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Internet News

January 20, 2011

Amazon snaps up Lovefilm

by Darren Allan
You might recall, if you were an Amazon rental DVD subscriber a couple of years back, that Lovefilm originally took over the online shopping giant's DVD service. And now Amazon is buying it back, as it were – well, the company is actually buying the rest of Lovefilm, as it already owns a 42% stake. According to Sky News, ...

January 19, 2011

Alex Epstein unleashes online media email storm!

by Brian Turner
Alex Epstein has been fired from the apprentice, so he's looking for a new direction. So like any other job seeker, this morning he mass emailed his personal marketing message to nearly 800 different editors and journalists from all across Britain's online media, and left every single email address visible. Oops. He also appears to have used some kind of email harvester program ...

Sophos points to social networking threats

by Darren Allan
Security firm Sophos has released its annual Security Threat Report, detailing what happened in the world of malware and phishing in 2010. One of the most interesting discoveries is the continual increase in scams targeted at social networks, a pretty inevitable upsurge given the huge popularity of Facebook. Sophos questioned social network users as to whether they had experienced spam, ...

Google doodle marks Paul Cezanne’s 172nd birthday

by Darren Allan
Google has marked the 172nd birthday of the French post-Impressionist painter Paul Cezanne with a doodle. Born in 1839, some of Cezanne's most famous works included portraits and self-portraits, landscapes and still life work often involving fruit. Indeed, Google's doodle is quite similar to his “Still Life, Drapery, Pitcher, and Fruit Bowl” which was painted in the 1890s. Cezanne was ...

January 18, 2011

BBC iPlayer racked up 145m requests last month

by Darren Allan
The BBC has revealed the latest stats for the iPlayer and how it performed last month. In December 2010, the catch-up service dealt with 145 million requests, a new record for the third month in a row. November saw 141 million, and October 139 million. Year-on-year, the service is up nearly 30%, as in December 2009 the iPlayer served 114 ...

BBC’s iPlayer man Huggers bound for Intel

by Darren Allan
The BBC's Director of Future Media and Technology, Erik Huggers, is leaving for pastures Intel. He joined the Beeb back in 2007 and has since been responsible for overseeing all things online, including the iPlayer, interactive TV, mobile and various other technological projects. He's been snapped up by Intel as Corporate VP and General Manager of the company's Digital Home ...

Facebook rethinks new contact details policy for app devs

by Darren Allan
Last Friday, Facebook implemented a change to its system whereby application developers could request access to a user's contact details. When you download a third-party app, you're probably familiar with the box that pops up asking for permission to access basic information such as your name, gender and user ID. An additional section was added to this which asked for ...

Threat of “cyber-war” has been exaggerated

by Darren Allan
Towards the end of last year, we heard speeches from GCHQ and a government minister which stressed the need for robust cyber-defences. Spending on the UK's cyber-security has remained a priority despite cuts, with GCHQ Director Iain Lobban claiming that there's a very real threat to critical national infrastructure from cyber-terrorism. Defence Minister Nick Harvey even compared a laptop to ...

January 15, 2011

Wikipedia is 10 years old today

by Darren Allan
Online encyclopedia and font of all (sometimes slightly dubious) knowledge is celebrating its tenth birthday today. Yes, Wikipedia was set up at the start of 2001. The encyclopedia relies on its users to write and edit articles, a system which has worked remarkably well, although occasionally leads to inaccuracy or abuse. Founder of the site Jimmy Wales recorded a Wikipedia ...

January 13, 2011

Murdoch looks to offload MySpace

by Darren Allan
In a none too surprising turn of events, it seems that News Corporation is looking to sell or spinout MySpace. It's no secret that MySpace has been struggling since Facebook steamrollered past it a couple of years back, although it has tried to stay relevant with a recent revamp as a content led “social entertainment” site. How successful that move ...

January 12, 2011

Myspace cuts half its staff for site restructure

by Tom Coyne
Myspace has announced that it means to cut half of its work force due to a massive site restructure. “These changes were purely driven by issues related to our legacy business, and in no way reflect the performance of our new product” Myspace CEO Mike Jones stated regarding Myspace's transformation from a social networking site to a hub for entertainment and ...

Teachers receiving Facebook abuse from pupils and parents

by Darren Allan
It's not easy being a teacher these days, by all accounts, and social networking sites aren't helping. Apparently sites like Facebook are being used more and more to initiate personal attacks on teaching staff, and spread unsubstantiated rumours and allegations. Not just by pupils, but also by parents angry at the treatment (or perhaps punishment) their child has received. So ...

Study uncovers extent of direct download piracy

by Darren Allan
According to recent research, digital piracy isn't all about torrents, but actually direct download sites are bigger offenders. MarkMonitor, an expert in “brand protection”, conducted the study using a small sample of 22 brands across the web, searching for counterfeit goods (such as fake handbags) as well as pirated material (movies, music, games, e-books and so on). It found that ...

January 11, 2011

MySpace sheds almost half of employees

by Darren Allan
Ailing social networking site MySpace has announced that it will have to lose nearly half of its staff. In total, 500 jobs will go, C-net reports in what the MySpace CEO Mike Jones dubbed a “significant organizational restructuring.” C-net quoted Jones as saying: “Today's tough but necessary changes were taken in order to provide the company with a clear path ...

Irish opposition party Fine Gael’s site gets hacked

by Darren Allan
Irish political party Fine Gael's site was hacked on Sunday evening. Something in the order of 2,000 people's personal details were stolen in the attack on the site, according to a report in the Guardian. Fine Gael states that the attack was carried out by the “Anonymous group.” The full statement on the party's website read: “The Fine Gael website ...

January 10, 2011

Online Christmas sales hit an all time high.

by Tom Coyne
The e-commerce industry has recently emerged from recession, according to online customer experience firm Tealeaf, after revealing that online Christmas sales hit 2.8 billion pounds in 2010. Tealeaf has found that 44 per cent of adults in the UK have increased there online shopping since 2009. 58 percent of online shoppers claim that using the internet is a more convinient medium for ...

Global spam levels witness a resurgence

by Darren Allan
Last week, security firm Symantec noted a large and continued drop in spam levels since Christmas. Spam levels were at 75 billion messages a day worldwide at the start of December, and on Christmas day 2010, they more than halved to 30 billion. And the big spam freeze continued throughout the new year, with numbers flatlining at that level ...

Facebook to close in March hoax

by Darren Allan
A blatantly untrue rumour has swept the net since yesterday: Facebook will close in March of this year. The “story” is believed to have originated at the US website the Weekly World News, according to the Daily Mail. The Weekly World News joke article states that Zuckerberg is all ready to close the social networking site because managing it has ...

OFT moves against Twitter celeb endorsements

by Darren Allan
When is a tweet not a tweet? When it's a thinly veiled promotional attempt at endorsing a product by a celebrity who has been paid to do so. The Office of Fair Trading has issued a statement which makes the point that online advertising and marketing practices which don't disclose the fact that they are paid-for promotions are regarded ...

January 9, 2011

Forums flooded with spam, reCaptcha hacked?

by Brian Turner
The New Year has seen an unwelcome development, in the form of massive spamming against online forums. While forum owners are used to having to deal with spam, the past week has seen a veritable flood far in excess of normal volumes. The result has been that vbulletin, one of the biggest forum software providers, has been forced to make a ...

January 6, 2011

50,000 hacked iTunes accounts up for auction in China

by Darren Allan
It seems that hacked iTunes accounts are being flogged off at TaoBao.com, the Chinese equivalent of eBay. The Global Times reports that some 50,000 illegal accounts are on the go, for asking prices between 1 and 200 yuan (around $30). For your $30, you get $200 worth of “credit” on iTunes which you ...

Spam levels dropped at Christmas

by Darren Allan
Global spam levels have plummeted over the last couple of weeks, according to one security firm. Symantec has been keeping a close watch on spam levels, which dropped like turkeys over the Christmas period. In fact, Symantec reckons there were 200 billion spam messages flying around in August of last year, which steadily dropped to around 75 billion at the ...

January 5, 2011

Anonymous goes after Tunisian government

by Darren Allan
Net freedom fighting activists Anonymous have picked on a new target this week, Tunisian government websites. According to a report from security experts Sophos, Operation Tunisia has taken down the official government website, and a number of others including the site of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, using denial of service attacks. The attacks began on Monday, and the ...

January 4, 2011

Microsoft Hotmail glitch affected 17,000 users

by Darren Allan
Microsoft has posted up an apology regarding the Hotmail glitch which struck on December 30th, and resulted in the deletion of many users emails and folders. The problem occurred globally, and Microsoft said that over 17,000 customers were affected in total. The issue was caused by mailbox load balancing between servers, which evidently went very wrong. Microsoft's Chris Jones issued ...

BT Content Connect tramples on net neutrality?

by Darren Allan
BT has been accused of leading the charge towards a two-tier Internet where certain content is prioritised with fast lanes via the introduction of a new service called Content Connect. Content Connect is a BT Wholesale product which is designed to allow ISPs to deliver streaming video content more effectively across the net. BT explains: “This is achieved by connecting ...

January 1, 2011

Hotmail accounts suffer lost emails

by Brian Turner
A number of Hotmail users are reporting that late on New Years Eve their emails and email folders appeared to have been deleted. Instead, their Hotmail account simply contains a welcome message standard to new accounts. The problem is not specific to any particular country, and has caused a mass of complaints to be posted to the official Hotmail forums. While Hotmail staff ...

December 23, 2010

Skype blackout causes misery for millions

by Brian Turner
Internet VoIP provider Skype has admitted that it is still losing around half of calls made through its network, after the service blacked out last night. Problems began around 8:30 yesterday evening, when a series of Skype's "supernodes" for helping connect numbers began to fail. In effect, Skype was unable to identify how to connect its own telephone numbers. While Skype engineers ...

December 20, 2010

Lord Chief Justice rules tweeting acceptable in court

by Darren Allan
The recent controversy over the use of Twitter in UK courts has prompted the Lord Chief Justice to make an interim ruling on the matter. The decision comes after last week, when during two cases involving Julian Assange's bail and appeal, two separate judges both allowed and banned tweeting from the courtroom. The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, has ruled ...

Government considers pornography ban for ISPs

by Darren Allan
The government's latest thinking on Internet regulation involves getting ISPs to block pornography websites by default. Ed Vaizey has been talking to the Sunday Times, and he told the paper the move would be to protect children from adult content on the net. Any surfer who wanted to view adult websites would have to contact their ISP and notify them; ...

December 19, 2010

Facebook leaks Memories, goes offline for 30 minutes

by Darren Allan
There was a bit of a spherical object dropped down at the Facebook offices on Friday, with the website going down for close to half an hour while the mess was cleared up, according to a BBC report. This was caused while the site was tinkering with redesigned brand pages and a new page management feature. Product prototypes were ...

December 18, 2010

Tweeting stopped by judge in Assange case

by Darren Allan
The question of the usage of Twitter by those attending court hearings has again come to the forefront of the news this week, with the Julian Assange affair. The appeal hearing over Assange's bail took place yesterday at the High Court, and Mr Justice Ouseley said WikiLeaks' supporters and journalists could not using the micro-blogging service to post minute-by-minute ...

December 17, 2010

Oldest Facebook user is 103-year-old great-gran

by Darren Allan
A woman from Tenby is thought to be the oldest member of social networking site, Facebook. A BBC News report highlighted Lillian Lowe, who is 103-years-old, and now thought to be the eldest member of the site after Ivy Bean from Bradford, 104 (who was also a big tweeter) passed away this summer. Lillian used to run a hotel, but ...

December 16, 2010

Piracy cost the UK music industry £1bn this year

by Darren Allan
The BPI's latest report on the theatre of digital music, as compiled by Harris Interactive, has highlighted a big – albeit unrealistically inflated – number at the centre of the piracy debate. The report estimates that pirated tracks accounted for three-quarters of all music downloads this year, and that this cost the industry close to £1 billion. But as the ...

Gawker hack prompts widespread password changes

by Darren Allan
The hack at Gawker Media earlier this week, which exposed some 1.3 million user names, emails and passwords, has caused quite a stir. While the passwords were encrypted, a good deal of them were easily brute forced, as security firm Duo Security illustrated by the use of simple cracking tools. They quickly cracked a third of the passwords spilled, ...

Google doodle celebrates Jane Austen’s 235th birthday

by Darren Allan
The latest author to be celebrated by a Google doodle is Jane Austen, who was born on this day in 1775. Austen wrote a number of very famous works, including Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Emma and Mansfield Park. The doodle is of an upper class gent and lady against a countryside backdrop, possibly Darcy and Elizabeth from Pride ...

December 15, 2010

Facebook linked to 100,000 UK crimes

by Darren Allan
How many crimes do you think social networking site Facebook can be linked to in the UK? Aside from publicising Cher and Wagner from the X-Factor as the number two and three most popular status update terms in its 2010 statistics round-up, of course. Well, the Daily Mail has the answer, and that answer is quite surprising: Some 100,000 crimes ...

Mark Zuckerberg is Time’s Person of the Year 2010

by Darren Allan
Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, has been named Time magazine's Person of the Year for 2010. Zuckerberg is the second youngest person to achieve the title at the age of twenty-six. Charles Lindbergh was only a year younger when he was named back in 1927. Time wrote: “In less than seven years, Zuckerberg wired together a twelfth of humanity ...

Top Facebook trends for the UK

by Darren Allan
With the end of the year rapidly approaching, 'tis the season for rushed shopping, mammoth queues at the post office, and updates on the trendiest searches and most mentioned terms on the likes of Google, Twitter and Facebook. Yesterday, we reported on Facebook's most used terms for status updates globally, which was led by the American acronym HMU (Hit ...

December 14, 2010

Facebook announces most popular status trends

by Darren Allan
We've had Google's Zeitgeist list of popular search terms for 2010, and then Twitter's trendiest trends for the year. And now it's Facebook's turn to announce what's been fab in 2010. The social networking site has produced a list of its most popular trends when it comes to status updates throughout this year. So what was the most used term ...

Anonymous starts fax attacks

by Darren Allan
Anonymous has opened up another front in its WikiLeaks war, aside from denial of service attacks on those who have cut ties with the whistle blowing site. The loose collective of Internet freedom fighting activists has turned to the humble fax machine to harass companies who had refused to deal with WikiLeaks such as PayPal, MasterCard and ...

Facebook produces world friendship map

by Darren Allan
Facebook has produced a map which shows the geographical relationships between its half a billion members on a global scale. Paul Butler, an Intern on Facebook's Data Infrastructure Engineering Team, produced the visualisation by plotting friend relationships between pairs of cities. In a blog post, Butler explains: “I defined weights for each pair of cities as a function of the ...

Amazon Windowshop, redesigned site for the iPad

by Darren Allan
Amazon UK has launched Windowshop, which is effectively a redesign of its online shopping site for browsers on the Apple iPad. Apparently Amazon Windowshop features an “intimate and fluid user interaction”, which almost sounds quite rude, but actually refers to the fact that it has a responsive new interface only made ...

Hacked Gawker passwords analysed

by Darren Allan
We reported yesterday on the Gawker Media hack, whereby 1.3 million user names, email addresses and passwords were exposed. While the passwords were encrypted, the security wasn't particularly difficult to crack, as experts Duo Security proved when they ran the passwords through the cracking tool, John the Ripper. Apparently there were 750,000 crackable password hashes, which in just an hour, ...

Cuba creates own version of Wikipedia

by Darren Allan
The Cuban government has decided to launch its own version of Wikipedia. The Cuban online encyclopedia (at ecured.cu) has just been launched today, although it won't feature a model of opening editing as Wikipedia does. Instead, according to a BBC report, changes will need to be approved by an administrator, although exactly who oversees the content vetting process isn't clear. The ...

British government websites could be next Anonymous target

by Darren Allan
It seems that the websites of the British government could be the next target of online activist group Anonymous. This relates to the WikiLeaks affair, with Anonymous thus far bringing down the likes of the PayPal and MasterCard websites for refusing to deal with WikiLeaks. Anonymous has also hit Swedish government sites, the country which is trying to extradite the ...

December 13, 2010

WikiLeaks alternative OpenLeaks to open soon

by Darren Allan
An alternative site to WikiLeaks is due to open its virtual doors soon, founded by the fellow who used to be second-in-command to Julian Assange. Dominic Domscheit-Berg had a serious falling out with Assange, and left WikiLeaks when he felt the site was heading in the wrong direction. According to a report in the Independent, Domscheit-Berg said Assange was acting ...

Twitter’s trendiest trends for 2010

by Darren Allan
Last week, we heard from Google regarding Zeitgeist 2010, the most searched-for terms in various different categories on the search engine. And now it's the turn of micro-blogging site Twitter to release a list of the top trends that have sparked the most interest throughout 2010. The number one trend on Twitter this year was the Gulf oil spill. That ...

Twitter might set up HQ in London

by Darren Allan
Twitter is coming to Europe, and the UK government has had the big guns out, canvassing to push forward London as the prime location for the European Twitter HQ. According to the Telegraph, David Cameron and Boris Johnson have met with Twitter representatives, and impressed them with the case for London. The Telegraph pointed to a tweet that Katie Jacobs ...

Gawker accounts compromised, linked to Twitter spam

by Darren Allan
Gawker Media has admitted that some of its user accounts have been compromised by a hacking attack. The company announced that its user database had been compromised, and while the stolen passwords were encrypted, the more simplistic ones may still be vulnerable to a brute force attack. The site advises that for safety's sake, you should change your password, and ...

Amazon downed, but not by Anonymous

by Darren Allan
It seems that the Amazon website was down for about 30 minutes yesterday evening, in not just the UK but a number of European countries. But online shoppers didn't have their Christmas gift buying interrupted by Anonymous, the activist group which calls itself “fighters for Internet freedom”, and which has come out strongly in support of WikiLeaks with denial ...