Action Launcher gets October update, improvement to Quickcuts feature

Action Launcher puts older versions of Android very close to Android 7.1 when they launched the “Quickcuts” feature, which mimics the app shortcuts of Android Nougat. This is basically Android’s answer to Apple’s “force touch,” where a long press on an app would reveal a relevant contextual menu for different tasks. This feature is available only via Android 7.1, but with Action Launcher, older versions of Android can now use it.

And with Action Launcher’s recent update, Quickcuts now gets an improvement. Now, dynamic Quickcuts are available, giving you more relevant actions in the contextual menu. For example, a long tap on a messaging or SMS app would bring up options to message your most used contacts.

action_launcher_dynamic_quickcuts

The full changelog follows:

• NEW: Full support for Android 7.1’s dynamic shortcuts via Quickcuts (requires Android 7.1).
• NEW: Quickcuts, previously a Plus only feature, are now available to all.
• NEW: Add option to pick the global icon style. Allows one to use traditional icons rather than round icons when using a Pixel phone. Settings -> Display -> Icon style.
• NEW: When the dock and desktop have the same width, force the icons on the dock to have the exact same size and horizontal position as those on the desktop.
• NEW: Mimic final Pixel Launcher style All Apps. Notable changes include the app list displaying beneath the navigation bar and the use of full color.
• NEW: When opening the Pixel style All Apps drawer opens via a dock swipe, the speed it opens at is based on the speed of the swipe.
• NEW: When using Pixel style All Apps, swiping on the dock with two fingers will trigger All Apps search (with the keyboard on screen).
• NEW: Long pressing the caret page indicator triggers Quickfind (aka All Apps with the keyboard on screen).
• NEW: Completely revamped settings. Out with the teal, in with the Pixel blue!
• NEW: Remove 5 second delay when KustomLiveWallpaper loads apps.
• NEW: Add tooltips to help new users discover and understand Shutters and Quickcuts.
• NEW: Add setting for disabling all tooltips. Settings -> Help -> In-app tips.
• IMPROVEMENT: Update translations.
• CHANGE: Pixel Launcher related settings such as All Apps and folder style use “Pixel” name rather than “Nougat”.
• FIX: When closing a Quickcut in a folder via an outside tap, close only the Quickcut, not the folder also.
• FIX: Fix a shortcut being converted back to a Quickcut after Quickcuts were disabled for that shortcut.
• FIX: Quickcut for jumping to Twitter’s Direct Messages works again.
• FIX: Can’t swipe shortcuts whilst All Apps is opening.
• FIX: Misc. stability fixes.

If you already have Action Launcher, you can update it via the Play Store now. You can try Action Launcher if you haven’t, because that is about as close a Marshmallow or Lollipop-powered phone can get to this feature.

SOURCE: +ChrisLacy

Microsoft Launches Security Program For Azure IoT

As part of the program, Microsoft has partnered with security auditors who will examine customers’ IoT infrastructure, find problems, and provide guidance.

Microsoft has launched a new program for its Azure cloud platform to help business customers strengthen their security posture amid the rise of the Internet of Things.

Security and privacy concerns are top of mind for IT pros as the IoT continues to grow within the enterprise. Many struggle to verify the security of their IoT infrastructure and may delay product implementation as they establish best practices.

Microsoft’s new Security Program for Azure IoT is a response to customer requests for increased security assurances as they assemble and deploy IoT products, the company says.

Microsoft has partnered with security auditors to evaluate customers’ IoT infrastructure, detect security problems, and provide recommendations. Customers can choose an auditor to conduct examinations from the ground up, verifying devices, assets, gateways, and communication with the cloud.

Partners so far include Praetorian, Casaba Security, CyberX, and Tech Mahindra, but Microsoft plans to add more as the program continues to grow. It will also work with standards organizations including the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) to create industry protocols and best practices for security audits.

“In today’s connected world, the perception of security risk alone, even if not realized, can still negatively impact consumer confidence necessary for new technologies to meet their full market potential,” says Paul Jauregui, VP Marketing and IoT Business Lead at Praetorian. 

High-profile data breaches have increased consumer awareness of issues surrounding data security, Jauregui explains. Adoption of enterprise and consumer IoT may suffer until vendors can address their privacy concerns.

The massive DDoS attacks on Dyn on October 21, which were launched mainly via infected IoT devices, were a wakeup call for businesses. Most of the devices used in these attacks were surveillance cameras, indicating how seemingly benign objects can cause widespread problems.

Jauregui explains how for businesses, security is both an economic and technical challenge. IoT product teams struggle to balance risk with the pressures of quickly bringing products to market.

“Resources allocated towards security-related activities throughout product development, assessment, and maintenance will increase as viable IoT business models and value creation opportunities solidify across every industry,” he says.

As businesses work to solve IoT security problems, Jauregui explains how the entire ecosystem must work together. Hardware manufacturers, product teams, developers, cloud providers, product teams, service providers, and consumers need to collaborate to ensure security “from chip to cloud,” he notes. 

Praetorian, as a partner in the program, will review organizations’ full IoT solutions while focusing on vulnerabilities. By helping them close security gaps, Praetorian and other partner companies will help Microsoft’s business customers balance risk and time-to-market.

“Solving and managing IoT security is going to take a village,” says Jauregui.

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Kelly is an associate editor for InformationWeek. She most recently reported on financial tech for Insurance & Technology, before which she was a staff writer for InformationWeek and InformationWeek Education. When she’s not catching up on the latest in tech, Kelly enjoys … View Full Bio

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US Should Help Private Sector 'Active Defense,' But Outlaw 'Hacking Back', Says Task Force

Task Force at George Washington University suggests ways for government to clear up legal quagmires, improve tools, keep us all out of trouble.

The US government should explicitly prohibit private entities from “hacking back,” but empower them to use other methods of so-called active defense against threat actors, according to members of the Active Defense Task Force at the George Washington University’s Center for Cyber and Homeland Security (CCHS) in a report today.

The report authors are very clear that active defense is “not synonymous with ‘hacking back'” and the two should not be used interchangeably. Active defense, rather, includes technical interactions between defenders and attackers, operations that enable defenders to collect intelligence on threat actors, and policy tools that modify the behaviors of malicious actors — things like sinkholes, honeypots, beaconing, threat hunting, and gathering intel on the dark Web. It’s the “gray zone” between hacking back and doing nothing.

(Image: (C) 2016 by Center for Cyber and Homeland Security. Some rights reserved.)

When it comes to active defense, many companies are either “doing nothing or doing them in the dark,” says Christian Beckner, deputy director of CCHS.

The trouble is that these activities — even those in the gray zone — may or may not fall afoul of laws like the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. (As the report explains: “Under US law, there is no explicit right to self-defense by private companies against cyber threat actors.”) 

Plus, what really worried the task force, says Beckner, are the companies that think they’re doing the right thing, and engage in active defense activities that ultimately lead to escalation. They make a bad situation worse — either by causing massive collateral damage or by creating a political conflict between nation-states where there might have been none.  

There have been discussions about this before, says Beckner, but the CCHS effort has aimed to delve into more in-depth operational issues, rather than just legal issues. The Task Force includes over 30 individuals from academia, government, and industry, and is co-chaired by former Director of National Intelligence Admiral Dennis C. Blair, currently chairman and CEO of Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA; former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, currently executive of the Chertoff Group; Nuala O’Connor, President and CEO of the Center for Democracy & Technology; and CCHS director Frank J. Cilluffo.

The Task Force suggested 15 key short-term actions for the US federal government and the private sector to make, in order to enhance the ability of the private sector to legally and safely use active defense technologies and policies. Some of those recommendations are:

  • The Department of Justice should issue guidance to the private sector about what they will and will not prosecute — in both criminal and civil cases — when it comes to active defense of a company’s own security. Although the DOJ just made public some guidance it had issued to cyber crime prosecutors two years ago, this guidance does not specifically cover organization’s active defense.
  • The Department of Homeland of Security should develop operations for public-private coordination on active defense, using existing groups like industry ISACs, ISAOs and NCCIC.
  • The US State Department should work with foreign partners to develop standards and norms on active defense.
  • The White House should develop guidance for federal agencies on when and how it is appropriate to provide active defense support to the private sector. Beckner points out that while a large company in the financial industry might be able to carry out their active defense well enough on their own, other organizations may try to stretch beyond their capabilities. Better cooperation between the private and public sector to begin with will help agencies identify when it is appropriate to step in.  
  • NIST should develop guidelines, risk levels, and certifications for carring out various active defense guidelines. 
  • Federal agencies that conduct or fund research and development should invest more in active defense. Beckner said that there is a particular need for “tools that facilitate attribution.”   
  • Amend the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and Cybersecurity Act of 2015 to allow low- and medium-impact active defense measures. 
  • The creation of best practices for coordination between ISPs, hosting providers and cloud providers on active defense. The task force notes that third-party service providers like these will play a particularly significant role in active defense, particularly since so many companies also use security-as-a-service. They point to Google’s aid in Operation Aurora as an example.

Not all members of the Task Force, however, were in full support of its final recommendations. The report includes an appendix written by O’Connor, expressing her measured dissent. O’Connor wrote “the report advocates a more aggressive posture than I believe appropriate, and does not give adequate weight to security and privacy risks of some of the techniques it favors.”

She specifically takes issue with the technological tools of “dye packs” and “whitehat ransomware” — tools that allow for too loose of an interpretation of the CFAA’s rulings on unauthorized access to a computing device, even if the computing device in question is that of an attacker.

She further observes, “When it comes to risky defensive conduct that may cross the line and be unlawful, the report makes two observations that give me pause. First, that some cybersecurity firms might be given a license to operate as agents of the federal government and engage in conduct that would be unlawful for other private parties. Second, that the Department of Justice forbear prosecution of companies that engage in unlawful active defense measures.” She points to the collateral damage caused by Microsoft when it brought down millions of innocent websites during a 2014 botnet takedown operation.

Beckner says, however, that organizations need more security tools available to them. “What we’re trying to articulate,” he says, “is what rules should be in the toolkit going forward?”

Sara Peters is Senior Editor at Dark Reading and formerly the editor-in-chief of Enterprise Efficiency. Prior that she was senior editor for the Computer Security Institute, writing and speaking about virtualization, identity management, cybersecurity law, and a myriad … View Full Bio

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Nook Tablet 7 with Google Play Store support coming soon

The Galaxy Tab A NOOK was made available only last August with a $139 price tag. Fans of the Nook readers are about to see a new tablet in the form of the Nook Tablet 7. This one is only a rumor for now although we don’t doubt a new tablet will be introduced soon.

Barnes & Noble has already discontinued production but started to license the brand to other companies like Samsung. However, a Nook was spotted on an FCC listing, giving us the idea that a new Nook Tablet 7 might roll out.

Listed on the FCC file are the specs of a mysterious tablet starting from the 3000mAh battery to a MediaTek MT8163 quad-core ARM and Cortex-A53 processor, Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity, 3.5mm headphone jack, microSD card slot, and micro USB port. It appears Barnes & Noble is bringing back the Nook tablet if you we are to believe this FCC visit.

The old Nook tablets didn’t have Google Play Store support because the Nook App Store was the default. Interestingly, this new version is said to already run the Google Play Store which means you can download most Android apps available. The old Nook tablets have a special software where users can by content, newspapers, and ebooks but it might change soon based on the recent information we gathered.

VIA: Liliputing

Google Home spotted in a Walmart store before market release

Your home is about to get smarter and more “wired” as Google Home is now available from Walmart. Well, it’s not yet official but the device has been sighted on the retail store even before the commercial launch. We’re guessing some employee made an honest mistake of putting the units on the shelves. That’s interesting since a Xiaomi Mi box was only spotted in a Walmart branch ahead of official market availability.

Official release of the Google Home is November 4. Walmart already has the product so we know the scheduled release will be followed. Thing is, Walmart went ahead. Interestingly, the product isn’t available for sale yet when the source of this story tried to buy one.

Google Home costs $129. We know Google is slowly moving the Google Cast system to Google Home. We also know it can be integrated with Spotify and other similar apps.

Google Home with the Google Assistant directly rivals Amazon Echo and Alexa. Alexa may be more popular these days, being integrated with several products and services left and right, but the Google Assistant is more widely used. There’s also the fact that it’s from Google so the search function will be relevant and accurate.

Google Home is also expected to be integrated with other services and products especially that it’s finally integrated with IFTTT and a channel is now open.

VIA: Android Police