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Come on a journey to a load of ‘useless’ websites

This article originally appeared on The Next Web

There is a whole load of internet that you’ve probably never seen, and won’t ever see in the future. Since it’s Friday, we recommend that you check out theuselessweb.com, a site that — as the name suggests — will magically take you a random “useless” website on demand.

Do it for the lulz, or as a break from the incremental updates about the iPhone 6 launch, Scotland’s referendum, or Alibaba’s blockbuster IPO.

Go ahead and step right up.


useless web 730x410 Come on a journey to a load of useless websites

➤ theuselessweb.com | Via Product Hunt

Thumbnail image via Tomislav Pinter / Shutterstock

The post Come on a journey to a load of ‘useless’ websites appeared first on The Next Web.

Time Warner Cable apologizes for a 'very serious failure' after millions of people across the US are knocked off the Internet because of a fault

Online piracy thrives in Internet cloud

Online piracy of music, films and other content has moved to the Internet cloud, reaping big profits for digital thieves, according to a study released Thursday.

The study identified 30 cloud-based “cyberlockers” which operate globally and are hosted in various locations around the world, and which take in some $96 million in annual revenue.

These operators use the same kind of technology and often look like legitimate services like Dropbox and Amazon Cloud Drive to deliver illegally copied content, according to the study by the Digital Citizens Alliance and British-based NetNames, two groups focused on online safety and fraud protection.

The cyberlocker or cloud model has largely overtaken the older online piracy of peer-to-peer networks that allow individuals to share content on their own computers, but the result is the same.

“We’ve never had a business dependent on criminal activity grow and thrive in plain sight like the content theft industry,” said Digital Citizens Alliance executive director Tom Galvin.

“It’s astounding to think of 30 sites making $100 million on products they’ve stolen from content creators… cyberlockers wouldn’t thrive, perhaps not even survive, without legitimate businesses facilitating the rogue operators’ activities.”

The report released in Washington was described as “the first major assessment of how cyberlockers profit and how much money they make.”

The cyberlockers operate in a manner similar to legitimate services like Pandora or iTunes. Some offer free streaming content with advertising, and others allow direct downloads on a subscription model — such as $10 a month.

One of the best-known cyberlockers, Megaupload, was shut down by US law enforcement in 2012. But the New Zealand-based operator has launched a new service, known as Mega.

For some of the cyberlockers, tracing their home base is complicated because their locations are obscured by use of proxy servers. But the study said it identified cyberlocker operations based in the United States, Switzerland, the Netherlands and other countries.

The study said the most profitable cyberlockers using the direct download model were 4Shared, Mega and Uploaded. The biggest profits for the streaming operators were at Putlocker, YouWatch and Streamcloud.

The researchers found roughly 80 percent of the content on the sites had infringed copyrights.

- Attacking payment system -

The report said almost all the websites operating the cyberlockers accepted payments from Visa and Mastercard, and that these payment processors could deal a major setback to piracy if they would block the transactions. PayPal, according to the study, was accepted only on one of the sites.

“MasterCard and Visa should follow PayPal’s lead and adopt policies for their networks against doing business with these rogue operators,” the report said.

David Price of NetNames said that without the subscription payments, revenues and profit — particularly for the direct download cyberlockers — would drop off dramatically.

“Remove the payment processors from the equation and it becomes far more difficult for cyberlockers to profit from the work of others,” he said in a statement.

Because some of the sites appear legitimate, they draw advertising “from brands we know” that give the operators revenue and boost their credibility, the report said.

And many of the cyberlockers also contain malware that can infect computers of people who download from them, the report added.

“It’s going to take concerted action by the Internet and the payment processors, advertising industries, consumers, public interest groups, Internet safety organizations and responsible government officials to address this corrosive issue that threatens our basic trust in our online world,” the report said.

Citadel financial malware used in attacking petrochemical companies

Citadel financial malware used in attacking petrochemical companies

A Citadel variant has been used against several Middle Eastern petrochemical companies, marking the first time the financial malware has been found in targeted attacks against companies.

Trusteer, the IBM security firm that made the discovery, declined to identify the companies whose names were found in configuration files in the malware. Trusteer did not know whether the companies’ systems were actually infected with the software.

Nevertheless, the finding opens a new chapter in the sophisticated malware typically distributed through phishing attacks launched from botnets of thousands of infected PCs.

Citadel has proven particularly effective in stealing consumers’ online banking credentials. Last year, Microsoft reported disrupting nearly 90 percent of Citadel botnets worldwide in a takedown operation that also involved the FBI and partners in technology and financial services.

Citadel’s advanced capabilities in evading anti-virus software and stealing data make it particularly useful in targeted attacks against enterprises, Dana Tamir, director of enterprise security at Trusteer, said Tuesday.

“Citadel is highly sophisticated,” Tamir said. “Data exfiltration and evasive techniques were added to it, making it a very powerful tool.”

The malware is especially good at stealing login credentials from an infected computer’s Web browser. The variant analyzed by Trusteer was configured to watch for the login URL of webmail systems.

When a PC user types in his login credentials, the malware grabs the username and password and sends them to its command and control server. From there, the attacker can use the credentials to log into the email account and steal corporate communications.

In addition, the attacker can use Citadel to commandeer an infected computer, providing access to other systems connected to the same network.

Trusteer believes the attackers behind the Citadel variant were going after organizations with infected systems that were already part of a botnet, Tamir said.

The use of botnet-distributed financial malware in targeted attacks is not new. Besides Citadel, Trusteer has found variants of Zeus, SpyEye and Shylock designed to steal corporate data.

“Every customer environment we work with we find variants of either Zeus or Citadel or SpyEye or some other financial malware,” Tamir said.

Regions of the world with the highest rates of infection include the United States, the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia, according to Trusteer. Infection rates in those areas ranged from 0.24 percent to 0.26 percent, based on the number of infected computers per 10,000 machines.

NSA Director Adm. Michael Rogers speaks at a Reuters CyberSecurity Summit in Washington

NSA chief on tech-savvy Islamic State: ‘I’m watching’

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – While U.S. military leaders appeared before Congress to outline their strategy to fight Islamic State militants on the battlefield, the National Security Agency chief said on Tuesday he was watching the media-savvy group’s cyber capabilities.

Asked whether the Sunni Muslim group was planning cyber attacks on U.S. interests, Admiral Mike Rogers said he could not discuss specifics of the organization’s technical capabilities.

“We need to assume that there will be a cyber dimension increasingly in almost any scenario that we’re dealing with,” Rogers said at a cybersecurity conference in Washington.

“Counterterrorism is no different. Clearly, ISIL has been very aggressive in the use of media, in the use of technology, in the use of the Internet. It’s something I’m watching,” he said, using an acronym for the group.

Islamic State, which controls large swaths of Iraq and Syria, has posted carefully choreographed beheading videos online, trumpeted its violent acts on Twitter and used social media to recruit foreign Islamists to the fight.

“Its public messaging and social media is as slick and as effective as any I’ve ever seen from a terrorist organization,” Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told the Council on Foreign Relations in New York last week.

The group’s capabilities beyond using YouTube and Facebook are less clear.

Cybersecurity expert James Lewis of the Center for Strategic and International Studies said he does not think Islamic State poses any immediate cyber threat to American interests.

“They’d need a connection to the Syrians, Iranians or the Russians, and that’s unlikely to happen,” Lewis said. “They’re also nuts and cyber doesn’t scratch the itch.”

Rogers, speaking generally on how cybersecurity threats are proliferating across all aspects of American life, said, “There is nothing but increased activity out there.”

As Pentagon officials told Congress on Tuesday they were preparing for a longer-term campaign against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq [ID:nL1N0RH0Y1], Rogers said cyber defense was a long-haul effort.

The U.S. Cyber Command he leads hopes to have 6,200 cyber employees by 2016 to detect and deflect such threats, and Rogers urged greater cooperation on cybersecurity between government, business and industry.

“There are a lot of groups out there – individuals, nation-states – who feel that this is an area worth investing in, because it achieves positive outcomes for them if they can penetrate systems,” Rogers said at the Billington Cybersecurity Summit.

“This is not a small problem and it’s not one that’s going to go away.”

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

Shubham Shah discovered a security flaw in the way Optus handled voicemail.

How Vodafone Australia left customers’ mobile voicemail accounts exposed to hacking

An 18-year-old security researcher from Sydney who found a flaw in Optus’ mobile voicemail service has found another vulnerability, this time in Vodafone Australia’s voicemail system.

The flaw was only resolved after Fairfax Media raised a series of questions about the vulnerability, which also exposed Vodafone customers to identity theft through unauthorised access to online services such as Google, which use two-factor authentication via a phone call.

The Vodafone flaw allowed anyone to “bruteforce” a target’s voicemail PIN using easily accessible technology and gain access to the phone subscriber’s voicemail messages.

The practice of brute forcing involves hackers using software to try multiple PIN combinations to gain access to a service. Typically secure systems employ bruteforce protection that will lock hackers out after a certain number of incorrect attempts, but Vodafone’s Australian system had no such protection.

The flaw also allowed outsiders to retrieve Vodafone customers’ two-factor authentication codes, or tokens, used to access their Google and other online accounts.

These codes – which come in handy as a second layer of security when online log-in credentials are stolen – are usually sent via text message but can also be sent via a phone call and end up in voicemail.

There is no evidence to suggest hackers made use of the flaw on any of Vodafone’s 4.9 million customer accounts. It was corrected in June but Fairfax waited until global carriers could secure their infrastructure before revealing it.

The researcher, Shubham Shah, is due to present his findings at the Ruxcon security conference in Melbourne next month alongside his friend and high school student Huey Peard, 17, one of the founding members of Gibson Security. Last year the group published exploits found in disappearing photo-sharing app Snapchat. The revelations allowed another group to release usernames and mobile numbers of 4.5 million Snapchat users online. 

“We were made aware of research that identified a security issue with our visual voicemail service,” Eyman Ahmed, head of information security at Vodafone, said in a statement. “Vodafone’s technical team responded to the matter within a matter of hours, and has updated its systems to address it. We thank the researcher for responsibly disclosing this issue to us so that we could address it and ensure our customers remain protected.”

But Mr Shah said the fix Vodafone implemented was not well thought out. It involved, he said, locking out hackers – as well as users – from their voicemail after five incorrect PIN attempts. This meant anyone could lock a user out, requiring them to call support to reset their voicemail and start from scratch (meaning old voicemails are also deleted).

The vulnerability was linked to the carrier’s visual voicemail offered to customers using Apple’s iPhone.  It’s understood the four other global markets where Vodafone offers visual voicemail were not affected. 

To notify others telcos about the flaw, Mr Shah informed the GSM Association (GSMA), a group whose members include global telecommunications companies.

James Moran of the GSMA said the group was “very grateful” for Mr Shah’s co-operation and confirmed that operators were sent a security alert last week.

As the flaw potentially affects certain configurations of the visual voicemail system, Mr Shah also notified Apple, who acknowledged his findings.

“Thank you for contacting Apple Product Security,” a company representative told him. “We appreciate you keeping us informed of your research, and hope your presentation goes well.”

Prevent identity theft with this interactive site

Prevent identity theft with this interactive site

Preventing identity theft starts with you—making sure you’re aware of the threats out there, and how to avoid them.

Choice Loans, a financial lending service based in the UK, has put together a site that can help. It’s an interactive guide to various types of identity fraud, complete with 16 things you can do to detect or respond to them.

The site covers a broad swath of risks. It shares detailed information about computer viruses and malware, con artists and fraud, credit card fraud, online shopping, card skimming, card-not-present fraud, stolen credit or debit cards, mail theft, man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks, cell phone scams, online password theft, passport fraud, pharming, phishing scams, pyramid schemes, shoulder surfing, and more.

Each type of threat or identity fraud has a “Learn More” link that takes you to a resource where you can—as the name implies—learn more about that topic. The “Learn More” link on Computer Viruses and Malware, for instance, takes you to a Microsoft website with detailed information.

The How to Prevent section of the Choice Loans site also provides links to install MalwareBytes or AVG Free—both free antimalware tools that are very capable.

The Card Skimming section links to a YouTube video of a Fox News segment about ATMs that have been compromised with card skimming devices. The tip directs you to a Wired article titled “How to Protect Yourself from Debit Card Skimming,” which lists six things you can do.

You get the idea. The rest of the site works the same way—with links to help you learn more about the threat itself, and links to advice or guidance to help you recognize and avoid those threats. In some cases, the advice is more about what to do after the fact, or if you suspect that identity fraud is going on.

Although Choice Loans is based in the UK, and the site itself is UK-centric, there’s also a US version. The website automatically detects your location and presents the most appropriate version of the site for you.

The more you know about the threats you face, and the tools available for defending against them, the less likely you are to end up as a victim of identity fraud.

Game of Thrones season four: Jon Snow.

Anti-piracy push will lead to higher music, movie prices: Allan Fels, Henry Ergas

Australians would pay more to legally download music and movies under federal government proposals to tackle online piracy, with the vast bulk of the extra revenue flowing to overseas companies rather than the local production sector, according to two of the country’s top economists. 

Allan Fels and Henry Ergas argue in a submission to the government that new measures to target illicit downloading would blunt the motivation for rights holders to make their content available cheaply and quickly. Pay television provider Foxtel acknowledges that recent moves to slash subscription costs and air hit shows such as Game of Thrones only hours after they are broadcast in the US have been driven in part by the growth of online piracy.

“By weakening the competitive pressure [copyright] infringement has placed on rights holders, and which has forced them to start reducing the extremely large gap between Australia and the US in pricing and availability in online video, the result will be that Australians will face higher prices,” Mr Fels and Mr Ergas argue in their submission.

“The increase in non-infringing demand is likely to increase the price the copyright holder can charge, making legitimate consumers worse off, which in turn increases the incentive for piracy, offsetting the effects of stricter enforcement.”

They also argue that companies would be discouraged from investing in more innovative ways to distribute their content – such as online video-on-demand services.

Mr Fels is a former chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission while Mr Ergas was chosen by the government as an expert panel member for its cost-benefit analysis of the National Broadband Network. Their paper was commissioned by the Australian Interactive Media Industry Alliance, whose members include Google, Yahoo! and eBay.

The government has proposed changing copyright law so that internet service providers (ISPs) can be held more responsible for their customers’ illicit downloading and to make it easier for courts to block overseas sites hosting pirated content. 

“Their costs are significant while the community-wide benefits are dubious – it is not clear whether the proposals will do much to reduce piracy,” they argue. “Certainly the government presents no evidence that the proposed policies are likely to produce net benefits.”

They find the “vast bulk” of additional revenues earned through any anti-piracy scheme would flow to overseas companies because most of the programs Australians download illicitly are owned by overseas companies.

They also argue that illicit downloading can have economic benefits for rights holders – for example, more people seeing a movie can stimulate demand for associated video games or memorabilia.

Mr Ergas, who reviewed copyright law for the Howard government, said the government should conduct a rigorous cost-benefit analysis before introducing any legislation to tackle online piracy. This should include the economic and employment benefits for the local production sector.

He said the best outcome would be for rights holders and ISPs to negotiate a voluntary scheme to warn customers about repeated copyright infractions, with the costs paid for by rights holders. Otherwise, there would be an incentive for rights holders to over-use measures and use them in low-value cases. 

Foxtel spokesman Bruce Meagher said consumer demand for timely and affordable content would limit the scope for price rises.

“We don’t want the government to set up a scheme so that we can piss our customers off,” he said.

“We acknowledge that pricing and availability are a factor in piracy but so is enforcement. Even in places with low prices and easy availability people pirate. It’s hard to compete against free.”

Village Roadshow co-chairman Graham Burke said last week that film companies were releasing movies quicker and cheaper to discourage pirating.

Village Roadshow had made a “hell of a mistake” by delaying the release of the Australian-made The Lego Movie after its US release to coincide with local school holidays, he said. 

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Game of Thrones season four: Jon Snow.

Anti-piracy push will lead to higher music, movie prices: Allan Fels, Henry Ergas

Australians would pay more to legally download music and movies under federal government proposals to tackle online piracy, with the vast bulk of the extra revenue flowing to overseas companies rather than the local production sector, according to two of the country’s top economists. 

Allan Fels and Henry Ergas argue in a submission to the government that new measures to target illicit downloading would blunt the motivation for rights holders to make their content available cheaply and quickly. Pay television provider Foxtel acknowledges that recent moves to slash subscription costs and air hit shows such as Game of Thrones only hours after they are broadcast in the US have been driven in part by the growth of online piracy.

“By weakening the competitive pressure [copyright] infringement has placed on rights holders, and which has forced them to start reducing the extremely large gap between Australia and the US in pricing and availability in online video, the result will be that Australians will face higher prices,” Mr Fels and Mr Ergas argue in their submission.

“The increase in non-infringing demand is likely to increase the price the copyright holder can charge, making legitimate consumers worse off, which in turn increases the incentive for piracy, offsetting the effects of stricter enforcement.”

They also argue that companies would be discouraged from investing in more innovative ways to distribute their content – such as online video-on-demand services.

Mr Fels is a former chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission while Mr Ergas was chosen by the government as an expert panel member for its cost-benefit analysis of the National Broadband Network. Their paper was commissioned by the Australian Interactive Media Industry Alliance, whose members include Google, Yahoo! and eBay.

The government has proposed changing copyright law so that internet service providers (ISPs) can be held more responsible for their customers’ illicit downloading and to make it easier for courts to block overseas sites hosting pirated content. 

“Their costs are significant while the community-wide benefits are dubious – it is not clear whether the proposals will do much to reduce piracy,” they argue. “Certainly the government presents no evidence that the proposed policies are likely to produce net benefits.”

They find the “vast bulk” of additional revenues earned through any anti-piracy scheme would flow to overseas companies because most of the programs Australians download illicitly are owned by overseas companies.

They also argue that illicit downloading can have economic benefits for rights holders – for example, more people seeing a movie can stimulate demand for associated video games or memorabilia.

Mr Ergas, who reviewed copyright law for the Howard government, said the government should conduct a rigorous cost-benefit analysis before introducing any legislation to tackle online piracy. This should include the economic and employment benefits for the local production sector.

He said the best outcome would be for rights holders and ISPs to negotiate a voluntary scheme to warn customers about repeated copyright infractions, with the costs paid for by rights holders. Otherwise, there would be an incentive for rights holders to over-use measures and use them in low-value cases. 

Foxtel spokesman Bruce Meagher said consumer demand for timely and affordable content would limit the scope for price rises.

“We don’t want the government to set up a scheme so that we can piss our customers off,” he said.

“We acknowledge that pricing and availability are a factor in piracy but so is enforcement. Even in places with low prices and easy availability people pirate. It’s hard to compete against free.”

Village Roadshow co-chairman Graham Burke said last week that film companies were releasing movies quicker and cheaper to discourage pirating.

Village Roadshow had made a “hell of a mistake” by delaying the release of the Australian-made The Lego Movie after its US release to coincide with local school holidays, he said. 

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Children exposed to online threats

Children exposed to online threats

HUNDREDS of children and young adults in Bahrain have admitted to sharing personal details online with people that they do not know.

In a recent survey conducted by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), almost half of the 3,400 children and young adults questioned said they had revealed personal information to strangers after talking to them on the Internet.

The most affected age group is 14 to 18-year-olds, who often post personal photographs and share social media account details online, according to TRA cyber security director Dr Khalid bin Duaij Al Khalifa.

“Online safety of children is a major concern for us, as they are utilising online spaces in ways that adults often cannot imagine,” he said.

“It is also a challenge for us at the TRA to protect the country’s children from cyber threats because the last survey we conducted showed that 43 per cent of teenagers were in contact with people online who they had never met.

“It is evident that most of the children covered in the survey have not undergone basic Internet safety training.”

Speaking at the opening of the three-day Child Online Protection Workshop, which got underway yesterday at the Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain Hotel and Spa, Dr Al Khalifa said youngsters were making themselves easy prey for online “predators” who could access their social media profiles and use them “for wrong purposes”.

The aim of the workshop, which is being held in co-operation with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), is to “identify a framework” and “develop the right tools” that can be used to protect children online, the TRA official said.

The GDN reported in March last year that four people suspected of sexually exploiting children online had been arrested following a request from the now defunct UK-based Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA).

According to SOCA officials, the men arrested had blackmailed a youngster into supplying indecent photos of himself by threatening to share other pictures with his schoolmates.

Director of the ITU regional cyber security centre in Oman, Aziza Al Rashdi, told the GDN that the majority of the requests she receives from Bahrain relate to child protection online.

“The centre in Oman provides different types of cyber security assessments to 22 Arab countries on different areas,” she said.

“The information requested by Bahrain is mainly related to child online protection.”

However, Ms Al Rashdi cautioned that attacks by hackers on state companies and government bodies was the highest priority cyber security problem that needed to be tackled in the region.

“I think the biggest threat in this part of the region is the targeting of critical national infrastructure and we do not have the necessary counter measures to deal with this problem,” she said.

In 2012, a cyber attack on Saudi Aramco damaged 30,000 workstations at the oil giant, but failed to disrupt production.

Ms Al Rashdi urged Bahraini authorities to set up a Computer Emergency Readiness Team that could directly co-ordinate with the centre in Oman to help deter future threats.

sandy@gdn.com.bh

Copyright 2014 Al Hilal Publishing and Marketing Group Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (Syndigate.info).

Be cautious of friends’ e-mails seeking help

Be cautious of friends’ e-mails seeking help

Police got complaints in which the cyber criminals hacked the complainants’s e-mails and sent pleas for help to their contacts via Facebook and Twitter.

Dubai — The Dubai Police have warned the public to be cautious when responding to e-mails from acquaintances, friends or relatives asking for help.

The Cyber Crime Department of the Dubai Police got complaints in which the cyber criminals hacked the complainants’s e-mails and sent pleas for help to their contacts via Facebook and Twitter.

Major-General Khalil Ibrahim Al Mansouri, Assistant Commander-in-Chief for Criminal Investigation, said hackers access the victims’ e-mails and use their photographs to send out pleas for help to make the e-mails look more genuine, he warned.

amira@khaleejtimes.com

Copyright © 2014 Khaleej Times. All Rights Reserved. Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (Syndigate.info).