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Hackers Take Down Another Media Target

On Wednesday, hackers claiming to be affiliated with the Syrian Electronic Army may have penetrated the website of the International Business Times, an online business-news publication.

“It does indeed appear that we have been hacked by the Syrian Electronic Army,” said IB Times editor-in-chief Peter Goodman in an email. “Our IT people are evaluating. We are taking appropriate security measures.”

The hackers, who support the regime of Syrian president Bashar Assad, appear to have deleted a story about Syria’s shrinking army. While it still appears in Google News, the link to the article returns a 404 “page not found” error on the IB Times website. 

Google News still shows the deleted story.

If the goal was to suppress the article, the hackers weren’t completely successful: A version of the article was published with a new URL.

The International Business Times is owned by New York-based IBT Media, which also publishes Newsweek.

Another article with the headline “Hacked by the Syrian Electronic Army” now appears on the website. The article contains a screenshot which appears to be the site’s content-management system. Goodman’s username appears in the screenshot, along with a notification which indicates the article about Syria’s army was successfully deleted.

In the article, hackers threatened to delete the entire IB Times website.

The IB Times Twitter account acknowledged the incident in a tweet:

Spear-Phishing The Media

In an email to staff earlier Wednesday, IB Times managing editor Mark Bonner warned staff not to open any emails that appeared to come from IBT Media cofounder and chief content officer Johnathan Davis. Those emails included a link to a suspicious website, according to a source familiar with the incident.

Goodman said it was “unclear at this point, but possible” that his account had been penetrated. An attack like this targeting high-level individuals to obtain their login credentials is known as “spear phishing.”

Later on Wednesday, Bonner told staffers that the IB Times content-management system was down and that writers should submit articles to editors via Google Docs. A source confirmed that the screenshot of the IB Times content-management system posted in the “Hacked” article appeared to be authentic.

The IB Times hack comes on the heels of the large-scale hack of Sony Pictures, apparently conducted by hackers who objected to the studio’s release of The Interview, a movie about the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. Sony has cancelled the movie’s release amid threats of terrorist attacks on theaters which screen it.

In 2009, Gawker Media, the publisher of Gizmodo, Jezebel, and other websites, experienced a distributed denial-of-service attack aimed at rendering its sites inaccessible. And for four months beginning in late 2012, hackers in China attacked the computer systems of the New York Times, attempting to gain access to email and files

Together, these incidents suggest we’re entering an ugly world where people who object to a movie or a news article on political grounds won’t just leave nasty comments or tweet harsh criticisms. They’ll seek to eliminate their targets’ ability to publish.

Photo by Shutterstock; screenshots via IB Times

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SEOs Required To Take Polygraph Lie Detector Tests – Search Engine Roundtable

SEOs Required To Take Polygraph Lie Detector Tests
Search Engine Roundtable
polygraph test Jenny Mugridge posted at Cre8asite Forums saying that her former employer is now requiring all new and existing SEOs in the company to take polygraph tests. She wrote, "my old SEO company has recently announced that they are doing …

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North Korea Praises But Won’t Take Credit For Sony Hack

Following a major malware attack on Sony Entertainment Pictures, some security experts suspected North Korean involvement. Now the state has officially denied any involvement, although it said its supporters might have conducted the attack on their own.

See also: FBI Warns Of Malicious Software Following Sony Attack

On Sunday, the North Korean government issued a statement through the official Korean Central News Agency in which it spoke approvingly of the hack but insisted the state didn’t instigate it. The official statement follows a previous denial issued last Wednesday by an anonymous North Korean diplomat in New York.

“The hacking into the Sony Pictures might be a righteous deed of the supporters and sympathizers with the DPRK [North Korea] in response to its appeal,” the official statement reads.

Many security experts have suspected North Korean involvement in the hack. Among other breaches, the attack led to the public leak of Sony’s unreleased film The Interview, a comedy satirizing North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un that the state has denounced as “terrorism.” Korean-language malware was also used in the attack. 

The North Korean statement instead suggests the hack was a show of support for North Korea by the hacker group “Guardians of Peace,” which claimed responsibility for the attack. Joseph DeTrani, a former U.S. envoy to North Korea, told Reuters said North Korea has historically been truthful in claiming or declaiming responsibility for various attacks, although he added that the regime could have changed its policy.

See also: The Real Lesson From Recent Cyberattacks—Let’s Break Up The NSA

“The U.S. should also know that there are a great number of supporters and sympathizers with the DPRK [North Korea] all over the world as well as the ‘champions of peace’ who attacked the Sony Pictures,” the North Korean statement continued.

The unprecedented hack has led to leaks of four unreleased Sony films and salary information of many employees and actors. The attackers aren’t done yet, and issued a new threat toward Sony employees and their families over the weekend, Recode reports

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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3 Steps You Should Take to Launch a Successful SEO Campaign – Business 2 Community

3 Steps You Should Take to Launch a Successful SEO Campaign
Business 2 Community
According to Search Engine Watch, websites that are listed on the first page of Google search results receive approximately 92% of total search traffic. To increase your search ranking and gain more organic traffic, launch a SEO campaign by taking the …

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How Starbucks Could Take Wireless Charging Mainstream

Offering a shot of one-stop convenience, Starbucks began its roll-out of free Powermat wireless charging last week. The Seattle, Wash.–based coffee purveyor equipped roughly 200 stores in San Francisco with the technology, ahead of a nationwide launch next year.

I stopped by a location in Levi Plaza to check out the system and see if it lives up to the promise. I figured it would either be a cool new convenience or a lame, over-hyped feature. 

See also: How To Boost Your Phone’s Battery Life

Sitting in the cafe, with my phone resting on the table that piped juice to it, the answer was clear. Starbucks should consider extra security; Frapuccino-fueled patrons are destined to jockey for a seat at one of these tables. After years of trying, wireless charging could finally be on the verge of going mainstream in a big, caffeinated way. 

Getting Juiced Up At Starbucks

Wireless charging seems like a misnomer. People who have bought Powermat and similar products know that the main charging mat connects to a wall outlet with a cable. But it’s still considered “wireless” because phones, handheld gaming machines and other devices can power up just by sitting on top of it.

At Starbucks, the mats (or “Powermat Spots”) are built into some of the tables and countertops. Despite reports to the contrary, Daniel Schreiber, president of Powermat Technologies, claims the charging speed rivals cabled connections. I gave it a try, and found the charging action to be pretty speedy. 

 The downside is that few phones support Powermat charging out of the box. Some Lumia phones have it built in, and compatible backplates, phone cases, batteries and small Power Ring attachments are available under the joint Duracell-Powermat brand. The system offers some backward compatibility—if you have one, even an older unit, you’ll be able to charge your device on Starbucks’ tables. 

If not, you can still use the Starbucks charging surfaces. The store loans out Power Rings for free on the spot and sells them there too for about $10, if you’d like to own one. Duracell-Powermat also sells them online

“You’ve got to have a complete system,” said Matthew Guiste, Starbucks’ vice president of in-store digital. “No one has taken the plunge, [but] we want to start giving manufacturers a reason to put it in their phones.” The retailer has a habit of pushing technologies into the mainstream. Back in 2001, the business proselytized Wi-Fi, being among the first to offer it for free.

The chain’s knack for popularizing tech was the main reason Powermat partnered with it. “Wi-Fi was not a known commodity then,” said Schreiber. “They’re in a place to educate consumers.” 

Daniel Schreiber, president of Powermat Technologies, at Starbucks wireless charging roll-out

Education is needed. Wireless charging has been around for quite a while, but despite that, it still hasn’t managed to gain traction with consumers yet. 

Why Isn’t Wireless Charging A Thing Yet?

Even though the electromagnetic technology behind wireless charging goes back a century, people still mess with cables and power adapters—now more than ever. 

See also: If The Future’s Battery-Powered, We’re Screwed

Poor battery life forces the hassle. Today, huge phones with larger batteries and power-saving tactics, like Android’s Project Volta, try to prolong the longevity of our devices, but these are workarounds for batteries that just can’t keep pace with advancements in mobile technology. 

Processing power, new features and our demanding requirements for connectivity make us “more dependent on our devices,” said Schreiber. “[But] it’s reached a crisis point where the industry is bringing us new uses that we routinely disable to give us more battery life.” The issue becomes worse with wearables, as tiny gadgets leave little space for big power cells.

<a href=”″>Some reports</a> say the system won’t work with iPhones. Don’t believe everything you read.&nbsp;

Wireless charging’s convenience can help ease the pain of short battery life. Unfortunately, like the old video rivalry between VHS and BetaMax, warring factions within the industry prevent a universal standard from paving the way for wider adoption.

Earlier this year, two of the leading power consortiums—Powermat’s Power Matters Alliance (PMA) and the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP)—made some headway by joining forces. Reinier H.M. van der Lee, director of product marketing at Broadcom, a key member of A4WP, told me then that it would lead to “dual-mode receivers,” or gadgets that support both PMA’s open standard and A4WP’s Rezence standard. 

But the deal left out a third, the Wireless Power Consortium’s Qi—currently the most popular wireless charging option available in mobile devices. Devices like Samsung’s Galaxy, Motorola’s Droid and some Lumia phones offer built-in support. 

All three standards essentially rely on the same technology. Coils (in mats) create electromagnetic fields that transmit electricity when receivers (in gadgets and accessories) sit on top. But their approaches vary, and none work directly with either of the others. 

Rezence devices don’t exist as consumer products yet, but even if they did, single-mode products wouldn’t work on Starbucks’ Powermat charging tables. (They’d have to be dual-mode.) Qi gadgets, the most prevalent so far, won’t directly work either. 

To cut through the complications, Starbucks and Powermat made a smart move: Those free Power Ring loaners come in a choice of micro-USB or Apple’s lightning port. This cross-compatibility should cover most smartphones, and their in-store availability means people won’t have to plan ahead. 

This simple decision gives every customer some wireless charging powers. It just so happens to spread the gospel of Powermat to a massive audience as well.  

Powermat’s Power Play

After starting out with test roll-outs in select stores in Boston and San Jose, Starbucks is ready to go all in with PMA now. Guiste calls Powermat “the perfect partner,” thanks to its focus on commercial installations and managed support.

“What we got is not just a standard,” he said. “We got launch partners and a managed network that can tell us what’s going on, down to the location and the [specific] spot at that location.”

What Powermat got is a direct line to the vast market of coffee drinkers across the country. (Starbucks serves more than 5 million customers per day.) While obviously beneficial to Powermat, the strategy could also raise the profile of wireless charging overall, giving the whole industry a boost. 

It may even compel the various camps to work together on a universal standard. If so, it couldn’t come too soon. The already complex landscape of wireless charging could get even more complicated before long. 

As cable-free power-ups work to establish themselves in the mainstream, fringe candidates have been trying to push it in new directions. Startups like Humavox and Ossia want to ditch the mat entirely, using radio frequency technology to transform charging into Wi-Fi-like affairs.

It’s All Up In The Air

Humavox CEO Omri Lachman explained the design strategy behind his Eterna charging platform to me earlier this year: Users don’t use mats, he said. Instead, they toss their devices in a box. 

Those devices can vary, not just in variety, but size. With more than a little showmanship, he told me his company “didn’t start off with these devices,” holding up a smartphone. “We started with these,” he said, pointing to a small in-ear canal hearing aid. 

The components were designed to fit inside one of the smallest consumer devices imaginable, so it’s not tough to see those tiny receivers embedded inside the compact casings of wearable gadgets, one of Humavox’s target areas. 

Another startup, Ossia, believes charging should work entirely over the air.  

Though a bit slower than traditional charging, Ossia’s Cota technology can supposedly transmit power safely over a distance. It has been tested at 16 feet, and the company claims it can work up to 30 feet. 

Ossia has been making motions toward the smart home industry, hoping to power battery-operated sensors and other gizmos. In the controlled setting of a retail environment, Cota devices could theoretically start charging your devices the moment you walk in. But that scenario will probably take a lot of convincing to appease public concerns over safety. 

If these emerging companies succeed, or the leading troika of wireless charging proponents get their act together, they could banish the drudgery of plugging in cables and power adapters once and for all. 

We’re not there yet. But Starbucks and Powermat took a big step toward that future. And until it gets here, at least now we can sip our lattes and charge on a table while we wait. 

Starbucks coffee photo (cropped) courtesy of Starbucks; Ossia photo courtesy of Ossia; all others by Adriana Lee for ReadWrite

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Please Take Our Search Engine Land Conference Survey!

Search Engine Land produces conferences, and we’re always looking to improve them. To help, we’re running a survey asking you, our readers, to give us some feedback on what you’d like to see as part of our conferences. Please help! Below is our survey, which should take only a few…

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5urprise’s Seo Kang Jun, Gong Myung, and Yoo Il take a bubble bath together … – allkpop

5urprise's Seo Kang Jun, Gong Myung, and Yoo Il take a bubble bath together
Members Seo Kang Jun, Gong Myung, and Yoo Il of the upcoming acting-dol group, 5urprise, recently embarked on a trip to Jeju Island for a flirty autumn photoshoot with 'High Cut'! Sure to make girls squeal, the photoshoot revealed chic and charismatic …

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Bing: It’s Unlikely That We’ll Take Search Share Away From Google

Microsoft’s Director of Search admitted this week that Bing isn’t likely to put a significant dent in Google’s search market share. Stefan Weitz appeared Tuesday at the Web Summit conference in Ireland, where he told attendees that Bing instead wants to focus on making its search…

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Travel & Hospitality In The Holiday SERPS: How To Take Advantage Of Trends [Data]

Contributor Jim Yu explores data on seasonal trends in the travel and hospitality verticals that should inform marketers’ organic search strategies.

The post Travel & Hospitality In The Holiday SERPS: How To Take Advantage Of Trends [Data] appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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What It Will Take For You To Get Bitcoin At The Bank

Maybe someday you’ll be able to go up to your bank teller and withdraw or deposit your money in bitcoins. But today, Bitcoin banking is still far away.

The reasons have to do with risk and regulations—two topics that don’t have much to do with your day-to-day finances, but that mean a lot to the banks that handle them.

Enthusiasts of Bitcoin, an all-digital currency, laud it for its cryptographic security and pseudonymous transfers which make it like cash. But in the end, it’s another currency, like euros or pounds. If you want to do business in dollars, you’ll have to convert it to dollars. And where do you get your dollars in cash today? Probably a bank.

While early adopters may be content to roll their own encryption and figure out how to store bitcoins securely, most consumers will probably want to leave the safekeeping to someone they trust with other forms of money.

Bitcoin And Banks

It’s not that banks have a bad relationship with Bitcoin. It’s that most banks don’t have much of a relationship with Bitcoin at all. 

Eli Dorado, director of the Technology Policy Project at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, said that even though tech-savvy people have known about Bitcoin for years now, banks still view the currency as an unknown—and hence a liability.

Before consumers can withdraw or deposit bitcoins with a bank teller, banks will have to get used to dealing with Bitcoin-related businesses. And they’re largely not there yet.

“The real problem in Bitcoin is businesses getting banking at all,” Dorado said. “Banks are afraid that Bitcoin businesses will fall into the category of being a high-risk activity, the way firearm sales and porn stars’ bank accounts are sometimes viewed.”

In the Bitcoin space, three clear types of business are emerging.

There are Bitcoin exchanges, which work like foreign-currency trading desks, letting people swap bitcoins for dollars, yen, euros, and other currencies. Mt. Gox was once the largest—and its failure did little to build confidence in the business

See also: Bitcoin Exchange Mt. Gox Files For Bankruptcy Protection

Then there are Bitcoin wallets, which hold bitcoins for consumers and businesses, and let them transfer or spend their bitcoins.

Then there are Bitcoin payment processors, which help merchants accept bitcoins in exchange for goods or services, much like credit-card processors do. Some convert bitcoins to dollars or other local currencies immediately, while others let merchants keep the bitcoins if they choose.

Some Bitcoin businesses combine multiple functions: For example, Coinbase provides both a wallet for consumers and payment processing for retailers.

These are all lines of businesses that banks already pursue in local currencies—so it would be logical for them to enter the Bitcoin arena, too. So far, they haven’t.

Bitpay is one of the larger payment processors. Its customers include retailers like NewEgg and Shopify.

“We’re much like any merchant processor in the credit-card space,” said Bitpay CFO Bryan Krohn. “We take payments, convert them to local currency, and put them in the merchant’s bank account.”

Bitpay’s Krohn says the company spends a lot of time and money to talk to state and federal policymakers so they know what Bitpay is, what it does, and how it complies with all known Bitcoin regulations.

“With any new technology, there are going to always be frowned-upon uses,” Krohn said. “When the Internet first came out, it was used for a lot of unsavory stuff. Some banks won’t even risk working with Bitcoin businesses, not because they lack the technical ability, but because they have concerns about how it’s used and how it’s regulated.”

Bitpay is working with a bank to send deposits to customers’ bank accounts. But  Krohn wouldn’t name it, citing the “importance of that relationship.”

That’s indicative of the caution banks are taking with respect to Bitcoin.

Making Friends With Bitcoin Businesses

One bank that’s taken a less conservative stance is Silicon Valley Bank, which has long made a business of providing banking services to startups other banks see as high-risk. One current client is Coinbase, the Bitcoin wallet and payment processor.

“On the business-to-business side, we are looking at everything on a case-by-case basis and partnering with our regulators to ensure they have as much information as is available to make informed decisions,” a spokesperson told ReadWrite.

Even so, the role Silicon Valley Bank is taking with Coinbase appears to be performing dollar-denominated money transfers. It’s not stashing bitcoins in a digital vault. SVB may well be the most Bitcoin-friendly bank in the country, but it still doesn’t have enough clarity on regulations to offer bitcoin-denominated accounts to customers.

In Europe, Sofort, a payments service which works with about 400 banks in the region,  announced it would allow bitcoin purchases through But after just a few weeks, 247Exchange announced that the service was “unavailable.”

Expect these fits and starts for a while. The most progress has occurred in New York, where the New York Department of Financial Services has proposed a Bitcoin license whose regulations would be less burdensome than those for a state-chartered bank. But that would help new Bitcoin businesses more than it would banks.

“I don’t think [banks] are a high priority with lawmakers,” said Dorado. “The much higher priority is creating regulatory certainty for companies that want to enter the market and don’t want to be regulated as banks.”

That may help entrepreneurs and investors looking to make big bucks off of Bitcoin. But for those of us who just want to make bitcoins part of our everyday spending, that’s not good news.

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