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Technology News Briefs — Feb. 27, 2013

tech_newsAdobe Releases Critical Flash Update

Adobe has released an unexpected security update to address three critical flaws in Flash, two of which are already being exploited by hackers.

Hackers are instigating “targeted attacks designed to trick the user into clicking a link which directs to a website serving malicious Flash (SWF) content,” Adobe said in a security bulletin.

Affected versions of the software are: Adobe Flash Player 11.6.602.168 and earlier versions for Windows, Adobe Flash Player 11.6.602.167 and earlier versions for Macintosh and Adobe Flash Player  and earlier versions for Linux.

Adobe alloted a Priority 1 rating to the flaws being exploited on Windows and Mac OS X and is urging users of both operating systems to install the update within 72 hours. Priority 1 is Adobe’s highest threat level.

It identifies “vulnerabilities being targeted, or which have a higher risk of being targeted, by exploit(s) in the wild.” A Flash vulnerability facing Linux users was given a Priority 3 rating, which refers to “a product that has historically not been a target for attackers.”

Instagram Reaches 100M Active Users Monthly

The popularity of photo-sharing app Instagram has skyrocketed in the past year going from 27 million to 100 million active users each month.

Company co-founder Kevin Systrom announced the milestone in a sentimental blog post on Tuesday evening (Feb. 26).  Systrom thanked users of the app and highlighted some special user stories.

“It’s easy to see this as an accomplishment for a company, but I think the truth is that it’s an accomplishment for our community,” he wrote. “Now, more than ever, people are capturing the world in real-time using Instagram—sharing images from the farthest corners of the globe. What we see as a result is a world more connected and understood through photographs.”

Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, obviously has not suffered from its infamous proposed privacy policy late last year that enraged many of the apps’ users. Set to set to take effect in January, the policy was interpreted by many users as giving Instagram the right to sell members’ uploaded photos without their permission and without compensation.

“To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, you agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you,” the terms of service read.

Many users threatened to leave the service, believing Instagram would soon have the right to grab users pictures and other data to promote itself on its website or in advertising without mention of or compensation to the owner of the images.

Systrom, however, did some quick backtracking and reverted Instagram’s original policy.

Foursquare Pens Deal With Visa, MasterCard

Foursquare has struck a deal with MasterCard and Visa that enables users to sync their credit cards with the mobile check-in site to nab discounts at more than 100,000 different businesses.

The site struck a similar deal with American Express two years ago. While American Express has its own custom technology powering the purchase-to-credit process, Foursquare has teamed up with First Data and CardSpring to expand its credit card specials to Visa and Mastercard as well as debit cards.

Once a user syncs his credit or debit card to his Foursquare account, he simply checks in and pays. The savings automatically appear on his statement.

“To kick things off, we’ve partnered with Burger King to bring you specials at their over 6,500 locations across the U.S. (just look for the orange and white card icon in the app),” reads the FourSquare blog. “Connect your card now in your iOS or Android app settings or on the Web.”

American Express users, meanwhile, are being offered a special deal: spend $20, get $5 back the next time they check in to a movie at an AMC theater.

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