drag2share: Want to hijack people’s PCs? Pay them a few cents


Balancing pennies on fingers

Apparently, hackers wanting to control PCs are wasting their time with elaborate botnets and vulnerability exploits — all they may really need is some pocket change. A study found that between 22 to 43 percent of people were willing to install unknown software on their PCs in return for payments ranging from a penny to a dollar, even when their OS flagged the app as a potential threat that required permission to run. While you might think that respondents would naturally be a bit suspicious, that wasn’t usually the case. As researcher Nicolas Christin notes, just 17 people out of 965 were running virtual machines that limited the possible damage; only one person went in fully expecting trouble, according to exit surveys.

It’s no surprise that you can get someone to compromise security if you say the right things. Just ask Kevin Mitnick, who breached networks by getting logins from overly trusting workers. However, the study also suggests that it would make more financial sense for hackers to pay targets directly rather than to pay for a botnet. Since people don’t seem to attach much monetary value to their security, criminals could pay roughly what they do now to steal data while avoiding the use of unreliable bots and equally sketchy bot sellers.

The study isn’t a big one, so it’s difficult to know if the results would be consistent on a larger scale. Also, people looking at tasks in Mechanical Turk are already eager for money; it may be tougher to pay for control of a PC when the offer comes out of the blue. Even if the voluntary infections would be lower in practice, though, the finding is a friendly reminder to always treat unfamiliar code with caution, no matter how much profit you’ll make by installing it.

[Image credit: Zack Jones, Flickr]

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Monday, June 16th, 2014 news No Comments

Facebook’s mobile ads now account for over half of its revenue thanks to 945 million monthly users


As expected after the Q3 numbers, mobile advertising now accounts for 53% of Facebook’s revenue, thanks in large part to News Feed ads and auto-play videos. In total, the outfit earned $2.59 billion in revenue during Q4 of 2013. The company’s 556 million daily active users on mobile for the month of December (a 49 percent increase year-over-year) and 945 million mobile monthly active users (up 39 percent year-over-year) easily explains the bump from those accessing the social network on the go. Those numbers are also sure to rise as Facebook preps its targeted ad network to outfit apps other than its own, a rumored Flipboard competitor and the suite of standalone applications already tipped for 2014 release. Nearly a billion monthly mobile users should begin to ease concerns after the company faltered following its IPO, too.

The big news from Facebook’s Q3 earnings call came from CFO David Ebersman’s comment that the social network had seen daily use “among younger teens” decline. This time around we expected an update on those usage stats, but Ebersman stated that there was “no news to report” on the subject.

[Image credit: Marco Paköeningrat/Flickr]

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Source: Facebook


Wednesday, January 29th, 2014 news No Comments

Dr. Augustine Fou is Digital Consigliere to marketing executives, advising them on digital strategy and Unified Marketing(tm). Dr Fou has over 17 years of in-the-trenches, hands-on experience, which enables him to provide objective, in-depth assessments of their current marketing programs and recommendations for improving business impact and ROI using digital insights.

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