Archive for the ‘software’ Category

Land on the Moon – with Google Earth

Posted on: October 21st, 2013 by SoftwarePatch.com No Comments

Google Earth is a great way to discover our planet, using either the browser plugin or the standalone version. But the browser plugin is more than just a map plugin to scroll around, as it has got some exciting features if you know how to use them.

One example of the funny features can be tried on the website of PlanetInAction. In this mini applet you can try your skills as an astronaut and land your spacecraft on the Moon in the exact same circumstances as Neil Armstrong faced during the Apollo 11 mission.

During the final landing phase it became apparent that the computer was steering directly towards a crater and big boulders, with only seconds of fuel to spare. We know that Neil Armstrong landed safely – but can you? Download the latest Google Earth plugin, and open the link above to prove your skills!

By Gergely Sumegi

London design agency combines technology with LEGO to create nifty organizer

Posted on: October 9th, 2013 by SoftwarePatch.com No Comments

Everyone has a different way of organizing, be it on Google Calendar, by phone, or even on a Filofax. The team at Vitamins Design in London has come up with an ingenious way to sort out their schedules and keep them all in line, no matter what medium each person normally used.

This is how the LEGO Calendar was born. The LEGO calendar is an easy-to-read calendar that uses LEGO characters to represent each team member. Projects are marked by color-coded LEGO bricks, which are then organized by time (each brick represents half a day).

The most interesting feature is the software they created to work in tangent with the physical LEGO Calendar. The software automatically synchronizes every event marked on the physical calendar with a cloud one. A photo is first taken of the LEGO Calendar before it is emailed to a specific address. Upon receipt of the image, the software scans it and detects the colors and positions of each block to update the calendar accordingly.

The idea became so popular that Vitamins Designs has promised to share the computer code online. Watch their video for more.

GTA V smashes six world records

Posted on: October 9th, 2013 by SoftwarePatch.com No Comments

The meteoric rise of Grand Theft Auto 5 had all but been confirmed when Guinness World Records announced that the game had broken six world records. GTA V has earned the highest revenue generated by an entertainment product in 24 hours, and the fastest entertainment properly to exceed $1 billion.  GTA V has also been the best-selling video game in 24 hours, best-selling action adventure game in 24 hours, fastest video game to gross $1 billion, and highest grossing video game in 24 hours.

GTA V’s sales so far have beaten GTA IV’s lifetime sales, and game creators Rockstar have knocked rivals Activision out of pole position. Activision’s Call of Duty series used to hold most of the awards above, and with the fourth game in the series due for release on 5 November they have a lot of groundwork to make for.

Despite the regularly reported bugs frustrating users and their gaming experience, the demand for GTA V remains high, and only seems to be getting stronger. It remains to see whether Call of Duty: Ghosts will amass the same success.

Anniversary Patch Tuesday with a big Internet Explorer fix

Posted on: October 8th, 2013 by SoftwarePatch.com 1 Comment

Microsoft’s monthly security bulletin and the related Patch Tuesday is celebrating its 10th birthday this month, and the most important element of this month’s “anniversary” edition is a major fix for an Internet Explorer vulnerability that made the news in September.

The vulnerability (officially named CVE-2013-3893) is the result of some RCE (Remote Code Execution) bugs, where an outsider can send you something and infect you with malware in any current version of Internet Explorer, including the old IE 6 in Windows XP as well as the very latest IE 11 for those using the Windows 8.1 pre-release.

Major Update for Internet Explorer

Some of these bugs are officially branded Critical, which means you should patch it as soon as possible if you don’t want crooks to figure out an unlawful way to your computer. The Internet Explorer update will require you to reboot your computer, so you’d better save your work and prepare for reboot.

As part of the usual Patch Tuesday routine, the Malicious Software Removal Tool has been updated and is also available on our SoftwarePatch website for 32-bit Windows 7 and 64-bit Windows versions. Don’t be scared if you see MRT.exe running on your computer with high CPU usage – this is perfectly normal and it is crucial to run this time of the month.

By Gergely Sumegi

‘Game of Thrones: The 8-bit Game’ is released

Posted on: September 12th, 2013 by SoftwarePatch.com No Comments

Game of Thrones fans desperately twiddling their thumbs until Season 4 starts next year (or until the next book is finally published) will be happy to know they can distract themselves for a little while. A super-fan has recently created an 8-bit platform game based on the series, featuring the 2D pixelated artwork we know and love – along with some of the characters we know and love along with it.

Enjoy a 2D side-scrolling release, where players attempt to navigate multiple levels by dodging obstacles and projectiles – all the while defeating enemies and picking up items. With four fan-favorite characters playable (Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen, Tyrion Lannister and Davos Seaworth), fans are sure to get a kick out of this retro version of Westeros.

Spanish developer Abel Alvarez Rejo is the brains behind the game, and has luckily made it available for free. The Internet reaction to the game has been so phenomenal that Alves has spoken of creating similar games in the same retro context. Keep an eye on his website for more.

Watch the trailer here, and enjoy the nostalgia.

What is Patch Tuesday?

Posted on: August 12th, 2013 by SoftwarePatch.com 1 Comment

Patch Tuesday is the second Tuesday of each month, when Microsoft releases security patches for many of its products. Until recently, Patch Tuesday had been followed by an “Exploit Wednesday”, as hackers reverse-engineered many of these security patches, and attacked not-yet-patched computers.

Patch Bugs

But from August 2013, thanks to the revised Active Protection Program, some security firms receive information about vulnerabilities being patched several days before the update is released. They can use these few days to come up with their own signature for these vulnerabilities and patch their software in the same time as Microsoft’s updates come out.

You don’t have to work for a security firm to get a preview of the upcoming patches. You can sign up for an advance notification using your Microsoft credentials (e.g. your Skype or Hotmail login) on the technet.microsoft.com website, and receive a preview in each month straight into your inbox.

By Gergely Sumegi

Mozilla Firefox version 23.0 is released

Posted on: August 8th, 2013 by SoftwarePatch.com 1 Comment

Good news for Firefox fans: version 23.0 is out and can be downloaded from the www.mozilla.org website. In the latest version of Firefox, the Mozilla team has proactively fixed some potentially exploitable vulnerabilities, upon finding these security holes before hackers.

Some of these fixes are related to the “Miscellaneous memory safety hazards” which show evidence of memory corruption, according to the description by Mozilla, adding that “at least some of these could be exploited to run arbitrary code”.  The developers at Mozilla spend much time and attention to find these hazards, even if not all of them are exploitable, and not all the exploitable ones were targeted by hackers.

The new Firefox version has got a new security feature, called Mixed content blocking. What does that mean? Some websites are using both insecure HTTP and secure HTTPS protocols on the same page, to speed up the download time of pictures, icons, logos. Firefox can now differentiate between “Mixed Passive Content” and “Mixed Active Content”, and permit innocent HTTP objects, such as images to appear in the middle of an HTTPS page, but block for example an insecure JavaScript code in the same page.

To download the latest version of Firefox, just open the About page of your browser (Alt, Help, About) and the update will be downloaded and installed automatically.

By Gergely Sumegi

Ground-breaking research to stop reverse-engineering

Posted on: July 31st, 2013 by SoftwarePatch.com No Comments

A professor at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and his team of computer scientists have designed a system that encrypts software so that it can run in that encrypted state.

Why is it such an important breakthrough? Whenever a security patch comes out for your operating system or software on your computer, hackers start to reverse-engineer it to find out the vulnerability it is intended to fix. With this knowledge, they are able to attack vulnerable computers before the update gets applied.

The researchers at UCLA, the university that has given the world 12 Nobel laureates, have developed a system that goes one step beyond the everyday encryption we all use when communicate or pay online. With their “mathematical jigsaw puzzle” approach they are able to accomplish the task to actually run the software while still being encrypted, which has never been possible before.

Software developers can write their software in the usual way, and then feed it to the system. It will output a fully functional but mathematically transformed piece of software. This is achieved by a new type of multilinear jigsaw puzzle that returns a jumble of numbers impossible to reverse-engineer. The new technique paves the way for functional encryption, offering a much more secure way to protect information.

By Gergely Sumegi

Internet Security – What is MAPP?

Posted on: July 30th, 2013 by SoftwarePatch.com No Comments

The Microsoft Active Protections Program (MAPP) was launched in 2008 to give antivirus vendors a head start against malware developers. Vendors can get information from Microsoft bulletins before it gets shared with the public, and release their signatures immediately after the bulletin is published. Microsoft is now planning to introduce some major changes to MAPP, according to the latest progress report of MRSC, the Microsoft Security Response Center.

MAPP will be renamed MAPP for Security Vendors and become a part of a larger program, and some trusted vendors will get a three day window to come up with their signatures for vulnerabilities instead of the current one-day one. A new program, called MAPP for Defenders will concentrate on threat intelligence where incident responders will get critical intelligence but are required to share theirs. Microsoft will contribute by sharing malicious URLs and other threat indicators.

A new cloud-based service, MAPP Scanner will allow participants to scan Office and other files and URLs to find out if they are malicious or not. The service will use virtual machines with all Windows versions to run its scan. This is a new way for Microsoft to discover new attacks and unknown activities.

By Gergely Sumegi

New NATO video about vulnerability market

Posted on: July 30th, 2013 by SoftwarePatch.com No Comments

In a recent video, titled Hackers for Hire, the world’s most powerful military organization looks at the life of hackers who search for vulnerabilities in operating systems and software products, for a bounty paid by their vendors. These hackers find security holes in systems, and tell the developers about them, giving them time to fix the bug and come out with a patch before telling the world about it.

Some other hackers choose the less ethical way, and sell these vulnerability details to the highest bidder on the open market, who may then use these details to exploit the weaknesses. One way or another, there is certainly an increasing market for vulnerabilities, as these bugs are worth a lot of money, according to the video.

The leader of Microsoft’s Security Outreach Team is an ex-hacker, who regularly seeks skilled IT security specialists to improve the company’s research efforts, using a huge talent pool of white hat hackers.

By Gergely Sumegi