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

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

Web creator Sir Tim Berners-Lee: ‘I see a revolution. Starting right now’

Officially, Sir Tim Berners-Lee doesn’t have a favourite website. When you’re the creator of the World Wide Web, he says, “You can’t.”

“‘What’s your favourite website?’ was the first question everybody asked,” he says. “Sorry, I don’t have one.”

But, even if he’s too honourable to show even a hint of favouritism, Sir Tim does occasionally have preferences.

One app he especially liked was an activity tracker called Moves, which he used to see what he’d been doing in his journeys round from his home in Massachusetts, where he is a professor of computer science.

Then, in 2014, Moves was bought by Facebook – meaning Sir Tim’s data now potentially belonged to the world’s biggest social network.

And then, earlier this year, Facebook shut down Moves. There was no appeal. Facebook simply announced that it was “moving on”.

For Sir Tim, it was a personal taste of a bigger problem. The web he built was broken – and the big companies that dominated it were the flaw.

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The awakening for him, as for so many people, came in 2016, with the twin shocks of Brexit and the election of Donald Trump.

“What happened there was a tipping point,” he says.

He knew that social media could be used to manipulate people, but for the first time he saw it operating at massive scale.

“I thought that my responsibility as a web user was to go and find the stuff which I appreciated, which I trusted, but now I think that everyone involved in the web realises the problem is that other people are reading stuff which is complete garbage and they’re believing it, and they vote.”

He mentions voting. Does that, I ask, mean democracy itself is under threat?

“Science tells us what to believe are facts,” he says. “And democracy relies on facts. So democracy relies on science.”

English scientist Tim Berners-Lee from the Web Foundation addresses the opening ceremony of the 2018 edition of the annual Web Summit technology conference in Lisbon on November 5, 2018. (Photo by FRANCISCO LEONG / AFP) (Photo credit should read FRANCISCO LEONG/AFP/Getty Images)
Image:Sir Tim sees the core of the problem as the massive centralisation of his originally decentralised web

Sir Tim sees the core of the problem as the massive centralisation of his originally decentralised web.

“Instead of going from website to website, everyone’s on one website, so the structure of people making great links to other blogs which we had after 10 years of the web is more broken.

“People don’t follow links from one website to another, they sit on one website, and what they see is determined by the people who code that social network.”

Sir Tim is too polite to name the network, but there can’t be more than a few candidates. Between them, four or five giant corporations dominate everything we do online.

It’s with those sites – and governments – in mind that, last week, Sir Tim launched a charter for the web: a Magna Carta of digital rights.

Facebook and Google have already signed up, as has the government of France; although whether they abide by its terms remains to be seen.

He’s also launched a new project: Solid. It’s effectively a new web; only this time he’s going to get it right.

The key change is to do with data. On Sir Tim’s original web, users’ data was – and is – stored by the owner of the website or the app.

On Solid, the choice of where you put your data is separate from your choice of service.

Your data – from your selfies to the money you send – is hived off into a separate area, called a pod, which can be linked to, just like the pages on a website. That gives people genuine control over where and how their data is deployed.

If it comes off, it would be a seismic change in the digital landscape.

“Some people are calling it Web 3.0,” Sir Tim says.

And whereas previous attempts at what’s known as re-decentralisation have foundered on public disinterest, this time Sir Tim feels the time is ripe.

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“A big backlash [is coming] against the mistreatment of personal data, a realisation that people should control their data,” he says.

“That’s what I see, a revolution. Starting right now.”

Source : Sky News EN

Samsung’s Top-Secret Galaxy S Phone Is a 5G Monster With Six Cameras

SEOUL— Samsung Electronics Co. is planning a major technological upgrade for its 10th anniversary flagship phones next year, including next-generation 5G network speeds, bigger screens and more cameras, according to people familiar with the matter.

As with rival Apple Inc.’s AAPL -3.76% 10th anniversary iPhone offerings last year, Samsung’s 10-year reboot of its premium smartphone lineup is seeking to dazzle consumers with more ambition than in years past, these people said, part of a bid by the South Korean technology giant to reverse a recent sales slump.

Samsung, the world’s largest smartphone maker by volume, is preparing three versions of its next flagship Galaxy S10 smartphone, with displays that range in size from 5.8 inches to 6.4 inches, the people said, versus two variants in previous years. Those three phones are set to debut in February next year, they added.

In addition, the South Korean technology giant is developing a fourth variant of the Galaxy S10 that will be 5G-enabled and is internally code-named “Beyond X,” some of these people said.

Smartphone Hang-UpSamsung’s smartphone-shipments growthhas been declining.Source: IDC
%2Q20173Q4Q1Q’182Q3Q-15-10-505102Q 2017×1.53%

The 5G phone, slated for a spring release in the U.S. and South Korea, would sport an even larger screen, measuring 6.7 inches diagonally, and pack in a whopping six cameras—two in the front and four in the back, these people said, which promise richer photos and better spatial perception.

Apple’s latest top-end iPhone, by comparison, includes three cameras, two on the back and one on the front.

A Samsung spokeswoman declined to comment.

After several years of declining sales of smartphones, its biggest moneymaker for many years, Samsung needs a big hit next year.

The company’s devices account for one out of every five smartphones shipped globally, but it suffered a major handset sales tumble this year. The smartphone’s overhaul will test consumers’ willingness to ditch their years-old devices for ones that offer flashier features—for a higher price tag.

It is an industrywide problem. Global smartphone shipments slid 8% from a year earlier for the three months ended Sept. 30, the fourth straight quarter of declines as consumers hold on to their devices longer, according to Strategy Analytics. Samsung shipments struggled even more than the industry average, declining 13% during that stretch.

Apple in recent weeks slashed production orders for all three of the iPhone models it unveiled in September, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday, due to lower-than-expected demand.

Smartphone StruggleSamsung’s mobile division is contributing lessto total operating profits.Source: the company
%Galaxy Note 7 global recall2016’17’1801020304050603Q 2017×22.64%

“There are no signs of recovery for the smartphone industry currently,” said Tom Kang, a Seoul-based analyst at Counterpoint Research.

To stage its comeback, Samsung saved up several new features to set its 10th anniversary Galaxy S smartphone apart.

Samsung is planning a mid-February event where it will unveil at least the feature-heavy 5G Galaxy S phone, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The handset’s release date would be pegged to whenever wireless carriers could launch 5G service, according to people familiar with the matter, which is expected by next spring.

Samsung has held discussions with Verizon Communications Inc., AT&T Inc. and T-Mobile US Inc., as well as large South Korean carriers, though no final decisions have been made, according to these people. Samsung is in discussions with Verizon about a potential exclusive distribution arrangement, though the terms and length of that arrangement aren’t yet final, some of these people said.

With 5G, Samsung is expected to enjoy a sizable lead over Apple’s iPhone, which analysts forecast won’t be capable of supporting 5G until 2020.

The three Galaxy S10 handsets scheduled for an earlier release than the 5G phone bear the internal code names “Beyond 0,” “Beyond 1” and “Beyond 2,” according to people familiar with the matter.

They would each have between three and five cameras in total, based on current plans, according to one of these people.

A feature considered for some phones is “reverse wireless charging,” in which a Samsung handset could be used to recharge other devices by placing them together, according to people familiar with the matter.

The timing, design and phone features for all the devices could change since decisions are still being finalized, according to people familiar with the matter.

Separately, Samsung is also set to release early next year its first ever foldable-screen device, which opens like a book and boasts a 7.3-inch display. Internally, Samsung executives are debating the foldable phone’s name, with “Samsung Flex” and the “Galaxy Flex” emerging as two candidates, though the decision is far from final, according to a person familiar with the matter.

But even with the new launches, Samsung will face challenges in a smartphone industry dealing with consumers holding on to their devices longer and economic uncertainty brought on by global trade turmoil, analysts said.

“Everyone is being affected by some similar market forces,” said Melissa Chau, associate research director at International Data Corp., a market researcher. “Overall volumes will decline for everyone.”

Source : The Wall Street Journal

Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn ‘arrested for misconduct’

Carlos Ghosn, the chairman of Nissan and one of the world’s most powerful motor industry bosses, is reportedly under arrest in Japan over allegations of financial misconduct.

Japanese media on Monday reported that the Brazilian-born executive had been held after prosecutors in Japan questioned him for various improprieties, including grossly under-reporting his income.

A towering figure in the car industry, Ghosn is credited with turning around several major manufacturers. He currently leads an alliance of Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi.

The Tokyo prosecutor’s office had no comment on the reports about Ghosn, who is also yet to comment.

Nissan, Renault boards to meet

Nissan’s board is now set to meet on Thursday, when it is expected to agree to sack Ghosn and Representative Director Greg Kelly, who is also reportedly under arrest, the company’s CEO Hiroto Saikawa said at a press conference on Monday.

In an earlier statement, Nissan said it had been investigating Ghosn and Kelly for months, after receiving a report from a whistleblower. The Japanese car giant has since uncovered misconduct going back several years, the statement said.

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“The investigation showed that over many years both Ghosn and Kelly have been reporting compensation amounts in the Tokyo Stock Exchange securities report that were less than the actual amount, in order to reduce the disclosed amount of Carlos Ghosn’s compensation,” it said.

“Also, in regards to Ghosn, numerous other significant acts of misconduct have been uncovered, such as personal use of company assets, and Kelly’s deep involvement has also been confirmed.”

The company said it had provided information to Japanese prosecutors and would recommend that the board of directors “promptly remove Ghosn from his positions”.

Later on Monday, Renault said its board would be meeting “shortly” to discuss the situation surrounding Ghosn, who serves as the company’s chief executive.

Mitsubishi also released a statement on Monday, saying the company would propose removing Ghosn as chairman.

Renault is one of France’s most iconic companies and a large employer [File: Philippe Wojazer/Reuters]

France ‘extremely vigilant’ on Renault stability

News of Ghosn’s reported arrest broke on Monday evening when Asahi Shimbun newspaper said he was being questioned by prosecutors and was likely to face arrest.

Japanese media later said Nissan’s headquarters in the city of Yokohama were being raided by Tokyo prosecutors.

Al Jazeera’s Natacha Butler, reporting from Paris, said the news has already affected the markets.

“There’s no doubt that shockwaves are reverberating around the global motor industry. In fact, here in Paris we saw shares in Renault plunge more than 12 percent to opening trade on Monday,” she said.

READ MORE

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On Monday, French President Emmanuel Macronsaid that Paris would remain extremely vigilant about the fate of Renault and its alliance with Nissan after Ghosn’s reported arrest.

Speaking at a news conference in Brussels, at the start of a two-day state visit to Belgium, Macron said: “It is too early to comment on the facts.”

But he went on to add that the French state, as a Renault shareholder, “will be extremely vigilant to the stability of the alliance and the group.”

Macron said his government would give “all its support” to employees of Renault, one of France’s major companies.

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said France remained strongly committed to promoting the Nissan-Renault alliance and would respect presumption of innocence in Ghosn’s case.

“The key question for us is to ensure the stability of Renault and of the alliance between Renault and Nissan and so I am working on that with all the parties,” he told reporters in Belgium, adding that the French government would meet representatives from Nissan in the coming days.

“There is no concern over the stability or the future of Renault,” Le Maire said.

Major figure

One of the mostly highly-paid corporate bosses in Japan, Ghosn is known from overhauling Renault and Nissan starting in the 19902.

He began his career at French tyre manufacturer Michelin in 1976, before moving on to Renault in 1996 where his cost-slashing measures earned him the nickname “Le Cost Killer”.

He was parachuted in to Nissan and began a huge corporate overhaul when Renault acquired the then-ailing Japanese manufacturer in 1990.

Credited with saving Nissan from bankruptcy through a series of hardnosed measures, including closing plants and restructuring, Ghosn is a household name in Japan, where he is one of few high-profile foreign executives.

In 2016, he also took charge at Mitsubishi after Nissan threw it a lifeline following a mileage-cheating scandalthat hammered sales.

READ MORE

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“He really shook those companies up. He slashed jobs to maintain profit, so he’s really seen as something of an icon in the motoring industry,” said Al Jazeera’s Butler.

“If he is asked to stand down as chairman of Nissan, it will be a huge blow to him and his reputation.”

Ghosn is regarded as the glue which holds the sprawling alliance of Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi together and questions have been raised in the past about how his eventual departure might affect the coalition.

However, he has also faced opposition, including over his pay. Bloomberg reported Ghosn took home some $6.5m from Nissan in the most recent fiscal year, in addition to $8.5m from Renault and about $2m from Mitsubishi.

His compensation package from Renault prompted a spat with shareholders and criticism from Macron, when he served as France’s economy minister.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES

Facebook drawn into violent Sri Lankan political row

Facebook has found itself drawn into an escalating political row in Sri Lanka as opposition MPs accuse the ruling party of using data to launch a crackdown.

In a letter to Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg, the United National Party (UNP) said information gleaned from the social media site could be used against party members who use the site “in ways which are legally prohibited.”

It urged Facebook to hide the identity of its supporters to protect them.

It came amid growing acrimony between members of the UNP and other parties due to a deadlock in the country’s parliament.

The speaker of the country’s parliament, Karu Jayasuriya, had books and chairs hurled at him in the chamber on Friday after he allowed a no-confidence vote against the prime minister to go ahead.

Sri Lanka MP's fight in Parliament as political turmoil continues.0:54

Video:Mass brawl at Sri Lankan parliament

The no-confidence motion was passed, but Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa refused to accept the result of the vote and insisted the speaker had no authority to remove him from his position.

The UNP letter, sent on Thursday, said: “It is very likely that officials from the current illegal administration… may ask Facebook for information on selected Sri Lankan users of Facebook that should rightfully be private.

“Such requests may include information on named individuals, geo locations and other identification details of users who view and post on these pages,” the letter said.

“It is vital this information be safeguarded as the current illegal administration will most likely use these in ways which are legally prohibited.”

Fight in Sri Lankan parliament0:12

Video:Chairs hurled in Sri Lankan parliament

UNP party spokesman Piyasena Dissanayaka said on Sunday that Facebook blocked its official page ahead of a public rally on Thursday but restored it on Saturday.

He said Facebook officials had not yet responded to the letter.

Facebook officials have also not yet responded to a request for comment by The Associated Press.

The UNP’s Mr Jayasuriya had to get a police escort to get into the parliamentary chamber on Friday, with several officers among those injured as the unorthodox missiles were launched in his direction.

Opposition MPs were also among those hurt before proceedings got under way.

Sri Lanka's former president Mahinda Rajapakse
Image:Sri Lanka’s former president Mahinda Rajapakse

Mr Rajapaksa has only been in the job since 26 October after his predecessor Ranil Wickremesinghe was sacked by Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisenadue due to a disagreement over economic reforms.

The row has left the country without an official government, although Mr Rajapaksa has refused to stand down.

Mr Wickremesinghe also insists he is still prime minister.

On Sunday, Mr Sirisenadue summoned political leaders for talks in a bid to end the power struggle.

Sri Lanka's ousted prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe
Image:Sri Lanka’s ousted prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe

After the no-confidence vote against Mr Rajapakse on Friday, the second against him, Mr Wickremesinghe demanded his government be restored, but there has been no response from Mr Sirisenadue yet.

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Both sides have warned that a prolonged period of instability could lead to violence, in a country that has not long emerged from civil war.

Source : Sky News

Snapchat mines teen users with Friendship Profiles

Snapchat has launched a new feature with a focus on friendships in a bid to take on rivals like Facebook and Instagram.

Friendship Profiles will allow users to access the records of relationships with each other, collating the images, videos, messages, links, and more that they have saved in Chat.

Announcing the update, the company said: “Friendship Profiles make it easy to find your favourite memories and the important information you’ve saved over time. It’s the fastest way to find the highlights of your friendship.

The profiles are designed to appeal to Snapchat's young userbase
Image:The profiles are designed to appeal to Snapchat’s young userbase

“Friendship Profiles celebrate your relationships in a private way – each Friendship will only be visible to you and the person (or Group!) that you are friends with on Snapchat.”

It will be rolling out to users across the world over the coming weeks, it added.

To find a Friendship Profile users just need to tap on the friend or group’s Bitmoji – the personalised avatars which Snapchat uses.

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While Facebook still remains the dominant player in the social media space, the company’s series of data blunders and potentially simply its age have left it losing some cool among younger users.

Snapchat, with disappearing messages and clever image filters, has replaced Facebook as the growing market player among younger teens in the UK.

Its access to measure not merely how many people know each other – as per Facebook’s social graph – but the consolidated metric regarding close relationships – also offers it a strong avenue to attract advertisers.

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The Friendship Profiles offer Snapchat a way of measuring how much interest in particular topics or consumer items could be shared between different individuals.

The update comes as the company struggles to recover from the collapse of its share price just days after it initially listed on the New York Stock Exchange, alongside consistent user growth.

source : Sky news English