Monday tech roundupLast week was the week of security as more Adobe Flash vulnerabilities continued to be discovered in the Hacking Team data dump. These vulnerabilities saw a lot of users turning Flash off and vowing not to use it again and it also prompted Mozilla to ban Flash until Adobe released the relevant patches. Also last week, Comcast announced a crazy expensive and crazy fast internet connection and Microsoft announced its support for Windows 10 for the next decade.

Crazy expensive, crazy fast cable Internet

Many of us expect the Internet to be free – it’s available when we get to the office, airports now have it gratis, and our neighbor’s wireless is often unprotected.

So why does the US-based Comcast think it can sell Internet for (US) $300 a month? Mainly because it is super-fast at up to two Gbps. That is the speed backbones used to run at. Oh and that price is only for Internet – no added consumer or business services.

For now, the service will be in major metro areas of the US, but for less than a quarter of that price, US customers can get half the speed from the Google Fiber 1 Gbps service.

This reminds me of the early days of almost any technology. The first PCs cost a comparative fortune, and a flat screen TV was clearly for the well-heeled, but nowadays you get great deals around every corner.

These prices will eventually drop, and I hope they drop fast once the infrastructure is in place and Comcast can line up customers. Oh wait, they won’t really drop until there is real competition for such high speed raw services! That’s the way things really work. A price drop would be especially welcome given that there are extra fees – (US) $500 for the install and another (US) $500 for ‘activation’.

While two Gbps is mighty fast for a direct connection, once you route it gets slower. Wireless routers top out at around half that, and the bandwidth is shared by all who use it. However, the faster the incoming stream, the more bandwidth there is to share so faster still is better.

Chrome shines up safety

Browsing is still a dangerous business. Besides email, web surfing is probably the easiest way for hackers to compromise your machine or network. Google hopes to stop some of this with more warnings of malicious websites when you use its Chrome browser.

These warnings, just like the Windows 7 warnings about installing new software or services, can be a nuisance, but also a lifesaver. In soon to come updates, more warnings will be given because Google is doing a better job identifying the bad web apples.

The same technology, Safe Browsing, is also used by Safari and Firefox, and I’ve noticed more of these warnings. The odd thing – they were for legitimate sites and when viewed in a different browser were apparently fine.

Much of the recent Safe Browsing effort has been towards ad injectors, where hackers place ads where there weren’t any, or when legitimate ads are swapped for malicious ones.

Flash in the frying pan

Anyone who uses Flash (and that is almost everyone at one time or another) knows it is more crash prone than Crash Bandicoot (remember him?). But did you also know that it is one of the biggest attack vectors these days?

Many savvy end users have uninstalled Flash, and smart IT pros have been known to block it. Now Facebook is speaking out, asking Adobe to please kill off Flash, and for the browser makers to stop running it.

Prompting all this is a rash of recent vulnerabilities. Facebook didn’t exactly issue a press release. Instead, its Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos sent out a tweet saying “It is time for Adobe to announce the end-of-life date for Flash and to ask the browsers to set killbits on the same day.”

The world is listening. Mozilla banned Flash from Firefox, but only for one day while a bug released in the Hacking Team data dump was being tended to.

I can’t see browsers banning Flash as it runs contrary to freedom of use, especially for an open source browser like Firefox. However, with so many security flaws coming to surface many have decided to set their Flash options to ‘click to run’ and if you would like to know how you can do that, you can click here.

Windows 10 will live to 10

Want to know how long Microsoft will stand behind Windows 10? Just look at the name. Microsoft is committing to supporting the new OS for a full decade!

That may sound impressive and reassuring, but keep in mind that XP lasted 12 years (it was almost a teenager). XP was given two years on top of the traditional decade of official support because of all the kicking and screaming of customers. Part of the complaint was that the XP follow on, Windows Vista, was awful.

With the pace of change these days, with mobile and new interfaces, ten years seems an awfully long time. At the same time, when a system works and has a wealth of compatible apps, services and hardware, it is hard to let go of.

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