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Submission + - Microsoft and Google tighten ad policies for services that harm consumers

rudy_wayne writes: Microsoft has updated its Bing Ads global ad policy to ban all search ads for third-party online technical support services, because so many of them are scams.

"Advertisers must not claim to provide a service that can only be provided by the actual owner of the products or service advertised," the policy states, using a third-party Skype Customer Care ad as an example.

Google has announced that as of July 13, 2016, it will ban ads for payday loans and some related offerings to protect consumers from deceptive or harmful financial products. Of course, the real question is "Why were these things ever allowed in the first place?"

Submission + - Joking about giving money to ISIS can cost you money (arstechnica.com)

rudy_wayne writes: A person who was using Venmo, an app that allows people to send money to each other via their phones, sent $42 to repay a friend, and jokingly labelled it "ISIS Beer Fund".

He immediately got an e-mail from Venmo questioning the purpose of the money. Although he tried to explain "The $42 was payment to a dear friend for two pitchers of Samuel Adams Boston Lager" he was informed "Due to OFAC regulations, we are not allowed to give the funds back to you or issue a refund."

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control is a 54 year old institution, quietly working to keep money out of the hands of America’s enemies.

Submission + - Popular Dutch websites hit by malicious ads that attack users

rudy_wayne writes: Some of the Netherlands most popular websites have fallen victim to a malvertising campaign that managed to compromise a widely used ad platform. According to a blog post published by security firm Fox IT, the malicious ads were served on at least 11 sites including marktplaats.nl, the Netherlands equivalent to eBay and the country's seventh most visited website. Other affected sites included news site nu.nl (ranked No. 14), weather site buienradar.nl (54), and startpagina.nl (67). Other widely visited sites were operated by commercial TV stations and magazines.

As usual, external scripts are loaded, which in this case redirect the user to the Angler Exploit Kit.

Submission + - Oracle deprecates the Java browser plugin

rudy_wayne writes: Oracle has announced that the Java browser plugin will be deprecated in Java 9, which is currently available as an early access beta. A future release will remove it entirely.

The deprecation will affect the many companies and governments who continue to insist on the use of Java applets hosted within the browser. Oracle has some advice on how to migrate away from the plugin.

Will old browsers running old versions of Java become the new "Windows XP" that businesses and governments cling to long after it should be killed off?

Submission + - Former Mozilla CEO launches new browser

rudy_wayne writes: Former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich has launched a new Chromium-based browser called Brave.

"Brave blocks everything: initial signalling/analytics scripts that start the programmatic advertising 'dirty pipe', impression-tracking pixels, and ad-click confirmation signals," Eich wrote on the Brave site.

Former Mozilla CTO Andreas Gal said in a blog post, the web is broken, with current browser vendors unwilling to tackle the dilemma of blocking ads, while looking at alternative mechanisms for funding content. Gal said it was ironic Brave was a for-profit operation that can make money from reducing advertising.

Submission + - SourceForge grabs GIMP for Windows' account, wraps installer in Adware (arstechnica.com)

rudy_wayne writes: SourceForge, the code repository site owned by Slashdot Media, has apparently seized control of the account hosting GIMP for Windows, and now anyone downloading the Windows version of the open source image editing tool from SourceForge gets the software wrapped in an installer with advertisements.

Jernej Simoni, the developer who has been responsible for building Windows versions of GIMP for some time, has maintained an account on SourceForge to act as a distribution mirror. That is, until today, when he discovered he was locked out of the Gimp-Win account.

A blog post by an unidentified member of SourceForge's community team claims that "this project was actually abandoned over 18 months ago, and SourceForge has stepped-in to keep this project current." But this is disputed by members of the GIMP development community.

Submission + - Users can't tell Facebook from a scam

rudy_wayne writes: Zdnet reports that a new whitepaper from antivirus company Bitdefender, which examined 850,000 Facebook scams over two years, shows that Facebook's own user experience enables these scams to flourish. The researchers found that scammers have infected millions of users with the same tricks over and over again — just repackaged.

The most common tricks, such as 'Guess who viewed your profile (45.5 percent)' and 'change your background color' (29.53 percent) rely on a combination of the obsessions encouraged by the Facebook experience, and a general lack of understanding about Facebook’s functionality — which, as most users know, is a constantly moving target. Users would be none the wiser that a given scam isn't just a new "feature" or another of Facebook's psychological experiments being done on users.

Submission + - Space Tourism Isn't Worth Dying For

rudy_wayne writes: Following the crash of Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo, an opinion piece at Wired calls the project nothing more than a "millionaire boondoggle thrill ride".

In the wake of this tragedy out at Mojave we’re going to hear a lot about exploration, about pioneers and frontiers. People are going to talk about Giant Leaps for Mankind and Boldly Going Where No One Has Gone Before. And we should call bullshit on that.

SpaceShipTwo is not a Federation starship. It’s not a vehicle for the exploration of frontiers. Virgin Galactic is building the world’s most expensive roller coaster, the aerospace version of Beluga caviar. It’s a thing for rich people to do.

Testing new aircraft takes a level of courage and ability beyond most humans. Those engineers and pilots are at the peak of human achievement. What they’re doing is amazing. Why Virgin is doing it is not.

When various corporate representatives eulogize those two pilots as pioneers who were helping to cross the Final Frontier, that should make you angry. That pilot died not for space but for a luxury service provider. His death doesn’t get us closer to Mars; it just keeps rich people further away from weightlessness and a beautiful view.

Submission + - Goldman Sachs demands Google unsend one of its e-mails (arstechnica.com)

rudy_wayne writes: A Goldman Sachs contractor was testing internal changes made to Goldman Sachs' system and prepared a report with sensitive client information, including details on brokerage accounts. The report was accidentally e-mailed to a 'gmail.com' address rather than the correct 'gs.com' address. Google told Goldman Sachs on June 26 that it couldn't just reach into Gmail and delete the e-mail without a court order. Goldman Sachs filed with the New York Supreme Court, requesting "emergency relief" to avoid a privacy violation and "avoid the risk of unnecessary reputational damage to Goldman Sachs."

Submission + - Create A Botnet By Abusing Free Cloud Services (darkreading.com)

rudy_wayne writes: Last week at the RSA Conference, a pair of researchers demonstrated how it was possible to legally create a botnet for free by abusing trial accounts made available by high-powered platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offerings.

The question they asked themselves was how hard would it be to automate the process of signing up for an unlimited number of free accounts from these sites and then developing a central control system from which an attacker could potentially launch malicious activities. The answer: not hard at all.

The project was made possible through the development of a process to automate the creation of unique email accounts on free email services, and then special scripting to automate the process of clicking on email verification links sent to those accounts.

Submission + - Prenda lawyer kicked off 9th Circuit case

rudy_wayne writes: On Friday, Paul Hansmeier, a Minnesota attorney who has been pointed to as one of the masterminds of the Prenda copyright-trolling scheme, filed an emergency motion to stay the $81,000 sanctions order while he and his colleagues could mount an appeal. Today the appeals court flatly denied his motion.. Two appellate judges signed this order, and it gives Hansmeier the option to make a plea for delay with the district court judge. That would be US District Judge Otis Wright, the judge who sanctioned Hansmeier in the first place.

Hansmeier is also getting kicked off a case he was working on that was totally unrelated to Prenda's scheme of making copyright accusations over alleged pornography downloads. On Friday, the 9th Circuit Commissioner ordered Hansmeier, in no uncertain terms, to withdraw a the case involving Groupon since he has been referred to the Minnesota State Bar for investigation. The commissioner has delayed Hansmeier's admission to the 9th Circuit because of Wright's order, which refers to Wright's finding of "moral turpitude."

Submission + - Judge hints at jail time for porn troll Prenda Law (arstechnica.com)

rudy_wayne writes: A federal judge in Los Angeles has suggested serious penalties for Brett Gibbs, an attorney at porn copyright trolling firm Prenda Law. Facing allegations of fraud and identity theft, Gibbs will be required to explain himself at a March 11 hearing. And if Judge Otis Wright isn't satisfied with his answers, he may face fines and even jail time.

The identity theft allegations emerged late last year, when a Minnesota man named Alan Cooper told a Minnesota court he suspected Prenda Law named him as the CEO of two litigious offshore holding companies without his permission. Worried about exposing himself to potential liability for the firms' misconduct, Cooper asked the court to investigate the situation. Cooper's letter was spotted by Morgan Pietz, an attorney who represents "John Doe" defendants in California. He notified Judge Wright of the allegations.

The Almighty Buck

Submission + - Millions Will Go to Privacy Groups Who Support Weak Facebook Settlement (wired.com)

rudy_wayne writes: Privacy and consumer groups are urging a federal judge to sign off on a controversial settlement to a class-action lawsuit over Facebook's “Sponsored Stories” advertising program, despite indifference to or confusion over the terms of the vaguely written settlement. Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy in Washington, D.C., said the settlement amounts to “just putting some more words into Facebook’s privacy policy that nobody reads.”

However, the Electronic Freedom Foundation which would receive $1 Million under the settlement (almost one-fourth of their entire budget last year) supports the settlement "for budgetary reasons" and according to EFF legal director Cindy Cohn, “We haven’t taken a position on this settlement, whether it’s a good idea or not”.

Submission + - Wikipedia Didn't Kill Brittanica. Windows Did (wired.com)

rudy_wayne writes: The end of Encyclopedia Brittanica has been widely reported and its demise has been blamed on Wikipedia. However, this article at Wired points out that the real reason is something entirely different.

"In 1990 Brittanica had $650 million in revenue. In 1996, long before Wikipedia existed, it was bankrupt and the entire company was sold for $135 million. What happened in between was Encarta. Even though Encarta didn't make money for Microsoft and Brittanica produced its own encyclopedia CDs, Encarta was an inexpensive, multimedia encyclopedia that helped Microsoft sell Windows PCs to families. And once you had a PC in the living room or den where the encyclopedia used to be, it was all over for Mighty Brittanica. It’s not that Encarta made knowledge cheaper, it’s that technology supplanted its role as a purchasable ‘edge’ for over-anxious parents. They bought junior a new PC instead of a Britannica. When Wikipedia emerged five years later, Brittanica was already a weakened giant. It wasn’t a free and open encyclopedia that defeated its print edition. It was the personal computer itself."

Technology

Submission + - How to "Brick" a car

rudy_wayne writes: According to an article at The Understatement:: A Tesla Roadster that is simply parked without being plugged in will eventually become a “brick”. The parasitic load from the car’s always-on subsystems continually drains the battery and if the battery’s charge is ever totally depleted, it is essentially destroyed. The only known remedy is for the owner to pay Tesla approximately $40,000 to replace the entire battery. Unlike practically every other modern car problem, neither Tesla’s warranty nor typical car insurance policies provide any protection from this major financial loss. Of the approximately 2,200 Roadsters sold to date, a regional service manager for Tesla says he is personally aware of at least five cases of Tesla Roadsters being “bricked” due to battery depletion.

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