Tag Archives: technology

11 Million Users Abandon Facebook


Users vacate Facebook over serious privacy concerns

By Julie Wilson
Infowars.com
September 17, 2013

A new report by the Daily Mail reveals Facebook users are abandoning the social media giant at an unprecedented rate over privacy concerns.

Computer keyboard

New research shows Facebook has lost a total of eleven million users, nine million in the US and two million in Britain. Researchers at the University of Vienna analyzed 600 users and found they quit for the following reasons:

Privacy concerns – 48.3 percent
General dissatisfaction – 13.5 percent
Shallow conversations – 12.6 percent
Fear of becoming addicted – 6 percent

Studies show the majority of users that quit the site were older males.

Facebook, among other tech giants, have been repeatedly under scrutiny for their lack of user privacy, including turning over thousands of user’s info to the government. In August, Infowars revealed Facebook submitted information on approximately 38,000 users in 74 countries during the first half of 2013.

Over half of the requests originated from inside of the United States. Tech giants are unable to reveal absolute numbers on how many requests they’ve submitted to because the government prohibits them from doing so. However, companies like Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Yahoo have formed a unique alliance and are fighting back.

The tech alliance is putting pressure on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) court by filing motions asking to publicly disclose more details about secret national intelligence requests, instead of  just releasing approximations.

“We believe there is more information that the public deserves to know, and that would help foster an informed debate about whether government security programs adequately balance privacy interests when attempting to keep the public safe,” said Facebook’s general counsel Colin Stretch.

“Editor of the journal Cyberpsychology, Behaviour and Social Networking which published the findings, said: ‘Given high profile stories such as WikiLeaks and the recent NSA surveillance reports, individual citizens are becoming increasingly more wary of cyber-related privacy concerns,’” reported Mail Online.

Facebook has also been under close examination for their recently updated “Statement of Rights and Responsibilities” policy which states users’ profile data including their profile picture, name and personal information “could show up as part of a Facebook ad their friends may see on the site,” according to a report by Mashable.

Even more controversy surrounded the social media giant when they announced the update of the “Tag Suggest” feature, which would allow facial recognition technology “to speed up the process of ‘tagging’ friends and acquaintances who appear in photos posed on the network,” reported Reuters.

As you can see, users’ concerns over privacy, or lack thereof, are certainly substantiated. However, if your information isn’t being collected through Facebook, NSA’s spy program, PRISM, is sure to scoop up your info in some other way, most likely through email or cellular data.

Re-posted from Infowars.com

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Firm Is Accused of Sending Spam, and Fight Jams Internet


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By  and 

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Cyber attack

A squabble between a group fighting spam and a Dutch company that hosts Web sites said to be sending spam has escalated into one of the largest computer attacks on the Internet, causing widespread congestion and jamming crucial infrastructure around the world.

A squabble between a group fighting spam and a Dutch company that hosts Web sites said to be sending spam has escalated into one of the largest computer attacks on the Internet, causing widespread congestion and jamming crucial infrastructure around the world.

However, for the Internet engineers who run the global network the problem is more worrisome. The attacks are becoming increasingly powerful, and computer security experts worry that if they continue to escalate people may not be able to reach basic Internet services, like e-mail and online banking.

The dispute started when the spam-fighting group, called Spamhaus, added the Dutch company Cyberbunker to its blacklist, which is used by e-mail providers to weed out spam. Cyberbunker, named for its headquarters, a five-story former NATO bunker, offers hosting services to any Web site “except child porn and anything related to terrorism,” according to its Web site.

A spokesman for Spamhaus, which is based in Europe, said the attacks began on March 19, but had not stopped the group from distributing its blacklist.

Patrick Gilmore, chief architect at Akamai Technologies, a digital content provider, said Spamhaus’s role was to generate a list of Internet spammers.

Of Cyberbunker, he added: “These guys are just mad. To be frank, they got caught. They think they should be allowed to spam.”

Mr. Gilmore said that the attacks, which are generated by swarms of computers called botnets, concentrate data streams that are larger than the Internet connections of entire countries. He likened the technique, which uses a long-known flaw in the Internet’s basic plumbing, to using a machine gun to spray an entire crowd when the intent is to kill one person.

The attacks were first mentioned publicly last week by CloudFlare, an Internet security firm in Silicon Valley that was trying to defend against the attacks and as a result became a target.

“These things are essentially like nuclear bombs,” said Matthew Prince, chief executive of CloudFlare. “It’s so easy to cause so much damage.”

The so-called distributed denial of service, or DDoS, attacks have reached previously unknown magnitudes, growing to a data stream of 300 billion bits per second.

“It is a real number,” Mr. Gilmore said. “It is the largest publicly announced DDoS attack in the history of the Internet.”

Spamhaus, one of the most prominent groups tracking spammers on the Internet, uses volunteers to identify spammers and has been described as an online vigilante group.

In the past, blacklisted sites have retaliated against Spamhaus with denial-of-service attacks, in which they flood Spamhaus with traffic requests from personal computers until its servers become unreachable. But in recent weeks, the attackers hit back with a far more powerful strike that exploited the Internet’s core infrastructure, called the Domain Name System, or DNS.

That system functions like a telephone switchboard for the Internet. It translates the names of Web sites like Facebook.com or Google.com into a string of numbers that the Internet’s underlying technology can understand. Millions of computer servers around the world perform the actual translation.

In the latest incident, attackers sent messages, masquerading as ones coming from Spamhaus, to those machines, which were then amplified drastically by the servers, causing torrents of data to be aimed back at the Spamhaus computers.

When Spamhaus requested aid from CloudFlare, the attackers began to focus their digital ire on the companies that provide data connections for both Spamhaus and CloudFlare.

Questioned about the attacks, Sven Olaf Kamphuis, an Internet activist who said he was a spokesman for the attackers, said in an online message that, “We are aware that this is one of the largest DDoS attacks the world had publicly seen.” Mr. Kamphuis said Cyberbunker was retaliating against Spamhaus for “abusing their influence.”

“Nobody ever deputized Spamhaus to determine what goes and does not go on the Internet,” Mr. Kamphuis said. “They worked themselves into that position by pretending to fight spam.”

A typical denial-of-service attack tends to affect only a small number of networks. But in the case of a Domain Name System flood attack, data packets are aimed at the victim from servers all over the world. Such attacks cannot easily be stopped, experts say, because those servers cannot be shut off without halting the Internet.

“The No. 1 rule of the Internet is that it has to work,” said Dan Kaminsky, a security researcher who years ago pointed out the inherent vulnerabilities of the Domain Name System. “You can’t stop a DNS flood by shutting down those servers because those machines have to be open and public by default. The only way to deal with this problem is to find the people doing it and arrest them.”

The heart of the problem, according to several Internet engineers, is that many large Internet service providers have not set up their networks to make sure that traffic leaving their networks is actually coming from their own users. The potential security flaw has long been known by Internet security specialists, but it has only recently been exploited in a way that threatens the Internet infrastructure.

An engineer at one of the largest Internet communications firms said the attacks in recent days have been as many as five times larger than what was seen recently in attacks against major American banks. He said the attacks were not large enough to saturate the company’s largest routers, but they had overwhelmed important equipment.

Cyberbunker brags on its Web site that it has been a frequent target of law enforcement because of its “many controversial customers.” The company claims that at one point it fended off a Dutch SWAT team.

“Dutch authorities and the police have made several attempts to enter the bunker by force,” the site said. “None of these attempts were successful.”

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Re-posted from The New York Times

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Day Before Yesterday NASA Released Video: “Why the World Didn’t End Yesterday”


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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NASA is so sure the world won’t come to an end on December 21, 2012, that they already released day before yesterday a “Didn’t We Say So!” video titled “ScienceCasts: Why the World Didn’t End Yesterday” on December 11th, itself.

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Indian Economy: National Bundh to Protest Against Increase in Fuel Prices


Today, September 20, 2012,  the opposition political parties in India have called for a National Bundh to protest against the increase in fuel prices. Almost all shops, restaurants and other commercial establishments are shut. With this backdrop, I found this cartoon quite interesting!

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3-D holographic video conferencing is real? Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi!


Reproduced from Los Angeles Times, May 4, 2012, 12:14 p.m.

TeleHumanAn image of the TeleHuman prototype, which uses Kinects and a 3-D projector to allow for 3D video conferencing. (Courtesy of the Human Media Lab at Queen’s University / May 4, 2012)
By Deborah Netburn May 4, 2012, 12:14 p.m.

Skype and video iChat are great, but traditional video conferencing tools are so two-dimensional. Just imagine if you could talk to a friend or colleague in holographic 3-D.

Well, you may soon be able to. Researchers at Queen’s University have created a life-sized, 3-D video conferencing pod that allows users to see the person they are talking to in 360-degree holographic-like clarity.

They call it the TeleHuman.

But before images of Princess Leia telling Obi-Wan Kenobi that he is her only hope start dancing in your head, know that the 3-D holographic image only works if you have what looks like a giant cylindrical floor lamp made of acrylic that can display the life-sized 3-D holographic image in your home or office.

It’s clunky, and it’s expensive, but it’s still cool.

This innovation in video conferencing comes to you courtesy of Roel Vertegaal, director of the Human Media Lab at Queen’s Universtiy in Canada.

Although holographic video conferencing sounds very futuristic, Vertegaal and his team say they were able to put it together with existing technology.

“We basically stitched together a bunch of Kinect,” said Vertegaal in an interview with The Times, “but it was relatively complicated to get them all to work together.”

In a video about the project, the researchers explain that the pod has six Microsoft Kinect sensors at the top of the display that capture 3-D images as a person walks around the pod, and a 3-D projector in the cylindrical base of the pod creates the holographic effect.

The TeleHuman will only pick up your image if you are standing within roughly eight feet of the acrylic cylinder. Part of that is because of privacy concerns, said Vertegaal, and part of it is because that’s the farthest distance that the Kinects can pick up the image.

The researchers have programmed the Kinects to erase all the background imagery so when you show up in the other person’s pod, all they will see is your 3-D image.

Unlike traditional video conferencing, there is no “calling” or “answering” involved. In order to show up in someone else’s TeleHuman, all you have to do is walk toward your own TeleHuman and the pod on their end will start glowing with your image.

Using the same pod and similar technology, Vertegaal and his team created BodiPod — an interactive 3-D anatomy model of the human body.People can walk around the model and peel off layers of tissue to reveal muscles, organs and bone structure with hand signals or voice commands.

Vertegaal said he would like to see the acrylic pods come in different shapes and sizes — maybe dinosaur shape, or perhaps Viking boat shape.

As for its use as a teleconferencing tool, he said that he thinks the TeleHuman could be available at a $5,000 price point in the next five years.

ALSO:

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Proof! Study says checking work email is bad for your health

Berkeley freshman’s automated dorm room is a tech geek paradise

Copyright © 2012, Los Angeles Times

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