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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Google+ may reach 400 million users in 2012

Google+ is Google's answer to Facebook when it comes to social networking sites. Although still pretty new, some people are wondering if Google+ will take off eventually or if it will even survive at all. Paul Allen, founder of and independent analyst thinks Google+ will surpass 400 million users by 2012. Keep in mind that it took Facebook 7 years to get to their 800 million users and it may only take Google+ 18 months to get to 400 million.

Allen wrote, “Based on the accelerated growth I’m seeing and all the dials and levers Google can still utilize, and the developer ecosystem that will be developed, I predict that 2012 is going to be a breakout year for Google+ and that it will end next year with more than 400 million users”.

Allen says the growth of the service has really picked up in recent weeks. This growth rate would put it not far behind Facebook in 2ndplace, with about half the users. As of now, Google+ has 60 million or so users. This increase may be because of the ever increasing popularity of Android smartphones and tablets which make it easy to register for Google+ right from the device.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Google paying Mozilla for Firefox Seach

If you haven't noticed or don't know already, Google is the default search engine when you install the Mozilla Firefox web browser. But have you ever wondered why? Google pays Mozilla to make their search engine the default for the Firefox web browser and Google pays pretty well to keep it that way. Mozilla is a non profit organization and relies on Google's support to keep them going. In fact, Google's money accounted for 84% of Mozilla's $123 million in revenue for 2010.

But this partnership does not go just one way. Google relies on search traffic from the millions of Firefox users around the world and is willing to pay to keep others such as Microsoft and Bing out of that share of users. With their new contract, Google will be paying Mozilla almost 3 times as much per year as they did before at a cost of $300 million a year for the next 3 years. This price increase may be the result of other bidders such as Microsoft trying to get a piece of the Firefox pie.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Microsoft to implement silent Internet Explorer updates

Starting in January, Microsoft will automatically update your version of Internet Explorer to the latest version via Automatic Updates. This used to be an optional update but now they will be doing it automatically. Microsoft's reason for this they say is to improve online security by making sure you have the latest version of their browser with all the security features. They also say you have the option to opt out or uninstall IE if you choose.

Data gathered by Microsoft for its security intelligence reports showed that many cyber criminals targeted old or outdated software when they tried to trick people into installing fake updates.

This new automatic IE update will only apply to computers running Windows XP, Vista and 7, and will first be implemented in Australia and Brazil. Computers running Windows XP will be upgraded to IE8, and computers running Vista and 7 will get updated to IE9. You will need to have automatic updates turned on to receive the updates.

If you have previously declined an installation of IE8 or IE9 through Windows Update, you will not receive the auto update of the newer version. There is also the option to uninstall updates and return to the IE installation that came with your version of Windows. Future versions of Internet Explorer will also allow an opt out for automatic upgrading.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Google patches Chrome and releases new version

Google just released version 16 of its popular web browser, Google Chrome. At the same time it patched 15 vulnerabilities of which 6 were rated high, 7 rated as medium and 2 as low. Google also paid $6,000 to people who discovered some of the bugs in Chrome. Five outside researchers found 7 bugs while the other 8 were found by Google's own in house developers.

Google releases an updated to its browser about every 6 to 8 weeks compared to Firefox doing its updates every 6 weeks. One new feature of Chrome is an option to add other users so that more than one person can use the browser on a shared computer but keep their passwords, bookmarks, apps etc separate from each other.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Adobe Reader vulnerlability could lead to attackers hijacking your computer

The "critical" issue, called "U3D memory corruption vulnerability" by Adobe, could cause a system to crash and also allow unrestricted access by hackers. Adobe warned that the "vulnerability is being actively exploited in the wild in limited, targeted attacks against Adobe Reader 9.x on Windows."

Adobe is currently working on patch to fix the vulnerability found in Adobe Reader 9.x and says it should be released by December 12th at the latest.

Brad Arkin, senior director of Product Security & Privacy for Adobe, says that to be 100% sure your system is safe, update your older versions of Reader and Acrobat to X.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Facebook buys Gowalla location service

Facebook has just acquired Gowalla which offers a service for sharing your location with friends. Gowilla is based in Austin, Texas. The Gowalla mobile phone app allows people to share the details of their location by checking in to different venues which also lets users to create a visual picture of their day.

Last year Facebook added a mobile device location tool called Places which let users check in to locations with their friends but recently scrapped the service and decided to roll the location sharing functionality directly into the status update bar.

One thing that Facebook is know for when acquiring another company is that they never leave the original product as is but instead decide to change it around to integrate it with Facebook. Some of the Austin based team will end up in Palo Alto, CA at Facebook, while a few will stay behind in Texas.

This new acquisition will mean that Facebook owns the data you entered into Gowalla but hopefully Facebook will give you a way to export your Gowalla data if they decide to shut it down.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

HP LaserJet printers may be vulnerable to attacks

There is a new report out saying that Hewlett Packard LaserJet printers have a security hole where remote attackers can take control of them and do things such as steal information and run commands that can cause the printer to catch on fire. This security hole was discovered by security researchers Salvatore Stolfo and Ang Cuifrom from Columbia University's School of Engineering.

They say the vulnerability exists in the LaserJet printer's Remote Firmware Update process and that the printers can be tricked into accepting modified firmware from someone with access to the device locally or remotely over the Internet. All this person would need to do is send a malicious print job to compromise the printer.

This flaw can allow attackers to steal documents and use the printer to attack computers that are attached to it over the network as well as send a command causing the fuser to heat up and potentially cause the paper to catch fire.

HP today downplayed the researchers' claims, calling them "sensational and inaccurate." HP also said "While HP has identified a potential security vulnerability with some HP LaserJet printers, no customer has reported unauthorized access". Even though HP downplayed the threat, they are working on a firmware update for the problem.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Microsoft makes a bid for Yahoo!

Microsoft has signed an agreement that will allow it to take a look at Yahoo! Inc.'s financial documents to help them in their bid for the company. 3 years ago they failed to buy Yahoo! for $45 billion and take control of the company. The goal of that purchase was to create a competitor to go against Google.

Yahoo! has said that their advisors want bids to be submitted by next week. These bidders are most likely to offer to buy only a minority stake in Yahoo! rather than go for a full takeover of the company. Microsoft along with other investors would all pitch in on this upcoming bid.

Recently Microsoft joined Yahoo! in a 10 year agreement to provide search functionality for Yahoo! where their Bing search engine gets answers to user queries and Yahoo! sells ads against those results. The agreement was aimed at helping both companies compete with Google. The Yahoo of today is in a weaker position than it was in 2008.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Facebook defends against wave of spam

Facebook said they have been working hard to stop the spam that has been filling many users pages with inappropriate pictures. Spam is not new to Facebook but this current wave has been showing pictures of graphic violence and pornography causing many Facebook users to complain.

The attackers duped Facebook users into posting links into the address bar of their browser which took them to the graphic sites and shared the content with their friends. Then users would click on these links thinking it was posted by their friends on purpose. Facebook said the attack exploited a vulnerability in an certain web browser which they haven't named. Then this javascript was able to take control of their news feed.

Facebook says they have already got rid of most of the spam caused by this attack.

Monday, November 14, 2011

AMD releases new 16 core processor

AMD has been working on its processor technology and has just launched its Opteron 6200 and 4200 Series processors. The Opteron 6200 series features 16 cores which is really eight dual core units and four memory channels. The Opteron 4200 features eight cores, or four dual core units, and two memory channels. The 16 core processor packs the largest number of cores available on x86 chips today. The processors are based on AMD's new chip design called Bulldozer, which provides performance improvements while saving on power. The Bulldozer architecture mixes the CPU with integer units and a shared floating point unit so more operations can be executed per clock cycle while drawing lower power.

The new processors offer optimized scalability for virtualization with up to 73% more memory bandwidth and up to 24% to 84% better performance on key cloud, virtualization and HPC workloads making them ideal for virtualization of servers. They also provide more efficient economics for the cloud with half the power per core, requiring 2/3 less floor space and up to 2/3 lower platform price. The chips are shipping now and will be available in servers from HP, Dell, Cray and Acer soon.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Firefox 8 just released

Mozilla has just updated its Firefox web browser for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. Firefox gets updated every 6 weeks like Google's Chrome browser. The most notable feature of the new version of Firefox is the built in search box in the navigation toolbar now supports Twitter searches. Users can select Twitter from the drop down list of available search engines. Mozilla partnered with Twitter to release a special build of Firefox that ties into the Twitter.

Another nice feature of the new browser is stricter control over side loaded addons. Mozilla is cracking down on 3rd party applications that install addons in Firefox without the user knowing. If Firefox 8 detects these addons when it starts, it will disable them and prompt the user if they want the addon to be enabled or not.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Microsoft releases a fix for the Duqu Zero Day Trojan

Microsoft has just announced that they have a Fix-it tool that allows Windows users to manually patch their systems to remove the Duqu Trojan.

Duqu, or son of Stuxnet as it is also know, can be a real nuisance because it installs a keylogger to record passwords and uses those passwords toreplicates itself across secure networks. Then it communicates with other servers over the Internet to give hackers access to the infected computers. Then it will remove itself after 30 days.

Microsoft is investigating a vulnerability in the Win32k TrueType font parsing engine Windows component. An attacker who successfully exploits this vulnerability could then run arbitrary code in kernel mode. This would allow the attacker to install programs as well as view, change, or delete data. Plus they would have access to create new accounts with administrative access.

Microsoft has released a Fix-it tool that allows users to manually disable the affected code in their systems. One downside to this tool is that applications that rely on embedded font technology will fail to display properly according to Microsoft.

Here is a link to the Fix-it tool

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Hackers try to crack 600,000 Facebook accounts every day

Facebook reported that computer hackers try to break into around 600,000 Facebook accounts using stolen username and password details every day. Facebook has around 800 million users and receives over a billion login attempts every day.

If a hacker takes over a someone's Facebook account, they can do things such as post images, send messages and access all of that person's private information. Facebook is able to determine the number of stolen or compromised logins because it challenges the hackers with additional authentication questions. But this doesn't work 100% of the time and some of hacking attempts are successful. Other common scams include criminals hijacking friends accounts and trying to talk users into sending them money.

One of the new security features Facebook has come up with is called Trusted friends which will allow you to choose 3 to 5 trusted friends who can help you if you have a problem accessing your account if your email or password gets changed. The idea is that if you need to login to Facebook but can't access your email account, Facebook will send codes to your friends that they can pass on to you.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Facebook pans to build server farm near the Arctic Circle

Facebook plans to build a new server farm on the edge of the Arctic Circle to improve performance for European users. The huge server farm facility will be located in Luleå, northern Sweden which is 60 miles south of the Arctic Circle.

"The climate will allow them to just use only air for cooling the servers," said Mats Engman, chief executive of the Aurorum Science Park. "If you take the statistics, the temperature has not been above 30C (86F) for more than 24 hours since 1961. If you take the average temperature, it's around 2C (35.6F)."

Facebook plans to build 3 giant server halls covering an area the size of 11 football fields. Each building will be 300,000-square feet in size and the project is scheduled for completion by 2014. Even though they will rely on air cooling, keeping the servers running will still require 120MW of power and cost £45m a year. Facebook currently stores data at sites in California, Virginia and Oregon and is building another facility in North Carolina and has 800 million users world-wide.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Windows XP, still going after 10 years

10 years ago this month, Microsoft introduced what would eventually become the world's most popular desktop operating system. Windows XP was one of the most significant Windows releases to date. Windows 2000 was the first Windows NT based OS for the desktop which could be used by regular PC users without any issues. But it was Windows XP that brought the NT based OS to those who were afraid of Windows 2000. Windows XP introduced several useful user interface features and was far more advanced than the outdated Windows 98 or ME that it replaced. And once companies got accustomed to XP in the office, the idea of an operating system that they wouldn't have to change for years on end became something they couldn't pass up.

Microsoft on the other hand is eager for Windows XP to simply go away. But for that to happen, they need millions of XP users to drop the old OS and migrate to Windows 7, or even to Windows 8, when it comes out next year.

According to analytics firm Net Applications, XP finished September 2011 with a 50.5% share of all desktop operating systems which is a drop of 10% from just 10 months earlier. Windows 7 currently has more than 32% of the desktop OS market, and that number is on the rise. Microsoft has made it clear that it will be ending support for Windows XP in April 2014. XP may have been outed sooner if Windows Vista wasn't such a flop.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Duqu, the 'Son of Stuxnet' Virus said to target Specific Organizations and Assets

There has been some Malware recently discovered that is said to be based on the infamous Stuxnet virus which is considered one of the world's most sophisticated viruses. In a detailed report, Symantec says the malware was discovered in an organization in Europe. Its called Duqu because it creates files with the file name prefix ~DQ.

"Our telemetry shows the threat has been highly targeted toward a limited number of organizations for their specific assets. However, it's possible that other attacks are being conducted against other organizations in a similar manner with currently undetected variants," the report Symantec says.

The original Stuxnet virus delivered a highly specific payload that attacked control systems found in Iranian nuclear processing plants. Duqu is different because it doesn't spread from machine to machine. "It has been specifically targeted at systems with the goal of getting in, compromising them, and then exfiltrating information." Duqu tricks Windows into allowing it to execute by exploiting a stolen digital certificate, taken from a company with headquarters in Taiwan.

Once Duqu has been planted, it starts to communicate with a server based in India. It manages to obtain additional code able to record keystrokes and collect other system information that it then sends back to the control server.

Monday, October 17, 2011

No more Google Buzz

Google launched its first social networking site Google Buzz in February 2010 to try to compete with Facebook and other social media sites. Buzz never really caught on and had its share of problems so now Google is calling it quits. Google Buzz will be shut down in coming weeks so Google can turn its attention to its other social network, Google+.

Google Buzz had its share by privacy and security issues and never had the features that Facebook had. Buzz users won't be able to create new posts after Buzz is offline but they will be able to view their existing content on their Google Profile, and download it using Google Takeout.

Google also plans to tweak iGoogle to make way for Google+. Google will remove the iGoogle social features that it added to iGoogle several years ago.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Microsoft releases Internet Explorer 9.0.3 to fix security holes

Microsoft is making available by way of Windows Update an updated version of its Internet Explorer 9 web browser that incorporates a number of recently released security fixes. Your computer will be updated automatically if you have Automatic Updates turned on. Internet Explorer 9.0.3 resolves a number of privately reported vulnerabilities in IE 6, 7, 8 and 9.

The most severe vulnerabilities could allow remote code execution if a user views a specially crafted Web page using Internet Explorer. An attacker who successfully exploited any of these vulnerabilities could gain the same user rights as the local user. Microsoft has said, If exploited, the bugs in Internet Explorer would expose the user to drive by download attacks just by merely browsing to a booby trapped site.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Windows 8 Could Use Less Memory Than Windows 7

The upcoming Windows 8 operating system is shooting to minimize a computer's memory usage through efficient design so it can run on hardware originally designed for Windows 7. This will allow you to keep your current Windows 7 hardware if you decide to upgrade.

This memory saving is accomplished by several methods. The first way is by combining memory which allows Windows to identify duplicate memory being used for identical tasks and then retain a single copy. If a program etc needs some freed up memory, Windows provides what's called a private copy. This process can make anywhere from 10s to 100s of megabytes available. Windows 8 will also move some services to a start on demand model saving even more memory. One other thing Microsoft has done is removed 13 different services and has changed a number of others from automatic to manual

These tweaks will also allow for longer battery life for Windows tablets and phones that don't hold much physical RAM. This is necessary because Windows 8 will be running on these devices as well.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Google Chrome May Hit 20% Share By 2012

Google's Chrome Web browser could break the 20% market share by 2012 if it keeps up its current rate of growth. Chrome browser reached 16.2% in September which is up from its 15.5% share in August. Since January, Chrome's browser market share has climbed roughly one percentage point per month. Safari is also on the rise with a 5% increase while Internet Explorer and Firefox have lost some market share. IE fell to 54.4% from 55.3% and Firefox dropped to 22.5% from 23.6%.

Google's market share increase may have come from its advertising Chrome on TV. The ads started airing in May, and the two following months saw Chrome's largest market share increases of the year. Researcher StatCounter estimates Chrome at a 23.6% share and says Chrome will overtake Firefox as the second most popular Web browser by December.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Microsoft security program deleted Google Chrome from Windows PCs

Many Google Chrome users found their favorite browser removed from their Windows computers on Friday after Microsoft deleted the the Chrome web browser. Microsoft said in a statement that the Chrome removals took place due to a mistake on the part of its Microsoft Security Essentials software for Windows.

The software mistakenly identify Chrome as malware and removes it from the computer. Users who try to reinstall Chrome only found out that the software removes the browser again. There has been an update to Microsoft Security Essentials that has been pushed out to the Web and fix this problem.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Facebook Vows to Fix Major Privacy Breach

Facebook has said they will fix a major privacy breach that allowed them to collect members browsing information after they had logged out. Australian blogger Nik Cubrilovic revealed on his blog that Facebook kept its browser cookies active after a user has logged out. He revealed that the information Facebook collected made it possible for them to personally label computer usage information that it collected from PCs and that Facebook merely alters its tracking cookies when you log out, instead of deleting them.

Facebook defended the practice on The Wall Street Journal blog Digits. They said the collection was part of a system to prevent improper logins and that the information was quickly deleted. A Facebook spokesman said "no information we receive when you see a social plug-in is used to target ads." A Facebook engineer said that Facebook uses the data from logged out cookies only to prevent spamming, phishing and other security risks.

To block Facebook from following you, you need to delete all Facebook-related cookies after logging out.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Yahoo News Gets Integrated With Facebook

Yahoo News has now been linked with Facebook to make it possible for users of the two sites to share with their Facebook friends the articles they have read on the Yahoo site.

For the integration features to work, Yahoo News visitors need to be logged into their Facebook accounts. If they are, they'll see a Facebook "facebar" placed horizontally near the top of Yahoo News with the profile photos of friends. Users will be able to see which Yahoo News stories those friends have clicked on, as well as make available their own Yahoo News reading activities to their friends. People's Yahoo News activities will also be reflected back on their Facebook profiles.

To activate, go to Yahoo News and click the Facebook button to log-in. Click "add to timeline" and you'll see friends who have also joined. Click their photos and a drop-down menu will display recently read articles.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Will Windows 8 affect the antivirus market with its new security features?

Microsoft is tweaking its Windows Defender tool, which has been part of the last few versions of Windows, by essentially adding some of the more robust features from its free Security Essentials product. Steven Sinofsky, president of the Windows and Windows Live division, said "we've taken Defender, and we've actually built a whole new range of protection, all the way up through anti-malware, antivirus, all that is built into Defender."

This may not be a good idea since it could be a false sense of security for Windows 8 users who may have normally installed third party security products on their computers. It may also make for a focus point for virus and spyware creators to try and bypass. Roel Schouwenberg from Kaspersky Lab thinks this could be dangerous. "From a technical perspective this would mean malware authors will make sure their creations go undetected by MSE/Defender before deployment".

Researchers at Symantec examined an early build and confirmed that the new Windows Defender definitely is just a repackaged version of Microsoft Security Essentials. Test results by major independent labs show Microsoft Security Essentials rated good but not great.

The protection consumers need is more comprehensive than what basic antivirus offers these days thanks to more advanced tactics from malware creators. A pre installed antivirus product doesn't compare to the type of robust solutions you see today.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Microsoft and Google cloud services experience outages

Cloud computing services from both Microsoft and Google experienced outages in the past several days. Microsoft's online services infrastructure experienced an issue that affected some customers in North America online last Wednesday, causing interruptions in Office 365 and various Windows Live services for a few hours. That same day, Google's cloud productivity service, Google Docs, went offline for about an hour.

While none resulted in the loss of data, each stoppage caused services to be unavailable to users for hours at a time. The issues encountered over the past week raise questions about just how dependable cloud based services really are.

Microsoft said it experienced network connectivity issues at one of its data centers that services some North American customers. The Google outage was caused by a change designed to improve real time collaboration within the document list," Google said in its Enterprise Blog. "Unfortunately this change exposed a memory management bug which was only evident under heavy usage"

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

China Has Renewed Its Google Content Provider License

The Chinese government has renewed Google's Internet Content Provider license, giving the company another year to operate its local website in China. The license for the China based site, must be reviewed annually. China regulates Internet content in part through issuing licenses and overseeing companies like Google and its chief Chinese competitor Baidu Inc. Chinese authorities block or limit access to websites based overseas.

Google scaled back its China operations last year after a disagreement with authorities over its concerns about censorship and hacking. Google said they would would stop filtering its content as required by local regulations. This caused users to fear the company would discontinue its Chinese language services entirely, or that the government would retaliate by banning its websites within the country. Rather, Google began redirecting users from its Chinese domain address,, to a website in Hong Kong whose search results Google doesn't filter.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Internet Explorer will drop to an under 50% share by mid 2012

Microsoft's Internet Explorer i headed towards losing its place as the #1 browser by the middle of 2012, according to statistics published by Web metrics company Net Applications.

In August, IE lost almost a percentage point in usage share, falling to 55.3%, a new low for the slowly declining browser. In the last year, IE has dropped 6.9 points. On Windows 7 IE9 accounts for 20.4% of all browsers globally, and 27.7% on Windows 7 in the U.S. IE9 runs on Windows 7 and Vista, but does not work on Windows XP. IE8 is currently the most popular version, with a 30% share overall and 54.4% of all editions of IE.

Almost all IE's decline over the last year is thanks to Google's Chrome browser. In the last 12 months, Chrome has increased by 7.8% points to 15.5%. Firefox on the other hand is in danger of losing its 2nd place spot which it has held for years. If Firefox and Chrome keep to the pace they have been on, Chrome will overtake Firefox about the same time IE falls to under 50%.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Facebook to Debut Music Service in September

According to Mashable, Facebok will join hands with MOG, Rdio, and Spotify to create a Facebook music service that will be announced at the F8 Facebook developer conference in September. Facebook and its partners, however, downplayed any relationship. Spotify also declined to confirm the report. Spotify already offers to share music with friends via Facebook, including playlists, as does Rdio and MOG. All three services provide a free tier, then charge additional fees for unlimited streaming and mobile playback.

It’s also believed that Facebook will use a Music Dashboard that will work with a persistent play/pause music control button that will appear at the bottom of the screen near the Facebook Chat icon. The Music Dashboard will keep a summary of all the songs you listened to on each service and fill flag up any songs that your friends have recently listened to.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Steve Jobs resigns from Apple

Apple's leader Steve Jobs turned in his resignation on Wednesday as Apple's chief executive. This leaves many wondering whether Apple can continue its success under new leadership.

The shock among Apple fans was widespread even though it was well known that Jobs had serious health problems. Jobs' resignation may have been a surprise, but it wasn't unexpected. Jobs had taken a leave of 2009 a liver transplant and in the beginning of the year he again stepped away for medical reasons. Jobs did not give a specific reason for resigning but it appears to be health related. Jobs recommended that Apple's board of directors name Tim Cook as the next chief executive. Cook has taken over the leadership role at Apple several times while Jobs was on medical leave.

Steve Jobs co-founded Apple in 1976, and was then kicked out of the company in 1985. He then returned in 1996, when the firm was in serious financial trouble. Soon after that things started picking up and out came the iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Windows 8 will support USB 3.0 and 10 billion devices

The upcoming Windows 8 OS will fully support USB 3.0 and still retain backwards compatibility with the 10 billion existing USB 1.0 and 2.0 devices still in use. USB 3.0 will offer a 10x speed increase over USB 2.0 (up to 5 Gbit/s). USB 3.0 will provide 80% more power than USB 2.0 and allow for faster charging and remove the need for those “Y" cables used by external drives and other high power devices.

As of now there are no chipsets with USB 3.0 controllers onboard and the manufacturer of the motherboard has to use a third party chipset to enable USB 3.0 support. By 2015 all PCs sold will come with USB 3.0 ports, and there will be over 2 billion USB 3.0 devices sold that year as well. Microsoft is promising that Windows 8 will have robust USB 3.0 support.

Other work done to prepare for USB 3.0 included extensive hardware testing and creating a custom tool called MUTT (USB Test Tool) which can test 1000 USB devices for various compatibility issues.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Microsoft To Reveal Windows 8 Details

Microsoft will announce new details about the architecture and capabilities of its upcoming Windows 8 operating system in the coming weeks to prepare developers and users for what it calls the most significant overhaul of its OS since it released Windows 95.

"Windows 8 re-imagines Windows for a new generation of computing devices, and will be the very best operating system for hundreds of millions of PCs, new and old, used by well over a billion people globally" said Windows division president Steven Sinofksy. Microsoft also said that, with the introduction of Windows 8, for the first time the OS will run on x86 chips from Intel and AMD and also on ARM's system on a chip architecture for tablets and smartphones.

Developers will get their first hands-on look at the OS next month at Microsoft's BUILD conference in Anaheim, CA.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Internet Explorer 9 may do the best job of defending against malware links

According to research firm NSS Labs, IE 9 offers Web users the best protection against malware With its new Application Reputation feature. NSS found that IE9 blocks malicious URLs more than 99% of the time. Microsoft continues to improve their IE malware protection in IE9 through its SmartScreen Filter technology and with the addition of SmartScreen Application Reputation technology," NSS reported.

The NSS study refers to malware URLs as links that entice users to download a malicious payload or visit a site known to host malware links. "With a unique URL blocking score of 99.9 percent and over time protection rating of 99.2 percent, Internet Explorer 9 was by far the best at protecting against socially engineered malware," they said. The over time protection rate for Google Chrome, for example, was 13.2 percent, while for Firefox 4 and Safari 5 it was 7.6 percent and for Opera 11, 6.1 percent.

Sophos's Chet Wisniewski challenged the claims made by NSS "Because IE9's unable to block exploits of such software as Adobe Reader and Flash, Apple's iTunes or Oracle 's Java, Microsoft's data doesn't show the real picture,".

NSS explained that social engineering malware remains the most common security threat facing Internet users today, claiming one third of Internet users as victims. Neither Microsoft nor any other browser maker sponsored the report.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

The First Website Was Published 20 Years Ago Today

On August 6, 1991, 36 year old physicist Tim Berners-Lee published the first website at a CERN facility in the Swiss Alps. The address of this website was as well as the first web server. Keep in mind that this is the birth of the web, not the Internet itself.

The first web page on this website was and focused on information regarding the WWW project. On this site you could learn about hypertext, details for creating webpages and learn how to search the Web for information. Since the only people who had a web browser were Berners-Lee and his colleagues, it didn't help other potential web users. Eventually installations of web servers and the use of web browsers spread and 1993 the Mosaic browser was released. Over the next several years, people started using browsers such asMosaic, Netscape Navigator, and Internet Explorer to start exploring all of the new sites being created.

In 1994, Berners-Lee founded the World Wide Web Consortium (often referred to as “W3C”) at MIT in order to create standards for the web to ensure that different websites would all work the same way.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Adobe Edge Tool May Replace Flash With HTML5

Adobe has just released a preview version of its new HTML5 development tool called Adobe Edge. Edge will allow Web developers to create animated graphics using HTML, CSS3, and JavaScript. Some analysts are saying that Adobe realizes that the web is moving away from Flash and it is instead focusing on open standard HTML5 and its many sub standards which can create the same type of content that Flash can. Edge also has a definite focus on the mobile Web the fastest growing segment of Internet use. Adobe says Edge is not a replacement for Flash but it's likely to become a popular alternative to Flash. The Edge preview product now is available at the Adobe Labs site.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Hacker hits millions of South Korean social website users

South Korea has blamed Chinese hackers for stealing information from 35 million accounts from a South Korean social networking site. The sites that were hit include the Cyworld website as well as the Nate web portal run by SK Communications. The Nate portal gives people access to web services such as email while the Cyworld social site lets people share images and updates with friends similar to Facebook.

The hackers are thought to have stolen phone numbers, email addresses, names and other information about the sites millions of users. SK Communications did not retain financial information of its users in most cases. Investigators say that the hackers likely came from China based on their IP addresses. The Korean Communications Commission claims to have traced the attack back to a number of IP addresses in China.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Scams dealing with Oslo attack and Amy Winehouse death appearing on Facebook

Fake links related to the terrorist attack in Oslo, Norway, and musician Amy Winehouse have been reported on Facebook. The scams are what are known as "survey scams" which use interest in breaking news stories to trick people into clicking links ect. Internet threat research firm Websense Security Labs reported that as many as one user per second was clicking on links claiming to be videos of the Oslo bombing attack.

Also, just days after singer Amy Winehouse was found dead in her home, a new video scam targeting Facebook users has surfaced on the social networking site. It shows links offering video footage taken hours before Winehouse passed away but these links do not actually contain videos of the Winehouse's final hours, but rather lead to online surveys from which the scammers earn a commission. The survey with promises to show the video after completion, but instead, the user will usually be prompted to enter a phone number or other information that the scammer can use to charge them or extract money from an account. There are also reports of there being a pop-up message that tricks victims into exposing their friends to the scam.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

16 Arrested as F.B.I. goes after Anonymous hacking group

On Tuesday the F.B.I. announced the arrests of 16 people across the country in connection with attacks carried out by the hacking group Anonymous. 14 people were charged in connection with an attack on PayPal last December because PayPal suspended accounts set up for donating money to WikiLeaks. The suspects from 10 different states are accused of conspiring to intentionally damage protected computers. The charge of intentional damage to a protected computer is punishable by a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, and conspiracy carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

A 21 year old man was also arrested for breaking into the InfraGard website and then tweeted about it while providing instructions so that others could break in. Another 21 year old man was arrested for stealing confidential information from AT&T's systems while working as a contractor.

Recently police in Britain and the Netherlands have arrested other people suspected of participating in the hacking attacks. The Department of Justice said more than 35 search warrants were executed in the United States and that 5 arrests were made in Europe as part of a global investigation.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Hacking group Anonymous starting its own social network after being blocked by Google+

The online group Anonymous which has gained attention in the last year with hacker attacks on PayPal, Visa, Amazon, Bank of America, and various world governments is now stating its own social network after being kicked off the new Google+ social site. Their account was suspended for violating Google's community standards with its posts. Their Gmail account has also been shut down.

Their new social networking site will be called AnonPlus and is described as "a social network where there is no fear of censorship, of blackout, nor of holding back." Anonymous said AnonPlus is intended as a platform "simply to dispense info". Anonymous says the site will be open to everyone when it goes live and is currently being worked on by 18 developers. Anonymous also has an active Twitter presence with its @YourAnonNews account, which has more than 19,000 followers.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Number of Chinese websites almost half of what they used to be

According to a report from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), there has been a drop of 1.3 million websites by the end of 2010 which accounts for a 41% decrease in the total amount of Chinese sites. Experts say this has been caused by recent campaigns to control the internet. This has especially affected interactive websites such as online forums.

However, CASS said the number of websites had shrunk because of the slowing of the economy and because of campaigns to end pornography and spam. The Chinese government has tightened regulations on websites and the content they post. Even though China’s constitution guarantees freedom of speech, the government can shut down websites under a “subversion of state power” clause if they choose to do so.

Even though almost half of Chinese websites were shut down compared to last year, the remaining sites have cranked out new content at a fast pace. The total number of Chinese web pages available has jumped by 79%.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Google renaming its online services

Google will be re-branding two of its most popular web services, Picasa and Blogger. The new names will be Google Photos and Google Blogs. The services themselves will not change and will remain key components of Google's product family. The idea behind the rename is to not confuse users with services with too many different names. Users of these services may be unaware that they are using a Google product because of the current names used with these products.

The re-branding is because Google wants to unify its services under one name with the upcoming public launch of Google+ coming in about 6 weeks. Google’s various web applications will most likely get the unified treatment, especially the more social friendly elements that will tie into Google+. Currently Google+ integrates photos from Picasa, email from Gmail, and video hosting from YouTube. YouTube should remain untouched because Google Video was already killed off a few months ago.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Google takes another shot at social networking with Google Plus

Google unveiled its latest attempt at social networking this week with Google Plus trying to make online sharing more like real life. Some of the features of Google Plus lets users share things with groups of people such as friends or coworkers. The site acts a lot like Facebook, with streaming feeds and specialized groups of friends.

Google Plus has five basic components: Circles, Sparks, Hangouts, Instant Uploads and Huddle. It also requires a Google profile for you to be able to use it.

Circles lets you group your contacts by type etc. Circles lets you share information with groups of contacts instead of bombarding everyone with your latest updates all at once.

Huddle is a group texting feature similar to Beluga which Facebook recently bought. It lets you have a group chat through your phone with multiple people at the same time.

Sparks allows you to search for and save blog posts, videos, books and so on related to your specific interests.

Instant Uploads can automatically post users pictures and videos from their phone to a private album.

Hangouts enables you to have live video chats with multiple users at the same time.

Google+ is only available by invitation during an early test phase.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Facebook overtakes Microsfot as the 2nd most popular web site in the UK

This past May, Microsoft, including Windows Live and Bing, had around 26.2 million unique users which was a slight decrease since late last year. Facebook on the other hand has increased its users to 26.8 million which is up up 7%. This is the first time Facebook has passed up Microsoft's web dominion in the UK. Facebook has an unconfirmed 750 million users globally even though its American user base has actually decreased slightly in recent months.

Both Microsoft and Facebook pale in comparison with Google, which saw 33.8 million unique visits in May. Rival social networking site Twitter saw a huge increase in its following this past May and is up to 6 million. This is a huge 34% increase of the previous month. The growth in audiences for social networks is now primarily being driven by the 50 plus age group.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

FBI cracks down on Latvian scareware scammers

The FBI has gone after 2 Latvian gangs that have made millions of dollars by sneaking fake virus warnings onto computers and then charging them to get rid of the supposed virus. The FBI, along with law enforcement agencies in 7 other countries seized over 40 computers used in the scam. Raids in Latvia against the gang allowed police to gain control of 5 bank accounts used to transfer money to the group's ringleaders.

According to the FBI, one of the groups infected almost a million computers, which cost users over $72 million. A second group made nearly $2 million by putting fake ads on the Minneapolis Star Tribune's website. "Visitors to the website began experiencing slow system performance, unwanted pop ups, and total system failure," the Department of Justice said in the indictment. The pop ups were used to scare visitors into buying a $49.95 fake security program called Antivirus Soft.

Scareware works by displaying a message on the victim's screen with a fake virus warning. The the warning keeps popping up until the victim pays for the software to "clean" the infection. In this case the software cost the victims over $100. About one million people are thought to have installed the fake security software.

The defendants are facing up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000 on the wire fraud and conspiracy charges, and up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000 on the computer fraud charge. They could also have to forfeit their illegal profits.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Dropbox file storage service left unsecured for 4 hours

This past Sunday all Dropbox accounts were left wide open for around 4 hours allowing anyone with an internet connection to access any one of its customers online storage lockers. All you needed to do was have the username and put in anything for a password and you had access to that user's files.

Dropbox is a free service used to share and sync files online. The accounts became unlocked at 1:54pm Pacific time on Sunday after a programming change introduced a bug. It took around 4 hours to fix the bug. The bug happened because of the security architecture that Dropbox uses. Dropbox uses encryption and decryption on Dropbox's servers, instead of on individual's computers.

Dropbox says fewer than 1% of accounts were in use during that time (about 250,000 users) and it closed all of the open sessions to make sure taht anyone who logged in with false credentials was cut off. Dropbox currently has about 25 million users.

Dropbox said they will continue their investigation to determine whether any accounts were improperly accessed and will notify users of any unusual activity.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

First Chromebook now available in US

Google has released its first laptop running Google's Chrome operating system to consumers in the United States. Its made by Samsung and doesn't use traditional installed software but rather browser based apps which store files online in "the cloud". The Chromebook doesn't have a desktop and you cant install your typical software on it. Google says that the cloud based technology enables a new way of computing and removes the need for things like anti virus software and CD\DVD drives. If you want to use your typical Windows or Mac software then you are out of luck for now.

Initial impressions of the Chromebook show that the things you can do via the browser work very well but the things you do on the desktop don't work well at all. One nice feature though is that the Chromebook starts up in less than 10 seconds and the Chrome Web Store offers around 4,400 applications you can buy or get for free. If you want to print then you will need an ePrint-capable wireless printer or use the Google Cloud Print service.

The initial setup is pretty easy. Just enter your Google account name and password, and your Gmail, calendar appointments and settings will be synchronized just like on Android devices.

The Chromebook features a 12.1 inch screen and is available in a WiFi only version ($429) or a WiFi and 3G model($499). The Chromebook comes standard with USB ports, an HDMI port, SD memory card slot and a webcam. It boasts 8.5 hours of battery life as well.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Privacy groups want an investigation of the Facebook facial recognition tool

There have been some complaints by privacy advocates filed to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission), asking them to stop Facebook’s facial recognition service. Facebook uses facial recognition software to tag images to help identify people in photos. These photos are scanned and then compared against previously tagged photos to see if any match. If a match is found, Facebook alerts the person uploading the picture and suggests tagging the person in the photo.

EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center) has said that Facebook secretly collected facial images for automated online identification. Facebook has an estimated 60 billion photos of individuals in its collection of photos. According to EPIC’s Marc Rotenberg, this violates consumer protection laws and was implemented without user consent. Even though users can opt out of the service, they weren’t notified of the risks associated with the service. Rotenberg said “There is every reason to believe that unless the [FTC] acts promptly, Facebook will routinely automate facial identification and eliminate any pretense of user control over the use of their own images for online identification,”

Facebook said there have been no complaints about the service but the other side states that 'When it comes to users’ privacy, Facebook’s policy should be: Ask for permission, don’t assume it.’ The biggest complaint is that the tagging is turned on by default.

EPIC stated on their site that "the service was unfair and deceptive and urged the FTC to require Facebook to suspend the program, pending a full investigation, the establishment of stronger privacy standards, and a requirement that automated identification, based on user photos, require opt-in consent."

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Google Chrome 12 Adds Security and 3D Enhancements

Google has just released a stable version of their Chrome 12 web browser. Chrome 12 comes just 6 weeks after version 11 was released. This new version boasts many security improvements and 3D enhancements. It features the Safe Browsing behind the scenes protection which will warn users against downloading dangerous files. This feature relies on a database of known malicious sites maintained by Google. Google says they have designed this feature so that it doesn't need to know which sites you visited or which files you have downloaded to be able to detect malicious files.

You can also fine tune the data that websites store on your computer such Flash Player's Local Shared Objects (or Flash cookies), directly from Chrome. This was previously only manageable using an online settings program on Adobe’s website.

Chrome 12 also supports hardware accelerated 3D CSS which developers can take advantage of to implement 3D effects. This essentially means prettier 3D effects for Chrome 12 users. Google says "It means you'll get a snazzier experience in some Web pages and web apps that choose to implement 3D effects."

You can download Chrome 12 manually or if you are a current Chrome user you will get the latest version of Chrome 12 as an automatic download in the coming days.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Lockheed Martin Suffers Cyberattack

A major online attack was launched earlier this month against the networks of Lockheed Martin, the country's largest defense contractor. As a result, the company said, "our systems remain secure; no customer, program, or employee personal data has been compromised."

Hackers reportedly exploited Lockheed's VPN access system, which allows employees to log in remotely by using their RSA SecurID hardware tokens. That suggests that whoever attacked Lockheed Martin may also have been behind the successful breach in March of EMC's RSA division, which manufactures SecurID.

What types of information might attackers have been targeting? Lockheed Martin, which earned revenue of $45.8 billion in 2010, makes everything from Trident missiles and F-22 fighter jets to a network of satellites for the Department of Defense that are designed to support high-priority wartime communications.

Lockheed Martin's swift detection of the attack helped avert potential disaster. The company then informed all remote workers that they'd receive new RSA SecurID tokens and told all 133,000 employees to reset their network passwords.

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Monday, May 23, 2011

New malware revives Mac vs. Windows security debate

A new piece of malware has caused an uptick in Apple customers reporting infected machines, renewing a timeless debate on the state of Macintosh security versus Windows. The trojan horse is called Mac Defender. It's a web pop-up containing a spoof message that tells customers their machines are infected by a virus and they must install anti-virus software. If customers agree to install the software, the program sporadically loads porn websites on their computer.

The general consensus among security researchers is that there's nothing about the Mac that makes it inherently more secure than Windows -- indeed, the Mac platform has been easily penetrated in the Pwn2Own hacking contest in years past. But Windows has always been a juicier target for malicious hackers because it has much larger market share than the Mac.

As a result, when customers switch from a Windows to a Mac, they're often under the impression that they're switching to a more secure, sterile environment where they won't need to install expensive, resource-hogging anti-virus software. While it's not true that the Mac is more secure, theplatform is generally "safer" because fewer people target it, security researchers have told in the past.

Charlie Miller, a security researcher who has repeatedly won the annual Pwn2Own hacking contest by hacking Macs and iPhones, told he doesn't think so. Miller noted that Microsoft recently pointed out that 1 in 14 downloads on Windows are malicious. And the fact that there is just one piece of Mac malware being widely discussed illustrates how rare malware still is on the Mac platform, he said.

Though the conclusion is unclear, the moral of this story is to be wary that Mac malware is in the wild, and be cautious about installing sketchy software from unfamiliar sources. Mac Defender may be the first wake-up call for people who believed that Macs don't get viruses.

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Streaming Netflix accounts for up to 30 percent of online traffic

People watching videos on Netflix take up more bandwidth on the Internet than users of any other Web site or service in North America, according to a report by broadband analytics firm Sandvine. Netflix accounted for 20 percent of Internet traffic just six months ago.

Combined, Netflix, YouTube and other online video sites create about 46 percent of all Internet downloads during peak hours, according to Sandvine. That shift has threa cable and telecom companies, who are responding by changing their billing practices to charge Internet users for how much data they consume instead of offering flat-rate monthly fees.

Netflix is concerned about Internet providers charging customers based on amount of usage. In letters to shareholders and in filings to regulators in Canada and at the Federal Communications Commission, Netflix chief Reed Hastings warned that metered billing, or usage-based pricing, could present a risk to its business.

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Monday, May 16, 2011

California Bill Would Force Change to Facebook Privacy Settings

A new bill proposed in California could force Facebook and other social networking sites to strip out personal information for children at a parent's request.

The the Social Networking Privacy Act -- would require Facebook and others to carefully police which pieces of information on individuals under age 18 are accessible to the public. It would also provide a means for concerned parents to demand that a site take down their children's information, or face stiff fines as high as $10,000.
Facebook which has wrestled with the issue of privacy over the years, isn't exactly happy with the bill.

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Friday, May 13, 2011

LimeWire to pay $105 million in music piracy settlement

Peer-to-peer software maker LimeWire's willingness to pay a whopping $105 million to settle music piracy claims marks a decisive, if somewhat symbolic, victory for the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

LimeWire said on Thursday it will pay $105 million to settle claims by 13 recording companies that its P2P file sharing software was responsible for enabling billions, and potentially even trillions of dollars in damages.

The court ordered LimeWire to cease its file sharing operations last October. A jury was in the process of deciding an appropriate penalty when LimeWire made its settlement offer yesterday.
A recent report by The NPD Group, a market researcher, shows that the percentage of people in the U.S. using a P2P file-sharing service to download music has fallen from 16% in the fourth quarter of 2007 to around 9% after LimeWire ceased file sharing operations last fall.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Microsoft Buys Skype for $8.5 Billion

Microsoft agreed to buy Skype Technologies SA for $8.5 billion in cash to gain the world’s most popular Internet calling service and its 663 million customers. The takeover may help Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer attract Web users and narrow Googles lead in Internet advertising.

Microsoft offers voice chat services to consumers through its Windows Live Messenger software, and to corporate customers through its Lync collaboration platform Tightly-integrated Skype services could be an added selling point for Windows Phone 7, the mobile operating system Microsoft is promoting as a competitor to Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS, CCS’s Pescatore said.

Skype, which started as a way for consumers to chat for free online, is developing premium services such as group video calling and pursuing corporate accounts. Skype’s competitors include the fledgling Google Voice service and video chat client Fring.

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Thursday, May 05, 2011

Anonymous: We didn't hack PlayStation Network

A letter purporting to represent the Anonymous hacking group claims the organization was not behind the PlayStation Network attack.

"If a legitimate and honest conducted, Anonymous will not be found liable," reads the letter, which was posted to the Web yesterday. "While we are a distributed and decentralized group, our 'leadership' does not condone credit card theft."

The letter is a response to accusations on Sony's part that Anonymous is responsible for last month's massive assault on its customer data.

"When Sony Online Entertainment discovered this past Sunday afternoon that data from its servers had been stolen, it also discovered that the intruders had planted a file named 'Anonymous' on one of those servers, a file containing the statement with the words 'We are Legion,'" Sony Computer Entertainment Chief Kazuo Hirai wrote in a letter to Congress.

Last month, Sony announced that the personal information of its 77 million PlayStation Network and Qriocity users was stolen in what it's now calling a "very carefully planned, very professional, highly sophisticated criminal cyberattack designed to steal personal and credit card information for illegal purposes."

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Monday, May 02, 2011

IE9 passes Opera in browser usage

Microsoft's browser continues to lose share of worldwide usage, but its new IE9 version managed to gain enough usage that new statistics show it surpassing one smaller rival, Opera.Internet Explorer 9 accounted for 2.41% of browser usage in April, its first full month on the market, according to Net Applications. Opera accounted for 2.14%. And IE overall dropped from 55.9% in March to 55.1%t in April.

Two browsers, Google's Chrome and Apple's Safari, outpaced the overall growth in Web usage. Chrome rose from 11.6 percent to 11.9%, while Safari grew from 6.6% to Mozilla's Firefox dipped from 21.8% to 21.6%. Mozilla has its bright spot, too: Firefox 4 accounted for 5.4% of usage overall, though it arrived later than IE9. It runs not just on older versions of Windows, notably Windows XP, but also on Mac OS X and Linux.

Windows, of course, is the dominant operating system used to browse the Web. In April, Windows XP, which can't run IE9 remained the most popular, with 53.2% of usage. Windows 7, in second place, surpassed 1 in 4 Windows users to reach 25.1%.

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Friday, April 29, 2011

Mozilla patches Firefox 3 & 4

Mozilla has patched Firefox 4 for the first time, fixing eight flaws, including a major programming oversight that left the browser as vulnerable to attack on Windows 7 as on Windows XP. The company also plugged 15 holes in the still-supported Firefox 3.6, and issued its last security update for Firefox 3. Mozilla patched a total of 20 bugs in all versions of Firefox, 17 of them rated critical.

"The WebGLES libraries could potentially be used to bypass a security feature of r Windows versions," Mozilla acknowledged. "WebGL was introduced in Firefox 4; older versions are not affected by these issues."

"This is the last planned security and stability release for Firefox 3.5," said Christian Legnitto, who overseas Firefox releases. "All users are encouraged to upgrade to Firefox 4."

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

YouTube to launch movie rental service

YouTube is launching a movie rental service in a partnership with Hollywood film giants including Sony and Warner Brothers, to rival Netflix and Apple's iTunes. Under the premium movie on demand service, film lovers will be able to stream new releases for as little as $2.

Three of the six major film studios, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Warner Brothers and Universal have reportedly agreed licensing terms with the Google owned video giant. In the US, Netflix dominates the nascent online movie streaming market. With 6 million subscribers. YouTube has signed up a number of high profile media executives, including former Netflix boss Robert Kyncl, in recent months as the site tries to move away from its user-generated video image.

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Monday, April 18, 2011

Microsoft Office 365 Beta

Microsoft has launched the public beta of the highly-anticipated Office 365. There is a lot to like about the cloud-based suite, but one of the most compelling features of the service might just be the price. Starting at $6 per seat per month, Office 365 is almost a no-brainer for small and medium companies. Organizations with fewer than 50 users typically don't have a dedicated IT administrator. For $72 per user per year, these companies get the benefit of Exchange e-mail, Lync instant messaging, SharePoint collaboration, and the Office Web Apps productivity suite. Even the largest organizations could operate more efficiently, and cut costs at the same time by adopting Office 365.

Office 365 Enterprise offers a range of service plans from $4 per user per month, up to $27 per user per month. Assuming a company of 1000 users, you are talking about an investment of $27,000 per month for the top-of-the-line Office 365 Enterprise service--or nearly $325,000 a year. It looks like a big number by itself, but if you stack it against the math from the last paragraph, suddenly it seems like Microsoft is giving Office 365 away, or even paying you to use it.

You get all of the productivity benefits of the Microsoft productivity and communications tools, while leaving the backend headaches and tedium to Microsoft. Microsoft will deliver Office 365 from geographically disperse, fully redundant sites providing reliable availability and resiliency that Microsoft guarantees with a financially-backed 99.9 uptime Service Level Agreement (SLA).

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

FBI Busts Coreflood Botnet

The Department of Justice and the FBI announced that they have obtained a temporary restraining order enabling them to disable the Coreflood botnet and respond to infected PCs. Authorities also obtained search warrants allowing them to seize five command and control servers located in Arizona, Georgia, Texas, Ohio, and California, and a seizure warrant for 29 domain names used by the botnet.

A related civil complaint, filed by the government alleged that they have engaged in "wire fraud, bank fraud, and unauthorized interception of electronic communications" by using the botnet, which installed key-logging software to steal people's personal financial information.

Thanks to the temporary restraining order, authorities can swap out the servers powering Coreflood for their own, replacing them with substitute C&C servers run by the government. Computers infected by Coreflood regularly attempt to phone home to the C&C server. When they do so, the government's substitute C&C servers will return a command to disable the malware.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Intel Hints at Another New Tablet Chip, Called Cloverview

Intel has hinted that is developing another next-generation chip for tablets, called "Cloverview," as part of its ongoing strategy to make its Atom processors more power-efficient.

The chip will be built using a 32 nanometer manufacturing process, which will lower power consumption. Cloverview will join two other 32 nm Atom based chips that Intel is developing. The company's "Cedar Trail chip" is being built for netbooks, while another chip known as Medfield is meant to be used in low end smartphones and tablets.

Intel's Atom processors are designed to function as low-power chips for netbooks and tablets. But they still lag behind low-power processors from Intel's rival ARM, which are considered more power efficient and are more widely used in tablet devices.

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Thursday, April 07, 2011

Malware Detection Will Be Added To Chrome Browser

Users of Google's Chrome browser will soon receive alerts telling them that files they're about to download may contain malicious software. This new feature, available first to developers, will work with its Safe Browsing Application Programming Interface, which enables client applications to check URLs against Google's blacklists of suspected phishing and malware pages. That list is regularly updated.

Growing detection methods may be turning the tables on spammers and hackers. Madrid-based cloud Relevant Products/Services-security company Panda last month reported a decrease in infected computers detected by its online ActiveScan, from 50 percent in January to 39 percent the following month.

Google's update will begin small, as an experiment for certain users who subscribe to the Chrome development release channel, with later inclusion planned for the next stable release of Google Chrome.

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Monday, April 04, 2011

Microsoft is testing a ribbon interface in Windows 8

Microsoft's ribbon user interface made its debut in Office 2007 and has polarised user opinion ever since. Microsoft has used the ribbon interface in a growing number of applications and judging from leaked Windows 8 screenshots, it is going to integrate the ribbon motif in Internet Explorer.

Microsoft has been doling out early beta releases of Windows 8 to its employees, though a glut of screenshots have appeared on the web. A newfangled start screen that takes cues from Windows Phone 7 also tipped up, and while that is unlikely to draw much criticism, the ribbon user interface is somewhat more questionable.

Microsoft is well known for demonstrating features in Windows beta releases that disappear by the time the final product is released to manufacturing.

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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Google Losing Ground in China

A year after Google Inc. moved its search services out of China, the Internet giant is struggling to maintain traction on a range of businesses in the country despite its executives' desire to keep growing in the wake of a feud with the Chinese government. Chinese online media company Sina Corp. said this week that it dropped Google's Web search service from its popular portal site.

At the same time, Google's Gmail free email service has become difficult to use in China; the company blames stepped up efforts by censors to disrupt Gmail access.

The developments are the latest signs that significant parts of Google's business in China, home to more than 450 million Internet users, have been unraveling since last March. The company's share of search market revenue in China dropped to 19.6% last quarter from 35.6% a year earlier.

Many Google users in China lament that products like Gmail are now harder to use—especially in recent weeks as Chinese authorities have stepped up controls in the wake of online threats to hold "Jasmine Revolution" protests in China.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Browser wars - Firefox 4 slaughtering Internet Explorer 9

VentureBeat reports that according to data from web analytics firm NetApplications, Firefox has been slaughtering Microsoft's baby when it comes to downloads. Mozilla’s Firefox 4 browser trounced Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 9 in first day downloads when it launched last week, but now it’s further walloping Microsoft’s browser by snagging twice as much usage in half the time, according to data from NetApplications.

As of March 26, Firefox 4 was seeing a 3.64 percent share of browser usage after only being available for 5 days. IE9, which launched just a week earlier had 1.78 percent after 12 days.

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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Google starts testing Google Music internally

Google Music, a streaming service that users would be able to access from Internet-connected devices, is close to being ready but is being held up by a lack of content. Google managers told counterparts at the top four record companies last year that they hoped everything would be in place for a launch by late 2010. The delays are largely due to the fact that Google is negotiating for cloud music rights and not just the authorization to distribute the songs themselves.

Labels have never given out licensing rights for digital lockers, so it's not like they can just grab an old template and work off that. They definitely do want Google to join the digital-music fray, however, as the possibility of a large iTunes competitor could mean Apple won't be able to bully music industry executives as easily.

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Firefox 4 adds speed and tames your tabs

Firefox 4 features a clean interface, competitive speed, HTML5 compatibility and two of the best browser features to be unveiled in a long time: the tab-wrangling prowess of Panorama, and the multicomputer synchronization power of Sync.

With Firefox 4, the "Chrome-ization" of the browser world is complete -- all of the major browsers now use a variation of the simple, stripped-down interface pioneered by Chrome.

The visual changes in Firefox 4 are quite substantial. Tabs now live along the top of the browser, above the address bar (which Firefox calls the "Awesome Bar"). Menus have vanished; to get at all of the browser's features, you click a button labeled "Firefox" at the top left corner of the browser and a menu drops down.

Firefox 4 may have borrowed some of Chrome's basic design ideas, but it has also introduced some useful new features as well. Key among them is Panorama, which helps solve the problem of tab proliferation. If you're the kind of person who tends to have many tabs open, making it hard to find the one you want quickly, Panorama may well be the best new feature of Firefox 4. Click the Panorama button (a square icon composed of four smaller rectangles) in the upper right of your Firefox window, and you'll come to a screen that shows thumbnails of all of your open tabs grouped in a single box against a blank background.

Firefox 4 introduces another feature, called Switch to Tab, to help you tame your tabs. As in the previous version of Firefox, when you type text in the address bar, Firefox searches through your history, previous searches and sites you've bookmarked and shows likely matches in a drop-down list below the address bar. Now, however, it also searches through any tabs you have open.

Firefox Sync can synchronize bookmarks, browsing history, passwords and open tabs.

Firefox 4 does an excellent job of supporting Web standards, including the upcoming HTML5 standards.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Unlike IE9, Firefox 4 Will Still Support Windows XP

IE9 is designed to support Vista and Windows 7, while the new Firefox also supports XP as well as Windows 2000. Microsoft has said it decided not to support XP in IE9 because it will utilize the graphics processor, which isn't possible under XP, which was released in 2001. A Microsoft executive told news media that supporting XP would have meant "optimizing for the lowest common denominator."

Like IE, Firefox 4 offers support for hardware acceleration in Vista and Windows 7 by utilizing Direct2D and Direct3D APIs. XP doesn't support Direct2D, but Firefox uses Direct3D on XP to provide partial acceleration in Firefox 4. According to web-statistics firm Net Applications, XP represents 55 percent of operating systems connected to the web, or 61 percent of all Windows-based systems.

Other browsers, including Apple's Safari for Windows, Opera and Google's Chrome, will continue to support XP, which Microsoft has essentially abandoned as it attempts to move users to Vista and Windows 7.

In a video on Mozilla's web site, Nightingale said the new JavaScript engine in Firefox 4 is up to "six times faster than any previous version we've shipped."

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Friday, March 18, 2011

Microsoft Claims Rustock Botnet Takedown

Microsoft is claiming it took down the massive Rustock botnet, in a wide-ranging operation that saw servers seized in multiple cities.

Estimates of Rustock’s size varied between 1.1 million and 1.7 million infected computers, and the botnet may have been responsible for 47.5 percent of all spam sent worldwide by the end of 2010.

In a March 17 posting on the Microsoft on the Issues blog, Richard Boscovich, senior attorney for Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit (DCU), claims the company squashed Rustock following a months-long investigation. In addition, Microsoft has apparently filed suit against the Rustock botnet’s anonymous operators, following a procedure pioneered when the company helped take down the Waledac botnet. In the case of Rustock, the takedown involved bringing the case before U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, in addition to a “coordinated seizure of command and control servers in multiple hosting locations escorted by the U.S. Marshals Service.

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Internet Explorer 9 downloads: 2.3 million in first 24 hours

The newest version of Microsoft's Internet Explorer Web browser, IE9, tallied 2.3 million downloads in its first day of release.

Microsoft's browser refresh is getting high marks for embracing Web standards such as HTML 5 and CSS3, a tracking protection mechanism, features such as pinned sites and dynamic jumplists, and a more streamlined interface. Microsoft's new browser also features hardware acceleration designed to take advantage of your computer's capabilities for improved graphics rendering.

While other Web browsers like Mozilla's Firefox, Apple's Safari and Google's Chrome are eating into Internet Explorer's audience, in North America, IE "still retains a clear lead in the browser market," said StatCounter, a website analytics company, in January.

Firefox 4 is coming next week, due for release March 22. It's a major revamp, with improvements that are supposed to make the browser speedier and provide a streamlined user interface.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Adobe Flash Player has critical security issue

Adobe released a security advisory revealing that a “critical vulnerability” was found in pretty much all versions of the multimedia platform as well as in Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Reader.

Affected versions include: “Adobe Flash Player and earlier versions (Adobe Flash Player and earlier for Chrome users) for Windows, Macintosh, Linux and Solaris operating systems, Adobe Flash Player and earlier versions for Android, and the Authplay.dll component that ships with Adobe Reader and Acrobat X (10.0.1) and earlier 10.x and 9.x versions of Reader and Acrobat for Windows and Macintosh operating systems.”

The vulnerability could result in a crash or potentially be exploited by a hacker to “take control of the affected system.” Worse, there are reports already that this security hole is being exploited via a Flash file (.swf) embedded in a Microsoft Excel (.xls) spreadsheet that arrives as an e-mail attachment.

Work on a fix is underway. Those versions of software with critical flaws — which is everything other than Reader X, are getting the most attention. Adobe expects a fix to go live “during the week of March 21, 2011.”

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Monday, March 07, 2011

Google activates 'kill switch' to remove Android malware

Google's response to a bout of Trojan-horse applications targeting its Android operating system shows how much and how little power it exerts over that platform. The key part of Google's latest reaction is the remote removal from users' phones of applications identified as malware.

Google will also send a software update called "Android Market Security Tool March 2011" to infected phones over the next day or two that will close the security vulnerabilities exploited by this malware.

Although the current version of Android, 2.3, doesn't have the vulnerability exploited by this malware, most Android phones don't run it. And Google can't make them offer updates to 2.3.

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Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Malware Discovered in Android Market

The growing popularity of app stores for mobile applications has attracted the attention of malicious hackers hoping to spread malware that could potentially compromise a user's security and expose personal information. The latest example is a report that Google had to scramble this week to pull at least 20 applications from its Android Market after the website Android Police reported that they were infected with malware.

"There's another APK hidden inside the code, and it steals nearly everything it can: product ID, model, partner (provider?), language, country, and userID," the post adds. "But that's all child's play; the true pièce de résistance is that it has the ability to download more code. In other words, there's no way to know what the app does after it's installed, and the possibilities are nearly endless." Android Police updated its report to note that Google moved extremely quickly to pull the offending apps.

Symantec estimates that a thousand new apps are uploaded to Android Market every day.

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Monday, February 28, 2011

Gmail Bug Deletes E-Mails for 150,000 Users

The cloud has failed roughly 150,000 Gmail users, whose e-mails have been deleted and accounts disabled by a mysterious glitch.

Users on Google's help forum report that the Gmail bug responsible deletes everything, including e-mails, labels, folders, and settings. When affected users log on, they see a welcome message as if they've never used Gmail before. Other users simply found their accounts disabled while repairs are being done. According to Mashable, the bug affects less than 0.08 percent of users.

Updated With Google Response: "A very small number users are having difficulty accessing their Gmail accounts, and in some cases once they're in, trouble viewing e-mails. This is affecting less than .08% of our Gmail user base, and we've already fixed the problem for some users. Our engineers are working as quickly as possible and we hope to have everything back to normal as soon as possible. We're very sorry for the inconvenience."

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Windows 7 SP1 Now Available

Windows 7 SP1 doesn’t bring nearly as much to the table as some past Windows service packs. There is almost exactly nothing to see here unless you’re running Windows Server 2008 R2 (my money says most of you aren’t), and even then it only helps you if you’re deeply invested in a Microsoft backend for your thin clients.

To install the update to your existing Windows 7 PC will generally take no less than half an hour (not including download time), and probably more on older hardware and netbooks. In daily use you won’t notice any major performance improvements, especially if you compare, say, Vista RTM to Vista SP1.

Windows 7 SP1 will get you a more secure (and possibly more stable, depending on your particular circumstances) PC, but it doesn’t change things up under the hood nearly as much as did Windows XP SP2 or Vista SP1, or even XP SP3 and Vista SP2.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Chrome 10 Beta Supercharges Performance

Just when it was looking like Google Chrome couldn't get any faster, a new beta shows up and shatters that impression. Google announced a new Chrome 10 beta that boosts JavaScript performance by a substantial 66 percent, as measured by Google's own V8 benchmark, and implements GPU-accelerated video playing. The beta also changes the way users set options, and lets them sync passwords.

Product manager Jeff Chang and product marketing manager Li Chan described the GPU video acceleration: "Users with capable graphics hardware should see a significant decrease in CPU usage. In full screen mode, CPU usage may decrease by as much as 80%.

The new beta adds a couple of other new user features. Users can now sync saved site passwords on multiple computers. The released version already allows syncing of bookmarks, preferences, themes, and extensions. The new feature also allows for encryption of the synced password if the user chooses that measure of extra security.

The new version will likely make it to the stable release channel some time in the next few weeks: Chrome versions have been coming out at a pace of once every three months—more frequently than any other major browser.

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

30% of Verizon iPhone 4 buyers switched from Droid, 25% from BlackBerry

More than half of all Verizon iPhone 4 buyers switched away from one of the iPhone’s two primary competing platforms in the process, with one in four new iPhone 4 users on Verizon came from RIM’s BlackBerry camp, while nearly one in three came from the Verizon Droid realm.

The first point is that there were clearly a large number of Verizon customers who preferred the iPhone all along but, not willing to leave Verizon, were instead using whatever they considered to be the best of Verizon’s available smartphone options.

The second definitive point is that while more of AT&T’s existing iPhone users may well jump ship once the next generation iPhone arrives or once their contracts are up, very few iPhone users were having bad enough experiences with AT&T that they felt they needed to make an immediate move to Verizon.

The final tidbit here is that while a slight majority of Verizon iPhone 4 buyers were in fact switching away from competing Verizon smartphones, nearly half were switching away from some kind of generic flip-phone or other featureless phones.

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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Global data storage calculated at 295 exabytes

Mankind's capacity to store the colossal amount of information in the world has been measured by scientists.

The study, published in the journal Science, calculates the amount of data stored in the world by 2007 as 295 exabytes. That is the equivalent of 1.2 billion average hard drives. One exabyte is a billion gigabytes.

The researchers calculated the figure by estimating the amount of data held on 60 technologies from PCs and and DVDs to paper adverts and books. Scientists calculated the figure by estimating the amount of data held on 60 analogue and digital technologies during the period from 1986 to 2007. They considered everything from computer hard drives to obsolete floppy discs, and x-ray films to microchips on credit cards.

The fastest growing area of information manipulation has been computation. During the two decades the survey covers, global computing capacity increased by 58% per year.

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Microsoft ships IE9 RC

Microsoft today launched the release candidate of Internet Explorer 9 (IE9), saying that the browser is now feature complete and that the final build would ship shortly.

IE9's release candidate, or RC, features faster performance, a small memory footprint, new support for additional Web standards and the opt-in Tracking Protection that Microsoft has touted as its answer to calls for a Do Not Track feature in all browsers.

"With the Release Candidate, we've taken to heart over 17,000 pieces of feedback about IE9," said Dean Hachamovitch, the executive who heads the IE team, in a blog post today. "You will find the product has made progress on all fronts -- performance and standards, user experience, and safety and privacy."

Tracking Protection is Microsoft's response to growing concern on the part of consumers, privacy advocates and government regulators about online privacy, particularly how advertisers track users' movements and their purchasing habits.

Although Microsoft has promised to complete IE9 this quarter, it has not set a launch date for the final version. Microsoft is betting that IE9 will bring back some of the users who have abandoned Internet Explorer for rivals like Mozilla's Firefox and Google's Chrome.

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Monday, February 07, 2011

Google fixes 9 bugs in Chrome, including sandbox-escape flaw

Google on Thursday patched nine bugs in Chrome and upgraded the most stable edition of the browser to version 9. The nine flaws fixed in Chrome 9.0.597.84 range from several crash bugs to what Google called a "race condition in audio handling." The latter was the only vulnerability rated as "critical," Google's most serious ranking. Two others were pegged as "high" and six were labeled as "low."

According to French security company Vupen, the audio handling race condition bug can be exploited to escape Chrome's sandbox.

If accurate, it would be the second sandbox-escape vulnerability that Google's patched in the last two months. On Jan. 12, Google updated Chrome with fixes for 16 bugs, including one that Adobe yesterday said was also a sandbox-escape flaw.

Chrome is the only major browser that isolates system processes in a sandbox, technology designed to prevent malware from escaping an application, like Chrome, to infect the computer or steal information from the hard drive.

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Friday, February 04, 2011

Dating site steals 250,000 Facebook profiles

If you made any of your Facebook profile information publicly accessible for all to see, there's a good chance you are already a potential mate on

The self-described online "dating agency" launched this week, and it already has a quarter of a million profiles. But then again that's pretty easy to do when you just run an algorithm to transfer over all the public profiles you can find on Facebook.

"Scraping people's information violates our terms. We have taken, and will continue to take, aggressive legal action against organizations that violate these terms. We're investigating this site and will take appropriate action," said Facebook director of policy communications Barry Schnitt.

The pair of Web designers who made is arguing it only pulled the data to show it was possible, and claim it's an expression of "art" in the digital profile era. They say they'll remove anyone's profile if they're asked to, and insist it's more of a prank than anything else. But knowing how power-hungry Facebook is, they may have to pay for this prank.

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Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Chrome, Safari reach record browser share highs

Google's Chrome and Apple's Safari posted record numbers in January while Microsoft's Internet Explorer lost ground for the sixth month running. Both Chrome and Safari passed major usage share milestones, breaking the 10% and 6% bars, respectively, said Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based Net Applications.

Chrome, which has added 5.5 percentage points in the last year, gained just over seven-tenths of a point in January to end the month with 10.7% of the global browser market. Meanwhile, Safari piggybacked on a boost in Mac usage -- last month Apple's Mac OS X desktop operating system posted its largest gain since September 2009 -- to climb four-tenths of a percentage point to 6.3%.

IE lost over a point to end January with a 56% share, a new low. IE has lost six points in the past year, with only two months of gains during that time. Mozilla's Firefox remained flat in January, accounting for 22.8% of all browsers used during the month.

IE9, which launched as a public beta last September, is slated to ship this quarter. Microsoft has also issued invitations to an event next week in San Francisco, where most expect the company to announce the release candidate, or RC, build of the browser -- the last major step before work is wrapped up.

Net Applications calculates browser usage share from data acquired from the 160 million unique visitors who browse approximately 40,000 Web sites it monitors for clients.

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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Reports say Egypt Web shutdown is coordinated, extensive

To combat social media, another important weapon for the demonstrators, outside experts and people living in the country say the government has coordinated a blockage of certain communications websites and unplugged internet access entirely to parts of the country.

On Thursday, protesters active on Twitter and Facebook, publicly documenting demonstrations on the streets of Cairo, Alexandria and other cities, went quiet. Around the same time, many websites centralized on servers in Egypt disappeared.

Cellular telephone operators were told by authorities to suspend services in parts of Egypt, according to a statement from Vodafone, a global cell carrier that operates there. Lack of cell and landline phone service could prove to be a bigger obstacle to demonstration organizers than the internet disruption. Many of Egypt's impoverished citizens don't rely on the Web in their day-to-day lives anyway, said Parvez Sharma, a documentary filmmaker on Middle Eastern culture.

Before Thursday's seemingly more concerted halt of internet services, access to Twitter and Facebook in Egypt was becoming spotty.

These services have played major roles in protests in Tunisia and Iran and for dissidents in China. They had begun to explode alongside street protests.

When social media websites were blocked, many in Egypt had found their way around it by using software called proxies.

This remains a common practice for people in China looking to skirt the government's "great wall" blocking certain Web services. Proxies can trick internet providers and routing services designed to block certain cities or countries into believing that a person is located elsewhere.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Mozilla updates Firefox 4 Beta 10 with 506 bug fixes

There are a lot of bugs in Firefox 4. Mozilla this week updated the next gen Firefox browser to Beta 10, quashing no less than 506 bugs. Taking a deeper look at the 506 bugs fixed in Beta 10 reveals a tonne of stability fixes. There also appears to be a number of memory fixes, which is also a good thing.

There is actually at least one new feature/usability improvement in Beta 10 as well. With Firefox 4 Beta 10 users can now double click anywhere to create a new tab. This is a feature that was proposed for Beta 8.

There are still a few more milestones officially left for Firefox 4 including at least one more beta and a pair of Release Candidates.

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Monday, January 24, 2011

Internet Body May Use up IPv4 Addresses This Week

The current crop of Internet addresses could start to disappear this week if a regional Internet registry makes one more request for two blocks of addresses.

APNIC (Asia Pacific Network Information Centre) is eligible to request two large blocks of IPv4 (Internet Protocol, Version 4) addresses, because users have been snapping up its existing stock quickly enough, according to Leo Vegoda, manager of number resources at the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority. Because there are only seven of these large blocks left, that allocation to APNIC would activate a policy for the IANA to hand out the last five blocks to the five regional registries, Vegoda said.

The timing suggests that predictions that IPv4 addresses will be depleted very soon may be correct. Martin Levy, director of IPv6 strategy at ISP Hurricane Electric, predicted last week that the IANA's stockpile would be exhausted this week. At the same time, two online "clocks" that estimate the date of IPv4 depletion are showing that this event should have passed already or would occur very soon.

This won't mean that suddenly no user can get a new IPv4 address, Vegoda noted. In addition to the remaining numbers held by the RIRs, there are some addresses left in older blocks assigned before the RIRs were established, which the RIRs have split up among themselves. But given the fast adoption of new addresses in some parts of the world, those resources might be used up soon.

The expanded address space is expected to be most critical to users in quickly developing countries such as China and India, as well as for the many new mobile devices being used for Internet access. The transition to IPv6 will be gradual, but even an enterprise that has enough IPv4 addresses should start supporting IPv6 in order to reach the new end points that won't be able to get IPv4 addresses, Vegoda said.

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Twitter Worm Pushes Fake Antivirus Protection

Another worm is making the rounds on Twitter via the URL shortening service, often directing users to fake anti-virus software. Affected users might notice mysterious tweets that they did not write showing up on their feeds, many of which include links that end with "m28sx.html."

If you click on these links, you are taken to a Web site that suggests your computer has been infected by a virus. The site encourages you to download what it says is anti-virus protection but is actually malicious code. Del Harvey, head of Twitter's trust and safety efforts, tweeted yesterday that the company was "working to remove the malware links and reset passwords on compromised accounts."

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Facebook Launches New Mobile App for Feature Phones

Facebook has just announced a new mobile application designed specifically for feature phones. The app will give feature phone users access to Facebook messages, events, pictures, news feeds, profiles and more. The app gives users a better, almost smartphone-like Facebook experience that includes simple homescreen navigation, contact syncing and fast scrolling of updates and photos.

The company’s mobile program manager Mark Heynen writes, “The Facebook for Feature Phones app works on more than 2,500 devices from Nokia, Sony Ericsson, LG and other manufacturers.

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Monday, January 17, 2011

Facebook tweak reveals addresses, phone numbers

In what is potentially another privacy misstep, Facebook has made a change to a permissions dialog box users see when downloading third-party Facebook apps--a change that potentially makes users' addresses and phone numbers available to app developers.

The tweak was made known to developers of third-party apps Friday night, by way of a post on the Facebook Developer Blog. Basically, when a person starts downloading a third-party Facebook app, a Request for Permission dialog box appears that asks for access to basic information including the downloader's name, profile picture, gender, user ID, list of friends, and more. What's new as of Friday is an additional section that asks for access to the downloader's current address and mobile-phone number

Aside from the potential for outright hacking and identity theft, it's not unheard of for app developers to sell information on Facebook users to data brokers. Users of third-party Facebook apps can simply click the Don't Allow button--which reportedly won't interfere with a successful download--or they can remove their address and phone number from their Facebook profile.

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