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Internet Access Shut Down In Most of Syria

Written By Shelly Alicia on Thursday, October 25, 2012 | 8:30 AM


According to Renesys, a service that focuses on monitoring Internet connectivity, due to the civil unrest that is going on in Syria, most of the country’s Internet network security services have been shut down.

According to a blog post that was posted by Renesys on Friday, June 3 at approximately 6:35 a.m. local time, close to two-thirds of the entire country’s networks were disabled. The computer company said that “over the course of roughly half an hour, the routes to 40 of 59 networks were withdrawn from the global routing table."

Unfortunately for Syrians, most of their Internet access is brought to them by a company called SyriaTel, which is state-owned. "They buy most of their Internet transit from Turk Telekom and Deutsche Telekom, with some contribution from PCCW, Tata, and Telecom Italia," Renesys said. "Connectivity has historically come in over submarine cable from Cyprus; activation of new terrestrial fiber connections to Turkey have been delayed by this year's political unrest."

Well, what about the other third of the networks, some might ask? Unfortunately, Renesys said that all of those connections belong to the Syrian government. Of course the country’s Oil Ministry Web site is still online, as is Syrian Telecom’s official page, but government sites like the Ministry of Education, the Damascus city government page and the Syrian Customs site are all down.

Although Renesys had lots of great information, they did not have any evidence of what specific regions or cities were affected by the outages or how the massive outage was coordinated; however, they did say that "if Egypt and Libya's Internet outages are any guide, one might conclude that events on the streets in Syria are reaching a tipping point."

Google confirmed the outages in Syria via its Twitter account, tweeting on Friday afternoon: "Google services currently blocked in Syria."

For months the citizens of Syria of have been protesting against the conditions of their country, but according the Washington Post, the real turning point for everything was this past Wednesday. The Post reports that more than 300 opponents of the current Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, held a meeting at a hotel in Turkey to discuss what their next move should be. According to the Post, "It was significant that the government's opponents were finally coming together to try to present a united front to a world that remains skeptical about the Syrian protest movement."

Just this past February, there were reports that the Syrian government was planning to lift the then current bans on YouTube and Facebook. These bans had been present for over four years and were supposed to be lifted due to the “popular upheaval” about the situation.

In the past year, there has been plenty of civil unrest around the globe. Protest and violence exploded in the Middle East in Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Syria. In January Internet services went down in Egypt for a couple days, due to the protests concerning the country’s governmental issues, including the nearly 30-year rule of its “President” Hosni Mubarak. In March Internet services were also disabled in Libya due to similar issues and protests.

The outages in Syria, however, ironically occurred on the same day that the United Nations released its Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression. Frank La Rue’s report discussed the recent increase of governmental restriction on the flow of online information. He noted that this was mostly due to the Internet’s ability to unite individuals together in protest of something; however, in his report he encouraged governments to not restrict their country’s citizens' Web usage. He instead asked them to work on developing a plan that would make the Internet widely available, accessible and affordable to all.

"There should be as little restriction as possible to the flow of information via the Internet, except in a few, very exceptional, and limited circumstances prescribed by international human rights law," La Rue said in a statement.

"The report by the Special Rapporteur raises concerns about justifying broad surveillance powers under the name of national security or counter-terrorism," said the U.S.-based Electronic Frontier Foundation in a statement. "La Rue should be commended for questioning the ostensible motives for online surveillance."

"As Rapporteur La Rue affirms, the Internet's unique ability to provide ample space for individual free expression can lead to the strengthening of other human rights, including political, economic and social rights," said Cynthia Wong, the Director of the Center for Democracy and Technology’s Project on Global Internet Freedom. "In order for these rights to be realized, governments, civil society and industry must all continue to build on the work begun by the Special Rapporteur."

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8:30 AM | 0 komentar

Microsoft Increases Security of Outlook Hotmail Connector

Microsoft has recently boosted the security of a certain tool that allows Outlook users to send and receive messages via Microsoft's web-based Hotmail service. The new Outlook Hotmail Connector now supports HTTPS, a protocol which encrypts all traffic between the email client and the Windows Live Hotmail service.

Back in November of 2010, Microsoft added an all-HTTPS option to Hotmail, due in part as a reaction to Firesheep, a Firefox add-on released the month before which allowed anybody to scan an unsecured WiFi network and hijack other people's access to Facebook, Twitter and a whole bunch of other websites.

The update to the Outlook Hotmail Connector that was released this week is simply a follow-up to Microsoft's move back in 2010. According to Microsoft's Outlook team, "Using a connection with HTTPS helps you be even more confident that your account is safer from hijackers, and that your private information remains private."

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This new tool encrypts communication between Outlook and the Windows Live email, calendar and contact services. Google's Gmail beat out Hotmail to the HTTPS by more than a few years. Gmail users have had this option of encrypting all Gmail traffic since 2008. However, in mid-January of 2010 Google enabled HTTPS by default on the same day it accused hackers from China of breaking into its systems and trying to access the Gmail accounts of human rights activists who lived in the country at the time.

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In addition to this, Microsoft has also updated the consumer-grade Windows Live Mail to support HTTPS as well. Unlike its Outlook Express predecessor, which just so happened to be bundled with Windows XP, Windows Live Mail is an optional download for Windows Vista and Windows 7. Outlook Hotmail Connector can be downloaded in 32-bit or 64-bit versions for Outlook 2003, 2007 and 2010 on Windows. There is no similar tool for outlook 2011, which was included with Office for Mac 2011.

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The Windows Live Essentials update, which includes the HTTPS-enabled Windows Live Mail, is available here or on Microsoft's download website as well.

Source: Computer World - Microsoft beefs up Outlook-to-Hotmail security
8:24 AM | 0 komentar

Google+ Making Some Big Developments

Just a few weeks out of the gate and Google+ is already becoming highly popular among its early adopters. It is estimated that as many as 5 million users are already a part of the service's user base with many websites opting to adopt the +1 button. However, despite all that, it is still unclear as to whether or not Google+ is here to stay or if it will fail just like Google's other attempts at social networking.

In the meantime, things are looking positive for Google+. If you have not signed up yet, or have been unable to, then you might want a little peek at what is going on inside the pages of the service. Here are five notable developments pertaining to Google+ since it launched.

Increase in Google+ Share Buttons
While Google+ may be nowhere near Facebook, it is giving Twitter a run for its money. According to different sources, there are already more Google+ Share buttons, or +1 buttons, on the internet than Twitter share plugins. In a search of the 10,000 most viewed websites, nearly 4.5% have +1 buttons while only 2.1% have Twitter buttons.

MySpace and Digg Heavy on Google+
Kevin Rose, founder of Digg, recently reported that he would be moving his domain, KevinRose.com, to his Google+ page, which will move his online activity to that network as well. In addition to Kevin Rose, MySpace co-founder Tom Anderson also has an extensive Google+ presence. Anderson's presence is so prevalent that he even used the service to write a blog post praising Facebook and CEO Mark Zuckerberg for the site's recent integration of Skype.

Invites Stabilizing
Google+ was being so inundated with invites and such that Google started a habit of randomly turning the invites feature on and off, and it was getting rather annoying. Users also griped about how they would invite friends and when those individuals finally got around to checking out the network, the invite feature would be turned off. However, all that seems to have stabilized, for now at least. The invite link has remained unchanged and working since Saturday.

Tips and Tricks from Users
Some of the more dedicated users of Google+ have already joined forces and created a tips and tricks guide for Google+ known as Google+: A Collaborative Document, which can be found on Google Docs. The document is over 40 pages long and covers everything like creative ways to use circles, tips on privacy, how to send private messages and an extensive guide for Chrome and Safari. In addition to that, the guide, which is in English, is being translated into Chinese, German and Russian.

Business Pages Coming Soon
A lot of enterprises are supposedly very anxious to get into Google+ and Google is planning on opening up its social experiment to business pages in the "near future". A lot of people are wondering if when Google+ offers business pages, if Google Play Offers, Google's form of Groupon and Facebook Deals, will expand into Google+ as well.

So there you have it, five of the top things that have been happening on Google+ since it launched. If you haven't gotten an invite yet, you might want to start making more friends or find some way to get on the network. Even though Google+ is in a somewhat of a trial stage, it is already gaining immense popularity.

Source: PC World - Google+: 5 Big Developments
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8:18 AM | 0 komentar

Breakthrough by IBM May Bring Us Exascale Supercomputers

Written By Shelly Alicia on Wednesday, October 17, 2012 | 10:52 PM

If you are one of the people out there that doesn't think that a supercomputer seems good enough, then you probably work at IBM. Researchers at IBM have just made a breakthrough in using light pulses to help accelerate the transfer of data between chips. If this works out like the people at IBM think it will, then it could quite possibly increase supercomputer performance by more than a thousand times.

This technology, dubbed CMOS Integrated Silicon Nanophotonics (I feel smarter already), integrates optical modules as well as electrical modules on a single piece of silicon. This allows electrical signals created at the transistor level to be transformed into light pulses, seemingly allowing chips to communicate faster according to IBM silicon photonics research scientist Will Green.

IBM believes that this new technology will lead to massive advances in supercomputer power. The fastest supercomputers we have around today max out at nearly 2 petaflops which, for us lay people, registers into two thousand trillion calculations per second. The photonics technology could increase this number to a staggering trillion million calculations per second. Yeah, a MILLION TRILLION calculations per second, otherwise known as an exaflop. This would help IBM achieve their goal of building an exascale computer software companies by the year 2020.

According to Green, "In an exascale system, interconnects have to be able to push exabytes per second across the computer network. This is an interesting milestone for system builders who are looking at building exascale systems in 10 years."

The possibility of integrating multiple photonics modules onto a single substrate or onto a motherboard is here, according to Green. Newer supercomputers already use optical technology for chips in order to communicate. However, this usually occurs at the rack level and mostly over a single wavelength. This breakthrough will allow optical communication simultaneously at multiple wavelengths.

The good thing about this technology is that it can be manufactured on a standard chip production line. Another benefit is that it also needs no special tools, making it extremely cost-effective. The current demonstration used a 130-nanometer CMOS manufacturing node. However, IBM plans on pursuing integration into "deeply scaled sub-100 nanometer CMOS processes," according to Green.

The technology aims to replace copper wires. As you know, copper wires are widely used today for data transfer between chips. Optics can get a speed increase for distances as short as a few centimeters to as long as a few miles and even consumes less power. Eventually, IBM hopes to use optics for on-chip communication between transistors as well. According to Green, "There is a vision for the chip level, but that is not what we are claiming today."
10:52 PM | 1 komentar

Microsoft's IE9 Strategy Fails to Produce Results

Internet Explorer 9As the rise of other browsers, like Google Chrome, begin to show, so does the demise of others, namely Internet Explorer. The web browser, designed by Microsoft, continued to lose members last month, losing the largest number of users since December 2010.

During September, Internet Explorer lost nine-tenths of a percentage point of share, dropping to 54.4%, a new record low for the browser. The drop experienced last month was the seventh straight decline and the largest decline since December of last year where Internet Explorer fell by 1.1 points. Causing the decrease was, of course, Google Chrome, which saw shares increase by seven-tenths of a point. Adding to the decline was Apple's Safari browser, which saw an increase of four-tenths of a percentage point.

Chrome ended the month with a 16.2% share with Safari accounting for 5% of all browsers used worldwide. Microsoft, on the other hand, focused on looking at the brighter side by plugging the success of Internet Explorer 9 on Windows 7. Head of Internet Explorer's Marketing Roger Capriotti used data from Net Applications to highlight the gains of IE9 by pointing out that the browser version owned 21% global share of browsers running on Windows 7.

Internet Explorer 9 is the second-most popular internet browser on Windows 7 with a 21% compared to Internet Explorer 8's leading 31.6%. Firefox 6 and Chrome 13 came in third and fourth place, respectively, with 13.9% and 13.1%. Unfortunately, Microsoft hasn't outlined an alternate strategy for stopping IE defections. While the focus on Internet Explorer 9 may pay off in the long run, it has failed to slow down the number of defectors heading to Safari, Chrome or Firefox. Since its debut, Microsoft has lost 4 percentage points of share with Internet Explorer 9.

Source: Computer World - Microsoft's IE9-first strategy fails to stem browser slide
10:49 PM | 0 komentar
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