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.
According to a recent poll taken by the Ponemon Institute and TRUSTe in San Francisco, Google has fallen off the most trust companies list along with Countrywide Financial, Bank of America and Weight Watchers.
This has almost everything to do with the recent rise in piracy, with only 45 percent of the users stating that they felt they have control over their personal information. On top of that, 60 percent of the surveyors claimed that identity theft negatively impacts their thoughts about a company. “Consumers are getting more astute about” privacy, stated Fran Maier, CEO of TRUSTe, a company that evaluates online privacy practices.
Think you’re a client of one of the most trusted? Be sure and check out the full list of the most trusted companies right after the jump.
Citing those always un-named sources (this time at graphics card makers), DigiTimes reports Nvidia will launch its next generation GT 300 GPU, a high end gaming chip, in the first quarter of 2009. The new part will be manufactured on a 55nm process, just as the company is also planning a 55nm refresh of its GTX 260 videocard.
DigiTimes also says Nvidia will show off a pair of new GT 200 videocards at CES next month. First on tap will be the GTX 295, which will consist of two 55nm GT 200 GPUs. The graphics card maker also plans to show its GTX 285, which will ship with a single GT 200 GPU. Core frequencies for both cards are expected to run 10 to 15 percent faster than existing Nvidia videocards, while also consuming 10 to 15 percent less power.
Starting today, any clientele of Delta Airlines that choose to fly between New York, Boston and Washington D.C. will be treated to the option of in-flight Internet.
The sky-fi (see what I did there?) will run those on flights under three hours $9.95 for the entirety of the flight. Any flights that go over three hours will cost you an additional three buckaroos, bringing the grand total to $12.95.
It’s expected that the feature will be available in all flights (including on Delta’s merger partner, Northwest Airlines) on May 31, 2009. The technology is slated to be brought on board by IBM, HP, Dell and newcomer Super Micro.
Thankfully, this should provide a nice alternative to watching V for Vandetta three times in a row (it loses its edge after the first time) because the rest of the movies are terrible choices. Now, you can just browse your favorite sites, like Maximum PC!
According to Valve’s November hardware report, a majority of you gamers using Steam are favoring Windows XP, Nvidia graphics cards and Intel processors.
These numbers come as very little surprise. Windows XP has remained dominant for gamers due to a lack of any significant DirectX 10 enabled titles, Nvidia has been heavily strutting their stuff in the graphics game and Intel is up to their usual, benchmark-crushing shenanigans.
The exact numbers show that there really is a startling majority. 70 percent of users were running Windows XP, 65 percent viewing on Nvidia, and 64 percent thinking with Intel.
Be sure to check out the survey yourself and check out what piece of the pie you reside in!
Some Neflix subscribers are finding that their pricey Blu-ray player has been sitting around with nothing to do. That's because Netflix doesn't have enough Blu-ray titles to go around, particularly when it comes to hot new releases. It's not uncommon for a movie to sit in a subscriber's queue for a month or more with an expected availability listed as "Long Wait." Bummer.
Cnet talked to Steve Swasey, a Netflix spokesperson, about the problem, who said part of it has to do with studios not providing enough Blu-ray copies of new releases that the company would like get. But it isn't always the fault of the studios.
"There is an expense to that," Swasey said. "These things cost money. We deploy money where we think it's going to be most efficient to keep subscribers and investors happy. It's always check and balances."
Not all subscribers can be happy hearing Swasey lay the blame on the cost, considering that Netflix started adding a $1 surcharge for Blu-ray renters back in October. Jessie Teitz, Neflix's VP of marketing, said the surcharge was to cover the "significant cost difference" between Blu-ray and standard DVDs, which brings up another tidbit that active subscribers can't be happy about. When there aren't enough copies to go around, users who rent less frequently jump to the front of the line.
"What we're doing is giving new releases to the person who hasn't rented as much," he said. "We've been doing this for a couple of years and fully disclose this in our terms of agreement. If we have a shortage of titles we do what we think is equitable and give the title to the person who hasn't rented as much or who hasn't gotten as much enjoyment from the service."
In short, the $1 surcharge that all Blu-ray renters pay is going towards not enough Blu-ray copies, which are then doled out to infrequent renters.
Hit the jump and tell us whether you agree or disagree with how Netflix is handling Blu-ray movies.
Earlier this year, researchers for Finjan, a web security firm, said that stolen bank data had become "commoditized," with items like PIN codes and credit card information fetching only a fraction of what they used to pull in. Now Finjan warns of an impending "sharp rise [in cybercrime] in 2009 due to the current economic downturn, which makes financial gain from stealing data and selling online even more attractive."
Finjan's report (PDF) notes that cybercrime has evolved into a "booming global business" in 2008, and pointed out an early trend of unemployed IT personnel boosting their income by using crimeware toolkits sold by professional hackers. Finjan says the trend is only the beginning and as layoffs go on the rise in 2009, so too will cybercrime, both in the amount of attacks and the severity.
But not everyone is convinced of Finjan's gloom and doom future. ArsTechinca points out that Finjan's sources are up for interpretation, including a November 19 Forbes article cited in the PDF report. According to ArsTechnica, the Forbes article "doesn't really provide a solid foundation for Finjan's statement. While the piece does take note of various trends, occurrences, and vibrations in the malware market, the author notes that the data 'remains largely anecdotal.'"
Are we on the verge of a major cybercrime spike? Hit the jump and post your predictions.
Thanks to a new online Q&A service, giving your two cents on the web might actually be worth two cents. Or a few bucks. The new service, called Mahalo Answers, allows its community members to ask and answer questions similar to what you'd find with Yahoo Answers. But unlike Yahoo, users who give well thought out answers have a chance to cash in on their expertise with Mahalo Answers.
Whenever someone submits a question, they can choose to offer a tip, which is essentially reward money for whoever best answers the query. Tips are initially paid to Mahalo through Paypal and converted into Mahalo dollars. Each Mahalo dollar is currently worth $0.75 when paid out via Paypal, and participants can cash out when they've accumulated 40 Mahalo dollars.
The concept is an interesting one and Mahalo has implemented some safeguards against abusing the system. If a question only manages to attract a handful of clowns with less than helpful answers, you can opt to have your tip refunded within 3 days. But to prevent users from taking advantage of asking questions and always applying for a refund, baiting and switching will count against their reputation. Make it a habit and members will simply stop answering your questions.
On the flip side, users who build a reputation for giving good answers can make money with Mahalo Direct Questions and answer questions in private for a set fee.
Check it out, then hit the jump and tell us what you think about this new service.
AMD could really use a compelling CPU launch to win back favor among enthusiasts and turn its financial struggles around, and the company hopes its upcoming Phenom II processor line will do just that. Last month the chip maker demoed a Phenom II being overclocked on a variety of cooling solutions culminating with a 5GHz run using LN2, and now end-users putting the Phenom II's overclocking prowess to the test are seeing similar results.
During Tom's Hardware's Overdrive overclocking finals in Paris, teams from all over the world competed for the highest scores using Intel's Core i7 platform, but AMD's Phenom II also made an appearance. With the help of one of the competitors, the news and review site took the 940 Phenom X4 BE II from its stock 3GHz frequency up to 4.957GHz using a Gigabyte motherboard and liquid nitrogen cooling. Ironically, the extreme cooling may have prevented the quad-core chip's overclocking ceiling, as Tom's Hardware claims "it has an issue of locking at temperatures below -70°C."
Not many system builders are going to interested in keeping a supply of LN2 handy, but what's interesting to note is the frequency headroom AMD's next generation Phenom chips appear to offer. During AMD's demo, the 45nm quad-core chip still broke the 4GHz barrier on air and water cooling, which bodes well for Phenom II and perhaps AMD's immediate future.
AMD is expected to launch Phenom II in January 2009.
Less than a week ago, Fudzilla claimed it managed to confirm rumors that XFX would defect from Nvidia as an exclusive partner, but until now, no official confirmation existed. That's no longer the case, as AMD announces XFX is joining the fray of AMD add-in board partners.
"In the world of PC gaming, XFX is synonymous with the extreme performance that enthusiasts crave,” said Rick Bergman, senior vice president and general manager, Graphics Products Group, AMD. “Their decision to partner with AMD and launch AMD GPU-based XFX graphics cards, including the ATI Radeon™ HD 4870 X2, widely regarded as the world’s fastest graphics card by technology enthusiasts around the world, speaks to the level of excellence achieved by the ATI Radeon HD 4000 series."
Michael Chiu, Chairman and CEO of Pine Technologies Holdings, makers of XFX graphics cards said it wasn't just AMD's ability to catch up on the gaming front that led to its decision to branch out; XFX also took a keen interest in AMD's multimedia performance.
According to AMD, XFX will kick off its new partnership starting with the Radeon HD 4000 series GPUs sometime in early 2009.