When you go to a website, you are often met by an onslaught of advertisements. For everything from custom-built PC’s to the latest diet trend, advertisements are everywhere. Sadly they may not be the only thing appearing on your computer with the use of malicious adverts appearing more and more often. In the recent onslaught though even the BBC was caught running malicious adverts on their site.
Major websites were hit by the “malvertising” attack which sees malicious adverts uploaded to third party advertising companies which then give these adverts out to other sites. The harmful “malverts” included your everyday malware and even file-encrypting ransomware, a type of software that is making and appearance more and more these days.
Trend Micro first reported on the malverts on Monday, only to have a similar post held off till Tuesday from MalwareBytes Labs while they contacted several advertising networks in the hope of getting the malicious adverts removed.
With large groups like the BBC, Newsweek, MSN and the New York Times all being exposed to the malicious adverts it may be a good time to check that your anti-virus software is up t o date and do a thorough scan of your system.
While internet browser Opera isn’t quite the technical powerhouse it used to be, the Norwegian company has announced that it is adding native ad-blocking to the software. The feature is included in the latest developer edition of the browser – but deactivated by default – and the company believes its native system is more effective than third-party apps, and that blocking ads will speed up page loads by up to 40%, on average, with some sites potentially seeing speed improvements of up to 90%.
“If there were no bloated ads, some top websites would load up to 90% faster,” Opera’s Senior Vice President for Global Engineering Krystian Kolondra writes in a post on the official Opera blog. “Today, we wanted to share with you a native ad-blocking technology in our Developer channel for Opera for computers. “Native” means unmatched speed vs extensions, since the blocking happens at the web engine level.”
“We are the first major browser vendor to integrate an ad-blocking feature, but this development should be a no surprise to anyone given the rising popularity of ad-blocking software and even Apple allowing it on its platform,” Kolondra adds.
The move is sure to be controversial, with sites such as Forbes and The New York Times blocking their content for users of ad-blocking software, but Kolondra says that Opera is only serving the desires of its users.
“Advertising fuels the internet, allowing for many services to be free for users,” Kolondra writes. “But, as our new research shows, most webpages today are significantly slowed down by bloated ads and heavy tracking. We don’t accept it – we want the web to be a better place for us all, as users.”
Following the massive leak of surveillance data by whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013, it was revealed that the US National Security Agency (NSA – its headquarters pictured above) had been collecting e-mail metadata as part of a program it claimed ended in 2011. However, a lawsuit filed by the New York Times has revealed that the NSA effectively continued the program from 2011 onwards, just under a different rules, and under less scrutiny from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) than the previous iteration.
The New York Times filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the NSA – the newspaper is one of the greatest proponents of the FOIA, and has used it to investigate the treatment of Guantanamo Bay detainees and the secret interpretation of the Patriot Act – through which it obtained records that the NSA ended its e-mail records program, which was authorised under the Pen Register and Trap and Trace (PRTT) provision, as “other authorities can satisfy certain foreign intelligence requirements” that its own system “had been designed to meet.”
“The databases could be queried using an identifier such as an email address only when an analyst had a reasonable and articulable suspicion that the email address was associated with certain specified foreign terrorist organizations that were the subject of FBI counterterrorism investigations. The basis for that suspicion had to be documented in writing and approved by a limited number of designated approving officials identified in the Court’s Order. Moreover, if an identifier was reasonably believed to be used by a United States person, NSA’s Office of General Counsel would also review the determination to ensure that the suspected association was not based solely on First Amendment-protected activities.”
The two new methods that the NSA exploited to continue collecting e-mail metadata without the above oversight were:
Obtaining data collected by foreign intelligence agencies, such as the UK’s GCHQ, and;
Using the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments of 2008 to collect the metadata of non-citizens of home soil without a warrant, which included e-mails sent to and from US citizens.
The NSA and Office of the Director of National Intelligence did not respond to the New York Times’ request for comment on these revelations.
Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon has strongly refuted claims by the New York Times which described Amazon’s working conditions as deplorable and could result in psychological breakdowns. For example, Bo Olson, who worked in books marketing said,
“Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk.”
Bezos doesn’t recognise the portrayal of Amazon in the New York Times article and released a thorough statement to employees:
If you haven’t already, I encourage you to give this (very long) New York Times article a careful read:
Here’s why I’m writing you. The NYT article prominently features anecdotes describing shockingly callous management practices, including people being treated without empathy while enduring family tragedies and serious health problems. The article doesn’t describe the Amazon I know or the caring Amazonians I work with every day. But if you know of any stories like those reported, I want you to escalate to HR. You can also email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Even if it’s rare or isolated, our tolerance for any such lack of empathy needs to be zero.
The article goes further than reporting isolated anecdotes. It claims that our intentional approach is to create a soulless, dystopian workplace where no fun is had and no laughter heard. Again, I don’t recognize this Amazon and I very much hope you don’t, either. More broadly, I don’t think any company adopting the approach portrayed could survive, much less thrive, in today’s highly competitive tech hiring market. The people we hire here are the best of the best. You are recruited every day by other world-class companies, and you can work anywhere you want.
I strongly believe that anyone working in a company that really is like the one described in the NYT would be crazy to stay. I know I would leave such a company.
But hopefully, you don’t recognize the company described. Hopefully, you’re having fun working with a bunch of brilliant teammates, helping invent the future, and laughing along the way.
Now both sides of the story have been publicly revealed, it’s virtually impossible to know the inner workings of Amazon without becoming an employee. Although, a documentary from the BBC shows insider footage as an undercover journalist experiences the Amazon workload. I would highly recommend watching the video, despite its poor quality as it really is quite shocking.
Thank you The Verge for providing us with this information.
As we recently reported on Facebook’s attempt to integrate further with smartphones, it looks like we now know more of what they are trying to accomplish. By natively hosting the news. The New York Times’ sources are saying that Facebook has been talking to six different media companies in regards to directly publishing their content on Facebook’s site, not just a link to the article. The names of the companies we know now are The New York Times, Buzzfeed, National Geographic, and The Huffington Post. As to what Facebook is wanting to accomplish, they think that an eight second load time average per page, on mobile, is too long, beyond just having the investment in mobile technology.
What is a good part of that load time experienced is advertisements, which actually generate a fair amount for the companies. As the NYT has said, the ideas reception isn’t going swimmingly, which isn’t that surprising. As the companies see it, Facebook has more to earn financially in the end, as they haven’t established much of a traffic-data sharing plan, due to the fact that users would stay on Facebook, rather than going to the media companies site, even if more people have access to it. With the sheer number of people on Facebook a day, and courtesy of Facebook’s curated news feed, the stories would be much more exposed than just being on the originating media companies site. However making this a fair deal is currently unknown.
The new trend seems to be Media personalities jumping to the tech sector, earlier this year we had Katie Couric and David Pogue join Yahoo and now Apple has snagged Former New York Times Design Director Arem Duplessis. There has been no word yet from Apple as to what Mr Duplessis role will be at Apple, all they are saying is that he will be joining their internal marketing team. When Mr Duplessis was at the New York Times for nearly 10 years, he was behind some of the most memorable front covers which is not surprising seeing he has a highly decorated background in magazine design.
During his tenure at the New York Times, the Design Department which he was director of was named “Design team of the year” for three consecutive years. If that wasn’t enough he and his team also won an Emmy in 2012 for their Video Series on great actors playing villains. As well as his design work Mr Duplessis is also lending some of his time and experience to the Pratt Institute’s Graduate Communications Design Department as an assistant professor their. When asked about his move to Apple Mr Duplessis had this to say;
“I have worked with some of the smartest people on the planet and it’s been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I feel very fortunate to have been able to experience such a great gig. With that said, it’s time for a new chapter in my life and a new challenge”.
Whatever official role Mr Dupessis takes up at Apple, his wealth of knowledge will certainly be an asset of the tech giant and will most definitely be put to good use.
As the UK government steps up its efforts to censor the Guardian newspaper from publishing material based on the Snowden leaks, by abusing prior restraint and pre-publication injunctions, the Guardian has turned to the New York Times for help. The Guardian will team up with the NYT so that the NYT can continue to publish material based on the leaked Snowden materials.
This comes after the Guardian were issued an ultimatum by the UK government to hand over all the Snowden materials or have to destroy all their office hard drives. The Guardian chose to instead destroy the materials stating that they had additional copies stored overseas. Now the Guardian is effectively limited from making certain publications based on these materials in the UK so the New York Times will assist with the work the Guardian started.
“In a climate of intense pressure from the UK government, the Guardian decided to bring in a US partner to work on the GCHQ documents provided by Edward Snowden. We are working in partnership with the NYT and others to continue reporting these stories.” Said the Guardian.
The reason for the move is that U.S journalists are protected by the law so can legally publish stories based on the Snowden leaks. The Guardian will continue with publication of its stories but no doubt will need the support of other publications as it faces increasing pressure from the UK government.