On March 13th, a SQL injection script was found in the WP Statistics plugin. WP Statistic is an open source plugin design to track visitors. It records IP addresses, referring sites, search engine terms, and location statistics. Per it’s WordPress.org, the plugin has over 600,000 installs. The Daily Swig reported that the plugin can break a WordPress site’s encryption keys and salts. Hackers can use automated tools like sqlmap. The flaw was found in admins accessing the “Pages” option to get statistics. This sends a request to a database and generates an SQL query. This function is normally reserved for administrators. But the flaw can be viewed by non-admins. The hacker can then input their own values into the database.
When the creators were alerted to the flaw, they quickly sanitized the bug and released a new patch.
Facebook’s philosophy is that society is in an age of information exhibitionism. In their view, people are not concerned with their information being shared. It is a time of openness and transparency. Per Facebook’s own terms of service, Facebook is paid by allowing advertisers to show users ads. The social network provides advertisers information on ad performance and interaction. Facebook also provides advertisers demographics and interest information of viewers. Information is what Facebook sells, so users do not have legitimate claims on privacy. When a user registers for an account, they need to agree to the terms of service. Facebook’s terms of service are clear that they will sell a user’s data. Users agree to give Facebook their name, their profile picture, and information.
Facebook has changed its privacy settings. They did so because of the Cambridge Analytica Scandal. Cambridge Analytica bought 87 million Facebook user data. This information assisted Donald Trump and Ted Cruz in their election campaigns. The data was also used by Brexit supporters to manipulate Facebook users. The data was gathered through a Facebook app called “this is your digital life.” Facebook has since suspended Cambridge Analytica. Facebook has ended partnerships with advertising data brokers.
Facebook has not changed what data they collect. They did make it easier for users to access and control their data being sold. Facebook redesigned its privacy settings from 30 locations to 1 location. The change was designed to make it more initiative and easier to navigate. One of the privacy settings is deleting old posts and pictures. Users can also delete old comments and likes. This information is sold to advertisers so they can tailor ads. Changing these settings will change what ads a user sees. Changing user settings with move people to different demographics. Old irrelevant data will not be used as true data about a user. Adjusting the privacy settings will also limit how someone can contact another user.
Internet media advertisement has changed. More people use smartphones than personal computers. It is a struggle for any company to get the attention of consumers. Companies need to find unique solutions. Companies also need to rethink their metrics to capitalize on hidden opportunities. A new type of advertisement firm is needed. One that specializes in e-commerce and social media. iProspect is this kind of advertisement firm.
iProspect is a global-wide digital-first end-to-end advertisement agency. iProspect focuses on SEO optimization, paid search engine ads, and mobile marketing. Companies submit their big data to iProspect. iProspect estimates the potential Return on Investment. Then iProspect implements their social media and internet campaign to drive sales. iProspect has a wide range of clients. Some of their clientele includes GM, Hilton Hotels, Neiman Marcus, and T-Mobile. The company has a history of revenue improvement.
Adidas hired iProspect to measure their data. The data determine how much search traffic resulted in a visit to a brick-and-mortar store. Adidas wanted to know how much revenue was gained from search clicks. iProspect estimated that 1 in 5 clicks resulted in a visit to a store. Out of that, only 13% of the physical traffic resulted in a sale. Each sale averaged 71 dollars in revenue. If iProspect can increase visitors from 13 percent to 20, revenue would increase. The average sale would be 80 dollars. Each click would have a value of 3.20 dollars in revenue. The Return on Investment, by using iProspect, would be 680 percent. It would behoove Adidas to use iProspect to increase their online presence.
Metrics and data are vital in a connected internet society. How people shop has changed. It is as important to have a strong web presence as well as a physical store. Companies like iProspect are there to capitalize on the internet frontier.
In 2015, Darius Kazemi created an app called Ethical Adblock. Ethical Adblock blocks websites that need ad revenue. Some websites have free content. To compensate for their free content, these websites host ads. The data from these ads are also sold to advertisement firms. The user is the product, which is then sold. Ethical Adblock removes the user from participating in being sold. This application differs from unethical AdBlock. The user cannot view a website with “free” content. Visitors may choose to disable ads and view website content. That creates a loss of revenue for ad-driven websites. Some websites depend on ad revenue to continue. Ethical Adblock disables the temptation of viewing website content for free.
Why do advertisers need websites for ads? They need to find new platforms to advertise. No longer are the days when a large audience views tv shows from 5 or 10 stations. News is not limited to three or four newspapers. Society is out of sync with everyone. Not only can people stream content at any time, but they can also find content from anywhere on the internet. To reach their customers, Advertisers use algorithmic advertising technology. This tech is important for advertisers to tailor their ads to different platforms. The ads can serve a broad audience without the need for a central location. And the data from the algorithms help shape the products that are sold.
I have a mixed view on Adblockers. I disable my adblockers for small businesses and local businesses. It is important for a thriving economy that there are more local entrepreneurs. The local business or individual pay more in taxes percentagewise than corporations. Leeching free content by using Adblockers is stealing from my neighbors. Individuals and local businesses do not have the advertisement budget like big businesses. I will turn it off for those websites. I do not have the same compassion for corporations. It is true that corporations create more jobs. Corporations pay less in local property taxes and are a drain for a local economy. Furthermore, some corporations do not pay living wages. Thus, I do not feel they need help with their advertisement budget. They have already recovered lost revenue by paying less in local taxes and less in fair wages.
Amy Zegar, co-director of CISAC and Davies Family Senior Fellow, did a TEDx Talk on Cyberwarfare in 2015. Cyber attacks and cyber wars have escalated and evolved over the years. The U.S. Government placed cyber attacks on the top of their threat list. They did this after the attack by North Korea on Sony. The attack stopped the release The Interview, starring James Franco and Seth Rogan. Terabytes of private information was stolen and released. Sony suffered because of this attack.
In her talk, Ms. Zertag listed three classes of cyber attacks. The first one as thief of intellectual property form American Corporations. The IP from U.S. private businesses gives the economic an edge over others. The second class of attack is a tax on infrastructure. An attack like this would cause disruptions to the American way of life. The third class of attack is one that degrades or disables our military. A disruption like this limits the U.S. Military ability to defend the country. The military cannot attack when their interests are threatened.
Ms. Zertag states that there are “no safe neighborhoods” online. In real life, police officers patrol the city. The military defends the United States. The police and military are government owned monopolies on security. But the private sector owns 85% of cyberspace. The government cannot reach in and defend those sectors. It is up to private businesses to work with the government for cyber defense.
The internet has, as Ms. Zertag put it, a “huge attack surface.” The internet is one location where people communication, shop, and manage their finances. It is also a place where people can steal, sell illegal products, and commit other crimes. It is a centralized location. The internet was never designed to have safe spaces. Researchers and developers created the internet to share unregulated information.
Since the start of the internet, internet traffic has tripled. Development of smart devices has increased the reliance of the internet. Appliances will soon be autonomous. Driverless cars will become more popular. In the health field, smart devices will be implanted to record health vitals. The coding rule of thumb is that there is one defect for every 2,500 lines of code. The defects in code are tested by hackers and random bots. When the error in code is discovered, it is exploited. The more code is used in programing devices, the more susceptible a network is to a cyber-attack.
There are five key differences between cyber warfare and traditional warfare. The first difference is that the more powerful a network, the more vulnerable. The more connected a society is, the more they will lose due to a cyber attack. Because 85% of the internet is owned by the private sector, the government cannot work alone. The government must rely on support of private corporations and other nations to handle cyber attacks. Since society has become more connected worldwide, the attack surface is broad. The last difference is that victims do not know they are victims until it is too late. Some cyber attacks are slow and unnoticeable by their intended victims. Until the crime is committed, there is no notice of a cyber attack. Traditional warfare as the advantage of seeing the enemy. In cyber attacks, the enemy often are anonymous.
Groupon is an e-commerce marketplace where local businesses offer deals. Retailers offer deals on travel, dining, car care, health services, and more. Some big businesses can afford media advertisements. A small business can leverage its advertisement reach with Groupon. Group on capitalizes on smartphone users, which makes up about 83% of social media users.
Groupon has many modern e-commerce tools. Some of these tools are in their Groupon Merchant application. This application offers a point-of-sale system and a payment processing system. Groupon Merchant has an inventory tracking system. Groupon also offers the ability for customers to have their purchases delivered. If delivery is not available, then the product is at a nearby store.
There are some advantages to using Groupon. Groupon allows users to browse through a local store’s inventory on their smartphones. Offering a delivery service saves businesses from hiring a deliverer. Groupon is well known. Local businesses have an advertisement market not available to larger businesses.
I have used Groupon before. I enjoyed the deals I found on it. I removed the app because my phone was bombarded with alerts. This triggered my FOMO and I had to remove it. I am using it again because I am going on a road trip. Finding local deals will provide an opportunity to explore what city I am in. I did revisit the app. The first deals I found were for local hotels, care car, and tanning package deals. I would like to continue to use Groupon after my trip if I do not get so many alerts.
There are some disadvantages to using Groupon. Customers may not view a local business’s website because what they want is on Groupon. Groupon does take a percentage of the profits. This is difficult because the retailer has already cut the cost of their product. Paying a cut to Groupon will make a product unprofitable.
Amazon was the first to produce a voice-controlled device. This device called Echo is connected to a user’s Amazon account. The Echo was designed as a voice-controlled speaker for the Amazon Fire TV. It has evolved to be a digital personal assistant.
The Echo can do things like answer questions, relay recipes for cooking, and shop on Amazon.com. Echo can broadcast news, weather reports, and songs from popular music sites. It can connect to smart lighting systems to control lighting fixtures. The device can also create lists and add items to calendars.
Echo uses a cloud base voice service called Alexa. Alexa stores voice command history and learn from its user. There are some concerns over privacy with Alexa. Alexa uses the recorded history to recommend products to its user. The voice commands are used to create marketing materials. But, the user has control over the information Alexa stores. Users can delete their voice command history either in bulk or one at a time. This information is also deleted from Amazon’s servers.
Amazon released a developer kit for the Echo. This feature is designed to help Amazon remain ahead of companies like Google or Apple. The developer kit, called Alexa Skills, helps make Echo multi-functional in the future. Echo occupies 70% of the market share in the voice-controlled market. Having that edge over other tech companies is important in a fast-changing market.
Echo Plus is an evolved version of Echo. Echo Plus is a hub that connects to other smart appliances. Appliances are becoming “smart” due to a drive to connect everything. Amazon entered this growing market by creating a device to act as a network hub. Echo Plus can operate all smart devices from one location.
Google has a device called Google Home. Home offers some of the functions that the Echo contains. Home provides answers to questions, controls smart devices, and plays music. Home also reads books, schedules appointments, and manages alarms. Home will also send alerts and directions to a user’s smartphone. Home is not connected to an online store like Echo is connected to Amazon.com.
I know a lot of WP users prefer Gutenberg. I like Elementor. The drop and drag interface is far more user friendly than Gutenberg. I don’t want to watch a billion You Tube videos to learn how to maximize Gutenberg. I want to get to my page and start designing. I know that using Elementor I sacrifice page speed and resources. But Gutenberg is just not user friendly. More power to WP users who use Gutenberg. If deleting my comment posts defending Elementor makes others feel powerful, then I hope they get their fix. Gutenberg… just sucks.
By the way… I hate how the Gutenberg interface deletes my tags after typing them.
Pinterest has evolved from an image-collecting social network to a visual search tool. As a visual search tool, Pinterest competes with Google. Like Google, users can find images. The images on Pinterest features links to the source of the images, like Google. And like Google, Pinterest will also give related images to the topic the user is searching for. Pinterest is different because businesses can create visual showrooms for their products. Google can only show images and links to where to buy products.
One of Pinterest’s focuses is mobile devices. The company wants to challenge Google in search advertising revenue. To do so, Pinterest invested in Lens, a deep learning-assisted visual search engine. Lens is a tool used to search for clothing, home decor, and recipes. It learns from its users and recommends like-type products. Because of Lens’ effectiveness, Pinterest implemented it for their image browsing site. Pinterest uses Lens as a collaboration tool with other businesses. Through a partnership with Samsung, Pinterest works with retailers like Home Depot and Target. When a customer takes a picture of an object, the phone will find like-type items at nearby stores. This is an option not offered by Google. Users are not able to submit images and receive recommendations.
With users posting and sharing images, Pinterest has opened itself up to Copywrite infringement issues. The Pin It tool lets users find random images and share them, with little regulation. Despite TOS statements and automatic citations, users continue to share stolen images. It is up to the content creators to take the appropriate steps to remove the images. But that is difficult to do because of the amount of legal tape a creator needs to cut through. Few creators have challenged Pinterest. The task is difficult due to the size of Pinterest, which is what the company counts on.