2/17/2010

Google Buzz bug exposes user geo location

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Already besieged by complaints of shoddy user privacy, Google Buzz is susceptible to exploits that allow an attacker to commandeer accounts and even learn where victims are located, a security researcher said Tuesday.

The XSS, or cross-site scripting, vulnerability is unusual because it affects google.com, the domain that sets authentication cookies for a variety of popular Google services, including Mail, Calendar and Documents. That means an attacker might be able to tamper with victims’ accounts simply by tricking them into visiting a booby-trapped link, although the researcher said only cookies for Buzz appeared to be at risk in this case.

What’s more, the vulnerability ties into to the much-vaunted Google Location Services, making it possible for the attacker to learn the geographical location of users who have already opted in.

Skype strikes first major mobile deal

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Internet telephony firm Skype made its first major leap into cellphones on Tuesday, striking a deal with the largest U.S. mobile carrier Verizon Wireless.

2/16/2010

Shell hit by massive data breach

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Shell has been hit by a massive data breach - the contact database for 176,000 staff and contractors at the firm has been copied and forwarded to lobbyists and activists opposed to the company.

John Donovan, an activist who received the database, said he had voluntarily destroyed the files. But he warned that other copies were available online.

The email supposedly comes from 176 “concerned staff” to highlight Shell’s activities in Nigeria. The database is about six months old and could have been released by a recently laid off staff member, or there could really be a rogue campaign group within Shell.

2/14/2010

Piratebay Founder Launches Micro Payments Service

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

One of the founders of the Pirate Bay is kicking off a venture that aims to help websites generate cash.

Called Flattr, the micropayments system revolves around members paying a fixed monthly fee.

At the end of each month that cash will be divided among participating sites a Flattr member wants to reward.

Members might want to reward a band that made a track they liked, the author of a story they enjoyed or a site that gave useful advice.

Participating sites will sport a Flattr button in the same way that many have clickable icons that let visitors send information to friends or refer something they find interesting to sites such as Digg and Redditt.

“The money you pay each month will be spread evenly among the buttons you click in a month,” said Mr Sunde.

Google tweaks Buzz social hub after privacy woes

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

As it introduced a new social hub, Google quickly learned that people’s most frequent e-mail contacts are not necessarily their best friends.

Rather, they could be business associates, or even lovers, and the groups don’t necessarily mix well. It’s one reason many people keep those worlds separate by using Facebook for friends and LinkedIn for professional contacts, or by keeping some people completely off either social circle despite frequent e-mails with them.

Google Inc. drew privacy complaints this week when it introduced Buzz and automatically created circles of friends based on users’ most frequent contacts on Gmail. Just days later, Google responded by giving users more control over what others see about them.

2/13/2010

MS update gives some XP boxes the Blue Screen

Filed under: — Aviran

Applying the latest patches from Microsoft can cause Windows XP machines to crash with the infamous blue screen of death.

Updating systems with the MS10-015 bulletin, which addresses “important” vulnerabilities in Windows Kernel, can cause machines to lock up when restarted before falling into a never-ending reboot loop. The problem is far from isolated, judging by a growing thread on the topic on an official Windows support forum though it’s fortunately not commonplace either.

Restarting affected systems in Safe Mode reportedly doesn’t seem to help. Suggested fixes for the problem involve booting from a Windows CD or DVD and starting recovery console before uninstalling the MS10-015 update. Uninstalling all 11 of Tuesday’s Windows-related updates, as initially suggested by some users, now seems to be unnecessary.

Security firm Sunbelt advises users to hold off the MS10-015 update.

OpenOffice 3.2 Released

Filed under: — Aviran

OpenOffice 3.2 is available for download.

Improvements in the latest release of the open source office suite include faster start-ups, improved compatibility with other office programs, and several new features (with special attention to the Calc spreadsheet program.)

At the same time, the OpenOffice.org team is celebrating its tenth anniversary and a claimed total 300 million downloads of the office software since its initial launch. They say that just over a year since its launch, OpenOffice 3 has logged over one third of those downloads from the central server alone.

According to the OpenOffice team, 3.2’s Calc and Writer components have reduced their start-up time by 46 per cent from version 3.0.

Version 3.2 also boasts improved compliance with Open Document Format (ODF) 1.2 standards as well as the ability to open password-protected Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files.

Windows Activation (WGA) Coming To Windows 7

Filed under: — Aviran

In the coming days, Microsoft will be deploying a new update for Windows Activation Technologies, the set of built-in activation and validation components built into Windows 7. Called Windows Activation Technologies Update for Windows 7, this update will detect more than 70 known and potentially dangerous activation exploits.

Customers will get the patch gradually, with Windows 7 Home Premium, Professional, Ultimate and Enterprise users getting the update first.

In addition MS will make Windows Activation Technologies (WAT) available for download through its Microsoft.com/genuine website on 16 February. The Microsoft Download Center will get the update a day later, it said.

Murder scene removed from Google Street View

Filed under: — Aviran

Internet giant Google has removed a Windsor murder scene from its Street View function that showed the parking lot of a strip joint with yellow police tape and a pool of blood.

“Street View on Google Maps shows what you would see if you were walking down the street yourself, so sometimes that means we capture sensitive or objectionable imagery,” Google Canada spokeswoman Tamara Micner said in a written statement. “We worked quickly to remove this image after we were notified, and we’re very sorry if it caused any distress.”

2/11/2010

Google to build high-speed Internet network

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Google Inc plans to build a super-fast Internet network for up to half a million people, a project that could pressure telecommunications companies to loosen their control of Web access in the United States.

The Internet company has locked horns with the likes of AT&T Inc and Verizon Communications Inc over the issue of net neutrality: Google wants telephone companies to permit consumers to run any Web application they want, while carriers do not want to lose control of networks they have invested billions of dollars to build.

In building the test network, Google wants to demonstrate a carrier could easily manage complex applications that use a lot of bandwidth without sacrificing performance.

Google said on Wednesday it does not plan to build a nationwide network and its goal is only to develop a trial service at a “competitive price” to 50,000 to 500,000 people, offering Web speeds of up to 100 times faster than most consumers get today.

Iran to shut down Google email service

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

The Iranian government plans to permanently suspend Google Inc’s email service in the country, the Wall Street Journal reported on its website on Wednesday.

Google said it experienced a sharp drop in email traffic in Iran, and that some users in the country were having trouble accessing Gmail, but said its networks were working properly.

The report comes as Iran braces for new opposition protests on Thursday during rallies marking the 1979 Islamic revolution. Protesters made use of modern networking tools such as Twitter and Gmail instant messaging last June after a disputed election plunged Iran into crisis.

Google is already at loggerheads with China’s government after it threatened to withdraw from the country last month over claims of online attacks and issues over censorship.

Iran’s telecommunications agency announced the suspension and said a national email service for Iranian citizens would soon be rolled out, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Sweden beats U.S. to top tech usage ranking

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Sweden took the number one spot from the United States to top the annual rankings on the usage of telecommunications technologies such as networks, cellphones and computers, a report released on Thursday shows.

The Connectivity Scorecard, created by London Business School professor Leonard Waverman in 2008, measured 50 countries on dozens of indicators, including technological skills and usage of communications technology.

“Sweden not only has the best current mix of attributes, but it also shows few signs of losing its lead,” said Waverman.

“By contrast, there is the beginning of a gap in what was once the essence of U.S. leadership in most industrial and service sectors - education and skills.”

Sweden was second in the last survey behind the United States. Norway placed third, up from fifth spot last year.

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