Hacking and Cyber attacking

Hacking and Cyber attacking

As you know by now, a few social networking sites (Twitter and Facebook) suffered temporary shut downs during the course of last week due to cyber attacks. Users worldwide experienced the attacks as they came in a number of waves.

I googled and found that Co-founder of Twitter, Biz Stone, had posted an update on Twitter’s blog. Apparently, Twitter has had a few cyber attacks and they are still ongoing by .

Yet Twitter is in denial… Though Stone refuses to speculate on the motivation behind them, he does note that they appear to be “geopolitical” in their nature.

Not only did Twitter’s main service go down, these attacks forced it to shut down many of its API services which crippled many of the services built on top of Twitter’s platform.

It is also said that similar attacks also targeted Facebook, LiveJournal, Blogger and YouTube…This is much like a terrorism attack but on cyber space. But this could have enormous implications for the future.

Cyber terrorism

What exactly led to Twitter’s shutdown on Thursday is still being debated in security circles and across the Web. However, security experts say that coordinated cyber attacks were aimed at silencing a Georgian blogger critical of Russian actions against his country.

Facebook’s chief security officer Max Kelly said the simultaneous attacks were aimed at a user known as “Cyxymu” who had accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LiveJournal and other affected sites.

They said the attackers first sent out a wave of spam which appeared to have come from “Cyxymu,” a technique intended to discredit a user by making him appear to be the source of large amounts of junk email.

Then, the hackers launched a distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) attack designed to overwhelm a website’s servers with communications requests.

The last major cyber attack, driven by MyDoom, was Windows malware from 2004. … If you think that governments don’t use the Internet to knock out their enemies, clearly you haven’t been paying attention. Russians already successfully attacked Estonia’s Internet infrastructure in 2007.

Warning

The key point here is that obviously that the attacks intensified almost tenfold from what we were experiencing last week.

Social media sites, are susceptible to spear phishing, in which hackers send targeted messages masquerading as notices from legitimate organizations or people.

This makes cyber security is a major priority. Get tips on how to avoid being cyber attacked.

I think, if there aren’t any by now, there should be some anti-cyber attack law. This can reduce such dilemmas, before there’s a serious case on our heads like the previous Iran or China case.

If social networking sites are hacked who’ll be able to inform us if any news breaks? Most news organisations and users worldwide are depending on them.

This causes a great deal of questions and media houses and organisations ned to create strategies on how to combat such attacks and be completely ready for such events.

But I’m a bit thankful that Twitter and other social networking sites have experienced this and can now prepare for the future. Futureye signing out.

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Google

Google

Apparently, within the next two weeks Google is planning to release a new version of Google Chrome that will include the ability to sync bookmarks between different computers.

“The synchronisation will be managed through a Google account”, said software engineer on the Chrome team, Tim Steele in a mailing list posting on Friday.

Sync or synchronisation is an act of causing software to operate simultaneously. So Google wants to synchronise Chrome with bookmarking software, much like our favourite bookmarking site del.icio.us.com

Google sees this venture as far more than just updating a list of links. In fact, it’ll be using the Google Talk (gtalk) infrastructure to handle the service.

Synchronizing will help one instance of Chrome to behave more like another, for example being able to retrieve more easily the address of a website that a user already visited on another computer

However Peter Kasting, another Chrome programmer, would’ve liked Chrome to have “history/visited link/omnibox syncing than bookmarks,” he said in a posting. Now if they do sync passwords and browser history, it’ll be quite a risk.

chrome_logo

Privacy?

Now I have not used Google Chrome yet (so this not making a promo for it because they’re not paying me) but the issues of privacy are quite pertinent.

There are millions of users that are already storing information via search history on Google’s servers. With Chrome’s synchronization feature, however, you would also store a complete record of all of your comings and going on other parts of the Internet on Google’s servers.

Not so long again I discovered that there are search engines, like Dutch based search engine ixquick, that do not store data.

I’m sure you’re thinking this is not new. Indeed it isn’t, in fact there are companies that do the same as Google Chrome, such as the likes of Xmarks, Bookmarksync, Netvous etc. However, what is important to think about is how this will affect us in future and what is means for future innovations.

Core message

This week’s post on Chrome raises some interesting pointers. In a networked personal and business computing environment, users want to be able to enjoy a similar experience regardless of the computer or device being used.

Google Chrome browser is Google’s first step in the direction of creating an interface not just for the web and computing.

The idea is that if more users will access their data directly from the Internet as opposed to a computer?s hard drive, then Google will provide both the interface (Chrome) and Operating System (Chrome OS) that will run on many devices.

In doing so, Google is going head to head with Microsoft and Apple ? not just in the browser market but the OS market too.

The beauty of Google Chrome

It is a unique system that provides real-time automatic bookmark synchronization between all your different browsers, computers, and operating systems.

Add a bookmark to Internet Explorer at work, and it will automatically be sent to your Firefox browser at home and your Safari browser on your Mac!

Moreover I read that it supports Unicode, so it works for bookmarks in all languages and it encrypts your bookmarks so you can securely access them anywhere in the world on any PC or via your PDA, mobile devices, RSS feeds, and publish your favorites using JavaScript.

This can change the way we deal with computers and our work. Personally, I think it could be very useful to students since we move around doing research papers, essays etc.

But then one could ask who needs another hyper-responsive utility just for synchronizing bookmarks or browser history lists when we’ve go delicious.com?

Is Google Chrome pushing a hidden agenda? What I do know is that I’ll be watching Google like a hawk and see when it officially becomes of their plans. Futureye signing out.

Post updated and corrected 30 September 2009

bliptvBreaking new media news this week, Blip.tv has unveiled innovative partnerships that will possibly shake the new media scene.

For the past year Blip.tv has been quite silent because they have been developing a massive integration deal with hosting platforms such as YouTube, Vimeo and many other sites.

The integrations will be for syndication, advertising and perhaps much more. News is that this deal will offer producers to syndicate videos directly to sites.

This is a financial breakthrough for Blip.tv, seeing that we’re in a recession. They can now also sell ads on the videos. The way they do it is that they embed ads into the shows and split the revenue with revenue share. Now this maybe a possible business model for both video and advertising companies.

BlipTVs Mike Hudack

BlipTVs Mike Hudack

Blip.tv’s CEO Mike Hudack said at the press conference that Blip.tv was designed “to make independent Web shows sustainable”.

It will run its own hosting platform and simultaneously let members upload to many other platforms. This allows for optional advertising programmes that split 50-50 with show creators revenue earned.

There are more speculations that Blip.tv will also be integrating with Roku quite soon. Roku, is a device that converts web videos to television sets. This connects directly to live streaming which audiences from all over can see. If they ever want to embed the coding, they can do so and it can go directly to their blog.

But where does this leave YouTube?

youtubeIt’s been well-documented that our dear friend YouTube has had a serious profit problem…Therefore they have been trying to get all sorts of tricks in order to generate revenue, they’ve experimented with brand sponsorship, user-generated homepage ads and brand placement advertising but alas, it was in vain.

However, their attempt of announcing a beta trial test with FreeWheel, a company that specializes in online video advertising, has saved them.

This venture will give them, from a content generator perspective, the freedom to choose the ideal ad format and platform – making monetization easier.

Will it truly save our dear friend YouTube? I think their partnership with Blip.tv is not a bad deal, their website has so much more than YouTube.

Blip.tv gets more points than YouTube

Not only is Blip.tv a thousand times cooler, it beats YouTube by far with these small adjusts which news organisations can use effectively to market their multimedia products. I gathered the top five points which I like about Blip.tv.

* Youtube lets you upload videos only in standard formats like the Windows AVI, MOV or the MPEG format. Blip.tv practically supports all video formats including the popular Flash Video (flv) format.

*Youtube imposes a 10 minute or 100 MB restriction on files sizes but blip.tv has no such limitation.

*Blip.tv, allows you to download videos. They also allow you download videos in the original format with the same quality – just right click the video link and choose save as.

*Blip.tv provides detailed stats about your videos including how visitors found your video, what format they preferred and where did they watch it.

*Finally videos uploaded on Youtube are automatically compressed and resized to the 320×240 format. Blip.tv maintains the original quality of the video and they do not resize the video clips. They encourage content owners to upload different formats of the same video suitable for downloading, watching on the internet or on cellphones.

Blip.tv definitely scores more points because it generates automatic feed enclosures for you RSS feeds. And wait, there is one more fact, one can upload videos to blip.tv via FTP.

Go, give it a shot. I dare you. This is just a testament of what is in store in the new media scene.

Corrections

Updated 3rd August 2009:

After writing this post I realised that I missed the point completely. In fact, Youtube’s teaming with Freewheel has far more significant implications in terms of future strategies for monetisation and targeting of online video
advertising.

The truth is Blip.tv is not competition to Youtube, nor would I think it aspires to be. Like other online video channels (Hulu, Justin.tv, Brightcove, Vimeo) each attempts to provide its own unique service – generally as free or paid for video host with add-ons.

Youtube is the ‘mass’ platform. Blip.tv is a quasi-professional platform for producers who want to produce their serialised content or online shows. Youtube  also has a section for independent producer shows (and now also movies and commercially produced series). But this is only one of the things Youtube does.

I made  judgement calls about services which I have never personally used. For this I apologies profusely and apologies for getting my facts wrong.

Don’t you hate it when you watching a very interesting tv show and an ad comes up? Ignoring adverts is no longer an option,  it’s about to get a lot tougher with the development of billboards and advertising posters that use Bluetooth to beam video ads directly to passing cellphones.

bluecasting

As people walk in malls go past the billiards/posters they will receive a message on their phone asking them if they wish to accept an MMS advert. If they do, they can  either receive movies, animations, music or still images further promoting the advertised product. This is called bluecasting or blue magic.

Nokia has taken bluecasting to another level, they have created posters fitted with Bluetooth technology that allows people to download maps of the local areas that have highlighted cool shops, bars, galleries and restaurants. They partnered with Superfuture, an internet-based urban city guide, where users can download maps highlighting interesting places worth exploring in that area.

annoyed consumer

Blue Magic opportunity

In India there are some temples which offer ringtones, wallpapers of gods and some other content using bluecasting. They have capitalised on bluecasting for religious purposes.

Imagine if other South African media houses or  advertising organisations, have looked at this model of advertising or spreading information for their industries.

This could open such great opportunities for customised advertising. For instance if one is in a certain place and Bluecasting can customised ads according to the place you’re in.

Customised advertising via Bluecasting can target those in a particular place and advertise restaurants, bookshops, movie houses, school plays etc.

Blue Magic Dangers

The danger with bluecasting is that downloads can be corrupted and exploited to inherent vulnerabilities in particular hardware, causing it to crash.

Another danger is how companies  can persuade users to accept the adverts once the novelty has worn off? This may be quite possible as people get over trends quite quickly. However, I think this can be avoided via good marketing strategies.

Content needs to exclusive or valuable to consumers, content also needs to actively persuade consumers to consume it, for example get vouchers for certain shops.

Other software companies, such as ScanBuy in New York and Semacode in Ontario, have been experimenting with making posters interactive by having 3D bar codes printed on them. Their software allows a phone camera to scan the code and launch the phone’s browser at a particular e-commerce site – to buy concert tickets, for example.

Magic taking over television

Whatever content is downloaded onto the cellphone it can be bluetoothed to television sets where the image, video etc can seen on a large screen. This creates interactive TV (also referred to iTV) where information flows not only from broadcaster to viewer, but also back from viewer to broadcaster.

Lets now turn our sights to a similar wave of communication…widgets. This will soon take off, in fact Yahoo and Intel are ramping up their TV platform to enable access to weather, stocks and news information on the TV.

This proliferation of widgets could come at a cost, however this (along with bluecasting) if they merge can dramatically change how viewers live and take in advertising.

For example imagine if  TV widgets and devices/programs such as  Bluecaseting merged? Well you can probably get  interactive television that can allow:

  • T-commerce: You will be able to buy a pizza without dialling a phone.
  • Interactive Goodies: You will be able to pause live TV or record shows. You will be able to click on advertisements to “find out more”.
  • Families will be ordering gifts through their TV sets, choosing camera angles while watching their favourite sporting events and sending email to friends.

telegent_chat This is where the next generation of human beings is going to, inside this cycle of persuasion, observation, refinement, and new persuasion.

It may be pleasant for some and it can possibly be hellish too as such merges or advertising can be intrusive. But if you get annoyed, just switch off your bluetooth.

As for advertising companies new media tools ( such as bluecasting) can bring in a great deal of revenue.

Futureye signing out.

Post last updated and corrected on 12th August 2009.

According to UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), 26 percent of the world’s population is illiterate and 98 percent of these people live in developing countries. Africa as a continent that has a literacy rate of less than 60 percent.

MXit as of a week ago launched Africa’s first MBook in order to help with the decreasing illiteracy and to encourage literacy and a passion of reading amongst the youth internationally.

mxit image

MXit’s (pronounced “mix it”) first MBook is Emily and the Battle of the Veil, a fantasy novel based on a 13-year old South African girl, written by Karen Brooks.

The novel can be downloaded for ZAR13.50, which is far more reasonable than buying traditional books and can be read at the user’s own time and convenience on the mobile phone.

In 2004 Mxit started off as a free instant messaging software application developed in South Africa (SA), that runs on GPRS/3G mobile phones and on PCs. It allows the user to send and receive smses or multimedia messages to and from other users, as well as chat rooms.

mxit-iphone

MXit opens doors

I believe this initiative (of introducing the Mbook) is breaking the status quo of the traditional publishing industry, as well as giving young readers and aspiring writers an opportunity to read new literature or showcase their work in a digital format. Furthermore MBook is environmentally friend, no trees are being cut down.

The launch of MXit’s MBook follows the launch of an online South African maths initiative called Imfundo Yami Imfundo Yethu (My education is our education). This joint effort by Nokia South Africa, MXit, a Finnish company and SA’s Department of Education is piloting a new education project that delivers mathematics tutorials to Grade 10 learners via MXit. They will receive 15 questions on the MXit channel and tackle problems to find mathematical solutions. MXit will be like an affordable and instant tutor.

mxit userSteve Vosloo, a Communication and Analytical Skills Fellow at the Shuttleworth Foundation in his thought leader blog posted that he believes that “this time- and space-shifting effect means that learners, and higher education students, can have classroom-like experiences when it suits them, not just during school hours when one educator is shared with 30 or 40 other learners. For many young people in South Africa, this might be the only opportunity they have to access qualified educators”.

This just shows that social networks can educate and bring people together. Mxit along with it’s initiatives will draw the young and perhaps old into reading again. Will this open other social networking and media doors. I trully hope so because many are migrating to mobile media and such initiatives can benefit communities. I also think media houses can learn a thing or two from Mxit and start developing mobile media strategies that will engage with both the young and old.

Students in SA can access Maths on MXit via MXit on 079 992 3960. Futureye signing out.

Post last updated and corrected on 19th October 2009.

Kindle DX has arrived, well it’s been in the market since 2007 but not everyone knows about it, especially South Africans.Kindle2b

I don’t do not yet own the Kindle however, Amazon.com states that this device is a slim e-book reader, thin as most magazines, includes a program which integrates newspaper content or books instantly, is lighter than paperbacks, and is portable like newspapers. It has a big display screen which displays digital newspapers, documents and textbooks.

From researching about this device it seems like is a groundbreaking step in increasing the popularity of eBooks.

It apparently boasts an electronic-paper display to mimic the look of real paper, wireless connectivity, more than 88,000 books, newspapers and magazines available for purchase, and the capability to email Word documents and pictures.

Kindle is  said to be environmentally friendly. It uses no paper and there is no need for recycling. You can just download content wirelessly anytime, anywhere, no distribution costs involved.

There’s a huge potential for the Kindle to be used in schools, replacing textbooks and library books, but at about R5000 per unit perhaps it should be more multi-functional. Perhaps an additional calculator, internet searching, texting, phone? This could be a good textbook opportunity for the academic market.

Future of print

imagesThe bonus of this device is that has a text-to-speech feature, Kindle can read every newspaper, magazine, blog, and book out loud to you. Amy Gahran from Poynter Online says that the text-to-speech function does a “surprisingly decent job of reading news content aloud”.

This device is good for people who have a preference for audio news because as people cook, or do the garden or even exercising can listen to the texts. (yet one may ask, how is different from ipod then?)

This nifty device can take text-to-speech service or tool can interact with text-based news and information content. But I wonder if it’ll work for foreign languages like South African languages such as Zulu, Xhosa and Sepedi (Northern Sotho), however I do think creators of text-based news content should start to take that into consideration. If Kindle can do all these things, how much is it? In the State its approximately $400 and apparently South Africans will pay R4 995 for it.

Blessing in disguise

The idea of the Kindle is a potential blessing for the print news industry.  However, US newspaper guru Alan Mutter says that the found absolution for what  he calls news media’s “original sin” is the fact that such a device will be giving content away.

Mutter further says that “at a time when newspapers are suffering from falling readerships and a depressed ad market, Kindle readers are signing up to pay for newspapers and magazines to be sent wirelessly to their e-book readers”.

Newspapers and magazine publishers are watching developments closely. As they face the biggest crisis in their history, they are hoping Amazon may have come up with a solution to getting people to pay for news again. But will this make people read more downloaded newspaper content than print publications?

The bigger question is will Kindle can help with the decline of newspaper’s circulations, crumbling ad revenue and declining readership?

decline of print circulation

Well, I don’t think this device will save the newspaper industry but it may win some new readers. And hopefully give some sort of solution or idea for the print industry. Amy Gahran does give some solutions on how news organisations can capitalise and benefit from this smart device.

Futureye signing out.

Post last updated and corrected 19th August 2009

little-pig1

I found it impossible to escape the news about Swine flu, now called H1N1 influenza A as I pondered what to blog, it’s on everyone’s minds, lips, tweets,  and status updates…

According to World Health Organisation (WHO) as of 06:00 GMT, 5 May 2009, 21 countries have officially reported 1124 cases of influenza A (H1N1) infection. Mexico has reported 25 deaths and United States has reported one death. How does this link to the blog? Well, the H1N1 flu virus is too being rapidly spread through the social networking and media wires.

Yet this is not the first time the internet has been the one-stop shop for news scoops. Twitter has emerged as a source for major breaking news stories. Like the earthquake that devastated the Sichuan region of China, tweets from the disaster zone gave the rest of the world its first glimpse of the scope of the devastation. Again we saw how social network sites took the forefront when  there were media events that were driven by the web 2.0 e.g Mumbai terror attacks, plane crash in Hudson river etc.

Over the plethora of social networking websites, people from all sorts of backgrounds are blogging, twittering, facebooking and myspacing about the flu virus. Twitter has once again gained media attention as a source of fervent ‘swine’ flu discussion, it’s become the top trending topic on Twitter, with users rapidly tweeting about the latest (Twitter even topped out at a rate of more than 10,000 tweets per hour earlier during the course of last week).

Yes granted many ‘swine’ flu updates were making crude jokes, like SA’s own advertising upcoming guru Khaya Dlanga’s tweet updates, “Swine flu my ass, I’ll bring my mighty vengeance & furious anger upon these pigs. Had bacon for breakfast. For lunch, something with pig” or “If I hear one more thing about Swine flu I’ll go eat a pig”.

This proves that social networking sites can be as misleading, however a significant portion of the discussions about the flu seemed to centre around a legitimate desire to connect with others and talk about real issues. This created a some what tight knit community that wanted to speak about what is happening in the world.

New media vs old media

Google Trends reports that “Swine Flu Ohio” is the 27th most popular search keyword currently, with searches for “Swine Flu Symptoms” also making the top 100 keyword searches on Google.

google-trends

Google Maps have also been created to chart the spread of the Swine Flu. Below is a Google Map created by a bio medical engineer, this charts suspect and confirmed cases of the Swine Flu in the U.S. and Mexico.

h1n1-swine-flu-google-maps

Technorati has graphed the number of times the term was used in blog posts and it shows that the mention of Swine Flu rose sharply from Friday to nearly 2800 blog post demonstrates.

This for me, shows the power of the internet but most importantly the power of social networking and media sites. People from every corner of the globe are conversing about something that doesn’t affect them directly however it now part of their community discussions. These new media tools have gone beyond reporting on a particular story to what people want to say about particular issues. Now it is and it is creating some independence and democracy with audiences.

Granted only a few people have internet access to the but  the minority engage instanteously with the rest of the world. And in this case new media tools helped to support and deliver public health messages quickly and broadly and how to track such viruses.

Old media in trouble?

However, I think  the role of new media may overshadow traditional journalism and it can cause a form of tension in newsrooms because now journalists are trusting social network sites for scoops in the land of social media.

New media tools have become the new hybrid form of journalism, they are quick and everywhere on the web unlike traditional forms of journalism.

So is the traditional notion and value of hard core journalism being apprehended?

I think not, social netowrking and media sites can be complementary to old media. They just need to verify facts. Journalism and new media tools need each other to inform and educate the world. In the future when more outbreaks such as swine flu occur social media can help out traditional journalism. Futureye signing out.

Related link:

http://www.stuff.co.nz/opinion/2385466/Swine-flu-story-a-media-beat-up

Blog last updated and corrected on the  27th May 2009