Trolls. They fill the internet with insults, dead-end arguments, and inanity the likes of which we’ve never seen. Or maybe we have. The Guardian’s David Mitchell notes that trolling comments aren’t all that different from graffiti, and should likewise carry no more weight.
More specifically, Mitchell is talking less about trolls as you and I know them and more about anonymous, often inaccurate online reviews. It’s not a bulletproof analogy by any means, but Mitchell’s idea does reframe the way you look at anonymous content in a compelling way:
When you read a bit of graffiti that says something like “Blair is a liar”, you don’t take it as fact. You may, independently, have concluded that it is fact. But you don’t think that the graffiti has provided that information. It is merely evidence that someone, when in possession of a spray can, wished to assert their belief in the millionaire former premier’s mendacity. It is unsubstantiated, anonymous opinion. We understand that instinctively. We need to start routinely applying those instincts to the web.
If you read a review, an opinion, a description or a fact and you don’t know who wrote it then it’s no more reliable than if it were sprayed on a railway bridge. We should always assume the worst so that all those who wish to convince… have an incentive to identify themselves.
The flip side of the coin, of course, is that anonymity is vital to the spread of information on the internet. The important tool to remember, as always, is your skepticism. Without it, you’re letting yourself get all worked up over graffiti. (And we’re not talking Banksy here—or even Hanksy.) Photo remixed from The Awl.
The banking industry often employs two-step security measures—similar to Google Authenticator—as an added layer of protection against password theft and fraud. Unfortunately, those systems have just been rendered moot by a highly-advanced hack.
The attack, know as the Man in the Browser method, works like this. Malicious code is first introduced onto the victim’s computer where it resides in the web browser. It will lay dormant until the victim visits a specific website—in this case, his bank’s secure website. Once the user attempts to log in, the malware activates and runs between the victim and the actual website. Often the malware will request that the victim enter his password or other security pass into an unauthorized field, in order to “train a new security system.” Once that happens, the attacker has full access to the account.
Luckily, the method is only a single-shot attack. That is, the attacker is only able to infiltrate the site once with the user-supplied pass code. But, once in, the attacker can hide records of money transfers, spoof balances and change payment details. “The man in the browser attack is a very focused, very specific, advanced threat, specifically focused against banking,” Daniel Brett, of malware testing lab S21sec, told the BBC.
Since this attack has shown that the two-factor system is no longer a viable defense, the banking industry may have to adopt more advanced fraud-detection methods similar to what secure credit cards. When compared to having your account silently drained, standing in line for the teller suddenly doesn’t seem like that much of a hassle. [BBC News via Technology Review]
Image: jamdesign / Shutterstock
The evaluation sought to answer what type of physicians opted out, whether the number of physicians opting out increased or decreased over time, and why the physicians chose to opt out.
According to deputy inspector general Stuart Wright, the evaluation was not completed because Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs) and legacy carriers do not maintain sufficient data.
While CMS provided the Office of Inspector General (OIG) with 7,900 providers ranging from 1998 to March 2011, only one out of 10 MACs and one of six legacy carriers provided OIG with all data elements required by CMS. Consequently, the OIG claimed it could not sample opted out physicians and interview them.
The memo implied that the number of physicians opting out will increase in the future, considering “the potential for legislated decreases in Medicare reimbursement for physician services. ” It briefly references a 2011 August report published by the Texas Medical Association, which reported that 50 percent of Texas physicians are considering dropping out of Medicare program altogether.
This trend is nothing new. TMA has released another report in March 2011 that showed that 34 percent of Texas doctors are not accepting new Medicare patients or have limited the number of doctors. Similarly, a report by AARP released in February 2010 surveyed 413 Idaho physicians and found that 17 percent have completely closed their practices to new Medicare patients.
The Physicians’ Foundation has published numerous reports on the topic. A 2008 survey reported that 12 percent of physicians have closed their practices to Medicare patients and the 2010 survey reported that 52.2 percent of physicians said that health reform would cause them to “close or significantly restrict their practices to Medicare patients.”
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They don’t come as much of a surprise, but with all the talk of Android’s surging popularity and explosive app growth, Nielsen’s numbers do serve as a reminder that Apple still has a comfortable lead. Versus Android, that is—nationally, the iPhone’s still in second place, with a 28% market share compared to RIM’s 35% (Android has 9%; Windows Mobile has 19%).
But it will be interesting to see how things shake out over the course of the year. With the new iPhone dropping in a matter of weeks, prospective smart phone buyers (23% of U.S. mobile customers now have them) will be faced with the choice of hopping on the Apple wagon or exploring the multitude of Android options. As Matt noted in his Froyo review, Android is as polished as it’s ever been and is likely to improve even more in coming months. And while it’s hard to top the iPhone hype machine, reception to early versions of iPhone OS 4 hasn’t exactly been rapturous.
Another Nielsen graph shows that both platforms enjoy loyal users—80% of iPhone users want another iPhone; 70% of Android users want another Android phone—with Android’s group slightly more curious about the iPhone than the other way around. But in my experience, it seems like things are trending to the opposite. With Android’s app offerings increasingly matching up with the iPhone’s, I’m seeing more and more people considering Android a viable option for themselves, as well as one they can recommend to others.
Though still on top, Blackberry’s loyalty is only 47%, and as current Bold owner, I’m definitely of the 53% that’s planning on jumping ship when it comes time to buy my next phone. I’m just not sure what ship I want to jump into. [Nielsen via CNET]
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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