2/26/2008

Spammers crack Gmail Captcha

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Spammers, fresh from the success of cracking the Windows Live captcha used by Hotmail, have broken the equivalent system at Gmail.

Internet security firm Websense reports that miscreants have created bots which are capable of signing up and creating random Gmail accounts for spamming purposes, defeating Captcha-based defences in the process. It reckons the same group of spammers are behind both attacks.

Captcha (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart) challenge-response systems, which are used to prevent accounts being created until a user correctly identifies letters in an image, are designed to ensure requests are made by a human rather than an automated program. The technique has been used to defeat automatic sign-ups to email accounts by services including Yahoo! Mail and Gmail for years, and hackers are increasingly successful in defeating the approach. For example, the HotLan Trojan has created more than 500,000 spam email accounts with Hotmail, Yahoo! and Gmail since its arrival back in July 2007.

Websense reckons the latest Gmail Captcha hack is the most sophisticated it has seen to date. Unlike Live Mail Captcha breaking, which involved just one zombie host doing the entire job, the Gmail breaking process involves two compromised hosts. Each of the two compromised hosts applies a slightly different technique to analysing Captcha, as explained in a posting by Websense.

Yahoo users to create Buzz with favorite content

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Yahoo Inc said Tuesday it will launch a service called Yahoo Buzz which will use consumers’ voting to uncover the most popular content from sites across the Internet and bring them to Yahoo’s homepage, one of the Web’s most trafficked destinations.

The service, currently in trial, measures consumer votes and search patterns to identify interesting and timely stories and videos from large news sources as well as niche blogs. It said the top stories will be given primary editorial consideration for feature placement on Yahoo.com.

Yahoo said it was an example of the Internet company’s move to open up the site to more third-party publishers and make it more social and relevant to its users.

Adobe AIR puts companies on desktops

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

EBay Inc.’s customers don’t need to open a Web browser to search the site or auction an item anymore.

After a quick download, the online auctioneer’s users can click the company’s logo on their desktop and launch an application that will allow them to do their business directly - no browser required.

EBay is one of several companies, including Nasdaq Stock Market Inc., Time Warner Inc.’s AOL, Nickelodeon and Salesforce.com Inc., that have created downloadable, desktop versions of their Web sites using software developed by Adobe Systems Inc.

Adobe is launching the application, called AIR, on Monday. Adobe says AIR will allow any company with a Web site to inhabit a permanent spot on people’s desktops.

It also reduces the wait time for downloading images and data, because the desktop is constantly updated while the computer is online.

Adobe says AIR runs on any operating system. It’s a more powerful version of widgets, the customizable little Web pullouts often provided by third parties like Google Inc.

Pakistan Causes Worldwide YouTube Outage

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Most of the world’s Internet users lost access to YouTube for several hours Sunday after an attempt by Pakistan’s government to block access domestically affected other countries.

The outage highlighted yet another of the Internet’s vulnerabilities, coming less than a month after broken fiber-optic cables in the Mediterranean took Egypt off line and caused communications problems from the Middle East to India.

An Internet expert said Sunday’s problems came after a Pakistani telecommunications company complied with the block by directing requests for YouTube videos to a “black hole.” So instead of serving up videos of skateboarding dogs, it sent the traffic into oblivion.

The problem was that the company also accidentally identified itself to Internet computers as the world’s fastest route to YouTube, leading requests from across the Internet to the black hole.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority had ordered 70 Internet service providers on Friday to block access to YouTube.com because of anti-Islamic movies on the video-sharing site, which is owned by Google Inc.

The authority did not specify what the offensive material was, but a PTA official said the ban concerned a trailer for an upcoming film by Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders, who has said he plans to release a movie portraying Islam as fascist and prone to inciting violence against women and homosexuals.

The block was intended to cover only Pakistan, but it extended to about two-thirds of the global Internet population, starting at 1:47 p.m. EST Sunday, according to Renesys Corp., a Manchester, N.H., company that keeps track of the pathways of the Internet for telecommunications companies and other clients.

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