Russian Pornhub hackers caused millions in damages

Cyber criminals based primarily in Russia hijacked ads on Pornhub to infect viewers’ computers with malware, causing millions of dollars in damages, according to a US indictment.

The criminals controlled more than 1.7 million infected computers, which were used without their owners’ knowledge to secretly load advertisements that they were collecting the revenue from, the US Department Of Justice has said.

Eight men – six from Russia and two from Kazakhstan – have been charged with cyber crimes. Three are awaiting extradition, while the others remain at large.

According to the unsealed indictment, businesses were left paying out more than $29m (£23m) for ads which were never viewed by real human internet users.

Also unsealed were seizure warrants allowing the FBI to take control of 31 internet domains and take information from 89 computer servers to shut down the botnet globally.

Pornhub at the 2018 AVN Adult Entertainment Expo at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on January 24, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Image:The criminals infected Pornhub viewers

The cyber criminals’ activities were detailed by information security firm Proofpoint, which explained how the attack on Pornhub worked.

Web browsers which navigated to Pornhub’s website were shown a fraudulent pop-up telling them to install an update to their web browser, or the Adobe Flash plugin.

But instead of a genuine update the downloaded file took control of the victim’s computer and began to run a hidden process clicking on ads which the criminals hosted on a fake web page.

Advertising fraud is a serious issue for web giants Facebook and Google, which generate the overwhelming bulk of their revenues by telling advertisers that their ads are reaching real people.

The use of bots to provide fake impressions is so prevalent on the internet that some advertisers only receive $0.01 for every $1 of impressions they pay for, according to Dr Augustine Fou, an independent advertising fraud researcher.

No figures are available on the fraud levels affecting Google and Facebook, but Dr Fou says that much of the fraud is getting too difficult to detect.

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According to the justice department, the conspiracy required extensive efforts from the criminals to conceal that the ad impressions were computer generated.

“To create the illusion that real human internet users were viewing the advertisements loaded on to these fabricated websites, the defendants programmed the data centre servers to simulate the internet activity of human internet users,” it said.

This meant the servers were programmed for “browsing the internet through a fake browser, using a fake mouse to move around and scroll down a web page, starting and stopping a video player midway, and falsely appearing to be signed into Facebook”.

Details about browsers are all stored in cookies, which advertisers can check to gain more information on users.

The 13-count indictment charges eight men with various cyber crimes, including wire fraud.

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The two Kazakh men have been arrested – Sergey Ovsyannikov was held last month in Malaysia, while Yevgeniy Timchenko was arrested earlier this month in Estonia.

Only one of the Russian citizens, Aleksandr Zhukov, has been arrested – which happened earlier this month in Bulgaria.

Source : SKY NEWS

Sherlock creators cast Denmark’s Claes Bang as Dracula

The BBC One mini-series has been written and created by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, the duo behind the award-winning Sherlock.

“I’m so excited that I get to dig into this iconic and super interesting character,” said Bang.

“Yes he’s evil, but there’s also so much more to him. He’s charismatic, intelligent, witty and sexy.

“I realise that there’s a lot to live up to with all the amazing people that have played him over the years, but I feel so privileged to be taking on this incredible character.”

The 51-year-old can currently be seen alongside Claire Foy in The Girl in the Spider’s Web, the latest outing for Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander character.

But he is perhaps better known for playing museum curator Christian in The Square, which won the Palme d’Or at last year’s Cannes Film Festival.

Claes Bang in The Girl in the Spider's WebImage copyrightSONY PICTURES
Image captionThe actor can currently be seen in The Girl in the Spider’s Web

His performance in the film, a satire on the art world, earned him a European Film Award.

Last month Moffat and Gatiss said Bram Stoker had given “evil its own hero” when he created the iconic vampire in 1897.

Bela Lugosi, Christopher Lee, Gary Oldman and Jonathan Rhys Meyers are among the many actors to have played the character on screen.

The new drama, a co-production between BBC One and Netflix, is being made by Hartswood Films.

Piers Wenger, controller of BBC Drama, said BBC One had “an outstanding new leading man” in Bang and that “Hell had a new boss”.

Christopher Lee in Dracula Has Risen from the Grave, Gary Oldman in Bram Stoker's Dracula and Dracula as he appears in Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer VacationImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES/SONY PICTURES
Image captionL to R: Christopher Lee in Dracula Has Risen from the Grave, Gary Oldman in Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Dracula as he appears in the Hotel Transylvania films

Filming kicks off next year on a series that will premiere on BBC One in the UK and be shown on Netflix elsewhere.

 

Source : BBC

GM to slash jobs and close eight plants

General Motors (GM) plans to halt production at five factories in North America and cut more than 14,000 jobs.

The US carmaker has also announced it will close three plants outside North America by the end of 2019.

The moves follow rising costs and slower car sales and come as the firm focuses on its line-up of trucks, electric and self-driving vehicles.

The company said the plan would help it save about $6bn (£4.7bn).

The cutbacks include a 15% reduction in the number of its salaried employees, including 25% fewer executives.

The five plants in North America alone employ about 7,000 people currently, including more than 6,000 shift workers.

“The actions we are taking today continue our transformation to be highly agile, resilient and profitable, while giving us the flexibility to invest in the future,” said GM chair and chief executive Mary Barra.

“We recognise the need to stay in front of changing market conditions and customer preferences to position our company for long-term success.”

Why is the company doing this?

26/11/2018 AFP/Getty ImagesImage copyrightAFP/GETTY
Image captionUS buyers have turned away from smaller cars in favour of SUVs and trucks

The production cuts come as buyers in North America have turned away from smaller cars to bigger vehicles such as SUVs and trucks, which now make up nearly 70% of total US car purchases.

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Ms Barra said GM wants to invest in electric and autonomous vehicles, which are expected to drive future industry growth.

She is also responding to rising costs – including from new tariffs on materials such as steel – while preparing the firm for the next downturn, after US car sales peaked in 2016.

What are the details?

GM said it is cutting production of the Buick LaCross, Chevrolet Impala and Cadillac CT6 and XTS – all sedans – as well as the Chevrolet Volt and older versions of the Silverado and Sierra.

The closures in North America include an assembly plant in Oshawa, Canada; facilities in Detroit and Warren in Michigan; a plant in Warren, Ohio and a site near Baltimore in Maryland.

It is also closing a factory in South Korea, as announced in February, as well as two other international facilities that were not specified.

Labour union members block gate 1 of the General Motors Oshawa plant in Oshawa, Ontario, on November 26, 2018. -Image copyrightAFP/GETTY
Image captionLabour leaders in the US and Canada said they would fight the cuts

General Motors currently employs about 54,000 salaried workers in North America – which means the cuts are likely to affect more than 8,000 salaried staff, in addition to more than 6,000 shift workers at the plants.

The firm had signalled some of its plans previously, offering voluntary buyouts to up to 18,000 workers in October.

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Analysis by Michelle Fleury

GM boss Marry Barra said the firm was embarking on the cuts to “keep ahead of changing market conditions”.

Some of those changing conditions have little to do with the White House.

But others do.

Take the tariffs on steel – a key component in the production of cars. They have pushed up GM’s costs by an estimated $1bn.

Then there are shifting trade agreements and the president’s proposal to raise tariffs on imported cars.

New tax cuts passed last year were designed to encourage companies like GM to invest at home, but today’s announcement signals the lower tax rates are not enough to offset rising expenses.

So while investors may cheer today’s moves as a boost to GM’s bottom line, they’re a blow to President Trump and his many boasts about bringing car industry jobs back.

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What is the response?

On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he called Ms Barra to express his “deep disappointment” in the closure of the Canadian GM plant, which has been in the province of Ontario for a century.

In the US, Senator Sherrod Brown, a Democrat who represents Ohio, called the decision “corporate greed at its worst”.

Labour unions in the US and Canada also said they would press the company to allocate more work to the factories, instead of closing them.

“To be clear, [we do] not accept the closure of the plant as a foregone conclusion,” labour leaders at the Oshawa factory in Canada wrote to their members.

“Remember, our plant has been in this situation before with no product on the horizon and we were able to successfully campaign for continued operations.”

In the US, Terry Dittes, vice president of the UAW, said GM had made a “callous decision” that put “profits before the working families of this country”.

 

Source : BBC

Bernardo Bertolucci, Italian film director, dies at 77

Bernardo Bertolucci, Italian director of Last Tango in Paris and The Last Emperor, has died in Rome, aged 77.

Born in Parma in 1941, his other films included The Conformist, The Dreamers, 1900 and The Sheltering Sky.

Winner of two Oscars, for directing and co-writing The Last Emperor, he was known for his bold visual style and the controversy stoked by Last Tango in Paris’s explicit sexual content.

A spokesperson confirmed to the BBC he died of cancer after a short illness.

His final feature, Me and You, had its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in 2012.

Bertolucci began his career as an assistant director to Pier Paolo Pasolini on his 1961 film Accattone.

Bernardo BertolucciImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

He directed his first feature, 1962’s La Commare Secca, at the age of 21.

The films Before the Revolution and The Spider’s Stratagem followed, although it was Last Tango – starring Marlon Brando – that brought him to the attention of the world.

The film, about an American businessman who begins a sexually charged relationship with a young Frenchwoman, was banned in several countries.

In 2016, a row was ignited after a video emerged of Bertolucci claiming he did not fully prepare the then 19-year-old female star of the film, Maria Schneider, for what he and Brando had planned in the famous butter scene.

Schneider claimed the scene in question wasn’t in the original script, but the director claimed it was “a ridiculous misunderstanding”.

Bertolucci’s most critically successful film was The Last Emperor, a biopic of the Chinese emperor Pu Yi, which won nine Oscars in 1988, including best picture.

Bertolucci received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2008 and was awarded an honorary Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2011.

The Cannes Festival paid tribute to the director, calling him a “giant of Italian filmmaking, [who] will remain forever a leading light in world cinema”.

Actor Antonio Banderas also tweeted his condolences calling him a “master of filmmakers”.

Why do we call it ‘classical’ music?

Classical music is the thing that orchestras do. It’s what string quartets play and choirs sing. It’s playing all the time on BBC Radio 3, and it’s on that Mindful Classical Mix you’ve just downloaded from BBC Sounds. But as the BBC embarks on a year of programming around Our Classical CenturyTom Service explores one very simple question: what IS classical music?

Here’s the thing: I don’t think there really is such a thing as classical music.

Tom Service

For someone who’s spent most of the last couple of decades writing and talking about classical music, that might seem a trifle idiotic. But even the composers who most define the “classical” (let’s go with Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart) didn’t know they were writing classical music, because the term simply didn’t exist in their lifetimes. It seems bizarre, but it’s true. The values and hierarchies and canons and the whole category of the “classical” only started to appear in English in 1829. Why?

One explanation could be that “classicising” things was part of a great 19th-Century marketing exercise. The term “classical” started to gain traction in European culture just at the moment when the music industry was heating up – as orchestras were being established, concert halls constructed, music instruments manufactured and there was a boom in music publishing.

It makes sense. If you’re going to have an industry, you’d better have something to sell. Composers were marketed as purveyors of the “classical”; it was a way of telling 19th-Century consumers that, by playing and listening to Haydn, Brahms, and Mendelssohn, they could become better people. They, too, could become someone who knew and loved the great truths of the “classical”.

Do you remember the way record stores used to be?

Tom Service recalls a time when the “classical” section was sealed behind frosted glass.

So why the word ‘classical’?

It’s a word that conjures up images of the Ancient world: the culture of balance, perfection and social harmony that the Greeks and Romans supposedly enjoyed. But that image doesn’t conform at all to the reality of those societies, as any historian of the period knows (or anyone who’s watched I, Claudius or Up Pompeii!, for that matter). The yearning to return to a time of order, of social and artistic equilibrium in the “classical”, is simply an aesthete’s version of “the good old days”.

That was true in the 18th Century, when intellectuals and artists hearkened back to an Ancient Greece that existed only in their imaginations – and it’s true of us today, whenever we apply the labels “classical” or “classic” to repertoires and recordings of the past. And it’s not only classical music that’s doing this, by the way: jazz, rock, folk and all the rest are now full of “classics”. The word “classic” has become an expression of value. We use it to indicate our opinion that something will stand the test of time.

So from the very start, “classical music” has been an expression of nostalgia and one-upmanship, rather than anything tangible. I think that all of classical music’s unhelpful associations with economic, social and aesthetic exclusivity stem from this historical quirk.

I’ll say it again: most of the composers we now call “classical” didn’t think that’s what they were. Beethoven, Berlioz, Mahler and Wagner didn’t want their works to be part of a mausoleum of the “classical”, sequestered from the world in the way that the “classical” section of the record shop used to be hidden behind frosted panes of glass. No: their music was made to exist in dialogue with the joys and messes of the real world, which is where it should still be today. And it is. The point of Our Classical Century is that this music really is part of our lives.

In recent years, something has changed.

Unlike so many other genres, “classical” now encompasses a truly vast range of music. Its repertoire includes music written over the last millennium and more. It’s precisely this lack of definition that means that “classical” can take in the music of everyone from the 12th-Century musical mystic Hildegard of Bingen to the 21st-Century composer Anna Meredith, who composed music for the First Night of the Proms in 2018.

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Classical music is here on the soundtracks of our video games and TV shows. It’s sampled across the spectrum of pop music. It’s a style and a genre which can take in gigantic operas and tiny fragments. I’m no closer to a definition.

But while I still think there’s a huge job to do to rid classical of its associations of exclusivity, it’s precisely in this all-encompassing confusion that the term “classical music” will survive – and, despite my entreaties, thrive. Whatever Our Classical Century shows, it’s a revelation of the essential truth that we’re all classical now.

Tom Service explores a multitude of definitions of “classical” music in The Listening Service, with help from the composer Max Richter and writer Charlotte Higgins. Meanwhile, the BBC’s Our Classical Century season gets underway with a host of TV and radio features devoted to an eventful 100 years in music.

Source : BBC

‘Indiana Jones of art’ finds stolen Cyprus mosaic

The man nicknamed “the Indiana Jones of the art world” has done it again – this time tracking down a precious sixth-Century mosaic stolen from Cyprus.

Finding the 1,600-year-old piece in a flat in Monaco had felt very special, Dutchman Arthur Brand said.

He handed the work over to the Cypriot embassy in The Hague on Friday.

Mr Brand has achieved fame recovering stolen artwork since 2015 when he found Hitler’s Horses – two Nazi statues that stood outside Hitler’s office.

Where was the Cypriot mosaic?

The Byzantine depiction of Saint Mark was stolen in the 1970s from Panayia Kanakaria church, about 105km (65 miles) north-east of the Cypriot capital, Nicosia.

Mr Brand spent nearly two years chasing the work across Europe, finally tracking it down in the possession of a British family.

They had “bought the mosaic in good faith more than four decades ago”, the investigator told AFP news agency.

“They were horrified when they found out that it was in fact a priceless art treasure, looted from the Kanakaria church after the Turkish invasion,” Mr Brand said.

“It was one of the greatest moments of my life,” the investigator said.

The newest instalment of the Indiana Jones franchise, which stars Harrison Ford in the title role, is scheduled for release in 2020.


Recovering stolen masterpieces

The 2002 Van Gogh museum raid was one of a series of thefts that shocked the art world.

The Edward Munch masterpieces ' The Scream' and 'Madonna' are shown to the press, 26 September 2006 in Oslo,Image copyrightAFP
Image captionMunch’s 1893 work The Scream was found two years after it was torn from a museum wall in Oslo in 2004

In 2004, two Edvard Munch masterpieces, The Scream and Madonna, were seized by armed men who raided the Munch museum in Oslo. Several men were jailed and the paintings later recovered after painstaking detective work in 2006.

Another version of The Scream was stolen from the National Art Museum in Oslo in 1994 and that too was later recovered in a sting operation by UK detectives.

In 2012, seven artworks were stolen from Rotterdam’s Kunsthal museum, including paintings by Picasso, Monet and Matisse. Two thieves were later jailed, telling a Bucharest court that security at the museum had been lax. Some of the paintings were destroyed in an oven.

Earlier this year, four paintings out of a haul of 24 stolen from a Dutch gallery in 2005 were recovered in Ukraine

 

Source : BBC

Banksy’s Slave Labour sells for £561,000 – to artist who plans to paint over it

A piece of Banksy street art painted on the side of a Poundland has sold to a US artist for more than half a million pounds – but the buyer has vowed to whitewash it in protest.

Ron English says he plans to paint over the north London mural because street art “shouldn’t be bought and sold”.

Slave Labour, which depicts a young child on his knees at a sewing machine, producing a string of Union Jack bunting, was painted on the side of the bargain store in Wood Green in 2012.

Bring Back Our Banksy: Residents protest next to a section of a wall where street artist Banksy's 'Slave Labour' graffiti artwork was removed in north London in February 2013
Image:Wood Green residents protested after the artwork was removed

Believed to be a protest against sweatshops used to manufacture souvenirs for the London Olympics, it was removed from the wall in February 2013, to the anger of residents.

Mr English bought the painting, which was auctioned by Julien’s in Los Angeles on Wednesday, for $730,000 (£561,000).

“My idea for this painting is to whitewash it for my good pal Banksy, I only wish I could’ve spent more money for it,” he said.

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“I’m going to paint it white again, I’m done. This is a blow for street art. It shouldn’t be bought and sold.

“I’m going to paint over it and just include it in one of the walls in my house. We’re tired of people stealing our stuff off the streets and re-selling it so I’m just going to buy everything I can get my hands on and whitewash it.”

The artwork sold for $600,000 plus the buyer’s premium, bringing the total to $730,000, said Darren Julien, of Julien’s Auctions.

Mr English, who said he had spent time in Palestine with Banksy, added: “Then of course I’ll sell the whitewash painting for a million dollars. I’m crazy but I’m not stupid.”

Banksy has apparently shed some light on the shredding of his painting at an auction1:01

Video:How much is Girl With Balloon worth now?

Last month, a Banksy piece sold for more than £1m partially “self-destructed” after the hammer came down.

Girl With Balloon, one of the anonymous artist’s most famous works, passed through a secret shredder installed in the frame.

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The buyer later confirmed they were going through with the sale.

Posting on Instagram about the stunt, Banksy said: “Some people think it didn’t really shred. It did. Some people think the auction house were in on it, they weren’t.

source : sky news English