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The founder of Silk Road, Ross Ulbricht, has been indicted and faces significant time in prison if he's found guilty, as the federal government attached the "kingpin statute" to the case. The FBI has seized more than $150 million in Bitcoin, the only type of currency Silk Road accepted from customers.
Ulbricht was arrested in October and has been charged with computer hacking, money laundering, engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, and running a narcotics conspiracy. If convicted of all charges, Ulbricht faces a life-sentence, with some charges carrying 20-year minimum sentences - and the trial is expected to start later this year.
Not surprisingly, the federal government wants to make an example of Ulbricht and his accomplices, to prevent other groups from trying to fill the void. Estimated profits from Silk Road topped $22 million in annual sales, so the temptation will drive someone else to create a similar service.
Pornhub saw some interesting traffic over the weekend as the Super Bowl took place, with traffic dipping heavily at 3PM, but building up incredibly high from Denver between 7-9PM.
With the game starting at 3PM, traffic on Pornhub dipped heavily, but as of around 5PM it looks like porn watchers from Denver decided to skip the game in favor of some digital lovin'. Seattle-based Pornhub visitors weren't alone, but they didn't start jumping onto the site until around 9PM, hours after Denver fans checked out of the Super Bowl.
Some interesting numbers for Pornhub here, to see how quickly fans at home were jumping back onto their desktops and laptops and onto Pornhub during a disappointing game for the Broncos.
The recently launched Academic Torrents service is a torrent site focused on sharing academic papers, research material and data sets, according to the University of Massachusetts. Academic Torrents was started to help researchers to more easily share and find information, and was founded by students from the Department of Computer Science from UMass, Boston.
Academic Torrents already has more than 1.67TB of research data available to those interested. Researchers no longer have to worry about trying to upload, host, and share content on their own servers, and uses peer-to-peer to share files.
Torrents tend to be in the headlines for copyright infringement and piracy, but it's possible to find academic material, open source drivers and software, and legal torrents to download.
Internet giant--no, we're not talking about Google--Yahoo has seen a breach of its security. An undisclosed number of e-mail addresses and passwords, collectively accounts, were compromised, Yahoo informed users via its Tumblr page. Yahoo says, "Upon discovery, we took immediate action to protect our users, prompting them to reset passwords on impacted accounts."
Yahoo believes that the information was obtained from a third-party database, not their own systems, but they are working with law enforcement to hopefully find the perpetrators and bring them to justice. Yahoo says that they have implemented additional measures to keep accounts safe. Impacted accounts have had their passwords changed and Yahoo is allowing "second sign-in verification" to allow users to regain access.
If your account was compromised, you may have received an e-mail notification or SMS, if you had added a mobile phone to your account. As always, Yahoo reiterates good user security:
In addition to adopting better password practices by changing your password regularly and using different variations of symbols and characters, users should never use the same password on multiple sites or services. Using the same password on multiple sites or services makes users particularly vulnerable to these types of attacks.
Everyone's favorite online shopping destination is considering a price hike for everybody's favorite two-day shipping club. That's right, Amazon is considering increasing the price of US Prime memberships by $20-$40. This piece of information was given out yesterday during Amazon's earnings call, during which it detailed its earnings.
It's not exactly clear why Amazon would want to increase the price for US Prime memberships, especially considering they reported record membership numbers. One reason provided was higher shipping costs, though I'm not completely convinced this is the real reason. Since its inception, Amazon Prime has expanded beyond two-day shipping by adding free Kindle rentals and instant streaming of over 40,000 videos. I would venture to guess that the cost of adding content to the streaming service is the real reason for the contemplated price hike.
It's possible that Prime memberships could end up having different tiers, though Amazon's CFO dodged a similar question during the earnings call yesterday. One thing is clear, don't be surprised if you start having to pay more for your Amazon Prime subscription.
Facebook is still popular, especially among younger demographics, and won't suddenly spiral out of popularity anytime soon, according to the Forrester Research group. Following a recent Princeton University study predicting Facebook will no longer exist by 2021, which the No. 1 social media site immediately argued against.
In the Princeton study, two PhD students also predicted Facebook would lose 80 percent of its users by 2017 - which Forrester also disputed.
"In fact, from a user perspective, Facebook is in rude health," according to a recent Forrester blog. "Its number of monthly users is still growing - up to 1.19 billion in Q3 2013. More importantly, more and more of those users are coming every single day: in Q3 2013, its daily user count was 61% of its monthly user count, up from 55% in Q2 2012."
It's no surprise Facebook didn't take kindly to the Princeton study, as Facebook is a publicly traded company and wanted to dispel the study - and all rumors - and Forrester's blog should help temporarily quash those worries.
Many users worldwide are experiencing outages worldwide outage of several Google services including GMail, Google+, Google Hangouts and more over the last several hours. GMail service seems to largely be fully restored but it appears that service has yet to be restored to Google Hangouts on the east coast of the US.
With the Google+ outage YouTube comments are not working, and I have been unable to reach any of my Google Drive space all day long. GMail is back up on the east coast, but a friend in Oregon is reporting that its still down for him. Google has not stated a reason as to why the outage is occurring or what the cause is, but they are saying that it is temporary and service should be back to normal soon.
The proclaimed "king of revenge porn," Hunter Moore, and one other person were arrested and charged based on activities related to the once-popular website, isanyoneup.com.
"The moral of the story is that his revenge porn site wasn't a good enough business model, and that he had to engage in illegal activity to populate the site with pictures," noted Wes Hsu, assistant U.S. attorney for the Central District of California/leader of the Cyber and Intellectual Property Crime Section.
Both Moore and Charles Evens were charged with conspiracy, seven counts of aggravated identity theft and seven counts of unauthorized access to a protected computer to obtain information, including efforts to hack e-mail accounts to steal personal information. Moore previously stated on numerous occasions that everyone on the site were anonymously submitted to isanyoneup.com, which the federal government claims isn't true.
Evens was reportedly paid $200 per week for his criminal activity, with the working relationship first starting sometime in 2011. Hearing that both men could face up to five years in federal prison is little solace for the people that had their pictures and personal information published on the website.
British government officials are currently debating the Intellectual Property Bill, with the Prime Minister's staff looking to crack down severely on repeat file sharers. The government wants to begin removing Internet access privileges to repeat offenders that are determined to be 'persistent offenders.' In fact, increasing the maximum penalty for copyright infringement up to 10 years is a current topic of discussion during the meeting.
"The discrepancy I mentioned is a source of great frustration," said Mike Weatherly, the Prime Minister's intellectual property MP, in a statement. "For example, the private prosecution by the Federation Against Copyright Theft of Anton Vickerman, who was making £50,000 a month from running a website (SurfTheChannel) that facilitated mass-scale copyright infringement, saw him convicted of conspiracy to defraud and sentenced to four years in prison."
A counter argument issued by Helen Goodman, UK MP, noted that it seems ignorant to distinguish between the teenager downloading music for a mobile device and organized copyright piracy groups.
National governments in North America and much of Europe are trying to combat online piracy and copyright infringement - with varying levels of success - and will continue to be a major issue in 2014.
With many parts of the world still waiting for 4G or even 3G coverage, the South Korean government is looking forward and beginning to invest into the infrastructure needed to bring 5G to the country by 2020. South Korea will invest $1.5 billion in the infrastructure build-out and will work with local firms to accomplish the task.
5G is expected to become much faster than most of the wired broadbad service in most of the world with speeds hitting limits up to 1000 times the current fastest 4G LTE bandwidth. This means that 5G users will be able to download a 1GB file in less than two seconds, or an entire Blu-ray ISO in less than a single minute. South Korea expects the network roll out to be completed by the end of the decade, and it expects handset technology to have caught up by then.