Posts Categorised: Online

Its servers were hacked by unknown cryptocurrency miners during a fundraising drive

PORTLAND — An Oregon community radio station is still battling the after-effects of an April 28 cryptocurrency attack, according to Katie Shepherd of Willamette Week .

KBOO(FM) Community Radio’s servers were hacked by unknown cryptocurrency miners during the last week of the noncom’s fundraising drive. Because of its website’s 80% slowdown, KBOO reps said the station saw a decrease in online fundraising efforts during this crucial fundraising period.

However, the station did not have any of its files breached — a somewhat dim silver lining, all things considered.

[Read about The Wandering Engineer’s fears of the coming It Apocalypse.]

As of May 11, the station’s website is still down — more than two weeks later — as part of efforts to scrub the system of the malicious code. According to the Willamette Week, the station aims to be back online in the next day or so.

KBOO was far from the only victim of the attack, known as “Drupalgeddon2.” Other affected organizations include Lenovo, the University of California at Los Angeles and the U.S. National Labor Relations Board. The hackers exploited websites that had not updated a patch that fixed a problem in the Drupal content management system.

This is another unfortunate reminder that stations need to pay close attention to cybersecurity protocols at all levels in order to reduce vulnerability, as cybercriminals become increasingly determined and inventive.

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Verizon’s fixed 5G service is intended to compete with wired internet services and cable MSOs by “blasting” a 5G connection from a nearby cell site to receivers

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Samsung recently acknowledged the FCC certified both the company’s indoor and outdoor 5G home routers. The company said the new routers are meant to work with Verizon’s 28 GHz fixed wireless deployment, according to .

Samsung described the router as “a small consumer device that receives and transmits the 5G signal to provide ultra-high speed broadband wireless service…[that] can enable broadband service up to 18x greater than the current average U.S. broadband.”

Verizon’s fixed 5G service is intended to compete with wired internet services and cable MSOs by “blasting” a 5G connection from a nearby cell site to receivers either outside or inside users’ homes or offices. Mobile 5G, on the other hand, is designed for portable devices like smartphones and tablets. Verizon announced late last year that it would turn on fixed 5G services in up to five cities, including Sacramento , in the second half of 2018.

Verizon’s mobile 5G service will launch around six months after the carrier turns on its fixed 5G service, according to Verizon’s CEO Lowell McAdam. “Those comments are notable because Verizon hasn’t offered too much detail about how it might roll out mobile 5G — although Verizon’s CFO said last year the carrier wouldn’t launch mobile 5G services in 2018,” according to the same article.

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New England grass roots effort may offer new hope for the movement

CONCORD, Mass. — It seems like technology companies have become immensely powerful and seemingly accountable to no one. 

In Radio Magazine Today, we’ve used a lot of space reviewing recent federal rollbacks of net neutrality. Is there anything to be done by the average citizen? According to an opinion piece in the Washington Post , there is — through internet service provided by local governments, which are directly accountable to citizens.

Mark Howell is the chief information officer for the town of Concord, Massachusetts, and he writes: “I’ve overseen the creation of a successful municipal broadband system by treating Internet service like what it really is — a public utility, like water and electricity. We’re providing residents with broadband Internet service that is inexpensive and reliable and respects net neutrality and privacy principles.”

So just how was this accomplished? Concord has had a municipal electric utility since the early 1900s. 

“At our town meeting in 2009, citizens approved a plan for the utility to build a fiber-optic network because it needed upgrades to support such “smart grid” functions as advanced meter reading and load-management programs.” In 2013 the town meeting approved a plan to use that network to provide Internet service.

“Although we spent money to invest in this new infrastructure, once we started working on the system, we found that we could save money. We used our fiber-optic system to interconnect the schools, library, other town buildings and water system sites, saving tens of thousands of dollars a year on expensive and increasingly unreliable telephone lines. Once we started providing our own Internet service, the town saved even more.”

The city offers simple, flat-rate pricing without any of the “confusing packages” that customers of private telecoms have to deal with, and twice in four years Internet speeds have increased with no price hike.

“Our Internet service operates under rules set not by a for-profit company but by locally elected leaders and residents who volunteer to serve on the service’s board,” writes Howell. “We strictly abide by the principles of free speech and net neutrality, which means that all Internet traffic is treated equally. We also protect privacy by not sharing customer information with anyone.”

The city issued bonds to get started, and they will eventually be repaid by revenue from customers. Broadband revenue is covering the operating costs. The debt is financing the cost of adding about 300 customers per year, and according to Howell, “we project that by 2020, revenue will be covering these expansion costs as well. On top of that, there are the benefits that come with being a place that offers high-quality, high-speed Internet to homes and businesses.” 

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If approved by regulators, the new company would be henceforth known as T-Mobile

BELLEVUE, Wash., and OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — T-Mobile US and Sprint Corporation on Sunday announced they have entered into a definitive agreement to merge. The combined company will be called T-Mobile.

The combined company will have “lower costs, greater economies of scale, and the resources to provide U.S. consumers and businesses with lower prices, better quality, unmatched value, and greater competition,” according to this press release about the merger. “The New T-Mobile will employ more people than both companies separately and create thousands of new American jobs.” The same document goes on to say that from the first day Sprint and T-Mobile combine and every year thereafter, the new company will employ more people in the U.S. than both companies would separately; more than 200,000 people will work on behalf of the combined company in the US at the start.

[Read about Sprint and T-Mobile’s on again , off again merger history.]

The question is, how and why will that happen? According to the same release, “the New T-Mobile plans to invest up to $40 billion in its new network and business in the first three years alone, a massive capital outlay that will fuel job growth at the new company and across related sectors. This is 46% more than T-Mobile and Sprint spent combined in the past three years.”

“This combination will also force AT&T, Charter, Comcast, Verizon, and others to make investments of their own to compete, driving billions more in accelerated investment.”

You really need to take what is said in press releases like this with a grain of salt but let’s give them the benefit of the doubt right now.

“Neither company standing alone can create a nationwide 5G network with the breadth and depth required to fuel the next wave of mobile Internet innovation in the U.S. and answer competitive challenges from abroad. Only the combined company will have the network capacity required to quickly create a broad and deep 5G nationwide network in the critical first years of the 5G innovation cycle – the years that will determine if American firms lead or follow in the 5G digital economy.” 

This will be accomplished using Sprint’s 2.5 GHz spectrum and T-Mobile’s nationwide 600 MHz spectrum, and other combined assets. “Compared to T-Mobile’s network today, the combined company’s network is expected to deliver 15x faster speeds on average nationwide by 2024, with many customers experiencing up to 100x faster speeds than early 4G.”

Time will tell if that comes true of course. First the merger has to really happen. Following the closing, the new company will be headquartered in Bellevue with a second headquarters in Overland Park.

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No business is unaffected by cybertheft, State Department’s Strayer warns

WASHINGTON — Cyber-attacks on “critical infrastructure” and theft or espionage involving commercial intellectual property remain the top concerns of the global cybersecurity community, Robert L. Strayer, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Cyber and International Communications and Information Policy at the U.S. Department of State said April 19.

In remarks at the Media Institute’s monthly luncheon in Washington, Strayer emphasized, “No business is unaffected by cybertheft” and warned that “we will continue to see threats to the digital ecosystem.”

Strayer declined, when asked by MCN, to specify media or telecom operators, including cable TV, as part of the “critical infrastructure.” But he acknowledged that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies are constantly examining ways to foil “bad actors” who could disrupt or hack into the operations of American companies.

He said U.S. and global partners “have to think of all the misuses” of cyber systems. He emphasized the growing role of the digital economy and noted that international groups such as the G7 and G20 nations “are increasingly looking at technology issues” such as blockchain, that are affecting traditional global systems.

“As we look around the world, we want to assure an open flow of data,” Strayer said, but at the same time “it is absolutely critical to preserve a decentralized model.” He emphasized that many countries want to regulate the internet, but that U.S. policy will continue to “push back against that.”

Strayer acknowledged that in the US and most democracies, the digital infrastructure is in the hands of the private sector.

“We should not expect companies to operate in cyberspace any differently” than they do in conventional environments, Strayer said, but he warned that the task – including public/private collaboration – may be very challenging.

New cybersecurity standards will be “voluntary,” he said, adding that “industry is driving the solution.” He cited the need “to achieve maximum economic value” as companies battle cyberattacks.

Strayer cited Europe’s “General Data Protection Regulation” that goes into effect on May 25, restricting many ecommerce and digital media practices in an effort to assure consumer privacy. He did not offer an opinion about whether such restraints may eventually emerge in the U.S., especially amid the current furor over activities at Facebook, Google and other companies that collect personal data.

He focused, instead, on ways that federal enforcement agencies are developing systems “to improve our defenses” and create a “cyber-posture” to fight cybercrimes. He said that systems are now “so interconnected that these threats can race around the world” almost instantly.

To battle such scourges, Strayer explained that the State Department and other U.S. agencies have about 150 “digital economy officers” at embassies and other locations worldwide to identify potential cybercrimes and to development enforcement tactics, often in collaboration with host countries.

Strayer also cited forecasts that estimate about 200,000 people will be needed to handle America’s cybersecurity requirements in the coming years — a significant job creation stimulant.

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The legislation would have disqualified ISPs from receiving state Universal Service Fund high-cost support money for deploying broadband unless they agreed not to block, throttle or prioritize for pay

DENVER — A Colorado bill has died in committee that would have disqualified ISPs, including Colorado municipal broadband providers, from receiving state Universal Service Fund high-cost support money for deploying broadband unless they agreed not to block, throttle or prioritize for pay.

HB18-1312 would also have required refunding money if an ISP engaged in such practices, and would have given a government contracting preference for ISPs that do not engage in those practices.

According to the Colorado legislature’s website, action on the bill was indefinitely postponed by the Senate Committee on State, Veterans & Military Affairs, in this case the issue being a “state” affair.

ISPs lobbied against the bill as yet another in a patchwork of proposed or adopted state regs when what is needed is national legislation.

States are attempting to recreate the FCC’s net neutrality rules rolled back in a Dec. 14, 2017 decision, though that decision also preempts such state efforts. That means a court fight looms where legislation has succeeded in being passed or the governor has signed an executive order requiring net neutrality in government broadband contracts.

“This issue is about what is best for Colorado’s consumers and taxpayers,” said Rep. Chris Hansen, who has been a driving force behind the bill. “[D]o they want to pay more for an unequal internet, or do they want the internet to remain free and open to all? It is important for states to lead in the absence of action by Congress, and we will continue to do so here in Denver. “

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Why should broadcasters care? A consumer identity crisis is afoot

NEW YORK — Chocolate or vanilla?

A new report by behavioral marketing platform SmarterHQ shows that consumers are evenly divided over Amazon Alexa- and Google Assistant-infused smart devices.

According to the survey , which explored the omnichannel shopping habits of 1,000 adults, Alexa barely edges out Google Home products in preference and usage (44.4 % to 43.7%), with Apple HomePod coming in a distant third at 11.9%.

Perhaps more remarkable: American households now have an average of two Internet-accessible devices, while a startling 53% of consumers own more than three. What’s more, the likelihood of ownership increases with the number of kids at home; for example, families with three or more children are 35% more likely to have home assistants, while those with fewer offspring resort to mobile sites and apps for their online needs.

But digital assistants aside, the big takeaway from the SmarterHQ study is that the multitude of in-store and online shopping options has created something of a “consumer identity crisis” for retailers, making it extremely difficult to attract and maintain brand loyalty.

“Consumers view all the channels they shop on — online, in-store, through social media, or via assistant home devices — as a single point-of-contact with a brand, yet many retailers still treat these channels as disparate systems that aren’t connected,” said CEO Michael Osborne. “This puts pressure on marketers to make the brand experience a consistent one, no matter the channel. Without a marketing strategy that includes customer identity resolution, brands risk losing buyers to the more targeted and personalized campaigns of their competitors.”

Among the survey’s other findings:

  • Shopping online doesn’t necessarily mean purchasing online. People prefer omnichannel fulfilment, which pairs the convenience of shopping online with purchasing in-store. In fact, fully 90% of respondents have browsed online and purchased in-store (“web-rooming”), turning the old showrooming fear on its ear.
  • Shop online, return in-store. The majority of online shoppers (55%) prefer bringing their returns to a store vs. mailing them back (45%), although returning in-store decreases as age increases.
  • Stay-at-home parents are itching for the strip mall. Eighty percent of stay-at-home parents prefer to shop in-store, if only to get out of the house.
  • Immediacy of shopping in-store is key. Among brick-and-mortar shoppers, another 80% said they prefer the in-store experience because they can leave with the product in hand that day. 

Read the full article at TWICE.

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The company has announced it will launch mobile 5G in 12 cities this year, but has so far only named Waco, Dallas, Texas, and Atlanta

DALLAS — Using its 28 GHz millimeter wave spectrum, AT&T has measured download speeds of around 1.2 Gbps using a 400 megahertz channel, and latency rates between nine and 12 milliseconds, according , at its test site in Waco, Texas, where the carrier has deployed 5G-backed Wi-Fi for Magnolia Market at the Silos.

Melissa Arnoldi, AT&T president of technology and operations, said “by conducting these trials and inventing specialized measurement equipment to study other aspects of 5G in great detail, we collected mountains of data and insights to comb through, obsess over and ultimately act on. These trial learnings are guiding our commercial 5G launches this year and will help ensure we’re building a 5G network that is both real and reliable for everyone,” quoted in the same article.

AT&T has expanded its trials to Kalamazoo, Mich., and South Bend, Ind., and the company has publicly announced it will launch mobile 5G in 12 cities this year, but has so far only named Waco, Dallas, Texas, and Atlanta.

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It would prohibit paid prioritization, zero rating plans, apply rules to interconnections in California

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A Democratic state legislator in California is proposing revising consumer protection laws as a way to reinstate tough new network neutrality rules being rolled back by the FCC.

Sen. Scott Weiner Tuesday (March 13) introduced a tough new version of a net neutrality bill  that would add various online practices to the Consumers Legal Remedies Act’s definition of “certain unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices” in the provision of goods and services in the state.

Those unfair methods would now include blocking, throttling, paid prioritization, and specifically paid zero rating plans, among other things (see below).

ISPs can zero rate in application-agnostic ways, but can’t do so in exchange for being paid by a third party. Zero rating plans are ones in which third parties subsidize an ISP’s exclusion of accessing their site — say streaming a bandwidth-heavy video — from a users’ bandwidth allowance. It is both a way for the edge provider to drive traffic to their site and for the ISP to differentiate service.

The bill would also tie access to the state’s Universal Service Fund broadband subsidies to adhering to the new net neutrality rules and apply net neutrality to interconnections, which the FCC did in the 2015 Open Internet order and the current FCC reversed.

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The company is asking for Special Temporary Authority to advance its understanding of 5G and network potential in the millimeter wave bands

STAMFORD, Conn. — Charter Communications is going ahead with more tests of fixed wireless in the 28 GHz band, in and around the Los Angeles area. The cable company is asking the FCC for Special Temporary Authority to advance its understanding of 5G technology and network potential in the millimeter wave bands, according to . The application lists Ericsson as the manufacturer of 25 units to be tested.

The company is asking for the STA for 180 days, starting at the end of March. The goal of the tests is to develop techniques and to gain a greater understanding of fixed wireless broadband systems in the millimeter-wave bands.

Charter is also seeking permission to conduct more tests to study coverage, capacity and propagation in the 3550-3700 MHz CBRS band. Their latest application calls for outdoor fixed wireless experiments in Lexington, Kentucky, using 19 different models of equipment, according to the same article. “Charter plans to continue testing in rural communities to investigate further how to expand the speeds and services it delivers,” the company said.

Charter has also shown its support to the FCC for the opening of the 5.9 GHz band for unlicensed use as soon as possible, noting the 5.9 GHz band’s size, location and capacity would be ideal for “next-gen” technologies.

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