Gmail gets new powers to fight phishing, ransomware and more

Gmail just got tighter security, particularly for businesses, with the introduction of several new features including phishing email detection honed to be incredibly accurate.

Google said that thanks to new machine learning technology, Gmail can now block spam and phishing messages and keep them out of your inbox with an accuracy of over 99.9%. Very impressive indeed.

Google also said that Gmail has new built-in defences against ransomware and ‘polymorphic’ malware – which can alter itself in some manner to help avoid detection – and claims that the email service now blocks millions more emails which could be a threat to users.

In a blog post, Google said: “We classify new threats by combining thousands of spam, malware and ransomware signals with attachment heuristics (emails that could be threats based on signals) and sender signatures (already marked malware).”

G Suite goodies

Business customers running G Suite received a number of extra features, including a system of ‘early phishing detection’ which will delay messages it believes could be suspicious, giving them a thorough check over before they’re cleared to be sent to the user.

This is integrated with existing Google Safe Browsing technology for picking up on suspicious URLs, bolstered by click-time warnings for these dodgy links – meaning that if you click on such a link in a message, you’ll be warned against proceeding.

Finally, Google revealed new measures to help employees from accidentally spilling business data. If a staff member emails someone outside of the company domain, they’ll be given a warning to ensure they know that they’re replying to an external source – hopefully preventing incidents where unintended replies go astray, and potentially corporate data with them.

Gmail’s new data loss prevention system is apparently clever enough that it knows the contacts you interact with regularly outside of your company, so it can avoid displaying unnecessary warnings.

All this, of course, comes hot on the heels of the recent Google Docs phishing attack, which was a sophisticated, and doubtless embarrassing affair for Google.

Via: Ghacks


Aorus’ tiny Gaming Box is a laptop graphics supercharger

Aorus has revealed a new external graphics enclosure over at Computex, with the GTX 1070 Gaming Box aiming to deal with many of the shortcomings commonly associated with these solutions.

An external GPU box – which allows you to plug in a much more powerful desktop graphics card into your notebook – is generally speaking an expensive proposition, not to mention a hefty thing.

Typically, efforts such as the Razer Core or Alienware Graphics Amp come without a graphics card – you buy and fit your own, adding to the cost considerably. However, Aorus’ Gaming Box comes with a GeForce GTX 1070 card already built-in for just $599 (around £465, AU$810).

Compare that to the Razer Core which costs $499 (around £390, AU$675) plus the price of the (rather expensive) graphics card you’re going to put in there.

Or the Asus ROG XG Station 2 which currently commands a price tag of about £450 (around $580, AU$780) in the UK, again with no GPU. Dell’s Alienware Amp is admittedly far cheaper than these other rivals at $170 (around £130, AU$230), and that’s pretty much in line with Aorus’ price when you add the cost of the GTX 1070 – the problem here, though, is that this is a proprietary solution for Alienware machines only.

And that’s another strength of the Aorus Gaming Box: it can be hooked up to any laptop with a Thunderbolt 3 port. Aside from the Thunderbolt 3 connector, you also get an HDMI out, a pair of DVI ports, a full-size DisplayPort and four USB 3.0 ports.

Shrunken supercharger

Furthermore, as we mentioned, these external graphics enclosures can be pretty sizeable affairs, but the Aorus box has been made considerably smaller because it’s designed around a specific card. The exact dimensions aren’t available just yet, but we would say that the box is roughly half the size of the Razer Core.

So, this device is effectively attacking the competition on three fronts: affordability, compatibility and portability. In the latter case, being able to conceivably take the box with you easily enough, along with your laptop on your travels, could obviously be quite a boon.

The downside of the GTX 1070 Gaming Box is that you lose a little in the flexibility stakes. When purchasing, you don’t have a choice of GPU if you want something more powerful than the 1070, and if you wish to upgrade the card at a later date, the box won’t accommodate a full-size graphics card – you’ll need a Mini variant like this.

We’ve asked Aorus about the exact dimensions and PSU wattage of the Gaming Box, and will update this story when we hear back. We have been told, though, that the product should start shipping in the next few weeks.


ASUS VivoBook Max X541 launched for the Indian markets

ASUS has officially announced the VivoBook Max X541/A541 in India earlier today. This is the company’s mid-range notebook and is designed with gamers in mind. It comes with the 7th Gen Intel Core i3 processor and 4GB of RAM, which can be increased to 12GB.

ASUS is touting the presence of the chiclet style keyboard with 2.3mm key travel distance offering a significantly enhanced typing experience. Further, the touchpad is said to be 11% bigger than conventional notebooks, giving users more room to play around with. The notebook comes with twin 3W speakers with 24cc sound chambers, which when combined with ASUS’ SonicMaster technology makes for excellent audio performance.

The display is slightly larger and better in terms of clarity compared to regular notebooks as the company is using a 15.6-inch Full HD (1920×1080) panel on board. The company’s display tech known as the ASUS Splendid EyeCare reduces the blue light emitted by the display by up to 30%, thus reducing the strain on the eyes. The notebook can be purchased in Chocolate Brown, Red, Silver Gradient, Aqua Blue, and White, so there’s no dearth of attractive color variants.

In terms of connectivity, the VivoBook Max comes with USB Type-C by default, adhering to modern day standards. The notebook also comes with USB 3.1, USB 3.0, USB 2.0, VGA and HDMI ports on board. ASUS will start selling the VivoBook Max for Rs 31,990 from select channels. You should be able to find the notebooks at major ASUS retail outlets across the country. Online retailers should start offering the notebook shortly.


The best antivirus software of 2017

Whether it’s browser hijackers grabbing your search page, or the latest ransomware encrypting all your files, every PC (and even your smartphone!) needs a sterling antivirus package to keep threats at bay.

Don’t rely on Microsoft’s very own Windows Defender to keep you safe. Sure, it’s free and easy to use, but independent tests show its protection rates regularly dip below 90%, compared to 99.x% for the leading competition.

This doesn’t mean you have to start spending big money. Opting for a free solution doesn’t have to mean compromising your security – there are some great freebie tools around.

Don’t automatically rule out paid products, though. Commercial packages often (although not always) deliver the best protection, and sometimes include extras like password managers, web filtering, antiphishing tech and more. If you’re looking for the maximum security, at least consider parting with some cash.

In a world packed with free security software, Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2017’s annual $39.99 fee may look expensive. But there are discounts available – a 3-device, 3-year licence costs $119.99 – and you do get a lot for your money.

Bitdefender’s engine is one of the most accurate and reliable around, for instance, loved by all the big independent testers.

Web filtering blocks access to malicious sites, a secure browser keeps your online financial transactions safe, and there’s a password manager which auto-completes credit card details in web forms.

An excellent anti-phishing module alerts you to malicious links in your search engine results, and blocks access to dangerous sites.

There are one or two issues – the anti-ransomware module offers good all-round protection, but sometimes blocks legitimate programs – but Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2017 is still a likeable package which offers excellent detection rates, great performance, and more than enough bonus features to justify its premium price.

Alternatively, you can purchase the Total Security 2017 edition for not much more. It adds a firewall, parental control, antispam, file encryption and much more!

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If you’re tired of the junk that weighs down some antivirus tools, F-Secure Anti-Virus 2017 will make a refreshing change. There are no unnecessary extras here, no bonus features you’ll never use: you just get straightforward real-time browsing and antivirus protection.

Keeping things simple doesn’t mean compromising your safety. The package typically receives maximum marks for protection from AV-Test, and generally scores highly with AV-Comparatives, too. They also say it can generate significantly more false positives than most of the competition, but how that affects you will vary depending on how you use your computer.

The interface is a major plus. It’s extremely easy to use, lightweight, and for the most part you can just leave it alone to look after your PC. The program has minimal effect on your system performance, and if you do need to intervene then you can generally solve any issues in a couple of clicks.

Competitors like Bitdefender and Kaspersky offer better protection and more features, but F-Secure Anti-Virus remains a likeable package: fast, lightweight, and able to run alongside many other security tools without conflict. It’s one of the better value commercial products, too.

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Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2017 is a stripped-back security package which focuses on the core security essentials: web filtering blocks dangerous URLs, an accurate antivirus engine detects and removes threats, smart monitoring technologies track and reverse malicious actions, and that’s about it.

Fortunately, what you do get works well. Very, very well. We’ve consistently found Kaspersky to be amongst the best at blocking malware, and removing it from an infected system, and it’s regularly top-rated at sites like AV-Comparatives.

The high price could be an issue. If you’re looking for better value, check Kaspersky’s Internet Security products. These are often discounted, and you could get a much more powerful suite for around £5 more.

But if you’re just after accurate, reliable and consistent malware protection, Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2017 will serve you well.

For better, more rounded protection, Kaspersky also has 2017 edition of its Total Security Multi Device product which covers three devices (PC, Android and Mac) for a full year. Although it is a tad more expensive, it offers privacy protection, secure storage and synchronisation of your passwords and files as well.

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Norton Security Standard is one of the most comprehensive packages here, combining antivirus, browsing protection, a firewall, password manager and more.

One of Norton’s strongest areas is preventing you from getting infected in the first place. An excellent URL blocker does a good job of keeping you away from malicious websites, and the program won’t allow you to run files it doesn’t trust.

This can be infuriating if you’re always downloading and trying out the latest freeware, as it’ll always be raising alerts, but if you’re trying to protect a largely stable system – your kids’ laptop, say – then it can be very effective.

The product isn’t widely tested by the main labs, but AV-Test scores Norton highly for its reliable and effective protection.

The price is also high, unfortunately – $39.99 for year one, $69.99 per year after that – but Norton Security Deluxe may offer better value: spend $10 more from year two and you’re covered for up to 5 PCs, Macs, tablets and smartphones.

Norton Security 3.0 (version 2016) costs only a tad more at Amazon for the 5-device, 1-year subscription. For a small premium, you can double the number of devices supported and you also get 25GB of online backup bundled with a 100% refund assurance.

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Opting for free antivirus can mean you’ll pay in some respects. Panda Free Antivirus will change your browser home and search pages unless you notice and clear a checkbox, it installs a browser toolbar for URL blocking, you must register with your email address, and the interface is always suggesting: ‘Upgrade to PRO!’

Still, once you’re up and running, there are plenty of compensations. The program looks good, is easy to use, and has reliable URL blocking to keep you away from malicious sites. AV-Test scores Panda highly for protection, and even if something does penetrate your defences, a bootable Rescue Kit environment will help you get rid of it.

Factor in other bonus extras, like the configurable interface (right click tiles to optionally remove them, Windows 8/10-style), and you’ll see why Panda Free Antivirus 2017 is a likable and effective tool.

Although Panda Antivirus Free is a superb deal, you can get the Global Protection (2017 edition) version (which includes Mac protection, VIP services, chat support as well as identity and family protection) for five computers for not a lot of money at Amazon.

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Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security is a capable antivirus package that’s easy to use with above average antispam and brand new ransomware protection.

How good is it? The top testing labs all rate it highly for protection, but after that there’s little agreement. AV-Comparatives says it gives a high number of false positives, and slows down your PC more than just about anything else; AV-Test reports few false positives and excellent performance results.

Our experiences with the product are mostly favourable: protection levels appear similar to Bitdefender, false positives are only marginally higher, and it doesn’t slow down our system noticeably more than anything else.

We’d recommending running the trial for its full 30 days before you buy, then, to see if you notice any problems. But if you’re unaffected, its high levels of detection and excellent bonus features make Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security a good choice.

Trend Micro Maximum Security (2017 edition) is probably the cheapest antivirus on the market for the 1-year, 3-device version (you only get the product key) or you could get a better deal from Amazon with Internet Security 2016 which is a one-year subscription for three devices for not much more.

Just about every antivirus tool claims to be “lightweight”, but Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus is the only one to really deliver. Installation takes seconds, the program files barely grab 2MB of your hard drive, RAM footprint is tiny, and there are no bulky signature updates to tie up your bandwidth.

There’s no compromise on features, though. Along with the core antivirus protection, there’s smart behaviour monitoring, accurate real-time antiphishing, a firewall and network connection monitor, enhanced anti-ransomware, and other interesting extras.

It’s not easy to compare Webroot’s accuracy with the competition, as the big testing labs rarely test their products. But when they are reviewed, they generally score well, and our own tests show solid and reliable protection.

There’s a lot to like about SecureAnywhere AntiVirus, and Webroot’s 70-day 100% money-back guarantee suggests it’s confident in the product, too. If you’re tired of bloated antivirus engines, Webroot must be on your shortlist.

Avast might be better known for its free antivirus product, but the company also offers a top quality paid-for solution in the form of Avast Internet Security.

This program gives users excellent protection against all the latest forms of malware nastiness out there, with Avast’s antivirus definitions being well-rated by the various testing labs such as AV-Comparatives (it achieved ‘Advanced+’ ratings in this organisation’s latest performance and real-world protection tests).

Avast Internet Security sports an easy-to-use and intuitive interface, and positively bristles with features, including all the stuff that you get with the free application – namely a password manager and a no-interruption gaming mode, to make sure your Overwatch antics are never spoiled by a pop-up notification.

With the paid product, you also benefit from anti-spam features to keep your email inbox free of rubbish, protection when online shopping, and technology that aims to spot fake sites which are designed to maliciously capture your login details (say, for your online banking).

All in all, this is a great all-round solution, although it’s not the cheapest security suite on the market, particularly if you only want to protect one device.

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The best free online photo editor 2017

There are some amazing free photo editors, but sometimes you don’t want to go through the hassle of downloading a program just to give one or two pictures a quick boost. For those occasions when you want a quick and easy way to enhance a few snaps, a free online photo editor is a much better option.

You might expect browser-based editors to be simple Instagram-style affairs, but there are also some serious image-enhancing web apps out there. In fact, some are so feature-packed they rival premium desktop tools, with support for layers, masks and batch editing.

You can use these online photo editors in most modern web browsers, though Flash-based editors won’t work in mobile browsers. You’ll need an HTML5-based editor if you want to boost your photos away from your desktop, or look for a free app designed for your device.

1. Pixlr Editor

The best free online photo editor, with layers, masks and more. If you’re a casual photographer, it might be the only creative tool you need

Most browser-based free photo editors are simple Instagram-style affairs that give you a set of filters and little else. Pixlr Editor is different. Provided you have a reliable internet connection and don’t mind the lack of plugins, this free web app is almost as powerful as the best free desktop photo editors.

Load up a photo and you’ll have access to layers, masks, clone stamps, selection tools, and everything else you’d expect from a top-notch image editor. There’s no batch-editing unfortunately, but you can open several pictures at once and edit them individually.

You can use it in any browser that supports Flash. Unfortunately this rules out most mobile devices, and since its developer is currently working on HTML5 versions of other other software, it might give the superb Editor the chop before too long.

For the time being, however, Pixlr Editor is easily the best free online photo editor. The closest thing to Photoshop for your web browser.

Try it online: Pixlr Editor

2. Adobe Photoshop Express Editor

An extremely capable online photo editor that’s thoughtfully designed and easy to use – as you’d expect from the biggest name in creative software

As its name suggests, Adobe Photoshop Express Editor is a trimmed-down, browser-based version of the company’s world-leading photo editing software. Perhaps surprisingly, it features a more extensive toolkit than the downloadable Photoshop Express app, but it only supports images in JPG format that are below 16MB.

Again, this is a Flash-based tool, but Adobe provides handy mobile apps for all platforms so you won’t miss out if you’re using a smartphone or tablet.

This free online photo editor has all the panache you’d expect from Adobe, and although it doesn’t boast quite as many tools as some of its rivals, everything that’s there is polished to perfection (with the exception of a couple of options that are currently in beta).

The burn, sharpen and soften tools all perform a expected, and we particularly like the ability to preview each effect before committing to it. You can also reset your image at any time, and use a slider to view the edited and original versions side by side.

The Pop Color tool is particularly interesting, enabling you to quickly change the hue of a particular part of your image. Fill Light is a welcome addition too, helping compensate for photos taken in less than ideal lighting conditions.

On top of those, theres also a healing brush, automatic color correction, and manual adjustment of white balance and exposure – all very slick and simple to use.

Adobe Photoshop Express Editor is a pleasure to use. Its only drawbacks are the limits on uploaded file size and types, and lack of support for layers.

Try it online: Adobe Photoshop Express Editor

3. Fotor

A fun free online photo editor that’s particularly good for livening up portraits before sharing them on social media

We love the free Fotor desktop software, and the online photo editor is exceptional too. There’s a file size limit of 8MB on uploaded files, but the editor will helpfully resize your pictures if they’re too large. Fotor’s Flash-based interface looks fantastic, with clever use of icons and collapsible toolboxes to make navigation straightforward.

The one-tap enhance tool is excellent for giving lackluster photos a quick boost, and there’s an impressive array of manual tools for more granular adjustments.

Unfortunately for photographers watching the purse strings, options marked with a green diamond are only available to premium users. Don’t be discouraged, though – Fotor’s free offering is still impressive. We particularly like the tools for boosting portraits, including makeup and tooth whitening – convincing if used with restraint, and pleasingly ridiculous if not. The strength of the wrinkle-smoothing tool is set in years rather than an arbitrary scale from one to 100, which is also satisfyingly silly.

There are fun stickers too, including some practical options like seasonal greetings, all of which can be tweaked with custom colors and opacity.

Once you’re satisfied, you can save your work to your PC, send it to Dropbox, or fire it over to your printer. There are also export options for Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, and even Google+. For fun social-media-ready portraits, Fotor is hard to fault.

Try it online: Fotor

4. piZap

Another free online photo editor made with social media in mind. Add stickers and text, then share your work on all the biggest social networks

Free online photo editor piZap is available in both HTML5 and Flash editions, making it suitable for any device. You can choose to work with a photo from your hard drive, Facebook, Google Photos, Google Drive, Google Search, or a catalog of stock images. This is an impressive choice, though some of the stock images are only available to premium subscribers, and you’ll need to watch out for copyright issues if you use a pic straight from Google Images.

piZap’s editing interface has a dark, modern design that makes heavy use of sliders for quick adjustments – a system that works much better than tricky icons and drop-down menus if you’re using a touchscreen device.

Like Fotor, piZap offers lots of stickers, with many more available to users with a paid account. All the options have a fun, cartoon aesthetic (though some of the clipart is a bit corny), and together with the meme tool that adds custom text to the top and bottom of images, prove that this is an online photo editor created with social media sharing in mind.

Interestingly, piZap also includes a cutout tool that lets you superimpose a selected area of one picture over another. This works well, and isn’t something we’d expect to find in an editor designed chiefly with silly memes in mind.

When you’re done, you can share your creation on all the biggest social media networks, as well as piZap’s own servers, Dropbox and Google Drive. Alternatively, you can save it to your hard drive, send it via email, or grab an embed code.

You can only export your work in high quality if you’ve opened your wallet for the premium editor, but for silly social sharing that’s unlikely to be a problem.

Try it online: piZap

5. FotoFlexer

An excellent online photo editor with advanced tools and support for layering, though we could live without its cheesy early-2000s effects

FotoFlexer might look dated, but give it a chance and you’ll discover a surprisingly powerful free online photo editor, complete with layers for complex work using multiple images. It uses Flash, so it won’t work in mobile web browsers, but it’s a solid choice for desktop-bound photographers.

Upload a photo (or select one from its list of supported hosts) and you’ll be presented with a tabbed interface. The Basic tab contains everything you need for quick jobs like resizing, cropping, rotating, flipping, and adjusting contrast, brightness, hue and saturation. There’s also a one-click optimization tool to give washed out pictures a quick boost, and a red-eye corrector.

The Effects toolkit is packed with creative filters, though some of them are rather old-fashioned, like good old Neon and Ink Stamp. If it’s convincing retro effects you’re after, you’re better off looking elsewhere. The Decorate and Animation tabs are a similarly cheesy affair, with text (including a ghastly early 2000s style animated glitter option), stickers, and simple drawing tools. You’re not likely to get much mileage out of these for serious photo editing, but they’re nice to have – if only for ironic use.

Beautify includes smoothing and sharpening tools, a healing brush and a wrinkle remover (basically a smudge tool), and the distortion tab contains a set of simple liquify tools. Those might prove handy, but the really interesting stuff is tucked away under the last tab – the slightly patronizingly named Geek. Here you’ll find tools for editing curves and working with layers using cutouts.

We could live without many of FotoFlexer’s outmoded frills, but the basic photo editor is excellent and very capable for a browser-based tool.

Try it online: FotoFlexr


Download of the day: Tracks

Tracks is a simple and adorable model train simulator – more BRIO than Hornby. Simply fit sections of track together to create your own line, then take your wooden engine out on its maiden journey.

Moving your mouse pointer over a section of track will show whether you can build from it (green) or not (orange). Clicking with the left mouse button will add a section, while right-clicking will remove it. The left arrow key will reverse the direction of a curved piece of track.

Pieces of track can intersect, and you can raise or lower sections using the mouse wheel, enabling you to create labyrinthine structures and passenger-endangering jumps. There’s also an additional level with furniture to build your track around if you fancy a (very small) challenge.

Along the right lines

Once you’re happy with your line, hit T to enter the cab of your little wooden locomotive and use the WASD keys to control its journey. You can pick a direction when you reach points (which is more than can be said for most rail services), and there’s a choice of camera views so you can get a better angle on your journey.

We are sorry to announce that the 15:00 service from London Waterloo is delayed. This is due to a reef knot in the Swindon area

Be careful, though – if your track is unfinished, the train will go off the rails and trundle along in the empty, peach-colored void. Try explaining that to the conductor.

To start building, download and extract the ZIP archive, then run the file TrainSet.exe. The game is free, but an optional donation to the developer will help with future additions like carriages, objectives, and a buffet car with a selection of hot and cold sandwiches, baguettes, drinks and snacks.

Download here: Tracks


Twitter just changed the way you can receive Direct Messages

Twitter is changing up the way you can receive Direct Messages, those private missives sent to you buy people you may or may not follow on the service.

From now on, if you’ve opted to receive DMs from anyone, messages from people you don’t follow will be filtered into Requests in the Messages tab. The same goes for group conversations you’ve been added to with users you don’t follow.

Within Requests, you’ll have the option to either Delete or Accept the message. No matter what, the person who sent you the message won’t know you’ve seen it until you select Accept.

Accepting a Direct Message will move it to your Inbox, while Deleting the message, well, deletes it. Deleting does not mean someone can’t ever send you a DM again, but you still have the option to block accounts or report the conversation.

Any media contained in a message won’t be visible until you Accept it or select View media.

Offering a DM filter option appears directly aimed at preventing trolls and other abusive users from filling your Inbox with messages you don’t want to see.

Of course, if you receive lots of DMs from users you don’t know, you’ll have to monitor Requests to make sure message you do want to see are received, but otherwise this could be an effective method at cutting down unsavory (and worse) interactions on the service.

The new filter options are available on iOS and Android as well as the desktop version of Twitter and appear to be rolling out now.


NBN rollout reaches 5 million premises milestone

Australia’s NBN Co announced today that 5,035,072 premises are now able to connect to the National Broadband Network service, with an average of about 250,000 homes and business having been connected each month over the past year.

The aim is to hook up 8 million premises by 2020, covering over 60% of the country.

Despite this significant milestone, the latest report from NBN Co pointed out that only about half the number of available premises are actually paying customers.

In its weekly update, NBN Co announced that there are currently 2,245,550 NBN customers – making for a current average of about 130,000 sign-ups per month.

A lack of NBN knowledge

The low subscriber numbers could be an indication of the Australian public’s general lack of knowledge around switching to the NBN.

What Australians may not understand is that if the NBN is available in an area, the switch from traditional broadband services is mandatory.

Once a property has been set up with an NBN connection, the older phone and internet connections will both be switched off and customers will be required to make the necessary arrangements with a telco of their choice to keep an active internet and phone services going.

If you’d like more information on the NBN service or need to find out if your home or business can access it, head to and enter your address.


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