What is the Internet?

Looking into the Internet
We at Direct Submit work with individuals & business people who have varying amounts of knowledge of what the Internet actually is and how it works. I recently found the following description on the BBC News website and thought it might be of interest to many.

What is the Internet?
The internet is a global network of computers that works much like the postal system, only at sub-second speeds. Just as the postal service enables people to send one another envelopes containing messages, the internet enables computers to send one another small packets of digital data.

For that to work, they use a common ’language’ called TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol). If you are on the net, you have an IP address.

When you send a letter, you don’t need to know about the vans, trains and planes that carry it to its destination, or how many post offices it passes through on the way. Nor do you need to know how your packets of internet data are transmitted through a variety of cables, routers and host computers on the way to their destination.

However, different packets can take different routes, which makes the internet relatively resilient. The failure of a particular node or host generally makes little or no difference to the rest of the system.

When you put an envelope in the post, it can contain many different types of data: a love letter, an invoice, a photograph, and so on. The internet’s data packets also carry different types of data for different applications. Common types include web pages, email messages, and large files that might be digital videos, music files or computer programs.

Today, the web is often used to provide an easy-to-use interface for numerous applications, including email, file transfer, Usenet newsgroups, and messages (Internet Relay Chat). This makes the web and the internet appear to be the same thing. However, these applications existed before the web was invented, and can still run without it.

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How does a Computer get Infected

How does a computer get infected
How does a computer get infected if you’re just surfing the Internet? And how do cybercriminals make money from tricking users?

In Internet attacks, the primary aim of cybercriminals is to download and install a malicious executable file onto a victim computer. Being able to control an infected system from within opens up a whole world of opportunity, with a successful attack providing cybercriminals with access to user data and system resources. The cybercriminals will use this to make money from their victims in one way or another.

In general, an attack involves two steps: redirecting a user to a malicious resource, and downloading a malicious executable file onto his/ her computer.

Cybercriminals employ every possible channel in order to lure users to their malicious resources: email, instant messaging, social networks, search engines, advertising —malicious links can be found anywhere and everywhere. Sometimes, cybercriminals don’t have to do anything particular to attract users – they simply hack a legitimate website with a large number of visitors. Recently, cybercriminals have been resorting to this approach with increasing frequency.

Once a user has opened a “bad” resource, the only thing that remains is for malware to be downloaded and installed to his/ her computer. Cybercriminals have two choices: cause the user to download the program by him/ herself, or conduct a drive-by download. In the first case, social engineering methods are commonly used where cybercriminals play on naivety and/or lack of experience. In the second case, cybercriminals exploit a vulnerability in software running on the victim’s computer.

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Google Releases Censorship Tools

Google Releases Censorship Tools
The US government asked Google for user information 4,287 times during the first six months of 2010. During the same timeframe the UK government put in over 1,000 such requests.

This is just two snippets from Google’s new Transparency Report, a set of tools designed to show censorship levels around the globe.

Civil liberty groups welcomed the tool but called on Google to provide even more detail about the requests.

Earlier this year, Google released details about how often countries around the world ask it to hand over user data or to censor information. The new map and tools follows on from that and allows users to click an individual country to see how many removal requests were fully or partially complied with, as well as which Google services were affected.

There is also a traffic graph showing Google services around the world and related traffic outages, caused either by governments blocking access to information or, more mundanely, cables being cut.

Google’s public policy head Scott Rubin demonstrated the tool to the BBC.

“Last year after the Iranian elections access to the internet was cut off and we saw a sudden drop in traffic to YouTube,” he said.

Civil liberties groups said the tool would prove invaluable to activists determined to plot against government censorship around the globe.

“I think it is a tremendous initiative and it would be helpful if other networks could do the same thing,” said Lilian Edwards, professor of internet law at the University of Sheffield and board member of the Open Rights Group.

“I think there will be some embarrassing data and it will vary from country to country. The UK is neither the best or the worst,” she said.

More data about the nature of the requests would be useful, she added.

“It would be interesting to see whether these take-downs refer to libel, surveillance and intercepts or the content industries. The more data we have the more useful it will be,” she said.

“It would, for example, be interesting to compare Google’s data with published UK surveillance requests.”

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Laura Ashley Increases its E Business

Laura Ashley Increases Online Sales
Home furnishings and fashion chain Laura Ashley has said it now generates 12% of its sales from the Internet after its revamped website grew revenues by 63%.

Demand for the made to order upholstery and curtains drove the online improvement. The company which has 225 stores in the UK made 7% of its sales from the Internet last year. Since then it has improved the website, increased the product offer and launched an iPhone application.

Online revenues improved by 63% to £15.4m and lifted the total group sales by 5.7% to £127.8m.

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Nokia Appoints Microsoft Business Manager

Nokia appoints Microsoft business manager as new head
Nokia has appointed Microsoft business manager Stephen Elop as its new chief executive. Mr Elop will replace the outgoing Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, who was a lifelong Nokia employee and has been chief executive since 2006.

The appointment may mark a sea-change in culture at the top of the Finnish mobile phone giant.

In July, Nokia reported a 40% slump in second quarter profits, as it struggled to break into the smartphone market. Mr Kallasvua has been facing increasing pressure to quit this year after Nokia issued two profits warnings and its share price fell by more than 40% between March and June. Markets took the news well, with Nokia up about 6% in early trading on Friday.

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