Tag Archives: Internet

McAfee Reveals 2012’s Most Dangerous Celebrity

Emma Watson
2005 Fan Photo of Emma Watson (Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

McAfee has posted its annual “Most Dangerous Celebrities List” for 2012 and has revealed a surprising result. The darling Emma Watson has bumped off previous winner, Heidi Klum, to capture the title of “Most Dangerous Celebrity” to search for on the Internet. Miss Watson is best known for her role as Hermione in the blockbuster Harry Potter films. A screenshot of McAfee’s webpage can be seen below. I believe they may have been a little surprised to see the sweetheart top this list, then again, they have probably seen a lot of crazy stuff researching Internet security.

Emma Watson Banner
Screenshot of McAfee’s Webpage

This is the sixth year that McAfee has undergone the task of researching pop culture icons on the web and assessing the risk they pose to web surfers. Cybercriminals seem to know who the hottest targets are on the web and they exploit celebrities’ popularity to seek dishonest gain. Emma was not the only dangerous search. There seemed to be some patterns. For instance, searching for female celebrities proved to be more dangerous. Only one man showed up in the top 20 of the list and that was Jimmy Kimmel. Latinas were also particularly hot search topics.

“In today’s celebrity culture, consumers expect to be able to go online to catch up with the latest photos, videos, tweets, and stories about their favorite celebrities. Due to the richness of the data and the high interaction, often times consumers forget the risks that they are taking by clicking on the links,” said Paula Greve, director of web security research at McAfee. “As the sophistication and expectations of consumers with respect to their online experience has increased, so has the level and ability to deliver malware either by malvertising, exploiting the user’s browser without their awareness, or masking malicious URLs behind shortened URLs.”

The web can be a dangerous place folks and it should never be assumed otherwise. For more information about the Top 10 Most Dangerous Celebrities, visit McAfee’s website at http://home.mcafee.com/root/landingpage.aspx?lpname=MDCeleb_SA&affid=0&culture=en-us&cid=81617.

Bing Bar Gets An Update; Adds Facebook Chat, Better Entertainment and News

After the neat refresh of Bing Bar 7.0 with useful app buttons, the Bing team has released Bing Bar 7.1 with a slew of new features that provides richer access to your social network, more entertainment options, and updates to the popular Bing Bar apps.

Bing Bar

Apart from several improvement under the hood regarding notifications, configurability, and performance, following are the benefits that the latest update offers you:

  • Facebook Chat: Bing Bar now allows you to chat with your Facebook friends without having Facebook opened in your browser.
  • Slacker Radio: The latest update brings Slacker Radio to the bar. It allows you to listen to music, sports, news, comedy and more without interrupting your web browsing.
  • Updated News App: The existing Bing Bar news app has been updated to be more visual now and includes more sources. While you can focus on the topics that interest you, the app notifies you in case of a breaking news within the Bing Bar.
  • Search Suggestions: The Bing Bar provides suggested search terms as you browse. The Bing team has been working on expanding the sites and the methods to suggest searches making it more effective and easier for you.

Download and install manually, or if you’re already a user of Bing Bar 7.0, you’ll get the upgrade automatically delivered to you over the next few months. While the Bing Bar is available in different languages and for different geographies, some of the features of the latest version are not yet available in all markets. The Bing Bar is available for Internet Explorer 7 or later on Windows XP with Service Pack 3, Windows Vista, and Windows 7.

Is the Internet Making You Fat?

Recently I was introduced to an interesting infographic by one of my colleagues here on Techie Buzz. This graphic, which I have embedded below, seeks to answer the question, “Does the Internet Make You Fat?” The graphic was posted on http://www.usbundles.com and was provided by http://www.centurylinkquote.com/. I found it to be informative, a little disturbing, and somewhat entertaining as well. Take a moment to look at the graphic below.

Does the Internet Make You Fat?
Courtesy http://www.centurylinkquote.com/

I certainly can’t guarantee the science behind this, but it does provide some food for thought. While the internet may not necessarily be making you fat, more and more research shows that sitting for long periods of time is not good for your body. As a matter of fact, some studies have shown that even people who workout regularly, but sit most of the day are still considered inactive. So what’s a geek to do? The answer is fairly simple. Be more active. Stand when you talk on the phone. Every hour make it a point to get out of your chair and walk. A few articles I have read even suggested using an exercise ball instead of a chair to sit on.

The internet is a great source of knowledge and can be used a good resource for health information. Just don’t over do it on the sitting. Now, can someone pass me the ice cream please?  :)

 

 

Bulgaria and the Netherlands Refuse to Ratify ACTA

The controversial multi-national Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) (Read: What is ACTA and How it Will Affect You) is steadily losing ground in the European Union, following key players’ withdrawal from ratifying the agreement. Germany and Poland’s holdback, following a wave of protests in the former and much debate in the latter, has fueled other nations’ misgivings about the vagueness with which the Agreement is written and the fact that there are no clear answers as to how it will ensure anti-counterfeiting and not violation of basic human rights.

Acta

The newest withdrawers are Bulgaria – which is waiting for a clearer stance in the entire EU about the Agreement – and the Netherlands, whose parliament refused to ratify the bill. The Dutch parliament is so vehemently against it that they will refuse to budge from their positions until there is irrefutable evidence that the Agreement will not harm basic human rights. This applause-worthy rejection comes with the same message as the open letter by various organizations that have vowed to protect internet freedoms:-

[T]he Commission’s analysis confirms that the current draft of ACTA would profoundly restrict the fundamental rights and freedoms of European citizens, most notably the freedom of expression and communication privacy. These are very much at risk, since the current draft pushes for the implementation of three-strikes schemes and content filtering policies by seeking to impose civil and criminal liability on technical intermediaries such as internet service providers. The text would also radically erode the exercise of interoperability that is essential for both consumer rights and competitiveness.

However, is this the end of ACTA? Not really; a majority of Big Producer countries have signed the Agreement – from the US to Japan to South Korea. Europe is the final hurdle in this entire mess and we must hope that they fight the good fight and end this choking Agreement.

[Photo: Stop Acta by Robert Pasini]

The Newest Ace Up In Tor’s Sleeves Helps Thousands of Iranians Access the Free Internet

When Iran blocking country wide access to many commonly used services, it also apparently blocked a large amount of secured traffic movement inside the country. This was done for two effects – to stop Iranians from using SSL technology that may make the Government’s “monitoring” job difficult, and secondly to stop some more tech savvy Iranians from using TOR. TOR, as we know, is a free Internet anonymizing proxy network that works by routing data from the client software to a network of relays and bridges into an exit node somewhere outside the censored country via secured channels. With the blockade of these channels, the usual bunch of 50,000 to 60,000 active TOR connections in Iran plummeted down to 20,000 and eventually to near zero. To counter this, the TOR project’s Jacob Applebaum outlined a new plan that might enable these users to regain access to TOR.

TorObfs

Applebaum, who had also more or less predicted this event a few days back, talked about a “new weapon” that TOR has in the “arms race” that might enable these users from Iran to start using TOR. The technology in operation is the TOR Obfuscated Proxy (obfsproxy) which “camouflages” the traffic entering and exiting the TOR client as being unsecure and thus being usable in a country with a strict censor such as Iran.

The TOR project website has detailed technical instructions on setting up a TOR obfsproxy, which Applebaum admits, is a little rough around the edges. However, nothing is ever useful unless it is applied where it is most needed. This technology is manna from heaven for the Iranian Internet democracy fighters. If you have the technical know-how to apply this technology in your TOR bridge or relay, please do so to help out these people in oppressed regimes!

Iran Blocks Country-Wide Access to Facebook, Yahoo, Gmail and Hotmail

Worrying news from Tehran – an Iranian national said that the country has blocked access to many daily-use communication websites such as Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail and Facebook. This occurred recently without the Government stating the explicit reasons, or even acknowledging that this block has occurred. While many net-savvy Iranians have managed to use proxies and Virtual Private Network (VPN) services to punch through this blockade, the prospect of a nation-wide firewall akin to the Great Firewall of China seems very real for Iranians.

free-iran

Considering that February 11th marks the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution of 1979 in Iran, word on CNet is that there might have been a protest planned for the day. Iran is no stranger to cutting off internet and communication to stem protests before they blossom. Last month the information minister had said that the Government is planning to go ahead with an Internet Kill Switch that will firewall a majority of anti-Iranian websites and other means of easy communication.

Considering that Iran’s Internet was supposed to survive a nuclear war, it seems that the centralized Internet service in the country is actually the bane for its people. Pretty soon you will have a nation full of people who are not only irritated at the regime, but also bored without Facebook’s games. According to the Internet, that is a dangerous combination.

File Sharing is Now An Official Religion in Sweden

Sweden is pretty awesome. Not only is it the country that originated the pirate party a political party whose ideology revolves around open sharing of information between people it is also the first country to recognize file sharing as a religion and the shortcuts Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V as holy signs. The Church of Kopimism (that is what the religion is called: Kopimism) hopes that its newfound legal status may make the lawmakers think a little differently when they are outlining laws against software piracy and also promote peer-to-peer file sharing throughout the world. (Their motto is Copy and Seed)

server-198x300

Founded by philosophy student Isak Gerson, a self confessed pirate who religiously copies files, the Missionary Church of Kopimism wanted the believers in the sacred act of copying to not be persecuted for their beliefs. Since anyone can become a member of this Church, anyone trying to persecute you for sharing your files or receiving other files is infringing upon your democratic right to religion and religious beliefs. If you thought Gerson was a little wacky, he is but he is also extremely clever.

For the Church of Kopimism, information is holy and copying is a sacrament. Information holds a value, in itself and in what it contains, and the value multiplies through copying. Therefore, copying is central for the organisation and its members.

After a couple of failed attempts to legalize their religion, the kopimi (the believers of this Church) were finally registered as followers of an official religion just before Christmas. If you wish to change your religion to something that actually reflects your viewpoints look no further than here.

Katrina Kaif, Deepika Padukone, and Kareena Kapoor Are Cyber Criminals’ Favorites

According to a study by McAfee, Katrina Kaif is the most dangerous celebrity in the Indian cyber space. While Katrina has a huge fan following and is one of the most searched celebrities on the Web, this would be an awkward sobriquet. She is followed by Deepika Padukone and Kareena Kapoor in the Most Dangerous Indian Celebrity’ revealed by McAfee after they researched popular culture’s most famous people to reveal the riskiest celebrity sportsmen, actors, and politicians across the Web.

The cyber criminals create malicious software and online threats designed to steal personal information around fans looking for results on search engines using strings such as name of celebrity’ combined with words like free downloads’, hot pictures’, screen savers’, and videos’.

“In a celebrity crazy country such as India, cyber criminals find it very lucrative to use the names of popular figures as keywords to lure people to websites with malicious software. This year’s study found movie stars top the most dangerouslist, while sports stars and politicians are among the safest.

– Venkatasubrahmanyam Krishnapur, Senior Director, McAfee India

The top 10 celebrities in India with the highest risk percentages are:

  1. Katrina Kaif
  2. Deepika Padukone
  3. Kareena Kapoor
  4. Saif Ali Khan
  5. John Abraham
  6. Priyanka Chopra
  7. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan
  8. Bipasha Basu
  9. Aamir Khan
  10. Shah Rukh Khan

The study for Most Dangerous Celebrity’ used the McAfee SiteAdvisor site ratings which indicate the sites that are risky to search for celebrity names on the web and calculate an overall risk percentage. McAfee SiteAdvisor technology tests and rates nearly every trafficked site on the Internet and uses red, yellow and green icons to indicate the website’s risk level.

Forrester: Mobile App Internet Recasts The Software And Services Landscape

App Internet is a phenomenon that Forrester defines as “specialized local apps running in conjunction with cloud-based services” across smartphones, tablets, and other devices. A few weeks ago, I gathered a few insights on the same by Ellen Daley, Vice President at Forrester at the NASSCOM EMERGEOUT Conclave 2011.

Continue reading Forrester: Mobile App Internet Recasts The Software And Services Landscape

How Google Chrome is Growing in India and Hurting Microsoft and Mozilla [Editorial]

India has had a history of being a tech savvy country for more than a decade now. The adaption rate of newer technology in India has been higher than many other countries, which is why there are around 840 million mobile users (TRAI data – PDF File). However, hardly 10-15% of the Indian population have access to internet.

Indian Internet Penetration

According to public data available in Google, the total internet users in India was over 61 million in 2009. This should be more than 100 million now. However, this is a really small number considering a population of 1.2 billion. Nevertheless, this is still 1/3rd of the population of U.S. on which most of the metrics and measurements are made.

This definitely makes India a very lucrative market and considering the growing economy and purchasing power there it should definitely be. Consider this, when I bought my first mobile phone in 2002 or so (it was a Motorola), I parted with Rs. 4500 (~$115) with a heavy heart. This was a second hand phone with no contracts etc. Coming back to 2011, I see people splurging Rs. 20,000-30,000+ for a mobile phone without blinking an eye. This shows how the spending power has increased in India.

Looking at some of the public data available today, I was intrigued to look at who is dominating the market and guess what, it is none other than good old Google. I did some research and here are some facts on how Google is dominating the browser market which was once the forts of Microsoft and Mozilla.

Browser Growth in India

browser_global_stats_june

Recently, there were quite a few blog posts about overtaking 20% market share worldwide in the Internet browser market. In those cases, people were measuring Global traffic (U.S market share is still below 20%). However, one region where Google Chrome is really putting the pressure on Internet Explorer  and is India.

Browser Stats - April to June 2011 India

Take for example the above chart which displays the usage for Google Chrome in India for the past three months. The total usage for IE was around 36%, Firefox was around 33% and Chrome was around 27%.

Browser Stats June 2011 India

The scenario remained the same if you take June 2011 into consideration. No surprises there.

Browser Stats July 2011 India

However, if we now take a look at the stats for July 2011 (which is only for 8 days), you will see a huge jump in the number of users who are using Google Chrome. Of course, this data is premature, but it does reflect a huge jump. What could be the reason? It could be anything any everything including more and more users shifting to Google Chrome thanks to .

The %age gain in the above graph may not look significant, but even a 1-2% jump might mean that around 2 million users switched to Google Chrome in the last 8 days, that is a significant number in itself. The loser was Internet Explorer which shed their percentage. Firefox remained almost stagnant.

Browser Versions in India

Browser Versions India June 2011

In June 2011, was the most used browser in India followed by Google Chrome 12 and . Firefox 5 which launched last month was at 8, followed by Internet Explorer 9 which launched earlier this year. There were several other users who were using outdated browsers, but the growth of the latest stable version of Google Chrome is significant.

Browser Versions India July 2011

However, July 2011 tells a completely different story altogether. Chrome 12 has jumped to become the number 1 browser in India by a huge margin followed by Internet Explorer 8 and Firefox 5. The traffic measured during this period might not add up when we see monthly stats at the end of July 2011, but it is definitely surprising that there is such a huge difference.

Looking Back and Summarizing the Future

In 2009, Google Chrome had a 8% market in India even though it was released only in September 2008. This says a lot because it took market share from both Firefox and IE and jumped who have been languishing at the bottom for quite sometime now. A new browser gaining so much traction was unknown prior to that. During that same period, Google Chrome’s worldwide market share was around 2%.

In 2010, Google Chrome had a 10% market share worldwide, whereas in India it had a 18% market share. The growth rate more than double for Indian users. Since January 2011 till date, Google Chrome has a 26% market share in India whereas the worldwide usage is still less than 20%.

All in all, Indian users have adapted Google Chrome at a much higher rate than any other country and this definitely means that they are moving ahead towards newer technology. The adaption rate for Firefox in these periods have either remained the same or have dropped, similar for Internet explorer.

India is definitely a lucrative market for Internet Browsers, Mobile Phones and Operating systems. This goes on to show where these companies will invest in the future. Even if the internet usage in India grows by 20-30% all these companies will be vying for around 300 million users, and that is not a small number by any denomination.

So how did this happen? Money power, sheer brilliance or the power of Google? I will leave that to another editorial I will write in the next few days. Till then, tell me your thoughts through your comments.

(All stats in this post were collected using Google, TRAI and Stat Counter)