Tag Archives: Google

Yahoo Hacked Again: “We Are Under Attack”

Usernames and passwords of some Yahoo’s email customers have been stolen and used to gather personal information about people, friends and family they have recently corresponded with, Yahoo Inc. says in a press release. It is the latest in a string of security breaches that have allowed hackers to grab personal information using software that analysts say is ever more sophisticated.

“We’re clearly under attack.”

Avivah Litan


Yahoo, the second-largest email service after Google’s Gmail. There are 273 million Yahoo mail accounts worldwide, 81 million of them in the United States. The internet company will not say how many email accounts that have been compromised.

Probably because the Yahoo-people  don’t know for sure, yet.

This is the latest in a string of security breaches that have allowed hackers to grab personal information using software that analysts say is ever more sophisticated.

Up to 70 million customers of Target stores in the US had their personal information and credit and debit card numbers compromised late last year.

“It’s an old trend, but it’s much more exaggerated now because the programmes the bad guys use are much more sophisticated now,” said Avivah Litan, a security analyst at the technology research firm Gartner.

“We’re clearly under attack”

0In a blog post on its breach, Yahoo says: “The information sought in the attack seems to be names and email addresses from the affected accounts’ most recent sent emails.”

That could mean hackers were looking for additional email addresses to send spam or scam messages. By grabbing real names from those sent folders, hackers could try to make bogus messages appear more legitimate to recipients.

“It’s much more likely that I’d click on something from you if we email all the time,” says Richard Mogull, analyst and chief executive of Securois, a security research and advisory firm.


And the “bad guys” as Mr. Litan call them – that’s the NSA, right?

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Filed under International Econnomic Politics, Laws and Regulations, National Economic Politics, Technology

The End Or the Beginning of Facebook?

How on Earth can people put a price on something like Facebook? It isn’t even a company – it’s some kind of hybrid-corporation! In fact, if we would look at Facebook the same way we look at all other public listed companies, the face value of the Facebook shares would be zero. The shareholders have nothing to say when it comes to managing the company. The advertizing isn’t going that great, either. So why is the stocks trading at nearly  50 times estimated earnings? Well, investors are starting to turn away from Facebook, too…

“This may be the start of an ongoing trend.”



Social media alternatives to Facebook are increasing as users discover more networks that fit their needs. Financial Times reported a couple of days ago that investors are turning to alternative social media networks, and that Facebook is no longer at the top of the list.Benchmark Capital and Greylock Partners are two recent examples of companies that are branching out beyond Facebook. MarketWatch reports that Facebook lost 1.4 million users in December, and that this may be the start of an ongoing trend.

So, will it turn out that Facebook is just another hype, after all?

3q5tctThat is, of course, too early to say, but let’s have a look at some of the stuff that’s been reported about Mr.Zuckerberg and his gigantic Facebook lately.

Bloomberg reported on Feb. 12 that David Sze, who was an early investor in Facebook andLinkedIn, has decided to support the startup Nextdoor. And the Financial Times lists Nextdoor and Snapshot as two recent competitors.

But also other networks, that  have been available for several years, and are now seeing growth among their users.

Orkut, Google’s social network, has 33 million users around the world and is still one of the most popular networks in Brazil and India.

Zorpia, founded in 2003 by Jeffrey Ng, has grown to 26 million users while expanding its features to include photo albums and online journals in addition to social networking.

Badoo has grown to 121 million users and has reached 180 countries.

It seems clear that the gap between alternative networks and Facebook is beginning to get smaller – and investors are noticing this.

Although Facebook is not disappearing and will continue to attract users, its growth in certain markets is being stalled.

Facebook is still banned in China and other countries. Despite the ability of some users to get past the block, the ban has allowed alternative social media networks to flourish. Facebook is apparently slowly beginning to lose users. Facebook lost 1.4 million users in December, according to MarketWatch. And this may be the start of an ongoing trend, the financial web site says.


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Filed under Technology

Spies Like US

Documents obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation in a Freedom of Information Act request show the FBI has used, since at least 2001, special spyware to track suspects’ actions online. And according to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange are Facebook, Google, and Yahoo actually tools for the US intelligence community.

“Facebook in particular is the most appalling spying machine that has ever been invented.”

Julian Assange

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says Facebook, Google, and Yahoo are actually tools for the US intelligence community. Well, I would not be surprised if they were. However, there are even more disturbing information about US intelligence coming from the news site Russia Today.

Speaking to Russian news site RT in an interview, published Monday, Assange was especially critical of the world’s top social network.

He reportedly said that the information Facebook houses is a potential boon for the US government if it tries to build up a dossier on users.

“Facebook in particular is the most appalling spying machine that has ever been invented,” Assange said in the interview, which is videotaped and published on the site.

See Vodpod video at the sidebar.

“Here we have the world’s most comprehensive database about people, their relationships, their names, their addresses, their locations and the communications with each other, their relatives, all sitting within the United States, all accessible to US intelligence.”

If that’s the case, it might surprise some that WikiLeaks has its very own Facebook page.

In fact, last year, when WikiLeaks released a controversial batch of confidential documents–putting Assange on the run – Facebook refused to shut down that page.

The company said at the time that the page did not “violate our content standards nor have we encountered any material posted on the page that violates our policies.”

Facebook’s response stood in stark contrast to the treatment of WikiLeaks by many other companies in the US last year.

Several firms, including PayPal, blocked the company’s accounts.

But Assange didn’t just stop at Facebook.

He also told RT that in addition to the world’s largest social network, Google and Yahoo “have built-in interfaces for US intelligence.”

“It’s not a matter of serving a subpoena,” the former super-hacker says.

“They have an interface that they have developed for U.S. intelligence to use.”

Assange didn’t mention Twitter, another major social network with which his organization has run into trouble.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Justice Department sent a court order to Twitter, requesting the social network deliver information from accounts of activists that allegedly had ties to WikiLeaks.

In March, the Justice Department was granted access to those accounts following a judge’s ruling in favor of the seizure.

Last month, the Justice Department said that complaints over its desire to obtain Twitter information is “absurd,” and its actions are quite common in criminal investigations.

However, the Justice Department didn’t secure a search warrant for access to the information. Instead, it obtained a 2703(d) order, allowing investigators to secure online records that are “relevant and material to an ongoing criminal investigation.”

Documents obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation in a Freedom of Information Act request show the FBI has used, since at least 2001, special spyware to track suspects’ actions online, RT reports.

The documents highlight software called Computer and Internet Protocol Address Verifier (CIPAV) which allows federal authorities to collect details about a user every time they use the Internet.

The FBI collected IP addresses, MAC addresses, open communication ports, lists of programs running, URLs visited, and much more.

If remains unclear how the FBI places the spyware onto a suspect’s computer.

It is however believed they use computer and Internet vulnerabilities such as viruses to plant the software.

According to the documents the FBI has routinely used the software both in domestic criminal and foreign investigations.

The US Air Force, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, Joint Task Force-Global Network Operations, foreign governments and others are all interested in utilizing the program.

This revelation comes after the FBI recently asked the US Congress to make it easier for them to wiretap and access the personal communications of others.

The bureau requested the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security alter the Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act in their favor.

The act already requires telecommunications companies to design and build their systems to ensure law enforcement officials can monitor any telephone or communications line whenever they deem necessary.

The FBI wants Congress to require online companies to do the same by forcing them to re-engineer their technology and software to make it easier for the FBI to drop in.

These documents show the FBI already has numerous tools available to surveil suspects directly, rather than through each of their communications service providers,” Jennifer Lynch from the Electronic Frontier Foundation says.

A device that remains ‘persistent’ on a ‘compromised computer’ is certainly concerning. However, if the FBI obtains a probable cause-based court order before installing tools like CIPAV, complies with the minimization requirements in federal wiretapping law by limiting the time and scope of surveillance, and removes the device once surveillance concludes, the use of these types of targeted tools for Internet surveillance would be a much more narrowly tailored solution to the FBI’s purported problems than the proposal to undermine every Internet user’s privacy and security by expanding CALEA.”

Documents obtained by the digital rights advocacy organization Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) via Freedom of Information Act litigation also showed the FBI abused surveillance powers granted by the PATRIOT Act.

In February the US Congresses passed a bill to extend three specific provisions of the PATRIOT Act – the roving wiretaps, “lone wolf” and “library record” provisions were extended until May 27.

The provisions grant authorities the ability to conduct surveillance without identifying the target or locations being monitored.

They also allow surveillance of non-US citizens non-affiliated with terrorist groups and allow the FBI to access “any tangible thing” during their investigations.

FBI Director Robert Mueller argued before the Senate Judiciary Committee that the provisions should be made permanent and that no violations or abuses of the provisions have taken place.

However, EFF found that the FBI monitored young kids for at least five days, even though the conversations did not match the language of the target.

According to a report, the abuse and violation occurred due to negligence on the FBI’s part because of an inaccurate review of a wiretap renewal application. RT writes on their website.

Following Mueller’s call to renew and possibly make permanent the provisions, a number of legislators are expected to comply.

But, some lawmakers plan to seek amendments top ensure the civil liberties of Americas are maintained.

Senate Democratic Minority Whip Dick Durbin proposed an amendment that would require the government describe the target of a wiretap with greater specificity to avoid violations like spending days monitoring the conversations of children.

Roving wiretaps, which do not require the government to specify the place to be bugged, are designed to allow law enforcement to track targets who evade surveillance by frequently changing phones,” he explain.

Before the PATRIOT Act, roving wiretaps were only permitted for criminal investigations.”

The PATRIOT Act changed the criminal provision and allowed law enforcement to listen to anyone they deemed necessary – even independent of an investigation.

The PATRIOT Act did not include sufficient checks to protect innocent Americans from unwarranted government surveillance,” Durbin remarked.

This is something he and fellow civil liberty advocates hope to address before the PATRIOT Act is extended again.

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Filed under Laws and Regulations, Technology, Uncategorized