11/29/2009

EU to grant USA nearly unlimited access to all EU banking data

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

The EU justice and home affairs minister are about to agree on a large-scale banking data sharing plan with the United States. The agreement will have a massive impact on the privacy of banking data of European businesses and citizens.

It’s everything about SWIFT, a company that handles the bank transactions for thousands of bank, inluding most European banks. SWIFT is based in Belgium but has also a branch in the USA. Under the TFTP programme the US government forced the US branch (which mirrors all data based in Belgium) to allow government access to all these bank transactions in order to help anti-terrorism operations.

Office of Fair Trading drags Apple’s Ts & Cs into line

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Apple has agreed to alter its terms and conditions at the behest of the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).

The company has redrafted its Ts & Cs so that it now accepts liability for faulty or misdescribed goods sold from its website or the iTunes store.

The company has also agreed to make its terms consistent with the Distance Selling Regulations which, among other things, give consumers a seven-day “cooling-off” period in which to return any purchases for a full refund.

Apple must also ensure that its conditions are “drafted in plain or intelligible language” and that they “do not potentially allow changes to be made to products and prices after an agreement is made”.

11/26/2009

New standard lets browsers get a grip on files

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

The World Wide Web Consortium has published a draft of an interface that browsers can use to manipulate files better, one of a series of steps aimed at gradually improving the sophistication and polish of Web site interfaces.

The draft File API (application programming interface) defines a number of ways that browsers and Web sites can handle files better. One big part of it: being able to select multiple files for upload, such as on photo-sharing sites or Web-based e-mail, a task that often relies on Adobe Systems’ Flash today.

But there are other aspects, too. For example, the Files interface governs the use of “blobs,” or packages of raw binary data such as video files. Google has touted blobs for its Gears browser plug-in as a way to divide large videos into small chunks so that uploads can be more easily resumed if a network problem interrupts the process.

Another benefit: files are handled asynchronously, which means the browser won’t freeze up while a file is being uploaded or otherwise handled, and the browser reports progress on file transfers.

Firefox 3.6, in beta testing now, will support most of the Files API, according to Blizzard.

Google documents Iraqi museum treasures

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Google is documenting Iraq’s national museum and will post photographs of its ancient treasures on the Internet early next year, Google chief Eric Schmidt announced Tuesday.

The museum was ransacked in the chaotic aftermath of Saddam Hussein’s ouster in April 2003, and only reopened to visitors early this year. Schmidt, who toured the museum with U.S. Ambassador Christopher Hill on Tuesday, said it was important for the world to see Iraq’s rich heritage and contribution to world culture.

“The history of the beginning of - literally - civilization is made right here and is preserved here in this museum,” Schmidt said at a ceremony attended by Iraqi officials.

“I can think of no better use of our time and our resources than to make the images and ideas from your civilization, from the very beginnings of time, available to billions of people worldwide,” he said.

Schmidt said Google has taken some 14,000 photographs of the museum and its artifacts, and the images will be available online in early 2010.

11/24/2009

Microsoft warns of IE exploit code in the wild

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Microsoft on Monday said it is investigating a possible vulnerability in Internet Explorer after exploit code that allegedly can be used to take control of computers, if they visit a Web site hosting the code, was posted to a security mailing list.

Microsoft confirmed that the exploit code affects IE 6 and IE 7, but not IE 8, and it said it is “currently unaware of any attacks trying to use the claimed vulnerability or of customer impact,” according to a statement.

11/23/2009

Patent Issued For Podcasting

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

The EFF is reaching out for help after a company called Volomedia got the Patent Office to grant them exclusive rights to ‘a method for providing episodic media’ that could threaten the community of podcasters and millions of podcast listeners.

‘It’s a ridiculously broad patent, covering something that many folks have been doing for many years,’ writes Rebecca Jeschke. ‘Worse, it could create a whole new layer of ongoing costs for podcasters and their listeners.’ To bust this patent, EFF is looking for additional ‘prior art’ — evidence that the podcasting methods described in the patent were already in use (PDF) before November 19, 2003. ‘In particular, we’re looking for written descriptions of methods that allow a user to download pre-programmed episodic media like audio files or video files from a remote publisher, with the download occurring after the user subscribes to the episodes, and with the user continuing to automatically receive new episodes

First Malicious iPhone Worm In the Wild

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

After the ikee worm that displayed a picture of Rick Astley on jailbroken iPhones, the first malicious iPhone worm has now been discovered in the wild.

Internet provider XS4ALL in the Netherlands encountered several of such devices on the wireless networks of their customers and put out a warning. After obtaining a copy of the malware it was discovered that the jailbroken phones, which are exploited through openSSH with a default password, scan IP ranges of mobile internet providers for other vulnerable iPhones, phone home to a C&C botnet server, are able to update themselves with additional malware and have the ability to dump the SMS database as well.

Owners of a jailbroken iPhone with a default root password are advised to flash to the latest Apple firmware in order to ensure no malware is present.”

YouTube Will Soon Block Access From Set-Top Devices

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

It won’t affect your PS3, Wii, TiVo, or other licensed YouTube partners, but Google’s streaming video service will start blocking API access to TV-connected devices as of Dec. 2. The COO of set-top box maker Popcorn Hour writes that the firm tried to negotiate with YouTube to retain the service, but YouTube/Google seems to be standing firm—just as the site starts to transition to 1080p video.

AOL offers buyouts to over a third of work force

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

The struggling Internet company AOL plans to shed up to 2,500 jobs - more than a third of its work force - as it prepares to separate from Time Warner and finally sever their ill-fated marriage.

Major job cuts had been expected and seemed certain after Time Warner said last week that AOL would take $200 million in charges for severance and other restructuring-related costs. But the magnitude was not known until Thursday.

AOL, which has already pared thousands of workers in recent years and now employs about 6,900, is asking for volunteers to accept buyouts. If it falls short of the 2,500 target, it plans layoffs to reach a payroll cut of up to 2,300 positions, a third of its current total.

200 Web sites spread al-Qaida’s message in English

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Increasing numbers of English-language Web sites are spreading al-Qaida’s message to Muslims in the West. They translate writings and sermons once largely out of reach of English readers and often feature charismatic clerics like Anwar al-Awlaki, who exchanged dozens of e-mails with the Army psychiatrist accused of the Fort Hood shootings.

The U.S.-born al-Awlaki has been an inspiration to several militants arrested in the United States and Canada in recent years, with his Web-based sermons often turning up on their computers.

“The point is you don’t have to be an official part of al-Qaida to spread hatred and sectarian views,” said Evan Kohlmann, a senior investigator for the New York-based NEFA Foundation, which researches Islamic militants.

“If you look at the most influential documents in terms of homegrown terrorism cases, it’s not training manuals on building bombs,” Kohlmann said. “The most influential documents are the ones that are written by theological advisers, some of whom are not even official al-Qaida members.”

Most of the radical Islamic sites are not run or directed by al-Qaida, but they provide a powerful tool for recruiting sympathizers to its cause of jihad, or holy war, against the United States, experts who track the activity said.

The number of English-language sites sympathetic to al-Qaida has risen from about 30 seven years ago to more than 200 recently, said Abdulmanam Almushawah, head of a Saudi government program called Assakeena, which works to combat militant Islamic Web sites.

11/20/2009

UK’s Terrifying Anti-Piracy Plans Leak

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Tomorrow morning Lord Mandelson will present the Digital Economy Bill to the public, which among other things is aimed at reducing illicit file-sharing. According to parts of the bill that leaked today, the legislation could lead to jail terms for file-sharers and unprecedented power for the entertainment industries.

Google PC will start in seven seconds or less

Filed under: — Aviran

New Google Inc software will start up a computer as fast as a television can be turned on, the search company said on Thursday as it showed off its Chrome operating system designed for PCs that do their work on the Web.

Google gave the first public look at its Chrome OS four months after declaring its intention of developing the PC’s main software, a move that pits it directly against Microsoft Corp and Apple Inc.

True to Google’s Internet-pedigree, the Chrome OS resembles a Web browser more than it does a traditional computer operating system like Microsoft Windows, matching Google’s ambition to drive people to the Web — where they can see Google ads.

Google said the software will initially be available by the holiday season of 2010 on low-cost netbooks that meet Google’s hardware specifications, such as using only memory chips to store data instead of slower hard drives, the current standard.

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