Saturday, October 4, 2014

Boot up: insecure privacy, 2000 seen from 1900, mobile web growth

Manhattan Bridge 1900s Footpaths of Manhattan bridge when it was being built. New York City, 1900s. Photograph: /Library of Congress

A burst of 8 links for you to chew over, as picked by the Technology team

Brian Krebs got one of *those* letters:

I called the number on the back of the letter, and was directed to Stephen Boggs, director of public affairs at Cox.

Boggs said that the trouble started after a female customer account representative was "socially engineered" or tricked into giving away her account credentials to a caller posing as a Cox tech support staffer. Boggs informed me that I was one of just 52 customers whose information the attacker(s) looked up after hijacking the customer service rep's account.

The nature of the attack described by Boggs suggested two things: 1) That the login page that Cox employees use to access customer information is available on the larger Internet (i.e., it is not an internal-only application); and that 2) the customer support representative was able to access that public portal with nothing more than a username and a password.

Boggs either did not want to answer or did not know the answer to my main question: Were Cox customer support employees required to use multi-factor or two-factor authentication to access their accounts? Boggs promised to call back with an definitive response. To Cox's credit, he did call back a few hours later, and confirmed my suspicions.

From 1900: looking forward 100 years. Pretty accurate - at least the first image.

In 40 countries Webpage views from a mobile phone now outnumber those from a PC, according to StatCounter (August 2014). That's just browsing with mobile phones; if you consider tablet computers to be mobile, then that number increases to 48 countries. Of the 40, three countries stand out particularly being members of the 100 million (mobile subscriber) club: India (797.1 million mobile subscribers), Nigeria (130.6 million) and Bangladesh (116.9 million). And we're not talking mobile Web being a bit bigger than PC Web – in India, Nigeria and Bangladesh mobile phones now account for around 70% of Webpage views.

If mobile Web continues to grow at the present phenomenal growth rate, up 67% in a year, we should expect to welcome plenty more countries to Mobile Web Majority, as mobiThinking now calls them, over the next year or so. The stats suggest that future additions may include Indonesia and Pakistan, also members of the 100 Million Club.

Not clear whether mobile web use is additive, or whether it's replacing desktop use. (StatCounter hasn't responded to it.)

Ken Shirriff takes a break from disassembling transformers:

I decided to see how practical it would be to mine Bitcoin with pencil and paper. It turns out that the SHA-256 algorithm used for mining is pretty simple and can in fact be done by hand. Not surprisingly, the process is extremely slow compared to hardware mining and is entirely impractical. But performing the algorithm manually is a good way to understand exactly how it works.

You can get chips that will do up to 3bn hashes per second, but where's the sense of participation?

Tom Pickett, vice-president for YouTube content, is going:

More than a dozen top managers and executives have left YouTube this year. The unit's chief executive, Salar Kamangar, was replaced by Google veteran Susan Wojcicki in February; he remains in another role at Google.

Soon after, the executive who had been overseeing product and engineering teams, Shishir Mehrotra, left to run a startup. Shiva Rajaraman, a key Mehrotra lieutenant, recently joined music-streaming service Spotify to run product development. Rajaraman had a knack for bridging disagreements say people who worked with him at YouTube, a useful skill in a company known for spirited internal debates.

The Information reported recently that Google has set YouTube very ambitious growth rates for time spent watching, and that they're not being met.

Today, in partnership with Adobe, we're welcoming Creative Cloud onto Chromebooks, initially with a streaming version of Photoshop. This will be available first to U.S.-based Adobe education customers with a paid Creative Cloud membership—so the Photoshop you know and love is now on Chrome OS. No muss, no fuss.

This streaming version of Photoshop is designed to run straight from the cloud to your Chromebook. It's always up-to-date and fully integrated with Google Drive, so there's no need to download and re-upload files—just save your art directly from Photoshop to the cloud. For IT administrators, it's easy to manage, with no long client installation and one-click deployment to your team's Chromebooks.

Tim Worstall:

There has been no finding of fact and no finding of illegality. That just isn't the way that European Commission investigations work. Just not how they do their public policy.

The FT claimed:

Apple will be accused of prospering from illegal tax deals with the Irish government for more than two decades when Brussels this week unveils details of a probe that could leave the iPhone maker with a record fine of as much as several billions of euros.

Preliminary findings from the European Commission's investigation into Apple's tax affairs in Ireland, where it has had a rate of less than 2 per cent, claim the Silicon Valley company benefited from illicit state aid after striking backroom deals with Ireland's authorities, according to people involved in the case.

This simply isn't so. And over and above the error concerning the content of the reports there is no possibility of a fine upon Apple whatsoever. For in cases of illegal state aid there never is a fine levied upon the company or recipient of such aid. The government that allowed or paid out the aid must recover it, that's true, but there's no fines over and above that even if there's a finding of said illegal aid. Again, this just isn't how the Commission undertakes its public policy on these matters.

Damn fact-based reporting.

Mark Rogowsky:

In choosing two models to fill the void, Apple is playing a clever game. It can satisfy customers who feel the need to have among the largest screens while also creating an "anchor" that makes the basic iPhone 6 seem less big. The effect here might best be understood by way of example.

Several years ago, Sharp introduced the first mainstream 70in televisions. While they did manage to sell some, customers were intimidated by the size and buying the "biggest thing out there." Not long after, Sharp brought an 80in model to market. With sales almost a secondary goal, a major reason for the larger model was to make the 70in look less intimidating in showrooms. It worked quite well, Sharp execs told me at the Consumer Electronics Show. Sales of the 70in rose nicely and the effect was so successful the company later started selling a 90in model which boosted sales of the 80.

The iPhone 6 Plus similarly helps sell the iPhone 6.

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