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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.