Category Archives: News

What’s Happening?

Is Google Getting Too Big?

Google, the most widely-used search engine on Earth, is involved in much more than noting LOLcat links. It has both gobbled up products and services and come up with its own, ranging from a host of online tools to physical products like Android smartphones and even driverless cars. Their product list features no less than 47 categories of online services, 7 just under “Specialized Search”. Despite the occasional misstep like Google Glass, it’s been an amazing success story. However, recent developments may cause some wondering at the extent of the company’s influence and ambition. In Europe, for instance, Google has been under investigation for 4 years for antitrust violations. Complaints have come from publishers in Germany and in Spain, as well as Microsoft Europe and travel sites, including Expedia and TripAdvisor in the US. CEO Eric Schmidt is set to visit next week to work things out. The stakes are quite high; the company could be fined billions of dollars. He also needs to address the raft of complaints on privacy violations. Europe’s “digital czar”, Günther Oettinger, recently fired off a blast at Google and Facebook, warning of the US giants’ exploiting Europeans by harvesting and selling their personal data. He called for a single European-wide law to protect their data privacy, and has spoken ominously of taxing American companies operating there. Investigation into antitrust charges has also begun in Russia after a complaint from a native search engine company. … Continue reading

Posted in Interesting Items, News | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Recent Exploits Bode Ill for the Future

Every week new intrusive exploits by hackers are found across the Internet. Some unsuspecting new institutional victim is revealed to have been penetrated. Lately most have involved major commercial corporations which had personal data stolen, like the recent assault on health insurance provider Anthem. Three exploits that were announced last week took hacking to a new level. Each is breathtaking in scope, immensely sophisticated, and have apparently been around for quite a while before they were discovered. Each one by itself would merit alarm and concern by all thoughtful users, but taken together they signal scary times ahead for the Internet. One was an attack on the banking industry. Found by Moscow-based Kaspersky Labs, this is said to be the biggest and most sophisticated bank heist ever; over $1 billion dollars were taken from over 100 banks in 30 countries. The banks were scattered from Russia to the US, Germany, China, and Ukraine. And the means of attack varied from creating money out of thin air to reprogramming ATMs to spew forth cash – one doing so in Kiev before a gang-employed mule could pick it up was what apparently brought the heist to the attention of the authorities. The hackers apparently wormed their way in through a phishing attack that lured bank executives to booby-trapped webpages where they were infected. Once the hackers were inside the system, they watched the banks’ activities carefully, and mimicked them to remain undetected. … Continue reading

Posted in News, Security, Warnings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Crunch Time for Net Neutrality

On February 26th, the entire fate of the Internet and the future of all humanity will be decided. Or at least, that’s the impression one could get from the wild rhetoric swirling around the upcoming possibly-historic decision by the FCC on Net Neutrality. This is the principle that all data packets on the Internet should be treated the same way, without preferential treatment regarding speed, content, or destination, as they proceed across the Internet. The Commissioners are finally putting the whole contentious issue to an actual vote, but despite the clarions of doom blasting on all sides, the issues are not quite as good v. evil as either side one makes out, whichever side one chooses. The debate has greatly muddled everything, even within the FCC. There are dire warnings of government Internet regulation and worse, taxation, up against fragmenting of the Internet into superhighways with all the goodies for the rich and dirt trails and dustbins for everybody else. The battle will be fought until the very last minute. At issue is whether the Internet should be regulated as an utility instead of as an “information service”. It’s not that simple, of course. But despite all the sound and the fury, the battle lines are clear enough. On the pro-Net Neutrality side are the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Freedom Foundation. On the other are the big broadband carriers – Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T in particular – … Continue reading

Posted in Events, News | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment