Web-page advertising needs to adopt a secure-ads strategy

Article

Beware of Risky Ads on Tumblr | MalwareBytes Unpacked

My Comments

Online ad - to be respected like advertising in printed media

Ads on sites like here need to be secure to obtain the same respect as magazine ads

Most of us who use the Web are making increased use of ad-sponsored Web sites for news, blogs, social media and the like.

In most cases, the banner advertising that appears on these Websites or on advertising-funded mobile-platform apps and is delivered in a tasteful manner provide a similar experience to the display advertising we see, accept and take for granted in newspapers, magazines and other printed media. That is where pop-up or pop-under advertising isn’t used or you don’t hear noisy video commercials playing through. It could be enough to see an animated or slide-show ad appear within the confines of the banner. Here, the advertising doesn’t interrupt the reading experience unlike with TV advertising or online-video advertising where it interrupts the viewing experience.

Such advertising, like the Google AdSense ads you see on this site, is sold on a contract that is based on cost-per-click which the advertiser pays when you click on the ad to follow through with it, or cost-per-impression which is based on simply on the ad being loaded and appearing on the site.

The malvertisement threat

But there is a security problem cropping up here in the form of “malvertisements”. These are online advertisements that are delivered to lead users to Websites that host malware. Typically they use enticing copy and graphics in the advertisements to attract users to view content on these sites and download software of questionable provenance.

Security vendors run a rhetoric that encourages us Web users to use ad-blocking software to keep our computer secure by masking all online advertising. But this can get in the way of honest advertisers and the publications that depend on them for revenue because the software works on an “all or nothing” approach.

But what can the online advertising industry do about this?

If a Website author has control over all of the advertising they admit, they can easily “fence out” malvertisements and distasteful advertising by examining what their potential advertiser is tendering at the start of and through the life of their advertising contract.

But this is not the case for most Websites where they will rely on one or more ad networks like Google AdSense to supply all or the remainder of their ad inventory. These ad networks typically source the advertising themselves and pay publishers a cut for each advertisement that appears or when someone clicks on an advertisement.

Ad networks

Malware sites advertise through these networks on a “pay-per-click-only” contract because it is a “low-risk high-return” option. But the networks could make life harder for them by, for example, vetting the creatives (advertising text, graphics, scripts and links) offered for an ad campaign before accepting them for display and through the life of the campaign. Similarly, they could make it harder to establish or sustain advertising contracts for “fly-by-night” operations like distributing malware such as implementing the ability to break-off ad contracts if the advertiser engages in deceptive conduct or not offering “very-low-risk” advertising options such as “pay-per-click-only” text ads. One way would be to require all ad contracts to be based on the requirement to pay for a particular time length or minimum number of impressions.

Ad networks can also exchange details about advertisers that engage in deceptive business practices so that the advertisers don’t go “shopping around” different ad networks to hawk their wares at the lowest risk. This is similar to a lot of proper business practices where companies are able to exchange details about known credit risks for example.

This could be part of an online advertising code of conduct to protect the validity and legitimacy of the online display advertisement as part of an advertiser’s campaign mix and as a way for Web publishers to raise some income.

Webmasters

Webmasters can work with the ad network’s control panel to reduce the kind of advertising that gets through to their ad spaces. For example, they could opt to keep the advertising that appears to tightly reflect the content and tone of their Website. The Webmaster can also exercise a tight level of control over any advertising they directly sell for their Website such as offering contracts with a minimum level of risk to the advertiser or vetting the creative material tendered by the advertisers.

As well, they can take out security measures over the Website to stop undesireable activity from occurring with their Website. This could include implementing hardened login procedures such as brute-force lockout or two-factor authentication on the critical admin and editor accounts.

Conclusion

Like most online-security issues like Wi-Fi security, it isn’t just up to end-users to do the “heavy-lifting” to keep their Web experience secure. Other stakeholders like advertising networks need to join in the game to keep a secure Web with respected online advertising and avoid exposure to liability.

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Using QR codes and NFC to take tourist attractions further

Article

QR Code And NFC Talking Statues | 2D Code

My Comments

London is using QR codes and NFC tags that head to Web-based links as a way of enhancing the visitors’ experience with the well-known characters’ statues. Here, the links provide experiences like Sherlock Holmes talking to you or where you can experience the Bow Bells call associated with the Dick Whittington legend.

But this could be used for various goals like having interpretation boards that “read out” the text to you, show the text in another language or provide extra detail on the attraction. Sometimes you may be able to engage in multimedia content or have the device’s GPS navigate you to another point in a pre-defined tour as part of a tour app.

It just requires the use of QR codes which work with all mobile platforms or NFC “touch-and-go” tags that work with Android and Windows 8 / Windows Phone 8 platforms linking to micro-sites that “take the attraction” further. These would them make the smartphone or tablet become more relevant when you tour an area rather than just as toys.

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Comcast reaches the 100% IPv6 goal for residential Internet

Article

Comcast Reaches 100% Residential IPv6 Deployment | Broadband News And DSL Reports

From the horse’s mouth

Comcast

Press Release

My Comments

Comcast brand logo - courtesy ComcastComcast is now one of the first major Internet service providers in the USA to set up for full IPv6 operation for its residential and small-business Internet-service products. Here, they are operating this on a dual-stack arrangement with customers able to receive IPv4 and IPv6 addresses and connections.

This is to satisfy realities that are affecting Internet use such as a reduction of publically-available IPv4 addresses and the arrival of the “Internet Of Everything” concept where there will be many devices connected to networks both large and small.  IPv6 also opens up newer network-management functionalities like Segment Routing and Service Function Chaining.

Here, they are also optimising the XFinity X1 and XFinity Voice product platforms for IPv6 as well as implementing IPv6 for all of networks associated with the NBC Universal digital-content properties.

If a Comcast subscriber is to benefit from IPv6, they would have to connect the cable modem to a router that supports IPv6 dual-stack functionality. In some cases, you may have to have the existing cable modem swapped out for a newer unit or have Comcast flash the existing unit with newer IPv6-ready firmware. When you set up your router’s IPv6 WAN/Internet options, you may find it best to let the router use the “auto-detect” options.

This could show up as a step in the right direction for IPv6 in the world’s largest and densest Internet-service market.

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Northmoor to achieve Gigabit speeds courtesy of fibre-optic network

Article

PM David Cameron Switches On Gigaclear’s 1Gbps Broadband in Northmoor | ISPReview.co.uk

From the horse’s mouth

Gigaclear

Press Release

Northmoor community page

My Comments

Another rural neighbourhood in West Oxfordshire has been enabled for Gigabit fibre broadhand courtesy of Gigaclear. This time, it is Northmoor where the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, officially switched on the new fibre-to-the-premises service which covers 500 premises in Northmoor, Moreton and Bablockhythe.

This is a non-BT scheme that is funded by DEFRA as part of a GBP£20m Rural Community Broadband Fund where there is financial assistance from the EU. This public-private project underwent a proper procurement procedure with Gigaclear being the winner of the contract.

Here, it was proven that the fibre-to-the-premises deal had a higher throughput and was more stable than the 80Mbps fibre-to-the-cabinet deal offered by BT.

But Gigaclear offers this service at GBP£37 per month for a 50Mbps to GBP£69 per month for a Gigabit connection, both with “clean feed” parental controls and a Gigabit hub. They also charge GBP£100 for installation. The users benefit form the connection being symmetric for both uploads and downloads along with not needing to pay for BT phone-line rental to have the Internet service.

The Gigaclear PR ran with a comment about a person who was working from home in the neighbourhood but having to go to London to transfer large multimedia files due to the woefully slow connection that existed before. But he is able to stay working in that area and transfer the multimedia very quickly. I also see this benefitting others who think of the country as a place to live or work because of the increase in online services that is taking place.

This is something that shows up that villages in some of the Home Counties could be appealing as places to move to for working from home or for that proverbial “tree-change” as they become wired up for real broadband, especially next-generation broadband.

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Noke brings Bluetooth Smart to the common padlock

Noke padlock controlled by a smartphone - press picture courtesy of Fuz Designs

Noke padlock controlled by a smartphone

Article

Bluetooth-powered Noke brings the padlock into the 21st century | Android Authority

This Bluetooth padlock will open for you and whomever you deem worthy | Engadget

This Bluetooth Padlock Doesn’t Need A Key | Tom’s Hardware

From the horse’s mouth

Fuz Designs – Noke Padlock

Kickstarter Page

My Comments

The smart-lock now arrives in another form-factor. This time, it is the padlock which is seen typically as a secondary or auxiliary locking device that ends up on the gate, cupboard door or to tether a bike to a lamp post.

Locking up a bike wiht the Noke padlock - Press photo courtesy Fuz Designs

Useful on a bike here

Here, Fuz Designs have put forward an operational prototype of the Noke padlock that works in a similar vein to the Kwikset Kevo deadbolt. This is where the lock interacts with a digital “key-ring” that is kept on your smartphone to verify that it’s the correct person who is using the device. Both these devices achieve this interaction using the Bluetooth Smart or Bluetooth LE technology but they also require you to directly interact with the device before they will open.

In the case of the Noke, which looks like most of the dial-type combination padlocks or some high-end key-driven padlocks, you squeeze on the shackle to release the device once it is verified using your “digital key-ring” in your smartphone. This is similar to touching the bezel on the Kwikset Kevo to unlock the door.

The Noke has the typical smart-lock expectations like the ability to create extra keyholders and share these keys to other peoples’ smartphones, including creating “one-shot” keys which are only used once. This also has logging abilities so you can know who opened the lock when.

Noke Bluetooth padlock on gate - press image courtesy Fuz Designs

This doesn’t look out of place on that gate

The app for this lock has been ported to both the iOS and Android operating systems but would work with devices that have integrated Bluetooth 4.0 abilities and run iOS 7.0, Android 4.3 Jelly Bean or newer iterations of these operating systems.

The lock can run for a year on a single watch battery and has a “phone absent” failover where you press down on the shackle in a particular Morse-code sequence that you determine. As well, it can work with most hasps, padbolts and other padlock-based locking devices but Fuz Designs have also supplied a padlock-storage attachment so you can clip this to your bike when you are on your way.

The Noke Bluetooth padlock can open up a product-development path for solving problems that users may run in to when dealing with padlock-based locking systems such as a lock that was intended for a particular application ending up being used on another application. It can also allow for the much-maligned locking-device class to be integrated in to the Internet Of Everything and tie in with building-automation goals.

Fuz Designs are raising the capital to get this product in to mass production by using the Kickstarter crowdfunding method but who knows whether many will pick up on it at a price that is more expensive than the typical padlock. Here, you would have to stump up at least USD$59 to hook this unit on your shed’s hasp and staple or padbolt and effectively link it to Bluetooth..

What I see of this is that it is a highly adventurous design for bringing the smart-lock concept to another form-factor which is totally driven by price. It can also open up these devices towards an innovation pathway,

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Business-grade data security could approach the home network

Article

Startup builds intrusion prevention system for home networks | PC World

My Comments

A device that is being used mainly in enterprise networks is the “intrusion prevention system” which is another form of firewall installed at the network’s edge. This device is typically set up between a modem and the router that serves normally as the network’s edge to protect the network from outbound and inbound Internet-based attacks.

Increasingly, as most home networks acquire more devices and more of these devices are programmed with firmware that isn’t “written for security”, these devices are being seen as necessary for home and small-business networks.

Itus Networks are working on one of these devices and optimising it for the home network, so it is as secure as a similar device used in Enterprise America but is more cost-effective and is able to be managed by most householders. The iGuardian product is intended to go between the router and the modem to analysie outgoing and incoming traffic for malicious activity and block such activity based on community or commercial “Snort-form” rulesets.

But this form factor wouldn’t work well with the modem-router which is the way to go for most DSL services, where the modem and router are in one box. Personally, I could see the “intrusion prevention system” become an included feature with high-end routers that are pitched at “enthusiast” consumers, SOHO users or small businesses rather than the low-tier routers sold to most consumers.

Similarly, a functionality gap exists where other network devices could be at danger of intrusion caused by one network device without Internet involvement.

As well, I find that they may not be accepted for most home networks because they may be difficult to operate unless you have a lot of competence with business-grade computing. This may be due to issues like lack of “task-based” or “simple-language” design.

At the moment, this device is showing that the concept of business-grade internet security for the home network in the form of an “intrusion prevention system” is at its early stages and there needs to be a lot more work done to make a mature product for this class of network and the kind of operator that it will face..

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Google Chrome can now detect loaded downloads

Article

Chrome update to raise alarms over deceptive download bundles | The Register

From the horse’s mouth

Google

That’s not the download you’re looking for …. – Blog post

My Comments

I have helped a few people out with removing browser toolbars and other software from their computers that they didn’t necessarily invite in the first place. What typically happens is that a person looks for software to do a particular task such as a lightweight game, native front-end for an online service, video-codec pack, an “essential” CD-burning tool or an open-source Web browser, but they work through a very confusing install procedure that has them invite software like TubeDimmer to their computers if they aren’t careful.

A lot of this unwanted software ruins the browsing experience by “cluttering” the screen with extra advertisements and data or redirects genuine links to advertising sites hawking questionable products. As well, they are more likely to “bog” the computer down by stealing processor time and RAM memory space.

Mozilla has become aware of the problem with Firefox courtesy of their bug-reporting mechanism and found that it wasn’t about proper software bugs but improper bundling practices. They had found that these bundles were infringing their copyrights and trademarks that they had with the software, especially the open-source concept.

Google has answered this problem at the search phase of the operation by identifying whether a download site is paying to advertise courtesy of its Adwords keyword-driven advertising service and provided a way to highlight that the software is not the official software site. This is typically because a download site may bundle multiple programs in to the install package rather than just having the program you are after.

They are even going to “expose” the detection software to Mozilla and others to allow them to integrate the detection functionality in their “regular-computer” browsers or desktop-security software by virtue of their Safe Browsing application-programming interface.

This may be a step in the right direction towards dealing with “loaded downloads” but desktop security programs could work further by identifying installation packages that have more than what is bargained for.

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The XBox One now to have DLNA as part of major software update

Articles

Xbox One to Finally Include DLNA Support | Broadband News & DSL Reports

XBOX One will learn to play media from USB and DLNA sources | The Register

The Xbox One is getting major media updates: here’s a breakdown | Engadget

My Comments

XBox One games console press photo courtesy Microsoft

The XBox One now to be DLNA-capable

The XBox 360 games console originally came out with the ability to play content held on a UPnP AV / DLNA media server and was one of the first devices pitched to the mass market to do so. This also underscored the multi-function abilities that was the direction for game-console design.

But, when the XBox One came out, this console didn’t have much in the way of media playback beyond DVDs and some online services. This is even though Microsoft had touted it as being part of one’s media-consumption ecosystem with highly-integrated media behavour.

Now a major “version-2” software update has opened the doors for a file-based media player that allows you to play media from USB Mass-Storage Devices as well as that which exists on a UPnP AV / DLNA media server that is on your home network. This is also augmented by the support for a plethora of file formats like MPEG2 TS and MKV. The Register article placed doubts on support for MKV due to it being used for illegitimate torrented material, but it could also be about “prepping” for access to legitimate “download-to-own” video content.

DVB digital TV tuner module for XBox One press image courtesy Microsoft

DVB digital TV tuner module for XBox One

It also adds extra paths for access to broadcast content through your XBox One such as a USB DVB-T tuner module for digital TV in Europe and Oceania, or access to the DLNA-based broadcast-LAN tuners like most SAT-IP compliant satellite units or an increasing number of the HDHomeRun units available for North American or European use.

This is a step for Microsoft to claw back the multifunction abilities that these consoles have and make them earn their keep as a video solution for the secondary lounge area, college dorm or other similar living areas.

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Different communications apps lead to user confusion

Many social networks and communications apps here

Many social networks and communications apps here

An issue that I am noticing a lot more with the smartphone era is the use of many different communications apps.

The apps provide at least one of various communications methods like text, picture or video messaging or may support real-time voice or video conversation using the Internet as a channel, typically with the communications being without any extra charge and, in most cases, you can subscribe to the service for free. As well, a lot of the social networks, especially Facebook, implement an instant-messaging function as part of their feature set. Some services like Snapchat offer an “ephemeral” communications setup where the communications disappear when you finish reading or viewing the messages, a feature that appeals to the teenage or young-adult user.

What is happening is that our friends coerce each other to install these apps on our phones, typically with them installing the apps and completing the “onboard” process to have us use them. The services have access to our smartphones’ contact directory in order either to send out an invite to another user to join the service or to monitor if one of our contacts have joined the services.

It is made more difficult by the fact that most of these services don’t offer any bridging to competing or complementary services in order to avoid duplication of functionality.

The point of confusion

Sony SBH-52 Bluetooth headphone adaptor with headphones

Viber or Skype can play difficult with your Bluetooth headset accessory

We then find that the same contact is on one or more communications services alongside the regular email and phone services and end up having to think of what path we use to communicate with our contacts.Then we have to use a different app to communicate using the chosen path. This is also made worse by some voice and video communications apps not behaving consistently with Bluetooth-based headsets and hands-free accessories associated with the particular host device such as not working properly with the accessory’s control surface. It can also make the useability of these services with smartwatches and other wearable devices, or integration with the vehicle’s dashboard a lot harder.

Some of us may define a so-called preferred communications “ladder” for each conversation type (text message, multimedia message, voice call or videocall), each location and network for us and our contacts (work with business network, home with home network, home town or country, or overseas) and whatever device they are using. As well, you may have to go through a particular path when you receive a call or message from someone and you may have to close the conversation if you do want to change medium or call type through the conversation flow.

What could be done

Personally, I would like to see support for device-based contact directories to support the concept of preferred communications “ladders” for particular contacts and call types. Even factors such as you or your contact being connected  to particular Wi-Fi networks could allow you to use a particular “lowest-cost” ladder based around VoIP (Viber / Skype) or logging in to a service like Skype from a particular device like a smart TV to advance that service to the “top of the ladder” for videocalls.

This may involve the engineering of various communications services and mobile / desktop operating systems to support different operating conditions on a per-contact basis in order to support “task-focused” operation. Even practices like properly mapping the control surface of Bluetooth accessories for the likes of Viber and Skype could pay dividends to this direction.

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Intel Broadwell to provide real computing power in the size of an iPad

Article

Intel’s Broadwell Chips Will Make Full-Fledged PCs As Tiny As Tablets | Gizmodo

My Comments

Intel Broadwell chipset compared to current Haswell chipset - Press image courtesy of Intel

Intel Broadwell chipset compared to current Haswell chipset

Intel is marching on with chipsets and processors that effectively put a pint in to a teapot when it comes to computing power.

They had done it with the Sandy Bridge, Ivy Bridge and Haswell chipsets based around the Core I series of CPUs and are increasing the power density and ability with the Broadwell Core M series of processors. The goal they are achieving now is to work on a 9mm-thick fanless portable computer design that has the lower power needs and the ability to run cool for a long time without needing a fan while also having improved battery runtime. This is without sacrificing real computing power. These goals have been satisfied using a new microarchitecture along with newer manufacturing processes and is although the fanless goal has been achieved with the Bay Trail and other tablet-specific processors.

9mm fanless tablet concept with regular computing power - Press image courtesy of Intel

9mm fanless tablet concept with regular computing power

This activity is shown up with the latest crop of mobile workstations and gaming laptops like the Dell Precision mobile workstations and the Lenovo ThinkPad W Series mobile workstations, or the Razer Blade and the Alienware gaming laptop that can handle intense graphics, multimedia and gaming tasks, that wouldn’t be traditionally associated with a laptop.

This could effectively mainstream the concept of the ultraportable such as the convertible or detachable tablet and have it as being fit for a lot more computing tasks. Even product classes like the larger Adaptive All-In-One tablets can also benefit from having effectively “more grunt” and those portable computers that are engineered from the outset for performance like mobile workstations or gaming laptops may become lighter or be able to run longer on their own batteries.

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