Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Wisconsin Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said through a representative this week that he will not be introducing that legislation after all.
The statement came after CNET News.com reported on Tuesday that Sensenbrenner wanted to require Internet service providers to track what their users were doing so police might more easily 'conduct criminal investigations,' including inquiries into cases involving child exploitation and pornography. The concept is generally called data retention. "
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
U.S. Internet advertising surged 38 percent to a record $3.9 billion in the first quarter as marketers moved additional dollars to the Web, according to data released Tuesday.
The Interactive Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers surveyed leading companies that sell advertising space online, including Yahoo and Google, which are benefiting as consumers spend more of their media and purchasing time on the Internet.
"The momentum has continued to build in the Internet advertising space," said David Silverman, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers. "More and more advertisers are seeing the effectiveness of the medium."
The IAB and PricewaterhouseCoopers, which have tracked online ad spending since 1996, provide more-detailed ad revenue analysis in the second and fourth quarters.
But the preliminary first-quarter figures indicate the strength of online advertising, which grew to a $12.5 billion industry last year from less than $1 billion in 1997.
First-quarter Internet ad revenue was up 38 percent from a year earlier and up 6 percent from the fourth quarter of 2005.
Silverman said the increase from the fourth quarter was notable because year-end advertising tends to be heavy to reach consumers during the peak holiday shopping season.
And it's the right answer. If you can post information on a Web site, you're entitled to the same legal protections the law extends to the mainstream media.
Legal scholars will surely have a lot more to say about the California Appeals Court ruling (click here for PDF) rejecting Apple's bid to force an enthusiast Web site to turn over its records. But the most important precedent for me was the court's treatment of the 'who is a journalist question.'
Apple had sought to identify the source of a leak on an unannounced product. More than any other outfit in Silicon Valley, this company is run by control freaks prone to throwing tantrums when reporters land scoops. But when the information wound up published on a couple of Apple enthusiast sites, management ordered up the heavy artillery. "
Friday, May 26, 2006
Shaun Harrison, 18, and Saverio Mondelli, 19, both of whom are from Suffolk County, N.Y., were arrested in a sting operation last week, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office said Wednesday. The pair had traveled to Los Angeles to meet people they allegedly believed were MySpace employees, but who were in fact undercover investigators, according to the district attorney's statement.
The alleged crimes began late last year when the two young men took advantage of a flaw they had discovered in the MySpace Web site in order to obtain personal information on MySpace users, the district attorney said.
MySpace discovered the intrusion earlier this year and blocked it. The Los Angeles-based company also reported the incident to authorities. During the course of the investigation, threats were made that unless $150,000 was paid, new exploit code would be released, according to the statement.
By this time, the sting operation had been set up, so instead of meeting with MySpace late last week, the pair from New York met with undercover officers from the U.S. Secret Service and the Los Angeles District Attorney's Bureau of Investigation. "
The Pentagon reported that the U.S. government has underestimated China's defense spending. The Defense Department now believes Beijing's military expansion is two to three times greater than the official estimates--a sign that military analysts interpret to mean China is working to change Asia's strategic balance.
Maybe so. As the world's fasting-growing economic superpower, China has the wherewithal to equip itself with the best military money can buy. None of this comes as a shock to Washington, where the political elites long ago recognized that America's historic dominance in the Asia-Pacific region would come under challenge. It's a manageable and still-profitable relationship, but the tensions sometimes bubble to the surface when you least expect it. "
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Running Word in the restricted mode will not fix the vulnerability, but it will help block known modes of attack, Microsoft said in a security advisory published late Monday. The software maker is also developing a security update for Word, which should be available on June 13 or sooner, as warranted, the company said. "
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
The information involved mainly those veterans who served and have been discharged since 1975, said VA Secretary Jim Nicholson. Data of veterans discharged before 1975 who submitted claims to the agency may have been included.
Nicholson said there was no evidence the thieves had used the data for identity theft, and an investigation was continuing.
'It's highly probable that they do not know what they have,' he said in a briefing with reporters. 'We have decided that we must exercise an abundance of caution and make sure our veterans are aware of this incident.'
Veterans advocates expressed alarm.
'This was a very serious breach of security for American veterans and their families,' said Bob Wallace, executive director of Veterans of Foreign Wars. 'We want the VA to show leadership, management and accountability for this breach.'"
The worm, dubbed 'yhoo32.explr' by FaceTime Security Labs, was found two weeks ago on the Yahoo instant messaging network and was still active as of Friday, Tyler Wells, senior director of research at FaceTime, a seller of instant messaging security products, said in an interview.
The worm drops the 'Safety Browser' on the target's machine. The rogue browser uses the same icon as Microsoft's IE Web browser and, when opened, takes users to a site that installs spyware on the PC, FaceTime said. 'This is the first recorded incidence of malware installing its own Web browser on a PC,' the company said in a statement. "
According to the Financial Times, MySpace is in talks with both Google and Microsoft over a tie-up in search technology.
MySpace, which already has some 80 million users, would allow either company to post searches and related ads on the social networking site.
Yahoo! is also said to be in negotiations with MySpace although it is thought to be 'less interested' than either Google or Microsoft in doing a deal with the News Corp-owned site.
Social networking sites are now reaching 45 per cent of the active web population, according to data from Nielsen/Netratings.
MySpace rival Bebo, popular with the under 20s, announced yesterday that it has received $15m in funding from a venture capital group Benchmark Capital Europe."
Monday, May 22, 2006
The search giant's market share among home, work and university Internet users climbed from 42.7 percent to 43.1 percent from March to April of this year--up from 36.5 percent in April 2005, ComScore said Monday.
In second place, Yahoo saw its market share hold steady at 28 percent between March and April, a decrease of 2.7 percent from last year. Less than 6 percentage points separated Google's and Yahoo's respective market shares in April 2005. "
Would-be intruders already have attempted to compromise PCs at a Japanese government entity by exploiting the flaw, Vincent Weafer, the senior director at Symantec Security Response, said in an interview. In response, Symantec has raised its ThreatCon to Level 2, which means an outbreak is expected.
'What we're seeing is a continuation of the targeted threat using zero-day vulnerabilities,' Weafer said. (Zero-day flaws are ones for which no patch exists.) 'We got it from a single large customer inside Japan. We have not seen anyone else get it.' "
Still, Tim Berners-Lee, the Briton who invented and then gave away the World Wide Web, warns that Internet crime and anticompetitive behavior must be fought tooth and nail.
A lot of new technology is becoming available after many years to make the Web smarter and easier to use, he said.
'My personal view is that a lot of it is coming together now. That is very gratifying to see ... I'm very optimistic at this moment,' Berners-Lee said in a telephone interview ahead of the annual World Wide Web conference, which opens in Edinburgh on Today. "
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
In an interview with Wired News, Blue Security CEO Eran Reshef said the Israel-based company was closing its service Wednesday since he did not want to be responsible for an ever-escalating war that could bring down internet service providers and websites around the world and subject its users to denial-of-service attacks from a well-organized group in control of a massive army of computer drones.
'Our community would very much like us to continue on the fight against spam, and our community has grown over the last week,' Reshef said. 'But at the end of the day if we continue doing so, within a few days, major websites will go down. I don't feel that this is something I can be responsible for. I cannot go ahead and rip up the internet to make Blue Security work. This is not the decision a commercial entity can make.'"
At a panel discussion hosted by the Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee, which aims at informing legislative aides, a wireless industry representative on Tuesday said he's concerned that many products that use geographic location technology, such as those found in cars, aren't being held to the same standards as traditional wireless phone carriers.
'We're going to see in the next year pretty much all of the national wireless carriers deploy handsets that work on licensed commercial spectrum and also work off Wi-Fi hot spots,' said Michael Altschul, general counsel to the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA), an international trade association representing wireless carriers, suppliers and providers of wireless services. 'I don't want a customer who starts a call in a Starbucks using a Wi-Fi hot spot, then steps outside and the call is handed off to a commercial mobile service, to have different privacy expectations.' "
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
The proposal comes just weeks after Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said Internet service providers should retain records of user activities for a 'reasonable amount of time,' a move that represented a dramatic shift in the Bush administration's views on privacy. "
- please call these number with a valid argument on why this is a really bonehead move. I did.
The overhaul marks the first facelift to Yahoo's home page since September 2004.
The redesigned page includes more interactive features that reduce the need to click through to other pages to review the weather, check e-mail, listen to music or monitor local traffic conditions."
The site's video store will open May 22, the same day '24,' a popular Fox thriller about a fictional counterterrorism agency, airs its season finale. MySpace also plans to set up a '24' social network, through which fans can sound off about the show.
As part of the video store launch, fast-food chain Burger King is sponsoring free downloads for two preselected episodes of '24,' one episode of Fuel TV's 'Firsthand' and one episode of Speed Channel's 'Pinks,' News Corp. said."
Monday, May 15, 2006
On Monday, Yahoo takes the next step to realize its vision of combining human advice with machine automation to offer more relevant ways of searching the Web.
It is using the millions of human suggestions from its recently introduced Yahoo Answers to complement the mathematically organized features of its core search system.
'It's the right time now to augment Web search results with some human touch,' said Tim Mayer, Yahoo's product manager for Web search. 'We are making search better by allowing users to tap into the collective knowledge of other people.'
Meanwhile, Web search inventor Bill Gross, who sold the system to Yahoo, is set to unveil a new version of his latest project. One of his Idealab companies, Snap.com, is aimed at broadband users and gives people visual snapshots of Web sites before they click. "
'We need to know what our government is doing in its activities that spy upon Americans,' said Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat. Republican Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania vowed to hold hearings to get to the bottom of how the NSA's data mining works and whether Americans' privacy rights were affected.
To answer some questions about the program and how it likely works, CNET News.com has created the following list of answers to frequently asked questions. Keep reading.
Q: What new information came out this week?
USA Today published an article on Thursday that said AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth turned over records of millions of phone calls to the National Security Agency. These are not international calls--they're apparently records of all calls that those companies' customers made.
Two things are worth noting. First, based on the newspaper's description, contents of phone calls were not divulged. Second, customers' names, street addresses and other personal information were not handed over. "
After four decades producing some of the recording industry's biggest artists, everyone from Janice Joplin to Switchfoot, Mazer has developed his own test. He asks himself: 'Can you enjoy the music when it's playing at a low level?'
In the digital age, too often the answer is no. Much is lost when cramming Joplin's booming vocals or the rich guitar play of Pete Townshend or Jimi Hendrix into tiny digital files, Mazer says.
The rise of digital music players has made it easier to cart hundreds of songs around but has done little to improve listening experience, say music aficionados. A popular misconception is that digital music has to produce sound quality inferior to compact discs.
Not so, say companies such as MusicGiants and Sonos, which offer audiophiles a chance to listen to digital music in quality every bit as good as CDs. "
Friday, May 12, 2006
The company will announce that its cafeterias will serve only eggs from cage-free hens, according to an article in the San Jose Mercury News on Thursday. That's no small matter; the company serves about 300,000 eggs a year to about 6,000 employees a year, the article said.
'Animal rights groups urged the switch, noting that at many large farms, six or more hens are confined in a single wire cage,' the newspaper reported. 'For 12 to 18 months they cannot flap their wings or forage for food, and egg industry guidelines require only 67 square inches of space for each bird to live out its life--an area two-thirds the size of a sheet of notebook paper.' "
Although the Yahoo boss didn't confirm what form the speculated overtures took, he slapped down the idea Yahoo would be willing to let Microsoft take a stake in the company.
According to a report in the Financial Times, Semel said: 'Microsoft taking over Yahoo--that conversation has never come up.'
He added: '(We discussed) search, and Microsoft co-owning some of our search. I will not sell a piece of search--it is like selling your right arm while keeping your left; it does not make any sense.'"
'The settlement is just a joke,' said plaintiff Joseph Kinney, a Pinehurst, N.C., security consultant who said he has lost about $1,500 to click fraud on ads related to his SafeSpaces.com Web site. 'A jury needs to hear these issues and Google needs to be held accountable.'
Lane's Gifts and Collectibles and Caulfield Investigations sued Google and other search engines in February 2005 in state court in Texarkana, Ark., accusing them of charging advertisers for clicks on online advertisements that were fraudulent or done in bad faith and not with the intention of legitimate commerce.
Google reached a settlement with the plaintiffs in March that provides for $30 million to be used for lawyer fees and $60 million to pay credits to affected advertisers. The settlement would not apply to other defendants, namely Yahoo, Lycos, Miva, Go.com and LookSmart. "
Thursday, May 11, 2006
This is a work in progress, but even in its early stages, Google Co-op has the potential to let you contribute your expertise to the overall goal of making information more discoverable for everyone. "
The Deleting Online Predators Act, sponsored by Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, would essentially require most schools and libraries to render those Web sites inaccessible to minors.
'When children leave the home and go to school or the public library and have access to social-networking sites, we have reason to be concerned,' Fitzpatrick told News.com.
While bloggers acknowledged there may be cause for parental concern regarding predators, the general reaction seemed to be that the proposed legislation was overbroad and would likely do little to deter teens from the sites."
The news comes at a time when the competition for market share in the search industry is beginning to heat up. Just last week, it was reported that Microsoft held company meetings to consider forming an alliance with Yahoo against Google. For more, read Microsoft Considered Teaming Up With Yahoo Against Google.
Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt downplayed the scale of that competition and stressed that there will never be a sole king of the search space, according to the Journal. “There’s not going to be a single winner,” Schmidt told the audience at Google’s yearly meeting with the press, the Journal reports. Schmidt also noted that he thinks healthy competition will build the industry and boost ad prices, according to the Journal."
The company is working on a project code-named Apollo, which will let applications written for Adobe's Flash presentation software run without a Web browser, Kevin Lynch, chief software architect and senior vice president of Adobe's platform business unit, told CNET News.com. "
At its annual press day here in the Googleplex, the search giant took the lid off Google Desktop version 4, Google Notebook, Google Trends and Google Co-op.
The new version of Google Desktop lets people use mini-interactive applications from within the product's Sidebar without having to download software or open up a browser, said Marissa Mayer, vice president of search products and user experience.
Mayer led a demonstration in which a song icon was dragged and dropped atop a media player, causing the song to start playing. Similarly, a video clip, titled 'Laughing Babies,' was dragged onto a player, launching a clip of a mother holding a gaggle of giggling babies.
'Nothing like a biological clock right there in your Sidebar,' Mayer joked. "
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
During the dot-com boom, more than a few Internet start-ups planned to support free Internet services--and theoretically turn a profit--by selling online advertisements.
Needless to say, for many it didn't work. Now a new group of companies, ranging from tech giants to the tiniest of Silicon Alley start-ups, are banking on ad sales to support new Net services. Microsoft, for one, is pushing full-on into advertising with its Windows Live platform, which will offer Internet-based services like e-mail, blogging and instant messaging that are supported by ads and some subscriptions.
Sounds like the bad old days? Not at all, say industry experts. With new ad-tracking technologies and proven ad buyers like Procter & Gamble and Ford Motor leading the way, analysts believe there's a maturity and reliability to this ad boom that was sorely missing during the Internet bubble.
During the previous boom, 'traditional advertisers hadn't yet embraced the medium, so growth slowed,' said Denise Garcia, an analyst at WR Hambrecht + Co. 'That's not going to happen again because Procter & Gamble, large auto manufacturers and other companies have said they are decreasing spending on traditional media, like television, in favor of online media.'
Ford Motor, for example, dropped its magazine ad allotment from 23.5 percent to 21 percent last year but increased its spending on the Internet to 3.5 percent from 3 percent, according to AdAge.com. The company's overall ad budget remains flat, the article said. Ford, General Motors and Absolut Vodka all reportedly plan to spend 20 percent of their marketing budgets online this year."
Monday, May 08, 2006
The High Court in London on Monday ruled that Apple Computer is not liable for trademark infringement because the use of the Apple logo on its iTunes Music Store was not associated with the music it was selling and thus did not breach a previous settlement between the companies.
Apple Corps had sued the Mac maker, claiming that the launch of the iTunes online music store overstepped the boundaries set out in a 1991 settlement for how each company could use their shared brand.
The record label sought damages and asked that Apple Computer stop using its name and fruit-shaped logo for selling music online. "
At stake is not just pole position in the $25 billion video game industry, but dominance in the next generation of DVDs, the commercial viability of Sony's Cell microchips and possibly control over living-room electronics around the world.
Sony needs a hit. During the past four years, its revenues were virtually flat as its operating profit rose 3 percent.
By comparison, rival consumer electronics company Matsushita Electric Industrial, the maker of Panasonic brand products, boosted its sales by 20 percent and saw its operating profit soar more than threefold. "
Friday, May 05, 2006
The website of Blue Security, a service that sends automated opt-out requests to e-mailers identified as spammers, has been down since Tuesday, shortly after users began receiving threatening messages from a purported junk mailer.
Company officials said a spammer who goes by the name 'PharmaMaster' and is believed to be based in Russia orchestrated attacks that brought down its site and those of several firms affiliated with Blue Security.
'He basically bribed somebody at a top-tier ISP,' said Eran Reshef, Blue Security's founder and CEO. 'He was basically able to breach into the backbone of the internet.'
Reshef described the initial attack as 'the opposite of a denial of service,' in which a target site is overwhelmed with incoming packets of data. PharmaMaster, according to Reshef, made sure that traffic could not get to the site, which is 'something that the backbone can do.'"
Jeffrey Toback, a representative in New York's Nassau County Legislature, charged in a complaint filed Thursday that Google has been taking in billions of dollars by allowing child pornography and 'other obscene content' operators to advertise their sites through sponsored links, which are tailored to a user's search terms and automatically accompany search results. The suit was filed in the New York Supreme Court. "
The FTC sued the companies to stop them from selling phone records and to seize their alleged 'ill-gotten gains.'
'Trafficking in consumers' confidential telephone records is outrageous,' said Lydia Parnes, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. 'It robs consumers of their privacy and exposes them to everything from snoops to stalkers. We intend to put a stop to it.'"
The band's spokeswoman said on Wednesday the offender was being tracked down. The group's first studio album in four years, 'Stadium Arcadium,' is still on track to go on sale on Tuesday via Warner Music Group's Warner Bros. Records, she said.
In a rambling open letter, the band's bass player, Michael 'Flea' Balzary, said he and his colleagues would be heartbroken if fans downloaded the album beforehand.
'For people to just steal a poor sound quality version of it for free because some a--hole stole it and put it on the internet is sad to me,' he said."
'The DDoS traffic appears to have followed www.bluesecurity.com to its new home, overwhelming Six Apart's network and knocking its TypePad and LiveJournal services offline for nearly eight hours,' Netcraft analyst Rich Miller said in a blog posting.
In a DDoS attack, networks of compromised computers called botnets are typically used to repeatedly request information from a server or data center. Such a barrage of requests can cause servers to fail and can prevent legitimate users from accessing the site. "
Thursday, May 04, 2006
Value investors see Microsoft's latest woes as a chance to buy a cash-rich technology company boasting two dominant software franchises--the Windows operating system and Office business software--on the cheap.
'Microsoft is definitely cheap right now,' said Morningstar equity analyst Toan Tran. 'If you're a long-term, patient investor, you're buying one of the great businesses in the world at a very cheap price right now.' "
The attack started around 4 p.m. PDT, targeting the popular blogging services and the corporate Web site of their provider Six Apart, company vice president Anil Dash said in an interview Wednesday. Service was back to normal at midnight, according to Six Apart's Web site.
'Any large service tends to have a pretty constant level of attacks, but this was on a scale that I don't think anybody could have anticipated,' Dash said. 'I think it is of a scale that would have impacted any large site on the Web.'
In a distributed denial-of-service, or DDoS, attack the target is overloaded with requests for information. The requests come from a large number of hosts, typically compromised computers. As a result, legitimate users can no longer access the site. "
Google's vice president of search, Marissa Mayer, hinted to USAToday that the search engine may show off a health site next week at its annual press day.
Mayer also told the paper that Google is working on integrating video into Google News and other search results, explaining that 'if you search for how to cut up a chicken or how to change a flat tire, video is the right answer.'"
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Although talks over an equity stake do not appear active, Microsoft's top management remains open to a deal with Yahoo as pressure grows from shareholders to perform better against Google, the newspaper cited people familiar with the situation as saying.
Microsoft and Yahoo have discussed possible options over the past year, the newspaper said. Microsoft could sell its MSN online network to Yahoo and take a minority stake in the Internet portal, it said. "
Massachusetts on Tuesday called on popular teen social networking Web site MySpace.com to strengthen protection of children against sexual predators, including raising the minimum age for users to 18 from 14.
The arrest on Tuesday of a 27-year-old man in Connecticut on charges of illegal sexual contact with a 13-year-old girl he met through MySpace underlines the risks of the fast-growing Internet site that boasts about 60 million members.
"MySpace has not taken sufficient steps to ensure that the MySpace Web site is a safe place for minors," Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly said in a letter to MySpace.
He said a three-month investigation found that potential child predators were surfing MySpace seeking chats with potential victims and violent images or content were being posted to bully children.
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Lest there is any doubt, a memo by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer makes clear that the war between his company and Google is reaching new heights. And what a coincidence: One of the points of contention that is emerging between the archrivals involves allegations that Microsoft is leveraging its Web browser to shut out competition--a practice that has gotten the company in antitrust trouble for years."
Google is reaching out to the European software development community with its first Code Jam programming competition in Europe.
For the next three weeks, European programmers can register at the Code Jam Web site, to be tested later on a programming language of their choice.
The competition begins May 23 when contestants will be given a series of questions to answer in a given amount of time. Submissions will be judged by TopCoder and the best entries will move on to the next level.
By June 29, after three rounds of competition, the remaining 50 contestants will be flown to Dublin to compete for 30,000 euros ($38,000) in cash and prizes.
Monday, May 01, 2006
America Online on Monday said it is blocking malicious links tied to a recently discovered bot that uses encryption to increase the range of its targets and make eradication more difficult.
The bot software, which can only infect those who click on a malicious link sent via AIM, may infect upwards of a few tens of thousands of users, said Johannes Ullrich, chief research officer at the Sans Institute. San's Internet Storm Center released a report on the issue Sunday night.
'This is one of the few times we've seen a botnet encrypted,' Ullrich said. 'Encryption usually takes a lot of code space, but in this case it does not. It's a leaner bot.' "
Online retailer Amazon, for one, has switched search partners from Google to Microsoft. Amazon's Alexa search toolbar and A9 search engine now get results from MSN Live instead of Google.
Bloggers speculated that the move was a reaction to Google's growing encroachment on Amazon's turf. Google recently launched a program allowing publishers to sell online access to texts through its book search site."
The New York Times reports that Microsoft's (Research) new Internet browser includes a search box in the upper-right corner that is typically set up to send users to Microsoft's MSN search service. Google (Research) contends that this puts Microsoft in a position to unfairly grab Web traffic and advertising dollars from its competitors."