Sunday, 26 October 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

Malware-Infested Ads Now a Threat When Reading Online

Posted: 26 Oct 2014 04:03 PM PDT

7853146846_4cc5d03168_o[1]Between popup ads, auto-play video ads, and pernicious tracking cookies, there are a hundred and one good reasons to use ad-blocking plugins like Adblock Plus.

That doesn’t stop some experts like Benedict Evans from calling such plugins “malware installed by the user“, but a new report from security researchers should take the wind out of his sails.

A team of security researchers at Proofpoint have reported that they have identified a “malvertisng” campaign which used ads displayed on high traffic sites to infect the computers of anyone who visited the site.

What’s malvertising?

Malvertising attacks use online advertising channels to infiltrate malware into the computers of unsuspecting users by embedding malicious code within legitimate advertisements on trusted websites. There is no visible indication that the trusted site is compromised: simply by visiting a site, users can get infected via “drive-by download”.

8280822928_96f83c9e86[1]Proofpoint reported that the malvertsing was concentrated on 3 networks (Rubicon Project, Right Media / Yahoo Advertising, OpenX), and they noted that they found the malicious ads on AOL, Yahoo, 9GAG, and as well as news sites ranging from The Atlantic to to The Age. They went on to ad that  this campaign first started to show up in late September and grew until there were enough instances that the researchers could track the campaign.

Proofpoint reports that they subsequently worked quickly to inform the affected parties who then took steps to remove the ads. The last malicious ad was detected on 18 October.

Or rather, the last sign of that campaign was detected last week; it’s certainly not going to be the last malicious ad ever, which means that users will still need to protect themselves.

It’s pretty clear no one else is going to be able to:

Malvertising attacks are a growing problem; research shows that billions of malicious advertisements are being served each year. Malvertising attacks are especially virulent for two reasons. First, leveraging the online ad network gives attackers the ability to target specific groups; attackers can ensure infection across a designated demographic or targeted set of audiences. Second, because there are so many players in the supply chain through which a given advertisement passes, attackers can more easily avoid detection.

To put it simply, an ad blocker isn’t a sign of selfishness anymore; it’s now part of the basic security steps you should take when browsing online.

I know that’s going to upset anyone who relies on advertising (I don’t like it) but that doesn’t change the fact that this won’t be the mast malvertisng campaign. Until the online ad industry gets better at preventing malicious ads, people have to protect themselves, and that means blocking ads.

images by IntelFreePressRobbert van der Steeg

The post Malware-Infested Ads Now a Threat When Reading Online appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Earl E-ink Android Tablet Delayed Until 2015

Posted: 26 Oct 2014 11:57 AM PDT

earl tabletThe Earl back country tablet continues to hold its own as one of the most delayed gadgets of 2013 and 2014. This tablet was originally scheduled to be released by the end of last summer, but the latest update from its developers have revealed that it is still under development and has yet to get its wireless certifications or enter mass production.

A new update on the Earl was posted last week on the Sqigle website, saying in part that:

Following our last post, our hardware team informed us that Earl's shell had a 40% chance to survive a substantial drop and remain sealed against outside elements.

This latest delay will likely push the delivery date back until next year, if not later.

The Earl was designed to be a drop, impact, water, and dust resistant Android tablet based around a 6″ E-ink screen. These stringent requirements have led to several major redesigns since the Earl was first announced in May 2013, each of which has pushed back the Earl’s release date by several months.

july4[1]The Earl has both gained and lost components with each design iteration. The original concept included a kickstand with integrated solar panel, but that was dropped late last year in order to simplify the design and make it more rugged. And the Earl also gained an adjustable antenna to better support the multiple types of connectivity (AM/FM/SW/LW, UHF, VHF, and two way).

According to the specs, the Earl runs Android 4.4 KitKat on a dual-core 1GHz Freescale CPU with 1GB RAM, 16GB internal storage, Wifi, Bluetooth, NFC, GPS, and multiple sensors. It is going to use a 6″ Mobius E-ink screen with a glove friendly touchscreen.

It was originally funded as part of a crowd-funding campaign in May 2013. Early supporters bought their place in line for $249, but after the campaign closed the price was bumped to $299. If you feel like gambling, the Earl is still listed for pre-order for $299.

I’ve never been so inclined. When the Earl was first announced I was short of funds, and then after it met its first roadblock I counted myself lucky to have avoided investing in a project which I didn’t think would succeed.

And I’m still not convinced that the Earl will ship, but even if it foes I have lost interest.

My main interest in the Earl was less its ruggedness and outdoorsy-ness than the fact it ran Android on E-ink. When the Earl was announced in May 2013, there weren’t any good options for Android on E-ink. Your only real options were some ereaders like the Nook Touch and the Sony Reader PRS-T2 which could be hacked to bypass the original software limitations.

Now there are several options for Android ereaders, including the Onyx T68 Lynx, Icarus Illumina, and the Boyue T62. They’re not nearly up to the abilities of the Earl, but on the plus side they are readily available  – and the Earl is not.

The post Earl E-ink Android Tablet Delayed Until 2015 appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Pocketbook InkPad 8″ eReader Now (Reportedly) Shipping

Posted: 26 Oct 2014 08:21 AM PDT

pocketbook ink pad 840Pocketbook’s new 8″ ebook reader holds the dual distinction of being one of the more unusual ereaders to launch this year as well as the most delayed. Following an early and limited release in Russia, a wider launch was delayed so Pocketbook could respond to complaints about performance and screen quality. The European launch was pushed back until the middle of September, and then delayed again.

And now it is finally shipping (I hope). Pocketbook France informs me that they have started shipping the InkPad 840 to customers. (I’m still waiting on a tracking number for my unit, but that is what they have reported.)

The InkPad caught my eye when it launched in May because it had an unusual screen size and an unusual screen resolution. The InkPad’s 8″ display has a screen resolution of 1,200 x 1,600, giving it a sharpness of 250ppi.

That’s not as sharp as on the 6.8″ screen used by the Onyx T68 Lynx and Kobo Aura H2O, or the screen on the new Voyage, but the InkPad’s screen is also larger – a detail which I am sure is appreciated by PDF users .

pocketbook 840 inkpad handsonThis ereader runs Pocketbook’s proprietary OS on a 1GHz CPU with 512MB RAM and 4GB internal storage. It also has Wifi, a microSD card slot, and a headphone jack. Weighing in at 350 grams, the InkPad measures 7.3mm thick and sports a 2.5Ah battery. And that 8″ screen also has a frontlight and capacitive touchscreen.

Like other PocketBook ereaders, it ships with support for a wide variety of ebook formats, including Epub, PDF, and Kindle (drm-free). Not all of those formats are well-supported, though, so I would not count on the InkPad as a multi-format device (this is one thing I learned from my review of the Pocketbook Ultra 650.) The InkPad also ships with a number of apps, including a web browser, file manager, calculator, several games (klondike, chess, sudoku), notpad, sketchpad, Dropbox, mp3 player, and others.

I’ve been wanting to buy an InkPad ever since it launched this summer, and I’ve been waiting for Pocketbook France to ship my order since early September. If and when it does arrive, I will be posting a review.

Until then, here are a trio of hands on videos which show the InkPad in relation to other ereaders and how it will look in a user’s hands.

The post Pocketbook InkPad 8″ eReader Now (Reportedly) Shipping appeared first on The Digital Reader.

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