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Advertising

How Malvertising Abuses Real-Time Bidding On Ad Networks 30

Posted by samzenpus
from the rotten-apples dept.
msm1267 writes Dark corners of the Internet harbor trouble. They're supposed to. But what about when Yahoo, CNN.com, TMZ and other busy destination sites heave disaster upon visitors? That's the challenge posed by malvertising, the latest hacker Golden Goose used in cybercrime operations and even in some targeted attacks. Hackers are thriving in this arena because they have found an unwittingly complicit partner in the sundry ad networks to move malicious ads through legitimate processes. Adding gasoline to the raging fire is the abuse of real-time ad bidding, a revolution in the way online ads are sold. RTB enables better ad targeting for advertisers and less unsold inventory for publishers. Hackers can also hitch a ride with RTB and target malicious ads on any site they wish, much the way a legitimate advertiser would use the same system.
Twitter

SeaWorld and Others Discover That a Hashtag Can Become a Bashtag 106

Posted by samzenpus
from the getting-hit-with-your-own-stick dept.
HughPickens.com writes Alison Griswold writes that in an effort to improve its tanking image, SeaWorld launched a new advertising campaign this week to educate the public about its "leadership in the care of killer whales" and other work to protect whales in captivity and in the wild. As part of that head-on initiative, someone at SeaWorld decided to invite Twitter users to pose their questions to the company directly using the hashtag #AskSeaWorld. That was not a good idea as twitter users bashed Sea World relentlessly.. "As easy as it is to make fun of SeaWorld here, the real question is why any company still thinks hosting an open Twitter forum could be good for public relations," writes Griswold. "So maybe SeaWorld's social and PR folks just really have no idea what they're doing. Even so, you'd think they'd have learned from the corporate failures before them."

Let's review some of the times this has backfired, starting with the infamous McDonald's #McDStories Twitter campaign of January 2012. Rather than prompting customers to share their heart-warming McDonald's anecdotes, the hashtag gave critics a highly visible forum to share their top McDonald's horror stories. MacDonalds pulled the campaign within two hours but they discovered that crowd-sourced campaigns are hard to control. Three years later the #McDStories hashtag is still gathering comments. "Twitter Q&As are a terrible idea.," concludes Griswold. "A well-meaning hashtag gives critics an easy way to assemble and voice their complaints in a public forum. Why companies still try them is a great mystery. Maybe they'll all finally learn from SeaWorld and give this one horrible PR trick up for good."
Businesses

Taxi Companies Sue Uber For False Advertising On Safety 82

Posted by samzenpus
from the safer-than-you-are dept.
jfruh writes "A group of California taxi operators are suing Uber, claiming the ridehailing service is guilty of false advertising when it comes to rider safety. The taxi companies claim that Uber doesn't use a Live Scan fingerprint ID for drivers like they do, and that the $1 "safe rides" fee on every fare doesn't specifically go towards boosting safety. From the article: "The suit comes in the wake of problems Uber is facing in some countries. On Wednesday, the Frankfurt Regional Court issued a nationwide ban against the company’s UberPop service after declaring its business model illegal. Using a smartphone app to connect passengers with private drivers that use their own cars and don’t have the required licenses is illegal, the court observed."
Software

uTorrent Quietly Installs Cryptocurrency Miner 275

Posted by Soulskill
from the your-cpu-is-our-cpu dept.
New submitter Eloking sends news that uTorrent, a popular BitTorrent client, is silently installing cryptocurrency mining software for many users. [uTorrent] brings in revenue through in-app advertising and also presents users with “offers” to try out third-party software when installed or updated. These offers are usually not placed on users’ machines without consent, but this week many users began complaining about a “rogue” offer being silently installed. The complaints mention the Epic Scale tool, a piece of software that generates revenue through cryptocurrency mining. To do so, it uses the host computer’s CPU cycles. ... The sudden increase in complaints over the past two days suggests that something went wrong with the install and update process. Several users specifically say that they were vigilant, but instead of a popup asking for permission the Epic Scale offer was added silently.
Advertising

That U2 Apple Stunt Wasn't the Disaster You Might Think It Was 201

Posted by samzenpus
from the there's-no-such-thing-as-bad-publicity dept.
journovampire writes with this interesting bit about the fallout of U2's partnership with Apple. "Remember U2's album giveway with Apple at the end of last summer? And how the world seemed to become very annoyed that its contents had been "pushed" to their devices without permission? Well, the naysayers might have been loud – but that hasn't stopped the stunt having a lasting effect on the band's popularity. That’s according to new research from retail insight experts Kantar in the US, which shows that nearly a quarter (24%) of all US music users on iOS devices in January listened to U2, nearly five months after Songs Of Innocence was released for free onto 500m iPhones across the world. In a survey of iOS users, Kantar found that more than twice the percentage of people listened to U2 in January than listened to the second-placed artist, Taylor Swift (11%)."
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 161

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!