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Clara Johnson

Clara Johnson

Baidu’s mobile search monthly active users (MAUs) reached 667 million for the month of June 2016, an increase of 6% year-over-year according to its Q2 2016 results.

Baidu Maps mobile MAUs were 343 million for the month of June 2016, an increase of 13% year-over-year.
Gross merchandise value for Baidu transaction services totaled RMB 18.0 billion ($2.7 billion) for Q2 2016, an increase of 166% YoY.

The number of activated accounts of Baidu Wallet reached 80 million at the end of June 2016, an increase of 131% year-over-year.

Baidu had about 594,000 active online marketing customers in the second quarter of 2016, representing a 0.7% increase from the corresponding period in 2015.

Baidu’s total revenues in Q2 2016 were RMB18.264 billion (USD 2.748 billion), a 10.2% increase from the corresponding period in 2015, and 16.3% year-over-year increase, excluding Qunar in the second quarter of 2015. Mobile represented 62% of Baidu’s total revenues for Q2 2016, compared to 50% for Q2 2015.

Check out China search engine market forecast 2016-2018 here.

Source :  https://www.chinainternetwatch.com

It had been a while since SEOs were abuzz with a possible Google update, but a big one hit just before Labor Day weekend, according to chatter amongst webmasters.

In fact, website owners may be looking at two separate updates since many site owners reported seeing big fluctuations in their organic and local search visibility.

Here are 6 things we know so far:

1. It’s Hot Out There

The update appears to have happened on or around September 1, the Thursday before Labor Day Weekend, according to Mozcast.com. If you are not familiar with Mozcast, it is a weather report detailing turbulence in Google’s algorithm on a day to day basis. The hotter and stormier a day is, the greater the change in Google’s rankings. And on September 1, the temperature was 108, and the weather was stormy. In fact, it was the hottest, stormiest day on Mozcast over at least the past 30 days.Moz Forecast September 1

2. Core Search + Local

The updates, according to data posted by webmasters at several online forums, like this, and reported by Search Engine Land appears to affect Google’s Core Search algorithm and also changes to the local search 3-pack.

3. Quality Content is Important

Google’s core web search algorithm, aka Hummingbird, includes a ton of different elements, so pinpointing what aspect of the algorithm has been updated. However, if it is part of core search, you can bet the focus is on quality content and a solid site architecture.

4. RankBrain Could Be Involved

Also, about a year ago, Google announced their rollout of RankBrain, a component of the algorithm that uses “RankBrain” an artificial intelligence system that uses machine learning to process search results and provide more relevant results to users. There is widespread speculation that Google’s latest suspected update involves Rankbrain. More on that later.

RankBrain Diagram

5. Not Penguin

Google loosely confirmed that there was an update, but that it did not involve the Penguin algorithm – the system Google uses to evaluate a website’s links, both internally and from third party sources.Sidenote: Google announced on September 7th that they are working on the Penguin launch announcement. It’s been roughly one year and ten months since the last Penguin update in October 2014.

6. Spam Clean-Up

Most of the impact on local search results appears to have affected spammy results. Google Maps, historically, has been plagued by spam. A niche that had exploited Google Maps was the locksmith industry, with many site owners creating fictitious listings in an effort to generate phone calls and web traffic for more website searches in a geographic area without having physical locations.

There were a ton of complaints about these types of practices, but Google had been slow in cleaning up the data. The two images below show the difference for a “locksmith” related search near Times Square. The image on the left was from 2009 (image courtesy of blumenthals.com), when this type of spam was widespread. The image on the right is for what is currently in Google Maps.

Google Maps location spam

The Impact on You

The impact on you will be largely unnoticeable right now. Organic traffic and rankings for our own clients was reviewed on September 5 & 6, the Tuesday and Wednesday following the update. No changes, significant or otherwise, have been seen.

However, what makes this update, and many other Google updates so difficult to analyze is that they usually roll out an update just prior to a weekend. Additionally, because it takes time – sometimes weeks to months – for a rollout to complete, the full effects are not immediately known. Rest assured, however, that we will continue to monitor our clients traffic and rankings and react accordingly if and when the need arises.

So, What About RankBrain?

If this update to the core search algorithm did involve RankBrain, then Google could be placing more emphasis on search results that have poor user engagement and experience metrics. Low time on site, high bounce rates and poor click-through rates are all signals that often convey that the search query used or suggested by Big G did not match the search intent.

Think about this: 

Rank Brain is sophisticated enough to learn what people are looking for when they don’t search specifically for what they are looking for. It can do this because it has so much data, and it is confident it can effectively provide the answer the searcher is looking for, even if they don’t use the correct question. And if it is truly learning, then the quality of the results should be improving over time.

An example of this is a query would be: “who won the 1994 World Series?” The correct answer is that there was NO World Series in 1994, due to an ongoing strike by the Major League Baseball Players Association. Google is confident in the answer to this, so they provide the answer right in search results. Varying the keyword slightly (“who lost 1994 World Series”, “was there a 1994 world series”) results essentially the same search results.

Who won the 1994 world series?

Perhaps with this most recent update, Google has determined that they can rely on RankBrain more, and the most recent changes in search results are a reflection of that. Changes in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) are difficult to attribute to any one element, so time, and hopefully an update from Google will tell.

What We’re Watching For

Over the next few weeks, we will be looking for drops in organic traffic across our clients’ sites that can be attributed to drops in organic and local search visibility.

If an organic drop is seen, you must determine if those affected pages are properly optimized and if there is enough variation in the keywords the page is targeting. Also, focus on improving the quality of content for those underperforming pages. Plan on looking at those engagement and experience metrics that Google may be evaluating to determine if a page does not match the searcher’s intent.

If a drop in local search results is seen, it will be important to audit all name, address, phone (NAP) citations for glaring discrepancies. Any issues for those locations affected by the update should be improved. Additionally, if a site has created local pages, those pages should be analyzed from a quality perspective as thin or over-optimized pages likely will not perform well.

Finally, in a few weeks, as this update has matured, expect more site owners and marketers to share their perspective; this information could inform ongoing strategy. One thing is fairly certain, Google will continue their focus on displaying organic results they believe are the best quality and satisfy user intent.

Source : http://www.verticalmeasures.com/

In case there is anyone out there in search of more election news, Google has added a new tool to its set of voting features with the launch of the Google Trends Election Hub.

Offering a deep dive into this year’s election-related search trends across the US, Google’s new site features real-time reports on president and vice president candidate search queries, in addition to search data around political issues by state and county.

The home page for the Google Election Trends Hub has links to each of the presidential candidates to see search trends by state along with a list of related queries.

The hub’s home page also has a chart graphing national search interest in each candidate over the previous week, as well as links to daily state-by-state search interests, voter registration searches and the top election issue-related searches by state during the past week.

google-election-trends-hub

There are also charts graphing the number of “Vote for [presidential candidate]” searches during the past week, and searches for “how to vote,” which Google reports is at its highest rate ever.

The Google Election Hub includes county-level data — a first for Google: “For instance, while the economy is the most searched issue on average across the swing state of Florida, immigration is more searched in southern counties in the state.”

Google has added a YouTube election map to show how many people are watching Clinton videos versus Trump videos by state.

youtube-election-map

According to Google, this year’s election related searches are up 240 percent over this time preceding 2012’s Election Day.

Source : http://searchengineland.com/

Advertisers have seen many big updates from Google over the past year, but columnist Andy Taylor makes the case that the most impactful updates may well have been the least publicized.

Expanded text ads. The removal of right-rail ads and the addition of a fourth text ad at the top of desktop searches. Customer Match.

These are just a few of the “major” Google announcements made over the past year that caused big reactions across the search industry. Analysts, myself included, have been scrambling to report on how these updates are impacting brands and to come up with best practices in light of the results.

Analyzing the paid search landscape, however, I find that it’s often the silent, unannounced updates that have the largest impact on performance.

Of course, all paid search managers would love to think that the success or failure of their programs hinges on their hard work and brilliant strategies, but sometimes the most significant factors happen behind the scenes.

That’s not to say that there aren’t smarter ways than others to respond to these unannounced developments, and it can pay to be able to figure out they’re happening in the first place.

To illustrate my point, I’ll discuss a few recent updates that have received a lot of coverage and a few that are less well publicized, then explain how each update stands to impact performance.

Well-known but less impactful updates

Expanded text ads

Google’s new expanded text ad (ETA) format offers significantly more characters for advertisers to work with and was touted by Google itself as increasing click-through rate (CTR) by 2X for some advertisers.

I wrote extensively on the early performance comparisons between ETA and older text ads here a month ago, explaining that when the data is segmented properly, non-brand ads at the top of the page see almost no difference in performance. ETAs for brand terms at the top of the page actually had slightly lower CTR than the older ad format.

I explained in my prior post why it’s likely that some case studies that have been published show much better results with ETA, and you should go read that if you’re interested in understanding more about how ETAs are really performing.

To the point of this post, our outlook is that ETAs will likely have a much smaller impact on ad spend than the reactions it has garnered might indicate.

Customer Match

Hailed as the beginning of futuristic search targeting, Customer Match provides advertisers the ability to create audiences out of email lists in order to adjust bidding and messaging for those users when they search.

Using information about users in Customer Match audiences, such as past order history, advertisers would then be able to “personalize” the ad experience in order to drive greater value out of paid search.

Across Merkle advertisers actively deploying Customer Match audiences, only about two percent of Google search spend is being attributed to them, largely due to the limited share of emails Google can match to searchers and the restriction that all emails used in these audiences must be obtained firsthand by each advertiser.

The share of orders is higher (as these users are typically very high-value and more likely than an average searcher to convert), but still small.

There are certainly possibilities on the horizon that could help to increase spend and order share, some of which I’ll be speaking to in an upcoming SMX East session devoted entirely to Customer Match.

However, the current reality and short-term outlook is that while Customer Match does allow for some unique targeting options in crafting catered experiences to users that a brand has interacted with previously, it’s not able to reach a large share of searchers in general.

Tablet bidding controls

Google recently announced that advertisers will be able to set bids for desktop and tablet devices separately, eliminating one of the more annoying aspects of Enhanced Campaigns to date.

I myself was pretty pumped for the update. I can’t deny that.

But digging into what the real impact on ad spend will be, it’s likely pretty small.

While most advertisers will likely quickly move to bid tablets down relative to desktop due to lower conversion rates on tablets (tablet revenue per click was 30 percent lower than that of desktop for Merkle advertisers in Q2), tablet paid search traffic share is declining.

In fact, it’s been declining for the past several quarters, and was down to 14 percent in Q2 2016, compared to its high point of 18 percent in Q1 of 2015.

Sales numbers verify the waning popularity of tablet devices, and as smartphones get larger and more sophisticated, it is possible tablets continue to shrink as a share of paid search traffic.

At present, decreasing tablet devices in a vacuum by 30 percent in and of itself has the potential to decrease total paid search investment by perhaps four percentage points for our advertisers, with that impact becoming smaller if tablets continue to decline in importance.

However, decreases in tablet bids should accompany increases in desktop bids, as the value of desktop traffic should warrant higher bids than the combined value of desktop and tablet traffic. If all desktop bids increased properly, given the relative revenue per click of desktop versus tablet we observe for our advertisers, this has the potential to result in about a three- to four-percentage point bump in total paid search spend taken in a vacuum.

And assuming that most advertisers will move similarly to take advantage of the new bidding controls, the overall competitive landscape on these devices shouldn’t shift too much.

The overall difference in spend, then, is likely to be pretty small.

There are, of course, industries in which advertisers might see better performance on tablets, such as gaming apps. But again, it’s likely that all of the players in these industries will react similarly to the changes, and the bid adjustments made to desktop and tablet will impact spend on these device types in opposing ways much like for advertisers that see worse performance with tablets.

More than anything, the device split feels like a moral victory for advertisers who have been clamoring for these controls since the beginning of Enhanced Campaigns. Google waited until tablets were on the decline to hand over control, however, and the overall impact could be pretty small.

Important changes that haven’t been well publicized

Google adds third (and fourth) text ad on phones

In mid-2015, Google silently released a third text ad above the organic links on phones, formally admitting to the change in late August after a post of mine reported on the impact of the change. The third text ad has been a significant driver of paid search spend growth ever since.

One year after the addition of the third text ad, Google moved to add a fourth text ad to some queries, again with no formal announcement and also no real confirmation.

This has significantly driven up the share of phone traffic coming from the fourth ad position on phones, from close to zero in early June to about three percent now.

The third text ad increased the maximum number of text ads above organic links on phones by 50 percent. The fourth text ad increased it by 33 percent.

As such, it’s no wonder why organic traffic growth on phones has been in decline over the past year.

Google rapidly expands Product Listing Ad (PLA) impressions on google.com

The graph below features the change in Google Shopping impressions relative to January 2015 over the past 19 months.

As you can see, Merkle advertisers saw more Google Shopping/PLA impressions in Q1 of 2016 than they did during the busy holiday season of 2015 (by far the busiest season for the vast majority of our advertisers). Looking at a Y/Y comparison, January 2016 saw 202 percent more phone PLA impressions than January 2015.

Further, PLA impressions have continued to increase throughout 2016, particularly on phones.

In turn, PLA spend growth on phones has been rather incredible, with a Y/Y increase of 135 percent in Q2 for Merkle retailers.

No formal announcements explain these trends, and this is just for Google.com.

Quiet expansion of the PLA search partner network

PLA search partner traffic share has exploded over the past few quarters, and it now accounts for 14 percent of all desktop PLA traffic.

This rise can be attributed to a few changes.

One is Google’s move in December of last year to begin showing PLAs in Google image search, a move which Google only formally announced six months later.

Another is Yahoo’s apparent shift to increasingly showing Google PLAs in its results, as opposed to Bing Ads or Gemini Product Ads.

 

The rekindling of the Yahoo–Google relationship was formally announced last October, and Yahoo has spoken of their efforts to choose the best ads from AdWords, Bing Ads and Gemini in recent quarterly earnings calls. Still, the expansion of Google PLAs on Yahoo.com seems to be garnering little attention from many in the SEM industry.

Conclusion

In the case of two-sided businesses like Google that have to serve not only the public but also advertisers, it can be necessary to be very vocal about some updates, while offering no public acknowledgment whatsoever of others.

In most circumstances where they remain mum, I imagine Google’s reasoning usually has to do with there being no obvious positive outcome of a formal announcement.

Judging by how the search industry reacts to the announcements that are publicly made, we tend to jump on Google’s statements with a pretty critical spotlight, so it’s not shocking that they’d want to avoid controversy when possible. Not every decision can make every party happy.

However, Google’s silent updates have been steadily impacting our advertisers’ performance far more than the most publicized changes. This is something to keep in mind when analyzing paid search performance and attempting to explain shifts.

Source : http://searchengineland.com

Google recently made a change to its AdWords Keyword Planner tool, which now delivers ranges of data based on how much you spend on ads and how frequently you use the tool. This means that advertisers with low monthly spend are getting ranges of data instead of exact numbers. For example, if you have been affected by this change, a keyword with 590 searches per month will now display as ‘100–1K’.

This change was made to prevent bots from abusing the tool, not to frustrate advertisers. However, that’s exactly what it has done. Being met with ranges of data makes it difficult for advertisers to accurately determine which keyword to target or how much to bid on them. Google’s suggested solutionto this? Try using the forecasting feature that’s built-in to Keyword Planner.

“While search volume gives you a sense of the market size, other settings such as bid, budget, device, and more, affect how much of this search volume a single advertiser can receive. Forecasts, on the other hand, let you customize these settings for a more comprehensive view of how keywords might perform.”

How to Use Forecasting in Google Keyword Planner

The forecasting feature in Keyword Planner can assist with determining a budget and selecting keywords by following these steps:

  • Navigate to Keyword Planner and sign in.
  • Select the option to search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category.
  • Enter the keywords you want to look up, and click get ideas.
  • Scroll through the suggested keywords returned by the tool, clicking add to plan on keywords you may want to target.
  • Enter forecasting mode by clicking review plan on the right-hand side of the screen.
    • Once in the forecasting screen, you can glean more keyword data in the following ways:
      • Enter bids and budgets for a detailed forecast of the keywords added to your plan.
      • View forecasts based on location, device, or expected conversion rate.
      • If you’re not satisfied with your forecasts, go back to the drawing board. Click back to search on the top right and look for new keywords to add to your plan.
      • Once satisfied, either download the forecasts or save the plan to your account.

 

Source : https://www.searchenginejournal.com/frustrated-lack-google-keyword-planner-data-try-forecasting-tool/172364/

Thursday, 15 September 2016 19:33

Jethro Indexer Adds ‘Auto-Cubes’

The new version of a SQL query engine for Hadoop scheduled for release later this month adds “auto-cubes,” a type of multi-dimensional dataset that, in this implementation, consists of aggregated “micro-cubes” that are generated based on usage patterns learned by the SQL accelerator.

New York-based Jethro (formerly JethroData) said it plans to release its 2.0 version during Stata+Hadoop later this month. Jethro’s platform is a combination of two engines: columnar SQL database and search indexing.

The startup said the new auto-cubes feature complements its full-indexing and intelligent caching approaches designed to accelerate SQL query performance in business intelligence and dashboards. Auto-cubes “are generated based on user activity and are maintained and updated transparently,” Jethro CTO Boaz Raufman noted in a statement.

The startup further claims that dynamically aggregated micro-cubes reduce the need for complex data cube designs while boosting coverage via “hundreds” of small cubes while supporting incremental data loads. The combination of dynamic aggregation of auto-cubes and indexing is intended to further accelerate SQL queries to handle a broader range of big data use cases. It also provides interactive response times for business intelligence applications in more user scenarios, Raufman added.

Along with auto-cubes, Jethro 2.0 also boosts support for Qlik View and Sense along with broader SQL coverage with expanded math functions. The point is to make big data analytics work in real time.

The startup differentiates its acceleration engine technology by allowing users to keep data on Hadoop while retaining the performance of an electronic data warehouse engine. The engine is “sandwiched” between a BI tool and existing data sources. Jethro is intended to accelerate BI tool reporting and visualizations without overtaxing a Hadoop cluster.

Jethro essentially takes a column-oriented database (like Vertica or Impala) and combines it with a search engine indexing tool. The resulting columnar-based database is fully indexed, where each additional column of data is treated as its own index.

The index-based SQL engine for Hadoop seeks to enable organizations to use their BI tools with large datasets while maintaining interactive speed. It works by fully indexing select datasets in Hadoop. BI queries use indexes to access only the data they need instead of scanning an entire dataset. The result is supposed to be increased speed and less stress on computing resources.

Jethro has scheduled a webinar for Sept. 15 to demonstrate how new “auto microcubes” work with indexing and smart caching to accelerate interactive business intelligence applications.

The startup has so far raised $12.6 million in two funding rounds, including an $8.1 million Series B funding round in March 2015.

Source : https://www.datanami.com/2016/09/13/jethro-indexer-adds-auto-cubes/

A little known fact about Edward Snowden: he was helped by refugees while hiding out in Hong Kong. After he fled the US, at least four asylum seekers – all clients of his Hong Kong lawyers – took the NSA whistleblower into their homes.

This was all in the early stages of the saga that unfolded when Snowden released highly classified information to the public, exposing the secretive US agency’s worldwide spying program in June 2013. The families have now chosen to break their silence and tell the riveting story of how they helped hide “the most wanted man in the world,” as Vanessa Mae Bondalian Rodel, a 42-year-old Filipino woman, told the New York Times.

Rodel and her one-year-old daughter’s tiny apartment would become Snowden’s hideout as he was pursued internationally.

During the two weeks spent in Hong Kong, he would change addresses three times, all in the poor, run-down area of Kowloon Walled City, where tiny apartments are stacked atop each other, government control does not extend, and life is completely self-contained. In other words, it is the perfect hiding place.

Snowden’s lawyer Robert Tibbo says his refugee clients now hope the story will generate enough publicity for the Hong Kong government to take action on their cases. They are part of a group of 11,000 foreigners cooped up in a city that historically stood in legal limbo between Chinese and British control. And so it is with them, as they await their asylum applications to be issued by the Chinese government.

“These were people who went through the same process when they were fleeing other countries,” Tibbo told NYT. Snowden believed they would understand his plight, and that is why he turned to them for help. He was also not on the Hong Kong Police wanted list at the time.

“My first impression of his face was that he was scared, very worried,”Rodel remembers.

Snowden took her room, while she and her daughter took the only other space in the apartment. Sitting night and day at his computer, he could never go out. Internet access was improvised from a mobile device, as no network existed.

On the second day of his stay, Rodel accidentally discovered the true grandeur of Snowden’s persona. This was after he asked if she could buy him a copy of the South China Morning Post, an English-language paper.

“Oh my God, unbelievable,” she remembers thinking. “The most wanted man in the world is in my house.” 

Tibbo says that he and Snowden quickly rejected the idea of staying in a warehouse, or the United Nations Refugee Processing Center.

Over the next two weeks, he would spend one night in the apartment of Ajith Pushpakumara, 44, who had fled his native Sri Lanka after being tortured for desertion. Like Rodel, a person with a story similar to Snowden’s identified with the American.

“I was worried about him,” he said.

Supun Thilina Kellapatha, with his wife and baby, also took Snowden in for three days.

They all remember Snowden as tired and frightened, but extremely polite and respectful.

Before he left their home, he left the family $200 under a pillow. They said that they used the money to buy necessities for their daughter and would remember Snowden forever. The wife, Nadeeka Dilrukshi Nonis, said, “Sometimes I tell Supun, maybe he forgot us… I want to tell him, ‘Edward, how are you? We will never forget you.’” 

Edward Snowden’s supporters are now working to raise money to help the Kowloon asylum-seekers who showed so much concern for Snowden’s plight and graciously accepted him into their homes.

It was after his stay in Hong Kong that the NSA whistleblower was granted asylum in Russia, where he currently resides.

Source : https://www.rt.com/news/358667-snowden-refugee-nsa-hong/

Cybercrime has reached epidemic proportions in the U.S. and abroad. From spam and phishing attacks to identity theft and ransomware, your personal information is under threat like never before.

For years, hackers have been playing a high-stakes cat-and-mouse game with software security specialists who race to patch vulnerabilities as soon as they're discovered. Increasingly, so-called "white hat" cybersecurity experts are struggling to keep pace with "black hat" hackers

A padlock is displayed at the Alert Logic booth during the 2016 Black Hat cyber-security conference in Las Vegas

 

In this new environment, digital security is more important than ever. "Think of your identity like a puzzle," said Eva Velasquez of the non-profit Identity Theft Resource Center. "The more pieces of the puzzle that the thief can gather, the more they can do with it. If I've got your name, date of birth and social security number, I can do a lot of damage."

Here are some valuable tips to strengthen your digital security:

One of the fastest growing types of cybercrime is ransomware — a spooky attack in which hackers remotely breach and freeze the contents of your computer. They threaten to destroy all your files — usually within a day or two — unless you pay a "ransom" in untraceable digital currency like Bitcoin.

Experts told NBC News that it's the most profitable type of cybercrime ever, and even law enforcement officials have acknowledged that they're usually powerless to either thwart the attack or track down the culprits. Now security analysts say that mobile ransomware — which locks up your phone — is skyrocketing this year.

Two-Step Verification

Velazquez recommends placing two-step notification on your email and social media accounts. The upside is significantly stronger account security. The downside is minor inconvenience: Each time you sign in, you need to enter a separate code you receive by text or email in order to access your account. Thieves can post unwanted messages to your account, but they're usually much more interested in capturing the personal information stored there.

"You should protect your email the way you protect your financial accounts," Velasquez said. "If they get access to your email, they can send password reset notifications back to it and take over your other accounts."

Mobile Security Apps

Software security firms offer a spectrum of apps to guard against unwanted intrusions on your cell phone. Nearly all of them contain malware, adware and spyware detection and prevention. Most also offer cloud-based backup, and the ability to remotely lock or wipe your phone's data and pinpoint the location of a missing device.

 

But a new generation of mobile security apps is taking digital vigilance up a notch, with features like strengthened end-to-end data and voice encryption, or the ability to secretly snap a selfie — even trigger a loud alarm sound — if a thief enters too many incorrect passwords. Some apps will even monitor not just your email account but those of your contacts to detect whether they have been compromised.

Password Managers

Security experts recommend that you use different passwords for each account — and change them regularly. But few people can maintain that level of vigilance for very long. An easier option to keep your passwords safe and secret is to get a password manager. Once you enter a single master password to open up the manager, it will auto-fill username and password entries for each account that you've stored in it.

In addition to saving all your passwords in one place (which also makes it easier to change them up regularly), many services also offer to create super strong passwords for you.

Internet of Things

The rise of what the cyber community calls "the Internet of Things" (IoT) — the way in which devices like your mobile phone are now linked to the web and each other and send and receive data remotely — has ushered in a new era of security vulnerabilities. Conveniences like wireless speakers that connect to your phone using Bluetooth, or apps that allow you to remotely activate your garage door or your coffee maker come with a price: If there are security vulnerabilities in any one of the devices that connect wirelessly, every device that connects to it are vulnerable.

Fraud Alerts and Credit Freezes

If you fear that one of your financial accounts has been breached, you can direct the three major credit bureaus to put temporary freezes on your credit report. Most financial institutions need to see your credit report before letting you open a new account. So a temporary freeze makes it more difficult to open new accounts in your name.

Your existing creditors will still be able to access your credit report if a freeze is in place. You can also put a fraud alert on your credit report, which allows new creditors to see your report, but requires them to take certain steps to verify your identify. You can lift the freeze or fraud alert at any time.

 

Credit Cards vs. Debit Cards

When making purchases, credit cards are generally safer bets for consumers than debit cards. If your debit card is compromised, that means you are fighting to get your money back. If your credit card is hacked, it's the credit card company that's fighting to get its money back.

While in most cases, both banks and credit cards companies will cover losses dues to fraud, there are differences in legal liability. Under the Electronic Fund Transfer Act, your maximum liability for fraudulent charges on a credit card is $50. Under the Fair Credit Billing Act, your liability for fraudulent debit card transactions is unlimited.

Identity Theft Monitors

Comprehensive identity theft monitoring services — which can include social media and credit monitoring, identity theft insurance and removals from pre-approved credit card offer mailing lists — are also available. But consumer advocates recommend doing plenty of research beforehand. Consumer Reports notes that many of the services offered can be obtained individually for free: One of the most well-known companies, LifeLock, paid out $100 million last year in a settlement with the FTC over deceptive advertising.

A less likely but far creepier form of digital intrusion is surreptitious surveillance. Cybercriminals aim to steal from you. Cyber surveillance aims to spy on you.

Remote "Bugs"

One ominous threat to cell phone users' privacy is what's known as a "roving bug."

Most people know that your physical movements can be tracked through the GPS on your phone. Far fewer realize that it's possible to remotely activate the microphones in your cell phone and listen in on your conversations, even when the phone is turned off. Similarly, remote intruders can spy on you through your device's camera.

Privacy advocates are fighting back. Earlier this summer, National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden announced that he is designing a prototype for an iPhone case that prevents location tracking and audio surveillance. The device, dubbed the "introspection engine," would alert the user if the phone's radio signals are activated and prevent location tracking as well.

Switching your phone to airplane mode can turn off the phone's cell and Wi-Fi signals, but on some devices the GPS function remains active.

Keyloggers

A keylogger is a type of surveillance software that records your every keystroke, allowing a snoop to capture copies of every email and instant message you type, every search engine query you enter and every website you visit. Some can even take screenshots that would show what you're seeing on the screen - like emails that are sent to you.

 

Most keyloggers are installed surreptitiously while a computer user is away from his or her desktop, but they can also be installed remotely without your knowledge. Keyloggers are popular with spouses who suspect their partner is cheating on them, or parents interested in monitoring their children's online behavior. They also come in portable thumb drives. While there are software programs that can detect the presence of keyloggers on your system, it can be challenging to remove with them without some technical know-how

Source : http://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/hacking-reaches-epic-proportions-how-best-stay-safe-online-n636926

Search engines are the backbone of everyday internet use, but are you aware of the hidden tips and tricks available to improve your search? Here are some pointers that'll save you Googling 'how to Google'.
How to be a Google Power User

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source : http://www.visualistan.com/2016/08/how-to-be-google-power-user-infographic.html

It’s just about impossible to get your hands on Microsoft’s impressive mixed-reality HoloLens platform these days — unless you’re a computer science student at the University of Washington. Then you get to play with them whenever you want.

At least that’s the case for the students in CSE 481V, in which, according to the course description, you will “learn a ton about Virtual and Augmented Reality, get familiar with the latest technology and software, and build an app in 10 weeks.”

This is the first time the course has been offered in this fashion, with generous underwriting by local VR/AR players Microsoft, Oculus and Valve/HTC. The 36 students in the course had access to the HoloLens dev team and all the major headsets — there were 25 HoloLenses involved, which is probably more than have ever been in one place. Students also got to hear from guest speakers like Oculus Chief Scientist Michael Abrash and author Neal Stephenson — whose “Snow Crash” was required reading for the course.

All in all, it’s enough to make a guy want to matriculate.

vr airplane

“We pitched the idea of a VR/AR class last year to HoloLens leadership and they immediately got excited and were eager to make it happen,” wrote Steve Seitz, one of the class’s instructors. “I was initially quite worried about the idea of relying on a brand new device and development platform for a 36 person class. But I’m extremely impressed with the development environment… it was good enough that students with no prior experience could get up and running quickly and make some really compelling applications in just a few weeks.”

You can see what those applications were at the course webpage, complete with weekly blog posts showing progress from concept to execution. There’s augmented reality cooking, a painting app and the clever idea of gamifying the process of scanning a room so it can be used in other apps.

The class culminated in a sort of open demo day at the UW campus, where students could show off their work to the general public and serious players like Microsoft Research’s CVP Peter Lee.

It’s a great opportunity for students, no doubt, but also a fertile testing ground for the companies in the space. How did these fresh young minds interact with the technologies? What did they run up against? What tools did they wish they had? This kind of extensive focus testing is always valuable, not to say this was an ulterior motive, just that it was no doubt a fruitful collaboration.

student-demonstrate

“For the HoloLens team, this was an opportunity to evaluate the platform in a focused educational settings, and get early feedback,” wrote Seitz. The team also provided technical support and training.

Seitz and the class’s other instructor, Ira Kemelmacher-Shlizerman, aim to offer the class again next year. UW is, of course, a convenient location for Microsoft to work with, but the institution is also a hub for research in this area, having pioneered many VR and AR ideas early on in its famous HITLab.

Source : https://techcrunch.com/2016/06/10/students-demonstrate-their-hololens-apps-after-a-quarter-of-vr-and-ar-design/

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