If you thought the Adobe hack was bad, you should see the user data

Computer securityBy now you have likely heard of the attack on Adobe — the one that seemed to grow worse with each new bit of information. What started out sounding like a problem quickly deteriorated into disaster. Originally said to affect some three million customers, the number swelled to 38,000,000 and finally landed at 150,000,000.

But there were bigger concerns than just just that — security firm Sophos analyzed the compromised data and released a case study of its findings. The results are staggering, in terms of what it revealed about the average computer user.

Sophos lodged an almost immediate complaint regarding the situation — “One of our complaints was that Adobe said that it had lost encrypted passwords, when we thought the company ought to have said that it had lost hashed and salted passwords”, the security firm states in the report.

Then the data analysis begins. The number one password, used by 1.9 million customers, was “123456”, while “password” followed in second place. Appearing at the 25th slot on that list was “LetMeIn”. You can’t make this stuff up, folks. One user’s password hint read “try: qwerty123″, while another user cryptically stated his hint as “rhymes with assword”. The sad list goes on.

Sophos points out that “With very little effort, we have already recovered an awful lot of information about the breached passwords, including: identifying the top five passwords precisely, plus the 2.75% of users who chose them; and determining the exact password length of nearly one third of the database”.

Image Credit: Bigstock

Adobe Releases Photoshop Elements 11 and Premiere Elements 11

The more creative folks among us will be excited to hear that today Adobe has introduced new versions of both Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements.  The photo and video editing programs, which are stand-alone apps, have both gone to version 11 and are available immediately.

Photoshop Elements 11 features a brand new user interface with Quick, Guided and Expert editing modes, one-click options, action bar and bigger icons.  Users can also organize photos based on people, places (via Google maps geo-tagging) or events, new Guided Edits, new filters and the ability to share photos via email, Facebook and more.

Premiere Elements 11 also features a newly-designed user interface with many of the same updates we mentioned for Photoshop Elements.   The new version also comes with a wider range of  effects, transitions, themes, titles, disc menus and professional-level effects and sound.  A FilmLooks features has been added which Adobe describes as a way to “easily apply slow and fast motion effects; dial-in colors with slider controls; effortlessly integrate blends for seamless transitions; and make adjustments with Quick Presets”.

Both apps can be purchased separately or as a bundle.  While many software updates introduce so few changes that they aren’t worth users shelling out the money for the upgrade, version 11 of the Adobe Elements software seems to make the upgrade a worthwhile move for those who want to make the jump.

One More Reason to Get Rid of Flash

Usage of Adobe Flash on the internet has been on the decline for sometime now and most users view that as a good thing.  Flash, while being a great technology, has proven problematic over the years.  There have been countless security vulnerabilities, endless updates from Adobe, and many fake versions that have compromised unsuspecting users.  Now, the folks over at HTTP Archive have added one more reason to the growing list of why Flash is bad.

They recently conducted a study of the response, or download, time for some prominent web site features including Flash, Javascript, HTML, CSS, and several different image formats.  The results probably aren’t really that surprising in the sense that most of us already knew that Flash could be slow and cumbersome.  However, just how much slower than virtually all of the other web technologies, may come as a bit of a shock.  Flash is almost 4 times slower than the second slowest technology, JPEG.  The chart they published, which can be seen below, shows the “average response size” in kilobits (kb).

Flash was once the darling of the internet, but it has slowly been replaced by newer, more efficient, technologies that can bring dynamic content to web sites with much better performance.

object response size

Source: HTTP Archive is a site that analyzes thousands of web pages each month to get these types of statistics.

Adobe CS6 Production Premium Release to be Previewed at NAB 2012

Adobe Production Premium is a suite of apps geared towards video production.  The suite includes such Adobe software as Premier Pro, After Effects, Audition, and more.  Today Adobe released word that they will be showing off version 6, or CS6 as it’s known, at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show which gets underway on April 14th.

NAB will be running April 14-19 at the Las Vegas Convention Center and Adobe, in addition to showing off CS6, will be “participating in the NAB Post|Production World Keynote, which will address how the intersection of creativity and technology can help video professionals create impactful, engaging work more quickly than ever before. Adobe product manager Steve Forde will be joined  by two-time Academy-Award Winner Rob Legato , Steve Wozniak, and Fusion-io director of entertainment Vincent Brisebois.”  That event will take place on April 15 at 10:30am.

Here is some of what Adobe claims they will reveal in CS6:

  • Powerful new versions of Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe After Effects, Adobe Audition, Adobe Story, Adobe Media Encoder and Adobe Photoshop
  • The debut of SpeedGrade CS6 for professional color grading
  • The introduction of Prelude CS6 for logging and ingesting file-based and metadata workflows
  • An elegant new user interface for Premiere Pro CS6  and  the inclusion of OpenCL support in the Mercury Playback Engine
  • A significant boost for After Effects in performance and 3D capability

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Adobe Lightroom 4 Officially Released

Adobe announced today the official final version of Lightroom 4 is now available.  Lightroom is a popular photo editing tool that is used by many amateur and professional photographers alike.  Lightroom is part of Adobe’s Photoshop family, but is a cheaper and more dedicated version geared specifically towards working with digital photos.

Adobe claimed they had 300,000 users of the public beta version of Lightroom 4 and used all of that feedback to make changes before their final release.  Changes made since the Beta version include:

  • Reverse geocoding now available in the Map Module
  • Revamped and improved auto tone in Develop based on new controls
  • Increased range of local white balance controls (temperature and tint)
  • Updated Develop presets plus added new presets for video
  • Maximum Blurb book size is now 240 pages
  • Over 800 bugs found and fixed!

Lightroom 4 is available now for $149.  You can also download a free trial version if you want to check it out first.  You can buy it or download the trial from Adobe.

Adobe Releases Photoshop Touch for iPad

Adobe recently announced their new Photoshop Touch app for the iPad.  The app was specifically designed for the tablet interface, and is the new centerpiece of the Adobe Touch Apps.  “Photoshop Touch combines the magic of Photoshop and its core features with the convenience of a tablet, bringing image-editing power to the fingertips of millions of people.”

Photoshop Touch gives users the ability to create layered photos, touch up pictures, paint, remove parts of an image by utilizing Refine Edge technology from Photoshop, which makes hard-to-select areas with soft edges easy to capture when making selections.

The app was announced on February 27th at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain and is available now from the iTunes App Store for $9.99.

Adobe Set to Launch SocialAnalytics October 20th

Social Networks have become big for individuals, but perhaps even bigger for businesses.  Almost every company today has a presence on Facebook and Twitter, and if they don’t then they are looking at how to create one.  Many of those companies are also left wondering what all of it really means and what impact it’s having for them.  Web sites are old hat now – there are countless analytics programs to measure them, but social media can still be considered the wild west.

Today, word leaked out that Adobe will be showing off their new SocialAnalytics program for the first time tomorrow in Stockholm, Sweden at Munchen Bryggeriet.  SocialAnalytics is designed to let businesses know exactly what kind of impact their social media presence is having and what they can do to improve upon it.

“Adobe® SocialAnalytics is the first social media analytics solution to measure the impact of social media on business. It enables marketers to directly measure their social media efforts, and understand how conversations on social networks and online communities influence marketing performance. Using Adobe SocialAnalytics, marketers can manage their strategy and investments in social media based on measurable outcomes and in the context of broader, multichannel marketing efforts.”

This is very short notice, but Adobe’s Caroline Mildenborn provided this link to register for the event.  It’s a chance to see the software in-action for the first time and learn what it can really do and what kind of information it provides.

Adobe BrowserLab 1.6.4

Given the people who read this blog, as well as write for it, I doubt I am a minority when I say I have, and use, multiple web browsers on my computers.  At any given time you can find Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome on my PC’s.  I haven’t yet succumbed to adding Safari or Opera, or any of the lesser-known flavors, but I am a regular on the big three.

Web developers are a whole different story.  They need to check and verify everything they do in every browser that has any type of user-base.  Not to mentions other applications like Flash.  There is an easier way than installing and updating all of these, though.

Today Adobe announced the latest version of BrowserLab – 1.6.4.  BrowserLab allows you to test web sites and web apps within the application against all of the major browsers, plus Flash.  The latest version of BrowserLab adds support for the following applications.

  • Chrome 14 was added (Windows), and Chrome 11 was removed
  • Firefox 7 was added (Mac OS X and Windows), and Firefox 4 was removed
  • Safari was updated to 5.1 (Mac OS X)
  • Flash Player was updated to 10.3.183.10 (Mac OS X and Windows)

They keep it up-to-date, but it’s generally a bit behind browser releases.  Plus, they are promising Flash 11 (already available) in the next version.  Still, it’s much easier than trying to manage all of this yourself.  If you develop apps and don’t know about this yet, then you will want to head over to Adobe BrowserLab to check it out.

Adobe to End Support for Flash and Acrobat 8

One thing about Adobe products is that changes come quickly.  Unfortunately, that’s due, in large part, to their ever-present security vulnerabilities.  Of course, Flash and Acrobat are the targets because of their overwhelming market share.  Hackers always gravitate to where the most potential victims are.  Adobe, for their part, has become pretty good at getting out the updates to try and stay one step ahead of trouble.  Since they pop up notifications about updates most users probably stay pretty close to current, but there are always stragglers and procrastinators.

If you aren’t keeping track, we are currently at Flash version 11 and Acrobat version X.  And, just a little while ago, Adobe announced that they will be ending support for Flash and Acrobat versions 8.  Adobe released a technote about it explaining the end-of-support process and what you can expect, but an Adobe rep summed it up with the simple “Upgrade… as quickly as possible.”

Adobe provides five years of product support, starting from the general availability date of Adobe Reader and Adobe Acrobat. In line with this policy, support for Adobe Reader 8.x and Adobe Acrobat 8.x will end on November 3 2011.

End of Support means that Adobe no longer provides technical support or distributes runtimes. This policy affects product and security updates for all derivatives of a product or product version (localized versions, minor upgrades, operating systems, dot and double-dot releases, and connector products.)

As noted above, support will end on November 3rd, which is now less than a month away.  Most people should already have upgraded, and hopefully kept up with security updates, but if you haven’t then go do so now.  If you would like more information, you can read the entire technote.

Adobe Rolling Out Connect Mobile 1.7

Yesterday, Adobe announced the release of Connect Mobile version 1.7.  The Android version is now available, and the Blackberry and iPhone versions are coming soon.

If you aren’t familiar with Connect Mobile, then here is a brief introduction.  Adobe Connect is a web conferencing tool, geared mainly towards business users.  In other words, it’s mostly an enterprise tool.  It allows businesses to hold training classes and meetings online, thereby saving the cost of paying travel expenses for those involved. It’s based on Adobe Flash (like most Adobe products) which allows it to be used for richer content.

For enterprise level deployment they offer several tiers of hosted plans that I won’t bore you with the details of here.  If, however, you are interested in it individually, then you have two options.  The first is a $45 per month subscription, which gets you 9 hosts and allows each host to control webinars with up to 25 in attendees.  The second is a pay-per-use plan, which will cost you $0.32 per user per minute.  You can check enterprise and individual plans here.

You can download version 1.7 for Android from the Android Market.  Keep and eye on the Blackberry App World and iTunes App Store for those versions to show up in the very near future.