Google Buzz not friends with privacy
Following an outpouring of ire concerning the privacy features—or lack thereof—of its new Buzz social networking client, Google issued an apology and announced it will soon add new settings.
“We quickly realized that we didn’t get everything quite right,” an exec writes on the search giant’s blog,” and “we’re very sorry for the concern we’ve caused.” This is the second major change to the new application.
At issue this time, PCWorld reports, was a feature called “auto-follow” that decided for you which other Buzz users would be connected to you based on email contacts. Now it will be called “auto-suggest,” and give users a chance to cull names before contact is established. Gee, thanks. In addition, users will be able to turn off Buzz completely, and hide their following info from their profile.
Google ‘optimistic’ it won’t pull out of China
“I’m an optimist. I want to find a way to work within the Chinese system and provide more and better information,” he said. “I think a lot of people think I’m naive, and that may be true.”
The remarks came at the annual TED Conference of thought leaders in Long Beach, California.
Google Inc. last month threatened to pull out of China after the Gmail accounts of human rights activists were targeted and hacked, the company said.
There has been speculation that China was behind the attacks. China denies those claims, and Brin said it doesn’t particularly matter whether the government was behind the attacks or not.
“Even if there were a Chinese government agent behind this, it might represent a fragment of policy, as it were,” he said. “I think there are many people there and they have different views. If you look at when we entered China, in 2006, I actually feel like things really improved in subsequent years.
“We had to self-censor a fair amount, but we were actually able to censor less and less, and our competitors were able to censor less and less.”
But that ended with the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, he said.
“There’s been a lot more blocking going on since then,” he said.
Brin maintained that his Mountain View, California, company never entered China to make money. He said Google wanted to spread information.
“Perhaps people don’t believe this, but throughout all of the discussions of entering China our focus has really been what’s best for the Chinese people,” he said. “It’s not been about our revenue or profit or whatnot.”
Google takes next step in world domination: Google Buzz
Google book scanning: Cultural theft or freedom of information?
Frederic Mitterand, the French minister of culture, has said that Google came to France with “the attitude of a conqueror” signing “unacceptable” and “one-sided” deals.
He told Le Monde newspaper that the deals involved “excessive confidentiality, impossible exclusivity and casual –even leonine –clauses on copyright.”
For some, however, Mitterand’s reaction is puzzling — including one of the libraries concerned. Believing that access to their archives can promote French culture, the city of Lyon’s library has signed an agreement with Google, hoping to scan as many as 500,000 books in 10 years.
The first text uploaded online was a rare 16th century collection of doomsday predictions from the French philosopher Nostradamus.Under the Lyon Library contract, Google will scan its books and manuscripts for free. In exchange, the library gives Google the right to use the scanned documents commercially for the next 25 years.
“I find it normal and good that that book is scanned in Lyon where it was written. So I don’t see the problem between using a method developed in the U.S. to promote heritage and culture in France or Europe. I don’t understand the problem,” Patrick Bazin, Director of the Lyon Library, told CNN.
The library’s collection includes national literary treasures and collectibles, such as a 16th century bible, in 12 languages.
That means security is a top concern and Google is therefore keeping the location of its scanning secret.
“By putting them on the Internet, much larger circles of society, including non-specialists, can read these works and enjoy them and find them useful,” Bazin added.
“They are works that touch upon all sorts of subjects of life, of the universe,” he continued.
“They concern everyone and so they matter to everyone, and so they have to be made available to everyone by scanning them.”
At the national level, officials like Mitterand have expressed a strong preference to keep the digitizing an internal affair, and even develop a rival to Google. So far the government has earmarked $1 billion dollars to boost its own online database, known as Gallica.
However, in January, an independent review for the French culture ministry criticized the lack of progress made by Gallica, and recommended a public-private partnership with Google.
Since starting in 1997, Gallica has scanned less than one million documents and about 145,000 books, according to the UK’s Financial Times newspaper.
At the same time, the report concluded that deals between Google and libraries around Europe were disproportionately favorable for Google, and a better distribution would need to be brokered without the exclusivity clauses for France.
Philippe Colombet, the head of Google Books in France, has said in the past that exclusivity was needed to guarantee a return on the investment of scanning, but that he welcomes a partnership with the state.
In a statement emailed to CNN, Colombet reiterated “Google’s commitment to work more than ever in partnership with publishers and other actors in the book industry to help create a virtuous ecosystem for books in the digital era.”
Currently Google has seven library partners in Europe, including Lyon. It is only scanning out-of-copyright works in Europe.
While the final details remain to be hammered out, the pace of Google’s process makes it hard to eschew.
Google has already scanned more than 12 million books into its global index since the Google Books project launched at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2004.
Katy Perry: Google spoiled my surprise proposal
Katy, 25, confessed to Ryan Seacrest on the Grammy red carpet on Sunday, exactly how she new the British comedian planned to propose.
“Unfortunately I still Google myself sometimes and I saw it on Google alerts,” she said, “I’m going to be honest!”
Ryan asked the couple if they’ve set a date to which Russell, 34, replied, “yes”, before a laughing Katy responded, “No, no! I haven’t been told this date yet.”
Ryan offered to host the event and Russell — who called himself a “changed man” — suggested the American Idol host marry them. “I’m ordained as well, so I’m available for you,” joked Ryan, “I can take a day off.”
Larry Page and Sergey Brin selling Google stock
Larry Page and Sergey Brin, co-founders of search engine giant Google Inc., are selling their stock for $2.75 billion each over the next five years, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission made Friday.
The sale is expected to cut the duo’s voting power to 48 percent from 59 percent, but they will still control the company with CEO Eric Schmidt’s 10 percent share. The three have been controlling Google the past 10 years.
The amount that Page and Brin will get from the sale of their Class B shares comprising 17 percent of their 57.7 million shares was based on Google shares’ closing price on Friday of $550 per share.
If Your Password Is 123456, Just Make It HackMe
Back at the dawn of the Web, the most popular account password was “12345.”
Today, it’s one digit longer but hardly safer: “123456.”
According to a new analysis, one out of five Web users still decides to leave the digital equivalent of a key under the doormat: they choose a simple, easily guessed password like “abc123,” “iloveyou” or even “password” to protect their data.
“I guess it’s just a genetic flaw in humans,” said Amichai Shulman, the chief technology officer at Imperva, which makes software for blocking hackers. “We’ve been following the same patterns since the 1990s.”
Mr. Shulman and his company examined a list of 32 million passwords that an unknown hacker stole last month from RockYou, a company that makes software for users of social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace. The list was briefly posted on the Web, and hackers and security researchers downloaded it. (RockYou, which had already been widely criticized for lax privacy practices, has advised its customers to change their passwords, as the hacker gained information about their e-mail accounts as well.)
The trove provided an unusually detailed window into computer users’ password habits. Typically, only government agencies like the F.B.I. or the National Security Agency have had access to such a large password list.
“This was the mother lode,” said Matt Weir, a doctoral candidate in the e-crimes and investigation technology lab at Florida State University, where researchers are also examining the data.
Imperva found that nearly 1 percent of the 32 million people it studied had used “123456″ as a password. The second-most-popular password was “12345.” Others in the top 20 included “qwerty,” “abc123″ and “princess.”
More disturbing, said Mr. Shulman, was that about 20 percent of people on the RockYou list picked from the same, relatively small pool of 5,000 passwords.
That suggests that hackers could easily break into many accounts just by trying the most common passwords. Because of the prevalence of fast computers and speedy networks, hackers can fire off thousands of password guesses per minute.
“We tend to think of password guessing as a very time-consuming attack in which I take each account and try a large number of name-and-password combinations,” Mr. Shulman said. “The reality is that you can be very effective by choosing a small number of common passwords.”
Some Web sites try to thwart the attackers by freezing an account for a certain period of time if too many incorrect passwords are typed. But experts say that the hackers simply learn to trick the system, by making guesses at an acceptable rate, for instance.
To improve security, some Web sites are forcing users to mix letters, numbers and even symbols in their passwords. Others, like Twitter, prevent people from picking common passwords.
Still, researchers say, social networking and entertainment Web sites often try to make life simpler for their users and are reluctant to put too many controls in place.
Even commercial sites like eBay must weigh the consequences of freezing accounts, since a hacker could, say, try to win an auction by freezing the accounts of other bidders.
Overusing simple passwords is not a new phenomenon. A similar survey examined computer passwords used in the mid-1990s and found that the most popular ones at that time were “12345,” “abc123″ and “password.”
Why do so many people continue to choose easy-to-guess passwords, despite so many warnings about the risks?
Security experts suggest that we are simply overwhelmed by the sheer number of things we have to remember in this digital age.
“Nowadays, we have to keep probably 10 times as many passwords in our head as we did 10 years ago,” said Jeff Moss, who founded a popular hacking conference and is now on the Homeland Security Advisory Council. “Voice mail passwords, A.T.M. PINs and Internet passwords — it’s so hard to keep track of.”
In the idealized world championed by security specialists, people would have different passwords for every Web site they visit and store them in their head or, if absolutely necessary, on a piece of paper.
But bowing to the reality of our overcrowded brains, the experts suggest that everyone choose at least two different passwords — a complex one for Web sites were security is vital, such as banks and e-mail, and a simpler one for places where the stakes are lower, such as social networking and entertainment sites.
Mr. Moss relies on passwords at least 12 characters long, figuring that those make him a more difficult target than the millions of people who choose five- and six-character passwords.
“It’s like the joke where the hikers run into a bear in the forest, and the hiker that survives is the one who outruns his buddy,” Mr. Moss said. “You just want to run that bit faster.”
Brace yourself: Google Nexus One unveiled today
The eyes of the tech world swing over to Google HQ today, where the search engine is expected to roll out its much-anticipated Nexus One “superphone.”
Google has stayed tight-lipped about the phone—confirming only that handsets have been handed out to employees for testing—leaving the industry guessing about the company’s much-anticipated vision of a smartphone, the AP reports.
In invitations to today’s event, Google said the industry has only seen “the beginning of what’s possible” with its Android operating system. Analysts, however, are skeptical about the company’s chances of unseating Apple. “Is this going to be an iPhone killer? I don’t think anything is an iPhone killer,” a mobile industry analyst tells CNN. “Was the iPhone a Blackberry killer? It’s never going to be that one device that was promised to us a decade ago.”