Monday, June 29, 2009

Cablevision Statement On Supreme Court Ruling Clearing Way For Remote Storage-DVR

/PRNewswire/ -- Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE:CVC) today released the following statement from Chief Operating Officer Tom Rutledge in response to the decision by the Supreme Court of the United States not to hear an appeal in the remote storage-DVR litigation.

"This is a tremendous victory, and it opens up the possibility of offering a DVR experience to all of our digital cable customers. At the same time, we are mindful of the potential implications for ad skipping and the concerns this has raised in the programming community. We believe there are ways to take this victory and work with programmers to give our customers what they want -- full DVR functionality through existing digital set-top boxes -- and at the same time deliver real benefits to advertisers. This landmark case gives the cable industry, and Cablevision in particular, the opportunity to do something that our satellite competitors cannot do. We expect to begin deploying the first application of this new technology, the ability to pause live television when the phone rings, as a value-added benefit to our customers later this summer."

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Georgia Front Page Launches Aggregated Twitter Page for Federal Government

/PRNewswire/ --'s publisher, Government Executive Media Group, announced today that the web site has launched a new Web 2.0 tool which aggregates official Twitter feeds from federal government agencies.

Dubbed "The Feed," Nextgov's Twitter page pulls together the official Twitter feeds from dozens of federal agencies, allowing readers to monitor government activities in real time by visiting a single web page located at

Visitors to The Feed can opt to see all federal tweets in one place or they can select to see only certain categories of tweets, including business and finance, defense and diplomacy, law enforcement, government at work, and the White House.

"With President Obama's directive to federal agencies to increase transparency between the government and the American public, agencies are rapidly turning to social media tools such as Twitter to provide real time updates on their activities," noted Allan Holmes, Executive Editor for Nextgov. "In just one visit to The Feed, readers can see real time tweets from across the federal government such as a report from the Rose Garden on the President's energy bill speech, a warning from the National Terror Alert Response Center about terror threats in Sudan, and a tweet from the NIH on recent findings from their cancer research."

The Feed is already attracting accolades from around the federal community, including the Washington Post, which called The Feed "a definite bookmark for anyone interested in tracking government affairs in real time."

"The Feed is one of many recent Web 2.0 initiatives which are driving exceptional traffic growth on Nextgov," said Tim Hartman, Publisher of Digital Media, Government Executive Media Group. "Traffic is well ahead of our expectations and we are working on a stream of new features which should drive even more momentum."

Nextgov also utilizes Twitter to distribute federal IT news from its own reporters. Those interested in tracking breaking federal IT news can follow Nextgov at

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MCG is first public health sciences university to offer new suite of iPhone applications

The Medical College of Georgia is the first university to offer a set of customized health sciences iPhone applications through Apple's App Store.

While many universities offer applications for parking, maps and other basic student information, MCG Mobile, an initiative unveiled today, offers applications specific to the health sciences curricula, giving Apple's iPhone or iPod Touch users access to such cutting-edge tools as a gestational calculator, a lipid cholesterol algorithm and a medical calculator with over 135 individual calculations and scoring tools.

"It’s absolutely important to infuse technology into the curriculum because it addresses the needs of the Millennial Generation," says Dr. Roman Cibirka, vice president for instruction and enrollment management and associate provost. "The goal and purpose is to enhance student learning outcomes for this group of students that think, learn and understand in a different way."

Michael Casdorph, director of MCG Instructional Support and Educational Design, helped provide the revolutionary tools delivered through the wireless medium that students have embraced.

"In a clinical or lab environment, it may not be practical to use a desktop computer or carry a notebook computer, so the mobile platform provides a new level of convenience that can be used anywhere and anytime, whether it is at the patient's bedside, in the classroom or even at the beach," Mr. Casdorph says.

He partnered with Terriblyclever Design, a programming company in California, to adapt its MobilEdu applications platform for the MCG Mobile Suite and then worked with Dr. Evan Schoenberg, a New Orleans physician who develops medical applications, to design six custom tools to optimize MCG instructional content for the mobile platform.

"We wanted to take this further than what any other university has done to deliver instruction and improve learning," Mr. Casdorph says. "So we added an additional six MCG-branded applications specific to the health sciences community and the iScope app, which delivers MCG-created health sciences learning content optimized for mobile devices."

The six MCG Mobile Suite applications include:

A directory of MCG faculty and staff
A GPS-enabled map to access your exact location on campus or pinpoint a building's location
An events app to keep track of what’s happening on and off campus
A course catalog (to be released in August)
A news app to stay attuned to MCG happenings
The iScope app to view a wide array of educational videos and other MCG-related content
The six MCG Medical Suite applications include:

A diagnosis and procedure code reference guide
A medical calculator
A medical abbreviations glossary
An optics clinical calculator
A gestational calculator
A cholesterol management algorithm
MCG educators hope MCG Mobile will draw more students and visitors to campus.

"This is unique in that we are the first public health sciences university to offer these mobile apps," Mr. Casdorph says. "This is just the beginning. We hope to roll with this through the future as a tool for teaching and learning."

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Arts Across Georgia

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Spammers Find Opportunity in Michael Jackson's Death

Warning. Spammers have hooked into the death of Michael Jackson to get malware on your computer. Read more.

Michael Jackson Death Exploited by Malware Vendors [WARNING]
June 26th, 2009 | by Adam Ostrow

Spammers, unscrupulous marketers, and hawkers of malware have no shame. Apparently looking to capitalize on the incredible demand for news and information about Michael Jackson in the wake of the pop icon’s death, spammers are attempting to spread malware under the guise of Jackson-related content......

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Harry Potter Targeted by Malware

A new report has been released by PC Tools in which "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince" has been targeted by cybercriminals.

"Fans are baited with text like: 'Watch "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" online free'. What appears to be a legitimate looking website then redirects you to a video offer which prompts you to download and install the additional "streamviewer". The streamviewer, however, is installing malware."

Take care and think before you link!

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Cyberspace Thought Leaders Discuss Challenges Facing Nation's First 'Cyber Czar'

/PRNewswire/ -- Lack of real power, entrenched government bureaucracy and the ever-shifting paradigm of cyberspace are just a few of the challenges that may face the country's first Cybersecurity Coordinator, according to a panel of three nationally recognized cyber experts who spoke with reporters yesterday at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. A webcast of the entire program can be viewed at

Tom Davis, former U.S. Congressman from Virginia and now director of Federal Government Affairs for Deloitte LLP; James Bamford, award-winning journalist and best-selling cyberspace book author; and Dale Meyerrose, the first Senate-confirmed chief information officer for National Intelligence and a retired Major General (USAF), presented a variety of perspectives on what the nation's yet-unnamed 'cyber czar' will likely confront during his or her first 100 days.

"I think the administration has taken the appropriate first step," said Meyerrose, who is now vice president and general manager for the Cyberspace Solutions business at Harris Corporation. "They have acknowledged that the status quo is unacceptable and are setting priorities. The cyber security coordinator will have to address the issues of authority, accommodation within the existing process, and an agenda and then think big, start small, and scale up rapidly. That is the secret to success in a non-crisis environment."

Meyerrose cautioned against relying on old paradigms in defining and addressing the challenges posed by today's interconnected world. "In the cyber world, if it's connected, it's vulnerable; if it functions, it presents an attack thread. Anything that touches cyberspace is at risk."

Davis discussed the complexity of making progress within the existing government bureaucracy. "There are a lot of competing interests. Key questions will be how much authority the coordinator has and how they will deal with the stovepipes and with getting legislative initiatives through Congress, where everyone will want to have a say. It becomes very complex and it will be a tough job. I applaud them [the administration] for taking the first step."

Bamford struck a cautious note in his remarks, offering his opinion that the cyberspace coordinator position, as currently defined, lacks real power and budget, and might be overshadowed by the director of the National Security Agency (NSA), who heads the Pentagon's new Cyber Command to protect military networks.

"That would present quite a dilemma in terms of public civil liberties," he said. "I'd be much happier to see a very powerful person in charge of the cyber activity with a deputy from the civil liberties side of the spectrum. I also worry about the hype factor regarding vulnerabilities and would like to see the danger rhetoric toned down a bit."

Meyerrose also emphasized the importance of educating the American public about cyberspace. "Cyberspace underpins virtually every aspect of our lives these days, from large networks and grids for our government and commercial institutions to our ATM machines and the light switches on the wall. If you are on line, you are both a target and a threat. Priorities for cyber may become on par with our defense and intelligence missions."

A world leader in cyber security, Harris has been using state-of-the-art technology assessment techniques and architecture engineering for decades to define and operate secure networks supporting nationally critical programs. Harris currently supports three of the nation's largest secure networks, including the FAA Telecommunications Infrastructure, the National Reconnaissance Office network, and the Navy Marine Corps Intranet.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Apple Sells Over One Million iPhone 3GS Models

/PRNewswire/ -- Apple(R) today announced that it has sold over one million iPhone(TM) 3GS models through Sunday, June 21, the third day after its launch. In addition, six million customers have downloaded the new iPhone 3.0 software in the first five days since its release.

"Customers are voting and the iPhone is winning," said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. "With over 50,000 applications available from Apple's revolutionary App Store, iPhone momentum is stronger than ever."

The new iPhone 3GS is the fastest, most powerful iPhone yet, packed with incredible new features including improved speed and performance -- up to twice as fast as iPhone 3G -- with longer battery life, a high-quality 3 megapixel autofocus camera, easy to use video recording and hands free voice control. iPhone 3GS includes the new iPhone OS 3.0, the world's most advanced mobile operating system with over 100 new features such as Cut, Copy and Paste, MMS*, Spotlight(TM) Search, landscape keyboard and more. iPhone 3GS customers get access to more than 50,000 applications from Apple's revolutionary App Store, the largest application store in the world where customers have already downloaded over one billion apps. iPhone 3GS offers twice the capacity for the same price with a 16GB model for just $199 and a new 32GB model for just $299.** And iPhone 3G is available at the breakthrough price of just $99 for the 8GB model -- a huge milestone for the high end smartphone market.

*MMS messaging is available only on iPhone 3G or iPhone 3GS; fees may apply. MMS may not be available in all areas. MMS support from AT&T will be available in late summer.

**Qualified customers only. Requires a new two year AT&T rate plan, sold separately.

Apple ignited the personal computer revolution in the 1970s with the Apple II and reinvented the personal computer in the 1980s with the Macintosh. Today, Apple continues to lead the industry in innovation with its award-winning computers, OS X operating system and iLife and professional applications. Apple is also spearheading the digital media revolution with its iPod portable music and video players and iTunes online store, and has entered the mobile phone market with its revolutionary iPhone.

(C) 2009 Apple Inc. All rights reserved. Apple, the Apple logo, Mac, Mac OS, Macintosh, iPhone and Spotlight are trademarks of Apple. Other company and product names may be trademarks of their respective owners.

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

HIring someone to do your website? Beware!

Recently I was asked, and agreed, to help a company update and improve their websites. They were unhappy with the designer they'd hired. He wasn't responsive to their requests for updates on the website, they didn't like the design on one of them and they weren't getting the traffic they wanted. All good reasons to move.

It should have been a simple thing. Contact the designer, let them know, make the appropriate changes and voila, new designer. If all had gone well, I would have had time to go in and update the sites then re-design them over time.

Unfortunately, the designer didn't want to let go of the websites. Both have e-commerce storefronts through a 3rd party, which made it critical to get the back-end more so than the design.

When the designer refused to let go of the sites, saying he'd designed them and owned the design, including the back-end e-commerce portion of the site, it turned into a BIG deal.

I'll call the company I'm working with LTD just to try and make this easier to understand. The designer shall be BTTB, as in bad to the bone. His host, CITM (caught in the middle).

LTD had paid thousands to and through BTTB to get the sites set up. Luckily LTD paid with credit card and luckily the BTTB wasn't initially able to build the main site himself and had the e-commerce company build it. As it turned out LTD paid them directly for what the designer said was / billed as software but turned out to be the initial design. Proof of ownership existed!

BTTB held LTD hostage. BTTB got his feelings hurt, sent a nasty letter saying he wasn't going to do any updates, the cost of hosting was going up and if LTD wanted the design they'd have to pay close to $4,000 and they'd charge $400 an hour to work with someone to get the e-commerce site transitioned.

I contacted the CITM trying to get around the designer to get the e-commerce info and design. No dice, they had an agreement with BTTB, had to have his authorization to release the design, even though we had proof we owned it. Understandable - it was the designer's name on everything. They'd have released it if we'd sued and had legal documents, but we didn't really want to go that route.

Bottom line, we spent countless hours on the phone, working this way and that way to try and resolve the issue in a way that 1) didn't cost a ridiculous amount, 2) was seamless to the LTD customers and 3) kept all of LTD's customer info intact.

We finally get one of the sites simply because BTTB wasn't quite as smart as he'd tried to portray himself when he sold his services to LTD. Because BTTB didn't know how to do an e-commerce site and had the e-commerce company design the first site as I mentioned above, they had a back-up copy. BTTB had started out right by putting LTD's company name on the bottom line at the e-commerce company (although all the contact info was his...), so they were willing and legally able to help.

We had to design the 2nd site from scratch as BTTB cobbled together a simple working site himself.

Another good thing: LTD had purchased the domain names prior to hiring the designer. BTTB had gone in and put his name and contact info on everything, but luckily hadn't changed passwords. We were able to fix that and change the passwords before moving the sites over without his knowledge.

We moved to a new host who turned out to be excellent. They coordinated with the e-commerce people and us to help get everything set up and running behind the scenes. I wish I could tell you the real names in here because I would highly recommend the e-commerce group and the host. They were stellar, outstanding, went way above and beyond to help. More than anything I wish I could tell you the name of BTTB, but he's rather nasty and I'd just as soon not tangle with him any further!

During the debacle, over and over I was told that this kind of hostage situation was not an uncommon occurrence. I did not talk to one tech support person, one potential host while searching for a new one, one e-commerce person who had not already dealt with something similar. I found that disconcerting.

Here's what I'd suggest to ensure you have ownership of your site:

1. Have a contract. LTD didn't have one. They trusted the guy as he sounded good, was a friend of a friend or something... Contracts don't help much unless you decide to sue, but you need to be sure everything is spelled out clearly when entering into a partnership with a designer. Include charges for updates, frequency of updates, time frame for making updates among other things. Read any contract provided by the designer carefully and completely.

2. Make sure YOU register your domain name unless you know and trust the company doing your site.

3. Do your homework. Make sure the designer you're hiring is a legitimate company with a good track record. Get references. Check out their other websites. (When I took a look at BTTB's own website, it hadn't been updated for over five years. The websites BTTB listed as references were mostly out of business or one page horrors.)

4. Stay involved, especially if you have a storefront. The data on the storefront is private and critical. Customer data and relationships are involved. Your livelihood is at risk. Make sure you check to ensure that your company name is on any contract, any ownership information before you pay a bill.

5. Use a credit card so you have proof of what you paid for each step of the way.

6. Make sure you have passwords to your e-commerce site and that one of your staff learns the ins and outs. Usually that's a given as you'll have to have the ability to batch and grab data, but some companies hire the designer / others to do it for them. If you don't have staff and are dependent on a third party, number 3 in this list is critical.

7. If the designer doesn't respond, doesn't make the changes you request in a timely manner, move quick. Everyone has an occasional problem so I'm not suggesting that you jump ship the first time your change isn't made in a specific time frame! Be reasonable but don't let it get to be a chronic problem.

I'm sure there are other safeguards and suggestions out there in cyber-land. Let me know if you've had problems or if you have suggestions for the novice who's looking to set up a website (with or without 3rd party e-commerce).

I'm loving the e-commerce company and LTD is extremely pleased with the design I did for both sites. We have everything updated and running smoothly now and the sites are being updated regularly.

I really got a kick out of one day swooping in, moving the hosting, redirecting the IP address, removing all the old designer's contact info from everything... It's been a time-consuming pill to get this all done, but knowing that I was working to thwart an unscrupulous designer motivated me mightily. Creeps like that give all of us a bad name and hurt the industry.

Ah, and one more thing... turned out the designer didn't have any SEO (search engine optimization) knowledge. He used graphics instead of text, no alt tags. He didn't have any META key words or descriptions on any of the pages. I could bore you to tears with the problems I found on the sites, SEO related and design related. Since taking over the sites I've already managed to do things that more than quadrupled traffic to both sites. Basic stuff that your novice designer should know. Not sure whether the guy was lazy or ignorant. Either way, LTD lost money and potential customers.

Be sure you're getting someone who has SEO knowledge. It's critical these days.

Here's a suggestion for you on your designer: If you can find one who'll work for a percentage of storefront sales instead of a flat fee, you'll have someone who does everything in their power to make your site profitable. The more they earn for you, the more they earn for themselves. If you do that, please make sure you have an airtight contract that spells out terms. Most importantly, be sure you trust whoever you choose and that they have a good reputation.

Move Over Twitter. Step Aside Facebook. Nixle is for Real.

/PRNewswire/ -- Nixle, the latest entrant into the field of instantaneous communications, is making rapid strides with police and municipal agencies nationwide - not to mention the thousands of citizens who have signed up to receive vital public safety messages.

Launched in March, Nixle counts nearly 1,000 cities in 46 states using or testing its system. Those cities include: Los Angeles, Baltimore, Virginia Beach, Chicago and Minneapolis. And prominent sheriffs' offices using Nixle include Oakland County (suburban Detroit), Napa County, Oklahoma County (Oklahoma City) and Santa Fe County.

Meantime, more than 30,000 residents of those cities have signed up to receive Nixle alerts - a total growing by the hundreds each day.

Nixle also is popular among many of the sheriffs and law enforcement personnel attending the National Sheriff's Association 2009 Annual Conference and, as a result, the association is using Nixle this year to communicate with conference attendees. More than 3,000 attendees from all fields of criminal justice are expected to be present at the conference, slated for June 20-24 in Fort Lauderdale. Janet Napolitano, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, is keynote speaker.

"It is an excellent service and I believe it is a great benefit to the community," said Sheriff David Goad, president of the National Sheriffs' Association.

"Any tool that helps us improve public safety is worth using," said Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel. "People rarely go anywhere these days without access to a cell phone or the Internet. With Nixle, we're always able to relay important information, thereby improving the community's quality of life."

Nixle should be on the lips of many attendees because this year's conference includes seminars that focus on technology, such as "Law Enforcement Information Sharing and Emerging Technology" and "Community Engagement and Trusted Communication to Residents."

Earlier this month, Nixle served as the lead sponsor at the U.S. Conference of Mayors. About 80 cities signed on with Nixle in the wake of that event.

"Nixle came out of a need for a direct communication tool for police and official agencies to reach their communities. Depending on the media is not enough, and social applications are far too dangerous to put out official information," said Craig Mitnick, Nixle founder and CEO. "Nixle is the first tool to allow for a secure and trusted communication platform for sheriffs' departments and official agencies throughout country to communicate time sensitive information in real time over cell phones, email and the Web."

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Fastest, Most Accurate Texter Is Crowned at the LG U.S. National Texting Championship

/PRNewswire/ -- LG Electronics MobileComm U.S.A., Inc. (LG Mobile Phones) hosted the third annual LG U.S. National Texting Championship, which concluded yesterday with 15-year-old Kate Moore from Des Moines, Iowa as the winner. Moore, who sends on average 500 text messages a day, took home the title of the LG U.S. National Texting Champion, along with $50,000 in prize money, after beating out more than 250,000 participants nationally.

The winning phrase was "Zippity Dooo Dahh Zippity Ayy ... My oh MY, what a wonderful day! Plenty of sunshine Comin' my way ... ZippittyDooDahZippityAay! WondeRful feeling, Wonderful day!" which Moore completed flawlessly in less than 60 seconds. The contestants used the new LG enV3 phone, the newest edition in the enV family, which features a full QWERTY keypad.

"When I heard the final phrase, I got so nervous and thought how can I finish that!" said winner Moore. "But apparently, my thumbs are faster than everyone else's! I'm so excited to be this year's champion."

Moore won the title of texting championship after beating step sisters Erin Fink, 15, and Morgan Dynda, 14, both from Pooler, GA. The two sisters and best friends drew gasps from the crowd as they went head to head in a semi-final texting showdown in which Dynda came out on top, placing her in the final round where she competed against Moore.

After Dynda won the first battle of the three round finals, Moore began to tear up. The level of stress increased and the battle became more dramatic. However, Moore remained strong and won the 2nd round. With the final round important to both girls, the one to flawlessly complete the final phrase, fastest, was Moore. When the judges declared Moore the winner, the crowed erupted in cheers as confetti fell to the floor. Moore's mom, in the audience, put her hands to her face and looked shocked as she watched her daughter win the competition and grand prize of $50,000.

The third annual LG U.S. National Championship took place over two days, with the final round and crowning of the winner in New York on June 16, 2009 at the NEP Studios. During the competition, players competed in various challenges, including Text Attack, Blind Texting, Pressure Cooker, and Text and Dodge. In each challenge, the contestants were typing in phrases on their LG enV3's exactly as they appeared on the overhead LG plasma screens with no typos or abbreviations, ultimately trying to be quicker than their opponents. An additional challenge included Text to Speak where contestants quickly decoded everyday text abbreviations into phrases. All three contestants were stumped by the acronym PAW (Parents Are Watching). This challenge supports another LG initiative, LG DTXTR, which provides an online tool for decoding text abbreviations. PAW is one of more than 2,000 acronyms currently on the site, which is an ever-expanding glossary where users can enter their own texting abbreviations to be included for others to learn.

Following national preliminary rounds that included more than 250,000 participants, the competition started off with 22 contestants who went through a "Sudden Death" round, resulting in 6 contestants that endured the various challenges to try and accumulate the most points for their texting skills. The three top contestants with the most points following the challenges competed in a final qualifying round. The top two contestants then fought to be crowned the LG U.S. National Texting Champion in the traditional style of the competition, a speed tournament.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Social Media Explosion

/PRNewswire/ -- Social networks are exploding in popularity. Forty-three percent of the online community now uses social networking sites, including Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn. This is up from 27 percent a year ago, reports The Conference Board and TNS.

The Consumer Internet Barometer, a quarterly report produced by The Conference Board, the global business membership and research association, and TNS, a global market insight and information group, surveys 10,000 households across the country and tracks who's doing what on the Internet.

More than half of social networkers log on at least once a day, and the majority log on several times a day. Interacting with family, friends and celebrities are among the main reasons people log on to sites like Twitter. The majority of users log on at home, although a quarter of social networkers log on at work, and 10 percent connect through their phone.

Social networking spans all generations. Today, about 19 percent of those age 55 and over visit these sites, up from just 6 percent a year ago. Women are more likely than men to use social networking sites (48 percent versus 38 percent), but usage has increased dramatically among both groups in just a year.

"Social media is here to stay," says Lynn Franco, Director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center. "Online social networks are more than just a fad among the younger generation. They've become an integral part of our personal and professional lives. They're an effective way to keep in touch with people, connect with friends and family, and network with colleagues. Social media will also transform marketing as we know it. They're powerful communication tools, and are becoming an essential part of successful marketing strategies."

"Social media has transformed the way individuals connect and communicate with one another," says Anita Watkins, Senior Vice President at TNS. "Smart marketers are utilizing this behavior to their advantage by setting up online communities in which consumers can freely interact, discuss and debate issues around products, services and brands in a natural way. Companies are listening in to these conversations and harnessing the power of influencers to co-create their marketing strategies."

Facebook Most Popular Site

The most popular site is Facebook, used by 78 percent of online households, followed by MySpace (42 percent), LinkedIn (17 percent) and Twitter (10 percent).

Both men and women use Facebook in equal numbers. However, women are more likely than men (47 percent versus 35 percent) to use MySpace. Conversely, more men than women (21 percent versus 15 percent) use LinkedIn. Across generations, Facebook usage is about equal, but when it comes to MySpace, those under 35 are more likely to have an account than their older counterparts.

When asked with whom they would like more access/interaction with, celebrities (15 percent) topped the list, with favorite company (14 percent), service providers (13 percent) and athletes/sports teams (11 percent) not far behind.

The top concerns of social networking members -- expressed by about 50 percent -- are viruses/malware, exposure of information to strangers and lack of privacy. Women tend to be moderately more concerned than men. Only 14 percent claim they have no concerns, compared to 22 percent of men.

Twitter Encourages Closer Connections

Members of Twitter, the real-time micro-blogging website, say their top reasons for "tweeting" are to connect with friends (42 percent), update their status (29 percent) and look for news (26 percent). They also use Twitter for work-related (22 percent) reasons. Two out of three Twitter users interact with friends. Thirty percent interact with family, 30 percent connect with celebrities, and 24 percent interact with other bloggers. Members of Twitter also are likely to interact with TV shows, employers, co-workers, companies/brands and TV anchors/journalists.

Among Twitter users, half report being introduced to the site by a friend or family member, and one out of three were introduced by a co-worker.

About This Survey:

The Consumer Internet Barometer is based on a quarterly survey of 10,000 households. A unique sample is surveyed each quarter. Return rates average 70 percent, which ensures highly representative data. Data is weighted as well to reflect the latest U.S. household demographic information. The latest survey was conducted during the second quarter of 2009. For more information, please email or

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Asian Extortion Scheme

The FBI is currently aware of a nationwide attempt to extort ethnic business owners, mostly
of Asian decent, through telephonic threats of violence. The telephone calls appear to be originating from foreign countries. The caller acquires an adequate amount of open source information about the victim through Internet searches. This misleads the victim into believing the subject has personal knowledge about the victim. There have been no reported incidents of violence actually perpetrated to date.

Individuals who receive phone calls or e-mails containing threats of violence and their personally identifiable information (PII) are encouraged to contact law enforcement as well as file a complaint at

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'Ask' Launched in Honor of Internet Safety Month, Enabling Parents to Submit Questions about Online Safety

/PRNewswire/ -- A new 'Ask' feature launched on the company blog ( in honor of Internet Safety Month enables parents and other interested parties to submit questions about any aspect of online safety, ranging from Internet predators, pornography and social networking dangers to cyberbullying, 'sexting' and typosquatting. Questions submitted at will be answered by the team. The top questions and answers will be posted anonymously on the blog to help others who have similar concerns.

The company has also assembled a panel of Internet safety experts to support the company's overall online safety efforts. Panel members include Donna Rice Hughes, President of Enough is Enough and internationally known Internet safety expert and advocate; Dave Ramsey, radio talk show host and online safety advocate; Craig Gross, founder of pornography addiction ministry XXXChurch; Kathy Peel, CEO of Family Manager Coaching; and Sameer Hindjua, founder of Panel members and their credentials are listed on the site under the "Resources" tab.

The 'Ask' feature complements the blog recently introduced to provide a central source of information on the latest online safety threats and developments. Every day, blog administrators evaluate as many as 200 articles related to Internet safety issues and then distill the most important news to a few paragraphs several times a week. Recent blog posts have covered topics ranging from the firestorm over easy pornography access on Microsoft's new Bing search engine to a new study showing a correlation between provocative pictures posted on social networking sites and online solicitations of the girls who post them. also distributes breaking news and news briefs related to online safety through Twitter and Facebook. Users can sign up for Twitter tweets, the company's Facebook fan page and/or an RSS feed on the "Follow Us" menu on the site's blog.

In addition, the company is posting an online safety tip every day during Internet Safety Month. On June 1, for example, the tip involved how to limit access to children's pictures on Facebook. Each tip is available through all of the company's Web 2.0 channels.

"Our goal is to serve as a central resource for people who are concerned about the less desirable side of the Internet, whether it's parents trying to protect their children or employers trying to control pornography use at the office," said CEO Forrest Collier. "By helping people stay informed as well as providing practical suggestions for handling Internet issues, we hope to make a contribution toward keeping the Internet safe for all users."

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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

TweetGrade Tames Twitter Universe to Help End Users Know Who They Can Trust

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Purewire, Inc., a SaaS-based secure Web gateway vendor that protects business and social interactions on the Web, today announced the launch of TweetGrade™ (, the authority in online user reputation on Twitter®. TweetGrade provides a quantitative assessment of a user’s reach and influence in the Twitter community, and it helps people understand a user’s online reputation, legitimacy and safety.

As the popularity of Twitter continues to skyrocket, criminals are taking note as well. Most recently, a "Best Video" scam attacked Twitter users, posting an update (or tweet) on compromised accounts that directed followers to a video prompting the purchase of rogue anti-virus software. Attacks such as this make it imperative to know the reputation of those people with whom you interact online. TweetGrade assures this trust by providing evidence of Twitter account legitimacy, protecting users from malicious or illegitimate accounts that attempt to send spam or spread malware.

The Purewire research team evaluated the use of Twitter to demonstrate the power of the TweetGrade service, and based on a seven-million user sample has found data that point to two overall realities:

First, many Twitter users abandon their accounts shortly after creating them, and a significant percentage show no signs of account activity.

* 40 percent of Twitter users have not tweeted since their first day on Twitter, evidence that the account was most likely created and subsequently abandoned.
* Approximately 25 percent of Twitter users are not following anyone, while two-thirds are following fewer than 10 people, evidence that the account was created but is largely dormant.

Second, Twitter is used more as a mass medium for receiving information, rather than as a way to interact with others. Proof is shown by evaluating the followers and friends of Twitter users:

* More than one-third of Twitter users have not posted a single tweet, and almost 80 percent of users have fewer than 10 tweets, evidence that while Twitter is billed as a great collaboration tool, a large number of users are there to consume content, not distribute it.
* Approximately 30 percent of Twitter users do not have any followers, and 80 percent of Twitter users have fewer than 10 followers, evidence that for many users, their posts are not being widely tracked or read.
* 50 percent of Twitter users are following more people than they have as followers, and another 30 percent of Twitter users are following the same number of people that are following them, evidence that users are aggressively trying to attract followers by hoping they will “follow back” but have been unsuccessful.

Additional details are available on the Purewire Web Security Blog located at

“There is a lot of noise on the Web, especially on Twitter lately with the buzz around Oprah, CNN and Ashton Kutcher. That makes it hard to wade through everything and understand who you’re interacting with online,” said Dr. Steve Webb, research scientist at Purewire, Inc. “Purewire is all about deciphering Web activity so that users know what and who they can trust, and TweetGrade is the first service that takes a comprehensive look at a Twitter account’s true legitimacy. Through our experience with and our patent-pending Purewire Trust technology, we are able to offer Twitter users the transparency needed to identify and sort out the associated security threats.”

How TweetGrade Works

TweetGrade evaluates Twitter users based on their interactions on Twitter. The analysis is centered on a variety of inputs such as frequency and content of tweets, number of followers, number of those following and activity level. Users receive a simple letter grade that ranges from an 'A+' to an 'F' to verify their reputation on Twitter and are able to share their TweetGrade with the Twitter community with a simple push of a button.

Purewire is in the process of integrating TweetGrade reputations into a user’s Purewire Trust reputation. launched in March at DEMO 2009, where the company received a DEMOgod award for its innovation. Purewire Trust builds reputations that protect individuals in user-to-user relationships for communication (such as social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn), collaboration (such as applications like Twitter) and commerce (such as classified sites, Craigslist and eBay).

Purewire is offering access to and free of charge as a contribution to the technology community in support of the company’s mission to improve the online experience for both consumers and enterprises. As becomes more widely used, Purewire can incorporate this security reputation into its Purewire Web Security Service, to better identify and block Web security threats.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Young Adults Rely on the Internet for Economic News

/PRNewswire / -- Young adults rely heavily on the Internet for economic news, according to a nationwide study released today by the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism.

More than half of the 400 interviewees aged 18 to 25 said they relied a lot on the Internet for business news, followed by television and the advice of family and friends. They also rated the Internet and television as more accurate than newspapers, radio and magazines.

The study was commissioned by the Reynolds Center with interviews conducted by the Behavior Research Center Inc.

Almost half of the young adults surveyed said they had made decisions in the last year based on economic news. Those included buying less, saving more and putting off going to college.

"Our study found that young adults clearly care about their long-term financial future and follow the economic news in its many forms," said Andrew Leckey, president of the Reynolds Center.

More than half said that the current economy has changed how they foresee their future lifestyle and career, "an extremely pessimistic finding," according to James E. Haynes, who directed the research.

Other findings included:

-- CNN was cited as the most trustworthy specific news source by 20
percent, while 9 percent chose Fox News.
-- One in five had discussed the economy on social networking sites. More
than half used Facebook, followed by MySpace at 40 percent. Seven
percent said they frequently used the micro-blogging site, Twitter.
-- Almost one-fourth used online financial tools, with bank Web sites
being the most commonly used.

A February study by the Reynolds Center of where all adults accessed business news found that more used television than newspapers, the Internet and radio combined.

The survey has a margin of error of +/- 5 percent.

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Monday, June 1, 2009

Experts: Gumblar attack is alive, worse than Conficker

Updated May 29 at 11:25 a.m. PDT with more details, quotes throughout.

Gumblar, a new attack that compromises Web sites, has added new domain names that are downloading malware onto unsuspecting computers, stealing FTP credentials to compromise more sites, and tampering with Web traffic, a security firm said on Thursday.

The Gumblar attack started in March with Web sites being compromised and attack code hidden on them. The malware downloaded onto those sites came from the domain, a Chinese domain associated with Russian and Latvian IP addresses that were delivering code from...

Jim Harper discusses Obama's cyber infrastructure plan on CNBC

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