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Archive for the ‘Business Stories’ Category

SAN FRANCISCO — You might think your password protects the confidential information stored on Web sites. But as Twitter executives discovered, that is a dangerous assumption.
The recent hacking of a Twitter employee’s personal e-mail account is raising questions about the security of storing personal information and business data on the Internet.

The Web was abuzz Wednesday after it was revealed that a hacker had exposed corporate information about Twitter after breaking into an employee’s e-mail account. The breach raised red flags for individuals as well as businesses about the passwords used to secure information they store on the Web.
hat account housed some of Twitter’s private financial documents and notes, according to Twitter’s official blog.

Some of those documents circulated the blogosphere on Wednesday, and TechCrunch, a technology blog, published a Twitter financial forecast. The hacker sent 310 documents to the tech site, according to a post by Michael Arrington, TechCrunch’s founder and co-editor.

he attack on Twitter highlights the problem. For its internal documents, the company uses the business version of Google Apps, a service that Google offers to individuals free. Google Apps provides e-mail, word processing, spreadsheets and calendars over the Web.

The content is stored on Google’s servers, which can save time and money and enable employees to work together on documents at the same time. But it also means that the security is only as good as the password. A hacker who breaks into one person’s account can access information shared by friends, family members or colleagues, which is what happened at Twitter.

The Twitter breach occurred about a month ago, Twitter said. A hacker calling himself Hacker Croll broke into an administrative employee’s e-mail account and gained access to the employee’s Google Apps account, where Twitter shares spreadsheets and documents with business ideas and financial details, said Biz Stone, a Twitter co-founder.

The hacker then sent documents about company plans and finances, confidential contracts, and job applicants to two tech news blogs, TechCrunch, in Silicon Valley, and Korben, in France. There was also personal information about Twitter employees including credit card numbers.

The hacker also broke into the e-mail account of the wife of Evan Williams, Twitter’s chief executive, and from there accessed several of Mr. Williams’ personal Internet accounts, including those at Amazon and PayPal, Mr. Stone said.

TechCrunch revealed documents showing that Twitter, a private company that so far has no revenue, projected that it will reach a billion users and $1.54 billion in revenue by 2013. Michael Arrington, TechCrunch’s founder, said in an interview that the hacker had also sent him detailed strategy documents about potential business models, the competitive threat from Facebook and when the company might be acquired.

Some analysts say the breach highlights how dangerous it can be for people and companies to store confidential documents on Web servers, or “in the cloud.”

But Mr. Stone said that the attack “isn’t about any flaw in Web apps,” but rather about a bigger issue that affects individuals and businesses alike. “It speaks to the importance of following good personal security guidelines such as choosing strong passwords,” he said.

Instead of circumventing security measures, it appears that the Twitter hacker managed to correctly answer the personal questions that Gmail asks of users to reset the password.

“A lot of the Twitter users are pretty much living their lives in public,” said Chris King, director of product marketing at Palo Alto Networks, which creates firewalls. “If you broadcast all your details about what your dog’s name is and what your hometown is, it’s not that hard to figure out a password.”

Security experts advise people to use unique, complex passwords for each Web service they use and include a mix of numbers and letters. Free password management programs like KeePass and 1Password can help people juggle passwords for numerous sites.

Andrew Storms, director of security operations for nCircle, a network security company, suggested choosing false answers to the security questions like “What was your first phone number?” or making up obscure questions instead of using the default questions that sites provide. (Of course, that presents a new problem of remembering the false information.)

For businesses, Google allows company administrators to set up rules for password strength and add additional authentication tools like unique codes.

The Twitter hacker claims to have wanted to teach people to be more careful. In a message to Korben, the hacker wrote that his attack could make Internet users “conscious that no one is protected on the Net.”
Shaila Smith

Indian passengers flying Air France allege racial bias

Mumbai, INDIA:Over 50 Indian passengers flying Air France had a “harrowing” time at Paris airport after their aircraft developed a technical problem and complained on Tuesday on reaching here that they were victims of “racial” profiling.

The passengers, who spent 28 hours in Paris, said they were confined to a lounge at the airport there from 10 pm on Sunday till 7 am the next morning and given “hardly any food and water”.

The passengers, on their way to Mumbai from the US via Paris, said while the other Nationals were taken to hotels shortly after their plane returned to the Paris airport due to apparent technical problem following a four-hour flight, Indians were taken to the lounge and given just a bottle of water and a sandwich.

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Giving details of their “harrowing” time, one of the travellers, Vineeta Sengupta said, “No foreigner would have been treated like the way Indians were treated. People were lying down on the floor over there (at a place at the airport) where immigration takes place”.

Accusing Air France of “racial” profiling, a girl passenger said that the officials there even had threatened that they would be handed over to the police if they did not stop protesting.

Sengupta said the 53 to 54 Indian passengers were later “huddled out” of the airport on a “group visa”, which the authorities could have provided much earlier, and taken to a hotel.

No reason has officially been given for the delay.

Web giant Google rolls out first ad campaign on US networks to promote web browser Chrome

Google has launched its first television advertising campaign across a range of US networks.

The company’s TV adverts are an attempt to draw the public’s attention to Chrome, the web browser that it launched last year in an attempt to compete with Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.

The company has famously avoided traditional marketing in the past – indeed, its website boasts that it has become “one of the world’s best known brands almost entirely through word of mouth”.

But Google is desperate to raise the profile of Chrome, which launched to great fanfare last September but has so far failed to make major inroads on its competitors.

According to statistics from Net Applications, Internet Explorer continues to win the browser wars with a market share of 66%. In second place is Mozilla’s Firefox, which is used by 22% of web users, while Apple’s Safari program comes third with 8%.

Chrome, meanwhile, is the choice of just 1.4% of internet users.

It remains to be seen how mainstream audiences will respond to the clip, however, which has no voiceover, does not mention the fact that it is advertising a web browser and only displays the Google logo at the very end.

The campaign is also an attempt to highlight the effectiveness of the company’s TV Ads system, which lets Google act as a broker to sell advertising time on television networks. Most advertisers and TV broadcasters consider the scheme to be an interesting but niche experiment, after striking just a handful of high-profile deals since it first began two years ago. Google is hoping that the Chrome campaign can help push the concept of using TV Ads into the minds of media executives.

The 30-second spot shows a stop-motion animation in which a tray of children’s play bricks is rearranged to resemble a browser window – an image intended to represent the simplicity and ease of using Chrome.

In a statement on the official Google blog, the company said that the video was made by a team from Google Japan as a YouTube clip, but had proved so successful that it had decided to take it on to traditional television.

“After releasing this video on the web, we got lots of positive feedback and thoughtful comments,” said the company. “We designed a Google TV Ads campaign which we hope will raise awareness of our browser … we’re excited to see how this test goes and what impact television might have on creating more awareness of Google Chrome.”

Adolf Hitler is seen as a management guru by business students who are lapping up the Nazi dictator’s autobiography ‘Mein Kampf’ for inspiration, a news report revealed.

adolf_hitler

The Nazi leader’s autobiography is flying off the shelves at Indian book stores as some students regard the former dictator as a business strategy role model, the Daily Telegraph reported.

Booksellers told the British daily that while it is looked upon in most countries as a ‘Nazi Bible’, in India it is considered a management guide in the mould of Spencer Johnson’s “Who Moved My Cheese”.

amein-kampf
Sales of the book over the last six months topped 10,000 in the Indian capital alone, according to leading stores, who said it appeared to be becoming more popular with every year, the report said.

According to some book sellers, the surge in sales was from students who see it as a self-improvement and management strategy guide for aspiring business leaders, and who were happy to cite it as an inspiration.

adolfhitler
“Students are increasingly coming in asking for it and we’re happy to sell it to them,” said Sohin Lakhani, owner of Mumbai-based Embassy books who reprints Mein Kampf every quarter and shrugs off any moral issues in publishing the book.

adolf-hitler

“They see it as a kind of success story where one man can have a vision, work out a plan on how to implement it and then successfully complete it,” Lakhani was quoted as saying in the report.

British charity fundraiser Ben Southall won the “best job in the world” on Wednesday – caretaker of an Australia tropical island – after an innovative marketing campaign that highlighted the power of social media.

ben-southh1
Southall, 34, was picked from 16 final contestants in a highly publicised contest by Tourism Queensland which attracted 34,684 video entries from almost 200 countries and surpassed all expectations in promoting tourism in the Australian state.

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The job description? Explore the islands of the Great Barrier Reef for six months and report back to Tourism Queensland and the world via blogs, a photo diary, video updates and interviews.

best-job

Also, if you feel like it, feed the fish, collect the mail and clean the pool – and collect a wage of A$150,000 ($110,000)

While the job itself attracted global attention so did the campaign by the government body Tourism Queensland as it highlighted how companies can tap the power of online social media such as YouTube and Facebook, for marketing.

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“This is probably the first time that a campaign has achieved this sort of reach with so little advertising spend other than a few strategically place job ads around the world,” said Australian marketing analyst Tim Burrowes, editor of media and marketing website Mumbrella.

“This has all been about the power of people passing things on, largely through YouTube. The main lesson to be learned here is that if you have an original, exciting idea that gets people talking you don’t need so spend huge on advertising.”

The “Best Job in the World” campaign began in January with Tourism Queensland launching a tourism advertising campaign centered around the lure of “the best job in the world.”

Within days the campaign went viral as applicants from all over the world sent in 60-second video applications and news of the contest spread progressive on social networking sites such as Facebook and the video sharing site YouTube.

Large-scale U.S. layoffs rose again in March & early April 09, according to Labor Department data on Thursday, as the economy struggles with what many expect will be the country’s worst post-World War II recession. With the number of people filing for unemployment in March surpassing that from the prior month, and the total number of people doing so the highest on record.

layoff

About 640,000 people filed for unemployment for the first time in March, up from about 613,000 in February. Meanwhile, some 6.14 million people are on the jobless benefits rolls, setting a record for the 12th straight week.

ast month witnessed 2,933 more mass layoffs, defined as affecting 50 or more workers, than February. This brought the total number of people who lost their jobs in this manner to 299,388, the highest on a record that dates back to 1995.

The U.S. job market has been under severe strain as a crisis first evident in housing spread to the rest of the economy, severely curtailing corporate profits and consumer spending.

Ongoing pain was evident across sectors, with the Labor Department also reporting another record for blanket layoffs within manufacturing.

Mass layoffs now total 31,414 since the start of the recession in December 2007, resulting in the loss of more than 3.2 million jobs. The monthly mass layoff numbers are compiled from establishments with at least 50 initial claims for unemployment insurance filed against them during a five-week period.

Over the past year, the deterioration in initial claims, continuing claims, and the insured jobless rate has been just as bad as they were during the 1981-1982 recession, which has been the most severe in the post-World War II period,” said Steven Wood, chief economist at Insight Economics.

The United States has lost 5.1 million jobs since the start of 2008. Earlier this month, the Labor Department reported that the nation’s unemployment rate is 8.5 percent, the highest in a quarter-century.

For those in Jobs

layff

Over the past year, though, the new term is ‘downsizing’ — shrinking the employee base so that employee costs match slower business growth. This fiscal, as the recession in the markets start biting, their tolerance for non-performers is down to zero.So those in jobs are not having any margin of doing any honest mistake.


As some of you may be aware of our US Prez has announced his stoopid statement that “the US economy is in a slowdown but not headed into a recession”. I thought, the US Prez will announce his stoopid stimulus package part II, so I’ll just wait until Tuesday to see how the markets react, and then I’ll make an informed decision. But eventually, it didn’t turned up the way it has to be. He went on with his remarkable speech which seems to be just a pious phraseology and nothing else.

With the deepening recession in the housing market, facing an all time high 17% fall in residential property investment, cancelled out any positive effects from the fall in energy prices. Consumer spending is still the mainspring of US growth and remained quite strong (3.1% annualized rate). But working families are more dependent than ever on debt.

Stock market with almost a panic attack last Friday has stole most my retirement money and I am so scared now that I have started selling all my mutual funds as well. Even though I’m not retiring anytime soon, I don’t have the stomach to watch my mutual funds turn the clock back on what, till date, have been pretty impressive gains.


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