Tag: Google

Only 10 percent of cloud apps are secure

Every silver has a cloudy liningNew research has found that only one in ten cloud apps are secure enough for enterprise use.

According to a report from cloud experts Netskope, organisations are employing an average of over 600 business cloud apps, despite the majority of software posing a high risk of data leak.

More than 15 percent of logins for business cloud apps used by organisations had been breached by hackers.

One in five businesses in the Netskope cloud actively used more than 1,000 cloud apps, and over eight per cent of files in corporate-sanctioned cloud storage apps were in violation of DLP policies, source code, and other policies surrounding confidential and sensitive data.

A quarter of all files are shared with one or more people outside of the organisation, and of external users with links to shared content, almost 12 percent have access to 100 or more files.

Netskope CEO Sanjay Beri said that 2014 left an indelible mark on security – between ongoing high-profile breaches and the onslaught of vulnerabilities like Shellshock and Heartbleed, CSOs and CISOs had more on their plate than ever.

“These events underscore the sobering reality that many in the workforce have been impacted by data breaches and will subsequently use compromised accounts in their work lives, putting sensitive information at risk,” he added.

The research also found that the most insecure apps were primarily linked with marketing, finance and human resource software, while cloud storage, social and IT/app management programmes had the lowest proportion of insecure apps.

“Employees today have shifted from thinking of apps as a nice-to-have to a must-have, and CISOs must continue to adapt to that trend to secure their sensitive corporate and customer data across all cloud apps, including those unsanctioned by IT,” Beri continued.

Google Drive, Facebook, Youtube, Twitter and Gmail were among the apps investigated.

Google’s search share falls

330ogleA report said that Google lost US search share in December while Yahoo gained share for the first time in a long time.
The report, from Statcounter, said that in December Google managed to grab 75.2 percent of US searches, with Microsoft’s Bing coming in second at 12.5 percent and Yahoo third with 10.4 percent.
Google had been the default search engine for people using the popular Firefox browser until last month, when Firefox instead struck a deal with Yahoo.
Firefox is not the most popular browser and held  12 percent of internet usage in December 2014.
Statcounter compiles its figures by surveying 15 billion page views a month to ver three million sites.  It does not record figures for Western Europe.


NSA spys on Wikileaks

spyGoogle has told WikiLeaks that on Christmas Eve the Gmail mailboxes and account metadata of a WikiLeaks employee were turned over to law enforcement under a US federal warrant.

WikiLeaks journalist and Courage Foundation acting director Sarah Harrison displayed a redacted copy of the warrant during her presentation on source protection at the Chaos Communications Congress yesterday in Hamburg, Germany.

The warrant was dated for execution by April 5, 2012 by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, and it was apparently part of the continuing investigation by the Justice Department into criminal charges against WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange.

It is not clear whose e-mail was searched and details were not provided, and Wikileaks is a little er secretive about who works there. According to a statement on the organisation’s website, “Given the high level assassination threats against WikiLeaks staff, we cannot disclose exact details about our team members.”

A Google spokesperson said in a statement: that it did not talk about individual cases to help protect all its users.

When it received a subpoena or court order, Google check to see if it meets both the letter and the spirit of the law before complying. And if it doesn’t, it asks that the request is narrowed.

“We have a track record of advocating on behalf of our users,” a spokesGoogle said.

This is the second time a US warrant has been served at Google for data from someone connected to WikiLeaks. A sealed warrant was served to Google in 2011 for the email of a WikiLeaks volunteer in Iceland. The Justice Department has also previously sought to get metadata from WikiLeaks-connected Twitter accounts, and won a court battle with Twitter three years ago to force it to hand it over.


China says Gmail users must lump it

330ogleAccess to Gmail for Chinese users remains restricted but now a state owned newspaper has offered words of advice on the matter.

Global Times, which is controlled by the Chinese authorities, said if the government has indeed blocked access to Gmail, then there must be good reasons – such as “newly emerged security reasons”.

The editorial said it that is the reason for the service not working, users “need to accept the reality of Gmail being suspended in China”.

But the editorial is interlarded with ifs and buts.  It suggests that there may be a technical glitch on Google’s side.  And it said the Western press has accused the government of strengthening cyber censorship.

“The issue at heart is to what extent Google is willing to obey Chinese law, on which China’s attitude is steadfast,” it continued.

Chinese law was the reason that Google decided to quit the mainland in 2010.

Global Times accuses Google of running into conflict with other authorities.

“China welcomes the company to do business on the prerequisite that it obeys Chinese law; however, Google values more its reluctance to be restricted by Chinese law, resulting in conflict.”

Analysts tip tablet sales

new-ipadDespite evidence that sales of tablets showed signs of decline in 2014, one market intelligence is bucking the trend by predicting healthy sales in 2015.

ABI Research said that although 2014 was “lacklustre”, it predicted that there will be solid growth during the next five years with shipments of tablets close to 290 million units in 2019.

But the growth is not for every vendor – Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble and Google will show year on year falls in shipments.

On the other hand, Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo, LG, Microsoft and Samsung are predicted to show higher volumes in 2014.

Senior analyst Jeff Orr doesn’t have good news for Apple.  He said: “Historically, Apple has counted approximately 35 percent of its iPad sales in the last calendar quarter of the year.  Unless Apple can pull off a 32+ million unit quarter, sales for 2014 will be down for the first year since the iPad launched.”

He said that Apple probably shipped 68 million iPads in 2014, but managed to sell 74 million in 2013.

On the operating systems front, Android has 54 percent of branded tablets, Apple iOS has fallen to 41 percent, and Windows 8 has a meagre five percent of shipments.

Cheap Chromebook wave approaches

chromebookA number of vendors plan to release large screen Chromebooks in the first half of 2015 with prices set to challenge Wintel based notebooks.

Google has laid out a reference framework for Chromebooks which means they will cost less than $300 per unit, according to a report from market intelligence firm Digitimes Research.

Dell and Acer will take the lead in cutting prices, with the former introducing a 15.6-inch Chromebook and Acer will introduce a model with the same size screen early next year.

Both are set to use Intel’s Broadwell-U microprocessor and the prices will mean stiff competition as Microsoft wants its hardware partners to produce notebooks costing less than $250.

However, Microsoft cannot hope to get hardware vendors to make Windows 8.1 with Bing machines for the same price point and with similar performance. Although Microsoft has cut licensing fees for Windows in an attempt to beat off competition from Chromebooks, the bill of materials to make notebooks precludes screens 15 inches and above.

China blocks Gmail

Photo of China from satellite - Wikimedia CommonsReports said that the Chinese government blocked access to Gmail accounts on Friday in a bid to further throttle Google.

A freedom of speech group, GreatFire.org, claimed the government was making an attempt to wipe out any Google presence in mainland China, according to a Reuters report.

While practically all of Google’s services have been throttled in mainland China, its email service Gmail was available to people until a block was imposed on Friday.

That block is still in place today. The Chinese government operates a regime which some have dubbed the Great Firewall of China which prevents citizens from seeing internet content that it doesn’t like.

China does not officially admit that it censors some internet services and maintains that it’s all in favour of foreign investment.

Apart from Google.

Driverless cars could kill off ambulance chasers

 ambulanceOne of the first casualties from the introduction of driverless cars could be the end of ambulance chasing personal injury lawyers.

Google, which just announced a “fully functional” prototype of its self-driving car, is looking for auto industry partners to bring the technology to market within the next five years.

According to legal blogger Eric Turkewitz, who is a a personal injury lawyer with the Turkewitz Law Firm in New York, the  matter of lawsuits regarding the cars will, he thinks will be reduced by the number of collisions due to human error.

“Each year about 30,000 people will die in the US from car crashes, and about two million are injured, and that is after considering a significant drop in fatalities from safer cars and seat belts over the prior decades.”

The cars will see the other cars/pedestrians and slow down or stop despite the daydreaming, being drunk, or having a snooze. The number of deaths will be reduced. Your insurance premiums will be theoretically reduced.

“And that meanest the need for my services as a personal injury attorney will be reduced,” he sadly said.

What might save his job is the fact that regulators and insurance companies are reluctant to embrace even incremental steps that allow hands-free driving.

Adrian Lund, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, who predicts hands-free driving systems will not be offered soon because of legal and insurance barriers.

Federal safety regulators say they still need to do more research on the potential safety and benefits of autonomous technology. Odd really, they didn’t do that when the car first came out.

Google sues Mississippi Attorney General

516EDMTJSNLGoogle has sued the attorney general of Mississippi accusing him of conspiring with the movie industry.

The search engine claims that Jim Hood had been improperly influenced by major Hollywood studios that are trying to crack down on the distribution of pirated movies on the Internet.

The lawsuit also questioned the authority of state law enforcement officials to regulate Internet service providers.

Hood and Google have been at war for a while now. Hood issued a 79-page subpoena in October, asking that the company turn over information about its search engine and sales of illegal drugs, pornography and other materials. He suggested that the company was knowingly profiting from such sales and demanded a response from Google by early January.

However during the Sony hack Emails and other records showed how the movie industry, through a nonprofit group it funded, had hired the former attorney general from Mississippi, whom Hood used to work for, to put pressure on Hood to attack Google.

The Sony emails also showed how the major movie studios, working through the Motion Picture Association of America, had created what they called Project Goliath, to press state attorneys general to question, subpoena and sue the company.

All this is a bit tricky for Hood to squeeze out of – although he did have a go. Hood said Google was using its deep pockets in an attempt to “stop the State of Mississippi for daring to ask some questions.” Nevertheless, he said he would call the company and try to work out a deal.

It also accused Hood of essentially acting as a pawn for the MPAA., arguing that. Hood “took these actions following a sustained lobbying effort from the Motion Picture Association of America.”

The MPPA, which was clearly caught out, went onto the attack with its usual bile about how Freedom of Speech is being used as a shield for unlawful activities and “the Internet is not a license to steal.”

However if the case gets to court, it could be a mess for the studios. You can hardly play the victim when you are buying politicians to bully those who disagree with your business model.

Google creates nightmare for business sites

 nightmareThe search engine Google is about to name and shame any site which does not use the HTTPS security protocol.

For years, it has been enough for site users to build their websites using HTTP with only those who run financial transactions needing the more secure protocol.

Now Google is proposing to warn people their data is at risk every time they visit websites that do not use the “HTTPS” system.

If implemented, the developers wrote, the change would mean that a warning would pop-up when people visited a site that used only HTTP to notify them that such a connection “provides no data security.”

The team said it was odd that browsers currently did nothing to warn people when their data was unprotected.

“The only situation in which web browsers are guaranteed not to warn users is precisely when there is no chance of security,” they wrote.

HTTPS uses well-established cryptographic systems to scramble data as it travels from a user’s computer to a website.

However, website operators might have a few problems when it comes to adopting the HTTPS system, but could see traffic plummet if they do not.

Currently only about 33 per cent of websites use HTTPS, according to statistics gathered by the Trustworthy Internet Movement which monitors the way sites use more secure browsing technologies.

Many large websites and services, including Twitter, Yahoo, Facebook and GMail, already use HTTPS by default. In addition, since September Google has prioritised HTTPS sites in its search rankings.


Google faces antitrust hearing

330ogleA judge will hear a plea from Google today that she on dismiss an antitrust lawsuit in San Jose based on a class action against the internet giant.

Google will ask US District Judge Beth Freeman to dismiss a class action alleging that its Android operating system forces companies that use the OS in their devices to not use competing software from other companies like Microsoft.

Google will argue that people are free to use any apps on Android that they want to even though the plaintiffs insist it’s difficult or fiddly to do so.

If the class action is allowed to proceed, it’s likely that it will take some time and we’ll be treated to internal Google emails while executives from the company might be required to argue their position under oath.

Google is under increased scrutiny for its business activities.  A four year long investigation in Europe was given extra impetus last month when the European Parliament passed a resolution to break up the company because of its dominance. That caused the US administration to express worries about the case being politicised.

The European Commission has not yet given any indication of when its investigations will be completed, but has the power to levy large fines on the firm.

Robots make up half of web traffic

114More than half of traffic on the World Wide Web is mostly created by robots reporting on the activities of humans.

According to security outfit Incapsula in 2014, bots roaming the internet represented 56 percent of total web traffic. This is a decrease from 2013, when bots represented 61.5 percent of total internet traffic.

The majority of these bots are ‘good’ bots which include ‘crawlers’ that index web pages for search engines, social networking platforms, RSS feeds and translation services.

Incapsula is worried about an increasing number of ‘bad’ bots, which pose a threat to websites. The worst are ‘impersonator’ bots which are malevolent intruders engineered to circumvent common security measures. They have increased by 15 percent in the last two years.

Incapsul’s Igal Zeifman said that more than 90 percent of all cyber attacks that are executed by bots and  the worst case scenario really depends on the attacker’s intentions and the target.

“Bots can spam, scam, spy, execute denial of service attacks and hack – they can do whatever a human hacker ‘teaches’ them to do, only on a much (much) bigger scale – and this arguably delays the internet’s growth, both as a medium and as a place of business.”

The overall decrease in bot traffic is the result of a steady drop in good bot activity. RSS services are dying and Google’s RSS service, Google Reader, shutdown in July 2013.

Zeifman said click-fraud bots that undermine the advertisers’ profitability are also growing in number.

“I think that today most advertisers have accepted the fact that some of their online budget will be lost on bots. However, I also believe that, as these losses continue to grow, the need for bot filtering solutions will become more and more clear,” he said.



Google reveals top 2014 searches

330ogleSearch giant Google processes trillions of searches a year and now it’s released a list of the top searches in a number of different categories for 2014.

The top searches across all categories were Robin Williams, World Cup, Ebola, Malaysia Airlines, ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, Flappy Bird, Conchita Wurst, ISIS, Frozen and Sochi Olympics.

And top five people searched for in 2014 were Jennifer Lawrence, Kim Kardashian, Julie Gayet, Tracy Morgan and Renee Zwellweger.

On the techie side, the most searched for terms were the iPhone 6, the Samsung Galaxy S5, the Nexus 6, the Moto G, the Samsung Note 4, the LG G3, the Xbox One, the Apple watch, the Nokia X, and the iPad Air.

Apple scored number five in the top YouTube videos with the iPhone 6 Plus Bend test.

The top five deaths were Robin Williams, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Peaches Geldof, Shirley Temple and Maya Angelous.

Dutch prepare to take on Google

boyne2_1Search engine outfit Google could face fines of up to $18.6 million if it does not stop violating the privacy of internet users in the Netherlands, the Dutch data protection agency warned.

The DPA said that Google is breaching the country’s data protection act by using people’s private information such as browsing history and location data to target them with customised ads.

Google has until the end of February to change how it handles the data it collects from individual web users or will have to start writing cheques.

The company’s handling of user data under its new privacy guidelines, introduced in 2012, has also been under investigation in five other European countries – France, Germany, Britain, Italy and Spain.

Jacob Kohnstamm, chairman of the Dutch DPA appears to have had a gutsful of Google prevaricating.

“This has been ongoing since 2012 and we hope our patience will no longer be tested,” said.

Google needs to adequately inform users in advance and ask for permission before it uses data in this way, the DPA said.

It ordered the company to stop the violations or face incremental fines up to a maximum of 15 million euros. It said Google must start informing users of its actions and seeking their consent.

Google should be careful, the Dutch managed to humiliate the British Empire on more than one occasion and a tech Empire should be a doddle.


Spanish press backtracks on Google News

web-abc-madrid_sevillaAfter Google stopped printing news snippets on its News page from Spanish newspapers, the websites of those esteemed organs died.

Now it seems that the Spanish newspapers are asking the government to step in to force Google back.

Google shut its Google News service in Spain after the country bought in a new copyright law which would have forced Google to pay for the use of news snippets.

The Spanish Newspaper Publishers’ Association (AEDE) issued a statement last night saying that Google News was “not just the closure of another service given its dominant market position”, recognising that Google’s decision: “will undoubtedly have a negative impact on citizens and Spanish businesses.

“Given the dominant position of Google (which in Spain controls almost all of the searches in the market and is an authentic gateway to the Internet), AEDE requires the intervention of Spanish and community authorities, and competition authorities, to effectively protect the rights of citizens and companies”.

In other words, Google has the newspaper industry by the short and curlies and if the Spanish government does not do something quick, there will not be an industry to moan about the search engine’s control.

The only workable option is to take the route followed in Germany: to give Google a special deal that allows it to carry on as before, but without having to pay — which would gut the new copyright law completely.

It would also mean that Google would not only be allowed to do what it likes, but continue to have total control of the world’s media. It seems the Spanish Newspapers have found out the hard way that Google already uses its algorithm to decide what is news and which magazines have a right to exist