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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Google Names Facebook Most Visited Site

Google has publicly released a list of the top 1000 websites in the world, raking the Facebook social networking site as the leading Web property by unique users. According to Google's AdPlanner stats, Facebook scores more than 540 million unique visitors per month, reaching a sizable chunk of 35.2 percent of the Internet population and has totaled more than 570 billion page views.

A noteworthy entry on the 18th spot in the AdPlanner rankings is Twitter (#18), with 98 million unique visitors per month and destination portals such as (#2) and (#5) are also high on the list, probably due to the fact that many people use these sites as their home page.

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Man Infects Himself with (Computer) Virus

Dr. Mark Gasson, a cybernetics expert at the University of Reading, deliberately infected himself (by way of an RFID chip implanted in his wrist) with a benign computer virus. This was part of an experiment designed to show how implantable bionic devices are susceptible to computer viruses.

The device in Gasson's arm is an RFID (radio-frequency identification) chip that emits a signal and allows him to access certain parts of the University of Reading laboratory, as well as operate his cell phone. In other words, the chip functions as an internal swipe-card.

Gasson and his colleagues then created a virus for the chip. They put it on the chip and Gasson went into the lab and when the lab's computers read the code, the virus implanted itself into the database and began to replicate. This experiment shows that viruses can be transferred wirelessly from implant devices to the computers they communicate with.

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Note to Facebook on Privacy: How About Opt-In, Not Opt Out?

Staring down a storm of criticism around privacy issues on Facebook, CEO Mark Zuckerberg promised today to give users an easy way to opt out of third-party services. Probably, though, most users would be a lot happier if Facebook came up with a simple approach to opting into those services, rather than out of them.

Public outcries over unwanted visibility of users’ Facebook information has reached the halls of Congress, spurring U.S. Senator Charles Schumer to release an open letter last month asking the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to produce privacy guidelines for all social networking sites, including Twitter and MySpace, for example, along with Facebook, as well as to keep a close eye on compliance.

Facebook’s existing controls are complicated. In fact, Facebook currently has something like 170 different privacy options and 50 privacy settings.

In an informal poll conducted by Internet security firm Sophos, 60 percent of 1,588 Facebook users said either that they’d “possibly” leave Facebook because of privacy concerns, or that they were “highly likely” to do so, while 16 percent said they’d already canceled their Facebook accounts.

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Germany Asks Google to Surrender Private Data

Google came under increased pressure in Europe over its collection of private data from unsecured home wireless networks, as a German regulator threatened legal action if the company did not surrender a hard drive for inspection.

The German demand underscored the seriousness of the quandary Google now faced following its admission last Friday that it had stored the snippets of Web sites and personal e-mail messages from people around the world while compiling its Street View photo archive.

Through a spokesman, Google reiterated its offer to destroy the WLAN data in conjunction with regulators, but stopped short of saying it would hand over a hard drive.

Google last week said it had collected 600 gigabytes of data from unsecured wireless area networks, or WLANS, from around the world as its roving cars compiled a photo archive for Street View.

Google has said its WLAN catalogue was designed to enhance its mobile advertising service, which can alert mobile phone users to nearby businesses and other attractions by often pinpointing their locations through WLANs.

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Facebook Unveils New Security Features

Facebook took the wraps off two new security features aimed at protecting users from phishers and other online scammers.

"At Facebook, we're constantly working on new ways to protect you from scams and help you keep your account and information secure," wrote Lev Popov , a Facebook software engineer, in a blog post.

One of the new features, now available to all Facebook users, is designed to allow users to approve the devices they use to log in and then be notified whenever their account is accessed from a device they haven't approved.

Facebook also is taking steps to block suspicious logons.

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Mozilla sets Firefox 4 release for November

Mozilla plans to ship a beta of Firefox 4 next month, and a final by the end of November, a company executive said. Mike Beltzner, the director of Firefox, spelled out not only the timeline for the next major upgrade, but also outlined the new features, changes and technology enhancements the company hopes to pack into the browser.

It will include technology that splits some plug-in processes from the core browser. That technology and associated project, dubbed "Lorentz," prevents crashes by Adobe's Flash, Apple's QuickTime or Microsoft's Silverlight plug-ins from bringing down the browser.

Performance is one of the key areas Firefox 4 will address, said Beltzner. Beltzner emphasized that Mozilla will both boost the raw speed of Firefox, it has been working on ways to push its TraceMonkey JavaScript engine and in users' perception of speed.

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Thursday, May 06, 2010

First USB 3.0 Portable Drives Hit Market

USB ports connect host devices, such as PCs, to other devices such as printers and storage drives. USB 3.0 increases bandwidth and transfers data close to 10 times faster than USB 2.0. The USB 3.0 interface can offer a transfer rate of 5G bps (bits per second) compared to 480M bps per second for USB 2.0.

Super Talent is offering three USB 3.0 flash drives with capacities up to 256GB. The line achieves data transfer speeds of up to 125M bps. A 32GB drive goes for $120, which is relatively expensive compared to USB 2.0 thumb drives.

External hard drives were some of the earliest USB 3.0 devices to come out last year, but OCZ this week announced Enyo USB 3.0 solid-state drives. The SSDs will be available in capacities of 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB. The drives offer up to 260M bps read (around 1.5G bps ) and 200M bps write capabilities. The USB 3.0 drive also is backward-compatible with older ports.

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Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Internet Explorer losing browser share

Microsoft's Internet Explorer web browser, now accounts for less than 60% of the market, down from 95% at its peak in 2003. Latest statistics, from measurement firm NetApplications, show that IE has 59.9% of the market, with Firefox gaining on it, with 24.5% while third place Google Chrome's 6.7%.

Microsoft has gradually been losing market share, largely due to concerns over security, experts said.

There are more viable alternatives now. Google has been advertising and there are more people using Macs and Apple's Safari. There is just a great awareness that there are alternatives.

IE9 promises to support HTML5, the next-generation standard for coding web pages, which aims to reduce the need for software plug-ins, such as Flash.

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Sunday, May 02, 2010

PDF Exploits Bloom in the Spring

Numerous reports of new malicious PDFs have come out in the last few days. They all seem a little different and, while there are no new vulnerabilities in them, there are some new techniques.

The TrendLabs Malware Blog describes a PDF that it found, which exploits two different patched vulnerabilities. If you are running current Adobe software, you are not vulnerable. But if you do get exploited, the PDF decodes an embedded XML file containing a malicious TIFF file.

The most important thing to know about all these attacks is that by keeping your software up-to-date and not blindly clicking on unsolicited attachments, you can protect yourself, at least to a significant degree. Add updated malware protection to the mix and it's even harder for attacks to succeed.

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