Tsunami Trojan multiplies Mac malware misfortunes
By Stephen WITHERS
As if multiple versions of the Flashback Trojan (including one that disables the malware check built into Mac OS X's file quarantine system) weren't enough, security software companies ESET and Sophos say a new piece of Mac malware based on the Kaiten Trojan for Linux has been discovered.
Tsunami appears to be primarily a tool for mounting DDOS (distributed denial of service) attacks, but it also has the ability to execute shell commands (effectively providing remote control of the computer) and to download additional files, which could include more malware or updates for Tsunami itself.
What nobody seems to be saying is how Tsunami presents itself - after all the nature of a Trojan is that it poses as one think while actually carrying out a completely different function.
So at the moment, we don't know what to look out for. Not a very satisfactory state of affairs, especially for those who don't use antivirus software on their Macs. At least Sophos offers its Mac software free of charge for home use.
Postscript: Intego describes Tsunami as a "hacker tool" that "requires installation" - something very different to a Trojan. Maybe that's why the other companies didn't describe Tsunami passing itself off as providing some other functionality, which is the defining characteristic of a Trojan.
|| Send feedback »||Permalink|
iPad rivals: Thrice bitten, still not shy
By David BRAUE
After the iPad appeared last year and defied critics’ initial scepticism by selling in the squillions, it was inevitable that Apple’s competitors would try to cash in on its success with tablets of their own. Yet I don’t think even Apple could have known how spectacularly its competitors would end up failing – even without its involvement.
HP’s TouchPad, anticipated both because it was a promising new product and the tablet incarnation of a mobile operating system that had by all reports been not bad at all, famously imploded within days of its Australian launch, forcing Harvey Norman to push its stock out the door at irresistible prices.
Recognising that large stocks of non-iPads represented a significant inventory risk, Harvey Norman later began a promotion in which it would give away a Toshiba tablet with the purchase of a Toshiba laptop. Not only does that kind of put a bullet in the head of that whole tablet-as-a-laptop-replacement thing, but it shows just how hard the iPad has made things for everyone else. Tablets have become the new fries, as in “would you like fries with that?”
It has proved extremely hard for rival tablets to get out of the iPad's shadow; turns out that if you offer a rival that's only almost as good as an iPad, people just buy an iPad.
More recently, Telstra has killed off its T-Touch Tab, just a year after its launch. Apparently, consumers are more sophisticated than Telstra believes – and haven’t really warmed to a stripped-down, underpowered tablet with terrible battery life and a touch screen so flaky it’s likely to make you throw it off a bridge. I've already opined at ZDNet that our carriers are missing the boat with their lowest-common-denominator, and Telstra's concession to Apple hardly changes that.
Sony, thankfully, has aimed a bit higher, this week pushing its Tablet S into the shops and showing that the company still isn’t afraid to toy with the prospect of unmitigated disaster.
The S tablet is like most other Android tablets out there, but with a slightly smaller screen. It runs Android 3.1 ‘Honeycomb’, which by all accounts provides a great user experience but has stuff-all applications optimised for it. It costs the same as the iPad, which some have warned is not really a strategy to take if you’re trying to compete with a powerful market incumbent.
So far, it sounds pretty much like a Motorola Xoom or Acer Iconia with a tier-1 badge on it. But, and this is the most important thing, this tablet is also basically a PlayStation you can carry around with you. Just like on a PSP, you can download PlayStation games and while away your time pretending the S tablet has real game controls rather than slapping pictures of controls on the clear glass screen.
...but if it can behave like something else altogether, could that make a difference?
Control issues aside, this is a great distinguishing feature and one that is exclusive to Sony, whose PlayStation franchise remains hugely popular. Sony is apparently also considering ways to bring its PlayStation environment to other devices, too, although if I were Sony – and, just for the record, I’m not – I wouldn’t be rushing to give my competitors the one thing that makes my tablet truly unique.
Whether or not this approach will fly, I cannot yet say; it seems to me most people who are interested in playing PlayStation games while on the go already have a PSP. That said, I can imagine the ability to play good games on the tablet will appeal to many buyers who need a tablet anyway, don’t want an iPad, would happily plug in their tablet to their TV for a good gaming experience, and will value the extra little things Sony has packed into its device. It’s like getting a double-yolked egg: you’re having eggs anyways but that nice little extra doesn’t hurt at all.
That doesn’t mean we won’t see the S tablet pushed through Harvey Norman’s clearance bins if it fails to take off in the season’s Christmas season. But in a world filled with cheap Chinese knockoffs that suffer from terrible battery life and other nuisances, it’s good to know at least one company is stuffing in extra goodness for consumers.
Research In Motion tried the opposite approach, taking features out and hobbling its otherwise respectable PlayBook with a BlackBerry umbilical and the inability to check normal email. Judging by RIM’s recent disastrous results and a dismal outlook for the future, it could be the death of the company.
So much for thinking different.
Even the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, which apparently offers little extra value-add except its ability to do an extremely convincing impression of the iPad, is now looking iffy here. Turns out consumers actually like this device; maybe “slavishly” copying the iPad, if done correctly, is the only way to get leverage in this market after all. Apple’s attack on Samsung shows exactly who Apple considers its biggest problem at this point in time. If Apple gets stuck into Sony, that would be the best indication that it’s on the right track after all.
What killer extra features would convince you to buy a tablet other than the iPad? Has Sony nailed it?
|| 1 feedback »||Permalink|
The Money Shot is the Holy Grail. You Must Be Prepared Though.
By David HAGUE
I find one of the most rewarding types of photography or video making is that of shooting sport. When you get the money shot, there is a feeling of great elation knowing you have “nailed it”.
This can takes hours, days or even weeks at times, and whilst in very rare cases, the financial rewards can be great, the satisfaction awards are even greater, especially if your peers miss the same shot!
Just as in anything, there is an element of luck involved, primarily being at the right place at the right time; but of equal importance is knowing a) your equipment intimately b) knowing the sport and c) observation.
With a), there is nothing worse than getting the shot but finding that your gear was set wrong so the subject is out of focus, badly lit or worse, you thought you had the shot but something misfired (flat battery, full memory card etc).
The second, b), is all about being aware of what happens in the particular sport you are shooting. There are always signs that ‘something’ is about to happen such as a tyre squeal, a penalty given, a large fish hooks up and so on.
Observation is simply that. Keep your eyes and ears open. It takes practice, but with time you can be looking through the viewfinder with one eye and scanning the scene with the other believe it or not.
In the end, it is all about setting the conditions to maximise the chances of getting The Shot. And just as a fisherman checks his gear before he goes fishing so that equipment failure doesn’t cause the one that got away, so should a camera or video buff check theirs.
Yesterday (Sunday 23rd October 2011) in the Malaysian MotoGP, Marco Simoncelli was sadly killed in a horrific accident. I haven’t seen any stills, but the video which has been shown on TV a few times is sickening. I personally don’t count this sort of imagery as a ‘money shot’. The same applies to the still last week of Dan Wheldon dying at the IndyCar race in Las Vegas.
No criticism of journos that cover these things, I just wanted to make my personal view known.
|| Send feedback »||Permalink|
Carbon exemption for data centres? No way.
By Ian GRAYSON
It appears the federal government may opt to exempt cloud computing service providers from the contentious carbon tax. What a silly idea.
According to a report in The Australian today, a spokesman for the Minister said the government "continues to review the adequacy of existing regulatory settings following the emergence of all new technologies and/or services". The bottom line is that, while the government has no plans for exemption right now, it's leaving the door open.
The issue has emerged as a result of reports from a new industry lobby group, the Outsourcing Council Asia Pacific, which claims around $37.5 million of potential investing in hosting facilities could be put in jeopardy by the tax. That's a lot of data centre space that could end up being built overseas rather than here.
But hang on a minute. Take a look at the amount of data centre space that is being built in Australia - carbon tax or no carbon tax. Multinational companies such as Fujitsu and IBM, carriers such as Telstra, Optus and Macquarie Telecom, and specialist providers such as Next DC are all pouring millions of dollars into facilities.
Far from being put off by the carbon tax, many are embracing new technologies as a result of it - just the effect the tax is supposed to have.
For example, Macquarie Telecom and Next DC are both investing in tri-gen power generation plants. For every megawatt of power they produce, these gas-powered gizmos belch around 50 per cent less carbon than a coal-fired power station. The heat generated is also used within the data centre's cooling system, further reducing the overall carbon overhead.
Such investments are spurred by the carbon tax and will make such Aussie data centres among the most efficient in the world.
Take away the tax and you take away the incentive for companies to embrace such innovations - and that does nothing to help Australia become a smarter nation.
Leave the tax in place and let it achieve what it's supposed to achieve.
|| Send feedback »||Permalink|
Party Play - the real game-changer in Apple’s iOS5?
By Adam TURNER
There’s a lot of talk about Siri, but does multi-player action speak louder than words?
Siri is an amazing technological achievement but I think it will be a sleeper. There’s still work to be done – especially outside the US – and I’m not convinced it’s worth breaking a two-year contract on an iPhone 4 to upgrade to the iPhone 4S just for Siri. For now I’m actually more interested in the new Party Play features available to the iPhone 4S and iPad 2 – both of which are blessed with the powerful A5 processor.
Firemint’s Real Racing 2 shows off Party Play’s potential, letting four iGadgets drivers race side-by-side on your television via an Apple TV. As a fan of Mario Kart on Nintendo’s Wii, I must say I’m keen to see how Party Play develops. Seeing Party Play is also perhaps the first time I’ve caught myself seriously considering whether it’s worth upgrading my old iPad 1 to an iPad 2 for the A5 processor.
Once I’ve eventually got a house full of gadgets packing the A5 processor, it will be much harder to justify spending serious money on the next generation Wii and its expensive games. In my house playing the Wii is a social family event – I won’t let Mr Almost 8 sit there on his own and play games for hours. As Apple’s iOS5 platform moves further down the multi-player path, the Apple TV may well usurp the Wii’s place in my lounge room.
|| Send feedback »||Permalink|