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Entries in Websites (12)

Saturday
Feb162013

Payment Dispute Leads to Hack of Gym Websites

Photos.com/Thinkstock(SAN FRANCISCO) -- A website designer, who claims a California gym chain refused to pay his invoices for work completed, took the unusual step of hacking into and commandeering the client’s websites.

Fitness SF, a chain of California gyms, allegedly failed to pay Frank Jonen, who says he is a freelance web designer, photographer and writer/director in Idstein, Germany, according to his Facebook page. He then broke into the Fitness SF web site and reposted the home page with his rant on the company’s alleged failure to pay on time.

Instead of information about say, Pilates and hot yoga, consumers who log on to the site were greeted with this as of Friday:  “Dear Fitness Customer. Fitness SF preferred to ignore our invoices instead of paying them. As a result this website is no longer operational.”  Links to Fitness SF locations in Oakland, Marin, and SOMA and the Castro areas in San Francisco, also redirect to this message.

Jonen seems to see himself as somewhat of an activist, fighting for the rights of independent contractors everywhere.  “I am also writing this on behalf of the tens of thousands of freelancers and small businesses out there facing larger corporations who can afford to starve them out. …An injury to one is an injury to all of us. We need to make a stand against crooks like this.”

The screed ends with a plea for consumers to cancel gym memberships, Tweet, or post on their Facebook pages in solidarity with him.

According to Ad Age (the piece originally appeared on the Denver Egotist), Jonen had intimated on Twitter that he might do something rash.

“I bet these bastards still think I won’t fight back and let them get away with betraying me and escaping payment,” he tweeted to his more than 1,500 followers.  Another Tweet pointed people to the revamped web site: “They thought paying invoices was ‘optional’. They ignored all reminders.
Let’s see if they’ll ignore this: http://fitnesssf.com/” he wrote.

In an email to ABC News, director of operations Don Dickerson of Fitness SF, said that its domain name had been “hacked and stolen.” He added that Jonen had been paid $5,000 on May 16, 2012 to develop a functional website for the brand, promising a 10-week delivery date.

“He missed numerous deadlines including our brand launch in September,” said Dickerson. “In December, he voluntarily passed the incomplete and non functioning website to our new design firm. Now, Frank is attempting to portray himself as the victim when truly the victim is Fitness SF.”

Jonen did not reply to an email request from ABC News.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec212012

Websites Go Silent for Victims of Sandy Hook Shooting

webmomentofsilence.org(NEW YORK) -- At 9:30 a.m. ET Friday morning, a moment of silence was observed in recognition of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., one week ago.  

But the silence wasn't just in the physical world: Many refrained from using Twitter, Facebook and other web services for the moment.  Additionally, a number of websites went silent or dark for the 20 children and six adults who were killed last week when Adam Lanza opened fire in the school.

The web-wide moment of silence was organized by Causes.com and Nick Grossman, a visiting scholar at the MIT Media Lab, at http://www.webmomentofsilence.org.  Hundreds of sites, including Digg, iVillage, Foursquare, E Online, Gilt and more used a banner provided by the group.

The banner read: "We are observing a National Moment of Silence for the victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy."  The rest of the site faded out with a gray skin.

On Twitter, many vowed to not Tweet for the moment and tweeted #momentforsandyhook.  Others on Twitter and Facebook extended the minute to five, vowing not to use the Internet and to reflect on the tragedy from 9:30 a.m. to 9:35 a.m.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct302012

Hurricane Sandy Takes Down Gawker, Huffington Post and Other Websites

Photos.com/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It was inevitable. With power out along the Eastern Seaboard for millions of people, the data centers and servers powering many websites were also hit, knocking popular websites offline for hours.

The biggest casualty? Datagram, the Internet service provider based in New York City that powers news sites like Gawker.com, Huffingtonpost.com and Buzzfeed.com. When its servers went down on Monday night due to flooding, the sites it powered went down with it.

"Unfortunately, within a couple hours of the storm hitting Manhattan's shores, the building's entire basement, which houses the building's fuel tank pumps and sump pumps, was completely filled with water and a few feet into the lobby," Datagram said in a statement on its site. "Due to electrical systems being underwater the building was forced to shut down to avoid fire and permanent damage."

As a result Gawker, owner of sites such as Gawker.com, Gizmodo, and Jezebel, also went down late Monday night. "We're continuing to work on our servers and will be back online as soon as is possible. We miss you already. Stay dry," Gawker tweeted from its account last night.

Gawker switched to Wordpress and Tumblr, different website and blogging platforms, as backups for its site. Gizmodo has been live blogging the aftermath of Sandy on its Sandy 2012 Emergency Site.

"While we're obviously disappointed with Datagram, our priority has been getting back online for our readers with an alternate publishing platform, which we've now done with all sites, thanks to Tumblr," Scott Kidder, Gawker's Executive Director, Operations, told ABC News.

Buzzfeed.com and The Huffington Post were also affected by Datagram's outage. Buzzfeed, a site that has surged in popularity in the last couple of months, was able to recover its full site, though, more quickly than others were.

"Elements of BuzzFeed's site and many story pages are back online, thanks to a Content Delivery Network, Akamai, which hosts the content at servers distributed around the world," Buzzfeed wrote on its blog Monday.

"Two key things helped BuzzFeed recover: After Hurricane Irene last year, BuzzFeed commissioned an offsite datacenter that replicates everything in near real-time. More recently, the site started using Akamai to cache content. That means that when Datagram was offline, the site and its pages should have stayed up — and many did," Buzzfeed's Matt Buchanan said in a post on Buzzfeed's FWD tech site.

Similarly, The Huffington Post had a backup server in Newark to rely on.

"Between Monday night and Tuesday morning, HuffPost was accessible via a temporary site -- status.huffingtonpost.com -- and writers and editors relied on Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter to post stories and information during the storm," the Huffington Post said on its site following the outage.

MarketWatch also went down for a brief period of time, but it is unclear if that was a result of Datagram's outage.

On Tuesday afternoon Datagram had reported that Consolidated Edison and city workers were helping to restore the services and that there were "at least five pumps pumping water from the basement into the street."

While Datagram will eventually come back online, Kidder added that Gawker will be speeding up its plans to have a second data center. "We -- as other publishers -- had counted on Datagram's ability to withstand anticipated natural disasters, which seems to have been misplaced."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep272012

Hackers, Possibly from Middle East, Block US Banks' Websites

Jin Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The financial and banking industries are on high alert Thursday night as a massive cyberattack continues, with potentially millions of customers of Bank of America, PNC and Wells Fargo finding themselves blocked from banking online.

"There is an elevated level of threat," said Doug Johnson, a vice president and senior adviser of the American Bankers Association. "The threat level is now high."

"This is twice as large as any flood we have ever seen," said Dick Clarke, an ABC News consultant and former cybersecurity czar.

Sources told ABC News that the so-called denial of service attacks had been caused by hackers from the Middle East who had secretly transmitted signals commandeering thousands of computers worldwide.

Those computers -- or "zombies" -- were then used to overwhelm bank websites with a barrage of electronic traffic.

Different banks have been targeted on different days.

Thursday was PNC Bank's turn: For three hours, ABC News tried to get on the PNC website to no avail.

On Facebook, a frustrated customer, Cynthia Schirm, wrote, "Trying to pay bills. This is ridiculous."

"Hopefully it can be up soon," wrote Stacy Briggs-Gerlach. "Never realized how dependent I am on it!!!"

A group of hackers calling themselves Izz ad-Din al-Qassam warned the financial industry that it was going to attack in retaliation for the controversial film "The Innocence of Muslims," which provoked outrage across the Muslim world earlier this month.

The U.S. said it suspected that hackers in Iran were also involved.

"This is the first time that we know about, where a Middle Eastern entity, perhaps a Middle Eastern government, has attacked websites, critical infrastructure, in the United States," Clarke said.

Even though hackers have not been able to steal any money during these attacks, authorities say they fear the next generation of widescale cyber assaults could be more devastating.

"If they get inside the banks, they can move money around and cause financial chaos," Clarke said.

ABC News obtained a Sept. 17 FBI alert warning that foreign hackers were targeting bank and credit union workers.

In a number of those cases, the hackers stole employee login credentials and then wired themselves between $400,000 and $900,000.

Sources told ABC News that the U.S. government was actively working to locate and disrupt the massive attacks.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr232012

Businesses Charge Hundreds to Remove Mug Shots Online

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Businesses that publish police mug shots are proliferating online, shaming those with DUI charges or other arrests into spending hundreds of dollars to have their information removed from the sites.

Laura, a teacher in Florida who asked that her last name not be used, was arrested for driving under the influence last year.  To her surprise and chagrine, the next day, Google's search results for her name showed pages that displayed her mug shot.

After recovering from the shock and depression of her first brush with the law, she said she decided to act to have the information removed from these commercial sites.

"I was feeling proactive and figured I would do whatever it took," she told ABC News, paying $850 to have her mug shot removed from the private websites.

Three websites displayed her mug shot, including Florida.arrests.org, the earliest site to capitalize on the mug shots that are freely available online through county sheriffs' websites as public records.

While Florida.arrests.org makes a profit from online advertising -- anything from ads for lawyers to private colleges -- a string of me-too sites in states including Florida, Louisiana and Georgia, make money by charging those with featured mug shots to remove their information.

While it may be legal, Laura said publishing mug shots for a profit and entertainment did not seem "right."

Wayne Logan, Florida State University College of Law's Gary and Sallyn Pajcic Professor of Law, said there is nothing new about distributing arrest records, which was done through posters from at least the mid-19th century in "rogue's galleries" or the FBI's Most Wanted posters.

"On the Internet there is a much broader geographic scope and a greater durability than in previous times when we had paper versions," he said.  "Technological advances have changed the situation radically."

Logan said the phenomenon of mug shot websites is similar to that of Megan's Law, a 1994 federal law solely focused on sex offenders, requiring that their information and whereabouts be provided to communities.  Various states have created their own Megan's Law sites with the hope of empowering communities with information, he noted.

However, Megan's Law applies to convicted criminals, whereas the mug shot sites publicize information about those who have been arrested.

Logan said the intentions of making these records publicly available are to deter people to engage in criminal activity and educating communities that these people were arrested.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb032012

Feds Bust Illegal Streaming, Bogus Sports Merchandises Websites

Medioimages/Photodisc/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Since New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady watched a live stream of Super Bowl 45 while vacationing in Costa Rica last year, it stands to reason that all NFL fans should be entitled to do the same.

Not so, said the federal government, which went on the rampage Thursday by seizing 16 websites that offer illegal live streams of sporting games and pay-per-view events in what was dubbed as "Operation Fake Sweep."  It's alleged that 28-year-old Yonjo Quiroa of Michigan operated nine of these sites.

There's a pretty good chance that Brady was watching the game from one of the sites that these websites provided links to.  This Sunday, he'll be trying to lead his Pats to victory over the New York Giants in Super Bowl 46.

The bust was necessary, according to prosecutors, because "These websites and their operators deprive sports leagues and networks of legitimate revenue, forcing spectators and viewers to bear the cost of this piracy down the line."

In other words, when the NFL and other leagues get their products ripped off, they pass the losses down to sports fans in the form of higher ticket prices and cable costs.

NBC, which is broadcasting the Super Bowl this year, is also live streaming the game to mobile devices, the first time any network has done this.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement also announced that it closed down 291 sites that sold counterfeit sports merchandise.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan242012

File-Sharing Sites Scatter After Megaupload’s Shutdown

Photos.com/Thinkstock(COLUMBUS, Ohio) -- The federal shutdown of Megaupload has other file-sharing sites scrambling to cut back on sharing content that could get them into legal trouble.

Torrentfreak.com, a blog that tracks various file-sharing sites, has reported that at least nine different websites have made significant changes to the types of files users can upload.  A few sites, including Uploadbox.com and x7.to, are in the process of shutting down entirely, while the website Uploaded.to has blocked all IP addresses originating from the U.S.

Peter Swire, a law professor from Ohio State University and cyber law expert, says that the shutdown of Megaupload and the continuing discussion of proposed federal anti-piracy laws known as SOPA and PIPA have file-sharing websites calculating what they can do to protect themselves from prosecution.

“With Megaupload, the sites have gone from cool to criminal all at once,” said Swire. "Sites thought they were operating a [file-sharing] site, now they might be operating a criminal site.”

Many file-sharing sites are also reportedly abolishing controversial “rewards” programs that give financial incentives to users who post the most downloaded content. A rewards program utilized by Megaupload was cited as proof that the company encouraged users to pirate copyrighted material.

“The copyright laws punish people who willfully contribute to copyright infringement,” said Swire on the end of reward programs. “The new measures make it look less willful.”

Aside from the digital changes, these websites might be making a few real world moves as well.

Swire believes that after the New Zealand government worked in tandem with the U.S. to take down Megaupload, other file-sharing sites will look for countries where they can base their websites and remain safely exempt from U.S. prosecution.

A new file-sharing site titled Anonyupload.com is purportedly based in Russia and the Ukraine. It is soliciting donations  to buy servers and other equipment.

Aiming to follow in Megaupload’s digital footsteps, the site’s homepage put up the following statement in support of Megaupload’s flamboyant owner, Kim Dotcom: “Thank you DotCom for the past years of services. We hope you’ll be released as soon as possible. Try to not make that amount of money next time, and it should be alright.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan172012

Wikipedia Blackout: Websites Going Dark to Protest SOPA, PIPA

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Online encyclopedia giant Wikipedia will go dark for the day on Wednesday, joining a budding movement to protest two bills in Congress -- SOPA and PIPA -- meant to stop the illegal copying and sharing of movies and music on the Internet.

"This is going to be 'wow,'" Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales said on Twitter. "I hope Wikipedia will melt phone systems in Washington on Wednesday. Tell everyone you know!"

Other sites, such as Reddit and Boing Boing, have already said they would also go dark on Wednesday.  And some of the biggest names online, including Google, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, have vocally opposed the proposed legislation.

PIPA, the Protect IP Act in the Senate, and SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, have been presented as a way to protect movie studios, record labels and others.  Supporters range from the Country Music Association to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

But the Internet giants say the bills could require your Internet provider to block websites that are involved in digital file sharing.  And search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing could be stopped from linking to them -- antithetical, they say, to the ideal of an open Internet.

"If you want an Internet where human rights, free speech and the rule of law are not subordinated to the entertainment industry's profits, I hope you'll join us," said Cory Doctorow of Boing Boing.

Wikipedia, the sixth most visited site in the world, said its English version will be dark for 24 hours Wednesday, urging users to contact Congress.  Other joiners of the movement include Mozilla, which offers the Firefox Web browser; the Wordpress blogging site; and TwitPic, which allows Twitter users to post images online.

The House bill is on hold for now, and there are rumblings that both bills may be toned down because of the vocal opposition.  The White House over the weekend said it had reservations about the approach the two bills take.

"While we believe that online piracy by foreign websites is a serious problem that requires a serious legislative response, we will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet," wrote three White House managers, including Aneesh Chopra, the U.S. Chief Technology Officer.  "Any effort to combat online piracy must guard against the risk of online censorship of lawful activity and must not inhibit innovation by our dynamic businesses large and small."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan122012

'Dot Com' Is So 1997: New Web Domain Names On the Way

Photos.com/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Say goodbye to the days of simple web domain suffixes like .com, .net and .org.  Starting on Thursday, the organization that oversees the Internet is accepting applications from companies and individuals who wish to change the ending to their website addresses.

The shakeup marks the first time in over a decade that new domain names will be allowed.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) approved a measure to expand on the current 22 suffixes last June.  In announcing the move, ICANN said it would allow applicants to request endings featuring "almost any word in any language."

"ICANN has opened the Internet's naming system to unleash the global human imagination," Rod Beckstrom, president and CEO of ICANN, said then.  "Today's decision respects the rights of groups to create new Top Level Domains in any language or script.  We hope this allows the domain name system to better serve all of mankind."

Those seeking to apply for one of the custom Internet domain name endings will have to shell out $185,000.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jun202011

Group Approves Expansion of Internet Domain Naming System

Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(SINGAPORE) -- The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) approved a measure Monday to expand the number of existing Internet domain name endings, marking one of the biggest shake ups to the naming convention in years.

The new plan will dramatically add to the current 22 domain suffixes in use.  It will allow applicants to request endings featuring "almost any word in any language," according to ICANN.

"ICANN has opened the Internet's naming system to unleash the global human imagination," said Rod Beckstrom, president and CEO of ICANN.  "Today's decision respects the rights of groups to create new Top Level Domains in any language or script.  We hope this allows the domain name system to better serve all of mankind."

Those seeking to apply for new Internet domain name endings will be able to do so for $185,000.  Applications will be taken starting next year.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio