Tag Archives: email

272 million emails and passwords leaked from Gmail, Hotmail and more



It seems that not a day goes by without some security news, usually in the form of a breach. There have been some big ones too, from Target to Home Depot, as well as online ones, including the embarrassing Ashley Madison one.

Now we have the latest news, and it’s up there with the largest in history. 272 million emails and passwords from the likes of Gmail, Hotmail and others have been leaked.

Before you panic too much, realize that the data obtained consisted largely of data that had been seen before. Hold Security, which broke this news, claims that “Only 0.45 percent is new, meaning that only 1 out of 200 credentials are ones we have never seen before”.

The hacker was simply trying to unload the data and contacted the security firm asking only 50 rubles, which is less than $1 US. Not wanting to contribute anything to this cause the Hold Security company negotiated and received the information for free.

Hold claims “When we peel back the layers and dig deeper, we find that the hacker is holding something back from us. Within several days of communication and after a couple more strategically timed votes on his social media pages, he shared more useful information. At the end, this kid from a small town in Russia collected an incredible 1.17 Billion stolen credentials from numerous breaches that we are still working on identifying. 272 million of those credentials turned out to be unique, which in turn, translated to 42.5 million credentials — 15 percent of the total, that we have never seen before”.

Yes, this has the potential to be very bad, but right now we just don’t know. We also don’t know why the hacker was trying to unload it so quickly and then ended up giving it away. Stay tuned as this unfolds.


Mailchimp Has Enhanced Automation Tools



Mailchimp logoI haven’t had the need to build many e-mail lists over the years. But on the rare occasion I do, I’ve found Mailchimp to be a good solution. Mailchimp’s template-based e-mail newsletter system makes it easy to compose nice looking messages, and its handy collection of plugins and widgets make it easy to add subscription tools to my WordPress sites. I haven’t delved deeply into all of the features Mailchimp has to offer. But it’s a pretty extensive set and it looks like the company is working to constantly improve them.

Recently, Mailchip announced it would be adding enhanced automation tools to its platform. These tools will allow users to:

  • Introduce new subscribers with an onboarding series
  • Automatically follow up with customers after a purchase
  • Surprise your best customers with a coupon based on purchase activity
  • Create custom workflows based on API calls
  • Connect with shopping cart integrations
  • Set up win-back campaigns using advanced post-send actions, and more

Mailchimp has also updated its interface, making the service’s drag-and-drop system even easier and more efficient to use. And while the tools themselves may seem simple on the outside, they open up a lot of possibilities for complex automated actions, based on how e-mail recipients respond to the messages they’ve received. Many of these features could be beneficial to Mailchimp customers who are running an online business.

To see more about what Mailchimp automation can do, click the link at the top of this post.


My.com Launches the First Mobile-Only Email Service



my.com logoMy.com is offering an interesting alternative to the desktop based email service that you are currently using. The @my.com email service is a mobile-only approach that has been designed to fit with the increasingly mobile-centric worldwide trend.

The @my.com email service functions within my.com’s myMail app (which was launched in November of 2013). The myMail mobile app was designed for managing multiple email accounts like Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, and more. Those who are currently using the myMail app can now add @my.com to that list. If you are already using myMail, you will be prompted to create a @my.com email account when your app is updated on your device.

Those who want to register for their own @my.com email address can do so now. Registration is open and it is 100% free. The myMail app is available for Apple iOS on iPad and iPhone and for Android smartphones. (The myMail app, by the way, is free to download).

Some of the features of myMail include push notifications, quick gestures for moving to folders or deleting, a clean user interface, and spam/virus protection. It also gives users 150 GB of free email storage. That is 10 times the amount of email storage that Google provides in Gmail!

You won’t need to create a password. Instead, you will receive an SMS code after you register for myMail. Once you use the SMS code, it becomes invalid for anyone else. In short, you won’t have to remember a yet another password and you won’t have to login to your email.

All email traffic through myMail is encrypted as an additional security measure. This is very different than the typical desktop based email service that can be compromised by hacking, phishing, or from a stolen password.


Philips Hue and IFTTT



Hue Personal Wireless LightingIn my first post on Philips Hue, I referred to “The Internet of things” where normally dumb devices such as fridges and washing machines are connected to the network. Having a washing machine with an IP address may mean that I can check whether the spin cycle has finished without getting out of my chair, but the real value of the internet of things comes when the devices start communicating among themselves. Not in a nefarious SkyNet way, but in a more practical sense: the washing machine counts the number of washes and when the soap is getting low, automatically orders your preferred brand from your preferred grocery service.

Obviously, it’s going to take a little while until this is a reality, but the web site IFTTT is beginning to show what is possible as more and more services are on-line and cloud-based. IFTTT is an abbreviation of “IThis, Then That” and reflects what IFTTT can do. It automates “If something happens, then I want that to happen”. In IFTTT-speak, a trigger on a channel generates an action on another (or the same) channel. A channel is typically an on-line or cloud-based service such as Twitter, Dropbox, Gmail, Evernote or Weather. An example of what could happen is, “If I get a tweet on Twitter, copy it to Evernote” or “Every morning at 7.00 am, text me the weather forecast”. These are recipes, as IFTTT calls them, and there’s a large range of them already cooked up on the IFTTT web site.

It’s at this point in the story that Philips Hue comes in as a channel on IFTTT, which means that the lights in your home can be controlled by external events via the recipes on IFTTT. Here are some examples of recipes already available; at sunset, turn on the lights; when it’s freezing outside, turn the lights blue; when you receive an email from a particular person, blink the links; when the stockmarket closes down, turn the lights red. Some recipes are perhaps more useful than others, but the range of channels means that there’s tremendous flexibility. There are currently 77 channels on IFTTT and you can browse by channel, so it’s easy to see all the recipes that involve Philips Hue.

Setting up your Hue to work with IFTTT is two step process but it only has to be done once. The first step is to register with the Philips Hue website and allow the site to access the bridge unit within your home. Once you’ve done this and have a username and password, you can control your lights from outside your home using the Hue app on your smartphone too, so it’s probably something that most Hue owners have already done.

Back at IFTTT, the second step is then to activate your Hue channel. You’ll need to supply your Hue username and password, and authorise IFTTT to access your account.

Activate Hue

Now I’m going reuse a recipe that someone else has already created. In this instance, I’m going to flash the lights when I receive an email with the latest GNC podcast. I’ve already activated my Gmail channel.

Gmail to Hue

All I have to do is put in the email address – geeknews at gmail.com – and any time I get an email from Todd, the lights flash. This is the basic recipe; there are others that use keywords or other information likely to be in an email. If I want to, I can choose one particular light or all of them. Once the information is typed in and the recipe has been activated, all I have to do is sit back and wait for the latest podcast email to come in. Blink, blink.

That’s it. All pretty straightforward. If you are more adventurous, you can delve deeper into the recipes to customise them to your needs but there are plenty on IFTTT to get you started and provide inspiration. Philips Hue aside, the insight into the possibilities of the “Internet of things” is incredible.

I hope you have enjoyed this short series of articles on Philips Hue. It’s the first time that I’ve done this kind of short serial, so I’d welcome feedback in the comments on whether to actively search out similar opportunities.

Thanks again to Philips for the loan of the Hue Personal Wireless Lighting System.


Microsoft pulls Outlook 2013 patch



Microsoft logoThis week was the monthly Patch Tuesday, a time when Microsoft sees fit to push out updates to various software, most notably Windows and Office. Its a tense time, thanks to past problems that have resulted in unbootable computers for some customers. This month did not cause anything quite so drastic, but it also did not pass without notice.

The company pushed a patch for Outlook 2013, but quickly had to pull that particular update from the set due to reports of customers having issues with KB2817630, which was a non-security update.

The problem arose from a version incompatibility between outlook.exe and mso.dll, a mismatched reference to a data structure causes the “minimize” button in the navigation pane to render incorrectly, typically by appearing extremely large to the point that the navigation pane is “invisible” to the user. The issue only appears when incompatible versions of outlook.exe and mso.dll exist on the system.

Not all versions of the latest Outlook for Office were affected:

Affected

  • Office 2013 Standard
  • Office 2013 Professional Plus

Not Affected

  • Office 2013 Home & Student
  • Office 2013 Home & Business
  • Office 2013 Professional
  • Office 365 Home Premium
  • Office 365 Professional Plus
  • Office 365 University
  • Office 365 Small Business Premium
  • Office 365 ProPlus
  • Office 365 Enterprise

Microsoft promises that it is “working on re-publishing the September Public Update with the correct versions of both mso.dll and outlook.exe to ensure users with automatic updates enabled will receive the correct fix. We will update this blog with further information as our schedule develops”.


Dispatch for iOs versus Mailbox for iOs



Dispatch I wish someone would make an iOs email application that would combine both Mailbox and Dispatch. Currently I am using a combination of both. I like Mailbox because it allows me to easily sweep emails I want to look at more closely later into three boxes Read, Buy or Watch. The rests are quickly archived or deleted.  I can also label an email to do later in the day, tomorrow, on the weekend, next week, in a month or a specific date. I subscribe to a lot of newsletters from websites like MacWorld, Fast Company, and TechDirt Daily and I like to quickly go through them and send the links I want to read later to Pocket . To do this in Mailbox I have to click on the link and then click share and then the email icon and then put in the Pocket email address and then re click the email icon and then hit send. The fact that I have to click the email icon twice doesn’t make sense to me and it is a constant source of irritation.

Then I saw a lot of people recommending  Dispatch, so I decided to take a look at it.   Unfortunately  I immediately ran into a problem, Dispatch doesn’t have labels or tags or folders, so when I first go through the email I can not organize my email into the various categories. My only option without opening the individual is to either leave it in the in box , delete or archive. I like to have the ability to label or tag them for later processing. However when you pull up an individual email, then the power of Dispatch comes through. You can quickly send the email to your favorite Getting Things Done GTD application like Omnifocus, or Things. You can also send an email to Evernote, Draft, or Create a Reminder, If you click on a link in an email you are then given the option of adding it to the Safari Reading List, opening the link in a browser, copying the link or sending it to your favorite read later application including Pocket and Instapaper. If it is an event link you can create a Calendar Event or a Reminder. If there is a phone number you can make a call, pull up Skype or FaceTime directly from the application.

As you can tell I really like Dispatch, but I miss the ability to use folders, tags or labels that Mailbox offers me. So I end up doing my initial process in Mailbox and once I am finished the initial processing I then move all the emails I haven’t archived back into the inbox. When I am ready to process those emails I open up Dispatch and go through the individual emails and send the links to what ever application makes sense: news links go to Pocket, receipts or things I’ve cancelled to Evernote, things I want or need to do in the future go to Omnifocus and those items that are due today go into the Reminder’s application. If I had to choose between Mailbox and Dispatch, I think I would choose Dispatch I really like how it is integrated with other applications, still though I would miss the folders in Mailbox.


New Gmail is Rubbish



Last night, Google pushed out the latest Gmail update for Android and I’ve spent the whole of today cursing the new app. What was a productivity tool has become an exercise in frustration and frankly I want to punch whoever thought up these changes (Disclaimer – Geek News Central does not condone any acts of violence).

Apparently Google thinks that there are only two types of people: those who archive and those who delete. If you are someone who archives and deletes regularly, you’re in trouble as Google has really screwed up the way archive and delete work together. To me it seems obvious that worthless emails should be deleted as soon as possible and that useful emails should be archived after reading. Google seem to have got it the other way round, making it impossible to delete worthless email without opening it. Here’s how Google has messed it up.

Gmail has a option in “General settings”called “Archive & delete actions”. It controls whether the archive and delete (wastebin) icons appear above an email. You can have only the archive icon, only the delete icon or both at the same time. I like having both so I can delete or archive emails quickly and as necessary. No problem so far, but….

Gmail OptionsGmail Icons

In the Conversation list, you can swipe emails off the screen. In the previous version, you could choose the behaviour directly – either no swiping, swipe to archive or swipe to delete. In this version, the swiping behaviour in the Conversation list is derived from the “Archive & delete actions”. Fine if you just archive or just delete, but in its wisdom, Google has chosen archiving to be the swipe behaviour if you choose to have both the archive and delete icons in show above the email.

No Delete

This is RUBBISH. Think how it works….I have a near-spam email that I have no interest whatsoever in reading. I want to swipe it into oblivion but I can’t because that would only archive it. I have to open the email before I can hit the delete button. But if I change the settings so that I can swipe to delete, archiving becomes a two-step operation – options menu and then archive. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Google, simply let people choose the swiping behaviour for themselves rather than forcing your useless assumptions on people.


Get Ready for Gmail Revamp – New Inbox on Desktop and Mobile Gmail Coming




Google has been doing some major updating as of late to try and make it all work together. Gmail is one of those items that is getting a revamp. Today on the Official Gmail Blog, Product Manager Itamar Gilad announced the new features of this version to Gmail.

From the Gmail Blog: We get a lot of different types of email: messages from friends, social notifications, deals and offers, confirmations and receipts, and more. All of these emails can compete for our attention and make it harder to focus on the things we need to get done. Sometimes it feels like our inboxes are controlling us, rather than the other way around.

The new Gmail inbox will include tabs to organize different emails. Inbox groups (as Google calls it) will organize mail into categorized tabs. So spammy posts can go to an “Offers” tab and friends can be put into another tab.

desktop[1]

The mobile version of Gmail will also have this option. You will need to download from Google Play or Apple iOS App Store to get these features.

If you don’t like the new inbox, simply switch it off and it goes away.

This feature is rolling out slowly. When you get the new feature, you will see a “Configure Inbox” option in the settings (the gear icon on the top-right).


Quick tip: Back out of the new Gmail Compose



Last week Google began rolling out its brand new Compose feature, a version that had been a part of Labs for testing over the past few months. Originally, it appeared that the roll out of that feature to all users was irrevocable, but now we have learned that is not actually the case….yet.

As it turns out, Google has built in a way to go back to the old compose feature and, no, this is not part of the company’s annual raft of April Fool’s jokes.

When you click the Compose button and receive the new pop-out box that it generates, simply move your mouse to the bottom right of the screen and click the down arrow that appears there. From here you will find an option to “Temporarily switch back to the old compose”. Its that simple. However, the resulting warning does let you know that this feature will be going away “soon”.

gmail compose switch


Gmail rolls out a new Compose interface



This week Google began rolling out a new Compose interface for Gmail. If you have not yet received then you soon will — it is spreading to users gradually. The new look is based on a version that has been tested as a Labs feature for some time now, and Google spent that time looking for input from those brave souls who opted to test it out.

Now, according to product manager Phil Sharp, the company is “ready to introduce the new compose experience as the default for everyone. We’re looking forward to hearing what you think”.

Changes include, not only a completely new look, but also the ability to send files using Google Drive, pop-out replies and support for originally missing features like starring and labeling when composing and the Canned Responses lab.

gmail compose

You will not need to do anything to get all of this — it will come to you, even if you do not want it. The announcement was made by Google two days ago and it found its way  into my Gmail this morning. When it finds you it will pop up a box explaining how the features work. There is no option to go back.