Apple Developer Website Online Again Following Cyberattack

Apple’s developer website was back online Friday, more than a week after it was targeted by a hacker who reportedly attempted to steal personal information, various media outlets have reported.

According to Bloomberg’s Jordan Robertson, the website used by engineers who write Mac and iOS device applications was said to be active as of 5pm Pacific time on July 26. The attack had forced it offline for a total of eight days.

“Developers use the site for software downloads, documentation and engineering information,” Robertson said. “The maker of iPhones and iPads said this week that it’s ‘completely overhauling’ its developer systems to prevent a security threat from happening again. While some of the website’s information was encrypted, Applesaid it hadn’t been able to rule out whether names, mailing addresses or e-mail addresses may have been accessed.”

The website targeted by the cyberattack is used by the Cupertino, California-based tech giant to communicate with its community of nearly six million software developers, according to Reuters reporter Aman Shah. A UK-based Turkish researcher named Ibrahim Balic has claimed responsibility for the attack, which he says was not malicious in nature, but not everyone buys his story.

“Balic, who describes himself as a security consultant, claimed on Sunday that he had discovered a number of weaknesses in the site at developer.apple.com which allowed him to grab email addresses of registered developers,” Guardian reporter Charles Arthur explained. “In all, Balic said he had been able to grab the details of 100,000 people registered on the site, and that he included 73 of them in a bug report to Apple.

“He claimed that he exploited a cross-site scripting (XSS) bug in the site,” he added. “However XSS attacks generally require the attacker – which in this case would be Balic – to ‘infect’ a page with a malicious piece of Javascript or HTML which would then be used to extract data from a visiting user. If Balic’s claim is correct, he seems to have used the XSS exploits against his own system.”

Arthur said they attempted to contact 29 people whose emails were allegedly extracted by Balic during the hacking, but seven of those emails bounced and none of the remaining 22 responded to requests to state whether or not they are registered Apple developers. Furthermore, none of the names or email addresses could be located online, which the Guardian notes would be unusual for active software developers.

“Many of the names and email addresses either don’t look like they would belong to Apple developers, or appear to have left no footprints anywhere else on the net,” added independent security consultant Graham Cluley. In addition, in reference to ten emails featured in a YouTube video created by the alleged hacker, Cluley said, “It’s almost as though these are long-discarded ghost email addresses from years ago or have been used by Balic in his video for reasons best known to himself.”

In related news, a new phishing scam involving Apple has arisen on the heels of the developer website hacking,according to CNET’s Charlie Osborne. Attempting to capitalize on security concerns raised by the cyberattack, the new phishing scam warns users to click on a link in order to change their passwords.

While the email is short, it may appear legitimate to some users, Osborne said. However, it includes a grammar mistake in the title, fails to capitalize Apple on several locations and includes a link that clearly does not lead to a domain registered or owned by the tech giant.

“Users have taken to Twitter to warn others of the phishing attacks, and security firm Kaspersky Lab has found that Apple-related phishing scams have skyrocketed in the last six months, with scammers focused on stealing login credentials and financial data,” the CNET writer added.

Facebook Earnings Review: What Wall Street Thinks

NEW YORK (TheStreet) — Facebook’s (FB_) second-quarter earnings focused on mobile revenue. Shares were soaring in premarket trading Thursday as Wall Street raised price targets and upgraded shares.

 The Menlo Park, Calif.-based social networker earned 19 cents a share on $1.813 billion in revenue for the quarter, as mobile advertising revenue accounted for 41% of advertising revenue this quarter. Total advertising revenue was $1.6 billion, 88% of total revenue, and up 61% year over year.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters were expecting Facebook to earn 14 cents a share on $1.62 billion in revenue for the quarter.

The company ended the quarter with 1.15 billion monthly active users (MAUs), up 21% year over year. There was a 51% annual increase in mobile MAUs, which drove the strength in mobile revenue. Daily active users (DAUs) were 699 million, up 27% annually.

Following the earnings, many analysts were bullish, with several upgrading shares and raising price targets. Here’s what some analysts on Wall Street had to say:

JPMorgan analyst Doug Anmuth (Overweight, $44 PT)

“Facebook delivered its strongest quarter yet as a public company–results that we think could be thesis-changing for many–and we would continue to buy Facebook shares even after the ~17% move up in the after-market. Our revenue and nonGAAP EPS estimates increase 12% and 38% for 2013, and 22% and 46% for 2014.”

Topeka Capital Markets analyst Victor Anthony (Buy, $40 PT)

“Facebook needed to, and delivered, a blowout quarter. What is clear from the results is advertisers have validated Facebook as an advertising platform. For full year 2013, our revenue and Adj. EPS increases to $7.196B and $0.71, resp, from $6.733B and $0.63. We still see more upside for the stock and recommend purchase. There are several well defined catalysts over the next two years that should lead to further share price appreciation, including: 1) monetizing Instagram, which, per CEO Zuckerberg, will generate “a lot of profits”, 2) launch of auto-play video ads, 3) monetizing Graph Search, 4) a bigger push into e-commerce, and 5) the potential for S&P 500 inclusion. Further, only 1mm or 6% of FB’s 18mm potential advertisers are buying ads, implying a huge runway for advertiser uptake exists.”

Sterne Agee analyst Arvind Bhatia (Buy, $37 PT)

“We are incrementally bullish on FB’s prospects following 2Q results and believe the stock should be a core holding in Internet portfolios. 2Q’s highlight was Mobile advertising (+76% q/q versus consensus +20%). Overall revenue (53% y/y) and EBITDA (+57% y/y) accelerated from 1Q’s 38%/35% revenue/EBITDA growth. Better than expected user engagement, strong monetization and good cost control helped FB outperform even the most bullish expectations on the Street. Reiterating Buy.”

Oppenheimer analyst Jason Helfstein (Outperform, $36 PT)

“Following materially better than expected 2Q results, we are increasing our estimates and price target, and are reiterating our Outperform rating. 2Q upside was driven by higher advertiser demand for newsfeed, both on volume and price, and since mobile Newsfeed pricing is similar to desktop and advertisers are largely indifferent between mobile and desktop, revenues are tracking the consumer shift to smartphones. We believe this dynamic is an important differentiator vs. other ad-supported internet companies, that are being hurt by the mobile mix shift. As such, we are increasing ’13E and ’14E revenue by 3% and 5%, and non-GAAP EPS by 7% and 9%, respectively. Raising target to $36 from $32.”

Shares of Facebook were soaring following earnings, tacking on 30.48% to $34.59 in premarket trading.

Google’s Chromecast could throw your mobile and browser games onto your TV

Google was announced The Chromecast, a small WiFi-enabled HDMI dongle that may well prove big news for bringing mobile and browser games to your living room.

The Chromecast plugs into your television’s HDMI slot, and allows you to send content from Android and iOS devices to the TV screen via Wi-Fi, while also supporting Chromebooks, and the Chrome web browser for Mac and Windows.

The device that is connected to the Chromecast then controls everything you see on the TV. The one caveat is that mobile apps need to integrate the Googlecast SDK to be able to send content across (apps in a Chrome web browser will work via “Chrome tab projection.”)

The device costs $35, and is already available to purchase directly from the Google Play Store. Notably, the possibility of projecting mobile and browser games via the device is not mentioned on the official website, which focuses on the video and music capabilities of the device.

As such, there’s no word as-of-yet regarding whether games will be fully supported, or whether input lag will cause issues for this particular line of fire.

Facebook speeds PHP by crafting a PHP virtual machine

Social networking giant Facebook has taken another step at making the PHP Web programming language run more quickly. The company has developed a PHP Virtual Machine that it says can execute the language as much as nine times as quickly as running PHP natively on large systems.

“Our goal is to make PHP run really, really quickly,” said Joel Pobar, a Facebook engineering manager. Facebook has been using the virtual machine, called the HipHop Virtual Machine (HHVM), across all of its servers since earlier this year.

Pobar discussed the virtual machine at the O’Reilly Open Source Conference (OSCON) being held this week in Portland, Oregon.

Shares its development tools

HHVM is not Facebook’s first foray into customizing PHP for faster use. PHP is aninterpreted language, meaning that the source code is executed by the processor directly. Generally speaking, programs written in interpreted languages such as PHP tend not to run as quickly as languages, such as C or C++, that have been compiled beforehand into machine language byte code. Facebook has remained loyal to PHP because it is widely understood by many of the Web programmers who work for the company.

To keep up with the insatiable user demand, however, Facebook originally devised a compiler, called HipHop, that would translate PHP code into C++, so it then it could be compiled ahead of time for faster performance.

While Facebook enjoyed considerable performance gains of this first version of HipHop for several years, it sought other ways to speed the delivery of the dynamically created Web pages to its billion or so users. “Our performance strategy for that was going to tap out,” Pobar admitted.

HHVM is the next step for Facebook. Under development for about three years, HHVM actually works on the same principle as the Java Virtual Machine (JVM). HHVM has a just-in-time (JIT) compiler that converts the human readable source code into machine-readable byte code when it is needed. (The previous HipHop, renamed HPHPc, has now been retired within Facebook.)

This JIT approach allows the virtual machine to “make smarter decisions at runtime,” Pobar said. For instance, if a call is made to the MySQL database to read a row of data, the HHVM can, on the fly, figure out what type of data it is, such as an integer or a string. It then can generate or call code on the fly that would be best suited for handling this particular type of data.

With the old HipHop, “the best it can do is analyze the entire Facebook codebase, reason about it and then specialize code based on its reasoning. But it can’t get all of the reasoning right. There are parts of the code base that you can not simply infer about or reason about,” Pobar said.

Virtual system speedier

Pobar estimated that HHVM is about twice as fast as HPHPc was, and about nine times as fast as running straight PHP.

Facebook has posted the code for HHVM on GitHub, with the hopes that others will use it to speed their PHP websites as well.

HHVM is optimized for handling very large, and heavily used, PHP codebases. Pobar reckoned that using HHVM for standard sized websites, such as one hosting a WordPress blog, would gain only about a fivefold performance improvement.

“If you take some PHP and run it in on HipHop, the CPU execution time [may] not be the limiting factor for performance. Chances are [the system is] spending too much time talking to the database or spending too time talking to [the] memcache” caching layer, Pobar said.

Yahoo Sports Launches New Fantasy App With Mobile Drafting

Yahoo announced that it has launched its new 2013 Fantasy Sports app today, which brings a new design, and new features to the experience.

One of the big new improvements is that it now features mobile drafting, which many will find tremendously helpful. It’s a lot of pressure to be at a computer during draft time.

 

“Managers can now sign up, draft a team and win their league championship from their iOS and Android device thanks to new technology incorporated by Bignoggins Production, Loki Studios and the Yahoo! Sports mobile team,” a spokesperson for Yahoo tells WebProNews. “The app also now features mock drafting, to help fans prepare and get an edge on the competition.”

Yahoo announced its acquisition of Bignoggins just a few weeks ago. They haven’t wasted any time.

“And starting with football, for the first time ever, all of Yahoo! Sports Fantasy games will live under one mobile roof – the Yahoo! Sports Fantasy app – including basketball, hockey and baseball,” the spokesperson adds.

According to Yahoo, the new app is faster than previous experiences. It also has free notifications.

The app is available for iOS and Android.

Opera Next 16 hints at new features

Norwegian browser developer Opera Software has confirmed the switch of its browser development to a rapid release cycle with the launch of Opera Next 16. The new version number comes less than a month after Opera 15 FINAL was released, which saw Opera switch from its own proprietary Presto web engine to the Blink engine used by Google Chrome.

As with all rapid release cycle updates, there are no major overhauls to be found in Opera Next 16, although a number of interesting new features have been showcased as the next iteration starts its journey towards final release.

Opera 16 — which is based on Chromium 29, the engine that powers Chrome 29 (currently in beta) — comes with support for the W3C Geolocation API, a form auto-filler tool and opera:flags, a shortcut to settings that allows adventurous users to play with experimental features.

Users will also find a new setting under Browser > Start Page called “Preload Discover contents”, which allows users to switch this feature off.

Platform-specific updates include support for Jump Lists in Windows 7 and 8, plus the addition of Presentation mode to the Mac platform.

In addition to these existing features, Opera has revealed the next set of features it’s working on, with the promise that early versions of these will be rolled out into the Opera Next build over the next few weeks. These include proper bookmarks support, synchronization via Opera Link, improved tab handling and themes.

Opera Next 16 is considered “alpha” software, which is why — like Firefox Aurora — it’s designed to run alongside an existing stable build of Opera, allowing users to experiment with new features without affecting their day-to-day browsing. Updates are frequent as bugs are discovered and fixed, but users should not attempt to rely on Opera Next as their primary browser, hence the separate installation.

Mozilla ponders blinkers for your browser

Mozilla Labs has outlined an experiment it’s conducting in improving the personalisation web publishers can offer readers who browse their sites using Firefox.

The outfit says it’s been working on the idea since last year, when it “conducted a series of experiments in which a user’s browsing history could be matched with interests in categories like technology, sports and cooking.”

In return for opting in to the trial, lab rats were offered “insight into how they spend time online.”

Mozilla Labs is now wondering “what if these interests were also available for the user to share with the websites they visit to get a better, more personalized browsing experience” so that “content creators and consumers could benefit from Web-based interests”?

Here’s one scenario the outfit has imagined as resulting from this line of thinking:

“For example, let’s say Firefox recognizes within the browser client, without any browsing history leaving my computer, that I’m interested in gadgets, comedy films, hockey and cooking. As I browse around the Web, I could choose when to share those interests with specific websites for a personalized experience. Those websites could then prioritize articles on the latest gadgets and make hockey scores more visible.”

Some publishers have already pressed the API for this kind of thing into service, according to the Mozilla Blog, but the code is not in the wild and is being tested – technically and conceptually – as Mozilla figures out how people will react to websites that dynamically change content based on readers’ past behaviours.

One example of successful personalisation mentioned in the posts announcing the initiative is The Guardian’s offer to ensure its readers see no news about the birth of George Alexander Louis Windsor. That’s a service many will doubtless enjoy. Whether such personalisation can result in readers choosing only to encounter lines of inquiry and opinions they already agree with, and therefore deciding to consume media that re-enforces their feelings rather than offering broader perspectives, is a wider debate for another day. Or the comments.

Facebook Hashtags Not Catching on With Consumers

While using hashtags in Facebook posts might be a fun tactic for brands trying to engage consumers, it doesn’t appear to be paying off, a new study finds.
Research from social media analytics firm Simply Measured revealed that while 20 percent of Facebook posts among top brands now include hashtags (which give users a way to group messages of similar content), there is no evidence that hashtags are influencing engagement.

The study shows that posts with hashtags —a new feature added with in the last several months — perform as well as those without, suggesting that people are not yet discovering brand posts by their tags.

Overall, the study shows nearly all of the companies in the Interbrand 100 — which ranks businesses based on financial status — now have a Facebook fan page, with 60 percent posting something at least once a day.

[No, Really, Facebook Makes Employees More Productive]

The research revealed that visual content is by far the primary driver for engagement on Facebook. Photos posted by top brands average more than 9,400 engagements, which includes likes, comments and shares, per post, while video posts average more than 2,500.

When it comes to text posts, brands must walk a fine line. Analysis of more than 500 status updates from the top brands shows that the longer a status update is, the less engagement it typically receives. However, if a status update is too short — less than 50 characters — it may not be long enough to capture viewers’ attention or provide the necessary context to drive the number of likes, shares and comments a brand would like.

“For most brands, Facebook is no longer just a network; it has become the hub of their social marketing efforts and one of the most effective ways to engage with fans,” said Adam Schoenfeld, CEO of Simply Measured. “This latest research once again proves that knowing your audience, understanding your content assets and measuring your efforts are extremely important to develop the social strategies that will work best for you.”

Businesses that limit Facebook fans from writing on their page might want to reconsider their strategy. The research shows that nearly 30 percent of top brands do not allow users to post on their wall. For those brands, user engagement on their page is limited to likes, comments and shares, resulting in 15 percent less engagement than brands that do allow user posts.

When it comes to drawing the most Facebook fans, no one does it better than Facebook itself. The social media giant claims the top spot with 93 million fans, followed by Coca-Cola and MTV.

Google releases Chrome 28 with Blink browser engine

Google on Tuesday released Chrome 28, the first polished version of the browser to use the company’s home-grown “Blink” rendering engine. On Windows, the upgrade also sported Google’s new notification service that lets developers of Chrome apps and add-ons display messages and alerts outside the browser window.

The upgrade was the first since May 21, when Google shipped Chrome 27 and touted some minor performance improvements.

[ Also on InfoWorld: Bug bounty programs provide strong value for Google, Mozilla. | Get your websites up to speed with HTML5 today using the techniques in InfoWorld’s HTML5 Deep DivePDF how-to report. | Learn how to secure your Web browsers in InfoWorld’s “Web Browser Security Deep Dive” PDF guide. ]

Google announced in April that it was dropping the open-source WebKit browser engine — at the time also used only by Apple’s Safari — and was instead launching Blink, a WebKit variant, to power Chrome. Since then, Opera Software’s Opera has also adopted WebKit as an interim step before it eventually moves to Blink.

Google cited difficulties in adapting WebKit to Chrome, and in the first weeks after the announcement, stripped copious amounts of unnecessary-for-Chrome code from the fork that became Blink. Previously, only the rougher “Dev” and “Beta” builds of Chrome relied on the Blink engine. Users can verify that Blink is present by typing chrome://version/ in the Chrome address-search bar, dubbed the “Omnibox.”

Also included in Chrome 28 is new support for more sophisticated notifications that appear outside the browser pane and display even when the browser’s not running. “Packaged apps” — ber-Web apps that look and behave like “native” code written specifically for the underlying OS — and add-ons can push brief messages and alerts to Chrome users after their developers have enabled the feature.

Only the Windows version of Chrome 28 currently supports these next-generation notifications, but Google promised that the feature would soon make its way to OS X and Linux. On a Mac, Chrome notifications are not integrated with OS X Mountain Lion’s Notification Center.

Along with the debut of Blink and notifications, Chrome 28 contained patches for 15 security vulnerabilities, one of them rated “critical,” Google’s most serious threat ranking. According to Google’s terse security advisory, that flaw was a memory management bug — dubbed a “use-after-free” vulnerability — in the browser’s network sockets code.

But while Colin Payne, who reported the bug, received an impressive reward of $6,267.40, another researcher was handed triple that. Andrey Labunets was paid a record $21,500 for filing several vulnerability reports, including two in the Google synchronization service and an unknown number of others that Google said were “…since-fixed server-side bugs.”

That last phrase and the amount paid were clues that Labunets discovered one or more flaws in a core Google service. In April, Google boosted bounties for vulnerability reports in its core websites, services and online apps, resetting the top reward to $20,000 for remote code executable bugs, those that attackers could use to slip malicious code onto a server or into an app or site.

Labunets is no stranger to large bug bounties. Earlier this year, after reporting a string of weaknesses in Facebook’s authentication protocol, Labunets was awarded $9,500 by the social networking giant.

Altogether, Google this week paid bounties totaling $34,901 to six researchers, including Payne and Labunets, for reporting eight different bugs. Through Tuesday, the Mountain View, Calif., company has awarded nearly $250,000 thus far this year in bounties or hacking contest prizes.

Users can download Chrome 28 from Google’s website. Active users can simply let the automatic updater retrieve the new version.

Launch of Remodeled Website by limoserviceoakland.net

Limoserviceoakland.net, a premier ground transportation provider, has recently launched their remodeled website. Their remodeled website aims to improve the user experience and offer better insight of their business model. Their remodeled website has tons of new features and user-friendly navigation structure to benefit the customers.

“Any business has to keep up with the improving technology in order to stay in the business. The basic idea behind remodeling the website was to make our services and fleet information available to the customers with utmost ease. The customers will find complete specifications and technical details with the images of the fleet in the new website for determining the profitability of the vehicle. Additionally, we have included many features that can help the customers in comparing the vehicles and choosing the best one for the tours. Of course, the best search engine optimization was also the main aspect behind the remodeling of the website.” – said Ruben, a manager of limoserviceoakland.net

They have used dynamic approach to remodel the website to make it visually appealing and informative for the customers. The remodeled website offers the benefit of accessing the required information with only a few clicks. Their remodeled website includes complete information about the services like wine tour, casino trips, airport transfers, concerts, sports events, night on the town and corporate events. Their website has dedicated pages focusing on the luxury transportation options for the occasions like wedding, birthday parties, proms, bachelor parties and bachelorette parties. Their new website has state-wise recommendation about the most popular destinations, hotels and restaurants for the benefits of the customers.

They have showcased their wide ranges of limo collection that includes Escalade Limo, Lincoln Stretch Limo, Rolls Limo, Hummer Limo, Range Rover Limo and Chrysler 300 Stretch Limo in their fleet. Some other fleet information like features available in 20 passenger party bus, 28 passenger party bus and 45 passenger party bus are also listed on their website with the high-definition images. The information about their wide range of exotic cars such as Bentley Flying Spur, Mercedes-Benz S500, Ranger Rover SUV, Rolls Royce Phantom, Ferrari and Lamborghini Gallardo are now available on their new website.

They have also included the complete information about the different tour packages and their features in the website for better understanding. The customers can now subscribe to their newsletter to know about the release of new packages, deals, services and fleet. They have also included the online vehicle reservation facility on the new website to offer the convenience of booking the most appropriate vehicle with utmost ease. The customers can visit http://www.limoserviceoakland.net to check out the new features of the remodeled website or book a limousine for tours and travels.