windows Defender block screen while running the Nginx server, which has to be allowed by you.

Nginx Windows Run Program

In the next step, you need to verify whether the installation has been successful. For this, go to your default browser and type localhost. Microsoft Edge is the browser used in the below example. If you see a screen saying the Nginx web server is successfully installed and working, it means there were no problems with your Nginx installation in Windows.

Nginx Windows Browser Localhost

To stop Nginx, you can end it from the Task Manager window.

Nginx Windows End Task

Running Nginx on Your Windows PC

To run Nginx, you have to use Internet Information Services (IIS), which is a Microsoft web server that serves requested HTML pages or files. You can enable it in “Turn Windows Features On or Off” in the Control Panel. Check the required fields for “Web Management Tools” and “IIS Management Console.”

Nginx Windows Iis Enabled

It will take a while for IIS to be enabled on your computer as the changes are applied.

Nginx Windows Iis Applying Changes

You can open IIS Manager directly from the Start menu. Always open it in Administrator mode.

Nginx Windows Iis Manager Start Menu

Here, you will be able to access the default website, which is usually located at “inetpub wwwroot.” This is also known as the web application root. You can look for it in File Explorer through a simple search.

Nginx Windows Inetpub Root Folder

It is helpful to change the physical path of this root to a more desirable folder. I created a new “Work” folder in C:\ and changed the physical path to “C:\Work.” When you double-click on the “default web site” option in IIS Manager, it should lead to this new folder. Alternatively, you can right-click the menu and select “explore” for the same result.

Nginx Windows Iis Manager Root Folder

After this, go to the Nginx folder that you renamed in the Program files. Click “Conf” and select “nginx.conf.” This file can be edited using the Notepad++ text editor, but you can use any other editor such as Atom or Visual Studio Code.

Edit Nginx Conf File With Notepadplusplus

In Notepad++, find the location of the root and change it from the default html.

Nginx Windows Location Root

As shown here, change the root to the edited physical path which we discussed above.

Nginx Windows Location Root Changed

You can edit the index.html file in the root folder in a separate tab. Change the text to what you want the web server to display on the screen.

Nginx Windows Text Changed Index.html

Exit the Nginx.exe program using “End Task.” Open and run the “nginx.exe” file in Admin mode.

Type localhost in a browser window. The Nginx web server will highlight the edits you made.

Nginx Windows Runing Program

Example Application of Nginx in Windows

The Nginx resources site has a full list of web server applications which you can use to run various applications on Windows PC.

For example, you can use Nginx in Windows to link to a webpage such as a customer login page. Once you make the configuration changes in the “nginx.conf” file, your end users will be able to access the login page on their end.

Go back to the “nginx.conf” file shared in the previous section. Instead of “localhost,” you need a domain name for the server to access. “index.html” is a command used to point to any static html page.

Nginx Windows Put Domain Name

In the next step, go to “location” and modify the text using an “api,” followed by a proxy server added with an “http” ping. This should point to any login page you want this page to direct to.

Nginx Windows Proxy Server Login

Save the file and run the “Nginx.exe” program in Admin mode. For this login page to look nice to the end user, you should have previously configured the web server in an IDE program like Eclipse.

Categories
News

Apple to Bring Face ID System to Mac in Couple of Years

Apple is planning to bring the Face ID feature to its Mac in the next couple of years. According to a journalist, Mark Gurman said in a newsletter that he believes that Apple is going to shift all the products to Face ID.

Mark Gurman shared this news on the latest edition of the Power On newsletter. Here, he said that even the low-end models of iPhone like iPhone SE, iPad Air that has Touch ID would soon receive Facial recognition technology. 

Face ID Feature Coming To Macs, all iPhones, iPads within Couple of Years

However, this change might be coming to Mac laptops in few years. He added,

But I expect that to eventually change. It won’t happen this year, but I’d bet Face ID on the Mac is coming within a couple of years. I expect all iPhones and iPads to transition to Face ID within that timeframe, too. Eventually, a camera embedded in the screen would help differentiate Apple’s pricier devices by eliminating the notch at the top. The facial recognition sensor gives Apple two central features: security and augmented reality. Touch ID, more convenient or not, only provides the former.

It is also expected that the company might remove the notch on the iPhone during the shift. The notch-less iPhone could launch in 2023.

Earlier, Gurman said that the Cupertino-based giant Apple is planning to redesign the recently launched 24-inch iMac, and it has planned to include Face ID. However, the plan of adding Face ID is delayed to the upcoming iMac. As compared to iPhones and iPads, the screen of the Mac laptops is thinner, so it is hard to fit the necessary sensors for Face ID.

This is not the first time we hear that Apple is bringing the Face ID feature to its Laptop macOS Big Sur Beta. Earlier also, we found references that suggest the company is working to bring facial recognition to its Mac computers.

Categories
News

What Is Pegasus Spyware and How Does It Infect Your Phone?

Back in 2019, Israeli hackers spied on Indian journalists and activists using state-of-the-art spyware called Pegasus. Made by a private company based in Israel, the Pegasus spyware is a powerful malicious tool capable of stealing information. A joint investigation by research and media organizations dubbed “The Pegasus Project” has uncovered a list of people targeted by the spyware as recently as July 2021. Reading the recent stream of news articles must have you wondering – what is the Pegasus spyware and what’s the big deal about it? Is my phone affected by Pegasus as well? This article will talk about what exactly is Pegasus spyware, what does it do, how does it affect you, and more.

Pegasus Spyware: Explained! (2021)

The article will talk about what is Pegasus spyware, along with answers to some of the most burning questions you might have about it. Use the table below to jump straight to your query or read it all to learn everything about what Pegasus is.Table Of Contents 

What Is the Pegasus Spyware?

Before we discuss everything about Pegasus, let’s first learn what exactly is spyware software or program.

Simply put, spyware is unwanted malicious software that helps attackers infiltrate various devices and steal information from them. The specific type of data stolen (be it personal files, bank account details, passwords, chat messages, and more) depends on what spyware it is and the intents of whoever installed it on the target device. Spyware software can be installed on multiple devices and is often done without the victim even knowing about it.

what is pegasus spyware and how to stay safe

Created by an Israeli private surveillance company called the NSO Group, the Pegasus Spyware is a very sophisticated piece of spyware that has the capacity to infiltrate the target’s devices easily and extract almost any piece of information it wants.

The Pegasus spyware is marketed and provided to governments around the world. The company claims that the intent of the spyware is to prevent any malicious attacks and keep a close watch on suspicious people. However, the recent flurry of data leaks has revealed that various governments used Pegasus to spy on individuals who weren’t warranted for it. This type of nefarious use of the software has kicked up quite a controversy, and users are now worried about their own device’s security.

Now that you have a better idea of what this nasty spyware is, find out how Pegasus works and transmits your private data to the government in the section below.

How Does Pegasus Spyware Infect Your Phone?

One of the things that has people worried about their cybersecurity is how easily and efficiently the Pegasus spyware works. Before the recent leak back in 2019, Pegasus used multiple methods to worm its way into the phones of various individuals. The spyware has since become even stronger and notably uses the following methods to gain access to a target’s phone.

The first method involves a compromised website link that the victim is fooled into clicking. Once done, Pegasus is automatically installed on the device in the background, without the user’s knowledge.

The second method involves the intricate use of zero-day vulnerabilities, which are bugs in an app or a phone’s operating system that the companies don’t even know about yet. Exploiting Whatsapp’s zero-day vulnerability, Pegasus Spyware made its way on devices through a simple Whatsapp call made to the target’s phone.

whatsapp-zero-day-exploit-used-to-install-pegasus-on-your-phone

The targets didn’t even have to receive the WhatsApp call for spyware to infect their device. A missed call to their phone number was enough, and the spyware could get to work, stealing data right away. Moreover, Pegasus automatically deleted the call log entry of that specific call, so the target does not even know a call took place at all. WhatsApp has since patched the issue.

When it comes to the Apple ecosystem, Pegasus spyware recently began exploiting zero-day vulnerabilities in Apple’s iMessage. This provides Pegasus access to many phones to run and collect data on across the world.

What All Data Does It Collect?

The extent of data the Pegasus spyware collects is scaringly vast. Once installed on the victim’s device, Pegasus may have total control over the phone, including root privileges. Using this extensive control, the spyware can collect a plethora of information and do things even the user cannot.

However, that is not where this spyware stops. Aside from copying any and all of the messages you send or receive, Pegasus spyware can do the following:

  • monitor and record calls
  • make a clone of your entire contacts
  • extract your entire photo gallery
  • turn on your device’s microphone and camera without your consent and record your conversations and movements from anywhere.

Since the spyware acts like a complete malware that runs rampant, there is no telling as to how much information it is capable of collecting and sending back to whoever is in control. However, from what we know and what is out there, we can definitely say that the scope of information stolen by the Pegasus spyware is huge.

What Platforms Does Pegasus Spyware Target?

The prime targets of Pegasus spyware attacks are iPhone and Android devices. However, that is not to say this is a definitive list. You can probably install Pegasus on older Symbian and Blackberry devices, along with phones running out of update operating systems.

Recent reports by researchers at Amnesty have found that the iOS ecosystem can be infiltrated by Pegasus using zero-click exploits in Apple’s mobile operating system. This method requires no interaction from the user and is almost non-traceable. Citizen Lab researcher Bill Marczak recently mentioned that Apple devices with iOS versions as recent as iOS 14.6 are prone to zero-click iMessage exploits. Malicious actors can use these loopholes to install Pegasus on your device.

It is especially worrying considering the speed at which Pegasus has been catching up with the latest Android and iOS operating systems. Does this mean no one is actually safe from the grip of Pegasus? If so, how dangerous is the spyware to your privacy?

Is the Pegasus Spyware Dangerous?

Talking about the severity of the Pegasus in general, there’s no doubt that the much-talked-about spyware is really dangerous. The prime principle behind this spyware is to gather as much information as it can on the selected individuals and send it back to NSO’s clients. It is up to the perpetrators to decide what they do with the stolen data.

Well, spyware software is rarely spread around in devices with good intent. So it is safe to assume that individuals appearing in the recent Pegasus spyware leak are targets of a dangerous scheme.

Is My Device Vulnerable to Spyware Attacks?

Your Android or iOS phone, along with almost everyone else’s device, is vulnerable to the Pegasus spyware. However, that’s not a huge cause for concern since the spyware deployed by NSO’s clients focuses on high-profile individuals. NSO’s clients target them for one reason or another, be it national security or some propaganda. While everyday smartphone users, whether Android or iPhone, are at risk of being infected by Pegasus, it is unlikely that your phone is among the list of leaked users targeted.

There might be specially designed devices out there that are immune to the Pegasus spyware attacks, but that is conjecture at best.

How to Check If My Device Is Infected by Pegasus Spyware?

While the ways to detect if your device is infected by the Pegasus spyware are severely limited, there might be a method you can use. The researchers at Amnesty International have published a toolkit that may help users scan their own phones.

Known as the Mobile Verification Toolkit or MVT for short, the toolkit can partially detect traces of the Pegasus Spyware on iPhone and Android. MVT does that by taking a full backup of the device in question and then scanning it for any indicators of compromise (IOC) used by NOS to deliver Pegasus. After scanning the backup file, the MVT will output several files and clearly mention if traces of Pegasus were detected in any of them.

The toolkit scans Android phones using a similar approach. MVT will scan an Android device’s backup for text messages with links to sites that have been used by NSO, the company behind Pegasus.

Now, using the MVT is an intricate process best suited for users who know how to use file structures and command terminals. If you think you are up to the task, you can go ahead and download the Mobile Verification Toolkit files from Github. However, be aware that you will also need the above-discussed Amnesty’s Indicators of Compromise, which you can get from the attached link. Check out MVT’s documentation to get a better idea of how to go about the process and check if your device is affected by Pegasus or not.

How Do I Get Rid of Pegasus Spyware?

You can’t, at least not completely. From what we know of the Pegasus spyware, for now, it is impossible to wipe every trace of it from your phone. If you think your device has been compromised, we suggest wiping all your existing data and doing a factory reset. However, be aware that even doing that may not completely get rid of this nasty spyware.

From the opinion of multiple security experts and information available, the only way to completely rid yourself of the Pegasus spyware is to discard the infected phone and get a new one. Furthermore, make sure that all the apps in the new phone are up to date and you change the passwords of all the cloud storage accounts you own. We realize this sounds tedious, but unfortunately, it’s the only way you can rid of this spyware completely.

How Can I Protect Myself from This Spyware?

There are a couple of good practices you follow to stay safe from Pegasus, or matter of fact, other malicious software.

1. Keep Your Phone and Apps Up-to-Date

Make sure to upgrade your smartphone’s operating system to the latest version. We say this because companies regularly roll out security updates to patch a variety of bugs and zero-day exploits.

Moreover, make sure to regularly update all the apps on your Android and iOS device to their latest version so that you have the best protection possible.

2. Use Antimalware/ Antivirus Software

Antimalware is a program that helps combat various types of malware and other malicious programs that are present across the internet. Antimalware deals with the most common malware, including viruses, to more complex ones like rootkits, keyloggers, and certain types of spyware.

While we doubt antimalware will be able to detect and remove the Pegasus spyware, for now, it is still good practice to install one.

3. Be Wary of Unknown Links

As we have already discussed above, one of the prime ways Pegasus can find its way on your phone is through a compromised website link. Therefore, always make sure you can trust the website before you click it. If a friend has sent it along, perhaps it’s better to ask them where they got it before you eagerly

4. Monitor App Permissions

While you won’t see the Pegasus spyware just hanging around like an app, it could be embedded inside any or every app like Whatsapp, Mail, Instagram, and more. So make sure to keep an eye out for permissions an app is using.

Both Android and iOS devices now show privacy indicators to tell you when an app is accessing the microphone and camera permission. It can tell you when some app is using permissions, even when it doesn’t need to. If you are not using the latest version of Android, you can get the Android 12 Privacy Dashboard or the Access Dots app to bring similar functionality to your older Android device.