Google launches advanced Gmail security features for high-risk users

(Reuters) – Alphabet’s Google Inc said on Tuesday that it would roll out an advanced protection program in order to provide stronger security for some users such as government officials and journalists who are at a higher risk of being targeted by hackers.

The internet giant said that users of the program would have their account security continuously updated to deal with emerging threats.

The company said it would initially provide three defenses against security threats, which include blocking fraudulent account access and protection against phishing.

The program would include additional reviews and requests in the account recovery process to prevent fraudulent access by hackers who try to gain access by pretending they have been locked out.

The rollout of a suite of new email security services by Google follows a U.S. presidential election last year that was shaped in part by the disclosure of emails by anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks belonging to associates of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton that were obtained through phishing schemes.

U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that those hacks, which included a breach of Clinton campaign manager John Podesta’s personal Gmail account, were carried out by Russia as part of a broader cyber campaign to help President Donald Trump, a Republican, win the White House.

“If John Podesta had Advanced Protection last year, the world might be a very different place,” said Joseph Lorenzo Hall, chief technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology, who was briefed on the new features by Google.

Hall said the new features would grow the amount of high-risk consumers with strong protections against phishing campaigns, but that they would potentially create compatibility issues among some who already integrate custom security tools with their Gmail account.

Reporting by Philip George in Bengaluru and Dustin Volz in San Francisco; Editing by Sunil Nair

Tech

Microsoft launches meeting app Invite for iPhone, coming soon to Android and Windows Phone

Microsoft today launched a new standalone app for scheduling meetings called Invite. Available only for iPhone users in the U.S. and Canada for now, you can download Invite now directly from Apple’s App Store.

Here is how it works. First you suggest times that work for you, and then invite attendees to vote. You can send invites to anyone with an email address — even if they are outside your organization. The recipients select all the times they can attend from the app itself or from a browser, once votes are in, you pick the time that works best.

The best part is that anyone invited can see what options work best for other attendees, and suggest their own times as well. The sender chooses a final date and time whenever they’re ready, hitting Send Calendar Invites to get it on everyone’s calendars.

Here is how Microsoft explains its thinking behind the app:

Invite is designed to overcome the biggest obstacle when scheduling meetings — not being able to see the calendars of attendees outside your organization. As a result, your proposed meeting can be repeatedly declined until you find a time that works.

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Certain events and meetings can be moved if something more important comes up, but only each person knows best where they are flexible. By letting attendees pick times that work for them, even when it means moving one of their own meetings, can stop that meeting from being scheduled on a Friday evening.

Invite is mainly designed for users with Office 365 business and school accounts. That said, the app also works with any email account, including Outlook.com, Gmail, and Yahoo Mail.

The app’s launch and limitations are very similar to Microsoft’s Send, a lightweight email app that debuted in July. Like Send, Invite is starting out as iPhone-only, available only in two countries, and with the promise of “coming soon” to Android and Windows Phone.

Invite is the latest in a long line of apps to emerge from Microsoft Garage, the software giant’s lab for experimental tinkering. At this rate, Microsoft will soon have more experimental apps than “final” apps.

And that’s okay, as long as some of them are eventually released or integrated into existing products.

More information:

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Samsung Gear VR launches before December for $99

We already knew Samsung’s final Gear VR was coming in 2015. Now we have a price and a better sense of the release timing.

The mobile-based virtual reality headset will launch in North America “in time for Black Friday” and worldwide “shortly after,” as Samsung SVP of Technology Strategy Peter Koo revealed when he took the stage at the Oculus Connect keynote on Thursday. It’ll sell for $ 99.

The final build of the Gear VR is 22% lighter than the “Innovator Edition” that first launched in Dec. 2014. It’s also got a revised design that does away with the top head strap and a smarter design for the side-mounted touchpad, with an directional pad-shaped indentation that should make blindly operating the controls more convenient. Read more…

More about Mobile, Entertainment, Gaming, Samsung, and Tech


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Google launches its Keep note-taking app for iOS

Google today launched Google Keep for iOS. You can download the new app now directly from Apple’s App Store.

We’re a bit surprised it took Google this long to debut an iOS app for its note-taking service. Google Keep first launched way back in March 2013 for Android and the Web, meaning the iOS version is showing up 30 months later. Google even brought Google Keep to Android Wear, its smartwatch platform, in June 2014.

Nonetheless, Google says the features Google Keep users have come to expect on Android and the Web are now available to iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch users. That means iOS users can search and filter notes by color and type (images, audio, and text), add labels, set time or location-based reminders, and share notes for basic real-time collaboration.

Here is the full feature list, from the iTunes description:

  • Capture, edit, share, and collaborate on your notes on any device, anywhere.
  • Add notes, lists, photos, and audio to Keep.
  • Organize your notes with labels and colors.
  • Set and forget. Get reminded about a note at the right time or place.
  • Record a voice memo and have it automatically transcribed.
  • Grab the text from an image to help you quickly find that note again through search.

This release isn’t going to convert Evernote or OneNote users, as both have iOS apps with plenty of features. If, however, you’re already using Google Keep on another one of your devices, being able to access your notes on your Apple gadget is a welcome addition. If you’re a Windows Phone user, we wouldn’t hold our breath until Google shows some interest in Windows 10.

While it appears this is a full-featured release, we have asked Google if there is anything missing from the iOS app that is currently available on Android and the Web. We will update you if we learn anything new.

More information:

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Ashton Kutcher invests in esports startup Unikrn as it launches global platform

First, billionaire investor and Shark Tank television celebrity Mark Cuban invested in Unikrn. Now Ashton Kutcher and Guy Oseary are investing in the esports gaming startup through their Sound Ventures investment firm. Unikrn is also launching its global platform today.

Following on a $ 7 million investment that included Cuban, the deal is another sign that esports is maturing, and that entrepreneurs are figuring out ways to make money from the tens of millions of people who regularly watch esports matches for fun. Seattle-based Unikrn has created a web site where you can bet on matches with your favorite esports athletes in games such as League of Legends, Counter-Strike Global Offensive, Dota 2, and others.

The company was founded in November by Rahul Sood, a former Microsoft executive and founder of gaming PC maker Voodoo PC, and Karl Flores, another gaming entrepreneur.

The previous investment round was led by Jonathan Teo and Justin Caldbeck of Binary Capital, who are known for early investing in companies such as Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Whisper, and Taskrabbit. Besides Cuban, other investors include Advancit Capital, Freelands Group, 500 Startups, Indicator Ventures, and Tabcorp.

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To date, Unikrn has raised $ 10 million in its short life. But the company is moving fast to take advantage of the growth of esports. According to ESPN, 27 million people tuned in to watch the 2014 finals of the League of Legends World Championship. That is more than watched the final game of the World Series (23.5 million) or the NBA Finals (18 million). The global audience on Twitch is more than 100 million monthly active users.

The company launched its Unikrn Arena Global around the world. It’s a virtual arena where users can earn “Unikoins” by participating in various activities and then use the virtual currency to increase their chances of winning prizes. Unikrn is also launching its Unikrn Vault companion app, which will be available soon on Android and iOS.

Unikrn currently works on either mobile or desktop, and it operates only in jurisdictions where betting on esports is legal.

Sood was recently general manager of Microsoft Ventures, but he quit that job to start Unikrn with Flores, the former CEO of online gaming advertising firm Pinion.

“I’ve had the pleasure of investing and being involved in a number of outstanding startups, and Unikrn stood out because they are completely changing how people engage with eSports,” said Kutcher, in a statement.  “esports are mainstreaming, and Unikrn Arena provides fans with an additional level of excitement not found elsewhere.”

Kutcher and Oseary are active tech investors, and they have taken stakes in Airbnb, Foursquare, Skype, SoundCloud, Square, Zenefits, and Uber.

“I’m thrilled to be launching Unikrn Arena to the world, and releasing the Unikrn Vault App to allow our users to generate Unikoins is something we’re all really excited about,” said Rahul Sood, CEO Unikrn, in a statement. “At the same time, bringing Ashton Kutcher and Guy Oseary on was a big deal for me. They are well known for picking winning consumer technology companies and are incredibly connected.  We’re looking forward to working with their team to help make Unikrn Arena a big success.”

Unikrn is now offering daily “quests” that provide the chance to earn Unikoins, which can be used to win prizes from companies such as: Alienware, Caseking, Funko, Gunnar, HP, HyperX, and Logitech. Types of quests include “Betting Quests,” which reward users for placing bets on Unikrn; “Social Quests,” which reward users for engaging with their friends and/or social networks; and “Trivia Questions,” where users can answer questions about the games being played on Unikrn.

Above: Ashton Kutcher

Image Credit: s_bukley/Shutterstock

 

 

 

 

 

 

VB’s research team is studying web-personalization… Chime in here, and we’ll share the results.



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