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Facebook’s latest figures showing growth in global users also suggest as many as 83 million may come from dubious sources – duplicate accounts, pages for pets and those designed to send spam.
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Facebook members grew to 955 million at the end of the second quarter, but some 8.7 per cent may be dodgy, the company said in its quarterly filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

There are “inherent challenges” in measuring usage “despite our efforts to detect and suppress such behaviour”, the social network said.

It said duplicate accounts – when a same user maintains more than one account – may represent some 4.8 per cent of active users.
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Another 2.4 per cent may be for a business, group or “non-human entity such as a pet” and 1.5 per cent are likely “undesirable” accounts that use the accounts for spam or other malicious activity.

“We believe the percentage of accounts that are duplicate or false is meaningfully lower in developed markets such as the United States or Australia and higher in developing markets such as Indonesiaand Turkey,” Facebook said in its filing.

“We are continually seeking to improve our ability to identify duplicate or false accounts and estimate the total number of such accounts, and such estimates may be affected by improvements or changes in our methodology.”

The number of real users is critical for Facebook as it seeks to secure advertising revenues from the world’s biggest social network. Some analysts have expressed doubts that the company can boost revenues.

Graham Cluley of the British security firm Sophos said fake accounts are a fact of life but could affect Facebook’s bottom line.

“Clearly all Facebook users are interested in the site becoming a safer place, and the level of spam and malicious links being minimised,” Cluley said in a blog post.

“But more than that, companies who are considering advertising on the social network want to be sure that any ‘likes’ they receive are from genuine users, not bogus accounts.”

Facebook shares closed down more than four percent at $20.04, a sharp 47 percent decrease from May’s offering price of $38.
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Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha



A security flaw in web-connected home security cameras made by Trendnet, which distributes in Australia, is allowing internet users to spy on the private video feeds of thousands.

Trendnet, a US company, issued an update to fix the flaw on February 6 but it requires owners of the cameras to take action, which has led to some speculating that many will not install the fix unless they are made aware of the flaws.

That speculation may well turn out to be true as links to thousands of live video feeds that are claimed to remain vulnerable have been posted on internet message boards such as 4chan and Reddit in recent weeks.

The security hole, which was revealed nearly a month ago by a blog called Console Cowboys, allows for real-time online access to the cameras without the need for a password.

Director of Trendnet’s Australian agent, BAX IT services’ Matthew Mann, said he had sold 53 affected cameras to 13 customers and that he found out about the security flaw yesterday. He was contacting customers today to get them to install the fix.

“They will have to do a firmware update which is very minimal,” he said. Another 70 cameras in stock remained affected by the flaw but would have a fix installed by technicians before they were sold.

He said there could potentially be more cameras in Australia that were vulnerable which people had purchased overseas using sites like eBay but said he was the only Australian agent for Trendnet and that their web-connected cameras hadn’t been a focus for his company.

What internet users claim they saw

One Reddit user, “Gl0we”, claimed many owners of the affected cameras were using them in private spaces, including in living rooms and bedrooms. The user added that some were using them as baby monitors and that “a lot of work places” appeared to be using them too. “Some look like they might be spying on employees even,” they claimed. “It’s not even funny.”

Tech blog The Verge claimed nudity was viewed, saying a woman taking off her pyjamas in her bedroom and a young mother standing next to a baby crib at night were seen by accessing the vulnerable cameras.

Trendnet addressed the problem in a statement.

“Trendnet has recently gained awareness of an IP camera vulnerability common to many Trendnet SecurView cameras,” the Torrance, California-based firm said.

“It is Trendnet’s understanding that video from select Trendnet IP cameras may be accessed online in real time,” Trendnet said.

“Upon awareness of the issue, Trendnet initiated immediate actions to correct and publish updated firmware which resolves the vulnerability,” it said.

In the statement, Trendnet listed 22 camera models sold since April 2010 which may have the vulnerability and provided a link to a site where camera owners can download a firmware fix.

“Trendnet is aware that this IP Camera security threat may affect your confidence in Trendnet solutions,” the company said. “Trendnet extends its deepest apologies to consumers which may be impacted by this issue.”

Australian security analyst at IBRS, James Turner, said that the camera vulnerability highlighted the fact that when you plugged any device into the internet, other people could find it. “Australians should be thinking about this issue very carefully as we look forward to all of the capabilities that the [national broadband network] is promising,” he said.

As broadband became more capable and ubiquitous, he said people would “inevitably increase their use of internet-intensive applications and services, such as video conferencing.”

The resulting plethora of devices, which will be left plugged in and turned on, many with webcams and microphones, would be “an appealing target to opportunistic hackers”, he said

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

Private photos of facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg uploaded to his Facebook have leaked oot into the public internet following the discovery of yet another security flaw, one of the many that have plagued the social networking website since its inception in February 2004.

The flaw, which Facebook has acknowledged, appears to have first been posted about on a body building forum along with step-by-step instructions on how to obtain access to the private photos of any Facebook user.

The forum post has since been deleted and upon discovering the security flaw, Facebook said it “immediately disabled the system” used to obtain private photos and would only “return functionality” once it had confirmed a fix.

The flaw “allowed anyone to view a limited number of another user’s most recently uploaded photos irrespective of the privacy settings for these photos”, Facebook said in a statement, and was “the result of one of our recent code pushes”.

It was live for “a limited period of time”, it added.

One of the photos extracted from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s profile shows him holding a chicken upside down as if it were dead. Another shows him holding two plates, one with what looks to have battered chicken on it and the other, thinly-sliced potato chips.

If reports of Mr Zuckerberg only eating meat he has killed are anything to go by, it’s likely the chicken was slaughtered.

Other photos show him with “Beast”, his fluffy white dog, and girlfriend Priscilla Chan at their home.

There are also photos of Mr Zuckerberg with friends while eating and drinking, with US President Barack Obama and with children in costumes, likely taken during Halloween in the US.

Facebook has had a long history of access control vulnerabilities, especially around unauthorised access to photos, said Ty Miller, chief technology officer at the Australian security firm Pure Hacking.

In December 2009 a privacy overhaul of the social networking site saw almost 300 photos of Mr Zuckerberg and his friends as well as his calendar and wall posts made public to even non-friends. His access privileges were revised to “friends of friends” following reports of the photo treasure trove.

“Facebook users should expect variations of this type of security flaw to continue into the future,” Mr Miller said. “As a precaution Facebook users should ensure that they only upload content … that won’t negatively impact them if it is leaked.”

He added that the social networking giant should ensure that penetration tests were performed on all updates to the site to ensure that vulnerabilities like the recent one were detected prior to being released to the public.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


SCHOOLS are using internet monitoring companies to read what students are saying on social networking sites.

The typical service used by schools such as Ascham looks at any publicly available material posted on sites such as Facebook, Formspring and Tumblr to monitor the sometimes ferocious use of the media by young people.

”We go where the conversations are, where young people or communities of interest are coalescing online,” says James Griffin, a partner in SR7. The company’s service does not intercept private messages, although some technology using keyword searches is able to do this.

Mr Griffin said Formspring allowed anonymous postings on the wall of identified hosts, which could then be seen by their friends, making it a standout tool for cyber-bullying.

Ascham is one of several private schools monitoring what their students do online at home or, with smartphones, literally anywhere. Ascham girls are not allowed to use social networking sites at school.

The director of students for years 11 and 12, Frances Booth, said: ”We know it’s become pretty much the essential way of communicating for thie current generation of students and we understand it’s a huge part of their lives. But we’re also aware of the dangers that can come from unrestrained use.

”They’re aware we keep an eye on what they’re up to. All we want is for them to be safe.”

Other schools rely on students or parents to monitor postings. Stephen Harris, the principal of Northern Beaches Christian School, is ready to phone parents late at night if their children have posted something inappropriate, to make them take it down immediately. ”Our school policy now extends the concept

of the school playground to any environment in the social media platform where a student of the school or a teacher is identified by either name, image or inference,” he said.

Public schools are also stepping into what had previously been held to be either private or the domain of parents.

While social networking sites are not accessible from school computers, Lila Mularczyk, the deputy president of the NSW Secondary Principals’ Council, recently argued that cyber-bullying connected with school was treated in the same way, no matter when it occurred.

”If the out-of-hours harassment is an extension of school relationships or a school event, that is [considered] part of the school day,” she said.

Mrs Booth said: ”We monitor the girls’ usage of the internet both internally and externally, not because we want to stop them but because we want them to use it in a safe manner.

”We don’t want them putting things out there that might put them in danger.”

But Cameron Murphy, the president of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, said that the monitoring was an ”outrageous invasion” of students’ privacy.

”Just because students may discuss things about school over the phone at night, it wouldn’t be appropriate or lawful for a school to tap someone’s phone and make decisions about them on that basis. Just because it happens to be a social networking site, it shouldn’t be any different,” he said.

But Mr Griffin, of SR7, said schools must act out of a duty of care to their students.

”Social media and cyber-bullying is simply an issue of the modern day that schools have to acknowledge and understand they can do something about,” he said.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

Spy on your kids’ Facebook

without being their friend

April 27, 2011 – 2:03PM

Internet security firm Check Point has launched software that lets parents watch over offspring on Facebook without being “friends” at the online social network.

ZoneAlarm SocialGuard alerts parents to signs of trouble in a child’s Facebook account without them being privy to all posts, comments, pictures, videos or other digital content shared between friends at the website.

The program scans Facebook profiles, communications and “friend” requests and uses algorithms to identify potential bullying, sexual overtures, or talk of drugs, violence or suicide. 

SocialGuard software runs unseen in the background, flagging suspicious activity and sending alerts to parents, according to its Redwood City, California-based creators.

“It’s about protecting your kids from the social threats out there, while still respecting their privacy and fostering open communication,” said Check Point vice president of consumer sales Bari Abdul.

“We are offering Facebook users a simple way to embrace social networking safely,” he continued.

SocialGuard is crafted to detect hacked accounts, malicious links, online predators, and cyber-bullies, according to Check Point.

The software also checks to determine whether people contacting children online are being deceptive about their ages or if a stranger is trying to become a Facebook “friend.”

“Parents are increasingly concerned, and rightfully so, about the dramatically increasing trend of criminals, predators and bullies targeting children over social networks,” said analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group in Silicon Valley.

“SocialGuard provides a strong suite of tools that can effectively protect children from these types of social threats that are keeping parents awake at night.”

Check Point cited a survey indicating that 38 per cent of teenagers have ignored requests from parents to be friends on Facebook, and that 16 per cent of children have only done so as a condition of using the social network.

SocialGuard is available to order online in Australia for $1.99 a month or $19.99 a year. It can be bought from zonealarm.com.


Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha