Monthly Archives: July 2014

How Malware Almost Took Over NASDAQ

Posted on July 17, 2014 by - Uncategorized

No one likes malware. For the normal Internet browser, malware can come in many different forms and affect many different areas of personal computing. Basically, malware is any malicious software where its whole purpose is to disrupt, destroy, steal or corrupt any computer operation. That’s a pretty broad definition, but most people have heard about viruses, Trojan horses, worms, spyware, adware, etc.

Infected by Malware.

Infected by Malware.

Some malware is basic and created simply to annoy. Others have far reaching possibilities. Like manipulating stock exchanges and nuclear weapons capabilities.

“Widely believed to be a joint project of the U.S. and Israel, Stuxnet [worm] temporarily disabled Iran’s uranium-processing facility at Natanz in 2010. It switched off safety mechanisms, causing the centrifuges at the heart of a refinery to spin out of control,” reported Bloomberg Businessweek.

Although that action seemed to be for the betterment of mankind, what happens when it goes the other way? In October of 2010, the FBI noticed an abnormality within the NASDAQ Stock Market, an American stock exchange.

“It looked like malware had snuck into the company’s central servers. There were indications that the intruder was not a kid somewhere, but the intelligence agency of another country. More troubling still: When the U.S. experts got a better look at the malware, they realized it was attack code, designed to cause damage,” reported Michael Riley.

Over the next five months, joint law enforcement efforts came together and disrupted the malware hack. However, the actual details are still not known. The case has never fully been reported and no one has been authorized to speak on the record from the U.S. Government.

“Like all cyber cases, it’s complex and involves evidence and facts that evolve over time,” said FBI Assistant Director George Venizelos.

Remember the Early Web?

Posted on July 16, 2014 by - Uncategorized

The World Wide Web (WWW or W3) has changed a lot over the past 20 years. Some similarities remain though.

The World Wide Web (WWW or W3) has changed a lot over the past 20 years. Some similarities remain though.

If you showed anyone under the age of 18 a 1990’s website interface, it would probably be as unfamiliar as an original Gameboy, typewriter, or record player.

Despite the fact that Millennials have grown up with the World Wide Web, the early Web is just as much of an artifact as any other piece of old technology. Especially to those born in the mid-late 90’s and it most certainly wouldn’t be recognizable to anyone born after the turn of the century.

The Atlantic recently wrote an article on How Coolness Defined the World Wide Web of the 1990’s. They gave a brief overview of when “cool” started and what makes something cool in American culture. The early Web only further pushed the concept of cool:

“Maybe today’s users find the early web’s preoccupation with cool to seem little more than the juvenile boasting of Internet novices. But a closer look at sites like Cool Site of the Day, and the countless other cool directories like Netscape’s “What’s Cool?” and Yahoo!’s Cool Sites listing, might actually tell us something about how and why networked technology and digital culture forged such an enduring link to the concept of cool.”

Although the “cool” 1990’s World Wide Web seems ancient and futile when compared to the 2014 Web, which consists of social media, mobile-responsive websites, photo-shopped pictures, videos and more than previously imagined, the purposeless content still remains! It now comes in the form of Buzz Feed quizzes, celebrity and athlete watching, and worthless smartphone apps.

The difference? As The Atlantic points out:

“…work produced by amateurs was featured alongside that of IT professionals, and the most trivial content sat side-by-side with useful productivity tools.”

Today’s Web has more content that can be easily accessed, the importance of that content is more easily discerned, and most importantly, we can discover what’s popular and newsworthy without having to wander through hundreds of hypertext links.

The Web is always changing. And it’s changing at a rapid pace. What it will look like 10, 15, 20 years from now we can only imagine.

If you remember, what was your favorite 90’s website? Give us your thoughts here!

Brands Matter—Ask LeBron

Posted on July 11, 2014 by - Uncategorized

The entire basketball world has come to a halt this week as four-time NBA MVP LeBron James decides hit future in terms of what city’s team he will be joining. Most of the experts and pundits have concluded his choice is down to two places: Cleveland or Miami.

LeBron understands the power of branding.

LeBron understands the power of branding.

While the anticipation and speculation continues to escalate, LeBron’s value only increases. How? Because of his personal branding strategy. Consumers and fans love being a part of something. They enjoy having some connection to star power, regardless of how far away they actually are.

Merchandise, for example, is an easy way to be “right alongside LeBron.” You can buy a jersey with his name and number on the back. You can buy his shoes, T-shirts, sweatbands, buy the drinks he endorses, and even be his “friend” on social media. (You know there’s a powerful brand when LeBron’s website has its own Twitter handle.)

The numbers don’t lie: “Nike LeBron Brand Hits $300 million in sales for 2012,” reported nikelebron.com. And that’s mostly just shoe sales.

It’s not just sports stars that understand the value of branding. Beyonce has a clothing line, Shakira  perfume. It never ends. When people love someone, they tend to buy whatever that person supports or endorses.

For companies operating in the digital environment, branding is paramount. Reputation management practices must be implemented so consumers trust your business and want to use you in the future. An extremely strong band will do just that.

Word of Mouth Advertising is Dead

Posted on July 10, 2014 by - Uncategorized

Or at least it could be argued that it has evolved to a point that it is unrecognizable in its current format. Here’s how it used to work: before mobile devices completely changed how consumers found information, shopped and communicated, if you wanted to find inside information, you had to ask.

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Usually, this meant getting the opinion, recommendation or review from a friend, neighbor or co-worker. The reason word of mouth was so dominate for so long was because you knew the source. It wasn’t a billboard telling you they had the best service and rates. It was a friend. You trusted them.

Now in the true digital age of our human existence, we want the same reliable results, without the time and hassle of having to inquire or ask. That desire has lead to review sites and local listings information, where complete strangers share their experiences and curious consumers eat it up.

One of the main reasons local review sites work so well is because of the law of averages. Let’s say there are 50 reviews about a restaurant online. Sure, there could be a handful that were manipulated. Maybe a competitor posted a bad review. Maybe a customer just caught the establishment at the wrong short-staffed and busy time. But if 40 people agree that the place is either good or bad, you can most likely trust that.

The second main reason is that people who post reviews usually don’t have an ulterior motive outside of sharing their experience. They don’t work for any restaurant nor do they have a “dog in the fight.” If they had a good time, they post. Bad time, even more so.

For local information there’s Yelp, Angie’s List, Citysearch, Open Table, TripAdvisor, YP, Zagat and hundreds more. Word of mouth is now written and from complete strangers. And it works and users love it.

2014 World Cup Numbers–Winners & Losers

Posted on July 9, 2014 by - Uncategorized

After today’s semi-final match between Messi’s Argentina and Robben’s Netherlands, there will only be two games left in the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The third place game doesn’t quite hold much value so really, it’s down to the ever-sought-after final. To hold the planet’s biggest prize over your head while representing your country. But was it worth it?

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Billions of fans and trillions of dollars surround the World Cup, but as the dust is starting to settle, who were the biggest winners and losers?

Jury is still out on: Brazil. The host country poured an estimated $11 billion into hosting the Cup, including constructing entirely new stadiums for the event. Sure, the local economy sees a boost, but most of the ticket and merchandise revenue goes straight to FIFA, a “non-profit” with over $1 billion in the bank. Plus their star, Neymar, suffered a vertebrae injury and they lost in embarrassing fashion to Germany, 7-1.

Losers: Tourists. Yes, going to the World Cup would be worth every penny regardless of how much, but prices rose dramatically in just four years. There was a 40 percent increase in the average price of a flight and packages for the final are offered at $50,000.

Winners: Social media and advertisers. 65 percent of FIFA’s revenue is from TV rights. The World Cup was the most talked about event on every major form of social media. Those that used the Cup to showcase their products and services saw a huge increase in traffic and sales.

You Have No Internet Privacy

Posted on July 8, 2014 by - Uncategorized

This is simply a public service announcement: everything you send, share, post, like, email and/put on the Internet may be recorded and used at a later date. Oh, everyone understands and knows that, right? Do you do online banking? Have you ever sent a message you only wanted one person to read? Ever sent questionable content? Ever looked at it? Ever sent a picture? Made a phone call with a mobile device?

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For starters, understand that just because you are not a spy or terrorists doesn’t mean your digital information isn’t being stored. “Conversations intercepted by the National Security Agency are far more likely to have taken place between ordinary Internet users than legally targeted terror suspects,” reported FoxNews.com.

Another thing to consider is how data gets lumped together. When Target was hacked right before Christmas last year, all of the cards and personal information became compromised, even though law enforcement speculated that the perpetrators were only after a select few accounts.

Lastly, it’s good to understand that data doesn’t just expire online. Facebook even keeps and copies the messages you’re about to post but delete beforehand. All of your online actions, monitored and housed by government agencies and trillion dollar search engine companies.

“Once you put something on the Internet, it is there forever,” said two-time Superbowl winner Jerod Cherry.

How many people in their young 20s are expecting to run for office in their late 40s? They say your character is judged when no one is watching; perhaps that should be an online policy as well.

Google Not Allowing Adult Ads

Posted on July 7, 2014 by - Uncategorized

Online advertising has the greatest growth and potential. Compare it to a billboard—no matter how big the sign, you can only reach a certain number of people and they have to be near the sign itself. With the Internet, you have social media, app, website, SMS/Text, mobile banner advertising and more options.

The majority of revenue for search engines comes from advertising.  So with close to 30,000 people watching adult content on the Internet every second, you can imagine how much ad revenue could be generated from those enterprises. Google, however, will not be participating.

From Google’s help page: “The AdWords policies on adult sexual services, family status, and underage or non-consensual sex acts will be updated in late June 2014 to reflect a new policy on sexually explicit content. Under this policy, sexually explicit content will be prohibited, and guidelines will be clarified regarding promotion of other adult content. The change will affect all countries.”

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Anyone associated with adult content will receive a message from Google about how their service will be stopped, effective immediately. Here’s an excerpt from the letter: “We’ll no longer accept ads that promote graphic depictions of sexual acts. When we make this change, Google will disapprove all ads and sites that are identified as being in violation of our revised policy.”

No matter where you stand on pornography promotion, ads of any kind, let alone those of adult nature, should not be randomly appearing all over the browser.

Smarty Pins Change Geography Games

Posted on July 3, 2014 by - Uncategorized

If you’re not a Millennial, then you probably remember the classic geography game, “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?” (For the real nostalgia diehards, here’s the theme song from the television show. #DoItRockapella) There used to be real excitement in finding foreign cities and learning about how culture cross cuts rivers, and, “ya know, like, places n’ stuff.”

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Google is trying to bring back the fun of geography in a new feature called Smarty Pins. If you’ve used Google Maps before, chances are you’ve noticed the little balloon-shaped points that you can use to mark locations and destinations. Now, there is a game involved.

In honor of the biggest event on the planet, the World Cup (oh wait, the 2014 FIFA World Cup, trademark. The “nonprofit” entity FIFA almost lost a penny there.), there is a soccer-themed pin game.

To start the game to go here. Click on “start a new game,” and choose regular geography/general trivia or play World Cup mode. If you choose soccer-correlated trivia, you will then be given a certain amount of miles. Wrong answers, you lose miles. The goal is to get as many points or bonuses as you can before you run out of miles.

When the game starts the map will show a random country in the world. The question then requires you to place the pin on the correct city representing the answer.

For example, for research purposes, Thoughtwire played and nailed the first 6 answers. Here’s question seven: “French football star Thierry Henry left Barcelona to play for the Red Bulls. What U.S. city is home to the Red Bulls?” Move to the pin to New York and you got it. Google responded, “Outstanding! You dazzle us with your ability to know things not many people know!” Naturally.

Test your skills today. And sing the “Carmen” theme song to your co-workers throughout the day.

What’s the Deep Web?

Posted on July 2, 2014 by - Uncategorized

What if you were told that the majority of the World Wide Web was never seen or accessed by most computer users? Think of it like the surface of the ocean—seemingly endless, but compared to the depth and real volume of the ocean, the top is hardly a puddle.

DeepWebDiagram

The Deep Web, also known as Invisible Web, Hidden Web or Deepnet, is all of the Internet content that doesn’t get indexed by the major search engines, such as Yahoo, Google and Bing. If the web crawler can’t see/find/index the content, it is impossible for the browser to display that content on the SERP (search engine results page). Because the information is buried and layered on dynamically generated sites, standard and traditional crawlers can’t locate it.

How big is the Deep Web? In the early 2000s, it was estimated that the deep web was 4,000 to 5,000 times bigger than the indexed surface web. The number is assumed to be much larger now.

How do you access the deep web? With a specific search engine that would track hyperlinks through known protocol virtual port numbers. Basically, you need Tor or another Deep-Web specific browser.

What will I find there? Be careful, because of the anonymity and secrecy surrounding the Deep Web, a lot of criminals set up sites specifically for illegal activities. A famous website that was recently shut down was Silk Road, where you could buy heroin, humans and even hire a hitman. Law enforcement also targets child pornography on the Deep Web that has been known to be beyond prevalent.

For the really curious, Patrick O’Neill’s “How to Search the Deep Web” can be found here.

Supreme Court Tells Google to Face Justice

Posted on July 1, 2014 by - Uncategorized

It feels a lot like, “what goes around comes around,” at least for those of us in the search engine optimization (SEO) profession. You see, the search giant Google pretty much dictates how we do our job. Algorithm overhauls come out of nowhere and we are told to simply adapt our strategies and plans to meet Google’s changes that are for “better Internet browsing.” And that’s fine; most would agree that combating spam and viruses is a good thing. But sometimes, like dropping rel=”Author,” the change is made for financial reasons. Either way, outside of the digital universe that Google seemingly controls, there is a real world. Where courts and laws and prosecutors attempt do to the same thing: make restrictions on actions and punish those that disobey.

The U.S. Supreme Court will not hear Google case.

The U.S. Supreme Court will not hear Google case.

Google is back in court. Last month it was reported by Thoughtwire about the search engine’s ongoing legal battles in Europe and South America. The judgments and rulings have not gone in the favor of Google. Now it’s finally hit home.

“The plaintiff class argues that Google violated federal wiretapping laws when it intercepted their email and other communications during Street View data collection,” reported Greg Sterling following up on a Wall Street Journal article about the case.

That doesn’t sound good. No, that sounds absolutely deplorable. Instead of the cute little street view cars taking pictures and videos to help us better map out our lives, imagine roaming, data-collecting cyborgs that will steal your confidential and personal information.

“[Google] collected ‘payload’ data that was being sent on unsecured Wi-Fi networks when the Google cars drove by. Such data can include emails, usernames and passwords sent over the Internet,” reported Brent Kendall of The Wall Street Journal.

Google tried to challenge the class-action lawsuit, but the U.S. Supreme Court won’t consider it. Maybe Google needs even more expensive lawyers? Or maybe American freedom isn’t for sale.