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How to thwart “porch pirates” this holiday season

Thanks to modern technology, we can buy just about anything online and get it delivered to our doorstep in a snap. Not only has that been insanely convenient for us, but it’s also created a giant window of opportunity for so-called “porch pirates” too. According to a recent report, at least 23 million Americans have had packages stolen from their porches, mailboxes, and stoops. Lucky for us though, there’s a there’s a slew of new high-tech sheriffs in town to put a stop to these pesky poachers.

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Time’s 50 Best Apps of the Year

Our favorite iPhone and Android apps of the year We’re increasingly reliant on the smartphones in our pockets to keep in touch with friends, watch movies and TV shows, and get work done. But the phones themselves would be meaningless without the software that, almost like magic, imbues them with new powers even their creators never thought possible. In that spirit, these are some of TIME’s 50 best iPhone and Android apps of the year. These are apps that were either released, had a notable redesign, or took off in popularity this year. The list is unranked, as the different functionality of each app makes them impossible to fairly compare.  The complete list can be found at – this list is those apps that are on both devices and are free (unless noted otherwise). What did we miss?

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The ransomware pandemic: how to beat the bad guys

Ransomware, a type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid, is a pandemic spreading across the world affecting all types of organizations. Ransomware payments are typically made via anonymous bitcoin transactions – where ransoms can cost anywhere from $500-$2,000 to unlock an average PC. The impact is spiraling to enormous levels and data collected by the FBI suggests that ransomware payments could reach more than one billion dollars this year. Even with the FBI’s research, it remains hard to scope the full scale of the problem because of the anonymity of cybercriminals and the difficulty of knowing precisely how many anonymous payments have been paid.

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World’s First Giant Outside Vacuum Cleaner to Filter Dirty Air

The invention was presented at the Offshore Energy trade fair in Amsterdam on Tuesday. “It’s a large industrial filter about 8 meters (26 feet) long, made of steel … placed basically on top of buildings and it works like a big vacuum cleaner,” company spokesman Henk Boersen told AFP. The firm describes their invention as the “world’s first giant outside air vacuum cleaner,” according to AFP.

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