Using the internet makes people happier, especially seniors and those with health problems that limit their ability to fully take part in social life, says a study in Computers in Human Behavior.

The issue: A generation after the internet began appearing widely in homes and offices, it is not unusual to hear people ask if near-constant access to the web has made us happier. Research on the association between internet use and happiness have been ambiguous. Some have found that the connectivity empowers people. A 2014  study published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior notes that excessive time spent online can leave people socially isolated. Compulsive online behavior can have a negative impact on mental health.

A new paper examines if quality of life in the golden years is impacted by the ubiquitous internet.

An academic study worth reading: “Life Satisfaction in the Internet Age – Changes in the Past Decade,” published in Computers in Human Behavior, 2016.

Study summary: Sabina Lissitsa and Svetlana Chachashvili-Bolotin, two researchers in Israel, investigate how internet adoption impacts life satisfaction among Israelis over age 65, compared with working-age adults (aged 20-64). They use annual, repeated cross-sectional survey data collected by Israel’s statistics agency from 2003 to 2012 – totaling 75,523 respondents.


They define life satisfaction broadly — on perceptions of one’s health, job, education, empowerment, relationships and place in society — and asked respondents to rate their satisfaction on a four-point scale. They also measured specific types of internet use, for example email, social media and shopping.

Finally, Lissitsa and Chachashvili-Bolotin also analyzed demographic data, information on respondents’ health, the amount they interact with friends and how often, if at all, they feel lonely.


  • Internet users report higher levels of life satisfaction than non-users. This finding:Internet access among seniors rose from 8 to 34 percent between 2003 and 2012; among the younger group, access increased from 44 to 78 percent. Therefore, the digital divide grew during the study period.
  • Is higher among people with health problems.
  • Decreases over time (possibly because internet saturation is spreading, making it harder to compare those with and those without internet access).
  • Decreases as incomes rise.
  • Seniors who use the internet report higher levels of life satisfaction than seniors who do not.
  • “Internet adoption promotes life satisfaction in weaker social groups and can serve as a channel for increasing life satisfaction.”
  • Using email and shopping online are associated with an increase in life satisfaction.
  • Using social media and playing games have no association with life satisfaction. The authors speculate that this is because some people grow addicted and abuse these internet applications.
  • The ability to use the internet to seek information has an insignificant impact on happiness for the total sample. But it has a positive association for users with health problems — possibly because the internet increases their ability to interact with others.
  • The findings can be broadly generalized to other developed countries.

Helpful resources:

The Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD) publishes key data on the global internet economy.

The United Nations publishes the ICT Development Index to compare countries’ adoption of internet and communications technologies.

The Digital Economy and Society Index measures European Union members’ progress toward closing the digital divides in their societies.

Other research:

2015 article by the same authors examines rates of internet adoption by senior citizens.

2014 study looks at how compulsive online behavior is negatively associated with life satisfaction. Similarly, this 2014 article specifically focuses on the compulsive use of Facebook.


2014 study tests the association between happiness and online connections.

Journalist’s Resource has examined the cost of aging populations on national budgets around the world.

Source : journalistsresource.org

Author : David Trilling

Categorized in Online Research

With Facebook on the block for spreading misinformation, how long until the internet can weed out lies itself? Peter Cochrane theorises

There was a time when ‘the truth' would last a long time!

The earth is flat. No, it's a sphere. No it's flat. No, it's a sphere... Whoops it's an oblate spheroid.. Hmm a dynamic oscillatory oblate spheroid.

This one took thousands of years to settle down, but ‘a dynamic oscillatory oblate spheroid' is the best picture we have with all the scientific instrumentation we have and the observations made to date. And so it is for scientific truths - they are only as good as our models and experimental verification, and often, a closer look with better equipment changes our perspective and our models.

But, that is what science is about: achieving the most accurate picture and understanding of the universe which we live in - and therefore these ‘truths' tend to be transitory!

Well, science is only one class of truth, but there are many more, For example: conventional truth set by man made rules of law: for example, incest is illegal. Grammar: 'i' before ‘e' except after ‘c'. Mathematics: the inverse of zero is infinity, or it may be indeterminate. Then we have political, managerial and agency truths: this politician or manager said this or that, a government enacted this or that.

Then there are belief systems and doctrinal truths: There is only one God, and he created heaven and earth.

Other belief systems embrace UFOs, ghosts, vampires, the SuperNatural, communication with the dead et al.

And so it goes on. We live with a vast range of truths.


The Truth Engine So, in the age of the internet and an exponential explosion of information, how do we know something is true? We don't!

But it looks as though we might get our machines to cough up the best ‘quantification' of truth in the form of a probability statement. In principle, this ought to be very easy! Just take a stated fact or accepted truth and test it ‘pro-con' by the number of postings.

A straightforward statistical analysis and so very simple - right? Wrong! The nature of information creation today sees plagiarism on a global scale. A single news report may spawn hundreds of variants of many different flavours, biases, and, worse - include a concatenation of errors!

In the face of such complexity, how might a "Truth Engine" be constructed? Several uni-versities and Google are on the case, and I suspect IBM are in the fray too!

The general line of attack goes something like this: Take a stated truth published on the internet, seek out every related item, and then construct a derivation tree based on the date of posting, authorship, organisation, and textural content. Apply filters based on evident copying, author and organisation credentials and credibility, reference materials and quality of analysis. Filtering out ‘the noise' can easily see over 20 million apparently original postings reduced to under three million credible sources.

Now, it is feasible to apply a meaningful statistical analysis to reveal a ‘mean opinion' with a ‘normal(ish) distribution' and standard deviation that says there is an x percent confidence that this particular truth is correct. If that x percent is over 99 per cent, then we can assume great credence, but if x per cent is less than 70 percent, we should be very wary in making our judgement call!

Rumour has it that Google will deploy ‘truth engine technology' in its search engine so that we get the ‘best picture' on any search. I can't wait - what a life saver! However, there are still many algorithmic obstacles to overcome, and more refinement is definitely required.


And watch out - the process could introduce a tendency to become a strange attractor for falsehoods and errors that persist for far longer than they should. Any truth test has to be dynamic and continuous; truth is not static, and it has to be tested in light of new evidence non-stop!

Source:  computing.co.uk

Categorized in Online Research

QUEBEC — Pulling hate material from the Internet will never be enough to curb the phenomenon of violent extremism, the head of free expression and international relations at Google told a conference on radicalization Tuesday.

“What we’ve seen over the past couple of years is a realization that simply taking the content down doesn’t work because one website goes down, two or three more are up the very next day,” Ross LaJeunesse said. “Simply taking down the content doesn’t address the feeling and the hatred which caused the speech in the first place. You need to engage the speakers who are promoting radicalization and hate online.”

He acknowledged that Google, the U.S.-based company that runs a search engine and the video-sharing service YouTube, has a role to play and argued the company is taking that responsibility very seriously. “We have started doing various programs, where, much like a regular advertising campaign, when someone searches for a key word that we think indicates they’re looking for radical content, we then show them an advertising campaign about content that counters that speech,” LaJeunesse said.

Also, “we don’t allow violent images on YouTube, we don’t allow pornography, we’ve always built YouTube to be a community where everyone is going to feel comfortable participating and speaking and watching content that they like.”

LaJeunesse added people must differentiate between YouTube, which Google controls, and the Internet, which the company doesn’t control. Many people equate Google with all of the Internet, he said.


When young people search the Internet, they’re asking questions and are usually not confirmed radicals, the conference heard on Tuesday. They’re at a stage where you can reach them, engage them, and present them with authentic, alternative voices.

Arguing that “blocking the Internet is a bit like trying to block wind,” panellists agreed that instead of focusing on censorship, societies should teach young people to navigate through the overload of information on the Internet and help them determine what is credible and what is bunk.

“Basically, you want the younger generation to question everything,” said Anantha Kumar Duraiappah, director of the UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (MGIEP).


Duraiappah insisted the most important skill to have in the 21st century is critical inquiry, “deconstructing an argument and then reconstructing it to see if you’re comfortable with it, being able to say ‘That’s not right.’ ”

He said he’d also like young people to “fire their Gandhi neurons,” in other words, express compassion and empathy, and develop the moral courage to change. All of that has to be in school curricula, Duraiappah argued, because it is what will help teenagers build their identities and belief systems. 

While not promising to change the curriculum in Quebec, Premier Philippe Couillard said it is important to maintain an “analysis culture.” 

“We’re doing it — are we doing it enough, that’s another question to be resolved,” he said.

Couillard announced $10,000 for a “No to hate” campaign that will travel across Quebec schools and youth clubs in the months to come. 

Source : montrealgazette

Categorized in Others

The crux of the problem many people have with Mark Zuckerberg‘s Free Basics is the effect it could have on the poor. The plan provides people in many developing countries free access to a curated list of websites, allowing limited use of things like online weather, reference, and (cough) social networking services. It’s a sort of charity-turned-scheme for world domination, seen as a bid to control the internet in developing economies by getting certain brands in early, and exploiting the lack of options in largely destitute populations. Sure, it seems nice to create limited Internet access where none existed before. But the potential for stagnation in the growing market and for exploitation of third-world populations is too much for some to bear.

In an era (and US election cycle) largely dominated by talk of a growing economic underclass here in the West, the idea of bringing this mentality home seems almost guaranteed to stir passions.Not only does Free Basics have the capacity to cause many of the same problems foreseen in India and around the world, but it opens the door to accusations the service sees North America as a similarly vulnerable market. There’s already one candidate for President who talks about the US becoming a “third-world country” — and these sorts of moves by the luminaries of Silicon Valley gives plenty of ammunition to people sympathetic to such rhetoric.

Mark Zuckerberg

The rumor, which comes from the Washington Post, says a Western Free Basics would focus on rural and low-income Americans who can’t afford decent internet service — either because the service is not inherently affordable, or because their income in low enough that they can’t afford even a reasonably priced connection. It would allow access to things like health, news, and job postings for free by creating partnerships between content providers and rural ISPs. The process of offering services for “free” in this way has come to be called “zero rating.” Its detractors are trying to lump it in with monopolies and other signs of an anti-competitive market.

Now, one of the steps Free Basics took in the wake of the enormous public backlash against its Eastern roll-out was to “open up” the program to third parties. This sort of fixes one of the problems, allowing entrants frozen out of the program to opt in so they too can compete for mindshare in this population. But it’s still the case only the most wealthy and established of players would be able to shoulder the financial burden posed by such a plan. Giving your product away for free is, after all, a luxury not everyone can afford.

internet org 3

Here the Internet.org logo is set against a picture of either a children from a developing Asian nation or a couple of West-coast hipsters.

Another issue is, in the West, even the poorest neighborhoods have at least some access to communications infrastructure you can’t necessarily rely upon in rural India. It’s less of a human rights issue to not own a computer when you can go apply for jobs on the computer at the library. Farmers have always been a sort of unofficial mascot for Free Basics, but here in North America farmers are generally quite sophisticated operators; they certainly don’t need Mark Zuckerberg to get the weather report.


So even as Western governments start to redefine internet access as a human right, we still find Free Basics has a less compelling raison d’être here than it does in some other parts of the world.

Mark Zuckerberg in front of Facebook logo sign

That is, the service seems to have a less coherent reason to exist for the public; for its partners, the advantage is still clear. The program does require an active data connection after all, and simply doesn’t count data from certain services against data caps — meaning even “free” customers are, in principle, customers still. Not only do you get to ensure your services stay at the top of these markets, reaching a portion of your potential users with far less competition, you also get to track the activity of a users who might not otherwise have been the focus of any comprehensive life-tracking at all.

The generational aspect to this issue is intriguing. Older people have dramatically slowedtheir internet adoption, in part because they find its insane proliferation of choice, often irrelevant choice, to be distracting and off-putting. Free Basics, then, serves to cut away the bother of a free, open market full of competitors in favor of a simple, curated toolbox. It’s a bit like the old America Online or CompuServe approach, but the simplicity is born of removing options rather than organizing them. Oddly, people seem to like that more: They know what they’re getting, and why. Even if the upshot is the same overly directed experience as an AOL, Free Basics feels more like you’ve made a choice to be restricted in that way. The idea is people feel not as though they’re being manipulated, but instead being empowered.


Much of the future of the internet rests with these luminaries.

The Obama Administration is apparently in talks with Free Basics, and the White House could be looking at this as a way to deliver on its promise to prioritize online issues — a fact that makes this plan seem politically impossible. The majority of the ideological resistance to the idea is coming from the left, traditionally Democratic-leaning voters, and Obama will only be able to sway a portion of that group. Meanwhile, public and congressional opposition to any White House initiative should see to it that Republicans, who have historically been less concerned about internet freedom, will oppose it as well.

If Free Basics gets branded as both cyber-imperialism by the left and cyber-socialism by the right, it will have nowhere to go, and simply die in obscurity. The reverse, positive narrative — that Free Basics will be both a cyber-social safety net to the left and an example of the cyber-free market to the right — seems far less likely to materialize in the modern political climate.


The FCC is now facing calls to regulate against the zero rating. Large ISPs have been lobbying the regulatory body for years, as they look at the practice as a way to expand their dominance and increase revenue while getting to claim to be pursuing high-minded values and human rights.

Whether that’s a sincere motivation is almost beside the point, now.

Source : extremetech

Categorized in Others

Angela Merkel has called on major internet platforms to divulge the secrets of their algorithms, arguing that their lack of transparency endangers debating culture.

The German chancellor said internet users had a right to know how and on what basis the information they received via search engines was channelled to them.

Speaking to a media conference in Munich, Merkel said: “I’m of the opinion that algorithms must be made more transparent, so that one can inform oneself as an interested citizen about questions like ‘what influences my behaviour on the internet and that of others?’.

“Algorithms, when they are not transparent, can lead to a distortion of our perception, they can shrink our expanse of information.”

An algorithm is the formula used by a search engine to steer a request for information.

They are different for every search engine, highly secret and determine the significance or ranking of a web page.

Merkel has joined a growing number of critics who have highlighted the dangers of receiving information that confirms an existing opinion or is recommended by people with similar ideas.

“This is a development that we need to pay careful attention to,” she told the conference, adding that a healthy democracy was dependent on people being confronted by opposing ideas.


“The big internet platforms, through their algorithms, have become an eye of a needle which diverse media must pass through [to access their users],” she said.

There has been increasing concern about so-called filter bubbles and echo chambers – the result of an internet search in which an algorithm supposes the information someone would like to see based on previous searches, as well as information it might have about their location or preferences – in the light of the growing strength of populist movements in Europe, the Brexit vote in the UK and the rise of Donald Trump in the US. This month, President Barack Obama’s former social media adviser Caleb Gardner highlighted the danger of filter bubbles – a phrase invented by the internet activist Eli Pariser.

“More likely than not, you get your news from Facebook,” Gardner told students at Northwestern University in Illinois. “Forty-four per cent of US adults get news on the site, and 61% of millennials … if that doesn’t frighten you, you don’t know enough about Facebook’s algorithm. If you have a parent who’s a Trump supporter, they are seeing a completely different set of news items than you are.”

Merkel will have an eye on next year’s federal election in which she is expected to stand for a fourth term. The concern that the phenomenon of narrow debate which has been seen during the US presidential campaign might be replicated in Germany is one shared across Germany’s established parties.

Merkel called the issue a “challenge not just for political parties but for society as a whole”. If it was unclear what mechanisms were being used, it could “lead to a distortion of how people perceive things”, she said.

Thomas Jarzombek, the digital policy spokesperson of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, told Spiegel Online he did not think she was advocating that companies such as Google and Facebook should disclose company secrets, “but we do need more information from these operators as to how their algorithms function generally speaking”.


A cross-party working group is compiling recommendations urging more openness by internet platforms, including making details on how their algorithms collect, choose, evaluate and present information available to users. Its recommendations will be sent to Brussels, for the EU digital commissioner Günther Oettinger to work them into guidelines by next year. Oettinger told Spiegel Online: “Merkel has touched on an important topic.” But he said questions about search engines’ transparency had to “first undergo a more in-depth examination”.

Source : theguardian

Categorized in Search Engine

when Amazon, Twitter, PayPal, Spotify and other major websites were rendered inaccessible on Friday, thousands of Americans learned firsthand what a DDoS attack feels like.

DDoS — distributed denial of service — is an unsophisticated form of attack that overwhelms sites with spam traffic so legitimate users can’t get through. DDoS is a war of economics: whoever has the most computing power, defender or attacker, usually wins.

This makes DDoS a useful tool for censorship of small and mid-level publishers, but major sites usually have defenses in place and aren’t susceptible to these attacks. However, Friday wasn’t business as usual. The series of attacks that took out Dyn, the DNS service that provides the backbone of many major sites, were powered in part by a botnet of hacked DVRs and and webcams known as Mirai. Mirai first emerged several weeks ago during a DDoS against Brian Krebs, a cybersecurity journalist who runs his own publication KrebsOnSecurity.com.

The DDoS attack on Krebs, the scramble for protection that followed, and Friday’s massive attack mark a new chapter in DDoS. More and more websites are being forced to seek shelter behind a shrinking number of powerful DDoS protection providers. But that centralization means that, as potent botnets like Mirai become stronger, larger sections of the internet can be knocked offline during attacks.

Mirai is irritating for the American internet users who couldn’t access their favorite websites Friday, and a thorn in the side of companies that are now forced to recall their easily hacked IoT devices — but the botnet is also influencing the market for DDoS protection.



The Krebs attack

In late September, Krebs’ website was hit with a DDoS attack of unprecedented scale. The content delivery network Akamai had protected KrebsOnSecurity from more than 250 DDoS attacks over four years, but it struggled to withstand this record-breaking onslaught of fake traffic and, after several more attacks, booted Krebs from its service.

“It was the biggest attack we’d ever seen. We were protecting someone for free and it was taking a lot of resources,” Akamai security advocate Martin McKeay told TechCrunch. “That was when the decision was made — this was a customer who we were protecting for marketing reasons but it was taking too much of our resources to make this a viable thing longterm. He looks into criminals who do DDoS, who do carding and skimming. It just was not worth the good will for us to protect someone who was thumbing their nose at the bad guys.”

But Akamai’s decision wasn’t just about conserving its human and technological resources. The DDoS attack was so large that it was overloading surrounding internet infrastructure, McKeay said. The attacks had the potential to cause slowdowns for the company’s paying customers. Many of the attacks that had hit Krebs’ website previously were sending 3-4 gigabits per second, but the Mirai attacks were in the 500 – 600 gbps range.

Still, Akamai tried to stick with Krebs. The company asked some of its paying Prolexic customers to temporarily turn off the service to make more bandwidth available in the Krebs fight, and to avoid issues on their own websites. Such requests often come during maintenance, according to Akamai, and shouldn’t cause alarm. But TechCrunch is aware of at least one Akamai customer who was shaken by the request — the company contacted a competing DDoS protection service days later.

However, Akamai says it lost no customers due to the Krebs DDoS. “After having successfully protected Krebs’ site during the attack, his was the only site that was then transitioned to another solution,” Akamai spokesperson Jeff Young told TechCrunch. “It’s common to proactively notify customers anytime we perceive the possibility of unexpected traffic flows. The vast majority of notifications sent are welcomed by the customer.”

When the news broke that Krebs was leaving Akamai, other DDoS protection services swarmed, offering their services. With the massive DDoS attack making headlines and Krebs without protection, it was the perfect opportunity for another provider to make a name for themselves.

DDoS protection services protect against online attacks that use large networks of computers to spam a site with junk traffic, ultimately knocking the site offline. Claiming Krebs as a client would be a powerful marketing moment for a DDoS protection provider, enabling the company to say they stood up to the strongest DDoS attack the internet had ever seen. Several free and paid DDoS services approached Krebs in the days following the attack on his site.

In the end, Krebs went to Project Shield, a Google-backed DDoS protection service that works exclusively with journalists, human rights organizations and elections monitoring sites. Cloudflare’s Project Galileo, which protects public interest websites that feature political or artistic content, also made a bid to protect Krebs. An unnamed company offered two weeks of free protection, followed by services that would cost $150,000 – $200,000 per year, Krebs reported.


Krebs wrote that Akamai gave him just two hours to migrate off its network, and Akamai later told the Boston Globe that the attack could have ended up costing the company millions of dollars. “We made a business decision to no longer keep this customer on our platform and prioritize our resources on our paying customers,” Young told the Globe.

Krebs wrote:

I do not fault Akamai for their decision. I was a pro bono customer from the start, and Akamai and its sister company Prolexic have stood by me through countless attacks over the past four years. It just so happened that this last siege was nearly twice the size of the next-largest attack they had ever seen before. Once it became evident that the assault was beginning to cause problems for the company’s paying customers, they explained that the choice to let my site go was a business decision, pure and simple.

Protecting Krebs is a big win for Project Shield, a project run by Google’s humanitarian think tank Jigsaw. In the DDoS arms race, Project Shield has the advantage of being backed up by Google’s massive network. “Shield is a reverse proxy,” project lead George Conard explains. “We run virtual machines in the Google Cloud Platform that are doing the reverse proxying.”

Project Shield had to go up against competition from Cloudflare’s Project Galileo to win Krebs’ business. Galileo, like Shield, is a free DDoS protection service that aims to protect sensitive content from being knocked offline.

However, getting Krebs on Project Galileo was a long shot to begin with, Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince says. Prince and Krebs butted heads at the Black Hat security conference in 2013, when Krebs criticized Cloudflare for allowing DDoS attackers to take refuge behind the company’s paid DDoS protection service. If Cloudflare kicked them out, Krebs argued, they would be taken down by DDoS themselves. Prince, who was in the audience, jumped on stage to defend his company. The ensuing debate was painfully awkward to watch, and likely cost Prince the chance to take over Krebs’ DDoS defense after the massive attack.

Prince says he offered Galileo’s protection to Krebs, but Krebs declined, claiming that accepting Cloudflare’s help after criticizing them would feel hypocritical. (Krebs did not respond to a request for comment from TechCrunch.) “During the first 24 hours, Google was struggling to keep it up,” Prince said of Krebs’ website. “We would have stopped it, absolutely.”

The competitive feeling runs both ways. Asked about Project Galileo, a Jigsaw employee demurred, “As I’m sure you know, competition drives innovation.”

“We want a little competition on the side of people building the services, because a lot of people are figuring out how to take down websites,” the employee added.


Protecting the worthy

Because DDoS is an unsophisticated yet effective means of censorship, independent journalists like Krebs often become high-profile targets. Companies like Google, Cloudflare and Akamai have a good-will interest in protecting them, but protecting someone like Krebs is also good marketing. The message is: If we can handle this massive attack on this worthy publisher, we can handle whatever scary mess the internet hurls at your enterprise.

For Project Shield, the calculus is a little different. Unlike Cloudflare and Akamai, Google isn’t selling DDoS protection.

But Google is working hard to sell its reputation as a neutral party that can be trusted with the news. As it puts its Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) head-to-head against Facebook’s Instant Articles, Google needs to prove it’s a company that’s on the side of publishers against censorship and avoid the missteps Facebook has made with Trending Topics and deleting newsworthy content.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai appeared to acknowledge this during a February speech in Paris, when he announced the official launch of Project Shield in tandem with AMP. “There are times when news content is impossible to get to, not because the page loads slowly but because you’re under attack,” Pichai said, explaining that Shield would “provide a more sustainable news ecosystem.”

Google’s mission of organizing the world’s information and making it accessible is fundamentally in line with the mission of journalism. “We’re in the same business, Google and the news. The more news organizations, the better the internet is,” a Jigsaw spokesperson told TechCrunch.

The chance to protect Krebs came at an opportune time for Project Shield, which has worked hard this year to regain trust from journalists and human rights defenders abroad. Shield has to overcome the perception that Google is part of the American surveillance state.

“We’ve definitely encountered that,” the Jigsaw spokesperson says of the distrust. “Our philosophy is to be transparent about what data we collect, what data we never collect, why we collect, when it will be implemented and how. We let them explore if it is in their best interest. Never is it in our interest for someone to sign up for Shield more than it would be in their interest.”

Since its beta launch several years ago, Project Shield has worked to expand its presence. The service officially launched in Europe after Pichai’s speech, where it protects a few hundred sites, and in Latin America about a week ago. “It’s a tool that requires explanation,” Conard says. “We’ve learned how best to reach the people for whom this matters. We have learned a lot more about the threats these organizations are facing, how often they are DDoSed and how seldom they know why or from where.”


The expansion has come with opportunities to build trust — Project Shield now protects John-Allan Namu, a Kenyan investigative journalist who works on Africa Uncensored, and project engineers spent time in Kenya during the 2013 election to learn about the DDoS protection needs of journalists and election monitors. Jigsaw employees also stress that, as the Project Shield team collects information about the websites it protects, none of that data is shared within Google.

However, Project Shield notably misstepped in 2014, when it offered DDoS protection in partnership with Cloudflare to the Hong Kong pro-democracy website PopVote but then pulled out of the deal just 24 hours before an important referendum. Along with journalists, Shield also protects elections monitoring sites and PopVote, which faced a DDoS attack from the government, seemed like the perfect candidate.

Deciding who does and does not deserve DDoS protection is a difficult process for Google and other companies that provide the service. For Akamai, Krebs was worthy until he spent too much time “thumbing his nose” and became too expensive to protect. Cloudflare’s all-inclusive approach for its paid service was partially responsible for the debate between Krebs and Prince, and when it comes to Project Galileo, the company is similarly hands-off. Cloudflare chooses not to weigh the worthiness of Project Galileo candidates at all, instead outsourcing the decision to an external cohort of human rights and free press organizations.

“It’s really important that our whims on good and bad content don’t come in,” Prince explained. “We’re not picking winners and losers.”

Although Google abandoned the PopVote project, Project Shield is trying to take a more inclusive approach these days. Conard says Project Shield doesn’t discriminate against media outlets based on content, pointing out that it protected pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian publishers during the Crimean conflict. “DDoSing someone is never a legitimate or reasonable thing to do. I am happy to protect people we disagree with,” Conard told TechCrunch. “In general, because we don’t think there’s a legitimate use case for DDoS, I feel relatively good about taking an inclusive approach here and keeping information accessible.”

Individuals who want to put their sites behind Project Shield’s protection go through an application process and are vetted by the Jigsaw team. Jigsaw runs publishers and organizations seeking protection through an internal screening process that includes checking them against a terrorist watch list, and says it would stop short of protecting a publication like Dabiq, the online magazine published by the Islamic State. “That’s an organization that we’re not by law allowed to provide service to,” Conard says.

As enormous DDoS attacks become more common, charitable protection programs will be faced with challenging questions about who deserves protection from censorship and who doesn’t. While the propaganda arm of the Islamic State clearly falls under the U.S. definition of a terrorist group, the Chinese government might categorize an organization like PopVote in a similar way — and controversy-shy tech companies will have to decide whether they want to stand up to governments that DDoS their own citizens.

DDoS as a service

The Mirai attacks haven’t just been an opportunity for protection providers to make a name for themselves and expand their client list — there are also clues in the attacks that suggest Mirai has been good for the DDoS business.


The attack on Krebs’ website may well have been an act of censorship, intended to silence his reporting. But Cloudflare’s CEO Prince argues that Krebs might also have been targeted because taking down his site was a good way to advertise a new DDoS service. What better way to get out the word about your botnet than to take down the site of the preeminent voice on DDoS attacks? Mirai does seem to be for hire. “The targets have been really random,” Prince explains. “Attack lengths are in five-minute increments,” he added, which suggests that attacks are priced in a tiered way.

When the source code for Mirai became public, Cloudflare analyzed it and found that five percent of the code was written to get around the company’s defenses — indicating that the botnet was designed with more than just Krebs in mind.

But Akamai’s security advocate McKeay dismissed the idea that the attack on Krebs was intended as an advertisement for Mirai. “I don’t think it’s a reliable theory,” he explains. “You could have been a lot quieter in the attacks and not drawn the law enforcement attention that the attacks on Brian’s site have done. You have to know that if you are making the biggest attack ever seen, your botnet is not going to survive that. It’s going to draw law enforcement action globally.”

Rather than publicly knocking down major websites and grabbing headlines, a safer DDoS business model is the extortion-based attacks that have been on the rise over the last year, in which attackers threaten to DDoS a site unless they receive payment.

But the Mirai attacks have been huge and public, making the intentions of the attackers unclear. “You can’t launch an attack this big and not get arrested,” Prince says.


It’s possible that the attacks are meant to send a message to the DDoS defenders themselves. “It’s going to make companies that provide protection think twice,” McKeay says. “If you are a company that provides a terabyte of protection worldwide, you are really going to have to think twice about providing DDoS protection. If it’s a secondary product line, they are going to have to think about the large attacks. This is just a precursor of what we’re going to see over the next few years. You have to think about investing a lot more in infrastructure, or decide it’s not worth the investment and get out of DDoS. A lot of smaller providers are going to see these attacks coming and get out of the business.”

As smaller providers shut down, it clears the way for larger players like Cloudflare, Akamai and Google. But, as the Dyn attack demonstrated, that centralization can be dangerous.


Source : techcrunch

Categorized in Internet Technology

Social media has sharpened humans' age-old appetite for public shaming, providing a stage and unlimited seating for a seemingly unending stream of immorality plays. Those who share even the simplest identifying details about themselves are vulnerable to being pushed into the glare of the spotlight.

The anonymity the Internet provides frees many individuals of the consequences they might face offline for being abusive to other people. Perhaps appearing to their friends, family and connections as ordinary people in the real world, these Jekyll-and-Hyde netizens transform into trolls to carry out their online assaults.

Anonymity has been a hot button issue for just about the entire life of the Internet, and although there is no 100 percent solution in sight, the situation is not entirely hopeless, according to Charles King, principal analyst atPund-IT.

"So long as public sites enable user anonymity, pathological behavior will continue, because it thrives in the shadows," he told TechNewsWorld. "Forcing abusers into the sunlight may be difficult or impossible -- but changes in rules, laws and enforcement practices could make their lives more complicated and less comfortable."

Deep Dive Into Dirt

We know what the problem looks like, thanks to big data and analytics.

Arecent analysisidentified more than17,000 tweets related to body shaming, for example, and ranked the most common terms Twitter users lobbed at others to shame them for their weight.

Artificial intelligence soon might be able to catch and moderate cruel posts mere moments after publication, suggested a University of Lisbon team of researchers who have leveraged machine learning toteach AI to suss out sarcasm.

For now, the moderation and reporting tools available aren't set up to prevent or discourage online abuse, said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at theEnderle Group.

"Reputation protection services can be used, but that doesn't scale well -- they target one person at a time -- and it can be really expensive if you have to litigate and your attacker has no money," he told TechNewsWorld.


What to Do?

It appearsRedditcurrently has the best system in place, in Enderle's view, as its shadow-blocking tools shield users from whomever they wish to block, while allowing offenders to keep their accounts. Offenders are none the wiser, barring some detective work.

"Of course, publicizing shamers so they lose their jobs, gym memberships, and get attacked themselves does work," he acknowledged, "and if it is done enough, that should change behavior."

However, that approach so far hasn't been used enough to make a difference, Enderle said.

That could change if social media sites and other forums were willing to make some changes.

They could take proactive steps that might make a difference, noted King, who pointed to a list ofsuggestions for Twitter, posted online by Randi Lee Harper, founder of the Online Abuse Prevention Initiative.

Those changes might result in a significant decrease in the prevalence of abuse on Twitter, but what will it take to inspire websites and their parent companies to intercede?

"Many, if not most, technology vendors bend over backward to avoid favoritism and maintain level playing fields for users of all stripes," King pointed out. "I respect that attitude, but it's often subject to being gamed by some users -- and in some circumstances has resulted in online environments that amplify abusive behavior."

Societal Shift

Machine learning tools one day might be capable of rejecting abusive comments before their intended targets ever see them. However, even if the companies running social networks work strenuously to stomp out online abuse, it's ultimately up to humans to ensure that humanity prevails.

The best line of defense against social shaming starts at home, suggested counselorScott A. Spackey.

"Family validation and bonding, and personal achievement with sports, school work and personal goals is the antidote to ANY source of social shaming," he told TechNewsWorld.

People are more immune to criticism from outsiders when they have evidence to the contrary, provided by self knowledge and by those in their inner circles, Spackey said. For example, it's easier to brush off being called "stupid" when one's grades indicate otherwise.

"We all need to remember there's no law against unfriending a social network contact at any time," he noted. "Virtual life has same rules as non-virtual life: You get to have the final say on who you interact with and what you are exposed to."

While it's ideal to teach those lessons in the home, it's never too late to improve oneself with education and re-education.


Pity the Fool?

When Playboy Playmate Dani Mathers snapchatted an image of an older woman nude in a locker room, that was an opportunity for education, according to relationship and etiquette expertApril Masini.

"It was a moment to talk about what happens, naturally, to our bodies," she told TechNewsWorld.

"There is a lesson for Ms. Mathers to learn that bodies age and they don't look the same at 20 as they do at 60 or 70 or 80, and that it's important to celebrate the changes of a healthy and aging human being," Masini said, "instead of mocking the change that is often difficult to endure because it's a signal life is slipping away -- as it should."

Mathers undoubtedly was "afraid of what she saw" to some degree, she suggested, and might not even be conscious of the aging of her own body.

"The impetus for body shamers and bullies is usually fear," Masini said. "We see bravado and mean-spirited posts -- we don't acknowledge the fear behind the person posting."

Source : technewsworld

Categorized in Internet Privacy

(CNN)UPDATE: Both Donald Trump and his campaign staffer Dan Scavino have deleted their tweets.

"A lie will go round the world while truth is pulling its boots on," London preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon said in 1855, well before the invention of the Internet.
    A case in point just popped up.
    Let's explore.
    1) GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump tweeted at 2:28 pm ET Tuesday: "Unreal! Highly respected Senator Tom Coburn- said this about Cruz: https://t.co/2WswDhyPQD"
    Trump repeated the comments during an event in South Carolina as well.
    "Did you see the senator from Oklahoma that just came out with a statement? He came out with such a strong statement that Ted Cruz is dishonest -- he's a Republican! I've never seen a human being that lies so much," Trump said.
    2) What was the quote? Trump provided a link to a tweet stating the following: "He is, without a doubt, one of the most dishonest people in DC." @TomCoburn on Ted Cruz bit.ly/1oGZqI6Scavino
    It should be noted: that 12:21 pm ET tweet is from Dan Scavino, the Trump campaign's director of social media.


    3) Here's where it gets shaky: Scavino provided a link to a story on a liberal website "Forward Progressives" from October 18, 2015.
    In that story, a progressive writer pens the following: "I've made no secret of my total disdain for Sen. Ted Cruz. He epitomizes everything that's wrong with the Republican party. He is, without a doubt, one of the most dishonest people in Washington and, in my opinion, a complete sociopath."
    THIS is where the "one of the most dishonest people in DC" quote comes from -- not from former Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma.
    4) Let us now, just for kicks, see where this all originated.
    The liberal writer quotes former Sen. Tom Coburn and links to a story in the Dallas Morning Newsfrom October 16, 2015.
    5) The Dallas Morning News had taken the quotes from BuzzFeed from October 15, 2015.
    6) BuzzFeed took it from Coburn in an interview with Pete Dominick on Sirius XM talking about the "Cruz Effect." Coburn criticized Cruz for "creat(ing) greater disappointment in the hinterlands" in terms of pledging to stop Obamacare, etc, "because you gave them a false hope, knowing that you couldn't accomplish it, but it was about yelling, and screaming, and waving the flag."
    At no point during any of this did Coburn say the initial quote about Cruz.
    The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
    Source : edition
    Categorized in News & Politics

    Shuffling through the World Wide Web to find what you need can be a daunting process. Whether it's from your Windows Phone or Windows 8 computer. Luckily, thanks to search engines like Microsoft’s Bing – you can find what you need and quickly. The problem is that if you are used to typing in simple queries like “How can I obtain Rich’s awesome accent?” you are still faced with hundreds of thousands of search results.



    Today, we are going to stop the horror and make you the master of Bing by teaching you “advanced operator references” – think of what we are about to teach you as a secret language to master Microsoft’s search engine. Today, you master Bing search – tomorrow, you take over the world.

    Below we have outlined the most useful of Bing’s advanced operating references along with examples of how to use them. Consider this article as the ultimate Bing guide and reference list for getting work done. So without further ado, let us begin!


    Here is one of the simplest operators to work with, the “AND” operator. This is considered a simple Boolean operator and can help you find exactly what you are looking for. When using the “AND” operator, only search results that include both searched terms will be included.

    Example: “Puppies AND beagles” – By typing this query into Bing, you would only receive search results that contain both the word “puppies” and “beagles”.


    Another simple operator, “Contains”, will focus search results around websites that have certain file types within them. For a list of common file types, you can click here.

    Example: “Puppies contains:pdf” – By typing this query into Bing, you would only websites that have PDF files about puppies.


    I’m sure that all of you know this operator! Simply put the word, “define” in front of any other word and Bing will fetch a dictionary definition for what you are searching. (Real words only kids, Urban Dictionary results do not count!)

    Example: “define puppies” – By typing this query into Bing, you would receive a definition of the word “puppies”.Ext:

    This operator is similar to the “contains:” operator above, but instead of specifying a file extension and then receiving websites that reference it, you will only receive direct links to the specified file types. Once again, you can click here to see a list of the most common file types.

    Example: “puppies ext:pdf” – By typing this query into Bing, you will only receive PDF files about “puppies”.


    By using the “feed:” operator, you can find RSS feeds that relate to a specific query. These feeds can then be followed by using an application like NextGen Reader for Windows 8 and Windows Phone.


    Example: “feed:puppies” – By typing this query into Bing, you will only receive links to RSS feeds about “puppies”.


    This operator can be used interchangeably with the “Ext:” operator. By using the “Filetype:” command, you will only receive search results that are direct links to specified file types.

    Example: “puppies filetype:pdf” – By typing this query into Bing, you will only receive PDF files about “puppies”.


    If you do not wish to use the “Feed:” operator to return only RSS feeds, you can use the “HasFeed:” operator to return search results to websites that contain RSS feed links.

    Example: “hasfeed:puppies” – By typing this query into Bing, you will receive websites that have RSS feeds relating to “puppies”, but that are not direct links.


    Sometimes when you are searching the web, you want a quick and easy way to find images of a certain size; sure, you could always use the image size buttons within Bing Image search, but buttons are for “noobs”! Use the “ImageSize:” operator to quickly return images of certain dimensions. Valid search values are “small”, “medium”, and “large”.

    Example: “puppies imagesize:medium” – By typing this query into Bing, you will only receive image results of puppies that are categorized in the medium image size category.


    You will notice that when searching on Bing, search results are returned with a title and a small description. If you wish to perform a search and only want to search titles and not descriptions, you can use the “intitle:” command to tell the search engine to only search within result titles.

    Example: “intitle:puppies” – By typing this query into Bing, you will only receive search results in which “puppies” is in the result anchor (aka, title).


    The complete opposite of the previous search operator, “InBody:” will return search results within the deception below the title.

    Example: “inBody:puppies” – By typing this query into Bing, you will only receive search results in which “puppies” is in the result description.


    If you want to get geeky and only search within sites that are hosted by a specific IP address, you can do so by using the “IP:” operator.

    Example: “puppies ip:” – By typing this query into Bing, you would only receive search results that originate from the “” IP address.



    This operator can become extremely useful if you are searching for content and only want to stay within a specific language for results. Let us say that you wish to search for puppies and only return results in Russian. For the complete language command list, click here.

    Example: “puppies language:ru” – By typing this query into Bing, you would only receive search results about “puppies” that are in the Russian language.


    The location operator is used to return search results from a specific region. This can be a very helpful operator to use if you are searching for news results and want to receive information from a specific country. Click here to view all of the country codes.

    Example: “puppies location:ru” – By typing this query into Bing, you would only receive search results about puppies that originate from Russia.


    The “NOT” operator is another common Boolean operator and can help you return search results that omit certain keywords.

    Example: “puppies NOT beagles” – By typing this query into Bing, you would receive all search results about puppies, but any results mentioning “beagles” would be left out.



    The last simple Boolean operator is “OR”, it allows you to find results that relate to one item or another.

    Example: “puppies OR kittens” – By typing this query into Bing, you would receive search results about “puppies” and “kittens”.


    By including this operator, you can restrict a search to a specific site. It may come in helpful if you are wishing to search a specific site, but the site does not contain a search bar on it like we have here at WPCentral.

    Example: “puppies site:www.WPCentral.com” – By typing this query into Bing, you would receive only search results of puppies that are found within the WPCentral website. Luckily for you, we did mention puppies a few times, so you will get search results (maybe even more, now that we mentioned them in this article!).


    The last operator we will be talking about is the use of quotation marks; by using quotation marks, you can ensure that Bing uses an entire word or phrase instead of just using parts of it. This may come in handy if you are searching for a result such as “Foo Fighters”, in which you want both words to stay grouped together.

    Example: “adorable puppies” – By typing this query into Bing with the quotation marks, it ensures that Bing will not just search for puppies, but “adorable puppies”.


    Searching the web can be a daunting process, especially when you receive hundreds of thousands of search results, but if you choose to use search operators, it can make your job a lot better. You will probably find yourself using the “AND”, “OR”, and “NOT operators the most, but the others we specified above can really help weed out results that are not needed.

    Enjoy your Bing searches and let us know if you have already been using any of these search operators when you explore the web! (And yes, these operators will work with Bing on Windows Phone also)

    Source : windowscentral

    Categorized in Search Engine

    Apple has unveiled its own official measurements for iOS 10 adoption, which comes in at 54 percent. That means the majority of iOS device owners are running the new mobile operating system. What’s interesting, however, is how different Apple’s official figures are from the third-party estimates released earlier this week, which saw much higher adoption among their install base – as high as two-thirds, in fact.



    According to two different sources – Mixpanel and Fiksu – iOS 10 was installed on roughly 66 percent of devices, the firms found. Both data sets are based on apps that use the company’s SDK. In Fiksu’s case, the company reports data sampled hourly in batches of approximately 10 million events, filtered to count unique devices; Mixpanel, meanwhile, claims its reported is “generated from  300,083,243,931 records.” This equates to a sample size of hundreds of millions of unique users, Mixpanel tells us.

    In Apple’s case, however, it calculates iOS adoption rates by App Store visits. That’s a more accurate means of making a determination, as it doesn’t require that users have an app installed on their device running a specific SDK from a third-party.


    According to Apple’s data, 54 percent are now on iOS 10, 38 percent remain on iOS 9, and only 8 percent are running an older version of the iOS mobile operating system.

    Also of note, we’ve confirmed that Apple did not prompt users to upgrade their devices for the first two weeks the iOS update was available – a delay that was spotted in the charts from the third-party firms, as well. Adoption rates spiked sharply toward the end of September, which is when the alert notifications started hitting users’ devices.


    The decision to delay the upgrade notifications was made to ease the strain on Apple’s infrastructure and its Apple Care support teams, we understand. This is the first time Apple has implemented a new policy of delaying the upgrade notifications in order to allow for a smoother, if slower, iOS rollout. After the initial rush of upgrade activity died down, only then did the company begin to alert users who had not yet updated that an upgrade was available to them.

    Despite this delay to notify users, now more than half the active user base moved to iOS 10. For comparison’s sake, Android 7.0 “Nougat,” which arrived several weeks ahead of iOS 10, is only installed on 0.1 percent of devices. The prior release, Android 6.0 “Marshmallow,” is still present on 18.7 percent of devices, and other previous versions still have a good chunk of the overall pie as well.


    In part, this is because Android updates are handled by the manufacturers and carriers, not Google directly, in most cases. This has historically been a huge issue for Google, not only because of security reasons, but also because it fragments the ecosystem, and makes it difficult for Google to get its entire install base using the same features and tools. Even with its new flagship Pixel phones, Google is allowing Verizon to handle all system updates, except for security patches, the company says.

    Source : https://techcrunch.com

    Categorized in Market Research

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