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Wednesday, November 26, 2014


Original Story:

Google has got it all backwards for its Google Contributor plan, which will ban ads for certain sites if users pay them $1, or $2, or $3 a month.

Nom Google. I don’t pay you; you pay me.

If you believe long-term customers are important, I propose that viewers will be friendlier, more engaged, and more likely to buy products, from publishers (and their advertisers) sites. All you need to do is pay them -- a little.

And perhaps I’d let Google offer up PBS- or NBR-like sponsored statements, those little brought-to-you-by announcements.

It’s all about subtlety in marketing. Advertisers shouldn’t be so apt to hit media users/viewers over the head with big advertising announcements, which are most likely to insult my intelligence.

Google, a dollar a month doesn’t sound like much to send to me. And considering that you have a nearly 70% market share when it comes to search marketing, odds are you are going to still get back your money, in a big way. You’ll net out doing fine with this customer.

A dollar isn’t going to make or break either one of us. But it’ll show your engagement in me. In turn, I might be endeared to you, a bit.

Native advertising? No, you won’t be slipping that stuff by me in your new non-advertising effort.

TV networks might wonder how to play the same game. Many TV networks have already trimmed back commercials on time-shifted airings of their expensive TV shows on video-on-demand, through mobile apps, or elsewhere.

You can, of course, see reruns of TV shows on Netflix or Amazon without TV commercials, also for price that can run around $10 a month and include a lot of other stuff.

Maybe TV networks might think of an advertising-free night, week or month for themselves. And for a select group of viewers, like what Google is considering, they might offer this to viewers for a price.

But right now, it’s time to pay up. I’ll be waiting by the mailbox, and maybe not watching much TV or using much digital media.

Thursday, November 13, 2014


Original Story:

SAN FRANCISCO — Google has signed a 60-year lease on a former Navy dirigible hangar smack in the middle of Silicon Valley, NASA said.

The Internet company will pay $1.16 billion in rent to the federal government for access to the 350,000 square foot structure, called Hangar One.

First announced on Feb. 10, the deal was finalized on Monday.

A Google subsidiary, Planetary Ventures LLC, will use Hangar One for research and development of technologies related to "space and aviation, assembly and testing in the areas of space exploration, aviation, rover/robotics and other emerging technologies" according to NASA.

The property includes three aircraft hangars, an airfield flight operations building, two runways and a private golf course.

The property is 3 miles from Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.

Google plans to invest more than $200 million in improvements to the property, including rehabilitating the hangars and creating an educational facility where the public can explore the site's legacy and the role of technology in the history of Silicon Valley.

The site is part of the former Moffett Federal Airfield on the San Francisco Peninsula.

Preservationists have been fighting to save the historic structure for years.

Moffett Field's Hangar One is a well-known landmark, clearly visible on the drive down Highway 101 from San Francisco to San Jose.

The hangar is a part of the nation's early aviation history. The Navy built it at Moffett in 1932 for the USS Macon. It served as the West Coast base for the U.S. lighter-than-air aviation program.

NASA said the hangar will be used for research and development "related to space exploration, aviation, rover robotics and other emerging technologies."

The Navy transferred ownership of the hangar to NASA in 1994 after Moffett was decommissioned.

"As NASA expands its presence in space, we are making strides to reduce our footprint here on Earth," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.

"We want to invest taxpayer resources in scientific discovery, technology development and space exploration — not in maintaining infrastructure we no longer need. Moffett Field plays an important role in the Bay Area and is poised to continue to do so through this lease arrangement," he said.


Original Story:

In classified briefings Oct. 22 and Nov. 7, the U.S. Postal Service told members of Congress that it had been hacked.

The service made the information public Monday.

The Washington Post reported China may have been involved in the cyberattack, citing anonymous sources. USA TODAY was unable to confirm the report.

Postal Service spokeswoman Sue Brennan told USA TODAY the "issue is still under investigation."

In its statement, the post office said some USPS computers were hacked and some employee information was compromised.

Information about people who called in to the post office's Customer Care center was also compromised.

The service's customer website,, was not affected, the statement said.

"The intrusion is limited in scope, and all operations of the Postal Service are functioning normally," said David Partenheimer, media relations manager for the U.S. Postal Service.

In a letter sent Monday, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., cited the classified briefings, which were made to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. He asked for more information from Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe.

Cummings asked for a description of the cyberattack and how it was first discovered, as well as what actions Donahoe took after learning about it.

The post office is investigating the incident. The investigation is being led by the FBI and other federal and postal investigatory agencies.

Employee information that might have been compromised included personally identifiable information about employees, including names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, addresses, beginning and end dates of employment, emergency contact information and other information.

Roughly 800,000 employees were affected by the intrusion, the service said.

If indeed China is behind the attack, it's likely part of an attempt to gain more information about U.S. government, said Edward Ferrara, an analyst with Forrester, a technology research company.

Employee data is also very helpful for future attacks.

"If a relatively high-level employee at the post office starts sending out phishing attacks from a .gov address, it's a possible stepping stone for attacks to get information of more value elsewhere," Ferrara said.

Cash registers and point-of-sale terminals in post offices, as well as the website where customers pay for services with credit and debit cards, were not touched by the incident.

There is no evidence any customer credit card information from retail or online purchases such as Click-N-Ship, the Postal Store, PostalOne!, change of address or other services was compromised, the service said.

Also possibly affected were call center data for customers who contacted the service's Customer Care Center by telephone or e-mail between Jan. 1, 2014, and Aug. 16, 2014, Partenheimer said.

According to the Postal Service's website, the Customer Care Center handled 83 million inquiries in 2013.

The compromised data consist of names, addresses, telephone numbers, e-mail addresses and other information for customers who gave the information when they called or e-mailed in.

The service said that it does not believe potentially affected customers need to take any action as a result of the incident.

"We began communicating this morning with our employees about this incident, apologized to them for it, and have let them know that we will be providing them with credit monitoring services for one year at no charge to them," Partenheimer said.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014


Original Story:

Word broke yesterday of a major-league security issue involving Drupal, the open source content management system (CMS) used widely in enterprises and government. Come to think of it, "major league" doesn't begin to cover it: Drupal developers have admitted that if your installation wasn't patched before Oct. 15, 11 p.m. UTC, it's best to consider the entire site compromised.

How deep does the compromise run? Deep enough that simply upgrading to the latest version of Drupal won't help, and patching an affected website is only the first of many mitigation steps required.

Drupal has long been a staple of enterprise CMSes, powering sites as diverse as and even itself at one point. Version 7, unveiled in 2011, was built with features designed specifically to appeal to enterprise users.

Attackers began making use of the vulnerability to launch automated SQL-injection attacks against websites within hours of its original disclosure, according to Web security research film Sucuri. The bug wasn't detected by Drupal's development team, but by an independent researcher referencing a bug that had been known since November of last year.

Acquia, the company that provides professional services, support, and hosting for Drupal, unveiled cloud-hosted versions of Drupal for business-grade deployments as another spur to adoption. The company began providing commercial support for Drupal back in 2008 and soon found around half of its customers were small businesses, with enterprises, public-sector outfits, nonprofits, and education forming the rest.

After the attack hit, the company claims it took proactive steps to protect customers running Drupal installations in its cloud -- the kind of protection the company touts as one of the advantages of using a hosted and managed installation of Drupal. According to Acquia, other commercial Drupal vendors (mainly and Pantheon) "all implemented different platform-wide protections for our respective customers, " with the three companies collaborating together on possible solutions.

One major takeaway is the speed at which attackers were able to leverage information about the exploit as word of it emerged. It shows today's cyber criminals are well-prepared to take advantage of a known exploit, especially one that uses a widely understood delivery method such as a SQL injection.

InfoWorld's Roger Grimes expressed concern about the future of malware and the idea that "a vendor releases a patch and every possible machine is exploited before anyone even wakes up," as he put it in an email. "Does it eventually become a race between the vendor and malware writer for customer trust? ... Most bad guys don't want to exploit every computer immediately because all that does is ramp up the patching speed, and that's counterproductive to what they want."