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Security

Advertising Tool PrivDog Compromises HTTPS Security 95

Posted by Soulskill
from the time-to-wipe-grandma's-laptop dept.
itwbennett writes: New cases of insecure HTTPS traffic interception are coming to light as researchers probe software programs for implementations that could enable malicious attacks. The latest software to open a man-in-the-middle hole on users' PCs is a new version of PrivDog, an advertising product with ties to security vendor Comodo. PrivDog is marketed as a solution to protect users against malicious advertising without completely blocking ads. The program is designed to replace potentially bad ads with safer ones that are reviewed by a compliance team from a company called Adtrustmedia. However, according to people who recently looked at PrivDog's HTTPS interception functionality, consumers might actually lose when it comes to their system's security if they use the product.
The Courts

Nvidia Faces Suit Over GTX970 Performance Claims 158

Posted by timothy
from the lot-of-work-for-a-few-pixels dept.
According to this story at PC World, Nvidia was hit with a class action lawsuit Thursday that claims it misled customers about the capabilities of the GTX 970, which was released in September. Nvidia markets the chip as having 4GB of performance-boosting video RAM, but some users have complained the chip falters after using 3.5GB of that allocation. The lawsuit says the remaining half gigabyte runs 80 percent slower than it's supposed to. That can cause images to stutter on a high resolution screen and some games to perform poorly, the suit says. It was filed in the U.S. District Court for Northern California and names as defendants Nvidia and Giga-Byte Technology, which sells the GTX 970 in graphics cards. Nvidia declined to comment on the lawsuit Friday and Giga-Byte couldn't immediately be reached.
Security

Jamie Oliver's Website Serving Malware 125

Posted by samzenpus
from the worse-than-nuggets dept.
jones_supa writes While routinely checking the latest exploited websites, Malwarebytes came across a strange infection pattern that seemed to start from the official site of British chef Jamie Oliver. Contrary to most web-borne exploits we see lately, this one was not the result of malicious advertising but rather carefully placed malicious JavaScript injection in the site itself. This, in turn, has been used to serve visitors a delicious meal consisting an exploit kit downloading the Dorkbot trojan. Malwarebytes has contacted the administrators immediately upon discovery of this infection.
AT&T

AT&T To Match Google Fiber In Kansas City, Charge More If You Want Privacy 227

Posted by Soulskill
from the K.C.-and-the-sunshine-bandwidth dept.
An anonymous reader writes: When Google Fiber started bringing gigabit internet to cities around the U.S., we wondered how the incumbent ISPs would respond. Now we know: AT&T has announced they will match Google Fiber's gigabit offerings in Kansas City. Of course, there are some caveats. First, AT&T's rollout may stop as it fights the Obama administration over net neutrality. Not that it would be a nationwide rollout anyway: "AT&T does not plan to offer the ultra-fast Internet lines to every home in the market. Rather, he said the company would calculate where demand is strongest and the investment in stringing new cables promised a decent return."

There are also some interesting pricing concerns. The company plans to charge $70/month for gigabit service, but that's a subsidized price. Subsidized by what, you ask? Your privacy. AT&T says if you want to opt out of letting them track your browsing history, you'll have to pay $29 more per month. They say your information is used to serve targeted advertising, and includes any links you follow and search terms you enter.
Government

How Big Telecom Tried To Kill Net Neutrality Before It Was Even a Concept 62

Posted by samzenpus
from the snuffing-it-out dept.
An anonymous reader writes This opinion piece at Ars looks at the telecommunications industry's ability to shape policy and its power over lawmakers. "...as the Baby Bells rolled out their DSL service, they saw the cable industry's more relaxed regulations and total lack of competition and wanted the same treatment from the government. They launched a massive lobbying effort to push the Clinton and Bush administrations, the Federal Communication Commission, and Congress to eliminate the network sharing requirement that had spawned the CLEC market and to deregulate DSL services more broadly. Between 1999 and 2002 the four companies spent a combined $95.6 million on lobbying the federal government, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, which would rank them above such trade group lobbying behemoths as the Chamber of Commerce and the American Medical Association in total lobbying expenditures for the years. The companies also spent millions to lobby the public directly through aggressive advertising and public relations campaigns."
Google

Peak Google: The Company's Time At the Top May Be Nearing Its End 271

Posted by samzenpus
from the it-aint-what-is-used-to-be dept.
HughPickens.com writes Farhad Manjoo writes at the NYT that at first glance Google looks plenty healthy, but growth in Google's primary business, search advertising, has flattened out at about 20 percent a year for the last few years. Although Google has spent considerable resources inventing technologies for the future, it has failed to turn many of its innovations into new moneymakers. According to Manjoo, as smartphones eclipse laptop and desktop computers to become the planet's most important computing devices, the digital ad business is rapidly changing and Facebook, Google's archrival for advertising dollars, has been quick to profit from the shift. Here's why: The advertising business is split, roughly, into two. On one side are direct-response ads meant to induce an immediate purchase: Think classifieds, the Yellow Pages, catalogs or Google's own text-based ads running alongside its search results. But the bulk of the ad industry is devoted to something called brand ads, the ads you see on television and print magazines that work on your emotions in the belief that, in time, your dollars will follow. "Google doesn't create immersive experiences that you get lost in," says Ben Thompson. "Google creates transactional services. You go to Google to search, or for maps, or with something else in mind. And those are the types of ads they have. But brand advertising isn't about that kind of destination. It's about an experience." According to Thompson the future of online advertising looks increasingly like the business of television and is likely to be dominated by services like Facebook, Snapchat or Pinterest that keep people engaged for long periods of time and whose ads are proving to be massively more effective and engaging than banner advertisements.

In less than five years, Facebook has also built an enviable ad-technology infrastructure, a huge sales team that aims to persuade marketers of the benefits of Facebook ads over TV ads, and new ways for brands to measure how well their ads are doing. These efforts have paid off quickly: In 2014 Facebook sold $11.5 billion in ads, up 65 percent over 2013. Google will still make a lot of money if it doesn't dominate online ads the way it does now. But it will need to find other businesses to keep growing. This is why Google is spending on projects like a self-driving car, Google Glass, fiber-optic lines in American cities, space exploration, and other audacious innovations that have a slim chance of succeeding but might revolutionize the world if they do. But the far-out projects remind Thompson of Microsoft, which has also invested heavily in research and development, and has seen little return on its investments. "To me the Microsoft comparison can't be more clear. This is the price of being so successful — what you're seeing is that when a company becomes dominant, its dominance precludes it from dominating the next thing. It's almost like a natural law of business."
Open Source

Elementary OS: Why We Make You Type "$0" 208

Posted by samzenpus
from the drop-a-dollar-in-the-bucket dept.
jones_supa writes Open source software can always be acquired without charge, but can still incur significant development costs. Elementary OS wants to make people aware of this, and have changed their website to suggest donating when downloading, and make users explicitly enter "$0" if they want a free download. This is the same strategy Canonical has used when offering Ubuntu. The Elementary OS blog explains: "Developing software has a huge cost. Some companies offset that cost by charging hundreds of dollars for their software, making manufacturers pay them to license the software, or selling expensive hardware with the OS included. Others offset it by mining user data and charging companies to target ads to their users. [...] If we want to see the world of open source software grow, we should encourage users to pay for its development; otherwise it'll be underfunded or developers will have to resort to backdoor deals and advertising. And nobody wants that future." Currently the only people who have received money for working on Elementary OS have been community members through their bounty program.
Google

The Prickly Partnership Between Uber and Google 77

Posted by samzenpus
from the can't-we-all-just-get-along? dept.
HughPickens.com writes Google, with billions of dollars in the bank and house-by-house maps of most of the planet, seemed like the perfect partner for Uber, the hugely popular ride-hailing service. But Mike Isaac writes in the NYT that just two years after Google's venture capital arm poured more than $250 million into Uber there are signs that the companies are more likely to be ferocious competitors than allies. Uber recently announced plans to develop self-driving cars, a longtime pet project at Google. Travis Kalanick, Uber's CEO, has publicly discussed what he sees as the inevitability of autonomous taxis, saying they could offer cheaper rides and a true alternative to vehicle ownership. "The Uber experience is expensive because it's not just the car but the other dude in the car," Kalanick said at a technology conference in 2014, referring to the expense of paying human drivers. "When there's no other dude in the car, the cost [of taking an Uber] gets cheaper than owning a vehicle." Uber is also adding engineers who are experts on mapping technology. And the company, based in San Francisco, has been in talks with Google's advertising archrival, Facebook, to find ways to work together.

Not to be outdone, Google has been experimenting with a ride-sharing app similar to Uber's and both companies have long toyed with the idea of offering same-day delivery of items like groceries and other staples. Last month Google announced it would start presenting data from third party applications inside Google Now, a service that displays useful information prominently on the screen of Android smartphones. Google said it had struck deals to draw data from such apps as Pandora, AirBnb, Zillow, and the ride-sharing service Lyft. The company most obviously missing from that list? Google's old and possibly former friend, Uber. According to Isaac, for young companies, even one as well funded as Uber, dancing with giants is a part of doing business — even if there is always a risk of getting squashed. "There are some hard lessons about the dangers of cooperation that are strongly in the memories of these companies," says John Morgan. "Something that makes partnering harder, even when it might make economic sense to do so."
Verizon

Fixing Verizon's Supercookie 111

Posted by Soulskill
from the c-is-for-cookie,-cookie-is-for-whoever-verizon-says dept.
New submitter ferro lad sends a story about Verizon's so-called supercookie, a unique identifier they add to web traffic going across their network to help advertisers target their ads better. A new article at Slate demonstrates how Verizon could fix the identifier so that ad companies would have a harder time misusing it — something they've already been shown to do. "...with just a tiny amount of effort, Verizon could maintain its current business while substantially preventing the misuse of its UID headers." Of course, for privacy-conscious users, the ability to get rid of them altogether would be preferable. Fortunately, Verizon now says users will soon have the ability to opt out of the identifiers. Previously, users could opt out of having their data shared with advertisers, but the unique identifier itself remained with their web traffic. It's not a complete solution — the tracking should be opt-in to begin with — but it's a step in the right direction.
Businesses

Alibaba Face Off With Chinese Regulator Over Fake Products 79

Posted by samzenpus
from the clean-up-your-act dept.
hackingbear writes China's State Administration of Industry and Commerce on Wednesday issued a scathing report against one of the country's biggest stars, accusing e-commerce giant Alibaba of failing to do enough to prevent fake goods from being sold on its websites. SAIC said Alibaba allowed "illegal advertising" that misled consumers with false claims about low prices and other details. It claims some Alibaba employees took bribes and the company failed to deal effectively with fraud. Alibaba fired back with charges of bias and misconduct by accusing the SAIC official in charge of Internet monitoring, Liu Hongliang, of unspecified "procedural misconduct" and warned it will file a formal complaint. Such public defiance is almost unheard of in China. Apparently, Alibaba has long attained the too big to fail status.
Advertising

Healthcare.gov Sends Personal Data To Over a Dozen Tracking Websites 204

Posted by Soulskill
from the a-bit-too-standard dept.
An anonymous reader tips an Associated Press report saying that Healthcare.gov is sending users' personal data to private companies. The information involved is typical ad-related analytic data: "...it can include age, income, ZIP code, whether a person smokes, and if a person is pregnant. It can include a computer's Internet address, which can identify a person's name or address when combined with other information collected by sophisticated online marketing or advertising firms." The Electronic Frontier Foundation confirmed the report, saying that data is being sent from Healthcare.gov to at least 14 third-party domains.

The EFF says, "Sending such personal information raises significant privacy concerns. A company like Doubleclick, for example, could match up the personal data provided by healthcare.gov with an already extensive trove of information about what you read online and what your buying preferences are to create an extremely detailed profile of exactly who you are and what your interests are. It could do all this based on a tracking cookie that it sets which would be the same across any site you visit. Based on this data, Doubleclick could start showing you smoking ads or infer your risk of cancer based on where you live, how old you are and your status as a smoker. Doubleclick might start to show you ads related to pregnancy, which could have embarrassing and potentially dangerous consequences such as when Target notified a woman's family that she was pregnant before she even told them. "
Programming

Interviews: Alexander Stepanov and Daniel E. Rose Answer Your Questions 42

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
samzenpus (5) writes "Alexander Stepanov is an award winning programmer who designed the C++ Standard Template Library. Daniel E. Rose is a programmer, research scientist, and is the Chief Scientist for Search at A9.com. In addition to working together, the duo have recently written a new book titled, From Mathematics to Generic Programming. Earlier this month you had a chance to ask the pair about their book, their work, or programming in general. Below you'll find the answers to those questions."
Spam

Google Finally Quashes Month-Old Malvertising Campaign 56

Posted by samzenpus
from the better-late-than-never dept.
jfruh writes Since the middle of December, visitors to sites that run Google AdSense ads have intermittently found themselves redirected to other sites featuring spammy offerings for anti-aging and brain-enhancing products. While webmasters who have managed to figure out which advertisers are responsible could quash the attacks on their AdSense consoles, only now has Google itself managed to track down the villains and ban them from the service.
Verizon

Ad Company Using Verizon Tracking Header To Recreate Deleted Cookies 70

Posted by timothy
from the oh-that-bothers-you? dept.
itwbennett writes The story began a few months ago when it was reported that both Verizon and AT&T were injecting unique identifiers in the Web requests of their mobile customers. AT&T has since stopped using the system, but Verizon continues. Now, Stanford computer scientist Jonathan Mayer has found that one advertising company called Turn, which tracks users across the Web when they visit major sites including Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, BlueKai, AppNexus, Walmart and WebMD, uses the Verizon UIDH to respawn its own tracking cookies.
Advertising

Would Twitter Make President Obama 'Follow' the Tea Party If the Price Is Right? 121

Posted by timothy
from the but-it's-the-native-alaskan-men's-blimp-launchers-association dept.
theodp (442580) writes Giving others the impression that individuals support something that they actually don't could get you fined and placed under house arrest. But if you're Twitter, it could boost your bottom line. Gigaom's Carmel DeAmicis reports that brands pay Twitter to falsely appear in your following list, an advertising technique brought to light by William Shatner after he saw that 'MasterCard' appeared in his following list despite the fact that he didn't follow it. "By making it look like someone follows an account that they don't," writes DeAmicis, "it sends a false signal that said user cares about that brand. Although the brands are marked as 'promoted,' it's not necessarily clear that the user in question doesn't actually follow the brand. There's ethical considerations to be had. Hypothetical examples: What if you're vegan and don't want people to think you're following Burger King? Or you're the CEO of Visa and don't want people thinking you're following MasterCard? Or you're a pro-life activist and don't want people thinking you're following Planned Parenthood?" Or, if you're @BarackObama and don't want people to think you're following @TPPatriots!
Bitcoin

Bitcoin Gets Its First TV Ads 127

Posted by samzenpus
from the as-seen-on-TV dept.
MRothenberg writes Bitcoin's not just for libertarians and drug dealers any more! Electronic payment service BitPay this week launched a campaign aimed at making Bitcoin transactions more appealing to mainstream business owners — the first time Bitcoin has been featured in a TV spot. Conceived by Felton Interactive Group, the two new ads promote Bitcoin and BitPay as a secure alternative to traditional credit-card transactions.
Advertising

Lizard Squad: Xbox Live, PSN Attacks Were a 'Marketing Scheme' For DDoS Service 139

Posted by timothy
from the now-how-much-would-you-pay? dept.
blottsie writes The devastating Christmas Day attacks against the gaming networks of Sony and Microsoft were a marketing scheme for a commercial cyberattack service, according to the hackers claiming responsibility for the attacks. Known as Lizard Squad, the hacker collective says it shut down the PlayStation Network (PSN) and Xbox Live network on Dec. 25 using a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, a common technique that overloads servers with data requests. The powerful attacks rendered the networks unusable for days, infuriating gamers around the world and causing yet-untold losses of revenue. Now, members of Lizard Squad say the group is selling the DDoS service they used against Sony and Microsoft to anyone willing to pay.
Facebook

Facebook Apologizes For 'Year In Review' Photos 218

Posted by timothy
from the how-was-the-parade-otherwise? dept.
Facebook this year showed users a compilation of photos drawn from their own gallery of uploaded images, but the automatic nature of the collation and display of those photos inspired the need for an apology on Facebook's part to at least one reader who was upset by the compiled pictures. That may sound silly, but even innocent data-mashing can touch real nerves. "Eric Meyer, a web design consultant and writer, is one of those people. Earlier this year, he lost his daughter to brain cancer on her sixth birthday. For that reason, Meyer wrote in a blog post, he had actively avoided looking at previews of his own automatically generated summary post. But Facebook put a personalized prompt advertising the feature in his newsfeed, he wrote, prominently featuring the face of his dead daughter -- surrounded by what appears to be clip art figures having a party."
Google

Google Motion Denied In Lawsuit Against Mississippi Attorney General 23

Posted by samzenpus
from the take-a-deep-breath dept.
An anonymous reader points out that a judge has called a time-out on a case between Google and Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood. "A federal judge has denied Google's motion to block enforcement of a subpoena issued by Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood that seeks information from Google about parts of its operations, including information about advertising for imported prescription drugs. Federal court records also show U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate put Google's response to the subpoena on hold until after the new year. Wingate scheduled a Feb. 13 hearing for further discussions on Google's motion. He asked attorneys for both sides to file new briefs in January."
Social Networks

How Your In-Store Shopping Affects the Ads You See On Facebook 69

Posted by timothy
from the one-country-one-nation-one-singular-sensation dept.
itwbennett writes Facebook has made several acquisitions over the years to help advertisers target their ads and extend their reach. Custom Audiences is one such targeting tool, allowing retailers to match shoppers in their stores with their accounts on Facebook. It's often done through an email address, phone number or name. Facebook won't give hard numbers, but there seems to be a lot of matching going on. For decades, marketers have been trying to understand more about what's happening at the point of sale, 'so their systems are really robust at capturing a strikingly large amount of transactions,' says Brian Boland, Facebook's VP of advertising technology.