The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released a controversial security report (PDF) on Monday in which the organization said "it is unlikely that there will ever be a true cyberware." In the report, its authors Peter Sommer, Information Systems and Innovation Group, London School of Economics, and Ian Brown, Oxford Internet Institute, Oxford University, called into question not only the real risks of cyber warfare, but even what they claim is exaggerated language when discussing such risks.
"Analysis of cybersecurity issues has been weakened by the lack of agreement on terminology and the use of exaggerated language," the report states. "An 'attack' or an 'incident' can include anything from an easily-identified 'phishing' attempt to obtain password details, a readily detected virus, or a failed log-in to a highly sophisticated multi-stranded stealth onslaught. Rolling all these activities into a single statistic leads to grossly misleading conclusions."
The report includes over 100 pages of rhetoric, but the bottom line is we have little to fear in terms of cybersecurity risks. After all, "it is unlikely that there will ever be a true cyberware" for a number of reasons. One of those is that many critical computer systems are protected against known exploits. But more importantly, the authors say, "there is no strategic reason why an aggressor would limit themselves to only one class of weaponry."
Heed this warning, privacy advocates: Facebook apps are now allowed to request access to your phone number and address, Facebook developer Jeff Bowen announced.
"We are now making a user's address and mobile phone number accessible as part of the User Graph object," Bowen said. "Because this is sensitive information, we have created the new user_address and user_mobile_phone permissions. These permissions must be explicitly granted to your application by the user via our standard permissions dialogs."
The announcement drew immediate criticism from users, who posted their concerns in the comments section below the announcement.
"Before you even consider implementing this very intrusive feature, Facebook needs to stop the scammers from making rogue applications and scamming people," Facebook user Tony Mazan wrote.
The general consensus seems to be that there are few, if any, reasons why a developer would truly need this information, making the risk far outweigh the reward.
Mozilla's getting close to unleashing a Release Candidate version of Firefox 4, but in the meantime, you can play around with the latest beta version, the browser maker announced in a blog post.
"The latest Firefox 4 Beta is available to test the cool features and improvements in the next version of Firefox," Mozilla said. "As we continue to refine features and performance in Firefox 4 Beta, this release includes faster start-up time, bookmarking, and makes complex animations smoother."
The beta also gives longtime Firefox users some time to get used to the new look, which now bears a strong resemblance to Google's Chrome browser. Underneath the hood, Firefox 4 boasts a boatload of changes and additions, including HTML5 support, multi-touch support, WebM and HD video, full hardware acceleration, and more.
With Chrome quickly adding browser market share and Internet Explorer still way out in front, Mozilla is eager to get Firefox 4 in the hands of its users sooner than later. It's Mozilla's hope that Firefox 4 will be ready for prime time by the end of February, the browser maker revealed in an email to its developers.
"We've worked tremendously hard on Firefox 4, and it's time to ship it," Mozilla's Damon Sicore wrote in an email. "I'm seeing the same burst of excitement and activity that we've seen in the endgame of every release... To finish, we have to reach Release Candidate status as quickly as possible, ideally finish the hard blockers by the beginning of February and shipping final before the end of February."
Hard blockers are bugs that would prevent a final release, and right now there are about 160 of them, Sicore said. He added that it's historically taken six weeks to reach a Release Candidate once there are 100 hard blockers left.
To help move things along, Mozilla is urging developers and testers not to disable Flash, Silverlight, or other major plugins.
"Windows users: We need to know if you are affected by hardware acceleration causing crashes or other issues," Sicore said. "Don't just assume that someone else has filed a bug already. Make sure. Ask someone if you don't know how. This is very important."
Forget the pitchforks and torches, angry parents are using keyboards and mouse clicks to take out their frustrations with teachers. The meeting place? Social networking sites like Facebook, U.K.'s Metro reports.
The National Association of Head Teachers said it receives hundreds of calls each week from teachers complaining of cyberbullying, and most of those complaints are in reference to angry parents. According to the NAHT, parents are taking things too far.
"Parents have a right to express their views and complaints should be heard -- schools can only benefit from constructive feedback," said Russel Hobby, NAHT general secretary. "Too often, though, social networking sites are a medium for the unreasonable and the unprincipled and have a momentum out of all proportion to reality."
What Hobby's referring to are seemingly harmless complaints that turn into gossip and rumors and snowball into campaigns and libelous comments.
In a note to investors this week, Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter said it's going to be increasingly difficult for Best Buy to compete with online retailers, CNet reports.
"We expect continued market share losses in consumer electronics to online retailers and lower-priced big-box competitors, and entertainment software to Gamestop, Amazon, and Wal-Mart," Pachter wrote.
Best Buy recently posted weaker-than-expected sales in a number of categories, including TVs, PCs, and videogames. Sales were down 3 percent from a year ago, though the brick-and-mortar electronics chain still made a profit of $217 million on almost $12 billion in revenue.
That means Best Buy doesn't have to go into panic mode just yet, but it should look to alter its strategy. According to Pachter, lower prices online undermine Best Buy's "widest selection of goods at premium price points."
Depending on where you live, there may be a 7-Eleven convenience store on nearly every corner. In Taiwan, there will soon be 7-Eleven Wi-Fi hotspots on every corner, too.
According to DigiTimes, President Chain Store, the Taiwan operator of the 7-Eleven chain, has launched Wi-Fi services under its own brand in Taiwan. All 4,800 7-Eleven stores will eventually host a "7WiFi" hotspot.
Chungwa Telecom helped establish the network, though 7WiFi pricing will differ from CHT's own offerings. 7-Eleven will also offer store cards good for a single day or a month of 7WiFi access.
Call it merely a regional victory if you will, but Firefox's rise to become the most used browser in Europe is a victory nonetheless. According to the free website analytics firm StatCounter, Firefox took 38.11 percent of the European browser market in December 2010, enough to inch ahead of Internet Explorer (37.52 percent).
"This is the first time that IE has been dethroned from the number one spot in a major territory," commented Aodhan Cullen, CEO, StatCounter. "This appears to be happening because Google's Chrome is stealing share from Internet Explorer while Firefox is mainly maintaining its existing share."
A similar trend was noted by Net Market Share, whose data showed Chrome nearly doubling its market share in 2010 while IE dropped 5 percentage points. But as far as Europe is concerned, it's pretty clear the so-called Browser Ballot is having an impact on browser usage.
Straight and to the point, BitTorrent Inc. announced that the BitTorrent Mainline and uTorrent client software combine to serve 100 million users every month, TorrentFreak reports.
On any given day, 20 million users from over 220 countries load up one of the clients, while also distributing 400,000 new clients every day. That adds up to a lot of users, and a lot of game demos and Linux distros (and perhaps one or two illicit downloads...).
"This is an exciting day for our team. Our vision is to build a complete technology ecosystem comprised of software, content, and devices designed to connect modern creators with a massive digital audience," BitTorrent CEO Eric Klinker said. "This milestone highlights the size of our user base and the power of our software."
Both clients are free, though it's estimated BitTorrent Inc. rakes in millions of dollars each year through the optional installation of an accompanying toolbar.
Google's Chrome browser is now the go-to browser for 1 out of every 10 PC users, suggests new data by Net Market Share. Let's put that in perspective. At the beginning of 2010, Chrome's share of the browser market hovered around 5.6 percent. By the end of December 2010, Chrome's share has almost doubled, finishing the year with just under 10 percent.
Much of that has come at the expense of Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser, still the most used browser on the planet, but no longer uncatchable. It's hard to scoff at a 57.08 percent share of the market, which is where IE ended 2010 at, but that's more than 5 percentage points down from January 2010.
It's also been a rocky year for Mozilla's Firefox browser, which started 2010 with a 24.43 percent share of the market and ended with 22.81 percent. As for the other browsers, Opera barely budged (dropping slightly from 2.38 percent to 2.23 percent), while Safari climbed more than a percentage point from 4.53 percent in January 2010 to 5.89 percent in December 2010.