Tag: websites

Most websites have serious security flaws

Al CaponeA survey of 5,500 companies has shown that nearly half of the web applications scanned contained a “high security” vulnerability such as XSS or SQL injection.

But worse, nearly four out of five are affected by a medium security vulnerability, according to a report from security vendor Acunetix.

Many of the scans Acunetix performed found big bugs prevalent last year, including POODLE, haven’t even been patched.

Nick Galea, the CEO of the company, said part of the problem is that companies are racing to create user friendly interfaces and customer facing apps, and in so doing leaving data open to cyber crook attack.

He said: “These are worrying stats… it’s just like leaving your wallet or unlocked phone lying around in a public place. It’s more a question of how long it takes, rather than if at all, before you are compromised.”

With network vulnerabilities, the picture is better but still worrying, because the company found 10 percent of the servers it scanned were vulnerable to high security risks.

Acunetix describes high security as meaning an attacker can get easy access to target applications, and to backend systems and databases.

Microsoft India cleared of hosting obscene content on its sites

Microsoft India has been spared the hand of the law after the Delhi High court threw out charges that the company was hosting objectionable content on its site.

The company was originally hauled in front of the legal lords following claims that internet companies in India were failing to screen objectionable content from their sites.

However, it was given the OK by Justice Suresh Kait, who accepted that this had not been done purposely by the company and that no defamatory material was posted on Microsoft’s websites.

Microsoft’s Indian arm went running to the court and challenged the criminal proceedings that complainant Vinaj Rai had filed against it.

He claimed that Microsoft, along with 21 other sites including Facebook, Google, Yahoo and YouTube ,should all be investigated for  hosting “obscene and derogatory content” on their sites.

This included obscene pictures and uncomplimentary articles relating to Hindu deities, Prophet Mohammad and Jesus Christ.

However, Microsoft claimed that it was not providing any platform to people to interact with each other and post or publish their views and only engaging in development and sale of software and computing ideas.

However, there could be trouble ahead with the court also inviting Mr Rai to go back to them and file a fresh complaint if he finds “any credible piece of evidence” against the company.

US net users scared of big bad spying monster

Web users over the pond are scared of how much they are being spied on when they use the internet.

Boffins at the Centre for the Digital Future at the University of Southern California surveyed 1,926 people many of whom were wearing their best tin foil hats.

They were particularly worried about businesses spying.  Over half of those surveyed worring about businesses checking what they do online while only 38 percent thought they had to worry about the government.

However, that hasn’t stopped people from going about their surfing ways, with 82 percent of the population using the net for shopping, social networking, emailing and probably those other things that many don’t speak of.

On average the US spends around 18 hours a week online, with 79 percent of these using their time just browsing. Just under half use it for banking and 46 percent social networking and video-sharing.

And as the years have gone on we’ve moved from the mouse and desktop to phones, tablets and other net based gadgets to feed our internet addiction.

Jeffrey Cole, director of the Center for the Digital Future said that when his outfit started collecting data for its annual surveys 11 years ago, the Internet was almost completely PC-based and could be compared  with TV.

He added that previously people would use a dial-up service for around 30 minutes before getting back to watching telly.

Print Computer Weekly dies

It’s the end of an era. Two of the IT industry’s most well known printed trade magazines have met their maker.

Computer Weekly and MicroScope have been sold on from Reed to TechTarget, which has said it has no interest in keeping the print editions alive – but the websites will remain. It’s no surprise – Computer Weekly has been up for sale for a year now.

The famous Computer Weekly has been doing the rounds since1966 and was a sleeping aid, bog roll, source of information for UK managers, directors and CIOs.

A former bigwig at Computer Weekly told TechEye: “I think the closure of the paper edition is a great contribution to the green movement. If you listen carefully you can hear the trees breathing a sigh of relief.

“I remember when my free copies of CW used to land with a thud on my doormat – now it just drifts down like an autumn leaf”.

TechTarget operates technology websites on data storage, security and that sort of thing. It lost $1.2 million on $95 million last year.

The buyouts are expected to end in April, but no sums for the buyout have been disclosed.

Another former employee at Computer Weekly tells TechEye: “I can’t imagine that Computer Weekly, the mag, has been making any money for a while, given the cost of print and posting it out to 50K+ ‘readers’ a week.

“My estimate is that it was making about £150K a month in ads. That would barely cover the cost of printing and posting.”

iPads are a nefarious ploy to keep us locked in our toilets

One in five men think tablet computing’s best used on the bog.

Why not? If it’s going to kill off traditional print like it hasn’t so far that’s one of the most common places to find a newspaper, with certain titles offering the doubled benefit of being a rough but informative loo roll. It’s not advised to wipe with a Xoom even with the clean-friendly screen.

According to strategic content agency Seven, tablet computing, most noticeably the top contender so far the iPad, actually is slowly but surely changing the way people access information. Of the 1007 sample surveyed by YouGov, probably while comfortable on the loo, 51 percent claimed they preferred reading on Apple’s iPad over a regular magazine.

But print media is by no means long in the tooth. In the same survey, it found that among people with iPads, usage of print media only declined two percent overall. In fact, of the users surveyed, only 31 percent have downloaded a free magazine app. Even lower is the group that has bought a paid-for magazine app, chiming in at 15 percent. That said, over half – at 52 percent – said they would be interested in reading magazines on the iPad. We guess they’re not good enough yet compared to what’s out there on the web.

Having an iPad means people are more likely to watch movies by four percent and more likely to shop, up seven percent, probably thanks to a range of well presented consumer shopping apps. Meanwhile email was up 20 percent among iPad owners and playing games was up by 40 percent, signalling a trend in casual gaming outside of specific console devices.

So basically men are playing games and emailing each other from the toilet. We always suspected tablets were a nefarious means to keep us locked in the bathroom.

Seven’s further delving into the world of iPad user habits revealed that they are influenced into buying apps mainly by either word of mouth or by Apple’s App Store’s self promotion. In terms of the most powerful channels for driving awareness of apps – featured categories in the App Store rate highly at 49 percent of buyers, followed by charts in the app store at 47 percent and reviews at 33 percent. Top is still word of mouth at 53 percent. Social media ranks lowly at 12 percent.

The research underlines a kick in the teeth for casual desktop or laptop computing. Those with iPads registered laptop use as down by 36 percent overall while desktop use was down 31 percent.

All interesting figures but as with every market survey, they can be contorted to deliver the message you want. Statistics say 84 percent of respondents would download an app from favourite brands if it was free and non-subscription, a figure researched by YouGov but cited by a brand content creation group, Seven, that does not tell us the questions before it that could have ended surveys.
Why do people read on the shitter anyway? Brands, take note! According to founding editor Keegan Wilson of literary magazine Pop Cult, it’s because modern life is hectic and the bathroom is a sanctuary.
“It is perhaps the only place left in modern society where we are ever truly alone. Reading, because it requires the reader to focus, sit still and be quiet and exercise their imagination, is very much like meditation in that respect,” Wilson says.
“You can only properly meditate without distraction and many people will meditate in private. Reading also needs to be done without distraction, especially if you want to get the most out of what you’re reading. So by positioning ourselves as ‘essential reading material for the bathroom’ we are helping the reader find ‘nirvana’ through words and stories. This is something I reference from time to time in the editorial introduction. I guess, the short answers is to say: it gives you peace in a busy world.”

Meanwhile, a partner at HRM Coaching, Patrick White, who has a PHD in Organisational Behaviour, reckons there’s a chance that iPads and Kindles will become a bathroom accessory.

Speaking about reading on the toilet, he says: “Reading on the toilet is mainly a male preserve.

“A study in Australia showed that the secondary readership by men of women’s magazines was such that it nearly equalled the initial readership by women. The research showed that this was predominately done while they were in the toilet. Here they could ogle at the various models appearing in such magazines fully dressed or in lingerie at their leisure.

“This way they were not directly seen to be openly reading a women’s magazine. A comment such as “Is this all there is to read” would be uttered just as they went in.”

He agrees with Pop Cult that the bathroom is a sanctuary: “In my early career after the drive home from work I was always meet at the door by my young children all wanting to discuss their day and show me the work they brought home from school.

“This was too much for me so I developed the habit of immediately going to the toilet when I arrived home. After a quick read and a calm down I would then emerge to face them.”

Food for thought indeed! As businessmen are, ahem, slated to adopt the tablet compter – could it be possible the likes of Apple is breeding a nation of suited business toilet-dads with iPads? It surely could.

*EyeSee Picture is of an iPhone recovered from the bowl, relatively unscathed.

UK Census website won't crash like others

Around  a quarter of respondents are expected to fill in their UK 2011 census form over the net as the department makes it available online for the first time. The census is being held on the 27th of March.

However, the Office for National Statistics has said that the site has been built to accommodate many more and it also seems that it’s learnt from the casualties of the UK tax site, which crashed when too many people decided to try and fill in forms online.

In a lengthly explanation of how it all works, deputy census director Ian Cope told TechEye:
 “A great deal of work has been done to monitor trends in internet usage and broadband take-up, to model the total number of online responses and their day-to-day and hour-by-hour profile.

“However, there is no online service in the UK that is a direct comparator to the census. Canada, New Zealand and Australia all offered an online census in 2006, with online response rates between seven percent and 18 percent. We have taken account of this experience and also of our own 2009 rehearsal experience. ONS’s expectation of 25 percent, with the ability to accommodate many more, is in line with the expectations in these other countries.”

However, the census could be anticipating problems, with Cope adding: ” If, however, the online option proves even more popular than we’ve anticipated, we will simply ask new users to come back later while making sure that those who have already logged on can continue. We will monitor the user levels closely at all times. We have carried out volume and performance testing to make sure that the system can handle the sustained loads expected.

If you’ve already had a hard copy of the census come through the post, you’ll know how long winded it looks, however, those clever enough to have spotted the internet access code on the front can complete the questions with “one simple click”.

Cope told TechEye that the organisation had “already received feedback from the public that they find the online census quick and simple.”

He added: “Our research shows that it takes about 30 minutes for a family of four to
add their details.

And he also moved to dispel qualms from disability groups that the site isn’t accessible, claiming the department had worked  closely with the RNIB to make sure that the site is accessible for those with visual impairments, which will make it easier for them to complete
their census independently.

The organisation also would not talk about costs claiming that website was only part of the census operation and it was therefore difficult to separate out.

He also added that it believed the 56 languages were sufficient enough to reflect the growing diversity of the UK.

Scammers pinch all of Reed College school's website

Reed College in the US was shocked to discover that scammers had copied its website and changed the name to the University of Redwood.

The big idea was to collect application fees from prospective students in Hong Kong and Asia by posing as a legitimate site. Since university sites are often so dull that you need to skimp on the creative juice to build one, the scammers thought it was easier to get the authentic look by just nicking the whole thing.

Martin Ringle, chief technology officer at the Portland college, told the Daily Mail that after collecting a fee, ‘a shrewd scammer could wait several weeks, then issue a rejection letter’ and pocket the cash.

Reed College has been forced to change its original homepage until the “Redwood” site is taken down.

What was even stranger was Ringle found serious mentions of the University of Redwood on Asian higher-education blogs as if the outfit really existed.

The Redwood site was being run on the web-hosting company Go Daddy which shut it down and then allowed it to go ahead again.

Apparently Go Daddy has ascertained that the ‘allegedly infringing material was removed’ although it is not quite certain how this can be true. Reed said that it will keep trying until the scam is taken down.

Reed College is a swanky school with annual tuition fees of about $50,000 while the University of Redwood website gives an address in Torrance, California, that belongs to a mail-forwarding company which probably has less swank.

BBC pursues digital agenda by sacking 360, cutting iPlayer radio

Aunty Beeb has announced that she will be saying goodbye to around 360 employees and closing hundreds of websites.

The corporation has said the changes are part of “a more streamlined” approach to its online service.

The Beeb’s online budget will be cut by 25 percent, bringing down the £137 million spend to £103 million by 2013.

The victims of the cut will be half of the BBC’s 400 “top line” domains, which will be closed and replaced with automated content. According to BBC executive Roly Keating, this is because the Beeb “just don’t need them” any more.

Among the services that will disappear are the youth-orientated BBC Switch, Video Nation and a number of forums, blogs and message boards currently being run by the corporation including the 606 community football site. There will also be a reduction in the amount of sports news.

The cuts will include changes to the iPlayer as well as major shifts into more localised news and sport. The iPlayer will also feel more naked pain as it is to be stripped of radio content. Users looking for this in the future will instead be taken to the radio and music channels.

Director-general Mark Thompson acknowledged the changes would be “painful” but insisted BBC Online “lies at the heart” of the corporation’s digital future.

He said in a statement: “BBC Online is a huge success but our vast portfolio of websites means we sometimes fall short of expectation. A refocusing on our editorial priorities, a commitment to the highest quality standards and a more streamlined and collegiate way of working will help us transform BBC Online for the future.” 

He added that the online service had grown “organically” and there needed to be a reduction in its “scope and scale”.

The job losses include 70 journalism positions, 24 in sport and around 90 in BBC Vision.

Adobe says firms look to mobile websites to boost business

More than 80 percent of companies are deploying or already using mobile websites to boost their business.

In a survey of 446 businesses, Adobe’s first annual Scene 7 Mobile Commerce Survey found that respondents across several industries, including retail and media, indicated an overwhelming preference for developing websites as their predominant mobile commerce presence compared with other types of mobile properties, including downloadable applications.

Only eight percent of respondents said they would prefer a downloadable application-only mobile commerce strategy.

Adobe also said its survey uncovered four key areas of focus for businesses’ mobile strategies: promotions, commerce, product information and branding. It said 75 percent of respondents named promotions as the core of their mobile strategy, which Adobe said showed the mobile channel as an important method to drive traffic and support multi-channel commerce.

And it seems businesses know exactly what they want when it comes to this application with   more than 55 percent of respondents saying full-screen image zoom and videos were indispensable viewing features for driving conversion. Nearly all (96 percent) also said the most effective visual merchandising features were catalogues and brochures.

However only  18 percent admitted to using rich visual merchandising features for mobile commerce. Adobe said that this would go up in the future 12 months citing that 81 percent of respondents had outlined plans to deploy these features.

Sheila Dahlgren, senior director of product marketing at Adobe, said: “The survey results demonstrate the opportunities that exist for companies to fully leverage rich visualisation features to improve their emerging mobile presences and drive cross-channel sales.”

NHS wastes over £86 million of your dosh on useless websites

Leaked documents have shown that the NHS has spent a huge £86 million a year on thousands of websites that do exactly diddly-squat and in many cases 404.

Public Technology reports that the NHS Digital Communications Review shows one third of the NHS’s 4,121 websites had notable deficits in standards, and 1,000 were not even accessible anymore. No one expects quick, efficient or even careful procedure from the NHS’s hospitals – in fact our editor, Mike Magee, was almost killed at Northwick Park Hospital as staff were about to perform the wrong operation on him.

While £86 million is far from the dosh the NHS would need for a shake-up and better performance – and bless it, its medical staff do the best they can with what they’ve got – it would certainly be a reasonable start to a healthy kitty that could go towards underpaid nurses, cleaning staff and the rest of it. 

Local GP websites were rated as some of the worst out there, with almost 60 percent of the 671 *working* websites set up by family doctors had “problems” – the PCT says this has received “almost no recognition” from the public.

The NHS is a mess in the same way that fascist parties and dictatorships tend to be: different departments greenlighting and OK’ing papers and initiatives that contradict others, not moving organically but rather a chaotic mess with no central organisation, and at a great cost to the taxpayer.

The Precedent report, a communications agency, states that: “From the limited data received, it is clear that the NHS has little in the way of central mechanisms to track the costs and usage of all NHS websites.

The question is raised why these sites were developed in the first instance – i.e. due to a genuine need or if they were developed without evidence, on a perceived need only.”

The paper also says those Googling for NHS info are flummoxed, saying the public struggles to locate the NHS online with a simple search. We did a search for the NHS press office – first hit, or if you’re Feeling Lucky – while appearing bona fide in Google leads you straight to a 404 which the NHS charmingly says “Whoops!” on. “Whoops!” indeed – we’ve a feeling surgeons don’t get away with Whoopsies so why the bloody hell is the NHS getting away with spending heaps of money on garbage that is useful to no one?

The official line from Lydia Martin at the Department of Health is mind bogglingly flaccid: “We know that information is the key to patient choice and control as well as better outcomes for patients. As the recent white paper said, the Government intends to bring about an NHS information revolution to give people access to comprehensive, trustworthy and easy to understand information from a range of sources on conditions, treatments, lifestyle choices and how to look after their own and their family’s health.

“The Department will set out how it intends to achieve this with the launch of an information strategy in the autumn.” We suspect the “information revolution” will be more IT systems that do not work, and more bureaucratic paper pushing, a further waste of public money. Same old, same old useless spin that doesn’t answer any questions and tells us absolutely nothing.

We hope there is an “information revolution” but we’re not holding our breath.

* EyeSee: It’s worth pointing out that this sort of spending is typical of Labour’s cash-happy days of living on credit. We’ll have to see how Cameron’s lot pans this out – though Osborne’s Age of Austerity hasn’t been exactly Austere just yet.