Everyone Gets Spam, But How Much Money are Spammers Really Making and How Much is it Costing You?

Anyone who uses the internet is familiar with internet spam, and we are all accustom to the regular spam emails that make their way to your inbox hopefully not too often. But how much money could these spammers and spam-advertised merchants make, more importantly how much is it really costing society?

According to a report from Justin Rao of Microsoft and David Reiley of Google these spammers are costing society a total of $20 billion while gaining a mere $200 million in combined revenue per year. The “externality ratio” of external costs to internal benefits for spam is around 100:1. This is very sad to see how much companies are spending trying to prevent spam it still seems to find a way to prevail.

Rao and Reiley say that even if only 1 out every 25,000 people who receive spam advertising were to buy something, it would still be profitable for spammers due to cheap operating costs. The only way to prevent spam is to find a way to raise the cost of spam to the point where the spamming business is no longer profitable, according to the researchers.

“We advocate supplementing current technological anti-spam efforts with lower-level economic interventions at key choke points in the spam supply chain, such as legal intervention in payment processing, or even spam-the-spammers tactics,” the pair wrote. “By raising spam merchants’ operating costs, such countermeasures could cause many campaigns no longer to be profitable at the current marginal price of $20-50 per million emails.”

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WiFi Alliance Hopes to Improve Media Streaming with Tunneled Direct Link Setup Certification

The WiFi Alliance is working on Tunneled Direct Link Setup (TDLS), which is a standard for creating direct links between devices.

This may make you think of just connecting to a WiFi network but there are a few things that TDLS will do like working in the background of a network to optimize performance, and it can even work over a WiFi Direct connection. What this means, for example, two devices can measure the signal strength on the network, and determine if a direct link would be a better connection or not.

TDLS allows devices to communicate at the fastest standard available (802.11b / g / n) etc. even if it is superior to what is available on the rest of your hardware of whatever the device you are using. Which really just means you will get the fastest connection available on your device. Also you won’t need to upgrade your access point either as this is a client-based protocol.

The certification is available to TVs, tablets, phones, cameras and gaming devices which really pushes the idea that this is to better video streaming on these devices. There are only a few company names right now that have test products with the official approval, these companies include names such as Broadcom, Marvell and Realtek. Below is the press release.

Press Release
Wi-Fi Alliance® now certifying Tunneled Direct Link Setup
Certified devices form higher-performance links to support video and other demanding applications.

AUSTIN, TX, August 23, 2012 – The Wi-Fi Alliance® today announced that it has launched the Wi-Fi CERTIFIED? TDLS program. TDLS (Tunneled Direct Link Setup) devices are able to automatically create a secure, direct link between them after accessing the Wi-Fi® network, removing the need to transmit data through the access point. In today’s Wi-Fi networks, faced with increased traffic and more demanding applications, TDLS links between devices improve overall network performance, reduce latency caused by heavy AP traffic, and avoid interference, thereby improving the user experience.

The new certification program will provide networks and users with the following benefits:
Increased performance: TDLS links optimize the performance of applications running over Wi-Fi networks by avoiding delays caused by queuing and congestion through an AP.

Ease of use: TDLS links are formed automatically, with no user action required to set them up.

Optimized communication: TDLS-linked devices are able to communicate using the highest-performance technology common to them, even if the network’s AP only supports a lower-bandwidth form of Wi-Fi.

Highest available security: TDLS links are protected by the highest level of security supported by both devices, even if the network’s AP does not support that level of security.

Power saving mechanisms: When battery-operated devices participate in a TDLS link, they can take advantage of advanced mechanisms to save power.

“The new TDLS certification program will improve the user experience with advanced applications such as media streaming, without requiring user intervention,” said Kelly Davis-Felner, marketing director of the Wi-Fi Alliance. “Wi-Fi CERTIFIED TDLS is another example of how Wi-Fi technology keeps pace with the evolving demands of the marketplace.”

The certification is only for client devices, such as tablets, handsets, notebooks, and consumer electronics. TDLS-certified devices can operate over Wi-Fi CERTIFIED n technology, as well as previous versions of Wi-Fi. It is not necessary to upgrade to a new AP in order to benefit from TDLS features. TDLS-certified devices are suitable for use in both enterprise and consumer networks.

Although TDLS forms a direct link between two client devices, TDLS is not the same as, nor does it replace, Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Wi-Fi Direct?. TDLS operates in the background of a Wi-Fi network to optimize performance, while Wi-Fi Direct-certified devices can quickly connect to one another while on the go, even when a Wi-Fi network is unavailable. Many devices will be certified for both solutions and use them in different situations.

The first products to be designated Wi-Fi CERTIFIED TDLS, and which form the test suite for the certification program, are:
Broadcom® Dual-Band 11n Half MiniPCI
Marvell® Avastar® 88W8787 Wireless Chipset
Ralink® 802.11 a/b/g/n Dual Band Station
Realtek® 2X2 a/b/g/n miniCard Reference Design.

More information on Wi-Fi CERTIFIED programs, a list of Wi-Fi CERTIFIED products, technical specifications, white papers, and more is available at www.wi-fi.org

Android-Powered Nexus One & Nexus S to Command Small Scale Spacecraft

NASA’s Research Center, Ames, is working on a new project designed to lower the cost of launching and operating small satellites. These specific satellites are Low Earth Orbit (LEO). This will use the Android-powered phones the Nexus One and the Nexus S to command the spacecraft.

The project is know as PhoneSat, and it will launch two different satellites into LEO orbit, both with different goals.

First there is PhoneSat 1.0 and it is based on the Nexus One. The one and only primary goal for PhoneSat 1.0 is to stay alive, meaning it is designed to test if the smartphone can operate for a reasonable amount of time while in space. The Nexus One is to use it’s camera to take pictures and send them back to Earth with other general information about the spacecraft. There will be an external radio beacon in place to indicate the satellite itself is ok and intact. This also is because if the signal is being received from the beacon and no signal is being received from the Nexus, then the problem is with the Nexus and not the spacecraft, there is also an external device that monitors the Nexus One and reboots it if the flow of data stops.

Google Nexus One

Google Nexus One

Second there is PhoneSat 2.0 which will be based on the Nexus S. Phone 2.0 will also feature additional hardware over PhoneSat 1.0. It will have solar panels so it will operates for a longer period of time, and scientist will be able to send commands to PhoneSat 2.0 because it has a two way radio. The last feature is PhoneSat 2.0 will have magnetorquer coils and reactions wheels, these are devices that will allow the satellite to orient itself and maintain proper position using electricity from the solar panels.

Google Nexus S

Google Nexus S

PhoneSat is part of a larger NASA program, the Small Spacecraft Technology Program, which has a goal to leverage the incredible technological advances in consumer technology to create cheaper spacecraft.

According to Ames engineer Chris Boshuizen “Your cellphone is really a $500 robot in your pocket that can’t get around. A lot of the real innovation now happens in entertainment and cellphone technology, and NASA should be going forward with their stuff.”

The hardware that these devices contain does make sense why they are perfect for this kind of project. They have GPS, cameras, compass, gyroscope, microphone and so on. To save weight the screens and cases will be removed and the batteries replaced with something more powerful and designed for the adventures.

Another reason why this makes sense to use Google’s Android OS is because it is open source and can be configured however NASA desires. NASA can modify the source code of the OS they want on the devices and then flash it to their satellite.

In 2010 a group of engineers put two Nexus One devices into high altitude rockets to see if they could handle the extreme forces of launching. One of the Nexus One devices was destroyed when its parachute did not deploy, but the other Nexus One landed and was in perfect working condition. Both devices recorded data during the entire ride.

Watch this Youtube Video Here

How to Get Pulse News Reader on the BlackBerry PlayBook

Pulse news reader is a great news feed application that has been available on Android devices and in Apple’s App Store. It is not available on any BlackBerry device, though I could definitely see it running nicely on a BlackBerry 10 device.

Pulse is by far one of my favorite news feed applications and it is one of the most unique in it’s layout. I figured that there would be a Pulse application available for the PlayBook by now but that sadly is like a lot of other great apps that could be and should be on the PlayBook but aren’t.

If you know how to sideload Android apps onto your PlayBook, either by using your computer or doing it the way I prefer which is by using LocalBar2 on my PlayBook and my Bold. With LocalBar2 you can download the .bar files on your PlayBook and use your BlackBerry or Android device as a proxy server to install the apps directly to your PlayBook with no need for a computer or wires of any kind. Visit Yohanes Nugroho’s LocalBar2 site Here. Also note (I assume that LocalBar2 will work on most OS versions on the PlayBook, as I am currently running Beta OS v2.1.0.840 and it works just fine).

Here’s the .bar file for Pulse News Reader for BlackBerry PlayBook.

Besides doing that as many already know Pulse recently released a Pulse news reader website. The site is http://pulse.me and it is a great looking site and works beautifully.

I have found that the new Pulse website actually works very well on the BlackBerry PlayBook’s default browser and I have been using it lately, though of course there are little annoyances’. Like when scrolling at times articles you touch will move to saved articles.

So if you are a fan of Pulse and you would like to be able to view Pulse news on your PlayBook these are two simple suggestions.

Print Your Own Food with The Imagine 3D Printer

The Imagine 3D Printer

The Imagine 3D Printer

We’ve seen a lot of various things that 3D printers can do, like recently The World’s First 3D-Printed Gun that was actually fired.

Most 3D printers use melted plastic extruded through a fine tip. Though the Imagine 3D Printer does not use this method, instead it uses special syringes that accept any soft form material. It has a large 9″ by 9″ printing tray, and it can print with any kind of soft material

The Imagine 3D Printer is $1,995.

Below is a video of the Imagine 3D Printer in action.

Youtube Video

Android-Powered Smart TV From Tencent and TCL

The above image is a 26-inch Android-powered Smart TV From companies Tencent and TCL. It is called the “Ice Screen”and it is the first large screen mobile entertainment smart cloud product in the world.

Some major features included are:

    • Large portable screen
    • High-definition video communications
    • Stylish music and photo album
    • High-speed video player

It is powered by a dual-core Cortex A9 1GHz processor with a Mali 400 GPU for graphics, 4GB of RAM, a microSD slot, USB and HDMI connectivity, 1366 x 768 resolution Wi-Fi and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

The launch date is September 3rd, it is going for roughly $315. You can read the press release Here.

Source: Ubergizmo

Malicious Malware Email Campaign Targeting BlackBerry

Websense ThreatSeeker Network intercepted a malware campaign targeting BlackBerry customers, I have read it is targeting BlackBerry business customers (I’m assuming BES customers?) and I have read regular users have been receiving these emails too. So I’m not sure if there is a specific target here.

The fake email states the users has successfully created a Blackberry ID. The messages then goes on to say “To enjoy the full benefits of your BlackBerry ID, please follow the instructions in the attached file.” That entices’ the user to open the attached file which of course has the malware attached.

The malicious email is a copy and paste of a legitimate email from RIM regarding your BlackBerry ID, just with the attachment including the malware though there is no malicious or compromised URL in it. 17/36 AV engines identify the malware in VirusTotal, Here.

According to ThreatScope analysis, which is a part of the Websense CSI service, running the attachment drops other executable files and modifies the system registry to automatically start these malware programs when the system starts.

Father Puts Together a Breathing Detector Using a Wiimote and Lasers to Monitor Infant

(Youtube Video )

The above video is a video of a device that Gjoci, a hacker and a blogger before becoming a father, made to monitor his new born daughters breathing. He was already developing this device and what it does is alerts him of any irregular breathing coming from his daughter, or if the breathing stopped entirely.

This is done by using the Nintendo Wiimote, three 1 milliwatt lasers, along with a simple program that prompts the camera as to whether the lights emitted from the lasers are moving, signaling there is breathing. The basic concept is if motion is detected than everything is fine, but if there isn’t any motion detected an alarm will go off alerting both parents immediately.

I know as I am a father now any new development that can help in child safety is welcomed by me, you never can be too safe and this is just a great creative way to make sure your child is getting the best sleep possible and they are completely safe. Watch the above video to see it in action.

New Crisis Malware Infecting Macs, VMware and Windows

Security experts have discovered a virus strain that compromises VMware virtual machines, and is infecting Mac OS X, Windows computers as well as Windows Mobile devices.

This virus strain has capabilities that have yet to be seen before, the Crisis malware normally arrives in a Java archive file (.jar). It is typically installed by posing as a Flash Player Java applet to trick a victim into opening it, letting the Crisis malware onto the PC. This archive contains executable files (.exe). And the malware is able to detect which platform it is running on and serve up the correct variant, targeting Apple and Windows operating systems.

According to a Kaspersky Lab Expert, once launched the worm puts in place a rootkit to hide itself from view; installs spyware to record the user’s every move on the computer; and opens a backdoor to the IP address 176.58.100.37, allowing miscreants to gain further access to the machine. The code is also said to survive after a system reboots.

The Windows variant of the virus will snoop into these user applications: Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chrome, Microsoft Messenger, Skype, Google Talk and Yahoo! Messenger. It will also shut off any anti-virus programs, log keypresses, download and upload files, lift the contents of the user’s clipboard, take screenshots, and record from the computer’s webcam and mic.

The Mac variant is very similar to Windows. It monitors Adium, Mozilla, Firefox, MSN Messenger (for Mac) and Skype, and records keystrokes. But on Mac OS X, the user does not need administrative privileges to install the software although its functionality is affected if there is insufficient information used. With admin-level access, the virus can slot in the rootkit.

According to The Register Crisis uses three methods to spread itself from Windows desktops: it can copy itself and an autorun.inf file to a removable drive in order to infect the next machine the storage stick is plugged into; it can sneak onto virtual machines; and it can drop modules onto a Windows Mobile device.

The virus does not use a vulnerability in the VMware software, it relies on a feature that allows the virtual machine’s files to be manipulated while it is not even running. The virus searches for the virtual machines images on the Windows PC and attempts to copy itself onto the system using a VMware Player tool.

“This may be the first malware that attempts to spread onto a virtual machine. Many threats will terminate themselves when they find a virtual machine monitoring application, such as VMware, to avoid being analyzed, so this may be the next leap forward for malware authors,” Symantec researcher Takashi Katsuki concludes.

Google Granted ‘Seeing With Your Hand’ Patent

Google has been granted a glove-based gesture controlled, see with your hands, patent from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) The patent uses a hand-mounted sensor that records the environment through a detector then works out what motion occurred. This would allow for gesture controls on non-touchscreen surfaces.

A sensor could be on one finger taking images of a surface while the other user draws a letter. The two images then are compared and the distance and direction traveled between the two would be worked out similar to the way an optical mouse works.

By using multiple sensors on multiple fingers and take multiple readings the system can figure out what letter is being written and can also detect gesture control commands such as pinching.

This is one of many patents Google has filed for control systems this year.