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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 9th Mar 2016

Don’t be disappointed when you look at Samsung’s newest phone.

At first glance, the Galaxy S7 looks almost exactly like the phone Samsung gave us last year, except for the rounded back and slightly larger display on the curved-screen “Edge” model.

Boring, right?


Here’s the real story with the Galaxy S7.

Samsung made huge, significant improvements to all the stuff you really care about. It’s water resistant. It has a bigger battery that charges quickly. It has a memory card slot so you can expand the storage. A lot of the clunkiness has been stripped out of the software. It has the best camera ever put on a smartphone.

And, like last year, the Galaxy S7 is more beautiful and unique looking than the iPhone.

What else could you want from a phone?

Aside from the qualms I have with Android phones in general (more on that later), the Galaxy S7 is about as perfect as a phone can get. It starts around $690 and the curved-screen Edge model starts around $790, but pricing will vary depending on your carrier. You can pre-order it now and it’ll be in stores on March 11.

Design and hardware
It’s an amazing feat of engineering that Samsung was able to build a phone this beautiful, yet this functional. Even though it has an all metal and glass design, Samsung figured out how to make the Galaxy S7 waterproof for up to 30 minutes under a meter of water, without needing to seal the charging port with a plug like on other water resistant phones. If you’re scratching your head over how Samsung out-engineered Apple on that one, you’re not alone. But it works. It’s the kind of feature that should be standard on all premium phones.

Don't be afraid if the Galaxy S7 gets wet.

I tested the Edge version of the S7, which has a larger, 5.5-inch screen than the standard version. That’s the same size as the screen on the iPhone 6s Plus (the phone I normally use), but Samsung’s design is much more svelte and easier to hold than Apple’s unwieldy phone. When I carry my iPhone 6s Plus in my pocket, it feels like I have a slab of metal stabbing into my hip. The S7 Edge is barely noticeable.

The curved screen doesn’t do much more than look pretty and give you the illusion there aren’t any borders around the display. Samsung did include a slide-over menu that has shortcuts to your favorite apps, contacts, and news bulletins, but I never found that feature very useful. It’s best to just switch it off.

If you’re going to get the Galaxy S7, you might as well spend the extra $100 and get the Edge. It’s that good.

You can charge the Galaxy S7 wirelessly.

The battery is impressive too. While last year’s Galaxy model could barely make it a day on a charge, the S7’s battery lasted well over a day for me. Plus, you can charge the phone using a standard wireless charger, which is handy if you want to keep one at your desk and top up during the day. It also has a wired quick-charging feature, which charges your battery a few times faster than normal.

The latter feature is probably the most important. I woke up the other day and realized I forgot to charge my phone overnight and I was at a dangerously low 35%. So I plugged the S7 into the quick charger while I got ready. I was at 85% by the time I left for work less than an hour later. Perfect.

The best camera
Samsung has leapfrogged the competition with the Galaxy S7 camera. Simply put, it’s the best camera ever put on a smartphone.

It has the widest aperture of any smartphone camera, which means it can pull in more light for better shots in dark settings. But my favorite feature is the quick auto-focus, which lets you take photos faster without having to worry about missing a shot. By comparison, my iPhone feels like it takes an eternity to auto-focus, or I have to deliberately double-tap the screen to get it to focus on what I want. With the Galaxy S7, I just point and shoot without waiting.

Tech Insider’s camera expert Rafi Letzter put the S7 camera through its paces, and it beat the iPhone 6s (our previous choice for best smartphone camera) in just about every way. Check out his camera comparison for even more details.

Over the years, my problem with Samsung phones has been that they usually come packed with far too many complicated features and quirks in the software that make it difficult to find what you want to do.

Almost all of that has been stripped out of the Galaxy S7. The software is clean and easy to navigate, and Samsung did a good job at making sure a lot of the junk has either been hidden or removed entirely.

The screen is always on. (You can customize what you see too.)

There is one handy feature Samsung did add though. The lock screen stays on with basic information like the time, date, and incoming notifications, so you don’t need to constantly switch on your phone to see what’s happening. Only part of the screen lights up, so it uses almost none of the battery.

Other than that, the Galaxy S7 feels like any other Android phone. The Galaxy S7 isn’t going to revolutionize the way you use a smartphone, but that’s ok. By now, smartphone innovation has matured to the point where we only see incremental improvements every year, and the Galaxy S7 made significant improvements to all the features that matter.

Virtual reality
Ever since I tried an early version of the Oculus Rift in 2012, I’ve had a tough time explaining just how amazing and transformative VR is as a computing platform. While the high-end VR headsets from Oculus and HTC will cost several hundred dollars, Samsung teamed up with Oculus to give you a similar experience for just 99 bucks.

The Gear VR headset turns the S7 into a virtual reality machine, and it’s the most important distinguishing feature Samsung’s Galaxy phones have over other devices. Although the resolution isn’t as crisp as high-end VR headsets, Gear VR is more than worth the extra $99. (You can get one for free if you pre-order the S7 now.)

samsung gear 360 galaxy s7 and gear vrAntonio Villas-Boas/Tech Insider
The Samsung Gear VR. Samsung is also making a VR camera called the Gear 360. It's coming soon.

There are already a handful of interesting games and VR videos in the Oculus app store, but many of them are in the experimental phases. VR is a very new platform, and developers are still experimenting.

But boy is it a blast to use. As crazy as it sounds, my favorite VR app so far is Netflix. It puts you in a virtual living room in a snowy cabin in the woods. In front of you is a big-screen TV that runs the standard Netflix app you see on smart TVs or streaming boxes like Apple TV or Roku. You really do get the sense that you’re binge-watching the latest season of “House of Cards” in someone’s exclusive vacation home. Incredible.

Words don’t do the VR experience justice, and Samsung has the best, most accessible VR platform available today. It’s your entry into a whole new world of computing and entertainment. Try it.

The problem with Android phones
I just said a bunch of nice things about the Galaxy S7, and I mean every single one of them. The phone is incredible.

But there’s still one thing that keeps me from recommending it over the iPhone, and that’s Apple’s key advantage to the iPhone’s roaring success over the years: iOS. iOS is simply the best smartphone platform. It has the best apps. The best developer support, and the most consistent updates throughout the lifespan of your device.

You can’t say that about Samsung phones. Since Samsung makes a lot of modifications to Android, it can take months to get the latest updates, assuming you get them at all. The newest version of Android came out last fall, and only a small fraction of Samsung phones started getting it this month. (Only Google’s own Nexus phones get updates as soon as they’re available.)

For a lot of people, that may seem like an insignificant complaint, but when security flaws like last year’s major “Stagefright” scare hit Android, or when a hot new app launches only on the iPhone, I can’t feel confident using a smartphone platform that’s always a step or two behind iOS.

The Galaxy S7 is Samsung’s best phone yet, and easily a strong contender for the best phone available today. If you want an Android phone and don’t mind spending a lot of cash (you can get a lot of great Android phones for about half the price of the S7), this is the first device you should look at.

Source: uk.businessinsider.com
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 8th Mar 2016

Most users know their online activity is being tracked. They’re not OK with it, yet most of them do nothing about it. Those are the general conclusions of a new quiz entitled Are you cyber savvy?, made by Kaspersky Lab.

The security firm says consumers don’t know how to protect their privacy online.

The majority of users (79 percent) don’t like being tracked, but 41 percent do nothing about it. Nine percent didn’t even know they were being tracked.

Twenty-seven percent use their browser’s privacy mode, and 11 percent use a special plug in, Kaspersky Lab says, before giving tips on how to stay safe online:

Disable auto add-on installation. Block suspicious websites and pop-ups, make SSL certificate checks compulsory and block third party cookies.

A lot of software (especially freeware) come bundled with other software. That other software is sometimes called bloatware and basically installs toolbars, plugins and extensions that often collect user data.

Use HTTPS sites whenever you can. Dedicate a specific browser for primary online services.

Use VPN traffic encryption

Use private features offered in various security programs and browsers.

David Emm, principal security researcher at Kaspersky Lab says, "Consumers are uncomfortable with the fact that their online activities are being tracked. And who can blame them? With tracking data, it’s possible for advertisers, or even malicious third parties, to peer into the life of a person -- from where they go, to the sites they browse. However, the crux of the problem is that many users simply aren’t cyber-savvy enough when it comes to protecting themselves from online tracking. They may be concerned, but do nothing about it. Even worse, they may not understand that they are putting their privacy at risk at all".

Source: betanews.com
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 8th Mar 2016

Apple CEO Tim Cook, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Alphabet CEO Larry Page, and Napster creator Sean Parker all attended an exclusive event where the "main topic" was preventing Donald Trump from getting the Republican nomination for president, reports The Huffington Post.

That event, the American Enterprise Institute's annual World Forum, is a conference hosted on a private island off the coast of Georgia.

In addition to those tech leaders, attendees this year included Republican Party leaders like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, former presidential adviser Karl Rove, and House Speaker Paul Ryan.

The forum is closed to the press, so it's not clear to what degree the tech leaders actually discussed Trump, whose controversial bid for the Republican nomination in the general election has alienated many in the party.

The report also says that Cook got into a debate with Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas on the subject of Apple's ongoing battle with the FBI and cellphone encryption. According to the report, Cotton was "hostile" toward Cook in support of the FBI to the point where onlookers were "a little uncomfortable."

Still, as The Huffington Post reports, conservative political commentator Bill Kristol sent an e-mail dispatch from the event identifying Trump as "a specter" haunting the World Forum. Notably, Rove reportedly presented findings from a focus group suggesting that the public doesn't see Trump as "presidential."

Business leaders attend events like this all the time, so it's dangerous to assume their political leanings from their presence — Cook may well have made the trip just to get in to those kinds of arguments. But it certainly shows the political weight that Silicon Valley's top leaders command.

Source: uk.businessinsider.com
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 8th Mar 2016

The head of GCHQ has called for greater co-operation between spies and tech companies in dealing with challenges posed by encryption.

Robert Hannigan said the encoding of data was being misused by a small number of people.

He said the rational response was not to think encryption was bad, but to look for pragmatic ways of responding.

Mr Hannigan was speaking as the FBI engages in a legal battle with Apple over the firm's encryption systems.

At an event at MIT in Boston, Mr Hannigan, director of the UK government's communications intelligence agency, said it should be up to politicians - not companies or spies - to set the parameters.

On his first day in charge of GCHQ in November 2014, Mr Hannigan wrote an opinion piece for the Financial Times accusing US tech companies of becoming the "command and control network of choice" for terrorist groups.

A year and a half later in Boston, Mr Hannigan conceded the comments caused a bigger stir than he expected and said they were wrongly seen as an attack on the tech industry.

The tone of his latest intervention was conciliatory, focusing on the need for government agencies and companies to work together to find solutions.

"We need a new relationship between the tech sector, academia, civil society and government agencies. We should be bridging the divide, sharing ideas and building a constructive dialogue in a less highly-charged atmosphere," he told the audience.


Apple has designed phones with strong encryption which made it impossible for the company to retrieve data for the state, including in the case of one of those involved in the San Bernadino attacks.

The company and its supporters have stressed that creating any form of "key" for the government to unlock data would also create a vulnerability for hackers and others to exploit.

Mr Hannigan did not mention Apple directly but emphasised the way in which GCHQ supported strong encryption because of the agency's role in protecting British data from hackers and other states.

He also pointed to the agency's pioneering work such as that of Alan Turing in World War Two who worked not just on breaking codes but also on securing speech through encryption.

Apple's position on encryption is strongly supported by its customers and other tech firms

Mr Hannigan said two previously secret papers from 1970 by James Ellis, a leading GCHQ cryptographer, were being declassified which showed the early work on developing what became the now widely used system of public key cryptography.

That kind of innovation was what Mr Hannigan said he wanted to see today in dealing with the modern challenges surrounding encryption.

"The solution is not, of course, that encryption should be weakened, let alone banned. But neither is it true that nothing can be done without weakening encryption," he said, adding that it was wrong to see every attempt to tackle the misuse of encryption by criminals and terrorists as a "backdoor".

Mr Hannigan reiterated that the British government position - as set out in the new investigatory powers bill - would not outlaw the type of end-to-end encryption which is at the heart of the row between Apple and the FBI.

Drawing the boundaries

Instead, he said, it will demand companies take reasonable and practical steps to provide data when demanded.
"Within the parameters set by legislation, it should be possible for technical experts to sit down together and work out solutions to particular manifestations of the abuse of encryption."

Such conversations were more common before the Snowden revelations, officials say, but since then companies have withdrawn and referred requests to their lawyers.

The decision about where to draw the boundaries was not one for either the companies or the spies, Mr Hannigan said, but instead for lawmakers.

"It is not for me, as an intelligence official and civil servant, or for a law enforcement officer to make these broad judgements, whether about the use of data in general or encryption in particular; nor is it for tech company colleagues nor even for independent academics.

"Since the trade-offs are for society as a whole, it must surely be for elected representatives to decide the parameters of what is acceptable."

Antony Walker, deputy chief executive of techUK, an organisation which represents tech firms, said the solution lay in government, academia and industry working together.

"These are hugely complex issues," he said. "This speech makes it very clear that there are no easy answers. It is a realistic assessment of the trade-offs that need to be made to secure our digital world.

"We must not jeopardise our long-term security."

Source: bbc.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 7th Mar 2016

Over 40 percent of organisations do not know where their data is stored, according to a report by the Institute of Directors (IoD) and Barclays based on a survey of 980 IoD members.

The survey found that 59 percent of respondents now outsource data storage, underlining how popular third-party cloud environments have become.

However, a worrying 43 percent do not know where their data is stored.

"This is a truly frightening statistic. It effectively means that businesses are losing control of their organisation’s data, which may well be the biggest asset of a business,” said the IoD.

The report also found that under a third of respondents do not refer cyber incidents to the police, despite the major risks they pose.
Professor Richard Benham, author of the report, warned that companies must wake up to the serious nature of cyber threats and make cyber security a boardroom-level issue.

“No shop owner would think twice about phoning the police if they were broken into, yet for some reason businesses don’t seem to think a cyber breach warrants the same response,” he said.

“Our report shows that cyber security must stop being treated as the domain of the IT department and should be a boardroom priority. Businesses need to develop a cyber security policy, educate their staff, review supplier contracts and think about cyber insurance.”

The survey found that, despite this risk, only 57 percent of firms have a formal cyber security strategy in place, while just 49 percent provide cyber security training and awareness for staff.

The IoD explained that this is a major failing as human error is often at the root of many cyber incidents.

“Any cyber security strategy should include awareness training to be effective. The biggest risk as technology becomes more sophisticated is human failure,” the organisation said.

The need for such training was underlined by the fact that 71 percent of respondents had received bogus invoices from crooks attempting to elicit payments. This is an increasingly common tactic among scammers, who often try to pass themselves off as top executives to expedite payment.

This type of attack hit Snapchat earlier this week after an email purporting to come from the CEO triggered the leak of staff payment information.

Only 20 percent of companies have any form of cyber insurance, despite the financial risks, but Benham believes that this will rise to 90 percent by the time the next survey is carried out.

"With the threat of cyber attacks becoming more frequent and some household names providing credible case studies, it is no surprise that many are predicting that cyber insurance cover will become a ‘must have’ for businesses," he said.

Source: v3.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 7th Mar 2016

TED Talks have become famous for passing on insightful, inspiring and useful advice and information, often from the brightest and best in their respective fields.

V3 has put together seven great technology talks that may prove illuminating, covering key IT topics from security to big data.

1. What's wrong with your pa$$word?
Lorrie Faith Cranor, security researcher at Carnegie Mellon University, studied thousands of passwords, partly so you don't have to and partly to work out the common mistakes made by people and very often supposedly secure websites.

2. How giant websites design for you (and a billion others, too)
Margaret Gould Stewart, director of product design at Facebook, explains the painstaking care taken in producing even the tiniest of design changes in the world's most popular websites.

3. This is what happens when you reply to spam email
Comedian James Veitch explains what happens when you reply to spam emails, and takes us through the story of his hilarious correspondence with an email scammer.
Every business receives countless spam emails and, while we all ignore them, it's fascinating to find out what happens if you hit reply.

4. How we found the worst place to park in New York City - using big data
Data scientist Ben Wellington takes the audience through the frustrating but ultimately worthwhile journey he experienced with open government data in New York.
He asks how much more value to society this data could be if it was released in a consistent format. A must for anyone working with data, or excited by the potential value locked up in even seemingly trivial information.

5. The single biggest reason why startups succeed
Serial entrepreneur Bill Gross has seen and been involved with hundreds of startups in his career. In this talk, he presents his insight into why some fail, and some succeed. The results are surprising.
This will help any young company trying to find its feet, or anyone trying to launch a new product or idea in a larger organisation.

6. The internet is on fire
F-Secure CEO and security expert Mikko Hyppönen discusses internet privacy and how it affects our lives, often with dangerous consequences.

7. A year offline, what I have learned
Paul Miller explains what life was like after he disconnected from all forms of digitaltechnology, from smartphones to social media. Watch this if you've ever wanted to completely unplug from our hyper-connected world.

Source: v3.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 7th Mar 2016

As the head of software engineering at Apple, I think nothing is more important than the safety of all of our customers.

Even as we strive to deliver delightful experiences to users of iPhones, iPads and Macs, our team must work tirelessly to stay one step ahead of criminal attackers who seek to pry into personal information and even co-opt devices to commit broader assaults that endanger us all. Sadly, these threats only grow more serious and sophisticated over time.

In just the past 18 months, hackers have repeatedly breached the defenses of retail chains, banks and even the federal government, making off with the credit card information, Social Security numbers and fingerprint records of millions of people.

But the threat to our personal information is just the tip of the iceberg. Your phone is more than a personal device. In today's mobile, networked world, it's part of the security perimeter that protects your family and co-workers. Our nation's vital infrastructure — such as power grids and transportation hubs — becomes more vulnerable when individual devices get hacked. Criminals and terrorists who want to infiltrate systems and disrupt sensitive networks may start their attacks through access to just one person's smartphone.

That's why my team works so hard to stay ahead.

The encryption technology built into today's iPhone represents the best data security available to consumers. And cryptographic protections on the device don't just help prevent unauthorized access to your personal data — they're also a critical line of defense against criminals who seek to implant malware or spyware and to use the device of an unsuspecting person to gain access to a business, public utility or government agency.

Of course, despite our best efforts, nothing is 100 percent secure. Humans are fallible. Our engineers write millions of lines of code, and even the very best can make mistakes. A mistake can become a point of weakness, something for attackers to exploit. Identifying and fixing those problems are critical parts of our mission to keep customers safe. Doing anything to hamper that mission would be a serious mistake.

That's why it's so disappointing that the FBI, Justice Department and others in law enforcement are pressing us to turn back the clock to a less-secure time and less-secure technologies. They have suggested that the safeguards of iOS 7 were good enough and that we should simply go back to the security standards of 2013. But the security of iOS 7, while cutting-edge at the time, has since been breached by hackers. What's worse, some of their methods have been productized and are now available for sale to attackers who are less skilled but often more malicious.

To get around Apple's safeguards, the FBI wants us to create a backdoor in the form of special software that bypasses passcode protections, intentionally creating a vulnerability that would let the government force its way into an iPhone. Once created, this software — which law enforcement has conceded it wants to apply to many iPhones — would become a weakness that hackers and criminals could use to wreak havoc on the privacy and personal safety of us all.

I became an engineer because I believe in the power of technology to enrich our lives. Great software has seemingly limitless potential to solve human problems — and it can spread around the world in the blink of an eye. Malicious code moves just as quickly, and when software is created for the wrong reason, it has a huge and growing capacity to harm millions of people.

Security is an endless race — one that you can lead but never decisively win. Yesterday's best defenses cannot fend off the attacks of today or tomorrow. Software innovations of the future will depend on the foundation of strong device security. We cannot afford to fall behind those who would exploit technology in order to cause chaos. To slow our pace, or reverse our progress, puts everyone at risk.

This article was written by Craig Federighi from The Washington Post and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Read the original article on The Washington Post. Copyright 2016.

Source: uk.businessinsider.com
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 7th Mar 2016

Ransomware, a type of malware that encrypts all the data on your computer until you pay the attackers a ransom (often in bitcoins), has been a big problem for Windows users for years.

And now the first successful ransomware attack on Mac users occurred this weekend, using malware designed to lock files on a targeted computer three days after infection, reports Reuters' Jim Finkle. Targeted users could start seeing their files locked on Monday.

Finkle was told about the attack by security researchers at Palo Alto Networks.

While there have been previous reports of Mac users attacked by ransomware, such as an attack back in 2013; in that case, the attack was more or less faked.

Attackers were able to embed a little bit of code in the browser that made it look like the Mac (or Windows) machine was locked and encrypted when only the browser was affected, reported security researchers at Malwarebytes.

But it seemed only a matter of time before Macs would get their own ransomware. Security researchers have been writing more and more proof-of-concept Mac ransomware and a few successful attempts were shared by at least two different researchers last fall. The idea of proving and sharing such code is to allow Apple and others to fix the holes that would let real hackers get in.

The good news is that Apple may have developed a fix to stop this particular ransomware attack. This malware appears to have snuck into an app called Transmission, a way for people to share movies and other content via sharing tech called BitTorrent. Apple has come up with a way to block Macs from installing the infected version of this app.

The Transmission website carries a warning telling people to upgrade to a new version of the app immediately, and offers instructions to check if your Mac was infected.

The bad news is that, given the rise in popularity of Macs, particularly in businesses and other targets with deep pockets, this also might be just the beginning of ransomware in the wild for Macs, and comes into the your computer in other ways.

Source: uk.businessinsider.com
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 7th Mar 2016

TOR: Route your traffic through other users’ computers
What it does: Routes your traffic through other users’ computers.
What it doesn’t do: Keep you anonymous outside the TOR browser.

Using a VPN is just one option for obscuring your IP address. TOR is another. The service encrypts your traffic, and your IP address, before routing it through three randomly selected exit nodes. Everything is also re-encrypted at every step, making it nearly impossible for your Web traffic to be traced.

To get started, you’ll need to download the TOR browser, which is a modified version of Firefox. Use the browser when you want to avoid being tracked by your IP address.

Government agencies and hackers have occasionally managed to trace someone’s traffic over TOR, but so far, the problem has usually turned out to be related to user activity. For this reason, TOR also recommends that you do the following.

 - Don’t download torrents over TOR, because this will usually end up revealing your IP address one way or another.

 - Don’t enable any browser plugins in TOR, such as Adobe’s Flash, because they’ve been known to reveal IP addresses.

 - Use encrypted versions of sites, whenever possible. TOR comes with HTTPS Everywhere out-of-the-box for just this reason. This enables encryption on any and all sites that offer it.

 - Don’t open documents downloaded through TOR, at least not while online. These could access the Internet outside TOR and be used to trace your real IP address.

Using TOR to browse the Web is probably the simplest way to ensure your security, particularly if you only use it in situations when security is a must. There are ways your traffic can be traced through it, but that usually boils down to user error. It’s probably a good idea to only use TOR when it’s important to be anonymous, and use another browser for day-to-day computing.

When these powers combine…

As you can tell, there are many different ways you can keep yourself anonymous if you combine the proper tools. Here are just a few examples:

 - A VPN with Private Browsing. This will obscure your IP address from the outside world while also disabling your cookies and sign-ins.

 - TOR is a great way to browse the Web without being traced, and you can enable private browsing on that browser for yet another layer of protection.

 - A VPN with Ghostery enabled stops your IP from being traced, and lets you block scripts from tracking your online activity.

 - TOR with a VPN is great for the truly paranoid, as it stacks up as many layers as possible between you and the outside world.

Enable private browsing here and you’ve got yet another layer.

Any of these setups can go a long way toward making your Web activities completely anonymous.

Being anonymous isn’t easy
Of course, there’s always more you can do. For example, you could switch from Google — which famously tracks your search activity — to DuckDuckGo, which doesn’t. Moreover, if you’re using an unencrypted Wi-Fi connection, anyone nearby can sniff out your traffic and get a very good idea of what you’re up to online. Make sure your router is set up to encrypt your traffic, and be sure to browse only through a VPN when you must use an unencrypted connection.

The Internet was never designed for anonymous usage, which makes staying anonymous online a good deal of work. The above tools are a great starting point, but remaining anonymous in the long term depends on whether you keep up with the latest security news and ensure your software is up to date. Good luck, and stay safe out there!

Source: digitaltrends.com
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 7th Mar 2016

With a net worth of more than $87 billion, Bill Gates is still the richest person in the world.

It wasn't dumb luck that got him that spot – Gates is a smart, aggressive business mind who was never afraid to make enemies in his drive to take Microsoft to the top.

From Harvard dropout to an Albuquerque rental office to the top of the world, here's how Bill Gates turned Microsoft into a global force, and became a billionaire in the process.

William Henry Gates III was born in Seattle, Washington on October 28th, 1955, the son of a lawyer and a banking executive. Because of his suffix, his childhood nickname was "Trey."

Gates' parents were grooming him to be a lawyer. His parents enrolled him at the Lakeside School, a rigorous Seattle private high school that future Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen also attended.

But Lakeside is also where the course of Gates' life changed. In eighth grade, the Lakeside Mothers Club used cash from a rummage sale to give students access to a Teletype Model 30 computer hooked up to the General Electric mainframe. Gates fell in love with the idea of computers.

In fact, young Gates and Allen were so enamored with computers — programming them, just seeing how they ticked — that they got themselves banned from the Computer Center Corporation mainframe after they used bugs in its code to scam free computing time.

It didn't take long for Gates to figure out what computers could do for him. Tasked by Lakeside's administration to help use its computers to schedule classes, he secretly organized the schedules so his classes were full of the girls he was interested in.

Before leaving Lakeside, Gates and Allen had their first business venture together: Traf-O-Data, a computer to read information from city traffic counters and feed it to traffic engineers. It was only moderately successful, but it paved the way for Microsoft.

In 1973, with a score of 1590 out of 1600 on the SAT, Gates enrolled at Harvard. But he never had a major picked out or any real plans — he just ended up spending a lot of time fooling around with the school's computers.

Still, Gates made lots of connections at Harvard. Like fellow student Steve Ballmer. They lived in the same dorm, but only met in an economics class.

In 1974, everything changed. A company called MITS released the Altair 8800 — a breakthrough PC based on the Intel 8080 processor, which made it easier than ever for hobbyists and amateurs to code software.

Gates and Allen called up MITS to ask if they would be interested in a version of the BASIC programming language for the Altair 8800. Not that Gates and Allen had ever laid hands on an Altair 8800, but they wanted to see if it was something for which they could get paid.

Gates and Allen hacked together a version of BASIC for the Altair over a few weeks and flew to the MITS offices in Albuquerque to demonstrate it. MITS was impressed enough to hire the pair — and so, they moved to New Mexico. Gates never finished his studies at Harvard.

The duo named their partnership "Micro-soft" and opened a small office in Albuquerque. By the time the company was released from its corporate overlords at MITS and incorporated in late 1976, it was just plain old "Microsoft."

This is also around when young Gates got pulled over for a traffic violation in 1977, resulting in his famous mugshot. In 1979, the company moved to Bellevue, Washington.

In 1980, Gates' Harvard classmate Ballmer joined up with Microsoft. By 1988, Gates was relying on Ballmer as the company's Executive Vice President of Sales.

For most of Microsoft's first few years, the company was focused on writing new programming languages for the very new PC market. Gates was known as a very controlling kind of CEO, personally reviewing every line of code written by its early employees.

It was in 1980 that Gates would break out as a business superstar. When IBM needed an operating system for its forthcoming PC, it turned to Microsoft.

Gates hastily arranged for Microsoft to buy a startup working on an operating system called 86-DOS, or "Disk Operating System." It renamed the software to PC DOS and sold it to IBM for $50,000...

...but IBM didn't ask for the copyright to the software, and Gates never offered. It meant that Microsoft was free to sell MS-DOS, its own version of the operating system.

The success of the IBM PC inspired other tech companies to build their own personal computers, compatible with IBM's programs. To do that, they would need to deal with Gates and Microsoft.

It set the tone for the rest of Microsoft's growth. IBM, Compaq, Dell, and everybody else raced to build the computers — but they all needed DOS, and later, Windows software for the machines to work. It made Microsoft the center of the so-called PC revolution.

In 1983, Microsoft did $55 million in sales, making it the biggest company in the computer business. On March 13th, 1986, Microsoft went public at $21 per share, getting up to $28 by the end of the first day. Gates was a billionaire by 1987, at age 31.

Thanks to his shares in Microsoft, Gates was named as the world's richest person for the first time in 1995, and held the title until 2007. He won back the title in 2009, and then again in 2014 through the present.

Windows 1.0, first released in 1985, was also the beginning of Gates' longtime rivalry with Apple cofounder Steve Jobs. Jobs claimed that Microsoft stole the concept of a windowed, graphical user interface from Apple, and sued for copyright infringement. Microsoft won the case in 1993.

Gates is known as a competitive kind of guy — he doesn't like to lose. Under his leadership, Microsoft got very aggressive about using the popularity of Windows to push its growing library of other software, especially Office. Windows and Office ended up conquering the lucrative business PC market.

Even internally, Gates was known to verbally spar with his executives, forcing them to defend their decisions. He would routinely interrupt meetings with quips like "That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard!"

Despite being the only real alternative to Microsoft's dominance, even Apple couldn't keep the competition up for long. When Steve Jobs came back to Apple as CEO in 1997, he had no choice but to have his rival Gates appear on screen to announce that Microsoft made a company-saving $150 million investment in Apple — to boos from the audience.

And his aggression didn't make Gates many fans in the techie world: Early memes like this one, portraying Gates as one of Star Trek's dreaded Borg, were common.

Still, despite his famed long-term vision, Gates didn't get everything right. The hardcover version of his 1995 book "The Road Ahead" discounted the potential of the Internet — a position he fixed and addressed when it went to paperback.

And in 1998, Gates' aggressive stance got the company into a lot of trouble when the United States brought an antitrust case against Microsoft. It was resolved a few years later, with Microsoft agreeing to reform some of its business practices but escaping a potential break-up of the company.

In 2000, Gates decided to step aside and name Ballmer — by this point, the President of Microsoft — the new CEO, while he took a new role as Chief Software Architect. He still remained the face of the company, but he was done as a business leader.

In fact, Ballmer and Gates would routinely star in ridiculous "comedy" videos intended for Microsoft employees. Like this "Austin Powers" parody.

In 2006, Gates stepped aside as Chief Software Architect, announcing that while he'd stay at Microsoft part-time as Chairman, he'd be focusing on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation — the largest private charitable organization in the world, managed by Gates, his wife, and the famed investor Warren Buffett.

Since then Gates has focused his massive wealth and influence on solving big problems like access to clean water in the developing world, sustainable energy, and world hunger.

Plus, Gates keeps busy managing personal investments, like his stake in the Four Seasons hotel chain.

By the end of Steve Jobs' life, he wasn't exactly friends with Bill Gates, but they had largely come to terms.

Despite giving away billions in charitable donations, Bill Gates is estimated to have a personal net worth of more than $87 billion.

And in 2014, Gates decided to step down as Chairman of Microsoft, taking a new role as Technology Advisor to Ballmer's successor, Satya Nadella. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Source: uk.businessinsider.com
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