Once again, Internet Explorer (aka "Internet Exploder") has been attacked through a "zero-day" remote code execution vulnerability. That might not seem like MaximumPC.com-worthy news, except for two factors: the flaw is affecting thousands of websites, and this time, it isn't just Firefox fans who are saying "time to switch browsers, already!" - security experts at Trend Micro, the Spamhaus Project, and the UK's PC Pro magazine are all recommending making a switch, according to the BBC. And here's why:
The flaw in Microsoft's Internet Explorer could allow criminals to take control of people's computers and steal their passwords, internet experts say.
Switching Browsers? Choices Abound!
Attacks against IE7 have been verified, but all versions of IE (including IE 8 Beta 2) have the same underlying vulnerability; a vulnerability not present in IE's competitors (Firefox, Opera, Chrome, and Safari). Switching browsers makes sense for most web surfing, but, alas, some websites and (of course) Windows Update and Microsoft Update for Windows XP won't work with anything but IE.
Redmond Readies Security Update
Since the vulnerability was detected on December 10th, Microsoft code jockeys have been working hard to patch the flaw (Redmond doesn't want you to switch, naturally, and given the way that IE and Windows work together, a broken IE isn't good for anybody), and a patch will be available tomorrow (December 17th) for all versions of IE from 5.01 up, applying to all versions of Windows and Windows Server from Windows 2000 on up. It's rare for Microsoft to perform a security update between Patch Tuesdays, but when a "Critical" vulnerability (the most dangerous category of vulnerability) is discovered, there's no time to waste.
If you must use IE and you're looking for workarounds until you can get the update, join us after the jump for details.
You know spyware and virus, malware and DDOS, Trojan of horse fame, phishing and worm. But do you recall the brand-newest threat of them all? (apologies to Johnny Marks). Well, the Federal Trade Commission does: it's called "scareware," and late last week, the FTC slammed two of the biggest scareware providers with an asset freeze and a temporary injunction.
What is "scareware?" Arstechnica.com's report explains it thus:
Scareware-selling companies would contract with reputable websites to display advertisements on behalf of other reputable companies, but would poison the ads in question. Once clicked, visitors were actually redirected to a vendor-controlled website, which would then "scan" their computer and amazingly enough, find evidence of damage or infection. Cue the appropriate links, websites (just $39.95), and a few minutes later the result is one scammed customer who has just paid good money for nothing. The thieves, meanwhile, earn extra points if they manage to nick a credit card number in the process.
Some typical examples include Antivirus XP, DriveCleaner, and WinFixer. Drop by the Trend Micro blog for an animated portrayal of a typical Antivirus XP attack, which includes a replacement desktop wallpaper with no way to change it and a scary-looking fake BSOD screensaver.
To learn more about the baddies behind Antivirus XP and its ilk, and to learn how to clean up after scareware, join us after the break.
Cnet reports that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will be using January's CES trade show to spread the good news about Windows 7. Ballmer is one of the keynote speakers, along with the CEOs of Ford and Sony, for the annual electronics extravaganza. The Windows 7 push is expected, but some observers think that Microsoft might have really big news in store for CES - perhaps, a Zune-based phone.
While Cnet's sources deny that a ZunePhone will be on tap for CES, it's a hard rumor to kill. Global Equities Research analyst Trip Chowdhry claimed recently, in a posting at Barron's Tech Trader Daily blog, that Microsoft would be rolling out a phone combining the features of the Zune and the Danger Sidekick handheld.
So, will early January see a new convergence device from the folks in Redmond, or just the expected emphasis on Windows 7, Xbox 360, and the like? Talk amongst yourselves, and we'll all find out in about three weeks.
If you sometimes use your computer for something other than gaming, your ultra-powerful GPU might be twiddling its thumbs, waiting for some 3D deathmatches - until now. This week, Nvidia released the final 1.0 version of its OpenCL specification, which enables programmers to use the power of the GPU for general-purpose data crunching (aka General Purpose GPU or GPGPU). OpenCL enables programmers who aren't accustomed to shoving around vertices or telling hardware T&L registers what to do to write code for GPU execution without using OpenGL or DirectX commands.
Nvidia isn't exactly new to GPGPU, as its CUDA parallel processing architecture is somewhat similar to OpenCL. CUDA is currently supported by virtually all current GeForce, GeForce Mobile, and Quadro FX GPUs when equipped with at least 256MB of dedicated video memory.
To demonstrate the "Open" in OpenCL 1.0, Nvidia has worked closely with Apple Computer, which first proposed a parallel processing standard as part of its forthcoming Snow Leopard OS X release, with arch-rival ATI's parent company AMD, and with other partners including 3DLABS, Activision Blizzard, Apple, ARM, Barco, Broadcom, Codeplay, Electronic Arts, Ericsson, Freescale, HI, IBM, Intel Corporation, Imagination Technologies, Kestrel Institute, Motorola, Movidia, Nokia, NVIDIA, QNX, RapidMind, Samsung, Seaweed, TAKUMI, Texas Instruments and Umeå University.
So, who's managing the OpenCL standard, and what about Microsoft's rival DirectX 11 Compute standard? Updated 12-11-08:And, what class of computers can benefit from OpenCL coding?To learn more, and for your chance to sound off, join us after the jump.
If you want to downgrade a Dell PC in the Inspiron 1525 notebook or 530 desktop line with Windows Vista to Windows XP, it's going to cost more than the $20-50 premium we told you about last summer for other Dell models. How much more? The difference between systems in the Inspiron 1525 and 530 series with Windows Vista and those with Windows Vista Bonus with Windows XP is $150. That's a huge difference, but the reason why isn't really Dell's fault, TG Daily reports. It's all about which Vista versions permit downgrades - and how much they cost.
So, what's going on? These models are normally shipped with Vista Basic SP1 or Vista Home Premium SP1, neither of which include downgrade rights to Windows XP. So, to get Windows Vista Business or Ultimate, which do offer downgrade rights to Windows XP Professional (XP Home's not an option, alas), you must upgrade to Windows Vista Business or Ultimate, which accounts for the extra cost.
For your chance to sound off on the cost and availability of XP downgrades, join us after the jump.
CNet's Ina Fried reports that Microsoft's Windows Vista Ultimate Product (RED), a special version of Windows Vista Ultimate Edition, previously available only bundled with certain Dell PC models, will be available at retail starting later this month. Part of the proceeds from Microsoft's Product (RED) go to help the Product (RED) charity fight AIDS in Africa.
Microsoft's Product (RED) edition of Windows Vista Ultimate features, of course, a special Product (RED) package, and is also outfitted with an exclusive DreamScene animated wallpaper, as well as an exclusive screensaver, wallpapers and gadgets.
Not in the market for the Product (RED) edition of Windows Vista Ultimate right now? To find out other ways you can shop and help the fight, join us after the jump.
Advertising Age (via Cnet) reports that Microsoft and rapper Common are teaming up with ad agency Crispin Porter & Bogusky to put classic Microsoft imagery from the '80s and modern remixes on T-shirts. Yes, the line will be called "Softwear by Microsoft."
The first two designs unveiled bring back memories of MS-DOS (if you've forgotten all the DOS you ever learned, be sure to see our 50 Skills Every Real Geek Should Have article for a refresher) and the days when MicroSoft was two words. You can see more designs, including Common's remixes, at the Softwear by Microsoft website.
So, how about it, Redmond fanboys (and fangirls)? Are you going to embrace your roots, or do these designs make you hit your reset button? Join us after the jump for your chance to sound off.
Let's play word association: I say "Monster" - what would you say? You might say ".com" (popular job hunting site), or "Green" (Fenway Park's famous left-field wall), or "Frankenstein" (doctor? monster? both!), or you might even say "Cable" as in Monster Cable. However, as far as Monster Cable is concerned, the only "Monster" they seem to believe in is their own trademark.
As TechDirtreported this week, Monster Cable's busy suing almost every company with "Monster" in the name for alleged trademark infringement. Monster Cable's latest target is a Rhode Island-based miniature golf company calledMonster Mini Golf. The company is already looking at a cool $100G in legal fees because of the litigation with Monster Cable. To learn how the mini-golfers are fighting back, join us after the jump.
Configuring your next BMW isn't as easy as touching a table yet, but in the near future, it probably will be. BMW has released a video of its prototype BMW Product Navigator (aka BMW Konfigurator), which is powered by Microsoft Surface and designed by Vectorform, which created the interactive 2008 election map used by MSNBC.
As with the 2008 MSNBC project, Vectorform's BMW Product Navigator uses Microsoft Surface to manipulate video that is then shown on an HDTV. With the BMW Product Navigator, you place chips representing product options on the Microsoft Surface tabletop computer, and the changes you make affect the BMW shown on the video screen. And, just so you can make sure you're buying the Bimmer you want, Product Navigator can email you your custom configuration, print it, or copy it to a USB flash memory drive.
What do you think about the idea of gesturing your way to the car of your dreams? Is this the best way to use Microsoft Surface? For your chance to answer these and other burning questions, join us after the jump.