America Online, at one-time the largest ISP in the world, looks like it may be in its death throes. Once famous for mailing out millions upon millions of AOL subscription CDs*, the company recently reported some grim figures for profits that show AOL going from from a $90M net profit last year to a $1B net loss this year. But that's not the worst thing on AOL's plate.
You've got to hand it to Microsoft. And if you don't hand it to them, they'll just come and take it. An article in the Wall Street Journal details how Microsoft made a decision to throw away your privacy in return for money from advertising companies. According to the article, a "heated debate" ensued when developers worked to make Internet Explorer keep your private data away from the prying eyes of online advertisers.
With some businesses today, it's not enough that you succeed- others must fail. And nothing could be truer of that mindset than with Microsoft. Steve Ballmer recently showed this clearly through a comment he made about Apple's iPad. Basically, the comment boiled down to this: we measure our success by how badly you do, not by how well we do.
Since news of new Facebook hacks continue to appear with the regularity of the rising Sun, we'll soon be changing the name of this blog to "Daily Facebook Hacks". Or maybe "Facebook Hack Of The Hour". Yes, gentle reader, shocking as it may be, another Facebook exploit was just announced. This time it's a spam campaign that's hijacking user accounts and posting messages on the "Wall" feature of user profiles.
Bad News for users of Siemens devices that run the WinCC operating system: Siemens deliberately made their system running WinCC deeply vulnerable, knew about the problem for 2 or more years, and made a command decision to do….nothing. That's right: Siemens built a seriously stupid vulnerability into their systems and then ignored it for over two years, even after being informed of it. That's Siemens, the company whose tag line is "Global Network of Innovation". With "innovation" like that, we're all screwed.
As an added (but unwanted) service, it appears that computer maker Dell is shipping motherboards that come pre-infected with a firmware-based trojan. Dell has confirmed that some of the firm's PowerEdge R410 server motherboards "contain spyware of unspecified function". "Dude, you're getting a Trojan!"
More Good News: most home routers, like the one you're using right now, are "easily hackable". A researcher named Craig Heffner from the security consultancy company Seismic says about half the existing models of home routers are vulnerable to hackers. This includes most Linksys, Dell, and Verizon FiOS or DSL routers, plus others. The technique to infiltrate and take over routers like the ones mentioned has been known aboutsince at least 1995, but as Heffner puts it, "It just hasn't been put together like this before."
Spammers, like all primitive forms of life, continue to evolve in ways calculated to enhance their viability or survival potential. The most recently observed wrinkle they've come up with is using short-lived or "disposable" domain names. These are domains that they use for only a few hours before switching to the next one.
Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, stated that the company would release a variety of tablets and "smart devices" within the next few months. Ballmer made the statement in his keynote speech in Washington, D.C. at the Worldwide Partner Conference. The problem is that a) no one really believes this, and b) no one really cares, even if it turns out to be true.
In a follow-up to yesterday's post on how Apple's App Store has been hacked and compromised, we now have exciting news: Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller released a statement detailing the fancy new lock that Apple is going to install on the store's barn door "real soon now".