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Beware Flight 370 scams

Posted by Rattana_S On April - 8 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

“Video of Malaysia MH370 plane found in Bermuda Triangle. Passengers alive.” “Missing plane has been found!”

Headlines like these might seem tempting, but don’t fall for the hype. These videos and links are scams, according to the Better Business Bureau.

They’re popping up on social media sites like Facebook (FB, Fortune 500) and Twitter (TWTR) and are being passed around in emails. As people wait anxiously for answers to the Malaysian jet mystery, these links promise “exclusive” footage or “shocking” revelations.

When you click on the link, you may be prompted to “update your video player.” If you agree, you’re downloading malware that can allow an attacker to take over your computer.

Another variation prompts you to take a survey and divulge all your information, opening you up to identity theft. And many scams force you to share the video before watching, putting your contacts at risk as well.

This isn’t the first time hackers have used the news to their advantage. Christopher Budd, global threat communications manager at Trend Micro, says similar scams popped up after the marathon bombing in Boston. Cyberattackers have also taken advantage of celebrity deaths and other major news events.

Hackers target what Budd calls the “knowledge gap” — when users are looking for answers that news outlets don’t have. He says the strategy works so well that there is a criminal underground ready to crank out scams quickly when news breaks.

So how can you protect yourself? It’s important to get your news about the missing jet from trusted news sites instead of through emails and social media.

The Better Business Bureau recommends hovering over a link before clicking to see the destination. Avoid unfamiliar websites.

Also, don’t trust a link just because a friend shared it — that friend may be a victim of the scam, or the account may have been hacked. You should report suspicious activity on Facebook and Twitter.

A good rule of thumb: If it sounds too crazy to be true, it probably is.

Facebook and Google in tech cold war

Posted by Rattana_S On March - 30 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Facebook and Google are locked in a high-stakes, multi-billion dollar battle to shape the future.

Both companies are spending like crazy on emerging technologies. Their aims: when their current businesses are disrupted — and they will be — they’ll have a fallback plan.

“While Facebook is doing well now, it knows that its core business could degrade just as MySpace’s did,” said Carl Howe, analyst at Yankee Group.

That’s why Facebook (FB, Fortune 500) has poured billions of dollars into a photo sharing network, facial recognition software, a chat app and now virtual reality company Oculus. Google (GOOG, Fortune 500), in turn, has invested billions in driverless cars, wearable gadgets, military robots and — most recently through its purchase of Nest — connected home devices like smoke detectors and thermostats.

It’s as if Facebook and Google are now combatants in Silicon Valley’s version of a Cold War arms race.

“Facebook and Google are high technology titans engaged in a real world game of ‘Monopoly’ to grab the choicest technology properties in a bid to maintain and extend their dominance with each other as well and various other rivals,” said Laura DiDio principal analyst at consultancy ITIC.

Related: Facebook to buy virtual reality company Oculus for $2 billion

These are long-term bets. For all their attempts to diversify, neither company’s purchases have helped them expand beyond their core business models just yet. Both Google and Facebook generated about 90% of their revenue from advertising last year.

By buying Oculus, Facebook is betting that the next tech wave could be ruled by wearable devices. Google is making a similar bet with Glass and its Android Wear smartwatch platform.

Mark Zuckerberg said on a conference call with analysts Tuesday that he believes virtual reality has a chance to become the communications platform of the future.

But Oculus is unlike most wearable devices — it is closed off from the rest of the world, taking over most of your senses, including your entire field of vision. That’s great for gaming but it’s not like we’re going to be able to walk down the street with these things as we do today with smartphones and could even do one day with smartwatches and Google Glass.

“Oculus has a lot of cool, very immersive applications,” said Ron Gruia, principal consultant at Frost & Sullivan. “At the same time, Oculus is very isolating, limiting its usefulness.”

Even if it doesn’t succeed, the bet seems to be worth it for Facebook. The company spent $2 billion on Oculus but only $400 million in cash — loose change for a company with $11.5 billion in its corporate coffers.

But in the emerging Cold War between Facebook and Google, Facebook can’t take quite as many risks. Google has $59 billion in cash and can lose a bet every once in a while, as it did with Motorola Mobility. (Google bought Motorola for $12.5 billion in 2011 but subsequently shed most of the assets, including the recent sale of Motorola’s smartphone business to Lenovo for about $3 billion.)

Google’s mission of cataloging information is also broader than Facebook’s “connecting people” goal. So while Facebook can make wild bets like it is with Oculus, it has less wiggle room than Google in ensuring they pay off. Investors showed their disapproval on Wednesday as well. Shares of Facebook were down more than 3%.

But give both companies credit for knowing they can’t rest on their laurels. Google CEO Larry Page and Facebook’s Zuckerberg seem to recognize that it’s not easy to stay on top of the tech world forever.

Numerous firms that were once industry titans fell to Earth after they failed to adapt to a new wave of technology. In fact, both companies literally have their headquarters in the graveyard of former tech darlings.

Facebook’s Menlo Park offices are in the former home of Sun Microsystems, which Oracle (ORCL, Fortune 500) snapped up in 2010. And Google lives in the former headquarters of Silicon Graphics Inc. — the once-mighty computing company that filed for bankruptcy in 2009. To top of page

Remember when Facebook bought and then shut down Beluga back in 2011? Well, almost three years later, Zuck’s finally putting features from his first group-messaging-app purchase to use. The latest update to Messenger on iOS lets you group contacts together however you’d like, and spam ’em with animal stickers (or texts) en masse. Along with the typical stability fixes and speed improvements, the change log notes that you can now forward messages and photos to users that aren’t in your current conversation too — pretty much the opposite of Snapchat.

Facebook buys virtual reality headset start-up for $2bn

Posted by Nuttapon_S On March - 26 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Facebook has announced it will buy Oculus VR, a Californian company which specialises in virtual reality products, for around $2bn (£1.2bn).

The start-up’s flagship product, the Oculus Rift, is a goggle-like “immersive” headset for video gaming.

It was developed with funds raised through crowdfunding site Kickstarter, and subsequent investment.

Facebook’s boss, Mark Zuckerberg, said Oculus’ technologies could “change the way we work, play and communicate”.

The Oculus Rift has yet to be released, but more than 75,000 orders for development kits have already been placed, according to the social media giant.

In a statement released on Tuesday, Facebook said it plans to expand the use of Oculus technologies to include “communications, media and entertainment, education and other areas”.

Oculus’ crowdfunding campaign raised $2.4m (£1.5m), 10 times the amount originally sought.

It subsequently received a further $75m from investors.

The Rift headset was widely heralded at the CES technology show in Las Vegas in January, where Sony also announced a rival product.

The deal includes $400m in cash and just over 23 million Facebook shares, valued at $1.6bn.

Game developers hope that the Oculus Rift will bring virtual reality into the 21st century

Oculus employees will also receive an additional $300m if the company achieves certain targets.

Commenting on the deal, Mr Zuckerberg said: “Mobile is the platform of today, and now we’re also getting ready for the platforms of tomorrow.”

It is the latest purchase for Facebook, which last month spent $19bn on mobile messaging platform WhatsApp.