Orkut Pioneers Badges on Social Networks, Gets Back At Facebook With Innovation

Orkut is by far, the most popular network in Brazil and has recently been topped by Facebook in India. Given the population of India, its user’s base can be estimated at quite a few million.

However, Facebook’s growth in India has been a threat to Orkut and to attract new users and possibly bring back old ones, it has started a system of badges. In the midst of all the spam and fraud, whether the system will be effective is a huge question. However, it does justice to one aspect of social networks. When on social networks, there is one thing people love to do and it is called “showing off”.

orkut-badge

Orkut badges let you show off in the best way possible. There are badges for Early users, Trend Setters, Graduates and Strong Contributors. Other badges might show up soon and this is a good start. However, if you want to see a badge system done correctly, look at this Stack Overflow badge system.
orkut-badge

This might not interest some, as it is all geek stuff. However, the badges are all justified according to behavior and Orkut can learn from this.

(Source)

Orkut Underground Community Behind Spamming Facebook

Recently I wrote a post about how a spam had come across where people were told about “Really cool Facebook   revolving images” and to “Checkout 360 rotate effect on images”. The exploit was run through JavaScript which user’s themselves went and posted in their address bar, which then caused their profiles to post on their friends wall with the message.

Orkut Underground Community Facebook Attack

However, the attack was started by an underground community which also has a presence on Facebook (Thanks Tony via Comment). As you can see from the image above, this community is all about business and about a numerous amounts of hacks.

Though the attack was not harmful at all, it was definitely malicious and spread like a malware. Orkut and Facebook are two competing social networking platforms, so it was really not surprising. However, Google does have to rein in such communities and clamp down on them if they want to be really realistic about being competitive.

Quite recently members of 4Chan and Tumblr went after each other and took each other down too, so is rivalry brewing between users who are loyal to a particular website? I think so.

I have contacted both Facebook and Google/Orkut for their response on this, will update this post once they respond.

Update: Google responded back to me and have promised to look into the matter and take appropriate actions. I will update this post when there is more to share.

Google: Orkut’s “Bom Sabado” Worm Did Not Compromise User Information

Yesterday, Orkut was paralyzed and transformed into a booby trapped minefield by the “Bom Sabado” worm that spread like wildfire. While most of the world was oblivious to the attack, its effect was felt in countries like India and Brazil where Orkut has a sizable presence.

Orkut-Hacked

As suspected, the worm exploited an XSS (cross-site scripting) vulnerability present in Orkut, to load a third-party JavaScript that automatically sent scraps to everyone in an affected user’s friend list. However, contrary to popular belief, user’s cookies weren’t stolen or poisoned.

A Google spokesperson issued the following statement:

We took swift action to fix a cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability on orkut.com that was discovered early Saturday. We were aware of a script being used to spread messages on orkut, but our analysis of the script code did not reveal any evidence of users’ accounts becoming compromised; nonetheless, the issue is now resolved. We’re in the process of cleaning affected profiles, and we are studying the vulnerability to help prevent similar issues in the future.

Orkut Gets Flooded with ‘Bom Sabado’ Scraps

If you are amongst the few who still give a damn about Orkut, you might have noticed something fishy going on over the past few hours. A large number of users are randomly flooding their friend’s scrapbooks (Orkut’s equivalent of Facebook Wall) with the following message:

Orkut-Hack-Bom-Sabado

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the “Bom Sabado!” messages are automatically generated by a script. However, it is not clear if this is simply a script exploiting vulnerability in Orkut, or have the accounts sending the automated scraps been compromised.

If you are amongst those affected, it’s highly recommended that you follow the steps highlighted below:

  • Switch to the “older version” of Orkut.
  • Log out of Orkut.
  • Clean your browser’s cache and cookies.
  • Log in and change your password and security question.

If you haven’t been affected yet, it is strongly advised that you avoid Orkut until the issue has been resolved. I managed to trigger the same exploit while researching this article. Recently other high profile websites like Twitter and YouTube also fell victim to XSS attacks.

This is a developing story; we will update this topic as soon as we learn more. In the meanwhile, stay tuned to Techie Buzz and don’t forget to share your experience, if you have also been affected.

Update 1: The worm appears to have originated in Brazil, where Orkut is still exceptionally popular. Many of the affected users are noticing the Brazilian flag on their status messages. Additionally, the word ‘Bom Sabado’ means ‘Good Saturday’ in Portuguese, which is the official language of Brazil. We are still awaiting an official response from Google.
Update 2: ‘Bom Sabado’ is now trending on Google.

Bom-Sabado

Update 3: Google has finally responded. An update posted on the official forum claims that the ‘Bom Sabado’ bug has been contained.

We’ve contained the “Bom Sabado” virus and have identified the bug that allowed this and have fixed it.
We’re currently working on restoring the affected profiles.

However, we are seeing new variants of the worm (such as ORKUT 3XPL0!T5) appear, which suggests that the underlying vulnerability is yet to be plugged.

Update 4: Google has officially confirmed that the attack did not lead to any compromised user account information. For more information check our follow-up post.

Facebook Overtakes Orkut as the Leading Social Network in India

Facebook Orkut has long been the dominant social network in India. Exactly what made millions of Indians throng to the mostly forgotten social network from Google is still a baffling mystery to me. Nevertheless, Facebook – the most popular social network in US and all over the world, has now surpassed Orkut even in India.

Traffic analytics firm comScore is claiming that Facebook became the top social networking website in India in July with 20.9 million visitors. This represents a 179 percent year-on-year growth. Comparatively, during the same period Orkut managed to grow by only 16 percent. The social networking audience in India grew by an impressive 43 percent during the past year.

In related news, Orkut has unveiled a new grouping functionality that can be used to communicate with groups of contacts (coworkers, relatives, friends etc.). The groups are visible only to the user and essentially acts as filters.

Orkut App Released For Android

is still one of the biggest social networking sites in India and Brazil, and obviously will get more focus from Google, lest they lose out to , which they will in near future.

However, to keep up with the latest trends, the Orkut team has now released a Orkut app for devices. The new app adds some nice features, which tie in nicely into the Android OS.

Orkut App for Android Upload Orkut Photos Android

For example, you can add your friends as live folders to your Android home screen and you will be able to browse the friends list even when you do not have access to data networks. In addition to that, users can also upload photos to Orkut albums and receive scrap notifications from their friends.

You will of course be able to send scraps to friends and others, add your friends to your contact list, or send them an email too.

The Orkut app is currently available in the Android Market, just go to the market and search for "orkut" and follow the instructions to install the app to your device. More information is available at the Official Orkut and Google Mobile blog.

Google Orkut Brazil Blog Hacked?

The Official Orkut Brazil blog was apparently hacked by someone with the hacker leaving some html pages which contained malware on the site. Orkut is one of the most popular social networking site in Brazil and India with millions of users using it every day.

According to Google Discovery (translated), some pages on the official Orkut Brazilian blog were displaying some weird content as seen in the screenshot below.

orkut_blog_hacked

The layout of the page was not in line with other blog which you will see at http://blog.orkut.com and also displayed a hotmail ID instead of a Gmail ID. However, they also discovered a page on the blog which was hosting and distributing malware on the site.

orkut_brazil_blog_hosting_malware

The page was finally cleaned up around 2 hours after it was posted on Google Discovery and currently the URL http://blog.orkut.com.br/ throws a 404 error. Not much information is available right now and Google has not made it clear as to how the user was able to attack their servers or add malware pages to it. We will update this post when new information becomes available.

Image Courtesy: Google Discovery

Orkut Introduces Inline Photo Browsing, Slideshows and Face Detection

Orkut the social networking site popular in Brazil and India has rolled out a new set of features for photo sharing on the site. The new features include Inline photo browsing, photo slideshows and Face detection for tagging friends.

orkut_inline_photo_browsing orkut_photo_face_detection orkut_photo_slideshows

Photo tagging has been pretty popular on , however, Facebook still does not have options for inline photo browsing and photo slideshows.

Orkut has been spicing up the site by introducing a new design and several more features which have brought it on par with other social networking sites like Facebook and . However, Orkut still lacks the popularity of Facebook and more and more users are now migrating to the other available options.

Do you use Orkut? Have you left it recently for Facebook or Twitter? Let us know through your comments.

Faster, more fun photo sharing on orkut [Official Orkut Blog]

Facebook Chat Will Support Google Talk and Jabber Soon

Facebook-ChatLast year, Facebook had revealed that they were developing a Jabber/XMPP interface for Facebook Chat. If Process One is right, then the public unveiling of XMPP integration in Facebook Chat may not be too far away.

XMPP stands for Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol and was developed by the Jabber open-source community in 1999. Google Talk is one of the most popular XMPP based instant messaging clients. Google Wave’s federation protocol is an open extension to XMPP.

Recently, the Facebook Chat client was spotted by IMtrend’s bot. This indicates that Facebook has already deployed the XMPP software stack on chat.facebook.com. Once launched, you will be able to chat with Google Talk (and Orkut) friends using Facebook Chat. This would make XMPP the most popular IM protocol on the web and lend even more mass appeal to Facebook.

vis The Next Web

Would The Upcoming ReDesign Save Orkut?

Let’s face it, Orkut has been so sluggish in progress that it doesn’t even seem like a Google product any more. When Facebook does something new, Orkut takes at least a few months to realize that they should do it as well.

Adding to that list is Orkut’s recent announcement of a redesign. They claim that the new design will have:

  • Fewer pages and hence a faster browsing experience.
  • A clean and simple interface.
  • Greater personalization by choosing a color theme.
  • Larger pictures and targeted friend suggestions.

The list hardly contains anything that we have not already seen at Facebook. The new interface seems to be better but can it save Orkut from further losing its market share to Facebook, MySpace and Bebo? I think we’ll find that out pretty soon. As of now, the version of Orkut is invitation only which means that only a friend who is using the new version can invite you to it.