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Internet

Monday 03 January 2011
Mozilla Loses Users Names, Email Addresses, Hashed Passwords
Christo [PCD] , Monday 03 January 2011 - 09:36:39 //

File containing sensitive information was posted to common file server for all to see

These days internet firms seem to be having a tougher and tougher time holding on to your private data. Following lost emails databases at Walgreens, McDonalds, and others; Microsoft's leak of business users' contacts from the cloud; and Gawker's loss of users names, passwords, and site information, Mozilla has become the latest to fail to keep its users confidential data secure.

Chris Lyon, Director of Infrastructure Security at Mozilla, wrote users of its addons page to let them know it might have accidentally shared their encrypted passwords. Writes Lyon:

Dear addons.mozilla.org user,

The purpose of this email is to notify you about a possible disclosure of your information which occurred on December 17th. On this date, we were informed by a 3rd party who discovered a file with individual user records on a public portion of one of our servers. We immediately took the file off the server and investigated all downloads. We have identified all the downloads and with the exception of the 3rd party, who reported this issue, the file has been download by only Mozilla staff. This file was placed on this server by mistake and was a partial representation of the users database from addons.mozilla.org. The file included email addresses, first and last names, and an md5 hash representation of your password. The reason we are disclosing this event is because we have removed your existing password from the addons site and are asking you to reset it by going back to the addons site and clicking forgot password. We are also asking you to change your password on other sites in which you use the same password. Since we have effectively erased your password, you don't need to do anything if you do not want to use your account. It is disabled until you perform the password recovery.


We have identified the process which allowed this file to be posted publicly and have taken steps to prevent this in the future. We are also evaluating other processes to ensure your information is safe and secure.


Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact the infrastructure security team directly at . If you are having issues resetting your account, please contact . We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused.


Chris Lyon

Director of Infrastructure Security


Worse yet, it turns out that the file contained passwords protected by an older hashing algorithm MD5, without any salting (random input to protect against dictionary attacks). Writes Lyon in his blog:

The database included 44,000 inactive accounts using older, md5-based password hashes. We erased all the md5-passwords, rendering the accounts disabled. All current addons.mozilla.org accounts use a more secure SHA-512 password hash with per-user salts. SHA-512 and per user salts has been the standard storage method of password hashes for all active users since April 9th, 2009.

In other words, active users likely don't have much to worry about, but if you created an account in the past, which you haven't used in some time, it's likely that malicious parties may have at least your name and email address. And if your password is weak, they'll likely soon have that as well -- so users who fall into this category might want to immediately change any identical passwords on accounts on other sites.

For those confused what these accounts even are, Mozilla encourages users of its popular extensions/add-ons to register. According to Mozilla:

You only need to register if:

* You want to submit reviews for add-ons
* You want to keep track of your favorite add-on collections or create one yourself
* You are an add-on developer and want to upload your add-on for hosting on AMO


Judging by the number of inactive accounts, many of Mozilla's millions of users decided to take the plunge and create an account. Now some of those users' security may be at risk due to the organization careless post of user account information to a public server.

Given that a third party noticed and reported this file was available, it's safe to assume that someone preserved a copy of it. And just like that, Mozilla became the latest to allow its users to become the victim of a security bungle.
[Submitted by Christo [PCD]]

1 1294040112 Mozill

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Wednesday 24 March 2010
ADSL uncapped at R219 per month
MaTiCa , Wednesday 24 March 2010 - 12:24:43 //

MWEB aims to ‘free the web’ with the lowest prices ever on uncapped ADSL accounts

An online social media campaign called ‘Free The Web’ has over the past few days gained momentum, sparking speculation that one of the larger companies are planning something big.

A Facebook page was created with the message “We're frustrated by the limitations of the internet in SA. Let's celebrate the greatness of the web and call for a change! Join us and be the first to know when we succeed in our cause to Free The Web in SA!?

This Facebook page quickly grew in popularity through both word of mouth and an aggressive advertising campaign, and has to date attracted over 13,000 fans.

The company behind the initiative, which was until recently unknown, said that “Our grand plan is announced in just a few days time (today).?

MWEB unveils their plan

It has now been revealed that MWEB was behind this social media campaign, and the announcement was indeed significant: Uncapped ADSL bandwidth at affordable rates.

“On 22 March 2010, MWEB will launch a series of affordable uncapped ADSL products in the South African market targeted at both consumers and businesses,? the company said in a press statement.

The product offerings are as follows:

MWEB Connect (Consumer product; month-to-month)

1. Uncapped ADSL 384kbps: R219
2. Uncapped ADSL 512kbps: R299
3. Uncapped ADSL 4096kbps: R539

All inclusive

1. Uncapped All-inclusive 384kbps: R349
2. Uncapped All-inclusive 512kbps: R599
3. Uncapped All-inclusive 4096kbps: R899

MWEB BUSINESS (Business product; 12 month contract)

1. Uncapped ADSL 384kbps: R499
2. Uncapped ADSL 512kbps: R699
3. Uncapped ADSL 4096kbps: R1 999

All-inclusive

1. Uncapped All-inclusive 384kbps: R629
2. Uncapped All-inclusive 512kbps: R999
3. Uncapped All-inclusive 4096kbps: R2 259


Official Press Release:

South Africans are today a step closer to being able to use the internet like the rest of the world does as MWEB, South Africa’s leading ISP, today launches a full range of uncapped ADSL packages for consumers and businesses at an affordable, highly competitive price. With products priced from R219 per month and some 40% cheaper than other offerings, MWEB is the first major player in South Africa to offer uncapped ADSL on a significant scale, available 24 hours a day, with all the value-added products, technical back-up and a world-class network – at an affordable price.

Rudi Jansen, MWEB CEO, says the time has come for South Africans to experience unlimited internet access that is within their means. “Internet penetration in South Africa remains below par - in fact, South Africa has fallen behind a number of other African countries in recent times. The lack of well-priced, generously-provisioned bandwidth has been holding us all back, and as a result we are missing out on an immense economic opportunity.

“In his state of the nation address last month, President Jacob Zuma promised to increase broadband access, reduce tariffs and ensure a high standard of internet service, in line with international norms. MWEB’s latest move is supportive of the government’s objectives to increase internet take-up as part of its efforts to encourage greater economic growth and social upliftment. By lifting the usage cap and increasing competition, MWEB will greatly assist the industry change that is needed in this country.

ICT industry analyst, Arthur Goldstuck, agrees with this sentiment, saying cheap, unlimited broadband by MWEB marks a key shift in South African Internet history. “It has been proven that accessible technology builds the economy. This is the kind of catalyst we’ve all waited for; we hope it's the gambit all other providers will have to match. If it delivers what it promises, the consumer and business user and ultimately the country will be the beneficiaries.?

Vast benefits
Citing the examples of France and South Korea and pointing to various global ICT programmes aimed at overcoming the 2009 economic slump, Jansen says the direct and indirect benefits including the multiplier effect of cheap, abundant bandwidth are nothing short of remarkable.

“Broadband lifted South Korea out of the devastation of the Asian market collapse in 1997,? he says. “In 1995, 1% of their population dialed up to the Internet. In 2009, more than 95% of households had broadband. The change is deep and irreversible - everybody has high-definition video on demand. Online gaming conventions are as big as soccer matches or rock concerts. South Koreans spend twice as much per capita online as US citizens.?

South Africa’s turn
Jansen says MWEB hopes its actions are a precursor to a meaningful industry response. Since South African telecoms policy was liberalised to permit ISPs to offer services on their own networks, MWEB, a first-tier ISP with its own international bandwidth provisioned through SAT3 and Seacom, is now able to compete with telcos by providing Internet access on its own network.

“In spite of the current stranglehold that Telkom currently has on the internet market in South Africa, we felt that action of this significance was necessary to get South Africa to join the rest of the world and enjoy the social and economic benefits that broadband internet has to offer,? said Jansen. “This offer will enable South Africans to access and download content on scale never seen before. We have a real chance to lift ourselves from broadband mediocrity in South Africa, or we risk falling into broadband oblivion,? he added.

MWEB has invested significantly in its network to produce a top quality, reliable network that has been engineered to world-class standards and which will accommodate the volume of traffic expected. MWEB recently achieved Tier-1 ISP status with the migration of its customers to its own IPC network, thereby limiting its reliance on other Tier-1 providers for its bandwidth needs. With its new IPC link, MWEB will have more control over its ADSL network. Jansen said he is confident that the additional control will mean better performance and higher service levels.
“We will also be utilising bandwidth on both the SAT3 and SEACOM international cable systems in order to have full redundancy on our international bandwidth,? he said. “We signed up with SEACOM in March for a long-term agreement and we are purchasing significant bandwidth as SEACOM provides MWEB with a very attractive solution for international network capacity, at the best price currently available to the South African market.?

He added however, that for any ADSL service to be successful a close working relationship with Telkom is needed as they still control the last mile. MWEB will continue to work with Telkom to ensure MWEB subscribers receive the best possible network experience in the country.

Packages
MWEB is introducing six data-only ADSL packages for consumers and businesses. The consumer data-only products will cost R219, R299 and R539 per month for line speeds of 384Kbps, 512 Kbps and 4Mbps respectively. The MWEB Business data-only offerings will cost R499 per month for a 384Kbps line, R699 per month for a 512Kbps line, and R1 999 per month on a 4Mbps line. These services are available on any line rental package available from Telkom, even Telkom’s “Closer? subscription bundles.

In addition, MWEB will offer three consumer all-inclusive packages (ADSL line rental included) for R349, R599 and R899 per month for line speeds of 384Kbps, 512 Kbps and 4Mbps respectively. The all-inclusive offerings for businesses will cost R629 for the 384kbps option, R999 for the 512Kbps option and R2 259 for the 4Mbps package.

All business products are unshaped, and as in the rest of the world, no bandwidth caps will apply to any of these services.

Business-grade

The MWEB Business products are specifically designed to suit the needs of small and medium sized businesses, usually seen as 5 or more connected devices. Andre Joubert, GM of MWEB Business, explains that the MWEB Business packages are fully managed. “If something goes wrong, MWEB’s support engineers will remotely log on to fix a router or send an engineer on-site at no additional charge, and also liaise with Telkom, for their portion of the fault.?

Joubert says the Business packages have other advantages too.
- They are unshaped.
- The service is designed to cater for the throughput of business applications not usually associated with consumer products
- MWEB includes use of a business-grade router worth R3 999 in the 12-month contract.
- The product comes with fixed IP addresses, offering the ability to host servers and deploy a VPN connection.
- MWEB runs a dedicated call centre that offers business-specific technical skills.
- The service is fully MWEB VoIP compatible.
- The product comes with reports and proactive fault communication.

In addition, says Joubert, while MWEB Business packages are at a premium compared to consumer products, they’re still up to R1 800 less per month than comparative business products on offer. The throughput will be better than is currently available in the market.

?Now businesses can run more effectively without having to worry about their internet costs. This is set to drive growth in the SME sector in particular.?

Consolidation

MWEB will use the occasion to consolidate its numerous ADSL offerings into a simpler portfolio. On the consumer side, a number of capped packages prevail, but these will enjoy additional cost-savings. For example:
1GB R89 no frills now costs R69
2GB Data Cap Only will be migrated to 3GB at R145
1GB All-inclusive 384Kbps will be migrated to 2GB at R199

Source: http://mybroadband.co.za/news/adsl/11816.html

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Thursday 10 December 2009
Facebook's New Privacy Settings: 5 Things You Should Know
MaTiCa , Thursday 10 December 2009 - 19:16:11 //

Facebook has begun rolling out its new privacy settings to all of its 350 million users. If you haven't seen it already, you will soon have to go through a wizard that will guide you through the process of confirming your privacy settings.

The new settings are supposed to make it easier and simpler to control your information, but the changes are drawing a mix of criticism and praise from privacy watchdogs such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California (ACLU), and the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC).

The new privacy controls include some great changes, and some not-so-great changes, but here are five privacy issues you should know about as these settings roll out across Facebook.

Search Settings
When I checked my search settings this morning, the option to index my profile by public search engines had been turned on. This is despite the fact that I had explicitly turned off this setting when Facebook launched public search listings two years ago. If you don't want search engines like Google and Bing to index your profile, do yourself a favor and make sure those settings are still set the way you want them to be. To adjust your search privacy settings click on Settings>Privacy Settings>Search. If the "Allow indexing" box is checked then search engines will be able to index your information.

Password Protection Layer: Not So Good
Facebook has added a new layer of protection for changing your privacy settings. Under the new policy you will have to enter your password whenever you want to change your privacy settings. This is a smart move, and quite a common policy with other Web services.

But in my tests, this extra protection did not work very well at all. Once I had chosen to exclude my Facebook profile from public search engines, I left my privacy settings page and returned to my profile (your settings are saved automatically). But when I went back to my privacy settings, the pages were wide open with no password requirement. I tested this out on several browsers and operating systems, I also signed out and back in several times to see if that would change anything. But each time I checked my security settings were wide open. The password protection eventually came back after half an hour or so, but that was far too long. The password requirement should come back automatically or Facebook should be telling you that this setting is set to time out.

PAI Changes
Facebook is also changing what it deems to be publicly available information (PAI), with almost no recourse for the user to control this--a change that does not sit well with the EFF. Information under the PAI umbrella includes your profile picture, friends list (Facebook says the view friends link has been removed from search results), fan pages, gender, geographic region, and networks (school, work, etc.). There is almost no recourse to protect any of this information. To illustrate how important this setting could be, the EFF points out that you may belong to a fan page that supports or condemns gay marriage. Since this is such a controversial issue, that may be a position you are not willing to share with co-workers, fellow church members, or other Facebook friends.

Friends List
Although your friends list is technically under the PAI umbrella, you can still control who sees it. But controls for this information are found on your Facebook profile page -- not your privacy settings. If you want to restrict who sees your friends list within Facebook, click on the pencil icon next to your Friends widget below your profile picture, and uncheck the box that says "Show my friends on my profile."

Other information you can remove from your profile page includes your gender and current city.

Hyper Control
While Facebook is taking away some control over publicly available information, you are getting extreme control over other parts of your Facebook profile. Now you can restrict who sees your shared content on a per-post basis. Don't want certain friends to see your latest update? No problem. Need to keep those photos of you at the bar away from your co-workers? You can do that too.

Facebook's new privacy settings are a mixed bag of better and simpler controls over some information, while loosening the restrictions on others. Of course, if you don't want some of that information to appear, you can always delete it from Facebook (you cannot delete your gender, but you can make it invisible). Facebook's privacy controls may not be perfect, but they will urge users to think even harder about what they're sharing on Facebook, and ultimately that may be a good thing.

SOURCE: PCWorld

Facebook Main Page Thumb Original

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Tuesday 08 December 2009
Google search goes real-time
MaTiCa , Tuesday 08 December 2009 - 13:03:15 //

Google has moved to head off some of the threat from young rivals such as Twitter and Facebook by announcing plans to prominently display results from social networking sites in its search pages.

The new development, which the Californian technology giant dubs "real-time search", aims to bring users more up-to-date information as they scour the web for information. Over the next few days, anybody searching online using Google will see their traditional search results augmented by a string of constantly updating messages drawn from social networks, news sites and blogs.

The move is part of a wider push to make Google's search index even faster and more up to date, as people increasingly use services like Twitter to transmit information about events as they happen.

Google executive Amit Singhal said that with more information being put on the web every day, it was vital that the company learned how to give users the most relevant results - and as quickly as possible.

"Information is being posted at a pace I have never seen before," he said. "In this information environment, seconds matter."

As well as watching for developments on news sites, Google is working closely with Twitter, Facebook and MySpace to include updates from their users - and Singhal said he would not rule out any potential source of up-to-the-second information in the future.

Though executives were keen to use the launch event - which was held near the company's headquarters in Mountain View, California - as a display of power, it was also intended to quieten growing speculation that an inability to conduct real time searches could become Google's achilles heel.

Some critics have posited that websites like Facebook and Twitter could eventually rival Google, thanks to their ability to tap into millions of public messages being sent constantly between individuals. That threat comes in addition to more traditional search engines like Microsoft's Bing.com have threatened to forge exclusive deals with some content providers as a way to claw back market share.

Instead, Google has acted to bring those services into the fold, though it would neither confirm nor deny whether there was a financial relationship behinds its links with social networking sites. Not everybody thinks the move was make or break for Google, however, even if it gives users more timely information.

"There's no doubt that it's good to have," said Danny Sullivan, a prominent observer of Google's activities, writing on his SearchEngineLand website. "It's incredibly difficult to be a leading information source and yet when there's an earthquake, people are instead turning to Twitter for confirmation faster than traditional news sources on Google can provide."

The company also used the event to unveil a number of other advances it said were significant technological advances.

These included an experimental program called Google Goggles that allows users to take a photograph of an object or product and ask Google what it is, getting a selection of information back just as if they had conducted a web search on the item in question.

Vic Gundotra, the company's vice-president of engineering, said there were already more than a billion items stored in the company's systems and that there were fierce ambitions to make this technology - which has eluded experts for generations - as widely available as possible.

"Today marks the beginning of this journey," he said. "It's our goal to be able to visually identify any image."

Gundotra also showcased a forthcoming translation product which allows users to speak any phrase into a mobile phone and then translate it, almost instantly, into any one of a number of languages. The resulting phrase could then be spoken back by Google through the phone's speaker, potentially allowing travellers to use any high-end handset as a universal translation device. The first elements of the software should be available to the public in the first quarter of 2010.

The company said such technologies were possible thanks to improvements in speed and power, but added that there were more plans coming soon - and that the ultimate goal was to make searching for information as fast as physically possible.

"It takes one 10th of a second for light to travel around the world," said Singhal. "At Google we will only be satisfied until that is the only barrier between you and information."

SOURCE: guardian.co.uk

1


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Monday 07 December 2009
Facebook now has 350m users - and there's no point in advertising to them
MaTiCa , Monday 07 December 2009 - 12:10:26 //

It was announced last week that the population of Facebook now exceeds that of America. Since mid-September the social networking service has added 50 million users, which means it now finds itself with 350 million of them. I am sure that Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, takes the same view of his subscribers as PG Wodehouse attributed to the male codfish – "which, suddenly finding itself the parent of three million five hundred thousand little codfish, cheerfully resolves to love them all". But even Zuckerberg must be wondering how he can monetise the little darlings.

There they are, cavorting in the corner of cyberspace so thoughtfully (and expensively) provided by him, where they post photographs of themselves in embarrassing situations, write affectionate or silly messages on one another's "walls", become "fans" of obscure comedians, join witty "groups" to support the Tiger Woods driving school and do other cool things too numerous to list. And all without paying a cent!

It can't go on like this, can it? The software-engineering and server-farm infrastructure needed to support 350 million users burns money, and so does the bandwidth they use. Zuckerberg is not a philanthropist, well, not yet, anyway – though if Facebook does eventually go public, he might be rich enough to give money away. At the moment he runs a private company ostensibly valued by its most recent investors at $10bn (£6bn). And yet, to date, its revenues (which might just stretch to $500m this year) have not quite matched the expectations implicit in that colossal valuation.

Facebook is the most glaring example of an unsolved puzzle: how to convert social networking into a sustainable business. Twitter, the micro-blogging service that is now in a runaway growth phase, poses the same puzzle. In September it raised $100m in investment funding at a price that valued it at nearly $1bn. And yet, unlike Facebook, Twitter has not yet earned a cent. In 2008, Time Warner bought Bebo, another social networking site, for $850m, which was 42.5 times its revenues at the time. In 2005, Rupert Murdoch paid $580m for My Space, whose 2009 revenues have been "flat" according to a JP Morgan report, which adds that the site "continues to face challenges monetising its large audience. We see more headwinds ahead as remnant inventory pricing is declining and competition makes it more difficult to reach meaningful profitability."

The truth is that investing in social networking represents the triumph of hope over experience. The optimism comes from a feeling that it's impossible to gather, say, 350 million people in one place and not somehow make money. In the real world, one would charge them admission and sell them hot dogs and overpriced T-shirts. But that doesn't work in cyberspace. If Facebook started to charge for membership, its population would dwindle to the number of people who think that its services are worth paying for – probably not that many.

The conventional wisdom used to be that the key to online revenues was advertising. That, after all, is how Google got to where it is. But it turns out that Google is a special case because it specialises in search, the only area where online advertising really works. The explanation is obvious: people searching for something are likely to be deeply interested in the results, and are therefore more likely to click through to an advertiser. But in other situations – say when browsing web pages – advertising is peripheral and we have become very good at ignoring it. In 2007, the market research firm ComScore reported that 32% of internet users clicked on banner ads in a given month. By 2009, that number had fallen to 16%. ComScore also concluded that a hard core of 8% of all internet users – christened "Natural Born Clickers" – are responsible for 85% of all banner clicks on the web.

Everyone who uses the web has experience of the ineffectiveness of online advertising. If it's obtrusive, it's an irritant that gets between you and the content you're seeking and you hit the "Click here to skip this advertisement" button. If it's unobtrusive, you ignore it. Either way, it's ineffective. You can't build an industry on Natural Born Clickers. The inescapable conclusion is that anyone who thinks advertising is the key to sustainable online businesses in any field other than search should think again.

SOURCE: guardian.co.uk

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