Wikimedia Director Resigns Following Internal Row Over Search Engine Plans

Lila Tretikov, the Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit organisation that runs Wikipedia, has resigned following an internal feud over the organisation’s plans to launch its own search engine, known as the Knowledge Engine. Treitkov’s exit follows the departure of James Heilman from the WMF Board of Trustees over a lack of transparency by the non-profit of the Knowledge Engine project, which is being part-funded by a grant from the Knight Foundation.

In a letter to Wikimedia members, Treitkov wrote:

“It is with great respect that I have tendered, and the board has accepted, my resignation as Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation earlier this week. I am both inspired by, and proud of, the many great things we have all accomplished at the Foundation over the last two years, most significantly reversing the loss of our editorial community. I would like to thank our Board of trustees.”

While Treitkov does not refer to the Knowledge Engine as the motivator behind her departure, Jason Koebler of Vice Motherboard understands that, as the driving force behind the development of WMF’s search engine, the former Executive Director is being sacrificed to appease disgruntled Wikimedia members.

News of the WMF’s Knowledge Engine plan was broken by Wikipedia Signpost board member Andreas Kolbe, despite a previous denial from founder Jimmy Wales that the organisation was building a search engine.

Image courtesy of The Guardian.

Is Wikipedia Building its Own Search Engine?

It appears that Wikipedia could be building its own search engine, despite denials from site founder Jimmy Wales. Documents have emerged that suggest that Wikipedia has invested $2.5 million into the Knowledge Engine project, which is described as “a system for discovering reliable and trustworthy information on the Internet,” according to The Register.

The concept was unearthed by Andreas Kolbe – who is on the board of Wikipedia’s Signpost – following the exit of James Heliman from the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) Board of Trustees. Heliman left the WMF over a lack of transparency of its Knowledge Engine project, which was part-funded by a $250k grant from the Knight Foundation.

A few days ago, Wales denied that the WMF was working on a search engine, writing on his Wiki user account:

“You wrote “The notion that WMF could get into searching is ambitious and interesting, and it also needs a lot of skepticism. A lot of people want to be Google and aren’t.” Both of those things are true in a sense, but they are also not relevant to this situation. To make this very clear: no one in top positions has proposed or is proposing that WMF should get into the general “searching” or to try to “be google”. It’s an interesting hypothetical which has not been part of any serious strategy proposal, nor even discussed at the board level, nor proposed to the board by staff, nor a part of any grant, etc. It’s a total lie.”

Kolbe, however, claims that the documents on the Knowledge Engine that he has presented proves otherwise. “Its gung-ho ‘We’re building a search engine!’ content is a bit of a bombshell for the volunteer community,” Kolbe said. “They were led to believe it was just about getting a central search function to find stuff spread out across the various Wikimedia sites, with OpenStreetMap thrown in perhaps […] Volunteers feel WMF management has purposely kept them out of the loop.”

How Much Did Google Pay The Guy Who Bought Google.com?

If there’s one that that is integral to the operation of Google.com it is their domain name. Sure, they have .co.uk and a whole host of others from around the world, but owning their own .com is a vital part of their search engine and the hub for the US version of the world’s most popular search engine. So you would think they would keep it paid for and up to date right? Well, last October saw ex-Google employee Sanmay Ved managing to purchase the domain when Google forgot to renew it; I think whoops would be an understatement!

Fortunately for Google, Sanmay isn’t a bad guy and actually did them a bit of a favour, as anyone with darker intentions could have really caused them a bit of a headache, albeit for a short-lived time. When it was realised what had happened, Google reversed the transaction and Sanmay shared his endeavours via LinkedIn. Shortly afterwards, he was contacted by the team at Google Security to offer him a reward for snapping it up, but they didn’t reveal how much he was paid, only commenting that it was offered “in a very Googley way.”

Now it seems that vague comment makes a lot more sense, as it was revealed that Google Security not only paid out a nice sum of money for his reward, but it was about as “Googly” a number as you could come up with. They paid him $6,006.13, which was you can see looks a bit like $G,OOG,LE.

That’s a pretty sweet reward for a minutes work, but as I said before, Ved is a nice guy and donated the money he received to charity, at which point Google immediately doubled the total for him to donate. So it seems a lot of good came out of this little security blunder after all.

How DuckDuckGo Makes a Profit Without Tracking Users

Gabriel Weinberg, founder and CEO of ‘ethical’ Google search engine rival DuckDuckGo, recently took part in an AMA (Ask Me Anything) for YCombinator’s Hacker News, during which he revealed that his business makes a healthy profit, while taking a cheeky swipe at Google’s user tracking.

Weinberg launched DuckDuckGo seven years ago through Hacker News (formerly known as Startup News), described as a hybrid search engine due to its use of a number of APIs and algorithms from other vendors.

“DuckDuckGo is actually profitable. It is a myth you need to track people to make money in web search,” Weinberg said. “Most of the money is still made without tracking people by showing you ads based on your keyword, i.e. type in ‘car’ and get a car ad.”

“These ads are lucrative because people have buying intent. All that tracking is for the rest of the internet without this search intent, and that’s why you’re tracked across the internet with these same ads.”

Weinberg later gave a glimpse into his plans for the future of his search engine, explaining, “There is a recent PEW study showing that 40% of people would prefer a no-tracking search experience. And yet a very small percentage of people have ever heard of DuckDuckGo. As a result, we think we have a lot of room to focus on making the product better and growing, and that is really our future plans in a nutshell.”

Thank you International Business Times for providing us with this information.

Google Announces ‘Alphabet’ Restructuring Programme and new CEO

Larry Page, co-founder of Google, has unveiled a number of dramatic changes to Google’s management in a blog post today. The statement announces his departure as Google’s CEO and the formation of a huge holding company entitled ‘Alphabet’. Page will spearhead this new company alongside Sergey Brin and manage a wide range of outfits. Their new role within Google is to oversee the initial-stage investments, dubbed Capital and Ventures. Each department will have a planned style of leadership and individual CEO. This should create better results through a more focused and specific business strategy.

Sundar Pichai has been promoted and is now the new CEO of Google. His main responsibility lies in Google search, AdSense, Maps, YouTube, Android and the Google Play Store. Larry Page spoke rather fondly of Sundar Pichai and said,

“It is clear to us and our board that it is time for Sundar to be CEO of Google,”

 “I feel very fortunate to have someone as talented as he is to run the slightly slimmed down Google and this frees up time for me to continue to scale our aspirations.”

Google has also undergone a financial transformation and its shares will now contribute to the total number in the Alphabet holding company. Page explained the reasoning behind this and why Google is changing its organizational structure:

“We’ve long believed that over time companies tend to get comfortable doing the same thing, just making incremental changes,”

“But in the technology industry, where revolutionary ideas drive the next big growth areas, you need to be a bit uncomfortable to stay relevant.”

This is a fairly surprising revelation and a massive restructuring process. Although, Page and Brin have expressed interest in technologies which are still in a theoretical stage. They now feel comfortable enough to offset Google’s main management to another division and work on inventions that could be mainstream in 5-10 years time.

Image courtesy of Business Insider.

BBC Disrespects EU’s Right to Be Forgotten – Publishes List of Pages Removed

The BBC, in flagrant disregard of the European Union’s ‘right to be forgotten’ law, has published a list of its own webpages that have been removed from search engine listings via the ruling, promising to update the list frequently.

The EU’s ‘right to be forgotten’ legislation is designed to protect individuals from being persecuted or discriminated against due to past indiscretions, achieved by removing potentially stigmatising materials from search engine results. By publishing a list of pages and articles that have been hidden due to this ruling, the BBC is effectively neutering its intent.

The BBC blog reads:

Since a European Court of Justice ruling last year, individuals have the right to request that search engines remove certain web pages from their search results. Those pages usually contain personal information about individuals.

Following the ruling, Google removed a large number of links from its search results, including some to BBC web pages, and continues to delist pages from BBC Online.

The BBC has decided to make clear to licence fee payers which pages have been removed from Google’s search results by publishing this list of links. Each month, we’ll republish this list with new removals added at the top.

We are doing this primarily as a contribution to public policy. We think it is important that those with an interest in the “right to be forgotten” can ascertain which articles have been affected by the ruling. We hope it will contribute to the debate about this issue. We also think the integrity of the BBC’s online archive is important and, although the pages concerned remain published on BBC Online, removal from Google searches makes parts of that archive harder to find.

This seems scant justification, since the listings have only been removed from search engines, not from the BBC site itself; they have not been deleted, and still show up through internal searches on the BBC website, so to draw attention to pieces that have been hidden from external searches opens them up to speculation. Since the source of the ‘right to be forgotten’ request is entitled to anonymity, persons unrelated to the removal could be persecuted over it, amplifying the very behaviour the EU sought to nullify.

While he BBC does add the caveat, “when looking through this list it is worth noting that we are not told who has requested the delisting, and we should not leap to conclusions as to who is responsible. The request may not have come from the obvious subject of a story,” the statement seems designed to shield itself from any blowback, rather than protect unrelated parties from accusation. I’m sure the EU will be having a disgruntled word in the BBC’s ear quite soon.

Image courtesy of LogoDatabases.

Yahoo Trying to Trick Java Users into Switching Search Engines

Do you use Yahoo Search? No? Me neither. But Yahoo is hoping to change that via trickery. The internet giant has teamed up with Oracle to backdoor Yahoo Search as your default search engine when installing Java. The deal was announced by Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer on Wednesday and will come into effect later this month.

According to Oracle, Java is installed on 89% of desktop computers in the US, and billions of devices around the world, including mobile phones and smart TVs, which by proxy could give Yahoo a huge market boost in its effort to expand the reach of its search engine.

Yahoo has been making steps to increase the userbase of its search engine which, while once popular over a decade ago, is now lagging behind Google, and even Microsoft’s Bing, as the internet’s search engine of choice. A deal with Mozilla, making Yahoo Search the default browser for the Firefox internet browser, was greeted by groans, and this new Java deal is set for an equally negative reaction, potentially rendering Yahoo’s efforts counterproductive.

In truth, the stealth defaulting to Yahoo Search is rather transparent: a checked tickbox that can be opted out of. So, if you tend to click ‘next’ without reviewing what you are agreeing with, you deserve to be a Yahoo user. It’s an unethical tactic, using bundling in order to proliferate your product, but one that responsible computer users can easily sidestep.

Thank you Wall Street Journal for providing us with this information.

Microsoft Reveals How Their Bing Algorithm Determines ‘Mobile-Friendly’ Websites

Microsoft first revealed their interest in mobile-friendly web pages and finding a way to figure out some guidelines for them last year. It seems that the company has been busy since then and finally revealed how they plan on determining which page is good or bad for a mobile device.

If you saw the ‘Mobile-friendly’ tag in the brief website description result of pages found by Bing, then you might already know that Microsoft has rolled out its new mobile-friendly detection algorithm. For those of you who do not know, then a web page which is mobile-friendly in Bing’s eyes is marked with a ‘Mobile-friendly’ tag like in the picture below.

So how are the websites marked for their mobile-friendliness? Well, Microsoft looks to have focused its interest into four major areas. The first one is Navigation, where the algorithm checks the size of buttons, links and menus. Nobody likes it when they try to tap on something and accidentally hit a link or button next to it, no?

The second and third marking criteria are Readability and Scrolling, which are assessed by checking the website’s font size and viewport settings. A mobile-friendly website, like all websites, should have its contents clearly visible without having the user to manually zoom and scroll horizontally on the web page to view its contents.

Last, but not least, the fourth requirement is Compatibility. From my point of view, this is the main decisive criteria to take into account. Web developers should try to make an effort to drop all external or third-party dependencies such as flash content and plug-ins and look into fully exploiting HTML5 that not only has a variety of support, but is also cross-platform compatible.

While the criteria mentioned above shaped the algorithm, some polishing was needed as well. Thanks to a lot of feedback received from users, it was determined that they prefer to use mobile-friendly websites in contrast to non-mobile-friendly ones. With this in mind, Microsoft has made a few changes to the website rankings, shifting mobile-friendly websites towards the top as much as possible. However, this does not mean you will be fed a lot of mobile-friendly websites that have no business with what you are looking for.

Microsoft noted that sites which are “highly relevant to the given query that are not yet mobile-friendly will not get penalized”, which essentially means you will still be getting websites with the most relevant information for your search at the top. But if there’s a mobile-friendly page among them, you will have that given to you first.

More information about Bing’s new mobile-friendly algorithm can be found over at Bing Blogs. So how likely are you to switch to Bing as your default search engine?

Image courtesy of Bing Blogs

Can’t Find Your Android Phone? Just Search for It in Your Browser!

The ‘Find My Phone’ features nowadays are a great way to find you phone if you’ve lost it or had it stolen. You can just go to the manufacturer’s website, log into your account and start snooping around for your phone on a map. You can also lock it or even erase data if you think sensitive information might leak into the wrong hands.

However, the whole process still takes a bit of time. First of all, you need to go to the actual website, find where their ‘Find My Phone’ feature actually is on the website (provided you haven’t used it before) and after all of that you can start searching for it.

Google appears to have simplified the process for Android users according to a Google+ post, having its security feature integrated in its search engine. What this means is that Android users can simply type “Find My Phone” in Google and have it automatically displayed on a map in an instant.

“We’ve all been there — you’ve searched under your car seat, tossed around the sofa cushions and you still can’t find your phone. If you know where your computer is, you can now ask Google to find your Android phone from your desktop. If the pesky phone is hiding nearby, Google can ring it for you — or you can see it on the map if you, say, forgot it at the bar. Just make sure you’ve got the latest version of the Google app!”

Google also had its Android Device Manager available to track your phone, but the same process as other companies described above was implied. So is it better to have it linked to the search engine? Will people actually use Google Search to find their phone?

Whether the feature is a godsend or a nice way to violate your privacy by having other people track you through Google by forgetting to log out of your account on a PC, it remains to be seen.

Image courtesy of Google

Is Google Messing With Your Shopping Search Results?

Do you use Google as your default search engine? You do? Have you ever thought that everything you read, stumble upon or even buy are just imposed on you? Well, it might be true! At least according to the EU’s antitrust commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, who plans on fining the search giant for its manipulative approach.

Vestager seems to be convinced that Google is intentionally manipulating search results to redirect and serve its own interest rather than give back relevant search results that users seek when they use the search giant. To make things clear, the EU is not interested in the company revealing its secret search algorithm, but wants to make sure people get what want, not what they are fed.

“We don’t want to interfere with screen design, how things are presented on the screen as such or the algorithm. What we are concerned about is that people see the most relevant shopping results,” Vestager stated.

There have been some allegations that Google is on the anti-competitive run with its Android operating system as well, but the EU is more focused on its search engine due to the fact that it received a formal complaint regarding the accusations.

“Smartphones, tablets and similar devices play an increasing role in many people’s daily lives and I want to make sure the markets in this area can flourish without anticompetitive constraints imposed by any company,” said Vestager.

Google apparently finds this as “very disappointing news” and is now seeking to reassure the antitrust commission it is within legal boundaries with its operations. But let’s think about it, Google really reached a position where it can even dictate how people think or feel everyday. I mean, what’s the first page loaded by every browser nowadays? I’ll give you a hint. It starts with G and ends with E and sometimes it drops on you when you hit this link.

Thank you The Register for providing us with this information

Google Targets Firefox Users with Special Warnings

Mozilla users will soon see a new message in Google’s search engine urging them to switch their default search engine to Google. Users can also choose to ignore the message and hide it until clearing the browser’s cache by pressing the “No, Thanks” button.

This comes as a result of Mozilla changing its default search engine to Yahoo! in November 2014. Default search contracts are the main route to monetizing third-party browsers. Search providers like Google and Yahoo pay browser-makers tens, or even hundreds of millions of dollars for the unique access, as it is a major driver of search traffic from modern browsers.

Firefox has been working with Google as its default search engine since 2004, but the recent change terminated the long partnership with the top web search engine. Google’s new popups make it clear that the company isn’t happy with the shift and it’s also clear that it considers Firefox search traffic a primary target. Firefox is the third most-used personal computer browser after Google’s Chrome browser and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.

Thank you Daily Tech for providing us with this information

Microsoft Update Takes Down Bing and Yahoo

The outages of search engines Bing and Yahoo! Search on Friday night has been attributed to a flawed piece of code uploaded to servers by Microsoft. The bad code also took down live.com, Microsoft’s Hotmail redirect, and Office 365 for a short period.

Yahoo’s search facility is now powered by Microsoft Bing, hence why both services were rendered inactive. Microsoft was forced to shut down its online servers while it corrected the error. The Bing search engine is back online, but Yahoo users are still reporting faults.

Source: The Register

Yahoo and Microsoft Compete to Become Apple’s Default Search Engine

As Google Search’s contract with Apple nears its end, Yahoo and Microsoft are both vying to replace it as Safari’s default search engine. Yahoo have already stepped into the vacant spot Google left at Firefox, becoming their search engine of choice, and now another lucrative partnership is due for negotiation when Google’s agreement with apple expires next year.

Safari is the core browser on Apple’s Mac and iOS devices, so as such has a sizeable market penetration, making this a potentially lucrative contract. Both Microsoft and Yahoo have ongoing relationships with Apple, the former providing search results via Bing within the iPhone’s Siri, and the latter providing stock data for iOS.

Source: electronista

Firefox Drops Google in Favour of Yahoo

Mozilla’s Firefox browser has abandoned Google as its search engine of choice and signed a five-year partnership deal with Yahoo. As of next month, both mobile and desktop versions Firefox will default to Yahoo Search, promising “a new search experience,” according to the Mozilla blog.

In a statement, Chris Beard, CEO of Mozilla, said, “We are excited to partner with Yahoo to bring a new, re-imagined Yahoo search experience to Firefox users in the U.S. featuring the best of the Web, and to explore new innovative search and content experiences together.” Firefox have had a similar agreement in place with Google – which provided 88% of Mozilla’s income in 2012 – since 2004, but the deal came to an end this year. Google will remain an optional search engine in Firefox, should users wish to change the default settings.

Source: TechCrunch

Right to Be Forgotten Is a Waste of Time

The legal ruling in Europe that allows everyone to wipe their digital slate clean is a complete and utter waste of time. Simply removing your articles from Google is hardly going to cover your ass when you’ve done some thing wrong. In fact some members of the public have taken it upon themselves to expose those who are trying to hide, adding further levels of futility to those who are trying to remove content about themselves from search engines.

A recent House of Lord report declared the idea “wrong”, adding that it’s clear that “neither the 1995 Directive, nor the Court of Justice of the European Unions’s (CJEU) interpretation of it, reflects the incredible advancement in technology that we see today, over 20 years since the Directive was drafted”.

The right to be forgotten is an interpretation of Article 12 of the Data Protection Directive, laid down by European Parliament in 1995 and relating to the protection and processing of personal data. The right to be forgotten rule is a new interpretation of this directive.

“We do not believe that individuals should have a right to have links to accurate and lawfully available information about them removed, simply because they do not like what is said,” Baroness Prashar said.

I couldn’t agree more, if people are so ignorant that they feel they can remove data like this from the internet then fool on them, even worse is when convicted criminals, failed businessmen and more are using this ruling to have articles they don’t like removed from Google, if an article is based around the truth, why should we have to hide it? That’s like burning news papers and books from libraries because they contain stories that someone doesn’t want you to know and it looks like time for this law is about to pass.

Thank you Wired for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Wired.

Google Goes Down For 30 Minutes, Desktop Users Like Lost Sheep

On July 4th (yesterday) at approximately 10:30am GMT Google’s search engine went down for desktop users all over the world. The Google desktop search engine pages greeted stranded desktop users with a 500 Error Page with the usual “The server encountered an error and could not complete your request” error message. Mobile users were still able to access search engine services as this was only an issue for desktop search engine users, other Google services were not affected either. The temporary outage resulted in a mass of tweets and Facebook posts relating to Google’s rare downtime. For half an hour of the day poor Google users were forced to use Bing, Yahoo and other search engines to find out the answer to their urgent question “why is Google down?”. According to downdetector.com the outage was fixed by 11am.

Source: ITPro

Image courtesy of SiliconAngle

Google Try Stop Terminator from Coming Back to Kill Larry & Sergey

Google and their plans for world domination are not exactly rare subjects in the news, but when our Google overlords do finally create a human crushing army of robots worthy of the Terminator franchise, at least Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have a slightly increased chance of not being wiped out.

With Google’s robots.txt file now being 20 years old, it looks like they’ve gone and added another search engine function to Google.com by adding the file Killer-Robots.txt in the event of a robotic Armageddon that results in a T-1000 or T-800 robot coming back through time to kill Larry or Sergey. Not that I’m sure a .txt file would be enough to stop a T-1000, that dude was pretty determined to kill John Connor.

The Robot.txt file now reads:

“User-Agent: T-1000
User-Agent: T-800
Disallow: /+LarryPage
Disallow: /+SergeyBrin”

It’s a nerdy joke, no doubt about it, but I bet Google Chairman Eric Schmidt feels a little hurt that no one in the company thought to protect him from SkyNet.

Thank you CNET for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of TriStar.

 

A.I. Company DeepMind Acquired By Google, Should We Expect Cyborgs Now?

Google is in process of acquiring artificial intelligence company DeepMind based in London for a reported price of $400 million. It is said that Google confirmed the acquisition, but they did not specify a price for the deal.

DeepMind has been founded by games prodigy and neuroscientist Demis Hassabis, along with Shane Legg and Mustafa Suleyman. The company specializes in artificial intelligence for a variety of products, ranging from games, simulations, to e-commerce and even websites. It is also said that CEO Larry Page led the deal himself, due to the fact that not only the company has potential in the long run, but also Hassabis is known for his particular talent, dubbed “probably the best games player in history” by Mind Sports Olympiad.

Judging from LinkedIn, the company is quite young, having around 3 years, and it specializes mainly in building learning algorithms. Sources have said that Founders Fund , along with Horizons Venture are major investors in DeepMind, while having Skype and Kazaa developer Jaan Tallinn as an investor and advisor. Also, sources have said that DeepMind has a team of at least 50 people and has secured more than $50 million in funding. DeepMind is described as “the last large independent company with a strong focus on artificial intelligence,” and is said it competed with companies like Google, Facebook and Baidu for talent.

It makes sense for Google to be interested in such a company with great potential, and think of the possibilities with the AI algorithms! Why, not long ago Google acquired Boston Dynamics, a company that specializes in robotics. Whether they intent to implement the learning algorithms in their giant search engine or their newly acquired ‘toys’, we would expect to see ‘revolutionary’ results from Google in the near future.

Thank you re/code for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of re/code

Facebook And Yandex To Share User Data

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Facebook has agreed to share user date with Russia’s largest search engine Yandex, according to an article from BBC. The deal is said to grant access to public user data from Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan and other independent Commonwealth countries.

The deal was made in both parties’ favour, where the search engine can use the data to further improve its search results and Facebook can get more traffic in Russia. With this, Yandex can now search and return not only Facebook posts for example, but its comments as well. Take note though that posts market as “private” will not be shown.

“In the near future, Yandex’s search results will display not only Facebook users’ posts but also others’ comments on them,” Yandex said in a statement. “Users can find out what those on the social network are saying about the current headline news events, for example, or the latest movies.” they added.

Facebook as long been pushing to make its present in emerging markets, and Yandex has offered to boost that presence by ranking the social media giant in the top results by getting access to Facebook’s user data. Also, the deal has been said not to involve any type of money. However, what the deal is based on, we do not know for sure.

Thank you BBC for providing us with this information

Yahoo! Infected With Malicious Ads, Targets Great Britain, Romania, France and Pakistan

Fox-IT, a security product and service company in the Netherlands, stated that computers visiting Yahoo on January 3 were infected with malware from the Yahoo ad network ads.yahoo.com. Fresh analysis indicates that Yahoo has a handle on the problem and that the attack traffic has decreased substantially. The ads were in the form of IFRAMEs hosted on the following domains:

  • blistartoncom.org (192.133.137.59), registered on 1 Jan 2014
  • slaptonitkons.net (192.133.137.100), registered on 1 Jan 2014
  • original-filmsonline.com (192.133.137.63)
  • funnyboobsonline.org (192.133.137.247)
  • yagerass.org (192.133.137.56)

The ads redirected users to a site using the Magnitude exploit kit, all of which appears to come from a single IP address in the Netherlands, which is perhaps related to why Fox-IT’s customers were affected so quickly. The exploit kit at the site exploits vulnerabilities in Java on the client to install a variety of malware such as ZeuS, Andromeda, Dorkbot/Ngrbot, Advertisement clicking malware, Tinba/Zusy and Necurs.

Fox-IT’s research shows the 83% of the attacks targeted Romania, Great Britain, France and Pakistan. There were none attacks however in the US. They speculate that the distribution was made through a function of the Yahoo! ads which was affected by the malware. Fox-IT recommends blocking the 192.133.137/24 and 193.169.245/24 subnets until further information is available.

Thank you ZDNet for providing us with this information

Microsoft Looking Forward To Bing’s Uprising Next Year

 

Bing has always been something to be criticized when it comes to Microsoft. The internet search engine has been losing money for years, mostly because Microsoft has been building up a massive datacenter infrastructure behind it.

Statistics show that last year, Bing and associated online services cost Microsoft about $1.5 billion. Even for a company the size of Microsoft that is not chump-change. However, those losses were not due to lack of revenue, but a massive, 6 year development and investment cycle.

Microsoft Chief Financial Officer, Dave O’Hara, stated in a analyst meeting that Microsoft’s large-scale build out of infrastructure and algorithm development for Bing is complete. Going forward, improvements will be “incremental” since Microsoft believes it now has full capacity to operate Bing.

With that shift in expenses, that means Bing is in a position to start returning on that investment and make Microsoft from money. Since Bing has been integrated into more services and devices, Microsoft may see this strategy play out well. Bing is not simply a search engine, it is fully integrated with Windows 8.1, Windows 8.1 RT and Windows Phone.

O’Hara also said that Cortana, Microsoft’s personal digital assistant technology for Windows Phone, will be making a debut with the update to Windows Phone 8.1 next year. Just when you thought Microsoft might be setting cruise control on things, it looks like they are about to stomp on the accelerator hard.

Thank you Phonearena for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Bing

Google Might Head Into The ARM Chip Business In The Near Future

Google already has its own smartphones, tablets, the operating system to power them all, and the best search engine to go with it, but it seems it’s not enough. According to Bloomberg, Google is thinking about designing its own processors using ARM technology. The news comes from a source with more knowledge on the subject that says the move would allow Google to better manager the relationship between hardware and software.

Although the possibility of Google-designed chips for phones and tablets will be a big step forward for the company, it could also mean Google won’t need to rely on Intel as much for server processors. According to Bloomberg, Google is currently Intel’s fifth largest customer, spending around $500 million on Intel chips each year. That might change if Google’s designing its own processors.

Based on the Bloomberg report, a Google spokesperson said it is “actively engaged in designing the world’s best infrastructure” and that this includes both hardware and software design. As always. the company refused to comment further than that.

“We are actively engaged in designing the world’s best infrastructure,” said Liz Markman, a spokeswoman for Google, in an e-mail. “This includes both hardware design (at all levels) and software design.” Markman declined to say whether the company may develop its own chips.

Thank you Tom’s Hardware and Bloomberg for providing us with this information

Russia Building State-Controlled “Sputnik” Search Engine

A Reuters report that emerged recently suggests that Russia is preparing to launch its own state-controlled search engine. The state-controlled search engine will be dubbed “Sputnik” and the Sputnik search engine will be operated by the Russian state-controlled Rostelecom. The Russian government has been pouring a fair bit of money into it, $20 million so far, and has started trying to hire in talent from other big search engines. The website www.sputnik.ru will go live in Q1 of 2014 and will be the default search engine for all state employees. So far the Sputnik project has indexed about half the Russia internet.

Analysts are sceptical of Sputnik’s chances of success and it is not expected to eat much into the 60% market share Yandex has in the Russian search engine market. Analysts claim the expertise required for a successful search engine is not possessed by Rostelecom and the Russian government has underestimated the expertise needed.

“Even if the launch of Sputnik is well-executed, we do not expect it could significantly eat into the market shares of Yandex or Google” said Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts.

A state-controlled search engine would be the latest internet control measure put in place by the Russian government which has already seen it launch a website black-list that critics claim will increase censorship in the country.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Google Implements New “Hummingbird” Search Algorithm

On Google’s 15th anniversary, they introduced a new search algorithm to its giant search engine. According to Google, this change to the core algorithm is its biggest since the launch of Caffeine in 2010. Google senior vice president, Amit Singhal, stated that while page ranking and indexing must work together in a search engine, Caffeine was focused more on the ranking side. Hummingbird is more about indexing. “Hummingbird gave us an opportunity after years of building to rethink how we use the power of these things,” Singhal stated.

Any changes to Google’s search rankings can have big ramifications due to their steer of a lot of the Internet’s traffic. Google hosts 2 out of 3 search requests in the U.S. and handles even more volume in parts of Europe. The change would also impact the price of Google ads, driving the prices up to demoted websites looking for marketing messages which can boost their ratings.

Google revealed the new search algorithm on Thursday at an event held in Menlo Park, California, where CEO Larry Page and co-founder Sergey Brin started the company 15 years ago.

Thank you Huffingtonpost for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Google.

Google Goes Down For 5 Minutes, Internet Traffic Drops 40%

Google.com hasn’t properly gone down or offline since 2009. However, on August 16th between 22:52 and 22:57 GMT Google was down, yes Google was down for 5 straight minutes – just how did people survive? Well apparently not very well at all because Global Internet Traffic plummeted 40% during that period of time. This dip in traffic measured by GoSquare showed that Global Page Views in that period fell 40% compared to before the outage.

The outage affected Google.com and related services like Gmail but static services like YouTube were not affected and users of YouTube would of had no problem searching through and browsing content. It just goes to show how dependent the world’s internet really is on Google, imagine a Google outage for a whole day? Many websites and businesses would simply be crippled by a total lack of traffic and it would cost internet related businesses dearly.

Here’s to hoping that the next Google outage is a long time away and will only be as trivial as this one. Did you notice Google was down for that five minute period?!

Image courtesy of Google

Yahoo Search Engine Getting A Redesign

Since Marissa Mayer took over as the Yahoo CEO it has seen some dramatic changes. These started with restructuring, followed by a push into the mobile market and recently they pushed past the milestone of having acquired 10 companies under her leadership. This has also been paired with a return to profit despite all these acquisitions.

With changing fortunes comes a changing search engine design and while Yahoo is dwarfed by the likes of Google and Bing, it is still a big search engine. Yahoo have been working on a new design for their search engine, which you can see below but it currently doesn’t show up on Google Chrome or Safari.

You can see the newly designed search engine page in the above image as shown by SearchEngineLand. The updated search page relocates search types (web, images, video. etc) to the sidebar rather than leaving it at the top. There is also a new navigation menu at the top linking to other Yahoo services including the recently acquired Flickr service.

The related searches and also try features have both been removed and the URL of each search result have been re-positioned to be under the title in “Google style”.

Image Courtesy of Search Engine Land