Friday, November 30, 2007

'Bot Roast' nets cyber criminals

The FBI's operation to combat botnets, dubbed Bot Roast, has succeeded in securing the convictions of an array of cyber criminals, it has been reported.

After commencing in 2005, Bot Roast has moved into its second phase and the FBI has so far discovered over $20 million in losses caused by botnets. It has also announced that it has secured guilty pleas from two hackers, indicted three and sentenced three more.

In addition, a teenager based in New Zealand, who is believed to be the ringleader of a sizable botnet gang, has been arrested. The teenager cannot be named, but is known by his online alias of Akill.

Allegedly Akill and his gang skimmed millions of dollars from those who use online banking. According to the FBI, up to 1.3 million computers were under Akill's direct control. If convicted, the teenager could face up to a decade in prison.

AT&T offers free music for Xmas

To mark the holiday season AT&T is offering a brand new selection of music, games and e-cards to its customers.

New holiday-themed ring tones and answer tones can be acquired by AT&T customers completely free of charge and include favorites such as Jingle Bells, Noche de Paz and the Dreidel Song. Among the answer tones that one can choose from are Rockin Around the Christmas Tree by Cyndi Lauper and Wizards in Winter by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

Mark Collins, vice president of consumer data for AT&T's wireless unit, said: "This time of year is traditionally one of the most popular for music and entertainment downloads. "AT&T is excited to offer free and festive holiday favorites for customers to enjoy throughout the season." As well as the music on offer, AT&T has also made available a new game, entitled Santa's Tower Bloxx, by Digital Chocolate.

Meanwhile AT&T's Virtual National Customer Service Center has been named as one of 2007's top ten projects.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Hold The Phone!!! Wait I take that back. YIKES!

LG Phone Battery Explosion Kills Korean

In the first such case in Korea, a 33-year-old man was found dead on Wednesday, presumably killed by a cell phone battery explosion, police said. The cell phone was the product of a LG Electronics.

The man, identified only by his family name, Sur, was found dead by his coworkers at a quarry in North Chungcheong Province where he was employed as a shovel operator, according to the police.

"When I was going up the stony hill to set dynamite, I found a man lying down beside an electronic shovel," said a coworker identified as Kwon. "He was already bleeding from the nose. He had a mobile phone with a melted battery in his left shirt pocket. His shirt had soot on it in the shape of the phone." Prof. Kim Hoon at Chungbuk National University, who examined the body, presumed the death was caused by a phone battery explosion.

"He was injured in the left side of his chest. His ribs and spine were broken. The explosion punctured his heart and lungs, leading to his death," Kim said.

Sur's family and coworkers said he had no chronic diseases.

The death marks the first time that a person has been killed by a cell phone battery explosion in South Korea. In June, Chinese media reported that a person was killed by a mobile phone explosion in China.

Google's Goal: Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal

Creates renewable energy Research and Development group and supports breakthrough technologies

Google today announced a new strategic initiative to develop electricity from renewable energy sources that will be cheaper than electricity produced from coal. The newly created initiative, known as RE C, will focus initially on advanced solar thermal power, wind power technologies, enhanced geothermal systems and other potential breakthrough technologies. RE C is hiring engineers and energy experts to lead its research and development work, which will begin with a significant effort on solar thermal technology, and will also investigate enhanced geothermal systems and other areas. In 2008, Google expects to spend tens of millions on research and development and related investments in renewable energy. As part of its capital planning process, the company also anticipates investing hundreds of millions of dollars in breakthrough renewable energy projects which generate positive returns.

"We have gained expertise in designing and building large-scale, energy-intensive facilities by building efficient data centers," said Larry Page, Google Co-founder and President of Products. "We want to apply the same creativity and innovation to the challenge of generating renewable electricity at globally significant scale, and produce it cheaper than from coal."

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Chinese youth 'addicted' to the internet

Over two-thirds of young Chinese view the internet as an "essential" part of their lives, a new survey from the ad firm JWT and the investment company IAC has found.

Approximately half of the 16 to 25-year-olds surveyed said that their online lives were more rewarding and visceral than their real ones. Young American users of the internet on the other hand were shown to have a more evenly balanced view regarding the internet, the survey discovered. A full 42 percent of the Chinese youth surveyed said they felt addicted to the internet, compared with 18 percent of the Americans surveyed. However, IAC chairman Barry Diller said that he thinks there are advantages to China's embrace of the internet.

He said: "The Chinese people seem to be way ahead of Americans in living a digital life. "More activity online means a more connected and a more evolved workforce - just what China needs as it moves from being the workshop of the world to a developed economy in its own right."

Monday, November 26, 2007

Symantec protects smartphones

Security software company Symantec has launched its new security product for mobile devices.

Dubbed Norton Smartphone Security, the product provides protection for devices which use both Windows Mobile and Symbian OS. As well as Norton Antivirus, the new product also has a firewall and antispam for text messaging. Rowan Trollope, senior vice president, Consumer Business Unit, Symantec, said: "Smartphones are expanding consumer freedom to communicate and access important information anytime, anywhere.

"However, unsecure public Wi-Fi or network connections can put users at risk. In addition, web and email viruses can directly infect smartphones, enabling hackers to remotely control the device, access sensitive information or disable applications." Mr Trollope added that Smartphone Security "runs discreetly in the background" and provides users the knowledge that they are safe to email, browse the internet or even bank online from a mobile device. Meanwhile, it has been reported that businesses in the Asia-Pacific region are to spend at least $2.8 billion on IT security a study from Access Markets International found.

Hackers target Black Friday

Experts have warned that hackers are preparing to step up their activities to target online holiday shoppers, reports PC World.

The Friday after Thanksgiving, known to retailers as Black Friday, will mark the start of a shopping free-for-all, but will also be the signal to cyber criminals to augment their efforts, Secure Computing has warned. Black Friday is followed by what has been deemed Cyber Monday, when thousands of Americans shop online for gifts from their places of work.

Paul Henry, vice president of strategic accounts at Secure Computing, told PC World: "The holiday season in general is a huge time for hackers ... [and] Black Friday is typically the start. "This year, my biggest concern for consumers is all the web-borne malware out there." He added that online consumers should be especially wary of unsolicited emails which advertise amazing shopping deals. These are often just bait, created by cyber criminals. For more information on digital products and services visit Broadband National.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

New Jersey cracks down on internet dating

New Jersey is currently pushing through legislation which will require online dating websites to tell their customers whether or not they have performed background checks on users of the site.

Furthermore, the Internet Dating Safety Act stipulates that if the site does perform background checks, it must then state whether it allows those who have failed the checks to use the site. Sponsors of the bill claim that it would ensure that the websites themselves take responsibility for the safety of dating online.

However, internet dating sites are opposed to the legislation, maintaining that background checks are not reliable enough to be trusted. Assemblyman Gordon Johnson told the Associated Press: "We are charged with protecting the safety of the public we serve and this bill is a major step, even though it's not the perfect bill."

Internet giant Yahoo! is opposed to the act.

Doubts cast on DoubleClick deal

The chairman of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been urged by two senators to subject the proposed acquisition of DoubleClick by Google to in-depth examination.

Google wants to buy the internet advertising giant DoubleClick for $3.1 billion, but the deal has been held up while the FTC examines whether it could violate antitrust laws. Now Senator Orrin Hatch, a Republican from Utah and Senator Herb Kohl, a Democrat from Wisconsin, have both called on the FTC to seriously look at whether the deal could hurt competition on the internet.

The two senators wrote: "While we have not reached any definitive conclusion regarding this issue, we urge that you only approve the merger if you determine that it will not cause any substantial lessening of competition with respect to internet advertising." Google's proposed acquisition of DoubleClick is only one episode in a recent scramble by the big internet companies to grab a piece of the lucrative internet advertising sector. For information on other digital products and services visit

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Cyber Monday kicks off spending

This holiday season is set to see a horde of online shoppers purchase their Christmas gifts over the internet and it is all to start in a week, on so-called Cyber Monday.

The Monday after Thanksgiving is the traditional start of the holiday spending scramble and many online retailers have waited until now to offer their best deals. Scott Silverman, Executive Director of, said: "As more people rely on the internet for holiday shopping, retailers have stepped up their game to compete.

"This year, promotions on Cyber Monday are extremely competitive as online retailers use an assortment of one-day specials to send shoppers online."
Currently over half of US homes have access to broadband internet and the popularity of online shopping has increased yearly of late. A poll, commissioned by and carried out by BIGresearch, found that 54.5 percent of office workers with internet access intended on shopping from work in the coming weeks.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Another cool optical illusion

Stare at the four dots in the center of this image for about 30 seconds. Try not to blink. Then lean back, look at the ceiling and close your eyes a few times, and then close them. Did you see Jesus?

Verizon presents NFL from new angle

American football aficionados who receive video and broadband services from Verizon may be interested to know that the company has introduced a new service, aimed at enhancing their viewing experience.

NFL Network Game Extra will provide virtual control room facilities, which will allow the viewer to control the camera angles they view the action from when they watch live online broadcasts on Thursdays and Saturdays. Other features provided with the new service include the ability to access game statistics and video highlights on demand, plus a chat function.

Bill Heilig, vice president of consumer broadband product development at Verizon, believes the new service will result in "the best NFL experience this year" for viewers. They will be able to "expand their already rich television viewing through a highly interactive, online experience that gives them unprecedented control over what they see and hear on the field", he claims.

Friday, November 16, 2007

NHL and MLB sites targeted by cyber criminals

The websites of the National Hockey League (NHL) and Major League Baseball (MLB) have been compromised by malicious code, it has been reported.

Visitors to the site were shown a message telling them that they had to scan their computers for viruses. However, rather than scanning for viruses, malicious software would be downloaded onto their PCs.

According to security experts, the exploitative message only occurred occasionally, making it difficult to track down and remove. Roger Thompson, the chief technology officer at Exploit Labs, told "The user never got a chance to give permission for the virus scan - it just started right away.

"Second, it wasn't really scanning, it was just pretending to scan and showing all sorts of lies about what it was finding." Last weekend saw "a huge rash" of attacks occurring through banner ads on various websites, Mr Thompson added.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Coolest Futbol (aka Soccer) Save Ever?

Click on the image above to view the video.

Wi-Fi poaching spreading

There are an increasing number of instances of Internet users piggybacking onto other people's Wi-Fi networks, a security company has warned.

A full 54 percent of internet users admit to having used someone else's connection at least once, a survey from Sophos revealed. Many of those who have a wireless network have failed to secure it through passwords and encryption, the security software company warned. By not securing one's network, one leaves oneself open to hackers who are able to steal passwords and other confidential information. Graham Cluley, a senior technology consultant at Sophos, said: "Stealing Wi-Fi internet access may feel like a victimless crime, but it deprives ISPs of revenue. "Furthermore, if you've hopped onto your next door neighbors' wireless broadband connection to illegally download movies and music from the net, chances are that you are also slowing down their internet access."

By poaching one's neighbor's Internet connection, one may also be adversely affecting their download limit, added Mr Cluley.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Europeans favor internet over TV

Young Europeans are likely to spend more time on the internet during the week than in front of the television, according to a new survey from the European Interactive Advertising Association.

The survey showed that approximately 60 per cent of Europeans can now access the internet. And now there are 12 percent more over-55s using the internet and eight percent more women, the research discovered. Alison Fennah, the executive director of the EIAA, told the Associated Press: "Our Mediascope study shows consumers are using the internet for function and fun as their media world becomes truly digital." A full 82 percent of young people in Europe report getting on the internet at least five days per week and overall 42 percent of users log on to a social networking site at least once per month.

The survey also found that the vast majority - 80 percent - of Europeans use broadband to connect to the internet.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Internet 'a weapon'

The newly-appointed UN counter-terrorism chief has warned that the internet is effectively being used as a weapon by terrorists, reports Reuters.

Mike Smith said that terrorists around the world can use the internet as a place to organize and communicate. For this reason the internet must be much more closely monitored by the UN and individual nations' security outfits, he added.

Mr Smith told the news service: "The internet is a real worry and I don't think we've found the answer yet. "In the old days extremists used to have to cross borders to plan and attack sites. Nowadays a lot of that stuff can happen on the internet, they can give instructions, they can coordinate, they can recruit through these jihadi websites."

An international campaign against using the internet for militant purposes must be initiated by the UN, Mr Smith added. Meanwhile, the list of terrorism suspects that the UN and the EU keeps includes the names of people who are entirely innocent, the Council of Europe's legal committee has said.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Mandelson pressures US on internet gambling

The European Union trade commissioner, Peter Mandelson, has traveled to Washington to address congress on the intensifying debate over online gambling.

Washington should pay compensation to Europe for blocking the lucrative US gambling market to European online casinos, Mr Mandelson said. Earlier this year the World Trade Organisation (WTO) ruled in Antigua's favor when it accused the US of violating trade rules by not allowing Antiguan online casinos to operate in the US. Mr Mandelson was quoted by Reuters as stating: "What we need to see is a change in U.S. legislation that removes that discrimination against EU operators.

"It's not in the interest of American consumers to have good responsible competitors in this market excluded by regulatory mechanisms." If a member of the WTO "defaults" on its commitments then it should pay compensation, Mr Mandelson added. Gambling operators in the EU are demanding compensation of up to $100 billion.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Russian hacking site disappears

The notorious Russian web hosting service Russian Business Network (RBN) has disappeared from the internet after it became the focus of intense media scrutiny.

RBN provided internet services to organized crime and cyber criminals, it has been reported. The company was called a "hub" of internet crime, including child pornography, identity theft, phishing scams and spam mail. The St Petersburg-based company always denied the allegations, however it has now abandoned most of its internet addresses.

A network architect at Trend Micro, Paul Ferguson, told PC World: "The routing information for their IP addresses has been withdrawn. "That's significant because while RBN has had connectivity issues in the past, then the routing [to its IP addresses] was still being advertised. This time, they've been voluntarily withdrawn."

Many have theorized that the outfit is merely relocating, with some hypothesizing that they are setting up in China, Taiwan or Turkey.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Yahoo! chiefs blasted by congress

The House of Representatives foreign affairs committee has severely criticised Yahoo! for giving the Chinese government information which led to the arrest of journalist Shi Tao.

Furthermore, Yahoo! then went on to lie to congress about its actions during the affair, the committee said. Yahoo! chief executive Jerry Yang and general counsel Michael Callahan were both berated by the chairman of the committee, California Democrat Representative Tom Lantos.

He criticised Yahoo! for not making more efforts to aid the family of Shi Tao, who has been sentenced to ten years in prison for forwarding information about China's ban on reporting the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown. Rep Lantos said: "Why is it such a complicated issue to help a family whose breadwinner is in prison because of Yahoo's cooperation?

"While technologically and financially you are giants, morally you are pygmies." The two executives were then made to apologise to Shi Tao's mother, who was present at the hearing.

Microsoft unveils Windows Live

On Tuesday Microsoft made its Windows Live Suite available for download off the Internet for the first time.

The product consists of a group of internet applications which includes photo sharing, instant messenger, a family web-browsing application, email and so forth. Windows Live also has a range of built-in security features, according to Microsoft, that will protect users surfing the internet.

Sumeet Khanna, director of Windows Live, MSN Canada, said: "With these enhancements to Windows Live, we're integrating cool, new experiences with digital photos, event planning and sharing and web publishing with our popular services like Hotmail, Windows Live Messenger, and Windows Live Spaces." Now users will be able to bundle their online networks together and have a single user name and password, Mr Khanna added.

Microsoft's overall goal is to make its Windows Live product so advanced that users can perform all their desired internet-related tasks through it.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Warning issued on wildfire donation scam

There is a new scam on the Internet where victims are sent emails purporting to be from the IRS asking for donations for victims of California's wildfires.

A warning has been issued by the IRS that the phishing scam is attempting to make victims hand over their personal and financial details. The IRS stated that it never sends unsolicited emails asking for financial information. Those that receive the fake email should forward it on to the IRS' website immediately the agency urged.

Richard Spires, IRS deputy commissioner for operations support, said: "People should exercise caution when they receive unsolicited e-mail or email from senders they don't know." Approximately 1,800 square kilometers were laid to waste and 14 people were killed by the extensive wildfires in California during the last few weeks.

The fires, which destroyed thousands of homes, were exacerbated by California's worst drought in 130 years.

Yahoo! makes apology

An apology has been issued by a Yahoo! executive on the company's failure to inform US authorities about China's request for information on an internet user.

The information resulted in the imprisonment of the Chinese journalist Shi Tao, who has been sentenced to a decade behind bars. Executive vice president of the company, Michael Callahan, admitted to a House Foreign Relations panel last year that Yahoo! gave information to the Chinese government. Later, after learning why the request was made and the nature of the information in question, Mr Callahan did not tell US lawmakers.

He said: "I neglected to directly alert the committee of this new information, and that oversight led to a misunderstanding that I deeply regret and have apologized to the committee for creating." Next week Mr Callahan and Jerry Yang, Yahoo!'s chief executive are to appear before the House committee to answer more questions over the affair.

Friday, November 2, 2007

MySpace and Google join forces

Internet search engine giant Google has teamed up with the popular social networking site MySpace, it has been announced.

MySpace will now be able to access Google applications, Google announced at a party it threw for software developers on Thursday night in Mountain View. Discussions about Google's OpenSocial platform began between the two companies over a year ago.

The move is seen as a strategy to try and combat the growing influence of Facebook, the second-largest social networking site in the world after MySpace. Google chief executive Eric Schmidt is quoted in USA Today as saying: "This is really the next step in the evolution of the web.

"We're ultimately in the business of people being happy online, and this helps do that." Microsoft recently paid $250 million for a 1.6 percent stake in Facebook, which values the social networking site at $15 billion.

Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg in his dorm room at Harvard.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

New Trojan attacks OS X

There is a new Trojan being disseminated around the internet which attacks Apple's OS X system, according to the security company Intego.

Dubbed OSX.RSPlug.A, the Trojan comes disguised with a link to a website with pornographic videos on it. Once the link is followed, the user is told that Quicktime needs to download additional software in order to play the videos. The Trojan will then be installed.

Intego was unable to report on how far the Trojan has been spread so far. This is the first piece of malware to specificially target OS X. Bojan Zdrnja, an analyst at the Internet Storm Center, told Computerworld: "The whole Trojan is relatively simple and works almost exactly the same as its brother for Windows.

"The bad guys are taking Mac seriously now. This is a professional attempt at attacking Mac systems and they could have been much more damaging."