MediaFile

Tech wrap: Apple, Fox News hacked

How do hackers spend the Independence Day holiday weekend?  Why, hacking, of course. Well, some of them do anyway. Anonymous, the group behind several high-profile hacking incidents this year, posted a document online Sunday allegedly containing a small number of usernames and passwords for access to one of Apple’s servers. The hacker collective announced the breach via its Twitter feed as part of its Anti Security, or “AntiSec”, campaign, warning that the gadget maker could be targeted in further attacks. ZDNet wonders whether Apple is a sort of “Holy Grail” for malicious hackers given the massive amounts of customer data stored on the company’s iTunes and iCloud servers.

In a separate incident, hackers temporarily hijacked a Twitter feed operated by Fox News and posted several false messages early on Monday morning claiming that President Barack Obama had been shot and killed in Iowa. The ScriptKiddies, a group that may be loosely connected to Anonymous, claimed responsibility for the prank. FoxNews.com later regained control of the feed and removed the tweets.  The president is actually at the White House enjoying the July 4 Independence Day festivities with his family. A Secret Service investigation is underway.

Coming soon: English-language search on Baidu. Thanks to a new pact Microsoft has signed with China’s most popular search engine, Baidu will no longer be just for Chinese users. Under the alliance, English searches on Baidu will be powered using Microsoft’s Bing search, which will then deliver results back to Baidu’s Web pages. The new alliance should prove to be a win-win for both companies by helping Microsoft increase its puny presence in China and Baidu extend further beyond China’s borders.

One of the most-talked about features of Google’s new social network Google+ is its video conferencing capabilities, something that Facebook has yet to offer. That could change this week, though. According to a report on TechCrunch, Facebook will use a much-hyped press event this week to launch a new in-browser video chat service powered by Skype.

Sony will finally restore the remainder of its Sony PlayStation Network in Japan this week, months after a massive security breach by hackers forced them to shut the videogame service down globally. Restoration of the service in Japan, which accounts for less than 10 percent of the network’s users, will mark the full resumption of the network globally.

Tech wrap: Want a Google+ invite? You may have to wait

Social media junkies pining for an invite to try out Google+ will have to wait a little bit longer. Google decided to temporarily stop inviting users to join its new social network less than two days after it launched the service. What gives? “Insane demand. We want to do this carefully, and in a controlled way,” a Google engineering executive said in a Google+ post on Wednesday night. A company spokeswoman contacted by Reuters declined to say whether the company had resumed invites on Thursday.

Reviews of Google+ are starting to filter in from those who’ve been lucky enough to get an invite. The general consensus seems to be that it’s a lot like Facebook and that it is an improvement over Google’s past social media efforts, Buzz and Wave.  ZDNet rounds up five things it loves about the new service. The Guardian pans the desktop version, but gives the mobile platform a thumbs up. PCWorld says it’s no Facebook. Wired calls its approach to privacy a “pretty good start”. And CNN explores one of its most distinctive features: video conferencing.

Meanwhile, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told reporters on Thursday his company is planning to unveil an “awesome” new feature next week.  Details were scant, but tech blogs have speculated in recent weeks about new mobile products in development at Facebook. Could it be the long-awaited iPad app? Or a dedicated photo-sharing app? Or, as tech blog GigaOm founder Om Malik joked on Twitter, is it just an attempt by Zuckerberg to divert attention away from Google+?

Why the exodus from Facebook?

By Vera Gibbons

Any opinions expressed are the author’s own.

According to the Inside Facebook data service, Facebook lost about 6 million users in the U.S. in May (a claim the company disputes), dropping from 155.2 million to 149.4 million. That’s the first time U.S. numbers have dropped in more than a year.

Why the exodus from the world’s most popular social networking platform? While Daniel Sieberg, author of The Digital Diet, says it’s due to any number of reasons – from “Facebook Fatigue” to privacy issues to our inability to get the same benefits or rewards that we initially did when we first signed on – here are some of more personal, intimate reasons, according to those who have pulled the plug:

Don’t like what we’re seeing
Ashley Hebert, 26, of New Bedford, Massachusetts, had seen one too many photos of her ex-boyfriend – whom she was hoping to get back together with – looking all too pleased with his new girlfriend. Painful as it was, she couldn’t stop looking and was even having her friends spy on her behalf.  “I had to get off Facebook to stay sane.”

Tech wrap: Microsoft reaches for the cloud

Everyone seems to be gabbing about the “cloud” these days. Whether it’s Apple’s much-hyped iCloud service or the Amazon Cloud, the now-popular euphemism for web-based software services has become one of the tech world’s biggest buzz words. Microsoft joined in on the action today by unveiling a revamped web-based version of its popular Office suite of business software. But Microsoft’s main target here is not Apple or Amazon, but Google, which has stolen some of the software maker’s corporate customers in recent years with cheap, web-only alternatives.

With Office 365, customers will be able to access familiar applications such as Outlook email, Excel spreadsheets and SharePoint collaboration tools beyond the desktop on a variety of different devices wherever there is an Internet connection. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer touted the service’s online format and built-in conferencing tools as especially good for small and medium-sized businesses looking to save money. Microsoft has offered online versions of some of Outlook and some other applications to corporate clients for years, but increased competition seems to have spurred Microsoft’s latest push into the cloud.

Google is praised for doing many things right, but social networking is not widely regarded as one of them. Co-founder and CEO Larry Page, who took over the helm from now-Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt in April, has made it clear that he hopes to change that. The Web giant trotted out its latest and most extensive foray into social networking with Google+, a new social service that aims to compete with Facebook by bundling together all of its its online properties into one platform. Google+ is an attempt to move past former flops such as Google Wave and Google Buzz.

Tech wrap: Panasonic profits shaken by quake

Japan’s Panasonic Corp forecast on Monday its full-year operating profit would drop 11 percent to 270 billion yen ($3.4 billion) in the year to March 2012, after the earthquake and tsunami in northern Japan hit production and sales. Like many of its rivals, Panasonic delayed its profit forecast due to lack of clarity about the effects of the quake.

Facebook’s U.S. advertising revenue will total roughly $2.2 billion in 2011, displacing Yahoo Inc to collect the biggest slice of online display advertising dollars, according to a new study. Facebook’s U.S. advertising revenue will give it a 17.7 percent share of the market for graphical display ads that appear on websites, according to a report released on Monday by research firm eMarketer.

The Internet body that oversees domain names voted on Monday to end restricting them to suffixes like .com or .gov and will receive applications for new names from January 12 next year with the first approvals likely by the end of 2012. Experts say corporations should be among the first to register, resulting in domain names ending in brands like .toyota, .apple or .coke. Besides the $185,000 to apply, individuals or organizations will have to show a legitimate claim to the names they are buying.

Social media and the Vancouver riots

Vancouver police arrested almost 100 people after a riot broke out Wednesday, and are looking to lock up more, with the help of YouTube.

The website of the Vancouver Police Department prominently features a special “Hockey Riot 2011″ section where visitors can watch and read a statement by Chief Constable Jim Chu.

Constable Chu has promised to “bring all our resources to bear,” committing “the full weight of the Criminal Justice System [sic] in swiftly apprehending those responsible.”

Yahoo’s Ross Levinsohn: We’re still No. 1

As Yahoo’s Executive Vice President of the America’s region, Ross Levinsohn’s task is to transform the image of the lumbering Internet giant to one with a passing resemblance to the darling of the 1990s dotcom era when it called the shots. Though, investors ascribed virtually all of Yahoo’s market value to its prized Asian assets – a major stake in China’s hot Alibaba Group and Yahoo Japan – brushing aside Yahoo’s core U.S. business.

A long time Internet player, Levinsohn, who also headed News Corp’s Fox Interactive Media, sat down with me and Kenneth Li during Internet Week in New York and explained how Yahoo needs to fix its image problem, how much of a distraction the tussle in Asia over Alipay was, and how he expects advertising dollars to continue to migrate to Yahoo.

Reuters: What’s working and not working at Yahoo?

Levinsohn: What is clearly working is hundreds of millions of people interact with our properties. Do you know that we have over 700 million people? Do you know that we have the No.1 or No. 2 positions in 19 categories — sports, news, finance, and entertainment news? OMG is our entertainment news gossip site and we are twice the size of TMZ. We’re bigger than ESPN in sports, we’re bigger than the Wall Street Journal, Fox News and Bloomberg combined in finance. The numbers are astounding and, for some odd reason, Yahoo doesn’t get that credit. It’s an easy story for me to tell that you are able to aggregate huge audiences around premium experiences and we should double down on those things.

from The Great Debate:

Why the Internet is everybody’s business

By David Barroux
The opinions expressed are his own.

LES ECHOS/Worldcrunch -- The first-ever E-G8 summit, beginning Tuesday in Paris with a notable lineup of government leaders and a “digital Who’s Who,” has been hit by a range of criticisms, from political hijacking to state censorship. But these attacks reveal only part of the truth. Sure, Nicolas Sarkozy, struggling in the polls, sees this as a chance to “presidentialize” his image while attempting to make his mark on this subject so attractive to the younger generation. But the self-interest driving his approach doesn’t necessarily mean it is uninteresting.

Long considered a free space that could develop on principles of self-government, the Internet has become so crucial to democratic life and economic growth that today it is legitimate for political players and large industrial groups to be involved in its management. States and multinationals would be wrong to want to plan and regulate everything, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they should simply stand back and watch.

Working in tandem, states and businesses can first act on the infrastructure. In past centuries, states financed the construction of roads or railways. Today, mechanisms should be found that allow private actors to invest in indispensible broadband information superhighways.

Live Coverage: Will Page lead Google’s call?

Wall Street formally meets the new Larry Page-led Google on Thursday afternoon when the world’s No.1 Internet search company reports first-quarter financial results.

The 38-year-old Page has a lot on his plate now that he’s CEO of the company he co-founded thirteen years ago. Will he crack open Google’s $35 billion cash coffers to take on Facebook or to pay off shareholders? Will there be more self-driving cars funded at the Googleplex? Will Page even be on the analyst conference call? Check in Thursday at 1:30pm Pacific Time for a live blog of the highly-anticipated call.

Data breach is the Exxon Valdez of privacy

Crews clean up the oil soaked beach on Naked Island in the Prince William Sound, on April 2, 1989, after the oil spill caused by the Exxon tanker Valdez.   REUTERS/Mike Blake- Michael Fertik is the founder and CEO of Reputation.com, an online privacy and reputation management company. He is a member of the World Economic Forum Agenda Council on Internet Security and recipient of the WEF Technology Pioneer 2011 Award. The opinions expressed are his own. -

Last week’s Epsilon data breach is the Exxon Valdez of privacy. It is a wake-up call that it is time to reform our privacy infrastructure from the ground up, much as the Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989 should have served as the wake-up call to reform our energy delivery infrastructure to prevent disasters like last year’s BP Deepwater Horizon spill.

On Friday, the email marketing firm Epsilon revealed that tens of millions of private names and email addresses were stolen, putting millions of people at risk of fraud. Intruders were able to harvest names and email addresses that belong to customers of companies like Best Buy, Capital One, and J.P. Morgan. Banks and retailers gave this data to Epsilon to run email marketing campaigns. In turn, someone penetrated Epsilon’s security, and was able to download millions of names and addresses, which presumably are being sold on the black market at this very moment.