Friday, August 19, 2011

Skype WiFi for iOS lets you buy internet access by the minute

Skype has launched a new app for iPad and iPhone that lets you tap into commercial Wi-Fi hotspots without having to pay full daily or hourly fees. Instead, the app drains your Skype credit account by the minute, which is ideal if you just need to make a quick VoIP call. Rates are in the neighbourhood of $0.06/minute, with access available at over 1 million hotspots worldwide hosted by Boingo, Fon, Vex, Tomizone, and plenty of others.

Skype’s core business is video and voice chat over data connections, and over the last little while they’ve been shifting from desktop to mobile. Although Skype often undercuts the prices of wireless service providers, many carriers like Telus and Verizon have taken to supporting the service in their phones with stuff like direct billing of Skype credit to your monthly bill. Data bandwidth and hardware limitations make mobile video calling a bit impractical for now, but for voice calls, Skype’s proven to be a great alternative for folks wanting to save on long-distance calls.

Skype WiFi is a logical extension of their old laptop app called Access, which did basically the same thing. I could definitely see myself using this app when traveling, since roaming fees in Canada are particularly harsh. Most of the time I just want to check in to Foursquare so the folks back home know that I’ve landed safe and sound, but on a BlackBerry, the second you turn on data the e-mails come flooding in – maybe this will be a more viable alternative.

Here’s an App Store link, and we’ll definitely keep our eye open for an Android version.

Original here

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Younicorn: turn anyone into a unicorn with your iPhone

by Jay Hathaway

Of all the novelty photo apps we've seen on the iPhone, Younicorn might be the weirdest. It turns anyone into a glowing, psychedelic unicorn, and it's based on the simple philosophy that everyone looks better with a long, pointy horn growing out of their head. Younicorn is to photos what Cornify is to websites, but better.

There are several backgrounds to choose from, including sparkles, rainbows, and an array of space-themed scenes. You can place anyone - even your dog, which I find totally hilarious - into one of these backdrops, and position a glowing horn on their forehead. All this magic can be yours if you have enough rubies for 99 cents in the app store!

For extra Younicorn fun, check out a video of the Younicorn team enacting a real-life version of their app, after the jump.

Original here

Iranian hacker attack: What will it cost Twitter?

Hacker attacks cost public companies $1.6 million in lost share value. For Twitter, it's the firm's reputation that's at risk.

After a hacker attack in August, college student Joy Troy checked a Twitter page at the University of Southern California campus in Los Angeles. A new attack by hackers Dec. 17 redirected users to a page from a previously unknown group called the Iranian Cyber Army.

By Laurent Belsie Staff writer

Thursday night's cyber attack against the Twitter microblogging service was no routine assault to bring down a website. It was a sophisticated online blitz –perhaps part of an online Iranian cybercampaign – that could prove costly for social media networks.

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Why It Matters

As cyberspace becomes militarized, cyberattacks against social-media websites are expected to escalate. Find more of our stories on Twitter.

Unfortunately, such attacks are expected to escalate around the globe.

"There is an arms race in cyberspace occurring today," writes Ron Deibert, a cyberwarfare researcher at the University of Toronto, in an e-mail. "The United States, Russia, and China all have adopted operational doctrines in cyberspace that include computer network attacks such as these. In such a climate of intense militarization, I believe attacks such as these are going to become more common. Services and platforms like Twitter, Youtube, and Facebook will be regularly targeted for filtering, denial of service attack, defacement, and targeted espionage – as they have already with increasing frequency from China to Iran to Russia and Pakistan."

Most computer attacks are relatively straightforward denial-of-service attacks, where computers overwhelm a website with data to bring it down. Thursday night's attack against Twitter was more serious because the hackers gained access to part of Twitter's network and were able to redirect users to a page with a photo of a flag with Farsi script. Near the top of the page ran a bold red headline in English: "This site has been hacked by Iranian Cyber Army."

Hackers for several days have attacked the websites of opponents of Iran's regime and posted the same image. The opponents have used social-media sites like Twitter to organize street protests this year. (For a look at the breadth of those cyberattacks, click here.)

But hacking a site as large as Twitter is an embarrassing setback for the fast-growing social-media network.

"Attacks are very damaging to a social-network company like Twitter because they cripple its main function, the exchange of messages among members, its reputation, and its future profitability," writes Nicholas Economides, an economics professor at New York University's business school. And "the ability of hackers to get inside the company's computers is alarming and it raises privacy concerns for its members."

If Twitter were a large public company, news of a security breach would bring down its market value by an average 2.1 percent – or about $1.65 billion within two days, calculates Huseyin Cavusoglu, an information-systems professor at the University of Texas at Dallas. Since Twitter isn't yet public, the main risk is damage to its reputation.

"Attacks like this can definitely raise concerns about the security of Twitter, which in turn, can reduce the prospects for a successful IPO," Professor Cavusoglu writes in an e-mail. "This is more of a concern for Twitter because it suffered from similar service outages and interruptions in the past."

It's not clear that the attack was officially launched by Iran's government. Professor Deibert notes "a disturbing pattern of 'privateering' occurring in cyber conflicts today, whereby authorities contract out or otherwise encourage acts of 'patriotic' hacking. There is a potential in such encouragement for escalation to occur – a kind of cyclone in cyberspace – whereby bystanders and outsiders are drawn into the conflict and take it in unexpected directions."

For Web-based networks based on trust and friending, this is a chill wind in cyberspace.

Original here