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Encryption

Browser Makers To End RC4 Support In Early 2016 40

msm1267 writes: Google, Microsoft and Mozilla today announced they've settled on an early 2016 timeframe to permanently deprecate the shaky RC4 encryption algorithm in their respective browsers. Mozilla said Firefox's shut-off date will coincide with the release of Firefox 44 on Jan. 26. Google and Microsoft said that Chrome and Internet Explorer 11 (and Microsoft Edge) respectively will also do so in the January-February timeframe. Attacks against RC4 are growing increasingly practical, rendering the algorithm more untrustworthy by the day.
Chrome

Chrome 45 Launches, Automatically Pauses Less Important Flash Content, Like Ads 87

An anonymous reader writes: Google today launched Chrome 45 for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android with some expected changes and new developer tools. First and foremost, Chrome now automatically pauses less important Flash content (rolling out gradually, so be patient). This has been a longtime coming from both Google and Adobe, with the goal to make Flash content more power-efficient in Chrome: In March, a setting was introduced to play less Flash content on the page, but it wasn't turned on by default, and in June, the option was enabled in the browser's beta channel. Now it's being turned on for everyone.
Chrome

Chrome To Freeze Flash Ads On Sight From September 1 190

An anonymous reader writes: Shaun Nichols from the Register reports that unimportant Flash content will be click-to-play by default in Google Chrome from September 1. He writes, "Google is making good on its promise to strangle Adobe Flash's ability to auto-play in Chrome. The web giant has set September 1, 2015 as the date from which non-important Flash files will be click-to-play in the browser by default – effectively freezing out 'many' Flash ads in the process. Netizens can right-click over the security-challenged plugin and select 'Run this' if they want to unfreeze an ad. Otherwise, the Flash files will remain suspended in a grey box, unable to cause any harm nor any annoyance."
Android

Since-Pulled Cyanogen Update For Oneplus Changes Default Home Page To Bing 86

ourlovecanlastforeve writes: Nestled into GSMArena's report on the Cyanogen OS 12.1 update for Oneplus [ Note: an update that the story reports has since been pulled.] is this tasty bite: "...you'll find out that your Chrome homepage has been changed to Bing." Then it's casually dismissed with "Thankfully though, you can easily get rid of Microsoft's search engine by using Chrome settings." as if this were the most normal thing to have to do after an OTA update. Is this the new normal? Has Microsoft set a new precedent that it's okay to expect users to have to go searching through every setting and proactively monitor network traffic to make sure their data isn't being stolen, modified or otherwise manipulated?
Mozilla

Big Changes From Mozilla Mean Firefox Will Get Chrome Extensions 192

Mozilla announced yesterday a few high-level changes to the way Firefox and Firefox extensions will be developed; among them, the introduction of "a new extension API, called WebExtensions—largely compatible with the model used by Chrome and Opera—to make it easier to develop extensions across multiple browsers." (Liliputing has a nice breakdown of the changes.) ZDNet reports that at the same time, "Mozilla will be deprecating XPCOM and XUL, the foundations of its extension system, and many Firefox developers are ticked off at these moves."
Advertising

Amazon To Stop Accepting Flash Ads 221

An anonymous reader writes: Starting on September 1, Amazon will no longer support Flash across its advertising platform. The online retailer sites changes to browser support and a desire for customers to have a better experience as their reasons for blocking it. Google has been quite active recently in efforts to kill Flash; the Chrome beta channel has begun automatically pausing Flash, Google has converted ads from Flash to HTML5, and YouTube uses HTML5 by default now as well. Safari and Firefox also place limits on Flash content. Is Flash finally on its way out?
Firefox

Firefox Will Run Chrome Extensions 152

An anonymous reader writes: Today Mozilla announced some big changes to its extension support. Their new addon API, WebExtensions, is mostly compatible with the extension model used by Chrome and Opera. In short, this means we'll soon see cross-platform browser extensions. They say, "For some time we've heard from add-on developers that our APIs could be better documented and easier to use. In addition, we've noticed that many Firefox add-on developers also maintain a Chrome, Safari, or Opera extension with similar functionality. We would like add-on development to be more like Web development: the same code should run in multiple browsers according to behavior set by standards, with comprehensive documentation available from multiple vendors."
Security

Facebook Intern Gets Preemptive Ax For Exposing Security Flaw 103

Engadget reports that Harvard student Aran Khanna, who was about to begin an internship at Facebook, had that internship yanked after he created (and took down, but evidently too slowly for the company's taste) a browser plug-in that exposed a security flaw in Facebook, by allowing users to discover the location of other users when they use the Messenger app. Surely Khanna won't be jobless or internship-less for long. (Don't expect the app to work now; it's still in the Chrome store as a historical artifact, though, and at GitHub.)
Input Devices

Ask Slashdot: Why Is the Caps Lock Key Still So Prominent On Keyboards? 698

Esther Schindler writes: The developers at .io are into tracking things, I guess. In any case, a few weeks back they decided to track team performance in terms of keyboard and mouse activity during the working day. They installed a simple Chrome plugin on every Macbook and collected some statistics. For instance, developers have fewer keypresses than editors and managers—around 4k every day. Managers type more than 23k characters per day. And so on. Some pretty neat statistics.

But the piece that jumped out at me was this: "What's curious—the least popular keys are Capslock and Right Mouse Button. Somewhere around 0.1% of all keypresses together. It's time to make some changes to keyboards." I've been whining about this for years. Why is it that the least-used key on my keyboard is not just in a prominent position, but also bigger than most other keys? I can I invest in a real alternate keyboard with a different layout (my husband's a big fan of the Kinesis keyboards, initially to cope with carpal tunnel). But surely it's time to re-visit the standard key layout? What keys would you eliminate or re-arrange?
Chrome

Chrome Extension Thwarts User Profiling Based On Typing Behavior 61

An anonymous reader writes: Per Thorsheim, the founder of PasswordsCon, created and trained a biometric profile of his keystroke dynamics using the Tor browser at a demo site. He then switched over to Google Chrome and not using the Tor network, and the demo site correctly identified him when logging in and completing a demo financial transaction. Infosec consultant Paul Moore came up with a working solution to thwart this type of behavioral profiling. The result is a Chrome extension called Keyboard Privacy, which prevents profiling of users by the way they type by randomizing the rate at which characters reach the DOM. A Firefox version of the plugin is in the works.
Google

Gmail Messages Can Now Self-Destruct 204

New submitter Amarjeet Singh writes: Dmail is a Chrome extension developed by the people behind Delicious, the social bookmarking app/extension. This extension allows you to set a self-destruct timer on your emails. You can use Dmail to send emails from Gmail as usual, but you will now have a button which can set an self destruct timer of an hour, a day or a week. Dmail claims it will also unlock a feature that won't allow forwarding, meaning only the person you sent your message to will be able to see it.
Firefox

Firefox Will Soon Show You Which Tabs Are Making Noise, and Let You Mute Them 151

An anonymous reader writes: Mozilla is working on identifying Firefox tabs that are currently playing audio. The feature will show an icon if a tab is making sounds and let the user mute the playback. It's worth noting that while Chrome has had audio indicators for more than a year now, it still doesn't let you easily mute tabs. The option is available in Google's browser, but it's not enabled by default (you have to turn on the #enable-tab-audio-muting flag in chrome://flags/).
Chrome

Chrome 44 Launches With Tweaks To Push Messaging and Notifications 67

An anonymous reader writes: Google has launched Chrome 44 for Windows, Mac, and Linux with new developer tools. Aside from a host of security fixes, this release focuses mainly on developer features. The API for push notifications was updated to match the specification, a new implementation of multi-column layout was added, and they've extended support for Unicode escapes in strings. The full changelog notes a number of performance improvements as well.
Microsoft

Microsoft Edge Performance Evaluated 132

An anonymous reader writes: Now that Windows 10 is close to launch, Anandtech has put Microsoft's new browser, Edge, through a series of tests to see how it stacks up against other browsers. Edge has shown significant improvements since January. It handily beats Chrome and Firefox in Google's Octane 2.0 benchmark, and it managed the best score on the Sunspider benchmark as well. But Chrome and Firefox both still beat Edge in other tests, by small margins in the Kraken 1.1 and HTML5Test benchmarks, and larger ones in WebXPRT and Oort Online. The article says, "It is great to see Microsoft focusing on browser performance again, and especially not sitting idle since January, since the competition in this space has not been idle either."
Cellphones

Ask Slashdot: Measuring (and Constraining) Mobile Data Use? 129

An anonymous reader writes: I've carried a smart phone for several years, but for much of that time it's been (and I suspect this is true for anyone for whom money is an object) kept pretty dumb — at least for anything more data-intensive than Twitter and the occasional map checking. I've been using more of the smart features lately (Google Drive and Keep are seductive.) Since the data package can be expensive, though, and even though data is cheaper than it used to be, that means I don't check Facebook often, or upload pictures to friends by email, unless I'm in Wi-Fi zone (like home, or a coffee shop, etc). Even so, it seems I'm using more data than I realized, and I'd like to keep it under the 2GB allotment I'm paying for. I used to think half a gig was generous, but now I'm getting close to that 2GB I've paid for, most months.

This makes me a little paranoid, which leads to my first question: How accurate are carriers' own internal tools for measuring use, and do you recommend any third-party apps for keeping track of data use? Ideally, I'd like a detailed breakdown by app, over time: I don't think I'm at risk for data-stealing malware on my phone (the apps I use are either built-in, or plain-vanilla ones from Google's store, like Instagram, Twitter's official client, etc.), but of course really well-crafted malware would be tough to guard against or to spot. And even if they can be defeated, more and more sites (Facebook, for one) now play video just because I've rolled over a thumbnail.
Read on for second part of the question.
Windows

Ask Slashdot: Are Post-Install Windows Slowdowns Inevitable? 517

blackest_k writes: I recently reinstalled Windows 7 Home on a laptop. A factory restore (minus the shovelware), all the Windows updates, and it was reasonably snappy. Four weeks later it's running like a slug, and now 34 more updates to install. The system is clear of malware (there are very few additional programs other than chrome browser). It appears that Windows slows down Windows! Has anyone benchmarked Windows 7 as installed and then again as updated? Even better has anybody identified any Windows update that put the slug into sluggish? Related: an anonymous reader asks: Our organization's PCs are growing ever slower, with direct hard-drive encryption in place, and with anti-malware scans running ever more frequently. The security team says that SSDs are the only solution, but the org won't approve SSD purchases. It seems most disk scanning could take place after hours and/or under a lower CPU priority, but the security team doesn't care about optimization, summarily blaming sluggishness on lack of SSDs. Are they blowing smoke?
Yahoo!

The Next Java Update Could Make Yahoo Your Default Search Provider 328

itwbennett writes: At the company's shareholder meeting on Wednesday, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer announced a partnership with Oracle that could result in Yahoo becoming your default search provider in your browser. Starting this month, when users are prompted to update to the next version of Java, they'll be asked to make Yahoo their default search engine on Chrome (and Internet Explorer, for what it's worth). And, according to a Wall Street Journal report, the button will be checked by default, so if you aren't looking out for it, you might unwittingly find yourself a Yahoo user.
Chromium

Google Criticized For 'Opaque' Audio-Listening Binary In Debian Chromium 85

An anonymous reader writes: Google has fallen under criticism for including a compiled audio-monitoring binary in Chromium for Debian. A report was logged at Debian's bug register on Tuesday noting the presence of a non-auditable 'hotword' module in Chromium 43. The module facilitates Google's "OK, Google" functionality, which listens for that phrase via a Chrome user's microphone and attempts afterwards to interpret the user's instructions as a search query. Matt Giuca from the Chromium development team responded after the furore developed, disclaiming Google from any responsibility from auditing Chromium code, but promising clearer controls over the feature in release 45.
Chrome

Ask Slashdot: Options After Google Chrome Discontinues NPAPI Support? 208

An anonymous reader writes: I've been using Google Chrome almost exclusively for more than 3 years. I stopped using Mozilla Firefox because it was becoming bloated and slow, and I migrated all my bookmarks etc. to Chrome. Now Chrome plans to end NPAPI support — which means that I will not be able to access any sites that use Java, and I need this for work. I tried going back to Firefox for a couple of days but it still seems slow — starting it takes time, even the time taken to load a page seems more than Chrome. So what are my options now? Export all my bookmarks and go back to Mozilla Firefox and just learn to live with the performance drop? Or can I tweak Firefox performance in any way? FWIW, I am on a Windows 7 machine at work.
Chrome

Chrome Beta Now Automatically Pauses Less Important Flash Content 98

An anonymous reader writes: Google today detailed a very interesting initiative in partnership with Adobe: The two have been working to make Flash content more power-efficient in Chrome. Available now in the browser's beta channel, Chrome will use less power by simply choosing to play less Flash content on the page. Here's how the feature works: Chrome beta will automatically pause Flash content that isn't "central to the webpage" while keeping central content playing without interruption. The company offers an obvious example: Animations on the side will be paused while the video you're trying to watch will be unaffected.