Spammers may be annoying, but they’re also a highly creative bunch, able to shift tactics on the fly. Their latest move, as the New York Times “Bits” blog reports, is to use popular url shorteners to slip into your inbox:
MessageLabs, a division of Symantec, said today the presence of shortened URLs in spam had skyrocketed over the last few days and now appears in more than 2 percent of all spam.
The company says that the dozens of new URL-shortening services are allowing spammers to evade anti-spam tools that aim at Web domains known for sending spam. The services also inadvertently help spammers trick Internet users who would normally be wary of domain names like, say, Spammy.ru.
Rarely noted about spammers is the fact that they often spur innovation, as developers scramble to make their products more secure. It’s like an online Cold War, with both sides continually re-arming themselves. So while spammers will never go away, at least their presence offers some benefit.
One benefit of the Internet that is often overlooked is its ability to aide in the preserving of history. Case in point: The Codex Sinaiticus, regarded as the oldest surviving Christian Bible, which is now being put online for everyone—at least, everyone who reads Greek—to enjoy.
Here’s something cool: A new mobile application called Airstrip allows doctors to monitor care of their patients on their phone. CNBC reports:
“With Airstrip, we provide physicians with real time, remote access to critical patient data, any time, anywhere, on their mobile device, with just a cell phone connection,” Dr. Cameron Powell, the company’s president tells us. “It allows the physicians to utilize that internet connection, which is the cell phone signal, to obtain these data…so from the patient safety standpoint, it is critical to be able to deliver these kinds of data to a doctor anywhere they have a cell phone connection.”
Right now the tech is used for fetal monitoring, but the FDA is already reviewing its application for cardiac care.
The FCC has launched a website specifically for America’s National Broadband Plan.
Broadband.gov is still in its beta stage, but early visitors can find an overview on broadband, information on the FCC’s workshops around the country, and even enter a contest to design the Broadband.gov logo. There’s also a countdown clock to the day when the plan is expected to be finalized.
30 percent of US consumers view their broadband connection as the service they are ‘least likely to cut if forced to trim their spending during the current economic downturn.’ [Household Telecom Spending and the Economic Crisis: A Consumer Survey, conducted by Pike & Fischer]
— Sean Buckley, “Leggo my broadband line!” Telecommunications Online. May 13, 2009.
Yesterday the Agriculture and Commerce departments released guidelines for receiving a portion of the $7.2 billion set aside for high-speed Internet expansion in the federal stimulus. From July 14 to August 14, private companies, non-profits, and state and local governments can apply, with the winners expected to be announced in November.
Covered in the guidelines is the required speed of at least 768 kilobits/second downstream and 200 kilobits/second upstream. Underserved areas are defined as having no more than 50% broadband penetration in households.
While any progress is good progress when it comes to bringing high-speed Internet to more Americans, the timing of the grant awarding means that many projects—especially those in the northeast—could be delayed until the ground has thawed enough for trenches to be dug. This, unfortunately, might slow job creation, which was one of the major goals of the stimulus plan.
As America works towards bringing high-speed Internet access to every doorstep, a new report from TeleGeography (via Ars Technica) finds the digital divide is far deeper around the world. Looking at Internet penetration in 127 countries, the study finds only 10 countries have broadband penetration over 80%, while 64 countries are well under 20%.
Then there’s this sobering fact:
“Broadband represents the most extreme example in the gulf between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’,” said TeleGeography Executive Director John Dinsdale. “Less than 2 percent of African households have broadband compared with 68 percent of North American homes.”
While the deadline for comments on the national broadband plan has been extended to July 12, new FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has announced that won’t be the end of the discussion. In fact, public meetings are being planned across the country—and, fittingly, online—up until the final plan is presented to Congress on February 17, 2010.
A hacker from Boston has been sentenced to more than 11 years in prison for his online shenanigans. Reports eWeek:
Matthew Weigman, 19, also known as “Little Hacker,” was accused of being part of a gang of telephone hackers that made more than 60 fake emergency calls and broke into the phone network to make it appear as though the calls came from somewhere else.
Weigman pleaded guilty in February to one count of conspiracy to retaliate against a witness, victim or informant as well as one count of conspiracy to commit access device fraud. According to Wired, which has interviewed Weigman in the past about his activities, the FBI had been chasing the hacker since he was 15, and at times treated him as an informant. As part of his plea, he admitted to conspiring with other hackers to place bogus emergency calls that sent SWAT units to the homes of their unsuspecting victims.
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