Got Malicious Chrome Extensions?

If you are like most Chrome is a staple in our everyday internet lives as well as the extension in Second Life web browser.Your web browser is your first line of defense against all manner of cyber attacks. But some disturbing reports of malicious Chrome extensions that resist most manual removal efforts have led me to wonder just how good Google is at keeping malicious extensions out of the Play Store, and how committed Google is to doing so. Read on for the scoop…

Is Google Doing All It Can To Protect Against Malicious Chrome Extensions?

Google puts a lot of effort into making the Chrome browser safe and secure. But when third-party extensions are added, your level of security may drop to zero. Browser extensions have nearly full access to the web pages you visit, so in addition to spying on your activity, a malicious extension can steal passwords, user your computer to mine cryptocurrency, and make you an unwitting participant in click fraud schemes.

The recent discovery of a uniquely stubborn rogue extension quickly led to revelations of others, and to the company’s alarming admission that over a thousand malicious apps are uploaded to the Play Store every single month. Equally disturbing is Google’s apparently lackadaisical response to the first extension; after being notified of its presence, Google took 19 days to remove it from the Play Store!

A company spokesperson stated that this extension and another user-resistant malicious app were “automatically removed… from the machines of affected users.” Now, “automatic” implies “fast,” but these removals did not happen until hours after Ars Technica published a post about them and the weeks-long delay in getting attention paid to the first one!

Malicious chrome extensions

The malicious apps in question were “Tiempo en Colombia en vivo” (Weather in Columbia Live), a Chrome extension, and “Play Red Bull version 4,” ostensibly a children’s game that runs in Chrome. They are both gone, but the way they were handled has left a sour taste in many mouths.

James Oppenheim, who reviews children’s games professionally, is one of those whose lips are twisted bitterly. The rogue “game” contained a logo that named his site, jamesgames.com, as the official home of the malware! James notes that he has never written an extension; he reviews games, he does not create them. appears that whoever published it knows enough about what I do reviewing kid’s software to think that my name would help make the malware more trustworthy,” Oppenheim told Ars.

Adding insult to that injury, he says that a week after he reported the offending app via the “REPORT ABUSE” button on its Play Store page, he had absolutely no response from Google and the malware remained available… and aimed at children, mind you!

You can protect yourself by installing only browser extensions to those that are well-established, with many thousands of positive reviews, and preferably millions of existing users. The Chrome Web Store displays star ratings, and the number of user reviews on the category pages. When you click to see the details of an extension, you can see how many users have installed it, and read the reviews.

The “game’s” page said it had 27,781 users at the time Oppenheim investigated it. Many of them posted warnings that the thing was malware. “Makes me wonder how seriously Google is taking this problem,” he said in his email to Ars Technica’s Security Editor, Dan Goodin.

Fumbling the Ball

I wonder too. Google’s spokesperson didn’t even get the word “Ball” right in the response that Goodin finally received, substituting “Bull.” Funny, that’s exactly what I think is Google’s response to this security failure! There’s a lot more to this story as told by Oppenheim and Goodin, but I think we have the gist: Google didn’t just fumble the ball, it was disgracefully late to the game.

I mentioned earlier that 1000+ malicious apps are uploaded to the Play Store every month, and the great majority of those are automatically flagged and removed. So it’s not fair to say that Google isn’t trying to protect their users. But you can only do so much with automation. When you’re dealing with numbers of users in the tens or hundreds of millions, a success rate of 99.9% is not nearly good enough.

I get it: Google Chrome is the world’s most-used browser by several country miles; it’s the first and often only target of every hacker. But Google knows that, and Google has plenty of money to throw at problems like this. If they don’t have enough people to handle problems like this, I refer you to the previous sentence. When problems are pro-actively reported by real humans who are saying “Hey, this is malware!” they should be acted on swiftly.

This sort of failure to protect, and delay in remediation, and defense of indefensible obtuseness, is simply unacceptable. Google, you must do better here. If you want better security just DON’T Use Chrome or it’s apps! Its really that simple use Firefox or Windows built in browser and make damn sure you have malwarebytes and a good anti-virus program and know where your apps are coming from.

Have a safe week from all of us on the ZI Staff

 

 

WiFi 6 Is Coming Early 2019

If your like me you use WiFi most of the time to access Second Life on a Laptop with sometimes slower than normal speed. So you move around to get the best possible signal only to crash and end up having to connect  the Ethernet cable back in to navigate through Second Life normally. Good news WiFi 6 is a coming!

When the first standard for wireless networking was released in 1997, it supported a maximum data speed of only 2 Mbps. Subsequent advances brought us new WiFi standards known as IEEE 802.11a, 802.11b, and 802.11g. In 2009, devices using the 802.11n standard achieved 600 Mbps. The latest standard, 802.11ac, can hit 1,200 Mbps over short distances, but in early 2019, eye-watering WiFi speeds of 4,800 Mbps will become available. Along with that blazing speed will come other changes to wireless network naming and features. Here’s what you need to know…

What is WiFi 6 (and why is it called that)?

Instead of another unwieldy version of “IEEE 802.11whatever.” the new Wi-Fi standard will be known simply as “Wi-Fi 6,” denoting the sixth generation of wireless networking technology. Retroactively, older standards will be renamed W-Fi 5, Wi-Fi 4, and so on. New logos will make it easy to tell at a glance what standard you are buying. (Wi-Fi 6 is technically IEEE 802.11ax, if you prefer the old naming convention.)

Like earlier versions, Wi-Fi 6 will have two frequency bands available to it, starting at 2.4 and 5.0 GHz. The 2.4 GHz band will support up to 1,100 Mbps via 4 data streams. The 5.0 GHz band will support at least 4,800 Mbps via 8 data streams, enough throughput to make 8K video a reality. The Wi-Fi 6 standard is still being improved ahead of its launch next year; in lab tests it has reached up to 10,000 Mbps – 10 Gigabits of data transmitted every second! It’s safe to say we will see data speeds 4 to 10 times faster than today’s fastest.

There will be several bottlenecks that will constrain the actual throughput that you see in your home network. First, your ISP may not let you have access to gigabit-speed Internet connections, or charge too much for it.

You can still achieve top speeds between components of your home network, such as the TV monitor and a media server, but only if both ends of a connection are equipped with Wi-Fi 6 technology. Otherwise, you’ll be constrained to the fastest speed supported by the slower device.

As always, the environment in which your home wireless network operates will influence the network’s throughput. Thick walls, ceilings, and floors between nodes will degrade throughput, especially on the faster but more interference-sensitive 5.0 GHz band. Sources of radio frequency interference (RFI) such as microwave ovens, electric motors, and so on will degrade throughput. Longer distances between nodes yield slower speeds.

WiFi 6 promises greater energy efficiency, so batteries should last longer and household electricity bills may be somewhat lower. It’s hard to quantify what the energy savings will be until after the launch of WiFi 6 products next year, but I suspect the amount of electricity consumed by your WiFi router and phone charger is not a major contributor to the monthly bill.

Plane, Trains and Coffee Shops

Refinements in firmware should produce better performance in crowded environments such as coffee shops and airport lounges. It may be easier to get a strong signal; only time will tell.

And just so there’s no confusion on this point, this is for wifi networking only. The WiFi 6 standard won’t help to boost mobile data speeds on your smartphone or tablet. The mobile data network (currently known as 4G) is entirely separate from your home (or coffee shop) WiFi network, and speed depends on other factors, such as how close you are to a cell tower, the terrain, and the weather.

Top average download speeds for mobile phones range from 30 to 50 Mbps, but 5G networking is also coming in 2019. Check with your carrier to find out if it will happen any time soon in your neighborhood.

There’s not much consumers need to do right now to prepare for WiFi 6. Just be aware that it’s coming in the first half of 2019, and consider postponing any hardware upgrades until it debuts. Those would include laptops, routers, WiFi adapters, streaming devices, and anything else that connects to the Internet via wireless networking.

Have a great week from all of us on the Zi Staff

The 10 Best Graphics Cards For VR

Wiki ezvid spent 43 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top selections for this post. Virtual reality computing is the next evolution in gaming, healthcare, and the workplace, but it takes a significant amount of processing ability to use effectively. These high-end graphics cards provide the power you’ll need to approach or maintain 90 frames per second while avoiding screen tearing and juddering, thus keeping your VR experience fun and mostly free of dizziness. With the up and coming Sansar and High Fidelity as well as present second life and Firestorm Viewer’s We felt the need to update you all on whats what in the best GPU.

10. Radeon R9 Nano

9. Aorus Gaming Box

8. Radeon RX Vega 64

7. Radeon Pro Duo

6. GeForce GTX 1070 TI

5. Zotac GeForce GTX Mini

4. Radeon Pro WX9100

3. GeForce GTX 1060 SC

2. XFX RX 580 Black Edition

1. GeForce GTX 1080 Ti

The VR Revolution

We have a lot of ways that we choose to escape from our everyday lives.

We have a lot of ways that we choose to escape from our everyday lives. For millennia, we’ve told stories around the campfire that have taken us away from our daily troubles and transported us to other worlds and experiences. We’ve developed painting, theater, fiction, photography, and, more recently, the cinema, not just as a means of artistic expression, but also as a way to forget ourselves and our circumstances, if only for a moment.

It makes sense. Life is tough. Whether you were a cave dweller foraging and hunting for your daily survival, or you’re an office worker struggling to navigate through the choppy waters of intra-office politics, there’s an inherent difficulty to our quotidian existence.

Our modem computer technology has given us a new piece of hardware that can bring us deeper into other worlds than ever before: virtual reality.

If you’re unfamiliar with how VR works, we can simplify it for you. Essentially, a headset projects a stereoscopic image before your eyes while cutting out any other light source, filling both your central and peripheral vision. As you move your head, sensors in the unit move the image in conjunction, with worlds rendered in 360 degrees of reality.

In order for virtual reality to work, it has to constantly keep that entire world ready on demand, so if you suddenly flip your head around, there won’t be any lag in your view. This makes for an engrossing game play or movie going experience, but it also demands a certain baseline of computing power. That’s why, if you want to get the most out of your virtual reality setup, you’re going to need a high quality graphics card.

How To Choose The Best VR Graphics Card For You

Whether you’re your putting together your first PC capable of creating interactive VR environments or you’re looking to upgrade your current setup to keep up with the demands of the latest software, you’ll likely want to get the best graphics card that you can afford.

Realistically, your budget is a great place to start, as a lot of computer hardware gets better as it gets more expensive. That’s not quite the whole story, however, as your specific needs may exceed your budget, or even allow you to save a little money on your purchase. So, how do you evaluate one card over another?

Larger, faster, and closer to an exhaust vent within your tower will be best.

Practically speaking, you’ll want to make sure that the card you’ve got your eye on will actually fit into your tower. Depending on what else you’ve got crammed in there, you might find that you’ll need to upgrade your tower before picking a card.

After that, you’ll want to dig into the other specs that each card has to offer. This level of computing needs a certain temperature range to keep up optimal performance, so many graphics cards will have their own cooling systems. Generally speaking, more fans will result in a cooler card, but the speed, size, and placement of those fans makes a difference as well. Larger, faster, and closer to an exhaust vent within your tower will be best.

Graphics cards also have their own RAM independent from the RAM in your computer, and more RAM in a VR graphics card will help ensure a lag-free feed with less tearing and potentially less induced nausea.

The other number that you generally want as large as you can afford is clock speed. This specification is measured in GHz, and, like RAM, it goes a long way toward determining the speed and quality of the card’s performance. That said, if a card’s overall architecture is superior, it might outperform a comparable card with higher clock speeds, so if you’re torn between two cards with similar clock speeds, you can probably get away with saving a little money.

Some virtual reality graphics cards also have aesthetic value that you may or may not have any interest in. These often come in the form of colored lights that add a little ambience to your gaming area. This is entirely a matter of personal preference, though it’s worth noting that, with a VR headset on, you won’t be able to enjoy any extra lighting.

A Brief History Of Virtual Reality

As we mentioned above, virtual reality headsets that we use today create a stereoscopic image much like the one that originated in the early 1800s. Not long after the advent of photography, the stereoscope hit the scene, utilizing a pair of twin mirrors to project a single image simultaneously into each eye. The result often created a sense of three dimensionality, giving users the feeling that they were looking at the scene in front of them, not just picture.

As we mentioned above, virtual reality headsets that we use today create a stereoscopic image much like the one that originated in the early 1800s.

Virtual reality has been a staple of science fiction for many decades, and researchers have been delving into the means and materials required to bring the technology to life since at least the 1950s. However, it wasn’t until the mid-1980s that the term virtual reality entered the common vernacular. Around this time, NASA begin to utilize virtual reality like devices in their astronaut training.

Often, virtual reality headsets were accompanied by some kind of controller, most often in the form of a glove or joystick that would allow the user to manipulate aspects of the environment they perceived. Today’s virtual reality systems are no different, relying on remote-control-like devices or actual video game controllers to give users the opportunity to interact with their environment.

That doesn’t mean that virtual reality is confined to the sphere of gaming, however. NASA, for example, continues its virtual reality experiments, allowing people to slap on the headset and walk along the surface of Mars. The technology is also becoming more common place in the field of medicine, where the ability to enter and interact with a simulation of the human body can at times feel like an episode of the Magic School Bus or a potentially hilarious science-fiction comedy, albeit one with potentially life saving benefits.

Have a great week from all of us on the ZI Staff