Two Million Passwords Stolen by Hackers

Trustwave logoOn November 24, 2013, researchers at Trustwave discovered that hackers have obtained up to 2 million passwords for websites like Facebook, Google, Yahoo!, Twitter (and others). Researchers learned this after digging into source code from Pony bonnet. It appears that information about this has only been made public very recently.

Here’s some quick stats about some of the domains from which the passwords were stolen:

* Facebook – 318,121 (or 57%)
* Yahoo! – 60,000
* Google Accounts – 54,437
* Twitter – 21,708
* Google.com – 16,095
* LinkedIn – 8,490
* ADP (a payroll provider) – 7,978

In total, Pony botnet stole credentials for: 1.58 million websites, 320,000 email accounts, 41,000 FTB accounts, 3,000 remote desktops, and 3,000 secure shell accounts.

According to Trustwave, around 16,000 accounts used the password “123456”, 2,221 used “password” and 1,991 used “admin”. Now is a good time to go change your passwords into something strong and secure.

Doing so won’t make it entirely impossible for hackers to crack it, but it could make it more difficult. Trustwave noted that only 5% of the 2 million passwords that were stolen had excellent passwords (meaning the passwords had all four character types and were longer than 8 characters).

AltaVista is Shutting Down

AltaVista logo Remember AltaVista? I was quite surprised to learn that it was still in existence. Many of us have moved on to other search engines since AltaVista was created. If you are feeling a sense of nostalgia about AltaVista, you should probably go use it soon. Its days are numbered.

Yahoo! acquired AltaVista in 2003. Yahoo! has announced several of the upcoming product closures. AltaVista will shut down on July 8, 2013.

The announcement suggests that people visit Yahoo! Search “for all your searching needs”. That’s one alternative to AltaVista. I suspect that most people are probably using Google for their “searching needs”. Bing is another option.

Typically, when a company shuts down something that had been offered for years, there is some public outcry from the people who are currently using it. Most of the news I’ve read about AltaVista expresses surprise that it has survived for this long.

Flickr Offers a Free Terabyte of Space

Flickr LogoFlickr looks a lot different today than how it used to. Yahoo! (which owns Flickr) has given Flickr a makeover that includes a brand new design. What once showed you small thumbnails of photos, with a lot of white, empty, space surrounding them, now features the photos much more prominently.

To me, it seems like Flickr’s new look resembles that of Facebook, or perhaps Pinterest. The photos are bigger, filling up the screen. Users now have a homepage that includes an activity feed that combines your friends’ recent uploads with the activity on the photos that you have uploaded. I wasn’t thrilled with the new design at first, because it takes me a long time to “re-learn” how to use social media when it visually changes. Eventually, I figure the new design will grow on me.

In addition to the very obvious design change, Flickr also announced that users will get a free terabyte of space. Their blog says:

At Flickr, we believe you should share all your images in full resolution, so life’s moments can be relived in their original quality. No limited pixels, no cramped formats, no memories that fall flat. We’re giving your photos room to breathe, and you the space to upload a dizzying number of photos and videos, for free. Just how big is a terabyte? Well, you could take a photo every hour for forty years without filling one.

In December of 2012, Flickr released a Flickr iPhone app. Today, it announces the release of the Flickr app for Android users, which can be found at the Google Play store.

Will Yahoo! Screw Up Tumblr?

Today Yahoo! announced they have purchased Tumblr for $1.1 billion. Of course, Yahoo’s track record for buying companies seems to be that of a kid with ADHD at Christmas time – by February they want new toys. Will this be a great deal for Yahoo! or will we they just push aside for another acquisition down the road.

Yahoo! Acquires Tumblr

Tumblr, a microblogging and social networking platform that was founded by David Karp in 2007 was purchased by Yahoo! for $1.1 billion dollars. Tumblr brings in 175 employees and 108.5 million blogs that reach 44 million people. This inlcudes the thousands of blogs that were imported from Posterous a few months back.

The Exodus from Tumblr to WordPress May Show No Faith in Yahoo! Tumblr

Yahoo Keep Calm gif

Yahoo Keep Calm animated gif (click on to see the image)

According to Matt Mullenweg’s blog today, imports have spiked to WordPress after the news of Yahoo! purchase. “Normally we import 400-600 posts and hour from Tumblr, last hour is was over 72,000.”

Marissa Meyer replied with a “We won’t screw this up” answer. She posted on her own Tumblr (the one with a very annoying gif saying “NOW PANIC and FREAK OUT” followed by “Keep Calm and Carry On”. You can see the annoying gif here.

“We promise not to screw it up.” says Mayer. “Tumblr is incredibly special and has a great thing going.  We will operate Tumblr independently.  David Karp will remain CEO.  The product roadmap, their team, their wit and irreverence will all remain the same as will their mission to empower creators to make their best work and get it in front of the audience they deserve.  Yahoo! will help Tumblr get even better, faster.”

Flickr Offers 3 Months of Storage for Free

Flickr from Yahoo!Flickr is doing a very interesting little promotion right now. They are giving everyone 3 months of unlimited storage for free. You can upload your photos to Flickr for free “all day, everyday” for the next three months.

“Unlimited” means “mostly unlimited”. Flickr is basically trying to avoid abuse of the free offer. The fine print reads:

During the Flickr Holiday Gift promotion, as long as you follow the Yahoo! Terms of Service and don’t trigger our anti-abuse controls, you can use an unlimited amount of free photo storage.

Note: To avoid abuse of our unlimited storage, we do monitor accounts for excessive usage. Yahoo! Limits the number and size of photos allowed from an account within a given timeframe. While our goal is to ensure that everyone benefits from unlimited storage, Flickr is not intended to be used as a content distribution network.

Here’s what the Flickr Holiday Gift promotion gives you:

* Unlimited photos (see note above). There also is a limitation of up to 50MB per photo.
* Unlimited viewing of your entire photo library
* Post photos in up to 60 groups
* Download your original, high-resolution photos – whenever you need them
* Upload and play unlimited HD videos.

To get it, just click the bright blue button that says “Get it now”. I clicked it to see if I could learn more about the offer, and unintentionally ended up accepting it. Oops! Once you activate the offer, it brings you to a page that says “Yay!” at the top.

It should be noted that I had a Flickr account previous to this offer, I still have it, and I let my Pro Account lapse a few months ago. My guess is that if you are brand new to Flickr you might have to give them some of your information in order to take advantage of this offer – but I could be wrong about that.

A little investigating revealed that by clicking on the “Get it now” box I have, inadvertently, re-activated my Flickr Pro Account. It is set to expire on March 22, 2013. So far, Flickr hasn’t asked me for any money. I suspect they will sometime in March, right before the Pro Account expires.

Perhaps Flickr is hoping that I, and all the other users that unintentionally re-activate their Pro Accounts, will love the extra free stuff enough to pay to keep it after the free 30 days ends. I kind of feel like I’ve been tricked into re-activating my Pro Account. So far, though, no financial harm has been done as a result.

Flickr may also be hoping that this offer of 3 months of unlimited free storage will attract the people who recently deleted their Instagram account after learning Instagram’s new terms of service. If so, that’s a pretty smart move on Flickr’s part.

Flickr Releases a Brand New iPhone App

Flickr AppFlickr has just released the all new Flickr app for iPhone. I learned about this when I went to Flickr today to search for a creative commons image that I could legally put into a blog I was writing. Near the top of Flickr’s page, a colorful banner read “Smile. The All New Flickr iPhone App is Here”. A bright pink, conveniently located button was in the banner, just waiting for me to click it.

We’ve been hearing, and reading, quite a bit about the feud that has been going on between Twitter and Instagram. In short, the disagreements have to do with user’s photos. More specifically, it seems to be about control over where users are allowed to put their photos, based upon what app they are using. It is a bit of a competition between the two companies to see which will end up with more people using its apps to alter and post photos of their dinner.

The all new Flickr app for iPhone has 16 unique camera filters that you can play around with in order to alter your photos. It has editing features, and allows for geo-tagging.

The app lets you share your photos with your Flickr groups, with your email contacts, or on Facebook, Twitter, or Tumbler. You can make your photos as public or private as you would like to. You can view photos from your groups and see recent photo activities from your friends and family (and leave comments on them).

Flickr also has an app for Android that was updated on December 4, 2012. It, too, has the same features that the brand new iPhone Flickr app has. It appears that Flickr has become another competitor in the battle for users who want to alter their photos and then post them online. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

Yahoo Updates Image and Video Search

You may have written off Yahoo search, but the company themselves haven’t yet given up, even though they have outsourced most everything to Bing.  Today the former leader of the industry rolled out a brand new version of their video and image search.  Yahoo has strengthened their partnership with Getty Images to help power the new features.

Getty brings with them access to some of the highest quality images and they claim about 20,000 new images added daily and material from some of the highest-profile photographers.  In addition to the new images there are new features to go along with them.  Both image and video search have a brand new tiled thumbnail look.  The thumbnails become larger when hovered on, much like Bing and Google have been doing for some time.  Also borrowed from search competitors is the infinite scroll feature that Yahoo has now introduced.  There are also two new filters on the left column – HD and Recent.  “For images, the HQ badge identifies photos with at least 2 megapixels and a 1024 x 768 aspect ratio. For Yahoo! HQ videos, we use adaptive streaming technology to optimize your viewing experience by continuously adjusting the quality of the streamed Yahoo! hosted video to match the capabilities of your network and device.”  Users can also search in the right column while watching a video in the main part of the screen.

 

The new features seem to be rolling out and not all users have access to them right now.  To see more images of the new features you can head over to the Yahoo blog.

Yahoo Sues Facebook Over Ten Separate Patents

Yahoo has filed a patent infringement suit against Facebook. The case has been filed in federal court in San Jose, California.

Yahoo says that it is suing over ten patents that are related to web-based advertising. Yahoo is also suing because the company says that Facebook is using a social networking model that is based on Yahoo’s patented social networking technology.

In plain English, here are the things that this dispute is about:

US Patent 7454509 Online Playback system with community bias
This refers to a music station that selects what songs to play based on what you and your friends have indicated that you like to listen to.

US Patent 7599935 Control for enabling a user to preview display of selected content based on another user’s authorization level
This one is basically talking about the News Feed page in Facebook. Everything you see is there because your friends decided to share that content with you.

US Patent 5983227 Dynamic Page Generator
The easiest way to describe this is to say that it is talking about an individualized homepage that you can modify and customize to better suit your own personal interests.

US Patent 7747648 World Modeling using a relationship network with communication channels to entities.
In short, this patent is talking about a system that allows you to send a private message to someone else that you have connected with within a particular social media system. It is talking about the “e-mail” that you get within Facebook.

US Patent 7406501 System and method for instant messaging using an e-mail protocol
This patent refers to the instant messaging system that you can use to talk to other people who are also on Facebook. In other words, the chat function.

US Patent 6907566, US Patent 7100111, and US Patent 7373599 Method and system for optimum placement of advertisements on a webpage
These three patents are all referring to when Facebook places an ad on its website that is based on things you have done before. Those ads that sit on the side of your Facebook page are specifically targeted to your interests, based on what you clicked on or “liked” in Facebook.

US Patent 7668861 System and method to determine the validity of an interaction on a networking
This patent refers to the system that Facebook uses to figure out if someone who joined Facebook is a real person. It uses the data posted by said user to make that determination.

US Patent 7269590 Method and system for customizing views of information associated with a social network user.
Have you ever logged into Facebook and noticed that one of your friend’s current profile photos has been displayed? This patent refers to the system that is used to decide which friend’s photos you will see.

Image: Facebook Social Media by BigStock

Yahoo Reveals Top 10 Searches of 2011

Yahoo today announced the 10th anniversary edition of their Year in Review.  The top 10 searched terms are a general barometer of the year, giving insight into the biggest products, news stories, and celebrities.  Yahoo boasts about 700 million unique monthly users, so these results do provide a pretty good overview of the hot topics of the year.  Yahoo has made their Year in Review available “in 17 versions including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Italy, Korea, Mexico, Philippines, Spain, Taiwan, United Kingdom, and United States”

Surprisingly, at least to me, was that the most searched for term of 2011 wasn’t a celebrity or a news story, but a tech item – the iPhone.  It was the first physical object to garner the number one spot since the Playstation 2 did in 2002.  Britney Spears is the only multi-time winner, being number one in 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008.  The Apple phone was the only non-news, non-person to to make the top ten list.  Beyond it, you will find a mix of names, mostly celebrities along with a couple from news stories.  Only one event made this year’s list – the Japan earthquake.

Here are top ten most searched for terms of 20, based on Yahoo’s data.

  1. iPhone
  2. Casey Anthony
  3. Kim Kardashian
  4. Katy Perry
  5. Jennifer Lopez
  6. Lindsay Lohan
  7. American Idol
  8. Jennifer Aniston
  9. Japan earthquake
  10. Osama bin Laden

You can get a lot more data and lots of different lists by visiting the Yahoo Year in Review.