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Sunday, July 28, 2013

US Agency: Search Engines Must Clearly Label Ads

The US Federal Trade Commission has issued a warning to search engines that they need to clearly mark all results that are advertisements. The FTC issued letters 24 June 2013 to firms including AOL, Bing, DuckDuckGo, Google, and Yahoo—plus companies offering specialized search in areas such as local businesses, travel, and shopping—stating that they need to clearly distinguish between paid advertising and routine search results. The agency said paid search results have become increasingly less distinguishable as advertising. Search engine companies, particularly Google, have recently faced similar complaints from European government agencies. The FTC can levy fines for noncompliance with regulations regarding deceptive advertisements. ( States Federal Trade Commission)

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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Google Not Responsible for “Right to Be Forgotten”

A senior European judicial official issued a formal opinion stating that Google and other search providers are not responsible for third-party information  in their search results and that there is no general “right to be forgotten” in current data protection laws. The right to be forgotten addresses the storage of personal public data by organizations, including telecommunications providers, and places limits on the time the data is available. Under the EU’s Data Protection Directive, originally adopted in 1995, search engine service providers are not responsible for any personal data that may appear on the webpages they return in response to queries, stated European Court of Justice advocate general Niilo Jääskinen, in a formal opinion written to the court. National data protection authorities in Europe cannot require a search engine to remove third-party information from its index, such as a newspaper article, unless it is incomplete, inaccurate, libelous, or criminal. Jääskinen issued his opinion in response to a 2009 Spanish case in which an individual asked Google to remove old financial information about his debts that were originally published in a newspaper article from its index. Spain’s data-protection agency found in the individual’s favor and asked Google to remove the third-party information so that it wouldn’t appear again in search results. Google contested the ruling in court. Jääskinen’s opinion is not binding on the European Court of Justice, which is expected to issue a ruling later this year. (Financial Times)(BBC)(The Associated Press @ The San Jose Mercury-News)(PC World)(European Network and Information Security Agency)

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Friday, July 26, 2013

Opera Says Network Attack Lets Hackers Certify Malware

Browser maker Opera Software says an attack on its internal network took advantage of its update service and led to the theft of at least one old and expired code-signing certificate that hackers used to sign malware, making it look legitimate to victims and thus safe to use. This has allowed them to distribute malicious software that incorrectly appears to have been published by Opera Software or appears to be the Opera browser, Opera stated. The company released no other details. Because of the scheme, any Windows user who downloaded the malware thinking it was the Opera browser and tried to install the browser on 19 June 2013 may have installed the malicious software instead. This is an example of how hackers are increasingly focusing attacks on software firms’ internal networks -- which allows them to have the ability sign files and to escalate their own privileges in order to move more freely within the network --  rather than individual users, according to security experts. (SlashDot)(Security Week)(The Opera Security Group)

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Microsoft Reveals Windows 8.1 Details

Microsoft has demonstrated Windows 8.1, an update to the oft-criticized Windows 8, at its Microsoft Build Developer Conference this week. Although participating executives, including CEO Steve Ballmer, acknowledged changes were needed to Windows 8, no apologies were offered for the OS. Users were frustrated with the experience presented when switching between desktop and modern interface modes, the loss of the start menu, and inability to boot to the desktop in Windows 8. Some market-research firms attributed the recent decline in PC sales to Windows 8. The company has retooled the OS so that it can be more easily used across various platforms, including mobile devices’s smaller displays, and restored both the start menu and the ability to boot to the desktop, which allows users to skip the display of the “Start” screen. Industry analysts say the release could be good for Microsoft’s bottom line.  “They’re setting themselves up for a nice holiday season this year,” said Gartner Inc. analyst Carolina Milanesi. (San Jose Mercury-News @ Bloomberg Businessweek)(PC Mag)(Windows 8.1 Previews)

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Working Apple 1 on the Auction Block

A functioning Apple 1—one of the first Apple computers—is set to be auctioned next week. The computer was discovered in storage by Ted Perry, a retired school psychologist who lives in Carmichael, California, a suburb of Sacramento. He obtained it in about 1979 or 1980 in a swap for other computer gear. The motherboard is the only original item remaining on the system. The market for early Apple products became hot, according to the Associated Press, after Steve Jobs’ death in 2011. Christie’s auction house will start the bidding on the Apple 1 at roughly $300,000 and estimates it could sell for as much as $500,000. In May, a working Apple 1 sold at an auction in Germany for a record auction price fetched by an Apple computer $671,000. Only 46 of the 200 Apple 1 computers made still remain, with only six in working condition. (PC Mag)(The Associated Press @ USA Today)

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Tool Calculates Potential Value of E-Mail to Hackers

A new research tool scans a user’s Gmail account to calculate the potential benefit hackers could realize by exploiting the account and then stealing and selling valuable personal information. The Cloudsweeper tool, created by University of Illinois at Chicago researchers, uses the Open Authentication protocol that allows the tool to connect to a Gmail account and search through messages. It then provides a list of the number of retail accounts connected to that address, which include sites such as Amazon or Groupon, that attackers could seize should they gain access. The tool then consults its database and calculates the account’s value based on their current black-market resale price to hackers who want to use the data to steal money or for other illegal purposes. (SlashDot)(Krebs on Security)(Cloudsweeper)

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Firefox OS Phone Debut Set

The first Firefox OS phone is scheduled for release in Spain later this week. Telefónica is selling the ZTC Open with for $90  with a prepaid subscription. The operating system is being touted as an alternative for less expensive smartphones and is competing against Android and Nokia Asha phones. Telefónica will soon offer Firefox OS phones in Colombia and Venezuela. The company says it expects other manufacturers—including LG Electronics, Huawei Technologies, and Sony—to soon offer Firefox OS smartphones. Deutsche Telekom is reportedly planning to launch its own Firefox OS handset and Norway’s Telenor is slated to start offering Firefox OS phones in Central and Eastern Europe later this year. The OS is not expected to appear in the US until 2014. (Computerworld)(PC Mag)

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Google Seeking Adventurous Backpackers for Maps Expansion

Google Maps is going off-road and soliciting the assistance of intrepid hikers to record terrain for its Street View maps. The company created its camera-equipped Terrain backpack specifically to gather data on those areas inaccessible by paved roads. Google explained, “The Trekker is operated by an Android device and consists of 15 lenses angled in different directions so that the images can be stitched together into 360-degree panoramic views. As the operator walks, photos are taken roughly every 2.5 seconds. Our first collection using this camera technology was taken along the rough, rocky terrain of Arizona’s Grand Canyon.” The 42-pound backpack has also been used to map Japan’s Gunkanjima Island, a deserted island off the country’s west coast originally established for coal mining. Those interested in participating are asked to apply to use the backpack with a description of why they want to participate and whether they can obtain the permissions necessary to access the desired destinations. Google has previously used vehicles such as trolleys and snowmobiles to gather difficult-to-obtain images for Street View. (Ars Technica)(The Daily Mail)(NBC News)(Google)

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Monday, July 22, 2013

Facebook Award Bug Bounty to UK Researcher

Facebook awarded $20,000 to UK security researcher Jack Whitton who found a critical bug in the social network’s text-messaging service that would let attackers access and use someone’s account by sending a message. The attack uses Facebook’s feature that permits users to log in with a telephone number linked to their account. Whitton, who also participates in other bug bounty programs, discovered the hacker can tie his own phone number to the target account, then reset the password with a text message. Whitton posted a detailed accounting of the flaw on his website < >.
(BBC)(Help Net Security)(fin1te -- Whitton website)

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Sunday, July 21, 2013

[Conference News] Enabling Survivability in Cloud-Networking Services

As cloud computing services expand across interconnected datacenters, reliability and survivability are becoming major concerns among users. Current failure-recovery strategies aren’t always effective against large failures, so survivable virtual network (VN) mapping design is of key interest.

At the 2013 International Conference on Computing, Networking and Communications (ICNC 2013), researchers from Cisco Systems, Kuwait University, and the University of New Mexico presented a paper proposing a way to compute VN mappings so that each service request can recover from a single regional failure.

“Survivable Cloud Networking Services” and other papers from ICNC 2013 are available to both IEEE Computer Society members and paid subscribers via the Computer Society Digital Library.

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Gartner: Worldwide PC Shipments Will Decline 10.6 Percent

New market research from Gartner Inc. shows that global shipment of traditional PCs—which it defines as desktop and notebook computers—will drop 10.6 percent, compared to last year, to 305 million units in 2013. The company expects PC shipments to fall to 289 million in 2014. Mobile-device sales this year will be 2.35 billion, projected Gartner. The company said this increase of 5.9 percent over 2012. Tablet sales are forecast to increase 67.9 percent to 202 million units, while the mobile phone market is expected to grow 4.3 percent, with 1.8 billion units shipping. “Consumers want anytime-anywhere computing that allows them to consume and create content with ease, but also share and access that content from a different portfolio of products. Mobility is paramount in both mature and emerging markets,” said Gartner research vice president Carolina Milanesi. (CNET)(Tech Crunch)(Gartner)

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Saturday, July 20, 2013

PayPal, SETI Developing Intergalactic Payment System

How can people transact business in space? PayPal Galactic is a new initiative designed to answer the question. PayPal, an online money-transfer company, is working toward developing a currency that global companies planning space outposts could easily use to transact business in space. Tourists into space, for example, may need the currency to pay for paying a bill or transferring money to someone back on Earth. A key part of the project is to devise what this payment system might look like. SETI will play a key role in answering those questions and bringing its expertise in space exploration to the project. The endeavor is expected to require various collaborations between technology firms, financial and space experts, and government agencies. The project is part of a growing interest in the commercialization of space travel. Virgin Galactic plans its inaugural consumer space flight in December 2013, and Orbital Technologies says it will open the first space hotel which is in 2016. (Mashable)(ABC News)( Galactic)

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Friday, July 19, 2013

[Conference News] Reducing Overhead in Named Data Manets

Named Data Networks (NDNs) use data names instead of host addresses to locate data. The NDN architecture assumes pull-based forwarding and a one-interest-one-data principle. To initiate a data transfer, a data consumer must send an Interest Packet to request the corresponding data packet. NDN’s chunk-based caching feature is beneficial in coping with the mobility and intermittent connectivity challenges in Mobile Ad Hoc Networks (Manets).

In a paper presented at the 2013 International Conference on Computing, Networking and Communications (ICNC 2013), researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, and IBM T.J. Watson Research Center describe a study of Named Data Manet (NDM) forwarding designs. They propose the Neighborhood-Aware Interest Forwarding (NAIF) design to reduce the bandwidth usage induced by indiscriminate interest flooding, which is a problem in other NDM forwarding designs. They present results showing that NAIF reduces bandwidth usage by up to 54 percent compared to other approaches.

“Interest Propagation in Named Data Manets” and other ICNC 2013 papers are available to both IEEE Computer Society members and paid subscribers via the Computer Society Digital Library.

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

New European Regulations Require Companies to Disclose Breaches

Under new EU regulations, any ISP or telecommunications provider serving the European market that suffers a security or data breach that leads to theft, loss, or compromise of data must disclose it within 24 hours. They will be required to provide information about the breach’s exact nature and size, and disclose all details about the event within three days. They will also have to disclose the information that was compromised and any steps they took to resolve the matter. For breaches in which personal information or privacy were compromised, ISPs and providers will have to notify customers and the appropriate national data-protection authority. The European Commission said this will clarify existing regulations, ensuring that all customers are getting equal treatment. The commission also intends to give companies incentives for encrypting personal data and, with the European Network and Information Security Agency, plans to publish a list of these possible protections for data. Any company that encrypts personal data that experiences a data breach would be exempt from notifications. (SlashDot)(European Commission)

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[Conference News] Extracting Hidden Behavioral Patterns from Social Network Data

Massive information about human behavior is continuously generated by Web-based services, both public and private. The data include traces of not only individual activities but also collaborative work, and the social networks that can be extracted from these datasets offer a kind of knowledge that’s independent of user awareness.

In a paper presented at the 2013 International Conference on Social Intelligence and Technology (Social 2013), researchers from the Wroclaw University of Technology in Poland describe a data-driven approach to social network analysis that enables various applications of knowledge about human behavior. They illustrate selected models and analytical methods in applications to recommender systems, organizational structure analysis, and social group evolution.

“From Data to Human Behaviour” and other papers from Social 2013 are available to both IEEE Computer Society members and paid subscribers via the Computer Society Digital Library.

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Google: Hacked Legitimate Websites Pose Rising Risk

Google has released information indicating that hacked, legitimate websites distributing malicious software are now more numerous than sites that hackers deliberately created to host malware. In its biannual Google Transparency Report, the company said that there are now about 3,891 deliberately malicious sites, compared to 39,247 sites made harmful via hacking. Google estimates that about 60 percent of all compromised websites host malware with 40 percent of all compromised websites used for phishing attacks. Google based its findings on its Safe Browsing service, which compiles provides lists of URLs for Web resources that contain malware or phishing-related content. The Apple Safari, Google Chrome, and Mozilla Firefox browsers use the lists to check pages against potential threats. (CNET)(Computerworld)(Google Transparency Report)

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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Researchers Prove Twisted-Fiber Communications Works

An international team of researchers has proven that twisted light can indeed increase data rates in optical fibers but only on a new type of fiber. The concept had been previously demonstrated in free space, but not in fiber. The researchers—from Boston University, University of Southern California, Tel Aviv University, and Danish fiber company OFS-Fitel—report they achieved rates of 1.6 terabits per second over a distance of 1 km  of a newly designed optical fiber. The optical communication technology uses a corkscrew-shaped light that allows more data to be sent by encoding more data in the light’s twists. The method does not work using standard fiber because the twisted light loses the ability to send data, but the team created a new design incorporating different chemicals into each concentric ring of fiber. This changes the speed at which the light travels in each ring, thereby creating different pathways for the various twisted light beams, each of which functions as a channel. This means a single fiber can achieve data multiplexing. The approach might be first used in new or upgraded datacenters, which could install the new fiber easily. It cannot work on existing fiber networks such as submarine telecommunications cables. The researchers published their work in Science. (BBC)(Science)

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Microsoft Iowa Data Center Expanding

Microsoft plans to invest $677.6 million to expand its West Des Moines, Iowa, datacenter. The Iowa Economic Development Authority said it provided tax benefits to Microsoft’s Project Mountain, which will create an estimated 29 new jobs, most paying $23.12 per hour. The expansion of the facility, which Microsoft opened in 2009, will support the XBox Live online multiplayer gaming and digital media delivery service, the Office 365 subscription-based software and services suite, and the company’s cloud service offerings. (International Business Times)(Computerworld)(The Iowa Economic Development Authority)

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Monday, July 15, 2013

Researchers Create Inexpensive Holographic Display

MIT Media Lab researchers have developed a low-cost color holographic video display powered by a $10 optical chip they created. The prototype display can update images fast enough—30 times per second—to make the image look like it is in motion. The device could lead to affordable color holographic-video displays and increase conventional 2D displays’ resolutions. The chip is the least expensive component in the system, but it is not the only newly-devised component. Typically, it is difficult to control the light waves to create a holographic video image. Existing technologies are too expensive and cumbersome. As a solution, the researchers used a lithium niobate crystal, smaller than other materials previously attempted, and a single waveguide for each pixel in their system. The waveguides confine the light traveling through them and each can be located in close proximity to each other. Each waveguide also contains a metal electrode able to create an acoustic wave, which is used to filter light. The images they made refreshed at a rate of five frames per second and were 420 × 420 pixels. The researchers published their findings in Nature. (Mashable)(Discovery News)(MIT)(Nature)

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Japanese Robotic Astronauts Set to Travel to Space Station

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency announced plans to send two robots to the International Space Station in August. The Kibo Robot Project, founded to explore human-robot interaction. created Kirobo and backup robot Mirata. The small robots have capabilities such as voice and facial recognition, and the ability to communicate in Japanese. At the space station, Kirobo is expected to converse with Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata. . The Robo Garage, Toyota, the University of Tokyo, and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency are working on the project. (SlashDot)(Discovery News)(

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