Cyber security is a lot like oxygen. You don’t really think about it, until it’s not there. Today, if you have a LinkedIn account, don’t pass go, don’t collect $200, go straight to your LinkedIn settings and change your password. All kidding aside, if you have a LinkedIn account, go directly to settings, which is located under your name on the upper right hand side of the browser window, and change your password. Why? Well for openers, hackers have posted 6.5 million LinkedIn passwords on a Russian website. Because of the way the passwords were encrypted, it is very, very easy to crack them – and, so, the safest thing you can do is change your LinkedIn password immediately. No one is quite sure how the hack occurred and LinkedIn has no comment, but every cyber-security professional I spoke to today said the same thing. Just go change your LinkedIn password. It’s the only way to protect your personal data.
This week game makers and gamers alike have made their way to the Electronic Entertainment Expo, better known as E3. So far, the big announcements have come from Xbox and Nintendo and it’s all about multi-screens. Microsoft announced Xbox SmartGlass, an app that will work with Windows 8, iPhone and Android devices to create a seamless experience between your Xbox and your mobile device. For example, you’ll be able to start a movie on your console and finish watching on your iPhone. SmartGlass will also enhance gameplay using the player’s mobile device. Not to be outdone, Nintendo announced more than 20 games in development for its upcoming gaming system, the Wii U, including new Mario Bros and Batman games. It focused on how the GamePad, the new touch-screen, tablet-like controller, will create a multiscreen environment for players and change the way its games are played. For the first time, you will also be able to access multiple streaming media apps like Netflix, Hulu and YouTube.
Facebook is exploring ways to allow children under the age of 13 to use the social network, with parental supervision, of course. As you can imagine, allowing children under 13 to use the site would be awesome for Facebook. Kids love games and Facebook really makes money from games. And even though it’s technically illegal, kids lie about their age to get on Facebook anyway (many with their parent’s help and permission). So, what could be better for Facebook than to try to protect young children from all the potential bad stuff that goes on in social networks, like cyber-bullying and cyber-stalking? It sounds like a great plan? On the other hand, privacy advocates are being very vocal about their opposition to allowing anyone under age 13 to use Facebook. They say there are just too many things that can and will go wrong. Not the least of which is that Facebook hasn’t even gotten it right for teenagers.
Verizon recently announced its new pricing plan for bandwidth. You can get a very low speed (3 mbps down by 1mbps up) connection for about $55 per month, but if you feel like living in the fast lane, for $205 per month, you can crank your bandwidth up to the almost unimaginable speed of 300 mbps down by 65 mbps up. How fast is that? Working on a 300/65 connection would allow you to treat the cloud like a local hard drive. Truthfully, that’s pretty cheap – but, it begs for the question, do you really need that kind of speed? The short answer is not yet. Even if everyone in your house was watching HD video on Netflix and you were uploading hour long HD movie files to your new storage cloud at the same time all day long, you wouldn’t come close to using it all. When will you need this kind of speed?
Now that SpaceX has ushered in the era of privatized space travel. Where do we go from here? Yesterday, Dragon, SpaceX’s Appolo-like space capsule successfully splashed down in the Pacific Ocean just off Baja California. The flight was monitored by NASA, SpaceX and every other organization that could possibly monitor a spacecraft landing on the Earth. SpaceX is a private company doing contract work for the government – but it certainly doesn’t have to. In 1492, Queen Isabella I of Castileand King Ferdinand II of Aragon decided to fund Christopher Columbus’ expedition in the hope of bypassing Portugal’s monopoly on west African routes to “the Indies” by travelling west across the Atlantic. America may have been discovered by a government contractor, but it didn’t take long for private investors and private companies to become the dominant players. What will happen in space? Go re-watch the opening of 2001: A Space Odyssey, change the logos to ones you recognize and you’ll have a good idea.
Russian Cyber-security firm, Kaspersky Lab has discovered a highly sophisticated, malicious computer program that is actively being used as a cyber weapon, attacking entities in several countries. Kaspersky Lab has named the virus, Flame and is calling it a super-cyberweapon, with complexity and functionality exceeding all other cyber menaces known to date. Flame is designed to carry out cyber espionage. It can steal valuable information, like computer display contents, information about targeted systems, stored files, contact data and even audio conversations. Preliminary findings indicate that Flame has been “in the wild” since March 2010 – but, due to its extreme complexity, no security software detected it. Kaspersky also believes that Flame is so sophisticated, it must have been created by a government entity. Interestingly, Israel’s Vice Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon said, “For anyone who sees the Iranian threat as significant, it is reasonable that he would take different steps, including these, in order to hobble it.” It looks like the super-cyber war has begun.
Google just closed its acquisition of Motorola Mobility and officially became a smartphone manufacturer. Is Facebook jealous? It must be, because the New York Times is reporting strong rumors that we could see a Facebook phone sometime next year. Facebook did not confirm or deny the rumor, it pointed to an earlier statement saying, “We’re working across the entire mobile industry; with operators, hardware manufacturers, OS providers, and application developers.” So, is it a good idea for Facebook to start manufacturing and marketing smartphones? It depends on whom you ask. Some analysts say it’s a terrible idea, because Facebook has absolutely no experience in the hardware business and the competition is just too tough to learn on the job. Others say, that a proprietary mobile device would help Facebook execute a profitable mobile strategy and, more importantly, help properly position the company in the mobile space. One thing is for sure, Facebook is now public and everything it does will be carefully watched.
Facebook says that about half its users access Facebook via mobile device. Which is great! Except that Facebook doesn’t have any way to sell ads in its mobile offering, so all of those page views are served without any hope of revenue. But this may be about to change. This weekend, in the wake of Facebook’s lackluster IPO and a bunch of shareholder lawsuits, a rumor emerged that Facebook is thinking about acquiring Norwegian browser company Opera. If you don’t know what Opera is, you’re not alone. Opera accounts for less than two percent of the world’s browser market, however, it is one of the very few well-established browsers that can be acquired. On the plus side, acquiring Opera would give Facebook its own desktop and mobile browser and help the social network create a workable mobile advertising strategy. On the negative side, it puts Facebook into competition in a very crowded space and, the user experience would most certainly change.
Facebook has been all over the news, with last week’s lackluster IPO and this week’s lawsuits, but, if you remember, just a few weeks ago, Facebook spent a billion dollars buying Instagram, a very popular photo sharing site. Well, yesterday, Facebook launched its own camera app called, wait for it: Facebook Camera, that can only be described as Instagram-lite. Except – other than some fun filters, it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with Instagram at all. Available only for Apple iDevices, the company says Facebook Camera makes Facebook photos more fun and accessible. The app lets you crop photos and add colorful filters (just like Instagram). And you can also upload multiple pictures at once. Most of the reviewers I know like Facebook Camera and I do too. It’s much faster than using the regular Facebook app and I like the way Facebook Camera lets you share and display your pictures. What’s next? You mean after Facebook redesigns your profile page again?
As if having your stock tank wasn’t bad enough, Facebook and its banks are now facing lawsuits from disgruntled shareholders. The suit claims that Facebook hid weakened revenue growth forecasts from the general public while alerting a select group of investors ahead of its IPO. Andrew Noyes, a Facebook spokesman, said: “We believe the lawsuit is without merit and will defend ourselves vigorously.” Morgan Stanley had no comment about the lawsuit, but previously said that Facebook IPO procedures complied with all applicable regulations and were the same as in any initial offering. No matter how you look at it, this is not great news for Facebook or any other tech company looking to go public in the near future. NASDAQ already apologized for a series of technical glitches that had a negative impact on Facebook’s IPO, this lawsuit – one of many that are being filed – just adds insult to injury. What’s next for Facebook? Redesigning profile pages of course.