- Whonix 17: A Privacy-focused Debian-based Distribution
- Arc 1.0 Browser Available for Download
- Mozilla has Updated Common Voice's Speech Datasets
- Zeek 6 for Network Security Monitoring
- GitHub: New Rules for Branch Protection
- Microsoft's Bing Chatbot in Chrome and Safari
- Promoting Google's Web Integrity API
- New location for better Central and South American regions connection
Once again, we bring you news from the world of development and administration. This is the monthly digest, from OS releases and tools to the controversy surrounding Google's new Web Environment Integrity API!
Whonix 17: A Privacy-focused Debian-based Distribution
Whonix is focused on providing enhanced security and privacy. It is worth noting that the Tor network provides anonymity on the Internet, which is distributed across the entire computer. Accordingly, the default Whonix browser is Tor and it is bundled with the operating system. Why Tor Browser?
The distribution is based on Debian GNU/Linux, which runs on multiple virtual machines.
The main feature of Whonix is that it works on two independent components: Whonix-Gateway, which implements a network gateway for anonymous communication, and Whonix-Workstation with a desktop. In case of an attack on Whonix-Workstation, a third party would only be able to obtain fake network parameters. The real IP address and DNS settings are hidden behind the Whonix gateway, which only routes traffic through the Tor network. This is another plus for privacy.
As for the current release of Whonix 17, the package tree has been updated from Debian 11 to Debian 12, the Tor browser has been updated to branch 12.5, Tor packages from stable Debian are used instead of the Tor Project repository, zsh is enabled by default for new builds, and more.
Arc 1.0 Browser Available for Download
The Browser Company's Arc browser has completed beta testing and is now available to all users. Previously, the ability to use the new browser was by invitation only.
The only downside is that the Arc installer is only currently available for MacOS 12.1; later, a Windows version is planned or in development.
On its official website, Arc is positioned as the Chrome replacement "you've been waiting for." Powered by the open source Chromium engine, the browser offers a new level of experience, including creating profiles for different tasks and personalizing your space. The minimalist, lightweight, uncluttered design is eye-catching and provides a truly user-friendly experience.
Instead of the familiar Chrome tab bar, Arc offers a versatile sidebar where you can use tab previews and rename tabs so you don't have to sort through many keywords. Another creative tool in the new browser is creating and sharing a mood board of collected text and images. If you didn't like the extra steps of playing a video in picture-in-picture mode or pressing shortcut keys ten times to copy a page's URL, Arc has solved those problems, too, reducing them to a single click.
According to Arc's creator, Josh Miller, the browser is not designed to sell user data to third-party companies trying to sell you another product. Nor does Arc intend to become a monopoly in the browser market. Monetization is certainly important, but it's a future goal of the company, which plans to achieve it through a freemium model (as Notion, Figma, and Slack do).
Mozilla has Updated Common Voice's Speech Datasets
Mozilla has updated the Common Voice datasets, which contain recorded voices spoken by over 200,000 people. The data has been released as public domain (CC0, which means that the author waives his rights and allows unrestricted use of the material).
The sets of recordings and text files can become indispensable material for those involved in designing and developing machine learning systems. The collection contains more than 28 thousand hours of voice recordings in 112 languages. Each recording consists of a unique MP3 file and a corresponding text file containing demographic metadata such as the speaker's age, gender, and accent.
In general, the Common Voice project aims to organize the work to accumulate a database of voice templates that can include a variety of voices, mannerisms, accents, etc.
Zeek 6 for Network Security Monitoring
Zeek is a major global network security monitoring platform, more specifically, a free and open source network analysis software framework. After starting development in February, the Zeek team introduced the new Zeek 6 release in July.
For users working with JSON data, there is now a way to load JSON into a scripting layer, with a built-in function that allows flexible reading of JSON strings into Zeek records.
Read more about Zeek 6's new features in the official release.
GitHub: New Rules for Branch Protection
GitHub has released rules to protect branches and code consistency in repositories. The new rules allow multiple branch templates to be protected and pull requests to be skipped without additional permissions. At the same time, administrators can bypass pull requests with CodeQL checks.
The ability to create custom rule sets is necessary to ensure consistency across repositories or parts of repositories. Defining a different custom rule set does not change the protection rules that apply to repositories. It is also possible to manage rules without removing them completely and to overlay rule sets.
According to the announcement, GitHub Enterprise Cloud users can apply these rules to all or part of their repositories. To see the results of rejecting outdated revisions or enabling linear merge history, simply enable the new rule evaluation mode instead of figuring it out on the fly. Branch names, commit messages, and author email addresses can be controlled to ensure organizational standards.
Microsoft's Bing Chatbot in Chrome and Safari
Bing AI powered by ChatGPT-4 may soon become the new mainstream AI tool for everyday users in popular browsers. Bing AI has been available to Microsoft Edge users since late February, and now Microsoft has begun expanding support for Bing.com AI to browsers like Chrome and Safari. Microsoft claims that Bing AI will soon be available to everyone.
Bing uses language models built by Microsoft and OpenAI, which are neural networks trained on books, research papers, and more. In addition, Bing AI is trained on search results, which allows the AI to independently search the global web, scan data, and provide enhanced answers to the user.
At the moment, Bing AI can not work on the same principle as the classic ChatGPT and answer requests without access to the Internet. However, Microsoft said it is actively developing a search-free mode.
Microsoft's statement also said that Bing will remain free for normal use. The business version of Bing will work on a paid basis.
Promoting Google's Web Integrity API
Google released the first version of the Web Environment Integrity specification (which works similarly to DRM) and announced that it plans to include its implementation in the code base of Chromium and the Blink engine.
Google representatives said that the API will allow to confirm the reality of the user and the device and that the browser is not modified or infected with malware. The introduction of the API in browsers should also help screen bot traffic when displaying ads, combat automated spam and rating spoofing in social networks, and protect against brute forcing and phishing attacks.
Another innovation will be Web Environmental Integrity's detection of any manipulation to view copyrighted content. Encrypted Media Extensions will help with this.
The motivation behind the creation of the technology is the need to detect fraud on the part of both users and web environments. Thus, Web Environment Integrity is designed to create a trusted relationship.
Information about this API is published by an employee of the company and not in the official repository. However, there is already a debate that technology contradicts the principles of freedom in the Web space.
New location for better Central and South American regions connection
is*hosting conquers new US cities and introduces a new VPS location on the Gulf Coast - Tampa, USA.
Expanding locations in the United States is an important strategic move for is*hosting's infrastructure and to provide exceptional network connectivity to the Central and South American regions. What does it mean? Faster and more reliable connectivity, lower latency, and an overall higher level of hosting services for those choosing locations in the Western Hemisphere.
With the addition of Tampa to is*hosting's infrastructure, you can now choose the optimal server location that perfectly matches your target audience. VPS in Tampa is already available for ordering!