Category: Internet

Sky asks people nicely to stop piracy

8-380x280In a very British approach to online-piracy, the ISP Sky has asked its customers nicely to stop pirating content.

In an entry on its dedicated FAQs page, Sky has started sending out notices to those who have been sharing content on their broadband connection.

“However, if you continue to share content illegally using your broadband connection, Sky will request that you take immediate steps to remove or disable any file sharing software that is being used to share copyrighted content illegally.”

The whole thing is based on the premise that people who share online content don’t know it is illegal. Something which has been ruled as “somewhat silly” by recent studies which show that such notices are not worth the energy as people who know enough to load a torrent know exactly what they are doing.

The scheme, which falls under the Creative Content UK initiative, is supported by most of the major ISPs including BT, Virgin Media, TalkTalk, and Sky Broadband, they’ve all started sending out educational alerts to users suspected of engaging in piracy.

Google works out how to make Chrome faster

mercedes_benz_slr_mclaren_9qiu5Google announced that it has worked with Facebook and Mozilla to make page reloads in Chrome for desktop and mobile  about 28 percent faster.

The big idea is that if you can cut down the number of network requests the browser makes to see if the images and other resources it cached the first time you went to a site are still valid you can speed things up rather a lot.

Writing in his bog, Google engineer Takashi Toyoshima said that users typically reload pages because they either look broken or because the content looks like it should have been updated. When browser developers first added this feature, it was mostly because broken pages were common. Today, users mostly reload pages because the content of a site seems stale.

Google simplified Chrome’s reload behavior and it now only validates the main resource. Facebook, just like other pages, says its pages now reload 28 percent faster, too.

Google admits that is a very minor change but the effects aren’t so minor. They estimate that the new method reduces the number of validation requests by as much as 60 per cent, making pages reload 28 per cent faster. And the sooner the browser finishes reloading a page, the sooner it can stop using data and hardware resources.

Google boots 200 fake news sites

surprised-newspaper-readerGoogle kicked 200 publishers off one of its ad networks in the fourth quarter, partly in response to the proliferation of fake news sites.

The sites were banned from its AdSense network and is part of an update to an existing policy that prohibits sites from misleading users with their content.

Google regularly weeds out advertisers for false or misleading claims, but impersonating news sites became an addition following the rapid rise of fake news, or propaganda sites.

Publishers were banned in November and December and included sites that impersonate real news organisations through shortened top-level domains, according to Google’s 2016 “bad ads” report, normally released at the beginning of each year.

So-called fake news publishers will sometimes take advantage of “.co” domains by appearing like legitimate news sites that would normally end in “.com”.

Google said in 2016 it took down 1.7 billion ads for violations, compared to 780 million in 2015. Google attributes the increase in ad removals to a combination of advertiser behaviour and improvements in technology to detect offending ads.

Yahoo being investigated for handling of data breaches

Marissa-Mayer-webex-ART-OLD-SITE (1)The troubled search engine outfit Yahoo is being investigated by Inspector Knacker of the US yard and financial regulators over its handling of two huge data breaches.

Yahoo was hacked in 2014 and huge amounts of personal data was stolen. Yahoo, which was a little concerned about more publicity failed to make the news public.

Now the FBI is looking into whether Yahoo’s two massive data breaches should have been reported sooner to investors. If Yahoo faces any fall-out from the case then it could be a major test in defining when a company is required to disclose a hack.

For those who came in late, the first data breach in 2013 that involved more than one billion users’ accounts. The second was in 2014, an intrusion which involved about 500 million accounts. SEC has requested documents from Yahoo.

The agency has been considering a model case for cybersecurity rules it issued in 2011. Yahoo has said that it was cooperating with the SEC, Federal Trade Commission and other federal, state, and foreign governmental officials and agencies including “several State Attorneys General, and the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York”.

When Yahoo reported the 2014 breach, it said that evidence linked it to a state-sponsored attacker. It has not announced a suspected responsibility for the larger 2013 intrusion, but the company has said it does not believe the two breaches are linked.

 

China invests $14.55 billion into internet

ChinaThe glorious Chinese government has set up a $14.55 billion  fund to support investment in the internet sector.

According to the official news agency Xinhua the fund is backed by China’s cabinet [shurely the china cabinet.ed] and is designed to help turn China into a major player in internet technology, said the report.

Some of the cash has already been raised from major banks and telecoms firms including ICBC, China Mobile and China Unicom. The idea is to have a pile of cash which companies using the internet can apply to the fund for investment.

China said earlier this month it would invest huge amounts of cash between 2016 and 2018 to develop information infrastructure.

Facebook says it will reduce fake news

funny-pictures-auto-news-france-387930Facebook said  it will update its social media platforms in Germany within weeks to reduce the dissemination of fake news.

German Justice Minister Heiko Mass has repeatedly called on Facebook to respect laws against defamation in Germany that are stricter than those in the United States.

The Germans are worried that fake news and “hate speech” on the internet could influence a parliamentary election in September in which chancellor Angela Merkel will seek a fourth term in office.

Now a Facebook note said the company would make it easier to report items suspected to be fake news and work with external fact-checking organisations.

“Last month we announced measures to tackle the challenge of fake news on Facebook,” the U.S. technology company’s German-language newsroom said.

“We will put these updates in place in Germany in the coming weeks.”

Its partners will be required to sing the U.S. Poynter International Fact-Checking Code of Principles, it said. Warning signs would be attached to reports identified as noncredible, and the reasons for the decision given.

Facebook would also make it impossible for spammers to forge the websites of reputable news agencies, it said.

 

US senators investigate Russian hacking

russian-villagersWhile Donald (Prince of Orange) Trump is denying his chum Tsar Vladimir Putin unleashed his team of hackers to help him win the election, senior U.S. intelligence officials will testify in Congress on Thursday on Russia’s alleged cyber-attacks during the 2016 election campaign.

Trump has not been briefed on the hacks yet, but that has not stopped him denying they took place.  He is apparently going to receive details on the DMC hack today.

He is already heading for a spat with Democrats and fellow Republicans in Congress, many of whom don’t like Putin and distrust Trump’s praise of the chap.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers and Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Marcel Lettre are expected to appear before the Senate Armed Services Committee, which is chaired by Republican John McCain, a vocal critic of Putin.

Their testimony on cyber threats facing the United States will come a week after President Barack Obama ordered the expulsion of 35 Russian suspected spies and imposed sanctions on two Russian intelligence agencies over their alleged involvement in hacking U.S. political groups in the 2016 election.

US intelligence agencies say Russia was behind hacks into Democratic Party organizations and operatives before the presidential election, a conclusion supported by several private cybersecurity firms. Moscow denies it.

US intelligence officials have also said the Russian cyber-attacks aimed to help Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton. Several Republicans acknowledge Russian hacking during the election but have not linked it to an effort to help Trump win.

Documents stolen from the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign manager, were leaked to the media in advance of the election, embarrassing the Clinton campaign.

Trump and top advisers believe Democrats are trying to delegitimize his election victory by accusing Russian authorities of helping him.

However, he has not helped his case by nominating Moscow-friendly types to senior administration posts, including secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson, who while Exxon Mobil chief executive, was awarded the Order of Friendship, a Russian state honour, by Putin in 2013.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will also hold a closed-door hearing today to look at Russia’s alleged hacking and harassment of US diplomats.

 

Telly catches Fire

old-school-tvA separate Fire TV device might become a thing of the past as telly makers are starting to integrate the streaming technology.

Seiki, Westinghouse and Element Electronics are launching a series of 4K sets with Fire TV technology built-in. They all include Amazon’s current interface, including a wide range of Alexa voice commands thanks to a microphone-equipped remote. If you use an over-the-air TV antenna, you’ll have access to both a channel guide and favourite individual channels on the home screen.

The first lot are appearing at CES and so far, none of the companies are saying when.  There will be 43-, 50-, 55- and 65-inch models. These are budget telly makers so adding Fire into your telly will not cost much more.  It is also likely that other cheaper manufactures will follow suit.

Samsung, LG and Sony already have highly developed smart TV platforms (whether in-house or Android TV), and it’s doubtful they will bother.

Google changes algorithms of hate

KKK-1000x600Search engine Google has changed its algorithms after discovering that users using search terms related to the Holocaust or ethnic minorities were being pointed to hate sites.

The new algorithms are said to prioritise high-quality information, bumping down sites associated with racial hate speech, and to remove anti-Semitic auto-fill queries.

In the past, Google has shown reluctance to change its algorithms in the past, preferring to prioritize whatever pages generated the most online sharing and discussion. But it discovered that hate groups were manipulating the algorithms to amplify misinformation and hate speech.

Auto-fill suggestions to complete the search query “are Jews” included “are Jews evil?” Also, the top search for “did the Holocaust happen” linked to a page by Stormfront, an infamous white supremacist group, and searches related to various ethnic minorities would often bring up other sites espousing racist views.

A spokesGoogle said that judging which pages on the web best answer a query is a challenging problem and it did not always get it right.

“We recently made improvements to our algorithm that will help surface more high quality, credible content on the web. We’ll continue to change our algorithms over time to tackle these challenges.”

The algorithm now takes the browser away from Stormfront and replaces it with the United States Holocaust Museum. However, the white supremacist group still holds the number one spot in the Google search engine.

All this is caused by the sudden increase in hate speech and the glut of fake news. A Pew Research poll, four out of ten Americans now get news online, underscoring the influence such sites can yield.

 

Instagram grows its user base

Leica cameraPhoto-based social notworking site Instagram’s user base rose to more than 600 million.

The Facebook owned company said that its new features had helped it gain popularity and it had added 100 million users since June, when it last announced its 500 million user milestone.

Writing in the company bog,  the company said that products like Instagram Stories, its picture and video slideshow feature, identical to the signature function of rival Snap Snapchat had done rather well.

Instagram in September updated its safety tools by allowing users to control the comments posted on their pictures and videos to combat increasing cases of online trolling.

The company, which is expected to add to Facebook’s revenue, is on track to generate $1.5 billion in advertising revenue this year, according to research firm eMarketer.