Pigskin-Referee writes: NEW YORK — A U.S. senator has urged the Federal Trade Commission to investigate reports that applications on the Apple and Google mobile systems steal private photos and contacts and post them online without consent.
Democrat Charles Schumer's request comes after iPhone maker Apple tweaked its privacy policies last month after prodding from other lawmakers.
The distribution of third-party applications on iPhones and phones running on Google's Android system has helped create a surge in the popularity of those devices in recent years.
Related story: Android apps can snoop photos, too
However, Schumer said on Sunday that he was concerned about a New York Times report that iPhone and Android applications can access a user's private photo collection.
He also referred to a discovery last month that applications on devices such as the iPhone and iPad were able to upload entire address books with names, telephone numbers and email addresses to their own servers.
"These uses go well beyond what a reasonable user understands himself to be consenting to when he allows an app to access data on the phone for purposes of the app's functionality," Schumer said in a letter to the FTC. Advertise | AdChoices
The lawmaker said it was his understanding that many of these uses violate the terms of service of the Apple and Android platforms. He said "it is not clear whether or how those terms of service are being enforced and monitored."
Related story: iPhone flaw allows apps access to your contacts
As a result, he said, "smartphone makers should be required to put in place safety measures to ensure third party applications are not able to violate a user's personal privacy by stealing photographs or data that the user did not consciously decide to make public".
Schumer said phone makers have an obligation to protect the private content of their customers.
"When someone takes a private photo, on a private cellphone, it should remain just that: private," said Schumer.
Pigskin-Referee writes: The Apple Mac is steadily grabbing market share, but Windows-based systems continue to dominate the worldwide personal computer market, according to a new Gartner study.
The report is good news for Microsoft, which has taken its licks lately in the mobile computing market. Redmond's well-received but slow-selling Windows Phone 7 OS has yet to catch on among consumers, who are snapping up Apple iOS and Google Android handsets like crazy.
Windows 7 has proven a big hit on the desktop, however: 42 percent of PCs worldwide will run Win 7 by the end of 2011, Gartner reports. And nearly 635 million new PCs are expected to ship with the OS by the end of the year.
After a slow start, corporations are finally migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7. "Many enterprises have been planning their deployment of Windows 7 for the last 12 to 18 months, and are now moving rapidly to Windows 7," said Gartner research director Annette Jump in a statement.
However, Windows 7 will likely be the last version of Microsoft's iconic OS that gets deployed via massive, enterprise-wide migrations. The move toward virtual and cloud computing architectures in the next five years will change how upcoming versions of Windows are deployed, the study says.
Another long-term issue for Windows is the rise of "OS-agnostic" applications for both consumer and enterprise PCs. As early as next year, half of enterprise apps won't be tied to any particular operating system. In the consumer market, the proportion of OS-agnostic apps already exceeds Windows-specific apps, Gartner estimates.
What About Mac and Linux?
Apple's slice of the global PC pie may be small, but Mac adoption is growing above the market average. The Mac OS shipped on 3.3 percent of new PCs worldwide in 2008. That figure climbed to 4 percent in 2010, and to 4.5 percent this year--and it's projected to grown to 5.2 percent by 2015, Gartner says.
The Mac's popularity varies by region, however. Its strongest support is in North America and Western Europe, but its fastest growth may occur in some emerging countries where its current base is small. Gartner attributes the Mac's rise not only to its easy-to-use interface, but also to its integration with Apple mobile devices such as the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.
Gartner is less optimistic about Linux, which it predicts will remain a niche OS over the next five years with a global share below 2 percent. In the consumer market, Linux will be a non-entity with less than 1 percent of the PC market. End users didn't take to Linux-based mini-notebooks, or netbooks, and today few mini-notes ship with Linux.
Pigskin-Referee writes: Apple has shipped new versions of its Safari browser to fix numerous security holes that expose Windows users to malicious hacker attacks.
The Safari 5.1 and Safari 5.0.6 addresses gaping security holes in Safari and WebKit, the open-source browser rendering engine. These updates are available for Safari users running Windows XP SP2, Windows Vista and Windows 7.
According to Apple’s advisory, some of these vulnerabilities could lead to drive-by download attacks, full system compromise, denial-of-service conditions of cross-site scripting attacks.
Pigskin-Referee writes: Microsoft has released a Windows Media Player HTML5 Extension for Chrome so as to enable H.264-encoded video on HTML5 by using built-in capabilities available on Windows 7. As you may recall, less than two months ago, Microsoft released the HTML5 Extension for Windows Media Player Firefox Plug-in with the same goal in mind. Even though Firefox and Chrome are big competitors to Microsoft's own Internet Explorer, the software giant has decided Windows 7 users should be able to play back H.264 video even if they aren't using IE9.
Here's the current state of HTML5 video: Microsoft and Apple are betting on H.264, while Firefox, Chrome, and Opera are rooting for WebM. Google was actually in favor of both H.264 and WebM up until earlier this month, when the search giant decided to drop H.264 support completely, even though the former is widely used and the latter is not. The company also announced that it would release WebM plugins for Internet Explorer 9 and Safari. Although IE9 supports H.264, excluding all other codecs, Microsoft is making an exception for WebM, as long as the user installs the corresponding codec, and is helping Google ensure the plug-in works properly.
Pigskin-Referee writes: "Apple quietly adds anti-malware in Snow Leopard update
In the latest update to Snow Leopard, Apple included software to protect Mac computers from a Trojan horse that has been distributed by attackers disguised as iPhoto, but which opens a back door on the machine, security firm Sophos said on Friday.
When Apple released OS X 10.6.4 on Tuesday, the company said it addressed certain compatibility issues with VPN connections and other things, but failed to mention anything about adding an anti-malware update.
But buried in the code is an update to the XProtect.plist file, which contains signatures of malware written to target the Mac. The signatures now detect malware dubbed "HellRTS," Graham Clulely of Sophos wrote in a blog post."