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

Where in the world are Apple's 78 million handsets?

Posted by Philip Elmer-DeWitt

Mostly in the U.S., but Japan, France, Australia and China are coming on fast, says AdMob

Click to enlarge. Source: AdMob

By the end of December, according to Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster, Apple's (AAPL) will have sold 78 million iPhones and iPod touches worldwide.

So where, exactly, are those devices?

A report issued Friday by AdMob, the world's leading supplier of mobile ads, tries to map the location of Apple's handsets country by country based on the number of users who requested at least one of its ads in November — a number that increased 150% in 2009.

Among the highlights of its findings:

  • In November, 50% of unique Apple visitors were located in the United States. The next four biggest markets were the U.K., France, Canada and Germany.
  • In total, 23 countries had more than 100,000 unique Apple visitors.
  • 50% of unique Apple users were located outside of the US, up from 39% in January 2009.
  • The iPhone accounted for 71% and the iPod touch 29% of the total unique Apple users in November. In raw numbers: 18.0 million iPhones; 7.3 million iPod touches; 25.2 million total.
  • The fastest growing countries between January 2009 and November 2009 were Japan, France, Australia and China. See the bar graph below.

Source: AdMob

AdMob describes itself as the world's largest mobile advertising platform, serving banner and text link ads on 15,000 mobile Web sites and iPhone and Android applications. Its reports are based on handset and operator data on nearly 138 billion impressions. They do not, however, measure mobile markets in the traditional sense of number of handsets sold. And they have a bias toward devices like the iPhone and Droid that visit ad-supported websites and also run ad-supported apps.

Original here