Tag Archives: money

BotClouds: How Botnets Now Offer Crime-As-A-Service

Botnets, networks of compromised end-user computers and servers, are hugely sophisticated engines of computation and messaging these days – just like cloud computing. Botnet creators can now sell their criminal and fraudster clientele capabilities to do a variety of tasks, from trying to crack into banks to creating fake grassroots political campaigns.

The use of botnets for straightforward criminal activity is nothing new, of course. By marshaling the resources of hundreds of thousands of infected computers at any given time, botnet controllers can use sheer brute force to bring down relatively unprotected websites just be directing thousands of traffic requests per second. Or they can use such an event to mask a more surreptitious attack into a bank’s online data.

via readwrite.com

Actually, file-sharers buy more legal music than everyone else | VentureBeat

A study has found that music fans who use peer-to-peer file sharing services actually purchase more music, on average, than those who stay completely legit.

The study by the American Assembly, a nonpartisan public policy think tank housed at Columbia University, found that file sharers purchase around 30 percent more music than non-file sharers. File sharers also have much larger music collections, naturally, with a big boost to their libraries provided by files they’ve downloaded without buying.

The study is merely the latest to confirm what proponents of P2P file sharing have been claiming all along: People who use P2P technologies are actually the music industry’s biggest fans.

Music sources by age

Via Torrentfreak, venturebeat.com

Customers =/= criminals.

Members of Congress trade in companies while making laws that affect those same firms

One-hundred-thirty members of Congress or their families have traded stocks collectively worth hundreds of millions of dollars in companies lobbying on bills that came before their committees, a practice that is permitted under current ethics rules, a Washington Post analysis has found.

The lawmakers bought and sold a total of between $85 million and $218 million in 323 companies registered to lobby on legislation that appeared before them, according to an examination of all 45,000 individual congressional stock transactions contained in computerized financial disclosure data from 2007 to 2010.

Almost one in every eight trades — 5,531 — intersected with legislation. The 130 lawmakers traded stocks or bonds in companies as bills passed through their committees or while Congress was still considering the legislation.

via washingtonpost.com

How is this not insider trading? They have privelaged access to private information, and use that information to make personally profitable trades on the stock market. Depressing!

Shareholders Sue Facebook, Zuckerberg and Banks Over Botched IPO

In a lawsuit seeking class action status, filed in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, Facebook shareholders are suing the company, co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and several banks including lead underwriter Morgan Stanley.

The lawsuit claims shareholders were duped by the hiding of Facebook’s weakened growth forecasts.

Write Reuters’ Dan Levine and Jonathan Stempel:

The defendants were accused of concealing from investors during the IPO marketing process “a severe and pronounced reduction” in Facebook revenue growth forecasts, resulting from increased use of its app or website through mobile devices.

via thenextweb.com

Pay Facebook to Force Your Friends to Read Your Updates

Only 12% of your friends see your average status update, but Facebook is testing an option called “Highlight” that lets you pay a few dollars to have one of your posts appear to more friends. Highlight lets the average user, not Pages or businesses, select an “important post” and “make sure friends see this.” A tiny percentage of the user base is now seeing tests of a paid version of Highlight, but there’s also a free one designed to check if users are at all interested in the option.

Facebook is playing with fire here. The service has always been free for users, and a pay-for-popularity feature could be a huge turn off, especially to its younger and less financially equipped users who couldn’t afford such narcissism.

via techcrunch.com

Viacom so devastated by piracy that CEO gets $50 million raise

Last year, Viacom, whose Paramount subsidiary is an MPAA member, told the Wall Street Journal that “a new wave of digital piracy could threaten the US media business” if it lost its copyright infringement case against YouTube. Similarly, the MPAA has argued that “when profits are reduced, the studios have fewer dollars to invest in movies, and when there is less money to invest they make fewer movies and the diversity and variety of films we love become more limited.”

 

So we were interested in this CNN story on the 20 biggest CEO pay raises. The winner? Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman. He got a raise of $50.5 million in 2010. That represents an impressive 149 percent pay increase from his 2009 compensation of $34 million.

Iit makes us wonder about the merits of spending even more taxpayer dollars (and trampling civil liberties) to better protect Viacom copyrights. Making movies seems pretty profitable as it is. And it seems a bit counterintuitive for a company that says its business is threatened by piracy to be so lavish with executive compensation. Neither the MPAA nor Viacom were willing to comment on this story.

 

Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs via NYTimes.com

TODAY is my last day at Goldman Sachs. After almost 12 years at the firm — first as a summer intern while at Stanford, then in New York for 10 years, and now in London — I believe I have worked here long enough to understand the trajectory of its culture, its people and its identity. And I can honestly say that the environment now is as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it.

To put the problem in the simplest terms, the interests of the client continue to be sidelined in the way the firm operates and thinks about making money.

Heartfelt and inspiring piece by one of Goldman Sachs’ prominent veterans, putting a magnifying glass to the politics and internal culture of one of the world’s most influential investment firms, revealing the widespread corruption and greed at work.

While the bravery in quitting his job and coming forward to attack what he sees as wrong is inspiring, the heart of the piece leaves me more than a little pessimistic about the financial sector.

Throw the Bums Out and Ban Them From Lobbying

Let’s take The STOCK Act, authored by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Scott Brown (R-Mass.), which would ban trading by members of Congress guided by “nonpublic economic or political information.” The problem with the bill? As The Huffington Post reported on Jan. 26, while the legislation bans trading, it does not bar legislators from returning favors for companies whose stock they hold. Sen. Scott Brown, who owns up to $50,000 of Bank of America stock, used his leverage to not only carve out an exemption to the Volcker Rule that allows banks to keep betting in the securities markets with taxpayer money but axed a plan that would have required banks to pay into an emergency fund to cover the costs of their failures.

So you can bet that when justifiably outraged voters replace Brown with Elizabeth Warren, he’ll simply shrug it off since he’ll look forward to a cushy job as a lobbyist for the banking industry.

This level of corruption is why nothing gets accomplished on Capitol Hill, whether it’s campaign finance reform or financial dis-services reform. What typically happens when the members of Congress in charge of election reform have a discussion about it? In a 2006 hearing before the Senate Governmental Affairs committee in which the topic was dispensing contributions to members so they’ll vote a certain way, not only did only two of the 16 members sit through the hearing but the man designated to draft a reform bill was now-presidential candidate Rick Santorum. In 2006 Santorum led all federal candidates in contributions from lobbyists and family members, taking in roughly $500,000, according to the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP). While in office, Santorum held regular breakfast meetings with K Street power players, which included circulating a list of open jobs at trade associations.

This is seriously scary stuff. It seems like corruption is built into our leglative system at the most fundamental level. When even the people who are supposed to directly represent us can’t be held accountable for their actions, the people, and the nation itself, begins to be held hostage by forces outside Constitutional control. Is it too late to reverse the tide of Washington insider trading?

Siri’s Data Conundrum: Dueling opinions from The Washington Post, GigaOm

Cell and data networks are like any common resource; they have limits. And once they hit their limit, regardless of which group is using its share and then some, there’s no more to go around.

This means that Siri’s data-hogging ways are a problem for more than just those willing to foot the bill. As networks become congested, everyone’s service deteriorates. Private desire becomes a public issue. Calls are dropped or never completed; Internet access slows. First-class airline passengers don’t really compromise service for those in coach. But bandwidth hogs do.

Other than Siri’s incessant “Sorry, I can’t connect to the network right now.” these concerns seem a little overblown, at least in early 2012.

In fact, much of his premise – that nothing can be done about it – was easily refuted almost completely by a subsequent GigaOm posting, which clearly laid out some very serious flaws in the author’s argument.

But I take the author’s point – how long can we expect to keep driving up the very upper end of data consumption for the tech savvy, while not increasing costs for everyone across the board?